Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Daily Report: Birthday, BBQ, and Berating Brother

Morning went fine. Leftover chicken and rice for lunch.

Every afternoon, Thai kids get out of school, and head immediately to the internet cafés, where they promptly crash the country's internet by playing online games. Today was particularly bad. I could barely get any work done, and finally gave up at about 5:30.

I really need to get in touch with my ISP and tell them that they need to run a phone line out to my neighborhood that bypasses the 3 monstrous schools (and their closely-orbiting internet cafés) between myself and TOT. We're all on the same DSL line, and it's killing me.


Denny's Beer Barrel Pub takes over as
titleholder of World's Largest Burger
I went out to Bob's BBQ tonight with Pot for dinner. (Pui stayed home drinking beer with Riza.) The restaurant whom Bob supplanted with his own World's Largest Hamburger has returned fire, beating out Bob's 78-pound brute with a 120-pound monster.

I keep thinking that eventually the Guinness World Record people would call the whole large hamburger thing ridiculous, and close the competition... but when you have people with 60-inch fingernails as company, ridiculous comes with the territory, I suppose... and a 120-pound hamburger is fairly reasonable in comparison.

Tonight was Riza's birthday, so we all hung out at her house drinking beer. Pui is becoming addicted to her Giffarine cosmetics selling job. She gets a couple of beers in her, and she just can't stop talking about it. She reads the monthly newsletter again and again, daydreams about making it to Triple Gold Star, and even has a portrait of (what I'm guessing is) the patron saint of Giffarine that she keeps next to her bed.

I only wish I had that much zeal for my own job.

Of course, all good things must come to an end, and Riza's party ended when Pui got a phone call telling her that her brother was out getting drunk with the same idiot who had gotten him into trouble with an errant gunshot ricochet last week. To say that Pui was angry would be an understatement. To say that 4 or 5 beers amplified her anger would also be an understatement. She's a quiet little girl with a quiet little voice, but when she yells, she wakes the neighborhood, and she stood outside on the phone, yelling at her family louder than she has ever yelled before.

Of course, after she yelled, she started crying, and just generally lost it. I took her home, took over responsibility for getting Pot ready for bed, and got everybody tucked in for the night.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Daily Report #1784

Superb day today: I was up at 6:00 a.m., enjoyed a nice morning sunrise, and then started work at 8:00 a.m. Finished at precisely 1:00 p.m., just as my tunafish sub arrived from Subway. Spent a few hours writing in the blog, and then worked from 3:00 until 6:30. Then I had chicken and rice, and watched the "Nova Science Report" at 7:00. Then I surfed the internet for a couple of hours and was asleep by 10:00.

You have your definition of a successful day... well that's mine.

Quotacious

"Denmark and Lithuania have announced that they're going to pull their troops out of Iraq. Apparently, Denmark and Lithuania are going to pull out on the same day so all four guys can carpool."

What Famous Leader Are You?

Interesting test...
Interesting conclusion.

You see: I'm very much not a leader. I'm not a manager, controller, director, or teacher, and have never had any expectations of ever being one. I'm a stand-off speculator, thinker, and commenter. I'm an opinionated sniper or cheerleader who stays strictly on the sidelines. I don't want to have subordinates to deal with, and I don't want have superiors to answer to.

So, therefore, when I saw the link on Spidey's page to the test, "Which Famous Leader Are You?" I was genuinely interested in answering the questions and finding out who was the most reluctant, awkward, reclusive (but great) leader in the history of the world... because that is the only leader I could possibly resemble.

Update On Russian Tourist Murder Case

It seems that the two Russian ladies murdered on Jomtien beach weren't prostitues after all (much to the dismay of ThaiVisa.com posters, of course, who hate to have their rumor-mongering and Russian-race-baiting proven wrong), and instead the ladies were described by Thai police officials as coming from "affluent familes", and being "self employed".

The Thai police have offered a rather pitiful 100,000 baht ($3,000) reward for information leading to a murderer who has single-handedly threatened the billion-baht Russian tourist industry in Pattaya. (Glad to see they have their priorities straight.)

UPDATE on the update...

Pattaya City News has put together a comprehensive update, and there is one thing that I am seeing here: The Pattaya police are under an incredible amount of pressure to solve this crime, and... what's worse, to solve it quickly... from the national government.

If anybody from the government is reading this: Chai yen, folks. Too much pressure to produce a result is probably going to only produce an incorrect result... and that's only going to make a bad situation infinitely worse.

Oh... and England and America have issued travel warnings apparently.

The Scalping Machine of Right Wing Blogs

Ann Althouse was reading a news article on the failed attempt at John Edwards' presidential campaign to hire/incorporate bloggers into its publicity, activism, and fundraising efforts. This particular quote stood out for her:
What Bob didn't seem to realize is that the right-wing blogosphere was going to try to get Edwards' bloggers fired no matter what. Unlike the liberal netroots, the right-wing blogosphere is capable of exactly one kind of collective political action. They call it "scalping" — they pick a target and harass that person and his or her employer until the person either jumps or is pushed out of the public eye.

To which Ann... a self-described moderate in her own eyes, but conservative in everyone elses', replied:
Ha, ha. Only the right. Sure. I have the personal experience of lefties trying to do exactly that to me -- including on Beyerstein's blog, though I think Beyerstein actually stepped in at one point and told her commenters that their idea of trying to get UW to fire me was not a good one.
Ms. Althouse is correct regarding the attempt, but not regarding the method or the result.

The successful action that conservative bloggers accomplished in scaring the Edwards' bloggers (Amanda Marcotte and Melissa McEwan) out of their jobs was something that liberal bloggers simply don't seem capable of. You see, what the conservative bloggers did, as a group was write blog post after blog post lambasting the Edwards' bloggers so that no matter where you turned in the conservative blogosphere, you would be confronted with "The Headline".

And of course, eventually, the major news networks caught on, and... well... when you go from being simply the subject of negative blog posts to being the subject of negative CNN news stories, you probably become hard-pressed not to freak out.

Now liberal blogs simply don't do this. For most newsworthy subjects dear to the left-wing's hearts (the Jeff Gannon story being a good example), one blog is usually considered to be the "go-to site" for coverage of that. The other bloggers often link, but they won't chime in nearly as loudly or as clearly as their competitors on the right.

Therefore, when it comes time to turn up the pressure... get that scalp, if you will... it really is a tool/tactic that only the right wing blogs can achieve.

Let's be honest, Ms. Althouse... it was only Lindsay Beyerstein's blog and blog readers that tried to get your scalp. I personally don't even know who that is. Imagine if it had been all the readers from Daily Kos, everyone from Atrios, everyone from AmericaBlog, et cetera, et cetera, and then UW started getting calls from as near as ABC and NBC to as far as BBC and AFP about you, and you and your employers started seeing your face appear 20 or 30 times a day on national television. Even with the Jeff Gannon story — which is the biggest left-wing blogger scoop I can remember — that never happened.

When that does happen, then you can talk about what kind of scalps the left wing bloggers are capable of taking, in comparison to the right. Until then... hardly the same thing, never the same effect, and far from the same results.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Daily Report: Anticipation

Had a great day of work today... perfect in the morning, but a little off in the evening.

I'm getting really excited about the prospect of purchasing an HDTV home theater with my tax refund in the next couple of weeks. It was 15 years ago when I was in The Sony Experience in New York City, and my jaw dropped at the site of then-experimental HDTV. Ever since then, my life as a consumer of technology has built up to this point.

This really is finally the right time to buy: First of all, it is only now that true 1080p televisions are being sold, and at reasonable prices as well. And, more importantly, I can now finally actually watch HDTV in Thailand.

No... there aren't any HDTV broadcasts here yet, but Blu Ray DVD is now out, so you can watch high-definition movies that are as good as — if not better than — HDTV. Actually: They don't sell Blu Ray DVD players in Thailand yet, but they do sell Sony Playstation 3 units, which play Blu Ray DVDs, so I'll be buying one of those. (As for getting my hands on the movies, hello Air Mail.)

