Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Jacob in 09

This past year Jacob completed third grade and has finished the first half of the fourth grade.  I like his teacher, Ms. Bellone, even though she is a Baltimore Ravens fan.  She is pretty good at working with Jacob and his energy.

One of the projects that Jacob's class worked on was a digital media story.  The kids wrote, illustrated and then read a story.  Ms. Bellone posted their work on YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iI7umG5NCtY) and the parents were invited for a writer's celebration.  Jacob did a fantastic job, which was refreshing since he does not like to write.  His story was funny, and he made a great use of his voice.  His classmates were surprised to learn that he had not in fact had to wear a body cast due to some injury.  Reality or fiction, it was a fun story.

Jacob does not like the cafeteria food at ISB.   He says there are only a few things that he likes, and misses the "glory days" at Mercer where you could get pizza every day. 

In the ES Games ("Olympic" games for each grade level), Jacob ran in the 800 meter run, the 100 yard dash and in the relay event.  While he didn't win any of them, he did manage to lose one of his shoes in each race. 

 Jacob participated in quite number of sports and after school activities.  He played soccer and basketball.  In January, his soccer team won the regular season and the tournament.  For some reason, Jacob loves to be the goalie.  It drives me a bit crazy, because it is not his best position.  When he plays defense, mid-fielder or striker, his quickness and agility really help to offset his small size.  It doesn't work so well as a goalie.

Basketball started in the fall, and I actually volunteered to be an assistant coach for his team.  We almost missed signups, as for some reason I thought that soccer started before basketball.  Jacob's team had a pretty good regular season, tying for the best record in the league.  They ended up losing in the semi-finals of the tournament against the eventual winners.  His team played really hard but the other team was just a lot bigger and just a little better.

In Cub Scouts, Jacob earned his Bear badge last spring.  This fall he has worked towards his Webelos badge.  Last year's camping trip, one of the highlights of the year for scouting saw a last minute destination change from Kao Yai (a national park that is great for camping) to a field near Nichada.  The reason was that people were returning from the "resort" with food poisoning.  Incidentally, we went to the resort with the scouts this fall for the bike outing (http://www.flickr.com/photos/ebvimages/sets/72157622733168125/) and to my knowledge there were no reports of food caused illness.  Jacob was also the champion of his den in the Pinewood Derby and the Raingutter Regatta. 

 

In April, Jacob and I had the opportunity to tour the U.S. S. Stennis while it was stopped in Pattaya.  Someone in scouting arranged the tour.  As we approached, Jacob and one of his friends said how the carrier didn't really look that big.  When we got closer, I think they finally realized how wrong they were.  Jacob loved touring the ship and seeing the planes.  Yeah, and so did his dad. 

When the after school activity list came out this fall, I knew right away which one Jacob would want.  So for ten Tuesdays, Jacob got to practice archery at school.  As expected, he really liked it. 

At the end of our last vacation, we visited a school in Kanchanaburi that Tim wants to help.  The kids there are truly poor, and most are orphans.  As we were leaving, Jacob told me that he would never say how life was unfair to him again.  And although I know he, like so many of us, will get caught up in what he has or doesn't have, it was refreshing to see that he recognized how lucky he was. 

Jacob visited quite a few places in and out of Thailand this year.  He went to Singapore in April with the family.  In Singapore, we visited the Science Museum, the zoo, the Night Safari, Santosa, the Merlion and more.  He went to Hong Kong in October with Tim and his sisters and cousins.  I'm not sure everywhere they went, but I think Disney was a destination once or twice.   In Thailand, he visited Phuket, Kanchanaburi

Year in Review

I want to chronicle a bit about the year for Tim, the kids and myself.  I'm going to break them up by person.  Some will probably be more detailed, while others less so.  I want to try to preserve a bit of what happened before I forget it.  Photography has really helped the process, as I usually have my camera with me, and organize everything in Lightroom by date.  

My goal is to have one for each of us.  We'll see how far I get...

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Jacob in Kanchanaburi


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Originally uploaded by ebvImages

Caves of Kanchaburi


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Originally uploaded by ebvImages
On our last trip, I had the chance to photograph caves for the first time. Let me tell you that lugging a tripod and my gear around in the cave wasn't fun.

I ended up needing to use my flash. I was going to try to do it by flashlight with really long exposures, but the problem was that it was too dark to focus.

Up at Night

I ran twice today, each time 5k.  The problem is that the second time I finished at 9:00 p.m. and its really hard to get to sleep.  I should know better.

