Adios Photobucket

July 6, 2017


Somewhere in the Photobucket terms and conditions is says users can’t host photos for display on another website. Like this one. Recent photos and the oldest one, posted 8 years, 7 months, 24 days ago, display as expected. The others I checked were replaced with the above notice.

Photobucket seemed the best choice for my needs in 2008. In the early days of this journey, I didn’t have – or didn’t think to have – physical backups of my photos in the cloud. However, a change in their business model in 2012 made it obvious their user base was shrinking. So I downloaded everything and, since then, only sent copies to cloud photo services.

It would be easy to upload this blog’s photos to a different service. Changing the links on 511 photos, not so easy. I’m as likely to do that as I am to clean the floor of my apartment everyday. With a toothbrush.

There is another option. Pay $399 a year for a different Photobucket plan. Riiiiiight. Such pricing strikes me as an indirect way to rid themselves of unprofitable users.







Cookienotti: The Verdict

February 21, 2015

It’s not addictive. I keep telling myself that. Imagine a flavor between gingerbread and cinnamon toast, over a subtle caramel base. Then imagine it, warm, spread on plain french toast or waffles…

My discovery of Cookienotti. At over $10 a jar, it better not be addictive.

My Cost of Living in Thailand – 2014

January 26, 2015

In the 2011 and 2012 Cost of Living Reports I predicted an indulgent purchase. Finally happened last year:

(The size of cash wad is misleading because the largest bank note here is 1000 baht, or about $32.50)

How indulgent? I spent more on electronics than any other category. More about this below.

A frequent question on expat forums is how much does it cost to live there. Including a lifestyle description with such a question usually gets better answers because the only meaningful answer depends on how one want to live. One should also ask the expats in different towns because costs vary substantially. There is easily a 50% difference in Thailand between the cost of living in areas with non-trivial sized expat populations. The table with my costs for 2011 through 2014 is at the bottom of this post.

Before I retired my lifestyle included far fewer toys, gadgets, upgrades, alcohol, expensive entertainments and luxuries then my peers. In retirement such a lifestyle fits right in with many of the pension drawing single men here.

At my age, 60, medical costs add up. I’m insured by a French firm for 100% hospitalization in Thailand and 7 other SE Asia countries. Out patient is out of pocket. For stays of less than 7 weeks outside that area, it covers urgent care 100% both in and out patient. Meds for 3 chronic conditions runs about $60 a month.

Hua Hin is one of the most expensive places to live a western style life in Thailand. I have a BIG furnished studio apartment with A/C and hot water. One could rent an unfurnished 2 story row house for less than I’m paying.

About 40% of meals come from one or more of the markets: super, fresh (Thai), and the expensive place with foreign imports for those with a monkey on their back and just can’t live without Oreos, certain brands of cheese or beer, etc. The rest of the meals range from vendor stands to places aimed at those here on a golfing budget. About once a week I eat in the tourist district, not because it’s more expensive there, but because the routes I have to ride to avoid the usual helmet, license and registration checkpoints. I don’t have a license.

Electronics and clothes are replaced when they wear out, except for this year. Replacements were also upgrades. A powerful PC tower and big screen for photo editing replaced a dying notebook. I accidentally killed my travel netbook, then bought a better one.

Replaced a short term travel camera with a kit containing a body and 2 lenses. It’s a Micro Four Thirds system camera that should be all I’ll ever need. Everything past this purchase was pure indulgence. I bought another lens, another in Japan, and another lens the day after Christmas – which came in a kit with a camera body. That body was selling for $1,000 in both the US and Thailand. Buying it in the kit meant it cost $250 vs just buying the lens. The body and lens are both weather resistant, the only such photo gear I own. How could I say no? I pretty sure I’m done buying lenses. For now.

If would have cost me much less by now if I’d purchased a motorbike. I rent because of the hassles of ownership, because I can afford it and it allows putting off the big hurdle of getting a license until I decide to stay here. That’s right. Almost 5 years in Hua Hin, and I’m still just passing through.

