Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Secret Of My Contentment

I love Asia, and I love the tropics, and the South East Asian tropics are my home, and in the best way that my miswired, aberrant, crossly attempted personality can manage it I am contented.

God knows that I complain, I complain to God, I complain to my friends, I complain to my family, I complain to anybody who will listen, and, in turn, I complain about all of them, but God also knows that I am lucky, and whoever or whatever is responsible for that luck, they know it, because I am deeply grateful for my luck, and not afraid to express my gratitude.

Part of my genetic inheritance was a predisposition to deep, immediate, chemically driven emotional responses to any and all stimuli. When experience reared its mixed-blessing head, I adapted as best I could, as we all do, and, like most of us, I developed patterns of response that no doubt served some immediate purpose but also left me later in life with inappropriate responses to relatively innocuous events. This hurt my chances at many of life’s opportunities, and always, always, there were the frenetic, sudden chemical reactions to everything that happened. Not a road to success, that.

It’s not only instant confrontations or unexpected happenings that bring on this indelicate reaction. Still today, any one of life’s challenges that requires evaluation and planning brings out in me only a cloud shaped and totally enveloping storm of conflicting emotions that prevents me not only from solving the problem at hand, but also from dealing with it effectively at all. Health insurance? Retirement? Suitable employment? Personal relationships? Sorry, Charlie, working those things out is far beyond my abilities.

This scientific disaster was not entirely infelicitous. In the realm of sexual activity, immediate and powerful emotional and chemical reactions can be a good thing. This phenomenon has been observed by the psych’s: deeply depressed people often have great sex lives.

I am facing the end game with some powerful pieces left on the board and in a position that is somewhat defensible. No plan to win presents itself, but luck may again come to my rescue. It could be much worse, I sigh, as I lift my glass to toast those who have preceded me into the next world. God speed, fellows, or at least God’s rest upon you.

So as I gaze back at the wreckage of my life I no longer wonder how it could have been otherwise. Very simply, it could not have been, otherwise that is. But there have been good things with the bad, and on balance things have worked out ok. Icarus may have crashed and burned eventually, but before that he flew quite successfully and had a wonderful time.

My Tropical Shit-Happening Day

Saturday in June. Very interesting temporary daylight tonight. Not many bolts as such, lots of general illumination accompanied by loud crackling, clouds equalizing amongst themselves. I love the tropics.

It was on the hot side today, before the rain started. Not that I notice much anymore. The sweat rolls off of me on occasion, I dress appropriately, stay in the shade, put sun-block on my cancer-danger-spots, walk slowly, and tell myself it’s really pretty nice today! I really do look for the good, a surprise, perhaps, to those who know me. (It’s just that I usually don’t find it, for your information, as if there were much to find, you bunch of Pollyannas.)

No fi in my wi-fi all day today. Maybe it’s clogged with mourning Michael Jackson fans seeking digital solace. I visited someone, plugged my phone in at their house, and promptly forgot about it when we suddenly ran out to some temple somewhere. I set off for home about three-thirty, in good weather. Some rain, very little rain but enough to create a Saturday traffic jam of epic proportions, which only calcified after it was too late to switch to a cab and go around it. It took over three hours to cover what should have been a one hour bus ride. At least I had emptied my bladder beforehand, I told you I always look for the good! As I finally got home it started raining again. The wi-fi was still out and the cable TV went out, which is typical. I needed to make a call, so I dug out my back-up cell phone and plugged in the charger. I needed numbers and I actually found them, but when I turned the phone on it said, “Sim card failure.” That was news, the new Sim card had worked when I bought it, and the last time I used it. So that’s it for the phone (at least I can use it to wake myself up in the morning).

But I’m ok with it all. I’ve got some music on, brutally loud, fast, aggressive music that suits the occasion just fine, there’s cocktails and ice, and I’m re-reading a wonderful book about combat in Italy, 1943. Compared to those guys, I’m sitting pretty. Compared to most people, probably. Look for the good, I always say.

Friday, June 26, 2009

I Am A Proud And Thankful American

I must say that I am very, very proud of the Williams sisters. I love Venus’ quiet style and Serena’s coy brashness. They make us all look good, we Americans.

