In The Ring – 3rd January 2023

Why suffer to win a meaningless victory?
The search for glory, the greater goal?
Do we strive just because we can
And winning fills the heart and soul?

inspired and plagiarised from Existential Comics

Poverty is not necessary. It is a social, economic and political failure, usually caused by a history of injustice.

Chris Tomlinson

This ends a year of finding quotes every day. I wrote them all in a book that I will gift to Hayden. I’m going to fill up the book with some choice lyrics that also inspired me.

Today I’m feeling:
Motivated and energetic
Today I’m grateful for:
Well, I’m grateful for Amy again. Despite her being busy preparing food for a party at our house tonight she still made me pasta for dinner and enough to feed me for three more meals in the freezer. All her friends are happy to come here and enjoy Amy’s entertainment.
The best thing about today was:
Having that feeling of motivation again and not being too tired and lethargic at the end of the day. While Amy was busy I was preparing some lessons and discovering new worksheets and things for the kids to read and then also updating old entries for my blog and things like that. I’ve managed to keep going fairly well today. I hope I can keep it up.
What was out of your control today and how did you handle it?
At the party tonight I was actually expecting to be joining them and eating with them and didn’t realise that when Amy made dinner for me I was supposed to eat it quickly. I was hungry anyway so it didn’t really matter and when I think about it Amy planned well because she and her friends will be chat-chat-chatting in Thai. I’m okay to just sit and enjoy everyone having a good time but I can’t really add much to the conversations and things like that, so it’s good that Amy allowed that I wouldn’t be part of the party although I was around and still talking a little bit with everyone. It’s nice not to have the expectation and to feel a bit like the odd one out.
Something I learned today?
Today I watched an interview with Andy Boreham and the ex-prime minister of New Zealand John Keys and they were talking about China, in particular, John Keys was talking about his experience of China and I pretty much had to agree with everything that he said and so I didn’t really learn anything new but just confirmed something that I already believed. It’s okay to listen and watch things that confirm things that you already believe but also I’m interested in other arguments or a point of view. I watched another video of someone whose reports I usually enjoy but this one, whilst it was about something that happened between China and America there was something that he was saying that didn’t feel like it fell in line with what I believe to be true. I wanted to understand his argument for the particular situation but because of other things that were said that seem to be common putdowns about China put me off wanting to watch any more about it. It’s a shame because even people who seem to have a balanced view can fall into rhetoric or just following what is accepted as fact when actually if it’s not accepted by some people, such as myself in this case, then it affects what they are trying to argue. Maybe I would change my mind on his point but because of other statements around it, I was put off to listen further. It goes to show how difficult it is for people presenting news and reporting to just stick with, I’m going to say facts but is it facts or just accepted truth? It’s difficult to judge for anyone now as a listener, as a watcher. We all get caught in this trap.
Write about your most embarrassing moment.
I’m struggling to think of something that was really embarrassing to me since I became an adult.
So, I can remember a time when it was a Christmas time family party and my grandad played a prank on me. I guess I was about 12 or 13. He was selling it as a seance and that he was contacting people from beyond. He had me rub my finger on the underside of a plate and then touch various parts of my face and apparently this would help communicate. After about 10 minutes they showed me a mirror and what had happened was that they tricked me and they had burned a candle under the bottom of the plate and obviously I was running my finger along there and putting soot all over my face and when I was shown the mirror and saw myself, I was so upset and unhappy. I couldn’t believe that I had been made to look so foolish in front of the family. I hated my granddad for a long time after that.

I took this picture because I am the clown, the entertainer, and the teacher. These were the kids at the restaurant from a couple of days ago. I will drop some simple English books for them one day. No new photos today.

Trouble At The Freezer – 2nd January 2023

The ice cream
Was delicious
I ate it all
While you were out

Don’t be angry
Your loss is minor
And I know
You love my tummy

Despite your upset
We both know
It will
Happen again

You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecendented in the history of the world, bu then you read. It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, who had ever been alive.

