Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Attended a Store Opening Last Night

Went to a store opening last night.  A warehouse/grocery chain type of store that is going to be our anchor tenant.  Its a big deal for me and the people of the neighborhood because this project has been almost two years in the making.  When a major national chain did not renew their lease two years ago, my brother and I were left with a 60 year old building in a declining neighborhood.  Although we had owned the property for over twenty five years, we had little control over its care.  The tenant had neglected the building because they were doing badly and knowing that they would be leaving soon.  The parking lot had become a truck stop and the area a magnet for the homeless.   Being too big for regional companies and too small and old for the new big box chains, we where stuck on having to redo the project into something more useful.

That would have been a major project requiring lots of capital and expertise that I did not have.  I could have gotten loans and muddled my way through the effort but an opportune meeting with a developer happened by chance.  After a frustrating meeting with city officials one day, the RE Agent and I ran into a developer friend at a lunch stop.  His company was looking for projects and we told him our issues.  Anyway, to make a long story short, we found that we had a perfect match and the rest is joint venture history.

The old vacant building became an eyesore for everyone
Photo of same building from a couple of weeks ago
Working with the city, the police, and a top notch developer partner, the property is now getting a new lease on life.  This also represents a transition for the neighborhood and new jobs in a tough economy.  

So with yesterday's opening, it represented a major milestone for the community, the developer and myself.  From a major eyesore and  worry to something that is a source of pride for everyone in the old neighborhood.

Much needed jobs for the neighborhood
 The store is really nicely positioned in the area and is beautiful inside and out.  Will try to get some more photos later this week when I revisit  Yesterday, it was a VIP only party only and no customers were allowed in to do any shopping.

Next up is a major fitness chain...but that won't happen until I get back next trip.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Still one of the best bargains around

Lunch at Costco.  $2.83 including tax.  Can't find pizza at home like this.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Back in the Bay Area

After a couple of days in the Southland, it was back to the bay area on Friday.  Had a great road trip with a business meeting and a visit to Disneyland.  It was hot in SoCal last week, with temperatures in the 90s, so it was a bit like the land of smiles.  One thing that hasn't changed in the area was the traffic.  Trying to get around during rush hour was crazy...too many cars on the freeway.   Good thing I remembered the area, having worked there many years ago so I could take some alternate routes to my meeting.

New Cars Land at California Adventures

Radiator Springs racers

Disney continues to amaze me.  Many of the rides have been updated and improved.  Bought the park hopper pass which allowed me to go to both parks and enjoy the best of each.  The only way to go if you have limited time.  Got there early and went to Cars Land to get a Fast Pass for Radiator Springs Racers, their newest ride.  Then went over to Disneyland and enjoyed the old favorites like Star Tours (updated), Space Mountain, Indiana Jones (updated), Haunted Mansion (Updated for Halloween and Xmas), etc.  Pirates of the Caribbean was closed for refurbishing.  

Lastly, the parade and fireworks was spectacular, capping a spectacular day and making it worth every single penny of admission.  At one point in the show, during the "Frozen" segment, they created artificial snow on Main Street even though it was about 85F at the time. (see the above from youtube)  I only regretted that I didn't have B and Marina with me to enjoy the park as its really something for adults to enjoy WITH kids....555

Just got a call from Bangkok buddy wondering if I was still alive.  I have been lax in posting the last few days, taking a bit of time to recover from my trip and attending a couple of personal functions this weekend.  Have a few things to do this week also, including a birthday dinner with my oldest son this weekend.  

With just a few more weeks to go, it won't be long before I get back home.  Miss the land of smiles a lot, and more especially, Marina.  I do a video call with her everyday, but its just not the same as being there.  

More later in the week.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Driving down to Southern Cal today....

Leaving in about an hour for Southern California for a business meeting tomorrow.  While there, I think I am going to visit the Magic Kingdom since I haven't been there in a while.  Want to pick up some 'Frozen' stuff for Marina, etc...(gotta have an excuse right?).  Haven't been to the 'real' magic kingdom for a while now.  Last visit was to the Hong Kong Disneyland, which was kind of a 'mini' version of the real thing.

Also want to check out LA if I have some time see some of the sights.  All depends on how much energy I have after the drive down.

Driving back on Friday.  Maybe more later in the week, depending on time and schedule.

Monday, September 21, 2015

NO, I don't

Posted without comment, except are you ready????????

