Friday, March 31, 2006


I'm off for a week in Laos. I will be touring the dark innards of southeast Asia for a while and posts here will be limited. However, I hope to be seeing the internet once or twice while I'm up there, and maybe I'll get some posts up. Pictures will come afterwards though, so if you read a post once, come back after a week to see if any pictures got added after the fact.


UBC Sports

The one thing I find most annoying about cable television in Thailand (besides not having Comedy Central, that is) is the sports channels. We have six on UBC: SUPS, SPRT, ZOCC, ESPN, PLUS, and ACTN. All of them are futbol 24 hours a day, 7 days a week... when they aren't having wrestling, that is. Well, OK... there is a lot of golf too, but that seems to be limited to "The Brunei Classic" and "The Malasian Open".

Friday Cat Blogging

It may look like an action big-stretch-with-a-yawn photo but this is actually a still life.

Smart Kid

One of my spare-time hobbies is designing houses. When I was 8 or 9 years old, I was pretty certain that I was going to grow up to be an architect. I never became an architect, but I still love to fill my spare hours designing houses. I've got about 6 or 7 in my portfolio, each one taking about 200 to 300 hours to finish (the first draft that is, redesigns taking slightly less time). All of them are probably award-winning designs if somebody besides me ever saw them.

So with my vacation time, I sat down with Corel Draw and put in the last 20 hours on my most recent design.

Pot came in as I was doing the final bits and pieces of landscape ideas by moving crude green blobs that represent trees around the amorphous blue blob representing a fish pond.

"I like big trees next to the water," he said. "What is that? A table?" he said, pointing to the orange circle with four crescent circles around it.

He knew from before that I was working on a house on my computer for the last couple of days, but I had never explained to him what any of the lines, colors, or shapes actually meant. Grasping the concept of abstract design from an abstract point of view (i.e. looking straight down into a ceiling-less room) on a 2-dimensional field and interpreting the reality it represents is, I assume, pretty good for a 4-year-old.

I tested him, and he was able to find the beds (orange rectangles with another orange rectangle representing a pillow), but unable to find the cars in the garage (3 large grey rectangles side by side). He didn't get the windows (gray rectangles set in the black line of the wall) on the first try, but did on the second dry. I didn't know how to say stairs in Thai, so I don't know if he got those right or not, but he seemed pretty certain on what he was saying.

Pui says that Pot is quite intelligent, but I'm not sure how many mothers would label their kids even "average", so I didn't give it much thought, but I have yet to observe Pot (with my limited grasp of what he is saying) do anything that I would consider stupid for his age. That, added to his observations of my design this morning, certainly make me think that he's no mental midget.

Thai BBQ

Pui had a day off yesterday, and she ordered Thai Bar-Be-Que delivery. It's pretty cool, as the guy on the motorcycle sidecar pulls up with the bar-be-que pot already blazing hot. For $6, he delivers the pot, a bag of charcoal, about a quarter-bushel of vegetables, lard, sauce, and about a pound of pork, shrimp, and other meats.

Thai bar-be-que is a clever thing: It's a fire pot (charcoal in top half sitting on a slatted floor, with an air-flow chamber underneath) about the size of an average bucket upon which a steel contraption that I liken most to an oversized and flattened orange juice maker... you know: The plastic cone-shaped gizmo that you grind the orange down on top of and then the juice from the orange collects in a trough around the cone.

You place a piece of lard on top of the (much flatter than the orange juicer cone, so we'll call it a) bulge, which is heated by the fire underneath and melts and sizzles downwards. Around and below the lard, you place pieces of meat on the bulge. You fill the trough with water, which is also heated, and the meat drippings enter the water in which you also place vegetables, fish, glass noodles, eggs, whatever.

Then, everybody sits around with chopsticks, and turns the meat, stirs the vegetables, and then serves themselves into a cup in which they put a little bit of everything plus some spicy sauce, and essentially nibble the night away.

My only (in fact every farang's only) problem with Thai bar-be-que is the fact that you are eating hot and spicy food while sitting around a radiating heat source and steaming water in Thailand's 90º heat. I was out the other night to do Thai bar-be-que with the guys from, and when I got home, I was able to literally wring out my undershirt and make a nice cascading splash in the grass outside.

Still though, once you have found what combination of meats, vegetables, noodles, and sauces works for you, it is pretty tasty. Just make sure you have a Thai person to handle the culinary duties while you stay at a distance and handle the gastronomy duties.

Chrome Pole Report

Last night was Bob's wet T-shirt contest finals. It was nice to see all the pretty ladies, that was for certain, but since I had Pui with me, I was a little bit more time conscious than at the previous weeks' competitions. We arrived when the doors opened at 5:00, expecting a 6:00 starting time. We ordered some of Bob's food from the kitchen and had a couple of drinks. At 6:30, 30 minutes after the show was supposed to start, Pui started getting restless, so I told her wander down to Boot's to buy skin care products for herself while I chatted with the guys.

At 7:30, Pui and I (and everyone else) were wondering "WTF??"

Just before 8:00, 2 hours late the show finally started. The first round of 15 girls took about 30 minutes. Then there was a 30-minute break. In previous weeks, after the first round, finalists were chosen, and from those girls a winner was picked. This time however, as 9:00 was arriving, Bob said, "OK! Now time for the SEMIfinals."

About half of the bar paid their checks and left, including Pui and I.

No offense to the girls whom we left dancing on the stage, or to the Wet T-shirt contest itself, which was fun, but sitting in a bar for 4 hours and then finding out the show isn't even half over, is asking too much of me. The Academy Awards don't take 4 hours. Bob told us he was waiting for some of the girls to show up, but I think asking 200 people to wait for 2 Thai girls to get their asses out of bed so that they can have the opportunity to win a big pile of money is kind of stupid.

I'm sure if Bob took a vote, 99% of the people in the bar would have told him to forget the contestants who couldn't even manage to arrive 2 hours late, and to start the show.
I can't wait for the wet T-shirt contests again next year. But if next year's contests are as late as this year's were, I'm not going to wait.

Cool Dude

I met an interesting guy last night at TQ2, an American named Josh, who is a doctoral student in anthropology/linguistics at Yale, and is doing his studies in... inside Burma. Talk about a guy you can spend hours chatting with!

Wednesday, March 29, 2006


Pot seems to have adopted me, as it were. I'm officially his walking guidebook now. I gave him grape juice, but he didn't like it until he saw me drinking it. Chocolate milk? It's all he asks for now. I ate hamburger and potatoes the other night for dinner. Now Pot marches into the kitchen and demands Go serve him beef-only meals: "Shop neua!"

Of course, I have to be careful now. I made Pot and myself breakfast this morning: Eggs sunny-side up with toast. I finished eating, and then ran my index finger along the outer edge of the dish to wipe up some last egg yolk and lick it off, and then looked up to see Pot with his own index finger plugged square in his gob. Oops.

Now Pot likes to smack me with pillows... but that's because I do the same to him. He actually makes better Batman-esque "spoosh-boffo-whap" sounds than I do. He will sit for hours with a cat on his lap petting it while watching cartoons, following my lead. He runs around the house without any pants on... err... heheh... don't know where he got that from. He climbs onto my bed after lunch to try and take a nap with me, but gets bored after about 4 or 5 minutes, and runs off... but he gets credit for the effort.

So I'm going to have to get used to this parental authority figure thing. That really sucks, because it means that I can't tell Pot he is limited to one glass of chocolate milk per day, and then get caught not applying the same rule to myself. (Not that I won't have several glasses of chocolate milk per day... get real.) It means that I have to limit my childish behavior to places where Pot can't see me. That really stinks too, because picking my nose while watching cartoons was a highlight of my day.

Red Bull Buzz

In one session the volunteers consumed this amount of alcohol alone, and in another they drank it mixed with Red Bull. In a third session the subjects consumed the energy drink without any alcohol.
Souza-Formigoni and her colleagues found that volunteers in both groups felt they had better motor coordination when drinking alcohol mixed with the energy drink than when they consumed alcohol alone.
But in a test of motor skills where subjects had to transfer pegs on a board, those drinking alcohol mixed with an energy drink did not perform better than those who drank the alcoholic drink by itself.

Hey: Drink Red Bull with your vodka and you feel less drunk. That's the news here! (Of course, "Lipo Sang Som" has been a staple around garishly-painted cement picnic tables on Pattaya sidewalks for years now. If you're 75 years old, and it is 2:00 in the afternoon and 98º in the shade, how else are you supposed to drink a liter of whiskey and stay conscious? These are legitimate and reasonable questions in this town.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Taste Testing

So... first there was Pepsi Fire, which tasted exactly like advertised: Pepsi, plus some unknown chemical that caused burning and throat irritation. That, obviously disappeared from store shelves rather quickly.

Now, there is Pepsi Latte, which tastes exactly like advertised: Pepsi and milky coffee flavor. No burning thankfully.

Actually, it isn't too bad. Buy a can and try it. I'm not going to make it my beverage of choice, but it's something I could buy from time to time... kind of like "Fanta Red"... when I'm feeling like a 14-year-old computer nerd... kind of a "Mountain Dew Code Red" substitute.

OK... obviously I'm trying a little too hard to be entertaining today. Sue me. See what happens whe you give me paid time off???

