My First attempt at a Video Blog…

Happy Tuesday to one and all wherever in the world this finds you, whether it be morning, noon, or night. I thought i’d take a stab at doing a video blog just as a little creative experiment. I realized after I got it recorded that i look terrible, and I’m always reminded just how very “gay” I really am when i see myself on video. However, I’m going to go out on a limb and show you guys anyways just to see if anyone is interested. So without any further ramblings please go ahead and have a watch if you feel so inclined. Much much thanks for stopping by as always,and talk to you again soon!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!!!

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A big warm Happy St. Patrick’s Day to one and all from the city of Angels here in Thailand. I was sitting here trying to think of something creative and thoughtful to write about the holiday, but i must confess that I’m just not feeling that inspired by the luck of the Irish this evening. St. Patrick’s Day is a holiday that I don’t really remember having big celebrations for growing up in rural Alabama, despite the heavy Irish background in my family’s history. Though I’m certainly not going to put my last name out here for the world to see, I can assure you that my last name is VERY Irish as some of you will know already. However, we did celebrate it today with the kiddies at school and I had on my green to avoid being pinched by the other foreign teachers.

Actually, the thing I thought of that I wanted to talk about today is age and health. I heard two different people on two different programs talking about age and health related issues twice today, so it naturally got me thinking about my own age and health. Firstly, I was listening to one of my favorite podcasters on my ipod on the way home from work, and one of the things he talked about was how life changes when your birthdays move beyond 30. When I was in my twenties I spend all my free time going out, and It made me stir crazy if I had to sit at home an entire evening with nothing to do. I wouldn’t have been caught dead at home on a Saturday night cause I couldn’t stand thought of missing something, no matter what that may have been. However, when the days, months and years of my life started to slip beyond 30 things changed. These days I much prefer to be at home than any where else in the world, and I actually look forward to spending the entire weekend at home being lazy and catching up on not much to do. Age has caused me to lose the desire to be out running the streets, and I honestly wouldn’t have it any other way.

However, another problem age has caused affects my health and I’ve really started to be concerned about it lately. I don’t eat any different, and I do the same routine at the gym, yet I seem to have gained weight. I heard on television tonight that our bodies really start to age after 30, and that it is important to work harder to keep in shape. It seems unfair though doesn’t it? I had all that extra energy to burn in my twenties, but nowadays I’d rather have an afternoon nap than spend a couple of hours sweating to the oldies at the gym. My partner keeps trying to get me involved in doing aerobics, but I’ve been resisting thus far. Maybe I’m just a bore, but the thought of being the only white face dancing about with a group of Thai girls in front of a plate glass window just doesn’t appeal to me. However, I must admit to you my faithful readers that I’m about treadmill and stair mastered to death. So who knows, right? The next time you pass the gym keep your eye open for the foreigner out of step, stumbling over the step bench. So in closing, as always make sure you have a great week ahead where ever you are in the world and how ever this finds you!

Surprise Holidays and Copy Cats…

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Happy Thursday folks!  I’m going to go ahead and warn you now that this is going to be one of those random though/self analysis sort of posts so who knows where this will go.  Firstly, I ended up with a surprise week off since we had a minor drama unfold at work first thing Monday morning.  We were having our annoyingly boring little administrative morning meeting and we got a phone call that 2 of our students had come down with hand, foot, and mouth.  Now, don’t jump to conclusions…this is nothing like mad cow disease or anything and apparently it is common amongst schools with large numbers of young children.  You get these flu like symptoms and spots like you have measles on your hands and feet.  Also, you get ulcer like blisters in your mouth, and the last time it swept through the school i got it as well.  It is HIGHLY contagious sooooo, after learning we had more than 5 cases we quickly moved to close the school for a week.  It can be dangerous for young kids, so better to shut down and let it pass.  Therefore, Tom got a surprise week off work!

