April 18, 2019

In the last post I wrote “For the first time since Nov 2008 my apartment has a kitchen.” Should have said since March 2010. Prior to that I lived in the Philippines. Both apartments there had a kitchen.

Unexpected Risk of Liquid Bath Soap

March 18, 2019

I had life in Thailand pretty well figured out, so this is the first ‘unexpected risk’ post since 2012. New country, new unexpected risks. To explain the liquid soap risk requires understanding the combined effects of building materials and cost of electricity in Portugal.

Before applying for a visa I knew:
– Portugal has either the highest or one of the highest electricity prices in the EU.
– Older buildings have little or no insulation.
– My apartment is in an older building.
– Many expats who first try living in other provinces post online about relocating to the Algarve (southernmost, warmest, too bleeping hot in the summer for me) because their homes were either too bleeping cold or the cost of heating them was too bleeping high.
– For many expats ‘too cold’ meant having to wear more clothes indoors than they wanted to.
– The lowest cost heating method is a  pellet stove . “A pellet stove is a stove that burns compressed wood or biomass pellets to create a source of heat for residential and sometimes industrial spaces. By steadily feeding fuel from a storage container (hopper) into a burn pot area, it produces a constant flame that requires little to no physical adjustments.”.

The pellet stove is in the living room. It has been running 24 hrs a day. Its fan pushes warm air into the room, after that the temperature falls off with distance. Temps in the apartment are consistent: 21C (70F) in the living room near the stove, 20C (68F) in the Kitchen, 19C (66F) in the bedroom and bathroom, and 17C (62.5F) in the unused and closed door second bedroom.

My low cost shower technique is wait for ‘warm enough’ water, get wet, then turn the water off. The unexpected risk was squeezing 19C soap into my palm, then realizing how cold that was going to feel on the rest of my body. I had no other choice, so after remembering a saying* I first heard when rock climbing in the early ’80s, I found out just how cold it was. As I type this a small plastic squeeze bottle with enough soap for 2 showers is sitting on a table in the living room. 21C liquid soap is not a problem.

*They say falling from a great height is like taking a cold shower. As long as you keep screaming, it’s not too bad.

Bangkok: Tortoise v Hare

December 21, 2018

I can’t imagine living in Bangkok. Traffic density varies from congested to ridiculous – at least in the places I’ve been. Until yesterday, never had a chance to compare a taxi to the combination of walking and metro between the same start and end point.

While talking with 2 men in line at the US Embassy, one heard me say I was getting a ‘Certified True Copy of my Passport’. He asked why. I said after this I’m going to the Thai Dept. of Consular Affairs (DCA), where I’ll need it to get my Thai Police background check authenticated. He’s going to the DCA. Do I wanna share a taxi? Sure. However, he wants to leave directly from the Embassy. I couldn’t do that. Wished him luck as we left the Embassy at the same time. Taxis cruise that road, so he was quickly picked up.

Route for taxi guy from US Embassy:
Taxi to Thai Dept. of Consular Affairs (DCA) – 26 km (16.1 miles). Twenty six kilometers isn’t much distance, but it’s a lot of time at 8:30 am on a weekday in the part of town he was starting from.

My route:
Walk to Hotel – 700 m(eters)
Room stuff, get my backpack, check out, ask for comment on my proposed route to DCA. ~10 min.
Walk to Phloen Chit BTS station – 850 meters. ~15 min because carrying backpack, slow pace so as to not break a sweat, and climbing stairs.
Train to Asok station – 9 min.
Walk to Sukhumbit MRT station – 350 m
Tenth in line for 2 ticket machines – ~8 min because some tourists couldn’t read the instructions available only in Thai or English.
Wait for train – 5 min
Train to Lat Phrao station – 24 min
Walk to street – 250 m
Wait for taxi – < 1 min
Taxi to DCA – 16 km. ~15 min.

Two lines at DCA. Express for same day pickup, non-express for 1 day pickup or sent by mail. I opted for mail. Was #3 in line when taxi guy walks up to the express window. He was doing what I would soon have to, that is, fill out the correct form (like me, he’d brought the one on their website), then bring it straight to the window. Knowing from our conversation at the Embassy how important doing all this quickly was to him, I asked if he choose the express option. Yes.

