Getting Wet

What harm can come from walking in the rain?
Most folks I know would rather stay inside
As if getting wet causes severe pain,
Holding on to the safety of their pride.
I enjoy the world without company,
Pretending I own all the puddled streets.
I think it funny, they need it sunny
As my footsteps complete the splashing beats.
An umbrella will provide no shelter
As I walk on such a beautiful day,
For it washes away all the clutter
Of what it means to experience play.
So let the clouds continue with their tears,
For the city is mine until it clears.

Rain Day

I know that the day has only begun,
But the clouds that have gathered, spitting rain,
Indicates that what we’ve planned is now done.
The puddles that have collected will stain
The drowned pavement with life’s expectations
And we will have to huddle within doors,
Complaining about these tribulations.
But do not think of this change as a chore;
Instead, look to what it has to offer.
The day’s deeds can wait for another time.
Go and open the neglected coffer,
And remember what you once found sublime.
It impairs your ability to play,
But don’t let the weather ruin your day.

I Failed My Test

I just sat down to write this blog post about getting ready to travel back to Jordan and having to get my PCR test done before I made it on to the flight when from upstairs at the house I am staying at, I heard the words I wanted to hear, “You’re negative!” It is a relief to know that I will not have to worry about that aspect of my travels right now. There are many other things I will have to think about as I try to make a couple of connections, and hope that all of the flights continue on the way that they are supposed to, but for right now the first hurdle has been cleared.

Flying across the world has always been a stressful experience because there are so many little factors and if one of them falls apart along the way, it will mess everything up in ways that could make the events a disaster. But now with Covid-19, there have been a few more wrinkles that have been thrown into the plans that add a few more factors that could make things fall apart happen more. Some countries are asking for a negative PCR test 72 hours before boarding a flight, and the United States has upped that by making the PCR test within the last 24 hours. It just means that any trip that I take internationally, I get to take a trip to a PCR testing site to get my test taken to make sure I can return back to the country where I live. I completely understand the reason why, but that does not mean that I will always enjoy the experience.

I had to actually go out twice to make sure that I had gotten my results in time. The new omicron variant complicated things as well. Because of the rise of Covid-19 right now, there are many people that are going out to get their tests done. This has created long lines not only at the testing sites, but also adding backing up the places where they processed the tests to get the results back to the people who took the test in the first place. I could also not just show up at a place to get a test done. I had to schedule an appointment and still sit in long lines before I was able to get a swab stuck up my nose. Luckily, my wife scheduled two appointments, one at a place that would get the results back in 72 hours, and rapid results place. Both of them were difficult to schedule, and we were lucky to have them.

I did go out on a rainy day two days ago to get my first test done. We were able to sit in our car as we waited to get to the place where we would get our test. This was nice because it was a rainy Oregon day, and I don’t know what that would have been like if I had to sit outside while waiting to get tested. I sat in the line for a couple of hours, and eventually got tested. As of right now, I still have not gotten the results back yet, and the lady that administered the test told us that getting the results back in 72 hours might not happen because of the amount of tests that they had been given recently.

I took my second test a couple of hours ago, and this was a completely different experience. I had to drive to downtown Portland, park the car, and stand outside to wait for my turn to get the test. Luckily, the rain had stopped while we were waiting. I could not imagine someone who was sick right now, standing in that line in order to get tested if it had been raining outside. That could not have been good for them, so I wonder what they do when that happens. This line only took about 45 minutes to get through, but you could only join it if you had an appointment. The lab where they were doing the results was at the site, and they were able to process it quickly. In fact, on the ride home, my wife was given her results. I had to wait a little longer, but it was within a couple of hours of having taken the test.

It was a little bit of an inconvenience to have to do this, but that is the kind of world we live in right now. It is nice to know that I am safe enough to fly and that the people I will be sharing the flight with will also have the same negative results. I also know that it should not be forever, and there will be a day when we can go back to taking a flight the way we always used to without having these extra hoops to jump through. I am glad I made it through that first hoop, and I know I have a few more to get through, but in the end, I should find myself back in the safety of my home with the memory of spending the holidays with family and friends to hold on to.

