Sunday, December 03, 2017


Seems like pretty much everyone I know is despairing about the state of the world and the future now.

Perhaps it's just the company I keep, but the internet would tend to support this general sense of doom and gloom.

But one does need to keep things in perspective.

I'm 48 and a half; the global events in and around my life haven't been entirely pleasant , including standouts such as the Vietnam and Afghan wars, September 11, the Ethiopian famine, and so forth.

But let's take a look at the first 50 years of the 20th century.

Let's see, we had:

  • World War I (a war of unprecedented destruction which also completely re-drew Europe)
  • The 1918 flu pandemic that killed 3-5 percent of the global population
  • The terrifying environmental disaster of the Dust Bowl
  • The Great Depression
  • Hitler, World War II, and the Holocaust
  • The rise of Stalin with his Purges and engineered famines that also killed millions. 
During that period we had presidents such as Warren G. Harding and Calvin Coolidge, who with the Teapot Dome Scandal, are generally considered among the worst.

So, THOSE were some rough years. The nearly half-century of my life has been a comparative cakewalk, and of course that worst thing that has happened to me personally is like, losing my sunglasses in the Galopogas Islands or something.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Russia Town

So you go out of the South Gate of the Forbidden City in Beijing, and you turn left. Walk straight for about 45 minutes towards Ritan Park, and something strange starts to happen.

You start to see signs in Russian.

As the signs grow more fequent, you'll begin to see white older women with purple hair and leopard skin tops, and burly grey-haired older dudes with gold chains and man-purses and take-no-shit glares.

You've just walked into Russia Town.

The Russians you see will rarely be the hip 21st century kind; they'll be rough provincial ones, and in fact you'll often see Kazakhs, Tajiks, and Uzbeks there.

 This area - basically a couple of blocks surrounding Ritan Park -- is the last gasping remnant of an area of Beijing that has subsisted since the 80s and 90s, when China was one of the few places that Russian tourists could easily visit, and Russian tourists were usually looking for an angle to make a profit on.

There are a handful of Russian, Georgian, and Ukrainian restaurants there, and some big shopping centers that cater to a clientele of people who are usually buying large amounts of clothing wholesale, usually to take back to remote areas to sell at outdoor markets or small shops. Appropriately, there are a number of cargo and shipping agencies also, and two hotels full of Russians, Tajiks, and Kazakhs. One of the hotels is cheap (where I occasionally stay) and one is expensive (where I stayed once, with the Girlfriend.) The shady Chocolate Nightclub offers a Russian dance show full of saucy babes, if you're down for a night at a clip joint.

Don't eat at this one, it kind of sucked. 

There was colorful, moldy, delapidated old-style covered market nearby, quaintly labelled the "alien's market" that sold various kind of cheap made-in-China geegaws -- phone cases, suitcases, sunglasses, as well as green tea and such, but that closed last year.

The big wholesale shopping places down there will probably close next; that kind of informal import-export  paradigm is dying out, of course. "We'll go to China and buy some jeans for $10 and bring them home and sell them in the parking lot for $15!" is definitely a sad waning echo of the 90s and early 00s. Online retailers like AliBaba will deliver direct to the Russian rinok, these days, and soon those will be closed too, even in places like small-town Siberia.

So, while it lasts, enjoy it. Go to Ritan Park on a nice evening and watch the tai-chi and kung-fu enthusiasts working out there and then stroll around the area, and maybe you'll even spy a hot young Russian babe. Have a nice bowl of borscht and a beer and some brown bread, and enjoy a present which is, as ever, rapidly fading into the past.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Reform School X

Who would have thought I'd grow up and begin to understand the perspective of this guy?

Well at age 48, here at the international school in somewhat-outside-of-Beijing China, I finally do.

I finally get it.

The school here has begun to decide on its direction. Unlike last year, when it was basically a warehouse for rich kids, it is now leaning into its role as a genuine reform school.

Lunch time detentions. Monitored evening study. Uniform inspections. Phones only available one hour a day. They stand up and sit down at the beginning and end of class while we inspect them and take away their water bottles, toys, head phones, stuffed animals, etc.

As mentioned, we're dealing with all the lost souls who got kicked out of the Chinese state schools -- and that includes not just generally bad students, but autistics, people with special learning needs, and general eccentrics and weirdos.

