Monday, June 9, 2014

Diary: June 3 to June 9, 2014

  • Andis blogs about some of his favorite record albums.
  • Andis blogs about things that surprised or shocked him in China.
  • Andis blogs about the things that have disappointed him about his experience in China.
  • Andis is very disappointed by the response to his request that readers visit the blog dedicated to his father.
  • Andis mentions the 25th anniversary of 6/4
  • Andis reports on David Warren's reaction to 6/4,
  • Andis reports on John Derbyshire's reaction to 6/4.
  • Andis calls a girl redoubtable and another girl erstwhile.
  • Saturday morning, Andis sees Wuxi drivers doing their thing.
  • Andis watches an episode of Real Time with Bill Maher.
  • Andis, Jenny & Tony go to the Casa Zoe Tex Mex restaurant.
  • Andis starts reading two new books.

Tuesday [June 3]
[Home Laptop]
  • No shift today at school. I get today off because the Dragon Boat Festival holiday happened on Monday (yesterday), my normal day off.
  • Nineteen visits to last week's diary entry. One person (Thank you HM!) responded to my request to make a comment at the page dedicated to my father. Very disappointing and yet I have these people who walk up to me and say that they read my blog.
  • I am tempted to swear profusely and castigate crudely the readers of this blog but I have to keep the ones I have got.
  • Yesterday was spent in Hui Shan. I took Tony for lunch at the KFC Wanda and later, in the evening, him took him out to two public squares and the central park. The spitting rain and cool temperatures kept the crowds away from the places we went to which suited me but not Tony who asked to go home.
  • The large crowds at the Hui Shan Wanda made me happy to spend the day at home.
  • Yesterday, I saw a foreigner with tattoos at the Wanda Plaza Grocery Store. I said hello but I didn't talk to him. Tattoos I find off-putting.
  • I finished the Seven Storey Mountain by Thomas Merton yesterday. It was an inspiring book that ended with the fact that Christianity is about bearing the cross and not being covered by electric blankets.
  • I started reading a book by Roman Guardini.
  • Favorite Albums? The Clash's London Calling. I can say I bought it in three formats: LP record, tape, and CD. I came to like the Clash just as they had broken up. I bought Combat Rock after it had been in the shops for a long time. These albums had the alternative sound that I, a very lonely teenager and adolescent desperately looking for a way to feel good about myself, could grab onto and get a feeling of superiority.
  • Things that surprised or shocked you about China? Having lived in British Columbia where weirdness abounds, I can say that there really hasn't been much that has shocked or surprised me in China. I had my cultural shock in Canada where I moved around a lot. So this is a very difficult question for me to answer. Living in China for ten years, I do have enough anecdotes that I can pass on as shockers or as surprising but these were things that I was hoping to see and rather expected. So, my answer to this question is nothing.
  • I suppose I should change the question. Here it goes. What has disappointed you about your experiences in China? The Chinese here are not Chinese enough. Eating at the KFC with Tony yesterday, I reflected on how thoroughly they have been influenced by Western culture. Everyone was wearing a t-shirt and jeans or shorts. Where is the China of Confucian values, of Tang Dynasty poetry, and of the belief in the Mandate of Heaven? That China has been destroyed first by Marxism and now by Crony Capitalism.
  • [Later] A day of lacking focus and doing nothing and accomplishing nothing. I withered the time away on nothing in particular.
  • For what it is worth, I did publish a lot of blog entries. I particularly enjoyed writing the story about the Wuxi Expat Philosopher Marrying Reason.

