Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Parent Teacher Conferences & Ancient Temples

Tomorrow we have the parent teacher conferences for Jacob, Nalin and Aleena.  The conferences are on Thursday and Friday, so the kids are off school.

A few weeks ago, ISB sent out sign up sheet where you designated your preferred time slot.  We picked Thursday morning as our preferred slot, as it would give us a long weekend free.  Fortunately, we received the 7:35, 8:10 and 8:45 timeslots.  We've always gotten our first or maybe second choices.  I think that having three kids might help, as for some reason I think they slot people with multiple kids first.  It would make sense as its easier to find three spots in a row at the beginning of scheduling rather than at the end.  Of course if you can't make it during the scheduled time, you can always make other arrangements to meet the teacher.

Tim and I decided to go to Cambodia and visit Angkor Wat.  We'll leave Friday morning and return Monday evening.  Yaow will be watching the kids while we are gone.  We've wanted to go to Angkor Wat for quite a while.  I remember playing one of the earlier Civilization computer games and building a "wonder" in the game named Angkor Wat.  Now I'll get to see the real thing.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Flash Problem

Today I slung my camera over by back and after a few seconds, felt it shift in a way that I knew was a problem. The glue that I had put on the flash had failed, and it cracked open, exposing the wires.  One of the wires is now disconnected.

The flash itself fires when I hit the test button, but it is not fired off by the camera because of the loose wire.  I don't have a sodering kit, so I plan on taking it to a shop somewhere to get the wire sodered.  If I take it to Canon, it will take weeks and cost a fortune, and I think the risk of having it fixed is pretty small.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

No 3G For You & A Crappy Constitution

Thailand's appeals' court upheld the injunction on the 3G license.  Its believed that Thailand could be four years away from having an operation 3G network.  So right about the time when 3G will be useless for business and personal use, they will be ready to roll it out.

The court's ruling is based on the 2007 constitution drafted by the coup makers and imposed on Thailand (I mean shoved down the people's throat) and tepidly approved by the Thai people (it was that or the coup leaders stayed in control).  The 2007 constitution is one of these modern type constitutions where the "enlightened" eggheads try to enumerate so many details.  The constitution actually dictates who should be in charge of licensing of frequencies.

Its brevity is part of the beauty and genius of the U.S. Constitution.  Its sets up the basic relationship of the people and their government, and leaves the rest to them.  It recognizes that the government is one of the people.  Here, its kind of the people's government, so long as they chose who the powerful approve of wisely.

A Day

Today was a pretty average day.  Jacob's basketball team lost their first game of the season.  They didn't play well, but their opponent had some of the top kids in the league on it.  Jacob did a nice job on defense, he really hustled, which you have to do when you are on of the smallest kids on the court. 

Nalin's class is reading a book called The City of Embers.  They are tying in science with the reading, and her project is to create a flashlight that could help the characters in the book explore.  Of course, parental help was allowed.  After experimenting with different sized light bulbs and wires, she was able to get her prototype to work.  The final project isn't due for another week and a half, but they have to bring in some photos tomorrow to show that they are making some progress. 


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In the last month or so, I had started playing World of Warcraft (Wow) again.  I had not played more than a dozen hours in almost two and a half years when I started back up.  Part of the reason was that I hadn't been as passionate about photography lately.  I've taken photos, mostly of the kids, but I just didn't feel it. 

One of the challenges with playing Wow now is that I have a lot of free time.  I was playing quite a bit, and was enjoying the game.  Today, however, I decided it was enough, so I deleted some characters, did something to try to get my account banned (but that didn't work, in part because I didn't try very hard) and finally reset my authenticator on my iTouch.  The authenticator is an anti-hacking protection measure.  The authenticator is tied to your account, and generates an eight digit code that you have to enter as apart of your login.   By resetting it, I am unable to log into my account.

The problem that I have is that I forgot to cancel my monthly subscription before I reset it.  Now I have to go through the billing department to get that straightened out. 

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia is again expressing outrage with Thailand as one of the police officers allegedly involved with the disappearance and possible death of a Saudi businessman in 1990 is up for a promotion.  Somkid Boonthanom is up for the position of assistant national police chief.

