September 24, 2009

and oh the places you'll go :-)

We've come a long way since my first stint in the sticks.

But after all these years my relationship with grinds to a happy halt. This platform's served me well through all the rants and raves at internet cafes-- mostly rants, given the unhappy timing of whatever grid I happen to be writing in to black out whenever I am not saving my work.

So thanks to the web designers at House32 who indulged all my confalutin ideas, just to concede to their original suggestions, my own personal website is up and running. Yey!

All future nuggets of reflection will be posted to See you there!

September 21, 2009

Please sign The Teabagger Socialist-Free Purity Pledge

I found a great new blog by a godless liberal (from which the below pledge is taken):

Print the pledge and ask all your teabagger/libertarian friends and family to sign it!

The Teabagger Socialist-Free Purity Pledge

I, ________________________________, do solemnly swear to uphold the principles of a socialism-free society and heretofore pledge my word that I shall strictly adhere to the following:

I will complain about the destruction of 1st Amendment Rights in this country, while I am duly being allowed to exercise my 1st Amendment Rights.

I will complain about the destruction of my 2ndAmendment Rights in this country, while I am duly >being allowed to exercise my 2ndAmendment rights by legally but brazenly brandishing unconcealed firearms in public.

I will foreswear the time-honored principles of fairness, decency, and respect by screaming unintelligible platitudes regarding tyranny, Nazi-ism, and socialism at public town halls. Also.

I pledge to eliminate all government intervention in my life. I will abstain from the use of and participation in any socialist goods and services including but not limited to the following:

  • Social Security

  • Medicare/Medicaid

  • State Children's Health Insurance Programs (SCHIP)

  • Police, Fire, and Emergency Services

  • US Postal Service

  • Roads and Highways

  • Air Travel (regulated by the socialist FAA)

  • The US Railway System

  • Public Subways and Metro Systems

  • Public Bus and Lightrail Systems

  • Rest Areas on Highways

  • Sidewalks

  • All Government-Funded Local/State Projects (e.g., see Iowa 2009federal senate appropriations--

  • Public Water and Sewer Services (goodbye socialist toilet, shower, dishwasher, kitchen sink, outdoor hose!)

  • Public and State Universities and Colleges

  • Public Primary and Secondary Schools

  • Sesame Street

  • Publicly Funded Anti-Drug Use Education for Children

  • Public Museums

  • Libraries

  • Public Parksand Beaches

  • State and National Parks

  • Public Zoos

  • Unemployment Insurance

  • Municipal Garbage and Recycling Services

  • Treatment at Any Hospital or Clinic That Ever Received Funding From Local, Stateor Federal Government (pretty much all of them)

  • Medical Services and Medications That Were Created or Derived From Any Government Grant or Research Funding (again, pretty much all of them)

  • Socialist Byproducts of Government Investment Such as Duct Tape and Velcro (Nazi-NASA Inventions)

  • Use of the Internets, email, and networked computers, as the DoD's ARPANET was the basis for subsequent computer networking

  • Foodstuffs, Meats, Produce and Crops That Were Grown With, Fed With, Raised With or That Contain Inputs From Crops Grown With Government Subsidies

  • Clothing Made from Crops (e.g. cotton) That Were Grown With or That Contain Inputs From Government Subsidies

  • If a veteran of the government-run socialist US military, I will forego my VA benefits and insist on paying for my own medical care

I will not tour socialist government buildings like the Capitol in Washington, D.C.

I pledge to never take myself, my family, or my children on a tour of the following types of socialist

locations, including but not limited to:

  • Smithsonian Museums such as the Air and Space Museum or Museum of American History

  • The socialist Washington, Lincoln, and Jefferson Monuments

  • The government-operated Statue of Liberty

  • The Grand Canyon

  • The socialist World War II and Vietnam Veterans Memorials

  • The government-run socialist-propaganda location known as Arlington National Cemetery

  • All other public-funded socialist sites, whether it be in my state or in Washington, DC

I will urge my Member of Congress and Senators to forego their government salary and government-provided healthcare.

I will oppose and condemn the government-funded and therefore socialist military of the United States of America.

I will boycott the products of socialist defense contractors such as GE, Lockheed-Martin, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, General Dynamics, Raytheon, Humana, FedEx, General Motors, Honeywell, and hundreds of others that are paid by our socialist government to produce goods for our socialist army.

I will protest socialist security departments such as the Pentagon, FBI, CIA, Department of Homeland Security, TSA, Department of Justice and their socialist employees.

Upon reaching eligible retirement age, I will tear up my socialist Social Security checks.

Upon reaching age 65, I will forego Medicare and pay for my own private health insurance until I die.

SWORN ON A BIBLE AND SIGNED THIS DAY OF ____________ IN THE YEAR ______________.

___________________________ ___________________________

Signed Printed Name/Town and State

September 19, 2009

slow high-speed internet woes in Cambodia

One of the important metrics used to define the burden of disease was developed by WHO. DALY, or Disability-Adjusted Life Years, quantifies the difference between the actual health status of a population and an ideal situation where all individuals live long lives free of disease, free of disability. It measures not just mortality but also morbidity, and it's a measurement based on time.


