Friday, December 2, 2016

November 2016 Notes

Disband the Chicago Cubs.

Their winning the World Series makes me glad that the Montreal Expos no longer exist. As an Expos fan I can wax poetic about what could have been and what thankfully can never be.

The Cubs World Series victory had a novelty to it that lasted about one week till Trump became the US president.


Eric, a colleague here at HyLite English, became a father.

I was with him at the start of his grand day. On the first Thursday of November, we went to the Big Bridge Primary School to teach some classes. The baby hadn't come, as has been hoped, in the early part of the week. Eric came back to work, after four off days that had been scheduled for the baby's birth, still not yet a father

However, the morning of Thursday, he told me that his wife was experiencing pains. I immediately had premonitions that today was going to be the day for him and his wife. At lunchtime, I told him that I would cover that evening class that he was scheduled to do.

We then taught two classes in the afternoon at the primary school. At the conclusion of the second classes, I asked him how his wife was doing. As I asked, he got a phone call from his wife. She told him he was going to the hospital. He said he would get there as soon as he could.

The drive from the primary school to the downtown was about thirty minutes. The two girls that were with us (our handlers in the primary school) and I were excited to be sending Eric off to the hospital.

When we arrived downtown, that was where he went.

Covering his class and doing my classes, I excitedly told the students what was happening. I monitored Wechat for news of the baby's arrival.

At 7:10 PM, I found Eric's posting of his son's photo on Wechat and immediately ran around to show everyone. I don't know why but I was very excited to get the news.


I was traumatized when I saw a local man wearing what appeared to be a thong.

What happened was that I was walking along a lane in our apartment complex and passed a man who was bent down, working on the tire of a car. I inadvertently caught a glimpse of the classic bent over look of a person whose pants dip down to reveal the top of his buttocks. Only this time I didn't so much see a "crack," as what struck me – I quickly averted my eyes – as a thong.

The first thong that I remember seeing was in Seattle. One of the servers at a bar near Husky Stadium was turned away from me when I espied her wearing of a thong. That I or anyone could see it was the intent of how she wore it.


My son Tony says he is a Canadian. Asked by a local if he was Japanese, he strongly insisted that he wasn't and then proclaimed he was Canadian.


Tony doesn't like me taking photos of him.

One morning as I dropped him off at school, I wanted to take a photo but he ran away.

These are also times when Tony can sense my derangement at being in China. As I walk him from our parked car to the school gate, he senses my annoyance and anger brought about by some stupid local driver I had chance to encounter.


Walk below my office at Hylite and maybe you will be able to see the NGD quotes I have placed in the window.

I looked up at the sign I posted and it seemed to me that you have to make a special point of spotting the sign, but when you do, the sign stands out like a beacon. I am glad that I can post a message in public in Communist China like that.


Student's father had blood in the brain. A blood clot. [His father recovered to be able to go back home, I am glad to report.]


Closing off of one of the two entrance gates at our apartment complex made for quite a traffic jam in the apartment complex during the rush hour. Because the lanes in the complex are about one and a half car widths, it made for tight driving conditions. One morning, I was stuck in a lane and had to wait for twenty cars to pass me before I could proceed to my parking spot.


I saw this old man at Ikea who seemed oblivious to lining up and other people. I noticed that he mistakenly went to the serving area of the hot dog stand instead of first going to the area in which you make your order and pay for your food. Rebuffed, he went to the cashier and barged right into the lineup of people already waiting to make their orders. He didn't seem aware of the other people who were lined up to pay. The staff ignored them and thankfully the line was short enough that there was no untoward incident.


I made no predictions for the Trump Clinton election result. I learned my lesson after the 1996 election that Clinton I thought was doomed to lose.

I saw that for 2016, the conventional types predicted a Clinton victory while a few voices proclaimed a Trump upset. I hoped that the predictors of a Trump victory were correct...

And they were... [I switch to present tense]

Like many, I take delight in seeing the end of Billary.

