Peace Visionary Blog on Open Salon Deleted

This past week has been a bit upsetting, as the Peace Visionary blog that I’ve been posting on Open Salon for several years has been deleted. I only found out when I tried to log on and post an opinion piece that I’d written about Syria.

Dandelion Salad has carried many of my articles, and Lo posted the one I wrote on Syria, so it did get out there, but usually I post anything I write on my own blog first. Now it’s gone… by stealth attack. And all of my work has been wiped off. I can’t even post a comment on someone else’s blog on Open Salon.

Well, is my own website, so I’m going to see what I can find that I’ve written and published out there, and post it here. Perhaps it’s time to do some work on this website. I have to evaluate how I feel about being censored in my own country, and what this means about freedom of speech.

I wonder if it’s because of the article that I wrote a couple of years ago, “Rico to the Rescue” which I posted on September 11, 2011. I suggested using RICO to hold the banks accountable that were deemed “too big to fail”, the ones which got massive taxpayer bailouts in the crash of 2008. A class action suit was subsequently filed January 15, 2012 against JP Morgan and several individuals using RICO. I also found that someone had made reference to my article on the Occupy website.

It’s still upsetting that all links to my articles no longer work. Everything is gone.

Perhaps my Peace Visionary blog was muzzled because of the political pieces that I wrote which were critical of U.S. military madness.

Here is an excerpt of the lawsuit using RICO to enforce violations of the Commodity Exchange Act.

2. Plaintiffs bring this action to redress Defendants’ violations of the Commodity Exchange Act (the “CEA”), 7 U.S.C. §§ 1 et seq., violations of the Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organizations Act (“RICO”), 18 U.S.C. § 1961, et seq., violations of the New York General Business Law, and violations of common law, including breaches of fiduciary duty, as alleged,with respect to money that was unlawfully taken from the commodities customer accounts of Plaintiffs and members of the proposed Class held at MF Global and/or that Defendants unlawfully failed to segregate, and which have not been returned to them.

UPDATE: Apparently my blog, along with some other people’s blogs, were mistakenly wiped out in an effort to clean up spam. I’ve sent a message to the people who operate Open Salon, and hopefully I will soon have my blog restored again.

We Declare an End to War

This was published on my Peace Visionary blog at Open Salon.  You can visit my blog to find my writing from the past year before I started this website at
LiJingJing is the Chinese name that was given to me while I was living in China.
JANUARY 5, 2012 11:12PM

We Declare an End to War

The Earth Council of Women declares the end to all wars of any kind:  hot or cold, declared war on another country or people, undeclared war, military, cyberspace, space command, economic or psychological, and most certainly, planned wars, in particular, WWIII.

We demand:

1.  Profit from wars must stop.

2.  NATO must be disbanded.

3.  Military bases must be closed.

4.  War profiteers must be prosecuted and reparations paid.

5.  The arms industry must be shut down and all factories and laboratories for production of any kinds of weapons, including those for chemical warfare, must be converted for the benefit of humanity instead of its destruction, or closed.

6.  Military budgets must be frozen.

7.  Mercenaries and politicians who’ve built careers on waging wars must find other employment or be imprisoned as a threat to humanity.

8.  The practice of torture must end.

9.  The militarization of economies must end.

10.  Peace treaties must be signed to transition to cooperation with all people of the world instead.

11.  Nuclear weapons and all weapons must be banned immediately.

The Earth Council of Women further declares that women will no longer sacrifice their sons or husbands to the practice of war.  All forms of violence, coercion, and use of force must end.  Women and children may no longer be abused in any way, shape or form.  We are taking back our world so that love and peace may flourish.

January 6, 2012

Signed by:

(Collect signatures of all the women in your life and present to your local city council, state or provincial government, central government and the UN.)

From the Edge of Asia: An American Reports from Malaysia Volume I, Issue 3

Written by Ariel Ky in Kuala Lumpur June 8, 2012 (updated and expanded July 12, 2012)

Venus Transit

Well, I got through May and now we’re into June. The Venus Transit was a special event that just took place, putting into perspective our distance from the sun and it’s relative size to another planet. I was reading with amazement in the New Strait Times, an English newspaper available here in Malaysia, that a young man saved money just to buy a telescope in order to view this Venus Transit. It was a great event for him.

There is a national planetarium located here in Kuala Lumpur, and I’ve been to visit it because I generally like planetariums. There was quite a crowd of Malaysians there to observe the Venus Transit. One young man said it was overwhelming. However, for me, the Venus Transit was just a blip on the screen in my personal struggles. However, there may be some cosmic energies influencing the course of events and it may play a larger role in my life right now than I imagine.

Move to the Travel Hub

At any rate, I have made another abrupt change because of my pride. I thought doing housekeeping would give me a little humility, but it didn’t. When I had two men at my previous hostel telling me that I was nothing, nobody, and not important enough to even communicate with or listen to, that nobody cared what I thought, I got so insulted that I up and left.

Now I’m at another hostel, the Travel Hub, and I’m not doing housekeeping here. I’m a paying guest. I have enough money to live on for perhaps another month if I’m careful. However, processing my work visa may take 2-3 months still. I checked with HR at UCSI on my status, and was informed that they are only just now submitting my documents to the Malaysia Department of Higher Education.

