Sunday, May 23, 2010

I wish people who have trouble communicating would just shut up

Things from previous blogs first. To our left we will find the dash readout that confirms an entry from an earlier post. The tach is reading 1.75. The speedo is reading straight up and down 60 mph. And the trip calculator is showing 33.o mpg for the trip. While I am many things, an embellisher of my gas economy is not one of them.

I am not exactly some kind of save the planet fanatic. But I try not to be head in the sand about things either. I do not have, but would consider an electric car and home solar panels. As long as things perform similiar to what I have now, I am willing to go green. I think about water consumption and try not to be wasteful. I bring my newspapers and drink bottles home from work and toss them in the recycle bin. I don't drive fast or make unnecessary trips to save gas. That, however, is based on a principle of money green as opposed to enviornment green. I do not believe I was put on God's green earth to see how many gallons of gas I could buy. I hate paying for gas, so I use as little as possible. Call it a quirk.

I do not have a canvas bag to carry with me to the store. I am not against them, per se, but I prefer plastic bags. I know. About as un-enviornmentally friendly as you can get. And it means I am, indirectly, buying even more petroleum, which I already said was anethma to me.(Probably too late to try and use the enigma defense, right?) But I have two cats, two well fed cats, and a large litter box. You need a large litter box for large poops. So I find that having plenty of plastic bags on hand at all times is a good thing. Heh heh heh.... he said "large poops".

Wife is still in Bangkok. While the news coverage faded as the troops went back to their barracks, the wife says things are harder for them now than when the protesters filled the streets and squared off with the army. The curfew keeps getting extended. Everything closes around 5 PM. She says finding an open bank is hit and miss. The black market can't get money for the underground money exchanges either. The supermarkets are running low on everything. She says that the only good thing is the trouble was inching closer and closer to her family's home in the Din Daeng area of the city. She is happy that she can see what is going on and talk to her family in real time rather than follow the news on the TV and internet and worry if everybody was alright.

The elusive reindog in mellow repose. What a magestic creature. Few are held in captivity.
Out in the country, about an hour fifteen minutes northwest of Bangkok. I always liked these chicken baskets. Seems I would probably like them less were I a chicken.
Jimmy Buffett sang a song that I often thought about as I wandered off the beaten paths in SE Asia. I'd get way off in the provinces, boots and jeans. And I would have Buffett's "Cowboy in the Jungle" playing as the soundtrack in my head. This shot, however, invokes a different track. Makes me hear "Life is Just a Tire Swing". Word.
The path well traveled.
This little dude was my bud. While he doesn't speak a lick of English, nor I of Thai, he laughed at ALL of my jokes. And you know, that's what I really look for in a friend.
This old farmer come walking across a winding path through the rice paddies, nodded and smiled as he passed by me, and moseyed on down the path towards wherever it was that he was going. As if he passed unfamiliar white guys sitting under the tree smoking a cigar all the time. Cool.
Hey guys, thanks for bringing me here.
This is where my flip flops brung me. Massom's sister was afraid that the farm house was too hot for me, which it wasn't, so she brought me here. She carried a cold beer and told me to hang out here where it was cool and relax while they were fixing something to eat. Couldn't find it in me to protest. KnowwhutImeen?
I had plenty of quiet time to just enjoy my surroundings and to really see them. So here you go. Art shot #1.
Chicken shot #2
Art shot #2
Road shot #1. And, by the way. This is the main road in. Man, I love just meandering the planet, smiling at people and finding places with an everyday sort of cool to hang out in. I honestly feel like a citizen of the world. In a wrinkled, unassuming kind of way.
Teach your children how to think, not what to think, out
Ramblin' Ed

(Only one on YouTube. Sorry. But the song is the point anyway.)

Monday, May 17, 2010

But, like most actors in popular commercials, I became addicted to heroin

I got home on Saturday night and was in bed midnightish. Up on Sunday and out the door for what turned out to be an awesome drive up to Panama City Beach. No traffic. Sunny day. 3 red lights in the whole 350+ miles. And...hold on to your hats...33 mpg in the Lincoln. Whoa baby! I had to snap a pic of the dashboard readout for those of you who would naysay on that. I had the cruise on 60 and the tach sat on 1.75 the whole way.

Along the way I had a few observations.

For some reason, most or all of the good people of Georgia have been in Florida. It was a mystifying thing, but auto tags and "Dawgs" bumper stickers don't lie. I am happy to report, however, that they were all headed home.

I drive through Ocala semi-regularly. At any given time, apparently, most of it is up for sale. 60-400 acres at a time.

While I was in Bangkok, I read a humorous, and suprisingly enough inaccurate, headline in the sports section. It was about the NBA playoffs, or in this case lack of NBA playoffs for the Chicago Bulls. The headline read: BULLS FIRE NEGRO AFTER LOSS. Yep, I found that suprisingly blunt, too. But as I skimmed the story, they were reporting that Vinny Del Negro, the white head coach and former NCSU star, was fired after losing the game and as a reward for a couple of crappy seasons.

