Thursday, January 27, 2005

An answer to a question

CelticCross put this question in my direction on her blog

"I am struggling to understand the mounting conflicts that are going on between the USA (or, would Christians be more like it?) and the Muslim world. What are we trying to accomplish, exactly? CAN we accomplish our objective? What do THEY want (besides all non-muslims' to be dead)? Will this ever end?"

Kill off all the cranky people? Just kidding (sorta)

It has to do with perceptions and how people perceive each other. Just because someone looks different, acts different, or doesn't believe the same things as you, doesn't give you the right to attack or kill them. It's a downward spiral, one person kills another and it escalates from there. The way to make peace is to change the way that people think. I agree with you, going to war to correct a wrong isn't the best way to do something unless you have everything planned out including the resolution. Which is an impossible pipe dream, theoretically it can be done but you can't measure in the human factors involved. Specially in a culture we're working with in the middle east, where it's considered good to give up your life for a cause and if someone pisses you off you kill him and his family as an example, what kind of people do these things to each other? They make everything personal and yet the bad guys seem to have no value for human life. As I've said before, it would be bad to pull out, there are people there that want peace. If we leave, they'll be slaughtered, like the people we left in Vietnam, there must be a reason there are one and a half million boat people over here. I'm a peaceful fun loving guy and don't think war is the answer to anything but bringing everybody home at this stage would cause much harm.

I'm not going to get on the subject of the budget, that scares me! It's huge and I don't see any answers coming out about it.

There are not right answers, just how we perceive what we're doing. There are many wrong ones which we won't know about till later. Are we on the right track? It's a mystery.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Remember these Marines and Sailor in your prayers

This hits very very close to home, keep the families and the Marines that they left behind in your prayers and thoughts. I haven't left yet but this definitely isn't the way to start off a good trip. It's too early to know what happened and this would not be the forum to speculate about it. It's just a tragedy and leave it as that.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

day at the range

The range here at Mira Mar is a definite improvement over the one that we used at Barstow, nice heated office behind the firing line, green hills over looking everything and a computerized scoring system. It's the lap of luxury compared to what I'm used to.

I'm the medical coverage at the range today, the corpsman that was supposed to cover it has an inspection next week and could use the time getting his records ready. Since my unit isn't here and most of my work is just busy work, I don't mind covering it. I came in wearing cold weather gear expecting the usual. You know, wind, dust, cold and instead I'm in a calm balmy office with a big window! Nice.

My other half drove home this morning, had a great two weeks exploring San Diego with her. I'm sure my nieces are going to miss her, not as much as me. Drive safe hun and I can't wait till we see each other again.

My gear is packed and I'm ready to go, just waiting for my flight out. From my take of my duties this time out, it should be a calmer trip. I'll be ready for anything though. Never assume.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Scrabble and future plans

Tragic is teaching the nephews and nieces to play scrabble, so this gives me a few minutes to blog. She's a hit, never doubted it for a second. I'm slowly washing and packing all of my military gear, glad I left most of it packed when I loaded up.

My first week at work went eerily smooth, nice bunch of folk (yes they know about the blog). I have a departure date which I'm not going to share but it's soon. One day you'll come by and catch me blogging from the middle of a war zone. As far as sending me care packages, don't worry about it, I'm only going for a month and a half and believe me I'm fine. There many more people out there that could use your support. If you feel like giving, check out the military support sites on the sidebar. I'm have a great set of gear and I'm easy with the trip.

Future plans? We're going out to dinner with Belly tomorrow, she's out of the naval reserve. Look forward to seeing her and her boyfriend. Beyond that? Interesting stuff:) Have some good news that I'll play close to my chest till it comes through.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Big media lies!

and so did all of my friends and family that I talked to or emailed while in Thailand! All I heard while on vacation was how horrible it was back here in the states. Stories like it's raining/sleeting/snowing/flooding/house washed away/ect. I think it was a conspiracy to make me feel guilty while I was having a good time overseas. I get back and it's 80 degrees and not a cloud in sight! Like I'm going believe you all next time you preach doom in my direction, unless comes out of Doombunny's mouth, it's not going to work!

Anyhow, back to current life. Checked into my new command in San Diego, everybody so far has been friendly, no snags and will be heading forward sometime in the near future. I miss the guys from my old unit but I'm glad to be back on the active duty side.

