Thursday, March 31, 2011

See Right Through Me

suprised_tire by ebvImages
suprised_tire, a photo by ebvImages on Flickr.

I was looking at a web site today, and I saw some photos that spurred my imagination. The photos showed some people standing next to a tree, but part of their bodies had been edited out.

The concept that I came up with was "See Right Through Me". First I took a photo of me holding a bicycle tire. Then I took a photo of the same background without me in it. I used Photoshop layers to remove the "me" from the center of the tire.

I want to develop the concept further. The idea would be to have different shapes act as a window, and to have more interesting background in the "frame".

Monday, March 28, 2011

That's My Aleena

At dinner tonight, Aleena asked me if I was the oldest in my family.  After I told her that I was, she said "Older than Uncle E?  He looks older than you."  He's almost nine years younger than me, but he does look older Aleena, yes he does. :D

Elections & Protests

Thailand will be having new elections within the next three months.  They current parliament's term was set to expire in December, but the Prime Minister called for new elections.  

Its not clear how everything will turn out.  The Peau Thai party, the one affiliated with the red shirt movement, is currently leaderless.  Apparently the former Prime Minister Thaksin's is still pulling the strings, but his very own sister refused to take the helm of the party.  With or without a strong leader, Peau Thai will do very well in their North and North East strong holds, but may struggle in contested districts such as Bangkok.

While the red shirts are in disarray, its not like the Democrats are running like a well oiled machine.  The yellow shirt PAD movement, which originally supported the Democrats, later formed its own political party and has turned against their former allies.  They have been protesting for the last two months over the government's handling of the border dispute with Cambodia.    

Even though the PAD has its own political party, it is talking about boycotting the elections.  Some Thais, including some of the PAD leadership, is calling on the invocation of Article VII of the Thai Constitution which allows the King to appoint a government.  In 2005, now current Prime Minister Abhisit and his Democrat party boycotted the elections and openly supported the use of Article VII.  Article VII was not implemented, and the boycott resulted in Thaksin winning a majority government.  This time around, however, the Prime Minister will not boycott the election and opposes the use of Article VII.  

My sincere hope is that Article VII is not invoked.  This would be a huge step back for democracy in Thailand.  While I have no doubt that corruption is epidemic in Thai politics, I think that taking away the people's right to chose their own government is fundamentally wrong and effectively renders them as slaves.  

The yellow shirt PAD movement may not be long of this world.  The Bangkok Post is reporting that several of the PAD's leadership are going to announce its dissolution due to the poor turnout in recent protests.  One more skeptical than I might say that the PAD was never really the powerful organization that they imagined, and that in fact powerful behind the scenes figures were driving its success.  Those individuals agreed when the PAD's mission was to remove Thaksin and the red shirts from power, but do not agree with the PAD's campaign against the current government.  Perhaps people are just tired of protesting or they aren't getting paid enough to do it.

More bad news for the PAD in that several leaders have been ordered to pay tens of millions of dollars in damages due to the airport closure in late 2008.  Of course, that probably only represents a fraction of what it actually cost Thailand, but I guess its something.

The third stop light color in Thai politics is of course the green, aka the military.  The military toppled one elected government in 2006, and has been accused of covertly pushing the reds out of power in 2008.  Military leadership has stated that they will not interfere with politics.  We can only hope that this is true.


Aleena had her first gymnastics competition this past weekend.  Unfortunately, I had to miss it, because Jacob also had a baseball game at the same time.  Tim took Aleena, Nalin and Yaow to the meet.  

The competition was a lot longer than they thought it would be.  Still, Aleena had fun and did a pretty good job.  She did forget part of her routine a few times.  It was her first time, so we didn't scream and yell at her too much.  

Tim recorded Aleena, and at some point I am going to edit it and post it.  

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Yep, Another Week of Baseball

After losing three games in a row to each of the other two teams in their baseball league to start off the season, it didn't look like there was much chance that Jacob's Colgate Angels would be playing in the championship game. They will be doing just that next weekend, as they won yesterday's first round playoff game.

