Archive for April, 2010
She who must be obeyed frequently expresses a desire to do or obtain something. A second-hand Toyota Camry, a working knowledge of the Spanish language, daily attendance at a yoga class. I have learned that these are just vague yearnings spoken out loud and, if ignored, will disappear to be replaced with some new desire which can also be ignored.
Occasionally, something sticks, and yesterday a recommendation from our physio, which has been bubbling around in the wish list for a month or so, came to fruition as I was manoeuvred into the crap gadget section of Big C and we came home with this:
Of course you know what it is (apart from hideous)? Yes, it’s a steam tent. Our physio says it will be very good at helping SWMBO with her neck and back pain. I say she will use it a couple of times and then it will rot in the back bathroom.
There is the tent thingie, and inside it you place the supplied “herbal sauna pot”.
At least that is what it says on the box. Inside it is a different matter and it is quite clear that what we have here is nothing more than a rice cooker.
It’s the controls that give it away:
Not sure what the difference is between “good” and “OK”.
So you fill the rice cooker with water and some stuff that makes a smell something similar to, but not exactly the same as, herbs; stick it in the tent and then climb in for a steaming session (and a scalded legs session should you accidentally kick the rice cooker and spill some). Then you climb out and have a cold shower, and assuming you have not collapsed with heart failure, you do it all over again.
This seems to me to be exactly the sort of activity I would never, ever want to undertake. Having bought and installed the bloody thing, I don’t see a great deal of enthusiasm from SWMBO either, but I told her she had to get in it to have her photo taken.
For some reason she was concerned that people she knows would recognise her sitting in a stupid steam tent from which no steam was emanating because the rice cooker was set to the combined settings of “Good” and “Off”.
“I need a disguise” she announced, and duly appeared wearing a panda hat and a pair of goggles. Don’t ask me why, these little incidents are what makes living with her a constant source of amusement.
So, Pattaya Days is proud to present: somebody wearing a panda hat and goggles, sat in a non-operational steam tent:
And, just because I know Lloyd will love it, somebody wearing a panda hat and goggles, sat in a non-operational steam tent, using an iPad:
Things continue to go badly in Bangkok, with another death being recorded this afternoon. The reds have also been busy in the provinces; blocking roads, surrounding town halls and generally being a pain in the ass.
Thankfully, things continue to be quiet in Pattaya, with the reds and the ABRs (Anything But Red) taking it in turns to conduct shouting sessions outside city hall. But then it all turned a load more sinister on Jomtien beach road this afternoon.
I was driving back from the windsurfing club, having answered a call from Craig who said “it’s windy. Oh, and why don’t you bring your iPad”. Of course it turned out to be not that windy, but I sold a couple more iPads for that nice Mr. Jobs and was driving home through Jomtien.
I was aware of a mob of people on the left hand side of the road, next to the beach; and then suddenly a man stepped out into the road in front of me, brandishing a large red flag upon which was written the word “STOP” in very decisive lettering. It was a red shirt road block, and I had been stopped.
I was not sure how to react. I could attempt to drive round the man, but I had heard stories of people’s cars being wrecked when they tried to beat the blockade. What was I wearing…? A yellow T-shirt! This could mean trouble. Would they drag me from my car and beat me? Would they scratch the paintwork? Would they want to argue that a Android based tablet was bound to be superior to the iPad? My heart beat faster as I stopped in front of the menacing man with the flag.
Movement from the side of the road and about thirty geriatric Chinese tourists dutifully followed the flag bearer across the road to their hotel. He gave me a cheery wave of thanks. Devious bastard, pretending to be a red shirt thug just to make sure I stopped.
Examine the above. It’s a thirteen year old with a gun. Shocked yet? How about if I tell you that she kills more people than I could count, including slicing off the legs of one victim with a sword, whilst using language peppered with words such as “cunt’ and “motherfucker”.
Appalled? Don’t go and see Kick-Ass. Sounds like fun? It surely is.
Kick-Ass is the bastard love child of Spiderman and Kill Bill. There is the geeky youth who has dreams of being a super-hero (Kick-Ass), Nicholas Cage as the Batman look-alike ex-cop (Big Daddy) out for revenge, and his severely warped daughter (Hit Girl) who has been trained to kill in a variety of ways and is the cause of most of the extensive blood-letting. She also likes to eat ice cream. There are the mandatory bad guys, including the excellent Christopher Mintz-Plasse (McLovin in Superbad). There is a plot of sorts, much of it based on the college-kid angst of finding girls, finding a purpose in life, and being a target audience for films like this.
