Saturday, August 5, 2017

July 2017 Notes

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Dominion Day is what I like to call Canada's National Day.

The parliament of Canada changed the name of the holiday, which had been called Dominion Day, to Canada Day in 1982. I have come around to the opinion that it was a stupid thing to do.

Canada was not established not July 1, 1867. What happened that day was that Canada became a confederation and established a federal government. Canada existed as a colony of the British Empire long before that. The British loyalist colonies that were north of the United States were referred to as Canada probably even at the times of the American Revolution.

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I showed my son Tony the old Canadian flag and he said he liked it better than the new one.

Tony likes flags.

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On July 1st, I was in Wuxi. I posted some patriotic Canadian things on Wechat, the popular Chinese social app. I didn't meet any Canadians that day. I did meet a tattoo artist from South Africa. He was a very friendly gregarious person so I politely didn't tell him about my distaste of tattoos. So, I was very Canadian.

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In a salon class, many of the students told me they felt guilty when they were playing computer or video or phone games because they felt were wasting time. The full-time students told me they had a notion that they should instead be studying or doing homework.

These thoughts annoyed me. One shouldn't feel guilty about having a little leisure, I was thinking. I pointed out to the students that the video games they were playing were the product of people actually studying – the activity they were thinking they should always be engaging in so as to not feel guilty of wasting time. These computer programmers had to study their craft and what's wrong with others enjoying the fruits of their study?

To me it seemed that these students were saying something akin to it was okay to cook, because it was work, but not to eat because eating wasn't working. You work to serve others; I told the students, and so it isn't wrong if we let others serve us.

Of course, the students should only feel guilty about playing computer games when they are overdoing it.

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The students' lack of imagination. I hadn't been thinking much about this topic recently and if you read my recent blog postings, you will see my complaints have been about the local drivers and their cheating and their selfishness in traffic.

The fact of of the students' lacking of imagination struck me as I returned to the slog of just doing classes with adults and teenagers – no more primary school classes. All of these classes with the older students for me are an exercise in running out the clock as I just can't expect any of these people to engage me in anyway. To burn time, I spend my class time pretending to be Don Rickles to them. It at least keeps me engaged.

My awareness of the lacking of imagination became more pronounced after I listened to an Adam Carolla podcast. [I had stopped listening to Ace for a while, but started listening to episodes again when I read an article ranking his podcast with that of Andrew Klavan whose podcast episodes, I told you last month, I always listen to from start to finish.] Adam and his co-hosts discussed a question which I thought I could use for a warm-up in a Speaker's Corner: What is the biggest animal you could beat up in a fight?

Stupid me. I, despite twelve years of doing this, thought I could get an interesting discussion going full of imaginative answers. I instead had a student tell me he could beat a whale in a fight and another telling me he could beat a tiger. They either didn't understand the question or they had the lamest of imaginations.

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How bad are the students' imaginations?
  • They can only imagine girls with their clothes on.
  • They can't imagine anything outside of their homework.
  • They think homework is useful.
  • They tell me they can't remember their childhoods is an answer they give me when I ask them about their childhoods.
  • They like to make sentences where everyone should do something. “Everyone eats vegetables because it is good for their health.”

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The students tell me that they don't want to move to America because it is too dangerous. As proof, one student used the story of the Chinese academic visiting America who disappeared recently making headlines in the Chinese news sites.

I told her if that was the case with America, then was she not aware of how dangerous China seems to foreigners because of the news stories that come out of it all the time? They would think China was a selfish society because of the woman who was run over twice because no one would help her after she got run over the first time. They would think everyone in China was being poisoned to death by the bad environment and the fake products. They would think it was dangerous to drive in China because of all the stories of stupid drivers that come out of there. They would think it was a dictatorship because of all the stories of internet censorship and the Great Firewall.

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AKIC's pedestrians complaints and anecdotes:

  • I was crossing the street heading towards Ba Bai Ban. An Audi, instead of waiting for the group of pedestrians I was among to cross, honked its horn and cut in front of us. I was doubly annoyed to see the driver because he was dressed up like a hot shot , had one hand on the steering wheel while clutching onto his mobile with the other. What a prick!!!
  • Another time I was crossing the same stretch of intersection, heading away from Ba Bai Ban when two cars tried to make a right turn in front of me. I didn't yield and I could see that the first car's driver was still trying to sneak ahead of me until she had to come to a stop. I gave her a middle finger. I saw that the second driver, who was male, was smiling and laughing as he gave me the middle finger and then a thumbs up to which I returned the latter gesture. I am doing that female driver a favor if the report I read of the authorities clamping down on drivers not yielding to pedestrians is true.
  • How many times I have seen a car gone through a crosswalk at high speed and swerving to avoid crossing pedestrians. Prick, prick, prick, prick, pricks!!

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I had a chance to walk along the Grand canal, near Taihu Square, because Tony was participating in an English speaking contest and it was decided that it was best if I wasn't present.

[It was Jenny's idea for Tony to participate. I'd rather he hadn't because there could be no good result. He could win which would only mean he had an advantage in having a native English speaking father or he could lose which meant that he was not as good as he normally should be. Jenny couldn't take him herself to this contest and while she did agree with my reasoning, she thought his participation would be good for him since the contest was being filmed in front of a big audience.]

