I’ve strayed from my original writing roots.  I have not written much on OTG, per se.  Nothing about wood, fish, ravens, whales and small construction projects for awhile.  So, I might get back to it.  There is some interesting stuff going on.  Or, will be going on, Inshallah.  Plus I have any number of chores and projects to get through starting pretty damn soon.

So, I thought I might first offer up an index-of-sorts to measure interest.  See what piques your curiosity.

Chore #1 is ‘getting ready to go home, getting home, settling in and getting started again’.  On the face of that, ‘what’s the big deal?’

Well, it starts with contacting the barge to stop at our place BEFORE we are there to get up the fuel and such.  No biggy.  They can do it without us.

C#2: Then I have to buy some throw-away tools, get some special paints and prepare the bottom of the boat currently parked in Victoria.  That’s gonna be a chore.  Sanding and crap.  Likely in the rain.  Then getting that same boat up the coast and launched when we get there.  That’s no biggy but we have two boats that need launching and one car that needs driving so there are some logistics involved.  But – no biggy – we’ll do it.  Just two days of moving them all about rather than one is all.

C#3: Then we have to re-stock.  When we leave for any length of time, we plan on ‘running out of food’ before departure so that there is no waste.  But we never plan right and so we end up giving away a bunch of food, staples, stuff and bother.  Again – no biggy- but, when you return, you need all that stuff again and much, much more.  And it comes in the hundreds of pounds if not half-tons.  We re-stock BIG-TIME (if we can)….tho, no biggy – just work, time and logistics and money.  This time we will likely re-stock over three separate trips.  The BIG SHOP is a tiresome chore now.

But getting re-booted doesn’t end there.  Oh, no.  C#4: Being in paradise is a life of chores and projects.  They are all enjoyable and learning and requiring planning and, more to the point, materials.  I love it but it ain’t easy.  I will soon need a three-lift barge delivery on the first of April (apt timing) for deck rebuilding, bathroom completion, gardening start-up and various maintenance and systems upgrades.  Maybe two-times the barge-three-lift exercise, another one happening on May 1.

C#5: launching book 3.  That’s a process.  Fiddly work.  Goes on and on.

C#6: finishing last years projects:  We have the third boat to finish.  I can’t even think about that right now but it is on the top ten list.  Plus making the old boat #1 – Wasabi – getting running.  That will get done on another island with schlepped tools and crap.

C#7: the funicular malfunctioned before we left and so that is listed as #7 but may be given a higher priority as soon as reality sets in.

C#8.  A bit odd, I must admit but #8 is doing some earthquake bracing.  I just have a hunch about that.  The whole of the Pacific Rim has been shifting.  We may be due.  It may be silly.  It may not.  Regardless, I have some shoring up to do on the list.

C#9, 10, 11……building projects, equipment rebuilds and some infrastructure relocation.

C#12: adding three more solar panels.

C#13….through C#20…….everything from getting in the wood to getting in the garden to renovating the boat shed, from re-insulating to some added waterworks, from another wood shed to ….well, you get the point……lots to do…..where to start…..

Focus, Dave! Focus:  Step one, get home.  Get truck.  Say Hi to those we love and miss……



Well, my worldview, anyway……Canada is still a backwater, almost an anachronism amongst 1st world countries.  We are last amongst the first.  Even Hong Kong is way, way ahead of us.  (Yes, we are now back in our old stomping grounds – Hong Kong)

“In what categories are you talking?”

Good question.  Answer: in all the categories they measure, we are last.  In all categories that I measure, we are first. 

This is what I mean: Canadians pay extra for second rate product and services and we know it.  From gasoline to housing to cell service to taxes, we pay more and we get less.  See airfares, produce, etc. Economically, we are the ‘dupes’ of the first world.

Asia is cheaper and more modern.  Way, way more efficient.  Furthermore, the HK/Chinese have modernized systems to the extent that it feels like we are in the Stone Age using pigeons for messaging and horses and buggies in which to get around.  The MTR (HK’s subway) moved more people last night than all of Canada did yesterday (not a factual statement but I’d guess well over 5M moved a good distance within a few hundred square miles last night).  An amazing feat.  They move like ants into speeding trains that are clean and fast and move a thousand people from tracks to street level in seconds.

