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Posts Tagged ‘Transportation and Logistics’

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“Everyone tells a story about themselves inside their own head. Always. All the time. That story makes you what you are. We build ourselves out of that story.”
Rothfuss, Patrick. The Name of the Wind (The Kingkiller Chronicle Book 1) (p. 658). DAW.

More days pass. In this the time of my decrepitude. As my memory slowly shreds, I find the quiet contemplation of nothing enjoyable.

In the past, I could never get into meditation or even the idea of quiet contemplation. It would irritate me. If I had nothing to do, I would prefer taking a nap, reading, throwing stones into the water, starting an argument or shouting at someone — things like that. I could not understand going so far into myself that the maelstrom of my senses, the screaming of my id, or that somehow the constant preaching by that little voice within that is always with us would go silent and that in some way that would make me better, happier.

Perhaps your inner voice enjoys happy talk. Good for you. Mine, alas, is a complainer. Always telling me how I screwed up or how I would fail at what I planned on doing.

If there were not something out there in the world around me upsetting me or demanding my attention, I don’t think I could feel completely alive.

Now, however,  in my dotage, not so much. Now, when I sit on a bench along some path in the Enchanted Forest, the dog laying panting at my feet, I smile, confident that whatever harangue or flight of fancy the voice within me obsesses on, it soon will be forgotten. That thought always cheers me up.

I guess for me, I should consider it one of the few upsides to my decrepitude.

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June 2011

The following morning we left for LAX and our flight to Italy.

The depressing state of the American airline industry is additional evidence that the terrorists won. It was not the taking down of buildings, the killing of Americans or airplanes falling from the sky that was the goal of their attacks, but the subtle certainty of their understanding of the American psyche was their actual weapon. Their focus was to destroy the American economy by knowing precisely the reaction of America’s conservative elite’s thirst for power and profit. And we fell into the trap. Instead of making ourselves even stronger economically at home we wasted American treasure and dollars in unnecessary wars in the deserts of the middle east until we rewarded our attackers their victory, destruction of our economy. I consider the architects of our response nothing less than cynical traitors who wrapped themselves in the flag for personal benefit and power.

The American sad state of Airline travel is small but significant evidence of the extent of the terrorists’ success.

Anyway, following an especially uncomfortable flight, I arrived at Rome’s Leonardo da Vinci Airport with swollen legs, aching back and a foul temper. We were met by Nikki, who had arrived from Chicago a few hours earlier.

After about two hours of trying to secure a rent-a-car for our trip to Milan during which we experienced the full fury of Italian efficiency, we set off.

Within minutes it became obvious that we were not going to make the 4 or so hour drive to Milan that evening as both SWAC and I began to complain to Nikki of our various discomforts. At my suggestion, we agreed to spend the night in Orvieto a small hilltop city not far off the Autostrada.

As we entered the town, SWAC became quite excited. She thought she recognized the town as the site of George Clooney’s escapades in the movie “The American” or some such.

We located a pleasant B&B called “Las Palmas,” dropped off our luggage and set off in search of dinner which we found at an attractive restaurant a few doors away. Following a very enjoyable meal and the downing of two liters of local red and white wines among the three of us, we stumbled back to our respective rooms and to sleep.

The next morning we checked out of the B & B and set off in search of the Duomo as well as to hunt for the locations of scenes in the film that SWAC might recall.

Orvieto’s Duomo is an interesting church with a large Romanesque interior and Italian gothic façade decorated with large bas-reliefs, statues, and glittering mosaics. On the piers, about 30 feet high are carved a series of Bas-reliefs depicting biblical stories from the Old and New Testament that along with the view from the city walls are the towns glory.

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The Facade of the Duomo in Orvieto
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Orvieto

Orvieto like many of the hill towns in this part of Italy specializes in a type of pottery called Faience. Each town promotes in a slightly different design on the pottery and ever since Faience pottery became beloved of collectors, each town has developed its own pottery “artist.” In Orvieto, the renowned artist is the daughter of the owner of a pottery shop on the Plaza del Duomo called Giacomini.
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Giacomini’s

For those with knowledge and experience with the California Coastal Commission, yes they are the relatives of the late beloved suspender wearing, rotund, ex-Marin County Supervisor and Coastal Commissioner, Gary Giacomini sometimes also referred to as “Farmer Brown”.

Gary was an ardent environmentalist as long as it did not interfere with his and his family’s economic and political ambitions.

I spent about a half an hour swapping “Gary” stories with the family before we departed to search for the supposed locations of scenes from the movie, take photographs and return to the Autostrada to complete our journey to Milan.

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HRM and Jake

One day recently, Hayden (HRM) asked me to pick him up at the EDHI Skatepark after school. At about 2PM, I drove to Skatepark and waited. At about 2:20, HRM and his friend Big, Tall, Long-haired Jake arrived and piled into the car. They asked me to drive them back to HRM’s house, there to wait a while for them to do something mysterious and then take them to Jake’s house in order to drop off the clothing HRM would need for Saturday’s trip to Kirkwood for a day of snowboarding. Thereafter, they asked that I drive them to the home of their friend Caleb, where they planned spend a few hours doing whatever teenagers today do.

