Wednesday, August 31, 2016

August 2016 Notes

 I wrote something earlier about Tony's bad time at the pool and my subsequent temper tantrum.

I can't find it on my school computer. Perhaps, I left it on my Mac book.

[Later] I didn't. How did I manage to lose it?

Anyway. What happened was this: Tony & I went to the swimming pool near Xishan High School on a Monday afternoon in early August. For the summer, the pool place had opened its outdoor pool and filled it with these large plastic floating slides and other sorts of playground like props on which Tony liked to play. So after his class which was in the indoor pool, Tony & I went to the outdoor pool. I watched Tony as he played on an floating saddle with a group of boys and it gradually became apparent to me that the boys didn't want Tony playing with them. On a couple of instances the boys made a point of pushing Tony off the top of the floating saddle. Finally, a pair of the boys pushed Tony away from the saddle. Tony cried as they did this and I had to intervene.

I very much would have like to have grabbed the heads of the two boys and knocked them together so they had concussions, but I decided that it wasn't a good idea and instead splashed them. To let off my anger that I still had, I swore at a man who I presume was a lifeguard and had a weaselly China man smirk on his face. I pointed at him as I yelled the f-words at him a bunch of times.

The incident put me in a dark mood and filled me with foreboding for a long time afterwards. Tony is always getting picked on, apparently, whether by other boys or girls or adults or teachers. The incident brought back bad memories from my school days and made me wonder if I wanted to stay in China.

As I consoled Tony afterwards, he said he hated China.


Tony has developed an interest in flags. Because of this interest of his[I thought to call it a fetish but thought better of it], I downloaded the opening ceremonies of the Rio Olympics so we could watch the parade of nations and their flags.

Like 2008, it became tedious after awhile. Now, I don't want to say that there are too many countries in the world because that would mean being on the side of people who are dumb enough to think that the EU is a good idea, so my solution to the tedium of the parade of nations would be that each country only have one athlete, the flag holder in the parade. I don't need to see all the goofing off and waving from the other members of the country's Olympic team.

One big observation: the North Koreans and mainland Chinese teams were full of dead stiffs.


I don't much like the Suning Plaza parking garage. In early August we went there and its parking garage was stifling hot, I suppose, because of the need to air-condition the mall's nine floors of open space. I also don't like the SP's parking garage because it doesn't have stairs that one can take to avoid the tedious wait that taking the lifts up to and from the upper mall floors involves. Often the elevators are so full of people that one has to watch the elevators make several trips up and down before one can get on one: unless, one takes the elevator even if it is going in the opposite direction from one desires. This tactic seems necessary in order to secure an early place on an elevator.

Jenny also doesn't like the SP parking garage as well and has thought that it may be better to park at the Hen Long Parking Garage. [Hen Long is another larger shopping mall located a block or so south from SP on Renmin Road.]

The first time we parked at Hen Long, I was brain dead. I first drove past the ticker dispenser when entering the garage. My excuse for this gaffe is that the parking garage at the Wanda takes a photo of your license plate upon entering and out of habit I assumed the same would happen at HL. And then when exiting, I expected to have to present the ticket I had to a human in a booth. It wasn't till a minute after we went to the exit gate and saw that there was no attendant that it dawned on me that we had to pay at a kiosk before getting into our car and exiting.


Expats are so tedious. I say this fully admitting that I am the king of tedium.

So I am going to have to revert to my Wuxi Expatdom Blogging days and just make stuff up about a universe where Wuxi expats are actually interesting. Now instead of doing this in the Expatdom blog, I will just do it in this entry. I will mix these bits of fiction with my real life notes.

It will be up to you from this point in the entry to the end to determine if what I am writing is a product of my fancy or did in fact happen.


I met a Catholic reactionary who happens to live in Wuxi. He puts me to shame with his sanctity and piety.


Teaching a class about adventure to a student going into high school, I asked her who had more adventures: adults or children. She said adults. I said children. I told her she probably thought this because Chinese children aren't allowed to have adventures. They are stuck at home all the time doing homework.


