The way I ought to be wired

Albeit it in the office.

I thought I’d try going online from the office using my computer. After a little fiddling with the settings, I’ve done it. Instead of using the antiquated, crippled-hamster-powered piece of junk, I can now use my slightly aged, twin-weasel-powered computer instead. I’m also going to try using the ethernet connection at home again now that I have an IP address and all the other details. It’s possible that that runs through the school, which would mean, in theory, that we don’t need a separate Internet connection or pay money to get one set up.

What do I need ultrasound for?

We went and did the medical this morning. I had to do the full monty (no, not that full monty), but Glen and Row also had to go through some further tests even although they had everything done in Australia before they came here.

My tests included an ultrasound scan which must’ve shown that I have, probably, internal organs.

It’s a good thing that they didn’t want another urine sample, because I barely had enough for the first one. I’m feeling an outrageous pun coming on. I was taking a piss so they could take the piss. Sorry. I need to get these things off my chest, especially the bad ones.

Meanwhile, on the door to the X-ray rooms said something like, “The pregnant woman please explain”. Ah, Chinglish. Ya gotta love it.


Earth girls are easy

What a bunch of perverts.

There’s an entry over on ESWN (08.08.14. No guarantees the link works; I haven’t bothered with ESWN in a long time because it became moribund) about some foreign blogger who made some rude remarks about Chinese men and women, which, in turn, led to some Chinese blogger calling on Chinese netizens to hunt down the culprit and expel him from the Glorious Motherland.

Although I’m sure it’s not confined to middle-aged foreign men, the number of dirty old foreign men in this country seems disproportionate to the number of foreigners in general. Our programme seems to have had more than its fair share of these people who are a bad advertisement for foreign men in general.

It also doesn’t help when Chinese girls are willing to put up with these hentai. Old and unattractive – foreign, ergo rich. The scales tip to the right.

No more free-range DVDs?

A colleague of mine in Tianjin is suggesting that the ban on free-range DVDs may well be permanent there. As I said (in a recent entry), the shops in Changzhou were devoid of anything worth buying. I went to a local shop last night and although they had some recent stuff, the rest of the foreign films selection was pitiful. I must check out some of the other DVD shops locally and see what their situation is like. Although some foreign films are released in cinemas in China, many more have only been available on DVD, especially the ones which have been banned. It’s been the only way the Chinese have been able to see many Western films, and these things provide an invaluable source of entertainment for ex-pats.

I’m now regretting that I didn’t buy the first two DVDs of the second series of Dr Who while I was in Hong Kong in spite of the expense. In fact, I thought that the whole series might be available on the Mainland sooner or later, thus saving me a considerable sum of money.

Nanny does seem to have been thrashing around a lot on the media front recently. SARFT (State Administration for Radio, Film, and Television; rhymes perfectly with “daft” in my English), which is the body that regulates the media here, has been banning this, that, and the other from prime time TV. There have also been moves to terminate parodies of Chinese culture, famous figures etc. posted on line (these being done by the Chinese themselves). With a possibly permanent ban on pirated DVDs apparently sweeping the country, I’m wondering what Nanny is really up to. After all, isn’t DVD piracy just another means of ripping off foreigners and, therefore, patriotic?

[08.08.14. When I first came to Wuxi, we had a couple of decent DVD shops in town, but these eventually vanished. There are still small DVD shops around, but their offerings are generally pitiful. Too many third rate B-movies, and I get annoyed with Mr DVD trying to persuade me that they’re all excellent. I’ve been informed there’s a better shop somewhere out in the New District, which doesn’t exactly make it convenient.]

Female Demon in Water.

The film I bought last night was The Lady in the Water, a fairy tale with a modern setting. Paul Giamatti meets a water sprite who is trying to get home and must recruit the people living in his block of flats to help her because many of them have some special role to play along the way.

It was all right, but I think it might’ve been a film which was better seen at the cinema. Ron Howard’s daughter didn’t have to work too hard for her money, apart from getting a bit wet.

