Monday, April 7, 2014

Diary: April 1 to April 7, 2014

  • Coasting. That's what I have been doing. That is the perfect word to describe the life I have been leading these days.
  • Nothing happened on April 1.
  • I had this idea to give the students Polish-Chinese English names.
  • I had four beers on Saturday – a high for 2014.
  • I attempted to answer the question How can you improve yourself?
  • I unsuccessfully tried to take photos of the Wuxi Metro train while it was on the Hui Shan Metro Train Bridge.
  • I made two videos that I published on the Internet.
  • I discussed how much time I spend on blogs and sites about China.
  • I had a long weekend. That is, a Saturday, Sunday, and then a Monday off.
  • Movies watched: The Big Heat, Once Upon a Time in the West, and I started to watch Rome: Open City.
  • I watched the first episode of the new Cosmos series. I watched two episodes of Kenneth Clark's Civilisation series as well. My comments on Cosmos could get me in trouble.

Tuesday [April 1]
[Home Laptop]
  • I don't have to worry about practical jokes this morning. I won't be getting strange emails or phone calls because I don't get normal emails and phone calls these days. I start work at 13:00 and even though I get to the school usually around 11:00, today is a day of Trappist silence so I won't be telling the others in the office that I don't think they are pederasts.
  • My VPN was slow yesterday so I wasted a lot of time on the computer trying to do things like get the previous week's diary entry published (I tried in the afternoon but wasn't able to publish the thing till late evening) and download some Manning Center videos from Youtube (the Manning center is a Canadian conservative organization) which featured speeches by Mark Steyn and Preston Manning.
  • I have this idea for giving students English names. Give them Polish-Chinese names! Or even just Polish names. When I say give them Polish-Chinese names, I mean to take their Chinese names and add “ski” to them; so, for example, you could give them English names like Chenlongski or Leexiaolongski. I would even like to give them Polish names like Kowalski and Stemkowski. As it is now, the students have a habit of choosing very, very common English names like Mike, John, and Tom. Oh! I can grow to like a student with the name of Pelski or Komanski!
  • It is sunny outside. It felt pleasant when I took Tony to be picked up and taken to his primary school.
  • I registered on the Wuxi City Guide site. I gave myself the name of Nicolas_Gomez_Davilla and in my short bio, I said I was a happy warrior and a reactionary living in the Hui Shan District.
  • Last week, I liked so much the being able to ponder a question during the course of typing in this diary, that I think I will try to answer another question this week. I was thinking to ask myself what good I have done in China, but that is too hard a question and would feel too much like a CV writing exercise which I hate, because for me, my CV is boring and depressing. So instead I will answer this question: How can you improve yourself?
  • This thought just occurred to me, so apropos of nothing, I will enter it in this diary. I don't often visit sites about China, whether they be news sites about China or the blogs of other people living in China. My favorite blogs are/were written by a former Ottawa Citizen columnist who is Catholic and Reactionary, a Brit who calls Anne Coulter darling Anne, and this gay man of conservative tendencies who converted to Catholicism in the last year of his life. The latter blogger blogged right to the end. Anyway, I find these blogs more compelling than anything written by anyone about China. China these days is surfeit with people blogging about their experiences in China. They are merely adding to the fog and ignorance that all westerners have about China.
  • How can you improve yourself? First, I need to be more attentive to my wife, my son, and my mother. That part of my answer is easy to make because I haven't talked about the sacrifices it would entail me doing.

[School Laptop]
  • My shift today: 13:00 to 21:00.
  • I took the 25 bus to get to school. The Wuxi Metro train wasn't on the Hui Shan Metro bridge when the bus drove past. It could be seen, though, parked in its nearby work yard which is on the shore of the river over which the Hui Shan Big Bridge crosses.
  • My English Corner topic today is April Fool's day. I don't know what to do with that topic.
  • I finished reading the Orphan Master's Son last night. Interesting novel. North Korea is more horrible than I have imagined.
  • [Later] During the English Corner, I got, what I thought was, a brilliant idea for a practical joke to play on a co-worker's computer. I will take a screen shot of his desk top, then take all the icons and put them in a special file, and then make the screen shot his desk top. I chortle at the idea of his clicking on the icons and having nothing happen.

