New Blog For You to Read

Posted on February 27th, by matt_schiavenza in Uncategorized. No Comments

I have been remiss in pointing out the establishment of a new blog, Treehouse, from my friend Juan Carlos "Jay" Calzetta.  Jay’s got a wide range of interest and writes well, so I think you’ll enjoy what he has to say. You can find the permalink to his site under the category "NBNL Friends"…


Posted on February 27th, by matt_schiavenza in Uncategorized. No Comments

What do we do about Barry Bonds’ legacy?  Some hysterical writers nationwide and many fans think an asterisk or some sort of insignia ought to be displayed next to his statistics as a "scarlet letter" indicating his alleged steroid use.

I disagree completely.  First of all, there’s no way to tell in retrospect which players used illegal substances and which ones didn’t.  Secondly, how do you measure other forms of cheating, such as spitballing?  Third, is it fair to evaluate statistics from pre-1947, when black players were not allowed?  There are simply too many variables involved.

The possibility of "false positives" also deter me from endorsing a one-strike and you’re out law regarding steroids testing today.  Would two positive results be better?  I don’t know.

So it’s a tricky issue.  The libertarian in me wants to cast aside the whole issue but that doesn’t seem satisfying, either. 

In any case, I’d rather just enjoy the baseball season without this dark cloud hanging overhead.  Will Bonds lose the motivation now that most of America won’t acknowledge his achievements?  I certainly hope not.  The Giants season hinges on him being as productive as he has been in the last four seasons- no matter what Peter Magowan says.…

Hunter S Thompson RIP

Posted on February 26th, by matt_schiavenza in Pop Culture. 3 comments

As Max guessed in the comments, I do have something to say about the suicide of one of my favorite writers, Hunter S Thompson.

As sad as it is, it seems appropriate in a macabre way, doesn’t it?  I couldn’t see Thompson gracefully aging, though William Burroughs more or less managed to do that.  Someone who lived his life in the fast lane ended it in the same way. 

I love Fear and Loathing, but I think I like The Rum Diary the best.  It’s a little-known book that Thompson wrote in his early 20s but didn’t publish until years later- well after he had become a household name in journalism. It concerns an English language newspaper in 1950s San Juan, Puerto Rico, and borrows quite heavily from Hemingway.  Nonetheless, you can see the emergence of Thompson’s own writing style, one that continues to be widely imitated.

But never matched.…

Back in Action

Posted on February 26th, by matt_schiavenza in NBNL. No Comments

I just returned from a professional development conference sponsored by my emp[loyer, WITT, so blog posts will be regular for the first time in over a month.  Living out of a suitcase (or in my case, a backpack) gets exhausting after awhile, even for someone who loves doing it as much as I do.

The conference in and of itself wasn’t exciting, but it was cool meeting the other teachers employed by WITT around China.  Most of them are in their 50 and 60s, and nearly all come from New Zealand.  That being said, there are a few of us in our 20s (including a girl exactly my age who grew up in Hayward) and we had a good time exploring the city of Changzhou, southwest of Lianyungang near Nanjing.

The hotel was of high quality, four stars, and the guy who was meant to be my roommate didn’t show up, so I had this large room to myself.  We gorged ourselves on the western breakfast available each morning in the buffet, and took advantage of the bar (the old-timers even more so than us whippersnappers). 

I won’t bore you with the details of the conference, but needless to say I won’t be twisting slowly in the wind this semester because I’m now armed with a better sense of what I should be doing in the classroom.  We’ll see how long it lasts, but it’s a start.

Anyway, it’s good to be back here.  It’s even getting warmer!…

Sex Video Controversy! At UCSD?

Posted on February 19th, by matt_schiavenza in Uncategorized. 3 comments

I never thought I’d live to see the day, but my alma mater UC San Diego was mentioned in a blurb on Fleshbot: apparently, someone made a porn video of himself with an unidentified woman and aired it on SRTV.

Why didn’t anything like this happen when I was there? {don’t ask-ed. good point}…

Back In China- Trip Conclusion

Posted on February 17th, by matt_schiavenza in Southeast Asia Travels 2005. No Comments

From the heavy layers of clothing I’m wearing to the sound of the wind rustling in the trees outside, my holiday in Thailand has rudely concluded and now I’m back in China- Shanghai, to be exact.  Tomorrow morning I’ll be taking a bus (hopefully, as planning is futile in a place like China) back to Lianyungang. 

Unfortunately, the homecoming will be short as I’ll be leaving Sunday for a week-long seminar in Hanzhou, Jiangsu Province organized by WITT, my employer.  I’ll barely have time to get settled in my apartment before hitting the road again, so as you might understand I’m not all that thrilled about the prospect of a seminar.  I’ll at least have the opportunity to meet some of the teachers employed by WITT in other parts of the country.

I can say that my Thailand trip was among the laziest I’ve ever done.  I went only three places in three weeks (not counting Beijing).  I spent ten days on Ko Pha Ngan, and island where there’s little to do but sit on the beach.  I only saw one temple, and resisted the urge to "sightsee" just to satisfy some sort of unspoken requirement of traveling.  Not to slight Thailand’s sights, but aside from my one-day trek near Chiang Mai, I just wasn’t that interested on this trip.