Poor Internet Connection on Skype

The other day, I was unable to give three lessons to students online because the Skype connection was so poor. I lost one of my daily students in Moscow because I was not keeping our noon appointment very well. A couple times I forgot when I got into a mindless state doing housekeeping. He was unable to reschedule to a more convenient time when I moved to the hostel and they wanted me to change sheets and prepare for new guests between 11-1:00. We tried to work around my 30-minute noon lesson with him, but it didn’t always work out. Other times our lessons were disrupted when I moved to Kuala Lumpur or I’d gone without eating too many days and lost track of the time.

Quitting Live-English

I also terminated my employment with another agency that was sending me a lot of students. I earned about $240 with them last month. They only paid me $10 an hour and most of the lessons were for 30 minutes, so I only got paid $5 a session… still, it was some income. However, there were problems with their website, and one day when I was having trouble with Skype, I couldn’t reach my student alternatively through their website by phone. My Israeli boss was unsupportive and considered the problem was caused because she didn’t think I was tech-savvy. This was her same stance as the last time that I had difficulty with her website. She took it down for an entire day after I’d had problems (but never apologized to me). It was never her problem, always mine, even when the facts were contrary.

So now I have to find another way to make some money. I don’t think that I want to teach online any more, at least not in my current situation. Staying at hostels doesn’t give me any privacy for my lessons, and I don’t have that great of a Skype connection. This hostel has a much faster Internet connection, but the Skype still isn’t that great.

The good news about having moved to this hostel in the Chinatown of Kuala Lumpur is that I’m now in walking distance to a large outdoor swimming pool. It’s true that it’s quite a walk. This morning I walked up the hill over Chinatown to swim at the aging, large outdoor swimming pool at the top. It was my second time to go swimming there, and I was pleased to find that it only took 10-15 minutes to walk there from the hostel where I’m staying.

A scarlet dragonfly with a bright yellow puffy back was flitting about the pool, so I was a little wary, having once been stung by one; it was worse than a wasp’s sting. There were several large trees around the periphery of the patio area alongside the pool. Workmen were moving first large potted palms, and then flowering shrubs on carts to change the landscaping. I watched them nervously because I didn’t have the coins to get a locker. Instead, I’d carefully folded my thin cotton dress over my Reeboks, stuck my change purse in one and set my glasses on top. So as I was swimming, I was watching those workmen carefully to make sure they didn’t disturb my things.

The water felt wonderful, and I luxuriated in the sense of using my swimming muscles again. I went slowly, trying out my new, slimmer body. Eventually, I swam a little faster, enjoying the feeling of being more compact. I usually did a kind of modified breast stroke for one lap, and on the return did a backstroke, looking up at the swallow-like birds coasting on the thermals and then flying quickly to get back into one. I have regained enough of a figure for the young men to notice and smile at me. It made me nervous. I’m more used to being ignored. Nevertheless, I enjoyed looking at their muscular swimmer’s bodies. It may be one reason I like hanging out at swimming pools. It was truly wonderful swimming in that pool.

A couple times one of the scarlet dragonflies landed on the side of the pool and sat there a while.  When I swam towards it, I stayed a little, looking up at it, and whistled to it, watching it shift its tiny eyes to look at me.  That dragonfly and I communicated, curious about each other.

I didn’t want to leave after swimming for an hour, but my skin was getting all wrinkled. So I stayed awhile playing, swirling round and round with my eyes closed, feeling as though I was way out in space. Then I was ready to get out, but two guys were coming down the ladder. I moved to the side to let them come in the pool, enjoying the up close view.

Now I’m staying in a 12-bed mixed dorm with men and women… all young people, backpacker types with their backpacks strewn across the floor.

I suppose that I could ask the American Embassy to send me back to the U.S., but then I’d just be poor there without a job, and it’s a lot more expensive to live in the U.S. I wouldn’t be able to draw unemployment either. So my apparent tenacity is not so admirable, but more in the line of a necessity… like a mussel hanging onto a rock for dear life as the waves crash and recede.  Some people think the life I’m living is romantic, but being there’s nothing romantic about being this poor.

Last night four young people arrived late at the hostel, schlepping their backpacks and paraphenalia up the steep small-stepped stairs to the second floor. The guy at the front desk said there were only three dorm beds left. They conferred for a bit, and asked him if they could get the three beds and then two of them would share one. He agreed, but some of them hadn’t really thought that he’d let them do it, so they weren’t sure that they’d heard right.

The outcome was that in the dorm I’m sleeping in across from me a young couple are sleeping together, the beautiful long-black haired young woman giggling as they whisper. It’s so INTIMATE. And I’m so envious.

Egyptian Suitor

Well, I have a suitor of sorts, an Egyptian man who keeps telling me that I’ve finally found a husband. He shares his food with me, roti with hot sauce, large globular grapes, and pound cake. He is always singing and dancing, so I’m not surprised to learn that he’s one of those guys who sing at the mosque. If I married him, I wonder if I’d be wife #2 or wife #3, or maybe even wife #4.

Iranian Artist

The young man who works at the front desk is far too thin, and has shaved his head. Curious about him, I’ve talked to him quite a bit. It turns out he’s from Iran. I thought he might have AIDS. He has a delicate, precise way of doing things that I recognize from my own period of poor health after 10 days of diarrhea, when any effort takes enormous effort, and you parcel out your actions to match the depleted energy level you’re at.