Wet versus Dry

It is a rare thing when Colorado gets to be in the national spotlight, or even talked about at a level internationally. Usually, when it happens, it is due to some extreme story that does not make this part of the United States look great. There have been many tragic shootings, and fires that have devastated much of the forests in the mountains. But the fire that took place recently outside of Boulder, Colorado might be one of the most tragic that Colorado has encountered. Though only a couple people have ended up missing, over a thousand home burned down, and has changed the lives of all those people who have been displaced.

At the time of this writing, it is still has not been determined how the fire in the middle of a residential area got started. The initial thought that high, strong winds knocked down some power lines has been ruled out, but one thing is sure that if it was an act of nature, an accident, or something more malicious, there is one factor that cannot be denied about why it was so destructive, the dry conditions that Colorado has been experiencing this winter. After talking with people there, I was told about how little moisture they had been getting. There was a heavy rain back in the end of July, and they had a snow that collected an inch during the early days of autumn, but besides that there has been nothing. Colorado is already a desolate looking place during the autumn months, but extend that into winter, and it is only a matter of time that a fire will get started and we will witness the destruction like we last week.

On the flip side of that coin is too much rain. I have also been lucky to have spent some time in Oregon during this break as well, and if the main color in Colorado in December was brown, the main color in Oregon has been a bright green. This is not true for the whole state, but I have only been able to see what life is like in Portland, and it has rained most of the time that I have gotten off of the plane until now. It hasn’t been the typical mist in the air kind of rain that Portland usually experiences during the holidays either. There have been significant downpours, and if you travel further west into the higher elevations, this rain has turned into snow. And they are getting a lot of snow too. I-84 and a lot of the mountain passes have been closed due to too much snow falling in a short period of time, and it does not look like it will be stopping anytime soon. In fact, in certain parts of Portland, there have been Flood Watches and Advisories issued through Friday afternoon.

It all comes down to a statement that a lot of people have been saying to others lately, “Odd weather we’ve been having lately.” These statements are not just uttered in Colorado or Oregon either. There have been December tornadoes in Kentucky, severe drought conditions in Jordan, cyclone warnings in Australia, and sunny days in Antartica. Weather is out of balance, and we sit around and comment about how that is odd. There is a simple explanation for this odd behavior, but seem to want to be too polite to actually say it out loud in the random chance that we might offend someone. But these occurrences are going to get stranger, and more frequent unless we acknowledge that there is a problem, and start to do something to correct this problem. We have to admit that climate change is happening, and we not only need to change our habits to try to correct it, but we need to make sure that our laws and economic future also reflect these changes in our behavior. But it all starts by admitting that it is out there. So the next time you talk about the tragedy of nature, or the odd weather that we are experience, let the person know who you are talking to that it is a matter of climate change. They need to hear it, and the only way we will change our ways if we quit being polite about it.

The Best Posts of 2021

2021 was another rollercoaster of a year, and though Covid continued to make life difficult, things loosened up enough to allow me the opportunity to travel a little more this year than the previous one. It is always fun for me to look back at the posts from the previous, and it shows me how great the last year has been. I hope you feel the same way as you take a trip back through the year of 2021.

#10 – Hindsight

This is the perfect post to start off this list for the year 2021 considering how difficult a year 2020 was. Based on how little we learning this year and how it feels like we are in the same place this year where we were last year, it might be an important poem to start the 2022 year. This post is also one of three poems that appear on this list which is the most that has ever appeared on any of the end of the year lists I have ever created.

#9 – The Dead Sea, Jordan

I moved to Jordan at the beginning of August, but did not have the chance to explore it much until October. There are many places that I want to visit, but I got a gift card for a night’s stay at the Kempinski Hotel at the Dead Sea, so this was the first place I voyaged off to. It was a great experience, and floating in the salt water really surprised me by how easy it is to do. I am hoping to post many more travelogues from places I visit in Jordan and other close-by countries in the coming year.

#8 – Rain on a Work Day

I do enjoy sharing the poetry I write while traveling with you, but only a select few people really get into it. This is why I love it when one of my poems pops up on the top ten list for the year. This one was written during a rainy afternoon in March when I was visiting Khao Sok, a reservoir in southern Thailand. I had taken off work to take this trip, and I enjoyed the way the rain forced me to take things easy on a day that I should have been working.

