It was Nai’s birthday a few days back, so I called to wish him Happy Birthday and to sing the birthday song to him. Did you know the B-Day song is, reportedly, the most sung song in the English language. It’s also sung in English in Korea and Laos. Anyway, Nai’s 35 and he said he’s an old man. Puh-leeeeeze. His family was having a party for him–lots of people, lots of food and BeerLao, and a birthday cake with candles. He wasn’t feeling too well, however, complaining of a headache (“my memory hurting me today”), an everyday occurrence, for the most part. I think he gets migraines, because he tells me he can’t see out of his right eye when the pain is really bad. Until I quit smoking, I used to get extremely painful migraines, and when he tells me he can’t see, it’s an exact description of what I used to go through. He experienced the same thing last year at this time, and then the headaches quit, more or less, for several months. He doesn’t smoke, so perhaps they’re triggered by cold weather at night (50-60 degrees) during the winter months.

Speaking of Laos, sort of, I found a couple more nifty blogs. One is Lao Cook, a, you guessed it, blog devoted to Lao cuisine. It’s written by a native Lao chef who is now living in Spain. Though it doesn’t appear he gives the recipes, the photos and narrative are very appealing. A couple of other good blogs, both about daily life in Laos, are Lao Meow and Lao Bumpkin.

For the first time, the Summer League players weren’t released from camp-tivity last Friday. They were a disgruntled lot, but managed to straggle into English classes, somewhat sleepy after emerging from their afternoon siestas.

They were also none too happy, most of them, about the scores they received on a short quiz I gave them last Wednesday. They did pretty badly, though some did well–but not enough. I don’t know whether this reflects on my teaching or on the difficulty of the quiz. Neither, I suspect. What it does reflect, I think, is on the motivational level of many, if not a good majority, of the players. Most of them don’t pay attention in class, and once out of class, they don’t study and they don’t use the language unless I’m talking to them on the field or in the cafeteria. There are, thankfully, a few who do care and put in a good effort. One guy told me at the end of class on Friday that his father was going to kill him if he saw his score. I told him that he had to work at it outside of class, that he had to study and use English whenever he could. He’s a great kid, very friendly and outgoing, as most of them are, but perhaps his father will provide a bit of motivation.

By the middle of next week, all the Dominican Summer League players, the ones who started camp in the middle of January, are being allowed to go home until the beginning of March, so my class sizes will be reduced substantially. The other players leave for Tampa on March 1st and will be replaced by a new crop of guys, most of whom were at the camp last summer. What a turnover, and there’s another influx-outgo around the first of April. Things don’t really settle down until then. It’s a bit of a teaching challenge, a very unique situation.

But, these guys are baseball players first, and there are some good ones here. Two stand out. I usually sit out on my balcony in the morning, writing up the afternoon’s lesson plans and watching batting practice, which takes place on the main field, with the batters facing me. One of the standouts is Reymond Nunez, who recently signed on with the team (beginning of December, I believe). He’s been crushing the ball, slamming some long, towering home runs. Another power guy is a 16-year-old try out kid, whose name I don’t know and which I probably wouldn’t be able to give you anyway, out of a sense of secrecy in case any scouts from the other clubs might stumble onto this blog (highly unlikely, but possible). He, too, has been showing some extraordinary power, especially for only being 16, matching the older Nunez with quite a few long shots of his own. Granted, it’s only batting practice and the wind is usually blowing out toward left field, but no one else is slamming the ball like these two. The Yanks need to sign the try out guy, in my humble opinion, and hope that both of them can hit a well-thrown curve ball, the bane of many a potential big leaguer.

I hope to get some more of the Montana 2007 photos posted soon, so keep checking back for information about them.

Whew! This is getting to be a long post, so I better save some for more later.