Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Slow Motion Video of Wuxi Metro Train Pulling Into Station

Thursday, June 1, 2017

May 2017 Diary

May Day, the K family went to the Hui Ju (Livat) Mall. The place was not as crowded there as I had thought it would be.

We had gone to met up with a mixed couple: husband from Montreal; wife from China.


"The f***ing English Teacher gave me so much goddamn homework!" said Tony who told me that he likes the cartoon show Rick & Morty for all the swearing.


Can you take a toy gun on the Wuxi Metro? I wasn't sure about this because all the metro stations in Wuxi do have X-ray machines that you have to put your bag through before you can enter the platform area.

This question arose on two occasions in April when I had bought Tony toy guns in Nanchang Market. I bought Tony a toy pistol that looked very realistic and later a toy AK-74 (not AK-47) rifle. Each time, I thought it best to take the bus back because the driver doesn't check your bags. And I had seen a person forced to open his suitcase and take out a kitchen knife set that he obviously purchased.


A kid in one of my primary school classes didn't want to read a passage from a story I was covering with his class. I decided to tip over his desk in order to knock the contents on the floor. A minute later, he begged me to let him read.

Another kid gave me a "no why" answer to one of my questions. I screamed at him and the whole class to let them know in no uncertain terms that this answer was unacceptable because it was rude, bad English and lazy.

I had never heard that expression before I came to China. Many Chinese students seem to want to use it because it seems to me that they are never called upon by their teachers to think. They are just expected to regurgitate what the teacher tells them.

[I got some blow back from the first instance but it didn't make any sense because the kid claimed he didn't understand what I wanted. But what happened was, I wanted him to read and he said that he didn't want to read... The kid was lying and the teacher who will side with a Chinese parent over a foreign teacher had to join in.]


When it comes to how I approach my classes, I am like Burt Reynolds in many of the movies he did in the seventies. I am going through the motions, running out the clock.


No why. I hate these two words. They are often used by students who don't want to answer my demanding of reasons for the things they have said or done. This way of answering, I believe, is bad because it is bad English but more importantly it is stupid, lazy and rude.. A couple of instances in my primary school classes, I have busted the balls of students who have used these words.

And then I had to have an adult student say these two words in a company class. I had to let it go.


On a more gratifying note, some the children did show me that I had taught them something. One boy told me he want to catch an aircraft carrier when he went fishing. It was the kind of nonsense answer I was expecting.


Tony wants to buy a German world war 2 style peaked cap that he saw for sale in this army surplus type store near the Nanchang Temple market. When I asked him when he would wear such a thing, he said at Halloween.


While doing a class on adventure, I reflected how my childhood was filled with so much more adventure than Tony's. Tony spends all his waking hours, when not at school, being made to do homework or doing something involving a video screen. He has yet to have gone into woods by himself.


Chinese like to sleep at the beds in Ikea, a student told me, because they don't care what others think. I found this a strange answer because I find the Chinese to be a strange maddening combination of selfishness and conformity. They seem to do things without considering that what they are doing is inconveniencing many others and yet at the same time, they don't have an original thought or opinion on any subject.


On a Saturday morning, I was entering the Xizhuang metro station. I found that the very wide stairway at the front of the station was completely blocked by e-bikes and bicycles. The people running the station had placed roped off one part of the area in front of the stairway in order to mark it off as no parking, but these four cyclists couldn't figure it out. Talk about selfishness and lack of self-awareness.


One Friday evening, I left the Yanqiao metro station and was walking through a nearby bus stop area when an SUV coming from behind, turned in front of me so that I the passenger side back was right in front of me. Angrily, I pounded the the vehicle's window. The vehicle stopped and I walked around the rear end of the window and so as to be beside the driver's window so I could make a rude gesture. And the idiot had the temerity to roll down his window and yell at me when he should have been profusely apologizing. What is wrong with drivers in mainland China?

I walked away from the driver and like Dustin Hoffman declared I "am walking here!!"

The guy was an idiot and at least I could take joy in his being angry.

I should pray that he and other drivers of his ilk (who are mostly from Mainland Communist China) would have more consideration for pedestrians.


Hojo. Howard Johnson. Anka. Andis Kaulins.

And to think that Anka wrote a song that the great Sinatra made very popular.


I got my visa renewed which meant I had to re-register at a nearby police station.

There are many police stations near Casa Kaulins. Probably two on my street.

But it was at another police station that I had to register. There was a lineup there of people trying to register themselves in the Wuxi area. I didn't know where to go but with the help of the first uniformed person I could find and Jenny on my Iphone, I was shuffled into a lineup.

The queue was very oppressive. The people in line with me were a little too close to me for comfort, but there was no way I was going to make a scene about it: it was a cultural difference that I had no right to get upset about.


Ask the kids a question, I get one or two takers in the class. Ask the kids to greco-roman wrestle and I get 40 volunteers.

Lesson: there are ways I can motivate the students to participate, but the chances of my teaching them anything about the English language is practically nill.


Tony has been annoying the teachers at his primary school by declaring often that he isn't Chinese and so he shouldn't have to do some things the teachers ask him to do.

The truth is Tony is at least half-Chinese and his father is not all Chinese. I expose him to all sorts of western things that make him take a dim view of being a student in a Chinese school. Tony also has witnessed his father curse and denigrate many things that the Chinese do.

But still, who can blame him for not wanting to be Chinese? I would never want to be Chinese in a million years. I wish I could have been Jewish, English, Italian and American; but never Chinese.


Reading a book of Tang Dynasty Poetry translations is enough to make China alluring. But there isn't anything poetic about Mainland Communist China.

The kids are made to learn some of that poetry but it doesn't seem to make them poets. Poetry here is a subject that they have to learn to pass a test.


By mid-May, I was looking very forward to the end of the Primary School term.

Try as I might to keep my temper, and to ignore the bad behavior in class, something always happens that causes me to snap.

Through the class, I have to put up with the kids ignoring me, the kids talking to their classmates, the kids making paper balls and paper airplanes, watching kids doodle, the kids throwing their paper balls and paper airplanes at other kids, the kids making rude gestures at me, the kids giving me flippant answers to my questions, the kids mocking the things I say, and the kids making rude gestures at me.

I no longer want to enter the classroom till it is time for me to start the class so I don't have to witness their antics and have kids walk up to me and be rude.

But compared to the students from Meicun, who are the absolute worse, I do have a few students who do follow my classes and answer my questions properly.


I paid a parking ticket at the bank where I had gotten the parking ticket in the first place. The first time, I had gone to the bank to make a withdrawal of my pay and was ticketed while I was in the bank. I had parked on the corner of the intersection below a no parking sign. I took a chance and got caught. I hadn't been caught the other times I had stopped there. But the next time I went to the bank, I walked and was interested to see that a car parked where I had parked had also gotten a parking ticket.

The parking ticket was a red one which meant three points deducted from my driver's license.


Our staff of foreign trainers could be reduced to three in July which would be a big problem. Teachers have always come and gone at our school for whatever reason and so recruiting them has been very difficult, but the powers that be in China have made the process of getting teachers visas more stringent.

When I first came to China, I only needed an ESL certificate and a degree to be able to teach. I wouldn't be able to do that now. One now has to have two years teaching experience. I got those two years in China so now I can stay. Because this requirement had been very minimal, a lot of incompetents, alcoholics and other assorted weirdos were able to come to China, and so it was in China's interest to clamp down on this.

I can say I came to China at the right time.

As well, many teachers could come to China, quit a school and move on to another school. There are teachers who have taught at all the major training centers in Wuxi like HyLite, Web, EF and Wall Street English. As of May 1st, this month, teachers already in China or in Wuxi cannot do this. If they join another school, they will have to go back to their home country and go through the application process from scratch which will take at least two months. So hiring teachers who are already in China and want to come to Wuxi is now even harder. And teachers are stuck with the school that brought them to China unless they can afford to go back home for two months. So, they have to hope that the school that hires them would exploit them. [This is another aspect of teaching in China that may not be clamped on but should: teachers being brought into horrible situations with crappy accommodations or horrible working conditions.]

And so our school may be down to three trainers for the summer months because of another teacher leaving and one having to be let go.


No Why

No Y


An noy


I will just have to run out the clock on the primary school. The kid who I reamed out for using that expression, felt compelled to say it three or four times in a row in a recent class.


One thing I am thankful for in China is the fact that they don't have government liquor stores like they do in the Canadian provinces of British Columbia and Manitoba. In China, you can buy booze in at a mom & pop, at a chain convenience store and at a supermarket. Totally brilliant.


Some Chinese female student made a speech, at the university of Maryland, that generated lots of negative comments from Chinese internet commentators. The reaction proved the point that the student was making in the speech that there is a severe limit on freedom of expression in Mainland China.


Another driving anecdote. I was taking Tony to school one morning when I came upon an accident scene where the positioning of one car was just so inexplicable. This VW sedan, facing the completely opposite direction of traffic, had crashed into a center barrier fence thus hitting a van, on the other side of the traffic barrier, that happened to be stopped, waiting to make a left turn. With this sedan facing in the same direction as the van so that one had wonder if the sedan had driven in the wrong way for a long distance [the nearest intersection was a few hundred meters away] or the driver of the sedan had chosen the dumbest place to try to make a u-turn. [I ruled out that the car had been turned about by the force of a collision with another vehicle because that was no other vehicle at the accident scene, and the van was on the other side of the barrier and was no doubt in the wrong place at the wrong time but hadn't done anything wrong.] What I suspect happened was that the sedan made a right turn into the wrong lane from the intersection that was hundreds of meters away, and was able to proceed the wrong way until it got close to the next intersection where an oncoming car, probably making a left turn, came upon the sedan so suddenly that its driver reflexively drove into the barrier fence to avoid a collision.

After dropping Tony off, I was returning home and was about to drive past the accident scene when I got cut off by a police van. My instinctual reaction was to blare my horn but seeing it was a police vehicle, I held myself. I then found it ironic to see that the police van was driving to check out the accident scene I had passed earlier.


I learned the news of the Manchester bombing from an Englishman who works at our school.


Bertrand Russell wrote this about the Chinese in 1923:

"Is it really wise to be always guarding against future misfortune? Is it prudent to lose all enjoyment of the present through thinking of the disasters that may come at some future date? Should our lives be passed in building a mansion that we shall never have leisure to inhabit?

The Chinese answer these questions in the negative, and therefore have to put up with poverty, disease, and anarchy. But, to compensate for these evils, they have retained, as industrial nations have not, the capacity for civilized enjoyment, for leisure and laughter, for pleasure in sunshine and philosophical discourse. The Chinese, of all classes, are more laughter-loving than any other race with which I am acquainted; they find amusement in everything, and a dispute can always be softened by a joke."

I can't say if I have met any Chinese person who is like this. So, perhaps Russel was wrong or met some Potemkin Chinese. But if what he wrote was true, it tells you that a lot has happened in near 100 years since Russel wrote it; like the war against the Japanese, the creation of the People's Republic and the Cultural Revolution. Events have perhaps conspired to destroy this sort of Chinese person.

Or as David Warren wrote, China has been destroyed by a combination of capitalism and socialism.


