Sunday, February 28, 2016

Pleasant weekend in the Mango

So far, its been a very pleasant weekend in the mango.  The weather has cooperated wonderfully by not being excessively hot due to a cold front from China.  Great to be out and about without breaking a sweat and the evenings are cool and pleasant.

Spent yesterday morning doing house chores and the afternoon at the salon.  Aside from getting some grooming done, we had some business to take care of.  A couple of offers to buy the salon  and a proposal to open a second location have come in that I am considering very seriously.  Since we opened the business in 2009, the business has been doing well but our demographics have changed a bit as well as our business.  Where in the past, most of our customers were from Europe, our newer customers are more diverse including a mix of Asian customers.  

Our business has also experienced an increase in demand for massage and facials over hair styling.  We now have three commissioned massage people in addition to our hair stylist.  Part of the success has been the transformation of our Soi into a major hotel and hostel center in the Khaosan Road area.  More later as developments emerge, but I think I may just sell and take the money as a bird in hand is worth two in the bush...right?  Besides its been seven years and I have an itch to do something else and want to give my partner a chance to do well on her own.

Plans today call for a visit to the archery range and then dinner at Oishi Grand!  Haven't been to Oishi Grand for a while because the Oishi at Central Rama 9 was always more conveniently located.  But the Grand is much better in terms of food selection and quality so my mouth is watering just thinking about all that food.

Lastly arrows are still too wobbly in flight for my liking and today's visit to the range will involve testing some different arrows to see if its a spine issue or something else with the bow.  But that's part of the learning experience and fun of a new sport.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Back in the Mango

Got back in the mango yesterday afternoon after a nice leisurely drive back from the resort.  We also made a little stop at one of our favorite places on the way back - Farm Chokchai.  You may be familiar with them as they have many  umm!..milk kiosks at many of the malls around the mango.  Chok Chai farm is their roadside attraction that features farm animals for kids to pet and a number of attractions for the 'older' kids people who always wanted to be cowboys.

Its located about 50km outside of Saraburi on National Highway 2 and is very popular during the weekends.  Recently, they have just completed a huge museum containing their antique cars and other artifacts from their history.  We haven't had a chance to go inside yet, but it seems like a pretty neat attraction.  Anyway, it was ice cream time for us yesterday as both B and Marina were in a mood for something sweet so we made a pit stop at the farm.

Do you believe in deja vu ?  I didn't before but I'm convinced there might be something to all of this as the first time I visited this place, I envisioned two things:  Having ice cream with B at one of the picnic tables before, and having ice cream with my daughter and B here before she was born.  Both have come true and its not because we forced it to just happened.  For both B and I, we felt that we have done this many more times in past lives, like a movie being re-run over and over again.

But strange feelings aside, it was a fun time as Marina got to feed an Elephant, some goats, and some baby cows.  Marina was kind of shy at first but once things got started, she was very excited.  In the above picture, she is looking at the elephant from behind a post, but later is help dad feed a banana to the big elephant.

If  you are wondering about the jackets, it was a cool 73 degrees and windy yesterday.  Here in Thailand, that is jackets and parka time....5555

Anyway, I am entertaining guests for one more day as they get on the plane tonight around midnight. They have to be back at their hotel by 9PM so the plan is to take them shopping around the Ratchadaprop area - hit the major shopping centers and then have dinner down there.  If they get done early, I might drop by the lobby to visit the guys....but otherwise, life is grand in the land of smiles.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Cool spell in the Northeast of Thailand

The next four days are supposed to bring colder weather here in the Northeast, but for me, the weather has been really ideal.  Its a very pleasant 78F outside right now and its already 11AM and it won't go too much higher today because we have a slight overcast.  These kinds of days are hard to come by this time of year and tonight, it will be likely that the locals will be in parkas and huddled around fires to keep warm.  I will be in shorts and might throw on a long sleeved shirt if it drops below 70F.

