Tuesday, September 30, 2014

This hobby is getting expensive!



This the the 40-80 yard practice range

Went to the archery range this morning in the Oakland hills.  Part of the East Bay Regional parks district, the Redwood Bowman's archery range is a convenient and excellent course for all kinds of archery.  They have trails courses where there are targets that simulate hunting in the woods as well as target archery ranges at various distances.  Once there, it seems like you are out in the country and its peaceful and quiet.  Located right next to the Chabot Space and Science Museum, there is free covered parking.  And the fees are very reasonable at $5 suggested donation.  Their website link is here.  http://www.redwoodbowmen.org/

10-35 yard practice range

Shooting and hangout area

While shooting today, I shot my second 'Robin Hood', this time at 30 yards.  So..two more arrows to the trash bin.  With the advent of todays' compound bows, sights, and releases, I now believe that shooting your own arrow is not so usual and uncommon, so I have to figure the cost of replacement arrows into the cost of the hobby.  


Another one?

While I was at the archery range in Thailand last month,  Bangkok buddy and I was quoted a price of over $500 for a dozen 'competition' arrows.  When my jaw dropped at the quote, I realized that arrows are very similar to golf balls.  The golf balls used by the pros are expensive - and only they or very good players can benefit from their characteristics.  Arrows are the same way...if super straight and micro precision arrows is what is needed to win an Olympic gold metal or competition, then I would say go for it.  But for a beginner and non competitor like myself, there is little benefit for me with my present skills.  If I make the Olympic team, then I might splurge on a few dozen..but until then,  no $500/dzn arrows.

So...I've been using arrows from a Chinese factory that produces OEM arrows for large distributors.  These arrows are very cheap, but have very similar specs to name brand arrows -- obviously overruns or rejects from the 'prefect' arrows sold at 2-3 times the price.  They even took my order for custom vane colors!  At $65 per dozen, its still over $5 an arrow.  

Anyway, a few more days to go so I'm just finishing off my chores and waiting for that big bird to carry me back home.   


Monday, September 29, 2014

Protests in the Kong

I was just reading about the protests underway in Hong Kong and frankly, I'm not surprised.  I'm only surprised that it took so long for the residents to stand up for their future.  Whether they will be successful is another matter.  The protesters are mostly young, like the Tienanmen Square protesters and on a divine mission to fight for their rights against a large and unforgiving government  (we all know how TS came out).  They swear their lives behind the cause and all the stops will be pulled out.  But unlike TS where there was little information about the protests, social media will play a big part as will the media as many international networks have offices in HK.  Many see the outcome of this struggle as a prelude to how China may look like as we move into the future. 

When I visited the Kong about two years ago, I posted that the Kong had changed from being one of Asia's most cosmopolitan cities to the land of the 'rude and crude'.  I was surprised how quickly the British influence melted away, and replaced by something very different and far less desirable.  Even the long time residents were complaining about the new influx of mainland Chinese ruing their way of life and hurting their businesses.

Hong Kong depends heavily on tourism and business travelers.  Once a gateway to China, its infrastructure and scenic beauty was a logical stop.  People spoke English and were savvy in business and world events.  There was great shopping and the food was world renown.   With the promise of  'one country two systems', Beijing didn't follow through with that promise and began to meddle in the magic that made HK what it was.  The changes were slow, but very noticeable after a long time away like I experienced.   Hong Kong is definitely at the crossroads of its existence.  Is it going to be just another large city in China or will it be able to re-capture its former self?  These demonstrations will be very interesting to watch.

Hong Kong residents have always felt that they were invulnerable to the demands and rules of Beijing because they were so successful and sophisticated in their business dealings and banking systems.  Unfortunately that has now changed with the growth of other powerhouse cities like Shanghai and Beijing itself, making Hong Kong no long vital to China's existence and business success.   Its very likely, and unfortunate,  that HK will be dealt with very harshly to keep other cities from thinking of doing the same thing -- its the pattern of how the PRC has behaved with other 'misbehaving' regions - come down hard with an iron fist.





