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20 September 2013

Gift of a dear son

There is something about finishing a book that I find lovely, in the case of a Maeve Binchy bestseller at least. It's like getting acquainted with the characters off the pages, and then saying goodbye to them in your head.

As a university instructor I relate with this quote from Nights of Rain and Stars:

"Teachers of every kind needed a chance to go out and talk to people of other countries, otherwise they could get caught up in the internal politics of their own university."

"Internal politcs." Lord knows how tricky the thing is in my playground. It makes an upcoming trip seem opportune. Arranging the trip even turned out well.

At the vice president's office to file a leave -

VP: What's this, Hazel? Where are you going?
Me: Out of town, boss. Give me three days.

He approved it immediately, but then still holding the paper, asked:

"CJ alright?"
"Yes, boss. My little guy is doing fine."
"No. I mean have you asked him permission yet that you're going to..." he adjusted his glasses, "what country are you going to this time?"

Boss gone cute! Sometimes I forget that he is not just my boss but also a close friend of the ex-hubster which explains how the CJ bit got into professional protocol.
 
It's good to be reminded how blessed I am: 

Photo Courtesy: Back Roads Living

And finally this week, my first attempt at Chili con Carne wasn't so bad.

Visit: Sally's Blues * Fave Five * Picture Clusters * Share the Joy

19 September 2013

Integrative complexity levels

  
"Fighting for peace is like screwing for virginity." ~ George Carlin

Photo Courtesy: LMCF

This week's Sepia theme takes me back to those afternoons when I was putting together a research proposal (Re: Department of Media, Cognition and Communication, University of Copenhagen).

The project focuses on integrative complexity (IC) defined as a measure of intellectual style used by individuals or groups in processing information, problem solving, and decision making. The IC construct is used to measure complexity levels of government leaders during periods of crises.  

Cognitive studies in communication examine changes in leaders' IC levels, i.e. world leaders in the war against terrorism, Middles Eastern leaders during the 9/11 crisis, German parliamentarians on the Gulf War.  The theory is that IC complexity levels decline during conflicts and increase during resolutions of conflicts.

A notable finding from a previous study shows that changes in IC levels could be used in predicting violence. The IC measure is found to be a tool in forecasting adversary intentions. There was talk of feasibility that the IC construct can be used to predict wars and thus prevent them. Yes, I hear you. It's a long shot.

Denmark's reputation as the world's second most peaceful country (Global Peace Index, 2008) accords the Danish government credibility to host research that supports peace as response to terrorism.  Authority strengthens validity of interest on a scientific contribution to world peace, the objective which the project ultimately intends to reach.


It's been awhile, 1990 most likely, since I sang Let There Be Peace with college mates at a commencement ceremony. Behind us on stage was the country's vice president who was to speak to the graduates. Fast forward to 2013 I muse, what could his IC levels have been like if he was the Philippines' top leader during terrorist attacks by the Abu Sayyaf, an Al Queda-linked Islamist separatist group...? Part of my methodology is to dissect selected Southeast Asian leader speeches to analyze IC levels. 

But then of course I was young and research was far from my mind as worrying was near my juvenile vocal chords over hitting the right notes to Let There Be Peace on Earth.

13 September 2013

Keep calm and age well

Life is full of promise
There is so much it has to give,
so much joy and wonder
yet to be explored.

You can always meet the challenge
every single day you live,
when you walk in faith
together with the Lord


Amanda Bradley's words cheered me up 15 summers ago. I was going through some tough time and a thoughtful friend gave this card to me. I kept it and never saw it again until recently while rummaging through my drawer in the office.


Family over for lunch. Space is limited in my nook but I'm glad they came. Old family tales were retold. I rang overseas for Mama to join in some of the conversation. Ouch phone bill, but familiar voices are worth it.


Book shopping makes me happy.  World Book's Young Scientist and The Questionary for CJ and a coffee table book for me. Pictures inside Mary Ford's Cake Decorating book are a stunning eye candy.



A pretty little thing to wear to an occasion I do not yet know, is I think okay sometimes. I do look forward to it - maybe at The Authors' Lounge in Mandarin Oriental to have tea where Ernest Hemingway once had tea himself many years ago.


Humor on Rocky Road. I played a little joke on myself during my birthday and inverted the numbers on my cake. I thought I was only this age once I was entitled to be amused.

A doily arbitrates

Does anyone remember those doilies?