Spent yesterday just doing landscaping work around the resort.  I mostly watched as B's father and nephew did the hard stuff like climbing trees and and stuff.  The plants just seem like they are on steroids up in this area.  It must be the sunshine and climate that is so conductive to growth because our resort has changed from bare ground to lush growth in just over 3 years.

In these two photos, the Resort center with palm trees just planted 3 years ago and photo of from the same perspective recently.

In the next two photos, the bungalows from three years ago and another shot from recently.

Most of the trees are still young and growing and my hope is that one day our resort will be jungle-like with lots of shade in the hottest time of the year and a place where we can attract lots of birds and natural animals that are native to this area.

Some more work is in order for today, but the plan is to go back to the Mango tomorrow so that I can meet up with my friends before they leave the land of smiles.  According to their schedule, they are in Pattaya and due to be back for a dinner cruise tomorrow night.

Going to go outside and enjoy the weather some more.....555

Monday, February 22, 2016

The Fish and Pond photos

Have some time tonight after dinner to post the pictures of the pond and fish from this afternoon. The pictures are fish from the experimental batch we planted in August when the water was of questionable quality and the pond water level was very low. 

One throw of the net in the smallest pond yields both Tilapia and climbing perch

We bought  batches of 1000 fish for 1/2 baht to 1 baht each.  The tilapia being the cheaper species.  They have pretty much lived off pond water, duckweed, and an occasional feed and the results are not too bad.  In the photo below, see the fish next to each other and relative to my shoe (size 10.5).  The perch are almost the color of the earth so its harder to see.

Avg size Tilapia now after 5 1/2 months - another month or two before harvesting
I am thinking that even with the bad water during the initial pond dig, we still got about a 20-25% survival rate for the Tilapia and more than 60% on the perch.  That's not too bad for a 1500 baht investment.  Yield of over 1,000 lbs of fish.  The climbing perch are three times more valuable in terms of sales than Tilapia.

The medium pond is now raising 2500 fish.  The large pond has 5000 fish.

Just add some food and drink and fun time for all...
It is also providing a source of entertainment for the kids and B's father as they try their luck with rod and reel too.  A nice little hut by the water, some food and drink, and one can easily waste the afternoon away....5555

Anyway, more later as its good to be back at the resort.  By the way, the weather is perfect!  Not hot and humid like the mango and cools to the 70s at night.  Feels like I'm in the Islands again.  

Posting from the resort

Making this post from the resort after a busy weekend.  Left the mango this morning at around 8:30 AM, and arrived around 12:45 PM, so we made pretty good time as its a holiday and the traffic was very light leaving Bangkok.

The Breeze Restaurant at State Tower
I was busy all weekend as my guests took up my time on Saturday and yesterday I took a little trip to the archery range to check out  and tune my new bows.  Saturday activities went off well with a final sendoff  drink at the Sky Bar and a picture session at the beautiful ramp overlooking The Breeze restaurant.  They will be back one more time on Friday before leaving that night.  I think I will take them to MBK and Siam Paragon for any last minute shopping and some dinner before they get on the plane at midnight.  They will have lots of great memories and pictures and I am pretty sure they will come back for a longer stay.

Met up with Bangkok buddy yesterday at the archery range and we shot about 2 hours.  It was good to be out shooting arrows again, especially in shorts.  For the most part, I think my bows are almost there in terms of being tuned.  It takes a while for a new bow to be broken in, especially with string stretch, nocking point adjustments, and getting the brace height correct.  Lots of it is trial and error and after two hours, things seemed to have stabilized but it will be different again next time.

 Lastly, just checked out the fish in the ponds.  While I was away, B's father got the fish from the government center and started them in the ponds.  Also got a surprise as he also netted some of the fish installed from the trial we ran when we were just finishing the pond and it was filling with water.  Many of the initial batch of fish (about 1 thousand) didn't make it, but those that did are now pretty big.  I will post some pictures later or tomorrow morning, but he has a sweet set-up where we can go fishing for fun as we are raising the crop for harvest.  

