28 February 2007

Quotidian Efficacy

I started a new blog today--Quotidian Efficacy, named after two of our favorite davehickeyan mannerisms. It's really just an online recipe book for ourselves in blog format, but it might be of interest/use to other people, and the labeling should serve as a decent index. So far I've posted a yogurt recipe. Happy cooking.

25 February 2007

Solar Dehydrator

We've been taking advantage of the hot/dry season, and making sun-dried tomatoes on the balcony. As an experiment we also made a passive-solar convection dehydrator out of a couple of old boxes. Unfortunately we don't have an ideal place to put it, and it only gets direct sun for about five hours a day. Our first trial batch of bananas is up on the top balcony, waiting for daylight. We'll let you know how it works.

100 Thai Dogs 21-24

23 February 2007

100 Thai Dogs 17-20

The Corporation


Sorry for the momentary break in our 100% puppy program, but the other night we watched The Corporation, and I felt it might be worth recommending to interested individuals. I'm sure the title makes it fairly clear that the message was rather anti-corporate. There was a fair amount of spin, naturally. For instance, in the coverage of the Bolivian Water Wars over the privatization of Bolivia's water utility, the assertion that it was illegal to collect rain water was presented without any qualification. Granted, this information was part of an interview with one of the protest leaders, and should be taken in context. Unfortunately it served to obscure a truth that was no less outrageous. While it was in all likelihood not illegal to collect rainwater, Bechtel did have the right to appropriate smaller, community water projects that had been paid for with community or private funds, to install water meters on those projects, and charge residents for the installation of the meters. I guess when you expect to extract a 15-17% profit from a 3rd world water utility, you'll do whatever it takes.

One of the key benefits of incorporation is the fact that the corporation is treated as a legal person. In the film this legal fiction is employed as a literary conceit, building the case that if a corporation is a person, that person is psychotic. It occurred to me that this concept of legal personhood, and the way in which that personhood is manifest, is rather like the occult concept of an egregore, or "thought form" (as it turns out, whoever wrote the Wikipedia article had the same idea). This reminded me of a podcast I heard about a guy who, operating under the assumption that an egregore is an independent entity and can therefore be acted upon in the same way as an individual, cast a love spell on Fox News (so if Fox News isn't giving you the same "fair and balanced" conservative propaganda that you've come to expect, blame it on Jason Louv). There seems to be something to this, and the term egregore may just be a wacky name for a very real phenomenon. Several of the interviews in The Corporation are conducted with CEOs and board members of large corporations that have committed immoral acts under their watch. The one commonality linking all of the interviewees is their sincerity, their belief that they are moral men, concerned for human rights, the environment, and justice. Think for a moment of Bill Gates (not featured in the film). Based on his charity work I think it would be fair to assume that he is a moral and concerned individual, dedicated to improving human life on a very fundamental level. Yet the company he founded is a petulant monster. Are we to assume then that Bill Gates is not in fact a moral individual, but is himself a petulant monster in disguise? Not necessarily. The incorporation of Microsoft (and any other corporation for that mater) is the legal and metaphorical "embodiment" of an entity whose primary purpose is to make money. That is not its sole purpose, but those secondary purposes serve to differentiate it from its competitors (i.e. it is a software company, not a hardware company; it engages in legal commerce, rather than robbing banks or trafficking drugs), and are therefore ancillary. The act of incorporation is the delegation of responsibility and liability to a collective entity with little or no motivation to act responsibly or morally. The corporation desires to make money, and it will do so through any means possible, as long those means do not compromise its ability to continue to make money, provided it doesn't get caught. Turning such a behemoth around requires a concerted act of will (contemporary magic is often thought of in those terms), essentially, the addition of new input into the component elements of the egrigore, or the inoculation of radical new values into a corporate culture.

