Tuesday, May 27, 2014

On May 28, 2012, My Father Died

Two years today my father Arnis died.

I suppose I could say I was fortunate that I was able to be with him for his final days for it was by chance that I happened to be with him in Brandon, Manitoba, Canada. But I choke up when I think that I had spend so many years away.

Please visit the page I have dedicated to him. I would appreciate it if you could leave a comment, sign the guest book as it were.

Gone but not forgotten.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Diary: May 20 to May 26, 2014

  • This week's question: Can you tell us some items that you would put on an anti-bucket list?
  • Andis sees an impatiently done driving maneuver get punished.
  • Andis rants about the current uniform styles of Major League Baseball.
  • Andis reflects on his father.
  • The weather gets hot in Wuxi.
  • Andis listens to some podcasts.
  • Andis reflects after reading an article on loneliness.
  • Andis says Coriolanus is his favorite Shakespeare play.
  • Andis has theory about Wuxi's bad drivers.
  • Andis watches a 1953 Alec Guinness movie.
  • Andis talks to a student about the JFK assassination and Lin Biao.
  • Andis takes Tony downtown on Sunday.
  • Andis is called Mr. Wuxi.
  • Andis actually meets a rare reader of his blog and is put on the spot for something he wrote.
  • Andis & Tony see a monkey.
  • Andis visits the newly opened Mr. PIZZA in the Hui Shan Wanda Plaza.
  • Andis like Chairman Mao is seventy percent right.

Tuesday [May 20]
[Home Laptop]
  • I have downloaded and watched half of the latest episode (s437) of Game of Thrones.
  • I have just published last week's entry. Editing the entry, I saw that I had nothing to say and that I wasn't saying it very well.
  • Sometime on the weekend, I was watching some highlights from MLB and I became disgusted by the uniforms being worn. The Angels wore these caps that look to have been designed by a graffiti vandal. And the bottom of the uniform pants for most of the teams are being being allowed to flare out, which seems ugly as sin to me.
  • Tony can take showers by himself.
  • This morning, Tony came up to me and gave me a hug and said “I love you Daddy!” I wondered why. What was his ulterior motive?
  • Watching the Rangers and Canadiens live on my Ipad.
[School Laptop]
  • This week's shifts: Tuesday, 13:00-21:00; Wednesday, 13:00-21:00; Thursday, 10:00-21:00; Friday, 11:00 to 21:00; and Saturday 10:00 to 18:00.
  • Construction is annoying on the stretch of Zhongshan Road near our school. Sidewalk and road is being torn up everywhere making for piles of rubble and sand.
  • I will determine this week's question, now. Can you tell us some items that you would put on an anti-bucket list? I want to go through life without ever having considered gotten a tattoo. I don't want attend a rap or hip-hop concert.
Wednesday [May 21]
[Home Laptop]
  • What can I say for myself?
  • I don't have much to say for myself about being China. I spend most of my time, consuming media on my PC and Ipad and Ipod.
  • Yesterday, I finished watching the latest episode of Game of Thrones (s4e7) and the 11th episode of Sir Kenneth Clark's Civilisation. GoT is keeping my interest though the last scene of s4e7 was predictable. You just knew minutes before that that lady would be pushed. The Worship of Nature episode put me off by Clark's stating at the beginning of the episode that in 1725 the Christian religion suddenly declined in England and was replaced by the worship of nature. Well, if that was the truth, what of it? That it should be so is a sad thing but not a disapproval of the Christian Religion.
  • I spend the morning causing trouble with my WCE blog.
  • HM's birthday tomorrow.
  • The anniversary of my Father's death is a week away. I was just doing a Google search to see what images came up when I typed his name and the word death. One photo that popped up was a old photo of Dad giving a medal to the captain of a championship team in a minor hockey league that he volunteered to run in the 1970s. My Dad had many flaws, but his volunteering spirit showed him at his best. I remember with bitterness how when things didn't work out, the people who didn't volunteer would criticize him. I observe now with bitterness that Wuxi people are far more likely to cut pedestrians with their cars (while talking on their mobile phones) or cheat in business deals than volunteer to help the community or others.
[School Laptop]
  • Attempting to cross the intersection on my way to the Casa Kaulins bus stop, a dickhead Wuxi driver didn't fail to surprise me by cutting me off. He was attempting to make a left turn and couldn't wait for me to cross the street. I told him to fuck off with hope that he heard me. I then gave him the middle finger gesture with hope that he saw me. What the fuck is wrong with Wuxi drivers? Has Chicomism made them selfish dicks? Or are they at a lower stage of civilization?
  • Can you tell us some items that you would put on an anti-bucket list? I don't want to drive a car in China. [What I would like to do is drive a tank and run cars, preferably with Wuxi drivers therein, over.]
  • There are efforts afoot to form an American football team in Wuxi. From what I have seen their efforts at designing a name and logo have been pathetic. First off, they are wearing these shirts with the number 88 on them. 88 is Neo-Nazi code for Heil Hitler! They are also going to give their team a nickname having to do with devils. I can think of four or five nicknames that reflect the fact that they are in Wuxi. 1)The Wuxi Peach Kings 2) The Wuxi Bad Drivers 3) The Wuxi White Elephants 4)The Wuxi Sweet 5)The Wuxi Tin Kings.

Thursday [May 22]
[School Laptop]
  • Today's shift: 10:00 to 21:00.
  • It is hard for me to have talks with Tony. For four days a week, I can only talk to him in the morning when he is mostly inattentive on account of having just got up very early to go to school. I can't even get a yes-no answer out of him when I am taking him to be picked up and taken to school.
  • While waiting for the car that was to pick up Tony this morning, I saw a car get stuck when trying to back up. This car, the backing up car I will call it, came to a stop in the lane by a parking space (which was perpendicular to the lane). The backing up car had hesitated and so all the other cars behind it drove around it. That was about eight cars in total. And there was another car, the impatiently driven car I will call it, that also had to wait for the eight cars to pass as well, before it could proceed. What the driver of the impatiently driven car had done was impatiently try to drive around a car, on the passenger side, that had stopped because of the backing up car. This quick maneuver resulted in the impatiently driven car being blocked by the backing up car. Both these cars had to wait for the other eight cars to pass before they could go on their way. It was nice to see ass-hat Wuxi driver impatience get punished.
  • I am listening to the Tyranny of Cliches audio book, written and read by Jonah Goldberg. It is a sequel to Liberal Fascism. So far, I find I am preferring the sequel. This could be because Goldberg is more fun to listen to for long stretches than read. I read Liberal Fascism. For me, Tyranny of Cliches is essentially an Amen book chronicling the stupidity of Liberalism.
  • The construction on Zhongshan Road is creating these islands of torn up pavement that cars and buses have to swerve to avoid. I very much hate it in the evening because after school, when I am trying to get to my preferred 635 bus stop, the first bus I have to take will get stuck in a traffic jam and screw up the timing so necessary for me to ensure that I get a seat on my long bus ride back home.
  • I could be watching the third period the second game of the Black Hawks – Kings series but I will be teaching a class.
  • Dean!!! I just had a student named Dean in a class. He hadn't heard of Dean Martin and the Rat Pack. But why would I have expected him to? He told me that he had gone to Singapore to meet some girl he was having an Internet romance with but it didn't work out. The girl lost interest in him. Heartbreaking I can imagine but what can you do?
  • Can you tell us some items that you would put on an anti-bucket list? I don't want to be divorced. I don't want to be an adulterer. I don't want to drive any expensive sports cars. I don't want to go under water diving. I don't want to go to Hawaii. I don't want to go surfing.
Friday [May 23]
[School Laptop]
  • Today's shift: 11:00 to 21:00.
  • I was listening to the Radio Free Delingpole podcast this morning, and a line came up which I must repeat to my rare readers because it is all so true. The demand of the Left for White Racists far outstrips supply.
  • The weather today is warm. Yesterday, two students talked about the warm spring weather making them sleepy.
  • Last salon I conducted a salon class about Global Warming. It isn't my favorite topic but this class actually had some students say some interesting things. One student said that much of the pollution in China is a result of foreign companies coming here to pollute. Whether this is true or not, I cannot rightly say. The first reaction to the statement made by the student that I can think of is that it takes two to tango. China wants the foreign companies here. The second reaction that comes to mind is that it is hard to believe that Chinese companies really care about doing something about pollution.
  • The next podcast I listened to this morning made mention of the Cultural Revolution. Said Mona Charen: it was a very horrible and depraved thing. I had a few students, when I first came here, tell me that it was a time of madness. My wife tells me how it splits people still in her village. There are people she won't associate with from her hometown because of it.
  • I have the feed of the third game of Rangers—Canadiens series on my computer. I have to decide if I should study Chinese or watch the game. Not feeling comfortable with choosing either, I will try to do both.
  • I wonder if the cultural revolution can explain why Wuxi people are such bad drivers.
  • Can you tell us some items that you would put on an anti-bucket list? I have to be careful when I answer this question. I want to say things that could possibly be on other people's bucket lists. So! I don't want to visit Jim Morrison's grave. I don't want to drive an expensive sports car. I don't want to own a Rolex.

