Saturday, May 31, 2014

Getting ready.....



Heading to the airport in a couple of hours for the jump over to the other bookend.  Its been a fast month over here in California with business and a couple of personal things to take care of.  Attending my twin grand daughters birthday was a joy indeed and being amazed at how fast they have grown.

Now its back to the mango, the warm weather, and the land of smiles.

Time to get outta here.....


Wednesday, May 28, 2014

3 days to go...

Just three days left on this side of the bookend.  On the other side awaits many changes and lots of joy and surprises.  I'm leaving a 'democratic' government and going to a junta controlled government, but it doesn't worry me one bit.  Its far too long down the experience stream for me to see many differences.  In fact,  I think the big mango is a lot safer now with the change.  Walking in the morning through Lumphini Park will no longer be between demonstrator tents and checkpoints and hoping a random explosion won't catch me in the wrong place at the wrong time.  Traffic will be its normal crowded self through areas that I often pass, the malls are all open, and even the immigration office at Cheang Wattana is going to reopen in a week. There are no random mass killings here like in SoCal and I won't be taking my life in my hands when I go out late at night.   Life goes on in the big mango. 

As always, the media, especially the ones from the west, has tried to sensationalize the situation in order to obtain or extend stories where there are none.  Knowing how the media is so biased and used as a propaganda tool here in the West gives me no confidence in the journalistic integrity of those reporting the news.  Yes, there was a coup, and just because many countries, especially those from the West, don't like it, it doesn't matter.  The only thing that matters is the King endorsed the action  and the majority of the Thai people seem to be OK with what is going on.  After all, its their country and they live here so its up to them how they want things done.  

When I studied journalism back in school, we were taught to take an objective and impartial view of any news story, making sure we address the essentials such as who, what, when, where, etc....We were reporting the news, not making the news.  I do believe that freedom of the press referred to objective reporting and not 'editorial' reporting.  

And now the Social Media war is in full swing.  With its advent, there is even more opportunity for abuse. Information on the internet is totally unedited, un-verified, and the author may not even be known.  A Facebook problem today (or maybe even a shutdown) in the LOS caused a brief panic to those who plan their very existence around this application.  Twitter, line, and Instagram..tweets, stickers, and photos...get after the minds of the those who have no other source of information of reality.  Time to wake up and connect to the 'real world'.

 Random Acts Org Website
Click on logo above for link to website

Lastly, I want to share a website and blog that is an inspiration to my life and how I view the opportunities we all have to make a difference in the 'real world'.  There is no shortage of people in need of help in the real world.  Words on paper can change the world from a journalist's viewpoint, but I believe that if we all took the opportunity to do simple acts of kindness to those who share this planet with us, the world would change a lot more than that can be accomplished with words alone.

"The best portion of a good man’s life. His little, nameless, unremembered acts of kindness and of love.”

—William Wordsworth


Saturday, May 24, 2014

Bringing some humor to the Coup

For those that are on twitter, check out stephff art at @stephffart

He has a great sense of humor and great insight in his cartoons.  Something to ease the mind about what's happening in the land of smiles.


Tons more on his twitter feed.


Friday, May 23, 2014

One week to go

One week to go...then its back to the LOS.  This week will be devoted to shopping and last minute business.  Its been a fun month's stay here in California, but I have really missed Marina.  I talk to her at least twice a day and look forward to organizing and attending her first birthday party.  Can't believe that she is already 11 months old, almost ready to walk and is such a bundle of joy.  I think timing wise, I will see her walk for the first time as she can already step around while still holding on to chairs, etc.

But Memorial Day weekend is still ahead and plans are to go out a do some cherry picking.  Went out last weekend, but most of the farms were closed because the cherries were not ripe yet.  Those that were open were selling only old or semi-ripe cherries for $4 a pound.  What a rip-off.  Hopefully this weekend will be better and I can get enough good cherries to bring back to B, who loves cherries and look forward to me bringing some back every year at this time.  By the way, we freeze our cherries after a couple of days and then eat them like little Popsicles when they are out of season.  


Lastly, a salute to our armed forces and those that have given their lives to this country.  Wars are often fought for just causes and sometimes for not so just causes.  When duty called, you served, even if the cause was not so clear and you had doubts.  For that we thank you from the bottom of our hearts.



