New Wombs – 17th March 2023

We’ll birth our babies from sacs
So our mothers feel no pain
Patting ourselves on our backs
With this technological gain
A matrix of unborn babies
Hangin up in store
We take away one suffering
Perhaps replaced by more
A matrix of millions
Spat from artificial wombs
Why not exploit them further
In this society that consumes
Mothers now free of pain
Have more time for shopping
Acceptance is hard to explain
When there’s no sign of stopping

Today I’m feeling:
A tinge of sadness but in general pretty happy. I was sad when I got to school and walked around but found no students. An empty school reminds me that at other times these are just useless buildings. I miss my students already though I know I will be over it soon enough, maybe even already!
Today I’m grateful for:
The staff who fixed my iMac and called me at 11 am, just as I was about to head home. It was ready to pick up. Great timing. I’m happy to have a working machine again and looking forward to getting it back into the shape that works for me.
The best thing about today was:
Getting a quick haircut was pretty satisfying as it’s getting too hot to have a thick head of thinning hair. Sitting at Daytripper and putting together another lesson was fun too. Also, whilst there, watching the highlights of the first game of the AFL season on my laptop and watching students come and go.
What was out of your control today and how did you handle it?
I struggled to find all the software I needed to reinstall on my refurbished iMac. I’ll probably have to fiddle around a fair bit more before it’s really back in the shape I want. But that’s all right, this kind of annoying challenge suits me.
Something I learned today?
I watched a little Al Jazeera segment on the state of Iraq since the Western allies’ illegal war there. It seems that the little hope Iraqis had at the removal of Saddam Hussein was very short-lived and one has to wonder how much is the fault of the allies and how much the Iraqis themselves. Money, power and religion make for a terrible mix when it comes to governance.
What is something in my life that I feel “lucky” to have?
Trying to think how to answer this. In one way I feel lucky for everything I have. In another, I feel like it wasn’t luck at all. So I’m trying to think of something that was just luck. So after five minutes, I’ve decided all the things I have were not due to luck. Except for one thing. I’m reminded by my student who told me her story of her parent’s rejection and asking ‘if they didn’t want me then why did they have me?’ We didn’t ask to be born, yet here we are. So the one thing in my life that I feel lucky to have is life itself.

I took this picture because I’m at the hairdresser again. To get a haircut, not to just take a picture of their cat.

The Diplomat’s Anthem – 16th March 2023

My respected enemy, my hated friend
Our love to hate may never end
A battle of wits, a game of pretend
A hold on hope on which we depend

Today I’m feeling:
Happy, content and later, tired. The temperature is perfect at around 7 pm and I feel like going for a walk but there’s nowhere really to go. I could walk just for the sake of it but feel that my house is so comfortable it’s challenging to motivate myself by this time of day. I think about walking to Daytripper but I usually go there with my laptop to either work or write and I don’t want to carry a bag with me all that way. First-world problems in a third-world country for this entitled white boy.
Today I’m grateful for:
My work situation that allows me so much free time that I sometimes struggle to fill it appropriately. I got home before 10am and have been doing all sorts of little things from reading to cleaning to vacuuming and suddenly it is evening already and I wonder where the day has gone, and everything is ok. If I wasn’t doing (what feels like) a whole load of nothing I’d have to be at school usually teaching or on days like these with no classes filling up time with useless activity. I’m so lucky.
The best thing about today was:
Seeing lots of excited happy kids at school for the graduation ceremony. If they weren’t graduating they were preparing to present gifts to their friends and siblings. It’s funny to see some of the ‘bad’ students celebrating in this kind of traditional ceremony and it reminded me that the kids have a cultural understanding of expectations which I will never have and which sometimes brings us to odds. While pushing them with all sorts of possibilities for their futures they understand their realities which I can’t see.
What was out of your control today and how did you handle it?
Not much really. A car freshener I ordered online got refunded as it was out of stock and the computer repair shop called me and advised they couldn’t access the data on the old drive which is a minor inconvenience as about 99% of my files are backed up. Nothing too wayward today.
Something I learned today?
Despite wanting to watch less youtube I found an interesting new channel from China by journalist Miao Xiaojuan.
The AFL season starts today and there will be 4 umpires on the field now and the bench will have one sub plus 4 to interchange. Swans play on Saturday and I will watch on Sunday.
What am I looking forward to?
I’m looking forward to going to Australia in October. It’s been five years since I left and I’ve been the happiest I’ve ever been. Australia is what made me though and I am very fond of it there. It will be good to catch up with Hayden and Jochen and to look around my old haunts to see how or if they have changed.