Saturday [May 24]
[School Laptop]
  • Today's shift: 10:00 to 18:00.
  • I was annoyed at Tony last night. It has crossed my mind but last night it became very apparent that Tony doesn't talk much to me, and that we don't have real conversations. He will talk to his mother in Chinese and will often ask her what I had been trying to say to him.
  • There was an interesting article, that was became aware of thanks to a email update, in the American Spectator on loneliness. The modern mores have made Americans by and large a group of lonely individuals. Being Canadian, I am affected by the same winds of culture that Americans are; and living a life that has been plagued by loneliness, it would seem nice for me to blame my loneliness and isolation on the culture, and it would seem nice for me to say to if only the culture or the people I do run into were somehow better, I wouldn't be so lonely. But I do have a misanthropic streak in me that I think I would have had any age I would have lived. (though I could say that in a more enlightened age I would have more readily become aware of monasteries). Anyway, articles on loneliness draw my attention in spite of a somewhat spiteful desire on my part to embrace solitariness. [Should I have used spite in two ways in that sentence?] And there was a factoid in the article that really hit home with me. It said that the longer one's commute to work, the more one felt lonely or socially isolated. That is so true in my situation where I ride the bus for two hours a day to get to work and back.
  • No dinner yesterday. I decided about lunchtime that I would fast till I got home.
  • I also decided to make a point of sitting down at my seat for as long as possible, only getting up to go to classes. I remember reading Florence King extolling the discipline necessary to be able to sit for long times in one place without fidgeting or giving into an urge to get up and chat.
  • Coriolanus. That has to be my favorite Shakespeare play. I don't fashion myself to be a Coriolanus. Though he hated the mob and was no middle-of-the-roader trying to appeal to them, he earned his contempt for them through getting scars and exhibiting tremendous physical courage. I am fearful of confrontation and wouldn't definitely shirk from any physical threat to my person. I have to admire Coriolanus and envy his being able to adopt the attitude that he did toward them. The mob is full of meatheads and he was right to despise it. Are politicians who talk of the mob as if it was full of simple well-meaning folk who don't get high all the time or don't brag of debaucheries, speaking truthfully or cowardly kow-towing? I suspect the latter. Coriolanus is a play that tells us what is so wrong with the modern world.
  • I can see some Obamacolytes saying that Obama is like Coriolanus. Obama is the man of virtue having to deal with a mob of bigots and conservatives and homophobes and so on. I of course wouldn't agree with this depiction. I would say Obama does have an element of Coriolanus's despising of the mob, but what he really despises is the country he thinks he is serving so honorably. He despises America. As well a comparison between Coriolanus and Obama also breaks down on the fact that Coriolanus before confronting the mob, had performed acts of extraordinary physical. That couldn't be said about Obama who was elected on false hopes of what he could be. Furthermore, Coriolanus told the mob to stuff it and joined his sworn enemies. Is there any chance that Obama will quit the presidency of the country he despises and move to France or somewhere else in the European Union, Iran, Venezuela, Cuba,or North Korea? If he did, I would gladly said he was like Coriolanus for giving up a cushy life, is as much as that would be an act of courage that we can expect in this modern world.
  • Can you tell us some items that you would put on an anti-bucket list? I don't want to see the Xian Warriors. I feel that place is probably a vulgar tourist spot. I don't want to go skiing in the Swiss Alps. I don't want to go golfing in Augusta.
  • I am almost finished watching this 1953 Alec Guinness move the Captain's Paradise. Great performance of Guinness who I am thinking I will honor by making him the King of the Wuxi China Expatdom. The perfect life says the Captain character played by Guinness in the movie? Two women of complimentary temperaments and the intellectual company of men. Says the Captain: The women who can bring home the groceries, can't bring home the milk. I am not exactly sure what is meant by that line but it seems funny and clever nonetheless. My life would be a one in three to the captain. But in the end it seems that the life that the Captain created that had those elements of perfection has broken down.
  • I will spend the day here, when not in a class, working on my blog thingies. I feel I have fulfilled my Chinese study requirement for the week and day.
  • I just spent an hour talking about the JFK assassination and Lin Biao with a student. The student mentioned some interesting factors in the mystery of Biao's plane crash. Biao had a wife who was ambitious and impatient, said the student, who forced Biao to reluctantly make a plan to bomb Mao's train. And Chou En Lai had the power over the use of air planes. The student said that Chou approved Biao using the plane but told Mao that Biao was escaping so that Mao would make the decision to shot the plane down.
  • I have had that humid feeling in class today. Summer is here.

Sunday [May 25]
[Home Laptop]
  • No shifts today.
  • It is humid. I went for a walk and now I am all in a sweat.
  • Last night and this morning, I watched Magnum Force, a classic Dirty Harry movie. The film had a great look and feel and sound. Clint Eastwood was the epitome of cool. The film ended rather improbably however even if it did allow a great shot of Clint saying that a man had to know his limitations.
  • I watched the highlights of the Champions League Final. Having watched a lot of Stanley Cup playoff highlights, I can say that football or soccer does allow a spectator time to see the buildup to a goal as well it being scored. Too often in hockey, the goal is scored and you have to watch the replay to see what happened.
  • Can you tell us some items that you would put on an anti-bucket list? I don't want to attend the NFL draft. I don't want to meet the President of the United States. I don't want to attend a major tennis event. I don't want to attend an Olympic event. I don't want to say I have cooked a gourmet meal. I don't want to go to the Red Light District in Amsterdam. I don't want to see the lady boys in Thailand. I don't want to smoke Cuban cigars.
  • [Later] In the afternoon, I took Tony downtown so I could buy myself something from Burger King and buy Tony a toy. We took the 25 bus and it got stuck in traffic downtown. It gave me time to think about an email I got from Arielle. Once Tony & I were off the bus, we walked through the Nanchang Temple Market area, browsing at toy shops along the way, to get to the Nanchang Jie Burger King or Han Bao Wang as the locals would call it. I ordered an Italian Triple Stacker with fries and two drinks. I ate the sandwich, Tony refusing my offers to try it, and shared the fries with Tony.
  • Leaving Burger King I ran into a couple of Americans who are teaching English at a program or school that is on the campus of Jiangnan University. One of the teachers insisted that I was mister Wuxi. I denied it and now wish I could have said something about my 49 year old body being a long way from some Adonis like muscularity it may have had in my early twenties. And I said that if I was famous, I would rather have money; the fame having not earned me any benefits. The other teacher said he was a regular reader of my blog, and had seen videos of Tony on the bridge deck during a session of trainspotting. He mentioned my having written something about not liking to talk to foreigners. I scoffed in response and talked about how I hated to see other foreigners in my territory of Wuxi. Of course, the truth of the matter is that I write things in a spiteful mood and don't have the good sense to not publish these spiteful things. The only thing I can truly say in my defense is that my reactionary posture and misanthropy is a mental pose or delusion that is almost always instantly disarmed by friendliness on the part of others. [If you are reading this, Andy, please make a comment or send me an email.]
  • The two gentlemen taught writing and what they told me about it was just as I imagined from the few times I have students ask me to edit some piece of writing for them.
  • While I was talking to the gentleman, a man dragging a monkey came by asking for money. I gave him two rmb.
  • To be continued, tomorrow.....

