Monday, June 2, 2014

Diary: May 27 to June 2, 2014

  • The second anniversary of the death of Arnis Kaulins, Andis's father and Tony's grandfather.
  • This week's question: Can tell you tell some memories of your father?
  • Andis makes the case that the New York Yankees have an offensive nickname.
  • Andis arouses the curiosity of an old man when taking the bus home one evening.
  • Andis takes the taxi downtown from his apartment in the Hui Shan district.
  • Tony has a modeling job.
  • Andis's nephew has a chance to work in Australia.
  • Andis saws large lineups of locals picking up free subway tickets.
  • Andis watches some NHL playoff games.
  • Andis phones his mother, his sister, and his brother in Canada.
  • Andis spends Saturday Night at home by himself.
  • Andis watches the Shop Around the Corner starring Jimmy Stewart.
  • Andis watches the end of two classic BBC documentary series.
  • Tony & Jenny go to Changzhou.

Tuesday [May 27]
[Home Laptop]
  • I have just published the May 20 to May 26th diary entry. I looked it over, made a few corrections, and hope that it reads right.
  • Last evening, I took Tony out of Casa Kaulins. We went to the Wanda Plaza and then the square near the Hui Shan White House Wuxi Metro station.
  • The arcade in Wanda wouldn't give me ten rmb worth of tokens. I understood them to be telling them me that I could only ask for a minimum of twenty. I said fuck it and not give them my business.
  • Here's a thought about the word Yankees. Foreigners who say they hate the Yanks are displaying an appalling lack of knowledge of American history. Yankees were on the Northern side of the American Civil War. And anti-Americanism being what it is: a hatred of a certain type of American, the foreigners are saying that they hate the kind of Americans who they do like. Usually, anti-Americans hate the southern rebel types who fought the Yankees in the civil war.
  • Here's another thought about the word Yankees. The New York Yankees should change their name. Having the Yankees nickname is displaying a sense of triumphalism that is offensive to Americans who are from the Southern states.
  • What have I done this morning besides publish my weekly diary and write this daily entry? I have taken Tony to his school pick up spot. I have gotten Jenny's e-bike from its charging spot and taken it to our apartment entrance. I have hung the laundry. I have showered and done my weekly grooming duties. I have packed my backpack. I have published an entry to the Wuxi China Expatdom Blog. I have read blog posts from David Warren and Taki's Magazine. I have listened to two episodes of the Mad Dogs and Englishmen podcast. I have taken out garbage. I have ironed today's work clothes. I have taken and uploaded photos to the Wuxi Tony and the Casa Kaulins blogs.
  • Phew! And I have to do some reading and synch my Ipad still.
[School Laptop]
  • This week's schedule of shifts. Tuesday 13:00 to 21:00, Wednesday 13:00 to 21:00, Thursday 10:00 to 21:00, Friday 11:00 to 21:00, Saturday 10:00 to 18:00, and Sunday 10:00 to 18:00. I work a extra shift this week.
  • It is hot today. Women are using their umbrellas for shade.
  • Tomorrow is the second anniversary of my father's death. It happened, as rare readers may know, when I visited Canada and was so well-timed I feel shame.... This gives me an idea for my the question I will try to answer through the week.
  • Can you tell some memories of your father? Of course. The first memory I will mention is how my father reacted when he got the news, two years ago, that he only had a few days to live. He took it very bravely. He said that it was his time and that he wanted it mentioned on his gravestone that he was a member of the Canadian Armed Forces. Later, in his last lucid moments, he told me a memory he had of carrying me on his shoulders. I had got caught in the trees and was crying, and Dad told me the sadness he felt at not knowing for a brief instance why I was complaining. The story was a metaphor. You don't know if what you are doing for your child is the right thing. I had a similar thing happen once when I was carrying Tony on my shoulders around our apartment complex.