JR let us borrow the movie, and has had some thoughts of his own regarding corporations. He thinks they should all be reincorporated as not-for-profits, though not necessarily with 501(c) status. I think that shareholder status should be extended to more stakeholders (starting with employees), and that aspects of direct democracy be put into practice at critical points in the day-to-day operations of a company. I can only imagine what it would have been like back at old VMSC if the entire company voted on whether or not to take on a particularly obnoxious client. It would have put an end to the constant blame game, since all of us would have been responsible for taking the son of a bachelor on.

100 Thai Dogs 13-16

Here at Nofolete we are 100% dedicated to providing you with 100% puppy* content, guaranteed.

*Due to the seasonal scarcity of puppies, puppies will at times be replaced with somewhat older puppies, "dogs" in common parlance. If "dogs" become unavailable for any unforeseen reasons, they will be replaced with cats. Lacking cats, puppy-like rats may be substituted. Due to the seasonal scarcity of rats, they will be replaced with puppies. This note constitutes an EULA. Reading, glancing at, or thinking about reading any part of this EULA releases Nofolete and its authors from all guarantees regarding the provision of "100% puppy" content, and also releases us from any liability due to false or misleading statements that may or may not be made in this EULA.

20 February 2007

18 February 2007

100 Thai Dogs 1-4

Comments or Puppies?

The fact that my "alien abduction" story doesn't merit any comments is a bit disheartening. Actually, most of my favorite posts never get commented on. I guess from here on out I'll start blogging about puppies. It will the all puppy blog. All puppies, all the time. 100% puppies. Puppies 200 proof. You want puppies? We got 'em. Nobody here but us puppies. Where's the content? Don't ask me, I'm just a puppy.

Didactic Writing and Aesthetic Bliss: Lost, Huxley, Nabokov, Rand, Jeanne-Claude and Christo

J and I are pretty big fans of Lost--though recently we have been bothered by the steady disappearance of minorities from the cast; new characters like "Bobble-head," "Haircut," and "Boobies" annoy us to death; and we have mixed feelings in general about what I have dubbed "the Fantasy Island Season." We're not such big fans that we wasted last summer on the Lost Experience AR game, but big enough that we will read books that inspired the show, if they happen to be free. Well, an abused and coverless 99¢ Bantam paperback of Aldous Huxley's Island happened to be living in this house when we got here. Years ago I was absolutely enthralled by Brave New World (hey, I was fourteen), Huxley's distopian 1932 novel. While I'm sure Brave New World isn't half as good as Dane@14 might have imagined, Island was positively tedious, a 295 page sermon topped with an acid-trip (mushrooms, actually). Maybe I just prefer distopias to utopias, as I found B.F. Skinner's Walden Two equally tiring, and I read it shortly after Brave New World. I seem to remember thinking the title was misleading. Being a huge fan of the real Walden I must have imagined the book would have practical advice on growing beans, building a cabin, and finding your own pond beside which to build said cabin. It's also severely lacking in aesthetic bliss, something Walden, has in abundance (though not without it's share of tedium, according to some--skip the first chapter, I like it, but it tends to scare people off). I'd say that most utopian literature, in it's effort to remake the world, falls into the trap of didactic writing, or the "literature of ideas." Distopias, however, free from the restraints and conventions of some rigid notion of perfection, allow their writers to wander freely in search of whatever forms might be most appropriate, most novel, and most beautiful.

In his 1956 essay "On a Book Entitled Lolita" Nabokov wrote the following:

There are gentle souls who would pronounce Lolita meaningless because it does not teach them anything. I am neither a reader nor a writer of didactic fiction, and, despite John Ray’s assertion, Lolita has no moral in tow. For me a work of fiction exists only insofar as it affords me what I shall bluntly call aesthetic bliss, that is a sense of being somehow, somewhere, connected with other states of being where art (curiosity, tenderness, kindness, ecstasy) is the norm. There are not many such books. All the rest is either topical trash or what some call the Literature of Ideas, which very often is topical trash coming in huge blocks of plaster that are carefully transmitted from age to age until somebody comes along with a hammer and takes a good crack at Balzac, at Gorki, at Mann.

