No Bricks, No Mortar – 13th April 2023

Keeping up with the Joneses and Smiths
Established in a canyon of glamour
Here are built the legends and myths
The counters to the sickle and hammer
There’s no volunteer to be the clown
As it’s just the beginning, just a starter
Their crushed dreams are raining down
Like confetti from a busted pinata

*Last two lines are a paraphrase from a sentence that stood out in Brix Smith Start’s biography and the inspiration for the rest

Today I’m feeling:

Better each day. I’m getting there. Today though Amy asked me to call her when I got up and when I did she told me her grandmum was rushed to the hospital after passing blood. In her 90s she still has a good brain but a failing body. 

Today I’m grateful for:

My phone’s alarm clock and my smart idea to set 3 alarms 15 minutes apart to help get me out of bed a little earlier. I’d like to get back into the rhythm of getting up early and sleeping earlier again.

The best thing about today was:

Talking for an hour with Hayden on the phone. As he gets older and has more life experience we can talk about many issues and subjects these days and I enjoy our conversations.

Also messaging with Echo in LA and catching up with her again which I try and do every 12 to 18 months.

What was out of your control today and how did you handle it?

Amy asked me to go to the hospital and visit her grandma in the evening after she’d been moved to a private room. The only problem is that today is the first day of the Songkran celebration and the traffic in the city was crazy. Whilst on the way there Amy called and told me to go home. It had taken her brother two hours to make the usual ten-minute drive from home to the hospital! As I’d been stuck in traffic for 20 minutes already I thought going home was a good idea too.  I enjoyed driving anyway as it gave me a chance to listen to more podcasts.

Something I learned today?

I learned that Echo is a ceramic artist and recently held an exhibition in LA, examples of which I could see in her WeChat Moments. I never knew that she was doing this and still not clear if she can live off her art but I’m quite amazed at her ability and pursuit of this.

What things are in my control today?

Some of my thoughts. Some of my actions.

I took this picture because I’ve never seen these fruit (or nuts – I’m not sure which) turn red before. This is on one of our palm trees. A quick search tells me they are foxtail palms (and they are fruit!)

The Whys Men – 28th March 2023

Kojaked caveman meditating
Declares life is a fountain
No ears received this pronunciation
At the hole in the mountain
Yulled madmen levitating
In boxes across the skies
Searching for any piece of wisdom
To answer the many whys
For fifty years the mystic
Held his arm above his head
Heard the echo from the cave
And suddenly fell down dead
The market stopped a breath
Then continued walking about
The circle of life and death
Is all it’s ever been talking about

Today I’m feeling:
Sick, headache, tired from lack of sleep because my eyes were sore and kept waking me up.
Today I’m grateful for:
The fact that I can take a day off work, go to the hospital, afford medicine and sit inside with the air purifier. I know these are getting repetitive but when I see labourers working outdoors in this pollution I must feel very grateful.
The best thing about today was:
Getting prescribed pseudoephedrine at the hospital for my nose being blocked and irritated and then lorazepam to help me sleep. My body is a medicine cabinet! The pseudoephedrine has put me off eating though. Not sure if I will go back to work tomorrow yet.
What was out of your control today and how did you handle it?
I felt like lots of things were out of my control today but just let it go. My health, the air, waiting at the hospital, the medicines provided and then the effects of taking the medicines. Amy was critical of me wanting to stay here but what can I do right now? I’m here and our cats are here. Yes, this situation sucks and we could change it if we wanted but that would involve us buying a place to live in South Thailand. Hopefully, this pollution problem goes soon, it’s already better today but I hope it gets fixed properly for the future. The last couple of years have been really good here. Wherever we go has its good and bad points.
Something I learned today?
Watching Tim Newton talking about Thai news today was interesting as it featured the pollution problem here in the north. Apparently, there were protests at the district office in CR yesterday and there are more people speaking out now about the issue. I’m still doubtful anything will get done quickly or anything substantial but who knows.
What changes am I experiencing right now?
The change from teaching to holiday is fucking me up. I’m getting lazy though other things factor into that too, such as the weather and pollution. I have to find some things to do during this time to keep my brain occupied and body moving.

I took this picture because after finishing at the hospital I went to Utopia for coffee and was presented with this!

