Friday, December 31, 2010

Ringing Out The Old

2010 has been a very difficult year for me. I had a bad accident that left me in the hospital for three and a half weeks, and off work for six weeks. My recovery was slow and difficult. In fact, in some ways I am not fully recovered. Financially I am definitely not recovered. My foot and leg have gotten as good as they are going to get, but I'll always have some problems on that side. At work my teaching continuous to improve, but I wasn't really very focused on the classroom this year. Socially it also wasn't a good year. So I won't be sorry to ring out 2010.

But hard times can also be the inspiration for self improvement. I have been successful in some areas I lost some weight (not enough, but even a little is start). I started a weight lifting program and I have stuck with it. I bought a bicycle and have been using it regularly. (I did 25 miles today, a new personal best). Other than my left foot I am stronger than I have been in years. I am also fitter in cardiovascular terms than I have been in years. WHen I was in the hospital I was weaker than a new born kitten. I could not walk, I could not lift my weight without help. I needed help to reach the toilet, and I could not take a shower, because I couldn't stay upright that long. Even when I got home, I took showers sitting down for about three weeks. The first time I walked on my crutches to the corner store it took me 30 minutes to cover the 200 or so yards there and back. That spurred me to start getting into shape. I hope never again to be that weak. So there was at least one positive outcome from the experience.

So tomorrow I will address the New Year and my plans for it.

Happy New Year to all!

Sunday, December 26, 2010


I went for a long bike ride this morning. I went 23.4 miles actually! That is a new personal best for me. Not far I know, as bikers measure these things. But for me it was a milestone. Did you ever see the movie "What about Bob?" As his psychiatrist keeps telling him "Baby steps, baby steps!" So it is with my bike riding. I'll just keep on making small improvements day by day in distance and speed, and soon I will be able to go on really long rides. Before we started our year end break one of my friends challenged to do a ride of fifty kilometers before the end of break (31 miles). I am not there yet, but I think I may make it before we go back on Jan 3rd.

I took an apple with me today. I thought I would eat it when I stopped for a water break about halfway. I ate it, rode some more, and realized that I was famished. My blood sugar was dropping and I was getting exhausted. I stopped at a little roadside restaurant and ate a plate of fried rice. That sustained me until I got home. I guess I will have to start carrying granola bars with me. Several of my friends bake their own energy bars with wild mixes of grains, fruits, and nuts. They swear by them. However, I don't have an oven, so I guess I will have to stick with the store bought varieties.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Want to wish everybody a Merry Christmas. I hope you have a happy and safe holiday period.

I will be celebrating here in Chiang Mai, My family is going to try a Skype chat, and later I will be meeting some friends for lunch. And Later still I will be going for a bike ride.

Thursday, December 9, 2010


For the past 8 weeks or so I have been working six days a week. XYZ school recently introduced Sunday morning classes, because our Saturday classes were overflowing and we didn't have the rooms or the teachers to accommodate more students. They have proven to be very popular and this looks to be a major source of growth for the Chiang Mai branch in the next year. This term I am teaching a level 3 class on Sundays. Unfortunately, the sixth (last) week of every weekday term we have an extra day of class. This caused us to work an 11 day stretch five weeks ago, and now I am in the middle of a 13 day stretch of work. This is quite tiring and makes me a bit cranky. But at the end of this stretch we do have two weeks of vacation, and I have already told my boss that I am not working Sundays next term.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Bike ride

I took my bike out this morning for a spin. I rode for an hour and fifteen minutes. I am not sure exactly how far I went. I am going to buy a bike computer from one of my friends, but he hasn't brought it into work yet. But I do have a nifty heart rate monitor that tracks your heart rate and calculates your calories burned, etc. So today's exercise session lasted 75 minutes, my maximum heart rate was 143, which is 83% of my maximum heart rate zone. The average was 109 whick is 63 percent of my MHRZ. I burned 655 calories, of which 55% was fat. My friend has a heart rate monitor that also has GPS and an altimeter, so it will tell you exactly where you went, your highest and lowest points, how much you climbed and descended throughout your exercise session, and it all the data points can be downloaded to your computer to make graphs and maps of your route. But those cost about 500 dollars, so I won't be buying one anytime soon.

