Tuesday, December 28, 2010


Brovic - Blogging since 1903

KHUK KHAK, Thailand - I was laying on my back, there on the floor, gently rocking, and thinking about how one's life can revolve around schedules, habits, and routines, and how yoga on a full stomach isn't a good idea, especially the inverted postures, especially spicy fish.

What to eat and when to eat pretty much determines a yoga routine, or conversely, the yoga, routinely, determines when to eat and what to eat. And then there are other things, like time, or alcohol, or work, that are precluded by the routine. I'm left thinking, 'will it interfere with the yoga?'

Hey, I'm not a yoga freak, like some people I know. On and off for 40 yrs, mostly off, with entire muscle groups neglected or atrophied, and energy centers blocked, calcified, or non-existent. I practice now because I have to if I want to walk or ride a motorbike, or sit in an airplane seat. How about you? Can you knock out some jumping jacks for me? Gimme a couple minute's worth.

'It's the hamstrings,' I kept thinking. 'It's all about the hamstrings.'*

Well, there's a lot of 'I's' up there, I know, but how can you tell a personal story if you don't use 'I'? How you going to get to know someone if they don't self-disclose? That's what I told the shrink when she asked why I was asking so many...have I already told you this?

Over at the VA...in South Dakota. Anyway, how is a person going to relate? I knew she'd never been in combat...spent all her time going through med school**...so...oh, never mind. Talk about ideas.

Like schedules.

Yeah. Schedules. There was school, with the bell going off, Mrs. Rose ringing a hand bell on the playground at recess, practice schedules, haircuts, everybody's got work-related schedules, always late for church, can't be late for a date, a squad of rubber mold presses dropping every fifteen minutes, track practice laps, mid-terms, conditioning schedules, press deadline, medication schedules, time to mow the lawn, pick up the kids, doctor's appointment, parent/teacher conference, tax deadline, time to harvest, time to plant, and ohhhhh, this could go on for...

"SCHEDULE???" Exclaimed Bo as he and Misty and I were headed down Slim Buttes Road into Chadron, and I had foolishly said we were running behind schedule, something you don't really say on the rez. Late for an appointment, sure, but not schedule.

"We ain't GOT no fuckin' schedules," one of 'em said, and I can't remember who. I'm thinking it was Misty, but it could've been Bo. All I remember was slowing down and thinking I'd used a poor choice of words. All three of us squashed together in heavy winter coats on the bench seat of that old, cold-ass Chevy truck, running late, in my mind, for something.***

That's the way it is on the rez, where most people, something like 95%, are unemployed. Astounding, isn't it? But the flipside is, there's low stress. If you discount a number of early death-related factors. So rez life should be pretty loose, which it is. Why am I talking about the rez, and not Phang Nga province or coolies in rice paddies? I don't know.

I had yellow rice and chicken for breakfast, with sticky rice and coconut...then swam in the Sea. Facebook stuff.

Point is, we're conditioned since, who knows, the womb?..since the womb, to be on schedule. Give or take some delivery time and time between then and potty training and the recess bell and when the boss is picking you up for lunch, your anniversary, your meds, and when's the funeral.

And all along, our bodies are recording the whole shebang, the muscles and tissue layers responding to the injuries, the scars, the deaths, the trauma, laser scorching anger, defenses, the boys don't cry, the drill sergeant, handcuffs, trapeze fall, heavy lifting, humiliation and shock of surprise, and fears, all constricting and leading us to a certain particular way of walking on Earth.

- end

* Everybody knows it's more than just the hamstrings.

**I'm going to ask her, what's her motive. Can't be the pay. Service to her country?...the war effort? She can easily answer that one, don't you think? I asked about missing the trees in Indiana, the oaks, the sycamores, the maples, hickorys and hardwoods you don't get in South Dakota, and she seemed uneasy with the question. "I miss them," I told her, just wanting to see if she could relate.

***Maybe I already told you this one. I did, didn't I? But not in the same context.


Monday, December 27, 2010

God 2010

Brovic - Blogging since 1903

God 2010

KHUK KHAK , Thailand - A friend recently wrote in an end-of-the-year email, 'God 2010 has been tough.' Without punctuation, you can easily see where this ambiguity could lead. 'God, Twenty-ten.' It sounds kind of like, 'God 2.0', a new improved version.

For those of you still using God 1.0...you must first uninstall your old version of God, and then download...

'Your download should begin automatically. Simply click and drag the God icon into your applications folder. If God 2010 has been less than user-friendly, you may find God 2011 to be more kind to you. More kind, more loving, faster.'

