Tuesday, January 31, 2012



Today we have experienced all three of Chiang Rais seasons in one day. This morning is was cold, this afternoon it was hot, and this evening it stormed. Amazing.

I love 'Easy Monday' because it means I usually get to hear from some friends. That keeps me going. So, here's a little more from the song: "Lend me your ears and I'll sing you a song, and I'll try not to sing out of key. Oh, I get by __ __ __ __ __ __ __. Mmm, gonna try __ __ __ __ __ __ __." (my edit) Hint: Really? OK, four guys sang it.

This morning I took Lisa to her massage appointment and went to get gas. As I passed one of the police checkpoints that usually pulls over motorbikes, I was waved over to the side of the road. The officer pointed to my registration paper in the front window. All cars and trucks must display the square paper that displays the year of registration. We had a total communication breakdown, though I understood what he was trying to say. Finally he called a senior officer over, we had a few 'non words', I heard the word 'falang' (foreigner) several times and he waved me off as they all laughed. The immediate feeling was relief, followed by 'why are they laughing at me?', and then relief again. They could have tried to get a fine from me. Later Boot explained that our registration was way overdue. Ooops.

Every day Khun La spends most of the afternoon grooming the yards. She rakes up leaves and flowers, waters and sweeps. The place looks immaculate when she's done. This evening rain came without warning and just dumped on us. It came with a strong wind that soon died down, but the result was dramatic. After it stopped I went out to the front to remove the rocks from the drain pipes. As I rounded the corner of the house toward the front it looked like a landscape from another planet. The wind had blown the giant leaves from the trees across the road into our yard. The lights on our wall created eerie shadows on the lawn from the leaves. Tomorrow morning we will have to explain to La that she doesn't have to clean it up by herself.

I have noticed an interesting contradiction when it comes to patience here. When we go to the markets and retail stores it's not uncommon to see people patiently waiting for a customer. There are often people waiting on the road for someone, or waiting for the right time to do a job. This seems to change when the operation of a vehicle is involved. All of a sudden sitting still is not an option. I have spoken about the 'law of perpetual motion', but there is also an urgency that doesn't always follow logic. On the highway, with a red light clearly visible ahead, there is the need to pass as if points are being given for who reaches the light first. Dangerous passing in order to reach a known traffic area baffles me. Not everyone drives like this of course. There are those who have just entered the age of the wheel and drive in the city like it's a country road, very patiently. Hmm.

Tonight is the last night of the concert series. The rain stopped and then we heard what sounded like thunder. It was fireworks across the river. We haven't been to any of them, and we missed groups like 'Zeal', 'Pancake', and 'Potato', to name a few. I've heard a few tunes from Potato and they're good. The next series I simply must go to and experience Thai rock and roll 'live'.

My little phone saga is almost over. Tomorrow or the next day I should receive my iPhone 4S which is coming from Singapore. It actually costs a bit less from the distribution point than from the retailer. None of it makes a lot of sense, but that's the way it is. Amazing Thailand.

Have a Happy Tuesday.


"I think the one lesson I have learned is
that there is no substitute for paying attention."
~Diane Sawyer

Monday, January 30, 2012



Here in Chiang Rai we've moved to cold nights and hot days. We had a mellow weekend with lots of tennis, trips to various markets, and a different concert every night from across the river.

The 'Old School Friday' song was "At Last" as sung by the late Etta James. If you don't know it, you can Google it; there are videos and sound clips. Now it's time for 'Easy Monday', and a song we all know well. "What would you do if I sang out of tune, would you stand up and walk out on me?" Hint: The title is in seven words. Too easy.

Chiang Rai is really busy these days. We're in the midst of 'High Season' so there are visitors coming and going all over the place, plus there are continued New Year celebrations for some, and the 750th Anniversary is also upon us. There are banners above the roads with announcements of various things, but we don't know what they say. It's a very strange feeling to be illiterate. Hmm.

Saturday we stayed on the compound all day. Lisa's been working on a new cast acrylic print for her Chiang Mai exhibit next month. There were more things to take care of for the promotion, and arrangements have been made to ship the art to the gallery when the time comes.

