Thursday, October 8, 2009


I am in a retrospective mood, even if only I am so about the past week.  I should catch up on my blogging and keep you up to date about what is happening now in Wuxi.

I am reading the Wind in the Willows, for which I must thank Joe and Maralin for bringing to me.  It is kids book which I should read to get in a proper frame of mind for telling Tony stories too.

On my holiday, I read Mark's Twain Huckleberry Finn, Truman Capote's In Cold Blood, Michael Crichton's Sphere, and fairly-current copies of the National Review and the New Republic.  Huckleberry Finn is a such a good book that I am ashamed to admit that I haven't read it till now.  Parts of it were downright hilarious.  In Cold Blood was a very literary rendering of a senseless brutal murder of a family of four in Kansas.  Sphere was brain candy -- a better than average thriller -- Crichton's scientific asides make the novels were worth reading.  The National Review and the New Republic are American journals of opinions -- NR is center-right and TNR is center-left.  I inhabit the NR sphere.  TNR I found to be boring at times and not very illuminating.

Questions about the Countryside
I tried to get the students to answer some questions that occurred to me about the countryside.

I wondered if it was just me, or were there fewer policemen in the countryside than in the cities.  The students did tell me that there was something to my observation but differed on reasons as to why this was so.  One student suggested that there were less policemen in the countryside because the demographic that caused crime, able-bodied men, were migrant workers working in the cities.  The remaining demographic. old people, mothers, and children weren't into crime.  Another student suggested that the policemen had other lines of work to make money and so weren't in uniform.  Another student suggested that there was nothing worth stealing in the countryside

The canals in the countryside around Beixing all organized in a straight grid pattern.  I asked the students when this was done.  One student told that the canals could have been made hundreds of years ago in a previous dynasty.

Asking about land ownership in the countryside got me unclear answers.  There seemed to be collectives which shared fields as well as big government operations that ran whole areas.  I never got an answer as to whether the houses were owned or not.

My final question was about dilapidated bridges.  I saw a few bridges have crumbling railings with whole sections simply missing.  Asking my wife, she said it was the result of accidents over the years causing the railings fall off.  When I asked about the nature of these accidents my wife seemed uncertain.  Other students suggested that some the bridge railings had been cannibalized by farmers who needed the concrete for some personal use.  Another student suggested that the bridges had been built in the time of the Cultural Revolution and had not been replaced since.

What the students did on their holidays
A far too common answer to the question "What did you do on your holiday?" was "stay at home!".

Comments about the Parade
I was interested to hear the students reaction to the October 1 parade in Beijing.  A few told me that it was boring.  And after having seen footage of previous National Day parades, the 2009 was nothing out of the ordinary.  A few noted, as I did, Chairman Hu's enthusiastic response to the marching women in their skirts showing off nice legs.  A student told me that the head of one of the units was a model for car advertisements.

Apparently, a unit of Wuxi soldiers was in the parade.  They were displaying their self-propelled artillery pieces for the Chinese politburo.

Jenny and Tony in Wuxi
For the time being, my wife and son will be in Wuxi.  Jenny will eventually have to go back to complete her driving course.  

The return was accompanied by the inevitable complaints about my not having kept the apartment clean.  To be honest though, my wife was being picky for in fact the apartment was neat and organized.

The School
Things are slow at the school.  Things should pick up once everyone is fully out of holiday mode.

The trouble machine
These days, Tony is a trouble machine, I tell my wife.  She agrees.  Tony is just too damn curious.  He can't keep his hands out of anything.  He also really loves to rough house his father.  And if he wants to go somewhere, he grabs a parent by the hand and tugs with all his might.  When you say no!, you have a fight on your hands.

I have one anecdote I should relate about a walk I took him on in Beixing.  I decided to go a long way from the in-laws' compound.  Fifty minutes into the walk and fifty minutes from the compound, he fell asleep.  I carried on for ten minutes before returning to the compound.  Just as I got close to the compound and Tony had had a 45 minute nap in my arms (he is heavier to carry when he sleeping), he woke up all refreshed.  I had to continue the outing for an hour longer than I had intended to.

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