Translating Burmese

"Burma has staged its first official ceremony in its new administrative capital with a massive display of military force."
Burma has a new capitol but wants to show that building it didn't bankrupt its military... just in case you were getting any ideas.
More than 12,000 troops took part in a parade in the capital, near Pyinmana, which was officially named Naypyidaw or "seat of kings" on Monday.
The army marched under order of the Burmese junta, who consider themselves kings, and named the capitol after themselves.
It is not clear why the secretive ruling junta moved the capital from Rangoon.
The secretive ruling junta were too embarrassed to admit that they thought moving the capitol inland 500 miles would put them out of range of American cruise missles.
State TV only showed footage of troops, rather than of the capital itself.
State TV made sure that the Mon separatists wouldn't know where to target their mortars.
Monday's parade was to mark Armed Forces Day which commemorates the Burmese military's uprising against the Japanese during World War II.
Fortunately, Burma has many holidays in which to parade its military around so as to intimidate the population.
Addressing the troops, head of state Than Shwe said the country needed a strong military during its move to "disciplined democracy".
The ruling military dictator said that the country needed martial law during its move to a democracy where nobody opposes the military.
Burma has not had a constitution since the junta seized power in 1988.
(Actually, this seems to translate quite well into English, doesn't it?)
In his address, Senior General Than Shwe said the military was striving to create peace and stability so that a multi-party democracy could exist.
The ruling military dictator said that as soon as all of the people struggling for democracy in Burma have been killed or sent to prison, the military dictatorship will allow people to vote to keep the military junta in power.
"The people, together with the military must also strive hard to build a modern, developed state where disciplined democracy flourishes," he said.
The people must obey the miliary and perform slave labor growing lots of heroin and making amphetamines for export so that Burma has money to build new capitols and kill the Hill Tribe people.
Burma has pledged to allow democracy under strong pressure from its neighbours as well as the US and other Western powers, but has so far failed to deliver.
Burma has been doing exactly what it planned to do from the very beginning.
The State Peace and Development Council abruptly announced in November it was moving the government to remote Pyinmana, 600km (373 miles) north of Rangoon.
The military decided that they were going to be the next North Korea (with only one-percent of the miliary strength), so figured that a purpose-built, well-protected inland capitol was the way to go.
Than Shwe made no mention of the capital in his speech on Monday.
Than Shwe didn't mention how stupid this was in the age of modern warfare in his speech.
The reasons for moving the capital are unclear. Some analysts point to a paranoia among senior military figures that they might come under attack, potentially from the United States, and that a location further from the coast is strategically safer.
Some analysts point out that the Burmese government, in general, is retarded.
But others suggest the military leaders are simply repeating the habits of the Burmese kings in pre-colonial times who built new towns and palaces on the advice of fortune tellers.
But others suggest that the Burmese government is, in fact, retarded.
Civil servants, who received a sharp pay increase at the weekend, complained on Monday about poor infrastructure and boredom, Reuters news agency reported.
Civil servants are the same all over the world, even in fucked-up Burma.
"I'll probably save some money if I stay here. I'm single and I'm not after any amusement or pleasure," Ko Soe Aung, a clerk, told the agency.
"Burma sucks," Ko Soe Aung, a clerk, told the agency.
Some top-ranked officials will see their salary soar more than 1,000%, according to a document circulated to various ministries.
Realizing that before their lives are up, they will probably need to flee Burma to escape being lynched, the military dictators are saving up for retirement in Beijing.

Translated from the Burmese found here.

Vacation Daze

This is weird. When I'm working, I go to bed at 10:00 at night, the alarm goes off at 6:00 a.m., and I swat the snooze button and then manage to crawl out of bed by 7:30 or 7:45, feeling like I'm 80 years old. Now, when I'm on vacation, I go to bed at midnight, without settig the alarm, and I wake up at 8:00 on the dot feeling great.

It's only 2 days into my vacation, and I'm already Jonesing a little to work. That's probably because I'm wandering around my house saying, "You have to do something!"

So far, "something" has consisted of sitting by the pool, sitting in the pool, sitting in front of the TV, sitting in front of the computer, sitting in bed. I hope my company is proud of me. It's a good thing I'm getting paid for this shit.

Computer Upgrade

Oh... and thanks to my company, I now have to buy a new home computer: I figured I would buy a video game to keep myself occupied and found that my all-time favorite game, Civilization, now has a version 4 out. I cannot tell you how happy this made me... for 20 seconds, until I read the system requirements, and found that it won't run on Windows 98. (Yes... my home computer doesn't (didn't) need to be upgraded, because the things I do on a computer haven't been upgraded since 1998. C'mon... that makes sense, doesn't it?)

I mean, why anybody buys a new computer (until Civilization no longer recognizes your operating system, of course) is beyond me. I'm a computer professional... used to be at least, and I am telling you that (aside from play Civilization 4), I can do everything on my computer that somebody with a new computer can do. Well... OK... I can't burn a DVD of Pook's wedding, but that's a hardware issue, not operating system. I can take video from Pook's wedding and e-mail it to my buddy who has the proper hardware. So there.

Hell: To tell the truth, I still don't need to buy a new computer... just a new motherboard... and upgrade the operating system. Well, okay... with a new motherboard, I need new memory, and a new processor. If I'm going to upgrade the operating system, I might as well do it on a new, larger hard drive (while keeping my secondary "D" drive as is). It's a 50/50 (more like 75/25) likelihood that my old, but special dual-monitor videocard doesn't have an XP driver, so that likely will have to go as well. Hey... I'll be able to keep my old keyboard. So at least I save on that bit.

(Yes, I recognize that this is an exceptionally boring post, but that is because I'm writing this post to myself and not my other readers. I'm allowed to do that from time to time according to the rules which I just made up.)

I think I'll buy a new computer. With a new monitor and everything. I'll keep the old computer with my music libary and porn collection around, but back everything up to the new computer as well for redundancy. I think I'll buy a new computer and just put Civilization 4 on it, because truth be told, that is the only reason I'm buying it.

Now, for those of you who made it to the end of this boring post, could somebody loan me $2,000 please?

Monday, March 27, 2006


What I would have chosen for my last meal when I was 18 years old: Broiled scallops, Mountain Dew, and cheese cake. What I would choose for my last meal today: Lobster tail, chocolate milk, and tiramisu. I've grown so much as a person since then.

Pot and I have just overdosed on chocolate milk and Kit-Kat bars. I'm so sugared up my sinuses are tingling. I can only imagine where Pot is at right now.

Sunday Dinner At Tony's

Big Tony invited me and Pui out to his house for Sunday dinner, English style. Stan drove us out since it is sort of too far to go by motorcycle... and definitely not a place you can find on your own without really good directions.

There were 6 couples for dinner, and it was easily the best dinner I have had since Christmas dinner at Bob's (and potentially better... shhh).

There was a monstrous roast beef with broiled potatoes and carrots, plus an astounding stuffing and Yorkshire pudding. A dark, thick gravy over all of it. There was cauliflower in cheese too. There were 4 or 5 other dishes that I never got to see because I "tucked in" while things were still getting set out, and I loaded my plate with what I mentioned above, and was too stuffed to get back for seconds. Then, there was trifle, and apple crisp with vanilla ice cream for desert. (The Thai girlfriends, of course, sat on the kitchen floor and made their own food as they chatted in their own language.)

After that, we all had an hour-long soak in the pool.

Pui hit it off quite excellently with Stan's wife, Mem, and Tony's wife, Pui. They all sat around on a mat on the kitchen floor sharing photos, listening to Thai music, buk-bukking away at the pappaya salad... and when all else failed, retiring to the living room, pulling out the Thai comic books, and reading them together.

As any expatriate will tell you, any successful bicultural couples social function always occurs the same way: The men sit around and drink beer and chat out front while the host gentleman (and his staff) handles the farang food preparation in the kitchen. The Thai ladies all retire to the back porch or the kitchen floor to chop vegetables and chat. The ladies have their meal in their own room when their food is ready. The men have their meal in their own room when their food is ready.

Every once in a while... every couple of hours or so, that is... it is the duty of the man to get up, wander back to the kitchen, and stand behind his girlfriend so that the other girls can see how caring he is, and the girlfriend can talk about out how chubby her boyfriend is getting, or point out the new shirt she picked out for him. If the man knows some Thai, he'll make a remark or two in Thai and all the other ladies will murmur their approval, and the girlfriend will be very proud.

Every once in a while... every 15 minutes or so, that is... it is the duty of the woman to wander out to the front patio to make sure her man's drink isn't empty, that he hasn't spilled something on himself, doesn't need first aid, more cigarettes, or just a gentle pat on the shoulder. Then she will stand for a minute so that the other men can see how caring she is, and the man can talk about how they are planning a trip to Singapore together, or building a shed out back for the in-laws. The woman will say something like, "Darling, you look very hot, can I get you a cool towel, or would you like a cup of tea?" The other men will murmur their approval, and the boyfriend will be very proud.

After the party, Stan and I, Pui and Mem, went back to Stan's house. Stan and I left the girls to watch TV and chat, while we went out to TQ2 for about 5 rounds, and then over to Champion where I was told we would only have one drink. What that actually meant is that Stan would buy us one drink. Then Jew, the owner, would buy us one drink, then Stan's friend would buy us one drink, and then Jew's friend would buy us one drink.

