Daily Archives: May 30, 2012

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3 Th. November 19, 2110

William Gladstone

William Gladstone (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

TODAY’S FACTOID:

Late 19th century. William Gladstone the great prime minister of England enjoyed a slug of laudanum (a form of opium) in his morning coffee and then would go out and run the greatest empire the world had even known.

George Bush is reputed to have given up cocaine before becoming President of the United States.

TODAY’S NEWS FROM THAILAND:

Thailand‘s northern province of Chiang Mai has declared five districts disaster zones after temperatures dropped below 50 degrees Fahrenheit for over three days. Some schools were closed when the temperatures fell briefly to 40 degrees.

Does this mean it is the end of Global Warning?

PAPA JOE’S TALES AND FABLES:

THE TALE OF THE POLITICIAN WHO CRIED MERCY

Most people are aware of an affliction called Tourette Syndrome, where a person suffers from periodic outbursts of uncontrolled expletives. To most of us foul or so-called obscene language is merely the urge now and then to expel short burst of air during periods of emotion or fillers in conversation. We have also all met those who fall somewhere between full-blown Tourette and occasional profanity, that is those, usually men, who cannot avoid lacing their conversations with foul language.

I knew a fairly well-known politician from southern California (Several of you reading this I am sure recognize who is being referred to) who was known for his particularly foul and blasphemous language.

Since he was an up and coming politician in the Professional Hypocrite Party he recognized that he would have to get his compulsion under control since his party stood four square for family values and morality. It would most assuredly lose him votes should his speech, say to the woman’s Auxiliary of the local County Club, suddenly be decorated with his most favorite words and expressions.

He realized just trying to suppress the urge to shout out expletives was a losing proposition, after all it was a compulsion. So instead he decided to replace all the obscene words in his vocabulary with the single word, Mercy.

That did the trick. Now when one spoke with him, instead of feeling you were engaged in a conversation with a Brooklyn dock worker, you felt you were in the presence of a minister of god. It was mercy this and merciful that. His career prospered.

I used to like to visit him at his home, he would greet me at the door and say something like, “Mercy, Mercy Joe. Have mercy on me if it is not good to see you. Come in, you look like you could use a merciful drink.”

Which I translated as, “Fuck Joe, you look like a piece of dog shit.”

I guess the moral of this tale is that when listening to most merciful politicians, pay mercifully close attention to what the mercy head is saying and you won’t be mercified.

Somewhere between Chiang Mai and the border wi...

Somewhere between Chiang Mai and the border with Myanmar. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IT THAILAND:

While on the subject of calling things by various euphemisms, I have been called a lot of different things. I have been endearingly or sarcastically referred to as Joe, Joey, Pookie, Papa (my current honorific in Thailand), Kuhn Joe (My previous honorific when I had money), Papa Joe, Grandpa and so on. I have also been called variously, jerk, asshole, bastard, SOB and various slang expressions for the male member (This latter usually preceded by the word “big” which I guess is better than “little”). Once the secretaries of the California State Office of Planning and Research reputedly voted me “Telephone Jerk of the Year” in honor of my particular brand of telephone etiquette.

While extensive and creative nick names are not the norm in western Europe north of Rome Italy, in Thailand people’s names keep changing. Recently someone who I knew as Ma changed her name to Jess.

SWAC (Which is the shortened acronym for “She who must be avoided at all costs”) originally called “Ying” or little girl in Thai or in Bangkok slang, “little prostitute”, has also been known of as Kuhn Nat, Suphravee, and Natalie. For as long as I have known her several people around Soi 11 in Bangkok have referred to her as that “Notorious lesbian and international prostitute” or NLIP (pronounced EN-LIP). Recently, the lonely widow (you remember her) and others have called her the “Notorious social climber” (NSC). –There is that word “Notorious” again. I think it is better to be referred to as “Notorious” than “unknown”, “Irrelevant” or “Inept.” For example, I would prefer to be known as “Joe the notorious screw up” rather than “Joe the inept screw-up.”

