Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Stories From the Backlog

Hi, I live here

“Good morning sir, would you like a suit.”
“It’s Ma’am.”
“Yes Sir…”
“No, it’s Ma’am, I’m a woman… Listen. I’m a woman so you call me ‘ma’am,’ a man is sir, but I’m not a man, I’m female, so you call me ma’am.”
“And let’s get something else straight. I live down this street. I teach down this street. So, I don’t need a suit every day. Just thought we should get that clear.” *handshake*
“Thank you ma’am! You are a good teacher!”
“Thank you.”
“Have a good day!”
Problem solved.

The White Chick on the Motorbike

I never ask questions when a motosai driver takes an alternate route the way I might ask a taxi. I’ve learned they’re avoiding police and/or mafia shake down road blocks, or simple traffic congestion. They look out for their own; they warn each other about these things when one is approaching. Police and/or mafia you ask? Yes. And/or. The drivers around my soi know me well enough, they’ve even taken two friends and I across town at a discounted price (three bikes in Bangkok traffic is something), and they’ve taken me without their official vests on, with the promise of payment days down the line so police wouldn’t see the exchange of bills. Why would I get on a motorcycle with a guy taking his uniform vest off? Well, then he doesn’t get stopped by the police for the shake down, and they know I need to get to school and what not. They know my haunts. I even approached one of the pink vests in Siam last week, and he completed my address and price before I had to finish. I’m a regular now I suppose. Once shortly after my arrival, when the height of Red vs. Yellow was still fading from fever pitch, I was told: If you want to know where the reds or the yellows are, ask the orange shirts. Orange – the color most motosai driver’s vests are. Also available in Pink and Blue, because this is Thailand. For a good month when asked what my politics were, I was smugly saying ‘orange’ to myself in my head.

The Art of Hacking

“Did you log in from a new location recently?”
Yes facebook, thank you for noticing that I’m trying to circumvent the school blocking facebook and conveniently hopped over to Russia for a quick social media jaunt. Now stop asking me to identify pictures of 9Gag translated into Thai where I have entire classes of students tagged and let me login. I should I remind you that in Russia, facebook logs onto you! Tasteless, I know.
But hey, I actually attempted to use facebook as a tool for communicating assignments with my students before the successful block, because they were constantly distracted by it. And well, they still are, on their contraband phones and not contraband iPads with private internet connections. Besides which, if my school could be bothered to give the foreigners logins, I wouldn’t have to do this any way, it’s not blocked for other staff. Foreigners are relegated to the generic student login; hence I’m blocked from everything the students are. Including the Indiana Department of Education for the past month, for what reason I have no idea, but that was the icing on the cake, I had to get around it.
It’s said that China produces some of the best hackers in the world, because they get so much practice. What they may not get in school, those with net access get in every day firewall scaling; problem solving at its finest. As much as it chagrins me when game files are downloaded throughout the computer lab yet again, it warms my heart somewhat to hear some of the students have also been creatively ‘unblocking’ websites the school has blocked. I’m not even talking Ministry of Communication Technology here, just school blocks. I just hope my budding hackers put it to good use outside of MICT later down the line. If you’re unfamiliar with MICT, please do a google search of censorship in Thailand. If living outside of Thailand, notice that none of your results come up with the following page when you try to click through:

And please, if at all inclined to collect as much random knowledge about the world as possible, educate yourself on this issue.

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