Saturday, November 11, 2017

Smarten Up!

Remember when people used to say to unruly kids, "Hey, smarten up!" I can't tell you how many times I heard that as a kid and I did some stupid things so I probably deserved it more often than not. The thing is, I didn't like it. It insulted me. It offended me.

Well, as Steve Hughes says, "So what?" Did I get leprosy? Did I call the cops? Nope. I grew up. I wised up. And, I smartened up. Now, don't get me wrong, I still do some stupid things. Usually they involve travelling long distances, uprooting my life and risking everything on the words of dishonest people, but I can't stop trusting people altogether. That would be running away. Putting my head in the sand. Giving up on society. Escapism.

Most people would give me, as my high school principal Mr. Farrell used to say, a pat on the back up high, for saying that. "Yeah, good on ya mate! Way to go! Nice positive thinking, man!" But find those same people and say something about the problem in a negative way and watch how fast they blend into the bushes like Homer Simpson.

The latest example of this was a beautiful illustration of my topic today. I was exchanging goods with my co-teacher Margie. Ha! Fitting to talk about her right below that gif of Homer. Anyway, Margie has been here since '96. HERE. At this fake school. I don't know if it's always been so Mickey Mouse around here but I have been finished my double major class for a month now and nobody has asked me for marks or anything. There was no plan or notice for any of my classes. I was just thrown in a room with 30-90 students and told to teach. For half of my classes I didn't even know how to get to the classrooms! I was hired very last minute so had no chance to make proper curriculums, though, am glad of it since that would have been polishing a turd. Honestly, the lengths to which over expectation of students can possibly go seem to have no limits here. I told you of the beloved bumblebrain class I have in which they have a text that academically, and in heightened, esoteric English, covers the intricacies of the major English speaking countries of the world. Their government, histories, cultures and such. Given to students, about half of which, are failing my severely dumbed down English class of the very rudimentary elements of English speaking countries and their cultures. Well I have another class that might be even lower. I am supposed to be teaching them TOEFL. This is an outdated, but still used, English proficiency test. I think they had some TOEFL texts but in about two minutes I could tell there were no students in the class who could get a decent score on the test. Not one who should be hired for any job requiring English. And CERTAINLY not one who should be studying something in complicated English. Just last class I saw them all carrying these massive, blue Chemistry books. Again, heightened, esoteric, chemically English that even native speakers would have difficulty with. These students? Use the thing as a door stop or a coffee table leg. It's not going to do you any good otherwise. On an educational level, this school ranks below a lot of the hagwons I've taught at. And the first and second things they did to me were, 1. cheated me into signing a contract here and 2. put me to work in August for which I STILL haven't been paid.

Having said all that, Margie has been here since '96. This should give you a hint as to the kind of person Margie might be. I refer you to my recent post about posobots. All of the stuff above is true and we both teach at this joke of a school, so naturally, with a guy like me who doesn't shy away from the negative, these topics are going to come up in conversation. Last time she was over here for a barbecue, I mentioned to her that she has been here longer than anybody has worked for any school that I know of here, yet she makes the lowest salary I know of here. And if you saw what she does, I think she might work harder than anyone I know here. But tell her of the school I have applied at where right now teachers are making in a week what we make here in a month and it bounces right off her. She has attained peace in her meagre earnings. Then I brought up my culture class when she was over here giving me some parmesan cheese she'd purchased, while I gave her some lettuce I had found. You have to go all over the place to find specialty items like these.

Margie has an interesting way of regurgitating harsh facts, then trying to gloss them over with nonsense. She says to me, "Yeah they're like baby birds in a nest with mouths open squawking for food, helpless to get their own." Right! That's EXACTLY what they are! They want me to teach them in a week, how to read these ridiculous texts they've been given. But then Margie goes into damage control mode. "Buuut you probably misunderstood them. They're bad English leads to misunderstandings sometimes. They probably didn't understand the assignment. They may have had trouble with your explanation. It's probably a cultural thing." and so on. Here's the thing: Margie speaks Chinese. I don't know how much she uses in Class but I have met several teachers here who are supposed to be teaching in English and are not. I even said to Margie that most of this class should not be in the classroom with a teacher who only speaks English. They're not ready for it. I even said that in Canada, a lot of these kids would be in special ed.

Margie teaches oral English to this same group of lugnuts and I have no doubt she is aware of the students who really don't belong on the inside of a university classroom, but she has her thing here and she doesn't want it messed with. I felt like an assailant on her peaceful malformation of reality. She gave me my cheese, found that the cheddar she was going to give me was frozen, said she'd give me a hunk when it thawed out, then couldn't blend into the bushes fast enough. She probably went to her apartment, drank hot water and meditated. Ha ha ha. In China, the cure for everything is hot water. I will never see that hunk of cheese. Margie doesn't contact me even though we both live on campus here. It's another example of a person I've scared away because of my negativity. I think I "offend" her. At the very least, Margie is never going to sit down with me, have a beer and bitch about work.

And that's all I wanted to do. It's cathartic. Cleansing. Therapeutic. But nowadays we're all trained, not to say mindfucked, into believing that's all bad juju. Even if it's the truth, it's offensive. I had one student from the TOEFL class send me a text saying my class needs to be more interesting and harder. I'm teaching things they did 12 years ago in school. Well first of all this particular student had missed about half the classes. He was probably sending this message to get me to believe he never shows up because he's not challenged. Second of all, I bet if someone tries to teach from that same, big, blue, chemistry book next year, he'll be "offended" because they've already done that. Well "done" and "learned" are not the same thing. He's probably right. These kids probably DID cover the basics of English a long time ago in their regular schooling. Taught by a Chinese teacher who couldn't recite the alphabet and they all cheated on their tests by copying the one student in class who had lived in America for a year. It was painfully obvious to me that these kids needed, so I am teaching them introductory English. Well this "offends" them because in their minds they are beyond this. The next class, this student, nicknamed Whale, shows up for class. I tape five pictures to the board and start asking random people things about them. Where are they from, what is their nationality, what is their hobby, what's their favourite food, what language do they speak, what are they wearing, because this is what we've been learning in class. I stress the S for present tense like "He speaks..." "She likes..." and I stress present continuous tense for clothes. "He is wearing..." "They are wearing..." I also make sure they watch for countable and uncountable A's and S's like a red jacket or blue socks. NONE of the students were doing any of this properly when I talked to them all on the first couple days of class. It's what they need to learn.

So I call on Whale and ask a question. He gets it wrong. I ask another question. He gets it wrong. I explain to him how if he'd been in class he would have studied this and may have gotten the question right. I call on a student with lower level of English who had been regularly attending. He got the question right. Whale has a choice to make. He can be "offended" or he can smarten up. Which do you think he will do?

It's really a choice between thinking or retreating into escapist quasi-thinking. Do we find our joy and happiness or do we pretend to find them by settling for shitty situations and blocking out any evidence of their shittiness? I went for one of my long walks yesterday and saw this:
Yeah, I was going next door to keep my colon true. ???

Well, by golly, I thought, maybe China has this figured out! I sure wish this school well! But then, just a few doors down I saw this:

The Bryan Adams Happy Learning Centre. And back to Earth my hopes for China crashed. lol

Another example. I occasionally engage online in conversation, or exchange of philosophies and opinion just to keep the lawyer in me sharp and since I'm starved for English conversation over here. Really, I argue. I especially like the challenge of trying to take people out of artificial comfort zones and make the posobots nervous. Possibly even wake a person up. Never know...

The other day I saw something posted online by a guy who's VERY awake, Bernie Sanders, about Canadian health care. It was a Canadian doctor saying that "Never has the Canadian government dictated what she does." I think even Bernie fell for one of the oldest and falsest lies about Canada: the myth of free healthcare. As the old joke goes, "Canadians are just unarmed Americans with free healthcare." I have heard it more accurately told as "better healthcare," but it's still wildly inaccurate. First of all Canada has guns. Three for every 10 residents. But they're hunting rifles, not Uzis. And for the love of GOD stop saying Canadian healthcare is free! It's far from it! Until you've worked in Canada and felt the sting of a 48% payroll tax, then felt the icy grip of the taxman taking 20% for a 100-year-old dinosaur income tax that has paid off the wars a thousand times over and THEN 15% on almost everything you buy and even MORE in excise taxes on certain "luxury" items like beer, AND THEN paid special bonus taxes if you have property or own a car or die, until THEN, don't tell me Canadian healthcare is free.

Healthcare is reported to be the thing that the highest percentage of Canadian taxes are spent on. I say that because nobody has ever read the horrendously voluminous Canadian tax code, (made so for that very purpose), so nobody really knows. Health care is expensive in Canada and the representatives of the hospitals, and the doctors, are getting rich off our tax dollars so it's unlikely that you'll get an honest assessment of the cost of healthcare from any of them. In a way, the Canadians still pay a lot for healthcare, it's just less personal. And because there is no way to measure exactly how much we each pay, people can still get away with saying it's free. Or telling other lies or making other misleading comments like the doctor who snowed Bernie. She said the "Canadian government" hoping people would think she meant all forms of government in Canada, but what she meant was the federal government. Bernie Sanders can be forgiven for not knowing that healthcare is something that is handled provincially in Canada so, no, the federal government doesn't dictate what she does, but the provincial government does. Thing is, she probably doesn't mind that cuz since Canadians don't really know what happens to their taxes, provincial governments get away with highway robbery by saying, "It's for healthcare." Nobody bitches about taxes taken for healthcare. Well we probably should start. But even people who GO to the hospital may not see the bill. They may not see what the taxpayer pays for things like the bed and room you stay in. Here's a frightening list of hospitals in the Vancouver area and how much a room costs for ONE day. Okay, this is for uninsured people, this is not what you pay if you pay your "premiums" or your mandatory medical insurance but it's probably how much tax money they take. Who knows? Maybe they take more since it's not directly paid for and nobody will be the wiser.