Fortunately, Pui called me as the fourth round was getting set down in front of me (I hadn't finished the second, or started the third yet). "Where are you? Mem wants to go to sleep. I want to go home."

So, already exhausted, full of food, full of beer, I made my excuses and called it a night, went and picked Pui up, and went home.

Pui was funny when she got home. She was so excited to have made some new friends, her mouth was going a mile a minute in incomprehensible English. "My friend you like want Pui go poong nee eat tomorrow OK no problem she talk Stan eat fishing too much sanook MAHK!"

I numbly nodded my head into the pillow and turned off the light. I could literally hear Pui's brain working as I fell asleep.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Quiet Night At Home

I had Stan, Rick, and Mike over for a "Jil's Lazy Saturday Night Boozer", and between the four of us, we put away a bottle of vodka, and half a bottle of gin... and my entire stock of tonic water. We talked mostly about things like how unlucky Stan was to have owned 4 different brands of car... Ford, Vauxhall, Range Rover, and Nissan, and after he rolled each one, he couldn't get any of them to immediately restart. (Rolling over, of course, is just part of life.) We all agreed that there is a conspiracy amongst car manufacturers that they have installed a switch that disables a car once it has been upside down, because our mechanical minds couldn't come up with any other answers.

It was a beautiful night for a soak in the pool also, with the water and air temperatures being each just about 88º. Rick ate all my olives, Mike ate all my cheese, I ate all my chips. Stan wasn't hungry.

The party broke up at 11:00, and I was asleep by midnight... the first night of my 2-week vacation.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Late Night Thai Television

I just got done watching "Takeshi's Castle" otherwise known as "Japs Breaking Their Ribs show". First Iron Chef and then this. Why America isn't overrun by Japanese television is beyond me. Sailor Moon? Boo-yah.

Now "The Jeff Corwin Experience" is showing on Animal Planet. Love the show, love Jeff... but the guy sets off my gaydar a little. (Not that there's anything wrong with that.)

Our Own Colonel Mustard

Mickey, the dog, has killed Khun Khek, a kitten, in the dining room with a candlestick.

That's my best guess.

Unfortunately, if this is true, I can't prove it: No body. I'm guessing that Maid Go, following the Thai premise that all people must be sheilded from bad news, found the carcass and got rid of it before I woke up and saw it.

I'm not upset or anything. That's nature... feline, canine, and Thai. Phibun has hopped the wall because of the dog, so now I'm back to 3 cats, which is cool. I am a little upset that it was one of the kittens, who really couldn't hop the wall at will. I am also surprised that the kitten was able to be caught by the Mickey. I am surpised that mother Pridi didn't tear Mickey to pieces in the process.

Oh well. Now the 3 remaining cats are strictly indoor cats, and we all are making sure that Mickey remains an outdoor dog.

Bob's Website-Be-Que

Bob finally got a website put up. Well... recently, at least, but I don't know exactly when. Anyway, go take a look at the menu 'n stuff.

What a Dick

Seriously. This president will go down in history as either the worst president ever, or will be remembered as the person who represented the turning point in the decline of the American bulkwarks of freedom, liberty, and respect of law and democracy:
When President Bush signed the reauthorization of the USA Patriot Act this month, he included an addendum saying that he did not feel obliged to obey requirements that he inform Congress about how the FBI was using the act's expanded police powers.

That's right. Let me put that simply: President Bush signed a law he says he is going to break.

Let us hope that our next, and all future presidents, don't think that George Bush's actions in office are some kind of precident for policy and behavior in the future, because the things that he does are ruining this country.

I think with this post, I finally went from "loathing current White House policy" to "hating George Bush". He's hurting my country's future, and I hate him for that.

Illegal Immigrants

I'm not against illegal immigrants... technically being one myself. However, the thing that disgusts me is immigrants who (a) can't support themselves wherever they are at, and (b) can't fit in to the local culture.

Yes... I disgust myself.

Well, not as much as others disgust me. But... eww.

If you live in New York, London (or Pattaya) and you're always broke and struggling, and perhaps taking advantage of government and charitible services, then you should go home. If you live in New York, London (or Pattaya) and you can't walk in to a store and say, "I'd like to buy a red shirt please," in your host's language after living here for 2 or 3 years, then you should go home.

(Yes... I specifically gerrymandered those qualifications so that I wouldn't have to leave Pattaya. One of the few things I can say in Thai is "red shirt". Hmm... I wounder if Pui qualifies as a charitible service?)

Friday, March 24, 2006

The Bird's Eye Tourist

With the introduction of Windows.Local.Live, comes the obvious introduction of The Bird's Eye Tourist which directs you to specific points of interest. Click through and you're sure to find something to interest you. (I submitted the Playboy Mansion, in case you see it on the site.)

That Afghan Dude

The crazy Muslims who are prosecuting, and trying to execute that guy who converted to Christianity have made a funny, but honest point about their predicament: If they don't get to kill him, then he probably will have to be exiled... deported, and the United Nations will snatch him up and make sure he gets sent someplace where he will be safe.

Oh... that just sends a lovely message.

Convert to Christianity and you will be exiled... deported... banished from the most messed up, violent, fascist country on earth... and taken care of, and be fed, housed, and kept safe from violence in a pleasant democratic environment.
But Said Mirhossain Nasri, the top cleric at Hossainia Mosque, one of the largest Shiite places of worship in Kabul, said Rahman must not be allowed to leave the country.

"If he is allowed to live in the West, then others will claim to be Christian so they can, too," he said. "We must set an example. ... He must be hanged."
(Here's a suggestion: Stop being murderous religious dickwads and maybe you won't have these problems.)


Will Ferrell doing another awesome Bush spoof.

Click Here.

Friday Cat Blogging

Chrome Pole Report

Bob's final preliminary wet T-shirt contest was last night at TQ2. I was supposed to be a judge, having won a doorprize on Tuesday that bestowed the honor upon me. However, my frat-boy mentality has been wholly and fully pulverized by 20 years of hedonistic living, so that even life's most decadent happenings can barely draw a proper whoop-whoop from my lungs.

Therefore I gave my judging duties to Aussie Owen, a shaved-headed, grey-goateed, bespectacled, chubuscular biker-guy with a big devlish grin and a high pitched voice that is perfect for shouting "I'm not getting off this stage until I've tasted every one of you!!!"

And I chose absolutely right: I had much more fun watching Owen chasing the nude, wet, mortified girls around on stage than I would have from judging a dozen wet T-shirt contests.

The finals are next week. They should let me pick the judges.

Thursday, March 23, 2006


A resident of Pattaya one time tried to tell me what was and wasn't stylish. All I could think was, "Dude... you live in Pattaya. That in itself disqualifies you from making any commentary on style."

You are officially not stylish if you live in Pattaya. In fact, that is kind of the point. You come to Pattaya to be relieved of the burden of meeting "the cool people's" expectations. If you moved here thinking it would make you cool, you are delusional. The only people who think you are stylish for living in Pattaya are other people who live in Pattaya. The rest of the world sneers and looks down their noses at us. (Oh sure... some cool people will come here and visit, much the same way that Upper Eastsiders will drive up to Stowe for a weekend of skiing. But they know better than to actually live here.)

You want to be fat and wear neon spandex? Come to Pattaya. You want to wear a torn beer-logo T-shirt? Come to Pattaya. You want to have a sexual relationship with someone young enough to be your grandchild? Come to Pattaya. You want to serve white wine with your overcooked steak? Come to Pattaya. The cool people would punch you in the nose. We in Pattaya welcome all.

We come here to be losers on purpose, and hang out with other losers like ourselves. We're proud that we couldn't cut it among the stylish. We're rogues from proper society. If that stuff mattered to us, we would still be back paying our country club dues, standing in line at the freshest nightspots, reading Gourmet Magazine, and waiting with bated breath for the New York Times book review to come out to confirm that we are thinking and acting and reading within the prescribed style of the day.

Pattaya is the most day-glo plastic, dust-in-the-corners, un-Mozart, un-Tolstoy, un-cool place you can live, and that is why we are here. Trying to put lipstick on your pig of a life by claiming to be stylish makes you a fool. Relax. It's Pattaya. Fun City. The alternative lifestyle Disney World. The most un-stylish place on the planet.

the world's
frat house.

The Daily Show

You saw him host the Oscars. Now find out why John Stewart was chosen to do so.


Going It Alone

I was going to take Pui with me on my upcoming trip through Laos that I am doing with Rick. Unfortunately, national elections are being held on April 2nd, and unless Pui wants to lose her right to introduce a petition to congress, run for village headmaster, be selected for lunar missions... stuff like that... then she needs to vote.

I like the fact that you actually do have the choice to not vote in Thailand if you are a Thai. You just go to the polling station, get a ballot, and check the "I choose not to vote" box. Nope. That's not a vote. Nuh-uh. Nothing like it. (Ya know, I'm sure there is a song by Rush that would sum this up quite nicely... but I can't remember...)

Well, at least I'll be where the bars are open on April 2nd. Hopefully I can get back into the country after the election.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Speed Demon

The bulk of transcriptionists try to average 250 lines per hour. The faster transcriptionists come in over 300 lines per hour. I'm told (wink wink) that there are transcriptionists out there who occasionally... occasionally... can break the 400 mark.

