Friday, February 26, 2010

Court Rules Against Thaksin

In a decision that was anything but shocking, the Thai Supreme Court found against Thaksin on all charges (I think) and ordered the confiscation of 46 billion of the 76 billion baht in his assets seized.  I guess it wasn't a total loss for the former PM, as they didn't find a reason to seize the entire 76 billion. 

I'm sure this will send a message to all Thai politicians that corruption will not be tolerated, no matter your political party.  That this is a new day in Thai politics and for the Thai people.  Ha, the pain meds must be talking, it doesn't mean that at all. 

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


Originally uploaded by ebvImages

One Armed

Operation on my hand went well enough. Will be in a cast for a week if things go well.

No biking and probably no driving for the time being. Typing is a challenge with only my left hand. Taking photos will not be easy, but as you can see it can be done. Maybe I'll try some macro shots.

Monday, February 22, 2010


I'm in the hospital waiting for them to take me down for my surgery.  Its 11:40 a.m. and they said they would come by noon to take me for my 1:00 p.m. surgery.  I've been hanging out here since about 8:30.

Starting to get a bit hungry, as I had to stop eating by 7:00 a.m.   They already put the IV connector in my hand.  It took three tries, as the first two times she tried to use the big needle.  The big needle actually hurt a little.  I was flashing back to when I had my appendectomy back in 4th grade where they took 10-12 times to get an IV in my arm. 

This is going to be a bit weird, as I will be awake during the procedure.  They are going to numb my arm.  My request to bring my iTouch so I could listen to music was denied. 

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Jacob & Friends

Originally uploaded by ebvImages
The kids had the chance to canoe during the campout. I sat that event out because of my knee and wrist. Man, I'm getting old.

Back From Camp

Lean Back
Originally uploaded by ebvImages
Jacob and I attended the cub scout campout in Kao Yai this weekend. The campout was held at an "eco-friendly" site, which in my estimation is code for not great facilities.

He had a great time camping. We arrived on Friday after the expected two and a half hour bus ride stretched to four hours due to traffic. Unfortunately by the time we got there, we had only a little day light left to put up our tent. This turned out to cause us problems that night, because I did not have the rain sheet on correctly. I didn't stretch it out away from the tent so it wasn't pulled tight. I'm not sure if I would have noticed if we had gotten their earlier or not.

Hey, the rain sheet shouldn't have mattered anyways, as it hadn't rained for months; well, it hadn't until that night. We ended up with water in our tent. It wasn't a lot of water, but then it doesn't take a lot. The worst part was that I had some books in the corner of the tent, and that is where the water ended up. Bad for books.

Between the rain and the fact that I don't sleep well in a hot tent, there was not a lot of sleeping Friday night. On Saturday, the morning was spent doing some team building events, like the one pictured. The kids made a circle holding a rope, and the idea was that they would stretch it tawt and lean back. The early results were not encouraging, but they finally figured it out. Not before the parents showed them how it was done though. They also had fun on the low ropes obstacle course.

The pack split up in the afternoon, and Jacob's group did some navigation with a compass, some archery, and had the chance to brave the high ropes course. Jacob demonstrated some real skill with the bow and arrow, as he popped a balloon on the target on his third shot. On his last round, the instructor let him handle the extra large bow (which was half a foot taller than he). The instructor had to help on that one, as it took more power to pull back.

I think Jacob's favorite activity was the high ropes course. It was ten or so meters off the ground. The kids had to climb a rope ladder, and there were a number of activities, such as walking on a beam, crossing a rope ladder, walking on an tight rope and another which I forget. He showed no fear and really did a great job. What was really impressive was the six year old girl who also braved the course without hesitation or fear.

Some of the boys who climbed the ladder became very afraid when they made it to the top. At least one just sat there refusing to move for more than five minutes, while a couple of others were actually panicked. Of course the parents were trying to encourage them. One mom was commenting how she didn't understand why the boy (not hers) wouldn't just take the step since he was wearing a harness. Instead, he wanted to just jump down. She said something to that effect to him when he got down.

Um, maybe because fear is irrational. Yes, whether he scooted off his butt and was lowered down or whether he tried to walk the beam and "fell" and had to be lowered down is in many ways the same. Rationally speaking it makes sense. To a nine year old who was panicking though, it wasn't the same.

The Webelos actually got to help prepare dinner (they spread bbq sauce on the kabobs), aid in the clean up, and organize the camp fire entertainment for the evening. The entertainment included some games and jokes. A couple of parents told a scary story. I shared one that I read from a scouting book written by Tim's cousin's husband Tom Mercaldo. I was told that some of the kids were a bit scared, which I guess means it worked.

