Posts Tagged ‘nature’

I’m not a big pet guy….unless they take care of themselves. I’m sharing my condo with a Gecko family of two. So far we’re getting on like a house on fire. These are a small variety, and they don’t chirp at night. Naturally I had to name the first ‘Killer’ because since they moved in we haven’t see a single mosquito. The second, which might be female, is also named Killer, because I can’t tell them apart.

The Asian Tiger mozzie variety bounces along the ground more than it flies. So the Gecko is perfectly designed. I had no Gecko’s in my last apartment and mozzies in the hidden places behind the toilet and under tables….waiting….sneaky buggers. Now….with the Gecko Army of Condo B….none…so far, so good.

The Gecko’s I have are welcome. But what if more move in? How many Gecko’s are enough?

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Our little perch in Bangkok is surrounded by a wide green space. I can smell the Gulf of Thailand on the morning breeze. The rising sun resembles an expanding supernova. Bird song and Soi Dogs are the melody of this neighborhood. 7 AM and already 90 degrees F. I hung our towels out last night and they haven’t dried. Humidity during this late monsoon month is well over 100%. What a shock to have transitioned so completely from Dallas in such a short time. We were away two years and it feels like we never left. This is the anniversary of my 40th year of coming to Thailand.

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We’ve only been back in Vancouver a week and already the walls are closing in. Fortunately we have only 8 more sleeps before we bug out to our traditional winter perch in Thailand via Hong Kong. I can’t fault the weather in BC in the time we’ve been back. The West Coast has experienced a ‘hundred year summer’ where the weather has been the best in memory. It has been warm and sunny as opposed to what we are accustomed to as normal when it rains and is mostly cloudy except for a few days now and again. It is normal for summer to occur the last two weeks of August and be raining the rest of the time. So…we got super lucky this year.

I would like to cheerlead for what has been my home town…but it’s hard to do when so little happens here. For a variety of reasons people in Vancouver tend be miserable. There’s a dearth of cultural activities and those are primarily administered by the social engineering wonks at city hall. Vancouver is not famous for it’s spontaneity. Now that the beaches have been closed due to fecal matter ( high coliform count includes hospital waste and viral waste) making the beaches and ocean a no-go zone for health reasons it’s hard to enjoy the coastline without that in mind. This is all because Vancouver continues to loose approx., 800 million liters of raw untreated waste into the waters surrounding the city every day. Yuchhh !!

I wouldn’t hurry to be a tourist to Vancouver due to the bedbug infestation of most major public buildings including hotels and hostels. Public health officials are warning people about possible rat borne diseases such as meningitis etc affecting children (and adults) due to an explosion in the rat populations. Sickening that rats have got out of control…but the famous ‘Mayor Moonbeam’ has no interest in tackling such things it seems. Video’s of the out of control rat population are abundant on YouTube. Not something any one locally is proud of…but the cities tourism mavins and politicians would have you focus on other
things…of course.

8 More sleeps….and we will wake in the Land of Yim (Smiles) …away from the malaise of Vancouver…The Land of Nod.

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What a fiasco, what an embarrassment for the employees of American Airlines. Management should be immediately replaced over the mass cancellations of flights in and around Dallas Fort Worth Airport. Less than an inch of snow and these incompetents stranded tens of thousands of travelers for days.  While management dithered over cancelled flights for days at a time all other responsible airlines were in the air and landing at DFW on the same day American went on vacation.

The official response from American was that the ice storm was at fault…but we all know that was not the reason behind the slow moving operations tangle that stranded so many people…. it  was incompetence. I suggest they hire some Canadian or European managers who don’t freak out at the first sign of snow. After all European airlines and Canadian airlines fly in the cold weather all the time…hell I taught my wife to drive in worse weather than we saw at DFW…..there is no excuse for the incompetence shown by American Airlines management.

November is a month that brings change to thousands of peoples lives who live in northern latitudes. Call them snowbirds or escapee’s, they all have one thing in common, a driving compulsion to leave the northern latitudes for sunny southern climates. The exodus of Boomers, those born between 1946 and 1964, is as predictable as the migration of birds. Leaving Canada or Finland for the winter months has become a cultural norm… a statement of your financial status. Those left behind are considered ‘unfortunate’.

Suntan holidays became popular when soldiers returning from the tropics after WWII arrived home from the Pacific with ‘sunshine skin’.  There was a huge demographic shift  in the late 1940’s when rural populations moved en mass to the cities. The balance flipped from 80%  rural and 20% urban to the exact opposite. The changing economy and increased post war wealth introduced a new aspect to the North American culture…recreation. Suntans on the streets of New York and London became a status symbol. It said you could afford to get away.