And, as an added bonus, it is going to absolutely be da bomb playing Gran Turismo 5 on a 60-inch screen at 1920 x 1080 resolution at 60 frames per second.

Monday Vinnie Blogging

Unlike most babies who are put into a crib at night, Vinnie has an AC adapter, and spends his nights recharging on the kitchen counter.

Best Drum Song Ever

Over at Crooks & Liars, they are taking nominations for the most "joyous, rhythmic drum or percussion work". As per usual, even though I put in my nomination, it has no chance of being selected (or even noticed) from the thousands of suggestions submitted, therefore I'll put it up here as well.

Rush, YYZ. Neil Peart is one of the top 10 drummers in history. (Listen to the bassist, Geddy Lee as well... as he is one of the best in the world on his instrument.)
(And yes... if you want to offer alternative great drummers / drum songs, feel free to comment them here or over at Crooks & Liars.)

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Daily Report: Friends Fun Feast

I spent Sunday evening visiting with my new friend, Matt.

Matt reminds me a lot of my friend Steve, who passed away in December... except Matt is Swedish, not Jewish. They both are a few years older than me, they both have been in Thailand for most of their adult lives, they both speak the language and know the culture exceptionally well, and both have lovely families, beautiful homes, and thriving business. Heck... Matt even moreso than Steve in most of those categories.

Matt and I spent the evening watching the A1 "Formula One" style racing series, which was surprisingly entertaining, simply from the sheer number of crashes. (I'm halfway convinced that the drivers are paid to wreck in order to keep the drama level high.) Pot swam in Matt's pool with Matt's 14-year-old son Christopher (who is also a remarkably well-spoken and nice fellow), and Pui spent the evening chatting with Dang, Matt's wife from the Hat Yai area in the south of Thailand.

It really was a nice time. Thank you Matt, if you read this. I look forward to doing it again.

The Best Response to Hardaway

I didn't bother to comment on basketball player Tim Hardaway's remarks before now, because thousands of people standing up for gay people have already responded in thousands of different ways to counter thousands of ignorant remarks in the past...

But I just loved this approach to combating (although that's probably not the best word) homophobia so much, I had to put it up...

Monk Defrocked For Breaking The Law

Very interesting.

It's one of those things that you never see done, so it never occurs to you to wonder why it isn't ever done. Every sunrise, Buddhist monks wander the streets of Thailand looking for alms. However, a monk going around Walking Street at night asking for alms is the height of irregular... to the point where somebody (perhaps offended Thai people?) called the police.

He was immediately taken to temple by the police, where he was disrobed.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Daily Report: Beer By The Pool

I slept in late today... getting a nice 12 hours of sleep. Must have needed it, although I couldn't say why. Subway delivery for lunch as per usual.

Pot and I spent the afternoon playing in the pool. Then Mike called, and he, Riza, Pui, Pot, and myself spent the evening by the pool as well. Lots of beer was consumed.

Then, Mike and I went out to the Hopf brewery where we met up with Mike's business partner, Matt, from Sweden. Lots of beer was consumed again. (Mike went home early and Matt gave me a ride home.)

I finally got to sleep at 3:00 a.m. (Time stamp for this post artifically set so that it falls on the day to which it refers.) Tomorrow, Pui, Pot and I are invited over to Matt's house for bar-be-que and to watch A1 Racing on TV.

Retards Out In Force At Thaivisa.com Again

A horrible thing has happened in Pattaya: Two young Russian ladies were shot to death on Jomtien beach. The average human's reaction would be outrage, distress, sadness, or even sincere regret.

What do the twats at Thaivisa.com think?
  1. That's what you get for offending Thai people. (At least people will be nice to the beach chair vendors now.)
  2. Russians? Obviously mob hit. (Four retards had that thought.)
  3. Russians? Obviously prostitutes. (Three retards for that one.)

Fortunately, two posters at ThaiVisa.com had a brain (and a conscience) and decided to call the retards on their bullshit.

I swear... How could one website attract so many soul-less pieces of subhuman scum? They should be ashamed of themselves for writing stuff like that.

p.s. This is not the first time that Thaivisa.com readers have insulted and blamed the victim in Thailand.


UPDATE:

There is hope after all. As I was writing this, many posters at ThaiVisa.com have come forth and also expressed their outrage at these initial half-dozen scumbags who labeled these murdered ladies "prostitues" and "mafia". Kudos for those of you who spoke up.

This Year's Big Purchases



It's tax refund time, and once again I have a veritable wine list of goodies that I want to purchase. They include, in toto, one business class round trip ticket from Bangkok to New York, one Yamaha Fino scooter, one Sony Cyber Shot digital camera, a half dozen cows (that would be the money for Pui's family), and one automobile-sized Sony Bravia home theater.

Also on the list is a new computer, but unfortunately that purchase I'm actually going to have to save up for. (My current home computer is eight years old, and although it has never hiccupped even once — thanks to my careful use and ministrations — is really due for retirement.)

Friday, February 23, 2007

Daily Report: Stupid Farang

I was on my way with Pui and Pot to go window shopping for televisions along Sukhimvit Road. I was in the middle of the left-most lane (the lane closest to the curb, for you in America) when — whoops — here comes my turn. I quickly turned on my turn signal and started to turn.

"Ayy!!!" I hear in my left ear. Somebody was trying the fateful tactic of passing on the inside. I hit my brakes, and abandoned any thought of turning. Two things happened at once: A motorcycle went whooshing past me on my left, and a brand-new Range Rover, seeing my turn signal, and thinking it safe to pull out, turned into the road. Whooshing motorcycle on my left went kerplunk, smack into the front fender of said Range Rover, and fell over.

So this lanky, Indian-looking American kid stood up. (He was talking before he even hit the ground, so his accent was apparent.) I parked my motorcycle, and walked over to see if he (and the Range Rover) were alright. He seemed to be shaken up but uninjured. The Range Rover had a minor mark on the plastic fender guard. The Thai lady driving the SUV was closely inspecting for any further damage.

Seeing that in general there was no harm done, I figured we're finished here.

"Wait a minute," American kid says, "you can't leave."

"Why not?" I ask.

"She's calling the police," he replies.

At that point, I figured I might as well just smooth things over. The kid was the typical penniless, dive-school student who could ill afford a conversation with the police. I just wanted to go look at televisions and not spend 30 minutes bearing witness to another farang's stupidity. "Let's each give her 500 baht, and consider it settled," I suggested. American kid made some comment about being able to ill-afford 500 baht, and about how — anyway — it was all my fault. I countered with the observation that passing on the inside wasn't the smartest idea, and he handed over his 500 baht. I gave Miss Range Rover the 1000 baht. Granted, it was more of a token apology then true restitution... but since there was no real damage, I figured it was fair enough.

She wasn't satisfied.

At this time, American Kid decided to make a run for it. He hopped on his motorcycle and took off. Miss Range Rover of course wrote down his license plate number.

A simple rule in Thailand: If you are dealing with an upset Thai lady who drives a $100,000 Range Rover, you don't just take off on her. Anyone in Thailand who has the ability to pay that kind of money for an SUV most certainly has the ability to hunt you down.

Anyway, after a few more minutes of me pointing out that basically the "damage" to the plastic on the Range Rover's fender was more just the place where the dust had been scrubbed off by American Kid's chin, and that if the police came, they would quickly conclude the same thing, and also pointing out that I (as the lady was nice enough to admit) had nothing to do with the accident, she decided that that was the end of my involvement with it.