Family at Hellfire Pass


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Originally uploaded by ebvImages
We visited the Hellfire Pass Museum while in Kanchanaburi. The museum was built by the Australian Embassy and is very well done. This place and perhaps the allied grave yard were the most moving to me.

The Hellfire Pass was a particularly brutal area for the WWII POW's and local laborers, as the Japanese engineers forced them to work round the clock to meet their completion deadline. The name Hellfire came from the sight of the emaciated men working in the torch light looked eerily like hell.

There is an exhibit and film inside the museum, and outside you can walk along the pass. The workers would lay charges and then clear away the blast debris. They would drill holes to plant the explosives via a hand drill, and cart off the rock in a wheel barrow.

I won't go into all the details of it, but it was a sobering reminder of what man is capable of doing to each other. It seems like it was so long ago, but it happened in my parent's lifetime (or close enough).

Family in Kanchanaburi


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Originally uploaded by ebvImages

Jacob, Nalin, Aleena, Oh My


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Originally uploaded by ebvImages
The three "darlings" in Kanchanaburi.

Family


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Originally uploaded by ebvImages
Aleena actually wanted this pose. Actually, I think she wanted the flowers in the background with the family, but this is what we got.

Nalin & Aleena


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Originally uploaded by ebvImages
This was taken at the Balloon Festival in Ayutthaya earlier this month.

One Bite at a Time

I've been taking a lot of photos this year.  The count in my Lightroom library is over 13,000 for the year.  Now, there are multiple copies of some photographs, but there are also a lot that I've deleted. 

Recently, I've been distracted playing a computer game (Dragon Age, fun game), so I've been very slow to process things.  I also need to get a little better disciplined about reviewing the photos right after I take them.  Pare down the list of the things that are good, and things that aren't, process the former and delete the latter. 

The sheer number of them gives me pause.  I remember what a consultant I worked with said "How do you eat a whole elephant?  One bite at a time."

Christmas Presents

Another Christmas has come and gone.  The holidays are probably the time I miss "home" the most.  Still, it was a nice holiday.  The girls were knocking on our door at 7:00 a.m., the earliest time that we allow.  After rousing us, they went and woke up Jacob.  He is always the last one up. 

We opened presents and went to have a "traditional" Christmas lunch of roasted duck and noodles.  Yes, I know I was channeling the Christmas Story, but that duck is just so good. 

The kids received presents from us and Santa.  The family sent money, so instead of me buying them more presents with it, we gave it for them to use to buy things on our vacations.  Our plan is to go to Japan in April and the U.S. in the summer, so the kids will have some money to buy some things. 

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Strike a Pose


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Originally uploaded by ebvImages

3 of a Kind


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Originally uploaded by ebvImages
This is the bridge that was next to the hotel that we stayed in at Kanchanaburi this week. We crossed this bridge during our trip with the Cub Scouts there the week before.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Fireworks


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Originally uploaded by ebvImages
As I earlier blogged, last weekend we went to the fireworks in honor of the King's birthday. This was one of the first few times that I have tried to photograph fireworks. I've done it a little before, but this is the first time I set up and tried to capture some decent photos.

I read some tips on how to photograph fireworks. One of the tips was to use bulb mode. In bulb mode the camera keeps the shutter open as long as you hold the button down.

I took a lot of shots, and a few of them turned out fairly decent. The two biggest challenges were getting the exposure right (using bulb mode) and the smoke. However the shots turned out, I feel like I learned something and I know that I had fun.

Girls In Hats


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Originally uploaded by ebvImages

ISB ES Choir


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Originally uploaded by ebvImages

Kids After Choir


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Nalin Running


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Originally uploaded by ebvImages

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Spare a Tire

My wife learned yesterday that someone had stolen her spare tire.  In this model of Izuzu, the spare tire is underneath the vehicle and secured with a chain.  Apparently, they do not secure it with a very sturdy chain as she learned.  Afterwards people told her "of course you are supposed to buy a better chain."  We didn't even realize the spare was under the car, so upgrading the spare wasn't even something that we thought about.

 

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

ES Games

The kids had their ES (Elementary School) games this week.  Each grade has its version of the games where the classes in that grade compete against each other.  The events differ based on the grade, although there are some standards.  There is usually a sprint, a relay and a distance run.  For the 4th graders it was an 800 meter run, while the 3rd graders did 600 meters.  The kindergartners only had to run 50 meters.  