The premiums are $136 a month for a family of two and going up all the time. Can you imagine what is collected just on this? Add to that the even bigger pile of money from taxes. It's no wonder hospitals charge so much! There's plenty of money just up for grabs.

Now of course they're not going to be shouting from the mountains how much people get secretly charged for stuff at hospitals. These are stats that are hard to find! I worked for Alberta Health Services in Calgary hospitals when I was in Canada. I went through about 5-7 pairs of rubber gloves a shift. I had to glove up every time I touched or might touch a patient. Here's an article from the UK saying that hospitals there were paying 16 pounds for rubber gloves that could have been bought for 35 pence. That's about 27 bucks a pair if this same sort of thing happens in Canada. And it does. That's over 150 bucks a shift of Canadian taxes I might have been eating up. Now, maybe in Canada we use cheaper gloves than England, but this is just an example of what can happen when greed and corruption meet with an annual taxation glut.

Here's a list of things that are overpriced in American hospitals. Rubber gloves are 53 bucks there! Those little medicine cups? 10 bucks! A Tylenol? 15 bucks, baby! Come on, man! Surely it can't be that bad in Canada! Well in 2014 it was estimated that 141 billion bucks of our tax money was spent on healthcare. That's almost 4000 dollars per Canadian and of course only a fraction of Canadians spent any time in the hospital. According to Alberta Official Statistics, 7,596 people per 100,000 in Canada went to the hospital in 2013-2014. Let's say 7.6%. The population of Canada in 2014 was 35,540,400. So that's 2.7 million patients approximately. That works out to $52,222.22 per patient. And that's over and above any insurance or healthcare "premiums" paid.

People talk about hospital visits driving Americans into debt. How many Canadians wouldn't be crippled by a 52 thousand dollar hospital bill? I don't know many. Look, even if you asked ME if I have a problem paying taxes when I never go to the hospital, I'll say no. I don't mind footing the bill for unfortunate Canadians who get sick and need medical treatment. What pisses me off is when the price of that treatment is outrageous. And it IS in Canada. Getting worse all the time. But the vast majority of Canadians remain proud of our healthcare, even brag about it, and if you make the mistake of even accurately disparaging it, you will see ANOTHER myth about Canada debunked: the one about us never getting angry and being so polite.

I commented on the Bernie Sanders site mentioning that I love the man, but that talking to a doctor might not get you the most unbiased description of the Canadian healthcare system. I went into a few of the things described above. I immediately get one eye roll. Then I get a dipshit named Bryn who says that I pay about 50% less for my Canadian health care than Americans pay. So it makes tax rates irrelevant. Then he strays into La La Land and states that the average Canadian family has a total tax burden of 24% and that's a fact. What I am writing is not factual it's... something else.

So I reply to him that okay if a family of four has a Father, stay-at-home Mom and two young, unemployed kids that's 96% tax for the Father, zero for the other three so it averages out to, yup, 24%. You're right, Bryn. My bad.

You see, you can't just accept idiotic "facts" like that without questioning. One of the oldest tricks in the book to make taxes look lower is using "family" tax rates. But you need to THINK, not just blindly accept what some liar is telling you. It's funny that Bryn did this for MY comments but not the BS 24% tax rate Soma that some politician prescribed for him. Probably because the politician's happy news didn't "offend" him. My truth did.

He didn't respond. But then another posobot named Ron wrote that the healthcare premium I mentioned in BC, (which he just assumed. I didn't mention), was a lie. He lives in Ontario and appreciates the healthcare there AND Tommy Douglas. Then he says I'm making up lies. Douglas was a Canadian politician who introduced a medicare plan in the province of Saskatchewan that was eventually adopted by the rest of Canada. In a national survey he was voted our greatest Canadian. Our healthcare is nothing like what Douglas implemented any more, but it is still as beloved because Canadians don't know the outrageous rates our taxes pay for it. And they don't want to know!

Like I just said, I have no problem with the Douglas system. I like it. I have a problem with greedy, corrupt medical price fixing. So I tell this to Ron, say that the people who call Canadian healthcare "free" are the ones making up lies, and give him a screenshot of the price of healthcare premiums in BC that he said I lied about. (which was actually 36 dollars MORE than I quoted) This does not deter Ron's patriotic vigour. He tells me that he went to the hospital last year for 20 cancer treatments. Now he is in remission. No point of service fee. "All paid for by my taxes," says Ron.

Do you see how beloved this myth is? But I didn't tell Ron that HIS taxes didn't even cover the room he was in. I didn't ask if maybe it was brain cancer he had because he'd have to be mentally malfunctioning to believe his taxes paid for that much hospital care. But Ron also asked me, "Why are you spreading misinformation?" So I had to say something in reply. I said, "So I am saying that Canadian healthcare isn't free, we pay for it with our taxes and you just said that is misinformation because YOU went to the hospital last year and paid for it with your taxes."

His reply was, "You DO know that most Canadians pay taxes and Canadian healthcare is far better than the US." I probably would have responded to that with, "Right, but not free." But he had to go further. He then posts, "You sound like a Republican anyway." So I just ignored him. He probably thinks he won the argument.

A Republican? The GOP? First of all, we don't have them in Canada. Second of all, those are the guys trying right now to get taxes for the rich cut and they're going to finance the tax cuts by getting rid of social programs that poor people rely on. Among them will be Medicaid!

Giving the rich MORE money and having the poor pay for it. Reverse Robin Hood healthcare is exactly what I was complaining about. But even if I posted this article on the conversation thread with Ron and Bryn, people just believe what they want to believe. For many it's the false positivity of blatant lies like Canadian healthcare is free! Homer too.

All a person can do is keep citing unpopular facts and keep losing friends. It's not a sad as it sounds. I don't want to be friends with cowardly escapists anyway. Start complaining about anything and they disappear. What kind of a friend is that? Listen, the point is, whether you pay exorbitant rates out of your own pocket, or if you pay them collectively as a province through the vaunted universal healthcare system, it makes little difference. What I believe is whether you're stuck footing the whole bill by yourself or whether you get help from your fellow taxpayers, the issue in healthcare is NOT this! It's the price setting and that is totally corrupt!

Back to our friend Ron. Who, let's face it, may not have had, nor beat cancer anyway. He might have said all that to win an argument. But even if not, here's a doctor who might be a better doctor to listen to about the REAL problem in the healthcare system. He's American and talking about America, but do you think doctors in Canada don't know all this? They're still prescribing chemotherapy in Canada too. If I have rectal cancer and go to the hospital, is there more human compassion and less CHA-CHING in any hospital in Canada? I think you'll find I'd be charged out the cancer ravaged arse the same as I would be in America. Just exchange the word, "insurance" for "taxes," and we probably have the identical problem. And the pharmaceutical company charging 5000 is the beginning. The drugs are probably worth 50 bucks. Then the HUGE markup by the hospital and the nice dividend made by the doctor keeps THEM silent. Our healthcare in Canada is a for profit industry just the same as it is in the States. Just a bit less individual. But hospitals, schools, damn near everything run like corporations where money is all that matters, are now the norm. It's not shameful, it's now accepted, in Canada as well as the States, as honourable, virtuous, heroic! People think, "Well he's getting rich, he must be helping the country." That's because we've been socialized to believe this horseshit. They are helping themselves TO our country. That's all.

This clip, by the way, isn't new. It's over 6 years old! It's like the current presidency of the U.S. Everybody knows it's a UGE problem, but nothing is done about it. Nothing CAN be done as long as the rich remain so firmly in control. But this can all be easily written off as conspiracy theory. It's easier. That way, I won't have to do anything uncomfortable like argue, protest or fight to get this changed. As I said, these are the kind of escapists I don't like. They are empirically detestable. If you're just plain ignorant, okay, I can be your friend. But if you're afraid of negative facts, SMARTEN THE HELL UP!

Monday, November 6, 2017

Pictures From the Poop Cam

What do you know! The poop phone continues to get better! If you don't know the story, I got a phone when I first came to China to work at Renmin University in Beijing. Two days after I got it I went to the toilet at the Renmin foreign language gulag, (a squatter), and the phone fell in. It didn't work at all afterwards but I dried it out and got it to work a bit. It has some odd habits like taking pictures in my pocket, turning itself on, flipping to sideways view, not turning off with the off button, losing volume control and once in HK it dialed somebody and I heard a recorded message when I got back to my hotel. I don't think I have to pay for that call thank goodness. But the worst effect of squatter splashdown was that it hasn't been readable by any computer since. I could always hook up to the USB and charge it if I wanted, but I couldn't put anything onto my computer like pics. And since this phone takes better pics than my Kindle, that was a bummer. Well I mistakenly plugged it into my computer the other day, (thinking it was plugged into the charging block but it was actually in the USB of my computer), and VOILA, it read it! So now, the very belated history of my Chinese experience in pictures. First the gulag. Pretty scary lookin' eh?

Just inside the freezer doors and to the right is the offending squatter. It wasn't quite as bad as it looks. Worked with a great bunch of blokes there anyway. Just not FOR anyone worth mentioning.