I came to this job thinking it would be a good springboard into international curriculum schools, but now I'm kind of wondering exactly why I thought that would be a good idea.

Do I really want to spend the last decade of my working career trying to teach spoiled rich kids not to throw tissue on the floor or put their feet on the desks?

I mean of course the only other real option to make a decent salary is Saudi, and while they're equally careless and indifferent, I don't think I got quite so much hostility there. Nobody ever told me to fuck off or flipped me off there, but they do here quite often.

So I begin to understand the evil teachers and principals from the comedies of the 80s. I really do.

How long until I'm doing ,,, this?

(He mentions his salary of $31,000 a year, which in 2017 dollars would equal about $72,000 -- which is about 20,000 a year more than I'm clearing here.)

But then again ... I'm in detention too ... for my many sins ... and I'm just getting paid for it.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

The Last Crazy Bob Story (Or: The Stench; Or: Are You There God, It's Me, English Teacher X)

Time: six weeks ago
Place: The island of Gili Trawangan, Indonesia

Bob was sufficiently horrified by this event that he's begun to talk about going straight and giving up the lowlife. 

Sunday, September 10, 2017

My Definitive Guide to Making Money from Blogging and E-Book Publishing

I've been blogging for nearly 15 (!) years now, and I confess I still don't understand a damn thing about stats, traffic, or making money from the whole venture.

I have never had advertising or affiliate links on the website, and I've never really done much to advertise it. I posted some sort of viral advertising joke links on Dave's ESL cafe back in about 2002 - 2005, but since then have done practically nothing, yet traffic rose steadily even after I moved to Saudi in 2009. (Probably mainly thanks to frequent mentions of my work on some popular PUA and Manosphere sites.)

 I only very, very occasionally comment on other people's blogs, and I don't think I've done that at all since about 2014, yet in 2016, when my blog postings started to level off to once a month rather than every 5 days, I suddenly got an enormous spike in traffic:

Yet I never saw myself mentioned anywhere, except for a few disdainful mentions of me on Reddit. Even those "manosphere" guys had lost interest at that point and thoroughly disowned me. (Thank God.)

I have self-published English Teacher X books on Amazon since 2011, and those made some money. The biggest years for those was probably 2012 - 2014, when I was making maybe $300 - $400 a month from them, but then sales in the last couple of year have fallen off to maybe $50 a month, if that.

And then the last couple of months, when, as we see, my blog traffic has fallen off tremendously, there has been a sudden mysterious increase in my book sales. I made about $100 off ETX books last month and seem on course for about $200 this month, if not more.


Fuck knows!

I'm still completely out to sea on all this. Why do people buy them now? And why did people buy them then? The first book is increasingly irrelevant in the world of modern English teaching, and the book about Russia is now EIGHT years past happening, yet it's already sold 10 copies this month. (Up from 6 for the entire month of June, for example.)

I'd been meaning to re-edit them, improve the formatting, and update the covers, but I've been very busy with this job, my dad, and studying for a Master's degree, and never got around to it.

So why?

You tell me!

I still write porn, and I'll update about that soon, and I'm only a little more knowledgeable about that. I always made at least 2 - 3 times more money doing that, of course.

I'm glad people buy the ETX books though, and generally seem to like them, and in honor of International Teacher's Day:

available FREE on Smashwords, until further notice

The collection of my first three books about English teaching, now available for $1.99 on Amazon

Next week: Crazy Bob's Disgusting Sex Story from Indonesia, probably. He's almost broken down. 

Friday, September 01, 2017

On Top of the Mountain All Covered in Shit

That is the top of Mt. Rijani, in Lombok, Indonesa.

What you don't see is all the shit up there, left by the dozens and dozens of trekkers who make the hike up to the crater rim in the busy tourist seasons.

You also can't see me and Crazy Bob, although we were there. That was me holding the phone.

I'm 48; Bob is almost 37. We were at least 10-15 years older than most of the people up there, but we did it.

So that was the admirable, above-board part of the holiday.

The four days previous to that, we spent on Gili Trawangan, which seems to be the current destination of choice for the stylish, good-looking young backpackers. (I had been doubting they still existed, but there they were.)

Here, we were maybe 15 - 20 years older than most of the people, but we did it; we drank beer, hung out at beach bars, took mushrooms, all that.

And of course, Bob had a perfectly repulsive sexual experience, leading to one of our better Disgusting Bar Conversations.

