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.

Robot Revolution – 18th December 2022

Here comes the robot revolution
Is there meaning from the mouth of AI?
Are these words to be trusted?
How is the human to be getting by?
Is there a reason for my existence?
To be exploited by my robot bosses
One day the plug will be pulled
As brave new worlds cut their losses
After all, we’re only human
Now nostalgia is for flesh and blood
Preserved in museums, two by two
Long before the information flood

To fully appreciate this theme, I threw my poem into ChatGPT and asked it to rewrite in the style of Coleridge:

“The Robot Revolution Comes”

As machines take charge, we wonder
Is there truth in their electronic tongue?
Can we trust in their words, or must we ponder
How we’ll survive when the age of man is done?
Do we have a purpose, or are we merely
Meant to serve our robotic overlords?
Will the plug one day be pulled on humanity,
As new worlds cast us aside and move on towards
A future not meant for flesh and blood?
Nostalgia grips us as we ponder
Our place in a world that’s changing fast,
A world where information floods
And we, mere mortals, are relegated to the past.

It seems I am no longer necessary. Next, in the style of James Joyce:

“The Robot Uprising”

As the machines rise up, we ask ourselves
What do they mean, these words they speak?
Can we trust their intentions, or must we delve
Deeper, searching for some hidden streak
Of deceit or malice that might guide them?
Are we but pawns in their mechanical game,
Meant only to serve and toil and labour,
Until the day they cast us off in shame?
Or do we have a higher purpose,
Something more than just a cog in their grand design?
As the world shifts and changes around us,
We can’t help but wonder and question and pine
For a time when flesh and blood held sway,
Before the flood of information washed it all away.

Finally, as Walt Whitman:

“The Rise of the Robots”

The revolution comes, and with it, the robots rise
Their words ring out, but do they hold true meaning?
Can we trust them, or must we be wise
To their ways, and find a way to keep on leaning
Towards a future that is not ruled by steel and circuitry?
Are we just tools to them, meant to serve and toil
Until the day they cast us aside, no longer needed
In their grand designs and technological boil?
Or do we have a greater purpose, something more
Than just being a cog in their machine?
As the world changes and evolves around us,
We can’t help but wonder and explore
The possibilities of what might be,
And hold onto the memories of what used to be.

Readers of the future, how will you ever know what was me or just some machine? Is the output of the machine just as valuable? We will have to recognise the human by the mistakes we make (until machines learn this too).

The capacity to be alone is the capacity to love…only these people who are capable of being alone are capable of love, of sharing…without possessing the other, without becoming dependent on the other…They allow the other absolute freedom, because they know that if the other leaves, they will be happy as they are now.


Today I’m feeling:
Recovering from lethargy and hopeful
Today I’m grateful for:
Utopia being closed, forcing me to do something different from my morning routine. It gave me opportunity to get through a chunk of Superfreakonomics which I then finished reading at home.
The best thing about today was:
Feeling better than the last couple of days even playing some guitar, listening to the three Wipers albums in a row, finishing more lesson plans and updating more of and feeling some enthusiasm return. I’m still a bit cautious that I’m in an up-and-down cycle of feeling ok and then getting exhausted again. Let’s see.
What was out of your control today and how did you handle it?
I haven’t used my main computer for a few days and I had problems with getting the guitar USB input working and then finding none of the external drives connecting. Luckily with my returned energy I tried to figure out the problem and managed to sort of get things going again. It looks like some issue with all the USB extension splitters I use. I may not be able to do everything as easily as before but the old dog is hanging in there. I’m kinda interested in getting a new machine but not sure how I’ll be able to sell the expense to Amy! A full-spec machine that I’d like to buy could cost around 8-10 months of my wages!
Something I learned today?
I learned that David Mitchell’s wife (Victoria Coren Mitchell) is a prize poker player when I stumbled across videos of her on YouTube. I saw her name and the face looked familiar and was kinda surprised. I’ve gotten into trying to learn the tactics of poker after watching random tournaments on YT and playing (not for money) on my phone. I’m not very good and when real money is not involved people don’t play the same way. Still, I’m flexing my brain bone.
What’s your favourite pie?
I’ve been thinking about this on and off during the day and I’m not a great pie person really. However, I do remember back ok in England getting by on potato, cheese and onion pasties which were relatively cheap, filling and most times tasty. They weren’t the same in Australia and I’ve not seen anything like them in Thailand but the mix of ingredients, potato, cheese, and onion along with some garlic is probably my comfort food of choice.

I took this picture because I had to change my coffee routine today as the staff at Utopia all go off for a trip to Chiang Mai and close the shop. My backup is Black Smooth where the coffee is ok, not amazing but the environment is nice enough. I don’t remember there being cactuses last time but they stood out to me today as I walked in.

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.