No Suffering – 14th March 2023

Do you wish not to suffer?
How to know you’re alive?
Wanting for others not to suffer
Is the goal for which to strive
The love that comes to you
Share amongst your friends
Til the circle is complete
And one’s suffering truly ends

Today I’m feeling:
Down and up, happy and relaxed right now.
Today I’m grateful for:
The counter staff at the hospital who assisted me today. One changed my phone number on file. Another asked me questions and advised there would be a wait and another helped me to pay, all doing well with their English. I speak as much Thai as I can but know that they have to try hard to speak in English for me.
Also to Fon, who made me a small sourdough loaf and brought it to me at school. It was a little heavy but tasted great.
The best thing about today was:
Taking my iMac and SSD kit to the store at Central and getting a fairly positive response that they could fix it for me. It will be an expensive fix but at least cheaper than having to buy new and should hopefully keep me going for a few more years.
What was out of your control today and how did you handle it?
At the hospital, I had to wait an hour and pay 150 baht for a one-minute consult. As mentioned above I was warned of the wait so I happily sat and played poker on my phone and watched people coming and going, and despite being a little unimpressed at paying this fee for what was essentially just a mental health check-in as I was riding home I considered what this was like in Australia and how much it cost then too. Really I’m very lucky to live close to a hospital where I can just walk in anytime and pay so little for their service.
After thinking in the morning that I would go back to a full sertraline tablet I actually started feeling more positive whilst I was waiting and decided to go for another three weeks at half dose.
Something I learned today?
Today was just more about US-China relations. I’m not sure why I’m so sucked into this topic except that I want to share the positives about China in the constant stream of negative propaganda out there. The actions of the US government in general disgust me. Did I learn anything new today (on this subject)? Perhaps not.
Oh, related to this I discovered an archive site of articles that allows limited free access after following a link to one article that I wanted to read related to Mao Zedong. I will search the archive for other things of interest when I have free time.
What is most important to me today?
The health and safety of my family and friends or, in fact, anyone facing struggle. I can include myself in that. In general, there’s not much going on around me that is so important. Things seem under control.

I took this picture because I saw this muddy crew, this brown crew in a sea of green, as I rode up to the hospital. How can we tell if they are happy? I hope they enjoy their lives eating grass and cooling in the mud. It’s pretty fucking extreme out there!

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.

Better Days – 26th January 2023

We didn’t ask to be born into this world
Those felt like better days before
If you don’t get fucked from the right
You’ll be fucked from the left for sure
And just who is going to protect us?
A guardian angel, out of the blue?
A fall guy descends into hell
So that you can live your life true?
It can never be as clear as that
Time and guilt will take their toll
Will justice find better days again
To find a freedom for us all?

inspired by the Chinese movie Better Days

Today I’m feeling:
Sick, tired but reasonably positive
Today I’m grateful for:
The nurses who did their best at the hospital. It was hectic and there was a feeling of frustration in the air. I didn’t feel too bad but the sign said to ask them again if waiting longer than 30 minutes so I did. It was obvious they were busy and I was ok with that but once I’d mentioned it to them it felt like they rushed me through.
The best thing about today was:
I went to school this morning and saw everyone preparing for the sports day parade, lots of kids all dressed up and unrecognisable, happy and jovial. I felt sorry to myself that I didn’t feel better and able to stay and cheer on all the different teams.
What was out of your control today and how did you handle it?
I was at the hospital for two and a half hours in total. I went to just get checked out about my sore rib. It took half the time to get to see a doctor who didn’t think I had a fracture as they guessed I would be in more pain. The consultation took about 5 minutes. The rest of the time spent waiting to pick up medicine. For everyone’s time and effort, it was only 275 baht. Consultation and four lots of pills. Nice.
Something I learned today?
More about articles 35 and 36 in the Chinese constitution and how they guarantee more rights than the American constitution. The war of propaganda the US wages sure is strong. I’m coming to respect China more and more over time.
How can I show more gratitude this year?
I often am grateful for people in and around my life so I guess I should think about ways of actually showing them my gratitude beyond a simple thanks. I should keep some small gifts with me at all times or something like that.

I took this picture because Amy’s cacti are coming along well. We’ve lost a few on the way but many are going great guns. This picture is from about ten days ago as I’ve not felt well today and remembered to take any pictures.

