August 1-6, 2003
Snapshots of players #2 and #3 of the Screwless Tuskers Elephant Polo Team have been found in Golf's wallet.
Dear reader, pause with me while I attend to some neighborhood updating. I know that you'd rather my camera be poking itself around Patpong, but I need to first focus on my backyard before I wander downtown.
OK? No? Tough!
Construction on the Sky Train extension has proceeded at a fairly rapid pace while we were gone. As you can see, most of the heavy concrete work is complete. It now appears that the work on the track itself is about to begin. By the end of the year the far side of the Chao Phraya River should have its rail link with my side of Bangkok filled with rolling stock.
Also, the Garden Wing of The Oriental has been completely gutted in preparation for a total refitting of all the guest rooms. The only thing still functioning in the building is Le Normandie Restaurant, which is on the top floor. Hoary readers will surely recall when a similar disembowelment was carried out on the River Wing; those were the days and nights of ALIMAK ... or was it ALIMAX ... anyway, it was something like that.
PS: Watcharee, Pom and Golf are making dinner tonight.
PPS: We had a beautiful sunset in our neighborhood tonight.
PPPS: Andy Page of the UK's Inland Revenue sent THOCBDC this X-Ray of a very famous head. Can you identify it? [clue: look to the lip area]
Let Andy tell you:
This 'ink blot' thing was discovered in the Public Records Office at Kew in 1995. For more than a half century it had slept unrecognized under a piece of glass...[but above a soft lime-green faux-felt blotter] ... on the desk of a mid level functionary at the Kew office of Inland Revenue.
It is an x-ray taken of Herr Adolph Hitler, the well known Nazi Furrier, in fall 1944 after the failed July 1944 Bomb Plot! How it made its way from Germany to Kew is anyone's guess.
An anonymous source ripped this page from a book entitled "100 Things You Never Knew About Your Corkscrew." It was mailed to reader Bull (currently retired in one of America's 'Bible Belt' states). He passed it on to THOCBDC in the hope that it could be published abroad ... far from the arms of the recently created cabinet-level Office of Homeland Security and Christian Morality Enforcement.
Life can't get much better: a Bangkok sun setting on the far side of The Peninsula Hotel while Pom and Golf are in the kitchen preparing steamed mussels. Follow that with a massage at 'white shirts' ... and ... do I really ever want to go back to Florida for anything?
PS: Reader Bull's anonymous source for that ripped page from the book "What Your Corkscrew Is Up To When You Are Sleeping" has actually found the corkscrew that performed the illustrated 'baby-pop'. Crudely advertised as a c**tscrew, it is also able to remove corks.
PPS: Earlier today I sent an e-mail to a group of corkscrew collectors, one of whom is Dutch. Presumably my friend from Holland was out of town but his e-mail service apparently was set up to respond with an automatic (machine) answer. It said:
"Ik ben tot 8 augustus op vakantie. Een e-mail bericht kan ik derhalve pas hierna beantwoorden."
So, I turned to the Internet for a little help from one of the online auto-translating services. I got this:
"I am up to 8 augusts on holiday. A e-mail reported am possible I therefore just hereafter to answer."
A quiet day ... a leisurely read of the papers:
Being Sunday I started with Bizarro, one of my favorites in the funny pages. I wonder if its creator did any of his drinking in Bangkok ... the place in today's clip looks surprisingly like a dump on the other side of the river called "Cream." Not a tourist hangout, as you can imagine.
Saturday's International Herald Tribune (IHT) apparently has expanded its "Friendship" classifieds. Once the almost exclusive domain of Gabriele Thiers-Bense and Edith Brigitta Fahrenkrog ... well, now their marital offerings have to compete with Madame Desachy's "Unions Elitistes Internationales," "Wendy's, The Perfect Partner" and "Scandinavian World Introduction." Though today Gabriel is tooting the horn for an "... aristocratic elite industrialist whose unique & magnificent imperium is as rare as he is ..." the others are keeping their players away from the ink.
But tucked tightly between these IHT banner ads there is always one or two who attempt to wing it without any words from the pros:
"GORGEOUS MODEL 28 CLASSY BLACK FEMALE Well Traveled Looking For Affluent Generous Kind Man For A Fun Filled Rewarding Relationship 212-252-5548"
Turning to The Bangkok Post (Entertainment), walk-in business is encouraged ... no need to book.