On the way to the house, I said to them, “You know, now that you are teenagers, the role of us adults change. All we really can do now is drive you around, provide for your subsistence, and now and then upset you by telling you to do or not do something that appears to us more important than it does to you. It is up to you to keep yourselves out of too much trouble”

Jake then spoke up. “You also give us wisdom,” he said. “That’s right,” HRM added.

I am not so sure I felt good about that. My often silly and fatuous nostrums I suspected would not pass the wisdom test. Nevertheless, I guess that being considered wise by two adolescents appealed to my ego. .

At the house they disappeared into HRM’s room and I busied myself going through my mail my mail. I discarded most of it, drank some water and entertained myself with my phone until Hayden said it was time to go.

I dropped them off at Caleb’s house and then drove into Town Center to have a late lunch at the newly opened Italian themed cafe that replaced the restaurant I had liked so much. N had eaten there and said the food was not very good. I tried the pappardelle in bolognese sauce. It was very expensive and not as good as its price warranted.

I then drove home and took a nap. Before falling asleep, I wondered if this was what the life of someone almost eighty years old was all about. I decided I did not care, or better yet, it did not matter what I thought. Perhaps that could pass for wisdom.

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She insisted that I accompany them, stay the night and return to Milan the next morning, leaving Hayden and her to spend two or three weeks there. I demurred, explaining that I had had enough traveling for a while. Following somewhat emotional discussions and a series of telephone calls to the so-called friends, it was agreed that I would accompany them to the Veneto and remain with Hayden lodged at the farm while she returned to Milan with Nikki and departed for Thailand to return in about two weeks.

So, four or so hours later we drove into Sacile (pronounced Sah Chili) a town about 40 kilometers north of Venice. It is also known as “Il Giardino del Serenissima,” or something like that. It translates as “The Garden of the Most Serene Republic of Venice.”

Before reaching the center of town we stopped on a side street at a coffee shop/bar operated by a friend of SWAC and Nikki, a tall slender middle-aged woman named Lucia. Outside the bar were a few tables, one of which was occupied by several locals playing the traditional Italian card games of Scopa and Bresaola. They and the other patrons were generally drinking Prosecco, not the sweet bubbly crap one gets in the US but the refreshing local, hot weather afternoon, kick back and enjoy life drink. It was very good. We had two glasses and spent about an hour in pleasant conversation with Lucia, her strange boyfriend and some of the customers.

We then walked to the main plaza of the town that has a river running through it. Apparently, during the heyday of La Serenissima, barges from Venice would travel up the river to the small falls that made further travel difficult. The barges, carrying, I guess, things like Murano glass souvenirs, porcelain Carnivale mask and things like that would be offloaded and replaced by agricultural goods from the area and other goods like cuckoo clocks carried over the alpine passes from Switzerland and Austria. The town sprung up to service this barge traffic, I assume to provide food, drink, and entertainment to the lonely bargemen as they awaited their consignments.

The town is a picture postcard of what someone would imagine a Venetian town should look like. At first blush, it appears that the ancient town has reemerged from history. A closer look reveals something a bit more like one would find at the Venetian in Las Vegas, a use of post-modern architectural design flowing seamlessly into the few remaining vintage structures.

Post-modernism despite the acres of intellectual drivel generally written by those hoping to make some money off of it, is merely a form of colorful mostly straight edged Moderne (with pitched rather than flat roofs) as it existed before Walter Gropius sex crazed with Anna Mahler tarted it up into Bauhaus (Or had Gropius become a sexual deviant before the advent of Moderne, I never could remember which). Essentially it consists of a series of rectangular planar facades painted or otherwise colored in earthy reds, yellows and beiges adorned with simple architectural elements, like plain arches ( now and then festooned with architectural artifacts). It was concocted by Venturi and Graves hungry for commissions out of their impression of the reconstruction of traditional domestic and small commercial structures in post-war Italy as the local people filled in the bombed-out spaces between the surviving historical structures with simplified copies of traditional design and painted them with a brighter version of the standard stucco. It spread back to Europe and It works here in Italy since that was always the local vernacular architecture anyway.

In NY, Johnson, tired of living in glass houses and unable to diddle Anna himself, nevertheless attempted to capitalize on the post-modern craze by creating the worlds largest and perhaps ugliest misrepresentation of a piece of obsolete junk furniture as a New York skyscraper. San Francisco, ever ready to slavishly follow East Coast fashions adopted postmodernism as the design element of its planning code thereby converting something generally simple into the gross monstrosity of pink-tinged architecture that graces the City today.

Ah well, I liked Sacile a lot, even if it seemed a little bit like an urban version of Danville.

As we walked about, I noticed that this was a town populated by people with prominent noses, from fleshy cyranoesque proboscis to hawk-like aquiline appendages cleaving the air as they walked along like ax heads cleaving a log. These notable features adorned generally slender well dressed men and equally fashionable and sensuous women. Unlike the drab dark colors, I found ubiquitous in the US, here both the men and women were more colorfully attired. Although there was the usual excess of pre-stressed jeans and off the shoulder tank tops, there was nary a velour exercise outfit to be seen,

After wandering around the city for about an hour our hosts arrived and we followed their automobile to their farm on the outskirts of a village with the pleasantly sounding name of Tamai.
https://josephpetrillo.wordpress.com/2012/06/18/this-and-that-from-re-thai-r-ment-by-

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A. IN THE GOLDEN HILLS.

