A Pink Code – 21st February 2023

From orange to red, we’re ready
To march off into four-cornered war
Fortunes hold battle lines steady
When it’s forgotten what we’re fighting for
And twenty years of resistance
Have been unable to remove the stink
Yet perhaps with a little more insistence
Peace may be found with CODEPINK

Today I’m feeling:
Content. Happy that I have the afternoon free from classes.
Today I’m grateful for:
Lachlan and Mike for sending me the lost package replacement of the HCT album release from last year though they unfortunately also sent me vinyl instead of the t-shirt I ordered.
The best thing about today was:
Going to Daytripper and learning a new card game with some of the students there. The game is called Keng (I think) and after getting a quick understanding of the rules I played a few hands before I had to go and could see there was a deeper strategy involved. I’ll play again if I see those kids there again. I’ve seen them there before but today was the first time I’ve been introduced.
What was out of your control today and how did you handle it?
Struggling to think of anything, except my students as per usual but even that didn’t bother me today.
Something I learned today?
From listening to Jello Biafra’s podcast I learned a little about Ukrainian history and if I remember correctly Ukraine is where the original Russians are from, something about Vikings moving down from the north. I also put 2 and 2 together about the connection between Russia and the ‘rus’ in Belarus though I think I might’ve acquired that knowledge many years ago and since forgotten. Whilst listening and considering these things it makes one wonder why we’re fighting over arbitrary borders that have changed over the years. One of the interviewee’s stories was about a family member who had lived in three different countries without ever moving house!
What are some of my favourite memories from past travels?
The extreme dry heat in Rhodes, the smell of a new world, swimming at the pool, riding around the island on a motorbike, getting naked at the pebble beach, the broken bottle of ouzo in my luggage on return.
Landing in Sydney for the first time, the smell of lemon scented gums, riding on highways wider than I’d ever seen, through so much beautiful scrubland, mountains and rivers.
Landing in Guangzhou, China, clueless; again, the smell of a new world, wandering around the Forbidden City in Beijing and a ruined part of the Great Wall in the countryside, the food! The food! So many different places around China and crazy stories. One day maybe, they’ll be written down before forgotten.
The temples in Kyoto, the flashing neon of Osaka and Tokyo, the food! Beautiful walks in Nikko and the onsen in Minikami.
The crazy car ride from the airport in Kuala Lumpur with Epit, meeting up with Lex at Batu Caves, the start of a great friendship with Kimi and staying in his many residences over the years, the food, the monkies, the waterfalls, the monitor lizards.
In Thailand, the rice paddies, the valleys, the waterfalls, the beaches, the food!

I took this picture because my routine doesn’t vary that much and I’m here again at Daytripper though this time at a different table than usual. The temperature is cool due to the haze though it doesn’t seem to be from smoke or at least not the usual lethal smoke.

This Is Your Fuel – 20th February 2023

Suck up all the art
Fill yourself with beauty
Become a state of being
Admit yourself this duty
We need you here
You’re needed now
Your inquisition
Inspires somehow

Within enrichment’s search
Potential will be realised
Corrosive forces negated
Leaves creatives satisfied
This is your art
Your appreciation
Forever fuelling
Fires of inspiration

Today I’m feeling:
Surprisingly ok despite a lack of sleep last night.
Today I’m grateful for:
The traditional Thai brooms that I used this afternoon to sweep leaves off our paths and terrace. I’ve grown to like them over time. I used the prefer a hard sweeping brush but that wouldn’t be so useful for these leaves.
The best thing about today was:
Finishing my first class with about 30 minutes spare so I let the kids go and some invited me to play volleyball with them. Later some of my students from my second class seemed in a jovial mood and happy to come to my lesson when usually they have other things on their minds. Both classes were quite raucous but I was able to eventually guide them through and maybe even one or two of them actually learned something.
What was out of your control today and how did you handle it?
I’m still playing catch up on household chores and want to vacuum and mop the floors but I can’t get everything done. Or perhaps I’m just a little too lazy to knock it all off in one night. Tomorrow afternoon I’ll have some extra time but I’m already thinking to go to Daytripper and chilling there! When I’m thinking about things getting out of my control for this question I’m usually focused on emotional control and in general that has been quite stable recently.
Something I learned today?
I found out about a group of women called Codepink who have been protesting in the US against the war in Ukraine and against the sabre rattling and machinations of the war machine towards China. Good on them. Now they need to get the rest of the American people on board to convince their government against further escalations.
What am I thinking about right now?
The smell of cat pee! My students. Cat pee. Making the bed. Washing my hands. A snack? The smell. My own pee. My aching back. Today’s journal entries. A whole lot of thoughts about nothing in particular. My version of ignorance is bliss.

