Sunday, November 30, 2014

My Black Friday...

While the people went a into a frenzy yesterday, running from store to store looking for lost leader 'bargains' I stayed home.  Crazies here have been in line for days in front of such retailers like Best Buy waiting for those crazy 51" TV sets for $200, etc.  Tents, sleeping bags, and barbecue cookers lined the front of the stores and Thanksgiving dinners were cut short for the sake of getting that 'bargain'.  Its become more of a sport in hunting for bargains than the merchandise itself.

I did find a few online bargains yesterday on Amazon.  But what I have found in both the local and online promotions are products that are not really popular if left to its normal price.  Many had very bad reviews about design defects, poor quality, and some of the merchandise might be store returns or floor samples that have been on the shelves for months.  Even on Black Friday, the buyer should beware.

I bought just two items yesterday.  A Kershaw blur knife and a spotting scope.   Neither are expensive but I know why they were on sale.  For example, the blur knife is a hot seller if it was black, but what was on sale was the version in red.  Not too many people want a red tactical style knife...but I didn't care, so it was a bargain at $35 when the retail is $109.  I like the red as it would be easier to find when I put it down or drop it.  The scope had it limitations and is useful primarily as a target range scope problems as I did not plan to go hunting with it anyway.

Its a strange feeling to be here in California this time of year.  Most years, I will be in the mango and covering the Motorshow.  Unfortunately, there will not be an International motorshow  presentation this year....the pretties will have to wait until next time.  Its definitely better to be in the Mango, as one doesn't have to deal with the crazy demonstrations going on here.  They broke windows and looted some stores at Union Square yesterday.  

Couple of  more days...and the MZB will be here.  Thinking of naming her Victoria but that may change as that name hasn't stuck to me like Vanna did when I got her.  Maybe I will name her Valarie...or an old German name - Velda.  Decisions, decisions, decisions.........

Friday, November 28, 2014

Turkey Day!

Have a great Thanksgiving day everyone.  I know that I will be celebrating and being thankful for the great life that I have had.  

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

She is on the way.........

My 560SL is on the way from Florida.  They picked up the car today at 1PM Eastern time and according to the shipper, the car will be here next Monday.  That is only six days and when I checked last, it was over 48 hours of drive time.  That means the driver will be doing at least 8 hours a day for six days, including the Thanksgiving weekend.  I'm sure I will not be the only vehicle on the truck, but a least it will be enclosed and protected from the elements during its cross country journey.

Had great service so far from the transport company, United Routes Transport.  Now, its just a matter of waiting 

First time to buy a car from out of State.  Already investigated if the car would be California Compliant and fortunately all 89 560SL were 50 State compliant, including smog devices required for California during that year.  It still needs to pass a smog test, but that's going to be another bridge when I get there.

Regarding Ferguson, Mo., I'm am glad that the Grand Jury was brave enough to not cave in to the political pressure and returned a logical decision to not indict or go to trial.  It was both a good decision and saved millions in what would have been a politically charged trial - that would have come to the same conclusion - fanning the flames of discontent.   Many in both the media and activist groups had tried to turn this incident into some kind of civil right movement of the present era, only to fall flat on their faces when the facts came out.  I'm sorry, but the kid was a thug and criminal and he was responsible for losing his own life, not the officer trying to do his job.  

Its unfortunate, but other lives will be lost by these protests and it gives the world a very bad impression of the already tarnished image of the USA.  

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Going to a big Birthday Party

One of the reasons I came back this time was to attend a party for a very special godmother.  She will be turning 95 this year, just a few years short of a century.  Her family is holding a very large birthday celebration for her today and friends and family from around the globe are attending.

Cora is a special lady.  Having lived through the second World War in the Philippines, she ran and hid in the forest and trees during the attacks and occupation by the Japanese.  Agusto, a Catholic Priest who received dispensation  from the Pope for leaving Priesthood, became her husband in the 50s.  

