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:
Happy
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.

Vienna 180 A.D. – 27th December 2022

Push the barbarians back
To the river banks
Left alive for one day
To practice giving thanks
Soon ends the reign of one
Another body left vacated
Remembered then forgotten
The future we’re all fated


You can only know the good life if you know yourself. Facts won’t ever help you be happy. Unless that fact is ‘I know who I am.’

Timothy, Musings on Self-Education

Today I’m feeling:
Reasonably happy
Today I’m grateful for:
The vet for checking Tigger and his skin problem. He’s got some fungal skin infection that makes blisters though he doesn’t seem to care about it at all. I’m also grateful I had free time to be able to take him this afternoon and drop Amy at her parents too. Also grateful that on advising that I would have to take Thursday off to go to Lampang got told that there are no classes anyway so it’s not a problem.
The best thing about today was:
Again, helping some of my poorer students with some reading. It makes me happy to see them try and to slowly improve themselves. I could tell that one student, Pin, was particularly happy to complete reading the text after a long struggle.
What was out of your control today and how did you handle it?
Waking up in the morning and finding out that Amy’s uncle passed away during the night and that meant changes to our plans which we couldn’t be sure about at that time and would decide during the day. So when I got home Amy said the funeral would be on Thursday and that we will go but I told her that I had to be at school, I had to teach and also I’d taken two days off recently to help with other things so taking another day was gonna be a little bit difficult. Anyway, I sent a message to Kru Mai saying that I would have to go to the funeral in Lampang and I would organise work for the kids to do in my absence. Luckily he replied that Thursday was going to be New Year’s activities and there were no classes anyway so everything was fine. Now I just have to prepare myself for a six-hour round-trip drive on Thursday.
Something I learned today?
Earn didn’t come to school today because she was ‘heartbroken’ over some unrequited love and she had video-called to her friends and I talked with her a little but it was too noisy in the class to understand. Later I talked with her friends and they all said that she is not strong which I found surprising because she comes across as quite independent and strong-willed. I sent her a message to not let her happiness depend on other people and she said she was ok now, was over it and would be back in school tomorrow. The troubles of the heart! Haha, so easily brushed off at this age.
Have you ever had surgery? What for?
Only minor surgery. I had a vasectomy when I was 42 or thereabouts. Then, about seven years ago I’d hurt my elbows from repetitive strain due to making coffee. A specialist recommended taking out a part of the tendon in my wrist, doing some magic with it and then injecting it back into my elbows. I can’t remember the procedure name and I have to say it didn’t really work but I did discover the wonders of tramadol as a post-surgery painkiller. I’d never felt better! My elbows remain an issue and my coffee-making career was done.

I took this picture because Amy had to go and stay at her parent’s house to take care of grandma as her mum and dad went to Lampang because uncle passed away yesterday and they will help arrange things. As well as taking care of grandma she had to walk Leo who is just bursting with energetic excitement he dragged Amy along on his walk. He slobbers and is smelly, I had to change my clothes when I got home.

In This House – 26th December 2022

The open door
Inviting

Fresh air and
Foreigners

(Presents under the
Tree)

Coffee fills this
Place

Two cups then
Go

*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.

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.

Recognition Of Reality – 22nd December 2022

Am I sitting down yet?
Are my feet touching the floor?
No recognition of reality
Is it worth existing anymore
Am I breathing air?
Is blood pumping through my veins?
No recognition of a life itself
No usefulness remains

*inspired by a story from Seneca


You determine the quality of your mind by the nature of your daily thoughts.

