Impeach Trump

It will come as no surprise that I’m against Trump, only that I feel I must take a stand in my personal Blog.  I’ve never once addressed politics or religion directly. Apologies to those few readers who thought Trump was a better choice [and you can stop reading this post right now] but he has even excelled in sinking below my worst expectations, and hopefully you’re disappointed as well.

Radicalization has been an Administration “buzz word” for some time now, what Mr. Trump and many of his administration and supporters don’t understand or realize is that Mr. Trump’s rhetoric, tweets, tantrums and policies are radicalizing not only people opposed to our form of Democracy, but the American people themselves who can’t understand truth from lies, hope from reality, and our own despotic leader. Just notice the rise in hate crimes and belligerent acts in America since Mr. Trump has started campaigning and taken office.  All committed by Americans toward other Americans.

It’s time to stand up for what is good about America, no matter whether you’re a Republican, Democrat or Independent.  This man, Mr Trump, will do no one in America any good, nor provide any benefit, let alone securing the world as a better and safer place. Yes, we may need a change, but not a chaotic, catastrophic un-Constitutional and ruinous change that just might bring anarchy to our American streets and worsening global instability.

There are so many excellent editorials and commentaries from conservatives — Bush and Reagan administration officials and supporters — who think Trump’s “character and temperament” are beyond acceptability.

The Republicans, by showing their mettle and supporting impeachment, will still have Mr. Pense and both chambers of Congress.  We all need to act now doing whatever small thing we can do to support Trump’s immediate impeachment. [And for the record Mr. Trump and other Republican candidates threatened to impeach Mrs. Clinton if she were elected.]

In the long run sanity will prevail, let’s just get there before the situation gets worse, much worse. Take time to voice your concerns, I’ve written my congressional representatives.

Listed below are several editorial excerpts I feel might help you decide to do whatever you can to further this critical cause:

Trump, in one spectacular week, has already shown himself one of the worst of our presidents, who has no regard for the truth (indeed a contempt for it), whose patriotism is a belligerent nationalism, whose prior public service lay in avoiding both the draft and taxes, who does not know the Constitution, does not read and therefore does not understand our history, and who, at his moment of greatest success, obsesses about approval ratings, how many people listened to him on the Mall, and enemies.

Eliot A Cohen

And another:

It took us years to find out that Richard Nixon was swilling Scotch, eating dog biscuits, talking to the White House portraits and blowing up the Vietnam peace talks in 1968 to help his election bid. It took us years to find out that, despite that deep, reassuring voice, Dick Cheney was a demented megalomaniac.

But with President Trump, it’s all right out there — the tantrums, the delusions, the deceptions, the self-doubts and overcompensation.

Maureen Dowd

And another:

If Reagan’s dominant emotional note was optimism, Trump’s is fear. If Reagan’s optimism was expansive, Trump’s fear propels him to close in: Pull in from Asian entanglements through rejection of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Pull in from European entanglements by disparaging NATO. It’s not a cowering, timid fear; it’s more a dark, resentful porcupine fear.

We have a word for people who are dominated by fear. We call them cowards. Trump was not a coward in the business or campaign worlds. He could take on enormous debt and had the audacity to appear at televised national debates with no clue what he was talking about. But as president his is a policy of cowardice. On every front, he wants to shrink the country into a shell.

David Brooks


Long warps

We’re lucky that there’s still a nearby local village that has preserved it’s weaving culture by establishing a guild of traditional Thai weavers who’ve passed on the skills as well as the traditional patterns.  In the seven years we’ve been visiting this village they’ve upgraded the guild’s presence, workshop, museum and “exit thru the gift shop” area.

This year there were far more weavers at work than we’ve seen in the past.  There’s always been a long warp and weaving project on each of the more than twenty ancient looms, however this time they had 10 or more ladies working on their looms, weaving with flying shuttles, winding thread on to shuttles, threading heddles and all the aspects of the weaving process.

The upstairs museum had been renovated recently with larger, more detailed displays and best of all was a video with English subtitles explaining the history of weaving in Trang Province and this particular guild of weavers. We’ve  toured the museum several times in past visits, but this time learned on the video that before rice became ubiquitous and more profitable in this region, cotton was grown in those fields.

Also it was clearer that a woman would not just weave every-day clothing for the family, but it was traditional that all the elaborate wedding garb was custom-woven for each of their children.