Thanksgiving Day brought with it an intermittent sun playing hide and seek with the rain. We had lunch in the Golden Hills with HRM, Uncle Mask, Adrian and N. I was surprised to see N there. She had come to California a few days before and will remain until late December when she will take HRM to Italy for the Holidays. The lunch featured a well-made ham with several toppings to choose from. I was a bit disconcerted because I had expected I would be minding H during Dick’s absence in early December but with N there, I expect that would not be necessary.

N and HRM

Later, we drove back to Sacramento for dinner with Naida’s Daughter Sarah, her family, and their two dogs, a black and white brindled standard poodle named George Washington and Franklyn Delano Roosevelt, a large mixed pit bull and retriever. We brought along Boo-boo, a mixed Chihuahua and whatever, who although he may have lacked the size and prestigious name of the other two dogs, by the end of the night had clearly acquitted himself as an equal.

Dinner included turkey with all the fixings and pumpkin pie and cheesecake for dessert. The cheesecake made by Sarah’s son Charlie, who happily explained to all of us the secret of making a perfect cheesecake — first rule “do not beat your eggs,” mix them slowly using only a certain rotation of one’s arms and shoulders. He then demonstrated the movement. It looked quite painful

B. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THE ENCHANTED FOREST:


The rains have returned soft and gentle. The streets, lawns, and pathways in the Enchanted Forest glisten a brilliant red and yellow. Here and there pods from the Deodar Cedar litter the walkway like little banana slugs. For the first time, it seemed like autumn.

As usual, we attended the Saturday morning coffee at the clubhouse. Surprisingly, as many men attended this week as women. I sat a bit off to the side, observing as I often do. I could not help noticing the usual neatly coiffed hair on the spy who goes by the name “Ducky.” It always looks as though she just came from the hairdresser. Unlike most of us at this advanced age whose hair of various colors gone drab, interlaced with streaks or dreary grey, and winds about our heads like birds nests, hers, a brilliant white, sparkled like icy snow in the sunlight.

I decided to survey hands today. Most of the woman had long slender fingers gone knobby with age. The model’s fingers were the longest. Like many whose movements are often characterized as elegant, the tips of her fingers seemed to move as though they were independent of the hands to which they were attached. Naida’s hands, unlike the others, were the hands of someone who spent a life of a farm or a ranch, thick and strong.

I noticed while most kept their hands relatively still when they talked they would now and then gesture whenever they were making a point. Naida again was an outlier. Her hands flew about vigorously as she talked. She would not be out of place in Southern Italy. In fact, in Sicily, the Sicilians would consider her an uplifting and ebullient person before even hearing a word she had spoken. Alas, to these same people, her hand movements would appear to them as gibberish — meaningless noise. Americans use their hands while speaking only as punctuation. Without words it is meaningless. In Sicily, the gestures are words and have meaning independent of what is spoken.

We then returned to the house, Naida to work on her Memoir and me to write this. Later we walked the dog along the levee beside the American River. The setting sun shining through air recently washed clean by the rains lit up the autumn colors like fireworks.

On Sunday we sat around the house. Naida read to me sections from her memoir. As she read the words, my mind transformed them into scenes from a movie — the frightening 25 mile skate down the frozen Big Hole River; learning of her parents divorce; the comical introduction to her father’s new girlfriend; the infatuation of a 13 year old girl with her handsome uncle; the fight with her brother over a plate of macaroni and cheese; the dreams, the fears and the sorrows… It will be a wonderful book — a Little Women with real drama.

The Author at Work in Her Studio

Monday I had an appointment with my primary care physician. As he entered the examining room, I said, “Since my surgeons agree I am a dead man walking, I intend to go out happy, pain-free and without my bowels turned into cement. So, I need you to prescribe the pills that will allow me to do so.”

“We are from birth all dead men walking, ” he responded. “Nevertheless, I think I can provide what you need. I even know of something that relieves pain without constipation.” He added that he understood what I was going through because he has had two bouts of his own with cancer. Also, his seven-year-old child was struck with bone cancer and had to have his leg amputated below the knee.

Once again, I found myself embarrassed and humiliated by my misplaced sense of humor.

The doctor a youngish man, in his late thirties or early forties, is built like an NFL linebacker and specializes in sports medicine. At my prior visits to his office, I noticed a deep sadness in his eyes that made me wonder. Now I know why.

He prescribed a healthy supply of Xanax to keep my spirits up, a pain reliever that keeps my bowels lubricated and even a topical that eliminates the irritation caused by my clothing rubbing against the tumor. Finally, he explained that the most important thing he’d learned from his own experience with cancer was that one ought not to concern one’s self about the future but concentrate only on what needs to be done that day. In other words, take it one day at a time. I am not a fan of platitudes (unless they are my own, of course) but appreciated the effort.

C. TO SAN FRANCISCO AND BACK AGAIN:


On Tuesday we left for San Francisco to spend the evening with Peter and Barrie before my visit with the physician at UCSF early the next day. We brought the dog along with us because Barrie thought it would be a good idea to see how he got along with their dog, Ramsey.

