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.

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