Wednesday [April 2]
[Home Laptop]
  • Last night, I finished watching the Big Heat starring Glen Ford and an actress who had a role in Oklahoma. Big Heat was a great movie. Black and White. Everyone wore suits. Everyone looked like an adult. The woman who played the Glen Ford character's wife was said to be 27. To my modern eyes, she acted like she was fifty. Very mature.
  • I then starting watching Once Upon a Time in the West. I had it on my Ipad, I hadn't realized it was a Sergio Leone western, having downloaded because I saw it a top Westerns movie list, and so I was terribly impressed when I watched the opening credits. The movie starred Henry Fonda, Charles Bronson, Jason Robarbs, and Claudia Cardinale. The style of the film immediately drew me it. It slammed me on the head with its stylish effects whether audio or visual. I want to get off board the life I am leading and take the time to watch the film in one sitting.
  • Last class of yesterday evening, I had a student who teaches a kindergarten class, senior level. I had to ask her how she controls her students. It has been my experience at Tony's kindergarten that the kids are impossible to control, at least by me. I wonder how the females are able to do it. Part of it is, I suppose, that she loves kids. She told she did with such a directness and frankness that I was taken aback.
  • I have just phoned my Mom, who lives by herself in Brandon, Manitoba, Canada. The weather over the weekend there? Minus 27 degrees!!! Although it has warmed up to minus seven, the roads were still too slippery and so Mom was staying inside.
  • Last night, my Mom watched On the Waterfront.
  • My nephew Kyle will be nineteen on April 6th. He has been driving for three years. I mention this because in China, they don't get to drive till they are out of high school. I can remember I was in Winnipeg at the time he was born. When I first saw him a few months later, he was still small, a bundle not yet able to crawl. Now, he drives while I take public transportation to work.

[School Laptop]
  • My shift today: 13:00 to 21:00.
  • I took the 25 bus to work, sat on the side that afforded me a good view of the Hui Shan Subway Bridge, and didn't see the metro train on it. I would see it later coming up from the portion of the line that does underground.
  • How can you improve yourself? Other than what I said yesterday to answer this question, there probably isn't much else I can do because 1) I am as perfect as it gets. 2)I am as good as I am ever going to get.
  • Those answers were nonsense.
  • The beef sandwiches at the Xinjiang Restaurant across the way from the school are wonderful. The Chinese pinyin I have heard for them: rou jie mo.

Thursday [April 3]
[School Laptop]
  • Today: 10:00 to 21:00.
  • I saw the Wuxi Metro train on the Hui Shan Metro Bridge. Unfortunately, I was on another bus and was only able to see the train from a distance and so was not able take a photo.
  • Saturday will be a holiday. The K family has chosen to stay at Casa Kaulins, eschewing the opportunity to spend Tomb Sweeping Day in Beixin.
  • Last night, a student told me something that maybe demanded some investigation. She told me that when buying a car, a customer had to pay this non-refundable fee to the car dealer. As I understood her, the fee was paid if a price for a car was agreed upon and if for any reason the deal fell through, the money was not returned. I have never heard of such a thing happening in Canada.
  • How can you improve yourself? I can't. I am what I am and it is too late in life to make any radical changes to myself.
  • Earlier last evening, a student told me that her company was putting together an application to get High Tech Enterprise status from the local government. Having HTE status entitles a company to tax breaks. Which reminds me that earlier, I had been told by a student that the local government was also promising to give rent subsidies to Masters and PhD students who choose to locate in Wuxi. Yes. Government in action.
  • It is quiet in the office right now. That is just the way I like it.
  • I finished watching Once Upon a Time in the West last night. I thought it was an enjoyable film to watch, full of interesting performances, great stock characters, Leone's directing techniques, wonderful cinematography of the Utah and Arizona landscape, and great soundtrack music. Henry Fonda, who I had thought of as an actor always playing the good guy, was the baddie in this flick. Charles Bronson was the film's star despite not having top billing. The camera made him look intense and confident. His performance was seemingly minimal. Having read somewhere that in film acting, less is more, Bronson's performance was perfect, but I wonder if it seemed perfect because of the camera and Bronson's remarkable face and physical presence, or because of some genuine acting skill on his part. The film was fill of Leone's Spaghetti Western flourishes: the amazing marksmanship scenes, the focus on the expressions of the actors, the building up of tensions in the scenes, the interesting looking characters, the casual violence of the antagonists, the use of sound to magnify the lethal force of the shots, and the great music. If there was anything wrong with the film, it was the plot. Sometimes, the characters did inexplicable things and the scenes seemed disjointed from the plot. For example, a dramatic scene on a train came to an end, and this crippled character was suddenly in a cleft in a mountain. I couldn't tell if this scene was a flashback or a continuation of the plot in its normal sequence.
  • I will have to seek out the entire body or Leone's work.
  • A change in the one child policy. If you or your wife is an only child, you can have a second child.