To those on the left who are appalled at the victory of Trump, I say that I suspect that they will find themselves liking him more and more as time goes on. Trump is, or at least it would seem to be, a Democrat lite. David Warren categorizes him as a 60s liberal. From what Warren observes, I add that this would mean Trump is Kennedyesque. Though the leftists who read my blog would certainly balk at this suggestion, the truth is that a person with JFK's views would not be welcomed in the Democrat party these days. Some Democrats who can stop having a cry baby fit and stop calling Trump a fascist, a racist, a homophobe, a xenophobe, etc. may actually notice this.

Trump may achieve bi-partisan consensuses that Obama talked about in 2008. [Bi-partisan consensuses in this day and age are evil, however.]

Not that I would really welcome this. I was hoping for a Cruz or Scott Walker presidency.


Almost immediately after thinking I could conquer my temper, I walked from the Nanchang Metro Station to our school. I first almost got hit by a car that wouldn't yield to me as I was crossing the street at a crosswalk. I then had a man try to cut in front of me as I was lining up to buy coffee at the 85 bakery. Immediately after the first incident, I thought that I should given the car a swift kick. At the bakery, I swore at the guy a couple of times, telling him to f-off and calling him a meat-head. I couldn't tell if he understood me, he was being inscrutable.


I got to visit a laowai in the New District. A rare thing for me to do. When I moved to Casa Kaulins in '08, the isolation began. Recently, thanks to a Wechat app, I am in contact with more Wuxi Expats but as it is, our schedule keeps me away from the places where Wuxi Expats may meet.


At the Hui Shan Wanda shopping mall, Tony & I were walking on the second level when we caught sight of four young foreign women and four young foreign males standing abreast on the first level in the mall corridor. The males wore pants and were topless; the females wore bikinis. They seemed rather embarrassed.

They were modeling. But for what? I didn't bother to investigate. It would have been too embarrassing for me.

I suspect that these foreigners were probably Russians and other whites who come from the poorer stretches of the European world and Asia.


Traffic Lights not working in the Hui Shan District was becoming a daily occurrence. Getting through most of these intersections wasn't so bad even though none of the Chinese drivers followed the rules for what to do in uncontrolled intersections.

But then one day as I was taking Tony to school – morning rush hour time – lights at a very major intersection, with six lanes of traffic crossing four lanes, were not working. There was no policeman in sight and so the intersection was majorly gridlocked. Chinese drivers are not wont to yield in any circumstance, so this intersection was impossible to get through. I got around it by making a right turn, thinking that I could make a turn at lights that were just down the road. But those lights were out as well, and there I was hoping to make a left turn. Words fail me as to how to describe the chaos of that intersection. Perhaps, if you took a photo of that intersection from above, you would think that a child had taken all his lined-up Matchbox or Hot Wheels cars and pushed them all together with his two hands. I was between cars trying to go in every direction. A car going south was blocked by a car trying to make a turn east which was in turned blocked by a car trying to make a turn to the north.... I only got through this intersection because a path, created by the other cars blocking each other off, opened up for me and I was able to cross three lanes as the cars whose path I was crossing angrily honked their horns at me. [It was a miracle now that I think of it: that getting through.]


At the primary school, grade five class, I had students come up to me to tell me about Donald Trump winning the election.

"Donald Trump is very happy!" one student told me.

"I hear he is seventy years old!" said another.

"He was born in 1946!" said another. [I was born in 1964 I thought to myself.]


I have seen a few Hilary supporters (or is it lefty Trump haters?) say they can't understand why anyone could have voted for Trump. These same people also like to think of themselves as being so much better educated than Trump voters.

Well, if they are so better educated, why can't they understand? Surely part of one's education should involve finding out what your opponents really think and then offering a sophisticated argument about why they are wrong. Instead, the lefties simply resort to name calling.