No... I don't do numbers like this for 2 hours of work very often... but anything under 800 and I'm under my goal. (Not bad for 13½ cents per line plus overtime, eh?) Now, if I could just do 19 more 2-hour blocks like this in a week, I'd be able to take Saturdays and Sundays off.

Bad Dream Bad Mood

Yesterday at the supermarket, I decided to buy one bottle of every flavor of every brand of those gay alcohol-plus-fruit drinks pioneered by the "Barcardi Breezer". I would then drink each one, comment on each in a little review, and post it on this blog.

I made it through 4 of them before switching to a gin and tonic to wind down my evening.

So as I slept last night, all of those chemical flavorings and preservatives gave me violent, funky, angry dreams... the mowing down pedistrians with a big grin type of dreams.

Now I wake up and I'm all chock full of the residue of the mental state of those dreams... and feel like I'm at war with the world for no (real, waking) reason whatsoever. I've got more bottles left to drink too.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Lucky Draw

Out for Tuesday night at TQ2 as per usual... but with Pui in tow.

There is a running joke in my life that I never win the door prize. You know: "Everybody get out your tickets... I'm going to draw the lucky number!!!" That bullshit. I never win.

Obviously this bears mentioning here because the joke has come to an end. I won the door prize. Out of a bunch of wankers holding little yellow tickets, I was the wanker separated from the chaff.

So what did I win? A "judgeship" at this Thursday's wet T-shirt contest. Oh joy. I get to pour water on scantily-clad girls, and then have them do their best impressions of a porn-film star grinding it within inches of my face while they do the tongue-licking-the-teeth-I'm-sexy thing. Puhleeze.

I'm a tape-measure-and-sextant type judge. It's a wet T-shirt contest. If they're large, and are pointing north, you win honey. Keep the rest under wraps thanks. I'm not here to judge your cervix for chrissakes.

What the fuck did I put my hand up for, holding that little yellow ticket? I could have just kept my head down. Steve would have picked another number. Some guy who gets his jollies from playing the sexual predator in front of 200 other sexual predators would have gotten his shot at glory.

And Pui? "Yay darling! You won!" Bless her little heart. Maybe I'll have her be the goddamn judge in my place.

Seriously man... this is the kind of stuff you wind up bitching about if you live in Pattaya for too long. Yes... I know... you wish you had my problems. Feel free to remark on "being in my shoes" in the comment section.


I was supposed to quit smoking about a year ago, but instead found the next best thing.

I decided I would try to quit by using one of the new prescription drugs, Wellbutrin (sold in Thailand under the name "Quomem" without a prescription).

Now, I've found an exceptionally cozy middle ground: On this drug, I smoke as much as I want to. Whenever I crave a cigarette, no problem, I just light up.

Two-and-a-half months ago, I bought a carton of cigarettes, and I still have 2 packs left. Yup: I probably smoke 2 to 4 cigarettes a day. Even out at a bar, surrounded by smokers, drinking, intoxicated, I still have no super desire to smoke.

I enjoy my cigarettes now. But, unlike before, I have to make a conscious decision to sit down and take a smoke break... whereas it used to be that I would look down, and realize that I had smoked half a cigarette, and not remember having lit it because it was just a reflexive habit to light up that required no thought.

Maybe I'll quit completely some day. Most likely, with this drug, I'll just forget to smoke a cigarette for a few days, and then finally give it up for good. Yup... it works that well.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Quote Of The Day

Damn. We're probably the only two people in the world combining soul-searching with Thai language lessons and critiques of porn downloads. (Refrain from West Side Story swells in background, "There's a place for us...")

Steve Rosse, accurately summing up every e-mail we've ever written to each other.

Woof Over Your Head

Mike told me, "Mickey never goes inside... he knows better."

Not quite true. Mickey just knows that there are some places that he gets more trouble than it is worth for entering, and that is defined as "inside."

For Mickey, "inside" is defined as the place where claws, teeth, tan fur, and a banshee-like feline howl come crashing down on his head from heaven above. He won't go there now.

However, my office, lying down behind my chair as I work... that apparently isn't "inside" for Mickey, as he is lying there as I type this.

The kitchen, where all the yummies are, accessible by the back entrance... that's quasi-inside. The chance of getting some food makes the "more trouble than it is worth for entering" part come into play, and it is a 50/50 wager as to whether Mickey will put up with a sound thrashing from the cats in order to score some scraps.

The Rock

by Steve Rosse

Last Sunday I celebrated my fourth wedding anniversary, and by a twist of fate, my wife Mem celebrated hers on the same day. To mark the occasion I invited myself to enjoy a cigarette and a beer in my hammock on the porch; Mem invited nine monks and everybody we know to come drink Chinese tea out of jelly glasses and chant the dharma in our living room. There’s a word in Thai for people like Mem. My wife is "wer", or "too much".

All day Sunday I moved furniture, scoured floors, swept cobwebs from ceilings, brushed grime from mosquito screens, washed windows, and stretched a piece of cotton string all the way around the house. Mem supervised. You can’t imagine how much work is necessary to make a room look empty and plain. You also can’t imagine how much lizard dung is hiding in the corners and crevices of the average Phuket living room. Finally we set up a large Buddha shrine, borrowed form the local temple. We laid a series of nine cushions on the floor in front of it, placed an enamel spittoon next to each cushion, and we were ready.

Click here for the rest of the article.

Shortly after 7 am on a Sunday morning the monks arrived in a brand-new Isuzu van. The edges of the living room, all the dining room and half of the yard rapidly filled with kneeling neighbors and relatives, hoping to earn a little good karma at my expense. Our front porch was covered with a knee-deep drift of shoes. As Mem lit the candles to begin the service, I took my place next to her, and as the first words of namoddhassa filled the house I realized to my horror what a predicament I was in, seated cross-legged in front of the monks, in the center of the first row of worshippers.

And thus began my time in hell. Chanting in Pali is no great feat; anybody can rattle off phutham saranan gachami after just a few minutes of study. It’s sitting on the floor that separates the monks from the boys, and within five minutes I was numb from the knees down. My thighs, hips and latissimus dorsi were pure fire. Being in the front row, there was no way I could get up and stretch without ruining the mood for everybody in the room. I’m not sure it it’s a sin to walk out on the dharma because your feet are turning purple, but embarrassing my wife while she’s showing off her piety and profligacy definitely is. I was determined to suffer mortification of the flesh, and possibly gangrene, rather than spend the next month sleeping on the sofa.

The monks were droning, the neighbors were wondering what the bedrooms look like, Mem’s aura was disrupting local radio and I had developed a twitch in my left eyelid when whatever Gods there be must have decided that I was an evil old sinner, because they knocked me another circle deep into the abyss. My son Andy, fruit of my loins and light of my life, escaped from the nursery and came toddling into the living room. Clutching his stuffed clown he snaked his way through the crowd to where his father’s head stuck up like a bespectacled sunflower in a sea of black poppies and plopped himself down into my lap. He got Mr. Clown comfortably settled into his own lap and stared seriously at the wall of orange and brown cotton sheeting in front of us.

Suddenly, there was feeling in my feet again. Not a good feeling though, more of a first-step-into-the-Jacuzzi, walking-on-coals, we-have-ways-of-making-you-talk feeling. I wanted to scream, I wanted to throw my son out of the window, I wanted to die. But out of the corner of my eye I could see that Mem was watching me, with a fierce maternal pride shining through her religious ecstasy. In fact most of the people I could see were watching me, and despite the Buddha’s tenant that emotion is illusion, they were all smiling as they chanted.

I guess we must have made a pretty heartwarming sight, the sort of thing that Norman Rockwell would have painted if he’d been Thai. The tableaux had everything that makes a good Christmas card; family bonding, religion, a rosy-cheeked child clutching a plush toy. Only the inside of this card would have read, "Please, kill me now! For the love of God, stop the pain!"

The sweat was rolling down my back and my triceps were shivering with the strain of holding up my two hands. I realized that my palms were pressed together so hard that there was no blood left in them; when I relaxed all the knuckles popped at once. Andy seemed happy where he was, and in no hurry to move on. The numbness had progressed as far as my coccyx, and the pain was shooting straight up my neck. There was a singing in my ears unconnected to the chanting on the material plane.

And just as I was sure that I was going to pass out, proof of the loving nature of the almighty came with the words "satu...satu...satu" and around me the crowd rose elegantly to their feet. Andy jumped up and I began trying to massage some circulation back into my legs without pointing my feet at anybody in the process.

Finally I was standing erect, wobbly but not in imminent danger of collapse thanks to a firm grip on the front door frame. I was going to wade through the shoe dunes out onto the porch for a smoke, but Mem called me into the kitchen instead, where she handed me two trays. "Time for the monks to eat," she said. "Start taking these into the living room."

I spent the next half-hour moving back and forth from the kitchen to the living room on my knees, balancing trays of boiled rice in one hand and dim sum in the other. Mem tells me it’s an honor to serve the monks. If I were any more honored, I’d be crippled for life.

Out For Dinner

The day Pascal moved into the house down the street from me, I told Pui that on her next day off, we would go to Casa Pascal for dinner. I go there about twice a year... last time was last November. It's far too expensive for regular feedings.

So last night Pui and I went to Casa Pascal for dinner. First we went and played some pool at MegaBreak on Soi Diana. Then we got stuck at a beer bar for about 90 minutes during a torrential rainstorm.