The only adventures that Tony likes to have are in computer games. I can't get him to accompany me on drives to the countryside.


Crossing the street, I was able to get two BMW drivers to stop and not cut me off as they were making turns.


Doing some one-on-one classes with a girl who is about to go to high school in Langley, I decided to talk to her for a half hour or so about the social ills that befall the lower mainland of British Columbia. I told her of car theft, property crime, drug use about students, welfare moms to name but a few. It was enough to make me wonder if having Tony go to school in Canada is such a wonderful idea.


A funny ugly English mistake:

A student describing her charitable activities said that she gave her useless clothing to the poor.


A company class I had been going to had done something to their parking lot. Asking about it, I learned that because the company workers had too many cars, the parking lot lines were repainted so that what once had six parking spots could now have seven.


Jenny may be pregnant.

It is a scary and yet wonderful prospect I think. Tony very much needs a sibling. But for me it will mean that I could never retire, never fade into the sunset as it were. I will have to be hustling till my final breath. I am too old to be having another child and the child could well be diminished in ability because of my age That is, he or she may not be smarter than a bag of hammers. And yet, the child will be something for me to love till the end of my days, and Tony will have something to worry about besides playing the iPad. Maybe it will make him more responsible. I pray.

[you will have to scour this blog entry for the answer, in code form, to the question of whether she is or she isn't.]


I was able to take the family vehicle for a drive in the area near our apartment. I discovered the road in Jiangying that Hui Shan Da Dao runs to has these side roads that are pleasant for cruising. The roads are tree lined and empty of traffic and run past agricultural fields and numerous ponds.


I very much want to despise Trump but the left wing media's coverage of him has been over the top hysterical and untruthful. The guy can't even make a joke without that media lying about it. It is like they are in the bag for that wife of that pervert and are going over the top on Trump in hopes of not having to deal with the fact that their gal is a crook.


I was taken back to see a woman fast asleep on an Ikea display bed that was in the lobby of the Livat (Hui Ju) mall. I very much wanted to take a picture but ultimately shied away from doing so.


On Monday, August 15, Tony and I went to the IKEA. Usually, we don't go through the display area of the store. It has been our habit to just go to the register area where the IKEA food shop can be found. But on that day we went and we were disconcerted to see just how many locals actually go to the store to take afternoon naps on the display beds. One old man was right out of it and was under a sheet. I don't know if he was using the display sheet or had brought a sheet with him.


On that Monday, I drove to the IKEA by a different route. It was sort of back way. I took it instead of going on the elevated road that gets us to the IKEA normally. I found myself driving through large areas that I had never been in before. Wuxi is just much bigger than I could imagine.


Tony can now eat a double – not a single – Texas Stacker burger, with bacon, cheese and meat sauce, at Burger King. It has become our habit to first feed him at Burger King and then to feed me at the Subway.

I like to call Burger King, King Burger because Tony will instantly correct me.


The Clinton foundation, the so-called charity, is really, as John Derbyshire has said, the personal ATM for the pervert and his wife.

If they were truly engaged in public service, they would not be millionaires.


My 7 all-time favorite movies:

Lawrence of Arabia

Wizard of Oz

Kiss Me Kate

The Long Voyage Home

The Producers

She Wore a Yellow Ribbon

Top Hat

#8 is Patton.


10 Canadians I like:

Preston Manning

Stephen Leacock

David Warren

Stephen Harper

Bobby Orr

John Candy

Mordecai Richler

Marc Steyn

Conrad Black

Kathy Shaidle


My 10 favorite hockey players

Bobby Orr

Guy Lafleur

Ken Dryden

Yvon Cournyer

Peter Mahovlich

Denis Savard

Mario Lemieux

Bobby Hull

Tony Esposito

Gary Cheevers


Ane My 10 favorite baseball players


Gary Carter

Carlton Fisk

Johnny Bench

Joe Morgan

Andre Dawson

John Olerud

Joe Carter

Bill Lee


August Zhejiang trip notes

I had a nine day vacation - 4 days off and 5 leave days - around the middle of August. The Kaulins family spent three days in the Wux, then 3 days in Zhejiang province and then 3 days back in Wuxi having a mini vacation on account the the mini vacation we had just had.

