Friday, January 14, 2011

"The 'Roman' Rounds"

Thailand does require a
fair bit of "roman" around --
and Squaronians all think they're Roman
Gladiators, a match for one and anyone!!!

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Great Opportunity for
Any Squaronian to Start a
Business -- in Washington Square!

Poking around the Internet awhile ago, just looking at various stories, I ran across one of CNBC headlined "Jobs That Pay $100 (Or More) Per Hour." Okay, so a hundred bucks an hour isn't a fart in a hurricane compared to what someone like Bill Gates or Warren Buffet tote around, but it sure as heck beats minimum wage, so I perked up a bit.

Unsurprisingly, the list includes the obvious jobs, such as just about any in the medicl profession (including, for instance, orthodontists), the legal field in the form of arbitraters (who are legal professionals), and interior design,

Then there are those jobs that may not be quite so obvious at first glance, but when you think about them a minute, it makes sense that people doing them can earn some decent money. These include professional photographers -- who may very well have formal qualifications as well as a naturally gifted eye -- and political speech writers (adangerous job if you write for a politician who draws bunches of negative publicity? Maybe.).

Next come those jobs that are less obvious still. From this story's list, I found two such jobs: being a hand model or a life coach.

That's right -- if you have photogenic hands, the rest of you cn be ugly as homemade sin and you can still be a well-paid model. Not exactly a walk down the catwalk or posing for a fashion designer or Playboy, but hey, it's money.

But life coach? I've always thought of a life coach as being an Agony Aunt, in the final analysis. Turns out some have advanced degrees and so on.

By the way, I debated and including being a life coach in the possibilities for Squaronians, since a fair number like to sit around like a bunch of "Cool Cats" and discuss the ways other Squaronians *ought* to be living their lives! ;^) But that's not really it either.

Squaronians, rejoice! Turns out that being a TATTOO ARTIST or MASSAGE THERAPIST can BOTH earn you $100 and north for just a single hour's work.

Soooo -- I can imagine certain Squaronians rushing off to apprentice with a Master Tatto Artist and enroll in night classes to learn the fine art of traditional Thai massage, thinking in terms of "revenue streams." But the possibilities go further.

Squaronians are the kind of guys the leat bit interested in decorating of massaging other men, old women, children, and so on. Nor are they interested in doing either for ogly wome, even those of the right age.

It won't take much pondering for any Squaronian contemplating entering these paired professions to settle upon a boutique niche, in terms of his target market ("target" in more ways than one!!!): the lovely ladies who populate bars, a-go-go's, etc. etc.

A skilled tattooist is "tattooist" a real word? -- can enchant the lass, predisposing her towards him greatly, at least when said lass is a bar girl. Then he can astound and thrill her by giving her a nice, long massage to help her forget all the painful needle marks he left when he inscribed "ฉันจะรักแฟนไทยของฉันตลอดไปและเคยหมดใจของฉัน (ถึงแม้ว่าเขาวิสกี้เครื่องดื่มมากเกินไปและมีสามแฟน!)," or "I will love my Thai boyfriend forever and ever, with all my heart (even though he drinks too much whiskey and has three girlfriends).!" [NOTE: no, I do NOT read or write Thai. Blame any errors on Google Translate -- a handy tool, by the way.]

Just imagine, Squaronians! Having your grubby paws on a grateful, beautiful lass AND getting PAID for it!!! Who knows what glories might lie beyond that last stroke of the massage you give her???

Harrumph. There is the matter of "fees." You'll probably half to fork over a fair bit of coin to maintain your permit to remain in "business," so to speak. (Adding "Monkey" before "business" ups the price, naturally!)

9:47 P.M., Wednesday, January 5, 2011

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E-Mail Identity Theft? --

I Don't Know Yet (and May Never)

This is disconcerting.

I have a Yahoo! e-mail account that started out in the mid-1990's as an account with, which was bought ought by Yaqhoo!, though I got to keep the adress I had, complete with the to the right of the @. I've suspected a number of times that this account had been messed with in some way, but never had the slightest shred of evidence, really, to back my suspicions.

Now -- maybe I do.

A few days ago I reported abuse in a comment threaqd that followed a news story Yahoo! picked up and ran on its news service. rather to y surprise, when I opened my mailbox just now to check for something else I'm hoping for that's may give me another story for this column, I had a response from Yahoo!