Nabokov wrote his share of distopian fiction, from Cincinnatus C.'s private torments in Invitation to a Beheading (he was convicted of the bewilderingly obtuse, yet aesthetically precise crime of "gnostic turpitude"), to the circular machinations of "Ekwilist" totalitarianism in Bend Sinister. Even Pale Fire, in my opinion his best novel (though Invitation to a Beheading is the one I'd take home with me), while not explicitly distopian, grows from the rich soil of Invitation to a Beheading and Bend Sinister. Somehow the freedom Nabokov sought as a writer was to be found in the bad place, rather than no-place.

Years ago I imagined I had a bone to pick with Ayn Rand, America's other Russian writer (interestingly, it seems she was friends with Nabokov's younger sisters). I read The Fountainhead and The Romantic Manifesto shortly after my mission for the LDS church, and her philosophy of selfishness was not something I could merely shrug off, or interpret with anything but strict literalism. This was a few years before the word "blog" had even been coined, so my grand scheme was to write a scathing review on Amazon.com. Though I never actually posted it, I did write a review of sorts, fragments of which survive in my sketchbooks from the time. I accused her being an intellectual bully (i.e. if you're not with her you're pinko), of being paranoid, and I made what I imagined were subtle implications, stating that the one piece of real sculpture most like the fictional sculpture of Dominique was created by a fascist (not to mention her penchant for übermenschen). In some ways I've mellowed in the intervening nine years, enough that I thought I might give her another chance. Altas Shrugged happens to be living here, too, at the moment, and I tried reading it, but the indelibly violet hues of Rand's prose drove me away. Which brings me back to the quote by Nabokov.

Nabokov's prose is, by all means, florid. Yet, in it's adamant refusal to "teach" us anything, it is somehow more honest, and in the end actually teaches us more. Rand's prose, on the other hand, is like the sugar coating on an Advil. It helps it go down, but don't you dare suck on it. I suppose thats the difference, one is a real meal, while the other is medicine (and mis prescribed at that). By way of comparison, here are a few paragraphs from each writer, one of Rand's passages from the first chapter of Atlas Shrugged, and the first few paragraphs of Nabokov's Speak Memory:

The great oak tree had stood on a hill over the Hudson, in a lonely spot on the Taggart estate. Eddie Willers, aged seven, liked to come and look at the tree. It had stood there hundreds of years, and he thought it would always stand there. It's roots clutched the hill like a fist with fingers sunk into the soil, and he thought that if a giant were to seize it by the top, he would not be able to uproot it, but would swing the hill, and the whole of the earth with it, like a ball at the end of a string. He felt safe in the oak tree's presence; it was a thing that nothing could change or threaten; it was his greatest symbol of strength.

One night, lightning struck the tree. Eddie saw it the next morning. It lay broken in half, and he looked into its trunk as into the mouth of a black tunnel. The trunk was only an empty shell; its heart had rotted away years ago; there was nothing inside--just a thin gray dust that was being dispersed by the whim of the faintest wind. The living power had gone, and the shape it left had not been able to stand without it.

Years later, he heard it said that children should be protected from shock, from their first knowledge of death, pain or fear. But these had never scared him; his shock came when he stood very quietly, looking into the black hole of the trunk. it was an immense betrayal--the more terrible because he could not grasp what it was that had been betrayed. It was not himself, he knew, nor his trust; it was something else. He stood there for a while, making no sound, then he walked back to the house. He never spoke about it to anyone, then or since.

