What Mina Thinks of Bangkok (Daddy Concurs)

Quite predictably, the long car ride to and from Bangkok was not appreciated by either baby, which they were quite vocal about. This was a kind of test run; do we really want to unleash these two on a plane full of innocents for the cumulative nineteen or so hours it takes to get back to Cali (w/one stopover)? The answer might just be children’s cold medicine…
Mina’s birth abroad has been duly reported, and her passport is in the works. Legally, she’s not a citizen exactly but has all the same rights as a citizen when she gets the passport. Say what? Yeah, it’s kind of a funny thing (though not half as funny as finding out that there is a Thai way of counting months for the Chinese zodiac and that Mina is a Tiger like me instead of an Ox because she was born in December) that way. I asked the vice consul to explain better what a non-citizen who bears all the rights (and responsibilities) of a citizen is, but even she didn’t know, so hey, that’s some pedantic shit right there.
Bangkok was hot and muggy as ever, and it was a relief to get back home. It’s hotter here, but it’s kind of a clean heat – Bangkok pollution just has a way of working itself into every pore and just making you sticky and gross. Plus, the scourge of mosquitoes in our room was epic. They attacked Max and I until Nam and I just got fed up with it and turned on all the lights and went medieval on their asses. It was like a Tarantino scene because I kept having to use various tools to get at these mosquitoes hiding in different places – a rolled-up newspaper to bat one off the ceiling, and a pillow to smash on in a headboard groove. One even got inside Mina’s portable framed mosquito net and bit her cheek, which woke her up, too.
Itchy, screaming babies at 3 in the morning sucks hard. So getting payback against the insect kingdom in general felt really good, and after we devoted twenty minutes to smashing every bug in the room, we fell asleep again and had no more problems. Up until that though, I’ve never seen mosquitoes so voracious. We had the AC and two floor fans pointed at Max and the bastards were still getting through to torture him.

We Against the World

I have a master’s class to teach this morning, then our whole family + nanny are off to Bangkok. We have an appointment tomorrow morning at the embassy’s ACS building to report Mina’s birth abroad and apply for a passport. The problem? There are 100,000 demonstrators trying to get noticed at high profile venues such as, say, in the front of the US embassy. So I’m in my crowd-dodging mode and have hardened my forearms just in case.
I would have waited for the demonstrators to go home, but last year it took them months just to give up their hold on the airport, and we really need this passport now.

ippon demo ninjin

Max is a little less enthused by this than I am, but I found the greatest song for learning counting (and introducing the concept of counters) in Japanese this week:

It’s just a great song, really. I hereby declare this a Cosmic Buddha reunion number.
There was apparently some fluff about this song being switched to the A-side when the album was repressed, so they repressed again as it originally was, on the B-side. The thing is, it seems this song was originally (released in 1975) not very popular and the A-side song that became a hit, when compared now, sounds really boring: ?????????.
//////////////// LYRICS //////////////////
1 ?????? ????
2 ????? ????
3 ?????? ???
4 ????? ????
5 ????? ????
6 ????? ???????
7 ?????? ??
8 ?????? ???
9 ??????? ????
10 ?????? ???
??? ???? ???? ???
???? ???? ???????
?? ??? ????
1 ?????? ????
2 ????? ????
3 ?????? ???
4 ????? ????
5 ????? ????
6 ????? ???????
7 ?????? ??
8 ?????? ???
9 ??????? ????
10 ?????? ???
???? ??? ???? ???
??? ??? ????
???? ????? ????
Language notes:
Max will turn two on April 18, and right now the majority of what he speaks is Thai, followed by English, and then just a bit of Japanese. Some people worried about it being a problem for him, but I think they basically underestimate the learning capacity of children.
So far, there’s been no problems and his Thai pronunciation is already much better than mine. The nanny is careful to speak mostly standard Thai around the babies, so that’s covered as well (otherwise they’d basically be learning to speak Laotian – we are in an area (Issan or NE region) very close to Laos regarding language and culture as well as geography).

Cornershop Kway Chap

Last week I visited at a noodle shop that I thought was new, but my coworker said it’s been around for a few years.
This is mainly what they sell, standard kway chap noodles served Vietnamese style in clear chicken stock with rice noodles of medium thickness (you can also get instant ramen served in kway chap stock).
This is opposed to the other style of kway chap popular in Thailand, the Chinese kind in brown stock with blood cubes, bamboo shoots, and spiral flat noodles (this Chinese kind is usually done very poorly in Thailand IMHO, but when done properly, with fresh ingredients and duck meat, can be very tasty).
A vital key to surviving in any given area over an extended period of time is knowing the secret menus of your favorite haunts. The secret menu of this place was somewhat amusing:
I loves me some chicken bones! (They use a bunch of these for the broth every day.)
Notes: This shop is located on Soi Srisawat between RMU and Spirit House Kway Chap, on the right side if headed away from RMU. Kway chap w/o egg 20 baht, w/egg 25 baht, chicken carcass 20 (25?) baht.

