TODAY FROM THAILAND:
1. My brush with death: A few days ago, I began to feel a sharp pain at the back of my neck. Of course, I assumed it must be caused by the sudden growth of a tumor pressing against my spinal cord and that death was imminent. When the pain continued the next morning after I woke up, I contemplated avoiding the health club on the off-chance that I merely was suffering a muscle pull from over-exercising. In any event, if I were dying as I thought, additional exercise would make no difference to improving my health. Anyway, whatever it is that makes you do what you clearly do not want to do got the best of me and I decided to take one last swim; so I decided to go. When I picked up my sports bag, I noticed that it seemed unusually heavy and recalled that it also appeared so yesterday when I left the health club. I opened it up to check it out and found that in addition to my exercise outfit and swimming trunks, it contained several plastic bottles filled with water and two large bunches of bananas placed therein without my knowledge by LM. I removed them and confident that I will live at least through to tomorrow morning, set off for the club.
2. David returns: David has returned to BKK from Qatar and will stay for about a month before he returns. David describes Qatar the way I would describe Newark New Jersey. It is someplace you may be because you work there, but it is not a place you go to for a vacation or to have a good time. It was good to see him again and talk about various weight reduction programs. After dinner we went to one of the bars on Soi Nana where I drank Corona with lime and watched David joyfully harass the Mama-san. For the first time in many months, I drank too much and paid for it the next day.
3. Blogging Woe: I have now published about 350 posts in various blogs. My left-wing blog posts average about five comments per post. About thirty percent of the comments describe how much of an idiot the writer thinks I am. Another thirty percent disagree with me but without the insult, while another thirty percent responds with something deflating like, “Interesting.” The last ten percent are usually gibberish.
Of my own blogs, out of almost 300 posts, I have received about five comments altogether. I do not know how people get their posts read and responded to. Recently, I signed up for something that sends your blog to other bloggers so that each can “follow” the other and thereby generate “hits” and “comments.” I noticed that the comments tend to be along the line of “Thanks for following my blog after I began to follow yours and begged you to do the same.” When I was a recent post pubescent teenager in summer camp we called it a circle jerk. I did not find it fun then and I do not now.
I do not understand why someone with a blog about something like “Photographs of Travels with my Family to Hemet California” gets hundreds of hits while I am lucky if I get three. I now, as a result of this application, follow a blog, if you can imagine, of someone who shows you how to apply sparkle to your Starbucks coffee-cup. She has almost 1000 followers and someone wants to use one of her cups in a video promotion. Another one is published by someone who claims he is a “marriage coach.” His blog focuses on the importance of woman performing fellatio to solidify their relationship with a man. I read a post by a women advising other women how to work up to swallowing sperm without showing disgust on your face. He has thousands of followers. But then sex always sells.
I wonder if I am the only one who reads this stuff. I feel I have to read and approve of it before agreeing to follow a blog.
B. NEWS STRAIGHT OR SLIGHTLY BENT:
1. Another reason to love Thailand:
Gary forwarded to me a report of a poll of 1,228 households in 17 provinces across Thailand. It found that, “84.5% of respondents regarded cheating as a normal business practice and 51.2% said corruption by government officials was acceptable as long as it improved their living conditions. Similar surveys conducted over the past few years reached essentially the same conclusions regardless of respondents’ geographical regions. Such findings clearly point out that Thailand is a nation made up largely of thieves who will cheat at every opportunity.”
This is one of the reasons why they call this place a paradise. It most other places one spends ones life in heightened anxiety wondering if the next person he meets is going to be the sociopath who will try to defraud him out of his money. Here you can relax confidently knowing that everyone you meet, is.
2. How Thais Reconcile:
A brawl broke out in the Thai Parliament between the two major parties over the bill to reconcile the two opposing factions forcing the session into recess. During the recess two female members of the opposition Democratic Party attempted to steal the Speaker of the Parliament’s chair, I assume to prevent him from “chairing” the session following the recess. Two other female members of the ruling party noticing the attempted theft flew to save the chair as it was disappearing off the podium. The ensuing fight between the ladies rivaled the brawl going on among their male counterparts in another section of the chamber.