The game is next Friday evening. We had actually planned on going to Dolphin Bay, a resort a few hours away for the weekend, because the kids do not have school on Thursday or Friday. We may have to cancel the trip because Tim may have some meetings that she can't miss.

After the tournament game, they played another "fun" game against the team that they will play against next week. Here are a few photos of from the games.




Thursday, March 24, 2011

Proper Attire

Tim had to go to court today, but they didn't let her in because she was wearing a sleeveless shirt.  They told her that she needed to wear a shawl or change shirts in order to enter the building.

She also told me that you are not allowed to cross your legs in court.  When she was in a courtroom previously, the stenographer came over before the proceedings started and told her she had to uncross her legs.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Editing Makes a Difference

So I was puttering around Aperture, the software that I use to edit and manage my photo library.  I've been trying to learn more about how some of the different functions work.  While I learned a few things reading some blogs and articles online, one of the best ways to learn is to practice on your photos.

This was one of the photos that I took of Tim when we were visiting the Forbidden City in China.  Well, they actually call it the Imperial Palace now, as people aren't forbidden to enter, as evidenced by the fact that I managed to see it.  In any case here is the photo straight out of the camera.

China.January.2011- 899 - Prior to Editing

There is a pretty big range in light on this shot making it more difficult or even impossible to correctly expose the entire shot.  The foreground with Tim is very bright and is over exposed.  The inside of the building is much darker and under exposed.  When I saw the photo, I passed over it.

I decided to make some edits in Aperture to compensate for the under and over exposure.  One of the nice features that I learned about Aperture 3 is that most any adjustment can be made either photo wide, or selectively with the brush.  After some editing, here is what I came up with.  Its certainly not perfect, but its a lot better than where I started.

China.January.2011- 899 - Edited

The building's interior is really beautiful, and you can actually see it in the edited shot.  Additionally, Tim doesn't look washed out.

This was a good reminder that sometimes my first impression of a photo is not the same one that I will have later.  And while its great to delete photos to save some hard drive space, sometimes a little editing can turn a not-so-hot photo into something that you really appreciate.


_MG_1480 by ebvImages
_MG_1480 a photo by ebvImages on Flickr.

I woke up this morning at 4:50 a.m. as Tim was leaving to go to her boot camp workout. As I walked to get dressed to go for my run, I could smell the rain in the air. I looked out the window and it was starting to rain. Within ten minutes, it was pouring and I was back snoring.

It was stil raining hard when it was time for the kids to go to school, so we drove them instead riding bikes. Not only was it raining, but several mini-lakes had formed on the roads outside our compound.

Later in the day, Yaow and I dropped the kids bikes off at school so they could ride back home. There was still a giant puddle entering our neighborhood, so I had Yaow call me when she and Aleena got close. I went out and took some photos of Aleena riding through it.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

China Bound

It looks like we are going to visit China during the Songklon spring break. After our plans to visit Japan fell through due to the recent disasters, we've been trying to decide where to go.

Picking a new place was a bit more challenging since we were rescheduling at the last minute for a popular time of the year for Thais to travel. We wanted to visit a few places in China, including Beijing. Unfortunately, we have to leave Beijing out of our plans because we couldn't get flights. Instead we are going to visit Chengdu and Jiuzhaigou Valley National Park and Huanglong National Park. Hopefully it will be fun. We'll see.

Monday, March 21, 2011

More Immigration Fun

Its always fun when working with the government.  What's even more fun is when you get to deal with two governments.  

We decided that we wanted to have the kids get their Thai citizenship.  They would have dual citizenship, which would make living in Thailand easier; eliminating the need for getting them a visa each year.  The kids are eligible for Thai citizenship based on the nationality of their mother.