Wednesday [June 4]
[Home Laptop]
  • Twenty five years ago, I was in downtown Winnipeg when I heard the news.
  • Favorite Albums? Never Mind the Bullocks, Here's the Sex Pistols. The first Sex Pistols record I bought was Flogging a Dead Horse which had a photo of a coil of poo on a gold record. I loved the Sex Pistols sound when I first heard it. It never dawned on me that the group was supposed to be full of no talent hacks. Some of the songs were quite good. I didn't think there was a dud track on Never Mind.
  • What has disappointed you about your experiences in China? The lack of imagination on the part of the students. I have spent ten years giving them ideas to make the simplest of sentences.
  • Sunny this morning. Tony has been picked up and taken to school. I have taken the e-bike from its charging spot and parked it in front of our building entrance.
  • Waking up this morning, I felt very groggy. The grog was also affecting Jenny & Tony who were visibly suffering with it.
  • What did you do on your days off? Thankfully, I never get asked that question because I never have any fantastic tales to tell. The time was spent at home and frittered away with Tony & Jenny not allowing me a moment's concentration.
  • I have today's work clothes to iron as soon as I choose them.
  • Always, always, always! It never stops. The stares.
  • With so many Chinese having cars, I feel like I am sinking down in the lower classes.
  • I find myself vowing to never get a car because it seems so utterly bourgeois. A strange thing for someone who labels himself reactionary to be thinking; I know but one always has to fight one's nature and not give into it.
[School Laptop]
  • I forgot to email myself the diary entry file. The file is still on my home laptop. So this entry is in a file of its own and will be added to the bigger file tomorrow, provided of course I don't forget.
  • Today's shift: 13:00 to 21:00.
  • My shift schedule this week: Wednesday 13-21, Thursday 10-21, Friday 11-21, Saturday 10-18 and Sunday 10-18. Sunday is an OT shift.
  • I was thinking to take the 617 bus and then the 3 bus to get to school today. But after letting two empty 25 buses go past, I wasn't going to not get on an empty 602bus go past. My physiology wasn't going to allow it.

Thursday [June 5]
[School Laptop]
  • Today's shift: 10:00 to 21:00.
  • I just read David Warren's great entry on the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Massacre. At the time, Warren went to a Chinese consulate to protest and carried a placard demanding democracy for China. In the 25 years since, Warren has become a bit of a anti-democrat. His opinion now is that even if the massacre hadn't happened, China was doomed. Bad as Communism was, democracy and consumerism weren't going to save it. He ended his reflection on China by pining for the China of old, the China of the Tao, the China of Confucius, and the China that was before the modern world came to it.
  • The second half of Warren's entry contains words of guidance from Mother Teresa. I am taking the words and putting them in a pdf file so that I will be able to constantly refer them on my Ipad. As well, I will put the words on my school to-do list for daily reference.
  • Favorite Albums? Remain in Light by the Talking Heads. (I am actually mentioning the albums that come to mind. I realize that at the end of this week, there will be some albums that I will forget to mention.) I bought Remain in Light in the early 1980s after seeing a Talking Heads music video on the SCTV comedy show. It was the album that put me in the new wave and alternative area of pop music fandom. I bought the 12 inch LP. I may well have bought the cassette.
  • What has disappointed you about your experiences in China? The lack of beauty and the large amount of utter ugliness. China has become uglier in the ten years I have been here. The buildings are getting more modern and more garish. The attempts at reproducing the old China pathetic.
  • I took the 617 bus and then the 3 bus to get to school. Doing this is not the most efficient way to go to school, but I do sometimes it for the change of scenery and the countryside sights one can see from the 617 bus. Of course, the meager crumbs of sights of authentic China, of bridges, of canals, of narrow streets crammed with bicycles and pedestrian traffic, of peasants tending fields and carrying hoes on their shoulders as they wear those wide straw hats; these sights disappear as the 617 route takes you into a industrial district with a six lane road overrun by trucks going to factories. The smog grays everything and you are back in the modern China that is full of pollution, waste, and evil.
  • A little boy playing on the side of road, pulling something from the dirt.
  • A trolly cart set up on the street selling hot food to passersby.
  • I will blog until 10:00 when I will do my class prep for the day. This should take me about fifteen minutes, at most.