The officer was given amnesty for the administrative charges under a blanket amnesty on the King's birthday in 2007, but the criminal charges still exist.  The PM has explained that the Saudi Arabian government does not understand the situation, and that he will explain it to him.  He has stated that under Thai law, the promotion is legal.

I think that Saudi Arabia understand perfectly well.  Thailand continues to thumb its nose at Saudi Arabia over incidents that arose from the theft of jewels from Saudi Arabia back in 1990 or so.  The Thais involved in the aftermath must be very powerful people or have very powerful protectors because Thailand has basically sacrificed its relationship with Saudi Arabia over the matter.  The Peau Thai (red shirt) party said the promotion of Somkid Boonthanom was as a reward for his suppression of the red shirts in the north.

I can almost imagine the honest conversation that the PM might have.  "Yes, a Thai stole your crown jewels.  Of course several Saudi Arabians were murdered here in the aftermath.  But these are powerful people.  Can't you just act like a good Thai and pretend nothing happened?"

Saudi Arabia has denied that the possible promotion caused them to deny visas to three hundred Thai Muslims' visit to Mecca.  The Saudi Arabian government said this was due to a technical problem.  Thailand has a small, but significant Muslim population, and if some how this problem led to them not being able to fulfill their visiting Mecca, it would be very sad.  Of course, the people responsible might not care so much.


Happy Anniversary to the Coup

Four years ago today, the military overthrew the elected government of Prime Minister Thaksin.  Whatever the former-PM's short comings at the time, or his terrible decisions since, this day was blow to democracy in the kingdom. 

I understand the necessity of a military coup in the case where there is a dictatorship and the people do not have a viable way to replace their leaders.  The Thai elections, while hardly free from fraud (mostly bribing voters), are not the sham that is the upcoming election in Myanmar (Burma).  For better or worse, the Thai people had chosen Thaksin's Thai Lak Thai (Thai Love Thai) party to lead.  If the majority were dissatisfied, then they could have made a different selection at the polls during the last election.

Instead we've had four more years of political and economic turmoil.  A large part of the country, mostly the poor, rightly feel disenfranchised, and that the powerful only respect elections when its convenient for them.  Thailand has made the news in the last few years, but for all the wrong reasons.  Instead of being known as a place to vacation and do business, its becoming better known as a place for bloody protests  and airport closures. 

One just hopes that maybe those responsible will at some point in their lives realize the consequences of what they did.  Maybe there will be at least a few moments of clarity when they will realize the blow that they struck to their country and its people.  On second thought, maybe they already know, but just don't give a shit. 

Blow to 3G

There was supposed to an auction for the 3G licenses in Thailand starting this Monday.  However, one of the smaller telecom players, who was not part of the bidding, successfully filed a lawsuit based on the grounds that the government agency, the NTC (National Telecommunications Commission) didn't have the legal authority.

Apparently the 2007 constitution, promulgated by the 2006 coup makers, requires the setup of the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC).  Somehow, with all the political in fighting, protesting and grabs for power, no-one has been able to get this done in three years.  The government says it will be done by the end of the year or next year.

Its surprising that it hasn't been done, in that I'm sure the licensing scheme has the potential to make decision makers rich.  Truly, that seems to be what drives most behavior here.  The reds, yellows, browns (police) and green (military) are all the same here.  Personal enrichment at the expense of everything else.  If it cost your country billions so that you can make a few hundred thousand, isn't that a small price to pay. 

Thailand is actually falling behind Cambodia in 3G.  Businesses are claiming, no doubt accurately, that this is costing a lot of money and opportunity.  I wonder if Thailand will get 3G coverage before the U.S. and the Western nations have moved on to 5G. 

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Friday

The kids are off of school today for some ISB holiday.  I'm not quite sure why they are off for this one, but they are certainly happy with it.  Tim is taking off work tomorrow for a short weekend trip.  We aren't leaving until the afternoon because Jacob has a basketball game that starts at noon. 

Last night at Jacob's basketball practice, I was guarding a couple of kids before practice and twisted my ankle.  So now I'm limping around the house. 

