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Monday
Apr092007

Odds and Ends - Vacation edition

Saturday at Friendship Beachfrbeach.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Monday at work

deskreading.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
Back from two weeks away from the desk. Worked the EARCOS conference and took a week's actual vacation with the LWW, touring Bangkok and doing a little pool side R&R in Phuket. Some random thoughts...
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I deliberately spent as little time on the computer as my conscience would allow for the past two weeks. I estimate I spent an average of only  1/2 hour per day answering critical e-mail. One "task" I chose not to undertake was reading my RSS aggregator, and therefore, no blogs.

I skimmed over all my feeds last evening. Maybe skim is overstating it. Since I have been gone Kathy Sierra has been threatened online; (anti-) CyberBulling Day has come and gone; and Web Compliment day has passed. People are using things called Twitter and Ning- and they sound frightful. Netflix released over 200 new movie titles. The folks at LM_Net are fomenting rebellion against ALA. So it goes.

My question is "How much of this will really matter at this time next year?"

Over the past two weeks I read just for pleasure Lee Child's Without Fail, Stephen Hunter's Point of Impact, Stephen King's The Cell, and Larry McMurtry's Comanche Moon. All told, over 2500 pages of great junk. Now that's a vacation!

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On the long, long trip home, the LWW and I ran into the world's crabbiest man. We first met him at about 4AM in the business lounge at the Bangkok airport, he sat beside me on the flight from Bangkok to Tokyo, we saw him again in the business lounge at Narita airport, and he sat just in front of me on the flight from Japan to Minneapolis. About 22 hours in his company. For the entire time, I did not hear him do anything but complain - about Thailand, about the airlines, about the food at the World Club, about the flight attendants (to whom he was surly).

When I become that negative about the world, I hope somebody just up and shoots me, putting me out of my misery. What is it that makes some people chronically unhappy? 

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Phuket Island in southern Thailand has changed dramatically since I was last there in 2000.  It now boasts huge shopping malls, Starbucks (of course), and a new Vegas/Disney style show called Fanta-Sea. I can't say the change is for the better for those of us who like going places because they are different. But I am sure that for the folks living there and the typical cruise ship daytripper, the place is much improved.

Last year I found the same situation - rapid commercial development - in Chili, Beijing, Ireland and Bangkok. Everyplace but Peru (but I saw little of Lima.) The experts claim there are not the resources to support a first world lifestyle world-wide. To me, it looks like we will be testing the theory. Ear buds, cell phones and pizza commercials were ubiquitous on the Bangkok Skytrain as it moved us from Saphan Taksin station to Mo Chit and back.

On a happy note, the Friendship Beach Resort on Phuket is just small enough and isolated enough to make it charming. Run by Starr, an expat American, the place runs on what he calls "Thai time." Great food, comfortable rooms, and a laid back ambiance were everything we wanted - and needed. 
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No vacation is complete without doing something rather, well, stupid. We got our chance while exploring some sea caves in Phrang Nga Bay. thaicave.jpg (This was the setting for the last bits of the James Bond movie, Man with the Golden Gun.) We were off our larger boat and headed directly toward what seemed to be a large cliff. As the tide slowly fell, a very, very small opening appeared at the base of the cliff. Our kayak led, diving into the cave. In 15 minutes, we travelled about 100 yards, flat on our backs as the sea swell drove us to the sharp ceiling of the cave, the guide continuously shouting 'Keep low." "Keep your arms in the boat." 'Don't touch anything." and some untranslatable Thai phrases. About half way through, the guide decided he needed to let some additional air out of the little boat - much like letting air from the tires of a truck stuck under an overpass. Not exactly a claustrophobe's heaven, especially when the fading flashlight died.

The small grotto in the center of the island was magical. The trip back out less suspenseful since the tide had fallen enough to keep the roof of the cave some feet, rather than inches away. An adventure worth trying if you get the chance.

lady06.jpgThe other adventure was to the Simon Cabaret - slogan, "She's more of a man than you will ever be."  The LWW insists that some of the entertainers actually were women. I could not think of a polite way of verifying her belief.

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Back to fighting jet lag, answering phone messages, and getting caught up at work. And writing about technology and education and such.

I wonder if Starr needs an assistant resort manager? I'd work for peanut (sauce). 

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Reader Comments (2)

Hi Doug, I've just finished talking with Alice Barr who connected me to your blog for the first time. I've also just returned - to New York City after an extended visit to Wisconsin for the sad trip of my father-in-law's death after a serious illness that caused my husband to go back in forth for extended visits for the last few months. Your feelings about the backlog on the rss reader were very familiar to what I've been feeling! Every few days, we'd go to a cybercafe where our two college aged daughters would check email and keep up with college work, but I had not brought a laptop so I was out of luck with any connection! I did sneak a look at my overloaded and bouncing email account once but never even began to check the rss reader. Thank you for this wonderful post!
April 10, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterSusan Ettenheim
Hi Susan,

My condolences on the loss of your father-in-law.

Isn't it amazing just how hard it is too try to keep up anymore! I know I need to come up with some parameters or I'll burn out!

All the very best and thanks for the kind comments,

Doug
April 10, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterDoug Johnson

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