The candle rocks above an abyss, and common sense tells us that our existence is but a brief crack of light between two eternities of darkness. Although the two are identical twins, man, as a rule, views the prenatal abyss with more calm than the one he is heading for (at some forty-five hundred heartbeats an hour). I know, however, of a young chronophobiac who experienced something like panic when looking for the first time at homemade movies that had been taken a few weeks before his birth. He saw a world that was practically unchanged--the same house, the same people--and then realized that he did not exist there at all and that nobody mourned his absence. He caught a glimpse of his mother waving from an upstairs window, and that unfamiliar gesture disturbed him, as if it were some mysterious farewell. But what particularly frightened him was the sight of a brand-new baby carriage standing there on the porch, with the smug, encroaching air of a coffin; even that was empty, as if, in the reverse course of events, his very bones had disintegrated.

Such fancies are not foreign to young lives. Or, to put it otherwise, first and last things tend to have an adolescent note--unless possibly, they are directed by some venerable and rigid religion. Nature expects a full-grown man to accept the two voids, fore and aft, as stolidly as he accepts the extraordinary visions in between. Imagination, the supreme delight of the immortal and the immature, should be limited. In order to enjoy life, we should not enjoy it too much.

I rebel against this state of affairs. I feel the urge to take my rebellion outside and picket nature. Over and over again, my mind has made colossal efforts to distinguish the faintest of personal glimmers in the impersonal darkness on both sides of my life. That this darkness is caused merely by the walls of time separating me and my bruised fists from the free world of timelessness is a belief I gladly share with the most gaudily painted savage. I have journeyed back in thought--with thought hopelessly tapering off as I went--to remote regions where I groped for some secret outlet only to discover that the prison of time is spherical and without exits. Short of suicide, I have tried everything. I have doffed my identity in order to pass for a conventional spook and steal into realms that existed before I was conceived. I have mentally endured the degrading company of Victorian lady novelists and retired colonels who remembered having, in former lives, been slave messengers on a Roman road or sages under the willows of Lhasa. I have ransacked my oldest dreams for keys and clues--and let me say at once that I reject completely the vulgar, shabby, fundamentally medieval world of Freud, with its crankish quest for sexual symbols (something like searching for baconian acrostics in Shakespeare's works) and its bitter little embryos spying, from their natural nooks, upon the love life of their parents.

Both of these passages deal with time, intuitions regarding eternity, mortality, a desire to rebel against nature, or a corresponding sense of betrayal. Nabokov, in his disdain for Freud, manages to shed some new light on the realm of Thanatos and the mirror terrors of darkness (or the unknown, depending on you religious persuasion) framing mortal life. Rand, on the other hand, in language fit for an adolescent serial, presents us with a modernist allegory of human strength contrasted with the decay of nature. It is perhaps her genius, as a female writer, to endow her character with a stereotyped case of castration anxiety. In fact, she seems obsessed by phallic symbols of power, "great oak tree[s]," trains, skyscrapers, the generative powers of masculine industry (a simple perusal of the comments on almost any popular blog will readily expose one to the hyper-masculine folly of the randian superman). In someways she is a proto-Performatist, too poorly situated historically to have absorbed the postmodern virtues of tolerance and play. Nabokov, however, presents us with a subject that is more permeable. His world is one of continuous glissement, an eternal renegotiation of terms, an infinite game. Even Cincinnatus C., who's essence we may imagine to be more real than that of those around him (much like a randian hero), is permeated by his love for his inscrutable (and perhaps impenetrable) wife, his fraught friendship with his executioner, his nascent infatuation with his jailer's daughter. Cincinnatus's crime, as mentioned above, is "gnostic turpitude," a bafflingly vague term for which I offer two interpretations. Turpitude, of course, means wickedness or depravity, while gnostic, in its use here as an adjective, could refer to either one's essential nature, the sparks of being which emanated from deity, or, more conventionally, to a secret knowledge which sets one apart from the rest of humanity. Both readings of his crime could serve to identify him with Rand's heros, the creative geniuses of commerce and industry, isolated and derided despite their integrity and discernment. Cincinnatus has no peers, Roark likewise has few if any (his relationship with Dominique is hardly evenly yoked, she must first be taught, re-formed in his image). However, Nabokov does not set out to teach us anything, does not hold up his characters as exemplars of a moral life, while Rand does, and emphatically so.