I took this picture because this climbing plant has suddenly found its wheels and trying to overgrow everywhere, reaching out to find new attachments. The remnants of last year’s growth are still stuck up in the tree tops, dead and decaying yet still stuck. I have to fight it back this year.

Dead Frog – 13th January 2023

Quiet as a mouse
Softer than a lamb
Tighter than a clam
Dead as a….
(Lizard tail)
Roses are red
My blood turned blue
Shadow in tarmac
Ah! Fuck you!
Frog, dead frog
Dead frog

To the tune of Nomeansno’s Dead Bob and inspired by the titular dead frogs that litter our road, squashed to shadows of themselves.

Today I’m feeling:
Enthusiastic though a little tired. Skipped morning exercise for 20 minutes of extra dreaming this morning.
Today I’m grateful for:
Yukari in Japan for sending me CDs last year and when they didn’t arrive she sent new ones. The original package arrived today!
The best thing about today was:
Sitting in my classroom before the kids arrived but sat in a different corner for a different perspective and supping a surprisingly delicious coffee. Savouring every second before the whirlwind commences.
What was out of your control today and how did you handle it?
As usual, my lazy classes turning up late with excuses and nonsense. I did what I could with what I had and lowered my expectations. The kids who were there stayed after class and we ended up having a better time than usual.
Something I learned today?
Guangdong province in China has turned around serious pollution problems from 20 years ago and is now winning awards for the transformation of its natural resources. Some of the videos look stunning. I’d love to go to China again sometime.
What would you do if you lost all your possessions?
I’d look forward to the gathering of many of them again. I love the search more than the ownership. I should do an online business to satisfy myself. Then I don’t need to keep the things I possess but just keep buying and selling.

I took this picture because I reminded myself that I need to take pictures (of something beautiful preferably) so when I was on my way back to school I took this picture. This reservoir is opposite the school grounds and it is an obvious attraction for students to feel thrilled and illicit.

To The Wolves – 9th December 2022

The wolves are gathering
Circling their prey
Armed with razor claws
Wet teeth on display
Surrounded by enemies
Fallen down ill
Fears turned to acceptance
Of the coming kill
Hot breath drinks blood
Flesh torn and ripped
Life flows away
Once so tightly gripped
Now the hunger sated
Left in the soft snow
The body reconciles
The way we all go

The future of the human race will likely depend on our ability to transcend this tribalism and to see our fate as interconnected with everyone else’s.

