Friday, March 28, 2008

Karaoke + John Denver = Angry Weenus!

Yet more proof that karaoke is dangerous, read on....

A gunman in Thailand shot-dead eight neighbors, including his brother-in-law, after tiring of their karaoke versions of popular songs, including John Denver’s "Country Road". An angry Weenus Chumkamnerd, 52, put his gun to the head of a respected female doctor and seven of her guests as they partied at her home in Songkhla Province, South Thailand. "When I began shooting nobody pleaded for his life because they were all drunk," he said after his arrest.
He said he was so furious with their awful singing that he did not notice he had murdered his own brother-in-law.

"I warned these people about their noisy karaoke parties. I said if they carried on I would go down and shoot them. I had told them if I couldn’t talk sense into them I would come back and finish them off," he added.

Mr Chumkamnerd, who works as a rubber tapper, was arrested after going on the run after his killing spree in the town of Hat Yai, near the Malaysian border. The doctor who was hosting the party, Dr Suthathip Thammachart, 36, was the director of a local hospital who was due this month to get an award for her services to medicine. One of the revelers survived by playing dead, convincing the gunman that he too had been killed.

When he realized he had shot his brother-in-law, Boontip Desaro, Mr Chumkamnerd said he was filled with remorse. He got his son to take Boontip to hospital, but he was already dead.

A neighbor said that the karaoke group normally sang Thai pop and southern Thai ballads, but one particular western tune could be heard often - John Denver’s ‘Country Roads’. Country Roads is a hugely popular song in south east Asia and the neighbor said the revelers had been singing it over and over again.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Pink flamingos are for sissys, REAL men have peacocks!

One of the first things I noticed when I arrived here, was that Roong had nothing on the walls in our house. I mean nothing. Not even the mandatory dozen pictures of this or that king and queen that seems to be required to show you are a loyal Thai citizen. I vowed to change that.

It took me a while to get Roong used to the idea of hanging things on the wall, but she seems ok with it now. She even voices opinions concerning color and location. The biggest problem is finding the art. We needed to find a large over-the-sofa painting. After quite a bit of looking, and coming to the realization that large art just not exist here, I figured that I was going to have to paint it myself. Some time ago, in an effort to get me back into trying to produce something decent, Roong bought me a kick ass easel, but I haven't had the time or the drive to use it much.

To figure out what to paint, I started playing with Corel Painter X. It's fun to use, and it's a great way for me to make smaller versions of things we think might eventually look good on the wall. Also, it seems that these smaller artworks lend themselves well to becoming posters. So, i opened up a small art store on Zazzle to sell those. The shop should be ready sometime in June, because April and May are going to be hell here.

Anyway, the whole point of this story, is to explain why there is a 5 ft tall ceramic peacock staring at you. It's a waterfall that sits in the corner of our living room. Roong seems bent on building a sort of garden around it, with flowers, ivy, and such hanging off of it, and maybe a few fish in the basin. We were eating lunch at one of our favorite munchie spots in Soi sip song (12th street), and noticed a new little shop selling ceramics across the street. We went and looked, and saw a few interesting things, then left. We stopped there again that evening and looked some more. Then, the next day, we stopped yet again, and ended up coming home with that monstrosity.

I am not sure which I find more amazing, the fact that we bought it, or the fact that we went there three times, thought about it, and STILL bought it. Plus, a little ceramic boat, and two turtles. Well, I have to give it credit, it really is a conversation starter. Aren't peacocks blue?

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Are you smarter than a 10 year old?

Ok, it's quiz time! This question was given to a pack of your average rabid 10 year olds. Take a look at the bus, and tell me which way is it going? Is it traveling to the left, or to the right? Be sure and look real close.


Interestingly enough, 90% of the 10 year olds asked said that the bus was traveling to the left. When asked how they arrived at that conclusion, they said that it had to be traveling to the left, because you can't see the door on this side! Now, how do you feel poindexter? I know, me too.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Beware! Power gossip zone

Palmy is back for the weekend. That is always nice. For the first time in a long time, Roong and the girls all got together on the bed, watched "Judging Amy" re-runs, and power gossiped. Thai people speak very loudly. I am not sure why that is. I can only guess that it is due to the fact that they don't actually listen to each other, or communicate effectively on the rare occasion when they do listen. So, TALK LOUDER! Haaa!

I consider myself lucky, because I can only understand about half of what they are saying, so I don't have to get involved. But, it's nice to see them having such a good time together.

We got Puk's grades back from school. She has a 3.3 average. I am pretty happy with this. As scared as she was about testing for her high school, I was afraid they would be lower. They may still not be high enough to get her into the snotty school in Lopburi, but I am ok with that. I would rather her go to school here in Pattananikom. She should do well there, she won't have to ride the bus for 2.5 hours a day, and she can make plenty of friends that she can hang out with here. She says she wouldn't mind that at all. But, she tried, and did well, I am proud of her.

