Kaen Player


“The Kaen is the oldest form of the free reed family, the great great grandaddy of the harmonica and accordion. This type of instrument goes back to at least 1100BC (the harmonica and accordion only go back to the 1830s).”
(read more about the kaen and hear a sample here)
This guy was playing on the street in front of the Shangri La; he played pretty well. The kaen makes such a beautiful sound on the city street. I dropped a 10 baht coin in his bowl and listened for a moment before walking by.

Some Random Memories – Widespread Panic Edition

Note: There is no hope of remembering the whole trip in order, so my travelogue is going to be patterned after the trip itself – wildly chaotic, but hopefully enjoyable.
– The day before we left Bangkok to Nam’s hometown, the door of the safe in our room got stuck and refused to open. Contents: Both of our passports and airplane tickets, most of the dowry in cash and gold jewelry, our wedding bands, my camera, my laptop, my Omega, etc., etc., and just what in the hell do we do now. Several calls down to the front desk only to be assured that “someone was coming up right away” to fix it were not very assuring after a couple hours of no-show and repeated excuses. Nutty saved the day by threatening the pissant on the other end with Vigorous Blows to Cranium, as well as demanding to see the night manager. Five minutes later, the manager, the pissant, and a chubby safecracker dude bearing a bruteforce card-cabled-to-scanner device (just like the one Edward Furlong used to jackpot an ATM in Terminator 2) showed up at our door and got that sucker open. The problem, as described by Mr. Safecracker: “You crammed too much shit in there.” Yeah, well it’s hard choosing which of my pieces of shit (comp, camera, wedding ring display case, or watch) to leave exposed to the jackals, pal. Besides, I’m providing you with work, you little hacker nerd, so shut up.
– The day after the wedding, we chartered a double decker bus to take our group of fifty or so to Khon Kaen airport, where we would all board the same flight back to Bangkok. It was sweet, real sweet – a double decker bus! With an Orientalish Santa Claus airbrushed on the side! – but we encountered a problem that I, noob to the ways of double decker buses, never even considered. The bus was too tall to pass under the ceiling of the terminal building! Panic! Only an hour until our plane leaves! Panic! The great thing about Thailand, though – most everything is for hire if you ask nicely and offer compensation. We parked the bus in a parking lot adjacent to the terminal building and hired a nearby van to shuttle people in, and a pickup truck for the luggage. It took the pickup four or five trips – completely stuffed to the gills – to take all of the luggage to the departures curb (most of our group had never quite taken to the whole “travelling light” concept). I took the last van in, again with loyal friend Nutty by my side, sure we would be left on the runway watching the rest of our group fly off into the bright blue sky… Only to have to sit and wait for an hour because the plane was delayed.
– I made a previous reference to this, but it bears emphasizing: A speedhead taxi driver, in between spurts of almost killing us during his mad dashes between road hazards and battered trucks carrying fermented soy milk packaging, kept touching my forearm and telling me I could be a boxer and how he “like a man.” Panic! Finally, right after he finished telling me how he had two sons at home (note: quite disturbing after the Like a Man confession), tried to grab at my grointifical region! Luckily, I saw it coming a mile away and grabbed his wrist! He made another grab with his other hand! Can you say Runaway Taxi? The cab careened wildly down Soi Ratchada as we battled for possession of my testiculars! Suddenly, Nam came to my rescue and used her sandal straps to strangle the gayhomospeedheadcabbie-freak into unconsciousness, just as we plowed into the back of a tuktuk carrying a family of five from Munich!
Okay, not really.

Random Keitai Thoughts

This is just wrong.
It was very refreshing to carry around a no-nonsense phone for a couple weeks. No camera, no egg-spaceship styling, no blinky blink LED distractions. I bought the cheapest Nokia with plan for unlimited usage from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM, and it worked just fine except for the interface, which was from like 1972 or something. It took like five presses of various buttons just to see numbers I received calls from!
The best thing about GSM phones, though, are the size. I remember when my Docomo phones were that small! I’m telling you, I’d choose a non-camera phone in a second if it were a viable option for AU…

