Thursday, September 14, 2017

The Fascinating Psychology of Assholery

Just look at these two smiling faces. This is something that astounds me, intrigues me, fascinates me almost, but not quite, to the point of a smidgen of respect. How can these assholes do it?
The one ran for government and lost. He's an electrician who has lobbied against the Ontario College of Trades which is, as its name might imply, a college that teaches people and certifies them to work in skilled trades like construction, cement finishing, and, hey, even electrician work. He claimed that there was too much bureaucracy and huge fees. (His company paid the "huge" amount of 100 bucks a year it says in the article) He spent a lot of time slagging the college.

Well now, he's on the board of governors of the Ontario College of Trades. In the above pic he's smiling next to Stephen Harper, a man who was the worst PM Canada ever had, and who hurt average Canadians more than any man ever. A couple of the other antisocial personalities he hangs out with are listed in the article. They are all this kind of person that intrigues me. The way that serial killers intrigue me. Or people who never bathe or cut their fingernails. Or people who drink their own urine or tie heavy weights to their balls. They're all deviants on the same scale but money has made some of them socially acceptable.

I am positive this picture has been taped to many a Canadian dartboard and been viewed with comments to the effect of, "The dynamic dickheads," or "Which one's the giant douche and which one's the turd sandwich?" or you can make up your own. People hate these guys. And for good reason. But do they look like they care? No. In fact it is with endless fascination that I see guys like these, Trump, and businesspeople I have dealt personally with, (see last post), almost TRYING to get people to hate them. Like they are nourished by our hatred.

I have a theory that they believe they are more clever than us, deserve more money and power than us, and the hatred comes from jealousy. Or at least they have built that false idea up in a well constructed mental defense mechanism inside their heads. In truth it is what I call "don'tgiveashit" that allows them to be completely unprincipled and consider it a savvy business skill.

It doesn't take wit, brains or cleverness to lie, cheat and steal. It takes "don'tgiveashit." I can attract a person to a job with a contract full of big promises, then break the contract and cut the earnings and benefits to a fraction of what was promised, but I would never do that because I care what people think of me and I have a conscience. I KNOW it IS personal when you do crap like that and it is NOT just business. People like the above get a lot of mileage out of that phrase, but is business really just cheating, lying and stealing? It very well may be, but I give a shit, I see a problem with that. Dickheads like these guys depend on the majority of people either NOT seeing a problem with slimy business practices being the norm, or seeing the problem and doing nothing about it.

A fascinating moment in my "negotiations" the other day was when my boss fabricated a 45-minute class at the university where I'm teaching now. Along with a mystery informer who told her of these non-existent 45-minute classes. When the two of them just kept repeating this lie despite an official schedule right in front of them disproving their statement, along with school bells and the word of a 21-year veteran that there have never been 45-minute classes, they kept saying it like they believed they had the power to speak it into existence. Then when I finally relented and said, "Whatever, it doesn't matter. 5 minutes is no big deal," there was a palpable relief. Almost like the relief one feels after a nice meal. Like they believed they had finally shown themselves to be smarter than me by tricking me, and they needed that sustenance to maintain their business egos. Also, it wasn't just that they had done something good for themselves, it felt as though they believed they had done something good for ME!

To this point in the proceedings I had called them out on every attempt at deception and they were getting demoralized. The maximum 20 hours of work was never accompanied by 20 office hours a week. It wasn't in the contract and knowing that some schools expect office hours, I had asked about it in my interview and had been told that no office hours were required. The boss, during all the bad news, smiled at me and said to me, like she thought I was a 3-year-old, "But there is good news for you! You don't have to do any of the 20 office hours in your contract." I said, "Well that's handy cuz I don't have an office any more." This was met with, "WHY DON'T YOU, WHY CAN'T YOU.... YOU JUST DON'T UNDERSTAND OUR POSITION!"

When I started, Huasheng had a contract with #5 high school. That's where I was hired to teach and that's where the majority of my teaching took place. But I had small classes and some of my students from them told me stories about how their parents and the parents of other students feel about Huasheng and it was roughly the way I now feel about them. A bunch of crooks. So there wasn't much chance of getting enough work from #5 school. In fact, they LOST the contract. That's why every last one of the other teachers there quit and that's why they are locking us out of classrooms. And that's why I no longer have my office at #5 school. They still, however, proudly display the pamphlet at the Huasheng offices, that announces their affiliation with #5 because, like with me and my good reputation, they are hoping to improve THEIR low prestige through association rather than, you know, actually doing a good job.

Besides, with the way they removed breaks and added hours and hours of travel time, I'll be working or travelling to or from work, well OVER 40 hours a week. So it was a deke that I easily read. So were not being paid for breaks or travel time. It's a catch 22. The con-man mentality, which I've explained before, is the dominant business mentality in China. It was explained to me by a Chinese person. The same letters appear in the word "cheat" as in the word "teach." They believe that when they cheat you, they are doing you a favour and making you wiser so you won't get cheated again. But then there's this anger they feel when you catch them trying to cheat you. It's almost like they are angry that you are not letting them teach you a lesson. Like an unruly student. "Shut up and let me cheat, I mean teach you!"

I'll give you another example from my daily life here. I recently bought some cookware. It was on sale but it wasn't especially cheap. This is because it has the special bottoms that are usable with my hotplates. All other pots and pans, (like the ones I owned), don't work. It's like Apple making only their, more expensive programs, usable on their devices. Everything else is incompatible. It's a dick move. But there's more. The cooking surfaces, (the opposite of the bottoms), are also a problem. They are a shiny black material that is extraordinary! I've never known any material to which food more readily and firmly sticks. So you have to wonder at the mind that invented this surface. Did that person think it should be used as an adhesive? No. That person went out of his/her way to bring this hell into people's lives. "I'll show the world! I'll use it for cookware! Mwuhahahaha!

I stand over the pot with pasta in it constantly stirring and STILL there will be some stuck. Washing is more like sanding down the pasta deposits on the bottom of the pot. Everything! I cook noodles and there are little seaweed leaves SUPERGLUED to the sides of the pot. Again I can't wash them off, I need to sand them off.

There has got to be a cheaper to manufacture surface that could have been used. It's like they WANT to cause others pain, inconvenience and harm. I tell you there is pure evil in this world of ours.

The mystery is, how do they become like this? What causes them to lose their "giveashit?" Weren't they hugged enough? Is it something they were born with? I've spent my whole life trying to be good and honest not just so others will like me, but partly because of that. I can't imagine enjoying bringing sadness or pain or harm to others. Is it cultural?

The Italian word "mafia" means swagger or bravado. The kind of egotistical overconfidence that it takes to say, "Hey, maybe you don't want me to, but I am going to take care of you. You don't know it, but you can't take care of yourself. You're not smart enough or powerful enough. You need someone as awesome as me to protect you, to govern you. What if, (God forbid, genuflection), SOMEone should throw a rock through your window or all the windows on this street, or, Madonne a mi, fly a plane into a skyscraper or two, then what could you do? I can protect you. Now, it's gonna require a little payment on your part for the privilege of my protection, which you don't want. And if you don't pay this protection "TAX" we'll call it, then we're gonna have to hurt you a little bit. And your family. And your pets. And..."

My theory on this, and it's all psychology so purely speculative, is that mafia, captains of industry and government are largely made up of these egomaniacs who put SO much energy, time and thought into their love affairs with themselves that none is left to care about anyone else. This is why antisocial personalities, people with personalities overflowing with don'tgiveashit, are the absolute perfect world leaders, C.E.O.'s and mafia bosses. And this is why they all think nothing of making decisions that kill people no matter how directly or indirectly. Witness Trump in one of my earlier posts saying in an interview, as though he was okaying a new traffic light, "I don't like killing people but sometimes it's got to be done."

That's Europe and North America infected with this mental illness. Let's now fly to Asia. I once heard a comedian, it might have been Russell Peters,

 saying how when you bargain with some people the price might be 100 bucks and you could offer maybe 70 or something. Anything less and they'll just laugh and ignore you. But with the Chinese you could offer 10 bucks and they will start bargaining. They won't let you go either. They'll bargain for 20 minutes to get your offer up to 10.50 from the original price of 100. I'm wondering if my contract that went from Huasheng paying me 15000 RMB per month to 2000 a month was an example of the opposite of this. But I hate worse than death doing "business!" I HATE negotiations or any talking at all about money with my boss! And I NEVER bargain when I shop. I prefer to shop where the price is the price. No haggling.

My friend Heather thinks I should open my own English hagwon in Korea. I said to her that just these last few days of nonsense has taken a year off my life. I can't imagine what working every day with Korean mothers of my school's students would do to me! I just don't have the "don'tgiveashit!"

I was not interested in another second of haggling with Huasheng so I quit. Take it or leave it. I quit, was my offer. And I won. For now. But if they find someone who will work for 14000 a month, I might be out of a job. Or if they go out of business. It's another month till I get paid. If I actually DO get paid from them again. This will be interesting.

I wonder what this sort of personality does with bankruptcy. I guess Trump has a good model. He just sues the people he owes money to. So maybe in the next few months I'll be getting paid the 15000 a month I signed for, or maybe they'll sue me for something. Hey, it's nothing personal, it's just business.

BAH! It's just mental illness is what it just IS! Leastaways, that's what I reckon.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Ow My Ass!

Might as well start this one now with the memory of getting the wrong end of the pineapple still freshly chafing my sphincter. It was a matter of time. If you've kept up with the blogging, you know I've been treated pretty shabbily here by my employer Huasheng of Taiyuan. And as I saw the wheels coming off all around me, I chose to remain with them despite EVERY other employee quitting. I was warned by well-meaning co-workers, but I thought I'd try to soldier on because I JUST DON'T WANT TO CHANGE JOBS AGAIN! Why oh why dear LORD can't I find a job that's even half way decent in the ESL racket??!!

