Archive for May, 2010

Oh Gawd! The Birthday Party!(Part II in a hideous series of ordeals)

May 31, 2010

Birthdays are opportunities to celebrate life, make young ones feel older, and older ones feel increasingly concerned about dying un-noticed in a hospital, shrivelling up or developing Alzheimers.



Here in Bangkok, the ex-pat community is currently in Birthday Party mode.

Maybe there wasn’t anything interesting on the telly in September, seven years ago, six years ago, five years ago…but May and June are birthday boom time.

It’s an arms race.

Some fiend invites a magician. At the next party, somebody else ups the ante by staging the mother of all water balloon fights, but this is soon eclipsed by another mother who rents most of the ground floor of a five star hotel by the river.

Masculine cunning stepped in at the next party. Instead of whistling up clowns and fireworks and a T-72 tank complete with Spetsnaz special forces armed with flame throwers, he filled a cooler box with ice and beer. That worked for me.

The current issue is Nicholas. He’s turning six and his wicked mother has engaged a small mobile zoo specialising in snakes, tarantulas, lizards, very large beetles and frogs. He’s also bringing crocodiles. I don’t think Nick’s Mum has invited Animal Planet, but should they accidentally turn up, they’ll have plenty of footage.

Annabel’s seventh birthday party is set for June 12th. Our neighbour’s children have a zoo.  Snakes, dragon lizards, snapping turtles – it’s pretty impressive, particularly when they escape. I’d been planning to use them as an Annabel party hook. But I’ve been gazzumped! Nick’s crocs are going to make me look sadly unimaginative.

My wife caught me making a rather furtive call to “The Amazing Mr. T” or “G”. I forget. I was arranging a tiger. He’s got one.

My wife is a woman (thankfully) and has a brain rather than a penis. Somewhat curtly, but wisely, she told me that bringing a tiger into the living room was a really stupid idea. Having been issued with a penis, as opposed to a brain, I attempted a few thoroughly un-convincing lies. “He’s cheap!”

“How much?”

“Well, OK, not very cheap. Really expensive, actually. 7,000 baht.”

“Have you booked him?”

“No. Not really. OK. Yes. I booked him a little bit.”

“Unbook him!”

“Yes, OK. Silly idea.”

At the Sunday market I had a GREAT IDEA! There was a withered little creature selling blobs of slime that explode, adhere to faces, walls – we’ll have a slime throwing party I decided!

The party began as soon as we got home. I wasn’t looking. Annabel is gorgeous but impetuous. She showed the slime balls to the local kids and it was slime slinging city.

If you plan a slime ball throwing party, bear this helpful fact in mind – they aren’t very durable.  

After exploding in a kid’s face twenty times they finally give up. And burst for real.   

After checking stock, I realised that almost all of our slime balls had been destroyed.


Bangkok Curfew Over

May 31, 2010

The Bangkok curfew’s been suspended. Be advised, you can no longer use it as an excuse to stay up all night in Soi Cowboy’s girlie bars. The “sorry I forgot the time and didn’t want to be shot dead by a police marksman so I just had to sit it out” days  are over.

Lousy Speling, Poor Writing

May 31, 2010

It has been pointed out that my last two Blog posts were

1. characterised by lousy spelling – no ‘k’ in garlic, Malema’s called Malema, not Malima etc.

2. badly written. The word ‘bother’ being used to excess.

These are fair points. Sloppy of me. I’d like to apologise for this slipshod approach to posting blogs and will tsake the bother to do better in future!  



Late Night Thoughts on Love

May 30, 2010

Perhaps it is the heat. Or too much garlick. Maybe both!

But this evening I suddenly felt the urge to tell my wife and daughter how much I loved them. A predictable  error. I was immediately enlisted in editing a Mongolian sheep farming  report, I cooked dinner, delivered a massage while telling a bed time story involving werewolves, and my gals took advantage!

It was both a pain in the arse and at the same time it was glorious.

I don’t love many people but the ones I do, I love. It is a very deep thing. Not terribly easy to explain.  Watching Midi and Annabel this evening I felt that I was blessed. I felt that I should put the moment in a bottle. Uncork it in the future and re-enjoy the moment.  Not possible of course!

Here’s my thought. If you love someone, let them know. Praise their beauty, praise the sparkle in their eyes, the grace of their movements, the beauty of their dress…

Love your people.

That’s it for toniight



New Blog Quiz: Is Julius Malima a ????

May 30, 2010

a)  a moron?

b) a complete moron?

c) a total fool?

d) a monstrous national embarrassssssment! While being a moron. And a total fool. All at the same time?

e) an inspirational voice for youth, reconciliation, gratuitous violence against white people and anybody else who disagrees with him?

f) someone who should F off? And die?

g) a very promising young football player who will score lots of goals and make his country proud?

This Blog always offers prizes to competition and quiz winners, but by and large, you actually have to turn up to collect them. We can’t be bothered to go to the post office and last week there was a riot. The post office caught a packet. I won’t bother going there until it stops burning!

Steve Hollier has answered most quizzes correctly, closely followed by my brother, Charles, and his wife Kimmie. This isn’t nepotism. Nobody else bothers to answer this Blog’s quizzes! Come on chaps! Look alive!

