Monday, April 14, 2008

Song kran 2008

Another Song Kran celebration is upon us. Even as we speak, people all over Thailand are soaking each other down with muddy water (I think it's clay, actually). We had a small ceremony at the house for the family this afternoon. Palmy went nuts with the muddy water, and blessed everything she could sling the spiritual soup on, including Bongo, and my motorcycle (grrrr!). Our niece Bing was armed with a salvationary super soaker and is a pretty fair shot with it.

Our niece Bing, all muddied up and ready to go.

Palmy is pouring water on the Buddha statues.

A very wet and muddy Puk and Palm.

Puk and Roong, after a cease fire had been called.

Puk, pouring water to Mom and Dad.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Cafe Toothless

This is the place we go the most to eat, especially lunch, when time is short. It's just a block away from the school. As you can see, it's basically a garage with one of those little hot dog type push carts out front, with a burner and a gas bottle. These places don't have names on them, they just put a sign up that tells you what their specialty is. They plaster any signs that the soda companies will give them for free all over the wall, for wall paper. We don't know his name, but he and his friend have been living and cooking there for many years. Well, he has. His friend just sits in the back, watches TV, and drinks beer all day. A big plate of Kow pad or Pad se-u cost about 35 baht ($1). Not a bad deal. It can cost more to make dinner at home for us sometimes, so eating at these little places doesn't affect the budget at all.

Summer School

This is 6 of my 25 summer school students. From left to right, they are Kan, Ohm, Boss, Kwang, Petch, and Bas. The day I took this, I didn't have all the kids there, because it is now the Song Kran holiday. Kan is one of the most skilled kids I have. She, Thuy, and Maie are pretty far ahead of the others in skill, so I make little extra activities for them to keep them busy while the others finish their assignments. Those three also are a big help to me for translating more difficult instructions for the younger students.


As promised, here are a couple of shots of me getting the acupuncture. The little circles on my feet and calves are from these suction cups he puts on them for a few minutes before he puts the needles in. After the needles are in, he hooks them up to an electric stimulator thingy, and runs juice through them for 10-15 minutes. It seems to be helping, but the medicine he gives me for everything else is causing some nasty ass heartburn. Send Pepto!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Cell Phone pics

A shot of the girls and I on the new cell phone. I was surprised at how nice they turned out. I haven't seen many cell phone pics that didn't look grainy and blurry, especially if take indoors. As you can see, Palmy is in full retro/Japanese mode and sporting a new color. At least she isn't wearing those god awful leopard skin shoes today. The promise of a new cell phone was even enough to get Puky off the computer for a few hours.

These were taken at the Future city mall in N. Bangkok. We like this one a lot better that Zeer (where we normally go, about 5km further in). This is more like an American mall. It has lots of department stores, and even a sizzler and Pizza Hut. The stores are a lot more expensive, but they carry quality merchandise. I didn't see to many people grumbling about the prices though. I think I just have to get Roong out of the country market routine, and go to Future more. I am really having a hard time accepting the cheap ass, poor quality merchandise that everyone around here just seems to accept.

I tried to explain it like this. I can buy a pair of work shoes, that will last a year for 200 baht, but a 600 baht pair of shoes will last 5 years. I can't get them to see that that is a better deal. Plus, It's just plain a lot more comfy to shop and eat in an air conditioned mall, with quality merchandise, where I don't have to kick mangy ass dogs out of my way, to wave the flies off the spoiled produce, that will soon become my lizard crap coated dinner in somebody's damn "supposed to be a restaurant" garage. Sorry, I am going to my happy place now. Seeya!

My witch doctor says.....

"Just stop doing anything that you even remotely enjoy, and you will be fine. You have insurance, yes?"

Well, the good news.... My blood sugar, kidneys, liver, blood pressure, and all are fine. On the other hand, my cholesterol is still too high (314), and he also says that I may be in the first stages of early emphysema. He says that 1 in 10 people get it, and no one is sure why. Smoking doesn't actually cause it, it just helps it to progress faster. Quitting smoking won't make it go away, but it will slow down the progression of it. He says that since I am about 50 now, and just developing it, I shouldn't get too freaked out about it, and that I need to have a chest X-ray to be sure.