Due to the recent passing of their long-reigning king, many of the loom’s really long warps and projects held all-black fabric or black and white patterns because the country is in a year-long period of mourning.  So there wasn’t much in the way of colorful cotton fabric to purchase.



So how’s the weather….

“So how about that weather…” is probably a good signal that there’s not much else to talk about in a conversation. Unless you’ve got 23-year-record snowfall in the San Juan mountains like Durango has, with the passes closed more than in recent years due to avalanche danger and heavy accumulation of snow.

Here in Thailand we aren’t experiencing the heavy snows that came late to southwest Colorado, but we can tell you one thing: our solar gain in Durango is the worst in the six years we’ve had panels on the condo roof. Those spikes in the graph above are normal solar gain days in January, and we use about 4Kw a day even when we’re traveling.  With just over 100 Kw solar for the month we’ll have our first ever (since the panel’s were installed) electrical usage charge.  Fortunately, this anomaly should be reversed in the remaining 11 months.

We also would like to bury the lead, in the fact that the Dry Season hasn’t yet come to Thailand as we’d expected.  The annual wind change over the Thailand peninsula from Easterly to Westerly traditionally happens in early December. As of this date in late January, that wind shift hasn’t happened and the rainy season persists.

It’s still plenty warm, which is one of the characteristic “snow bird” requirements – warm, cheap.  We’ll just have to add “dry” to that list in the future.  Riding, whether it’s bicycle or scooter, in the rain has become normal, just not desirable.  I’ve only missed a couple of cycling days in these two months, and 20-Baht rain slickers keep us plenty dry on the daily scooter runs for supplies and nourishment.


Thai Waterfalls…

Thai waterfalls are generally more of a cascading mountain stream, rather than free-falling water dropping over a cliff or off a precipitous wall. And on any given weekend you’ll see far more Thais at a waterfall rather than the beach, even though it’s probably the same distance to both recreation spots.  Unbelievable as it may sound to Westerners, this country with ready access to lakes, ponds and ocean apparently has very few who actually know how to swim, but they love the water.

Our friends seem to prefer to frolic in the fresh cascading waters in the hills rather than the open seashore. The other striking contrast between Thais and foreigners here is that Thais don’t sport swimsuits, they prefer tee-shirts and gym shorts or just going into the water in their clothes.  Not an issue, since they aren’t swimming. It’s a real contrast to see Thais and Europeans at the same beach or water attraction: Russian, French or German visitors in their bikinis (or thongs) and locals fully clothed.

This last Sunday we took a short ride to SaiRoung Waterfall about 45 km from Trang. As mentioned earlier, the Sunday riders I like to ride with take a more leisurely pace, 10-15 MPH, stopping often for food, photos and refreshments. On hot afternoons, the first three-wheel ice cream cart we see usually has a windfall business. They serve a “home-made” ice cream in several flavors scooped out of their double-walled stainless cooler.  Cones or cups of ice cream are 10 and 20 Baht depending on how many 1 inch scoops you want. Not pictured, but popular, is the ice cream sandwich – 3 scoops on “Charmin” white bread.

Rides start with the obligatory Facebook photo, so that you can show who came that day.  Similar to the US, just about all digital communication is done thru Facebook. So if I miss a photo I can be sure to find one on a Thai Facebook site, as you can see with TigerSong’s credited photos.


One of the great pleasures of riding with the Cycling club members is they often take indirect and back roads. So the group doesn’t often contend with much traffic when wending thru hidden villages or bucolic rubber tree plantations. The pace is such that I get Thai lessons as we notice various curiosities along the way. They don’t seem to mind my repeating the same word 4 or 6 times until I get close.


Koh Mu (Sukorn)

Pig Island doesn’t sound to inviting, and it’s residents, primarily Muslim, don’t regard anything porcine positively, so perhaps that’s why they call the island Sukorn. But all the locals don’t recognize the name Sukorn when we tell where we’ve been, either because it’s a tourist name or it’s our pronunciation.