I bought a bottle of knock-off cologne, which is the new article du jour that the vendors are selling. I bought some 'Cool Water' at the Cambodian border last month which isn't too bad, and picked up some 'Drakkar Noir' at some other place, which was about the same. This time I bought 'Joop' for $6, and didn't get a chance to sniff-test it because it was all wrapped up. Eww. (Or as the Thais put it, "Min.")

After the rain stopped, it was off to Casa Pascal. Whenever I take a Thai person there, I always do the same thing: I order food for him or her that I figure she or he will like, and just in case she or he doesn't like it, it is something that I can take and eat myself.

So we started off with a paté and legume ravioli topped with musroom and grape slices. (Way yummy.) Then Pui had pumpkin soup and I had French onion soup. (I wound up eating most of both.) Then I had roast duck with prunes, and Pui had scallops over risotto and mint pesto sauce. (Pui was full by this time, so I got the last third of her entreé as well.)

A $75 meal all told, and I ate 75% of the food. That is more than I am willing to spend more than once every 6 months... but oh-so-enjoyable.

Then, at 1:00 in the morning, I puked it all up. Nothing makes you cringe more than paying $75 for a meal except for seeing $50 of splort in the toilet bowl.

I actually think I ate too much, and that is why I tossed. I was seriously, uncomfortably, over-fed from what was essentially 1½ meals at the restaurant. Granted, I'm sure that one of those myriad ingredients disagreed with me, which caused the upchuck, but with my teflon stomach, if it hadn't been filled to bursting, the disagreement down there probably would have worked istelf out without working itself completely up and out.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Heart Attack

Question: For the average person who is terrified of bugs (and only bugs), what is the difference between going in the pool, not seeing the floating 2-inch black beetle, and having that beetle try to save itself from drowning by clawing its way up your back and onto your head, and going in the pool, not seeing the floating 2-inch black frog, and having that frog try to save itself from drowning by clawing its way up your back and onto your head?

Answer: None. Trust me.

Sunday Dog Blogging?

This is our newest addition, as of today, Mickey.

He is Mike and Reeza's dog, but unfortunately they have moved to a house that does not allow dogs, so Mickey is going to be our guest for the time being. (I've tried to start calling him "Spud", but he's not going for it.)

He's got a nice big booming bark and funnily enough, as I write this, the water delivery guys pulled into the driveway, and Mickey's first "intruder test" went off without a hitch: As Mike promised, nobody comes onto my property without me knowing about it. (Of course, now Mickey is following the water delivery fellow around, tail wagging, wanting to play.)

My overnight security guard is as pleased as punch too: He's doing his rounds with Mickey strutting along beside him, both of them putting on airs, both feeling much more important, and both having much more fun with their job as Jil's Early Warning System®.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Good Idea

The Pattaya International Music Festival 2006 is going on this weekend. Huge crowds at five different concert venues. Quarter million people all told, I hear.

Personally, I stay home and watch the live broadcast on UBC cable. That way, I can just change the channel when I don't like what is on... and I don't know nearly enough about any of the acts to have a clue in advance whether I will like them or not... which is the only way I would stand in a crowd of 30,000 rowdy Thai teenagers in 95º heat.

I have to give credit to the band I'm watching right now, called "Same Same" from Canada. (Twin brothers, boy band-ish.) They decided, "Hey... we don't know if we'll hit it big in North America, so let's hedge our bets: We'll tour Thailand, and heavily market ourselves there, learn to speak some Thai, and sell tons of records."

And that's exactly what they've done, apparently. (I've tried to find a website for the band, but it is impossible to get a relevant result in Google using "Same Same". If anyone finds a website to the band, send it along.) They're not bad at all. They're certainly doing well in Thailand based on the crowd belting out the choruses of all their songs. Good idea for bands trying to break through to the big time: Find a smaller big time.

Anyway, each year, the Pattaya Music Festival gets bigger and bigger... just not in the names of the musicians from overseas. Brittney and Bono are decades away from gracing a stage here. But, it certainly is a stop for all the top Thai artists.

Tomorrow is Pui's day off work... so I may yet wind up at one of the shows. That remains to be seen.

Public Works

It's Saturday afternoon, and they are jack-hammering the street out front of my house. This makes sense since they paved the road only about a month-and-a-half ago.

Birthday Party Tonight

I went to Bob's Bar-Be-Que for lunch today with Pui and Pot. While therem Bob's wife reminded me that Bob's birthday party is tonight at TQ2. No, of course Bob hadn't told me. (But then, I haven't actually had more than a "hello" conversation with Bob in a week or two, so...)

Anyway, I saw Owen the Aussie, another regular at TQ2, at Friendship supermarket on the way home from Bob's. He commented that he hadn't found out about it until he was at the wet T-shirt contest just this past Thursday. So I guess that Bob isn't big on advertising. I was actually going to call Bob this afternoon and find out what he was doing tonight, to see if he wanted to do something. Probably would have found out then.

Of course, it could be that I purposefully wasn't invited. I know how annoying I get.

Friday Cat Blogging

"Ouch. Goddammit! Cut it out!"
"Hey you... can't you do anything about this?"

"I'm Bored"

Friday, March 17, 2006


Tom Cruise apparently strong-armed Viacom in order to keep repeats of the exceptionally famous and funny $cientology episode of South Park from running on Comedy Central.

So of course, here is the obligatory link to the entire episode online.

The episode doesn't mention that $cientologists believe that human life is evolved from clams, hence the picture.

Thursday, March 16, 2006


Every day at 3:00 p.m., 10 million Thai kids get out of school.

Every day at 3:00 p.m., 10 million kids go to internet cafés to play online games.

Every day at 3:00 p.m., my internet goes splat.


As mentioned earlier, Rick and I are going to Laos for a vacation. Therefore, we decided on a vacation planning meeting this evening to hash out the details.

We met up at Mike's Mexican Restaurant for dinner, and then went back to my house to get the general schedule worked out over Drambuie on the rocks. Then, we each sat down at each of my two computers and started internet surfing, to get the details.

So here we go:

We are going to take the train from Pattaya (yes... train from Pattaya) up to Nong Khai (across the Mekhong river from Vientienne), and then spend one day in Vientienne. Then, we are taking a plane (a rickety plane as opposed to a rickety bus) up to Luang Prabang.

(In case you are wondering, the rickety bus costs $4 and takes 11 hours, and the rickety plane costs $60 and takes 40 minutes. You may think that the rickety bus would be safer than the rickety plane until you get a general idea about the mountain roads, and realize that in the event of an accident, both bus and plane will be plummeting about an equal distance to the ground... and one of the vehicles is equiped with wings.)

So, we will be spending 1 day in Luang Prabang, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. (I'm not sure that any other entire fully functional cities have been declared as such by the United Nations, but if you know of one, tell me.) I'm expecting to see the most beautiful city in Southeast Asia based on the reports I have heard. Something like 1/3rd traditional Asian architechure, 1/3rd French-Asian colonial, and 1/3rd jungle.

The next day, we will be flying to the Plain of Jars, kind of the Stonehenge of Asia. The day after that we will be flying back to Vientienne for a 4 or 5 day visit. Then, it will be the train back home. Total of 9 days.

I'm really looking forward to this trip now that I've got some plans put together.

Lunch Break

Pui wanted to buy seafood for lunch. I asked her to bring back some crab to eat too. She came back loaded down with 4 or 5 pounds of live shrimp and crab plus a bucketfull of mini-scallops.

Pui set up the big steamer, and threw everthing in. Apparently I've never been around steaming live crustaceans... otherwise I would have been prepared for the flying. Yes: The kitchen was filled with flying shrimp, with some of them making it as far as 5 feet away from the stove, in huge arcing spasmodic leaps. Oh... the cats were just thrilled. ...and then miffed, as Pui ran to snatch up the errant edibles before the cats could.

We sat down at the dining room table with piles of shrimp and crab (and a big bowl of raw mini-scallops, which I did not eat). Pui, Go, and Pot focused mainly on the shrimp, while I made my way through the crabs.

Crabs in Thailand are rather small, and unless you are into the brains and eggs, the amount of proper crabmeat you get from a single crab is pretty small — a couple of tablespoons at best.

Go and Pui finished their meal and noted that I was still tearing into the crabs and decided to assist, and soon there were 6 hands pulling apart crabs and digging out meat, and the flow of yumminess to me tripled.

Half an hour later, for the first time ever, I pushed my chair away from the table and said, "I am stuffed with crabmeat." I didn't think that could ever happen.

From there, I jumped into the pool to wash off all of the crab spooge that covered me from my eyebrows to my navel, fingernails to elbows.

Then, I flopped down on the deck chair in the shade, and Maid Go (a graduate of the Wat Po Thai Massage Academy) gave me a 2-hour Thai massage. Actually, it was only 90 minutes, as apparently I started snoring, giving Go quite a startle.

I distinctly remembering waking up for about 10 seconds to tell Go to wake me up in 30 minutes so that I could get back to work. I woke up 2 hours later. I asked Go why she didn't wake me up, and she said that I was sleeping, so I must have been tired, so I must have needed the rest, so she didn't wake me up. (In case that confusees you, see Steve Rosse's post below about Thais not wanting to give people bad news. Apparently, "Wake up Jil" qualifies as bad news.

