Gratitude: I am thankful, this week, to be living in China during the Spring Festival and thus having a week off. I am also thankful for discovering torrents.
Acknowledgment: The holiday will see me far too idle and far too indulgent of my son Tony who goes to bed too late and sleeps in till midnight.
Request: Please watch this video. It took me thirty hours to upload it. It will take you but five minutes to watch it.
The Week in Brief
Jenny tells me that we won't be able to do much during the Spring Festival holiday because we don't have any money. So when I haven't been on the way to work or at work, I have been staying in Casa K playing on the computer where there is more than enough things to keep me occupied.
What AKIC Is Reading this Week
- Don Colacho's Aphorisms: there are 2,988 of them. I read ten of them at a time.
- The Life of Johnson by Boswell. I love to read about Johnson spouting his opinions and thoughts – many of which are memorable like the following: If (said he,) I had no duties, and no reference to futurity, I would spend my life in driving briskly in a post-chaise with a pretty woman; but she should be one who could understand me, and would add something to the conversation.
- The Imitation of Christ by Thomas A Kempis. Finished.
- My Discovery of England by Stephen Leacock. Finished. ThE-Book is politically incorrect and thus economically wise. One chapter in thE-Book, Business in England. Wanted – More Profiteers, which was written in the 1920s could easily apply to today – it contains a plea for capitalism and an effective mockery of the economics of Obama and Mitt Romney. Check out this passage: The underlying cause (of the early 1920s economic distress) is plain enough. The economic distress that the world suffers now is the inevitable consequence of the war. Everybody knows that. But where the people differ is in regard to what is going to happen next, and what we must do about it. Here opinion takes a variety of forms. Some people blame it on the German mark: by permitting their mark to fall, the Germans, it is claimed, are taking away all the business from England; the fall of the mark, by allowing the Germans to work harder and eat less than the English, is threatening to drive the English out of house and home: if the mark goes on falling still further the Germans will thereby outdo us also in music, literature and in religion. What has got be done, therefore, is to force the Germans to lift the mark up again... This has been said about the Chinese.
- The White Company by Arthur Conan Doyle. An adventure set in Medieval Europe.
- History of the Conquest of Peru; with a preliminary view of the civilization of the Incas by William Hickling Prescott. I am really enjoying this history.
- Liberal Fascism by Jonah Goldberg. I finally got my hands on a copy of thE-Book! From what I have read, I see that Stephen Leacock was out-of-step with the times in which he made his observations about England – this is a good thing in my books.
Don Colacho Aphorisms that Strike Andis as Wise
- 903 Reading the newspaper degrades whomever it does not make into a brute. I have also heard it said the reading the newspaper everyday make one stupid. The reason being that the view of the newspaper is temporal, ephemeral, and thus limited.
- 908 The punishment of the man who searches for himself is that he finds himself.
- 914 Though he knows he cannot win, the reactionary has no desire to lie.
- 931 Let us try, as we grow older, to assume attitudes which our adolescence would have approved and to have ideas which it would not have understood.
- 951 To be authentically modern is, in any century, a sign of mediocrity.
- 954 “Solutions” are the ideologies of stupidity.
- 979 Tolerance consists of a firm decision to allow them to insult everything we seek to love and respect, as long as they do not threaten our material comforts. Tolerance, as I understand those who talk of being tolerant like it is a virtue, is really cowardice. I will never forget a man who bragged of his tolerance when he said he didn't have any problems with his daughter dating a boy dressed like a gang member.
A Quote from James Schall on Loneliness
Who is James Schall? You can find out here.
Here is one quote of his that I like a lot: Loneliness is an intrinsic aspect of healthy personality. There is and must be in all of us somewhere an interior, deep loneliness. We cannot escape this. Small groups, deep loves, comradeship, companionship, activity, all of these good and necessary though they be, will never erase the basic loneliness that is also about us. Loneliness, then, is the sign that we are never satisfied with any earthly love or work, a sign of the dignity of our creation. This too is why we must be somewhat skeptical about all enthusiasms and friendships that are conceived in terms of removing this fundamental loneliness. Should they succeed, they can only end up by making our lives more shallow. We are made for something else, yet this too.
Things I can't get upset about
I made this list a few weeks ago and didn't publish it, thinking I would have more to add to it. But I didn't. There are many things that don't upset me, and far more things that make me feel elated. The items in the list below are things that I have seen others get upset about that don't matter to me either way:
- Chinese beer.
- The high prices at Expat pubs. It give me a reason not to go.
- People not wearing helmets on bikes.
- Canada losing to the USA in ice hockey. (I hate it when Canada loses to Russia or Sweden however. When someone tells me they cheer for Russia against the USA – that gets me angry. But, hockey-wise, Americans are our brothers – I can't think of the Yanks as rivals.)
- Girls who are good looking and know it. Thanks for the free show. That is all I can ask for.
