Monday, July 28, 2014

Diary: July 22 to July 28, 2014

  • Andis lists his favorite Germans and Austrians. Two of them are kickballers.
  • Andis finishes typing out dictation of a lecture delivered by a Jim Wallace of the Sojourners.
  • Andis hates the weather.
  • Arnis Kaulins's birthday is this week.
  • Andis is frustrated by the four tones of the Mandarin language.
  • Andis watches the film the Lives of Others.
  • Andis talks about his conversion to conservatism.
  • The Kaulins family miss the boat.
  • Andis ponders the question: What is social justice?
  • Andis likes the Canadian website Small Dead Animals.
  • Andis sees a security man porting a firearm.
  • Andis wonders about the abilities of Wuxi Metro Drivers.
  • Andis & Tony take the Wuxi Metro to Changguangxi Station.
  • Andis & Tony wander around the Xizhang Station.

Tuesday [July 22]
[School Laptop]
  • Today's shift: 13:00 to 21:00. I teach an extra class today! Yahoo! It means overtime.
  • The day was hot enough that I brought a change of pants and of a shirt to work.
  • Yesterday, Tony wanted to take the subway. So I took him to the Mao Ye Mall and the Wuxi Museum and Taihu Square. I couldn't get Tony to eat even though he agreed to go to the Starbucks at Mao Ye and the Pizza Hut at Parkson's. All he did eat was a piece of pizza and some chips at Pizza Hut. So I found that I had spent too much money on food for myself.
  • We only spent a half-hour at Taihu Square, where Tony likes to drive mini toy cars yesterday – we had spent an hour on the two previous occasions. Yesterday, Tony found the heat too intense and told me he wanted to quit driving the toy car after 28 minutes.
  • Maybe, this week I will talk about my favorite Germans and Austrians.

Wednesday [July 23]
[School Laptop]
  • It's my father's birthday today. He would have been 82.
  • In a month, it will be Tony's birthday. That be, Anthony Arnis Peng Kaulins if you look at his birth certificate. Anthony or Tony will be seven. I think he is already seven by Chinese reckoning.
  • I had my Chinese lesson this morning. What can I say about it? I hate the tones. I hate the f***ing tones! As soon as I think I have them figured out, my teacher tells me that I got them all wrong. With the first tone, I get lazy and I begin to pronounce it like the third tone. With the second tone, I thought I had it down pat but then my teacher tells me that I am mixing it up with the fourth tone. With the third tone, I again get lazy and start to pronounce it like the first tone. When the fourth tone follows the third tone, my efforts to try to pronounce it drive my teacher to drink.
  • To end the class, I was doing Chinese numbers from one to ten. I couldn't pronounce any of them properly.
  • After class, I went to a noodle house and tried to order fried noodles. The clerk didn't understand me when I asked for chaomian (炒面). Now I know that my grasp of the finer intricacies of the Chinese language is poor, but I still think you have to be pretty dumb or lacking in imagination when someone comes into your restaurant and tries to order one of the basic dishes on your menu and you can't figure out what they are asking for. What else can chaomian be in that context?
  • Because of bad news about a supplier of meat to McDonalds, Jenny has decreed that Tony & I can't go to McDonalds or KFC or Burger King. This bad news that Jenny heard is big in China. The students have heard it and I overheard that McDonalds has had to stop selling things on their menu.
  • I finished reading another book by Romano Guardini last night. It was a book about prayer. In fact, I could say it was a manual and I learned about how I had been doing it so wrong. I should put the book in a reference section in my Ibooks app.
  • It is hot outside again. I have seen many locals using umbrellas for shade and I have seen a few shirtless men. One shirtless man, I saw on the subway; another, I saw while on the bus. The second fellow was wearing dress pants and had his dress shirt draped on his shoulders as he walked down the street.
  • I finished trying to take dictation for a lecture given by a certain Jim Wallace of the Sojourners. There was so much that I disagreed with in the lecture that I wouldn't know where to start if I made a detailed critique. Briefly, I could say that this guy is a leftie, a liberal-democrat type, and even though he is a man of faith, he is a menace to the world and to people's souls. [John Derbyshire actually mentioned Wallace in a recent Radio Derb podcast. Derb had nothing good to say about him. Another podcast host, I listened to this week, said that Leftist religious types are menace – so bad that they make hard-core Leninists look good.]
  • The task that I have set for myself this week is to name at least seven Germans and Austrians I like. The Germans being an accomplished people, you would think that this would be very easy. The problem is that I can more easily think of a few I don't like very much: Marx, Luther and Hitler. But I will have to make an effort to overlook these three people.
  • The first German to come to mind is the Pope Benedict, aka Joseph Ratzinger. I prefer Benedict's cool intellectualism to the strange pop culture appeal of Pope Francis.
  • The second German I will mention today is Konrad Adenauer. The first chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany (the country I was born in). He restored Germany to its role as one of the most admired nations in the world.

