Friday, July 21, 2017

Still in the mango

Its looks like I will be here in the mango until Saturday night.  Was planning to go up to the country midweek, but was delayed first by dead water heater, the rain, and then Wednesday by a dead battery. Spent yesterday getting a new battery and a new water heater.  Guess being away for a long time is not good and all the maintenance items seem to be needed at once.  

My previous car battery lasted just a year and I now realized I didn't do enough research on the brand of batteries they installed.  I was in a hurry to get back up and just had them install what was available. As it turned out, two different brands, two dead batteries that lasted exactly a couple of weeks after the warranty period.  Anyway, I did some checking this time on the internet and finally decided to try a brand called FB battery.  FB battery at least has a decent description of their product and they are a very large company providing OEM batteries to some of the cars being built here.  They are also controlled by SCG (Siam Cement Group), one of the largest companies in Thailand.  I decided on their Gold Super Maintenance Free model and will see how it holds up.  Many of the locals tell me FB batteries hold up better than most in the hot weather we have.  Its the hot weather and hot temperatures under the hood that shortens the life of the cheaper batteries.  Unlike in Kalifornia, the maximum battery warranty here is usually only 2 years.

6000 watt multipoint system for the bathroom only

Also made a trip to Powerbuy to get a replacement bathroom water heater because they had it on sale.  We have two heaters in the condo, one for the bathroom sink and shower and the other for the kitchen sink and washing machine.  I had the water shut off while I was away this time because I didn't have a maid any longer. After 13 years, the original water heater died and so I had to find a replacement.  The same model was available at Powerbuy so I made a trip over to get it.  Cost me 6000 baht, and they had a free install if you were a 1 Card holder.  What a deal! The down side is that I will have a couple more days of cold water only showers.  In the warm weather we have, cold showers are kind of refreshing in a way...sometimes in the hottest weather, the cold water isn't even cool enough for my liking.

So hopefully tonight I can make the free buffet.  Will contact BB later to see if he is going.  

Lastly, the good news is that Barnaby is out of the hospital and resting at home.  Take care bro, see you soon.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Experienced it myself

Drugs.  Prescription Drugs.

Its a complex web of pricing and I experienced it myself over the last week.  I'm developing or already have Type 2 diabetes (age onset diabetes) which I inherited from my mother.  Its at the early stage and controllable.  Was prescribed a certain drug by my doctor to address this and also help to minimize any impact on my kidneys.  I won't name the drug or its company because they might find this post and fix this situation.

Anyway, this drug illustrates the diversity of pricing for obtaining it through various channels.  I mentioned my experience with the local CVS pharmacy back in Kalifornia a few posts back.  In that case, my co-pay with insurance coverage was over $500 dollars and the cost per pill was $17 each. When I saw my doctor today in the mango, the hospital cost was around $3.50 USD per pill (120 baht).  Quite a savings right?  However, going to a pharmacy that Bangkok Buddy found, I got the same pills for $1.52 (USD) each.  So you can see that the price gap is HUGE.  And the irony is that even at the lowest price, everyone is still making money from me.  

I guess the practice of tier pricing was designed to make drugs available to poorer countries.  If that wasn't done, there would be many generic drug companies making cheap knock off drugs and ignoring the patents.  Fortunately for those that can travel, knowing this fact can save one some money if your insurance doesn't cover the full cost of your prescriptions.  In my case, even with my insurance, the drugs are cheaper here retail than the cost of my co-pay.  And yes, the drugs are real and of the same quality as the ones you get from the local drug store back in your home country.

I did not require a prescription.  Just brought in my envelop from my hospital with the drug name, dosage, and other info and they sold me a three months supply with no questions asked.  Came in a nice box too instead of the bubble packs.  Here is a video on some of the abuses that have recently entered the pharma industry.

Fortunately this jerk got what was due him - busted on Securities fraud

For those traveling to the LOS and need the info, contact BB or myself and we can fill you in on the details of where to go.  BB checked out every pharmacy in the mango and found this place to be the cheapest and best.  Don't get ripped off by big pharma.

Back Home and Back Online

Made it back to the mango as scheduled on Monday, but after a warm greeting by Marina and B at the airport, we went to the condo to only find that my internet connection had been shut off.  I recently changed from True to AIS fiber and somehow the billing didn't follow correctly.  I filled out paperwork twice before I left last time, yet they did not automatically deduct what I owed each month from my bank.  In the meantime, the account was 6 weeks delinquent and they blocked my service.  So nothing we could do until yesterday.  In the meantime, we all caught up in hugs and kisses and I started to unpack what I had.

The only way to restore it was to go to an AIS shop, pay the bill, and ask them to restore it on the spot.  After getting wrong info yesterday morning and a wasted trip to the Silom Compex, I finally got the whole mess straighten out at the Central Rama 9 office.  It was convenient because I had a late lunch meeting with Bangkok Buddy at Sizzler at the same mall.  It was a zoo there and took 30 minutes of waiting to see an agent.  I lost a large part of the day getting things restored, but when I got home after the lunch, I was back online - didn't do me any good as I was jet lagged out.