I drove Tony and his buddy to the contest site which turned out to be a ten minute walk from the Maoye mall and just across the street from the canal.

So I saw I had an opportunity to walk along the canal, get on some bridges, and take pictures and video (which you can see at my Wordpress blog and on my Youtube channel). As I explored, I sweated profusely because it was very humid; but the parks were nice to look at, I got some good photos and I was the only person in the area.

The Grand Canal walk, as well, would not have happened if Tony had accompanied me because he would have whined. Having not a whining Tony at my side also made it worthwhile.

I was thinking that these parks were almost a waste to have been built because I couldn't conceive a time when locals would had the time to walk in them because they were always so busy. Kids couldn't wander them because of the summer heat and because they would be doing homework when the temperatures would be comfortable.

Details that I noticed included the puke green color of the canal water which was a result of algae bloom, trash, lots of public bikes strewn about, dead fish in the canal and a man who was living under one of the bridges.

Because I braved the humidity and recorded it in picture, video and writing, you don't have to explore this area. So thank me very much.

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Are the expats who live in Wuxi any better than the locals? Maybe in some ways, but in many ways they exhibit what is becoming bad about the West.

We had a trainer we had to fire, and who should have been fired much sooner than he was, because of his alcoholism. On a regular basis, he was coming to school drunk His finally being fired was a relief and I very much looked forward to seeing the last of him because I assumed that no one in Wuxi would hire him as a teacher.

But he came back to Wuxi. That wouldn't have been a problem except when encountering him on the street or in an establishment. But this person keeps visiting our school premises.

What the hell is wrong with this guy? From what I can observe, it has never dawned on him that he has committed shameful actions for which he should face consequences and maybe show some remorse. He seems to feel that the people who judge him and his actions are the people at fault. A very 2017 thing.

Another question is what the hell is wrong with the locals who abet him? Can't they see through his lies? Can't they see the wide gap between the things he says and his actions?

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There was a parade of freaks at the KFC by the Qingyang Road Carrefour where Tony & I were having lunch one day.

We first saw a man who seemed normal enough till you noticed that he was clutching onto a rain jacket on a very sunny and hot day, and that he was screaming in an agitated way at no one in particular. I thought he had had lost something and was trying to remember where he put it, but as he continued on with his visible contemplations I could see he was off his duff.

The next person to stand out was this obese man who passed our table, stared at me and Tony, and then crashed into the swinging entrance doors.

Finally, a man with a small plastic bag and hesitant manners, came up to us. I thought he was either going to ask us for money or try to sell us something, but he instead, after an awkward moment, asked us for the chicken bones on our tray. We gestured our permission and he picked the bones up with his bare hands. Tony even handed the man the bone of the chicken wing he had just finished. It was a new one on me, but before I could begin to think of why the person did this, Tony told me that he probably had a dog that he wanted to feed.

Tony's observation showed a quick wit that I honestly didn't think he had. Telling him I wouldn't of thought of that explanation, I gave him a high five.

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Some of our students are contemptible. One such student was with us last year. His English was poor and so he had a habit, when in class, of always asking the students beside him for translations when he was asked a question. I initially made efforts to help him but I gave up after he seemed to resent my efforts. As well, I continually observed him sit in the library and play on one of many electronic devices his parents had given him.

His English was so bad and his efforts at conversation so minimal that I only just learned before he left that was going to school in Quebec. By that time, I hoped I had seen the last of him.

But he came back to our school this month. He did the English level testing and was found to still be a basic beginner. This is good for the foreigners because we don't have to have him in our classes. Still, we have to observe him sitting in the library eating junk food and playing on several of his mobile devices. I make a point of not talking to him. His parents are rich and so he is a visibly lazy piece of poo.

I have been told that he is said to be good with robots.

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Doing a speaker's corner about things annoying, I had some students tell me that nothing happened in traffic annoyed them. I found this hard to believe because I had students voice complaints about traffic that were similar to mine.

Either those uncomplaining students didn't know how to voice their complaints in English, didn't understand my question, didn't want to voice complaints about their countries to a foreigner, or were the most tolerant people I had ever meet.

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I have passed many the aftermath of a collision between an e-bike and a car. What I have often seen is the driver of the car, while talking on a mobile, picking up the e-bike and anything that has fallen off the bike, while the e-biker sits on the pavement in pain or in bewilderment. The picking up of the e-bike that the drivers do seems either a case of the drivers feeling genuine remorse for what happened to the e-bikers or desperate attempts to reduce the amount of money that the e-bikers are going to demand from them.

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For the last two weeks of July, Wuxi was in the midst of a horrible heat wave with temperatures getting up to 40 degrees Celsius. Thanks to most places having air-conditioning, I survived and had but a few horror stories to tell. One noon-time, I walked to the closest Mall from Castle Kaulins and became absolutely drenched and blinded by sweat. I also experienced the phenomenon of my glasses fogging up after I got out of my air-conditioned car. The students I had to teach were lackadaisical, because their summer routine involved them having to do lots of summer homework. I didn't have any summer homework when I was in school, I told them.  

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