Almost every year the Trang Cycling Club, or some iteration of the members, makes an overnight foray to the island, and we were told that it’s recently been regarded as “Cycling Heaven.”  Normally our group is the only cyclists on the entire island. The two tourist guesthouses seem seldom frequented, but we have seen at least one tourist couple each time we take a boat across.  Those folks are whisked out of a van and on to the same long-tail boats we make the passage in, except that their boats always leave with just the “Farangs” (foreigners), leaving them with an exclusive boat ride of B500 ($15), where we pile in with the locals for B50 ($1.30 including our bicycles). As you can see we can get 10 bikes and 10 cyclists in the same long-tail boat.  Camping in these circumstances involves paying the headmaster of the school ($1 each) to allow the privilege of setting our tents up in a classroom.

This year the island elders were holding a special fund raising celebration where they planned to serve more than 500 visitors as evidenced by the tents, tables and chairs set up at the main school grounds.  They even promoted a “Bike for Charity” event with our own tent set side so smelly bikers didn’t mingle with the dressed-up locals, jerseys (for sale), and an unlimited buffet of Muslim dishes.  Of course we never know any of these details in advance as “surprise” is alway our default mode of adventure. This year our port departure was complicated with boat-loads of cyclists, not to mention pilgrims traveling to and coming off the island, making for crowded unloading and loading at low-tide cement stairs.

Unfortunately, Stanna didn’t get to go, even though she was suited up right up to departure time when she decided to stay home & dry. The rainy season, which has produced the Southern Thailand heavy flooding, produced yet one more weekend of torrential rains.  Not only did we need to start for the coast in a downpour, the forecasts, doppler radar and fellow Thais all said it’s two more days of deluge. All predictions were 100% correct. Cycling along the leeward coast on Sunday had me thinking of those days sailing in squalls where you put on your snorkel mask to see. Skies were black enough for double reefing for sure.

Go Cho, a local restauranteur, brought along his portable kitchen, plates, bowls and 30″ Wok, to provide us with the freshest of the day’s seafood.  For those that haven’t followed previous years’ overnight cycling adventures, all that kit fits into a scooter side-car (more of a third wheeled side-cart) for transport on the island(s) or off-road as the occasion requires. With a 50-meter extension cord he can plug in his 5-quart rice cooker and 2-liter electric water pot almost anywhere he can steal power.

It’s amazing how much Thais can eat.  We had a super buffet of stewed beef, stir fried vegetables and dried fish for lunch provided by the “Bike for Charity.’ Oh, and you can’t ever forget two heaping cooking-spoons of boiled rice as a base to heap everything else on top.  In just four hours Cho fired up a small earthen charcoal stove and Go Dang started grilling fresh salted squid. Calamari never tasted so good, even with a partially full stomach.

Meanwhile Cho was receiving small bags of fresh seafood from various locals whom he must know: two kinds of crab, orange and blue (for lack of a translation), jumbo shrimp and octopus.  The stormy weather yielded no fresh fish for the second course, although it did arrive after fresh fruit was served as a desert so they fired up their charcoal earthen BBQ once again and we pinched morsels off each of three whole fish as they came off the grill.

Considering this is a remote island with no regular delivery boats, the population of probably 3,000 has an amazing variety of food and supplies, all brought over one 3-wheel cart at a time from the long-tails to stock the small family operated Thai-style mini-markets.

Despite the heavy rains we still managed almost 20 miles of cycling around the island’s network of cement walkways, along the coast, thru the sidewalk villages, the rice and watermelon fields and most enchanting, the winding cement trails thru the rubber tree plantations.

We wimped out and loaded all the bikes into one pickup for the rainy ride home.




Some noticed on the Strava notes that I’d had an aborted ride about 19.8 km from Ban Wassana, our base in Trang.

The back story was that with all this wet riding I’d developed a noticeable “click” in the front wheel. I originally thought it was a broken spoke, but after checking and changing out front wheels I figured it was just the hub. I took the wheel to the mechanic (father and racer son) who swapped out my brake handles. [I may have left out that story – the used Dura Ace brake handles I’d purchased on Craigslist last year didn’t last over the summer storage. I found a new Sora set for B600 ($18) including installation.]

The shop owner said I should have all the bearings serviced, since that front one was totally out of grease, and they would do the complete bike – chain, brakes, hubs, headset and crankset – for B480 ($14).  I delivered the whole bike next morning and shortly thereafter got a call from our “fixer” friend SunSern.  He helps negotiate and translate all these complex deals.  They were having difficultly getting the bearings back in the bottom bracket cassette, after using water pressure to force it open.  It was probably a sealed cassette.

