Friday, December 31, 2010

Leonard James Anderson

Born 25th July 1955

On this day…

  •  I was born on a Monday.
  •  My star sign is Leo.
  •  My birthstone is Ruby.
  •  The season when I was born was summer.
  •  I was born in the Chinese year of the Sheep.
  •  The US President was Dwight D. Eisenhower (Republican).
  •  The UK Prime Minister was Sir Anthony Eden (Conservative).
  •  Monday's child is fair of face.
  •  I am 55 years 5 months 6 days old.
  •  It is 206 days until my next birthday.
  •  In dog years I am 385 years old.
  •  I am currently 20,248 days old.
  •  I am approximately 485,953 hours old at this moment.
  •  I am approximately 1,749,431,731 seconds old at this moment
  •  In 1941, the U.S. government froze all Japanese and Chinese assets.
  • 1998 - U.S. President Clinton was subpoenaed to appear before a federal grand jury regarding the Monica Lewinsky case. The subpoena was withdrawn when Clinton agreed to give videotaped testimony with his lawyers present.
  • 1990 - Rosanne Barr sang the National Anthem in San Diego before a Padres baseball game. She was booed for her performance.
  • A lot of people were also born, some of who became famous, and then there is “Dave” a guy from Danvers, Massachusetts who I met in drug rehab.

I couldn't put it off any longer...

My passport was due to expire on January 10th of next year, so I had to renew it.  Living here in Asia, the rules are different.  Why?  I have no idea.  If I was still in the U.S., all I would have had to do would be to send my passport to some government agency located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  But, since I live abroad, I have to show up at the U.S. Embassy here so they can see me in person.  Doesn't quite make sense, but then it's a government thing, and most government things don't make sense.

Not only does it not make sense, it's expensive.  I had to travel to Bangkok, where the U.S. Embassy is located, check into a hotel, take multiple taxi's, and of course eat.  An expensive endeavor I was not prepared for due to my present financial situation.  I have been behind in my finances for some time now due to quitting the job at Sathit Rajabhat Songkhla School and consequently spending months only working piece jobs.  I'm catching up now, but there for a while I my British friend Rich calls it....SKINT.

I booked a van in Hat Yai, traveling to Bangkok, since I figured if I took a bus I'd end up at Morchit Bus Station and then have to take a taxi to my expense I wanted to avoid, as the money was going to be very tight.  But as it turned out, the van selection was a stupid idea.  I knew from past experiences (taking a van to Krabi for my holiday on Koh Phi Phi island and my many trips to Georgetown, Penang) that the van drivers are psychotically insane and drive like they are on a vehicular manslaughter / suicide mission, not to mention the uncomfortable seats.  But, I did it anyway...just to save the money for a taxi.  I was assured by the lady at the agency I'd be taken right to the front door of my hotel.

I should have known...

Christ, I've lived here for six years now.  You'd think I'd have learned that nobody who is Thai and runs a business tells the truth.  They say what a foreigner wants to, "Of course the van will be on time."  and "Yes, the van will take you directly to your hotel."

I paid my fee of 700 baht and was told to arrive promptly at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday the 14th of December.  First off, you have to understand that the word promptly does not exist in Thai language or dialects.  I arrived at 8:20 a.m. because that's what I do.  I've been early my whole damn life.  I'm almost never late.  But, that's a Western concept that only Westerner's understand.  So, I arrived and waited...and waited and waited.  Finally at 9:05 a.m. the van driver arrived and I loaded up.  I was the only passenger at that agency and I knew we'd be traveling around to other agencies and locales to pick up other passengers before finally leaving.

What the hell is wrong with women?

Women...especially Asian women, can waste more damn time.  Practically every woman the van driver picked up had to fiddle-fart around, complaining about this and that, giving the van driver her bags then telling him, "No wait!  I need something-or-another..." then getting the bag, dumping the contents out on the sidewalk for all to see, and picking up some small compact so they can smear some powder on their damn faces..."Wait!  I've got to go to the bathroom!"  "Wait!  I just need to pick up something at the store first."

Jesus freaking christ.

But, the first real insult came at our fourth stop.  The van driver stopped at a tour agency-cum-hotel booking agency-cum-newsstand-cum-restaurant.  Four people boarded and the driver got out and went into the restaurant.  He ate his breakfast (slowly) and ended up staying there for an ungodly forty-eight minutes, picking his teeth and flirting with the waitress.  Finally we left.  It was pushing 10:52 a.m.

The van turned onto route 4 south, heading for the route 4/41 intersection but stopped short and pulled over on the side of the road.  I scanned the inside of the van and noticed one empty seat.  Vans always pack the people inside...a van will hold approximately 15 people with their fold-down seats...we were already at fourteen.  So, I figured we were waiting for another passenger and I was right.  Only problem...he was Thai and he was very, very late.

We finally got onto route 4/41 heading north to Bangkok at 11:23 a.m.

Then what I feared the most happened.  The driver began trying to make up for lost time and began driving like a maniac.  I've been living in in Asia now for almost eight years and I've survived a bus accident in Guangzhou, China, two horrendous motorcycle accidents in Xintang, China (where in both cases I walked away with a Chinese burn tattoo from the muffler), and many other hair-raising instances....but I was still afraid for my life as this asshole took sharp turns at lightning speed and I could feel the van wanting to go airborne.

We stopped a grand total of four times along the way for bathroom and snack breaks.  Every single time we had to wait for the women.  Even the van driver, who was Thai, was pissed off.

Finally we arrived in Bangkok...and drove, and drove, and drove.  Typically traffic was terrible in Bangkok even at that hour, which was now pushing 10:50 p.m.  Suddenly I began recognizing my surroundings a bit and as I feared, we were approaching Morchit Bus Station.  I held my breath, hoping the driver was just going to drop someone off, but no luck...everybody out.  I asked why in my terrible Thai and what I could understand was he was so late, he wanted to drop everybody at Morchit since everybody was going in too many different locations.  I plead with him to drop me near Lumpini park where my hotel was near, but no go.  He dropped everybody's bags on the tarmac and sped off.