His English isn’t bad, but he visibly struggles to express his thoughts. It turns out he is a very deep person, and that every topic of discussion, no matter how mundane, becomes a major issue of philosophy. Yesterday he told me that we’re not so different, that he’s in Malaysia for the same reasons that I am; because we don’t like the politics of our countries.  I found out that he’s an artist; he sketches when things get slow around here and keeps a sketch pad on the counter.  I haven’t peeked yet, but I intend to when I get a chance.

When I sleep here, my rest is rich and dreamy. Except when it isn’t. Sometimes there are two or three other guests up in the middle of the night texting on cellphones or laptops, and there’s a mechanical whine in the room that I’m pretty sure that nobody else hears but me because of my supersensitive hearing. And my dreams become mechanical and repetitive. I’m doing mundane chores endlessly or on the Internet in a joyless dreary search for information that is beyond my reach, a kind of purgatory existence.

Fantasies of a Home by the Sea in Italy

My mood flows and ebbs from satisfaction at the slice of life that I find myself in, no matter how uncomfortable, to wanting a small home somewhere by the sea, perhaps in Italy, where I can garden and have a cat or dog or maybe both, and walk along the beach. A place where I can wander into a cafe or restaurant and find congenial people to converse with, where I can watch the sun set on the sea, and feel a breeze blowing most of the time. I could perhaps find a small room to rent at a cheaper rate than what I’m paying at this hostel by the night, but I like the social life that is so easy to find here. I don’t really try to fit in, but I don’t need to.

I’m the only one in the living room of the hostel right now. It’s 9:57 a.m. and several of the other travelers are just waking up. There’s a crowd in the kitchen right now eating the free breakfast: coffee or tea and cheap white loaf bread with margarine and jam. They’re all beautiful young people who have been traveling together. I’m enjoying the sound of their happy chatter and laughter. I wonder why I never looked that good when I was younger, and what my life would have been like if I’d traveled like they’re doing with a group of friends.

Anxiety about Income

I’ve thought of some other ways to keep money coming in. I’ve been applying for work as an English teacher at jobs that are posted in KL. So far, no answer. I explored the neighborhood, crossing several lanes of busy highway to head west and see what was there. I found an urban university, and visited the HR to see if there might be work. Nobody was willing to see me just dropping in, which wasn’t promising, but I was given a business card to contact them, which I plan to follow through on.

I also applied for another online teaching position, and registered as a TOEFL teacher with GalaU. And I still have one online student remaining.

Skype the only way to have a phone call

My cell phone battery seems to have died as I have not been able to recharge it. So I put some money on Skype from my Paypal account. Malaysia doesn’t have pay phones anywhere, so if you don’t have a cell phone, you’re out of luck. At least I can make calls from my netbook.

English Spoken All Over the World Today

It just occurred to me when I was younger that I couldn’t have traveled the world in the way that these young people do today because 40 years ago, English wasn’t spoken everywhere. That led to the thought that the U.S. has most certainly overextended itself in feeling that it needs to exert a global military presence. Nobody ever asked it to be a global policeman. And the abuse of human rights with the use of torture and manipulation of markets and predatory financial practices, aggressive wars and unilateral military actions have certainly undermined any moral authority it might once have had as a champion of democracy and freedom.

U.S. Has Global Presence with the Widespread Use of English

We’ve certainly won a global presence that would be conducive to doing international trade, by the widespread use of the English language alone. Instead of making movies full of violence, torture scenes, predatory vampires, and destructive controlling aliens, we could be showing movies that feature an emerging golden age of the planet. And we’d have a ready market.

Dynamic Music the Greatest Contribution U.S. Has Made

I’ve been discovering the music of the 20th century in the U.S. on Youtube. I have my favorites from the 50′s, Buddy Holly and Roy Orbison, who I’ve been fans of for many years, but I’m also listening to some of the great black performers from earlier decades, Odetta, Big Momma Thornton, Little Richard, Lead Belly, Elizabeth Cotten, Skip Jones, Charley Patton. The vitality of this music continually astounds me.

The true greatness of Americans, it seems to me, is not in our military, but in our music in all its different genres, creativity and expressiveness.

Tamera and Dieter Duhm’s Latest Book, Towards a New Culture

What would it take to shift the focus of the U.S. in a healthier direction? There’s a model eco-village in southern Portugal called Tamera, which was started by Dieter Duhm, Sabine Lichtfields, Monika Berghoff, and a few other individuals from Germany who wanted to create an alternative way of living, a model community. I’ve been following their projects for several years and seen the community grow to 170 individuals.

Even though their website and community have been attacked at times, the community has thrived and they’ve carried out several of their projects, including an annual peace university that they hold every summer to bring young people together from Israel and Palestine to learn conflict resolution and leadership skills in peacemaking. I’m on their mailing list and intend to live there for a few months to learn from them, as I want to start my own community eventually, Terra Haven.

This week I received a book online from Tamera that was written by Dieter Duhm, Towards a New Culture. I’ve started reading it, and resonated immediately with the following line: “The success of our efforts to defend life and the Earth will stand or fall in the long term on our being able to develop our own new, concrete cultural and social approaches for our own future in which the psychic mechanisms of destruction between people can be fully recognized and brought into resolution.”

