My dear husband

We celebrated 16 years of being married yesterday. Here is a little about our story: James was raised in many different places, but I lived in one town all my life. My sophomore year in college I was working at a "C" camp; it was the last week of the summer, and we (camp workers) had the choice of staying or going home. I looked at who was coming to camp and decided to stay. My reasons were: 1. It was a "C" college, coming for a retreat before classes started. 2. It was expensive to go to this college, so you had to have some money to be going, 3. You could only get a engineering or aviation degree, so he would have some money after he left. 4. At the time it has 7 guys for everyone 1 girl. So what was a girl to do!?  Well, I stayed, and we meet. We dated for 2 years and then were married. So after moving 13 times in the past 16 years, you just never know where you will be. Our father has a since of humor sometimes.  

I have a wonderful husband. He has a great relationship with our father, and he leads our family to the altar. He makes it a point to spend time with the kids and with me on a daily basis. He teaches and trains our children to love their father. He makes it a point to show me he loves me in many different ways, helping around the house, flowers, and telling me, just to name a few.

So today I just wanted to say "Thank you" to my husband for everything that he does and that "I love him" with all my heart.


The other white meat

Found this tasty morsel while walking through the Warorot Day Market here in Chiang Mai.

090221 Warorot Day Market

Pig's head not for you? Plenty of other items available.

Warorot Day Market

The Warorot Day Market here in Chiang Mai is less for tourists and more for Thai people to buy things. In this part of town, they sell a little bit of everything, from flowers to food to kitchen/cooking supplies to clothes to materials to fresh meat to seafood to whatever you want. To an American who is used to getting everything nicely prepackaged in cellophane, it was a wonderful explosion of sights, sounds, and smells.

090221 Warorot Day Market

Finding our way around was a bit challenging, but the Nancy Chandler map of Chiang Mai, which Jacen is looking at here, was most helpful.

I'm not sure we'll shop here often--it's on the other side of town--but it's definitely a place to go when we need to buy something. Like the 4 bouquets of flowers I bought Ann for our anniversary; total cost: $3. :-)

16 years

Today is our 16th anniversary. We celebrated with a trip to Thailand. :-)

XProc Tutorial Released!

Last fall I spent some time learning a new XML technology called XProc, an XML pipeline language. I teamed with Roger Costello, world-class XML expert, to write a tutorial based upon an early implementation of XProc known as Calabash. This tutorial has just been released, and (if you're into XML) you can check out the tutorial here. It has a briefing, sample code, and labs to practice.

Driver's License

Ann and I got our Thai driver's licenses this week. Three steps in this process. First, we needed medical clearance. We went to the local hospital to be "checked out" by a doctor. My favorite part? He asked, "Do you have any vision or hearing problems?" Naturally, we said no. Second, we needed proof of residency, which we got at the immigration office. Third, we were tested at the DMV (or whatever the equivalent word is in Thai). Here was my favorite test. They had us sit in chairs with a mock gas petal and brake on the floor in front of us. When the little light went green, you stepped on the gas. When it turned red, you hit the brake. The device measured your reaction time. There were four of us being tested. I passed on my first attempt; Ann on her second. But one lady kept missing. Here's the best part: how many attempts you need didn't matter. If you missed, the lady said, "Too slow, try again." As far as I could tell, no one ever fails, they just get more attempts.

Anyhow, we got our driver's licenses, so we're good for one year.


Our walk along the Huay Umong Nature Trail was rather hot and dusty, so it's no wonder we rested, both during our walk...

090216 Nature walk

...and after.

A dig in progress

While we were at the Huay Umong Nature Trail, we stumbled upon an archeological dig in progress. It was just like what you read about. 10x10 sections were marked off with pegs (sticks) in the ground. Long white pieces of string marked pathways where they were excavating. There were Thai laborers everywhere, digging and hauling off dirt. It was easy to identify the head architect onsite: She had her head glued to the cell phone, and (the clincher) she carried the clipboard. This is what we came upon:

090216 Nature walk

I'm not sure what this is. It's a huge mound built around trees using small, flat bricks. There were at least three entrances into the heart of the mound; note the hole on the right side. On the very top were two Buddha statues; you can just see one of them in this picture.