But there were many fine memories overall.  Some of my favorites:

- walking The Great Wall
- the tuk-tuk ride through the streets of Bangkok
- jumping off the 30 foot cliff into the cove at a watefall near Chiang Mai
- riding an elephant near Chiang Mai
- watching There’s Something About Mary and countless other movies while in Ko Pha Ngan and Bangkok
- drinking Samsung buckets
- dancing on the sand at Ko Pha Ngan
- riding a motorscooter all over Ko Pha Ngan
- nearly falling off the bamboo raft into the river near Chiang Mai
- having a real Thai dinner with Bee, a friend from my SDSU TEFL course.

Of course, all the people I met: Chris in Bankok, Adam and Paul in Chiang Mai, Missy & Joker and Jesse at Hat Yao, Ko Pha Ngan: Jaimie and Falyn at Hat Rin,Ko Pha Ngan and many others whose names I, uh, don’t remember.

So another trip over….in a way, I’m happy to be back.  You never appreciate a place much until you leave, if even just for a little while.  I’m looking forward to resuming my apartment, friends, and  life in Lianyungang.

This blog will sorta kinda go back to normal, as there are lots of issues on my mind: baseball and steroids (Canseco’s new book), Hillary Clinton and abortion, Iraq, and a commentary on the many books I read while on my trip.…

Winding Down

Posted on February 13th, by matt_schiavenza in Southeast Asia Travels 2005. No Comments

Haven’t posted much in awhile, as my holiday has settled into a nice routine.  I have enjoyed reading on the beach, sitting in cafes watching movies, and hanging out with some cool people.  Internet cafes are absurdly expensive here (for Thailand) so I probably won’t write anything thoughtful or worthwhile until I return to Bangkok in a few days.…

And some sporting thoughts

Posted on February 9th, by matt_schiavenza in Uncategorized. 1 Comment

I didn’t really care about the Super Bowl this year, though it was cool seeing local boy Tom Brady winning his third trophy in four years.  The bit of football information I took more interest in was the induction of Steve Young into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

I’m too young to remember most of the Joe Montana golden years, so for me, Young was the Niners QB I remember most fondly.  He spent a good part of his career in the shadow of Montana, and it wasn’t easy for him to replace a legend AND maintain the ridiculously high standards 49er fans (used to) have.

John York ought to make the classy move and retire his No. 8 jersey…..memories of great teams of yesteryear will have to carry us through the current dark ages.…

Ko Pha Ngan and on and on

Posted on February 9th, by matt_schiavenza in Southeast Asia Travels 2005. No Comments

I promised to blog about the Black Moon Party but as it was such a dud, I don’t have many positive things to say about it.  I should have smelled a rat as they had a ludicrous 200 baht cover charge, but we marched in anyway expecting a riotous party.  Nah.  Wasn’t happening.  The DJ spun hard house and the crowd wasn’t really into it….mostly we sat around and drank Samsung buckets (thai whiskey and red bull….very healthy!) but after awhile nobody was in the mood so we just wandered around checking out the dance floor.  Yuck…how disappointing.

Happily, the Hat Rin part of Ko Pha Ngan has a lot else going for it.  The "downtown" resembles a miniature version of Bangkok’s Khao San Road, full of internet cafes, travel agencies, tacky art shops, and restaurants.  Most of the restaurants play pirated DVDs so most of the beach-goers retire here in the evenings.  Around midnight, most of the younger crowd heads to the beach where there are several bars and many young backpackers clustered around lit torches.

Hardcore travelers tend to eschew Hat Rin because of its popularity, but I’ve found it to be very chill and full of cool people. You don’t have the "forced debauchery" atmosphere like there is on certain Greek islands, and it’s just as easy to have a night in as it is to rage.

All in all, an ideal spot for the tail end of my trip.  In six days or so I’ll be back in Bangkok, putting on my winter clothes and flying back to frigid China.  I’ll be enjoying this while it lasts!…

Ko Pha Ngan

Posted on February 6th, by matt_schiavenza in Southeast Asia Travels 2005. 2 comments

I’ve landed in Ko Pha Ngan, the middle of three islands off the coast of Surant Thani in the Gulf of Thailand.  Tropical paradise?  Indeed….complete with cocunut trees and enormous insects.  I’ve been staying at a remote stretch of beach in a private bungalow costing all of five dollars.  Not bad, not bad.

Yesterday, I channeled Steve McQueen and rented a motobike with a German/Irish couple, which I approached with more than the requisite caution.  We scooted around the island at speeds approaching 50 k/hr, and I must say it was a hell of a time.  There were waterfalls, exotic jungles, and all sorts of visual delights along the way.  I even stopped and ate a cheeseburger.

Ko Pha Ngan is famous for its Full Moon beach raves, held at the opposite side of the island from where I am staying.  In the spirit of "not needing an excuse to party", they throw smaller versions once a week, corresponding with whichever moon period is relevant.  On Tuesday, I’ll be going to the Half Moon Party, so am preparing to move to that beach in the next day or two.

I no longer intend to go to Cambodia this time, as the idea of staying put in one country appeals to my laziness and love of Thailand.  I’ll be staying here for awhile yet, and then it’s off to Bangkok and  a flight to frigid China.

Account of rave later!…