Leaving the primary school one day, the handler and I could hear a class chanting en masse. "They're singing a Communist Party Song!" she told me. I stopped in my tracks and made some comment about indoctrination. The handler then told me how when she was in primary school, the teachers were always making them watch propagandistic films about how bad the Japanese were.

The Chinese that Russell talked of had probably been killed off and crushed by the Communists.

Evil still reigns in this land.


Tony read a book on the ride to Primary School one morning late in May. He had always been playing on my smart phone. Pleasing to his mother but I wonder if the powers that be are getting to him. He has also taken on this attitude of being busy which you would expect from an adult having entered the work force.


I have uploaded about thirty short videos to my Youtube Channel this month. Check them out! Type wuxiandis in the Youtube search engine.


The month of May ended with the Dragon Boat Festival. The K family did things in Wuxi. Two nights, members of the family spent time at the Nanchang Jie Bar street. The place was packed; so packed in fact, that Andis regretted having decided to go there. Tony found the place so crowded that he wanted to go home. One the last day of the holiday, the K family went downtown again. Tony had some photos taken and so while Jenny and he were doing that, Dad wandered around the nearby Hen Long shopping center. Again, Dad found the crowds annoying and he found a quiet spot on the mall's fifth floor which was far away from the crowds and had a bench to sit on so he could read.


Comments? Questions? Email me at andiskaulins@qq.com.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

April 2017 Notes

For Qing Ming Festival Day, we drove out to Jenny's hometown. We spent more time getting to and from her hometown then actually visiting with her parents. The traffic was horrible. What would in theory be a 70 minute drive took us 150 minutes. The sources of the delays were the toll gate area at the Jiangying Bridge and a turn-off near the bridge which was but one lane wide. Three lanes of traffic were trying to get into it and this was a cluster lanes became blurred.

A few good things came out of the ordeal One was news from Jenny that the 3,000 drivers who tried to cheat and get around traffic slowdowns by driving on the shoulder were all to be punished severely. Two was Jenny's vowing never to go to the hometown for a day trip on a holiday.


Restaurant at the Wu Culture Park. Coming back from Jenny's hometown on Qing Ming day, our plans to visit a military museum in Jiangying were scuttled by traffic and so we decided to check out this restaurant at the park near Casa Kaulins. We had quite an enjoybable time. The restaurant was situated so that it overlooked a pond and thus afforded a great view. And it also had good food. If you look at my wordpress blog, you can find some photos I took of the place.


On the day after Qing Ming Day, we drove out to to a park near the Ling Shan Buddha. I wish I could tell you the name of it, but I am too lazy to check on the Internet.. All I can say is other than the nice drive to it , the park was forgettable. A pedestrian walk street with a phony park next to it built for the sole purpose of attracting tourists.

One detail about going to the park struck me as interesting. The road to it was narrow: one lane either way with bike lanes on both sides.

I have seen how these roads can be nightmares at busy times because cars will try to pass other cars by driving in the bike lanes. To stop this from happening on Qing Ming Day, the powers that be decided to lay lots and lots of traffic cones on the dividing lines between the lanes in order to bring some order to the traffic.


Tony tells me he has work to do on the Iphone. He just wanted to play a driving game.

He must have heard me say that I had work to do on my computer so I could get him off my computer.


On the train one evening, I saw this older local woman eating a banana. How boorish I thought to myself. I then saw that she had noticed me and my foreign colleague who I was standing by, and that she was pointing us out to her child.


On the Shanghaiist site, there was a report of a “blatantly racist” (against Chinese) leaflet being distributed on some campus in Texas. I saw the leaflet in the report. And all its complaints about Chinese behavior were true. I showed it to another foreign colleague and he said that it could have said more. I found the whole report troubling because, the school authorities were treating the whole incident as racist without dealing with the real and justifiable complaints that the leaflet had presented. As well, the response from a Chinese student group was focus on the “racist” aspect of the leaflet and make a statement of being proud of being Chinese, without any acknowledgment that maybe their behavior needed some modification.

It was a clear example of truth being suppressed and a real injustice being done; and so I found it very troubling. This calling people racist is being used as a cover for some people to behave boorishly.

Alas, I am becoming a person who can be accused of being racist. And I am also very confused about what racism is exactly. I thought it was a hatred of a group of people because of their skin color. That kind of hatred is stupid and irrational; and it is evil if it involves wanting to do actual harm to these groups. But racism is currently viewed as more than just that and even people who mean well or who have truthful complaints can be called racist.


I realized I can take an alternate route on the days when I have to walk to Tony's classroom to pick him up.

Instead of going up the stairwell everyone else does, I realized I can go down a hallway to another stairwell that no one else would think of taking. The route isn't shorter than the popular route, but I don't have to deal with squirts yelling “laowai” as I pass them.


I was hyping a meeting between Xi and Trump but it was overshadowed by Trump's decision to bomb Syria.

I have no opinion on the bombing but I can appreciate the arguments that both sides, pro and con, are making for their positions


Just let it go! I was telling myself this as I drove Tony to school in the morning because I didn't want to get carried away with road rage. But sure as heck, I got angry as I was driving back home. Some prick in a BMW cut me off.


Breaking rulers and overturning desks so that the contents of the student's desk fall on the floor.

Whatever it takes to get the primary school students to be quiet and respectful.


When taking the subway, I choose to board cars that are at the ends of the train. So when waiting for the train, I stand at either end of the platform; and usually the end that fewer people will stand at. While I wait, it is my habit to pace back and forth and not to stand in a spot.

I would think that if I came upon another person doing this, that this person would have dibs on boarding the train before others. In Wuxi however, I have discovered that locals will walk up and take up the spot that I think I am entitled to by having gotten there first. The local mind sees nothing wrong with this. Talking to other foreigners in Wuxi, they have noticed this behavior as well and taken it as being rude and selfish.

So from the time of this entry, I am going to have to stand my guard as I wait for the train.


Tony and I have been watching Rick and Morty.


Don Rickles R.I.P. To a Canadian, he said “Why don't you put skates on your face and go play hockey somewhere.”


Got two more traffic tickets. One of them we got when we were stuck in a traffic jam returning from that day at the park near Ling Shan. I found myself in a left turn lane and no one would let me in a straightaway lane. Some idiot then got on my left and I was wedged in between cars so that I was straddling a line. A traffic camera caught this and so a message was sent to Jenny's phone.

The damn thing about the roads in China is that you are always having to change lanes to avoid getting stuck in a turn lane. Every once and while, you find yourself in a left turn lane and stuck in heavy unforgiving traffic that won't let you change lanes. I know how to avoid this on familiar stretches of road, but if I am an area of town that is new to me, I will often make this mistake.


It has been pointed out to me that the disruptive students in the primary school classes are often stuck at the front of the class. Getting a close look at them, I can report that they are a mixed bunch. That is, the disrupters come in all shapes, sizes and personalities.

One of the kids in a grade three class is too clever for the material I have been teaching. He sits towards my left. I got great joy at being able to get him to cry when I took his desk and dumped its contents on the floor to stop him from acting like a baboon.

A male classmate of this boy who sits on my right, looks like a mental defective because he has all the teeth on one side of his mouth missing as well as a cereal bowl haircut. When he approaches me, I have to fight the urge to swat him away. He is like a mosquito

Near the boy on my left sits a girl who always scowls and refuses to answers any questions. If I had to teach her everyday, I would want to take a ruler and smack her on each side of the head to put across the notion that only low-grade people answer questions in monosyllables.

There is this boy, in a grade four class, who looks like he will grow up to be a criminal – he seems to enjoy being able to leer and scowl like a devil. Nothing in this devil child's countenance suggests he is capable of anything but malevolence. I see the other kids mock him as something of a freak.


On the road betwixt Casa Kaulins and the Hui Shan Wanda Shopping Center there are many government buildings including a tax bureau and a police station and a law court.

One Sunday I could not help but notice that there was something going on at the law court. There were crowds of people there, and a heightened security and police presence. I saw seven police motorcycles (that usually cruise the area around our apartment) parked near the entrance of the courthouse grounds, two vans full of black uniformed security types parked across the street from the courthouse entrance, a firetruck with fireman inside parked in the court parking lot, and a very officious looking uniformed police who seemed to be directing the whole affair. The actual civilians standing by were older types who didn't seem angry and who definitely didn't seem just curious. They seemed to have been cowed into quiescence by the increased security presence.

I asked my wife what was going on and she told me that an unpopular decision had been made by the court.


I got to see Wuxi from 64th floor. Jenny took me and a friend to lunch at a buffet restaurant on the 64th floor of the Hyatt Regency. The view was great. I was struck by how I seemed to be on top of things that I knew to be many blocks away from the Hyatt's location. The food at the buffet was just okay however, and so as I sat vegetating, I recalled my visit to the Space Needle in Seattle. I went to a lot of trouble, spending lots of money on parking and admissions, to get to the famous landmark's observation deck. The view from the Space Needle was great but after two minutes I was bored. But it seemed a waste to go down so soon so I hung out on the observation deck with nothing to do for a further twenty minutes. Looking out from a skyscraper is something you'd only need do once in your life.

The deck was setting for a scene in the Warren Beatty Film the Parallax View in which a politician is assassinated.

It was the third assassination spot I had been too. The others being Dealey Plaza in Dallas and the Trotsky compound in Mexico City.


My grilled cheese sandwiches are quite the hit with Tony & Jenny.


Not much to say for myself this month. The world goes on and while I observe as avidly as ever, I don't have the same emotional investment in these events and so feel less compelled to say anything about them.

Besides, it doesn't matter what I think about them away. The sad fact about Andis is that he concerns himself with events that are far removed from his actual physical real world circumstances because he is too mediocre to deal with the things that should matter to him.

This realization should be liberating. Why waste time trying to be something I am not?

Thursday, April 6, 2017

March 2017 Notes

One morning in early March, I took photos of the traffic chaos around Tony's school and I was hoping that the drivers were wondering what this foreigner was doing.

I took the photos as I returned to my car after having accompanied Tony to the school gate. I especially made a point of taking the photo of a car that had parked behind me. This car had its ass stuck out into traffic big time. The driver was sitting in his car and noticed me taking the photo. He then had a look on his face that was priceless. I then gave him a big smile.


To become March, I binge-viewed the Lemony Snicketts tv series. I loved the style in which the series was shot. It was full of the elegant shots that I associate with films done by Wes Anderson. I as well loved the dialogue which was full of the wordplay of instant misunderstandings and the constant mentioning of synonyms of words that the characters had just used. It was a delight for this so-called English teacher to watch.


What is the problem with the Chinese aircraft carrier?

There is one pilot who likes to park his plane so that none of the other planes can land or take off.


I was hoping that Tony & I would be able to watch the Lego Batman movie in the cinema.

This won't happen because of our schedules and the fact that the movie is only getting limited show times in China (because it is a kiddie film). Tony is going to see the movie by himself. :(


Tony & I ended up going to see Lego Batman together after all. :) It was in Chinese and I could only understand a few sentences of dialogue. But I could definitely tell that it was Mandarin Chinese being spoken. No doubt had I about that.