And I am so very proud of Tiger Woods. The intensity that he brings to his craft will go down in history, but he never lets it interfere with his quiet, polite nature. He’s so international, a fine advertisement for the American melting pot.

And God knows, I am inordinately proud of our president, B. Hussein Obama. What an elegant, graceful, and thoughtful man! All of a sudden we have a president with the casual charm of Cary Grant, combined with the steely determination of General George Patton.

But mostly, I am proud of Black Americans in general, and each of them. I’ve said it before, the achievements of Black Americans over the span of their time in the New World puts them in the forefront of all of the races and cultures and social groups in the world.

I remember one time on the subway in New York, it was about 1966, I was young and I was just working out my feelings about these things. It was the middle of the day, and the car was full but not to overflowing. All of the seats were taken, and there were a few standees. To my right, down a few people, was a young mother with two children, I don’t remember the ethnic information but they were interacting comfortably and the children seemed excited to be on the train. Across from me and a couple of seats to my left was a middle aged Black man. He was wearing very boring clothes; inexpensive dress slacks; a long sleeved dress shirt with some pattern in it; a knit tie; and sensible shoes. He was neither thin nor fat, I’m sure that his doctor was well pleased with his weight. He had glasses that were on the square side, the tone of them, not the shape, and his haircut just shouted normalcy. He watched the young family out of the corner of his eye and had the most wonderful expression on his face, and expression of delight and approval. He got off at City Hall, lots of city government offices around there, I figured him for some kind of mid-level city bureaucrat.

Here was a guy, I thought, who was born with none of the advantages that the world could offer who seemed to have carved out a nice niche for himself, through hard work no doubt, but without sacrificing his humanity in the process. A modest, unassuming man who knew what was important in this world. I had been around long enough to know what a total bitch it was to be Black in America. Black Americans, I decided, had a knack for surviving and overcoming the terrible roadblocks that life put in their paths.

An analogy to poker: anybody can win with a full house, that’s easy. And anybody who pays attention and has a couple of dollars can stay in the game for a while. But it takes a special talent to play along, not bringing any money to the game, and never getting the good cards. That’s Black Americans. No money, and they never get the cards, but they’re still in the game after lo, these hundreds of years.

Americans must never forget the huge cultural debt we have to our Black brothers and sisters. Just look at old Europe and recall how dull the whole thing seems to us. We, unlike our bland European cousins, have Black Americans to enrich our lives through their music, their speech, their fashion, and their joie de vivre.

We Americans should thank God every day for our Black American entertainers and athletes, and for all of our Black American brothers and sisters, and each of them.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Why Is People Fascinated?

With Jon and Kate Something-Or-Other, that is. I do catch Larry King Live! sometimes, and today he posed this slightly odd question. Evidently there is a TV show in America, and lots of kids are involved.

I say kids, some years ago I was at court and I met a guy I went to law school with, he told me that he’d been married for many years. Any kids? I innocently asked him. He became indignant. Kids, he explained to me, were baby goats, and although he had two children, he had no kids. I thought, is he calling my kids baby goats?

So, Jon and Kate, evidently they have lots of kids and are “fascinating.” See what I’m missing, being so far away from all of the cultural hubbub? Don’t feel sorry for me, think more about all of the crap that you are being subjected to on a daily basis that I am being spared.

Monday, June 22, 2009

The Brilliant Governor Of South Carolina

No surprise there's a North and a South Carolina, there's a big difference. South Carolina started the Civil War, and North Carolina at first declined to secede from the union.

They have an interesting governor now, Sanford, Mark or something. He's way into this "Obama wants to enslave Americans" thing. That's Right Wing Code for "now that he's in charge, the Black man wants to get back at White people."

Sanford seems to think that this country was founded on the idea of freedom. The following is from Think Progress:

//Sanford claimed that the nation was founded on “freedom” as opposed to slavery. But that view reveals either a profound ignorance of American and South Carolinian history, or, at worst, is an example of Sanford casually rewriting of the past.