CD selection for yesterday's road trip (Like you even care):
Neil Young & Crazy Horse - Weld (Disk 1 with Powderfinger)
Chris Knight - Chris Knight
Drive By Truckers - The Big To Do
Lynyrd Skynyrd - Disk 3 of the box set
Dwight Yoakam - Buenos Noches from a Lonely Room
Rolling Stones - Some Girls

Looks good for my new product line. 5 machines to 3 locations in Colombia. Just sold machines to Egypt and they want factory training both here and on site in Egypt. Yeah! I'm all for that trip. I am about ready for some real globe hopping to commence. I am dang tired of domestic travel and all the crap you put up with from the airlines. Sure, I have been to Canada a few times. But that's only "international" in the technical sense. You know, because they are their own country, eh. But still.... Taiwan was international and while some would find it exciting and exotic, for me, someone who lived so long in Asia, I didn't find it particularly so. I found it boring. So basically, Guatemala was my only trip that took me somewhere I found special.

I have been to Colombia (read my "bio" at the top of this blog) before with the navy. Cartegena, to be exact. But I was with 2nd Fleet or WESTHEMGRU (Western Hemisphere Group) and while it was run OK for a port call, it came with a lot of strings attached. I would love to go stomping through the countryside with a bona fide license to chill.

Left the wife in Bangkok until June 30th, so I got me some quiet time at home. Too bad it's not football or basketball season. I could use a good sports orgy. You know, a big TV, a beer, 9 games in a row. Not a fan of baseball though, so I guess I'll do yardwork and fishing.

Killing for peace is like screwing for chastity, out
Ramblin' Ed

(If You) Hold Me Down Tonight 18 Aug 96

To you I've never been no more than restlessness and lies.
Like lightning bugs in Mason jars, pretty but they can't fly.
Yes, I understand the principle, but baby roll the dice...
Might understand the randomness that simulates my life.
I'll slip into the darkness when that collar gets too tight.
Love, life and lies.

Now beauty, there's no question girl, the world belongs to you.
And a man could go half crazy just to watch the way you move.
How I loved your warmth and tenderness, but could not take the lights
you shined into my eyes to always keep me in your sight.
Yes, I'll slip right through your fingers if you hold me down tonight.
Love, life and lies.

Though we're far removed from strangers, intertwined at morning light.
I can recognize the longing I see hidden in your eyes.
Yes, I understand the principle, but baby I ain't blind...
it's nothing more than randomness that simulates my life.
Now I'm lost between forboding and the fact that I'm on fire.
Love, life and lies.

Yes, I understand the principle, but baby roll the dice...
try and understand the randomness that simulates my life.

Florida Keys

Would you please put some pants on? I feel weird having to ask you twice.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Immorality: The morality of those who are having a better time (Sin is geographical)

Some more pictures to add to the ones from yesterday. Tense night last night, but despite what it looks like on TV, the violence here is minimal and confined to a very small area. It's not, at least for now, very dangerous for tourists. Well, as long as you don't want to get up close for a picture.

There's no such thing as bragging. You're either lying or telling the truth, out
Ramblin' Ed

It's hard to be nostalgic when you can't remember anything

They call it "PMS" because "Mad Cow Disease" was already taken, out
Ranblin' Ed

Monday, May 10, 2010

I don’t have a license to kill. I have a learner’s permit

Well, we are back from the south. Back to the familiar streets of Bangkok and much more sane prices. It had been a while since I vacationed in one of the resort areas (Pattaya, Phuket, Samui, etc) and I had forgotten how shamelessly they priced things. Seems reasonable enough if you just got off the plane from Frankfort or London, but not if you're driving in from Bangkok. A plate of kapow gai is 35 baht in Bangkok and going for 150 baht in Samui.

We went last night to the final night of the 60th anniversary of the King's coronation. Just us and, according to this morning's Bangkok Post, 20,000 of our friends. It was awesome. A good old fashioned street fair, stretching 10 or more blocks, with food, and music, and geehaws galore for sale. The evening ended with a massive fireworks display. We went to 3 different temples to take care of 3 different things that need to be done each year. Not sure exactly what all that we did was for, but the wife was serious and therefore I was there beside her. And her friend, Ouen (like Owen, but with the oo sound).

So, for the first time in my life I got pickpocketed. Well, I have grabbed people with their hands in my pocket before, and always in the Philippines. But I stopped them, so it wasn't really a pickpocketing.
This time, also, I snapped off what was going on and put my hands over my pockets to stop the theft. Unfortunately, I snapped off what was going on after they had cleared out my left side pockets. We were 20,000 strong, remember, and pressed all up on one another. I realized that these teens were getting in front of me and then slowing down on purpose. I thought they were trying to piss me off for a second there. Then I said to myself, "Hey. They may be trying to get to my pockets." I wasn't sure, but it seemed a reasonable assumption given the situation and
surroundings. So I put my hands down over the pockets and kept contact with my wallet (yes- in a side pocket) and camera. Feeling their bulk, I was certian that if something was going on, I was already on top of it.