We drove to Hangzhou which wasn't what I wanted to do. I wanted to take the train. I didn't fancy the prospect of a three hour drive amongst Chinese drivers.

As it was, The drive was tiring and didn't offer any great views till we came upon a high speed rail track running parallel to the toll highway on which we were driving. As we got close to Hangzhou, we drove on a stretch of road where on our left, there was a lake and then a city in the distance while on the right, there was an elevated high speed rail track on which there was a train.

Hangzhou, I learned in an internet article I happened to come across after we had booked and paid for our hotel, was to be gearing up for a G20 meeting to be held in August. The article advised to not go to Hangzhou.

Hangzhou definitely was gearing up for the G20 meeting. As we entered the city, we were stopped at a road checkpoint and had to present our IDs. In the city, one would have been hard-pressed to not see signs, that were everywhere, mentioning the fact that the G20 meeting was taking place in Hangzhou. In the subway stations, soldiers wearing olive green combat uniforms and toting shiny black rifles scared the heck out of Tony. By The Xi Lake tourist area, roads were closed off, only G20 vehicles being able to go about in an area where many G20 tents were erected.

G20 meetings, are not about motor oil but supposedly about economics and finance. The over top expense on this meeting on the part of the hosts would seem to violate principles of sound economics and finance. The people who should know what they are doing don't seem to really.

We inadvertently entered Hangzhou twice within half an hour. After we had entered the first time and gone through the check point, we were off to our hotel. To navigate to it, we used the GPS on Jenny's phone. The GPS gave us ambiguous instructions and so we chose a wrong turnoff from which there was no turning round. We found ourselves at a toll gate entering a freeway we didn't want to enter. When we told the attendants of our plight, we learned that there was nothing we could do but exit at the next toll gate. This was to cost us five RMB and thirty minutes. The exit was a clutter fest of trucks and cars queuing in a Chinese manner. We found ourselves surrounded by large lorries that were jostling for position in either one or two exit lines -- we weren't sure. At one point a driver of a truck behind us was pounding on our window and gesticulating in a manner that I think meant he wanted us to get out of his way or go to another line. Whatever. We survived. We got to the toll gate, paid the toll and then had to go through a security checkpoint to again have our IDs examined.

Be that as it may, our sojourn in Hangzhou was okay. We saw the lake, took Tony to a playground, added to our fridge magnet collection for the places we have been in the world, rode the Hangzhou Metro: the seventh Metro system that Jenny and I have ridden in China (others have been Shanghai, Beijing, Nanjing, Hong Kong, Wuxi and Suzhou) and we rode a boat on the Grand Canal.

My assessment of Hangzhou? Too touristy, but it would be a nice place to live. If you do visit, go in the spring or autumn. It is far too humid in August.

Also, don't drive in Hangzhou. The traffic is heavy.

From Hangzhou we drove to Anji, a small town also in Zhejiang province. We booked a hotel there so we could go on a white water rafting experience. The drive out of Hangzhou was harrowing. As I was saying traffic was heavy and I wasn't aware that in some places the road was narrowing which made for some near collisions. But out of the city, the driving became enjoyable as traffic lightened and the hills made for nice scenic views. On some stretches of road, the views were quite spectacular as the mountains thrust high in the sky and we had to go through some rather long tunnels to get to our destination.