I know someone else with 30 days of food stored...555

Saturday, September 19, 2015

A week in Kalifornia

Can't believe its been a whole week here in Kalifornia.  Just started feeling better from the jet lag about a day or so ago as I was sleeping at odd times during the day and night - never really getting anything close to continuous sleep for more than a couple of hours.  Last two night were better and hopefully this weekend will make me normal again.

Busy week anyway as I had a chance to visit our joint venture project, shop for supplies at costco, and even had a chance to go to the local archery range.  

The JV project is going extremely well, with the first store opening the 30th of this month.  Another will open before Christmas and the others will wait until Jan/Feb 2016.  Our developer partner is extremely experienced in this business and seldom misses a delivery date for turnover of their stores.  Since they are supplying the capital for this project, they have a special interest to get things done in time so they can recover their investment.  Got invited to go to the VIP opening party on the 29th to rub elbows with city officials, corporate execs, etc. - NOT.  I think I will just lay low and enjoy the food and music and stay in the background...555  Not a social type, besides I don't want to be called if something doesn't work, etc...

Had a lot of fun at the archery range this week.  Shot my new Martin Hunter bow and tried to tune it up with my arrows.  Its a one piece bow so its unlikely that I will take it back with me to the land of smiles as it is too long to check in as baggage.  Also broke down and ordered my first custom bow.  It was a hard decision with so many great custom bow companies here in the US (BTW, where the best bows in the world are made).  Would it be a Bob Lee, or Black Widow, or ???   

Finally decided on getting an Elite VL series take down bow from Blacktail bows.  I wanted something special and they are one of the best around.  Didn't order anything close to the top of the line, but something built just for me with exotic woods. Unfortunately there is a six to nine month waiting list for your bow to be built, but its still better than the 15 months that I had to wait for my SVI Infinity.  

Have a couple of personal functions to attend this weekend and a trip planned for SoCal next week.  Looks like the six weeks I have planned here will be just enough time to accomplish my chores.  But I miss my daughter and the land of smiles and would go back tomorrow if I could.  In the meantime, its just video chat and keeping my nose to the grindstone.  Once everything is done, life will be a lot easier - but that is what I said when I retired...555

Monday, September 14, 2015

First Weekend in California

Its Sunday night here in Kalifornia.  The first weekend here was pretty uneventful.  Mostly trying to get over jet lag and getting whatever sleep I can get.  With Friday being the 11th of September, there was a lot of TV coverage and ceremonies commemorating that horrible event.  Still a matter of  controversy after all these years, its a fact that many Americans died on that day whatever the cause.  One American is too many, and the aftermath of that day resulted in many more Americans dying at home and in far away lands.  History is cruel, but only reflects the deeds of man's inhumanity to others.  

Prices continue to surprise me as I went out for supplies - especially food.  A half filled cart cost me over $50 (1,500 baht) and I'm not even close to getting all that I needed.  I don't see how those of modest means can make their ends meet unless they are working three jobs and/or getting some kind of government assistance.  

Also notice a shortage on egg whites.  Seems like an egg recalls is underway in America.  Anyway, I did find a single carton of egg beaters - had to pay over $7 a carton for it at Target.  When I see these things, I can't help thinking of my Omelet over rice dish with a bowl of Tum Yum Pha for 60 baht back home...  Don't fully appreciate how lucky we are in the LOS until you spend some time (and money here)

On the positive side, gas is under $3 bucks a gallon most everywhere.  Haven't uncovered Valerie yet, but it will be great to drive her around again..especially with the cheap gas prices.

More later in the week.  

Friday, September 11, 2015

Touch down in California

Well I am in Hotel California.  Got in around 8:15 pm, cleared customs and immigration and got my ride to the condo before 10:30 pm.  Smooth trip all around.  Had lots of space on the flight and no one next to me on the long leg between Taipei and San Francisco.  Its either the low season, or the travel industry is starting to feel the impact of the slowing economy.  Many empty seats in elite and business class.

The bay area is having a heat wave so it was around 70F when I got in and now its a toasty 83F in the condo.  Just perfect for me as I will just have to open the windows tonight a bit and feel just like home.   Supposed to cool off tomorrow and next week, but I will  take any kind of weather the bay area never gets too hot or cold here.

Time for a shower and some sleep.  Long trip across from the other side of the planet.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

See you later Mango

At the gate, minutes left.  Miss you already my land of smiles.