One of the cool things we did see was a tarantula in its hole. On Saturday night, one of the fathers brought a few of us over to show it to us. We didn't let the entire group know, largely out of fear that they might try to poke it with sticks. I didn't try to get a photo, as I didn't have an off-camera flash, and it was quite dark out.

On Sunday morning, Jacob was changing, and I saw a somewhat deep cut on his hip. He told me he got it from falling when he was playing. Fortunately the school nurse was on the trip (her son is in our den) and she cleaned and bandaged the cut.

After breakfast, our group went off-site and did some hiking and canoeing. I passed on the canoe trip, as I was concerned that it might hurt my knee and wrist.

When we were packing the tent up to leave, it rained for ten minutes. The timing was just impeccable. Jacob and I rode home with one of his friends instead of taking the bus. The trip was a lot shorter.

Overall, I still don't like camping very much. Jacob, however, had a very good time and looks forward to doing it again.

Thursday, February 18, 2010


Originally uploaded by ebvImages
I was looking at some of the photos that I took at the Cincinnati Zoo this summer. I've found that applying certain filters and making some adjustments makes some photos that I originally thought were not very good into something better.

When I was looking at the original photo of the eagle in this shot, the cage was visible in the background. I wanted to change the background to something else. At first I looked for a nice blue sky to place behind it. Then I remembered that I had a shot of a flag that I took at Cincinnati Union terminal. So using Photoshop layers, I created the image you see; imposing the eagle on the flag.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Snake Farm

Originally uploaded by ebvImages
Today I was a chaperon on Nalin's class field trip to the Red Cross Snake Farm here in Bangkok. In addition to Nalin, I had a girl Gayathri and a boy Santi in my group. I know Santi from the Cub Scouts, he played on Jacob's basketball team, and has been in Nalin's class before. He is a bit mischievous, but was on pretty good behavior today.

The Red Cross Snake Farm has venomous and non-venomous snakes. They study the snakes and work to create anti-venom to treat snake bites. While I'm sure the kids found it more exciting than a day in school, its not a place that I would recommend someone visit if they are in Thailand only a short time. If you live here, then sure, maybe its worth a visit. Here for two weeks; there are other things you might enjoy more.

There are snakes in some cages on the grounds of the Snake Farm. Inside, there are exhibits that educate people on the different types of snakes, what they eat, how they mate, etc. There is a show where they bring out snakes for the kids to see, and they even let them pose with a python of some sort. There is also a demonstration where they milk a cobra to extract its venom.

Nalin had a lot of fun on the trip. Even though Caroline wasn't in her group, I managed to get a photo of them together. I have some other photos that I'll upload and post later.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

All the Marbles?

Former Prime Minister Thaksin and his red shirt clad allies have been on the losing side of many court cases over the past few years. They've seen the courts dissolve two Thaksin-ally led governments, disqualify a number of their members for electoral fraud, and even found Thaksin guilty (of fraud I believe) and sentence him to jail. That does not even count the 111 former Thaksin allies who were banned from politics for five years shortly after the 2006 coup.

Despite these setbacks, the biggest case of all is coming to a head. On February 26th, the Thai Supreme Court will rule on a case involving Thaksin's seventy-six billion baht (about two billion dollars U.S.) fortune. Prosecutors claim that Thaksin abused his position as Prime Minister to enrich himself and his family members. The state is seeking to confiscate the entire fortune. Thaksin and his family, who claim part of the fortune is theirs, are vigorously disputing the governments contentions.

The seizure of these assets would not only take away Thaksin's wealth, but will dramatically weaken him politically. Despite having been deposed, convicted of a crime, and living in exile, Thaksin is still the de facto leader of the Peau Thai party; that is the party with the most members of any party in Parliament. Thaksin's continued power, however, lies in large part with his purse strings. He can control the party by providing the money that they need to get elected. If his fortune is forfeited to the state, I believe that his power will be dramatically weakened.

For his political opponents, I'm sure that nothing would make them happier than to see the courts plunge a metaphorical dagger into the heart of Thaksin. They would very much like to take away his treasure and power. The problem is that there is one other card that this once and perhaps future billionaire holds in his hand. He is very popular with a lot of the people in Thailand, particularly those in the North and Northeast. Thaksin is very much a billoinaire populist.

Thaksin was widely seen as helping the poor during his time as Prime Minister. Whether the corruption charges are true or false, many poor Thai people saw Thaksin as someone who stood up to the Bangkok elite; the wealthy upper class that looked down their noses at their more humble and less educated bretheren. Think about it from their perspective for a second. If old guard can bring down a man like Thaksin, a man who amassed a fortune in the billions and became Prime Minister, what chance does an ordinary farmer have? When men as powerful as Thaksin can be cast aside and stripped of most of what they own, how can a lowly farmer expect to be treated fairly?