That evening, leaving the dogs with Barrie, Naida and I went to a French restaurant on 24th Street where Peter’s trio was performing. They were very good, as was the food. Peter played bass, the leader of the group, guitar, and the third member, the violin. Peter told us he (the violinist) is or was first violinist in the LA Symphony. If you’re ever in the Noe Valley area on a night they are playing you should drop in.

The Boys in the Band.

The next day, I met with the oncologist at UCSF to explore potential treatment options including clinical trials. As usual, I began with an inappropriate joke. When the doctor entered the room and settled into the chair opposite me, I said, “Now that two surgeons have agreed that ripping out a part of my throat and slicing off parts of my body with which to fill the resulting hole was not advisable, what options are available to me?”

The doctor a youngish Korean-American oncologist with a national reputation was not amused. Nevertheless, after asking some questions he played out a treatment program that appeared to me to be promising if we could get the insurance company to approve it in a reasonable amount of time.

D. BACK IN THE ENCHANTED FOREST AND A VISIT TO THE RIVER OF RED GOLD:


On Wednesday, I rested all day and Thursday, I turned my attention primarily to a request of Terry’s that I am sure, as usual, will turn out more interesting than beneficial. I also received a call from my doctors that the insurance company approved my treatment plan and it will start early next week. Hooray!

If I have learned anything from life (I am pretty sure I have not), it is that that one learns less from success than from failure and it’s more interesting too. Also, behaving foolishly is a lot more fun than propriety could ever be.

On Friday, I accompanied Naida to Meadowlark Inn at Slough-house on the old Jackson Highway. There Naida had a luncheon with a small book club (about eight women). They discussed her California Gold Trilogy. Later we all went to the historical Slough-house cemetery several of the characters mentioned in her books were buried. Naida told some fascinating stories about the area — the Native American, Chinese and European settlers, the gold discoveries, the massacres and the private lives of the people buried in the cemetery that she had garnered from their diaries. She even found the grave of the old woman who had become her friend and whose diary had begun her interest in the area and became an important part of her books.

The Girls at the Cemetery.

Following that, we drove to the bank of the Cosumnes River in Rancho Murieta where the Indian village described in her books stood. She became quite upset when she saw that the great old mother oak, sacred to the Native Americans who were buried in the ancient midden that lay beneath its branches, had been chopped down by the developer (despite his promises not to.) We then walked along the river bank and explored the rocks containing many native grinding holes and the stepped stone platform where she was sure the natives gathered to listen to the orations of the head man whenever there was a festival or a party. Naida mentioned that the area was so productive that it has been estimated the average time native male worked (built things, hunted and so-on) was only 45 minutes a day and the average women 3 hours. It was a peaceful paradise that existed for over 600 years until it was utterly destroyed by European immigrants from the United State in less than twenty.

On the Banks of the Cosumnes.




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From Irwin:

wow! was i taken aback by your (today’s) photos of the street scene outside your home. the scenery is not what i had imagined. seems open space is at a premium there as well as in parts of the usa. i guess i had pictured something more “exotic” whatever that means….perhaps trails, lots of native vegetation, smelly dead bodies on the side of dirt roads with lots of flies and the like. but no matter. if you are happy i’m happy; well, that is, i’m happy for you!! i suspect that the “open space” is outside the subdivision as you mention farmers and “stubble” which is i assume not referring to peasants’ beards. what do they plant in their rice fields when they are not planting rice? given the tropical nature of the country i assume that there are lots of fruit trees, banana, etc. growing in the wild as well as in cultivated areas run by the local farmers’ collective (“kibbutz”).

i see you have picked up some new readers. i’m guess that the “bill gates” is not the bill gates. maybe soon you will need a meter program to see exactly how many people read your email messages. while i don’t update my blog(s) very often i do subscribe (free) to a program which keeps track of head count but as to accuracy i’m not sure. the problem with my “glowing man” blog is that i haven’t tied it to any distribution program so i have to send out an email to recipients (i keep a list) telling them that i have updated the blog – somehow this process doesn’t sound as my being very up-to-date with the 21 st century but i have my excuses;namely that i don’t read manuals or other forms of written instructions and consequently if the task isn’t something i can learn by trial and error I can’t learn it at all, or rather won’t try. i suspect (doing a lot of that lately) that because i use “blogger” which is the free google blog program i told you about instead of some hosted blog program which charges a fee that i suffer the distribution problem.

here the rain has stopped however i still can not see clearly. i was going to have cataract surgery on my left eye last year but postponed it to take care of the cancer. now i really don’t much care and the thought of any type of invasive treatment to my body leaves me cold – although a lobotomy might be rewarding. no, i don’t mean the dance. today’s photo from me is a photo i took of the “la la la lady” who sings (“la la la la”) as she walks along los jardines east. she may be thai. she is definitely asian – do the thais in your part of the world sing while they walk? maybe it’s an ethnic trait like jews hoard money (wish i had some. no, not jews. money!).

