I opened December 2016 with some bouts of road rage that occurred as I took my son Tony to his school in the mornings.
One driver didn't put on their turn signals as they changed lane in front of me. I first tooted my honk for a long stretch at them followed by several shorter blasts.
Another driver was on his mobile phone and as well didn't use his turn signals. I tried to block him in his lane further lane changes as I blared my horn at him.
Jenny's natural father has a tumor in his liver I learned on December 1st. A tumor so big that it was sure to explode at any moment.
My wife Jenny has issues with her natural parents because they pawned her off after she was born. She was a third daughter: an unwanted girl.
There was a beggar on the Wuxi Metro. I gave her two rmb.
Andis Kaulins in Jewish Gematria Equals: 514 (The same as George Soros and rudeness)
Andis Kaulins in English Gematria Equals: 804 (The same as quietly)
Andis Kaulins in Simple Gematria Equals: 134 (The same as words Reagan and Michael Caine)
I passed a four car fender-bender one morning as I drove Tony to his school. It happened either because the drivers were riding each other's asses or the driver at the front decided to stop where he shouldn't have.
On a day off, I wanted to drive the area around Casa Kaulins but the amount of cars and e-bikes and the stupidity of their drivers was dispiriting.
It was even a sunny day but the haze, probably from pollution, made the area seem grimy and communist.
Mad Dog Mattis, Trump's defense secretary, is a warrior monk. Awesome! I say.
There ought to be teacher monks as well instead of the predator pervert types that far too many in education have proven to be.
Coming home from work one evening, I saw a man, walking down the street, who was wearing a full length housecoat. I took photos of him – I was walking right behind him – but they were blurry. Passing him and then turning around to look at his front, I saw a middle-aged Chinese man, with a plump Xi Jing Ping style face. He was smoking.
I very much have to watch my road rage tendencies. Another person cut me off as I was coming back from having dropped Tony off at school. I made a point of cutting her off and driving slowly so as to slow her down and annoy her back.
Tony says he wants to go to school in Canada, he says, because China is boring. How I wish I could arrange that.
Jenny has talked of putting him in an International school but that would be more expensive and involve us having to work harder....
Trump ties one on. I am very eager to get student reaction to Trump phone conversation with the Taiwanese president.
With the Taiwanese president being a chick and all, you would think his leftie detractors would give him a break. But women who are not on board with the progressive cause aren't women, at least according to progressives.
[I mentioned Trump in a Speaker's Corner after the Taiwan phone call and one student actually growled in disapproval.]
One student at our school – a kid he seems to be – is going to Montreal. He is a little chubby, wears glasses and whines like a teenage girl. His English is not particularly good [I couldn't never have gotten it out of him that he was going to Montreal.] and he sits in classes where he doesn't understand anything at a level much lower than all the other students. I made some attempts to get him to talk but he didn't seem to appreciate the attention. All he does at our school is sit in the library and play games on his computer or on his laptop. He eats lots of junk food for his meals.
If I were his parent, I would beat the living snot out of him. What a waste of a life. What bad effects being affluent in China can have on one's children.
But having him move over is just what Canada deserves.
I have seen a wide variety of student personalities in my time. Some students you just not going to like. Really, one should feel sorry for them and not let them get under your skin.
The teenage kid with the attitude.
I had a one-on-one class with a male student who, like me, has a son in grade three. [My son Tony is in grade three.]
It was a Friday evening so I asked him what he was going to do on the weekend. He told me he was going to take his son to extra classes. I asked if him if he thought this was crazy. He said it was but he had to do it because everyone else was doing it. I asked him if he thought there was any benefit to all the extra classes and he said he didn't think there was.
When it was almost 9:00 PM, I asked him if his wife and his son was doing homework. (Jenny & Tony are doing homework at that time, much to my consternation.) He said, with a grimace, that they were.
I ended the class by asking him if he let his son play computer games. (I do because I feel sorry for Tony's rigorous academic regimen) He said he did as well.
So I was just a foreigner look at the primary school education and hating it. Many local parents feel trapped by it too.
I went to Maoye Mall with a colleague for lunch one Friday. Afterwards, we walked about in the mall and then walked to a subway station closer to the Qing Yang Carrefour. So, we were taking a stroll down Qing Yang Road. The area we walked past seemed overbuilt. There was a fifty floor skyscraper but walk away from it and then you saw abandoned infrastructure, like a escalator leading to an abandoned tunnel, and empty storefronts.
Jenny & I went to another mall: Hui Ju which is possibly the biggest of Wuxi's many shopping malls. I was surprised to see that the skating rink there had been turned in a pool of balls: the kind in which kids like to play and are a staple at many kid oriented places.