Just a brief recap: I started here in 2016 after abandoning the Renmin nonsense. I had a visit with friends in Jan. of 2017 in Korea and came back to move from Beijing to Taiyuan into my mosquito breeding apartment. I'd share a tour of it here but I still don't know how to make the movie file small enough to be shared on Blogger. Anyhoo, it was big, nice, cheap and a thousand times better than my hostel room in Beijing. So I was happy. I was interviewed by Josh and Faith and they told me good things about Huasheng. The best thing was that they don't mess with you. You have complete classroom autonomy. Something very important to a guy like me who employs far too modern, (and effective), teaching techniques for the "traditional" education system of China. They don't have an alphabet so they have to memorize characters. They get used to memorization and that's the way they end up learning Errrr verythang! But it's not good for natural English acquisition.

I GOT free reign in the classroom for the first half of my contract with Huasheng. I had small classes too. The only class I was micromanaged in was a class of three kids that was an add-on to my schedule. We used a book that suited their teacher's style, not mine. Their teacher was a Chinese gal named Zoe. She was nice. Joshua's wife. But she taught the traditional, Chinese way. Well, the two boys responded WELL to my teaching methodology, which was a departure from the boring book, but the girl was quiet. In the end the boys quit because they couldn't afford the class and the girl stayed. But her father came to class one day and asked me about her. I told him to ask her if she really wanted to study English, (knowing that she SUPER didn't!). He did, and that week was her last. This will come up later. Remind me if it doesn't.

So, yesterday I was told I needed to teach a class that I'd taught once before. Well, "taught." I was told by one person I needed to teach 5 12-year-olds writing and reading. I got to the class and asked Diana, the owner of Huasheng, what she wanted me to do and she said, "They want to learn listening and speaking." Then the students started arriving. Then 3 parents for every student arrived. All female, of course. The dreaded mothers. And maybe a few Aunts? I dunno. Then Diana and her team started arranging the classroom into a giant circle. The students and the parents were sitting there and Diana kept glancing at me expectantly. I was told I just had to teach a lesson. I chose a lesson from an online site I like about a Chinese guy who lost an expensive engagement ring in a restaurant and it was handed in by an honest patron so he bought 500 people free noodles. Shan Xi province is notorious for noodles so I thought this would be a good lesson. It had grammar exercises, speaking, listening, reading and writing exercises. The kids all said they liked it and they used the vocab and grammar points well in their lesson.

But this was not just an evening where I was supposed to teach a lesson even though that's all that I had been told. No, I was to sell a product on the night. Diana gathered everyone and made a massive speech like the commencement of the Olympic Games or something and then turned to me. I shrugged and said, "Diana, I have no idea what you said or what you want me to do here." Brilliant! Now the parents think both the owner and the teacher are morons! She then talked a LOT more in Chinese and then most of the mothers left and I was told to teach the lesson. I had to advanced kids, two intermediate kids and one very beginner boy. That took me 2 minutes to ascertain. So I set my level appropriately and taught the lesson. I had positive reactions and participation from all but the one glaring mother who remained behind. I don't know her story.

Last night I had the low student, (who I worked one on one with on the pair work cuz no partner was his level), one of the intermediates and a new boy. Three of the students, including the high level students, who obviously enjoyed my lesson the most, were missing. I was told the week before that their textbook, "Go For It" was finished by all of them. I looked through it and the topics seemed okay but it was a bit grammar and vocab heavy. I decided not to use it since they'd completed it. DUH! Well, this week the students had NOT completed it. That's the new story. In fact, some of the parents... oh shit, if you are an ESL teacher you know where this is going and it's a nightmare, suggested that I teach the book. I didn't think this was a terrible idea even though it wasn't the best. The topics were commonly used in good ESL environments. So we started on the book, which was NOT what I had planned. I noticed the answers were coming too easily and sure enough, two of the three students had the book and the answers were filled in. The new guy had forgotten his book, but had also studied the same stuff. I was then told that some mother or other had suggested that I RE-teach the book the students all used in their other English class. Taught by a Chinese person. Sometimes good, sometimes not. I dunno in this case. Not the re-teaching! NEVER good! Abysmally ignorant educational philosophy! Moronity! But their teacher, I have no idear. What was stupid was this whole Mother-suggested, micromanaged class. Then the height of stupidity: in the car on the way home, Sara, who had stood in the classroom the whole ill-fated lesson says to me, "The students say your lesson was too easy." Do you think it might be because I was teaching them something they had done in the classroom the day before? But this is how a poorly managed ESL school works. The owner desperately tries to use the stupid suggestions from parents, the students complain because the suggestions were stupid, then the parents complain to the school or just pull their kid out, then the teacher gets blamed. That's another new wrinkle to my contract: I will make 130 an hour and if the dynamic dipshits Diana and Liu find more students even though NObody wants to study at their "school," I get more. But, if a student is lost, my salary goes down.

With the translator, Sara there, and Diana sitting on a bed, and at the halfway break saying, "Not 10 minutes, 5 minutes!", I managed to get through the lesson. Why was Diana on the bed? Well it's a really good example of why Huasheng has an absolute shyte reputation in this town and why it only attracts bad parents and bad students. We got to the school, (the number 5 school where I had worked for the first part of my contract), and the building was locked. We got the key to the building and the CLASSROOM was locked. This has always puzzled me about #5 school, which is a very reputable school, and Huasheng, which is shyte. I had been locked out of the school several times before. Is Huasheng paying for classroom usage or just using empty rooms and paying nothing? Why would they be locked out so often? And why would #5 school tell them they can't use their school any more? (which is a fact even though, they ARE still using it)

I think they are just high jacking empty rooms for free. A brilliant money-saving technique by Huasheng! Many more to follow. So we got the security guard to open the school. Then, sure enough, the CLASSROOM had a NEW padlock on it. So we had to resort to a dorm room for a student that was empty. It had one desk and just enough chairs. So Diana had to sit on the bed. Which she did, scowling the whole time.

I had heard from students that I taught, and there weren't many of them, at #5 school that Huasheng and Diana were rip off artists. They had cheated the students and their families. They had lied about how they needed a lot of money to put into the education of the kids, but how it all went to pay for Diana's boy being educated in the U.S. Chinese gossip like anyone else in the world.

I had watched as several people, including Faith, the best English/Chinese foreign teacher co-ordinator EVER, just quit because of the crappy treatment at Huasheng. I kept on. As I say, I don't know why. I was told by others to jump ship and I was sure they were right. I'd heard horror stories aplenty of what Mr. Liu and Diana did to screw other workers but I just thought that maybe, somehow it would be different for me. Even though the first half of my contract included 4 visa runs paid for by me, (even though no other schools make foreign teacher pay for visa runs), a two month delay before your first paycheck they don't mention in the contract, and landlords in the area expecting an entire year of rent paid up front. I, with the help of the erstwhile Faith, was able to pay only 3 months, but after a move and all the other expenses, I was broke.

But I made it. I got through that tough part. Then there were two or three months when Huasheng had the tough part of paying me 15000 RMB. During that time EVERYBODY but me quit. Then, two months of not working. And not getting paid. Much. I got 2000 for July even though I taught a bit and my contract stipulates I should have received 3500 for it. I mentioned this to Diana on the night I'm writing about and she faked ignorance as well as she could after trying desperately to tell me that the August pay won't be until Sept. 15. I'm talking about July pay. August 15th I got 2000 and should have received 3500. It took about 20 minutes for her to stop acting like she didn't understand and say, (and we'll see if she actually does this or not), that she will look into this. I'll probably have to bring this up again when August pay is only 2000. That's how they roll here. No surprise. This absolutely elementary denial of fact, straight contradiction and getting angry when you are the one who deserves the anger are all considered brilliant business tactics here in China if Huasheng is any indication of the country's business.

But the nickel and diming I expected. What wasn't expected was a complete change of contract and a rigid sigmoidoscoposcapy for doing nothing but being a good, faithful employee. I didn't work (much), for two months even though I had offers because I wanted to honour my contract. I've remained faithful. I haven't broken the contract, though I could have. What do I get for that? The rodgering of the century. Here's how it went down:

I arrive at the appointed appointment time and see Mr. Liu go into another room of the Huasheng office to do an interview. Everybody who has ever worked at Huasheng has a shelf life of about 2 months or less. The interview went on for over an hour. I commented to Sara that it was a long interview for a short job. I don't know if she got that or not. I also saw Ms. Diana go into another room. The classic power tactic: let the other guy wait for you to establish some sort of fake authority. Fucking amateurs! I KNOW this was in response to my refusing to teach a bullshit sample class of 9 year olds to see if they liked the performance of the dancing bear enough to sign up for a class. I said that, due to our ongoing negotiations, I cannot teach this class because I am not under contract to you any more. Well this obviously pissed them off. I have to admit it felt good to get a little dig in, but I was to be vastly outdug.

The interview finished and I engaged in smalltalk with Liu for 20 seconds. How was the U.S. where you made SHIT TONS of money on kids camps that only the rich coal barons of Taiyuan could afford to send their children to? I didn't quite say that. He said it was good. I told him my summer was boring as shit waiting for work and getting daily transfusions by mosquitoes. Then he says, "There must have been some big misunderstanding. I was busy all day and didn't get your message till right now." I sent the message at 9 in the morning. It was about 6. Really? REALLY? you're THAT busy? First lie of MANY on the night.

He says you really misunderstand our position here. You are still under the same contract. You are not without a contract. So there was no reason to cancel the class tonight. The girls had a hard time telling the parents the class was cancelled. I didn't say, but that was HIS fault for, as he always does, ignoring my text message. Then he says, "What gave you the idea you are not under the same contract?" I said that the night before Diana had outlined a deal in which my contract totally changed and I was not going to make 15000 a month any more but 7 thou from the university, (TYUST), and only the max of 3000 from Huasheng. For the next 4 months that is actually 3000, 3000, 2000, and 2000. So 10 thou instead of the 60 thou we have a contract for. At first he tried to say it was just bad translation by Sara, but I told him, no, Diana wrote the figures down herself. Well he went ballistic. "How can you come in here and accuse, blahda blahda fake angera... I started foaming at the mouth and getting ready to punch his nose through the back of his head. I couldn't talk because of anger induced cotton mouth so I excused myself and got some water. I got back and we started again. I said to him, "Look, we are grown boys here, no need to play games or engage in office politics. I know I am here to negotiate and I'm not going to get extra. I'm going to lose money. I'm just here to find out how much I'm going to lose." He smiled at this.