Robert Greene, Daily Laws

Today I’m feeling:
Happy but a little on edge
Today I’m grateful for:
Our air fryer which nicely cooked the Hainan ginger fake chicken I ate for dinner with rice and cucumber (to counter the hot chilli sauce dressing). Amy has made me 3 servings to freeze for when she has gone too. I suppose I could learn to use the fryer too but I just don’t bother cooking by myself.
The best thing about today was:
Undoubtedly, both my classes which I took a very relaxed attitude towards whilst still having the kids semi-engaged with activities. Even the kids that get annoyed with me did some work and seemed to enjoy what we were doing. Some days I love them all. Today was one of those days. Tomorrow should be too. One class making Christmas cards and another two just doing online quizzes and then it’s the weekend again (finally – last night I thought it would be Friday today until I realised it wouldn’t and felt the energy drain out of me!)
What was out of your control today and how did you handle it?
Amy is grumpy today, maybe PMT, so I’m trying to not bite at her and let it pass. I’m not always successful and she got angry when I misheard her about something and reacted badly. I let it blow over and apologised for misunderstanding and just tried to carry on as if nothing happened. I don’t think we’ll have good communication for the rest of the night, so let it lie and wake up tomorrow to a brand new sunny day, or at least we get to start again.
Something I learned today?
Hayden has Covid again. Hopefully, it’s not as bad as the first time and he recovers soon. I messaged Ellen too, who I haven’t been in contact with for about six months and since China relaxed their lockdown policy a couple of weeks ago, she and many of her clients got Covid too. I think China’s tough covid policy was the best way to deal with it and hopefully, now the virus is weaker there will be fewer deaths from infections. It’s amazing to me that other countries didn’t take it as seriously.
What tattoo do you want and where would you put it?
The next tattoo I get will be some Cardiacs lyrics on my right calf. I also want to get a Boognish tattoo but not quite sure where yet. Still thinking about the weird Trumans Water Spasm Smash cover too.

I took this picture because there’s spiders living in the trees!

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:
Exhausted
Today I’m grateful for:
Amy got bitten badly by Tokyo at House this morning but I’m grateful that we could get to a hospital easily and get it looked at and also get a rabies injection. I’m also grateful that I was able to quickly reschedule my day and take a day off from school to help Amy.
The best thing about today was:
Getting well wishes from my students for Amy and also them doing the work that I assigned them.
What was out of your control today and how did you handle it?
Dogs are out of my control and I didn’t take into account that whilst Tokyo is happy with me there are other people she is just aggressive towards. I felt like it was my fault that Amy got bitten because I gave her some food to give to Tokyo but unfortunately, Tokyo already thinks it is hers and so bit Amy to get it back. I quickly decided to take care of Amy rather than go to school.
For the last three nights, I’ve had less than seven hours sleep and it caught up with me. By the time we got home at lunchtime, I hit the bed for almost six hours. I’m still tired now at 9pm. This is one of my catch-up days where I get little done. I’m more accepting of the fact that these days come now and then.
Something I learned today?
Dogs be dogs.

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.

Bubbles and Beans – 13th December 2022

Comfort is the refuge of the petty man
Trudging along without a plan
Distracted by familiar patterns seen
You’re a human doing not a human being
Can you find within your space
A place without a human trace?
Quiet the symbols and the words
Talk to the rocks and the birds


The concept of greatness entails being noble, wanting to be by oneself, being able to be different, standing alone and having to live independently.

Nietzsche

Today I’m feeling:
Ok, mellow enough
Today I’m grateful for:
Nong Nam and Nong Aoi for testing my patience today. I asked them to do something in class and they refused so I asked them to leave, to which they immediately complied. It was a little comical but it was good that they just left. Better for everyone.
The best thing about today was:
I got home early again and went off for a bike ride with Bruno and we actually ended up at the place we intended for once. When we got there there was a big building and a sign for the area: ‘Non-Hunting Area’. It was the end of the road and we were kind of interested to walk up the mountain a bit behind the building. It seemed we disturbed the people ‘working’ there as the five or six dogs they had came running and barking. I have no idea what these people do there and I’m pretty sure we woke most of them up!
After a few minutes, the dogs settled down and we talked with ‘the boss’ for a bit, who suggested coming in the morning time when it’s more pretty. The dogs started sniffing and licking around us and had now become very curious and friendly. They were well-kept and beautiful.
It was a quick and nice ride all-in-all, through the valley and to the edge of the mountain. Another little part of the area explored.
What was out of your control today and how did you handle it?
Last night I slept very poorly though it was mostly a case of being uncomfortable and tossing and turning through the night the result of which had me expecting to feel very tired today. To try to ward this off though I stood in front of the bathroom mirror and told myself I was feeling good and I would feel good all day. I knew I had two classes and planned to go for a ride in the afternoon, which I could have easily blown off if I wanted to rest but somehow today I felt a little more motivated and wanted to try to overcome this recent lethargy.
Something I learned today?
I learned from Bruno what a tapioca tree looks like and that under each tree can be a great number of large tubers from which a few different things can be made. When I was little my mum used to make tapioca pudding for me and for some reason as Bruno was talking about these tubers I was imagining them to be full of tapioca pearls which simply fell out of it. I realised my stupidity once I saw a picture of a cut tuber though! Duh! Apparently, they are easy to grow and of course, as soon as we rode around a bit we saw them everywhere.