I wondered if the ball thing was temporary or because the ice rink was not a paying proposition.
[AKIC Critic: Think of all the kiddies who like balls!
Me: Don't go sounding like a leftist progressive about the children! There are higher truths at stake here.]
A student, who had been to Thailand, observed to me that many of the European and North American males who go to Thailand, do so for sex tourism.
I happily agreed with the student. Seeing how I have never been to Thailand myself.
Of course the reason I haven't been to Thailand is not so much that I chose not to go as to the fact that I am in a situation where I couldn't swing it. I don't make enough money and what free time I do have, I have to save for going back to Canada. I can't afford to go back to Canada that often, having only gone back three times in twelve years.
At the primary school I would love to ask the students this:
Do you shit a tree, a stump or a log? [There is a story in a book I am using for the class that features a tree stump.]
I can imagine, a few of the students – the ones that raise their hand to answer questions without knowing what they are going to say – stuttering and saying “I shit, shit, shit shit ...” At which point I would go to another student who might say “I shit my deskmate” or “I shit my homework” or “I shit a Samsung Notebook 7.”
In early December, I was thinking of going out and having a fancy (almost authentic) Christmas Dinner somewhere in Wuxi where I could even have someone agreeable with whom I could socialize.
I delayed making any effort about it for a week.
I then broached the idea to a Wechat Wuxi Expat contact but he said he was doing something for his business on Christmas day.
I then thought to ask the colleagues at work. Most of them expressed skepticism about being able to find an affordable and authentic Christmas dinner in Wuxi. Most of them planned to stay home on the 25th and do their own thing. I was thinking that I was just going to end up going to a fancy restaurant that day but not having anything really Christmasy and that I would have no one with whom I could chat.
But I persisted, sort of.
On the weekend before Christmas weekend (Christmas on Saturday and Sunday) this year, I thought of going to the Ikea Buffet again if someone could accompany us.
But by Tuesday, I was in despair. It seemed that on Christmas weekend, there weren't any options for me. Because Christmas was on Sunday and in China, I couldn't see myself having a decent meal out without parting with money or my time.
But that very evening, I got something on WeChat and we ended up going to the Kempenski Hotel for a family Christmas buffet.
How was the buffet? Read below.
I have this VIP student with whom I do two hour one-on-one classes. (Whether I am improving his English is another story.) He was scheduled to do a class with me on the morning of Saturday, December 24th: my birthday. I was going to mention it to him and try to book the class at another time but it turned out that I wouldn't have been able to get this change to happen. And then he mentioned to me that another of our classes happened to be scheduled on his birthday: Saturday the 17th.
Meanwhile our school Christmas party was lame. We were lied to about there being booze at the party. We had to buy cans of Heineken from a nearby convenience store.
Still, the people who attended were alright and the beer I did drink made me overcome my morose feeling as the party started.
It was very foggy one Wednesday morning. But, believe it or not, I saw only one car not have on its headlights or fog lights. It was actually more shocking than the fog which may well have been smog.
Later that day, I was at the Big Bridge Primary School where I was teachings some classes. There was so much water in the air that the bathroom mirrors at the school were fogged up completely.
Walking to school one morning, on Zhongshan Road, I passed three men who were squatting in a doorway all looking at their mobile phones. I should have taken a photo. What struck me about it was how old they were. To have seen teenagers or young adults squatting very close together while all were concentrating on their smart phones would hot have seen so strange to me.
I showed Tony the nativity scene from Franco Zeffirelli's Jesus of Nazareth mini series. Slowly, and not quickly enough (I know), I am trying to make Tony aware of Christianity.
Christianity is perhaps my only way out of this bind I feel I am in with living in China and having Tony in its education system.
Sadly, the person whose departure from our school I deemed a good riddance is back in Wuxi. Much as I was happy to see the departures of Clinton and Castro, and Brexit, it is the departures in one's personal life that really stick to my craw, as the saying goes. So, I am living in the sequel of a bad horror film where the crazed maniac was not killed.
My Birthday (December 24th) and Christmas were days full of anticipation, some small joys and some big disappointments.
I only had a two hour class in the morning to do on my birthday which was better than other birthdays where I had worked all day, as late as 9:00 PM at night.