Not all the kids participate in each of the running events.  Jacob ran in the 800 meter and finished in the middle of the pack.  His shoe flew off in the first 50 meters.  This was a theme for him, as he lost them in the sprints and the sprint relays.  He was wearing shoes that fasten with Velcro, and apparently kept them too loose.  Overall Jacob's class was not the most athletic of fourth graders.  There was an event where they had to catch a tennis ball, and the difference between Jacob's class and the rival class was stark.  Not even 1/3 of Jacob's class could catch the ball, while the other team seemed to have little trouble.  

Nalin didn't do the sprint or distance run, but she was part of her class' relay team.  When they told me that she had the second fastest time on the team, I knew they were not going to be finishing near the top.  They didn't.  She had fun though.

Aleena had fun at her game.  She really isn't about competition at all.  During her "sprint", she had her head turned looking at the other kids. 

I took quite a few photos this week.  I've posted a few, but there are a lot to go.  Someday.

Jacob's ES Games


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Originally uploaded by ebvImages
I only took my 70-200 mm lens to take photos at Jacob's ES games. Its really a great lens for taking shots of the kids in action, but its really tough to get a good group shot. I would just have to stand very far back and with other parents taking photos, its just not going to happen.

I decided to instead just focus on Jacob and a person or two around him.

Intense


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Originally uploaded by ebvImages

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Toto

Jacob is going to play the role of Toto in ISB's Elementary School production of the Wizard of Oz.  The play is cast with the fourth and fifth graders (Jacob is a fourth grader).

I'm not sure how much he will actually say, but he might be on stage a bit.  There are actually two people playing Toto.  I think they actually have cast four girls as Dorothy and a handful for the Scarecrow.  Jacob was hoping to land the Scarecrow role, but it didn't work out this time.  Still,I think he'll have fun.  Its all about having fun, right?  Well, and winning too.

Nalin & Caroline


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Originally uploaded by ebvImages
Today was Nalin's ES games. She ran in the relay race and participated in some of the other games.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Nuts

This evening Tim had VIP tickets for the family to go to a firework show in honor of the King.  The show was not very far from the house.  Absent traffic, you could drive there in ten or fifteen minutes.  The traffic certainly wasn't absent today.  It took us over two hours to make the short drive.  Had we known, we could have walked there much more quickly.  

The traffic jam was only the beginning.  Tim had a VIP parking pass, but somehow we made a wrong turn and had to double park along the side of the road.  We arrived right before the show started and were lucky to find seats.  The VIP area is reserved until a certain point at which they let anyone into the area.  Tim's brother Top and his family were a few rows behind us.  They didn't know we were coming, nor did we know they were.  We were a bit hungry, as we had planned on eating at a food stand before the show started, but we got there so late.  Tim asked an event worker where she could buy food, and they told her that she was entitled to a snack with her tickets.  It was a little box like you might get on an airplane.  It had a small sandwich, orange juice, some savory pastry and a piece of cake.  I wasn't really paying attention to the food, as I was trying to get my camera setup to take some photographs of the fireworks.  Nalin asked if it was okay if she ate the cake, and the nanny told her yes.  Soon after she said her lips started itching.  Turns out there were nuts in the cake.

After a little while, Nalin was itching more, so Tim decided to take her home as we hadn't packed Benedril or an Epipen with us.  Tim arranged for the rest of us to get a ride back home with Top.  After the show, we were talking towards Top's father-in-law's house, which was close by and where he had parked.  I talked to Tim and she had not made it very far in the 45 minutes that she had left.  After walking about 25 minutes, we actually caught up with Tim and got in the car.

Nalin was really upset and not feeling well.  It probably took us a total of close to ninety minutes from the time the show ended until we got home.  Tim gave Nalin some medicine, and she seems to be feeling better.  She certainly has calmed down quite a bit.  Tim's sleeping in the girls room to monitor them.  



 

 

Weapons Seized

The Thai authorities seized a plane today at Don Meung Airport containing 35 tonnes of weaponry from North Korea.  The plane had stopped here to refuel.  The Thai authorities were acting on a tip/request of the U.S. government.  

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Memorable Conversation

On the ride to school today, Aleena asked me "Daddy, what day was I born on?"  So naturally I told her the date.

"Daddy, that sounds like my birthday" she responded.

Laughingly, I replied, "Yes, your birthday is the day you were born.  Where do you think we got your birthday from?"

"I don't know" was her answer.  