In order to grant citizenship, the Thai government wants an official birth certificate, as well as a translated in Thai.  This is certainly a reasonable request.  In addition to the translation, however, the want a notarized document from the U.S. Embassy stating that the birth certificates are legitimate.  This presents a problem, because the U.S. Embassy will not verify the validity of the documents.  Perhaps this is because  the birth certificates are issued by the States and not the Federal government.    What the U.S. Embassy will do is take $50 and notarize a document where you state the information on the birth certificate.  They make no assurances as to the accuracy of the data, but only that the person attested that these facts were true.  

So we have the problem that the Thai government is requesting something that the U.S. government won't provide.  And its not as if the U.S. won't do it because we don't have the proper documentation; they simply will not do it.  Tim ran into the same issue when registering our U.S. marriage in order to change the name on her passport.  Then she was finally able to convince the clerk to accept the notarization.  It looks like she will have to do the same thing this time.  

I understand the reason that Thailand would request this, and the reason that the U.S. Embassy won't provide it.  The bottom line is that we are not the only ones who have gone through this, and they need to work something out.  This involves children getting their Thai citizenship, which they are legally entitled based on their mother.  Its absurd to deny citizenship to one of your people based on a foreign Embassy's unwillingness to verify a document's accuracy, particularly when the document was not issued by that foreign government, but rather a state in it.  

My hunch is that we will get this resolved, but it will just be more difficult than it needs to be.  I'll let you know.

Cool Weather Goodbye

The cool weather that we enjoyed late last week is definitely in the rear view mirror.  While Friday was fantastic, by Saturday it was already starting to warm up.  Jacob had a double header baseball game, and it was a bit hot.

All doubt as to whether the weather was gone was removed this morning when I went out to run.  I stepped outside at 5:30 a.m. and it was already hot and muggy.  By 10:00 a.m., it was already down right hot. 

Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Underdog

Jacob's AAA-Minor Angels played a double header today. The first game was player pitching, while the second used the pitching machine.

As one who is familiar with baseball might expect, there is a big difference in the games when the players pitch. In the player pitch games, there are a lot fewer runs and hits, and a lot more strike outs and walks. Because of the strikeouts and walks, the games tend to run a bit long so there is actually a time limit.

The Angels lost the machine pitch game 10-8. They were up 6-1 at one point, but couldn't hold the lead.

The more exciting and interesting game was the player pitch game against the first place Dodgers. Going into the final inning, the Angels were up 5-1, due in no small part to one player's four RBI from two doubles.

The great part was that the boy just started playing baseball this year. He is a sixth grader and the oldest and tallest boy on the team. While he is large, he is not the most athletic kid. At the beginning of the year, he couldn't hit the ball at all. He's gotten gradually better, which is great because he is such a nice kid. So when the better hitters on the team were struggling to hit the ball, it was great to see him step up and really deliver for the team.

The Angel's pitching, which was excellent in the first five innings, struggled in the final inning. They walked eight straight batters and gave up six runs in top of the sixth, and entered the final frame trailing. The time had expired during the top of the 6th, but the Angels still had a last chance to bat.

The lead off hitter singled. Jacob, 0-1 up to this point, crushed a pitch for a double to center field. Two batters later, Jacob scored the tying run. They then called the game due to time. It was great to see the kids battle back from adversity and not give up. I was a bit worried that after giving up the lead to all the walks, that they might fold, but they didn't.


Friday, March 18, 2011


I've been thinking about blogging about the situation in Japan right now.  Its obviously a tragic and difficult time for the Japanese people.

One of the things that really makes this hit so close to home are the personal connections.  The "I" in ISB stands for international.  The elementary school alone has students from almost a third of the countries in the world.  As a country with significant business interests in Thailand, Japan is well represented among ISB students.

Not only do the ISB students and parents have friends and acquaintances from Japan, but many have friends who have moved back to Japan.  Jacob and Aleena both had friends that have moved back to Japan in the last year.  In fact, I first learned about the earthquake and tsunami when I read a Facebook post asking the mother of those children asking if everyone was okay.   Fortunately, the answer was yes.