Poker Face – 23rd January 2023

A bridge is beckoning
And she’s holding the rope
Talk of a reckoning
Now unable to cope
Don’t take that flight
Out of selfish pride
Step up to the fight
Your future undenied
The love you never felt
Maybe on its way
Fold the hand dealt
Here to stand and stay

Today I’m feeling:
Happy in myself, a little stressed for others.
Today I’m grateful for:
The kind psychiatrist that talked with me and Baitoey about her problems and ideas to help her. Baitoey scored very poorly on her psychiatric evaluation and I didn’t realise quite how bad she is feeling. The psychiatrist was nice, calm and helpful though and asked me to come back with Baitoey if she doesn’t want her parents to come next time.
The best thing about today was:
I had an enjoyable time walking around school and watching different sports events that many of my students are involved in. There was a really good atmosphere, and everyone was having fun.
What was out of your control today and how did you handle it?
When I got to the hospital with Baitoey it was just as they closed the department for lunch for an hour. Instead of just sitting there I decided to head to TLC to pick up my work permit documents and swing by Oasis to pick up food for dinner. When I got to TLC there was no one there but I messaged and waited for a bit and eventually, Nancy appeared with my documents. I jokingly asked if the application money was there too and was shocked when she said that TLC would reimburse the fee this year! Cool! Baitoey waited patiently in the car and then we headed to Oasis but when we got there it was shut! Damn, I was looking forward to their food too! Oh well, never mind. We got back to the hospital in time just as they reopened again.
Something I learned today?
Old mate Dean Crowe is playing in a band called Potential and will your New Zealand and catch up with Kieran and Chrissie there. I want to go to NZ again!
What would I like to savour or enjoy more often this year?
I’d like to enjoy better health and having more energy. To savour doesn’t really come into it because savouring can come at odd times, sometimes unexpectedly.

Art and I took these pictures on Saturday because as I was taking the picture of P’ti he was taking the picture of me.

Creator – 20th January 2023

I am the creator
I made myself insane
No one can save me
Or identify my pain
If I’m the creator
I’ll create a world my own
Mastering my fate
I must do it alone
I’ll get what I deserve
Whichever way it goes
When my world is made
I’ll be the one that knows

undoubtedly inspired by Robert Greene’s Daily Laws

Today I’m feeling:
Happy, relaxed and loved
Today I’m grateful for:
The students who have confidence in me and trust me. Those who reach out for my help. Those that just come and talk to me for their amusement and daring.
The best thing about today was:
The happy feeling around the school during the Chinese New Year celebration. Even the students who came to my afternoon classes didn’t mind being asked to do a little work. It was a relaxed atmosphere which generated a good vibe. I wonder if it was because there were fewer students around? I wish it could be like that all the time.
What was out of your control today and how did you handle it?
I took Boss to the hospital today and as we were walking from where I parked the car I realised that I didn’t have a mask and sure enough I got stopped from coming in. I cursed myself for leaving mine in the car and expected to send a 100-baht to buy one there. I ran to the shop and when I found them they only came in tens! Oh no! But as I went to pay the cashier said 20baht. A (minor) worry for nothing more than an Aussie buck.
Something I learned today?
Eyes are everywhere. At the hospital, we ran into a teacher and when I got back a student from another asked me why I was at the hospital and showed me a picture that someone had taken of me there! Chiang Rai is so small that the gossip moves faster than the people!
What new experiences do I want to try this year?
Wow. I don’t know. I don’t want to go skydiving or buggy jumping. I guess my answer would revolve around travel and going to new places. Indonesia, Borneo, Philippines, Vietnam, Cambodia – all in one trip with a touring band would be ideal!

I took this picture because I was hoping to catch the sunrise as I drove up our road in the morning. It is perfectly aligned with the road with the stupa visible close by. However, the sun was already peaking up so I had to quickly grab this shot. The shot I wanted I should have taken on Wednesday or yesterday. I probably won’t get up in time on the weekend and by Monday the sun will probably rise in a slightly different position. This winter has been mild, most days not even needing a t-shirt in the evening. I think it may mean a long hot dry summer ahead.

A Deer With No Eyes – 19th December 2022

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.

Bertrand Russell

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.

I took this picture because I gave my students in 1/7 a spelling test and with prep and repetition took about one and a half hours to complete but it was actually a lot of fun and I think the kids even found it a little amusing, some of them doing better than either they or I expected. This is also the only picture I took today!

Drunkards Ledger – 17th December 2022

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.

Colin Wilson

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.

Amy took this picture because this was her in the hospital (yesterday) getting her first rabies shot and her bite wounds dressed. She’s in less pain today but has a bit of swelling. I hope it fixes up quickly.

Taking The Time – 16th December 2022

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,

Jean-Paul Sartre

Today I’m feeling:
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.

I took this picture because there were these webs all over the lawn this morning though weirdly when trying to take a picture of more than one they kinda disappeared in the picture.