Day breaks in Bangkok

Jet lag is like mosquitos—do what you will, you’re gonna get bit. I’ve got travel tricks, herbs and pharmaceuticals out the wazoo, didn’t sleep at all while the sun shone on Indochina yesterday, and hit the sack at midnight, but I still up at 3:30am with no impulse to get back to sleep. Katie & Luis were fast asleep. Hotel breakfast was hours away.

A fun thing about traveling overseas is that your friends tend to be awake when you should be sleeping. In this case, my brother was on a layover in Istanbul (7400 km distant… forgot about that in my last post). I texted him the public transit instructions from BKK to our hotel and had brief txt chat. Then I made an offering to Cthulhu to protect his next flight from the Syrian Air Force.

Shockingly, that didn’t tire me out. I poked around gently in the darkness for my headlamp, switched on the red light for extra stealth, and gathered the tools and clothes I’d need to go web surfing in the lobby. Then I knocked over my bag, waking everyone up anyway. Note from Katie: you look like a demon when you’re wearing a red LED headlamp in the dark.

The lobby staff was confused to see me at that hour, but they directed me to a deep leather couch in the lobby. My favorite. I started writing a totally different post about my first afternoon in Bangkok, but found I didn’t have the photo I need for it; it’s on someone else’s phone. Stymied.

A new topic required new scenery. I moved to a cafe table outside in the dissipating darkness, lit a cigarette, and plumbed my soul for other thoughts to share. This took a little. But something was bothering me. I had made peace with the jet lag, and I’ve always enjoyed doing day things at night anyway, so it wasn’t that. It was something more visceral and immediate, pinpricks from the ether, or something. My skin was crawling.

Then I remembered: mosquitos are most active at dawn and dusk, and most numerous in the tropics.

They always get you.

But not in the swank restroom on the 19th floor!

Selfie in a swank restroom

Now where’s that coffee? I’m getting in the sauna.

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Breakfast in Moscow

I was late packing, late leaving for the airport, got stuck behind a dinosaur in the CVS pharmacy line and a million commuters on the highways to JFK, and as a result my bag and I may arrive in Bangkok on different days. Shrug. Aeroflot wouldn’t let me pick a seat in advance, which was unusual, but now I understand that they had big plans for me in my little seat in the middle of the middle row, between dudes. But I was prepared—I took skullcap & valerian root before belting up, had a cup of wine once in the air, put four albums of Four Tet on shuffle through some noise-blocking earbuds…

And now suddenly I’m in Moscow, drinking a $6 americano, killing the first of 7 layover hours in Sheremetyevo Int’l, and feeling great. No doubt some of this vigor is due to figuring out how to sleep on the tray table instead of upright, head lolling.

Dos americanos and an iPhoneIf I didn’t need a visa to leave the airport, I’d be having this meal with my brother, who lives here, but I’ll see him Sunday in Bangkok anyhow. For the record, I was 7500 km away from him yesterday, am 25 km away now (99.7% of the way there!), and will be 7000 km away tomorrow, before he closes the gap himself. Also, tonight I’ll fly pretty much right over my sister in Nepal.

Air travel is weird.

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Changes in the works

It’s been 2+ years since the previous post, and rather than fret about what the “perfect” topic to reinaugurate the space with, I’m just going to break the ice and offer some information:

  • dukeofearle.com has been remapped from flavors.me/ephduke to here. I’m probably going to get rid of that service. I think I can get all the functionality I need from WordPress.
  • I’m leaving on a voyage to southeast Asia a week and a half. Thoughts, stories & pictures from that will be posted here. Knowing me it’ll probably be heavy on thoughts.
  • I’ll probably buy a nice theme for the page—I can’t work in an uncomfortable space!

Keep that breath bated.

Invasion

My brother went to the Invasion Festival 2010 in Russia. He had this to say about it:

A bit like being in a Hieronymus Bosch or Pieter Bruegel the Elder (thank you ARTH 101) painting. I’ve never seen the human body being abused, demented, and spoiled in so many ways — sleep deprivation, drugs, sex, disgusting food, sunburns, mosquito bites, loud music, paint, prolonged standing, dehydration, not showering. Beer sloshed, sunny bodies fat and thin, white skin, scraggly beards, glassy eyes, abused grass, hippies sleeping in sewage drains, mohawked punks lounging in heaps of garbage, girls covering their nipples with corporate logos, and everywhere flags flags — nationalist flags, army flags, musical group flags, regional flags, spongebob flags, flags of unclear meaning and origin flying with unflappable gusto. tents. the occasional lost child.