It was fashion mavin Coco Chanel that put tropical leisure on the map for the masses. She appeared on the cover of Life magazine sporting a suntan. This was a shocking display at that time, rather like a Lady Gaga moment. The confluence of adventure seeking ex-soldiers, sudden wealth and a new found societal acceptance of sunburn bloomed into a tourism crush in between the tropics of Cancer and Capricorn. It was suddenly cool and possible to winter in Mexico and the Caribbean. Aviation technology produced long range commercial passenger planes and locations like Hawaii and the South Pacific became accessible.  The cruise ship and retirement community industries were born.

In November the Boomer generation of Europe flock by the million to the southern shores of the Mediterranean, the North Americans focus is on Florida, Mexico and S.E. Asia. The post war economy has been very generous to the Boomer generation. It was a time when education and competition for seats in university was cheap and easy. Industries were still wanting for a few good men and opportunity for advancement was abundant. Inflation has made many Boomers rich with the passive holding of real estate investments. A prosperous and beneficial retirement is within sight for a great many  because defined pension benefits were once the norm.

We take the tourism industry for granted but it didn’t always exist. It wasn’t until the advent of ‘sunshine skin’ that it became possible to visit the undeveloped islands and continents of the third world. Now when  millions of tourists flock south for the winter they have forgotten the struggles of a preceding generation who didn’t enjoy the access to infrastructure available today. I shouldn’t take for granted that I can fly to Mallorca or Bangkok on a whim, because it wasn’t always  so easy. When the cold wind begins to blow we should thank a diminutive fashion mavin named Coco for the birth of modern tourism and the post war economic boom that produced the incredible wealth and leisure we enjoy.

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I’m living in one of the most under appreciated and most vilified places by foreign ( non Texan) media  the United States and loving it. Most days  we feel as if we have the place to ourselves and couldn’t be happier. The number of tourists in some  global hotspots has depreciated the quality of  traveling there….. not so in Texas.  There is so much to do here , spread out over such a huge area that crowds ( except for sports venues) are rare. The cost of living is extremely low compared to most other places I have been in the developed world and that really takes the bite out of world class travel.

We chose Fort Worth for today’s day trip. It was back in the spring when we were there last. The streets, shops, venues and bars are much more lively now that the sun is shining every day. We added the Amon Carter Museum of American Art to our list of free public facilities to our list. And guess what…the parking is also free and we didn’t have to make any advance reservations or take transit to get there!!!  ! Ft. Worth has it’s roots in the cattle industry, being the end of the Chisholm Trail of Old West fame.

On the way, we stopped at a road side diner for a traditional Sunday lunch of Southern home style cooking…   fried cat fish filets, fried okra, pecan pie and sweet tea. The catfish was excellent, spicy hot, the way it should be. Did I forget the corn bread biscuits and sweet bread rolls with honey and butter…..shame on me. Once down 26th Street in downtown Ft Worth….also known as The Stockyards… we were treated to an antique car show…many groups of street performers…and we stopped into the very famous ( if you’re a cowboy) White Elephant Saloon for a drink and some quality time holding up the bar with the locals. WARNING… MEN WEAR HATS. People have been drinking beer and playing pool to the sound of some of country musics most famous performers for decades. Sure… it’s smoky and stinks like sour beer….but the people are super friendly and you know you’re in one of the most famous Cowboy Churches in the country.

I’ve lived in a lot of places around the world…. but my travelers eye has spied Texas as one of the best destinations for  the unexpected.

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Texas is a widely diverse society. In fact the state leads all others in welcoming immigrants. Surprisingly this is not reported by the general media. Looking back I see that Texas has always been a diverse cultural melting pot. Many native American tribes resided here for tens of thousands of years beginning with the mass migrations of Clovis People after a succession of Ice Ages that swept people south. The Spanish were the first Europeans to discover the land, traveling north from Mexico.

A reverse migration of sorts brought a mixed population of Mexican, Indian, Spanish and Mestizo back to Texas in the early 1500’s. The first mass scale cattle ranching industry was established in Texas. The mixture of people clashing became Texano’s, and they came from everywhere. Small towns still carry the names of small Irish and Czech villages that hopscotched from Eastern US ports across Tennessee and Arkansas into what is today Texas. Lost in all this were the native Americans striving to maintain their dignity and identity after being rolled over by the modern world.

Yesterday Trish and I attended a Pow Wow, a meeting of people and tribes, in Grand Prairie Texas. It reminded me that Texas wasn’t always a maze of freeways and industry.

 

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