If you are having difficulty, click on 'Help'.


In other good 2010 news I forgot to tell you, a couple of weeks back, after years of foot-dragging, the US finally became a signatory party to the UN's Resolution for Indigenous People's Rights, a great day for native people around the world.

I observed in a minor journalistic role, along with Milo Yellow Hair, Tom Cook, Loretta, Uncle Joe American Horse, Uncle Joseph (Larue) Afraid-Of-Bear, and several other members of the Oglala and Great Sioux Nation who met with representatives of the U.S. Departments of State, Justice, and Interior, when they gathered at Ft. Robinson several years ago during tribal consultations on formulations of drafts to the resolution.

It was confusing, to say the least, with Indians bringing a mountain of issues, complaints, and wrath to the meetings, for which the government officials were unprepared to address.

Much of those proceedings, which boiled down to Indians asserting their right to sovereignty, have been forgotten or lost in bureaucratic lack of inertia, with the head of the government delegation promising, 'We'll get back to you on that,' which they never did.

The funniest part of the whole business was following that comment, one of the Indians stood up and said, 'We give you three days.'*

That was in 2005.

- end

*this was particularly funny because back during the treaty-making days of the 19th century, government officials would issue this sort of ultimatum to the Indians, to be concluded with, 'or else we will consider you hostile,' with the unspoken '...and hunt you down and kill you.'.


Friday, December 24, 2010

Coal In Your Stocking

Brovic - Blogging since 1903
Coal In Your Stocking

KHUK KHAK, Thailand - There are some things you shouldn't do alone, they say;

the holidays

A poll asked if you'd been good this year. The results were positive overall, but nonetheless disturbing, as 65% of the respondents declared they had been good, flossing, fighting the forces of evil and saving the planet from the other 35% who reported being bad.

Problem is, I know as well as you that a fairly substantial portion of the people who said they'd been good, are outright liars, such as myself. I haven't been that good, really, enough to say that generally, 'I've been good'. Not as good as I used to be.

No. Quite the opposite, in fact. People such as me would skew the results and render the poll invalid, tainted, or at the very least, unsubstantiable. And how much bad would be required to offset the good, tipping the scales into the 'bad' category? Can you say you've been good ALL the time?

yeah, yeah, yeah. bullshit. I don't believe you. If it was true, your actions, your neighbors, loving God and all that, then why, pray tell, would we be in such shape as we are, world-wise?

Ahhhhh. 'Shit happens', you say? Well, shit happens because of prior shit happening, no? And, leave God out of it, even if He has His hand in all things, despite whether or not you think God is a man and has hands.


Thankfully, the bike repair shop guys were still working on Christmas Eve, because Christmas doesn't mean anything to the Thai. The guy could've changed that tire in his sleep, he'd done it so many times, changing out the tube and ready to go again before I could stub out the cigarette I'd lit while he worked. About three bucks. In and out in five minutes.

The front tire went flat while I was going about 3/4 bat out of hell, not quite full bat. I felt the wobble and immediately slowed down, hoping the thing wouldn't throw me, like that other guy the other day; an ugly slap of metal on metal, the truck's screeching tires, the bike spinning across the road, the rider flailing, rolling, tumbling across the asphalt.

Not good. Another chalk outline on the blacktop. Sometimes there's not much you can do, if you were thinking of aid. Sometimes the best you can do is hold their hand while they die. Tell them everything is going to be okay.

That's another thing you don't want to do alone.


Thursday, December 16, 2010

Low Water Mark

Low Water Mark
Brovic - Blogging since 1903

VIENTIANE, Laos - Looking down on the street from a fourth-floor balcony must be something like being in the spirit world; you can hear and see people, but they can't hear or see you, nor do they, in going about their business, appear to have any idea you're there at all.

'Square up' to the bucket, coaches said. Square up to the keyboard. You could get a crick in your back.

Do people suffer alone, or do we pretty much share the same ailments? Spared some, and given others, huh? Blessings wrapped in a karate chop. That silver lining people speak of.

I've got to get to work on China. I read the stats on this blog for the first time since...since 1903, I guess, and saw that most of my readers are in Germany and the States, with a few readers in Thailand, Mexico, Sweden, and Japan, but only eleven people in China. Holy Smokes, isn't that a HUGE population over there? Seems like that's a market I should try to crack.

No need to go on about the bad knees business, but this being a 'walking city', where motorbikes are too fast for gawking, and the 1950s vintage sit-up-straight French bicycles are too corny to be seen riding, I needed to wait until the endorphins kicked in, or go find the strongest possible pain-killer possible before venturing out onto the street.

