Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Check it out in the right column under the "Amazing Thailand" heading!
Saturday, December 26, 2009
May the holiday season bring joy to all of you!
You better watch out,
You better not cry,
You better not pout,
I'm tellin' you why,
Santa Claus is tapping,
He's bugging your room,
He's reading your mail,
He's keeping a file,
And running a tail,
Santa Claus is tapping,
He hears you in the bedroom,
Surveills you out of doors,
And if that doesn't get the goods,
Then he'll use provocateurs.
So you mustn't assume,
That you are secure,
On Christmas Eve,
He'll kick in your door,
Santa Claus is tapping,
Saturday, December 19, 2009
Very, very interesting to read all the comments online and hear all the buzz about the newest Tiger trash.
If you've been here on the site and read my previous posting about over-paid sport's stars, endorsements included, then you may have noticed that my posting was well before any of this news about Tiger Woods and his beautiful wife Elin surfaced.
How appropriate to see the story unfolding so soon after my last post.
Personally, I've never cared for this guy, simply because of what I call his "attitude" both on and off the course. Having read many of his comments online captured by astute journalists, he often came across as a patronizing know-it-all to me.
But, what I think we forget some times, especially when the subject is a major celebrity or sport's star, is they are simply human like the rest of us.
"Let those who have never sinned cast the first stone.." or something to that effect, I remember from my younger days when my family tried cramming religion down my throat. But hey, that little saying is true. Nobody can effectively argue with that statement.
Another is, "Walk a mile in a man's shoes before you judge him..." yet another that makes me stop and think.
Wood's problem is he is a golf superstar.
He's a handsome racial minority who rose through adversity and became a self-made man.
Beautiful wife, darling kids, perfect teeth, dresses well, toned muscles, tendency for privacy that many could easily understand...what a smoke screen huh? Oh well, not in my book to criticize the guy who's done nothing more than many of us have done, myself included.
I've always said that sports, as an entertainment entity, pays it's participants too much. Bring those salaries (and endorsements) down to earth, funnel the money into much more needed areas like the homeless, cancer research, AIDS and STD prevention, and most likely you'll see less bong hitting, pit bull fighting, and other vices that come with astronomical salaries...but you probably won't see a reduction in spousal fidelity because that's as old as the worlds oldest profession....
Very sad that a guy like him could have come so far, and just about have it all, and trash it like he did.
Privacy? As a super star? Come on, tiger cub...get real!
Tuesday, December 08, 2009
It’s about time I post this…almost a month late.
I took the video posted above, with my Canon digital IXUS 950 IS the early morning of our flood.
The events leading up to all this began with a freak accident in center Thung Lung, around 4 or 5:00 late Thursday afternoon, where a huge, ancient Tamarind tree suddenly succumbed to high winds and driving rain, falling into the street at our small traffic circle.
A very unfortunate young man from Surat Thani province (สุราษฎร์ธานี), who was working and training as a novice teacher at nearby
This sort of news put Thung Lung on the radar screen with the local media, and it was a surprise to Mam and I both to hear Thung Lung mentioned on the 5:00 news.
It took local city workers over two hours to free his body and transfer him to Mor Orr hospital.
The tree, well over a hundred years old according to a resident living on the circle, took several power lines and poles with it when it fell, sending parts of Ban Thung Lung and surrounding villages into a brown out. It also knocked out our ADSL Internet connection.
As the day progressed into early evening, the rains only increased in intensity and we began to hear about local flooding in the nearby villages of Ban Phrue, Phang La,
“It’s coming! I yelled to Mam.”
It’s early Friday morning, November 6, 2009 in
It’s been raining consistently every afternoon, between three and four o’clock, for the last week or two.
Beginning Wednesday the rains increased. Very heavy rains in the afternoon and continuing into the night, with almost continuous rain Thursday, beginning in the morning and continuing on into the night and early morning with only short periods of reprieve.
The meteorologists are calling it the "Northeast monsoon."
Why the Northeast, when it’s stuck over
(See pictures of last years flooding by clicking on “THE FLOOD” in the right margin). Even after all-day rains, the bridge remained clear, but with the water wavering just below the lip of the bridge.
