China Since 1949, Updated

 

One of the older sections on The Xenophile Historian, the Chinese history, has now been updated. If you count from the rough draft, this work is really twenty-seven years old. I first composed it in 1988, right after The Last Emperor was in the theaters, and uploaded it to the young website in 1998. Then I might have tweaked the last chapter a bit in 2000, but it’s hard to remember now. What I do remember is that after the new century began, all I did was make additions to the earlier chapters, leaving the last one virtually untouched. Well, in November and December I finally got around to rewriting the chapter covering Recent Chinese history, making the updates it needed.

Here are the topics now covered in Chapter 7, China Since 1949:

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The Establishment of the People’s Republic

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The Great Leap Forward

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"Women Hold Up half of the Heavens"

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The Cultural Revolution

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The Lifting of the Bamboo Curtain

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After Mao

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Tragedy at Tiananmen

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The Rise of the Mainland Technocracy – New!

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China in the Twenty-First Century (so far) – New!

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Today’s China Syndrome – Updated!

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Taiwan: The Little Dragon – Updated!

To check it out, go to http://xenohistorian.faithweb.com/china/ch07.html

Also, it occurred to me last week that The Xenophile Historian has just come of age. A visitor told me he enjoyed the site’s 1990s Geocities-type look, and I said that gives away the website’s age, because it spent its first two years hosted on Geocities, and in the name of keeping the HTML code and everything else simple (and accessible to all browsers), I haven’t radically changed the style since then. You can read the whole story here.

Since I started working on the site as soon as I had Internet access and had taught myself HTML, in December 1997, that means the site is now 18 years old. Congratulations, we now have a new adult in the family! Actually, it seems like more than that; in Internet time, 18 years is well over a century, right? And over the years, I have put enough work in the site to call it “my other child.”

Happy New Year and keep on reading!

Windows 10–Don’t Make the Switch Yet

In a follow-up to last month’s news, my brother Chris found free cemetery space for both of our parents.  It turns out there is a fairly new (opened 2009) veteran’s cemetery in Jacksonville, Florida, the Jacksonville National Cemetery.  Because Dad was in the Navy during the Korean War years, it costs nothing to put Mom and Dad’s urns there.  Therefore last Friday, Chris took the urns to the cemetery, bringing the family closure on that issue.

The other reason why we settled on Jacksonville is location – both Chris and my daughter Lindy can get there in about three hours of driving.  In Kentucky there is a military cemetery about 25 miles south of us, called Camp Nelson, but most of the other burials there go back to the Civil War era, and it won’t be a convenient visit for anyone in my family, if Leive and I move out of Kentucky.

I have been looking forward to having a computer that runs Windows 10 because the PC I have now is five years old, and after all the updates it has taken for Windows 7, it is quite slow and cumbersome.  Therefore, I accepted the offer Microsoft announced a couple months ago for a free upgrade.  Last Sunday I received a message saying it was my turn to download Windows 10.  After letting my computer download and install updates for all of Sunday, it turned out the updates I got were for Windows 7, probably irrelevant.  Then the Windows 10 material came in on Monday.  So what did my computer get?

Well, so far the upgrade experience has turned out to be a waste of time. None of the new software can access the Internet, making the Store and the Edge browser useless. In addition it is incompatible with the old browser that still works (Opera), the new music player is ugly and buggy compared with Windows Media Player, the weather app insists that I am in Washington, DC, and so far I have found out that three of my programs no longer work.  One of them is the webpage editor that I have used since 1999, so to continue writing material for my websites, I’ll have to install and learn to use a new HTML editor.

The only advantage I have seen is that aside from a few required restarts, my computer no longer locks up or crashes.  Still, it may not be worth all the other trouble.  Last night I was up past 1 AM with technical support, trying to get the Internet connection problem fixed.  If I can’t solve this soon, I’m going back to Windows 7.  And if I need to buy a new computer this year, I’ll look for one that still has Windows 7 on it.