The last two days have been great.  It has been cloudy and in the 80s.  Walked through Lumphini yesterday for my morning workout and my daily step count was over 11,000 with all the running around chasing my internet connection!    Even forgot to bring BB's mail for the lunch.  He bought me lunch for bringing his mail, but I didn't deliver it because I forgot bring it..555.  Next time I will have to buy lunch.

More later in the week as I have a doctor's appointment later today to manage my type 2 diabetes. Plans are to go up to the resort tonight, but things can change.  A big storm is supposed to be on the way up there and I don't want to travel in the rain, especially with all the news of bus accidents recently.  No better place to wait it out than at home in the land of smiles.  

Monday, July 17, 2017

Chilling out at the EVA lounge

We will have to skirt this nasty storm on the way to the mango

Its about 5:45 am here in Taipei and I'm chilling out and waiting for my 8:30 am connection to the big mango.  Pretty smooth flight over for the most part except near Japan where there is always some turbulence for some reason.  The next segment of the trip is not going to be so easy as there is a typhoon in the area that is suppose to create big problems for those in the south china seas.  Its not a major storm, but its expected to hit landfall in Vietnam around the same time we are passing through the country on the way to Bangkok.  Parts of China have already been impacted, primarily in the southeast where some tourists had to be evacuated from some small islands off the coast.

On my way over, I used the internet connection to catch up on news, email, and did a couple of LINE chats with B and Johnnie Walker.  The voice connection was impossible as I thought, but the chat and text usage seemed fine.  Even uploaded a couple of pictures, but it took a bit due to the slow connection speed.  Keep that in mind if you choose to buy the optional service.

The lounge is still the same and this time I managed to get one of the tables against the wall with an electrical outlet.  First order of business however, was to stuff my face again.   However, the speed here was good enough for me to contact B and arrange for my pickup at the airport later this morning. While not amazingly fast, the speed is good enough for most uses - especially because its free.  Also free for those that don't have lounge access is a FREE airport Wifi service.  I've used it at the gate before and it wasn't too bad at all - especially if you get in early like we do from the west coast.

The EVA lounge speed test in Taiwan
That's the update for now.  Have to go out later in the morning to buy some perfume for B.  Got a special order last night for a specific brand and fragrance and as they say, happy wife = happy life.  In other words I don't want to be staying in the dog house on this trip...555

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Blogging at 30,000 feet

Somewhere over the Pacific, half way between SFO and Taiwan, this blog is being composed and distributed.  Can't imagine how fast this technology has moved in recent years.  It wasn't that long ago when emails were considered strange and most people didn't think of why they would even need one.  Facebook hadn't been invented yet cause Zuckerberg was still in diapers running around somewhere.  And in those days, we had to pay to go into the various internet shops around the reservation to share a computer that was connected to this mysterious network called the world wide web.

Now for a measly $20 bucks you can have service on your flight across the Pacific and surf to your heart's delight.  How is the service?  In a short word:  primitive.  Here is the speed data that I just ran on the network:

Its basically ADSL levels

For those that have to stay in touch, its barely enough.  For those bored out of their minds with 15 hours to kill, its a cheap price to stay plugged in and entertained.  

Things went smoothly at SFO.  The lines were not too long, but this flight segment is full.  Looks like every seat was taken and thus I did not get my business class upgrade even though I was on the waiting list and ready with my mileage.  For dinner tonight, we had Sirloin braised with red wine and served with veggies and red potatoes.  Not a bad meal and it was tasty.  They even gave us sandwiches a few minutes ago to tie us over until breakfast.

That's all for now as I'm going to try my mobile phone to see if I can use line to make a call.  It might work, but I bet the service and voice quality will be pretty bad.  More from Taiwan.

Tonight is the night....

Going to the airport tonight for the 1:30 am flight back home.  Its been a long haul here on this bookend.  It started in late April and now its mid July - the longest I've been away since I first starting having kids.  I miss my kids badly, and I know Marina misses me as B says she is always asking when I will be back.  We do video talks every day, but we all know that its not the same as being there in person.  We are a close family and there is no better joy than to have everyone together when we eat, sleep, and hang out.  To a four year old, three months seems like a lifetime to them.

Anyway, got the first chore done today which was to pick up my medications - all except one.  I was prescribed a medication by my doctor in Thailand for my early diabetes which I tried to get filled here to save some money. My doctor here didn't mind writing the prescription, but the pharmacy called me and said "do you really want this medication?".  I asked why and she said "Your co-pay (uncovered cost) for this 90 day supply is $560 USD".  After I picked up my jaw from the floor, I asked why it cost so much and she said 90 pills cost over $1500 USD and my insurance only covers a portion of the cost.  Naturally, at $17 per pill, I told her that I didn't want the medication and that I would talk to my other doctor about it.  With a bit of research, I found the exact same medication online at an international pharmacy based in Singapore for 1/3 the cost and I think I didn't even pay close to that much in the Mango for my initial 90 day supply. Obviously, big pharma has tiered pricing on this medication and its a lot cheaper to get the medication outside of the US.  I have a followup appointment with my doctor at BNH this month anyway and will get my pills from them.