Wednesday [May 28]
[Home Laptop]
  • I have so far spent the morning publishing blog entries to mark the second anniversary of my father's death. I would appreciate it if you could visit the page I have dedicated to my father and sign the guest book.
  • I have been getting a lot of emails from North America this week. I want to thank Ron Busch from Detroit for sending me an email about my father.
  • Last evening, I got my usual seat in the back corner of the 635 bus, the bus that takes me home at night. This old man sat next to me and was so fascinated by the hairiness of my arms that he grabbed one and felt the hair. It was a rather strange thing but the man then played with his phone the rest of the journey or watched what I was watching on my Ipad. I didn't feel a need to flee. China owes me a grope, though I don't plan on ever settling that debt no matter how attractive some Chinese girls can be.
  • On my Ipad, I finished watching Godzilla 1954. On the bus, I watched the end of the fifth episode of the Search for the Trojan War series and the first half of the 12th episode of Kenneth Clark's Civilisation: The Fallacies of Hope.
  • A foreigner can feel lonely on a crowded bus in China. A rare reader mentioned this to me. I have to say that I don't suffer from loneliness these days because I got Jenny and Tony and my Ipad. I have to fight feelings of misanthropy....
  • Last night, I had two hours of no-shows and a one person 8:00 class. A very unfulfilling evening.
[School Laptop]
  • Today's shift: 13:00 to 21:00.
  • The wife and I took a taxi downtown. A taxi trip downtown does take less time than a bus. However, to me it seems that the bus trip is shorter because when I take the taxi I am not looking at my Ipad. I'd rather take the bus with an Ipad than take the taxi. The taxi trip that I had just now seemed so long.
  • I also noticed how brown and dusty Wuxi is.
  • One of Tony's teachers got free tickets to take a preview ride of the subway train. She complained that the train stopped every three minutes and that the hour long trip between the northern most station of the #1 line and the southern most station was boring.

Thursday [May 29]
[School Laptop]
  • Today's shift: 13:00 to 21:00. Last night, my 19:00 class was a no-show and my 20:00 class was canceled so I was able to go home at 19:30. I took the 25 bus home. Along the way, I saw the Wuxi Metro train carrying passengers – perhaps they had gotten some of the over one million free tickets that are being distributed over Wuxi.
  • When I arrived home, Jenny & Tony were out. I thought they perhaps had gone to the local public square so Tony could do some running around. I phoned Jenny to find out where she was and she told me that she & Tony were at the Mr. PIZZA in the Wanda Plaza. They were celebrating Tony's actually having gotten a job modeling and posing in clothes for a company photo shoot. Jenny said that the photographers were impressed by Tony's looks and his behavior. Tony didn't fret and fidget, and did what he was asked to do.
  • I then phoned my Mom in Brandon, Manitoba, Canada to mark the second anniversary of Dad's death. She had placed flowers on his grave the day before. Mom told me about having moles in her backyard. They were living under the snow and in the old tree stumps in the back yard. Her cat Smooch had caught one of them.
  • I then phoned my sister Benita who lives in Sardis, British Columbia and works as a prison guard for the federal government. It was the first time I ever actually phoned her home from China. Usually, my habit had been to talk to her when she was visiting Mom. I had been told that her schedule was haywire and that if I tried to phone her, I would have a difficult time getting an answer, but I was able to hear her voice on the second try. She told me that her son Kyle, aka my nephew, has a chance to go to Australia. Kyle works for a manufacturing company and is doing such a good job that the company may get him to help in a project that they plan to undertake in Australia. How can such a young fellow as Kyle – he is nineteen – get the expert status he would need to get a work visa in Australia? He is a good worker. Perhaps his industrious traits were inherited from his mother. He also doesn't do drugs in a place where the culture is such that someone who doesn't do drugs is an oddity. In order to get an Australian work visa, workers have to pass drug tests. Many British Columbians wouldn't pass these tests.
  • My sister & I talked and talked, and before I knew it it was well past midnight and I had to go to bed.
  • I started reading the play Coriolanus yesterday. I had finished the Comedy of Errors.
  • Can you tell some memories of your father? Since I neglected to mention any memories yesterday, I will have to tell you of two today. 1) Dad was in the army and often went away for months on training exercises. I remember the joy that I and my sister felt when he came back from these exercises with extra ration packs. 2)Dad's decision to retire in Brandon, Manitoba at first seemed to be a good decision. Having lived on military bases all my life, moving to Brandon was a step up for it had a junior hockey team and a McDonald's and other kinds of shopping. It seemed that I was living in a city for the first time. But after finishing High School, something went wrong. I wasted a lot of years not liking what I was doing and not having any clue of what to do with my life. So I decided to move to Winnipeg, and getting bored of that I moved to British Columbia, and then I moved to China. I never understood my father's reasons for wanting to settle in Brandon at the time, but now that I have seen a bit of the world and some of the people who inhabit it, I can see why Dad would want to live in an isolated small city in a neglected part of the North American continent. For I have inherited Dad's misanthropic streak.
  • I can watch the Kings – Black Hawks game live on my computer here at school. The score is four – four early in the third period. [Later: The Black Hawks won in double OT. Oh, how I wish they or the Kings could have won the game sooner!!]
  • From 10:00 to 13:30 (now), I have more or less sat at my desk and studied Chinese. After my three o'clock class, I will get something to eat somewhere.