Tim also has close friend from high school who now lives in Japan.  She lives in southern Japan and is less impacted than those to the north.  We were planning on visiting her during our April trip, but that will have to wait.   Right now, we are just glad that everyone is okay.


Rice For Breakfast?

Growing up in a small town in Kentucky in the 70's and 80's didn't exactly expose me to a plethora of cultures and traditions.  My intent isn't to knock Kentucky; I imagine that during that time, most places in the U.S. weren't eagerly adopting other people's traditions and beliefs.  Indeed, there were still schools resisting integration at that time.

One of my first foreign culture encounters came around food.  Between my junior and senior years of high school, I participated in the Kentucky Governor's Scholars Program.  While there, I met Yukio; a boy of Japanese heritage who attended a nearby school.  After the program, some of us kept in touch for a while, and at one point Yukio has several of us over to spend the night at his house.

Everything seemed normal at his house until the next morning when we ate breakfast.  His mom had fixed some type of rice dish for breakfast.  It was a big shock to me.  I couldn't believe that people actually ate rice for breakfast.  Little did I know that perhaps billions of people in fact did that very thing every morning.

Meat and potatoes were definitely the staples in our house.  We ate rice a few times a year, and it was "spiced" with cinnamon and sugar.    Once my grandfather gave us a pack of squid or octopus that he had accidentally bought (not quite sure how), and it ended up throwing it away.

So this morning as I was eating my fried egg and rice breakfast, I thought about Yukio's mom serving us a rice for breakfast.  Life has changed quite a bit since then.

I'm So Cool

The past few days have been unusually cool here in Bangkok; perhaps the coolest in four years.  The temperature dipped into the 60's at night, and was only in the 70's during the day. 

I really enjoy this weather.  Its a lot nicer to run when its a bit cooler.  One of the reasons that I typically like to run either before 6:00 a.m. or after 6:30 p.m. is that the heat and humidity are not so oppressive.  Running in the later morning or afternoon can really take it out of you here.  I ran today at 10:00 a.m. and it was just so pleasant.

Not everyone is enjoying the colder weather.  A lot of Thai people are not used to this weather and consider this very cold, not just pleasantly cool.  Its really kind of amusing to witness.  

I'm sure it won't last long, so I'll enjoy it while I can.


Earlier this week I introduced Jacob to The Tick cartoon series.  He loves it.

Been a Bit Lazy

I haven't blogged a lot this year. There are a few reasons for the drop off in blogging. One of the reasons is that I have been posting more on Facebook and Twitter.

Still, I like the blog format, and I know that some people may read the blog but not use Facebook, so I plan to keep going. I'll be making some changes in the format and perhaps the content as well. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Where Do You Go When You Die?

Aleena's question about the mysteries of life were not limited to leprechaun's yesterday.  In fact, one question wasn't even limited to life.  No long after our leprechaun discussion, Aleena asked me where people go when they die.  

I started to explain how some people believe that when you die that if you are good, you go to heaven.  Aleena interrupted me, stating "I don't believe that.  I've been in the sky before and I didn't see anyone."  

Aleena & The Leprechaun

Last night after dinner, Aleena asked me if leprechauns were real.  Not wanting to spoil anything for her, I told her that while I hadn't seen one, I wasn't sure if they were real.  

As we talked, it turned out that this was just not a question that popped in her head at the moment.  Earlier in the day, one of her first grader friends told Aleena and others that if you didn't wear green when you went to sleep on the eve before St. Patrick's day, that a leprechaun would come and pinch you.  Aleena and two other girls had decided that they would test this by not wearing green at night.  

Aleena's resolve broke, however, and she decided that discretion was the better part of valor and donned green pajamas.  The fact that Jacob told her that he had been pinched for not wearing green in the past may have pushed her over the edge.  The whole thing was pretty cute.