I knew a flood was imminent, as I was sure the rains would continue on through the night, but by “Flood,” I meant the bridge would soon be covered with water and impassable as the pictures on my blog link “THE FLOOD” will show.
Mam and I have lived here in Ban Klong Tong Nûea for the past four years and have always been high and dry…until today.
Shortly after falling asleep last night I was awakened by a violent thunderstorm and heavy rains pounding our corrugated metal roof. The sound was deafening. I turned to Mam and said to her, “We’re definitely not going to have school tomorrow because Thung Lung (The village where my school is located) will be flooded.
“Ung..Um,” was all I got before she drifted off again.
Around three in the morning I awoke once again and heard people out on the road talking. Shaking off the sleepiness, I got up to have a look, as people outside talking at three in the morning was a sure sign people were rousing due to rising flood waters.
I wasn’t quite prepared for what I saw when I peeked out our bedroom window though.
First I noticed a large puddle on the path to our house, but other than that I couldn’t see much else around our house.
Flashlights ('Torches to you Chris, I suppose') and headlights were busily interrupting the blackness of the early morning, as across the street from us some of the locals were moving their vehicles and motorcycles to higher ground.
Curious, I went into our adjoining upstairs room where the computer desk is located and glanced out the window looking out on our side yard (The side closest to the
“Uh oh!” I uttered, rousing Mam from her slumber.
“What? What’s wrong Jeeem?” (Nothing like an Uh oh! to immediately rouse Mam from her sleep, she's a mother you know...).
“Remember when I said I wished we’d have a flood? Well, I got my wish, only it’s a little worse than what I wished for!”
"Uowweee! Mai yak chuah!" (Uowweee! I can't believe it!).
Within minutes we were roaming around the house, wading through ankle deep water downstairs as the flood waters bubbled up through cracks and holes in our concrete floor.
Mam and I had been in a flood before, while living on Soi three in Thung Lung village, so we pretty much knew what to do.
Both of us still groggy with sleep, we quickly got busy carrying things upstairs and setting things up higher so they wouldn’t get damaged by the water. It really sucks doing something like that at three in the morning, but hey, you do what ya gotta do, you know?
Within an hour, we were comfortably nestled upstairs, dry and cozy, Mam watching the flood waters rise from our upstairs vantage point, while I prepared myself another coffee from our mini-kitchen setup Mam had fashioned into a corner of our bedroom.
Mam has this uncanny ability to make any situation comfortable, and this was no exception. She had quickly set up all our downstairs facilities, upstairs...and in a relatively small space, had made things really cozy and neat. That's only one of the many things I love about her.
Thank goodness we still had electricity.
The old Shaman woman across the street told Mam she hadn’t seen a flood this bad in the village for at least twenty years. Then, I suddenly pointed out to Mam that the water in our fore yard was flowing towards the
When Mam mentioned that to the old woman, she was told the flood waters were coming from the mountain to our south, and not so much from our local Tong river.
As I write this, (I wrote most of this as the actual flood was happening...much to the consternation of my wife) the flood waters are beginning to recede just a bit, most likely due to somebody opening a dam in Hat Yai, because the rains, if anything, have not stopped, and are actually increasing.
Once the T.V. channels woke up, Mam and I learned we were wicked lucky, as other villages were totally inundated. Thung Lung was paralyzed. Phone lines were down and even the cell towers weren't working correctly. We couldn't get a good signal on our mobile phones. At Took's store, Mam learned the water was waist deep in homes along Soi's two, three, and four, as well as behind the local wet market, a low lying area.
All this excitement got me thinking (I do that from time to time…)...
All the times I watched T.V. while living in the states or abroad, I’d see news broadcasts about floods, and think to myself…"Wow, too bad."
I’ve always been a bit morbid when it comes to things like that, wanting to be able to experience the same thing.
To just be there, you know?
Well, possibly you don’t know. Maybe I’m just some sort of weirdo (No comments from the peanut gallery Annie!).
The flood Mam and I experienced on Soi three in Thung Lung village (circa 2006), never entered our house, only coming into the car port, as the house we were renting was built very high off the ground.
But now that we’ve actually been in a severe flood, I’ve noted there are many things you don’t think about while sitting in the comfort of your home watching a flood somewhere else on T.V., the village people all wading around in waist deep (or deeper) water, with broad smiles on their faces…the kids happily splashing about and having the time of their lives.
