Whistling in the Dark


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12764456_10154018288953993_5512391176604870963_oArrogance can be cute in children but appears decidedly less so in adults. Presumption born of inexperience is understandable. There are situations when humans are operating in the dark and forced to simply make stuff up in order to cope. These situations may be more common than we would care to admit.

The thirteen Thai boys who were trapped in the cave sat in the dark for over a week until suddenly, and from their perspective, unexpectedly an Englishman in a scuba outfit surfaced, shone a flashlight into their faces and asked “is everyone all right?” They assured him they were all OK. He said “Help is on the way” and went back where he came from.

Naturally the boys talked among themselves, and hatched a plan. The first boy they would send out would be the strongest of the group. He would be best able to quickly ride his…

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Blogs About Blogs


retirecheaply

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These are tough days to try to make it in the creative arts. Most people don’t value content, much less content creation or its creators. They value gizmos, apps, things that do something clever. An app that compares your shoe size to the outside temperature and hair color and then tells you your horoscope. Write that code and maybe you’ll attract venture capital. Wrangle that algorithm and maybe you’ll get bought out, so you can start work on your memoirs.

Writing. What’s writing? Isn’t writing that horrible school assignment where you had to go to the library and do research and then you copied a bunch of crap out of some books and tried to change it a little and then you got your paper back all marked up with grammatical and stylistic errors. We hate writing. Writing is something done by others that you highlight, copy and paste, but…

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Communalism vs. Rugged Individualism


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I saw a picture again today on Facebook that really bugs me. It’s a picture of an American soldier crawling through a Vietnamese tunnel in search of people to kill. He’s holding a flashlight in one hand an a pistol in the other. The picture was meant to inspire Americans about bravery of our troops who would crawl through such little spaces at such great risk.

Having visited Vietnam multiple times now that I’m just a few hundred miles away from the country, the picture seems more absurd than ever. Why were we crawling around in their tunnels looking for people to kill? They didn’t come to our country to do the same. When I posted that on Facebook, somebody responded “he’s looking for enemy combatants.” I thought about saying “you mean he’s looking for people who are willing to die to rid their land of invaders.”

I’ve been living…

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Tube Junkie


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For as long as I can remember I have been a sucker for electronic gadgets. I was about nine when the transistor was invented. Before then, everything used tubes. The local dime store had a tube testing machine, and I found that I could collect old radio and televisions from the neighbors that no longer worked and find out which tubes were burnt out. Even though I couldn’t buy the replacement tubes, I could tell someone else how to fix the set.

We also had an X ray machine at the local shoe store that allowed you to see the bones in your feet. The salesmen would chase me away when they found me playing with it.

In the sixties, everything electronic began to change rapidly. Printed circuit boards containing semi-conductors don’t have the same panache that wires and tubes had. I began to lose interest. The more I learned…

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Inspiration or Compulsion?


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Do nothing. Be sure to rest afterwards.

Sometimes the hardest thing to do is nothing at all. It’s often more difficult to sit still than to run around in a flurry of activity. If you do manage to stop all activity, a loud voice will enter your head and chastise you for being lazy, a loser, a washout. If you can resist that voice, then you might surprise yourself with inner peace and an occasional unanticipated inspiration.

I’ve considered myself a writer for almost fifty years now, and in the times I’ve lived with women, especially when there were small children around, I’ve never been able to convince a woman that sitting in front of a keyboard and staring off into space is “writing.” To them, writing was pecking away at the keys.

A typewriter made a lot more noise than a computer keyboard, and so the act of writing…

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The Bully in the Schoolyard


Endure and thrive

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When you have a group of five thirteen-year old boys, they have a collective mental age of about eight. The larger the group, the lower the mental age. They have the same ability to discern right from wrong, appropriate from inappropriate as someone five years younger than their physical age.

I was just watching a group of such boys playing at the swimming pool and they kept getting into my lane, but I realized that none of them could be reasoned with, because they didn’t know why they were doing what they were doing. They were simply following the group. When a group of boys lights a homeless person on fire, and you ask them individually why they did it, they will say “because Joe said it was a good idea.” And if you then ask “why didn’t you object?” they’ll say, “I don’t know. Seemed like a good idea…

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Secret Scenic Motorcycle Route


It’s not as well known as the Mae Hong Son loop, or the Samoeng Loop, but it’s a real beauty. In fact, almost nobody knows about it.  A winding Highway 1346 that runs straight south from almost Fang to Phrao. Oh my. I’d done it once before a few years ago, and sort of remembered some of it. Today I took the big bike, and managed to drop it twice while stopping to take photos. Was unable to right it by myself, and had to have the help of people who stopped just to do that.

The turning radius is a lot longer than I’m used to on the scooter, the bike is much taller and heavier, and the boxes on the side make it hard to stand it up. It’s sort of like trying to get a horse to stand up that can’t bend it’s legs.  With the saddle boxes on the side, the wheels are sticking straight out and you can’t get under the bike and close to the wheels to right it. At least I couldn’t. I’m not as nimble or as strong as I used to be

There were two police traffic stops on the one-hour right, to catch methamphetamine being transported from the Burma border. The Burmese army makes it, then gets impoverished hill-tribe people to risk their lives driving it down to Chiang Mai and Bangkok. Every week in the papers there are stories of shootouts with police and army, and trucks stopping with little men running off into the forest. Then they confiscate two million more methamphetamine tablets. Maybe it’s like in America, where the mice eat the marijuana in police custody. Maybe those tablets just magically find their way back into circulation.

The other unknown beauty road within a few hours of Chiang Mai is the road from Chiang Dao to Wiang Pa Pao. It meets the above mentioned road in Phrao.

 

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