Thursday, May 22, 2014

Coup d'etat!

A coup d'etat was declared in the LOS today after talks broke down between dissenting parties.  I think a lot of Thais welcomed the move and it seems to bother more people living outside Thailand than those in the country.   A survey claimed 75% of the people supported the implementation of Martial Law.  Reference here:  http://englishnews.thaipbs.or.th/poll-shows-75-percent-people-support-martial-law/


If I were the General, I would have done the same thing.  In fact, I would go one step further.  Since I have detained all the party leaders and players (except maybe Taksin) as part of the Coup, I would lock them all up in the same room and tell them they can't come out until they reach an agreement.  If they wanna fight and duke it out, let them have at it.  At least its the politicians getting killed or beat up instead of the Thai people.  I think the country is sick and tired of all the turmoil and this a unique time in Thai history for a major change.

I'm not in favor of all the censorship of TV stations and press, the curfews, etc., but if its necessary to get the job done, then lets get it started so that this won't inconvenience people too long.  

As for the leaders, I think one large cell block would be the perfect conference room for negotiations.  


Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Not Changing my travel plans

Despite the martial law decree and the situation in the LOS, I am not changing my travel plans to return at the end of the month.  Talking to B today, it seems like things are pretty normal in the big mango and people are going about their business as usual.  She did not see any signs of the army around our area (Sathorn/Silom) at all yesterday.  We are both veterans of these political situations as are many expats that have lived in Thailand for some time.

It was far more scary when the redshirts occupied Lumphini and Rachaprasong and the mysterious 'men in black' were lobbing grenades at people.  Life went on for most of us and will continue to do so.  


Only 9 more days to go.......






Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Martial Law in the Land of Smiles

Martial Law was declared this morning at 3 am in the Land of Smiles.  It was inevitable as there was not going to be any end in sight and the two groups were on a collision course for early next week.  The Army says it's not a coup d'etat, but only 'martial law' to protect people and keep the peace.  Lets hope they keep their word.  Coup d'etat and martial law are separate and rather unique in Thailand.  In this case, I think the people will welcome this action and have high hopes this is going to bring an ending to this drawn out conflict.



Army Chief Prayuth seems like the only one with his head screwed on properly during the last few weeks and his restraint has been admirable.

Coup Soldier, Thai Style with a big smile...expect flowers next from
the Bangkok residents...




I'm not supposed to comment on politics on this blog but my two cents worth on this is a compromise for the sake of the country.  Since almost everyone agrees that a new election is needed, why not have one.  Let the Army and the EC handle the voting with plenty of time for all parties to agree on reforms, select their candidates, and campaign. The Army will be at the polling booths for security and to ensure fairness.   Everyone will be  allowed to participate and those boycotting will be excluded from government.  And lastly, the results are final...like it or not...whoever wins, is the winner.

That is, providing Thailand really wants to be a democracy.  With all its faults and ability to be abused, democracy may not always be the best choice for every situation or country.  Maybe Thailand is one of those countries that should not be a democracy.

If the Village People are Racists...then...



PCers..a reason why we are in a full speed spiral down the huang nahm...these were first graders for god's sake!


Monday, May 19, 2014

My first 200,000 mile car

My 2000 CRV turned over 200,000 miles two days ago.  Its a record in my book as I've never had a car last that long.  In the past, I have either grown tired of a car or decided that the cost of repairs was  greater than the worth of the car so I got rid of it before it totally broke down.  I've owned fancy cars like BMWs, etc. but they were fussy and a visit to the dealer would require a mortgage on your house for repairs.  In my younger days, any car that reached 100K was an exception.  I remember the early Toyota commercials where owners jumped for joy when their cars hit 100K.  Now, I think its more commonplace at 100K, but 200K is still pretty special to me. 


This CRV has been solid.  It was one of the first CRV models that was built in Japan and the quality was superb for the time.  It went head to head against the Toyota Rav4 back then and pioneered the concept of the mini SUV.  

I can leave it for months at a time when I am over in the LOS and it fires up like a champ if the battery is charged.  Nothing has broken, except my digital clock, in last 14 years.  I replaced the battery, a couple of head lamps,  the timing belt replaced at 100K as recommended by Honda, three sets of tires (got 70K from the replacements), and I change my oil every 3-5,000 miles.  It just runs and runs and runs.  Its rated a 9.1 out of 10 from current owners on the Kelly Blue Book site...one by an owner who has over 650,000 miles on his!  