I took this picture because I’ve had to cover my mattress with Snake Brand Prickly Heat Cooling Powder in an attempt to cover up the smell of cat pee. I’m not sure how well it’s going to work or what side effects I might experience once laid down in bed.

Red Skies – 19th February 2023

As the book opens, princesses are yawning
Dead-eyed dogs trudge homeward
Bamboo whistles in the wind
Lulling all with the promise of reprieve
Here at the edges of time
The world diverges for those to clash
Mad deviations keep the wheels greased
For those dogs forever fighting
The red sky denied, turns blue
Filled with the joyful and forlorn
Intermissions inspire reflection
About the dogs that stalk the dark

Today I’m feeling:
Happy and better than yesterday.
Today I’m grateful for:
The Thai teachers around me who were helpful and also amusing. Despite having to ‘work’ all weekend it was interesting enough and time passed by quickly thanks to the pleasant atmosphere.
The best thing about today was:
Finding out about some cool features of some of the tools we were learning today, enough to make me consider paying the small fee to access them. They would help enhance my classes a little.
What was out of your control today and how did you handle it?
Not having enough time at home to get all the chores that should have been completed on time. How did I handle it? By doing them, but not on time. It’s not the biggest issue but it means leaving wet washing outside overnight. Also, I wasn’t able to shampoo Tigger again and he really needs it. I hope to do that on Tuesday afternoon if nothing else comes up. Although these things are not really in my control I don’t consider them to be that important that they are giving me too much stress. There was a time when I would’ve let these things bother me more.
Something I learned today?
From reading an online post I found out that perhaps Hanoi is comparable to Chiang Mai and HCMC to Bangkok. Armed with that information I think I would prefer northern Vietnam to the south. Not that I wouldn’t want to check it all out for myself. The writer described Hanoi as more of a collection of villages that have become joined and it is still quick and easy to get out into the mountains and jungles.
How do my thoughts and emotions impact my daily life?
My thoughts need to counter my emotions so I can stay in control. I get better at this though that may be due to avoiding people rather than actual improvement in control!

I took this picture because I knew there weren’t going to be many other chances to take photos today. I dropped into Utopia for my coffee, drinking it quickly but enjoying it immensely. Art gave me a new blend today that was light but zingy.

Friendly Gangsters – 18th February 2023

It all started as a lark
Making fun of those deserving
It bites as much as a bark
A record worth preserving
Upsetting difficult targets
Crooks hiding in plain sight
Questioning illegal profits
Someone serving the people right
A freedom of expression
Something democracy holds dear
Suddenly under suppression
For making a crime more clear
Unafraid to twist the knife
Further for all to see
At this risk of his own life
And the right to remain free
A legacy built by crooks
Hiding behind shirts and ties
An ever-constant cooking of books
And truths in fuzzy disguise
Though when money starts tasting sour
A problem must be burned
Friendly gangsters hold the power
That the people want returned
A David and Goliath fight
When many Davids band together
And shank with all their might
To topple corruption forever

Inspired by the firebombing of investigative YouTuber Jordan Shank’s (friendlyjordies) house and the corruption within the New South Wales government.

