100625 Little things happen all the time


getting down to the departure time next week.  wah.  but life still going on here.  i've added a few pics to the picasa galleries
for Misc Life and Thai Bugs.  go there and scroll down to the new photos.

A lizard appeared on the tamarind tree behind my shower.  he was nice enough to hang out there until i could finish my shower and run for my camera.  beautiful color on his head. 

i showed him to tok and she was like "meh"  she said they are common in thailand, they see them all the time.  i explained to her that we don't have these commonly in the states- depending on where you live. and not in seattle.  i guess it would be like somebody coming to seattle and taking pictures of pigeons all the time.  we'd be like "they're just pigeons, what's the big deal?" my earliest memories were from the time we lived in victorville california.  out in the desert at george air force base.  lizards were part of a boys life then and there.  specially "horny toads".  i liked lizrds then, like 'em now.  she asked me what animals are common in seattle.  i had to think about that one.  birds of course, dogs cats, sometimes raccoons, dead 'possums, squirrls, rarely a snake.  that's about it. had to google up photos of most the raccoons and possums for her, she'd never seen one.

the kids came by with a crazy bike they put together.  check this thing out:

cow skull handlebars... now THATS COOL! (there's another picture in the picasa gallery) little scooter wheel in front, regular wheel in back, and lots and lots of rope.

we've had a "bad cat" coming around harassing our cats for a while.  poor August comes in all scratched up, missing patches of hair.  one day mama caught the "bad cat".  there was a bunch of hollering (in thai of course) teri came out with the basket and a lid, the put the cat inside, tied down the lid jumped on the motorbike and drove away.  i was concerned they were going to throw it in the river - i don't know what they do in such situations.  15 minutes later, tok and teri came back, minus the cat.  they didn't drown it.  just took it to the next village and let it out.  let them deal with the monster.  banishment i can handle.  it was likely a feral cat, not somebodies pet.  here's August:

we fixed a few things around the house today - i put up a shelf, re-strung the ropes on the rain shades, took off the cement board over the steps.  trying to get all the little things done while i'm still here.  i've been following Cliff Maas's weather blog since i've been home.  i see the folks in seattle have had worse than usual crappy weather.  but it just might be real summer when i get back.  that will be nice.  easier to adjust to.  but 75 degrees F will seem cold, as usual.

i made a panorama view of the mountains to the west of our house.  it is nice, isn't it? (click here to goto the view page)

gorgeous the life in amazing thailand,


100621 Thaikarl - what IS happening now anyway?

friends, one of my readers wrote and me ans asked the timeless question: what's happening?  here's my reply:

oh, i'm just hanging out, enjoying my last days here.  lots of thinking time, speculating, dreaming, conceiving, fretting, calculating, wondering, regretting, inventing, designing, proposing, accepting, rejecting, feeling, observing, analyzing, worrying, deducing, pondering.... lots and lots of "ings"  all within my own skull.  when you are surrounded by people who don't speak english, you don't get diverted into conversations about anything really, so almost all of your talking is in your own head.  a running monologue that gets meandered and guided by voices from the past present and future.  reading books and listening to music, swurfing the internet, watching videos on youtube, provide a modicum of focused distraction, but the ever present voice and running movie in my head is merely attended to, not silenced by such stimuli.

it's a brief interlude into the life of the idle rich.  rich, because i have everything i need, idle because i don't HAVE to do very much of anything.  but it has a strict span of time, this leisure, the income stream stopped when i got on the plane, and the bucket of funds i brought with me is leaking out the myriad of holes.  the bucket will need refilling, but that is later, this is now, and now is pretty damn good all in all.

it's perpetual summer in thailand.  you aren't bundling up to protect yourself from the cold, hiding inside to keep warm, turning on lights in the middle of the day cause it's so dark under all the clouds.  when it rains, you just get under cover, you don't have to go inside, you don't have to go get your coat.  and the rain never lasts that long. sometimes the heat is oppressive, and you welcome a cooling breeze or a chance to go in 7-11 where the aircon is always set to imitate the arctic summer.  it takes a lot of energy to keep warm.  i don't have that cost here.

it's a brief interlude into the life of the idle rich.  rich, because i have everything i need, idle because i don't HAVE to do very much of anything.  but this interlude has a sharp span.  the income stream stopped when i got on the plane, and the reservoir of funds that runs the powerplant is getting down to reserves level.  the reservoir will need refilling, but that is later, this is now, and now is pretty damn good all in all.  refilling the bucket just means i won't be so idle, but i'll still be rich.  i have a home in paradise, and i carry that with me always.