if you look up in the sky right now you might see a vapor trail of the satellite which was sent up this morning. i have fixed my scanner and am listening to the nasa frequency. the man said that it is now over japan and while i know that japan is not near thailand maybe it’s not that far away. actually, “fixed” is not the right word. the scanner wasn’t broke i just wasn’t receiving the station i usually listen to ( it’s a ham station where notwithstanding fcc guidelines and standards obscenity and indecency is foremost with several of the regulars bordering on the mentally incompetent and definitely socially cruel and gross. my kinda’ people). every once in a while i accidentally touch one of the buttons on the scanner and it goes out of wack to where i can’t receive any transmission from anywhere. thus comes into play my excuse of not reading manuals. so i spent a good fifteen minutes this afternoon pushing all of the buttons on the damn thing one after the other and finally by a stoke of luck it is now tunable to some frequencies where i can hear the voice of real people – my last wife lives upstairs and i downstairs so we seldom exchange a word except when i wander up the stairs to inquire what time i should have dinner ready. the timing never works out. she’ll say “one hour” and the next thing i know i’m back up the stair saying “it;s been more than an hour” and she isn’t downstairs yet. it’s little things like that which cause my misogyny to grow at an increasing rapid rate. by the way before i leave the subject of radio transmission you might enjoy having a short-wave radio given the location of your domicile. you haven’t written about tv coverage so i don’t know what you receive beyond bangkok bugaboo, the bbc and al jezeera. then again after having four wives, three children, being eighty thousand plus in credit card debt and building that palatial estate on world cup i am not certain how much baht you have left(i understand that one baht is equal to 0.03 c american) and may not be able to afford such luxuries as a $ 100 +/- radio. some day when you are in your cups and in a talkative and sharing mood i hope you tell me about your finances and how you pulled off this coup of yours which permits you to retire debt and work free in thailand. in exchange i might buy you that radio. i could purchase it on ebay and leave it to them to figure how to deliver it to you without having to hire an elephant and mahout.

yesterday, as is traditional, i was not invited to any superbowl party. so i stayed home and had a superbowl party for one. not being a football fan i did not know who to root for. i did not have chips and dip but i did consume some raw cashews and sparkling mixed berry flavored water from trader joe’s…..@ 89 c a bottle or 29.6 baht. i don’t know that the trader joe’s on brookhurst and hamilton in huntington beach will take baht but i guess i could ask on next shopping trip.

afternotes:

i’m not sure what she is carrying in her bag. usually the people here who carry bags on their walk are walking their dog(s). i can think of nothing much more than disgusting than picking up dog shit with a plastic bag (well i guess using one’s bare hands would be more revolting) which is why, among other reasons, we do not have a dog. my eldest son has two and i have never figured out where he got the unfulfilled desire to have a dog when he had his own household. he has told me that his kids are of the age to play with puppies but i have never seem my grandchildren go near the dogs. my youngest son, who is quite strange, also has a dog which i have never seen as i hardly ever see him – although we are suppose to go together to lucha va voom on thursday night to see mexican wrestling and if we are lucky they will also have the midget female stip tease ladies. i wonder if what they say about their genitalia is true.

in case the news hasn’t made chaing mai yet, michael jackson’s doctor is being arrested today for involuntary manslaughter. i thought you and yours might want to know that being such big fans of the deceased singer/pedophile. i confess. i did buy the thriller casette when it came out years ago and i had the (1989) oy1mobile which had a casette player unlike the more contemprorary (2004) oyonemobile which has a cd player. you will note the difference in spelling. i couldn’t bring myself to put the license plate (“oy1”) from the caddie, now deceased and crushed by the state of california, onto the olds and thus the plate on that reads “oy one”. the last time google came around to take street view photos i still had the cadillac: .http://maps.google.com/maps?

by the way. last night i had a vision of me opening a store in chaing mai where i would sell photos and a limited food menu. do they have business licenses in thailand and/or would i have to hire you to bribe a public official?

if you start a blog you could label it “re thai r ment” instead of “this and that…”.

i need a drink.

Joe’s response:

Cuzin,

Your emails and blogs are the best. I am jealous. Mine are like lumps of wood compared to your living trees. Some times I do not respond for days while thinking about them. They make my day. God you’d think I was going to ask you for money with all this flattery. Maybe I will. After all, living exclusively on social security while girlfriend #1 (Hayden’s mother) tries to drain me of every last baht leaves me sinking in debt as always.

Thailand is no different than any other country where if you want to see the exotic and picturesque of the brochures you have either to leave the cities or go to a museum. What Thailand does have near to hand everywhere is massage and sex.

You have now asked me twice how is it that I do whatever it is that you think I do. That can be answered in one word, “RUN”. When the going get’s tough, Joey runs. I would rather die a thousand deaths given the alternative. It is those who stand and fight that die.

I now at this advanced age live in a world of three dooms. I love that word doom (words are such Hos, they will do anything for anybody at any time and for free). Dooooom. Stretch it out and it is one of the essential sounds emanating from the bowels of the cosmos like the Maharishi’s ohm. Any way my three dooms: First is the doom of retirement. I always believed that we (men at least) are held together by stress and fear gifted to us by our jewish caveman ancestors. Stressed because our hunt for food may fail and we and our families may starve to death. Fear because some woolly mammoth may emerge from the bushes and step on our head. If we stop to smell the flowers some saber-toothed tiger will immediately bite our sorry ass. Then about a hundred years ago they gave us “RETIREMENT” and for a brief moment the fear and stress we think disappears, then we die.