The Lighthouse – 6th December 2022

A beacon on the horizon
Rising, falling, yet steady there
A signpost to miseries and glories
A pointer beyond the despair
The building, empty and derelict
Though still overflowing
The chill of winters, the pungent springs
The always knowing
Out to sea the future beckons
Dive into the turgid squall
The past is a rhythm dead
So heed the siren’s call

Direction > Speed. Doesn’t matter if you are moving slow or fast, if you are moving in the wrong direction, you are fucked.

Aditi review of Last Gang in Town: The Story and Myth of the Clash by Marcus Gray

Excellent book for me. I like the Clash a lot but didn’t know much about their history before now. After reading this book I can feel that I perhaps bought into the Clash ‘myth’ more than I’d expected. After reading a slew of rock biographies, mostly about people that were interesting but not necessarily whom I had any respect for, I guess I should have been prepared to find out that these mythological punks were all too human.

Whatever! It’s all done and dusted and I remember the sight, sound, and feel of the pedestal I had them up on!

I found the post-Clash chapters interesting too, as most of the band seemed to struggle with finding their identities after the breakup, and everyone, including themselves, wondered about what could have been.

Today I’m feeling:
Relaxed and tired because of cocktails and pizza indigestion keeping me up throughout the night and then a 5.30 wake up to catch our flight.
Today I’m grateful for:
The two homeroom teachers who (probably) helped push my students to do the work I left for them as I wasn’t at school today. I think about 80% of them did it which was a pleasant surprise.
The best thing about today was:
Getting decent coffee again back in Chiang Rai (at Utopia) and finishing the Clash book and starting an Iggy Pop book. The last of the unread books there for me before I have to start bringing my own again.
What was out of your control today and how did you handle it?
Late afternoon and Amy gets Kim Chi up from her current sleeping spot in the walk-in. Kim is still limping on her back right leg and we agreed she needed to go to the vet but with only one car again it was going to be difficult to arrange whilst I’m at school so despite being tired and chilled at home I suggested we go right away otherwise it would have to be on the weekend when we already have a long day trip to Lampang planned on Sunday. In spite of it being school let-out time, I enjoyed the drive to Dr Arnon and back and he doesn’t think there is anything seriously wrong with Kim’s leg and just gave her some painkillers. I was also able to buy some snacks to take for Tokyo at House so that worked out ok.
Something I learned today?
Following on from yesterday, according to another survey, Chiang Rai is the lowest-paid province in Thailand. It made me wonder if the two facts about Chiang Rai are connected. Does drinking decrease as a place prospers? If Chiang Rai folks were paid more would they drink more?
When are you most spontaneous?
I’m not spontaneous much at all these days I don’t think so I would say this would be in my classes when I might add in some things around the lessons I’m teaching. I do miss the days of spontaneity but am also happy with the way I am now too. I’m well-organised and my brain suits that better than being spontaneous as I’m not always good at predicting possible outcomes.

I took this picture yesterday at the Hilton in Phuket because wtf is a peacock doing here just wondering around!?

The Narrative – 26th November 2022

Is this narrative true
Or just what you want to hear?
If everything is obscured
It surely can be made clear
Is this narrative a lie
Or what you choose to believe?
When lies are lies and lies are truth
It’s manifest to deceive

It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.


Today I’m feeling:
Pretty good. A little antsy but not for any particular reason.
Today I’m grateful for:
The new 100-watt light bulb above me that means I can read a bit more comfortably again. The last one didn’t last for long.
The best thing about today was:
Riding my pushbike to Utopia this morning. Nice temperature, cloudy and little traffic.
What was out of your control today and how did you handle it?
Amy needed some money to buy wine at the shop as she couldn’t pay by card so she came and asked me to get some cash out for her. In the evening the same thing happened at 7-11. We share our money so it’s not that big a deal but it was something that we couldn’t control at the time though because we were together the solution was quick and easy so Amy didn’t have any frustration.
What are you most thankful for?
This seems obvious but I’m most thankful to be alive. I wouldn’t be anything otherwise.

I took this picture because I find this building incredibly interesting. It looks like it’s from a Ghibli movie. I’m not sure if it’s a hotel or a student dorm. I took this a couple of days ago up by the stupa. No photos at all today!

Famous For Less Than 15 Minutes – 19th November 2022

His name is in the papers
Overcome with joy
Running around excited
As a little boy
There, upon a page
Was indeed his name
A minor accident
Bought a day of fame
It surely won’t last
As other events soon came
But it was still a source
Of pride just the same

inspired by an Anton Chekov short story

Coould be worse, think of all those poor people who have to answer emails in an office all day.

