Disclaimer: These are my views and do not reflect the views of the Peace Corps.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Thanksgiving and other things


I'm here at school with a free hour because of yet another schedule change (7am is too early for teaching anyway...)  One of the first things I wanted to do here (after having the schedule changed on me, not to mention the students, almost weekly, was get all of the classes, teachers, students, and schedules online, but, after meeting with one of the IT guys here who had a similar idea, he told me that the school is waiting on a world bank? (possibly different organization) proposal to get a dedicated server, so we're stuck with the changes as it is for now, which gives me the opportunity to update the blog, and of course, listen to Taylor Swift's new album, and abuse punctuation marks.

At school, I've just finished a unit/personal teaching goal on cover letters.  After researching online for jobs in Cambodia, seeing the necessity of the cover letter in Cambodia too, realizing that none of the students had written a cover letter, and that the class I was teaching was called "Business Letters I", I decided to stray from a presentation of British business jargon, e.g., pro forma invoices, loco ex works, tenders, and carriage quotations, and focus on something I hope will be practical.  After grading the papers at a commencement ceremony yesterday (for some kind of center that the deputy prime minister and UBB set up.  I didn't have any hand in the matter, but went for appearances,) I was generally impressed by what I saw, which is always a good feeling for teachers.  In my other classes, we've got midterms this week and next, and then it's back to California for Christmas.

One work related issue that came up recently was a hidden set of limitations on the amount of teaching hours I would be paid for.  I wasn't ever told about it, until I investigated two months in to the job, which was upsetting.  Long story short, I won't be staying here as long as I'd originally planned.  I'll be home for three weeks, come back to finish the semester, and then be home in March until I start law school in the Fall.  I've heard back from Santa Clara, got in!  Still waiting on the other schools, but it's nice to know I'll be going somewhere.

A few weeks ago, we had Thanksgiving at my place, which was great, although I was wiped.  I got some kind of virus directly following a weird leg infection and an ear infection (which have cleared up).  Luckily, there's a real MD in town, who helped and drugged me through the various issues, quotes from him: "health is a moving target." also "take off your pants."  I'm feeling healthy now, back at the gym and running.  I ran into a fellow expat who'd had malaria; count your blessings.

Here are some pictures from Thanksgiving from Libby:

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Better Quality Films

Sean posted these on youtube from our latest show:


Sunday, November 11, 2012

Product of the Month

    Hello everyone, I'm here to announce that the product of the month goes to fresh local coffee, so finely ground that it doubles as an espresso grind.  A close second is Placenta Shampoo: now with real placenta extract!

I wasn't kidding.  I found this in the dollar store that just opened up.  They also sell Arizona Ice Tea :)

Enfin, an Update

I'm here in Battambang.  Having a coffee and enjoying my protracted lunch.  I am listening to some foreigners talk about their "burning digestive system."  A co-worker was out sick at work today, and I'm happy to have my health.  I am sitting with Libby, she's graciously copying some pictures from the guitar show last weekend.

Here's the set list from that:

April  Come She Will  (S&G)
Don't Think Twice it's Alright (dylan)
Hey ya (acoustic obadiah parker version)
Little Talks (monsters and men)
Blood Bank (bon iver)

___________  BREAK____________

Ohio  (jurado)
Can't Help Falling in Love  (presley/ ingrid michaelson)
A Team (...)
The Weary Kind  (I forget...)
Rivers and Roads (Head and the Heart)
Wagon Wheel (O.C.M.S.)

Life's been good here.  Cambodia normal.  I was finally paid by UBB, although it wasn't what I was expecting and we're trying to work out the details...  I feel like I'm working a lot, but happily there are a decent amount of holidays.  One recent highlight with my students was playing the "continue the story" game.  I started out with a man, from there students continued the story... here's a synopsis: he went to a bank, with a gun, robbed the bank, fled to thailand, and proceeded to give all the money to his girlfriend.  The scheduling is still pretty sporadic and I'm working on a project to hopefully change that, i.e. getting a computer-based scheduling system in place.


(Lib and I)

(The banjo's debut.)

(The after-party)

In the next few weeks I'll be hosting Thanksgiving at my house, excited to be with friends but it makes me miss home a little.  Although, Christmas isn't too far away...

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Living the High Life.

First things first, I should disclose that I've gone corporate, Cambodia style.  I started working at UBB, full time, sometimes I even wear a tie.  I had to purchase some new clothes because I felt like the office slob, although, still wearing my TEVAs.

I moved out from where I was living last year, i.e. the box, and am now living with a tad more amenities. 

Here are some pictures of the new place:

 (A poorly lit shot of the living room...)
 (A better shot of the living room.  Note the light up Buddha that came with the house.)

 (A few pictures hanging from the unused cable for a tv.)

 (More pictures and a makeshift bookshelf.)

 (My new fridge, yes, the stickers were included.)

 (My bedroom, complete with a/c, mood light, random necklace, and tiled in whinny the pooh)

 (Not sure about some of the characters here...we've got pooh, piglet, and tigger, but who's on the balloons?)

 (Living room decor.)

 (Kitchen: note the counterspace and places to put things!)

 (Kitchen decor.)
 (Yes, that is a flush lever.)                                               (Here's my landlord installing mosquito nets.)