Where do you find the strongest possible pain-killer in Vientiane? Motorcycle taxi driver, where else? Hooked up a mere twenty minutes after going through immigration. 'You want girl? You want lay-dee?' he asked in a whisper?

'Nah. Just the...'

Problem is, after taking them, they were so good, I was afraid to leave my room.

Paranoia. Paranoia, an unrealistic fear. Paranoia can have you:

Run to the window.
Swallow the roach.
Talking about the illuminati.
Flush your stash down the toilet.
Turn the music down.
Slow to under the speed limit.
Keep looking in the rear-view mirror.
Thinking the reptilians are out to get us.
Spray the air.
Light incense.
Brush your teeth.
Use mouthwash.
Keep looking around.
Close your Facebook account.
Remain in the car.
Remain in your house.
Remain on the couch.
Slap on some after shave.
Wonder if that's a cop.
Peek out the curtains.
Swear to God you'll never do it again.

What do they say? 'Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they're not out to get you.'

Nothing stays the same, except when it doesn't. Down along the river, where the 'Mighty Mekong' was lined with quaint little restaurants on stilts and the embankments thick with gardens and vegetation, has now all changed.

For a year they've been continuously trucking in loads of earth from somewhere downriver, grading it, packing it with steamrollers, and have built a new sea wall, capped with concrete, and constructed a huge, expansive sculpted block inlay promenade that now has the place looking like...Geneva.

It's quite nice, with potted plants, artistic landscaping, a children's playground, and each evening throngs of people exercising, bicycling, or coming out for the sunset, but not the same. You wouldn't recognize the place.

Gone is the huge pavilion where the Lao girl in spandex would lead an aerobics class of a hundred each night, and where I laid down on the cool concrete and passed out after running a four-block wind sprint after taking a strong pain-reliever two years ago.

Gone is that Vietnamese riverfront restaurant that rented the bikes, and all those other places you could sit and watch the sun drop into the Mekong while having a tall beer Lao, a spicy lab salad, or Mekong river fish.

So now, to relieve the two-way traffic congestion, they've created another road running parallel to the promenade, the river, and the old street. That's a new road between the river and the old road. Everything is different.

Dick Martin, the late Richard Martin, my wonderful journalistic mentor and cutthroat editor, would say, 'Don't tell me about it - show me!'

Like they say, 'a picture is worth a thousand words.' And so that's what I'm trying to do with all this new digital technology that I have an innate resistance to, to which I have an innate resistance, Dick, Martha, Kathy Short, the librarian...and so there's some photos up on this blog.

And another thing...for the first time since...1903, I guess...I checked the stats...already told you...checked the comments, too, for the first time. Geeeee, you guys! Thanks so much, and thanks for the encouragement. Here I was thinking nobody was reading because few of you email or let on...and then there's this guy in China...

What? I need to catch you on Facebook? I'm too paranoid.

Another thing...you can go all over the place (virtual world) can't you? I mean, I'm just finding out. Never mind.

I noticed while going through a number of airports recently, the aforementioned body scan, and everybody playing with their electronic gadgetry. It's a remarkably easy fake out, to pretend you're on a phone, loudly taking a call, or fiddling with your thumbs on an imaginary device, not interacting with your immediate environment, 'being' somewhere else.

The dedicated SLR slung around your neck is a museum piece. Electronic technology has made everyone 'at the scene.' Everyone is a photographer. Everyone is a writer. No more waiting for the paper to hit your doorstep. Those days are long gone. Paperboy Same same milkman. News is instantaneous. Kind of takes the unique sort of journalistic fun out of it for me. Unless you've got it running through your veins.

Another thing...you can check out around other folk's blogs...sure...I'd just never done it, and lo and behold! There are some really nice blogs out there! Design-wise, some beautiful work, give me some ideas...like putting up photos...and content-wise, as well. Some good ideas floating around, and not all nonsense, like some people. Or some of that angry stuff people post on U-Tube. Unfuckingbelieveable what some people say.

Where does that leave us? Numb? I mean, can we be shocked by anything, anymore? Two wars? Two wars? Katrina, tsunami, job gone, house gone, retirement gone, 911, Sarah Palin, heyyyyyyyyy. Anything fucking thing can happen, can't it?

Every once in awhile, something really cool happens...the internet, guys emerge from a cave, black man's elected president, San Aung Su Kyi set free, Dick Cheney goes away, Voyager keeps plugging to the edge of nothing, guys find anti-matter, and what other remarkable shit has happened that you're glad to witness?