This doily is one of the oldest things we have at home; kept among pins, spools of thread, lace and other little old things around my mother's equally old Singer sewing machine. I needed to take a photo of my recent bookstore loot with Lady Anastasia before I was to fly back to Thailand. Something was necessary between her ceramic ladyship and Mama's glass table to prevent clashes or scratches. This doily served that purpose perfectly.
ae Nak, a native of Phra Khanong, marries the handsome Mak. When war breaks out, Mak is conscripted for military service and leaves his pregnant wife behind.
In the war, Mak is severely wounded. Meanwhile, Mae Nak dies during childbirth with her unborn child and is buried by the neighbors. This is unusual as Buddhist custom calls for the cremation of their dead.
When Mak recovers from his injuries, he returns home to an emotional reunion with his loving wife and baby son, not realizing what has happened.
Neighbors who try to warn him meet with a grisly end. Things remained this way until he discovers that he's actually living with the ghost of his wife!
He flees but she pursues him and the romance turns to horror. Mak seeks refuge in Wat Mahabut but Mae Nak follows him there. After several attempts by the terrified villagers, Mae Nak is finally exorcised to return to the other world and leaves Mak alone.
- See more at: http://www.tour-bangkok-legacies.com/wat-mahabut.html#sthash.xwgvkf7o.dpuf
Mae Nak, a native of Phra Khanong, marries the handsome Mak. When war breaks out, Mak is conscripted for military service and leaves his pregnant wife behind.
In the war, Mak is severely wounded. Meanwhile, Mae Nak dies during childbirth with her unborn child and is buried by the neighbors. This is unusual as Buddhist custom calls for the cremation of their dead.
When Mak recovers from his injuries, he returns home to an emotional reunion with his loving wife and baby son, not realizing what has happened.
Neighbors who try to warn him meet with a grisly end. Things remained this way until he discovers that he's actually living with the ghost of his wife!
He flees but she pursues him and the romance turns to horror. Mak seeks refuge in Wat Mahabut but Mae Nak follows him there. After several attempts by the terrified villagers, Mae Nak is finally exorcised to return to the other world and leaves Mak alone.
- See more at: http://www.tour-bangkok-legacies.com/wat-mahabut.html#sthash.xwgvkf7o.dpuf
Mae Nak, a native of Phra Khanong, marries the handsome Mak. When war breaks out, Mak is conscripted for military service and leaves his pregnant wife behind.
In the war, Mak is severely wounded. Meanwhile, Mae Nak dies during childbirth with her unborn child and is buried by the neighbors. This is unusual as Buddhist custom calls for the cremation of their dead.
When Mak recovers from his injuries, he returns home to an emotional reunion with his loving wife and baby son, not realizing what has happened.
Neighbors who try to warn him meet with a grisly end. Things remained this way until he discovers that he's actually living with the ghost of his wife!
He flees but she pursues him and the romance turns to horror. Mak seeks refuge in Wat Mahabut but Mae Nak follows him there. After several attempts by the terrified villagers, Mae Nak is finally exorcised to return to the other world and leaves Mak alone.
- See more at: http://www.tour-bangkok-legacies.com/wat-mahabut.html#sthash.xwgvkf7o.dpuf

09 September 2013

Ice cream it is

I doubt whether the world holds for anyone a more soul stirring surprise than the first adventure with ice-cream. ~ Heywood Broun


I don't think this is the kiddo's first ice cream. But I remember I bought this for him because its blue color was very attractive and I thought it would match his blue shirt and blue watch. It would also please his Grandma whose favorite color is blue. The other reason was he wanted to stay in the mall to check out the latest Ultraman dolls. I wanted to go home so I bribed him with ice cream.


History repeats itself. When I was little my father would buy me ice cream and I would forget that I wanted something else which I knew he didn't want to give. When a massive coronary felled him, I made sure there were loads of ice cream on top of a catered lunch I hosted for approximately 300 family and friends. The sweet, cold, creamy dessert must have worked wonders on the sombre mood. At the reception hall I heard this exchange between a cousin and her innocent, little daughter:

"Mommy, is it Grandpa's birthday?"

"What? Why? Didn't we just bury Grandpa?"

"I knew it. It's Grandpa's birthday ice cream."


"You can't buy happiness. But you can buy ice cream and that's kind of the same thing."

Not that ice cream made me feel better after having just buried my father. I remained in shock and could not cry. But the brain freeze from several scoops did manage to numb the pain of losing him.


When the Eagles came to Bangkok in 2011 tickets sold out like hot ice cream. I was beyond disappointed and must have worn a scowl to the classroom because a student asked, and I whined. It turned out she and her husband run a concert-organizing company. Hello connections! Ten hours later I was to savor Seven Bridges Road live from a strategic seat. 

Ice cream was of course immediately in order.

04 September 2013

Mae Nak Prakhanong

Now I see what a ghost is. Unfinished business, that's what. 
~ Salman Rushdie, The Satanic Verses

Ed Warren observes that the devil exists, God exists. He did not specify 'ghost' but that could well include Casper and his relatives whom I believe in but do not want to see except in films. On my way to see The Conjuring I snapped this photo from a speeding bus of the Prakhanong klong, a tributary of Chao Phrya. The water looks peaceful enough to me. If I closed my eyes to the wires and vandalized bridge, that is.