#7 – A Desert Feast – Wadi Rum, Jordan

Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays. It is not about spending more or giving gifts. It is all about sharing time with family and friends. Since I have moved overseas, this holiday has meant something a little different for me, but this year I was able to have an experience that will make it one of my favorite memories of this day of celebration. I was able to head down to Wadi Rum with new members of my school and spend some time with the Bedouins that live there. The meal was not a traditional Thanksgiving feast, but it was the best one I have ever had for a meal that was cooked underground. You seemed to be intrigued by this process as well to make it one of the bigger posts of the year even though I posted it so late.

#6 – Walking Street – Koh Lipe, Thailand

I did get to travel to a lot of different places in Thailand during the pandemic, and I feel lucky to have had that experience. Out of all of them that I went to see, Koh Lipe will always hold a special place in my heart. Not only was it a beautiful place to relax during my Spring Break right before the country went back to lockdown. It was also my last hurrah while living in Thailand. Though there were many parts of this island paradise that I wrote about, it was this feature that resinated the most with my followers. I hope the information I gave will give those that eventually travel there the hints to enjoy this place as much as I did.

#5 – Elephants in the Morning Mist – Khao Sok, Thailand

One of the many stops I was supposed to go on my road trip through Thailand last Winter Break was to the reservoir at Khao Sok, but we had to cut that portion of the trip out when the country started to close down. Luckily, the people at the resort let us rebook for a time in March. It create a moment in my life that I will never forget, wild elephants eating breakfast while I was kayaking nearby. This was even more remarkable considering that these elephants rarely come out to be viewed. I was told that because of the recent decline of tourism, they are more willing to come to the shore, and I was happy to be able to share this moment with those who cold not travel there and see it for themselves.

#4 – Problems and Possibilities

Late in 2020, I received an offer for a new job opportunity in Amman, Jordan, and I spent a lot of my time early this year preparing for the move. Part of that preparation meant signing on to a new email account at my new school as I started to transfer things over. The head of the school sent out an email describing the difference between problems and possibilities to inspire his staff who had been struggling with the pain of online teaching. It was the inspiration for this poem which seemed to connect with other people. It also makes me happy when one of my poems connects with people in this way.

#3 – Elk in the Backyard – Black Butte Ranch, Oregon

I have written a lot about Black Butte Ranch in central Oregon because I am lucky enough to get to spend a couple of weeks there every summer. It is also a place close to my heart because it is where I got married. The place is a beautiful collection of cabin-like houses underneath the shadow of Black Butte that is off the beaten path of the busy tourist towns and cities of central Oregon. Because of this quiet atmosphere, the wildlife likes to hand out in the forests. Most of the time this is squirrels, deer and coyotes, but I had never seen a herd of elk, so when they came wandering around the house I was staying at, it was reason to pull out the camera and take some pictures. Apparently, other people enjoy seeing these pictures as well because they kept of visiting this post long after its first publication.

#2 – The Bat Cave – Railay, Thailand

One of the nice things about Covid was it forced me to explore Thailand than I would have normally explored it. I spent the whole of the last Winter Break traveling through the southern portion of the country, and the city of Railay was one of my favorite spots. It was a small isolated town that can only be reached by boat where people go rock climbing, kayaking, and lounging on the beach. One of the most prominent features is a cave off of the Princess Beach that people hike up to all the time. My wife and I made this trek one day, and the story of how to get there has now helped a bunch of other people make the same hike.

#1 – Wingspan versus Everdell

Board games have become quite the hobby for me during the pandemic. They have been a great way to get together with friends, and continue to be social. The first one I bought to bring me back to this hobby was Everdell, but I had spent a lot of time researching whether this one of Wingspan was the one for me. I ultimately chose to build a woodland village, but I did have a chance to play Wingspan over the summer and compare the two. I have given my thoughts on both games in this post, and which one I thought was the better buy. The post did so well that I have considered doing more board game reviews in the future.

Honorable Mentions

Though there were many posts from the last year that were worthy to see, here is the lists of posts that continue to do well even though the were written in previous years.

