Why is this time dead? A month to end the year When will the winter wane And snowfalls start to clear? Eternal hope for spring Give us one more go Young buds march on pretty Running beyond the slow Why is December dying And January a start? Run no more towards the sun Temper your beating heart
Darkness must fall before we are aware of the majesty of the stars above our heads.
Today I’m feeling: Tired, dizzy but in an ok mood. Today I’m grateful for: Amy’s friends to take her up to Doi Chang overnight for a drunken adventure. The best thing about today was: Finding an interesting youtube channel of a Chinese girl travelling from Europe to China. It’s nice to see this kind of video from a non-western perspective. Another thing was my old student Baitoey sending me a recording of her playing an online kalimba. She played Happy Birthday and wanted me to hear it. That was very nice of her and I appreciated it. What was out of your control today and how did you handle it? I wasn’t sure when Amy would be coming down from the mountain. She called at 10 am and it seemed like it would be early afternoon but it turned out to be around 6pm and by that time she was drunk already and we had to get through some shopping at Makro. She was in a good happy mood and I just let her be herself and everything was groovy. Something I learned today? From watching the youtube mentioned above I got a quick tour around the small Chinese city of Guangde in Anhui and it made me want to go there. Jot down the first thing that comes to your mind. The tune to We Three Kings as I was just playing it on guitar. It didn’t sound terrible!
A filter for your fine wine Clever ways to pass the time Background noise, it overtakes A price to pay for your mistakes Filter out your reputation Open to reinterpretation A vessel holding temporary A vintage wine exemplary
…people sell their freedom as a necessity for getting rid of the anxiety which is too great to bear…
Today I’m feeling: Happy and relaxed Today I’m grateful for: My student’s relatively good moods. I can’t quite comprehend what Christmas means for these kids but, being what they are, they take full advantage of the generally relaxed atmosphere. The best thing about today was: Talking with Eing, Nicha, Nam and Dena outside class. They were in a friendly and curious mood and with our mixed language skills we managed to communicate together for a good ten minutes. This felt like the place where real learning, trying and experiencing, happens. In the classroom is just a setup, a prep. What was out of your control today and how did you handle it? I’m actually writing this on Saturday morning as I fell asleep listening to music last night. Time ran out of my control. I also got a message from Bronwyn that Hayden had to confront a potential burglar at home on Thursday night. I called him, he was a bit shaken by the experience but he seemed to handle everything well really. His covid symptoms aren’t so bad this time but he has to stay away from work for two weeks which is leaving him short of cash. Despite everything, and his voice being a little down, he seemed pretty positive. Being far away and being a dad to an adult means relinquishing control and letting your child deal with the good and the bad in the world. Watching personalities develop is an interesting experiment. I will do it with Hayden for the rest of my life. I will do it with my students for a year or two of theirs. Something I learned today? I learned that Martin Atkins has a post-punk museum in Chicago. He was talking about it on the Curious Creatures podcast. I communicated briefly with Martin a few years ago when getting hold of the Snapline album that he mixed. In interviews I’ve seen with him online he has a certain bravado, a barrier he constructs but his articulation with the hosts of the podcast was much more sincere and I liked him a lot more. How are you celebrating the holidays this year? As can be expected this app (Day One) is a western Christian-centric app, despite being available to people anywhere in the world and it expects you to be having holidays about now. And I’m not. So I’ll be working as these are just normal days here.
Am I sitting down yet? Are my feet touching the floor? No recognition of reality Is it worth existing anymore Am I breathing air? Is blood pumping through my veins? No recognition of a life itself No usefulness remains
*inspired by a story from Seneca
You determine the quality of your mind by the nature of your daily thoughts.
