Wednesday, December 23, 2015

December 2015 Notes (Part 2)

Merry Christmas to my few readers if you are reading this before Christmas because I managed to publish it before Christmas and you read it before Christmas.

In this entry, which is my Christmas present to you, I will tell you the topic of my next talk with #6 High School students, I will make confessions, I will tell you my plans for Christmas and early 2016, I will pass on what student Cherry told me about her grandparents, I will tell you my son Tony's favorite Christmas song, I will tell you what I find so amazing about going to Wuxi gas stations, I will tell you how I almost lost this blog entry, I will complain about Star Wars not being in China yet, I will answer a question a student asked me, and I will tell you some other things that you will just have to read the blog entry to find out about.


My next class or speech at #6 High School will be in January.  I am starting work on it now.  I will work on it 15 minutes a day till I have to present it.  The topic will be School Days in Canada.  If I do a good job of it, I may publish its text in this blog.


I sometimes lose the will to blog.  I read so many other writers who do have things to say and so I feel (or realize) that I don't.


In early January, I am going to publish a list of books I read and a list of movies I watched in 2015.  [Live Present Tense Blogging:  I have watched 92 movies so far this year.  I don't know if I will be able to make it to 100.]


If I had a social life, which to some means to have a life, I think I would have less of a will to blog.  Gossip is boring.  And most people have nothing to say that would deviate from they have read in the New York Times or have heard on the CBC or BBC.


Student Cherry had some interesting stories to tell me about her grandparents.

First, she had a grandparent who was a landlord. Whenever, the students tell me about having landlord ancestors, I ask if that status resulted in persecution.  Cherry told me that her grandfather had tears in his eyes when he told her about Red Guards destroying his collection of old classic books during the Cultural Revolution.

One of her great grandfathers had three wives.  The wife with the bound feet was the most cherished of the three.  [This story came about when I asked her what half brothers or sisters were.  I had never thought of it.  But children born in polygamous families could be half or full siblings to each other depending on who their mothers are.]


During Advent, which is the time before Christmas and not the Christmas shopping festival I have been telling the students about, I have been playing Christmas music in our Citroën C3-XR.  I downloaded, via torrent, a collection of Christmas songs sung by Frank Sinatra (the Capital Christmas Album, not the Reprise Christmas Album) and a collection of Christmas tracks recorded by the Rat Packers who could sing.  

Tony liked listening to Dean Martin singing Let It Snow, and would ask me to play the track over and over again while not at all caring to hear the other tracks on the Rat Pack Christmas Album.  Playing the other tracks, he would tell me they were no good.  It was all very strange, but Tony is picky so I didn't think anymore about it.

But then I watched Die Hard 2 with him one evening.  He liked the action and explosions of the first Die Hard so much that I, always catering to his enthusiasms, decided to watch the sequel.  During the sequel's closing credits, they played a recording, not by Dean Martin but some by some singer, of Let It Snow.  He liked the song so much because he had heard it played during the closing credits of the first Die Hard.  I had never picked up on that.


I never have a hassle at a gas/petrol station in Wuxi.  That is, I have never experienced the feeling of annoyance I have when trying to park or when driving about in Wuxi traffic, because there is never ever a lineup when I go to a Wuxi gas station.  But it bothers me because it doesn't make any sense that that should be.

Not that I am complaining.  In fact, I am rather grateful that I never seem to have to wait in a lineup for petrol in Wuxi, but that it should be so just doesn't compute in my mind.  So many cars parked hither and thither, you would think that there would be lineups at the gas stations.  But this is because there are lots of gas stations, Jenny tells me.  To which I respond, Really?  In our district, I see more police stations and government buildings than I see gas stations.

So there must be some fact of which I am not aware.  Are there more gas stations than I know but I don't come upon them?  Are there times when most cars fill up and I don't happen to be there?  With my irregular schedule which isn't Monday to Friday, nine to five, I can go to places when they are not busy.  So perhaps, local drivers fuel up their cars on weekday evenings.