Monday [May 26]
[Home Laptop]
  • I will continue on with what I did yesterday.
  • After talking to the two gentleman and seeing the monkey yesterday afternoon, Tony & I walked from Ba Bai Ban to buy a toy. Tony of choose a Ultraman toy that cost 99 rmb and earned the wrath of Jenny when she found out how much I had spent on it.
  • When she asked me how much the toy cost, I told her 60 or 70 rmb. Later when she found the receipt and saw that I had in fact spent 99, she was annoyed. I defended myself using the formulation used by the Chinese Communist party in their assessment of Chairman Mao. I was 70 percent right, not a liar, I said.
  • From Ba Bai Ban, Tony & I took the bus back to Hui Shan where we meet Jenny at the recently opened Mr. PIZZA in the Wanda Plaza. As far as I can tell, Mr. PIZZA is a pizza restaurant chain started by Chinese. All the people featured in their ads are Chinese. I believe that Mr. PIZZA is in fact Chinese. The food was not bad though I did come in with very low expectations. The pizza was like Domino's. The fried chicken salad was big and could be a meal itself for just 20 rmb. The only thing that I found off-putting about the restaurant was the showing of video of Mr PIZZA personnel participating in some pizza dough spinning competition. Not a real useful skill and I don't see how it makes the pizza taste any better.
  • The K clan then went to Tesco to see if we could find a bike for Tony to ride this summer. The one bike we would like to have wasn't in very good condition – its brakes didn't work and the training wheels were wobbly.
  • When I got home, I phoned my brother in Canada. We switched from phone to Facetime on our Ipads for the rest of our conversation. Our reception of Ron was great. We could hear him and the video never got stuck buffering. Ron, however, kept telling us that video of me on his Ipad was periodic.
  • Today, it is scorching outside. Waiting at a bus stop, I was suffering. I found Wuxi summers to be unbearable.
  • Can you tell us some items that you would put on an anti-bucket list? Today. I can't think of anything to put on the list.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Diary: May 13 to May 19, 2014

  • Andis answers the following question: Can you tell your readers seven things that you are interested in?
  • Andis consumes a lot of media on his Ipad.
  • Andis heard some students say the darnedest things.

Tuesday [May 13]
[Home Laptop]
  • Can you tell your readers seven things that you are interested in? Yes, I can. Each day this week, I will tell you one thing I am interested in. The first thing I am interested in is Roman Catholicism. Why? Because of the following people: David Warren, Seablogger, Evelyn Waugh, William F Buckley, GK Chesterton, Pope Benedict, Hillaire Belloc, Anthony Esolen, Cardinal Newman, TS Eliot, Flannery O'Connor, and so on.
  • Last night, I took Tony to the Hui Shan Central Park and then to the square near the first stop of the #1 Wuxi Metro Line. At the park, Tony ran around and played on the slides and climbing fixtures. I noticed that new signs had been put up all over the park but one of the playsets hadn't been repaired and was in a dangerous state; and I saw a van that had somehow managed to evade the barriers put up to stop motor vehicles from being driven into the park. And to top it off, the van parked on the lawn. At the square, Tony played with some children who I presumed were his classmates from school. I talked briefly to a woman who was studying English at my school. In 2008, she had bought a house which is now near that subway stop. She is sitting pretty.
  • I watch the film Psycho last night. What can I say? It's a classic.
[School Laptop]
  • My shifts this week: Tuesday 13-21, Wednesday 13-21, Thursday 10-21, Friday 11-21, Saturday 10-18, and Sunday 10-18. I get overtime this week! Hurray!
  • My trip to work was uneventful.

Wednesday [May 14]
[Home Laptop]
  • Last night's salon topic: Fantasy and Reality. I asked the students who or what they fantasized about. A male student told me he fantasized about Lebron James.... ahhh.....He didn't understand.
  • I had a no-show for my 8:00 PM class and so I got to go home early.
  • I watched the sixth episode of the fourth season of Game of Thrones and the second episode of the first season of House of Cards. I should adopt the affectation of the Spacey character in HoC and talk to the camera that I believe is following me around. If Spacey is really such a wonderful actor, he should find a third thing to talk to when performing: a hedgehog named Norman. George Stephanopolous – if I spell his name right, I don't care – makes an appearance in that show. Stephanopolous is the egregious hack from the Clinton election team – he starred in the documentary The War Room – who became a hack journalist. Seeing him appear in the show is enough to make me want to stop watching it. There was also a character in the show who used the line trickle-down foreign policy in saying he didn't agree with Reagan except for his trickle-down economic policy which was a reference to a Democratic myth.... Aagghh! I'll keep watching the show anyway.
  • I overheard a story of a car that hit the back of a Wuxi public bus. It was a case of a Wuxi driver turning onto the road and not looking. And yet, the car driver thought the bus driver was at fault. It would seem that Wuxi drivers do believe that everyone should just get out of their way.
  • Why am I interested in Roman Catholicism? It is a beautiful thing when done right. It stands athwart the modern world. It embraces paradox. It gives free range to all the concerns we have about the world while keeping them in proper perspective. It really is the key to unlocking the mystery of our existence.
  • I listened to two Econtalk podcasts yesterday. The first one was about Bitcoin. The second one was about the economics of towns and cities. The second podcast was the more interesting because it discussed the kind of the things one can see everyday with one's own eyes: road and other sorts of municipal construction. Besides the well known problems caused to their financing by their worker pensions, cities in America are in dire straits because of perverse incentives which caused them to build white elephant mega projects, unnecessary roads, and neglect the basic services they were always meant to supply like policing and basic infrastructure maintenance. The take-away line from the podcast for me was the point made by the guest that city governments should get out of the business of trying to drive economic innovation. Innovation is for the private sector to do.
  • The podcast was especially interesting for me in light of what I am witnessing happen in Wuxi where a seemingly unsustainable building binge, with apartments and shopping malls and subways being constructed, is taking place.
  • Narrow streets encourage pedestrian traffic and wide roads encourage traffic flow. So the podcast did say. The wide boulevards around Casa Kaulins are monstrosities. I hate them. I only really feel I am in China when walking down its narrow streets. I can think of two in Wuxi that I love walking down because they seem lively. One is close to Casa Kaulins. I walk down it sometimes to get to the central park. The street is a few hundred meters long but is full of shops and restaurant, and has lots of pedestrian traffic. The other is the street I walk down from the bus 25 terminal stop to my school. This street is narrower that the one close to my apartment but again is lively because of its compactness. Zhongshan Road, on the other hand, is full of cars and buses and empty storefronts.
[School Laptop]
  • Today's shift: 13:00 to 21:00.
  • I took the 25 bus to get to school and had another uneventful trip.
  • I can't get access my email account. This hasn't happened to me in a long time. Trainers with yahoo accounts had this problem often. I had this problem when I was using my gmail account and then I switched to a qq account which had given me far less trouble until today.
  • Can you tell your readers seven things that you are interested in? The second thing I am interested in is China. Why? Because I have to be, being here and all. I am learning to read simplified Chinese and I like to read about Chinese history. I don't want to a Sinologist though. If anything, I want to be thought as an anti-Sinologist, someone who observes the Chinese but has no desire to be an expert about them.
  • Another thing that annoyed me about that second episode of House of Cards. The Spacey character – he is the majority leader of the house or representatives – has some young college kids working on an education bill. Education bill! That shouldn't be a federal responsibility!

Thursday [May 15]
[School Laptop]
  • Today's shift: 10:00 to 21:00. No class in the morning, so I can work on the things that interest me. I then have a salon class, topic: conversation, at 13:00. Then, three classes in the evening. The 20:00 class is the Music Salon where I will try to play music for the students using my Ipod or Ipad.
  • Last night, for the last class of the evening, I had a pair of lively and talkative students. I fed off their energy and enjoyed talking to them. However, I had no advice to offer them about improving their English.
  • In the class I mentioned where the male student told me he fantasized about Lebron James, I forgot to mention that one of the women said she fantasized about Putin. A much more acceptable answer.
  • Took the 602and then the 67 bus to get to work.
  • Weather today is nice.
  • I am monitoring the game seven between the Bruins and Les Canadiens. Yesterday, the two game sevens were 2-1 affairs. The goals scored were the result of mistakes and crazy bounces, and no real offensive imagination or initiative. The important games during the NHL playoffs can be snoozers as it seems that the puck's random movements and not the players will decide who wins.
  • Anyway, Les Canadiens lead the Bruins 2-1 in the second period. I will cheer for a Canadien victory.
  • Can you tell your readers seven things that you are interested in? The third thing I will say that I am interested in is Economics. I am particularly interested in microeconomics, the sort of economic things that you can see with your own eyes. I find Macroeconomics and Econometrics boring. These two fields of economics are about as useful to people as alchemy and astrology. Value is subjective and so any economic numbers you work with are the result of subjectivity. Economic numbers are not as hard as the numbers of physics or of natural number mathematics.

Friday [May 16]
[School Laptop]
  • Today's shift: 11:00 to 21:00. I have an 11:00 class and then three classes, including an English corner, in the evening from 18:00 to 21:00. I will have plenty of time in the afternoon to work on keeping myself busy.
  • I have these interior rages that would physically manifest themselves, to anyone who would be watching me, as sudden mad gnashing of teeth and clutching of fists accompanied by a sudden straightening of the shoulders. The rages overtake me for an instance before I mentally take a step back and wonder why I have them.
  • There should be no wonder about these rages, not that I have taken a step back and thought about them. Some things in my life are not as they should be.
  • To say one is middle-of-the-road is to be glib.
  • The teams in the NHL playoffs seem to be evenly matched and the goals that are being scored are the result of some good fortune like a wild careen of a puck that no player, even the most properly positioned and alert, could anticipate. But for an offensive team to produce these careens of good fortune there has to be good fortune in turn.
  • Jenny & Tony will be going to Beixing, Jenny's hometown, on the weekend. I will have Casa Kaulins to myself on Saturday night.
  • Can you tell your readers seven things that you are interested in? The fourth thing I am interested in is blogging, whether writing or reading them. I have six blogs that I update on a regular basis. Four and a half of them are basically photo blogs. The blog that I put this diary entry in is my one blog that is completely devoted to writing. I read about three blogs on a regular basis: The David Warren blog, the Duff and Nonsense blog, and the blog of Peter Hitchens (the brother of the famous Christopher). Reading those three blogs is inspiring to me as a blogger and also humbling. Their writing can be glorious and it is finally dawning on me that I could never write like them. I must confess that I don't read any blogs about China.