Have to go over my bags one last time to take out any heavy items that can wait until next time and include light items that I can carry.  Taking only 1 1/2 bags this trip along with my backpack, which is about half of what I normally bring.  Have to baby my sternum for another month or so and by next trip, it will be back to my normal 3 bags.

That's it for now, more from the airport later tonight.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Tomorrow is the day....

Less than 48 hours on this bookend, but things are doing well and no major problems so far.  Just came back from seeing the cardiologist, and had a great report.  He said my surgeons did a fantastic job at Cleveland Clinic and I am in excellent shape.  The only restriction he placed on me was that there should not be any heavy lifting or golf type swings until next month.  That would make it three months after surgery - just to be safe.  After that, he recommends starting slowly and gradually until I get stronger.  I have no immediate plans for golf this month nor other major activities so it will work out great.

Some really good news for those on long stay visas such as for retirement.  I read on one of the other blog sites that the Thai government has approved an extended long stay visa for citizens of 14 countries.  Here are the details I copied from the other site:

That would be great news for us on retirement visas as it would cut the yearly hassle of waiting all day to get our visa renewed and the uncertainty of the ever changing process and how long we can stay.  It will take some time to fully implement, but hopefully next year I will be in a position to apply for this kind of long stay visa.  There is still the re-entry permit process that needs to be addressed.  Most of those are only good for one year or issued on request by someone who wants to travel out of the country.  Its a big money maker so I doubt if that aspect will change.

That's it for now.  More tomorrow as I will be on my last day before going to the airport for my early morning flight.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Good Echo

Had my echo cardiogram yesterday.  Its the first after leaving the hospital 7 weeks ago and the results could not have been more encouraging.  My mitral valve is still functioning perfectly and my regurgitation is completely gone.  Also, my left ventricle, which was severely enlarged is now back to practically normal size.  Lastly, my EF (or ejection fraction) was at 72%, which is on the high end of normal (55-75%), meaning that my heart is performing better than the normal range in terms of pumping blood efficiently.  While the results still need to be confirmed again by the cardiologist on Friday, I felt really good after the readout by the tech yesterday.  It looks like the two months of diligent rehab has been very helpful and now I need to keep it up for the duration.

Three more days, but time seems to pass so slowly while I wait.  Started to kill some time by watching season 1 of Stranger Things, a new series on Netflix.  Its a SciFi thriller with a very interesting cast.  Kinda reminds me of the old Spielberg movie, Goonies.  Based in the 1980s, its backdrop and story line made enough reviews to make it to season 2.  The new season is going to start this weekend and I will be able to continue to see it in the land of smiles because I have Netflix via my Amazon Fire TV stick. The other thing that keeps me going is that by this time next week I will be in the LOS again at the resort.

Some of the best scenes from last year (don't watch if you don't like spoilers):

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Few more days.....

Been a busy few days since my last post.  The red egg and ginger party went very well and everyone was happy and well fed at the buffet.  I must say that that Kome is one of the best buffets in the area for the money.  There was a large assortment of Sushi, seafood, and hot entrees to choose from.  The only downside was their limited dessert choices, although there was lots of ice cream available.  The new baby, Kaitlyn, was good too as she behaved well and seemed to know that the party was for her.

The gold pendant I got for her received a lot of compliments and now she will have something to remember when she is older.  Yes, I did get a coin with this year's date so the coin will be as old as she whenever she decides to wear it.

Started packing yesterday after a quick trip to Costco to pick up a few items.  Had to stock up on vitamins and bought a bag of California Pistachios for B.  Pistachios in Thailand are very expensive and a small bag can easily cost 200 baht or more.  Because they are local, buying them here is quite reasonable, especially at Costco.  

Will also consider bringing some fresh Bing cherries as they had some at Costco too, but to do that I will have to wait until Saturday morning to get them.  Once I get them to Thailand, they eat some fresh and then freeze some of them so later thy can eat them like a little cherry Popsicle - Marina and B just love those cherries.

I have an echo-cardiogram scheduled for tomorrow.  It will be the first detailed exam of my heart since I left the hospital six weeks ago.  I don't expect any problems as my recovery seems to be doing well and my walking and Tai Chi is still a daily routine.  I check my blood pressure regularly and its still at young man's levels (115/83) and my blood sugar is also under control.  Its really feels like this operation has moved the clock back decades for me in terms of health.  

On Friday, I will have a final consultation with the cardiologist before my trip.   I want to take advantage of all the exams and get all my medications while I am still here and covered by my insurance.  Once I get to the land of smiles, my coverage stops and I have to pay out of pocket for all my exams and medications.  Its not a lot, but still why pay when you are entitled to these services?

Lastly, its a race against time as last night I saw that Ella is pretty close to walking.  She can take only one step or so before falling so I think I'm only days away from seeing her walk for the first time.  I was there when Marina took her first steps three years ago and want to video Ella's first steps as well.  Its one of those milestones I want to capture for them and me.  Many years from now, we will all see these precious moments and all laugh together.  In life, there are no replays unless you capture them yourself in pictures or videos.

