Back Home in Bangkok, Part IV

After Part III

December 1-6, 2004

Wednesday, December 1, 2004 (pre-journal)

Pichet and Noi came over for dinner.


Sorry, you last saw them on these pages a little more than two years ago. They came with us to Elephant Polo in Hua Hin ... along with Alex and Nuch.

But, the first time you met them was more than four years ago when we took the overnight train to Surin for the elephant round-up.

Pichet is Watcharee's cousin and Noi is his wife.

Wednesday, December 1, 2004

All of the members of the ICCA (International Correspondence of Corkscrew Addicts) received this sad news today:

Dear Fellow Addicts:

I write this message with heavy heart and much sadness. Our beloved addict, Just-Right Brother Timothy had passed away this morning at 6:00 am at the Provincialate in Napa Valley. He was 94 years old today (I believe this was his birthday). He has had many health problems in the past few years and a recent 23 day stay at the local hospital had not done him much good. I spoke with him only a few days ago and he was his usual gentle self, but sounded very tired.

He was first in many ways:

and many, many other firsts!!

I am flying to San Francisco on Friday evening to be at his funeral on Saturday. If any of you want to come, you are welcome and the particulars follow:

The service will be on Saturday at 10:00 am at the:
St. Appolinaris Church
3700 Lessen Street
Napa, CA

The service will be followed by interment at Mont Lasalle in the cemetery that Brother Tim so lovingly cared for during the past many years. Interment is to be followed by lunch.

I will miss him very much for he was the kindest, gentlest and most selfless man I have ever known. He will be missed by many but we can be sure that he is right beside his Lord and is looking down at us corkscrew addicts and watching and praying for us.

God be with him always!

Joe Paradi

PS from Alf:

I have known Brother Tim since 1977 ... when I first joined the ICCA. As Joe said, he was "the kindest, gentlest and most selfless man I have ever known." Every time he received a Best-Six from a member he would respond with a very personal note. He was a saint. I shall miss him very much.

Thursday, December 2, 2004 (pre-journal)

Brother Timothy, wine industry icon dies
Wednesday, December 1, 2004

Register Staff Writer

Brother Timothy, a beloved man of the cloth recognized for his pioneering efforts in the California wine industry, died at the Christian Brothers Mont La Salle novitiate Tuesday. He was 94.

With more than half a century devoted to the making of Christian Brothers wines, Brother Timothy retired in 1989 when the Brothers of the Christian Schools sold their wine and brandy-making operation to the Heublein Fine Wine Group.

He didn't set out to make wine, let alone become the very image of Napa Valley winemaking for millions of Americans. Yet that's what happened, with Brother Timothy accepting his lead role in American winemaking as one part of God's plan for the religious order here in the United States.

A Mass of Christian Burial is scheduled at 10 a.m. Saturday at St. Apollinaris Catholic Church in Napa.

Born Anthony George Diener in Elizabeth, N.J., in 1910, the familiar wine industry figure with the heartwarming grin began his career as a Brother teaching high school chemistry at a couple of East Bay schools.

At 24, he was asked by the order's hierarchy if he would take the post of wine chemist at Mont La Salle Vineyards.

"I guess it was because I was big and strong and young and all that," Brother Timothy declared with a twinkle of reminiscence in his eyes during an interview with the Register not long after his retirement.

With the approval of his family, he began his new job on July 1, 1935.

In the mid-1930s, production at Mont La Salle Vineyards was no more than 10,000 gallons per year. Inglenook, Beringer, Beaulieu and Krug were the familiar names in the wine business at the time.

With the help of a German immigrant named Alfred Fromm, sales of Christian Brothers wines grew throughout the United States.

Asked shortly after his decision to retire if he grew along with the business, Brother Timothy candidly replied:

"Maybe I didn't grow fast enough or become wise enough. Maybe that's why we're not in the (wine) business anymore.