The second doom is the “REAL DOOM”. Earlier in our life death was some remote possibility, so we planed and dreamed (most (all) of which failed to occur). Now it is an onrushing certainty and planning at best means for that day and dreams are what happens (if we a lucky) in our sleep.

The third doom is what I call my personal existential doom. I live here in this place at the sufferance of my greedy, mostly insane ex-lover in whose name I stupidly placed the deed to the house. At any moment I can be out on my ass. And then what will I do? Run, I guess.

On that note, ciao for now.

From Irwin:

wassup?! i just returned from a rain-drenched trip to (a) the bank (nsf); (b) cvs drugstore (metamucil for me and protective undergarments for mom); (c) the liquor store to buy $10 worth of lotto tickets(“listen you oriental bastard sell me a winning ticket this time or i’ll cut off you f_____g pigtail!); and (c) bi-rite meats to buy fresh salmon for tonight’s dinner(i broiled it in pepper, dill and melted butter). i did take an umbrella when i left however the damn thing broke when i tried to open it up so my clothes are somewhat damp at this moment. fortunately for me a few hours earlier it was only cloudy and not raining so i did the 1 ½ mile walk routine but since it was cold outside (not dressed properly to face the fierce elements of fountain valley) i walked rather briskly which is what i am told one is to do for health reasons – perhaps it makes the heart beat faster but then again in my case so does sex (as i remember it) and fear.

today’s photo is not one of natural vegetation on the outskirts of the subdivision as there isn’t any natural vegetation since 1967 when the area was graded by george holstein – i always thought the name of that builder was somewhat ironic because prior to the residential development the area was either strawberry fields or dairies, the latter of course having “holdstein” cows. anyway both george and the cows are long gone. the photo shows some tangerines overhanging a neighbor’s back yard wall. i figured since i could reach them they must be public property and i did use the hooked end of my walking stick to secure one tangerine which i pealed and ate as i walked along. it was juicy but somewhat tart – i never ate a tart in spite of having dated a few in my day.

as far as my prose is concerned thanks for the complement but don’t underestimate the quality and worth of your literature. it’s meant quite a lot to me in the short time which you have been sending emails to the states. reading your exploits in a foreign country is exhilarating without my having to buy travelers checks or pack a bag. then too, please remember that i am a habitual plagiarist and have not an original thought, phrase or word in my head. having something to do as in responding to your emails has kept me from suicide as has the fact that i don’t have a license to buy a gun and furthermore think it’s a crime to have to spend $400 for a revolver to blow oneself away when for the same amount of funds one can buy a good italian dinner and a quality bottle of gettanera (sp?). if you want to seek some comfort about personal writing attributes see today’s new website http://vangoghletters.org/vg/letters.html. so far i have read about five of van gogh’s letters to his brother theo and am still searching for some special artistic or aesthetic quality which set it apart and above from, say a letter i might write to my aunt edie were she still alive today. i guess it’s like beauty, in the eye of the beholder. or then again, maybe because the originals of the letters may be in dutch or french neither of which i have a firm grasp.

funny you should mention “social security”. earlier today i composed a letter to the social security administration expressing my curiouisity as to why my mother’s monthly social security check is ten dollars less than mine. shouldn’t it be a lot less? i have to believe that i worked longer and made much more money than did she and my step-father combined. i am hoping that i have been substantially underpaid by the federal government but my suspicions are that i have not and that my paltry #1298 bucks a month is just the nature of things. perhaps working for local government for eleven plus years is the cause of my financial displeasure, astigmatism and beaten brain.

i think you are right-on with this “doom” thing! in fact i think you are overlooking an opportunity to make a bundle. you should create a (men’s) board game (e.g. monopoly) titled “doom”. i can imagine some of the squares now as i roll the dice and watch my life being fucked before me with my very own eyes. somehow i think it’s also tied in with that story-joke i emailed to you earlier today about the “husband store”. the funny part about that joke is i believe it to be 100% true which is why, i guess, it is so funny and i think the male “doom” is because we gave women the right to vote.

it would seem that we both suffer from the same malady of attaching ourselves to women who are smarter and trickier than we are. this is obviously our downfall. why couldn’t it have been women who just liked sex, have money and drink beer instead of being analytical and clever; although i personally find it unattractive to see women drink from a beer bottle or to use one for that particular obscene act although i have seen worse in tijuana.

fino alla prossima volta,

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Last night we had an East Coast style thunder-storm, full of lightning and end of the world cracks of thunder. The lights went out and we rushed around the house closing all the windows. What fun. Then, as quickly as it began, it ended except for some deep rumblings in the mountains that reminded me of Rip Van Winkle and his little men bowling nine pins and drinking beer in the Catskills. I suppose a more Thai related analogy would be appropriate. Like, the screams of the King of the Naga as it rises from the depths of the Mekong, all nine heads of it, to do battle with Rama or the Monkey King (I forget which). I prefer old Rip’s tale. By the way, did you know that the giant catfish of the Mekong can weigh up to a ton?