That's it for now, more later in the week as I get closer to departure. Next week at this time  I should be at the resort getting some food and getting some sleep.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

One more week......

Yeah.  One more week left before heading back to the mango and home.

Have a jam packed schedule remaining on this bookend, starting with a red egg and ginger party for my newest granddaughter.  Normally, its held about one month after the baby's birth, but nowadays it can range from one to three months.  It is a way of introducing the baby to family and friends who may not have had the opportunity to visit the baby in the hospital or at the home of the parents.  Like all things Chinese, this celebration involves food, so we have chosen a nice buffet restaurant for lunch and are expecting around 100 guests.

Its called a red egg and ginger party because that it what is traditionally served along with the other food.  The red (or usually pink) eggs represent a new birth or start and good luck.  The ginger represents good health.  

During the party, well wishers bring either money in red envelopes or pieces of gold to adorn the baby.  Traditionally, as the paternal grandfather, I am expected to be the host and pay for the party.  I don't mind because I got a bargain last time as I had twin granddaughters so it was a 2-1 special! 

On the personal level, there are three medical appointments left, two for testing and one to see the doctor the day before I leave.  Don't expect any complications, but expect to get all my medication prescribed and filled for the next couple of months before I leave so that it will be covered by insurance.  

Lastly, its time to think about packing.  I'm limited to how much weight I can handle so I will be traveling light this time.  Maybe just one bag plus my roll-on.  Hope I can fit everything as I have birthday gifts for the girls and personal items I need for this trip.  

Almost time to get ready so have a nice weekend!

Friday, July 7, 2017

Bills are starting to pour in...

Its a little over six weeks since surgery and my bills have started to pour in.  There are bills from Cleveland Clinic and then those from my local cardiologist.  Then there are those that are for prescription medications.  There are lab test bills, and other stuff that I'm sure is yet to come in.

The billing so far:  $235,000 USD

Fortunately, nearly all of it has been settled via Medicare or my Medicare supplement insurance. The prescription medication has a co-pay provision and so some of the expense will be out of pocket. The billing amount does not mean that the providers will get that much from the government or the insurance companies, but its an indication of what the cost would be on a retail, walk-in basis for someone without coverage.  I think the providers usually offer a discount to help those without insurance, but as you can see, the medical bills can be staggering and easily put people in very bad financial trouble.  It may also mean that they don't get the medical service they need.

That brings us squarely into the current health care debate on Capital Hill.  Having just experienced the system in close proximity, I think that the answer might be in a tiered approach towards health care.  I was lucky to have coverage because of my being a senior and paying into Social Security for the decades I was working.  Also, my employer provided extra benefits to cover the supplemental insurance.  Others who did not pay into the system can still receive benefits, but there will be more out of pocket expenses.  I do believe that everyone should have access to health care, but in a tiered manner. 

For those who have never paid into any kind of plan, have no money, and have no assets, a government sponsored system should be in place for basic care.  Similar to the government hospital system in Thailand, the cost to the patient is nominal.  The doctors will be government employees, medical students (doctors and nurses), and or doctors on a mandatory community service assignment. Service will be first come, first served, and limited to resources available. All US doctors, in order to be re-certified, must complete a voluntary, two week mandatory assignment at one of these government hospitals each year.  That would provide a pool of staff doctors, trainees, and seasoned experts to the system. This tier will have much lower service levels, likely long lines, and some may not get adequate long term care but after all, its going to be practically free.  It should not encourage free loaders to take advantage of our medical system.  By the way, big pharma must donate part of their products and/or money to the system as well.

The other tier should be those that have insurance coverage.  Either through their employer or purchased on the open market, this system should be like it was before.  A pool of people share the expenses and risk, just like auto insurance.  The insurance should be open to all, across all state lines, and can have any level of coverage depending on how much the buyer wants to pay and the insurance company is willing to risk.  The hospitals in this tier will be permitted to turn away patients that should be part of the previous tier (i.e. through their emergency rooms) or do not have the means to pay for the service.

Last but not least, the final tier where those who have no insurance and have the means to pay for any service can go to whomever they choose.  They can pick and chooses their doctors and pay for the service out of their pockets.  

To me, this stratification of health care is the only way we can get through this mess.  We have a stratified economy and diverse medical needs.  There is no way one single system, either the existing one, or its proposed replacement is going to address the issue.  We need to model the system to reflect our diverse needs. The reality is that we are not a country of equals economically - there are rich and poor people.  We are not a socialist country. We can not fix the problem of economical inequality through the health care system - that needs to be done separately.

Only 10 more days before I get back home so in the meantime, I have to keep reviewing the bills that come in, looking for a surprise charge I didn't expect.  

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Happy Independence Day!!!...from Kalifornia

Wish we could do it here in the Bay Area, but nearly every year, we get fogged out.

So I guess I will watch it on TV tonight....

But here is where I would really like to be:

Buying a car soon?