I have voiced aloud some ridiculous theories that have lead to suggestions of theories that are more probable.  I joked that all the parked cars, I see, are parked where they are because their owners were not aware that you need to fill them up with gas to get them to keep working.  Make this joke aloud, I have, and some have responded that many Chinese buy their cars for show, don't drive them so much and thus don't need to go to the gas stations all that often.


Sights seen on a Wednesday as I made my way to school:  old man on bicycle going through an intersection against the lights; car stopped for some indiscernible reason on a road that is already lacking space for through traffic; a car that should be parallel-parked but instead is more parked at an angle so that its rear end sticks out into traffic and causes congestion of a road that already lacking space for through traffic; and dirty pavement near the subway station requiring a good washing


I got this message from my Mom:  I have not heard from you for a while.  Could you phone.   Mom.  

Negligent son I am.


And probably a negligent father, now that I think about the anecdotes I told you about where I let Tony watch Die Hard movies which are coarse and violent.


I darn near deleted this blog entry, losing a week's worth of thoughts.   Recently, I have been working on my blog entry in my QQ mail and saving it in the draft folder.  One day, while on the school's computer,  I decided to clean out the my QQ mail draft folder.  In it, I had 34 draft emails:  two of which were still of any use; the others all having accumulated and been forgotten about.  But in cleaning out the folder, I deleted the draft email which contained this blog entry.  I thought that I could go to the deleted folder and recover the just deleted email blog entry, but I saw a message which said that deleted drafts were permanently deleted.

Desperate, I did some research on the Internet but I couldn't find anything to help me with my problem.  But I then thought to go to my QQ mail app on my Ipad.  Because the tablet wasn't connected to the internet, there was still a chance that it was in the draft folder there...

It turned out I was correct in my assumption but not without a moment in which I had to pray.  The heading for the recently deleted email was in the draft folder on the Ipad's QQ mail app, but the contents of it weren't.  My hope was that I could log the Ipad onto the Internet and get the email's content.  Miraculously or so it seemed to me, the text of the deleted email was downloaded when I logged onto WiFi and I was able to forward the deleted email to myself and and thus retrieve the text.

There were entries that I would have forgotten if I hadn't been able to retrieve them.


I am a member of this site called Medium.  It seems to be a social site where you can make blog like entries and have people comment on them.

I felt compelled to comment on an article, advertised via email, saying the Fascism was returning to America.  It was one of these hysterical screeds written in response to comments made by Donald Trump about restricting Muslim immigration to the USA.  I took a very opposing tact and said that Donald Trump was not a Fascist but that in the current climate of gutless politicians, he was looking like a Churchill.

[I say this hoping that Trump doesn't get the Republican nomination.  This observer would like to see Ted Cruz or Rick Santorum get the nomination.  Still, Trump would be a less repulsive president that the lying, corrupt, phony, cuckoldess Hilary Clinton.  But that is not saying much.]


Student, a saleswoman, told me she had lost one of her customers.  What had happened was that the government had introduced her customer to a competing company that just so happened to be a government company.  The student suggested that her old customer was intimidated in taking the government company as her customer. No one wants to make Xi Da Da mad, she told me.


I was all primed to take Tony to see Star Wars 7 on December 18th,  until it gradually dawned on me that the film wouldn't be in Chinese cinemas on that date.  In early December, I first noticed that there wasn't a Star Wars promotion in the lobby of the Hui Shan Wanda Cinema when I went to see a movie there.  Then I couldn't find any mention of the movie on the Wanda Cinema app.  The publicity stunt of putting five hundred storm troopers on the Great Wall made me think, for an instant, that my fears were unfounded, but the article I read on the Internet about the stunt said that there was no planned release date for the film in China.

And so I thought:  Agggh!  What is wrong with the Chinese?  They can't drive, they can't govern themselves like free peoples and now they won't show Star Wars 7 in their cinemas?

I have great hopes that this Star Wars movie will be better than the three recently made movies of the series which were horrible.  [I have not shown them to Tony though I have been thinking about it lately.  What has me not showing the three bad Star Wars movies to Tony is that he may want to watch them over and over again anyway.]

