Monday, May 31, 2010

Crazy Hair Day

Today is crazy hair today at ISB.  The kids are all encouraged to make their hair look, well, crazy.  My kids eagerly participated this morning.  Nalin in a grumpy mood, however, and Aleena was a bit shy when she got to school.  Aleena is very laid back and relaxed most of the time, but she does not like to stand out.

Here are some photos:

Sunday, May 30, 2010

At the Falls

Originally uploaded by ebvImages
I took this photo back in December when we visited Kanchanaburi. I had to do some Photoshoping to remove a few other people from the shot. I could have done a better job in a few places, but ts not like I'm selling this. I just loved the girls expression and the background of the waterfalls.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Curfew Ends

The Prime Minister announced today that they will not extend the curfew that was imposed after the violence broke out a few weeks back.  The length of the curfew has gradually shortened from 8:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. until 11:00 p.m. to 4:00 am.

The curfew had been lifted in Pattaya more than a week ago.  It makes sense, as a large part of the Pattaya economy occurs in the evening.

Second Show

The girls did their second dance show this afternoon.  Tim and Yaow went this time.  I had planned on Tim and I going, so I had bought only two tickets.  Since I had to send Yaow out on Thursday to get flowers, I let her go with Tim.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Immigration Humor

I'm filling out a DS-160 immigration form for someone.  In order to get a visa, we had to answer the following questions:

  • Do you seek to engage in espionage, sabotage, export control violations, or any other illegal activity while in the United States?
  • Do you seek to engage in terrorist activities while in the United States or have you ever engaged in terrorist activities? 
  • Have you ever or do you intend to provide financial assistance or other support to terrorists or terrorist organizations? 
  • Are you a member or representative of a terrorist organization? 
  • Have you ever ordered, incited, committed, assisted, or otherwise participated in genocide?
  • Have you ever committed, ordered, incited, assisted, or otherwise participated in torture?
  • Have you committed, ordered, incited, assisted, or otherwise participated in extrajudicial killings, political killings, or other acts of violence?
  • Have you, while serving as a government official, been responsible for or directly carried out, at any time, particularly severe violations of religious freedom?

The application does not explicitly say so, but one can only assume that answering yes to any of these questions would result in the denial of your application.  While I think those are good grounds, I have to wonder if people really every answer yes to these questions.  If you are a terrorist, would you admit it in a U.S. visa application?  Would a wanna be terrorist think that they could admit it and get a visa?

Maybe they put the questions on the form because it looks like they are doing something.  Perhaps they do it so they can add another criminal charge if the terrorists manages to get into the country.  "Ha, you think you are trouble for blowing up buildings, we've got you dead to rights on lying on an immigration form."

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Nalin's & Aleena's Dance Recital

Yesterday was the first performance of Nalin's and Aleena's dance recital.  The next performance is tomorrow afternoon.

Aleena is in in the Song and Dance class, and they performed as little strawberry shortcakes to the song Strawberry Kisses.  She did a great job.  They were all so cute in their little strawberry outfits.

Nalin is studying jazz, and she and her group performed to a medley of Michael Jackson songs.  The difference between last year and this year were remarkable.  This year Nalin was much more confident and performed so much better.  She didn't hesitate or watch other people; she knew her moves and did them well.  It was a great performance.

There was one hitch before the show.  I forgot to get flowers, so we had to send Yaow to get them.  She missed the very beginning of the show, which unfortunately was when Aleena performed.  She is going to the Saturday show.

Afterwards we went to Fuji at Central Chaengwattana for dinner and then to Swensens for ice cream.  Overall it was a great time.


Saturday, May 22, 2010

More Photos from the Water Rocket Day

Nalin & Aleena at Rocket Day

Originally uploaded by ebvImages

Water Rocket Day

Originally uploaded by ebvImages
Today was the Cub Scout water rocket day. The kids make rockets out of two liter bottles. They launch them with water and air pressure. In addition to launching the water rockets, they also had a water balloon toss and a couple of slip n' slides.

Jacob had a great time, as did the girls. I took a bunch of photos today, one of the first times in three or so weeks.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Centralworld Collapses

The Bangkok Post is reporting that the fires set, presumably by red shirt protesters, has caused Centralworld to start to collapse.  Centralworld is one of the biggest malls and shopping centers in Bangkok.  Its truly sad.  It seems pretty clear that some people are of the attitude that if they can't control Thailand, they'd rather just destroy it. 


