Tuesday, June 21, 2011

I Paparazi

As I've written before, a few weeks ago, our family went to Hua Hinn with five other families with whom we've become good friends.  One of the moms who was part of our group is actually very well known in Thailand.  Tik does a lot of PR work, and has appeared in many magazines and on TV.  She is definitely part of Thai's high society.  

When we were on the beach, I was taking photos of the kids and adults.  Tik posed for a number of photos with other people from our group.  She was wearing a bikini on the beach, and was a bit concerned that someone might see it an think it was inappropriate.  Tik asked me not to post the photos on Facebook, and while I teased her about it, easily agreed not to post them.  

When we returned home, I posted a lot of the photos from my trip.  I didn't upload any of the ones where you could see her in the bikini.  The next day, Tik told me that I could post the photos of her, but asked that I not tag them with her name so that only our mutual friends could see them.  I got the impression that Tik not only didn't mind that I posted them, but that she actually wanted me to do so.  

I posted the photos, and Tik and a number of our friends commented on the photos.  In one shot, our friend Jack was standing in between Tik and our friend Joy.  Apparently a reporter who knows Tik saw the photo.  He cropped Joy out of the photo, so it looked like Jack and Tik were alone together on the beach.  He posted it on his FB account and called her to ask about it.  A number of other Thai magazines called her asking her about the photo.  Tik explained to them that she was on a family vacation with friends and that the photo had been cropped and asked them not to publish it.  She called me and asked me to take the photos down, which I did.

I'm not sure about the law in Thailand, but in the U.S., the magazines would have no right to use the image unless I gave it to them.  The copyright lies with the photographer, not with the subject.  If they had published it, what I did would have depended on my friend.  If she was okay with it, I might have let it go.  Maybe I would have contacted the newspapers and attempted to get money from it.  If they published it against her wishes, maybe I would have helped her sue them.  

Who would have thought that such a simple photo would end up being a big deal. 

Oh My Photobook

I have taken a lot of photos in the last few years.  I have them organized in Aperture on my Macbook, I've published them on Facebook and Flickr, and printed a few hundred of them.  The one thing that I have been wanting to do for a while is to start making photo books with them.

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


Thailand will have their much anticipated elections on July 3rd.  The Peau Thai (red shirt allies) are led by Yingluck Shinwatra, the younger sister of deposed PM Thaksin Shinwatra.  Recent PM Abhisit will lead the Democrat party.  Of course there are also many smaller parties.

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.

Jacob's New Haircut

_MG_4729 by ebvImages
_MG_4729, a photo by ebvImages on Flickr.

Busy Summer

While this is going to be the first summer that I haven't stopped back in Cincinnati since we've been here, it will be a pretty busy summer for traveling.  Last week we did a short weekend trip to Hua Hinn.  Tim leaves on Saturday for a four day trip to Bali with a few of her friends.

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.

More Internet Woes No Mo?

After we returned on Sunday from our trip to Hua Hinn, I found that our Internet service was having issues again.  Finally, I got someone from True (the provider) to look at it today.  My connection would intermittently go out, and when it was on, it was only 10% of the normal speed.

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


_MG_4517 - Version 2

Hua Hinn

Tim and I took the family to Hua Hinn and stayed at the Hyatt Regency for the weekend.  We made with trip along with five other families.

The weather was mostly nice, although it did rain for a brief time each day that we were there.  Fortunately, the rain generally only lasted an hour or so.  

Except for dinner and some shopping, we didn't leave the hotel very much.  The have a great pool, a nice beachfront, and even a couple of game rooms for kids.  They also have plenty of places for adults to sit and relax.  

Jacob is always a bit of the odd man out on these trips.  Each family has a girl in the first grade (well, moving to 2nd grade now) at ISB, and they are all friends.  Nalin also gets along very well with the girls.  There is one other boy who is two years younger than Jacob.  They actually got along pretty well on this trip; playing video games together.

Tim, the boys and a dad went sailing on a catamaran for an hour each day.  They had a really good time, and Jacob is already planning on buying one of his own so that he can rent it out and make money.  Jacob definitely has an bit of an entrepreneurial spirit, as he comes up with lots of ideas for businesses.  Of course, it's better that these are still in the idea stage.

On Sunday, the girls rode on a "doughnut" boat.  It consists of a giant inter-tube with three seats in front, and a place for a person to kneel and ride in the back.  A jet ski pulls the boat through the water.  The ride is a lot of fun; fun if you are one of three people in the front seats. The person in the back has to stay on by holding on to handles.  Of course the girls rode in the front seats.  On the first trip, I rode in the back.  Very early on I could feel my arms burning, particularly when we hit a wave or even worse, when the jet ski would spin around and cause the doughnut to go in a circle.  During those moments, I realized that centrifugal forces is a real bitch.  

By the end of the ride, my arms were like jello.  Fortunately, one of the other dads is a fitness expert and is very good shape.  Jack took the next three shifts on the boat, and by the end, his arms were tired as well.  

I took a bunch of photos.  I'm having some Internet issues, so there will be more that show up in the blog later.  Some photos I agreed not to put online.  One of the moms is pretty well known in Thailand and she doesn't want photos of her in a bikini to get out.  She doesn't look bad in a bikini, it's just a cultural thing.  Of course that doesn't prevent me from teasing her that I'm going to sell them to a Thai tabloid.  





Thursday, June 2, 2011

Crazy Hair

This week things are wrapping up at school. Tuesday was crazy hair day in the elementary school, and Jacob and Aleena participated. Nalin decided not to do it this year.



Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Out of Stitches

Nalin had her stitches removed today.  Last week, while Tim and I were in the city, Nalin slid when climbing a tree and had a nasty cut on her leg.  A neighbor's driver ended up driving her to the clinic and then to the local hospital as we fought our way through traffic to get back home.

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.


_MG_3976 by ebvImages
_MG_3976, a photo by ebvImages on Flickr.

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.