Monday, December 5, 2011
Saturday, December 3, 2011
Sunday, November 27, 2011
Wednesday, November 23, 2011
One thing that I couldn't get here, was a long (30 feet) flash sync cable. The cable allows complete control of the flash when it is not in the camera's hotshoe. Since I couldn't find the cable here, I ordered online and had it delivered to the house in the U.S. Tim brought it back with her.
Last night I put the cable to use and played around with the multi flash functionality of my Canon Speedlites (flashes). The photo below is one single exposure of five seconds where my flashes fired once per second for a total of five times.
Both Nalin and Aleena have joined, and Tim is Nalin's troop leader. I have the secondary role of acting as the group's unofficial photographer.
Last Friday, the girls had their Investiture Ceremony to officially restart the council. I took photos throughout the event, and at the end took some photos of each troop. Aleena's and Nalin's troop photos are below. Not everyone from Nalin's troop is in the photograph, as some had to leave early, and others did not attend the ceremony.
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
Saturday, November 12, 2011
Thursday, November 10, 2011
Sunday, November 6, 2011
Thursday, November 3, 2011
I rode my bike to Central Changwattana (a mall) and made my way against traffic on Changwattana. Right after I got to Central I realized that I should have take the back gate from Nichada, as it was probably a kilometer or two closer to my destination, and would have allowed me to avoid riding my bike on the road or the rather uneven sidewalk.
The Klong Prapa (klong is Thai for canal) crosses under Changwattana road and is the source for the water processing plants that supply tap water to Bangkok. The canal is protected from the flood water coming from the other side of Changwattana by a flood wall or dike. Changwattana and the surrounding area on the opposite side of the canal are flooded, while the other side (my side) is not. We've had some incidents in the past week where angry residents on the flooded side have destroyed parts of the dike in hope of getting some relief from the flood. Fortunately they have been convinced to stop, as not only did it do little to relieve them, but it also contaminated the tap water source and caused some additional flooding.
As I approached the canal, I saw vendors of all sorts on the sidewalk and in the right hand lane (by the curb here). There were vendors selling boats, water boots, water, eggs and all manner of supplies. There were also army trucks with a very high clearance parked along the way.
I parked my bike on the dry side of the canal, and walked about twenty meters to where the road was flooded. There were surprisingly a fairly large number of people there, including taxi cabs, motorcycle taxis, and something that I don't see every day, boat taxis. You could hire a boat to take you into and out of the flooded area. The grocery store a few hundred meters down the road was open, although the road in front of it was flooded. They had built a makeshift sidewalk out of crates and sandbags that let you walk to the grocery store. Once on the sidewalk, you could walk (as I did) to the grocery store without getting wet. The only problem was that to get on the sidewalk, I had to take one or two steps in the water.
If you didn't want to walk to the grocery store, you could hire a boat. There were boats powered by all different types of power. Some boats had motors, others were paddled, and one was simply pulled by a man walking in the water.
I stayed for a while and took photos of the area. I returned through the back gate, which is a much safer and shorter route.
I am considering going back in the next day or two and hiring a boat to take me into the flooded area so that I can take photos. If I do, I'll probably have Tim write a note in Thai explaining what I want to do.
There are more photos on Flickr. If you click the photo, it will take you to the photo there as well as the rest of the flood photos that I have posted.
Wednesday, November 2, 2011
Top drove us through the city in order to avoid part of the tollway which he said was slow moving due to the many cars parked there. Many people have parked their cars on the raised highways in order to protect them from flooding. While it is effective in doing that, it also means that the three or four lanes are cut down to one or two. On our way, we saw drove by some of the areas that are flooded. We stopped and I took a few photos like the one below. I was standing on the dry sidewalk on the "right" side of the sandbags.
Tuesday, November 1, 2011
Of course the kids wanted to be photographed with these creatures. The quoted price was 300 baht (about $10 per person per animal). Tim negotiated in Thai, and they agreed to 150 baht (about $5) total for all three kids.
Monday, October 31, 2011
We took a boat ride on the Mekong River which separates the three countries and stopped briefly in Laos. For 20 baht (about 66 cents) per adult, we entered Laos without having to go through immigration or customs. We visited a small market for fifteen minutes and then returned back to Thailand.
Sunday, October 30, 2011
Thursday, October 27, 2011
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
Sunday, October 23, 2011
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Monday, October 17, 2011
Last week I started taking some precautions in the form of buying additional water and food that we didn't need to cook or refrigerate and stored it on our second floor. We have enough canned and dry food to last us for many days. In addition, I also brought up all the electronics and other items from our first floor, and made some crude attempts at making a barrier against the water using plastic, wonder board, and bags of rocks. My reasoning was that if we prepared and the water doesn't come, then we just lost a little time. We'll eventually eat the food and drink the water, so it's not like that money is wasted.