Well this is interesting. The pic function on this blog used to allow for more than one pic per line but I guess that's been taken out. UPgrades that are really downgrades. They're everywhere. I'm also typing from the middle of the page now too. Very interesting... Anyhoo, these are all pics of the campus at Renmin U. It's not overwhelming having worked at some nice places in Korea, but I think this was a pretty nice campus as campuses go in China.
This is the hostel I lived in while working at Renmin. It does look pretty cool from the outside but it was the most expensive place I've ever lived in. I paid different amounts on different months, but it worked out to about 1200 bucks a month. I just stayed there last week before I went to Korea and they charged me almost 80 bucks! That is outrageous! Not for Canada, but for China it's highway robbery! And I'm a preferred customer, I got a discount! I could stay at a much better place in Korea for 30 bucks. But I never wanna live in a hostel again. No cooking, no fridge. I didn't like it much. But speaking of good blokes, here's a pic of two of the guys who made life in BJ bearable. On the left is Allan. He's a Scotsman and he stayed in the same hostel just across the hall. We'd go on food runs or out for beers together sometimes. On the left is Heinrich. He's a South African former rugby player. I still remember a few Afrikaans swearwords he taught me and Allan. Just not how to spell them. Dooes and kak and fok and muffie. Ha ha ha. Also oxygen thief which we used for the boss. Hein was a barrel of laughs. Allan was my intellectual refuge. It was awesome having a beer and debating the best boxers of all time or politics or something far more abstract with Allan. Great guy. 
Here's one of the classes I taught at Renmin. Now that I'm in a much less, uh, prestigious school, I realize that the facilities, (computers that worked though internet was slow), and especially the students were very good! They were blasted with a book to read every week and 10 or 20 vocabulary words a day, writing every day PLUS all the regular teaching we did. It was a ridiculous workload and all for IELTS preparation. We did IELTS tests too and although this is ranked as one of the better English ability tests, there were things I hated about it. Like the fact that they literally tried to trick the test takers in several places on every test. IELTS tests are made purposely difficult and in many ways unrealistic and unnatural language is required to get a good score. But nothing's perfect eh? Poor kids...
Still, I could have toughed it out for years if not for the shitty accommodations and the absolutely useless administration. So I went on a trip to Taiyuan to take a look at an offer from some place called #5 High School. They talked to me twice before I signed contracts. I met a guy named Joshua and a girl named Faith and they told me I'd be close to the school, I'd have 2 days in a row off, I'd only teach the high school kids and I'd have complete autonomy. Nobody micromanaging me. I hated the subway in BJ and the stupid rules and useless things we were forced to do. Marking codes for correcting the kids' writing. Why? They told us these would be used in England where they all hoped to go, but we all knew they had lost the contract with Middlesex Uni or wherever so I just used whatever I was comfortable with. (and my marking "codes" are far easier to understand for the student and better for me).  They also had rules about how to teach kids how to take IELTS exams. Make sure they know how to skim and scan. Okay, that's fine. But the oxygen thief we worked for cared more about the students knowing the difference between the meanings of the two words. He went into one class and asked students what those words meant. The students didn't know so he said at a meeting, "Obviously they don't know how to skim and scan." Just one of many ludicrously militant rules we were suffering under at Renmin. These would be gone in Taiyuan.
This, at long last, is the illustrious Faith. This was taken in the main courtyard of #5 High School during one of my interviews. She later showed me around the city a bit. After the second interview she squired me about the city looking for an apartment. She was, and still is, very helpful. She was spectacular at her job and Huasheng were absolutely stupid to let her go. But they just can't see the value of being honest and treating people fairly so that good workers will stay with them. That's why Faith left and that's why I am leaving. That's also why they lost the contract with #5 school.
Here are the students of #5 school doing their daily exercises and shouting and Tai Chi during the 10:00-10:30 break. They all have matching track suits they wear all day long. It's quite something to see! A bit of The Party! But I see nothing wrong with some mid morning calisthenics. Go kids go!
Taiyuan. Not the most happening place in China. The coal capital of the country, which puts it high in the running for coal capital of the world. You can see, (as the picture illustrates), about a block before the pollution and coal dust hazes out the view. And this is not on an extraordinarily bad day. I think this day was around the 100 mark on the Air Quality Index. Around Christmas of 2016 Beijing was over 500! It was like sucking on an exhaust pipe every time you drew a breath! I'm not sure cardio-vascular exercise does any good here. Which is fine. I'm still on doctor's orders to take it easy because of the old brain bomb waiting to explode at any time. So I walk. A lot. That's good enough for me. There ARE some pretty nice things to see in Taiyuan if you look hard enough and walk.
Is that gorgeous or what?
It's a little temple Faith and I went to in the middle of Taiyuan. It was January of 2017. I went back to BJ pretty sure I would take the job if offered. It was offered and I took it. So now I had to go back and find an apartment. Faith to the rescue again! We spent a long, cold day looking at high-rise apartments I didn't like until finally we checked out this one.
That's my place with the bars on the windows. Not exactly first floor. Sorta 1 1/2 floor. But I liked it. Other than the mosquitoes. Good kitchen, decent fridge, lots of room, about 5 minutes from the school, it was perfect! And Huasheng paid me for 5 months to work at #5 school. They made me pay 100% for visa runs, dragged their ASSES on getting my a work visa and did a few other unscrupulous things, but nothing I haven't learned to accept. You're gonna get screwed a little no matter what. Nature of the beast. HEY, I'm back to normal typing, not centered! Great!

This was the huge bedroom with the massive wardrobe, desk, through the doors the attached laundry room with crank hanging and in the corner you can see the air conditioner. It was luxury! And at less than half the price of the BJ hostel. 500 a month. Unfortunately, with the mosquito problem, (not to mention the lack of mattress), I slept all of my days in this apartment in this room:

A LOT smaller and adjoining the kitchen. You can see the real estate agent talking to Faith in the kitchen there. But it was fine. I was still happy. Until Huasheng lost the contract with #5 school. I had students tell me their parents were really angry because Huasheng ripped them off; the other teachers, (all Chinese but they taught in English), told me to quit and every single one of them did; Faith quit, all of the HR people I knew quit; the only people who remained were me and these two, the dynamic duo of Huasheng misdeeds, Mr. Liu and Diana. Diana is the owner and she tells people she has had many businesses but I dunno. Liu, as the story goes, was working in an embassy in the U.S. somewhere and his English is very good so maybe it's true. I have trouble believing anything they say now.
Because they are untrustworthy, they don't trust anybody. I tell you it took some coaxing for them to let me take this pic. And they didn't totally let me. They, obviously, were caught off guard. They just allowed me to keep it on my phone. What do you think? Do they look like the crooks they are? I actually enjoyed this day with them whacking golf balls and drinking tea. I think they believe it is part of their culture to lie, cheat and steal. Little do they know, it is the reason Huasheng is in the toilet. I probably would have quit if they hadn't strung me along for so long with false promises of the elusive Z visa. It took 7 months for them to finally get me my work visa. But we got it! Then they COMPLETELY SHATTERED my contract!

I was no longer working at #5 school, I work now at Taiyuan University of Science and Technology. Also a very nice campus. Here are a couple of pics.
That's the library. The centerpiece of the campus. The courtyard in front is MASSIVE! I've never been in the library. heh heh.
Here's a view of it at dusk from the roof of my apartment. There's lots of greenery and relatively fresh air on campus so that's nice. And there are places where I can get some of the things I need. I now teach in classrooms that are shitty and the computers have Windows '85, can't read a pdf and screw up my usb flashdrives, so this is the result:

I spend a lot of time improvising by drawing on the board and I spend an even longer amount of time creating handouts for my classes. This is one of the lessons I taught to my sluggos in the culture class. I'm sure they won't remember any of it. You can't see but on the far right of the board I drew a map of the world and I asked individuals to show me where the major English speaking countries were. They found China. That's it. One girl used her phone to find the U.S. Had to use her PHONE! And she correctly pointed it out. But nobody knew the country, the flag or anything about any of the countries. Oh, and ONE girl was able to draw the American flag you see and one, after checking her phone, drew the Canadian flag. The others were drawn by me. It was an early class, but I realized then what I'd gotten myself into. Ha ha ha. I can't remember why I drew the lollipop. I think it was "ice lolly" and "popsicle." God, I realize now they would have no clue what I was talking about. And care even less. But learn as you go.

So anyway, we're about caught up picture wise. The Huasheng annoyance of the week has been to transfer my visa. I told them that's totally unnecessary but I shouldn't have. I told them they need to do nothing. See, they do the opposite of what I suggest so now they are working like banshees to do SOMETHING. I told them to leave me alone and do the visa transfer from Huasheng to TUST on their own. It's up to the employers, not me. And with my lack of Chinese, what the hell can I do to help? But they continue to hound me. Today they said they need me to sign an end of contract contract. To verify that I am no longer working for them. I already gave them my letter of resignation, they don't need that. But they told me, (in all likelihood a lie), that they need it to transfer the visa. So between good old Faith and I, we hatched a plan. See I don't think they'll pay me my last month's pay. They've already deducted for days missed due to illness, not working on holidays and classes THEY cancelled with no notice, so I stand to make 3000 instead of the 8000 they owe me already. Yeah, they managed to screw me out of more than half a month's pay for largely legitimate absence. I am SOOO glad I quit!