The red shirts are going to rally in advance of the court verdict. If Thaksin is routed completely in the courts, his entire assets seized, I think the protests could get ugly.

As far as how the court will rule, I'm not certain. One thing that seems pretty clear is that Thaksin was already incredibly wealthy before he became Prime Minister. Even if he did as the government charges and used his position to enrich himself and his family, it would only account for part of his assets. I know that the prosecutors acknowledge this, but I think their play for the entire fortune is based in some part on lost revenue to the government based on his alleged self-serving deals.

My best guess is that they will find that he abused his position. This is based not so much on the facts of the case but on his track record with the courts. If this happens, it would be in the best interest of Thailand if only a portion of his assets were impounded to the state. I know in an ideal world, judged should perhaps be oblivious to political machinations. Whether that occurs in reality, I cannot say.

The next few weeks should be interesting.

Way Too Much Food

Foise Gras [25 of 365]
Originally uploaded by ebvImages
Today we celebrated the Chinese New Year and Valentine's day by having brunch at the Shangri-La's Next 2 lunch buffet with Tim's brother Top and his family. The buffet is pricey, but it does have a pretty nice selection of food and it has a entertainment for the kids.

I don't eat at a lot of buffets here in Thailand and lately I haven't really pigged out, but today was an exception. Foise gras, smoked salmon, lobster, shrimp, prime rib plus deserts are quite simply delicious. I was never a fan of "inner" meats, but foise gras is just amazing. Of course its kind of rich, but oh so good.

We got to the restaurant at about 11:45 and were there about three and a half hours. We weren't eating the whole time, but there is no pressure to hurry up and get out. The kids would run off to the play area for a while and then return for more food.

Tomorrow I'm going to have to get back into the workout mode again. Swimming is definitely on, but I'm not sure about running. I've really not had any desire to lift lately, but I know I should start that back up as well. Well, start for a week before I have surgery and am sidelined for a bit. I have to burn off some calories!

Happy Valentine's Day & Chinese New Year

Want to wish everyone a happy Valentine's day, as well as a Happy Chinese New Year.  One thing about living here in Thailand is that you get to celebrate the Western, Thai and Chinese New Years.  Well, two done, one still to go.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Not in Kansas

Not in Kansas
Originally uploaded by ebvImages
Last night was the premiere of ISB's elementary school production of the Wizard of Oz. Jacob played the part of Toto, that lovable dog that caused Dorothy to get caught in the tornado in the first place.

Actually Jacob was one of two people who played Toto. Most of the name roles had at least two people playing them. There were four Dorothy's in the production. I imagine that this was in part to get more people involved and in part to reduce the number of lines that anyone had to memorize.

While Toto didn't have much of a speaking part (he mostly barked, but did say "hey" at one point), he was on stage quite a bit. Jacob did a good job remembering his lines and acting out his part.

The entire group did a really nice job. At one point the Tinman forgot his line, and you could see Dorothy mouthing it to him. Still, they are 4th and 5th graders and really did a great job. The kids really put a lot of time in to practicing. Jacob had practice after school almost every day for a month.

The girls, Yaow and I went to the Thursday night show, as Tim was just getting back from India. I am going this afternoon, and Tim and I had planned on going tonight. Nalin and Aleena liked the show so much that I ended up buying tickets for them to come tonight as well.

Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon [22 of 365]
Originally uploaded by ebvImages
When I looked at my photos from the Grand Canyon, I was pretty disappointed with the results. Part of it was that I missed a planned sunset and sunrise, and part of it was that the photos I did take just didn't look that nice.

I processed the images as HDR (high dynamic range) images. At the time I thought they were okay, but looking back on them, they were oversaturated and not well done.

I find that when I review the things I've done before, I often thought they were good at the time, but now I look at them and cringe a bit. I just reworked this image today and I actually like it. In a few months if I look at it, I probably will wonder what I was thinking.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Tale of Two Ladyboys

I was looking through my photos again, so it was a great time to revisit some blogging topics.  This time I am going to talk about that ever popular subject in Thailand, the ladyboy.

Ladyboys, or katoey as they are known in Thai are better known in English as transsexuals.  Unlike in the U.S., and probably most Western countries, where they are on the very fringes of society, here ladyboys are quite common.  There is no open discrimination against them, although it seems like they are somewhat limited in their professions.  There are a lot of them in the sex industry, and also industries like hair dressing, waitressing and other occupations that have a higher concentration of female workers.