I may have to show Tony a bootleg copy of the movie if it doesn't come to China.

[Alas, Star Wars will come to China on Saturday, January 9th.  I have told Jenny that she must buy Tony & I tickets so we can see it that very evening.]


I will be publishing a series of year end award articles on my Wuxi China Expatdom site.


A student asked if I would trade places with a Chinese person.  I was canvassing for these sorts of questions because the topic of my English Corner was trading places.

I hesitated before I answered, but I answered truthfully as I could without offending them and without having really thought that question out for myself.  I said I wouldn't unless I could be a Tang Dynasty poet.  

I tell my rare readers that my true answer to that question is hell no!

[Thinking about it some more, I say now that I want to trade places with a Hong Kong Chinese person, a Taiwan Chinese, and an Overseas Chinese but not a Mainland Chinese.]


Hearing someone was able to go back to their home country made me feel so depressed  that I had the sinking feeling in my stomach and I couldn't fall asleep.

Thoughts to combat the feeling couldn't cause the feeling to subside.  There wasn't much for me to do, I told myself, but to be quiet, ride out the feeling, and pray.


[Live Present Tense Blogging] My plans as Christmas approaches are not forming.  I'd hate to be asked by others what they are.  It seems like I won't be doing any Christmasy thing on December 25th.  We may just sleep late.  We may go to a Japanese restaurant that date.  Tony may not be unwrapping presents because I have yet to buy any.


Instead of seeing Star Wars in the cinema, we saw the move that did premiere in China on December 18th:  Mojin:  the Lost Legend.    It featured burial chambers in deep caverns, Red Guards, bad foreign actors, zombie Japanese soldiers, tomb raiders, a Chinese version of Lara Croft who was delicious to behold, and an Angelababy in pigtails.  More importantly, it had subtitles.


[Live Blogging] I have a plan for Christmas Day!

Christmas buffet at the Ikea!

Jenny has bought tickets!


Merry Christmas!

Christ the King is born!

The Devil is forced to retreat!

Thursday, December 10, 2015

December 2015 Notes (Part 1)

This blog entry, from the first half of December 2015, presents some thoughts and observations made by me, a few thoughts and observations made to me, and some reportage of things that just happened to have happened or occurred to me while I was in class, driving, listening to podcasts, walking down the local streets, hanging out with my son Tony, sitting at my desk at school, reading, or surfing the internet.


A student named Angela said her company was dealing in leashes and dog collars.


I rolled down my window, raised my arm outside and flipped the bird at a driver.  He had honked at me as I was trying to get out of our apartment complex.  Impatient so-and-so.


I was in the left turn lane.  A driver behind me was steering his car so he could pass me when the light turned green.  I steered mine to stop him.


I fantasize about doing the following:  a local driver behind my vehicle honks an unnecessary impatient honk.  I stop my car.  I get out of my car, walk back to the car and confront the driver.  I grab his head and plant his face in his steering wheel so that the horn is blaring.  Hopefully, he learns to curtail his honking.


Listened to an "expat" podcast from Beijing and heard that it is now said that the term "expatriate" is racist.  Why are some saying this?  They say the term is only ever applied to white people and so it must be bad.  People from Nigeria who live in America would be called immigrants.  



My voice in early December was very hoarse.  Everyone was saying that I had a cold.  I told them that I didn't and all that was wrong with me was my voice.


I have never called in sick in my eleven years in China.  

The last time I called in sick for any job I had was in the 1990s.


In a previous entry, I mentioned that the our room in the Yixing Kempenski had a deluxe toilet with automatic lid lifting, automatic flushing, and ventilation that stopped odors; and that we were all quite taken with it.

Talking about it later with Jenny, we agreed that maybe we should have bought an expensive toilet for our home instead of having bought a car.


If I had choose between Paris being attacked by some terrorists or Paris being the site of a Climate conference, I would opt for the terrorist attack. Less people's lives would be destroyed that way.