Pot Squat

Obviously, I'm going to have to start having a Pot Blogging day along with a Cat Blogging day. Otherwise my blog is going to become a sugar coated sap-fest of dorky awww photos.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Out For A Beer

Tuesday night is free Bob's food at TQ2... assuming you are willing to start your evening at 5:30 p.m. or so. (The free spareribs, chicken, shepherd's pie, egg rolls, jalapeno poppers, et. al. are pounced on so quickly that unless you are sitting in the bar the moment the food comes out, you won't get any.)

As per usual, it was the everybody-buy-a-round gig. It was my intention to leave at 7:30, but 2 complimentary beers were delivered to me at 7:10, and by 8:00 when I was getting caught up, another, and then another, and then another beer arrived, and I finally managed to be beerless at 10:00.

I had a good time chatting with this fellow Cliff, a retired VP from Payne Webber. He recommended that if I wanted to invest in gold, then I should buy stock in South African gold mining companies, which is clever.

Mr. Magoo, a local Scottish personality showed up as well. Exceptionally amusing guy with this high-pitched, excited voice that made it sound like everything he said was the punchline to a joke that he considered exceptionally funny.

I also chatted with Bruce, a manufacturing exec from Australia who was in Pattaya for the first time, and is already considering a move here. Stan and I advised him on the sensibility of the take-it-slow approach to settling down in Pattaya.

We all were pretty toasted by the end of the evening... and my belly was making sloshing noises from the 2 or 3 liters of beer I had put away. Just another typical Tuesday night in Pattaya, I suppose.


I had Stan and Mike over for lunch today. I made my world-famous pasta carbonara stew-like dish. (At one time, it was a spaghetti carbonara recipe, but I kept adding more bacon, onions and peas, and less pasta, until it was more sauce than pasta, at which point you have to stop calling it a pasta dish.)

Had a good time chatting.

Blondes Have More Fun

The elephants that walk by my house every day on their way to the construction site now have 2 tall blonde girls riding on them instead of their mahouts.

"Hey there handsome... you mind if I drive your elephant to work today? (giggle, hair toss)"

Next thing you know, the girls will be up in Petchabun asking the field hands if they can help get the smelly buffalo out of the watering hole (giggle, hair toss).

Ah well... you can't really argue. It certainly makes for more interesting vacation stories.

Monday, March 13, 2006


Thais could rule the world if they could just figure out a way to harness their ant population for evil purposes.

Anything edible, set down anyplace within the house (aside from the refrigerator or a hermetically-sealed container), will be covered with ants within 20 minutes... 30 minutes if you make a conscious effort to put it someplace the ants shouldn't find it.

We're not talking about just a few ants, mind you, but hundreds of them.

Think about the time frame: Inside of 20 minutes, a single ant has to smell the target meal, zip all the way back to his buddies, explain that he's struck culinary gold, and then muster up an army of the hungry buggers, and make his way all the way back to where the food is.

Fact of the matter is that it happens so often now, that instead of being all grossed out about it, if the dish is still salvageable, I'll do the Thai thing, and just brush the ants away, and deprive them of their party, and finish it all myself.

The Link We've Been Waiting For

Finally, there is an online English-Thai dictionary... and it is no slouch either. (I tried to look up "Saturn" and it actually gave me a translation.)

Anyway, click here for to get all your Thai translating done.

Oh... major drawback to the dictionary is that it doesn't offer any English phonetic spelling, so those of us who have been putting off learning Thai text, perhaps now is the time to start studying.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

The Show Must Go On, I Guess

The Discovery Channel had a show on tonight called "The Boy With A Tumor For A Face" about a young Indonesian boy named Noventhree whose entire face... well... the title pretty much explains it, doesn't it?

Anyway, through 4 operations, this boy improves and the doctors are astounded, and medical observers ooh and ahh about how much his life improves, and from all of the cutting and shaping emerges a little boy.

Then, just after "The End" appears on the screen, a little sign pops up for all of 2 seconds that says, "15 weeks after returning home, Noventhree died in his sleep from respiratory complications."

I don't know... I guess that I've always been led to believe that in shows like this, whatever is being attempted must be successful, because otherwise they wouldn't bother to show it, yes? But then I guess you don't spend all that money to send 3 or 4 camera crews to Southeast Asia for 5 months and not put whatever you get... regardless of the results... on the air, right?

Ah well. "The Search for Bigfoot" is on tomorrow night, and I'm sure that they wouldn't try to dupe me again. Funny that I haven't heard about that discovery on CNN yet.

At It Again

Go's sister is now trimming my hedges. When Steve Rosse mentioned that a guest can ask for anything he or she wants when visiting a house, I don't think he had in mind a set of hedge clippers.

Rick of Margaritavilla, who has been in Thailand for 37 years, puts it best about some of the odd aspects of this culture. He'll shake his head an accentuate each word:

You. Don't. Get. To. Know.

The Rock

by Steve Rosse

I was sitting at the bar of the Pension Grilparzer yesterday, trying to remove a piece of glass from the bottom of my foot with the bartender’s ice pick, when an American woman approached me with a suggestion for my newspaper column. I am always open to suggestions, and since she didn’t seem to mind that I continued to pick at my foot while she spoke I let her have her say. I swear on all things holy that the following conversation is recorded here exactly as it took place, word for word. I wrote it all down on a beer mat so I wouldn’t forget it, and typed it up as soon as I got home.

"When are you going to write about these stupid farang women who take off their bathing suit tops on the beach?" she asked.

"I have," I said. "Actually, I write about it fairly regularly. My readers seem to enjoy it when I write about women’s breasts, in any context at all. Every time I mention a woman’s breasts in the newspaper I get tons of fan mail."

"I hate it," she said, ignoring my response. "It’s so rude. I’m here because I love the Thais, and I feel so angry that the hotels make Thais wait on these rude women."

"Well, I don’t think the beach boys mind it much," I said to my foot, hoping she would go away.

"It’s against their religion, you know."

"Um, no, it’s not." By now I was trying to puncture a vein with the ice pick. Anything to get away from her.

"Most Thai men will become a monk once in their life," she huffed.

"Well, the ones whose mothers make them will," I said. "And when they ordain they’ll find the temple walls covered with murals featuring bare-breasted women."

"What if they’re Muslim?" she countered.

"Then they won’t become monks."

She gave me a an angry look and left me to my surgery. As I dug into my flesh I thought about rules. When I began my newspaper column my wife told me there were three things I couldn’t write about: the monarchy, the monkhood, and her mother. With the exception of the comments above I have observed this rule fastidiously, and haven’t found that it has seriously limited by ability to comment on life in this country.

Click here for the rest of the article.

There are rules of law and rules of polite social intercourse, and even rules of impolite social intercourse, and if he observes them a foreigner can make a nice life for himself in Thailand. Most of these rules can be found in any guidebook: don’t touch people on the head, don’t point with your feet, and don’t bare your breasts in public. But after a few years here every expat has personal rules that are the result of careful observation and a healthy survival instinct.

For instance, I always turn on the light and check the floor for centipedes before I step into any bathroom, even those in five-star hotels. I have never seen a centipede in a five-star hotel, but it costs nothing to be careful. I never eat in restaurants that have strings of Christmas tree lights outside, because nobody in them, staff or customer, really cares about the food. I’ll only order coffee in good hotels or tiny Muslim roadside stalls. I never drink in bars that keep gibbons on chains. I once spent a week in jail, and the only thing that could have made it worse would have been a bunch of tourists feeding me beer nuts and taking my picture.

If somebody says to me, "She’s not like these other girls. I’m going to marry her and send her to hair dressing school," I nod my head and tell him what a lucky fellow he is. But I don’t lend him any money.

I am never rude to strangers. Before I can feel safe insulting anybody, I make certain they have no relatives working in the Immigration Department, Labor Department, Police Department, or the Patong Beach Leather Belts and Silver Jewelry Vendor’s Mafia. In fact, I am only really abusive to my close friends.

And one day out of every month I lock my family and myself into the house with a stack of rented videos and a bucket of barbecued chicken. This day is the last day of the month, known in Thai as wan sin duen and in English as “pay day”. On this secular monthly holiday every man or woman with an employee’s ID badge will finish their shift and embark on a lemming-like drive of consumerism. In the gloom of the evening the women will drive their little motorcycles home with one hand, the other holding a hundred bulky parcels full of plastic and denim and collagen-based cosmetics that obscure their rear-view mirrors and make them drive tipped to one side at a 45-degree angle. The men will spend the evening in some place with Christmas tree lights outside, making adolescent jokes at the expense of a bored sing-a-song girl in a cheap chiffon evening dress and boasting about how much alcohol they can drink. Then they’ll take their buddies home in their brand-new Nissan pick-up truck achieving speeds perhaps in excess of the legal limit but designed to get them home before they fall asleep at the wheel. I never, ever, drive on Phuket’s roads on wan sin duen.

By observing these few, simple rules, I have managed to survive when virtually everybody I knew when I arrived in this country has either died or gone home in economy class, to bad-mouth Thailand for the rest of their lives. I publish my personal opinions in the Kingdom’s best newspaper every Sunday, and with the exception of a dead dog thrown on my lawn, a Kafka-esque interview at the Crime Suppression Division and a threatened lawsuit that came on stationary claiming to be from the Bunnag International Law Office, I have never been in trouble for what I’ve said.

