Projects in Asia and fund raising anywhere



21 March, 2004: Chiangmai, Thailand

Day to day has become month to month.
Step by step, Give and Live takes shape. Unfortunately and fortunately, everyday I can take those steps in a few thousand directions. I find it difficult to write about all the activities and options with one page of words. It's like trying to paint Mount Everest on a grain of rice. Here, the distractions... wait, I mean... attractions, seem infinite. The annual flower festival was incredible. Besides being surrounded by blooms -- attached to plants attached to the ground, or on plants just hanging from poles, roots feeding only on air -- each flower float in the parade had a billion of them. The dragon float in the upper right photo was 20 feet tall and every speck of color was a small, medium or large flower.

The day after I first arrived in Chiangmai, several streets were teeming with hundreds of folks in formal stalls, on make-shift textile mats or behind bamboo tables selling handmade clothes, silver jewelry, silver beads, stone beads, seed beads, textiles from Thailand, Laos and Cambodia, massage, soap flowers, hand-painted umbrellas, multi-colored, tie-dyed, batiked, three- or four- maybe five-dimensional paper, rattan anything for whatever, elephants or landscapes made of wood, silver, aluminum, cloth and most every other material in the known universe, hot Pad Thai for a quarter, fresh juice straight through a straw from the coconut to you, baby bee omelets, "ancient" ice cream, fried crickets, water bugs and scorpions, hill tribe craft artists, local artists charcoaling, pen and inking, oil painting and sketching portraits, and musicians upon musicians: blind, lame, valid and invalid, old guys with traditional one string things, new guys and gals with guitars, on stages, in the middle of the streets and walking around with portable amps. I thought, "Cool. I just happened to arrive during this big festival!!!" Well, it was just Sunday and the Sunday Market happens every Sunday. And I just have to go every Sunday. I certainly don't regret having the wealth of options. My only regret is that I didn't come here a couple of decades ago.

I officially stopped being a tourist when I bought the ice cube trays. 
I left the backpacker scene when I bought the bike. And the bike tools. And the guitar, although for trips to the mountains, it fits nicely on the bike and follows the sweeping design lines. Tourists do not buy ice cube trays. Or bags of plastic alphabet letters, stacks of Dr. Suess books and modeling clay. Or two chairs and a table for the balcony. Or a full-page printer. Or a full-size electronic keyboard. With stand. I definitely live here now. The keyboard travels between my apartment and my friend Aey's restaurant: The Hug, the friendliest place in town. We've been playing music there a few nights a week. I'm trying to remember the words and music to some songs... my own. It's been awhile. It's great to play again, to practice for hours, and to search around in my heart for new music. Last night (photo bottom left) at an HIV/AIDS benefit concert, I performed four new songs: Ain't It Grand in Northern Thailand (very bad from an English teacher with "ain't" right in the title); I Want To Learn Your Language written in English and remedial Thai; an instructional, fun one called Keep A Condom On 'Em...24/7 and a solemn song called Too Old, Too Young about the devastation families experience when AIDS takes out the middle generation:

Grandparents and grandchildren left behind
Alone together but caught in a bind
Too old to earn or learn something new
Too young to know what to do

The plans? Soon the personal projects will benefit the public.
Record an album with Aey, of his, my and our music for his, my and your pleasure. Finish my book Life in the Laugh Lane by the end of the year. (Check out a new chapter I've just uploaded in at Asian Oral Adventures). Sell these and the rest of the Give and Live 2004 Calendars before 2004 becomes last year. Market a few Thai products that you just can't get anywhere else. We'll need some dollars to keep Give and Live alive. We've had our first donation, thank you, Eric Henry, you're a good man, but we're saving it for the first official public project.