Now see it again in a different light......

Click on this Link:

Monday, July 3, 2017

Out and About during the long weekend

The 4th of July, or America's Independence day is on a Tuesday this year, but people have been taking the opportunity to make this a long weekend by taking Monday off work and trying to bridge the time together.  Its also a fun time for us in Kalifornia to attend some summertime events which I have missed over the years.  Typically, this time of year I am already back in the Land of Smiles doing my visa renewal, etc.  But I was fortunate that during the last trip over, I was granted an early extension due to my heart surgery so getting back late was not an issue this time.

Anyway, I am posting some pictures from my visits to the Alameda County Fair and my visit to Larry's Produce yesterday.  The fair is someplace I like to visit when I am looking for some heat as its located in the Tri-Valley area which is always hot in the summertime.  Its a fun place to see farm and craft exhibits, taste different foods, and do some shopping from pitch salespeople on their products.  I went on a Thursday, which is a free day for seniors.  They also offered a $2 "taste of the fair" special for that day that allows people to get special samples from all the vendors selling food (see the sample $2 sausage pictured above). Without these promotions, going to the fair is an expensive outing as the admission, parking, and food can set one back a hefty amount.

The other little outing I had was to Larry's produce.  I've previously blogged about this farm stand and it continues to evolve and grow, making it a destination for people in the area.  What makes it special is the size and variety of produce available.  Some of the stuff is locally grown and some of the other stuff is obviously bought through brokers just like other stores, but the prices are real cheap. Green onion that go for 79 cents apiece at the local supermarket are 5 for a $1. Limes are 10 for a buck.  There are local grapes, stone fruits like peaches, apricots, and plums from the area that are both ripe and cheap.  Huge watermelons, and many new varieties of other melons made the trip worthwhile.  

Anyway, its only 1/2 way through the long weekend.  I want to fire up the 2 seat convertible today and go out for a drive.  Its great to be over the first phase of recovery and start the rest of my life again!  Might as well enjoy my remaining two weeks of summer here in Kalifornia!

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Another day older, another year wiser?

Add caption

Its that time of the year again where I celebrate the anniversary of my birth.  Its a milestone we all celebrate because in olden times, when the average life span was much shorter, each year meant we had that much less time to be on this merry-go-round we call life.  Lifespans are longer now, but we really don't cherish the years until we get older or experience life changing events like open heart surgery.  So this year I give extra thanks to God for giving me more time and being healthy enough to enjoy life to the fullest. 

Also, thanks for those who have already sent me birthday wishes and may I also wish you all a wonderful day and many more on the anniversary of your birth as well.

At home, they are preparing a virtual birthday party for me tonight.  B is going to buy the cake, invite family and friends, and Marina will be blowing out the candles for me.  Yes, I will be on LINE chat to see it all...555  But I told them I would have another party when I get there also, to celebrate both Marina's and mine again as its a good excuse to party anyway...555.

On the funny side, Marina is now big enough to want to help around the resort.  She thinks its fun to do things like the big people, but I know that won't last very long when she figures out its hot and boring and its REAL work.  Anyway, she was trying to help grandma clean one of the bungalows yesterday and one of those moments captured that are priceless.  B sent me the following videos that just made my day...ROTFL



Funny kid.  Looks like she is going to be a lefty too, although she writes with her right hand...555

Friday, June 30, 2017

Six Weeks Post Op

Today marks six weeks since my open heart surgery. Its supposed to be the end of the first phase of recovery but fortunately for me, I've progressed a lot faster and better than planned.  Also lucky that I did not have any complications or other side effects that many others have had.  I believe a lot of it had to do with the doctors and facility and also the fact that I was healthy and active going into the procedure.

I experimented a bit today gently swinging a golf club and pulling back my lowest weight longbow and I was able to do both gently.  Think however, that I am going to wait one more week after I start my Tai Chi QiGong exercises (which I will start today) before I do any more testing of those two sports.  The QiGong will help my upper body get use to stretching and moving again as well as help my balance and strength.  I even ordered some Kung Fu pants and shoes so that I will be comfortable doing the exercises.  Also supposed to increase intensity of exercises to meet certain heart rate targets in the next few weeks as well.  Will do that in the mango and resort when I get back home.

Going to the Alameda County Fair today to just hang out and have some time outside in the sunshine. Want to try to lead as much of a normal life as possible now that the restrictions are lifted.  Will have some pics from the fair in a later post.  Plan to take the pictures with my new Oneplus 5 to see if the phone lives up to it hype of clearer pictures.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

The OnePlus 5 finally came in

The OnePlus 5 arrived yesterday in the afternoon.  It was promised for Friday, but due to the demand for the early sales, it was delayed in shipping for one business day.  They sent everyone who was impacted a $5 credit, which I have already spent. As usual, their stuff was packed well and their packaging superb.  Included in the package was a tempered glass screen protector which was a nice touch.  I also purchased their ready for action 'bundle', which included headphones, a protective case, and an extra Dash charger.  The bundles were heavily discounted for the early drop sale.

