Autumn in Bangkok

Following Early September

September 11-16, 2002

September 11 to September 13 (2002 and 1992)

Judy on the Maid of the Mist

For the next few days please travel back in time ... exactly 10 years ... when we were all a decade younger ... and probably a decade less cynical. Though this is primarily about a small group of people who called themselves Lawsigers or BarRoomers, it's also about a more innocent time when we all had more fun. And, when we shared it more easily.

Paul has done a wonderful job in capturing those times.

Friday, September 13, 2002

I woke up this morning to find this in my mail box. It's just a little warning from our embassy over on Wireless Road reminding us ex-pats that living far away from the protective Office of Homeland Security can be very dangerous ... and that we should be constantly on the lookout for people who do not have our best interests at heart.

The recent anniversary of the tragic events of 9/11 serves as a grim reminder that terrorists can strike anywhere, and at anytime. Although there is no specific threat involving U.S. interests in Thailand, it is important that you remain vigilant and alert, and report all suspicious activity to the Royal Thai Police immediately.

The following are recommended precautions that will greatly enhance your own personal safety as well as the security of the American community in general. Please share this information with your families.

  1. BE ALERT! Every organized terrorist attack begins with surveillance of the intended target. This is the best time to discourage or prevent the actual attack.
    1. Report any unusual person(s) loitering and/or taking notes, photographs or video around Embassy facilities, your workplace, or your home. Try to gather as much information about these individuals and the incident as possible: height, weight, hair color, eye color, age, clothing, visible scars or other identifying characteristics, nationality, time of day, location of suspected person(s) and a general description of their activity. NEVER attempt to confront a suspicious person.
    2. Suspicious vehicles, whether or not occupied, should also be reported immediately. Attempt to gather as much information as possible including location of the vehicle, make, model, year, license plate number, color, and a general description of the occupants, if any.
    3. Report any packages, briefcases, or similar items left abandoned near Embassy facilities, your workplace, or your home. NEVER attempt to disturb any suspicious package.
    4. Do not accept unexpected packages from strangers, regardless of who they claim to be or whom the package is allegedly for. Automatically be suspicious of any unexpected package received in the mail or by messenger. Be especially alert for packages that have: no return address, excessive postage, restrictive markings such as "personal" or "confidential," strange odors, greasy stains, protruding wires or foil, and poorly handwritten addresses. NEVER open a package or letter you think might contain a bomb.
  2. BE PROACTIVE! One of the best ways to avoid a terrorist attack is making likely targets appear difficult or impossible to attack. This approach not only applies to facilities, but also to individuals. Research indicates that criminals and terrorists would much rather attack someone who appears to be oblivious to their surroundings and generally inattentive than a person who is alert and constantly aware of the environment. Make yourself a "hard target."
    1. Wherever you are traveling, it is always a good idea to check your vehicle prior to driving it. Walk around your car before you start the engine and look for anything unusual that may be on or near your vehicle. Anything discovered that was not there when you parked should be considered suspicious. Examples of such items may include forgotten tools, wire clippings, tape fragments, greasy fingerprints on the hood or trunk, or tool marks. NEVER start your vehicle, or even get inside, if you discover anything suspicious.
    2. Whether you are walking or driving, avoid using the same route every day to places you normally go. If at all possible, try to vary arrival and departure times by at least one hour. Be especially cautious when on roads or in locations you have no choice but to be in. These are the places an attack is most likely to occur.
    3. Do not advertise your U.S. citizenship or your affiliation with U.S. organizations. Think twice about wearing clothing displaying obviously "American" logos, such as U.S. Embassy or U.S. military insignia.
  3. Please remember, terrorists can strike at anytime, anywhere, and when you least expect it. Do not assume that because you are in Bangkok, far from countries normally associated with terrorist activity, that you are not a target. The Royal Thai Police are available twenty-four hours per day, seven days per week, and can be contacted either through your local police station or through the Tourist Police at 1155. Report all suspicious persons, cars, and incidents immediately to the Police. If you have a concern or question about security which is not being addressed by the Royal Thai Police, please contact the Embassy's American Citizen Services Unit at 02-205-4049.