Sunday was a busier day. We went to Central Plaza in the morning to get vegetables for the juice drink and look for white acrylic paint. It's very odd, but there is no pure white available. A trip through the downtown market is always an adventure and this time was no exception. We wandered through aisles we don't usually take and saw things we didn't know about. We passed an old lady sitting in front of a stall selling string. She had rolls in various sizes in a couple of baskets. I guess people need string.

In the afternoon we started watching the men's final of the Australian Open. Then it was time to feed the dogs and go into town for dinner. We knew they'd be playing when we got home but we planned to stop by 'Watch Guy's' place and check on the score. He had closed his shop early and was probably upstairs watching the match without interruption. After dinner we drove up to Makro. As we sat at a light on the highway Lisa noticed a blue glow across the street. It was a late model pick-up truck and we figured they had the lights under the truck. What a surprise we got when he turned the corner and we saw that the lights were in the wheels. It was a dazzling, mind-blowing spectacle of lights and chrome. I'm not sure how it was done, but it was quite unique. Putting LED strips of different colors on vehicles is a big fad here, and everything that rolls is fair game for treatment.

This morning near the end of doggie ball play, the ball bounced around and then rolled into one of the drain pipes in the front lawn. BamBam saw it disappear and began digging in the lawn, determined to retrieve it. She had to be taken away on the leash. Every time she was out in the yard she went back to her digging spot to continue her 'work'.
Later, I went into the field next door with a long piece of bamboo and tried to push it back into the yard. Just when I had given up, it popped out. BamBam is happy and so is the lawn.

Have a Great Week.


"Sometimes, we just need to be amazed by the small things."
~Angela Pacheco

Friday, January 27, 2012

Friday Funnies


Blue sky and warm temps pretty much describes the current weather pattern in Chiang Rai. It was a perfect day to continue with the errands that got cut short yesterday.

The 'Song of '78' was "Hold The Line" by Toto. Second day clues brought lots of mail. Now it's time for 'Old School Friday', and we go back to 1961. "__ __ my love has come along. My lonely days are over, and life is like a song."
Clue: This song, written in 1941 became an R&B/Pop smash for the singer who told us to 'Tell Mama' and tried to
get Henry to dance with her. The two word title is synonymous with 'finally'.

This morning we started out with an amended list from yesterday. We began our adventure on Bus Station street at the health food store. After interviewing the owner we learned that business has been good with all the tourists in town. Next stop, Big C where they finally have our favorite water back in stock. On the way to the vegetable section I ususally try not to let my eyes wander over into the meat section. Today they wandered and I spotted fresh tentacles. What? There were other things I couldn't even identify, then I quickly turned my head. In the produce section we found the mangos, which are wrapped in a foam sleeve to keep them from being bruised. Nice touch.

Our last errand of the day was a stop at 7-11 to pay our utility bills and put more money on my phone. We passed by Mengrai Square where bamboo umbrellas and benches were being arranged for a future ceremony/celebration. There used to be beautiful flower gardens on two sides of the square, but they have been removed to make room for this special year's events.

This afternoon our neighbor across the street got a visit from one of the big 'Dragon Crews'. A truck containing about 15 young men pulled up and they began beating their drums and cymbals. Then they put on the Dragon and went into his yard to do their thing. A little while later there was a flurry of fire-crackers and it was over. He has them come every year at this time.

Have a Wonderful WeekEnd. It's time for the 'Funnies'. Big thanks to my friend Claire for the laugh.


Radio Conversation

This is supposed to be the transcript of an actual radio conversation between a US naval ship and Canadian authorities off the coast of Newfoundland in October 1995. The Radio conversation was released by the Chief of Naval Operations on Oct. 10, 1995.