Shift + Esc

This is the best Google Chrome shortcut / utility I’ve come across recently (try it; it’s an internal Task Manager).
I’ll even give you another killer one just for reading this: You can delete entries from an auto-complete drop down list by highlighting them and hitting Shift + Delete (this is actually a carry-over from Firefox).


I was browsing teh intarwebs and stumbled upon this pic:
…and all I could think of was a photo we took a few years ago on the beach in Sumoto:
I say “we” because I don’t remember who was using Kana’s point-and-shoot (EXIF says it was a Casio EX-Z500) for this jump series; it was probably me or Kana or Faye. It took me a while to find the photo because I couldn’t spot it in my archives, so I ended up logging into Flickr for the first time in two years (A long story in itself. Basically, the Yahoo login system is fuxxored.) and looking for it among the earlier photos we posted in the might as well jump photo group. Even though I’d basically given up on the NEW! IMPROVED! and utterly soulless Flickr experience after wholeheartedly embracing its awesome start up and being within the first few users to upload over 10,000 photos, many people have stuck with it – that group really grew when I was gone.

Stevie on Sunday

…because it’s our day to chill and listen to YouTube music. Max got to see twenty vids, now it’s my turn for one. Actually, there is a version with an actual music video here, but the audio sucks.
It’s funny, I played this song a few months back when we were setting up a PA, and my coworker Bruce suddenly stood up and announced he hadn’t “heard this since it came out!”

Blue kapom (Calotes versicolor) (correction: Calotes mystaceus)

It took me three years to find one of the blue ones after I heard about them (and possibly ate them as well). This lizard is known in standard Thai as ginka and in Isan dialect as kapom. It has many names in English, including Oriental Garden Lizard, Eastern Garden Lizard, Changeable Lizard, Bloodsucker Lizard, Crested Tree Lizard, Garden Fence Lizard. They are Agamids, from the family Agamidae, commonly called dragons or dragon lizards. Here’s an informative passage from this page:

Changeable Lizards are related to iguanas (which are found only in the New World). Unlike other lizards, they do not drop their tails (autotomy), and their tails can be very long, stiff and pointy. Like other reptiles, they shed their skins. Like chameleons, Changeable Lizards can move each of their eyes in different directions.

I saw it on this tree at a restaurant my coworker and I were having lunch at, and it must have been mating season because there was another blue one, a half-red one, and one changing from tan to tan with spots before our very eyes! It was quite a sight, and I’ll definitely go to see them again sometime.
Note to self: I’m not sure of the restaurant’s name, but it’s in Maha Sarakham, out on the bypass between the crossroad to Borabu and the one to Wapi Pathum, 200 hundred meters before the road to Rui Sap (where my cop student got drunk on pineapple brandy and waved a glock around at everybody) on the left.

Update March 2023: Although the name of these lizards are the same in Thai and Isan languages (กะปอม/กิ้งก่า gabpawm/ginggaa), the red ones and the blue ones are actually different species. The red ones are Calotes versicolor, commonly known as Oriental Garden Lizard, etc. The blue ones are Calotes mystaceus aka the Indo-Chinese forest lizard or blue crested lizard; some of the research online (which I refuse to link to because it’s on a pay-to-access pseudo-academic research site) seems to indicate that these blue ones weren’t officially recorded in a nearby province (Ubon Rachatani) until 2018! I originally posted this article in 2010.

I’ve written some further information on a new post: Blue vs Red Kapom/Gapom Species

close call

On my way to pick up Max from school today, I almost killed a female university student who evaded a police checkpoint by speeding straight at me from the opposite direction. I stomped on the brakes as she almost went down sideways, but then her half-raised kickstand caught on the asphalt and inertia righted her scooter as if by magic. She rode off with a bovine smile on her face, perhaps oblivious to how close she had come to dying.
The ironic thing is that the cops were trying to stop her for not wearing a helmet.
It’s funny, right before the slow motion adrenaline effect kicked in, the only thought that flashed across my brain was about how late this was going to make me. After it was over, I yelled out “stupid bitch,” and three policemen waved me on as if to say, “move along, nothing to see here.”
I’ve seen people escape from the cops here so many times, mostly because the cops don’t need to work too hard – they’re not even bothering to pretend that their ticketing is to make things safer, it’s straight out money making time.