I thought it was funny, charming and clever. She who must be obeyed has no opinion of it because she didn’t want to go; so I went to the afternoon performance yesterday while she was at work.
The publicity quite clearly stated that this was “Rated R for strong brutal violence throughout, pervasive language, sexual content, nudity and some drug use – some involving children. ” There was even an “18+ only” message flashed on the screen before the start.
None of this deterred the man sat next to me who had brought his two children, estimated ages 6 and 12, to enjoy the slaughter. I am sure his responsible approach to parenting will pay dividends in future; but first he will have to explain to his offspring about masturbation, sex against the dustbins in a back alley, and why it is wrong to fire a bazooka in a cramped office environment. If I may quote Hit Girl, stupid motherfucker.
The BBC iPlayer is now my medium of choice for watching Formula 1 races; their coverage and commentary is simply the best. Having watched a qualifying session, I noticed they were covering the boat race live, so I watched that too.
The Oxford and Cambridge boat race has been run for more than 150 years, and there are worse ways of idling away twenty minutes on a Saturday afternoon, unless you are actually sitting in one of the boats, in which case it looks like reasonably hard work. Anyway, it was an closely fought race, I quite enjoyed it and I vowed to be really annoyed next year when I discover that I missed it.
But then a call from Polo Escape; we are having a boat race! Come see!
The chance to experience, first hand, the precision rowing of athletes who have spent the previous year in training. The surge of the boat as multiple sets of oars work in perfect harmony. The tension as they race neck and neck to the finish. I was on on my way immediately.
It wasn’t quite what I expected. There were three boats rather than two (Oxford, Cambridge and Leeds perhaps), although the all-Argentinian crew of one boat had a level of excitability and South American passion that exceeded the stability rating of the boat. Or to put it bluntly, they capsized at the start line. So that was Leeds out of the running.
Having failed to make the start, the gauchos were determined that the remaining two boats should not make the finish; and they didn’t. Notice the pair of hands at the back of the first boat…
And the fear of pursuit was sufficient to sink the final competitor.
So much for the boat race. At least there was some excitement, provided by the resident duck which either wanted to mate with me or take a chunk out of my leg. Neither option appealed and I made a retreat.
Then the final polo match of the season. Not a great selection of photos, and some looked quite murky:
On closer inspection, you can see this was because it was raining:
The boat race might have been rubbish and the polo a little rainy, but the meal afterwards was as wonderful as ever. The dinner was an asado. The basis of this is barbequed meat from various animals, and this takes a while to prepare, so copious amounts of wine are consumed while waiting. For some reason I found myself involved in a game of Scrabble, which is really hard to play when you are slightly pissed. Although, to be honest, I am not much better when I am sober. My highest scoring word was “beep”.
For the asado itself, you have a wooden platter onto which is heaped a seemingly infinite supply of beef, lamb and chicken. There was also a paella with crab and squid and some green stuff that looked suspiciously like salad so I avoided that.
Interesting company in the form of a man who owns one of Thailand’s better known magazines and may use some of my photos, an owner of a racing yacht who just maybe will let me come on board and photograph the action during a race, and a Thai super-model and her model/actor husband (yes I took some photos and no you can’t see them). He is really into F1 so we had a good chat about that and played with the F1 app on my iPad which I just happened to have with me.
Totally stuffed with meat, it was a challenge to discover that dessert included lemon meringue pie and tiramisu. I couldn’t choose between them, so had both.
Slept very well.
A big thank you to Robin and Susy who own Polo Escape. I must be the best fed photographer on the planet.
So that’s the end of the polo season. Yes, gentle reader, no more horsey shots until November, how will you manage…?
The hills around Pratumnak are some of Pattaya’s more pleasant locations. A look-out point across the city, a big Buddha, a small temple complex, and plenty of trees and bushes. No surprise then that City Hall decided to bugger it up by ripping up the greenery and building this:
Out with the trees and shrubbery, and in with concrete and metal walkways, inappropriate boulders, a children’s playground, and a horrible toilet block painted in a colour which is probably described on the tin as “rustic brown”, but would more accurately be described as “shit”.
Still, having ruined a perfectly good hillside, they might as well use it for something, and today it hosted a mountianbike (sic) race.
