Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Thirty Seconds of Wuxi China Traffic #26

Thursday, May 4, 2017

April 2017 Notes

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

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


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


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

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

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


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

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


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


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

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

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


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

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


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

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


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


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

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


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

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

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


Tony and I have been watching Rick and Morty.


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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


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


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

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

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