Saturday [May 17]
[School Laptop]
  • Today's shift is 10:00 to 18:00.
  • Can you tell your readers seven things that you are interested in? The fifth thing I am interested in is books. I must have nearly two thousand of them on my Ipad. I love all sorts of books except anything that would trashy or pornographic.
  • I have discovered that I can get a live feed of an NHL playoff game on my computer. [Later: It wasn't much of a game and I was teaching anyway and so I didn't get to see much .]
  • What is a network?” I asked the student, who was bitterly amusing me with his obvious lack of preparedness. He told me that a network was used to catch people.
  • In the game I didn't watch much of, the Kings defeated the Ducks 6-2 and clinched a spot in the Western Conference Final against the Black Hawks. I would like to see a Canadiens – Black Hawks Stanley Cup Final. The first Stanley Cup final that I was ever aware of as it happened was the 1973 final between the Black Hawks and the Canadiens.

Sunday [May 18]
[School Laptop]
  • My shift today: 10:00 to 17:00. Overtime.
  • Jenny & Tony went to Beixing (J's hometown yesterday). I heard that Tony hurt himself playing basketball.
  • So while the cats were away, the mice played? Sort of. I spoiled myself. I had a pizza from Pizza Hut for supper. I made myself a Crown Royal and coke. On the Apple TV, I watched the end of the movie Coriolanus, the third episode of the first season of House of Cards, and the tenth episode (The Smile of Reason) of Kenneth Clark's Civilisation.
  • Coriolanus, a great Shakespeare play, was made into a great movie by Ralph Fiennes who updates the play by setting in a Yugoslavian Civil War type situation. I suppose everyone identifies himself with Coriolanus in that he is against the world and the mob. Of course, Coriolanus earns his right to denounce his mob with his incredible physical acts of courage. These days, a figure like Obama fashions himself to be like Coriolanus in that he has to put up with people who disagree with him.
  • House of Cards shows the Spacey character making a tear-inducing sermon in a church for entirely political purposes. It annoys him to have to do this because he would rather be working on an education bill. He loathes small-ball local concerns, does this Washington politician.
  • The Smile of Reason episode of Civilisation was very beautiful to watch. It showed truly beautiful art done by truly skilled artists. And it was made before anyone had even thought of CGI graphics.
  • I have seen lineups, hundreds of people long before opening time, at several banks this weekend. I will have to ask some students if they might know why. Was I witnessing a bank run? Were people expecting some kind of deposit to be put in their accounts? Were the banks having a promotion? Did the Wuxi people heard rumors of banks giving away free money? [I just asked a student and he told me that free subway tickets were being given away. So, it was like free money.]
  • Can you tell your readers seven things that you are interested in? The sixth thing I am interested in is American politics. Conrad Black says it is a magnificent spectacle. I agree with him but not without a sense of shame. I should have more interest in Canadian politics but I can't help but feel that the important debates about universal man are taking place in America. Furthermore, I envy those who can go through life with nary a concern for politics and don't bother to vote in elections because democratic politics does seem a puerile activity. Over concern with politics and too much time spent on hating people with different politics can turn one into a crank.... Be that as it may, I listen to podcasts about U.S. Politics every day.

Monday [May 19]
[Home Laptop]

  • No shifts today.
  • Tony got a red mark on his face because some classmate hit him with a rope. The teacher told Jenny that Tony and this boy are basically roughhousing it every day, and that after the boy struck Tony, he immediately apologized.
  • What can you do? Boys will be boys.
  • Can you tell your readers seven things that you are interested in? The seventh thing I am interested in is listening to podcasts. Before there was ever podcasting, I loved listening to Talk Radio. I remember using a transistor radio to pick up signals from Boston, Philadelphia and New York when I lived in New Brunswick. When I was in Manitoba, I would try to listen to radio from Chicago and Minneapolis. I remember a Minneapolis station playing replays of the Rush Limbaugh show late at night. So you can see that for a person with my radio listening experiences, podcasts were a god-sent. I can now listen to podcasts about US politics, Economics, History, and Roman Catholicism. My favorite podcasts about US politics include Radio Derb, the Three Martini podcast, Mad Dogs and Englishmen, the Riccochet Podcast, Need to Know with Mona Charen and Jay Nordlinger, Uncommon Knowledge, Radio Delingpole, the GLOP culture podcast, and the Milt Rosenberg Show. My favorite podcasts about economics are the Econ Talk blog, and Coffee and Markets. My favorite history podcasts are the China History podcast, Dan Carlin's Hardcore History and the Russian Rulers podcast. To satisfy my Roman Catholic urges I listen to Vatican Radio podcasts, EWTN podcasts, Forward Boldly and Father Z's blog. Other podcasts I will listen to, on occasion, include the Charles Adler Show (from Winnipeg), the Rex Murphy audio podcast (from Canada), Great Lives (from the BBC), Frank Delaney's ReJoyce podcast, Popup Chinese, Mark Levin, and Grammar Girl.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Diary: May 6 to May 12, 2014

  • This week's question for Andis: What are some things that you think should be prohibited? (This question was raised in a recent Theodore Dalrymple essay. See the quote in Akicistan #10.)
  • On Thursday, Andis couldn't find his wallet.
  • On Friday, Andis liked the idea of not having a wallet. Andis also advocated the rapping of knuckles. That be, the knuckles of students.
  • Andis had a remarkable result from his coin tossing tournament program.
  • On Saturday, Andis walked around Li Hu Lake and got very very very wet.
  • Andis drank beer at a Burger King.
  • Sunday was Mother's Day.
  • Andis watched the film On the Beach and mixed up his Anthonys.
  • Andis was cut off twice by vehicles as he was attempting to cross at an intersection near Casa Kaulins.
  • Andis wrote about an underpass in Kemnay, Manitoba.

Tuesday [May 6]
[Home Laptop]
  • For what's it worth, I have just published last week's dairy entry. I read through the entry ten times, and each time I found some wording that bothered me.
  • How come I haven't heard much talk of driver-less cars lately?
  • Last night, I got Tony out of the house. If he had his way, he would have played on my Ipad all evening. He very much didn't want to go out and had a tantrum and a session of brooding when I did get him out. There was a stand off on a roadside, I sitting on the e-bike and he standing, for ten minutes. He was wanting to go home; I was wanting to ride around the area. Eventually, I won out, and Tony had me go home to get his push-bike. I followed him as he took his push-bike from our apartment to the Metro station and back.
  • The closest Metro stop and the end of the Wuxi Metro line is near the Hui Shan White House and the Olympic Apartments. At the corner of the Olympic apartments near the line, Tony & I happened to wander by when a train was stopped. There, the track runs and comes to an end about 500 meters from the metro station. So the train having gone to the final station carries on and use the extra track to change direction and track. It comes to a temporary stop and people nearby can have a gander at it, like Tony and I did last night.
  • What are some things that you think should be prohibited? I should be careful of the things I list because I don't want to seem tyrannical and I don't want to use this question as a means of complaining about things I see in Wuxi. I will try to keep my prohibitions focused on the West and Westerners. The first thing I would like to see prohibited is the use of words racism and its related forms – the word stops honest discussion. I would prohibit the wearing of tattoos except by the sort of people who had been wearing them before they came mainstream. I would prohibit the use of the word mainstream. I would prohibit basketball being talked about. I would prohibit the wearing of ties with jeans. I would prohibit divorce, except in absolutely necessary circumstances. I would prohibit abortion.
  • Listening to an Adam Carolla Podcast. I haven't been listening to his podcasts recently. What seems to happen with this podcast is that I listen to it for a stretch, find it amusing but then find it crude and vow to never listen to it again, and then I get bored with the other podcasts, or in the case of this morning, nothing on my Ipod begs “listen to me!”
[School Laptop]
  • My shift today is 13:00 to 21:00. From Tuesday to Friday, my shifts will be as follows: 13:00 to 21:00, 13:00 to 21:00, 10:00 to 21:00 and 11:00 to 21:00. Saturday is a school outing day but normally it would be 10:00 to 18:00.
  • I took a rickety 25 bus to school. As always, I looked down at my Ipad, not wanting to notice if there were old people or women with babies standing.
  • When the 25 bus passed a school, I saw about twenty kids in formation holding red flags and I groaned.
  • The 25 bus route terminates near the Nanchang Temple Market. From there, I will walk a pleasant walk down a narrow street to get to school.
  • My school has to be the quietest place in Wuxi during the day.
  • I listened to the second most recent episode of the China History Podcast. It was about a emperor in the Song Dynasty period.
  • Just after leaving the apartment this morning, I had this funny feeling that I had left the keys to the e-bike in a place where Jenny wouldn't be able to find them. But as soon as I walked back into the apartment, I saw that the keys were right where they should have been. I was doubly chagrined because I had just laid my second pair of glasses, the ones I wear at home, on top of the keys just a minute before. I was triply chagrined because I had earned Jenny's ire – she had to rise from the toilet prematurely to open the door for me.
  • The never-ending ongoing construction along Zhonghan Road has come near the school. The bus stop where I normally catch buses as soon as my evening shift is done has been closed down. I have just gone out to see where I can catch the bus tonight, and it turns out that I will have to catch buses in front of the #2 People's Hospital. I don't mind this actually because it gives me more options.
  • Why are they tearing up the pavement near our school? I am thinking that they might be doing something for the subway, perhaps an entrance to it will built near our school, but what do I know?

