An English teacher's blog about his travels and his digital art.

Month: June 2007 (page 1 of 2)

Standings, Tryouts

The Dominican Summer League has finally put some statistics up on its website. Currently, the Yankee squad is half a game out of first, behind Cincinnati, at 14-6. The Bombers, however, are near the bottom of their division with a record of 8-13. The Bomber players, though, are the less experienced ones, compared to their counterparts on the Yankee squad. Next year or the year after, many of the Bombers will move up to the Yankee team, while many of the current players on the Yankee squad will go on to play Rookie League or Class A ball in the ‘States. Unfortunately, many of them will be cut, too, without making the step up to the Minor Leagues in the U.S.

There were a few new tryouts visiting the fields yesterday afternoon, with about 50 scouts from the various major league affiliates here to take a gander. The tryouts who have been here for a while now and who are going to sign Yankee contracts on July 2nd, which I mentioned in yesterday’s post, wanted to watch the new guys showing off their stuff to the scouts. Abel Guerra didn’t go for that, however. He asked me to give them an impromptu English class to get them off the field. It seems that even though they’re going to sign contracts on Monday, they are still eligible to be approached by any other team that might want to make them a better offer. Thus, Abel was being very cautious, trying to avert any possible overtures that might have been made to the future Yankees. When I got here last October, he told me that was one of the big reasons for the Yanks building their own campus. They used to share facilities with a few other teams, but he got tired of all the scouts being able to spy on the new players with ease. No more, though, except on these occasions when all of them are entitled to witness the skills of potential players. I think the Yankee campus is used because it’s centrally located in this region, or maybe because it’s so new or possibly because it has easy access. Can’t really say, for sure. More later.

Winding Down

Only two weeks left until I return to the U.S. for a while, and then it’s on to Thailand, Laos and Singapore. I’ll be fairly busy here, getting things together, filling out forms and reports that are necessary for the completion of the current contract and for the start of the next. I’m also preparing a workshop to give for teachers in Samana, in the northern part of the country, as soon as I return in the second week of October. The tough part about that is that most of the English teachers there speak no or very little English!! I’ll have an interpreter when I need one, but it’s still going to be a difficult task. It should be very interesting, if nothing else.

My teaching schedule here at the Yankee camp is winding down. Friday is the last day for my regular classes, although I’ll be teaching some classes next week to some of the new players who will be signing contracts on July 2nd. I’ve given them a few classes already and they’re a pretty sharp group of youngsters, aged 16 to about 18. They’re very charming and polite, and, as I’ve found out with most of my other students, they actually know more English than they think they know (if that makes any sense).

In the other classes, to avoid going into a chapter that I know we wouldn’t finish by the time I leave, I’ve been showing some excellent English language videos about baseball, especially about old-time Yankee teams and players, which the students enjoy. It’s fun and it’s English! To check their listening comprehension, I ask questions afterwards and lead a discussion about who is better; e.g., Babe Ruth or Alex Rodriguez? (Babe Ruth, by a mile.)

Anyway, like I said, I have a lot to do, including getting everything packed. I never have made a practice pack yet, but I have to do one this weekend in order to see how much room I’ll have for souvenirs going back to the ‘States and for class materials to bring back to the D.R. When I go into Santo Domingo for the Ambassador’s 4th of July Fiesta, I plan to do some souvenir shopping earlier that day and the next. Actually, from looking at the U.S. Embassy website, it seems that there is not an official ambassador appointed to the D.R. at the moment. The Charge d’Affairs, Mr. Roland Bullen, appears to be the Chief of Mission at the moment. (Someone correct me if I’m wrong.) The party will be at his residence, I assume, and Rex Moser tells me that it’s a great affair. I’ll let you know in a later post who of influence and power I end up rubbing shoulders with. 😀

My Laotian friend Nai is in the hospital with malaria. He sounds ok over the phone, but I definitely am worried about him. I told him that if he was still sick when I got to Laos, I would take him to Bangkok to find a GOOD doctor to help him out. I’m not sure that I trust the Lao doctors or their health care system, an unfortunate drawback to living in this charming but impoverished, Third World, Communist country. (Sigh) More later.