Yesterday I practiced driving on the wrong side of the street. I got tired of waiting for the driver for every trip to the mall I had to make to buy some toothpaste or the like. The insanity of a 70-year-old man learning to drive on the wrong side of the street and braving the impossible Thai traffic in order to go to the mall is appalling. After all, this is Thailand and one expects elephants, tigers in the bush, secretive mountain tribes deep in the jungle, dope smugglers staggering under their loads on narrow mountain paths, white sandy beaches, and elegant hotels and so on. Instead, here I am living in a subdivision with a bunch of fundamentalist Christian missionaries, the remnant of the “faith initiative”, the vanguard of the Armies of Armageddon, and loving every minute of it.

Today’s photo: me having my morning coffee.

I nope everyone is doing well.

Joe..

—————————————————————————

FROM MY JOURNAL:

January 22 2010.

Noon
Let’s jump to today. Tai called. Said the baby has been in Hospital since Tuesday. He could not keep down the milk and has a fever. Said she was at Hospital all alone. Mother not in BKK. The doctor said baby ok just a typical problem at one-month-old.

Said she did not return to my hotel because baby was throwing up and she went to Hospital. Tried to call but did not get through. Did not get note I left on her email. Needs money.

Belief??? It was Sunday night that she did not show up.

Started email correspondence with Irwin. Am enjoying it so far.

Began novel with Story Mill, first task. Stymied on second task. Cannot figure out disaster events.

Supposed to go downtown today. Natalie last night said she would call driver for 10 o’clock. At 11:30 after some communication difficulty with the maid she called someone whom I assumed was the driver. I asked him to come right away. He has not arrived yet.

He arrived as I wrote the above.

8:00pm
Went to Big C got 25,000 baht from ATM. Went to Central, ate lunch at McDonald’s. Tai called. Located BKK Bank sent her 10,000 baht. Went to Nokia shop bought Phone. Spoke with Tai again. Bought a Thai flower identification book and one for orchids. Waited for the driver. He did not come. Found taxi driver who charged 150 baht. for the same distance as airport driver charged 100 baht. Went to Hayden’s school and walked home.

Gave Hayden long thin bamboo type stick and we pretended to fish the canals. Stopped to watch two men who had spread a net in the large canal but caught only two fish.

Identified Tulip tree, Spider Lilly and a few other flowers from the book.

Hayden went bike riding with Leo and his father while I napped. Natalie arrived with driver. She seemed to be in a relatively good and friendly mood. Driver gave me the wood restoration oil spray can. Nat said it was not the right kind. Dithered to put her off.

Hayden returned, Went to restaurant in a street end in subdivision run by a 73 year old shriveled woman who had been the wife of a mayor of Chiang Mai. Ate a good but very spicy dish made from vegetables and herbs grown on site and drank a herb wine made by the woman from unknown herbs and fruits. Quite enjoyable chilled. Two of Hayden’s teachers arrived. We paid for their meals and ours. About 8 American dollars for all five meals plus wine.

Went home and now I am in bed. G’night.

January 23 2010.

2:39 am
Awoke, cannot get back to sleep. Do not feel like doing anything. Practiced typing.

10:00 pm
Waited for Cordt. Gave me the phone number of fixer for a visa. Went to the same restaurant.

Earlier went to Central. Withdrew 20,000 baht. Gave Natalie only 15,000 baht for “hot water” repairs. Got haircut. Played with Hayden constructing a new Leggo set Natalie bought for him. Used the spray can on the wood foot stool and a few other wood items. Looked pretty good will get more after Nat leaves.

Frank called. Things are looking worse for him.

Nat gave Hayden a time out. Not sure why.

Monday January 25 2010.

2PM
Natalie left at 11 AM to catch a noon flight to Bangkok. I do not know if she told Hayden she was leaving. Nikki is scheduled to arrive tomorrow.

Worked on my novel. supposedly a one paragraph synopsis. I have written about five so far and am not finished. Should go back and condense.

Tai called. Needs money. Maid called driver. No answer. Called Tai told her I will try again tomorrow.

Wrote long email to Irwin.

COMMENTS:

From Ruth Galanter:

At the risk of seeming pedantic but out of loyalty to the legend, I have to remind you that it was supposed to be Hendrick Hudson’s men bowling. Same region as Rip van W, but slightly different story. But I have the same association with thunderstorms.

I must say I’m glad I’m not driving with you while you practice driving on the wrong side of the street. Drive carefully, as “they” say.

Nice photo, but I miss the beard.

Joe’s Response:


You are right. Irving had the bowlers as H. H.’s men’s ghosts. They did drink beer though. I was recalling an illustration of the story showing the bowlers to be definitely on the short side.

I made it to the mall and back.

From Ruth:

What are you doing in the middle of a community of Christian missionaries? It’s interesting how much religions may differ but homeowner associations don’t.
Send photos from the jungles!

Joe’s Response:


They moved in after I built the house. They, of course, are all staunch Republicans.