Today I’m feeling:
Tired, possibly getting sick. After visiting the psych last week we decided to try cutting down on my sertraline. I did that on Wednesday, taking just half a tablet. Then on Thursday I forgot to take it at all and didn’t sleep well that night due to my student being killed. On Friday, yesterday, I took half again but was so tired I got into bed at around 8pm. This morning I took half and started to feel dizzy in the morning. I know dizziness is a withdrawal symptom but with the possibility of getting sick too and not being able to relax this weekend, I don’t think I can deal with it back at school on Monday.
Today I’m grateful for:
The lunch provided at the hotel today which was more delicious than expected. Usually, there’s nothing I can eat at these kinds of functions and I would’ve happily gone without food but luckily there were two fish dishes, both of which were spicy. One had a dressing of red onions, lemongrass, ginger and chilli and I hoped it would knock the potential of this sickness out of me.
The best thing about today was:
Learning some new programs and applications that I can use for presentations. Despite only Thai being spoken all day it was simple to follow and interesting enough for me. At points, I was also able to catch up with some online reading as I waited for others to catch up.
What was out of your control today and how did you handle it?
The main thing out of my control today is tiredness and the feeling of getting sick. I will handle it by going to sleep early again tonight.
Something I learned today?
Scientists have been able to splice genes in certain breeds of mosquitos so that they will become sterile and die out over a period of time. The question being asked now is whether to introduce it into the wild and what possible consequences could arise from it.
Where do I feel most at ease?
Despite smelling of cat pee right now I’m very obviously most at ease in my home. I love it.

I took this picture because I started using honey in my tea as we ran out of sugar. The honey I bought is pretty old and doesn’t quite dissolve properly anymore so this is what I find after leaving my mug in the sink overnight.

Lead By Example – 17th February 2023

Oh, won’t you show me the way?
As Peter Frampton used to say
If you want the world in your image
You’ll want everyone to play

If your example is to cheat and steal
This may not really appeal
If you can’t change and adapt
Perhaps your intentions are not real

If your example is subjugation
To control every other nation
Don’t be surprised when you fail
It’s a simple explanation

Do as you would have done
This is not a war for anyone
Compromise and coordination
Is how hearts and minds are won

Today I’m feeling:
Contemplative and calm today.
Today I’m grateful for:
Finding a stash of whiteboard markers in the teacher’s room as both of mine ran out yesterday. I was hoping to squeeze the last drop out of them until the end of the semester as new ones are usually hard to come by at this time of year. I was surprised to come across a pencil case with at least four new markers in. I was kind enough to leave two!
The best thing about today was:
With letting the M2 kids have free time today to allow those that wanted to go to Big’s funeral I enjoyed sitting with them and watching them entertain themselves with games, drawing and dancing. I was happy to let them divert their thoughts though many of Big’s class were still subdued.
What was out of your control today and how did you handle it?
There had been mention of some kind of conference this weekend that teachers would attend though both David and I had only heard it second-hand from other Thai teachers. As usual communication here is shithouse and I was quite prepared to just ignore it and claim ignorance. However, as we’ve had lots of free time with sports week and scout week I made a last minute attempt to get information by send ing a message to our department head, Kru Nu. She replied but only give the location, nothing about times or agenda. Oh well, it’s better than nothing I guess. The Chinese whisper is that registration is from 8am to start at 9am so I reckon I’ll get there close to nine and grab coffee at House on the way. It’s annoying that one of the cats has sprayed on my bed right near the pillow and I was hoping to be able to wash the sheets this weekend. David also told me he had to cancel plans too. As we always say, this is Thailand.
Something I learned today?
I saw a crazy video of a train line in the US that is in the same state as the recent accident there (Ohio) and holy shit I couldn’t believe that a train could even travel on it. The lines zigged and zagged and dipped and rose and looked well in need of repair. Later I read that there have been four derailments in the last two weeks, at least one of which also contained hazardous material. Along with video of an overturned road tanker spewing toxic gases into the air, it’s what you’d expect in a third world country.
What details am I noticing right now?
The powerful thudding bass from either Yerm or more likely some villager’s PA where they maybe singing karaoke or Thai luk krung songs. I can only hear the thuds. I’m sleepy and may even skip my shower. I can still smell the fabric softener in my Government Issue t-shirt despite having been wearing it for a week (though gh only usually ten minutes a day). I can also smell the candle burning in the bedroom to counter the smell of cat spray on my bed. I can hear the whir of the fan in my computer and in the power supplies for the camera system. I can feel the crick in my neck from laying down whilst writing this. Also the ache in my wrists. I’m also noticing the phone battery is about to run out. Good night Jim Bob.