The Thai Constitutional Court has stepped into the fray arguing that they have to do so before the parties to be reconciled kill each other in the process.
The brawl has now spilled out into the streets of the country. The military has ominously announced they are “concerned” about events.
As far as I can tell, the brouhaha is all about whether Thaksin the Terrible the exiled fugitive former Prime Minister and brother to the current Prime Minister Princess LuckyGirl will be allowed to return without the threat of arrest. I am not sure why this remains an issue with the opposition party run by Abhsit the Unready, the previous Prime Minister, since they claim he already runs the country from his residence in exile.
MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:
Louis from the 1964 Diary:
Thursday, February 20, 1964.
“Tonight was very interesting. Lou called and invited me to see his new apartment in the Village. I went there. It is a hovel. He told me all about how nicely he intended to fix it up.
An interesting young man named Leonard Melfi arrived. He is a young playwright, currently writing plays for Cafe La Mama.
We spent the next several hours drinking and talking. Lou described at some length his overactive sex life, including his current affair with a young actress and also the four other women he had gotten pregnant.
Leonard and I then went off on a discussion about the Janet Wylie murder that occupied the headlines of the NY newspapers for almost a year. We both closely followed the news reports about the killing. He had known Janet and appeared to have additional information not reported in the papers. We decided that the murderer was most likely the third roommate. The police, however did not consider her a suspect.
He and I discussed our fascination with murders and the process of identifying the murderer. Much more exciting than solving other types of puzzles we agreed.”
Monday, April 27, 1964, I wrote:
“This weekend the police produced a suspect in the Janet Wylie murder. His arrest upended all the theories Leonard and I had developed. He was the only remaining option unaccounted for in our theories. The murder was a completely random event. The suspect was someone who just wandered in and surprised the girls. Although when we were developing our theories we touched on this possibility, we rejected it as just too far fetched.”
Leonard Melfi was one of the most important American playwrights of the 1960s when experimental theater was the rage. His works were originally performed at Ellen Stewart’s La Mama. He became a raging alcoholic and died alone in a SRO hotel on NY’s Broadway and 93rd Street on October 24, 2001.
Janet Wylie and her roommate, Emily Hoffert, two young professionals, were murdered in their Upper East Side apartment by an intruder on August 28, 1963, in what the press called The Career Girls Murders. The suspect taken into custody referred to above was a black man, George Whitmore. It later turned out, investigators erroneously arrested and forced a false confession from Whitmore. Richard Robles a young white man was ultimately apprehended in 1965 and charged with the crime. Nevertheless, Whitmore was imprisoned for many years until he was eventually released. Robles, now 68, was convicted and remains in prison.
A. What “Occupy” is all about and what it really wants:
Is it our fault or theirs? Is it our problem or theirs? Does the American Dream require we do something about it, or does it mean we do not have to if we do not want to? Does your answer change if most of those living on $2 a day are from your racial, ethnic, gender or other affinity groups?
One of the differences between those that test out as liberals and those who fall into the conservative basket, is that conservatives will most likely answer the last question in the affirmative. It is not simply hypocrisy, but how large one draws the line defining community in which we belong. Many of us limit community to our peers or family. Most of us see the United States as a symbol or an emotion but not as a community. As far as the world is concerned, I doubt if very many of us at all see it as a whole community. We just view it as a collection of vague abstractions connecting communities of interest.
B. Testosterone Chronicles:
I do not often discuss myself in this section, but since everything is really all about me all the time, I do not think it makes much of a difference.
After exercising and showering at the health club a few days ago, I entered the sauna, towel wrapped around my waist, carrying my exercise shirt and trunks with me hoping they would dry a bit in the sauna before I stuffed them into my sports bag. Already in the sauna was a large man weighing about 100 lb. more than me and about 3 inches or more taller. Between the two of us we pretty much filled up that small space.
Although we had never spoken, I had seen him around and have sat in the sauna with him*. He is an aficionado of sauna and brings with him his own mixture of minerals in a cup that he pours into the bucket containing the water one throws over the hot rocks. This mixture produces a strong eucalyptus aroma with undercurrents of other things the nature of which I could not hope to guess.
