Saturday, October 31, 2015

48 hours

The last couple of days in the mango have been a bit crazy, but its always like that for me.  Managed to deliver packages to Bangkok buddy, who was headed off to Vietnam, and also Barnaby to give him his stuff.  In the interim, had one doctor's appointment and another one rescheduled to today (doctor rescheduled due to emergency surgery).

Some of B's family are in town and I'm playing a bit of a host role, taking them out to eat, etc.  In all, things should be getting better as B heads up for the country today and I will follow in a couple of days.  Plans are to see if I can schedule my hernia surgery for the week of November 7th.  That will give me time to go up to the resort and get back comfortably.  I don't expect to be out too long as the surgery is supposed to be very straight forward and the recovery time short.

Have to pay my auto insurance and get a new policy.  Vanna's registration is due to expire in a couple of weeks also.  

Aircon unit still down and haven't had time to call anyone yet so we are living off the aircon from only one room and using a couple of fans.  Good thing its not the hot season so things are still manageable.  Will try to do it next week.

More tomorrow after I have had a chance to come up for some air......

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Just woke up...

Was a lot more tired than I thought today.  After not being able to fall asleep early this morning after arrival, I finally got tired and slept all afternoon.  So aside from being tired, the jet lag hit me big time today.  I like my old schedule of getting in around noon time better.  That schedule allows me to tire myself out on my arrival day before bedtime the first day.  Even then, it will take a week or so before I am fully adjusted.  

Two doctor's appointments for this week and will likely hook up with Bangkok buddy to deliver his goodies tomorrow.  Also plan to see Barnaby this week and if I recall right, Johnny Walker should be in town as well.  Looks like its going to be a busy couple of days.

On the home front, I arrived to find out one of my aircon units is down.  The unit's fan and controls seem to be working, but the air coming out is not cold.  The compressor unit on the outside doesn't seem like its running so I guess a service appointment will be necessary.  Good thing we have two units, and the one in the bedroom is more important and that one is running fine.  

With a great homecoming reunion with Marina, what else can I say but, "its good to be home again!"

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

In Taipei

Almost there.  Chilling out at the gate for 11:40 pm flight...arrive BKK  2:30am.....yuck.

Uneventful so far and nothing worth posting.  Just another long and boring ride home.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Today is the day

In a few hours, the shuttle will be downstairs to transport me to the airport for the big jump over to the other bookend.  In retrospect, it has been a good trip.  Six weeks to take care of some business, celebrate my sons birthdays, and do some shopping.  I even had a chance to go to Disneyland!   The weather was great as it was sunny, clear, and even hot for most of my stay.

Packing is done except for my toiletries and my remaining chores are to clean up the condo and cover my car before noon.  Did manage to get my bags closed up yesterday after a bit of repacking.  Now they looked very stuffed...555

Does your posterior end hurt when you ride over to the land of smiles?  Mine does if the seats are worn or old.  My tailbone will hurt and cause me to have to stand a bit near the end of the trip.  I will be trying out a new cushion for this trip.  Its called a Conformax Airmax "on the go" cushion.  Its gel impregnated and designed for long periods of sitting without 'hot spots' that make you sore.  Most expensive cushion I've ever purchased (got it cheaper on eBay), but around 11 hours into the flight, sometimes I think it worth any price to relieve the discomfort.  One word of advice...this cushion is heavy and that should be a consideration if you have limits on the weight of your hand carry.

Anyway, that's it for now.  Maybe some more from the EVA lounge at SFO.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Packing my bags....

With just a day left before returning home, I have plans to pack today so that I can have Monday morning free for any last minute surprises.  Needless to say, my bags are very full and a bit heavy but I hope my Gold card status will allow me the extra weight without having to pay extra.  Instead of clothes, I am packing items that I can't get in the land of smiles or are very expensive to buy there.  

I am so full that I had to leave out some goodies for friends.  Sorry Barnaby, you don't get your soup on this trip.  Also no Spam for Bangkok buddy either....555

Got a bit of surprise call this morning.  Marina, with a tiny bit of help, called me herself using Line.   I answered my phone half asleep and there was Marina with half her facing showing and trying to talk to me...555.  B was driving and gave the phone to Marina to play with - so she decided to call.  She is only 2 1/2 and too smart for her pants.  Technology and kids have advanced so far in the last few years.  I couldn't image video calls from a mobile phone from half way around the world a decade ago, let alone being done by a 2 1/2  year old kid.  Can't wait to get home though as things are getting crazy in Kalifornia.