Oh, and the scenery was nice to and the weather was nice. I am going to have to get some long sleeved t-shirts though to protect my arms from the sun. THis tropical sun can be brutal.

Monday, December 6, 2010

New Bike

I bought a bike today. I have been looking at bikes for a few months but today I took the plunge and bought one. It is a Trek 4000 series. It's basically a 4300, but I have upgraded a few things. It is a mountain bike, although it has road tires. I don't intend to be riding it down the sides of any mountains. It has hydraulic disk brakes (useful on the mountains) and 24 gears. Although I can't imagine what I will do with 24 gears. I took it out this afternoon. I felt quite high off the ground and rather unsteady. It also wore me out after about 30 minutes in the foothills of Doi Suthep. Well, I have a lot of time to get used to it, and to get into better shape to ride it.

Here is a picture. It is called "bronze" in color and is quite handsome, at least in my opinion.


Sunday, December 5, 2010

Modern Times

I had an interesting conversation with my Junior class this week. Juniors are 13 and 14 years old and too young to study in our certificate program. This particular class is quite precocious and speak English much better than most of our certificate program graduates.

Anyway, the unit we were covering was about computers, the internet, and technology. I asked them how much time they spent using the computer each day. The answers ranged from three hours to six hours a day. At first I did not believe them, but they insisted that it was true. I asked them what they did on the computer for that amount of time. They told me they did homework, emailed, used Facebook, watched movies they downloaded or streamed, watched youtube, and listened to music. I can't imagine spending that much time online. I use the computer about two hours most days (lesson planning, checking email, playing Farmville, and surfing a little bit). But some days I don't even turn my computer on.

These kids are totally wired. Some of them have 3G cell phones and surf the net with their phones. I asked them if they thought they were addicted to the internet. Three said yes, two said maybe, one said no. They didn't seem at all bothered by their addiction or possible addiction. I know they often stay up to midnight or even one or two in the morning on the internet. Then at six or so they get up and get ready to go school. Of the six kids in that class only one is in good physical shape (fit), one is fairly fit, three are obese, and one is skinny but totally lacking any muscles. These kids are only 13 and 14 years old, what will they be like in a few more years. Are they ever going to exercise, learn to love sports, spend time in nature or simply surround themselves with silence?

I asked them how many hours they thought I had spent using the computer each day when I was their age. They're guesses ranged from 2 hours to 4 hours a day. The truth of course, is that I didn't spend any time with computers at their age. There was no such thing as a home computer in those days. Nor were there cell phones. They simply can't imagine a world that isn't wired. I really worry about the upcoming generation. They are living in a different world than the one I grew up in. For younger people things simply aren't real if they aren't online. An experience isn't real and has not yet happened until it has been blogged about, tweeted about or uploaded with full color and sound.

Maybe I am just a cranky old man, but I don't have any desire to live my life online in full view of the world.

I love my students, but I really worry about their future. Maybe eventually they will kick the internet habit and actually spend time with their friends, spend time outside, and unwired, but I don't know.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


Well, my friend Ben, and his lovely wife Fuang did tie the knot this weekend. They had a lovely wedding in a park across from their house.

Best wishes to them in marraige.


Monday, November 22, 2010

Khom Loy

Here are a few pictures from releasing hot-air balloons.

Mook and Ton hold a balloon while Fah lights it.


A group of us at Thapae Gate


Yok and I with a balloon.


Almost ready to release.


Friday, November 19, 2010

Busy Weekend

I have quite a busy weekend this week. I have to work both Saturday and Sunday. In addition one of my friends (a teacher here at the school) is getting married on Sunday Evening. Also this is the Loy Kratong Festival, the second most important festival of the Thai year, and personally my favorite festival of the year. Tonight my last class invited me to go down to Thapae Gate and launch khom loy, or hot air balloons. These are a big part of Loy Krathong. When you launch one it is supposed to carry away all of your cares, and you can make a wish as well.