A. Please change your direction 15 degrees to the North to avoid a collision.

B. Recommend you divert YOUR course 15 degrees to South to avoid a collision.

A. This is the Captain of a US Navy ship. I say again, divert YOUR course.

B. No. I say again, you divert YOUR course.


B. This is a lighthouse. Your call.

Thursday, January 26, 2012



A warm day followed by a warm night. My kind of weather. I'm not banking on it though, it could change any time. There was a lot of activity in Chiang Rai today as the 750th Anniversary celebrations went into high gear.

It would appear that the 'Song of '78' is not readily available from your memory banks. Here's a little more:
"It's not in the words that you told me, girl. It's not in the way you say you're mine, ooh. It's not in the way that you come back to me. It's not in the way that your love set me free. It's not in the way you look or the things that you say that you'll do. __ __ __, love isn't always on time, love isn't always on time... Whoa whoa whoa." Clue: The title is something you might tell someone when you have to leave the phone for a moment.

This morning we went to Makro for a few things and planned to go to bus station street for more errands. As we drove down the highway towards town, we had just crossed the bridge over the river when we were confronted with a detour. What? A policeman was standing in front of a temporary gate across the road. We followed the other cars into a neighborhood very close to where we lived in the rental house. We approached a bottleneck so I turned deeper into the old hood. What finally happened is, we ended up back on the highway near Big C, past our destination street.

Having completely changed our plans for the morning, we headed home. As we passed the Fan Guy's shop we saw a big Dragon and a drum crew doing their thing. We called our friend Chalit to see if he knew what the detour was all about. There was a big ceremony at Mengrai Monument marking the beginning of the year-long celebration of the 750th Anniversary of Chiang Rai Province. This evening there is another big event at Rai Maefarluang for dignitaries and it turns out we don't get to go see the exhibit again. Oh well, it will be up for the whole year.

The whole city was buzzing with activity tonight. There is a park near the center of town where an old prison used to be. It was the focus of what looked like community based celebrations, similar to the Saturday night Walking Street. Traffic was thick and streets were blocked. I wish we had an English-language newspaper in town so we could keep up with all of this. I guess we'll have to get one of our friends to keep us in the loop.

Have a Thrilling Thursday.


"Enthusiasm is contagious. Be a carrier."

Wednesday, January 25, 2012



Today was another one of those wonderful weather days in Chiang Rai. The fireworks continued with no particular pattern or time frame, and music has been in the distance every night.

Day two of 'Easy Monday' brought a few more responses to "Mr. Postman" by The Marvelettes. Cousin Rikki sent me a list of songs dealing with the mail and I realized that last Friday's song was also about mail. Hmm, means nothing of course. Since no one requested a year for the Wednesday song, I'm picking a 'Song of '78' for no particular reason. Here's what I remember: "It's not in the way that you hold me. It's not in the way you say you care. It's not in the way you've been treating my friends... __ __ __, love isn't always on time, whoa whoa whoa (repeat)." Clue: This tune is by a group that blended many genres into their sound. Note that they were not named for a dog from Kansas. The song seems to be about maintaining the status quo, I think. Now you'll have to write me and tell me what you think it means.

This turned out to be a 'stay at home' day. Yesterday, when we went to the main market we passed a stall that sells many things. I noticed that they had the paper clothes that are burned during the New Year celebrations. There were boxes with a shirt and tie, looking like they were real clothes only made of thin cardboard. There was also a derby hat. I didn't take the time to look, but I'm guessing there was a car in there too. The woman who owned the stall gave me a big smile as I left. I think she was amused that I was amused.

We have been watching the Australian Open with semi-focused attention this year. Some matches mean more than others. There's also the fact that almost all the commentary is in Thai this year so we have the sound turned down. This tends to allow the mind to wander to other things, like the dogs or the computer. It's getting down to the end and the excitement is starting to build. Oh yeah, it's just a game.

Chiang Rai is in the middle of the 'High Season' and it appears to be a good one this time. There are 'visitors' everywhere and tour busses and vans roll up and down the major streets. Many events in other parts of the country have hampered previous seasons so we're hoping this one will be good for the local merchants.

Tomorrow will no doubt be an errand day and then an evening of art talk at Chalit's photo exhibit. I'm looking forward to observing the reactions as people view his work.