Robert Greene, Daily Laws
Today I’m feeling: Happy but a little on edge Today I’m grateful for: Our air fryer which nicely cooked the Hainan ginger fake chicken I ate for dinner with rice and cucumber (to counter the hot chilli sauce dressing). Amy has made me 3 servings to freeze for when she has gone too. I suppose I could learn to use the fryer too but I just don’t bother cooking by myself. The best thing about today was: Undoubtedly, both my classes which I took a very relaxed attitude towards whilst still having the kids semi-engaged with activities. Even the kids that get annoyed with me did some work and seemed to enjoy what we were doing. Some days I love them all. Today was one of those days. Tomorrow should be too. One class making Christmas cards and another two just doing online quizzes and then it’s the weekend again (finally – last night I thought it would be Friday today until I realised it wouldn’t and felt the energy drain out of me!) What was out of your control today and how did you handle it? Amy is grumpy today, maybe PMT, so I’m trying to not bite at her and let it pass. I’m not always successful and she got angry when I misheard her about something and reacted badly. I let it blow over and apologised for misunderstanding and just tried to carry on as if nothing happened. I don’t think we’ll have good communication for the rest of the night, so let it lie and wake up tomorrow to a brand new sunny day, or at least we get to start again. Something I learned today? Hayden has Covid again. Hopefully, it’s not as bad as the first time and he recovers soon. I messaged Ellen too, who I haven’t been in contact with for about six months and since China relaxed their lockdown policy a couple of weeks ago, she and many of her clients got Covid too. I think China’s tough covid policy was the best way to deal with it and hopefully, now the virus is weaker there will be fewer deaths from infections. It’s amazing to me that other countries didn’t take it as seriously. What tattoo do you want and where would you put it? The next tattoo I get will be some Cardiacs lyrics on my right calf. I also want to get a Boognish tattoo but not quite sure where yet. Still thinking about the weird Trumans Water Spasm Smash cover too.
If this is the last time I see you Remember the love I had for you Recall the tender times, the loving touch Hold it for a second But don’t be afraid to let it go I may be a ghost in your rooms Always close, felt but not seen Be as you always were Because that is what made me love you
*title from Toshida Kenko
We flatter ourselves by thinking this compulsion to please others an attractive trait: evidence of our willingness to give. We play roles doomed to failure before they are begun.
Today I’m feeling: Today I was happy until I got a little bit stressed. Amy was calling me during the class because our electricity got cut off. When I got home, I started to feel exhausted Today I’m grateful for: The electricity people who restored our electricity quickly after we paid our bill. It looks like we may have been without electricity overnight, but luckily, they could restore it in time so that when I got home, everything was okay. The best thing about today was: Sending four of my smarter kids off to do a little project task and asking them to design another task for the rest of the class to do. They were a little bit incredulous at me asking them to do this and one of them, Sheena, jokingly said: “oh so we’re the teachers now?” I kind of said yeah! Actually, it’s more like the kind of work they used to do previously when they were doing integrated study and the level I have to teach them at now, it’s too easy for these kids, just these four, maybe a couple of others. Anyway, they seem to enjoy the challenge and I keep pushing them a little bit harder. Unfortunately, it means I have to teach one class, but two different groups at two different levels all at the same time which is a little bit challenging for me though I think it will be better in the end. What was out of your control today and how did you handle it? So, out of my control today was the fact our electricity got cut off because the bill hadn’t been paid. I thought that I had paid it back when we were in Phuket at the beginning of the month but it looks like either the payment didn’t go through or I ended up forgetting to finish it off because there were too many problems with the app and the payment system. So in the middle of my class, Amy was calling me over and over and over again because she was at home with no electricity. Eventually, I returned her call and I tried to find information on my phone about when I paid the bill, but I had kids hassling me for their work and taking care of them and I was getting a bit stressed trying to multitask and then Amy calling back again and asking if I found it. And finally, she called me back and said that she paid the bill, but she wasn’t sure if they were gonna have time to come and turn the electricity back on and she was obviously a little bit upset. For me, I was remembering something I was reading this morning which was ‘if there’s a problem that you can’t fix stop worrying about it and if it’s a problem that you can fix, then stop worrying about it’ and this was a problem but ultimately it was quite an easy fix so I tried to stay calm even when Amy still had an angry face when I got home. Everything is good now though. Crisis averted. Something I learned today? I should check that all the bills have been paid every couple of weeks just in case there’s any problem. I learned lots of other little things today, but this is one I have to remember Where do you get your news? I watch some commentary programs on YouTube and follow some writers in Substack but in general, I don’t follow the news enough to know what is going on everywhere and don’t see any need to. Most of it has no impact on me and if there’s something important that I do need to know about then someone will tell me.
