Monday, July 31, 2006

Tar Baby

OK. There is historical justification to call the phrase "tar baby" (defined as a sticky situation) racist, as it was apparently used as a racial epithet some decades ago. But let's be honest, most people, don't know that it ever was derrogatory. They just remember the children's story.

Well, at least it isn't as bad as when people get slammed for using the word "niggardly".

I will admit however that in modern times, so many black people have gotten up in arms because of this specific vocabulary misunderstanding, that now people use 'niggardly' almost as a vocabulary test for black people... fishing for a reaction... so maybe it's become a racist word specifically because it isn't racist. Hmm?

"Excuse me Mr. Black Man? Are you smart enough not to get angry if I say 'niggardly'? OK. Just checking."

Perhaps it's the same thing for 'tar baby'? Perhaps people (like Tony Snow and Mitt Romney, not quite at the forefront of the war against racism) throw it out there because they can clutch their pearls and say, "Racist? Tar baby? My goodness! I had no idea!" Or maybe they really didn't know. Maybe they did. You can't prove it either way, I suppose.

My advice to black people would be — instead of shouting "racist" at Governor Romney — would be just a polite "please say that in a different way next time as we happen to be aware of a definition for that phrase other than the one that you were thinking of which we don't particularly care for, thank you," and leave it at that.

Monday Vinnie Blogging

Define Winning

All that Israeli air power is driving Hizbollah back, right? There is at least progress in this new front in the war on terror, right?

No. Of course not. Yesterday, 140 rockets from Lebanon landed in Israel... the highest daily number to date.

Israel occupied southern Lebanon for 2 decades, and couldn't put a dent in Hizbollah with constant street patrols. Now they think they are going to accomplish Hizbollah's complete destruction from 10,000 feet? Keep dreaming.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: You can't bomb away terrorism.

The one and only solution to terrorism is to simply create a new iron curtain around the Middle East. Cut that entire part of the world off and forget about it. Perhaps in half a century or so, after all the fundamentalists are gone, the Muslim world can be let out of this jail, but until then, let Muslims be the only ones who have to deal with Muslim extremists.

This is why I think that the most important challenge facing us right now is finding a way to become 100% independent of gasoline. Without oil to worry about, we have no reasons to deal with the middle east, no reasons to go there, and no reasons to have Muslims (and the terrorists among them) outside of their countries.

Yes... mine is an extremist view, but it's also a pacifist view as well. You have my option, or you can just keep bombing these people in a hope that one day we will kill every angry person in the middle east.

Even I get a certain cathartic satisfaction hearing about terrorist cells getting blown to bits, and get a chuckle from extremists ranting and raving about "Western decadance" and Zionist conspiracies, but it is all just frosting. No real progress is being made, no damage is being done, no terrorists are being killed who aren't replaced with more terrorists, and most certainly, the Muslim world isn't becoming happier, more peaceful, or easier to get along with.

So, I'll say it again: We should say our goodbyes, make our apologies, close and bolt the door from the outside, and then walk away from the Middle East, and let everyone inside of these no-go places deal with themselves and their own problems in their own way. And, in the end, isn't that what everyone in the Middle East has always told us they've wanted? To just be left alone? Perhaps it's time we listened.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Boring Sunday Afternoon

Saw this quiz on another person's blog, and, it being a boring Sunday afternoon here in Pattaya, took it. Last time I did one of these things, I was something like 51% Republican.

Your Political Profile:
Overall50% Conservative, 50% Liberal
Social Issues50% Conservative, 50% Liberal
Personal Responsibility50% Conservative, 50% Liberal
Fiscal Issues50% Conservative, 50% Liberal
Ethics25% Conservative, 75% Liberal
Defense and Crime75% Conservative, 25% Liberal

That's what happens when we Libertarians try to fit into a Conservative/Liberal world.

That led me to re-take one of my favorite tests:

Your Linguistic Profile:
50%General American English
5%Upper Midwestern

I have no idea where the "Dixie" came from. It wasn't there last time I took it. I must have changed one of my old answers. It's probably Bob's fault.

Your English Skills:

Oh: I also passed eighth grade Spanish with 6 out of 8 (even though I never took Spanish). I passed eighth grade History with 7 out of 8. I passed eighth grade Geography with a 10 out of 10. I passed eighth grade Science with an 8 out of 8 (even with the confusing "neuron" spelling error). I passed eighth grade Math with a 10 out of 10. I passed the US Citizenship test with a 10 out of 10 (although it seemed suspiciously easy).

I am, however, ashamed to say that I only scored 70% on the 80's Music Quiz.

And finally, under "What does your birth date mean?" I got: "You are an island. You don't need anyone else to make you happy. Though you see yourself as a loner, people are drawn to you. Deep and sensitive, you tend to impress others with your insights. You also tend to be psychic - so listen to that inner voice! Your strength: Your self sufficiency. Your weakness: You despise authority. Your power color: Maroon. (Note the color of my blog? Got that one in advance.) Your power symbol: Hammer. Your power month: July. (Shit... I find this out on July 30th?)

Oh well... that ate up a quick 90 minutes. Now on to something productive.

Never Liked Him Much Anyway

Mel Gibson's "peaceful, uneventful arrest for driving under the influence" in Malibu?

Turns out he gave an drunken, beligerent, obscenity-laced, Jewish-conspiracy rant peppered with threats and sexual innuendo.

(Well, that was what was in the original report which police decided was a little too damaging to Mr. Gibson's reputation. They decided to create the "peaceful, uneventful" version of things to help ol' Mel out but... well... oopsies always happen, and the original report (pdf) wasn't taken care of as carefully as it should have been.)

p.s. Anytime somebody says "I was drunk and didn't mean what I said", you should always cry bullshit. Booze is truth serum and everybody knows it.

I was thinking about it, and Mr. Gibson blew 0.12 blood alcohol. That is not that drunk. In fact, that's really only barely halfway to what the average person would consider drunk. (You know: The staggering around, slurred speech, the room-is-spinning-and-maybe-I'll-barf kind of drunk.) In other words, he wasn't so far gone that he didn't know what he was saying.

Well, you tell me: If you drink approximately 4-6 beers (depending on your weight), are you so smashed that you could "accidentally" say things that are completely socially reprehensible (especially when surrounded by half a dozen law enforcement officers)? Would you be that messed up?

Mel Gibson is a man with much more than alcohol on the brain.

Out For The Evening

Mike, Riza, Pui, and I joined Mike's friends from Australia, Alan and Bryan, for a nice evening at Vientienne restaurant (fast becoming a regular hangout for me, as this is the third time in as many weeks I have gone there).

After that, we went to the Hopf brewery to hear Enzo sing. Once again, my camera phone did a piss-poor job of capturing the scene there, but I'll put it up anyway.

