Monday, July 21, 2014

Diary: July 15 to July 21, 2014

  • Andis & Tony go to the technology side of the Wuxi Museum
  • Andis talks to a student about the drivers in Wuxi and in Xian.
  • Andis has to go through some hoops to download a week of the Coffee and Markets podcasts.
  • Andis finishes reading Cymbeline, a play by Shakespeare, and I am Pilgrim, a thriller novel.
  • Andis talks to a girl from Xian about Xian and Wuxi drivers.
  • Andis makes more observations about the Wuxi Metro.
  • Andis has a Chinese lesson and doesn't feel he has made progress with the tones.
  • The Kaulins family goes to Ikea and the nearby Lavit Mall on a Saturday Night.
  • Andis spends Sunday at Casa Kaulins by himself.
  • Jenny compares the Old Navy in Winnipeg with the Old Navy in Wuxi.
  • Andis suffers through Wuxi's summer heat.

Tuesday [July 15]
[School Laptop]
  • My shift today: 13:00 to 21:00. I see I have been given an extra class! Yahoo! Overtime!
  • I am tired after my days off. In an recent online conversation I was asked how I was doing, I had to say that I found Wuxi Summers to be dull. Yesterday, I spent the day with Tony either outside suffering in the heat or inside chasing Tony around museums and shopping centers. It wasn't very inspiring really. But Tony was happy so I shouldn't complain.
  • Some of the activities that I like to do, to keep myself busy, will be neglected for July and August. The heat wearies me.
  • The most interesting thing on the tech side of the Wuxi Museum, that we went to yesterday, was this setup where balls were made to pass through tracks and pipes and other paths in a random fashion so that they were ringing bells, spinning, bouncing on drums or landing in bowls. It was hypnotizing.
  • The lovemaking last night was wonderful.
  • I will still try to answer the question about favorite television series. The first series I mentioned was Kenneth Clark's Civilisation. The second series I have liked is the Wire. Interesting characters, great dialogue, and wonderful music.

Wednesday [July 16]
[School Laptop]
  • My shift today: 13:00 to 21:00.
  • When I arrived home last night, Tony was watching television with the Apple TV machine. He made a point of telling me that he was able to set up it all by himself.
  • Tony & Jenny will be going to Hangzhou on Sunday for another model shoot. Tony's making money for himself! [Daddy, narrow minded bigot that he is, won't piss away the money drinking. The money goes into Tony's account for his future.]
  • I had my weekly Chinese lesson this morning. Just as I think I have the tones figured out, my teacher would say you pronounced the words wrong. I am going to have to practice and practice till they become second nature and I don't have to think about them.
  • As it is thinking about tones makes learning Chinese very difficult. I would rather do anything but think about them.
  • One of my Chinese problems is that I pronounce the first tone as a third tone. If I say a word with a string of three first tone syllables, I get lazy on the last one. I also had a devil of a time trying to say two third tone syllables in succession.
  • We had our lessons at a Starbucks near Ba Bai Ban. A table of five women made quite din as they chatted away. It took a lot of concentration on tones to not be bothered by them.
  • I did a salon class about America yesterday. As a warm-up exercise I asked the students to each tell me a famous American. Two students said they couldn't think of any. I can understand it when they can't think of any famous Canadians but you really have to be provincial and wearing blinders if you can't name one American. I ended up asking these two students, both teenage middle school girls, if they could name some famous Chinese people thinking that perhaps they didn't know what I meant by “famous.”
  • For some reason, Itunes was not downloading the latest episodes of the Coffee and Markets podcast for me. When I didn't get episodes for two days, I thought that maybe the podcast hosts were taking time off. But when I was synching my Itunes on my computer with my Ipod, I noticed that there were six new episodes that hadn't been added, automatically as they normally would, to the Ipod. So this morning, I spent a lot of time jiggering the Itunes so that I could get the episodes downloaded. For whatever reason, Itunes is not letting my subscription to the show work. I have to search for each episode myself at the Itunes store. [As I type this, the sixth missing episode is being downloaded. I have had to download the episodes at work and at Starbucks]
  • On my attendance list for my next class, I have the student Jack, and on the line below I have Ruby. So, I read Jack Ruby, the man who shot JFK's assassin. The assassin of the assassin.