[No students seem interested in the Paris Climate Conference.]


Christmas, I tell the students, is a shopping festival that begins on the evening of American Thanksgiving and ends on December 25th..  It is about four weeks long.

Some students are puzzled why the first full day of the Christmas shopping festival is called Black Friday.  I tell them that Christmas shopping is an activity that is considered vulgar and ugly, over-commercialized as it were, and so the first day of it is not looked on with much joy.  [Other students have told me that they think the "Black" in Black Friday comes from the "black" of the accounting expression "being in the black."  They reason that black means making money and so Black Friday is the start of the retail making money season.]

Crass and commercial as China has become, it is blessed by the fact that the Chinese have only slightly gotten into secular Christmas.  And for that reason, I am glad to be in China in December and January, content to read Catholic liturgical books about Advent and Christmas.


I saw an Audi sports car parked on the sidewalk near the corner of Xueqian and Zhongshan Roads.  I took a photo and published it in my AKIC Wordpress Photo Blog.  Security guards who have to shoo away e-bikers who try to park on the sidewalk, seemed to be ignoring the Audi.


Once a fortnight, on a Friday, when it there is no cancellation, I go to #6 High School (in the area of Tai Hu Square) to make a speech or do a class (I'm not sure how to classify it.) for a forty five minute period (between Chariots of Fire bumper music which is pumped over the PA system to coordinate the end of class periods.).

The classroom I am in is a typical Chinese classroom.  It has many desks so that the aisles in between are narrow.  The teacher's desk, which of course faces those of the students desk, is on a slightly raised dais on one end of the room.  On either side of the classroom are windows so that when you walk in the corridor past the classroom, you can see a class in session.

The class I do is an elective.  So, I can imagine the numbers attending these classes dwindling as time goes on because they may not like me asking them questions or I have nothing to say that may interest them or be understood by them.

The students who have attended my "classes" are what I have come to expect from Chinese teenage students.  They are shy and trying to get them to talk is like pulling teeth.

And yet they are teenagers.  As I was finishing a class, a male student, on his way to his next class, went down the corridor next to my classroom, and muttered a walk-by f-bomb.  


[Live Blogging]  Plans for Christmas?  

I would like to say none but that is not completely true.  It seems I have resigned myself to not having much of a traditional Christmas.

Christmas Eve, I work till 9:00 PM so I will get home about 10:00.  Maybe I will have some presents to give Tony, though currently I have been desultory in buying anything for him and for Jenny.

Christmas Day, if I am up early enough I will phone my Mom and maybe even talk to my brother Ron who will probably be with her in Brandon, Manitoba, Canada.  I will see the latest Star Wars movie with Tony if it is playing at the local cinema.

That's it.  So the correct answer to the question is yes, but nothing spectacular.


Hard as it can be to find a parking space, what is more annoying is when you find a parking space and and then return to it to see that you can't get out of your parking space because of double-parkers.

This happened to me one morning when I parked near a school. Coming back, I saw that a whole line of cars had double parked along cars, including mine, that had parked next to the curb. I assumed and hoped that there was a short event happening at the school so that parents were double parked for a short time. (This double-parking happens at the 4:00 PM pickup of students by their parents at primary schools.) I tried to reassure myself that my wait wouldn't be long.

This didn't stop me from cursing to high heavens. The way cars were parked around mine, it seemed, as I inspected the situation, that with some maneuvering, I could get the car out of my spot. What there was was a car parallel-double-parked to the front and a little ahead of me. This car was preventing me from turning out of my spot. Behind me was a SUV that had angle-parked into a space behind me. (Because parking is hard to come by, many drivers park their cars at angles in spaces, where it is wide enough to do so, between parallel-parked cars.) The SUV was preventing me from backing up and then turning out of the spot I was parked. I thought that I could maybe angle myself out between the car and the SUV. But alas I kept banging my tires against the curb and I wasn't about to drive on it to get out. Not being able to get out, I swore aloud.

I had to wait for one of the two vehicle drivers to return.