James Baldwin

Today I’m feeling:
Happy, relaxed and somewhat renewed energy. I’m wondering if that’s because Amy is leaving again this week? I’ve found it more difficult to do the things I usually do when she’s not here (playing guitar, reading, listening to music ) and maybe I slipped into some lethargy and laziness, instead just watching videos online. It does feel more physiological though but I guess it’s all connected.
Today I’m grateful for:
Anton Chekov’s short story ‘Ward No. 6’. I read it this morning after my coffee and it wowed me a lot and made me question certain things. One paragraph, in particular, resonated deeply as often happens when writing reminds you of your own life. I will reread this one again.
The best thing about today was:
The ease of showering Tigger. Amy and I were both surprised at how compliant he was to get covered in soapy water. He wasn’t happy but we didn’t get cut to bits as we thought might happen. Thankfully the vet had managed to cut his nails yesterday too. Tigger feels softer again and the rough skin is clearing up too. Of course, after showering and then drying him, which takes the most time, he went into the sun and started rolling around in the dirt again.
What was out of your control today and how did you handle it?
Amy got a little grumpy with me today when I’d forgotten to give Tigger his medicine after dinner. I called him and he came in from outside. I gave him some more food but then Amy dropped something that crashed to the floor frightening him and he ran off before I could give the medicine. I chased after him but he ran outside and into the darkness where he is impossible to see. I came back in knowing that he’d come back in before I went to bed but Amy was still complaining – to herself, in Thai, thankfully – so I just ignored it and about 15 minutes later he came back in of his own accord and I was able to nab him and give him the pill.
Something I learned today?
I’d forgotten to search Antioch Arrow until now and can’t find any meaning behind the band name though I didn’t dig too deeply.
I did learn that Hayden has applied for another job, this time cleaning. I’m not sure what it is exactly but he’s never been the cleanest person but, like myself, I’m sure he’d be more inclined to better clean for other people when getting paid for it.
I know I learned other bits and pieces today but it’s a struggle to recall things. I want to be more present when learning something so I can recall things better. Or perhaps it’s that most information is just useless knowledge and hence easy to forget.
What daily habit will help you feel healthier, fitter, and more alive?
I’m old enough to know these things by now. But knowing them is different to doing them. Back on the horse tomorrow, so to speak.

Art took this picture because every day he posts a picture to promote Utopia as being open. I end up in them about once every 6 weeks. This one is really nice though with the morning sun coming through the window.

She’s An Egg – 31st December 2022

She’s an egg, putting on a face
A tough nut, that’s a fact
She needs some love and kindness
Or she’s bound to end up cracked
She’s an egg amongst many others
One mistake may lead to ruin
When the shell starts to break open
She may be her own undoing
She’s an egg, hidden away inside
Soft and so easy to rot
Let some air in to breathe
Before she gets herself forgot

A nation of lazy contemplative men would be incapable of fighting a war unless their very laziness were attacked. Wars are the activities of busy-ness.

John Steinbeck

Today I’m feeling:
Gurgling guts, sore tummy and tired from lack of sleep, though it’s not getting me down. Just write off the day catching up with videos I’ve wanted to watch.
Today I’m grateful for:
The carbon pills and electrolyte powder to help settle my stomach. These are a standard in every Thai household first aid kit. Bad guts and diarrhoea are pretty common here.
The best thing about today was:
Buying new socks. Some days it’s the simple things.
What was out of your control today and how did you handle it?
My ass was out of control today and I handled it by being lazy and lethargic and being close to the toilet in case of an emergency. Shit happens.
Something I learned today?
Thailand imports trash especially since China banned importation in 2017 but since it has such difficulty dealing with it will slowly phase out bringing in more by 2025. That’s the plan but I can foresee things getting in the way of that target.
What’s your New Year’s Resolution or goal?
I haven’t done new year’s resolutions for many years, discovering how difficult they are to maintain. Why choose this date? If you’ve failed with them by the end of January maybe you feel bad for the rest of the year or just wait til the next new year to start again. I’ve had more success with just starting things at times that felt right or were appropriate. I also never beat myself up if these things get derailed and just do my best to get back on track.

I took this picture because this is some awesome Lardna at a restaurant Amy took me to for lunch. I have a dodgy stomach today so couldn’t coat it with all the condiments I would’ve liked but it still tasted great. I don’t usually take food pictures and this is a relatively normal picture but it was either this or another cat photo!

