Sunday, December 10, 2017

Traffic Jam in front of Casa Kaulins in Wuxi, China

42 Seconds of Tony & Andis at the Hui Shan Train Station

45 Seconds of Tony & Andis at the Hui Shan Train Station

Sunday, December 3, 2017

November 2017 Diary

Comments about my blog or general enquiries can be sent to andiskaulins@qq.com or andiskaulins@hotmail.com.

* * * * *

The first major news story of November was the Terrorist attack in New York City where the Islamist rented a truck to mow down cyclists.  I mentioned it to the students and one of them said she was glad in live in China.  I could only wonder to myself about where she got her news.

* * * * *

November is going to be my no WeChat month.  (I mentioned what I will be not doing at the end of my October entry.) There are two reasons I am doing this.  The first is that I realize I have been wasting lots of time looking at the app.  The second is this compulsion I have always had to re-enforce my isolation from others.  That is, to further keep myself alone from others.

I will make a log, written in the present tense, but how I am getting along with this vow.

As of November 2, I have looked at WeChat once but I haven't looked at any group postings or moments posting.  Moving the WeChat icon away from the home bottom App row of my Iphone screen has so far helped me with this vow.  So, I have avoided accidentally getting onto WeChat.

It is November 7th.  I wish I could make a posting about the 100th anniversary of the Bolshevik Coup in Russia, but I made a commitment and I must stick to it.  It's not like anyone cares what I think about that event.  [No responses to my plea at the end of the October 2017 entry for correspondents.  So it looks like I will have to be a correspondent with a better and more-listened-to blogger.]

On or about the weekend of 11/11:  Remembrance Day (single's day in China), I decided to extend my WeChat moratorium from a month to forty days.  I was listening to a podcast where the host sought to explain a duration of not podcasting by stating he had spend forty days in the wilderness.  He obviously got this line from the Bible and the forty days spent in the wilderness (or was it the desert?) of our lord and savior.  So, forty days of staying away from WeChat is what I will now do.
At 6:00 AM on December 11th, I will be posting a Nicholas Gomez Davilia aphorism to WeChat moments.  Will anyone on WeChat have noticed my absence?  I doubt it but it is always good to confirm.

On the weekend of the Grey Cup Game, I started toying with the idea of extending my WeChat avoidance through the whole month of December, thus avoiding contact through Christmas and Western New Year's.  Seeing how that the truth is I haven't completely avoided WeChat because I sometimes have to go to it to get messages from my wife Jenny or from people at work, I could say that sixty will make it seem more like the forty that our Lord endured.

* * * * *

I have made no Chinese friends in my 13 years here in China.  I find their company, with a few small exceptions, to be boring.

I have no friends in the Wuxi expat community as well, for which I can offer many excuses.  My location in Wuxi and the worn paths I go on to get through my day:  both seem to serve to isolate me.  The Wuxi expats with whom I do have acquaintance are on the other side of town and even having a car, it is too much trouble to go see them.  Through the years, many of the Wuxi expats I have known have been too left-wing, too drunk, too perverted, too dishonest, too untrustworthy, too middle of the road (the most untrustworthy), too screwed up in their personal lives, or too atheist for me to stand their company or for them to stand mine.

I could also offer many mea-culpas.  I have to face the fact that I have never fully recovered from my adolescence which was very lonely for me. In fact, I had no friends as a teenager.  This loneliness I have come to see as a cross I must bear, so I have, through my years in Wuxi, made efforts to further isolate myself.  I have chosen to not talk to people.  Now some of these people did do things to irk or annoy me, and some of these people were best avoided anyway; but the fact is I deliberately made myself unlikable to a whole host of expats.

* * * * *

Tony made a middle finger gesture to me and asked me what it meant.  Geez....

* * * * *

My school is not getting many students these days.  On the first Thursday evening of November, I had one class with just one student in the evening.  I am supposed to have three classes with many times more students.

Why has the school's enrollment declined?  Many reasons.  The fashion for learning English has gone away in China.  The Chinese school system, thanks to Xi Jing Ping, has placed less importance on learning English in its High School qualifying exam process.  The Chinese government also has made it more difficult to bring foreign teachers into the country.

Specific to the school itself, there are many more reasons as well.  Our location is no longer so ideal.  I say this because I have seen many businesses in our complex shut down and because the big department store we are close to, Ba Bai Ban, has been eclipsed by Sunning plaza as a place to go downtown.  I also don't think we offer a very good service.  The education model is based on the superstitious belief that talking to foreigners will make Chinese students speak English get better.  It doesn't for most Chinese students.  Learning another language is a lot of work and the students have to be committed in a big way to doing it.  And many students just don't have the ability to do it and there is nothing we can do for them.  Language classes are tortuously boring as well for the students and the teachers.  Most attempts to make the classes interesting don't work because the teachers and students have very different interests.  It is almost like a dog trying to teach cats how to be dogs.  Also, our lesson plans are not very inspiring for the teachers or the students.  Sometimes, I am getting them to make sentence after sentence.  Sometimes, I am just running out the clock.  Sometimes, I am showing flashcards and trying to make talk about them.  I often leave the class thinking I wasted my and the students' time and that they didn't learn a damn thing....  And it is very rarely that I like the classes....

* * * * *

I was in our third floor apartment, sitting by its entrance, getting ready to go to work, when someone came to our door and turned the handle of our front door which was locked.  I heard the person quickly let go and I then heard what sounded like rapid footsteps going down the stairs and out the apartment building.  I opened the door and then looked out our window but I didn't get a glimpse of the person.

When I left our apartment and went downstairs I saw that a brick was holding open the front door to the our apartment building.  I kicked it away and shut the door.  I didn't seen anyone suspicious when I continued down the lane on my way to the bus stop.

* * * * *

Kindred spirits.
Have I ever been part of such a pair?
Or larger group?
Thinking back, I recall not and despair.

* * * * *

Take all the people away.
Let me walk about their rubble.
It would be akin to a walk in nature.
I could easily commune with spirit.

* * * * *

It was very sunny today.  There must have been four suns in the sky.

It was very cloudy yesterday.  I lost count around a million.

* * * * *

I try to read a poem every day, for as some wise men have said some truth is only available to poets and some truths are only accessed through poetry.  Something about school introducing my to poetry turned me off poetry for a long time because of the exercise where they would ask you to explain the poetry and find its symbolism.  They should have just told me that poetry has effects on us that often can't be explained by only appreciated.

* * * * *

There is sponge cake but why isn't there cloth cake or rag cake?

* * * * *

[November 7th] The school is shrinking in size.  The old school location, which is nearby the new school location, had been turned into a school of Sinology and then into a daycare and then into a kid's school.  None of these operations got enough students to make it worthwhile to have such a large premises.  So, the staff from the kids school have been moved to the new location; and under-used offices and classrooms at the new location are being converted into classrooms for the kids school.  By the middle of November, the school, both adult and kiddies, will be under one roof.

I am not sure about what is going to happen to the old location.  The speed at which the school was moved out [only half a year after it had been decorated to be a kid's school] seems to indicate that someone else got the premises.

On November 7th, I have but two classes to teach.  Ideally, there would be five.

* * * * *

It seems that this English-teaching gig of mine is coming to an end.  So what will I do if the school shuts down?  Hopefully, I will go back, with Tony, and hopefully Jenny, to Canada.  It may be late in my life to start on a new path, but I can't curse my fate.  I choose it.

Do I have any skills I can offer to anyone in Canada?  I do have some good personal habits.  I am reliable.  I don't do drugs.  I don't drink to excess.  I never call in sick for work. I never come to work late.  I keep myself busy as my language study and the fact that I have kept a blog going for so many years shows.  I am loyal and I will put up with a lot of inconvenience and indifference from the world rather than give in to it.  Surely, that must mean something in this world.

* * * * *

Another mass shooting in America.  This time at a church in Texas.  A lot of good Americans killed.  It's the price you have to pay for freedom, I would suppose.  China could boost about those things not happening in China but then the numbers of victims of the Communist government's misrule are probably many times greater as a proportion of the Chinese population than of mass shooting victims in the U.S.

Think of it this way:  these shootings could happen every day for a year in the States and they will still not close to matching the victims of Chairman Mao's Great Leap Forward.

* * * * *

Sometimes I get annoyed at other drivers because they are just in my way.  This I shouldn't be doing because it does take the ground from under my feet for when I do have legitimate reasons to gripe about the local drivers.

On the morning of November 8th, I was driving Tony to school.  I was in the long lineup of cars going down the road by Tony's school.  I got to an entrance to an apartment building complex where, as I told my rare readers in a previous entry, the road becomes a uncontrolled T-intersection.  Confusion results as cars try to turn into the intersection or go through the intersection, and no driver dare yield to another.  My yielding to one car, that had beaten me to space, resulted in a black sedan, coming from my left and behind, passing me.  The black sedan then proceeded rightwards into the bike lane to stop. Our car was then besides the sedan and Tony wanted me to stop so I could drop him off.  It has been my practice to never go into the bike lane when I drop Tony off because I would only end up screwing up the traffic even more by trying to merge back into it. (Merging is hard to do because of the local drivers' desire to never yield.)The black sedan was in Tony's way.  My annoyance at the car being there resulted, after Tony had gotten out, in my making faces at and giving a finger to the black sedan's driver who was a male with a cigarette drooping so low from his mouth that it might has well have been glued to his chin.