Sevenwinds ready for the jump over to the other bookend...out

Last morning in the Mango...for now

Its going to be my last morning in the mango for the next six weeks as I get ready for my jump over to the other bookend....Kalifornia.  Tried to stay in bed as late as possible so that I could sleep next to Marina a bit longer.  Going to miss her a lot as she co-sleeps with us every night and having her snug up at night and seeing her little face in the morning just gives my day that extra boost.

But this trip is essential for a couple of business items and personal obligations.  It will also allow me to get away and stay connected somewhat to the situation back in the USA.  I see my trips to the USA as business trips now as I have mentally shifted my home here to the land of smiles.  It will also be a shopping trip for things I need and want from the states.

Uneventful last day yesterday as it was mostly shopping and chores.  Got Vanna all washed up and cleaned and she will go under the covers this morning.  I always cover Vanna when I travel because there is so much dirt flying around the mango.  Leave a car uncovered for a month and there will be a film of black dust and soot when you get back.  Covering Vanna keeps her looking new, plus I am going to bring back some more Mother's Car Wax on this trip so she can get a new wax job on my return.  Here in Thailand, you can get your car deep cleaned, buffed,  hand waxed and machine polished for around 1800 baht.  Takes three hours and they will also detail your engine in the process.  Car comes out looking showroom brand new.  Normal hand car washes and vacuum of the interior and washing of the mats cost only 120 baht.

Also spent more time at MBK for gifts yesterday.  Still a quiet place - not many tourists yesterday as well. 

So as I write this blog entry, I get to enjoy my last cup of 12 baht coffee from the nice lady at the corner and some barbecued pork sticks (moo bing) and some sticky rice too.  Can't get any of that stuff over in Emeryville - especially a 12 baht cup of coffee.

What awaits is a lot of uncertainty.  Looks like the market dropped AGAIN last night so I assume that all the attempts by the powers that be cannot stop the slide downwards.  I just hope that I am not caught in some crisis and can't make it back to the mango.  In any case, I will definitely give priority to an exit plan if the SHTF as soon as I get to Kalifornia. 

Maybe more later from the airport...flight leaves at 4;20pm.  Love the late departures on Thursday!  Its like getting an extra day.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Couple of days left.

Been busy the last couple of days.  Had a chance to go to the archery range a couple of times and spent a lot of quality time with Marina.  She likes the water so we had a couple of swim outings at the condo pool.  Even invited some of B's cousins to join us as they were in town.  Afterwards, we all went out to eat at the Fish Head Restaurant at Chong nongsi.

Yesterday, I took a few hours to visit MBK to do some shopping.  Bought some little handbags with the Disney movie 'Frozen' characters on them for my grand daughters and an extra one for Marina.  As I was walking around, I noticed that MBK was really quiet.  I haven't seen the mall so devoid of people in a long time.  You could actually see from one end to the other along the isles in the mobile phone section on the 4th floor.   Sales clerks were hungrily out front of their stores waiting to snag people walking by.   Even the guy I buy tendon soup from in the food court told me his sales were hurting due to lack of tourists.  Most shop keepers were complaining about the lack of tourists and business...and this was MBK.

Besides being low season,  I've also noticed drop off in visitors at the reservation.  During last Friday's buffet outing, the streets, shops, and many bars looked empty - almost felt like a Thai holiday - but instead it was labor day weekend and it should have been rocking busy.  Lots of talent around and it looks like very little competition so its a great time to be here in the land of smiles for the single guys that like to party.

One full day left and a few more errands to do before that ride on the big silver bird to California.  If only I could hold back the time.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

EVA Labor Day Sale...booked return tickets

I booked my return flight back to the mango this morning.  EVA has a labor day weekend sale going for San Francisco Area residents.  Link to the promotion here:

See summary chart below if you don't want to follow the link above.  There are restrictions, so check out the details if you are serious.

Ended up booking the Elite promo fare, and then took off even more of the fare with mileage credits.  The only downside is that I have to leave at 5:30pm from SFO and will get into BKK at 2:30AM.  It will be like the old days when I first started coming - getting into the airport at the wee hours of the night.  But back then, all the bars and venues were open late so it was OK.  Get in after midnight, check-in to the hotel, and off to Thermae or a late bar for some unwinding.  But its no longer the case...for either the venues, but more importantly, the body.  Just can't do it anymore like when I was a much younger buck..555

Anyhow, its the last weekend in the mango for a few weeks.  Plan on some shopping and then maybe do some archery tomorrow.  Not too much to pack nowadays, but I do have to bring back the bags so that they can be filled with goodies on the return trip.  Want to spend time with my daughter and B, as I know I'm going to miss them a lot.