I had a good time, although Enzo added some new songs that I did not like as much as the old ones, and cut his show short and walked off stage (after about 1 hour) because people weren't cheering enough. He's a prissy Italian drama queen, but he's still worth going to hear.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Howard Dean, Right Wing Mouthpiece

It's actually kind of funny in a way. Everything that the liberals said would happen in Iraq happened almost exactly the way they said it would.

Remember Howard Dean? He was labeled as a "left wing extremist" because he said the following before we invaded Iraq:

The Administration has not explained how a lasting peace, and lasting security, will be achieved in Iraq once Saddam Hussein is toppled. ... It is possible that Iraq will try to force our troops to fight house to house in the middle of cities - on its turf, not ours - where precision-guided missiles are of little use. ... There are other risks. Iraq is a divided country, with Sunni, Shia and Kurdish factions that share both bitter rivalries and access to large quantities of arms. Iran and Turkey each have interests in Iraq they will be tempted to protect with or without our approval.

Now we have all those people who called Howard Dean a "left wing extremist" stepping up and saying the most outlandish things, which can be collectively summarized as "everything is going wrong with our war in Iraq because Iran is doing exactly what Howard Dean said it would, but don't blame us."

In December of this past year, Howard Dean once again was in the spotlight for daring to compare the Iraq War to the Vietnam War. (Michael Reagan: "He should be hung for treason.")

Today? David Frum, major player in ramping up neocon support for the Iraq war was writing this:

It's like some baby boomer nightmare: after decades of swearing that we would never repeat the mistakes of our parents, we are re-enacting the errors committed in Indochina in the 1960s and 1970s, every single one.
Ooh! String that terrorist-appeasing liberal... er... I mean... Give that former advisor to President Bush a medal!

I especially enjoy the title of David Frum's piece: "New Plan Wanted", seeing as how it was his plan, along with Richard Perle, in the book An End To Evil: How To Win The War On Terror, that Paul Wolfowitz and Dick Cheney were following.

[Wolfowitz] said there was no history of ethnic strife in Iraq ... He said Iraqi civilians would welcome an American-led liberation force ... And he said that nations that oppose war with Iraq would likely sign up to help rebuild it. "I would expect that even countries like France will have a strong interest in assisting Iraq in reconstruction," Mr. Wolfowitz said.

Well, fortunately, just as Iraq is descending into the civil war that everyone (except Bush supporters) predicted, and every Bush supporter scoffed at, Israel started a war that will distract all of us for... well... maybe even weeks (assuming that Israel doesn't go along with the U.S. flip-flop position regarding a ceasefire), which should be more than enough time for the Bush White House to use it's favorite plan: "If at first your war doesn't succeed, start start another one."

The Interview

Mock interviews have been all the rage for almost a decade now, starting off with Stuttering John of the Howard Stern show, and Ali-G of HBO fame, and moving on to quick-minded Comedy Central geniuses like Stephen Colbert.

This clip burning up the internet today is the latest, if not the greatest, mock interview. Stephen Colbert's target is Eleanor Holmes Norton, Washington DC's representative in Congress. It really is a perfect example of the genre, with the unwitting interviewee showing just the right amount of shock when Colbert makes outlandish remarks, such as the premise that Washington DC isn't actually "in" the United States, and that, by definition, she, being born in our nation's capitol, is not an American citizen.

When Representative Norton makes a mental error, and Colbert says, "You see why they don't let you have a vote?" it's just classic victim comedy.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Thai Lesson Of The Day

Uterus in Thai is "มดลูก" (môht luùk): "Ant child." Cervix is "ปากมดลูก" (päk môht luùk): "The ant child's mouth."

Well, at least it is memorable. That's one I don't have to study.

Friday Cat Blogging

The night that I carried the Pot-abused kitty off to arcadian bliss, there were supposed to be two cats in the travel case. However, the second cat managed to be out getting laid at the time I declared a household cat moratorium and she came back several days later knocked up.

No. I can't toss kitties out into the street unless I'm pissed off. Thus we again became a cat household almost immediately. My intense shame at my utter inability to enforce my own rules has prevented me from commenting on this earlier. Or something like that.

However, Pot has stayed away from the new kittens like they have plague, and he perhaps might have learned something, although I obviously haven't.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Me? I'm From Toronto.

Distaste for America runs so deep that, for example, at the recent World Cup in Germany the American team was the only one asked not to display its national flag on the team bus. In South Korea, traditionally a U.S. ally, two-thirds of people under 30 said in a recent poll that if there were war between North Korea and the United States, they would side with North Korea.
Actually, in Thailand, I've never heard — from Thai or foreigner — any unkind reaction to my being American. That's probably just because Americans haven't pissed off Thai people yet, and most expatriates in Thailand just want to put all of the world's worries behind them.

But then, you can go to Korea, where you'll run into "No Americans Allowed" signs on many store fronts. (Americans are still worried that North Korea might nuke Seoul as flat as a parking lot?)

Well, I left America 3 years ago, and I've been lobbing poo-balls at our cold-and-prickly foreign policy ever since. In fact, aside from my old friend Gene (who's kind of a kooky bastard anyway), I don't know a single American who lives in Thailand who supports American foreign policy.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

New Passtime

It seems Pot has found a new role model to replace me, as banging away on the keyboard got boring.

Now Pot rides his little bike up to the front gate, and hangs out with the security guard for hours at a time, helping to raise and lower the bar to let cars through, and saluting all the drivers going by.

Well, at only 4½ years old, it's too early to accuse him of making a poor career choice.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Monday, July 24, 2006

Sunday, July 23, 2006


I got a call Friday night from my oldest friend in Thailand, Lolo, who is the head choreographer of the Tiffany Show. Her birthday party was Saturday night, and I was invited.

I haven't seen Lolo (or any of the Tiffany's folks) in almost a year, and it was great to hear from her. Of course I (and Pui, who hasn't met any of these people yet) would be going.

The one downside (and one of the reasons I haven't seen Lolo and company for so long) is that they are nocturnal: The party would start at about 1:30 a.m. after Lolo first finished work at Tiffany's (11:00 p.m.) and then finished putting on her daily cabaret show at Boyz Boyz Boyz (1:00 a.m.).

I went to sleep at 8:00 and woke up at 11:00 to take a shower and get ready. Pui, a little more excited about the party, didn' get any sleep, but instead spent her time fixing her hair.

First we went to Boyz Boyz Boyz, stopping at Foodland to pick up a bottle of Hennesy as a birthday present. Pui had never been to a gay gogo bar before and didn't care for it very much, but I got her laughing by pointing out how most of the guys on stage had socks stuffed down their shorts, and besides... Lolo's show started rather quickly, so Pui didn't have to put up with the boys show for very long.