Hanging out with Tragic and seeing everything down here that I haven't. Life is good.

PS I to everyone that asked, I'm fine, haven't been washed away by huge waves or caught the bird flu.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Touring the National Parks

We're going on a whorl wind tour of all the National Parks, today we went to Pha Taem national Park with is on the boarder of Laos across the Mekong River. The bottom of one of the cliffs there's a bunch of prehistoric paintings dated between 1000 and 3000 BC. My uncle Dek and I went on the 3 mile or so walk along the base of the cliff where the paintings are. I'm wearing the guy out, he's been my almost constant companion on most all of my adventures except for yesterday when it was my cousins Thomb and Bank (they were in school today).

Thomb is 16 and Bank 12. Yesterday we went to the Khao Phra National Park which is home the ruins of Prasat Khao Phra Wihan, a Buddhist temple. I would tell you how old it is but I can't read Thai. It's pretty old though.

That National park is on the boarder to Cambodia and you need to go across the boarder to reach the temple, there's a checkpoint (hopefully this wasn't an off limits area for US Military personal and I'm posting about it!). Along the side of the path, it's fenced off with rope and danger signs for mines all over. Eep! To get to the temple you have to walk up these tiers of steps that keep going and going and going, My mom, Albert, my uncle Sing and aunt Ting, pooped out early so my uncle Dek, another aunt , cousins Thomb and Bank started up. After we got through the first couple sets of ruins Dek and my other aunt said go ahead because they were tired. So it was just my cousins and I all the way to the top. Took many pictures of the ruins which were really cool, you might recognize the place from the Tomb Raider movie. I'll soon be posting pictures soon. Also bought a bunch of souvenirs (yes Won, you're now the owner of a cool Buddha), supporting the local economy at least.

My aunt Dang has given me her spare cell phone (secret idea from my mom to keep tabs on me because I'm always wondering off to take pictures of something) The cell phones out here are pay as you go types, so far it costs about 10 cents a minute to call back to the states, not too bad. What I've been hearing from everybody back home is that it's cold and rainy or snowy everywhere. Hopefully it will stop by the time I get there, fingers crossed! I feel bad talking about having such a good time while just about everybody I know is cold, wet and shivering. Some crazy weather going on right now, it's drier here then I've ever seen it, the Mekong river looks like regular river instead of the moving lake I normally see and there's a lot brown. The humidity is lower then I ever remember it, it's like Arizona humidy, usually I'm drenched in sweat. I'm not complaining though! It's sunny warm and dry, better then I could have expected it to be. Someone asked a question about how the Thai people are dealing with the tsunami, if you look on a map, it's in the southern most region of Thailand. A vast majorities of Thai's have never even been that far south, it's a long drive to get down there, mostly tourists. I wish I could go and help, one of my cousins is down there right now helping out in the relief effort. Other then red cross donation boxes at the stores and what appears in Thai newspapers, I haven't really seen that much of an affect it has on day to day life.

My mom the Real Estate baroness is looking into buying a house on the beach (not the one hit by the tsunami). Maybe next time out here I won't have to stay at a hotel when I head down that direction. See ya all in a few then it's off to Iraq.

Big Mountain, another Thailand post

Khao Yai (which translates into Big Mountain according to my mom) National Park is located on the Panom Dograk mountain range. We spent two days in one of the rental cabins that are for rent, two nights for 2400 baht, which is comes out to be a little over 60 dollars. This got us a 2 bedroom cabin with 2 showers and 4 single beds. Pretty basic but a better deal then you could get in the states.

Made one trip down to a local town during our time there shopping and the rest of the time hiking and sightseeing (taking pictures, be posting soon). Saw more monkeys, porcupines, several species of deer, many birds and a few elephants. Nice little side trip.

First night we went out on a wildlife spotlighting safari, took a few pictures but the quality wasn't that good because most of the animals were too far away and I was using a 300mm zoom lens in the dark. Second night we were wore out from hiking so opted to stay at the cabin. Saw more wildlife doing that then spotlighting and the pictures turned out better.