I asked AI to take the Lardna image and make it into a manga image – hence the featured (yet unrelated otherwise!) manga picture.

Princess Unknown – 30th December 2022

She made me dream
She made me wonder
She made me feel
I’m nearing six feet under

And she didn’t do anything
She just simply needed to be
I don’t know who she was
And she certainly didn’t know me

Across the room
She quietly sat
And suddenly
My world no longer flat

She stood up and walked around
And I followed with my stare
I lived a life in ten minutes
Of which she was completely unaware

So I give thanks
Princess unknown
To the thought
That you’ll never be alone

Make sure to live a life complete
My all your dreams come true
And if you never live another day
At least someone remembered you

I was ashamed of myself when I realised that life was a costume party; and I attended with my real face.

Franz Kafka

Today I’m feeling:
Tired and ok
Today I’m grateful for:
The parking officer at the hotel in the city, who has always been nice and helpful. Amy remembers him from when she was younger and he was always nice even then.
The best thing about today was:
A night out in the city. I haven’t been here all year. It’s different and interesting to see what’s going on even though it doesn’t excite me. The main part of the city is really for tourists and I’m not a tourist anymore.
What was out of your control today and how did you handle it?
My exhaustion from driving yesterday knocked me out until about 5pm, knowing I had to go out for the evening. I just slept and watched tv until then when I finally started to feel normal again. Now I’m giving in to the urge to medicate with alcohol, cocktails are all this old man can manage. I hope tomorrow doesn’t hate me too much.
Something I learned today?
Some new exercises for my aching hips. The pain is getting worse and I just hope I can avoid any major complications by doing some exercises. My neck has improved somewhat since using stretch bands to work my shoulders. Pain just moves around my body from one place to the next. I need to exercise everything all day if I want to maintain but who’s going to do that?
How do you feel about video games?
I like them but I’m too old for them now. My eyes can’t keep up with the action on the screen. Modern games seem to promote excitement over gameplay which is not so interesting to me. I got into video games during their introduction and watched their early evolution carefully. If I was a kid today I’m sure I’d be sucked into them. Real life is a video game.

I took this picture because I’m here with Amy for a night out and the guy in black I’d like to see break out into some D Boon licks and bouncing around the stage. But I’m afraid Chiang Rai isn’t ready for that.

Up In Smoke – 29th December 2022

How to fill the hole in that space?
The emptiness in the halls
When reminded every day
By the pictures on the walls?
Your smell permeates the air
Your shoes still outside the door
Waiting for some other soul
Because you don’t need them anymore
As your clothes hang in the cupboard
Unbearable, the thought to remove
But one day the burden must lift
Knowing you’d surely approve
Now you’re blown to the wind
But the heart is where you stay
Bittersweet what time is left
Until I join you again one day

Educate the children and it won’t be neccesary to punish the men.


Today I’m feeling:
Tired and sleepy
Today I’m grateful for:
Shitty 7/11 coffee to fuel my drive to Lampang. No decent coffee today but that will make tomorrow all the more sweet.
The best thing about today was:
At uncle’s funeral today there was the usual chanting and ceremony but something I hadn’t seen before was a traditional acapella song that sounded almost islander in origin. Mourners gathered around the coffin and with arms around each other in a long chain they swung side to side with the rhythm. It was really quite beautiful.
What was out of your control today and how did you handle it?
Almost everything was out of my control today except my thoughts and reactions, which were all positive. Today was a day for other people and I submitted to that.
Something I learned today?
The US military has recruiters in US schools actively targeting the poor and those unable to afford college tuition fees (or their debt). Military personnel, I believe, get free college tuition. That’s pretty crazy!
What are you most proud of in your life?
Coincidentally I just posted a response to a similar question that I wrote a couple of years ago. That was a list of three things I was proud of, which still stands today. Though looking at this question grammatically, I wouldn’t want to have one thing I was most proud of but to be proud of many things. Life is long and deserves many proud moments.

I took this picture because this is where uncle’s body became ash and smoke. This crematorium is bigger than I’ve experienced before. I’m starting to recognise more of the extended family at the funerals I go to. However, the family also dwindles each time.

