Friday, December 31, 2010

Ringing Out The Old

2010 has been a very difficult year for me. I had a bad accident that left me in the hospital for three and a half weeks, and off work for six weeks. My recovery was slow and difficult. In fact, in some ways I am not fully recovered. Financially I am definitely not recovered. My foot and leg have gotten as good as they are going to get, but I'll always have some problems on that side. At work my teaching continuous to improve, but I wasn't really very focused on the classroom this year. Socially it also wasn't a good year. So I won't be sorry to ring out 2010.

But hard times can also be the inspiration for self improvement. I have been successful in some areas I lost some weight (not enough, but even a little is start). I started a weight lifting program and I have stuck with it. I bought a bicycle and have been using it regularly. (I did 25 miles today, a new personal best). Other than my left foot I am stronger than I have been in years. I am also fitter in cardiovascular terms than I have been in years. WHen I was in the hospital I was weaker than a new born kitten. I could not walk, I could not lift my weight without help. I needed help to reach the toilet, and I could not take a shower, because I couldn't stay upright that long. Even when I got home, I took showers sitting down for about three weeks. The first time I walked on my crutches to the corner store it took me 30 minutes to cover the 200 or so yards there and back. That spurred me to start getting into shape. I hope never again to be that weak. So there was at least one positive outcome from the experience.

So tomorrow I will address the New Year and my plans for it.

Happy New Year to all!

Sunday, December 26, 2010


I went for a long bike ride this morning. I went 23.4 miles actually! That is a new personal best for me. Not far I know, as bikers measure these things. But for me it was a milestone. Did you ever see the movie "What about Bob?" As his psychiatrist keeps telling him "Baby steps, baby steps!" So it is with my bike riding. I'll just keep on making small improvements day by day in distance and speed, and soon I will be able to go on really long rides. Before we started our year end break one of my friends challenged to do a ride of fifty kilometers before the end of break (31 miles). I am not there yet, but I think I may make it before we go back on Jan 3rd.

I took an apple with me today. I thought I would eat it when I stopped for a water break about halfway. I ate it, rode some more, and realized that I was famished. My blood sugar was dropping and I was getting exhausted. I stopped at a little roadside restaurant and ate a plate of fried rice. That sustained me until I got home. I guess I will have to start carrying granola bars with me. Several of my friends bake their own energy bars with wild mixes of grains, fruits, and nuts. They swear by them. However, I don't have an oven, so I guess I will have to stick with the store bought varieties.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Want to wish everybody a Merry Christmas. I hope you have a happy and safe holiday period.

I will be celebrating here in Chiang Mai, My family is going to try a Skype chat, and later I will be meeting some friends for lunch. And Later still I will be going for a bike ride.

Thursday, December 9, 2010


For the past 8 weeks or so I have been working six days a week. XYZ school recently introduced Sunday morning classes, because our Saturday classes were overflowing and we didn't have the rooms or the teachers to accommodate more students. They have proven to be very popular and this looks to be a major source of growth for the Chiang Mai branch in the next year. This term I am teaching a level 3 class on Sundays. Unfortunately, the sixth (last) week of every weekday term we have an extra day of class. This caused us to work an 11 day stretch five weeks ago, and now I am in the middle of a 13 day stretch of work. This is quite tiring and makes me a bit cranky. But at the end of this stretch we do have two weeks of vacation, and I have already told my boss that I am not working Sundays next term.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Bike ride

I took my bike out this morning for a spin. I rode for an hour and fifteen minutes. I am not sure exactly how far I went. I am going to buy a bike computer from one of my friends, but he hasn't brought it into work yet. But I do have a nifty heart rate monitor that tracks your heart rate and calculates your calories burned, etc. So today's exercise session lasted 75 minutes, my maximum heart rate was 143, which is 83% of my maximum heart rate zone. The average was 109 whick is 63 percent of my MHRZ. I burned 655 calories, of which 55% was fat. My friend has a heart rate monitor that also has GPS and an altimeter, so it will tell you exactly where you went, your highest and lowest points, how much you climbed and descended throughout your exercise session, and it all the data points can be downloaded to your computer to make graphs and maps of your route. But those cost about 500 dollars, so I won't be buying one anytime soon.

Oh, and the scenery was nice to and the weather was nice. I am going to have to get some long sleeved t-shirts though to protect my arms from the sun. THis tropical sun can be brutal.

Monday, December 6, 2010

New Bike

I bought a bike today. I have been looking at bikes for a few months but today I took the plunge and bought one. It is a Trek 4000 series. It's basically a 4300, but I have upgraded a few things. It is a mountain bike, although it has road tires. I don't intend to be riding it down the sides of any mountains. It has hydraulic disk brakes (useful on the mountains) and 24 gears. Although I can't imagine what I will do with 24 gears. I took it out this afternoon. I felt quite high off the ground and rather unsteady. It also wore me out after about 30 minutes in the foothills of Doi Suthep. Well, I have a lot of time to get used to it, and to get into better shape to ride it.

Here is a picture. It is called "bronze" in color and is quite handsome, at least in my opinion.


Sunday, December 5, 2010

Modern Times

I had an interesting conversation with my Junior class this week. Juniors are 13 and 14 years old and too young to study in our certificate program. This particular class is quite precocious and speak English much better than most of our certificate program graduates.

Anyway, the unit we were covering was about computers, the internet, and technology. I asked them how much time they spent using the computer each day. The answers ranged from three hours to six hours a day. At first I did not believe them, but they insisted that it was true. I asked them what they did on the computer for that amount of time. They told me they did homework, emailed, used Facebook, watched movies they downloaded or streamed, watched youtube, and listened to music. I can't imagine spending that much time online. I use the computer about two hours most days (lesson planning, checking email, playing Farmville, and surfing a little bit). But some days I don't even turn my computer on.

These kids are totally wired. Some of them have 3G cell phones and surf the net with their phones. I asked them if they thought they were addicted to the internet. Three said yes, two said maybe, one said no. They didn't seem at all bothered by their addiction or possible addiction. I know they often stay up to midnight or even one or two in the morning on the internet. Then at six or so they get up and get ready to go school. Of the six kids in that class only one is in good physical shape (fit), one is fairly fit, three are obese, and one is skinny but totally lacking any muscles. These kids are only 13 and 14 years old, what will they be like in a few more years. Are they ever going to exercise, learn to love sports, spend time in nature or simply surround themselves with silence?

I asked them how many hours they thought I had spent using the computer each day when I was their age. They're guesses ranged from 2 hours to 4 hours a day. The truth of course, is that I didn't spend any time with computers at their age. There was no such thing as a home computer in those days. Nor were there cell phones. They simply can't imagine a world that isn't wired. I really worry about the upcoming generation. They are living in a different world than the one I grew up in. For younger people things simply aren't real if they aren't online. An experience isn't real and has not yet happened until it has been blogged about, tweeted about or uploaded with full color and sound.

Maybe I am just a cranky old man, but I don't have any desire to live my life online in full view of the world.

I love my students, but I really worry about their future. Maybe eventually they will kick the internet habit and actually spend time with their friends, spend time outside, and unwired, but I don't know.