The sub-heading above is the Chinese title of the film.

[08.08.14. Fixed the cranky formatting.]

It must be the way they brush their hair

Are these people thick or what?

We were taken to the airport last Monday and arrived in Shanghai in under an hour. Unfortunately, the bus from Hongqiao Airport took just as long to get to the railway station, and we had to wait an hour before the train left. When we got to Changzhou, we found that the driver didn’t know where the hotel was. We’ve been staying in the Jinling for the past couple of conferences, and I didn’t pay too much attention to the name of the hotel which was the Jin Jiang. We were at least in the right area, but the hotel was on the corner of the intersection north of the Shangri La and Jinling Hotels.

The Jin Jiang is actually new, and we were there because we were being used as guinea pigs. Overall, it was very nice, but the rooms had one oddity. Where there should normally be a wall dividing the bathroom from the rest of the room, there was a window. From what I could gather, it was so that you could have a bath and watch TV, although I suppose it could alos be a source of entertainment for corrupt officials who, bored with TV, could watch their mistresses having baths. There’s a blind, but it’s hopeless because once the lights are on, the blind merely becomes translucent and you can still see in and out.

I largely didn’t bother with the conference. I did attend the bits where I might’ve been expected to participate, but the rest was merely a repetition of what I’ve seen so many times before. I went into town instead, or back to the hotel. The first time I went into town, I thought I’d go to Mian Ai Mian, but when I got there, I found that it had been gutted. I don’t know whether it was being refurbished or relocated. The former struck me as pointless because the place was barely over a year old. So I then went to the DVD shops where I found the shelves empty of foreign films. There’d obviously been a recent crackdown (i.e., the police, not feeling inclined to pay for their DVDs, decided to confiscate them).

However, I did investigate mobile phones. I’ve been avoiding buying one for a long time now, but the situation with the phone in the flat was making it hard for people to get hold of me. Also, I want a normal phone where you dial the number and that’s it. You don’t have to dial about 30 numbers first (not much of an exaggeration) before you even get to the number you’re calling. So I ended up buying a mobile phone last night, a Moto Razr V3i which was recommended to me by a couple of teachers at the conference.

Fortunately, we’re only going to have one conference this year, so one good thing came out of this one.

There were quite a few more Brits with the programme this year, and a surprising number of “Canadians” were actually from the UK. Didn’t seem to be so many Americans. It was good to see James and Katie again. They’re now way out in Chengdu (about three hours by plane from Shang­hai). There is a flight out there, but it could be prohibitively expensive.

Meanwhile, from the wall of one of the piano practice rooms at the International School we have “I Want Play Sex”.

Finally, it seems to have been National Stupidity Week in Changzhou. I guess I’m used to Fuzhou where people don’t stare at the laowai, and you get very few hellos from people. In Changzhou, the staring was all too apparent. I was sitting on the bus to the station, and some halfwit a few seats up spent much of the journey gawping at me, as did just about every migrant worker around that part of the town. We were sitting having breakfast, and had a bunch of hotel gardeners staring through the window. Perhaps people in southern Jiangsu Province are especially stupid.

[07.08.14. In comparison, Wuxi is a far more metropolitan place. Witless gawping tends to occur when the bumpkins are in town during holidays; comments about me not being local can occur all year round, but aren’t too frequent.]

The anonymous Herr Doktor Kollisch

Perhaps I’m just being too picky.

The Guardian has a story about the history of ecstasy. In the final paragraph, it says:

The true father of ecstasy, the Guardian can reveal, was an anonymous German chemist called Anton Kollisch…

Now as far as I recall, “anonymous” means nameless (Greek an– “not” + onym– “name”); yet we know the name of the chemist was Anton Kollisch. I understand the meaning being attributed to “anonymous” in the sentence, which is that Dr Kollisch was not so much anonymous as not widely known.

Vista-isation (Take 3)

On my holidays.

I got back from Hong Kong yesterday afternoon, but that’s to start at the end of the story. Let’s go back to the beginning.