Upon opening it, I saw the greeting, and the alarms bells went off as I went to DEFCON 4: "Dear Akim." I immediately glanced at the header info, and saw my e-mail address was correct (obviously, or I wouldn't have received it) -- but my NAME was listed as "Akim Mogens." Not only have I never met or known of anyone with either of those names, let alone the two together, I also have no recollection of ever seeing or hearing either one, not together nor even individually.

Looked up the meanings of the two names (individually) using google's definition function (that is, type in "define:_____" without the quotation marks and with no space after the colon before typing in the word you want defined). Discovered that "Akim" means "the head of a local government in Kazakhstan and Kirgizstan" and an acronym for a political party in Malaysia (and I doubt the Malaysia bit is relevant). Then I looked up "Mogens," which I found has this meaning: "Mogen - The Star of David or Shield of David (Magen David in Hebrew, with nikkud or מגן דוד without, academically transcribed by Biblical Hebrew linguists, in Modern Hebrew and Mogein Dovid or Mogen Dovid in Ashkenazi Hebrew and Yiddish) is a generally recognized symbol of Jewish identity and Judaism."

In short, I'm worried that at the least, my e-mail address has been hijacked and used to spam people, and at worse, somehow used to cause bank problems for me.

Since this can affect any of us, I'll pass along any information I get as I go along.

10:56 P.M., Wednesday, January 5, 2011

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"Burma" Richard

Launches Great New Blog

Richard K. Diran, professional writer, photographer, gemologist, artist (oil paintings and sculpture), adventurer extraordinaire, martial artist, and -- most importantly -- a Squaronian, has started a new website well worth perusing.

The website's tagline reads, "Faces and Facets of Burma...Adventures..People..Culture..Gemstones....." but Richard will sometimes go a bit further afield, as he does in his most recent blog entry, posted January 11, 2011, and titled "Phantom of the Apocolypse." The piece is about thye late Tony Po, a legendary CIA officer who fought in Laos during the Vietnam war era.

Tony left Thailand before I arrived, so I never got to meet him, though I knew Pat Landry (who's also gone now);m Pat worked with Tony for decades, so knew him well and told many a tale about their various adventures (or misadventures, as the case may have been! -- Richard touches upon more than one of Tony's tales in his blog entry.).

Here's where you can read Richard's blog entries, and do not the hyphen in it:

Almost forgot to comment on that URL. I thought an ".org" extension was for outfits such as, oh -- charity organizations, or maybe privagte civic groups. Stuff like that -- not a guy with a most unusual biography who likes to chase his vodka with an Underberg! (Well -- I have little room to talk on that particular point, other than to say I rarely drink vodka.)

You also will probably want to take a look at Richard's other website, which is devoted to his art stuff (other than writing). It's at this URL:

Now, Richard's art website's entry page may present a bit of a dilemma for Internet-challenged folks, a group that includes a fair number of Squaronians. You see, all you see is Richard's name in big letters, then right below that, the single word "Enter." That means, Squaronian, you have to move the cursor -- the little arrow thingy that moves around the screen when you move the mouse -- until it's over "enter." Then click. (Ask one of the bar ladies for help if you get stuck -- practically all of them are as expert on this stuff as they are on the latest, up-to-the-minute currency exchange rates. Which they know to at least 18 digits.! ;^)]

If you look at Richard's websites, please tell him so and be sure to add "Oh -- Mekhong Kurt says 'You're WELCOME, Richard!'" :-)

9:13 P.M., THursday, January 13, 2011Mekhong Kurt

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Snow in Texas: Not for Dogs

It snowed the other day in parts of Texas, as some of you undoubtedly know. Too late for a white Christmas here on the ranch -- I don't know if I'll EVER get to see one, except in films, videos, and photos.

Of course, the areas hardest hit were paralyzed. Here on the ranch, we didn't get much (see picture below ofm Sis's back yard), so the effects we4re either minimal or nonexistent. (Sis was plumb pleased the the school where she teaches, just a few miles north of here, delayed opening until 19:00 A.M., so she had one day shorter than usual. And school kids think teachers don't enjoy it too!)

As you can see, there's really not much
snow on the ground around Sis's house.