Of course, the stupid American kid who took off before being granted his leave probably will not be so lucky... if I am any judge of pissed-off Thai Ladies who drive $100,000 Range Rovers. Best of luck to him.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Daily Report: Noblesse Oblige

Pui told me that the police want her brother (see yesterday's entry below) to cough up 30,000 baht ($750) in fines and hospital bills or else go straight to jail. Yesterday, Pui was quite happy that her brother might spend some time in jail and get straightened out, but today when given another option, Pui (more accurately... Pui's family) was happy to take it.

Pui actually never asked me for any money... didn't even tell me about the fine. She just told me that she wanted to go to Petchabun to help out in this family emergency. It was only after prodding that I learned that she was going up there to take out a 30,000 baht mortgage on some property that she and her family owns.

That pissed me off because while the family may be spending their own money to bail their fuckup son out of jail, it's theoretically my money since my remittances (via Pui) represent about 90% of their disposable income every month... and I specifically told Pui yesterday that in no way was I going to help bail her brother out of jail.

So much for that plan.

I yelled. I berated Pui. I told her that if she and her family did this, I'd never give them another penny until they came up with 30,000 baht on their own to pay off this debt. All Pui did was go off by herself and cry about it, but she didn't change her mind. That's about what I expected though.

Thus, I changed my mind... like I expected. (I did all the yelling and threatening first off because Pui and I, as a couple, in this instant, were setting the famous Thai-lady-Farang-man "bail out the family" precedent, and I wanted to make sure that that precedent would forevermore be sitting on the far side of class-A, hard-core, relationship-threatening argument.)

I'm getting my tax refund back in a few weeks, and it was my intention to give 50,000 baht of that money to Pui's family. Since I plan on giving them a 50,000 baht gift in a few weeks... which no matter how much I complain about, would be used to pay off the 30,000 baht mortgage, it seemed to me that my problem was not so much about giving them money, but the fact that they were going to waste it on their idiot son.

Once I rationalized the fact that my problem wasn't the money... just the fashion in which it was going to be spent, it was a little easier to decide to save Pui the hassle of mortgaging her family property to keep her brother out of jail (and avoid having to pay the intererest on the loan) by giving her the money immediately, and deducting it from the future 50,000 baht gift.

So I am doing what every farang eventually winds up doing at some point when dealing with his adopted Thai family: I am gritting my teeth, reaching in my wallet, and rationalizing my way back to the Thai state of "chai yen"... the cool heart. Pui's family is now getting a 30,000-baht advance on the gift they had coming, and I'm not going to worry myself with what they waste it on.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

A Blog For My Father

I told my father once that he should start his own blog, stake out his own opinions on the inernet, and highlight his own interests. "I don't have nearly enough to write about," was his reply.

As a retort, I offer up this blog written by a mother of 4, and this most perfect example of writing about something when there seems so little to write about. Did you flip a pancake today? Then you can write a blog.
Howzat

I think there are two kinds of people in life - pancake tossers and people who do not toss pancakes. Today, two pancake tossers arrived in my kitchen with eggs, strawberries and smiles. The 14-year-old daughter broke eggs (not eggcups) with aplomb and tossed pancakes merrily from a buttered pan. She tossed them and her circus skilled mother dipped her knee to catch them on a plate. Sometimes, the laughing girl tossed a pancake and with all the confidence of youth, held her own plate out - fearless of a fatal fall. Sometimes, she just tossed them, let them fly awhile and then snatched them from oblivion, splat, back into the pan. Her mother taught her well. I love that age in girlhood. That adolescent "look at me with shiny hair tossing pancakes in the air" age. All performed with hungry boy and baby watchers agog with admiration.

Reluctantly, I admitted that I was not one of life's pancake tossers. I am too worried the pancake will decide it has had enough of me. Sadly and finally, it could bundle up its batter on the way down to the floor, to rest there reproachful and eggy. Worse still, it could fold itself in two and fly out of the open window, abandoning me to my empty pan and hollowed out expectations. Life surely has disappointments enough I think. Why would I invite disaster into my kitchen? I never toss a pancake.

Today though, I tried. It flew and flipped and landed back. Howzat.

Daily Report: The Shocking Truth

Today's lunch break was spent shopping. First it was off to Mike's Shopping Mall where I bought 3 more silk shirts that are the exact same as the other 7 silk shirts — the only 7 shirts — that I own... just different colors. I also bought a pair of shorts that are the exact same as the other 5 shorts — the only 5 shorts — that I own. Total price, 4000 baht... $100.

I also bought Pui a silk nightgown and matching bathrobe. She's been running around in her pale-blue teddy-bears-with-balloons night shirt for as long as I've known her, and I think it's time to upgrade. Total price, 4000 baht... $100.

After that, it was off to Carrefour Home Center where I picked up (finally) a microwave oven. I found a nice stainless-steel Whirlpool model for 4000 baht... $100.

When I got the new microwave oven home and plugged it in, I found out one of the distressing facets of Thai housing: Oftentimes, while those white rectangular plates that you see on the walls (commonly called "plugs") may have 3 holes in them, it is very likely that only one of them is actually connected to anything (that would be the electricity, naturally). The other 2 are just there to fool you into thinking that you are dealing with a modern, safe electrical system, but aren't actually doing anything functional... such as, say, grounding the electricity.

Now, if you are dealing with something made entirely of plastic (like my blender, for instance), you could spend your entire life not realizing that in your hands is an uncompleted electrical circuit trying to find a home for 200 happy volts.

However, plug in a stainless-steel-encased microwave oven, and boy-oh-boy will you find out quickly about those 200 volts.

Anyway...

The other wonderful news of the day is that Pui's brother is now in trouble with the law. Apparently he and 2 of his friends were out in a field somewhere getting drunk, and stupid friend #1 pulled out a gun and fired it, and stupid friend #2 is now in the hospital with a superficial gunshot wound. I can't understand everything Pui is describing to me, but my best guess is that it was a ricochet. Regardless: All of them are idiots, and all of them are in trouble. Firearms are a no-no in Thailand. Discharging firearms in Thailand doubly so. All 3 of them will be doing a month or two in jail.

Stupid Tourist Contest

This guy from Dubai is far less stupid than the previous 18 tourists drugged, robbed, and filmed on J.I.P.: Instead of accepting medication from a prostitute, this guy claims to have been knocked out by something that the prostitute sprayed in his face.

I'm dubious, because I've never heard of an aerosol spray that acts that quickly, but I'll take him at his word that he was assaulted.

Still though, if you hire a prostitute on Beach Road (instead of in a bar), and if you take a prostitute back to your hotel and don't register her with the front desk, then: You. Are. Stupid. Any questions?
Stupid tourist #19 drugged, robbed, and filmed.
UPDATE:

Wow: The stoopit is blooming fast and furious today, as we have our twentieth victim of prostitute-proffered pill popping. Here is a German making the list for a change, apparently drugged by a ladyboy right on Pattaya Beach. Perhaps the dearth of English-speaking suckers is due to the fact that everybody in Thailand who speaks English reads Jil In Pattaya and therefore knows what is going on? Nah. English-speaking people are apparently just smart enough not to take drugs that are offered to them by prostitutes... unlike the rest of the world, it seems.
Stupid tourist #20 drugged, robbed, and filmed.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Quotacious

"The latest political rumor is that if Hillary Clinton wins the presidency, she will be replaced in the Senate by her husband, Bill Clinton. When asked about it, Bill Clinton said, 'I dream of replacing Hillary every day.'"

Daily Report: Visa Scam

Today, Pui and I went to one of the 100 or so offices in Pattaya that assist Thai people with getting visas to go to Farangland. Pui is specifically looking for a "K-1 visa", otherwise known as a "fianceé visa" to go to America.

Now, a K-1 fiancee visa consists of, give or take, 10 pages of forms, plus the collection of approximately 10 miscellaneous documents. Photocopies have to be made, and signatures have to be signed. All in all about 4 or 5 hours of work over a period of several days. Then, the visa application package is mailed out, and after about a 6-month wait, an appointment is made with the embassy in Bangkok. Then, a few more pages of forms are filled out, and everything should be set. (An in-depth description of exactly what needs to be done can be found here, if you are interested.)

