Sunday, February 23, 2014

The Andis Kaulins in China Diary Entry for February 17 to February 23, 2104

  • My first regular week of work since early January.
  • I spend my time trying to get back into my groove of talking to students and working on my projects.
  • I watched old World Series Games that I downloaded from Youtube.

Monday [February 17]
[Home Laptop]
  • It is a cold and wet day outside. I have stayed indoors except to bring Tony to school, then to receive him from school, and to check out the e-bike.
  • Tony is back to school and so we return to our miserable existence.
  • In the daytime, I spent my time with my Apple products. I listened to podcasts on my Ipod, read parts of some books on my Ipad, loaded, loaded e-books and video on my Ipad (that were downloaded from the Internet), watched the first inning of the seventh game of the 1971 World Series on my Apple TV, and then watched a two hour documentary about the pianist Glen Gould on my Apple TV.
  • The documentary of Glen Gould was interesting. But there was so much footage of him walking about being thoughtful and photos of him staring sternly at the camera that you had to wonder if his image of eccentric genius was a calculated pose. Be that as it may, I watched the documentary with rapt attention. A few things I learned about Gould will stick with me. The fact that his mother was 43 when he was born seemed to explain a lot about his eccentricity. I found his supposed desire for solitude to be inspiring. I was happy to learn that he felt guilt upon the death of his mother – he thought he had neglected her [a feeling I had with my father.]. When he died, much of his estate was left to the Salvation Army – If I ever return to Canada, I would like to volunteer for them, ringing bells trying to getting donations at Christmas time.

Tuesday [February 18]
[Home Laptop]
  • Snow! It started just after we got Tony up to go to school. As I brought Tony out to be picked up, the snow was sticking to cars. An hour and a half later, it was staying on the ground.
  • On my computer, I was disappointed to see that my Glen Gould download hadn't been completed. As I type this, it is 88.8 percent completed.
  • Tony was saying he was cold when I took him to be picked up.
  • Because it was snowing, Tony & I both carried umbrellas as we walked to the meeting point. And so I carried my lunch bag for him. As the car left to take Tony to school, I realized that the bag was still in my hands, and so I had to run after the car. The driver saw me just as his car got on the road. On a previous instance, the car had driven away as I was still holding the bag. That time, I realized when it was too late.
[School Laptop]
  • Not so much snow downtown.
  • I work 13:00 to 21:00.
  • I am not in the swing of things yet. And I hope the yet is true.

Wednesday [February 19]
[School Laptop]
  • My Glen Gould radio programs downloaded last night. I loaded some them onto my Ipod but their volume level was so low that I couldn't listen to them on the bus.
  • I work 13:00 to 21:00 today. Hopefully, my students will all show up. It was my luck, but I felt guilt, to have my students in 19:00 and 20:00 classes cancel. While I was able to get home early, it didn't make my day more pleasant. Jenny was drilling Tony on his subtraction and it was painful to watch and listen.
  • A new Apple TV is coming out. So what I have is already out of date. Oh well.
  • I downloaded from a Youtube a clip of the finale of the film the Graduate. There is a student Elaine whom I would like to show the clip.
  • Trainer at school says he has a stalker. This stalker sends him crazy love notes.
  • 13:00 no-show. Three no-shows in a row.
  • I am listening to the audio version of the Man Who Loved China by Simon Winchester. It is a book about a sinologist and all-around fellow named Joseph Needham. Needham was a Nudist – good, but a man of the Left – bad.
  • I read to Tony at bedtime. He likes these Thomas books I found on the Internet and loaded on my Ipad.

Thursday [February 20]
[School Laptop]
  • I work 10:00 to 21:00 today. As I have said before and I will say again, this is the longest day of my so-called work week.
  • I saw my old bus mate Sophia at the McDonald's this morning. She got a new job and works in the building that contains the McDonald's which I go to almost every day I am at school. Of course, I remembered her name as soon as she left.
  • I come to school with a depressed feeling – the sadness seeming to be more physical than mental.
  • I can't use We Chat on my school laptop. It doesn't have the physical memory anymore to do this.
  • Last evening, I had a student who told me she sees her daughter, who is not yet of primary school age, once a week on Saturday night. She told me that she and her husband have to work long hours to be able to afford the big house they need so they have the in-laws look after the child. I told her that it seemed so sad that she and her husband had to do this.

Friday [February 21]
[School Laptop]
  • Tony was good yesterday. That what's Jenny told me. This morning, as I took him to get picked up to go to school, he was in a good mood because he knew it was Friday.
  • My shift today: 11:00 to 21:00. I go to the city hall, to talk about art, and then have three classes in the evening. [I think I will talk about my shift times at school. Not more will I call them work times.]
  • Last night, I boarded the 635 bus sitting beside a girl who beamed at me as I took my seat. She began to talk to me in English. Her English name was Muse. A good name I told her. Upon learning I was from Canada, she told me she liked Justin Bieber and Adele. Instead of telling her what I really thought of them, I told her I was too old for that sort of music. She also told me she liked Mr. Bean. To that I told her, in the most simple and diplomatic way I could, that most foreigners didn't care for his physical brand of humour and preferred most verbal humour. She told me then that the man playing Mr. Bean had a PhD. To this I expressed surprise. She helped me read aloud a passage from a page of the New Practical Chinese Reader that I had on my Ipad. This reading I found to be tiring, though not tiresome. I got her WeChat i.d. -- I was being friendly. I had a WeChat conversation with her with I got home. She asked me to looked at photos of her that she had posted on the app. They showed a pretty girl with a violin (she had told she played violin and that it was boring. She was good enough at it to play in front of audiences), her with her boyfriend, and a photo that I could only say was pornographic. This photo she had gotten from the Internet -- I assumed for I didn't look at it closely. She then asked me what I thought of her photos. I could only say interesting and made no reference to that photo – I would have liked to have told her that it was inappropriate.
  • I put on the Apple TV last night and so Tony & I watched a Youku video on the big screen. The picture was amazing both Tony & I thought.
  • It hasn't been so busy at the school and I have this feeling that I am not doing anything productive. I keep myself busy studying things but I ultimately leave school with a feeling of dissatisfaction. Did I teach the students anything? Am I doing anything productive? It seems that Tony & Jenny are busier than me.
  • Of course, I have to do something about this. But what? It seems I have missed the boat on a lot of things in my life and it is getting too late to correct the things I didn't do.
  • [Later] I went to City Hall. I choose to talk about Art. I didn't look at my watch and wouldn't you know it? The time ran. I hadn't bothered to look at my watch the whole class through.
  • If only all classes could be like that.
  • I read that the Physicists say reality is discrete not continuous. The smallest thing that there can possibly be is measured by the Planck constant or so that is how I read it.