On the other hand, Sis's nearly-8-year-old Chihuahua, Missy, is not impressed with the snow. She is normally very good about going out into the back yard to take care of business -- but she refuses to walk off the sidewalk (which is snow-free, and cleared quickly once the snow stopped).  She prefers to spend wintry, snow-bound days in warm comfort:

Though you can't tell it from this picture,
I was actrually holding the pillow up to take
this shot -- Missy had burrowed completely
under it to stay warm. In the house. With the
inside temperature a comfortable 70F or so!

11:43 P.M. Thursday, January 13, 2011

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News from the Square and Environs???

Well -- shoot. I'd lioke to pass along more news of the Square and, better still, some amusing or ebarrassing stories about some of my fellow Squaronians, but I've heard practically nothing from practically no one, so I'm operating blind as far as current affairs go. (Yes, I mean those other sorts of "affairs" as well!)

I suppose that Charlie W. of Minneapolis is there, and that his running mate Bubba either is there or will be soon. Haven't heard of anybody else's travel plans.

I haven't been to Naam Khao Thai Restaurant in Houston, owned by Ned and Ott (but run by Ott's daughter Pook), though I hope to get down that way while on this side of the pond. I've read a few reviews of it, and some of them were very positive. Ott is there for now, but for how long, I don't know. In any case, Pook is there full-time all the time, so if you find yourself in the area -- it's in the western part of Houston, not far south of Interstate 10 (I-10), east of George Bush Park. There's a website for the restaurant, with a map page, so check that out:

So, if you find yourself in the area, do drop by.

And anyone with any news of the Square, please pass it along. If you have pictures to go with it (.jpg or .gif formats only), those are always nice.

1:38 P.M., Friday, January 14, 2011

Enough for one go --

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Sunday, January 9, 2011

First Snow of the 2010-2011 Winrer Season at My Sister's Home ,
Sunday,January 9, 2011.I have a nice, fat, snowball here, and am just dying to throw it!!!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

"More Talk from Texas"

"Doctor" Dennis House Passes Away

This is not a story that's easy for me to write. In fact, I learned of Dennis' death a few days ago, but was somewhat bli8ndsided by the news, so have spent a fair portion of the time sense contemplating just what to write.

First, the bare facts as I understand them, subject to update or correction later should I learn more or differently.

Dennis passed away at his residence about 7:00 A.M. the morning of Christmas Eve. I got word via e-mail from "Burma" Richard Diran, let's see, I think it was New Year's Eve. (Richard had sent an earlier e-mail, but for whatever reason, it didn't make it through the ether.)

Dennis had suffered some health problems for awhile, going back, as I recall, to sometime in 2009, when he contradcted hepatitis. While the situation looked quite grim for awhile, after some months he said he had made a reasonably substantial recovery with a fairly optimistic prognosis.

However, he later developed a serious ulcer, apparently in his gastrointestinal tract, though the very last time I spoke to him on the phone -- the last time I spoke to him at all, in fact, back around Thanksgiving, 2010 -- he said he wasn't sure just where it was or the implications of it, adding that he did know he was in considerable discomfort. The latter was obvious by his voice, which was strained, and gave away his pain. I should mention that I'm not certain the ulcer was in fact in his gastrointestinal tract.

However, even then I didn't think in terms of any possibility of Dennis facing an early death. After all, except for seriously perforated ulcers, a person can usually be treated -- I think -- these days, at least if an ulcer is the only current problem. Or I think so, anyway. (Anyone with medical knowledge who wishes to shed light in a comment below this entry, by all means, please do so.)

I gather Dennis began feeling rather ill the night before, then the following morning things worsened very rapidly, leading to his relatively quick death.

I did call Noi, his Missus, the other day, but she was quite distraught, so I didn't even attempt to get any further information from her nor even to ask her to confirm what little I think I know. I will be calling her again quite soon, and maintaining contact, as I've known her almost as long as I knew Dennis -- since soon after my arrival to Bangkok in mid-1994. And I've always liked her in her own right.

Besides Noi, I know Dennis is survived by her daughter, Nancy, for whom Dennis was the only father she ever knew. This must be a terrible time for her. He also had a biological daughter in the U.S. who lives with his ex-wife. And I believe his Mother and, I think, one Brother also live Stateside. If he has other relatives here, I either never knew of them, or have simply forgotten.

