Monday, March 10, 2014

The Andis Kaulins in China Diary Entry for March 4 to March 10, 2014

  • Tony accompanied me to school on Saturday.
  • My e-bike ran out of juice in Jiangyin on Sunday.
  • I watched the 1978 AL East Playoff game.
  • I had mixed feelings about Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Tuesday [March 4]
[Home Laptop]
  • My shift today at school will be 13:00 to 21:00.
  • Last evening, Tony and his buddy went to the Hui Shan Wanda Plaza unsupervised. It was a first for me to have my little guy in such a situation. That is, for him to go somewhere without an adult. Jenny worried that bad people would have tried to kidnap him. I told Jenny that when I was Tony's age, I went to school and back by myself, and that in the evenings, I wandered the neighborhood by myself. But that time, said Jenny, there weren't so many bad people.
  • How would she know? That was Canada.
  • I read Tony a story after which he said he had to go to sleep which he did in less than a minute.
  • The weather today? Rainy and cool.
  • I have downloaded the entire 1978 AL East playoff. I remember that at the time of the game, I was living in Oromocto, New Brunswick and learned of the game's result at the end of an ice hockey practice at the CFB Gagetown arena. I was cheering for the Red Sox at the time. It was in '79 that we got cable in our house and could watch many Red Sox games live.
  • What to think about the Ukraine? In some ways, I can see that Putin has a point in Ukraine. A duly elected government was toppled in a coup lead by Europeans and an extreme Ukrainian Nationalists, and he could claim a right to defend Russian minorities who are demanding his intervention. But as a Latvian and knowing Latvia has a substantial number of Russians living it, Russia's intervention in the Ukraine is an ominous development. Would the Ukraine be worth defending? It is a swamp of corruption and nationalism. It is hard to attach any idealism to it.

[School Laptop]
  • I took the 25 bus to get to school. The bus had to deviate from its route because there was something happening (a grand opening I presume) at a new apartment complex down the street from the train station. Thus this street, which the train station was on, was closed. So the driver did what I thought he would do and took a street that was parallel to the street of its current route to continue on to its Nanchang Market terminal stop. The street that he had to take was the street the 25 bus used to run before the completion of construction of the new train station. What was noteworthy to me about this unimportant incident was the squawking of the passengers – it was loud and panicked.
  • It is a five minutes walk from the terminal stop of the 25 bus route to my school. This walk takes me through a narrow side street. What particularly struck me today about my walk was the parking of cars on the sidewalk on one side of the street. The cars were taking over pedestrians path leaving little space for sidewalk walking.
  • With a one o'clock shift start, I do some of my daily reading requirements at home. I have added a scene from Shakespeare to these daily personal requirements – part of my egoistic desire to improve myself.

Wednesday [March 5]
[Home Laptop]
  • My shift today will be 13:00 to 21:00.
  • Last night, I had a class with a student who worked in media. She was thinking to get out of the business because newspapers, where she worked, were dying because of declining advertising revenue. You could succeed maybe in a big city like Shanghai, but Wuxi was too small.
  • As I mentioned yesterday, I downloaded the complete 1978 American League East One Game Playoff from Youtube and now have it on my Ipad. I started watching the game yesterday. Heading into the bottom of the third inning, the Red Sox are leading one to nothing on a Carl Yazstremski home run. Observations: Reggie Jackson had quite the swing; the uniforms in the late seventies were ugly – they went away from the traditional baseball uniforms starting in the early seventies. The Reds in the 1970 World Series game I watched looked great in their uniforms.
  • I think that currently baseball is in another ugly uniform age. They aren't wearing stirrups any more. Some players are wearing baggy pants that flare at the bottom. Disgusting.
  • Tony is a picky eater. He apparently isn't touching bread anymore and is hiding the fact from Mom by throwing it in the rubbish bin while claiming that he is finished.
  • You are quiet! That's because I am not saying anything.
  • A lot of students like Downton Abbey. I am currently making my way through the third episode of the second season.
  • David Warren wrote a strong condemnation of the Russian invasion of the Ukraine. He said it was an act of war – phraseology that Obama and the EU are avoiding while they instead threaten to impose economic sanctions.
  • Will a war in the Crimea produce a poem as great as the last war in the Crimea did? Tennyson's Charge of the Light Brigade was brilliant. Alas, we don't live in a poetic age. The only artistic things that one could expect to come out of a new Crimean War would be some movies.
  • I saw My bus mate Sophia on the 635 last night. She is working at a school that is across the street from my school. She had vowed to get out of the education industry. The school that she works at now is in a building that contains the McDonald's that I always go to. It was there that I ran into her and learned of her new employment. Rare readers may recall that she had been working at WEB.
  • I overheard that the Red Lion celebrated its second anniversary over the weekend. I haven't entered through the doors of what is probably the most popular Expat pub in Wuxi. I can't say if I ever will. I don't have the time and the money. It is out of way and I have heard it is very expensive.