Today is the 1200th day that THOCBDC has 'blogged' without so much as even a one day interruption.
I pretty much owe all of this1 to my friend Paul. He is a pioneer webmaster; back in 1996 (a truly pre-Cambrian era in Internet life) Paul was experimenting in web design while most of us were happy with 2400 baud e-mails and monochrome screens. At that time there were comparatively few private web sites around and Paul volunteered to create a site for my corkscrew-balloon flaunts. I said, "Sure!", thinking that a few pages and pictures now and then would be my limit.
Anyway, we went 'on the air' on February 29th, 1996.2 For the first two months we had no idea how much traffic we were getting until we got the 'lump sum' month-end totals. But starting with May 1st3 our Internet host offered a little program that counted things for us on an hourly and daily basis:
I don't know how many pages or pictures we have in storage; maybe Paul can footnote it for you4 ... but I am pretty sure that number is about 20,000 files. I'm not even sure how many guest contributors we've had in these rooms; quite a few, and some of them have made multiple appearances. Denise (of CB3 modeling fame) was the first; Paul was probably the most recent....and there were many in between.
The "Wayback Machine" is an Internet archive that has attempted to capture some of the Internet past. Its earliest 'flash freeze' of the greeting page of THOCBDC took place on November 1, 1996. It's at:
Since 1996 the Wayback Machine has 'frozen', in each subsequent year, anywhere from 3 to 11 'slices' of life at THOCBDC:
On February 29, 2004 THOCBDC will have been in business for 8 years (2, if you only count leap years).
1 "This" meaning THOCBDC; a vowel starved acronym for The House Of Corkscrew Balloon Dot Com.
2 2,713 days ago.
3 Go back 2,651 days.
4 Paul: "Over 5,000 pages and over 18,000 photos!"
PS: These four photographs taken from our porch with my NIKON Coolpix 5700 represent:
One never knows who's lurking around this place.
Today I received a voice from the past: but only the old timers at THOCBDC will remember Ara Tripp. Paul met her ... Linda met her ... Annie was terribly inconvenienced by her ... [well, to be fair, Ara inconvenienced all the rush hour traffic in Seattle].
You mean about the rush hour traffic?
"Yes, yes, get to the point."
Several years ago Ara Tripp made headlines by climbing Seattle's highest high-voltage pylon ... you know, one of those things that helps ferry enormous amounts of electricity from the coal mines to everyone's light bulbs .... anyway, she did this 'topless'. And, get this: she did it while blowing fire from her mouth (easy, and tasty, with a swig of vodka and a match).
"Tell us more."
OK, but for starters here is the e-mail that I got today. It won't make much sense to most of you until you start piecing things together: the history behind Ara and what's going to happen at Hua Hin in September.
"Start with the e-mail."
Subj: Ara Tripp Date: 8/5/2003 8:31:55 AM SE Asia Standard Time From: firstname.lastname@example.org To: Corkscrew@aol.com I can say "elephant" in one different language. No fool'n Pease Ara
Now it is up to Paul to give you some links.
In the Fall of 1999, THOCBDC was in the midst of its search for a "Substitute Screwmaid." Corkscrew Balloon III was scheduled to debut at Chateau d'Oex in January 2000 (just four months away), and one of its original naked models for the balloon's artwork -- the lovely Denise -- found herself otherwise committed and unable to undertake the journey. A worldwide search was therefore underway for an appropriate replacement who might "fill in" for her.
With this urgent need firmly in mind, my ears pricked up one morning upon hearing the Seattle traffic report on my local NPR station: A topless woman was perched atop an electric power tower adjacent to a bridge on Interstate 5, the primary entrance to the city from the north ... and she was spitting fire out of her mouth. (Coincidentally, this was all occurring just a few blocks from Annie Erickson's house.)
Of course, this was way up there on the "something you don't see every day" scale, and so drivers on the freeway slowed down with an urgency just about equal to what would occur if their spark plug cables had suddenly been yanked out of their sockets.
Considering our current Substitute Screwmaid needs, this girl sounded heaven sent: In our twisted minds, her actions seemed to be a veritable audition for the Screwmaid role! I immediately alerted Alf to the potential ... and that was when we became involved with Ara's story.
The story of October 10, when Alf, Linda and I had dinner with Ara and went to the base of her pylon, has never been fully told. Alf and Linda were on their way to the Orient, stopping off for just a day in Seattle, and there was only time in the day's journal for a brief note and a couple of photos. This is a shame, because we spent a wonderful evening with Ara, who is a delightful and hilarious person.