It was the driver of the SUV, a middle-aged woman, who came first. I screamed at her and told her to get her damnable vehicle out of the way. She may have recognized some of my coarse words.


My eight year old son Tony likes bacon cheeseburgers.

I made this discovery when I took Tony to Burger King one Monday.  I had gotten him the usual fries, chicken nuggets and cola, but he saw a poster advertising the Texas Smokehouse Burger and asked me to buy it for him because it had bacon in it.  That burger was 38 rmb which is expensive for a burger in a fast food restaurant in China, so I told him I couldn't buy it (and if he didn't like it, I would have had to have to eaten it.)  But he was insistent.  So I had to get him something cheaper.  Going to the counter and looking at the menu, I saw that a burger could be custom-made.  So I ordered a Junior Whopper, and speaking in Chinese, I got them to hold the vegetables (没有 蔬菜!), and to add bacon and cheese.  

When I brought the burger to Tony, he asked what the white sauce in it was, which made me nervous.  I had thought that I had forgotten to ask them to hold the mayo.  [meiyou mayoI  Ha ha ha!]

But when the burger, which was freshly made, cooled down, he took a bite and expressed much satisfaction at the taste.

Will I come to regret this later because Tony weighs 300 pounds?  Have I introduced him to the sin of gluttony?


I am more reading than doing these days.

What have I been reading?  I have just completed a book on the history of China by John Keay.  It gave Mao a small slap on the hand for his leadership.  I am working through a fifteen volume series of books published over a 100 years ago about the Catholic Liturgy.


At a Tuesday (which is my Monday), I sat at my desk and noticed something was strange about the surface. There were little footprints on it. With further inspection, I saw little turds behind my computer and my file stackers. A mouse had been spending some time there.

Looking around the office, I saw many of the other desks were littered with the little poo bits as well.

Mice coming to my school is nothing unusual. I remember in the old school location, mice would sometimes come into the classrooms. One mouse was discovered dead in our office but only after it had decomposed enough to attract bugs and to cause some workers some itchy unpleasantness.

The mice come because there are scraps of food about making it a buffet for them. They come from nearby restaurants. Our office is in fact above a 7 + 7 restaurant. (7 + 7 is a popular chain of cafeteria style restaurants).

It makes one wonder why they come to our office for scraps when they have many restaurants in which to scavenge. Is there something wrong with the food there?


Police in Wuxi don't pull over drivers for speeding. At least I have never seen it.

What the authorities do do is have traffic cameras and sensors everywhere to catch speeding and other traffic violations. The fines can be paid for when you renew your vehicle's registration, or so I have heard.

Hearing this I thought that this was unfair if someone was accumulating lots of these traffic ticket violations and not knowing about it. I worried that I might have accumulated a whole slew of violations.

Mentioning this to a student, he told me that there was a mobile phone app I could get that would tell the driver of any violations and the fines that had been assessed to a vehicle being driven. I told Jenny about it, I downloaded the app and after getting her to enter the necessary information from our vehicle's registration to activate the app, we found that we had not had any violations. This was a big relief.


I will finish this blog with a recollection from last month.

I was in a double-left-turn lane making a turn with many other cars somewhere in downtown Wuxi. Midway through the turn, I narrowly missed hitting an old man who was pulling a long cart and was positioned between the two lanes of turning cars. Stuck in the momentum of traffic, I felt that I couldn't stop for him

He had a look of exasperation on his face. It seemed to me to be a look of bewilderment of a man from another age trying to make his way through one that had become inhuman.

Surely this man encountered traffic lights before. But at his age, the coming of them must seem to have been an overnight thing. I say this because I am sure I saw the man muttering oaths under his breath at the mechanical monsters getting in his way. Hopefully, his actions were of defiance.