I spend my days performing minor surgery on myself with bar implements and watching the silly European women cultivate melanoma on their breasts, and it’s a very pleasant life. But a person who will complain to a stranger about something as silly as those women on the beach is not destined to enjoy her time in Thailand.

Steve's House

This afternoon, Steve's son's birthday party was going on. As per usual, one gift-wrapped dinosaur-themed toy was your ticket to the beer cooler and buffet table overloaded with ribs, burgers, dogs, chili (and Thai food) from Bob's Bar-Be-Que.

I didn't bother with any photos of the party since it would have basically been the same photos from Steve's last party (his youngest son's birthday). However, Steve did have this new house that he built for his wife out in their yard. "Isaan in Pattaya," Steve calls it. When his wife gets tired of being in Pattaya, she can take the kids and go out to her Isaan-style country house for a while. (Steve adds, "I only get to go to the dog house.")

Anyway, it has it's own bathroom and a bed "nook", air conditioning, front porch, all for much less than you would pay for one of those clap-board slap-together barns that you can buy at the lumbar yard back in the states.

Oh... and Pui loved Steve's fish-and-turtle pond.

We left Pot at home for the party because we didn't think he would have much fun. He really seems to be slow to make friends or get to know other kids... although at Tesco Lotus the other day, while playing video games (i.e. distracted), he wound up chatting with some other boys. So obviously it is possible for him to warm up to other kids.

Pattaya Park

Finally, after almost 3 years in Pattaya, I made it to Pattaya Water Park, in the shadow of the giant tower thingy on top of that whats-its-name hotel. Mike and Reeza were going to join us, but they got floored with a cold, and spent the day in bed. (Well, there could be worse things than to spend a day in bed with Reeza. Spending a day in bed with Mike comes to mind. Heheh.)

Since Maid Go's relatives were at the house, I decided to invite them along instead, making us 6 adults and 1 pint-sized Pot. Total of 650 baht to get in. (At least Pattaya Park doesn't charge a different price for Farangs as compared to Thais.)

It's definitely a nice place to spend an afternoon with kids. There is a monstrous knee-deep pool for toddlers, and an even larger, river-like "flowing pool" (i.e. the pool has a current to it) that is quite nice to just wander around in. There are also 6 water slides, a roller coaster, a monorail, and a couple of other rides to enjoy, but we all took a pass on those.

We brought Pot's innertube and he floated along with me around the flowing pool, and then I set him loose in the toddler's pool where he splashed around having a great time. (It was only a week ago that he was afraid of the water, remember.)

Pui and Go and family brought a big ol' pile of food, and we feasted as well. After 3 hours, we went home. It's also nice because Pattaya Park is only about 5 minutes away from my house. It's a quick getaway for a day in the sun.

Chrome Pole Report

I finally made it to The Blue Lagoon (the gogo club from which so many of Bob's TQ2 Thursday night wet-T-shirt top-heavy contestants come from).

Actually, it's not so much a gogo club as it is a table top club (as evidenced by the mirrored and uplit table in the photo). I wasn't to keen on the 'unsnappable' undwear-skirt combination the girls were wearing because unsnapped, the bikini bottoms hung not at all unlike big saggy diapers.

I went along with Rick from Margaritavilla and Canuk Keith, and while at the club, two more friends of Rick's arrived, making us a party of 5.

One thing I was expecting and was right about was the serving girls (as opposed to the dancers): Very pretty. Two of the waitresses were, in fact, top-shelf gorgeous, and another two were far above average as well.

The dancers were okay, with appearances being about standard for Pattaya: A few real pretty girls, a big middle population in which your own, debateable, personal opinion of beauty is required, and a handful of dancers who are obviously just in it because they enjoy standing on tables.

The one place where The Blue Lagoon scores top points is their music. It's the same technocrap you hear everywhere else, but it is actually being played at reasonable volumes. In other words, with 5 people sitting in a row, the 2 people on either end can actually hear each other talking. (If you're not one to frequent gogo bars, you have no idea what a rare find this is.) That alone makes The Blue Lagoon a top choice in my book.

Now comes the hard part: Finding the place. On Pattaya South road, exactly opposite from Soi Day-Night, is another road. Immediately on the left of that road is Center Condo... impossible to miss as it is probably the largest apartment building in Pattaya. Drive through the parking lot to the far side, and then The Blue Lagoon is hard to miss, with a brightly-lit open-air front area, and a door leading back to the gogo area.

Anyway, I sincerely hope this place manages to hold its own because, much like TQ1 and TQ2, this is a gogo bar which is really not looking for the tourist dollar. This is a gogo bar for the locals, and it is a place that the locals can enjoy.

More Odd Thai Behavior

Maid Go's sister, cousin, and her cousin's husband showed up at the house this morning. The first thing they did after wai'ing me was rake and water the lawn and sweep the front walk.

I don't know... that just strikes me as odd. Helpful... but odd.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

What Is Not Rude In Thailand

Steve Rosse responded to my post below, "Swearing In Thai". He was absolutely right: My post came across as a paranoid screed insinuating that Thai people are a bunch of two-faced brats who do nothing but slip in snide comments at every opportunity. Of course, this is exceptionally far from the truth, and I realize that I was actually suggesting otherwise. Point taken. I post Steve's excellent e-mail about Thai people NOT being rude (although being mistaken for such by us Westerners) below in full:
I'm flattered you thought my suggestions worthy of blogdom, but presented like this they seem to me a little one-sided. I don't know, that blog entry just seems kind of paranoid, like "they're always whispering about me behind my back". It shoud be tempered with the other sign of the coin.

In Thailand, if you fall down a flight of stairs and break your leg, everybody around will immediately break into hearty laughter. They're not making fun of you, they're trying to help you. This is how they greet any disaster, their own or yours. Laughter takes the edge off and makes them feel comfortable, so you see them laughing at funerals, laughing at motor vehicle accidents, laughing when the tourist gets run over by a jet ski. But they're not being rude.

In Thailand, men touch men all the time and women touch women all the time. I remember the first time I visited the American embassy in Bangkok. Outside the front gate was a little police box and two Thai policemen guarding the gate. They only had one chair, and it was a hot day so they had moved the chair outside the police box. One officer was sitting on the other officer's lap. Full uniforms, peaked caps, medals, enormous sidearms, and they're sitting there, one on the other's lap, watching the traffic go by. If a Thai man likes you (speaking to men here) he will grab your arm and knead your bicep, if you're sitting he'll reach over and massage your thigh, if you're walking he will try to take your hand. Same for women, though we westerners are used to women expressing their affection for each other physically. But as a western man we may take all this touching from other men as an invasion of our personal space, and we may be offended. But they're not being rude.

In Thailand, men and women don't touch each other much outside of the home. If you happen to have a Thai girlfriend or a Thai boyfriend, and you go to some romantic but public spot to watch the sun go down or maybe have a meal, and you naturally reach over to take your lover's hand, that lover may recoil in horror, because you're out in public. Even young women or men who make their livings dancing nearly naked on top of a bar will be shy about holding hands with their lover in the public market. But they're not being rude.

In Thailand, many homes don't have chairs. When you visit a Thai home you will be asked to take off your shoes and sit on the floor, and to many Westnerners with the stiff knees, hips, and spines that come from a lifetime spent in chairs, this can be quite uncomfortable. You may know that this family has chairs in the dining room, and you may wonder why they don't bring them into the living room for western guests. The fact is, it simply does not occur to them. And if they heard from a third party that you had been uncomfortable on the floor, and were angry at them for not offering a chair, they would respond, "Why didn't he just ask for a chair?" because in their culture a guest may ask for anything he wants, unlike in the West, where our mothers teach us that to be a good guest we must accept what we're offered and don't ask for more. But they're not being rude.

In Thailand, it is not considered impolite to pick your nose in public. You may be sitting in the bank, talking to the loan manager about getting the money you need to start up your new business, buy a house, or send your son to college, and the bank manager is listening to you while he's got his index finger two knuckles deep in his right nostril. But he's not being rude.

In Thailand, if somebody likes something you have, they will compliment you by asking where you got it and how much you paid for it. If you don't want to tell them, you can say "Paw hai ma", or "my father gave it to me". It's just like "Bai nai?" the ubiquitous greeting, which means "where are you going?" In English this translates as "You! Where you go?" which sounds rude to us but is not intended that way at all. If you don't want to tell somebody that you're on your way to your proctologist's office, you say "bai tiow", or "going for a little holiday". But by asking you where you're going, or how much you paid for your watch or your car or your bottle of Chivas, they're showing a friendly interest and letting you know they like you. Their language has lots of little noncommital answers for use in such situations and they naturally assume ours would too. They're not being rude.

In Thailand, it is considered impolite to ruin somebody's day by giving them bad news. You know how in the West people will rush to be the first person to deliver bad knews? I can remember that on September 11, 2001, there was this guy dashing around the company where I worked, hurrying from office to office, telling everybody that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center. Finally he stationed himself by the front door, catching people as they arrived for work and directing them to the conference room where a TV was tuned to CNN and everybody was watching CNN do exactly the same thing on a global scale, showing the film clip of the first collision over and over and over. Well, Thai society creates people who are just the opposite of that guy in my office. In Thailand, the people go to great lengths to avoid being the bearer of bad news. This means that if you manage a hotel, you may be the last person on the property to find out a guest drowned in the pool, or the electricity went out to the basement overnight and all the wine in the cellar went bad. Your landlord may never tell you a rat was found in the well last week, and your mechanic will let your car throw a rod before he'll mention that worn fan belt. It also means that trying to find out what's really happening by reading a Thai newspaper is a futile exercise. But they're not being rude.

