October in Bangkok

After Florida

October 21-31, 2005

Friday and Saturday, October 21 and 22, 2005

Orlando Bloom? I would not have known the name or the face from that of the Man on the Moon.

But Watcharee recognized him as soon as he slipped into his seat in our First Class compartment on the MIA - LHR leg of our back home journey to BKK. Forcing into my hand the latest issue of Teen People, Watcharee shoved me toward him with the demand: "Get his autograph and make sure he spells my name right." I meekly complied.

The ten hour layover at LHR's old Concorde Lounge was peaceful. As was the 12 hour flight to Bangkok.

But after thirty five hours in transit I was devastated when I tried to boot up my computer at River Garden and it wouldn't ... "There is a system error in Windows file 2" or some such nonsense.

But this is Bangkok ... one telephone call brought my Thai Windows wizard to my door within 90 minutes. He had everything up in running within two hours. Total charge for this Saturday night visit: ~$20.

Bangkok rules (or is it "rocks"?) in my book.

Now for some Issan (*) food! And a deep sleep.

(*) Northeast Thailand ... the home of the spiciest Thai food.

Sunday, October 23, 2005 (First Full Day Home)

The Oriental's new Fitness Centre is now open; it was the first place in Bangkok that I visited after getting off the plane. Unfortunately, the actual ribbon cutting for this totally new facility took place while we were doing time back in Florida.

As you can see, all of the state-of-the-sport endurance machines look out onto a row of wrist thin bamboo trees ... and should any of their drivers tire of staring at their individual television screens they only have to 'unavert' their eyes and look straight ahead (*).

The locker room looks like a spa; the foyer like a 5 star lobby ... and the receptionist is just plain pretty and sexy (**).

Watcharee and I went to bed last night at 11 pm; we got up this morning at 2 am ... this might explain my incoherent wandering about the present and past tenses of the Oriental's Fitness Centre (see my obsession with asterisk footnotes and P. Scripts).

(*) The only other choice of views, given what the planners had to work with, was (1) a parking lot or (2) a plaster wall. IMHO bamboo was a good choice.

(**) Do you remember her?

PS: Here are the architect's old drawings of what my camera saw today:

PPS: This is how the place looked more than five years ago.

PPPS: Check out two of the Fitness Centre's loveliests from the year '02 ... (do you remember Ning? Sure you do, just think PCC) ... anyway she's seen here in this vintage gym photo:

PPPPS: Do you want to see the crew that operated the place in 2003?

Monday, October 24, 2005

The Athenee Residence is now decidedly above ground. Almost 9 months was spent on the all important out of sight sub-terrain work. But, there is still about another two years of work to complete before we can move in to 26D.

PS: And, the next few hours will decide whether we still even have a home in Florida to go to. Only that Wilma bitch knows what lies ahead.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Totally useless fact: 1 yottameter = 999,999,999,999,999,872,928,056,600,328,816,056,112 femtometers.

Our SL 55 AMG in Florida ... (assuming the car is still above water) ... gets about 10 miles to the gallon around town. And note well, dear reader, that street traffic in Fort Lauderdale is not very congested even during the rushiest of rush hours. Our SLK 200 here in Bangkok uses about 10 liters per 100 kilometers of city driving ... if you can call an average of 8 kilometers per hour 'driving'!

OK, so how do you convert MPGs (apples) to LPKs (oranges) and vice versa? Easy ... just GOOGLE "metric conversion". It seems that my little 4 cylinder Mercedes gets 23.52 miles per gallon while inching ('centimetering'?) it's way along BKK's twisting sois. Its big brother in the US quaffs 23.52 liters of gas every 62 miles.

Which brings me back to my useless fact. For sure, yottameters must be terribly big and femtometers have got to be awfully tiny. But, what I find puzzling is that long string of 9s that eventually tails off into what looks like several conjoined social security numbers. Isn't metric supposed to be just about 1s and 0s when it is inbreeding?