Bob was enthusiastic about it at first; he greeted me with, "You're probably going to want to blog about this."

But as we hiked the mountain and he considered it, he began to feel more rueful.

First, he voiced concern that I only portray him as a guy who fucks ugly and fat chicks.

"I think you should let people know that Bob has sex with good-looking women, and not just occasionally. And not just whores and fat chicks."

"I'll put that in," I promised.

Then the day I left, he sent me a text message.

"I'm having some strong reservations about Bob featured in such a truly low (his actual nadir) circumstance. Perhaps Bob should just discuss this even as a repulsive hypothetical possibility. The sheer grossness of it is almost overwhelming."

"Bob, we owe it to the public. I can put up a donation button on it, perhaps." I retorted.

He wasn't convinced. "I think the public can be sated in less revolting ways."

This might well be one of the last Crazy Bob stories; we're both getting older. I might stop blogging soon. He might die, or reform and stop doing gross shit.

So I leave it to you, all of you out there.

Raise your voices as one to the heavens, just like at the end of Peter Pan where he wants everyone to say that they believe in fairies.

Shout it out loud, in the comments section: WE WANT TO HEAR IT BOB! YOU'RE OUR FAVORITE THING! WE BELIEVE IN YOU!

Bar nothin' ...

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Human Weakness

I'm in Bangkok for a couple of days, prior to flying to Bali for the last part of my summer holiday.

I was all set last night to get drunk and head down to Nana Plaza and bang a whore, something that I almost always enjoy.

But I slipped.

I mean, I was jetlagged, okay. It was raining a bit.

So I stayed in ...

 ... and played video games.

But at least I didn't do any porn, okay? At least I didn't do any porn.

I still woke up feeling pretty ashamed, though.

For the last few years, my worst compulsions are video games and porn.

I know, right? What can I say?

I've been under a fair bit of stress the last couple years, mainly having to participate quite a lot in taking care of my Parkinson's-stricken father, as well as doing a master's degree.

But instead of popping prescription pills and eating a lot, like most Americans
my age, I'm on porn and video games.

The porn is the worst; I'll write about that in another entry. Suffice it to say I'm now one month porn-free, and feeling fairly proud of myself.

Now, the video games; bascially it's only one, the survival game Don't Starve, and I don't think I ever play for more than an hour or two at a time. So I"m not nearly as bad as a lot of people with that shit. But still, it's one of my first "go to"s when I'm feeling stressed.

I'm hardly completely sober; I drink on occasion, but in general it just makes me feel like shit and I don't enjoy it much. On the rare occasion I go out to bars, I'm usually bored and irritated. My colleagues at the last two positions have invited me out quite often; I rarely envy them when they come to work hungover with lost phones and black eyes. (How many black eyes and lost phones can a guy have in a life?)

I mean really, though, if you're going to have addictions, porn and video games are pretty good ones. They're cheap, not all that bad for your health, and easy to maintain. (But that makes them harder to kick, of course.)

So that's the state of my weakness at this moment.

I mean, you don't choose your compulsions, right? They choose you.

I'm working on it though, man, I'm working on it.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

GF Update

All right since everybody seems to be dying to hear it:

Yes, I am still with the Girlfriend, she has come to China several times.

After seeing all the difficulties at the school I work at, however, she is not very enthusiastic about leaving her job and moving there. (Teachers for the new semester are making sometimes half the salary that I'm making.) Plus her mother and grandmother need some support in Russia.

She wants me to come back to Russia; there are international schools in Russia, mainly in St. Petersburg and Moscow, that pay a decent wage in the usual international school bracket of $3000 - $5000 USD a month, but currently my qualifications aren't quite there.

(There's basically no way I would go back to working in chain language schools and I've never liked doing private lessons, though it can pay well.)

Failing that, she suggests I buy an apartment in Russia (they can be had in the $40,000 range) and just live with her on the holidays while working in Saudi until I can retire.

Russia in general is completely different than it was when I was there, and people who think you could just over there now and effortlessly bang a bunch of hot chicks, or even easily find a nice normal girlfriend, probably have their heads up their asses. Girls I know who used to be ardent sluts and English groupies now spend a lot of time posting angry things on Russian social media about Syria, America, and the values of patriotism, sobriety, family, and nationalism.

Russia has some advantages beyond sluts, of course -- history, some nice albeit cold natural attractions, and currently a low cost of living if you have dollars.