"Kids..." what it would be like to be a kid again without a care in the world, except where my next candy bar was coming from...
I mean there’s really nothing much you can do about it, except move things about and to higher ground, so why get all bummed out about it…right?
First off, there’s the smell.
The flood waters cover everything on the ground, and with that, they pick up oils, gasoline, kerosene, and other chemicals from inundated garages and junk yards.
Sewers and honey wells back up, animal excrement floats about, and after a few days, bloated carcasses of dead animals float around, eventually getting stuck somewhere in brush…hopefully not near your house.
Secondly there is the issue of water.
Quite often dug wells become contaminated by flood waters, turning what was fairly decent drinking water into cloudy bacterial infestations. Ground water often becomes undrinkable after being contaminated by oils, fuels and solvents. And if your well isn't a gravity feed and you have a well pump, whether your well is contaminated or not, the electricity is usually shut off so you cannot get water from your well.
All it takes is just a few hours without water to begin to understand what an important commodity it is.
Thirdly is the electrical situation.
As the flood waters rise, the electric company (EGAT, the Thailand monopoly) shuts off service to protect people from electrical shock or damage.
Like the water situation, it only takes a few hours to begin to fully appreciate how much we rely on this important utility.
Fourth and last (there’s more, but this posting is lengthy enough) is the clean-up.
One word: Filth!
Cleaning up after a flood is not something for someone with a weak stomach, especially if the flood water has hung around for a few days or weeks.
Then, there is the issue of residual odor. Things smell stale and musty for days or weeks.
Concrete (what the lower floor of our cottage consists of) is like a big sponge. It soaks up the water and takes weeks to dry out…months if the rains continue.
Mam was upset by my incessant cleaning saying it wasn’t necessary, as I first hosed everything down until the water ran clear, then I washed the floor and walls with a cherry scented cleaner, then I followed up with a half-strength solution of Detol® and water, a fairly strong, pine smelling, anti-bacterial.
All I said to her was, “What would you do if your neighbor came over here and pooh-poohed on our floor? Would you just wipe it up with a piece of newspaper?”
It’s been approximately three weeks since our flood, and the concrete floor still hasn’t thoroughly dried, but the musty smell has finally left us.
The meteorologists say the Northeast monsoon has stalled over the
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
It's so true and clever. That's exactly how Aussie's sound!
Thursday, November 05, 2009
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
In my junior year of high school my coach placed me on the varsity tennis team after I had participated in a tennis camp the previous summer. I quickly rose in the ranks until I had beaten the top sixth seed on the team, quite an accomplishment for me, one who had never excelled at sports.
The total was a breath-taking…
Friday, October 09, 2009
Saturday, October 03, 2009
Over the years, both of us have heard all sorts of things on the roof. We’re surrounded by a thick jungle of fruit trees, Sataw trees (very tall trees that produce a popular, edible stink bean), and Mangda trees (popular with Thai’s for their edible leaves).
Some evenings it’s rats. Other times a “widow maker” falls from high above, crashing loudly on the roof and jolting us awake or causing us to jump if we’re quietly watching T.V.
In the early evening and early morning, we hear the scritch, scritch, scritch of teacher birds on our roof. I nicknamed them "teacher birds," since one of their many, varied calls sounds just like they’re saying, “Teacher, teacher, teacher.” Upon looking them up in our well-worn “bird book “sitting on our dining room table, we’ve found that “Teacher birds” are what is known as the “Common Mynah,” here in Southeast Asia.
There are hordes of teacher birds all over the place. Similar to blue jays in the Northeastern U.S.
The sound we heard this particular night was different though. It was definitely an animal, but different than we had heard in the past.
“It’s a bird I think,” uttered Mam, both of us looking up at the ceiling as if we could somehow see through to what was causing the commotion.
“Nope. Too loud and too heavy for a bird,” I said.
“If that’s a rat, we’re in trouble. That would be the biggest rat I’ve ever seen. It’s heavier than that. Listen…hear how heavy?” Mam turned the volume down on the T.V. and listened as it was actively scurrying across the roof and back again, nodding in agreement.