Late yesterday I charged the phone and started the migration.  Used both the built in migration tool in the android OS and well as CLONEit.  The first migration tool moved the apps and I used CloneIt to move all the data (i.e. photos, movies, music, docs, etc).  It was all done wirelessly and with little problems.  It just took a while because I had so many files and the basic connection via WiFi is slower than a direct connection.  For obvious reasons, passwords and other security type stuff had to be re-entered, but most are working well.  I did lose some of my Chat history from LINE, but nothing serious.  

So far, the OnePlus 5 seems to be a winner.  Its slimmer, lighter and faster than I expected. Fits my hand really well too. Build quality as usual, is excellent.  I will review it more in a bit after I get some hands on time with the unit.  All in all, a great phone for the price!  It officially goes on sale today and can be ordered at their website:

Only a couple of weeks left on this on this bookend.  Ordering essentials as quickly as possible for my trip and plan to fly over with just one suitcase plus my carry-on.  First in a long time, but due to the surgery, I don't want to push around too much weight.

One of My Email addresses was hacked

Someone hacked one of my email addresses during the last two weeks and has been sending out spam for a porn site.  Found that out this morning when about 100 emails bounced back because of some kind of error in the mail formatting.  When I investigated further, it looks like someone started doing this about two weeks ago from phony locations all over the world.  So if you received a spam email from me during the last two weeks, I am sorry if it offended you.  Its looks like they used my userid to send their spam to their own mailing list for the most part so hopefully most of you who are on my contacts list didn't get anything.

The passwords have been changed and I also put in some additional security measures so hopefully that will keep them out.  There is a recent activity option in Yahoo mail that shows who, what, and where the last log ins were.  That's were I found out the current hacker was using my ID from Russia. Once I found out, I quickly changed all my Userids and hopefully it was soon enough to prevent further loss of data.

Had a quiet weekend.  My OnePlus 5 didn't come in on Friday but its due to be delivered today. Once I have it I can begin to migrate my apps and data over to the new phone.  It will likely be the phone that I will bring and use when I get back to the land of smiles.

On the home front, B tells me that they have finally opened a movie house in town.  Previously, we had to drive almost an hour and a half to Korat if we wanted to see a current movie.  Now we have a place in town!  The big kids went to see the new Transformers 5 movie and it cost them only 50 baht !  Don't know the quality of the movie screen or sound system, but 50 baht sure sounds like a bargain.  The also have a new Moo Ka Tat buffet place near the theater as well.  Its all you can eat for 199 baht.  Bangkok used to have many of these restaurants, but word got around about them and too many big eaters put almost all of them out of business.  From the pictures, they have a pretty good selection of seafood and other items.  Will definitely sample the place when I get back and do a complete review...555

Lastly, this Thursday will be the six week mark of my recovery.  Based on the info they gave me, the first phase of recovery is over and the weight I can carry and many other restrictions (such as driving) are lifted. However, the warning of caution is given that don't do any sudden or violent movements (i.e. sports) for another month or so, depending on how the sternum feels.  Have a lab test today and about 2 more weeks before my final exam with my cardiologist and then its back to the Mango!

Feel so good that I might go the the county fair this week.  I believe that Thursday is a free day for seniors....can't think of a better way to spend time outdoors than at the county fair.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Marina's Birthday...

My name is Marina, not Moana...555
Four years ago, I was on a plane between Kalifornia and Bangkok when she was born.  She was early, about one month early because I intended to get back to the Land of Smiles in plenty of time to see her being born.  But her water bag broke and she was born while I was still in the air.  Funny thing is that I talked to B at the airport and all was well, only to find out she had the baby while I was in Taipei.  After I landed, I rushed to the hospital to see her and B, both were doing well except that Marina eventually had to go under the Bilirubin lights because her liver was still catching up with her early delivery. 

Its been four short years.  Lots of diapers, night time wake ups, and crying but we would not have it any other way.  You are special and bring joy to all those you meet.  

Seems like just yesterday...Marina at hospital, one day old

Now she is four today, attending Pre-School and is a feisty little bundle of joy.  Happy Birthday my dear daughter...Thanks for bringing so much joy to our lives.  Please don't grow up too fast.

Wish I was there...but was there only via videocam...

Friday, June 23, 2017

They don't call this place Fog City for nothing

View from my window this morning.  Can usually see Bay Bridge and Golden Gate Bridges
Its not quite 7AM here and last night the famous San Francisco Fog rolled in big time and its still here this morning.  As I am getting ready for my walk, I'm deciding how much clothes to put on because its cold out there!  Went from weather in the 30C range to 14C this morning.  That's how quickly the weather changes here.  The fog will be a welcome relief for those just inland of us as it will moderate their near record breaking temps.

Still recovering by walking every day.  Gained back about 3 pounds but want to keep it no more than that and currently feeling very little chest pain except when I cough or sneeze real hard.  The chest is still sensitive to the touch and I won't be pounding it hard any time soon.  