I really shouldn't have been rude.

* * * * *

The weather in November has not been anything to complain about.  It has been sunny without excessive heat or humidity.  I think it is a shame that young people in Wuxi have to be in school.  Really, this should be holiday time for students and their parents.  Summer in Wuxi is a time when people should be shut indoors or attending school.  Autumn in Wuxi is when it is ideal to be outside and not in a classroom.

* * * * *

November 11th in China is single's day though recently it has turned into a shopping holiday as bad as Black Friday in America and Canada.

* * * * *

Tony is being bullied at school.  Jenny is angry.  I have these questions:  What are the teachers doing?  Is the bullying because Tony is different?  Should I be angry about it?

* * * * *

On the 10th of November I learned that all the taxi drivers in Wuxi were on strike.  Reason?  Didi, which is the Uber style app in Wuxi.  I didn't know about the strike till a colleague told me about it.  Apparently news of the strike was suppressed on WeChat. (Which reminds me of the news blackout that initially happened during the Wuxi Water Crisis of 2008. No bad news happens in Wuxi...)

* * * * *

Tony wants to listen to Beatles songs.  A stage in a boy's development?  I think I discovered the Beatles at a similar age.

* * * * *

Hearing about the taxi strike gave me something to talk about with students.  One student told me that she was able to get a taxi driver to come pick her up at her company but the driver came in his personal car and gave her a pre-printed receipt.  The driver, I told the student, was scabbing which I found interesting because it re-enforced this suspicion I had that the locals will cheat whenever they can.

* * * * *

A student guessed that the population of the USA was 2 billion, after I had told her that the population of China was 1.3 billion.

* * * * *

On Sunday, November 19th, I took the 25 bus all the way downtown, instead of transferring to the subway.  I listened to a Mother Angelica podcast and looked out the window where it seemed to me that the economic development I was looking at was spotty.  I would pass some finished construction projects alongside vacant lots full of trash and subsistence farming; and as I got closer to downtown, I saw a lot of closed storefronts in buildings that had been around since before I had moved to Wuxi thirteen years ago.  The older storefronts closed down were an omen, I thought, of what was going to happen to our school.

* * * * *

On Sunday, November 19th, Tony lamented that he had to go to “frigging school” the next day.

His lament was mine.  I mean I hate it when he goes to his school.

* * * * *

Down the road, that Casa Kaulins faces, is the Hui Shan District Government Building.  It has been a site for protests, and as I was about to drive past it on Monday, November 20th, I saw a group of older locals walking towards its entrance with signs.  I would have loved to have seen what would have transpired but I was in my car and had no place to stop, along with the fact that I am too conspicuous as a white foreigner to be a lookie-lou.

* * * * *

I phoned my mother in late November and we got onto the topic of her family's escape from Latvia and the Soviets in 1944.  The Soviets and Germans were shooting at each other from opposite sides of a river near my mother's family farmstead.  Her mother faced with the prospect of the Soviets coming and sending all her family to Siberia, decided to put my mother, my mother's three sisters and my mother's brother on a wagon and horse with a few possessions, and head to the coast of Latvia.  From there, they were able to board a boat to Germany.  They spent some time in Germany and Poland, and were able to get out of the Soviet occupation zone and apply to immigrate to Canada, which they were able to do in 1955.

It must why I have always felt I have a lead a charmed existence.

* * * * *

Maybe, I will have Tony move to Canada in time to start his junior high.  I don't like the idea of him living in dormitories for his middle school life.

This gives me two years or so to plan.

* * * * *

I made a joking sort of Christmas/Birthday* wish list for my Speakers Corners which went as follows:

Lego
Iphone
Ipad
Macbook Pro
Size 47 shoes
a leather bound edition of the complete works of Shakespeare
silk sheets
dryer sheets
rosary beads
a Donald Trump tie
a Hamilton Tiger-Cats t-shirt
a “Make America Great Again” hat
Dove Chocolate with almonds
Crown Royal Whiskey
an AR-15 rifle
a Lugar pistol
Starbuck's gift certificate
a Fred Astaire poster
a map of Latvia.

You many be surprised my wanting a Hamilton Tiger-Cats t-shirt.  I saw a person wearing a Hamilton Tiger-Cats cap on the Skytrain and I have to admit it looked good.  It was probably the first time I had seen anyone wearing Tiger-Cat stuff.

You may also be appalled by my wanting weapons.  Well, gun owners are persecuted and so having some guns would be a great way for me to carry a cross for Christ and defend myself from the atheistic state.

*My birthday is December 24th.

* * * * *

 It stabs my heart to the quick to hear that Tony is being bullied at school.  The who is not so important to me as the why of this?  Is it because Tony is a little different?  Or is Tony asking for it?

* * * * *

I was annoyed by Jenny telling me that I was seen to have not been watching Tony at a swimming class.  All the other parents, Jenny told me, were.  First off, this was annoying because someone reported this to Jenny.  Second off, the idea of closely watching Tony in his swimming class is totally anathema to my idea of what kind of parent I want to be.  I don't want to be a Chinese style, Helicopter Chairman Mao, Xi Jing Ping, authoritarian style parent.  And anyway, Tony needs time to be by himself and he doesn't need me to be tiger-fathering him.  It is enough that Jenny tiger mothers him six nights a week.

I love my parents so much for just leaving me alone when I was growing up.  Now, it could be argued that I suffered a lot because of their just letting me do what I wanted to do, as I did  a lot of bonehead things when I was growing up and adopted a lot of stupid attitudes and failed in many ways.  But these failures would have destroyed a lesser man, and if my mediocre fate is what I deserve that I shouldn't complain or let it get me down.  Wanting freedom means you can't be blaming others for what is wrong in your life.

* * * *  *

As November comes to an end, I look ahead to the next holidays which are Christmas and the Western New Year.  I have decided to throw in the towel for planning or wanting something interesting to happen.  Last year's Christmas dinner at the Kempenski which I had so looked forward to and ended up being so disappointed by** has made me resign myself to letting Jenny plan what we will do at Christmas.  As far as I am concerned, I will be happy to not go out during those two holidays.  The only things I will care about is that Tony is happy with the Christmas presents he gets and that I observe the holiday in my solipsisticly religious way.

**The dinner was a money making exercise for the hotel.  They packed as many people as they could into the banquet hall so the end result was a Christmas dinner with 500 Chinese buffet attendees and my wanting to get out of the place but not being able to because of the money we had shelled out.

* * * * *

The government office got word that they were about to get a surprise inspection visit from a higher-up.  The woman who got the heads-up informed everyone but a person who had closed his office door.   When the inspector came, everyone put on an appearance of doing something except the man who behind the door.  He was discovered to be watching a video on his computer and was given hell for it with his name being posted on a big shaming poster.  The woman felt bad for having not told him.  When she made this confession, she also said that the surprise inspection was creating an atmosphere of extreme tension at work.  Anyway, it is said to be one of Xi Jing Ping's initiatives, these surprise inspections.

November also ended with news of suicides of Chicom government officials like a mayor who was caught embezzling funds and a high ranking military officer who was also said to be facing charges of corruption.  Talk of Xi Jing Ping wanting to take China back to the 1970s can maybe be replaced with his wanting to bring the Cultural Revolution.  It seems that the level of suicide in China is approaching Cultural Revolutionary levels...

* * * * *

Since, I won't be publishing another blog entry till 2018, I'll wish my rare readers and even rarer readers who have managed to make it to the end of this entry, a Merry Christmas.

Merry Christmas!  And that's all you're going to get!

* * * * *

If you have any comments on anything you have read in this blog, please send an email to andiskaulins@qq.com or andiskaulins@hotmail.com.  Please mention that you are making a comment on my blog in the email title space.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

October 2017 Diary

The first six days of October were a holiday for me:

  • I didn't do much. Fear of crowds made me reluctant to go anywhere.

  • On October 1st, I made a point of not wishing a Happy China Day, as it were, to anyone; unlike I would have for Canadians, Americans, and people of other countries of whose national day I might have been aware. I don't do this because I believe the establishment of the People's Republic of China was a tragedy for the Chinese people.

  • We (that be my wife Jenny, my son Tony & I) drove to Jenny's hometown, Xinjie, for a day. Driving to Xinjie was slow and annoying. Coming back, it was much worse as traffic got clogged at an interchange leading to Nantong and the Jiang Ying Big Bridge. It ended up taking us nearly three hours to drive 97 km on road that was basically all freeway with a speed limit of 120 km/h. At one point coming back, we got very angry at one driver who rode on the shoulder (illegal and drivers caught will be fined) and then tried to shove (very aggressive cut off maneuver) his way ahead of us. Jenny rolled down her window and screamed at this man (who we could see quite close up since he was about a foot from the passenger seat of our car.). I honked the horn and gave him the finger. His reaction was typical Chinese inscrutability, although there might have been a small glint of his knowing he was in the wrong as I am sure I saw a pleading look on his countenance asking us to let him in anyway. He persisted in trying to get ahead of us but I wouldn't let him and so he eventually went further down the road where, sadly, he was able to cut himself back into the proper lane and off the shoulder. So, in the end he accomplished his goal, but hopefully the aggravation we gave him was enough to stop him from ever trying that maneuver again. Of course, he may be subject to that Chinese way of thinking where we were the ones in the wrong because we made him lose face by not tolerating his wrong actions... One day, I fear, I am going to punch out some Chinaman driver. [We saw why the driver was so desperate to get into the proper lane as just an instant later when we saw a police vehicle stopped on the shoulder.]

