Monday, March 31, 2014

Diary: March 25 to March 31, 2014

  • Do you consider yourself to be in exile, imposed or self-imposed? I toyed with this question during this week of the AKIC Diary.
  • I had to get myself a new pair of shoes – no an easy thing to do if you are size 47 like I am.
  • I discovered a new Wuxi Expat site.
  • I had some two breakfast days.
  • I saw the Wuxi Metro train doing test runs.
  • I accidentally deleted a lot of old photos.

Tuesday [March 25]
[Home Laptop]
  • Jenny came home early yesterday from her hometown, surprising Tony & I. We weren't expecting her till this morning.
  • She was too tired to make us supper so we went to KFC where they misunderstood my order.
  • It is raining this morning. So I wonder what I should wear when I go to work.
  • The truth is that I will be enduring the rain to get downtown for no discernible reason. The school is empty of students during the day. I will have a lot of time to putt around on my interests until the evening when I do have some students to talk with.
  • Jenny says they have found the wreckage of the missing Malaysian airliner. I went to Drudge and saw nothing definite.
  • Do you consider yourself to be in exile, imposed or self-imposed? This question was posed to David Warren and was answered by him in his latest blog entry. I am thinking to answer it for myself. Instead of trying to answer it in one entry. I will intersperse my diary this week with some thoughts that I have had about the question.

[School Laptop]
  • I am at school for a 13:00 to 21:00 shift.
  • I took the 25 bus which, these days, crosses the Hui Shan Big Bridge and parallels a Wuxi Metro Bridge. This morning while on the bridge, I saw the Wuxi Metro Train crossing its bridge – a first of what will be an not uncommon sight in the future.
  • The train is running prettily regularly on the line near Casa Kaulins, although it is not yet open to the public. Yesterday when I picked up Tony and took him home via e-bike, we saw the metro train running after we had actually talked of the possibility of seeing it.
  • Do you consider yourself to be in exile, imposed or self-imposed? The first thought I have about this is really to ask myself the first part of the question: Do you consider yourself in be in exile? I like to say I am, but if I am, what am I in exile from? I've never really had a home per se. I was born in Germany and quickly moved. My childhood was one of the base brat, always moving, never feeling a part of any place. Brandon, where my mother lives, was never really a hometown for me. I moved there in my last year of high school.
  • Am I in exile? I do feel I am not at home, but then I have always felt that way being the child of immigrants.
  • Of course, I did choose to move to China. But Canada never seemed like home to me. I was an outsider there much more than China.

Wednesday [March 26]
[Home Laptop]
  • I will be at school for a 13:00 to 21:00 shift today.
  • Last night, I didn't sleep very well. To pass the time, I tried to recall the division winners in Major League Baseball from 1969 to the present. After the baseball strike of the 1990's as well as the adoption of the wildcard, I can't recall with any precision who won the division titles. I can recall all the winners from 1969 to about 1986 easily. You would think I would have a harder time recalling further back in time who won, but I can't now tell you who won the World Series last year. I ceased to follow baseball closely when it adopted the wildcard.
  • Last night, to all hours, I also got out of bed to see how my downloading was going. On my Ipod, I was watching eight episodes, which became available all at once, of Rex Murphy's commentary on the CBC slowly download. As well, I watched the ninth episode of the Kenneth Clark Civilisation be downloaded as well. For some reason, the file I had of that episode wasn't complete.
  • Yesterday, I had a student talk me out of failing him. His indignation was more than I could handle. I had felt I had to fail him because his sentence-making was poor. Give him a word to make a sentence with and he would string together a sentence with a series of unrelated clauses where he tried to give me a definition of a word and then proceed to misuse it. I had to ask him many questions to get him to further show me he knew what the word meant. And often times, he would claim to know the word but only after I made an example sentence with the word to jog his memory. But I let him pass anyway. “I thought we were friends!” he said. This must be how the Chinese do business.
  • 635 Sophia was on the 635 last night and so I showed her a bunch of photos of Tony in order to make conversation.
  • The exile question. I have labeled myself as a gypsy – people who could be said to be exiled from birth.