I took this picture because I had had enough of two of my students who were rude and disrespectful to me in class (see above) so I told them to get out. I was upset with them but I wasn’t in a bad mood and I laughed even more when another student (Jet) handed this drawing to me.

Crooked Smile – 8th December 2022

Is he laughing at or with?
The thief of dreams
Time was never his to give
Stolen in extremes
The folly of wasted youth
The crooked smile beams
Dirty with the truth
Liew, scrubs and cleans


The media never met a potential apocalypse it didn’t like.

from Superfreakonomics

Today I’m feeling:
Happy
Today I’m grateful for:
The National Geographic English textbooks the school somehow obtained and I’ve been able to use in one of my classes and figured a way to push 4 of the better students by giving them higher graded books. I hope it pushes them a little.
The best thing about today was:
Playing, teaching and having fun in class, trying to motivate them and helping them find the correct answers to questions and seeing their faces light up when they get it. They may forget it by tomorrow but in those brief moments, I feel like I may be a legitimate teacher!
What was out of your control today and how did you handle it?
A few of my smart students in one class were very distracted by having their phones and I’ve noticed them slacking off a bit lately, just copying work and not really attempting to learn. Instead of getting angry or upset I talked to them after the class and let them know that I was aware of their changed behaviour and was a little disappointed by it. They looked a little sheepish as expected and I’ll have to wait and see if it has any impact. I’m pleased with myself that I kept calm this time.
Something I learned today?
From listening to the Oh Brother podcast I learned that the curmudgeonly Mark E Smith always returned his empty pint glasses to the bar. It reminds me that I usually clean up after myself in the cafes I go to when I’m finished and I wonder if I’m also a curmudgeon and this is my small act to show others that I may be a good human after all.
Are you going to do something exciting?
One would hope so…. But…. I’m not very exciting these days. Chiang Rai is not particularly exciting and it’s all suiting me just fine. I kinda miss being excited but with highs come lows and I prefer to avoid the lows. If Amy starts a business here then that will be kinda exciting. Is it stress that gives me excitement? Organising a SEA tour would be exciting but it’s the stress, the heightened awareness, the lack of sleep etc combined that holds me in awe. So, it seems the answer may be no, or, kinda….

I took this picture because this little innocuous waterfall sits outside the school cafe and I walk by it every day, noticing it but never really looking at it so today I stopped for a second to enjoy it.

Blues Understanding – 7th December 2022

Confront suffering
By making peace with the world
Whilst fighting against it
Embrace it wholeheartedly

Structure, inseparable
Death and suffering
Within lies freedom
The contradictory idea

Accept injustice as real
And never stop fighting against it
Every path is correct
With the blues understanding


Your complicated parts are your best parts. They are what make you interesting and special.