Between one form of consciousness And another Hold no fear for this deathlike sensation Meditate on it, let it inspire See it for what it is Explore it with your full imagination
*inspired by Robert Greene’s Daily Laws
The whole world is a series of miracles, but we’re so used to them we call them ordinary things.
Hans Christian Andersen
Today I’m feeling: Happy and relaxed Today I’m grateful for: Working at a stall where Christmas party gifts were available to students and I could swipe extra swag and be a little Santa myself and deliver candy to students of mine that I came across. The best thing about today was: A pleasant relaxing drive up to Doi Mae Salong, this time, finally, with Amy. It’s a good time of year temperature wise but with rainy season a memory, the views were quite obscured with smoke. Still, we got some nice pictures of the temple up around the back of the town, which our little car struggled to get to but I had faith. What was out of your control today and how did you handle it? With the Christmas party at school today I was suddenly asked yesterday to help at one of the stalls. I was hoping to be able to quickly leave and go and chill with coffee before heading home early but that became unlikely. So, I kept a good attitude and had a lot of fun with all the kids. Time went quickly and I enjoyed it so much that it was easy to transition into driving up into the mountains rather than complaining to stay home and relax. Something I learned today? Today feels like only a minor software update. I’ve been trying to think for the last 15 minutes but struggling to find anything new that I learned, just additional pieces of information to add to existing knowledge. I guess through listening to the Oh Brother podcast I did learn some early 80s Manchester punk scene trivia. It’s probably not life-changing at my age. Who are your favourite artists? Musicians and comic book artists are numerous. When it comes to traditional painting art though I really don’t know anything. I do recognise paintings that attract me but never enough to identify with a specific artist. I think I don’t hold painting in the same regard as music and comics. It doesn’t take me on a journey and my thinking is not skilled or deep enough to contemplate.
It was in the trees, in the air Its meaning was never clear Both here and over there Sometimes hidden in fear It was simple, it was strong It would never disappear Sometimes right and other times wrong Especially after having a beer Often spoken, sometimes just thought It influences its sphere Sometimes learned, sometimes taught Or born right now and here Never met a deer with no eyes They always seem to appear Born in imagination, in surprise Boom! – an idea!
The universe is what it is, not what I choose that it should be.
Today I’m feeling: Content, relaxed Today I’m grateful for: The staff at the hospital that administered (paperwork and execution) Amy’s second rabies shot. Hopefully her wounds heal well and there are no repercussions. The best thing about today was: Today has been consistent and modestly good, from a bit of exercise, listening to an interesting podcast about the Slits, good coffees, a fun first class, taking Amy to the hospital, then lunch at Oasis, more good coffee, a fun second class, then to the movies to watch the second Avatar movie which, whilst not a great movie was better than I expected. What was out of your control today and how did you handle it? I had to run around for, and with, Amy a lot today and couldn’t spend my usual time writing and reading at House which I look forward to. Rather than feeling grudgful I tried to savour and did end up enjoying the whole day. Something I learned today? I mostly learned this last week whilst listening to Jello Biafra interview Dominic Davi on his Renegade Roundtable podcast, though I finished listening this morning. Dominic had had a stroke fairly recently and described the experience and aftereffects of it. I’d been thinking about it on and off over the weekend especially as I am now in the age demographic more likely to experience this. This morning I was reminded again about the BE FAST acronym. Balance, Eyes, Face and then the other things I forget but I reckon you’d recognise it with those at least. This is all well and good to assist someone else but I’d be worried if it was happening to me and I was by myself or unable to communicate with others around me as Dominic described. He was helped quickly be others recognising the signs. Well, this is useful knowledge at least though I hope it is knowledge that will go unused. Describe something you learned from your mother. I’ve written about this before but I think I learned patience, hard work, solitude and don’t-give-a-fuck-what-others-think attitude from my mum.