A visa company like the one we visited will fill out all those forms, mail them for you, and will even drive your fianceé up to the embassy and back, and coach her in answering questions, if that is necessary.

Now, I'm a pretty generous spender, and I would say that in general I am not cost-sensitive. So, if they had quoted me 20,000 baht ($500) for 10 or 20 hours of work, I would have called it a steal, and if the visa company wanted 40,000 baht ($1,000), I would have grudgingly paid it, considering it a one-time cost that (a) guarantees that everything will go smoothly, and (b) that I won't be spending my time working on it.

The visa company, however, wanted 120,000 baht for their 10 or 20 hours of work. That works out to $150 to $300 per hour in my book. (The farang in charge tried to convince me that doing the visa yourself was a daunting task, and... hey, ya know... the big firms up in Bangkok charge twice that, so... hey, ya know... it's a good deal.)

Based on the gold watch and 10-baht necklace he was wearing, and the hundred photos of smiling faces holding up passports with visa stamps on them on the office wall, apparently some people believe him.

I don't.

So I'll be doing the application myself, mailing it out, and getting Pui her fianceé visa all by myself. If I screw it up, I'll admit it here on the blog. I'll do it over again until I get it right, if that is necessary. (I doubt it will be.) Regardless, I'll take that 120,000 baht I would have wasted, and buy a couple of Rai of land up in Petchabun. It will be a nice wedding present.

p.s. Just to be fair, if there are any visa companies out there who want my 40,000 baht worth of business, leave a comment. If there aren't, and there are some entrepreneuring types from Pattaya reading this, you could probably make a pretty good living filling out 10 or 20 pages of forms for a couple of hours per day.

J.I.P. New Music Showcase


Photo courtesy band site
Here's a first: A boy band with a twist. Yup... you guessed it. Meet Venus Flytrap (band site), an all-transsexual band from Thailand.

Their debut single, Visa For Love, is a bit below average music-wise, although fans of ladyboys... and lord knows there are a zillion of them out there... will go nuts over the video. They seem to be tongue-in-cheek following in the footsteps of the Spice Girls, following a similar naming convention: Posh Venus, Hot Venus, Cool Venus, Naugty Venus, and Sweet Venus.

Anyway, here — for those of you confident enough of, and comfortable enough with, your own sexuality — is the video of 5 of the prettiest people on the planet... like it or not.

Crazy Republicans


Repub. Ben Bridges
blames Jews for the
theory of evolusion.
If anybody can find a Democrat politician that has said anything even half as crazy as this Republican, post it in the comments, and I'll balance things out. Somehow though, I doubt anything comes close to the inate, built-in craziness of the average Republican elected official.
Congressman says evolution is a myth spread by Jews
Have you heard? Evolution was spread by Jews in order to bring Christians to the devil. Well that's what Rep. Ben Bridges (R-GA) believes anyways. In a memo sent to lawmakers in California and Texas:
"Indisputable evidence - long hidden but now available to everyone - demonstrates conclusively that so-called 'secular evolution science' is the Big Bang, 15-billion-year, alternate 'creation scenario' of the Pharisee Religion," the memo said. "This scenario is derived concept-for-concept from Rabbinic writings in the mystic 'holy book' Kabbala dating back at least two millennia."
To all you Republicans out there who are just a little embarrassed by the hundred or so insane people that your party has put into office, you can always become a Libertarian like myself. Our grass is greener over here (because we are more pro-environment than Republicans), we're all richer (because we don't tax salaries, gasoline, cigarettes, and alcohol as much as Republicans), and we're all much more relaxed and groovy (because we don't worry about who is or isn't going to hell, like Republicans do).

Best of all, Libertarians are allowed to vote for the Democrat in order to keep batshit insane people like Mr. Bridges out of office (unlike Republicans, who will only vote for a Republican, even if the candidate is Josef Mengele).

Monday, February 19, 2007

Daily Report: Almost Perfect

Was up at 7:00. Worked from 8:30 to 1:00... a full morning. Had lunch (grilled chicken breast) and wrote in the blog. Then worked from 3:00 to 6:30... almost a full afternoon.

Started watching the second season of 24 this evening. Spaghetti for dinner. Now excuse me while I climb into bed nice and early to get as close as I can to the optimal day.

Survey Shenanigans

This survey seems to be really popular with the far right, seemingly proving that the American public is really against surrendering in Iraq.

I studied statistics extensively in college, and I took an entire 3-credit course on how to (and how not to) ask questions on a survey.

The questions in this survey are designed to elicit only one type of answer, which may (or may not) be contrary to what the person responding actually believes.

To put it in stark contrast as a way of example, let's rephrase this survey in a similar but more extreme context: Your mother is in the hospital dying of terminal cancer, and has only weeks to live. Question: "How important is it to you that your mother beats her cancer?" (Your choices are anywhere from "very important" to "not at all important".)

Next question: "How hopeful are you that your mother will be cured of her cancer?"

Now, do you see how statistics can be used (by asking the... ahem... right questions) to show any result that is desired? Obviously the question should not be one of "hope", and the question should not be one of "importance". Of course we "hope". Of course it is "important".

So, when you hear people touting this particular survey as some great sign that Americans don't want to lose the war in Iraq, tell them "No shit. That's what they want... but the more pertinent question is: What do they expect?"

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Nutzo

Britney Spears has shaved her head.

I e-mailed her a photo of the Pope, but I doubt she'll appreciate my humor.

She's become the female, drunk version of Michael Jackson. In the same way that Michael spent his entire adult life trying to become Diana Ross, Britney is trying to become Lex Luthor.

Daily Report: Chinese New Year


Food laid out for the monks.
I was up nice and early today. Since today is Chinese New Year, Pui had all kinds of activities planned today. First, she put out some food for the monks. (I'm not completely clear on this, but it's my best guess.) There were 2 whole chickens, a pile of noodles, some fruit, and pastries, water and burning incense. Set out front of our house on the living room table, the karma of our entire Soi went up a notch.

I put in an okay morning of work, and then called it a day.


Pui, Pot, and Go make merit.
In the early afternoon, Pui, Go, Pot, and I went to a Chinese temple in Naklua where we bought 3 coffins. Apparently this is a very good way of making merit, as the coffins are for people with no family to provide them with a proper funeral. After we paid our 500 baht, we went up to the temple and lit incense, prayed, rattled joss sticks, burned prayer sheets, and set some birds free. (Pot and I spent most of the time playing with toy cars actually.)


The Thai version of an ambulance. Very
good for cardiac patients, as the ride to
the hospital is as good as a defibrillator.
We also made a donation to the temple's coffin corrollary, an ambulance service. As you may or may not know, most people injured in Thailand arrive at death's door — or the door of the hospital emergency room — in the back of a pickup truck of some sort. That crude and rudimentary service is all going to change, as the pickup trucks will now have pretty stickers on them.


Pot is a french fry fiend.
After the temple, we went to McDonald's were we... I especially... proceeded to stuff ourselves. McDonald's in Thailand is, give or take, about half the price of McDonald's in America. So the fact that I spent $10 for 3 people and 1 child is the equivalent of having purchased (and ate) $20 worth of food in America. Pot stuffed himself sideways on french fries as per usual. Maid Go had fast food for the first time in her life, and enjoyed herself thoroughly, though she started off quite unsettled by the fact that I was spending so much money on her. (Both of the ladies in my house are — really, honestly, always — like that.)

Once we got back home, Pui took a nap, Pot and I went swimming, and Go went shopping. She brought back beer, and I bobbed around in the pool and drank 2 liters of beer (to add to my already stuffed stomach).