The show was the usual sequined gowns and lip-synching of Broadway tunes and camp classics, and lasted for about half an hour. After that, we met Lolo and everyone in the show out in front of the bar. Lolo had to make a stop at her house before going to the party, and put us in the charge of (another) Pui, whom we followed out to Ot's house. Ot is the creative director for the Tiffany's Show. I had been to his house once before, and knew that it was across Sukhimvit Road somewhere, but had forgotten where. It turns out it he lives on Soi OBL, with the entrance to his housing development about half a mile away from my own.

So anyway, just about everybody I knew from the Tiffany Show was there, and it was really great to see all of these people again. Photos:

My Pui and Tiffany's Pui (still in her Tiffany's stage makeup) hit it off. That's one of the things I enjoy most about having Pui as a girlfriend. Most Thai girls, if you put them in a social situation where they don't know anybody, will go all quiet and introverted. Pui will immediately get to work getting to know people. The fact that she was able to make friends and have a great time among the Tiffany's crowd, which is about as insular and as cliqueish as you could ever hope to see, says a lot about her outgoing personality.

This is Lolo on the right and my second oldest friend, Oad, on the left. I actually took a road trip with Oad, Lolo, and their friends Seiko, Bob, and Tum to Chantaburi to visit Oad's family about 2½ years ago. That was a good time.

Below is Ot in the center, the creative director for the Tiffany's show, with Lolo, head choreographer on the right, and Bob, another one of my old friends, who is kind of the "star" of Tiffany's show. Actually, all of them are among the first people I met when I arrived in Thailand.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Friday Night Out

As Friday was Jil's bi-weekly payday, it represented an opportunity to treat those who otherwise always treat Jil (and that would be primarily Mike) to a night on the town.

So, Mike, Riza, Riza's best friend, Pui, Maid Go, Jil, and Pot piled in Mike's car and went for dinner at Vientienne Restaurant, and then it was off to Moon River Pub for drinks. (Pot was not allowed into the bar, being a fair spot under the age of 20, so Go and he took a motorcycle taxi home at that point.)

Everybody drank, danced, and made merry while Jil balanced out his pecuniary karma. All is well in the world.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Who Is Matt?

Once upon a time, a guy named Matt decided that he would go on a trip around the world. He did just that. In a fit of genius, he decided that he would dance everywhere he went. Hence this video, which reminds me that I've sat in one part of the world for a very long time.

I find this video really inspirational to tell the truth. I've said it a hundred times before: You're only a plane ticket away from one of the defining moments of your life. Here's something to get you started:

Once you've danced a jig on an Antarctic glacier, then you can tell me you've done it all.

Also, click through to go to other Matt videos. Click here to visit the web site.

Family Everywhere

It's interesting in Thailand how much "family monikers" are used in daily language. Words that are normally reserved for members of the family are frequently used for friends, acquaintances, or even complete strangers.

Pot still calls me "loong" (uncle, older than one's parent). Pui calls Maid Go "mae" (Mom), whereas Took, the old girlfriend called Maid Go "pa" (aunt, older than one's parent). Often times, Thai girls will start calling their best friend "sister", as Pui does with Stan's wife, Mem. Pot calls his older friends who live nearby "pee" (elder).

But the oddest occurrences is with complete strangers, where Thai people will call the person selling them shows "aunt" or the person waiting on their table "sister".

A Pro-Life Argument

I'm pro-choice, but only lukewarm. However, I've never heard an argument that would convince me to be pro-life, but I saw something written that made me stop and think: It was regarding the recent stem cell veto thing in Congress.
I cannot see how [a stem cell] can be seen as anything other than human life.
Note the semantics: "Human life" versus "A human life."

It made me stop and think:
1. Is it alive? Is it life?
2. Does it come from a human?

If you say yes and yes, well then there you are. Your own pro-life argument.

I'm still pro-choice, but that is because I (and I'm just being honest) place no intrinsic value on an undeveloped fetus. I place value in a potential life — with a capital L perhaps? — that can come from that fetus, and I think it should never be wasted. However, I simply don't feel strongly enough about it to actively remove the ability to make what I consider to be the wrong choice in such a matter. I simply feel it should always be a choice, and... yes... it should always be the wrong choice.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

The Upside Revisited

About 10 months ago, I wrote here about how it wasn't really a bad thing that the Republicans managed to stay on top after the 2004 elections because that meant that everything for the next 2 or 4 years that went wrong (and certainly there have been enough things going wrong) would be blamed on the Republicans.

And, since basically everything that has gone wrong before and since then (except for Katrina, and even then) has been more or less managed/mismanaged by Republicans, I figured that keeping the blame with them was fair. Add to that the new/renewed accusations of corruption, underhanded governance, shifty politics, and dubious policies, and finally... now... the American public might have had enough.

Over the last 10 months, everything has gone exactly as I expected it would.

But, you want a true sign that the Republican establishment is in serious trouble, here it is: Ralph Reed — a huge name in the "non-elected" cadre of the conservative elite — decided to run for the underwhelming office of Lieutenant Governor of Georgia and lost... in the PRIMARY.

That is to say, with only registered Republicans voting, this celebrity conservative couldn't get enough votes to even be allowed to be a Republican candidate for a mid-shelf office in the state where he was, just a few short years ago, the primary force behind a Republican sweep. He lost by 20 friggin' points to a relatively unknown state senator. He lost because of his association with that infamous "disgraced lobbyist", Jack Abramoff.

That culture of corruption and extremism is finally coming home to roost. (The fact that fellow Georgian, Democratic Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, of Capitol-police-slapping fame, found herself in a primary runoff enforces that point.)

The last 20 months of Republican-controlled government are really what did it. Americans are starting to recognize the problems with the neoconservative patronage of Congress. (They've always been a little slow.) If Kerry had won the election, it would likely be a completely different story, as the focus and dialogue would have shifted.

Without a President Kerry, the only thing the Republicans can point their blaming fingers at is The New York Times. Without a President Kerry, the only thing the American public can point their blaming fingers at is the Republicans.

After this coming election, expect the Republicans to turn on President Bush in a big way. Expect the American public to follow suit.

Hmm... Looks like I'm right again, except in timing: As I was writing "expect the Republicans to turn on President Bush", the Washington Post was writing about how the Republicans are turning on President Bush.

I rock.

Groundhog Day

Bill Kristol, founder of The Weekly Standard, and one of those exceptionally wrong fellows who talked famously about "American soldiers being greeted with flowers by liberated Iraqis" (or something to that effect), says today (as if the Iraq war never happened) that the Iranian people would support an American invasion if it was "the right use of targeted force."

No, seriously: This is reportedly one of the great thinkers of the modern Right.