Anyway, I think most of us have been called so many things at one time or another during our lives that over time it becomes more and more difficult knowing who we are.

Also today, I got my re-entry permit (that means I can leave and return to Thailand without losing my retirement visa). This brings me closer to my brief return to the US.

Now the question I am toying with is whether I fly into LA and visit friends there and then to SF and leave from there back to Thailand (or vice versa), or whether I should simply fly in and out of SF and take a quick trip to Southern California during my stay.

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“Now and then we had a hope that if we lived and were good, God would permit us to be pirates.”
Mark Twain

English: I took photo with Canon camera in Gar...

English: I took photo with Canon camera in Garden City, KS. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ciao…

Categories: October through December 2010 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th November 15 2010

Laura Rees as Lavinia in Lucy Bailey's 2006 pr...

Laura Rees as Lavinia in Lucy Bailey’s 2006 production at Shakespeare’s Globe; note the ‘realistic’ effects and blood (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

TODAY’S FACTOID:

1995: A critic with too much time on his hands while reviewing Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus determined that the play,“…has 14 killings, 9 of them on stage, 6 severed members, 1 rape (or 2 or 3 depending on how you count), 1 live burial, 1 case of insanity, and 1 of cannibalism—-an average of 5.2 atrocities per act, or one for every 97 lines.”

(Sounds like the typical summertime Hollywood blockbuster movie to me)

TODAY’S NEWS FROM THAILAND:

Chao Phyra River

Chao Phyra River (Photo credit: Rodney_F)

The Thai authorities in response to the recent flooding of the capital have announced that instead of spending more money on things like sandbags, they intended to invest in constructing a series of underground viaducts to channel future flood waters from the city into the Chao Phyra river that runs trough Bangkok.

What they failed to mention was that Bangkok used to have a perfectly adequate system to channel off flood water in its canal system. The canals were filed to make roads thereby causing many of the current problems plaguing the city, not the least of which is periodic flooding.

Also they did not mention that like New Orléans, significant portions of Bangkok are below sea-level and merely directing more water into an already constrained system will do nothing to prevent flood waters from backing up from the river on to the city’s streets except perhaps to shift the areas of the city subject to flooding from where they are currently to along the densely populated riverside.

POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THAILAND:

Nothing much has occurred during the past few days. I am still feeling under the weather. I occupy myself with the usual breakfast at the café, walk along the beach, swim in the pool and then rest in my apartment as I try to kick whatever it is I have.

MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:

TOO MANY JOES (CONT.)

ELISA

I guess it is appropriate now to break into JOE’S story to say a little about his wife Elisa, my grandmother. After all she had as great an influence on my imagination as did my grandfather JOE.

Elisa Bargellini, was born in a small village called Roccantica

Roccantica RI

Roccantica RI (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

located in Sabina about 60 kilometers northeast of Rome. She was one of 12 children. Which number of the 12, I do not know. I also do not know the date of her birth, perhaps around 1890 of so.

Ultimately, most of the children emigrated from the town, four went to Australia, four to America and four remained in italy.

The house that she was born in had two large rooms, a bed room with a heavy wood beamed ceiling and a kitchen-living area with a large fireplace built into the wall that separated the two rooms.

Many years later, during 1968 through 70, I was living in Rome and rented one of my relatives apartments in the town. There I would spend my weekends.

Every night, I would leave my apartment and climb the steps that served as streets in the village and visit the house in which my grandmother was born. Philomena, my grandmothers sister still lived there with her son Mauro and her daughter in law Rosanna.

Whenever I arrived, I would usually find Philomena sitting by the fire with three of her women friends, her daughter-in-law puttering around in the background. Mauro was usually at the little café he ran in the village. The only light in the room came from the fire.

I would take my accustomed seat on the floor to the right of the fire, partially inside of fireplace cavity and lean back against the warm stones.

There would also always be an empty extra chair set out.