Friday [April 4]
[School Laptop]
  • Today's shift: 11:00 to 21:00. Tomorrow's shift? None. Ha ha.
  • What will I do on this holiday? Don't know. I have vague ideas of wandering in the countryside on the family e-bike with Tony or sitting at the Hui Shan Wanda Plaza Starbucks reading a book on my Ipad.
  • Public bikes in Hui Shan! The public bike stalls now have bikes in them.
  • How can you improve yourself? Last night, I was on the 635 with 635 Sophia. I was telling her that I don't come into contact, outside of work, with any foreigners. Then she then point-blank asked me if I had any foreigner friends in Wuxi. I told her I didn't. She then asked me if I had any Chinese friends. I told her I didn't. So, getting back to that question I am answering this week, I suppose I could improve myself by having more friends “on the ground” in Wuxi. But that is easier said than done for me. I know people aren't perfect and you have to be very, very tolerant of their foibles. I, of course, am as far from perfect as a person can get while still having a pulse. But the foibles that many of the people have that I come in contact with here are really worthy of contempt. They are the foibles of numbingly stupid people, people who rationalize their stupidity and not face up to it, and not just weakness of character. I can't be friends with these people. Be that as it may, while withdrawal is completely understandable in my situation, I can't give up hope. There are surely some souls I can be pals with in Wuxi and I have to improve myself to meet them. [Am I the only right-winger reactionary in Wuxi?]
  • At least, I don't have to change my political beliefs. I may be a cunt, but I am not a left-winger, so I do have one redeeming virtue.
  • What can most people do to improve their oration abilities? Shut up.
  • I was listening to the Radio Free Delingpole podcast. Delingpole seems to be more of a libertarian conservative than a traditional conservative. He supports the legalization of mary jane in Colorado. He went overboard to show much he thinks it a really wonderful idea. At one time I would have supported this but now I have my misgivings. It seem to be the triumph of barbarism. Being a rock critic and thus a conservative who hasn't given up the rock and roll lifestyle, Delingpole seems like a conservative who doesn't want to give up on the idea of coolness. Conservatives, he seems to be saying, are people who can be cool! Nonsense. Bullocks. Conservatives are people of substance and not easily to be fooled by shallowness which is what cool really is.

Saturday [April 5]
[Home Laptop]
  • It is my sister's birthday today. I believe she is in Mexico now.
  • It is Tomb Sweeping Day. I don't have a shift today.
  • We have a visitor from Suzhou coming. Jenny says we will be taking her downtown.
  • I downloaded the first episode of the new Cosmos series. The host of the new series is black and he reminds me of Bryant Gumbel, the NBC sports host. I know that I shouldn't mention the detail but in this day and age, you can't help but feel that the race of the host is a factor in the choosing of the host. It is done with the best of intentions, but....