Ladyboys are still legally male here, as is indicated on their national identity card.  There is actually a movement to try to get a third gender recognized to deal with some of the issues of having them classified as males.  Right now they go to a male prison.  It doesn't take a lot of imagination to figure out the problems that this might cause.

Another issue is that Thailand has compulsory military service for males.  There was a photo in the Bangkok Post of recruits in a room awaiting a physical.  The ladyboy in pink stood out.  She was disqualified from service because she had a "disfigured chest".  I am going to try to use that excuse if I'm caught looking at a girls chest.  "It was so disfigured dear, I couldn't look away."

I've had very little direct dealings with ladyboys.  Sure, I've seen them in the grocery store on occasion, and certainly when walking around in Pattaya and Phuket.  There was a ladyboy who works in the Build a Bear store in Central Chaengwattana who I didn't realize was not a woman until she spoke.  She fooled Aleena however.

When I was visiting Phuket back in November 2008, I had three interactions with ladyboys.  The purpose of my trip was to take photos of the people at the Vegetarian Festival, where the participants pierce their face with various sharp instruments.   After one morning of taking photos, a pair of katoeys came up to me and asked me to take their photo.  They were very nice about it so I did.  They didn't ask me for money or harass me in any way.

The Third Gender

In the evening, I took a stroll down  Bangla Road in Patong beach.  As I walked by Soi Crocodile (small street named Crocodile), I saw a group of five or six ladyboys in full dresses and costumes.  They approached everyone who walked by to try to get them to take photos, come see the show, and perhaps even a private show if that is one's desire.  It wasn't mine.  The girls were very aggressive.  I did give the "girls" a small tip and took some photos.


Dude Looks Like a Lady

My final ladyboy experience came as I was walking down beach road the next day.  When you walk down beach road in Patong, you are bombarded with solicitations for taxis, t-shirts, suits, and massages.  A very attractive woman came up and stood just inches in front of me.  She offered me a massage which included "lip service" (she was more explicit) for about $30.  Naturally I decline.  As close as she was to me, I couldn't tell that it was not a woman.  The only reason that I figured it out was that the other people around her were very obviously ladyboys.  It did make me wonder how often her offer was accepted by someone who wasn't aware of the extra "package" she was bringing to the table.

I do want to go to a ladyboy cabaret show again.  I went back when I came to Thailand the first time back in 94.  I figure I'll get some decent photos for the blog.

Monks at Sukhothai

The orange robe clad monks are a common sight in Thailand. The monks follow a strict set of rules. They beg for their food, cannot eat after noon, and must refrain from things like smoking, drinking, sex, gambling and other vices. I read that there are 227 rules that monks follow.

Certainly, like any other persons, monks are human. I personally saw a monk buy snacks and a cigarette one evening. I even had a monk come and ask me for money when I was out with a Thai friend. My friend was embarrassed and my wife told me that it was completely improper behavior.

There are also rules in dealing with monks. One of the rules is that women cannot touch a monk nor he a woman. This led to a funny incident when Nalin, Aleena and another girl were out with Tim at a temple. The other little girl walked up to the monk, who took a step back. The girl stepped forward, and again the monk retreated. After this happened a few times, he managed to get Jacob to come over and stand in between himself and the girls.

Some Thai men become monks as teens and remain as such their whole lives. Others join later in life and server for many years. A former high ranking police officer who served many years in jail became a monk after his release.

Most Thai men become monks for at least a short time in their lives. Both of my brother-in-laws have done it at least once. Often this is done when they are young men. That might be why its not uncommon to see monks at the computer or mobile phone stores.

This is a shot that I took in Sukhothai last year. These two monks were taking photos of each other in front of the statue, so I assumed they were on the short term plan. I asked them if I could take their photos.

Its a shot that I wanted to look good. I really, really wanted it to look good, but truthfully, it did not look good at all. The sky was completely washed out and the monks were a little dark.

So I looked at it again with an eye to see if I could fix this shot. After some work, I think it looks a lot better than the image that I loaded into Lightroom. Of course, a lot of photos that I like others might not care much for.

Size Matters

Originally uploaded by ebvImages
When the photos come out of my Canon 40D, they are in a 6x4 perspective. Usually I'll crop them to be 5x7 or 8x10.

When I was looking at this photo, those perspectives didn't really show what I saw. I wanted to capture the rider as he went forward on the beach; the journey in front of him. I ignored the more conventional dimensions, and cropped the photo making it wider. I also played around with the color a bit.

One bad thing about this photo is that in the Flickr preview, you can't see the man on the horse. Oh well.

