Thursday, March 30, 2006

Phuket or bust!

Well, we board the train tonight to head to Bankok, then catch a flight on to Phuket for a long weekend of fun in the sun! The kids have been after me for nearly three years to ride the train to Bangkok, and this is the perfect chance before we leave for Hong Kong. We'll be staying at a nice little resort down there. It should be lots and lots of fun.

Trying out a new "Thingy"

Video Sharing at
This is the clubhouse and pool for our neighborhood. It isn't great quality, but I took it with the video camera on my cell phone. For some reason, when it posted, it posted in a mirror. It is backwards of what it should be.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

No "Total Eclipse" for Thailand

There is supposed to be a total eclipse of the sun today, but Thailand is just too far to the south to be affected. Had we still be in West Africa, we would have experienced a 100% eclipse. Go to this link to see the path of the eclipse.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Being Nice

I think being kind and nice to one another is an important quality. I think that if one does not exercise these traits, they can become stale, and like bread, the person becomes hard. The tone of voice, the look of the eyes, and other body language often is, to me, as important as the words that are said.

For some, the correct word is "exercise", for being nice and kind sometimes doesn't come easily for some people. That doesn't mean that they can't be nice or kind, but by not exercising, actually make an unconscious choice to be snarly, callous, or indifferent. These folks tend to allow their speech to be full of complaints, bitterness, and contention. To others, being nice is second nature. You enjoy being around those people, for they are always full of compliments, praise, and encouragement.

A kind word can go a very long way, but a word with an attitude can be like building a brick wall between two people, or even around yourself. With some, it often feels like a full time job of dismantling stacked bricks.

I am going to try to be full of kind words today. I am going to try to not complain about things, or even about those who aren't full of kind words. Lord, help me to be more like Jesus.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006


Third Culture Kids refers to the phenomenon of children who are raised overseas not really fitting in the host culture, but not feeling a part of the parent's culture either. I have two TCKs in my house!

We were deciding what snacks to buy at the grocery store the other day and the kids decided to pick up some dried seaweed. Now, technically, there isn't anything wrong with seaweed. I have eaten it many times. I don't like it, don't prefer it and wouldn't buy it for myself, but it won't kill you. However, Audrey was especially keen on keeping some in the house so that she could take it to school for a snack.

In the words of my dear sweet little mother, "God love her".

Errand Who?

Last night, we were having a little family meeting regarding the future reassignment of responsibilities in respects to recieving allowances. I was telling the girls that the list of duties would be a little different in Hong Kong. I told them that they would have different chores, errands, and tasks. Emily chimes in and asks, "Who's Aaron?"

I thought that was pretty funny!

June 12

June 12 is the date that we are scheduled to move to HK. I really have mixed emotions about the move:

I really like living in Chiang Mai.
My kids have friends in Chiang Mai.
I have a car in Chiang Mai.
Things are cheap in Chiang Mai.

The job match is better for me in HK.
There are ferries, taxis, double-decker buses, and subways in HK.
There is a better restaurant selection in HK.
There is a more familiar change of seasons in HK.

All in all, I am excited about the move. I am going to miss my friends and colleagues here in Chiang Mai, but I know a lot of folks in HK already. My kids are very excited about moving there. Maybe it is just Disneyland they want!

Sunday, March 19, 2006

and from the "Well, duh" file... - Oklahoma leads nation in tornado damage

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The cost of tornado damage in Oklahoma since 1996 has been higher than any other state, according to a newspaper analysis.
Using federal data, The Oklahoman found that from 1996 through February 2005, the state — located in the heart of what is commonly known as Tornado Alley — has suffered more than $1.6 billion in damages from tornadoes. That's about $1 billion more than the state in second place on that list, Arkansas.

Oklahoma ranks eighth nationally during the same time span in overall weather damage — which includes damage from snow, hail, high winds, floods and other storms — at about $3.1 billion.

The research also indicates that about 900 people have been injured by tornados during that time span.

The newspaper analyzed thousands of storm events, which have been compiled by the National Climatic Data Center.

"Unfortunately, we live in a state that's no stranger to disasters," said Albert Ashwood, the director of the state Emergency Management Department. "We seem to have a disaster every year."

Oklahoma's location puts it at risk for tornadoes. The state is between the Rocky Mountains and the Gulf of Mexico, which means that cold, dry air from Canada and warm, moist air from the gulf frequently meet in the atmosphere above Oklahoma.

The top ranking in the tornado-damage category is due in good part to the fierce storms of May 3, 1999, during which 70 twisters touched down in Oklahoma, Texas and Kansas. Storms that day caused about $1.1 billion in damages in Oklahoma.

"That was the granddaddy of them all," said Joe Schaefer, director of the Storm Prediction Center in Norman.

Twenty-seven tornadoes were reported in Oklahoma in 2005. National Weather Service meteorologist Kenneth James in Norman said it's impossible to predict if that number will be exceeded this year.

"If the right combination of variables comes together on any of those days, we can have a significant outbreak," James said. "We just may not have a lot of them."