C'mon! I'm an idiot, and even I can grasp the fact that if you say something about Iraq and it turns out to be the exact opposite, if you say the same thing about Iran, it's a 100% certainty that it also will turn out to be the exact opposite.

"Americans will be greeted as liberators in Iraq because they don't like Saddam! Oh. Whoops. Well then! Americans will be greeted as liberators in Iran! After all, they really don't like their leaders."

Wednesday, July 19, 2006


Mike's offices were broken into last week, and although the burglars made off with only a few things, it was still an unsettling event.

Also last week, a burgler entered Stan's house, and literally walked right past him while he was sitting at his computer working at 3:00 a.m. He went into Stan's bedroom where his wife was sleeping and stole her mobile phone.

In any town back home, whatever country you may be from, if two of your friends are burgled in the course of a year, that's considered quite bad... but two friends in one week?

Remember also, my house was broken into last March, but I didn't lose anything.

Burglaries, purse/camera/necklace snatchings, street-side armed holdups, assault, stabbings, murders. Pattaya is out of control.

I simply don't know how much longer I can stay here.

Based on Mike's comment below, I did the math: Britain has 200 robberies per year per 100,000 people. America has 136.7 robberies per year per 100,000 people.

By my estimate, Pattaya has 3,500 robberies per year per 100,000 people.

(That is about 10 robberies, muggings, break-ins, and thefts per day, and Pattaya has a population of about 100,000 people — including tourists — at any given time.)

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

The Israel Thing

About a dozen times now, I've been tempted to sit down and write some brilliant essay on what is now going on in the Middle East, but I really just don't know what to say. There is just too much responsibility and irresponsibility to go around. I count half a dozen countries that have been debated about and batted around as "pivotal" in all of this.

You want to bitch? Pick a country and go ahead. You want to cheer? You want to point fingers? Place blame? Propose a plan? Suggest a theory? Uncover a plot? Be shocked? Shed a tear? I won't make any suggestions.

Pat Buchanan, ultra-über-conservative and huge darling of the pro-Israel right, finally explains it well in this damn-those-Israelis article.


I don't know what Heads of State are like in private with each other... whether they are all chummy, especially after they have known each other for a while. However in public, I cannot see how personal contact of this type could ever be proper. Hugs, handshakes, even kisses... all contact of equals... is obviously fine, but this massage thing? To another world leader? When cameras are around? To someone he hasn't known that long? To (and I really only add this as an aside because I would still say it otherwise) a woman?

Perhaps Chancellor Merkels and President Bush get along fabulously well in private, but even if right before this picture was snapped, the German Chancellor called out to the American President, "George, my shoulders are sore, could you massage them for me?" (And, judging by the look on her face, she certainly made no such request...) President Bush shouldn't have done it. After 6 years on the world stage, I would have thought that he would have figured that one out.

My take: An innocent, light-hearted gesture, but a bush-league level diplomatic gaffe. Pun intended.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Hamburger Holiday

I was chatting with Rick the other night, and he said, "Oh, by the way... We are going to leave for Laos on the 6th instead of the 5th."

I replied, "Well that works out then." Not thinking to ask why there would be a delay. "I'll get to see Bob unveil the world's biggest hamburger on the 5th then."

Rick said, "Exactly."

Apparently this hamburger is going to be a bigger event than I myself had envisioned if Rick is putting off going to Laos by a day just so that he (and all the people who are going with us) can see it. Apparently there are going to be lots of TV stations there too, and I think Bob mentioned getting the Associated Press to attend as well. I'm not sure if he mentioned CNN or BBC or something also.

Should be fun if you can make it. Carrefour lobby on August 5th. I'll post a time when I get it.

Snark Pater Noster

Another year has come and gone and my father is still too busy, too poor, too old to come visit me in Thailand. And, it's quite true: After this Netherlands trip he is taking, there won't be any time, money, or energy for anything as exciting as a vacation!

Thursday, July 13, 2006

God Really Loves You

That's the only thing that could explain this:

Actually, this is so amazing that my first instinct was to think that this was doctored video... but there is such a thing as "one lucky bastard" on this earth, and here is a rare video example of it.

Could've Been Rich

Fifteen or twenty years ago, you could have sat down at your computer, logged on to the internet, and in 10 minutes and for 10 dollars, registered a domain name... pretty much like today, actually.

Pick a name. Any name.

Hmm... How about "".

That's what an acquantaince of mine did. Fifteen years later, without having lifted a finger except to once a year renew that domain name, my friend sold "" for $100,000.


Wish that had been me.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Say What?

The White House Director for Lessons Learned is paid $106,000 per year.


No... not the salary, dummy.

There really is a person at the White House whose job title is "Director for Lessons Learned." His name is Stuart Baker.

Further snark would just be suprefluous.

Bubble Wrap

(original here)

Monday, July 10, 2006

Photos Finally Back Up

Go's birthday dinner... Thai bar-be-que. (That's Go on the right.)
For reasons nobody but Pot understands, he has started idolizing me and comes in and watches me work (type) for 10 or 20 minutes at a time. (For someone who has an attention span measured in seconds, this is really weird.) Anyway, all he does now is run around the house "typing" on anything that has keys... the TV, the cable box, the telephone. So I've finally given up telling him to run along and play and just sit him down at my second computer, open up Microsoft Word, and let him bang away. (I gave him the headphones for the picture, as they are usually mine.) He will sit there and rattle the keys for as long as you let him.

Monday Vinnie Blogging

Look Mom! I got your nose! (Heheh. She always falls for that one.)

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Temple Time

I spent the afternoon at Pui's house, and managed to get in a nap on the floor. (Fortunately, there were pillows.)

While I napped, Pui and her friends helped Pui's mother make a dessert dish for the temple visit later on in the evening: Rice, coconut, and banana wrapped up in palm leaves. (One doesn't eat the palm leaves... they are merely the "container" for the yumminess inside.)

I was sort of looking forward to going to the temple, but also was filled with a sense of forboding, because I know what can happen...

We walked from Pui's house to the temple. Pui had to run off to the nearby shop to buy a few things, and I walked onward to the temple with Pui's sister-in-law and mother. When we got to the temple, it was just as bad as I expected.

You see, every Thai man is taught from a young age that if you manage to get a farang drunk, you will achieve very good karma. If you manage to get a farang drunk while you yourself are drunk while at a temple festival, you will receive enlightenment so quickly that beams of light will shoot out of your pores.

Now, when I'm out in the Thai countryside, and the single lone Thai drunk sitting on the motorsai taxi lean-to outside of the local grocer sees me (the first farang he has seen in years), yells "oh-ho!" and goes totally spastic in an attempt to get alcohol into me, I can usually handle it with four or five "my ao" (no thanks).