The old man was Chinese. The cars were not.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

November 2015 Notes (Part 2)

In this blog entry, I will relate some driving anecdotes, comment on remarks made by John Derbyshire in his podcast about something or other, confess, list three reasons to use a car horn, give one reason why Sammy Davis Junior should have been singing in the opening sequence of Apocalypse Now, pass on some of the things students told me, tell you what Tony likes to watch before he goes to sleep, make remarks about a woman who had corresponded with me and David Warren, opine on what I think is a lacking in the local population, recount a strange occurrence at the office at school, disclose what I was watching on American Thanksgiving Day, and report on our overnight trip to Yixing and the bamboo forest.


Let's open this entry with a driving story shall we?  

A white Peugeot made a lane change in front of me without using turn signals.  I lustfully honked at it causing its driver to lamely put on turn signals as the car was halfway through the lane change.  As we got to the next set of lights, I had a chance to pull up beside the car and give the driver the evil eye.  Doing so, I saw that the driver was male and was wearing a police uniform. He looked at me rather sheepishly.  

Go figure.  Chinese policeman don't know how to drive either.


November 16th was Tony's first day of homeschooling


In a recent Radio Derb podcast, the Derb, John Derbyshire, mentioned some national stereotypes like the Germans being methodical, American men being scared of their wives, and the Chinese being gamblers.  

The way the Chinese drive, one would think that the gambler stereotype about them was true.  It is a gamble to make a turn without looking.  But then why are the Chinese so often shy and patently dull in English classes?

The reason Derb mentioned the stereotype of American men being scared of their wives is because he was commenting on the increasing mortality rates of American middle-aged white males.  The ganging up on this age and racial group by progressives is killing them:  that and the fact that they're wives probably criticize them all the time, makes them suicidal and depressed.

I have to admit that I am scared of my Jenny at times.

I am currently a middle aged white male and because I am Canadian, I could say I am American as well.  I could say that I have been part of this age group since I was 15.  From 15 to 25, I was depressed and lacking in direction, but I like to think I have managed to come out the other side of that period, and that I don't plan on adding to the increased mortality rate.


Three reasons to use your car horn:  1) You want people to know you're near them.  2) You want people to get out of your way.  3)You want to tell another driver what an idiot he is.


A student praised the driving in Singapore.  He told me that the drivers actually yielded to pedestrians.


Apocalypse Now is a flawed movie.  It starts out with that obnoxious drunk Jim Morrison singing "This is the end!" and ends with that fat lazy pig of a celebrity, Marlon Brando, playing Kurtz.  

How much better the movie would have been if Sammy Davis Jr.  could have sung the "This is the end!" song.  You should see how great a job Sammy did singing the theme song for the Disorderly Orderly.

I still working on what should have been done about the casting of Brando.


Tony & I like watching Homicide Hunter with Lt. Joe Kenda.  Tony asks me to play it on computer so we can watch it before we go to sleep at night.


A student tells me she wants to be a Victoria Secrets model.  

She could well become one.  She is pretty enough.  But I wish she told me she wanted to be a nun.


I was sitting at the McDonalds that is at the intersection of Xueqian and Zhonghsan roads, kitty corner from Ba Bai Ban.  On a building on another corner of the intersection – the one that contains Wang's Dumplings – is a huge video screen which broadcasts advertisements and public announcements to passersby.  While eating a breakfast sandwich and watching traffic go by, I happened to look at the screen and saw a cartoon about the legal system.

The cartoon shows a poor man and a rich man going to court.  The poor man is dressed modestly in a white shirt.  The rich man is shown getting out of a limousine.  He wears a suit and vest, is portly and is puffing a big cigar.  If he had a monocle and a top hat, he would have been the old caricature of a capitalist.  In the court, the poor man and the rich man are put on the symbolic scales of justice.  The poor man sits in his scale in a upright manner with a look of distress on his face.  The rich man lies down on his scale, with a confident smile on his face, still puffing his cigar.  The scales then re-balance against the the poor man.   Someone then walks by bearing a book.  It is book with a government crest on it and I presume it is some kind of legal code.  The person hands the book to the poor person who is on his scale, and the scales of justice between him and the rich man are back in balance.

That was the end of the cartoon.  I then saw an advertisement for an automobile mall and a mobile phone shop.