I usually enjoyed being in the sauna when he did his thing. As far as I knew, his special mixture could have contained carcinogens or something equally bad. But, I really did not care. After all, almost any thing could pass for entertainment, even slow acting poison, when you are naked and sitting in a small dark room sweating and staring at a cheap wooden wall.
This time however, as I took my seat on one of the benches, he turned to me and in an Eastern European accent growled, “Put clothes out side. This sauna. They smell.”
I was surprised and annoyed and, to be honest, challenged. After all, people enter the sauna all the time wearing their shorts or bathing trunks so why pick on me. Perhaps, I also felt objected to my body odor and that always is a serious insult among the testosterone addled.
“Why,” I responded? “You’re fat and smelly but you don’t hear me asking you to leave.”
An animated discussion followed during which I received a brief but emphatic lecture on sauna etiquette and repeated uttering of the immortal challenge of one male to another, “You want to make something of it?”
So there we were, two naked fat guys belly to belly in a tiny room exuding male hormones along with sweat. If anything were going to stink the place up it was us.
I really wasn’t worried about a physical confrontation even though I would probably lose. I suspected neither of us wanted to be thrown out of the club, and given the dangers of the open rock heaters, I assumed also we both recognized we would undoubtably each suffer serious harm.
Unable to compete in a debate on sauna etiquette or to physically intimidate him I turned to what I do best. I resorted to insult, referring to him as, “The Sauna Nazi.”
Nevertheless, I did put my clothing outside. We then sat for the next 15 minutes on opposite benches knees inches apart sweating in silence.
It rankled me that I conceded on the clothing, but consoled myself with knowing I gained a story and he didn’t.
Now I know that some of you reading this will be saying to yourselves why didn’t Joe just say something like, “Ok, I’ll wait until you finish your sauna, then I will come in with my smelly clothing?” Well, for one thing, I do not think that fast. And for another, it was more entertaining doing what I did then spending 20 minutes alone in that small wooden box staring at my sweat dropping on to the slats of the sauna’s bench. I guess you can say that I thirsted for some intense and intimate social interaction.
I am thinking of writing a short story called “Fat Boy the Sauna Nazi.” You can help by suggesting plot elements.
*Back in February 20, 2011, I wrote this in “This and that…”
“After returning to Bangkok, as I was taking a sauna at the health club a rather large man entered, mixed into a plastic cup some water from the bucket containing eucalyptus, a white powder that looked like cocaine but I assumed wasn’t because no sane person would throw cocaine on to hot rocks and some liquid from a small green bottle. He then poured the concoction over the hot coals. Almost immediately the air in the sauna became noticeably hotter, my skin began to prickle and I began to sweat profusely. The usual camphor smell of the vapors from the eucalyptus water changed subtly to a more citrus taste and smell and penetrated much more deeply into my lungs. The alchemist and I sweated together in the small room until I gave up and left to take a cool shower. I felt unusually light-headed for a while.
Now you may wonder why I did not inquire of the mysterious stranger what he was up to. Alas, in my life I have preferred the adventure of discovery to the safety of knowledge.”
This is another one of those charts that I am not sure what it is I am supposed to get out of it, but like the graphics. I do notice, however, it appears that low occupancy vehicles if electrified will do little to reduce particulate pollution or climate change gases if the effect is to require more electrical generating capacity unless the choice of fuels is radically different from what appears on the chart. On the other hand the change from non-stationary to stationary emission sources could allow for greater control of emissions.
This is photograph of a fire rainbow. Fire rainbows appear when sunlight hits ice crystals in high-altitude cirrus clouds. Because the fire rainbow actually involves no rain at all, scientists would rather we refer to this occurrence by its much less fun, but much more accurate title: the circumhorizontal arc. Since the arc requires both the presence of cirrus clouds and for the sun to be extremely high in the sky, it’s much more likely to be seen at latitudes closer to the equator.
May a circumhorizontal arc brighten your day.