In Memory of Charles Burton Kimball

Chuck Kimball

June 3, 1933 – July 11, 2015

My father passed away around 6:20 AM Saturday.  The whole family knew it would happen soon, and we are relieved that his long time of suffering is finally ended.  Of course it still hurts, though.  May we meet again on the other side.

Mr. Kimball’s departure marks the end of an era for my family.  Except for a few uncles and aunts, the generations preceding Leive and I are now gone.  I will always be thankful for all that he did to help the rest of us (I don’t think I can list all the ways), for teaching his kids the difference between right and wrong, and directing us down the straight & narrow path.  We’ll also cherish the memories of fond times.  One comes to mind now:  when I was ten years old, he took me to Cape Canaveral so I could see the Apollo 11 rocket on the launching pad, one month before it went to the moon.

Currently we are planning to hold a memorial service here in Kentucky next Thursday, and since most of the people he knew are in central Florida, we’ll hold another service there at a later date (not yet specified).  My brother wrote the obituary that will be appearing this week in The Lexington Herald-Leader and The Orlando Sentinel.  I’ll share a draft of it here because it gives his life story in better words than I could write:

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Mr. Charles “Chuck” Kimball passed away on July 11, 2015 in Lexington, Kentucky, at the age of 82 after a long struggle with Parkinson’s Disease. He was a resident of Winter Park, Florida, for 46 years.

Mr. Kimball was born in Fair Lawn New Jersey, in 1933. Working at both a veterinarian and gas station in his youth, he developed both a love and care for animals, and a skill at auto repair; both of which he would practice his entire life. Upon graduating high school, he joined the Navy and served during the Korean War. Afterwards, he attended California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, California, where he met his wife Linda. He graduated with a degree in Aeronautical Engineering and was also the founding President of the Central California Chapter of the American Rocket Society, and made the front page of the Los Angeles Times by launching his own rocket before Sputnik was launched. He was a pioneer in US rockets and flight simulators, and an aerospace engineer for 43 years. He worked various jobs in rocket testing and design; aircraft and helicopter maintenance and training. He worked for Igor Sikorski and was responsible for the repair and maintenance of President Johnson’s fleet of ten helicopters. He also studied law at the University of Washington in Seattle.

In 1966 he moved Winter Park, Florida, and would work the next 30 years for the Naval Training and Equipment Center, retiring in 1997. He was in charge of procurement and design for aircraft training devices and flight simulators to train Navy, Marine, Air Force, and Army pilots. He built flight training devices for the US Navy all over the world, including the “Top Gun” Naval flight school in Miramar, California. He had a number of patents including the “Air Cushion Proprioceptive Motion System” of a flight simulator on an air motion system.

Chuck earned a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from Rollins College, which led him to be a founding partner in Micrad Electronics in Orlando in 1970, where he sold and repaired microwave ovens; one of the first to do so in the country at the time.

During many years, Chuck and his wife Linda volunteered at church and for numerous charitable organizations, and were loved and admired by many. Chuck was an officer for Wycliffe Associates’ Orlando Chapter, and a volunteer for Wycliffe Bible Translators. Chuck and Linda were last active at Community United Methodist Church in Casselberry through many of the community projects that the church did. Chuck’s declining health required much attention, so in 2012, he moved to Lexington, Kentucky, to be under the care of his son and daughter-in-law. He is survived by two sons, a daughter, a grand-daughter, and great-grand-daughter.

Chuck was fair and honest to all, and always kind. He would like to be remembered as a born-again spirit-filled Christian, who loved the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; a fine husband, father, & grandfather.

 

Holiday Recap

Since this is my first blog message for 2015, Happy New Year to everyone!

I’ve been off work since December 24; the office is closed from then until January 5, so I’m three-fourths of the way through an eleven-day vacation.  The office I worked at in Connecticut three years ago ran on the same schedule, but this time it’s a paid vacation, thank goodness, and I don’t have to drive more than 800 miles to spend Christmas and New Year’s Eve with my family.