So now, I have got impetus to again restart studying Chinese. This time, I will try to watch some Chinese movies with subtitles.


Is the world going mad? No. It is mad and always has been.


I ALSO binge-viewed a second Netflix series: 3 percent. The Process against the Cause. I highly recommend the series. It is basically a story about what people will do to try and get privilege and become part of the 3 percent that have it. The story of the series has candidates to join the elite try to get through the Process, a series of tests that determines who is elite and can thus live in a place called the Offshore. There are some plot conflicts though as there are people from the Cause, who are against the Process, who are seeking to infiltrate the Process as candidates. Meanwhile the committee overseeing the process is trying to unseat the manager of the Process...


This year in reading I have read some long novels. So far, I have gotten through Don Quixote and Kristin Lavransdatter.


The wonders and perils of technology. My wife Jenny does a lot of internet shopping. In China, I say she loves to go on Taobao, the big Chinese internet shopping site, or I say she loves to taobao, my attempt at creating a Chinglish word. Because of Taobao, I often have to pay a visit to one of the many lockers around our apartment complex which are set up for delivery drivers to conveniently drop off parcels and FOR internet shoppers to more conveniently pick them up. This errand I go on for Jenny is fraught with peril because something always seems to go wrong. Often, I go to the wrong locker – there are so many around the complex – or I screw up the pick up process by not being able to understand the prompts on the locker's keyboard which are in Chinese. A new wrinkle was added to this peril because people going to pick up their parcels, instead of entering passwords into the keyboard screen can press a key on their mobile phone that opens the locker door directly. The first time, I used this feature, it worked like a charm. The second time, it worked fine as well for the first of the two packages I had to pick up. But for the second package, I had a problem. I pressed the open door button and nothing opened in front of me. Fearing that I had opened a locker door somewhere else, I ran back to Jenny and she then noticed that the parcel had been dropped off at another locker. This delivery company had two lockers at our complex. So I had to run like a bugger to the other locker where the door was opened but the package was not taken!


One female student works at a factory in the purchasing department. She tells me she is so busy that she finds herself avoiding taking on more tasks. She admitted to me that she would tell people she wasn't available if they were looking for her... And thing about the factory is that is robotic. She tells me that her factory has more people in administration than in production, and that she would love in to be in production because they have less work to do.


I have been taking photos and publishing them in my Andis Kaulins in China photo blog (at wordpress) that show the little details I see living in China everyday.


I used to care a lot about the number of views that I got FOR my blogs, but when it became obvious that the numbers would never amount to much, I stopped paying attention. If one of my entries can get a hundred views, I am happy.

Of course, one hundred views must mean I have really one or two real readers.


A podcast I listen to mentioned that they had 40,000 listeners. Being a near regular listener to this podcast, I felt privileged.

The podcast in question is the Federalist podcast which must be made in Washington D.C.


I should really write an essay about something and make a blog entry about it. But what topics do I have anything interesting and original to say?


For the first time, I used the GPS on my Iphone to get me around Wuxi. What had happened was that Jenny had bought a second hand lamp on WeChat and I had to drive out to the New District to get it. The directions, to the apartment of the seller, which were given to me by the maps app worked like a charm. I got there with few problems.


They have these new types of public rental bikes in Wuxi. Unlike the previous type of public bikes which are to be picked up and then left at a bike stall, the new rental bikes are tracked by GPS and can be left anywhere once the rider is done with the bike. The bikes can be rented using an app on one's smartphone.

I am keen to try the bikes but haven't gotten around to it. There are five companies renting out these bikes which means one has almost too many choices. And because each company requires a deposit on an account before you can rent the bike, the prospect of making more than one deposit is not attractive. As well, Jenny tells me that there have already been people gaming the system so they can basically hog one of the bicycles for themselves. These hoggers can do this by physically hiding the bicycle as well as removing the bicycle's scan code. The latter tactic can be employed because the hogger already knows the code that will access the bike.


The kids at the primary school I teach at have been asking me for my signature, aka autograph. Unthinkingly, I accepted the request in one class and the result was that in next class, I was mobbed by twenty kids all wanting me to write my name on a piece of paper or in their notebook. It was an ordeal that made me glad I am not truly famous. And what was very annoying was how disorderly the children were when crowding around me, as well as how greedy they were. Like Chinese adults, they couldn't form an orderly queue and like Chinese adults faced with the prospect of free stuff, they got really greedy. Thinking that there were not so many kids wanting me my signature, I expected the mob to get smaller and the ordeal to end; but I then noticed that some kids were coming to me to again for more and more of my signatures. One kid actually tried to get a third signature off me.


A story in a textbook I was using with one of the primary school classes I do had a sentence in it that went as follows: "Roy had a budgie named Joey." So, I did a substitution exercise with the class in which I got the students to tell me something like "I have a dog names Spot." This exercise was quite popular with the students and many raised their answers to give me answers. Frequently, the students try to give me wise guy answers. One student said the following: "I have a monster named Mother."


A student told me she was tired because she was trying to teach her daughter some math. It was hard because the girl wasn't interested, she added.

I asked her how old her daughter was, thinking of the trouble my wife was having teaching our nine year old. The student told me her child was two, as in two years old. Her child was going to enter kindergarten soon so she wanted to prepare her, she added.

I thought she was nuts. I didn't tell her that but I did tell her child was still very young, would figure it out and for the mother to not to worry about it. I then complained to this mother about how parents these days spent far too much time supervising their children and not giving them a chance to figure out some things on their own. She responded that she was Chinese and didn't have a problem with these way of doing things.


I asked some of the students if they thought their parents were happily married. A few said they didn't think so because of one of their parents having a bad temper. I asked them if it had been suggested to these angry parents that their temper was a problem. They told me that these bad-tempered parents thought they were always right about everything.


Is Christianity true?

My imagined response had been that smarter men than me believed it was and that smarter men than me believed it wasn't. I know think that better men than me believe it and better men than me don't.


Class 5-1 at the Big Bridge Primary School all bowed in apology to me at the beginning of one class. They had not done well the previous class. I really could have done without grovelling. I would rather have had the class just behave better. I am certain that if they had, I would have noticed and said something complimentary.


Tony tells me that he doesn't have to do homework because he is Canadian.


The Chinese are frothing at the mouths over THAAD in South Korea, I have read on the Internet. From the students, I heard mention but have avoided the topic because their reactions are predictable in that they trumpet the government line. What struck me as strange about it was how it suddenly came up after the half-brother of Nork's Fat Boy had been snuffed out in strange circumstances. Talking about that incident, I had students trying to tell me about THAAD.


Looking back over what I have blogged so far, I see I have made but one mention about local drivers. Now I will make my second.

We uber it to get to the primary school. That is, instead of taking taxis, we use an uber-like app to get private cars to take us to and from the primary school.

Unlike the taxi drivers who are all overly aggressive, the local uber drivers have varying styles of driving. Some are aggressive and some are inexperienced and thus drive passively.

One day in March, we had a driver who was very aggressive. I tried to ignore his driving by concentrating on a e-book on my Ipad, but one instance, the driver swerved and caused me to look up and ahead. I saw that he was heading, at too high a speed, towards the end of a line of cars stopped at a light. He had to brake the car hard and just as he got close to the stopped cars, he thought to use his horn. I thought then that he was trying to get the cars to get out of his way and that he was being very stupid. I shook my head and talked about it to my colleague as we left the car at the entrance to the primary school. I then thought that maybe he was trying to warn them and that thus there was some logic to his using the horn. But after more pondering, I don't think it would have saved him from hitting the car if he hadn't been able to stop in time.


Overbearing parents have been a problem since time immemorial. But I am certain that the one-child policies whether enforced by authoritarian governments or cultural norms have exacerbated the problem.

We have at our school this one student, name of Hannah, who has such a parent. Hannah's English is not so good. In fact, we are getting her to repeat the entire beginner level of classes because she isn't ready to go to the next level. She can't make a sentence to help herself and it is hard to get her to say anything that she hasn't memorized beforehand. She also seems to be very inhibited. Many Chinese students are, but she is an extreme example. Our suggestion to have her repeat the entire level was met with resistance from Hannah and/or her parents. It was then that I learned from Hannah's Chinese tutors about her mother.

Her mother is not so much a tiger mother, as a monster mother. She is constantly supervising every moment of Hannah's existence. She personally accompanies Hannah to our school and is waiting for her when she is finished her class. And so being forced to lay eyes on the mother, I am struck by how permanent the scowl is on her face. The mother's countenance suggests that Hannah is subjected to non-stop, seven days a week and every waking hour of the day bullying. Poor girl.

One Friday evening, I had Hannah in a conversation class, the topic was "In the kitchen." Hannah told me that every time she wanted to do something in the kitchen, her mother would tell her to read a school book.

So her mother doesn't want her to learn a practical skill. Does her mother think that cooking is too lowly with her precious one and only daughter?

Anyway, other complaint about Chinese students is that they don't have any life experiences.


Meicun TOEFL students.

These students from Meicun high school are attempting to pass a TOEFL test so they can go to university in America. They are a pretty useless bunch actually and teaching them is a waste of time because they aren't interested in participating in classes. I have hated teaching them as did every other foreign teacher.

Still, I have some sympathy for them. It would seem that it's their parents that have these lofty academic goals for them and so they are forced to come to our school on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays so they can try to achieve this quixotic goal. Despite the kids not being academically inclined, they are stuck in a system where not going to university means they can't make their way in Chinese society.

This sympathy I have for them though is in the abstract. Practically, I despise the sight of them and would be happy if I never saw their faces ever again. Like every other lazy students, they are on their mobile phones all the time. Now, I wouldn't care about this so much except they have to occupy classes next to classrooms where I and other foreign teachers are trying to conduct classes.

One Saturday in March, I had the misfortune of having to teach a class of eight students while this group of Meicun students occupied a class next to mine. [Our classes have glass walls] I would have moved but there was no other classroom I could use. And the Meicuners were loud. I had to tell to interrupt my class and tell them to keep quiet. They didn't. So I had to go again and I called them a bunch of shitheads. At least, it got them to speak some English.

The incident hasn't changed anything other than those kids instead of having ignored me, now are a little more aware of me and are staring at me.

Apparently, some of their idiot parents are friends without someone in the Chinese management of our school.


Driver goes into right hand bicycle lane so he get around a lineup in the car lanes and make a left turn.

Another driver is on my right at an intersection. He wants to go straight while I want to make a right right. The lane he is in is really a cycling lane.


This though occurred to me as I was in traffic: do the locals use their horns so much because it is a form of self expression that isn't censored?

Of course, it could be that frequent use of horn is part of Asian culture.


A 112 rmb taxi ride. It was the most expensive taxi ride I can remember taking. I went from Johnson Controls which is located near the Wuxi Airport in Shuofeng to Casa K in the Hui Shan District near Yanqiao. The distance was 34 km. And the students keep telling me that Wuxi is a small city.


I ended March with a renewed effort to improve my Chinese. Instead of just learning characters and reading, I am trying to improve my listening by concentrating on certain recordings and listening to them over and over again till I know every sound by heart and can understand each word as easily and casually as listening to English.


Wind and underwear.

