Monday, March 24, 2014

The Andis Kaulins in China Diary for March 18 to March 24, 2014

  • Five shifts this week at school.
  • Jenny's uncle died. Jenny went to the funeral leaving Tony to be taken care of by Andis.
  • On Sunday, the K family went to the Shengtai Agriculture Park.
  • I thought to give up watching Downton Abbey.
  • I started learning Java.

Tuesday [March 18]
[Home Laptop]
  • My shift today will be 13:00 to 21:00 today.
  • Right now, I am dealing with an IOS Update to my Ipad. Basically, my Ipad is out of commission because, for whatever reason, I am re-installing everything into my Ipad like all the apps and the books. It looks like it will take an hour.
  • Speaking of taking hours, editing the diary entry of yesterday, that is the one that I published to the Internet, took hours. Editing is a painful and time-consuming process.
  • The Ipad updating and reloading has thrown off my concentration for the time being. I haven't done anything to fulfill my daily requirements other than to make this diary entry.
  • I was able to wander the area around Casa K yesterday. I took photos and videos of some things that I saw, like the Wuxi Metro train doing test runs.
  • Last night, it took me an hour to put together Tony's 132 piece puzzle. Tony had poured the pieces on the floor and as was my habit, I cleaned up after him.
  • Hopefully, I can continue today's daily sub-entry at school.

[School Laptop]
  • As I walked to the bus stop, I passed an intersection where I saw a near collision between a left-turning e-bike and an oncoming car. It was the e-biker who was definitely driving imprudently. She made a left turn rather quickly and without looking. If I had happened to have had my camera pointing at her, I would have had a nice image of the e-bike turning right in front of an moving car. The car slowing down prevented the collision. Amazingly, the driver didn't honk his horn and shout epitaphs at the woman.
  • I took the 25 bus to get downtown.
  • I took the seat over the back wheel. In front of me sat a young man who opened the window and leaned his head against on the window edge so he could spit outside. Gross.
  • [Later] I have done my Chinese study for the day. One of my projects is to create a database of the flashcards used for the 1,000 flashcards textbook on
  • I did an English Corner about Europe. There were nine students attending. It went okay, not great but any stretch of the imagination. I was looking for something to get everyone talking and make the time flow quickly but it didn't really happen. One student said that steak came to mind when she thought of Europe – a far cry from Hitler.
  • In my wallet, I had a 100 rmb note and no small change. I was planning to go to the Xinjiang restaurant for my mid-afternoon meal but I didn't want to break the 100 there, so I went to McDonalds for the bacon potato double burger.
  • No classes till 19:00. I may be able to get all the things I want to do today!
  • John admires his sister only. What does this sentence mean? What is the only modifying. Is it modifying sister? Is it modifying the whole sentence?

Wednesday [March 19]
[Home Laptop]
  • I tell myself to not be lazy. So I tell myself to make the date headline for this day's entry bold and not to save it for later.
  • My shift today is 13:00 to 21:00. Yesterday, I had three classes. Having started out with five, I was dismayed, in a strange way, when the girl from booking told me that two of my classes were canceled. I took advantage of the free time to occupy myself with interesting things like my Chinese study, my daily readings, and my computer study. However, my hopes of being able to use databases with Python was dashed when a module, one of my Python textbooks suggested I download, didn't install.
  • It is colder today. Yesterday was warm and I saw some foreigners walking around in t-shirts. It has cooled down overnight and it might rain today; and so I will have to don an extra layer when I go out.
  • The big change in temperature is making me feel weary. The thought of doing anything – even writing in this blog – is wearying me.
  • I began to watch the sixth episode of the second season of Downton Abbey last night.
  • No binge-viewing for me.
  • I wait for news about the missing Malaysian airliner. But it is drowned out, on the Drudge Report, by news of what is happening in Crimea.
  • War?
  • I hear fireworks nearby. Has someone moved into Jia Zhou Yang Fang?
  • I carry Tony to the pickup stop from where he is taken to school. He tells me he is cold. Really, he is lazy.
  • I hang laundry that Jenny had washed.
  • They say it is all Malaysian Airliner all the time on the news. I wouldn't know. I listen to podcasts and don't watch any television news.
  • I need to fill this entry with humor. I need some hilarious things to happen. I need to think some hilarious thoughts.
  • Can the Winnipeg Jets make the 2014 National Hockey League playoffs? I doubt it. Jets 2.0 as bad as Jets 1.0.
[School Laptop]
  • It is raining cats and dogs. So it is annoying to be outside and I am wondering if my 13:00 student will show.
  • Walk into a shop on rainy day and there will be a place to put your umbrellas near the entrance.
  • Now, my pink umbrella is open and laying on the floor beside my desk. Open umbrellas being dried in offices is a common sight in Wuxi.
  • Co-worker tells me that swishing a certain kind of olive oil in your mouth for ten to fifteen minutes is good for your health.
  • My 13:00 student didn't show up.
  • I got a database program to work using Python. Now, I need to refine it.