Not only did the nation’s founding documents acknowledge and perpetuate slavery, but South Carolina has a particularly grisly record on the practice. Under the state Constitution of 1790, white men were required to own 500 acres of land and ten slaves to be eligible for the state House of Representatives, and double that to be eligible for the Senate. Author William Dusinberre has described South Carolina as a “charnel house” among other slave states, noting that over fifty five percent of slaves on rice plantations died before the age of fifteen. In addition to brutality from their masters, the deaths were a result of a combination of malaria and infants’ feebleness at birth, which was caused by the mothers’ own chronic malaria and their general exhaustion from rice cultivation during pregnancy. //

Now I hear that he's missing, Sanford that is. Maybe he's at the library, studying up, but somehow I doubt it.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Persia, 2020

This ought to do it. CNN this morning, cell-phone footage of a pretty, 17 year-old girl, on her back, eyes open, moving her mouth like a fish out of water, dying of a gun shot wound from government agents, shot, essentially, for spite, or fun, in Tehran, proving that the protesters are right, the current regime does not have their best interests at heart.

The report gave her name, she’ll be on a t-shirt soon. We have our martyr.

The “Persian” thing started in Los Angeles. You’d ask people where they were from and they’d think for a second and say, “I’m Persian.” Personally, I can’t wait for Persia to retake its rightful place in the world. Persia is a wonderful, ancient culture, and I never met a Persian that I didn’t like.


The vid is "Ohio," as in, "four dead in O-high-O."

Freak-Beat, They Tell Me

Crank up the Way-Back-Machine, and take a trip to God-Knows-Where.


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Pretty Cool Crocodile Farm

I went to the local Crocodile Farm last week. Didn't get to the restaurant to sample the croc' dishes, maybe next time. The gift shops were great, tons of crocodile handbags, wallets, shoes, keychains, briefcases, very little of that "endangered species" stuff over here.

Another big difference: in America, one is constantly surrounded by signs that say, "Do Not Feed The Animals;" over here, feeding the animals is encouraged. It's a profit center, they'll sell you the food. This place had lots of animals, monkeys, some tigers, a few hippo's. There was no feeding the tigers, but the rest were fair game. The monkeys would practically talk to you, holding out their hands and making like gimme-gimme.

This hippo pic has no telephoto, and I was standing back owing to my natural caution. Had I been so disposed, I could have touched one of the tusks. "Feeding the hippo's" indeed.

Somehow they drew the line at feeding the tigers, though. A sign over there said, "The tigers love small children, but unfortunately small children give them indigestion, so don't let your children get too close."

Global Climate Change Is Thailand’s Friend

I know a little bit about Thailand’s weather. The first year that I was here was 2547, oh, I mean 2004. We landed after midnight on January 9th and it was over ninety degrees. We all broke out in a drenching sweat immediately. That was the “cool season,” or what some Thais with advanced senses of humor call the “cold season,” or winter.

The “hot season” starts in March, and that first year was really one to remember. I had no air-con, and the Peace Corps had us riding bikes all over hell-and-gone. I was dizzy half the time, my ankles swelled up, and I wondered if the sun hadn’t moved closer to the earth all of a sudden.

Traditionally the cool season is six weeks or so within the months of December and January. Usually, it’s never really cool at all, except maybe between 3: and 5:00 a.m., and then it only goes down to the high seventies, unless you’re in the mountains where it may actually get cool, high sixties until the sun clears the horizon. The hot season gets rolling in March. April is the worst, and the thermometer can reach ten degrees over body temperature, like it did that first April. Then, usually in June, the rainy season comes and the temperatures moderate a little. That’s been the pattern for a long, long time.

It’s different now. This last year, the cool season was really, really cool. Cool and long, it lasted every inch of three months, December, January and February. Even in Bangkok it was cool all of that time, like light blanket at night cool, like hardly sweat at all during the day cool. In the mountains it got so cold that people died, it got down to the low fifties and believe me, for Thai people that is technically freezing. And this year, there was no hot season. As soon as the cool season ended, the rain started, and I’m here to tell you, the weather has been quite decent, I must say.