Friday [May 30]
[School Laptop]
  • Today's shift: 11:00 to 21:00.
  • When at school, I don't do much journalizing after 14:00.
  • I go to the City Hall today for a lunchtime SPC. Hopefully, some government workers come. Many can't come, they tell me, because they have to have lunch.
  • Another hot day. Yesterday, the high was 36 degrees C.
  • At the police station entrance gate that is near Casa Kaulins and is across from the local mom & pop store, I saw a lot of security guards and civilians standing about. I ask the proprietress of the mom & pop why there were so many people and she answered that it was something to do about money.
  • I caught the end of the Rangers – Canadiens game on the computer just now. The Rangers are going to the Stanley Cup Final. The last time they went to the final was 1994 when I was living in Winnipeg and working at Winners.
  • The Rangers could play the Black Hawks or the Kings in the final. If you like uniforms, you would have to hope the Black Hawks win. I suppose the NHL would love to see a New York – Los Angeles final. They just might get this because the Kings are leading their series against the Hawks three games to two.
  • Can you tell some memories of your father? My father was a gardener and I can definitely saying that gardening was his hobby. He spent a lot of time on his 2121 Queens Avenue garden in Brandon. When we were living in Oromocto, New Brunswick (the second time), my father rented a plot of land from a farmer who lived on the outskirts of that town, and many a weekend was spent there. I wasn't much interested in the garden but I did like wandering the area which was close to a river and woods. In the woods, we saw frogs that were as big as one's hands. In some bushes we stumbled upon a wasp's nest and my kid brother Ron got stung. Dad organized the garden with military precision. His plants arranged in low straight rows. The only problem with the land Dad rented was that it was filled with rocks which kept coming up no mater how much Dad tried to throw them away. Still he grew a lot of vegetables of which we ate lots and lots at our meals.
  • Lots of bratty kids at the McDonald's this morning. Maybe, they had a holiday from school today. Although Tony didn't. Anyway, several kids were grabbing the counter's edge and jumping up and down like rabid monkeys. One boy took eight straws from the dispenser and put them all in his mouth. Those sights and the general din caused by the kids made me take my breakfast to school.
  • [Later] I have gone to the City Hall. I had been wondering how comfortable the big open area that we have the English Corner in was going to be. A lot of electricity would be needed to keep the big interior cool I figured. When I walked into the City Hall, the first floor was cool, but when I arrived at the place on the fifth floor where the SPC was to be, the air was muggy and oppressive just as I figured it would be.