Wednesday [May 7]
[Home Laptop]
  • Tony thought today was Thursday. Poor fellow, he doesn't know that he is doing a stretch of six school days in a row.
  • My mind is full of ideas for my WCE Blog. I will work on that instead of this.
  • I am about a hundred pages into the Deng bio by Ezra Vogel. The book is full of details about Deng's career but seems to be missing something: details about Deng as a person. To be fair to Vogel, he is really is looking at Deng from the outside. Vogel never meet Deng and is relying on Chicom source material and interviews with some people who knew Deng.
  • Midnight, I nodded off as I was reading the Deng bio, the Ipad mini falling in my face. Five years ago, it would have been a open book resting on my nose.
[School Laptop]
  • Today's shift: 13:00 to 21:00. I arrive at school at 11:00.
  • I took the 25 bus to school, sitting at my usual place at the back on the passenger side over the rear wheel.
  • I put 100 rmb on my bus pass at a nearby bank. No lineup and so I was out in one minute splat!
  • What are some things that you think should be prohibited? Really what is being asked is what things I would prohibit if I had the power and my orders were heeded. Not having any tyrannical abilities, I don't expect any of these things to ever be prohibited. So, if I could, I would prohibit rap music, hip-hop music, the wildcard in major league baseball, the National Hockey League's giving one point to losing teams during the regular season, website clutter [My ideal is David Warren's blog site.], small talk at work, no-fault divorce, gourmet burgers, gourmet pretensions among the mass men, would-be Sinologists, foreigners trying to understand the Chinese, celebrity gossip, private motor cars, skate boarding, bicycle helmets, high heel shoes, abortion, left-wing euphemisms like pro-choice and bi-partisan, cries for bi-partisanship, the seeing of bi-partisanship as a virtue, and the downgrading of sex to a fun activity like computer games or riding a bicycle.
  • I finished watching the second episode of the BBC Series The Search for the Trojan War.
  • I finished reading The Beauties of Tennyson: a very short anthology with excerpts of Tennyson's poetry. After each poem is a drawing with a scene from the poem – goes a long way towards one understanding the poem.

Thursday [May 8]
[School Laptop]
  • My wallet has gone missing. It was this morning that I noticed. The last time I remember seeing it was yesterday afternoon about 1:00 PM. I remember taking some money out of it to buy myself some lunch. But I can't recall exactly what I did with it after that. This morning, I had assumed that I had left in the outer pouch of my backpack and so it was a bit of a surprise to not find it. I then went to look at the usual other places it could be around Casa Kaulins, and then I looked again, and then I looked again, and then I rifled through my backpack taking everything out. Nothing. I told Jenny, but she had no sympathy – she was displeased, worrying about the credit card that she knew was in the wallet. My only hope then was that perhaps I had left it at school, and would find it sitting on my desk or in a drawer.
  • I arrived at school, full of anticipation, but it wasn't there.
  • So what could have happened to it? Was it stolen? Perhaps. I don't like to carry the wallet on my person and instead leave it in an outer pouch of my backpack which is left under my desk in the trainers office at school. There was a lot of time, particularly in the evening, when someone could have come into the office, got into my bag, where my wallet should have been left, and taken it. But last night they could also have taken my Ipod and Ipad which is also left in that bag, but they didn't.
  • Could someone have picked it from my backpack as I was making my way home? Again, perhaps, but I can't think of when this could have happened. I remember I was in a rush when I got on the 85 bus which pulled into the stop just as I got there. When I sat down, I had my backpack on my lap. When I got off the 85, I had to do the ten minute walk to the 635 bus, and I don't remember pausing along the way. I stood at the 635 bus for five minutes, and someone may well have seen an opportunity to get into my backpack. Someone could have gotten into my backpack as I got on that bus. When I sat down, I sat in the back corner and had my backpack on the side under the window, so it couldn't have been swiped then. When the 635 arrived in Hui Shan and I got off, the bus was crowded, so maybe when making my way off the bus, someone could have stolen it.
  • Did I leave the wallet somewhere? There were only two places where it could have been left. First, at the restaurant where I bought my beef fried rice. Second, at the convenience store where I bought an ice tea. I will check these places out later, out of desperation.
  • The last last possible explanation I can think of for my wallet having gone missing was that it may have fallen out of my backpack. I could have forgotten to zip a pouch up and it fell out.
  • As far as losses go, the wallet having gone missing is not a big disaster. There was maybe 100 rmb in the wallet. I didn't have any identification in the wallet. There were a few Canadian coins in the wallet. There was a credit card but it couldn't be used without knowing the password. I may have left my Canadian bank card in it, but that can be replaced easily enough. The other cards were discount cards that I hardly used anyway. The worse aspect of this little bit of misfortune is that Jenny will be annoyed at me. I shrink at the prospect of having to phone her and tell her I couldn't find the wallet.
  • Still, missing the wallet will ruin my concentration for the day.
  • Funny thing, yesterday afternoon, I started to translate this little Chinese picture story book I have which is entitled 钱包 (Qiánbāo ). 钱包 is the Chinese word for wallet.
  • I finished watching the fifth episode of the fourth season of Game of Thrones last night.
  • I need to stop asking for smokes. I am such a cheap miserly sponge when I do that.
  • What are some things that you think should be prohibited? Theft. The need to carry wallets around. My asking others, who I never give the time of day to, for cigarettes.
  • [Later] I am still thinking about what could have happened to my wallet. I don't think it was stolen in school, for otherwise, the Ipod would have been stolen too. I think it may have been lost on the 635 bus when, because it was stuffy, I tried to stuff my jacket into my backpack.