In other news, I am riding a moto now.  It's a red Honda Dream.  I always always wear my helmet.  I'm even a bit overly nerdy when it comes to helmets, e.g. I brought my helmet from America that is both SNELL and DOT approved, it's called the Scorpion EXO: 


(Here's a photo from my desk at UBB.  It's sort of like an office, which I share with 2-3 other people.)

That's all for now. 

Love you guys,

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

So this is the New Year...

I just checked my flight information and I’ve been here exactly twelve days.  I’m sweating, the temperature is in the 90s with humidity and somehow the ceiling fan doesn’t seem to hit where I am.  The last email I received from U of B in July stated that I would start in early October.  I started working full time last Thursday (9/20).  I taught class on Saturday, and then Monday turned out to be a holiday, so now I am here again.  The first class starts at 7am and I still feel jetlagged.  I am tired.  I was homeless (well, living out of a hotel) until Friday, then spent the weekend organizing and unpacking and suddenly it was Tuesday morning and I was running out of my door to hop on a moto and head to work again.  I left my keys in my door, luckily I have kind neighbors…my mind’s a wreck.  Today was hard.  I could have used the extra week for planning and peace of mind, but life is different here.  I started looking at some of the pictures I took when I was at home and it made me happy.  I am glad that I will be coming home for Christmas and hope to see you all when I return!

 (Josh at the climbing gym)
 (On a woodland adventure with Ian)
 (Recording at home)
 (Hey Jude)
 (My street / stop sign)
 (San Luis Obispo surfing!)
 (At Ex^ponent)
 (Golfing with grandma.)
 (Breakfast by the sea.)
 (Out on the farm.)
 (Biologist in training.)

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Tiga, Dua, Satu!

3,2,1!  I recently got back from my trip from Bali, and am currently sitting in my apartment sweating (it's somewhere in the high 90s with way too much humidity).  So, in order to mentally escape from the heat, I'm going to remember my trip.  Also, I still have a bit of surfwax that I occasionally inhale to bring back the memories...

First, I flew into Kuala Lumpur and spent a few hours layover listening to "This American Life" podcasts on my phone.  I got to Bali in the evening and took a taxi to Sanur.  The driver taught me some survival Indonesian (although the level of English there is quite phenomenal, lots of tourism and well paid teachers to blame, it did come in handy, especially when I stepped off the beaten path to find local food).  I slept in a room with a fan and a bed and got up the next morning to go and meet Libby and Kellie in Nusa Lumbongan, an island next to Bali.  The boat ride was over before I got too seasick and I managed to find the bungalow I needed to find relatively easy.  I waited on the beach in a lounge chair read about dogs and physics (How to Teach Physics to Your Dog) and pulled out my camera for the first time.  Picture 1:

Not my finest picture.

I met up with Libby and Kellie and we went to get lunch/ice cream:

On the way back I figured I'd look into doing some surfing, being in Bali and all.  The water didn't look like anything was happening when I was on the beach earlier, so my expectations weren't too high.  On our way back, the tide had changed "The tide rises, the tide falls"  in this case it rose, and the break was working.  I left the girls and rented a board, paddled the 1/2 mile out to the break ( really far !)  and surfed Shipwreck i.e. the best right I surfed all trip.  We came back and had dinner together on the beach together watching the sunset:

The next day we traveled to a few picturesque beaches (white sand, turquoise water) and relaxed.  I brought my surfboard along and went surfing off the little island attached to Nusa by a tiny suspension bridge.  Libby took a few photos from the cliff:

The little head poking out of the wave is me.

After surfing, we went back and had another lovely dinner on the beach.  The next morning we were back on the ferry heading to the main island.  There, we found a Dunkin' Donuts and had a delicious breakfast.  That's also when we learned about the earthquake and tsunami warnings.  By that point all was well and we emailed our respective families that we were indeed fine.  Then thanks to a bummer of a taxi driver, we ended up somewhere we didn't want to be and paid too much to get there.  We made the best of it though, and the next day I said goodbye to the ladies and went off on my own personal little surf safari.

I stayed at a little surfer hostel for the next 4-5 days (lost track of time).  I'd wake up before sunrise, grab my surfboard, and surf Ulu Watu, Padang Padang, and Impossibles.  I found a nice local warung (restaurant) where I'd eat lunch, and the guy called me "Pee-doe," then walked around during the heat of the day, napped, and read. I met a few other surfers, Alban (de France) and Marcelo (from Argentina).  Alban was on his way out and hooked me up with some toiletries and bug repellents.  On the last day I went to see a Kecak fire dance at a Hindu temple, my one "cultural experience" of the trip. There, a chorus of men imitated the sounds of musical instruments, sang the sound effects, and told the story of a prince, a princess, a king, and a monkey general (Anoman).  It was quite the production.  Lots of tourists.  Quote from my notebook, "I will never be a guy who wears a beer advertisement wife beater."

At the temple, in case you were wondering...

I may have broken rule 2, but only because I was confused.  Rule three made me do a double take, stop, and then take a picture.  As did this guy, perched above the cliffs:

The cliffs:

The "fire" part of the fire dance.

From here, I traveled up to Canggu and stayed at "Villa Serenity" a quiet little place near the beach.  I surfed a couple of breaks within walking distance and watched the sunsets on the beach.  Then I got up at 4am and started my journey back to Cambodia.

Really pretty, really good trip all in all.  Thanks to everyone who made this possible!