Thursday [July 24]
[School Laptop]
  • Today's shift: 10:00 to 21:00. I got an extra class so I get some overtime pay.
  • On the way to work I observed three things that I deem to be worthy of mentioning in the blog and that I deem necessary to report to my readers, many of whom are rare: 1) As I was walking to the bus stop near Casa Kaulins, I saw a security officer openly carrying a sidearm: an SMG gun. He was leading a line of three security types dressed in black uniforms. I was reminded of seeing bank guards in Mexico City carrying sub machine guns as they stood at an entrance to a bank. 2) At an intersection that is below the Wuxi Metro Line as well as being between the Xi Bei and Yanqiao Stations, I saw an old man who surely must have been senile, walking and looking lost in the middle of traffic. 3) I could have sworn that the driver of the Metro train almost stopped his train at the wrong end of the platform. Instead of waiting to slow down as the train got to the front end of the platform so that the entire length of the train could be accessed by passengers trying to get on and off the train, the driver slowed down as he got to what would be the back end of the platform. The train slowing down caused many passengers to stand up prematurely and then be jolted as the train sped up a little to get to the proper end of the platform.
  • Today, I will name three Germans and Austrians I like. 1)Mozart 2)Bach 3) Beethoven. No need for me to explain why.

Friday [July 25]
[School Laptop]
  • Today's shift: 11:00 to 21:00. I have six classes.
  • I love Jenny. I love Jenny. I love Jenny.
  • Tony was disappointed that I didn't take him with me to school yesterday. Tony had told me that he didn't want me to go to work and I asked him if he wanted to go to school with me. He took it as an offer while I meant it as a lament. I will try and take him to school next week.
  • Typhoonish weather at the moment. Not so much wet. as windy..
  • I support Israel. Just let it be known for the record. The Palestinians if they had any decent leaders could have some redeemable qualities about them. As it is, they have no one to blame but themselves for their poverty and backwardness. To have a great people like the Israelis, Jews, as neighbors is an opportunity to learn....
  • Recently, I have begun reading Small Dead Animals on daily basis. Yesterday, the blog linked to a great article in the American Thinker that was written by a former Leftist. The author gave ten reasons why he was no longer a member of the Left. Four I can mention to you now are: 1) Leftism doesn't work. 2) Leftists are hypocrites 3) Leftists are asshats 4) Leftists are ignorant of what Conservatives believe.
  • I have been a conservative type for so long that I sometimes forget that I was once of the Leftist persuasion. I gave up on it after the presidency of Ronald Reagan and listening to Rush Limbaugh. This opened me to a greater world which included the likes of Milton Friedman, Marc Steyn, William F Buckley, Evelyn Waugh, John Derbyshire, FA Hayek, and David Warren to name but a few.
  • Some more Germans I like. Franz Beckenbauer and Karl Heinz Ruminege. Two stylish German kickballers that I remember from my youth.
  • Study Advisor Edith asked me the difference between Extend and Expand.
  • I will have a class with a student who is living in Winnipeg. He is spending a month in Wuxi before going back. Winnipeg, he tells me, has only two shopping malls: Grant Park and Polo Park. [Later: the student told me that despite Winnipeg's bad weather, mosquitoes, and lack of shopping malls, he preferred it to Wuxi. He said the Winnipeg people are much more polite than Wuxi's. This leads me to wonder: has being in Wuxi so long, turned me into an asshat? Nah. I have always been.]

Saturday [July 26]
[School Laptop]
  • Today's shift: 10:00 to 18:00. I got the usual load of classes, finish at 17:00, and then have to go on this canal boat trip. Jenny had said that Tony liked boat trips but he has been telling us now that he doesn't want to go on the trip.
  • I set my alarm for six AM every morning. This morning, I work up, with a start, and turned over to check the time on my Ipad which I have on my night table because I wanted to see how much time I had to snooze before the alarm was to ring. The Ipad said it was 5:59.
  • As I waited at the bus stop, I saw the same four security guards, I had seen earlier in the week, walking in single file on the sidewalk. The lead guard dressed in blue was toting the sub-machine gun again as the three dressed in black followed him. Seeing them come from a distance, I had time to think how I would react as they came close. I knew well enough to not take a photo of them. What I did do was look at them briefly and then look at the reactions of the locals. They all averted their eyes as well.
  • If you could live one day over and over and over again, I asked the students, what day would you live? One student told me that he would like live the day before his rent was due over and over and over again – a clever answer I thought.

