Thursday, June 2, 2016

May 2016 Notes

My history teaching gig has curtailed my blogging, or I should say, has reduced the note-taking I have been doing for what has lately been my monthly blog entry.


May 1, on WeChat, I posted the following:

Screw "Labour Day".

Celebrate the feast of St Walpurga instead.

This May Day holiday is a left wing holiday and thus not worth celebrating. Nice as it can be to have a holiday.

The Walpurga line I got from my favorite ranting blogger Mundabor. M is a Catholic and nothing is better than to adopt one of his rants when I am in a bad mood. The Catholicity of it takes the curse off something I said when I am in a mood to make ill considered statements.


On May 1, we, that is the K family went to a tent camping festival in the countryside of Jiangying. Friends of Jenny invited us. I agreed to go despite a 95 percent certainty that it was going to be lame like most of our school outings.

And it was. Five minutes after arrivingI wanted to leave. As it was, I had eight hours of being the lone foreigner with 400 Chinese who've brought tents to a flat field in the middle of dull area. Jenny had initially raised my hopes by suggesting the camping site might be near a hill.

It would have struck the average camping Canadian as a very pale imitation of real camping.

Tony, who doesn't know how to hold back his thoughts, starting telling us that he was bored after two hours. Of course, he would rather have been playing iPad so I don't think real camping would have seen him less bored.


I am afraid I am not a good guest to a typical Chinese event. I have the lost the ability to endure them stoically. I become very peevish and very impolite. My bad manners are indefensible of course which is why I hate these affairs even more.

Ungrateful bastard that I am, I will tell you what I hate about Chinese affairs:

  • There has to be constant entertainment. That is from start to end, there is a program of entertainment that is amateur and boring. I hate always having to endure singing children, belly dancers and wannabe hip hop dancers. I'd rather have time to read or mingle.

  • The food is lame.

  • People shove food towards you when your hands are full or you aren't particularly hungry. (how to stop them from doing this? I have to fight the instinct to tell them that this generosity is really an imposition.

  • No dancing.


What was good about the trip to Jiangying was being able to visit our guest's apartment which is on the 16th floor and affords one great views of boat traffic and shipyards on the Changjiang, aka Yangtze River. However, I couldn't help but be disconcerted by the apartment's setting. The apartment complex is half a kilometer or so from the river's edge. So, in-between the apartment and the shipyard is a huge empty lot as well as a lot being used for farming. The two lots look desolate and forlorn because they are strewn with rubble, garbage and crumbling buildings. The desolation and forlornness is made all the more profound by how it contrasts with the apartment complex itself which has green areas that look lush and well tended.


The Brandon Wheat Kings will play Seattle in the WHL final this year. The matchup is interesting to me for a couple of reasons. First, Brandon and Seattle were the ends of my world before I came to China. It was a process of decisions I made early in my life that took me from Brandon to Seattle. From Brandon to Seattle I lived my adult Canadian adventures: adventures strewn with loneliness and an uncertainty of who I was and of what I was capable. Second, the contrast between Brandon and Seattle is quite profound to my mind. Brandon is a sleepy prairie town with incredibly cold winters and lots of mosquitoes; Seattle is a teeming metropolis is the dank western portions of the North American continent. Seattle is Starbuck's coffee, Brandon is Simplot and Mackenzie's seeds.

I attended quite a few Wheat King games when I lived on Queens Avenue in Brandon. The Keystone Center was a ten minute walk from our home. At the time of my attending, the Wheat Kings has the likes of Ray Ferraro, Ron Hextall and Kelly Glowa playing for them.

Of course, the one person I am in passing contact with from Seattle doesn't know about the final.


In early May, Trump became the nominee for the Republican Party. While I was cheering for Cruz to defeat him and I did share a lot of the NeverTrumpers contempt for Trump, I wondered if this contempt for Trump could survive once he was matched up against Bill's wife. Reading the arguments put forth by John Derbyshire and Pat Buchanan for Trump, I could find myself being able rationalize cheering for him against that woman. Particularly on American foreign policy which I have found a tricky subject to have any opinions on, I think there could be something said for Americans just letting the world stew in its stupidity. But there is so much about Trump the man to dislike as my favorite blogger David Warren, who is very anti-Trump, has said. And then there was Trump saying Ted Cruz's father was somehow in cahoots with Lee Harvey Oswald and wondering if Cruz Senior was somehow involved in the Kennedy Assassination. Has anything as nutty ever been said by any other major party nominee for the US presidency? Even Obama was never this nutty.