But on the 31st I had a class to teach. Two hours. Out in the sticks. So really 5 hours including driving. I like the kids but I hate the class. So I said to Huasheng if they want me to teach, they need to pay me on the 30th. They didn't pay, I didn't teach. They said that they have a set way of payment that they can't change. Certainly they can't change it just because I want them to. Why do I think I'm so special? That's one of the classes I was docked for. Now they want me to sign this superfluous contract and my answer was, "Okay. I'll sign it." But then I added, "...if you pay me the proper amount you owe me. And since there is no way you can change the way you pay, just for me, we'll have to wait till the 15th or the 16th or the 17th or the 18th, which is when you normally pay me." I am awaiting their answer. Hooo hooo haaah haaaah! They wanna play games eh?

Friday, November 3, 2017

Sarah Huckabee Sanders' Dreamland

In a recent post, I included a speech by George Carlin in which he talks about the big club running things in America and that we ain't in it. Well, I ain't in it cuz I ain't American, (and these days I thank my pink hearts, yellow moons, orange stars, green clovers and blue diamonds), but it could be applied to the whole world and the not-so-big club running IT. He also mentions that the "American Dream" is called that because you have to be asleep to believe it. I think I might have seen the best example of this EVER! Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Whitehouse press secretary has proven an awful lot of things with her "10 Reporters At The Bar" speech, but exactly NONE of what she was hoping to illustrate. If you haven't heard this piece of self-humiliating fecal feces, (yes, it's not just shit, it's the shit that shit would take if it could take a shit), I'll post it here. She might as well have told the top 0.1% to drop trou and blown them all. "There you go, gentlemen. Obviously I will do or say anything if I can be in your club." I think she would have maintained a tiny shred more dignity if she had just said, and done that. The sad fact is, people will actually BELIEVE this specious, stinking grease trap sludge! Here it is:

First, math, (and apparently reading), were not her strong suits in grade school. If you didn't notice, she said there were 20 dollars in tax cuts but she describes 21. But that was just the smallest mistake.

I stole this from a comment on this vid online. I don't know the person or how accurate it is but it looks solid to me: Some quick math. Essential expenses are calculated at 150% of the poverty line ( ). Poverty line for a two person household, as of January 31, 2017, is $16,240 ( ), meaning essential expenses for a household of two comes out to $16,240*1.5=$24,260. Half of households, not individuals, households, make less than $50,000 per year. At an effective tax rate of 15%, that leaves the average household with $50,000*.85=$42,250. After Federal taxes and essential expenses, it's safe to assume that nearly half of US households have $42,250-$24,260=$17,890 in discretionary income per year.
Now, let's take a look at the top 20%, earning at or above $100,000 per year. Effective tax rate is 25%, up until $153,100 ( ).  Essential income stays the same. Therefore, after taxes and buying the essentials, a household in just the top 20% has a discretionary income of >$100,000*.75-$24,260=$50,740, which is still more than gross income for half the country. And we're talking just the top 20%, not even the top 10% or 1%. Oh no, they pay more in taxes, yet even the poor of the upper class take home more in discretionary income than half the country's gross income. Boo freaking hoo.

And don't forget, of that 18 thou the best of the bottom half has to spend, a lot of it will be sucked up by other taxes. Not to mention the 40% of American people being too broke to pay ANY taxes at all. That's a staggering number! Embarrassing for a country that is constantly claiming to be the greatest in the world. And it becomes even more telling when you recognize that, although in Huckabee's fairy tale, (I'll call her by her Republican birth name, Huckabee, not her usurped Democrat name, Sanders), she says that after the 20-dollar beer tab break, the bottom 4 still pay the same, nothing, that's not true in reality. The tax cuts for the rich are going to be made possible by the axing of social programs that the bottom 4 depend on for survival. So, while she's warning of the danger of #1 leaving for greener pastures because he doesn't like paying his fair share of beer tab, (boo freakin' hoo), the REAL danger is the bottom 4 people not showing up at the bar because they can't even EAT! I.E. THEY'RE DEAD! But they wouldn't be missed much. More beer for the top six, right? Population control at its best!

And what about that upper 10 or 1% somewhere after the 153,000 a year income mark? Do they REALLY pay that much in taxes? Does Donald Trump himself even PAY taxes? In the stupid analogy, the top guy most likely represents the top 1% and is said to pay 59% of the bill. Does the top 1% of America pay 59% of the taxes? That is by FAR the most laughable part of this analogy! Here's a little sample of what I'm talking about from the website of a guy who better suits the Sanders name, Bernie Sanders:

And this is a tiny part of the tip of the iceberg. There are trillions of untaxed dollars legally stashed away every year by the super rich and all kinds of holes in the tax code that allow the rich to pay nothing. In fact, some are taking advantage of tax breaks to actually come out AHEAD at tax time. The proposed plan by Trump, (what the hell would you expect from this guy???), is nothing more than corporate welfare. Extra money for those who need it least.

So here's more accurately how the analogy should go: The richest of the group, #1, would say, (so all the bar would hear), "Relax, fellas, I'll pay," then get his lawyers to convince the owners of the bar that he shouldn't pay. Probably by showing his bank account at zero, (but not showing his tax free, Cayman Islands bank account), and saying how his large company will benefit the other nine in the long run even though the bottom four are at the bottom because they were just "downsized" by his company and their jobs were outsourced to India. But, since somebody has to pay, the middle five would split the bill even though they're really the only ones who ever pay for the beer when these 10 guys drink. And let's be honest, the top guy of THAT five would probably have a tax loophole or two, so in the analogy, he'd go to the bathroom when the check comes and let the other four divide the bill. Most of the other patrons at the bar believe the number 1 guy always buys the drinks. A few of the patrons, who are partial to a conspiracy theory, reckon it's the number 2 guy who pays. Occasionally the other patrons get into heated debates about it too. But nobody really knows the truth.

Another massive problem with this silly parable is that in the analogy, every person is one person. But if you divide the U.S. into appropriate tax or income brackets to suit the analogy, the lower you go, the larger the number of people there are sharing the tax cuts. Again, this benefits the guy at the top, or in real life, the top 1%.

This is the kind of speech that keeps you from being fired from the Trump administration. Is she really that stupid? Or is she just pandering to the politically illiterate and/or sleeping voters who Trump depends on? Either way she has made herself look like a jackass's ass's ass. Yes that's right, if asses had asses, she would be the ass of the ass of a jackass. And if you give any credence to this baloney, I have two words for you: HEE HAW!

Here's a better description of the plan. Also from the website of Bernie Sanders.

I hope this is yet another attempt by Agent Orange to do something that will end up being shot down. Don't be fooled by lies and stupid drinking stories. Don't sleep while this rubbish gets passed. Wake up! It's just the latest fart trumpeted from the Whitehouse's most flatulent resident ever.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

The Korean Outing

The weekend jaunt to Korea was big, hairy balls of fun! I didn't get everything done, but I sure did have a good weekend!

I had to blow off a class with Huasheng to catch my train to Beijing. I didn't mind that at all! It was the class with the little brat who cried for 2 hours because he didn't get his way. He will probably own a company like Huasheng someday. I told the boss I had looked at the old schedule when booking my plane tickets and train tickets. The class had been changed the week before. For the umpteenth time. One of the reasons I gave for quitting Huasheng was their instability. Good example right here. And I'm sure the class was changed on the whim of one of the mothers, something I've warned them about but they refuse to respect my knowledge. Probably because it was gained mostly in Korea and they think it is completely different here. It's not. You give the mothers a whiff of control and they'll insinuate themselves into every aspect of the business. Their jobs are to teach their kids manners so they don't cry for two straight hours. I don't tell them how to do that and I would appreciate if they didn't try to tell me how to teach. But the employer still just sees the money. They can't figure out that the parents, (let's face it, the mothers), aren't the money, I am. But they're not very smart, just dishonest, that's why their business is in the toilet.

I also left a bit early from my Thursday afternoon class. It's another I don't like. One of the bird classes the university tossed me. Unbelievably even HARDER than the 4 hour class with the 90 students. For one main reason: the students. For the most part, their English level is far too low for a course like this. I'm supposed to be teaching them about the cultures of major English speaking countries. I chose the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the countries of the UK as my major English speaking countries. They had a textbook that was advanced level and had chosen those countries. Seriously, a native English speaker would have had to work hard to read that book! It's like my TOEFL class. They all have another major, they just want to improve their English as part of their program so they just look at what a GOOD school, with GOOD students might do and regardless of ability or English level, they do the same thing. In both of the classes I've told them to leave the books at home. They understand one of every 100 words. Sell them, use them to prop up a wobbly table or throw them away. That's all the good they'll do you. You are several years of solid English study and who knows how many I.Q. points away from using those books. I've been told by a few of my students that they are at this school because their grades were not good enough to go somewhere else. In short, I'm not dealing with the cream of the Chinese crop here. Whatever the opposite of the cream of the crop is, I see it quite often. The 1% powdered milk of the crop maybe. It's hard to miss.