Saturday [February 22]
  • My shift today: 10:00 to 18:00.
  • I saw three things:
  • Last night, as I left the school, I saw a poor man carrying a stick with bags on both ends on his shoulder. How did he end up that way?
  • This morning as I go to work, I see a man sitting on the street, his head against a tree. I assume he was drunk.
  • I can't recall the other thing I saw now. Maybe, I meant to mention one of my young students, who was very talkative and with with whom a class is basically nodding as he does a monologue. Toward the end of the class, he went on and on about the Japanese and their apparent denying of the Nanking massacre. To his credit, he did mention the evil that his government did in '89.
  • Maybe this was the third thing. Last night at bedtime, Tony was watching a train video on my Ipod. I lay in bed beside him turned away from him. I heard the audio from the video and then began to hear him snoring. I flipped over to see him fast asleep with the Ipod in his hand. He had nodded out while watching the video to my amusement.

Sunday [February 13]
[Home Laptop]
  • No shifts to report today.
  • The thing to do, last night, was stay at home where I loaded more books on my Ipad (including a novel on North Korea recommended by the Derb), put together a second video of Tony in Hong Kong (which is now on Youtube and is entitled Hanging Out with Tony Kaulins #5), finished reading Macbeth, finished the GA Henty Novel I was reading, blogged, and downloaded episodes of Kenneth Clark's Civilisation from Youtube.
  • I got out of bed at 10:30 AM. I had tried to organize and classify the books I have on my Ipad; but I found that some books could be classified in many ways or couldn't be classified at all. Some of the books I classified on the basis of the vague impression they left on me.
  • Jenny is making Tony do homework in the afternoon. Sigh.
  • [Later] As Tony was being made to do his homework, I put on the Apple TV and watched the opening innings of the fifth game of the 1969 World Series. The video I downloaded from Youtube which I can do in China because I have a VPN connection.
  • After Tony did his homework, the three of us went to the Hui Shan Wanda Plaza Starbucks. I read about some paradoxes in the Other Limits of Reason by Nolson S. Yanofsky. Is time and space discrete or continuous? No human knows for sure.
  • Dinner at Pizza Hut.
  • I type on the laptop. I watch the final innings of the 1969 World Series game. Baltimore's pitcher hit a home run! New York's pitcher had a double.
  • I await the start of the Canada – Sweden Olympic Hockey Final.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

The Andis Kaulins in China Diary Entry for February 5 to February 16, 2014

  • This diary entry recounts the few days spent after our Spring Festival stay in Beixin, our time spent in Shanghai, our journey to Hong Kong and back, and the first few days of our return to Wuxi and my return to work.
  • Being in holiday mode, I have departed from my normal way of dating the entries in this diary. Usually, I will date the entries on the day they were first written. In this blog entry, I have dated some of the entries for when the events took place, not when they were written about.

Wednesday [February 5]
[Home Laptop]
  • It is raining outside. The K family stays at home.
  • Jenny watches to get the stench of smoke out of the clothes that were taken to Beixin.
  • J's parents and every one else in Beixin smoke.
  • I will spend the day at home doing computer things if Tony lets me.
  • Typically, I am doing things on the laptop and Tony then wants to play Train Simulator. [Train Simulator can only be played on my laptop.]
  • I watched Adam's Rib. While doing so, I posted some screen shots of it to We Chat!
  • I am almost finished 32 Shorts Films about Glen Gould. It makes me want to act eccentric.
  • Only problem is that I am not a genius in any way.
  • My new personal policy is to never think of myself as nothing special.
  • On the 7th, we will go to Shanghai and stay at the 2013 Shanghai Expat of the Year's pad.
  • Hong Kong has a train museum I learn doing some research on the Internet.
  • Hong Kong has a train that goes up a mountain as well I have learned.