I Run the A/C at 28C (82F) from one hour before going to bed until I awake. During the hottest 2-3 months of the year A/C is often on at 30C (86F) in the mid to late afternoon, until it’s cooler to go outside. Hot water for shower use is just enough to prevent initial shock during the hot months, most of the time in winter.

Entertainment is nerdy or low cost: Photography, photo editing, learning more about both photography and photo editing, being an internet omnivore, walking on the beach, exercise, hanging out over coffee or watching sports that I’m not interested in bars while conversing with blokes who show signs of intelligent life.

Here are the costs 2011 to 2014. Values shown are average cost per month in US dollars at the then current exchange rate.

Oops. Should have replaced ‘ECM’ in the table with ‘USA mail address and forwarding service’.

[Update] Double Oops. Should have noted the higher ‘Shelter’ costs in 2012 and 2013 was from staying 2+ months in Chiang Mai.

I Have a Suspicious Name

January 20, 2015

Since not long after 9/11 I’ve had to use my legal name with financial institutions. It was a small problem at first when a clerk or phone representative used my first name, one I had never used, to get my attention. I was slow to respond because I was listening for my name, not that other name.

Today another part of my legal name, one I also never used, caused a problem. My name has a suffix. It’s on my credit card. The card used for a hotel reservation. The hotel guy didn’t think it was a real name, so he didn’t attempt the transaction.

Turns out they wanted me to call to confirm they were dealing with a real person because the only names with suffixes they’d heard of were English kings and the like. It probably didn’t help reduce suspicion that my first name and middle name have been used more than once by English kings.

Naughty Cookies? No, Cookienotti

January 6, 2015

How is a consumer products shopper supposed to keep up with the latest when there is no advertising of consumer products in his language? I hate it when I find out about a food that’s been at Trader Joe’s for 6 years.

TJ’s calls it Cookie Butter. A Dutch company calls it Cookienotti. What caught my eye was its main ingredient: cookies, specifically Speculoos. Of course I had to check the biscuit (cookie) aisle for Speculoos, because who knows what might happens if you spread a cookie on itself?

I had no interest in trying Cookienotti until I saw TJ’s sells something similar. I’m in.

Please refrain from making comments using wordplay on loo, speculate, speculum, speck, spoke or Spock.

Vengeance is Mine Because Hello Kitty Wasn’t Available

November 19, 2014

Selling desktop PC components in Thailand is all about offering more power, more speed, more memory, more storage, more cooling and more space to gamers. I’m a photo editor, not a gamer, so sorting on price from low to high worked best.

RAM generates heat, so those ‘horns’ are functional. The color and styling are all about building a PC that looks as awesome as it performs. All cases not intended for media centers had acrylic windows in a side panel so others can admire your equipment.

If Corsair had a Hello Kitty line of RAM, I would have bought it. Seriously.

Managing the Descent into a Maelström

October 13, 2014

A time and place so long ago I have no clue when or where, I read ‘A Descent into the Maelström’, a short story by Edgar Allen Poe. After sea and weather combined to destroy his ship, the narrator describes how he survived the maelström (whirlpool) pulling debris and men down, then under the sea. Circling the drain he noted objects of certain shapes descended slower than others. When one came near he grabbed hold, staying afloat until the maelström subsided.

Prior to the Tokyo trip, I’d compared Lightroom (LR), a combination photo management and editing Windows program, to my collection of Linux programs and scripts. LR won. After returning home, as the combined fogs of travel fatigue, jet lag and a Thai massage ebbed, I began playing with LR. Then I looked up and realized too many days had evaporated. While solving an immediate, specific issue I kept being seduced by links to other features I knew I’d need soon. Once at the link, skimming was out of the question. I wanted to know more.

I didn’t mind those days evaporating because it was big fun. I’m managing the descent into the LR maelström by taking note of the interesting paths I don’t need at the moment, returning to the answering the current question, then getting on with editing the Tokyo images in the time I’ve allotted for that day. That will leave me time for writing about the trip. And shopping for a laptop. And contemplating short trips in Thailand during the high season. And deciding the start and end dates for next year’s spring trip. And researching enough to either cross Latin America off my list or decide where to go investigate potential places to live. Etc., etc. etc.