For instance, the lesson on Thursday was not really a lesson. I gave them an assignment two weeks before to choose one of the listed countries, (or groups of countries), and one aspect of culture and make a poster about it. I wrote a long list of very broad cultural aspects on the board the day they made their choices. Architecture, art, music, food, festivals, superstitions, body language, family, and so on. One chose English rock and did the Beatles and Rolling Stones. Not bad. Solid. Another group chose Australian animals and did the koala and the kangaroo. Again pretty good. Those two groups will pass. One group chose the UK and buildings. They printed out a picture of the right building where Big Ben is, and a picture of some other buildings unrelated. And, of course, they wrote about Big Ben as the clock tower, when really it's the bell. And what they wrote is unintelligible. Four people and nobody knew how to use a period. They'll probably fail. Then there was Canada buildings. They chose the CN Tower. And wrote about Canadian National railway in English AND Chinese. I got them to fix it during class time so they might squeak by. I told the class a poster should be larger than one sheet of paper. That's all most of them had. But group 6, (American buildings), solved that problem. Two of them drew a picture of the U.S. parliament building and wrote about it on one piece of paper. The other two? Same thing. Then they stuck the two pages together.



Another group did Australian seafood and that wasn't bad. Then there was group two. They did American food. On the one hand, they didn't do the expected hot dogs, hamburgers, pizza and fried chicken. On the other hand, they have some foods on their poster that are rarely eaten in America. Certainly not staples. Like buckwheat, sauerkraut, chicken chop, Yorkshire pudding, and they have incomprehensible writing about the foods that sometimes can't be seen. I dunno what I'll do with that one. And finally, my personal favourite, American movies. Of the bazillion American movies they could have chosen, they chose Casablanca, (okay, good choice), and Leon. A French movie. And they KNEW it! I asked and they told me. So why did you choose it? We like this movie. It's not even called Leon in the States. They called it "The Professional." Okay, it has Natalie Portman and there's some English, but really? REALLY??? And then they took lines from the movies that had been translated into Chinese and translated them back into English. Like the very memorable, "There are so many towns in the world. there are so many pubs in the town. she goes in mine." And the oft quoted, "The deepest love I think, later than apart, I will live as you like." But, the artwork was pretty good.


I'll take pics of them later and add them. Funny stuff! Right now I'm using my Fire to watch the Tigers and Doosan scrap it out. We watched two games together in Korea. Well, not quite two and not always ALL together. But good news: the Tigers won them both! If they win tonight, they're Korean champs! It's still 0-0 in the 2nd inning. Tigers came close to scoring in the first but some unlucky base running cost them. They have Hector, a 20 game winner, pitching tonight. Winning 15 in the KBO is like 20 in the majors. So winning 20 is outrageously good! Tigers have TWO 20 game winners. WOAH!!! As I type this Beom Ho just busted out of his hitting slump with a GRAND SLAM! Tigers up 5-0! This could be it!

Well, the Tigers ended up winning 7-6! They are the champs! Woohoo!!!

This is Yang Hyun Jong, the OTHER 20 game winner. He pitched a gem in the second game. Four hits, 11 strike-outs and a complete game shut out. He came into last nights game after the Tigers, as they like to do, had blown a big lead and were in a bases loaded jam. But Yang got them out of hot water and added a save to his dominant game two win to become the KBO Korean Series MVP.

Here's the team with their brand new, Kia Tiger 2017 Champs hats and shirts, (still with tags on), celebrating in Seoul's Chamshil Stadium. It's too bad they couldn't win it at home in Gwangju, but I'm glad they won. Notice some of the players wearing their champagne goggles. Never seen that before. Last night's starter, Hector Noesi even had a snorkel.

Well, it's the weekend for me now. I usually don't stop writing for a few days and then pick up the same blog post, but I did it this time. I have to mention the latest from the low watt bulbs that are my culture class. I put together a lesson on capital punishment for them. As always it took up a lot of time and it was a complete flop. I outlined capital punishment in the major English speaking countries, how it was done, when it was last carried out and when it was abolished, if it has been, (Murca). Australia was tough cuz they did it region by region but I thought the territories of Australia would be a good thing for a class like this to know. The UK was tough too because it goes way back to when you could get put to death for stealing something worth a buck. If you said, "The Queen sucks!" BOOM! Capital punishment. If you used your salad fork to eat your blood pudding, BOOM capital punishment. If you slurped your tea too loudly, BOOM capital punishment. Even today remnants of the crazy harsh laws still remain. If you kill the Queen, you will receive capital punishment. If you kill Ricky Gervais - no! How is THAT fair? Is it possibly for his rotten treatment of Carl Pilkington over the years? No! If I kill any regular Brit, I will just get a lengthy prison sentence. So even though Ricky Gervais' career has probably brought more pleasure to the realm than the lady in fancy dress who does nothing, (I would go so far as to say just his Office dance outranks Liz's entire output!), she is still regarded as death penalty worthy.

What?!?! You don't know the David Brent Office dance?

Now, can the Queen dance like that? Come on! Ha ha ha! I just laughed so hard I coughed and coughed and cried. Yes, for not only did I bring back a well worn body from the Korean outing, (particularly the liver, (I actually drank Soju AND Makkoli and I don't like either!)), I brought back a cold. I had planned to bring back plenty of cold medicine and treatments from Korea that you just can't find here, like Theraflu, a hot lemon drink like Neo Citron, and Halls and Fisherman's Friends, and maybe even a few strands of envelopes full of mystery pills and rabbit droppings expats in Korea call "cold bombs." There may be nobody who could tell you exactly what they are, but boy howdy, they work!

Usually you get a string of about 10 or 15 of these and they have some brown mini feed pellet looking things, (rabbit droppings), with them. Ever eat the cereal All Bran? Just miniaturize that. In fact, my theory is that one of the pills might cause constipation and that brown rubble is just bran to counteract that. Anyway, I didn't end up getting any of that stuff and, of course, I immediately need it. I've had a cold all week. But I didn't miss a class. The hardest was my first class on Monday. After getting back to the uni at 1:30, getting maybe 3 hours of sleep then getting up at 5:30, I had to face, you guessed it, the low watt bulbs. I threw together a Halloween lesson and some questions about being scared and they went over like warm Coke. Although, here in China, warm Coke is preferred over cold I think. Can you believe that?

So they are the start and end of my week. Today I tried the capital punishment and it went over like insects on a stick. Oh wait... Well they got nothing out of it. Put no effort into it at all. Maybe they were upset at their grades on the posters. Only one failed, and I thought I was very generous on most. But I think they've been told to expect a class where they don't need to even pay attention and they'll get good grades. I've seen this before. I spend months evaluating them professionally, hand the marks in and the dean of the department changes them all to 70's or above. Ah, who cares? As long as I don't see it. But in the mean time, I have to deal with these sluggos.

Today for about the fifth time, I gave them all numbers randomly to divide them into groups. There are 32 students so I gave them numbers from 1-8. Groups of four. Hopefully people you haven't talked with before. Then I gave them 20 questions about capital punishment to talk about. It took them longer to figure out how to get into their groups of 4 than to "finish" the conversation questions. I seriously wonder if these kids wouldn't be put into special ed. in Canada. Really interesting things to talk about like, "What do you think the most humane method of capital punishment would be?" "What would the LEAST humane method be?" (I taught them the word humane beforehand and gave them some examples like the Iron Maiden, the guillotine, the Death of a Thousand Cuts, "Lingchi" (used in China!), the firing squad, electric chair, gas chamber, lethal injection, hanging, and asked which they would prefer. How would they be executed if they could choose the method? If someone killed your family, how would you choose to execute that person? What are the crimes that you think should be punished by the death penalty?

I had busted my ass to teach them learning from context. I gave the example, "Jane is terrible! I hate Jane!" What does terrible mean? Most didn't know but I told them to guess. "Does it mean something good? NO! I hate her. So you can guess what it means. (unless you're stupid or don't give a fuck) Then I gave them some sentences from the lesson. "In Canada, the final two people were hanged for crimes in 1962. Then the death penalty was abolished in 1976. Nobody has been executed in Canada for 55 years."  It was similar for NZ, Aus, UK and I told them the US has not abolished it. They still used capital punishment. They still execute people for crimes." Not one of them could figure out what "abolished," or "executed," meant. I had written the "death penalty" so many times I started abbreviating it as the D.P. and about half the class asked what that meant.

And every week I spend more time creating really interesting lessons for these students that will just waste the first two hours and the last two hours of my week. The computer in the class is shit so I can't do any of the videos or picture presentations needed to really describe interesting aspects of culture. Can't do music, art, food, I just have to make handouts that bore them. I've asked for computer repairs or if we could change to a room with a serviceable computer and received the knee-jerk, "I'll ask somebody about that..." The same thing I received when I explained how I haven't been paid for my work in August yet. Today was payday and guess what? I still haven't been paid for my work in August yet.

At any rate, I coughed, sneezed and blew my nose through the two hours with my sluggo class. As if they're not hard enough to teach! A couple of times I stopped writing or drawing on the board or talking to sneeze and got laughed at. I took a stack of used toilet paper out at the break and after the class large enough to smother one of them. But if they were all asked about my health, most of them would probably say, "No, I didn't notice any sickness."

But, thanks to quitting Huasheng, the sluggos are my only burden. I like my other classes. However, the nightmare has not yet ended. Today I got a message from Doris telling me that besides the sick day, the holiday classes I didn't work and the one I cancelled to go get emergency dental work done, they are also going to charge me for the two hours I didn't teach on the Sunday I quit. If you don't recall, this is the class they didn't tell me was cancelled until I got to their office. So I even get docked pay when they cancel classes with no notice. After being told that I sent them a laughter icon and said, "I am SO glad I quit!" So for missing four classes mostly legitimately, I was docked half my monthly salary. The total they SAY they are going to pay me on the 15th of November is just a bit over 4000 RMB. My salary is supposed to be 8000. But as I keep saying, I don't think they'll pay me anything. We shall see...

