Saturday, March 20, 2010

This and that

We have just completed the first week of summer terms here at XYZ school. It is a difficult time of year, since I have to teach two three hour classes each day. Each term is two weeks, which mean the students get 30 hours of instruction over 10 days of class. There are three summer terms. That amount of work doesn't leave me with much time for anything else. But I am determined to keep up my trips to the gym this year, and keep on eating healthy despite my limited time to cook. Seems to be working so far. I am feeling much more physically fit this year, and more relaxed and on top of things.

The pollution got really bad this week. It wasn't the worst I have seen, but it was getting close. The last two evening we have had rain showers which washed a lot of stuff out of the air. We ought to have a couple of OK days before it gets bad again. Hopefully we will continue to get these little rain storms from time to time.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Fourth Season

It is generally claimed that Thailand has three seasons, Winter, Summer and Monsoon. Depending on where you are winter runs from about November to January. Summer begins in February and goes until May. Monsoon lasts from June until October. However, I propose that a fourth season be added to the Thai calender, at least here in the North.

The new season should be called Dirty Air and should run from March until about June. The fact that Dirty Air overlaps with Summer and Monsoon should not be seen as a problem. Why shouldn't you be able to have two simultaneous seasons? I ain't seen nowhere it says you cain't.

Because it sure is Summer, hot as Hades, and twice as dry. And it sure is Dirty Air, The air is so thick with dust and smoke that if you spray a hose into the air, it comes down mud. The city has deployed its fleet of smoke plows to try to keep the streets clear, but as soon as you clear it, more comes in to take its place. And have you ever driven into s smoke-bank? Its hard!. The only way to get around town is to drive with your fog lights on, and keep a sharp lookout. We have been stringing ropes between the buildings at my school so no one gets lost. A couple of kids in Lampang Province tried to cut across their schoolyard, got disorientated in the smoke, lost their way, and wandered about for two days before they were found. They brought in sniffer dogs, but that didn't work. They had dust allergies so bad they had to go on medical leave. Last I heard they were taking a rest cure on the beach down south. No smoke down there. Everyone wears face masks when they go outside. Between the face masks, goggles and the darkness, it is hard to recognize people. This can lead to tragic consequences. A man in Fang shot his girlfriend in front of their house, then told police that he had mistaken her for a burglar. But her friends say he had been trying to get rid of her for weeks. Fortunately with the stinging of his watery eyes, his aim was not so good, and she is expected to make a full recovery. The elephants at Mae Sa Elephant Camp have gone on strike for better working conditions. They are demanding an extra 20 Kilos of sugar cane per elephant, and Jumbo sized nose masks. Have you ever seen an elephant with nasal allergies? It is not a pretty picture. City officials in Chiang Rai have resorted to driving fire trucks around the city spraying water into the air attempting to wash the dust and smoke out of it. It isn't working to good. You'd need God's own Fire Hose to put up enough water to make any difference, I'm thinking.

Dirty Air is pretty bad right now, but we are hoping for some rain next week or two to give us some temporary relief. Where ever you are tonight, remember us here in this the hour of our discontent.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Organic Eggs

Well, I tried some of my organic eggs and they were delicious. They were also very fresh, with a very light yellow yoke, that sat up high and perky when the egg was broken open. That is the sign of a fresh egg. If the yoke is dark or flat, your eggs aren't fresh. Yeah for good eggs!

(Sorry to those of you out there who can't indulge in the pleasure of a good egg).

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Eggs, Eggs, Eggs

I found something new in my local grocery store today. Yes, I found Organic Free Range chicken eggs!



I used to buy free range eggs whenever I could in the states. But, sadly, I had to give that up when I came to Thailand. They just were not available in normal grocery stores, only in specialty stores, and then the supply was sporadic. But now it looks like Top's Market is going to start stocking them. If they taste good and they continue to appear on the shelves, I will continue to buy them, in spite of the added cost.

I buy them for a variety of reasons. I don't fall in with the deluded people who believe that anything with an organic label is necessarily twice as healthy, have three times as much vitamins, and are steeped in natural goodliness. But I do believe that pesticides are bad for you, hormones we absorb in our foods play havoc with our own systems, that adding antibiotics to animal feed is destroying the efficacy of antibiotics and breeding "super resistant" bugs, and that free-range is a more humane way of producing eggs than battery chickens.

Not that there weren't free-range organic chickens in Thailand before this. Thais raised chickens for thousands of years without resorting to fertilized and pesticided chicken feed, added hormones or antibiotics. And of course, in the countryside many people still raise their chickens that way. But during the Green Revolution of the 1970's Thailand, like most other countries bought into industrial farming practices. So if you shop at the grocery stores in the city you haven't had much choice about what kind of eggs you bought.

Even though the factory egg isn't going to go away, it is nice to be able to have the choice. I hope the organic eggs stay around.