I first found Anji disagreeable. Its drivers and cyclists made some swear-inducing maneuvers in traffic. The hotel in which we were booked seemed to have been hastily built without the construction process having completed its cleaning up phase. The hotel was incongruous with the plot of land in which it had been built. The new road around the hotel was in the midst of tall, uncut weeds. The underground parking garage was mostly without lighting possibly because they wanted to hide the dirt, dust and trash that was still there. And when we went to the lobby, there was a Chinese family with loud kids running everywhere. Our hotel room wasn't as nice, to say the least, as the one we had in Hangzhou. The view from our window was of construction. The area was following the typical plan of Chinese city expansion: wide boulevards midst tall apartment buildings. Not a wonderful sight at the best of times, but what I was looking at outside the windows wasn't completed yet. As I went to the parking garage to bring up some bags, l was on an elevator with a father who thought it was okay to bring on a lit cigarette. As I grumbled, his daughter appeared to admonish him. Settled in our room, we decided to go to downtown Anji for lunch. It was an annoying experience because we had a hard time finding the restaurant we wanted to go to, a hard time finding a place to park, we were sweating a lot on account of the humidity and the restaurant was closed anyway since it was a little past 13:00. That's the way it is the countryside said Jenny. We ended up having KFC for lunch.

From the KFC, we drove to the white water rafting activity site. The roads were narrower and we saw some nice hilly scenery. We got to our destination by finally taking a narrow road through a valley that was advertising itself as a canyon. The site's parking lot was packed and so we were told to park snug against a decorative rock, that was at the entrance, that was the site's sign.

There were a lot of people, all Chinese, waiting to get into rafts. They were wearing helmets and life jackets. I walked to a railing overlooking the top of the water course and was disconcerted to see fifty rafts all bunched together at the route's launch point. Many of the rafters were having water fights. I was wishing we hadn't gone.

Dressing ourselves for the raft ride further put me in a foul mood. We were not prepared. We all should have brought a change of clothes and plastic bags to keep our things like electronic devices and documents dry. I was not comfortable wearing my waist bag because it wasn't water proof. But we were able to buy cases to put in our phones and which I also used to keep my passport and drivers license dry.

Once we were afloat on the raft, things got better. I was glad Jenny was of a like mind and we stayed away from the gaggle of rafts at the launching point. When they let the rafts down the course, Tony very much enjoyed himself. I was still a little worried when my waist bag got soaked as our raft hit the first surge of white water, but Tony's joy made me feel sheepish.

Driving home, I was shirtless because my t-shirt was soaked. Back at the hotel room, I saw that none of my things was damaged by water.

That evening, we took a taxi to a hot pot restaurant. I drank not one, but two beers.

Then was back to our hotel room and then back to Wuxi. The drive back took us through some newly made roads and then along freeway that had nice scenery, tunnels and bridges. We experienced some temporarily heavy squalls of rain that cleaned of the dust that had accumulated on our car during the 500 KM of driving we had done.


I hate going to a restaurant between 12:00 and 13:00 and between 17:00 and 18:00. Too crowded. On work days, my habit is to have lunch and dinner at other times, even in the mid-afternoon.


Other than the opening ceremony which I watched because of Tony's flag fetish, I haven't watched any of the Olympics

I have been reading reactions to them though. I was pleased to hear about a few of the medal-winning athletes who were practicing Catholics. One of them was Bolt and another was a black American gymnast or swimmer. The girl had the good fortune to be raised by Catholics. The best reactions to the Olympics, for me, were written by Theodore Dalrymple and Peter Hitchens. Dalrymple praised India for its utter lack of success at the Olympics. It showed that India had its priorities proper about something, said Dr D, who went on to observe that countries that do win lots of Olympic medals often do so as a result of totalitarian government impulses like the Soviet Union, East Germany, Canada, and Great Britain. It was GB's success at these Olympics that resulted in a nice rant by Hitchens that backed up Dr D's point. Hitchens said GB's success came from subsidizing athletes in the newer and marginal Olympic sports that no one much cares about like synchronized swimming and the 123 m slow walk.

To live in a country that didn't win any medals when it hosted the Olympics. That is surely Canada's finest moment. Unfortunately it probably resulted in the Johnson fiasco of '88.


Tony watched the film Patton. He told me he very liked it.


I phoned my Mom. Life goes on in Canada. Sad news I heard about a cousin's husband whose garage had been burnt. The house is condemned and it will cost 70,000 bucks to fix it.