Resolving the Psychic Mechanisms of Destruction Between People

It would be fruitful to examine a way to resolve the psychic mechanisms of destruction between countries as well. More than wars between nations, I believe that what we face today is a class war between a tiny wealthy elite and everyone else. A management class buffers the elite and serves them, comprised of heads of state, corporate boards and management, mainstream media, and militaries that carry out their bidding. The presidents of the U.S. also serve them in carrying out their agenda.

The Answer:  End and Heal the War Between Women and Men

As long as women and men war against each other, my sense is that nothing will change. However, if women and men could mend and heal the rifts that divide them and come into harmony in their relations, this wealthy elite would not be able to get away with their power and control schemes. It is the basic inequality and lack of freedom in the relations between men and women that every other inequality, suppression and oppression is based on. I know this on a deep, intuitive level. It is one truth that I have access to, which my life has been based on.

I look forward to reading Dieter’s book because I think he may be one of those bold pioneers who is perhaps coming up with some real answers to the dilemma that humanity faces. Dieter Duhm is authentically living out his ideas, not some academic theorist such as Noam Chomsky, who I recently discovered is a millionaire in his own right, having profited from his position in academia and his writing and speaking engagements so that he has become one of the celebrities that serve the status quo as much as the management class does.

Abrupt Change

As of yesterday, June 5, I am no longer teaching online with Live-English.  There is one student, in particular, who I will be sorry to lose, Du Yang in Shenzhen.  Unfortunately I have no way to contact him other than through Live-English.  His English improved greatly in the short time that I worked with him on almost a daily basis.  We were beginning to enjoy great conversations as he gained in confidence and fluency in speaking English.  I believe that online English instruction one-on-one with a teacher is the best way for a student to improve their English quickly, especially for those who haven’t had much practice with speaking.

I was unable to teach my online students yesterday because of interference with our Skype connection.  The calls kept being dropped, the sound was being pulsed so that I could not understand what students were saying even though I could hear them.  The video came through clearly at first, but then soon broke up and then turned into a static screen with a bilious green color.

The first time it happened, I tried to call the student from the Live-English website instead, but I couldn’t find his name.  When I tried to access the student pull-down list of names, it only gave me names ending A-L.  The list had been cut in half.  I wasn’t able to access the full list… and my student’s name ended in S.  So I called Stephanie at Live-English, who was not at all supportive.  When I told her that there was a problem with the website, she didn’t believe me, and thought it was incompetence on my part.

Finally, she berated me for not doing what I should to overcome these technical problems.  I said that I didn’t think that I was tech-savvy enough to do this.  I did not care for her way of dealing with these problems, which was the same M/O she’d used previous times when I needed support, so I quit.  I was too frustrated with problems with Skype, but also problems with her service and her attitude.

But I am sorry to lose Du Yang as a student.

I like teaching online and I’m going to start my own consulting service as an ESL teacher.  If you know of anyone who would like to study English with me online, I am charging $20 an hour.  I can be reached at my email address:

Back in Kuala Lumpur

I’ve been back in Kuala Lumpur for 13 days now, and it’s been eventful.  At first, I was slightly overwhelmed by the faster pace of the city and dazzled by all the people.  I realized that I’d been suffering from sensory underload at the beach; I hadn’t even realized that I was feeling deprived of all the sensual stimuli of living among a density of people.  I am learning that despite my love of nature, I am truly a city person.  All I knew was that I was too lonely, and that my life lacked zest.

Although I had a job interview at a language school a couple days after I arrived, the woman I’d scheduled the interview with had apparently forgotten all about it as she wasn’t there and the staff were not expecting me.  I think she was giving me the interview as a favor to a friend, and didn’t want to hire me for just a couple of months, as I’d told her about my job at UCSI starting in August.

I’d already arranged to volunteer at Hostel Cosmopolitan doing housekeeping in exchange for a place to stay, so that’s what I fell back to.  I could look for other work that pays, but as I already have a little income with my online students, this should see me through until I start teaching at UCSI.

I walked into a trying situation at the hostel, though.  There was a guy from Sri Lanka, a big, handsome man, who had apparently swindled three Philippine guests out of a couple thousand ringgit, promising them jobs at his sister’s new restaurant in Germany.  It was all under the table, of course, so when he cancelled their airline tickets ten minutes after going with them to the ticket agency to buy them, and pocketed the money that got refunded, the police were not very helpful when the matter was reported.

The Philippine woman cried and the other guests took her side.  They decided to carry out a citizen’s arrest of the fellow.  Loud voices in the kitchen woke me up that first morning at the hostel.  I went out on one of the computers in the lounge, but the altercation between a highly aggressive, verbally violent young Dutch man and the Sri Lankan moved within a couple feet of where I was sitting.

Thief and con man or not, the Sri Lankan fellow handled himself well, and stayed in control of himself despite taunts and threats from the Dutch fellow.  I was displeased and taken aback at the prospect of a scuffle when the Dutch guy threatened to slap the Sri Lankan, and intervened to calm things down (without really knowing what was going on).  The Dutch guy backed off then, and sat at another computer, saying that he didn’t want a fellow like that continuing to stay at the hostel.

I told him that I wasn’t sure that I wanted someone like himself staying at the hostel, that his manner and speech was violent.  He told me the story of the swindle, and I asked him if he’d witnessed it or was the woman crying the only proof he had of what had happened.  Apparently it was, but it wasn’t sufficient evidence to me.  It had convinced all the other guests, though.  And maybe the Philippines were swindled; I’ll never know they cleared out at the same time the Sri Lankan did.