- The influence that Chinese parents have on their children. There are idiot parents all over the world but children should heed their parents.
- The process of making hot dogs.
- McDonald’s or KFC or Pizza Hut in China. It's all good.
Monday (the 4th)
- I don't work today.
- I caught the end of the Super Bowl. That is, I saw the 49ers, trailing by five points with less than two minutes in the game, have a first and goal on the Ravens five yard line and not score. I had tried to watch the game on television but I couldn't find it – the only sports being shown on the television was a Chinese Basketball Association game. I gave up hope of watching the Super Bowl live but when I looked for a game update at nfl.com, I clicked and got a live feed of the game on cbs.com.
- In the afternoon, the K family went to the local Tesco to stock up for Chinese New Year. We ate at a Hunan Restaurant first, and then went into the store which was stocked for the holiday with all sorts of CNY decorations, including toy snakes. To get home, we took a motorcycle taxi, once we were able to catch one – we had to wait for ten minutes before one passed near us. The taxi's driver and the security guards at our complex had an argument because the driver choose not to drive his cab through the pedestrian entrance, but insisted on having the guards open the car gate for him.
- I watch the Super Bowl highlights. I hadn't known that there had been a power failure.
- Mistake: I let Tony play Microsoft Train Simulator. It seems to make him miserable .
- If I stay indoors through the entire CNY, I will go mad.
- Red train incident: Tony wanted me to find a particular red train on Microsoft Train Simulator. I couldn't find the red train he wanted after cursoring through the menu of trains twice -- we have 80 or so trains to choose from on the program. Every red train I had shown him was not the train he wanted. Annoyed that Tony had pulled me away from my reading for the umpteenth time, I gave up and told him to find it himself, upsetting him to no end. He cried but then he tried to find it himself. Five minutes later, he pulled me away from my reading to show me the red train for which he had been looking. He found the train he wanted in the tutorial section of MSTS, and Dad was now able to find the train in the drive-a-train section. Look Daddy, there is the red train! He had never done that before – that is look for something in order to point it out to me and as aid in helping me find something for him.
- Here I was typing out the red train incident, when all I had to do was dictate into my iPad mini! I just discovered the dictate function on it!
- I listen to the ReJoyce podcast episodes #135 and 136. Listening to the the most recent John Derbyshire podcast, I learned that Finnigan's Wake has been translated into Chinese and it's a bestseller in China.
- I have put together the Scenes from My Life in Wuxi China Video #38. Now, if I can only get the thing uploaded to YouTube! I haven't had any luck so far.Tuesday (the 5th)
- I work 1300 to 2100.
- It's wet and miserable outside.
- I decide to not go to Subway because I wasn't interested in walking downtown Wuxi in the rain. (I learn later in the week that it was just as well that I didn't go to Subway.)
- “There are two kinds of socks at my home..” said the student as I started to giggle, keen to know what he was going to tell me, “my mother's socks which are.... and my father's and my socks which are....” The closest thing to interesting that happened in that class.
- I see this pair of fellows holding yellow flags standing at a corner. These people, who carry yellow flags and stand at corners, are usually performing some sort of community-service punishment. I felt sorry for them because they were having to stand under an umbrella and bear the cold damp weather. I was walking to the McDonald's when I saw them again. Waiting in line at McDonald's, these same two guys then cut in front of me while I was waiting to order. I was annoyed at them and, in my mind, I withdrew the sympathy I had for them, but I didn't make an issue of it beyond that.
- The following four entries (in italics) were dictated into my Ipad mini:
- Darn the dictate function of the iPad mini doesn't work if you're not with him I say you're not within Wi-Fi range.
- I forgot to mention that my wife made bread yesterday with her new bread-maker. She started making bread about midnight in about 2 o'clock in the morning she scared the crap out of me when she woke me up asked me if I wanted to try the bread that she had just made. I actually did get up and try the bread. However I was almost not going to but then I realized that's Brad I better try it so I got up and get it.
- I'm about to get Tony to make his first ever entry into the AKIC Block just wait for it. Here it is: Hello my name is Tony!
- The school gave all the staff a box each of vacuum packed meat.
Wednesday (the 6th)
- Damn! They closed down the Parkson's Subway. I find out the hard way as I go to get my lunch and dinner for the day. It has been closed down for a few days I learn at the office. I can only add that the sign for the restaurant replacing it has already been put up.
- I work 1300 to 2100 today. I will be talking about elevators in my English Corner and Pets in a Salon class. Interesting, names: Miki, Cherry, Sissy, Violet, Albert, Molly, and Carrie. One of these students (I won't be so bold as to mention the exact one) is a piece of work. I have been told he plays on an Ipad till the last possible minute and shows up for class fashionably late – he thinks he is going to Harvard.
- I just took the latest Pew News Quiz. I got thirteen out of thirteen questions right along with 8 percent of the population.
