Archive for January, 2009
It was with some surprise that I realised today that it is almost five years since I swapped the life of sitting around in front of a computer in an office, drinking coffee and “earning” obscene amounts of cash, for a life of sitting around in front of a computer in my condo, drinking coffee and receiving obscenely small amounts of cash, laughably called a pension. Of course, the great thing about not working is that I can choose when to sit in front of the computer, or alternatively I can go windsurfing, or play computer games, or take photographs, or pretty much do whatever I want with my life. And I wouldn’t swap that freedom to go back to the sitting in the office crap, even for obscene amounts of cash, plus an obscene bonus.
I am reminded of this anniversary by a mail stating:
A recent document has been added under the communications section of your online holding. Please login using your Global ID and Pin. This document contains information of the imminent lapse of share options.
Share Plan Administrators for that crappy company you used to work for
The purpose of the mail was to inform me that it was now five years since I left the company, and my remaining share options were about to lapse. And lapse they will, given that the current price is some three pounds less than when they were awarded. Proof, if any were needed, that the company has gone to shit since I left it in the less than capable hands of Billy, Camberley and 100,000 or so others. Shame on you.
The share option thingie was a relatively recent innovation for the lower ranks of the company such as myself. The boss would call you in and tell you it had been a challenging year (i.e. you were crap) and that you were being given a salary rise and bonus commensurate with your performance (i.e. not a lot). Oh, and as an afterthought, here are some share options which may be worth something if you hang around long enough. Quite frankly they were filed and forgotten; so it was quite a surprise a couple of years ago to realise I could cash some in and buy my lovely Civic 2.0 litre (R.I.P.).
But not so the remaining allotment which will now lapse and thus sever my remaining links with my previous employing company, apart from the pathetic pension.
She who must be obeyed has decided to change the insurance company for her car. Her current company will not be sad to see her go. She has had two claims in as many years, both resulting from her enthusiastically stuffing her car into the back of another because “there was not enough space to brake in time”, said in such a manner so as to blame the space for not being big enough.
But she has not finished with them yet. Examining her car, she has discovered a number of minor scrapes, scratches and dents, all of which she is lumped together and made a claim for repairs, which amazingly the insurance company has accepted, and the car goes in for a respray next month.
Today she checked her car in for a service and was shocked when Honda called her and told her the radiator would have to be replaced at a cost of 7,000 baht. When she enquired as to why it had to be replaced, they said that something on the road must have hit it and caused the damage. The eyes sparkled and within minutes she was on the phone to the insurance company and the, by now weary, assessor has been asked to present himself at Honda tomorrow to agree to pay for the replacement radiator.
The wonderful thing about car insurance in Thailand is that you don’t have to declare previous claims. The premium is the same if you have driven incident free for fifty years or, like she who must be obeyed, you slap in claims on an almost weekly basis. Ashtray full, claim for a new one.
How’s my back doing, I hear you ask (and if I don’t hear you ask, where’s your compassion? This is not just a blog, this is a relationship)? Not so good, but thanks for asking.
Three weeks since the removal of the back brace and my back is hurting as much as it did when the brace first came off, if not more so. This is not good and something must be done. Feels like the damn thing is seized up, which is hardly surprising given it was clamped in one position for three months. But maybe there is something wrong with the bone, maybe a disk is buggered, no end of unpleasant scenarios you can imagine when you don’t have any answers.
Then yesterday, Amara owner of the best watersports club in Thailand (or probably The Universe), told me that she had just been to her physio who had cured her of a stiff neck. This same physio looks after the aches and pains of the Thai windsurfing team, so she seemed worthy of a visit.
Down Sukhumvit to the strangely named Good Point Clinic and a meeting with Dr. Pinkul, a cheerful lady who spoke excellent English and was pleased to tell me that part of her training in Bangkok had involved cutting up cadavers to inspect all the muscles. Nice.
Ten minutes of checking me out and she told me that my vertebrae were not rotating as they should and that my spine, instead of being curved at the base as it should be, was locked straight. In short, as I had expected, I was seized up.
I wondered briefly why my bone doctor had not advised me that I would need physio once the brace came off, but of course he was only concerned that the bone was fixed. The muscles were not his problem, or maybe more importantly, he could not make any money from resolving the problem.
Anyway, Dr. Pinkul was quite sure she could fix me up and first it was fifteen minutes lying on a very hot blanket. Once my back was nicely cooked she turned me over and started massaging to release the muscles. This was occasionally painful, but often pleasant as I felt muscles coming free and stretching. Finally, there was a dose of ultrasound to reach the areas deeper inside.
She who must be obeyed came along and had a session to work on her frequently aching back. The charge for more than an hour of therapy is 500 baht which is great value, especially when Dr. Pinkul really seems to know her stuff.
I walked away feeling more flexible than I did when I walked in, which counts as progress. Of course this morning the impact of the massage has set in and my back felt like it had been beaten up by a gang of midgets with many sore spots. But I did the stretching exercises she gave me and I definitely have more movement than I did.
If you need a physio in Pattaya, Dr. Pinkul is the one to see.
And the answer? She who must be obeyed has obtained a credit card.
For some weeks she has been collecting brochures and scanning the wide wide world of web for information on credit card offerings. A spreadsheet was constructed showing the aspects of each card. It was not clear whether she was trying to identify the card with the best financial offerings, or the most gullible bank, likely to provide her with a card with which to raid the new Central Mall with little thought to the repayment consequences.