From the vaults, I took this picture last month on my bike ride. Just looking at it again now makes me want to go again!

Big Time – 16th February 2023

Asleep on the grass forever
Amongst the trees, staring at the sky
Nothing within vision
The clouds keep drifting by
Oblivious to the tears
Or the dramas yet to come
No more sadness or joy
At the sight of the rising sun
A dot on the map
A blip on the radar, gone
A marker in the road
That we’re all travelling on

Today I’m feeling:
Happy, then shocked, then numb.
Today I’m grateful for:
Being able to spend another day on this earth. This week’s events bring life into a sharper focus.
The best thing about today was:
Working with 1/6 in the morning following up on the work they struggled with yesterday. My plan went well and slowly, slowly, most students got a better understanding of this minor grammar point I was teaching. It made me happy to see the kid’s own pleasure at getting it and also made me realise I need to slow up on certain points and work out better ways to present them.
What was out of your control today and how did you handle it?
After my first class going well I was ready to grab a coffee but as I was going to the stairs I saw a bunch of primary students coming down from the floor above so I stood and high-fived them as they went past. More and more came and some students who knew me were happy to see me, particularly Nana who always comes and gives me a big hug. As they kept coming Gun from 2/7 came running around the corner and said ‘Teacher, you know about Big? He’s gone, he’s dead!’ and off he went running down the stairs past all the primary kids.
Now, Gun is a bad boy and likes it, so I was a little bit dubious though I thought something like telling a lie like that was even below him. The last of the primary kids came down and I started behind them. On the way up were Aum and Sunwa and when they saw me they just burst into tears and hugged me. I took them up to the classroom and soon other students followed all looking sad, shocked and teary.
Gun appeared again and wanted to show me his phone. I knew what was coming and sure enough, he showed me a picture of Big, who had been hit by a car on his motorbike, his body laying at a weird angle on the side of the road. I told Gun to stop showing this and not to share it but unfortunately, pictures like this are normal here and even on the front pages of newspapers and websites. I don’t even know where Gun got the pictures from. More kids came, some only then finding out the news and it was a very sombre atmosphere. I hung around and comforted some or just sat quietly watching everyone. I could see one or two of the boys who were Big’s closer friends were particularly distraught. Eventually, David came and I left for my own class with 1/7 and some of them already had seen RIP pictures shared on Facebook. I took the class slowly and the kids were good today as I promised they could go early if they listened and finished the work. I talked more with a few students outside and came home.
I wasn’t particularly close to Big as he often didn’t come to my class or would skulk in late without me even noticing him but he still occupied a small space in my brain that will no longer be filled.
I feel sad that someone so young is lost like that and sad at the grief of his friends and I feel in some way his co-students are sad because they know that it could just as easily be them. Big is not sad, but we all are.
Something I learned today?
I watched a wingsuit video today of people jumping from a plane over the Maldives. Looking at the islands below it seems to me that the generic photo used to advertise the sea houses over sparkling clear blue water is right next to the airport. You could just get off the plane and walk across the runway and into one of these houses. I would guess the airport is not that busy but it also shows that the idyllic picture is not quite what it seems if you could see the full 360-degree view!

23rd Feb 2023 – Looking at a map it seems like almost every island of the Maldives has an airport so I guess wherever you might be there would be the occasional rumble of planes going by.

What song takes me back to a specific memory?
Impossible! Too many songs, too many memories. This question is suitable for a casual music listener. I’m transported to so many different parts of my life depending on what I’m listening to.

I took this picture because Tigger loves our house so much. He can lie anywhere and feel good. I do have to double-check sometimes to make sure he’s still breathing!