Tim & the Kids


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Originally uploaded by ebvImages

Sunday, December 6, 2009

St. Nick & The Christmas Tree

St. Nick came and visited the kids last night.  I can never remember if he is supposed to come the night of the 4th or the 5th, so invariably he comes on the night of the 5th.  

Yesterday we put up the Christmas tree and decorations.  Our Christmas tree here is pretty small and unimpressive.  I think its only a 3 or so foot artificial tree.  We never buy anything larger, because our situation here is not permanent.  That's okay most of the time, but sometimes I think we use it as an excuse not to buy things that we would probably end up enjoying even if not permanently.  Still, the kids had fun decorating, at least until they decided to play and let Tim and I finish.  

Its nice that Tim and the kids have a 3 day weekend.  The King's birthday was Saturday, so a lot of places are off on Monday.  Her office is actually open on Monday because they were closed on Saturday which is a normal work day.  Tim's taking Monday off anyway since the kids are off school.  

Aleena in Ayutthaya


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Originally uploaded by ebvImages
We went to the Thailand Balloon Festival in Ayutthaya today. It was a lot of fun. The kids were absolutely on their best behavior. They really enjoyed seeing the balloons, and I had the chance to take some photos. By some I mean a lot. A few of the family turned out all right.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Celebration


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Originally uploaded by ebvImages
I took this photo at one of the days of celebration for the King's birthday.

Friday, December 4, 2009

What Were They Thinking

If you've read the blog before, you know that some Thai's take any offense against the monarchy very seriously.  Thailand has some of the strictest les majeste laws in the world.  I won't fully go into my thoughts on these laws, as some official with too much time on his or her hands may deem unflattering comments about the law prohibiting offense to the monarchy as offensive to the monarchy.  It is unlikely, but you never know.

Recently I found out that the the government had set up a web site where you can report any offense against the monarchy that you encounter.  Sounds a little Orwellian to me, but then again, no public official gets in trouble for professing his love for the monarchy too loudly if you catch my drift.  In any case, the reason I found out that the web site existed is because the Bangkok Post reported that the site had been hacked and replaced with an advertisement for a mortgage company.  I'm not sure if the advertisement was in the Thai language or if the hack originated from Thailand.  

If the person who hacked the site is in the Kingdom, they may possess great intelligence as it pertains to computers, but they certainly are lacking in wisdom.  I have near certainty that defamation of the web site will be construed as an offense against the King and they take that very seriously here.    

Father's Day

Today, December 5th, is Father's Day in Thailand.  Father's Day is always celebrated on the King's Birthday, so at some point, it may no longer be on December 5th.  

While it can change, it has been the same day for most Thai people's lives.  The King has been on the throne for sixty-two years.  I suspect that when the King eventually passes, as all men must, that the Thai people may make December 5th the permanent Father's Day.  In the off chance I'm wrong and its not officially changed, I bet a lot of people continue to celebrate it on that day for years to come.  


Monday, November 30, 2009

Wat Arun


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Originally uploaded by ebvImages
One of the photos that I took at Wat Arun today.

Busy Morning

After dropping the kids off at school, I headed over to the pool and swam a kilometer.  I did a light workout yesterday (15 minutes on stair master and 40 minutes on elliptical glider), but I've been taking it easy over the past four or five days because I think I overdid it a bit with my 12.5 kilometer run last week.  

Later in the morning I went back to Wat Arun (Temple of the Dawn) to take some more photos.  I think I got some nice shots, but we'll see when I process them.  I really need to get out at least 2 or 3 times a week to get some shots. 

One thing that annoyed me is that I spent quite a bit of time cleaning my sensor on Sunday, but some of the photos came out with spots on them.  After looking at the lenses, I think that the lens might have been dirty.  I have to do some more testing.



Saturday, November 28, 2009

Wat Arun


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Originally uploaded by ebvImages
I went to take a few night photos at Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn) last night. I really want to go again, both at night and in the daytime.

A Stop!


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Originally uploaded by ebvImages
Jacob played a half at goalie in today's game. He made some pretty good stops, but missed a few as well.

Nalin and Caroline


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Originally uploaded by ebvImages
One thing that has made soccer even more fun for Nalin this year is that she is on the same team as her good friend Caroline. I like this photo. They were both looking in the same direction when I snapped it.

Oh, and yes, Nalin has two different color socks. She lost one of the dark ones.

Soccer Saturday


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Originally uploaded by ebvImages
The kids had soccer games this weekend. Jacob and Nalin's team both lost, but I'm not sure of the actual score in Aleena's game. Technically they don't keep score, but people usually know.