[School Laptop]
  • I took the 25 bus to school this morning. On the way, I saw the subway train running. On the bus, I saw a particularly peasant-looking couple with child sit at the back. They were both short and squat, wore soiled clothes, and gave off an air of poverty. I also saw an old man, lanky and slightly slouched, who wore these cheap cotton shoes that have a flimsy rubber sole and a cheap plushy, slipper body to them that had to be zipped up to be stay on one's foot. I was in the presence of common Chinese folk.

Thursday [March 6]
[School Laptop]
  • Today's shift: 10:00 to 21:00
  • I have almost finished watching the video footage of the 1978 AL East Playoff game between the Red Sox and the Yankees.
  • I have started trying to make comparison shots between the Wuxi I took photos of in 2004, 2005, and 2006, and the 2014 Wuxi. I went to the intersection where I had taken photos of the old Sheraton hotel and the old Home Mart which were kitty corner from each other. [One of the roads was Zhongshan Road but I don't remember the other] this morning. I found that so much had changed that I couldn't even stand in the same spot I did over eight years ago. For one thing, trees had been planted on the road. So, I tried to get as close to the original spots as I could.
  • I floated this idea of having Tony come with me to the school this Saturday. He seems to be enthusiastic about the idea and has told Jenny that he wants to do it. Now, whether this does in fact happen remains to be seen. For one thing, I don't seem him wanting to get up early on Saturday morning to be able to accompany me.
  • I just had a student who will study a masters in architecture somewhere in America. I had all sorts of questions to ask him. He did tell me that he thought the buildings constructed now, though of far better technology than anything made before, were comparatively lacking in aesthetic appeal.
  • His English was very good but he lacked confidence. Ask him questions and he was great; but ask him to make sentences and he had no imagination. So I told him to try making questions with the new vocabulary.

Friday [March 7]
[School Laptop]
  • My shift today: 11:00 to 21:00. My English Corner at the City Hall was canceled.
  • Will Tony accompany me to school tomorrow? I doubt it but there is a small chance it could happen. For that eventuality, I had to spend a lot of time trying to reinstall the Microsoft Train Simulator on my school laptop. I had trouble first with getting the game to install. At certain point after having put the second installation disk in the DVD ROM drive, I got an error message. I tried over and over again to do a complete installation by trying to move my the MSTS files I did have on my computer to different locations. I finally was able to install the game by choosing only to install two instead of the six routes on the disk.
  • Having installed the game, I got an error message telling me that I needed hardware acceleration. A little research on the Internet told me that I needed to reinstall video drivers. These I was able to download from the HP site. I did this downloading at Casa K and brought the drivers to school via flash-drive. The MSTS now works I am proud to say.
  • Other then (or than?) that, I don't have much to say for myself. I will have to tell you what I observed today.
  • I saw a lot of bad driving and stupid old people ignoring traffic rules. I really got angry seeing this driver, at the intersection near the Ramada and California Villas, make a left turn without bothering to slow down for pedestrians who were walking on a green walk signal. Drivers who don't slow down for pedestrians, as I have said before, are scum. I then saw about a least four cases of old-aged pedestrians being stranded in traffic and narrowly being dodged by vehicles because they were ignoring traffic signals or were ignorant of their purpose. Are these old age pedestrians stupid, uncivilized, or blind? I don't get it.
  • I finished watching the 1978 AL East Playoff game. It was a great game, but heartbreaking for the Red Sox. There were so many what-ifs. In the ninth inning, a Yankee outfielder was lucky to have had a ball that he lost in the sun bounce close to him. If the ball had gotten by him, a Red Sox Runner could have advanced from second to third base. He would have scored because the next hitter, Jim Rice, hit a ball to the outfield which would have driven in that runner and tied the game. Alas, Yaz who had had a great game, hitting a home run and scoring another run, popped out to end the game. As I said before, as the game was being played, I was at the CFB Gagetown arena for an ice hockey practice.
  • [Later] I can't install all the routes from the MSTS Disk onto my computer. Tony will have to content himself with the three I was able to install from the disk and the three routes I found on the Internet.
  • [Later] I am working my way through my Chinese study. I have completed typing a few pages from the New Practical Chinese Reader, volume 2. I have typed about fifteen characters from a list of 3,000 Chinese characters I have in pdf format. Now, I will work on translating a magazine article from Chinese to English.

Saturday [March 8]
  • Shift:  10:00 to 18:00.
  • Tony comes with me.  He hogs the school laptop playing MSTS all the day.  Hence, no diary making.
  • I will give full report tomorrow.