Sunday [April 6]
[Home Laptop]
  • No shifts today.
  • Yesterday. I drank four beers. I haven't done that in a long time. Reality can slap you in the face and actually make you realize that some course of actions you have taken were wise. I won't be drinking any beer today.
  • Yesterday afternoon, we, that be the K family, went to the Western Restaurant in the Hui Shan Wanda Plaza. I had two beers there.
  • Various places in the Plaza had wax figures of celebrities on display. I posed with Bruce Lee and Jackie Chen.
  • We then took the bus downtown to Nanchang Market and to the Nanchang Bar Street. We spent time at a Starbucks. We ate at some barbecue restaurant.
  • Tony caused me a brief scare. We were walking in a crowded Nanchang Market. He turned a corner while in my sight. I turned the corner two seconds after he did and I lost sight of him for two minutes. What he had done was quickly turn the corner and climb up a pedestal to look at some animals on display.
  • Later, Tony & I were at the Nanchang Temple Book Market when these two girls came up to me, told me Tony was very cute, and asked if they could take a photo with him. Tony refused in no uncertain terms. I had to apologize to the girls.
  • The public bikes are in the stall, but the card machines, that one has to use to borrow them, are not yet in operation. When will they be? I was keen to try the bikes this long weekend but it won't happen.
  • [Later] I took Tony out briefly this afternoon, we took the e-bike to the area near the bridge that joins the Hui Shan and Jiangyin Districts, and where we do some train spotting. Today, we didn't actually spend much time on the bridge deck. We instead rode further on to an overpass over the freeway that connects Jiangyin and Wuxi cities. We were able to do some trainspotting from this spot because not away, the high speed rail runs over the freeway as well. I took video which you will be able to see at Youtube or Youku!
  • Tony was a putz. As quickly as we got out to Jiangyin, he wanted to go home. He wasn't at all interested in exploring.
  • I have made my first Microsoft Train Simulation video. It will be shown on Youku. Using a David Bowie for music, I can't upload it to Youtube.

Monday [April 7]
[Home Laptop]

  • I did upload a video to Youtube last night. Entitled Trainspotting from an Overpass, it was filmed and edited yesterday.
  • No shifts for me. No school for Tony. I'd like to take Tony out but he would prefer to play with all our gadgets.
  • I may not be able to publish this blog entry today. Family things will take up my time.
  • Uploading of the torrents I really want has been slow. I want to watch some episodes of Sarah Palin's Alaska show and The Search for the Trojan War documentary that I have always admired.
  • How can you improve yourself? Listening to a podcast from Vatican Radio, a priest suggested that, during Lent, a good Christian should reach out to ten people who one normally would not talk to. I should do something like this, and I must confess that I go into my way to do nothing of the sort. I have to change this.
  • How can you improve yourself? I got to be a happy warrior, not the sullen and passive one that I am now.
  • Tony tells me that he has too much computer today. It seemed a surprising admission from him till he grabbed the Ipad from me. Clever of him to twist a criticism of his parents to suit his needs.
  • I have just watched the first episode of the new Cosmos series. Way back when, I was enthralled with the first series and its host Carl Sagan. I even requested and then got the companion book to the series for a Christmas/Birthday present. That there would be attempt at a sequel to the series is not unexpected. With video and graphic technology as it is, an update of the visuals would make the sequel worthwhile. Watching the first episode, I can say that the visuals are quite something and it was a treat to watch the show on the big screen via my Apple TV device. Unfortunately, the show took some shots at the Catholic Church and Christians that were scientism propaganda. (The fact that they used cartoons to show this version of what did happen was telling. Cartoon history.) The real history of what happened and why it did was more complex than people who see everything a scientist – ignorant savage lens could ever begin to fathom or understand. The host, Neil DeGrasse Tyson who, I earlier this week said was Bryant-Gumbelish and black, was black the whole show through, and wasn't so Bryant-Gumbelish as I first thought. He seemed a nice enough guy. He didn't speak in a strident manner. However, he was no Sir Kenneth Clark who spoke in an authoritative and yet personal way about Western Civilization in that 1969 series Civilisation (Civilisation ages quite well in fact compared to the Cosmos of Carl Sagan). Tyson's manner is too much of a nerd trying to sound authoritative.
  • Watch Civilisation and then watch the new Cosmos. Which show is conducted in a more intelligent manner? Which show is more appreciative of the genius of the past?
  • I will watch further episodes of the new Cosmos.


Anonymous said...


Harry Moore said...

Yes, the casting for Once Upon a Time in the West was curious, to say the least. Many people didn't recognise it as a Leone film as many of its sequences were filmed in the US, notably, a wagon in Monument Valley.

Have you seen Leone's final film, 'Once Upon a Time in America'?

Andis Kaulins said...

I haven't seen Once Upon a Time in America yet.

Andis Kaulins said...

I haven't seen Once Upon a Time in America yet.

Gordon the Gormandizer said...

Tuesday April 8th, your thoughts on "poetry and music...can be explained by biology and neurology...".

Exactly, and it was God who created the elements of biology, neurology, and EVERYTHING else that is tangible. Including the words, (your words, above!) and meanings of words, that in their confluence we label as 'language' with which you've just expressed those ideas, in writing - ???

Harry m