years ago i had an apartment. it was the first apartment that was completely mine. i called it "the Oasis".  it was a refuge in the desert, a place to quench your thirst, regain your power.  i had a business sized card made up that said this:

Everybody needs an Oasis.
If you don't have one, make one.
If you can't make one now,
Use somebody else's until you can.

i've made a new Oasis for myself here.  and i enjoy it while i am here. i carry it with me, everywhere.
that's what's happening.


what is that horrible noise??

the world cup soccer championship is on.  know how i know?  because every tv that has it on has this horrible, grating, obnoxious noise coming from it.  i detest it.  this is a sound i would use to drive teenagers away from my  7-11.  this is the sound i would aim at rioters.  it makes me care even LESS about soccer.  and of course, because it is so f****g annoying people think it's really cool.  yeah.  like hemorrhoids are cool.

read more than you wanted to know at http://www.urlesque.com/2010/06/16/vuvuzela-world-cup-2010/



100612 Thaikarl - a few random bits


here's a photo of the sky above my shower, taken a few nights ago:

not much to see except stars, a bit of the tamarind tree, the the trunk of the betal nut palm that's had its head removed.  and that is EXACTLY the point!  the row of glaring, orange sodium high pressure lamps on the big road in front of our house have been silent for a week now.  it's wonderful!  it's dark... wow, there was just now a powerful swirl of wind around the house.  the bedroom shook on it's pilings, and the trees and bushes are whipped around.  a big bubble of hot hair just broke loose from the ground and rose up into the sky.  that means a thermal is going up right over our house, and a cloud will form when it gets high enough to cooler air.  and now it's calm again. anyway, as i was saying; it's dark around the house at night this past week.  when i go out to take a shower before bed i'm surrounded by dark shapes of the trees and houses.  lightning bugs fly thru the air.  a quiet, steady light, the color of white LED's wandering thru the dark.  how do they see where they're going?  there was lightning in the sky the other night.  awesome.  quick flashes of brilliant light illuminating everything like a ginormous camera flash.  it started to rain, and i stood there in the stream of water from my pump shower, deeply enjoying the experience.

there is usually a haze in the air in our valley.  moisture and dust in the atmosphere soften the bright sunlight, and blurs the ridges of the mountains and the edge of the horizon.  today it is very clear.  the kao koa peaks to the north west stand out sharply, the green of the trees on the slops is bright and variegated.  the sunlight is sharp on your shoulders.  not too hot today.  very pleasant.

we had planned to go to the Phe Tha Kon ghost festival in Dansai next week.  except the websites that had next week as the dates were wrong.  tok saw on television that the festival is *this* weekend.  we're un-prepared to go now.  tok has to go to work early monday morning, and the bus doesn't get back early enough.  if we went tomorrow, because of the bus schedule, we would only be able to be in Dansai for a few hours, so we might cancel that plan.  our budget for extras like that is pretty slim this late in my time here.  there have been packs of motorbikes and motorcycles going by on the big road all day and night since yesterday.  they are going to Dansai.  i'd like to go just to see all the cool motorcycles and motorbikes.  maybe we will.

we bought recessed lights for the bedroom, so i have another wiring/install job to do this week.

i received some information late last night that made me really sad.  a friend of mine, a guy i've known for 25 years, decided to start drinking again.  he'd been clean and sober the whole time i've known him.  he said it's fun now.  but that won't last.  and his taking the next step - to serious drugs- is one more bad decision away.  i don't drink or get high because it was revealed to me that i'm one of those people who went over the line.  over the line past "recreational use"  i was offered a path out of that darkness, i took it, and i'm still on that path.  my world is much better illuminated since then.  i've lost many friends and many acquaintances over the years. that's their choice. just makes me a bit sad to hear about this one, as he and i have a long history together, and i have strong feelings for him to go with that.  oh well.

mama is spending the day under the house cleaning the shells off tamarind fruits.  man, she gets things done.  she 'hangs out' a lot more than she used to, as her health is a bit weaker, but she just keeps at it.  she sat in the yard for four days, on a little wooden stool, poking at the weeks with a digging tool.  covered the whole yard.