However, as I arrived at the temple, it was like the holy winemaker himself had come to heal all wounds. Four... count 'em, 1, 2, 3, 4... drunk guys, each with their own bottle, leapt up, and shouted "oh-ho!!", with their eyes beaming the reflected light of the holy aura I must have been emitting. Then, finding their tongues, they realized what a mistake it had been to sleep through English class for the 2½ years that they had bothered to attend school, as English would have seriously helped them gain their golden ticket to Nirvana. "Hello! OK! Thank you! Yes! Whiskey! OK?" It was a veritable barbershop quartet of "Dick and Jane" English.

Of course, I made the mistake of saying "my ao", and the 4 realized their grand guest could speak their lingo, and their grins became wide, their faces glowed with whiskey-fueled electricity, and the air was filled with an alcohol breeze as the four gushed out in the Isaan dialect gestures of friendship that would have been impossible to understand even if it wasn't slurred beyond all recognition.

(Pui's mother and sister-in-law, of course, were completely oblivious to the hell I found myself in, having wandered off to do their things with their palm-leaf dessert platter.)

It took about 2 minutes of "my ao" for the men to go back to their table without me in tow. But they came back 3 minutes later to try again.

Repeat. Wait 3 minutes. Repeat.

Pui finally came from the store after the men had returned to the table a third time, and seemed quite shocked that I wanted to leave. She managed to talk me into staying, mostly because I got the impression from the drunkards that I had been, for the most part, abandoned to my own interests, and a fourth attempt to get me to drink would not be forthcoming.

Pui and I sat down at a table, and Pui brought me a bowl of noodles, chiding me for being so uptight.

I was one bite into my bowl of noodles (Pui sitting nearby with her own dish) when I hear, "Oh-ho!" Across the bench table from me sits down a fifth newly-arrived drunk with a bottle who had not yet had his chance to get to know the farang. He offered his hand, and I politely took it, and he began to babble on. I tried to take my hand back, but he was holding onto it for dear life. I finally had to pull so hard that I almost took the Thai drunk over the table along with my hand.

Pui suddenly realized that I wasn't kidding about my earlier experiences with the 4 drunks. Drunk #5 was now reaching across the table and tapping me on the shoulder while I was trying to eat. I was ignoring him. Pui was getting angry, and told the guy to leave me alone. I was getting tapped. Pui angrier, ruder comment. Tapped. Pui angrier, louder comment. Tapped.

Finally, Pui let loose on the guy with a tirade of verbal abuse that, if it weren't for the semi-loud music playing, would have caused the entire temple grounds to fall silent. I quietly picked up my plate of noodles, turned around 180 degrees in my chair away from the table to look at the stage where Pot and his friends were dancing, and tried to pretend that nothing had happened. Pui, with a huff, turned around and joined me. Drunk guy did a kind of slide down the table to where his friends were sitting.

"Oh-ho!!!" Number six.

Day In The Country

Pui and I woke up early-ish, had breakfast in the diner of a nearby hotel. It was the standard Thai letdown breakfast... but at least there was coffee. We had only eaten about half of the chicken cherry stew from last night, and had the rest in a to-go box to give to the family.

Before heading out to the country, I took a drive around Phetchabun. It really is a nice place. The roads are very twisty and it's easy to get lost. I snapped some photos with the camera that I borrowed from Rick.

We finally drove out to the country, and I stopped to snap some more photos, but inadvertently erased all the photos I had shot previously, when I only meant to delete just one picture. Sheesh.

We drove around to all the farang houses that Pui pointed out, but all of the farangs were out of the country. They must have known that I was coming.

Well, Pui and I gathered up 3 of her friends on another motorcycle and drove on out. Our first stop was the Tat Mok waterfall.

Actually... I had no intention of going to the waterfall, just driving the road up to it. Mr. Pothole Research mentioned in his Phetchabun article that the road there was almost better than the waterfall itself (especially when you factor in the 2-kilometer uphill hike you have to take to the waterfall once the road ends), and me being a lazy bugger, figured that the motorcycle-capable part of the trip was worthwhile.

Boy was it ever. The ride up was about as steep a road as you could ever hope to see, and the 5 of us really abused the carrying capabilities of the 2 underpowered motor scooters in getting up there.

But Jesus what a view. The whole of the Petchabun valley lay about a thousand feet down spread out in front of us.

The ride down actually was much worse. I, of course, had the common sense to put the motorcycle in first gear, and use that to help brake myself (and Pui on back) down the hill. The 3 girls on the other motorcycle (or at least the one driving) thought that it would be a good idea to just coast, and go heavy on the brake. Note: Not "brakes"... as (she failed to mention that) her back brake had long since been rendered ineffective. The trio made it about half a mile before the front brake gave out completely. Fortunately they did manage to stop, flag down a passing flatbed truck, load their motorcycle onto the back, and work their way down the rest of the hill that way.

From there, it was off to the nearby resevoir. It was my intention to have lunch, but the restaurant was just not inviting in any way that I could see, and I requested we move on.

I specifically asked Pui for noodles for lunch, so we drove waaay down the road to a noodle stall. Way out in the wayout, I saw a lone ancient farang, sitting at a cement table by himself nursing a beer. A local resident, I would guess. Dear god, don't let me become that old and isolated in Thailand, 30 miles from the nearest 7-11. I waved from kitty-corner on the intersection, and he waved back, and I drove off.

We went to a noodle shop and had lunch. After that, it was a stop at another out-of-town farang's house. A gay farang, apparently, based on the gaydar-activating Thai boy who was sitting on the front porch.

From there, we grabbed some beer, seeds, and headed off to sit in the shade of a tree in front of a large pond close to Pui's house. So nice. Pui even brought along a plastic stool for me to sit on when I got tired of laying on the reed mat they also carried along. Some local kids were swimming in the water. Pui was constantly concerned that I would be bored... but oh what a nice, peaceful bored it was.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Phetchabun at Night

When going to Isaan, I have no problem with the poverty. I'm not offended by all the dirt and dustiness. I don't even notice the boredom. I can even get by just fine with the food I'm served.

Where I do have a problem is in sitting. Pui's family owns no chairs. They own a DVD player and karaoke machine, with speakers the size of small refrigerators, but no chairs. With only the cement floor to sit on, I'm really uncomfortable after 5 or 10 minutes. Obviously Thai people of all ages and physical conditions get along fine without chairs.

Also, I like my showers with warm water. Call me uptight, but a bucket of cold water is just not a substitute for a nice warm jet of water. For this reason, Pui and I would be staying back in Phetchabun for the night at a hotel. (Well, truth be told, a hotel room actually is a mental break from the family farm... even though it really doesn't bother me.)

It started raining early in the evening, although by the time we left, it was a misty drizzle. We had Pui's motor scooter to ride... a fairly new Honda Wave.