I left the laundry hanging on rails outside the window of our third floor apartment. It seemed a safe bet to leave them out there while all of the K family went to the nearby shopping mall.

But about two hours later, Tony & I started to walk back home from the Mall and saw that it was now very windy. As we got close to the apartment complex, we saw that sheets and what-not, that had been hung by other residents, had blown off and were resting in bushes.

Tony seeing this became very panicky. He wanted us to run home and take in the laundry we had hung out.

When we got home, I saw that one pair of Tony's pajamas/underwear had blown off the rails and was resting on the roof of the first floor neighbor's veranda. Seeing this as well, Tony started crying. I assured him that I would be able to retrieve them, but this didn't stop him from crying and saying that he really liked that underwear.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

February 2017 Notes

They always say that anything a Republican does will provoke Muslims and turn them into potential terrorists. How come they never say that anything a Democrat does will provoke people into joining the Ku Klux Klan? What is with the Democrats and their belief in the inherent weakness and irrationality of people who aren't conservative or Western?


I made another student cry. What I did to make this boy cry was to separate him from another student with whom he was constantly talking as I was trying to do my class. It was a thing that I have done before in classes without an outpouring of tears. The crying came as a sort of a surprise to me because I noticed a tear in his eyes followed by an a seeming waterfall of them after the moving of him had escaped my thoughts.


The results of a physical exam taken of yours truly for insurance purposes: I have high blood sugar levels. I am going to have to cut back bigtime on the sweets and sweet drinks.

Fine I say. It was something I had been thinking I should be doing anyway. Now, I have been given impetus.


Saturday, February 4th, I am at school and I am listening to loud fireworks. Some business is opening for the new year.


I had to retake the blood test. We drove to the Hongqiao Hospital on ChangJiang Road to do so. Parking around the hospital building was horrific. Pathways through the parked cars had been whittled down to the width of a car. There was lots of double-parking. Cars trying to enter and exit the parking area were in each other's way. We were lucky because we stumbled upon a mostly empty parking lot that was across the street from the hospital, at the B&Q home decorating center. It seems that the locals have this mentality about parking as close to a place as possible and don't like having to walk anywhere.

I eagerly await the results.


In China I was able to watch, on live TV, the Super Bowl, between the New England Patriots and the Atlanta Falcons, going into overtime. Was it the greatest Super Bowl of all time? I don't know. The actual OT period was an anti-climax. In fact, as soon as it was certain the game would go into OT, I stopped watching.

It seemed to me that this result was destined to happened. I am happy at this stage of my life to stop watching any sporting match if I think the winner is certain. But in the back of my mind, I have this feeling that the games are fixed and the winner is never at all certain It seems that when these games are played, things just always happen to make a lead collapse like referees calling holding penalties and teams with leads making own-goal type mistakes.

What was far more interesting for me about the game was Tony's watching of it. I had a hard time explaining to him that New England was not a country but a region of the United States and so it didn't have a flag. Tony more interestingly proclaimed that he wanted to be a football player. I suppose he found the helmets and gear that the players were wearing to be quite attractive.


Don Quixote and and his squire Sancho Panza, Bertie Wooster and his butler Jeeves. What is it about these pairings that I find so profound and the basis of great literature and comedy?

David Warren in a blog entry I have just read said that the Wooster and Jeeves characters have been responsible for some conversions to Catholicism. Warren and I find this interesting because Wodehouse was not a Christian. I recall reading that when Wodehouse was asked about his religious inclinations by Malcom Muggeridge, he replied that he didn't have any.


I had a student who was born on December 24th. Niel's not a Dragon like I am, however.

As I like to say, I am born in the year of the Dragon like Bruce Lee, and am a Capricron like Jesus Christ.


Subject of my SPC: Words that start with the prefix Ex.

What does the prefix Ex mean? I ask the students.

One of them said "former." So I went on to give the following example: "Obama is now an ex-president. President Trump has two ex-...." The group then said "wives" and laughed or smiled in amusement.

It was a good bit and I am proud of it.

Then I made a joke about how one student who respond to those who said he was lazy and just sat on the sofa all day. "You should tell them you are "ercising."


Here is what I should have said when a pretty female student told me she didn't have a boyfriend: "You know, I don't have a boyfriend either. How nice is it to have something in common with a pretty girl."


I ask the students if they got lots of hongbao (red pocket money) during the Spring Festival. I then ask them if they can give it to me. This gets them to laugh.


I passed the second blood test. Those four days of avoiding sugary things must have helped.


My feelings about Trump? I am inclined to like him now but I feel slightly uneasy about doing so. I can only defend my liking him by saying I like the paradoxical aspects of his whole being. He is a bullshit artist who doesn't put up with the bullshit of his opponents.


So Trump meet the Canadian Prime Minister. I was disappointed to hear that there were no fireworks and nothing untoward happened. I had this fantasy that Trump would look at the Canadian PM (who is my PM, whether I like or not) and ask "who is this pretty boy?"

I first learned of the visit of the PM to Washington from a Donald Trump tweet. Accounts I scanned of it said the PM did a wonderful job. Of course, this was the Globe and Mail: a left wing rag the last time I bothered to check. More interesting to this Canadian was the fact that the PM's meeting Trump was reported on the Wuxi Metro's video screens.


Abandon your prejudices! This is an imperative sentence for left-wingers to heed; not right-wingers.


The first few days of taking Tony to primary school in the new term, I can report that the traffic that I have encountered is worse than ever. The only moment of satisfaction I have had was when I stopped a driver from a BMW from cutting in front of me while I was part of a long lineup trying to get through a light. I lustily crept forward and honked my horn at the woman who was driving. Of course, the woman drove BMW further along the lineup and cut in front of someone else.

In every local jam or traffic delay, there are always more than a few drivers who try to cut in line.


Tony & I are going to visit Canada in August. We hope to spend some time in BC and an equal amount of time in Manitoba. I hope I can get Tony out to a Canadian Football League game as well as to a baseball game. I also like to get him to the USA for a day so he can say he has been.


Tony loves watching the film Hacksaw Ridge. He saw it in the cinema and I then saw him watching it on the computer.


Twelve years, going on thirteen years in China, and I probably speak the language worse than Bill Gates. What an embarassment!

The best that I can say is that I am familiar with the language and some of its written characters.


Crossing the street, I like to make the cars stop or slow down for me. I have to do this because in Wuxi and everywhere else in China, the drivers show no courtesy to pedestrians and will never ever yield to them unless they absolutely must, to avoid a collision which would damage their car. Having grown up in the West where yielding to pedestrians is mandatory, I just can't accept the Chinese practice because it strikes me as being the height of rudeness.

I know one foreigner who says that he never slows down as he crosses the street and can always gets the cars to stop or slow down. I wouldn't go that far in fighting the Chinese practice because some cars are going a little too fast and I feel it would be suicide for me to try and get them to yield to me; but I often find that when there is a group of pedestrians, all locals, who are waiting to cross the street, I am the one who is taking the initiative and I find myself leading this group of pedestrians to walk across the street because I forced cars to come to a stop or slow down.


One February 2017 morning, I was crossing the street at the crossing near the entrance to my school. I walked aggresively and forced cars to slow down in order to yield to me. One car did try to stop me by honking its horn at me, but had to slow down which gave me no end of satisfaction. Even more gratifying was the fact that the driver of this car had forgotten to turn off his right turn indicator. I enjoyed how this gaffe gave me anecdotal evidence to continue in my belief that local drivers are both rude and stupid.


I stopped adding to my February notes sometimes before Valentine's Day. So, I am sad to report that I didn't do any blogging for two weeks. I will try to compensate for this by giving you a quick summary of these two or three weeks: It was the start of the grind where I had get up at 5:50 AM to drive Tony to school every morning, I taught classes to the brats at Big Bridge Primary School, I did not have not much free time on my days off because I had to drive Tony to extra classes and I had other chores imposed on me by my wife Jenny.


Comments?  Email me at andiskaulins@qq.com or andiskaulins@hotmail.com

Friday, February 3, 2017

January 2017 Notes

On the 1st day of 2017, the K family went to Hui Ju Mall, perhaps the biggest shopping center in Wuxi, China. Driving to the mall was fine until we got close to it and had to spend twenty minutes going down a stretch of road that normally could be covered in two minutes.

Chinese have nothing better to do on their holidays than go shopping. [And neither do I, it seems.]

I knew before we went that going to a shopping mall on a holiday in China was asking for trouble. It was so crowded. The best to said for our going was that I bought a pair of jeans at Old Navy for only 168 rmb. The first pair of Jeans I have ever bought in China! [I have been here since 2004]

The big crowds meant there were lineups at all the good restaurants in the mall. The place we wanted to go had a two hour lineup. So, we end up going to a faux German restaurant and had a meal that made one realize why it was so easy to get a seat there.


On the 2nd day of 2017, which was a holiday in China, my son Tony did homework and then did an online English test at 7:00 PM.

Hearing of the test, I told my wife Jenny that it was hard for me to keep my temper. What could be more absurd than for a teacher to give students an online test on a holiday? Jenny agreed but said that all the other parents agreed with the teacher.

What was wrong with the teacher I asked? I already knew what was wrong with the parents. [One child policy.]


Tony was back to school on January 3rd, a Tuesday.

It was a day off for me and I couldn't escape the feeling that I was wasting it. I was spending too much time on social media and too much time transferring videos from YouTube to Youku.

However, I did publish my December 2016 Notes. My impetus was seeing that John Derbyshire had published his.

We had avoided the nightmare that is picking up Tony from his school for a few months because someone else was taking Tony home. However that person had a baby in January so we had to pick Tony up from his school again.

The scene at Tony's school as they let the kids out is horrific. Everything that is wrong with mainland China can be witnessed then and there: the trash on the streets, the filth that is in the air and on everything, the uncouthness of its people, the stupid planning, the congestion compounded by the mainland Chinese ability to not think of anybody but themselves, the rampant materialism which is truly the worst of Capitalism and Communism combined, and rejection of a transcendent force in life.

I stood amidst it all, thinking foul and murderous thoughts and was even self-reflective enough to be ashamed of it. But the self-reflectiveness wasn't enough to stop me from losing it at a driver who didn't yield and made a right turn without looking. I was then stopped beside him at a light and honked my horn at twice to get his attention so I could give him a middle finger. He saw it but then turned away and stared ahead. He must have known he was in the wrong.

Really, I suppose I am fit to be tied. I want so much to be mellow but life and the people in China are so provoking.

Ominously, on January 3rd, I saw, in a silver Hyundai, this swarthy looking gentleman with whom I had a road rage incident. I was sure that he was the driver, who I had mentioned in an earlier blog entry, who had, one morning, done a cut off maneuver on me with his Hyundai to which I did a cut-off maneuver in retaliation before he thought he had gotten back at me by driving away in the bicycle lane.

I saw this guy and his car at our apartment complex gate as I walking to catch the bus. He was driving out of the complex. I stared at him and he stared back at me, but I was uncertain if it was because he remembered me from that morning or because I was a laowai and thus a rare sight.