Meanwhile, to keep you occupied...'This week, Lindsey Lohan...'

Did you ever wonder where the term, 'Who gives a flying' fuck?' came from? I'd like to tell you I coined it, but I didn't.

And another thing...(can't nobody say that like a black woman), this time, from the Funny Front; that toothpaste to which I'm preferential, 'Darlie', nice eco-friendly green and white box, dapper fellow in a top hat and big smile, I recently found out, was modeled after Al Jolson in blackface, and originally named, 'Darkie'.

WTF! Yeah, 'Darkie'. It's sold widely throughout Asia, and is produced under another company under Colgate Palmolive, who changed the name because of, well, you know, it's just not politically...what do you say?..politically...it's not proper, racially, to have some big lipped nigga in a top hat grinnin' a big-ass white smile, so they toned it down, turned the brother into a white man, shrank the lips, shrank the smile, and changed the name.

Except for the Chinese. The Chinese still sell the product in China as 'Darkie.' Wanna know why? Because they don't give a frying fuck about black people or other sensitivities the rest of the world observes, in some cases, to be fair, in their own interests of course, just like us, but their tune is slowly changing because of precious minerals and other commodities. In Africa.

In any case, I'm not buying the shit any more. Darlie, Darkie, got me looking at all the toothpaste manufactures labels. Colgate? What else do they make?

Everything. They make everything.

Man, I came up here with no proper writing instruments. No laptop, no paper, no pen. Had to wait until I was in line in immigration to fill out the arrival card because I didn't want to appear the fool to the Chinese guy sitting across the aisle in the plane by asking to borrow his gold pen.

On my way out (of Don Muang domestic terminal in Bangkok), I got side-tracked over to a couple of immigration officers taking care of the overstay people. As the lady did the paperwork for two days overstay at 500 TB per day, I began a prepared routine...

"I stay for the King birthday."

"One thousand baht," she said pleasantly.

"The King gib me one day," I said. "FREE!"

She looked up. "The King give me one day," I repeated seriously. "I sa-tay for the King's birthday."

His 83rd. It was huge. The whole city was lit up, jam-packed with people in the streets. Everybody lub the King.

She considered, and it looked like she was changing the receipt. She said something to the man on her left at an adjacent desk, and another uniformed man slouched in a chair behind them. They laughed good-naturedly, shaking their heads no.

"FOR THE KING?" I asked incredulously. "You charge me for the King's BIRTHDAY?"

They blushed. The lady wouldn't look me in the eye. Ashamed, she said, 'Sorry. One thousand baht.'

1 USD = 28 Thai Baht. Last year, 33. Five years ago, 42. Ten yrs. ago, 48. When we print more money to fix our predicament, it becomes devalued IN the world; don't need an economist to tell us that.


I was feeling kind of bad for not connecting with my immediate environment, and it wasn't a cell phone, but rather, an insensitive disregard for the less fortunate who crossed my path, maybe I already told you.

So I was sitting at dinner, just off the sidewalk, watching the guy with no hands approach tourists up and down the street. And there was that lady in the hand-cranked tricycle cart, the one I'd ignored the previous day while I sat eating breakfast.

'I'm not going to jump up, but if they approach me, I'll give,' I thought.

Neither of them approached me, but after dinner I was doing that old-man-after-dinner stroll down the row of vendors, not looking to buy anything, and there he was, right behind me, the handless man. He didn't see me. He was hitting up some other people, who refused. When he turned toward me, I already had the note out, which he accepted between his two stubs and thanked me in Lao.

I walked off, but turned to see him turn and give the note to a little boy, who scampered off the sidewalk to his mother in the hand-cranked bike/cart, giving her the note with a grin and big eyes.

'Oh. They're all together.' We didn't sit at the same table, but in a sense, we all ate together.


My New Digital Camera

So, these new photos posted herein are a result of importing the recordings off the chip and exporting them to the blog, which I did, after erasing my previous work and the 265 shots of a visit to Hong Kong by a group of young friends, one of whom, the redhead,* dropped her brand new 10.0 Sony Cybershot onto the beach, which was found by the Swede, who gave it to me, since she already had one.

She was staying at the Mariott, according to her digital recording of the room, the view, the dining room, the beach. The Swede said she tried to find the owner, but no one would claim the camera, so I thought about it in a karmic sense and the connection between my good fortune and the misfortune of someone else; the camera coming to me, my sense of worth following the motorbike accidents; Vietnam as a medic...

and then there was the connection between the doctor/therapist and the patient/client, the teacher and the student. Which is which, and who is who?


*see photo