Tony is fat. Mind you, he is not obese and I doubt if anyone would call him "Fat Tony" if they ever talked about him in the third person, but a little fat he is which makes him obese for a Kaulins boy. When I was growing up, I was constantly told I was skinny, skinny, skinny.

Tony has to eat more vegetables and fruit, and less meat but it is hard to overcome his resistance to any food that does not suit his picky tastes.


Tony's Birthday Celebration.

If you care to know, Tony was born on August 23, 2007.

The celebrations for his birthday were low key. We bought him a few presents but nothing spectacular. (If you have to live with the pile of toys that he has now, you wouldn't be so enthusiastic to add to it.)

We invited a few buddies of his for a pizza party at Mr. Pizza for lunch, then took them to an arcade and then to a park to play.

There was no birthday cake and we never did have that paintball party we had envisaged.

I found that being around five noisy nine-year boys got on my nerves.

Because I had to work on the 23rd, the festivities I mentioned took place on the 22nd.

Some of the presents that we did get Tony we ordered online or as the locals would say, on Taobao. The toys arrived the next day and were dropped off at the parcel drop off point which is in the lobby of a building near where we live. Between the time they were delivered and Jenny & Tony went to pick them up, they were stolen – there was security cameras that recorded this. Jenny was refunded money by the delivery company and will have to order the presents again. Tony was upset but will eventually got over it once he got the presents which were a bunch of military toys: soldiers, tanks and guns.


With my vacation ending with a week to go in August, I was full of foreboding as September approached. I very much dread Tony's going back to school because of the bullying I suspect he will be subjected to from teachers and classmates, and the tiger-mother frustration that Jenny will experience and how she will deal with it.


I hear that Double Saint Archduke Sir Harry Moore Emeritus will be canonized again this September. At the ceremony in the Vatican, Mother Teresa is going to be canonized as well.

Congratulations Harry!

It makes me think of a scene in the great movie Patton where the General is putting on his three stars despite it not having had official confirmation of it by a vote of the US senate. When Bradley offered his premature congratulations, Patton said that they has their schedule and that he had his.

How I love to re-create that scene in Melbourne will good old Harry. There I would be offering my premature congratulations while he, putting on his triple halo, talks of God having his schedule and he (that be triple saint Harry) having his.


A student has a friend who works for the electric utility company. This friend gets to look at the numbers and she reported to the student that electric usage by industrial companies was seventy percent of what it was in the previous year: an indicator that the Chinese economy is going down.


Many Canadians – far too many, I'd say – like to think they are superior to the Americans because of government programs like gun control and medicare. I'd say that if Canadians were truly morally superior, they would be so as individuals, not as sheep. We wouldn't need these government programs because morally superior individuals would be able to control their urges despite having the means to not to and morally superior individuals would be able to take of themselves and of those they encounter in their day to day lives who cannot. They wouldn't be shirkers which is what the nanny state government allows them to be. They wouldn't be moral preeners because the responsibility if placed on themselves as individuals would make them more humble.


I can't say that I was born in the wrong time in history or that I am stuck with the wrong sort of people. Choices that I made in my life, my meekness and my being content with being like a reed subject to the wind are the reason for what is lacking in my life.

And what is lacking in my life? Friendship.

Of course, it could be the price I pay for the solitude which I do enjoy.

To be ungrateful would be worse than being lonely.


Here comes a bad joke. If Tony was in Canada and he had an interest in flags, would he be chided because it is considered gauche to salute flags, and anyway, in Canada, they now salute f......


On August 25th, Jenny got a phonecall from the people who had taken the package containing Tony's birthday presents. They told her that they had taken it by mistake. Jenny gave them an earful.


On August 25th, I understood that Jenny was to see a doctor about whether she is you-know-what. I find myself hoping she is even if it means a whole load of inconvenience coming down the pike for the rest of my life.


I was approached by locals on the subway two trips in a row.

On the first trip, which was in the evening after work, a youngish man was trying to sell me insurance. I told him I already had some. He wanted my phone number but I gave him my Wechat ID instead.