I let Jenny drive us to the parking area near Wanda Plaza.

 (If I had it my way, we would avoid parking there.   As I have said before,  I hate the place because of its tight space and the fact that the car has been scratched two times already when we have parked there.  But Jenny insists and is always determined to get a parking spot that is as close as possible to the Wanda Plaza.)  

I let her drive because I wanted to rely on her expertise at getting a parking spot that is close to Wanda plaza and wanted to avoid her carping at me, which is most surely to happen if I was looking for a parking spot while she was sitting beside me.  

She found a spot but we had to get out of the car because she was going to park it up against a bush.  Watching her, I had a scare because in maneuvering the vehicle she came to within an inch of hitting a yellow Austin Mini.  I had to give her very specific instructions to drive our vehicle clear of it  

It isn't a good idea to get mad at Jenny even if she has given me a near heart attack, so I said something along the lines of "I guess you got you have a near scare every once in a while to get the blood circulating."  

Jenny blamed her near collision on my presence but didn't persist in that reasoning when I put my hands very close together to show her how close she had gotten to the other car.


Tony & I went to the pool near Xi Shan High School on late Monday afternoon.  When we got to the pool, it was empty and we had the place till ourselves.  But then a bunch of kids who were had to be students at the nearby Xi Shan High jumped in the pool.  Some of the female students were pretty.  One was a very good swimmer who could do the free style (or the front crawl) with compact and efficient strokes.  She glided through the water.  Another girl who was a novice was trying the same thing but she was splashing water and looking very ungainly.  The boy students stood together in the water like they were part of a gang.  

If the boys left and the females stayed, I would have been happy.  

As it was, they all left after fifteen minutes and I was relieved to again have an empty pool to putt around in with Tony.  Tony had no one to play with so he spent much of his time holding or grabbing onto me as I stood in water which was deep for him.

I then saw two foreigners jump into the pool.  I didn't talk to them.  I assume they were teachers at the Xi Shan High School.  [Why don't you talk to foreigners?  I'm shy, I suppose.]


I went to teach a company class in an office building near the Coastal City Shopping Center.

To get to the Mall, I have to take a long walk through a series of tunnels from the Civic Centre station on Wuxi Metro Line #1. As I was doing this, I was left with the impression of having been in a giant white elephant.

How could the Chinese economy not collapse if that is how its resources are being allocated?


I was at school, sitting at my desk, minding my own business, preparing a report about my company class, when I saw a pigeon fly straight at one of the window panes of our office.  The pigeon was injured in the collision with the panes which are angled so they face downwards toward the sidewalk below our office.  The pigeon fell there and writhed in agony for about twenty seconds before it was snatched up by a male passerby who, I presume, took it home for his supper.  

The spot on the sidewalk where the pigeon landed was stained with blood.  

No sign of the collision could be found on the windows.


On American Thanksgiving Day, I was in the school office watching an old Paul Lynde Halloween Special.  I had heard about the show on two podcasts I had listened to and so got the urge to see it.  It then took a couple of weeks to download it via torrent.  

The special, which aired on ABC in 1976, featured Margaret Hamilton (the wicked witch in the Wizard of Oz), Donny and Marie Osmond, Pinky Tusqadero, Betty White, Florence Henderson, Tim Conway, and the rock band Kiss.  It is now an odd cultural artifact because it managed to straddle the golden age of Hollywood movies, rock and roll, and disco.

I got one of girls in the office, a tutor, to watch part of the show.  Kiki didn't know what to make of it.  The disco climax of the show particularly mystified her.  But when I told her it was made in 1976, she said that China at that time was going through the Cultural Revolution.  


In a previous blog entry, I had made mention of getting an email from a Mrs S.  She is a regular correspondent with my favorite blogger David Warren who first linked to her blog in an entry a few months and just (now) made mention of her in his last Saturday blog entry of this November.

Warren quoted Mrs. S: Take her (your young child) in your arms now; hold onto the moment with all your heart. For in this moment you have returned — paradoxically, to the forever. 