Tim was invited to a wedding tonight, but due to the unrest, she won't be able to attend.  While Tim doesn't know the bride or groom, most people in Thailand due.  The bride is actually a Thai movie star that Yaow described as one of the most popular in Thailand.  The groom is the son of a very wealthy family.  Tim got the invitation because of some connections at work.  She had planned on taking the girls to the wedding.

School Closed

Due to the unrest, the kids school is closed tomorrow.  As you might expect, they are much more enthusiastic about this than am I.


I have lived most of my life in two cities (or their suburbs), Bangkok and Cincinnati.  Each has had a riot and government imposed curfew while I lived there.  Cincinnati had riots in 2001 after the police shot a young black man, and of course there is a riot in Bangkok right now. 

Fortunately, in both cases, I never had reason to fear my safety.  While the curfew in Cincinnati during the 2001 riots were city wide, the violence and problems were confined to a small area.  The city government didn't want to offend anyone by restricting the curfew to the areas affected by the riot, so they pretended it was a city wide issue and imposed the curfew on everyone.  While the violence here is mainly restricted to the downtown, there are some pockets of problems in other places.  The area that we live in, however, is restricted access and it is extremely unlikely that we would have any problems. 

Still, if I have grand children some day, I can tell them that I lived through the 2001 Cincinnati riots as well as the Bangkok 2010 riots.  If I ever do move to a different city, they better watch out.    


Apparently some of the red shirt followers are not happy with the leaders decision to turn themselves in.  There are reports of fire and vandalism throughout the city.  The government has instituted a curfew of 8:00 p.m. for the city. 

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Ratcheting Up It

Today the government really upped their efforts against the red shirts.  They used armored personnel units and recaptured at least part of the rally site.  There have been four people killed in skirmished, including an Italian reporter, and some violence broke out in other parts of the city.

The Bangkok Post is reporting that many of the red shirt leaders are going to surrender to authorities early this afternoon.  It looks like the red shirts are going home.

This just showcases the enormous stupidity of the red shirt leaders.  Ten days ago they had an offer for new elections, the deputy PM had seemingly succeeded to their demands to turn himself in to police over the April 10th violence, and the PM had offered immunity for violations of the emergency decree (but not for other criminal acts).  Instead of realizing that they had gotten more concessions than they could ever hope for, they made more demands and refused to end the rally.  Now, ten days and forty plus deaths later, the leaders are going to be in custody, and new elections are no longer on the table. 

Don't get me wrong, the government made its share of mistakes along with way, although I don' think that using force to disperse the rally was one of them.  You simply can't let five, ten, or even one hundred thousand people just shut down part of your city indefinitely. 

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Holidays, Embassy Closing and a Bit of a Rant

Thailand has delayed the start of at least some schools for ten days due to the protests.  The PM declared Monday and Tuesday national holidays in order to keep people away from the protest site.  The U.S Embassy will also be closed on Monday and Tuesday, and it has authorized family members of Embassy staff to leave Thailand if they wish. 

The protesters and some "human rights groups" have called on the U.N. to intervene to ensure the safety of the protesters.  I agree with the government that this is an internal Thai affair, and participation from a foreign government or the U.N. would not be helpful. 

Its still amazing to me that they allow the protests to last so long here.  Can you imagine, for example, a group of twenty thousand Tea Party members occupying Times Square for two months, shutting down commerce in the area, and refusing to disperse?  I am not against the Tea Party, but if they conducted an unlawful protest and were ordered to stop, I would definitely support the use of force restore law and order. 

The protests are unlawful and should be ended.  The red shirts claim that this was about democracy was exposed as a lie when they refused to disperse after the PM offered elections in November.  This would have required him to dissolve the Parliament in September, leaving the government in power for only another four months.  They had achieved more of a victory than I thought they would have.  Truthfully, I thought that the army would have cracked down on them much earlier and much harder. 

The problem is that while new elections gave the red shirts the chance to recapture a majority in government, it did not give the man that many believe is funding this entire protest what he wanted.  For the former Prime Minister in exile, four more months of the current government is a huge problem.  During this time, the government could bring additional civil and criminal charges against him.  The verdict that allowed the government to seize almost a billion and a half dollars from him also exposed him to further potential criminal and civil sanctions.  The current government has been more than willing to pursue these charges.  If the government were immediately dissolved and a more friendly red shirt government elected, many of the former PM's problems would go away. 