Lastly, my Oneplus 5 should arrive today.  Hopefully it won't be too hard to migrate all the apps and contacts over as I want to use it when I get back to the land of smiles.  Quiet weekend planned...maybe the idea time to play with my new electronic toys...555

Thursday, June 22, 2017

No heat wave here.....

There is a lot of news regarding the record heat that we are seeing in different parts of the country and around the world.  In the UK, they are experiencing record temperatures in the mid to high 30C range while here in the Southwest, temperatures like 47C to 48C are likely.

In the San Francisco Bay Area, we have a very unique condition.  We have micro climates that can vary the weather by 20C in just a 40 KM distance.  We can have temperatures near 40C inland, and if one drives towards the coast, it will soon be in the 20C range.  Its not at all unusual during our summer months for this to happen because of our unique geography.  In fact, one used to easily spot the tourists to the big city because they were the ones freezing in shorts and wearing San Francisco sweatshirts they bought in desperation.

For example it will be 42C inland (about 25 KM) and only 26C for highs today along the bay. Having grown up along the coast during my childhood, I liked the cooler weather, but since living in the land of smiles the last few years, I miss having some heat once in a while.  I enjoy being in shorts and going out without a jacket which is a treat for us coastal dwellers.  And the San Francisco Fog, while beautiful in post cards and Tony Bennett's Song, can be a real drag if you live here.  So...I'm counting the days.

Tomorrow will be five weeks to the day since the operation.  Walking 2 1/2 - 3 miles a day in the morning and then having a pretty normal day.  Still sensitive near my sternum, and that won't get better for another couple of months according to sources.  Will wait until after week six and then will gradually increase my heart rate during the exercises.  All in all, my recovery is coming along exceptionally well and should be near normal when I get back in mid July.  I actually feel like I'm in better cardio shape than before the surgery in many ways.  Weight training will have to wait a bit more.

On the home front, I get pictures and talk with the girls a couple of times a day.  Definitely homesick but not much I can do until I get all the medication sorted out and a final exam from the doctor the first week of July.  Marina will be four in a couple of days and I'm sad that I can only participate at her birthday party by video conferencing but I promised her another 'special' party when daddy gets home.  I hope she will understand and remember how much I wanted to be there when she grows up.

They are both growing like weeds and I regret the time I spent away from them, but it was a blessing in disguise because I could have had major heart problems later if the issue was not taken care of early.  I believe what I went through added many many more years to be with them.

Time for some breakfast and to get ready for that morning walk.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

The OnePlus 5 just launched

Yep, it officially launched 1 hour ago.  For those that are interested, the phone is priced at $479 for the basic model and $539 for the 8GB Ram, 128 GB storage version in black.  Specs to match all the latest high end models from Samsung, Apple, etc. A true flagship killer at 1/2 the price.  I've been waiting for this model, having skipped the Oneplus 3 and 3T models the last couple of years.  Just ordered one with their early drop special and should be here on Friday!

Drop me a comment and I will give you the special code to get an early release if you are interested. The official sales launch for the USA is not until June 27th.  In case you missed it, here is the official launch live streamed on YouTube.  Its starts at approximately 24 minutes into the video for those that want to skip to the heart of the presentation.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Found Marina's box of toys....

We finally located Marina's box of toys.  It was sent last month before my heart surgery for her birthday next week and never arrived.  The tracking shows that it cleared customs and left Bangkok's main post office and was on its way to delivery in the country.  The tracking was wrong and it never arrived.

So I started a inquiry and claim process for the package here in California and lo and behold, they 'found' the package. Its currently stuck in airport customs in Bangkok, so someone lied about it leaving the facility.  They never sent out notification regarding how to claim the package to us at the resort and if it weren't for my followup and claim for insurance, it would have stayed there until Thai customs declares it abandoned.  They must really like the toys.

Anyway, B is in the big mango with her mom visiting her aunt and went out to claim the package. She had to go to the police first to get a report that the notification form was 'lost' (even though the customs people could never produce a copy of the notification).  Then when she got there another problem surfaced.  Since the package was addressed to Marina instead of her, she needed Marina's birth certificate to prove that she had the legal right to get the package.  Well, the birth certificate is back at the resort - its not something that one carries around everyday.  Plus it has to be the original and not a copy.  Anyway, B is going to take the bus tonight and do a flip flop to get the document and be back in the mango tomorrow.  We are determined that Marina is going to get her birthday gift.

I've heard many horror stories about Thai customs but this is my first experience where things are so mucked up.  All the other times, the stuff goes right through and nothing is ever missing.  I guess someone really liked Marina's toys and wanted them for their kids or maybe its just a change of policy that requires someone to come all the way to Bangkok to claim a package.

The toys are special however.  They are hard to get and come all the way from England, plus they are on the expensive side. Never heard about the characters until Marina got hooked on watching them on YouTube.  She previously was a Peppa Pig fan, and got lots of toys from me for that series.  Four year olds get bored fast and well now, she likes "Ben and Holly's Little Kingdom".  Anyway, here is a sample of the series - warning, don't let your kids get hooked on it or you will be buying some expensive toys....5555  The series was originally released back in 2009 in the UK by the same company that produced the Peppa Pig series.  Many of the character voices are the same people as well.

