Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Musings on a dreary day

I've been watching the rain falling steadily outside this little cabin all day. It's been a good day to stay indoors. At 55 degrees it's not been particularly cold but I've been wearing a wool sweater to keep the chill at bay. Now, after baking a squash and cooking some panang curry with rockfish for dinner, the cabin has reached a more comfortable temperature and I'm enjoying a cold beer. I've just finished watching the News Hour on PBS and am dismayed about how those cut-throat Republicans in Congress have managed to once again force Obama to back down and cave on raising taxes for the rich to help offset the nation's huge deficit. Hell, it ain't even a tax hike I'm after -- just a return to the days before that devil Bush's tax cuts for the wealthy. Gee, the Repubs want fiscal responsibility? They have such short memories. They can't seem to remember it was their man who's responsible for our economic calamities.

And what happened to the strong person I helped elect to the presidency? The one that brought tears to my eyes when he was inaugurated, the first black man ever to occupy the Oval Office? Ah, Washington tonight is an ugly place indeed. Full of shameless opportunists where anything can be had for enough money. Same as it ever was, same as it ever was.

There's no point in continuing that rant. It's apparently reasoning that few in power would agree with. Fox News will set everything straight for us I'm sure. Turn on the TV and watch those infomercials masquerading as news, yep, that's right.

I've spent a good portion of this rainy day studying the Thai language online. I know that I must learn to speak at least a little bit of Thai if I want to enjoy and enhance my time in Thailand. Nut has been running interference for me and while that's certainly handy, it has not helped me learn very much. There are tons of learning resources on the Internet and I've been reading reviews of various language schools in Bangkok trying to find one that might be a good fit. I came across this one that sounds both novel and interesting. It's called the AUA Language Center. They use a method they say is modeled after the way a baby acquires language. It's a total immersion course but one without tests or homework or vocabulary assignments. Students sit in a classroom with two teachers who speak Thai with plenty of pantomime to help flesh out the dialog you are watching and listening to. The teachers are for all practical purposes actors who seem to enjoy what they're doing. The idea is that eventually you will "acquire" the language and become a fluent native speaker just a a baby does. They've been in business for quite a while so their system must work, at least for some people. The cool thing is, you can watch a ton of AUA's videos on You Tube and assess whether it might be a good approach or not. I figure I may as well begin the task I've set out for myself -- to learn conversational Thai by the time I leave there next spring. Maybe this is a way to start.

The other thing I've been doing today is reading a fascinating blog I stumbled upon recently. It's written by a guy who calls himself Village Farang. He's an American expat married to a Thai woman who's lived in Thailand for 35 years. As the blog begins they're in the process of  building a nice home near a small town, his wife's home town in northern Thailand near Chiangrai, after having lived in Bangkok for 30 years. Not all of what he has to say pertains to my life but quite a bit of it does. In one entry he asks, "why do I write this blog?" I've asked myself the same question.

It is somewhat narcissistic endeavor surely -- and perhaps merely mental masturbation. But I reckon most importantly writing is one of the things I do that I really like doing. I'm a lazy person at heart but I do write with some degree of dedication. I have no hope of ever becoming a real writer but I enjoy myself when I am writing. In the back of my mind is the hope that someday my kids will read this blog because I'm pretty sure none of them are reading it regularly now. Village Farang got me thinking about this when he expressed a similar sentiment about his family members. Anyway, his musings are often insightful and I think quite well written. His success in Thailand has a lot to do with his long residency there, a solid long-term relationship with a wonderful Thai woman, and I'm sure no small amount of will power. I'm not sure I have enough of that in me should I ever decide to try my own hand at living in the Land of Smiles but he's managed to pull it off quite well. His blog is called My Thai Village Life. It's pretty cool.

Will this rain ever stop? I wonder as I check the weather report on the Internet. (Oops, by the looks of things not right away. My regular tennis day is tomorrow -- that probably isn't going to happen.) It's dark now mostly because of the heavy clouds just overhead yet only a few weeks ago the light in the sky at midnight was bright enough to allow me to walk down the path to my cabin without a flashlight. I'm glad I'll be missing the long darkness that will engulf Alaska before long.