Sooooo, I had meant to sit down this week and pound out a final copy of my research proposal for Grad schoo.  However, I’ve been to busy being as lazy as possible to accomplish anything productive.  I did at least manage the gym every day, so at least the week hasn’t been a complete loss thus far.  Which reminds me of something I wanted to talk about with you today.  I noticed a commercial on the train coming home for a new Thai movie coming to theaters soon.   I made a mental note to mention it today in my blog because it is something that slightly irks me.  It is a Thai movie about eccentric, comical pirates and I noticed some various low budget scenes from the movie trailer with giant squid and crabs.  The set, scenery, and costumes were blatantly copied from another blockbuster pirate trilogy which recently sailed through the box office earning millions.

Thais have to be the world’s best copy cats.  Let me give you another example that comes to mind.  I remember going to a Thai theater production a while back that was supposed to be an “amazing” and creative in dealing with gay life and culture.  There were big billboards around town for it, and some very famous Thai celebrities were even cast in leading roles for it.  So, I went with my ex to see it and all they had done was make a Thai theater version of the movie Love! Valour! and Compassion! which was written and released in the States in 1997.  There were some very slight changes, but they kept the same plot, characters, and I even recognized familiar scenes from the script.

I guess I blame the education system here for this phenomenon as Thai students are not taught to think creatively.  Children are not encouraged to think outside the box in traditional schooling, and most learning here occurs much the same way a mother bird feeds a baby bird.  It is considered rude here to question anyone older or an authority figure so Thai students will sit in class looking at you like they are following along able to understand, but not.  They are quite, and respectful, but rarely ask questions to extend their grasp of the subject being learned at hand.  You can see it here in all aspects of society.  Healthy debate is discouraged and ridiculed, and thus creativity is often stamped out at an early age.  Now, I say all this in general of course as there are of course exceptions.  I know some very creative Thai people, and thus there are those that do well in spite of the system, as opposed to growing because of the system.  Well, I think that is more than enough rambling for today, so i’m going to head off and try to get some school work done.  Love to everyone and will write again over the weekend!

Hangover and Cardio Thoughts…

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So, I wasn’t going to blog tonight but i’m feeling a bit bored what with World of Warcraft down for its usual Tuesday maintenance stuff (I know, I know….don’t cringe). This is going to be one of those random chain of thoughts sort of blog posts, so if your looking for a witty focused perspective on some random topic then stop reading and I’ll catch you next time.

I had a whirlwind weekend last Friday and Saturday as another one of my old friends from Brisbane,Australia was in town. Therefore, I naturally felt obligated to make sure I spent the weekend making sure his vacation was as fun as possible. Unfortunately, for my liver and lungs it consisted of two nights of smoking and drinking in bars as that’s the sort of entertainment this particular friend prefers. Not that i resisted a whole lot though! We had a really fun weekend though, but I’ve discovered that i’m just not able to keep up with the partying like I used too. I’ve learned from experience in recent times that anything more than a night of light drinks leads to a day of suffering on the sofa under a comforter.

Yet another thing i’m starting to learn about the unkindness of age is that it seems to be getting easier to pick up those extra pounds/kilos and harder to work them off again. I’m still doing the same sort of cardio at the gym that i’ve always done, but it just doesn’t seem to be working anymore. I don’t think I eat anymore than i used too, but the same level of cardio just doesn’t seem to do it anymore. Furthermore, It doesn’t help that here in Thailand anytime you add a kilo or two everyone lets you know verbally that they notice as well. I think if the secretary at work pats me on the stomach and calls me fat in Thai one more time this week I’m going to strangle her with the mouse cord from her little computer. I tell the Thai people in my life often that, in fact, I would be considered relatively in shape in the west but such comments are often met with laughter and stares of disbelief. I heard a podcaster refer to themselves as a little “juicy” on their last podcast of theirs I listened too and it reminded me of what my father always says at home. We like folks to be a little on the ‘”fluffy” side, as skin and bones aren’t attractive where i come from.