One of our friends who lives in another part of the city actually was hit with the flood waters this morning when a dike broke near her house. Apparently she had to wade through some pretty deep water to get out. I think she is going to stay with another family here in Nichada.
Tim has been really great in helping out the flood victims. She and I visited the old airport where they are collecting donations for the flood victims. After we dropped off some modest supplies, we went inside and she talked to one of the workers to find out what they needed the most. While she was talking to her, a reporter came up and started to interview Tim. I slowly backed away to get out of the shot. The reported asked who I was, and Tim told her. The reported said "I guess he doesn't want to be on camera." She was correct in her assessment.
One of the supplies that they really needed was medicine. Tim called the government run hospital and bought a very large supply of some medicines. It was really a great idea to call them, because the government hospital must be subsidized, and it sells the medicines at a fraction of the price that you could buy it in a pharmacy here. That meant that we were able to buy a lot more medicine. I was going to go with Tim to make the donation, but a bunch of Nichada moms went with her. I think they all were donating something. I also decided to stay so that I could try to get the house ready in case the water reached us.
Tim returned to the airport a third time, this time with Jacob. They helped to bag supplies. It was really a great experience for both of them. I think Jacob really felt like he was helping the flood victims. While they were bagging supplies, the Prime Minister shows up to see how things are going and pose for photos. She ends up standing less than ten feet from Jacob and Tim, with only a pile of medicine in between them. The reporters were all gathered around Tim and Jacob trying to take photos of the Prime Minister helping a girl pack some bags. The photographers were getting pushy and bumping into Jacob and Tim, and almost stepping on the supplies. Tim turned to them, and in a very loud voice told them that they were going to step on the medicine that people needed. Apparently the Prime Minister heard her, because right after Tim said it she got up and moved on.
Hopefully the water which has stabilized will start to recede soon. There have already been 300 deaths, and they are estimating the damage at over 3 billion U.S. dollars. There were some industrial areas in Ayuthaya that were pretty hard hit. It's things like this that makes some of Thailand's self inflicted wounds look so pointless.
Saturday, October 15, 2011
Sunday, September 4, 2011
Wednesday, August 31, 2011
The last two years I was an assistant coach for Jacob's team. This year, instead, I volunteered to take photos for the league. Indoor basketball photography presents some challenges because of the general poor lighting and the fact that you generally aren't supposed to use a flash (at least at high school level and below). I have some pretty fast lenses and my camera actually handles lower lighting pretty decently so the challenges weren't insurmountable.
I ended up spending quite a bit of time at the games on Friday evening and Saturday morning and afternoon. Much more time than I would have spent if I just coached.
The last game was Aleena's, and during the warmup, I went to change lenses. I couldn't get the lens to screw in. I tried a few times, and then decide that I would turn a bit harder. The lens screwed in about 3/4's way and became stuck. I had to take the camera to the Canon repair service here in Bangkok. They told me that it would take one or two weeks (better than the month they quoted for my lens). La from Fotofile in the Chaengwattanna Central called over and got them to reduce the turn around time to 3 days. Fotofile may be the biggest Canon retailer in Thailand, and there shop in MBK is right next to the Canon repair service center. Those guys have a lot more pull in getting Canon to prioritize my repair.
Not only did La get the repair expedited, but Fotofile is going to pick it up for me so that I can pick it up at their shop ( a fifteen minute bike ride versus an hour cab ride). It cost me about $100 and a bottle of Scotch. I didn't have to buy the Scotch, but I figured that those guys went out of their way to help me out. The good news is I'll get the camera and lens back just in time for Friday's games.
Thursday, August 25, 2011
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
Sunday, August 21, 2011
After breakfast, we went to the hospital to have some allergy tests done on Nalin and Aleena. They were both actually excited about it, because they hoped that they would outgrow some of their allergies; particularly those involving milk and puppies. The results were mixed. We can start giving them more things with milk in them, like cheese and baked items, but no puppies. In fact, the doctor told us that if we did get a dog, the allergies would continue to worsen.
The girls were getting the skin test, which involves the doctor scratching their skin lightly and exposing them to possible allergens. They each had perhaps fifty little scratches on their arms. I was sitting out in the waiting room with Jacob while Tim was in the doctor's office with Aleena and Nalin. I heard this wailing and screaming coming from back area. I went back, and sure enough, Aleena was screaming about how itchy her arm was. She wasn't allowed to scratch or even bend her arms, so Tim and I took turns fanning her arms. I'll say this, although Nalin had much stronger reactions to many of the tests, she took it like a trooper.