I was going to post some pictures of the releasing of the balloons, but my internet connection is balky (as it quite often is) so I cannot upload them. If I get a chance I will upload them tomorrow.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Weather update.

This has been a strange year in Thailand weather-wise (and else-wise but I will leave that alone for now). Earlier in the year we had the hottest summer in fifty years, with temps throughout the country routinely over 40 degrees C. (That is really hot, for those of you who measure in Fahrenheit). It was accompanied by a record breaking drought. Now we are facing the coldest winter in 30 to 40 years, due to La Nina paying us a visit. The weather has been spectacular here in CM city, with balmy afternoons and chilly nights, usually quite sunny. However in the hinterlands (i.e. the mountains) it has been much colder. The people in the mountains are mostly poor, have uninsulated houses, and usually lack proper winter clothes. One person already died in Chiang Rai from exposure (exacerbated by an underlying heart condition). Thais are not acclimatized to cold weather, and succumb to its affects at temperatures that would not seem dangerous to us. They are actually forecasting freezing weather in large swathes of the North this year, which is unheard of. This will unfortunately lead to a lot of deaths from respiratory diseases, asthma and exposure. The government and charities are doing what they can, but there will always be people who don't get proper clothes, etc, or drink alcohol before going to bed (very dangerous in cold climates).

Monday, September 20, 2010

Plum Deliciious!

I ate a plum today. (Actually I ate two). That may not seem like a big deal, but I haven't eaten a plum in probably five years. Plums don't grow here in Thailand, so it is hard to eat them. Well, they are occasionally available in the supermarket, but since they are imported they normally cost a king's ransom. So, I look at them with longing and then pass. But today they had some plums on sale, four for forty baht. Now, that is really cheap for fruit, even cheaper than an orange. Close examination showed why they were marked down. They were soft, very soft. Well past their prime, I decided to take a chance on them anyway. One wasn't very good, a kind of sickly sweet flavor, with no tartness at all and a pulpy consistency. They other however, was delicious, in spite of being soft. I thoroughly enjoyed it. And I have two more to eat tomorrow!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

American Football

Living here in Thailand I don't get to see much American Football. You can buy expensive cable packages that show a lot of football, but my apartment does not offer that cable company. (And I would not pay extra for it anyway). You can also get a satellite dish and wash 10 million channels from around the world. That is even more expensive.

However, the cable package we have at Baan Thai does occasionally broadcast football games, although they don't provide an advanced viewing schedule so it is largely hit or miss trying to see a game. But in the fall if I get up early on a Sunday morning I can often find a game.

Today I was in luck, and saw the second half of an exciting game between Michigan and Notre Dame. I was a bit disappointed after Notre Dame came from behind to take a lead with three minutes left, only to allow a touchdown in the last 30 seconds of the game. But it was still a good game. Last year I saw several Big 12 games, and maybe I will get to see some U. of Texas games this year.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Season Change

We have had a sudden change in our weather. This is still the rainy season, but for the last week the weather forgot that. It has been dry, sunny, and very, very hot. Then last night about nine o'clock the wind started gusting. I thought it was going to start raining, but it never did. Instead a norther blew through roaring down from China and the eastern flank of the Himalayas. This morning it was actually chilly, not something we expect here in September. It is cloudy, cool, and very pleasant right now. I'm loving it!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Five Years

I am celebrating a milestone this week. As of today I have lived in Thailand for five years. It is incredible to me that that much time has passed. I have to say that I haven't every regretted coming here and still don't. There have been ups and downs along the way, but I have generally been happy here, and I suspect, much happier than I would have been living in the States.

I am looking forward to many more years here in Thailand. I am not sure if I will remain in Chiang Mai, or relocate at some point to a more central location. (CM is a great place to live, but it isn't necessarily convenient when you want to travel. Plus there are many great places in Thailand that I haven't been able to visit simply because they are two far away for a short trip. I am also looking to boost my income, I admit I have been kind of lazy the last couple of years. I have been taking it easy. But it is time to start working harder and building up the old savings account.