The afternoon was spent anticipating the buffet dinner we were to go to at the Kempenski. I first sat around in the office at school not knowing what to do with myself. Eventually, I went to a nearby expat restaurant with a colleague where I had a beer and a western breakfast. This was all on Eric. This little gesture made my day. (Also I got a wonderful email from Archduke Harry Moore and a message from a student from one of my history classes) I then took the bus to Ling Ling's. She, who is a close friend of my wife Jenny, gave me a watch. While this was very unexpected and thus nice, I was very antsy as I stayed in her apartment. I was looking forward to going to the dinner at the Kempenski and imagined all the expats I would meet.
When Jenny, Tony & I finally arrived at the Kempenski, we were ultimately were filled with disappointment. First off, our seats were horrible. We were sat at a table tightly packed against another table right by the entrance to the restaurant area. We were right behind the backdrop for a stage set up for a show. The whole restaurant was set up in an area that was not conducive for a show at all. Set up on the third floor of the lobby area of the Kempenski Hotel, the buffet area was filled with columns, barriers, a huge decorative pool and curved hallways. I realized that the setup was a commercial activity done with the intention of packing as many people in the place as possible. Furthermore, I was the only expat at the whole affair, apart from staff. To end up going to what could easily have been a run of the mill hotel buffet in a Chinese restaurant was a big letdown. After 30 minutes, I was wanting to go home.
All that said, the food was okay, but again the atmosphere and seating arrangements of the place were a letdown and I had not much of appetite as a result.
Tony and I wanted to go home so we could check out the VPN router which had just been dropped off at a locker in the Wanda Plaza near Casa Kaulins.
Walking to Wanda, the traffic was something. The road that goes from our apartment complex to the mall was packed full of cars which were parked in every conceivable knook and cranny the road had to offer for parking, including in the two bus stop areas.
Christmas day was spent at home. It rained all that day and Tony had to do homework for three hours in the afternoon after which I went to pick up KFC for our Christmas dinner. Walking to the mall, I saw huge traffic jams. Cars were stuck in the intersections because they couldn't get through before the change of traffic lights.
I passed the time by exchanging Christmas wishes on social media.
The excitement of Christmas, for me and Tony, was all about the VPN router we got.
It was nice to get on Facebook and Youtube. But I want the VPN so I can download podcasts that are blocked in China as well as for downloading books from archive.org.
I should stop complaining about Chinese driving, but I can't help myself. The extent of the stupidity of local drivers is such that I can't go a week without being astounded.
First, there is a certain intersection that I go through where I know to look out for cars on my right that make right turns without looking. I either have to slow down for them or go into the left lane to avoid them. Well one day, I approached that intersection from the road of the crazy right turning drivers, and I was surprised – though I shouldn't have been – that there was a yield sign on that corner. So those drivers were all ignoring a yield sign or didn't know was a yield sign meant.
Second, I saw a woman put her turn signals as she was making a turn, not before when she was stopped in a lane where cars had the option of turning left or going straight, and the information would have been useful to cars stopped behind her. What the hell was she thinking?!? Clearly she was thinking in an way that was alien to a westerner.
I suppose I should just do a monthly Chinese driver report instead of interspersing them with my other blog entries.
I asked students what they had gotten for Christmas. Many of the ones at primary school told me that they had gotten apples. They didn't mean Ipads or Macbooks or Iphones. They meant the fruit.
An adult student told me that he had given his child apples for Christmas. He then asked me about this tradition came about. I told him that I didn't think it was a Western tradition.
Much to my consternation and surprise, the McDonalds near our school, which had been there since before I came to our school in 2004, was shut down. It seemed strange that it had because it always seemed busy. But thinking about it a little more, I do remember how the restaurant was often filled with seniors who sat at the tables but never bought anything.
What were these seniors to do? Some of them I spotted at the Briant cafe that is above the Nanchang Temple Subway station in late December. The cafe had been filled with lots of empty tables when I began to buy coffee there in late November. But then I saw a table of four seniors eating sunflower seeds, making a big mess and not one of them consuming a product from the cafe.
Talking about 2016 in a Speaker's Corner, the students and I agreed that Donald Trump was the year's most interesting personality.
Early in December, I had gotten comfortable with my probably spending Western New Year's Eve at home. David Warren said of New Year's, something to the effect of it having no civilizational significance anyway, deserving to pale in comparison to Christmas and Easter.
A tunnel from the Nanchang Temple market area to the Nanchang Temple subway stations has opened. I can take this tunnel to get to the Nanchang Temple Market McDonalds: the nearest McDonalds to our school.
It is good to not have any expectations. Sometimes good things will happen.
New Year's Eve, Tony & I went to a party at Casa Zoe, a Mexican Restaurant near the Nanchang Jie bar street area. I had a better time then than at Christmas as there were people with whom I could talk. I didn't stay till midnight as Tony wanted to leave early.