Monday, February 28, 2011

5 Years of Scouting

Here is a series of photos depicting Jacob in each year of scouting. 3
Tiger Scout (1st grade)

Wolf Scout (2nd grade) 73
Bear Scout (3rd grade) 94
WEBELOS I (4th grade) 197
WEBELOS II (5th grade)

Arrow of Light

On Wednesday, Jacob and six of his fellow WEBELOS II scouts will earn their Arrow of Light award.  This is the highest award that can be earned by a Cub Scout.  I'm really proud that Jacob has stuck with it.  He and several other of the scouts have been involved since Tiger scouts (1st grade).  

I've been Jacob's den leader for the past four years.  I'm putting together a slide show with photos of the boys over the years.  Sometimes I really enjoy looking at the older photos and just seeing how much the kids have grown.  

Jacob has expressed a lot of interest in continuing as a Boy Scout.  My plan is to take a much less involved role.  

Congratulations Jacob!

A Little Running

I've been having a hard time making it to the gym lately, instead I've just been running.  I usually run 5 or 6 days a week; usually 5k twice a day.  It probably would be better to run 10k all at once, but the only time that it is "cool" to run is very early in the morning or at night.  Running even in the late morning is tough, and the afternoon can just sap all the strength out of you.

Today I managed to put in over ten miles (about 17k) over three runs.  I ran at 5:00 a.m., 4:00 p.m. and then again at 8:00 p.m.  I'm not sure that it is really helping my weight, because although I haven't stepped on a scale in a while, I don't seem to have lost any weight.  

One of Aleena's classmate's father is offering a U.S. Ranger style training class to get people in shape.  I'm thinking about doing it, although I'm not completely sold on it.  Tim has already committed to doing it.  If I do, I'm not sure if I should do it at the same time or not.  

Friday, February 25, 2011


We took the 7:00 a.m. Bangkok Airways flight from Bangkok to Sukhothai.  Sukhothai has a very small airport that has two arrival flights and two departure flights each day.  The airport couldn't be more different than Bangkok's Suvarnabbhumi Airport.  The terminal consists of an open air building that looks more like a nice hotel lobby than a typical airport terminal.

This was Tim's first trip to Sukhothai and my second.  When I visited in 2009 to take photos, I stayed in town in a pretty cheap hotel.  There had been two electrical plugs in the entire room; one for the refrigerator and one for a lamp.  I had unplugged both to charge my camera and phone.  The ruins were about 12 kilometers from the town, so I rented a motorcycle that time.

This time, however, we stayed in the very nice Tharaburi Resort, just outside the UNESCO World Heritage site.  We rented bikes from the hotel and spent the first two days riding around the park.  Sukhothai was the capital of Siam (now Thailand) in the 13th and 14th centuries, and many of the buildings still remain.  The bikes were cheap in both price and quality.  We paid less than two dollars per day each to rent the bikes and it showed.  The bikes were lined up in front of the hotel.  We did learn on the second day that the hotel had a deal with a few bike shops that allowed us to exchange a bike we rode from the hotel with another bike.

It was very nice and relaxing riding around leisurely and seeing the ruins. While it was hot if you sat in the sun, riding the bikes, particularly in the shade with a light breeze, was quite pleasant.

On the third day we rented a car and driver to see some ruins about fifty kilometers from our hotel.  Once we arrived there, we rented bikes to explore.  These bikes were even cheaper at less than one dollar per person.  The problem was that these bikes were in even worse shape than the ones from the previous days.  The brakes didn't function, and after riding one for about fifteen minutes, I managed to bend the "metal" shaft that supports the seat.  This made riding a bit less comfortable, so we returned the bikes and finished the tour via car.

The flight back was largely uneventful.  On both our flight to and from Sukhothai, we were on the plane with the Deputy Director of Sales for Bangkok Airways and a large group that she was traveling with.  One of the people in her party didn't want to move a little so that Tim could sit on the shuttle.  The man who sat with her on the return flight didn't understand the basic principle of plane deboarding whereby you wait your turn by letting the people closer to the exit deplane before you.  I helped his understanding by putting my arm in front of him and making him wait.

I brought my camera with me, but left my tripod and all my lenses save one at home.  While I was going to take some photos on the trip, my goal was just to relax and enjoy spending time with my wife.







Happy Birthday

This week my wife celebrated a milestone birthday. Typically we don't make a big deal about her birthday and mine. We'll usually have a cake and a present, but in a lot of ways its for the kids.

I decide that this time I would shake things up a bit. She had mentioned that she wanted a sports watch, and actually dropped the name of Tag Heuer. Normally I don't buy jewelry for Tim because she already has some very nice pieces, but since she mentioned it, I decided to go ahead. I knew that she was going to the U.S., so I ordered the watch on Amazon and had it delivered to our house there. After I ordered it, but before she left, she told me that maybe she didn't want the watch. "Too late", I thought.