I do not know if all religions are so different. The “People of the Book”, Jews, Christian and Muslim, appear to me mostly male centered and authoritarian. The Jews at least were forced to adopt independent interpretation as a result of the first century dispersion. The far eastern religions at least avoided the Western hard edged authoritarianism by encouraging their devotees to look inward and submit to secular autocrats instead .

More democratic style institutions appear alike because of their inevitable focus on short term minutia.

Will send pictures.

I had a back yard (or in my case a front yard) barbecue last night.

From Ruth:

You’re right, the religions differ only in superficial ways and I think the Jews may not hate as virulently as some of the others. the differences among religions sometimes remind me of the politics of academia–the less that is at stake, the greater the hostility

I am hoping one day to get my yards (front, back, and side) fixed up. I got a rain barrel through a city demonstration program, now will get a free consultation on how to do yard for optimum water conservation. Every time I look at a “water feature,” all I can see is the ticking of a meter. Same with “decorative lights” and those horrible little lights on appliances. I paid a lot of extra money to get a stove that doesn’t have a clock and little lights telling me things–unless something is on. And I’ve got my dishwasher (which I finally justified as “resale value”) plugged into the circuit designed for a garbage disposal (which I didn’t get) because otherwise it has a whole array of stinking little red lights on all the time. I know they don’t use “much” juice, but I can’t think of a reason to use any unless I’m actually using the appliance. When I left the city, one of my gifts from DWP was a desk lamp made from an old electric meter. It still works. Turn on the lamp and watch the meter chug along….the water side of the dept gave me a clock made from an old water meter, but it’s on a battery. I’m the first person not directly involved in the water services branch to have received one. Since then, I’m told, several officials have “demanded” them.

Joe’s response:

Your garden plans look like they will keep you busy for a while. I do not have any idea how green my landscaping here is. We have a pump that moves water from a well to the house. It has been suggested that we water are garden from the canal behind our house. However when I look at the putrid water in the canal it does not look so appetizing to spread it on the grass.

All male dominated organizations that rely on the unverifiable (e.g. Religion, patriotism, etc.) are authoritarian ( maybe women dominated also but we have little recent experience). Except for the fundamentalists (and maybe the Mossad), thanks to Hillel and his brethren, the jews escaped most of it.

I have imagined that the religions in their constant wars for dominance expected their opponents to feel the same way “”convert or die” and felt it was the natural way of things. Imagine when they met the jews. “what do you mean you do not want to force us to adopt your belief and in fact do not want us in your club at all unless we can show our maimed membership card. That is unnatural and therefor you must be wiped from the face of the earth.”

That’s the problem with being taught by Jesuits. You never lose your fascination with what you do not believe.

From Irwin:

joe- my walking stick and i are now going for our morning walk, completing the circuit of los jardines east to where it meets los jardines west and back to where it again becomes los jardines east (“road trip”). we will pass the 21 acre green valley park, the north pool (home of the green valley dolphins swim team), the adult pool (not heated in winter) and the family pool and center (don’t think the pool is now heated). i also pass two elementary schools which one or both of my children attended. as perhaps a forewarning about the ethnic makeup of the community, one of the schools was named after the first japanese american (from this area) to die in wwII. at that school i also had planted a tree in memory of a friend who was from turkey but killed in a car crash in laguna beach. while a cup of espresso is not on the tour i will be within say one hundred feet of a pho shop which i have yet to try – it’s two doors up from nick’s pizza which is an abysmal place which we only went to once in all of the years we have lived here. it had, as i recall, lots of spaghetti and bad red sauce plus plastic grapes hanging from the ceiling. i suspect rumors of alleged anti-semitism also helped to discourage frequent visits. after i return i shall take a nap; if i am lucky i will sleep until three when i can go visit my mother or buy a lotto ticket or goods for dinner – there is the possibility i may go to the mall and have garlic and cracked pepper french fries with a draft root beer all for under five dollars. i will also be stopping at the mail box to insert a letter to my psychiatrist in which i express my dissatisfaction with the psychiatric services i have/have not received from kaiser permanente for over forty years and explaining that i took and anti-depressant for over ten years and see no reason to take another (which he wants me to do) if he or one of his fellow wizards won’t give me the psychotherapy which i think i need in order to rid myself of deep seated emotional issues and weekly co-pay. seems their current practice is to prescribe drugs and see the patient bi-monthly to checke how the drug is working or to place the patient in a cognitive therapy group consisting of fat or ill-dressed women and one older gay guy who is having a crises because his long-time live-in is expressing discontent about something the gay guy won’t face. then there was the woman who was shacked up with this guy who was talking marriage until she passed the bar and then decided not to practice law upon which (duh) he stopped talking marriage. i need to be with mentally ill people if i’m to be in a group again.

today’s photo is of our neighbor “felix the cat”. i am far from being a cat fancier, however there is something unusual about felix i think he is a reincarnation of someone i once knew but can’t remember. here he is sitting on an old stool outside my french door in the computer room. he knows better than to poop in my yard which my gardener jose jimenez would have to ignore as he does most everything else that should be done.

From Irwin:

j.d.salinger died. aside from being notable for his writing (i.e. catcher in the rye) he was also famous for not wanting to be famous and lived in isolation for the last fifty years.

i have wanted to be famous for the last fifty years and now am living in isolation. for this i am not notable.

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