November in Bangkok, Part II

After Part I

November 8-14, 2005

Tuesday, November 8, 2005 (Pre-journal)

From this morning's International Herald Tribune:

Tuesday, November 8, 2005

Watcharee has again resumed her English language studies at AUA (American University Alumni) ... for yet another advanced six-week session. The AUA campus is located on Ratchadamri Road ... on the grounds owned by the American Embassy here in Bangkok (*). Watcharee is in a class for levels 9 and 10: the highest levels for conversational English (**).

The facilities here are quite nice. There is an excellent English language library, an OK Thai food cafeteria and ... most important ... a parking space less than 50 meters from her classroom. (***)

(*) The US Embassy in Bangkok must be the owner of the biggest chunk of prime property in the city. Its acreage spreads west-east from Ratchadamri to Wireless to Ruam Rudi. It also takes a big bite out of the north-south axis.

(**) Interestingly, every time she goes back to college her at-home English becomes perfect.

(***) At many major American metropolitan universities having a prime parking spot on campus is more important than getting tenure.

Wednesday, November 9, 2005

My God! It looks like Katrina even took a swipe at Buddha's trees!

OK, I haven't walked through our neighboring temple grounds (Wat Sanplu) in several months so I don't know the exact when or the why of this wholesale arboreal-branchotomy. At first I thought that some buildings had been torn down as there was so much light lying about; but, no, the reason for all this new light was because all the shade was gone.

In the past these tall trees kept two of Wat Sanplu's more arrogant neighbors fairly hidden from view. Today you can see how inharmoniously close stand both The Peninsula hotel and the State Tower.

One now has to retreat to the Wat's narrow internal footpaths to escape the discordant clash with these two huge piles of concrete that lie on either side.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

I forgot that I had a fish-eye attachment for my Nikon Cool Pix (*) ... in fact I forgot that I even had a Cool Pix until I opened the wrong drawer looking for something else. And in the same drawer was my old Canon ... the one with Photo Stitch talents.

Having little else to do I photographed our Bangkok living room using 3 left-to-right shots from the Canon and one circular scatter blast from the fish-eye. After using the Photo Stitch utility of the Canon to merge the 3 images into 1 panorama view I then shaped and cropped a roughly matching section from the single fish-eye photograph.

(*) If I look deeper I might find my old Sony Mavica's ... the ones that recorded everything on floppys.A

A What is really scary to contemplate: I have hundreds if not thousands of floppys that contain all the pictures of my first half a dozen years of my life in the digital world. They are sitting in boxes in my closet. Unlike the film images from Kodak they will not just gradually fade and lose some of their color ... they will just go dead, either because floppy disk drivers are no longer available; or, more likely, their internal plastic organs will fail. My sole solace is that the most important images are up here at

1 In paper albums back in Florida there are faded sepia photographs of my grandparents from the late 1800s. Will the Internet last as long as paper ... will it still be around in a hundred years?

A wise probate lawyer once told me: "Your heirs will look at all the photographs that you took. The pictures in which they look good they will keep ... the rest will wind up in the dumpster."

Friday, November 11, 2005 (Pre-journal)

Last night according to 'Stickman' (a local blogger of the night scene) a gang of bible thumpers stood at the entrance to Nana"(*) chanting:

"All ye who pass by these gates shall enter the gates of hell, bigger sinners you shall be in the eyes of the good lord than the evil devil's damsels who ply thy trade inside these walls. An appointment with the devil will be yours, nothing is surer. Listen ye sinners, the lord will punish all!"

(*) Nana is one of Bangkok's entertainment zones.

Here is a Nana panorama.

Friday, November 11, 2005

When I penned the pre-journal a few hours back I didn't remember that it was just four years ago to the day that THOCBDC took you on an informal tour of Nana. Maybe those bible thumpers are THOCBDC fans ... how else could they have timed their protest so well.

Americans, even those from New Orleans, are pretty cop-fearing when it comes to obeying the rules of the road. Witness the TV pictures from the traffic helicopters when Katrina was coming to town: all the northbound lanes were clotted with cars that were going nowhere while the southbound lanes were totally empty. Since the cops had not sanctioned contra-flow it didn't happen ... even though common sense screamed otherwise.

Bangkokians go with common sense every time ... here road rules are suggestions that wash well only when they are convenient. Here is an example.

Friday afternoons are the worst time to drive in Bangkok ... especially when it has just rained. Foolish me. I drove to Chinatown and by the time I was halfway home rain, rush hour and school let-outs made our two southbound lanes a parking lot. The two northbound lanes were only moderately heavy with cars. At a certain point the southerners spontaneously created their own contra-flow. Within a minute we now had three lanes of traffic while the guys heading north had just one. The beauty of it was not that it occurred at some critical tipping point ... (of, say, bumper to bumper vehicle mass divided by its diminishing speed) ... but that it really did the job: traffic now flowed both ways.

PS: This is just too good to believe:

WASHINGTON (Nov. 11) - Conservative Christian televangelist Pat Robertson told citizens of a Pennsylvania town that they had rejected God by voting their school board out of office for supporting "intelligent design" and warned them on Thursday not to be surprised if disaster struck.

"I'd like to say to the good citizens of Dover: if there is a disaster in your area, don't turn to God. You just rejected Him from your city."

-- Pat Robertson, Nov. 2005

PPS: From the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

The day before yesterday I worried aloud about what would happen to the tens of thousands of images that I had stored on floppy disks.

Well, after fretting a bit I explored the face of my relatively new bespoke computer tower ... you know, the one that replaced my crashed laptop. Much to my surprise I discovered that this Bangkok-made desktop thing has a built-in anachronism: a real floppy drive.

This is a mixed blessing.

As you can witness from my jumbled collection of floppy disks there is very little apparent order to be seen there. If lucky a disk may have a date on it; even then, more likely than not, the year might be missing ... something like "June 7" could be the only identifier.

When things are very slow at THOCBDC I plan to randomly choose a disk or two from my pile ... then selectively choose an image or two.

Let's see how this works for today.

Can anyone identify the still (below) or the movie (384k MPEG)? Hint: the movie goes back to my days at The Oriental. The still was captured later.

PS: Reader Waldo Gorff from Panama City writes: "Your writing seems unusually stiff today. Are you stressed about something?"

Yes, we just came back from the soi from hell. I do not want to talk about it.

PPS: Darwin was right on:

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Just as I was wondering what to post for today I received this e-mail from Nick Hunt (*):

Hi Alf,

Was cleaning up some files on the computer and old CD's ... had to send you these. Good times and fond memories.

Keep well.

(*) His third photograph is of the first meeting of the PCC that was not held in Bangkok. It took place in Don Bull's home state of Virginia ... it coincided with the 2003 ICCA AGM. I've attached some out-takes of the very first meeting of the PCC in Bangkok.

Monday, November 14, 2005 (Pre-journal)

'Nuanced' thunderstorms are predicted for The Kingdom today.

Next: Part III

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