Anyway, one of the banks took pity, and her shiny piece of plastic is on the way. This is good news because it will take the weight off the load on the credit card I gave her “for emergencies”, emergencies which transpired to be mainly handbags bought from eBay. To be fair to her, she has always reimbursed me for such items; but having her own card will make the whole process of bag acquisition easier.
So, crisis over. She who must be obeyed will be boosting sales figures at major outlets across the Kingdom. Hope she can do something about the Sterling exchange rate too.
If you are prepared to “invest” a couple of thousand dollars on a decent lens for your camera, you might expect that the manufacturer would have invested some time in ensuring that the lens was calibrated to a certain standard. Not so when it comes to Canon (or Nikon). The lens may well be “within acceptable tolerances”, but if it is of the type which provides a depth of field of a couple of millimetres at certain settings, then the acceptable tolerances may not prove to be acceptable. If you are focusing on the beautiful eyes of a beautiful lady, and what you get is blurry eyes and a sharp nose, then you tend to get pissed off; as does the beautiful lady, and you should never upset a beautiful lady.
One solution is to take the camera and lens back to Canon (or Nikon, or whoever) and say “calibrate this my man” (or woman or ladyboy, depending on who is serving you). The other solution, if your camera supports it, is to calibrate the lens with the camera by changing some settings. Very useful feature and one I have employed on all my lenses, none of which were completely accurate.
To carry out the calibration, you need something to focus on, and an indicator which shows the amount of front or back focus. I made such a device myself out of cardboard, paper, and a design from the wide, wide world of web. If I was asked to summarise the overall quality, accuracy and robustness of the device, I would say it was rubbish.
It’s difficult to set up with the focus plane vertical, especially as it has been warped with use, misuse and being jumped on by cats. The guide ruler is hard to read and gives different answers on the left to those on the right. But it’s better than nothing. Just
But now there is something better. A clever chap by the name of Michael Tapes has produced a commercial product that is not stuck together with glue and tape, but has magnets and sight holes and is tested with lasers before dispatch (apparently). But it costs considerably more than the 10 baht and an hour of labour the first version cost me. And it’s a device that I would use rarely. In these troubled times it’s impossible to justify such significant expenditure on such a trivial item.
But I have never let common sense interfere with gadget lust, so I picked up my LensAlign Pro from the Post Office this morning.
Now I need to buy some new lenses so I can calibrate them and justify the expense of the LensAlign. Consumerism, it’s such a curse.
Jimmy’s stunt offering for this month involved a container of petrol and a wheelie.
First step was for Graham to pour out a line of petrol and then light it:
Unfortunately, his lighter was broken….
A fresh, working, lighter was acquired. There then followed an impromptu rendition of the “oh shit, I think I am about to set myself on fire” dance:
An impressive wall of flame and smoke resulted, through which a coughing Jimmy came through in full wheelie mode. He is truly insane.
Another day at Bira shooting racing bikes, and the photogenic Khun Narin. We do the usual shots with her clambering next to trees:
Then, for a change, she stood next to the track and played havoc with the racing lines of the bikes:
You may be concerned that she was standing in a position that would be considered dangerous at any well administered race track, and you would be right. But don’t worry, I was standing much further back and was in no danger.
She who must be obeyed calls me to tell me that there is a partial solar eclipse this afternoon and that under no circumstances must I try and look into the sun.
Looking into the afternoon sun is not something I normally do, but once she had called me to tell me there was an eclipse, and that I shouldn’t look at it; well, I just had to look at it.
With the camera set at the fastest speed and minimum light, and darkening filter on the front, I managed to get a snap of the very partial, and rapidly diminishing, eclipse.
As the sun started to sink and became more amenable to photography, and the prospect of a sunset with assorted fishing boats became feasible, the eclipse had all but gone. Most frustrating. Apparently I have to go to India in July to witness a full eclipse.
Some time ago I was sitting in Starbucks in Bangkok, coffee in one hand, camera in the other. I saw an interesting arrangements of mugs on a shelf and stood up to take a photo. Immediately, a concerned employee rushed over and told me I could not take photos in the cafe, and pointed out the stickers on the door highlighting “no photos”, “no dogs”, “no food from outside” etc etc. I understand, I said. Sorry, I said. I got the shot anyway, I didn’t say.
Today I took she who must be obeyed for her Sunday coffee at the Starbucks in The Avenue. We sat by the window, slurping happily, when a woman and her daughter walked past, each carrying a particularly scruffy poodle. Then they pushed open the door (carrying the “no photos”, “no dogs”, “no food from outside” stickers), and walked into the cafe, smelly dogs cradled in their arms.
It was a “what the fuck?” moment.
Then they walked up to the counter and placed the smelly, scruffy poodles on the counter so they could order their drinks in comfort.
It was another “what the fuck?” moment. Only louder.
It should also have been a “jump up and snap a picture, and then fervently pray the staff would tell me that I couldn’t take photos” moment. But that didn’t happen, I just sat there gobsmacked as the staff not only failed to eject the mutts and their handlers, but I could swear that one of them actually leaned across and stroked one of the dogs.
Starbucks, The Avenue. Don’t worry about that curly hair in your coffee, it’s from a poodle. But no photos please.