More tomorrow.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Busy Day...

Had a very busy day yesterday.  

Ending up meeting with Barnaby around lunch time to deliver his goodies.  But it took me an hour each way and a big chunk of the day was used up.  Then I had to run off to meet some friends visiting Thailand for the first time.  They are part of a tour and had the evening free and Saturday available before going off to Kanchanaburi, Ayuttaya, etc.  Tried to take them to Asiatique after dinner, but they were so pooped out after a late flight the day before and the early city tour that we settled on a quick visit to Terminal 21 and Central World and a  two hour foot massage instead.

That was definitely a hit as all of them were sound asleep about 10 minutes into the massage...555  Ended up sending them back to their hotel by Taxi so that they could get some rest.

Planning on taking them to the Grand Palace later today and then another try at Asiatique.  They have plans to visit the weekend market this morning for a few hours and I will meet them afterwards at their hotel.

Time permitting, we will have a drink at the Sky Bar at State Tower before sending them off on the rest of their tour.  They will be back one more day next week before flying back to the states.  

We've decided to postpone our trip upcountry until Monday to give us one extra day in the mango.  Its been so hectic that I haven't even stocked the frig with food or drinks yet.  But that's how things are here...busy, busy, busy.

More later or tomorrow.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Greetings from the Mango

Sorry for the late post, but my post from the Taipei airport did not get uploaded and I was too tired to do any kind of posting when I arrived yesterday.  Ended up sleeping until B and Marina woke me up around dinner time.  After some food, I went back to sleep some more and then was wide awake at 4AM so that is how my day has been so far.

I can't describe how great it is to be home and sleeping in my bed.  Its as if a big weight was lifted from me when I got here and things just seem like they are perfect again.  Even though, one of the aircon units is acting up again like last time, I didn't even mind.  The aircon in the bedroom is working so it was bearable. Waking up in the mango and watching Marina wake up with a big smile on her face was priceless this morning. 

Anyway, today's plans is to stock up on supplies and see if I can unpack and deliver some of the goodies from the states.  Some friends are dropping by the mango for a couple of days this week and I will be playing tour guide.  Then afterwards, a trip up country is planned until the middle of next week.  

This morning, the walk to the market and 7Eleven was really refreshing.  The warm air and city noise was like a security blanket around me and the smell of food from the street vendors was heavenly.  After all, this is a slice of paradise and a place called home.  Yep no place like home.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Quick stop in Taipei

The SFO segment took a while today so the layover is only about 90 mins.   Grabbing a quick bite at the lounge and then some quick shopping.   ETA for  BKK is around noon.

Food not too good today.   My steak on board was so salty I couldn't eat it.   Going to complain for sure.

More from the mango later.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

At the airport

Sitting at the Eva lounge  in SFO.   Everything on schedule so chilling out and checking emails and keeping up with the news.

More from Taipei..

Monday, February 15, 2016

Last Day...

It what seems like, in the words of Princess Anna of Arendelle, "For the first time in forever", I am finally getting ready to jump back over to the other bookend.  Still haven't finished packing as the kites I was promised on Saturday didn't arrive and there are some toilet accessories and last minute stuff that still needs packing that always makes up the mad dash to the airport.  I am hoping that the delivery in just delayed so there is still a chance that it might arrive today for me to include it on this trip.

Didn't realize when I made this booking months ago that it was President's day weekend.  It didn't seem to impact the booking and booking price significantly as I think Chinese New Year took the bulk of the traffic on Asian Airlines and this week was significantly slower.

My bags are once again full and this time I have one less bag to use because I am bringing a tube with my longbows inside.  This is a special travel tube for wooden bows that will protect them from damage.  EVA allows the transport of sporting equipment so I will be using this tube to bring back the one piece bows that I ordered in the USA.  The case cost is offset by the savings in price by purchasing my bows in California.  Besides, the best custom bow makers are currently located in the USA and shipping to Thailand is extremely expensive so this is my archery equipment supply chain.