I am hoping that Beijing will realize that what made Hong Kong so special was not the tall buildings, the scenic venue,  or its resorts like Disneyland, but its the people and how they felt in an open and free environment of capitalism.  Don't kill the goose that is laying the golden egg!






Friday, September 26, 2014

Crazy few days

Its been a crazy few days for me as I try to wrap up business and get ready for the jump back over to the land of smiles.  Ten more days to go ...yeah!  We had our first rain storm of the season and the roads were a mess yesterday. The commute hour was total gridlock going into the city because of an officer involved shooting right in the middle of the downtown area.  Fortunately I did not have to go into the city, but being near the bridge, my travels were impeded all day long.

Couple of items in the post today.  First, I had a chance to go to the range to test out my new Glock 34, gen 3.  Its been in jail since I returned to register it  and I finally got a chance to pick it up yesterday.  After taking it apart and lubing it, I took it to the indoor range for a workout.  The Glock 34 is chambered in 9mm and is a favorite among competitive shooters.  I put about 50 rounds through it and was a bit disappointed.  The sights were off - to be expected with a new gun, but more disappointing was that the groups were very large - even at 10 yards.  Whether its because it was new or something else, its probably the least accurate gun I own at the present time.  I gave up after 50 rounds and decided to go home..it was that bad!  Going to break it down again and check out the specs to see why it performing so poorly.






For those that are bit older and live in the Bay Area, do you remember Laughing Sal?  I was in Santa Cruz over the weekend and ran into her.  Once a resident of Playland at the Beach, Sal scared and entertained people for years.  I remember seeing her when I was a kid and always felt a bit scared and funny at the same time.  She is a classic and I'm glad they have preserved her for another generation of kids and people to enjoy.  She is now on the Boardwalk just behind the arcade.



Planing to go to the archery range today between the rain storms to test out a few things and prepare for the last full weekend on this end of the bookend.



Tuesday, September 23, 2014

They don't make them like this anymore

My childhood was a wonderful experience thanks to the great TV shows of the time.  They were wholesome, fun, and full of music and adventure.  No wonder we have so many maladjusted adults these days...ha ha ha

I posted yesterday about the Robin Hood splitting of the arrow TV scene.  Well I found it on YouTube last night.  For those that want to skip to the scene, its at 12m30s.

Technically what he did was impossible unless the grain in the wood of the arrow was in perfect alignment...but hey its TV..


Shot my first Robin Hood..........

I got my new bow last weekend and was anxious to test it out at a great range in the Oakland hills (more about this range in another post).  The bow was a former competitor's bow and he changes equipment every year so I was fortunate to nab a great bow at a very reasonable price, plus accessories and even a case!  


My new Pro Edge Elite

Anyway, today while I was shooting the new bow, I shot what is called a 'Robin Hood' from 35 yards out.  If one is old enough, you will remember the movies or TV where Robin Hood was so good that he shot an arrow inside an arrow that was already in the bulls-eye.  In modern archery times, when a arrow lands cleanly inside the tube of another arrow already on the target and splits it, its called a Robin Hood.  


Robin Hood!  Too bad it wasn't in the bulls-eye
But look at the grouping at 35 yards!

Well during one of my last sessions, I shot a clean RH.  The bad news is that I've now destroyed two arrows, but at least I have validated that I have one heck of a bow.  I've also validated that the arrows I got from China are going to work out just fine as I am not so sorry if I had spent some big money on some fancy, expensive arrows.   


Clean into the first shaft about ten inches...

Was it just a lucky beginner's shot...or ????



Robin Hood, Robin Hood, Riding through the glen
   Robin Hood, Robin Hood, and his band of men..... ha ha ha


Saturday, September 20, 2014

The west says Thailand should have democratic elections...but...

If problems like these happened in Thailand, there would be an outcry of vote rigging and corruption.  But if it happened in a UK country, and the UK is one of the strongest voices against the Thailand government today, then its swept under the table.  This is democracy chap,  and its the fairest and best system on the planet!