* I am sorry the photo is fuzzy, but this is apparently a secret society type gathering, and not open to the general public, so they refused to sit still while giggling and chattering.

Want to find out more about Thailand? DCO offers books on just about any facet of Thai lifestyle and history, from the history of kings and their conquests, to the Bangkok bargirl scene. To read all about them, just click the banner below….

DCO Thai Book Shop

DCO Thai Book Shop

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Who ya gonna call?

Many Thais believe ghosts are wandering tsunami-hit beaches, spooking taxi drivers, making the Andaman Sea hungry for more victims, and jinxing an economic recovery for devastated resorts.

Fish sellers and seafood restaurants are suffering a severe downturn in business along the west coast because many Thais are refusing to eat fish, amid fears that sea creatures may have nibbled human corpses swept out to sea.

"Foreign tourists will come back to Khao Lak, but many Thais and Chinese will not want to go there because so many people died, and so many ghosts are there," said Somchai, a taxi driver, as he drove along Phuket's sleek, undamaged highways. Thais and foreigners, however, are fueling ghost stories by retelling rumors and hearsay. "Did you hear the one about the taxi driver, who picked up passengers who turned out to be ghosts?""

That question, spread through conversations, e-mail and the Thai media, has become an urban legend in Thailand. Most versions of the tale describe an unidentified Thai taxi driver who picks up a "foreign tourist" and his Thai girlfriend, for a taxi ride to Phuket's airport or elsewhere. When the taxi arrives at the destination, the driver turns around and freaks out when he sees the passengers have already disappeared.

Many Thais who hear the story, don't laugh, because they are extremely fearful of ghosts. Throughout Thailand, most perceived haunting and poltergeist events are believed to be caused by people who suffered "violent deaths" -- which poses a big problem for superstitious Thais pondering the horror and brutality of the tsunamis.

"If the ghost has no family here, maybe they won't come back," said Pawn, a shopkeeper who said she was not too worried about ghosts from the tsunami, though she "heard" ghosts several years ago after one of her relatives died. About 95 percent of Thailand's population is Buddhist, and the atheist doctrine teaches that all people are repeatedly reincarnated, regardless of their religion. Each time a person dies, their spirit spends an unspecified amount of time as a conscious ghost seeking rebirth.

As a result, Buddhist monks traditionally chant special prayers to dead spirits, urging them to stop wandering the places where they died, and to detach themselves from loved ones -- so the living can enjoy peace, and the dead can be reborn.

Many Thais also integrate pre-Buddhist, animist beliefs into their perception of the world, and construct doll house-sized "spirit houses" in and around their homes and offices where they make daily offerings of food, water and prayer in exchange for protection from any unseen beings who choose to dwell there.

For a wonderful selection of handmade Thai arts and crafts, please visit…

Lanna Thai Crafts 1

Saturday, March 15, 2008

St.Patrick's Day!

Wooohooo! My favorite holiday is drawing near. There are actually enough foreigners in Bangkok to have a pretty kick ass St.Pat's Day celebration. Last year, Steve and I went to a bar called "The Dubliner". We were not disappointed, because the place was packed. Live music, and all kinds of other good stuff. The only drawback to partying in Bangkok, is the price of beer. A quart of Bud costs like 200 baht, and Guiness and the others are just as expensive. A quart of "Ahchaa" (horse beer) costs like 30 baht here in the sticks. Yeesh!

Anyway, I thought you could use a few Irish jokes to get you in the mood. I got these from Vincent, a friend in our marketing group. Here goes....

"Mary Clancy ges up to Fater O'Grady after his Sunday morning service,
and she's in tears.
He says, 'So what's bothering you, Mary my dear?'
She says, 'Oh, Father, I've got terrible news. My husband passed away last night.'

The priest says, 'Oh, Mary, that's terrible.
Tell me, Mary, did he have any last requests?'
She says, 'That he did, Father.'
The priest says, 'What did he ask, Mary? '
She says, He said,
'Please Mary, put down that damn gun..."


"A drunk staggers into a Catholic Church,
enters a confessional booth, sits down, but says nothing.

he Priest coughs a few times to get his
attention but the drunk continues to sit there.

inally, the Priest pounds three times on the wall.

The drunk mumbles, 'ain't no use knockin,
there's no paper on this side either!"


"Into a Belfast pub comes Paddy Murphy,
looking like he'd just been run over by a train.
His arm is in a sling, his nose is broken,
his face is cut and bruised and he's walking with a limp.

What happened to you?' asks Sean, the bartender.
Jamie O'Conner and me had a fight,' says Paddy.
That little shit, O'Conner,' says Sean,

'He couldn't do that to you,
he must have had something in his hand.'
That he did,' says Paddy, 'a shovel is what he had,
and a terrible lickin' he gave me with it.'
Well,' says Sean, 'you should have defended yourself,
didn't you have something in your hand?'