Had a great dinner at Broadway Prime last night.  It was extremely crowded and by 7PM people were outside the door.  The meat was superb as usual and yesterday the Yorkshire pudding was exceptional.  Maybe it was because we were early and got served before the place got packed.

Anyway, off for some chores today and a good night's sleep.

That is it for now...1 more day...yeah!

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Unlimited Everything

I signed up yesterday for Amazon's unlimited everything cloud storage.  While I already have a Google drive subscription for 1TB that cost me $120 per year, the new plan from Amazon is only $60 annually, with unlimited storage.  If this works out, I will be either moving over my files or run them both for a while until I get a good feel of how I can use them. They also have a free unlimited photo plan for prime members, but I wanted the flexibility to store anything I wanted for just a few dollars more.

I like to sign up for unlimited plans because eventually, there is a chance that they will get grandfathered into any future price increases.  For example, I signed up for an unlimited AT&T data plan for my mobile phone here in California when smartphones first came out.  That has saved me a ton of money over the years as all the plans now are based on usage tiers and video streaming of movies can chew up your monthly allotment very quickly. Hopefully, Amazon will do the same when they realize that the can't make any money with this service.

But Amazon is an amazing company, still losing money until last year despite being the large online retailer on the planet.  Their business model is dependent on low cost and growth and damn the profits (at least for now).  But their web services business is their fastest growth segment with the largest profit margins so they should be around for a while.  Its important to select companies that are going to survive any downturns in the economy and financial bubble as all your personal data will be sitting up there in that big cloud in the sky.

Cloud storage is a wonderful way to have access to all your files anywhere.  I use it to keep files I might need at the resort, my condo in the mango, or here in Kalifornia.  No longer have to carry thumb drives around (unless I want to), and having access to the files on my portable devices anywhere I go is the ultimate in mobility computing.  Its also a good place to put your system backups in addition to your local storage in the event you need

This is not a paid blog posting...just something that I thought might be of interest to readers of this blog that use Amazon and have an active account.

Just four more days.......

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Visiting the Pumpkin Patches

Had a chance to visit some pumpkin patches in the area a few days ago.  The bay area has some great weather for growing pumpkins and each year around this time, there are farms that go all out in creating a pumpkin patch destination.  Hay rides, pony rides, corn mazes, scarecrows, and birthday parties are some of the usual activities at these farms along with pumpkin sales.  Lots of families make the trek over for their annual pictures in the pumpkin patch with the kids...until they get too old and bored of the venue.

Most of these are located along the coast near Half Moon Bay and an easy drive from anywhere in the Bay Area.  I am sure there are also plenty of these patches in the Central and Sacramento valleys as well - anywhere where there is plenty of space.  When there is plenty of water, many of the pumpkins are locally grown because the weather is ideal here.  In fact, there is usually a competition and weigh off for the world's largest pumpkin every year at one of the local festivals.

This year, the drought forced many places to bring in pumpkins from outside the area.  That severely impacted the cost as can be seen in the photo below.  The big pumpkins were selling for $40 apiece where as in the past, they were only around $20.

But the trip over was not to buy pumpkins, but to get away from the heat and to get some pictures of the fields.  Everything is staged, but still it is still a great atmosphere for kids who really didn't care if it was real or not.  I also wanted to get some pictures to send back to Marina.

I will be back in the big mango for Halloween.  Its mostly an adult holiday there with lots of parties at clubs and places like Khaosan Road will go a bit wild.  Don't know if they celebrate 'trick or treat ' for kids like they do here, but it will be interesting to see if there are any pumpkins available and how much they cost.  Maybe a project for the farm next year?   I guess I will have to decide on Halloween day if anything is worth going to...but it will be a Saturday night!

Six more days.....can't wait.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

One week left...

Just 8 days left before I board that big silver bird back home.  Can't believe how fast and slow it has been on this trip over.  Its fast in that I have little time left to finish my chores and it feels so slow when I miss being with my daughter when we talk via our video calls.   I still have a 70 foot pine tree that needs to be cut down next week and some more shopping to do.  Also my youngest son's 35th birthday is next weekend and the plan is to take him to a prime rib restaurant.  Prime rib is still his favorite after all these years.

Its too bad that they don't have too many modestly priced prime rib restaurants in the big mango...especially the ones that serve USDA prime grade meats and Yorkshire pudding.  I am thinking of going to Broadway Prime Rib in Burlingame.  Its not a fancy, overpriced place, but their meats are great and the staff is friendly.  Been going there for years after giving up on House of Prime Rib in the city due to overbooking and mediocre service.  The place is not cheap, but its not overpriced either for what you get.