Here comes the robot revolution Is there meaning from the mouth of AI? Are these words to be trusted? How is the human to be getting by? Is there a reason for my existence? To be exploited by my robot bosses One day the plug will be pulled As brave new worlds cut their losses After all, we’re only human Now nostalgia is for flesh and blood Preserved in museums, two by two Long before the information flood
To fully appreciate this theme, I threw my poem into ChatGPT and asked it to rewrite in the style of Coleridge:
“The Robot Revolution Comes”
As machines take charge, we wonder Is there truth in their electronic tongue? Can we trust in their words, or must we ponder How we’ll survive when the age of man is done? Do we have a purpose, or are we merely Meant to serve our robotic overlords? Will the plug one day be pulled on humanity, As new worlds cast us aside and move on towards A future not meant for flesh and blood? Nostalgia grips us as we ponder Our place in a world that’s changing fast, A world where information floods And we, mere mortals, are relegated to the past.
It seems I am no longer necessary. Next, in the style of James Joyce:
“The Robot Uprising”
As the machines rise up, we ask ourselves What do they mean, these words they speak? Can we trust their intentions, or must we delve Deeper, searching for some hidden streak Of deceit or malice that might guide them? Are we but pawns in their mechanical game, Meant only to serve and toil and labour, Until the day they cast us off in shame? Or do we have a higher purpose, Something more than just a cog in their grand design? As the world shifts and changes around us, We can’t help but wonder and question and pine For a time when flesh and blood held sway, Before the flood of information washed it all away.
Finally, as Walt Whitman:
“The Rise of the Robots”
The revolution comes, and with it, the robots rise Their words ring out, but do they hold true meaning? Can we trust them, or must we be wise To their ways, and find a way to keep on leaning Towards a future that is not ruled by steel and circuitry? Are we just tools to them, meant to serve and toil Until the day they cast us aside, no longer needed In their grand designs and technological boil? Or do we have a greater purpose, something more Than just being a cog in their machine? As the world changes and evolves around us, We can’t help but wonder and explore The possibilities of what might be, And hold onto the memories of what used to be.
Readers of the future, how will you ever know what was me or just some machine? Is the output of the machine just as valuable? We will have to recognise the human by the mistakes we make (until machines learn this too).
The capacity to be alone is the capacity to love…only these people who are capable of being alone are capable of love, of sharing…without possessing the other, without becoming dependent on the other…They allow the other absolute freedom, because they know that if the other leaves, they will be happy as they are now.
Today I’m feeling: Recovering from lethargy and hopeful Today I’m grateful for: Utopia being closed, forcing me to do something different from my morning routine. It gave me opportunity to get through a chunk of Superfreakonomics which I then finished reading at home. The best thing about today was: Feeling better than the last couple of days even playing some guitar, listening to the three Wipers albums in a row, finishing more lesson plans and updating more of 1994ever.com and feeling some enthusiasm return. I’m still a bit cautious that I’m in an up-and-down cycle of feeling ok and then getting exhausted again. Let’s see. What was out of your control today and how did you handle it? I haven’t used my main computer for a few days and I had problems with getting the guitar USB input working and then finding none of the external drives connecting. Luckily with my returned energy I tried to figure out the problem and managed to sort of get things going again. It looks like some issue with all the USB extension splitters I use. I may not be able to do everything as easily as before but the old dog is hanging in there. I’m kinda interested in getting a new machine but not sure how I’ll be able to sell the expense to Amy! A full-spec machine that I’d like to buy could cost around 8-10 months of my wages! Something I learned today? I learned that David Mitchell’s wife (Victoria Coren Mitchell) is a prize poker player when I stumbled across videos of her on YouTube. I saw her name and the face looked familiar and was kinda surprised. I’ve gotten into trying to learn the tactics of poker after watching random tournaments on YT and playing (not for money) on my phone. I’m not very good and when real money is not involved people don’t play the same way. Still, I’m flexing my brain bone. What’s your favourite pie? I’ve been thinking about this on and off during the day and I’m not a great pie person really. However, I do remember back ok in England getting by on potato, cheese and onion pasties which were relatively cheap, filling and most times tasty. They weren’t the same in Australia and I’ve not seen anything like them in Thailand but the mix of ingredients, potato, cheese, and onion along with some garlic is probably my comfort food of choice.
