wander project taking the family to Thailand!

When my dad retired from the University, he and mom wintered in Bangkok. I always wanted to say that. I winter somewhere other than where I summer. In their case the Thai Government hired dad as a consultant and flew him over to Thailand, they, mom and dad, selected to go during the winter months to reduce the amount of time they had to shovel snow and things like that. During one of those first years (I think they went to 5 or 6 consulting events in Bangkok) mom and dad decided they wanted to have the grandchildren all see Bangkok. Each of the families flew over to stay at IPST and hang out in Bangkok (my one sister went to Chang Mai, we went to Pattaya as well as Bangkok).

It was a chance for all of us to see Thailand. My wife, by then was probably sick of stories of Bangkok. Of the Sunday Market and the kites. The food, and of course my constant complaints about Pineapple and Mangos in the US. She got to experience the food that I love! She developed a few rules about Thai food, no slimy, and NO SPICY. She did try lots of different things. Of the twins, one of them loves food and was willing to try just about anything once. We ate at a variety of places, and they were fine with most of the food we got. The other twin and his sister were not as comfortable with the food; they ended up eating rice and breakfast cereal.

We decided to see if we could take them to the US Restaurant Kentucky Fried chicken one day, just to get some protein in the two of them. Mom and I ordered the one Thai rice dish they had on the menu. It was, without a doubt, the hottest meal I ate in Bangkok. Not US hot, Thai hot in a US Fried Chicken chain, a little well disconcerting.  We, my wife and I were a little nervous about this trip. We were concerned that 24 hours on an airplane would be tough on the twins. They did better than my wife and I. They slept, played video games and had a great time the entire trip over and back on the airplane. I guess all the concern we had upfront ended up being good planning!


Wander project when a human walked on the moon

Fifty years ago I spent every minute from 9 am yesterday until the 24th of July glued to the Television set. I waited to hear what Walter Cronkite had to say. Apollo 11 was launched yesterday a little after 9 am EDT. That small launch changed everything. We fulfilled with five months to spare the promise of John Fitzgerald Kennedy. That we would land a man on the moon before the end of the decade (his promise was made in 1963) and return him safely. In the modern world, we would have used person and them, gender-specific pronouns are something we watch now. But then it was a man. In particular, it was three men who risked everything to do something that had never been done before.

To leave footprints on the surface of the moon.

Neil Armstrong and his copilot Buzz Aldrin landed on the surface of the moon on the afternoon of July 20. I had been glued to their progress and was waiting for the words. Houston Tranquility Base here, The Eagle has landed. The LEM or Lunar Module had been dubbed the Eagle. They, Apollo 11, were landing in the Lunar Sea of Tranquility. It was not a sea but called that many years before. The early observations of the moon and Mars were limited by the quality of the devices used. As Telescopes got better, humans saw more and more. But the first viewers had already selected the names. So, Apollo 11 landed in a sea that was not a sea, although it was tranquil.

My dad would come home from university and ask me for an update each day. I would pass along what Walter Cronkite had told us. I don’t remember the name of the science reporter whom Walter Cronkite called upon, but his words hung in the air around me. I watched the descent of the Eagle from the command module orbiting the moon. I listened to the gaps with fear and trepidation. Each 30-second pause (radio signal from earth to the moon, then back was 30 seconds or more) becoming more a tenser. Until the fateful words were heard, that moment was glorious. It was a triumph that would change the world forever. I was watching the day an Eagle landed on the moon.


Linda asked me of memories of Thai Food. I have so many memories of Thai Food. When we moved to Thailand in the 1970s, there was a lot of fear. I remember traveling through Europe on the way to Bangkok, and honestly, the food was different. It wasn’t the food I was used to in Europe. I liked most of the food we tried in France; I love the food in Ireland. But it was different. I won’t say it was a rational fear. It was pretty irrational overall. Our first experience of food in Thailand was the Café American that was a short walk from the hotel where we stayed. We were in the hotel for about a month or so, and the Café American was where most of the UNESCO families stayed.

