Friday, November 23, 2007

Way back to 2004 in more ways than one.

I'm finding new and creative ways to not pour through every piece of paper that I've touched in the last five years.

Listening to some old tunes. Eminem's track "Mosh" once again doesn't disappoint. He's not really my favorite artist, but he is brilliant and this song strikes an important chord with me. Free speech is ill, but not dead.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

"Back To Reality, Oops There Goes Gravity"

So I missed my daily post ideal by a _long_ shot. I tripped on my way to a beach in southern Cambodia and woke up on Garth's couch. Some things in my life were causing me grief and not everything can be taken care of from 12 time zones away.. as much as I will it to be different.

So I'm back, reality is taking a bit (a lot) of getting used to. The blog lives on, just need a couple more days to deal with a nagging feeling in my head that I am in hell.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

One good reason to not live in Cambodia

You will have to look at these two pictures in tandem unfortunately. They are out of focus and poorly lit. So was I obviosly. WiMax is surprising, but Cambodia also had one of the fastest and highest cell phone adoption around in the early days. I guess when you have no existing sunk cost of infrastructure, you are free to adopt newer technologies as a cost savings (ones that don't involve burrying billions of dollars of medium).

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Lame post in my quest for daily thoughts.

I've been a busy boy; leaving scant moments to think about blogging. I am also cheating a bit with my daily posts, me being 11 hours ahead of the blogger clock and all. Its actually the 4th where this comes from.

I'm about to hop into a boat for the day to go fishing with my new best "friend" before slipping back into Thailand for the 50th time.

Friday, November 2, 2007

The Time Traveler's Wife (Yet another book report)

I lost my copy of The Trial. I got rudely awoken from a coma on a long bus trip in Thailand. It was 4am and time to switch buses. How rude. I left; witless and bookless. I guess it could have been worse. It was a great story, or at least the first half. In perhaps the biggest swing in reading history, I picked up a love story called “The Time Traveler's Wife” at a used bookstore. Selection is generally limited in such places and I tend to find myself picking up anything that I’ve heard of and this title had recently received a glowing recommendation from a friend. I always try to read books that people recommend to me, so it was a better situation than I would normally find myself in.

Book’d but still witless, I powered through this delightful tomb in short order. I found myself hopelessly in love with Claire (the female main of the book - someone or other’s wife) and sympathetic for the time traveler and all of the issues that his affliction causes. The author nicely side stepped the whole time line pollution / what comes before what / space time continuum / collision / infinite number of timelines or 5 timelines… or whatever… that usually dogs time travel stories. She just didn’t talk about it which was actually refreshing. As soon as a story tries to address the proposed “science” or philosophical implications of time travel it either becomes impenetrable or so full of holes that you spend too much time trying to fill them. Anyone recently watched “Back to the Future”? They kind of explain part of the problems of time travel (Marty McFly meeting his mother etc.) which makes you start to be worried about polluting / changing events in the future, but then they do things like Marty (from the future who doesn’t even exist yet) being the impetus for the guitar sound of Chuck Berry. How did Marty know how to play Johnny B Good if Berry never found his “sound” without the help of Marty? There are a bunch of points that regress infinitely or circle back on each in these types of stories. In any event, Back to the Future isn’t a stunning example of theoretical time traveling wisdom. Neither is “The Time Traveler's Wife” I guess, but I didn’t even think about the chronicle ins and outs. I was more than happy to just agree that this was how it was and to wonder along with the characters about what was going on.

Not quite like Stienbeck’s uncanny ability to devote 3 pages to the colour of dirt, but the writing style of Audrey Niffenegger definitely indicates that her topics are very well researched (or well experienced). I didn’t know anything about making paper but there were quite detailed and enjoyable descriptions of the process. She didn’t say “they played a game of pool and a ball was sunk”; she described the play by play in detail. I’ll call it a pleasing compromise between sparse and ad nauseum.