Horses are Horses Of Course

Originally uploaded by ebvImages
I'm revisiting some photos from my Lightroom catalog. I took this one in Hua Hinn last spring.

Originally, the photo was a little too dark and the contrast too low. This is what I came up with after playing around with it in Lightroom.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Inside Lane

Inside Lane
Originally uploaded by ebvImages
Those of you who spent some time in Thailand or have read my blog before know that the driving habits here are quite a bit different than back in the states. Motorcycles are the worst offenders; they drive on the wrong side of the road, on sidewalks, and weave in and out of traffic.

I was on Silom road one day when I saw this motorcyclist taking a bit of a shortcut. I think the light was red and you can't expect the guy to wait for the traffic light. I mean, there was a perfectly empty sidewalk in front of him. Heck, even if its not empty, people know to get out of the way, right?

Hanging Around

Hanging Around
Originally uploaded by ebvImages
Okay, so as a dad, I'm certainly not the most objective person in the world, but I think Nalin is a very pretty girl. I like to take her photo, but the problem is that when she poses, she often uses a very plastic and fake smile. So I like it when I get her in a candid shot when she is not expecting it.

I took this photo at one of the soccer games. Aleena was playing her game, while Nalin was playing later in the day. Nalin was climbing the monkey bars next to the field, and when she paused to watch the game, I took this shot.


I've been really tired the past couple of days.  This morning my alarm didn't wake me up and I awoke only ten minutes before the kids had to leave for school.  I'm not sure if it didn't go off or I just didn't hear it, but its unusual that I don't get up for my alarm clock.  Fortunately, Yaow already had the kids ready, so ten minutes after I woke up I was jogging behind Aleena as she rode her bike to school.  Along the way we had to stop and help Nalin fix her chain which popped off.

I had a decent swim this morning, then after eating actually took a bit of a nap.  In the afternoon, I decided to go for a run.  It was a fairly short run, only 4 kilometers or so. My plan was to actually hit the gym afterwards while Aleena was still in her swimming lessons.  As I'm walking, I stumble, rolling my ankle a bit and twisting my knee. The ankle is fine, but my right knee is bothering me.  That put an end to my plans to go out and take some photographs this evening. 

Hopefully it will be better tomorrow so I can go out and take some shots then.   

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Fireworks Shot

Fireworks [18 of 365]
Originally uploaded by ebvImages
When I first looked at the fireworks photos I took from the King's birthday celebration back in December, I mostly remembered having fun taking the photos (except for Nalin's nut allergy reaction) and being disappointed in how the photos turned out. Going in, I knew the photos might not turn out well, as I was going to play around with using the bulb mode.

In bulb mode, you manually control how long the shutter is open my holding down the shutter release. I would press the shutter button when I saw the firework start to explode, and then kind of estimate how long I should keep it open. Fortunately, the viewer on the camera gave me good immediate feedback.

The problem with the photos as I saw them was the smoke. There was so much smoke in the photos. There was a colored smoky cloud in so many of the shots.

When I looked at the shots again, I took the Lightroom paint brush and darkened the fireworks area. After I did this, I was a lot happier with the shots.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Aleena and the Flowers

Originally uploaded by ebvImages
Another photo of Aleena in Kanchanburi.

More Caves in Kanchanburi

Originally uploaded by ebvImages
Lugging the tripod and camera gear into the caves while we were in Kanchanaburi was not really fun. I also had trouble getting many decent photos, but a few turned out okay.

Out of Stock

I went to buy a light stand, clamp and a reflective umbrella for my flash unit, but the light stand was out of stock.  I went to a specialty camera store in the basement of Central Chaengwattana.  Its owned by the same people who own the one in MBK, which is probably the biggest camera shop in Thailand. 

The frustrating thing is that I almost bought the stuff a few weeks ago but decided to hold off.  I should have known better, as they frequently run out of things here.  

Friday, February 5, 2010

Up Against the Wall

Originally uploaded by ebvImages
I took this shot of Nalin while were were in Ayutthaya. I really like how the shot turned out, although I could do without the head in the background.

Following in his Footsteps

Tim is leaving today for a five day trip to India with her brother and the religious group with which he is associated.  They are going to visit important places in Buddha's life; where he was born, where he died, where he first gave a sermon and the famous bo tree under which he sat.

The kids and I are staying home.  The trip involves a lot of time in a bus or van and visiting temples.  Additionally, there are way too many things going on with the kids for them to miss school or me to be gone. 


Originally uploaded by ebvImages
Yes, soccer season is over, but Jacob really did improve as a goalie as the year went on. I managed to get a few good shots of him in action that I uploaded to Flickr and wanted to share here.