Saturday [May 31]
[School Laptop]
  • Today's shift: 10:00 to 18:00. My final class ends at 17:00.
  • This morning, Jenny & Tony were getting ready to go to the Changzhou Dinosaur Park. Jenny's friend Ling Ling was coming to pick them up. They were to drive to where it was that they were going. [Last sentence construction was deliberate.]
  • Tony & Jenny & friends will be staying at hotel tonight which means I will be by myself on Saturday evening.
  • I, on the other hand [said like an economist which I claim to have studied in university], will be at school teaching today and tomorrow. Sunday's shift will be overtime for me.
  • What will I be doing tonight? I will be treat myself to something at some restaurant. Perhaps, I will pick up a large pepperoni pizza from the Hut. If there was a Burger King on the way home, I would go to have a Whopper. Alas, there is none that I know of, possibly because there are none. After some food, I will watch some movies and/or do some blogging. Blogivating?
  • Can you tell some memories of your father? Politically, Dad was a Socialist. Those who read me closely know I am not. I would like to think that Dad's Leftism was earnest in that he was a patriot who loved his country, who hated the Soviets, and wanted to see the poor and disadvantaged get a break. On my second last time to visit him in 2010, I remember he took us to an aboriginal event in Brandon and was eager for me to sign a petition for some aboriginal cause. I demurred. Be that as it may, Dad was an earnest Socialist, and was never cool enough to be part of the cynical, ironic, and crude wave of Leftism that rose in the time of the Bush the younger presidency.
  • Tony told me that he really liked Dinosaur movies, whether they be from the Jurassic series or Godzilla.
  • Oh yes! Long weekend in China. Monday is a holiday. The dragon boat festival. I will have Monday and Tuesday off!
  • I took the 25 bus to the downtown this morning. I eschewed breakfast at McDonald's. I like teaching on an empty stomach.
  • In the morning at Casa Kaulins, I as monitoring the progress of my podcast downloads on my Ipod Touch. I listened to Radio Derb, Father Z, and Mad Dogs and Englishmen on my way to work.
  • I got five strikes on a row on an Ipad bowling game!
  • UKIP is good! Why? Because it has a K in it!!! [Lector: What about the KKK?]
  • On the computer, I could watch game Six of the NHL Western Conference Final between the Kings and the Black Hawks. The game is being played in Los Angeles and the Kings are leading three games to two.
  • Verbose and self-indulgent?
  • On the bus ride home last night, I finished watching the last episode of the Search for the Trojan war and begin watching the final episode of Sir Kenneth Clark's Civilisation series.