Sunday [July 27]
[Home Laptop]
  • No shifts today but I have to go to this winter wonderland activity for the school this afternoon, if I can find the place.
  • Last evening, the Kaulins family missed the boat. We were supposed to go on a school boat trip that would have taken us on the canals of Wuxi. I was told that the meeting point was by the Starbucks at the gate to Nanchang Jie. Instead of meeting up with the others in front of the school, I decided to go to where I was told the boat launch was directly. This was the wrong place, but it just so happened that around the appointed time that we were to board the boat, there was a thunderstorm and very heavy rain. Right when I should have been wondering where everyone else was, I was instead, because of the heavy rain and Tony's whining, in a mood to bail on the outing and so when they phoned asking where we were, we told them not to bother waiting for us.
  • Tony, who we thought would want to go on the boat trip, was very whiny last night and it was a relief when we decided to bail on the trip because it put an end to his whining.
  • [Later] The winter wonderland trip was a waste of time. The place was small, probably an industrial refrigerator contraption that someone thought could be converted into a winter amusement park. Not very enthusiastic about going, the place made me want to be in a bad mood.
  • There have thunder showers, on and off, since I got off yesterday afternoon. They played a part in our missing the boat and not being able to have a proper supper this evening.
  • At least, I have been able to see a good movie: The Lives of Others, the German movie about the Stasi. The film's ending was quite affecting. The only thing that I could criticize about the movie was its not conveying the real shabbiness that was East German and the Soviet world in general. Everything seemed to be done up movie perfect.
  • For supper, I walked to a small restaurant at the Wanda Plaza and picked up some dumplings. Jenny gave me the list and I presented it to the clerk at the store.
  • The eight person on my list of favorite Austrians and Germans: F.A. Hayek. An intellectual hero.
  • What is social justice? I have just watched a five minute video where Jonah Goldberg tries to answer the question. Of course, he couldn't because it is a meaningless word. In a Hayek book, I read, someone said that the word social is best thought of as a negator. That is, social negates the meaning of the word it modifies. So, social justice means non-justice.

Monday [July 28]
[Home Laptop]
  • No shifts today, but I am busy all the same. I have woken at 9:00 AM and have to rush. Jenny & Tony & I will meet at 11:30 for lunch. So I have to rush about Casa Kaulins to get things done before we leave.
  • Tony is watching Godzilla versus Gina on the Apple TV. I downloaded the movie over the weekend.
  • I stood on the subway train, all the way back, as I came back from yesterday's lame winter wonderland trip. It was that crowded.

  • I took Tony, on his request, to the Wuxi Museum. We of course went there by subway.
  • First though, Tony wanted to get off at the Xizhang Station and look around for a while till the next train would come to the station so that we could continue on our way.
  • Xizhang station is the first station across the canal, from Xibei Station, if you are heading south on the number one line. Xizhang is a rather forlorn station for the moment. There is nothing close to it but empty fields and yet-to-be-completed apartment buildings. About four people got on the train that Tony & I eventually boarded so that we could continue on our way.
  • Not much to say about our trip to the Wuxi Museum. Tony wanted to go back to the technology side of the Museum for a third time. I suppose he likes to play with the interactive displays.
  • After visiting the museum, I got Tony to agree to take the train all the way to the Changguangxi Station: the southern terminus of Wuxi Metro Line #1. We got out of the station and walked to the nearby Wuxi Studio. I assume this place is a Shopping Mall with a movie making theme. [Yes. I have found another shopping mall in Wuxi! ] This mall, though half-empty like all the other new malls that have been constructed recently in Wuxi, has a Las Vegas Rococo feel to it, which may make it worth another visit some day.
  • Tony about then annoyed me because he refused to pose for a photo beside one of the numerous statues, on the Wuxi Studio grounds, of a Roman soldier. His refusing resulted in a stand-off between us where eventually he agreed to take a photo of me by the statue. Despite my pleas to him to pose for just one photo, he refused, and I got so angry at him so that I reamed him out for five minutes as we walked back to the Changguangxi Station. Having got him to put his head down in shame so that he was whimpering, I ended up feeling like a big smuck.
  • A petty-cab driver tried to charge me ten rmb to go from the Yanqiao Station to the Wanda Plaza. I talked him down to five. It made Jenny happy when I told her this.
  • A final word on Germans. I ran into some Germans in Shilo, Manitoba. They were a better dressed and better behaved lot than the Canadian soldiers at that base. One funny thing about them though. The Germans who went to Shilo loved native women: something the local non-aboriginal men would never do.
  • I also have run into some Germans here in Wuxi. One of them acted counter to the stereotype of Germans not having a sense of humor. Another was a bit of a psycho who was born forty years too late or on the right side of the West-East Germany divide to apply his true talents. But one German really earned my eternal admiration. What did he do? He actually showed up five minutes before an appointed time. A group of us were to meet to go to a funeral. This German and I were the first to show up. The Anglo-Saxon types – I am not one – also showed up later like they were southern Europeans.

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