Thursday [March 20]
[School Laptop]
  • My shift today: 10:00 to 21:00.
  • I ran into 635 Sophia when I went to McDonalds to buy my second breakfast of the morning. She was off to her school where her day today consists of prepping for her weekend classes. My day, I told her, consists of doing a little bit of prepping, some teaching, and studying Chinese and Computer.
  • I took the 602and then the 118 buses to work. The 118 bus was nearly empty. There was nothing but a driver, me, and another passenger on the bus. It was very unusual and contrasted with the packed-like-sardines 635 bus I took home last night.
  • On the 635 bus home, many of the standing passengers were playing with their mobiles. One standing passenger earned this mention in my blog because she was watching a video on her Ipad. This is something I would never have thought to do if I was standing.
  • Having a wife and son to support, I am glad I don't have much social intercourse outside of work because, really, my days at school are very, very cushy.
  • What is my work? Talking to students and sometimes correcting their English. Reviewing an old English grammar yesterday, I realized that I don't know as much about English grammar as I thought I had, or thought I did. Some of the test questions in the test-section of the grammar were real head-scratchers for me. I could say that some of the grammar presented in the book was obsolete, but there were many questions in the test that I should be happy I don't get asked by the students. [I should say I should be happy if the students challenge me with these questions.]
  • Missing Malaysian Airliner: 1) I saw William, our student from Malaysia, last night and I teased him about the airliner. He did say that it was the biggest crisis that Malaysia has ever faced. 2) Apparently, two employees from an insurance company in this building were on that flight.
  • I spent about 45 minutes prepping for my classes. Most of the work for them had already been done, but I have been trying to supplement the lesson plans and my lesson plans with additional material.

March 21 [Friday]
[School Laptop]
  • The shift today: 11:00 to 21:00. I arrive at school at 9:30. I am eager to install a Java Developers Kit on this machine. I tried yesterday but I couldn't get jvac to compile my first java program.
  • This morning, Tony told me not to go to work. I asked him why and he told me that he wanted to play train simulator on my home laptop. It wasn't like he wanted to be with Daddy.
  • Jenny's uncle, his father's brother, is at death's door. That is what Jenny told me this morning. He was at the hospital but because there was nothing they could do for him, he was taken back to his room at the family compound. Jenny's uncle was a quiet fellow who always wore a hat of some sort and was always wrapped in layers of clothing. He spent his days, when I saw him, sitting in the compound. If he dies, Jenny & Tony will go to the funeral. His manner of death seems particularly forlorn for his is dying like a ward or a pet in the forgotten countryside of China.
  • When buying my breakfast at McDonald's, I noticed this old woman, who looked like she hadn't showered in a week, eating her breakfast in the most ungainly manner. She was using the thin brown stir stick as a straw to drink her coffee and her half-eaten breakfast sandwich, which she was clutching onto loosely while still in its wrapper, was held at chest-height as she went to get a refill of coffee. Squeezing the cup as she sipped the coffee, the plastic cap came unloosened and was dangling on the stir-stick straw.
  • [Later] I have gotten the jvac compiler to work. Yes!
  • Nothing worse than doing a salon class about Global Warming. It is the most boring topic for a salon ever!!!!
  • The only thing I found interesting about the class was having two of the students tell me that they had been robbed. One student had been robbed in her office at work by a girl who had managed to get through the security doors. The other student said her apartment had been broken into and she had lost an Ipad and two gold rings. She didn't know how the thief had broken into her apartment. There was nothing broken in her apartment.