I read The God that Failed, a book of confessions of ex-communists. It was published in the late 1940s or early 1950s, and with the end of the Cold War, one would think it was antiquated. The communists, the full-on communists, are gone and instead we have the technocratic Chicoms who have given up on communism but can't be bothered to change their name. But the essays in the book did talk of patterns of thought that still exist today among the Left or progressives or cultural Marxists. Good will about solving a problem was not enough for the communists; they needed complete loyalty in what had to be a ruthless way to achieve a utopia on Earth. The progressives today have their concepts of dog whistles and language patrols that convict even the most good willed of people because they don't follow the party line absolutely.

I then read at Crisis magazine, a Catholic site, a review of a book by a Polish member of the European parliament which put forth the thesis that communism and liberal modernity have common philosophical roots although they follow different methods. Living in a state that has been ruled by a party that calls itself communist, I can say that I have witnessed the local government do things that would not at all be uncommon in a modern liberal western state like Canada. The Wuxi communist government builds subways, builds green spaces, provides a bus service and publishes admonishments to its local citizens about things like traffic behavior and littering. They try to put on a friendly face like all western government departments do in their presentations to the public. You can't even say the local governments are different because no one voted for them. In the west, one should realize, we only vote for a change in the high administrators of the system.

The more I think about there is not much difference between a communist and a modern liberal. Perhaps in the West, we have a sham democracy that gives the bureaucracy a sort of legitimacy that the Chicoms are too clumsy that set up for themselves.


The solution to Tony's education problems and the losing of his childhood? Homeschooling.

Never was I so happy as when I didn't have to take Tony to school.

I don't want him attending school in the Chinese or Canadian education systems.


There are two things I want Tony to be: aloof from Modern Mainland Chinese culture and a Saint in the Catholic tradition.


One morning as I was driving back from having dropped off Tony at school, I got cut off.

Actually, this happens many mornings.

But this morning after I had told myself that I would deliberately be cool and not annoyed at something a local driver did, I got very, very angry. I honked and honked at that driver who cut me off and was afterward stopped in front of me at a red light. I got it into my head that I should get out of car, knock on the driver's door and punch him (it was a woman it turned out) in the face. I didn't but as soon as the light turned green I did some driving to cut that woman off, honking my horn as a wild man as I did so.

Did I commit a sin? Did I get mad for no reason?


In a class about manners and etiquette, a student told me of a co-worker whose rude action was to go into the desk drawers of her co-workers and steal their food. The student then said she went to the length of hiding the food so her co-worker couldn't find it.

I told the student that that was stealing, not just bad manners, and asked for more details, like how long this had been going on for and whether anyone had confronted the co-worker about her pilfering.

I couldn't believe it when the student told me that this had been going on for two years, but then the student added a crucial detail. The co-worker was extremely generous with her food and was bringing in lots of food and asking everyone in the office to help themselves. So this co-worker had this idea that her generosity gave her the right to help herself to the food of everyone else in the office.

I asked the student if she thought this was weird and she said she did, so this wasn't a Chinese thing.

I wondered if this was even a case of bad manners, but more appropriately weird manners. I also wondered if the television show Curb Your Enthusiasm where the comedy stems from people's weird ideas of manners ever featured such a happening in one of their episodes. I think for instance of an episode where a man who got upset when people put their garbage in his trash can.


November 22nd, the anniversary of the Kennedy assassination, Tony had a hooky day. We pulled him out of school and let him accompany me to work where he was by himself for five hours will I was off site teaching at the primary school.

It satisfied my urge to fight the Chinese system, Tony's urge to get away from it, and Jenny's urge to have me go along with the system.

I hope that Tony can do more hooky days in the future as a safety valve. What set it off was that Tony get an 11(out of 100) on his Chinese mid-term which lead to Jenny's reaction and then my counter-reaction.


Tony told me that some girl at school, a classmate, told him to "fowking go back to his own country" after he didn't finish the food they had provided at lunch. Apparently, the class is praised for finishing the food and chastised if some of them don't.