Friday [May 9]
[School Laptop]
  • Last night, student Lu Fei, the one who had told me that he had gotten a black eye because he had been punched during a late-night dispute about parking, gave me a ride home. I didn't ask for it and I warned him that I lived a long way from school, but he gave me a ride anyway. As we finally got to Hui Shan and were driving past the Olympic apartments, he said that I should get a new job because I live too far from work.
  • My shift today is 11:00 to 21:00. I go to the City Hall for a English Corner and then have three classes in the evening.
  • Still reeling from the lost wallet, I am thinking that I shouldn't get a new wallet. I like having one less thing to carry about with me.
  • Tomorrow, the school will have an activity where we will be walking around Li Hu. I don't know what shoes I will wear. I really don't have any hiking shoes and the ones I would like to wear have soles that are too thin for such a long walk. I definitely won't be taking a wallet with me.
  • I am thinking that perhaps I had left the wallet on a table at the restaurant where I ordered the beef fried rice. What had happened was that I had sat down, having ordered it for takeout and waited for them to cook it up. I may then have left the wallet on the table while I was fiddling with my Ipod touch.
  • Typical things that I see in China. 1)This morning, I saw a car pull out of an underground parking garage without its driver looking. It just missed hitting another car, that was driving past the garage exit, by two feet. In Canada, this would have surely lead to a road rage incident. 2) Downtown just now, I was waiting at a bus stop for a bus to get me closer to the school. (I had mistakenly taken the 602, instead of the 602, downtown.) Near that bus stop, I saw a hair salon manager have her entire staff stand in file outside the hair salon in order to have them do a rousing chant and to give them a speech. This seems right out of the bad old days of Chinese Communism. 3)I see an old woman, about 7:00 AM, riding an e-bike. On the floorboard, between the steering column and the seat, lies a bag of vegetables which she had just purchased. [Later] 4) Waiting for the handler who was to take me to the City Hall, I saw four girls walking arm-in-arm and abreast. Chinese girls like to hold hands or be arm-in-arm when they walk together.
  • There was a scene in Game of Thrones that was said to have gone too far and raised the hackles of certain people. Game of Thrones features incest, rape, killing people for sport, and castration, so I had a hard time figuring out it was that was causing the fuss. Turned out it was the scene where the brother raped the sister beside the body of her son Joffrey who had been poisoned at his wedding. Rape at a funeral was too much for some feminist types who had not been upset before by anything else that had been depicted on the show. Anyway, what got me to thinking was the comment that the expectations of the audience had been disturbed by the fact that the Jamie Lannister character, the brother of the incestuous relationship, had been seeming to turn good. Jamie had actually crippled a child in the first season of Games of Thrones by pushing him out a window while he and his sister had been having some incestuous sex. Jamie was becoming a favorable character by having been a sympathetic companion of sorts to the giant women. And to be more specific, it was the pushing of the child out the window that got me to really thinking. What teacher hasn't dream of pushing some annoying student out the window or down some stairs? I know I have. So, Jamie has always been appealing, except for the incest.
  • Now, I don't advocate pushing children down stairs or out of windows. But it does make the rapping of knuckles by Nuns seem not so bad and enlightened in comparison.
  • What are some things that you think should be prohibited? People who take things too literally should be prohibited from engaging in debate. That is, in the case of the previous entry where I talked of pushing students out windows and down stairs. Because of dumb literal-mindedness, I had to quickly state that I wasn't advocating that. I would prohibit movies based on comic books. I would prohibit helmets in ice hockey. I would prohibit Health Nazism. I would prohibit gun-control advocacy.
  • [Later] I have gone to city hall. I have found my wallet. It is where I thought I had left it: at the restaurant where I had ordered my beef fried rice.
  • I have finished reading As You Like It by William Shakespeare. There is a clown in it named Touchstone.
  • Yesterday I was playing with coin tossing tournament programs and I got the following result:

  • What is going on here? In this five team round robin, all the teams had .500 records. Because three points are awarded for round robin victories, Baltimore and New York got the top two positions in the final standings. Baltimore was awarded first place over New York on point difference. Boston was awarded third place over Washington, which was in turn awarded fourth place over Philadelphia, because of point difference. Having played with this program a hundred times or so, I can attest that this result is remarkable. I would be dammed if I could tell the odds of getting this result but it is certainly less than 1 in a hundred.

Saturday [May 10]
[Home Laptop]
  • No shifts today as I was saying. The teachers and some students went on a 10 kilometer walk around Li Hu lake. This walk had been postponed from April 26 on account of a forecast of heavy rain. Yesterday, I learned that the forecast for today called for heavy rain. The forecast was unfortunately correct, but the school went through the activity anyway and all the participants got thoroughly soaked. The rain was heavy and the wind was strong. Walking on some bridges, we had to endure rain that was coming at us sideways and wind that was strong enough to cause our umbrellas to fold outwards. I stupidly brought along my Ipad and worried the entire time about it getting wet for my backpack was like my shoes, socks, and pants, thoroughly drenched. But the Ipad was okay as I did have it wrapped in two plastic bags.
  • We had a good time despite a dismal end, and I do hope to return to the area when the weather is nicer. I will make mention of some highlights of the trip in the following bullets:
  • We went to a outdoor theater where the seats were separated from the performance area by a moat.
  • There was a covered pedestrian bridge that afforded some nice views of hills in mists.
  • We played this game where males were assigned a value of one rmb and female were assigned a value of half a rmb. One person would call out a value and everyone would have to get into groups equal to that value. So if there a value of 2.5 rmb was called, you would have to form a group of one girl and two boys, five girls, or one boy and three girls. A fun game if you can form the latter group.
  • After the bus got us back to school. I went with teachers Zach and Dwight to the Burger King (Han Bao Wang) on Nanchang Jie Bar Street. I had an Italian Triple Stacker, onion rings, and three cans of beer. Zach brought the beers in from a nearby convenience store. I have never drunk beer before in a famous fast food chain restaurant before. What we did would have been thoroughly illegal in Canada and America, the supposed lands of freedom. That is one reason why I chose to live in China.
  • Getting on the 25 bus at six o'clock this morning, I was looking forward to listening to John Derbyshire's latest podcast; but it was my misfortune to have someone want to talk to me. It was this girl who I had meet on the bus previously many months ago and to whom I had given my We Chat number. She asked me at what ages in Canada did boys and girls start to have boyfriend and girlfriends. I first told her fourteen but then quickly added that I didn't know for sure [I never had a girlfriend till well into my twenties and had a very lonely adolescence.] but I assumed that they probably started to do this earlier than in China.
  • One more thing I see fit to mention because it may be of some interest. Earlier this week, I went around the classroom asking the students what one thing they would change about their looks if they could. One girl, who was quick pretty, answered the question by saying that she wanted to be a boy. She didn't really answer my question.... A situation that happens so often when teaching English.

Sunday [May11]
[School Laptop]
  • As I was going home yesterday from the Li Hu excursion, Jenny & Tony were taking a bus downtown. I found that this was the case just as I was close to Casa Kaulins and so I told Jenny I was too wet and tired to join them. So, I was in the house by myself for five hours. With the time to myself, I typed out yesterday's blog entry, and watched the end of the movie On the Beach and the first episode of the television series House of Cards. I went to sleep about 8:00 PM.
  • On the Beach is interesting movie, shot in black and white, that was mentioned to me by loyal reader HM from Australia. It stars Gregory Peck, Anthony Hopkins, Ava Gardner and Fred Astaire. It is set in Australia after a thermonuclear war. The war has wiped out human life in the rest of the world and also rendered it uninhabitable because of high levels of radiation. Australia, though having not participated in the war, will soon be uninhabitable too as the radiation clouds from the rest of the world are soon to arrive. So the characters in the movie all have just a few months to live. Peck plays a commander of an American nuclear submarine. At one point in the movie, his submarine goes to America to see what is happening and to check out a mysterious radio signal. The footage of San Francisco and San Diego show scenes of cities void of human life. Anthony Hopkins plays a American navy lieutenant. Hopkins has quite the scene presence, despite having a build that would probably seem too lanky for 2014 movies. I am going to have to watch Psycho again. Gardner plays a love interest to both the Peck and Astaire characters. She has the face of an beautiful Adult woman. Astaire didn't dance in this movie though a character did mention singing and dancing in a scene with Astaire. Astaire plays a scientist who helped build the nuclear weapons and is of course filled with angst about the consequences. He features in the best scenes of the movie: a car race with some amazing shots of car crashes. On the Beach is a movie built on star power and an amazing artifact from the time of the first worries about thermonuclear war. I wonder what Australians watching the movie would think of the constant playing and singing of their national anthem throughout the movie. A criticism that crossed my mind was the dress of the characters. They were dressed to the nines. One would think that the prospect of death would have made their appearance shabby, but then this movie was made before the oncoming casualness of the 1960s. Perhaps the people of that time would have bravely keep up appearances to the bitter end unlike 2014 people.
  • House of Cards, a series starring Kevin Spacey, is a typically amoral and cynical depiction of Washington DC politics.

Monday [May 12]
[Home Laptop]