The next day, as I was going to work, a middle aged man, possibly mad, I couldn't say for sure, sat beside me. He asked if I needed help to which I at first felt annoyed, as I said I didn't, but as he began to talk some more, it seemed to me that he wanted to practice his English on me. Finding out where I was from, he loudly proclaimed to me, "Welcome to China!"

Twelve years in China I have been and they are still welcoming me.


Tony got his toys. They were Lego knock-off types that required assembly – lots of assembly in fact. When I arrived home one evening, Tony got me to build his battle tank toy. I spent a couple hours putting the thing together and still wasn't close to finishing it when it was bedtime. For my troubles, I had a sore back, walking about hunched till circulation was restored to my full body, and I got a creeping suspicion that I am going to have to get more powerful glasses. Reading the assembly manual and searching for the little pieces very much strained my eyes.


Jenny isn't pregnant. The information left me feeling hollow. I looked at Tony and felt that in the long run, it would be bad for him.


After that, everything was almost an anticlimax for the rest of August.

I use the term anticlimax because stuff did happen that would have been anticlimactic otherwise.

There was my last weekend before Tony's return to school. I actually was able to do some driving around the area seeing parts I hadn't seen before.

The first evening of the weekend, I parked the car at the Hen Long Parking garage. It's our parkade of choice downtown because it's clean and cheap. The only thing is that it's entrance tunnel is tight like a piece corkscrew pasta.

The next two days found us paying visits to the local home decorating mall. We went there to find a new light fixture to put above the bathroom mirror. While we were there, we decided that we would also get a new bathroom mirror that had a shelf and for which the mirror opened like a door.

We had to go to the place a second time because the bracket we had for the new light fixture we bought didn't match up, hole wise, with the holes that we already had on the wall.

While doing this, we were able to drive around the area, explore as it were. We found the location of Tony's primary school's new campus. Sadly, it is located in an area that has just been opened up for development. So, the area is rather a pile of rubble. There are the remnants of old houses in factories that have not been completely torn down yet. And there is still rubble from the work that has just been done. We also came upon a truck that had flipped on its side. It must have tried to make too quick a turn with a very unbalanced load in the back.

[The reason that there will be a new campus at Xishan Primary School is that they have 8,000 students! The old campus will be used for grades four to six. The new campus will be for the grades one to the three.]

Tony & I ended the weekend by going back to the pool. We hadn't been there for a while, having lost our enthusiasm for it because of the incident that I mentioned way back at the start of the entry. We didn't want to go back but we were ordered to by Jenny. We have a lot of money, unrefundable, on our swimming passes, she told us, much to our consternation.

So we went. I wanted to arrive late and leave early. While Tony had his class, I stood in one corner of the pool and watched the clock. I tried to think pleasant thoughts while doing this, but I couldn't. I hated that I had to be at the pool. It was shallow and crowded, and I was bored. Being bored, I start to think resentful thoughts about Mainland China. I told Tony that I wanted the pool as quickly as possible and just get back home. Tony however wanted to go play after his class. I told him that I was going to get dressed and then come to get him. I first went to shower.

While I was doing so, some kid really got on my nerves. He walked past the shower, yelled waiguoren at me. I am used to that, but his sneering insolence while he did so got under my skin. I then happened to see that the coach, Tony's swimming coach, give the boy heck. I decided to go watch Tony instead of getting dressed because I didn't want to encounter the kid in the locker area. But after watching Tony for a minute, I changed my mind. I went to my locker. Much to my annoyance, I got a locker right in the midst of a bunch of kids. So I took all my stuff out of the locker and went to an empty area of the locker room. But that damn kid was there. He sneered at me again and I lost my temper. Remembering what Jenny said about the locals using the f-word, I spoke it liberally to the kid. He called me monkey. I would have struck him but I chose instead to squeeze my wet shorts over his head. I got dressed, went to pool, and told Tony it was time to leave. As Tony was getting dressed, I saw the obnoxious kid again. He sneered, I swore and chased him away. The pool orderly, an older man, thought to get between me and the boy. The boy fled and I turned to Tony who told me that he wasn't impressed with my outburst. Why are you being so bad Daddy? Tony said as he looked behind me to see the Lookie Lou's that were congregating.