For those of you who are interested, my foot is getting better. I don't have to wear the "ski boot" anymore. I am walking more normally, although I cannot really walk long distances and my foot swells up when I spend too much time standing up. So it is still a work in progress.

Friday, June 11, 2010


I had my second outpatient visit today. The doctor took out the stitches. The foot still looks like a mess to me, but Dr. Samran was happy with it. He says the skin graft is taking and the wound is healing well. He is also sending me to buy a special walking cast that can be taken on and off. It is more comfortable and will allow me to walk without crutches.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Mobile again

I am a bit happier today. That is because I am mobile again. I went and rented an automatic motorcycle today. (My motorbike is still in Mai Ai, a hundred and twenty miles over the mountains. Plus I couldn't drive it, since I can't shift gears with my left foot in a splint). People might be surprised that I would get back on a Motorcycle, but I don't really have any choice. Public transportation in CM is not handicap friendly, as well as being inconvenient. I can't walk more than about 100 yards and that takes me 15 minutes. So I am mobile again, although every outing leaves me exhausted. I still spend most of my time laying down.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Tuesday, June 1

I have been home since Saturday Evening and got my internet connection restored yesterday. Mostly I am lying around in bed keeping my foot elevated. That is to keep the swelling in the foot down. Swelling is bad for the skin graft. I have gotten out of the apartment a few times, but it is very difficult and slow on crutches. I have had several visitors, which perks me up. My life in general is very boring right now. I have my initial outpatient consultation on Friday. It is at the hospital, which means it is quite a way from here. Not quite sure how I will get there. Hopefully the doctor will have good news about the skin graft, and tendon repair.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


I should be transferring in about 4 hours. I have settled my bill here, and it wasn't cheap. My insurance only paid about two thirds. I really do need to get out of here. I won't have a private room at first, so I will be on a public ward until a private room opens up. Oh well. I'll contact again when I am able..

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


Some days it seems like I take two steps forward and one step back. Then there are days I take one step forward and two steps back. I feel like that now. My foot has swollen up again, so I cannot have surgery yet. Also the doctor who is going to do my tendon surgery wants me to move back to Nakhon Ping hospital (his hospital) so he can monitor me and do a special Negative Pressure Wound Treatment that he thinks will work well in my case. It would be much cheaper there, but it is far from the city center and I would get fewer visitors. I would also have to have people bring me food, since I was unable to eat the food there and digest it.

I probably won't have internet access there (or only sporadically) So I won't be able to communicate as easily. I will decide tonight what to do. If I transfer to Hakhon Ping I will try to blog about it before I go.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Monday Afternoon

I am feeling kind of happy today. My orthopedic surgeon came by and looked at my foot today. He told me the wound on the top of my foot had healed enough to take a skin graft. That means it is no longer oozing scabbing material or bleeding. It now looks rosy red, like a freshly cut well marbled steak. So he asked the plastic surgeon to come take a look at it later today. There is going to be a big ugly scar on top of my foot when this is done, but I guess they want to make it look as good as possible. Hopefully the surgery can happen in the next couple of days. They will repair the tendon in my big toe, then do a skin graft to cover the top of my foot. I just hope it gets done soon. The sooner it gets done, the sooner I can get out of here and back to my apartment, and back to work. Although that won't happen for at least five weeks, since I don't have any classes this term.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Sunday Evening

It is Sunday and it has been a quiet day. I had a short Physical Therapy session today. Mainly we just reviewed what they taught me yesterday about walking with crutches and going up and down stairs. That is a necessary skill since I am going to be in a cast for six weeks. One of my friends brought me some DVDs yesterday so I watched the newest Star Trek movie. Not the same on the small screen as it was on the big screen.

This afternoon we had a strong thunderstorm. The electricity went out several Times but seems to be back on now. Everything outside looks well scrubbed and fresh now.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

In Hospital

Well, I am back to blogging. I had a little motorcycle accident last week and now am in the hospital recovering. I will need surgury (hopefully soon) to repair a tendon in my foot and to do a skin graft on the top of my foot.