As much as I enjoy deriding Rand and championing Nabokov, I still have to ask myself if there might be something wrong with his, and therefore my, assumptions about didactic art and aesthetic bliss. This past summer I was fortunate enough to attend a talk given by Jeanne-Claude and Christo as part of their show at the Austin Museum of Art (perhaps one of the most miserable little museums in Texas). At the beginning of the Q&A portion of the talk Jeanne-Claude, in her bad-cop role, stated very specifically that they would not answer questions about politics, religion, or anything of that nature. Their art, as they have stated in the past, is not intended to be political in any way, but instead is designed to bring greater aesthetic bliss into the world. I appreciate their position, and feel it is certainly appropriate for someone who escaped communist Hungary by hiding in a truck (Christo), nearly starved to death during WWII (Jeanne-Claude), or who's father was wrongly killed in a bungled assassination attempt on another man (Nabokov). However, I cannot escape my gut reaction that their desire to be strictly apolitical in this day and age is somehow quaint. Vladimir and Vera Nabokov were terrified of student protests during their stay in the United States. Understandable since both had experienced firsthand the rise of Communism in Russia, and Fascism in Germany. Christo and Jeanne-Claude are a generation younger than the Nabokovs, and while entitled to their desire to separate Art and State, it may not be the ideal position for younger artists. Though, it should be made clear that having a political or social agenda does not automatically mean that one is a creator of didactic art, but one might be running perilously close to the edge.

Some years ago I had an argument with a friend, an agitator for "indie" art in her own community of home-schools and founding-father style statesmanship, over the use of the propagandistic mode in art. It was her opinion that art should be used for the good of the nation, to promote values based on the classics and scripture. Having grown up confronting the notion that the role of art was to provide tacky illustrations for church magazines, the idea that art should somehow be put to some good work, however moral it might be, was repugnant. I held, and I still hold, that the true value of art is to provide an unencumbered space in which to work out one's difference, whatever that may be, and in whatever form it may take. Though my ideas about what constitutes an unencumbered space have certainly changed over the years, I do not think one's artistic practice should merely be an ideological outlet for a "quality" education. To return to Christo and Jeane-Claude, while their art as seen is essentially formal, and, as stated, is not intended to make any type of political or social statement, their practice embodies a number of values regarding fiscal, social, and environmental responsibility. They fund the projects themselves. They investigate the community where the work is to be installed and seek it's approval, often on a door to door basis. The fabrics and other materials they use are recycled, so that hopefully nothing ends up in a landfill. This type of artistic practice goes deeper than politics, and is based on a notion of personal responsibility that one wishes were universal. But the artworks themselves do not contain any such message, they are monumentally formal objects, designed to disarm us with their beauty, rather than teach from a position of moral authority.

People like B.F. Skinner, Aldous Huxley, and Ayn Rand are unable to break free of the ideological constrains they put on their art. They are propagandists for their own cause, giving the framework priority over its content, and letting beauty fall by the wayside. Thoreau, Nabokov, and Jeanne-Claude and Christo place beauty first, allowing their values to find expression naturally in the context of a complete and undamaged work of art. What exactly beauty is is not a subject I'm prepared to tackle at the moment. For now, I'll just have to play the philistine--I don't know much, but I know what I like, and I much prefer beauty to moralizing.

14 February 2007

Um Beijo e um Abraço


12 February 2007

Thinking Online: Humanzees, Dimetheyltriptamine, and my Alien Abduction Story

When I was two we moved, briefly, to Dallas for a summer internship. We moved there for good the following year. All my memories from the time of the internship seem to happen at night. After being put to bed I would often lay awake for an hour or so. I had a pair of wind-up toy robots which I called Reddy and Bluey. As I lay there in bed Reddy and Bluey would start to walk across the room, along with other toys. I wasn't so bothered by the robots, since they were wind ups, but the Legos, that was a little strange. Eventually these nighttime hallucinations became more elaborate and began to inform my dreams thematically.