What a hellacious ride, going from Pui's parent's house out in the country back in towards civilization at 8:00 at night with a light rain on a completely pitch black road with potholes scattered about 1 or 2 per mile. The first 10 kilometers were hell, but at least the last 10 kilometers had street lights and the rain let up quite a bit.

We found a really cheap quality motel (for directions, it's down past the hospital and turn left, or from the other direction, it's the soi immediately to the right of the "Country House Bar". Rooms are 300 baht ($8) per night and the staff was exceptionally nice, even washing Pui's motorcycle for us while we showered and got ready for a night on the town.

So we cleaned up and headed out.

Our first stop was the Country House Bar, which was a little too empty and a little too much like karoake for me, so we left. Next stop was the Hotel Burapha's disco, which was empty, so we left. I kind of had it in mind to find if there was a place where local expatriates hung out. (Pui had pointed out the houses of 3 different expatriates on the road to her house, so there are some in the area.) I rode around and spotted another farang walking with his Thai girlfriend at the night market, and asked him if he knew where "we" hung out, but he was at least as new to town as I was and couldn't offer any advice.

I finally found an internet café and did a web search for "Phetchabun" and "Nightlife" and that directed me back to Mr. Pothole's Phetchabun travel log on Stickman's site, which I had taken the time to read before leaving Pattaya. He had mentioned the T Bar, so we got directions from the guy at the internet café (who, coincidentally was the fattest Thai person I had ever seen, coming in at well over 400 pounds), and went there to hang out.

The T Bar is more of a restaurant than a bar, and is located right on the little (very long and narrow) lake in town, and the bar itself, the myriad other bars nearby, and the lake and neighborhood were just a perfect nighttime ambiance. Cool, clear weather. Not loud, even though there were lots of venues around. Lots of families and couples. All very upscale.

The waiter was actually a friend of Pui's from her village, and he suggested a chicken dish for us to try. It was really amazing: Chicken bits in a hearty vegetable-filled cherry sauce. I would call it chicken cherry stew.

From there, we went straight home to bed.

Off To Petchabun

Today we got up before dawn and caught the bus to Petchabun. There actually is a bus that goes directly from Pattaya up to Petchabun, but being a holiday weekend, it was sold out, and so we had to do the mind-numbing bus ride to Morchit bus station in Bangkok, and then a 2-hour layover, and then the bus onwards to Petchabun. Total travel time 11 hours. (I did the math: In a car, taking one's time, the drive would be 5½ to 6 hours.)

Amazingly, Pot never complained once. Can't say that about most 4-year-old kids facing 11 hours sitting on their mother's lap in a cramped bus seat. (We meant to buy 3 tickets for the bus to Petchabun, but somehow the ticket stand only gave us two... 1 child and 1 adult... which we never noticed. The bus stewardess, upon taking our tickets, understood what happened and didn't insist we buy another ticket — since the bus was sold out anyway — and let the three of us ride in 2 seats.)

Well, I do have to say that after the city of Chayaphum — my only other Isaan visit of any duration — the city of Petchabun is just fabulous. Really, really nice. It has a lot of pretty government buildings; broad, tree-lined thoroughfares; a large amount of middle-class, attractive residences; a golf course; and a reasonable amount of civic pride in the cleanliness and upkeep of the numerous public spaces. Actually, the town feels as though it expects one day to be a great metropolis, and has planned ahead for just such an eventuality.

Petchabun is the world-capitol of tamarind, and is located in almost the geographic center of Thailand. They apparently have some diamond mines, grow lots of corn, and have some really pretty mountains in the distance.

Pui's family lives about 20 miles to the east of downtown Petchabun, right in the foothills of those mountains, and it is really nice out there in the country as well. Lots of pretty little villages with (once again) a fair amount of wealth as compared to other parts of northeastern Thailand.

Pui's family is about as poor as you can get in Thailand (outside of a hill tribe). Apparently they were much better off at one point in time, with a nice (nicer) house, but their house, everything they owned, and Pui's grandmother were washed away in a flash flood several years back. Obviously Thailand doesn't have some kind of "FEMA" government agency, and there isn't any such thing as home insurance, so they were left with nothing.

Then, to compound that, Pui's father has suffered from recurrent bowel obstructions, and has been cut open so many times that his abdomen is criss-crossed with scars. He can't work. (He seems to have lost an eye as well, though that was never explained to me.) Pui has a younger brother, but he seems to be allergic to labor of any form as far as I can tell. Fortunately, her family owns a small amount of land, and they live off the rental income from that.

Pui's mother seems to spend most of her time in the kitchen preparing meals, washing clothes, and probably doing odd things to earn a buck. She also loves her betel nuts, and her teeth are a shiny ebony because of them. Life, work, and luck seems to have aged her well beyond her years.

Pui's family also has her other grandmother (her father's mother) staying with them. She is 78 years old, but looks to be 108. Decades of squatting in that famous Asian fashion have left her as a contender for the most stooped person on the planet... terribly scoliotic and deformed. When she walks, her head is actually at the same level as her buttocks (with the arch of her back above). However, when she goes down into that squat, she folds up so nicely and comfortably, and compactly, that you admire her more than pity her. She easily crouches down so that her head is eye-level with my shins, arms and chin resting on her knees.

Pot's little friend (whose face oddly reminds me of a child version of my own grandfather on my father's side) was there, and Pot and he had nonstop fun for the entire visit. This child's father died of an illness of some sort, and lives with his mother who is nearly crippled.

Down here in Pattaya, you hear all the sob stories from the bar girls about death, disease, and destruction back home, and kind of nod your head and take a tighter grip of your wallet. However, when you go up to a place like Petchabun and see the hard life first hand... Well, you do appreciate that tragedy is an integral part of life in these places. One of Pui's friends explained how her 8-month-old daughter had died just a few weeks ago when her mother-in-law got drunk and didn't see the child wander off and somehow fall between two steps and strangle herself. I was shocked not so much at the story as shocked at the easy, matter-of-fact manner in which this mother relayed the facts of her daughter's quite recent and exceptionally tragic death to me.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Why I'll Never Be President

Reporter: "President Jil, could you please comment on North Korea's missle launch today?"

President Jil: "You know, I thought it was really nifty that North Korea decided to celebrate the July 4th holiday, commemerating 230 years of American indepence by shooting off some cute little fireworks in a show of support for American..."

Reporter: "Uh... Mr. President, that was a long-range missle test, not fireworks."

President Jil: "No kidding? Jeez... with 20 bucks, I could go down to Canal Street and buy a rocket that would fly better than those thingies that Kim Jong Il launched today."

(Really: Who could respect a president who says "thingies"?)

Reporter: "So you won't condemn the missle tests?"

President Jil: "How do you say, 'I've lit farts with a Bic lighter that had more bang than your missles' in Korean?"