In typical fashion, Aleena was more interested in having fun and laughing than kicking the ball towards her goal. Still, she has fun out there.

In this photo, she is next to her teammate Ireland.

Leg

I haven't worked out for the last 3 days because my left leg is bothering me.  The calf is really tender as well as my inside left thigh.  I'm going to take off one more day (Sunday) and then I am going to try to do something on Monday.  

In the Movies

Tim was watching a Thai movie today and saw that her station was in the movie.  They showed both the outside and the interior.  

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Reality Setting In

The red shirts had a big rally planned starting this weekend.  Their plan was to rally until the King's birthday on December 5th, take a day off, and then resume the rally until the government collapsed.  A few days ago, former PM Thaksin, the power behind the red shirts, announced that the time was not right for the rallies.  

Protesting during another holiday was exactly what the red shirts needed; if they wanted to turn every Thai not already committed to their cause against them.  The rallies in April disrupted Song Klong, the Thai New Year, and probably cost them a lot of support.  I was a little surprised at Thaksin calling off the rally because in the last six months, his actions were hardly consistent with his apparent desire to return to Thailand and perhaps to power.  Rumors were that he was in Cambodia during the April protests, waiting for the masses to congregate and usher him back in.  An interview with a London based news organization was viewed by his opponents as against the monarchy.  Recently, Thaksin's flirting with Cambodia at a time when Thailand and Cambodia are feuding over borders earned him no love.  

Perhaps the former PM has had a change of heart.  Today's Bangkok Post had an article which stated that Thaksin wanted to negotiate with the government to end all the red shirt rallies in exchange for him returning to Thailand free from his two year prison sentence.  The negotiations would also deal with the 76 billion baht asset seizure case against him that is expected to be decided in January.  Theoretically, the agreement would allow Thaksin to return to Thailand with his fortune in tact, and in exchange his political opponents, the Democrats (unrelated to the U.S. party of the same name) would remain in power without the worry of potentially economically crippling protests.

The problem is that Thaksin's bargaining position is considerably weaker than it was back in April.  Even back then, he did not have the number of supporters to cause a change in government.  Unlike the previous government, the current administration seems to enjoy the support of the military.  Whether this is because the generals support the Democrat party or just felt it was finally time to put an end to the disruption of government, I do not know.  I have strong suspicions, but I do not know for certain.  Let's also not forget that it was the military that deposed him in the first place. 

In addition to his lack of success rallying the people and the military, Thaksin and his supporters have not enjoyed much success in the courts.  The courts have sentenced him to jail and are considering seizing his assets.  Many of his political allies have been banned from politics (for a few more years anyway) and twice the courts have dissolved the government controlled by his supporters. 

What incentive does the current government have to make a deal with Thaksin?  Further protests, while unlikely to dislodge the government, could disrupt the Thai economy, lead to further deaths, and widen the crack in Thai society.  Logical or not, the fugitive billionaire is supported by the impoverished Thais and is seen as their man.  If Thaksin returns and stability returns, Thailand benefits, at least theoretically.  

Of course, once he's back the itch to rule might return.  Even an agreement to a lifetime ban is only worth the power behind the paper its written on.  If the reds gain the upper hand in the next election and manage to get the support of the military, who knows.  I can see the shirts already now, "He's tan, he's rested." (Its an old Nixon joke for those of you who don't remember).    


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Jacob's Story

Jacob's class had a day to celebrate the stories that they wrote.  They wrote the stories, drew pictures, and then recorded the audio.  Jacob does a great job using his voice.

The people in his class seemed to believe (since Jacob told them it was) the story was true.  

Here is the link:

Monday, November 23, 2009

Weather

The weather in Bangkok is fantastic right now.  Its nice and cool.  Don't get me wrong, its not cold, just a pleasant break from the heat and humidity. 

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Aleena at the Science Museum


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Originally uploaded by ebvImages
This was taken back in April at the Science Museum in Singapore. Its kind of funny that Aleena's clothing sort of matches the floor.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Tim and the Kids


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Originally uploaded by ebvImages
Sunday was really a great day. We had a lot of fun at the Science Museum, and I was able to get some photos of the family.

Singapore Vacation


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Originally uploaded by ebvImages
Here is a family shot I took back in April when we visited Singapore.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Sitting on Top of the World


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Originally uploaded by ebvImages

Science Museum


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Originally uploaded by ebvImages
The exterior of the Science Museum is shaped like two cubes.