I met them 22 years ago during the period of my faith formation.  They took me in as a family member, gave me guidance, and helped me renew my Christian faith from childhood.  Augusto died nearly twenty years ago, but  I've stayed in contact with Cora and even enjoyed holiday trips with her and her extended family.  So today, I want to wish 'Mama', as all her family calls her, a very very happy 95th birthday and will be waiting for my invitation to your 100th birthday!

On a different topic, I completed all the paperwork on my new car purchase and am schedule to wire the money to pay for the car on Monday morning.  My estimate is that if all goes well, the car will be delivered from Florida the week after Thanksgiving!  I've already starting shopping for a car cover and have located a highly rated Mercedes mechanic in my area.  Can't believe I finally have my very own 560sl!

A little bit on entertainment on the restore project of another SL from the TV show "Wheelers and Dealers"

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Just bought an older Car!

Back in September, I posted that I was looking for an emerging classic car.  I like classic cars for both their history and the fact that the value of the car will increase over time rather than decrease (that is according to theory anyway).  Well today I finally got my wish.  I picked up a 1989 Mercedes 560SL, in ivory, with a brown interior.  This was my preferred color, with white being my second choice.

I like the looks of the old R107 cars and do not like the curvy versions of today.  Many agree and think this is one of the best looking cars that Mercedes has produced.

The problem is that its in Florida, so I will have to make arrangements to have it shipped here to California.  Last time I checked, its going to cost another 2K to have it shipped here in an enclosed transport vehicle.  No matter, I've loved this car since I was young and now I will have one of my very own.  Don't worry, I expect it to be a money pit, but I didn't buy this car to save money...if I wanted to go that route, I would have bought a used Prius.  This car is for my third of those lust purchases on one's bucket list.  This is a luxury cruising sedan with two tops...convertible on those nice days and either a cloth or hard top for more incremental weather.

With the hard top on

With the soft top

The great thing about these old cars, for now, is that they are still reasonable.  Got this one for less than my 2000 Honda CRV and less than half of a new car today.  With my CRV going over 200K miles now, this little sweetie with only 100K miles is going to my back up car.  Yes, she will be babied...

Will post more as I get things all paid for and arrangements to have it shipped.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

alive and kickin in California

I'm still alive and kicking here in the golden state, despite a bit of jet lag.  The weather has been mild in the region while elsewhere in the nation, there is an early deep freeze and lots of snow.  Wore short sleeves today and felt comfortable and while the temperatures go down to the 30s and 40s in the surrounding areas at night, I have been indoors in the evenings.

Had a chance to meet and work with the kite team yesterday to build some new kites for next year.  We went to a large clubhouse in the Redwoods because one of the team members recently became president of his parlor and had privileges to reserve it for our use.  Located in Woodside, its smack in the middle of an unspoiled redwood forest.  Its such a beautiful setting that it looked like it was part of a movie set.  Tall, thick, and richly colored redwood trees as far as the eye could see - totally secluded and devoid of any sign of civilization and only 45 minutes of San Francisco.  Lived here all my life and didn't know this place even existed.  Its open space private property of the Native Sons, but there are homes in the vicinity that share the same forest and camping is available by special arrangement with the parlor that controls the lodge.  Didn't bring my camera, but this place is worth a re-visit over and over again.

Aside from some business, I've started to assemble my new bow for use here in California the next couple of months.  When I was in the land of smiles, I ordered a new compound bow as I planned to leave the other one in Bangkok.  Got a great deal on eBay for a Hoyt Faktor Turbo, with exactly my specifications.  So far, I've equipped it with a drop away arrow rest (AAE - DOA), a Stinger stabilizer, straps, Sure-Loc sights and am now waiting for a new viper scope for the sights.  Its set up for hunting and 3D,  and by just changing the stabilizers, I can also target shoot with it as well.

All this activity is in a way, my attempt to deal with  missing my daughter Marina so much.  I've called her every day and she babbles and I don't understand a thing she says, but it gives me some comfort to know that as each day passes, its another day closer to when I get back home to the mango.  Keeping busy helps pass the time and living here in California isn't that could be worse, especially back East.