Saturday, September 14, 2002

"As the Book of Maccabees said: 'Yea, as the flea is like unto an oxen so is a privet hedge like unto a botanist: black in thy sight, Oh Lord!'" - M. Python, 1974

For the past three days we (at least a handful-and-a-half of us) have gone back in time: ten years to be exact ... and, yes, we did it almost to the day. Paul's wonderfully detailed reminiscences started us off at the Buffalo Airport and they waved goodbye to us from that same airport. Anyway, we gathered ... and some of us first met ... at that airport bar. And, more likely than not that airport bar 'tingle' was not our first 'belt' of the day for most of us. Whether we flew in from Colorado or Washington or Florida, I have no doubt that prefatory restoratives or anticipatory relaxers were well in hand as our Boeings approached Buffalo.

But, I wonder, had our Buff'Fest been held three days ago instead of a decade ago would this news article have been about us:

This morning's International Herald Tribune (International Traveler UPDATE section) carried this AP story:

"A National Airlines flight to New York from Las Vegas was diverted to Philadelphia under escort after a passenger stood up in the last 30 minutes to use the bathroom, violating security rules."

PS The Internet knows no bounds! It even offers a calculator ... called the "JUMPERSPEED CALCULATOR" ... that allows you to determine at what speed a jumper would hit the pavement if he/she jumped from one of the Twin Towers ... yes, anywhere from the first floor (not 'ground' floor) the whole way up to the 110th floor. The calculator, gratuitously, also provides the time that it would take to make the journey.

From the 110th floor the answer is:

"After 9.11 secs you'd hit the pavement with a speed of 201.06 miles per hour."

A jump from the 55th floor yields:

"After 6.44 secs you'd hit the pavement with a speed of 142.17 miles per hour."

Throwing yourself out the window of the first floor looks survivable but painful:

"After 0.87 secs you'd hit the pavement with a speed of 19.17 miles per hour."

Sunday, September 15, 2002 (Respect for the Aged Day in Japan - Battle of Britain Day in Great Britain)

Again, it's almost time for Elephant Polo!

E-Polo Pre-GamesThis morning's Bangkok Post 'front-paged' a photograph of some reporters and actors giving the sport sort of a 'pre-go' at Hua Hin.

On Tuesday Watcharee and I, one of her cousins (not the one who made Arabic headlines) and a few friends will drive to Hua Hin for the 2nd King's Cup competition. This year we'll be just spectators.1 The event will last from the 17th until the 23rd. THOCBDC will, of course, bring you selected coverage of the activities.


Yikes! Is my new office getting just as messy as the one I left behind?

The Bangkok Post also carries, on Sundays, Wit of the World.

1 Some of you are probably wondering what happened to the Screwless Tuskers: the much 'researched' ladyboy team that we sort of promised you earlier in these pages. I have to sidestep the answer to that. But, for 2003 we are toying with the idea of a Screwing Tuskers team ... to be recruited exclusively from the ranks of hard-core workers.

PS to today's journal: This message was received from reader Mr. M.L., from Istanbul, Turkey. Apparently, it is in response to our earlier mention of the JUMPING BODY CALCULATOR (or, whatever it is called).


You boys really do have too much time on your hands.

I think the formula for the speed of a falling mass in earth's gravity is 32 feet per second per second. I don't know how to calculate the increase in drag with speed through air, but I know it's exponential, not linear.

Hello to you both from Istanbul!


Monday, September 16, 2002


This morning a big box arrived from Holland. It was a gift from Ferd Peters, the organizer of this year's ICCA AGM.

Even though I missed going to the AGM, Ferd was kind enough to send me an assortment of souvenirs from the meeting: chief of which were copies of three of his excellent books on mechanical and German corkscrews. Thank you, Ferd.

Tomorrow we are going to Hua Hin for Elephant Polo.

1 Coldest day someplace in Germany ... water froze at a number with a decimal ... water boiled at an un-round figure ... 4/5ths times 9 divided by 32, or 4 divided by 5 times 32, or 9/32nds times 4.5 ... something like this just tried to spread it all out between 0 and 100. It's all very vague in my mind how we got it and where we go with it. All I know for sure is that 10C is equal to 50F. Doubling the C and adding 30 gives you the F ... but it's only 100% right with 10C and 50F. Going the other way you subtract 30 and cut what's left in half ... again, only perfect with 50F and 10C. But unless you are cooking steel or freezing sperm it's handy to work with. At least it's handy enough for deciding whether or not to wear a coat.

Next: Hua Hin

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