100610 Thaikarl - Party times!


it's been party time the last couple days.  monday night we went to a party, given by a family of a young man who is going to become a monk.  most thai males enter the monkhood at some time in their lives.  even if it's only for a few weeks.  it's a very big deal for a family, a 'rite of passage" of sorts, and they often throw a party to celebrate the event.  some parties are small-  a few neighbours, some food and drinks, a stereo playing.  on up to big bash's, with tens of people, mass food and drink and hired entertainment- usually "Coyote Dancers" and singers and a giant set of speakers.  they typically rent plastic chairs, folding tables and put up awnings in case it rains.  they serve a lot of food, and every table has a bottle of whisky, bottle of coka cola, water, ice and glasses.  after the eating and drinking, some people of course get a little loosened up, and they start dancing.  it's great fun, the food is usually good.  people are very friendly to me, especially after some of the alchohol starts to work in.  they smile at me, talk to me, or try to, as i never understand, so they turn to tok and she answers for me.  if they know a little english, they will try it out on me.  i get offered drinks alot.  which is awkward, because they just want to be friendly and have me join in. i usually pat my stomach, then throw my hand quickly away from my mouth.  they seem to get that pretty well - if i drink it goes to my stomach and i'll throw up.  in the past, i've poured a little coca cola in my glass of water, giving the water a slight brown color- which passes for whisky/water, they see i have a drink and are good with it.  but then people tell tok that they were sure they saw me drinking, and my little deception isn't worth it so i usually don't resort to that trick.

the party night before last was very nice.  some of the singing was good, some wasn't.  there were a whole table of people there who are toks friends.  i usually sit and eat, sit and drink soda water on ice, sit and look at eveybody.  i always get invited to the dance floor.  never really a floor actually, since these are always outside parties and the 'floor' is usually dirt.  so i smile, and dance and sit, eat, smile some more.

last night we took the motor bike to Lom Kao, about 28 km away to Henke's gas station, where he was having his birthday party.  he bought a motorcycle this year, so most of the people there were bikers, with a row of big motorcycles parked along the hedges.  more food, drinks, talking, smiling.  one of the guys there was a thai/american from florida.  living here now on disability after a truck accident in the states.  we met Henke and his wife at the waterfall last  year.  great guy, good energy and very welcoming.  tok had to be at school for work very early this morning so we didn't stay very long.

today was "teacher appreciation" day at the school. tok was there almost all day. and she said there was a party at the school also.  three days, three parties.  she went to bed at 8pm tonight.  i'm still  up, as usual, working on the website and surfing the web for details.  i finally finished the wiring for the new bedroom ceiling light.  



100603 Thaikarl - wonderful poetic translation - about a snake

there is a snake living around our house.  everybody else wants to kill it, i want to save it from them. trying to identify it, i did some googling, and emails back and forth.  one of the pages with pictures came up on a thai website, which i ran thru google translate.  down the page in one of the comments was this entry:

กลัวค่ะ กลัวมาก  Fear ค่ะ very afraid.
แค่เห็นในบล็อกนี้  Just saw this blog.
ก็ขน ลุกแล้วค่ะ  It horrible Out!.
ไม่ กล้ามองงูเลย  I did not dare look snakes.
แต่ อยากจะอ่านมาก  But I want to read more.
ว่าคุณ จะช่วยชีวิตเค้าอย่างไร  You could save him how
เห็น ด้วยค่ะ ว่าไม่ควรไปฆ่าเค้า ค่ะ  not agree that to kill him.
เวลา ช่วยชีวิตสัตว์ได้  Time to rescue animals.
รู้สึก ดีมากนะคะ  I felt great คะ.
เพราะ เคยช่วยจิ้งจกที่มันเกือบจมน้ำช็อกโกแลตตาย  Because it almost always helps lizard chocolate drowned dead.
ตอนแรก บีโกรธมันที่ทำให้อดกินเลย  At first angry, it makes B อด eat it.
แต่พอ เห็นมันพยายามเงยหัวให้พ้นน้ำช็อกโกแลต  But when I saw it lifted my head to try to spray chocolate
แล้ว จ้องมาที่เรา  Then stared to us.
สงสาร มันขึ้นมาทันที  Pity on it immediately.
เลย ต้องหาอะไรมาเขี่ยมันออกจากถ้วย  What I find to poke it out of the cup.
พอ ช่วยมันได้ก็ดีใจค่ะ  I'm glad it helps enough ค่ะ.
แต่นี่ คุณช่วยงูตัวใหญ่กว่าตั้งแยะ  But here, you help the bigger the snake amply
บุญ เยอะเลยนะคะ  I คะ much merit it.

the english translation reads like some gonzo, stream-of-consciousness tone poem.  in fact, i'm inspired to turn these words into lyrics and make a song out of it.  and like thai songs, it won't rhyme.  stay tuned for that.

this is the translate page:  http://translate.google.com/translate?........  the comment above is found down the page.  our snake is just like the one in the photos:  It's a Xenochropis flavipunctatus - Yellow spotted Keelback.  not very poisonous.  it would have to chew on you for several minutes to get enough venom into the wound.  thanks to Vern at thaipulse.com for help identifying our little friend.  i hope i can ketch him and convince him to live in the ditch out front of the property, and stay away from the house, or he's gonna end up dead.
Xenochropis flavipunctatus, with shoes

Amazing Thailand.  everyday!