Its a simple "yes" or "no" vote...not rocket science here.  The fate of an entire nation hangs on a simple vote, but....





Friday, September 19, 2014

Shopping for a not so old classic

As I am approaching my third or forth childhood (I've lost count), I have been looking for a car to buy to back-up my old CRV with over 200K miles on it.  Not that I don't have any confidence in that little CRV running for another 100K,   

At the start of this year I wanted to find a car that I've longed for, but could never afford, when it was new.  This car is not yet a classic, and the prices vary all over the board, but I feel that in five to ten years, it will establish itself as a highly collectible vehicle.  I've let many cars get away when I had a chance to buy them cheap like a 1957 T Bird convertible and back in the late 60s I had a chance to buy a used Mustang Shelby GT350 for only $6000.   The timing was not right and at that time, it was money that I could not spare.

The car I am shopping for now is a 1989 Mercedes 560SL.  Its 25 years old this year and can qualify for classic license plates here in California.  I'm not a fan of Mercedes automobiles except this one.  Ever since I first saw them in the 1980s, I've always wanted to own one.  But the price tag was over $60K back then and be the equivalent of 120K  or more now.  It was far too expensive for my blood at the time with two little kids and a mortgage.  It was a car for millionaires and rich people, not me.

But it was superb automobile and 1989 was the last year that they made this body style with the R107 chassis.   Made in Germany with a top speed of 139 mph, a 560cc engine, and luxury on top of luxury it was considered one of the best touring roadsters of its time.  Its heavy, smooth, solid, and a gas guzzler - but in today's age of political correctness, I would just pull up to a Prius and flash a big smile before hitting the gas pedal...555



Yep, its a convertible with two tops..a soft top and a removable hardtop.

After 25 years, its finally getting to a point where I can finally afford one and my challenge is to find a decent one before they are all gone.  There were less than 7000 made and fortunately people who bought them were usually well off and maintained the cars well.  

I have a couple of leads for cars on the East Coast, but hopefully I can work out all the logistics of getting the car here before I head back to the land of smiles.  More info on the MB 560SL here.  Wish me some luck!



Thursday, September 18, 2014

Inflation and sticker shock

On my return to California, I had to do some grocery and basic supplies shopping.  What I thought was a quick trip to Target ended with a single large grocery bag (which you must now supply on your own) and me $50 poorer.  For the same amount, I could have gotten a whole shopping cart full of stuff in the Land of Smiles and some lunch at the food court too!

So for those of you that don't think all this monetary stuff is robbing you with your eyes open, here is a graphic from The Burning Platform  on how much the dollar has devalued.  How many of you are old enough to remember some of these things?  And what of the old lady that hid her money under the mattress ?  Well she's broke now.

Can't wait to get back to the LOS and get some real stuff for my money.


Sunday, September 14, 2014

arrows are expensive!



Looking around the internet and eBay for arrows.  Got a quote from the dealer in the Big Mango about competition quality arrows...cost more than I paid for the bow for a dozen.  Anyway, as I was looking, it reminded me of a movie scene from the movie Red Cliff 2 ( great movie directed by John Woo).  For those that haven't seen the movie, They needed 100,000 arrows and could not make them in time so.....they hatched a plan...



Now, is there a way to steal arrows from the haystacks at the range?   Kidding aside, looks like eBay is the cheapest source of arrows besides China.  Will be ordering a few to bring back the next few days.


jet lagged......

One of the things that I hate about traveling back and forth between the land of smiles and California is Jet Lag.  It affects some people more than others, but I think I'm one that gets affected a lot.  Some times it takes me a week or more to get my sleep cycle back and during the whole time, I feel weak, light headed, and sleepy all the time.  I don't see how the guys that visit the big mango all the time do it -- except maybe they stay in an elevated party mode all the time and then crash afterwards when they get home.  