Sunday [June 1]
[School Laptop]
  • After work, I took the bus to Wanda Plaza where I picked up a pizza at Pizza Hut. While the pizza was being made, I went to the Grocery Store in the basement to buy some beer (a three pack of Budweiser), ham, and a bottle of Coke.
  • At home, I had my supper, published Ask a Wuxi Expat #2 on my computer, watched the movie the Shop Around the Corner starring James Stewart, watched the fourth episode of the first season of House of Cards, and did some video processing and downloading on the home laptop. I unsuccessfully tried to find the song that was played at the end of the latest episode of the Radio Free Delingpole podcast that was entitled the Gold Diggers. It was a very catchy song that I so much desperately wanted to put on my Ipod.
  • I had trouble sleeping and was up at two o'clock in the morning.
  • Jenny was sending me photos of Tony through the evening. This morning, she phoned me from the hotel. The Changzhou dinosaur park was crowded. One ride had to be shut down to more riders at two thirty in the afternoon. The number of people queued made for a three and a half hour wait.
  • The Shop Around the Corner was a good movie, featured some great screen presences, and hit home with me on several fronts. It starred James Stewart and the man who played the wizard in the Wizard of Oz. Stewart played the retail shop's senior employee. The actor from the Wizard of Oz played the retail shop's owner. Five other actors made up the store's staff. They are all involved in some personal dramas. The Stewart character is the midst of a romance being done by correspondence. The Stewart character is having a troublesome relationship with the the owner. The manager thinks that his wife is cheating on him. A new girl is hired who has a troublesome relationship with the Stewart character. Eventually, the Stewart character is fired by the owner. The owner nearly commits suicide. The new girl tells the Stewart character off. But by the end of the movie everything works out. What struck home with me was the fact that Stewart was the senior employee and was expected to set examples for the rest of the staff. The Stewart character also had these conversations with other staff members where they tried to deal with their personal relationships. I don't have these sort of conversations at my job and I wouldn't want to if it was possible. I also don't set much of an example as a senior employee.
  • I gave the students the following options: friend, beautiful women, handsome man, or talking animal; and asked them with whom they would like to have an adventure. One of the boys said handsome man. What he meant was that he would like to have a man like Rambo or Arnold Schwarzenegger as a partner....
  • It rains heavily. I wonder if Jenny & Tony got caught in the rain. They were planning to go to the Zoo.
Monday [June 2]
[Home Laptop]
  • No shifts today.
  • Dragon Boat Festival today. Perhaps Jenny will prepare the Zhongzhi, traditionally eaten on this day, that the school has provided us.
  • Yesterday was Children's Day.
  • After work yesterday, I walked to Sunning Plaza and meet Jenny & Tony at the Grandma's restaurant where we had supper with Jenny friend's Ling Ling and Ling Ling's son Jerry. We had to wait a hour or so for seats but we passed that time agreeably enough playing on our electronic devices.
  • And the meal we had at the Grandma's made the wait worth it. We had the chicken broiled in a pot, the fabulous garlic fried potatoes chunks, shrimp grilled in garlic butter, and green beans cooked in peppers.
  • After supper, we took the taxi home where we all had an early bed time.
  • This morning, I am watching the seventh game of the Black Hawks – Kings series. The Hawks are leading four-three midway through the third period. I was watching the game on the laptop but now have the game playing on my Ipad mini. A good setup that lets me blog.
  • Can you tell some memories of your father? Dad, being a Canadian, loved hockey. His favorite team was the Maple Leafs. He tried to make me a Leafs fan in 1973 by buying me a lever-controlled hockey game for Maple Leafs fans. I enjoyed the game but became a Canadiens fan because of Cournoyer and Ken Dryden. When Lanny McDonald scored the goal in 1979 that beat the Islanders, I remember being in the basement of our PMQ in Oromocto, New Brunswick, and hearing Dad scream with delight upstairs where he was watching the game. Dad didn't much care for the Canadiens. I remember I had to escape Dad's wrath when Yvon Lambert, later in those same playoffs, scored that famous seventh game overtime goal that eliminated the Bruins. Dad did cheer for the Canadiens in that Christmas Eve 1975 game between the Canadiens and the Red Army. He was seething when the game ended in a tie when the Canadiens should have won 7-1 based on the edge of play. [Hawks and Kings tied at four] Dad was the hockey parent with me and my brother Ron. He drove Ron and me all over Quebec, Manitoba, and New Brunswick to get us to games. He got up early on many a Saturday morning to drive us to ice cold rinks where the only way to keep warm was to be playing the game. A few years, he even volunteered to manage the league. Dad took great pride in the fact that his native country Latvia played hockey. He was proud that Helmut Balderis could play with the Soviet National Team. He followed the exploits of Arturs Irbe very closely. Sandis Ozoliņš playing on the a Stanley Cup winning team made him happy as well. Dad died during the 2012 Stanley Cup Final. On his death bed, he asked how the series between the Kings and Devils was going...
  • I was trying to download the latest episode of Game of Thrones (s4e8) but it contained a virus. I have had to use another torrent.
  • Kings win! So a Kings – Rangers Stanley Cup Final. A fluttering shot from the point goes over the goaler's shoulder.

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