My sister-in-law Heather was kind enough to wrap it, and Tim got the watch on Valentine's day. Of course Tim then thought it was too expensive and thought about returning it. Fortunately, Heather talked to her about it, and she decided to keep it. Tim later asked me if I would have been mad at her if she had returned it. If she had exchanged it for another watch of comparable value, then I would probably have been a bit disappointed, but probably okay with it. If she had just returned it, I would not have been happy.

She told me in direct terms that since the watch was so expensive, I shouldn't get her anything else for her birthday. The problem with that was that I had already arranged a surprise three day trip to the ancient ruins of Sukhothai, Thailand. Fortunately, I knew that the gift of travel was one that she would not get upset about, and since it was already paid for, couldn't return.

I planned the trip for February 22nd through the 24th. My one challenge with booking a surprise trip was that I couldn't control Tim's schedule. I wanted to wait to tell her until a day or so before the trip, but I was concerned that she might schedule something during the time of our trip. To deal with this, I solicited the help of her brother Top. At my request, Top told Tim that he needed her to keep her calendar clear for those three days because they had to meet to talk about the business.

My plan worked pretty well. I finally told Tim about the trip on Sunday evening, as we were leaving first thing Tuesday morning, and I wanted to give her some time to pack.

I'll blog about the actual trip in the next entry.

Sunday, February 20, 2011


This weekend was the annual Cub Scout Pack 701 campout. This year we returned to the Wildlodge just outside of Khao Yai National Park. While the destination was the same as last year, this year our entire family went instead of just Jacob and I.

Tim and I didn't get home until almost 2:30 a.m. Friday morning after I picked her up from her return flight from the U.S. Less than twelve hours later, we were driving to Khao Yai. Fortunately, she wasn't in the U.S. long enough to completely adjust to the time change, so she was in pretty good shape for the camping trip.

Friday evening was pretty low key; dinner and a campfire. The plan was for Jacob and I to sleep in a tent, while Tim and the girls would sleep in one of the lodge's rooms. The lodge room was very large and had three beds and four cots. While it had fans, it did not have air conditioning. The Wildlodge bills itself and an "eco lodge" so its pretty no frills.

It was pretty hot in the tent, and right before we left we discovered that Jacob's battery operated fan didn't work. We had not removed the batteries, and the moisture and acid from the batteries had corroded the contact springs. About half way through the night, Jacob proclaimed that he just couldn't sleep because of the sounds of the crickets, and went to the room. I stuck it out, but managed only a few hours of restless sleep.

After breakfast on Saturday morning, things picked up a bit. We took a hike along a dried creek bed. It wasn't a particularly arduous hike, but you did have to be careful of loose rocks and dry leaves which made things more slippery.

After lunch, the counselors divided the kids into groups and took them through four stations. They had archery, rock wall climbing, high wire walks and orienteering (using a compass to find clues). I spent most of the time with Jacob and his Webelos II den. All seven of the Webelos II scouts who are earning their Arrow of Light aware (highest Cub Scout award) made it to the campout.

The kids really had a great time. I was not sure how Aleena would fare with the high wire activity. There were two stations that involved climbing a ladder to a platform about ten or fifteen meters off the ground. One then required you to walk on a wooden beam, while the other on a wire. Of course the kids were harnessed and the chance of falling was negligible.

All three of the kids really did a great job. Jacob and Nalin did both stations without any problem. Aleena did the beam station to completion. She had some difficulty with the wire walk because of her height. There were two wires, one that you walked on, and one that you held with your hands for balance. The problem was that she could barely reach the upper wire, which meant that she had her arms stretched above her head. She made it halfway across the wire and then got upset and asked to be brought down.

Another first grader had the same trouble as Aleena. He made it a little farther on the wire walk, but just couldn't finish because his arms were too tired. I was really proud of Aleena. Not all the kids would even try. At least three or four boys climbed the ladder, but once they made it to the top, they became very afraid and started crying. Sometimes it took the councilors ten or more minutes to talk the kids down. Its tough because when confronted with a fear like that, its hard to keep your composure. One really nice moment was that a scout who had trouble last year did it this year without any issue.

At the evening campfire, the Webelos II had their chance to shine. They each told a story or jokes around the fire, and they they dressed up as native Americans and danced around the fire. Then they shot flaming arrows (sparklers on the end) to signify the Arrow of Light that they would be receiving. Whether shooting or watching, the scouts and siblings all really enjoyed seeing the "flaming" arrows. A feast of S'mores was the conclusion to the night's festivities.

Jacob slept in the room Saturday night. I went back to the tent for about thirty minutes and decided that if he didn't need to sleep in the tent, then neither did I. While the room was certainly not cool, the occasional breeze from the oscillating fan did make it a bit easier to sleep.

Sunday's activities included rafting, canoeing and hiking.  By 2:00 p.m., we were headed back home to Bangkok.