That expresses the feeling I get when I hug Tony in the mornings.  I realize he will be a teenager one day and so I have to hug him while I can.  I also seek a forever-ness when I hug him.

Warren also had this to say about Mrs. S:  I fear, sometimes, that she may be a Saint, for there is something about Saints that a sinner (such as I) finds rather terrifying.  A reminder of how far I am from Heaven perhaps.

The first email I got from Mrs S., I took two weeks to reply.  She had so much to say and I felt inadequate in trying to craft a response.  She responded to that email, with lots of great advice about my pursuing Catholicism, but I haven't responded in two months.  Warren makes me realize why.


I am sinner who only encounters reprobates in his day-to-day life. This makes me sometimes think that I am better than I really am.


[Live Blogging] We will be going to Yixing, the teapot city, on the last Sunday and Monday in November.  We had thought to hook up with this Chinese woman who had a British English teacher husband, but Jenny learned that they were thinking of getting a divorce, even though they have a three year old daughter.

What is the matter with people?


I have reached the conclusion that the locals lack a sense of where they are physically in relation to people around them.  I have seen them so often do things that I would be ashamed to do in Canada like stand at top or bottom of escalators and thus block others, cut in front of people already standing in line, and stop a car on the side of a busy road during rush hour.  

Two days in a row at a fast food restaurant, I got annoyed as the people in front of me wouldn't move out of the way so I could place my order with a clerk.  The second time, I had to shove the person aside.

It is said the locals are this way because the sheer number of people causes them to have this tunnel vision.


The Trip to Yixing:

  • We stayed on the 56th floor of the Yixing Kempenski.  That is the highest floor I have ever slept on.  However, the view from the hotel room window was disappointing on account of cloud and fog and smog.

  • The elevator ride to our room was quick because there was nothing in the building from the 5th floor to the 45th.   Tony complained of pain in his ears from the rapid ascent in the elevator.

  • The hotel was five star.  Our room had a toilet with sensors that automatically lifted the cover when someone entered the toilet room.  I couldn't set it to also lift the seat automatically.  The room was equipped with other doodads but that the toilet cover lifting fascinated all three of us in the Kaulins Family China the most.

  • Breakfast buffet was on the 60th floor.

  • Along with a discount room at the hotel, we got tickets to go to the Yixing Bamboo Forest.  I had been there over eleven years earlier on a trip with the school.  In the park, we took a bus to get to the start of a foot path that one could ascend or descend through the forest.  From where the bus dropped us off to where we caught a cable car down, we either ascended 500 meters in elevation or walked 500 meters of ground up a sometimes steep slope.  The three of us sweated and puffed our way up the mountain.  We didn't much enjoy it.  Tony whined and cried till we got to the end.  But it was worth it.  At the top, there was a pagoda, a cable car station and a magnificent view of hills and bamboo forest.  The ridges and the swaying trees made it look like a sea of bamboo.  The cable car ride back down was the highlight of our Yixing trip.  It was twenty minutes of being suspended above bamboo and the cable path was very steep in parts.

  • We drove to Yixing in our Citroen.  I had three reasons to complain.  1) On a strip of road with a speed limit of 80 km/h, a vehicle slowed to a stop in front of me.  I was stuck behind him wondering what he was doing.  He made a left turn.  Idiot didn't make a turn signal.  2) A car in front of me slowed down and was straddling two lanes.  I was able to pass it and saw that the driver was on the phone.  3)  In my mirror I saw that this brown VW min van was behind me but doing the same speed as me and just a little off in a distance do that I didn't detect any impatience.  But as I followed Jenny's instructions to get into a left turn lane (we navigated via the GPS on Jenny's phone), the VW suddenly came up on our right and tried to cut in front of us to get into the turn lane.  I couldn't let him in.  Why didn't he just keep following me?  He looked stupid while waiting for the left turn signal because he was stopped at an angle and taking up two lanes.  I assume that the driver had accelerated ahead of us because he had suddenly realized that he needed to make a left turn. Why didn't he slow down?