I would sit there and listen to the old women talk about the day’s gossip but mostly about their real or imagined aches and pains, their faces glowing red in the glint of the light from the fire.

Every so often there would be a knock on the door and someone from the town would enter and take the empty chair. The visitor would be offered coffee and biscuits. Then between sips of coffee they would relate their tales of the day’s happenings.

When they had finished, each visitor would get up, politely thank the women for their hospitality and leave and the women would go back to their discussions until the next knock on the door intervened.

My favorite visitor during those nights was the village blind man who arrived every evening at about the same time. He began talking even before knocking on the door, shouting out his helloes and continuing his patter as he opened the door and walked into the room. Since the empty chair was always in the same place every night he would walk directly over to it, feel for it with his cane and sit down. He always wore dark clothing and had a great round face that hung there in the flickering firelight like a benevolent Jack-o-lantern. He was a wonderful story-teller.

Roccantica (RI), 2006

Roccantica (RI), 2006 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

He would tell, in great detail and animation, about his wanderings that day along the paths in and around the village. He would tell of the different sounds made by the small animals as they slithered away when he walked by. He described the songs of the birds and what they ment to him and how they made him feel. The touch of the wind on his face and the feel of the plants that grew along side the path as he took them into his hands would fill him with delight. Every conversation he had during the day was recalled precisely and because he was by necessity inquisitive, contained a tale of its own. Then once he was finished, he would rise from his chair and tap his way to the door and leave. After he closed the door he would shout out to us inside that he would see us all again tomorrow. Then there was silence except for the hiss of the burning logs as we all meditated on his absence until after a while the analyses of the medical symptoms that accompanies aging would begin once more.

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

1. The wisdom of Miracle Max:

Miracle Max: You got any money?
Inigo Montoya: Sixty-five.
Miracle Max: I’ve never worked for so little. Except once, and that was a very noble cause.
Inigo Montoya: This is noble, sir. His wife is… crippled. His children are on the brink of starvation.
Miracle Max: Are you a rotten liar?
Inigo Montoya: I need him to help avenge my father, murdered these twenty years.
Miracle Max: Your first story was better.
The Princess Bride

2. Yiddish for beginners (from Wikipedia):

bagel: a ring-shaped bread roll made by boiling then baking the dough.
blintz: a sweet cheese-filled crêpe.
bris: the circumcision of a male child.
boychick: boy, young man.
bubkes (also spelled “bupkis”): emphatically nothing, as in “He isn’t worth bubkes” (literally ‘goat droppings).
chutzpah: nerve, guts, daring, audacity, effrontery.
dreck: (vulgar) worthless material, especially merchandise.
dybbuk: the malevolent spirit of a dead person that enters and controls a living body until exorcised.

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“I hope our wisdom will grow with our power, and teach us, that the less we use our power the greater it will be.”
Thomas Jefferson

Categories: October through December 2010 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3 Th. November 13, 2010

Al Capone. Mugshot information from Science an...

Al Capone. Mugshot information from Science and Society Picture Gallery: Al Capone (1899-1947), American gangster, 17 June 1931. ‘Al Capone sent to prison. This picture shows the Bertillon photographs of Capone made by the US Dept of Justice. His rogue’s gallery number is C 28169’. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today’s factoid:

1929 May 7Chicago Outfit hit-men Albert Anselmi and John Scalise, two of the men suspected in the murder of North Side Gang leader Dean O’Banion and fellow mob boss Joseph “Hop Toad” Giunta, the current Unione Siculiana President were all killed during a lavish party held at Al Capone’s residence. The party was a ruse by mob boss Al Capone to lure the three men to their deaths after their plan to gain leadership of the Chicago Outfit by eliminating Capone was uncovered. The men were beaten to death by Capone, who used a baseball bat to commit the murders.

(They fall for the party bit every time.)

