Sunday, December 29, 2013

The Andis Kaulins in China Diary Entry for December 23 to December 29, 2013

Highlights of this entry:
  • Andis weighed in on the Duck Dynasty controversy.
  • Andis didn't celebrate his birthday.
  • Andis & Jenny bought Tony lots of presents for Christmas.
  • Construction around Andis's school was very annoying.
  • Andis was listening to one particular son by the Yardbirds.
  • Andis got Friday off because his school had no electricity.
  • Andis listen to the audiobook version of the Politically Correct Guide to Socialism.

Monday [December 23]
[Home Laptop]
  • I now know who is Phil Robertson. He is the cool old dude on Duck Dynasty. Based on what I have seen of him in the show, I would trade him for a million progressive-metro-sexual-socialist men any day. He is the salt of the earth.
  • I watched the Halloween episode of Duck Dynasty – it ends with a prayer.
  • Tony slept the afternoon at home. Jenny pulled him from school when she went to bring him his lunch.
  • Tony spent the evening on the Train Simulator program. He was taking a passenger train and stopping it at stations.
  • He also understood what I meant when I told him that he had to put the train in gear before he could apply the throttle.
  • No work today.
  • I had a conversation on Twitter with a PhD student who had spent two years in China. He was very good at speaking Chinese and drinking so he had a good time in China. He now studies ancient middle civilization and has had to learn Greek, Latin, and other languages.
  • Having not spoken Chinese for eight years, he says he has forgotten it all.
  • I may publish Dispatches from Akicistan tomorrow.

December 24 [Tuesday]
[School Laptop]
  • I work 13:00 to 21:00 today.
  • It isn't my birthday today, or so Tony said when I tried to tell him that it was. “Not your birthday!” he said. “It is me birthday!”
  • I will indulge myself best I can today since it is my birthday. I won't worry so much about my to do list.
  • I won't mention it being my birthday to anyone at school. I only let my family and you, my rare readers, know.
  • I spent the morning at the dentist. I had to wait a little longer than usual – two people showed up before me. I then had to spend a longer time than usual on the chair – seventy five minutes. I choked when the dentist put my upper teeth in a mold. I started breathing through my nose and the dentist said Yes! Yes! Yes! Jenny wasn't with me at that point.
  • I indulge myself by watching video on the bus: I am watching the first part of the Franco Zeffirelli four-part series about the life of Jesus of Nazareth. I am at the point where Joseph & Mary are heading to Bethlehem to take part in a census.
  • I didn't publish Dispatches #4 today.

December 25 [Wednesday]
[Home Laptop]
  • Yesterday, my birthday, was a day of inconveniences. I went to dentist and spent longer there than I had planned. I then worked and didn't get any breaks like a no-show or a cancellation of a class – I had to do my full slate of classes. Taking the bus home, traffic was slow enough so that I missed my early connection with the 635 bus and so then had to wait for a later connection with the 635 which meant I had to stand for about thirty minutes on the way home.
  • At least, Tony was happy to see me when I got home. He had been eagerly anticipating my arrival home last night with his Christmas presents.
  • This morning, we slept in. Tony had opened all his presents on Christmas Eve.
  • We are not having a traditional Christmas day. There is no snow, no tree in the house, no decorations, and no Christmas turkey or Christmas ham. For lunch we have gone to the Xinjiang restaurant in the nearby Wanda Plaza. This afternoon, Tony is playing with his toys in the living room along with Jerry, the son of Jenny's friend Ling Ling. We will have dinner at home. Jenny is cooking up some chicken, her way.
  • On Facebook, I had a lot of birthday greetings. At school, I had one and I was embarrassed to get it. I said nothing about it to anyone there. Some things are just not shared.
  • I tried to wish to Merry Christmas to as many Chinese as I could today. However, I told the motorcyclists running a red light as I was crossing the street to do something nasty to themselves.

Thursday [December 26]
[School Laptop]
  • I work 10:00 to 21:00 today.
  • Christmas was too short. At 8:00 PM last night, it was time to pack things in because we all had things to do early in the morning like go to school or go to work.
  • And while I am in the complaining mood, Downtown Wuxi looked gruesome. Construction and the fog gave it a gray and brown tinge.
  • Walk into the McDonald’s near the construction and the floors are filthy with trodden-in sand and muck.
  • What happened in 2013? What happened in 2012? I am doing some English corners on the year 2013 and I don't want to get things mixed up.
  • Just for the record, I am listening over and over again to a song called Stroll On performed by the Yardbirds in the film Blowup. Listening to that song prompted me to listen to more songs in the Yardbirds' oeuvre, as I suppose the French might say, and I can say that Stroll On is the only good song they ever did and even then the song disappoints you with an abrupt end when you wish they could have carried on for another minute or so.
  • The teachers at the local high school in my area were working yesterday. Poor sots. All the teachers at Wuxi Public Schools had to work Christmas.
  • One of my students went to see the musical Momma Mia last night. He didn't like it and didn't much care for my singing ABBA songs for him either.
  • It is 11:10 AM and it is freezing in the office. So, I will put on my toque again. I am wearing my green military long underwear.
  • I told my students jokingly that Boxing Day was the one day of the year when you can walk up to a foreigner and punch him.
  • I read an article at Taki's Magazine site that said the whole Duck Dynasty controversy was a publicity stunt to get the hicks who like the show and support its morality to get up in arms and buy more Duck Dynasty merchandise. If that was the case, why would A&E suspend Phil Robertson? The writer would say that Phil Robertson would be reinstated after Christmas and sales of Duck Dynasty merchandise would have peaked. I think the writer is of a conspiratorial frame of mind.
  • Morrissey's published an Autobiography. I found an epub version of it on the Internet. I have started reading and have picked up many examples of bad grammar...
  • The construction around the school, that I have been complaining about, has given me one benefit: Friday, I have just one class to do because our building is not going to have any electricity. My class will be at the City Hall.