I also saw a driver about to make a left turn with his left signal light on coming towards a flashing green light (Which means it is very pale and about to turn yellow.). It was not so unusual for I have seen a few – actually more than a few – local drivers use their turn signals properly. But then this driver reverted to local form. The driver decided he couldn't make the turn in time, came to a stop, and turned off the turn signal. It beats me why he didn't keep it on.


On the 4th day of 2017, I saw that David Warren opened his 2017 blogging year with a tribute to the economist Thomas Sowell. Sowell with his books and columns played a great part in making me conservative and reactionary . Sowell was great at explaining economics in a common sense way. He demonstrated how progressive policies could be used to damage the very people they sought to help, and how progressive policies could be used as weapons by illiberal people to further the causes of racism and segregation.

I tried to take photos and video at the intersection, which I had blogged about and where there was a yield sign, of drivers making right turns without looking and thus cutting off other drivers. I stood there for five minutes but got self-conscious about it and left with just a photo of the sign.


On the 5th day of January or, if you want, 2017, I am thinking that this entry will have 31 *'s (or 30 bullets actually). I mean to say that I will try to do an entry, a bullet point, for all 31 days of January. Of course that will make for what might seem disjointed entries which may span unrelated topics, but what the hay?

I am reading this book by Anthony Ensolen: Ten Ways to Spoil the Imagination of Your Child. It is a great read: gripping and very challenging. It may have clarify my thoughts about the Chinese Education system: not only what it does wrong but what it does right.

Thoughts about this will come to me through the month as I read the book and then contemplate it. [No, they didn't actually.]

I had four days off to begin January 2017. The result of which was that I felt as if I didn't take full advantage of them. One reason for this was that Tony was at school for two of these days. The other was that I didn't know what to do with myself. I did try to keep myself busy somewhat and so I did finish some personal tasks where I can say I know what to do with myself like get my December 2016 diary entry published, but I spent too much time doing stupid things like going to shopping malls and surfing aimlessly on the Internet.

I did watch, on my days off, a movie called the War Lover, starring Steve McQueen. I had read mention of it in John Derbyshire's December 2016 diary. Steve McQueen played a character who loved war and was having the time of his life in WW2. McQueen's portrayal, though interesting, made the War Lover seem more frustrated than gung-ho. The gung-ho aspect of the War Lover seemed more alluded than portrayed by McQueen. Perhaps the novel that the move was based on did a better job of showing this aspect of the character.


On the 6th day of January, I tried not to let a conversation I had with a student the evening before (that be the 5th), put me in a down mood. The topic of the salon class was the environment. The student John and I agreed that it was terrible in China. When we got on the topic of what could be done about it, the discussion got depressing. What I understood the student to say was that many in China were concerned about a quick buck and not the long term, that the Chinese Communist Party was not going to go away, and that it would take a hundred years to fix the environmental damage that had been caused (he was telling me that the true extent of the damage was being suppressed.)

A little tidbit that I got from that conversation was that there had been shots fired in Beijing between the Xi Jing Ping and Wen Jiabao factions but that it hadn't been reported

Oh! It's a curse to be living in interesting times.

Meanwhile, my reading of the Anthony Ensolen book was making me feel myself to be more of a dullard that I already suspected I was. Ensolen described things that seemingly simple hicks could do that would stump me if I tried them, like tasks mechanical and culinary.

I was thinking a thought, that I should have suppressed, on the 6th about my intention of wearing the new jeans I bought at Old Navy on New Year's Day. The thought was as follows: I should advertise to everyone in the office that I will be wearing my new jeans and that they would be subject to quite the treat.


On the 7th day of January, the K family went to see the new Star Wars movie: Rogue One. They went to a 9:15 PM showing at the Hui Shan Wanda Cinema multiplex. Cinema #2, where the movie was being shown, was not very crowded.

Tony & Andis enjoyed the film very much and were talking about when they would see it again.

As soon as Andis got home, he listened to podcasts reviewing the film and went on the internet to find reactions that he had been avoiding since the film debuted in North America on December 16th. The Federalist podcast was particularly gushing in admiration for film, echoing Andis' reaction to it.


On a WeChat group, just after midnight, Andis announced that he had seen the film and thought it was wonderful. Later on the 8th, he was disconcerted to read lukewarm reactions from other expats who had seen it. These nit-pickers hated the dialogue and said there was no character development and that it was full of fan-servicing without being original. While Andis would concede that the movie wasn't perfect and that the nit-pickers did have some valid criticisms, his overall impression that the movie was great fun to watch. He loved the characters portrayed by the Chinese stars, he loved the droid K2, he loved the climatic battle scenes, he loved the scene where Darth Vader was truly a force to deal with, and he loved the fan-servicing. Of the eight Star Wars films to date, Andis put it in the category of a good Star Wars movie, with four being good and four being not-so-good or awful (The four good ones, says Andis, are 4, 5, 7 and Rogue One; the four bad ones being thus 1, 2, 3 and 6.)

Tony liked it as well and seemed keen on watching it again.


Andis was reading Jennifer Keishin Armstrong's Seinfeldia on or about the 9th day of January. He had heard of the book from the Daily Shot, an email newsletter from the Ricochet site which advertises itself as a place for conversation among people who are of the center right to rightwards persuasion on the political spectrum. Seinfeldia tells the story of the making of the Seinfeld television series while providing many details about the people who made the show and the way the show changed the culture.

Like many, I was taken by the character Kramer. Something that I hadn't thought of was the “K” in Kramer. Being a Collins with a “K” and a person who will try to find some relationship with someone or something I like, I am disappointed with myself for not having, myself, thought about the “K” of Kramer. I should have latched onto it a long time ago. But I didn't. I will, however, latch onto it from now on because of this passage in Seinfeldia:

That plosive consonant K sound is known to be among the English language’s funniest phonemes. (H. L. Mencken argued this in The New Yorker; Neil Simon made this point in his play The Sunshine Boys.) They couldn’t resist.”

It is with great pride that I will spend the rest of my life, telling everyone how the plosive consonant K sound is known to be among the English language’s funniest phonemes.


On the 10th day of January, I was disappointed by Tony saying he didn't want to watch the Star Wars movie again. Asking him why, he told me he wanted to see another movie. Common sense in that I suppose. Tony has a habit of being his own person at times which I will have to accept.

As well, Jenny had a toothache and was in a bad mood, and I thought she was mad at me when she in fact wasn't mad at me at all but someone else.

I tried to put money on my transit card. I thought I had solved the problem, of the Family Mart stopping the service that allowed me to do this, when I learned I could go to a nearby Kedi instead. But then the machine at Kedi didn't work on the 10th. The clerk told me: mingtian.

Because I couldn't top up my transit card, I had to use cash to buy subway tickets. I thought it would be a great idea, since I was making a round trip costing two rmb each way, to buy two two-rmb tickets at the Nanchang Temple station to save myself the trouble of having to go to the ticket machine at the other station: the Qingmingqiao station. When I got to the Qingmingqiao station, did my duties around there and so was ready to return to Nanchang, I went to the entrance gate and tried to use the second ticket I had bought. I got a message telling me to go to the EFO station aka customer service. I learned from the guy sitting at the service desk that I couldn't use the ticket I had bought at Nanchang at Qingmingqiao. The ticket could only be used to enter at the station at which I had bought it. Who knew?

Joke: He is so rich that when his car runs out of gas, he throws it away and drives a new one.


11th day.

I was thinking about the pollution in China. Why hadn't I blogged about it? I just hadn't, till now.

I can't say that the air has affected my breathing. However, a colleague, who has only recently arrived in Wuxi from New York state, tells me that he finds the air to be horrible, affecting his eye sight and making it hard for him to breath.

I have been affected by the sight of thick smog in Wuxi though I do wonder how much of what looks like smog is really haze which I suspect is natural to this area anyway since it is a wet area with ponds and canals everywhere.

I have tried to wear a face mask but have been stopped by how it fogs up my eyeglasses.

Last evening, my doomsayer student John, who has good English, told me that despite the very bad smog in Beijing, the city's real estate prices have not gone down because everything important in China is in it like the best schools and the powerful government agencies. Xi Jing Ping and his minions aren't so affected by the smog as well, said John, because they have very expensive air cleaning machines in the Zhong Nan Hai compound that put the air to 2.5 PMC.

Students have told me that the pollution in Wuxi is drifting in from other places in China.

Exam Day for Tony. All the parents that know about primary school students having exams in Wuxi have been asking me about this.

Driving Tony to Exam Day, I saw that a car had hit an e-bike at a corner where drivers and e-bikers have to be very aware of each other's presence as there are many cars making turns through the paths of e-bikes. Unlike many other aftermaths of collisions between e-bikes and cars that I have seen, it looked like the car had run over the e-bike. [I posted a photo of this in my AKIC photo blog around the 10th of January.]

After an accident happens in Wuxi, the vehicles are not cleared until either the two parties involved come to an agreement about who compensates whom or usually until a policeman comes and has inspected the scene. So I passed the accident scene twice, before and after having dropped off Tony at school. The scene caused traffic congestion and traffic to slow down. As I was passing the scene, which was blocking one of the lanes which cars would turn into, the first time, I was bemused by one of the drivers behind me using his horns to try to get people to up their speed. Couldn't he see that there was an accident slowing traffic down?!?

Mingtian, now jintian, I was able to put money on my transit card at the Kedi.


The 12th day of January was a Thursday. Why I should mention the day of the date? I don't know.

The evening before, I had had a salon class (a conversation class really) about divorce. All of the students testified to knowing someone who was divorced. One student told me how her friend had gotten divorced because of having fallen love with another man. Her friend then married the other man and she told me that they were now a happy couple. I couldn't get it out of the student how the first husband felt about it. Another student told me that her parents had divorced in the past year. She was not upset about it. The divorce was something that she had been expecting for a long time. Answering my questions, she said the divorce happened because they were fighting too much. She blamed her father and was happy for her mother.

It seemed like no one in the class thought marriage was sacred and inviolable.

Thursday the 12th was Tony's last day of school before his winter vacation. I was almost happy as him because I could now get up later in the morning for a month or so. I had to get up at 5:50 AM in order to get ready to take Tony to school.

Driving back from dropping Tony off, I was stopped in the left turn lane at an intersection on the corner of our apartment complex. I was in front of the line, having decided to stop as the left turn green light had started blinking meaning it was pale. A van behind me drove around me and made a left turn completely ignoring the red left turn light. In Canada, I would have been astounded but here my reaction was almost blasé. Drivers of mini vans in China seem to think of themselves as cyclists and e-bikers and therefore immune to having to obey traffic signals. It was a perfect indication that China has no firm and set rule of law, and is in a fact a very corrupt place.

My commute now involves me taking the 25 bus to the Xi Zhuang metro station where I catch the train to get downtown and to the school where I work. To get to the platform at Xi Zhuang station, I take an elevator. This elevator only stops at two floors but it beats having to walk a long way around to get to an escalator, which I will use at all other stations. I was the first on the elevator and then two others quickly got on with me. As I pressed the button to get to the second floor and waited for the door to close, I wondered if one of the other passengers would press the close door button. A woman then did so even though it didn't make the door close any faster. I was perturbed and wished I could have taken a video. I imagined that if I had had someone to speak with, I would have made a “Did you see that!” comment. As it was, I made a slight guffaw.