Time for a Wacky Wednesday.


"If you cross a bridge before you come to it,
you have to pay the toll twice."
~Benjamin Franklin

Tuesday, January 24, 2012



I won't bore you with the weather. I'll just tell you that this morning when we left the house I dressed appropriately, and an hour later it was inappropriate.

Two people have let me know that they remember this Golden Oldie. Now's your chance to make history (555). Here are some memorable lyrics from the song: "Oh, you better wait a minute (wait, wait a minute __ __) (Repeat several times.) Please check it and see, just one more time for me... Deliver the letter, the sooner the better..." Hint: Well, maybe just a tiny one: It was be marvelous if you got this 'Easy Monday' song.

This morning we went up the highway to Makro. Our mission was the veggies for our drink, and chicken for the dogs. Each time we go, there is the necessary walk-through of the store to see what might have returned. Today we discovered that our favorite drinking water is back in stock. We also learned that there are Curry Prawn, Hot Chili Squid, Chili Prawn Cracker, and Jack Pea Extrude flavors of potato chips. Simply amazing.

Our drive down the highway to Bliss Studios was easy since the morning traffic had just thinned out. We picked up Chalit and began the real adventure of the day. As we drove across town he told us about the opening night of his exhibit, and some of the feedback he's received. He was excited to show us the exhibit and be able to explain each photo. We were excited about seeing this body of work that we'd heard about for 8 months as it was unfolding. To see it with the artist's commentary would be a real treat.

The setting at Rai Maefarluang is like driving into a forest preserve. Tall, old trees covered with vines stand watch over gardens bathed in slivers of sunlight. In the distance is a lake surrounded by green lawns. The first photo we saw was a portrait of 'the artist' taken by his brother. It was outside the gallery hall and made quite an impression. Inside, we started at the beginning and Chalit described who each person was and what it was like to shoot them. It was a wonderful way to 'meet' the 32 faces on the walls. The exhibit will be up for the entire year of the 750 celebration. He's hoping to make a book of the photos after that. Thursday we've been invited to go to another VIP showing, as guests of the artist. One of his next assignments will be taking portraits of each player on the Chiang Rai United football team. Things are definitely looking up for our favorite photographer.

After dropping Chalit off we headed home. On the way, we stopped by 'Fan Guy' to see about the vacuum cleaner because we hadn't heard from him. They couldn't fix it and we figured something out: They call if they've fixed it and want to get paid. If they can't fix it, they don't bother calling. Hmm. Now we know.

Have a Happy Tuesday.


"Our greatest strength lies not in how much we differ from each other
but in how much - how very much - we are the same."
~Eknath Easwaran

Gettin' Funky, Thai Style

Monday, January 23, 2012



The weather here in Chiang Rai has been more of the same, with a slight lean to warmer. Our weekend was busy with various social events.

The 'Old School Friday' song was "I'm Gonna Sit Right Down And Write Myself A Letter", by Billy Williams. You should know this song. Oh well, it's time for 'Easy Monday' and a song from 1962, by a 'Girl Group'. Sing along...
"There must be some word today, from my boyfriend so far away. Please __ __, look and see. Is there a letter, a letter for me?" Hint: The rates are up, and the person this song is being sung to has a lighter bag these days, thanks to the internet. So Easy.

Saturday morning we met our friend Atom for coffee at Doi Chaang. During our visit we learned about some of the things that happen during Chinese New Year. There are visits to the temple, special meals, and the burning of play money, model cars, and clothes, in memory of the ancestors. Some of this might not seem unusual, but the temple visit is at midnight, and some of the other parts begin a 6am. We also learned that used cars in good condition are bringing a good price on the market because of the flooding in the Bangkok area and the south. So many cars were ruined that it's becoming a sellers market.

In the afternoon we had a visit from Sutheera and Nukoon. We always have fun visits with them and this was no different. More impromptu lessons on the culture, talk about dogs, and the growth going on in Chiang Rai.