[School Laptop]
  • I took the 25 bus. Dumb me, I didn't sit on the side of the bus that would have allowed me to take a photo of the metro train if it happened to be on its bridge near the Hui Shan Big Bridge. It wouldn't have made a difference if the train hadn't been on the bridge, but as luck would have, it was on the bridge and a great photo opportunity was missed.
  • Do you consider yourself to be in exile, imposed or self-imposed? Come to think of it, I have exiled myself within Wuxi. I live in the Hui Shan District, far from the city center. Heck even at work, I exiled myself in my office and into my silence. So maybe I have self-imposed an exile on myself.
  • There is an encyclopedia of Trains and Locomotives in my school's library. Tomorrow, I will take the book out and bring it to Tony. I may ask the powers that be if I can buy the book off them or get Jenny to ask them for me.

Thursday [March 27]
[School Laptop]
  • My shift today: 10:00 to 21:00.
  • It is sunny outside, a pleasant enough day.
  • I had two breakfasts this morning. At Casa K, oatmeal; at the Xueqian and Zhongshan Roads McDonald's, egg sausage sandwich and two hash-browns.
  • Rare readers of my blog and even more rare attentive readers of my blog may recall that I said something about a public bike stall being built near the Jia Zhou Yang Fang apartment building and another stall being built near the Jia Zhou Yang Fang bus stop. This morning, I noticed that the stall at an intersection near the apartment had been taken down and that only the stall near the bus stop was intact. The stall near the apartment had never been used and so it is curious that two weeks after having been built, it was taken down. Somebody made a mistake.
  • Yesterday, I was slapped in the face with a reality that actually showed that my approach to certain manners had been correct and I should never waver in my approach.
  • There is a hole beneath your nose.
  • Do you consider yourself to be in exile, imposed or self-imposed? I have to say that I am in an exile and that it is self-imposed. I choose to come to China; I choose to move to the fringes of Wuxi; I choose to marry the girl I did and to raise a child with her; and I choose to stay aloof from co-workers and other expatriates. The question is should I make efforts to get out of this exile? I don't think I should, at least for this within-Wuxi-exile.
  • I am in an exile that is self-imposed due to some inaction on my part. These are the exiles from my family and Canada, as well as the exile of the spirit that I have because of Wuxi and Wuxi Expatriates. These are exiles I have to take actions about.
  • Do you consider yourself to be in exile, imposed or self-imposed? There is an imposed exile we have by being born and having to deal with matters of living in this world.
  • I was listening to a podcast where the guest was rating and grading the presidents of the United States of America. Obama, the current president, was graded poorly. Obama had had a enormous opportunity but he squandered it, said the guest who did the grading. I will add that Obama talked of trying to transcend partisan divisions and pulling of a Ronald Reagan like feat of creating coalitions and changing the assumptions of political discourse, but failed – he didn't come close and quickly abandoned any efforts to do so as soon as he was inaugurated. Obama needed to do something to his movement which would have been like William F Buckley expelling the John Birchers from the Conservative movement, but he didn't. He let the crazies of his party control the discourse. He couldn't bring the nation above racialism to an America where skin colour didn't matter.
  • It may well be that Obama was doomed from the beginning. The movement he had built had no foundations and was nothing more than airy platitudes.
  • [Later] I went to a shoe store on Jia Feng or Jian Kang Road (anyway, not the road that goes around the downtown) to buy some shoes. It is the only place I know of in Wuxi that sells shoes larger than size 44. Unfortunately, the selection was not very good and the shoes I did think to buy were ugly as sin. They also wanted me to pay a lot of money for them and Jenny, who I got to talk them via phone, talked them down 600 rmb from the 900 they first asked for. I ended up walking away without the shoes and a quandary as to whether I should go back and buy them tomorrow.