My bed was tucked into a corner of the room, touching the walls on the right side and at the foot. One night a group of monsters, or aliens as I thought of them, surrounded the bed and began to walk around it. The aliens had strange faces, all different, and were two dimensional (which makes me think the whole event may have been caused by cars driving around in the parking lot with their lights on), allowing them to slide smoothly between the bed and the wall. They were actually quite similar to the urSkeks in The Dark Crystal, but that film was released in 1982, and this happened in 1979. When the aliens appeared I was unable to move, but I did manage to call out to my parents in the next room, who's answer was something along the lines of "We'll worry about it in the morning." This particular hallucination set off a series of alien dreams quite similar to classic abduction stories coupled with absurd dream logic. In them I was continually on the run, or being carried around by men in silvery suits and helmets with dark faceplates. I may have been in a ship in some of the dreams, but in the one I remember most vividly I was in an oneiric version of our apartment with an altered floor plan. I was sitting on my parent's bed in their relocated bedroom playing with my sock-monkey (I think his name was George). At some point the room became illuminated by a red light that had no obvious source, as though it came from the floor (I was fascinated by lava). One of the spacemen popped up from behind the bed, but apparently couldn't get me as long as I stayed in the center of the bed and didn't go near the edges. I continued playing with the sock-monkey, and during our game he misbehaved in some unspecified way. I punished him by throwing him off the bed, which broke the magic circle, and meant that the aliens could get him, and me. One jumped up on the bed and began to carry me off. I tried to call out, but couldn't speak. I have no idea what happened after that. I seem to remember being carried down the hall, perhaps onto the ship, or maybe I woke up.

Never did I imagine these were actual abductions, I took them for what they were, hallucinations and dreams. I had another batch of similar experiences when I was a teenager--sleep paralysis, autoscopic hallucinations, I even spent an entire night inside Pavel Tchelitchew's Hide-and-Seek. Those experiences along with the "abductions," have formed part of my personal mythology, somewhat along the lines of Joseph Beuys's personal mythology, I just don't give lectures on them or present them as facts.

The other day I had a chance to rethink these experiences thanks, in part, to the network structure of the internet, and something I would like to call "thinking online" (though "daydreaming" might be more appropriate). I was researching human-ape hybrids, of all things. I'm fascinated by hybrids, by the fluidity of genes, and their ability to cross our imposed boundaries of species, and even genus. For a short time I had a cat that was an F1 Bengal. Bengals are actually an inter-genus hybrid of the the common house cat (Felis catus) and the Asian Leopard Cat (Prionailurus bengalensis). Like most cat hybrids the first few generations of males tend to be sterile, and huge, as is the case with ligers and tigrons.

Six or seven million years ago the line of apes that was to become genus Homo split off from the relatives of modern chimps (genus Pan) and for 1.5 million years they were separate species. At that point the two groups reunited and hybridized, the evidence being found on the X chromosome. This would seem to indicate that the hybridization resulted in fertile females and sterile males (as is the case with the aforementioned cat hybrids). In the 1920s Soviet scientist Ilya Ivanovich Ivanov began a series of ethically dubious, and ultimately unsuccessful, experiments to create a human-ape hybrid. One of the motivations behind such a hybrid is that the resulting creatures would be suitable for dirty, dangerous, and degrading work that "real" humans would like to avoid (umm, robots?). In my googling on the topic I came across a number of interesting stories, including that of Kelpie Wilson, author of a novel about a human-bonobo hybrid. During the writing process she became so obsessed with the idea that she came close to procuring bonobo sperm and trying the experiment herself. I also stumbled across the image on the left on a white-supremacist website (which I refuse to link to). Taken in the 1930s, it is of a North-African man, called Bassou by the Berbers who lived nearby. Information on Bassou is nearly impossible to find, most of it on white supremacist websites of dubious origin and despicable intent. Apparently he lived alone, could not speak, and lived on fruits and insects. It is my opinion that he was simply a lonely, probably microcephalous, human being. Not a hybrid, as alleged.