The Dutch guy felt thwarted by my intervention and blamed me for letting the Sri Lankan guy get away.  He continued to assault me verbally when I encountered him a couple times afterwards.  He was friends with Zara, the young Malaysian woman who worked the front desk, and Zara was friends with Noemi, my roommate in the dorm.  Zara was coming in and out of the dorm at night, continually waking me up by turning the light on every time she came in.  Mostly she just wanted to use the mirror in the room to comb her hair.  I asked her politely not to come into the room at night when I was sleeping.  She didn’t see any reason to stop because she was friends with Noemi, who was also in the dorm.

One thing led to another and these three people were playing tricks on me, stealing my locker key, shampoo and conditioner, etc., until I felt so harrassed that I felt that I must leave the hostel, although with what money and where I would go, I didn’t know.  I spoke to Mr. Naim, the manager and owner of the hostel about what was happening.  He said that he’d investigate, but he doubted that these people were conspiring against me.  Later, after he talked to them, he said that I was right and there was a conspiracy against me.  He asked Noemi and the Dutch guy to leave and find another place to stay, and had a talk with Zara, who chose to leave his employ after that.

So things have settled down somewhat since then.  Zara had been doing the housekeeping as well as the front desk before I arrived, but she had very little interest in doing it, and the place was actually pretty dirty.  I’ve enjoyed the challenge of bringing up the standard of housekeeping here, and I’ve enjoyed the social life that the hostel offers, now that the Zara clique has left.

I ran into Noemi on the street the other day.  She no longer looked so powerful or content.  She looked more like a hardened member of the criminal underclass and when she saw me, the flat hate in her eyes was disconcerting.  I’ll be glad when she returns to Borneo, which should be any day now.   I guess her new situation is not so favorable as what she enjoyed here.

Mr. Naim brought in a couple workmen to clean the air conditioners on the third floor.  Then he hired a work crew to lay down a new floor on the fourth floor.  Every day when I finish changing bedsheets and sweeping and mopping the third floor, doing laundry, and cleaning the toilets, sinks and showers, I have a great sense of accomplishment that I’m leaving that floor really clean.  It’s the most physical labor I’ve done in many years during my five-hour shift from 11 a.m.-4 p.m., but it’s satisfying work.

This morning I went to the new egg place around the corner, and brought the plastic carton to hold 10 eggs that the owner had given me the last time I bought eggs there, urging me to recycle and reuse it.  The eggs only cost RM 2.40 (about 75 cents).  Then I bought a kilo of potatoes for RM 3.00.  As usual when I go out on the street, I have to wend my way through the moving cars and bikers who dominate the space and claim first rights.

I haven’t had much luck with roommates here.  There was a pregnant woman with a young child who Nor caught going through my things, about to steal my cell phone.  She got turned out, too.  Then there was an American woman who spent a couple of nights in my room before changing to another one.  I asked her to turn off her cell phone at night because it was disturbing my sleep, but she wanted to use it for an alarm clock.  Now there’s a young woman from Japan who coughs a lot and is an insomniac.  I suspect she has radiation sickness from Fukushima.  She wears a face mask most of the time, but in the room much of the time all she wears is bikini underwear.

Overall, I much prefer the male guests who stay here.  I enjoy talking to them and sharing meals.


From the Edge of Asia: an American Reports from Malaysia Volume 1 Issue 2

Ariel Ky    May 15, 2012

This morning I was listening to music on Youtube, trying to find songs that are good for learning English that I thought my Russian student would like.  I listened to the 10 top singers for 2012, but decided that their songs required too great a voice range or that they were not complex enough.  Finally I chose Time After Time by Javier Colon, Imagine by John Lennon,  and What a Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong.  I was singing along to the songs, and at one point, I started singing a melody that just came to me, improvising as I went along, surprised at what was coming out of me.  It sounded so lovely, and a bird chorus outside started singing with me, trilling and joyously singing along. I don’t know where that all came from, but it was quite magical.

I’ve been getting more students since I signed up with another agency based in Europe.  Lately I’ve had as many as five online students a day.  Unfortunately, I have to work the entire month of May before I can get paid.

I had good news on the certification test that I’d taken again on after failing it the first time. My studying with their tutorials on their website had paid off.  I got 20/20 on the writing exam, and a compliment on my writing about black cupboard knobs.  I’d passed!  Unfortunately, when I tried to register to get paid, I found out that I couldn’t work for as an American living overseas, for tax reasons, I was informed.

So my days have been fuller with teaching more students online.   There have been rainstorms almost every day.  The other day, there were two storms in the evening and going into the night.  It rained for hours, which was unusual.  The storms move in quickly here, unleash torrential rains, but then quickly move on.

Antares, my Malaysian friend at Magick River, had been working to put me in touch with his Australian friend, Ben, who lives a couple hours north of me.   Ben finally called this morning; it was nice to have my phone ring.  He told me about a New Zealander friend of his who was married to a Sudanese guy who’d lived in Canada for a long time.  (I’m not sure that I got that all straight.)  Anyways, he told me that she had a language school in KL that had been doing quite well, and was always looking for teachers.  He got her number for me and called me back with it.  I called her and got hold of her right off.

We set up an interview Friday; I hope that my money for teaching online comes through by then so that I can make it to KL in time.  Ben’s friend really wants to find a permanent teacher, and as much as I’d like to wait for the job at UCSI, I might take this one instead, even if it pays less, just to be working again.