Happy Birthday, Randy Kluver

Today is Randy Kluver's birthday. He is one of the very first people that I met at the University of Oklahoma, back in 1982. Since then, we have been very good friends. We moved to Los Angeles after college in 1986 and even worked at Graybar Electric Company together. I was a groomsman in his and Pam's wedding, and went to Hong Kong to visit them when they were teaching English in China, back in 1988. This picture is of the two of us at Brady in East LA in May 1986, before we actually moved to LA.

We had the opportunity to visit them last April in Singapore, and they are going to return the visit next month when they come to Chiang Mai.

Check out Randy's blog HERE.

Happy Birthday, Randy! Can't wait to see you next month.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Spiritual Birthday

March 18, 1973. The day I gave my heart to Jesus and was born anew.

Thank you, Lord, for your never-ending mercy and grace.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Mr. Martin Whipple - 42 years old today

Of course, this picture is probably 25 years old, because he barely looks like this anymore!

Martin is my best and closest friend. I have known him since we went to "Little Friends Kindergarten" together back in 1969, in Sapulpa, OK. He now lives in Enid, OK with his wife and three kids. Linda is a saint for having put up with him for over 20 years now!

Martino, I love you like a brother. May God bless you, your life, your family, and your job.

You're still ugly and your wife still dresses you funny!

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Time = Money? Since when?

Having lived overseas for some time now, I have OFTEN heard other Americans living overseas say, "Well, my time ought to be worth something!" Why? I have NEVER heard local indigenous personnel say anything of the sort. Why, then, is time worth so much more to Americans? Why is it not worth as much to "foreigners"?

I think there are some good cultural answers to these questions, but, in the end, time is time and money is money. Time is NOT, nor will it ever be, money.

I think this is a good subject for philosophical debate, but those of you who know me personally, know that I detest debates.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Marcus Brody

My apologies for the "colorful modifer" in the following script. This is, in my opinion, however, one of the funniest exchanges in any movie. It is in "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade".

ELSA (to Donovan) You're wasting your breath. He won't tell us. And he doesn't have to... it's perfectly obvious where the pages are... (looking at Indy) ... he's given them to Marcus Brody.

HENRY now wears a pained expression.

HENRY (to Indy) Marcus?! You didn't drag poor Marcus along, did you? He's not up to the challenge.

DONOVAN He sticks out like a sore thumb. We'll find him.

INDY The hell you will. He's got a two-day head-start on you, which is more than he needs. (beat) Brody's got friends in every town and village from here to the Sudan. He speaks a dozen languages, knows every local custom. He'll blend in. Disappear. You'll never see him again. With any luck, he's got the Grail already.

HENRY looks amazed and impressed.

BRODY disembarks from the train along with the other PASSENGERS, a cross- section of ARABS and TURKS.

BRODY Does anyone here speak English? Or even ancient Greek?

Thursday, March 09, 2006

No more telegraphs

I found this story about Western Union:

After 150 years, telegrams fade into history
Thursday, March 09, 2006
J'Nell Pate

As of January 27, 2006 Western Union no longer sends telegrams. Given the convenience of telephones, emails and faxes, it is no wonder that folks don’t send telegrams anymore. Back in the 1920s and 1930s telegrams were cheaper than making a long distance telephone call, so people sent a lot of telegrams.Even the military used them. I’ve been doing research at the Regional National Archives in Fort Worth on the three airfields located in Fort Worth in World War I. In their files are many telegrams sending daily reports to Washington and for other purposes. Use of the word “STOP” in a telegram was frequent because punctuation cost more than to insert the word.Thus after 150 years a familiar service stopped. Western Union still will exist, for years ago, they became primarily a financial institution to transfer money. They are the largest money transfer system in the world, functioning in 195 countries.

Let’s look at some history. Although it wasn’t called Western Union, Samuel Morse sent the world’s first “telegram” on May 24, 1844 to his partner Alfred Vail by tapping out the words, “What hath God wrought?” The message traveled over wires from Washington to Baltimore. Soon, for the first time in history, people would be able to communicate rapidly over great distances – as soon as those wires were strung.In 1851 a group of New York businessman headed by Hiram Sibley created The New York and Mississippi telegraph Company, a forerunner to Western Union. (Sibley was sort of the Bill Gates of his day.) In 1856 officials changed the name to Western Union Telegraph Company after uniting several smaller companies.

The first transcontinental telegraph line was completed in 1861, providing rapid communication during the Civil War. Obviously, the Pony Express, which had been the fastest communication between the East and California, no longer was necessary. Just as the Indians harassed the Pony Express riders who crossed the plains, they tore down or burned a few poles and telegraph wires as well. U.S. troops had to try to protect the telegraph just as they had the Pony Express riders.

Beginning in April 1856, the company took advantage of the technology of the telegraph to send messages of greetings or news – good or bad – across long or short distances. The messages came in yellow enveloped hand-delivered by a courier. (The company gradually phased out couriers in the late 1960s and early 1970s.)