I keep up with the news back home and read about multiple car-pileups closing highways that have fewer lanes than do the the third world freeways of Thailand!  Fact: the Trans Canada highway is still just two lanes in many places!

We can’t seem to do what they do.  Our trains fall off the tracks or get stuck in non-existent traffic.  We have two lane highways everywhere.  We have traffic lights on freeways!  We run empty buses as an attempt at public transit.  Seriously?  Give the contract to move people around the lower mainland to the HK city engineers and the traffic congestion that is from the North Shore would be eliminated within the first year and the entire lower mainland to Victoria better connected within 7.  No question.

Don’t get me wrong.  I love my BC.  I love it partly BECAUSE we don’t have all that. “Why?”  Because having all that means having all those people.  I’d rather hunt Wooly Mammoths for dinner than suffer this kind of congestion every day. It’s mind numbing.

But make no mistake – on the leading edge of the modern world, Canada is just not cutting it. But Hong Kong is.  And, get this: the HK government is awash in excess cash.  They are NOT tightening belts, they are building, constructing and shipping and manufacturing AND providing services.  These guys are busy.

What do we do?  We ship tar and raw logs to China.  We sell fish and minerals to China.  We sell our land to China.  We sell our viable companies to China. We even sell citizenship to China.  We are clearly NOT doing the right thing.  They may NOT be doing it either (see: the environment) but they are doing a helluva lot more than we are.  We are dupes led by a dope.  It is embarrassing.

Worse than embarrassing?  They will soon buy BC.

I am usually proud to say “I am a Canadian” but lately it feels a bit more like saying, “I am part of the nation whose government is not as smart as yours.”  And I feel as if that sentiment would manifest in a number of places like Japan, Singapore and maybe even South Korea.  We seem to be blessed with the resources but are somehow learning challenged.  We can’t run with even the little dogs.  It’s embarrassing.

If the path of modernity is flawed and corrupt and self destructive (like some of us suspect) being old fashioned may save us.  But, if man marches inexorably on technologically and productively (as are the modern economies invested) then we will simply fall into ‘colony’ status.

I think we are already.


I knew it

I knew there was something amiss well over a year ago.  There were simply too many stupid people showing up in comments sections and forums.  They were commenting on everything and always ignorant, racist and reactionary when they did.  The ratio of idiots to normal people was way out of proportion. At one point I even wondered if there was a small group somewhere prolifically covering every political forum and news comments section and being purposefully stupid and repugnant just for the fun of it.

In fact, it was all hinted at several years prior when some of my friends had their email lists hijacked and then weird messages were sent out under their name.  I knew that ‘hijacking email lists’ was happening but I couldn’t imagine the reason except for spamming.  I also knew that my first blog was ‘pirated’ by Russians or Eastern Europeans but I saw some ugly but only petty purpose in it since they ‘rented out’ my blog’s first (better known) name to advertisers.  Basically they stole my on-site address and put up a billboard for rent. 

It has gotten worse.

A friend sent me this link (it may not have transferred properly but you can find the article using Google): https://www.buzzfeed.com/charliewarzel/the-terrifying-future-of-fakenewsutm_term=.saYqL13yE&utm_campaign=Content%20Advisor%20Newsletter&utm_source=hs_email&utm_medium=email&utm_content=60684688&_hsenc=p2ANqtz-_BhhAULGnTvwRznvhAM9gukGiu3bSQXvE4s8WlyTTs9KCnIQ3L1cWy1QEhiC678wHuPsow_grS4j4MmdS_C6VWlHqQ&_hsmi=60684690#.tbAL46zVPLook up Buzzfeed and Aviv Ovadyda 

It seems the lies are going to ramp up.  Fake news – which already rivals REAL news – will grow.  The end result?  We do not know what to believe.  And THEN all hell can break loose. Actually, all hell has already broken loose.  See Trump run.  See Trump jump.  See Trump play.