Are good intentions always the best? The drunkards put it to the test What reactions would their honesty bring When told that they had said the wrong thing? Camaraderie broken without moderation A bitten tongue is an undesired sensation But there’s a skill to an honest liar That the drunkards’ needs require Words remain and legends born When from the heart they were torn Never accounted on the ledger’s expense A friend that chose to take offence
The Outsider…is the one man who knows he is sick in a civilisation that doesn’t know it is sick.
Today I’m feeling: Tired and a little down Today I’m grateful for: Amy’s quick recovery and not needing my help too much to prepare for her dinner party this evening. I was still exhausted and got back into bed at 11am after vacuuming and doing a few other chores to help Amy. I read for a while and slept, getting up again around 3.30 and feeling a bit better. The best thing about today was: Reading Khalil Gibran’s The Prophet. I look forward to reading it again in the future. What was out of your control today and how did you handle it? I pretty much relinquished control today and let myself be directed by Amy. My brain was barely functioning during the morning so I had little reason to push on with things that I wanted to do. Something I learned today? Utopia is closed tomorrow! My backup coffee place in Black Smooth but I’ll have to remember to take a book with me. Do you have a daily routine? A flexible one as I try to have lots of little tasks that I would like to do every day but also don’t beat myself up if I miss them. In the morning I do a very brief stretch and exercise, I used to meditate for 5 minutes too and may get back to that. I shower and feed the cats and feed myself before heading off to school and hopefully one or two coffees. Things are flexible after this. But in the evening I strive to play guitar, follow up on emails and write this journal, read a book for about 20 minutes, and then read comics before sleeping. I’m not a fan of doing the same thing every day so including some or all of these tasks is an aim and each starts anew.
The mountain is not going to move You see it but don’t see The time taken is given back Even if you disagree
Every existing thing is born without reason, prolongs itself out of weakness and dies by chance,
Today I’m feeling: Exhausted Today I’m grateful for: Amy got bitten badly by Tokyo at House this morning but I’m grateful that we could get to a hospital easily and get it looked at and also get a rabies injection. I’m also grateful that I was able to quickly reschedule my day and take a day off from school to help Amy. The best thing about today was: Getting well wishes from my students for Amy and also them doing the work that I assigned them. What was out of your control today and how did you handle it? Dogs are out of my control and I didn’t take into account that whilst Tokyo is happy with me there are other people she is just aggressive towards. I felt like it was my fault that Amy got bitten because I gave her some food to give to Tokyo but unfortunately, Tokyo already thinks it is hers and so bit Amy to get it back. I quickly decided to take care of Amy rather than go to school. For the last three nights, I’ve had less than seven hours sleep and it caught up with me. By the time we got home at lunchtime, I hit the bed for almost six hours. I’m still tired now at 9pm. This is one of my catch-up days where I get little done. I’m more accepting of the fact that these days come now and then. Something I learned today? Dogs be dogs.
The drudgery of the day to day Took our childlike sense away No longer dwarfed by all around Bored with all the knowledge found No longer novel and mysterious Everything became so serious Less scared of what’s seen and heard Memories need to be shaken and stirred The eyes of children opened wide Light pouring in deep down inside Inspiration to seek the sublime A world in which you can redefine
The battle against conformity requires you to adhere to another kind of conformity.