The all-you-can-eat buffet at
White Night on Soi VC.
After swimming, at 6:00, Pui and I went down to Bai Hali pier to watch the Chinese New Year Show. Unfortunately we were an hour early, and had other business to attend to, so we left. We went to Walking Street, to Dang's Bar and had a beer there. Then we met up with Stan at White Night for yet another all-you-can-eat buffet. Tonight's smash-hit dishes were blue-cheese soup, vegetables in an apple-tamarind curry, and a sherry trifle for dessert. After McDonald's and beer... yes... I stuffed myself once again. I was now stuffed beyond any reasonable comfort level. Oh well.


The Pattaya-Addicts crowd at TQ2
After White Night, it was off to TQ2 where Alf was having a "Naughty Nightie Praty". (The spelling error was originally on the monstrous banner that Alf ordered for the event, and was humorously transferred onto the SMS messages regarding the event, and hence to my blog.) The party was actually held for the Pattaya-Addicts.com crowd.

Pui and I called it a night just before 10:00 after a long, full day.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Best Nike Commercial Ever

Ronaldinho is so cool. (p.s. This is one of the most watched videos ever on YouTube.com.)

Friday, February 16, 2007

Daily Report: White Night

Pretty good morning for work. Fair-to-middlin' in the afternoon. Fuji for lunch.


White Night Restaurant on
Soi VC is one of Pattaya's
best meals for the price.
This evening, Pui and I went with Stan, Mem and Glen to White Night buffet restaurant for their 220 baht all-you-can-eat buffet. The restaurant is located on Soi VC about 50 feet past (East of) the entrance to Sunee Plaza, and on the same side of the street.

The buffet is absolutely awesome, with a full range of hot dishes placed out, along with several kinds of rice, soup, and vegetables. The entrees tonight were (as I remember) chicken in white wine sauce, pork in mango sauce, sweet and sour pork, beef curry, pork wrapped in bacon, and vegetables in wine sauce. There was also a tomato soup, a vegetable soup of some kind, three rice dishes, three kinds of quiche, and three kinds of salad. The restaurant operates on a 14-day cycle, with the buffet changing dishes every night.

The dessert buffet was also great, with blueberry mousse, banana custard, two kinds of apple pie, a apricot pecan pudding, and apple crumble. For 220 baht ($6) it is an astounding deal. Along with Cherry Restaurant, it has my highest recommendation in all of Pattaya.

After dinner, it was off to Stan's house for TV and beer, and then it was home.

Pui, with her diet that is heavy in leaf-like vegetables, swallowed a stem of some kind that put quite a pain in her throat. Her witchcraft-like solution was to take Poopy-Cat's paw and rub it 3 times along the base of her neck.

Pui — I believe — knows that such a thing is hokum, but somehow feels compelled to try... in the same way that normally sane Westerners avoid the number 13.

Good Thing Mom's Not Selling Soon

Housing prices this quarter have seen the biggest drop in history, and the worst hit area in the country?
Vacation markets, where investor-buyers had driven up prices during the building boom of 2005, were particularly hard-hit.

The Sarasota-Bradenton-Venice, Fla., market saw the biggest year-over-year decline in the fourth quarter, with prices plunging 18 percent.
Ouchie.
The cheapest market was Elmira, N.Y., where the median price was $78,400. That was off 0.5 percent from a year earlier and down 16.2 percent from the third quarter, which is when prices there peaked.
Double ouchie ouchie.

Friday Cat Blogging

It's not tin, but it is nice and warm up there in the sun, and a perfect vantage point for the entire soi.

Sunni or Shi'ite... Take The Quiz

Do you know which is Sunni and which is Shi'ite? Take the quiz and find out.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Daily Report #1783

Woke up a little late. Started work even later. Got about half a day done compared to what I would like. Had soup and sandwich for lunch, and these flaky meat pastries called "Puffies" from 7-11 for dinner.

Pui and Go went out to their weekly Giffarine meeting tonight, leaving Pot and I home alone. (I actually had to convince Pui to take Go along with her for a change. She didn't want to take Go because that meant leaving me (not Pot) home alone.)

Pot and I had fun. We made popcorn on the stove.

I've been watching a fun show on cable called "The Science of the Bible" in which historians, theologians, archeologists, and anthropologists get together to determine as best they can what really happened in the Bible. Last week's episode examined the sermon on the mount and Jesus' ministry, and made interesting (and actually complimentary) points about what the Bible says about it. Tonight was The Last Supper. It was determined that The Last Summer was eaten on the roof of a 1-story house in the outskirts of Jerusalem, almost certainly included women and children, and they even recreated The Holy Grail as best they could based on archeological findings. Fun show.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Daily Report: Valentines Date

I only got in half a morning's work, and no work at all in the afternoon. Subway delivery for lunch.

Pui was in a dour mood last night because she had loaned a friend of hers 1000 baht, and her friend has apparently run off with the money or something. (I tell Pui time and again not to loan money to people, but she doesn't learn.)

Well, today I turned that frown upside down.

I went out late morning and picked up a beautiful arrangement of roses for Pui and a smaller bouquet for Maid Go. (Roses are so much cheaper in Thailand... about $2.50 per dozen.) I also got Pui a 1-baht gold bracelet. (Valentine's day is also our de facto 1-year anniversary, hence the gold.)

Pui of course was thrilled to death. She spent the afternoon walking around the house, grinning, half dancing, following around her outstretched wrist.
Tonight Pui, Go, Pot and I joined Mike and Riza, and their friends Richard and Beth (and their little boy James), and Rat (Justin's girlfriend) for dinner at a beachside restaurant on the northern outskirts of Pattaya. (I never heard the name of the place.) The picture above was snapped a few feet away from our table. Very, very low tide. The buildings in the distance looking down the beach are the same buildings in the distance looking up the beach from this picture that I posted from Larry Soi 7 the other day below.

The food was the standard Thai seaside restaurant fare: A couple of chicken dishes as Mike doesn't eat seafood, a pile of clams, a pile of crabs, a tureen of fish soup, and a big whole fish stewing over a fire in a fish-shaped chafing dish. Oh... Add to that 8 large bottles of beer.

After dinner, it was back home where Pui and I watched another two episodes of "24". We're about four-fifths of the way through season one now... only 100 more episodes to go until we're caught up to the end of season 5. (In related news, it seems that the U.S. Army is upset at Fox and the producers of "24" because the show is "mainstreaming" the use of torture, racial profiling, and questionable or outright illegal methods to save the day.)

Quotacious

"Tomorrow is Valentine's Day. ...
I think everybody has Valentine's Day
fever. Hillary Clinton, for example,
will be wearing her sexiest pant suit"

Freeze! Police! Put The Weener Down

Thai police have chosen Valentine's day to patrol "internet cafés, shopping malls, night clubs and discos" in a quest to stop teens from breaking the law... by having sex. Granted, most teens don't have sex in the middle of internet cafés, but logic never stops a Thai "government-is-concerned-about-public-welfare" stunt from going balls to the wall.

Apparently the Thai police have chosen Valentine's day to send out "special teams" to perform their zipper checks because — as everybody knows — teenagers are only horny on February 14th.

Actually... it's true. In Thailand, teenage virgins of the female persuasion are — if they are planning to at all — a hundred times more likely to give it up on Valentine's day than any other day, with 49% of all teens (11% of whom are virgins) saying that they planned on getting jiggy with their Valentine today.

So yes... the police are enforcing a 10:00 p.m. curfew on Valentine's day. So guys, if you want to get some, keep an eye on your watch... and don't do it in a booth at Starbucks.

1 Drunk Viking Versus 10 Thai Cops

Granted, sometimes it is reasonable that Thai people get 10 of their friends involved in a fight with a foreigner... such as this example: A monstrous, belligerent, drunk Norwegian who snaps his handcuffs in two and lays waste to anyone within range of his mallet-sized fists.

Just another average night in Fun City.