Oh, it breaks ninety degrees now, it’s June, but only by the barest of margins, and at night we coast through in the low eighties, which is hardly hot at all. Most days it rains, and that makes it even better. We could always get a hot surprise somewhere along the line, but I don’t think so. Last year was similar, if a little bit hotter. Early onset of the rainy season, strangely reasonable temperatures after an April that was pretty hot if there was no rain but not as hot as usual. I think the weather here is changing, for the better.

So I’m wondering: has all of this Global Climate Change been good for Thailand?

Monday, June 15, 2009

Norm McDonald Is Funny

God help me, and I hope to God that It will, because I think Norm McDonald is funny. Last week he was on Conan, and he said, liberally paraphrased:

Oh, me and Andy Richter go way back, we came out to Hollywood about the same time. I had a job, bussing tables down at the (Coffee Shop). So one day he says to me that he found this great new way to make money, he’s going to be a male prostitute. I said, are you sure? You’re not even gay. He told me, don’t worry, it’s a great way to make money.

The next day he comes in to the (Coffee Shop), and says, hey! I had a great night! Let me buy you breakfast! I said, what if I want steak and eggs? That’s expensive. He says, no problem! I’ve got plenty of money! Last night I made four-hundred and fifty-one dollars and fifty cents.

I thought about it and finally asked him, who gave you fifty cents?

“All of them.”

Ladies And Gentlemen, Here's The Sonics!

The Great Northwest has done wonders for Rock n' Roll, from the Kingsmen of Louie, Louie fame, to Jimi Hendrix, to Kurt Cobain. Often overlooked are the Sonics, who really wrote the book on a certain, Early/Mid-Sixties garage sound.


Saturday, June 13, 2009

A Fine Artist In Sukhothoi

I really like this young, aaahhhhh, lady, and the paintings that he, er, she was selling were very striking and original. I could have had this one for 3,000 Baht, about seventy-five dollars, but I swear if I buy one more thing in my life, I have no idea where I'll put it.

But I really liked the paintings, this one in particular. So I offered him 100 Baht to let me take a couple of pictures. Time is money, after all, and business is business. He was really very sweet.

Oh! The Things They Write!

This whole Engrish thing is pretty funny. Sometimes what they come up with doesn't really mean anything.

This one is from one of the Thai ministries (original also in two paragraph form):

Please be informed that anyone who bring the written document, which is unauthorized from a company for submitting Work Permit.

The Office will initiate legal proceeding against violation person strictly.


Ok, so it’s not all light-hearted.

Raise your hand if you had a rejecting father! Oh, boy, I was afraid of that, there’s a lot of you out there.

I had one, have one still, actually, and I’m afraid that I in my turn became one as well. After my own fashion, and very different from the style adopted by my father, but I almost certainly qualify. From, you might say, the opposite point of origin: my father started with the feeling that he was better than everyone else; I started with the idea that everyone else was better than me. No matter, there’s more than one way to get from point “A” to point “B” in this bad-parent sweepstakes.

Total abandonment is the worst rejection, of course. My father did not actually abandon us, as in go out for cigarettes never to return, as in divorce my mom and become totally invisible, but it was close, and the effect was almost the same. He merely took a position with his job that kept him traveling all the time. We were lucky to see him once a week. He’d come home from somewhere late one night, make himself franks and beans, re-pack his suitcase and catch some sleep, then leave again in the morning for somewhere else. After my age of eight or ten, he was not really present in the house. It was harder on my sister, she’s four years younger than me and, well, that was her dad and maybe it’s harder for girls to be ignored by their dads.

Maybe he was right. Come to think of it, we lived in such a crazy house that I went home as infrequently as possible too. Again, my poor sister, I probably could have made a difference. I’m sorry about that, but teenage boys are notoriously oblivious after all, and I for one was living in a dream world.

My father also had that whole hyper-critical thing going on. I thought that it took a lot of nerve to come home once in a while and start bitching right away. As he got older he tried not to inflict it so generally, but as it is the scorpions nature to sting, he still works in those little zingers on a regular basis. I wondered, and I’m sure that my sister did too, what we had done to ruin our family, that’s a bad feeling right there.