I write this today because I have a truth to share: my second blog has not been a hit.  I get an average of about 50 readers a day.  I sometimes approach 100 but I am nowhere near the almost 1100 I used to achieve.  Mind you, some of those (how many?) were bots.  Still, I believed I had a few hundred readers.  I have no idea now.

So, the irony (for me) is that I try to write ONLY what I know to be true even if that declaration applies only to my feelings for that day.  This blog may be of no real interest to anyone but what is written is my truth (yes, I use a bit of hyperbole now and then but that’s my style).

THIS guy’s truth is going nowhere.  Kim Kardashian reigns supreme because she has a big butt.  Does any of this make any sense?

I do not think so.  Not to me, anyway.

I am starting to feel as if my continuing writing is somehow enabling a larger destructive force, an evil, diseased and doomed dystopian world of lies and deceit.  I am adding volume to a huge pile of crap that is growing stinkier by the day.

One thing is for sure.  Those of you on Facebook and other media should seriously consider getting off.  It is probably too late.  Your images, your words, your identity are all on a foreign database as I write.  That cannot be good.  And, according to OVADYA, that is enough information for newly developed algorithms and software to put live words and actions onto film that looks and sounds exactly like you.

Dave’s blog is NOT safe from that but it is so NOT popular, the information pirates are unlikely to use it. At least not tomorrow.  Why use Dave when they can give Obama a star-speaking role in a puppy-kicking video or doing porn with Hillary.  Much more likely will be more fake news that Trump will believe like the fake news Brietbart put out about Sweden last year.

I have techie friends who have hinted at and even prophesied such electronic evil over the last few years (one was so freaked out over twenty years ago, he wouldn’t say key words over a cell phone!) but they were never specific.  It was more of a general paranoia.  Not anymore.  They were right.  The slope is downhill and looks pretty dark.

Long way of saying: I may have to alter this blog, this effort at expression once again.  I may kill it.  I may change it.  I may do something else. I do not know.  Input welcome.  But it is clear that the main purpose of this is simply spleen-venting and even doing that seems to enable (in some way) the dark side of the force.  This requires a re-think.

The title is…….

….well, it’s chosen but not confirmed so I will leave it unannounced for now.  But the book is at the ‘first draft’ stage.  We got ‘er done.  For the most part, anyway.  Still messin’ with some details.

The funny thing is that first draft really doesn’t mean much to us because we really just continue to ‘worry’ the content all the time until we can’t stand looking at it any longer.  First draft sort of morphs, evolves or grows over time to yield the semi-final draft.

Semi-final draft we give to others (beta readers) to critique.  If they are honest (they rarely are) then we can make improvements rather easily, polish it up, tie a ribbon on it and let her rip.  Semi-final draft becomes the beta version after beta readers have had their way, limited as it is, as a rule. When someone does say what they think – in detail – it is a real gift. That can save us a ‘stage’.

After beta version has gone out AGAIN and all changes are finally made, we get to call it Final Draft and publish it.  It is interesting to note that ‘completed manuscript’ is not part of our vocabulary and that’s because it is never really done.  Not for us.  Like a house you built yourself, you keep seeing mistakes and, over time you address them thus making the house (or the book) NEVER EVER REALLY FINISHED.

I am guessing that Sal made a change or two to the first book (electronically, of course, but that shows up immediately in the Kindle version and any later print runs if any later runs are warranted) as late as halfway through 2017.  That first book was published in January of 2015.  That’s two and half years of tinkering and, if someone told us of yet another typo, Sal would go back in again and fix it.  Seriously, a book is never done.  Not for us.

Well, CHOOSING could be considered finished if not done.  It is finished because we are not worrying it to death.  Not at all.  It was practically still-born anyway.  CHOOSING did not sell.  It is NOT a best seller, to say the least.  Beyond resuscitation.  No hope.  Goodbye.  A dead polly.

Too bad.  I liked CHOOSING, may it rest in peace.

This third book is not yet fully baked, hatched or born.  But all the DNA is in order, the limbs are formed and the due date is foreseeable.  We can feel the contractions. This little bundle of words will come.

“What is it?”