The Mythology of Thailand – Chiang Mai, Thailand

Never Forget Dachau – Germany

A Toast to the End of the Semester

Being Indiana Jones – Hua Hin, Thailand

Lessons from Angkor Wat

Bend Sucks! Move Somewhere Else – Around the World Day 39

Rain on a Work Day

Nothing is left we can possibly do
Then watch the rain pour over the roof’s edge.
All of the work that we tried to get through
Is just another thing I have to hedge.
More important things need my attention
Because they can only happen right now,
And please do not even try to mention
Conditions of my contractual vow.
My needs lie with the puddles being born,
And making sure they fill up completely.
It may leave your business feeling forlorn,
But it reflect the way fortune treats me.
I do not care for the way that you cry.
My concern comes from the tears in the sky.

The Last Leg – Siam Summer

I was not able to snap many pictures today. It was my job to drive the final three hours to Phuket and our hotel there, and they kind of frown upon a person who is busy taking pictures while driving a car. I know I had a lot of free time to run around and take pictures after we had arrived, but the rains arrived and I was stuck in my hotel room for much of the afternoon. It is a shame too because the last three hours of this drive highlight a beautiful part of Thailand. There are palm tree hills all over the place that I was forced to weave through in order to make my way to our final destination. The clouds coming in from the ocean clung to the tops of these mountains and just added to the overall experience. Add in a huge golden Buddha sitting on top of a few of these hills and it was one of the better drives that I have experienced in a long time. This is something that I would have missed out on if I had flown down to Phuket instead of driving so I am glad that I did it this way instead. I will tell you that if you are considering doing the same thing, it is not an easy drive. The roads are just as windy as you can find in the mountains of Colorado, and the drivers do not improve just because you have found your way out of the big cities of Thailand. It is tempting to look at the view along the way, but you really need to pay attention to the road because you never know what the person next to you will do. Add in a rainy deluge and you have the perfect recipe for disaster. I took it slow and made it safely, but there were a couple of time where I was worried about the situation around me.

I am happy to be in Phuket, and the weather can’t stay bad the whole two weeks I am in this part of the world. I will make it out of the hotel and share the beauty of this place soon. I promise you will not regret seeing it.

Chatachuk in the Rain – More from Bangkok

The view of the rain from the BTS

I have been told that the month of September in Thailand is part of the rainy season, and even though, I have seen more rain storms during the short time I have lived out than I would ever experience in five years in Colorado, they have been short bursts of heavy rain that moves on, and I can go back outside to enjoy the heat. Yesterday was the first time that I saw the day-long deluge that I envisioned when I heard about the term rainy season. The rain started early in the morning and continued all day long, and it wasn’t a little drizzle that I get to experience in Portland during the holidays. It was a dumping

The main road that winds its way around the market

But I am on my first three day weekend since school started almost two months ago, and I wasn’t going to waste it watching bad television in my hotel room or playing Exploding Kittens on my tablet. I wanted to get out and explore this city that I have lived in and learn more about what it has to offer. One of the things that this city is well-known for is its street markets, and the biggest one sit on the edge of town and draws in tourists from all over, Chatachuk Weekend Market. It is a crazy maze of tiny shops that sell everything from fresh food and clothes to iPhone cases and Thai art. It is a must come to place for anybody that is visiting the country, and it was my plan for the day. I wasn’t going to let a little rain from allowing me to enjoy this experience.

The view from one of the many aisles

I have been to this market once before, and there are many ways to get down there. I would recommend either taking the BTS to the Mo Chit station on the green line, but you can also take the blue line on the Metro to the Chatachuk Park station. Both of them drop you off right there. You can also take a cab down there, but cab drivers will try to play with tourists to get a little more money out of them. Make sure that they are using their meters, but they still might try to take the long way around to get you there. The best way is by train.

When you get there, know that there are different parts of the market. The fun one takes up four city blocks and has a big ring that you ca follow on the outside of the market, but if you come you want to venture into the skinny aisles that take you to the insane part of the market. It is designed to keep the like things together. They have a section for clothes, a section for gardening supplies, and even a warehouse where furniture designers can show off the new creations that they have made. But as soon as you walk down the aisles, you do not know what you can find. If you see something that you like but you don’t know if you want to get it, make sure you find out the section and the soy it is in because it is really easy to lose the little booth, and it makes it almost impossible to find again.