My wife of almost forty years had a rejecting father too. In his case, he had a regular job and came home after work everyday. After that, though, after dinner, he’d go to the bar at the Veterans of Foreign Wars hall and come home as the children were going to bed, or after. If he stayed at home, he’d stay in his basement workshop, drink some beers, and play with the short-wave radio. With both of our dads, there wasn’t any real communication going on, and the message to children is: you are not important . . . I reject you.

I got married young and had a child right away, and for the first eight or nine years I followed the “going out” pattern of my wife’s father. After dinner, it was “see you later.” The first few years, we lived in New York City and I’d just go out with my friends, get loaded, see a movie, watch a ball game, maybe play cards, mostly get loaded. I was happy to be married and have a family, I loved my wife and son, but I’m pretty sure that I didn’t show it.

At some point we moved to L.A. I felt like I needed a change of scene, maybe straighten up a little. In one of the great ironies of my life, I got a job with a chain of record stores and once again, everybody that I knew got loaded. I wasn’t complaining. We were in the main warehouse, forty people all together, so everybody came to us, it was a buyers-market. Plus, we got comped at the good rock clubs, with a couple of free drinks, no less. I didn’t mind. I liked hanging out.

Another few years and we had a second child. It occurred to me that I was a lucky man, I had a nice family, and I was better after that. For the next ten years or so I was an engaged, happy family man, not quite arrow-straight but close, an accessible, at home dad, helpful even. By that time, though, I’m pretty sure that it was too late to change the message for my first son, odds are the rejection message had been received loud and clear.

Then I complicated my life with a late stab at a career. Big mistake. The quantum leap in social interaction left me emotionally exhausted by the time I returned home. I stayed home, but I became like my wife’s father when he’d bunkered up in a corner of the house alone and uncommunicative. I never drank much before, but that changed. The weekends were even worse, after half a day’s work on Saturday I’d beg to be left alone. I think my younger son actually missed me and wanted to see me on the weekend, but I’d just bother him to go out with his friends. Boy, I wish I could buy back some of this bad behavior.

I offer no excuse for myself, but there is an explanation. In my boyhood family I developed the notion that they would be better off without me, they looked like such a nice family and I obviously screwed it up. I allowed this feeling to carry over to my adult family as well. I could not imagine that they profited from my attention. It’s hard even now.

I suppose that it’s good to realize these things before one dies. It gives one time to offer heartfelt apologies, which I do, as nine readers are my witnesses.

Friday, June 12, 2009

The Dancing Girls

Here's a couple of nice dancing girls that I know. Aren't Thai women graceful?

A recent comment decried the light tone of this blog, wishing instead for, in this instance, lurid pictures of poor David Carradine in the closet. No, no, no, not here! I try to delete the negativity as much as possible. Spin Easy Time! is an alternate-Polyana-reality that I create to cheer myself up. You want the actual, real world? You'll find it easy enough. Good luck with that.

Coincidence v. Cause-And-Effect

The never ending struggle between coincidence and cause and effect is a never ending fascination for me.

There are the shear coincidences that draw one’s attention, like the fact that Einstein was born on March 14th, 3/14. Get it? I didn’t get it right away either, but that’s Phi! 3.1415926 etc ad nauseum. Shear coincidence.

The other day my cleaning lady was here and when she left I turned on my TV and discovered that my cable was “searching for signal.” The cable getting dizzy is not so rare an occurrence as I would prefer, but I was immediately suspicious. Coincidence? I didn’t think so, unsophisticated cleaning ladies the world over have a tendency to get too rough with the settings on devices, and wires mean nothing to them. I gave the wiring a cursory check, it all looked fine to me, and I tried all of the controls on the cable box, nothing untoward. There was nothing that I wanted to watch until a basketball playoff game about four hours later, so I just laid low and read.

At some point, during a shallow nap, I decided that it must be cause and effect. I thought about the connections, and what needed rechecking. I searched around the back of the devices, tracing each wire from one end to the other, I felt like a Chinese acrobat twisted around behind the TV, nothing could be moved much because, well, it’s all connected with wires. I gave up and thought about calling the cable company, then gave up that idea right away. First, there’s the language barrier, and then there’s the fact that nobody over there probably knows anything or really cares, and so what if your building is out, get over it.