WORLD WAR III ????????

I'm very glad to be traveling today as I fear significant upheaval in the world is forthcoming.  With the Saudis and Turkey about to invade Syria and a likely reactive response by Russia, Iran, and Syria, the likelihood that this will draw everyone into the fight is very high right now.  Little did the puppet masters know when they started the 'regime changes' in the Clinton/Bush eras that it would come to this.  

*** Update:  According to news stories, Turkey has entered Syria with ground troops***  source here. 

Hundreds of thousands of troops, over 20,000 tanks, and other pieces of military hardware are being deployed on the borders.  All it takes is a spark and the powder keg we know as the middle east will blow up.  Some expect the sands will be glowing after tactical nuclear weapons are used, making the area a wasteland for generations to come.  See source here;

But perhaps that was the plan all long.  When things go sour economically, history has shown that starting a war is the best way to redistribute the wealth of nations.  So as they go at each other in the middle east, the arms merchants and bankers get rich.  Guess where these guys are located?--Not in the middle east.  They will be the winners no matter who wins or what happens.  And all the while, the main stream media is quiet as a mouse covering all of this.  You see, its part of the plan to keep you fat, dumb, and happy as they bring everyone to slaughter.  

Best to ride out this conflict in the next few months in the land of smiles.  Could get dangerous if you live in any of the countries involved in this mess...and a real mess it is.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Translated post about top five regrets of dying people

My good check-up really brought into reality something we all take for granted - good health and a long life.  Our ride here on the merry-go-round of life is limited.  Eventually we all have to get off.  So, the question is that will we be ready when that time comes or will we be filled with regrets?   

This re-post is from a French Nurse who interviewed her dying patients about their regrets in life.  Interesting read.  

Reposted from Teak Door

Here are the top five regrets of the dying, as witnessed by Ware:

1. I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

"This was the most common regret of all. When people realise that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honoured even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made. Health brings a freedom very few realise, until they no longer have it."

2. I wish I hadn't worked so hard.

"This came from every male patient that I nursed. They missed their children's youth and their partner's companionship. Women also spoke of this regret, but as most were from an older generation, many of the female patients had not been breadwinners. All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence."

3. I wish I'd had the courage to express my feelings.

"Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others. As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming. Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result."

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

"Often they would not truly realise the full benefits of old friends until their dying weeks and it was not always possible to track them down. Many had become so caught up in their own lives that they had let golden friendships slip by over the years. There were many deep regrets about not giving friendships the time and effort that they deserved. Everyone misses their friends when they are dying."

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

"This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realise until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called 'comfort' of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content, when deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again."

Moral of the story. Enjoy your life everyday and when you leave, take Sinatra's words to heed: Regrets, I've had a few, but then again, but too few to mention.     And please don't read anymore into this post than just info.  I have no morbid intentions...555,  just want to live life to the fullest, just like my blog title says.  I know for me, I look forward to everyday and can't wait to get home to enjoy it way...just 3 more days.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Last minute stuff....

With less than five days left on this bookend, the scramble is starting.  I'm still waiting for some merchandise I ordered from the kite trade show and there is still a bit of last minute shopping left. The bags are getting full and I am getting a bit worried that I might not have enough room to bring everything.  But I will try my best to bring everything and will have to prioritize what I leave behind should there not be enough room.

Since I was here in the bay area, I decided to get a second opinion on my heart murmur which was first identified in Thailand.  The good news is that my condition is not serious nor does it require any medical intervention or restrictions at this point - same as indicated in my other diagnosis.  I have a defective flap in my mitral valve which doesn't close properly.  It may be been genetic, but lately its been accompanied with palpitations.  

After some extensive tests, the doctor determined that neither the regurgitation nor the palpitations were serious.  My heart is very healthy.  No medications needed or recommended...just monitor on a regular basis and practice a healthy heart lifestyle.   For the first time, I took advantage of my benefits as a medicare user and it didn't cost me a penny for the evaluation.  Looks like I will be around for a bit longer.