My ankle (which I’d twisted rather nastily the previous day) was sufficiently usable by the following morning, although I still didn’t fancy the trip down to Maiyuan Lu to see if I could find a taxi. In fact, the taxi came to me. Well, all right, we met halfway. I was passing by the gate next to which is a large poster with the Three Represents (the wit and wisdom of the previous Emperor) on it when I saw a taxi being warmed up for the work of the day ahead. I called out to the driver who knew exactly where I wanted to go and didn’t try to take me all the way to the airport.

Actually, because of that stroke of luck, I reached the airport a lot sooner than I’d expected. When I got to check-in, everyone was checking in to the 10am flight to HK (in fact, HK was the only destination for most flights apart from a single flight to Taipei). Next to my flight it said 910 which I took to mean that I should check in at 9.10am. The numbers referred to desks 9 and 10. Doh!

In spite of serving a city of nearly six million people, Fuzhou airport is a quiet place. Our plane landed; people got off; we got on. I think one or two other planes flew out, but the place wasn’t exactly bustling.

At the entrance to the airport grounds, there was a line of peasant farmers selling melons. It was a bit sad really, because there are way too many melons and not enough customers. Also, because fruit and vegetables are sold by weight, produce tends to be chubby, which I find repellent.

Once we were away from Fuzhou, the skies cleared and the flight went quite smoothly until about 20 minutes out of HK, the right wing lurched upwards about 30° for no apparent reason. The explanation was given in Chinese, but if the word “turbulence” was used, the pilot would’ve been lying. Actually, the statement might’ve been

“This is the co-pilot speaking. I’d like to apologise for that slight bump before, but the pilot was attempting counter-revolutionary manoeuvres and has been dealt with.”

I noted that the banking was much more circumspect as we came in to land.

I should say that that’s about the end of the story. I wasn’t exactly in Hong Kong for one of those conventional holidays. My suitcase was just over 8kg when I left and almost 18kg when I returned. Yes, that’s right. I went raiding bookshops. The problem was that I was reading the books and then having to buy more.

I did go to the HK Museum of Art to see the Etruscan Exhibition, and I went out to the Heritage Museum where they had an exhibition about entertainment in HK and one that was an art gallery set in a supermarket. I took a trip in the direction of Tsuen Wan, but to be honest there isn’t a lot of interest out that way. In fact, that part of the Territory rather resembles the Mainland in the quality of the housing.

I went, sort of accidentally, to the Zoological and Botanical Gardens, but I’ve now seen a live orangutan. It was rather inert, but at least some of the gibbons were a little more lively. There were also some pink flamingos, but such birds struck me as being too large to be kept in an enclosed area.

If I could’ve found somewhere to get a T-shirt printed, I would’ve got the following made

Don’t want a suit.
Don’t want a massage.
Don’t want a fake Rolex.

The weather kind of dominated the first week. Typhoon Prapiroon had skirted close by and the Observatory came in for a lot of flak afterwards because they only gave it a level 3 rating. It depended on where you were as to how bad it was, and since there was a range throughout the Territory, there was no way that one signal would’ve fitted all. When I went out to Tai Po, I could see the aftermath because quite a few of the trees there had been battered. In Kowloon, we’d had a lot of rain.

The big one was Saomai which hit Zhejiang Province and would’ve brought strong winds and heavy rain here as well. In spite of it being the most powerful typhoon to hit China in 50 years, I’ve seen little or no evi­dence here that anything happened. However, it’s much more humid here than it is in HK.

I have a few days off before I head back to Changzhou for the biennial workshop for which I received a programme today. I had hoped that the new boys, being old hands, would’ve come up with something that wasn’t just a repeat of every other workshop we’ve had, but it’s not to be. It’ll be three days of a.) being told stuff I’ve heard before and b.) being told how to do a job which I do for ten months of the year. These workshops are a gross waste of time and ought to be restricted to the newbies.

[07.08.14. Thoroughly overhauled the dreadful tagging.]