Many of my searches on poor, maligned Bassou did include the word "hybrid," which generated results including the alien-human hybrid theories of Dr. David M. Jacobs. The fact that a professor of history at Temple University would endanger his career on that sort of thing piqued my curiousity, naturally. Eventually that led me to the Wikipedia article on "self-transforming machine elves." Machine elves are entities encountered by Terence McKenna while tripping on dimethyltriptamine, and in some ways are similar to the classic grey aliens of Roswell fame. Supposedly these machine elves create reality as we perceive it through their constant dance. About twenty percent of all people who take DMT as a drug (it is actually a naturally occurring substance in the human body, related chemically to seratonin and melatonin) experience hallucinations much like McKenna's, and nearly identical to the experiences had by alien abductees. Naturally occurring DMT has also been linked to such things as sleep paralysis and a feeling that one is not alone (when one in fact is). Those phenomena felt mighty familiar when I read about them. What amazes me now is not so much the experiences, which in a way are quite run-of-the-mill, but the fact that frivolous research on humazees could lead to a tenable explanation for one of the central mysteries of my childhood.

09 February 2007

Ex Matris

We are overjoyed to announce that my sister Teal saw fit to bring a pair of grandparents, two uncles, two aunts, three great grandparents, and a great-great-grandmother into the world this week (and that's just on her side of the family) with the birth of her son Magnus Edmund Chidester. For a while there was some controversy over the name, but it has been confirmed, it is Edmund with a "u" not an "o." As with most significant events in Teal's life we are far, far away. Matthew sent us photos though, and we are thrilled for them. Let's hope he and Teal can get some rest.

06 February 2007

Geological Strata from the Anthropocene

I don't like to us this blog just to point to cool things I found on the Web (even though some people seem to think that's all blogging is supposed to be); however, this post on Geoff Manaugh's BLDGBLOG, reprinted from Blend, is both amazing and hilarious. It must be read by absolutely everyone I know. It gets best down towards the end--strata of mineralized plastics from the Anthropocene.

04 February 2007

Neofelis nebulosa

Last weekend we went to the Chiang Mai Night Safari (we had a free ticket) and visited the little walking zoo. They had several animals you don't usually see in zoos in the the US, and we were able to get closer to them, too. Over the next few weeks I'll be posting short videos of some of the animals. The first is the clouded leopard, a critically endangered native cat here in south-east Asia, and a famously good tree climber with an unbearably cute bark/chirp.

02 February 2007

San Kamphaeng Hot Springs

On Wednesday after work we drove east out of town towards San Kampaeng, and then north from there to Thailand's egg strewn answer to Yellowstone. There is a small thermally active valley there full of sulfur rich hot springs. Any natural features that once existed have been destroyed, and the 105˚ C water gets piped around to little basins which people use to boil eggs (the egg boiling is such a popular gimmick with the Thai that they have a fountain featuring giant chicken and quail eggs), and two fake geysers. The cooler water has been channelized, so you can soak your feet while you eat your eggs. They also have private cabins with Japanese style baths where you can take a mineral soak for 200 ฿ an hour. After the bath Jami told me I looked younger. When I asked how much younger she said, "Younger than when we met." That was six years ago, so the water really worked some magic on me. I think it's because my back didn't hurt (I've gotten to where I hardly notice the near constant pain). May be I should see a chiropractor.

At Yellowstone we always joke about looking for the pipes. At San Kamphaeng they're out for all to see.

On my way to six years younger.