Numbers

Some numbers may be just the thing to get my company-controlled brain really working again after two full weeks of respite.
– Rating of the wedding on scale of 1 to 10: 9.7
– Rating of the trip on scale of 1 to 10: 9.5
– Total number of digital photos taken by myself and my brother: Approx. 2500 (8 GB worth)
– Total number of film photos taken just at wedding: 17 rolls
– Total number of edited hours of wedding video taken by T: 3 hours
– Total number of edited hours of wedding video taken by hired videographer: Unknown
– Total number of dancers at our wedding ceremonies: 50? 100? (I have to watch the video)
– Total number of elephants at wedding: 2
– Total number of white suits I wore for the wedding: 2 (morning Thai-style suit/evening tux; both went well with white pimp boots I brought from Japan)
– Total number of monkeys that jumped on my back at the monkey temple: 1
– Total number of boss monkeys that bared their teeth at me and chased me into the ocean: 1
– Total number of beautiful ladyboys involved with our wedding (attending or working with vendors), not including dancers: At least 5
– Total number of times I knocked on my pal’s door (knowing he had a girl in the room), heard the soundtrack to Raiders of the Lost Ark playing at full volume, and was subsequently scarred for life with visions of him standing over the bed with a bullwhip in a Mola Ram pose: 1
– Kilograms of mangosteen consumed by my father over the course of a five days: 3.5
– Average number of fishballs in a standard bowl of noodles in Thailand: 4
– Total number of 600ml bottles of water I consumed over two weeks: A hundred?
– Total number of guards our driver bribed in order to enter beach compound where the King of Siam’s doctor lives in Hua Hin: 1
– Total number of bags of fruit used to bribe said guard: 1
– Total number of average taxi drivers we had in Bangkok: 10
– Total number of good taxi drivers we had in Bangkok: 7
– Total number of bad taxi drivers we had in Bangkok: 3
– Total number of taxi drivers on speed who kept feeling my arm and telling me “I like man” in Bangkok: 1
– Total number of times I had to raise my voice at the Fortune hotel’s front desk to get stuff done: 1
– Total number of suits made in Bangkok: 1
– Total number of times said suit saved my ass when a job interview unexpectedly appeared at the end of the trip: 1
– Total number of girls who remember T’s name on Hua Hin’s bar strip: 20? 30?
– Total number of flowers bought off from cute/pitiful child hawkers during one long night of drinking: Two fistfulls
– Total number of Scandinavians currently vacationing in Hua Hin, Thailand: Approximately half the population of Stockholm
– Total number of times I felt embarrased to look Japanese because of rude/loud/retarded Japanese in the room: 5+
– Total number of times I have smiled at a cop on a street in Bangkok and he smiled back: 4
– Total number of times I have smiled at a cop on a street in Osaka and he smiled back: 0
– Total number of times I have smiled at a cop on a street in Los Angeles and he smiled back: Are you crazy?
– Total number of times (ever) I have seen people peeing on the street in Bangkok: 3
– Total number of times (ever) I have seen people peeing on the street in Los Angeles: 15
– Total number of times (ever) I have seen people peeing on the street in Osaka: The entire working adult male population, plus a few bums and even a prarie woman or two thrown in for variety.
-Total number of times my ass was saved by family/friends during wedding/entire trip: Countless. Seriously. Thank you all.

The Death of 2

Remember what I said about problems cropping up at the last minute? Well, guess what. Nam’s desktop pc broke this week with most of our wedding planning data on it – irrecoverable. Then just as I finished loading all of the necessary stuff on my laptop last night, the hard drive failed – unbootable.
Dammit.
Gotta figure something out.

Last Minute

It’s funny how the day before you leave for an extended break, problems have an uncanny way of popping up all at once.
I am in evasion mode…. Just call me stealth ninja, baby.
I will be picking up a cell as soon as I hit Bangkok and will post the number here and over at the airset site. Nam already has one so we’ll send out that info at the same time.
Four hours before the end of work. Time to wrap things up.

Proper Recourse

So a newspaper prints a cartoon depicting your god/deity/religious figure in an unflattering way, and you’re like all indignant and enraged like the Iron Sheik, right? What do you do? March and demonstrate? Ban the newspaper? Burn down the embassy of the offending country the newspaper was printed in, plus a few others for good measure?
No, this is a perfect chance to utilize the Muslim Man Complaint Box.

Thoughts on Google Video

Exploring the depths of Google Video is kind of like flipping through a giant record collection. 99% of what you find is chaff, so discovering the occassional gem is exciting. Word of mouth about good selections gets around quickly so certain works become popular overnight. It’s a lot more rewarding, somehow, finding that one work that really tickles your own fancy, even though it might not appeal to other people.

the face of jesus in my soup

Is the name of the song. Check out this video someone laid down to it:

The creator says this is “footage from local library of international driving instructions.”
I really like looking at instructional videos and cars from that era. I remember we still had “What to Do in Case of Nuclear Attack” (duck and cover!) posters on the wall at my elementary school. Even back then, I knew they were remnants from another time.

Hardly News

So after 9/11, I signed up for e-mail updates from CNN for breaking news items – you know, back then it was impossible to get to major news sites and even the big newsbloggers were getting bogged down with traffic. I figured it was a good way to be kept kinda in the loop for major events, etc… It worked out kind of in that way, in that sometimes the e-mails would cover stories that we just don’t get coverage of in Japan, even on CNN International.
The thing is, though, it sometimes makes me sad. Like today, the CNN Breaking News alert I received contained the following info only:

The Pittsburgh Steelers win Super Bowl XL, beating the Seattle Seahawks 21-10 Sunday night.

I may just be completely out of the loop, but hearing that just makes me want to say whoop-dee-fucking-do. Mind you, these News Alerts are not daily or anything, they only send them when “important” shit happens. So I guess Superbowl results now rate right up there with devastation of entire cities and American soldiers fighting and dying in foreign lands (actually, they stopped sending updates about the war over a year ago).
I guess what I’m trying to say is: Priorities, bitches. In the grander scheme of things, individual sports competition results rank very low. Plus, anyone who didn’t already know the score by the time you sent the News Alert probably doesn’t give half a shit.
It is Monday, and I have had my rant.
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It occurs to me that I could be told to simply opt out of the mailings. Believe me, I have tried…