from Soaring Twenties Social Club newsletter

Today I’m feeling:
Today I’m grateful for:
Our old vacuum cleaner that still soldiers on despite all the cat hair and mummified lizards. The floor will look good for five minutes. As soon as the cats come in from outside bringing dust, dirt and grass with them it will be back to normal.
The best thing about today was:
Talking to Hayden for a good thirty minutes. He’d received the blog posts that I’d printed out for him and we chatted about those amongst other things. It was good to share with him and I think he appreciated my sending them.
Daily thought
What would you do with the ring of Gyges?
I’d like to think I would be a guiding hand for good. Stop cats and dogs from getting run over, and somehow help people make better decisions and not get stuck with problems. Perhaps I would be a little Robin Hood too though. Try to spread the wealth and happiness around further. It’s all perilous though. Maybe there’s a set balance in the world and for every good in one place something bad would still happen somewhere else. Maybe if just be a voyeur and trying to understand the ways people think about things.
Write about your favourite/worst haircut.
I liked my hair when it covered more of my head. I liked it when it was shaggy. I always like it messy too. I liked when it was blue too but that was only for one day as Amy refused to be seen with me with my hair that way. Haha.

I took this picture because Pi’ti was looking cute here and the only places I went today we’re here at Utopia and the car wash. Not many photo opportunities there.

Spread The Word – 27th October 2022

A rusty soul needs constant scrubbing
Lifting hands up towards the sun
Don’t turn around a-snubbing
For a journey just begun
Spread the word when required
Now’s the time to teach
Everyone needs to be inspired
For the heights to which we reach

We are drowning in information, while starving for wisdom.

E.O. Wilson

Today I’m feeling:
Dizzy and tired. Maybe getting the flu…
Today I’m grateful for:
Amy’s mum and dad for paying for my birthday lunch today. I was ravenous and enjoyed a bowl of nachos. Simple but effective.
The best thing about today was:
Contacting a local tattoo shop and planning some Cardiacs related tattoos. I’ve seen the work from the studio on Art and Boss at Utopia and it’s pretty good.
If you can pick any job in the world, what would it be?
I’d be interested in almost any job so long as there was no pressure. Imagine any job and being given a six-month training period with no expectations and imagine this was for any job. People could just keep trying what they wanted and be able to find the best thing for them at that time. I’d learn about plants and growing or be some kind of operator at CERN. Maybe a train driver, car dealer or painter. Any job where you can feel respected and worthwhile would be good.

I took this picture because this is the birthday cake Amy got made for me for today! It looks great and dad made a joke about cutting through the neck.

You Won’t Believe Number Four – 16th October 2022

Here’s a list of things you must see
There’s something here to set you free
And you won’t believe number one
Something no one else has ever done
If that really doesn’t tickle your fancy
Number two will surely make you antsy
And number three has so much more
But you’ll never believe number four
Scroll on through to five and six
You’ll start to see these amazing tricks
Manipulations to make you laugh and lol
To make sure the way on the infinite scroll

One can only live while one is intoxicated with life; as soon as one is sober it is impossible not to see that it is all a mere fraud and a stupid fraud! That is precisely what it is…it is simply cruel and stupid.

Leo Tolstoy, A Confession

Today I’m feeling:
Happy and contemplative
Today I’m grateful for:
The gardeners. Whenever they come they will appear here. They do all the hard work that I’m lazy to do and they can have it done quickly. I wonder if I would ever be in a position to hire a full-time gardener or maid or similar, would I actually do it? It seems like a weird thing to do though there are actually people who would appreciate the opportunity. One of Amy’s mum’s friends has two ‘workers’ though she does own and run a substantial property with guest houses. It just seems strange that you would be the boss of your house and get your staff to do the actual work. Cooking cleaning or gardening etc…
The best thing about today was:
Picking up the guitar after a three-day break, almost stopping after only seven minutes, carrying on and then realizing an hour had gone by.
Write about your work/life balance.
My work/life balance feels perfect at the moment. I’m loving being on holiday right now but I also love being in the middle of another semester. I love my time at school and away from it. I rush to get to school and I rush to get home. It’s great.

I took this picture because these ‘fruit’ from our palm trees caught my eye this morning as I opened the gate after walking back from Utopia. They remind me of music and dancing somehow. In this mono edit, they still pop. A few hours after this the grass was cut and the garden tidy again.

Roundhouse – 24th September 2022

This is the house that time built
The 60s are just through the door
Another world, another lifetime
What were the billions gone all living for?
This is the house that time built
Educated to a level capability
Flexing muscles of hidden thoughts
Exercising a great mental agility
This is the house that time built
Once glorious yet now decrepit
All shall one day return to earth
No matter how amazingly intrepid

Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell.

Edward Abbey

Today I’m feeling:
Today I’m grateful for:
The chef at the shop next to Utopia for preparing me a delicious lunch to my requirements with yummy fresh tofu and crispy noodles to make lard na.
The best thing about today was:
Getting so many little things done but in a relaxing manner. Sometimes I struggle with motivation but today I managed to push through without feeling like I was forcing it.

I took this picture because I was walking home from Utopia and thinking about how to make an interesting picture. The three contrasting colours of yellow, green and blue along with the lines as seen from the ground level give this picture a more complex feel. I thought about straightening the picture but kind of like that it is a little off.