“The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Men….”
Reset and Carry On

Ti Ti was all set to take her TOEFL exam to go to college in the States. As her grandfather, I recently wrote two essays, I Love Teaching and Ti Ti, the Driven. I have even emailed her links to music regarding how proud she made me feel as her grandfather. In addition to her caring, Ti Ti is gifted intellectually. All was set. On May 11th at 1:00 pm, Ti Ti would take the test.

However, Moh Moh emailed me about some technical problems on the 11th. Since Myanmar is about twelve hours ahead of my time, I got her email when I woke up on the 11th. This was my reply to her.

Moh Moh,

You won’t believe this…but it is true. Last night, I woke up to Ginger licking my hand. She was scared. The lights went out in the Crown Point. My entire house was black. I looked at my watch; it was about the time Ti Ti would be starting her test. That unsettled me. It was what we call a harbinger of doom…. Okay, it was a harbinger of delay. However, I can see this becoming an essay.

Tell everyone that I love and miss them.


Now, I’m not into paranormal phenomena, aliens, telepathy, etc. Nonetheless, it was an eerie feeling. I felt like Ti Ti and I were communicating telepathically.

Ti Ti and me

Then Ti Ti wrote me about the details of getting ready for the TOEFL exam and then the delay.

Dear Papa Al,

    Yesterday morning, my cat Jessica give birth to her babies at around 1am. But I let my sisters took care of her because I needed enough sleep for the upcoming TOEFL test.

    I woke up at 6 am, had a very nutritious meal and started cleaning up the room to prepared for the test. I took a cup of coffee two hours before the test so that the caffeine will boost my energy. 30mins before the test, I’m ready. I sat alone in the room and meditate and sung a few songs to calm my heart. I didn’t want my anxiety to mess up my answers. The time for the test drew near.. 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5..4..3..2..1.. I counted. It was the last moment I had my luck. What came after was a total mess.

    I’ve checked all the devices and equipment days before the test. I also reassured by checking 3 times again that morning. I also checked the internet connection and even made sure no device is using the WiFi except for the computer I will use for the test. But, the download didn’t start. I refreshed the page, restart the computer, restart the router but none of them worked. I switched to my dad’s desktop computer. It didn’t work either. So do with my sister’s PC. After trying for two hours, I got technicians from TOEFL to help me out. They told me to switch to another network. I tried that but didn’t worked either.

    Then an idea suddenly kicked in. “Perhaps, the military government block it just like how they blocked the social media”. I immediately turned on the VPN. “Yess! It works!” The download started. But that all the luck I’ve got. With VPN, the connection was too slow. They ask me to change the internet connection again. The connection I was using was the best connection we can offer with 25M/s. When I was trying to figure out how to do it, the electricity went out.

    In Myanmar, there is a daily electricity outage. The military government only allows us to use 8 ~ 4 hours of electricity per day. My dad had already prepared an inverter for this case but it can only last for 2 hours. Our original plan was to start the exam at 1 pm when we have electricity, and after 4 hours, when the electricity went out, we’ll continue with the inverter.

    With the electricity from the inverter, we tried again. This time, we have to start our process from the beginning again. What’s worse, the VPN didn’t work this time. We tried with all the computers we’ve got. Finally, we get to download it. But the battery of the inverter was about to shut down.

    So, we started our third plan which is to use the electricity generator. The luck wasn’t on our side either. The generator occured some problems which we didn’t have it before. It didn’t work and start generating electricity.

    After 6 and half hours past the test starting time, we finally gave up. It’s already late and the electricity won’t be coming back anytime soon. Moreover, unlike usual days, the internet connection was really terrible and that happened across the country. Yesterday, it was really an unlucky day I ever had in my life.

    However, I believe that everything happens for a reason we never know what tomorrow will bring. I hope it’ll bring me to a better one.


Ti Ti

So, Ti Ti, while you are wondering what tomorrow will bring, let me tell you what Bobby Burns wrote just a couple of years before I was born. “The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” Life is like that. Things happen, and plans get messed up

We need to reset and then carry on. It will demonstrate how driven we are to accomplish a task. I’ve been grading term papers and finals while I am getting ready for you to come to America to go to college here and your mother’s visit in a couple of months. I have miles to go before everything is spick and span, but I am working on it. We are both very driven.

Ti Ti, can you tell me what you see in this photo?

Ginger is protecting your office.