I did indeed keep possession of my camera and empty wallet. They were in my right hand pockets. What I lost, and I didn't figure it out until 15 or 20 min later, was my iPhone and 15,000 baht. Now 15,00 baht might seem like a lot. And it is. I had just cashed $500 American, which was 15,905 baht. So they got like $480 or so. Little theiving piss ants. But what's done was done, so we continued our evening and still had a great time.

Wife is going crazy because I won't shave and I won't get a haircut. That's OK. Wives need to be defied occasionally. Especially when you're talking the important stuff like haircuts and not shaving. Anyway, I spent $11,000 on this vacation and flew her business class all the way here. She can humor me.

Great "Junior Suite" we got here. A living room, bedroom, kitchenette, and bathroom. TVs and DVD players. In room washing machine. I know! How convienent is it to have a washing machine in the room? It's a place called The Royal President. I did try to explain the irony of "Royal President" to the wife, explaining that in the USA we didn't want a king (Royal) so we elected a leader from the people (President). So the two terms would actually be mutually exclusive. She was typically uninterested in my trivia. Anyway, this place is only costing us $77 a night and includes breakfast every day.

I have 190+ pictures so far, about 16 of them interesting. I will post 1 or 2 with this blog, but I suspect the free WiFi will be kind of slow, and will just wait until I get home to post more of them. (Note: WiFi is fast. Now my only excuse is that right now I'm too lazy)

The government struck a deal to dissolve parliment and hold elections a year early. And also, I think, to re-write portions of the constitution. The protesters said "OK, we'll take that deal and go home". Then they threw in a couple of grenade attacks and bombings and said, "Hang on. We might take the deal or might not, We're still deciding." The police are sympathetic to the protesters and do nothing. The Army is less so, but in Thailand, they try to avoid turning the army out on the citizenry. Which is actually a pretty good thing, if you think about it. However, the Prime Minister has finally given an ultimatum (to be carried out, one supposes, by the Army since the police are openly unwilling) to clear out or be cleared out. That has every chance of being quite violent. And, as a side note, the area of confrontation is only 15-20 blocks away from here. I didn't catch the date the PM gave them until to disperse, but I am hoping it is the day I leave or later. I need to be at work in Panama City, FL the following Monday, and TSA is a good bunch (heh heh...and with a straight face) but might not be inclined to believe me if I told them I couldn't get there on time because I was pinned in by the crossfire coming from civil war in a steamy, SouthEast Asian kingdom.

Have had me some mega pool time. Ouen thinks I am so brown as to appear Thai. Except for the gray beard and goofy smile that is.Fine by me. I have been mostly disconnected from things. Feels good to have no worries, concerns, or time tables. I turned on my work Blackberry so I could charge it. I will need it when I get home to summon my ride home. Anywsay, the fool thing buzzed in my hand for 45 seconds. It was downloading all of my Outlook emails. Somehow or another, I am connected to work. I didn't ask for the international roaming to be turned on. But there it is, bigger'n Dallas-- 3 bars with DTAC TH. I sent a test email just to see if maybe it was cached from my layover in D.C. or something. But my co-worker immediately replied. Weird.

We should forgive our enemies, but only after they’ve been taken out and shot, Out.
Ramblin' Ed

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Internet Service 2 Baht/Minute. Minimum 20 Baht

I will make a lot of mistakes on thisa blog probably. The keyboard sticks a little and I am typing using my fat, sweaty fingers. Sweat is not just beading up on my forehead, it is massively pooling, and running down into my eyes, onto my glasses and down my neck. I am in southern Thailand, on the island of Koh Samui. I think the province is calld Surat Thani, but that could be a city. Or a cola, really, for all I know.

Got no pictures of red shirted protesters, though I snapped a couple of pics of th soldiers and police. It was kinda strange riding the skytrain and passing rifle toting soldiers, in quasi-riot gear, on every platform. There were large amounts of police and soldiers out on the streets, too. Some sandbag fortification, but not much. The only heavy equipment I saw was a single tank dug in outside of what I believe was the television station. But this is Thailand. You party around the unrest and through the coups.So we do.

It took 3 days to get my watch to run. It is one of those Seiko kinetic ones, but I had not worn it for like 2 years. So I basically was just doing things in Ed time until the watch finally seized the plot and began keeping decent time.Wasn't so bad, really. This vacation was all about disappearing from the drudgery for a while. So to that I say, mission accomplished.

Will be seeing you.
Ramblin' Ed