I am not in too much pain, but I am bored and lonely. Most days I get a few visitors, but I am not expecting any today. The teachers at work will be working all day today, so I don't expect any of them. But tomorrow is a day off, so I may get quite a few. I pass my time reading, watching TV and surfing the internet.

The Doctor is going to write orders for me to use crutches, so hopefully I can get up some more, maybe walk around the ward some.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Birthday Surprise

Well, I am leaving for Doi Ang Khan in the morning. I am excited about seeing a part of Thailand I have not seen yet. I will certainly take lots of photos, and hopefully post some of them.

I did have a birthday a couple of weeks ago. I turned 48, only two more till I hit the big five-oh. It doesn't bother me at all, I am quite comfortable with my age, and don't particularly want to be any younger. (I would like to have the healthy constitution of a 25 year old, but I don't have any desire at all to actually be 25 again).

I told my students in Summer Term Two that my birthday was in April. I don't normally do anything to try to draw attention to myself, for sure I don't try to encourage my students to give me gifts. I occasionally get a gift from a student or a class, but I don't encourage it. I appreciate the gesture, but I don't want my students spending money on something I may not want, or be able to use. I thought I would be safe this time since my birthday was over a week after the end of that term. But they had other ideas. The last day, after I had handed out grades (unfortunately giving three failing grades to students who had not passed the level 8 test, they threw a party for me, with a cake, a silly pink princess stein, and a big poster with their pictures.


That is supposed to be me in the lower left, although I don't usually have a bird perched on my stomach. They know I am a birdwatcher, so that is in honor of that.

Well, a good time was had by all, even the students who failed. That is one of the things I really love about my students, no matter how disappointed they are, they can shift moods to happy and celebrating in only a few seconds.

Anyway, I need to get to bed so I can get up early.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Musings about this and that

We have finished Summer Terms here in CM, and it couldn't have come soon enough. The last two weeks I have been at the end of my tether. I haven't done a great job of teaching, but my students are a forgiving bunch. In reality they probably didn't even notice the downward slide of my teaching, but I did. Next year I will have to make some other arrangement during Summer Terms. If I am still here I will only work part-time.

Now I have a few days off. I have been cleaning my apartment, exercising, and on Tuesday I will be taking a trip up North. I will visit Doi Ang Khan, the "Little Switzerland" of Thailand, for its high altitude, cool weather, and Swiss architecture.

I also talked with my mother this morning. It was good to talk to her. I should call more often, but time just tends to slip away.

My best wishes to the people on the Gulf Coast, who are being hit by another catastrophe less than five years after Hurricane Katrina.

Monday, April 19, 2010

This and That

Well Songkran is over (thank goodness). A couple of comments about it. The numbers of people in CM celebrating Songkran seemed to be down this year. I don't know if this was because of the horrible heat, the political situation or what. The number of foreigners was way down. From the worthless backpacker scum at the bottom, to the socially parasitic, culturally insensitive Five Star Resort Stayers at the top, the number of tourists in Thailand is way down. It is not hard to understand why. The government can't even keep control of its capital city. And now with the travel disruptions in Europe, even more tourists will stay away.

On a more positive note, the weather is cooler this week. Still very hot, but not the Melt You into a Puddle Then Bake You Dry kind of heat we have been having. This morning there were actually some clouds in the sky. Everyone got excited and thought it might rain, but it didn't. The weather forecast shows a 20 to 30 percent chance this weekend, so we will cross our fingers and hope.

We also started the third summer term this week. I got the classes I taught in Summer One, so it is nice to see familiar and friendly faces in the classroom. Only nine more teaching days and summer will be over!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Songkran musings

Been a long time since I posted. No excuse really. I have been busy, but even in busy times there are moments of respite. Really I just haven't felt like there was anything worthy of posting happening lately.

Right now I have a week off from work while Thailand celebrates Songkran. This is the traditional Thai New Year. (Although it is also the traditional Lao and Khmer New Year as well. They also celebrate Songkran, although with much less abandon.) Songkran runs from the 13th to the 15th. Most places in Thailand limit the public celebration part to just the 13th. But this is Chiang Mai, the city that started Songkran. They celebrate it full on for five days. You can't travel anywhere in the city without being soaked with water. The city moat is the center of the festivities. The moat is six kilometers long and the entire length of it will be packed with people throwing water on other people. It is quite a spectacle, but one that loses its appeal quickly, at least to an old guy like me. I would have liked to leave town, but I need to save my money, so here I am.