Dennis was way too young to die; though I don't recall the precise date of his birthday, he was just over a year younger than me -- he was born in July, 1952, making him just under 58-1/2 years old at the time of his passing.

Many of you will recall that Dennis was my partner some years, first when we began "The Washington Square Tattler," which we originally meant to be a one-off spoof newsletter about Washington Square and its denizens, whom we eventually dubbed "Squaronians." The thing was a great hit with our friends, and the pressure was on to continue it, which we did. Dennis was still employed at the time in a job involving considerable regional travel, so he had to back out of that after just two or three editions, though I carried on another 20 or so.

We later expanded that rag into a web presence, in the form of Dennis eventually quit his job for his to pursue that, with us hoping to make money from hotels, airlines, etc. by building the site as a tourist one. Our first aooints were in mid-September, 2001 . . . less than a week after 9/11. Which blew that idea right out of the water. We explored different poissibilities, but never came up with much of anything, leading Dennis eventually into the medical tourism sector. We parted ways so he could pursue that full-time, in affiliation with the ramkhamhaeng Hospital Group, the flagship of which is in Bangkok. While he had some success with that, it never took off as well as he hoped, and certainly the global economic crisis did nothing to help.

Dennis was one of my closest friends, despite the fact I wasn't able to see him nearly as often as I would have liked the last few years, especially the past three or four. But we did remain close, without having all that frequent contact, unlike in the glory days of, when we worked together just about every day.

I will be writing a memorial for him . . . but that's going to take some time. I need a little distance, a little time to ruminate.

For now, I'll close with this: "I sure do miss you, Amigo."

Tuesday, January 4, 2011, 12:10 A.M.

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January Squaronians' Birthdays

I have to tread lightly here -- no exact dates, and CERTAINLY no exact ages!!! After all, I don't want to be greeted by an bunch of bushwhackers when I go strolling back into Washington Square!!!

Here are the squaronians I know of who are having the something-something-somthing-eth birthday in January:

Jay Adair (celebrating in the environs of Chicago)
Peter Cox (celebrating only the gods know where -- since Peter likely doesn't have a clue!)
Trey Atkins (celebrating in either Thailand or Burma; I think he's in one of the two now, and will be  around a couple of weeks, dividing his time)
Philip Bellah (who actually lives in Cambodia, though on the odd occasion he hits the Square)

A Happy Birthday to each and everyone of you who are listed here and wish to hell you weren't!   WA-A-A-A-AH!!!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011, 12:25 A.M.

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Sweetie Pie: Pig Farmer

My Thai lady friend-buddy has decided to take up another profession, rather far removed from her most recent adventures as a hair stylist/barber/hairdresser along with doing make-up and nails.

She owns a spot of land upcountry, next door to her Mom's home, so they've developed the idea of becoming pig farmers. Actually, since Sweetie Pie's land is just sitting there not doing much of anyone any good, other than a small patch where her Mom grows a few vegetables, going into the piggy business isn't such a bad idea.

They have somewhere around 10 pigs now, thugh it'll be awhile before they realize any profit from the oinkers. I called S.P. just 3-4 hours ago, and she reports that while she added another pig to the herd, they also lost a pig a few days ago. Which, as any farmer or rancher can tell you, is sometimes just the luck of the draw.

Raising any livestock can be burdensome, and in some ways, pigs are even more so. I should know: at one point, we had something on the order of 10,000 pigs (let's say -- Mom claims considerably fewer, while Dad told me the herd topped out at around 14,000) -- only to have disease strike. All sorts of government agencies got involved, but no one could ever identify the disease or whatever it was. Pigs were dying by the hundreds, and ultimately all of the surviving ones had to be slaughtered. (Which put paid on any idea of Dad continuing in the pig business, needless to say.)

Pigs are prone to exotic, rare diseases, as well as a jillion more common ones. They don't like heat. They don't like cold. They can be picky about their food (believe it or not). And in terms of behavior, they can be unpredictable. A given pig can be calm as calm can be for months and months on end -- then one day bite thunderation out of you. And those bastards have SHARP TEETH, I'm here to tell you. If you ever make the mistake of taking pity on a hot summer's day and spray them with water and make a nice mud puddle for them, well, you're stuck: pigs are highly intelligent, and like elephants, they remember stuff, including inconvenient crap such as "Ol' Kurt sprayed me down with nice, cool water yesterday AND made me a nice mud puddle in which to wallow, and if he doesn't keep it up -- I'm gonna bit his ass!"