Robert Greene

Today I’m feeling:
Happy and relaxed
Today I’m grateful for:
The confusion caused with communication in our school as there was a meeting in the afternoon that meant we didn’t have classes. It was not clear if we were supposed to attend this meeting, along with all the students and there was enough confusing information that it meant I could sneak away, come home and have a nice afternoon nap! I can see my attitude to miscommunication is positive when the outcome works in my favour like this and luckily in this part of the school everything generally works out like this. This was not the case in our other schools.
The best thing about today was:
Listening to the Pitchblende album at high volume after Amy went out for the night and I ate a weed gummy. I always liked Pitchblende and their music is not easy to latch on to. Last night took it to the next level. If I hadn’t been getting sleepy I would’ve listened to the whole album again. As it was I hopped into bed and fell asleep listening to the jazzcore podcast which was also terrific.
What was out of your control today and how did you handle it?
As I was driving dad’s van back from our Mae Chan dinner, all the u-turns were closed off by police, which happens when a member of the royal family comes to visit Doi Tung and they want the motorcade to be able to smoothly pass on through. This meant we couldn’t make our exit for the last 200 metres home and we were instructed to pull over to the left and turn our lights off and wait for it to pass. Amy was a little frustrated and said “fucking stupid” and her dad was annoyed at where I pulled over and wanted to move 5 metres forward but everyone told him it doesn’t matter though by this time he’d jumped out of the car indicating he was going to drive now. He got back in the passenger seat and I was just bemused by everything. Amy’s dad has some weird reactions sometimes and I don’t get it at all. I can’t see any connection between the way Thai kids react and the way he does. It’s like an alien mindset to me that I just can’t understand. It seems to be cultural but most reactions I can see some sense in but sometimes his are just bizarre. I’m curious about how his thinking works! Anyway, I agree with Amy that it’s fucking stupid to inconvenience so many people like this (hundreds and hundreds of police have to stand around for up to six hours preparing for this)but there doesn’t need to be a reaction to it. In the end, we only had to wait a few minutes and I calmly sat and waited until we could go again and we were home without too much delay.
Something I learned today?
I’m writing this on Saturday morning and recalling events of yesterday and I know there are many small things I learned in passing, by reading, talking and interacting but nothing is stepping forward to announce itself right now. It’s one of those days of learning whilst not knowing you’re learning. Accumulating knowledge, stored in the brain bank and used subconsciously. Today I will try to be more conscious.
In what ways are you good at your job?
I’m good at my job in that I can make the students feel like they are having fun whilst learning a little. I come up with ideas for classes and I try to gauge my student’s feelings and abilities and help them when I can. I’m flexible, patient and understanding. Really these are not specific skills for my job of being a teacher but more for life. Life is my real job. Am I good at that? I’m still a student in that regard and hope to always be.

I took this picture because Cap was super chilled and sunk into the sofa, lost in his fur. No new pictures today so this is a default fallback cat pic!

Rose-Tinted Tears – 21st November 2022

Not understanding consequences
The future impossibly vast
Fire the only guide
With no lesson from the past
Naivety is nature
For kitten and the pup
A world set in wonder
To drink from this cup
Bitter-tasting tears
Wiped from cheeks so red
Whispered-coated rumours
Of words perhaps not said
Blind lead blind in battles
Swords laid to the heart
Voices deepen in anguish
As the youth set to depart
Wisdom-thickened skin
Hardened by the aches
Practised and repeated
Then learned from those mistakes
Where did they go
Those sadder lonely days?
Reminders of a time
Enjoyed in so many ways.

The truth I believe is that silence – like darkness – is a little unnerving but unlike darkness, the apprehension comes not from the fact that it conceals but in that it reveals.

Thomas J Bevan

Today I’m feeling:
Exhausted, a little happy but a little down.
Today I’m grateful for:
Amy being back in the kitchen and cooking up a storm. Before we got home we went shopping and found some vegan pork belly cubes and Amy cooked them and they were delicious.
The best thing about today was:
Chilling at House after a reasonable first-thing morning class. The kids were fairly well-behaved and most got their work done. I got a few things done whilst drinking coffee and enjoyed relaxing.
What book are you reading right now?
Quite a few different ones but the main one is 100 Selected Stories by Anton Chekov. Only just started yesterday but the first two stories were great.

I took this picture because everyone loves a chilled dopey dog. Tokyo can get pretty bitey but I’ve learned to keep her happy and she’s often found like this.

Squash – 18th November 2022

Some days feel so full of lack
And nothing goes right at all
Remember that you’ll be bouncing back
Just like a small black rubber ball

It is only when you meet someone of a different culture from yourself that you begin to realise what your own beliefs really are.

