"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 BangkokAtoZ.com. 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 BangkokAtoZ.com, 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?
Here's how soon many get rich raising pigs:
The Pig Squadron
'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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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 --