Anyway back to my train of thought. I don’t know but lately I’m just not feeling motivated. I’m under a lot of stress at the moment with work and my studies that I think it is starting to affect my sense of well being. I’m not sleeping well and i’ve been a little more irritable than i should be with the students thus far this week. I guess it is fortunate that we’ve got a mid-term break next week so i’m going to try and “recharge my batteries,” so to speak. Was that random enough for you? Oh, and Valentine’s Day is of course this week so I’ll probably be writing some of my thoughts about this holiday later, so make sure and check back. Hope you have a good one where ever you are and where ever this finds you!

American Psycho….

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I went to another location today for the gym after work that i used to visit previously, and i’m happy to say it was a much more pleasant experience. There was so much more room and space to move around, and there were no show ponies prancing about the gym constantly glancing at themselves in the mirrors. So I had a nice stress free gym session and I was listening to Cuppatea, which one of my favorite podcasts (internet radio shows for the uninitiated) on my ipod. It seems the crazies are at it again, because he was talking about the recent tragic death of the actor Heath Ledger and how upset he was that the crazed Rev. Phelps from Kansas and his clan are planning to picket Ledger’s funeral. I listened to Shirley Phelps being interviewed and to hear her justify her hatred and bigotry with her so called warped “Christianity” stirred up thoughts I have not had to think about in such a long time. Living in Thailand can be like living in Oz over the rainbow, cause Shirley honey your voice is not in Kansas anymore. Her hate seemed so alien to hear after being away from such things for so long. Not only that, but it seemed just arrogant and ignorant. Heath Ledger was an actor. He was happily married by all accounts and had a 2 year old, who will have to deal with the memory of these haters if they turn up to protest at his funeral. Now, The Phelps woman knows that he is not gay, but thinks he will go to hell anyway cause he starred in a movie sympathetic to the love shared between to closeted gay men. So….some how this woman…..this family…..this church has made the jump from going to hell cause your gay to going to hell because you act gay. Did i miss a step here? Is that anywhere in scripture?

 

How can a whole family be insane? Keep in mind, these are the same wackos that picket the funerals of soldiers when they return from the war to be buried at home. Are they just nutz? When does free speech cross the line? However, in retrospect, were not the Manson family a crazy bunch of psychos in their time as well. What could possibly be driving these people? I honestly don’t understand them, and i know enough about the bible to know that God is anything but Hate. I also wonder why more “Christians” don’t stand up to these people. Surely Christians in the US realize what a terrible message these people are portraying, and yet other Christian groups sit on their hands and let the hate continue. How many times have i heard people say how they wonder why the moderate muslims don’t sort their own people out, right? I mean if you don’t want your set of spiritual beliefs thought negatively about, then why not deal with these bad seeds internally. It seems to me that their hate and craziness has reached a point where someone needs to step up to the plate and sort it out some how. Its simply not enough to cross your arms and say “Oh, but i don’t agree with them!” It doesn’t make me angry though…..It just makes me sad! Anyways, i hope they aren’t able to carry out their sinister scheme, as i’ve heard other rumors on the net that Ledger will be put to rest in his home town of Perth, Australia. Something tells me the Phelps clan wouldn’t be welcomed Down Under!!!

Good Manners Are Not Universal….

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Happy Tuesday to everyone out there, and thanks so much for stopping by. There, I got the pleasantries out of the way cause this is going to be a bit of a rant. However, I will try my best to be as objective as possible but if your looking for happy thoughts then this isn’t the post for you.

So I was at the gym today finishing my workout and having a shower in the tiny locker room this “trendy” gym offers its members. It was not crowded as i like to go early to avoid the crowds, and was standing in front of the very long mirror and bank of hair dryers getting ready to leave. My stuff was on the counter in front of me and i was occupying the space in front of one of the hair dryers members can use as they primp themselves to leave. I was half way through getting ready and had already applied a bit of hair product, when this Thai guy walks up…reaches across me and grabs the hair dryer out from in front me. No excuse me, no “are you using this?”…nothing. He just picks it up from my stuff and starts using it himself as if I hadn’t been standing there at all. I froze and glared at him as hard as i could, but got no reaction at all…so i huffed/laughed in disbelief and stormed away to use another hairdryer down the counter as we were the only 2 using the facilities at the time.