That I did,' said Paddy.
'Mrs. O'Conner's breast, and a thing of
beauty it was, but useless in a fight."


"A cop pulls over a weaving car on the highway...
So,' says the cop to the driver,
where have ya been?'

Why, I've been to the pub of course, slurs the drunk.
Well,' says the cop, 'it looks like you've had quite
a few to drink this evening.'
'I did all right,' the drunk says with a smile.

Did you know,' says the cop, standing straight and
folding his arms across his chest,
'that a few intersections back, your wife fell out of your car?'
Oh, thank heavens,' sighs the drunk.
For a minute there, I thought I'd gone deaf."
There now, don't you feel better?

Hug an elephant!

To honor this most gentle, yet powerful, of animals the National Thai Elephant Day is being hosted at the Maesa Elephant Camp (10kms along the Mae RimSamoeng Road) on 13th March. Admission to the Camp is free so this will be a day for Thais, and visitors to meet and fall in love (again!) with that most noble of creatures the Elephant.

Traditionally and historically, the elephant has had a long association with Thailand. It's strength, power, ponderous dignity and majesty has ensured it a special place in the hearts of Thai Kings for many centuries. Even today, H.M. King Bhumibol has a stable of Royal Elephants.

White Elephants are especially sacred and auspicious. When one is found, it immediately becomes the property of the reigning Monarch. Long ago, when Thai Kings waged war against invading enemies, it was the elephant which provided the "heavy" war equipment. Elephants were the battlewagons and tanks of the day from which, aloft the elephant”s neck, the King (or Noble) could see and engage the enemy.

*Sorry this is a few days late, but this is mostly a north country thing.

Want to find out more about Thailand? DCO offers books on just about any facet of Thai lifestyle and history, from the history of kings and their conquests, to the Bangkok bargirl scene. To read all about them, just click the banner below….

DCO Thai Book Shop

DCO Thai Book Shop

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Uncle Wally strikes again!

The world’s largest retail chain is rumored to be teaming up with Ernest & Julio Gallo Winery of California to produce the spirits at an affordable price - in the $2 to $5 range. Wine connoisseurs may not be inclined to put a bottle of Wal-Mart brand into their shopping carts, but there is a market for inexpensive wine. Customer surveys were conducted to determine the most attractive name for the Wal-Mart wine brand.

The top surveyed names in order of popularity were:

10. Chateau Traileur Parc

9. White Trashfindel

8. Big Red Gulp

7. World Championship Riesling

6. NASCARbernet

5. Chef Boyardeaux

4. Peanut Noir

3. I Can’t Believe it’s not Vinegar

2. Grape Expectations

1. Nasti Spumante

The beauty of Wal-Mart wine is that it can be served with either white meat (Possum) or red meat (Squirrel). Bone-appy-teat!

For a wonderful selection of handmade Thai arts and crafts, please visit…

Lanna Thai Crafts 1

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

In the beginning.....

As we all know, I have been messing about with this internet business stuff for a while now. As I am now starting to have some actual success with it, I keep telling friends and family that they should give it a shot. Many are a bit reluctant it seems. Yeah, I know most of the stuff you see looks like a scam, and probably is. But at the very least it's a fun hobby that might make you a few bucks.

In an effort to quell the doubts of the more suspicious of you about all this, I am going to give you a little of the history behind internet business. This was sent to me by my very dear and wise friend Tricia, who knows all about things such as these, and she says the story goes like this.....

"In ancient Israel, it came to pass that a trader called Abraham of Com did
take unto himself a young wife by the name of Dot.
And Dot of Com was a comely woman, broad of shoulder and long of leg.
Indeed, she had been called 'Amazon Dot Com'.

And she said unto Abraham, her husband, 'Why dost thou travel far from town
to town with thy goods when thou can trade without ever leaving thy tent?'
And Abraham did look at her as though she were several saddle bags short of
a camel load, but simply said, 'How, dear?'

And Dot replied, 'I will place drums in all the towns and drums in between
to send messages saying what you have for sale and they will reply telling
you which hath the best price. And the sale can be made on the drums and
delivery made by Uriah's Pony Stable (UPS).'

Abraham thought long and decided he would let Dot have her way with the
drums. And the drums rang out and were an immediate success. Abraham sold
all the goods he had at the top price, without ever moving from his tent.
But this success did arouse envy. A man named Maccabia did secrete himself
inside Abraham's drum and was accused of insider trading. And the young man
did take to Dot Com's trading as doth the greedy horsefly take to camel dung.