More later in the week as we approach Turkey day and the other holidays.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Random acts of kindness and consideration......

all over the world....

Touch down in California

Here in California, safe and sound.  Uneventful trip with a short layover in Taipei.  Even with all that, the flight was 30 minutes early.  Total time from Bangkok to San Francisco :  40 minutes.

Yep, left at 5:20pm on the 13th and arrived here in California at 6PM, on the 13th.  Never mind the time differences and International date line least it wasn't one of those cases where I get back before I left!  One loses a day going to Asia, and gets the day back when coming the other way. It doesn't matter that much now, but it sure was important when I was still working and counting the vacation days.  Now, after retirement, its an unpaid vacation day every day....right?

Going to make my base here for the next couple of months.  Celebrate the holidays, get my tax stuff done, and get back the the land of smiles as soon as possible.  More later and it was a tiring trip...all 40 minutes of it.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

A little Surprise

In the Thai Silk lounge instead of the EVA Lounge.  According to the ticketing agents, the Eva lounge is being remodeled.  A little more crowded, but at least they have lots of small seats.  The WiFi password they gave me didn't work.  Good thing there is free AOT wifi now at the airport now.

Another lounge, but they all look and feel the same somehow.  Missing Marina already..hope I can make it the whole two months without her....

More from California...

Getting ready to head out to the airport

In a short while, it will be that long ride out to the airport again.  I can't describe the feeling one gets when one is heading to the airport to leave the land of smiles.  Its a mixture of sadness and determination to return as soon as possible and a silent (but impractical) promise to never leave again.  Harder still is the fact that you are leaving loved ones behind.

I can't forget a tearful Marina as I hugged her this morning and how it eats one up inside to leave, even temporarily a small child.  Its not going to get easier as she gets older.  Two months is a long time in a small child's life.

Anyway, had a great dinner last night as a kind of going away event.  Met up with Bangkok buddy and Johnny Walker for dinner at Oishi and then had some coffee as the McDs nearby afterwards.  Johnny Walker says he is retiring next year so that will give him more time to stay over in the mango.   Got my last fix of cheap and good Japanese Buffets and hanging out at the mall.  

This morning, Vanna got all clean and shiny and she and the Zoomer have been covered up to keep them dust free.  All the stuff is out of the fridge and my maid, Pond will check in once a week to make sure things are OK.   The plan is to see if B can replace the floors of the condo while I am away.  If it can't be done, then I will do it when I get back as the wood floors have seen its day and it time for some granite tile floors.

That's it for now.  Maybe more when I get to the EVA lounge in BKK.  Definitely no posting from Taipei as I have a very quick connection today.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Re-booked my trip back to LOS

With just a few days left on this end of the bookend, I am trying to squeeze as much as I can of life here for my time away.  While the time away will be during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays in the States, its going to be away from home.  Thailand is a Buddhist country that doesn't officially celebrate Christmas nor Thanksgiving, but Bangkok does get all jazzed up for the New Year season by decorating the malls and the area in front of Central World Plaza.  I will also miss New Year celebrations upcountry at the resort, where we visited the local Wat with their elaborate shows and putting on our very own little fireworks display.

The good news is that I will get to experience the insanity of  black Friday, the commercialism and exploitation of  the Christmas season, and cold weather again.  Haven't put on a long sleeve shirt in three months (when I left a month ago from California, we were having a heat wave), it will be fun to put on long sleeves and a jacket again and drink a hot cup of coffee and watch the steam come up from the cup.   I will also get to see my grand daughters and kids and eat real pizza and real hamburgers from In and Out Burger.   Or did I mention I missed the taste of good old American beef?...a Big T-Bone and some juicy prime rib for the holidays would help me forget the LOS for a while.

But I know I will miss Marina terribly, even though we have set up ooVoo for video calls as often as we like.  ooVoo is a neat app that allows you to video chat with up to 12 people at the same time, plus it cross platform - meaning that you and your friends can have it on the iPhone, Android, and even the desktop PC.  But video chat its just not the same as being here at home.