I'm sure some of the red shirt leaders are also worried about their own legal status.  They violated the law by unlawfully gathering.  Yesterday twenty-seven red shirts were sentenced to six months in jail for violating the emergency decree and gathering at Ratchaprasong. 

Still, the red shirt followers seem to love the former PM.  Its like they are the plain looking girl, and he is that first guy who kissed her and told her that he loved her.  It doesn't matter that he uses her, cheats on her, and always leaves her to suffer for his mistakes, she still loves him.    

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Women & Children

There was something on the news about the problem that there are women and children at the protest site, and the concern that they may be injured.  And while we often chivalrously group them together, they are two completed different cases.

The children should not be a the protest site.  The parents who have their kids there are knowingly putting them in danger.  I understand that the kids were there in the beginning when it was safe.  Its not been safe for a while, and the decision to keep the kids there is indefensible.  Even if the parents wanted the kids there, the red shirt leadership should make them leave. 

As far as the women go, I really don't feel any sympathy for adult women at the site.  They chose to go there, and they chose to stay.  If they feel like they are in danger, they can leave.  Is an unarmed man any less vulnerable to a gunshot than an unarmed woman?  I'm not for the wanton killing of people, but these are grown ups. 

There was a story that the women were afraid to leave because they would be shot or killed by the soldiers.  Its absolute and utter bullshit.  If they announced to the soldiers and the media that a group of women wanted to leave, there is absolutely no chance that they would be fired upon.  The army is letting people leave the rally, and if you peacefully approach the barricade, they are going to let you go.  They want the rally to end.

I really don't think the red shirt leaders want the women and children to leave.  They know that the soldiers are instructed to not shoot women and children, so they want them there for cover.  A few weeks ago, when some red shirts up north tried to prevent police reinforcements from coming to Bangkok, they lined the women in front, while the men stood behind and threw things at the police.  The women and children here at the protest site make it more difficult for the government forces to use force.  The red shirt gunmen are interspersed in the crowd.  When we say women and children first, I don't think we mean first to get hurt. 

You can't credibly claim to care about the safety of women and children while you stand behind them and shoot at or throw objects at the police and army. 

Protest Update

Things have gotten ugly in the Ratchaprarop area of Bangkok.  Sixteen people have died and more than one hundred and fifty have been injured in clashes between protests and the army and police.  The police have declared the area  a live fire zone and have prohibited civilians and journalists from entering the area.

The red shirts have demanded that the army cease its crack down and return to the negotiating table.  The army seems determined cut off the food and supplies to the protesters in order to end the two month long protests.  The government's wants to end the protests this weekend, as Thai schools start back up on Monday, and some of them will be unable to due to the current situation.

In the past, I have had some sympathy for the red shirt cause.  However, I think they are definitely in the wrong here, and are responsible.  The Prime Minister actually alienated some of his supporters in reaching out to the red shirts by offering elections in November.  The red shirts said they supported the compromise.  Unfortunately, the red shirts really seem to not understand the idea of a compromise.  They seem only able to make demands.  Clearly the reason that the PM offered the new election was as part of an end to the protests that have hurt the city and the country.  The red shirts refused to end the protest.  Actually, they put a condition forth that they thought would be rejected, and when the deputy PM turned himself in to the police as demanded, they changed the demand yet again. 

Nalin at Her Piano Recital

This morning Nalin had her first piano recital. She started taking lessons in January. She did a pretty nice job, although I can't at the moment remember name of the piece she played.

We were actually pretty fortunate in that we picked the 10:30 performance instead of the 1:00 show. There were twice as many performers for the 1:00 show.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Visa Interview

Yaow's immigration visa interview was scheduled for tomorrow morning.  We received an email this afternoon, stating that the U.S. Embassy was closed to all non-essential personnel, and that the interview was rescheduled for next week.  Guess it will take another week to find out whether I'll have help or not when I travel to the states.


Father Daughter Dance

Originally uploaded by ebvImages
I've been in a bit of a photographic funk lately. I actually cut short my photo trip to Chiang Mai, taking only a few photos there.