I've been forcing myself to stay awake during the day, but it hasn't helped me to sleep through the night yet.  In fact, its 2 AM as I am posting this blog as I just woke up after about 4 hours of sleep.  I read that melatonin can help so I'm going over to CVS or Walgreens for some tomorrow and will give it a try.  You can get it off the shelf as its considered a supplement here in the US and not subject to a prescription.  

In the meantime, the weather has been great in the Bay Area.  Its Indian Summer time, which boasts some of the best weather of the year.  Ran errands, delivered  gifts and goods, and visited some properties the last two days.  Had a chance to see my godmother, who is going to turn 95 this November.  Five more years, and she would live to be a century old.  Many of us are just glad to make it 1/2 of the way there.

More in a few days after I feel better and have more energy for posting.

Friday, September 12, 2014

California...


Yep..in old California on a city by the bay.  


Uneventful trip and even arrived a bit early.  Going to be a bit jeg-lagged for the next few days, but I have a busy schedule starting tomorrow.  They said the weather was great, but I had to put on a jacket on arrival and the thought of spending the winter here this year is giving me the chills.

Time for a call home and a few hours of vertical shut eye.  


Thursday, September 11, 2014

California Bound....

A short three weeks in California.  A quick trip.  A fast turnaround.  yada yada yada....That is what keeps me from being down as I get ready to go to the airport.  But I'm taking a more positive view of it recently, always keeping in mind that Bangkok is my home now and that a trip to California is nothing more than a business trip.  I have roots here in the land of smiles and love my city of angels and the friendly Issan countryside.    

Going to the States does gets harder each time as Marina gets older.  She is starting to understand long absences and I am trying to be here for all those precious moments during her childhood development.  I was glad to see her take her first steps while I was here and who knows what she will be able to learn and do when I get back!  I'm taking the late afternoon flight from EVA which I like because it gives me almost the entire day for something else before my departure.

Spent yesterday doing errands in the morning and packing in the early afternoon.  Around 4PM, I met up with Bangkok Buddy for an early dinner at Oishi.  It was nice to not have to fight the crowds for food and the service was very quick on the cook-to-order items.  It was not a great plan for my diet, but what the heck, it was my last day in the mango for a while. 

Afterwards, we went shopping at Fortune Town as I waited for my pair of shooting glasses to be finished.  A stop at Amorn yielded the kid proof socket inserts for 20 baht and now I only have to find some cabinet locks in California.  Relocating all the stuff from down low to high shelves is next on the agenda when I get back.  

By the way, the shooting glasses came out great so there is no excuse for me missing targets now except my lack of talent.  Time to get ready to go...more in Taipei or back in Kalifornia....


Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Couple of days left on this end.

With just a couple of days left on this bookend, I spent the morning and early afternoon at Bobae Market.  Most of the clothes here doesn't suit my taste (nor do they fit me), but there are a couple of shops that sell shirts and Tees that I like a lot.  Polo-OTOP is one of those stores that I like to visit to buy their Cool Plus fabric shirts.  The material has exceptional wicking properties like Dri-Fit and was originally invented in Taiwan, even though most of the production is now from China.  I've purchase shirts here for our Salon, resort, and even for my kite team.  These polos feel like cotton, but they wick sweat faster without loading and dry overnight on a hanger without wrinkles.  One of the shirts that I would recommend for my 'endless' travel bag.

I was also looking at the various shops selling baby clothes.  There are no designer brands here, but lots of clothes for everyday wear.  Toddlers grow up so quickly and are so hard on their clothing that it doesn't make sense to pay a lot of money for designer or licensed clothing for them.  Bobae offers the same clothing you see sold at the various shops and stalls in the city - only at wholesale prices.  Some shops will only allow you to buy a minimum of 3-6 pcs, while others are a bit more lax in this requirement.  After all, its supposed to be a wholesale market.  Prices are about 60% of the prices usually charged at the retail stalls.  

Bobae market is a flurry of activity at all times of the day.  I was once there at 3AM (another story for another time) for their 'night' market and the streets were jammed full.  Bring walking shoes as there is a lot of floors and merchandise to see.  Be sure to check out all the alleys and streets around the tower as well as many shops there offer better prices than inside the aircon tower.  The best way to go to Bobae Market without a car is to take the Underground to Hua Lamphong and then hop a taxi.  It should be no more than 35 - 45 baht from there, depending on traffic.