Packed up the next morning to head out to my mom's house in northern Thailand and our van wouldn't start! Had to push start it, reminded me of my chevette in high school. 6 hours later, we're here, safe and sound. Some scary driving on these back roads. If you're ever in the northern part of Thailand, be careful the roads get bumpy and the driving crazier. I think I'll just take a nap, I've been through some scary experiences flying helicopters but still think I'm going to die driving. More interesting stuff to do tomorrow, stay tuned.

Saturday, January 08, 2005

Next Thailand Post

A couple of days ago, we were in the Chon Buri province (if I get the names and places wrong, it's because I can't read Thai). First stop was to see carved Buddha image of Khao Chee Chan (I'll post pictures of it and everything else soon on the fotopage). It's carved into the side of a mountain and measures 130 meters high by 70 meters wide and was built to commemorate the 50th anniversary of His Majesty the King ascending the throne.

Next stop was Wat Yanasangvararam Area Development Project. Where we went to the Anek Kusala Sala (Viharnre Sien), which means "abode of the gods" It's a museum that houses some of the great Thai-Chinese works of art. The main theme behind the museum is of the historical relationship between that is shared between the Thai and Chinese, how everything intertwined due to their shared belief in Buddhism. The Chinese Buddhist emigrants came to Thailand seeking a new life under royal protection to practice their religion freely. They brought all of their skills and culture with them and were absorbed as many others are, into the greater Thai whole. The ministry of Culture of the People's Republic of China has donated 328 antiques and art objects to the Anack-Kusala Sala with the provision that they would be put on display for educational purposes. Some amazing things here that I had no clue even existed.

Before coming here I had no idea the amount of history the Thai and Chinese people shared or of what kind of relationship they had. It's interesting to see the view point from inside a country that gets along with China a majority of the time and what they can both accomplish together. The Thai's also have a good relationship with the United States and are a good example of what it's like to actually live the balancing act of being in the middle ground. Of what I can see they're doing it well.

My mom coming to Thailand is like a big vacation for the rest of the family, she's the rich sister from the states that pays for everything if you can put up with her being a bossy cow (all of my life I thought it was just me thinking that but her family has thought that since way before I was born, she's the oldest, I love her but it doesn't change the fact that she's an old school micromanager).

After we got back to the hotel, we went out with my uncle Dik, his wife, Ting, my other uncle Ut his wife Tuk, their two daughters Ew and Ew and son Fuk, my aunt Dang our driver Moo and my mom and step dad, Albert (yes I know their names sound like a bunch of cuss words but that's their real names). My mom bought everyone dinner at a Korean Bar-B-Q place, you pick up raw ingredients and cook them on these little grills they put on your table. It's all you can eat, the meal ended up costing something like 12 bucks altogether. This is where my mom and Albert dropped out of the picture because they were worn out from walking all day.

The rest of us went to a carnival that was passing though town. Damn short people! I could hardly fit in any of the rides! Ew and Ew are 9 and 13 (that's not their full name just the shortened version, they're way cute too) went on the rides with me that I could fit on. Had a ball. My uncle Ut only makes 6800 baht a month, which equals to about a hundred and forty five dollars! I started feeling catholic guilt and started passing out money to them all (and I'm not even catholic!) Just glad I'm in a position that I'm able to help, they're getting by but with 3 kids it's tough and hard to get anything extra, I've spent that much on a dinner before, let alone think about what I've spent on my laptop and camera. I'm actually satisfied with most of what I have, a killer camera, nice computer, many of the cool gadgets that go with both and a sexy girlfriend. Nothing much is really screaming for me to buy except for maybe a new car, that will come. I can afford to pass money their way.

After that we took the kids home and went out to Karaoke bar where I drank enough to sing on stage in front of a bunch of people that don't even speak English. Then it was back home around midnight.

Woke up at 1 AM with that mouth watering feeling that you're about loose your guts and proceeded to do so on the hour or so for the next twelve. Plus the other things that you can normally associate with that. It wasn't from drinking, something I ate didn't agree. Being the medical person that I am, didn't panic and waited it out till I could hold down water. Was back on my feet by that night, a little weaker but cleansed. A day of vacation ruined but at least I wasn't sick the entire time and my mom and Albert had the grace enough to just continue vacationing where we were at without laying on the pity too much. Still don't have my full appetite back and I'm trying to take it easy, not easy when there's a country wide conspiracy to fatten you up. So far that's been the worse part of my trip. Actually the worse I've probably felt in the last year (wanted to die a few moments of that time). Doing better now. Onward to more adventures tomorrow which I'm probably already done by the time you read this. Pictures up soon!