For the first time in more than a year and a half, I went a week without taking a photo at all. The father daughter dance was this past Saturday, and I set up to take some photos of the girls in their dresses. I'm not exactly sure why, but I got really frustrated and only took a few photos before just deciding that I'd had enough.

Not only didn't I take photos, I didn't want to even open Lightroom and look at what I'd taken. Today, I finally looked at the photos, processed some, and uploaded them to Flickr. I posted a handful of the girls .

Cracking Down

Its been a little while since I've given an update on the protests, so I guess this is a good time. Up until the beginning of the week, it looked as though the protests were going to end peacefully and the city would return to a semblance of order.  Well, that illusion is shattered.

The red shirt leaders had expressed support for the Prime Minister's five point plan and November elections.  The PM pressed them to end the rally, and it appears as if there was a split in the red leadership; some wanted to end the rally, while others did not.  It is not know for certain what former Prime Minister Thaksin's opinion was on the proposal, but since it did not appear to benefit him by eliminating his legal trouble or ending his political ban, my guess is that he was not an enthusiastic supporter.

On Sunday, the PM told the red shirts that he wanted to know by Monday if the red shirts would support the road map, and to announce when they would end the rally.  They responded with their "red map", which included having the PM and deputy PM investigated for the April 10th shootings.  They said that they would end the rally when the deputy PM Suthep turned himself over to the police for his role in the April 10th rally.

Its a funny thing when you promise to do something if your opponent meets a demand that you are certain they will reject.  Well, the deputy PM turned himself into the police on the charges.  The red shirts cried foul, saying that he had not turned himself over to the correct police department, so they said they wouldn't end the rally. 

This evening, the police surrounded the protest area, turned off the water and all telephone service.  They are letting people leave the rally site, but will not let anyone in.  The electricity has not yet been shut off, so as to try to minimize the impact on residents in the area.

Around 7:30 p.m., things took a serious turn as the red shirt leader, Maj. Gen. Kattiya Sawasdipol, known as Seh Dang (red shirt) was shot in the head by a gunman.  He is at the hospital in critical condition. 

The next few days are going to be tense, as it seems as though the government is going to try to end the rally.  The military has been reluctant to use force to break up the protests.  I'm not sure if this signals a willingness to use force, or if the shootings were isolated.  In fact, we don't know for certain that the gunman who shot Seh Daeng was associated with the army, police or government. 

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Nalin's Helmet

When we were in Chiang Mai, we did some rafting. The water was low, so it wasn't as fun as it might have been in a different season.

3 Kids at Songklon

Originally uploaded by ebvImages
We were waiting to start our Songklon celebration when I took this one. The kids are wearing songklon shirts.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Father Daughter Dance

Girls are getting ready for the father-daughter dance.  This year I have two "dates".  They are looking forward to it much more than am I.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

An End to the Red Madness?

It looks like the red shirt protests might be over soon.  The Prime Minister has proposed a road map to reconciliation that includes new elections on November 14th.  He laid five conditions down in order for that to happen.  The red shirt leaders have apparently agreed, so it is very likely that the protests will end in the coming weeks.  A poll showed that sixty percent of people supported it and only fifteen percent opposed. 

Interestingly, this is not a huge move from the Prime Minister's earlier position.  When they started negotiations a month or so back, he apparently floated the idea of elections in nine months, which the UDD flatly rejected. 

Its not clear who really "won".  The red shirts will get their election, although I'm not sure that the prolonged rally, particularly the invasion of the hospital will help their cause.  The government will get a few months to operate without focusing virtually all its attention on the protests.  At least the Thai people will get back to a "normal" life, at least for a little while. 

Monday, May 3, 2010

Rational Debate

Glad to read and hear that my fellow countrymen back home are able to rationally discuss immigration issues, particularly the new laws in Arizona, without resorting to hyperbole and name calling.  Oh wait, we can't. 

Seriously, enough with the nazi comparisons already.  I haven't read the specifics on the bill, but I'm certain that Arizona is not going to round up illegal immigrations, place them in concentration camps and gas them.  You can disagree with the law and believe that it violates personal liberties and even that it is unconstitutional without such ridiculous exaggerations.  In my mind, such comparisons trivialize the brutality and inhumanity of what the Nazi's did and shows me in no uncertain terms that the speaker doesn't know what the hell they are talking about.