Monday, March 3, 2014

The Andis Kaulins in China Diary Entry for February 24 to March 3, 2014

  • Not an eventful diary entry.
  • I had an English version of Windows XP put on my ten year old laptop.
  • I looked at some photos taken in Wuxi in 2004 to 2006.

Monday [February 24]
[Home Laptop]
  • I'm not working today. I will stay at home. So far [It is 12:00 noon], I have read parts of four books on my Ipad [in bed] and taken a shower [which gives me a great idea for my Wuxi China Expatdom blog].
  • Last night, I watched the Canada Sweden Olympic Men's Ice Hockey Final. The game started at 8:00 PM local time and so it was the first time I had ever seen a live hockey game in prime time in China. I first tried watching the game on computer but couldn't find a video feed or an audio feed. The sites providing Internet feeds were in other countries and so the feeds of the game were blocked in China. I resorted to butting Jenny off the television so I could watch the game on CCTV 5. I got to the second half of the second period when Tony in turn butted me off the television so he could watch a cartoon with bears and a mustachioed Chinese fellow, all of whom lived in the woods. Returning to the computer (I had been trying while I was watching the game on television to find a computer feed), I was able to find a feed and watch the rest of the game which Canada won 3-0.

Tuesday [February 25]
[School Laptop]
  • My shift today is 13:00 to 21:00.
  • I was in Jenny's doghouse yesterday. I can't say why.
  • Today, it is raining.
  • Last night, I helped Tony with his arithmetic. Jenny had him doing problems like this: 9 + (?) = 16. Tony couldn't figure out how to do them. To solve the example problem, I would get him to answer the following equations. 9 + 0 = ?, 9 + 1 = ?, 9 + 2 = ? and so on. All those problems solved by Tony, I would then get him to write the answer to the original problem, and he would do this 9 + (16) = 16. Tony!!! I would say. He would then finally write the correct answer in the bracket: 9 + (7) = 16. I had to do this for ten problems in a row for him and he still didn't seem to get it. I then tried to get him to solve the following arithmetic problems to get him to understand: 0 + 16 = ?, 1 + 15 = ?, 2 + 14 + ?, 3 + 13 + ?, 4 + 12?,......., all the way to 15 + 1 = ?
  • One day, something will click in his brain, I hope.

Wednesday [February 26]
[School Laptop]
  • I had trouble with the school laptop yesterday. I had to get the school IT technician to reinstall Windows XP on it. So, I had an afternoon in which I didn't get to tend to my daily projects. Now, I have to reinstall software on my computer and so I won't be back till normal till later this week. Right now, I don't have Chinese character support.
  • My shift today is from 13:00 to 21:00.
  • I got on the wrong bus this morning and ended up at the train station. I had been intently studying Chinese on my Ipad and didn't notice something was amiss till I was downtown.

Thursday [February 27]
[School Laptop]
  • I have a 10:00 to 21:00 shift today which means I have lots of free time. I do some prep in the morning, have an SPC in the afternoon, and three classes in the evening, when I am at the end of my tether.
  • I am not used to my new laptop setup. My operating system is in English which is nice but the operating system is Windows XP which soon set to be a dinosaur. I have just started to notice a pause in the screen refresh if I scroll up and down a document.
  • I was able to put a Chinese Character Set on my operating system yesterday. It is an accomplishment I can am proud of because the tech guy at school couldn't help me, forcing me to do it on my own. I had been at point where I thought to give up on trying to get a Chinese character set but I persisted. I uploaded the windows XP third support package which then allowed me to be able to use the Tech's XP installation disk and thus get the character set on the computer.
  • I have been watching the fifth game of the 1970 World Series: the first time, the Big Red Machine made it to the Series. It is cool to see a young Johnny Bench and a young Pete Rose.
  • Today's weather: Gray but comfortable. Last night would have been a pleasant night to go out for a walk.
  • No comments to make on the passing scene. I really haven't been paying that much attention.
  • I have been going through photos that I took in Wuxi in 2004, 2005, and 2006. Someone at City Hall told me that he wanted to see the photos when I mentioned them in conversation. Perhaps, I will publish them in the blog to show my loyal readers some of whom may be old Wuxi-hands.