"Our basic business is education. The wine business was a strange thing for us."

As the brothers take a vow of poverty, all revenues from wine sales, after paying operational costs, went to West Coast educational facilities -- a dozen elementary and secondary schools, including Justin-Siena High School, plus St. Mary's College -- and paid for the operation of a Christian Brothers retreat house and summer camps.

Brother Timothy said if circumstances were exactly the same, he'd gladly opt once again for the career he was offered as the nation worked itself out of the Depression.

"You have to admit there have been a lot of changes in the industry in the past 50 years," Brother Timothy reflected as he settled into caring for a novitiate rose garden and his prized orchid collection. "But I think our basic society has changed even more.

"Technology is much more important today. When I began the equipment wasn't always the best, you know. People struggled. Stainless steel didn't come into the picture until after 1945.

"There were a lot of good wines made before Prohibition though. Most of those winemakers weren't around after Prohibition. It's safe to say that Prohibition wiped out a generation of winemakers.

"Beringer, BV and Christian Brothers made sacramental and medicinal wines during Prohibition, so they did have some continuity. Otherwise, this industry was almost a new thing after Repeal."

Although Brother Timothy's image is the one with which most consumers identified throughout the 1950s and 1960s, he was a modest man who saluted the talents of other Napa Valley figures, like Robert Mondavi the late Andre Tchelistcheff.

Brother Timothy was asked if he ever saw conflict regarding his role as winemaker and as member of a religious order.

"I've always been aware of the danger of abuse of wine," he said at the time. "I've always taken the attitude that everything one does should be in moderation. We should make judicious use of God's creatures and blessings.

"All I can say is that a little wine in moderation seems to have been good for me."

Brother Timothy was also well known for an extensive corkscrew collection. Upon his retirement, the corkscrew collection was donated to the permanent display collection of the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in St. Helena.

A recent celebration

At last year's well-attended Jubilee -- an event celebrating Brother Timothy's 75th anniversary as a Christian Brother -- he was honored as the oldest living brother of the San Francisco district.

"He saw himself as a brother first and foremost, a winemaker second," Brother David Brennan, former head provincial, said of the honoree. "When he took on the job of wine chemist, he became (Christian Brother Winery's) heart and soul. When the winery was sold in 1989 to support educational needs, Brother Tim graciously accepted that decision. He's a master vintner and a friend to all he met along the way."

One of those friends, Robert Mondavi, pointed out "we were fighting the good fight for wine when there weren't too many soldiers around. When he was at Greystone and I was at (Charles) Krug, we were neighbors. Together with Louis Martini, Andre Tchelistcheff and the Solaris, we served as industry pioneers. He was a legend, he was the heart of the industry."

"Not only was he a great winemaker, he always blessed us," added Margrit Biever Mondavi. "How many functions have we gone to where Brother Timothy comforted us with God's blessing. I liked his great sense of humor, integrity, twinkle in his eye and above all the everlasting smile."

Grower Andy Beckstoffer termed Brother Timothy "the sweetest, kindest man in the world. He was one of our leaders for a long, long time -- and a man who never put on airs, who was comfortable in any setting.

"Brother Timothy was an inspiration to all of us. He did business like we should do business."

Summing up Brother Timothy's career at last year's Jubilee celebration, John DeLuca, former Wine Institute CEO, declared: "A glass of wine made by Brother Timothy works more miracles than a church full of saints."

A funeral service

Saturday's mass will begin at 10 a.m. at St. Apollinaris Catholic Church, 3700 Lassen St., Napa. The mass will be followed by burial in the Brothers Cemetery at Mont La Salle. Around noon, a reception for family, friends and brothers will be held at Mont La Salle.

Funeral arrangements are under the direction of Claffey and Rota Funeral Home, Napa.

Thursday, December 2, 2004

Dusk, from our porch.

Friday, December 3, 2004 (pre-journal)

Any guesses? Hint: after the fact.