Friday [March 28]
[School Laptop]
  • My shift today is from 11:00 to 21:00.
  • I won't buy the shoes from the shop. We, that be Jenny and I, will chance it and order a pair of shoes from the Internet. I got bad vibes from the clerk there anyway who seemed disappointed when Jenny started negotiating with here.
  • I sat on the proper side of the 25 bus this morning. That is, the proper side of the bus if I wanted to take a photo of the metro train if it happened to be on the bridge near the Hui Shan Big Bridge. Of course, the train wasn't on the bridge when I had my camera all ready.
  • I have a horrible class with horrible students, the kind that seem to suffer from clinical depression, at 8:00 PM this evening.
  • I did an English Corner about books last night, and out of fourteen people, only I and two students were actually reading books at the moment. Everyone else was too busy to read. So I had to spend a great deal of time with idioms using the work book like “throw the book at him” and “cook the books.”
  • I have brought home the train book I had seen in our school library. It is filled with lots of great photos of trains that I am sure Tony will enjoy. I hope to have Tony see the book this evening after he has done his homework. I have left it on a shelf in the bedroom. I told Tony to phone me this afternoon. If he does, I will tell him that there is a surprise for him on the shelf....

Saturday [March 29]
[School Laptop]
  • I have a 10:00 to 18:00 Shift today.
  • Tony liked the train book, when he was finally able to see it. I had tried three times, unsuccessfully by mobile phone, to tell Tony to see what I had placed on the shelf above our bed, but he still hadn't finished his homework.
  • My fourth try to tell him was made between classes at 7:55 PM. He was excited when he saw the book. When I arrived home later, he was carrying with him, clutching it like he does when he has gotten a new toy. When I arrived home, he even made a show of it for as I entered the apartment, by appearing from behind a couch with the book and exclaiming “I got it!”
  • The 635 bus, which I took home after class, was packed like a sardine can last night. I got on the bus early, when it was empty, and got a seat in the corner at the very back. I watched the end of an Astaire-Rogers film entitled Carefree. It wasn't a great movie, having a plot that was resolved rather convolutedly and it could have had more dance and song numbers; but the ones it did have were full of grace and Astaire singing that “Must you dance every dance with the same fortunate men” song made the movie worth watching again if only for that scene.
  • It is raining heavily this morning. I have my umbrella open in the office in order to dry it.
  • I listened to the latest John Derbyshire Podcast this morning. He made mention of an interesting way of categorizing people when he divided them into word people and thing people. Before hearing his explanation, I would have categorized myself as a word person – being not good with my hands and more cerebral in my interests. But Derbyshire said that Leftists are more word people because they believe that words matter and from words we can make the world a better place. Leftists are ones for changing the language and filling it with euphemisms. Conservatives, being more interested in the reality of the thing, find Leftist wordplay to be silly and divorced from a reality which could never conform to Leftist Utopian fantasies. So, I am a thing person in the sense Derb describes. But I am far removed from the world of practical manners of the hands on things people, nonetheless.
  • I see that there is a new website attempting to serve Wuxi Expats called Wuxi City Guide. It is the third attempt, that I know of, to do this. The first one, Wuxi Life, has becoming Wuxi Dead. It now is filled with advertising and occasional pleas from lonely Expats looking for companionship. The second site, Wuxi Guide Dot Net, died after its founder (the Ayatollah of Mordor) returned to his home and native land. For a short time, it had a lively group of commentators but it went to tears because too many of them were sexpats and worry warts about controversy. This new site does post some articles and is even attempting to get some forums started. I wish them luck, but I suspect that like the other sites it will fail to be lively and controversial enough, for despite being a small city, Wuxi is too big and its Expats are into too many disparate pockets to form one community.
  • And then there is my site attempting to mock Wuxi Expats called Wuxi China Expatdom, but that is another story....
  • Apparently the days when I first came to Wuxi: 2004 to 2006 were the good old days for the Wuxi Expat Community, and something happened, presumably the 2008 financial crisis, which resulted in a lot of tearing down and replacement with soul less shopping mall décor which torn up that community as well.
  • Of course, they didn't seem like golden days when I was experiencing them. Right now with a growing Tony, life is a lot better.