I was on the side of the road in front of Morchit station for some fifteen or twenty minutes trying to get a metered taxi to my hotel.  Nobody wanted to drive to Lumpini area...for whatever reason.  Probably they only wanted shorter fares in order to make more money.  You see, Bangkok taxi's begin their meter at 35 baht at a dead-standstill.

Finally, an aging Thai man approached me.  "Bainai?  Where you go?"

"I'm going here (handing him the hotel's business card that was printed in both English and Thai)...near Lumpini Park and the Boxing station." (miming a Muay Thai boxer).

"Ahhhh!  Okay, let's go."

Taxi's will ask you, "Highway or no highway?"  It's a crap shoot too, unless you're a local and know the exact distance, since the highway will cost you 45 baht to get on and god only knows if you save money or not by not taking the highway.  Anyway, if you're not a local and know the area well, you're at the mercy of the taxi driver who can damn well drive in circles for awhile running up your tab, before finally arriving at your destination.

"Highway or no?"

"Highway I guess..."

"You speak Thai?"

"Pom poot Thai neet noi."

"Oh!  You speak little Thai huh?  You teacher?"

"Yes." (Christ...almost every goddamn foreigner who lives in Thailand is a freaking teacher)

"Ban unai?"

"I live near Hat Yai."

"Oh!  Hat Yai!  I have brother-in-law in Hat Yai" (this is either fact or fiction...but, Thai's are a prolific bunch, so it is entirely possible)

"Where you live in Hat Yai.  I know Hat Yai good."

"I said.  I live near Hat Yai, not in Hat Yai."

"Oh.  Songkhla?"

"No.  A small village called Ban Klong Tong Nûea, near Thung Lung."

"Ah!  Thung Song!"

"No, no!  Not Thung Song!  Thung Song is near Phattalung!  Thung Lung is near Sadao and Pedang Bezar."

"Oh!"  (I realize I've totally confused him now.  Hat Yai is the major city in the south, as is the second major city of Songkhla...but nobody knows of the smaller villages and towns south of Hat Yai."

So, we rode in silence as the meter ticked off money....

Finally we arrived in the area and I began getting my bearings...memories rushing back to me from back in 2003, the last time I stayed at the Malaysia Hotel.  I paid my fare of 101 baht, grabbed my bags and said thank you in Thai.  No tip.  You don't know Thung don't get a tip.  Ha!

I had to pay a late fee at the freaking hotel since I was supposed to check in by 9:00 p.m.  They told me they had already given my room to someone else so I'd have to stay in a bigger room with two beds and no T.V.  I didn't care about the T.V. since it was pushing 11:35 p.m. and I was exhausted from sitting in a goddamn maniac van for better than twelve hair-raising hours.  But, I started thinking to myself..."I'll bet this is all just a scam to get more money from me, as I'll bet since this is off-season, they didn't give my room out...they have plenty of rooms."  While looking at the key-board, which was full of room keys.

Next morning was better.  I awoke refreshed and ready to tackle the Embassy.  Played hell getting a damn taxi most had passengers, but finally I caught one and we sped off.  The U.S. Embassy is only about a kilometer from the hotel, so it wasn't much money.  About 58 baht or thereabouts.  There was already a line outside.  I got in line and began surveying the property.

Security naturally was pretty tight.  There's an observation room on the right that's glassed-in, with security personnel looking out at everybody who well as obvious and not-so-obvious CCTV cameras.  A mean-and-nasty looking Thai guy was behind the entrance door giving everybody the scrutinizing eye, with a definite large bulge under his suit jacket, which probably wasn't a copy of the Bangkok Post Newspaper.

When I finally approached the front of the line, I showed the woman my appointment slip and my U.S. passport and was immediately allowed to go forward.  I went through the door, passing Mr. jacket bulge, and went to a security counter where I had to give up the contents of my pockets, all electronic equipment (mobile phone and camera) etc.  Then I was given a key to my personal effects and allowed to exit through yet another door.  I followed the signs and eventually arrived at the area where you renew passports.  Everybody was nice, and I really felt comfortable.  Very helpful and overall a very nice experience. 

Once I finished and had paid my fee, I was given back my old passport and told my new passport would be sent to me within two weeks.  Then I was out of there...a grand total of about thirty minutes or so...not long at all. 

I hopped a taxi and went to Morchit Station (another 140 baht) where I booked a VIP bus home to Hat Yai.  The bus didn't leave until 5:30 p.m., so that kind of sucked, having to stay in that station for that long.  But, once I boarded the bus, I immediately knew it was going to be a nice experience and it was.  I gave my ticket to a man who in turn gave me a bottled water, boxed snack, and a blanket.  Then, as we were heading out of the city, they started a movie...albeit in Thai with no English subtitles, but nice all the same. 

The trip was very, very smooth and the bus wasn't full, so practically everyone had two seats to themselves.  The only annoying part was some asshole behind me who couldn't seem to eat with his damn mouth closed...smacking away and making these annoying little satisfied smacking, licking noises.  I wanted to turn around and belt him right in his kisser, but eventually I just fell asleep. 

We stopped only twice that I can remember.  I got out at one stop and walked around like a zombie, still punchy from hard sleep and picked up a couple barbecued pork sticks from a beautiful Thai was all like it was a dream.  Then inside the bus I ate my pork and once we were off, I realized I had to go to the restroom but had forgotten.  So, I attempted the bus bathroom. 

They should enter "Going to the Bathroom in a Bus while it's moving..." as an Olympic event. 

Finally and surprisingly quick, we arrived in Hat Yai and were turning into the bus station.  Of course I slept the better part of the twelve-plus hours I was on the road, so it didn't seem like long.  I went to the bathroom at the station, hounded by annoying taxi touts, then exited the south gate of the station and headed across the street for a Muslim restaurant I noticed, with a scarf laden woman tossing roti dough in the air.  Had a couple coffee's and two dishes of roti with curry sauce, and I was good to go.  Then I returned home to Ban Klong Tong Nûea via motorcycle taxi once I reached Thung Lung.  