Sunday [March 9]
[Home Laptop]
  • Yesterday, I made an obligatory diary entry so I didn't need to say that I didn't make an entry.
  • Today, no shifts.
  • I don't think I would grade Tony's accompanying me to school yesterday a success. For one thing, I realized that it is not something that I want to be doing all the time. When I had Tony with me, he hogged the laptop and I couldn't do the things that make my time at school worthwhile. [Those things are my daily readings, Chinese study, and computer projects.] For another, Tony did nothing but play on the computer. I would say he spent six hours on it yesterday. I couldn't get him to eat anything other than a hash-brown from McDonald's and this later earned my the severe approbation of Jenny. Tony was also shy and I wasn't able to show off his amazing language skills. His being there as well affected my teaching because I couldn't quite concentrate fully on the students as I was half wondering what Tony was up to in the office. So, it wasn't much of a bonding experience.
  • But it was done it seemed to others for Women's Day, a day that I believe is declared by the UN and so is really just a sham day anyway.
  • After the shift was done yesterday, the K family all went to the Sunning Plaza to have dinner at the Grandma's. We waited awhile but we had devices and computers to keep us occupied. I finished reading the first half of Orphan Master's Son on my Ipad. The hero of the first half of the novel is thrown into a prison camp after he becomes too familiar with some Americans he had been delegated to visit. The DPRK, as depicted in the novel, is a country run at the behest of a greedy ruling class who will stop at nothing to get what they want. The place abounds in lies.
  • Amazingly, the fried potato dish that I adore so much at the Grandma's came first. Another time, the dish came twenty minutes after all the others had been brought out and eaten.
  • During the wait, Tony was on a computer provided by the restaurant for waiting patrons. These computers are always used by the children and sometimes you can see four or five kids gathered around a monitor. They are watching and waiting for the computer to become available for their use. Tony had girls and then boys lurking around him as he was on the monitor. Trying to pry Tony away from the computer once we have a table is not easy. Usually, I have to walk from the table to the computers to see what he is doing. Last night, I walked to the computers and Tony was at the computer sitting on the lap of an older and fatter boy wanting to join in on whatever Tony was playing on the computer. The fat boy went crazy when he saw me. He keep shouting “外国人!waiguoren! (translation: foreigner)” over and over again. I had to ignore that kid and talk into Tony's ear to tell him that his computer playing was about to come to an end.
  • We were seated in a booth. The booth was separated from the next booth by a grill on top of the wooden siding. Through the grill I noticed that a party of four, next to us, was staring at us rather too intently and obviously for my comfort. Becoming very self-conscious on account of the staring, I muttered some cuss words under my breath. These people all seemed to be in their early twenties or late teens, and then they started to wave. I suppose they were looking at Tony.
  • We took the Taxi home which was much better than taking the bus given we were full of food and tired. The driver had to come to a quick stop at a certain moment, because of uncertain driving done by others, and so he jokingly said “fuck!” to me. I smiled, not knowing what else I could say or add even if I could have said something to him that he would have understood.
  • I went out for a walk this morning and have three things to report. 1)They are tearing up the pavement near the Times Century (Tesco) plaza for some reason. The work is making certain parts of the area untenable for pedestrian traffic. 2) They, the powers that be, have set up public bicycle stalls at an intersection near Casa Kaulins. The bicycles have yet to arrive. 3) They don't serve breakfast at the McDonald's and the KFC in Wanda Plaza.
  • Wuxi still pales in comparison to Hong Kong. Wuxi looks so dingy, dull, under construction, rickety, and backward these days.
  • [Later] This afternoon, I played on the computer and completed two pieces for my Wuxi China Expatdom blog. Meanwhile, Jenny & Tony went to a hospital to have a doctor look at a skin problem Tony was having in the area below his nose and above his lip. This area is red and so Tony looks like Hitler with a red rash for a mustache. The rash looks to be a result of a Tony liking the snot coming from his nose.
  • When they were finished, I joined up with them at the Tesco. Jenny did some shopping and I took Tony, on the e-bike, to the Huijiang bridge (惠江桥) to watch trains. We had a good time of it; I took some great photos; but the e-bike unfortunately ran out of power. The strange thing about it was I was able to do about 15 kmh for about 3 kilometers; the bike didn't completely run out of power. Slowly making our way home, I was asked by Tony to go faster...

Monday [March 10]
[Home Laptop]

  • Beware the Ides of March?
  • No shiftiness today.
  • It is Sunny outside
  • I have just edited the video Hanging Out with Tony Kaulins #6.
  • Yesterday as I stood at the deck of the bridge looking at the surroundings, I wondered if I was looking at haze or pollution. I have this problem because Wuxi is riddled with canals and bodies of water, and so I would think that haze has always been present in this area.
  • I read another brilliant piece by Theodore Dalrymple today. It was in the City Journal and was about Joseph Conrad.
  • Putin has broken International law. His instincts are in Soviet and hence evil.
  • It is all well and go to talk about Russia's dignity. How about talking about its redemption? It hasn't adequately dealt with the criminal past of the Soviet Regime. First things first.
  • Tony is home from school and doing his homework. The atmosphere in the house is thus oppressive. He whines and Jenny chastises him in a voice that sends shivers down my spine.

No comments: