Episode Twenty One

March 2014 – August 2014

Not very many photos this episode, but a lot of writing. In this episode, yours truly works his butt off at two full-time jobs and one part-time one. I get to meet the lady who inspired Hong to study English and meet her old classmates for a good deal of fun.

This is the wonderful woman who inspired Hing to study English. She encouraged her a lot, and she was a very sweet woman.

Raising a cup of cheer with the most fun-loving teacher in the old school.

After lunch the next day we walked up to a brand new temple. Some walked quickly, others of us took our time to stop and admire the flowers and birds.

And near the university there is a KTV with an improbable name you couldn’t make up if you tried. Every time we would drive by I tried to get a photo – and finally got lucky. But I never went inside a KTV the whole time I was in China. Nevertheless I was intrigued by this one 🙂


This past weekend I got the bad news that my brother was in the hospital – heart attack. He was in ICU for several days and now is out, recuperating at my dad’s- has several blockages in arteries. I couldn’t believe it. I was stunned- truly stunned.

from the rich underbelly

WTF is up with the budget in the US. Can’t they do anything to benefit the people who they supposedly represent without expecting massive applause and fundraising stump speeches? It is so obvious that they care more for the giant Corps and especially the gigantic bankster frauds. The Attorney General actually said some banks could freely break the law and fuc*over the people because they are just too big to jail – let alone prosecute. So go on and launder money for drug cartels, hide richie rich’s profits and enjoy your vampire lifestyle while Apple, GE, et al offshore their billions to avoid US taxes – god bless them.

This week ~16000 dead pigs were found in the river that is water supply for Shanghai.

From the river of pigs


pity the poor penguins

I was so saddened when I read this report I had to lie down. It is an outrage.

Apparently, after all the numbers are crunched and the decimals put in place, the real income of 90% of Americans has only grown by $59 dollars in four decades. Taking into account the enormous increase in productivity and the longer hours, less secure jobs, etc. – just makes the blood simmer. Of course the upper 10% saw their incomes rise by over$116,000. Imagine what good things happened for the top 1% The net worth of the fortunes of the six heirs to Walmart fortune were equal to the net worth of 42% of America – six people.

As for the subject of my little missive, the poor penguins, it seems that due to ice melt, warming, changing currents etc. and less ice – less krill. But it is okay really because now scientists are working on a way to De-Extinct animals – YEAH!!!! Let’s look forward to Wooly Mammoths without the environment to survive passenger pigeons without

the habitat.

From the jagged edge of the species’ habitable regions,

What’s the word

Here I sit again in the center or at least on the fringes of two potentially global crisis (is there a plural?) the cuckoo clock land to my northeast is banging the big drum again. People here see it as the howlings of a petulant loonie, but dangerous. He has the big sticks and they are prepping them. Let us pray cooler heads prevail.

And then from no where a new parakeet sniffle germ has shown up (I am certain I would be blocked if I used the name of the outbreak). To me, it is no coincidence that thousands of pigs were recently in the river near where this began. I have started a more intense level of immune building.

From the bizarro gateway to the real world

metaphysical baseball

It feels like the planet is lurching towards a tipping point beyond our comprehensions. Perhaps in our information saturated environment we are taxing the limits of our human brains to process so much data and discriminate the essential from the superficial; is it possible our minds have met their match in our own creations? This is why I often unplug – seldom watch the boob tube, although I do read extensively in news of science and world events.

When we ponder our place in the universe we must always remember we have the mighty soul looking out for us, the cosmic wheels keep turning and we are star stuff my friend. I have felt a strange shade of peacefulness burrowing into my subconscious. I accept more and struggle less, not relenting control just loosening my grip a bit on the rudder –seeing where the current will take me for a while.

From the misbegotten sub-basement of the supermarket of the soul,

creeping up on ya

I was saddened by the terrible events this week, but I have just seen news that the two responsible are being cornered and one has been killed. Such a tragedy to see a little boy die and his family forever maimed by such senselessness. There is no reason or logic behind this type of insanity. Bless all those who were there and have had the course of their life forever altered by madmen.


Big news here – don’t eat lamb- which I dislike anyway, but it turns out that a huge quantity of crap being sold a lamb is reprocessed rat and wild game. Use chemicals and break down to make look like lamb – oh boy. Food scandals here are ever present and seem to be more widespread than people suspect.

Going to roll out of my lawn chair, which I use as furniture, shower in non-potable water, brush my teeth with fake toothpaste, lay my head down on faux-down pillow, stretch out on my table hard bed and dream of the days of past and future, and perhaps some magical intersection between my former self and my current incarnation – going to reinvent

myself soon I think.

Apollonian screed

From here I look across the dark skies and hear the frogs in the lotus pond outside and know the tiny speck in which I exist is okay, at least not in constant upheaval. I wish for better for my kids, but the future is built upon the opportunities we can scavenge, discover and create. Maybe it is a portent of my future, but today a Chinese cuckoo bird has shown up to serenade us from the tree outside the window. I think he must be good luck, although his nest is not a place I want to spend time.

Here we are perched on the wrong side of CO2 400ppm and what is being done to slow it down, to lessen the impact, to do without one iota of comfort in exchange for a liveable planet for later generations – NADA. Truly this milestone in itself may not be significant but the reaction to it is very telling for the future of humanity. The people of the developed world are unwilling to make the hard choices, and the developing world refuses to do without the advances which result from development. Where is the compromise? Can there be a future beyond a few more generations? Yes, I am sure we as a species will survive, but in what global environment will humanity exist – that is a question that needs to be asked. The futurists will come down perhaps on the side of the savior of future-tech – we will invent our way out of disaster, all the while the climate change deniers will point their bony fingers at charts assembled by paid shills and continue to let the petrochemical beast exhale noxious fumes. I cannot understand the unwillingness to change. There is no short-term incentive for relinquishing the comfortable lives to which people have become accustomed. It reminds me of an analogy one of my profs made back in the by gone days. If you put a frog in boiling water it will leap out, but if you put him in room temp water and slowly turn up the heat, it will stay put until it boils to death – here we sit, in the tepid water and the dial is rising inexorably slowly.

I am counting the days until the end of the semester, as I gear up another reinvention of my self. This summer will find me tutoring with Hong (an inescapable function of our matrimonial partnership – and economic necessity) and writing in my early mornings and trying to work on some artistic creations. I got the creative embers sparkling and I want to fan them into full flame, but cannot with the busy nature of life. So I will bank the fire and prepare for the full-on creative roman candles that are to come. Each day I create, it is part of what I am, to not do it would be to deny the reality that I have always, in some way or another, felt I have a part to play in the summoning of the here and now, a bit part in this grand universal continuity.

From the creaking hub of the middle kingdom,

My son turned 30, and I cannot wrap my mind around that date. Really, maybe I am delusional, but some days it feels like a few years, other days a century since I was a far too young daddy. I love him more than I can ever say, but I do say it every time I can.

I just read a wooly mammoth was discovered thawing in the Arctic due to global warming, and he must have been flash frozen because his blood was still intact, more or less. Ah that is what we need revive an ancient species whose habitat died out thousands of years ago, while the bird populations plummet, the biodiversity flatlines and humanity simply flips over the meat and says see, plenty of fresh red blood available before the incineration of civilization.

The university had some student play contest – did not inform me until a couple weeks before the students were to act. Last semester I taught one group three subjects and this semester two subjects, so they are somewhat special to me. I asked them to show

me their play and made some suggestions. They got first place out of twelve classes. So as a treat, I bought pizzas (Pizza Hut has opened near campus) and showed them Jon Stewart and George Carlin – as part of my Cultural Studies class. You would have loved to see the kids slammin their hands on the desk and busting a gut laughing at two

of our most clever minds.

“Endeavor to Persevere”. I will celebrate my anniversary tomorrow – actually my wife has us both working, but she has never been one for holidays and special occasions; but we will go out for Thai food at this roadside place with ten tables and the best SE Asian cook around.

From the barebones side of the global debate.


from out east

My neighborhood is within the university campus but it is more like a village. As I walk down dim roads and thread my way through oddly shaped alleys and cramped

parking areas, I hear a live performance of Chinese romantic music. The song must be twenty years or older, and the two women are doing a operatic soprano duet at about 110 decibels. I mean the show is half a mile away, and I can still hear it sitting in my apartment with the AC on and three closed doors three floors to the outside. I am content

though, as I am winding down the semester. This morning I had to go to medical checkup – all foreigners are required to get checked every year – here – for work visa. So the university put us on a bus. Job requirement – native speaker, white, under age of decrepitude. CHECK. I suppose I have become more attuned to life here. After three hours of teaching tonight, I came in and showered – felt like I was in the groove – you know like the pitcher served up a slow one right in my wheelhouse – .

From here in the psychic-briar patch,

the dusty diamond path of yore

When you are playing outfield, you see the pitcher release the ball and as it approaches the batter, you can tell he is going to connect, and some primeval targeting mechanism snaps into play and you begin to move your feet before the ball even hits the bat – you just know where it is going. As you hear the crack of the bat you are already turning to accelerate because you know it destined for the deep outfield. Your glove flaps in your hand as you whipsaw around to get a bead on the angle of the arcing frozen rope as it screams towards you, but that pocket in your well worn glove already can sense

the force of impact because you just know – it is coming to your outstretched hand as the sun dazzles your eyes, and you grab one quick peek from the shade of your glove, as your cap falls off. POP! There it is, right where it belongs as if born their in your favorite glove kept supple by loving applications of glove oil. Your hand curls around that gloriously red-seamed horsehide. Your fingers flip it slightly to improve your grip as you unconsciously pull it from your glove, cock your arm, and like a flesh and bone catapult you whirl and wheel your entire body pivots as you hurl the ball towards home – one

hopping it just behind the pitcher’s mound – nailing the runner before

he can even drop down into a slide.

Sitting here in the land of ping-pong and badminton – older than I will ever admit, I miss that dusty grassy bean field where I spent so many fine hours with my buddies as we fell head first into young manhood – unable to know that several of us would be gone before

fifty. It has been too long since I bolted out of bed, anticipating a long day of hangin’ out. I would fill a couple one gallon plastic milk jugs with water, jam a couple balls into my bike frame, hang some extra gloves on the handle bars, and balancing two bats, I rode over to the field near a local forest. Out by an oil refinery, half mile from the old freight train tracks, we would gather like salmon returning to the stream, nothing better to do the idle away the day playing ball. Some times we would play until it got so dark you had to find the ball by the sound it made hitting the ground. None of us wanting to call the game until someone got hit by a ball or a parent called them in. We would pack it up and know the next day the pounded flat field’s dusty diamond path would be waiting. I will search this summer for a twinkle of inspiration like those titanic youthful days – oh how sweet it is to be alive on this good earth.

From the baseball-less world,


From the arcing trail

Forces of the Universe, the interlocking bolts of happenstance and fate were determined to prevent you from going further down the path you chose to explore. Truly, I think a series of events, some coincidence, and some just dumb luck, lined up your stars for a full-on blitz on your veteran quarterbacking self. I guess you could say it is like that Chinese expression we talked about before Wei Wu Wei – action inaction – take no unnecessary action.

There is something afoot – a mystic creaking on the stairways of your mind – fate has different plans. Many times in life, too many to count or remember, I have wanted

something, pursued it in what I thought was the proper fashion, only to find it escaped my grasp time and time again. I had to chalk it up to “it wasn’t meant to be.”

The reality of our climate changing world has so many experts on the run, climbing walls, jumping the rails – I think we have exceeded our computational abilities. The human mind and our digital brain extensions, are only as good as our intellectual clairvoyance and I think, truly, we are through the looking glass and beyond the scope of even educated guesses. Mom nature has brought in a knuckleballer and we are down to our last few pinch hitters. We need Stan the Man to come off the bench, but I don’t think we are going to be that lucky. Personally I am hoping benevolent aliens will arrive soon and clean up

this mess.

as the worm turns

Apparently when worms poop they create a small calcium nugget (and man it must be small) that encapsulates the climate condition of the moment and location. So a teeny crap time capsule. I sit in my small bedroom, a fan blowing on my boney backside as I

stretch out in my ten dollar lawn chair-lounger and listen to some Latin jazz fusion. It is Friday, and summer, I am drinking chilled green tea and feeling the world’s rotation as it spins back from its aphelion returning from its furthest point from the Sun. The brilliant

azure sky blazes with golden light sparkling across the fading lotus.