  • We went clothes dryer shopping. We first tried to buy a used dryer that we learned of in a WeChat group. We drove to an apartment in the Wuxi New District on Chang Jiang Road. The Aussie and his Indonesian wife were asking1300 rmb for their dryer which they were selling because they were leaving China. Jenny wanted to pay them 600, and so after a little bit of dicussion, it turned out to be no dice. We then went to a few appliance stores around the Hui Ju mall area. Interestingly, I saw a dryer, that would be standard in Canada and that my mother has in her house, that was priced at over 7,000 rmb. I didn't know the make of the model we saw being advertised as coming from Italy, but we definitely were shopping for something smaller and cheaper: around 1100 if we could find it, 2000 if we couldn't. [Jenny got one later in October. It cost about 1100 rmb and is a 6 KG model which is bigger than the 3 KG model we looked at originally. We have put it in the kitchen. We will still dry the majority of our laundry by hanging. We will only use it on rainy and cold days when laundry gets backlogged.]

  • We went to Metro (sort of a Costco) and bought some groceries. Not something we normally do.

  • Having beers with a colleague from school was the extent of my socializing during the six days.


* * * * *


How bad were the Communists in Latvia? After a year of being occupied by them, during the time when the Nazis and Soviets were allies, Latvians then welcomed the Nazis, who were invading the Soviet Union, as liberators. [I was watching a video about it.]


* * * * *


Tony was pleased to learn that Canadians and Brits were allies during WW2.


* * * * *


I learned about the Las Vegas massacre from a WeChat foreigner group. The person who was announcing it seemed full of righteous glee as he immediately went into a rant against America and its guns.


I didn't watch all that many videos of the shooting, but I did eagerly await details about the shooter and what he was up to before he did the evil deed. Hearing that the guy had the financial means, the will and the ability to do what he did, I concluded the shooting was a black swan incident in the manner of the Brevik mass shooting that took place in Scandinavia.


* * * * *


The Chinese.


It is easy to hate these people. I give into the temptation to do so, and I know damm well, from Christianity, that I shouldn't. But is there a way that you can justify their rude manners? There is something to be said for different strokes for different folks. And you can forgive because their actions though extremely crude, aren't at all that important in the universal scale of things... But they do these dangerously rude actions with cars which really are hard to forgive.


* * * * *


One of the students went to a Mayday concert in Nanjing. From what I can make out when talking to her, there must have been a crowd of over 50,000 people in attendance. From the student, as well, I learned that t-shirts were 400 rmb and that the band did three encores at the end.


* * * * *


One morning, Tony was forty minutes late for school. I did drive him and we did leave home on time. What happened then was that the traffic lights were out at a few intersections in the area around Tony's school and there was complete traffic chaos. The locals not knowing how to behave at uncontrolled intersection, and how to be patient, resulted in the intersection I normally go through to get to Tony's school being so messed up that I decided to make a u-turn and try getting to Tony's school from another direction. Because local drivers can't just stay in their lanes and wait, instead choosing to jostle and weave in some futile hope to get through the jam quicker, no traffic can get through an intersection until the authorities can bring in temporary lights or get the normal ones working.


This failure of traffic signals to work is constant problem in the district that I live. About three times, this school term have I had to deal with this traffic hell. [On the the 30th, it happened yet again.]


* * * * *


In the week after the holiday, I asked every student how their holiday was. With exception of one, all the students told me they stayed at home and didn't go anywhere. So based on anecdotal evidence, I could have said that the Chinese mostly stayed home for the holiday, but reports were that hundreds of millions of them took trips around China and places were overcrowded. As Yogi Berra would have said, no body in China went anywhere during the Golden Week because it was too crowded.


* * * * *


One student had a sad story to tell me from his holiday. Three neighbors, whom he had known for over twenty years, were all found dead in their next door apartment. The man of the house was found to have hung himself, and his wife and child's bodies were found cold. I said "Holy Crap!" and was full of questions.


The student told me about this story in a very matter of fact way. He even made a joke about it. We might well have been talking about an accident he had witnessed.


* * * * *


My ideal life? To be a devout Catholic attending mass every day.


What kind of friends do I want to have in this ideal life? Friends that I can love. Friends who I can tease. Friends who aren't moonbat. Friends full of good will toward everyone. Friends who aren't as much a part of this world as I am. Friends who like poetry. Friends who aren't heretics. Friends who aren't poets. Friends who don't see themselves as artists. Friends without pretense. Friends who are reactionary. Friends who appreciate Catholicism. Friends who are philosophers. Friends who don't do drugs. Friends who aren't like Harvey Weinstein. Friends who don't know what they want to do with their lives. Friends who are impractical. Friends who aren't rich. Friends who are gentlemen. Friends who aren't feminists and sexpats (That is either or, or both.) Friends who are one-woman men. Friends who are honest. And friends who are devout Conservative Catholics.


Of course, I pity the fool that would have me for a friend.


* * * * *


I was walking down a street one rainy morning when I saw, walking towards me, a foreigner who was wearing shorts and a t-shirt, but was not carrying an umbrella and thus was soaked to the bone. When we passed each other, he was staring at the ground and so we made no eye contact. Did he see me from afar and chose to deliberately ignore me on account of his appearance? Or was he so self-conscious that he didn't want to make eye contact with anybody?


I have to admit that I have done a similar thing when passing foreigners on the street in Wuxi. Something about them, perhaps their youth or their having an appearance of the ugly Westerner, makes me not want to acknowledge their existence. I avert my glance.


* * * * *


After expressing skepticism about Xi Da Da's ability and true desire to fight corruption at the start of a class, the student I was talking to told me he was a member of the Chinese Communist Party. I couldn't quite glean what his true attitude to the party was because he first talked, in reverent tone, about how people who were good students and exhibited good habits could join the party, before then telling me that part of the reason he joined was that it was a good career move in the PRC.


I asked him if he got to vote in party elections and he said he did, but he then told me his vote really didn't seem to matter because the slate was put forth by the higher party powers.


We got onto American politics and he said that he thought Hilary Clinton was an experienced candidate for the US presidency. He also seemed to express envy at Americans being able to openly criticize their leaders.


* * * * *


Thank God, I was a loser and ugly so that I could never end up being like Harvey Weinstein.


If dealing with the likes of him is what you need to achieve worldly success, I should be thankful I am a failure, I am ignored and basically a loner.


[Actually, I choose to be alone for so long, without a woman, because I was always pining for woman who were out of my league.]


* * * * *


Tony came home from school one day, took a deep breath and said "I need a break!" before heading to my computer so he could watch Youtube.


* * * * *


Tony asked me where his Yigo Beego toy I was.


I told him I didn't know.


"It's gotta be somewhere!" he then said. I thought it was an interesting turn of phrase to be coming from his mouth.


* * * * *


The old 85 Bakery location near our school, which has an all-glass front, is still looking for a tenant. As well, I can report that the old location, as I type this, has a broken and shattered section of glass. Instead of boarding the pane up and/or replacing it, someone has put a beam that leans against some twine which was tied to two ends of the store front. The beam's bottom is placed against the bottom of the store front and the beam's top sticks out about two feet. I can watch the location all the time as I teach and so I have imagined that someone not paying attention can whack his head against the pole.


The odds of human nature being in my favor, my imaginings of course came true. One Saturday, I chanced to see an e-biker who had just whacked his head against the beam. He wasn't hurt seriously or even majorly chagrined. He shrugged his head and went back to looking at his smart phone which had been taking up his attention. Some people never learn.


After this, I saw a boy walk to the shattered window pane and stop to look. He then walked under the twine, picked up a shard of grass (fallen since the expedient of the pole had been dreamed up I would imagine) and threw it through the opening in the broken window. Kids....

* * * * *


Tony said he didn't need to wear a jacket. When he went outside with me, he then began to complain that it was cold.


When I told him that he should have put on a jacket, he asked if I was calling him a dumbass.


When I was his age, I was exposed to swearing from hanging out with others. He is now exposed to swearing from watching video. So what's the difference?

* * * * *


Driving done a road after having picked up Tony from school, I came upon a truck backing up on to the road with the assistance of a ground guide and I stopped to wait for the truck to go on its way. Other drivers, not wanting to even slow down, tried to weave and avoid the back end of the truck. The ground guide who was guiding the truck backwards with his arms, walked backwards into a van that was unsuccessful in its attempt to get around the truck.


It was another example of stupid, uncourteous and impatient local drivers.