And lo, the land was so feverish with joy at the new riches and the
deafening sound of drums that no one noticed that the real riches were going
to the drum maker, one Brother William of Gates, who bought up every drum
company in the land. And indeed did insist on making drums that would work
only with Brother Gates' drum heads and drumsticks.

And Dot did say, 'Oh, Abraham, what we have started is being taken over by
others.' And as Abraham looked out over the Bay of Ezekiel, or as it came to be
known, 'eBay', he said, 'We need a name that reflects what we are.'
And Dot replied, 'Young Ambitious Hebrew Owner Operators.'
'YAHOO!' said Abraham.

And that is how it all began."

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Straight Line

Yanno... it's weird how you can learn how to do a lot of things concerning this or that subject, but never learn a lot of the basics associated with that thing. I have been doodling in Photoshop for a long time. But, I had never been able to make a curved line. This was a problem, because when I draw something by hand and then scan it in, it's not smooth. Pencil and pen stuff done by hand comes out with rough and uneven lines. This isn't a problem if the drawing is small, but when you blow it up for a t-shirt or something, they become quite apparent.

Having become fed up with this (after how many years?) I spent about 4 hours on this problem today. I found the solution. Thanks to my trusty Photoshop book, and the tutorials that come with the PS program, I can now make a curved line. I don't exactly do it like they tell you to in the book, but that seems to be the way with these things. The instructions never seem to work. I always end up doing the same thing, but I seem to do it back-ass-wards. Anyway, I can now make smooth curved lines. I give you..."The Pig!"

Friday, March 07, 2008

Student Day 2008

It was "Student Day" this Friday at school. Normally it's held in February, but with the death of the king's sister, there was a 90 day mourning period. Student day lets all the kids, and many parents, play games and watch other students put on small shows.

These are some of the kids in the show put on by the P-4 class

Behind the kids is a long line of games that the kids can compete in to win prizes like pencil boxes, notebooks, and small toys.

This is Tuck. He is in one of my M-1 classes.

These are a few of the demons from another of my M-1 classes.

More M-1 kids.

This is one of the dancers wearing a traditional Thai costume. There was about 30 of them all together, and they looked great. Thai dance is wonderful to watch.

These are a few of my P-6 girls.

These are some of the P-3 and P-4 kids.

P-6 boys on the prowl.

One of the groups that danced today. This was a mixture of kids from all of the groups.

This shot is of a few of the teachers that worked the fair. That's Roxanne (English teacher) on the right. Second from the left is Benz, and that's Noi that she has her arm around.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Godzilla says it's Hammer time!


Thai TV commercials

Thai TV is about 40 years behind the rest of the world. They still use "whiz bang" sound effects on the shows. Not just on the comedy sitcom stuff, but even on their serious soap operas. I am going to try and post a few commercials from Youtube, so you can see what I mean. Oh, I am sorry, but I have know idea what the groundhog is selling, and that game you see the guy playing in the last video is called "Ta claw". It's like volleyball, except it's played with a small hard plastic ball and you can't use your hands. It's pretty wild to watch. Please give the videos time to load.

Chinese New Year in Thailand

The Chinese community in Phuket, Thailand, has ended its period of abstinence with a festival featuring people who pierce their bodies and go through self-inflicted pain in the belief they are driving out their demons.

Thailand’s Chinese spend the ninth month of the lunar calendar abstaining from meat and various stimulants in the belief that doing so will bring them health and peace of mind. Piercing and fire-walking are among the activities devotees undertake in what they hope will purge their bodies of evil spirits.

Thailand is host to many vegetarian festivals toward the end of October each year. The festivals get their name because so many participants have given up meat over the previous weeks. Phuket’s vegetarian festival is one of the biggest in Thailand and has become a popular tourist attraction, according to the Tourism Authority of Thailand. About 10,000 onlookers are believed to have attended the festival finale over the weekend.

Haaa! And I scowled at Palmy when she wanted to get a belly button ring.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Living in the jungle

We do live in a small village, but it's not like everyone lives in grass huts and runs about naked all day long. Hmmm...although that might make life a bit more interesting. The jungle does have a way of reminding you that it is always ready to take back anything you let it. We still have a few thousand wild elephants here, and there really are still tigers in the dense jungle areas. I have seen some damn big snakes crawling about. We think one of those is what keeps eating the puppies that our neighbor's dog seems to have every other week.

Anyway, today, Roong got stung by a scorpion. It seems to have been feasting in Bongo's food dish, and when Roong went to clean it, it zapped her on one of her fingers. This was a small one, only about 2 or 3 inches long. I called Steve, as I remember him saying that he had gotten nailed a few times since he has been here. He said just to watch it for a while, and if it didn't swell up or anything, then she would be ok. I guess they are like bee stings. Either you are allergic to the venom or you aren't. I wanted to take Roong to the hospital, but she said she was alright. Cobra season is just around the corner...Yippee!