    Thursday [February 6]
    [Home Laptop]
  • Another cold and rainy day.
  • Tomorrow, we go to Shanghai. We will spend a day there before we take a plane to Hong Kong.
    I will be staying at Casa Rudkin. Sir Paul tells me that he has an extensive supply of alcohol.
  • I haven't begun to pack yet for Hong Kong.
  • Yesterday was spend at home. I didn't leave Casa K for any reason. I watched two movies and played on my electronic devices.
  • I phone my Mom, who is in Manitoba, last night. Telling her about not being able to take a shower in Beixin, she recounted how she couldn't take a shower when she went to Latvia in the 1990s.
  • Safeway in Manitoba is being bought out by Sobey's I learned. I spent a lot of time wandering Safeway aisles in my time.
  • We talked a little about Downton Abbey. Apparently, my sister Benita is keen on the show as well.
  • David Warren is making a point of journalizing every day on his anti-blog.
  • In the afternoon, we go downtown so Jenny can get Hong Kong dollars.
  • We have lunch at KFC.
  • While Jenny goes to bank, Tony & I hang out at Starbucks.
  • Afterwards, we go to the deluxe hot pot place near Wu Ai Lu. [It is called Hi Da Lao Hot Pot]
  • Back at Casa K, Jenny is peed at me because I ate all the Hershey's Kisses. No point in defending myself to her, but I will say here that she shouldn't have left them on the counter.

    Friday [February 7]
    [Ipad Mini and therefore the entries are very short.]
  • Wuxi rain.
  • Taxi to train station
  • Packing decisions
  • Arrive in Shanghai at 1500.
  • Crowds of people returning from holidays.  So it seemed crazy.
  • Took line 1 and 2 to get to Sir Paul's.
  • He meet us at station.
  • Walked in rain with bags to his apartment.
  • Talked and talked.  
  • Harry their dog kept attacking Tony.  Even seemed to be humping T.
  • Apple TV. I must get! Sir Paul has one and it is a wonderful tool.
  • Tony liked Apple TV and so he hogged it.
  • Took subway to The Grandma's restaurant. They have them in Shanghai as well.
  • J said I talked loudly on subway ride back
  • Blame it on Crown Royal!

Saturday [February 8]
[Ipad Mini]
  • In Shanghai.  In morning, open curtain to see sun.
  • See lots of foreigners as we go about.
  • Morning. Go to Mr. Pancake for breakfast. That was good.
  • Afternoon, Tony & I go the Shanghai Science and Technology Museum. The building was impressive but the museum was a bore. It was meant to be interactive and educational. Interactive displays in China mean having to stand in long lines. Interactive exhibits in museums are more educational than entertaining. You couldn't have paid me any amount of money to waste memory on my Ipad if these exhibits had somehow been turned in Apps.
  • Tony got his money's worth.  Dad didn't.  (Tony had free admission.)
  • The evening was spent at Sir Paul's.
Sunday [February 9]
[Ipad Mini]
  • We rode the Maglev Train to the Pudong Airport. The Maglev station is a ten minute walk from Sir Paul's. Top speed was over 400 kmh.
  • At airport, Tony whiny.  Absolutely insisted on his parents buying him toys. He also said that he was scared to fly.
  • Flight delayed 20 minutes.
  • What to do in HK?
Monday [February 10]
[Ipad Mini]
  • Prudential hotel:  good location in the middle of Kowloon.  It is above the Jordan MTR stop.
  • Only problem:  Wifi No Wifi in rooms unless you pay for it.
  • Before flight, Tony was scared.  After, he was happy.
  • Train ride from airport to Kowloon was great.  Rode along coastline.
  • We are in room 1216 in Hotel.
  • Sunday evening:  walked around hotel.  The area was very touristy.  An very diverse collection of non-Chinese.  There seemed to be a lot of Turks and Pakistanis.
  • Girls wearing shorts and short skirts.  I have to give a second glance.
  • Jenny annoyed the K boys by spending twenty minutes in a cosmetics chain store.
  • On Monday, plan: go to HK railway museum, take Star Ferry, and buy Apple TV unit.
  • Monday, we did go to museum.  We took MTR there.  Transferred two times.  At Tai Po Market, we couldn't easily find the museum.  I had to pull out the Ipad instructions.  Museum was small.  However, it wasn't crowded and Tony enjoyed himself.  He had to, however, take my camera so he could run around with a group of older boys.
  • On the MTR, a pair of older women looked at Tony and looked at me.  His mother is Chinese I told them.  They gave me a thumbs up.  In fact, many HKers liked Tony.
  • Few foreigners at Tai Po Market area.
  • HK has lots of mountains and skyscrapers.  Downtown streets are narrow.
  • After HKRM, Tony & I return to hotel.  Tried to get a hold of Jenny via Wifi  No response. So, we go to Star Ferry area.  Tony didn't want to go on boat so walked the Avenue of Stars.  Found Bruce Lee statue where Tony hammed it up.
  • Then back to hotel so I could find Apple store address.  Found it was at Kowloon Tong in a large shopping mall.  I got my Apple TV.  I used Wifi to contact sir Paul in Shanghai.  I sent him a photo of the store's Apple logo.  He asked me for a photo of the Apple TV unit.  He got it.  I also did a brief FaceTime call with him.
  • We took the train back to hotel where we meet Jenny in the lobby.  She had had a nap.
  • The K family then wandered around Kowloon.  I bought a Turkish doner.  Jenny then took us to a simple restaurant to have seafood.
  • Sometime during the day, it seemed the train was too crowded.  We found a car that wasn't so crowded because someone had vomited on the floor.