* * * * *


On a Wednesday in the middle of October, I could see that Xi Jing Ping had made a big speech at the 19th Commie Party Congress (十九大). I first saw video of him making the speech while I was waiting on the subway platform. I then saw his ugly face on video screens in the train and on big public screens all over the city.


Later than day, I asked the students if they had watched or heard the speech. Most said they hadn't. One student said it wasn't his business. A younger student talked about some sarcastic postings she had put on WeChat about Xi Da Da saying that everyone should look after the poor. She said, in her posting, that she was poor and wanted to be looked after.


* * * * *


Tony was asking me who the leaders of various countries in WW2 were. I love it when he asks these sorts of questions.


* * * * *


The evening before the Ping speech, I noticed that the Internet was not working so well. I couldn't download some of my favorite podcasts and some my apps were taking a lot time to download files, if at all.


Seeing Chairperson Ping's image everywhere, the next morning, explained to me why my Internet was crap.


The day after the speech (which was three and a half hours long! Who does the guy think he is? Castro?), I was in a fine fettle. Bad Internet and an asshole in a white VW sedan shoving his way in my lane while I was dropping off Tony made me miserable. I trailed right behind the VW for a kilometer or so and I blared my horn constantly. I wanted the driver to know in no uncertain terms how irate I was. I couldn't tell if the driver was a man or woman.


That incident and accounts of the speech I saw which said Da Da was wanting to take back China to the 1950s and 1960s with the Communists controlling all aspects of their subjects' lives had me thinking the gloomiest of thoughts. I resolved that I didn't want Tony to spend the productive times of his life in the People's Republic of China. I imagined myself being deported for my political and religious beliefs. I thanked God for my job as an English person trying to have conversations with dimwitted Mainland Chinese people, I wasn't do anything to productively help the People's Republic of China.


* * * * *


Who are these idiots who think that Socialism can work? And why are they running a huge country like China? Is the Devil to blame?


* * * * *


A thought about the Vegas Killer.


It was his misfortune that he was living in the United States from 1960s onward instead of in Stalin's Soviet Union. Reading a book about Stalin's major henchmen, and what I can gather about the Vegas Killer, this man would have been a perfect candidate who help Stalin. While some of Stalin's henchman were openly psychotic and violent, some of them were quiet and efficient, the sort of people who would sit at a table and not strike anyone as formidable. The Vegas Killer seemed like the latter kind of man Stalin would employ.


* * * * *


At a bakery one morning, I went to the register to buy some bread when a women cut in front of me. She then saw me and what she had done. She then said sorry and moved behind me in the line. This was an extraordinary thing in my China experience. I should have thanked her. As it was, I was stunned.


* * * * *


Not much to do in the afternoons at school. I spend my free time reading, studying Chinese and sometimes editing my October diary.


* * * * *


To keep track of: that is a collocation that the students have to make a sentence with in one of the lessons. They never can. So, what I tell them is that I keep track of the books I read. I read a book and make a note of the book's title and author in an excel file.


I finished reading my 58th book in the middle of October.


My 59th book I am reading on the recommendation of my favorite blogger David Warren. [My second favorite writes the Duff and Nonsense Blog.] It was written by a Catholic Frenchmen in 1962. (Or I should say, published.) It was a call to arms for Christians against Modernism, Marxism and Atheistic Humanism. It's still relevant today. From it I got an answer for a question that I would never expect to be posed to me, but one that came to me after I reflected on what the Catholic writer wrote in his 1962 book: What would I like to say to Xi Jing Ping if I ever meet him? Hitherto, I would have said that Socialism has failed every time it has been tried. Now I would say this: "You will one day be judged by Jesus Christ and this trial is the only one of importance in your life and in the life of the people you purport to represent."


[You can browse this blog to see what books and videos I have read and watched in previous years.]


* * * * *


Like I said, Xi Jing Ping's speech was 3 hours and 23 minutes long. I joked about this with the student who had told he was a member of the Chinese Communist party. I wondered to him how the people, in the hall where Chairman Xi was making his speech, could sit so long without falling asleep or being able to look at their smart phones. For these people, said the Communist, it was a solemn occasion. Yeah right! I said.


I should have told him that it was a blasphemy against the human condition that a political conference could have solemnity. Solemnity should result from the contemplation of God.


* * * * *


Getting off the elevator on the second last Sunday of October 2017, I experienced the worst case of Chinaman elevator rudeness since I came to China in 2004. This "gentleman" rushed on the elevator so fast that he blocked me from getting out. If I had had my wits about me, I would have spread out my arms to block him. As it was, I could only scream "Why don't you f***ing wait for people get off first!" Off the elevator and thus looking behind me, I had the impression that he hadn't heard me. He seemed absorbed in something his female companion was saying to him.


As I walked away, I was so angry that I was shaking and the sight of every local I passed disgusted me. They were all Chinese like that guy getting on the elevator.


How would a Saint — a Christian Saint that is — deal with this? Well, I suppose the Saint would be praying for China and the Chinese, and be saddened by its atheism and state power. I suppose the Saint would be be able to teach the guy getting on the elevator proper manners in a way that was full of Christian love. But as Mother Angelica says, Saints aren't perfect and have to battle their imperfections. One of them being having bad tempers. Would a Saint have felt the anger that I felt?


And why did I feel angry? Was it because my dignity was violated? My sense of worth was trampled on? The thing about Chinese rudeness that sets me off is how it involves shoving people aside. My life experiences are such that I can't accept this happening to me. What I can't understand is how the Chinese seem to accept it and put up with it.


* * * * *


For some silly reason, I had it in my mind that October 23rd was my anniversary when it was in fact the 27th. Of course I have a photo from that day where the date is prominently shown and which I make a point of publishing in my blog and on social sites annually, so I would have caught myself.


[Perhaps, I thought of the 23rd because my son Tony was born on a 23rd and for whatever reason I think more about his birthday than I do my anniversary.


Also, our anniversary was not originally supposed to be on the 27th. There was a paperwork screw-up that caused us to make two trips to Nanjing to get our wedding license way back in 2006. (Foreigners and locals marrying in China can only their wedding license at the capital of the local's province of residence.) The first time we went which was early in the week (Monday was the 23rd that October of 2006), some mistake on Jenny's documents made by the police station in her hometown meant we couldn't get married until she went back to the hometown and had it corrected. So during that week, Jenny went back to her home village, and on the Friday, which was the 27th, we got our wedding license. So maybe the original date still sticks with me after all these years!]


* * * * *


When it comes to politics there are people who like to say they are too cool to get involved with it. Or at least they say something on those lines.


Men are sheep, say these sorts of people. But men, unlike real sheep, are smart enough to know that they are like sheep. [Bohemians gather in herds!] Anyway, the people who say that people are like sheep don't have any answers for how men can cease to be sheep-like. If they think it can be done by eliminating hierarchies that they are fools. The best way I would think to deal with it would be the Catholic idea of subsidiarity. Each hierarchy is free in its legitimate sphere to deal with its problems which means as much decentralization and localness as possible


* * * * *


I didn't suffer road rage driving Tony to school one morning but I did observe these things:


  • A car drifting from left lane to right as if the driver was on his cell phone.

  • A empty plastic bottle being thrown out the a driver's window in the midst of a lineup.

  • Cars being driven in the bicycle lane and bicycles being ridden on the sidewalk leading me to wonder where pedestrians could go.

  • Cars parked at an angle to the road so that their ass ends were taking up half a lane meant for traffic.

  • A car drivers changing two lanes leftward (to get into a turning lane) without using turn signals and without checking to see if the lanes were clear of other cars. And so about four cars were a-swerving.

  • Getting to the entrance of my apartment complex, some driver (a male) stopped his car so that it was blocking half the entrance causing exiting and entering cars to narrowly avoid colliding with each other.


And this is what I typically see every time I drive Tony to school.


* * * * *


At some of the intersections on the way to Tony's school, left turn signal green lights have been done away with, and so there is resulting confusion whenever there is a green light. Turning cars won't yield to cars going straight ahead which results in the straight ahead moving cars either stopping or swerving. Some turning cars will impatiently pass from behind the other turning cars, that are in front of them that do yield to straight on traffic, resulting in further confusion (and much consternation for me). Some even more impatient drivers, wanting to turn, will cross the double yellow line and try to quickly beat oncoming traffic.


One instance, I did have the satisfaction of making one of the latter type of impatient drivers have to come to a full stop. I was heading straight through an intersection, left most lane, when a male driver of a white Audi which was four cars back in line coming from the opposite direction, got impatient and crossed the double yellow line so that he was heading directly at me. I had no intention of yielding to him and so he had to come to a complete stop. I then stopped and then got into the right lane and passed by him as he was still stupidly stopped on the wrong side of the road and thwarted in his wanting to quickly made a turn. He had a look of chagrin on his face which even his Chinaman inscrutableness could not hide.


I still get no end of satisfaction recalling the incident. And I don't think I ever will.


* * * * *


I am playing around with (studying?) four languages: Mandarin Chinese, French, Spanish and German. Which language is the most difficult and annoying for me? Of course, Mandarin with its tones and script. Which language is the easiest for me to understand? French having been exposed to it since an early age. Which language sounds the best? German with Spanish coming in a distant second.