So later on I was watching the end of a Godzilla movie on a VCD, no sound because those wires are screwed up too and I don’t have the heart to ask a young person to come over and try to get it going for me. I noticed an empty jack hanging over to the side, and upon closer inspection I found a short piece of cable coming out of the wall nearby. When I connected the two, my TV was back in action.

Maybe all of this seems uninteresting to my gentle readers, but such is the drama of the official version of my life in Thailand.

Vernon Forrest (Your Welterweight Champion) v. “Sugar” Shane Mosley

June, 2009

This was an ugly fight that brought no credit to the sport and certainly no glory to anybody that was involved, except maybe Michael Buffer, whose “let’s get ready to rumble!” was as rousing as ever. These guys had a fight in January and the Champ got the nod; this time around Mr. Mosley was determined to make it a formal dance in boxing gloves, a twelve round push-clinch-waltz devoid of pugilistic merit, a slim chance back-door rematch victory. It was not to be.

Sugar charged in relentlessly for twelve rounds, determined not to get pounded outside by the long-limbed Champ if he could at all avoid it. If he could score a punch on the way in, the more the better, but more often he just charged in and tied Mr. Forrest up. To his credit, Sugar never seemed to be going for the head butt, although he sometimes settled for the odd forearm or a scrape of the laces. It took him two full steps to get inside the Champ’s broad reach, and one he was safely in the Champ’s arms he seemed relieved to have made it safe to shelter, squirming around, dancing, as it were, waiting for the referee to call the break, with the expression and demeanor of a person in a Renaissance painting of Hell .

Vernon Forrest is a very talented boxer with a perfect record, now 35 -0 with 26 KO’s. He’s a tall, solid welterweight who can take a punch and give out considerable punishment. He was frustrated in the early going by Sugar’s desperate wrestling maneuvers, but he showed poise and adaptability in this fight. In the later rounds, it was Mr. Mosley who tired somewhat and Mr. Forrest found the distance and began pounding the smaller man outside, landing some dangerous looking punches with great effect. Mr. Mosley was not at all productive in the last two rounds.

The announcers, typically horrible for the boxing game, made much of Mr. Mosley’s “perceived aggression,” and his tendency to try to steal rounds by launching a desperate last second flurry at the end of each round. I hate guys that make a big show right before the bell and then strut to their corner with their hands erect in triumph as though they had just won something, when for two-and-a-half minutes of the round they were getting their asses kicked mercilessly. At least the judges weren’t going for it. The decision for Mr. Forrest was unanimous.

After the fight, it was very gratifying to discover that both men were fine sportsmen. Mr. Mosley, upon losing, immediately gave up his arrogant manner and became very gracious, smiling at everybody and shaking hands all around. The two men posed for pictures together and had only generous things to say about each other. It was a great pleasure to see, unlike the fight itself.

Monday, June 8, 2009

A Nice Little Plane

This is the hip ride out to the stix in Thailand. It's an Aerospetiale ATR-72, a Brazilian plane. This one is a Bangkok Airways plane, "The Boutique Airline of Thailand." Also the smart airline of Thailand. Most of the short-hail airlines fly jets, small Airbus planes, some smaller. The jets are expensive to run, and many of these flights are not full, not by any means.

This Aerospetiale plane is old school, and before the financial crisis it was decidedly un-hip. It's cheap to fly, however, and it's advantages have recently become dynamically obvious. Bangkok Airways is the only short-haul airline still making money, and the other guys are switching to this plane, sometimes leased from Bangkok Air.

This plane, by the way, is a good ride. It's powerful, with a riveting fourteen second take off run, and it's fast in the air, 500 mph or thereabouts. It's a solid, comfortable flyer with a nice, gentle touchdown.

It's a new-old world!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Some Misguided English

This is from our very nice resort hotel in Rayong. The fourth one from the bottom turns the intended meaning on its head; the bottom one is perhaps overly cautious.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Cool Motorcycle Alert

This is some kind of Yamaha "big single," about 200cc. Pretty cool, eh?