The strange things that sellers put in front of their shops to attract shoppers

But the real treasure of Chatachuk is not about what things you can go out to buy; it is all about the weird things that you will find that sellers will do to have their place be distinguished from the one next to them. I did not come to the market to buy anything. I am still trying to unpack all of my stuff from moving here, and I do not need to add to the collection yet. I came down here to laugh at the weirdness, and to be a part of the Thai experience. I saw t-shirts with saying that still make me laugh. I saw some incredible artwork, both 2D and 3D. And I enjoyed watching the people as they ate, got massages, shopped or got a haircut. It is a market alive with humanity, and this is the reason that it becomes a must-see place on any visit to Bangkok.

There is even shopping for hip teddy bears.

The rain did not take away from the fun. If anything, it made it more fun. The crowds that would usually come down to experience the market stayed home to avoid the mess that was being dumped from the sky, and it opened up the streets, and the aisles to make it easier to get around. The sellers were still there, and my fun could still be had by the cheap purchase of an umbrella. I would recommend coming down here on any visit to Bangkok, but more so when it rains.

Massive Explosions – The Move Day 15

Well, it has come and gone, the day where Americans get together to blow things up.

Happy Independence Day, the 4th of July.

Many countries celebrate their own Independence Days, but only in America is there the noise and light show that comes along with it. And being a world traveler, being outside the United States on this date does not mean as much as it does to be here. It is that fireworks display that makes this holiday so much fun.

Growing up in Colorado, the fireworks display was never guaranteed. There were many years where it was just too dry and any fire might cause a disaster that would burn whole neighborhoods to the ground. So when the year was wet enough to allow for a fireworks, we had a tendency to go a little overboard with it, and this year was no exception. Colorado has experienced an exceptional amount of snow this winter which had rolled right into the summer as the rains continue to pound the Front Range. In fact, yesterday, there were many times that we had to run inside to avoid getting wet because there was a series of storms that continued to roll through. It made for some spectacular light displays from nature, but extended the time we were shooting off fireworks.

Fireworks have also gotten a little ruder. Before they had names like Lotus Flower, or Emerald Dragon, but this year we were able to experience the Big Balls, and the Pooping Puppy. The ones that we got to watch during the day were pretty explicit with the Pooping Puppy being my favorite. It basically combined the snake fireworks that quickly bored us as children with a quick spurt of flame that gave the explosive effects of dog wolfing down a spicy burrito the day before.

The Big Balls were also a big favorite, but were seriously dangerous. Basically after a short fuse, they would explode in a huge display of bright sparkles that covered the whole road. Anybody that found themselves in the explosion would have sustained some type of injury that would have required a quick emergency room visit. I tried to take a picture of the explosion, but it happened too quickly and looked nothing more than a bright sun when the exposure finally happened, so it was one of those fireworks that had to be written down in memory, and you would just have to wait until next year if you wanted to see the explosion again.

That is if they are legal next year. I could see a bunch of people coming into hospitals this year with lost hands and feet that may make lawmakers reconsider whether this is the type of firework that they want to keep around.

But that is part of the fun of fireworks. There is a little bit of risks that make them more exciting than just the explosion that comes at the end of the fuse. It creates excitement every year for when that sun goes down that everybody can go out a celebrate the day that we as American declared out independence. It is those explosions that make the holiday and memorable moment every year, and I am glad that the rain held off long enough this year so I could enjoy it in this own special way.

Laughter on the Outside

I have forgot what it means to be dry
Because I have lived in this rain too long.
I hope my personal weather will sigh,
Allowing the time with the sun the time to be strong.
Until then I will sit under this cloud
With my drenched clothes clinging to my body.
A fool in the rain can never be proud,
Punishment for never being naughty.
I will continue to wear my smile
‘Cause others depend on the attitude.
Dripping laughter will become my style,
Never expecting any platitude.
Will any ever understand my pain,
Just a wet man, standing in his own rain?