While waiting for my number to be called to the cashier, I noticed him leaving one of the cashier windows. Also noticed the time. I walked away from the window 10 minutes later. If both of had picked the same initial line, our journey times would have been the same.

Once the authenticated Thai Police background check arrives, I’ll have the last of the Portugal visa requirements that I can’t do on my own. I know how to do the remaining few. After Christmas I’ll request an appointment at the Portugal Embassy.



1 Down, 1 on Tow, 1 Soaring

November 19, 2017

Glider Tracks - 19 Nov 2017

Haven’t been this excited about relearning to soar since I booked the class. When I left the sport hand held GPS trackers made such maps possible. The price:fun ratio was too high so I never used one. Now in Australia all aircraft fly with transmitters and can be tracked on the web. Maybe I’ll be tempted to email or post (tweet? what’s that?) the registration numbers before an afternoon flight, so those who like watching paint dry can follow along.

Back when I was flying a hang glider and learning more about GPS, I found a site where people posted 2D tracks of their hikes, bike rides, boat trips, etc., like the one above. Such ground tracks were done with the only decent freeware program. A fellow hang glider pilot was also a rocket scientist at JPL. Using MATLAB (very expensive software) he posted 3D perspective views of his flight tracks on the club’s website. With his permission, I posted 2 on the GPS users site. “HOW CAN WE DO THIS?!” they asked.

The next day the creator of the freeware program posted a new version that did it. Only took changing a value from Zero to 1. Originally, he hadn’t implemented it because of the additional processing power needed. He changed it because he was a former hang glider pilot.





Fit to Travel?

September 18, 2017

Some expressed concern about my traveling so soon after getting off crutches. I’ve had zero problems with or limitations from my ankle.

As expected, there has been more fatigue than usual because I couldn’t do my usual pre-trip hill walking. So, also as expected, I’m doing less than usual each day. An unexpected benefit of the fatigue is I can’t remember the last time I had this many nights in a row of long, deep, satisfying sleep.

A word to you java junkies. Don’t think I’ve lessened my intake because of excellent sleep. Can’t pass up the wonderful blends of Brazilian and African coffee here. Can’t pass up one of the world’s best morning food combination, a Pastel de Nata (a egg tart pastry) and Uma Bica (an espresso) because, in the words of Elvis Costello:

Pump it up
until you can feel it
Pump it up
when you don’t really need it


Traveling Again

September 14, 2017

The irregular posts of questionable quality on this blog will be suspended for the duration of my current trip. Instead, I’ll be posting photos and descriptions of questionable quality on my 2 Project 365 albums.  One album is more of a travelog, the other is more pretentious. At this point, both suck equally. Once I stop spending most of my energy inside places that don’t allow photography, either the photos and descriptions will improve or I’ll find a new excuse.

This Blog Ain’t Dead Yet

June 26, 2017

Moribund, but not dead. I’ll revive it for a possibly too detailed account of the quest for a residence visa to where ever the next country is. Portugal looked good enough on first impression. I’m headed back for 2 weeks in Sept, by way of Vienna, to venture into the suburbs of Porto and Lisbon so as to simulate some day to day resident behavior.

In the meantime, here are Ideas for blog posts I rejected almost as fast as they appeared.


Also known as cholesterol in saturated fat.



No one cares this lie flat airline seat has a cubby hole for your shoes.



Top can has 3 big sardines. Bottom can has “12-22” svelte, pliant ones. They’ve only been sold in Hua Hin for a few months. They are far less likely to trigger my stomach acid problems, so I’m stockpiling them. Why? Calcium and heart-healthy oils.



Sprained my right ankle. Got a Slab put on today. It’s rigid cast material that runs down the calf to the heel, then across sole to in front of toes. Front is open so I can remove it to shower. It’s held on by an Ace bandage. Crutches are going to suck.



I passed on buying this in Portugal because I thought the fun would immediately wear off unless one was drunk enough.