Tuesday [February 11]
[School Laptop]
  • This was HK Disneyland Day.
  • We took the MTR from the Hotel (above the Jordan Stop) to get to the HK Disneyland Resort stop. Had to transfer to two trains to do so.
  • We had a fright at the first subway stop. I ran to get on the train whose doors were open and just as I got inside the automatic doors closed, but J&T were still outside. I tried to pry the doors open and got caught in them. They automatically opened, thankfully, and J&T got inside, but I felt stupid and sheepish. I was relieved that we didn't get separated then. I don't know what I would have done.
  • The Day at HKD was as expected and so it was not a bad day overall. We didn't see all we could have seen. We had to wait in long lineups. Some of the rides were quite corny. But some of the rides were quite interesting. The space roller-coaster, the one that goes in the dark, was scary. The spinning teacups gave one an interesting dizzy sensation. The rides through Toy Story land, It's a Small World land, and the Winnie the Pooh land were quite well done. I got my HKD Fridge magnet. Tony enjoyed himself. He particularly liked the train that went around the entire park. Jenny would have liked to have two days in the park to see everything.
  • Mickey Mouse blankets were on sale that day and lots of visitors to the park could be seen wearing them. I read in the papers the next day that our HKD day was the coldest February day in HK since the 1990s.
  • Our plane back to the Mainland was to leave 11:00 the next day. As the clock was making its way to 18:00, I was itching to get back to our hotel.
  • Jenny did a lot of shopping in HK and so when we did go back to our hotel room, we had to buy ourselves another suitcase to take Jenny's purchases back. I thought to go to the outdoor tourist (possibly fake goods) markets to buy there, but Jenny ended up purchasing a suitcase for 770 HK dollars at a luggage shop near our hotel (the Prudential).
  • We had supper at a street food place in downtown Kowloon. I drank a bottle of San Miguel beer. I also ate a doner roll from a Turkish restaurant.

Wednesday [February 11]
[School Laptop]
  • Our trip to the Airport for our 11:00 flight to Shanghai went like clockwork. I had been worried that we would oversleep or that someone would be slow to move, but we were out of the hotel at 7:30. We took the regular MTR to get to the Airport Shuttle stop where we then had to buy another set of tickets.
  • In the airport security, I had to take a lot of HK coins out of my pockets.
  • Tony fell asleep on the plane so he didn't cause us any problems. However, in the terminal, he wanted me to carry him. He was tired and at HKD, I had put him on my shoulders so he could watch the parade (quite good actually as they played very catchy music.)
  • The food on the Dragon Air flight was the worst I had ever had. But we get a small cup of Haagen-Daaz Ice Cream which was solid like a rock till it melted which wasn't soon enough for me.
  • A two hour flight doesn't seem long at all if you have ever flown from China to Canada.
  • Tony had told us that he was scared to fly planes. At the Shanghai airport on Sunday [the 9th], he was whining about how he was scared to fly. But he got over his fright during the flight to HK. On the way back, he was in heaven when he woke up and was able to look out the window [he had a window seat.]. I very much enjoyed watching him look out the window as the plane landed.
  • To arrive in Shanghai was to arrive in drab land. Tony wanted to take the train back to Wuxi but it wasn't to be as it would have been too expensive. We took a bus back to Wuxi which was depressing because immediately the locals seemed less interesting and more uncivilized. At the taxi station in the Wuxi Bus station, we stood in line with a lot of locals who looked like they had just taken buses from the countryside. I thought of a comparison that could be made between that line and a line in Disneyland.

Thursday [February 13]
[School Laptop]
[Note: I will talk about what I did on the 13th in my entry for the 14th. I will instead record some of my overall impression of Hong Kong.]
  • HK people, like the English, drive on the wrong side of the road. It was my first time to be in a place where the cars are right-hand drive and thus are driven on the left side of the street.
  • The traffic in HK is fast. I wasn't once cut off by a car or bus as I crossed the street, and I didn't seen anyone else cut off either.
  • There were lots of double-decker buses.
  • Students were already attending school unlike the mainland where they had a week yet of holiday.
  • HK is a level or two up on the mainland for modernization or civilization. However, there were seedy aspects to it. There were lots of people standing about with the empty-gazing look of drug addicts.
  • HK is very multicultural I saw a mosque there which on an electronic board with lit-up type I read a sign that said “There is only one God and Allah is his prophet.” I saw lots of people with different hues of skin that I hadn't seen in Wuxi or Shanghai.
  • I didn't see any KFCs.
  • I saw Watson's which can be found in Wuxi. I also saw Manning's which was its competitor. No Manning's in Wuxi.
  • The subway system is quite good. I was surprised that you could transfer to another line by crossing the platform. I had expected that I would have to walk up and down some stairs, and then through tunnels to transfer.
  • I saw containers piled ten high in places.
  • I saw little evidence of the fact that HK was part of the PRC. I didn't see the five starred red flag anywhere.
  • The coins were indistinguishable to me.
  • Tony behaved at times well and at other times terribly. He was constantly whining about wanting me to buy him toys. He didn't want to take the star ferry. But then at the Bruce Lee statue he hammed it up and I was able to take some great photos of him. I was able to find a photo of me at a statue in Holland that compared quite remarkably with Tony at the Avenue of Stars.
  • Not having a mobile phone can be a pain in the ass if you are with your wife and child. To be separated from them can be scary. In a big store at HKD, I couldn't find them for two minutes. With a mobile in hand, I would have phoned them.

Friday [February 14]
[School Laptop]
  • Back to work. I work 9:00 to 17:00 which isn't a normal working shift for me. It is a special day on the Chinese calender.
  • Yesterday, I spent at home recovering from the holiday slash vacation. I did get up early to deal with the electrical cord problem I had with my Apple TV unit (which I had purchased in Hong Kong). I looked for, but didn't find any adaptors or converters at Wanda or Tesco. Coming back, I was depressed at the prospect of how I was going to solve the problem. Where was I going to find the needed cord? I also worried that the unit would not work on the television at HK which was old, and not HD. It turned out that I already had a power cord, that came with my Nikon Coolpix camera, that I could use. How the thought came to me about the cord was a miracle.
  • And the Apple TV seemed to work fine though there was buffering problems and the HDMI cord seemed loose. Jenny doesn't like it because it uses too much power, in her opinion.
  • I am not back in the swing of things. I have podcasts to listen to, blog entries to make, books to read, and many things to get checked off on my to-do list.
  • It is Valentine's and Lantern Festival Day today. I won't be observing either though I will be talking about them.
  • The first class of the day went well though I was nervous at the start though I attribute that to my having drank a large Cafe Americano from 85 degree bakery.