(See? You just can't occupy the oval office if you're inclined to say such things.)

Reporter: "President Jil, this is a very serious unfolding of events!"

President Jil: "When North Korea can fire a missle across more than a single time zone, let alone a single zip code, then I'll think about a response. Until then, I urge Kim Jong Il to stick with launching flaming kimchi pots with oversized sling shots, because they go farther."

Reporter: "So you aren't concerned about North Korea threatning a nuclear armegeddon?"

President Jil: "Well, with favorable wind conditions and enough string, I'm sure that the North Koreans could get a nuclear-tipped kite over Panmunjom. Really though, can you think of anything more embarrassing than threatening the world with nuclear destruction, and your doomsday weapon goes kaput over the tuna fields of the Sea of Japan? I mean, talk about some seriously bland sashimi!!! Ha!"

(Here, President Jil does a mocking dance in front of the White House Press Corps, then does a snap-snap and retires to the oval office to let Tony Snow pick up the pieces.)

Phone Bill

It seems like everybody who has the internet has to make this mistake once while staying in Thailand.

One day, when my dial-up internet (DSL down as per usual) wasn't connecting to the local Pattaya number, I switched temporarily (for one day only, that is) to the Bangkok connecting number. Yes... of course, there would be a little bit of long-distance charge, but at least I was working, right?

The only problem is, of course, I eventually forget I was connected to Bangkok, and just stayed connected to the internet all day long. Fortunately the next day, I switched back to the Pattaya number when it was working again.

Total phone bill this month? 6,000 baht, $150 dollars. (That's compared to about $18 last month.)

Britons to America: You're Too British.

In a YouGov poll today, British people showed that their opinion of America had clearly soured in all areas, with some very (ahem... excuse me to all my British friends...) hypocritical accusations leveled against American society.

So lessee... according to the Brits:

Americans are divided by class.
Americans are divided by racism.
America is crime-ridden.
America is obessed with money.
America is led by an "incompetent hypocrite".

Britons are also quite upset that America is becoming an "imperial power seeking world domination." (Well, I'll add that that wouldn't be possible with Georgie's little friend, Tony to help him out and put a friendly face on things.)

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Lieberman's Boo-Boo

Senator Lieberman of Connecticut says he'll run as a "petitioning Democrat" if he loses the Democratic primary this coming August 8th. (That means "Independent" for those of you who don't get it.)

In other words, Ol' Joe realizes he can't win as a Democrat without Republicans voting for him in the main election.

I guess that answers the question of whether he should still call himself a Democrat.

I guess that rebukes my own rebuke posted here, where I told myself, "It's the primaries, stupid."

Monday, July 03, 2006

The Impossibility of Peace In Iraq

Iraq used to be a "peaceful" country (until the war with Iran)... much the same way that Yugoslavia used to be a peaceful country. In Yugoslavia, you had the hardline Communist rule making sure that the Serbs and the Bosnians didn't tear each other to pieces. What happened when the Communist rule was no longer there? The same thing that happened once Saddam left... and is really going to happen once the Americans leave Iraq.

The truth is, Shiite Muslims and Sunni Muslims hate each other much more than the Serbians hate the Bosnians. In fact, Sunni Muslims (Saudi Arabians) generally rank Shiite Muslims (Iranians) higher than Jews in their list of people they hate.

Now, of course the educated and open-minded members of Iraq's citizenry, who are the people principally charged with forming a government, can possibly work side by side with their Sunni/Shiite Muslim brethren... but at street level? The shop owners and the police officers and the taxi drivers and the unemployed and under-educated millions? Do you think that they have any intention of putting aside 1400 years of hostility and (more importantly) 1400 years of religious teaching? Not on your life.

So what is the solution? Look to India and Pakistan and Bangledesh, which were formed from a single India after Britain relinquished the place. Iraq is quite simply an entity that cannot exist with Saudi Arabia on one side and Iran on the other without somebody like Saddam (or the similarly ruthless leaders who preceded him), brutally holding these factions together. If there is ever going to be peace in this region, it will have to be in the form of Shiite and Sunni (and Kurd) independent countries.

The only question is will this separation be like Pakistan's from India (with only a moderate lot of fighting and killing), or will it be like the breakup Yugoslavia... with a horrendous slaughter.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

World Cup

Brazil and England both washed out in the quarter-finals, leaving me with just Germany to cheer for. Well, I suppose I could cheer for Portugal, but seriously...

Anyway... the reason for this post:

Soccer is the only sport I know of (especially if you are Italian or Argentinian, but is true for many other nationalities as well) where an important aspect of the game is rolling around like a pussy on the ground like you just had a limb shot off whenever you are fouled. I grew up in America, and watched my high school team play dozens of games, and saw the same tumbles and fouls, and never once did I see a player roll around on the ground, crying for his mommy, and then 30 seconds later running around the field like nothing had happened. In other words: I call Bullshit on all the players (especially the Italians and Argentinians) who play wounded duck in front of the referees in order to get a pity party.

I've been a football fan for decades now, and was taught primarily on Brazilian football as well as the high quality (we were New York State champions on several occasions) soccer that my high school played. I have never understood the serious pussy-esque show that players put on when they are fouled (or... and this especially annoys me... potentially fouled).

In American sports (and I would say in rugby, tennis, or just about any other sport outside of football), when you are injured, the true sign of a man is to immediately pop up after a tumble, and to run around on a shattered patella, femur, or ankle until the final whistle... and only then would a player dare fall to the ground in agony.

Seriously FIFA. Put a stop to this wimpy nonsense. Any player that is rolling around on the ground clutching his knee after an opposing player brushed against him: Kick him square in the teeth, and give him something real to cry about.


To the rest of the world: If you ever wanted to know why Americans scoff at soccer/football, well now you know.

Jil's Blender Magic

Once again, Jil lay ruin to all adult personnel within range of his blender this evening.

This evening, the weapon of choice was the dreaded "Skip And Go Naked". One part vodka, one part triple sec, one part sour mix, one part grenadine, and three parts beer. Oh, the humanity.

Also, tonight's shooter (to finish people off) was Galiano Vanilla and Amaretto, with essence of creme de menthe.

Pui, who is already gearing up for my birthday in August, was loaded and getting into the spirit by singing (you know the tune), "Happy Birth Jil Next Month! Happy Birth Jil Next Month! Happy Birth Jil! Happy Birth Jil! Happy Birth Jil Next Month!".

Finally Rainy

After 2 rainy seasons (and in Thailand, they really mean rainy season), we are finally getting some reasonable precipitation. Every day for the last couple of months, we have seen at least some rainfall every day, and many days a really good amount.

(And... I am not talking about the massive, 30-minute, worthless, 1-inch per 10 minute deluges which do more flooding than anything beneficial.)