I was planning on moving back to Kuala Lumpur from the beach anyways.  I’d heard from Mohammed at Hostel Cosmopolitan that I could stay in a bed in a dorm in exchange for making beds and cleaning toilets four or five hours a day.  I’ve been getting too lonely here, and I’ve got friends at the hostel.  I fit in there with all the other travelers.  It’d help me get by until I am able to start my teaching position at UCSI later this summer.   Or if I start teaching at the language school, I can maybe stay there until my first paycheck.

The bugs, mosquitoes, fleas and bees are getting to me here at the beach.  I’m running out of everything and only have a couple of potatoes left.  The online agency is taking the full four days to process my pay (last time they paid me as soon as I submitted my hours), leaving me in dire straits again.  I’m really on the edge of survival here.

After GalaU pays me, the money has to go through Paypal and my bank in the U.S. before it’s available to me.  This is a precarious existence.  I know it sounds adventurous and exotic to be living at the beach in Malaysia, and it is, but it’s definitely got its down side.

May 13
A Tiny Visitor

Yesterday I had a headache all day long off and on (probably from caffeine withdrawal as I’d run out of coffee). I‘ve been depressed, but my life at the beach here without much money has not been all bleak.  The most enchanting thing happened to me yesterday in the late afternoon.

I had my door open to catch any breezes that might waft in, and was lying on the bed doing something on my computer. I looked up and there was a baby bird on my doorsill, about three inches tall, just a little brown bird with a tawny round tummy, a darker dun colored top, a tiny yellow beak, and little reddish-orange stick legs.  I greeted my tiny visitor and spoke to it for about five minutes as it stood in the doorway. That encouraged it to walk into the room and start flying about.

Obviously it was just learning to fly as these were short bumbling flights under the table, banging into the legs, knocking into things and falling to the floor.  Finally, it flew to the top of the door to the bathroom, perching precariously on the narrow door frame, and looking afraid of the height it had achieved.

Eventually it made its way back to the door.  I extended my finger for it to perch there, but it flew up to my shoulder instead and walked across the top of my back.  I didn’t like the way that felt.  Those little feet were sharp.  Before it left my room, it stood again on the doorsill, chirping away at me.  For such a tiny little bird, it had rather loud chirps.

As I started writing about the bird just now, I felt something brush against me, and the wee bird had returned and perched next to me on a fold on the curtain, chirping away. I didn’t see it leave. It was flying by the wall behind me. I heard it hit something again and fall to the floor. It’s probably regrouping.

The bird is still in my room, chirping away.  It had tried to fly out of my room earlier, but I’d put up strips of tape at the top of my door, hoping to stop flies from coming in.  It got caught momentarily on one of the pieces of tape, but then it freed itself and flew to the porch next door.  So then I took down the pieces of tape, distressed that the bird had gotten caught on one; they had never stopped any flies. 

Then I looked to the porch on the hut next door where it had flown and was chirping away, and to my dismay, I saw the black cat avidly watching the little bird.  I’ve been careful not to touch the bird because I know that the mother probably won’t go near it if a human has touched it.  But that black cat was advancing, its tail twitching back and forth, every nerve alert, those green eyes entirely focused on that little bird.

So I went over to the bird and offered my finger for it to perch on, but that scared it, too, and it just moved a little more under the railing.  The cat was getting nearer and started to settle its body for the killing move, so I decided to rescue my little bird.  I scooped it into my hand and walked back to my porch.  The poor little bird was quivering in my hand.  The black cat was bewildered.  It was looking everywhere, under the porch, on the ground, under the railing.  What had happened to the bird that was just there?

Then the black cat saw me standing there, watching him, and you could see that it had just occurred to him that perhaps that little bird was with me.  I retreated with the bird into my hut, but the bird decided then to fly up to the roof of the porch.  The black cat was watching its every move, and the bird decided that it felt safer with me, and flew back down to nestle in my dress.

I scooped it into my hand again and walked into the hut, closing the front door as I went, shutting out the predatory black cat.  I sat on the bed for five minutes with the little bird in my hand.  It quickly calmed down, and was very still.  I felt tranquil.  I couldn’t help but marvel at how light it was, yet it had weight and I could feel its solid presence in my hand.  I tried to generate a feeling of love to send to it, but I’m such a dried-up husk of myself right now, that I couldn’t.  The best that I could offer was to just be there with it in friendship.

On closer examination, I could see that it had a sprinkling of green feathers across its back.  Eventually it started flying again and found its way out the window.

I am teaching English online, and it’s probably enough money to keep me going until my teaching position starts later this summer. I need to go get my passport, which I renewed recently, from the U.S. Embassy in Kuala Lumpur and take it to the HR office of UCSI. I’ll do that the next time I get paid, but in order to wait until I have enough hours to make enough money to go to KL, I will probably have to make the food last another week. It won’t be easy.

I’ve become such a recluse.  I don’t want to see people much – they haven’t been very friendly here beyond the initial goodwill when I was still seen as a tourist.