Then we went into the "board room." Sufficiently late I guess they thought to repay me for cancelling the class cuz I just don't like to teach illegally while I'm not under contract. So Liu starts out with, "You are still under contract with Huasheng. You are still our employee and still will make the same salary." I said, "That's great! Okay meeting adjourned, let's go!" Everyone chuckled nervously then he said, "But, you said you are here to lose money. So let's continue..."

For what seemed like 3 hours, and might have been, Diana read a rough draft of my new contract rider, which was to be added to the TYUST contract even though it stated itself to be the contract with priority. Cart before the horse. I brought up this saying three times during the proceedings. I tried to get down to brass tacks to make the night shorter cuz I knew nobody in the room was being paid for this and I said, "Okay, with the rate you have told me Huasheng will pay, (8000 a month plus the TYUST 7000 to equal the contractual 15000 that they STILL lied to me and maintained I would be getting), and the hours available to you given the TYUST 16 hours a week, it works out to 500 RMB per hour, which is outrageous. I understand you're struggling, so I'm willing to try to make a compromise on the salary."

I was told to forget about that an listen to Diana. She went on and on for an hour mostly about small details in the contract that were obvious. Like, I now live in the free accommodation on campus at TYUST so Huasheng won't pay for my housing allowance any more. But before long it got into the guts of their ploy. "The year end bonus of at least 5000 RMB will be paid in Feb. You will be on leave so you will only receive 2000 RMB. That makes 7000. RIGHT but only if you pay me the fucking MINIMUM bonus! That went unnoticed, of course because nobody gets anything but. "Well, according to your contract with TYUST, you will be paid 7000 for that month, so we won't give you your bonus for finishing the one year contract with Huasheng."

Of course I told him that the 7000 from TYUST will be vacation pay. The 7000, or really what I had told Liu before should be MORE than 5000 given all the visa runs I'd done at my own expense and he said we'd negotiate when that time comes, would not be paid at all because I'd already be getting 7000 from the university. Apples and bowling balls, I told him. Again he got pissed off because another obvious cheat had been detected. So I plead for a while but he wasn't giving up so I wrote it on my paper.

Next I think it was the plane fare. The contract stipulated 12000 RMB for plane fare to be paid at the end of the contract. Well, the TYUST contract stipulates 14000 RMB so we won't pay you and we'll let you receive even more from TYUST at the end of your contract with them. I said, "Well that's going to be postponed for like 9 months because I signed my contract with them not even a month ago and I should get that from you in a few months." The response was direct contradiction. No, you won't  have your plane fare postponed. Why do you keep complaining? Why can't you understand our situation?"

Ummmm, YES, that plane fare will be postponed for a long time. What if I want to go home before then? They don't give a rip.

Then came another lie. Somebody, (they made up), had told them that TYUST classes are actually 45 minutes long. No, I have been told they are 50 minutes long; the schedule we BOTH have shows they are 50 minutes long; Margie, who has worked here since '96, says they are 50 minutes long; ALL ESL classes are 50 minutes long; "well no, somebody told us they're 45 minutes long."

I was trying to be affable, still not knowing THIS scam, and said, "Great, if that's the case, I teach a bit less. But it's not that big a deal 5 minutes." Well Diana knew a way to make it a big deal. She said, "So that means your 16 hour week is actually only 10.5 hours. This way you can work 9.5 hours for Huasheng." So I say, "Oh I get it, you're not paying me for breaks, bonuses or driving time." Let me point out, Liu, that you told me Huasheng is not saving money on this contract adjustment. I have a whole list of ways you are saving Huasheng money at MY expense. Again the feeble, "Well, you just don't understand our evil culture of greed. And angrily and with hostility shouting me down. That's awesome. AGAIN the faked anger at my inconsolable RIGHTNESS.

So they managed to extend my hours to almost 30 and with the driving time it'll be 40. I told them yesterday 40 hours is too much for a teacher. But driving time is considered unpayable time, just as sitting in a room translating and working very hard is considered unpayable time for Sara at Huasheng. And waiting for this endless meeting and driving me home is considered not payable time for the driver.

There is an 18 month MASSIVE bonus that was not mentioned in the whole proceedings. It's pretty obvious that this fish fence of a business with employees popping in and out every few days NEVER has anyone reach the 18 month mark so they never have to worry about this clause. But it's  a bonus I'll never see. I don't intend to work any longer than my contract for these losers, if that. I'll look at their contract, they promised it Friday, and I'll work, against my will, illegally AGAIN for them until that time. I'll probably see all kinds of bullshit and frankly, I think they want me to quit to save them the price of firing me. At least 5 times during his fake anger tirades Mr. Liu said, "We could always just end the contract now." and when I commented on how hostile he was, (which of course he countered with direct contradiction), I mentioned these comments. His response was that Diana had said this TEN times. So if you think Liu is the only villain here...

Back to Faith. She told me of a massive screw job she got from Huasheng and in particular Liu. She called him a "bastard" which was cute cuz she never swears. He IS a bastard, but Diana is also complicit in these shady dealings. The hardest part of the whole thing is they maintained the fantasy that I didn't see right through their obvious deception and tried to intimate to me how they wanted to maintain a long term relationship of trust and good will with me. When in fact, they want to maintain a long term relationship of conniving and cheating with me. Yet another employer who has mistaken my kindness for weakness. How could I have EVER NOT expected that in China? I guess I just have a habit of hoping for people to rise above their stereotypes. But am more often than not disappointed.

Okay, so at the end, I say to them that I have seen 1000 places go into receivership if I've seen one, when the owners surrender control to the parents. You have to trust your teacher. I have 20 years of experience, 6 recognized teaching certs, I've written two ESL books, I've had those books used with great success by other teachers, I've created hundreds of my own lessons and games which have also been used with success by anyone who has tried them, I've hobnobbed and workshopped with people in the industry, I've read and studied educational materials, I've taught at some of the best ESL schools anywhere, WHY would you not trust me? Why did you hire me?

This is what I ended with saying that letting parents decide my curriculum or sit in on classes or do anything but drop their kids off and fuck off was disrespectful to me. Back to my last year in Korea, where I lost all classroom autonomy and my two psychotic bosses started telling me to do everything wrong. Here we go again. Everything they're doing and asking me to participate in is the dying breath of a failing "school." Having the sample classes where I dance like a trained bear to amuse student is an obvious ploy of a failing school. Letting parents take charge - and invitation for disaster. Parents in the classroom? Ludicrous! But they're doing it all here and asking me to come along for the ride into the dusty depths of hagwon failure. I asked if they though Harvard ever accepted advice from students' parents or agreed to their professors teaching free sample classes. But they're too stupid to listen. This place will be out of business in a year unless Diana is ridiculously rich. And if she is, SHE OWES ME A TON OF MONEY!

I have agreed to teach ILLEGALLY AGAIN for three days for them. Tomorrow's class? I go to that abandoned school in the sticks of Taiyuan and teach 50 students. No idea of their level or what our goal will be. Liu said to get to know them then suggest something. For 50 people. Easy peasy, we'll read the dictionary and memorize definitions. After that "English Corner." I'm supposed to know what this means. I assume it's a less studious, less "traditional" fun English exercise. So I say, "So these are both for an hour? Well actually Diana says, 45 minutes. Maybe THAT'S where she got the mysterious 45 minutes from. In both classes students will be deciding on whether they want me as their teacher or not. Teachers, probably parents, Sara and Diana will also be there. Fun eh? Friday they tell me they will show me the contract in written form. It should have been done 2 weeks ago but when I said that Mr. Asshole, I mean Liu, just got fake angry and overvolumed.

I am almost sure I will read it and find it totally unacceptable. After that I may ask them to just let me transfer my visa to the uni I'm working at now or I may find YET ANOTHER job in this fickle field. Only time will tell.

So was that a scary tale, boys and girls? It is! Don't go to China to work! It can be a horror story!

Wait, there's just a bit more! I told you to remind me about the story of the girl who quit. There has been ONE student who has quit so far since I have been working at Huasheng. It was no coincidence that she was brought up as a last resort of a feeble mind at tonight's kangaroo court. At the very end Liu says, "Do you remember..." It was a girl who hated studying English. In that class that I hated teaching. The boring class with Zoe's curriculum. Her father came in one day and asked me what the future held for his daughter. I didn't lie to him, I just said, "Ask her." She had been quiet, as I said before, but also constantly tired and bored and given to minimalistic answers when prompted. It wasn't hard to tell that her father was wasting his money with this one. I did the right thing. Tonight Huasheng told me she was signed up for another two months of classes. To make me feel like there was something I had done to cost them money, perhaps to justify the theft of so much money from me.

I don't know, but it was pretty weak.

So, I think my choice boils down to teaching my 14-18 hour a week sched. at TYUST and working an extra 25-30 hours a week for the losers at Huasheng and getting paid about12000 RMB in total, OR working for TYUST, getting their 7000 a month and doing part time classes with mostly adults, mostly one on one and all at a better rate with no crap attached. 10 hours a week with THEM will net me 13000 RMB in total. And since they eliminated ALL of the bonuses I've been awaiting at Huasheng, I don't see much of a decision here.

Faith told me it might be possible to ask the uni for a raise since they ARE paying the lowest wage in China and they have two excellent teachers, if I do say so myself. I'll just wait and see.

A third option would be to just find another job. Three in a year! Yeehaw, my goal of stability sure isn't getting any closer!

Addendum: I was on my 4th beer when I started this. A little harsh, but not completely off the mark. Well, today I quit my job. (the day after this incident) I said that offer is unacceptable and I can't imagine you, with all the financial difficulties you are going through now, will be able to offer me what I need. I was just on my way up to the office of the foreign language department to ask if they could transfer my work visa to the uni and I got a message from Mr. Liu saying they will pay me 8000. That equals out to the 15000 a month of our original contract. It's what they promised me more than once. So now I have UNquit my job. But given this whole experience, I think I'll work to the end of December and then that'll be it. If the company survives that long.