One Way To Look At Three Cats – 15th February 2023

Among a single soft bed
Nothing stirs except
The slow rise and fall as the cats breathe

Their three minds
Like closed doors
To the bedroom containing three cats

Awake, stretch, turn and re-settle
These times of little drama

Two cats slumber together
As one
Three cats slumber together
As one

No favouritism at the sight
Each purrs with affection
Soft eyes stare at mine
Before closing again
To mouse dreams

inspired by the first five stanzas of Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird by Wallace Stevens

Today I’m feeling:
Reasonably happy and satisfied.
Today I’m grateful for:
A little breeze this evening that will hopefully blow away some of this smoky polluted air. The forecast is for many days of storms but with a 0% chance of rain! (As I finished writing this with Kim sitting on my lap there was a peal of thunder and the sound of rain on our roof! Hooray! Kim has gone back to sleep under the doona!)
The best thing about today was:
Relaxing a little with my M2 classes. I didn’t push them too much and allowed the class to end early knowing that I can test them on the work on Friday. My afternoon M1 class though was more taxing as they looked at me blankly when I asked them to find the verbs in some sentences, not knowing what a verb was until I gave them the Thai translation for the word ‘verb’! This is another lesson for me to re-evaluate what and how I teach next year. I’m almost fully resigned now to let the students keep their phones, making each lesson very simple, with some element of artistic output so that the result can look good at least and then I will just grade the students on whether they do the work or not. Having said that I hope that next year’s classes are of a similar level of comprehension at least. I feel like I’m at the point of just giving in to the easy way out. To make my life easier.
What was out of your control today and how did you handle it?
This is more a continuation of the above but many of my students today still lack a serious comprehension of (what I generally consider) simple tasks and instructions, or even just making connections throughout what we have already studied this semester. I’m feeling resigned. But I did come home with the knowledge that I need to change my approach. If I have to make life easier for my students, I have to make it easier for myself too.
Something I learned today?
A recent poll found that 56% of Taiwanese people distrust the USA and worry that they could be in the middle of a potential war that they didn’t ask for.
What small task brings me satisfaction?
What is a small task? Exercise? Feeding the cats? Reading? Cutting nails?
Ok, I’m going to say vacuuming my floors and washing my sheets. I can go do a long time without doing either so I do feel satisfied with a clean floor and fresh-smelling sheets.

Aing took this picture last week because I was the only one of us brave/dumb enough to jump into the waterfall. I only just got this picture and was quite shocked at how big the waterfall is and how small I am in comparison.

Google It – 14th February 2023

Just give me the answer
I don’t want to think
The end result the same
No waste of pen and ink
I don’t want to learn
Just want to jump the queue
Find the fast way forward
And the easiest way through
Smart enough to cheat
I’ll copy from the best
And when the time comes
I’ll just bluff the test
If I end up in the field
Painfully planting rice
I’ll remember those times
At the top were really nice

Today I’m feeling:
Smooth, content. I didn’t get enough sleep last night but it hasn’t put me in a bad mood. More like a dream state that I’m gliding through.
Today I’m grateful for:
The lady that always serves me at Oasis. She recognises me now and knows that I like to add sugar, vinegar and pickled chilli to my food.
The best thing about today was:
Relaxing a little into my classes today and enjoying the interactions with everyone. I was also heartened to receive small valentines gifts from my old students as well as stickers from my current ones.
What was out of your control today and how did you handle it?
Amy called me and was annoyed and upset. I’d been to the hospital to see the psyche but I didn’t wait around to get the meds as there were too many people waiting. I knew I could come back later when it was quieter. At some point, the hospital called Amy’s number because I hadn’t collected the meds. Amy’s phone diverts to her mum here in Thailand and then she calls Amy. I don’t know why no one calls me! Amy checked on the camera and thought I wasn’t at home as I’d kept the doors all closed because of the air pollution but I was in the living room eating food and watching TV. When she called she wanted to know where I’d been and talked in an accusatory manner and this annoyed me as I was feeling very good until then. Anyway, a little while later I’d worked my mood back into feeling positive again and called her at our regular time. She was tired and still a little grumpy so we didn’t talk long. Everything will be fine again.
Something I learned today?
I’ve read a little about a serious train derailment in Ohio that caused a huge explosion of dangerous toxic chemicals and that it hasn’t got much coverage there as the US focuses its media towards its coming war with China and having its population on board with that idea. Some reports have said that the effects of the situation are worse than a nuclear reactor meltdown!
I can feel it will soon be time to disconnect from news again soon. Everything is just seemingly fucked everywhere you look.
What makes me laugh?
Really there are not many things that make me laugh as such. I still enjoy comedy etc but that has a purpose to make you laugh. So the main thing that makes me laugh is, of course, my students. They make me laugh when they are happy and playful but also when they are angry and emotional.