After a long, late afternoon nap, I wandered down Soi Suan Phu in search of something to eat and discovered a new Rotee stand.  I had not eaten Rotee for a while.  When I was visiting the South of Thailand during kite festivals, I would have two or three every morning from the local vendors. Rotee stands and stores are everywhere in the South of Thailand but they are fairly hard to find here in the mango.  I ordered two banana and egg rotee for 35 baht each ($1).



They are terrible for your diet as they are loaded with oil/butter, sugar, and lots of calories - but they sure taste good.  A couple of Rotee and a cup of strong coffee will keep you on a sugar and caffeine high all morning long...5555   We needed that during our kite festivals.   I guess I now have a favorite stall near my condo...good thing he is not around in the mornings...I would be there everyday.

One more day of errands and hanging out tomorrow.  Plans are to go to Central Rama 9 for dinner and then pick up my shooting glasses.



Monday, September 8, 2014

Monday, Monday



Had a fun and productive weekend.  Since it was going to be my last weekend here this month, it had to be packed with things to take care of and to do.  But Saturday morning was allocated for a trip out to Hua Mak Archery Range with Bangkok buddy for the Free Archery Lessons.  Unfortunately, we struck out as there was some kind of national tournament going on with teams from all over the area attending.  We did get to see the competitors shoot the 70m targets and it was interesting to see how high the arrows had to arc in order to reach the target before they were pulled down by gravity.  




If I remember my physics laws of nature, objects fall due to gravity at a rate of 32 feet per second per second.  With that in mind, and the speed of the arrows, if it took one second for the arrows to reach the target, then the archer had to aim 32 feet higher than the target in order for it to find its mark.  Since I had neither the arrow speed or time, it was a pointless exercise in trying to compute how high  except that they did have to aim pretty high and it was neat to see the arrow arch onto the targets close to the bull-eye.  It makes the case for faster bows and arrows as they will cast a flatter trajectory and makes it more forgiving.




Since we couldn't shoot at Hua Mak, we decided to visit Archery Thai for a few hours to rent their lanes.  It wasn't too crowded and the time spent there was fun.  

Afterwards, we went over to Sizzler for some lunch and hung out at Central Rama IX mall which is just about 10 minutes away by car.  Lunch there can be expensive as I ended up ordering a pair of prescription shooting glasses for use on the ranges (for rifles, pistols, and now archery).  I have a slight astigmatism in both eyes and even with my Lasik operation, I don't have perfect 20/20 vision and these will help a lot in closing my groups.  Last session in my hour time limit on the right.







Love the service here as the glasses will be ready in a couple of days, custom made, and in the frame style that I want.  Not cheap, but a lot cheaper than I could get them in the US.  

Sunday morning was spent on shopping for Marina and stuff to bring back to California.  Crashed and took a long nap in the late afternoon after a hard morning workout at the gym.  I really needed to recharge my batteries for the last few days here on this end of the planet.  

Today, after some errands this morning, I might go out and check out the archery range again or go to the golf driving range.  Either way, its only play after some work in the morning...else life here will be all play and no work...   But isn't that why I like it here so much anyway???

All play and no work....I could come to like that a lot.   

Thursday, September 4, 2014

We're in Big Trouble now....

Marina took her first solo steps yesterday...a prelude of things to come.  Its a milestone in child development but it also signals a change for us as parents that they will quickly be mobile and will be getting into everything that is within reach.  B thought she was on the late side to walk, but considering Marina was a month premature and that both my other kids walked at 14 months, her timeline is right on track.  She is walking at 14 months plus one week of her birth age.  Also its not because her of physical and motor development as she has some of the strongest legs and arms I've seen in a baby.  She has just been so curious about everything else in her environment and could get around so easily on all fours that finally she has just developed the interest to walk.