Time Flies, Accident, Doubleheaders and More!

Only a few more weeks remain until I leave the D.R. for a few months. I don’t have that many classes left to teach, so I’m kind of treading water, so to speak, with a few of the classes. I’ve been using a textbook with them, adapting it to be more relevant to young, Latin American baseball players and augmenting it with my own materials. We’re at the end of a chapter and I don’t want to start a new one, knowing that we wouldn’t finish it before I leave, so I have to come up with some other suitable material for a while. One of the universities, UNIBE, from Santo Domingo, is coming here to give a few workshops, such as communication skills, financial management, conflict resolution and others to the players, and the week of July 2-6 belongs to them. Effectively, then, I only have next week left to teach.

I witnessed a pretty bad motorcycle accident last Sunday. One guy pulled away from the curb and smacked into an oncoming ‘cyclist, who had the right of way. One fellow got up ok, but the other stayed down, holding his leg and obviously in quite a bit of pain. He was eventually transported away in an ambulance, which had to part the large crowd of onlookers to get to him. I was in a market across the street when it happened.

The Yankee and Bomber squads have seen an unbelievable amount of action this week. Remember I posted about all the rainouts? Well, they’ve been making them up this week. Monday through Thursday, the Yanks are playing 4 (!) doubleheaders in a row and the Bombers are playing 3, having only one game to play yesterday. The games are only 7 innings each, but with the early morning workout from about 7:30 to 9, that’s still a lot of time on the field. Yesterday, the Yanks, the away team, didn’t get back to the campus until 4 p.m. Obviously, getting them to come to classes is a chore, and they’ll be ready for a break this weekend.

I found out that there is also supposed to be another concert at the Boca Chica beach this weekend, along with the one I mentioned that is taking place just down the road east of here. So, the players will have plenty of opportunities to spend their recent paychecks and to let off a little steam. I hope they don’t go overboard. Most of the Dominican players will go to their various cities for the weekend, but the foreign guys will hang around the area.

I just submitted a few photos to the online international photography magazine Lens Culture. They’re doing a project to get 1000 photos of Buddha submitted to them and put online. I sent them 5 of my Thailand and Laos photos, but they won’t be able to get to them for a few months, since they’re swamped with submissions.

Also, if you’ll recall, I posted a while back that the Current cable network had filmed here and the show would air sometime around the middle of June. Unfortunately, someone didn’t pay the bill and we’ve been without cable television since June 1st, so I can’t tell you if the show has been on or not. More later.

Streaks, Photos, Money

The team was finally able to get in a game at the home field yesterday, hosting, and losing, to the Kansas City Royals club. That stopped the streak at 5 unplayed games here. Unfortunately, the Mets ended the Big Club’s streak at 9 wins. Time to start a new one.

I uploaded more of the Boca Chica photos to the Photo Gallery, if anyone’s interested. They’re in the Dominican Republic section.

I’ve got lots to keep me occupied until I fly out of here on July 11th. I think this weekend I might do a practice pack to see how much room I might have for souvenirs to bring back. I’m going to leave a lot of stuff behind, since I’ll be returning in October. As I wrote in a previous post, I also have a lot of paperwork to complete, and I have some workshops to conduct up in Samana as soon as I come back, so I have to work on those before I leave.

The players finally get their first paycheck today–I hope they don’t go crazy in Boca Chica, but I’m not too worried; they’re a pretty good bunch of guys. It’s odd how the pay system works. Some of them have been here since the camp reopened in February, but none of them get paid until they actually start playing the Dominican Summer League games. Many of them have been without ample amounts of money for quite a while now. Like I said, I hope they don’t go overboard in Boca Chica. Most of the foreign players (Venezuelans, Panamanians, etc.), I hear, are waiting for next weekend, when there is a big concert just down the road.

Speaking of foreign players, the Yanks just signed a Brazilian tryout player, Michael Souza. That seems unusual, since Brazil is known more for its great passion for football (that’s soccer to you norteamericanos) than for turning out baseball players. In fact, I don’t recall there ever being a Brazilian player in the majors. I’ll have to check. (In fact, that’s your homework assignment–find me a Brazilian born player who was in the majors.) More later.