This has also been the hottest summer since I have been in Thailand. It is not as hot as I was last year in Cambodia, nor as humid, but here I have to live and work. There I was able to take a several hour siesta in the hottest part of the day. Normally the rains have begun by now, not the monsoon, but the early "mango rains", so called because they coincide with the ripening of the mango crop. This year we are in the midst of the worst drought in many years, so we haven't had a drop of rain to cool the afternoons down.

Well, I really need to clean my room, so I had better get to it.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

This and that

We have just completed the first week of summer terms here at XYZ school. It is a difficult time of year, since I have to teach two three hour classes each day. Each term is two weeks, which mean the students get 30 hours of instruction over 10 days of class. There are three summer terms. That amount of work doesn't leave me with much time for anything else. But I am determined to keep up my trips to the gym this year, and keep on eating healthy despite my limited time to cook. Seems to be working so far. I am feeling much more physically fit this year, and more relaxed and on top of things.

The pollution got really bad this week. It wasn't the worst I have seen, but it was getting close. The last two evening we have had rain showers which washed a lot of stuff out of the air. We ought to have a couple of OK days before it gets bad again. Hopefully we will continue to get these little rain storms from time to time.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Fourth Season

It is generally claimed that Thailand has three seasons, Winter, Summer and Monsoon. Depending on where you are winter runs from about November to January. Summer begins in February and goes until May. Monsoon lasts from June until October. However, I propose that a fourth season be added to the Thai calender, at least here in the North.

The new season should be called Dirty Air and should run from March until about June. The fact that Dirty Air overlaps with Summer and Monsoon should not be seen as a problem. Why shouldn't you be able to have two simultaneous seasons? I ain't seen nowhere it says you cain't.

Because it sure is Summer, hot as Hades, and twice as dry. And it sure is Dirty Air, The air is so thick with dust and smoke that if you spray a hose into the air, it comes down mud. The city has deployed its fleet of smoke plows to try to keep the streets clear, but as soon as you clear it, more comes in to take its place. And have you ever driven into s smoke-bank? Its hard!. The only way to get around town is to drive with your fog lights on, and keep a sharp lookout. We have been stringing ropes between the buildings at my school so no one gets lost. A couple of kids in Lampang Province tried to cut across their schoolyard, got disorientated in the smoke, lost their way, and wandered about for two days before they were found. They brought in sniffer dogs, but that didn't work. They had dust allergies so bad they had to go on medical leave. Last I heard they were taking a rest cure on the beach down south. No smoke down there. Everyone wears face masks when they go outside. Between the face masks, goggles and the darkness, it is hard to recognize people. This can lead to tragic consequences. A man in Fang shot his girlfriend in front of their house, then told police that he had mistaken her for a burglar. But her friends say he had been trying to get rid of her for weeks. Fortunately with the stinging of his watery eyes, his aim was not so good, and she is expected to make a full recovery. The elephants at Mae Sa Elephant Camp have gone on strike for better working conditions. They are demanding an extra 20 Kilos of sugar cane per elephant, and Jumbo sized nose masks. Have you ever seen an elephant with nasal allergies? It is not a pretty picture. City officials in Chiang Rai have resorted to driving fire trucks around the city spraying water into the air attempting to wash the dust and smoke out of it. It isn't working to good. You'd need God's own Fire Hose to put up enough water to make any difference, I'm thinking.

Dirty Air is pretty bad right now, but we are hoping for some rain next week or two to give us some temporary relief. Where ever you are tonight, remember us here in this the hour of our discontent.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Organic Eggs

Well, I tried some of my organic eggs and they were delicious. They were also very fresh, with a very light yellow yoke, that sat up high and perky when the egg was broken open. That is the sign of a fresh egg. If the yoke is dark or flat, your eggs aren't fresh. Yeah for good eggs!