Friday [June 6]
[School Laptop]
  • The 70th anniversary of D-Day.
  • My shift today is 11:00 to 21:00. I have a lunchtime English Corner at the City Hall and then two classes and another English Corner in the evening. Last week at the City Hall, I had three people show up. I will report later in this entry about today's attendance. Tonight, I will have the students play Jeopardy in the English Corner.
  • John Derbyshire, an in-law of China (like me), weighed in on an anniversary of 6/4 in a post that I read this morning. His reaction, like David Warren's that I read yesterday, was to shrug his shoulders and wonder aloud if the democratic model that the Chinese students wanted 25 years ago was becoming obsolete. Democracy's fatal flaw, as both Warren and Derb have noted, is that it encourages the voters to vote to take money from others so that they don't have to work and be virtuous themselves. The Chicoms could put up an argument, and have said Derb, that their system is working while noting the flaws of Western society and so what happened on 6/4 was necessary, and for keeping the Chicoms in public and averting a possible civil war. But the truth is that China may look gleaming from afar, by closeup it is ugly in many ways.
  • Yesterday, I had a hard time getting the students to understand the difference between doing an interview and being interviewed. Who is asking the questions when you are being interviewed? Who is asking the questions when you are doing the interview? The students were confused.
  • We now have beginners and intermediates in salon classes together. My first salon class under this new regime saw me deal with a very talkative intermediate and four so-so beginners. I felt like a Chinese traffic cop trying to conduct traffic but not being heeded by the drivers and pedestrians.
  • On the way home last night, I talked to three women. First, as I waited by the bus stop by the school, I got to talk to the redoubtable Edith who is a Study Adviser at our school. (You have to see her to realize she is redoubtable.) She was telling me why she hadn't been watching Game of Thrones recently. One reason was that the Chinese government blocked it on Chinese sites. The other reason was that she hated downloading episodes of shows and preferred streaming them on the computer. To each his own, or her own, you can say but Edith is redoubtable so I won't question too much. Second, once I caught my bus, I sat next to Tracy, who works at school in administration. She seemed to be under the impression that I stopped taking my e-bike to school because I was getting lost on my way home. She didn't understand my saying what a pain in the ass flat tires on e-bikes were. I am just another foreigner rendered dim-witted by being in China she thinks. Finally on the 635, I sat next to Sophia, my erstwhile 635 companion. I showed Sophia a photo, that I had on my Ipad, of a long red banner with a slogan written on it that I had seen draped on the fence behind the bus stop near Casa Kaulins. Though I could pick out many characters on the sign, I could not decipher what the intended message was. Sophia grimaced and told me she would have a hard time explaining it exactly. It was a political slogan, she said, about the development of the country being done in a safe manner. This practice of putting political slogan signs up is something that happens all over China she told me. No doubt, these types of banners have been put up all over China since '49. Sophia asked me if we had a similar practice in Canada. I told her we didn't though Western governments liked to do lots of PSAing and taking credit for construction projects through use of signs.
  • I shouldn't complain about all the female companionship but I really was intent on listening to the latest Econtalk podcast.
  • Favorite Albums? The Red and the Blue compilations of the Beatles. I remember buying the Red 1962 to 1966 compilation second hand in Shilo, Manitoba and I of course wore the LP out. Later when living in Brandon, I got the Blue 1967 to 1970 compilation for Christmas (or my birthday). I listened to the albums over and over again, and still know many of the songs by heart.
  • I downloaded two more Godzilla movies for Tony to watch: Godzilla versus Mothra and Godzilla and the Sea Monster.
  • Not one student has mentioned the 6/4 anniversary to me.
  • What has disappointed you about your experiences in China? I took myself with me when I came. Not that I am all bad. I am no alcoholic and have avoided the pervert-sleep-with-every-girl I can in China lifestyle that many an Expat has adopted. However, I am a fatal combination of misanthrope and avoid-confrontation-at-all-costs weakling and so been held back in any professional ambitions I might have had.
  • [Later] Seven people attended my City Hall English Corner. My topic was interviews. For a short time I pretended to be the leader of North Korea and Bruce Lee. One of the civic workers said that they didn't like being asked political questions. The workers surprise me because they sometimes criticize the government.

Saturday [June 7]
[School Laptop]
  • Today's shift: 10:00 to 18:00
  • The martyr style of management.
  • What did I observe today? I didn't go out today with the intention of seeing it, even though it is a constant complaint of mine, but I saw a lot of asshole driving maneuvers as I made my way to school. As I was standing at the corner of the California Villa complex where Casa Kaulins is and as I was trying to get through the intersection to get to my bus stop, I saw this idiot from a distance driving like he was in some kind of hurry. He was passing cars on the right and I knew that I shouldn't try to cross to the other side of the intersection because he wasn't going to stop at the corner and and probably was going to ignore the signals that said I could walk and he should stop. Later on the bus, I saw a car perform a very risky maneuver to pass quickly by the bus I was riding. The car passed the bus on the passenger side at full speed just narrowly missing the boulevard that was oncoming. The car cut it close.
  • I also couldn’t help but observe how the women are wearing shorts and mini skirts these days.
  • Favorite Albums? Frank Sinatra's Capital Years Box Set. Discovering Sinatra saved me from having absolutely barbaric taste in music. At one point, before MP3s were so cheap that I needn't buy albums, I had all of Sinatra's Capital albums and many of Reprise ones as well. I didn't buy very many Columbia albums because of the quality of the recordings which at the time couldn't quite capture the greatness of his voice – a shame really.
  • What has disappointed you about your experiences in China? The number of Leftists, Socialists, middle-of-the-roaders, anti-American, anti-Semite, anti-Christians and atheists I have encountered, and the lack of anyone with a sensible view on anything. I remember coming to Wuxi in 2004 and overhearing talk of how Kerry or Kerrey was going to beat Bush in a landslide. In 2008, I witnessed people high-fiving after Obama won. Before the election I was told about how Obama was going to fix the tax code in the USA and completely transform North Korea. I even remember once overhearing someone in a bar complain about FOX news. And then people describing left wings as middle of the road.
  • I see parents watching their little tot squatting and as I got closer I saw some stools being deposited by the child on a Zhongshan Road sidewalk. You gotta love China.....