All Blog prize winners have won fabulous beach holidays in Thailand. If they bother to come and collect them. They haven’t yet but the beaches are there and the prizes still stand.

The Malima quiz prize is not as exciting, I regret to say. The winner gets a pig woven out of ship’s rope.

And the quiz competition is tough! We don’t give Malima pigs away lightly!

In addition to getting the questions right you also have to submit 200 words on “What I would do to Malima if I caught him raiding my larder, talking nonsense,  and leaving muddy foot prints on my floor while meddling with my cleaner and trying to force my daughter into a multi-partner Zulu style sexual relationship while eating hippo meat, drinking too much, dabbling just a little bit with drugs   and making everybody in South Africa hate each other.”

Two hundred words.

Anybody want our prestigious Malima pig prize? Go for it guys!

We will post you your Malima pig if you win! Fed Ex. That’s a guarantee!



Leone’s Bit: How to Hug a baby Correctly.

May 30, 2010

My thanks again to Leone for this one! In case you were wondering how it should be done …

Instructions for
properly hugging a

1. First,
uh, find a baby

Second, be sure that the object you found
Indeed a baby by
employing classic sniffing

Next you will need to flatten the baby before

beginning the Hugging process.

The ‘paw
Simply slide paws
around baby and prepare for possible

5. Finally,
if a camera is present, you will need to
the difficult and
patented ‘hug, smile, and lean’ so as
Achieve the best photo


Zap Em! Kill a Mozzie Therapy!

May 29, 2010

Guys, this is so good!

Therapy city!

I spent an hour and a half with my mouth wide open this afternoon and couldn’t say a word apart from the occasional “mmphh.” and “eek!”  I was at the dentist. He was good. I hadn’t been flossing and I pretty much got what I deserved. But when I left, I felt the urge to pass on a little pain and suffering.

If you like to talk, which I do, being denied the chance to say anything coherent for 90 minutes is more agonising than a Bangkok Hospital Medical Centre dental drill.

As I mumbled my way up Soi Sooinvijai en route for home with a soggy swollen mouth (not really swollen, just numbed by jabs and feeling swollen) I thought, “I want to inflict pain!  I want someone else to suffer! I want to swing out! Lash out!” And other negative things.

There is a market that opens on weekends behind Bangkok Hospital. Like most Thai markets, food is high on the agenda. People are grilling squid bits on skewers, organising fragrant soups with 30 ingredients in under a minute, broiling really horrible looking sausages, selling tropical fruit (very good) and Thai candy (after my dental visit, no thanks! None of that! More sugar than a Quaker confectioner!).

Instead I bought a mozzie zapper.

It’s roughly the size of a squash racket. The bottom of the handle acts as a torch. A good idea. But not essential. The business end is a mesh of wires fired by electricity that causes any mosquito that touches it to explode. Fizzle! Crack! End of blood sucking and whining by people’s ears! ZAPPP!!!

I’m thoroughly used to Chinese devices breaking after one or two minutes. Annabel’s latest Chinese bike is destined for the dump tomorrow bringing the total to four deficient badly built bicycles in less than three months. Come on China! Get a grip! Quality not quantity!

My zapper was Taiwanese. And it worked! None of this mainland China slave labour! Quality control! I activated the device, swung it nonchalantly around my ankles and 32 mozzies exploded! In a minute.

The beauty of this beast is that you can target your assailants. If a moth comes fluttering in, you need do nothing. Let it be! If the bugs are coming for blood zap em!

I hate the indiscriminate insect killers that you find by many motels, hotels and restaurants. They zap everything. Morally I find that unclean. Ecologically it is stupid. A lot of bugs that you zap could be zapping other unwelcome bugs for you.

But this head to head zapper? Yes! I’m on for it!

The mozzie isn’t dropping in to say hi. It’s coming to ruin your evening. Bother your ear with peevish whining.  Give you malaria. Fizz around and be a damned nuisance.

Zapping them’s therapeutic.  There are risks. Annabel while on a crusade to rid Thai Village of mozzies zapped herself. No real harm done.  After a rather wild swing I think I’ve just electrocuted one of my orchids. And despite the body count, I’ve just been bitten by a mosquito. But I think I’m winning!

I’m certainly having fun!



Brigitte’s Pick: Creative AT&T ads

May 28, 2010

Here is more clever and creative artwork sent through by Brigitte. She has an eye for the good stuff!

Thanks again, Brigitte!

Captain Bethune on Trial for Attempting a Citizen’s Arrest

May 28, 2010

The Japanese are charging one of the Sea Shepherd skippers after he boarded a whaler intending to make a citizen’s arrest on attempted murder charges.

Sea Shepherd News

Wednesday, May 26, 2010
Update: Captain Pete Bethune’s Trial Starts Today

The criminal trial against Sea Shepherd Conservation Society volunteer Captain Pete Bethune began in Tokyo on May 27. Captain Bethune was arrested in March and remains in maximum-security detention in Tokyo. He was detained after boarding the Japanese whaling vessel Shonan Maru 2 in February to protest the sinking of Sea Shepherd’s vessel Ady Gil (which he captained) as well as Japan’s illegal whaling operations. He faces several charges, including trespassing and property damage.

