February in Florida, Part II

After Part I

February 21-28, 2005

Monday, February 21, 2005 (President's Day)

Reader 'Nikki' Thomason from the California wine country writes:

Dear Mr. Erickson,

I was curious as to what the Thomason coat of arms looked like; one of the links that came up in my Internet search led me to your corkscrew website!

I am wondering if you are still in possession of the corkscrew below. If you are, would be so kind as to describe the coat of arms to me?

'The second corkscrew is what Watney describes as "a fancy version of Thomason's 1802 patent." The driving handle is of the same shape as the normal Thomason variant corkscrew. But, this variant of the patent has an extra extraction handle shaped as a serpent. The dusting brush is held in the serpent's mouth. The machine sports the Thomason coat of arms. The overall length is 7.25 inches (18.5cm).'

Respectfully yours,
Miss C.A. "Nikki" Thomason
Sonoma County, California

Post Script By the way, I took my first balloon ride in New Zealand in 2003. I didn't want to come back down to earth!

Nikki, here are some better pictures of the Thomason 'crest'. These are attached to the relatively rare "Ne Plus Ultra" version of his corkscrew.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

This little item is stamped "The 'MORABB'". It was made in England and it carries the patent number 177053/22. Any ideas?

Reader M.K. from Delhi, India suggests that it is an ear wax remover. L.B. from Milan, Italy wonders if it might be an early mechanical nasal hair grooming device. My guess is that it is a tobacco pipe reamer.

This reader suggests:

Kind Sir,

First let me say that I have been enjoying your blog for years. In a bizarre way, that I don't fully understand, reading your blog is what led to my first trip to Bangkok 4 years ago.

My guess is that the MORABB is used for trepening(sp). The weird English ritual of drilling holes in the skull to relieve pressure on the brain.

I know you prefer the Oriental, I stay a bit further up the river at the Royal Orchid. I've attached a nice photo of the CAT Building.

Cheers Mate,

John Z.

Reader Bull adds:


It is a combination pacifier (with cover on) and tongue scraper (with cover off).

MORABB = Minor Oral Rubbing Aids Baby's Breath


PS: Fucking yikes!

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Top health officials have new concerns about a potentially devastating flu strain in Asia.

"Avian influenza in Asia poses a very significant public health threat. The disease is prevalent in several countries, it has never been so widespread at any time during the last century," says Dr. Klaus Stohr of the Global Influenza Program at the World Health Organization.

Officials at the WHO, which works first-hand with victims in Asia, say the so-called bird flu was identified in 10 countries last year, and is now present in four: Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Indonesia.

The WHO says more than 50 people have been infected; more than 40 have died.

Thousands more have been exposed to this strain. And while Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Dr. Julie Gerberding agrees we're not on the brink of a flu pandemic, she says "We are however, very concerned about avian flu in Asia. There are more pigs, people and poultry in that environment than we've ever seen before. That is the formula for the emergence of new flu strains."

CDC officials say this is an airborne disease like other flu strains. In Asia, farmers and others have contracted it from animals' nose and throat secretions.

Experts are worried that avian influenza could evolve genetically.

"It's what's in it, namely that this virus can change, can mutate, and then acquire the capacity for rapid, sustained, permanent human-to-human transmission without the animal reservoir. That virus would travel around the world in less than six to eight months," says Dr. Stohr of the WHO.

That's due to more widespread air travel.

Most humans who've gotten this flu have died from it and at the moment, there is no vaccine.

One expert says the threat is not so urgent.

"I have to say that I think it's too soon to panic. I think that avian flu has been with us for a long time, very recently we've noticed that it can jump occasionally from birds to people and even more rarely, from one person to another, but so far there's no evidence of an epidemic," says Dr. Daniel Blumenthal of the Morehouse School of Medicine.

Officials at the CDC and WHO say they're sending teams of experts all over Asia to research this strain, and ordering clinical trials for vaccines.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

A hint of what will follow:

Thursday, February 24, 2005

A lot of people who looked at yesterday's journal understandably assumed that we were in Pyongyang, D.P.R.K. (North Korea).

We were there; but it was 10 years ago!

Photo Girl Annie
Our first visit to the 'Hermit Kingdom' was about a dozen years ago, when Kim Il Sung was still alive. Our next visit to North Korea was in the early spring of 1995. By then Kim Il Sung had died and he had been replaced on the 'throne' by his son, Kim Jung Il.

The Pyongyang International Sports and Cultural Festival for Peace was the son's attempt to kick-start his country onto the international stage. And what a strange stage it was! Joining hands with the WWF (World Wrestling Federation) ... yes, those folks who bring you wrestling at its worst ... Kim Jung Il managed to bring to Pyongyang all of the 'stars' of the fake mat. To make this event even more bizarre Muhammad Ali (aka, C. Clay) was enticed into being the über-moderator of this weird spectacle. As you probably know, by '95 Ali was pretty well washed up as a boxer; in fact his brains had been bumped so many times in his own ring that he probably didn't even know what was going on in this ring which he oversaw.

The pictures that you'll see on this nostalgic trip were all taken by my daughter, Annie. She has her own web site at www.anniephotos.com. Though she has many of her North Korean photos there, most of the ones that you'll see today and tomorrow ... and maybe the day after ... have never before been 'published'. I must apologize for the quality of my presentation as it is but photos of a photo album.

I'll start with some shots of the wrestling matches. After that ... well ... let's see where we go.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Heroes (*) of the Hermit Kingdom:

(*) Can you find the big Kim? The dead one.

PS: Kevin (the former owner of a world famous soi Cowboy bar in Bangkok) found this piece about a near-Nana traffic birth in a recent issue of the National Enquirer. The location is very near a THOCBDC 'investment'.

PPS: Reader John has added some more pictures from his last trip to Bangkok. Can you recognize anything from THOCBDC?

Saturday, February 26, 2005

These 'real' people in the Hermit Kingdom were 'actors' or 'police'. But, the real real people were always kept far out of reach.

PS: This is a view from the North Korean side of the DMZ at Panmunjom ... looking over at the American/South Korean position.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Gotta eat and run ... it's Oscar night.

Monday, February 28, 2005

"Fight Club" (*) (**) right here in Fort Lauderdale:

(*) THOCBDC's archives has some good smoking pictures to go along with this.

(**) The movie's main characters are:

Edward Norton .... Narrator1
Brad Pitt .... Tyler Durden
Helena Bonham Carter .... Marla Singer

1 But, only people who saw the movie will know why the movie web page lists Edward Norton's 'character' as "Narrator".

Next: March

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