5 Straight, Boca Chica Photos

Again, we had some heavy showers over night and again, for the 5th straight game, the team won’t be playing here today. It looks like the bus is fired up, so perhaps the away game might be played. Now, though, the skies are clear and sunny, so let’s hope good weather is here to stay.

As promised, I finally took some photos of Boca Chica, most of which I’ll post to the Photo Gallery. But, here are some for your perusal.

Here’s a scene along the main road in the town, Avenida Duarte. There’s lots of these places where you can buy a large variety of paintings. I don’t know how much of them are mass produced. I saw a guy painting one once and the canvas had all the outlines of the various elements already drawn in, much like a Paint-by-Number kit. Still, they’re pretty. The canvas rolls up easily for traveling, so if I have enough room in my baggage, I might bring a few back.


Here’s a shot along the beach. It’s unusual in that there are very few people here, even though it’s a Saturday.


Maybe everyone was at the Harley-Davidson festival that day. Here’s one of the bikes–lots of nice looking ones.


Here’s a view from my usual hangout, under the palm trees. This is the best part of the beach, in my opinion. Everything here, food and drink, is a bit expensive, but you’re really paying for the ambience.


Finally, we haven’t had too many good sunrises or sunsets lately, but this one was kind of nice. The white dot in the upper middle of the photo is Venus.


Also, I forgot to mention (and I hope I don’t jinx them) that the Big Club has now won 8 in a row and cut the Red Sox lead to 8 1/2 games.

Breaking News!

Ok, it’s not that breathtaking, but since I started writing this, the Diamondbacks bus came to the camp. At first I thought that they were going to try to play a game here, but, looking out my bathroom window, I see that the Yankee team is boarding the bus. Obviously, the Arizona club, which was supposed to play here today, sent their bus to pick up the Yanks and take them to the Diamondback field, which must have missed all the rain. Our bus, in the meantime, is transporting the Bombers to the regularly scheduled away field (haven’t looked to see who they are playing). Obviously, our camp lay right under the path of the bands of rain clouds that have been passing through the area, but some of the other camps were spared.

Wet Fields

Here are a few shots of the fields this morning. In the first one, if you look at the left background, you can see the players working out (stretching) under the batting shed. In the second, you see that it’s still raining by the sprinkling in the water.


Another Washout, English Classes

Another downpour this morning, lasting only about 15 minutes, has left the fields in unplayable shape, so I’m sure that, for the fourth straight game, play won’t take place here today. Don’t know about the other teams’ fields, so the game could be moved to the visiting team’s home field. It looks like I actually see a bit of blue sky behind this current line of showers, so maybe we’ll get some sun later.

I don’t mention too much about my classes. Teaching English is, of course, the main bulk of my job, but I’m also supposed to be incorporating cultural aspects of the U.S. into that teaching so that the students learn something about life in America. That pretty much leaves the field wide open as to what I might include. The textbooks I’m using have quite a bit of cultural material, but it’s interesting and fun to come up with my own stuff, like the peanut butter and jelly lesson. Lately, in my more advanced level classes, we’ve been looking at some of the history and culture of minorities, with the focus right now on the Civil Rights Movement of the ’50s and ’60s, especially the life of Martin Luther King, and on the folklore/tales of Native Americans. Youtube is a great place to look for video clips. I found a very cute Native American tale there and I hope it’s in the public domain, but it probably isn’t. It’s one of the episodes of the Raven Tales series on Canadian Television. Another fun clip we watched was an old (1945) recording of Abbott and Costello’s “Who’s on First.” Not everyone got the humor, but those who did were almost in tears. Who said learning English can’t be fun (and informative)? More later.

In the Slot

Yup, today’s game was postponed here, due to a muddy field, though the rain passed us by. The away team, the Bombers, I think, got their game in at the Dodger field. The away teams have been having luck with their games, so it seems like were in a narrow “rain slot,” getting drenched these past few days. Unfortunately, it didn’t rain enough today to wash out my jogging schedule (yet, but I can still hope). 🙂

I still have some more photos I want to upload concerning opening day and a few I took in Boca Chica. I finally got smart and brought the camera to the beach and took some shots, including those of a Harley-Davidson festival that was held a few weekends ago.