Tarzan Kay

Today I’m feeling:
Happy
Today I’m grateful for:
Google Drive and being able to store my files for lessons there and then to adapt them to suit my schedule and plans. Having this in place has made life more flexible for me and waste less of my precious time.
The best thing about today was:
Being back in the classroom, into the thick of it, enjoying what little control I have over my students. I’m sometimes surprised they ever listen to me at all. A good start to a three-day week for me.
What was out of your control today and how did you handle it?
I discovered about ten of my students did nothing for my class yesterday and when I discovered that they had the ability to do it but just that they didn’t even bother I was a little frustrated. In the end, I pushed, prodded and encouraged them and tried to show them that with a little effort, they could achieve more. I didn’t let frustration overwhelm me.
Something I learned today?
I learned that Nay at House is 30 years old though she could still get away for 19. With her poor English and my poor Thai, we used Gui as a translator and expressed our opposing opinions on fair and tan skin and our reasons for them. No deep insights from this exchange or anything standing out especially today though I’m trying to force myself to recall things that I have read in previous 24-hour periods and finding it a struggle. I was desperately trying to remember the Chekhov story I read last night which inspired me at the time and eluded me today. Coincidentally, it loosely ties in with today’s prompt about earliest memories as the story, Grisha, was about seeing the world through the eyes of a toddler.
Write about your earliest memory.
I’m not sure about my age with some of my memories but they revolve around being maybe from 4 to 8 years old in Whitehaven and I have a few different memories from then and can’t pinpoint which would be the earliest. I also know that I lived in a small hamlet called Blencogo before Whitehaven and I have a vague recollection of the house and garden there but can’t be certain I’m getting them mixed up with other memories, including one when visiting around that area in my mid-20s. I will write more about my early memories at some point.

I took this picture because this is student Amy being smart and thinking that no one will be upset by giving the wrong finger. I threatened to show her mum but she said she was not scared of her mum, so I said I’ll show her dad who I have met before and she was a bit more concerned about that! It was all in good fun though and Amy has grown up a little in the last few months and is very capable of doing my work.

The Nothing Special – 2nd December 2022

Those were the days of Terry and Bruce
Ran the airwaves without ever getting loose
It’s the holidays, it’s eight o’clock
It’s time for Nothing Special to rock
A variety of nondescript acts
A poor mans reading of ridiculous facts
There’s nothing special about Christmas this year
So Nothing Special is watched without fear
The boring boredom of the everyday
Made Nothing Special special in some way
Rolling out the favourites as if to assume
This is what people wanted to consume

There was something comforting about holiday TV in the UK in the 70s and 80s. Banal family entertainment that will never live on in memory. In those days there was not much entertainment to choose from though now I feel we suffer from having too many choices. Is this simply a function of growing old?

I’d written down ‘Nothing Special’ earlier but forgotten why and ended up thinking about TV ‘specials’ of the past instead.


We make each other alive. Does it matter if it hurts?

Ingmar Bergman

Today I’m feeling:
Happy and relaxed
Today I’m grateful for:
Thailand having yet another holiday on Monday, which I only found out about today. We had already planned to be in Phuket until Tuesday anyway but this means I only have to take one day of leave.
The best thing about today was:
Nong Fah came to class and gave me a Chupa Chup for no particular reason at all. I was pleasantly surprised and appreciative. All my students were in a reasonable mood today which made the day go well for all of us.
What was out of your control today and how did you handle it?
I realised when I went to pay for coffee this morning that an automatic payment had come out of my bank rather than Paypal and I only had 32 baht left. When Amy asked me to pick up some food I had to ask her to transfer me money and I’d also ordered some books from Bangkok that I had to apologise that I couldn’t pay for yet and hoped they hold for me. The day we get paid seems to vary from month to month. Sometimes on the first or fourth or within two or three days on either side. It’s a little annoying I don’t have money as we leave for Phuket tomorrow. I’ll be living out of Amy’s wallet for a few days.
Who do you envy?
I don’t think I envy a whole person particularly, perhaps not even envy at all. If there are specific traits that I might envy in people I’ve learned to accept my lack of ability and realise that everything is in accordance as it should be. As I envy so might others envy me.

I took this picture a long time ago. It was actually a video and I just found it again today and took a screen capture as this lightning bug’s tummy flashed on.