I don't plan on heading back to Bangkok any time soon, but I have got it in my mind to head to Chiang Mai or Chiang Rai up north during vacation and I definitely plan to go by VIP bus!


Saturday, December 25, 2010

Hi everybody,

As of today I've decided to place this blog back into the public mainstream. 

After today it will not be private anymore unless I end up with problems again from the moronic foreigners here in Southeast Asia who find it necessary to stalk this site, for whatever reason, and leave brainless, immature comments.  I've changed the settings so it will be impossible for anyone who is not a member of this blog to post comments.

Onto bigger and better things...

A lot has happened in the last month or so, since my last posting in November. 

I've dumped the idea of interviewing people since it just isn't working out, with some people taking way too long to answer my e-mails and not sufficiently following simple protocol.  I just chalk it up to another bad idea like the one I had about doing a piece on the guitar masters - Steve Vai, Eric Johnson, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Joe Satriani, Jimi Hendrix, etc., trying to find who would be considered the all-round best guitar player of all time...there were just too many variables. 

There hasn't been any more cobra snakes in the house, but there have been two other occasions of snakes of unknown species coming into my abode.  It's the monsoon season here and the animals all seek refuge inside my cottage since it's only a tad drier in here than outside...ha!

The funniest thing happened the other night.  I was upstairs watching a movie and suddenly noticed the dogs were not with me.  Even Boo Boo, my cat was nowhere to be seen.  The animals never leave my side when I'm home...if I go upstairs, they follow.  If I decide to go downstairs to the bathroom, when I leave the bathroom, there they all are...sitting in the middle of the floor waiting for me.  So, I turned the volume down and listened.  I heard some muffled noises downstairs and figured they were up to no good.

When I got downstairs, there they all were huddled around something, staring at the floor.  Seriously!  Two dogs on either side of the cat, all looking down at the floor.  Odd, but then I figured they had found an interesting bug, so I went closer to investigate.  What I saw even surprised me.

A snail...but not just any snail.  A snail with a shell on it's back the size of my whole hand!

Now...I see snails all the time, but they are all the little ones, about the diameter of a U.S. quarter.  Then I see the big slugs with no shell, the biggest ones going maybe four to five inches in length and maybe an inch in width. 

This thing was huge! 

I don't think the dogs or the cat even noticed I was there.  They were mesmerized. 

I sat down on the floor and watched as first, Chok reached out and tapped at the snail with her paw.  Immediately the snail retracted into it's shell and the shell rolled off to one side. 

They all just sat there watching it.

Then, slowly it started coming out of it's shell again and in short order was mobile.  Then it was the cat's turn.  Boo Boo reached out and gave it a light tap. 

Slurp!  Back in it's shell. 

A minute or so and it began coming out again.  Then it was Puppy's turn. 



This went on for seemingly fifteen or twenty minutes.  I was laughing until my sides hurt.  Here were all three of my animals gathered around something they'd obviously never seen before, with the wonder of a small child on all their faces.  It couldn't have been funnier or sweeter. 

Sometimes it's the simple things in life that really make your day.


Monday, November 01, 2010

Sorry about the "blowing" sound on the video...rather irritating.  It's the fan I had going on the kitchen table.  

As I write this post, this very minute, my house and the jungle surrounding it is inundated in flood waters.  I arose this morning to an e-mail from work saying school was canceled today due to the rains as it's been raining steadily for the past two days really and hasn't let up much.  I managed to get everything upstairs, and here I stay while looking out my window at the expanse of water...sorta like being in a boat.  

This is the second year this cottage has flooded.  The villagers told Mam when she was living here that they'd never seen it flood this high up the road until last year.  But, I figured it was coming since this has been a very wet monsoon season.  

I'm probably crazy for taking the little kitty in, but like I mention on the video...I'm a sucker for animals.  I knew the minute the little kitten approached my motorcycle, I'd be taking it home with me.  Trouble is my dog Puppy.  He's insanely jealous and it's going to take some careful management before he takes to the little girl.  

Work is going pretty good.  Songsaeng School is quite literally right down the road from me, taking me all of a whopping five minutes to get to school in the morning.  The kids are older, which is a switch for me, but they all seem pretty nice and respectful for the most part.  I really hope this job becomes a permanent one.  

Well, not much else to say except I'm planning on just riding out the storm and once everything recedes, jumping on the cleanup as quickly as possible.  I'm lucky so far, as nobody's cut the power yet...sending me into boredville.  


Saturday, October 16, 2010

I would have posted this sooner but wouldn't seem to upload an .avi video, so I had to search around for a free video converter and changed the thing to .wma, which worked.

Excuse my weird actions and screaming paranoia, but it's not every day I find myself within feet of a potentially lethal snake.  It's not the first time I've seen cobra's around here, as I've seen at least five or six of them, mostly babies.  Seems this one's a teenager.

Before I could grab the camera, I threw my black boxer shorts down at the thing to try and rouse it from underneath the first step, as I didn't want it disappearing again, and sure enough it reared up and expanded it's hood...but, it also hissed and sent a steady stream of venom splashing against the steps and concrete wall.  If you look carefully at the wall to the right in the video, you can see the stain.

I'd gone downstairs earlier and heard a noise while washing the dishes and thought it was Chok, my little female dog, rummaging through the trash again.  I turned around and saw she wasn't there, then I saw the tail end of the snake going behind my little makeshift bookcase on the floor where I store my English lesson plans and school materials.  Black scales with some vague yellow markings.  I wasn't sure if it was a cobra or not, so tried scaring it out using an old mop handle but it wouldn't come out.  I wasn't about to go moving things on the condition it might be a cobra, so I just left it be and figured it would work it's way back outside again...eventually....hopefully.