You’d Love My Cleaning Lady

So many Farang come over here and fall into Total-True-Love inappropriately. It’s easy to understand.

A man in Europe or America, a man, let’s say, of a certain age, and prosperous, sees a young, unsophisticated, poor, uneducated, woman who is nevertheless beautiful and thinks, wow, she’s hot, and moves on. In Europe or America, he is not interested because he knows that she is an inappropriate love object. He has no desire to listen to her click her gum and talk about silly things, and he might be embarrassed to be seen with her.

The same men, many of them, transported to Thailand, encounter women similarly situated and proceed with full-blinders on as though the woman were a great catch. Even worse, the Thai woman may be in the “entertainment” trade, which in Europe or America would be another red flag. But the Thai woman seems so sweet, and polite, and she only talks about her family, that many Farang men discard all caution and fall in love.

The resulting unions become horror stories on a regular basis. Sometimes the man is the exploiter, using the woman and perhaps even officially marrying her and having children before simply going home, never to be heard from again; sometimes the woman exploits the man, leading him to buy her a house and maybe a car in her name (it’s hard for foreigners to take title to things here), and then she simply kicks him out, or worse, especially if he has made her the beneficiary of some life insurance.

It’s very easy to understand. Take my cleaning lady, for instance. She has a very pretty face and a great smile, beautiful hair and skin, and an impossibly wonderful, full little figure. She’s a good woman too, a Christian, no fooling around, no doubt clean as a whistle. She has a very sunny personality. She is also devoid of education, completely unsophisticated, easily confused, let’s say, and poor as a church mouse. She is, in fact, a church mouse, she lives on the charity of her church, on the premises of the church, repaying the kindness by performing maintenance tasks.

She is so hot that in spite of my age-depleted hormones she makes every molecule of my body scream on an individual basis and be drawn to her. She is more than attractive enough to cause many men to lose some of their natural caution and look for ways to rationalize an inappropriate union. A union that would end badly.

Although I can be quite stupid in many ways, I seem to understand this one. But it happens every day, and it’s easy to see how a guy could fall in love with one of these women.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Lefty Sukhothai Buddha Dispels Fear!

A nice, bronze example of the Sukhothai style.

A Little Rain

Well, to be fair, it was more than a little rain. It was a downpour. I was on the bus, coming home from school. Lightning hit a few times within fifty yards of the bus, with a nice crack! and flash! My walk from the bus stop to home was a blustery, drenching stroll that shredded my admittedly already tired little umbrella. Upon arriving home, I discovered, to no surprise at all, that the electricity was out.

I rent a condo in a very up-scale complex named Lumpini Ville, one of many Lumpini Property Management developments around Bangkok. And yet, whenever it rains more than a little, or the rain has some wind behind it, the electricity goes out. As I write, the rain has been over for three hours, and yet the electricity is still out, that’s four hours of no lights, no nothing. The rest of the neighborhood has long been cheerfully back in business. What’s wrong with this picture?

Face it, people, it rains in Thailand, every year, a lot, it shouldn’t be such a surprise. If it were snowing I could understand. If this were America, the condo owners would be all the way up in arms, they’d sue the people that sold them the condos in the first place.

But here, and this is the blessing and the curse of Thailand, it’s just another opportunity to smile. Wow! That was some rain! Where’s the candles?

Even a little bit of rain is enough to make the cable TV go out. That’s expensive too, more than fifty dollars a month for the no-holds-barred Platinum Package, that’s a fortune over here, you can rent a nice place for that in most of Thailand. Same with the Wi-Fi for the computer, rain? forget it. And the rainy season is long, featuring rain pretty much every day.

But forgiveness and acceptance is the rule over here, so lets just all smile and get over it! That’s a good lesson for me, but hard.

My Famous Good Luck

I have always been a lucky man. In the big ways, one could correctly observe that I have not cooperated with my good luck, but in the little ways it has always come in very handy. For example, two instances: in twelve years of going to court there was only one time that I failed to calendar something and had no idea of it when the day came, and only one time that I miscalendared something and showed up at the wrong courthouse.

