Bangkok Bombings

Just a quick note: We came back from Bangkok a day early and are back safe in Isan, so were fortunate enough to avoid the bombings.
I got a touch of the stomach flu or something but am toughing it out and watching the news.
Be safe, everyone.
More bombs exploded just after midnight. There were reports that a bomb either exploded or was found to be a false alarm at Buddy Bar on Khao Sarn Road (this area, and this bar, always full of foreigners, might have been the most politically significant target).
This map from the BBC site shows the confirmed explosion locations before midnight.

Fellow Ugmericans…

Just a quick observation today: When any random group of expats gathers overseas for a social event – be it a holiday, a sports event, or even just a quick drink at the local watering hole – why does there always seem to be at least one TOTAL FUCKING PSYCHO among their numbers? You know who I mean, the asshole who likes to get in the middle of conversations he couldn’t hope to begin understanding, and wants nothing more than to prove his conviction in his simpleton viewpoints by punching someone in the face… And why does the psycho always seem to be from the same country as you?

my week in signs

“jump for joy! you made it without wetting your pants!”

There’s always time for air hockey… with your gang.

No peddling measly wares, you Dickensian biotches (M-F 8:00 – 10:00AM)

The coolest car I saw this month. Some type of Hillman.

A line of mops, brooms, and scrub brushes marketed under the brand name BLACK MAN. So wrong, I just had to have one – now that’s marketing!

Overall, the sparse furnishing and utilitarian decor force us to recommend Mass Casualty Zone A over this one.

What starts in the men’s room ends in the man room.

Weather Revelation

I am shocked.
It’s COLD outside. I’m in Thailand, and it’s COLD outside. Granted, I was standing on my veranda in my boxers, but it’s genuinely cold! In Thailand!
I’m so happy, I could cry! But I think I’ll take a midnight shower and bask in the shivering COLDNESS instead (this weather will only last until February, apparently).
OK, this still doesn’t explain why some people on the street are wearing winter parkas (!), or why there are earmuffs and wool scarves (!!) on sale at the department stores (it’s cold enough for me to use a warm blanket at night – perhaps for the first time, here – but I’m pretty sure I’ll never need anything warmer than long sleeve shirts during the day).
Ha ha, I just took a shower and I’m freezing my ass off! In Thailand!
This is like the best day of my life.

A Thai Fish Sanctuary

Last weekend, a student called up and said he wanted to show me a local sight. “Well,” I figured, “whatever it is, it should beat the hell out of tipping water buffaloes on yet another Saturday afternoon.”
So the wife and I got in the car and picked up said student and his girl at her apartment. We drove about ten kilometers on back country roads with potholes nearly the size of our current ride, my sister-in-law’s cute blue Opel Corsa.
After nearly running over several wild chickens and sleeping dog, we arrived at our destination:

The entrance to Wan Macha Fish Sanctuary.
A fish sanctuary?

I’m just guessing it would suck to get stuck in a hungry catfish’s mouth.

Don’t let the perspective fool you, some of these guys are longer than my leg.
After feeding the lake monsters, we walked around a bit to view the rest of the sanctuary. As it turns out, while they are obviously doing a great job of caring for the fish, the whole thing is ruined because they are keeping other animals under horrible conditions. I choose not to show most of them here (in fact, I chose not to not even take too many photos because it made me sick), but there were crocodiles, monitor lizards, several bird species, rabbits, guinea pigs, and a pair of foxes all kept in small cinder block cells like in some medieval zoo. Also, they were keeping adult monkeys isolated in one square meter cages made of chain link fence, which were blessedly cooler than the cinder block cells, but way too cramped, and the monkeys just looked like they wanted to die… They wouldn’t even eat the fruit we tried to give them. The only comparable lack of compassion and common sense I’ve ever seen was in a Kyushu zoo around ten years ago, when I saw a sick lion sitting in its own feces in 100 degree weather…
Anyway, more photos:

Now that’s a lawn mower.

I believe I’ve found Christmas Dinner!

A beautiful place, ruined by the ignorance of its keepers.
For more catfish porn, see my Flickr set here.