Thursday [July 17]
[School Laptop]
  • Today's shift: 10:00 to 21:00.
  • Riding the train to work today, I noticed that I hadn't brought my umbrella with me. The last time I remember using it was last night. I remember pulling it out as it began to drizzle on my way home. So I hope it doesn't rain tonight.
  • Last night, I had a class with a student who used to live in Xian. She was a young girl attending middle school who had lived in Wuxi for three years. She had moved to Wuxi because of her parents business. I asked her to compare and contrast Xian and Wuxi. She told me Xian had hotter summers, but more interestingly she told me that Xian drivers were much more likely to obey the rules of the road and weren't inconsiderate of pedestrians as Wuxi drivers were. Rare readers may know that one of my biggest sources of material for this blog is being cut off by what I considerate to be ignorant and inconsiderate and rude and generally all around asshat Wuxi drivers. And so it pleases me to know that what I have experienced is a local problem and not a problem of the whole Chinese mainland.
  • Or could it be that Xian is the only place in the Chinese mainland where they drive civilized? Anyway, it is nice to see a Chinese person has a similar complaint about Wuxi drivers that I do.
  • The girl also mentioned that Xian was building subway lines. The first of five lines there had been finished, she told me.
  • Another television series that I like: The Simpsons. They say that the show has overstayed its welcome but I still love to quote moments from the show when it was in its prime.
  • Chinese students don't seem to have much of a summer holiday compared to the summer holidays I had. Never in the summers of my school years did I do homework. I had great memories of walking in woods and exploring creeks when I was their age. The students I talk to complain of the homework constantly. When I ask the students what they are going to do for the day or the evening, they don't have much to tell me other than that they have homework to work on and if they have spare time, that they will watch a little bit of television.

Friday [July 18]
[School Laptop]
  • Today's shift: 11:00 to 21:00.
  • I have got the yawns. I suppose the summer heat is getting to me.
  • Two Metro anecdotes to pass on to you, my very rare readers: 1) This morning, I was attempting to take video of the metro pulling into the Xibei Station. I was at the end where the front of the train would have stopped. As I directed my camera at the train, one of the platform attendants ran up to me and told me that I couldn't take a video. Why? She tried to explain but I didn't bother trying to hear her explanation. There is a similar policy in Shanghai. 2) The train drivers don't seem to be able to get their trains to come to a smooth stop. The trains always jolt the passengers before coming to a full stop. Wednesday night, the train come to a rest at a station but then had to lurch forward about a foot to align itself properly with the platform exit gates, thereby giving the passengers who had stood up to exit a bigger jolt than they may have become accustomed to.
  • Tony got a new bicycle. It has training wheels. I hope that they will soon be shed.
  • This afternoon, I went to a company located near the Wuxi airport and so we had a half-hour taxi ride in the sweltering hear. I fell asleep on the ride – something I never usually do. Either I am adopting local ways or I am get old.

Saturday [July 19]
[School Laptop]
  • Today's shift: 10:00 to 18:00 but my last class finishes at 17:00 and so I can leave an hour early.
  • Not much to say for myself today. I was glad to see that David Warren's blog site was accessible again. I have also finished two books in the past 36 hours: I am Pilgrim: a brain candy page-turner thriller that was praised by the blogger Duff, and Cymbeline: a play by Shakespeare. My capsule review: both good reads. Was struck me about Cymbeline was the amazingly gentlemanly behavior of the character Lucius – despite going to war with the British king Cymbeline, his and the king's disagreement and declaration of war was done civilly and with outstanding manners.
  • One thing I find irksome about riding the subway is that the manner of seating on the train means I see more children and can look more directly at their parents and grandparents. It is not a pretty sight. You don't see too many urban hipsters on a Wuxi subway train, that is for sure.