That Face

Originally uploaded by ebvImages
Here is a photo of Aleena when I told her that she had to ride her bike to school all by herself on Monday. Okay, not really, I took this a few months ago in when were were in Ayutthaya for the balloon festival.

When I tried to trick Aleena this evening into thinking that she had school tomorrow, she wasn't buying it one bit. She told me that she knew that there was no school because she had brought her water bottle and hat home (they do this every Friday) and that her teacher had said there was no school tomorrow.

Busy Day

Jacob had a really busy day today.  He had his normal school day which ends at 2:05 p.m.  Immediately after, he had a two hour rehearsal for the Wizard of Oz performance that he is in next week.  As soon as rehearsal ended, he changed into his baseball uniform for his game.  When the game ended, he and I changed and went to the Cub Scout Blue and Gold dinner.  So Jacob was pretty much going from 7:00 a.m. until 9:00 p.m.

The baseball game certainly had its share of excitement.  It was tied 8-8 going into the final (5th) inning.  The "visitors" scored 4 runs in their half of the inning.  At that point, it looked like a lot of the kids Jacob's team thought they were going to loose.   When they were still trailing by 3 runs with only one out to go, I wasn't sure they could pull it out, but they did.  They managed to score a total of 5 runs in the final inning for the win.  Of course its not just about winning and losing at this stage, but the kids do care, so it was nice that they did well. 

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Under the Knife

In a few weeks I'm going to have some surgery on my right hand.  Back when I was in college, I broke a small bone in my right wrist.  I'm not sure exactly how it happened because I woke up one morning and it was swollen.  I think that it might have occurred when I fell playing basketball, but at the time it had not really hurt.

About six months after the incident, I had a cast put on the hand.  The cast actually had some electric contraption around it that was supposed to help with healing.  So during my senior year of college, I had to learn to write with my left hand. When I took the GMAT, the entrance test for business school, and the testing facility offered to provide me someone to fill in the bubbles on the test.  I declined and managed to scratch myself to a score in the 98th percentile.

The treatment really didn't do anything to heal the injury.  Pretty much since the injury, I've had a limited range of motion in my right hand.  I can't do push-ups with my palms straight down, and I can only bend it back a little.  In addition to the movement limitations, it also causes me pain.  Sometimes the pain is pretty minimal, while other times it is extremely painful.

I've consulted doctors before, and essentially its now a matter of eliminating pain rather than regaining motion.  I had a few options, but the one I chose is one where the doctor will remove two bones from my wrist.  This should eliminate the pain, but causes a reduction in motion.  I spoke to the doctor, and he agreed that I might not experience any more loss of range of motion than I already have lost.  This procedure will have me in a cast for less than a week, and can be performed while I am conscious.

There was another alternative that involves trying to heal the bone through a metal screw and taking bone from my hip.  This would have been a good alternative if I had injured the wrist much more recently.  There is a chance it won't work, not even to eliminate the pain, and I won't gain any more motion than I already have.  Additionally, I would be in a cast for up to three months.  It just didn't seem like a good option, and the doctor agreed.

The doctor is a board certified hand surgeon, who worked at a major American medical center.  He speaks English pretty well.  I'm definitely not apprehensive having the procedure done here.

Its All Downhill

Its All Downhill
Originally uploaded by ebvImages
Sedona was really a beautiful place and I really enjoyed my brief visit there this past summer. I was there less than twenty-four hours, but the surrounding mountains and landscape is absolutely beautiful.

I took the Pink Jeep Tour's combination Broken Arrow and Scenic Rim tours. The Broken Arrow tour is exclusive to Pink Jeep. By exclusive, I mean that they are the only tour company allowed to give the tour, but it is on U.S. government land, so if you want to bring your four wheel drive vehicle and drive it yourself, you can. Just make sure that you know what you are doing, because if you have problems, you are largely on your own. Neither AAA or the government will come help you if you are stuck.

I ended up riding shotgun in the jeep, which was really great for photos because the windshield was down almost the entire trip.
I took my camera on the tour, but left the trusty ol' tripod in the rental car. It turned out to be a good decision, because we were only out of the car a few times. It was a little cloudy, which made it not only a little cooler, but made light a lot less harsh. I really couldn't have asked for a nicer situation.

This shot is one of the other jeeps driving down the forty-five degree angle slope.  After we rode down it, we drove a little way and stopped to wait for this jeep to come along so we could take photos.