Unhurried moments are marked by slowed pulse-beats as life pauses for a rejuvenating sip at the cosmic oasis. I sense the movement of the stars as they roll in and click into place within the darkening sky. A cool breeze slides in across the quieting campus and all seems right with the world.

I send thoughts of peace and contentment to my friends and love to my children

From the slowing side of the blue marble,

here’s to the future

My mom was very selfless going back to her childhood when she had to watch over her

brothers and quit school when her dad died. Mom always tried to see the good in people as much as possible.

I struggled to survive the year before coming here, and after arrival I had to hone various

skills, and the one that has proven to be most valuable is seeing through the differences, but I am still not able to do that all the time. With the kids, I see an innocence and sort of purity and they bring out my best nature many times. I think my life here can be an

example to the kids that we are all humans, we are the family of man –

all of us, like it or not – we are much more alike than different. I think long and hard about what and how to teach the kids outside of language – this applies to my college students too – even more so. If we all understand each other a little better, the world will be a little better, and if we make the world a better place in our own small way, we can change the future.

So as not to end on a sweet and sour note, here is a great quote from

Dr. Martin Luther King.

Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative

altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness.

From the stormy southlands of East Asia,

Happy Mondays

We have been getting rain everyday here in the tropics, which makes the neighborhood all the more dank and soggy. There is a festival of aromas whirling around here. We are in the western province of Canton – which is actually Guang – so Guangxi (xi-west, and Guangdong (dong-east). And the Cantonese are famous for their cooking. All Chinatowns in the US are full of Cantonese. So we have savory cooking aromas, mixed with fermented trash, random urine territorial markings (vermin and children), and not so great sewage systems mixing into an odiferous amalgamation of stank.

I have been trying to get my mind around a way to turn the tables on the “greed is good” types and maybe like John Steinbeck and others, see the workin people as the paradigm. There should be a celebration of those who do their job, day by day and represent the honorable character of society. This is something I have been pondering a lot lately, as I see the chasm growing between us and the miniscule minority of moneyed misanthropes – sorry I was channeling Spiro Agnew there for a second.

From the land of tainted milk and fake honey


rounding second

I taught the kids baseball and offered up some beautiful slow balls for them to slam – soft- squeezable rubber ball, so at least I didn’t lose the ball. I had trouble explaining to them through my interpreter, who has little understanding of sports in general let alone baseball, that I needed some fielders and a catcher. The tropical sun beat the older kids back into the classroom. Little kids are made of stronger stuff, and are more creative – the education system grinds them down so they can fit into those one-size-fits-all

square holes.

Hong’s reunion was fun. I got to meet her old classmates and some teachers, and they were as welcoming as possible. I was treated like a minor celeb, as the first foreigner many had met, and definitely the first one to show up at their shindig. Hong’s English teacher was a doll, and history teacher was very funny. Older brother said history teacher gets hammered at reunions, as everyone had many of the same teachers. Hong hadn’t seen some of them for 25 years. We ate a lot of good food, some too unusual for me, but I tried everythingand had some wine and the Chinese equivalent of sour mash – Baijio – means “white liquor”. It is truly 60-80 proof fire water – so I had one shot with the guy who was very kind to Hong.

The next day we walked up a mountain – a Chinese traditional way to show you are not out to pasture yet. Well, it was a small mountain, and there is a paved path – but the sun was fierce and hot. On the way down we walked through an old neighborhood. The hotel guard told us to move the car closer to the hotel, because there are often fight in the parking lots and on the streets at night after a belly full of beer.

There seems to be no end to the shadowy technological circumcision of solitude being conducted by all manner of acronymed agencies. I am sure everything I write, say or

read digitally has been captured and preserved, and I cannot understand how it is authorized by We the People – Happy Orwell Day – a day late. I do love our land so much – I am red-white-and-blue through and through.

From the spiraling periphery

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