When we first arrived, we stood on the periphery, not certain if we were welcome. But a bit of charades from one of the workers let us know we were welcome to explore, so we gingerly walked all around and looked at everything. There were a variety of signs posted, but my Thai being what it is (or isn't), they didn't help much.

Seeing my camera with a rather large lens--I had the telephoto on--one playful worker indicated that I should sneakily take a picture of his (her?) co-worker. Here's the shot I took. In some other part of the world, I suppose this outfit might be cause for fear and alarm, but not here in Thailand. Long sleeves and the head covering are protection from the sun, and the mouth covering is protection from the dust.

Air Conditioning

They say there are three seasons in Thailand: hot, hotter, and hottest. When we arrived in January, it was the hot season, a rather pleasant time to be here. But we are quickly approaching the hottest season (hotter comes later); temperatures have been in the mid to upper 90's for the last couple of weeks and are rising. We finally broke down and turned on our air conditioning units. Interestingly, there's still a 30 degree swing in temperature. At night it's down in the 60's, so the early morning hours are nice. But once afternoon arrives, we've been turning the air conditioning on and enjoying the relief it brings from the heat.

Not looking forward to our next electricity bill...

Huay Umong Nature Trail

I had last Monday off, so we decided to go out and about. One of the maps that we have of Chiang Mai shows an area called the Huay Umong Nature Trail; that looked decent enough, so off we went. We only wind up in one dead-end alley before we found the entrance to the place. It appears to be a large nature park where animals are allowed to wander about, and people are forbidden to shoot them. No other rules or requirements that we could see.

In the end, it was probably the wrong time of year to go. It was hot and dusty and not much was in bloom. Undaunted, we wondered around on the trails, looking for the local wildlife. We saw cattle, deer, roosters, birds, and a few butterflies like this one:

090216 Nature walk

I think we'll come back and give this place another try during the rainy season, when everything is in full bloom and there's actually water in the waterfalls.

What is it? By Panasonic

Here's the latest "What is it?" The only clue I will give you is that this was photographed on the wall. Put your best guesses (and worst ones, too) in the comments.

090215 Rest of the house

What is it? A water heater

Our "What is it?" post entitled "Electric Power" sparked (no pun intended) some nice detective work by Ryan and Phil, and they successfully figured this one out. The device on the wall is an inline water heater. A typical water heater in America (usually in the garage or the attic) will heat water and then store it for use; an inline water heater only heats the water as it passes through the heater. This naturally creates a trade-off: Either you can have volume of water or you can have hotness of water, but not both. And there's another variable you can't see, our large water storage tank out back. The longer that's been in the sun, the hotter the water will be.

So, what do we see in this picture? As I mentioned earlier, there's no shower or bathtub, just a curtain rod. And there's actually not just one water heater, but two; the second one is for the kid's shower. Does all of this look a little weird? It is. Notice the mismatched tiles: colorful on one wall, white on the other. It seems that there used to be only one giant bathroom upstairs, and the owner split it into two bathrooms by simply adding a wall (the white one) down the middle. Hence the weird location for the shower and the two heaters. All in all, it makes for a functional, albeit different, bathroom.

090215 Rest of the House

And to answer your thoughts, Phil, there's a water pump in the back yard which pumps it up to the bathroom. It doesn't work by pressure here, like it does in the States.

My Thai House: Kid's Bedrooms

The kids' bedrooms are much smaller than the mater bedroom; they are big enough for a bed and a couple pieces of furniture. Note again the wardrobe (instead of a closet) and the use of pressed board. Here's Emmy's room:

090215 Rest of the house

Here's Jacen's room.