Thai people don't go around thinking up ways to be rude to foreigners, although in a place like Pattaya, or Phuket, or Bangkok, where they have to deal with the drunken, rude, violent behavior of millions of foreigners every year, they may take extra pleasure in being rude right back. But the standards that define what is rude and what is not vary from place to place. Our pride gets offended if we think we're being deceived, if we think somebody is taking advantage of our ignorance to insult us without our knowledge. But life is too short to take offense where none is intended, or to miss a compliment when one is offered. The only way to avoid these things is by spending most of your time in social situations observing, listening, and thinking about what's going on. In any country, in any culture on the planet, the guest who does not dominate the conversation, who learns a few of the rules, and who helps clean up after the party, finds himself or herself invited to a lot of very amazing places.

Vacation Coming Up

I'm being forced to take a vacation. Well... it's a case of either using the 2 weeks of paid vacation days I have, or having them expire on April 25th.

I'm just not a vacation person, I guess. I consider a day off, sitting around the house, a vacation. Going down to Walking Street qualifies as a vacation. Sitting around bullshitting with friends is enough to recharge my batteries. Besides... any longer time away from work, and I start getting all antsy and uptight, feeling like I'm... well... being lazy.

Well, that's all beside the point now. I either let my company give me 2 weeks' pay for nothing, or I work those 2 weeks like a proper workaholic. (No... I'm not that stupid.)

So Rick of Margaritavilla and I will be going up to Vientienne in Laos for a while to check out some property that he bought up there, and then possibly on to Luang Prabhang. From there, depending on how much time I have left on my vacation, and how antsy I am, I may wander over to Chiang Rai, Chiang Mai. I really don't know, other than Vientienne, where I'm going to go.

Well, it will be fun, I'm sure... I hope.

Out For Lunch

Saturday afternoon means out for lunch, and then a visit to Tesco Lotus. Tomorrow is Steve's son's fifth birthday, and as per usual, Steve has enlisted all of his friends to each buy a toy dinosaur in exchange for free food and beer. Thus, it was off to Tesco Lotus for toy shopping.

I've finally decided that each of the department stores in Pattaya specializes in a different thing. Tesco Lotus on Sukhimvit Road is where you go for party snacks, as they have literally 2 full rows of nothing but chips, cookies, and candy. Friendship has the best liquor and pastry selection, while Carrefour has the best cheese and fresh fruit selection. For wine, you go to Foodland, and since Tops is the only place with Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream so far, they get the nod for that.

For some reason, there is a tonic water shortage in Pattaya at the moment. This of course is a borderline tragedy/emergency. Fortunately, I found a whole case of it hiding at Tesco Lotus in the back and grabbed it, so I am safe for the time being. I also grabbed a bottle of Seagram's Gin since all my British friends seem to really dig it, even though I have fancy-smancy Bombay Sapphire on offer at my bar at home.

Oh... also grabbed a kid's size motorcycle helmet for Pot. (Not that I will be any less nervous about riding around with him on my motorcycle, but at least... well... at least.)

Finally, I bought all the Harry Potter books translanted into Thai for Pui to read to Pot. I remember my mother reading bedtime books to me, and figure that it is a nice (and educational) thing to do for Pot.

Then, it was off to Pizza Company where we stuffed ourselves, of course. Then a dip in the pool.

Swearing in Thai

I've been having a correspondence with Steve Rosse about swearing and insulting in Thailand... not because I have any deep desire to engage in such behavior, but because Thai people constantly behave this way towards Farangs (while smiling and wai'ing and being nice), and we Farangs don't realize it 99% of the time.

One of the things which I have heard a lot of, and never recognized as a swear word because it was used all the time in Brazil, where I also lived, was "Ai"... as in "Ai Jil!" In Brazil, that means, "Oh Jil!" In Thailand, it means "Fucker Jil". (The proper response to this, if it is a girl, is "Eee Pui!" (although she has never said this to me), which is the female equivalent of "Ai".)

If somebody, when toasting with drinks, clicks the bottom of their glass down on the rim of yours, you should immediately punch him (or her) square in the nose. Don't worry... nobody will blame you. A bar girl helping herself to your cigarettes without asking is pretty much just as bad.

And if you ever hear a sentence end with "wa" instead of the polite "kha" or "khrap", you have also just been insulted. If somebody exclaims "Ai wa!" to you, well... that's doubly bad.

The ultimate has to do with "you". In Thai, there are about 8 or 9 different versions of "you" depending on whom you are talking to, such as the king, monk, government official, old lady, girlfriend... or slave. The worst way somebody can insult you is to use "mung" instead of the standard "you" word, "khun".

Well, this is just a sampling of what Steve has told me so far. Hopefully he will be sending me more tidbits about how to recognize the impolite Thais that every Farang here runs into every day... but rarely realizes it.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Pot Pool Pics

The pool is finally the right temperature. Pot is floating around in his little innertube and having a blast.


Pui left a huge skin-care (snake oil) product catalogue on the couch in my office. That makes me shudder, because Thai girls do not get more expensive then when they are looking at themselves in the mirror thinking, "I'm just not white enough!"

Out For Lunch

Friday afternoon means out for lunch, and then car shopping. As before, we went out to Reua Mai and had a cheap gourmet Thai meal.

Just a word to the wise though... if you've never eaten spicy Thai food before, and somebody sets this crab with glass noodles dish on the right in front of you... well, you have been warned.

After that, we drove up Sukhimvit road to do some car shopping. Used cars are exceptionally cheap in Thailand... however, that is because they are exceptionally abused by the Thai people who buy them. It's a vicious circle: People never took care of their cars, so used car dealers wouldn't pay decent money for them on trade in, so now no matter how well the car is taken care of, they can't get anything for it on trade in, so there is no sense in taking care of it.

Well, at least the cars are cheap enough that if you get a real major lemon, you won't feel the need to kill anybody over it.

I was looking at a bunch of used BMW 5-series, in the range of 6 to 8 years old, all selling for under $7,000. The only problem is that driving a BMW in Thailand is like driving a Cadillac Escalade in America... homey. Which is actually, as opposed to the reason above, why they are so cheap: In image-conscious Thailand, late model BMWs are exactly what you don't want to be seen in.

One lot was selling a Maserati, but it was a 1993 could-be-a-Ford-Fiesta style Maserati. No thanks.

I saw a really pretty 1971 Mustang (Australian, with the right-hand drive), and was all excited for a moment, but when I popped open the hood, I discovered that somebody had put a Honda straight-6 in it's gullet. So sad.

Well, there is really only one car that I want to buy, but I don't know where it is at the moment, and that is a 1970's-era black Corvette that was sold in Pattaya about 3 years ago. I'm going to go to the Thai DMV to see if I can find it and make the person who has it an offer. I used to have a Vette when I was in college, and I would just love to have another one... especially here in Thailand.

Most likely though, I'll settle on something like the nice Honda miniSUVan I saw. Only 2½ years old, and still under warranty... although the 90,000 km on the odometer was a bit of a put off.

No matter what I buy though, it will be putting a nice buffer zone between my precious typing utensils and a traffic accident... which is a luxury that motor scooters cannot provide.

Friday Cat Blogging

I couldn't get all of the kids to look at me at once until I barked like a dog. Hmm... I probably shouldn't tell y'all stuff like that. Anyway, these cats are displaying "the big thing that gives us food is suddenly making weird noises" look.

The depths I will sink to for these dorky photos knows no limits. I should get paid for this.

Just Call Me Jew

A lot of people wonder how to pronounce my name. Well, it's Jil. I introduce myself as "Hi I'm Jil, J-I-L, Jil." For those of you who don't know why my name is Jil, I'm not going to tell you.

Oh... and to the Thai people, who can't say "L", I introduce myself as "Hi I'm Jew, like Hair Jew."

Yes... Gel and Jew pretty much sound the same when spoken by a Thai.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Chrome Pole Report

Bob's wet T-shirt contest was held at TQ2 again tonight, and again the bar was packed to the rafters.

I am going to officially file a complaint though: If you have a wet T-shirt contest consisting of 12 girls, 11 A-cups and 1 D-cup, you really shouldn't have a wet T-shirt contest, just 11 girls feeling cheated by nature.

However, as I am neither Bob, nor a judge (nor would I want to be due to the X-rated things that judges for this contest feel obliged to do in order to reach a decision), and therefore those people who do have a say in the outcome have made this into an overall beauty / beer bottle usage skill set contest. And therefore, the Thai girl with the blonde hair, stellar body (but little barely-there tatas) won the contest, while Miss D-Cup (yet another Blue Lagoon employee... third week in a row... I've GOT to get over there soon) took second.

Oh well. There is always next week... and in addition the lovely second-place rack will be seen again in the finals competition to be held later on, since all first and second-place winners are invited back for Bob's Big Boob Bonanza.