Today’s news from Thailand:

1. Flush with new funds (I do not know from where) and increasing popularity in Northeast Thailand, the opposition party (Red Shirts) are preparing for expected victory in the general elections scheduled for sometime next year, when and more importantly if they occur. I guess the following can be anticipated between now and then:
a, The military will redouble its efforts to institutionalize the organizational changes under-weigh within the military high command and within its chief rival the national police.
b. The military will use the remaining States of Emergency (over primarily Red Shirt areas) to destroy their infrastructure and intimidate potential voters.
c. The military will seek to institutionalize their administrative control over the rebellious South.
d. The current government while having no real option but to rely on the military will contribute by continuing their efforts to create legal barriers to the return of ex-prime minister Thaksin and by supporting populist appearing policies in hopes of winning over some voters.
e. Should all this fail and a Red Shirt victory appear possible then, if the military feels confident enough in their power, look for an attempted accommodation with the Red Shirts over budget and personnel issues and failing that suspension of the elections or another coup.

2. In Phnom Penh Cambodia the police have begun arresting “anarchist” cattle who are blocking traffic.

Karen people, rice growing in Doi In

Karen people, rice growing in Doi In (Photo credit: pierre pouliquin)

3. The clashes along the Thai Burma border between Karen rebels and the Burmese army appear to be abating. The conflict seems to have been touched off by a rebel group within the Karen forces who for some reason objected to an agreement between the Burmese government and the Karen leadership to turn over the guarding of the border with Thailand to the Karen forces.

Pookie’s adventures in Thailand:

Today I discovered that I was only about 5 pounds over my target weight. Whether my most recent weight loss has been the result of diet, exercise or due to my recent attack of food poisoning, I do not know.

This morning a went for my usual stroll through “Little Crimea.” The beach culture that I walk through is as alien to me as the surrounding Thai lifestyles and customs. I feel fortunate to be able every morning to experience three distinct societies; Thai through my interaction with the merchants and wait-people at the café where I always feel a bit like I am somehow doing something wrong; European with my discussions with Ian from Scotland ( who has lived here in Thailand for over 30 years) about things like how drunk was Winston Churchill during World War II and finally; The Great Slavic Nation whose mores are as opaque to me as any.

As usual, temporizing has come to my rescue with respect to my trip planning. Until yesterday my schedule was dependent to a considerable degree on the situation with Hayden. Yesterday I discovered that SWAC is depositing him with a family in Washington DC, thereby eliminating any possibility of my seeing him either in the US or in Italy. So, now my plans are to return to the US in mid December, visit with friends and family during the holidays, have my medical check-up and return to Thailand in early January.

Papa Joe’s fables and tales:

THE MASSEUSE’S TALE OF A NIGHT OF RAIN AND AN UMBRELLA.

Recently my masseuse told me that a few nights ago it had been raining heavily in Bangkok. She had retreated to her tiny room and lay upon her bed. Because the roof leaked badly she had opened her tiny umbrella to protect herself from the dripping water. She was unable to sleep. After a while there was a knock at her door and upon opening it she found the homeless woman who lived in the alley by her room standing there dripping wet. She invited her in and they spent the night waiting out the storm together huddled under the umbrella.

“That was very nice of you.” I said.

She looked at me quizzically and said, “She held the umbrella for half the night so that I could get some sleep.”

I guess the moral of this tale is, “When it is raining and the roof leaks and all you have is a small umbrella, charity can keep you dry and help you to get some sleep.”

Mopey Joe’s memories:

TOO MANY JOES (CONT.)

JOE (CONT.)

Joe’s business prospered and not long after the birth of Jack (my father), he along with a distant relative named Biancchi formed a construction company named Petrillo and Biancchi Construction.

Joe ran the operations side and Biancchi who could read and write English was in charge of office matters. The business succeeded beyond all expectations. It became one of the first significant Italian-American construction companies in the United States. They specialized in heavy construction, roads and the like. They built many of the roads in Westchester County as the United State’s vast road building and paving enterprise was just getting under-weigh to accommodate the motor car.