The media is still buzzing about the primary elections this week.  With Trump and Sanders winning, its creating quite a stir in the halls of Washington and power centers around the planet.  The unfortunate thing is that neither will win the Presidency.  The "powers that be" that control the world order will make sure of that.  For example, even though Sanders whipped Clinton collectively in NH and barely lost in Iowa, Clinton has a commanding delegate lead of 394 to 74.  Clinton lost big in NH but she got more delegates due to the 'Super Delegates' which can vote for anybody they want, irregardless of the voter's results.  As for Trump, look for the Super PACs to send in their special 'hit teams' to knock him out with tactics, dirt,  dirty tricks, or some other means.  They have too much invested in the China Shop to let a bull like him to run amok inside the holy walls of Washington.  They are scared to death of him and will do anything to knock him off...Trump better watch his back - that is how evil these people can be.

And lastly, if all else fails, expect some kind of false flag crisis to suspend voting and possible implementation of  martial law for a possible third term or extension of the present administration.  


That's what someone would have been called a few months ago if someone said that Trump would be the Republican front runner and that a 74 year old Bernie Sanders would butt whip Clinton in NH by 20 percentage points.  

Monday, February 8, 2016

Disappointing Superbowl........

Aside from the outcome, the Superbowl didn't meet up with the hype.  The game itself was a great display of defense and my chosen team won, but the hype leading up to this game was unbelievable. And then there was the half-time show which had too many political overtones - from LGBT to protest for police shootings - and reinforces San Francisco as a bastion of  ultra liberals.  And this was planned all along as indicated by this piece published the day before the superbowl.

The commercials, my favorite part of the games, were very disappointing.  For the amount that the advertisers were paying for airtime, the content and creativity was lacking.  There were the Doritos commercials which were quite funny but the rest were forgettable and will be forgotten by today.

Just one week left before going back to the mango.  I've been fighting a head cold and cough the last few days and have been trying to get some extra sleep and rest to get well quicker.  Also time to start a trial packing run to see how much space I have left and then make plans if I don't have enough room.  

Seven more days........I can't wait.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Happy Chinese New Year!

Happy New Year, the Year of the Monkey.

What are you?  And are you a match for those born under the sign of the Monkey?  

Saturday, February 6, 2016

A new toy...

Got my belated Christmas present delivered yesterday.  I have been eyeing this camera for a while, even before it was released as a replacement for my trusty Canon powershot s120 and G1x.  My s120 takes great pictures for a small pocket camera, especially when the lightning is not at its best, but its limited by its reach or how far one can zoom into a scene or subject.

I also have a G1x, for a larger travel camera, but it was slow and sluggish and didn't offer an image better than the S120 as they shared the same image chip.  It also had limited range, but the pictures were decent.  Then the G3X came out last year.

The G3X retracted

What makes the G3X so special is that it has a zoom range of 24-600mm in a very compact form factor.  Having that kind of range is ideal for travels and kite events where I may have shoot pictures far up in the sky.  But its also compact enough to not take up an entire suitcase with my long lens. I love my L series lenses with their low light capability, but those that have seen a 400mm or 600mm lens know that they looks like  bazookas with weighs to match.

Camera extended to 600mm

With the G3x, you don't get the same professional image quality as with the big lenses, but pictures are perfectly acceptable for most general purpose applications.  Personal pictures, web photos, and portraits are within the realm of this camera's capabilities.  It will come with me back to the land of smiles and hopefully I will have a bunch of great photos to post on this blog soon.

With just over a week left on this end of the world, it will be hectic and very busy.  Have a bunch of doctor's appointments and tests scheduled.  Nothing serious, just a validation of some findings from the doctors and hospitals in the mango.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Election overload...

The media and news are going into media overload as we enter the primary season.  Can't even find a decent program without being interrupted by some kind of election update.  I will be very glad to get back to the mango and away from all this propaganda.