I forgot to mention something about the trip to the capital yesterday. It’s only the second Monday that I’ve made the trip from the campus into Santo Domingo, but both times I’ve been caught up in huge traffic jams. A half-hour trip takes 1 1/2 hours and both treks took place around 10 a.m. I’ve made the trip on other days around the same time and it was a breeze getting into and around town. I wonder if people are still making their way back into the capital after taking long weekends, though there was no holiday yesterday. Hmmmmm . . .

I’ve decided to try to devote more attention to the blog, as evidenced by all the recent postings, and quit wasting time by being a troublemaker writing fractious emails that alienate friends and relatives. My good intentions might fade in a couple of days, because I also have a lot of “stuff” to do before leaving here in July–paperwork to fill out for the job renewal, room reservations to make in Thailand, forms to fill out, reports to file, etc. I think I’m going to be very busy the next few weeks, so if the postings dry up, you know the reason why. But I am going to make the effort. More later.

Mucho Rain

Yeah, it’s been raining off and on, during the night and/or day since Friday. Not just sprinkles, but pretty heavy downpours. Saturday and Monday’s games were called off because of wet and muddy fields, and it looks like today’s games are doubtful, as it appears there is another gullywasher heading our way. It’s nice to have the rain, but it’s not good for playing baseball, obviously.

I’m attempting to try to patch things up with the southern branch of the Andersons. Hopefully, I can work it out, because I don’t feel very good about this whole thing. I just have to be very careful about hitting the “Send” and “Reply” buttons before I email people. That’s one of the unfortunate things about this technology–there’s absolutely no way to recall a sent email. 😳

I’ve been invited to the U.S. Ambassador’s July 4th party in a few weeks. I’ve heard that it’s quite an affair. Should be interesting, but since it doesn’t begin until 7 p.m., I’ll have to book a hotel room overnight. Finding a taxi to go from Santo Domingo to Boca Chica later at night will be tough and probably extremely expensive. More later.


Yeah, I was able to retrieve my notebook from the Internet Cafe. Lucky me! There isn’t a whole lot of personal information in there, but I did have some of my bank account passwords or login names, but they were written in a shorthand code that only I know. Perhaps an astute hacker would be able to find them out, but I doubt it. Still, I’m going to go to all my accounts and change passwords and login names, just to be on the safe side.

I forgot how hot Santo Domingo can be, what with all the concrete trapping the heat. Add to that the normally high humidity and the extra moisture from the rain last night and walking around for even 5 or 10 minutes left me dripping wet. It was great to get back to the apartment at the camp and turn on the air conditioner.

I did get a few more emails from other relatives of the forwarder of the false email story that put me on my rant. They all accused me of attacking this person, despite my stating at the start of my email that I wasn’t singling this person out, that I was ranting against all emails that are forwarded without first being verified as to the validity of the contents. I’m sorry that they felt I was in a personal attack mode–I certainly wasn’t, because I love this relative too.

Everyone felt that I was being childish to complain about an innocuous little email, but I’ve been the recipient of many more important ones, many from this person, containing completely false information. The point I was trying to make, ineffectively, I now realize, is that if we accept these little lies, falsehoods and misinformation as truth because they come from someone we know, respect and love, is it a far stretch to see that we’ll fall for the bigger lies, lies told by the government, for example. Or Big Corporations. Or the military. Because, after all, our government wouldn’t lie to us, would it? Would it? Of course, some of the more rabid comments were directed at the “political agenda” I was trying to push. Heck, I’m about as apolitical as they come, being neither Democrat or Republican.

Ah, well, at any rate, I opened a can of worms and made some enemies–guess I’ll just have to live with it now.

Some more Laos links:

The Wikipedia entry

The Lonely Planet entry

The Lao Embassy site and, of course, there are all the photos posted in the Photo Gallery. More later.

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