I have met people who tell me that they read my blog though I haven't gotten any comments in a long time. I have closed the comment section but left a message telling potential comment makers to email me. I have decided that from now on I will make a plea for comments by putting my email address at the end of my blog entries. The first blog entry in which I did this was for my entry listing the movies and series that I watched in 2016. This got me one comment which said that I had been too generous in giving the Angry Birds movie, which I had seen in the cinema with Tony, two stars out of five as a rating. The movie was crap said the commentator. To this, I would say that I agreed with the commentator but the I gave the film an extra star for the animation.


Friday the 13th.

All peace, I read in a Nicholas Gomez Davillia aphorism, is bought with vile acts. I thought to myself how true, especially in my life. But I won't go into that. Instead, I will reflect on a peace that many know about that has been bought with vile acts.

Which one? I 'll give you a clue. It involves China. Mainland China.

The peace the civilized world has maintained with the People's Republic of China has been one bought with vile acts. There were the Americans who – though not fully – threw Taiwan under the bus when they sought to establish a relationship with the mainlanders. And then there have been all the businessmen and governments the world over who in the pursuit of money have chosen to ignore the vile and illiberal doings of Chicom governance.

If Trump violates the balance of the quasi peace around the Southeastern Asia area, it would be because he had backbone and wasn't tethered by a politician's need to gloss over issues of contention that would require courage to take on.

Tony and Jenny saw movie Hacksaw Ridge yesterday evening. He told me he liked it very much and still wasn't interested in seeing Rogue One a second time.

There is a game Tony likes to play very much on the computer called Ravenfield. Said to be a battlefield simulator game, Ravenfield has simple graphics with realistic battle situations. I mean you see the enemy and it is killed or be killed. Tony learned about the game on Youtube and told me to download it.


My VIP student told me that he was worried about the current generation of Chinese kids being raised. He said they were spoiled, little emperors as it were.

On the 14th , we will be having my school's annual Spring Festival dinner. I have heard that it will be at a place that we have held many a previous Spring Festival dinner and so, I am not looking forward to it. The food they serve at this place is pretty dull and there is never any beer to drink, only some cheap wine.

Tony & Jenny won't be accompanying me to the dinner. Jenny has vowed never to go to these school dinners anymore and Tony would have gone had he not had swimming lessons to go to because Jenny pre-paid for a whole slew of them.


The 15th. Sunday.

The previous evening's company dinner was about what I expected. The food was so-so. They didn't serve beer, only wine.

However, the company was okay. Eric and Edward, both Americans, seem to be good guys. Not given to vice or strong held but silly political stances as many previous trainers.

And there was a band playing that was actually quite good and one felt cheated that they only performed a few Chinese and English pop songs. But they had to make way for the parade of amateurs.

We took our car to the Wanda parking garage in the afternoon. I prefer walking to this nearby mall, especially on a weekend because it gets so crowded and parking is more of a chore than a convenience for me. But Jenny had coupons for parking.

It turned out I was right to think it would be a hassle because as we were driving to a desired parking spot in the garage (close to an office of someone we knew), we got stuck in a traffic jam. The cars in front of us didn't move for a few minutes. Jenny & Tony got out of the car leaving me to fend on my own. It would take me fifteen minutes to finally park the car. Jenny phoned me to tell that the cause of the jam was a big fight near the exit pay gate. After finally parking the car, I witnessed the scene. There was a crowd of forty or so people, many of whom were screaming. Half of the crowd consisted of security guards or policemen. Some of them were jostling with gray-haired civilians. I can only speculate what the cause of the commotion was, but it was the largest public spat that I had ever seen in my time in China.

I sometimes wonder if I hate China. I do find myself making loathing thoughts about it. But, there are things I like about China. To defend against charges that I thoroughly hate the Chinese, I will say that my attitude to China would of someone having a dear female friend who is beautiful in many ways, but is in a relationship with a batterer or a pimp. You want so much for this woman to escape but she won't. She passively puts up with the batterer, she grows insane on account of the beatings, she takes his flowers and trinkets gratefully, she adopts the mindset of her tormenter and is losing her soul.


The 16th was a Monday.

I felt depressed in the morning. Don't know if it was life or a chemical imbalance that was weighing down on me.

But I felt better when I took Tony to his school in the morning. I dropped him off at his school at 8:20 AM. As I walked him to the gate, Tony said we had gotten there early. There was practically no cars around the school. I was to come pick up him at 9:45 AM. He was going for the short time to see the results of the 'big” end of term exams he wrote last week.

He did not do so well. He got 92 in his English test [an English test designed by Chinese so I am not in a knot about him not getting 100.], 67 in Math and 24 in China. Jenny may be irate.


While waiting for Tony, I got a coffee at a nearby Starbucks. Walking to the place, I saw and photographed a nice traffic jam. (The picture is in my photo wordpress blog.)

I then drove back to his school so I could explore the park (still under construction) that is across the road from his school. Approaching the school, I saw that Tony was right to say I had gotten him there very early. There was now a traffic jam and I had to park the Kaulins Citroen a long way from the school. Still, I had plenty of time to take a leisurely walk with my Starbucks in hand around the park.

The park had many pathways in it, one of which took me under a freeway, past what looked like a rice paddy and along a canal with long barge boat traffic. It was a place I had been to before with Tony when he wasn't being made to go to school. I enjoyed the first time I went to the place and enjoyed it more the second time. I took many photos which you can see at my wordpress photo blog.

Later, the K family went to Ikea and bought a new and bigger study desk for Tony. I spent the evening after dinner putting it together. As with all my Ikea assemblies, one little detail didn't quite work and the furniture didn't seem as solid as it had in the showroom.

The matchups in the NFL semifinals don't impress me. One of four remaining teams is the Falcons: a franchise I loathe. I disappointed to see that the Chiefs got beat out by the Steelers. And don't get me going about the Patriots. Boring they are! Why did they have to change their uni designs? I much preferred the red ones they originally wore to the silver and blue they have been donned in their glory era.


The 17th was a Tuesday which was my Monday. (I work Tuesday to Saturday) I come to work feeling I didn't do enough leisurely things on my days off. I work harder and make more sighs from exertion on my days off than I do at work. What keeps me busy? Tidying up the house and tasks like putting Tony's desk together.

Besides teaching classes this week, I will have some primary school lessons to plan.

Three more days of Obama being President.

Getting back to school, the streets seemed more annoying because of lots of kids not going to school. I became aware of this as I was getting off the train at Nanchang station. They tell riders over and over again that they should let passengers get off the train before they board. Today, there was a kid who expected me to get out his way as he was boarding on the train. I didn't abide him.

My first class of the week, I had a one-on-one class with a teenage student. He walked into the class with a slack manner and when he answered my questions, he mumbled and babbled at low volume. A colleague had complained about him and said he had a bad attitude. I then had him in a class with a few other students and I could had seen why my colleague didn't have a favorable opinion of him. I wasn't too happy to see him today. So when my attempts at conversation were meet with what I perceived as insolence, I, as the expression goes, really tore into him. I told him to stop mumbling. I told him to speak in full sentences in a volume that allowed me to hear him. I asked, sarcastically, if he was on drugs, and told him that his manner was such that one would think he was. I let him sit for five minutes without talking to him. I rattled the kid so much that he was sobbing after the class... Whether I was giving him a valuable life lesson that he very much needed or just picking him because I was having a bad day is a question that I mulled over the rest of day. I suspect that it was for both reasons. I am certainly not consistent in expecting more of my students and laying down the line with them.


It rained on the 18th and so for the second day in a row I went to school in a dark mood.

About a week ago, I noticed a vehicle, parked on the narrow side street beside our school, with two parking tickets stickers stuck on its driver side window. I took a photo of the SUV and published it in my photo blog. Seeing this White Haval SUV then became a daily occurrence and I noticed all sorts of additional details. This vehicle also had two parking stickers stuck on the passenger side window. The vehicle was always parked at a spot near the entrance to the back parking area of the building complex in which our school is located. One day, the vehicle was parked at the same spot but facing in the other direction. I reported these sightings to my colleagues and to students who attended one of my speakers' corners. I even tried to introduce the expression “What's up with that?” to the students as I wondered who the driver was and what his story was.

Well, today, I saw the vehicle and the driver as I was coming to school. The driver was a male with glasses, probably in his late twenties or thirties. He appeared very nondescript, looking like half the Chinese men I see on the train and driving other vehicles. He was in his vehicle and was driving his vehicle from the side street beside our school to Zhongshan Road. He was fleeing the policeman who was walking down the side street to ticket cars parked on that side street. This sighting destroyed my theory that the driver was keeping the stickers on his vehicle to ward off getting more tickets.

My theory now is that he is lazy. That is, too lazy to scrape the stickers off his windows.

I would further theorize that he had connections who could help him get out of paying a fine, but then I have to ask why it was that he was fleeing the parking ticket cop.

An opinion piece that I read that was critical of Trump's declaring that he would make the pharmaceutical companies lower their drug prices got me to thinking long and hard about my father's death. The column by one Megan McArdle said that one of the options, governments or hospitals have in negotiating prices with drug companies is to walk away from the negotiations, like foreigners at fake good markets walk away from hawkers as a tactic in bargaining a price for some piece of clothing. This tactic if used in dealing with drug companies could result in patients not getting some life-extending treatment. McArdle then said it was a dirty secret that single payer systems like the NHS in Great Britain use this tactic all the time, thus denying life saving medicines to some patients. I wondered if this is what happened with my father's death.

First let me tell you my reflections on my father's death. It is a condemnation of our Medicare system, but also me. My behavior at my father's death is something of which I am not proud and would be something I think that I would have to answer for on Judgement day. Why? Two reasons. Firstly, I wanted him to die on schedule. I only had three weeks and the thought of having to delay my return back to China and the cost that that would entail was something I wanted to avoid. Secondly, when the doctor came to tell us his prognosis was not good and that it wasn't worth the expense to keep him drugged up and living, I cowardly demurred to my brother and mother when they gave us the option of keeping him or not keeping him on life support. I demurred saying that by being so far away in China, I had no right to decide what to do in this situation. But, even then, there was a feeling that the doctor wanted us to pull the plug to save money. I said nothing. I was on my schedule, you see. I should have made an effort to extend his life.

Say what you like about Trump. He can be vulgar and a boar. But he would never speak a sentence like the one Xi Jing Ping said in a speech to the world whatever conference in Davos. Here is the report from the English language People's Daily:

Blaming economic globalization for the world's problems is inconsistent with reality and unhelpful to solving the problems, Xi said, underlining the need to act pro-actively and manage economic globalization appropriately, so as to release its positive impact and rebalance its process.