From 12/23 to 12/30 my sister and her husband were in town visiting.  The main event was Christmas dinner; Leive outdid herself again by cooking a bunch of dishes (Philippine as well as traditional American), and we brought it all to the retirement home where my Dad is staying so he could participate.  Besides the five of us, our in-laws Gene and Rezia also showed up, and we had enough left over for Leive to give plates to three or four nurses who otherwise wouldn’t have enjoyed Christmas, because they were working that evening.  So overall the party was a success.

After that I came down with a mild cold; probably picked up from the retirement home, inasmuch as many of the residents had colds or flu.  It stayed with me for nearly a week; today is the first day I didn’t feel congested, so I should be all right when I go back to work.

Not that we went out much anyway, because it has been so cold.  For the last week of the year, the weather has been below freezing almost every night.  Still no snow yet for this winter, aside from short-lived flurries, but the temperature has gotten as low as 16 degrees.  When the New Year began, scarcely a sound was heard outside here in Kentucky; obviously it was too cold for anyone to play with fireworks.  How different it was from the 4th of July, or from New Year’s Eve when we lived in Florida!

That’s the way it is as 2015 begins here; now let’s see what 2015 will bring.

Joy in Town

A lot has been going on here since I last wrote, a couple of weeks ago.  Since then I have been doing the HTML coding for the final chapter of my Latin American history project, and I estimate I am just past the halfway mark on that, so it should be up on The Xenophile Historian by mid-November.  Nevertheless, I figured I should take a break from that to bring readers up to date on other events.

For Halloween, there were quite a few kids trick-or-treating in the neighborhood.  However, plenty of rain and two cold fronts made it so cold and wet, that they wore raincoats or carried umbrellas over their costumes.  When our parrot Brin-Brin heard them, he started growling, so Leive turned off the lights and pretended nobody was home.

Next, the first freeze of the season came a bit early.  The temperature dropped to 32 degrees Saturday morning, and 27 this morning.  Yesterday there were a few snowflakes, too.  And the amount of leaves in the road is incredible; on our street it looks like the rainstorm knocked at least half the leaves off the surrounding trees.

The biggest news is that Leive’s half-brother, Joy Bendoy, came to visit (hence the title).  Leive hasn’t seen him in at least thirty years; he wasn’t at our wedding, for instance.  Like most of Leive’s family, he is a pastor in the Philippines, and was touring the United States on a fund-raising trip for his ministry, when Leive’s niece Rezia invited him here.  He was here from October 22 to 26, and stayed with Gene and Rezia most of the time, but we had dinner with him in Leive’s favorite Chinese place on the 23rd, spoke for an hour at our church on the 25th, and finally spent the afternoon at our house on the 26th.  Here’s a picture Rezia took of him, at the Lexington Convention Center.

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And here is Joy with Leive in our basement:

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Finally, last week my brother solved a mystery in the family that is almost 60 years old.  While I knew my mother’s parents well, I never met my paternal grandparents.  My father’s father died of tuberculosis back in 1940, while his mother remarried and disappeared in 1955; both events happened long before I was born.  None of us ever heard from our grandmother again; I don’t think she even attended my parents’ wedding.  Well, my brother has gotten good at finding genealogical records, and he obtained our grandmother’s (re)marriage certificate; it turns out they moved to Gulfport, Mississippi.  There’s another surprise; I didn’t know I had any relatives in that state!  Then following the assumption that they spent the rest of their lives there, he tracked down their obituaries and death certificates.  It turns out the grandmother I never knew succumbed to lung cancer in 1968, and her husband passed away shortly after that, in 1969.  Finally, to end the story, they are buried in unmarked graves, in a country cemetery just north of Biloxi.  Well, you never know what you’ll find when you uncover your roots.