Saturday [February 15]
[School Laptop]
  • The school closed at 5:00 PM on the dot last night.
  • Jenny & Tony came downtown. We walked to Nanchang Temple and then Nanchang Jie Bar Street. There was a lot of traffic, both vehicular and pedestrian. We had supper at a Burger King on Nanchang Jie Street because all the good Chinese restaurants were packed.
  • At about 8:00 PM we took the #25 bus home.
  • At Casa Kaulins, we played on our many Apple devices including the Apple TV.
  • I work 1000 to 18:00 today. I have but four classes. My first one will be at 11:00. My final class will end at 17:00.
  • I am not yet up to fulfilling the obligations I set for myself on my to-do list. Today, I will work on editing this diary entry.
  • A lot of poo-pooing the idea of going to Hong Kong among the foreigners at my school. I am glad I went. It was like going to a different country.
  • When watching the parade at the HK Disneyland, I had put Tony on my shoulders so he could see the parade. Since then, he has kept asking me to carry him everywhere. When asking me, he has been using a phrase he picked up from Jenny: I am so tired!
  • It gave me great pleasure this morning to force a car making a right turn to stop for me as I was crossing the street. I swear that Wuxi, China drivers are a life form on the level of weasels, toads, cockroaches, and maggots.
[Home Laptop]
  • There is a drop dead gorgeous girl, recently graduated from university, working at our school as a study adviser. I asked her what she did on Valentine's Day and she told me that she spent the evening at home because she had no “lover.” [Her use of the word “lover” was not meant in the sense that native English speakers would take it these days.] Her telling me this shocked me. There was no way a girl so pretty could not have a boyfriend. But it was also strangely gratifying for me. Not in the sense that I would have a chance with her myself, but some girls are so beautiful that the idea of them actually having relations with the male sex doesn't seem right. It is hard to think of any male, even me in my mind, who is the right man for her.

Sunday [February 16]
[Home Laptop]

  • No school today for me or Tony.
  • Tony goes back to school tomorrow. None of the K family is looking forward to that.
  • It is wet and cold outside Casa Kaulins.
  • Last night, I put together some video of Tony, taken in Shanghai and Hong Kong, that showed Tony with or on trains.
  • Theory: Chinese men think with their wallets, and not with their other thingee. So they look at a very beautiful girl and figure she is too expensive. Thus there can be pretty girls without boyfriends in China.

Hanging out with Tony Kaulins #4

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Dispatches from Akicistan #6

Gratitude:  I am thankful that my vacation did not depress me as much as I thought it would.

Acknowledgement: I have wasted great portions of my life. I could write a book about it called Chronicles of Wasted Time except it has already been done and the author at least was successful enough in an earthly sense to have been able to have the autobiography published. I, on the other hand, am a null, a non-entity but I going to have to get myself to get use to the moments of wincing about it that can't be helped.
Request(s): There isn't anything I can ask for these days.

What is Akicistan? It isn't a place. It is a state of mind that places cutting-edge state-of-the-art sticks in mud. The word Akicistan is formed from the initials AKIC and the root stan.

If Akicistan was an empire, it would comprise China, Canada, the Red States of the USA, Latvia, and the parts of the world that comprise Modern Christendom as well as ancient Christendom.

Akicistan news in brief:
  • Andis did nothing interesting in the first week of his vacation. He didn't go anywhere even in Wuxi.
  • Andis decided that he will try to watch the first three seasons of Downton Abbey.
  • Andis did one thing of not in the second week of his vacation. He took Tony to Shanghai for a day. Unfortunately, they got bored after half-a-day and had to spend three torturous hours waiting for the train that was to take them back to Wuxi.
  • Andis worked nine days in a row at his school before having another two week vacation/holiday.
  • Andis spend the first six days of the second vacation/holiday in Beixin with his wife's in-laws. He was bored silly.
  • The second week of the second v/h would be spent in Shanghai and Hong Kong.
Important Akicistan Links:

In Akicistan:

Some of us can speak Chinese! 对!我的儿子可以说的中文。我的中文?你们问的。我的中文不好。很不好!很很不好!! 明白?

We sometimes pay attention to China. Actually, with all the time off, I didn't spend much time paying attention to China.

We are fond of Canada! Listening to CJOB podcasts depresses about my prospects if I went back to Canada. The city of Winnipeg, I heard, is incapable of clearing snow. The medical system is sending patients, who are still sick, home by taxi.
We are fond of Latvia! On the Internet, I read a Latvian women cried when she heard the hateful comments made by New York governor Andrew Cuomo. She was reminded of what it was like to live in the Soviet Union.

The Politics are Conservative and Reactionary! Look at the quotes section below.

English is taught! I haven't been doing much English teaching in the start of 2014.

Citizens aren't freaks! Akicistanis keep to themselves.

Reading is the #1 Pastime! Here is what I had been working my way through the past week or so:
Don Colacho's (Nicolas Gomez Davilla) Aphorisms.  There are 2,988 of them in this book that I compiled for myself.  I try to read at least one aphorism a day.  I cut and paste the better ones -- they are all profound actually -- and I put them in the AKIC Weekly. (See below)
The Niomachean Ethics of Aristotle. After this, I will read Aquinas's Summa.