Enough text! Let's go to pictures. Three new objects are growing on our southern horizon. Am I really interested in them or am I just showing off the power of my zoom lens?

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Reader Andy Page was as concerned as I was about yesterday's long string of 9s, so he consulted an expert on distances. The expert replied:

The writer is right to be puzzled, as the "fact" is plainly wrong.

yottametre is 10 24 metres; 1 femtometre is 10 -15 metre.

So 1 yottametre is EXACTLY 10 39 femtometres (you'll notice that the wrong answer has 39 places in it).

I suspect some bozo has used a calculator to get his result and then published the calculator result although it had run out of digits.

Alf again: Does that mean the answer should be a 1 followed by 39 zeros? So we would wind up with a 40 digit number? If so, yesterday's on-line calculator is off by the difference between the 'social security tail' and an equal number of zeros preceded by one number 1. (*)

(*) The math being:

= You do the subtraction.

PS: Wikiverse says:

Femtometre (American spelling: femtometer) is an SI measure of length that is equal to 10-15 (femto) of a metre. Its symbol is fm and is commonly used in measuring the diameter of atomic nuclei. The diameter of an atomic nucleus is up to about 15 fm. Neutrons and protons are about 2.5 fm in diameter. In the parlance of particle physicists, a femtometre is often called a fermi (same symbol), after the physicist Enrico Fermi.

A yottametre (American spelling: yottameter) (symbol: Ym) is a unit of length equal to 1024 metres.

Yottametres could be used for measuring intergalactic distances, but astronomers have been long accustomed to use light-years and parsecs instead.

PPS: It's Indian take-out food for tonight.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

I finally have a decent wireless network that services our whole apartment; and its 'radar' extends out to the pool area. Hey, maybe I can even use my laptop while sitting in my topless car when it's resting in our dimly lit grimy garage (*).

Wireless Network

Tonight's dinner is a take-out from MK Suki. OK, our table display is not as elegant as the in-house presentation ... readers who want to see the professional meal offering are invited to visit two of our past dining outs.

Take-Out Suki

(*) Reader A. bin Abacas of Damascus, Syria writes: "Alf, is this the same garage that you once described as the only place in Bangkok where it would be sensible to roll back the hardtop of your SLK 200? You know, what with the blinding midday sun and monoxide air of downtown BKK waiting to grab you when you leave River Garden? And can you show us again a photo of the SLK sitting in its 5A garage space with its top down?"

Sure ... Paul, can you do an in-house GOOGLE to please our man from Damascus?

Friday, October 28, 2005

I received this ominous (*) email yesterday:

Your Halloween package might be late. I thought you would still be in FL. Open carefully.


For those of you who only remember Sandra from our Swiss balloon trip, you will be pleased to see her again after all these years. She has grown even more beautiful with the passing of time. I just pray to God that the clock has allowed her to shed her talent for inflicting mental anguish [reread those footnotes, dear reader!].

Now for something entirely different: Today I had my car washed at my favorite BKK car wash.

(*) Sandra is known for her tricks ... usually she reserves them for April Fool's Day1; but, I am worried about this Halloween package.

1 A half dozen Fools Days ago she posted hand lettered signs all over town that read that I was interviewing girls for a Playboy Magazine spread. On another April First she left a message on my answering machine that purported to be from the local vice squad (what I was supposed to have done I leave to your imagination). Yet another time, when we were about to have an innocent lunch, she arranged to have her irate husband appear with a gun.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

A couple of days ago THOCBDC 'journaled' its visit to The Oriental's new Fitness Centre; the one that's located on the west side of the Chao Phraya river.

Simultaneous with the construction effort that turned that once dated gym into a 5 star work-out spot another builder's crew was very busy revamping the Verandah Terrace on the river's east side. We visit it today.

More photos ...

And, at about the same time all this was going on The Oriental bought a new boat to shuttle guests both east and west.