Two trips to that pool in August; two times I left in a huff after a temper tantrum. I wish they would ban me.

Damn, I hate losing my temper. I hate more that I know better and that as soon as I tell myself to not do it, I do it anyway.


I hate spending more than twenty minutes putting together a Lego type toy. After the building the tank, I spent another evening putting together a toy rocket launcher.


As much as I get angry at the locals, I don't find western expats to be much solace. On a Wuxi Expat we chat group, the day of my second episode of cussing at the pool, the discussion was about it being Penis Day.

Perhaps the kid is right. Foreigners are monkeys.


Student told me what the government was doing to make Hangzhou look good for the G20. It was encouraging residents to leave Hangzhou during the G20 conference by offering discounted prices for parks in areas outside of Hangzhou. To lessen traffic in the highways around the city, they instituted an alternating odd-even-license-plate-this-day-only policy on highways. Having chosen to go on a trip to Zhejiang province on the wrong day, she had to pay a fine because a camera caught her car.


Nothing frustrates a foreigner like me more when trying to learn Chinese than a gaped mouth bellow of incomprehension of someone you are trying to practice your Chinese upon. Sometimes, another Chinese person can translate what you have said for the one who made the cow like guffaw. Still, a few of these incidents are enough to make an aspiring Chinese speaker give up. Some foreign speakers have assumed that the inability of Chinese to understand them is the result of a prejudice of the Chinese person that foreigners can't speak Chinese or an appalling lack of imagination on the part of the Chinese person.

Imagination is not a typical Chinese person's forte.

Well, a student tells me that the Chinese have this problem when they speak to each other as well. The reason is that a unit of Chinese sound (equivalent to one character) used to make words will have many different meanings even if it has the same tone. So, the unit of sound can throw off even the most fluent of listener who is wondering what word the speaker is meaning.


It turns out that that boy that I was swearing at was mentally-challenged. Way to go me! You are a bully! You are going to have to ask the kid's parents for forgiveness. It may well be that the kid won't understand an apology.


You can't drive in a Wuxi summer without a/c. It is hot, deadly hot in the car without it.

Jenny told me of a 10 year old boy that died in car because he had been left there for five hours by his father. What happened, apparently, was the boy fell asleep in the car, unbeknownst to his his father who parked the car in the sun. When it became apparent that the boy was missing, they looked for him and found him dead in the car. A horrible story and you can help but feel for the father who will have to live with the mistake for the rest of his life.


On the morning of the last day of August, Jenny, Tony & I went to the new campus to find where Tony's classroom was. If I could use only word to describe the campus it would be: totalitarian. The school buildings were three or four floors high and organized in a confusing maze of annexes and hallways. The main administration building was full of offices and conference rooms: a bureaucrat's dream come true, but a joke to anyone who has spent time in any Chinese office building. I couldn't help but giggle at the signs for some of the offices like TV and Radio office, conference room #4, moral development department, to name a few.

The place was jammed with parents, students and cars. A mob formed in one part of the campus apparently because the parents where not happy with some of the construction materials used to build it. They said they were poison. I missed seeing the mob but I did see a bunch of black uniformed security types gathered around who I assumed had made the crowd disperse.

The campus is a thirty minutes walk from the Xibei canal subway station. I found this out because I had to go to work and it didn't look like whatever they were doing was going to end in time for me to make it to work on time.

I cold write another five hundred words on what I saw as I walked from the campus to the subway but I won't.


I learned later that the parents who complained about materials used at Tony's primary school were taken away by police. It was ugly said Jenny. The parents said that that their children had been playing on the sports field for an hour and had gotten nose bleeds.


I got onto the subject of shopping carts with students in one class. I told them about how shopping carts were stolen in Canada and observed that in China now, you have to use coins to unlock them. A female student then told me that some locals steal carts and take them to parks to use as barbecue grills.

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