It’s a cheap B adventure featuring two old fools and setting the reader up for a series of geriatric adventures spread over a Hardy-Geezers-type series.  Marvel meets Metamucil.  The septuagenarian Jason Bourne and his silver haired biker-chick December Bride kick butt, solve crimes and go to bed early.

“Is it any good?”

Mediocre.  Classic cheap B flick kinda thing.  NOT good enough to get picked up by Ridley Scott or Tarantino but somewhat in the Thelma and Louise style.  If OUR LIFE was a C+ (it was not but I am saying it anyway) and CHOOSING was an F, then GEEZERS is a solid C.

“Should I buy it?” 


We are three months away still, tho.


I confess that I don’t quite get it

Being here is fun.  It’s good.  I like it.  A week is great; two weeks is good; a month is a bit long but that makes for a real break from the winter back home.  I am OK with a month. Two months and I am starting to feel a little homesick.  We are coming up on six weeks.

You can guess how I feel.

Admittedly, I am homesick for the ‘Spring, Summer and Fall’ version of home so I am being a bit unrealistic pining for home at this stage.  I understand it snowed yesterday.

I am not quite ready for that.

“So, what are you trying to say so poorly, Dave?”

Well, I don’t get it.  I just don’t get what makes ex pats live here.  Seriously.  To me, being an ex-pat is understandable if you lived in Scandinavia, England or Germany because, well, those societies are rule-bound, crowded as hell and winter can be harsh there, too. Plus the cost of living is high.  Ya gotta work to live in Europe and the USA.  Canada, too.  In Thailand, officially the least miserable country in the world*, you can work part time and live well.  Better yet, you can retire on a first world pension of even modest means and live well.  Economically it makes a lot of sense. But, sheesh……

It is still third world, here.  Open sewage, petty and some heavy corruption, madness, semi-lawless, prejudice against farangs.  Weird rules and procedures.  And VERY MUCH a different culture – so much so that ex-pat old-hands still just throw up their hands and explain a lot away by saying, ‘It’s Thailand and nothing makes sense here!’

The ‘old white-guy’ with the young Thai wife is really quite a victim when you look closely.  He’s the fly.  She’s the spider.  He can’t own anything.  He can’t work.  Everything belongs to her.  He can be booted on a whim by  her or by the government.  And love does NOT keep ’em together.  Business does.  And, sometimes, kids.

Thai education and culture does not – it seems – set them up for running a business.  Farangs are regarded as essential for running a good business.  Farangs of all persuasions are wanted but white ones are preferred because they are old and retired and have money and – guess what! – they treat their wives better than do the the other farangs.

No kidding.

So, we have all these old, fat 60+ year-olds sitting at their bars or cafe tables every day while the wife and family run around doing the work but that is not the real picture.  The real picture has them managing everything in the background and financing everything mid, fore and background from their house to the kids education, from the vehicles to the business.  They are truly being ‘mined’ by the government and the wife.

“Do you care, Dave?”

No.  You make your bed and you lie in it.  I get that.  But, without the satisfaction of meaningful work, without the satisfaction of a meaningful relationship and all that in a situation where everything is NOT yours and you CANNOT sell it, what is the appeal?  Throw in C30+ degree weather even IN THE WINTER (mid 40’s at other times) and I wonder how it is that any old, fat, white guy lasts a year here.

The only answer I have found is that, if they have kids, they love their kids. If they don’t, I don’t get it.

So, I asked Mateo.  Mateo is Italian.  Been here 20 years!  Mateo owns and runs Happy Pizza (well, his wife does) and he sits in the corner of the restaurant every day.  I asked him, “So, Mateo?  You Happy?”

Bear in mind, my question was just a little playful query based on the name of his restaurant.

“Yeah.  But what is happy, eh?  I live in Italy and I am not happy so I move and moving makes me happy.  But then I am not happy with the new place so I move again. I moved a lot when I was young.  Twenty years ago I move here to get happy but, instead, I get a family and a restaurant.  So, am I happy?  Is anyone every happy?  Or do we just look for happiness?”

“Bummer, Mateo.  Hey, I was just making small talk…..”