But did they stop there? NO! It is their mission to make my life as stressful as possible. They now are all hot and bothered to get my visa transferred to the university where I'm working. I told them that was unnecessary. My bad here! I should have told them I desperately wanted them to transfer the work visa to the university. Then we wouldn't be having this problem. Instead I told them they don't have to do anything. So, of course, they are doing something. And they actually got Doris to say to me, "I need you to tell me the specific procedure for transferring your visa." RIGHT! Like I'm going to do the work for them! I told Doris it's the responsibility of the employers to do that crap. And they have almost 4 months to figure out how to do it. It took them 7 months to figure out the visa so I don't know if they'll be able to do it. Again, we shall see...

But I got my teeth filled, I saw the Peet/Spiwaks very briefly, too briefly, and I partied with Amber, DB, Ty and Gordon. We ate loads of Korean food, drank Korean beverages, even went to Noraebang! It was just what I needed to wash a little of the Huasheng taste out of my mouth! I think a nice Christmas and some Olympics will finish the job! That's what I'm looking forward to in December, January and February.

There will be more Korean outings to come.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Two Outstanding Speeches

Probably the second best speech I've ever heard about the world we live in. Remarkably given by a politician. Let's just go over some of the bullet points:

- Secrecy is repugnant in a free and open society.

EVERYTHING is triple protected with usernames, passwords and secret questions FOR OUR CONVENIENCE. I hate these things because I am a free and open person. I don't require secrecy and have very often wondered at people, businesses and countries who are so desperately concerned with hiding, concealing and keeping things secret. Secret codes, secret bank accounts, secret clubs, secret societies. These all smack of things other than freedom and openness if you ask me.

-The dangers of unwarranted concealment of pertinent facts far outweigh the dangers which are cited to justify it.

How do people justify secret actions? It's for the good of the _____ (insert completion of lie here). Company, country, world? Secrecy is a very large part of deceit. I am getting a crash course on that as you may have been reading in my recent blog entries and can read below. Just one of the dangers of it is a nightmarish society in which greed is good, kindness is weakness, lying is considered necessary, and brotherhood is sacrificed at the altar of the almighty dollar. And Kennedy was right. Nowadays few people are honest and genuine. Most secretly want to stomp you into the ground and steal your fair share to gain themselves one that is unfairly large.

-... an announced need for increased security will be seized upon by those anxious to increase its meaning to the very limits of official censorship and concealment.

Before the announced need for increased security will be SUCCESSFULLY seized upon, fear must be strategically sown. Enough fear to convince people that illegally levied taxes are "needed" to pay for the increased security. Invasive attacks on personal rights and freedoms are also needed. Then the fear mongers and freedom thieves, who are or represent the companies and corporations that will provide said increased security laugh all the way to the bank at the gullibility of their frightened, but obedient benefactors.

Here in China I am astounded by the general public's fear to stand up, speak out or even THINK about what is fair and honest for fear that they might be offending the powers that be. Those very powers who created that fear and censorship for their personal gain. Even in the midst of cruel and unconscionable treatment by their employers, I've seen people who are so afraid to lose their jobs that they can effectively repress reality and continue trusting in the confidence pedlars for whom they work.

- For we are opposed around the world by a monolithic and ruthless conspiracy that relies primarily on  covet means for expanding its sphere of influence. ...On subversion instead of elections... Its mistakes are buried, not headlined. Dissenters are silenced, not praised.

People, the greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist. Whether you learn that from The Usual Suspects or Charles Baudelaire, it's a truth that applies to everyone's lives. There IS a conspiracy, a WORLD conspiracy, but the most effective means of its concealment has been the writing off of any of its whistleblowers as conspiracy theorists.

I wish he had gone a bit more into the "covet means" part to show how this world conspiracy is fed by GREED.

It relies on subversion rather than elections. I don't believe there has been a fair election in North America since this man was elected in 1960, with the possible exception of Mexico. JFK predicted half a century of fraud deceitfully disguised as freedom of choice. And what happened to all the information found about these "elections" being PROVEN false? Buried! Forgotten about. We all just went along in the guise that it never existed. Exactly how the U.S. is living day by day under the MOST fallacious of fake presidents to date.

The saddest part of this speech is the last line in which he effectively predicts his own assassination. "Dissenters are silenced, not praised." The world will never know how many dissenters have been silenced. It's one of the secrets. But John Kennedy certainly deserved praise, not assassination!

- For as a wise man once said, 'An error doesn't become a mistake until you refuse to correct it.'

Other than false elections we continue to stage, (and pay absurd amounts of money for), how many mistakes do we keep repeating and repeating without correction? All they need is a person in a position to correct them, and ANOTHER person who knows how much money the first person will accept to delay their correction. This, friends, is euphemistically called "lobbying," when it should be called perpetuating the conspiracy. It is not only practiced, but actually respected!

Greed crashing the stock market. "Oh, we promise never to do it again," say the people who got rich while everybody was losing everything. They are foolishly believed and they do it all over again.

"Oh, THIS time we really NEED to go to war," say those same war mongers from above. And they are believed again after probably staging some false flag show to encourage public outrage.

"We promise to for surely be more environmentally friendly," says the conglomerate that is once again believed and not taxed for its pollution.

"We are definitely right now putting together a plan to pay fair living wages to all our employees," lies the filthy rich company after putting "Outsource India" on hold to tell this lie.

"We DO care about the filthy, little, lower and middle class, and we are going to implement a plan to make disgustingly rich people piles more money so that their crumbs will be more substantial for you putridly poor creatures. HONEST!"

The only reason this is not public knowledge is the efforts of our rulers, that monolithic and ruthless bunch of scumbags, to conceal it and to ensure us all that it is all conspiracy THEORY, not actual conspiracy.

Then the part where he talks about the world getting smaller and news being more important to keep people informed and educated. Well, that didn't happen, did it? We went completely the other way! And now, the BEST speech I've heard about the world we live in during which George Carlin talks, not quite so elegantly, about this conspiracy too.

It's a big club and you ain't in it.

I may not agree with the writing at the end, but George Carlin was right on the money!

As for me and my ongoing attempt at dissent in this world of conspiracy, I just quit my job for the second time!

Yup, this time for good. I am just tired of representatives of what Kennedy called the "covet means" lying right to my face and stealing my money. The latest was a beaut! They call me in to work a little bit early. They have a new girl working with me named Doris whose English is better than the other girls', (except Faith's), and she seems like a nice girl. They know I like her. They also know I can't stand the new HR girl. There I go using that redundant word "new" again. Everybody where I work is new. I worked for them for 9 months and everybody but the owner and Mr. Liu, the brass, was replaced at least twice. Anyway the HR girl knew it would be a good tactic to get Doris to call me in early. They didn't tell me it was for a meeting with her. In fact Doris said, "We want to meet with you." And I asked who "we" was. She just said her co-worker. I guessed then.

What I didn't guess was the topic of the conversation or the fact that my class had been cancelled. They got young, innocent Doris to lie to me and say the parents all at the same time, half an hour before class, called to cancel. Poor girl. She believes in honesty. She'll be eaten alive at this place. Like I was. So, what happened, and was kept from me, was the class was cancelled. But this HR bitch can't stand it when I have free time! She's been ordering me to work on holidays, and on my weekend since she started. That's why I hate her. So instead of text me, which would have been no problem, they devise a way to waste more of my time and money with this meeting.

I got there and they told me they wanted to talk about the recent classes I didn't teach. One was a sick day and one was a holiday. We'll start with the sick day. If you've read my blog lately, you'll know I wasn't expecting to be paid on Oct. 15th, my payday. Well, I wasn't. In the heyday of my employment with Huasheng, they paid on a the Friday before the weekend if the payday fell on the weekend. Oct. 15th was a Sunday. No pay on the Friday or the Sunday. I was not surprised. But on the 16th I had nothing in my account and I sent messages to Mr. Liu, Diana, (the owner), and this HR bitch. Nothing nasty, just "when will I be paid," and "why haven't I been paid?" NONE of them replied for two days. Completely ghosted me! So on the night of the second day I looked drank 22 beer and called in sick. I didn't bother to fight the unwinnable argument about going to the doctor and getting a note in advance of the sickness. They said they were going to charge me 400 RMB per hour for my absence. That's about 80 bucks and I missed two hours. So it is 160 bucks. This from a company that very recently offered to pay me about 20 bucks an hour.

I laughed that one off because there was nothing I could do. An all too familiar feeling when working at Huasheng. Helplessness as they steal my money. Next she brought up the part in my contract where it says I am supposed to get all Chinese public holidays off. And she launches into how I will be charged for refusing a class ON A HOLIDAY. Not only was it a Chinese holiday, Oct. 8, it was a Sunday and it was Canadian Thanksgiving. AAAANNNNDDDD, I worked 4 hours that day even though I didn't have to! "Don't care, want more!"

I repeated several times that I didn't have to work that day because it was a holiday. And that, in her idiom, she had scheduled the three classes in the LEAST convenient way possible. ON PURPOSE. There was one in the early morning and two at night. All two hour classes. I pleaded with her to change the morning class to the afternoon but she just kept demanding I teach it. In the end I said I would teach the afternoon classes or none at all. Then she hounded me with several messages ordering me to teach and I ignored her. She even called former employees who had quit to call me and get me to respond to her. I didn't. Finally she messages me and says, "Okay, cancel the morning class?" I responded, "Yes." Well obviously, the bullshit Asian way to defend yourself when you are completely wrong was needed: I had cost her face. So she must punish me. I'm sorry but I hate working there already, I'm not going to have an ongoing pissing contest with a zero like her!