50 Amazing-but-True Holiday Facts

* In the village where the original Saint Nicholas was born,
children celebrate Christmas by giving gifts to old men
with long white beards.
* Children whose families celebrate both Hanukkah and Christmas
have a 97 percent higher chance of getting socks as a gift.
* The yule log was originally a symbol of good digestion
following an overlarge Christmas feast.
* The Japanese term for Christmas, Kurisumasu Omedeto, can also
be loosely translated as “Morning of the Greedy Children.”
* On December 23, 1775, as Ben Franklin staggered out of the
Continental Congress Christmas Party on the arm of colonial
party girl Patience Rutledge, a furious Mrs. Franklin hurled
a fruitcake at him, striking the Liberty Bell instead.
* The sugar rush of a fruitcake is canceled out by its alcohol
* For the past decade, the Spanish-speaking Santa at the
Del Amo mall in Torrance, CA, has been played by Erik Estrada.
* Resurrected by Budweiser in the 20th century, the phrase
“Wassup!” comes from a Christmas drinking game from the Middle
Ages in which players chugged hot wassail. The first to vomit
— or “wass-up” — would then be drowned in a nearby lake.
* Next year, Mars, Inc. will debut special M&M versions for
Purim and Yom Kippur.
* The dogs barking “Jingle Bells” on the novelty record were
not dogs at all, but parrots, which can mimic dogs and are
easier to train.
* Jesus was actually born on January 1, but Joseph and Mary
moved the date back a week to get a government-approved
tax deduction.
* As part of top-secret “Operation Bagdhad Bells,” the Bush
administration actually considered sending Salvation Army
troops into Iraq.
* The first-ever Hanukkah latke recipe featured turnips,
rhubarb and kale. These proved so unpopular that many
different vegetables were substituted until the current
potato version prevailed.
* In certain parts of the world, eggnog is used as a sexual
* In Latvia, indoor Christmas trees were originally fake.
Real trees started being used in 1923 when the factory
making the fake ones burned down.
* During the early 1970s, the Hasbro company attempted to
build a “North Pole” toy factory at Point Barrow, Alaska.
Construction was halted when feasibility studies predicted
labor shortages.
* In freshly-fallen snow, reindeer hoof prints are indisguishable
from those of the common Missouri white-tailed deer.
* In some parts of Scandinavia where evergreens are legally
protected, people still follow a tradition of making Christmas
trees from potted poison ivy plants tended indoors. The locals
say that along with gifts, Kris Kringle brings immunity to the
skin irritants the plant produces.
* Most serious drummers consider “pa-rum-pum-pum-pum” a
distastefully pedestrian riff.
* “It’s a Wonderful Life” was original a detective story written
for star Humphrey Bogart — and in the story, whenever a
bell rang an angel got cement shoes.
* The literal translation of “Chanukah” from ancient Hebrew into
English means, “Buy seven, get the eighth one free.”
* After the Three Wise Men left, Joseph bartered the gold and
frankincense for more practical gifts: a camel-ready infant
seat and three hours of babysitting. He kept the myrrh because
of its well-known ability to heal swaddling rash.
* Studies show that neighbors tend to complain about wattage-
sucking, multimedia outdoor decorations because they are
* On the eighth day of Christmas, Jesus was circumcised.
* The oil in the Temple menorah lasted twice as long as now
thought, but the information was suppressed by parents who
couldn’t afford 16 nights of Chanukah presents.
* The most popular eggnog in Russia is not made from chicken
eggs, but from caviar.
* Every year between Christmas Day and New Year’s day, there is
a 2-for-1 sale on caribou patties at the Anchorage Deli.
* The tradition of kissing under the mistletoe originated in
Germany in the 18th century when a person who was deathly
allergic to mistletoe came in contact it and had to be revived
by mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.
* Balthasar, the third King of Orient, was gay.
* Absurd as it seems, behavioral scientists claim kids don’t want
expensive toys — what they REALLY want is just to be loved.
* Beginning in 2001, the White House Christmas tree decorations
have included a novelty ornament given to President Bush by
Vice President Cheney: A silver-plated election ballot with
a hanging chad.
* Holiday fruitcake began as a prank made from carefully
reshaped reindeer droppings.
* The Egyptians celebrated a holiday they called “Chrystmus”
over 1700 years before the birth of Christ.
* The primary causes of death during the holidays are heart
attacks and suicide caused by the arrival of credit-card bills.
* According to the Department of Homeland Security’s 2007
strategic plan, 2006 will be the last year youngsters can
sit on a mall Santa’s lap without first passing through a
metal detector.
* Properly prepared, figgy pudding is a potent aphrodisiac.
* The average height of a Christmas tree (5′ 4″) is exactly
the same as the distance between Jesus’s hands on the cross.
* For years, the U.S. Postal Service has secretly answered
letters addressed to Santa Claus. Due to outsourcing of the
Holiday Mail division to Mumbai, such letters are now more
likely to get positive responses if they are written in Punjabi.
* Studies show that while toddlers love Christmas tree lights,
they prefer Christmas tree *fires*.
* “Black Friday” originated as a ritual of purchasing highly
prized whimsical curios for unconverted village urchins
and then burning them together at the stake.
* Tinsel is an excellent garnish for chicken or veal.
* Red and green became official Christmas colors in 1939, when
it was recognized that red marked-down price tags brought
in green cash during the shopping season.
* “Extreme-Ultra-Orthodox” Jews have only six non-holidays a year.
* “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” was banned from the airwaves
and bookstores from 1950-1956 because of its implied support
for Communism.
* Pope Gregory moved Christmas from its original day, March 17,
at the request of Irish bishops and barley farmers who were
promoting a new holiday to commemorate Saint Patrick.
* Eggnog was created after its predecessors beefnog, hamnog and
troutnog failed miserably.
* The reason you almost never see purple Christmas lights is
that Saint Nicholas, the prototype for Santa Clause, believed
purple was satanic. He even threatened to have any of his
parishioners who wore purple excommunicated.
* Reindeer feces have been known to burn holes in roof shingles.
* For nine years following the 1843 publication of “A Christmas
Carol,” Ebenezer was the most popular boys’ name in Great
* If you pour sourmash whiskey on a pine wreath purchased at
Wal-Mart anytime between 1998 and 2002 and set it aflame,
it gives off the scent of warm apple cider.
(via osaka bill)