Baited For The Bite – 28th December 2022

When the rain pours
Is it angry at man?
The anger addict shouts
At all the clouds he can
Looking for a reason
To again raise his voice
Practice becomes instinct
The anger addicts’ choice
Upset by words written
Baited for the bite
The anger addict screaming
That he is always right
Finally, breath runs out
Wasted time disappeared
No one ever listened
As the anger addict feared
Proved himself correct
With nothing left to say
Quietly, proudly satisfied
Happy in his own way

There is no complete life. There are only fragments. We are born to have nothing, to have it pour through our hands.

James Salter

Today I’m feeling:
Today I’m grateful for:
Dutchie, JubJib, Sheena and Khet for working hard to organise a fun lesson (scavenger hunt in the park opposite the school) for the last one of the year for their class. They even pushed me along to get going with things today. They all learned a lot about organising and planning and how throwing a bunch of people of students into the mix will likely fuck up those plans!
The best thing about today was:
The happy faces of the class when I told them we’d be doing the rest of the class in the park. They didn’t know what to expect but they were surely not disappointed when I told them to put their books away!
What was out of your control today and how did you handle it?
As usual, these will be my classes. I think outside of those there wasn’t anything really exciting that got too wacky. In my 2/7 class Gun became particularly annoying and instead of confronting and escalating further I just tried to ignore him and dobbed him in to his homeroom teacher. I like Gun even though he’s crude, rude and lazy but he stops other students from learning and that’s something I can’t accept.
Something I learned today?
I learned that tomorrow I have to wake up at 5 am. I know that other information entered my brain today but it’s shoved somewhere at the back and right now, getting up early is what’s on my mind as I’m laying here in bed wondering when I might actually fall asleep!
Add a photo that makes you smile every time you see it.
Our first king-size mattress. It would be a while before we got a bed. Either way, Amy made claim on her part of the bed immediately.

Nicha took this picture because I was helping her and another student with some reading. Whilst I wasn’t looking she unlocked the photo app and snapped this selfie. I found it a few hours later and cracked up. Nicha’s English is very poor but she is smart and can work out ways to look as if she is able. That’s fine for now but will trip her up in the future. She’s picking up things though. I doubt if English will ever play a big part in her life but I hope she learns that learning is its own reward.

In This House – 26th December 2022

The open door

Fresh air and

(Presents under the

Coffee fills this

Two cups then

*format from The Red Wheelbarrow by William Carlos Williams

Every path is the right path. Anything might have been anything else and had just as much meaning to it.

Tennessee Williams

Today I’m feeling:
Happy, a little tired from noisy classes
Today I’m grateful for:
The salad seller at the market again. Amy told me she would be out for dinner when I got home so I rode off to the market not sure what I would decide to have and this time I went back to the salad which I haven’t had for a while now. It was great.
The best thing about today was:
Having fun in my classes despite the kids being noisy and lazy. I made Nam and Aoi laugh when they sometimes get angry with me pushing them. Goya was loud and hard-working and enjoying things and at the end, Gam happily stayed back to finish her work whilst I played around with Fah who was waiting for her.
In the morning I helped Dena, Nicha and Namkhing individually with some reading and sent the top 4 off to investigate and prepare for our scavenger hunt which we should have on Wednesday if all goes to plan. I think that I’ve got my mind in the right place for these kids now.
I also found out today that we have Friday and Monday off for the new year holiday. Cool!
What was out of your control today and how did you handle it?
The kids in the morning were particularly noisy so I moved a few of them around which helped for a while. As I was trying to help them with reading and pronunciation most were just talking with each other so I stopped and told them I wouldn’t help them anymore and to record themselves reading the passage. I almost lost it but distracted myself by talking with the top 4 as described above, so at least I still felt useful. Slowly students started to come and ask for my help, realising they should have been listening before. They all did it and did it well enough in the end. There are different ways to get to the destination.
Something I learned today?
Tangmo has got a new friend and decided to bring them here tonight. I thought it was ‘Mo on the terrace but then saw it was a slightly thinner shape and when I went to open the door it ran off. Later I went out to see if it was still around when I thought I saw it in the darkness but then Tangmo ran out to me. I went to get the rope for him and then saw the other dog cautiously nearby. It wouldn’t come close but was curious. I threw the rope for ‘Mo who collected it and then ran out with it, then to chase the new dog up the road and out of sight with the rope flowing behind him from his mouth…probably never to be seen again! The rope, that is. Dopey ‘Mo will be back tomorrow wondering why I have no rope to play with anymore.
What could you let go of, for the sake of harmony?
I’m not sure that I’m holding on to anything these days. I’ve let go of most things that have caused me trouble, often, maybe too often, by avoidance or running away, but now just by forgiveness and forgetting. I don’t make other people’s problems mine anymore.
Sometimes I still hold on to the point that I should be trying to stuff as much information into my student’s heads as possible and whilst that may be suitable for one or two kids it doesn’t lead to harmony in the classroom. So I do usually let that go anyway.