Summer, Canadian Style

The last five days, Tuesday through Saturday, were unusually cool.  A cold front passed through on Monday the 14th, bringing some needed rain (there had not been any rain for the previous two weeks), and then after that came the chillier days.  Temperatures each day got up into the 70s (only 72 degrees on Thursday), and at night they went down in the 50s a couple of times.  I can’t remember another time when I experienced a July that felt like a May or September; somebody on the radio called it a Canadian-style summer.  We even slept with the windows open for at least half the time.  Today it finally reached the low 80s again, and we’re supposed to go back to the usual summertime 90s tomorrow.

The cool snap was well-timed for us, too, because we had three guests in the house last week.  My brother Chris came up from Florida last Sunday and stayed with us until Saturday morning.  Then on Wednesday Leive’s cousin Sonny and his wife Mencie stopped here, on their way to Michigan, and spent two nights here so they could see both of us (I was in bed when they arrived).  They are supposed to come by again tomorrow, on their way back to Georgia.

In other news there has been a virus infection on my computer for the past week and a half; only today can I declare the last of the viruses gone. And since I last wrote here there have been two birthdays in the family, Leive and Brin-Brin.  Or maybe in Brin-Brin’s case I should call it an anniversary.  Last Tuesday marked seven years since we got Brin-Brin from a bird show in Bardstown, KY.  It’s hard to believe it has been that many years, though parrots do have quite a long lifespan.  It also means he is eighteen years old, but he still acts more like a kid than an adult.  We were amused to find he liked Mencie while the folks were here, and let her carry him around the house.  Well, Brin-Brin always had a thing for Asian women, except for Leive’s niece Rezia, who married his worst enemy.  Maybe I will share the pictures of Brin-Brin and Mencie here, if I can get copies of them.

Tomorrow marks three months since I started the job in Richmond.  Boy, where did all the time go?

I’ve Been at the New Job for Six Whole Weeks

Hello.  The first and foremost purpose of this message is to let all my readers know that Charles Kimball is alive and well.  I can’t believe that over the whole past month I only posted one message, and it wasn’t a very important one.  That is my longest absence in the seven years since this blog started.

The main reason is my work schedule.  From Monday through Thursday I am working a ten-hour day at my new job, so when I get home I am usually too busy doing other things, like eating and sleeping, to write anything here.  On the job it’s so far, so good, but I still have a lot to learn, even after six weeks; I am not considered to be completely out of training yet.  I’m off the other three days of the week (more when there is a holiday), but it turns out I’m often busy then, too, or I just can’t think of anything to blog about.  Oh well, my gain is your loss.

When I have been on my computer at home, I have also been working on the next and final chapter of my Latin American history series.  Since the end of March I have completed the sections on Costa Rica, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Panama, Paraguay and Venezuela, and have composed bits and pieces on the other countries.  It looks like I will be tackling Nicaragua next.  My goal is to complete the chapter by the end of this year.  For those of you looking forward to the latest chapter, I hope you will find it was worth the wait.

Here in Kentucky, the main news last week was the discovery that $20 million disappeared mysteriously from the local school budget, and for the first time, both the men’ and women’s softball teams from the University of Kentucky made it to the college world series.  College baseball is a sport that normally doesn’t get as much attention as basketball and football, maybe because the season is shorter.  We’ll see if that changes for Kentucky now.  Way to go, ‘Cats!

For most of May the weather was fairly typical for Kentucky.  Wet enough for Leive and I to watch for leaks in the house, and the outside temperature is just right most of the time.  In the middle of May we had a cold snap where it got all the way down to 38 degrees for two mornings, but that was very unusual.

On Sunday, May 19, my aunt and uncle from Chicago dropped in for a visit.  They came mainly to visit my father in the retirement home where he is now staying, two miles from our house.  They spent most of the following afternoon and evening with him, celebrating his birthday early.

Since Wednesday, my in-laws, Gene and Rezia King, have been staying in our basement.  They are remodeling their own house, and with the floor stripped up and foul-smelling chemicals in the air, the place isn’t a fit dwelling place for the time being, so we took them in.  I think Gene will be moving back into their house tonight (he isn’t here now, anyway).  Rezia is still here, happily cooking and chatting in Cebuano with Leive.