Contrary to the many inaccurate media reports currently circulating, Captain Bethune has not pled “guilty” to the charges he’s currently facing. If that were the case, there would be no need for a trial. While it is true that Captain Bethune concedes many of the facts related to his charges (such as boarding the Shonan Maru 2 which are of public record), this is not the same as admitting “guilt.” Japan does not do “pleas” in the way U.S. criminal law operates.

Captain Bethune boarded the Shonan Maru 2 to present the captain of that vessel with a three million dollar invoice for damages arising from the Shonan Maru 2’s destruction of the vessel Ady Gil. Bethune also boarded the vessel in an effort to stop it from slaughtering more whales, and his actions did cause the Shonan Maru 2 to prematurely withdraw from the illegal whaling operation in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary.

Sea Shepherd’s Seattle-based law firm, Harris & Moure, will have two of its lawyers in Tokyo during the trial both to assist Bethune’s Japanese defense team and to explain Sea Shepherd’s position regarding the trial and Japan’s illegal whaling operations. Harris & Moure’s Managing Partner, Dan Harris, will be available in Tokyo for media questions beginning on May 26 and throughout the trial.

Steve Dickinson, who heads Harris & Moure’s Asia practice out of Qingdao, China, will be at the trial both as a translator and as a liaison to Sea Shepherd in the United States. Mr. Dickinson began his legal career with a prominent Tokyo law firm and is fluent in Japanese.

Namibia Cheetahs: Cheetah Conservation Fund

May 28, 2010

I suspect that I have posted this one before. But I’m not sure. My beloved daughter, Annabel (6), is teaching herself to use my computer when I’m not looking. The results have been devastating. She has, to date, taught herself how to delete files, rearrange everything, terminate my wireless link, and with her deft and nimble little fingers has wrought havoc. The deeply disturbing  thing is that she is extremely competent (while being extremely incompetent). It is a recipe for apocalypse should she ever start fiddling with First Strike nuclear technology, or defect to North Korea to offer her expertise.

Anyway, you aren’t here to read about me moaning about my daughter’s inadvertent computer sabotage. You are presumably interested in Namibian Cheetahs. If you aren’t I’d suggest a glance at the Princess and Erotic Catfish post.

Hey ho! Let’s go! Cheetahs!



Cheetah full portrait

The CCF Promote Stock Protection and Coexistence In Namibian Cheetah Country

Four times larger than Great Britain, with vast swathes of savannah and a human population that barely exceeds that of Greater Manchester, Namibia is cheetah country.

It might not have been.

Cheetahs are built for speed. Huge lungs and heart, wiry body, aerodynamic skulls (without wishing to cause offence, this evolutionary trick has diminished brain size), long tails that they use as rudders for rapid changes in direction – and when they get going, wow! 0 to 112 kph in three seconds!

But this acceleration comes at a price. Cheetahs are lightweights. Lions, notorious for their lazy habits – males often spend 23 hours a day dozing – watch the race with interest then saunter over to steal the prize. Hyenas, which can smell blood  seven kilometres away,  leopards, vultures, all and sundry with a carnivorous streak keep wait for a cheetah kill and move in.

This is why Namibia’s cheetahs have moved out.

Only 10 percent of the population now live in the national parks (which incidentally cover a larger area than any other African country and constitute the eighth largest protected area in the world). The rest are mainly on ranch land, free of heavyweight scavenger competition, but home to – ouch!- lambs, goats, and cows with plump free range calves capable of reaching 0-1 kph in 3 seconds. On a good day.  No contest.

Livestock farmers responded by shooting and trapping cheetahs. In the 1980s alone, half the Namibian population was killed. But change, pioneered by the Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF), is very much in the air and the current buzzwords here are ‘ecotourism’ and ‘co-existence’.

Laurie Marker, CCF director, has recruited some unusual allies in her peace keeping force. Donkeys, for example. If raised from birth with sheep, a donkey considers itself one of the flock. A very protective member of the flock! Cheetahs instinctively avoid conflict and a charging donkey has them on the run in, yes, you’re ahead of me on this one, 0 to 112 kph in three seconds.

Turkey also chips in, in the form of Anatolian shepherd dogs. Used for thousands of years by Turkish herders to discourage wolves they are ideally adapted for Namibia’s arid environment – short haired, heat resistant and big. Marker breeds them, trains them and distributes them to farmers. Due to dog and donkey, stock losses on host farms have dropped by 80%. The guns are becoming silent, tourist cameras are clicking. It was a race against time and old attitudes. But with a little help from their friends it is now a race the cheetahs are winning.

NOTE: If you want to go nose to nose with a cheetah the CCF’s centre is located 44 kms east of Otjiwarongo. There is an excellent interpretive museum, picnic spot, and a compound that holds cheetahs that have been trapped by farmers, or have been injured or orphaned. Marker picks them up and releases them in more cheetah friendly environs. There is also a genetics lab and volunteers are welcomed.

profileThe CCF has a fine web site.

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