This was also a period of great movement of people from New York City into what they considered the bucolic environment of Westchester County. Petrillo and Biancchi built the infrastructure for the neighborhoods to accommodate these new style immigrants. The move from the City although first seen as  indication of material success soon became a frenzied flight from the real or imagined evils of the City.

Joe built the house on Dante Avenue in Tuckahoe. Today that home would be considered relatively modest in size, but for an immigrant family it was huge. More importantly it was built on Dante Avenue.

Dante Avenue, despite its name, had been off-limits for Italian Americans at that time. On it lived those who for one reason or another could not or would not live in Scarsdale or Bronxville, Jews because they were prohibited by deed and “gentlemen’s agreements” (as were Italians and Blacks), successful WASP businessmen in the area who wanted to live more closely to their businesses and others sensible and independent enough to realize that they could build their largish houses much cheaper in Tuckahoe that in the gold-plated restricted communities around them.

Joe and his family were the first Italian-Americans to move to Dante Avenue. There was little resistance, even if there was some concern, since most of the other residents tended to be somewhat iconoclastic for the time.

By about 1928, with his oldest son approaching nine or so, Joe decided he wanted to enjoy the wealth he had amassed and return to Italy in a style that would have been denied to him had he remained there and not emigrated to the United States. So, he sold his interest in the company to his partner for some cash and notes that could allow him to live back in his native country as almost a minor nobility.

Pepe’s potpourri:

1. The wisdom of Miracle Max:

Miracle Max: [Lifts and drops the arm of the dead Westley] “I’ve seen worse.”
The Princess Bride

2. My newest patron saint, Saint Moses the Black:


Moses was a gang leader in 5th century Egypt (Sort of like the 5th century version of the leader of the local “Hells Angels” or the “Mongols” or the Egyptian Al Capone if you will) and murderer and thief.

One day he was trapped by the authorities. In order to escape capture and avoid almost certain execution, Moses ducked into monastery and claimed sanctuary. Fearing arrest should he leave the precincts of the monastery, Moses wisely became a monk.

Shortly thereafter 4 brigands invaded the church to loot the poor box or something. Our Moses was on duty that night. He caught the thieves, beat them up and dragged them off to face the Abbot.

This thrilled the abbot. He announced to the other monks that Moses had seen the light of God since he only beat the shit out of the thieves and did not kill them.

When the good abbot died, the other monks acclaimed Moses abbot. It seems that at the time defense of the Holy Writ was better served by two fists than pious prayers.

Moses died in his seventies while leading a counter-attack on a local biker gang that had the temerity to assault Moses’ monastery.

Now here is a saint I think I can pray to.

Today’s quote:

When evening comes, I return home [from work and from the local tavern] and go to my study. On the threshold, I strip naked, taking off my muddy, sweaty work day clothes, and put on the robes of court and palace, and, in this graver dress, I enter the courts of the ancients, and am welcomed by them, and there I taste the food that alone is mine, and for which I was born. And there I make bold to speak to them and ask the motives of their actions, and they, in their humanity, reply to me. And for the space of four hours I forget the world, remember no vexation, fear poverty no more, tremble no more at death; I pass indeed into their world.
Niccolo Machiavelli describing his exile in a letter to Francesco Vettori.

Today’s Photo:

Hayden’s friend Leo and his father Gerry.

Categories: October through December 2010 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. November 11 2010

The Piazza della Signoria is one of many Flore...

The Piazza della Signoria is one of many Florentine squares along the course of the marathon. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today’s factoid:

The Medieval and Renaissance government of Florence, Italy (called the Signoria)was chosen by lot. Guild members over thirty years old and who were not in debt, nor served a recent term and had no relation to the names already drawn were eligible for office.

Pookie’s adventures in Thailand:

Planning for my return to the US continues apace, implementation, not so good. I grasp at any excuse to avoid the hassles; the latest being the arrival of my masseuse this week on Wednesday instead of Friday. It seems a co-worker has gone on vacation to Sweden so her vacation day was switched to Wednesday. I don’t understand it, but so be it. Anyway instead of doing anything about my trip I had a massage, went for a swim in the pool and took a nap. Later I went for a walk on the beach. Tomorrow is another day.