I think of moving back to Russia, though, and it just gives me a sick feeling in my stomach. Whether it's just that I dislike jingoism or it just makes me think of endless drunkenness and hangovers, I'm not entirely sure.

But I spent a lot of time there, and it was cold and dark, dark, dark . . .

Sunday, July 09, 2017


Most young people, of course, think of themselves as both immortal and indestructible.

Even into their 20s and 30s, many people feel that by sheer force of will they can somehow hold off the physical, social, and psychological effects of aging.

Hell, I myself, described by one friend as a "Peter Pan motherfucker" entered my 40s with that belief, in light of the tremendous improvements in my health that accompanied drinking less and sleeping more and (probably) the heat-shock proteins of the warmer climates I was living in.

I turned 48 recently, however, and let me tell you, by that age, you realize you can't avoid it, and that you are getting old, and getting old fast.

Each minute bursts in the burning room,   
The great globe reels in the solar fire,   
Spinning the trivial and unique away. 
(How all things flash! How all things flare!)   
What am I now that I was then?   
May memory restore again and again   
The smallest color of the smallest day:   
Time is the school in which we learn,   
Time is the fire in which we burn.

-- Delmore Schwartz, Calmly We Walk Through This April Day

(The whole poem is here, "Calmy We Walk Through This April Day.)

My hair has been greying for years (although it's still mostly brown) but it's also now starting to thin at the top in a Nicholas Cage sort of way:

Mainly in the last year it's been my eyes; I now need reading glasses. That certainly makes a body feel old. As I said in a Tweet long ago, you know you're too old for the club when you need reading classes to see the menu My knees are starting to bug me; I have had problems with both shoulder impingements and plantar fascitis (pain in the feet) in the last year, although massage and specific exercises are helping them.

I'm currently in Thailand; a week here and then 2 weeks in America, where my father has just moved into his own apartment, mainly so he'll have more money to spend on pizza and porn and pay-per-view UFC. He also didn't like the assisted living place because he felt everybody there was too old. Mainly true, as most of them were in their 80s and 90s and he's a mere lad of 77.

After that, I have a trip to Indonesia planned with Crazy Bob; we got it into our heads we needed to do a volcano jungle hike.

I'll let you know if we survive.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

The Saudis vs. the Chinese

I was hoping for a 180 degree switch from the difficult Saudi students I had, but that was not to be. There are a lot of similarities between the Saudis I taught for 5 or 6 years and the Chinese kids I teach now.

There are a couple of big similarities:

1. Highly motivated not to study -- The students I've taught in both places are or were not there by choice; their families sent them there. The Saudis were 18 - 24 or so, the Chinese kids I teach now are 12 - 15, but they're at a similar level of maturity, and don't see that anything they do now will much affect their future. Students in both cases would spend a lot more time and energy trying to cheat, copy, or distract the teacher with various ruses than if they actually just did whatever meager work is assigned them.

2. Utterly sick and exhausted -- In both cases, I'm teaching kids who are living away from home for the first time, and are completely unused to taking care of themselves. In addition to being homesick, both groups will generally stay up all night playing video games and shitting around on their phones, and eat nothing except junk food if allowed. Therefore, keeping them awake during class is one of the biggest tasks.

The big difference however, is:

Chinese kids are really emotionally needy.

 This is exhausting me far more than the rowdy, disrespectful ones. Most of these Chinese kids rarely see their parents and got very little attention from them, and come across as very neglected. Showing them some kindness gets them following you around like puppies and trying to hug you every morning and things like that.

The Saudis all came from huge families and (if nothing else) had a tremendous sense of community and national identity; they surprised me with their confidence and, all things considered, seemed to be pretty well-adjusted.

These Chinese kids, however ... well, I'm pretty sure the term "basket case'" is not politically correct but I can't think of another one. Autism spectrum, ADHD, and dyslexia are just three things the Chinese school system doesn't seem to believe in, so those kids get kicked out or fail out of the state schools and then -- if they have the money -- end up in places like this, one of the international curriculum schools that actually have very few international students.

I compared this school to a reform school in the last post, but maybe it's more fair to call it something like the Island of Misfit Toys.

Anyway, summer vacation starts next week, and I'm planning to come back in September for the next school year to finish the 2-year contract.

That's the plan, anyway ...

