Tuesday, September 30, 2008
According to NASA, the Phoenix Mars Lander has detected snow falling in the Martian atmosphere, about 2.5 miles above the Red Planet's surface. Even though the flakes aren't reaching the ground, the find adds another piece of evidence to the notion that Mars once harbored liquid water, and perhaps even life forms of some sort.
The discovery came as a surprise to some scientists, but not to UFO hunters and conspiracy theorists who believe intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe. Yes, even within the political sphere.
We are living in strange times. I mean, next thing you know, some random governor of some far flung U.S. state will be chosen to run for vice president -- despite having an appalling lack of foreign policy experience -- and possibly end up a heartbeat away from the presidency. Stranger things have happened!
To round out this bizarre scenario, she'll be an accomplished hunter who's able to field dress a moose -- and will publicize this ability as if it somehow makes her more fit to help lead a country of 300 million people.
Monday, September 29, 2008
Wow, look at this! The Large Hadron Collider has been taken offline until March or April at the earliest. Looks like they had some sort of electrical malfunction that caused a helium leak, or something like that. Hmm, I guess $9 billion doesn't go as far as it used to.
OK, so call me a conspiracy theorist, but I'm pretty sure this explanation is a smokescreen for what really happened -- a mini black hole generated by the LHC. Or, it's possible that a few scientists got sucked into a worm hole and are, at this very moment, running for their lives from a pack of hungry -- and decidedly non-herbivorous -- dinosaurs.
All I know is that this LHC really scares the hell out of me.
Thursday, September 25, 2008
Behold the durian, a legendary fruit throughout much of Asia -- and in some circles, legendary for all the wrong reasons.
Those spikes that cover the skin of a durian are just as menacing as they look. These aren't the wimpy, soft type of spikes that bend when you touch them. No sir, these spikes are hard as nails, and will puncture your skin in a millisecond, if you're somehow in a mood to test their sharpness by placing your hand upon them. But that would be pretty stupid, like trying to French kiss a cobra.
Durian have actually been used as a weapon on many occasions. Not just for the spikes, mind you, but also because durian is one of the foulest smelling fruits on the planet. Cracking open a durian reveals a wealth of yellow, fleshy fruit, with a creamy consistency that its lovers can't get enough of, but which is gag-inducing to just about everyone else.
The durian eating experience is the ultimate paradox, because it actually tastes good, but carries with it an indescribable stench. So much so, in fact, that durian is banned in hotels across Asia, as well as by most airlines.
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
OK, so it's that time of year again, when the outside of the monastery gets so dirty that we have to drag out the ladder and get to cleaning the facade of our home. But when did this ladder get so heavy? Seems like it was lighter last year.
In any event, it's great that the new kid volunteered to be the one to climb up and scrub away the dirt and grime that has accumulated over the past year. Because none of us old guys want any part of that ladder. Mainly because that ladder is too freaking high, and once you get to the top, the thing wobbles like a teenager's commitment to chastity.
But someone's gotta do the job, so here's to hoping that the kid doesn't fall, like that one guy did a few years back. If we weren't there to catch him, the vultures would probably still be feasting on his bones!
Thursday, September 18, 2008
What is it about balloons that make them so appropriate for parties? And why do people like them so damn much?
Is it the colors? The sometimes funny shapes? Whatever the reason, I frankly find it disgusting that human beings can be attracted and amused by something so base and simplistic as a balloon. Are we still so freaking primitive as to be shamelessly transfixed by bright, colorful objects? Seriously.
Humans have for centuries been steadily making advancements in art, literature, scientific exploration... and yet, when we see a bunch of balloons, we're somehow reduced to children, giggling and watching as they go by. That's the kind of stuff that makes me worry about the future.
Monday, September 15, 2008
Fried crickets aren't as bitter tasting as one might think. In fact, properly seasoned, these insects are actually pretty tasty, and they're a popular snack sold by street vendors all over Thailand.