Wednesday Family Blogging

Pot in the center, Pui on the left, and Neal Junior on the right.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Quotacious

"This weekend, President Bush gave a speech
honoring Abraham Lincoln's birthday. There
was an awkward moment when Bush referred to
Lincoln as 'the guy who invented the penny.'"

Daily Report: Pizza and Passports

I had a good stretch of work in the morning, and got in half of my goal in the afternoon.

For lunch, it was out to Valentino's for lunch with Glen, Stan, and Mick. I had pizza, while Glen had ravioli, which I'm set to order next time I go.

Question: Is it true that when foreigners leave the United States, immigration does not check their passports and/or stamp them out of the country? This seems impossible to me, but Glen insists that is the way that it is. (Stan says it is the same for England.) I looked on the internet and couldn't find any reference one way or the other. If you happen to know, tell me in the comments.

This evening, Pui and I sat down and watched another 3 episodes of "24". Another two days and we'll be done with the first season.

Nice Photo

Larry Soi 7 put up some photos on PattayaSecrets.com yesterday, and this one was particularly nice. It's nice to be reminded that there are some lovely parts of Pattaya. The rest of the photos that Larry put up are more of the newsy/interesting variety. If you want to go see them, click here.

This is Beach Road in Pattaya. It goes on like this for about 4 miles (actually to about where you see the buildings in the distance) between a 3-lane one-way road on one side, and the beach on the other. On the far side of the road are multitudes of bars, stores, and hotels.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Daily Report #1782

Pot was off to school today, having turned the corner on his illness. I was up at a proper time (but still after an hour's worth of snooze-button slapping) to see him off when the van from school picked him up.

Then I sat down and got in a good morning's work, had a salad for lunch, and then proceeded to pretty much blow off the entire afternoon's work.

This evening Pui and I sat down and watched the next 3 hours of "24"... episodes 13, 14, and 15.

Russian Tourist Gang Rumbles With Thai Guys

This is interesting...

Seems like a few Russian guys got into a scuffle with some Thai guys, and as per usual, the within seconds, the Thai guys outnumbered the Russian guys and gave them a trouncing. However, in an amusing turn of events, the Russian guys took off and in a couple of minutes, returned with a dozen of their friends and proceeded to beat on the Thai guys.

So it appears that at least one nationality has figured out how to fight Thai style.

The Russian guys still lost because the Thai guys picked up planks of wood and started beating the Russians with those. Additionally, all the Thai guys all managed to run off before the police showed up and none of them got arrested, while all the Russians got hauled off.

The point? If you're going to fight in Thailand... you'll still lose... but at least these Russians gave it a fair try.

Stupid Tourist Contest Again

Once again, two Indian guys are drugged, robbed and filmed.

I'm assuming that the Thai girls who keep doing this are targeting Indian guys. My curiosity is now whether or not these girls are targeting Indian guys because Indian guys are uniquely retarded in such a fashion that they will normally blindly accept medication from a prostitute they just met, or if the girls just prefer to go out for Indian food before they attempt to find out how stupid their "date" really is.
Stupid Tourist #17 and #18drugged robbed and filmed.

Monday Vinnie Blogging

Today, we have Video Vinnie.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Daily Report: Sick Self Syndrome

I spent the day in a self-indulgent mode of relxation and recovery. No work whatsoever.

I overslept by 4 hours (needed the sleep, obviously). Then I had Maid Go drive into town to pick up 2 kilos of crab for me. She steamed them, cracked them open, and brought me the tender white meat to enjoy while I relaxed in bed, reading a book. Then I had a massage... then a nap. After that, I surfed the internet for a while.

In the evening, Riza brought by lasagna for dinner, and I had piña coladas as well. Then Pui and I sat down and watched another 4 hours of "24" and drank beer.

Pot is doing better, as am I. We are both looking forward to getting back to usual first thing tomorrow.

Smarty Pants

Just in case you decide to take the test, here is a free answer: Tupac Shakur wrote "Hit 'Em Up." What that question is doing in an IQ test (or, more accurately... just a general knowledge trivia test), I have no idea.

The Funniest You Tube Video Ever

If you don't laugh at this, you are hopeless.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Daily Report: Sick Son Syndrome Day Two

Pot once again was feverish and pained when he woke up this morning. Pui once again was trying to convince me that taking Pot home to Petchabuhn was a good thing. I once again gave Pot his medicine. His symptoms once again calmed down. Pui once again calmed down.

Unfortunately, I've caught a bit of what Pot has, so I've been taking his medicine as well, and keeping it at bay. I'm hypersensitive to changes in my body, and I could tell instantly when I started to get sick (in my sinuses), and took antibiotics within minutes of feeling something going wrong.

I was up last night for a while though with what I will call "gunky nose". It wasn't clogged up, and wasn't running... just begging to be constantly snorted clean.

I didn't get any work done today, and really didn't get any work done yesterday either. After last pay period, this one is going to be a bit of a letdown.

Daily Report: Sick Son Syndrome

Pot was much worse today with his tonsillitis. He was running a fever of 101.5º and as miserable as miserable could be.

Mothers in Thailand, when their children get sick, are certain of two things: One is that doctors don't know a damn thing if they speak Thai in an accent different from yours, and two is that if a sickness hasn't gone away in 2 or 3 days, ghosts are to blame.

Therefore, in Pui's mind, the only thing to do with a 5-year-old boy with infectious tonsillitis is to pack him up and take him on a 10-hour bus ride to Petchabuhn to see a doctor that speaks Isaan, and get him as far away from the ghosts that are causing his illness.

I finally put my foot down. I yelled at Pui, told her to stop ignoring me and my treatment suggestions, told her that there was no way in hell she was taking Pot to Petchabuhn, and that was the end of it.

Then, I went out and bought Tylenol, vitamin C juice mix, amoxicillin, throat spray, vapor rub, and ice cream. I gave Pot half a pill of Tylenol and half a pill of amoxicillin, spread on some vapor rub, sprayed his throat, and gave him some juice to drink, and ice cream to eat.

Within 20 minutes, he was up running around and laughing.

Unfortunately he still had a temperature of 101.5º. So I took him out to the pool and we swam around for a little while. (Pot, of course, had a blast.) Unfortunately his temperature, even in the cold water, didn't budge. I gave up on the temperature after that... since he seemed otherwise fine.

This evening, I got a whole group of people together to go out to Sizzlers steak house at the Royal Garden Plaza. There was Mem and Stan, Pui and I, Mike and Riza, Glen, Rick, Jerry, and Jerry's brother Neil, and a date Neil brought along.

I hate to admit it, but for once, the 400 Russian tourists eating around us were absolutely right: Get the 150-baht all-you-can-eat salad bar, the 35-baht bottomless soda, and forget about eating any of the 300-baht steak dishes. The entreeés aren't bad overall, but they pale in comparison to Thailand's best salad bar (with soup, pasta, and dessert table included).

After dinner, we went over to Rick's bar for a couple of beers. Then it was home.

Go has two of her cousins visiting her tonight, and Pui has an acquaintance visiting... a girl who came down from Udon to be a bargirl, but after one day on the job decided that the country life is the only thing for her. She's waiting for tomorrow's bus to take her home.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Daily Report: Hopeless Summer, Hopeful Future

My goal during lunch break today was to figure out how to get Pui a visa to go to America this coming summer. There are basically two options: One is a tourist visa, and two is a fianceé visa.

Americans who don't live overseas have no idea just how difficult it is for the average citizen of the world to visit America. Although the State Department pretends that it doesn't judge too harshly, if you are a citizen of Thailand and you...

  1. don't own a house;
  2. haven't been at the same job for 3 or 4 years... and have tax records to prove it;
  3. don't have an amount of money in the bank equivalent to approximately one year's salary;
  4. aren't leaving behind at least one child in Thailand as proof that you will be returning;
  5. don't have an American sponsor living in Thailand who will be bringing you back; and
  6. dont' have a round-trip airline tickets purchased in advance,
you won't be getting a visa. If you are missing any of those 6 things, and this is your first time applying for a tourist visa, your application will probably be rejected.