I've been thinking of getting a new car recently, but based on all the data that I got recently on this car, it might be a good idea if I just keep this car for another 200K.  Can save me a ton of money in the process and spend it in the LOS instead.  



  

Friday, May 16, 2014

Doraemon moves to Main Street



Disney announced an agreement with Doraemon owners to bring the futuristic feline to Main Street, Disneyland.  If you have spent time here in the LOS, you know about Doraemon...and other cartoons like Hello Kitty, etc.  Now it will start in the USA for a whole new generation of kids.

 http://blogs.wsj.com/japanrealtime/2014/05/09/japanese-anime-star-doraemon-finally-makes-u-s-debut/?mod=crnews


But Doraemon with mouse ears might be a bit hard to swallow.

Especially if cats are supposed to chase mice...and eat them.  How is politically correct Disney going to handle that scenario?

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Went out for some golf yesterday

There is a heat wave in the bay area this week.  Temps in the 80s and high 90s around the bay.  So it was with great glee that I went out to the golf course for some golf yesterday...in shorts even!  It was nothing like golf in the LOS...had to change shoes in the parking lot, using my car as a locker.  No showers afterwards and especially no pretty caddies to clean and look for my lost balls.

However, here in the US of A we do have.........

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The boys and their toys

Ordered a couple of new pistols to add to my collection this week.  I'll be able to get one of them before I leave for the LOS, but the other one will have to wait until I get back.  NO, I am not bringing these to the LOS...I'm not that stupid and don't want a free extended stay at the Bangkok monkey house.

The first pistol is a Sig Sauer 1911 22LR.  Normally, 1911s are .45 ACPs, but with the cost of ammo nowadays, using a 22LR training pistol makes a lot of economic sense.  The Sig 1911 22LR is a good trainer and has a similar feel to a full sized 1911.  At less than 10 cents a round, one can shoot all day and not break the bank.  I'm a 1911 fan and this will be the fourth in my collection.  

My 1911

Another 1911 (she sure is a beauty)


My second acquisition was a Glock 34 chambered in 9mm.  The G34 is the most popular gun used in IDPA and IPSC competitions and they are hard to come by so when one came up for sale, I jumped on the opportunity.  This will be my first Glock.  I've put off buying a Glock for all these years because I have always believed that guns should only be made of steel and not plastic.  I still believe this, and am buying this pistol pretty much out of curiosity and will try very much to like it.  There are rave reviews about the G34 so hopefully I will like it enough to keep it.  It does fit very nicely in the SSP category and has won a ton of championships so it can't be that bad.

Glocks and more Glocks

Only 16 more days to go.....


Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Yeah...they are out of my park!

The demonstrators finally packed up and left my favorite park yesterday.  I'm glad, because that is where I walk when I am in the big mango in the mornings.  When the demonstrators occupied the park, I still walked there, but always with a bit of worry because you could never tell if an attack would find one in the wrong place at the wrong time.  The people inside the park were OK.  They never gave me any trouble and were always respectful of my right to walk there.  I'm sure I could have even walked up to one of their food lines in the morning for something to eat.


But the occupation was taking a toll on the park.  Tents covered almost all available grass and despite their efforts, the park was smelly in spots and not at all appealing for a crisp morning walk.  I missed the crowds, the orderly and neat appearance, and the friendliness of the park.  I will hopefully get all that back when I return to the mango in a couple of weeks.  Things are going well here and no delay in my return is expected.


In the meantime, I walk when I can on the shoreline near the freeway.  Great views, but very noisy due to the highway traffic.  Its nice, but I long for Suan Lom (Windy Park) or more formally known as Lumphini Park.


Wednesday, May 7, 2014

How many hours a day do you surf?

On your computer or your phone....how many hours do you surf and not live life around you?

For me, even a couple of hours is too much.  Thus no Facebook, tweets, or other social media for me.  I read these social media hubs for information an convenience, but no walls or tweets of my own.  A blog for my own diary recollection and that's about it.  This video has a lot of truth behind it...worth five minutes of your surfing time allocation.  It might open up your whole life.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

A tragic loss....