Addendum II: I am also back to the drawing board looking for new jobs because I don't know yet whether they REALLY want me for the remainder of my contract or whether they're not just telling me they'll pay me what they promised in order to give them time to hire someone else, then turf me. For all I know, (I don't get paid for September until October 15th), come payday, they could just say the same crap about falling on tough times and not pay me at all or pay me the 2000 they want to pay me. NOTHING would surprise me here any more.

Addendum III: This is starting to look like my contract! It's now four days past payday and I haven't even been paid the 5000 for my work in July and August. What hope do I have of actually getting paid the full amount I'm owed on October 15th? I'd say very little. That being the case, every hour I work for these crooks, (which also includes 2 -3 hours of driving time), is an hour of free work. I applied to a couple places today. Got a response from one. Should be able to set up a Skype interview for tomorrow. This is looking more and more like I'll quit before September is out. The worst part about it is the Canucks are playing LA in Beijing on the 23rd and I just don't think it's wise to go. Tickets were a nightmare to get anyway. Even for Chinese friends. But then there seems to be an added challenge to almost everything I do here. Because... China!

Friday, September 8, 2017

May You Live In Interesting Times

Well, I'm all moved out of the mosquito den and into my on campus apartment at Taiyuan University of Science and Technology, hereafter to be called TYUST or TUST. I called it TUST before I saw that most people around here call it TYUST. Either or. No biggie.

So a LOT has happened in a short time and there's no way one blog post will cover it. In true international ESL modus operandi, everything has been done very last minute and with minimal foresight or planning. But, while this used to get me growly, I now expect it to happen. Cuz it always does. And if it doesn't, what a nice surprise! Manufactured positivity. Or what did I call it in my previous post? Positive negativity. I certainly didn't invent it, just trying it on and, like a good pair of shoes, it's getting more comfortable with wear.

My first class was scheduled for last Sunday, August 27, but there was a delay in signing the contract, so I couldn't teach. Now that I have taught that class, I realize what a break that was! After I had agreed to sign on, I was told by George, a fellow teacher here, (Chinese but he teaches English and speaks it well), that there would be 90 students in the class. Double majors meaning they're cramming two programs into one year. None of them major in English, so it's not a priority, or... even interesting, or... worth the effort of paying attention in class to some. I have now taught the class once and I had people using their cellphones, (not the translation programs either), doing work from other classes, daydreaming, no sleepers... yet. I always wonder why these students show up at all. I got them in Korea too. I often kicked them out or didn't mark them on the attendance, but they still showed up to do nothing. Ruddy mysterious!

George told me he was "shocked" that there are 90 students in the class, but I have hung out with Margie, another fellow teacher, (American. Been here off and on since '96. At this school!), and she told me the same class had 87 last year. What Margie told me, Saturday evening before the Sunday morning teaching time, was that even though I got a schedule from George that showed this class as a two-hour class, (long enough I'd say!), it's actually 4 hours long! So I went into the class half prepped. The biggest class I've ever had, the longest class I've ever had, and if not for dumb luck, I would have had to fudge two hours, the 3rd and 4th hours of a class the students were probably already tired of. Luckily, the first two hours were okay and because I did a little last second prep, the second two hours weren't the nightmare they could have been, but they were still an unsettling dream. One of those dreams that makes you "bolt upright" in your bed, as they say. But one you can still get back to sleep after. Thanks to Margie.

While I'm thanking Margie, I'll give her props for the absolute best thing about my new apartment: I've now had 5 nights of mosquito-free sleep. The first night was bad. Not as many as the old place but still enough to keep me on my toes. I got up 5 or 6 times to hunt down and kill some blood suckers. Stained the brand new, white painted walls in a few places with my blood. But on the second day here, Margie took me out to show me around the campus and give me an idea of where to catch the bus to the North Campus, where I was going the following morning for an 8 o'clock class. She mentioned a good, odorless mosquito plug-in killer that she uses with great success. Mine didn't work. So I bought one and it worked like a hot damn! I have all morning classes here so sleeping during the night is a must. And I can do it once again! Yeehaw!

Another great thing about this apartment is I can go to the fridge, stand directly in front of it, and put in or take out food. I don't have to reach in left handed from the side like I did in my narrow, sideways walking kitchen. On the other hand, (ar ar), this place LITERALLY has everything but the kitchen sink. I don't have a kitchen sink! I didn't even notice the first time I looked at it. So I now fill a big tub of water in my shower, wash the dishes in that and rinse them under the bathroom tap. Spaghetti strained over the bathroom sink. I hung the strainer on the bathroom wall! Veggies or fruit I need to wash, same thing. It's something I can adapt to but very odd.

Overall, I like the new place better than the old one. It's smaller but it feels bigger because I use every room. I don't have the useless living room or master bedroom here. The place, like the old place, was a filthy mess when I moved in. Everything I touched left a stain of grease dust on my hand. You know the crud that sticks to everything when someone has cooked with lots of oil on super max blast furnace heat and left the windows open to let in the dusty, smoky, polluted air of Taiyuan, the coal capital of China. And the feng shui was in the negatives. I had to move several things around to better spots so they'd be more useful and to uncover the limited outlets in the apartment. And it seemed, almost as if planned, everything was just not quite the right fit.

I moved a cupboard from one room to the little kitchen balcony add-on. But before that I had to move a table that was blocking up the kitchen traffic. This manoeuvre was one that would not require the skill of one who knows anything of wind, water or Taoism, just common sense. They were in the wrong places. But no sooner did I move them than I realized why. The cupboard, or cabinet, a thin metal, door locking unit that could have been used for books, clothes, almost anything, was a certain measurement wide. I measured the patio. It was wider. I assumed it would fit. Me being a rookie to China as yet. It turned out that my measurements, (I'd purchased a measuring tape the day before and was very well aware of how to use it), were faulty. Faulty based on an incorrect assumption of verticality here in China. You see, the walls of my hastily added balcony, slash kitchen without a kitchen sink, were not vertical. They actually were more of a v shape. So the cupboard or cabinet or whatever you want to call this thing, fit at the top, but as it got closer to the floor, it was snugger and snugger and then didn't fit. I tried to move it the easy way, but it was impossible because it JUUUUUUUST didn't quite fit. So I lifted it up and slam dunked it down to where it is now, (and probably forever after), will be. The bottom of the cabinet didn't hit the floor. It wedged immovable about 3/4 of the way down. But that's just fine. I am storing cookware and produce in the cubby hole beneath the cupboard that has created it.

The table that I removed from the makeshift, added on kitchen, was juuuuuuust a little too wide to fit into the bathroom. But I needed it to be the place where I washed my dishes. So, I removed the bathroom door. This was no mean task, let me tell you. It required the acquisition of proper tools and a LOT of muscle work where technical work failed. But I got it done.

Next was the old kitchen cabinet. It was located just outside the kitchen and could only be accessed by closing the "kitchen" door and then opening the cabinet door. It had plates and cutlery and such in it. There was also a curtain in the way that blocked the whole kitchen off and in summer will probably keep the whole apartment MUCH cooler if drawn. So this big beast had to be moved. I thought it might be good for a wardrobe in my bedroom. So I emptied it and dragged it to the doorway. It juuuuuuuuuuuuuuusst about fit, but not quite. I had to carry it in horizontally, which required some muscle, but I got it done. Then I started putting clothes into it. They juuuuuuuust about fit, but not quite. I had to take all four doors off this cabinet, and believe you me, this job was arduous and sweaty! But I got it done.

Then there was the computer room. Where I am now. The room from whence I removed what was to become the kitchen cupboard. It had two desks in it. One mostly glass desk designed for a computer and one wooden desk. I like wood better than glass and because my desktop screen juuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuust about fit under the top row of the glass desk, but didn't, I decided to use the wooden desk as my main computer desk and the glass computer desk as just storage. I have my rice cooker on it now. It's basically useless otherwise because of its close, but no cigar measurements.

The measurements of EVERYTHING here are just off by a few millimeters. I find it hard to believe that that isn't a diabolical ploy by the university to insert cameras throughout my apartment and live stream my struggles online or on live TV as, (perhaps), The Chinese Water Torture of Today. I can hear the Chinese TV tag lines now. "What would a foreigner do in an apartment with literally everything but the kitchen sink?" Tune in Thursdays to find out!

But that's just my paranoia. Right? Otherwise, after a MASSIVE clean-up, this place is actually better than the old place and infinitely cheaper, being free. I sleep practically mosquito free, I can reach into my fridge without contortions, I have a full King sized bed, hard as a rock, but comfortable otherwise, I have a shower that is enclosed and you don't need to turn on, and then wait for, the hot water to use, (the bathroom sink is the same for washing dishes, though... it IS the bathroom sink), and I have easy chairs! Two of 'em right in the living room! This makes my living room far more useful than my old living room. I've actually used it several times already!

The patio/kitchen will be good for my electric bbq too.

There ARE some minuses. Aside from what I have told you. The internet is the biggest. I was told, (by George), that the internet is pretty good here. Well it's not. The original internet I got was absolute shit. They tried to con me into accepting it, but failed. So they got me a new TP Link, which is STILL worse than the crappy internet I had at my old place. I told them I can just transfer my internet from my old place to here, since it's paid up till November, but they get all mealy mouthed about it when I mention this. "Well it's not convenient. It's difficult for us..." I think they want me in their wifi domain so they can keep track of where I've been. Why else would they be so opposed to my getting my own wifi, AND paying for it?

I tried today to watch the first NFL game online. I got it for close to 3 quarters resetting every once in awhile, but it just shitcanned after that. Didn't get to see the final quarter. Same goes for every Kia Tigers game I try to watch. This is Korean baseball and is more readily accessible without the VPN. I STILL can't get a whole game without several dropped signals and reboots. I find unplugging my router, then plugging it in again, might get rid of some hitchhikers, but it doesn't cure the absolute abysmal wifi offered here.