It is embarrassing for me that after all these years of studying Mandarin, I am still not very good at it. A major reason is that I don't make an effort to converse in the language with anyone. For a while, I even gave up on trying to speak it and instead tried to learn to read it. But it is a major pain in the ass to try to read Chinese and come upon characters you don't recognize. Sometimes, I can spend five minutes trying to determine what the character is. Looking up these mysterious characters is difficult because you can't figure out what the character's radical is.


* * * * *


A good name for a communist newspaper? The Compost. Get it?


* * * * *


I don't like running for the bus. And in Wuxi, the bus system is good enough that if you see your bus pulling away from a bus stop that you didn't get to in time, you generally don't have to wait long for another bus to come.


So, one day in late October 2007, I was walking to the bus stop, but was still a good 50 meters away, when the bus I would have like to have caught pulled up beside me. The driver was looking at me and I was fairly certain that he recognized me from having boarded his bus before. (We laowais stand out like a sore thumb on Wuxi buses.) I suppose he was expecting me to up my pace and run to catch his bus. I didn't. The driver then pulled up at the bus stop and I was still too far away to get on the bus. And so I left the driver no choice but to pull away just as I got to within ten meters of the stop.


* * * * *


Walking down the street, I saw someone discard a torn package into a bush. The someone, who was walking towards me, was a man, swarthy and dusty in appearance, who had rolled up his pullover stripped sweater so that his midriff was exposed. I then saw him stick his finger in the back of his mouth to dislodge some food stuck in his back teeth.


Uncouthness like this is not at all an uncommon sight in the parts of Wuxi I frequent, but was this was really in-my-face like that guy, I told you about earlier in this blog entry, who had rushed into the elevator.


* * * * *


Older locals are usually the guilty ones when it comes to queue jumping. Late in October, I was waiting in line at a busy time at a bakery near my school. The woman in front of me was asking the cashier all sorts of questions. When she finally finished and left her space by the counter, I had to block an older woman who was coming from behind and my left from getting in front of me. I didn't lose my temper but I made a mental note to blog about it.


* * * * *


Tony will dress up as a Pirate for Halloween. You can see some photos of his costume at the wuxitony blog.


* * * * *


Things I was told by Tom, a student whose English is very good and has stories from Wuxi in the 1970s:

  • The Wang's Dumplings current location (on the corner of Xueqian and Zhongshan Roads, and across from Ba Bai Ban) used to be a bathhouse. Before the economic reforms, Wuxi residents didn't have showers or baths in their homes and so there would be long lineups at the bathhouse. In the 1970s, Tom got to have a shower once a week.

  • Tom used to pass the time in the 1970s standing near the intersection of Renmin and Zhongshan Roads waiting for the sight of the occasional passing vehicle which would have been either a car or a military jeep.

  • At the Xinhua bookstore back in the 1970s, customers could not browse for shelves of books. They would instead go to a counter, ask for a volume that they had seen the cover of, and then usually be told that the volume would not be available till the end of the month. If he couldn't get the book he was looking for, Tom would go down a narrow side street to find an old man with a table of books. He would take one of the books, usually the one he couldn't buy at the store, and pay the old man for the privilege of being able to read the book, sit at on a nearby chair, read the book and then return it. The old man, though technically doing a capitalist and thus illegal activity, was tolerated because he then wouldn't have to get a pension from the government. (And it cost more to read the book than buy it, which tells you a lot of Communism's ability to produce anything.)

  • In the 1970s, farmers with baskets of eggs (you can still see hawkers on Wuxi streets these days with baskets of fruits and veggies for sale.) would come from the countryside, and go door to door in Wuxi looking to sell them. At the time, this was an illegal activity as the farmers were supposed to sell all their produce to the government which would then distribute it in a socialist manner to the citizenry. One instance, a farmer coming to Tom's house was caught by an apartment cadre. The cadre, who Tom said was a sweet old man, got his ribs busted by the farmer who then fled.

  • At Chongan Market Square (near the bank of China and the Moresky360 Building) there is a old style building tower with clock that serves as a scenic touristy addition to the whole shopping area. This was the location of the Wuxi library. During the 1970s, the library building was closed and boarded up because its interior had been set fire to by the Red Guards during the Cultural Revolution.

  • Tom told me that a government friend of his had recently gone to North Korea and spent some time in the capital Pyong Yang. His friend reported that the streets of Pyong Yang were very quiet, and at night, the city got very dark. All there was to do at night was watch three channels of TV which showed nothing but the same government news reports over and over again. So it was a very boring place.

  • Tom didn't think that Xi Jing Ping merited being put on the pantheon of PRC leaders alongside Chairman Mao and Deng Xiao Peng. Said Tom: Mao could be put on the pantheon because he did succeed in uniting China under one government. Peng could be put on the pantheon for having brought in the economic reforms. But what had Xi done? His efforts at ending corruption seem really an excuse for ditching political rivals. His efforts at making China a world power don't matter to most Chinese who really only care about their economic situation. I added that if Xi could instead have worked on making Chinese government more democratic and consensual, he really could have earned himself a place on the pantheon. But that is not to be. Xi is a Communist after all.


* * * * *


On the last day of October, I drove Tony to the school. It was just my luck that I got stuck behind three cars stuck together after a fender-bender incident. To get from behind the cars to the next lane, which was to my left, was not easy. The cars kept honking at me as I tried to get in the other lane and I even saw one driver scowl at me. Of course like me, the drivers weren't aware there had been an accident. So all was forgiven once they realized.... Perhaps.


* * * * *


My problem is not that I want to avoid pain, but that I want pain on my terms and not to be inconvenienced by it.


* * * * *


At the end of October, I resolved that I would try to use the social app WeChat as little as possible in November. For some practical reasons, like work and communicating with my wife Jenny, I cannot not stop using it completely. But I will, for the month of November, not make postings on the moments feed and not browse any of the chat groups to which I belong. On December 1st, I will resume my practice of posting a Nicolás Gómez Dávila aphorism at or around 06:00 every morning.


* * * * *


Comments?


Or do you think I would make an interesting email correspondent?


Email me at: andiskaulins@qq.com. Use the heading: I read the AKIC blog.




Tuesday, October 3, 2017

September 2017 Notes

The Kaulins Family China spent the early part of September 2017, recovering from our trip to Canada:

  • Tony told me that he would miss Canada and his uncle Ron.
  • Tony also missed his Canadian grandfather. One of the strangest and saddest things for me to witness was Tony sitting in the living room of Casa K in early September, crying because he realized his grandfather was dead. Tony had been shown photos of his grandfather wearing military uniforms and was very impressed. When he cried over Grandpa, he was with Jenny and somehow he must have dawned on him then that Grandpa was gone and never coming back. [Moral to others: The earlier in life you have children the better it is for them because they can spend more time with their grandparents. It also gives you one less thing to regret later in life.]
  • Back driving on the roads of Wuxi, I immediately experienced spasms of road rage. Three weeks of being in a driving environment, I could understand, wiped away what little tolerance I had for the Chinese way of doing things. I was back to honking horns and giving fingers.
  • Jenny complained of not being able to sleep well. It must be jet lag, she said.
  • I returned to find the menu of the Expat restaurant, I had been eating at as a treat for myself, to be boring and unattractive.

* * * * *

It seems, as September is in its early stages, that driving Tony, who is in grade four this term, to school and picking him up will be more annoying than it had been when he was in grade three. Xishan School has two campuses for the primary school grades. The newer campus, that was built in time for the previous school year, is for grades one to three; the older became the location for just grades four to six. So Tony's being in grade four means having to pick him up at the old campus where there are less places about to park and stop. Indeed, the first day of the school year at pick-up time, cars were double parked up and down the street. Because Jenny was with me, I had her go to the school to pick up Tony while I stayed in our vehicle which was in a double-parked position. The school location we drove to last year, while not being a picnic as for parking, did have a long enough road leading to it so that one could park without having to worry about being blocked by a double parker. Last year, one also could easily turn around to drive away from the school. This year, the road by the school has a fence barrier in the middle and so, unless one tries to make a u-turn at a gap in the barrier, one has to endure a slow slog as there are a lot of cars on the road as the students are let out.

* * * * *

I had been buying German beers – what I supposed were German beers – in cans from local supermarkets. Some have been quite delicious, but some result in my having a horrible hangover the next day. And this is after having drunk only one beer the night before. Why should I get these painful hangovers? Is the beer way past its best-for date? Is the beer counterfeit? Are German beers that strong?

* * * * *

As I told someone, Trump is a two is a sea of one, zeroes, and I add now, minuses. All the things said about him being a boor and a nincompoop and a vulgarian and an ignoramus are no doubt true; and yet the people who loath him are so unhinged in their criticism of him that one feels one has to say "Viva Trump!"

So here it goes:

VIVA TRUMP!

If this causes you to froth at the mouth in rage, so what. You are the one who's nuts.