Had a chance to meet up with some of the guys yesterday at the Friday night free buffet.  Great send off dinner with roast chicken and mashed potatoes.  Afterwards we wandered over to the lobby and sat for a while.  Discussed a variety of topics, including how to save the world from the evil powers that be...5555.  All kinda pointless for us little pawns in the big chess game of life.  But a relaxing day in the mango, and yes, life is still good here in the land of smiles.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Spend a big part of the day at Bumrungrad

Went back to Bumrungrad for follow-up tests from last week.  Had to wait for labs, X-ray, and complete blood panel before seeing the doctors again.  They gave me some medications last week and wanted to see the outcome.  Ended up changing them again so something milder as the symptoms were gone.  I'm off the blood pressure medication and on a milder statin (Mevalotin) for my cholesterol.  Follow-up again in 2 months when I get back.  Not convinced about the cholesterol being bad, but I do have a fatty liver and it will have to be monitored carefully. 

All in all, due to waits, travel, etc., it took most up of my day and just ended up doing nothing except taking a nap for the evening.  Saving my energy for tomorrow.  Going for a  long 2 hour massage tomorrow and then to the free buffet.  Got to enjoy myself before heading to Kalifornia right?  Only one week left before my trip.

It appears that progress is being made on the bombing case.  A third person was arrested today and it looks like they have begun to put the pieces of the network together from interrogations,  phone records and other forensics found at the scene.  It sure appears that this network of people did the work, but what seems to be missing is the real motive and means behind their efforts. Its not as simple as walking down to the store and buying detonators and dynamite for your bombs.  Also, how quickly they got out of the country, etc., shows that they had some experience and connections. If this was a case of busted human trafficking, some people have been getting bribes to look the other way and where this will ultimately lead?  I think some really powerful people are going to be implicated before its all over. 

Lastly, hang on to your cash.  Or should I say you can't take it out or deposit it without arousing suspicion anyway.  See this story about how a little girl could not even deposit $60 at Chase Bank.   The excuse is money laundering, but its really cash control as the government wants to control your money and access to it like they did in Greece.  

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Back to the Mango this morning.

Waiting for Marina to get ready.  Grandma wants to bathe her and give her breakfast before we drive back to the big mango.  Marina gets to come back in a week or two, but it won't be until next month before I get back up here to the resort.

In the meantime, I've collected water samples for testing in Bangkok.  Have to figure out why my Tilapia fish and plants are dying from the water.  The perch seem to be doing OK, but they have a special ability to breathe with lung like organs if its an oxygen problem.  The comprehensive test in Bangkok will give us the answers I think we need.  I suspect that the recent rains has washed or leeched some of the residual fertilizers, salt,  and any pesticides into the pond since much of this dirt has not been dug up for decades or maybe centuries.  If that is the case, we need a good flushing of the pond water and we need a flood in order to get sufficient water height to fill and then flush the ponds.  

That hopefully will come in the next two months as we enter the meat of the rainy season.  September and October is usually when we get floods in this area.  The water comes up to the edge of the road of the resort, but since we are higher than the road, water flows pass us into the large lake but we become an island for the duration of the flood.

Anyway, more after I get back to the mango.  

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Black September?

Its 9 PM, the first of September here in the land of smiles and I am getting ready to turn in so that I can drive back to the mango tomorrow.  It will be my last night here at the resort until next month and I wanted to make sure I got everything I needed to bring back to either the mango or to Kalifornia.

Many people believe that this is the month that is going to be a watershed in economic history.  Many key events were tied to this month, and so far, one of those events, the stock market has not started out very well - being down today in the Asian Markets.  A quick peek at the futures shows another brutal day ahead for the US Stock Market.

Shipping rates and volumes are down, gas prices are down, and margin calls on some traders went out yesterday.  Expect more turmoil in the markets and more bad news from mainstream companies.  There just isn't enough horsepower in the average consumer citizen to move the economic situation forward.  Too many are in debt, on government assistance, or unemployed.

Anyway, Marina is calling and time for some shut eye.  More tomorrow.

The good news is that they captured another bomber suspect!  

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