Friday, December 3, 2004 (post-pre-journal)

Is this any help?

Saturday, December 4, 2004 (pre-journal)

Tomorrow is the King's birthday ... which is also Father's Day.

Also, on the 5th, the Royal Thai Air Force will drop 120 million Origami (folded paper) birds on the three provinces in the deep south that have experienced 'trouble'. Six C-130s, six Nomads, seven BT-67 Pacemakers, four G-41s and two helicopters will each make up to three sorties in the effort to deliver the 'birds'.

Saturday, December 4, 2004

Has The Times (*) turned into something rather like The Sun?

For centuries it was a broadsheet ... [and for many of its years the classifieds appeared on the cover, as a protection for its 'front' page ... keeping the lead articles pristine; safe from the English elements or the abrasions of delivery] ... then (starting about a year ago) it played with both formats: broadsheet and tabloid.

Now it is just a tabloid. That would be fine all around if it were only the length and width of the columns that changed. But ... sigh ... one wonders if the pens along with the printing presses were moved from Fleet Street to the Docklands (**) to Lantana.

But, its cartoons still capture the moment.

And, the letters to the editor have not lost their touch with the minuscule bits of life.

(*) "London", of course; as there is only one "The Times".

(**) Or, was it the Isle of Dogs?

PS: The group that owns the Fox TV network in the USA also owns The Times.

PPS: Since Thais generally celebrate their birthday on the weekday of the week of their birth ... for example Watcharee was born on a Wednesday on March 6th; but since the closest in-week Wednesday in 2005 will fall on March 9th, she will celebrate her birthday on that date ... thus, the King's birthday will be celebrated on Monday; not tomorrow, as THOCBDC reported earlier.

PPPS: Are double gifts in order?

PPPPS: However, Christmas in Thailand always falls on December 25th. And, commercial interests dictate that the local Christmas shopping season should start immediately after Loy Krathong (*). Loy Krathong here is sort of like the same fuse that Americans put a match to on Thanksgiving Day (**) in the mega-malls of the USA.

(*) Which, incidentally, was the neon greeting on the bridge; you know, the puzzle which I posed yesterday.

(**) Gee, I guess Americans hold Thursdays 'sacred'.

PPPPPS ... yes, five Ps: The whole thing about birthdays and birthdates ... (or, the day in the month or what day of the week it falls on) ... is more complicated than I suggested.

Sunday, December 5, 2004 (pre-journal)

Here is a panoramic shot of Sukhumvit Soi 11. Only reader K. from Arizona will know why it is here.

Sunday, December 5, 2004

Perhaps I was a bit hasty in equating The Times (London) with The Sun. I think I shortchanged The Sun. Yes, last night I had a fitful sleep: worrying that I had put THOCBDC's imprimatur on the wrong rag.

So, this evening I picked up a copy of The Sun at my neighborhood newsstand: the Shangri-La Hotel (*) ... just to compare it with the same edition of The Times that I had purchased earlier. Verdict: yes, the Sun just might be a better read in every respect.

And, with just a little work it could approach the quality of The World Weekly News"(**).

To be truthful, its Friday's page 3 girl was better than anything I have seen in the WWN for a long time: she (the page girl) is Ruth (***) from Kent (****).

But, the human interest stories in The Sun need working. The cancer girl who was splashed with acid wants for something in the tabloid picture to really connect with the The Sun's dedicated readers ... (some sly pictures of her younger unblemished sister?). Really, WWN could send tutors to London ... or, the staff at Dog's Leg (or, wherever it is) could fly some of its Brits to Lantana.

(*) According to this outlet, The Sun outsells The Times three to one. But, I have to take the word of the girl at the the cash register; she is pretty, so I do.

(**) The Gold standard!

(***) A name change might boost her career.

(****) I used to live there; so did my kids.

Monday, December 6, 2004 (pre-journal)

Twenty-five days and counting ...