Ears


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Originally uploaded by ebvImages
At the Science Museum, we went to a workshop that discussed sound. At the end, everyone made "elephant ears" to help us hear better.

Wrong Way


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Originally uploaded by ebvImages
I've talked before about motorcycles driving the wrong way down Bangkok streets. On our way to the Science Museum, I saw this guy driving in the wrong way on the shoulder.

Unfortunately, this is not uncommon.

Elephant Ear


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Originally uploaded by ebvImages

Thorn

Three years after he was deposed from power, former Prime Minister Thaksin still manages to grab headlines and polarize Thai society.  Recently, he accepted a position as an economic advisor to Cambodia.  

Thailand and Cambodia share a border, and recently there has been tension involving the Preah Vihear Temple, which was declared a world heritage site in July of 2008.  The temple itself is apparently in Cambodia, but the area around it is in dispute.  Both lay claim to much of the surrounding area.  Cambodia bases its claims on maps created by France when it colonized Cambodia, while Thailand supports its position with evidence of watershed.  In any case, both countries have placed troops along the border.  There may have been some gunfire, but there is little chance of a real war breaking out over the area.

It is widely believed that Cambodia Prime Minister Hun Sen appointed Thaksin as an economic adviser to tweak Thailand.  Its certainly worked in getting people talking.  Thailand requested that Cambodia extradite Thaksin to Thailand when he arrived in Cambodia, but the request was refused.  Thailand refused to let Thaksin's private jet enter Thai airspace on his return trip home.  Cambodia arrested some Thai employees at the airport whom they accused of spying for Thailand in trying to get information on Thaksin's flight. 

While Thaksin made it safely back to Dubai, I'm not sure these latest moves won't hurt him.  Thai people are very nationalistic and proud of their country.  At best, Thaksin seemed to have allowed himself to be used by Cambodia in their dispute against Thailand.  At worst, some may believe that is he choosing to help Cambodia against Thailand.  If Thai people start believing that, I think his support will fade even more rapidly than it already has.  

Family Photo


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Originally uploaded by ebvImages
I realized that I don't take enough photos of the family together. Today, before we went to the Science Museum I took a few photos.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Jacob Getting After It


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Originally uploaded by ebvImages

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Jacob Just Kicking It


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Aleena Playing Soccer


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Originally uploaded by ebvImages
Aleena had a soccer game this morning. Her game was at 8:00 a.m., the same time as Nalin's.

Aleena has a pretty laid back attitude towards the game. By that I mean she is more interested in talking to her friends and laughing than she is scoring goals. Still, she has fun. Her team tied 2-2 today.

Friday, November 13, 2009

2012

Tim and I went and saw the movie 2012 today.  The basic premise is that a cataclysmic event befalls the earth in 2012.  The date 2012 is based on the Mayan calendar, which ends in 2012.  Be prepared to suspend a lot of disbelief when watching this movie. Its not a bad rental, but definitely not a must see in the theater.

Monday, November 9, 2009

3 Teachers

During Aleena's soccer practice today, I did a few laps around the track.  There were three teachers working out together while I was there.  The funny thing was that all three of them were my kids' teachers.   

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Pool

Went swimming today for the first time in a few months.  Only did half a kilometer, but it was nice to get back in the water. 

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Fender Bender

Tim was out of the office today, so I went to lunch with Sine.  We were on our way to the restaurant when a passenger van cut right in front of me.  I had to hit the breaks to avoid hitting the van.  I felt a jolt from behind.  I looked in the rear view mirror and saw a motor cycle down on the ground.  I said that he hit us.  Sine apparently is hard of feeling, because she missed the jolt.

We pulled over and went back to see if the two cyclists were okay.  At first one started to say that I swerved into him, but quickly changed his story.  I'm not quite sure why.  I tried to call Tim three or four times without success.  Finally, I had Sine call Top.  Top sent over some people from the office to help.

There was a big crack on my bumper.  Of course the motor cyclist didn't have insurance and didn't have the money to pay for it.  Still we waited.  Some people from the station came and talked to the other driver.  Sine was "explaining" what happened, and I had to interject.  Eventually we just went on our way.  It sucked because the entire thing took almost an hour, and I had the same result as if I had kept driving. 

I actually felt some sympathy for the motorcyslist, which is certainly not normal for me.  He should have maintained a safe distance, but the guy who really caused the accident was the passenger van who forced me to break suddenly. 