The dogs scare the piss out of me since they appear to just mindlessly go after other animals and insects that have poisonous potential.  You'd think they would have some sort of instinct about stuff like that.  Puppy has been bitten by a centipede and was terribly miserable for at least three days.  They say around here that many dogs succumb to cobra bites and are found dead.  I certainly don't want it to happen to my pups!

Hope you enjoyed the video!

Monday, October 04, 2010

It's been a while since I let anyone know what's really been happening with me, so I'll attempt to be brief...

I left Patong Wittaya Mulnithi School in Thung Lung because I got sick of the corruption, lies, laziness, empty promises and back stabbing.  Pitiful situation for a school supposedly engaged in the education process.  Patong School, I kid you not, is run by a criminal.  A man who carries a gun, is driven around town in a big, black Ford truck with mirrored glass, replete with at least five armed body guards who do nothing to hide the fact they are packing weapons.

His brother, a corrupt local politician, was killed gangland style behind the Thung Lung market some four years ago.  He was found dead in the street with a single bullet hole in the back of the head.  So, the corrupt manager of Patong School is not educated, knows nothing about the educational process, yet he pulls strings at the school and effects day-to-day operations, like coming up with the bright idea to dump 100 plus kids on me, on a Monday afternoon, from ages 6 to 8, for a two hour class he called English Club. 

There's more, but that isn't my focus here.

In the last few months Mam was living with me, she was worried.  She spoke out one day saying, "You should learn to not talk.  To let things be.  You lost your job because of the things you say."  I begged to differ.  I said, " Thai's never stand up for yourselves.  Even when something is happening that you know is wrong...corrupt.  You just sit still and let it happen.  That is why Thailand is as it is now."

And so she left.  Mainly because the money coming in from me was insufficient.  She always wanted more, more, more...but was unwilling to work for it.  Rather ironically, after she left, within days, my prospects began paying off.  Suddenly there were jobs coming at me from all angles, but that didn't last. 

To avoid getting into a long, drawn out story, I will suffice it to say I fell into a whirlpool of piece jobs.  One would run out and another would appear.  But it wasn't enough to really live on.  Currently I'm over two months behind in rent and have two unpaid bills, electric and phone, both of which I haven't been able to pay for two months now. 

I was relying on an agency in Hat Yai called C-Bright to call offering me private adult classes, and the Open Learning Center in Songkhla to come up with much the same.  The same corruption and underhanded dealings is present in both agencies, only now I am able to just turn my head and look away.  I'm only concerned with money at this point.  Here in Thailand it seems, if you make ethics and morals your priority, you will not have work. 

But presently I just signed on for a 30-hour private conversation class at C-Bright on Sundays, which will bring in a little better than 1000 baht for the three hours I will teach on a Sunday afternoon and will be starting a full-time teaching position at Songsaeng school in Ban Klong Ngae, which is only about ten kilometers or so south of me.  Close enough I can ride my motorcycle there. 

So things are looking up a bit, but things have been so bad for so long, things have begun to fall apart here.  My television works, but the sound is gone...not a biggy.  The printer for my computer pooped out long ago.  I have three blankets for my bed, all which need to be retired since my little girl Chok tends to chew holes in them.  My sandals are broken...both pairs.  The rice cooker broke long ago.  My refrigerator is on it's last leg.  And so on and so's going to be awhile before I get things back in working order again.  But one thing is for sure, it's going to be easier without Mam here to leech off of me. 

I came damn close to bailing out, but I've never been a quitter, so I hung on.  I've got a lot of prospects in other Asian countries, but my dogs keep me here.  I've always been an animal lover, and more than anything negative that Mam did to me, I mostly don't understand how she could just walk away from the dogs.  Chok was her favorite, she rescued Chok from sure death on the main highway near out home.  While Chok loved me, she'd go nuts when Mam would come home.  Now, months later, she's daddy's little girl and I can't go far without her popping up by my side. 

So, that's it.  I do have another love interest in my life, Jenilo Cabasag, a woman I met years ago in the Philippines.  We've been corresponding a lot lately and she wants me to come visit.  She's originally from Bohol but has been living in Metro Manila now for the past two years going to college.  As soon as my finances clear up, that's where I'll be headed. 


Friday, August 27, 2010

After work in Hat Yai yesterday I hopped onto a....

Then, while on the way home a large group of young, nubile high school girls got on and I was immediately...

+ ED

Between them....

A big bunch of


A tad know.

Actually it was....

And quite clearly....




I'm still getting over it!

- Jeeem -

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Weather predictions...

Over the years, in particular as a fisherman, I learned to watch the weather. Predicting it often became the difference in coming home with fish for dinner and coming home empty handed.

There was an old ditty I remember well:

"If the wind is from the North...Man should not go forth. If the wind is from the South, it blows the fly into the fishes mouth. If the wind is from the West, this is the best. If the wind is from the East, tis not fit for man nor beast."

I found that ditty to often be true.

Here in Thailand I don't fish, but I enjoy watching the weather and sometimes it pays to be prepared. So, for those interested, here are some interesting weather predictors that you can try out at home. I've found most of these work pretty good!

  • Insect eating birds will begin feeding lower, on insects closer to the ground, since when a storm is approaching, insects are forced lower by low level downdrafts. In fair weather, insects are forced higher by fair weather updrafts (works every time!).

  • Winds blowing closer to ground are a sign a storm is approaching.

  • Leaves of deciduous trees will turn bottom side up 12 to 24 hours before a storm.

  • Swamp, marshland and standing stagnant water odors are more noticeable as bad weather approaches.

  • Ants will build tiny DIKES or MOUNDS at the entrance to their tunnels before it rains; their activity will cease within an hour of the storm's onset.

  • If you have curly hair, your hair will become more 'unruly' as a storm approaches, due mainly to the increased humidity in the air. In the case of a severe downpour, with possible flooding... wooden handles, inter-meshing or inter-connecting wooden "L" joints, door frames, etc., doors will stick, L joints will bind, and wooden handles will swell with the excess moisture in the air.