Sunday [June 8]
[School Laptop]
  • Today's shift: 10:00 to 17:00. An overtime shift it is.
  • After school yesterday, I watched the end of the sixth episode of the first season of House of Cards. It seems to be going blarney already. The incidents portrayed seem slightly implausible or rather a crude caricature of the goings on in politics.
  • I then watched an entire episode of Real Time with Bill Maher. Maher is a very partisan Liberal Democrat who likes to present crude caricatures of Republicans and proceed to argue with them or rather direct his monologues at them. Of course, these Republicans of his imagination don't exist. I suffered through the whole episode but I felt all the happier that I am not a Leftie or an Obama supporter.
  • I then watched about an hour of Lawrence of Arabia.
  • All the while, Jenny was making Tony do his homework. I know. I stood on the sideline, but she was teaching him Chinese character writing. There wasn't much assistance I could have provided. Tony could be schooling me on this subject.
  • This was a matter of concern for Jenny to be miffed with me about.
  • This morning, I was at a pedestrian crossing on Zhongshan Road. In Canada, vehicles are expected to stop and yield for pedestrians at these crossings. In China, the cars don't yield unless the pedestrian can be said to have a claim on the space. To get a claim on the space, you have to basically be the one who can get to the spot first based on the speed at which you are proceeding at. Cars try to get a claim on space at these pedestrian crossing lanes by not slowing down and in some cases by even accelerating as they approach. This morning at the pedestrian crossing, I saw a car that must have been going about 60 km/h and whose engine could be heard to be revving. I walked across slowly and took great pride in the fact that I force the car to swerve and lurch enough to give its driver a jolt. Wuxi drivers are fucking pricks. Let it never be forgotten.
  • Favorite Albums? Synchronicity by the Police. I bought these album in 1984 which I recall was a year of some very well selling albums and the introduction of the music video. I bought it on the first day it was available at the shops. It may not have been the best album the Police put out, but it was the first one that I bought at the time of its release. The band unfortunately broke up after that and the world was subjected to the ego of Sting.
  • What has disappointed you about your experiences in China? The Great Firewall of China has been a source of much wasted time for me. VPN's have helped and have been a godsend, but the Firewall still has the upper hand most of the time.