The former was a hearing in the bankruptcy case of one of my clients. It was one of my rare cases in Orange County, not an easy place to get to on the spur of the moment. Amazingly, my client called me about an hour before I should have arrived at the hearing room, this happened in about one half of one percent of these matters, by actual count. I talked to him pleasantly for a minute, and then took off like a sprinter. I borrowed a tie and a jacket from one of the other lawyers in the suite and jumped into my car. Again amazingly, I was greeted by unusually light traffic and covered the distance in record time, arriving in plenty of time to make it all look very normal. Good luck, that, including the failure of the Highway Patrol to notice that I had been greatly exceeding the speed limit.

The later was a motion appearance in a civil law suit. The hearing was scheduled for 8:30 a.m., I thought it was to be heard at the big courthouse downtown. I like to be early, and I got to the courtroom at about 8:00 a.m. Upon checking the posted calendar, and re-checking the paperwork, I discovered that the hearing was actually out in Inglewood in a Department with the same number.

If this happens in a Criminal Court, you can call them and they’ll ask you casually, when can you get here? And pretty much any time is ok with them, they’ll call the case when you get there. In a Civil Court, though, there’s no use in calling, you’ll just annoy them, as in, so what? I’ll tell the other lawyers so they can work the case behind your back.

By the time I had jog-walked the twenty minutes back to the car and fought the traffic to Inglewood I walked into the correct courtroom one hour after the posted time. It seemed un-naturally quiet. I asked around and was told that the judge hadn’t taken the bench yet. This too almost never happens.

So it’s all good luck for me then, and I’m thankful for it. I do wish I could have done more on my part to work with the more important good luck.

Monday, June 1, 2009

The Power Of Love

In spite of my generally ungrateful failure to appreciate the gift of life, I am very grateful for the power of love, the genetic imperative that soothes a woman's mood and allows her to tolerate a particular man for the duration of child-rearing. It gave me a good twenty-five or thirty year run of considerable happiness. What happens now is anybody's guess.

A Great Party

That's my Dean in the pig mask, he's a real trooper; Cinderella on my other side; and Lady Dracula (I wouldn't want her costume or the Dean's, they made it hard to eat). Plus two women who show with what grace and charm Thai women achieve a certain age.

Me with a couple of our support staff at the Faculty of Law.

These are our dancing girls, chosen for exactly the charms that they are displaying in this picture. They really dance up a storm and it's a riot, if I may mix my metaphors.

Just a couple of nice women who wanted to have their picture taken with a charming, tall, rich man with good teeth and a weird costume.

And the food was good too, including a very nice Shiraz from Penfold's of Australia.

I Am Your Fah-Low!

Maybe I should have gotten it right away. I was told that for our faculty party I would be the Fah-Low, and I said sure! sounds like fun, I’m a get-along guy. I didn’t know what a Fah-Low was, and I didn’t know what other costumes there would be, so I had no frame of reference.

Right before the party I got the costume, oh! I’ll be the Pharaoh! as in pyramids and mummies, as in Mr. Big-House himself. Here's a nice picture of me with Cleopatra and, I don't know, I didn't get her name, Sherazade, Solome, some Middle-Eastern broad. (This kid should have gotten the big prize, he's straight if I don't miss my guess, but he good-naturedly camped up his role to the hilt.)

The party was a blast. After a while we costumed folk took turns on stage, showing off the costumes and giving a little talk on our own behalf, it was a low-stress contest. One interesting thing about my university is that if they ask you to do something extra they arrange to get you paid a little extra. So there was like a six-way tie for fourth place (500 Baht each) and another six-way tie for third place (1,000 Baht). I was in the third place group. Then Cleopatra and Tinkerbelle were called to the stage and first place was given out American Idol style. Tinkerbelle took it, no surprise, she really played her candidacy all evening. In her turn on stage she even had music and a video! Talk about being prepared.

Here's Tinkerbelle; to the left is my buddy Ajan Apichai, whom people never tire of telling me is a Muslim; next left is a nice guy who I'm pretty sure loves me; in red is the Cat In The Hat, a lovely woman who speaks good English and who helps me out a lot.