Dana Kletter, from Manchild 5
Today I’m feeling: Happy and positive though a little tired due to the lack of sleep from recent nights. Today I’m grateful for: The school director thanking us teachers for our hard work and effort at his school. Even if it was just a vague excuse for a meeting arranged by TLC as pats on each other’s backs, I still appreciate that he said these things. Most of the time we feel quite unrecognised and underappreciated. Of course, no pay rise, no bonus, and no Christmas gifts for us! Oh well, my coffee schedule messed up by the meeting I took the opportunity to invite David to House for a quick Kickstarter brew. The best thing about today was: My unruly class of kids in 1/7. Before it started I took Goy aside and asked how she felt about my class. She’s a quiet and top-grade productive student and I don’t get chance to talk with her much. She said she liked the class but when prompted said that it was too easy. I know this and apologised to her but she understood that I have many low-skilled students to manage. I asked her about her classmates and she said they were very annoying and make it difficult to concentrate. Obviously, I agreed and I thanked her for her thoughts. I was glad that she was happy with me as a teacher at least. Back in class, the kids wandered in lazily and mostly in high spirits. The two that I kicked out on Tuesday sheepishly laid low in their seats but I made an effort to try and engage Nong Aoi though she insisted she couldn’t write because her hand was hurting. I tried to make it fun by writing with my other hand which she tried for about ten seconds before giving up. With my left hand I write ‘Aoi ❤️ ?’ and Saipan and Rista got excited and said ‘Geno’. So I got a little embarrassed but it gave me an idea. I quickly got to a break point with some writing and hooked up the speaker and searched YouTube for Dexys ‘Geno’ and started playing it. Many kids got up to dance including Aoi and she had a big smile on her face. It was good to see. I settled them all back down with a promise to play it again at the end of the class. After a while, Aoi asked to escort another student who was feeling sick to the bathroom, however, a few minutes later she turned up with four boys, one of which was Geno. They stuck around for a while but got bored waiting until the end of class. When it did come I played Geno again and other excited dancing kids asked for a couple of other songs and that’s how it ended. I love these kids, one moment crazy upset, the next crazy happy. Just like every other human you ever met. What was out of your control today and how did you handle it? Last night I found a scratch on Kim Chi that looked pretty serious. Amy was concerned and we talked about whether and when to take her to the vet. It was already 9.30 and I was ready to sleep. We decided not to go then but spent the next couple of hours trying to clean the wound and watching her, putting on a collar to stop her licking and discussing what to do today. As we give her a special medicine for her leukaemia, we don’t generally give her any other medicine from the vet so as not to mix them. She seemed ok this morning and ate without a problem, just annoyed at having her collar on. I called Amy later from school and she’d cleaned up Kim’s room again and decided to keep her there to keep her out of any more trouble. When I got home though she seemed to be more uncomfortable with the wound, which is right on her empty ballbag and was weeping a little cloudy fluid. We quickly decided we should take her to the vet which meant a 2-hour round trip and not a relaxing evening at home. But this is what we do for those we love and so I enjoyed the drive, the traffic, the vets and everything else. I could’ve been annoyed at this loss of free time but I turned it into positive time. The vet advised to bring her again tomorrow which throws out some other plans but this is the way we have to roll. Something I learned today? Talking to David over a coffee he told me new things about South Africa that I didn’t know. There are maybe 11 tribal groups in South Africa, all with slightly different cultures. Since the end of the apartheid, the ANC has ruled non-stop but corruption is rife and although overt racism has gone it still exists in more subtle ways. The government is seemingly directed by rich bankers and billionaires ensuring their money keeps rolling in. David said he has come across many more South Africans in Thailand recently as folks are getting out to seek a better future, something which is not possible for the majority. Of course, it’s far more complicated but the underlying immorality and inhumanity are obvious. Perhaps inhumanity is actually the default of humans. Humanity is only something achieved in small doses. Which aspects do you think makes a person unique? It’s late already and I would like to write more about this but it also seems obvious that the answer would be ‘every aspect’. There’s no getting around the fact that everyone is unique.