I will try yet again to get my old wifi, which had its problems, hooked up here. We shall see what happens.

I have low hopes to upgrade the terrible internet here because I've been told by several students that other students, (not them), know a way to hack into any internet signal within their range. They have a password breaking program that is really good. This is why every email or internet or anything they give you is bizarrely complicated. My password, without my consent, was set, by the IT guy at 1234567890. How fucking hard is THAT to hijack?

But I'm lead to believe that these code breakers will break harder codes than that. So I don't know if it's worth getting all steamed up about. Still, I have to believe my OWN internet with my OWN password would be better. I will work on them to try to get that. Yes, I am trying very hard to NOT accept free internet and get PAID internet. Because... China.

I have students from my class of 90 sending my WeChat notifications. At least I think they're from my class of 90. We opened up a group convo room and people have contributed to it. New people. Who want me to add them. I don't know who they are. I don't add unless I know who you are. Because of bad spammers in China. I think I've already pissed students off for this. "Where is David?" "David is in bed early." Why won't David accept my friend request." 90 people. Wanting to chat. Sorry, not getting paid for that. If you want me to add  you, send a friend request that says, "I am in your class." Don't just send your Chinese name. I have had several student do that and several spammers do that in the last week. The students will get all pissed off at me, I'm sure. But whatareyougonnado?

People who can't find the book online to buy. Management who won't help me in my navigation of the new job sites. Students who try to help but are being a little TOO helpful and asking me to give them things to copy for the whole semetre. I still haven't been told the starting and ending dates of the semester and am sure I won't be told till the last week. So it is impossible to distribute an accurate curriculum, syllabus or schedule. Certainly not handouts that need to be copied! I have to tell the very helpful students that I am handicapped by the administration. I hope they are okay with that. It's nothing new to me.

On the bright side, I'll get a good long winter break. I'm looking SO forward to it! I will likely be gone before December is out. And won't be back until sometime in Feb. Hopefully after the Olympics are over. But exact dates are not known and won't be until the day before. I can't buy tickets for the Women's hockey final because I might have to be in China to work. I may have to be on a flight from Korea to China the day Canada beats Sweden for the world curling gold, right around the corner from where I used to live, because people just can't plan ahead here. I think this is going to be excruciatingly frustrating! But it's all part of the job.

On the not so bright side, the U.S. and North Korea could be locked in an Olympian struggle of their own by then. This will put a massive damper on the Olympics, I'm sure. Residents of Korea assure me there is nothing to fear, but there are daily notifications of the defiance that has been the M.O. of North Korea ever since we've all known them.

I'm not going to tackle this one. It's a tough one. But I know, from living in Korea, that the North is childishly inconsolable when they observe things that they perceive as provocative. The South has tried to be absolutely humble and Jesus-like in their "Sunshine Policy" toward the North and they have been viewed as foolish and weak because of it. I would absolutely love to see things settled through diplomacy, but it's going to take more than Dennis Rodman to accomplish this feat. I fear even the rebound Worm couldn't actually get this done.

So where does that leave us? As the man says, "May you live in interesting times." I think things will be getting interestinger and interestinger as the weeks, months and maybe even years go by.

That's just my humble opinion.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Uncovering China

It's Monday. Two days ago I was told to stay home yesterday and store some water because some workers were going to come to check the "tubes." And they were going to turn off the water for the day. (So I assume tubes=pipes) Sunday, ah no problem! I don't need no steenking water! Except for cooking, cleaning, doing the dishes, flushing the toilet, laundry, watering plants, brushing my teeth and the air conditioner. Other than THAT...

But at least it wouldn't be so bad if I couldn't have a shower because I haven't found the right church for me as yet over here in China, so I don't do that much on Sundays. I can go a day in my own funk if I have to. And if I absolutely can't live with myself, I can pour some water over my slimy body and lather up. I have enough stored for Armageddon.


That's about 30 litres of water. Plus I have a full pitcher and kettle of drinking water. This is all tap water so not the best to drink. Just to be safe I don't even make ice cubes with it.

So I got up early, because, (of course), I wasn't given a time when the workers would show up, just "the morning." I showered and shaved and did everything that needed water I could think of. Even washed the floors. By 8 o'clock I had a house that was spic and span! And, since it's still hot and muggy here, I was ready for another shower. A few days before, I was sleeping and someone hammered on my door at 10:00 AM. This is when I get my best and deepest sleep. In my experience so far, Chinese knocks are like their voice volumes and the loudness and earliness in the day are directly proportionate. THIS 10 AM knock had 5 AM volume! It startled me out of a deep sleep and I jumped out of bed, fumbled for shorts and shirt and staggered to the door. But I wasn't in time. That day, both my employer and Faith got phone calls from the apartment superintendent so I assume theirs was the 10 AM knock.

But I was ready. Vigilantly avoiding a second shower so as not to miss their call a second time, I just sat at the computer and watched some pre-season NFL, surfed, watched a movie, ate, had an online argument, watched some TV... Incidentally, I WISH I was on The Amazing Race Canada this season! So far the only place they've been that I haven't LIVED was the starting point in Labrador. They went to Vancouver, where I lived for a few years, then Castlegar, where I lived for many years, then Nelson, where I lived for a few years, then Beijing where I lived last year. And they went to places IN these cities where I've been! Zuckerberg's Island, the big, orange bridge in Nelson I lived 100 yards away from, the Canadian Embassy in Beijing where I went several times... What next, Hamilton? Dundas? Jakarta? Maybe little Minokamo, Japan? Calgary? Ignace? Thunder Bay? How about Korea? Anyway, I'd be a ringer this season for SURE!

10 o'clock, no knock. 12 o'clock, so much for them coming in the morning. I waited all day. ALL DAY! Nothing. It seems that most things here change from day to day, even hour to hour, so they don't like to make advanced plans. It's annoying to someone like me, and let's face it, to ANYone, because advanced notice is nice. But it's something I've been told to get used to. When I was called at 7:30 to come to the school and teach an 8 AM class, I mentioned that it was tough to make it on time even though I live so close to the school. Joshua, who was my supervisor at the time, but like everyone else, quit, said, "Get used to it!"

I went to the cable company office to pay my internet/phone bill this morning. It's something I do on Mondays because there's no KBO so I pay the bill, a good 45-minute walk away, and then stroll in the park, another 20 minutes from the cable building. I usually get McDonald's. Today I was just early enough to get an egg Mcmuffin and coffee. The trip is never without its annoyances either. At least half a dozen people on foot, bike, car, truck, it makes no difference cut me off. I mean it's pretty obvious they see me, they know I am going to be in front of them when we meet so they SPEED UP to get in front of me. But they speed up only enough to get the calculated bonus of inconveniencing me and making me slow down or completely stop for them. It's the worst when it's pedestrians. I feel perfectly within my rights to continue walking at my pace, but I know that would cause me to trip the person or at least give them a flat tire. I think, "It would serve them right!" But even as I'm thinking that I always slow down or stop no matter how awkward it is for me.

Then at the cable office. I have been there 7 times not including the time I signed up. Each time I brought my official sign-up sheet with my account number circled on it in three places. I memorized the phrases duo shao qian, (how much money), and jiao fei, (pay bill). 6 times I've showed them previous bills. I pull out my wallet, take out some money, give them my account number, say how much and pay bill and without fail there has been mass confusion every time. Nobody yet has showed me how much I owe and it usually takes me at least 20 minutes to go through the miming and looking up words on my phone Chinese translator and they look up words on their translators and sometimes they want to refer me to the machines but usually don't. Actually today we used the machine, and it looked pretty easy. I thought you needed a card but cash worked fine. I might just try that next time to avoid the requisite panic. I called Faith and she was able to talk the person off the ledge and show him that exactly what he thought I wanted WAS what I wanted.

I got this in Korea a lot. People assume that they just won't be able to understand you because you're not Korean. Even if you make it blatantly obvious, even if you SPEAK Korean, sometimes they still don't understand. Or believe they don't. I think that's what happened to this guy today and maybe the ones before. It reminds me of an old Chinese folk tale. (how's this for foreshadowing?) A man from Cheng wanted to buy new shoes. He carefully measured his feet, then walked to the store. When he got to the shoe store, he realized he had forgotten his measurements. So he went back to get them. Huh? Huh?

But my whole point is it happens, and then I let it go. Unlike Korea. When a person speeds up to cut in front of me at, for example, the E-Mart in Korea, and I politely let that person in front of me, if that person stops directly in front of me so I can't move, begins contemplating some imaginary item on the shelf, because it's the fifty thousandth time this has happened to me in Korea I KNOW the person is just being a fucking douchebag and either I do something about it, or ruin my day WISHING I had done something about it.

Maybe it's because the Chinese haven't cut me off fifty thousand times yet. Maybe it's because I have been either off or on a low stress schedule for a while. Or maybe, in the land of Taoism, I'm starting to do what my life goal is, and what a T-shirt told me to do today. I can't remember the exact wording but I enjoy reading T-shirts here and a girl walking toward me had one on that read, "Change your mind to a new." Only a slight grammar error and tame compared to some you see over here. And, in Korea...


But the message was read loud and clear. So some of this stuff was expected, some wasn't and some is just at a higher or lower degree than anticipated. The biggest culture shock for me has been the number of little kids I see wandering the streets in these crotchless pants.


Now, the kids using the entire city as a toilet was something I got used to seeing in Korea. But the folks there had to pull down pants, underwear, maybe diapers. Here in China it's just squat and blast away. Kid convenience. Maybe they ARE still inventing things in China. Just in case you think I'm alone in my observations or being too harsh...


But I would have to say the best "aha moment" for me so far I stumbled across during this spell of downtime I've had. I've been trying to learn about China and although I have avoided history and politics and things that are heavily biased, I have always enjoyed the great stories from this part of the world. Yarns, myths, folk tales, Confucian anecdotes, Buddhist fables and Taoist allegories, I've read quite a few and even own books of them! I just LOVE that kind of stuff! And I have come to expect a certain wise, conservative, edifying tone to them. I'm sure you've heard a few and know what I mean.