“You find what you find, ya know?  Capiche?  You see beauty when you come here.  You see lovely beaches.  I see everyday, ya know?  I see the restaurant business, I see the same people, I see the same food and the same weather.  What is beautiful to you is boring to me but I am happy, I guess.  Are you happy?”

“Pretty much.  So, Mateo…on another note…..”

“It is a joke, my friend.  Happiness is a joke, no?  You live.  You work. You die.  I no longer look for happiness, you understand?  I have found what is happiness and it passes.  Like life, ya know?”  

“Oh!  My pizza is here.  Gotta go Mateo.  See ya again.”

“Don’t forget to order your chicken for Friday, my friend.  Friday chicken is really good.”

“Thanks, Mateo.  I am glad you reminded me.  That makes me happy.  Sorry.  Put me down for half a chicken.  See you then”.

*Bloomberg puts out a ‘MISERY INDEX’ for various world economies (I think 65 or so).  Misery is measured by a a bunch of indicators but the two main variables are unemployment and inflation.  By that wretched metric, Thailand has been the world’s least miserable country four years running.  Canada, I seem to recall, is around the 12th or so least miserable.  The US worse than that.  Venezuela is the worst or MOST miserable. 


No room for error. NONE!

Imagine a fairly wide two lane road.  Two way traffic.  On the left side (they drive on the left in Thailand) there is a ‘fluid’ lane for scooters that is generally regarded as being on the left side of the single car lane. In other words, in normal traffic the lane is wide enough for both a scooter and a car to travel.  NOT safely but ‘safe enough’.

The ‘fluid lane’ is sometimes even marked like a bike-path might be but it is not marked on most roads, only the three-lane highways.

Because most roads in Thailand are divided by medians and barriers, that means that any scooter wishing to go the other way (legally) has to travel in the wrong direction for usually half a km and then cross lanes of traffic after making a u-turn and then, maybe having to do it all again to get back to the other side.  Expedience and blind faith long ago suggested ‘cheating’ for short return trips instead and there is a steady counterflow on the far, far left side of your lane for ‘cheaters’ going counter to you. In the scooter lane, you go by them (they are in counterflow) but it is their job to give you room.  Most of them do.  NOT all.

So you have a truck or SUV a smidge too close on your one side as you beetle along at 50 kms and you encounter scooters going the wrong way on your left side doing about 30kms.  They are to the left of your usually unmarked and fluid scooter lane.  Adding to the mix is a the occasional three-wheeled, 4+ foot wide, ‘working scooter’ used to carry materials and so the counter flow can require extra space now and then.  Put another way, the single-but-generous lane you thought you shared with the car is now shared by scooters going the opposite way.

And Thais will park anywhere they want to stop.  Even on freeways.  So the ‘parked vehicle’ is always in the scooter lane and the imaginary scooter counterflow path.  Parked vehicles are like venturis.  They constrict the traffic flow even further.

Of course, some scooters are slower than others and so the quicker ones will pass the slower ones and so the counter flow may have two scooters-abreast or a 3-wheeler coming at you while, at the same time, a scooter from behind decides to pass you (between you and the cement truck).  That means the generous single lane is often occupied by four scooters and a vehicle.  Sometimes a parked vehicle, too.  That can get a bit nerve-wracking.

I confess that I have managed to adjust to it all and the above melee is something we navigate all the time.  We are acclimating.  Sal screams rarely now and has even stopped holding on real tight.  My ribs have lost the grip-marks.

Two nights ago was the exception.  That night was sheer lunacy-on-wheels, mobile-madness, death-by-Honda.  It was chaos at maximum kms.  OMG!

It was Cha am market night.  They do the Hua Hin night market-thing on a smaller scale but only on Wednesdays. And, of course, they locate the market in a smaller, tighter space with only one way in and the same way out.  Traffic is unbelievable chaos.

And then they added something new to the mix.

We, of course, were deep in the 4-vehicle flow-lanes-in-one mode of driving when lo and behold, scooters started coming at us in the opposite direction from the opposite direction car-side of the lane as well.  It seems that scooter traffic going the other way, when thwarted by traffic jams will resort to simply driving in the opposite traffic lane.