Monday, May 29, 2017

TEFLpocolypse 2017: Two Shits and a Fuck You

As I finish the first year of my contract, the future is still precarious here in China.

Last week was a tough week; I got a "fuck you" from one student and two "shits" from another one. The "fuck you" was from a fairly typical kid here -- actually pretty smart, but huge and weird looking and uninterested in absoultely anything other than watching movies in English. He never completed any of his class assignments and skipped half the tests, and his grade point average was about 25.

The admininstration was actually going to punish him severely but he fooled everyone -- his parents were shipping him off to Australia that very week. I think we can safely say he had the last word.

The other one was a little girl of 12 who looks 8 and frequently rubs her crotch when bored. Many of our students refuse to sit next to her. She never completes any of her class assignments or tests, just copying what she can and leaving the rest blank.

Actually, the kids have made a lot of progress this year. We've mostly stopped them from banging each other's heads against the wall, anyway.

See, where I work is bascially kind of a reform school, an expensive boarding school with no particular entrance requirements, populated mainly by rich kids whose parents can't or don't want to deal with them. Very few of them care about making good marks, I suppose on the grounds that they are already rich and they will continue to move up through the grades regardless as long as their parents keep paying.

As if all that weren't enough to make me doubt whether the job is worth the hassles, there are various administrative problems. Quite a few of the teachers I work with -- way more than half, about 75 percent -- aren't returning after summer. Some weren't offered new contracts; others are just leaving. A couple that were offered new contracts found they included more work hours and less holiday time,  different insurance, and no increase in salary. One guy who was promised a contract suddenly found the offer rescinded at the last minute. By all accounts, admin is paring down the staff to a skeleton crew.

Now, I like China -- this is being written in a hotel room in Shanghai with the above view.  But is it worth it? I have contracts from the two colleges in Saudi I applied for back in 2015 waiting for me in America -- I guess the Mideat hiring freeze is over. (It's about the same salary as I make here, though.)

This job, however, is my foot in the door into the world of 'international schools' -- many of which are equally shoddy and not especially 'international' but there are a lot of them, in many countries, and the pay is usually good.  I'll have my Master's in Education finished next year and I can get more international school qualifications, like the IB, in Beijing while I finish up the second year of this contract.

Saudi just leads to more Saudi, of course, in general.

Once again, X is isolated and uncertain.

So what else is new?

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Baby Baby Baby

You know what my overwhelming impression of the expat scene in Beijing is?

Baby carriages.

I don't actually live in Beijing, I live an hour or so away, but I visit frequently. As I write this I'm having breakfast in a popular expat breakfast nook. There are about nine tables occupied by expats; five of them are couples with small children.

And I'm talking young-ish expat couples -- Americans, Italians, and Russians by the sound -- not a Chinese wife nor a bloated former whoremonger father in the bunch.

This trend is also in view at my workplace; most of my colleagues are married and have young children or babies, and only a couple of them are married to Chinese women. (The ones that are married to Chinese women tend to be married to ethnic Chinese raised in a western country.)

There are some former hellraisers in the bunch, guys who have been in China a long time, and they talk about the old days with me over quiet after-work drinks. The usual stories: "Whores and English groupies everywhere." "Drunk every night." "All the teachers were bedraggled old whoremongers or young dudes on the prowl." "Our salaries were low but everything was dirt cheap."

And then around 2009, 2010, 2011, things changed, they tell me. Also a familiar story -- it became harder to get Chinese work visas without qualifications, while more and more qualified non-alcoholic teachers poured into Chinese international schools as it became harder to earn a good living teaching in America, England, and Australia. The cheap and cheerful and boozy hutongs were bulldozed and replaced with shops and malls and modern apartment blocks.

Of course, I am now viewing the world through middle-aged goggles, and the amount of time I've spent studying for my Master's Degree in Education has limited my going out, but as I walk around, what do I see?

Baby carriages and healthy sober good-looking young couples.

And they are untroubled by the ghosts of the drunken old whoremongers and off-the-rails young party dudes.

But where did they go, the ones who couldn't or wouldn't sober up? What country do they hide in? The lucky ones who have pensions probably retired to Thailand (which, when I visited in February, looks to be turning into the world's largest retirement home.)

And the others? Probably working out in the sticks someplace, away from major cities where there are a lot of expats.

But what will the boozy  whoremongers do in a bold new world without booze and whores?