Learning, teaching, learning, teaching, more learning, creating, giving, living.
Though I have a TEFL certificate, there's a lot more to learn about teaching. I wanted some Thai experience and a few letters of reference for my resume/CV. For the past couple months I've taught high school students in Pai, primary school teachers at Prince Royal's College and two classes of three- to six-year-olds in Chiang Mai. The biggest challenge for me was teaching these little kids, or just keeping them from exploding in the classroom. My personal research leads me to believe that humans acquire an attention span at the rate of one second per year, giving my oldest kids as high as six if they aren't immediately distracted by another with three. Imagine the task if you have12 ants in a room, you have to keep them focused in a little group and you don't speak the ant language. Imagine turning a wok upside down on the table and trying to balance 12 marbles on it. The first two hours of my first two classes were by far the longest hours of my life. "Has another second gone by yet? How about now? I think my watch has stopped. Wait, I think my heart just stopped." When those classes were finished for the week at 11AM on Wednesday morning, it felt like Friday afternoon and I needed a beer.

Teaching the high school students and primary school teachers was a joy. They wanted to learn and had an attention span of between 16 and 46 seconds. Every hour spent observing and evaluating new teacher trainees at Text and Talk is another learning/teaching lesson for me, and I'm routinely introduced to fascinating people from around the globe. I have a couple of job offers teaching at the high school in Pai and seven- to ten-year-olds in a small town near Chiangmai. I'm trying to decide how to divide up the days of the week: where I want to be when, doing what with whom. I'm still working on taxes and tax-exempt status, but the guitar and piano are my partners in procrastination.

On the advice of my graphics guru, I recently purchased the new Adobe Creative Suite for my many design needs: the book, CD covers, Give and Live collateral, new menus to help friends help their business grow, flyers for Text and Talk Academy, and to make designing this web site a breeze. It combines Photoshop, Illustrator, Acrobat, GoLive, ImageReady plus some programs that can probably launch rockets or create world peace. In the hands of a seasoned graphics professional, this Suite creates efficiently and easily. In the novice hands of musician - teacher - gardener with no manuals, just online help written for and by monkeys, learning it is a task and a half, times 24/7, divided by all the other things I'm doing. Wrangling my previous web design program was like having a Chihuahua for a pet. It didn't do much and when it had to doo-doo, you could hold it out the window and give it a squeeze. If it misbehaved, you could duct tape it to the closet ceiling. This new program is like having an elephant living in my apartment. It doo-does what it wants and if it doesn't want to, it doesn't. Duct tape has no effect on an elephant.

On a very personal note, I shaved my moustache. A friend saw me afterwards and said, "You look at least a week younger." (Maybe I'll shave the rest of my hair and try for a whole month younger.) I'm healthy and yoga keeps me fit and my neck reasonably mobile. The right foot will never be the same, but at least I have two and they both reach the ground, unlike too many Asian folks, especially in Laos and Cambodia where the carnage continues. (Oops, not a cheery ending for the update!) Sleep peacefully tonight knowing there aren't any land mines in your backyard. American presents from the past... dropped by the millions from the skies. Gifts that keep on giving grief... and taking limbs and lives.

Right now, Give and Live is still an organization getting organized. It's really just one organ, mainly a heart, beating in the heat, giving personally to friends in need, living its mission, purposes and dreams...

Previous DAY TO DAY updates:
R & R and R & R for the R: rest, relaxation, roots and rubber for the road.
20 December, 2003: Chiangmai and Pai, Thailand

Later DAY TO DAY updates:
Give-Live-Ride Thailand Charity Motorcycle Ride 2007!
January 2007, All Over Northern Thailand
220,000 baht, fireworks, badminton and love!
16 November 2005, Children's Garden, Doi Saket, Thailand
Srinehru Hmong School Gets New Facilities!

15 October 2005, Khun Chang Khian, Thailand
FERC Give and Live Benefits USA Concert Tour 2006
Raises One Million Baht for Thailand's Children

26 August - 6 October, 2005: All across America
FERC's 6th Annual Benefit Gala!
19 February 2005, Chiangmai, Thailand
There's more to give than money.
28 November 2004: Children's Garden, Doi Saket, Thailand
FERC's First Give and Live Benefit
September - October 2004: Chiangmai, Thailand
Two years ago I wasn't sure I'd live two more minutes.
27 July 2004: Sansai, Thailand

Questions? Comments? Donations?
2004 by Give and Live, USA

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