After my obligatory weekend visit to my favorite car wash (*) I drove over to the Fitness Centre to see some old friends. You know most of them by now. The guy on the far right is new ... I don't know him either.

(*) Reader Darnel Benson of Siam Reap, Cambodia writes: "Your days seem to be one car wash after another ... I wish you'd return to your nocturnal visits to Patpong, Nana and Cowboy. Is that what marriage does to you ... car wash versus soapy wash?"1

1 Yes.

Sunday, October 30, 2005 (Is it Halloween yet in the States? ... still no 'gift' from Sandra.)

A couple of years from now we won't be able to walk from our front door at River Garden and just step across the street for a dinner with our neighbor: the Shangri-La Hotel. Sometime in late 2007 or early 2008 we'll move to The Athenee Residence which is located between Wireless Road and Soi Ruam Rudi. Though not on the river the building will be able to mingle with Bangkok's top real estate: her best stores, the most important embassies, several five star hotels, a nearby Skytrain station, a great park and Nana.

Every once in a while I shall (and did) post pictures of its construction progress. I think the earliest post goes back to the ground breaking ceremony last January. At about the same time I lifted some artist's renditions of what the place will look like when it is finished. I even singled out our unit's floor plan. An update was added in June.

The Athenee Residence will be right next door to the Athenee Plaza Hotel (whose mother hotel is in Paris). This afternoon after snapping a few construction photos I walked into the lobby of the Athanee Plaza. Though Watcharee and I have been there several times I wanted to update my memory of the place. Yes, this too will be a convenient walking point when we are feeling peckish but disinclined to fire up our own stove.

PS: Reader Talcott Simmons from Lodi, California comments: "Jeez, Alf, lighten up."

Monday, October 31, 2005

Reader Sevastopol Reinhold, from Irkutsk, Russia writes: "Yesterday you pined about someday not having the kitchen of the Shangri-La at your doorstep. If you are speaking about the Next 2 buffet I truly sympathize with you; for many months this was my favorite feeding trough in Bangkok. Now that I am back in Siberia I have little choice when it comes to eating out. The next time you go to the Shangri-La please take some photographs of its wonderful buffet tables."

Feast away, Sevastopol!

PS: "Lordy, Lordy, Lordy ... look at the sparks coming from our preacher man!"

Pastor electrocuted while performing baptism
Monday, October 31, 2005 Posted: 1012 GMT (1812 HKT)

The Rev. Kyle Lake in a January photo.

WACO, Texas (AP) -- A pastor performing a baptism was electrocuted inside his church Sunday morning when he adjusted a nearby microphone while standing in water, a church employee said.

The Rev. Kyle Lake, 33, was stepping into the baptistery as he reached out for the microphone, which produced an electric shock, said University Baptist Church community pastor Ben Dudley.

Water in a baptistery usually reaches above the waist, said Byron Weathersbee, interim university chaplain at Baylor University.

Lake was pronounced dead at Hillcrest Baptist Medical Center, nursing supervisor Pat Mahl said. The woman being baptized apparently had not stepped into the water and was not seriously injured.

Pastors at University Baptist Church routinely use a microphone during baptisms, said Jamie Dudley, the wife of Ben Dudley and a business administrator at the church.

"He was grabbing the microphone so everyone could hear," she said. "It's the only way you can be loud enough."

About 800 people attended the morning service, which was larger than normal because it was homecoming weekend at nearby Baylor University, Dudley said.

Lake had been at the church for nine years, the last seven as pastor. He is survived by his wife, Jennifer, a 5-year-old daughter and two 3-year-old sons.

At a remembrance attended by about 1,000 people Sunday night at First Baptist Church, Ben Dudley told the UBC congregation that they would move forward as a church.

"I don't know how, when, why, where or what's going to happen, but we will continue as a church in the community because that is what Kyle would have wanted," he said.

Next: November

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