Started playing around with the sound trigger for my camera.  Popped some water balloons, but the water splashed a lot farther than I expected, so I'm now having to cover everything in plastic.  The challenge is that I need to do it indoors during the day, because the room needs to be dark.  That way I can leave the camera in bulb mode (hold open the shutter manually) and the only light is from the flash.  When I get a few more I'll put them on Flickr and the blog.

Health Week - Attack of the Fruit Kabobs


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Originally uploaded by ebvImages
As part of Health Week, the PTA asked parents to bring in fruit kabobs today. A fruit kabob is four or five bite size pieces of fruit on a wooden stick.

The students went to the ES gym where the high school students and some of the teaches had set up stations to teach the younger ones about healthy eating. It was a lot of "sugar is bad, vegetables are good."

At one station, they were asking the kids if they ate certain things for breakfast that morning. There was one boy in Aleena's class who raised his hand for about five things; including three kinds of cereal and pancakes. I think he was just caught up in the moment.

I took my camera and took some photos while I was there. I was fortunate to get a photo of Aleena and some of her friends.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Gymnastics


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Originally uploaded by ebvImages
This year Aleena and Jacob started taking gymnastics after school. Well, Jacob took them in the states for a while, but he hadn't done it in years.

Health Week


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Originally uploaded by ebvImages
This week the ISB PTA is sponsoring health week, where they encourage kids to engage in healthy behaviors, such as exercising and eating right. Today the kids were supposed to walk to school (although riding bikes was also considered good behavior).

The kids who rode their bikes or walked to school received a voucher for a free fruit smoothie (aka a Twist). I was one of a couple of people asked to take some photos of the kids walking and biking to school.

I heard through the grape vine that some parents weren't happy that the PTA was dictating to the kids how they would get to school. The PTA did no such thing. They rewarded the kids for walking or biking, which I don't think is a bad thing. They certainly didn't force anyone to ride their bike. The parking lot to the school was open as always. In fact, it would be impossible for the school to require all students to walk or ride a bike, as many take buses from downtown Bangkok.

My guess is that some kids in Nichada really wanted to walk to school, and the parents didn't want to be bothered. Hey, I have no problem with that. Just tell your kid "no, we aren't walking". I have no problems disappointing my kids, in fact, I kind of look at it as part of my job as a dad.

While the focus is on the health of the kids, the health of my camera was in serious question today. I had it slung over my back with my flash and largest lens (Canon 2.8 IS USM 70-200 for those of you keeping score) and I tried to move it to adjust it a bit. I must have hit the quick release and the camera, lens and flash crashed to the floor. Batteries flew everywhere, and even the battery door for the battery pack flew off.

The first few words out of my mouth were not "oh darn". After a bit of checking, it appears that everything still works. The flash has a crack in the casing, but it is not anything major. I want a new camera, but I'd prefer to buy it because I want it, not because I no longer have one that works.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Basketball & Birthdays

This weekend was pretty busy so far.  Jacob had a double header basketball weekend; one game on Friday night and the other that started at noon on Saturday.  They won both games to remain undefeated and tied for first in their league.  Jacob played pretty well in both games.  He played some pretty good defense, picked up a few rebounds, and scored.

Normally the Saturday game ending at 1:45 p.m. isn't a big deal, but it caused some issues today because we were celebrating Aleena, Nalin, Noodee and Pad's birthday at Funarium in downtown Bangkok.  Tim had scheduled the party before the schedule was released, so she told everyone to be there at 1:00, with the party room opening at 2:00.  The plan was that Tim would go with the kids at 12:30, and then Jacob and I would take a cab after his game.

Tim got hung up at work, and actually didn't end up making it to the party until 3:30.  Fortunately, McKayla and Pleng's mothers sent their drivers and nannies to our house.  They were going to all drive over together with Tim, but instead were able to take Yaow and the kids before either Tim or I got home.

After Jacob's game, he and I grabbed a cab and got the the party at 2:30.  Shortly after, they started the games with the kids, followed by food, more games, and cake.

Everyone seemed to have a good time.  I took some photos, but its always a bit more challenging indoors in poor lighting.  I know, no excuses; a good photographer would get it done.



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McKayla, Aleena, Nyla and Kaylee.  Yes, Aleena and McKayla planned to wear identical outfits.  They have 2 or 3 sets of matching clothes.  

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Aleena and Pleng.  

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Noodee and Jacob.