  • If you have a campfire, or are barbecuing, the smoke will typically hang low in the case when a storm is moving in. Smoke rising straight up means clear weather.

  • Lots of morning dew or frost on grass usually means the day will be fair. Little or no dew or frost means the air has been moving and wet weather is on the way.

  • Morning glory blooms open wide when fair weather is on its way, but close up when inclement weather approaches.

  • A red-sky sunset means rain within the next 24 hours is unlikely; the color occurs when there is little moisture in the atmosphere. A red sky or red sun at dawn means a storm is approaching (I've found this one a very accurate predictor).

A ring around the moon is caused by the refraction of light through ice crystals in the atmosphere. If the corona increases and expands as the night progresses, it's a sign that rain or snow is on the way.

Hope you enjoyed those!

Until next time!

- Jeeem

Monday, August 23, 2010

Bachelor stuff….

So…I’ve found a new spot in which to purchase groceries. Ban Kunine Sang…the tiny village just southwest of my home.

They have veggies, meats, canned goods, and dry goods…anything a guy would ever need.

I usually go there and purchase vegetables, canned goods, and either pork or chicken, and gas up my motorcycle too…but, the other day I noticed the store manager had a nice cache of fish, from where I don’t know, but it looked fresh so I nabbed a couple red snapper.

So I bought those two red snapper. Juicy ones, thick, meaty…got them home and threw them into the freezer. And that’s where they stayed until today.

Now, I’m in a position employment-wise, where I am only working twice a week…which sucks big time because I need much more work to be able to pay my bills, but….I gotta eat.

Those red snapper have been in my freezer for a week now…I love fish, but I’m not that good at cooking them…Well, if it’s already filleted, then yeah…but, these were whole fish…

So today I pulled those big, fat babies out of the freezer and let them defrost while I thought what to do with them. One thing I know about filleting fish, is ya gotta have a sharp, thin knife. Something I don’t possess. So, I gutted the two of them, took the back side of my knife and began scraping off the scales, and then I cut off the heads. I just can’t bear to eat anything with the head still on, something an Asian wouldn’t understand, I’m sure.

Anyway, here I was with two un-filleted fish…what to do?

Suddenly I had an idea…

I chopped up some scallions, garlic, onion, searched the fridge for something…Ah! Tomatoes! Eggplant! Morning glory! Peppers!

I chopped em all up and tossed them inside the cavity of the two fish, sprinkling some on top too. Then I put a big dollop of butter on top of both of them, and threw them in the oven at 350 degrees for fifteen minutes.

It was nothing but a big guess, but damned if it didn’t turn out pretty darn good! There were some remnants left, so I stripped the bones out best I could, threw the rest in a pot, added a little bit of water and tomato sauce, and brought it to a boil. I added this concoction to some rice, sprinkled in a few kibbles, and voila!

Dog food!

My two dogs loved it! They were growling at each other trying to keep each other away from their dish. Too funny!

So, the life of a bachelor isn’t all that bad…ya just gotta get inventive!


Sunday, August 22, 2010

We’re constantly bombarded with information…stimulus. Some of it we take in, some we discard.

When I was a child I had very little interest in history except what came out of my grandmother’s room. My grandmother, my adopted mother’s mother, lived with us while I was growing up. Her name was a classic southern one…Minnie Lee Hess. She had a room off the eastern corner of our house and rarely moved from her bed.

When I was bored I would often gravitate to my grandmother’s room and snoop. Well, fair was fair, as when ever she did get out of her bed it was typically to spy on me and my goings on.

There were two main articles of interest in that room for me. A large trunk containing the personal effects of her deceased husband whom she called “Pops,” who fought in the Spanish-American war and a small portrait on the south wall of her room, which she told me was called, “The Blue Boy.”

It was difficult to snoop in her trunk since she had a lot of stuff piled on top of it and it was locked, the lock only opened by a screwdriver or other flat object. So, the only times I was able to snoop in her trunk was when she would take a trip with her sister Mildred.

The other times I would walk into her room and stare for long periods of time at the portrait of her Blue Boy. I don’t know why, particularly, as I surely was not a budding art fanatic, but I just loved looking at that portrait.

It was years and years after her death and the death of my adopted mother when the house was donated to the local Grandview Baptist Church, all the contents included. I never saw that portrait or the trunk again.

Then roughly two or three weeks ago I was at work at C-Bright Language School and saw a Xeroxed copy of an article about that very portrait…The Blue Boy. I briefly scanned it and then made a mental note to research the portrait more completely on the Internet once I got home.

I found that the portrait was painted by Thomas Gainsborough circa 1770, and considered Gainsborough’s most famous work. It is thought to be a portrait of Jonathan Buttall, the son of a wealthy hardware merchant of the time, although this was never proved.

The blue apparel on the boy was typical seventeenth century apparel and was regarded as Gainsborough’s homage to Anthony Van Dyck, another artist of the time, who painted a portrait of Charles II as a boy. Gainsborough’s oil painting is said to be startlingly similar to Van Dyck’s portrait.

Like many paintings, the portrait made it’s rounds…from the possession of Jonathan Buttall, the son of the wealthy hardware merchant, to politician John Nesbitt, and eventually by 1802, artist John Hoppner.

It currently resides in Huntington Library, San Marino, California.


Friday, August 13, 2010

I'm going batty!

I've a new addition to my usual creepy-crawler crowd! A creepy-cruiser...
Alias, a bat. I went downstairs last night to go to the bathroom, flicked on the light and immediately looked down since the bathroom floor is typically a toad-minefield at that hour.

Then suddenly I felt something whiz by my head. Instinctively I ducked thinking god-knows-what, and when I looked up I was relieved. It was only a bat.

Those little buggers are usually down the road a piece, around the durian farms, but evidently one of their crew has gone exploring. I like them cause they eat literally thousands of mosquitoes and other flying bugs at night, but...where there's a bat...there's bat guano.