This equation expresses the years of life lost (YLL) to premature death, and concurrently factors in years of healthy life lost because of years lived with a disability (YLD). This allows for the impact of disease or risk factor to be determined in that one DALY is equivalent to one lost year of healthy life.

Given that the previous post took me 20 minutes to write but two hours to upload, I've come up with a unit of measurement to measure the burden of slow internet for an aid worker living in a developing country. Life lost to premature death, eg due to inhaling particulate matter laden with bacteria making Phnom Penh air worse than Bangkok's smog, and healthy life lost because of years surfing and uploading blog posts on slow internet.

(Slow internet adjusted life years) = (Years of Life Lost) + (Years living with Slow Internet)

Mind you, my slow high-speed connection in this Kingdom's capital is not as bad as some of the screaming fast Commodore 64 connections that other colleagues have to contend with. So kudos to the best of you who can produce creative pieces of writing amid these uninspiring conditions. I think I just grayed three more hairs. :-(

Twitter and my #followfriday list

Graphic courtesy of Ritu

Isolation is wretched dull. I miss the exposure to ideas and interaction that come with living in global cities. While there are certainly boundless gems brewing in the Kingdom, there’s nothing like the left-thinking stimulation from networks which are so totally different than you’re daily engaging with. So the varied perspectives and people who facilitate these mental bridges on twitter ... priceless.

That said, here are my #followfriday recommendations, to be continually updated.

For unique perspectives worth consideration:


China, China-US, China-West business and politics

@sagarikaghose @sardesairajdeep @priyaraju @gregorylent

India-Asia life and politics


Burma and India

@kawdess @elizrael @fustat @jerusalembureau @3arabawy
Mid-East and North Africa

@AriCostello @kevindoylejones @nelderini @atomiota


@teresakopec @dukestjournal @yatpundit @davidbadash @tomwatson

US politics (stateside perspectives)

journalism, media matters


Latin America

For their expertise / interest areas:

@jranck @fanihiman95376 @acorsin @clasticdetritus @allochthonous @yorrike
the sciences

@viirak @tharum @john_weeks
Cambodia culture and politics

Pakistan, Afghanistan

China-US business


East Asia economics

Global and alternative lifestyle / philosophies


Consumer advocacy in the US; grassroots health, safe food and farming initiatives


IT and social networks, and news on Japan and Australia

@bill_easterly @ithorpe @theroadto

Foreign aid

@kiwanja @tmsruge @gabgabgabby @whiteafrican

Social enterprising in Africa


Social networking for organisational learning


Personal finance, blogs The Simple Dollar


Philosophy and productivity, blogs Zen Habits

@skap5 @robert_banghart @skipzilla @tomwatson @tikkun44

US politics and especially the health financing reform


Smart streams of consciousness
(by location):
UK @UKProgressive @ashantiomkar @debra47

China @davidfeng @dufffader @xiaoyi @kaiserkuo @sioksiok @Damjan_DeNoble @taweili @minimum12

Vietnam @saigonnezumi @kennedypj

Thailand @chuanjeng @bm_ @photo_journ

Malaysia @llamasonic @peterpek

Japan @fatblueman

Saudi Arabia @alethe

Iraq @keemoD

Russia @MarkRPritchard

US @marabg @cwbuddha @maybellinete @olithechet @growinggold @obitod @pinkfest @suzannereed @mhaithaca @memachel @ratpoe @dakster9 @davidoberry @jimnnoke

September 17, 2009

Pchum Ben, to remember the ancestors

This is such a great photo, shared by Metro Cafe.

It is Pchum Ben in Cambodia, one of the biggest Buddhist holidays in which people visit the pagodas and bring offerings in remembrance of their ancestors. Once again there is a mass exodus from the city as the Khmer go to their provinces to visit their families, and foreigners take advantage of the many days off to flee the country.

Pchum Ben is similar to the Christians' All Saints' Day. This ritual used to be an ancient Celtic celebration called Samhain. Attempting to suppress these pagan traditions the Catholic Church created All Saints' Day (All Hallows Day) in the 7th century to christianise the event.

Other cultures have rituals for remembering their dead around this same time of year too:
  • the Pasola Festival in Sumba, an island east of Bali
  • Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) in Mexico
  • Dia de los ñatitas (Day of the Skulls) in Bolivia
  • Brazil celebrates Finados (Day of the Dead)
  • Araw ng mga Patay (Day of the Dead) in the Philippines
  • O-bon (お盆) or only Bon (), a Buddhist holiday in Japan
  • Hankawi (한가위,中秋节) is Korea's traditional day of remembrance of their dead
  • Ghost month (鬼月) in China
Safe travels on this holiday everyone!

September 11, 2009

Letter to my congressmen in support of the Public Option

Dear Representative James Moran:
The US health care system is in deplorable state. Upon repatriation for any number of reasons your ~7 million expatriates are the only citizens of OECD member countries with no social health protection mechanism in place to assist in transitioning back home.