It looks like I will need a new car when I come back to Kalifornia next time.  My old trusty CRV is showing signs of her age.  The A/C failed a week ago and the cost to repair it is worth more than the value of the car.  Just yesterday, the catalytic converter light came on.  That's another $400+ job to fix in order to pass the next smog inspection.  I think after 211,000 miles, and 15 years, it has hit the end of its product life or cost to repair value.  Might even consider leasing a car as I spend so little of my time here anyway...

Lastly, I bought a new bag for my trip over.  I don't have a need for my long golf bag this time as there are no kites or golf items to bring.  Decided on the Eagle Creek "no matter what" rolling duffle.  I liked the size, the wheels, and its construction.  Have had Eagle Creek luggage for years and have yet to be disappointed.  Had a couple of items replaced under their warranty so they do live up to their claims.  

Eight more days...hope the world stays intact for that much longer.  We seem to be almost past the October doom and gloom predictions so far.  But next month is another battle for US funding and who knows what that outcome and fallout will be.  

Lastly, Barnaby sent me a link to a very interesting 9/11 video.  Worth watching and might even open up some eyes on a very tragic incident.  Link here:

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Went to the archery range today

We've been having a bit of a heat spell here in the Bay Area.  Seems like the Indian Summer is still going strong and in mid October, we are still getting temperatures in the 90s.  Great earthquake weather because I remembered it being unusually warm when we had the 1989 quake (it was on October 17th, 1989) and just yesterday, there were a swarm of quakes near the San Ramon area.

If we get the big one in the next few days, at least it was first predicted and published on this blog for the world to see...555

Anyway, today's post is a recurve bow review.  I don't normally do equipment reviews on this blog because its about living in Thailand and California, but recently I've taken up the sport of archery which I enjoy on both bookends.  Another reason is that this particular bow is soon to be unavailable new and my belief is that someday it will be a classic.


The PSE Ghost recurve is a traditional bow with a WOOD riser and ILF fittings.  The ILF (International Limb Fitting) system allows one to use limbs from other manufacturers to mix and match configurations to one's preferences.  This bow was released back in the 2010-2013 time period under a couple of names.  It was called the Greatree X-cursion before PSE took over the US distribution and renamed it the "Chaos" before it became the  Ghost.  The bow was made in Korea by Kaya Archery but is no longer in production.  Apparently, Kaya now only makes high end metal and carbon bows except their famous horsebow.

arrows not included

At one time, this bow sold for $450 USD but it can now be had brand new on eBay for $250. I think once the old dealer stock is gone that will be it.

Initial inspection:  The bow looks great.  It has a very solid wood riser made of Ebony and Senna Siamea hardwoods.  Mine was very nicely finished except on one of the edges near the limb pockets where some edge nicks were visible.  A bit of sandpaper and a bit of finish will make it perfect again. Also there was a tiny blemish near the tip of the limb, but its not noticeable unless one looks for it. Not great quality control for a $450 bow, but materials and build is much better than average at $250.

On the range:  This is where I was amazed.  This bow is among the fastest that I have shot at my draw weight.  The speed of the bow is on par with my Buffalo and Tradtech, due in part, I believe,  to the Ghost's maple/composite limbs.  For me, speed means accuracy and after shooting it a bit today, I would rank it as one of my most accurate recurve bows, right next to the more expensive Buffalo.  Its smooth on the draw and with my standard puff string silencers and with a bit of velcro near the tips, it was nearly silent.  There was no stacking (or binding) at my 28 inch draw length.

At 30 yards, my shots were nearly flat and grouped nicely.  There was a bit of drop off at 35 yards, but much less than my other bows which used the same arrows.  At 20 yards, it was dead nuts on, with a smaller than baseball size groupings.  Wow...

Brass limb pockets can be adjusted via hex screws on side of riser
for perfect alignment of the limbs
Overall:  I was impressed with this bow.  For a bit more than a Samick Sage (which I also own), this bow is one that can be used by beginners on up.  It can be your first and only traditional bow.  The ILF pockets allow using weaker limbs until you are ready to upgrade and the quality and feel is right up there with the other mid range take down bows. I especially like the warm feel of a wooden riser with the option to upgrade limbs.   The performance for the current market price is fabulous.   I would buy it again in a heartbeat....especially since there is such a limited supply of them left.

That's it for today.  This bow or maybe a twin of it is coming with me to the land of smiles.  Its too great to leave behind in Kalifornia.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Columbus day.....

Columbus did not discover America.