Sunday [July 20]
[Home Laptop]
  • No shifts today.
  • No wife and child as well. Jenny & Tony were up early this morning to catch a bus to go to Hangzhou so Tony can appear in a photo shoot.
  • I will stay at home. It is going to be a unbearably hot today and I have some things to do and things I would like to do that I can do at home. I want to do some blogging, some research, and publish one article to the Wuxi China Expatdom blog among other things. I also have to keep the house clean and I do some have some tasks to perform for Jenny. One thing I have to do for her is put together this shelf that we bought last night at Ikea.
  • Never go to Ikea on a Saturday night. If it was up to me, I would have followed this maxim that I formulated the last time Jenny had us go to Ikea on a Saturday. But it wasn't up to me. I phoned Jenny during a break from talking at school and she told me that she and Tony were on the way to Ikea. I joined her after my last gab session.
  • Why shouldn't I go to Ikea on Saturday? Too many people. The lineup in the food places takes the joy out of eating the food. Also, the Ikea bus which comes by every forty minutes can be a frustrating bitch to wait for.
  • I was at least fortunate last night to not have to take the bus to Ikea. It just so happened that a fellow at work, who had a car, was able to give me a ride there. It just so happened that he lived near Ikea 离家.
  • The traffic, I observed, as I was taken to Ikea made me glad to ride the train to work. I don't have to worry so much about stopping.
  • Tony and Jenny actually were eating at a Burger King as I was making my way to Ikea. This created a quandary for me. Should I eat there or go for the hot dogs at Ikea?
  • I decided to do the latter. However, dumb me, I didn't know how to get to the checkout area, where the hot dogs were, and wasted ten minutes walking through the store to get to satisfy my craving. The actual hot dog experience was ruined by the fact that I was carrying a bag of bread with me. Trying to eat three hot dogs and drink a soft drink, with one hand, while standing, because there were no free tables is hard. I did it but I don't want to have the challenge again.
  • Wuxi has another mega mall for shoppers to go to. [Just what it needs] Near the Ikea, there is the Lavit Mall which is at least four floors tall (I didn't get a chance to explore the whole place) and has a Subway, a Burger King, an Old Navy, a Toys R Us and a Gap store. It has the cavernous feeling of the Hen Long Plaza, the Suning Plaza, the Wuxi Wanda Plaza, the Moi Ye Plaza and the Chongan Walk Street.
  • Like the Moi Ye Plaza, there were many empty store spaces. So many in fact that even the very bright and colorful boards that covered them could not hide the fact of under-occupancy.
  • The Toys R Us didn't sell any Plarail products. Its selection disappointed Jenny & me.
  • I was eager to check out the Old Navy store, thinking I could buy a China 2014 Old Navy shirt to add to my collection of Old Navy shirts that include a USA 2003 shirt, a Canada 2004 shirt, and a Canada 2012 shirt, but there was none to be had which disappointed and surprised me. I mentioned to this Jenny and she told me about the vulgarity of Canada memorabilia that she saw at the Old Navy in Winnipeg and other stores in Canada. There were Canada towels and balls and hats and so on, said Jenny. Chinese, she said, just don't go for that. [Although the Old Navy selling USA 2014 shirts (which I wouldn't buy because that would imply support of its having elected Obama) seemed strange to me.]
  • To cap off a fun [not] evening of shopping, we took the Ikea bus to downtown to where we would catch the subway. The bus was packed and so I had to stand for the entire ride, Jenny and Tony eventually getting a seat. Thinking of the character in the film I like so much, the Lunchbox, standing every day on the train that he has to take to work, I didn't feel so aggrieved, and I even did not mind standing then on the subway ride as well.
  • From the subway station, Tony and I took a petty-cab home because I was carrying the shelf that I will assemble sometime today. The first petty-cab driver wanted six rmb to get to the California Villa. Jenny insisted on five rmb and eventually found a driver who would take us there for that price.
  • The driver knew enough English to ask what country I was from.
  • Television series I like: 1) Firing Line with William F Buckley. I loved the fact that he was very welcoming to persons his views he didn't agree with like Alan Ginsburg and JK Galbraith and George McGovern. 2) Cosmos with Carl Sagan. William F Buckley was very critical of Sagan but no one would say that Sagan's television series wasn't compelling. The new Cosmos, however, has a host who is so full of liberal democrat Barack Obama sanctimony, that I find it unwatchable. I don't recall Sagan being that way, but I was a naïve one when I watched the series all those years ago. 3) Hockey Night in Canada. I feel I have to include a Canadian show and this would have to be it. The Americans who watch this show praise it for its ability to show a game that really isn't television friendly.

Monday [July 21]
[Home Laptop]
  • No shifts today.
  • Yesterday, I put together the Ikea shelf no problem. I spent an hour or so trying to transcribe this speech made by a silly liberal evangelical type – I should get paid for it.
  • Yesterday, I went for a brief walk outside and perspired heavily. I had to shower as soon as I got back to Casa Kaulins.
  • I spent an hour on my AKIC diary entry – the very one that you are reading now!
  • I then watched King's Row, a movie which starred Ronald Reagan and Claude Rains among others. Reagan's acting was awkward at times but his overall screen presence was likable. His type of character would go out of fashion, only to be replaced by the dark broodiness of Marlon Brandon, among others. The movie itself was melodramatic but full of enough plot twists and emotional moments to be worth a viewing by those who aren't Quentin Tarantino jaded fucks.
  • Meanwhile, Jenny & Tony went to the countryside of Hangzhou for the photo shoot. To get there and back, they had to take buses and trains. There was no direct route.
  • I meet them at the train station in the evening. We went downtown for a simple lunch at a noodle house called Baishilo which is two doors down from our school. We then went to the Babaiban department store so Tony could purchase a toy – his wages for his modeling.
  • Tony unfortunately behaved badly the whole day and I wonder if he will get another modeling job.
  • Today it is hot. I may take Tony for a long subway ride, but other than that we will stay home in the A/C.
  • Another television series I like? Seinfeld. It had many moments of comic genius.
  • I just got a phone call from Jenny that went like this: no more KFC, McDonald's, and Burger King for Tony & us. Jenny saw some report about the food at these restaurants being sold after its best-to-sell date.
  • A few other television series that have earned my admiration: The Beverly Hillbillies, Get Smart, Pee Wee's Playhouse and Sledgehammer.

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