What is it? Electric power

Here's the next "what is it?" The only hint I'm giving is that it's found in the master bathroom. As usual, guess your guesses in the comments.

090215 Rest of the house

My Thai House: Master Bedroom

If you've been following along our blog, then you've already seen most of the downstairs of our new house in Thailand. So let's move upstairs. The master bedroom is surprisingly roomy, plenty of space for a bed and some furniture. There are no closets in the house, so they use wardrobes instead (just like when we lived in Germany).

The most interesting piece of furniture in our bedroom is the bed itself. When I first laid down on the bed, I thought oh my! someone forgot to take the cardboard off of the mattress before they made the bed! But when I looked under the sheets, there was no cardboard. This bed is incredibly hard, and it's supposed to be that way. Apparently this is common in Asia. Now I know you're thinking that you've slept on a hard mattress before; not so. Maybe you've slept on a firm mattress, but not on a Thailand-hard mattress. Would you like to simulate this yourself? 3 easy steps: 1) find a concrete floor. 2) put down your best 2 blankets. 3) goto sleep. I'm serious. This mattress is so hard, we often wake up sore in the morning. We're not complaining, mind you; at least we have a bed.

The furniture in our bedroom, indeed in nearly all the house, is pressed board. Apparently it's all the rage right now in Thailand. Personally, I don't care for it. But it is inexpensive, and I think it's also termite-proof.

If you look above the wardrobe, you'll see the A/C unit. Each room in the house has its own unit. Like the living room, there many, large windows in the bedroom to maximize airflow. So far we've slept without any A/C at night, using a giant floor fan to keep us cool. There's also a small balcony, right behind where I took the picture from.

090215 Rest of the house

The master bathroom has most of the amenities you would expect in the States: sink with cold (but not hot) water, a shower (with cold and hot water), and a real toilet (no squatty potties here, thank goodness!). The entire thing is tiled, which makes it easy to clean. There's not an enclosed shower or tub; the shower curtain (on the left side of the picture) is simply pulled across one part of the bathroom to form the shower. We use a squeegee to push most of the water down the drain; the heat does the rest.

What is it? Stick + pan = cookies

In our "a stick and a pan" edition of "what it is?" both guessees guessed cotton candy, which is certainly what it looked like. But not so. Here's the sign above the booth to help you out:

090207 Flower Festival

The pricing is very interesting. To eat one cookie, you must first take five baths. No hints on how he verifies this requirement.

Now if you're wondering exactly how he makes his cookies, take a look at this picture. First he pours batter into the metal container. It has many small holes in the bottom, which he uses to pour the batter into the pan. Finally he uses a stick to roll it up, thus making the cookie.

We didn't actually try one of the cookies, so I'm can't make any statements on the strength of his claim to make the best cookies.

Today, I wore socks

Now it might not sound blog-worthy to you to note that I wore socks today, but for me, it is. Why? Because it's the first time I wore socks since we left the States. Seriously, we don't wear socks over here. Flip-flips, yes. Sandals, yes. Socks, not so much. I wore them today because I went and played tennis this morning with some friends. Oh my goodness is my shoulder sore. I have not served a tennis ball since the early 90's, and it showed!


So we're walking along the canal road and checking out the booths during the Chiang Mai flower festival last weekend. At the end of the road we found this booth with a large sign in Thai with a translation underneath: Dairy Dummy Company (DDC). What on earth is a dairy dummy company? A fake company that sells dairy products? A company who sells dairy to dummies? A company who sells dairy dummies (kinda like crash test dummies, only different)? I don't know. But I wasn't motivated to buy anything from them.

Diary Dummy Company

What is it? A bag of water

In the photo below, notice the two bags of water suspended with the blue string. What are they? Or perhaps, What are they doing? As always, put your guesses in the comments.

090207 Flower festival

Religion vs the Gospel

I highly recommend a recent lecture by Mark Driscoll on the 9 Distinction Between the Gospel and Religion, which you can either watch online or save as an MP4. I confess that I am religious at times, but I know that I need only the gospel.