Ulysses by James Joyce.  I am following along with Frank Delaney as he slowly guides podcast listeners through Joyce's hard-to-read novel.  Delaney figures he will have the whole novel covered in about 22 years.  Delaney completed episode #191 recently and is working his way through the chapter that introduces Leopold Bloom. I am getting ahead of Delaney as far as reading the book.  I will be finished my reading of it, I figure, in a year. I read the novel despite its many blasphemies. It is best to be aware of this stuff because the world is full of it, and the world will always find a way of slapping you in the face with it

The Holy Bible (RSV-C2E version, aka the Ignatius Bible, and Douay-Rheims version).  I will read the two versions in conjunction. Last week, I finished reading the Book of Genesis. I am not in the Book of Exodus. In the New Testament, I am reading the Gospel According to Matthew.

Canada under British Rule 1760-1900 by Sir John George Bourinot. Finished. I felt I needed to bone up on some Canadian history. This book was informative. It was a little too optimistic about the results of the British Crown's dealing with the native population.

The Rise of Modern China by Immanuel CY Hsu. Finished Part One. A good book. David Warren recommended this history of China which pegs Modern China beginning with the fall of the Ming Dynasty.

The U.S. Civil War by John Keegan. Finished. Dan Carlin, the host of Hardcore History, has expressed a disliking of Keegan so I am now wont to think that Keegan has many merits. I wondered about Carlin when he weighed in on the U.S. Healthcare debate. All Carlin wanted was to have a bunch of experts get into a room and design a system – self-evident nonsense to anyone who knows anything about economics and how bureaucracies work. Anyway, someone who thinks like that clearly is full of it. Not to say that Carlin's podcast isn't interesting – it is the best and most professionally done history podcast there is.

Things That Matter: Three Decades of Passions, Pastimes and Politics by Charles Krauthammer. Finished. Krauthammer is a great pundit. He seems to be well-grounded and he has a good idea what it is that lib-dems and progressives are thinking.

Our Culture, What's Left of it: The Mandarins and the Masses by Theodore Dalrymple. Finished. Another great collection of essays by Dalrymple. I put him up with the following writers whose latest pieces, when ever I can come across them on the Internet, are must-reads for me: John Derbyshire, David Warren, Thomas Sowell, Camille Paglia, Peter Hitchens, Victor David Hansen, Steve Sailer, and Anne Coulter. In this collection of essays, Dalrymple writes about legalizing drugs (he is against it.), Africa (wonderful people there except when you give them government positions.), and evil that takes advantage of the modern attitudes of non-judgemental-ism and anti-limits.

Jeeves and the Wedding Bells by Sebastian Faulks. Finished. What Faulks attempted in this novel was very audacious: he sought to add a novel to the Wodehouse oeuvre. I think he pulled it off. The book is true to the spirit of the original. More importantly, it doesn't conform to the vulgarity of today.

Lord of the World by Robert Hugh Benson. Finished. The best novel I have read in years. It was written over a hundred years ago. It was prophetic in the manner of 1984. I suppose that because the novel is very Catholic, it is not well known which is too bad because it should be. I can't help but think that the character  Julian Felsenburgh, the novel's anti-Christ, bears a vague resemblance to Barack Obama.

Ameritopia: The Unmaking of America by Mark R. Levin. Finished. Not a great book. Levin is on the side of the angels, but there isn't much in this book that I hadn't known already.

Memorable quotes are presented and discussed!
Nicholas Gomez Davilla:
673 There is no need to expect anything from anyone, nor to disdain anything from anyone.
678 All peace is bought with vile acts.
686 Nobody who knows himself can absolve himself.
705 Doctrinaire individualism is dangerous not because it produces individuals, but because it suppresses them. The product of the doctrinaire individualism of the 19th century is the mass man of the 20th century.
709 Impartiality is the child of laziness and fear.
710 To be Christian, in accordance with the latest fashion, consists less in repenting of our sins than in repenting of our Christianity.
712 A cultured man is someone for whom nothing lacks interest and almost everything lacks importance.
722 Intentional, systematic originality is mediocrity's contemporary uniform.
725 Politics is not the art of imposing the best solutions, but of blocking the worst.
732 Modern psychology renounced introspection, not so much to obtain results as to obtain less disquieting results.
734 There are only instants. [On my todo list, I have the following written for constant referral: Focus on the present. For that is where your life really is. And it consists only of tests.]
736 Primitive man transform objects into subjects; modern man transforms subjects into objects. We can suppose that the former deceives himself, but we know with certainty that the latter is wrong. [What does this mean. This one is so pregnant with meaning and insight.]
737 For two centuries the people has borne the burden not only of those who exploit it, but also of those who liberate it. Its back is buckling under the double weight. [The people who fashion themselves to be the liberators often think they can defy the laws of gravity: hence the buckling and the doubling burden of taxes and bureaucracy with little to show for it.]
739 In order to convince our interlocutors, it is often necessary to invent contemptible, deceitful, ridiculous arguments. Whoever respects his neighbor fails as an apostle.[Can the English teaching fraternity in China stand together? I am afraid not. There are perverts among us.]
744 To mature is to see increase the number of things about which it seems grotesque to give an opinion, for or against.

David Warren:
There is poison in every "charitable" act done under external compulsion; poison for both the giver & receiver.

In both my experience and observation of others, I have noticed this. When an obstacle is created between oneself and God, an obstacle is also necessarily created within oneself. And until that is removed – or shifted, adjusted, or otherwise dealt with – one remains divided against oneself.

One embarks on a double life. And this can prove quite inconvenient to someone with only one soul.