Relating this episode to a colleague the next day, he suggested that Wuxiren were xenophobic, thinking Wuxi was the best, and would even telling non Wuxi types to go back to the countryside or whether it is they came from.


On hooky day, I took Tony to the Burger King at Mao Ye. We sat in a narrow sectioned off area of the restaurant. Afterward, we saw a mother with a son of primary school age sit at a table at the end of the section we were occupying. I saw the son pull out a homework book at the mother's bequest. I also noticed that they had not purchased any Burger King food which threw off the impression I had of them. Looking at the mother's face closely, I detected a meanness in her visage. There was something about her face, particularly her lower lip. She was teaching her son to squat, as it were, all the time wanting him to fulfill his homework obligations.


Castro died. I got the news from David Warren's blog. Both were good things.

However, Castro's death was like Stalin's. He died a natural death.

I went on Wechat and proclaimed my wish that he rot in hell.

The only response was from someone from Taiwan who approved.

They tell me Castro is revered in China. I wouldn't know about that. I don't think the students knew of him. They may know of him if they saw news of his death in the news.

In the twelve years I had been at the school, I never talked to the students about Castro. I never thought of Castro as being a source of conversation with the students whose knowledge of the world outside of Wuxi can be very limited. [In a speaker's corner, most of the students told me that they hadn't heard of Castro till his death.]


Was Castro a friend of the Chinese people as trumpeted in the Chinese media? Did he ever invite them over to his place for cigars and rum?


Jenny told me that Tony's natural grandfather had cancer and had six months to live.

Jenny has mixed feelings about this because the man had given her away when she was five months old.

Tony will visit him, hopefully, on his winter holiday.


With the constant use of horns in China, you would think by now that it would be white noise for me. But there are times when the use of horns does rouse my curiosity like the last Saturday in November when I heard about ten cars honking their horns outside of the Hui Shan Wanda.

What happened was that a car was stopped at a corner in a right turn lane and was blocking a lot of cars from making turns. The driver and the occupants of the car seemed to not notice that all the horn noise was directed at them. They were in the midst of some quandary about who was to get into the car. The obliviousness on their faces was out of an episode of the Beverly Hillbillies.


Local drivers park or stop their cars in ways that make it hard for other vehicles to move about by narrowing the room others have to proceed. Often these local drivers park or stop near corners or right on the corners making it hard for other vehicles to turn. Seeing this I wish these drivers would experience some sort of comeuppance.

I witnessed a few get theirs at an intersection near the auto dealership and auto maintenance plaza in Hui Shan District. A truck with long trailer, used for transporting new cars to dealerships, was trying to make a right turn from a narrow road, with one lane going either way, onto a two lane wide one-way section of road. [The wider road had fences put up to divide its four lanes.] Two cars had made a right onto the narrow road and then stopped or parked right by the corner making the truck's turn more difficult. The truck attempted to make the turn but the back end of the trailer struck the two cars which should not have been stopped where they were.

You would hope that the drivers of the two cars were the ones with the liability but alas I think the driver of the truck would get it.


Impatience of Chinese drivers was in evidence one morning at the gate to our apartment complex.

The apartment complex management is trying to get all cars in the complex registered on their new computer system. To do this involves paying some fees. We would get on the system but Jenny refuses to pay the eight years of fees that the management is demanding from the owner of the parking spot we use.

We are able to get around the gates because of an arrangement Jenny has with the security guards: if they don't let us in, she gives them hell.

One morning, a new security guard was stopping cars that were not registered on the computer system, thus causing five or six cars to line up behind, and their drivers to honk their horns so loudly that Jenny could hear it from our bedroom. I witnessed the horn blaring as I walked to our car and then experienced the blaring as the new guard wouldn't open the gate for me.


A month full of annoyances, but at least there was the dismissal of the Clintons.

"Yes! Yes! Yes!" to that.

And Eric became a father. Wonderful.