Thursday, January 29, 2009

Giving 110%...

A funny little opinion piece from this morning's SMH Online about language and sport.

Click here.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Ever wondered how old you are?

Try this link:

It basically work out how long it has been between two dates. I'm 9,219 days old and have been going out with Clare for a blissful 169,171,200 seconds.

Nerdy, yes. But brilliant if you're trying to work out how many days/minutes it’s been since you were married, been travelling, or your last alcoholic drink…

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The José way

One benefit of living over here is that when ‘western’ style events happen, it’s not too hard to get involved.

East Timor’s President José Ramos-Horta recently visited Bangkok as part of the International Peace Foundation’s ‘Bridges’ speaker program. The program is bringing some of the world’s most acute minds across the Asia-Pacific region to talk about world affairs under the umbrella of peace.

For twelve bucks I was able to roll out of bed on a Sunday morning, wipe the sleep from my eyes, and listen to Professor Ramos-Horta, the 1996 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, speak at the Foreign Correspondent’s Club about all things peace and foreign affairs. Cool.

Professor Ramos-Horta is one incredibly intelligent bloke. He chatted off the cuff for a couple of hours on everything from microcredit schemes, what the Middle East needs to do to solve its troubles long-term, Iraq, Cuba & the US, Australia’s refugee policy, East Timorese civic and national development, maritime protection and border security in the Timor Sea.

What I found most interesting, alongside themes in my current reading of Bill Clinton’s ‘Presidential Years’, was what life was like as a national leader dealing daily with diplomacy at home and abroad. Admittedly, East Timor is miniscule when it comes to world super-powers, but its recent independence and proximity to the Muslim world has cast Ramos-Horta into the international spotlight.

His opinions:

Myanmar and Cuba
The US and EU should review their policies to impose sanctions on Myanmar and Cuba, with a view to generating peace in the long term. Apparently he has stated his case at the UN quite fervently on this. I don’t know enough about the issue to agree or disagree, however I don’t know if a full removal would be the best course of action in the two countries at this time. Interestingly, he’s also apparently good pals with Fidel and Raul Castro, stopping in on them recently when he visited in Cuba.

East Timor
Apparently things are doing well there, however for the bloke in charge of a country to say otherwise would be irresponsible. Apparently last month, the United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations reportedly warned in a report that East Timor is at "risk of anarchy" if its economic problems are not addressed. East Timor is also among the world's poorest nations, with unemployment at about 50 percent.

Amanda Vanstone
When preparing for his first dealing with the then Federal Minister, he was apparently surprised when he had heard from other people in the diplomatic world that she could be likened to an ‘older version of Kylie Minogue’!!

East Timorese Labour
An interesting argument for East Timorese labour to be placed in the Australian countryside on seasonal visas, arguing that it would solve problems for both countries. Could it also be creating more problems for Australia though?

He didn’t fully endorse the military actions in Iraq and Afghanistan, however he did state that the dissolution of Saddam’s regime is a good thing. The silence from many liberal journalists in the Club was almost deafening. An interesting view from an advocate for peace, however perhaps he playing into UN politics here…

Israel and Palestine
A juicy few tangents of discussion. On democracy in Palestine, he said it was good that it is alive in the country, however Hamas must rethink their strategy if they are to responsibly care for the long-term good of its people.

On Israel, Professor Ramos-Horta said the Israelis should be a little more balanced and humane in their response to attacks on their country.

Can the tensions be resolved at this stage? Probably not, unless someone similar to Mahatma Ghandi or Nelson Mandela can step up from the Palestinian side. "Stop fighting violence with violence and engage Mahatma Gandhi's civil disobedience-style. [Palestinians] can paralyse the entire economy of Israel, and even get sympathy among Israeli people and millions around the world."

Australia’s refugee policy
He is most definitely not a fan, however he isn’t exactly shouting from the rooftops as he knows how much support Australia has, and does give to his country.

I also got a feeling he’s aiming up to head up the UN in the next elections to happen in 2012. Watch this space!

Rev. Jesse Jackson is coming to town in mid-April, so I’ll be looking forward to hearing what he’s got to say.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Big hits

I love this YouTube clip...

Thursday, January 15, 2009

I am a pig

At my last job working at a PR agency in Sydney, the 85% female workplace dominated conversation with topics ranging from the greatest ever Australian Idol moments, to some bloke called Max Factor and the benefits of fake tanning over sunbeds.

It’s a little different here in Bangers - my slightly more multicultural and sexually balanced workplace discusses issues spanning the best place to buy Asian jelly dessert portions, how to avoid the ghosts of the tsunami whilst on holiday and each person’s respective Chinese Zodiac animal, according to their birth year.

Apparently, I’m a pig. No doubt my sisters will have a field day with this.

"PIG: Pigs are tolerant and generous, virtuous and peaceful. They are well liked for their honesty and warm natures. They aim to find the best in people and allow others plenty of freedom of expression. They are often imbued with the energy of wealth and the support of others though they are not concerned with accumulating wealth. They can be content with modest means. They rarely criticise others and are not vengeful and thus have few enemies. The Pig accepts the existing richness of life and doesn't demand more. They enjoy simple and earthy pleasures. In relationships they give love and affection and trust that they will receive the same. They possess considerable determination and if they set their minds on something will pursue it and attain it. Good careers are in music, food, writing, social work, gardening and looking after others."

Years: 1923, 1935, 1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, 2007.

I do find it hard to believe all of my contemporaries from 1983 can be homogenously classed into the above category, however with the Chinese set to take over the world midway through my generation, it’s probably best not to complain.