Anybody remember this book? It was one of my favourites when I was a kid. I remember these exact pictures! And when I got to China, some of the boys in Beijing told me that this is a very conservative, sexually temperate country. A few of the guys who, unlike myself, still engaged in the courting of the fairer sex, told me that the ladies all tell them they are old style and traditional girls. Even the mention of any sexual adventurousness or, GASP, mental afflictions like homosexuality were positively shocking! Being gay was illegal until 1997 and was officially considered a mental illness until 2001. This supposed timorous, unenterprising sexual attitude in the Chinese has always seemed a bit odd to me. Hello? 1.4 billion people! I mean you look at India - Kama Sutra. What literature must be hidden in a country as populace as China?

So imagine my not-so-surprise when I dug up the following allegory of karmic retribution: And if you're like me, you can't help but read this in your mind in the voice of Christopher Walken telling the watch story in Pulp Fiction. It's called, "The Farmer and the Pig."

Ahheeemmm!!! Once there was a farmer in the Yangtze River region of China who maintained a relationship with his castrated pig. But one day he sold the pig to a butcher. After the pig was slaughtered its soul could not rest. After much mental anguish and suffering, the pig's soul traveled deep down into the bowels of the earth for an audience with the Emperor of the Nether World. There he met with the Emperor and said, "I cannot bellyache about being butchered for I was destined to reincarnate into a pig. But since my master had affection with me, he should not have sent me to the butcher for money."

After some deliberation, the Emperor decided that the pig was right and allowed it to take revenge on the farmer. That very night, the pig entered the farmer's bed chamber and bit him on his ass while he dreamt. When the farmer awoke, he felt an horrendous itching as though 100 mosquitoes had performed their proboscian penetration simultaneously around the ring of his ass hole. He scratched and scrubbed but to no avail. Somehow he knew that the relief he sought could be found solely through sodomization. Indeed, for many years that was the only cure for the incessant tickle in his anus. But as the farmer grew older, he found it difficult to attract men to perform this service for him. And so, he had to resort to bamboo stakes for relief. One day, the old farmer got drunk and the prickling sphincter returned. He happened to be near that same butcher's shop where he had sold his castrated pig. He hopped into the butcher shop half crazed with rectal irritation. He saw a knife that was used for butchering pigs and in desperation used it in an attempt to stop the infernal itching. Alas, he accidentally pierced himself and bled to death.
 
Now go to sleep little ones. Sweet dreams. Ha ha ha! I admit, I augmented the tale to make it roll off the tongue, but only through word choice. I have added nothing to, nor taken anything away from the plot. It's interesting that in a culture in which homosexuality is roundly hidden, (only 3% male and 6% female describe themselves as completely out), there is plenty of homosexuality in the old tales. Many animal fairies in Chinese mythology enjoy homosexual relationships with young men or boys. Dragons, as in "Old Farmer and a Dragon," prefer more seasoned sodomites. Interestingly, I thought, the stories usually include a thunder storm while dragons captured old men for sex. Dragons were connected to rain storms and were symbolized by, you guessed it, the rainbow.

There was even a temple in the south of China called "Double Flowers Temple" where a deceased gay couple were worshipped by the general public. But like so many, it was destroyed by the Japanese in WWII.

There have been books written by eunuchs who were the only man, well, "men" allowed into the Forbidden City and imperial palaces of Chinese emperors. They all had many concubines in their harems and were not shy about having sex. Even today polygamy is practiced in China, though it is not legal. Mostly rich businessmen have the "privilege."

Did I ever tell you how much I love the Taoists? For centuries they have had their own Kama Sutra which they call "Pillow Books." They are stories and descriptions on sexual positions and techniques that "maximize life energies." I read "The Good Earth" by Pearl S. Buck and loved it. Although she was not Chinese, she captured that mythological tone of the stories that I love. But it was far from sexy. She describes the book, "The Golden Lotus" as China's greatest novel of physical love.

If you think this is pretty male dominated, it is, but fear not, ladies, there's a book about the life of China's only real ruling Empress, Wu Zetian, called "The Fountainhead of Chinese Erotica: The Lord of Perfect Satisfaction." I'm ordering that one online RIGHT NOW! It's famous for being China's first novel to depict sexuality in a very graphic manner. So I guess she had concubines too. Is there a word for a male concubine? YES, there is!

There was also a guy named Li Yu who I hear wrote some of the more humourous erotic novels and short stories in the 1600's. His work was banned in one dynasty or other, so you know it was good. I'm gonna have to find some of that stuff. I think I'll start with "The Twelve Towers." It's twelve stories with one common phallic theme: a "tower." I think I know what I'll get.

So now you know what I'll be reading for the next few months to a year. Not that I'll be able to employ anything I learn practically. But it's fascinating to me how sexually rich cultures, like China's, are covered up in shame. I'll be, if you will, peeking under those covers for a while. I think it'll be fun. Join me!

Saturday, August 12, 2017

The Don of a new era

Well I got the visa! FINSCALLY! So now, for the last half of August, I can work, so long as the boss gives me the okay. I called my buddy Faith and she has already set me up for some work next week. It's actually good news! I can't say I haven't enjoyed the down time but I am sure I will enjoy coming out of hibernation, getting out of the house, and mixing with the populace again. I've actually tried to get a little bit done every day so as not to waste the month off. A little exercising, a little studying... My sole companion has been my computer and this has lead to my learning a lot about two things, and these will be the subjects of this blog.

One of the subjects was inescapable and I have little doubt that I'd be better off now had I learned nothing about it at all. Still, in a guilty pleasure sort of way, it is kind of interesting. The subject is Donald Trump. Geez, it was difficult to write his name properly! I think almost nothing of him as a human being and because of that have a habit of using any of a thousand nicknames when referring to him. Most recently I think I called him the "cheese doodle in chief." I'm sure you've heard many more. Even "trump" means to fart. It's pretty hard to take him seriously. He is all that is terribly wrong with our world and because we have made virtues of all that is terribly wrong with our world, he's now the president of the United States. The whole fiasco that ended with him as president that they VERY euphemistically call an "election," to this day in America, has never been given an ounce of credence in my mind. He is not their president and he was not elected. And it's not the first fraudulent presidency they've had.

But we are meant to think that nobody wants to undertake the massive project of giving democracy in America a complete overhaul starting from scratch. We're supposed to believe Americans prefer to settle. So the 90% disappointed people continue to play act their way through the next four years, like they did with Dubyuh, hoping and praying the president stays out of the big people areas and doesn't do anything that's completely un-undoable. And the people who put him there hope and pray the general public's apathy in the midst of yet another fake presidency holds out while they, the rich, get richer and richer. All the while hoping that the trials looking into DNC fraud favouring Hillary over Bernie Sanders, who, polls consistently show is the OVERWHELMING favourite of the American people, and looking into outside influence of Russia, (Putin), in setting up this bozo as a figurehead who will obediently restructure national laws to favour the rich, take just about four years to come to the conclusion that, he wasn't honestly elected. It was all a big fraud. Oh well, whatareyagonnado?

As we'll see, this is how President Hairpiece does business. He enters into it in unscrupulously bad faith, goes to court when his business partner finds out about his ethical flexibilities, drags the court case on longer and longer until it doesn't much matter who wins or loses it any more because during the court proceedings, he has run the company so far into the ground that there's nothing left for the partner to collect on. That's right, if his business pattern holds, he's fixing to run America into the ground, then declare bankruptcy!

How can I make these claims? Who is this guy they have in charge of the most powerful country in the world and why is he the perfect stooge for the people who fraudulently placed him there? The more I see of him, the more I think he's a robotic drone devoid of personality and empathy. He's single-minded in purpose, obsessed with money and power, infatuated with himself and would qualify as a poster boy for sociopathy if he had the charm and charisma that is usually part of the package.

Like many, I thought George W. Bush was a big joke and there couldn't possibly be a worse president. But at least he had a sense of humour. And there should be no underestimating of that! A sense of humour is without doubt a sign of intelligence and should be mandatory for any world leader! It is also a sign of humanity and soul. It makes us feel that a person is more down to earth and a member of our struggle when he or she can have a good laugh.

Watch this interview of Donald McDonald. Terrifying! Especially the part where he talks about Syria, missiles and killing people. He says "killing people" twice! Then he flippantly tosses it off with, "I hate it. But things have to be done." At the 5:50 mark the interviewer tells him an old George W. Bush joke, which Trump clearly doesn't get then tries to act like he HAD understood it while the interviewer explains it to him. The buck stops with you. The Oval Office has no corners to hide in. You are the final authority. Do yourself a favour and go to the end of the interview where, like a willful child, Grumpy Trumpy refuses to answer a question and waves the interviewer out of the oval office as though TRYING to give an A1 illustration of why the buck should absolutely NOT stop with him. Then goes to a desk and looks at some papers trying to give a presidential appearance.

Sense of humour - Survey says....   X  BZZZT!

Another thing that might make a person feel like Heir Schtroompfmeister is someone we can relate to is if he were ever seen to be having a good time. You know, like a few beers at Oktoberfest, singing, dancing, socializing with other people, having a few laughs. Does he? EVER? Do this? The only thing I've seen him do that he appears to enjoy is

 
He golfs far more often than Obama did even though he bashed Obama frequently about wasting his time golfing while president. But I'm a sports fan. I believe in sport we can learn many of the lessons that are most important in life. This is why I'd be willing to bet Darnald Palmer probably cheats like a Banshee on the links. If you ask him what he got on the last hole, he'd be evasive. "I think the record will show what I got on the last hole. A beautiful, well maintained hole! The greens keepers should be congratulated. A lot of very, very great people at this course. Tremendous people. The best people."

Does he sing? I apologize for this one. Just look at Melania's face and that should be good enough. You don't have to make your ears bleed by pressing play.


And this is a song about the national U.S. sport. It may be just as dear to the average American as their national anthem. Roseanne Barr probably sings it better.

