Archive for the ‘ Personal ’ Category

Thailand in a Bag

If you missed Vietnam on a Stick or Life on a Stick Part 2, then this might not make a whole lot of sense.  But it is amazing how when you start to look for something, you start to see it everywhere!  It started in Vietnam when I  noticed just how much stuff you can get on a stick.  It seemed everywhere I looked I saw something else on a stick.

Back in Thailand, I decided to see how much stuff I could find in a bag.  Once again I was not disappointed.  Here are just a few samples of what you can get in Thailand in a Bag!

Big Fish in a Bag

Little Fish in a Bag

Continue reading

Choosing Happiness

My former students can tell you that I am a sucker for inspiration.  I collect inspirational stories, videos, quotes, and pictures to remind myself of the positive things in life.  Some of them are a bit abstract, but if they contain even a little nugget of truth, or if they make me think about something in a different light, then I add them to my collection. Continue reading

Welcome to the year 2553

April 13th marks the beginning of the new year in Thailand and to celebrate they take to the streets with guns……..WATER GUNS!  Three days of non stop soggy urban warfare welcomes in the new year!

Buddha died 543 years before Jesus,  so Buddhist countries start counting years from there making this the year 2553.  The celebration of the new year is called Songkran and it takes place from April 13th through the 15th every year.  There is a serious and spiritual side to the holiday, where people visit temples and wash the Buddha, but the most visible part of the celebration is a massive city wide water fight!  What better way to celebrate during the hottest month of the year when temperatures are hovering around 100 degrees (39 Celsius) every day?  Here is how it works:

In the week or so leading up to Songkran, street markets and stores begin selling all sorts of flowery Songkran shirts.  These shirts look like what we would call “Hawaiian shirts” and basically label anyone wearing one as a target.  We eagerly bought shirts and several air powered water cannons to participate in the festivities.  We jumped into a Tuk Tuk (little open air motorcycle taxi) and headed for Khao San road.  Within minutes we were soaked from head to toe.  Every street corner we passed had people throwing buckets of water at us to wish us a good new year.  Pick up trucks with 5 to 15 people in the back and garbage cans filled with water were driving around throwing water at anyone with a squirt gun or Songkran shirt.

Khao San road itself was filled to capacity with smiling faces and dripping bodies!  A few tourists, who did not read up before arriving, tried in vain to reach their hotels without being doused with icy water.  A few were angry, but most just smiled and went with the moment.  I am amazed at how much fun it was to shoot water at people who could not be more wet if they were in a swimming pool, but somehow this kept us entertained for hours!  We took a bus ride home and continued to do battle from the windows of the bus.  Water was flying in and out of the bus windows as the driver laughed and encouraged the antics!  What a great few days!

Raise your hand if you think this is an activity you would like to have in your country!  I for one would vote to hold city wide water fights in the US every year in July or August.  Maybe we could tie it in with our 4th of July?

If you want more information on the religious or historical aspects of Songkran or want to see some videos here are a few links.  Enjoy!

Wikipedia Information

This video has some good images of what I described above. It is from Chiang Mai in the north where the moat that runs around the city fuels the water supply and fun but it shows the tuk tuks and the pick ups and other crazy scenes!

Life On a Stick Part 2

Since my photo blog “Vietnam on a Stick” I have continued to see so many things put on sticks!  So many that I have decided to post a second part in the series.   Most of these photos are from Thailand but a few are from Vietnam and Cambodia.  I am sure when I get back to the United States, I will continue to see things on sticks but here are the latest from South East Asia on a Stick!

Propeller on a Stick

Disgusting on a Stick  (Some people might call this “Delicious on a Stick” but they would be wrong!)

Relief on a Stick

Big Brother on a Stick (Also called “Surveillance on a Stick” in case the dog wakes up!)

Tim on a Stick

Houses on Sticks

Stairs on a Stick

Waffle on a Stick

Path on Sticks and Boat on a Stick

Bicycle Bar Seat on a Stick

Blade on a Stick

Sink on a Stick

Buddha on a Stick

TV on a Stick

Poop on a Stick (OK so it is not poop but if you squint a little it could be!)

I have more but I will save them in case I need to post part 3.

An Unusual Bucket List

Lots of people have a list of things they want to do before they die.  These so called “Bucket Lists” inspire us to take risks and live the lives we dream about.  I don’t have a bucket list.  I prefer to take life as it comes, and not to turn down a good opportunity when it arises.  However I do keep a different kind of list.

I have a list of things I want to do someday but never will.  It’s not that I don’t want to do them.  It is just that if I did do them, the consequences would be too great.  So I just keep the list and dream about what it would be like to do these amazing things.  Take a look at 5 of the items on my list and see what you think.

1.  Quit Smoking: Like many people, I love a challenge.  This is why people climb mountains, run marathons, and a host of other difficult feats.  People claim that quitting smoking is one of the hardest things they have ever done, and others simply can’t.  The problem with this goal is that I don’t smoke.  I am not willing to start smoking or smoke long enough to develop the habit so I could quit.  This is why I keep it on this list.

2.  Rob a Bank: Maybe I have seen too many caper movies,  but it looks like so much fun planning and executing the perfect robbery!  I would not want to rob the bank while it is open with masks and guns.  I would rather plan out a sleek way to slip in, grab the money, and slip out before anyone noticed.  The problem here is that I don’t steal.  Oh… and I also do not want to go to jail if my plan fails!