All that can be said about what Xi said in the above passage is that it is a bunch of gooblygook. What, for instance, is with this expression inconsistent with reality? Consistency to me means that one is pursuing a course of action or a flow of thought where the elements of this course do not contradict each other. That is, you do AAAAAAA in sequence, not ABABABA where A and B contradict each other. In the above passage, there are two parallel courses of thought going on here, or so says Xi. That is, there is the blaming and there is the reality. If, from what I take Xi to mean, the blaming is BBBBBBBB and the reality is AAAAAAAA, it can be said that they clearly contradict each other, but are they inconsistent with each other? The blaming sequence I believe Xi has posited is consistent. Reality being what it is, I don't think it can be consistent or inconsistent. The things that make up reality can be consistent or inconsistent, but not I think Reality in itself. Reality cannot contradict itself so there is no way it can be inconsistent. For something to be consistent, it must be capable of being inconsistent. Reality can't consist of elements that are not real and can thus contradict it. So how can a thing which is consistent in itself be inconsistent with reference to a thing that is not an element of itself? Xi should have said that Critics of Globalization are wrong or have been consistently wrong.

You could say that it doesn't matter, Xi's meaning using inconsistent with reality is apparent enough. But this misuse of English is clearly trying to mask a diabolical intent. It reveals a desire for bureaucratic domination by appealing to the bureaucratic types who enjoy using highfaluting and meaningless language. Just continue reading the passage...


The 19th.

Last evening, Tony was laughing loudly as he watched an episode of Seinfeld. Tony thought a diatribe towards Jerry, over a unreturned book, made by a Library Book Detective named Bookman was particularly funny.

I had an one-on-one class with a student named Fiona who had stories to tell me of her time working in Dubai. She worked in a restaurant in many service capacities serving people from all over the world. She served Arabs wearing their traditional head dress and robes. She served Muslim woman wearing clothing that covered every part of their bodies including their faces, leaving two little openings for their eyes. Dubai, she said, had a beautiful downtown with tall buildings, but get out of this rich area and Dubai is not so wonderful.

In fact, Fiona's time in Dubai was not so wonderful. They treated her and her co-workers like slaves, making them work long shifts and sometimes twenty hour days. They would be told to go to bed and then woken up four hours later to get back to work. Dubai people, Dubaibians(?) are so rich that they can bring in workers from all over the world to perform service and menial tasks. Some of Fiona's co-workers were from India and the Philippines.

I will tell you about my podcast habits. Seeing how I have published blog entries about my video watching and book reading habits, I might as well tell you about my podcast listening habits.

I listen to a lot of American political podcasts. I regularly listen to the Three Martini Podcast, a political podcast from National Review. Each episode of TMP is never more that 15 or 20 minutes long: the length of my commute to work. I catch every episode of Radio Derb, a weekly podcast of political and cultural commentary done by John Derbyshire, a former National Review contributor who now writes for V-Dare. I also listen to many of the podcasts, when I am able to download them, that are put out by the Ricochet web site including their weekly flag ship podcast, Need to Know with Mona Charen and Jay Nordlinger, Mad Dogs and Englishmen with Kevin Williamson and Charles C. Cooke, The Law Podcast with Richard Epstein and Radio Free Delingpole.

I listen to religious podcasts. From EWTN, I like to listen to Mother Angelica classics and the Journey Home about Catholic converts. I have been listening, again when I can download it, the First Things podcasts

I like listening to history podcasts. I am working my way through podcasts about the history of the South American revolutions and the Decline of the Roman Empire. There is a podcast, that seems interesting, called Great Lives Tragic deaths, that purports to be historical, but is presented in such a politically slanted way (progressive, cultural Marxist), that I am thinking of giving it up, interesting as its episode subjects can be.

I like listening to podcasts about true crime. Now, I am listening to Stranglers, a podcast about the Boston Strangler, and Crimetown, a podcast about crime in selected communities of America. I given some other crime podcasts a try, like Unsolved Murders, but the acting is awful and off-putting.

And finally, I want to tell you that I listen to the Gilbert Gottfried's Amazing Colossal Podcast. I like it for its humor and its nostalgic look at movies and tv shows from the past. The podcast sometimes has guest interviews and sometimes the hosts of the shows talk about subjects that strike their fancy. Some of the interviews are great and some I can't be bothered to listen all the way through like one they did with the pretentious Bob Costas and others involving actors complaining about the Hollywood black list. You know. Most of Stalin's victims didn't survive to complain about their treatment!

I just saw the SUV with four parking tickets stuck on its windows. It was parked in its usual spot. I can espy the vehicle from a stairwell that I can get to from a backdoor of my school; so I am three floors above street level and don't have to go outside to check on the vehicle. It was interesting today that I saw two pairs of passersby stopped to examine the tickets that were on the SUV. One pair looked at the tickets stuck on the passenger side window, another pair examined the tickets stuck on the driver's side.


The 20th of January. The date of President Trump's inauguration. I have a feeling that it could be the greatest show on Earth, this Trump presidency. I hope there will be lots for me to cheer.

It is even nicer to see the end of Obama's tenure. Take away his superficialities, and I say that there was nothing to him. To me, he was an annoying liberal progressive cultural marxist with horrible policy ideas and a self-regard that was proportional to the unsoundness of his world view. Unfortunately, his departure from the White House is not the last we will have to hear from people who sound and think like him. Their hysterical gibberings will be the constant background noise of the Trump presidency.

But that is the way of the world, a lot of it is crazy and there is not much that sensible people can do about it. It's why we need religion, aside from the fact that it might be true.

Yesterday, I forgot to tell you about four other podcasts that I listen to regularly. One of these is the Andrew Klavan Daily Wire podcast. Andrew Klavan is a fellow bearer of the initials AK who is more importantly a conservative. I find his take on politics to be interesting and humourous. His podcast is also peppered with some of the more interesting political soundbites of the day. The second one that I forgot to mention is the Commentary podcast featuring John Podhoretz. It is a podcast featuring political commentary from a conservative, Jewish, neo-conish and slightly anti-Trumpish perspective. Podhoretz also appears on the GLOP Culture podcast hosted by the Ricochet site. On GLOP, I listen to political and cultural musing from Podhoretz, Jonah Goldberg and Rob Long. And the maybe the last – there might be more – that I forgot to mention yesterday is, or I should rather say are, the Weekly Standard Podcasts: again, more political commentary.


Saturday the 21st, Wuxi's weather got colder with lows going below zero celsius. To deal with the cold I put on an extra layer: a sweater which I put on top of the shirt. On top of the sweater I wore a hoodie. The jacket I wear outside is not so thick. It seems I am cursed if I wear a heavier jacket because, sure as China is corrupt, I will overheat.

My teeth are in a bad way. They're yellow with no chance of ever being white again. Many of them are horribly decayed. After I eat, I have chew gum or swirl my mouth with water to remove the food that does get stuck in the cavities and the jagged remnants of the teeth I do have.

Trump was inaugurated early Saturday morning, Chinese time. Two years ago, I would have thought it wasn't possible. But at least I had heard of him. In January 2006, I probably hadn't heard of a guy named Barack Obama.

Trump's inconceivable election to the presidency was the result of Bill Clinton getting away with screwing an intern and then the election of an obscure Illinois politician who had no qualifications to be president. Bill Clinton coarsened the culture and Barack Obama lowered the bar for who could be president. Therefore, the Democrats who are responsible for these two events of the last quarter century, have only themselves to blame for the fact that Trump's election was possible.


Sunday, the 22nd was a day off for me. I slept in till 9:00 AM which is late for me to be rising. I spent the morning, via my VPN router, downloading Firing Line videos from Youtube and uploading them to Youku, the Chinese Youtube. Incredibly, these videos featuring William F Buckley, the arch American conservative have been allowed to be shown on Youku.

Yesterday, I really tore into a student for her saying that she didn't want to go to America because it was unsafe with all its guns. It was a lie I told her. Guns make for a safer and freer society, I said, and she guffawed at the suggestion. In China where ordinary citizens are not allowed to have guns, I told her, they cannot defend themselves against the whims of their government. [I should have mentioned the Chenguan] There is more danger to human lives from Chinese drivers, I concluded, than American guns.

The K family will go downtown to get haircuts today. I am hoping that I can shave all my hair off, be bald, because the bald spot in the back of my head looks more and more stark whenever a photo is taken of me from behind. Cruelly – or maybe not so cruelly, I suppose there are two ways of looking at this – I can't see this bald spot when I look in the mirror or see photos of myself taken from the front.


January 23rd.

China annoys. Better to say this than to speak of having a China day. It seems to me that many foreigners like to blame their bad days on their being in China when the fact is life is annoying wherever you are in the world.

Still some peculiar things about China annoy me. This five thousand year old civilization they say it has must surely have been island of refinement in a sea of barbaric ignorance. Either that or the Chicoms have totally destroyed all vestiges of Chinese civilizational refinement.

I say this after two petty kind of occurrences this morning. Firstly, I was on the elevator, on the first floor, which was to go down to the minus one (-1) floor. As the door was almost closed, it was opened by a typically slovenly dressed Chinese peasant male who was probably in his forties. He had a lit cigarette in his hand. He pressed the button for the tenth floor. It took a few seconds for it to dawn on him that the elevator was going to go down first. The elevator went down. I muttered idiot! as I exited. This sort of thing happens so often in China on elevators. I then took an escalator and saw a similar demographic of Chinese male ahead of me. This man was standing in the middle of the escalator with his hands holding onto to both sides so that he was blocking anyone who might want to pass him. In more civilized countries, people will stand to one side to allow people in a hurry to pass. Of course, escalators are a relatively new technology in China, and many Chinese may never have ridden one before and are thus unrefined about it. This guy looked like he was holding on for his life.

Anyway, I can understand why some places outside of China have made attempts to segregate Mainland Chinese tourists from other tourists.

I never did get the baldness I desired. As soon as we we were in the hair salon, Jenny changed her tune about my getting my head completely shaved. “We will make it a little bald!” she said. It turned out that what she thought was a little bald, was not close enough to bald in my books. As the hair-stylist started snipping at my hair with scissors, when he should have been using sheers, I was debating whether I should explode in anger. It is my habit, unfortunately, to go along with things while all the while I fume inside. I did, however, this time, say something alone the lines of “Hey!, they are going to make me bald? Right?” and Jenny responded by saying “a little bald” and telling me to just see what they were going to do. And what they tried to do was basically give me the same hairstyle I had been getting and wanting so much to not get anymore: the one where I look in the mirror and see hair without being able to see the big gaping bald spot which does stand out when you look at photos of me taken from behind.

It had been Jenny's commenting on the standing out of the big gapping bald spot in photos that had given me hope that she would acquiesce to my doing what I have always wanted to do and have a completely shaven head. But when push came to shove, she didn't. I had to insist over her opposition and that of the hair stylists that they cut my hair short. It still wasn't as short as I wanted it.

Jenny said that short hair made me look like a criminal. I responded that I didn't want to look like a politician. Now that I think of it, I should have added that Xi Jing Ping doesn't shave his head as do probably all the members of the Chinese politibureau. What is Jenny talking about when she says that criminals shave their head? They don't, as far as I can tell.


January 24th.

I had a body checkup this morning. Jenny is getting me some kind of medical insurance.

During the checkup, I had to do my blood pressure test twice. First time, Jenny got me annoyed and got my blood pressure rising.


January 25th. Second last day of work before the Spring Festival holiday starts for me.