Mae Nak Prakhanong, is a film I watched while traveling from Huahin to Bangkok in 1998. It portrays normal life in Prakhanong, then a village; of people rowing their boats in the klong to visit neighbors or go to the market. Scenes especially those around the water are engulfed in eerie serenity. You see Mae Nak  is a ghost. She is probably famous as I have yet to meet a Thai who has no idea who Mae Nak is. Her love story with her soldier husband is told in the film.

There is no definite date as to when the legend started, but the mid-18th to the 19th century is suggested. Mae Nak is married to Mak who goes away to war leaving his pregnant wife behind. While fighting, Mak is wounded and at about the same time back home Mae Nak dies in childbirth. She is buried, which is unusual. Cremation is the fashion out in predominantly Buddhist Siam.

The war ends and Mak returns home, reuniting with Mae Nak and their baby son. They are so in love he does not listen to tales of what happened to his wife. Neighbors who tell him who he actually lives with die one by one. They probably should have let Mae Nak finish her unfinished business. The couple continues to live together for a time until Mak finally discovers that he is actually sleeping with the ghost of his wife!

He flees and takes refuge at a nearby temple but she chases him there and that's when things turn to horror. The villagers repeatedly try to exorcise Mae Nak and are successful only after several attempts. Mae Nak is sent to the other world at last.

The klong is still. Mae Nak steps into the light. Peace, albeit a ghostly kind, reigns in the village once more. Today Prakhanong is a bustling part of Bangkok. The water in its klong, particularly the one in the photo, looks as if Mae Nak has just rowed by.

Mae Nak, a native of Phra Khanong, marries the handsome Mak. When war breaks out, Mak is conscripted for military service and leaves his pregnant wife behind.
In the war, Mak is severely wounded. Meanwhile, Mae Nak dies during childbirth with her unborn child and is buried by the neighbors. This is unusual as Buddhist custom calls for the cremation of their dead.
When Mak recovers from his injuries, he returns home to an emotional reunion with his loving wife and baby son, not realizing what has happened.
Neighbors who try to warn him meet with a grisly end. Things remained this way until he discovers that he's actually living with the ghost of his wife!
He flees but she pursues him and the romance turns to horror. Mak seeks refuge in Wat Mahabut but Mae Nak follows him there. After several attempts by the terrified villagers, Mae Nak is finally exorcised to return to the other world and leaves Mak alone.
- See more at: http://www.tour-bangkok-legacies.com/wat-mahabut.html#sthash.xwgvkf7o.dpuf
Mae Nak, a native of Phra Khanong, marries the handsome Mak. When war breaks out, Mak is conscripted for military service and leaves his pregnant wife behind.
In the war, Mak is severely wounded. Meanwhile, Mae Nak dies during childbirth with her unborn child and is buried by the neighbors. This is unusual as Buddhist custom calls for the cremation of their dead.
When Mak recovers from his injuries, he returns home to an emotional reunion with his loving wife and baby son, not realizing what has happened.
Neighbors who try to warn him meet with a grisly end. Things remained this way until he discovers that he's actually living with the ghost of his wife!
He flees but she pursues him and the romance turns to horror. Mak seeks refuge in Wat Mahabut but Mae Nak follows him there. After several attempts by the terrified villagers, Mae Nak is finally exorcised to return to the other world and leaves Mak alone.
- See more at: http://www.tour-bangkok-legacies.com/wat-mahabut.html#sthash.xwgvkf7o.dpuf
Mae Nak, a native of Phra Khanong, marries the handsome Mak. When war breaks out, Mak is conscripted for military service and leaves his pregnant wife behind.
In the war, Mak is severely wounded. Meanwhile, Mae Nak dies during childbirth with her unborn child and is buried by the neighbors. This is unusual as Buddhist custom calls for the cremation of their dead.
When Mak recovers from his injuries, he returns home to an emotional reunion with his loving wife and baby son, not realizing what has happened.
Neighbors who try to warn him meet with a grisly end. Things remained this way until he discovers that he's actually living with the ghost of his wife!
He flees but she pursues him and the romance turns to horror. Mak seeks refuge in Wat Mahabut but Mae Nak follows him there. After several attempts by the terrified villagers, Mae Nak is finally exorcised to return to the other world and leaves Mak alone.
- See more at: http://www.tour-bangkok-legacies.com/wat-mahabut.html#sthash.xwgvkf7o.dpuf

03 September 2013

Honey, honey

Honey, honey, how he thrills me aha...

This is one of those blue-sky holidays in the chili patches. We are in the sunflower fields of Thailand. The farmers there sell honey aside from sunflower seeds and sunflower wine.


Drogba forsakes football for the day to bottle honey in Saraburi. A tourist blows a honey kiss.

Honeycomb up close

 Honey pool


The sweet, therapeutic liquid in Regency Scotch. Regency: to an anglophile like me, the merchandise is sold.

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