The racing was meant to start at 11:00, but the event actually got underway at nearly 12:00, because the major and assorted cronies arrived late and then spouted endlessly. Meantime, the competitors and, more importantly, me, were left to swelter in 37 degree heat. But finally the event was underway:
There were a hundred or so riders, some of them very young:
It was bloody hot, there were some steep climbs and I was a sweaty mess in no time at all. Must have been really tough for the competitors.
After an hour or so I had had enough. But the cyclists looked like they were in for a hard afternoon; the prize presentation alone would require several hours:
I did check if there was an award for the sweatiest photographer, but I was out of luck.
It’s almost two years since the first comment was made on this site. Fitting that it should come from Billy, who was the catalyst for my starting Pattaya Days. His comment was: “I will”. I took this little phrase to my heart and have since tried to use as a mantra for my life; although I have modified it slightly by adding “probably starting tomorrow” on the end.
Fast forward to today, and the prestigious award (to be announced later) for the 3,000th comment goes again to Billy with the memorable:
“Bingo!!! … the comments column is full up with comments on this post … where do I claim my non-functioning Nokia?”
Perhaps less memorable and life changing than his first offering, although maybe I can make something out of “Bingo”.
With a few exceptions (yes, you, Walter), all the comments have been intelligent, often witty and they make writing this nonsense worthwhile. Without your comments I would have given up a long time ago.
So, thanks to all those that contribute, please keep them coming (no, not you Walter).
Yesterday was Earth Day; kindly pointed out to me by the revised heading on the Google home page.
It goes without saying that I am a very environmentally aware; mainly because I am not. I am not convinced by global warming, I drive a smoking truck and I’d rather eat a pig than a carrot.
Still, I am sufficiently aware that the occasion is meant to be a day where you do something to be nice to our planet.
So somewhat inappropriate that I came across a stall in a local mall selling garish cards proclaiming “Happy Earth Day!”. This is as useful and appropriate as a card proclaiming “Happy Remembrance Day!”.
Still, there was some hope. I picked up a card and presented it to the sales girl.
Is this recycled paper?
This card, is it made of recycled paper?
Cardboard, no doubt furnished from a mixture of protected rain forest timber pulp and shredded pig?
Never mind, happy earth day
(Big smile) Happy birthday to you too, kha
I drove home in my truck and added a few revs to increase the smoke levels. We’re doomed.
Today is the start of she who must obeyed’s weekend. Except it isn’t, because she has urgent stuff she has to do and heads off to her office. This leaves me at an unexpected loose end and I ponder how to spend my morning. I fancy pointing my camera at something and remember that one of the tech sites is running a competition for their “iPads around the world gallery”. The prize winner will be based upon a draw rather than on photographic merit, so I am in with a chance and decide to have a go.
This is what I came up with:
Given that the iPad screen is so reflective, I thought I would try capturing the reflection of a nearby temple; and I think it worked quite well. I suppose it is obvious if you think about it (although I have thought about it at length and it is still not obvious to me), but I was surprised to see that the camera’s focus was the actual distance to the temple, rather than just to the screen; with the result that the iPad itself was thrown out of focus, which I think adds to the effect.
Suitably encouraged, I tried again at the Buddha image on the mountain. Difficult to capture and the light was not quite right:
Off to the nearby Chinese temple where the ceiling made for an elegant reflection, but not at all obvious is was coming off an iPad:
Onto the roof with all the statues.
There are “Do not touch” signs everywhere; but nothing that said “do not place items of technology amongst the statues of the gods”. I did try to point this out to the attendant who was telling me to stop photographing, but he would not be swayed. Still, I managed to get these before I was apprehended:
This two finger swiping is pretty cool.
All shots taken with the Panasonic GF1 with a 14-45 lens. Mr. iPad’s support was either:
A wooden stand, handcrafted in Italy by Gino Panacotti using aged African Zotto wood and Antartic Pine, retailing at $169. Or:
A plastic plate holder liberated from a plate by she who must be obeyed. Estimated value: 1 baht.
A fun photographic challenge, with an extra frisson of fear knowing that someone was likely to knock me over and steal my new toy. I don’t think I shall be doing it again with the iPad, but I am wondering what effects I could achieve with a Little Kitty mirror.
This is a long post. It’s about a product in which you may have no interest, in which case please read no further. You may have already decided it is not for you (hi Lloyd!), in which case please move along. There are no jokes and the only thing that gets photographed naked is the iPad.