I entered the school about 9:00 AM. I support explain that the entrance to our school is on ground level and that you then have to walk two sets of stairs to get to the level where our classrooms, library and offices are. At the entrance level, there are some chairs on which passersby can sit. This morning, I saw a teenage male, who could have been a student or a passerby, sitting at the entrance eating an ice cream cone. I wanted to slap the pig.

I am not looking forward to the holiday. Expats who can flee China for the duration of the Spring Festival holiday. I don't need to flee, and I find it amusing that those who do flee often brag how much they like China. They're like the Canadians who are so proud to be Canadian but flee to the Mexico and the Southern states in January and December. I would just be happy if I didn't have to go to the hometown for the holiday. I would rather just stay in Wuxi. Going to the hometown means having to deal with traffic getting to the hometown as well as seeing and listening to all the fireworks. It means having to miss the few comforts that make living in China tolerable like Wifi and the VPN router.

Do the Chinese believe in education? They say they do but I think that most of them are mistaken and that they in fact believe in schooling.

Idea for an SPC: Education and Schooling. Question: Chinese don't believe in education. They really believe in schooling.

Further thoughts on the phrase “inconsistent with reality” which was used in passage from the People's China Daily that I quoted earlier this month. I thought that Marxists of Xi Jing Ping's irk believed that reality was just a construct. I am sure that that is what post-modernists like Derrida would say. But it further proves to me that what Xi Jing Ping was quoted as saying in that passage was nothing but gobblygook and mamby-pamby bureaucratspeak meant to sound like it was saying something important when in fact it signified nothing and was only meant for the consumption of globalists who just want power.


January 26th is the last day I work in the year of the Monkey. If reflect back on it, it really was the year of the Monkey for me, seeing how I had so much time dealing with Mainland Chinese primary schools and Mainland Chinese drivers.

I am born in the year of the Dragon on the day before Christmas. So I love to tell everyone that I share zodiac signs with Jesus Christ and Bruce Lee.

I will present some despairing thoughts about Spring Festival. I blog them not because I believe them but because they have crossed my mind:
  • It lacks soul because like China, it has been ravaged by Communism and unbridled greed-driven materialistic Capitalism. [Communism is actually a very materialistic philosophy.]
  • I feel like a loser because I am unable to get out of China for the holiday like many other Expats do.
  • Chinese family dinners bore the hell out of everyone involved. Most of those attending, especially the younger ones are looking at their smart phones to while away the time.
  • You can't do anything during Chinese New Year where you cannot escape the crowds if you are with a party of Chinese people. A foreigner, left to his own devices, can walk in places where there are no Chinese or Chinese won't go, and enjoy peace and quiet.
  • Chinese are perfectly content to sit around and do nothing during the Spring Festival.

Student named Tony told me a great anecdote about a classmate who cut a ballpoint pen in two and had ink splatter on his face. It took the student thirty minutes to scrub off the ink.


The 27th was the day before Chinese New Year.

The K family drove to Jenny's hometown which might be called Beixin or might be called Xinjie. [Andis had assumed it was Beixin but when he drives to it, the turnoff sign calls it Xinjie.] The drive was not so bad. Traffic came to a slowdown but never to a grinding halt. Andis did make the mistake of trying to go through a ETC gate at the toll area. The gate didn't open and so he had to back up, thus forcing the cars behind him to reverse as well.

To while away the time, Andis went for a walk on the main street. He noticed that he was the only person walking. Everyone else was either in a car or some form of two or three wheel transport.

He spent the rest of the afternoon smoking cigarettes or wasting time on the social app WeChat. He sent everyone he knew a sticker in which he was making the gongxi gesture. He also posted some memes from the People's Cube site to the foreigner WeChat group of which he was a member. It was his way of responding to all the anti-Trump gibberish that he had been seeing the past few days.

The dinner at the in-laws was a simple affair. There was no brawl as there had been the year before, because the family of the brother who had initiated the brawl didn't come. [Apparently, they hadn't reconciled with Baba.]


Chinese New Year's Day: January 28th.

Around midnight, I heard lots of fireworks. I woke up the next morning to find that the K family Citroen was covered in fireworks debris, much to my annoyance.

Chinese New Year's Day has so far been a dull affair. I have spent too much posting pointless messages to WeChat. I have snacked on food and smoked cigarettes all day. I have had a two hour nap. I have gone for a drive with Tony during which I drove on a crowded street full of people who had nothing better to do with themselves but do some shopping in the few stores that were open on the holiday. I had to park on that street because I had promised Tony I would buy him a toy. I was impressed at how calm I was with backing out onto a street with so many cars and e-bikes and pedestrians. I now park like a New Yorker or a Chinaman now: if there is a spot I just take it. I also drove on the countryside, Sinatra playing on the music player. There really wasn't much to see in the countryside except lots of sameness. The area is basically flat and interspersed with some canals. The fields, the homes and the buildings have an annoying uniformity to them. When we came back from the drive, Jenny decided that we would drive to some relatives. I let her drive. It was her first time driving in her home area. She drove us to the poor relatives. I took some photos of them. The grandfather had a peasant oldness to him which makes for great photographs.


January 29th was the second day of the Chinese New Year. The K family spent it in three places: Beixin, Taizhou and Wuxi.

We woke up in Beixin.

About 11:00 AM or so, we, that is the three K's and some other relatives, drove to Taizhou. It was a two car convoy with the Citroen following a White Nissan Tilda driven by Jenny's cousin Jill's husband. To get to Taizhou, we drove on some minor roads that had single lanes going in opposing directions. Driving I found annoying because we couldn't just cruise down the roads. One has to constantly swerve to avoid slower moving vehicles like e-bikes and three wheeled pedicabs, all the while having to sometimes slow down for cars coming from the opposite direction which were in turn swerving to avoid e-bikes and the like.

Despite these constant annoyances, I was able to observe the scenery we were passing. Sadly, I have to report it wasn't pretty. It was monotonous and drab. Lots of concrete buildings, factories and homes that could benefit from good washings, new coats of paint or an end of neglect. This area is still relatively poor, I thought. But then I got to an area that looked to have been built as a result of the 2008 stimulus. I suddenly saw wide three lane roads with smooth pavement, new looking buildings like I see in the Hui Shan district area I call home, elevated roads and pedestrian overpasses. Nicer than what I had just seen but like all Chinese construction, it was very incongruous with its surroundings.

If you can avoid it in China, don't be the following car in a two car convoy where the driver of the lead car is Chinese. Cousin Jill's husband was a Chinese driver with Chinese driving habits. So he had a maddening habit of racing through pale green lights at intersections. I wasn't going to run a red so I stopped causing our convoy to get separated. Jill's husband also liked to drive in the bicycle lane. One instance, he made a left turn at an intersection and then drove into the bicycle lane so that we were driving on the left hand side of the road (China is like North America in that they drive on the right hand side.) against the flow of traffic. We did this for a block until we got to the next controlled intersection. Its light was red and so I was stopped behind him wondering what the hell he was doing. When the light turned green, he sped into the intersection, at an angle, to cross it and get back onto the right hand side of the road. He hadn't put on his turn signals, so his maneuver was a surprise to me. Seeing the other cars starting to speed up and enter the intersection, I wasn't going to imitate his maneuver. The result was that we got completely separated.

Thanks to mobile phone technology, we were able to join up again. And we went to a restaurant where tables had been reserved for a Chinese New Year dinner. The place was packed and I was the only laowai among a horde of swarthy drably dressed locals. The food was standard local fare only remarkable in that ten more plates of it came out after everyone had lost their appetites. There was a teetering pile of food on the tables that I would have photographed if I hadn't forgotten my phone at the in-laws.


It's the 30th of January and I haven't finished telling any readers, who have stayed with me this far, what I did on the 29th.

After the meal in the packed restaurant in Taizhou, we drove to another place in Taizhou where there was a touristy style open air market. There were booths selling meat cooked on coals, cheap toys, and other souvenirs. It was crowded with people but after walking through it for ten minutes, it suddenly came to an end and it was decided to go back to Beixin for dinner.

After dinner, we drove back to Wuxi. It was a good thing we did it that night because we avoided having to pay tolls. They don't charge tolls at holiday time. The drive was fine and I can't recall being annoyed at any other drivers so much that I felt compelled to blog about what they might have done.

First thing we did when we got back to Casa K was clean all our clothes and jackets. They always reek of smoke whenever we come back from Beixin.

It has been nice to be back in Wuxi. Our area is quiet. Most people in our complex have gone to their hometowns for the Spring Festival.

This evening, we went to the Mix CC mall for the first time. Not much I can tell you about it except it is another one of those big malls constructed in Wuxi after the financial crisis. I doubt if we will return to it very often. There is nothing in it that isn't in Hui Ju.

About 10:00 PM, I heard news of a shooting at a Mosque in Quebec. Six killed and fifteen injured I believe. Two men were under arrest but not much had been revealed about their identities. The authorities, it seems, have become reluctant to identify them; and so people eagerly await and hope that the perpetrators of the deed are of such an ethnicity as to be able to score political points against their opponents. Progressives are hoping the suspects are white males and Conservatives are cheering for the suspects to be Muslims.


Last day of January. There are 31 [or should I say thirty one] days in January. So, I'll leave it to you rare reader(s) to figure out the date at which I purport to have written this final bullit [or is that bullet?] point of this blog entry.

So, it turned out that the shooter at the Quebec Mosque was not an Moslem. And it appears that he acted alone. And the people making a show of tears about it are probably secretly glad it happened because now they feel they can attack Trump and any other perceived political enemy. All I get out of this is that Western culture has a death wish. It mostly doesn't believe in Christianity and is rarely serious about it when it does. It doesn't believe in defending itself. It is having a civil war with itself when it should be defending itself. And it gets joy out of mass murders – this applies to both sides of its civil war.

Really, I should ignore the politics as much as I can. But I am addicted to following it, having given up on following sports. I feel this despair because voices that I find clear-headed and intelligent when commenting on Trump – voices from the reactionary and conservative part of the political spectrum or the political cartesian grid – say contradictory things about Trump. And it seems that most of the people I am in contact with in Wuxi hate Trump. I just don't see how the controversy is going to end well, but perhaps it is necessary in some way.

I should really embrace Christianity and think more about comedy; just be above it all.

The last evening of January 2017, the Kaulins family went to the downtown of Wuxi. On the 11th floor the Hui Jin Building, which is next to the Ba Bai Ban building, we went to a place which offers living rooms for rent with nice sofas and easy chairs on which to watch movies which are projected on screens that cover one entire wall. I didn't so much watch movies as read Don Quixote on my Ipad Mini. But I very much enjoyed being able to lie on the sofas. I'd go to the place again.

I very much enjoy making GIF stickers that can be used in social media apps like WeChat. The past few days, I have created stickers using the character Kramer from Seinfeld. This evening, I made stickers using the plaintive cries of “Stella!” and “Elaine!” from the films A Streetcar Named Desire and The Graduate.

That's it. If you want to make comments on this entry or other entries or mine you have come across, to get some of the my GIF sticker creations, or to get a PDF copy of the compilation of Don Colacho (Nicholas Gomez Davillia) aphorisms I have made, you can email me at andiskaulins@qq.com or andiskaulins@hotmail.com.