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?

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