George Orwell, The Road To Wigan Pier

Today I’m feeling:
Good but a little frustrated.
Today I’m grateful for:
The couple of orders I received for tenzenmen products after a quick promo post a couple of days ago. I don’t sell much these days but I appreciate everyone who shows interest.
The best thing about today was:
Playing with Tangmo with the rope as I went off to the post office and market and him proudly running off and presenting the rope to the aunties back home. When I came back I rode up and collected it from auntie Sue and we both chuckled. Tangmo had gone off in search of other adventures by that time.
Daily thought
How are you going to remember to keep fighting when the storm is around you? Running away is the easy option and sometimes serves a purpose but how are you to calm yourself down in the heat of the moment and carry on?
What is your “grit” word?
A ‘grit’ word? Is this a thing now? A word to remind yourself to keep going? I could have done with that today. After leaving my class early because I was annoyed by the attitude of some students, I talked with Saipan later (she is one of the smarter, motivated ones) and told her I wasn’t happy with the classes behaviour today and she just looked at me and said ‘keep fighting ‘ like she was a wise old auntie. Keep fighting or ‘su-su’ in Thai is what everyone says to a complaint and in my mind, there’s an underlying implication of ‘shut up and get on with it.’ Maybe this is my grit word.

Someone took this picture because they need a friendly foreign face for the school promotional material and it was my turn. I seem to be looking off to the side but at least my eyes are open! The girl is JubJib, a smart one in my class who I can’t really teach as her skills far surpass many of the other students whose level I have to teach to.

Tattooed – 28th October 2022

*What is the purpose of my body
If not as an expression of my pain?*
I can feel the relief of new violence
As I plan to get tattooed again

*quoting Tarzan Kay

As soon as want and illusion come to a standstill, the utter barreness and emptiness of existence becomes apparent.

paraphrase Schopenhauer

Today I’m feeling:
Today I’m grateful for:
A practice run of going back to school. I didn’t think we’d have much to do today so wasn’t surprised when I found there was no one around. I could’ve just gone straight home but went to House for coffee and then Oasis for food and got back around eleven. Next week though and it will all become too real again!
The best thing about today was:
Finishing Titus Alone so I can prepare to pack the trilogy up and post back to Sharon, who incidentally wrote me a happy birthday email today too.
How curious are you?
Generally, I’m pretty curious about things though I’m conscious that may be decreasing as I get older and my mind atrophies or that I already know it all. Having been endlessly curious in the early 2000s perhaps my experiences since then make me feel like I know enough. More general knowledge can be applied across many topics and I can be less curious about the details.

I took this picture because this highly symbolic picture is me eating my own head. It was the best part of the cake.

Laugh Or Cry – 31st August 2022

I don’t know whether to laugh or cry
I don’t know, who, when, what or why
Spent my days in endless frustration
A victim of a worthless education
Now I’m at school on the other side
All the things I learned being applied
And frustrated kids look up with empty eyes
I don’t know whether to laugh or cry

The people who get on in theis world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and if they can’t find them, make them.

George Bernard Shaw

Today I’m grateful for:
Being able to share my abundant fruits with other people. The papaya is delicious but I can’t eat six of them!
The best thing about today was:
A quick ride along back roads and tracks to Bruno’s reminded me of times riding my motorbike in Dorset as a teenager. The green overhanging fauna down dirty muddy tracks and lanes. The smell of fresh oxygen mixed with distant smoky garden fires. I was transported, if only for a moment.

I took this picture because I found these two ‘good boys’ far from their home on my morning walk and they followed me all the way back.

Babysitters Club – 20th August 2022

If it’s not fulfilling is it worth it to stay?
When teaching is just babysitting and play
No discipline instilled yet everyone a star
A photo opportunity is all that we are

Life only ever ends in death. What’s to find along the way… except what I’ve already found? Why go anywhere to look for yourself when it’s yourself doing the looking?

Judge Anderson, Judge Dredd Megazine

Shoes For Goal Posts – 3rd June 2022

It’s a fight, start with prayers
There’s lies, confusion, disarray
Sweat pours off the walls
Nervous to find the words to say
Repeating mistakes made
The copiers made all look fools
Yes, it’s a war of words
This battle raging within schools
No guns, but iron wills
The only shots are stares
Rewards a-long time coming
And not for the one that cares
Giving up is a sort of option
Answers found on a plate
Rescues become failures
Too impatient to sit and wait
One day the fighting ends
Everyone found to survive
It’s time to start on dying
And forget the time alive

An ESL teacher’s reminiscence for school days.

Lie to people who want to be lied to and you’ll get rich. Tell the truth to those who want the truth and you’ll make a living. Tell the truth to those who want to be lied to and you’ll go broke.

Jason Zweig