That's scatological lingo for bat poo-poo.

It's enough I have to clean up tons of gecko poop every few days...but now bat poo?

No way.

So, I threw open all the downstairs windows and the door, in hopes he (or she) would fly out, but no such luck. It found the door to the bathroom okay, but instead of flying outside, it went upstairs and was quite happy since it's flying-bug heaven up there.

So now the thing is camped-in, hanging upside down on one of the roof rafters in the bedroom.

Gotta love this place!


Tuesday, August 10, 2010


This is the "I'm MISERABLE," contest...

I am miserable...

Sunday, August 8, 2010 at approximately 10:20 a.m., I spilled boiling water on my hands and forearms while heating water for a bath for my dogs.

After the screaming stopped, I just stood there for a second and tried to calm down and gather my thoughts. My health insurance had run out, I had very little money...(in fact, I can't even pay this month's rent..), and I knew from my medical background I had a severe second degree burn...

Once my duckies were all in a nice little row, I went into the bathroom, stripped down, and began dousing my arms and hands with cold water...for about twenty minutes. Thoughts kept creeping through my mind...should I go to the doctor? Should I call in to work?

That afternoon I had a scheduled meeting at a local Hat Yai restaurant with the C-Bright Language School staff. I had ordered my meal ahead of time, so I had to be there....

I finished bathing, dried off, powdered down, and then went upstairs and got dressed. At that point all I had to worry about was the pain...and it was pretty intense. But, as I dressed and got ready, the pain slowly began to subside...of course two Paracetamol tablets and a couple pain pills left over from my surgery helped a bit too.

I managed to get to Hat Yai, to my meeting and back without a lot of pomp and circumstance. The next day was a Monday and my day off, so I took it easy. But, I woke up with my arms covered in blisters. It seemed every time I did something...washed a dish, hung out clothes, attempted to cook...I'd either pop a blister, or rub and inflame a sensitive area, so by Tuesday, I was one sore dude.

I was eating Tylenol like it was candy, but if I didn't, I was in some pretty unbearable pain. Riding my motorcycle into Thung Lung was no easy task, as my hands were swollen up like balloons. Then I got onto the Songtheaw heading into Hat Yai, and the first miserable incident happened...I was sitting in the Songtheaw, minding my own business, and on hops a drunk Thai man, yapping to beat the band...

"Hey Falang!" he said, and my heart sank. This is one of the things I hate about riding in a Songtheaw...the asshole passengers they sometimes pick up. Without warning he reached over, grabbed my hand and squeezed, trying to be friendly. What happened next, he was not prepared for...neither were the rest of the passengers...

I simply screamed, as he pressed his goddamn hand right into a painful area where a blister was...actually a group of blisters....popping about four out six of them. I screamed and at the same time jerked my hand away...finally showing him (up close) just what he had done...

That shut him up. Nobody, including me, ever heard a peep out of him after that...meanwhile, I just sat there in silence, feeling the pulsing of pain that matched every heartbeat. to work, taught my students, then headed back. Was hanging on the back of another Songtheaw (the women sit down, men stand up unspoken rule. You know...gentleman crap), and suddenly some jerk bounds onto the back pedestal where I'm standing, never freaking looking at where he's going or what he's doing, and grabs onto....NOT the passenger handle...but, MY GODDAMN ARM....popping another four or five blisters....Big ones! So, now I'm hanging off the back of the Songtheaw with serum from my big blisters quite literally dripping onto the tarmac...little pieces of me, scattered all over southern Thailand....

Pain? Hey, let me tell this point, pain becomes a relative thing...Relative in a sense that at the very moment some jerk grabs my hand or arm, there is an intense amount of pain, but that pain tends to subside quickly, so this last time I didn't even so much as flinch....but, the real pain comes later.

Put my arms up above my problemo. Drop them down below my waist....OUCH! The pressure is almost you can see how this effects daily just gotta work around it.

Okay, so now I'm MR. MISERABLE.

Your JOB....-should you choose to accept to click on the black and white "Miserable" picture above, save it to your hard drive, and finally....COLOR THAT BAD BOY!

Yes! You heard me right! COLOR THAT BAD BOY!

...means, clicking on the black and white "miserable," picture...saving it to your hard-drive, then pulling it up in the lame, "Paint," or any other program, color it, add action, flash, or just....whatever!

The best one wins!

Submit your final project to:

Good luck to you all...and for those who lose....MISERY!


Sunday, July 25, 2010

I have impeccable timing!

It’s my birthday as you can obviously see* and after I was just getting over the picture birthday card I received from my virtual girlfriend, Lucy Liu, I began to think about the next best things…food and beer. Not necessarily in that order.

I’ve been on a curry kick of late, after stopping off with my friend Rich Ellison to have a beer after work a couple of weekends ago. I’m a lot like Rich in that I love to cook, but sometimes my cooking gets rather boring, so I’ve been thinking about broadening my horizons.

Curry is something Rich loves to prepare. I love curry, but a problem exists. I met Rich after work and he handed me a couple of plastic bags filled with dinner…curries he had prepared at home and gave me a sampling of. I was so thrilled! I could already smell the wonderful scents wafting up from the bags!

When we arrived at our drinking destination (I like that…’Drinking Destination,’ sounds like the title for a book), a store that simply has tables out front for farangs to gather, talk, bitch, and consume mass quantities of beer and spirits (similar to the Coneheads), Rich went inside and came out with a packet of Waugh’s Curry, a brand I’d never seen before. He handed it to me and told me I should try it, which I did.

I usually stay away from curry because although I love it, it does not love me, and I often end up with severe stomach cramps and diarrhea for a day afterwards. But this stuff was different some how. Oh, it wasn’t without any after effects…I had the farts bad for a couple of days, but at least my stomach could hack it.

