Monday, January 4, 2010

Odds and Sods 2010

The space on the screen to enter text is blank, and I can't think how to fill it.  I will have to collect thoughts and observations best I can over the next few days.  I want to keep the fact that I made Obama the Wuxi Expat of the Year on the top of the first page for a while.
Why did I make O the 2009 WE?  To recognize his ability to garner unearned rewards.  Also, like it or not, Wuxi Expats are really collaborators with a soulless regime.  No saints that I know of here.  But then I don't get out much anymore.  Challenged to give a list of top ten Wuxi Expats  -- I couldn't make a list longer than one or two.
Does the gray Monday morning sky mean snow or rain?  I have taken the blue skies so for granted that the possibility of precipitation escaped my mind's eye.
Van Gogh's Letters
There is a site on the Internet where one can read the letters of Vincent Van Gogh.  I have been slowly working through the site, reading five of his letters a day.  The batch I read yesterday included descriptions of countryside that inspire me to write similarly about China, but, alas it is hard to make lyrical and poetic descriptions of what I see when I go back and forth from work.  I don't see natural beauty and I don't see a civilizing impulse in the buildings.  It looks like some child in a tic, stomped on parts of the city to replace it with his latest toy.
What would you do if...?
Asking the students to make questions using the above pattern, I had one student ask me what I would do if I had my own school.  A very good question and one for which I did not have a ready answer.
2010 Predictions
I have no predictions to make for 2010.  A lot of crap and a few good things will happen, as it does every year.  Something out of the blue may come and change my life  -- this being China after all.  I can only hope I rise to the moment when it does.
Nearby Apartment Decoration
The most annoying thing about living in a Chinese apartment is having an apartment nearby being decorated.  The workers will make lots and lots of noise.  Now Jenny tells me that the workers on the floor above us are making so much noise that they are scaring Tony.
Just trying to make the world a better place
Somewhere back in time, I recall this exchange, I can't recall the specifics, I had with a man where I said something about the exaltation of Victim hood that he seemed, to me, be advocating.  He got mad at me and said he was just trying to making the world a better place.  I recall this because I am listening to this podcast series about the problem of human suffering.  That man's approach, if I remember correctly, was from the Leftist perspective where essentially victims are to be exalted  -- that is, it is okay to blame everything bad in your life on some previous misfortune.  I would answer that man, now, by saying that it would be better to make people strong in spirit while seeking the help they would of course need. 
What do you think of Chairman Mao?
Some students asked me this question as well.  I equivocated.  I said he united China but made Economic mistakes.
Pascal and Montaigne
I am trying to read Pascal's Pensees and some Essays from Montaigne.  Pascal criticizes Montaigne in the Pensees.  Kenneth Clark, in his Civilisation series, talked about Montaigne and said that the essayist was a big influence on Shakespeare.  Showing some scenes from Shakespeare, Clark at their conclusion, said they were "pure Montaigne."  And I have come across some podcasts saying that Shakespeare was Catholic.  All this shows is that things can come full circle and that Shakespeare was a genius with a view of the world so realistic, many parties claim it to be theirs.
I like reading Pascal -- I find his thoughts illuminating.  Montaigne requires more effort to read -- he seems to meander, but I will have to give his writings more attention before I can state he does that.
The Journey West and The Romance of Three Kingdoms
Translations of these two great Chinese novels can be found on the Internet, and I am working through them also.  The Journey West depicts a world as fantastic as Middle Earth.

Historical Moment in Tony's Development
I am going to have to watch why I say.  The workers making noise in the above apartment caused me to say "Fack!".  Tony repeated what I said -- a dubious historical first.

Keep things warm in the Fridge
Where is the warmest place in a Wuxi convenience store?  In the Fridge.  Why?  They turn them off in Winter.  Just now, I pulled a warm coke out of the fridge at my nearby Kedi.  The Coke was so warm, I could have used it as a hand warmer.

The Coke is warm because it sits near the fridge lamp.  The lamps aren't turned off, strangely enough.
The Cold Continues
Before, I said I was losing my voice.  Now, I have this constant and deep cough.
AKIC Weekend, not.
It is another working weekend for me, though I don't have to be at school during the day.  The extra hours are nice because we need all the capital we can get for our trip to Canada.


Victoria Dixon said...

I need to read Journey Into the West next. I tried Outlaws of the Marsh, but it has so many characters and such a changeable story arc I found it difficult to stay interested. LOVE Romance of the Three Kingdoms.

This is my first time visiting your blog, so pardon my stupidity. Do you teach in China? What province? We adopted from Jiangxi.

Andis Kaulins said...

Thank you for visiting my blog. I hope you come back often.

I haven't heard of Outlaws of the Marsh but I may give it a try after The Journey novel. The Journey novel is long. I am about 100 pages into it as I read in my free moments at school. But I am enjoying it.

I have found a good copy of ROTK. I just gave it a quick peruse -- I think it will be worth reading. But first, I WILL finish Journey.

I am teaching in Wuxi, Jiangsu. A city of 4 million about 70 minutes by train from Shanghai.

Victoria Dixon said...

I begin to think all Classical Chinese novels are long. LOL. Does it have a cast of thousands? ROTK and Outlaws do.

I'm following you now. See you later!

Andis Kaulins said...

Cast of thousands in Journey, but I haven't lost track so far.