We ended up being at the doctor's office a lot longer than we thought because the doctor forgot to provide us an action plan for Aleena. The action plan tells the school what to do in case they eat something to which they are allergic.
Originally, Aleena said that she wanted to go to Sizzler for her birthday dinner. Later, she decided that she wanted to order pizza and eat it in front of the TV at home. She also decided that she would help Tim bake a cake instead of going to the mall to buy one. Shortly before dinner, her dear friends Nyla and Kaylee stopped by briefly to give her presents.
After dinner, we celebrated with cake and ice cream. By the time they showered, it was bed time for the kids.
Wednesday, August 17, 2011
Friday, August 12, 2011
Thursday, August 4, 2011
Wednesday, July 27, 2011
Tuesday, July 26, 2011
The hammer and sickle statue in the background was erected earlier this month to celebrate the 90th anniversary of communism in China.
Sunday, July 10, 2011
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
A few years ago, I created a photo book of our family for the year 2008. The photo book was of average quality, and most of the shots in it were average at best. Since my photography has gotten a bit better since then, I was eager to see how one would look now.
In May I decided to make a photo book for Aleena and her friend McKayla as a going away present. The girls have been best friends for over three years, which was more than have of their lives. Fairly frequently I get an idea like this, but I just procrastinate too long to get it done. This time was different; more than a month before McKayla was going to move, I had created a photo book in Aperture and taken it to the camera store, Fotofile, in Central Chaengwattana. This is the store where I purchase most of my camera supplies. In the past year or two, I've probably spent $5,000 - $7,000 there. While I am certainly not their biggest customer, I have spent enough that a lot of the employees know me by name and treat me pretty well.
Fotofile does not actually do the printing in the store. They take the order and send it to a shop somewhere else in the city. When I placed my order, I selected the A4 size (roughly equivalent to US Letter). The book arrived a week later, and was size A5; roughly half the size of A4. The nice large book that I had expected was tiny and flimsy looking. To add insult to injury, they told me that the price was $55, instead of the $60 for the larger book. I walked out without buying the books.
Tim called the shop for me and they explained to her that the photo quality wasn't high enough to print the larger size. She explained that then someone should have called us (they had her number and my email address on the order) prior to printing, since the order clearly said the larger size.
So I created another version of the book. This time instead of exporting as a PDF, I exported the original files and photobook as a Aperture library. When I dropped it off, the shop tried to get me to buy the original books at a reduced cost, but when I told them that I wasn't interested, they ended up giving them to me. Two or three days later Tim gets a call saying that they cannot use the Aperture format that I provided, and that I should export the photobook as a PDF X file.
On my third attempt, I brought three different photobooks. As with each time, it takes the guys at Fotofile fifteen minutes to write up my order. A few days after dropping it off, Tim received a call from the printer. It turns out that it wasn't the quality of the image that was causing the issue, but rather that I had selected a smaller size when creating the photobook. When I created them in Aperture, I didn't realize that I had selected a smaller size. I had continued to modify the same book each time. This was the first time that they told me what was actually wrong with the books. While I was grateful to know, at that point I was so frustrated that I just canceled the order.
I had pretty much written off going back to the shop to order photobooks when they called Tim and explained that the print shop owner would be in the store. So Tim and I went over and met with her. It was actually very beneficial. She was able to answer a bunch of questions that I had. I had brought over yet another book to print, and she pointed out a few things in it that I would probably want to change. Additionally, she was selling vouchers for the books that saved 30-50%. I ended up buying a bunch of vouchers, and was pretty confident that things would go more smoothly.
After I went home I fixed the suggestions that she gave me, and the next day I returned to drop off the modified file. The two people who usually help me at the shop weren't there. I had this feeling that something would go wrong, but an employee wrote up the order, and everything seemed fine.
Today I stopped by the camera shop to check on something and I asked if my book was ready. It had been six days since I dropped it off, so I thought it would be ready any day. I was hoping to see it before we left for Hawaii early Thursday morning. One of the employees called the printer, and after a few minutes, it became clear that there was a problem. After another ten minutes, I saw the manager walk over to one of the locked cases and pull out a plastic bag containing the order form and the CD containing the file with my photobook. The person had taken my order last week and then put it on the shelf and let it sit for a week. They apologized and told me that it would be ready on Friday, to which I told them to take their time because I would be gone for two weeks.