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Live from Thailand

I've posted a set of pictures on my fotopage, have many more to post. I have a nice long blog update but forgot my memory stick at the hotel. Other then a 12 hour run-in with some bad food, doing great. Have to come back more often, my relitives out here are really cool too! Sorry for the mini post but will have much more later. Some neat stuff out here.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

hanging out at the beach

I'm at that unknown beach town now, staying at a hotel on the beach (yes I'm watching to make sure the water level doesn't drop suddenly and made sure to get on the second floor).

Things I did of interest today other then eating my way across the town.

1. went up to this sacred mountain where they have monkeys that eat out of your hand. There's venders up there that sell you little baskets of fruit, bananas, green beans and little red things that look like tomato's. Bought a basket for 10 baht (about a quarter) and proceeded to hand out the food to the monkeys and while taking pictures. Was going well till one of them tried taking the basket. At this time I found out that they don't like cameras and they're stingy bastards. I, being the human that I am pulled the basket back and was greeted with a mouthful of teeth and a slap across the face by a monkey that jumped me! Now I know where monkey fear comes from.

2. Walked 5 or so miles down a beach taking pictures all by my lonesome talking to people here and there and not understanding a word they were saying. Spent 3 hours not even talking to anybody in English. Nice.

3. Was walking back from an internet cafe where I did a brief amount of editing to my last post and saw these red lights going slowly across the sky in the distance. They were the color of flame and I started hearing booms! These lights looked like nothing I had ever seen before; they didn't blink like plane lights and dropped bits of themselves off as they moved across the sky. I was looking around expecting everybody to be looking at the sky and pointing. People glanced in that direction every now and no one looked to be panicking, so I kept walking then realized what they were. They were balloons that were held in the air by burning candles. Sheesh, glad I didn't run in circles screaming "WE'RE BEING INVADED! HEAD FOR THE HILLS" Also during this time I had lost my family (probably due to me walking off for 3 hours). While looking for them down the beach (and watching the light show) I found them looking for me. After a long day it was high time for a beer on the beach so we had beer, odd food and I bought a couple of those balloon thingies and set them off. Yes I'm going to try bringing a few home and no, if you're a friend of mine in Arizona, I'm not bringing you one. They look like quite a fire hazard, only to be launched from the beach out to sea. I don't want to be the one responsible for causing the fire of the century in Prescott.

Take care everyone!

Saturday, January 01, 2005

So far on my trip to Thailand

We took off out of LAX at 11PM on the 30th and next thing I knew it was the 1st in Taipei! Totally missed New Years Eve partying! First New Years Eve where I time traveled past the day! I'm a dork! Thought I was gaining time. My seatmate for the first leg of the flight is going to visit family in Taipei, we've been waking up at the same time complaining to each other about food or drink service. How come they're not bringing more water, beer, juice? I ordered a Bloody Mary a while ago and it was almost undrinkablely strong! I drank it anyway and got a buzz for a few minutes, it's nice being a total lightweight.

Arrived in Bangkok on the 1st and checked into the lovely Royal River Hotel. Immediately took a shower and went shopping. Thailand is a crazy place, roads are better then many I've seen in the states, it's a cross between cutting edge 21st century and a third world country. There's shacks next to high rises, still haven't seen any homeless but there are a few beggers, mostly disabled.

Feeling pretty good, no jet lag so far. Think I'm getting used to this frequent puddle hopping! Now just need to find myself a constant travel companion, now where oh where could she be?

After spending the afternoon grazing through the malls with the family, we came back to the hotel and I went out to dinner with a fellow blogger, Sailom. First dinner in Bangkok and what did I have? Sushi! Nice place, great food and we all drank iced green tea. His wife and another couple were also there. Mostly talked politics and about the tsunami. As I've said before blogging has definitely shrunk the world. Thanks the conservation and taking me out! My mom wants to take you guys out when we pass back through town. I'll call with the info.

Dinner was stag without my parents (they crashed) and made it home by ten where I passed out too.

Tomorrow I'm off to a nameless beach resort (nowhere near Phuket) for a couple of days, will tell you the name after I leave the place (OPSEC!)