HELLO FROM EAU CLAIRE, WISCONSIN:

HELLO FROM EAU CLAIRE, WISCONSIN - city of big bottoms and small minds.

Monday, May 17, 2010

SARAH SAYS DRILL, BABY, DRILL - NOT STALL BABY STALL!

I couldn't help myself! When I got this photograph (and several others) from my nephew/new daddy I wanted to publish this one on my blog.

The photo really makes me smile because I know young Michael is an excellent father. Mike is a guy who knows how to listen when he is with a group of relatives or friends. And he always takes time to ask after you. He is witty, extremely intelligent, and I can tell by the way he reacts to beautiful little Mila, that he is deeply in love with his daughter.

Mila's mother, Trish, is also a very loving, giving person. She is an incredibly talented artist, designing logos for large companies but now she is a mother at home. One can feel a very close bond between Trish and Mila.

Can you tell I am pretty proud of this family?


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I received this e mail recently from our good friend Robert One Man Johnson, currently in Thailand:

With the Red Shirts and the army at odds, Bangkok is not a lot of fun right now. Margery and I decided to take off for the weekend on a combination sightseeing and golfing expedition to Kanchanaburi, on the River Kwai. It is about 150 kilometers due west of Bangkok and only about 50 kilometers from the Myanmar (Burmese) border. Kanchanaburi is the famous site of the World War Two prisoner camp and The Bridge and it is hard not to whistle that familiar theme from the movie as you head down the road. We had hired a van and driver and were joined by Nancy and Mike Harris, originally from Iowa, and like us, long time overseas educators. Mike is retired and Nancy is a math teacher at ISB.



Yahoo Weather for Kanchanaburi said ‘105 degrees Fahrenheit’. Heat index was casually listed as, “Feels like 115 degrees”. That’s pretty hot, I guess. We settled into our rooms at Nichigo Golf Resort. We were the only ones there. The troubles here have caused many people to cancel their holidays, plus, I suppose the heat might have put a few people off. Our AC was not working so we had to change rooms. A sign outside room 224 read, ‘No Spikes Inside’. Our wooden floor looked like someone had failed to follow the rules.



Margery and Nancy made arrangements with the driver to do some exploring and shopping the next morning. Mike and I made tee times at 6:30 AM. We met at 6 for an ‘American Breakfast’. Two funky looking eggs, two slices of mystery meat, some mashed potatoes, Tang, a couple of pallid looking chicken sausages and a slice of pineapple. I decided to try the ‘Thai Breakfast’ the next day. Couldn’t be much worse. We paid our greens fees and walked out to meet our caddies. We had already decided that maybe renting an electric cart would be a good idea. 115 degrees, remember!



The course was incredibly beautiful, green and lush with mountains in the background, water everywhere with birds of all kinds making a lot of noise. We never did see the monkeys, but you could hear them. The trees were in full beauty ranging from that wonderful spring green to white to riotous Flame Trees the color of firecrackers. I hit my first tee shot long but slightly to the right, at the base of a gorgeous tree.



As I stepped up to hit the ball, I instinctively leaped up in the air. I am not sure what a nano-second really is, but it seems an appropriate measurement. I dropped my club, frantically brushing off about 100 fire ants. They got in at least four tasty bites before I could retrieve my club, gain my composure and take a ‘free drop’. It was my first encounter of that day with the animals inhabiting the course.



We progressed through the round and I seemed to be the designated driver. After another tee shot, we jumped in the cart with the two caddies on the back. As we went around a curve, I drove over what I thought was a tree branch across the cart path. It was slim and about 5 feet long, hardly noticeable as the rubber wheels passed over it. The caddies simultaneously let out a sound between a whoop and a shriek. Mike said, ‘Snake…big snake!’ The caddie said, ‘Cobra!’, with her Thai accent on the final syllable. I did not have rear view mirrors. I asked Mike if he wanted me to turn around to check it out again. His answer, ‘Nooooh!’ I stopped and looked behind me. The snake was gone, back into the woods along the cart path. I think all of us were a bit more vigilant for the rest of the round.



Although we saw lots of birds in the water and rising off each green where they perhaps were gathering sand for their gizzards, we didn’t see any more non-feathered life until some time in the third nine. (Yes, we did 27 holes both days!) As I raced around another corner, I swerved hard to avoid a 4 foot Monitor lizard which seemed never to consider the possibility that I wouldn’t avoid it. It was dark green with yellow stripes along its body, much like an American garter snake. It had a forked tongue. It looked bored.



The only other truly memorable event of the day (I didn’t shoot well enough to make any television highlight reels) was when I lined up to hit an errant second shot on number 6. I could see the green and the flag fluttering in the slight breeze. As I went into my practice swing, the caddie said, rather sharply, ‘Sai, Sai!’ That means ‘left’ in Thai. I disregarded her advice and hit a great shot, under some tree branches and directly toward the pin. Unfortunately, the green for number 6 was 30 degrees ‘Sai’ from number 9, the hole I was aiming for. I took a triple bogey on that one. The caddie was disgusted.



The final morning, after our second 27 holes, we trundled our gear to the van and drove back to Bangkok. Our apartment is in the extreme northwest of the city, well away from the barricades and the burning car tires and the location where yesterday 8 people died and 150 others were injured. I don’t think I will go downtown tomorrow night to sit in with the band.



Robert Johnson, Bangkok Spring, 2010

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And yet another golfing story --

A Catholic priest, an Indian doctor, a rich Chinese businessman and an Italian from New York were waiting one morning for a particularly slow group of golfers in front of them.


The Italian from New
York fumed,
'What's with those jerks? We're waiting fifteen minutes between shots!'

The Indian doctor chimed in, 'I don't know, but I've never seen such poor golf!'

The Chinese businessman called out, 'Move it, time is money!'

The Catholic priest said, 'Here comes the greens keeper. Let's have a word with him. Excuse me, sir!' said the priest, 'What's wrong with that group ahead of us? They're rather slow, aren't they?'

The greens keeper replied, 'Oh, yes. That's a group of blind fire fighters. They lost their sight saving our clubhouse from a fire last year, so we always let them play for free anytime.'

The group fell silent for a moment.

The Catholic priest said, 'That's so sad. I think I will say a special prayer for them tonight.'

The Indian doctor said, 'Good idea. I'm going to contact my ophthalmologist colleague and see if there's anything that he might be able to do for them.'

The Chinese businessman replied, 'I think I'll donate $50,000 to the fire fighters union in honor of these brave souls!'

The Italian from New York said, 'Why the fuck can't they play at night?

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Here we are in the Gulf of Mexico going through the worst catastrophe ever and this is what Sarah Palin has to say:

"After inheriting a good pro-development GOP plan that opened up both coasts for drilling, the Obama administration halted development ... and now we're gonna study, more study of the South Atlantic and parts of the Gulf of Mexico ... my goodness, folks, these areas have been studied to death ... I have seen so many, many studies! I say, let's send the White House this message: that, you know, we can save taxpayer time, save money and announce: there is oil and gas down there, and we can produce it safely and responsibly! We don't need more studies, we need more action! Because energy produced in America is security for America, and it is jobs for American workers, jobs that can't be outsourced. Let's drill baby, drill, not stall, baby, stall!"
Is there a clearer example of someone being wrong about something in public life - and refusing to acknowledge even a shred of reality? She really is the Bush-Cheney Republican party leader in so many ways.

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