One of the many sets I sent her...would you believe its $37 USD?
On the recovery front, I am doing well.  Still walking every morning about 2 miles and then another 1 1/2 miles for the rest of the day.  I seldom go under 8,500 steps and can do most things like  before my surgery.  My chest is still tender and I won't be lifting anything heavy for a while, but other than that, its great to be back.  

The chest incision is still very visible, but my left leg has gotten a lot better.  The bruising is almost all gone as well as the discoloration.  It looks like I will be able to wear shorts again when I get back to the Land of Smiles!  Will still have a couple of scars on the leg, but can't complain about that considering where the veins went.

Less than a month left before the jump over to the mango.  Can't wait as I miss home so very much.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Father's Day....

On this father's day, I wanted to acknowledge the guy who made my life possible.  My father.  

He was a special guy and like many of his generation, came to the USA with nothing in his pockets but just hopes for a better future.  He was one of ten brothers and only 17 years old when he made his first trip over.  To make ends meet, he worked three jobs.  He was a houseboy to a rich and famous California golden age family, he washed dishes at a restaurant part-time, and at night he washed bottles for a local bottling company.  His hands were often cut from damaged bottles and he told of having to wake up with little or no sleep to serve his host family breakfast and tea. During the depression, they lived on discarded fish heads from the local markets. Somehow, he went to enough school to learn rudimentary English.

During the war, he was a cook on a warship even though he wasn't a citizen yet and somewhere along the line, he returned to China enough times to eventually conceive my brother and myself, and to eventually bring us all to the USA before the Communists took over the country in the late 40s.  He made his money through hard work and aggressive saving.  We ran a grocery store which was open 12 hours a day and open every day of the year for decades.  He had some luck in stocks and eventually a few of his real estate investment yielded success.  For a self taught man, he did pretty well, but always wanted his kids to do better and "to get an education".  He realized that things would always be stacked against us and so he encouraged us to always do well in school.  A good education was the equalizer and I was lucky.  With both his encouragement and my mother's constant reminders, I was the first in the family to graduate from college.  

Standing on his shoulders gave me an advantage financially, and I tell my kids that they will have the advantage of standing on both his shoulders and hopefully mine to reach their goals.  They also will have the responsibility of being caretaker and building upon their grandfather's legacy for their own kids and to educate them as to where they came from and their subsequent responsibility.  

So today I say "Thanks Dad" for everything.  I wish you could see me now and I want so much to talk to you again and to tell you all that has happened.  But I think you know already, and have been watching over me all these years.  Happy Father's day dad....

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Mobility again.....

Feels really good to be able to drive again.  Made a trip for lunch and even visited Costco yesterday for some supplies.  Living in the Bay Area without a car is very difficult but its doable.  But having a car and driving makes life so much better - especially the next few days because we are finally getting some summer weather.

Still walking everyday.  In fact, had one of my highest step counts yesterday - 10,359.  Even on the first day of driving, I had over 8,000 steps so the driving is not compromising my exercise schedule.  

On the recovery front, I have been totally off any kind of pain medicine for over a week, but my sternum is sensitive to the touch and certain movements quickly remind me that I had surgery in that area.  I can feel the fabric on my chest now and plan to wear a chest protector when I drive.  Likely need to do this for a few more weeks just to be safe.  Found an inexpensive sternum protector for those who are riding offroad bikes and it works great.  As mentioned previously, I think the nerve endings are rebuilding and I should be expecting feelings like tingling, itching, etc as they grow back.  

On the home front, Marina is sick and missed school yesterday.  She has a cold or the flu as she is running a temperature and had a runny nose.  Its inevitable that kids get sick when they start school and not only that, they bring it back and get everyone else in the family sick also.  I have to be careful when I get back to stay healthy as the last thing I need is to get the flu during the last stages of my recovery.  

Lastly, I've been ordering some linen clothing to bring back with me to the land of smiles.  I can't play golf for the next few months and so my usual outfit of a polo shirt and shorts is going to be replaced with some linen tops - beachwear.  Linen is a very unique product and is used often in tropical and hot climates like we have in the land of smiles.  Made from flax instead of cotton, its supposed to keep the skin 3-5 C degrees cooler than other fabrics. The only issue is that they wrinkle badly, but I don't mind because I'm not working anymore, not out to impress anybody, and everyday is a vacation day.  For a more formal setting, I can always wear something else.

There are lots of father's day sales underway and I was able to pick up shirts from with multiple discounts as they are offering a 40% off sale on their entire site in addition to their sale prices.  This is great for me as I will not be able to get this kind of clothes in the land of smiles due to size and style limitations.  Here is the link to their site:   Don't worry about ordering as they are a division of Perry Ellis International.  Tommy Bahama and Orvis also has many shirt styles made from linen and they can be pretty cheap on eBay. Will test a couple of  them the next few days in the warm weather we are getting.

The Tommy Bahama Beachy Breezer

That's it for now from DubNation  Have a wonderful weekend.