He never even set foot here.  Here are the facts.  So if he did not discover America, why do we have a holiday for him?...Who cares, its another day off from work for lots of people.

So your schools and teachers lied.  Not the first nor the last time either.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

We need another Bobby Fischer

The big chess game in the middle east is not going well for the US.  While the Russians are playing chess, the US seems to be playing checkers or dominoes.  The Russian version of Dessert Storm has in just a week, put the opponents of Syrian government on the run and effectively putting an end to the regime change plans of US and Western governments.  

Unfortunately, its not over yet but the signs are clear.  There is a new bully in the middle east and he is hungry and mean.  Every move or counter move has already be calculated and ultimately,  the end game is going to be a change in the dessert school yard.  Its going to mean an end to cheap oil, and a shift to a world without petrodollars.  The middle east has always been about oil and money and this conflict is no different.

This time, the Russians know that we are weak financially and like how we bankrupted them with the race towards a fictious 'Star Wars' defense, they know we can't sustain another extended conflict in the middle east.  Especially, if China begins to challenge their dominance in the South China Sea.  Oh, did I mention that we are going to run out of cash again before the end of the year unless we are allowed to borrow some more again?  

All that aside, its two weeks before I get home and away from this madness for a while.  In the meantime, I am busy ordering things online and buying everything I need to bring back.  Once back in the mango, I have to schedule a procedure to fix a small hernia which I developed about a year ago.  Its very minor, doesn't impact my daily activities,  and doesn't even show, but I can feel it at times and feel its better to get it fixed before it gets worse.  Decided to get it done in the LOS, even if its not covered by my medicare insurance.  Might be able to recover some of the expense because of the travel provision of my current Humana plan.  Won't know until I make the claim.  

Finally, regarding Bobby Fischer.  Poor guy was a genius and most likely the best chess player the world has ever known.  But he got on the wrong side of the powers that be...making Anti-Semitic comments and getting on the wrong side of the US government.  Perhaps he was one of the first to figure out how things in the world really work -  check who was the Sec of State during this time period.  Unfortunately he was ahead of his time as he would be like any other celebrity figure in today's world.   Back then, they stripped him of his passport so he got jailed in Japan, sent the IRS after him,  and eventually took everything from him.  He died in Iceland, in torrid condition and alone.  I want to see the new movie.

If you want a free movie regarding Bobby Fischer, here is a link to a very good HBO movie, entitled Bobby Fischer against the World that was done a few years back.  It received a 5 star rating from many critics.
Click on image for the link to the full movie

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

HTTPS for blogger users

Worried that someone may be stealing information from you when you visit blogger sites?  Or if you are a blogger author, will people be able to steal information and passwords over an unsecured line?

In my case, aside from the possibility of this site being hacked, there is no important info on this blog that would be of interest to anyone.  But, in an effort to be prudent about security, I have implemented the new google HTTPS feature for this blog.

That means that you can access this blog via a https://  connection in addition to a http://  connection.  
For the average blog reader, there is no need to use this feature except if you want to hide the contents that you see when you are visiting this site.  I don't put anything controversial or illegal on this site, so no need to worry if you don't use this feature.   For myself as a blog author, it will help to make my site safter from being hijacked or hacked and illegal stuff posted that might land me in the Bangkok Max Security Hilton.  

Just an FYI post and if you experience any problems with access, just contact me.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Went to a Movie Last Night

Went to a movie last night.  "The Martian" premiered this weekend.  Its a science fiction yarn about an astronaut stranded on Mars after a storm and his struggle to survive and return home by using his wits and scientific knowledge.  Pretty decent movie, even with all the scientific flaws in the movie, but this is Hollywood right?  What does hit home is how far things are away from planet earth.  It would still take the crew over a year to get back under a normal mission schedule.   And that is for Mars, our closest planet.   So the possibility of travel to other planets on other solar systems seems impractical with our current technology as no one could live long enough to every reach their destination and return.  But it is Hollywood fiction and the movies, and a good box office weekend for Twentieth Century Fox.

But the real movie I want to see, but will not pay the exorbitant video on demand price they want, is "The Forecaster".  This movie is/was banned from screening in the USA, but is currently available in Europe and on the internet.  Never heard of a movie that is banned in America, the country with the most liberal free speech and expression laws in the world?  Its not even Porn, beheading, or other stuff normally censored by reviewers and the government.  Even the main stream media is sidestepping this because its too controversial.   This is a movie about a man who was jailed over a computer model that predicted the economic outcome of certain events.  The model was so accurate that the FBI, CIA, and others demanded his source code and after refusing, was jailed for nearly ten years.  This is documentary about Martin Armstrong, who 99% of the public doesn't know even existed due to the white washing of his achievement and making him a criminal.  Shrouded in controversy, Martin Armstrong is an interesting character who has a wide following among the conspiracy crowd.  