  • I was of course mistaken when yesterday I said that Anthony Hopkins starred in the film On the Beach. I meant Anthony Perkins. Now, I could have gone back and corrected the mistake, but I want to show what a wonderful and great and honest and upright and on-the-level guy I am by acknowledging the mistake.
  • I should add that I have downloaded the entire first season of House of Cards.
  • I have also just downloaded the movie Psycho.
  • BTW, Tony's official name, that is the name on his birth certificate, is Anthony.
  • What are some things that you think should be prohibited? I would prohibit the sort of dishonesty that is meant to make the person being honest look good. I prohibit NHL hockey in May or June or July. I would stop the amount of attention that sports league drafts, the NFL's especially, get. I would prohibit foreigners from using the term China Day. I would prohibit gratuitous sex in television dramas. I would prohibit the current use of the word like. I would prohibit pubs being open past 10:00 PM. I would prohibit people who want to enter politics from entering politics. I would prohibit most trans-national organizations from existing. I would prohibit gay marriage.
  • No shifts today.
  • I went to Starbucks for lunch. Unfortunately some store decoration was going on nearby ruining the normally quiet atmosphere and so I left early. I had a Venti Cafe Americano and a Chicken Terayaki Sandwich before I left.
  • Coming back from Starbucks, I was walking across an intersection near Casa Kaulins when I was cut off by a black VW Sedan which had no intention of slowing down for me. I had the satisfaction of at least forcing the driver make such a wide turn that his car was in the opposing lane and forced to come to a near stop when it had made its turn. I gave the car, which then turned into the police HQ the evil glare. Yesterday, at the same intersection, I had a similar thing done to me by the driver of a black SUV. The vehicle cut so close to me that I was able to see that this guy was talking on his mobile phone. I got so annoyed at the driver that whacked his vehicle with my umbrella and gave him the finger. Why don't the fucking asshole drivers here in Wuxi have any concern for pedestrians? Automobiles seem to bring out the asshole inconsideration tendencies in Wuxi people. [You can say the same thing about money and Wuxi people.]
  • On a brighter note, it was Mother's Day yesterday. I made all sorts of Mother Day's messages on We Chat which were appreciated by Jenny; I had Tony wish his mother a happy Mother's Day; and I phoned my Mother, who lives in Brandon, late last night.
  • Mom told me that my sister had hurt her shoulder but was waiting to see someone who could look at it, that my brother was changing jobs, and that a truck got stuck at the underpass at Kemnay.
  • My mother had to jog my memory about Kemnay and its underpass. I first thought it was the little town between Brandon and Shilo, but then I remembered that it was in fact west of Brandon on a road that runs from Victoria Avenue. This underpass is well marked with flashing lights and warning signs about its low height, but still eight trucks a year that stuck trying to go through it. They are all trucks from out of province who are using GPS to navigate. The GPS tells them that taking the turnoff at Kenmay, instead of going on the #1 road and turning later, is the shortest route which it is to get to Brandon, but the GPS doesn't take into account the low underpass. Hilarious! Sounds like something that would happen in China.
  • No Austrian, since Adolf Hitler has made as a big splash in Europe as Conchita Wurst, the winner of the Eurovision song contest.
  • I also advocate the rapping of knuckles of Wuxi drivers. I am sure that are a few Wuxi Drivers that are considerate, but I say presume them guilty first of being like the drivers I have been complaining about.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Diary: April 29 to May 5, 2014

  • I answer the question: What are some nice memories you have?
  • Thursday was a holiday. I got angry at Tony because he only wanted to go to the mall. It could have been worse. He could have wanted to have done something to mark International Socialism Day.
  • Via email, I received the first sign that I was becoming aged.
  • A David Warren essay lead me to waxing.
  • Other than that it was another week of going to school, talking to students, and consuming media via my Ipad.
  • One evening after work, I was distressed to see my bus pull into the stop when I was still on the third floor.
  • Tony doesn't like doing his Chinese homework.

Tuesday [April 29]
[School Laptop]
  • Today's shift: 13:00 to 21:00. Tomorrow's shift will be the same. Thursday will be a holiday which I am looking forward to.
  • Yesterday, I finished reading American Gun by Chris Kyle. I read it to annoy progressive types.
  • Last night, I watched the fourth episode of the fourth season of Game of Thrones. It wasn't a great episode. It just seemed to be transitioning the series's various plot lines along. Towards the end of the episode, there were characters from a plot line I had almost forgotten about. The last time, some of these characters appeared was in season three!
  • I also began watching Game Six of the 1986 World Series – a game with one of the most dramatic and heart-wrenching conclusions of all time. After three innings, the Red Sox had a two nothing lead – Clemens had yet to allow a hit.
  • What question should I deal with this week? I said last week that I would ask myself a softball question, so: What are some nice memories you have? The first one is the birth of my son. Another one is of my mother hugging my father on his death bed. And then there was the time when my wife was dancing with my father.
  • I forgot to mention. Yesterday, I was walking past the car dealerships in my area of Wuxi. From them, I could have taken a good photo of the Metro riding past, but it didn't. I did instead see that a Mazda dealership had been closed down. There was all this empty space around the building and the showroom looked particularly forlorn. I have never seen an abandoned car dealership before.

Wednesday [April 30]
[Home Laptop]
  • I just got an email from a friend of mine [HM in fact] telling me he got news that he will become a grandfather. It is a milestone for me. I have never had anyone send me “I am going to be a grandfather” news before.
  • It means I am getting old.
  • Tony is awful at learning Chinese characters. He got a four out of a hundred score on a recent test. Jenny says he really hates doing the Chinese character practice. Last week, he took to not bringing his Chinese homework home. On Friday, he left the homework at his desk at school. Jenny was suspicious about why he didn't bring any Chinese homework home and talked to the teacher. So yesterday the teacher made a point of it to put the homework in Tony's backpack and to tell Jenny that she had done so. But when Tony arrived home, he didn't bring the Chinese homework with him. He told Jenny that he took it out of his bag and left it at his desk.
  • Having Jenny tell me this story filled me with chagrined amusement. What a bugger! I thought.
  • But it shows that he does get ideas. Last week, he got the idea to bring his Ultraman and Godzilla toys to a table with a model real estate presentation in order to reenact fight scenes he had seen on Youku.
  • Last night, a student told me about citizens in Nanjing beating up the Chengguan (Chinese: 城管; pinyin: Chéngguǎn). I have heard about these government bully types on the Internet but it was the first time, a student told me about them. She got the news about them on the Internet. She told me that stories of the abuses of the Chengguan are reported in the government media.
[School Laptop]
  • My shift today: 13:00 to 21:00. Tomorrow – I will say it again – is a holiday.
  • What are some nice memories you have? Going to Met Stadium in the 1970's to see the Minnesota Vikings play the Miami Dolphins in an exhibition game. Going to Dealey Plaza in Dallas, Texas. Going to the Bay in Downtown Winnipeg with an Aunt in the 1970s and buying Beatles songs on 45 rpm records. Driving in New Mexico. Seeing desert in Arizona.

Thursday [May 1]
[Home Laptop]
  • Holiday! I sleep in.
  • Unfortunately, Jenny has a bad cold. I will have to make sure she is doing as well as she can.
  • I hope I can drag Tony out of the house and away from the Ipad.
  • I finished watching Game Six of the 1986 World Series. For all its drama, the game seemed to have been poorly played. There was an error by Ray Knight that shouldn't have been made by a major leaguer that lead to the game even having gone to extra innings. The Mets fifth and sixth runs were scored on account of Red Sox bumbling.
  • This morning, I finished watching Mother, Jugs & Speed, a movie about a private ambulance company in Los Angeles. Mother was Bill Crosby, Jugs was Raquel Welch, and Harvey Kietel was Speed. Larry Hagman played this creepy character who ogled at Raquel and had sex with one of the patients who was unconscious. The film is now a 1970s artifact but it is not without its merit. Bill Crosby gave a great performance as a cynical veteran driver who drinks as he drives. Tony watched part of the film with me. He liked the scenes with the ambulances rushing around the streets. He didn't seem to be put off by the 1970 vintage look of all the vehicles in the movie.
  • It is sunny outside. A perfect day to take Tony trainspotting.
  • I swore at Tony this afternoon. I got him out of the apartment but he just wanted to go to the shopping mall, that is the Wanda Plaza. I indulged Tony up to a point. I took him to the two arcades in the Mall and then to the KFC and then to a courtyard or mezzanine{?} area where I sat and watched him play with other kids. After those twenty minutes of watching, I told Tony that it was time to get out of the f***ing mall. The noise and the crowds were driving me mad. When Tony got upset and started to cry, I really over did it with the f-bombs. It is so f***ing pathetic that all you want to do is hang out at the Shopping Mall on a day when you should be outside enjoying the nice weather and exploring the countryside around our apartment! Instead you want to be like all the f***ing unimaginative and zombie types who have nothing better to do than go to this f***ing mall! At one point, Tony told me to f*** off. [Best to prepare him for the nonsense he will encounter in his life.]
  • I got Tony out of the Mall, and took him via e-bike to the Wu Culture Park where we wandered about for forty minutes. The Wu Culture Park is not a bad place to waste an afternoon, at least in comparison to the Wanda Mall. The Park has interesting buildings, exhibits, and walkways. However, it was at a pagoda in the park that I had my second session of swearing at Tony. He then earned my ire by refusing to come into the pagoda. When he didn't even want to come in for even a minute, I really laid into him. WTF is wrong with you! Are you f***ing scared! How about letting Daddy look at something for a minute? I had my outburst in front of a couple of other families. I eventually went up the pagoda myself and let Tony stew and sob at the entrance. But I then went downstairs and carried him up, full of apologies.
  • Tony” I said. “There are some things that Daddy does that you shouldn't do and that Daddy shouldn't do either!”
  • From the park, we took the e-bike to the Wuxi Jiangyin bridge where we saw one train and went home. We then took the bus downtown to meet Jenny at the Grandma's restaurant in Sunning Plaza. She had had coffee with a classmate she went to school with in Nanjing.
  • What are some nice memories you have? Seeing Iggy Pop in Winnipeg. Seeing REM and U2 on consecutive nights in Minneapolis. Giving a donation to a nun in Chilliwack. Talking to the Nuns who lived next to my elementary school in Quebec.