Last, how much do I miss this place?  I already booked my return flight back to the LOS.  For those that are interested, EVA is running a promotion on their website for flights from SFO to BKK.  If you travel in the next two weeks, you can get over here for around $920.  Elite class flyers have a promotion lasting until May, and you can apply mileage towards the purchase price.

Two more days....might go out to the archery range one more time today.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Loy Krathong Upcountry

We are back in the mango now because we wanted to get back early to avoid the bad weather and traffic predicted for tomorrow.  Supposed to be a big storm heading from China that will bring lots of rain and cold to central and northern Thailand.  

During 8-12 Nov, another high pressure area from China will extends to upper Thailand. Thunderstorm and morning cool with 2-3 °C is expected over the North and the Northeast. The stronger northeast monsoon will prevail over the Gulf and southern Thailand.
       The advisory will be effect on 7 November 2014
       Issued at 05.00 p.m.

Last night after dinner we had a lot of fun launching our sky lanterns at the resort.  It was virtually a windless night so the lanterns rose very high and out of sight.  We bought plenty so all the family and extended family had a chance to launch at least one.  

The lanterns come in flat packages

Attach the waxed core and center on the wires

Everyone is getting into the act now

Mommy, Dad and Marina looking on in awe
Wow, this really does fly!

Afterwards, B's mother wanted to go into Ban Khwao, where there was a larger celebration.  Ban Khwao is famous for its Mudmee Silk and also one of the places we go for their fresh market.

Local Beauty Contest
Last night, they converted the area in front of the market into a large celebration area.  They had the traditional Loy Krathong beauty contest (for all the guys that didn't have any luck bringing anyone to the celebration), dancers, and a small pond in the middle of the area where people floated their Krathongs.
The local pond where the Krathongs are pushed off

Mom and Dad launching theirs

Marina has her very own Krathong too!

Krathong Contest...Can this one even float?
 Naturally, there was food being sold everywhere and even the local VIPs came out in force to sample the offerings.

Lots of food being sold

Politicos turning out for the occasion

The celebrations are not as large or fancy as those in the major cities or towns, but these are set up and staged for locals and not tourists.  Its feels a lot like a local county fair...exactly what I love about being up here in the country... living, seeing and experiencing the real land of smiles and not something set up by the hotel or travel industry for packaged tours.  

In the mango tonight so its off to the free buffet and a bit of hanging out...

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Unbelievable night skies tonight at the resort

Don't know if it was the storm, the clean air, or whatever, but tonight's sunset up here was so odd and beautiful that it was worth capturing and sharing.  Going to Ban Khwao tonight for a show and will be launching our Krathong soon as its finally dark.

No fancy camera lenses or tricks.  Just shot with my S120 using auto setting.

What a beautiful sky

Night time at Marina Palms...

Loy loy loy krathong...the morning after

A beautiful full rainbow over the resort this Loy Krathong morning

Happy Loy Krathong 2014 from the land of smiles....more specifically from Chaiyaphum.  Its the morning after the big storm and the skies are clearing for Loy Krathong activities tonight.  Last night, we got the big rainstorm we expected and our property got a good drenching of rain.  We are still a bit short of water up here for the year so it was a nice storm to have to fill up the ponds and lakes in the area.  That means the fishermen and froggers are going out in the next few days to try their luck.  

B and her grandmother are going into town today to buy some frabric to make up some Loy Krathong outfits for the family.  She is also going to buy some sky lanterns for us launch tonight.  Its a tradition up here and its still legal.  With all the rain we've had, there is no worry that we will set anything on fire tonight...we are just hoping that the rains are going to be finished by later today.  We are going to launch our Krathongs on the pond across the resort and then launch our sky lanterns after that.

More tomorrow on tonight festivities.  Unlike in the big mango, Loy Krathong will be a family event and much more in the tradition of giving and getting blessings for a successful season ahead from the water goddess.  It also is supposed to symbolize the letting go of any anger, hatred, or other evil thoughts in order to purify one's mind and soul.  Whatever the reason, its a beautiful tradition to have and celebrate.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Tough ride up to the resort today

It was raining cats and dogs today on the way up to the resort, but once here, there is no least for now.  On the way up here, there were a least three major crashes that we saw due to the heavy rains.  Two involved buses and the others involved a number of big rigs that either flipped over into the center ditch dividing the highway or on the side of the road.  Traffic was a mess.