That means our fellow SUV or cement truck has a pack of scooters coming right at him.

He’s not stupid nor does he have any moral qualms about crushing the fools but, of course, instinctively he encroaches a bit on our limited space.  And we squeeze the counterflowers on our left. We all have to tighten up so the maddest of scooter drivers can drive down the middle of the road.

Of course, our lane has mad scooter drivers too and so some of our guys do the same thing to their guys.  Now we have the most death defying phenomena ever: a flow and counter flow of death-seeking lemmings in the middle of the road where there is simply NO ROOM WHATSOEVER even if everyone on both sides tightens up. Worst case: FIVE lanes of scooters and a vehicle vs FIVE lanes of scooters and yet another vehicle passing in opposite directions, at speed, at night with some counterflowing on your left and your right but all in your lane.  All this in two official lanes.

And then they make it MORE interesting.

No one ever stays in their ‘fluid’ lane.  Even the SUV/truck has to turn now and then.  So the scooters are always moving and flowing between lanes jockeying for a quicker route to the night market’s BBQ chicken and hot sauce.

Thai traffic abhors an unfilled space.  If you are five cars back from the light but there is a crack of room for your scooter, you are obliged to take it and wend your way through and past other scooters and cars until you are at the front. If you don’t, you will get beeped to move up by the scooter behind you.

At the light, the vanguard is a ten or so wide scooter pack all ready to scream off handle-bars to handle-bars across the intersection. By a silent agreement, the mothers with tiny babies and/or three children (not uncommon for four or so people on a scooter) move off rather slowly (even tho they went to the front of the pack).  The single guys are moving fast before the light even changes and those, like us, who are two up in the middle are supposed to move en masse and in unison.

“Can it get worse?”

Absolutely.  On market night the nearby shops and stalls spill out and occupy the sidewalk so pedestrians are always stepping off into traffic.  They do not look first.  Stray dogs are everywhere, too. And they don’t look either.  Scooters stop for no reason as do the cars.  Sometimes a truck stops and the driver gets out to unload stuff.  A massive swirling blob of traffic-jam results instantly from the unexpected lane-blocking.

And there is the inevitable, old Farang on a bike, too.  They are from Europe. Usually Dutch, it seems. That syndrome is weird.  “A bike is safer” goes the thinking but I don’t see it.  I just see bikes as slower moving targets.  The Thais feel the same way.

And on it goes.  Stalls of hanging BBQ being hand-wheeled into place but using the traffic lanes to do so. The odd Harley or big bike without a muffler roaring by and scaring the hell out of you.  A couple of times even the narrow counter flow lanes occupied by a truck going the wrong way.  Vehicle door openings.  At anytime and anywhere.

Last night was a bit much.  I admit that.  There were more than a few times traffic showed up when I least expected it.  When that kind of thing happens, my instincts are to go faster and find the open spaces if I can.  I break for the open field like a scared rabbit flushed from the bushes.  I know the pack of rabid hounds is behind me but if I go faster, at least they won’t run over me.  It’s an instinct, not a plan.

We got up to the market, bought dinner and got home in record time.  Fast.  Way, way too fast.  But we made it.  Some of the guests at the place we are staying walk on Wednesday nights.  “Too scary to be out there on Wednesday night.  Too slow if you take a cab.  We just go somewhere nearby on Wednesday.”   

Next Wednesday, so will we.


Re-wheeled and Fancy Free II — MORE PICS!

This is Sally writing:

So, to satisfy David’s clamoring readership, we went back to ‘the bridge’ to take some photos.

First we had to go through the seafood market to get there.

And wait for foot traffic to cross.

And bicycle traffic.

In the meantime I took a photo of the machinery used on both ends to raise the bridge, like a double drawbridge, for boats going farther into the harbor.

Finally the bridge is clear of people, dogs, bicycles, what have you, and David starts across.

In the photo above you can see the groove in the middle of the planks worn by bicycles and motorcycles.

This last picture is a little blurred because I had to jump out of the way at the last second!  David was coming quickly and my camera operates slowly. We sure know how to have fun.