Monday [June 9]
[Home Laptop]
  • No shifts today.
  • Last evening after school, I met up with Jenny & Tony who had come downtown. We went to a Mexican Restaurant in the area behind the Nikko Hotel. Sad to say but Jenny & I were not impressed. Tony did like his pizza but I hated my beef enchilada and Jenny didn't like her honey mustard grilled chicken dish. There is some expression about the whole enchilada. I think it is just another way to say the whole thing. Anyway, I didn't the whole enchilada that I order yesterday. I struggled to eat half of it before giving up. The beef in the enchilada was not at all what I was expecting. It was dry, stringy and tough. I thought the beef in an enchilada was supposed to be ground and mixed with spices, a taco beef. It was the worst thing that I have ordered in a restaurant in a long time. As well, the re-fried beans didn't seem like proper re-fried beans. Re-fried shit would be a better description of it. (I have mentioned the name of this place elsewhere.)
  • The only thing I can be thankful for is that Jenny didn't get mad at me for wanting to go there. Her attitude seemed like mine: tried it and will never ever go back.
  • Favorite Albums? New Day Rising by Husker Du. (There should be umlauts on the two U's.). I bought this much sought after album for the first time when I visited Minot, North Dakota. At the time, I thought that the album was just so fucking awesome. It was all catchy punk songs – they were an American Sex Pistols. I thought it was a shame that Husker Du never achieved the mega band status that Nirvana did. Nirvana I found to be so eerily dull and dismal. I figured you had to be taking drugs to like them. When their pretentious singer killed himself, I couldn't hide my glee. What a spoiled piece of shit he was. I don't discount his influence, however, on the self-adsorbed generation of people who voted for Obama.
  • I am reading President Me by Adam Carolla. Carolla is a Libertarian with the instincts of Stalin. While I do enjoy his criticism of the chicken shit things governments do to control the people, I find that his criticism of people based on their income, his desire to use police force to stop behavior he doesn't like, and his putting sex on a pedestal to be abhorrent.
  • Taking the bus home yesterday, I saw a woman bring a large watermelon on the bus. I detected an certain annoyance in her expression as she then had to stand and hold the heavy fruit for thirty minutes. I notice people selling watermelons everywhere in Hui Shan. Why would someone burden yourself by buying the fruit downtown.
  • What has disappointed you about your experiences in China? This is something in particular that has annoyed me about Wuxi: why is it that you can't buy a decent souvenir that says Wuxi, China on it? The only Wuxi things I have bought are pub e-shirts and, to be honest, they were butt ugly. The Australians I have meet here, with the exception of the Saintly and Blessed HM, have horrible design sense.
  • A bad meal and the Adam Carolla book are affecting my writing today.
  • I want to get back to the Real Time with Bill Maher episode I watched. One of the most egregiously damnable incidents for which all Obama supporters should be ashamed is the murder in Benghazi of the ambassador. It could be argued that there was nothing that the Obama administration could have done to have prevented the incident. However, the incident was proof of a failure of their foreign policy. When Qaddafi was ousted from power, Obama supporters were saying things akin to Look at Libya! Leading from behind works! But then in the midst of the election campaign, the Ambassador to Libya was killed and suddenly leading-from-behind didn't seem to be such a wonderful thing. So what did the Obama administration do? They put forth the lie that a Youtube video was responsible for it. Anyone with half a brain at the time and a willingness to see clearly would have known it was a straight out lie, a cover, put forth because of the pressures of an election campaign. But the Obama Administration got away with it. (Due to a supine press and a feckless Mitt Romney.) Further investigations into the incident have revealed an incompetence that should have lead to Hilary’s resignation... Bill Maher on the Real Time show stated that the Republicans should just shut up about Benghazi. Furthermore, Maher said that he didn't understand why the Republicans were so concerned about it and they should just forget about it and shut up. It would have been helpful to someone who knows what the Republicans found so galling about the incident to have said something to counter their gall, but Maher did no such thing. He scoffed and further strengthened my conviction that Democrats are lying and willfully blind sons-of-bitches and the was a rat in Benghazi.
  • I am also reading The Story of the Greeks (Yesterday's Classics). I am trying to bone up on my knowledge of Greek Myth and ancient Greek history.
  • I have finished listening to the Tyranny of Cliches Audio Book. A great book in which I was in 99 percent agreement with. I enjoyed it much more than Goldberg's previous work Liberal Fascism which, though making very important points that Lefties ignore at their peril, read rather clunkily. I heartily concurred with Goldberg's demolishment of the middle-of-the-road label.
  • I almost forgot to mention. The Baoli Shopping Mall looked abysmal last night. All the stores on the third floor, including HOLA, were closed. If there wasn't a Carrefour in the Mall, there would be no reason to go there. Opening those two malls on Renmin Road, the Hen Long and the Sunning Plazas, has just taken away business from the many other shopping areas in Wuxi.
  • This evening, I took Tony to the Hui Shan People's Square. I saw about 150 or so people dancing in a part of the square that was round and surrounded by pools. (I took a photo of course) Tony fell into one of pools when playing with some other kids in the square. What they were doing was kicking a ball back and forth over a pool, and Tony took a dunk when he tried to retrieve the ball when it landed in the middle of the pool. I just knew Tony would do that. He has a habit of falling into pools at the square. Of course, he did it when I wasn't looking.

1 comment:

Harry M said...

There were news items on our media (here) that the events in Tianmen were publicized, and mourned, in Hong Kong. Naturally, the HK-ites are aware of the sordid matter, however it was the visiting mainlanders who were in for a shock. But did they go back home and disseminate what they'd learnt?

Like many other nations that have shameful events in their (not-so-distant) past, this is something that will have to be confronted.