So, today I got up around five a.m. a free man since I don’t have to be back to work for four days since Tuesday is a holiday here, and while drinking my coffee and reading my e-mails, I began to think about preparing some curry. The thing is though, I’m lazy. I kept putting off getting dressed and heading out on my motorcycle, until somewhere around eleven fifteen…and to explain my opening at the top of this posting, my timing was impeccable since it began raining half way into my shopping excursion to the Thunglung market and surrounding stores.

Aside from the argument I was involved in with an old lady at one of the vegetable stands, who tried to charge me forty baht for a small handful of celery (Celery here is tiny. It’s nothing like the large ribbed versions you get in the West), and a small bunch of fresh coriander, everything else went pretty smooth. I left the wet market having made most of the Thai’s day, since they rarely see me in that market because I do most of my shopping now in Ban Kunine Sang, to the West of my village. So they finally had something to talk about today! I had to be in Thunglung today since I had to pay my electric bill.

By the time I arrived back on the main road to get on my motorcycle, it was raining steady, and on the way home the skies decided to open up. I was soaked once I got home, and to top things off, Chok, my youngest little dog, bounced out of the forest from my blind-side and I dropped the bike in a puddle of mud to avoid hitting her. So I had to spend ten minutes getting cleaned up, then another fifteen to twenty minutes washing my long beans, onions, peppers, celery, coriander, mushrooms, and pork I’d purchased.

I bought a kilo of CP packaged pork to mince for the breakfast sausage I make for myself, a copycat recipe of Jimmy Dean’s sausage…rest his soul. The other kilo is for my curry and some pork fried rice. I wanted to purchase some gung (shrimp in the West…Prawns in the East…Gung in Thailand) but the prices were well out of my spending budget.

So, there you have it. If you’re not a cook, you’re missing out. There’s nothing quite like sitting down and cutting, slicing, dicing, grinding, and mixing, then preparing and cooking…it’s relaxing to me somehow and then there is the finished product! Ummmm. Delicious! Or as they say here in Thailand….

Aloi Maak!

*Please send money and gifts to: Jim Anderson, #134 Moo 2, Tambon Patong, Hatyai, Songkhla 90230 Thailand. Thank you.



What more could a guy like me wish for on his birthday?


Saturday, July 17, 2010

Well, there you have it folks!

The unbridled truth. Western breakfasts in Asia....suck. Unless you want to spend an arm and a leg or two eating a banquet breakfast at a five star hotel that caters to foreigners.

I am writing this since I tried to get a decent breakfast during my trip to Georgetown, Penang, Malaysia, and got...well, read on.

I was staying at the Oriental Hotel. I went downstairs to the lobby and simply asked them, "Where can I get a decent American breakfast around here?" The guy smiled at me and pointed out the glass front doors to a restaurant around the corner.

The 78 Cafe...with a "K," thank you.

This place is interesting. The outside perimeter is surrounded with little cooking kiosks, each specializing in different kinds of food. At first I wasn't sure if I could get breakfast at this joint, as after quickly looking around me, the Malay's, Indians, and Chinese sitting around inside were all eating the typical Asian breakfast...i.e., anything and everything. Noodles, rice dishes, etc.

But, a guy came up to me asking, "What you want drink?"

"Coffee please," and in a split second, he turned on his heels and was gone, prompting me to loudly say, "Sir!" and he returned.

"Milk and sugar please," I said smiling, since he looked irritated. Then I said, "Can I have some breakfast?" but he was already gone.

Shortly a woman showed up with a small pad in her hand. Then I had it all figured out. The guy was the drink guy. She was the "food" woman.

"May I please have some breakfast?"

"Yes sir, what you like?"

"I would like two eggs, over easy, some sausage, and toast with some jelly."

I figured this was going to prompt an argument, but she just repeated my order and left. My coffee arrived and I pulled out a newspaper I had saved for the trip and took a sip of my coffee, which didn't have enough milk or sugar in it.

Then, while reading my paper, the woman arrived back in record time and laid my "American Breakfast" down before me....

Two eggs, soaked in oil, and fried HARD.
Two hot dogs, barely warm.
Two squished hamburger buns, slathered in too much butter or margarine, and toasted on only one side.
Oh! I can't forget the garnish! It was the best looking thing on the plate! Three slices of tomato, two slices of cucumber (Asian's love cucumber) and a sprig of parsley.

There you have it! The perfect Amerasian Breakfast!


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Ah, the American breakfast.

I never looked at the American breakfast as a tradition, just a morning meal. But, in the U.S., unlike Asia and Southeast Asia, the Western breakfast is not so much a tradition as it is a ritual.

Get out of bed in the morning, anywhere in the western world, shower, get dressed and take a walk down the sidewalk past your neighbors houses…as you laugh at the morning newspapers lying in a puddle next to flower beds, and porch roofs, you’ll catch that familiar aroma tickling your nostrils…fresh cooked bacon, sausage and hash browns.

Intoxicating aromas.

Try doing the same thing in Asia, and you won’t see or smell anything different than if you were to walk by at noontime or late afternoon. Fried fish, rice, stir-fried vegetables, and some concoctions you don’t want to know about…or smell.

So, I thought write today about the American Breakfast, or as they say in England, “The Full Monty.”

Let’s start with your basic egg.

Eggs are a big part of a traditional American breakfast, but they often get a bum rap from health nuts. However, I’m not going there today. We all know both the American breakfast and the English Full Monty are cholesterol nightmares. But then, what comfort food isn’t?

Ever try and break open an egg? Remember the first time? The yolk went everywhere. People’s tastes are different, so let’s look at how they like their eggs.

Sunny side up – The yolk is pristine, cooked through just long enough where it’s not too runny.

Sunny side down – You flip the pristine egg over momentarily, cooking the top of the yolk just barely.

Over easy – Flip the pristine egg over for a short time, just so the membrane covering the yolk is lightly cooked.

Over medium - Over medium hardens that yolk just a bit, so it’s thicker than sunny side up. Let’s face it, some breakfast eaters in the west have pretty light stomachs in the morning, so a runny egg is liable to cause everything to come right back up, and out their nose. Over medium is the remedy for those types of people.