(NB: A respectable family name with 4 or more syllables; a passport full of stamps to Switzerland, Greece and/or Japan; a Chulalongkorn University Med School ID; carrying a Fendi purse with keys to a BMW clipped to the shoulder strap; and/or sporting handsome Chinese facial features can be acceptable alternatives to the 6 requirements above.)

Now, if I were to marry Pui here in Thailand, that would help if I had a work permit. It would prove that I'm coming back to do my job and wouldn't be leaving my wife behind. However, since my job is in America, I'm on a tourist visa, then marrying Pui in Thailand would make it even less likely that she would be able to go to America.

The next option is a fianceé visa. That is the best way to get your girlfriend to America, but getting it done in a period of less than 6 months... and probably closer to a year... is impossible. This is a good visa though because you send the application to America where it is "pre-approved" to be upgraded to "a green card" upon presentation of a marriage certificate. You then get a 90-day fianceé visa from the U.S. embassy in Bangkok, go to America, get married, and then your wife would have a permanent "OK to go to America" stamp in her passport, no further visas necessary.

Unfortunately, my trip is in the beginning of July... several months before a fianceé visa would be completed. Therefore Pui will not be going this summer with me on my trip to America, which is a major bummer.

However, we've decided to start the process of getting Pui a fianceé visa for my (our) next trip to America after this coming summer, which will be sometime in 2008.

Pui and I have been a couple for a year this month, and known each other for two years now. We already consider ourselves married, and are both 100% certain that we're happy with each other and have every intention of staying together for as long as we can imagine. Therefore, we are going to get the fianceé visa because we might as well start getting some of the benefits of a couple in the eyes of both the American and Thai governments. (We'll be just doing a "justice of the peace" thing in America, and then having a proper wedding in Thailand afterwards. You're all invited.)

Quotacious

"Well, it seems that the military has gone around and fired a whole bunch of people who speak foreign languages — Farsi and Arabic, etc... For some reason, the military seems more afraid of gay people than they are against terrorists, but they're very brave with the terrorists ... If the terrorists ever got a hold of this information, they'd get a platoon of lesbians to chase us out of Baghdad,"


Rep. Gary Ackerman,
speaking to Condoleeza Rice

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Daily Report: Party In Naklua

Average (bad) workday. I made a salad for lunch with the masses of vegetables I purchased last night at Foodland.

Pot (regardless of what I posted below) is still sick, and this afternoon his mother took him to the doctor, who gave him a shot in his butt.

This evening, Pui and I went out to Naklua (the Northern "suburb" of Pattaya), to the Bavarian Big Butt Beer Bar for one of her friend's birthday parties. (The bar isn't actually called that... I've forgotten the name... but if you saw the average size of the bargirls there, you wouldn't argue with my nickname for the place.)

I only go to Naklua about once a year, even though it is equidistant to my house from Rick's bar, and really is a nicer section of town. This area of town, however, is filled with Germans and since I've forgotten all of the German that I learned in college, I wouldn't find many people to talk to.

I was suprised at the makeup of the passers-by on the street outside The Five Bs. There were so many elderly German couples walking by. (I can always tell German couples because German men are the only people on earth besides Americans who wear mustaches (without beards) regularly. The German older women all seem to dress in earnest, far too-well groomed for being on vacation in a tropical resort.) It's quite a difference from central Pattaya, and especially Walking Street, which is primarily British and American men and philistine Russians with their harsh-looking girlfriends.

It was entertaining to listen to conversations between German punters and bar girls. The common language is English, and both bargirl and customer are operating at the "me like buy you drink" level of conversation.


From left to right is Na, Pui, Nok, Sue.
(Pui is smiling more now after I showed
her how to put on a proper smile.)
I wound up sitting with Sue, the birthday girl, and Nok, her sister-in-law. Nok is a very pretty older lady, but she has one of those voices that will put cracks in ceramic floor tiles if she targets it effectively. I had a fun time teasing her all night by jumping with fright, or cringing in pain every time she let rip the famous Pattaya greeting of "Hello! Welcome!" to pedestrians in the street. But she is an impressive girl, having more than a passing familiarity with English, German, Japanese, and Korean.

Sue is one of Pui's oldest friend's in Pattaya, and was Pot's first nanny in town. She is a very nice lady. I bought drinks for everyone, and ordered a pizza. We had a very nice time.

J.I.P. Old Music Showcase

Ministry (band site, wikipedia site) has always been my number-one favorite heavy metal band. The fact that I was listening to them when they were cranking out deafening, garbled, chain-saw explosions back when those pussies from White Lion were singing "Wait" gives you an idea of how long I've been a fan.

Anyway, here is the greatest industrial speed metal song ever written: Jesus Built My Hotrod. (Turn your volume up as high as it will go, of course.)

My Desire Area Smells Good Now


My new sexy scent, and
a furry backdrop.
Pui came home with a bottle of Giffarine cologne today and asked me to buy it for 500 baht. Unfortnately it was wrapped in hermetically-sealed plastic, so I had to purchase on faith.

For $13, it wasn't too much of a risk. It reminded me a little bit of a cologne called Xeryus. Unfortunately, as with most inexpensive colognes, different scents that make up the whole dissipate at different rates, so the bouquet goes from a crisp musk with a Cool Water floral/citrus background to smelling like lemon-scented carpet cleaning powder after about 20 minutes... and then gone almost completely within 40 minutes.

I had to laugh at the instructions on the back of box. It said "Directions: Spray at pulse spot and desire area." (So I sprayed my feet, because that is the part of me that my cats seem to love the most... the cats being the only people who express any type of desire for any particular area of my fatness on a regular basis.)

Pui sprayed some of my cologne on herself as well. Then, of course, she was obligated by Thai custom to give me 1 baht. (You see, you can't give a girl perfume in Thailand... she has to buy it herself. Apparently this is because she herself is the only one who is allowed to imply that she smells bad. Thus she gives somebody 1 baht for perfume that would otherwise be given for free.) (p.s. If somebody has heard that explained differently, please comment.)

Backwards Snack Foods

In Thailand, they steam the peanuts and serve the peas dried and crunchy.

I actually like peanuts better when they are steamed. They turn an odd purple/pink color, but the taste is much more enjoyable than "raw".

The dried peas are delicious too. They come coated in lots of different flavors, but it seems everybody's personal favorite is the wasabi coating. The coating is spicy enough to make your mouth do a little hot-foot dance, but not so hot as to cause any discomfort that lasts more than a few seconds.

Wednesday Pot Blogging


Pot comes bouncing out of his room this morning, clapping his hands and humming to the music that is constantly playing in his head.

"Feeling better this morning Pot?"

"Yup! Feeling better!"

"So you're ready to go to school now?"

"Cough, cough, wheeze, wheeze, cough."

"Oh so you're not better?"

(Miserable, sick little voice) "No, I have a cold."

Another Shopping Mall To Be Built In Pattaya

Yet another shopping mall... this one to be "the largest in the East" (whether that is the East of Thailand, or the East of asia is unknown). Cost is $35 million dollars, and location is soi 9 behind the police station between Beach Road and Second Road.

That brings us to a total of 3 large shopping malls, all being built within a mile of each other here in Pattaya. That will add to the 3 already here (Royal Garden Plaza, Mikes Shopping Mall, and Tukcom Plaza).

So, to run the numbers, Pattaya now has 6 shopping malls, 20 golf courses, 50 tourist traps, 500 hotels, 1000 restaurants, 2,000 bars, 5,000 little shops, 20,000 bar girls, and 50,000 expatriates like myself to enjoy them all. (Give or take.)

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Daily Report: One Through Five

I overslept quite a bit today because of being up at 6:00 a.m. the day before and not getting in a nap during the day. It's like that with me: For every hour less than 9 hours that I sleep in a night, I'm going to require 2 hours of sleep at some point in the future. I do hate that about myself. I want to be one of those people that can get 6 hours of sleep for months on end, and not feel it in the slightest.