I’ve rewritten the following 10 times. I didn’t know the name of the author until I was done the book, didn’t even look. By the end of it though, I was convinced that the author was a dude. I really don’t think that I am predisposed to assume that about something that I am reading, but maybe I am? I’ve never really thought about it. I hope that there is something in the style and content that made me start to feel that way and that I began this book with a completely neutral opinion about it. I have never read 500 pages without knowing the author, so I don’t have a lot of data on how my brain works. How do I identify with the author of fiction that I read (and what role does their gender play in this?)

Does it matter?

Looks like it is going to be a film. I look forward to it.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Off the rails in Phnom Penh

Hmmm it has been a while. Updating ye old blog hasn’t been top on the list. I’m trying to write more, but haven’t been successful. I’m going to update something here every day of November to try and keep me a bit more regimented. Only time will tell whether the following tidbit of info is fortunate or not, but this month will also see me updating from my old stomping grounds of Canada. Yikes.

D and I headed up to Bangkok and on to Cambodia. It came down to a choice of staying a week in Thailand waiting for the full moon or moving on to something a little bit more “active”. I was hesitant to come back here. It had been almost 10 years since my last visit and it is abundantly clear to me of late that you can never go back. I had also heard some distressing things. A friend who I have a strong attachment with (and also just happened to bear witness to my less than stellar start to traveling) had recently been to Cambodia, knew how I felt about my time there and told me in no uncertain terms that I should never return. That the place had turned into Disneyland and that whatever it was that I had found back in the day, it was not to be found here today. Five starred, air-conditioned bus ferried, sweaty, conical hat sporting tourists running amok in the most intense and favourite of the countries I had visited. This is the stuff that nightmares are made of. So I had to steel myself against coming back. In reality it was more an exercise in dissociation, around which I was mostly successful. So now I have two different visits to two radically different countries that just so happen to occupy the same geographical borders. There will inevitably be some posts around this, but my thoughts are still somewhat immature.

My self honouring kick took a little bit of a kicking. We somehow found a way to drink ourselves heavily across Cambodia. Hank became the villainous mastermind for everything from our debauchery to making a chair particularly uncomfortable. He did introduce us, and if that hadn’t of happened then we wouldn’t be nursing such ravenous hangovers. Simple logic really. Damn you Henry.

It was fun to travel with someone for a bit. Shared experience isn’t something that I have been having a lot of and we saw some strange shit together. When you assess the wreckage of countless beers, snakes on sticks, beef/goose/liver/??? lok lak (basically plates of quick, stir fried meat) and 5 drunk Khmers its nice to have someone sitting beside you who at least knows how to pronounce your name. Well, for most of the night anyways (sorry highschool). If I was out by myself that night then I would have brought my camera instead of relying on someone else. Henry – thanks for nothing. Why do you hate me so much? See? Its kind of fun :)

The caveat to having someone to talk to and share perspective is that some of my weaker moments were also born witness to. Like my lack of any sense of direction and poor haggling skills. Like leaving the door ajar to the room in our guest house one night and my resembling anything but a 'guide'. Or this fun late night diversion - hunkering down with some street side locals for a round of gambling in a card game that I didn't know the rules of. I always feel like there is a material cost for learning new games. It just so happened that there was so little English available to me that I spent $3 on learning almost nothing. Paying out mysterious odds and needing help to organize my hand against the house does not bode well for raking in mass amounts of cash. Derek says that I got robbed. I say that I was just the most unlucky tourist in the country. The truth is probably in between those two extremes, likely closer to Derek's estimate than I would like to admit. We ended up gambling more than I would have thought. Betting on baccarat, drinking bathtub gin at a casino in Cambodia is not something that you get to do with just any old friend. Do you know how to play baccarat? Neither do we. All said, I was able to keep my very surprising and perfect, 20 year in the running, every country I have ever been in, record of breaking even while gambling. Phew!

D doesn’t pull punches, shares the same humour as me and is one smart dude. I guess what I am saying here is that I didn’t really know him at all :) Good times, but remarkably unsustainable.