3.  Land a 747: This one is pure fantasy but if I was ever on a fully loaded plane where the pilots were rendered unconscious, and the call went out for one of the passengers to land the plane, I would love to be that guy!  The tower would talk me through it and when I land safely, the passengers would cheer my name!  Did I mention this plane is full of swimsuit models?  Hey, it is my fantasy!  The problem is…………..well……….. this is just never going to happen!

4.  Escape from Prison: This might go along with #2 if I got caught robbing the bank.  Once again ,I like to imagine planning a great scheme breaking out, and then I like to think about what it would be like living on the run and staying undercover.  The problem here is that I do not wish to go to jail or prison in order to break out.  So I leave it on my list of things I would love to do but never will.

4.  Grow a Beard: Just once in my life I would love to experience a huge grizzly beard big enough to provide habitat for several small animals.  The problem here is that my facial hair is too patchy and a beard would never fill in fully to cover my face.  At least I am further along that this guy!

How about you?  Do you have a list of things you would like to do but never will?

Who Invented Smoking?

My apologies to any smokers who are about to read this blog post.  If you enjoy your habit or are easily insulted, do not continue reading.  My intention is not to make smokers feel bad, but to consider the question why do so many people smoke?

Whoever invented smoking must have been either bored or strange.  Think of all the things that guy (or gal) had to light on fire, stick in his mouth, and suck on before he discovered tobacco.  How many different things do you think people tried smoking over the years?  I am sure someone dried out cabbage or a little broccoli, or even beetle dung,  rolled it up in paper, or stuffed it into a pipe, and gave it a puff  to see what would happen.

Finally tobacco and some other smokable materials were found and people began spreadimg the word.  “Hey Buddy!  Stick this in your mouth, light it on fire, and inhale…….Cool right?”

I am not sure that is how it went but I would love to know.

Over the years people have smoked and smoked, and we have studied and studied, and learned all about it.  We learned that there is very little to be gained from smoking, and a lot to lose. It may be a worse idea now, than it was in the beginning when humans were experimenting with all kinds of materials.  Think about the following choice presented to a person considering becoming a smoker:

Option A:

You can start smoking and look forward to bad breath, yellow teeth, premature and excessive wrinkles, 50% increase in your chance of erectile dysfunction, greater risk of cataracts and ulcers,  reduced ability to taste food, yellow fingernails, a deep manly voice (for men and women), a cough that will never go away, fewer days to live, a lower quality of life during those fewer years, a higher risk of cancer, a frustrating battle if you ever decide to quit, a more difficult time climbing mountains or playing sports, but you might fit in a little better with a particular group of friends.

Option B:

None of the above.

Given that choice which would you choose?

Isn’t it amazing how many people still choose Option A?  It calls into question the rationality of human beings all together.  Is it just conformity or is there another social force at work?  Is it rebellion?  Since most people pick up smoking in their teens, is it just their way of rebelling against a world that does not accept them as adults?   Wouldn’t that be equally irrational?  Imagine the mind of a young teen thinking, “OK , since you tell me I can’t or I shouldn’t smoke, I ‘ll show you! I’ll start killing myself slowly to get back at you!” How crazy is that?

Maybe I am missing something.  Maybe there is more to it than I imagine.  Feel free to enlighten me!

Who Likes To Sleep?

Tomorrow I am leaving with my family for Thailand.  My brother lives in Bangkok and we have not seen him in over a year.  Our plan is to spend a few days getting over jet lag, and then we will head over to Vietnam for a couple weeks, and then back to Thailand.

As much as I am looking forward to seeing my brother and eating Thai food three times a day, what I am most excited about at the moment is the jet lag!

For some reason I have always enjoyed the process of adapting to the day night cycle of a distant time zone.  It is so cool how my body wants to sleep at 3:00 in the afternoon, but at 3:00 in the morning I am wide awake!  Slowly over the course of a few days I want to sleep less in the afternoon, and start sleeping more at night.  The ride is over, and I have to go back to my normal, less interesting, routine.

I know that might sound odd to some people but here is why I like jet lag.  When I am wide awake in the middle of the night, I get to do whatever I want.  I embrace the jet lag for all it is worth!  I like to read books, go for a moonlit run, watch a movie, maybe write a blog, play the guitar, or even cook breakfast to be eaten when the rest of the world wakes up.  It makes me wonder what life would be like if I didn’t have to sleep.

If I had an extra 7 hours or so tagged onto every day that would be an extra 52 days a year to live!  What could I do with an extra 52 days?  Maybe I could learn to speak Russian.  Maybe I could learn to play the piano.  Maybe I could get another part time job as a video game tester and make extra cash.  Maybe I could build my own house.  Maybe I could invent a new color and paint a mural or try my hand at sculpture.  The possibilities are endless and jet lag offers me a brief glimpse of what life without sleep would be like.

I know there are a lot of sleep lovers out there, so lets put it to a vote.  Write a comment to this blog or email me your opinion on sleep.  Would you give it up if you could or do you enjoy your hours of slumber too much?  I will tally the votes and let you know who wins.