The entire family had a really good time.  In addition to the planned activities, they had plenty of friends to play with.







Saturday, February 12, 2011

A Little Privacy

I was a parent classroom supervisor for the Alice in Wonderland performance. I was paired with one of Nalin's friend's mom. Our role was to supervise the kids while they changed into their costumes and waited for the performance to start.

I am just amazed at the mom's and teachers who seemed to think nothing of walking into the room while these fourth and fifth graders are changing. When one woman came in, I saw that a boy was still in his underwear so I told him that he might want to cover up, which he hurriedly did. She said "don't worry, I'm a mom, I've seen it before."

Yes, I understand that you have seen boys and men in their underpants. In fact, I have no doubt that every woman who entered that room had seen a penis before. My point was not to protect his mom from seeing a pair of boys underwear, but rather to try to give the boys a little privacy. And while a boy might not be bothered by their own mom seeing them changing, some would really prefer not to have someone else's mom see them. In fact, some of the boys were quite shy and didn't want to change in front of their friends.

I don't want to make a big deal about it, because it wasn't like anyone was truly mortified. I wonder though if I had walked in on the girls standing around in their underwear and quipped that I had seen it all before. So please moms, give the other boys some privacy.


Nalin was in the ISB ES production of Alice in Wonderland.  Her role was as part of the caterpillar body.  While she was initially disappointed in the role, she really did put in a lot of effort and really had a lot of fun. Everyone did a great job.

Aleena attended all three shows; she really enjoyed watching her sister and the rest of the cast perform. Of course she also enjoyed gabbing with whomever was sitting next to her. I managed to see two of the three shows, and was a parent supervisor for the other (I could have went, but didn't). Handling a room full of boys was fun. One boy was crying because he thought his mobile phone was broken (it wasn't), while two other boys were fighting over who owned some dollar toy. I looked at them and told them that we are two minutes from going on stage, "put it down and we'll sort it out later."

After the final show, we went out to have dinner at KFC and eat ice cream at Swensens. Today was the cast party, and by all accounts it was fun.

I didn't take a lot of photos, as the light is always challenging in the theater. I took a few outside after the performance that I thought turned out well enough.



Good Weekend

Originally uploaded by ebvImages
Jacob's baseball team picked up their first two wins of the season. They were 0-4 going into Friday night's game, so it was really nice to see them pick up some wins.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Aleena & Friends

Originally uploaded by ebvImages
After bowling, Aleena's friends Calie (left) and Nyla (right) rode home with us and played over at the house for a few hours. Nyla is in Aleena's class, and all three get along really well.

It seems that whenever they play family, Aleena likes to be the baby. Nalin, on the other hand, would have gotten quite upset at the age of 6 if she was asked to play the baby role.


Originally uploaded by ebvImages
Today ISB's Thai PTA sponsored a bowling event at one of the local malls. The event consisted of bowling and a buffet lunch. There seemed to be a pretty decent turnout. Each of the kids had friends there and they had fun bowling.

In addition to the use of the lane bumpers, the rules of the bowling were a little different than normal. You only threw one ball for each frame, and if you had an even number of pins standing you were credited with a strike, an odd number of pins. If you managed to throw all gutter balls, you would have scored a 300.

They kicked off the bowling with all the kids throwing a ball; anyone who got a strike would get a medal. No-one got a strike, but Jacob and Nalin were the only two who had only one pin standing, so they received medals. Of course, at the end all the kids received medals.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Follow Up

Went to Bumrungrad Hospital today as a follow up from my wrist surgery last February.  Dr. Sumroeng Neti removed some bones in my right wrist at that time to eliminate pain that I've had since college.

The last time that I met with Dr. Sumroeng was in August, approximately six months after the surgery.  My wrist was still pretty stiff and still hurt.  When the good doctor told me at that time that the wrist had healed as much as it was going to heal, I was pretty disappointed.  More accurately I was full of regret at having endured the cost, pain and inconvenience of the surgery.  My wrist in August 2010 did not feel better than it had before the surgery.

As it turns out, the doctor was wrong.  Over the next month or two, the pain in my wrist went away, as did a lot of the stiffness.  And while my right wrist was not on par with my uninjured left one, it was better than it had been prior to the surgery.  One of the outcomes of this type of surgery is a loss in the range of motion in the wrist.  I did not really notice that, as I had already lost some of the range prior to the surgery.

At my follow up visit today, Dr. Sumroeng measured my range of motion, and declared it very good for the surgery.  He said that my case could be classified as an excellent result.

The only down side is that he told me to avoid heavy lifting and impact on my right wrist, as it will wear down more quickly than a normal wrist.  I was a little disappointed, because while I haven't lifted weights in the last two months, I was considering taking it up again soon.  The doctor said that lifting lighter weights shouldn't have an adverse impact, so I might start some high rep exercises.    Even with the limitations, I'm glad that I had the surgery.