My morning workday was only so-so. Okay... crappy, honestly. I had subway delivery for lunch. Then I put in a crappy afternoon. (Truth be told, my definition of crappy in regards to the amount of work I have been doing lately would have qualified as "more than acceptable" a couple of months ago. I'm just being hard on myself.)

In the early evening, Pui wanted to go out and spend the 120 baht of free coupons that we had for the bakery in Foodland. Of course, I had to pick up some odds and ends while I was at the grocery store. 4,000 baht later, we stopped in the bakery to pick up 120 baht of croissants. Nothing like free stuff, eh?

This evening, my intention was to sit down with Pui and watch the first episode of the first season of "24", which I joyfully found on DVD at Tukcom Plaza.

So we sat down and watched the first episode. It ended, and I got up to take the DVD out of the player, and Pui looked up at me from the sofa and made her "ow!" sound, which in Thai means, "Hey wait a minute!" So I acquiesced and let her watch another hour. "Ow!" A third hour. "Ow!" A fourth hour. "Ow!" A fifth hour. The girl is an instant hardcore "24" junkie. (I've never seen the first season before, and so far, it isn't as good as seasons 2 and 3, so Pui is in deep trouble when we get to those.) At this rate, we should be hitting season number 2 at the end of the week.

Windows Vista Lets Microsoft Delete Your Stuff

Sounds like Windows Vista won't be selling too well in Thailand, where 75% of the software on computers is infringing on one copyright or another. Windows Vista, you see, is going to be policing your computer for programs it doesn't approve of, and... poof!... deleting them.
[F]or the past few months the legal and technical communities have dug into Vista's "fine print".

Those communities have raised red flags about Vista's legal terms and conditions as well as the technical limitations built in to the software at the insistence of the motion picture industry. ...

The net effect of these concerns may constitute the real Vista revolution as they point to an unprecedented loss of consumer control over their own PCs.

In the name of shielding consumers from computer viruses and protecting copyright owners from potential infringement, Vista seemingly wrestles control of the "user experience" from the user.

Vista's legal fine print includes extensive provisions granting Microsoft the right to regularly check the legitimacy of the software and holds the prospect of deleting certain programs without the user's knowledge. ...

Vista also incorporates Windows Defender, a security program that actively scans computers for "spyware, adware, and other potentially unwanted software". The agreement does not define any of these terms, leaving it to Microsoft to determine what constitutes unwanted software.

For those users frustrated by the software's limitations, Microsoft cautions that "you may not work around any technical limitations in the software".
Wonder what Windows Vista will think of my MP3 collection... or software for downloading it? Do you think Windows Vista will be informing Microsoft of the contents of the file folder on my computer innocently labeled "Favorite Pics"?

Do you really want an operating system on your computer that calls home to Microsoft every night after you go to bed, files a report, then receives orders from corporate headquarters... and then executes them without so much as an Abort/Retry/Ignore input from you?

Think about it: For the first time in history, you are going to be buying and using a product that takes orders from its manufacturer without... or regardless of what your own preferences are.

You really think so Mr. Gates? Shee-it bro, you can keep your big-brother billion-buck backstabbing bugaboo in your own house. I like my Betty Page and Led Zepplin collections where they are, thanks.

Presidential Priorities

The President has released his new proposed budget.

He is cutting Medicare and Medicaid... health insurance to the elderly, and children below the poverty line... by $100 billion over the next 5 years.
The president's budget would also reduce spending for Medicare and Medicaid, the federal government's health programs for the elderly and the poor, by about $100 billion over five years. And it would provide insufficient extra cash to maintain coverage for poor children currently enrolled in the Children's Health Insurance Program.
In related news, the war in Iraq will likely cost us $1 trillion. That could have given every child in America a free private college education along with... oh... about $100 billion for healthcare left over. $1 trillion could have bought every family... all 40 million of them in America... a new Prius. (Or could have just written every family in America a check for $25,000, naturally.)

In fact, I'm willing to bet that with $1 trillion put into research and development, that famous American ingenuity probably could have created an economically viable alternative energy production system that would have made the world completely independent of oil and fossil fuels.

Well, at least the Iraqis are happy and free and safe from murderous dictators, so it was all worth it.

[/rant]

Go Yankees

It's a judgement call on whether or not to fight when you are the victim of a crime in Thailand. If you are being robbed, feel free to yell "ka-moy! ka-moy! shoo-ay! shoo-ay!" (Thief! Thief! Help! Help!) as loud as you can while you avoid getting stabbed or shot.

Thai people are actually pretty good about playing hero, and getting involved during crimes... just like in fights between Thais and farangs, actually... which is why you shout "ka-moy! shoo-ay!" while you're resisting, so that the newcomers aren't confused as to who to beat up.

Anyway, if you do decide to fight back, hopefully your case turns out like this American's, and (a) you don't get hurt, (b) you capture one of the crooks, and (c) you get your and your girlfriend's face on television.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Quotacious

"Former Clinton adviser Dick Morris said,
'Hillary Clinton will be the next president,
but she'll be the worst president we've ever seen.'
After hearing this, President Bush said,
'Wait a minute, I'm not finished yet.'"

Monday Vinnie Blogging

Vinnie and Ivan having/wearing lunch.

Daily Report: Parties

I had my alarm set for 5:30 a.m. this morning, and I can actually proudly say that I was not asleep at 6:00 a.m. Granted, I was standing in the middle of my bedroom in a swaying stupor, but I had accomplished the feat of awakeness nonetheless.

I got in a shower, and it was off to Bob's for a Superbowl SunMonday Morning Party. Unfortunately, I arrived halfway through the first quarter, and already the score was 14 to 6. I missed essentially half the game, it turns out.

I didn't win the pool, of course. I didn't feel too bad though: Another of Bob's friends at the party was in a $100,000 (dollar, not baht) pool back in America, and a missed field goal just before half-time denied him a $25,000 prize. Glen, however, won both the first quarter and half time prizes at Bob's, so he had a good day.

I left about midway through the third quarter (as soon as the Bears kicked a field goal, making my pool numbers a statistical impossibility) and went home and got some work done. Then I had spaghetti for lunch, and spent a good portion of the afternoon goofing off.


I know it seems cruel to snap photos
of a suffering little kid, but I had
the "shutter sound" on my phone set to
"chimpanzee", and was trying to cheer
Pot up by pretending that my phone
thought he was a monkey.
Pot was home sick from school today, and he is still quite miserable. So what does Pui do? Take him over to Mem's house while she helped Mem get ready for her birthday party so that Pot could play with the kids visiting Mem from upcountry if he wanted to. Now, I'm convinced that Pui is not mentally defective, and that it is merely her Thai reasoning and culture that leaves me baffled at times... not her intelligence... but still. Sheesh.


Mem's birthday party at Stan's house.
This evening, Pui and I were off to Mem's birthday party at Stan's house in the evening. There were about 40 people there, 50% Thai and 50% farang. The gang from TQ2 was there, and Bob did the food. There were piles of ribs, bar-be-que chicken, crab, shrimp, and two pigs over open fires.


Mem and Pui. (Pui is so hard to get a
good photo of. She's got the most
glowing smile, but she's uncomfortable
really letting it shine for the camera.
I spent some time talking with my friend Geordan, who is an Aikido instructor here in Pattaya. He's interested in getting hired by my company to work. I'm actually interested in taking some Aikido lessons, and will have to get back to him on that once I find some spare time.

I called it a night at about 9:30, as did most of the farangs. However, the Thai people were upstairs on the back deck with the karoake machine, and Pui wasn't going to be torn away from a night of Thai food, Thai drink, and Thai music with her Thai friends. So therefore she is catching a ride home with one of her friends later in the evening.