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Bags Arrived

An hour after I went to bed, my phone rang, alerting me that my bags had arrived.  I anxiously opened the bags, not sure if the twenty-one packs of sliced non-dairy cheese would be preserved or spoiled.  To my delight, there was still ice in the freezer bag.  It didn't all melt and refreeze in the plane (although the high altitude part of the flight might have helped preserve it), because one of the bags was crushed ice, and they were still in individual pieces.

All my things appear to be there so I am happy.  The bad news is that I'm awake now. 

Friday, October 30, 2009

Back in Kreung Tape

Well, I made it back to Bangkok tonight, but my checked luggage did not.  I'm guessing that they didn't get it on the plane from Detroit to Tokyo.  When I arrived in Detroit, I went straight to the gate, and within five minutes they called the final boarding call for my flight.  I'd like to give a big one finger salute to the ground crew in Detroit who let our flight from Cincinnati sit on the runway for fifteen minutes waiting for them to get the gate ready. 

The problem with not having my luggage is that I had cheese for the girls in it.  It was frozen and packed with ice in a container that boasted to keep things frozen for at least 30 hours.  We'll see what state it is in when it arrives tomorrow.  

In Transit

In Norita (Tokyo) waiting for my flight to Bangkok.  A few minutes ago one of my countrymen was walking through the airport screaming out curses (mom, don't read this part, including fuck, god damn, assholes).  Apparently he was unhappy with something.  Totally uncool. I've said those things before, and sometimes in response to people I deal with.  However, only someone right next to me would actually hear me say something like that.  This guy was turning heads from more than fifty feet away. 

I was seated in the middle seat of exit row (51) for the flight.  Row 51 is a great row in that it has a lot of leg room.  The wall to the restroom is the only thing in front of you, and that's probably 8 or so feet away.  Its one of the few rows where the middle and window seat passengers can get up without requiring the person on the aisle to move.

One of the gentleman sitting next to me was somehow affiliated with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra.  I think he was a donor.  The orchestra is touring in Japan, and he was going to see them.  He knew John Russel, the former assistant conductor who's wife Thea was a friend of Tim's. 

Only another nine or so hours left before I'm back in Thailand. 

Thursday, October 22, 2009

iTouch

Recently, my iTouch developed a few little lines of dead pixels across the screen.  I took it into the Apple shop today and within twenty minutes walked out with a new (probably refurbished) iTouch. 

I'm happy with the way Apple handles these things, quickly and largely hassle free.  The only downsides were two.  First, I lost everything on my iTouch. Normally, this wouldn't be as big of a deal, because I would just sync with my desktop.  Unfortunately, my desktop is on another continent at the moment. 

Secondly, I had upgraded the software on my iTouch.  I have a first generation, and upgraded it to version 2.2.  The new iTouch is on version 1.1.  In order to use the games I want, I need at least version 2.2.  Unfortunately, I could not find that software, so I had to spend $4.95 to upgrade to version 3.1.  Overall I'm pretty happy with things though.

In less fortunate iProduct related news, Tim took her iPhone swimming with her.  She has a case she uses for working out that wraps around the arm.  She forgot that she was wearing it and got into the water.  Not good.  Not good at all.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Heading Back Home

I'm in Atlanta waiting for my flight back from Cincinnati. 

I thought I had booked my flight back from Austin for today, the 19th.  When I checked the morning, apparently I had booked it for tomorrow the 20th.  When I called Delta to try to change it, the first agent told me that there were no seats available today.  The guy was a bit of an ass.  They have the suffix ESQ behind my name from my days as an attorney.  He kept calling me Vogelesq even after I politely corrected him several times.  I would say "Vogel, V O G E L" and he would say, "right, Vogelesq".  He didn't even attempt to rebook.  When I told him that I was having trouble accessing my itinerary online, he told me that I shouldn't be having trouble.  Oh, really, I thought?  You guys don't design it to not work?  At my request, he was able to transfer me to someone who could find their butt with both hands, although even this person might have needed a few minutes.

I called back a bit later and talked to someone else.  The lady tried to help me, and even put me on hold and sought help.  She finally came back and said that since the flight was booked through Continental (it was actually through Expedia), that I had to call Continental. 

While I was on hold with Continental, I checked the price to book a brand new one way flight.  I'm glad I did, because when I called Continental, they quoted a price to change it that was almost twice the price of booking a new ticket.  Um, no thanks...