Friday [May 2]
[Home Laptop]
  • A three day holiday for Tony and many others in China, but I got to work.
  • I wake up feeling like crap. It must be because yesterday I drank a bottle of beer and two shots of Crown Royal.
[School Laptop]
  • Today's shift: 11:00 to 21:00.
  • I took a crowded 25 bus – crowded on account of the holiday – to work. With temperatures feeling summer-like, I was very much glad when the ride was over and I was downtown. [I had a seat but didn't look up from my Ipad to see if there were women with children or old people standing nearby.]
  • David Warren's latest essay was on silence. He complained about the noise of the modern world. He said it was grand to live, for a time, in an area where nobody owned cars. Modern men, he said, could not stand silence. Anyway, he said these and other things, and I agreed with his observations and his sentiments. I can add but these thoughts or observations. I achieve silence, of a sort, in the office at work. It is sometimes the silence of an empty office; empty that is except me. It is sometimes the silence of an office where no one is talking. The latter silence is an uncomfortable silence. It maybe stems from the modern feeling that one should not be silent in the comfort of others or from my misanthropy where the presence of others makes me uncomfortable. I prefer silence with solitude – a solitude spent with books. I am not sure if I could enjoy a silence with nothing but my thoughts.
  • As for Warren's observation about cars. So many of my neighbors in my apartment complex have cars; and I hate it. Part of this hatred of mine surely comes from the fact that I don't have a car myself. But as a pedestrian, I can justly be angry at how cars make walking hard and almost dangerous. To be fair, Chinese people, like people from Canada, when put in cars are isolating themselves from other people; but, this is also unfortunately true about the drivers in Wuxi: they are all inconsiderate brutes when it comes to pedestrians, and it makes me wish all Chinese drivers were back on bicycles.
  • I hate what cars do to this apartment complex – they destroy the pavement.
  • With more and more people in China having cars, more and more places in China are becoming not worth going to. Many places in China are being built to accommodate cars and are hence utterly charmless like commercial developments in North America that are surrounded or fronted by big parking lots.
  • What are some nice memories you have? From my immediate past, I would say that yesterday, it was nice to ride the bus with Tony with each of us having an Ipad. I could watch Olivier performing Hamlet while Tony could play his games. From my more distant past. I remember skating around Stanley Park in Vancouver twice; seeing the Mariners play at Safeco Field in Seattle; jogging on the country roads near Brandon, Manitoba; wandering book stores, used and new, all over the world; playing billiards and snooker in Brandon, Manitoba; walking to Minnehaha Falls in Minneapolis from my grandmother's house; listening to Sinatra CDs; watching Brandon Wheat King games in the Keystone center; buying Tony toys; talking to pretty girls in Chinaa; attending a Vancouver Canadian game where I got to talk to this old man who had been a musician and performed with Dean Martin – it beat seeing the beauty of British Columbia, and was probably the best time I had in B.C.
  • No Takara Tomy Plarail at the Ba Bai Ban toy department! I just went to look for something to buy Tony and discovered this disappointing fact. Is Takara Tomy available anywhere in Wuxi?
  • Student Lu Fei went to the pub last night got a black eye and a swollen lip because he got punched by a parking attendant during a dispute about parking.

Saturday [May 3]
[School Laptop]
  • My shift today: 10:00 to 18:00.
  • Jenny bought Tony a toy yesterday. It was some of kind of transformer toy that wasn't cheap. Tony, you see, won't stand for cheap toys. When I came home last night, Tony proudly showed the new toy to me.
  • After finishing my classes last night, I was walking down a third floor corridor when I saw below an 118 bus pull into the bus stop where I was planning to go to catch it. I often take the 118 bus to get to the stop where I catch the 635 which takes me to the Hui Shan District. Seeing the 118 bus from the third floor just then made me curse. The next 118 bus wouldn't come in time for me to get to the 635 stop where I can get a seat for my fifty minute ride home. So I instead took the 67 bus and hoofed it (walked at a brisk pace) to get to the 635 stop. It takes me ten minutes to walk from where I de-board the 67 to get to my ideal 635 stop. As I do this ten minute walk, I pass another 635 stop where, if I wait, there would have been a chance I would have lost the competition to get a seat. (At this stop, sometimes as many as twenty people board and people jostle intently to get on first and get a seat).
  • What are some nice memories you have? Seeing my brother's band play in a pub in Winnipeg, Manitoba. The name of the pub was the Saint Charles if I remember correctly. Seeing a no-hitter pitched in a minor league game in Vancouver, and being one of the few fans in the stands who was aware that a no-hitter was being pitched. Watching the Winnipeg Goldeyes clinch a Northern League Championship in their first season.

Sunday [May 4]
[Home Laptop]
  • No shift today.
  • Tony goes to school. Because the Chinese had May 1st to May 3rd off, that is Thursday to Saturday, they will have to work from Sunday to Friday.
  • I am spending the morning on the computer. I published two entries to the Wuxi China Expatdom Blog. I am processing four video files so I can watch them on my Apple products.
  • A student told me that the Chinese were annoyed that Obama came to Asia and didn't visit them. I told them that was one thing worse than Obama not visiting, and that was Obama visiting. Obama, I told the student, would have made a speech that bored everyone, so the Chinese should be grateful.
  • I am reading another book on Mathematics: Infinite Ascent by David Berlinski.
  • Picked up a pizza at the Wanda Plaza Pizza Hut last night. The person who took my order said they knew me. I am one of the few foreigners who come to that restaurant, I would suppose. I picked up an Hawaiian pizza and Tony was not pleased. I had to pick the pineapple pieces out for him before he would eat the pizza.
  • Jenny goes to Tony's school everyday to feed him lunch. He won't eat the cafeteria food.
  • What are some nice memories you have? Having Tony sit beside me at bedtime. Reading to Tony at bedtime. Hiking the mountains and hills of British Columbia. Pretty girls coming to talk to me. Eating Cheese Nips at Salisbury House in Winnipeg. Watching bands at the Spectrum Cabaret in Winnipeg. The occasional mentions I have gotten on the Internet.
  • Finished watching a Fistful of Dynamite. James Caan plays an Irishmen and Rod Steiger plays a Mexican in the film which is set during the Mexican Revolution. Contains the usual Sergio Leone flourishes.
  • Finished watching the 1948 film adaptation of Hamlet starring Laurence Olivier. Great film.
  • Finished reading Infinite Ascent by David Berlinski. The book is a history of Mathematics. I can't say I completely understood it. I can't say I even half understood it.
  • I read bits of the Bible, an Italian grammar book, a small anthology of Tennyson poetry, As You Like It, a book about Deng Xiaopeng written by Ezra Vogel, a book about Teaching English, and The Seven Storey Mountain by Thomas Merton.
  • Watched the replay of the perfect game that Denis Martinez pitched for the Expos in 1992.

Monday [May 5]
[Home Laptop]

  • No shift today.
  • Jenny was sick yesterday. She slept all day while I took in media on my Ipad.
  • Yesterday evening, I took Tony to the Wanda Plaza to have supper.
  • I don't feel so hot today. I won't do much and I won't blog much.
  • What are some nice memories you have? Watching Denis Martinez pitch the perfect game live on the television. Getting Maurice Richard's autograph in Fredericton, New Brunswick at a Montreal Canadien old-timers game. Getting Don Cherry's autograph at Brandon's Keystone Center during a Wheat King's game. Being able to get Frank Mahovlich's autograph at the Brandon Keystone Center during a Maple Leaf's old-timers game. Watching the Jets play in the old Winnipeg Arena. Going to Husky Stadium to see the Seahawks play. Going to Husky Stadium to see the Huskies play. Watching the Canadian Junior Hockey Team trounce the Soviet Junior Hockey Team 7-0 at the Winnipeg Arena in 1981. Twenty years later, I saw a replay of the game on the TSN classic channel. I also remember seeing the Jets beat the Red Army team but I don't recall the year it happened.
  • The entrance gate to our complex is finally being repaired two weeks after it broke which was two weeks after it was installed. [I mentioned the gate in last week's entry.] Ah! Yes! Chinese workmanship! Almost as bad as Andis Kaulins workmanship.
  • Episode five of the fourth season of Game of Thrones has been downloaded. Jenny has two episodes to watch. She refuses to watch one episode at a time.
  • I was able to take photos of a Wuxi Metro and the seemingly abandoned Mazda dealership today. [Refer to April 29].