(Sorry to those of you out there who can't indulge in the pleasure of a good egg).

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Eggs, Eggs, Eggs

I found something new in my local grocery store today. Yes, I found Organic Free Range chicken eggs!



I used to buy free range eggs whenever I could in the states. But, sadly, I had to give that up when I came to Thailand. They just were not available in normal grocery stores, only in specialty stores, and then the supply was sporadic. But now it looks like Top's Market is going to start stocking them. If they taste good and they continue to appear on the shelves, I will continue to buy them, in spite of the added cost.

I buy them for a variety of reasons. I don't fall in with the deluded people who believe that anything with an organic label is necessarily twice as healthy, have three times as much vitamins, and are steeped in natural goodliness. But I do believe that pesticides are bad for you, hormones we absorb in our foods play havoc with our own systems, that adding antibiotics to animal feed is destroying the efficacy of antibiotics and breeding "super resistant" bugs, and that free-range is a more humane way of producing eggs than battery chickens.

Not that there weren't free-range organic chickens in Thailand before this. Thais raised chickens for thousands of years without resorting to fertilized and pesticided chicken feed, added hormones or antibiotics. And of course, in the countryside many people still raise their chickens that way. But during the Green Revolution of the 1970's Thailand, like most other countries bought into industrial farming practices. So if you shop at the grocery stores in the city you haven't had much choice about what kind of eggs you bought.

Even though the factory egg isn't going to go away, it is nice to be able to have the choice. I hope the organic eggs stay around.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

To Coup or not to Coup . . . .

The last couple of months here in Thailand have been rife with coup rumors. Every week comes a new prediction that the army will overthrow the government. Last month a bunch of armored personnel carriers were seen rumbling through a suburb of Bangkok in the middle of the night. The immediate assumption was that the long awaited moment was at hand. The next day the SET (Stock Exchange of Thailand) took a dive and the Army chief assured reporters that the APCs were merely being transported from Southern Thailand to a refurbishing center in Pathom Thani. Of course every time the head of the Army assures people that there will not be a coup confidence in the current government falls even further. However the general did not categorically dismiss the idea of coup at a another time.

Somehow I just don't ever remember the Head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff ever assuring reporters that no coup by the Armed Forces of the United States of America was imminent. Well, maybe my memory isn't that good, or maybe they just do things differently here in Thailand.

So will there be a coup or won't there? My personal money is on there not being a coup in the next six months or so. The last coup did not go as the the military wished. They got rid of a Prime Minister they hated, but certainly not his supporters. Thaksin continues to devil the country from self-imposed exile and his red-shirt partisans continue to rally throughout the country. The country is more divided than ever, and the stock of the military with the public has fallen to its lowest level since the Black May massacre in Bangkok in 1992.

So currently the military does not want to stage a coup, but if it feels its interests are in danger, they will stage a coup. I personally don't believe that will happen unless the current coalition government falls. In that case the Army may indeed stage a coup in order to prevent elections that would probably return the opposition Phua Thai party to power. The government coalition has frequently wobbled, but has proven to be remarkably resilient.

So, stay tune for upcoming developments.

Friday, January 15, 2010


I saw a partial eclipse of the sun today. In this part of Thailand about 79% of the sun's disk was covered (according to the NASA website clickable map). NASA Map

The sky darkened ominously starting about 3:00 PM. By 3:30 the eclipse was as full as it was going to get here. The sky was visibly darkened, although I coulld not see any stars in the sky. Perhaps away from the city, it would have been possible to see some. On the ground it was a little darker than 3:30 should have been, but not so much that most people noticed. In fact, I am entirely certain that most people in CM had no idea there was an eclipse today. It was really cool to look up at the sun and see most of it hidden by the moon. Only a rim on the upper edge of the sun was totally unobstructed. This was the most complete eclipse I have ever seen, and probably will be the most complete I ever do see. I am glad I didn't miss it.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Breaking News

According to, there is a black panther on the loose on Chumpon Province, Thailand. Panther on the loose

Hmmmm. . . I thought that after Eldridge Cleaver died, they went extinct.