Saturday night we went to a house-warming party at the new home of our friends Caty and Mee. Fortunately, it was a warm evening so the yard party was comfortable. Caty is co-owner/founder of Prataap Jai, which has become a cultural melting pot in the neighborhood. We saw lots of friends and made more new ones. One of the special attractions was their six-week old puppy. He was the life of the party, believing that his sole job was to play with everyone and anything within reach. After a couple of hours he wandered over to someone's scarf that was on the ground, curled up and went to sleep.

Sunday morning we heard fireworks announcing the New Year. I'm just glad they didn't set them off at 6am. We are now in the year of the Dragon. In the evening we went to Jaffee's house for the double celebration of the New Year and Lisa's birthday. There were some traditional Chinese dishes served, along with some home-cooked Thai food. For awhile we knew all of the guests, and then another wave arrived that we didn't know. As the party grew we had more interesting conversations. I hung out with the manager of the Hill Tribe Museum and learned more about some of the villages in the region. We were talking about how progress moves in on old tradition and he showed me a photo he took of a large mesh satellite dish with chili being dried on the mesh. Not quite what it was meant for, but it worked.

Tomorrow we're going to Rai Maefarluang Gardens to see the special photo exhibition by our friend Chalit. I'll tell you all about it.

Have a Great Week.


"Re-examine all you have been told . . .
Dismiss what insults your Soul."
~Walt Whitman

Friday, January 20, 2012

Friday Funnies


We had another sunny, warm day here in Chiang Rai. The evening is very pleasant, which may mean that we're out of the really cold nights. I put in a lot of miles today and we got a lot accomplished. On to the weekend.

Well, only one person told me the 'Song of '86'. Lisa knew it was "I Didn't Mean To Turn You On", as sung by Robert Palmer. What a shame. You miss out on a special prize of a round trip ticket to Thailand. Maybe next time. (555)
It's time for 'Old School Friday' and this song has one of the longest titles ever, with 10 words. Remember this:
"__ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __, and make believe it came from you. I'm gonna write words oh so sweet, they're gonna knock me off my feet. A lotta kisses on the bottom, I'll be glad I got'em. I'm gonna smile and say I hope you're feeling better. I'll close with love the way you do. __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __, and make believe it came from you." Clue: This wonderfully crafted tune has the singer pretending that he got a letter from someone.

This morning we took the car into town for a bath. We hung out at Doi Chaang while we waited, browsing through a Bangkok newspaper over coffee. Once we got our car back we stopped at the pet supply for treats for the dogs, swung by Sinthanee to pick up our air/con remote, and then on to Big C. The place was all decorated for the Chinese New Year, with lots of red all over the place. There was a sale on little children's outfits in the traditional Chinese style and people were buying them in quantity. In the median of the driveway there was a big red dragon. It should be a memorable celebration.

This afternoon I went out to New Life Foundation for the Friday session with the clients. As soon as I got back to town I picked up Lisa and we headed west to meet with our friends Martin and Kay for work on the promotional elements for Lisa's Chiang Mai exhibit. With each exhibit there is a printed invitation, an online invitation, a poster, and a catalogue. Martin does the layout for all of these things, and Kay checks to make sure the Thai translations are correct and in the right places. All the work was completed and now it goes to the printer in Chiang Mai. We just got word that the U.S. Consul General in Chiang Mai will be the presenter for the exhibit.

After dinner we went back into town to pick up a few things at the Night Bazaar. We first stopped by 'Watch Guy' to get a battery for my watch and he and his wife were watching the Australian Open. It was near the end of a men's match and they had us sit down and watch it with them. We were all on the edge of our seats until the last point was scored. Even though it was a critical time in the match, he worked on my watch, looking over his shoulder from time to time. It was a fun encounter.

Tomorrow we're going to a house-warming party, and Sunday we'll celebrate Lisa's birthday and Chinese New Year.

Have a Wonderful WeekEnd.


The English Language

We take English for granted. But if we explore it's paradoxes, we find that quicksand can work slowly, boxing rings are square, and a guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig.