Over hard – An egg, yolk intact, cooked well on both sides, leaves the yolk a bit chewy and hard.

Some of these methods are cooked on a hard, greased grill, typically in a restaurant, while others are cooked at home in a frying pan with a shot of vegetable oil, bacon fat, butter or lard.

Scrambled – Crack the egg or eggs into a bowl, and fluff em’ up with a fork. Some people add milk, some add cream. Heat your griddle or pan, add a little grease, oil, bacon fat, butter or lard, and fry em’ up.

Scrambled hard – Rarely heard of, but some people like them this way. The cook throws the scrambled eggs into the pan, and as soon as they begin to congeal, he or she, continues to scramble them in the pan. These eggs resemble popcorn when they are finished and depending on the amount of oil, grease, bacon fat, butter or lard, are usually relatively dry.

Scrambled medium – Again, another type of scrambled eggs that are not commonly heard of, but are scrambled in the pan, but not to the point of popcorn eggs, and still relatively moist.

Omelet – The scrambled eggs are allowed to congeal in the pan and are then carefully folded over into a nice little packet. The omelet can be filled with many different types of ingredients. There is no limit to the imagination, but common fillers are mushrooms, cheese, hot peppers, onions,

Regarding eggs I’d be terribly remiss if I didn’t include the poached egg.

Poached – The poached egg is most likely not going to be found on a Hungry Man’s breakfast menu. Most people who liked poached eggs are either on a diet, or they get grossed out by the other methods of cooking eggs. A poached egg is simply an egg, which is steamed until cooked. The yolk can end up runny or hard, depending on the time it is cooked. For years, my mother who was diabetic, would cook up a poached egg and plop it down on toast, adding a bit of salt and pepper to it. Not bad actually.

Next on the agenda are breakfast meats. From steak to sausage, and everything in-between…let’s discuss these cholesterol bombers!

Steak – A Hungry Man’s breakfast wouldn’t be right unless Steak was included on the menu. From London broil, to filet Mignon, the hearty breakfast typically includes a big slab of beef. London broil or flank steak would be the cheapest cuts and would progress from there. Sirloin, sirloin tips, T-bone, tenderloin, filet Mignon. You just specify the degree of doneness…which would be medium rare of course!

Ham – For the sake of length, I’m going to lump together ham luncheon meat, Canadian bacon, Back bacon, and your regular bacon strips, which are either maple syrup flavored, plain or hickory smoked. Yum, yum. I’m getting hungry just thinking of all this! Bacon lovers range from the kind who likes their bacon still squealing, to cooked crisp. I’m an in-between sort of bacon lover. Canadian bacon and back bacon are just different cuts is all, typically thicker and fattier.

Sausage – Oh boy. Sausage. Hickory smoked, highly seasoned, patties, stuffed into casings, spicy hot, maple syrup flavored. You name it. They are all delicious. As far back as anybody can remember sausage has been experimented with, using different ingredients thrown into ground up pork. Sage is the main ingredient in most cases, but you’ll find rosemary, thyme, marjoram, pepper, red pepper, coriander, fennel, and other highly aromatic spices added to sausage. Jimmy Dean used to be my favorite, and it came in regular, maple syrup flavor and spicy. Spicy was my favorite. There are other sausages, but I’m not going to get into Chorizo or Mexican sausage which is often mixed in scrambled eggs, or longanisa sausage used in the Philippines, which is also delicious.

Right about now we’re building up to one big coronary occlusion. So get out the defibrillator paddles and rack up the joules.

Potatoes – You knew there had to be a vegetable here somewhere, no? Well, potatoes level your Hungry Man breakfast out a bit, but they don’t reduce the chance for that whopping myocardial infarction. The reason why is they are not typically presented baked or boiled. No, potatoes are fried up in a skillet with other goodies….vegetables like green peppers and onions! Delish!

Home Fries – For the sake of argument, I’m going to say it all depends on the cook, as to how home fries are prepared and presented on your plate. Typically the potato is first boiled or baked and left to cool in the fridge. Then, once cold, they are sliced up into mouth sized chunks, seasoned with pepper, salt, and maybe a splash of paprika or oregano, and stir fried with onion and green peppers in oil.

Hash Browns – Using a shredder or a well placed meat cleaver, the cook shreds up a raw potato into thin little strips. Then, he adds some minced onion and possibly some chopped green peppers. Then they are formed into a patty of sorts, flattened with a spatula, and fried in oil until done and crispy. Not much different than home fries, but possibly a bit neater.

Now, there you have it!

Oops! Almost forgot the bread! Darn!

Toast – Likely on a Hungry Man’s menu you’re going to find TEXAS TOAST, cause well…everything’s big in Texas, right? Ha! All Texas toast is is a thicker slice of bread, usually about an inch or inch and a half in diameter, toasted soft, and slathered in butter. Defibrillator please!

Then, toast isn’t toast for breakfast without jam or jelly. Preserves, they call them and they come in a variety of flavors like Strawberry, Cherry, Blueberry, Blackberry, Orange marmalade, Grape, and any other fruit you can think of. Usually the waitress will plop down some condiment tray with extra butter and a large selection of jams and jellies to choose from.

I’m not going to get into bagels since real men don’t eat bagels. And even English muffins are not often seen on a traditional American breakfast menu. But, I’d be hard pressed to turn down a Thomas’s English muffin with all those nooks and crannies to hold all that melted butter and jam or jelly! Ha!

There you have it. Yes, I’ve left out pancakes, Eggs Benedict, Blood pudding, bagels with cream cheese and lox, and waffles….because they just aren’t your common part of a Hungry Man’s breakfast.

I welcome any comments from readers, and would love to hear about other ethnic breakfast items. The Full Monty in England isn’t too far off the mark of the American Breakfast and is well known as a cholesterol nightmare.

So stick that drooling tongue back in your mouth and go get some breakfast! You deserve it!


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