The tour driver was pretty personable, but he was a little opinionated about things, and by the end of the tour, I was a bit annoyed with his hippy-lite philosophy.  Still, he was enthusiastic about the area, and even his annoying qualities couldn't diminish the trips enjoyment.  At one point he mentioned his interest in the space program, and it turns out that one of the other tourists worked on the Apollo program.  She had started as a secretary and moved up in the NASA organization, retiring in the last ten years.  It was mildly interesting the first time or two she mentioned it.  After the sixth or seventh time, I really just didn't care.  Still, not even close to annoying enough to spoil the mood.

I want to go back to Sedona and spend some more time there.  There is a lot of hiking available, and I didn't get to see some of the sites in my brief visit.  It was a lot more commercial than some of the other places I visited, but it was definitely different than other places I've been.

Pretty in Pink

Today was out of uniform day at ISB.  On the first Thursday and Friday school days of each month, the children do not have to wear their uniforms.  Even though there are two days for out of uniform, each child only gets to enjoy it one day, as the other day they must wear their PE uniform.  

Throughout the year they alternate days between their PE and regular uniforms.  On the days that 1st, 3rd, and 5th, etc wear the regular uniform, K, 2nd, 4th, etc. wear their PE uniform.  So Jacob and Aleena are on the same schedule and will be as long as they are at ISB (assuming neither has to repeat a grade).

So this morning, Aleena was wearing her pink shirt, pink shorts, and pink shoes, when she put on her pink helmet and rode her pink bike to school.  I just laughed when I saw it.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


Nalin started taking piano lessons this semester. She's only had two, but so far she's like it, and she also really enjoys playing the recorder in her music class.

Yesterday she got her first keyboard. I went and bought it over at Central. Central is the premiere chain of "malls" in Thailand. The one near our house is Central Chaengwattana, Chaengwattana being the street on which the mall is located. Only its not called a mall, because there is another mall that is named "The Mall". So if you say you are going to Central, you are really going to the mall. Although, there is also a department store within Central named Central, because in fact the Central "malls" started off as a department store. Sometimes they refer to the mall as a plaza, but not always.

Shopping center nomenclatures aside, Nalin really seems to enjoy her keyboard. We set it up in the girls play room. Our place has four bedrooms, but Nalin and Aleena share a room, and the other room has some of their toys in it. I'm going to buy Nalin some headphones so that she can practice some of the time without everyone else hearing, particularly early in the morning. Nalin is an early riser, especially on weekends, and is not always quit.

Canyon X Photos Revisited

A Passage
Originally uploaded by ebvImages
I've started to play around again with some of my photos from the summer. Some are photos that I had already shared, but processed a little differently, while others are photos that I had not yet processed.

Part of the reason for this is that often when I look in a folder, I'll see the photos differently than the times before. I'll see a photo and think, "I like that one, why haven't I done anything with it" or "it would look better if I ..."

I look back at a lot of the HDR images that I made of some photos and while I think they look "nice", the color is often oversaturated.

With this photo, the colors, while vibrant, are less saturated than others. I also tried to bring out contrast in the layers of rock. I really like this one. Hopefully you do too.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

First Day Riding

She did it!  Aleena rode her bike to school today for the first time, and I got a slow one kilometer jog to start off my morning. 

Aleena's first ride to school was a bit longer than Nalin's first ride, and she was a year younger.  When Nalin was in first grade she rode her bike to school, but it was probably only two hundred meters.  In fact, most of the time we lived in that place we just walked to school because by the time you parked your bike it was a little faster to walk.  Aleena was also easier to teach to ride the bike.  She didn't have a lot of accidents, and didn't yell at everyone within sight when she did.  When Nalin was learning, when she fell, she would yell at anyone around.  "Aleena, its your fault.   You were looking at me!"  she would scream in an angry and frustrated voice.  Aleena's only real complaint with riding her bike would be that she was tired and wanted to play instead. 

So this morning we left about ten minutes earlier than normal so that we would have fewer bikes sharing the path.  That strategy worked, as we didn't cause any major traffic jams due to our slow pace.  Aleena did a great job.  She had two stumbled.  Once she got her tires into the three inch drainage gap between the sidewalk and the bike path.  Its a terrible design, just a magnet for bike wheels.  The second time she actually tipped over onto the sidewalk.  At first I thought that she might cry on that one, but she was okay.  Ten or fifteen minutes after we started, were made it to school.  The guard let me park her bike in the front behind the other bikes.  I was grateful since I didn't want her to have to ride through the rows of parked bikes on her first day.  Sometimes bikes stick out too far in the aisle, or people block the aisle, so it would have been a little more challenging for her.

When we got to school I told her that I was going to tell her teacher.  "No, no!" she said.  We went to drop off her book bag at the classroom, and Tim stuck her head in and told the teacher.  Got me off the hook. 