Advanced email tactic!

As an Inbox Zero fan, I am thrilled to have stumbled across the Monotypic Inbox, an email processing tactic from Study Hacks.

Basically, an email inbox is duotypic—it has two types of messages: Unread and Read. For the Inbox Zero user this distinction is useless, because you fully process your inbox when you check your email, and you check your email on your schedule (not your email’s schedule). The Unread type is distracting, and can disrupt your schedule discipline by luring you with the promise of new and exciting things. If you remove the Unread type, this phenomenon is eliminated. To do this, simply set up a filter that marks all new messages as “Read”.

I would be different person today if I’d discovered Study Hacks in college. Fortunately, it’s never too late to learn how to get different types of things done, so I’ve been reading up on the field I didn’t learn (and learned to think I didn’t need) when, in fifth grade, I was put in Advanced Reading instead of Study Skills.

Why salad costs more than a Big Mac

It’s always seemed a little weird, right? You can get a burger for a buck, but for salads you have to pony up. Well, it is a little weird. And you can’t attribute the weirdness to the popular idea that eating healthy costs more (which is true at times).

Pyramid graphs of federal nutrition guidelines and federal agriculture subsidies

Whoa.

I’m trying to live the Paleo life these days, which has a substantially different food pyramid than the federal recommendation above. Nevertheless, the one thing almost everyone can agree on is that we should eat a lot of vegetables. And look at that cute little .37% in veggie subsidies up there!

I suspect that the subsidy balance is influenced by how “addictive” they are. Threaten to take away America’s Brussels sprouts and America shrugs; threaten to take away America’s T-bone, and America is up in arms. That’s a huge marketing advantage for the beef lobby.

(from PCRM Volume XI, Number 4: Health vs. Pork)

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Sex & Typography

Brilliant ad for Durex by Andrej Kraneh!

Type Sex

Designer has an awesome site too.

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Getting scammed on craigslist

Some dude just sent me the following email regarding a piece of furniture I’m selling on craigslist:

Hello,
Thanks for your prompt responds, However, i will need your name and
address for payment,As am only able to make payment by money order at
this time b/c i am away on assignment. It will be nice if you can send
me more pictures. It will take about 7days for payment to get to you.
As per pick-up, I will make arrangement for the pick-up after payment
has been received by you. I don’t mind adding thirty dollars so you
can keep it in my favor.Please take the posting off Craigslist today
and consider it sold to me, Include your phone number.
Expecting to hear from you soon.

Riiight. Just to be sure I checked the craigslist scams page.

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You mock, sir

One of the most transcendent New Yorker cartoons I’ve ever seen:

You mock, sir -- you mock a sport storied and beloved. I, sir, pity you.

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The News & Van Gogh’s Ear

One of the reasons I love the New Yorker is that its writers place their subjects in broad context. Many (most) news outlets exaggerate the importance of every issue under consideration, like each is the MOST IMPORTANT THING IN THE WORLD. Viewing the world thus presented is like running around tearing your hair out over constant self-created crises. Very taxing; very stupid. For the New Yorker, no article is an island. Every topic is related to many other topics, and those relationships are explored. As a result, it respects the relative importance of things, keeping things in perspective and presenting a coherent worldview. When this is done particularly well, it’s such a relief that I want to cry.

Adam Gopnik’s piece “Van Gogh’s Ear” in last week’s issue did this to me yesterday with its last paragraph:

It’s true that moral luck dramatized by modern art involves an uncomfortable element of ethical exhibitionism. We gawk and stare as the painters slice off their ears and down the booze and act like clowns. But we rely on them to make up for out own timidity, on their courage to dignify our caution. We are spectators in the casino, placing bets; that’s the nature of the collaboration that brings us together, and we can sometimes convince ourselves that having looked is the same as having made, and that the stakes are the same for the ironic spectator and the would-be saint. But they’re not. We all make our wagers, and the cumulative lottery builds museums and lecture halls and revisionist biographies. But the artist does more. He bets his life.

(“Moral luck,” here, is “making something that no one wants in the belief that someone someday will.”)

And this is just a book review! But it indicates a deep understanding that the meaning of a book is its relationship to all the other stuff out there in the world, not just the words on the pages.

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