.I’m sitting by the floor fan.  It feels nice.  The morning sun is casting strong shadows and it’s quite beautiful here.  I’m feeling so peaceful that I could disappear in a plume of smoke and it would be as though I were never here.  All the anger is gone

I’m sad.  It seems as though whenever I get a break and things are starting to move forward, that something always happens, and the opportunity disappears or it moves way into the future where it can’t do me any good now.  Everything is so much effort, so much work, and then nothing comes of it.  It’s as though I’m on a deserted island and a boat comes along, and I think I’m rescued, but then there’s no wind, and I’m still stranded.  May 9, 2012

The weather’s been quite changeable in the last few days, and I’ve come down with a runny nose.  Blast it!  I saw a monkey slap his hands and kill a fly that was pestering him.  I just did the same for a mosquito.  He did it in such a casual way; it was really cool.  All right, I know, it’s time to go.  I’m hanging out too much with the monkeys.

I‘ve been up early with the monkeys.  I was feeding the little spider monkeys some pieces of orange.  They didn’t want to come near me, so I put  the pieces down for them, and they scurried to get them as soon as I moved away.

The biggest monkey, the gent with the big balls, had gotten comfortable with coming near me, and he sauntered right up to me, but I didn’t have any more orange pieces then.  So I went back and got another orange, which we shared.  He bared his teeth at me as he was reaching for the orange, which frightened me a bit, but then he looked at me after taking the section, and I could tell that he was thanking me. 

I shared a couple slices of bread with him then as I was making myself toast.  He wrapped one slice of bread and ate it rolled up.  After that, he picked up the other slice as two smaller monkeys were watching from the overhang of the roof above, and took a couple of bites out of that.  Then he threw it carelessly down on the ground and wandered off, as if to say he’d had enough.

The smaller monkeys were not willing to advance, not as long as I was standing in the door, although I could tell that they wanted that slice of bread very badly.  So I retreated and turned around just in time to see one of them come forward and pick it up.  He was watching me carefully, though, and saw that I’d turned around and watched him.

May 6, 2012

I just have to make a little more money.  This website,, doesn’t pay much at all for writing, but if I could just make a little more money, it’d be worth it.  So I’ve been studying how to write ad copy, and I took the test again tonight.  Maybe this time I will pass it.

Here’s what I wrote about black cupboard knobs.  The first time around, I couldn’t imagine how to make this interesting.  I think I did a better job this time.

If you’ve got the kitchen blahs, think black cupboard knobs. Switch out your old knobs for these sharp-looking black ones, and be surprised at how easy it is to achieve a new look. Getting the right knobs and pulls can also add the finishing touch to a complete makeover. Another interesting choice in hardware that can take you in a different direction is birdcage cupboard knobs, which come in various designs with a stylized mesh. If you spend a lot of time in the kitchen, you will enjoy personalizing the details that make a difference in how your kitchen looks.

I also went up and down the street today looking for work again and a place to cook my food, so that I can save money that way, and have a little more variety to eat.  I’ve got a toaster and a water boiler in my room, but that’s all.  I haven’t been able to find an electric hot plate.  All they have in the stores are heavy gas models, which I wouldn’t know how to use. 

This evening the monkey tribe came down the pole on my hut, including two mamas carrying their newborn babies.  I think they wanted me to see that they’d had babies.  At one time I had five monkeys on my front porch, with two in the doorway. They really are losing their fear of me.

I got a message that my passport has arrived, but I need to make a trip to Kuala Lumpur to get it, and once I get it, I need to take it to HR at UCSI so they can start processing my work visa, but I’m going to need some more money to be able to get there.

I am really clawing my way back up from having run out of food and money and being sick and all of that. 

Biker Hell

Last week was horrendous, and I didn’t send out a newsletter because I was still recovering from the horde of bikers who came to Cherating Beach like an invasion of locusts.  At least a couple of hundred bikers descended on the beach here and stayed for several days.  There were four or five bikers in each of the huts around me, and they’d linger out front in packs, gunning their engines for long periods of time, just talking and hanging out on their bikes, usually from 10-30 minutes at a time, fouling the air with their exhaust, and besieging me with the noise.

I’d gotten some money from my online teaching to go buy some groceries, and had gone into Kemaman shopping.  I was walking back from the highway with my bags when I ran into the bikers.  There were two of the bikers showing off, popping wheelies in front of me as they crossed each other right in front of me.  It was quite a show, but I was in the wrong place at the wrong time. The acrid black exhaust hit me in the eyes like tear gas so that I collapsed and screamed in agony.

And then I was furious, and screamed out my frustration like a two-year-old throwing a tantrum.  I lost all civility and started cursing them.  One of the guys laughed evilly and popped another wheelie in front of me, sending another black cloud of exhaust in my face.  There were about 20 bikers in the group, and they were enjoying themselves; nobody cared that I’d been hurt.  Before the bikers had been a nuisance that had been increasingly wearing on my nerves, but this incident marked the point where I began to really hate those bikers.

So when I walked a little further and came across another group of bikers sitting out under the big mango tree at the entrance of Duyong who were all laughing, having enjoyed my distress and show of anger, I lost my temper again.  I told them that I hoped that would all die slow painful deaths of cancer from their bikes’ exhaust fumes, and that they would become deaf from the noise before they turn 40.  I don’t think their English was good enough to understand me, but they did get it that I was being quite unpleasant.

For the most part, bikers are known for being callously indifferent to what anyone else thinks of them, but when I told two young bikers that they weren’t welcome here and not to come back, I think that did get through to them.