And there is some good to be said about Trump. 1) He is an American. Unlike, Obama who seemed ashamed of the country that gave him the chance to lead it, Trump is an American. If it is okay for the Chinese to be ruled by a Chinese person, Japan to be ruled by a Japanese person, and for Africans to be ruled by Africans, why can't America be lead by an American who likes his country and feels no need to please European snobs? 2) He is not the wife of Bill Clinton. 3) He is sui generis. That is, he is one of a kind. Unlike Obama, who was a dime-a-dozen liberal who was very much banal, moral-preening and full of himself (but I will credit Barry for maybe having some political skills), Trump is an original who is, hopefully, breaking the mold of what a politician can be like. Trump fights and never says he's sorry. He doesn't pretend to take the high road. He thinks aloud and doesn't choose his words carefully. He seems more concerned with doing things than putting on a show of saying the right things. 4) He is driving Leftists our of their minds. He is bringing out the true traits of Leftists, and showing how bigoted, rude, ignorant, petty and lacking in proportion they really are. And he is doing this despite being as unideological as Bill Clinton was. The Leftists are criticizing Trump for what he isn't, which is a Racist and a Nazi. They are criticizing him for fueling something which he hasn't, which is the white supremacist movement which is fringe movement incapable of filling a junior "c" hockey rink in Canada. By being this way, leftists have shown themselves to be more boorish than Trump. 5) Trump is great for comedians. There was a fear to lambast Obama, but I conjecture that he had he not been put on such a pedestal and treated like every other president, Obama would have quickly been a bore to mock. As I said before, he was a dime-a-dozen liberal and you can only make so many jokes about someone's boringness. Eastwood's depiction of Obama as an empty chair was very accurate. If a world without PC, the chair would have been the prop used for Obama on an SNL skit.

And if what I have said doesn't convince you, which I expect it won't, consider this: The people who hate that Trump is president of the United States really brought it on themselves. Popular culture has coarsened in my life time so that even people who should know better are engaging in the coarsening. Be that as it may, this coarsening is a leftist project. In rejecting the constraints of a bourgeois society, they created the culture where a Trump could thrive and become elected President. Trump became a celebrity in that constrain-free, undignified culture. He gave money to leftist politicians who didn't mind and probably found him to be one of them until he didn't go along with their program. The bitterness of the Left against Trump is akin in irrationality to the bitterness launched at Trotsky by Stalin, and at Lin Biao by Maoists.

[*Two days after I typed this, I heard complaints on conservative right-wing podcasts, that I regularly listen to that Trump was going Left. Does my "Viva Trump!" still stand? As long as the Left keeps vilifying Trump in an unreasonable manner, it will. He is the best there is under the circumstances. One of those circumstances is the existence of the Left. If the Left wasn't as stupid as it was and if it didn't contribute so strongly to the culture we are currently stuck with, Trump would not have been elected.*]

* * * * *

Why is it that I am most influenced by writers and thinkers that are Catholic? They are more thoughtful and more capable of penetrating observations than the people who espouse ignoring religion and thinking for one's self.

* * * * *

"In 1915," said Tony, "Australia and Turkey went to war." Amazing the things he learns surfing Youtube.

I never knew anything about this till I saw the movie, that starred Mel Gibson, called Gallipoli. And I was in my thirties when I did so.

* * * * *

Some leftover bloggings from my trip in to Canada in August:
  • I had coffee with the former King of Wuxi. His son, he told, was in the cadets in Winnipeg. This is something I would like my son Tony to do.
  • I saw this very earnest old man in Vancouver. While we were riding the Skytrain, the man came up to Tony and offered him some candy. The candy was old, and to be honest, Tony was creeped out by the old man; but I told him to accept it and not to read anything into it. I then saw the man offer assistance to this old woman who had also been on the train. The elderly woman was hunched over as the aged often were and was pushing a shopping cart. She was a sad sight because someone should have been looking after her and she shouldn't be fending for herself on a subway. The man, full of zeal made pathetic by his elderliness, was clearly jumping at the opportunity to help this woman.
  • I asked Tony what was the best store we went to Canada. He told the big toy store in BC. I thought he was talking about a store in Van, but when he told me it wasn't, I had to rack my brain to recall that we had gone to the Toys R Us at the Willowbrook Mall in Langley. That was a mall I spent a lot of time making deliveries at when I was working as a relief courier driver.
  • At Winnipeg Polo Park, there was a Lego store where they had a display, full of lego blocks of human bodies, arms, heads and hair with which one could built a Lego figure on one's own. It was actually three for twelve dollars. They wouldn't let Tony build just one so I had to swallow the expense because it was sort of Tony's birthday.
  • At the St Vital Food Court, I had an interesting interaction when I was queueing to be served at a KFC counter. Being in China for as many years as I have, I can testify to how the Chinese don't know how to queue and how confusing it can be in China when you come to a counter with a bunch of Chinese people already there because you don't know where the front or the end of the queue is. Sometimes, the Chinese don't know when to move. Sometimes, the Chinese are standing in the midst of the queue, but really they are looking, having not made up their minds about what to order, and are in fact standing in the wrong spot. Stand back and try to decide what is going on and another Chinese person will come from behind and cut in front of you! Anyway, perhaps this is why I was confused at St. Vital. There was a woman standing about five feet from the counter. I couldn't decide if she was still thinking or was waiting to place an order. Unsure, I stood beside her. When the serving of the person in front of us had taken place, the woman did an amazing thing. She asked me what was happening. I told her that I was unsure as to whether she was ready to order or was still thinking of ordering. She responded that she was ready to order and she went to make her order; I going next. I really couldn't ascertain the woman's attitude towards me, but I did appreciate that she cleared the air of confusion. In China, doing what she did would probably have amounted to a loss of face.
  • Tony's 10th birthday was a bit of a dud. It was the day on which there was that typhoon that screwed up our travel plans.

* * * * *

I received a newsletter email from the New Republic asking if the readers were missing Obama yet. I couldn't imagine there being any reader of the New Republic who didn't miss Obama as soon as Trump was inaugurated. So I wondered what the New Republic was on about, but not enough to actually open the email.

Perhaps they were mocking the "Are you missing me yet?" billboards featuring W that were posted sometime during Obama's term.

* * * * *

I have been so long in Wuxi that I don't think of it as an outpost. When I see a foreigner, my attitude is "who are the fuck are you!"

* * * * *

We had a stint of assessing the English levels of workers at Johnson Controls in Wuxi.
Here are some things I observed:
  • I saw what looked to be a Communist party manual on a rack in the cafeteria.
  • The food in the cafeteria was horrible.
  • The tests were done on the fifth floor of a seven floor adminstrative building of what seemed to be a massive factory complex. Could a company like this in West support such a seemingly large administrative staff? I asked a colleague. He answered that he doubted it. Western companies would surely cut such things to the bone.
  • Assessing English ability is a hard thing to do in a strict quantitative way. You can tell who has good english, so-so english, bad english and who can't speak the language at all, but for me to explain why I gave a 51/60 to one person and a 48/60 to another is something I can't easily do except to say I was using my gut and the student said something that struck as worthy of a higher sore.
  • When I asked some the students to tell me about a famous person, I had a few tell me about Chairman Mao. "Old China was bad and its society was full of problems, New China created by Chairman Mao was good " was basically what they told me. You would think that Chairman Mao would not be the first famous person to pop in these person's minds. From what I have observed, Chairman Mao is not crammed into the people's imaginations anymore. So, why did they bother to tell me about Chairman Mao? Was it something about me being a foreigner, a devil as it were, and they're wanting to show national pride in the only way they have been conditioned to think about it? Was their imagination that stunted? That is, they know their political indoctrination and study nothing but engineering manuals for their work?


* * * * *

Thanks to Radio Derb, I read this magnificent travel book, by George Gissing, entitled By the Ionian Sea: Notes of a Ramble in Southern Italy. What is so great about this work is that the writer travels to these out-of-the-way places, not to check off an item on a bucket list but because of an actual spiritual yearning brought on by a reading of classic Latin and Greek texts. To experience these yearnings, he goes though a great deal of discomfort that no modern day tourist would be capable of enduring.

And along the way he sees some magnificent things and observes novel behaviors that would put 1960s counterculturists to shame. One such observation was the habit of a town in Southern Italy where locals would anonymously pay the hotel and restaurant bills of travelers to whom they never introduced themselves. Actions as far away from virtue-signaling as you can get.

I should perform those acts myself and not blog about them.

* * * * *

I have a nephew who is coming to China. He will be doing QC in Xiamen for the Canadian company that employs him.

Good for him and I hope his mother is proud.

* * * * *

On the 7th of September, in the morning, I drove Tony to school. While still at home, I worried that we were a little slow in getting out of the house, and I was bracing myself for an annoying experience by telling myself to not be, but I got very annoyed and displayed rage anyway.