Can he sing? Survey said...  XX   BZZZZT!

What about dancing? He's a big guy and maybe it's an unfair question, but look at Dan Aykroyd  and John Belushi. They could dance. If you're going to be visiting different countries all over the world and doing the job of president, it calls for dancing. I saw Trump in Saudi Arabia at a sword dancing ceremony trying to bust out of his crusty, all business persona and move his body a little bit and it was a sad thing to behold. Much like his visit to a black church somewhere, (I assume), in the U.S. There was a gospel song playing and people were praying, worshipping, singing and dancing and Trump must have got a little jolt of the spirit because he did something approximating dance. In both cases to me it looked as though he was wishing he were anywhere else. Or maybe he was thinking that since he had no partner, therefore no shot at getting laid as part of the deal, the effort expended should reflect that. Both can be viewed on the internet, but they're sad spectacles, be forewarned.

If you want to watch something difficult, just watch the Trumps first dance at the inaugural ball. Now, they embraced, and moved around so, technically they danced. Barely. But the whole thing was spooky to me. The song "My Way" to which Trump mouthed the words during the dance, was used at two inaugural balls as the first dance music. At one, the singer just completely missed his cue to start singing. This didn't help the president's moves that were described by political journalists as "wooden." They were joined by other members of the political team and their spouses all decked out in their finery and rocking back and forth like pendulums. I guess to a narcissist the spotlight might have had its attraction, but this certainly didn't look like fun to me!

Can he dance? Survey said.......   XXX  BZZZZT!

The famous, or infamous Connie Chung interview of Trump reveals that his brother, Freddy, smoked, drank heavily and liked to have a good time. Donald said he watched his brother and learned from him. He was loved, liked to have a good time, enjoyed flying, cared about other people, had friends and was described by Donald as, "the opposite of me." So this, ostensibly, is why Donald Teetotaller doesn't drink, smoke, and maybe why he doesn't want to have fun. Here's an article that explains it in more detail. Trump said he was a wonderful guy but he opened up to everybody and was taken advantage of.

In the same Connie Chung interview, however, Trump comments that he is always looking for more excitement. "It's achieving something... When I buy the Plaza Hotel, to me that's exciting because it's a trophy. It's a total trophy. They're important deals and the importance turns me on."


So I'm thinking that maybe the presidency is just a "trophy." He's trying to make some important "deals" like flight bans, healthcare repeals, and maybe, because things have to be done, wars. That's what turns him on. I suppose that and sex. And I don't want to get into his pussy grabbing ways. We KNOW that about this man.

What we don't know about him is how deep he's into the pockets of dangerous men like Vladimir Putin. We don't know this because he refused to reveal his tax information. And since he's probably lost half the marbles he had when he did the above interview, we also don't know if he's crazy enough to work with Putin on some big, important trophy deal, perhaps like bombing the shit out of North Korea and then buying up all the cheap resources from the war torn country. North Korea has a lot of gold, coal and other minerals and it's one of few places that has yet to be fully investigated for oil and natural gas, but some has been found and there are signs that there is more both on and offshore.

If people are killed in the vulture capitalism North Korea "deal," I'm sure when the trillions of dollars are rolling in any innocent victims, be they American, Korean, Japanese, Chinese, whatever, they'll be acceptable collateral damage to a wooden, robotic, money-addled, soulless man like this. As long as he and his friends make tons of money and by cowardly bombing, droning and maybe sending in a troop or two, HE appears like he's got balls. The great white Trump. It kinda looks like him, doesn't it? Just think of the skill and masculinity required to hunt down a dangerous beast like a lion... without damaging your sunglasses that are dangling below you chins!



Or it could be Guam. Or it could be Venezuela. It seems like he's just itching to make his mark. In an interesting report entitled "Leaving a Mark," Rachel Maddow gives us a rare glimpse into exactly how Agent Orange does his job. The phrase that sums it all up is what the auditor of that first big NY deal he talks about with Connie Chung says about it. The Commodore Hotel that he "bought" then changed into a Hyatt Hotel. He cheated the city he talks about loving so much and because the city was participating in the deal financially, they had access to his books. The auditor called their content, "Extraordinary flim-flammery." And the important thing I want to point out is that maybe you think this makes what was done sound clever or extraordinarily ingenious or something a 5-year-old kid couldn't have thought up, but it's not. The extraordinary maneuvers were things like declaring the hotel made less money than it did so that he wouldn't have to pay the city their fair share of the profits. "Give your brother half your bubble gum. How many bubble gums do you have?" "I have six, no, I have TWO."

Then there are incriminating documents. How were they ingeniously disposed of? "Oh, they were sent to Chicago. They're not there? Hmmm, well then they were lost in a flood. Yeah, a flood! That's the ticket."  And here's another of his brilliant business policies: when he makes a deal, he makes promises, in writing, to pay back certain amounts of money he has borrowed. When that money comes due, he just doesn't pay it. Isn't that clever? In his book, "Think Big and Kick Ass," he was asked about his "troubles" with banks in the 1990's and this was his reply, “I figured it was the banks’ problem, not mine. What the hell did I care? I actually told one bank, ‘I told you you shouldn’t have loaned me that money’.” Then when the banks sue him for defaulting on the loans, he just countersues. His recent loan from Deutschebank to make his mark on the Chicago skyline with a massive skyscraper there is in default. But he won't pay because of the predatory lending financial crisis of 2008 in which Deutschebank was a major contributor. He's actually suing THEM for losing him money during the crisis. He personally guarantees he'll pay them back 30 million, he sues them for 3 billion. Can you see the genius here? 3 billion is MORE than 30 million.

Other banks stopped loaning him money years ago because of shenanigans like this in the 80's and 90's. It's rumoured, and I am very excited to have the details exposed, that he had to resort to borrowing money from the richest guy in the world. If you think that's Bill Gates, you're probably off by 12 figures. Yeah, we're talking hundreds of billions. The new Tsar of Russia, Putin, has loads of cash. And wouldn't he think it was great if the president of the U.S. owed him money? For years before Trump was president, his name was bandied about as someone who might throw his hat in the ring. How much of a stretch is it to imagine Vlad seeing Trump holding out his small hand for a loan and thinking, "He's not gonna pay this back, but if we could make him president and have him in our debt... hmmmmmm..." I've heard unconfirmed estimates that Trump, through Deutschebank, borrowed 4 billion from Vlad the Enabler. Or one of the various banks and businesses he rules with an iron fist. With what we know about Humpty Trumpty, when he falls off his little wall and all of his shady dealings are exposed and he finally gets the real estate he has earned, (a jail cell), he'll be yelling through the bars, "I'm a great man! You can't put me in here! I wasn't afraid of the banks! Fuck them! I wasn't even afraid of Vladimir Putin! You think I'm afraid of jail time?"

He's an absolute phony! He is a failure as a businessman, though, inexplicably, people continue to think he "Kicks Ass" at business. The source may not be the least biased, but here's an article that sums up a lot of his failed ventures, bankruptcies and bailouts by Daddy. The only thing that makes him rich is money that people loan him because they think he's rich. When he blows all of that and defaults on the loan, the banks eat it, he declares bankruptcy or Daddy bails him out.

Kicking Ass!

I guess the one positive out of all this might be that he doesn't drink. Can you imagine this buffoon drunk? But even that gets me wondering. It seems a bit of an extreme overreaction to never smoke or drink or party or have any friends because this caused his brother to be "taken advantage of." I wonder what that means. And was it the partying and drinking that caused Freddy's death or the harsh life as a Trump which lead to the drinking and death. And apparently Daddy was no picnic either. A suspected member of the KKK, (which explains a whole lot), and a man who would disown you if you didn't choose the path he wanted for you. That was one of the things that reportedly led Freddy to the bottle.

We are all living a massive, international practical joke, my friends. It's a new era of big money coming out of hiding. They are no longer concealing their fraud and greed and the world's foolishness is being exposed by our apathetic non-action. If anyone survives to look back at this, it will be looked back at with awe and embarrassment. The fact that we already know what should get Trump's ass impeached and thrown in jail will inspire the future citizens of Earth to ask why he lasted as president so long or how the hell he made it to that position in the first place. I don't know about you but every DAY I'm in awe that he continues to be the president. What does he have to do to get thrown out of office? I'm almost sorry I asked that because I fear it will be something drastic and un-undoable. And even THEN he might hang around.

One last story that ties Trump to Russia and Putin. Ever notice how he never says anything bad about his boyfriend Putin? Even when he sends US diplomats home in response to tougher UN sanctions on Russia, Trump thanks him for relieving the US of that expense. Probably because he's in league with the Devil. Or however you say "the Devil" in Russian. Folks when another company in the shady-at-best business of scavenging for failed real estate and picking over the bones, pays 6 million dollars to have your toxic name removed from one of its ventures, you should probably know where you stand. And yet, president he remains...

Anyway, I've spent too much time on the Nuclear Nobhead. The second topic I've been looking into, Chinese folk tales, will have to wait for another post. I have to get ready for work tomorrow! Like everybody, I'm going to enjoy the un-Trumped-up world for as long as I can. I sure hope it's longer than I suspect it's going to be! Fingers crossed!
 
 
 
 
 

Monday, August 7, 2017

Dream Summer

I woke up in a sweat this morning/afternoon startled, no TERRIFIED awake by my dream. It was MUCH worse than the previous awakening by mosquito a couple hours before that. I'm used to that. Now, to clarify, I've woken up in a sweat on average about half a dozen times a night all summer long so there's no way of knowing if the dream had anything to do with the sweat. I always sweat when I sleep. A lot. I have to wash my bedding every week. I have to but don't. Hey, what the hell? I'm the only one who has to smell my funk. So, as the Vassar Clements Band might say, "Don't mess with my funk, just let me be."

It's summer in Asia. Even just sitting around dong nothing I sweat. I think, so far, (touch wood and thank God simultaneously), the reason I still haven't broken out in my annual sweat rash is because I haven't had to work since early July. If it were up to me I'd take every summer off and just hang out in gotch alone. Well, I'd wear gotch and Johnson's baby powder. That's it.