Friday [December 27]
[Home Laptop]
  • I just have the one English Corner at City Hall to do and I am free the rest of the day.
  • I had been hoping to have coffee with the True Git this afternoon but he has a bad cold and has to stay in Shanghai. I am not sure what I will do instead....
  • [Later]
  • Instead, I took photos of a subway stop in the Hui Shan District. As I took the bus to school this morning, I saw the subway station looking very forlorn beside a big empty field. I decided that in the afternoon, on my way home, I would get off the bus and take photos of the station. [You can see the photo at AKIC wordpress.]
  • On the way to the City Hall, I saw a government building – I could tell from the emblem over its entrance – and asked the handler what its purpose was. He told me that it the headquarters of the armed police of Wuxi. Military Police? I asked. He said it wasn't that kind of police but a department of the civilian police force that was armed.
  • During the English Corner, I learned that many of the civil servants had done a lot of traveling during 2013. They had gone to Moscow, Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Germany, and Chattanooga. I was embarrassed to admit I had gone a day trip to Shanghai once but otherwise did absolutely no traveling.

Saturday [December 28]
[School Laptop]
  • I work 10:00 to 17:00 today.
  • The intersection of Zhongshan and Xueqian Roads is ugly. The road and the sidewalks around it have been torn up. In the center of the intersection, a big hole has been dug. It isn't easy for pedestrians to make their way around the workers, holes, equipment, and piles of debris.
  • Yesterday afternoon, I was on the computer while Jenny was making and helping Tony do his homework – something I don't like to witness. Jenny, the tiger mother, screams at him, and Tony, the tiger mother's child, cries in terror.
  • In the evening, Tony & I walked to the Wanda Plaza Mall. We had dinner at McDonald's. I had a burger and wings. I had ordered the wings for Tony only to have him tell me he didn't want them. So I ate the wings and bought Tony chicken nuggets. While he ate the nuggets, I read to him from some storybooks which I had found for free on the Internet in pdf format. It was a nice moment and I couldn't have thought of a better way to spend a Friday evening.
  • A thought that came to me: Like my Dad who isolated himself in Brandon, I isolate myself in the Hui Shan District. He held and I hold political beliefs, and each of us probably obsessed or obsess about them. I at least know that it doesn't matter what I think, even if I am correct and the others are wrong. I suspect that my Dad was bitter because he was never listened to.
  • I shouldn't have asked the civil servants if Wuxi had a good year. They all seemed hesitant to answer the question. Finally one of them offered up the fact that some magazine said Wuxi was the best city in live on the Chinese mainland.
  • I just got a phone call from Jenny. Tony was looking for my Ipad Mini. I made the mistake of downloading a train simulator program on it last night and then showing it to him.
[Home Laptop]
  • I drool looking at this girl at school, but to talk to her.... uggh. Not much there.
  • I lost my temper in my second last of today. A student didn't understand the word “boat.” “What is a boat?” she asked. I tried to explain it to her using the word in three or four sentences, but then one of the other students, a little kid of 13, said ! I wanted to smack him in the head but thankfully didn't. As it was, I called him a stupid monkey three or four times, and told him and the other students that translating wasn't helping them...
  • It not the first time I have called the students and it won't be the last. Some of the students make sentences that aren't worthy of a monkey. Examples: “Everyone must eat vegetables to healthy!”; “I broke my pencil.”; “I sleep in my bedroom!”; and “I eat salad everyday!” [The student who made that sentence has earned the nickname salad boy from me!]
  • It isn't racist to call them monkeys because they aren't black.
  • I do call my son monkey even it is only to take the curse off calling the students at school monkeys.
  • I finished listening to an audiobook, on my Ipod, called the Politically Incorrect Guide to Socialism. Its author is Kevin D. Williamson. The book was great. Books denouncing Socialism are a dime a dozen but this book did mention some things I hadn't thought of myself. For instance, Socialism is such a bad system that even the best managers can get it to work. If you take a successful businessman from an industry and place him as the socialist head of the industry, with all the power of government to bear on the industry, he will achieve results no better than bureaucrats in the industry. Why? He won't have the proper price signals to help him make decisions. Also, the American education system is so bad because it is socialist.
  • I was reading about the War of 1812. That the British could have held the Americans to a draw was quite something. They were fighting the Napoleonic Wars in Europe at the time. The Brits were fortunate that many of the Americans didn't want to fight the war in the first place.
  • I am listening to the 23 albums of the Smiths and Morrissey that I downloaded via torrent.

Sunday [December 29]
[Home Laptop]

  • Didn't go to Church today. My excuse? No churches in the area...
  • I did take Tony to Pizza Hut for lunch.
  • He has a horribly running nose. He went through four Kleenexes while at the restaurant.
  • We were seated at a window and thus subject to gawking from passersby.
  • I then took Tony to his afternoon drawing class.
  • Then I meet Jenny. She took me to get my haircut at a salon in the Wanda Plaza. She was dismayed to discover that my head is unsymmetrical. She had been giving the hairstylist heck...
  • The hairstylist was a short slight fellow with thick lips and a pompadour haircut. Having listened to some Morrissey albums last night and thus perused the album covers, I couldn't help but think that the stylist would have been a Morrissey fan if he had lived in England.
  • Afterward, Jenny & I went to the Wanda Plaza grocery store. I took the groceries home, a rather arduous task, and Jenny went to pick up Tony at his drawing class.
  • I read that Phil Robertson had been reinstated on Duck Dynasty. Perhaps it was a marketing stunt.

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