So anyway, 800 more deducted. Ignore the fact that YOU just told me I didn't have to work at all that day, I will be punished for not working that day. Absolutely astounding, isn't it? So then she, (through the translation of Doris), asked if there was anything else I wanted to tell the management. Mr. Liu and Diana are trying to establish Doris as a buffer because when I contact them directly, it is usually about my being cheated by them and they don't want to deal with that. It takes them out of their happy little fantasy in which they are good businesspeople and good people.

I said to Doris that I DID have something to say so as not to make this trip to the office a complete waste of my time and my 50 RMB taxi money. If I wasn't 100% sure before this ambush, I was now, so I told her I officially quit. I was asked for my reasons and went over several. Like the fact that this capitalist monster beside her was complicit with management in delaying my pay and ignoring my inquiries about it. I showed her the exact text with the exact time. It was two days later that I got paid. I asked shitface why she didn't respond and she just bowed her head in guilt. So Doris saw this and her stealing my money and lying right to my face. But STILL Doris refuses to admit that these people and this company are not good. She continues to defend them.

In my letter of resignation I mentioned how trust was lost and I told Doris to mention to her owners that my last day will be Oct. 31. I have 2 hours of work on that day with over 100 students. It's a huge amount of money for the company. Doris relayed my message to HR Rottencrotch that I will not teach that class unless I am paid by Oct. 30. This was a week in advance. Of course HR Rottencrotch says the insanely absurd, but expected, "There is no way we can pay you at that time. We have a system and we can not change it just for you." And she got Doris to relay this message. And Doris naively believed it. My pay will be something in the neighbourhood of 6000 RMB. That's 1150 Canadian. That's with the bullshit deductions. I am never going to see this money. I have told Doris this repeatedly. I have given her several examples of people who were stiffed for their final paychecks by Hwasheng, I have given her wechat contacts, I have told her the legends that Faith has told me, and she just tells me she doesn't want to contact any of them. She doesn't like hearing about how this company has destroyed its reputation by not paying and that's why it's going into the toilet. Because she is afraid. Afraid that the world really IS this highly organized and monolithic conspiracy. Afraid she won't ever escape it. Afraid that even her country, that she was taught the opposite about in grade school, is a willing participant in this world conspiracy. Poor kid!

So now that I won't have to work on Halloween, (I probably would have worn a costume and the kids would have LOVED it!), I have worked my last for Huasheng and I feel ABSOLUTELY GREAT about it! All day today I have been humming a happy tune. The fact that they have stolen from me, or cost me the depressing amount of about 15000 bucks, probably more, I have to chalk up to experience like all the other rip-offs I have endured in my ESL career. How am I doing that? The way I always do: I am travelling. I'm gonna go to Korea this weekend and visit Amber, DB, Heather, Mike and the kids and Gord is flying there from China too. He's my friend who has worked at the Australian school in Shenyang for years. So we will all drink some good Korean beer, watch some Korean Series between the Kia Tigers, (DB, Amber and my fave), and the Doosan Bears, (Heather, Mike and family's fave). I will also stock up on much needed supplies and probably get a couple teeth filled.

Then I'll return to a much easier schedule with infinitely less stress. And heat will be on by midweek too! I'll have a little over a month to teach then I'll be done for a couple months or more. Then I'll either continue working for the university by transferring my visa to them, or go to the job in Shenyang and get a whole new work visa. This nightmare with Huasheng will fade to just an amusing few blogposts.

 But the fight against injustice in the world will go on! Fear not, readers. Even if I land that job in Shenyang and love it, I'll find something to write/complain about.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

On My Own Over Here

Feeling a bit lonely. Don't rush for the box of Kleenex just yet, I'm not the kind of guy who would go on Survivor for a week then bust down into sobs when I see a family member or friend I haven't seen for seven days. Those are always the WORST episodes!

I'm not like the guy from Mr. Robot, who curls into a dramatic ball now and then and just cries from his loneliness. I wish I were him. I'd take the loneliness if I could hack my employers and put them out of business. I have a hoodie. Wearing it now cuz I have no heat in my apartment. By the way, GREAT show!

I go years without seeing family and friends with narry a tissue worth of tears. It's just survival. Forced onto me by a country I just outgrew. I have always had a yen, (pardon the pun), to see the world. I loved Rupert The Bear, Tintin and a few other books where you can find pictures of other countries. They seemed like other planets to me as a boy.

Here's Rupert with Tigerlilly. Her father is a conjurer and they fly in the clouds and find a dragon. I forget most of the story but it was one I loved to re-read when I visited my Grandmother and Grandfather's house as a boy. We didn't have Rupert books at home. I still remember wishing I could meet a real life Tigerlilly on my own.

But we DID have some Tintin books. Both of these series' are old, even by MY standards, but nostalgic for me. Even old enough to have a little bit of racism in them. But I didn't notice. I loved the architecture and the total foreign-ness of the pictures. Like this one:


It shows things a lot less crowded and cleaner than what I have experienced, but the Chinese hustle and industriousness is accurate. The architecture and clothing, though some is more modern, is still almost as foreign today. And I just love the adventure of seeing different cultures!

But I have to admit feeling a little bit like the Thompson brothers. I'm trying to fit in and get along here but feel less like a Wae guo ren, (foreign country person), and more like a Laowei, (slang, offensive term more commonly used. Like "gringo" in Spanish.), all the time.

Right from the very first day I was in China and my employers virtually abandoned me saying, "Welcome to a huge city in the most populace country in the world where you don't speak a lick of the language! You're on your own! Find your hotel with no directions from us and don't be late for the meeting early tomorrow morning even though we won't tell you how or where to find us."

I thought I was going to be okay when I moved to Taiyuan because Faith showed some intelligent concern. I say that because it's remarkably uncommon. I sometimes get asked by students if I miss some things from home. I usually talk about the food I miss and they always have the same, unhelpful answer: "Just buy it online." It's not, believe it or not, just the fact that all the online websites for buying stuff here, (Taobao and Ali Baba are the main ones), are impossible for me to use due to my Chinese illiteracy, it's also got to do with banking. Foreigners have special accounts that do not have the privileges you get if you're a native. Then if you can navigate THOSE problems, you need a mailing address. That's notoriously undependable. And if it's a package, you have to go to the right location, which will be on the card in Chinese and you won't know where it is so you'll need someone to help you with that. And people have told me that even if you go to the right place with the right card, and see your package behind the counter, they STILL might tell you there is some more paperwork or bureaucracy required. It's just not worth it. Like just about everything in my experience so far, and I'm serious about that, just about everything is at least twice as hard to do here.

I just got up to get a glass of water. Let me run down the procedure to illustrate what I'm talking about. To GET drinking water in the first place, I have been given a card. I wave it in front of a sensor on a wall-mounted water machine then choose hot or cold, (the Chinese and their hot water!!!), put a container under the spout and get the water. It's up one floor in my apartment, but at least I don't have to go outside to get it. There's that "at least" thinking again.

In my old place I brought jugs to work, filled them up and carried them home. So far the water has been fine. As far as I know. I usually get it at night here, which causes a bit of trouble. See, the hallways are not lit up. The lights are on sensors. Not motion, but noise sensors. Chinese volume noise sensors. So in order to see if my jug is nearly full I have to stomp my foot or yell or cough really loud to get the light on. I'm sure it's annoying to the people who live on the third floor.

Since my fridge no longer works and, despite my telling the correct people, despite asking for the use of one of the two in the spare room on the third floor opposite the water machine, I still haven't been given permission. My fridge is just a lighted storage box for food. The weather here is cold enough now so that it's warmer than just keeping the food out. My freezer is a bit colder than fridge temperature so I can't keep the water in there, but I can't make ice cubes really. I make cubes full of water. So that's what I put in my water so I can have a cold glass of water. When I'm done, I'll fill a tub with hot water in my shower, put it in with some other dirty dishes and wash it beside my bathroom sink, rinsing it under the same tap where I wash my hands, shave, brush my teeth etc. As I always say, it makes for fun stories, but it really sucks while you're going through it.

I'd like to go shopping and buy some stuff like cheese, milk, meat, ice cream, just think of all the stuff that you can't buy without a functioning fridge! It's forcing me into eating habits I don't like. And eating, as anyone who knows me can testify, is very important to me. But I do most of my own cooking. Even in Korea where I like ALL the food, I didn't usually eat out. Here, where I have yet to find anything that has wowed me, it's even rarer for me to eat out. And I'm being nice. The fact is, I don't like the food here. Everything is street food. And it's not even GOOD street food like chicken skewers in Korea or yaki mandoo or beef/cheese ramyun. It's average at best. I eat it just to fill up. By far the biggest discovery to me has been the little chicken burgers one place on campus sells. I usually buy one of their burrito bread wraps so they aren't insulted at my only buying the chicken burgers, (which I think they buy from a 7-11 somewhere). The wraps have egg, cucumber and lettuce, which I like, then there's a strip of mystery meat that is marginally better than spam, some brown sauce painted on, some unidentified pickled veggies and a squeeze of spicy powder. They're not bad, but I can't see myself ever buying one if necessity didn't dictate.