On the drive to Tony's school in the morning there are three congestion points we have to go through. The first point is an intersection between Hui Shan Da Dao (a major road) and a road I am on, coming from Casa Kaulins. If we can get on this road early enough in the morning, we can breeze through the intersection; if we don't, we can be in a long lineup that takes five changes of lights to get through. This morning, the lineup was long and it was all in the right lane where people were trying to either go straight through or get into the right turn lane. What is most annoying about this long lineup are the cars that drive in the unoccupied left lane and try to cut into the right lane. You curse at these drivers and wonder why they don't just get into the back of queue like you had just done. Nobody wants to let these drivers in, so some pretty harrowing games of chicken are played every time traffic jolts forward because no one will yield to these queue-jumpers. The second point of congestion is at the next light that is about a block after the first one. If traffic is heavy, you have to play the same game of chicken with people trying to cut in from the left lane. But if you get there early enough, it is not much of a problem. At this second set of lights, I make a right turn on the road on which I am to drop off Tony and where there is a third point of congestion caused by an entrance to an apartment community. There is a resulting T-junction intersection where anarchy prevails because there are cars trying to making left turns onto the road from the apartment complex, cars coming from the opposite direction trying to make left turns into the apartment complex, all sorts of cars passing by the entrance and through the intersection as they drop off their children, no traffic lights or traffic monitors, and no rules as to who has precedence. It makes this congestion point the worse aspect of the drive to school. This particular morning, the 7th, I came to the intersection and a White VW coming from the opposite direction, trying to enter the apartment complex, started to make a left turn in front of me. It blocked my path and I had no choice but to let that car turn. At the same time, there was a small car exiting the apartment entrance on my right-hand side that was trying to make a left turn onto the road and it blocked the VW and me as well. These two cars had a stand-off which was resolved with the VW making room for the small car exiting the complex. But then an impatient idiot driver of a black sedan who was behind the VW decided he was going to do a passing left turn on the VW that he was behind. (This maneuver, that I have only seen in China, involves one turning car passing another turning car) This "brilliant" maneuver resulted in a jam that could only be ended by someone reversing; and this standoff only ended when the female driver of the small car got out of her car and got the driver of the black sedan to move. So, the small car made its turn, the VW made it turn, and I proceeded through the intersection by blocking the black sedan and preventing it from turning. I established eye contact with the driver of the black sedan and gave him a middle finger. I was knocking on the glass of my window as I did so; doing it so hard that Tony told me to knock break the window.

I then dropped off Tony, at a crosswalk where a uniformed person stood without doing anything useful like direct traffic at the T-junction. Continuing down the road by Tony's school is annoying as well because e-bikes and cars are all doing their own thing, getting in the way of others without there being sense of order or courtesy. From the road by Tony's school, I make a right turn on another long road where there is another congestion point that is annoying, if only in an afterthought sort of way. The road intersects with Hui Shan Da Dao, that major road I mentioned above. At the intersection, there are two lanes for turning left, one lane for going straight or making right turns, and a right-hand lane used for parking or bicycles. When there is a long lineup of cars by the intersection, some impatient drivers will try to get around the lineup by driving in the right-hand bicycle lane, and then if they are blocked by parked cars or bicycles, try will budge their way back in the proper lanes for cars trying to go straight or make right turns. The impatient drivers making this maneuver are squeezing themselves tightly against the cars in the proper lane. If they beside me, I won't let them in but again it is another game of chicken with these drivers.

What is it with Mainland Chinese drivers? Has the Chinese Communist Party so ruined civil society here that no one can drive like civilized human beings? The stupidest animal in the world is the Mainland Chinese driver.

* * * * *

Every time I go to Canada and drive, I find myself making a thank-you gesture, in the form of a military salute to another driver who has done me a nice turn in traffic.

Not once, I have done this driving in China. Not once. And I have encountered thousands and thousands of Chinese drivers., there being more of them than in Canada.

* * * * *

I happened to talk to a Wuxi Expat who was hanging it up, as the expression goes. Ten years in Wuxi and he was going back to his Anglosphere country. I take he had many reasons for leaving, like homesickness, but I could tell that he was also leaving Mainland China because he was sick of the bad manners of its residents and how dirty its environment was.

As I said in last month's entry, I would like to go back to a third country that doesn't exist. So I stay here as a result of a certain stasis. As well, I am not sure if my wife would want to move to Canada. She sometimes exhibits patriotism to her homeland.

* * * * *

By 9/11, we were back in the boring Wuxi routine where I went to work and did my intellectual hobbies, and Jenny did her business and tiger-mothered Tony with his homework every night and seemingly free moment of the week.

* * * * *

A new part-time teacher, who had some experience teaching English in China, expressed his frustration at how the Chinese students were just so dull and lacking in spontaneity, and how it was like pulling teeth to get them to talk.. He asked me (alluding to how I had been in China so long while doing so) what insights I had into dealing with it. I had nothing to tell him other than I did try some drills with them (tell me about some topic off the top of your head) and to appreciate the precious few who were not in the typical Chinese mold.

He did agree with my contention that the Chinese Communist Party was responsible for the deadening of thought.

* * * * *

This September, I don't have primary classes to do (or should I say to teach?) and so I have lots of free time which I am devoting to language study and reading. I am spending a little time studying French, Spanish, and German every day using the Duolingo app on my Iphone. I do a little more study of French via a podcast I listen to everyday where the teacher speaks mostly in French at a pace I can easily handle. However, I spend the majority of my time studying Chinese. I listen to podcasts and recordings, and I practice reading Chinese characters. Thanks to the Pleco App and Google Translate, I have an easy time identifying characters. I practice typing Chinese characters on the computer with the help of a Chinese text application that transforms my pinyin typing into characters.

I should spend my time doing something that makes me money. I had vowed that in September I would do some serious exploration of ways to earn money via the Internet. I haven't got around to it.

Here is a sample of my Chinese typing:

我是Andis。我是加拿大人。我住在无锡惠山区。我有一个中国的妻子Jenny。我们有一个儿子。他的名字是Tony。他是十岁。

我想大陆中国驱动程序是白痴。

我爸爸出生于拉脱维亚。她在2012年在加拿大去世。

中国司机是混蛋!

* * * * *

I did a conversation class with a pair of women about America. They didn't know much about America so I felt like a veritable expert when I talked about it. I also thought about what I really liked about American culture. To the students I mentioned that I loved American music, tv shows and movies. Thinking about it after class, I should also mention that I love following its sports and its politics.

Thinking about what I like about China, I would have to say I find its entire history very interesting as well as some poetry and Kung Fu. Chinese history is particularly interesting because it is like watching a train wreck. The hubris of Imperial China lead to a comeuppance and humiliation. The attempts to rectify these bad times has only resulted in more tragedy and darkness. The emergence of China as an economic power is not really something for which the Chinese can be proud. Their affluence is the product of the crassest materialism. If the Chinese Communist Party can keep its grip on power while maintaining this affluence, it would be a tragedy for the soul of humanity. Man needs freedom to reason and revelation to know his proper place in existence.

* * * * *

Because I had heard of a campaign the local government would conduct in order to warn drivers to have respect for pedestrians or be fined, I asked a female student in a Speakers Corner if Wuxi motorists were in fact stopping for pedestrians. The woman told me that they were; to which I expressed flabbergastment. I told her that I had never seen a driver do such a thing unless the pedestrian happened to be a position where the driver had to stop or was unable to swerve about the pedestrian. But she insisted that this happened a lot. We argued about for fifteen minutes. The woman said I only saw the bad. I told her that that was all I ever saw and that if there was courtesy I would have noticed it and celebrated it. She continued to insist that the drivers were becoming more courteous and if they weren't, it was because there were so many people in China. That was an excuse which I should have responded to by saying that if that was so, you would see Chinese people practice courtesy in times when there weren't so many people, but this was just not so. I further should have cited an example of my witnessing, on many occasions, situations where a Chinese drivers will cut off other drivers even when there are no other cars on the road.

Anyway, I was aghast at the woman's attitude and I couldn't tell if she was lying to me or was so completely unaware of how others see her culture.

* * * * *

A white sedan comes barreling onto the road, making a right turn, without looking, in front of the bus in which I was riding. The bus blared his horn at the car: an action I would I done but the driver of the bus was Chinese. I thought that being cut off by cars blindly turning right was water off a duck's back to the Chinese; but the bus driver was clearly annoyed at the driver of the sedan. So how is it that blindly turning right is so common in China when it does inconvenience other drivers so much that they will use their horns to indicate disapproval?

The depths of the Chinese mind is unfathomable to me.

[Or have the drivers been told to follow the rules of civilized driving?]

* * * * *

At this stage of my time in China (I am my 13th year) to complain about the local driving is to risk sounding like a broken violin. As one about-to-be-former Wuxi expat said, when I got on the local driving and complained about a recent outrage I had experienced, he had seen it all and there was no point in me continuing....

But the local drivers always find a new way to get me lathering in pure road rage.

One Sunday, I drove into a gas station lot to put more fuel in the K family Citroen C3XR. I noticed, after I turned into the lot and was approaching the pumps, that a car was trying to pass me on my right-hand side. He then managed to cut in front of me to get served at the one pump that was available for filling. I was livid. I was tempted to punch the driver. I instead blared my horn at him, opened the door of car so I could stand and give him the middle finger while repeating the one English swear word the bumpkin (for that was what he looked like) would understand. The driver's reaction was one of typical Chinese inscrutability. He looked at me and then looked straight ahead and drove very quickly off the lot. Coward.

