toluene dreams

So we spent all day cleaning up the new house, something I swore we wouldn’t have to do because labor is so cheap here. As it turns out, the problem isn’t getting people to do menial tasks cheaply (we borrowed some workers from our housing developer for free, even). The problem is getting people to do menial tasks with any degree of proficiency (none) or to the hirer’s satisfaction (ditto). So I spent the whole day painting over stains, removing sprayed furniture glue from our floor tiles with paint thinner, developing new and exciting ways of removing mysterious black stains from our bathroom wall tiles (nylon brush + concentrated dish soap + industrial strength elbow grease). I’d like to say I got really high off the paint thinner, but all I really got was a stinging, burning sensation.on my hands after a couple hours. It brought back memories of helping my parents remodel our Fountain Valley house.
Tomorrow, we pack up and start moving.

hello world

We are flat out at the moment. The week has been very, very busy as we rush to move into the new (98% complete) house during the four day vacation I have from tomorrow. I spent Christmas day waiting for delivery trucks. When they came three hours late, they didn’t have everything they were supposed to have so we had to wait for trucks the next day, too. So pretty much, I hated Christmas again, but in a different way this year.
My experiment living and raising a family overseas is off to a great start. When I can finally stop sinking money into curtains, screen doors, appliances, fixtures, repairs, tweaks, and all the trim needed by this new house, I am going to buy myself a water buffalo. Just for the hell of it. It can feed and water itself around my house, and I shall finally l have my Herd of Buffalo (although Herd of Cow sounds much cooler).
Although I will barely notice it coming and going, I wish you all a very happy new year.


We took a trip to Khon Kaen today to hit HomePro (the local mega home center) for various items and made a stop by our favorite mall, Fairy Plaza, on the way back for some double cheeseburger eats, and for Nam to buy some foundation. The girls at the counter insisted on doing Nam’s make up since she’s a card-carrying Kanebo loyalist. It was amazing; just like a car being painted. They stripped off the existing layers of pigment, laid down a solid primer coat followed by 2 main coats and sealant – it was even metallic pearl, yo.
As I sat and watched, I wondered how to say, “Stop painting on my pregnant wife! Only cheap harlots paint their faces with ground fish scales!”, in Thai, but I guess that level of nuance is still a few years off.

Quick reading links

BTW I’m listening to Al Jazeera News in English in the background here and they just announced that Japan has officially taken Humpback whales off the hunting list this season. Yay, Japan. Or something.

Not-So-Usual Photos

English Russia has the scoop on a Russian online community, members of which enjoy making staged photos such as:

“A Cheating Wife: You need to make a photo of a man, “a lover”, hanging outside the real window. The window should be not lower than a 3rd store of a multi-stored building. “A husband” should lean out from another window with a gun, aiming at “the lover”. From yet another window “the cheating wife” should look out in despair.”
“The Waiter: A man dressed like a water should crawl out of a refuse chute in some multi-stored building, right from the disposal opening. He should hold a tray with some servings and a towel in another hand”
“A Zombie: A man, rolled up in bandages should crawl on his stomach at a pedestrian crossing. He should have a knife sticking out of his back. Another guy should chase him with a working chainsaw”
“The Pickles: Make a photo of many jars of pickles. Some of them should have pickled cell-phones. Not less than five cell phones in each jar please”
“A Pyramid: You should have a three level pyramid on the photo. The first level is some random truck, the second is a passenger car and some two-wheeled thing on the top of “the pyramid” please.”

You really need to go check out the results.
I found the ubiquity of red underwear very curious.

Beer Lubrication

So I want to relate a story about beer.
Last Sunday I attended a wedding of a guy who I’d met only twice before; once in a liquor store in the presence of a crazy almost-naked dude wearing a loincloth, and the second time in the deafening molam haze at a local live house.
The first time was about eight months ago. T was visiting from Japan and we were buying beer for a front yard barbecue. We bought all the Leo longnecks and loose cans of whatever, as well as a case of Archa if memory serves me right. There were two (Thai) guys behind the counter, one of who rang up the sale. The other guy was sitting down and started talking to me in English. He said his name was Patrick, and he explained he was from around here but currently working in South Carolina (although I mistakenly heard this as “Southern California”). We chatted for a couple minutes and that was that until we left the store and saw the aforementioned naked guy doing something strange in the gutter outside. I went back in a and mentioned it to Patrick, who came out to have a look and explained, simply, “Oh, don’t worry. He’s just fucked up.” In a land of non-native English speakers, it’s sometimes such a relief to hear the simplest of phrases in my native language used so naturally.
The second time was two weeks ago. I was out at the live house celebrating three of my fellow teachers who had received their MAs. It was actually the third venue of the night (dinner –> karaoke –> live house), so I was feeling… happy. A student of mine happened by the table and said she wanted to introduce me to her brother. It turned out to be a familiar face – Patrick! He must have been pretty wasted too, because we greeted each other like old friends (I almost asked what had happened to the fucked-up guy, but resisted the urge), slapping each other on the back, doing multiple hand shakes, etc. I told him my wife was pregnant, and he told me that he was to be married the next weekend…
This is how Nam and I found ourselves in the parking lot for a grungy outdoor market in a small town an hour away from home last Sunday. Patrick had been very sure about the directions and told me it was in the market, which we truly doubted, and sure enough, the venue was nowhere to be seen. But a small town is a small town, and a shopkeeper on the corner knew the house we were looking for… It was kind of hard expressing to Nam why we were going to a wedding reception of a guy who I’d only known through beer, but that was half the fun of it.
As it turned out, the wedding was a blast. The food was great and I met Patrick’s whole family (his bride, too, for the first time). Everybody was really cool. Patrick looked like he hadn’t slept for a few days, and upon asking, indeed had not. When he had a few spare minutes, we sat down and shared a bottle of Leo, on ice, SE Asia style.