In what language do people recite a play and play at a recital? Ship by truck and send cargo by ship? Have noses that run and feet that smell? And why is it that a house burns up as it burns down?

More thoughts and questions from Richard Lederer next week.

Thursday, January 19, 2012



Today the weather in Chiang Rai stayed about the same. Cold nights and warm days. Of course, if one lives in the L.A. area it would seem warm at night. This was a day of errands, and napping through tennis.

So was it a New Years resolution not to play 'the game'? I know somebody out there knows this song. Here's more:
"You read me wrong. I wasn't tryin' to lead you on, not like you think. __ __ __ __ __ __ __. I know you expected a one-night-stand, when I refused, I knew you wouldn't understand. I'm sorry baby, __ __ __ __ __ __ __." Clues: This song is a cover of a 1984 recording, but became very popular with this version in '86. The singer is no longer with us, but left a wonderful catalogue of music.

This morning I made a solo run to Makro, our version of Costco. As I was leaving the poultry area I noticed a display that took me by surprise. Bright red, hard-boiled duck eggs in honor of Chinese New Year. Hmm. The actual day is on Monday, but the celebrating will probably go on throughout the weekend. We've heard fireworks already, and tonight I saw six lanterns floating upwards like a string of lights in the night sky.

Boot asked me to take a look at the vacuum cleaner this morning. Actually she said it was 'broke'. She may be right. I started it up and it moaned and groaned and then smoke came out. I took it to the repairman we call 'Fan guy' since that's what we usually take him.

The early rounds of the Australian Open haven't been that exciting, but they're great for watching and dozing after lunch. One more round and the action will heat up. I guess that could be considered a play on words since it's summer there and very hot.

Our plan to see Chalit's photo exhibit got changed to next Tuesday. That way he will be able to go with us and translate the bios for each subject and tell us a little about each shoot. All of the portraits are of people who have been important in Chiang Rai. It's part of the year-long celebration of the 750th anniversary of the province.

Right now, in Chiang Rai, there are tourists from all over the world enjoying the sights, sounds, and weather. During the day we saw people riding bikes, walking, and traveling in vans taking in the Northern aspect of Thailand.

Have a Thrilling Thursday.


"You give but little when you give of your possessions.
It is when you give of yourself that you truly give."
~Kahlil Gibran

Wednesday, January 18, 2012



We landed in Thailand on Saturday and today was the first day we stayed on the compound all day. The mid-week battery charge will be a good thing since the rest of the week looks to be busy.

The 'Easy Monday' song was "Smooth Operator" by Sade. Oh, now you remember. (Ha) I chose '86 to test you next:
"When I took you out, I knew what you were all about but when I did, __ __ __ __ __ __ __. Now I bring you home, you told me goodnight's not enough for you. I'm sorry baby __ __ __ __ __ __ __." Clue: The singer is apologizing for apparently leading someone on. Little did he know she was addicted to love.

Even though the mind was racing at 4 something this morning, we both held out until 6:30. Daku stirred a bit, but thought we were asleep. Yes, we tricked the dog, but he's a dog. He also likes to get up early. Whenever we go away he stays at Boot's apartment and wakes her up at 5am.

You know it's cold when it makes your eyes water. That's how it's been in the dim light of morning. Oh well, the days are getting longer and soon I'll be taking Daku out in a T-shirt and shorts. (Me, not him) Oh, the joys of weather. At least it's not snowing.

Tomorrow, while Lisa improves her beauty, I'll run errands. In the afternoon we'll go to see Chalit's photo exhibit at Rai Maefarluang.

Before we went to America I had looked for an iPhone 4S. They were released in Thailand the day after we left and the plan was to get one on our return. Guess what? 'No have'. That's the story from the iBeat store at Central Plaza. Every time I contact them I get the same answer: "We have a 32G model and that's all. We should get more tomorrow." Remember what John Lennon said: "Tomorrow never comes." Now I understand.

Time for a Wacky Wednesday.


"Victory awaits those who have everything in order.
People call this luck."
~Roald Amundson (polar explorer)