I remember both my other kids first steps and I'm glad I was here to witness and capture Marina's first steps.  Some time in the future, hopefully she will play it back and be glad we captured these precious moments because once they pass, they are gone forever.  Baby's first steps...baby's first shoes....super precious for this start over dad.  

Gone however, are those innocent times where they stay in one spot for the most part and you can keep an eye on them.  Now they will walk and soon run and keeping up with them will be a big challenge.  Its time to kid proof the condo, the resort, and any place else she might get into.....yes, we are in big trouble now....
  

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

One week before Kalifornia again...


About a week left on this end of the bookend before going to Kalifornia for around three weeks.  Once there, I plan on some business and shopping and maybe a short trip or two within the state.  Plans are tentative, depending on the business requirements.  I'm glad I won't be staying long as the 'save the world' legislators are proposing to ban all plastic bags from stores in the entire state.  But no worries, there won't be any food and veggies left to put into the bags because of the drought and poor water management anyway.  

In the meantime, its been great to be in the mango for the last few days.  Got a chance to go to the Archery range again yesterday and shot for about an hour.  I think the bow is pretty close to being properly set up in terms of its sights.  The groupings are pretty decent for a beginner, only thing is the center of the groups are a bit high for the moment.  That could be because of the sights or just as likely, the shooter.  Will go out again tomorrow in the afternoon with Bangkok Buddy and do some more experimenting with the sights.  I have a very good starter bow and will likely upgrade in a few months to something more serious.

Had a chance to talk a bit with one of the partners of the archery range yesterday, named Mike.  He is Thai, but spent quite a few years in Southern California in the archery business before coming back to the Land of Smiles.  Very nice and knowledgeable guy who speaks great English.  One of the best ways to meet great people here in Thailand is to join common interest groups and sports.  My life here has been helped and enriched so much by my Thai golfing and Kite Flying friends that I would likely have left long ago if it were not for them.

In the meantime, I've also been keeping an eye open for a better bow on Ebay.  I'm trying to find a Hoyt Pro Edge Elite that fits my specs (bows need to properly fitted to  your body and strength requirements to perform optimally).  Bows are pretty pricey here in the Land of Smiles but used ones are about 60% of the list price on eBay and they are 2014 models!  With some luck, I will be bringing one back in October.


Its likely that I will not go upcountry again until after my trip to Kalifornia.  No time left and I would really like to take a day trip or two with Marina down to Hua Hin.  A bit of shopping and a bit of fun and the week will fly by very quickly.


Monday, September 1, 2014

Lazy Sunday.....Archery at the range

It was a lazy Sunday as plans did not materialize for the trip out to the Hua Mak Archery Range.   Will likely have to wait  until next weekend for the free classes.   I was not deterred however and decided to go out and get my bow tuned at Archery Thai in the Ratchada area.  Previously, my bow was equipped with a peep sight and my arrows assembled there, but since there was a tournament going on at the time, I could not shoot the bow to check the sight alignment. This trip was an opportunity to shoot the bow and check things out in a controlled environment with real paper targets and set distances.

Anyway, I went out to the range around 11AM and was able to get a slot to shoot at noon for one hour.  During that hour, I had a chance to get the feel of the rules of the range and also to play around a bit with the sights on my bow.  The reviews on this bow were dead on -- the bow is great, but the sights on the bow are not very good at all.  After playing around for the entire hour, I was able to just get it fairly close - but will have to return another day to tune it up again as I am not happy with how things are set up at the moment.  The range is efficiently run and the people there seem to be very nice and polite.  Definitely will go back later in the week when its a bit quieter.

Also bought a bow stand from the pro shop for 1000 baht so that I won't have to use the hook they have to hang my bow.  After an hour, it was time to rest as shooting for an hour straight began to test some muscles that I rarely use.  This hobby will definitely build up muscles in your upper body, especially if you shoot a lot.

Some chores and errands to run today as a trip back to Kalifornia is planned in about 10 days.  As they say, there is no rest for the wicket - but there is no better place to be wicket than here in the big mango right?