- I have just listened to episode #138 of the ReJoyce Podcast. I have caught up!!
- In the English Corner, there was a student who could recall the first time he was in an elevator. He entered the elevator and said he couldn't understand why it wouldn't move so he stood inside until someone else came in and pressed a button. Later, when he had to leave the building, he told me he was too intimidated to use the elevator and so took the stairs.
Thursday (the 6th)
- The temperature will dip around zero today so I am wearing my thermals or long johns or long underwear – whatever you choose to call 'em.
- I didn't sleep well last night. Tony lay beside me as I tried to fall asleep, and he was being no help as he kept tossing and turning, singing Ultraman theme songs, and kicking me. At five a.m., I was looking at my Ipad.
- I see some snow falling as I make my way to work. It won't stay on the ground though.
- I work 1000-2100. At 1000, I have a four person private class which is not something I do so early in the morning on a Thursday but then the students, who are full-time students, have twenty day off for the Spring Festival. At 1300, I have an Advanced level private class with a good student and a student who isn't really advanced – I may have to repeat the latter student. My hope had been to push him through so we could have him go to a lower level. With another student present in class, I will have to keep up the standards. I will do a salon class in the evening on Physical Fitness – I should change the topic to mental fitness. At 2000, I have a private class, topic: the Fitting Room, with the girl who told me last week that she was going to go shopping for underwear.... That underwear-shopping conversation had me thinking of Homer Simpson. I imagined or recalled him doing a short gasp of fright which was followed by sounds of heavy footsteps, a door slamming, a car door opening, and finally tires squealing.
- At lunch hour, I went to the toy section of Ba Bai Ban to see if I could buy something for Tony but I had no luck, which is probably just as well since Tony HAS ENOUGH TOYS! I was hoping to get him a Ultraman action figure but I didn't see any. I did see another piece of track I could buy for his train set but I wondered if it could fit with the track he already had.
- Researching on the Internet I have found that I can use the u-turn piece with the Plarial track I do have. So! I am gonna to buy it!
- It is snowing in Wuxi. (Two people liked the link on facebook.)
Friday (the 8th)
- I work 1000 to 1700 today. We finish early and the Spring Festival holiday begins!!
- It is below zero.
- I listened to the Russian Rulers Podcast episode about the end of the Soviet Union. It puts me in a even better mood.
- Last evening, interesting class about superstitions as the students asked me some interesting questions about religion and Socialism. Responding to questions, I told them that students weren't taught socialism the schools I attended but mostly were naturally socialists anyway, and then hopefully they smartened up, though more and more don't seem to be if the election results in the USA are any guide. I then found myself defending the Christian and Buddhist religions. “Religion answers a human need,” I told them, “and if we don't worship a god, we will worship something else like celebrities or national leaders!” Then, I had two lame classes. Most of the students weren't talking. One student however did talk – her performance was quite admirable though her English was all over the place.
- I say to the students： 新年快乐！
- The last dinner of the Year of Dragon was eaten at Pizza Hut.
Saturday (the 9th)
- I don't work today. It is the first day of my seven day Spring Festival (Chinese New Year) holiday.
- It is the last day of the Year of the Dragon.
- It is my wife Jenny's birthday. She was born on CNY eve.
- Last night, I started playing with torrents. They are wonderful things. I now have the short stories of Evelyn Waugh, Clock Orange, the Lord of the Rings, the Chronicles of Narnia, and Free to Choose by Milton & Rose Friedman on my Ipad Mini E-Book reader.
- Torrents seem to work like Napster and the peer-to-peer software from nearly ten years ago. Like then, I have spent a lot of time looking a the download screen hoping for something to happen.
- Jenny spent the day cleaning the house. I helped her as much as I could cleaning the bathroom, the toilet, and the bedroom.
- We had a big CNY eve dinner: just the three of us.
- Like last CNY, Tony is very scared of fireworks. He will plug his ears and cry whenever he hears some. And he has heard a lot, and will hear a lot.
Sunday (the 10th)
- It is Chinese New Year!
- I don't work today.
- I was up till 300 AM last night. I finally finished uploading Scenes from My Life in Wuxi, China #38 to Youtube. The upload started on Friday at 1100 PM.
- Looks like the K family going to stay in the house for a second day in a row. I asked Tony if he wanted to go out and he refused.
- I am in the dog house so I walk around the house with a guilty feeling. Even trying to help the wife doesn't allay the guilt I feel because I can't escape the feeling I am putting on a show to try to assuage the guilt which makes me feel like I am irredeemable anyway. If I try to read, which is all I want to do, I can't enjoy it because I know I will be given heck for reading a book and not doing something else.
- What did I do wrong? I don't know.
- I have am having great fun with torrents. I have downloaded some fantastic e-books by some of my favorite authors.
- I end the week waiting for the episode #139 of the ReJoyce Podcast.