I took this picture because the morning sun burns red through the haze on the horizon.

Not Succumb – 13th February 2023

Do not succumb, my little friend
Little girl, let’s see the end
Together, hold my hand
By my bed you’ll stand
You must say goodbye to me
This is as these things should be
It’s far too soon for you to leave
Whilst there’s still air for us to breathe
The pain of living is our guide
To put our suffering to one side
To share our dreams and our mistakes
To laugh at all our mischief makes
So stay with me, my little friend
Even though we can’t depend
On each other to fix our pain
We’ll walk ourselves beyond this rain

Today I’m feeling:
Ok, though a little out of sorts
Today I’m grateful for:
All the staff at the hospital that pointed me in the right direction to find Mee. Despite language barriers, we could work things out with some words and pointing.
The best thing about today was:
The best thing today was watching Nong Fah helping Nong Ninja with his reading. She comforted him and helped him with some words. It was so sweet to watch and I was very impressed.
What was out of your control today and how did you handle it?
Getting a message from Mee from the hospital that she tried to kill herself last night was a bit of a shock. She had talked about her problems with me before but I was hoping she wouldn’t go this far. I think it was a cry for better attention from her family but it’s difficult for me to fully understand her situation. I went to the hospital to see her and was happy to see her friend Petch there with her. I didn’t really know what to say though. It is hard to express the knowledge that life is long and can easily change for the better in the future. She really needs professional counselling but I’m not sure how easy that is for her to access.
Something I learned today?
It’s not ‘feed a cold, starve a fever’ but ‘feed a cold and a fever’ and whatever, drink lots of water.
What do I enjoy about keeping a journal?
It’s good to get stuff out of one’s head by getting it down on paper. The main thing I enjoy though is looking back at things that were going through my head previously and noticing if I’ve managed to grow and move on since.

I took this picture because as I was walking down the street these blooms stood out against the smoky grey skies.

On Anger – 12th February 2023

Why is it cold in winter?
Why do I get sick at sea?
And why the hell do the people
In the street keep jostling me?
Today I did some things wrong
And maybe I got some things right
What can I do better next time
I’ll reflect on that each night

inspired and borrowed from Seneca

Today I’m feeling:
Good. A little nervous to get back into the classroom but it will be good to get back to it for the last five or so weeks of the semester.
Today I’m grateful for:
My step ladder and broom that allowed me to get to the leaves on the coverings of the outbuildings so that I could clean them up a little. If I want to complete the job I need to get up on the roof again. Not sure I’m quite ready for that adventure.
The best thing about today was:
My mind. From waking til bedtime my mind has been happily occupied with restful and positive thoughts. I even stopped myself a couple of times and thought ‘hey, I feel good!’ Could it be down to a good eight or nine-hour sleep? Can I convince my brain to get eight hours more often as perhaps my aim of seven hours is not serving me best?
What was out of your control today and how did you handle it?
All good today perhaps because I have been thinking about my classes tomorrow and how to counter the risk of them getting out of control. I’m not sure I’ve done enough but tomorrow will tell the tale.
Something I learned today?
Yesterday I learned that there is no border crossing between Turkey and Armenia. Something to do with the two countries not having good relations though I don’t know why.
Today I read Fukuyama’s The End of History essay which was written in 1989. It was an interesting read that in hindsight has perhaps been proven not to be quite as predicted. I would like to see his reflection on it now.
What brings my life meaning and purpose?
My thoughts are the only things that can bring my life meaning and purpose. My thoughts may drive me to action and those actions will be assigned meaning and purpose by my thoughts. And my actions and thoughts will be assigned meaning and purpose by others, though they may not be the same.

I took this picture because this is the friendly happy cute dog at the shop next to Utopia where I’m getting LardNa for lunch before heading to Daytripper again to hang out for the afternoon.