Now, the reason i bring it up here is that it’s not the first time this has happened to me there. This exact scenario has played out about 4 or 5 times where Thai guys will just reach across you to take what’s in front of you. This got me thinking today about people and their manners here in Bangkok, or should I say the lack of. I realize this post might bring on a bit of heat, but be reminded these are just my observations. There are so many Thai guidebooks about how to correctly observe cultural manners and how not to be polite in Thailand. We learn not to touch another on the head. We learn never to point at anything or touch anything with our feet because it is considered rude. These things were the first things i learned when i moved here and It is hard for me to even accept rude behavior, since growing up in the south we live and breathe good manners. Southern culture in the US is intertwined with good manners and polite behavior is a sign of good upbringing and education. You’d think, or obviously wish in my case, that some other manners would be a universal common ground and that polite behavior would be the same regardless of the border one crossed. However, this is not always the case in Thailand. Case in point:

  • I have observed over the years that many Thai people will often not wait for people coming off a train or out of an elevator before they attempt to push their way in or on. I have been on public transportation here many times and you prepare like a linebacker waiting for the “hut, hut” to charge out the opening doors of trains and elevators so that you can actually get off without being run over in the mad dash to get on.
  • Escalators are another area where good manners seem to not be universal, as Thai people will often stop right at the bottom/top of the escalator to decide where on the floor they need to go or fish the latest and trendiest phone from their pocket or purse. I cannot count the times over the years where I have unavoidably bumbled into someone coming off escalators because they can’t be bothered to move to the side or out of the way.
  • Line or Que jumping is probably the one that makes me the most angry on a daily basis as Thais (especially, if not almost exclusively female Thais) are very bad about jumping line if your patiently waiting your turn to be served. I have even seen a Thai short film before where someone had taken hidden cameras around the city and filmed people constantly jumping in front of others waiting in line, so its obviously not just me. I don’t get this one either! Its not like you can’t see others standing there waiting there turn at the register or whatever. Furthermore, and even worse is that if you “say” something about it more often than not you will get an offended dumb stricken look, like you are some crazed person with anger management problems. Guess i will never work it out.
  • Finally, last but not least is the army of sales staff you will find in any major department store all the way down to the 7-11 on the corner. Now i know what your thinking…how can you complain about a store having enough help to service everyone, right? No…hear me out first. You go to browse clothes, electronics, even personal items like underwear and stuff, at which point a little dollied up staff member will begin to shadow you constantly. Now at home if store staff does this we know it means they think its cause you might be a thief, but not here. Here every shopping experience is plagued by over eager sales staff who follow you constantly pointing out things they like that you should buy for yourself. Ask “Do you have this red shirt in size large,” and get back “Noooo, we have green one in small size only….very nice for you sir.” Now imagine that every single time you go shopping for anything at all. You can’t turn around and say…”I’m just looking thanks,” which should be their cue to walk away….No, they will then begin to point out things to you that they think you need or would like to have. However, with this one i usually either pretend to be on the phone when shopping in department stores, or actually call up another friend who knows whats up and will talk to me till i’m done….however, don’t get me started about cell phones in certain public places like trains and restaurants…ugh!

There, i’m done with my complaining for the day and really before you send angry emails remember that i “do” realize I live here as a guest, and I am usually quite light hearted about these kind of circumstances in reality when these things happen to me. You learn to accept the good with the bad, and one positive thing I’ve learned to do over the years is to let things go. I don’t go to sleep upset minor things, but more often than not have a inner chuckle at bad behavior. Because remember I was raised right! Have a great week and talk to you soon.