He also says that my my red blood cells are too big. Umm...ok. That's a new one. I went there today for more acupuncture. It seems to be having some positive effect, because now, I can feel more of the needles as he is using them. He had a new approach today. He said that he wanted to get rid of the blood that was pooling in my lower legs. So, he bled my toes. Seriously! That was just plain creepy. After he stuck all the needles in, he made a small incision on all 10 of the tips of my toes, and let some blood out. I am glad I couldn't feel that. As you walk into his office, the first thing you see is a huge hand carved wooden Chinese dragon. For some reason, that is very comforting. Well, that and the two receptionists that are so pretty, that Roong just glares at them. "I must be taking some pressure of you blood now Mr.Don". Yes you do baby girl. :)

On a happier note....I got a new cellphone. I still hate carrying that damn thing, but this one is pretty cool. My old one could never get a signal anywhere, so it was useless. This one seems to be ok, and takes great photos. My old one couldn't take pics. I have promised Roong that I will keep it on all the time. Well, I will, as soon as she lets me have it back. She is having a ball playing with it. I have to find a truly obnoxious ring tone to put on it of course.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

I got spanked..but, not in the good way.

My 100th post! I would whoop-de-doo a bit, but I am still bushed from the weekend. Saturday and Sunday, I had the tests for my teacher certification. Well, they had me. Here's what happened....

As you know, the Thai government has now decided that all teachers need to have their official okey-dokey certificate to teach here. Wonderful! Although this seems aimed mostly at we foreign teachers, there seems to be a shit load of Thai teachers that don't have anything like that either.....Hmmm, I say. Upon hearing that I need this thing, I decided to study up on what I needed to do well on it. No one, including my wife has been able to get any concrete info on what material they were going to use as reference for the test. Roong called the people that SHOULD know, and got nothing. So, all I could do was hit the internet, and re-read my TEFL course, and hope.

The tests consist of 4 sections, each section has 150 questions, 600 questions total. What they seem to have done, is just translated the test they give the Thai teachers upon completing their education degree. There are a few, shall we say, quirks on the test.

First, it is geared for Thai educational practices. Nobody that is not Thai is going to have any familiarity with these. Things like "where religion should rank in importance in a child's education". I am from St.Louis, how the hell do I know where Buddhism should rank. We didn't have religion forced on us in school. There were also a lot of questions that asked how you would solve specific real problems facing Thailand's educational system.

Second, if you are going to construct a test for English speaking people, then please have somebody that actually knows the god damn language write it! 20% of the questions made little to no sense. Sometimes you could get the general idea of what they were looking for, but too many times the whole Q/A made absolutely no sense at all. Oh, and along with that, you might also what to get a wild hair, and actually have people that can speak English giving the test. Any question that was asked was answered with "Mai loo" (I don't know). They couldn't tell us when the results would be ready, how we would get them, etc. Although, in their defense, I did find one nice lady that was pretty sure that she knew where the restroom was.

There's more, but I am too tired to rant any more, so I will just finish the story... What I knew, I knew. What I didn't know, I had never heard of before. Out of each section, I am guessing I was sure on about 50 questions, and had a fair chance at another 20 - 30, but on the rest I was clueless. We need to have a 50% to pass. There is no way in hell I will pass it. Yanno, I also found it strange that they consider 50% a sufficient teaching caliber.

One of the other teachers taking the test found some interesting data concerning the first time this test was given. Such as the fact that no one passed the 2nd section, things like that. It seems that the test was too hard, so they re-did it for this next session. Well, it seems that I will have to take these damn things over again. I have 3 years to complete this, so I am hoping that in the mean time, I can find the material to study for it. The only sure way is to spend 70,000 baht and take the 8 month teachers course that some of the Universities offer. This country gets enough of our income as it is, so I am not jumping on that option just yet.

The bottom line is that out of the 40 or so of us that took these tests, I may have hear a few say that they were pretty sure that they passed 1 or 2 sections, but no one was claiming that they passed all of it. We all talked together quite a bit, and there were some pretty damn intelligent people there, all of whom were voicing the same frustrations. My head hurts, good night!