I was very annoyed, but not surprised by this latest problem. If there had been a problem at the printer that had delayed the book, I would have been okay with it. The fact that it sat on a shelf for almost a week just really pissed me off. Before I had asked about the book, I was ready to buy a $200 memory card for the trip. As I was leaving, I told them that I didn't want it.
Thursday, June 16, 2011
Ms. Yingluck has apparently grown in popularity in recent weeks. Her brother has described her as his "clone".
There is a very good chance that Thailand will end up with a coalition government. It is very likely that the Peau Thai part will win the most seats, but will not win enough to form a government by itself. The question then will be whether they can ally with some of the smaller parties to form a government.
I need to get some photos of the campaign signs in the next few days. Some of them are really bad.
We will be out of the country during the election. Hopefully things will be calm upon our return.
Two days after Tim returns from Bali we go to Hawaii for two weeks. After we return in the beginning of July, we might take a few short trips around Thailand before we go to China for a week. This will be my third time in China this year. This China trip will include things that the kids want to see, like the Great Wall, The Forbidden City, etc.
I'd reset the router dozens of times and rebooted just to make sure it wasn't something that I was doing. The technician saw the problem, and then plugged his own router into my connection and it performed normally. He told me that the problem was my router.
So I went over to Central and bought a new router. When I tried to install it, I had issues, not realizing that unlike the previous device which serves as both a modem and a router, the new one only acts as a router. Before I figured that out, I plugged the old one back in and it seemed to work just fine. Eventually I got the new one to work as well when I found another cable modem that I have from when we moved in.
The problem is that the return policies here in Thailand generally suck. Unlike a lot of places in the U.S. where you could return something you didn't need shortly after you buy it, here that is much more problematic. In other words, I probably own the new router for keeps. It is supposed to have a better range and has a couple of different wireless frequencies, so it's not all for naught.
Monday, June 13, 2011
Thursday, June 2, 2011
Wednesday, June 1, 2011
She ended up getting 24 or so stitches and had to stay in the hospital overnight. Nalin wasn't exactly devastated that she couldn't ride her bike for a week, as that meant we drover her to school. Yeah, the eight minute ride is a real killer. Well, she seems to think so sometimes.
With the stitches removed today, she is able to run, but still no swimming or biking for a week. She'll be able to swim just in time for our trip to Hua Hinn on June 10th.
Last night Jacob received his Tenderfoot rank with the Boy Scouts. Actually, he earned Tenderfoot and the Scout (one below Tenderfoot) ranks. All the WEBLOS II's who moved to Boy Scouts this year earned a rank.
The boys received their ranks at the Court of Honor ceremony. They started off with a buffet dinner catered by Que Pasa, the local mexican restaurant. It was a huge hit with the kids, and even Tim liked it this time.
After the meal came the rank and merit badge awards. I was a bit concerned that it might drag on after a belly full of food, but it was really well run and seemed to go by very fast.
Tim and I are both happy to see that Jacob is embracing the Boy Scouts. We think that what he learns there will not only help him now, but also later in life. Congratulations Jacob.
Tuesday, May 31, 2011
The ceremony was very nice. The ninety minute event included some remarks by school dignitaries, each of the 154 5th graders receiving their certificate, obligatory thank yous and a nice slide show with photos of the kids.
Tim and I arrived about twenty-five minutes early, just in time to find two seats in the center front row. I brought my camera and 70-200 lens (the big lens), so I had a great spot for photos. Actually, I did move a bit when they handed out certificates so that I could get a better shot of Jacob and some of his friends.
While the kids no doubt enjoyed the ceremony, I think they really were looking forward to the pool party afterwards. Today and tomorrow pretty much consist of one big class party. Not a bad way to close out elementary school.
Sunday, May 29, 2011
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
Sunday, May 22, 2011
Nalin really impressed me. She was so much more confident and performed so much better this year than she had in year's past. It was really great to see her improve. At the beginning of the year, Nalin had signed up for jazz and tap dancing. She stopped tap after the first semester. She was so excited about this year's performance that she says that she wants to sign up for three different sessions next year. For some reason she seemed surprised when I told her that it was fine. My guess is that when it comes down to it, she will sign up for jazz and street funk, but pass on ballet and tap.
I worked the right door backstage for Friday's performance. It was actually fun to see the girls getting ready for their big performances. They practice all year, and this is their one big chance to shine.
Before the show, I snapped a few photos of the girls sitting and listening to instructions. Of course the light wasn't great and I didn't use my flash. I was going to toss them, but then I played around a little and was happy with how they came out.
After the show, I grabbed Nalin and her cousin Pam for a few photos. Aleena came along and I got her with the two, but I didn't see their cousin Pinkie, who had also performed.