Aegle marmelos

This is a bael or bael fruit AKA Bengal quince, wood apple, stone apple or seer phael (head-fruit). In Thai it’s known as matum.

The size is between an orange and a grapefruit.

In Thailand, bael is usually found in the form of dried slices, which are reconstituted in water to make juice. Our housekeeper brought over a few from her tree and I was surprised at how hard and heavy they were. We did as she said and boiled them, but then accidentally left them out on a hot night and the next day, they had fermented in the shell and burst, oozing a heavy syrup onto our counters. I threw them into the pond out front as an offering to Shiva, although he seems to favor the leaves instead of the fruit.

In which OLDER does not necessarily mean WISER…

So far today, I’ve had to break into my own house three times because each time I left I’ve forgotten my own keys inside, and then later, forgotten to ask my wife for hers.

On the plus side, both my morning and afternoon classes at Mahasarakham University (Nam’s uni, where I teach on Mondays part time) were thrilled to have class cancelled due to a blackout caused by a storm that knocked down power lines last night – the ironic thing is that unpowered classrooms are kinda what I’m used to working for a public university and all.

Here’s my proof, in the form of a photo documenting last month’s sweeping upgrades from 19th century technology to 20th century technology at my university:

How to upgrade a blackboard: 1.Tape a melamine sheet over it... Voila!

Yes, our rush to embrace technology hasn’t exactly been, well, rushed. Indeed, I installed the first wireless LAN at Rajabhat Maha Sarakham when I came over in late 2007, which was an ancient Buffalo unit I’d been using for around seven years in Japan already.

Spit Roast Pig

When we went to our good friend’s party last month, the kids tired out in an hour or two and we took them back home (just a 2 minute drive). Imagine my joy when I returned solo to freely flowing brew and this:

One of our friend’s father-in-law’s friends who looked like he stepped straight out of a Cometbus narrative was manning the spit for a while, then I tried my hand at it… Eventually, only the deliciously crackling neck and head remained. The thing about roast pig is that you have to eat it hot – 100x more delicious.

Chris Delivery

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of being Chris Delivery’s bodyguard (I got the job by looking “ex-yakuza.”) Fortunately, there were no kidnapping or assassination attempts, but he did get jumped by several groups of screaming fans wanting autographs and v sign photos (and, I suspect, a romantic evening under a private mango tree).

The talk he gave at our university was heartfelt and entertaining, and a great success by any measure. Props to my friend, Ajarn Kedsiree Jumpeehom, for setting it up and thanks to Chris for putting on an awesome show.

For a television personality with several shows, books, and other assorted projects known to pretty much everybody in Thailand, Chris is humble and just a generally great guy; he pretty much hates being grouped in with the snobby TV star set and keeps it real. I pretty much flipped when I heard that he personally teaches all of the classes at his English School in Central World (there’s a list of other teachers there so maybe he teaches all of the classes some of the time).

Here’s some shots showing the venue (the Main Hall at Rajabhat Maha Sarakham) and the turnout (around 1,500 at the start by my count, plus many more walk-ins changing with students leaving for classes part way through)

Pre-show meet & greet:

Pictured: Dean Sunee, Aj. Mayuree, Aj. Teera, Aj. Kedsiree, Chris Delivery


Almost go time:

Gauging crowds by counting rows, but sorely needing a wider lens:

Gauging crowds with the motorcycle index:

Gauging crowds with the broken toilet index:

After we reached Khon Kaen Airport, my detail ended by safely escorting the principal to the secure area, and I immediately proceeded to the airport shop to acquire a cold six-pack. All members of the escort team proceeded to the nearest McDonalds and many freshly-constructed McRibs were consumed the way Buddha intended them to be, with a freezing can of Leo. All in all, it was a great day, even if I did crash my goddamn car to start it off.

Bang up

Ah, dammit. Today started off kinda bad, and I’m flat out busy. I went out in the Cefiro to buy fried dough crosses for Max and Mina before they woke, and rear-ended an old pickup with no bumper, at low speed while exiting our neighborhood. He decided to run away and I let him since I was at fault anyway… Cracked a headlight lens, scratched the bumper kinda deeply, bent the goddamn hood, but it all looks easy to fix. Luckily, the HID bulb didn’t break so hopefully the repairs won’t be too costly… but my other goddamn car still isn’t out of the shop!


Thai Yellow Eggplant

I bought these golf ball-sized eggplants at the fresh market after not seeing them for a few years and never having tasted them. Up here in the Isan region, some people eat them with various savory/spicy dishes, but I don’t think they’re very popular. To me they tasted very bland, with a hint of astringent tang associated with certain fruits… The green variety, which are the size of ping pong balls, have a bit more flavor and are at least crunchy. These yellow ones were unremarkable in every way flavor-wise.

Cheap Nikon Body

We picked up a Nikon D40 body, the successor to my trusty D50, with a charger and two batteries for 3,000 baht (exactly $100 US today). On the D50, I’ve mounted the old Nikkor AF 70-210mm f/4-5.6 lens I bought in Japan, and the D40 will sport the lens from the D50 kit, the Nikkor 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G ED.

I’m very happy with these cameras because they’re still much better than a pocket camera in most cases, but they’re cheap and worn enough now that I don’t feel like I have to baby them all the time. Also, sadly, I have very little time for hobbies at this particular stage in life. That’s OK though, because cameras and lenses tend to get cooler with age… Maybe I’ll have time for camera stuff again later on, or maybe I’ll just give them to Max and he’ll keep it on a shelf like I do my old Asahi Pentax.