I went to book a new flight online with Delta, but they didn't show seats available for the flight.  I didn't want to pay more money only to fly standby and not actually make it home, so I called.  When I explained I wanted to book a new flight, the CSR told me that she could change my reservation.  When I explained what the other two numb-skulls had told me, she said that they must have been having a bad day.  A subtle shot, I liked it.  In any case I rebooked the flight for today. 


Friday, October 16, 2009

In the Air Again

Less than twenty-four hours after arriving in Cincinnati, I am heading out for a side trip today.  I'm actually feeling pretty good.  I went to bed last night around 11:30, and woke up at 8:00 am.  Its quite possible that I could crash hard on the plane or when I arrive at my destination. 

Lucky

Made it back to Cincinnati last night.  I didn't realize that I was actually on stand-by for my flight from LAX.  The agent in BKK said they couldn't assign a seat because it was a Delta flight on a Northwest itinerary.  I wouldn't normally have believed that, but I had some weird problems with mixing them before. 

Turns out that I got the last seat available.  I was looking at the cleared list (those on standby assigned to a seat) and the standby list.  My name wasn't on either, and there were only one or 2 seats listed available.  I went to the counter and the agent told me she was just issuing my seat.  I ended up sitting in a a middle seat, but fortunately, I was in between two normal sized women.  That was a lot more comfortable than in the same row as two large men.

I've really noticed how fat Americans have become.  Well, maybe they have always been that way.  In fact, I still am fat, just not as fat as I was a year ago. I saw more fat people yesterday traveling than I have in the last year on Thailand (not counting foreigners). 

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Waiting in LAX

I'm sitting at the El Cholo Catina in LAX.  Sounds a lot better than it is.

The flight from Japan was 9 hours, long by most standards, but at least shorter than the 13 hour from Japan to Detroit. Of course, now I have a 5 hour flight ahead of me. 

I had an excellent seat on the flight from Japan, at least theoretically.  I was in the exit row by the window.  The leg room for one leg was a little cramped, but the other longer than my leg.  Its one of the window seats where you can actually get up and walk around without disturbing the people next to you.

The people sharing the row with me were why the seat was theoretically great.  In the middle seat was a thin guy who had to be over 6'5. While he was thin, he had fairly wide shoulders.  He ended up leaning in my seat fairly frequently thanks to the guy sitting on the aisle, who was just plain big.   My guess is that he tipped the scales at close to 300 lbs. 

Immigration, customs and luggage re-check were a breeze.  I saw some minor TV star in the airport, but I can't place him for sure. 

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

In Transit

I'm on my way back to the U.S.  Currently in Japan waiting for my flight to L.A.

Interesting thing on the flight over.  I sat in 16C, which does not have an overhead storage available (a life raft in it), nor does it have a seat in front.  So I had to go find a spot somewhere else.  I went a few rows back, and some old guy said "No, you can't put that there."  I just looked at him and started to move the 2 tiny bags that were occupying a lot of space.  "No No No you can't"  he continued.

I explained that my seat didn't have any storage and I could put it here.  "I don't care if you have a place or not" he said in a raised voice, and then actually grabbed my arms in an attempt to stop me.  The guy was old and wasn't very successful, which was good for him, since if I dropped the bag due to his antics, I would probably have broken his hip.

I told him that if he kept it up they would throw him off the plane.  He then said that he need to be able to get to his bag quickly (I assume for a medicine) and he couldn't move my bag.  I nicely said "asshole, if you had nicely asked and told me that before I would have gladly found another spot", which I then did.  I did say asshole, but I'm not sure where it was in the sentence. 

His reply was "I did, I said no." 

"That is your idea of nicely"

I went back to my seat.  A few minutes later I heard him request someone else not put their bag there, this time in a much nicer voice.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Basketball

Basketball is over now and soccer is starting up.  Jacob's team finished tied for first in the regular season (6-1) and lost in the second round of the tournament.  Of the 9 games, I think 4 were decided by two points. 

The last game was really exciting and close.  The other team won by two points on a shot in the final ten seconds.  Initially, the kids took it pretty hard.  Most of the team was actually crying.  They really wanted to win.  It was nice to see that.   

Stateside

As some of you already know, I'll be stateside from October 15th through the 29th.  I had to cancel the trip to Japan again.  Its a long story, but not really a bad one.  We are rescheduled to go back in April. 

To the dismay of my parents and family, I will be returning home alone again. 

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Singapore Vacation


IMG_0247-Edit, originally uploaded by eBv iMAGES.

I thought I had uploaded this photo back in April, and maybe I did, but I couldn't find it on Flickr.