Concretia Dementia across the globe


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grotto of the redemption

A man named Luang Pu Bunleua Sulilat built bizarre sculpture parks on both sides of the Mekong River, near Vientiane, Laos and Nong Khai, Thailand. In doing this, he was obviously reacting to a compulsion that affects many aging men. In Iowa we have the Grotto of the Redemption near West Bend, Iowa where Father Paul Dobberstein showed the same non-stop enthusiasm and determination to stick stuff together that normally doesn’t belong.

On a smaller scale, you see these things all the time, usually shrines to the local Virgin Mary apparition in people’s back yards, or statues of Buddha of hill tops or in caves. I don’t think there’s a cave in Thailand that doesn’t have several statues of Buddha inside.

The desire to build these probably stems from ever increasing intimations of mortality that prod the builder to leave a legacy. Young men sow oats, old men build sculpture gardens.

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A New Place to Swim Nearby


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I found a reservoir that’s past the swimming pool I usually go to. It’s about six miles from town. Costs sixty cents to enter, you can buy lunch for less than two dollars including drink. There are little huts along the beach. The mountain in the background in Doi Sukhet. The reservoir is called Hueay Tueng Tao.

The water seems clean enough, and during the week the place is abandoned. Weekends, it’s full of Thai families, but few people swim. The only Thai I talked to about it said it has a reputation of being dangerous. I guess it would be if you couldn’t swim.

My swimming pool, an Olympic sized 50 meter pool at the 700 year stadium puts copper sulfate in the water to control algae. I began to notice that my white beard was developing a blue-green tint. Then I saw an old man at the pool one day and his white hair was strikingly blue-green. He said his hair cutter asked him if he dyed his hair. He replied “I don’t have to. The swimming pool already does a good job of it.”

So this natural body of water may be a delightful alternative, and is only a mile or two farther down the Canal road.

There is a road towards the mountain that becomes an entrance into the Doi Sukhet National Park. I tried taking my motor scooter up the mud road, but soon decided this was a really bad idea and came back down. Even a real off-road dirt bike would have a hard time of it.

Finally Eating the Right Stuff


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If you took the contents of a typical American supermarket and distilled it down to its essential ingredients, you’d end up with a pond-sized pool of corn sweeteners, a pile of starch, a pile of sugar, another of salt, and a mound of flour. The rest would mainly be brightly painted cardboard.

Here in Thailand, fresh fruits and vegetables are cheap and abundant. If I go to the market, I can buy enough to eat healthy for a week and spend only about fifteen dollars. Unfortunately for the local populace, they’re sick of healthy fruits and vegetables and are instead lured by the siren call of advertising to eat at KFC and Donutland. Obesity, diabetes and other disorders related to eating sugar and flour are affecting many Thai children, who by puberty are twice the size of their parents.

I’m trying to change my life for the better, so I’m starting with what I eat and eliminating Coca-Cola. Something seems to be working, because lately my pants are too big for me, and I have to tighten my belt to keep them up.