100601 Thaikarl - Swimming lessons and more creepy brain pictures


my step-daughter, Toey wants to learn to swim.  tok asked me if i could teach her.  my brain said "NO".  my brain usually says "NO" to everything, then i have to kick in the "conscious override" program and when it works, i can get my mouth and vocal chords to say "yes".  if it doesn't work the first time, it defaults to silence, so the program has a loop that says "IF 'reply' = silence, restart mechanical "yes" routine.  do loop until 'reply' = "yes".  sometimes even that routine fails.  in this case, i finally said "yes, i can teach Toey to swim".  nothing happened for a few weeks, then a few days ago, we were off to the market to buy swim cloths.  found one for me, but not for Toey, so i won a reprieve.  but, persistence paid off on toks part, toey had he swim suit, i had mine, we'd already been to the swimming pool one evening and got the hours and layout in place.  it was time to go.

i've never taught swimming, but i know how to swim.  so i reached way back into the memory banks and came up with some starter objectives:  blowing bubbles to get used to having your face in the water; floating on your back, kicking with your feet.  Toey was game to learn, but since i have to tell her in english, there was a bit of a communications problem.  i would demonstrate, she would try it out.  she has a habit of starting to inhale before her face is out of the water, so she sputters and coughs a lot.  but, with the encouragement of her friend sitting by the pool, see kept on, and was getting the hang of it.  her friend timed her floating, and she got up to 3 minutes and 27 seconds.  pretty good for the first day.

she had to take the motorbike to take her friend back home, while i waited at the pool.  there are some music rooms at the front. tok told me they were there, but i didn't understand what that meant when she told me.  inside a windowed room were a full set of drums, a couple of guitars and a bass, amplifiers and a microphone set-up.  while i was waiting for Toey, i was watching a guy playing guitar.  a women came over and invited me to go inside.  this was cool.  the guy inside said hello, "guitar??" and i pointed at the bass. he turned it on and we played a bit. he was really shy about playing, and deferred to my playing bass.  he said his name is Mun, he lives there at the pool.  this was pretty cool, i've been itching to play with others for a while now.  been along time since the band(s) folded and i miss playing bass.

the next day i was up in the bedroom working on the website in the late afternoon. Toey came up and said "Swimming!"  brain said "no" mouth said "yes" and we went off.  Mun was manning the desk at the pool, so we didn't go in the music room.  Toey came back with her friend again and we got in the pool for more practice.  she totally forgot how to float and we had to start over.  there was a man teaching five or so little kids in the middle of the pool, and i was taking cue's from him about instructions. suddenly there was a man yelling and pointing at the middle of the pool.  i looked around, trying to see what he was excited about. there was a shadow under the water in the middle of the pool.  the instructor man went over and hauled a young boy up from underwater and carried him to the side.  the boy was limp and lifeless.  not again.  the pool people came running, the father ran over, the kids all gathered around.  i went over to see if i could help, but the pool ladies started CPR, with chest compressions and breaths.  water spilled out of the boys mouth, which they drained to the side and kept up the CPR.  the boy still wasn't responding, but they kept it up.  the hospital is a block away.  i couldn't see, because of all the people in the way, but there was a change in the demeanor of the people around the boy, and i thought maybe some signs of life had re-appeared.  the father was sitting at the boys feet, keening in a high voice.  the other little kids were right there watching the whole thing.  the hospital guys ran in, and they carried the boy away.  in a couple of minutes, people started coming back, smiling and talking, so evidently the boy was revived.  later the pool women talked to me, and i understood when she said "sabai dee" which means "comfort good" - so apparently the boy was okay.  he wasn't breathing for a few minutes, so hopefully there wasn't any damage.  jeez.

so we went back to floating, kicking and face in the water lessons.  now i have another set of grim pictures in my brain of a small boys life-less face.  funny how those things stick so well in ones mind.

two days at the pool, two adventures in addition to swimming.  i told tok, "i wonder what will happen the next time we go swimming?"

there's a few new photos in the picassa gallery. scroll down to the picture of the blue guitar and click on it, and keep going from there.  there's a few new pictures in the bugs and critters gallery also.  scroll down to the praying mantis on the back of my hand picture, click on it, and go from there.

amazing thailand!