The sun tries to burn through some of the Bangkok smog.

Monday, December 6, 2004

Andy Page from England (a country once conquered [or raped?] by the Vikings) sends Norwegians Fjelstad and Erickson the following (non-Norwegians need not read):

Special attention should be paid to names.

In the old days, Norwegians were identified by their Christian name and their father's name plus the appropriate suffix.

For example, Olav Håkonsen meant that this man was the son of Håkon. (The surname might also be spelled "Håkonsson" or "Håkonsøn.")

And Sigrid Håkonsdatter was the daughter of Håkon. (The surname might also be spelled "Håkonsdotter").

In addition, a third name was often used.

This was usually a farm name.

This "surname" did not necessarily identify a family or a relationship; it signified a place of residence.

If farmer Ole Olsen Li moved from Li to another farm, such as Dal, he would then be known as Ole Olsen Dal.

A farm laborer could be named in the same way, even though he was not related to the farmer.

Sometimes, however, the preposition "på" (meaning "at") was placed between the patronymic and the farm name, indicating that the person in question was employed at that particular farm.

Similarly, a tenant farmer (a cotter or husmann) was often listed in the official registers under the name of the farm to which his little home belonged.

Sometimes the preposition "under" was put in front of the place-name.

In this way, a cotter connected with the farm Lunde might be called Hans Petersen Lunde, or sometimes Lunde-eie (eie = possession), even if his home locally was called something else.

You should realize, therefore, that a surname in addition to the Christian name and the patronymic is not always the same as a modern family name.

Family names in Norway are, in fact, a product of only the last few generations, except among the traditional upper classes (the clergy, military, civil servants, and the wealthy bourgeoisie).

In Norway, the use of fixed family names was not made compulsory by law until 1925.

On arrival in the United States, Norwegian immigrants either already had three names or, in many cases, adopted a third one.

Usually this third name was the name of the farm they had just come from.

Sometimes the immigrants might take the name of another farm where they had once lived.

Many Norwegians dropped the old farm names, however, and adopted patronymics as their surname.

In the United States, Ole Andersen and his son Anders Olsen would in most cases take the same surname, either Anderson or Olson.

On the whole, the immigrants were not very particular about which surnames they adopted.

The most important factor was apparently whether the name could be written and pronounced in English.

In America, names such as Nelson and Johnson were already widely known and much easier to pronounce than most Norwegian farm names.

Even if the original farm name was retained as a surname, it was often altered and modified so much under the influence of the new language that it is now unrecognizable.

Christian names were also sometimes changed. The first names and patronymics of immigrants were often spelled out phonetically by the immigration officer or the census taker in the United States.

For example, Håkonsen might become Hawkinson.

Or sometimes English equivalents might be given.

For instance, Gulbrand might be changed to Gilbert, Guri to Julia, and so on. Speaking of names, your search might benefit from a unique Norwegian custom.

In Norway, especially in the rural districts, there have long been very strict rules about naming descendants.

Some of these rules persist even today. It was customary, for example, for the eldest son to be named after his paternal grandfather and the second son after his maternal grandfather. In a similar fashion, the eldest and second daughters were named after the respective grandmothers. After the grandparents' names had been used, the great-grandparents' names were the next to be given, although without strict rules as to the order. Special circumstances might interfere with these rules. For example, the name of a deceased spouse was to be used first; and the name of the father or mother was given if the child was baptized after a parent's death. According to a Norwegian proverb: "The name and the farm must go together." This meant that a child who was intended to be the owner of the farm upon reaching maturity should be given the name of a previous owner, whether a relative or not.

PS: Old fashioned ice:

PPS: Pro-Norwegian political lobbies had a big influence in Nepal in the mid-90's. The Screwy Tuskers, among others from Norway, were gross beneficiaries of these perks. The pro-Mao movement in Nepal probably started because of this blatant favoritism toward the neo-Vikings.

Next: Part V

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