I'm breaking all this stuff to S.P. slowly, in tiny bites. She's a city girl, for pete's sake, but is genuinely interested (for now, anyway).

Haven't gotten around to the briefing on the butt-biting, though . . . She thinks pigs are "cute." I think pigs are a lot of things (the good ones involving stoves, plates, knives and forks, etc.). "Cute" isn't on my list, despite S.P.'s delusions -- uh -- "hopes."

I also haven't gotter around to mentioning the glories of shoveling pig sh*t by the ton when one has a good-sized herd. Pigs always amazed me, performing alchemy. They can eat a kilo then crap three kilos; it's amazing!

Pigs also have a wonderful sense of timing, particularly pregnant sows. They never deliver (well, almost never) at a nice, convenient time, like mid-morning on a nice day. No, they want to drop their piglets at 3:00 A.M. just when the floodwaters are rising past the meter mark on the poor pig farmer's home and he's trying to bail out his entire plot of land (fruitlessly, of course) -- but he doesn't want the piglets, theoretically walking cash, to drown, either.

Helluva choice, isn't it?

Pigs! Oink-Oink!!!

Here's how soon many get rich raising pigs:

The Pig Squadron

"Whaddya MEAN,

'Go get your shovel'???"

You want me to

shovel all THAT cr*p???

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Tobin "Robot-y" G. and

Khun Jeab Texas-Bound

What TOBIN really wants to do is to move back to Thailand as quickly as possible.

However, as Khun Jeab has other ideas, they'll be headed to Texas soon (they hope) to visit Tobin's relatives -- only about 25 miles away from our (my family's) ranch. Since some of you may nhot remember Tobin by name,here's a picture of him with tThe L'il Missus:

Just Look at His EYES!

No WONDER Khun Jeab Is Already

Practicing an Arm-Lock on Him!!!

Tobin and I first met when we both taught at Srinakharinwirot University, at the north end of Sukhumvit Soi 23, for which Soi 23 isn't known at all, that soi's fame based almost entirely on the world-famous Soi Cowboy. (Many a foreign male intent on being a scholar never made it past the first a-go-go bar. I'm surprised Tobin made it past to teach -- come to think of it! Actually, Tobin could have taught a post-doc course in "Soi Cowboy-ology." He would have had legions of students.)

The lovely Khun Jeab hails originally from The Northern Capital. (That's Chiang Mai, to the geographically- and historically-challenged.) I imagine that if she gives Tobin a kitchen pass at all, should she loosen the reins enough to let him take a slight detour from the airport whenever they do head back to The Land of Smiles, for whatever reason, it'll expire in about 30 minutes and be good only for Wat Tat Tong -- if that. (She's smart.)

Anyway, I'm looking forward to seeing them when they get to Texas. Well, I'll look forward to seeing HER and visiting THEM, how's that???

Tuesday, January 4, 2011, 1:30 A.M.

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Minnesota Mob:

Hitting the Square Soon?

Last I knew, which was a few days before my departure from Khrung Thep December 20th, Charlie W. and "Big" Bubba, both of the Minneapolis area, were still planning to hit town this month, Charlie for about three weeks and Bubba for about one during the middle of Charlie's time visiting. (I gather the third M.M member, Michael J., won't be backing them up on this trip.)

I don't have pictures of either one with me, but if you've actually met either of them but can't recall them . . . well, you need glasses. Or to sober up once in awhile. Or book an emergency appointment with a shrink, witch doctor, whatever's your cup of tea. Besides being big fellas, Charlie and Bubba are two of the niceswt guys you could ever hope to meet, even if Charlie *does* insist on calling me "The Shuffler," just because I don't move at Warp factor 9, as he does in search of the next bar when he's in town!

I'll miss them this trip (as I am Trey Atkins on his own too-short visit), but I'm sure they'll have fun.

BTW, if someone knows their plans have changed, please let me know.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011, 1:42 A.M.

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Enough for one go --

Mekhong Kurt