So we were at the Chiang Mai flower festival last weekend. At one of the little booths, it looked like they were selling bugs to eat. So I sauntered over to take a lot and sure enough, those were bugs. I took a shot (not my sharpest ever), and then a guy who was standing in front of the booth (not behind it) said in clear English, "Delicious." Ah-ha! Someone who speaks a language I understand. "What are they?" I asked. He promptly picked up one of the bugs and held it up to my mouth, obviously expecting me to indiscriminatingly chow down. I politely declined by asking again, "What is it?" He simply smiled and kept holding the bug out to me. At this point I knew he was a poser who knew about as much English as I know Thai, so I smiled and walked away.

But if I had taken a bite, I'm sure it would have been...delicious.

090207 Flower festival

I can't really identify the bugs in the foreground, but I think those are grasshoppers in the upper right corner. Can you help me ID these guys?


The Chiang Mai flower festival featured a variety of flowers on display, some that were prize-winning and some that were just beautiful. Orchids were in abundance and came in a variety of colors, including white, pink, yellow, and peach. Here's my favorite shot.

090207 Flower festival

Chiang Mai Flower Festival

Someone told us that this weekend was the annual Chiang Mai Flower Festival. We weren't really sure what this meant, but we decided to head downtown and find out. It was one part parade, one part carnival, one part county fair, and one part festival. There were about a dozen floats made out of flowers, not unlike what you'd see at the Rose Parade in CA, if not quite as elaborate. The floats portrayed Thai themes and were covered in flowers. They were quite beautiful to look at. While we were there, the floats were simply parked in the middle of the road, allowing us to photograph them; we heard the actual parade was later that day.

090207 Flower festival

There were many vendors selling various products in booths on sides of the road and along the paths in the park. Foods, flowers, clothes, and toys for kids were especially numerous. I bought an orchid plant for $1 USD and a small version of this flower for less than a $1 USD. There were also some rides, the results of a flower-growing contest, and a stage where the Miss Flower Bloom Beauty Contest 2009 would be held (presumably later). There were lots of people there, locals and expats, and it was fun to walk about and see everything.

What is it? A stick and a pan

Ok, I suppose this really should be titled "What is he doing?" We went to the Chiang Mai flower festival today (pictures of flowers and floats coming later) and found this guy working in a booth. So what is he doing? As usual, post your guesses in the comments.

090207 Flower festival

Little red and yellow flowers

Emmy and I went walking this morning and found these pretty little flowers growing on a fence near one of our neighbors. If you know what they are, please let me know in the comments.

090207 Neighborhood flowers

What is it? A ant cabinet

Our fourth edition of "what is it?" was a real stumper; no one correctly guessed what it was. No one was close. The answer: it's the anti-ant mechanism for our ant cabinet. Ants are everywhere in Thailand, and they've already invaded our house. If you don't have some way of keeping them out of your food, they'll eat your out of house and home. Thus we have an ant cabinet. The blue gizmos at the bottom function as moat of sorts, a moat filled with baby powder. Someone figured out that ants can't or won't cross baby powder, thus keeping them out of the food.

090111 Kitchen

Hmm, that's different.

42 stories high

Ok, the last time I went to the top of the hotel, we were 18 stories high. Today I went with another friend to the other hotel building in this complex, and we went 42 stories high. Wow.

090123 Pattaya

This building is so massive, there are two helo pads on it. You can see one of them, as well as the coastline up to Pattaya, in this picture.

On top of the hotel

A friend and I decided to go to the top of our 17-story hotel and see if we could get some good pictures. It turns out there are actually 18 stories, and there's a room of sorts up on the 18th story. We got lucky, 'cause housekeeping was in there and let us go onto the balcony. So we took some pictures. Here's one looking out toward the beach.

090123 Pattaya

We found this windy, rickety, metal staircase that went up onto the roof itself. The view on the roof was perhaps a bit less pleasant.