What are you? See here.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Christmas 2008

Clare and I spent Christmas and Boxing Day with a couple of friends down south this year, my first away from home. We chose Khao Lak, a town on the Western (Andaman) coast of Thailand, roughly 90 minutes north of Phuket. Khao Lak was the area worst hit area in Thailand by the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami, with water reaching 4km inland, hundreds of people dead, and years of tourist development lost.

Previously famed for diving, at Christmas the area still had a distinct lack of tourists, except for a busload of Frenchies bunking down at a French-themed resort down the road. Many hotels are still slowly being developed, as tourist dollars drip back into the area.

Despite no one really being there, we still had a killer time. We stayed at a pimping resort with two swim-up bars (yes, Angus and Willis, TWO). Unfortunately there was no strict dresscode for 65-year old German female bathers, so Clare and I copped quite a saggy eyeful.

The resort had a whole heap of stuff for hire including a windsurfer (my first time, great fun), bikes, table tennis etc. It was a relaxing antidote to a very stressful last couple of months at work.

Right: Clare relaxes by the pool...

Left: Our friends Kate and Clint exhalt after remembering they were on holiday with Clare and I.

Below: Batman's longtail boat. Note the boat's bow.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Looking sharp

It's important to have pride in your appearance - to look sharp, if you will.

The lady who washes and irons our clothes evidently understands this importance and ensures that even my boardshorts are properly presented.

Razor-sharp creases down the middle of my boardshorts

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

@ Work

Back at work now – a picture of my surrounds.

Note my fish Nit Noi, who has been residing here whilst I was on holidays. We also keep the blinds closed because a lot of the Thai staff here dislike direct sunlight due to excessive sun-tanning (which is quietly considered too agrarian and lower-class). As you can see, I need all the sun I can get.

Also of note is my tie, a Bt 100 number from Silom Rd, which a mate of mine Dave also purchased when visiting recently, keeping the cross-continental Bangkok tie-wearing dream alive.

You may also notice a new book on my desk I’m about to start reading, ‘The Diplomatic Dog of Barbados’ by Winfred Peppindink, delightfully sent to me for Christmas by another mate of mine, and literary connoisseur, Willis. It’s a tale of a diplomat's dog who makes good in the tough tropical sands of the Caribbean.

Just FYI.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

In 2008, I...

  • Went surfing at 6am on New Years Day at Manly Beach
  • Sold my queen-sized bed for $2 on eBay
  • Moved to Thailand
  • Holidayed in six different countries: with Angus, Clare and new mates in Thailand, Clare in Malaysia, Clare in Singapore, Em in the UAE, Myself in Cambodia, and the O’Connors & Bells in Australia
  • Went fishing with my old man and caught my first Bream in years
  • Wrote 72 blog posts
  • Caught 20-something flights
  • Got my first grey hair
  • Drove twice
  • Scored two tries in rugby
  • Broke four pairs of sunglasses
  • Gave my old employer six weeks leaving notice to be a good bloke and got screwed for four
  • Ate tarantula and flipped out
  • Ate BBQ’d prawns on the beach and loved it
  • Ate Som Tum (Spicy Thai green papaya salad) and hated it
  • Ate Chili crab in Singapore with Clare and made a mess
  • Was often addressed as “Herro, Massa’a” and heard “Skoomy sirrr, sexy DVD, ping-pong, you want??” at least 500 times
  • Started playing rugby again, and went alright
  • Started playing cricket again, and sucked!
  • Started wakeboarding, and was ‘stoked’
  • Started drinking ice with my beer
  • Played golf at some of Asia’s best courses
  • Went surfing with Clare on an artificial wave, also being filmed live in Malaysian travel show
  • Went caving in a Thai National Park
  • Was admitted to hospital for a total of 2% of my 2008
  • Was unemployed for a total of 34% of the year
  • Lost 10% of my body weight
  • Rode a mountain bike 24km across the Northern Thai countryside in 43 degree heat and vomited four times
  • Rode a scooter, an elephant, bamboo raft and a mechanical bull for the first time ever, but not at the same time
  • Lived for more than a month in four different places
  • Stopped living in the Moodie Street ‘Dog House’ with one of my best mates
  • Visited the middle east for the first time ever
  • Grew a strong affinity for ‘rice with egg’ or Khao Kai Dow, as they say in the business
  • Started using internet on my mobile
  • Probably didn’t keep in contact with my family and friends enough
  • Moved in with Clare
  • Helped prepare my Mum’s rose garden
  • Started paying for my laundry to be washed, dried, ironed and delivered, with the only drawback being that my boardshorts now have dweeby razor-sharp creases ironed down the middle
  • Went to a Thai winery and got pissed
  • Went snorkeling in the Gulf of Thailand
  • Went wind-surfing in the Andaman Sea
  • Went to Thailand’s highest temple and got blessed by a monk
  • Only occasionally saw a sky full of stars
  • Watched Kylie Minogue, live in concert
  • Celebrated my first Christmas away from home
  • Missed all of my family’s birthdays
  • Bought new boots
  • Bought a new mobile phone
  • Bought a new laptop and got connected, baby
  • Bought a new fish, ‘Nit Noi
  • Found an amazing tailor
  • Survived Bangkok protests, bombings, fires, an economic downturn and several drinking sessions with my rugby mates
  • Sweated more than the previous five years combined
  • Got pissed in three separate swim-up bars
  • Learned to surf
  • Learned Thai cooking techniques
  • Learned Cambodian cooking techniques
  • Learned a bit of Thai language
  • Learned a bit more about myself
  • Read 18 books
  • Started reading The Economist and love it
  • Supported the pirated DVD trade with the purchase of about 70 new DVDs
  • Enjoyed my first ever ladyboy show
  • (Painfully) enjoyed my first ever Thai massage
  • Fell asleep before midnight again on New Years Eve