* * * * *

The students, when I ask them, tell me they have no enemies. (I then tell the students they have no enemies because as as soon as a person becomes their enemy, the person is eliminated.) This answer, which is always the same, is very telling and a further proof of a lack of imagination on the part of the students.

Jesus Christ, a son of God, walked the face of the Earth and had enemies. He never told his followers to not have enemies, but to love them. The students, not being raised on Christianity, brainwashed by the Chinese Communist education system and modern saccharine be-niceism that they are allowed to be exposed to, would think it a loss of face to admit they had enemies. Meanwhile, I could think of many that I had, like Leftists, Atheists, the North Korean leader and local drivers; and I would not think of myself as a bad human being for declaring that I did. I would only be bad if I didn't hope that these people could change their ways.

* * * * *

The Democrats (I am talking US politics now) should be called out for their KKKism which is real unlike the KKKism they say that every Republican has. Besides being anti-black and anti-legal-immigrant, the KKK in its heyday was extremely anti-Catholic. Who is the anti-Catholic party today? The Democrats. That questioning of a Catholic judge nominee by that senator Barbara Boxer must surely have been out of the KKK playbook.

* * * * *

I went to Tesco on a Monday morning. I took a photo of a shelf of Bear Beer which I published in my Wordpress photo blog. I then experienced surreal lineup behavior while waiting to pay for my purchases. First, I witnessed was the woman in front of me evidently deciding that she had forgotten to pick up something, so she left her basket on the ground and walked to some shelf. Meanwhile another women got in lineup behind me and stood so close that she kept brushing against my elbow and making me feel like she was breathing down my neck. I had to tell myself that Chinese people sense of personal space radius is smaller than ours. Meanwhile, a family in front of me decided to turn around their shopping cart, which was beside the register , and leave the checkout aisle. It was like watching someone make a u-turn with a car on a very narrow road, say the width of one car with not many inches to spare. It would have made more sense to pull the cart out backwards. Meanwhile another group that was in front of the family with its u-turning shopping cart had a member come from the store with a bottle of cooking oil that they must have forgotten to pick up earlier. It was disconcerting for me to have people cut in front of me in the lineup. I even had a feeling that the woman behind me was with that group in front of me but I wasn't sure and I wasn't in the mood to have yet another person move ahead of me. In fact, it seemed that she wanted me to get out of her way but I didn't budge from my position right by the cashier who was close enough to serve me.

Queueing up and lining up in Mainland China is – I will use that word again – disconcerting.

* * * * *

One day, I got on the subway to notice I was on the train that had Chinese communist Party plaques and images decorating its interior. I looked at the TV screens to see video of Wuxi Metro workers holding a meeting of its communist party members. All the workers were attentively listening to what the meeting leaders had to tell them and some of them were then shown to be happy at be awarded some awards from the communist party. I got off the train and walked to my place of work and saw those 14 or 15 pair of patriotic characters that can be seen everywhere since President Xi took control of the Chinese communist Party. Rather grim, I thought to myself.

* * * * *

I liked the excerpts of Trump's UN speech that were played on the Andrew Klavan podcast. I particularly liked it when Trump talked about the current failure of Venezuela's socialist state and then added on about how Communism had failed everywhere including places like the Soviet Union and Cuba. It was a nice sentiment but how I wished he could have been really ballsy and talked about how it had failed and been abandoned in the People's Republic of China.

* * * * *

A student told me she had a pet turtle. The turtle was a family pet before she was born, and so this woman could tell me that she had a pet that was older than herself which was a rare thing indeed.

* * * * *

Mango Six, the cafe that moved into a part of my school's location shut down. The business was a complete bust. After a busy opening weekend, word got around that the place was expensive, people rarely came. I know this because I had watched the cafe from our school's new location and it rarely had any customers. Why it stayed open as long as it did was a mystery.

* * * * *

Sure, I read my bible every day. For myself, I put on a show of being sympathetic to Catholicism. But it entitles me to no claim to be a better person, for it has not translated into any virtuous actions. It hasn't even garnered me any criticism. To be thought less of by the people around me for even being sympathetic to Christianity, for rightly seeing me as a Christian who acts selfishly, would be a start for saving my soul.

* * * * *

Tony asking me questions about history was the highlight of September 2017. In particular, he was asking me questions about WW1, WW2 and other wars.

* * * * *

The last Monday of September 2017 was a day of torrential rain. I also was feeling less than tipper because of some bug I had caught or maybe some bad food I had eaten. My symptoms were lethargy, mild diarrhea, profuse sweating and a mild nausea that had my on the verge of vomiting. It was the worst day of the month.

Tony then caught the bug. He vomited at school, then at home and got to not go to school for a day.

I then told Jenny that she was probably going to catch the bug next. [As I type this, I just recently made the prediction. And really, I hope I am wrong. Because even if I am proven to be right, Jenny will blame me for the bug going around and will hate it that I was proven right. [Later: Jenny has succumbed to the bug, as I predicted.]]

[Tony returned to school, only to be sick again. This time, Jenny had to take him to the hospital...]

* * * * *

Did a BMW driver perform a fuck you maneuver towards me?  Or was it just his aggressive style of driving?

Here's what happened:  On the last Tuesday of September 2017, I was making a left turn out of Jia Zhou Yang Fang, the apartment complex which containeth Casa Kaulins, and the BMW driver who was behind me tried to make a passing left turn on me. [A passing turn is a maneuver I have only seen done in China and it involves a turning car passing another turning car.  I find this to be not cricket in the least]  I didn't yield to him.

I continued on my merry way. That is if you can call taking Tony to school in the morning is a merry thing for me to do and for Tony to endure.  The BMW was behind me, making a right turn as I did onto a certain  double-laned road whose name I couldn't tell you.  Approaching some lights with me in the right hand lane, the BMW then raced in front of me, coming so closely to my front end that I, who was in a passive state of mind, reluctantly honked my horn.  

The BMW after doing this then went into the left turn lane.  So the end result of the BMW's driving had me wondering if he was mad at my not yielding to him earlier.  Why swerve around traffic when there was no advantage to be had by doing so, except to show your rage at some other driver?  

The problem with this surmise is that Chinese drivers are often aggressive in a counter productive way.  How often have I seen Chinese drivers never take stock of a situation and just impulsively make an aggressive maneuver that is counter productive or makes a traffic snarl even worse.  And when I didn't yield to the BMW, the driver didn't honk his horn, as even a Chinese driver would do if some other driver annoyed him.

* * * * *

I used to say that NFL football was a game for men. No longer.

The NFL has become Leftist. Sad.

And the NFL isn't a private business, but in fact a quasi crony capitalist racket acting like a institution. By seeking to identify itself with local governments, it has tried to make money by identifying itself with the local communities these governments are supposed to represent: while at the same time holding these communities hostage if they don't shovel them tax dollars to build expensive stadiums that no businessman would in his right mind build with his own money.

The NFL needs to be held to account, and if Trump brings this about... Viva Trump!

* * * * *

Escape the totalitarian impulse.  If only were so easy as to get out of the Peoples Republic of China.  But as David Warren said in a late September blog entry, there has been an irruption of the totalitarian impulse in Anglo Saxonia.  So there may be no escape for me.

* * * * *

I wanted to talk about the NFL kneelers; the student wanted to talk about North Korea.  The student had seen a report stating that Trump wanted to destroy North Korea and that China was concerned.  I went on a rant about the duplicity of the Chicoms in the whole affair.  If there is a nuclear war, it is China that must bear the blame.  It has been aiding and abetting the evil Nork regime all these years. Later, I told the student, who is an NBA fan (hoo-hum!!) to watch how the kneeling controversy affects the NBA which has had a spat of its own with Trump.

* * * * *

I told the students that Chinese eat a lot of rice. One of the students, who had told me earlier in the month that Chinese drivers yield to pedestrians (see above), said that it wasn't so. "You only see the Chinese eating rice and don't see the Chinese who aren't eating rice!" she told me.

This argument didn't happen. But I should have used the example in my argument earlier in the month. It wouldn't have clinched the issue with logic instead of just facts.

* * * * *

The truth is that teaching English to Mainland Chinese students is tedious. It is a rare thing indeed when I find myself not feeling like I am running out the clock. I have been told that in other countries, this is not the case. The students have things to say and things that they want to say.

I can even give an example from when I was studying with a Chinese teacher of how I used my imagination when speaking. I remember once that I wrote a dialogue in Chinese of Xi Jing Ping and I in the bar, and the teacher was amazed by it. While I made many errors, I tried to say things that the Chinese teacher would have never thought of herself.

Disillusioned but persisting.

* * * * *

As September 2017 came to an end, we had the golden week holiday, in the first week of October to look forward to, and so I asked others what their plans were. Some told they were going back to their hometowns, and many told me that to go anywhere in China that was touristy in nature was worth the bother because they would probably be over run with people.

Jenny had thought to go to a place called Chocolate Town in Zhenjiang Province but I vetoed the idea and got Tony to agree with me by telling him that it was going to be way crowded.

We will go to Jenny's hometown for a day but I am not looking forward to the drive to get there and back. Last time, it took us over three hours to go about 97 km on a freeway.