Doesn't this second movie sound much more interesting than the first?

Oh, by the way, Armstrong and others predict that this next week is going to be the start of the next big collapse.  I hope I am not stuck here in Kalifornia and have to use my wits and knowledge to escape back home.  There are still a couple of weeks left on this side of the bookend.

We don't have to wait very long to find out.  

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Three Weeks to go...

Can't believe that I have used up nearly 1/2 of my time here in Kalifornia already.  Still have a number to things to do, including cutting down a big tree at the cabin and filing some important documents.  But before I know it, it will be a full time scramble to make sure I have everything packed and ordered before my return to the Land of Smiles.

I broke down today and ordered ANOTHER bow.  I've been looking around for a longbow for a while and finally decided that if I was to get one on this trip, I had to order soon.  After some research, I decided on a Kustom King Black Forrest longbow.  The other bow that I considered was the Bear Montana longbow.  Both are at the same price point, a tad over $300 or entry level prices, and both are rated excellent by the reviews.  What made me decide on the KK was that the bow is made by Bodnik Bows of Germany and offers a 30 year warranty.   Kind of amazing if you think about it, as this bow will be guaranteed until 2046...long after I am gone and pushing up flowers...5555.  I also purchased a take down bow from Bodnik about 6 months ago and was exceptionally pleased with their build quality so it was an easy choice.

Why a longbow?  For me, a longbow is as primitive as one can reasonably go without having to cut wood and building your own bow from branches of a tree.  There are no sights, no stabilizers, and  no gimmicks to help you.  Its truly a test of you skill and the design of the bow - instinctive zen shooting at its finest.  Its not for everyone and maybe I won't even shoot it very well or that much, but on those days when I am up for a challenge...its going to be there.

Purchased the 45lb, 64 inch version.  Not really 'long' for a longbow, but what matters is the design, which is a bit of a hybrid between a recurve and pure longbow.

Talk with B and Marina everyday and it appears that its raining a lot in the land of smiles. Miss them both very much.  Our ponds at the resort are getting full and more water is on its way the next couple of days.  The water level is rising and we hoping for a bit of flooding so that we can clear out some of the residue and salt from the pond evacuation.    Thailand desperately needs more rain so let the storms rage on.  

Three weeks...can't wait to get home.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

We survived September but......

September was supposed to be the month of doom and gloom, but we survived and are now starting the month of October.  Is it time to relax and put to shame all those naysayers who said the world as we know it was going to change big time last month?  The problem with predicting specific dates and events is that life is not predictable.  Even things like sunrise tomorrow, which can normally be predicted with regularity is subject to error - how?  What if its raining and you can't see the sun - or what if you had to travel some distance last night and are now located in a different spot on the planet?  As you see, there is no certainty or precision in many things we take for granted.

Thus to predict the social and economic demise of ourselves and tie very specific dates is fraught with error and change from many external factors.  The inevitable will happen, but the exact time and circumstances are not always so clear.  What has been clear is that trillions of dollars of wealth evaporated in September due to market corrections throughout the planet.  US housing fell in value and resale volume.  Commodity prices continue to fall - watch Glencore very very closely.  Shipping and transports are down.  People were laid off at big corporations like HP.  And another escalation has started in the middle east with Russia joining the fray.  Many feel that we are really close to the edge and it can happen any day.

The other view, which I hold, is that we are already in the crash, albeit moving slowly.  Remember when the Titanic hit the iceberg and the crew and passengers all knew it was going to sink?  The ship did not go down immediately because of its size (It took 2 hours and 40 minutes).  It sank slowly first and then quickly near the end when it broke in half, but eventually it sank to the bottom where it remains today.  In the meantime, the band was playing on deck and the poor second/third class passengers were locked up below.  Like the Titanic, the economies of the world are huge and it will take some time for them to be swallowed by the crisis.  It will happen but in an almost slow motion type of way, but it is accelerating and will eventually sink. 

Save the rich and influential first, the others can go down with the ship.  That is how I see the situation today...we are sinking, but the as for the exact moment - only time will tell.  There is still time to get off, but those denying that the ship is sinking will likely go down with the ship, but that is their choice and nothing anyone can say will make them change.

For the others, put on your life jacket and get out your rubber raft.  You might need it soon.  You see, the exact time and date "comes like a thief in the night"....

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