I am still hoping to get up to Chiang Mai briefly before I leave. I was depending on Gun Girl for transportation. But, once again she has disappeared. Maybe I will just fly up for a day or two next week.

I realize that with my potential return to the US, “This and that…” will most likely come to an end. That saddens me because I so enjoyed writing it.

Papa Joe’s Tales and Fables:

THE MASSEUSE’S TALE – THE SLEEPING CUSTOMER

English: Sculpture: The Masseuse by Edgar Dega...

English: Sculpture: The Masseuse by Edgar Degas. Location: Dallas Museum of Art (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My masseuse M mentioned that one day a co-worker at the health club had a customer who paid for a one hour massage. Shortly into the massage he fell into a deep sleep only waking up when the hour was over and the massage finished.

He then told the masseuse that he really wanted a “Happy Ending.” The masseuse told him that she was sorry but his time was up and he would have to pay for another hour if he wanted a “Happy Ending.” The customer became upset and left.

I asked M, what she thought about that.

She said, “If you’re looking for happiness don’t fall asleep or it will cost you more.”

Mopey Joe’s memories:

TOO MANY JOES (CONT.)

JOE (CONT.)

Anyway, as it so happened, Black Mike and Joe were rivals of some sort.

When he was not off on business, Black Mike could usually be found sitting on an overturned milk box in front of the candy store on Columbus Avenue that served as his headquarters and office, leaning on his cane containing a gun inside. Joe would drive by in his horse-drawn wagon. As is common among Italians from the south of Italy they would call out jibes and gentle insults to each other.

One day the rumor around the village was that a high-class beautiful young women was immigrating from a village near to Rome (hence the high-class) to their town. As young men sometimes will do, Joe and Black Mike made a bet as to which of them will date the beautiful Elisa Bargellini (for that was her name) first. I do not know the stakes.

Determined to win the bet, Joe, as he was to do many times, paid someone to read the newspapers to him and so he found out when the object of their wager was due to arrive and on which ship.

When that day arrived Joe hitched up his wagon put on what passed for his best clothes and set off for the docks in New York City. He was there when the ship docked and somehow located her. He told her that he had come all the way from Tuckahoe to drive her back to the village. This flattered her and after all, Joe also was a handsome man by any standards and so she accepted the ride and they set off back to Tuckahoe.

Back then the sixteen mile or so ride from the docks to the village must have taken most of the day. Anyway when they arrived Joe was careful to drive down Columbus Avenue and past the candy store with Black Mike mustache and all, silting outside.

A few months later he and Elisa had wed.

They settled down in the village and Elisa bore three sons and a daughter, Giacomo (Jack), Joseph (uncle Joe), Marcella and Aldo.

Pepe’s Potpourri:

1. The wisdom of Miracle Max:

Inigo Montoya: Are you the Miracle Max who worked for the king all those years?
Miracle Max: The King’s stinking son fired me, and thank you so much for bringing up such a painful subject. While you’re at it, why don’t you give me a nice paper cut and pour lemon juice on it? We’re closed.
The Princess Bride

2. Something from the distant past:

Developer Drops Plan for 3 Malibu Mansions
Los Angeles Times, Metro Digest / Local News in Brief
October 13, 1990
Developer Sheldon Gordon has abruptly withdrawn his latest plan to build three mansions in Malibu’s exclusive Sweetwater Mesa area before the California Coastal Commission could consider the matter.

“Emotions are simply running too high,” said Joseph Petrillo, Gordon’s attorney.

Today’s quote:

“Present wars impoverish the lords that win as much as those that lose.”

Niccolo Machiavelli 1

Niccolo Machiavelli 1 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Niccolo Machiavelli, The Art of War.

 

 

Categories: October through December 2010 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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