They left that night, thank goodness.  The next morning, I picked up several bags of trash that they’d left on the beach, beer and wine bottles, over a dozen dirty diapers, some in the water, even batteries that were starting to leach acid into the sand.  Some people don’t deserve to get out in nature (I wouldn’t blame the Earth if it decided to just rid itself of humanity.)

My eyes have been hurting for almost a week.  They’re finally starting to recover.  I’ve kept to myself, but today I made myself go out and talk to people.  It’s not good to be so isolated and alienated.  The honeymoon with Malaysia is definitely over after this.

Mother’s Day is coming up this Sunday, May 13.  Two of my childhood friends, Joni and Sheila, have arranged a Skype call with me that morning. 

There’s a butterfly flitting about across the way.  I’m watching it, and I’m feeling this vast sadness that’s engulfing me.  Maybe I can just fly above it, like the butterfly. 

My idea for the Women’s Earth Council apparently isn’t a new one.  Karla Crescenta in Colorado Springs sent out this poem recently in a newsletter.  So I think I’m keeping good company here with Julia Ward Howe. 

In 1870, Julia Ward Howe penned the ORIGINAL Mothers’ Day Proclamation as a poem:

“Arise, then, women of this day !  Arise all women who have hearts, whether your baptism be that of water or of tears.  Say firmly:

We will not have great questions decided by irrelevant agencies. Our husbands shall not come to us reeking of carnage, for caresses and applause.

Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn all that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience.  We women of one country will be too tender of those of another country to allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs.  From the bosom of the devastated Earth a voice goes up with our own: 

It says, Disarm, Disarm.  The sword of murder is not the balance of justice.

Blood does not wipe out dishonor, nor violence indicate possession... . . . . . . .

I earnestly ask that a general congress of women without limit of nationality may be appointed . . . . with its objects to promote the alliance of the different nationalities, the amicable settlement of international questions, the great & general interests of peace.”



Settling into beach hut on Cherating Beach

I’m sitting on the worn wooden porch of the hut where I’m living right now.  I’m looking out on a small field with a white horse grazing on long grass.  It has a dirty long tail that reaches the ground.  The tail’s quite luxurious, actually, and the horse is continually flicking it to keep flies off.   Maybe I’ll buy it some carrots when I go into town today.

To my right is a hill that rises steeply above us, tropical jungle, lush green trees and vines suspended from them.  There is a particularly splendid large tree bridging the earth and sky which looks like the tree of life.  To my left, in front of my beach hut, is a large palm tree where I saw two monkeys playing this morning.

I went to have my lesson with my Russian student online who works in Siberia at the restaurant nearby, but the signal wasn’t strong enough for us to have video.  I need to find a stronger signal for teaching on Skype.  In my room, I can only get one bar (out of 5 which show how strong the signal is) – that’s enough to email, but not Skype.  After our lesson when I returned to my hut, the monkeys had taken the lid off my trash can.

I’ve been studying the Malaysian language since I arrived here in January.  Now I am starting to speak in sentences.  It’s quite an easy language to learn, and I find that I don’t have to work very hard at remembering new words.  I’ve studied ten lessons in a very good book, and worked my way through a couple children’s workbooks.  I really enjoy workbooks.

I saw eight monkeys foraging for food in the trash as I went out for breakfast at one of the open cafes on the main street here.  Maybe it wasn’t a whole troop, but there were enough monkeys moving about to make me a little nervous to walk past them.  Macaques.

There are so many birds here that I’m not familiar with.  I’ve been listening to their calls.  Some have lovely songs.  It’s been raining off and on.  There’s a gently breeze blowing right now… a proper zephyr, it is.  It cooled off quite a bit last night.  I didn’t sleep too well, all these jungle sounds kept me awake, peepers, birds and frogs… and I could really have used a blanket.  Also both pillows were feather, which I’m allergic to, so I’ll remedy all that today.

But the energy by the sea is very gentle and sweet.  Once I get used to it, I’m sure I’ll sleep well.  I have a roommate, a pale yellow lizard about 4″ long.  He doesn’t take up much room on the wall, but I can hear him moving about.  I also heard something chewing on something early this morning.  I was careful to discipline my thoughts not to imagine too much about what that something was.  I think it was surprised when it heard me moving; it’s probably been a while since someone has lived in this room.  I didn’t hear it again, so I think it moved on when it realized the room was now inhabited.

I had to kill off the fire ants on the steps of the porch yesterday that kept swarming out of a hole.  But I wasn’t surprised to find a hazard here.  It was their cheapest room, only about $3 a day, but it has windows on both east and west walls that catch a sea breeze.  It’s actually a good size and has a sizable square bathroom that you step down into.  The bathroom has nice tiling, but a funky toilet with the tank mounted on the wall high above it.  At first I had to pump the plastic handle to get it to flush, but now it’s flushing easily.  Surprisingly, there’s a mirror on the wall, (although not above the sink) and a good, long sturdy towel bar.

So I was up early and went out by the beach.  I watched two guys pull up in a car just before dawn.  They were waxing their surfboards, even though it started to drizzle.  The waves didn’t look large enough to surf, but I noticed later that they were considerably larger.   Fabian, my new French friend, told me that surfing season is really over.  The best waves are in November and December during the monsoon season.  We’re entering the dry season now, but it’s still plenty wet.

It’s just about time for the leatherback sea turtles to come in and start laying their eggs.  I’m looking forward to seeing that.