Friday [February 28]
[School Laptop]
  • Today's shift: 11:00 to 21:00. I talk to some city hall workers at lunch time and then I talk to students for three hours in the evening. What a day.
  • I took the 25 bus to get downtown. Getting off, I thought about how it is always interesting to scan the old people waiting for the bus. Old men and youngish Chinese women are the most interesting sights in China I figure.
  • I had a headache going through my 2004 to 2006 photos. I took so many. It was an interesting time but a time that couldn't continue. I believe the 2008 financial crisis changed everything in Wuxi. The government decided to spend a lot of money on infrastructure at the time and the city has changed in many ways. Not many or any of these changes have added any charm to Wuxi.
  • Jenny tells me that Tony counts down the days till Friday and the end of the school week.
  • I have loaded the 2004 to 2006 photos, that I chose for my city hall project, on my Ipad. I will show them to the people at city hall and see which ones I should send to the guy who told that he wanted them.
  • My photo review caused a session about reminiscing with the foreign staff. Our biggest laments about the Wuxi changes were the good restaurants that disappeared because the management decided to change their menu and just got cheap on their offerings to their clientele. One example, I remember very well was the Sichuan Girls restaurant on Renmin Road. I actually took some newbies there in order to give them a good first impression of Wuxi. But then the management decided to change the décor, making it more plastic and bright; and also decided to change the menu – the food became crap.
  • I am listening to The Man Who Loved China, an audiobook. And I just finished listening to the China History Podcast's latest episode which was about Two Gun Cohen, a Jew who came to China from the Canadian Prairies. I never thought I would hear mention of Virden or Winnipeg in an episode of CHP.

Saturday [March 1]
[School Laptop]
  • The weather: crap. It is cold, wet, and windy.
  • My shift: 10:00 to 18:00.
  • Russia invades Ukraine. Obama looks weak says Krauthammer.
  • I really hate Wuxi drivers who insist on making turns and thus cutting off pedestrians. These people are inconsiderate, barbaric, and represent a lower level of civilization. They are apes and lizards. Real pieces of scum.
  • I may have mentioned that I had a student who told me he had cancer earlier this week. The only problem was that I didn't know if I could believe him or not. His manner made me suspicious. He is always phlegmatic in class so that I couldn't help but think he was saying BS. Anyway, he also asked me a why it was that his father would buy personal things and then charge them to his company. I should have told him his father was cheating, being corrupt as it were, but I instead I claimed ignorance of that sort of practice.
  • Tony burnt his fingers last evening at Pizza Hut. He had gone with another family who ordered a pizza he didn't like. Another pizza was ordered and it took a while for it to finally arrive. When it did, Tony impatiently touched the hot pan.
  • Later, Tony said he couldn't do his homework because his fingers hurt.

Sunday [March 2]
[Home Laptop]
  • No talking to English students today.
  • Sunny and cool outside. I went for a walk and saw a lovely thing: a grandfather playing with his daughter.
  • Back at home now, I have to give up the laptop to Tony who is eager to play the train simulator game on it. More. Anon. I hope.
  • [Later] Tony is doing homework so I have the computer. It is nice to have the computer but it is hard to sit around while Jenny is drilling him. Jenny will never be known for her patience.
  • I don't know what to say for myself.
  • Life seems pleasant in a way, but also sadly dispiriting. I really don't have much to complain about but I also don't have much for which I can be proud.
  • Here is something I should mention. I had one student whose family life seems to come right out of the West. Her parents are divorced and remarried and separated. She lives with her father who doesn't want her to have contact with her mother who lives in Kunming [from where, this morning, I heard news of attacks at the train station.]

March 3, 2014 [Monday]
  • No shifts of work today.
  • Yesterday afternoon, the K family went downtown so the boys could get haircuts. Jenny, a.k.a. Mama K, took the boys to a hole-in-the-wall, 2-seat hair salon near the end of the #3 bus route.
  • It took the K family two buses to get to the hair salon. They first took the 25 bus during which Tony sat on Andis's lap where Tony played on the Ipad. With Tony on his lap, Andis lamented that he couldn't play with his Ipad – space was cramped. A foreigner with a kid on his lap was a sight for the other passengers and Andis noticed one passenger who seemed to not take his eyes off him and Tony. It made Andis uncomfortable to look in that passenger's direction.
  • From the 25 bus, the K family transferred to the #3 bus to get to the salon. The hair salon was located in a plaza which had many missing tiles on its front paved area which was also wet because of a neighboring car wash business. The Salon itself was cramped and untidy. It was opened by a pair who had decided to leave a bigger salon where they had been working and had had Jenny as a client.
  • We (the K family) left the Salon at 6:30 which I (one of the K boys) thought was late. It seemed a waste I told Jenny to spend the whole afternoon getting haircuts. This didn't please Jenny who later gave me heck for saying so.
  • From the Hair Salon, we took the #3 Bus to the Suning Plaza to have dinner at the Grandma's ( 外婆家). We waited a bit but I had my Ipad to pass the time. The food was good as always. I haven't got tired of it like some J.F.'s I know.
  • It getting late, we decided to take the Taxi home. Watching Tony try to hail the taxi himself was quite the sight. Not realizing that only taxis with green lights on in their windshields are available, Tony hailed every one he saw and when they passed by, he cursed in Chinese at them.
  • Just before catching a cab home, while we stood waiting in a shopping walk street for Jenny, Tony a group of five black-uniformed security guards pass by, and hid behind a column where he adopted a ultra-man shooting stance and pointed his imaginary weapon at them.
  • This morning [Is is now Monday afternoon] Jenny played a recording, she made last night, of my snoring. Let me tell you. I am a major league snorer. If I was Italian, my snoring would be Serie A. If German, it would be Bundesligia. If English, my snoring would be Premiership.

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