I first heard from Jenny that there was a huge fire in Fort McMurray, Alberta. Learning the fire was of the forest fire variety, I thought about how I had told students about the large forest fires that take place in Canada that normally don't make news unless they get near a populated area, or as I read in David Warren's blog, urban service centers. I thought it strange that a forest fire would be taking place in May in Northern Alberta. I would have thought things were too moist in Canada at this time of the year for massive forest fires. But my ponderings on this score were answered in David Warren's blog entry on the fire. Fort McMurray, said Warren, is in one of the concavities of Alberta, and thus a natural hot spot. From Rex Murphy, I learned that the political left in Canada is get a strange satisfaction from the fire because Fort Mac is in Tar Sands country.


When it comes to this history teaching gig that I am in the midst of, I am learning as I go along. Thankfully the history reading I had done for my personal interest, before the thought had ever entered my head of teaching history, has served me well and I just have some blank spaces to fill in for my historical knowledge.

History is a forever interesting topic. I could think of anything that would be better to teach and so it amazes me that many students don't find it very interesting.

I suspect many Chinese students don't find it interesting because they have to memorise dates and what not.


I was with Tony in McDonalds one Saturday evening. I ordered a cheeseburger for myself and chicken nuggets for him. I started eating my cheeseburger but Tony finished it for me. He has been rather strange about cheeseburgers. I thought he liked them about six months ago but then he swore off them until this Saturday evening where he suddenly ate half of mine.


I watched the first two seasons of a series entitled The Fall. In it, Jillian Anderson plays a detective pursuing a serial murderer. The murderer is found out and apprehended and so the series is instead trying to focus on the psychology of the Anderson character and her relationship with the serial killer. I can't get into possibly because I am a male with no understanding of the female psyche, but more precisely because the Anderson character is as feminist third wave and anti-Catholic as a character can be: a self-important slut.


As it turned out, Brandon beat Seattle four games to one in the WHL final. The Wheat Kings won the first three games of the series in overtime with every one of those games ending with a 3-2 score.

I posted the result of this on WeChat. The one Chinese hockey fan I know of appreciated it.


Tony doesn't like his swimming classes anymore. The last two times when he was told it is time to go to the class, he sobbed and I had a difficult time convincing him to go. The first time, he did the class. The second time, he put on his swimming costume, went in the pool and then after five minutes told me that he wanted to go home. I got him to stay for thirty minutes but he didn't join his class. His instructors even asked him but he refused to join. I don't think he likes his classmates. But I can't get more out of him than that.


May 23, a Sunday, the Kaulins Family China went to the Ling Shan Buddha, aka Wuxi's Big Buddha. For Andis, it was a bit of a chore to battle the feeling of being a jaded fuck about it. After all, the Big Buddha is something newbies go to see, not veterans like myself. But it was the first time I drove there. Going out there, we took the toll road, 120 kmh speed limit and I found myself enjoying the drive. Traffic was light.

(There was an idiot in a van doing 50 kmh on the toll road who gave me a fright because I came upon a little too all-of-a-suddenly. Imagine you doing 70 kmh on a road and you all of a sudden come upon a man standing on the road. That was the affect the driver had on me.)

I saw a few foreigners at the Big Buddha.

To the Big Buddha site we had to go through a massive shopping area that was IKEA like in that you had to follow a winding path through all sorts of merchandise. I couldn't recall having passed through such a trail on my previous visits to the place

We then went to another tourist style village in Ma Shan. It looked for all the world like the ancient village that was recently constructed near Xi Hui Park and the Nanchang Bar Street.

It was nice to drive along Tai Lake.


May 28th was the fourth anniversary of my father's death.

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