My take on all this is that the political system is so corrupt that the government, the media, and the financial powers that be, are all in this together.   The outcomes are rigged and that includes the obvious in-your-face violations of the law.  Is there any doubt that Hillary will walk away from her email scandal when you see an endorsement like this?  Even with over 150 FBI agents investigating and likely a recommendation to indict, its likely that the justice department will somehow run out the clock on this charge until she is elected President.  After that, she will merely order the Justice Department to bury the charges until she finishes her terms as President.  As for Holder, how does he manage to sleep with all the blood on his hands from Fast and Furious??  

Do you think any of his buddies and appointees will actually do anything at this point?

America is looking more and more like a banana republic every day.  The powers that be control all with its unlimited resources and money and they will cling to that control no matter what.

As for my political choices....anybody except Hillary.  She should be in the 'Big House', not the White House.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Superbowl Craziness in the Bay Area

Had a chance to visit the "Superbowl City" Exhibit over the weekend.  As you may already be aware, the Superbowl (Championship of American Football for those non US readers) will be held in Santa Clara next weekend.  Santa Clara is about 80kms south of San Francisco and the entire Bay Area has been preparing for a massive influx of visitors to this event.  The next weekend is going to be crazy as Chinese New Year is the same weekend and there is a large population of Chinese in the Bay Area with many events scheduled.  But San Francisco is a key city for many of the host activities and the Superbowl City and the NFL experience are the center points for visitors.

As for the special exhibit set up in front of Ferry Building, there was a massive turnout of people over opening weekend.  Unfortunately for me, it was too crowded and many of the interactive games and exhibits had two hour waiting times.  The weekend was windy and cold and the next few days are going to rain so I don't think many will be hanging out there.  Many of the networks have set up portable studios for live broadcasts from the area so expect a lot of media coverage from "Superbowl City", the city within the city.  I left after spending only about 90 minutes due to the cold and windy conditions.  

The Fan Dome

Fan Dome houses interactive games

There are going to be lots of free concerts throughout the week at the stages set up within the complex.

Free Concerts at the City Stage - but no seats and the ground was wet

Both teams have already arrived and numerous events have been set up in San Jose and San Francisco.  Several hundred million is expected for the businesses in the area from the attendees and at last tally, seats are astronomically high (up to $23K USD for a ticket).  I am going to a new year dinner that night, but may spend a few hours watching the TV commercials as that is my favorite part of the game.  I will be warm and comfy at home...and thousands of dollars richer.  Neither the Broncos nor the Panthers interest me.

Anyway, some chores planned for today up at the cabin and then some shopping later in the week.  Just 13 days left before that jump back to the other bookend.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Back from Vegas

Still a bit tired from being on the road the last few days, but overall very happy to have made the trip and glad to get back into the bay area.  Vegas is a fun city and there is always something to do and someplace to go, but to this old guy, the energy didn't match the enthusiasm...555

This time on the road, I tried to use Twitter to update my activities and it was very easy to use.  With just a smartphone with me, it cut down the amount of luggage and weight that I needed to carry and left me some room for shopping.  The only disadvantage was the small keyboard that the phone provided for typing and posting.  It could be quite a chore for a long blog post if done daily.  Twitter limits the text to 125 characters so it forces you to be concise.   Here is a link to the tweets (with photos)  from the trip if you missed them.

With the extra space, I naturally bought more stuff and still ended up carrying stuff in a small store bag as hand carry luggage.

The archery competition and trade show was more than I expected.  Would like to do it again in the future, schedule permitting.  For those interested, they posted the live broadcast of the archery event on YouTube already.  You can get an idea of the shootout venue and competition level by looking at the video below:

Plan to start some shopping this week for the trip home.  Exactly two weeks before I board the big silver bird.  It will be great to get away from all this political stuff happening at the moment.  They paint it like nothing else in the world is happening except this stupid Iowa primary.

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