YouTube Strikes Again

First you watch, and don't understand. Then you watch and you understand, but it's not all that funny. Then you watch and it's funny. Then you watch and you start feeling a little sorry for everyone. Then comes the final part, and you finally find out why this unseats the Japanese aerobic girls below for funniest video you've seen in a while. $20 bill offer still stands.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Restaurant Review

I'm not sure when it started, but restaurants offering special meal deals are now all the rage in Pattaya. At the top of the list is the all-you-can-eat deal. At the top of that list is the all-you-can-eat-for-99-baht deal. The king of all restaurants in the 99-baht deal is a place on Third Road (directly across from Excite Disco) called "Eat Alls".

Open 6 nights a week (closed Mondays), Eat Alls has 6 different all you can nights all for 99 baht. Tonight was all-you-can-eat lasagna/ziti.

One outstanding feature is that Eat Alls actually has ricotta cheese in their lasagna/ziti recipes, which is prohibitively expensive here in Thailand. However, Bobby (the owner from New York City) has circumvented that problem by making his own ricotta cheese on the premises.

Actually, everything is made from scratch on the premises: The noodles, the sauces, the bread, all of it. That's how they manage to turn a profit. (That and, of course, beverage sales.)

They also have a 99-baht steak dinner if you don't want the all-you-can-eat special du jour, and there is a selection of Thai food as well.

Personally, I enjoyed the food. It wasn't outstanding, but I got my 99 baht worth. It's not a place I'd want to eat every day, but I'll be going back again.

Bobs BBQ

Bob, who is always in the kitchen trying out new dishes, has added a "daily special" of fun and interesting dishes that are his "brainchild" of the day. I've added a permalink over on the right to Bob's website where the daily special is always posted.

Now, thousands upon thousands of you have written to me and accused me of being full of it, when I talk about how big Bob's hamburgers are.

Well, Bob has 3 different sized hamburgers: The smallest one he has is called the "Silver Dollar", which is a full quarter-pound of beef. Remember: That's the smallest. The next larger size is the "Cattleman" hamburger, which is a little over half a pound of beef. You have to admit, that's a good sized burger.

But wait! That is only the medium-sized burger.

Here is Bob's "Wagon Wheel" burger:

This is an 8-inch burger with a 1½ pounds of meat on it. When you add up all the toppings and the bun, you've got yourself a 3-pound Wagon Wheel meal.

What? Still not convinced Bob has big burgers? Well alright then, how about the Lone Star Legend? Yes indeed: How about a 12-inch hamburger with 6½ pounds of beef?

Absolutely. On any day of the week, with a couple of hours advance notice (because it does take time to cook such a thing), you can walk into Bob's BBQ and be served (with all the toppings and bun), an 11½ pound hamburger for 1295 baht ($35).

By the way, I did the figuring: The Lone Star Legend has about 13,000 calories, about 650 grams of fat.

I had dinner with Bob at "Eat Alls" tonight, and he told me that I could break the news here on the blog. It's something I already knew, but wasn't allowed to mention:

Bob is going to be making the World's Largest Hamburger. (More accurately described as "The Restaurant with the Largest Hamburger" as the World's Largest Hamburger weighs in at over 4,000 pounds.) I'm not allowed to say how big it is, because that part is currently a secret, but suffice it to say that it will be bigger than the current record holder.

Telling Time In Thai

Just so you don't get confused:
12:00 a.m.thiang guhnเที่ยงคืน"Midnight"
1:00 a.m.tee 1ตี 1"Nighttime 1"
2:00 a.m.tee 2ตี 2"Nighttime 2"
3:00 a.m.tee 3ตี 3"Nighttime 3"
4:00 a.m.tee 4ตี 4"Nighttime 4"
5:00 a.m.tee 5ตี 5"Nighttime 5"
6:00 a.m.6 mohng chao6 โมงเช้า"6 Morning hour"
7:00 a.m.7 mohng chao7 โมงเช้า"7 Morning hour"
8:00 a.m.2 mohng chao2 โมงเช้า"2 Morning hour"
9:00 a.m.3 mohng chao3 โมงเช้า"3 Morning hour"
10:00 a.m.4 mohng chao4 โมงเช้า"4 Morning hour"
11:00 a.m.5 mohng chao5 โมงเช้า"5 Morning hour"
12:00 p.m.thiang wanเที่ยง"Midday"
1:00 p.m.bai mohngบ่ายโมง"Afternoon"
2:00 p.m.bai 2 mohngบ่าย 2 โมง"After 2 noon"
3:00 p.m.bai 3 mohngบ่าย 3 โมง"After 3 noon"
4:00 p.m.bai 4 mohngบ่าย 4 โมง"After 4 noon"
5:00 p.m.5 mohng yen5 โมงเย็น"5 Cool hour"
6:00 p.m.6 mohng yen6 โมงเย็น"6 Cool hour"
7:00 p.m.thumทุ่ม"Evening"
8:00 p.m.2 thum2 ทุ่ม"2 Evening"
9:00 p.m.3 thum3 ทุ่ม"3 Evening"
10:00 p.m.4 thum4 ทุ่ม"4 Evening"
11:00 p.m.5 thum5 ทุ่ม"5 Evening"

What The...?

LONDON, England (AP) -- Former "Baywatch" star David Hasselhoff had surgery after severing a tendon in his right arm in an accident in a London gym bathroom, his spokeswoman said Friday.

The 53-year-old actor, who played lifeguard Mitch Buchannon on the TV beach drama for 11 years, was shaving at a gym in the Sanderson Hotel on Thursday when he hit his head on a chandelier, showering his arm with broken glass, his publicist, Judy Katz, said.
That. Is. Weird.

OK: Let's try to depict a scenario in which Mr. Hasselhoff's head would come into contact with a chandelier (in a forceful enough fashion to shatter it). My guess is he was standing on a chair in front of the mirror shaving his belly button.

Well, a more likely scenario is that the chandelier was actually mounted on a wall next to the mirror (instead of hanging from the ceiling) and Mr. Hasselhoff was trying to get too close to the mirror while shaving. Of course, it would have been nice if the news story said that, since millions of people right now around the world are picturing Mr. Hasselhoff doing some pretty bizarre stuff in that bathroom.

Hmm... must be a helluva nice gym to have chandeliers in the bathroom.


No, actually quite seriously:

I wish there were more stories in the news like President Bush and Prime Minister Koizumi touring Graceland. Not that I don't want to see the real nitty-gritty news every day... just that I'd like to be reminded from time to time that, after all is said and done, life really is about dreams coming true, whether you are a chubby nobody in Thailand, or a couple of world leaders in Memphis.

Yeah, goddammit: Warm my heart from time to time. Please.