Saturday [March 22]
[School Laptop]
  • My shift today 10:00 to 18:00. My last class ends at 17:00 so I will get off early.
  • When I got home last night, Jenny was mad at Tony because of his lack of progress in Math class. Tony had, in the morning, been telling me I shouldn't work so he could play Train Simulator on my home laptop. In the evening, he was too shell-shocked by Jenny's scolding to talk about this and he went to bed rather quickly.
  • I took the 602to work and sat at the extreme back of the bus. Two people in front of me decided to open the windows causing a cool and uncomfortable breeze to blow in my face. A woman sitting in a seat right of front of me was the first to open the window and I moved to the seat on the other side of the aisle. But then a man sitting two seats in front of me decided to open a window very widely so I had an even more uncomfortable breeze in sit in. I ended up sitting at a seat in the aisle sort of between the two breezes. Eventually, The woman smartened up and closed her window; however, the man didn't and I cursed him loudly hoping he heard my f****s. After about three minutes, the woman then did what I didn't have the balls to do and went over to where the man was sitting and shut his window.
  • I saw a blind woman being helped by another woman. I don't often see blind people.
  • I listened to a depressing podcast about the employment prospects currently of people in their late forties and early fifties. The new technology is making them unemployable.

Sunday [March 23]
[Home Laptop]
  • When the wife's away, the boys will play? Not really. I have got Tony in bed at 9:00 PM and I have to prepare his clothes for tomorrow and do some cleaning and I want to make a couple of blog entries – for this blog and another.
  • So, I will blog about today tomorrow.

Monday [March 24]
[Home Laptop]
  • Why is Jenny away? Well. Her uncle, who lived with her parents, has died and she is attending the funeral. She will be back at Casa Kaulins on Tuesday.
  • I will have to see if I can dig up a photo of the uncle and publish it on AKIC Wordpress. I know there is one somewhere on some drive.
  • I got Tony off to school. I hope I didn't forget anything. I was thinking to deliberately put something Tony backwards so as keep up the conceit of wives that husbands don't know what they are doing.
  • A shipment of Ritz Cheese Cracker sandwiches arrived yesterday. I love them. I could crumble them up and throw them in my bath so I could luxuriate in them for twenty minutes or so.
  • Sunday, the K family was driven, by some neighbors in their mini van, to the Shengtai Agriculture park in Jiangyin. To get to the park from Casa Kaulins is easy. You take Hui Shan Da Dao road to Jiangyin, cross the bridge to Jiangyin (the one where Tony & I go trainspotting), and continue along the road for a few kilometers. The park would be on your left.
  • At Shengtai, we saw greenhouses with plant pots hanging from the ceiling so the visitors felt themselves to be in a completely luxuriant environ; we saw peacocks with magnificent rear end plumage; we saw gobbling turkeys and lanky storks; we fed a lot of gold fish; we saw what I thought was a black swan; I saw a swan get very pissed at a duck and change it all over the pond (around which was built a wooden patio deck.); and we ate at a table surrounded by plants.
  • I finished watching the seventh game of the 1965 World Series (which I downloaded from Youtube). Koufax three hit the Twins on two days rest throwing mostly fastballs because his curve wasn't working for him. Amazing. The game seemed to have been played in another planet, not just another era. The spectators were mostly dressed in suit and ties. They weren't braying like monkeys through the game. And when the game ended, the Dodgers were dignified in their celebrations. And the Twins had nice uniforms.
  • I also finished watching the seventh episode of the second series of Downton Abbey. I don't know if I will watch the third season. The episodes are becoming more and more like soap operas. Perhaps, I will check out house of cards.
  • Tony & I went to the Wanda Plaza where we ate at Pizza Hut and visited the Apple Store for a brief visit. Every time, I go to the Hui Shan Pizza Hut, I always end up vowing to never return. The food is always mediocre and the pizza is not made properly. But, fool I am, I always return.
  • My going to Pizza Hut causes the staff to jokingly made English phrases. Tony also always seem to attract the attention of the female staff members. Yesterday, Tony was too intent on the Ipad mini to notice. When the female manager gave him some gifts, I had to force him to be thankful.
  • Tony & I were in bed by nine.
  • Jenny phoned me and reported that a lot of people were attending his uncle's funeral and she was staying in a hotel.

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