My first attempt at Thai food was Salute Nua. Or to translate Beef Salad. What harm could befall you eating Beef Salad? First, I loved the flavor. The mix of beef, lime, and onions was superb. My dad said, avoid the little green peppers. They were small, what harm could come of that? I learned about the concept of fire at that point. I drank a lot of water. I later learned that milk was a better option, but we didn’t often get milk in Bangkok, and by the time I was 11, I was already a milk snob. I had fresh or nearly fresh milk in Wisconsin, the stuff outside of Wisconsin wasn’t that good. So I learned the lesson of fire, but the food was so good I hate it all.

That was my experience with Thai food. It is hot. They often ask you, American hot or Thai hot. In the beginning, I went, after my lesson of the Salad of Fire, American Hot. By the end of the year, I had moved to Thai hot. The thing that I loved the most about Thailand was the sheer wonder of fruit. I had in my life in Indiana had Mangos. They were fairly bland and an OK fruit. In Thailand Mangos were desert. They were amazing. Sticky Rice and Mangos and I were in heaven. Pineapple, something that previous to Thailand I thought was ok, but not great, was now beyond great. I even learned that I could hold my nose and eat Durian. Although I have to say we didn’t eat Durian often. I remember my mother saying “what is that stench” the first time dad cut a Durian open!


Wander project Bangkok

I get good pictures on occasion. One of my favorite pictures from my 3rd trip to Thailand is in this batch. We went to dinner on an old ship that had been retired and was now a restaurant. From our table, I could look out up the Chao Phyra river, and as you see in the pictures, we watched the sun go down as we ate. It is a magical picture for me, the setting sun. I love all the wonderful pictures I see online of the setting sun; each one is different in the sense that where the camera is, what the person captures and what is around the person as they capture the sunset. All of those variables are different, the sun, however, is the same in every picture. It is the sun.

The best part about sitting on the water as we ate was that we were on the water. Well, I know that is my thing, but it matters to me. Some of my favorite memories of my childhood are around being in the water. One of the favorite pictures of all time is my mother and I sitting on the beach my grandfather mad on lake Ripley. Beaches are created by time and waves. Or, they are created by lugging bags of sand down a hill and pouring them on the ground. Grandpa built a beach that went out to the edge of the first section of the pier. Funny, the other side of the pier was where the Bluegills hung out. But on the short side, there was sand. As a child, I didn’t think about how the sand got there.

As I got older, I helped with the opening of the pier. We added sand every year. We also brought a rowboat with an old Evinrude motor into the swimming area. You ran the motor to create a current that allowed all the leaves, gunk, and water plants to be moved away from the sandy area. Grandpa had clearly defined the limits of the beach. We didn’t often have the motor on the rowboat. The rowboats, once the summer started, came with the rental of the cottages. There were four cottages when I was little, three remaining as I got older. Grandpa and I painted the cottages one summer. I remember marveling at the amazing reality that my grandfather and my great grandfather had built the cottages.


Wander project Bangkok!

I get lost sometimes in the moments that flow from the pictures — today, still wandering the pictures of my trip to hang out with my parents. In particular, these pictures from Wat Pho. I have a picture of Wat Pho hanging in my office. A Wat is Thai for Temple. Some of the temples in Bangkok are 2500 years old.  Wat Pho is not that old, but it is a significant temple. First, because it still houses young monks. Many teenagers and young adults give up a year of their lives to serve as monks. You see them with brooms out sweeping up around the temple (Wat) as you walk into the facility. It is a sprawling facility and as you can see has lots of flowers as well as monuments.

Dad and I spent a lot of time that trip, the two of us, talking about Buddhism and its impact on his life. We stood by a temple (the pictures are deeper in the folder) and talked one night watching the temple lit against the night. Dad found great peace in Thailand. I don’t know that the peace he found in Thailand was sole because of Buddhism, but it certainly helped him. He and I spoke of that connection often, but that trip was the first time we had time to converse. Many times when we would come to his house for a lunch or a holiday event, I was juggling children. As I am sure, he was back when he would visit his father and mother in the Dells or Racine.