I've explained this before, I'm sure, but here's how I've been sleeping for this past month off. It's the old six in one hand, half a dozen in the other, air con vs. mozzies. If I turn on the air conditioner and close the bedroom door, it gets too cold and with the humidity and poison in the air around here, I get an air con cold. If I leave the door open and keep the air conditioner on, the air is relatively fresher, but I'm wasting energy and letting in the mosquitoes. If I have no air conditioner, my gasping, wheezing and snoring are like dinner bells for the mosquitoes. The gasping and wheezing are partially sleep apnea and partially long term effects of breathing in polluted air. Nasal, chest and throat blockages begin as soon as I lay down and create a symphony of sounds lemme tell you!

So what I do is go to bed really late, like around 4 AM. I'll be fighting mosquitoes from nightfall till then. Last night I'd guess I killed about 20 or so. Then for the first phase of sleep I turn on the air and hit the hay. I'll be up in two hours or less to take a leak so I don't worry too much about breathing in too much air conditioned air. I get up, turn of the A/C, go to the bathroom and go back to bed. Now with the door open because it's light outside and light disperses the mosquitoes. This way for the second phase I get cleaner air and even a couple of times this summer it was cool air. This lasts about 2 hours until a mosquito finds me. I wake up, kill the bloodsucker, maybe go to the can again, and go back to sleep in a sweaty bed, with the door open. Another couple of hours, another mosquito, same drill. As the day heats up and gets brighter and brighter, I get my best sleep. This is the time I usually remember my dreams. They've been characteristically weird and I do believe I've been sleepwalking. Something I don't think I've done since I was a little boy although it's hard to be sure.

Two nights ago I was having a dream that I was on a TV show being interviewed by this beautiful host in a multicoloured dress made of flashy material. You know the movie poster of Tootsie?



 The dress from that is similar. It was that material only it was red and burgundy and maybe a little brown in a thick stripey pattern. It's weird that I remember any clothing but this was a stand-out garment! She had a scale model of my Uncle Jim and Aunt Valerie's property in Hamilton, Ontario. I spent a summer with them, my cousins, Shawna, Chris and Kim and my brothers Andy and Rob. It was probably the summer that made the second biggest impression on me and I have had a million and a half dreams about my cousins, my Aunt and Uncle, the Stoners, (who were the neighbours), and the property. I think I was 11 at the time so it's a very impressionable period in the life of a man.

In case you're wondering, the summer of love in Penticton when I insinuated myself into my best friend, Grant Pilla's family vacation, was probably number one. Who's to say though? You can't really measure. But I was 15 and there were bikinis, waterslides, video games were coming into their own, go carts in the rain, Fast Times at the drive in, summer love and the soundtrack was the endlessly repeated Journey Escape album. What a summer!

But back to my TV show... Yeah, a model of the property I remembered from my childhood. I was me in the dream. Today. This age and everything. I'm sometimes not. Anyhoo, the gorgeous TV hostess points out the old house where everybody used to live and said they don't live there any more. I said I remembered helping to paint that house and cutting the grass and such. But the host said it's just abandoned now. Nobody lives in it. They still use the pool behind it sometimes. I said to the host that I remembered a lot of fun times in the pool. But we couldn't splash too much. They had a diving board but we hardly used it because too much water splashed out of the pool. My Uncle Jim was a truck driver and he delivered water! He had more water than anybody! That didn't bother me though. Conserve. Always a good thing. The pool was still awesome. And we slept outside in a tent sometimes right beside the pool. Wow! That was a great summer too!

Now we're on the property. Me and the gorgeous host in her flashy dress. She's still carrying a microphone. She shows me how they bought the land further up and built a huge house on it. I said, well let's go see if anybody's home! They'd kill me if I was in the neighbourhood and didn't visit! And then I inexplicably asked the hostess if she'd do me a favour and say she was my wife. NO idea why I asked that but she said she'd do it. We knocked on the basement door. This was a massive house! A young boy answered the door and invited us in. It was obvious to me that he was my cousin Chris' kid because of an uncanny resemblance, but I let on like I didn't notice. I'd say he was 12 or 13. He had a friend with him about the same age who didn't resemble anyone to me. I assumed he was just a friend. So I asked the kid if anyone was home. He was playing a game on his phone and just mumbled something. I looked around the unfinished, obviously new basement and said, "This is huge! When did they build this place?" He didn't answer. I asked again and he didn't look up from his game. A swell host he was! Then I picked up a hockey stick with a plastic superblade that was just lying on the cement floor and tapped it a few times saying, "Hey, Chris' kid, looga me!" I did the two finger point to the eyes. "When did they build this place?" That got his attention and he said, "I dunno, like ten years ago?"

Since I had the stick anyway I asked if he was any good at street hockey. He immediately predicted that he could score on me about 20 percent of his shots if I were in goal and that I could score on him on only 50% of MY shots. I conceded the 20% prediction because I suck in net. Always have. But I said, "Oh yeah? Get in net." So I got the tennis ball that was on the floor and started doing some stick handling with it and scored on some dekes and some shots. Then the blade changed into a sort of spoon blade with a concave indentation just large enough for a tennis ball. Like this pic only it obviously was not a teaspoon. It was not at the very end of the blade either.

 
It allowed me to pick up the ball lacrosse style and kinda THROW it into the net. Well, now I was scoring on almost every attempt. I don't know what happened to the other kid or my fake wife, I never did get to visit anyone but this nephew or first cousin once removed or whatever the frig, but he and I invented the sport of "lacrockey." I'll probably get shafted on that. He'll take all the money. Whatever. He's going to live longer and needs it more than I do.

Anyway, when I woke up that day for the last time, I noticed something on the floor of my bathroom. It was a lugi. I know it was me who hocked it because there hasn't been anyone else in my house for weeks. I must have spat on my bathroom floor the night before. Then I remembered that while I was taking shots on my nephew in my dream, he spit on the basement floor. You need to spit when you play floor hockey, street hockey, ice hockey and, apparently, lacrockey, so I spat too. Was I wandering around my apartment the night before taking imaginary shots and spitting? I'll never know.

Although that wasn't the terrifying dream, you can read through what I've written so far and imagine for yourself why I was terrified. Okay, I'll end the suspense because I know you're all BURSTING to know! I was in an unfamiliar house. I think it was mine because I was looking for something nice to wear to a wedding and telling my Mom, who was sitting on the couch behind me, that I didn't even own a suit. I don't own a suit. In real life. In my dream I said, "Mom, I don't even own a jacket!" Then I sat down on the couch beside her and asked, "I don't suppose anyone has rented a tux for me, have they?" Mom said, "Yes, Andy's bringing one." Andy is my oldest brother. I said, "But the wedding is in an hour and Andy's not here yet." Mom said, "Don't worry. He will be here. If not you can wear what makes you feel comfortable. As long as you are in love, it doesn't matter." I thought about my future wife. She was Asian. A bit plump with a cute round face. In my dream I definitely DID love her. My Mom said, "If Andy doesn't show up till tomorrow, he doesn't show up till tomorrow." And I said, "When I'll see him as a MARRIED man!" That brought a feeling WAY beyond cold feet!

You already know some of my sleeping habits. Can you imagine putting any woman through THAT torture? Who wants a noisy, smelly, sweaty, sleepwalking, possibly spitting partner to sleep with? Many other habits I have that a lifetime of bachelorhood has entrenched in me would be thrust upon this poor girl as well. I can't even have a roommate, why the hell am I getting married? And my days of freedom - gone! If I want, I can sleep till noon, get up, eat spaghetti and binge watch 15 episodes of Get Smart if I want. Or I could pour myself a rye and Coke. I'm not working tomorrow. The dirty dishes in the sink can wait. The laundry isn't too backed up and the bedding won't get much funkier if I wash it later. Hell, I can just go to the airport, roll a die and go to a random country for a week if I want. If it's the Philippines I can go kayaking into a mountain in El Nido. If it's Vietnam I can see Halong Bay and visit some friends there I haven't seen in ages. If it's Thailand I can go golfing with my old buddies I also haven't seen in ages. Laos, Cambodia, Korea, Malaysia, Myanmar, Indonesia, I could have a blast! And in all but Korea, I would surely meet some cute girls who really like old, fat, bald guys, "No shit, I love you!" NOT if I have a wife!

What kind of wife, and I'm sorry but even more so, what kind of Asian wife would allow her husband to take an entire month off in the summer? Even though I have a good reason to do so? What kind of wife would let me eat the foods I eat, the amounts I eat, and at the times I eat them? What kind of wife would allow me to spend as much time, or maybe more accurately, WASTE as much time as I do in front of my computer? There are little habits I wouldn't get away with too, like using a plate I used yesterday that didn't get too, too dirty. Never making my bed. Stinky cheese spaghetti... I'm no bargain to live with, believe me! I'm getting a bit of a panic sweat on right now as I type this!

The dream ended abruptly. She seemed like a nice girl, this nameless, pudgy Asian I've never seen before, but I am pretty sure I would have left her at the altar. If I were snorkelling and saw a great white shark swimming toward me, I don't know if I'd feel fear as strong as that dream invoked in me.

Crazy, isn't it?

Well, I've been told that I will be getting my passport back this week sometime so the sleeping schedule will need to change. That's if I get some little bits of work here and there, which I plan to do. If, for some reason, I can't find any work, I'll just continue batchin' it and doing what I do in my downtime. Aside from the freaky sleeping, it hasn't been totally bad. In fact it hasn't be UNproductive either. I'm on a rough regimen of either exercising, (and sweating even MORE), or studying China and Chinese every second day. I've cheated a couple of days but it hasn't been too bad. I'm learning to make sentences in Chinese, something I never did in Korean. I have lots of Korean vocabulary but can't make sentences. In Chinese I can already make a few useful sentences. I just need vocabulary to fill in the blanks. I think this is the better way to go about learning a language.

And speaking of that, it's time to do one or the other.