Its not often you get to meet someone special...I mean really special.  The news is being dominated today by the loss of Eddie Andreini, a stunt pilot who died in an air crash yesterday in Fairfield.  It was a great loss of a great showman and a really great guy.  I had a chance to meet him when our kite team was performing on the Air Show circuit and was brand new to the 'business'.  As a senior and popular performer, he was one of our first supporters when we got started.  You see, at first, we were unknowns and people could not see how kites related to the Air Shows...fortunately we are past that point and are considered pilots like everyone else on the ticket.  Pilots and performers get together before the shows in receptions and other social events for the promoters.  Eddie was always there with his big smile and warm greetings. The loud roar of his bi-plane was always a hit as was his amazing skills as a pilot.


I don't know if he was serious or kidding, but he once offered our smallest guy on the team named Barry a job as a wing walker on one of his planes.  A wing walker is someone strapped to the open top of the bi-plane, arms spread, and then Eddie would fly upside down with the guy inverted near the ground.  Needless to say, Barry never took him up on the job.

For your information, the air show performers are not crazy or reckless pilots.  They are true professionals and are a close knit family who do regular shows together in the area.  There is a prescribed window in which they perform and safety is the most important factor in everything they do.  They are just really, really good pilots that can do things other people cannot.

Eddie died the way most of us would like or hope to die...doing something that you really enjoy most with all your heart.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Teletubbies

Tinky Winky, Dispsey, La La, Po

Do these characters sound familiar?  They didn't sound familiar to me until just recently.  Actually, they have been around since 1996 or nearly 17 years!  They didn't sound familiar to me because like Sesame Street, they were a part of the UK PBS network whereas Sesame Street was a US PBS production.

Well, B and Baby Marina introduced them to me a couple of months ago because they were popular here in the LOS and now I can't help to hum the stupid theme song from time to time as I think of them.  Its Marina's favorite video and manages to keep her attention for as long as 15 minutes which something for a 10 month old.  Her face breaks out in a giant smile and she moves her feet to the song.  I even ordered some stuffed dolls for her from China.

Anyway, I understand that they are making a big comeback as this is a recently released video for 2014.  So along with the new technology trends like 3D printers, Google glass, etc.,...this blog is letting you know the latest baby trends as well.  Move over Big Bird...here comes the Teletubbies!

Warning:  Watch at your own risk....highly addicting!

Oh oh.....


Sunday, May 4, 2014

Old films on Bangkok

I've always wondered how things would have been if I had come to Thailand as a young man.  It would have been a lot different for sure, both for me and the LOS.  I don't know if I would like it so much, but looking at the videos below, it wasn't too much different from a cultural perspective, but the big mango was sure different back then.

Select YouTube Videos for Bangkok during the last 100 years.  Enjoy!












Jet Laggin

Yep...Jet Lagged and laggin.


Been sleeping a lot the last couple of days.  Seems like I'm sleepy no matter what time of the day it is so I think its due to the fact that I was tired out from traveling.  But I was also sleeping a lot on the trip back...so go figure.

Anyway, I've been here a couple of days now and aside from jet lag, I am getting over sticker shock.  Filled up my little car today and it cost me $50.   Went to the stores yesterday and stocked up on food and other supplies - spent more than I did for two weeks in the land of smiles.  Also noticed that the stores seem to be usually empty.  No customers in the stores and no long lines to check out.   Did I hit a soft period or is it that the EBT cards aren't funded yet?  Noticed the Costco selection has been reduced significantly and the prices increased.  

But the weather has been great!  Sleeping with no aircon and even wearing a jacket in the evenings.  But I would trade it all in a minute to get back to the LOS.  Only 27 days to go.....


Thursday, May 1, 2014

Hotel California

Welcome to the Hotel California
Such a lovely place (Such a lovely place)
Such a lovely face
Plenty of room at the Hotel California
Any time of year (Any time of year)
You can find it here



Welcome to the Hotel CaliforniaSuch a lovely place (Such a lovely place)
Such a lovely face
Plenty of room at the Hotel California
Any time of year (Any time of year)
You can find it here

Yep, arrived safely but late to Hotel California.  The craziness starts at the airport.  A whole plane load of 300+ people.  Three agents clearing passports, etc.  Don't you know that means more than 100 people in line ahead of you?

Keep telling myself...only 30 days and I'm out of here.