George Jonas:
Like Obama a few generations later, Pearson received the Nobel Peace Prize for making the world a little more dangerous. Obama received his prize in advance, while Pearson's came as a reward for facilitating the efforts of a leading democracy (Eisenhower's) to save a military dictatorship (Nasser's) from the consequences of aggression, by forcing three allied democracies (Britain, France, and Israel) to leave the job unfinished. It was a high price to pay for a moral victory. And I suggest we are still paying for it today.

Charles Krauthammer:
the greatest threat to a robust, autonomous civil society is the ever-growing Leviathan state and those like Obama who see it as the ultimate expression of the collective.

The conscious deployment of a double standard directed at the Jewish state and at no other state in the world, the willingness systematically to condemn the Jewish state for things others are not condemned for—this is not a higher standard. It is a discriminatory standard. And discrimination against Jews has a name too. The word for it is antisemitism. [So much for poo-pooing the idea that opposition to the Jewish state is somehow not anti-Semitism.]

Theodore Dalrymple
He would have felt it tactless to obtrude where he was not really wanted; and (an almost inconceivable attitude today) he felt no bitterness at not being wanted. [How easy my life would have been if I had had that attitude. I will have to try to be that way for the rest of my life however. There is still a chance to redeem myself.]

The choice for Gillray, as for all persons of good sense, was never between perfection and hell on earth, but always between better and worse. [Gillray was a political caricaturist who lived at the time of Edmund Burke. Currently, it is Conservatism that is the better and Progressivism that is the worse.]

Horace’s famous line of two millennia ago comes to mind: they change their skies, not their souls, who run across the sea.

 Eric Voegelin
no one needs to participate in the aberrations of his time.”

Sebastian, Faulks from “Jeeves and the Wedding Bells.”
I’ve never really understood why girls fall for chaps at all, to be quite frank, but I suppose if a twenty-four-carat popsy like Pauline Stoker can declare undying love for an ass like Chuffy Chufnell then all things are possible. Women are, as my old housemaster had remarked, queer cattle.

Lists are made: Things I like about America
  • Old Hollywood Movies
  • Hollywood Musicals
  • Frank Sinatra Records.
  • Major League Baseball (before the wild card)
  • Rush Limbaugh
  • Right Wing Talk Radio
  • American Generous
  • Rock and Roll
  • American Rules Football
  • The National Football League
  • It isn't Europe.
  • It isn't China.
  • They are Canada's neighbours.
  • It isn't Mexico.
  • Their pop culture
  • McDonald's.
  • Pizza Hut.
  • Walmart.
  • Denis Prager
  • EWTN
  • Seablogger
  • American Fez
  • Babe Ruth
  • Joe Dimaggio
  • James Stewart
  • Westerns
  • The NRA
  • The U.S. Military
  • Charles Krauthammer
  • William F Buckley
  • Pamela Anderson* (She is an American citizen now.)
  • Mickey Mantle
  • Roger Staubach
  • Early Van Halen
  • Wendy's
  • Florence King
  • Flannery O'Connor
  • Mark Twain
  • Ambrose Bierce
  • Milt Rosenberg
  • Westerns
  • Cowboys
  • Jazz
  • Rock and Roll
  • Country Music

Thoughts are thought

  • As the Western world becomes gayer and more dysfunctional, kids who have a mother and a father are going to be persecuted on playgrounds.
  • I wish I could have been a butler, a chauffeur, or a monk. These are the professions that would have suited me. Alas, I live in the wrong age.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

The Andis Kaulins in China Diary for January 30 to February 5, 2014

  • The K family went to Beixin, just north of the Yangtze, for six days to celebrate the Spring Festival.
  • Andis finished reading three books while there.
  • He also watched three movies and four episodes of some TV series he liked.
  • Tony never got over his fear of fireworks.
  • Andis paid a visit to a Beixin Church.
  • Andis saw a ghastly sight.
  • The best part of the six days was the motorcycle ride to one of Jenny's other relatives' home.

Thursday [January 30]
[On the bus to Taixing where Jenny and Tony have already gone.]

Stragglers coming on the bus were mocked by driver.

The bus station wasn't crowded.  It seemed quiet.

Weather.  It seems it is sunny.  Smog makes it hard to tell for sure.

At the Taixing bus station, I was picked up by Jenny's brother.

He had a baseball bat, in his car trunk, which he said he used for hitting people.

In Beixin, I give the mother-in-law a big kiss. I hadn't seen her in over a year.

Friday [January 31]
Last evening, had big CNY supper at Mama & Baba's with two of J's brothers and their families.

Now, have 4 packs of cigarettes.

Yesterday, I tried to take Tony for walk but he was scared of the fireworks.

Y, I bought T a toy train.  Seller spoke English.

Last night, went to bed at 9.

Lots of FW at midnight.

This morning, went to visit relatives.  Happy to pose for photos with them.

Poor relatives moved.  Their home now above gutter.  One room home they have.  The ceiling was tarpaulin.  Roofing tiles laid on top of it.  Floor was cement. Photo of Mao on wall despite poverty.  Trash all around the house.  Frightful way to live.

Spending afternoon at home.  Tony lets me use Ipad.

Saturday [February 1]
Bathing here is torture.  For one thing, it is bathing.  There is no hot water in the shower.  Water is instead boiled and put in thermoses, and then it is mixed with cold water.  I do the washing with a plastic basin.  I then wipe myself with towels and rinse by pouring water on myself with the basin.

I have watched Blood Simple, an episode of Duck Dynasty, and A Stolen Life (starring Bette Davis).  All were okay.  Duck Dynasty was the most enjoyable.  Blood Simple was gory and dragged at times.  A Stolen Life was a classic though somewhat melodramatic.