If one dates from the early beginnings of Hiram Sibley in 1851, the company has been around for 155 years. With the name Western Union, they lack only a couple of months of being in existence for 150 years of telegrams.

Victor Chayet, spokesman for the company which today is based in Greenwood Village, Colorado, said in announcing the end of paper telegrams, “The decision was a hard decision because we’re fully aware of our heritage. But it’s the final transition from a communications company to a financial services company.” Their money transfer service is nothing new; it began in 1871.

Only 20,000 telegrams were sent in 2005 at an average of $10.each. Mostly the telegrams were from businesses that wanted a formal way to notify recipients. Chayet remarked, “If he only knew,” referring to Samuel Morse and the present world of communications choices that his invention of the telegraph initiated.

Historian Thomas Noel of the University of Colorado said, “It’s amazing it [the telegram] survived this long.”

I’m not sure I ever received a telegram. I remember sending telegrams to both of Texas’ Senators in the later 1970s saying no to the Panama Canal giveaway.What is so neat about telegrams is that an early emphasis was on stringing wires all across the Great Plains to California. The company was “Western” union, after all.

That's quite a difference!

I did a "print screen" and captured this real time comparison between the 100 degrees here in Chiang Mai and the 75 degrees in Hong Kong. That is quite a difference!

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Smash! Bang! CRASH!

I'm sure that is the sound my laptop made as it committed suicide this week. Well, assisted suicide, really.

My tech department came and told me that they wanted to change the encryption software on my laptop. No problem. I said I would like to make a backup before the decrypting took place. They said, there is no need. Big problem. Always go with your instincts.

I lost all of my email that is newer than February 20 and lost all of "My Documents" that is newer than last November. OUCH!!!!!!!

On my recent trip to HK, I spent about 5 hours working on a project for my future replacement and about 4 hours updating a database. I should have gone with my instincts.

I am now using my home desk top, here at the office, until my laptop can be reconfigured and reformatted. I have learned some valuable lessons:

  1. Always go with your instincts.
  2. ALWAYS make backups.
  3. Always go with your instincts.
  4. When in doubt, see #1 or #2 above.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Lateral Epicondylitis

Lateral Epicondylitis, or tennis elbow. Boy, it hurts. And the insult is, is that I don't play tennis! I don't even like to watch it on TV. Egads!

I went to the doctor this morning at Chiang Mai Ram Hospital. I have seen this doctor before on several occasions. He is a nice guys. We wanted to give me a shot of hydrocortisone. Ouch. Well, if you know me, you know that I hate needles. I must say that this was the second easiest shot I have ever had. The WORST shot I ever had was also an injection of hydrocortisone, but it was in the bottom of the foot. I thought I was going to pass out. The one today wasn't too bad.

Did I mention that I hate needles?

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Monopoly anyone?

My goodness! You leave the country for a few years and eveerything changes. I think I like it, but I'll need a few hundred to make up my mind properly.

They started distributing these in the States yesterday. They showed up in Thailand 3 weeks ago! (just kidding)

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Bad Decisions

Making bad decisions really has an impact on more people than just the person making a bad decision. I am currently dealing with two men who have made bad decisions; dealing with one directly and dealing with one indirectly. Both of them are Believers, who, for whatever reason, have chosen to walk in the flesh instead of in the Spirit. One lost his job, the other is sitting in jail.

I'm not going to give details or identity of either one, not to protect them, but to protect the innocent "victims" of their bad decisions. The one I am dealing with directly made bad decisions regarding how he was going to conduct himself in business. This led to misappropriation of funds and the inability to account for those funds. It has caused a bad witness among those who aren't believers and is causing a hardship on all the people who depended on this person. The other man who is sitting in jail is awaiting trial for making bad decisions. This man has been in church his whole life (I even watched him get baptized). He knows the Truth, but the call of the world and worldly pleasures was too great on him. He chose to make some quick money. It was very good quick money. Trouble was it was illegal. I saw a change in this man, as the money and other things grabbed him. I saw him disrespectful to people (family!) and becoming a jerk. The law caught up with him and he now faces some serious, serious prison time. This, too, is a bad witness, as this man has chosen to walk in the flesh. His family is devastated; his mother is crushed. His little sister is bewildered, confused and hurt. His little daughter could be without a father for several years.

Am I judging? No. Am I "holier than thou?" No. Am I saying "it couldn't happen to me?" No.

I am, however, disappointed, sad, confused, angry, hurt, and frustrated.

How can a child of the King do these things? I think it is because he makes a decision to do so. Not all at once, but little by little. It is a choice to walk in the flesh rather than in the Spirit. It is a very good reminder for me to make a daily decision to "walk in the Spirit" and to "abide in Christ". As a human, my tendancy is to do all things by my own strength and power (walking in the flesh). I must, Must, MUST depend on God for all things, big or small, so that I won't disappoint Him (walking in the Spirit).

Please pray for these two men and their families. Pray that God would be glorified in both situations, even if it is uncomfortable for the men. God comes FIRST!