Never mind the rumors that abound that these crickets are harvested en masse with the help of DDT. Because once you put one of these crunchy critters in your mouth, there's no going back. Meaning, they're so addictive, you can't eat just one. Kind of like potato chips, but with wings.
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Riding public buses in Bangkok affords one the opportunity to soak in the city in its rawest form. That means hearing the roar of the bus engine, feeling the heat and sweat and hearing the exasperated groans of your fellow passengers, and experiencing a sort of collective resignation to being stuck in such an uncomfortable situation.
And, on occasion, it also enables the rider to observe things that they might not normally pay attention to -- like what kinds of footwear people are sporting.
These passengers' footwear are clearly designed for the short haul, and also reflect the fact that it's just so gosh darn hot in Bangkok. Flip-flops are common in the Thai capital, especially during the rainy season when floods are pretty much a daily occurrence, and the sounds they make are something that visitors remember and identify with their time in Thailand.
But what's up with the shoe on the left side of the photo? That certainly doesn't look like a very comfortable footwear experience.
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
Ooooh boy this is going to be a scary motorbike ride, I can just feel it. And even though I'm just a three year old little boy, I want my daddy to go really fast! And, as soon as the light turns green, we're going to!
You see, my mom's late for work, and the only way for dad to get her to work on time is to weave back and forth between cars in Bangkok's morning rush hour traffic jams. It actually makes me dizzy, but that's OK, because I think it's fun. And my hair blows around and gets messed up too.
After my dad drops mom off at work, he'll take me to pre-school. I like pre-school a lot, and I spend the whole day there playing with other kids and learning about stuff. I like all the teachers there. Well, except Mr. Somchai, because he never smiles, and he doesn't seem to bathe much either.
Well, the light just turned green, and my dad just told me to hold on tight, so that's what I'm going to do. I always do what mom and dad say, because when I don't, they don't let me have desserts!
Friday, September 5, 2008
Every parent-to-be wants the best for their child. Well, I'm stepping that up a little bit: I want my baby to be president. President of what, I'm not quite sure. But definitely someone important; someone who brings meetings to order, and without whom things simply wouldn't get done.
Yes, that's right, you heard me -- PRESIDENT. It's a bold ambition, but why not? What am I supposed to do, sit here, in the last couple of months before my child is born, and hope for anything less than the best? I'm aiming high with my hopes, and my baby's going to rock the world, just you watch.
And so I'm performing this little ceremony here at the temple, to make some merit and hopefully ensure that my vision becomes reality. It's the least I can do for the kid who's going to change my world in ways I haven't yet even begun to imagine.
Thursday, September 4, 2008
Did you hear about the stunt that Old Lady Zhang pulled the other day at the fruit market? Apparently she fondled all the mangos in the entire place in her search for the ripest, juciest ones. The only problem was, she squeezed them so hard that many of them burst!
From what I hear, she ruined a couple hundred perfectly good ones. And mango juice was running all over the place, covering the fruit stalls with stickiness and making them veritable fly magnets.
The fruit sellers at the market were understandably upset. I heard that one of the guys called Old Lady Zhang an annoying, high maintenance bitch! Well, she didn't take too kindly to that, and word has it that she immediately turned to a cart full of watermelons and kicked it over! Can you believe the gall? Who does she think she is, some kind of freaking blue blood?
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
I'm happy to have jobs doing road repairs, but man, what kind of bad karma did I have in the past life to get sent to work at Khardung La, the world's highest motorable highway? At 17,500 feet, the air is thin up here, and it ain't exactly balmy either. And this is in the middle of August!
I must have done some seriously bad stuff in my previous life. Maybe I was a serial killer or something. Or a Neo-conservative.
Still, working in such an inhospitable place does toughen me up, which is a good thing, because when I head back down to sea level, I can basically kick anyone's ass in a fight. I just wear them out physically and mentally. Not that I go around looking to fight, but hey, sometimes the fight comes to me.
Speaking of fighting, I'm actually fighting to breathe right now. Does anyone know where a guy can get some hot cocoa around here?