Sunday [March 30]
[School Laptop]
  • I work an extra shift today at school: 10:00 to 17:00.
  • Last night, I had to spend the evening looking for file recovery programs because I mistakenly reformatted a USB drive that contained a lot of old photos including from when Tony was born, portrait photos, and our first visit to Canada. Now, I know that a delete really means that an address is turned off with out the file actually being wiped, and that a complete scan of a drive can discover files, that though technically deleted, are still in place. So I had to look for software to do that. What I discovered was that these programs have a catch: you got to pay for them! So, I am looking for free recovery software via torrent.
  • If worse comes to worst, I can recover many photos from my blog and facebook sites. This may not placate Jenny who was really pissed at me.
  • So, I have to hope and pray that a recovery program can bring back all those old photos.
  • That problem ruined my evening and I fell a little, in a way, hung over about it this morning.
  • Students at #1 High School will be going to Yixing for four days for what seems to be a kind of spring camping outing. They will be living in barracks type accommodation, cooking their own food, and whatever other activities the students have planned.
  • I just had lunch: a beef wrap from McDonald's which seems to be advertised as being something healthy. But is not why I am making this entry. On the way to McDonald's I waited and then crossed, on a green pedestrian signal, the intersection at Xueqian and Zhongshan Roads. At the corner I cross, I usually try to make right-turning vehicles yield to me. The fact that the drivers never slow down and have no consideration for pedestrians always gets at my craw, as the expression I believe goes; and so I try to make the vehicles stop. Just now, I was unsuccessful as a square mini-van passed so close to me that I could see the color of the eyes of the drivers and passengers. I could then easily have punched or kicked the van with great effect but my nerve failed me.

Monday [March 31]
  • The last day of March. No shifts.
  • Yesterday afternoon, I got off work early and so went to the Baoli Carrefour and bought three tubs of the margarine the K family likes. Canola Harvest hasn't been available the Hui Shan Tesco the past two weeks. This trip was a rare chance for me to wander the Wuxi Downtown on a Sunday afternoon, and I saw foreigners who don't work at my school for the first time in weeks. To me, it now seems that foreigners have complexions that are pasty like milk.
  • From Carrefour, I took the 602to the Hui Shan Wanda Plaza where I meet Jenny & Tony at a newly opened Thai Restaurant. Jenny liked the food very much and in telling me so, she took a jibe at Xinjiang Food that we have disagreements about. I actually like the Thai food as well, though I still prefer Xinjiang Food. We had shrimp in curry sauce (it would have been better if the curry was Indian and not Chinese, and the shrimp were peeled), pineapple-fried rice, some beef on skewers, and a tarot salad – all very tasty. The restaurant is expensive however which on the good side, means the place isn't crowded, but on the bad side, means it is expensive. I give it four stars out of five.
  • I did try this Thai Beer. Brand name of Chang. It was alright. It tasted almost like a dark ale.
  • We then spent the evening at home. I was able to find a free file recovery program but I wasn't able to recover all the files I had deleted from the USB, and so I am going to have to go through my blog archives to copy the photos I posted. [Rare reader, you are invited to check out the archives as well. There is a lot of interesting stuff there.]
  • Tony and I finished watching One Million BC starring Raquel Welch. Tony really liked the film, not because of Raquel Welch, but because of the special effects, which though primitive by the standards of today, had a nice cartoon feel to them. The problem with the film was its convoluted ending. I suppose it was a vehicle to show a scantily clad Raquel Welch, but the film didn't suffer from poor production values and the world it depicted, though very unrealistic, was interesting. But the film had no plot. A battle between two tribes at the end of the film was interrupted by a volcanic eruption. Raquel and the other protagonists survived and that was that.
  • I wore the shoes Jenny bought on Taobao to work on Sunday. They fit pretty well. I was afraid, when I tried them on, that they would turn out to be too tight. So far, they feel tight but snug.
  • I used the free file recovery software but alas I didn't recover as many files as I had been hoping. I will earn Jenny's wrath again!! Aaaahhh!

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