I went for a walk at lunchtime.  I saw two things.

First, I saw a man whose face was a sight that could only be photographed for medical textbooks.  It was so grotesque that I had to look away and shudder that a human could have a deformity on his face.  His lower lip had swelled to such a size that from a distance it looked like he had a big loose piece of flesh dangling from his face.

I then looked for and found the Christian Church.  It was located behind buildings fronting a road.  To get to the church from the road, I had to walk down a narrow alleyway which I found between the frontage.  The church was enclosed behind walls.  I had found it because I did see its spire when I had been wandering in the fields which lay beyond it and the buildings fronting the road.  I would never have seen it if I had been walking along the road.

I walked through the church's entrance way, and my appearance caused quite the stir.  Shouts of foreigner! brought out a man who I assumed what the head of the place.  He gave me a tour of the grounds.  I  saw the chapel, saw some sleeping quarters and the dining hall.

The chapel had a wooden stage at one end -- I was reminded of a stage that you would see in a school gymnasium.  The congregants had long wooden benches on which to sit before the stage.  I didn't see any images or photos of Christ.  There were crosses on these plush fixtures at the side of the chapel.  I thought for a second that they were confessionals, but then examining them more closely, I saw they were too small and were probably for decorative purposes.  I picked up some of the books on the benches.  They were in Chinese.  The only English in them indicated they were published by the Seventh Day Adventists.  This didn't necessarily mean the church was of that sect.  I was able to figure out that one of a books was a Bible by looking for the characters for new and old in the titles of its two major subdivisions.

After looking around the chapel, I went to its back, passing a woman praying, I espied a box near the chapel entrance with a slot on top.  I said
to the man accompanying me, and getting a positive response, I made a donation.

The man then lead me to the dining area and sleeping quarters.  There were about a hundred people eating which explained the size of the kitchen's cooking pan -- it was the biggest I had ever come across.  I was asked if I wanted to eat, but I declined.  I felt rather shy about being there, I must confess.

The man showed me a couple posters he had on the wall.  They were full of Chinese writing so I took a photo of them to get a translation later.

I then posed under the church's entrance with the man and some others.  I awkwardly bade them farewell and wished them

Thus was my visit to the
北新 church.

I have spent the afternoon eating snacks. There is nothing else to do. I have seen all there is to see.

Sunday [February 2]
I finished watching Oklahoma! and reading Jeeves and the Wedding Bells.

In the afternoon, we went to the home of J's Shanghai relatives for supper

We were taken there by e-bike and motorcycle.  On the motorcycle, I rode with two others and I took some great video.

At the home, which was down some narrow lanes and in the midst of fields, lived a brother who had MS and a grandmother, in her 80s, who was hunched over.  I took photos with them thinking they would suit my purposes for blogging.  These two poor souls brought out the sappy sentimentalist in me.  The brother who had MS was always smiling at me, or so I thought.

The home while not in a prime location was spacious.  Too bad, there had to be garbage everywhere.

I had two beers at supper:  my first since coming to Beixin.

We were driven back to the in-laws compound by car.

Monday [February 3]
I forget to mention.  I played badminton with Jenny and then her Shanghai female relative on yesterday's excursion.

Today, we were driven to Jiangyan, a part of Taizhou.  Jiangyan, not Jiangyin, is said be where Hu Jiantao, spent his childhood.  We weren't in Jiangyan long.  We went to a tea museum and then picked up pizza at a Pizza Hut.  While the pizza was being ordered, I got myself a coffee at a nearby Starbucks.

I would have liked our visit to Jiangyan to have been longer.  The area we went to seemed worth exploring.  As it was, the drive to Taizhou and then back to Beixin afforded me some interesting sights.  I saw a yard where canal-faring barges were under construction.  I also saw a decorative erection of columns and pillars that reminded me of the Champs D'Elysee.  On the drive, I reflected on how vast China's population is and how massive it's development has been as well.

We passed a factory for a company called Elite.  I would have pronounced it E-Light because the E was highlighted so that it stood out from the lite.

I was thinking to throw my Starbucks paper cup on the street of Beixin.  It would elevate its street trash I thought.

It is cold today.  I have put on my long underwear just now.

One more night.  Tomorrow, we go home.

Oh.  The pizza was good.

Tuesday [February 4]
[I am typing this on the bus.]  We are on the way home!  Behind us, sit Alison & Vaughn.

How was my trip to Beixin?  I survived.  That's all I can say.

At midnight last night, the locals went crazy with the fireworks.  I recalled there was some tradition about the fifth night of the new year.

I finished reading Ameritopia by Mark Levin.  Levin is on the side of the angels, but this book was a bore I thought.  He spent too much time regurgitating Locke and Montesquieu, not enough time writing about himself.

We are on the freeway, and traffic has come to a halt.  We could be stuck in one of those notorious Chinese holiday freeway jams.

[Home Laptop]
The jam was just a temporary bottleneck caused by vehicles stopping at the toll gates of the Jiangyin suspension bridge. The traffic was slow enough that I was able to take some great video of the Yangtze.

I am in a daze. So many things to catch up on like blogging and emails and podcasts.

The Seahawks win the Super Bowl in a handy fashion. You can read the real story about it at the Wuxi China Expatdom Blog.

Wednesday [February 5]
[Home Laptop]
Well. That's it for this diary entry. I will publish it after some editing.

The next time, you will read this diary. I will have been to Hong Kong.

Happy Year of the Horse [and the Firearm, Harry!]!!