It is not to complain; I love my children. It is simply there are transitions in our lives. For me, it was first to become an adult. Then it was becoming a parent. Those transition points are not easy. I am not, as my grandfather said trying to use utility hole covers as frisbees. Each of those transitions was hard for me, and for those around me as they are for all of us. But, this trip, dad and I had a chance, mom and I had a chance just to be adults. I am proud of the people my parents were. Everyone has a path, and both my parents walked amazing paths. In the totem pole of life, we measure ourselves against the base; the base of my families pole is huge. Great people built the pole I am lucky to be on!


wander project Bangkok…

Within each of us lies seawater, the composition of which is millions of years old. As if we, humans, are insulated from nature. There is an adage that within each of us, there are two dogs. Which one will win? The one we feed, of course. It wins the war of attrition. But we are despite our protestations and our placards animals. We are in a Philla and an order. The scientist has placed us in a family. Our relatives often have more hair than we do (well at more than I do).  But from we burst forth. The two dogs are wrestling for control.  It’s funny because sometimes in moments of disillusion people will proclaim, “I am not an animal.” They are animals truly.

But humans come to change the meaning. Animal means you have no manners. Look at him, eat like an animal. Well, yes, thank you. I am an animal. The separation between me and the natural world was created by humans. I love inside a box. It is a climate-controlled box that has many ways of egress. There are places of comfort they sit and watch the world go by. The sun, rising in the east lights the back deck. To see the sunset you have to traverse the house to the other side. To the front, he screams as the sun dips below the horizon. Missed it, he says sadly; it will come again tomorrow! Different but the same, scientifically the only variance is what is between you and the sun.

We are animals. They are us. We live separate of animals. We hire pest control and spray for bugs. Is that a mouse? Put out traps quickly; we cannot have mice here. They are not the cousins of Mickey. Mickey can talk, and in talking, he would tell those pesky rodents to go home. Even though for most of them, the fields that were their homes are now houses. We live in the splendor of the natural world without being part of it. We sit in chairs on glass-bottom boats, and we watch the world go by. We are not animals we are humans.  You can count on one hand, the animals that kill for sport. You don’t even need your thumb for this exercise. We are one of those animals. 

I wonder. We live in nature until it is in our way, then we raise Cats to flatten what doesn’t fit our view.


wander project Bangkok

Sometimes perspective is a critical component of what you see. In this case, on the same level as the famous Reclining Buddha, you see the recline, but not all. That is the reality of pictures. What you can see is the picture you can capture. When you are close and wish to share the object in front of you, it is an option. When you re far, it is harder to share a closeup of the object, but in the case of a larger object, you can share all of it. As we consider the concept of sharing it brings to mind the goal. Why do we share pictures? Is there a driver that, upon seeing a Bee, or a Butterfly we want to share? There is, it is the connection components of what we call community.

I share because I wish others to know that I saw something. Many years ago, as we look at images from Thailand, I traveled a lot. I took these pictures home with me and showed them to my poor wife. I was not then, as bad as I am now in terms of numbers. I would take 100 pictures on a five or six-day trip. I didn’t take pictures inside the airplane. I still laugh about what the recruiter told me years ago when I joined the company. The recruiter is telling me I would be traveling 25% of the time. Most of us, back in those days, was away from home 100% of the time. What we realized is that between car trips and airplane trips, we were only actually traveling 25% of the time. The recruiter didn’t lie; just didn’t tell the whole truth.

I would share the pictures from the trip with my wife. Now, with my daughter and I on vacation, we take many more pictures. Where once I would capture 100, 200 moments while traveling now we capture 2000 or more moments. Some of the moments captured are not optimal, suboptimal perhaps. But with the rise of Digital Cameras and huge memory cards I can take 1000’s of bad pictures to get to the 4 or 5 good ones. With video, you can select entire chunks of time, and still be engaged in the event. One of my all-time favorite vacation videos comes from Amsterdam. The kids, at the dinner table, talking about topics that matter at that moment to them. The conversation captured on video.

Each moment we capture, we share is interesting.