Whacking Day

It is the first day for the last class that I will be teaching this summer, which is also the last class that I will be teaching at JSU.  I am a bit excited because I am looking forward to experiencing the cultural shock of teaching to US students again after only teaching to Thai students for the past few months.  The one big difference that I enjoyed when I returned to teach at JSU from Thailand last year was the roll-call for attendance.  In Thailand, everyone’s name is very long and very hard to pronounce, for example, Jet’s name is Jittima Siriwuttikarn, relatively easy to say compared to the names of some of the students I had.  I always dreaded the first day roll-call in Thailand because that is likely the only time that I sound like a child just learning to read.  Lucky for me, Thai students are quite forgiving, no matter how bad I screw their names up.  What a contrast it is to then read “American” names.

We have been back from Thailand for nearly 3 days now, and there has been lots of evidence to support how great our neighbors and friends are here in Alabama.  Dan (our Wisconsin neighbor) picked us up from the airport in Atlanta (a 1.5 hour drive each way) only to drop us off and leave directly with his family to Destin, Florida on the gulf coast (a 6 hour drive).  Our German neighbors invited us over for BBQ on Saturday for dinner, and Jet’s friend Amber and her family came over for lunch at our house, with a pan of lasagna in hand.  We invited our German neighbors over for lunch on Sunday for BBQ and were invited over to Amber’s as well as Donald and Linda’s house for dinner.  Since it was raining out at dinner time, we took up Donald and Linda’s offer.  All of this hospitality included about a dozen of our neighbors from around the subdivision that stopped by our house just to say “hi” once they heard that we were back home.  What a wonderful welcome!  And the Alabama weather had a nice welcome for us as well as it has been mostly sunny and in the mid 90’s since our return.  In addition, as I was preparing to leave for school this morning, the severe weather sirens blared out at 1:30am to warn about an approaching thunderstorm.  Welcome back indeed.

We are slowly but surely getting back to a “regular” sleeping pattern.  Ben had a rough night the other day as he fell asleep on our bed on Saturday night, and then I transferred him into his own bed.  It has been a few months since Ben has slept alone, so when he woke up at 12:30am Sunday morning, it must have been quite a shock for him.  Ben cried for about 15-20 minutes and we just could not calm him down.  I finally picked him up and walked him over to the guest bedroom to calm him down.  I then explained to him that because there was “no sunshine” outside, that he couldn’t go out and play and that all of his friends were sleeping.  I then told him that when the sunshine did appear, that we would be able to play.  Somehow reasoning with Ben worked, and he fell asleep for the rest of the night.  Of course I could not get back to sleep, so as soon as it started to get light outside (around 5:00am), I took a nice 5 mile run outside, my first since being back home.  What a difference it was running in Alabama then on the treadmill at the condo I stayed at in Bangkok.  The run was a struggle at times because I was hit hard by the “triple H”, that is, heat (it was already 75 degrees out), humidity (you felt wet and damp just standing outside), and hills (no hills on a flat treadmill).  The running is becoming more important to me now since I lost 10 pounds during my trip to Thailand last year while I gained 5 pounds during my trip this year.  Maybe I will do the National 5K championship in a couple of weeks.  We’ll see.

The last thing to comment over the weekend is that yesterday morning when I opened up our garage door, I noticed the long, green extension cord that I had stored away just to the left of me, which was placed on one of the white plastic “college dorm” crate shelves that we use as shelving.  The reason why I noticed the extension cord was because it appeared to be moving!  I wasn’t hallucinating, so I knew that there was a snake hiding out there.  About an hour later, after Jet, Ben, and I got our morning walk in, I had Donald come over to help me “remove” the snake.  I shook all of the shelves to flush the snake out, but saw nothing and almost figured that he left on his own.  Donald removed a small box on the bottom shelf to reveal the small (1.5 foot), black snake that was hiding from us.  After a couple of minutes of spraying wasp removal spray on him (which the snake didn’t like too much and made several lunges at Donald), Donald was able to toss him out of the garage with one amazing swoop of a long stick.  The snake sat there in our driveway and we couldn’t get him away, so while Donald got the snake’s attention, I slapped our shovel at the snake and felled him in that very first blow.  While I was about to take that swing, I had the “Whacking Day” song from the Simpson’s in my head, in particular, “we’ll break their backs, gouge out their eyes, their evil hearts, we’ll pulverise”.  Upon inspection, Donald could not tell what kind of a snake it was, but supposed it to be a “rat killer” of sorts.  Just your average weekend in Alabama.

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