The rain gets really heavy here in the LOS and if you are driving, there is always the chance of hydro-planing off the slick roadways.  Although the roads and highways in Thailand are generally smooth and well maintained, they are not designed for heavy rainfall...such as having several inches of water over the entire surface.  There are no grooves in the curves to help drain water faster and provide traction, and in some cases, not enough rise on the center of the road for water to rapidly drain off to the sides.  All this makes for dangerous conditions during heavy rainfall.

Also,  the Thai drivers also don't seem to know how to drive slick roadways.  Most of the rain in the LOS happens very quickly and is over very quickly, unlike in California where the rain can last days or even a couple of weeks.  If it ever snowed in Thailand, it would be such a comic scene as the locals can't even stand a bit of wet weather, let alone slick icy roads....

So now, we are waiting for the storm to hit up here tonight as it hasn't rained here at the resort yet today.  Dark, overcast and heavy clouds at 4pm - From what we've seen already, its going to be a gully washer.

Looks like the Republicans took over the Senate and its going to be nasty couple of years left in the present administration's term.  My expectation is for the economy to tank big time and the market to have a massive correction as the elections are completed.  Much of the artificial rise in the market and funky economic numbers were politically motivated and as soon as the elections were done, the real truth will be unveiled. There was no longer the need or opportunity to prop up the economy and numbers to get re-elected. The tanking economy got the democrats in office during Obama's first run in 2008, and it will be what they will bring out with them before the year or term is over.  

Monday, November 3, 2014

In the Mango for the weekend

We were in the mango for the weekend.  Not much of anything happening here except to get some shopping done and a few items taken care of before my trip back to California in about two weeks.  Had a chance to go to the free buffet last night and ended up meeting the guys and chatting about a few things at the lobby.

Singapore Jimmy and I had a discussion on fiat currencies, and agreed that changes are in the wind.  For me, its obvious that the reserve currency of the dollar is in its last few days.  Why the market and the dollar continues to climb is defying logic, but that was exactly the way it was before the real estate crash.  Gold continues to drop in price and its a signal for me to buy some more.  I'm not the only one as the gold stores in Bangkok were full this weekend with shoppers.  The price is around 18,000 per baht for Thai gold.  

The inevitable monetary crash will lead to some drastic measures from the government.  The worst of my concerns is the restriction on travel and confiscation of assets.  A 'broke' uncle Sam will be desperate for an enslaved population and their assets and will not let those flee the country en mass.   If I happen to be on the wrong side of the bookend when things do hit the fan, I need to think of how I can make my way back here.  Some may think this is crazy thinking, but how many people ever thought that real estate would actually go down in value before the bust in 2008?

That being said, the plan is to enjoy myself during these last few days here even more.  Went to the archery range yesterday - even though BB cancelled out due to a headache and stuff nose.  He thought he might be coming down with something and didn't want to over-exert himself.  Maybe he will join me later in the week before I go upcountry for Loy Krathong.  The range was full, but not as crowded as the week prior and they finally got my A&W Root beer back in stock!

Plans are to go to Bobae Market today and to visit the salon for the end of month receipts.  Bobae has been the only place I've been able to find some production wicking polo shirts.  At times, the export shops offer great deals on one or two shirts, but this one shop in Bobae sells the Cool Plus shirts in all sizes and colors which we need for the resort.  Plan on picking up a few for the trip to California as well as they feel just a good as cotton without the moisture loading issues.

Not so much time for blogging as Marina is definitely starting her terrible twos, but its not a really bad case of the twos.  She is such a joy to be with and her innocent tribulation of trying to be herself at this age is sometimes so very funny.  Wouldn't trade it for anything else as every kid goes through this stage.   I will miss her terribly when I go to California next week.

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