And it's not like I'm not trying things. I have tried MANY things that I couldn't even finish. I mean spit out what's in your mouth and throw away the rest bad! Like today with the shrimp chips I bought. I like Saewoo gang, the Korean shrimp chips. The ones I bought today were spicy shrimp chips and I nearly puked when I bit into one. They're at the bottom of my garbage bag as I type.

This is what I'm talking about. The Chinese ones were shaped identically and most likely made of similar, but cheaper and easier to mass produce stuff. And the flavouring was a nightmare! Awful!

Even the one meal that I need to eat to get my veggies and cut down on my bread, my chicken stirfry, has become more challenging for me. There are easily bought veggies right on campus. Fruit too. So if I wanted to really health out, I could just eat them. I actually did that on my day off. I cut up some cucumbers, carrots, green peppers, celery and just made a dipping tray. What, you might ask, did I dip them in? Well ranch dressing can't be found. Dip mixes are not available. A cream cheese and spice mixture would be good if I could purchase cream cheese, spices or other dairy products needed. Even milk is at a premium here. But, I find myself doing this constantly too, I improvised. I had made some pasta with Ragu roasted garlic and parmesan sauce. I put bacon and green beans in it. It was excellent! But I didn't use all the sauce and my "fridge" wasn't keeping it cold so I needed to use it. It became veggie dip. Not bad, but just not the same.

But my stirfry is now not as good because I have to cook it in the wok that I explained in another post, has the stickiest cooking surface known to man, but it's the only kind of cookware I can use with the electric burners I have. Oh there's a gas stove here, but no gas. "Could I get that hooked up?" I asked when I move in here. I think the answer was something like, "Hummina hummina hummina."

The more I think about this place, Taiyuan University of Science and Tech., my GOOD employer, the more I get a twinge of being completely on my own here. And it pretty much started right away too. I was put to work in late August and I still have not been paid for those hours. I have confronted the person in charge of that by text and in person about 5 times and so far have received nothing but the runaround. I think she wanted me to think she FORGOT about it and not say anything. She's an Asian woman. She's an Asian woman who has been put in charge of accounts so is even better with money, presumably, that other Asian women. This means she would push her best friend into the mud to get a 1 RMB coin they both saw on the ground at the same time. Chances she forgot to pay me: less than zero. One time I texted her and got the reply, "I'm not in town right now." Then the other day I bumped into her on campus and she asked if I'm doing okay so I reminded her of the money. She quickly excused herself to get a taxi she said was waiting and mumbled, "I told George not to give you hours in August." Funny thing is, she was AT the table when I was told by George that I should start right away. She didn't say anything. She printed out my schedule and it included August starting dates for some classes. She went with me to get my bank account and mentioned that we need to do this so we can pay you this month. THAT month. That month was August. Chances that there really was a taxi waiting for her: improbable.

I went up to talk to someone in the office two floors above me. Cindy and a guy I call David are the two people up there who have offered to help if I need stuff. So I mentioned that I have no heat. David came down and fiddled endlessly with the air conditioners, explained the settings to me, didn't answer my other questions with anything concrete, then left. The aircons were on for a few hours and the place was no warmer. But the heat will be turned on at the beginning of November. We'll see how good that is.

I asked about a new fridge and was ignored. I asked if something could be done about the shyte internet and how I have had to alter lesson plans repeatedly because of it. He thought it would make me feel better knowing that THEY are having trouble too. He mealy mouthed about someone maybe coming to fix it but it's no better. I also asked about the computers all over the school and explained how they have messed up one of my USB flashdrives and cost me some important files. The response was that he'll ask George to ask if there is a technician...blah blah blah. Nothing will be done. George, the guy who speaks English the best of the three, is the guy who did most of the talking at the meeting when I agreed to work here. He scheduled 6 hours of classes for me at the South Campus and didn't tell me where to catch the bus there or how to get to the room where I teach. He also neglected to mention two scheduling changes and gave me the wrong starting time for one of my classes. He assigned me a TOEFL class and a Survey of Major English Speaking Countries class and I requested books or ideas or any help at all. I got it AFTER the classes had started. It really didn't help for either class and, here's that lack of intelligent concern again, he told me to meet him in the pink building beside the library. Well it was just dumb luck that I knew where the library was. Of course Chinese people all go there, but why would I? There are no English books and I can't yet read Chinese though I have been here studying once a month for over a year now.

There are pink buildings on both sides of the library. I just chose one. He gave me the room number. In English. But the rooms didn't have numbers in English. I know it sounds weird because the Chinese use the same number we do, but they have characters for their numbers as well.

Okay, one to three I have under control but if I'm looking for numbers, I'm certainly not going to notice them. His office had the room number in Chinese characters. He didn't think to mention that. We ended up having to call each other and meet outside the building, (I had chosen the right one and actually walked past his office). And HE was the one who acted annoyed! Like I should have been able to locate him. He might as well have given me the hand signals. Yes, they have those too and they are not the same though the general public will assume you know them. One little shithead at one of the stores near my old place, where they actually ripped me off a couple of times, charging me the Laowei price, tried a few times to tell me the price in the hand signals. "I don't know your fucking hand signals, but here's one for you!" I wanted to say. I didn't say that because, like the Thompson brothers, bless their bumbling, Belgian behinds, I was trying hard to fit in.

Liu is 6. I know that one cuz they, borrowed/stole the hang loose gesture from some creative genius Hawaiian surfer, (I'm guessing), and say liu liu liu to mean cool. Interesting... cool in China is 666. Isn't that a familiar number??? It's one that appears on the spawn of some evil, evil entity in the world. Who is it again???

Ha ha ha ha!

Anyway, I can rest unassured that THAT problem will be solved at any time in my future. And twice while he was here I mentioned to David, the little scam Cindy ran on me with the August pay. It's not a lot of money, but I am already thoroughly sick of being ripped off here. He got this weird look on his face, a kind of, "hmmm... what's going on here," look but gave me the perfunctory, "I'll talk to Cindy about that." And once again, these are my GOOD employers. I'm getting paid 7000 a month here for full time hours. That's a bit over a thousand American bucks. I prefer to think of it as 1300 Canadian. But still I have to go WAAAAY back to my salad days to remember a salary like that. You'd think the apartment that comes with that would be palatial! I can't even get a fridge that works, heat or a kitchen sink!

And then to add to my solitary melancholia, my original employers. Since the massive screw job, you'd think they would be treating me like gold, not slashing my profits to nothing. I seriously have been here for 8 months and am just now reaching the amount of money I had when I came here. And when I quit, it was made quite plain to them that without me, they have nothing. I'm their only teacher. So I AM gold. But if anything, they've been worse. Not a week goes by without some major fight. This week was payday. Because they have the month and a half stagger, (used only by crooked employers who know their employees will quit and leave suddenly, because of being mistreated no doubt, and they, the employers, want a whole pile of the employee's money when he/she takes off), I have made 12000 RMB by payday, that's close to 2300 Canadian dollars! So I don't want to be stiffed for that! But a month ago, when I was paid 5 days late and 3000 RMB less than I'd earned, I suspected I'd be ignored at payday this time. As it got closer, and we had argument after argument, I was feeling worse and worse. This is stress I don't need working 9 different classes with about 350 students.

Payday was on a Sunday. Back in the good old days, when Huasheng actually WAS paying me, I think there were two paydays that fell on weekends. They paid on the Friday before. This time, they didn't. But I didn't get too worried thinking it must have been the new, useless and thoroughly annoying HR girl they have there. I think she's in charge of putting money in the bank. Then Sunday rolled around. Nothing. Again, I was going to give them the umpteenth benefit of the doubt. My doubt is running out of benefits for these guys, lemme tell you! Monday nothing. Tuesday nothing. I tried to reach three people and was ghosted for two days by all of them. I was pretty sure they had just decided not to pay me. 12000 RMB down the toilet. "Hey, a whole case of beer beside, (not inside where it should be), my useless fridge. Why, I think it's about time to do the end of employment day off." I says to myself. This is something I've only done a few times at places where I had totally decided to quit. I drank about 22 beer.

The next day my phone was ringing off the hook! Because it was time for me to make THEM money. NOW they had to stop enjoying the little game they were playing. When they called me and told me I had to work I told them I was sick. Here's how much I hate the Chinese lying culture and will NEVER be able to fit in: I drank my face off so that I'd be able to half honestly say I was sick. A hangover IS sick, sorta. They annoyed me all day long asking if I was feeling good enough to work, asking if I could go in and just not say much... I just told them there was nothing they could do. At the end of the day I went to check my bank account. Guess what.

Once again, be an asshole and you get rewarded here in China. At least where I work. But I can't keep this up. I have a bit more than a month left in the semester at TUST and my contract with Huasheng. I really want to just quit right now because I STILL think Huasheng will stiff me one of the next two paychecks. I think TUST will pay, but who knows? They're all part of the same hypocrisy. And just when I thought I was out, they keep dragging me back in.

I am REALLY hoping that I can get on at an Australian uni up in Shenyang where my friend Gord works. I have been in touch with them and given my CV and they have said I would be a suitable candidate. We are waiting for word from above, but once she receives it, Donna, the girl who I hope will be my boss soon, will call me in for an interview and we'll get some paperwork done and by next semester, in late Feb., early March, I might be out of the Chinese wok and onto the Australian barbee! EVERYTHING about this job is better. I sure hope it pans out. So in my solitary darkness, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. I hope it's not an oncoming train.