I took this picture because I want to remember the view when leaving home. This house has been more of a home for me than anywhere else but still, it’s hard to appreciate it whilst living here. Homes are often created through nostalgia and the memories of everything that occurred there. One day I may look at this photo and think about all the things that I was part of here, which may as simple as reading in the hammock, eating on the terrace or managing the garden.

Work In Progress – 25th December 2022

All around is static
A photo reel reflection
I see myself, a boy, a man
Open to inspection
Shadows passing in ceaseless flux
A work in progression
Destruction and evolution
Are the cycles of obsession
Holding onto pain
Until I learned to let it go
Significance is impermanent
As I’ve slowly come to know

People who cannot suffer can never grow up, never discover who they are.

James Baldwin

Today I’m feeling:
Relaxed and average, not up, not down.
Today I’m grateful for:
Our machete, which I seem to blunt every time I use it but it helped me cut through the vines of the passionfruit. Do I need to buy an angle grinder now so that I can sharpen it again? Or perhaps I will go to auntie next door one day and challenge myself to communicate what I need.
The best thing about today was:
Pushing through my desire to sleep and motivate myself to finish pulling down all the passionfruit plants. I thought I would just let it go wild forever but after three months of constant collecting and juicing, then drinking I feel like I’ve had enough passionfruit now! The plant tangles up easily and even a couple of weeks after I chopped it off at the base it was still a pain in the ass to get it down from the frame it was wrapped around.
What was out of your control today and how did you handle it?
I got up a little later than usual so by the time I got to Utopia my usual spot was gone and I had to sit on the uncomfortable car seat. That’s ok, sometimes it’s good to see the same part of the world from a different angle (see yesterday). The coffee was good, the book was good. As it was uncomfortable to sit for long I didn’t hang around as long as I usually do so that was kinda good anyway, get home and get on with things.
Something I learned today?
Today I messed around with ChatGPT and then the full Invoke AI, to see what pictures it came up with. I’ll learn a little more about this to see if I can use it to generate images for my blog posts.
Did you celebrate Christmas today? Write about it.
Not particularly. Amy likes to put up a Christmas tree and lights and she gave a gift to Nut and Bruno before we went for a more upmarket-than-normal meal. Amy is getting her eyelashes done and I’m listening to Liars and The Feud at home.

I took this picture because Amy finally got to making her cinnamon buns for Utopia again. They sold out within a couple of hours. Doing this makes her happy though the return on investment, particularly time, is very low.

Young Buds March On Pretty – 24th December 2022

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.

Stefan Zweig

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!

I took this picture because this is the view from my afternoon position at Utopia because it’s busier than the morning and my usual table isn’t available. For afternoon coffee I drink a Dirty, a creamy milk with a shot on top, with chocolate shavings.

Turning Wine Into Water – 23rd December 2022

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…

Rollo May

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.

I took this picture because I started checking these new Ai image-making apps that are getting lots of press. AI writing and all sorts of apps can be generated easily and with speech too, it practically means webpages of information can be artificially built. What will be ‘real’ or considered real? This image was created by entering Gormenghast Lord Titus. The image is unique and interesting but did I make it? I want to take the image and draw my own version of it. Will it be mine then? Maybe.