The most amazing thing is that our parrot Brin-Brin is friends with Rezia again, for the first time in nearly seven years.  He took it hard when she married his worst enemy (Gene), and after that, she could come over alone, and he would still go to the bottom of the cage and cry, as if he expected Gene to show up with her!  What a silly bird!  Well, Rezia sang to Brin-Brin the other day, and music appears to be what he wants the most from people.  Now he’s all right with Rezia hanging around, at least when Leive is in sight, too.  He still hasn’t accepted Gene yet, but we all expected that to be a bigger challenge.

A Wet Derby Week (So Far)

Yes, next Saturday is the 140th annual Kentucky Derby, and as they do every year, the state’s radio and TV stations are building the hype for it.  So are the stores that sell Derby-related items, like flowery hats and Derby pies.

Well, I hope the track can dry out during the next three days.  We’ve been getting rain here almost constantly since Monday; more than three inches so far.  Previously this month was running an inch on the dry side, as Aprils go; now we’ve got at least a two-inch surplus on the rainfall.  Fortunately it wasn’t worse, and it easily could have been; this is part of the same storm system that dropped tornadoes on Arkansas and Mississippi, and twenty inches of rain on Pensacola, FL.

Besides storms, for the past few months our house has been under attack from telemarketers.  We have gotten as many as fourteen calls per day from those annoying scammers.  I know they’re not honest because they don’t comply with the law; they keep calling though we are on the Do Not Call list, use illegal recorded messages and mask which numbers they are really calling from.  And the calls also make my parrot scream – we want to preserve what little sanity Brin-Brin has left!

In March I tried to bring my phone service provider into the game, by blocking numbers I know are telemarketers and those that don’t show up on the caller ID.  No such luck.  They only allowed me to block twelve numbers (I have counted more than a hundred that they are calling from), and the unknown call blocker service didn’t work.  A stronger pesticide was in order, so last Sunday I ordered a call blocker device from Amazon called Sentry.  It arrived on Tuesday, so I set it up that evening; today was the first full day it was operational.  Only two calls came in to our land line today; one was me calling Leive from work, the other was an obvious telemarketer (518-417-1194), but the point is that because the latter wasn’t approved to call us, Leive didn’t hear the phone ring.

The next time you call our house, you will hear a voice with an English accent (our phone butler!) telling you to push “0” if you are a legitimate caller.  If you do, your number shows up on my caller ID, and I can add it to a whitelist or blacklist.  If I accept it, you can call me normally after that; those numbers I blacklist won’t show up anymore.  So far I think it works, but if it doesn’t you can still reach us on our cell phones.

 

Click on the picture to check it out if you’re having the same problem with unwanted calls.

Spring Is Back, and A New Beginning

We had a close call last week with the cold weather.  On Tuesday morning it got down to freezing and we had some snow in the morning.  The pictures below show how white it got, with flowers in the pear trees and snow on the ground:

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Fortunately the snow quickly melted; I believe that’s why the plants did not suffer much damage.  Then on Wednesday morning the temperature was 27 degrees F. – maybe even colder – but no snow or sleet fell.  Again it did not kill the blossoms outside.  I guess when temperatures are in the low 30s or upper 20s you need both cold and ice/snow to do real damage to the plants.

Since then it has felt more like spring, with highs getting up around 80 both today and yesterday.  Today another aspect of spring began for us; I mowed the front yard for the first time this year.

Speaking of beginnings, this is the final day of the two-year unemployment I called “The Long Night” in a recent message.  In eight hours I will be on my way to the first day of my new job.  Wish me well.  According to the company website, this is “The Best Work of Your Life.”  After this dry spell, and with me not getting any younger, I sincerely hope they’re right.  I’ll have to go to bed soon, so see you later.