As a voting constituent in the 8th Congressional District of VA, I respectfully urge you to vote for a strong and comprehensive public option that guarantees all Americans with the choice of a public health insurance plan, as proposed by President Barack Obama.

This reform package, which aims to provide all Americans with access to affordable health insurance, must include a strong and comprehensive public option that:

  • is available to ALL Americans on DAY ONE. Co-ops or triggers weaken the public health insurance option and make it ineffective. I ask you to oppose these proposals.
  • is national, available everywhere, provides transportability and thus a continuum of benefits.
  • has government-appointed decision-makers and thus are accountable to Congress.
  • provides substantial bargaining leverage against providers and pharmaceutical companies.

I also ask you to put a statement on your web site's home page supporting these points. As aptly stated by our fellow American expatriates in Canada: health insurance in a civilized society is a collective moral obligation, not a discretionary consumer good.

We voted for Change in 2008 and I ask that you support what voters have overwhelmingly demanded from our representatives. I look forward to reciprocal support for you on the 2010 ticket.



Look up your representative(s) in the House here.

Look up your US Senators here.

September 05, 2009

Sunset on the Mekong

It's been a while since we've seen a sunset here. After the brief lull in the rains last month, September came storming in with brilliant downpours and the energy-sapping intermittent drizzling all day long. In some provinces south and west of Phnom Penh these downpours made up for the drought. Unfortunately there was so much sudden deluge that up to 2m have been recorded in some villages around the country, and flash floods have taken about a dozen lives.

This photo above of the Phnom Penh skyline was taken from the peninsula before the rainy season started. That is the royal palace and royal viewing stage (for the November boat races during the Water Festival, or Bon Om Touk).

The riverfront is getting a massive makeover. Actually open areas around the city are getting a fantastic makeover. Khmers love it, these parks are filled every morning at the freakin' crack of dawn with groups assembling for exercises. It's the popular hangout for inexpensive dates, loitering, families taking their kids out to fly kites, getting some street food and gaping at the water acrobatics at the fountains. Aren't these colors brilliant?

September 02, 2009

Dramatic skies in rainy season

There was a brief lull in the rainy season as usual this past August. But the rains are back in full swing again. The Mekong and Tonlé Sap Rivers are swollen rich from the monsoons up north. The Tonlé Sap River, which meets the Mekong towards the south of Phnom Penh in front of the Royal Palace, reversed directions about three or four times already, but volume and flow reversal has been weak due to dam building in China and Laos, north of Cambodia.

(In dry season flow in the Tonlé Sap River is southeast to the Mekong River. But with high volume on the Mekong during wet season it backs up the Tonlé Sap River, causing it to reverse its flow and fills the Tonlé Sap Lake in the northwest section of the country. This is one of the largest freshwater lakes in Asia and is Cambodia's most prominent geographic feature.)

We have our very first skyscraper, prominent above in the first picture just to the right of Wat Phnom, against the dramatic rain clouds. The first two photos are of the Phnom Penh skyline from Maxine's Bar (or "Snowy's" to some) across the Japanese bridge, on the peninsula. The others are around our neighborhood (all were taken by Keith Kelly). Hard to capture lightning on film eh?

July 27, 2009

our resident tukei gecko

Isn't Fred the cutest tukei gecko ever?? Except he's a SHE! LOL! Just saw her little ones yesterday, they're feisty like mommy!

Fred is about 6inches around her tummy, 10inches long to the end of her tail. She's been a regular at our place for years. Or should I say, WE've been regulars at HER place for years LOL!

July 22, 2009

Celestial dance of 22 July 2009

A dismal overcast day spawns in the Kingdom. The mighty Mekong bucks and swells with all the world's rage. Celestial beings roar.

Across the land village radios quiver with the news: the Eye of God cometh. Today a dark day falls. None shall be spared.

Humans and fortune tellers and witches scurry about their paltry rituals and offerings to stave the impending doom. But the cauldron of the heavens boils and bubbles. In just moments the essence of wrath will descend upon earth to end this corrupt age of Kali. Lesser clouds sent by a kindly small (unknown) Hindu god for Cambodia's meager comfort cower as the lunar transit arcs straight into the solar spectrum.

om shanti..... Om Shanti.... OM NAMAHO SHIVA!!

[looks to see if you, reader, are still watching....]

Well. Thunderclouds rage also in my thoughts. There goes my view of the solar eclipse. Would be nice to see the arc of the cosmos hurtling us towards our destruction, at least.

[sulks. chucks a used tissue over the balcony... and the used tissue chucked over the rail blows into my downstairs neighbor's balcony.]

[a small smile escapes.]
This day may yet improve. :-)

---- update at 12:05pm, after the eclipse:

Our six and a half minutes of solar eclipse was watched by many of my friends, thanks to my news flashes on Facebook. Here below is a picture taken by Dave Coolio, since for part of those six minutes I was called into someone's office for a minor query. :-(

Also why Dave felt the need to point out the obvious in the photo is beyond me.

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