The Kindergartner routine here when they arrive at school is to hang their book bags on the hook outside their classroom, go play on the "little toy" playground until the first bell rings, then line up by classroom.  The teacher assistants then come and take them to the classroom.  Aleena and a few of her friends always goes and washes her hands after the first bell and before getting in line.  For a while, she and her friend Suhani would go and pick up flowers off the playground.  Today, she was playing with Ryko, who was licking the top of a muffin that she had brought for breakfast. 

The downside of Aleena riding her bike, aside from my sweating on the way to school, is that I need to help her get home.  She is not ready for Yaow running next to her yet.  

Tomorrow's Plan

Aleena is learning to ride her bike. Actually, she has been able to ride it around the neighborhood for a while now, but we haven't practiced enough to try to ride to school.  One of the reasons is that Aleena is never that anxious to practice. 

Today, after two successful laps around the "block", I decided that we'd try to have her ride to school tomorrow.  She agreed.  Instead of riding my bike to school, I am going to job behind her, in case she has problems.  This could be fun.  We actually did try it once before when she was learning to ride, but that was with a bigger bike, and she had a lot of trouble handling it. I ended up walking most of the way to school with her that day and picking the bike up on the way back. This bike is a lot smaller, and she can control it much more easily.

The one bad thing is that I have to walk back home, and then possible walk to school when I pick her up so I can follow her on the way home.  Should be fun.  One of those "moments".  I'd take my camera, but I'm not sure I want to carry it while I run.  Okay, I'm sure that I don't want to carry it while I run.


Earlier this month, I activated Google Analytics for my blog.  Analytics counts and analyzes the traffic to the web site.  I was interested in seeing how many people (if any) were actually looking at the blog. 

Generally there are between ten and twenty people who visit the blog a day.  A total of 113 people have visited (probably based on IP address).  The funny thing is that the most visited individual page is my write up on katoey.  I guess transvestites are a lot more interesting than the other things that I write about.  Oh well. 

Monday, February 1, 2010

Glowing Apple

Glowing Apple
Originally uploaded by ebvImages
I was reading an article on photography when I ran across a photo of a "glowing" piece of fruit. I thought it was a pretty cool idea, so I gave it a try today.

The key to this is to hollow out part of the apple and place the flash behind it. This of course requires that you have an off camera flash and that you can trigger it remotely. I have a Canon 430 EX II, which is their mid-tier flash. I wish I had bought the 580 EX II, but that is another story.

A wireless flash system can be pretty expensive. You can easily spend hundreds of dollars for a good system. I ended up buying a cheap setup (under $30) on eBay. It is not 100% reliable, so I wouldn't want to use it if I were involved in a professional photo shoot, but for my purposes it works well enough.

I hollowed out the back of the apple, then placed my flash inside a clear plastic bag (to protect it) and inserted it into the opening in the apple. I played around with the aperture and shutter speed for a while until I found something that I liked.

Originally, I wasn't even looking for a reflection shot. I had the apple on a black tee-shirt sitting on the bed. When I moved it to the floor, I noticed the reflection on the first shot and liked it.

I want to do this again with some more fruit. This wasn't a bad first attempt, but I think there is definitely room for improvement. I had fun doing it, and I ate the subject when I was done. Can't do that on most of my photos.

To the Moon

Moon! [12 of 365]
Originally uploaded by ebvImages
I saw a bunch of photos of the moon on Flickr over the past few days, so I decided to give it a try. One of the issues with photographing the moon is that it is actually smaller than you might think. Well, I know its actually massive in size, but in relation to the rest of the sky, it takes up only a small fraction.

Because of its relative small size, it helps to have a really good zoom lens. The best zoom lens that I have is my Canon 70-200 2.8 USM IS. I also have a 1.4 extender, which effectively makes it a 90-280 lens. So all the way zoomed out, I could shoot at 280 mm. Even racked out (at maximum zoom), the moon only took up about five percent of the photo. The rest was night sky.

I first tried shooting it according to the camera's recommended exposure in aperture priority mode, and as I fully expected, it was over exposed. This is because the moon is so much brighter than the area around it. I might have been able to change the metering and shoot in AV mode, but instead I switched to manual mode and did a little trial and error.

After importing the photos to Lightroom, I touched them up a bit. The biggest thing I had to do was crop the photo so that the moon wasn't this small dot in the photo.

Oh, and did you know that Thai people don't talk about the man in the moon, rather the rabbit. If you look at it, the ears at the top left, the head bellow it, then the body, and the bottom right is the tail.