Then the noise stopped for a while.
Mam and I both were still riveted by the new sound though, so we both were lying in bed silent, waiting.
Three minutes passed…five minutes….nothing.
Mam looked at me and I at her, we both shrugged, and Mam turned the volume up on the T.V. when suddenly it happened again.
A loud scurrying across the roof. Something quite heavy scurried quickly across the roof to the opposite side. If I weren’t in Thailand I’d swear it was a raccoon.
Mam and I got out of bed and went into the adjacent room. Again, looking up at the ceiling we pinpointed approximately where it was, picked up a broom and poked the ceiling underneath the sound with the broom handle.
Things were quiet for some time and we finally turned off the T.V., settling in for the night. No sooner had we drifted off to sleep when suddenly we were jolted awake with another burst of activity on the roof.
Thinking what to do, I figured my only recourse was to go outside with a flashlight and climb the ladder leading up to our water tower…
We’ve got this huge water tower beside the house, which is approximately twenty feet (6.09 meters) high. The thing holds nine-100 gallon blue plastic barrels of water our landlady uses to irrigate the fruit trees during our dry season.
…to see if I could get a good vantage point in which to spot whatever it was on our roof.
I was as silent as I possibly could be. Eventually I reached a height where I had a fairly good view of the south-side of our roof. Positioning myself, I hooked my leg through one of the ladders rungs and hung myself outward, training the flashlight onto the roof.
There, on the lower back corner, was something that at first looked like a takraw ball, a small plastic ball of weaved plastic used to play “takraw” a game like volleyball, but only using one’s feet.
Then the ball moved.
“What is it?” Mam shouted up to me. “Damn-est thing I’ve ever seen,” I uttered.
Finally things began falling into place. I suddenly remembered seeing a picture of this thing somewhere…
And here it is…..
To a Texan like me, my first thought was, “Well I’ll be damned! An armadillo!” Having seen many armadillo’s in Southwest Texas, most of them road-kill though.
Then suddenly it moved. The thing unraveled, got up and in a sort of dragging motion, scurried across the roof to the other side. I quickly descended the water tower ladder and went to the opposite side of the house to see if I could find it, only to discover the animal had disappeared. Most likely it had climbed onto one of the many trees that brush the side of our house, coming into contact with the roof.
After searching the tops of the trees adjacent to the roof, shining the flashlight around to see if I could spot the animal again, I finally gave up and went into the house. Upstairs I had a box of newspaper articles I had clipped and saved, remembering an article I had cut out about the very same animal, which had been found hidden in a trucks cargo hold as the driver tried to cross the border, smuggling several live animals into Cambodia.
Finding the article I didn’t have to read much of it before I came to the name…Pangolin. Quickly scanning the article, it told of the animal being critically endangered, a delicacy in many Asian countries, primarily China, and commanding a hefty price on the black market since it was becoming scarce.
Then I turned to the Internet. A couple of quick Google searches and I was an amateur expert on the thing.
As it turns out, this heavily scaled animal is not related to either an armadillo, or an anteater, two animals it is often confused with. This thing on our roof was in fact, not related to any other animal at all, it’s species being fully unique.
The Pangolin has no teeth, and strikingly similar to an anteater, has an extremely long, sticky tongue used exclusively for reaching into termite mounds and ant nests to lick out its prey.
The Pangolin’s scales are somewhat different than an armadillo, in that they are razor sharp and if handled incorrectly will inflict severe, deep razor-like wounds.
It also has the capability to emit quite a noxious odor if provoked, leading one to understand that this animal is more than adequately equipped to protect itself. How ironic it’s most dangerous predator is man.
One entry on a Pangolin website said this:
“Should you ever spot one of these animals in the wild count yourself extremely fortunate as they are endangered and very rarely seen. If you are lucky enough, your view might be of it rolled in a tight ball; this is one of its main defense mechanisms.”
Well, I certainly do feel fortunate! But I do wish it would pick somebody else’s roof!
Just scanning the area around our home, you can easily see why a Pangolin would choose this area to live. Scattered throughout the area are several huge termite mounds popping up here and there among the various fruit trees and thick jungle vegetation.
For more information about this rather interesting, highly endangered animal, take a look here, or here, or here.