You think you've been through some interesting experiences and changes in your life? Ha! Come back after you've talked with Ara!
Through a variety of circumstances, a different "Substitute Screwmaid" wound up making the trip to Chateau d'Oex in January. We found a candidate who, among other attributes, was actually named "Denise"; that carried a lot of weight. But we have certainly never forgotten the charming Ara Tripp, and we have missed her.
We are very pleased to have heard from Ara again!
P.S. I didn't notice it at all when we were standing at the base of the pylon, and you can barely make it out in the photos even now. But if you look closely, you can see the word "SCROTUM" carved into the metal between Linda and Ara. Perhaps this pylon has even more tales to tell.
Can this be our very own Ara Tripp?
Designer/builder Ara Tripp and banty Little Richard take a break in a coop-gazebo that would fit in as well on a Martha's Vineyard bluff as it does in a Seattle garden. The finishing touch, when Tripp gets out her welding torch, will be a rooster weathervane.
It is her! Yes, our very own Ara Tripp. Here she is at the International UFO Congress:
Ara Tripp, flame blowing on the Balcony of the Seattle Metaphysical Library.
Although not topless, she again stopped traffic (including a Metro bus among others) and made the nightly news with this demonstration.
Also known as Mrs. Gash in Hell Hole High.
Ara Tripp (MRS. GASH) Her commitment to a woman's right to be topless in public led her to perform a now famous 1999 act of civil disobedience. After climbing a high-voltage electrical tower adjacent to busy Interstate 5, Ara "doffed her top and began gyrating and snapping her fingers, occasionally taking a swig from a bottle of vodka, then spitting out the liquor and lighting it on fire." She has since appeared on Howard Stern and the Daily Show. Her side-career as a Chicken Coop Architect was featured in Pacific Coast Magazine.
Joe McLaughlin (GREGORY) and Ara Tripp (MRS. GASH)
PS: Our good friends, Stephani and Robin Weaver, celebrated their 31st wedding anniversary here in Bangkok.
My Bangok minders have warned me about 'weekending-it' in Laos:
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Office of the Spokesman
August 5, 2003
This Public Announcement is being issued to update Americans to increased security concerns in Laos. This Public Announcement expires on February 5, 2004.
At least three bomb attacks over the past several weeks targeting buses and bus stations in Vientiane and southern Laos have resulted in death and injury to passengers. We have also received reports of small-scale attacks by anti-government groups in isolated areas along the Lao-Thai border.
The Department of State cautions U.S. citizens that there have been renewed attacks on all forms of transportation in Laos, especially along Route 13, the main road from Vang Vieng to Luang Phrabang. In light of these attacks in the Vang Vieng-Kasi area, we recommend that American citizens avoid travel by road between Vang Vieng and Luang Phrabang. We also recommend that travelers avoid travel or activities in the surrounding areas of Vang Vieng.
U.S. citizens residing in or traveling to Laos are encouraged to register at the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Vientiane and enroll in the warden system (emergency alert network) to obtain updated information on travel and security in Laos. The U.S. Embassy in Vientiane, Laos, is located at Ban That Dam, Rue Bartholonie. The U.S. mailing address is Box V, APO AP 96546. The Embassy telephone number is -(21)-212-581, fax -(21)-251-624, E-mail: email@example.com.
For further information on travel to Laos, U.S. citizens should also consult the Department of State's Consular Information Sheet for Laos and the Worldwide Caution, which are located at http://travel.state.gov. American citizens may also contact the Department of State toll-free at 1-888-407-4747, or, if calling from overseas, 317-472-2328, for information.
U.S. Embassy Bangkok American Citizen Services Unit:
Window Hours: Monday - Friday, 8 - 11 AM and 1 - 3 PM
U.S. Embassy Bangkok website: http://usa.or.th
This afternoon I took Stephani and Robin for a boat ride up the Chao Phraya River and into some of its offshoot klongs.
We were treated with a rare site: one of the Royal Barges being readied for Mother's Day (the Queen's birthday ... August 12th). It was being partially towed/rowed from the Royal Barge Museum to ... well, somewhere ... probably the Thai naval station on the river.
PS: Tonight I took Stephani and Robin to see the traditional dance show at the Sala Rim Naam at The Oriental Hotel.
Next: Part III