Needless to say, it was impossible to get the bearings and all back into the cassette without a special press and mandrel, but not without trying 3 other mechanics in town.  The shop found a new cassette to put in and I was satisfied that I only had to pay the wholesale price of the new cassette B480 ($14).  Riding home in the rain was fast fast and a sweet ride.

Next morning at 5 AM I took a new ride to test out the bike and at 18,9 km the right-hand crankset arm slipped off.  Fortunately I had cell service and Stanna arrived 45 minutes later (after going to town to fill the empty scooter gas tank) with the scooter to shuttle me and the bike back home.  Not an especially fun trip holding a bike high enough off the ground so wheels don’t touch from a scooter rear seat.

On closer inspection, it seems that the new cassette has larger splines than the crankset arm slots so the arms were only ¼ of the way onto the axle.  The locking bolt backed off and let the arm slip freely.



SunSern, my fixer, managed to convince the bike shop to bring the “bike ambulance” to pick up the bike at Wassana, and work once again on the problem.  This was on a Friday and we’d scheduled a 2-day ride to Sukorn Island the next day, so the pressure was on to find a fix.  They found a temporary cassette and chain wheel setup 50/34 to install and I was back in business by 4 PM.

The old DuraAce crank and new (larger splined) cassette are at a machinist to see if they can be milled, seated and married together.  At this point only the brake calipers on this 25-year-old Trek 2500 haven’t been replaced, but it still rides super.

Trang Anchorage

It’s hard to compete with the clever compositions coming from the Mystery Train (McKenney’s winter Casita travels only available by interstellar subscription), however we’re becoming closer to the anchorage analogy than we’d first realized.

Rainy season (typically ending in early December) has persisted, despite reputable politicians’ insistence against any global phenomenon causation, well into January. Southern Thailand’s water and river catchment area is the mountain range about 200 kilometers north and east of Trang, and what’s not evident currently is that the Trang River was large enough to allow steam ships up to the city limits 100 years ago.  Erosion, natural delta sediment settling, and development has narrowed the river’s banks to a third of it’s historic capacity and forced the port downriver 20 km. Therefore when rains linger in the hill country the towns, settlements, roads, houses and people downstream flood. Not to mention, all this countryside was rice paddies or jungle before modern times.

Back to the anchorage metaphor; when I washed clothes last night on the back porch, it was similar to dumping wash water over the side of Paradox. That’s about a six foot exaggeration, but the feeling and sound was the same. Water hitting water, soggy wet lawn to be exact.

This morning we’ve walked around the anchorage, checking on other potential floaters and see that the original tenant housing of this Guesthouse, currently used as lower-cost student  housing — think temporary illegal immigrant farmworker housing — have about 3 inches of water on their floors.  Manager/owners have picked up floor level clothing, and other student detritus, placing it on the beds, since the students are still on holiday break and not in residence.

Of course it might be more proper to say we’re living at Lake Wassana or Wassana Peninsula since all sides of this Guesthouse complex are covered with water.  Good time for a drone photo, but Santa was prudent or waiting until they make a really ultralight version. A raft or small boat would be great for exploring the neighboring palm oil groves and rice fields.

We are still 8 vertical inches from having our feet wet while typing.  Our cycling polymath tells us that it takes a day and a half for the waters to reach Trang from Nakhon Si Thammarat, so even though the sun finally made an appearance here in the flatlands the waters can still rise. And the nursery owner one kilometer from here, also a cyclist, tells us that we’re lucky because the west-side of the river bank burst first, so most of the initial waters flooded that direction. We’re only getting 50% of water that’s possible.  And speaking of history, the day after we left Wassana 6 years ago the water came 18″ into our freshly vacated room.  They had to move all the furniture upto on the highway access road.

We are more optimistic and experienced boaters, not to mention good at treading water for 26 hours.  This is not to say Stanna doesn’t have a plan to abandon ship to the larger recently built (one meter higher) cruise ship across the driveway. Not much change in the water’s edge “marker” stick I placed before starting this blog. However water continues creeping up and we may still have to pull anchor.

Escort Service

This “hand cyclist,” shown posing with the countless crew that shadow and surround him, has completed riding thru 65 of the 74 Thai provinces (states) in an effort to honor the late King for his work on environmental awareness. Local cycle clubs have been “ushering” him thru their regions – when they can keep up. Trang’s cycling community met him 65 km north of town where the Sikao town club accompanied him down from Krabi. A rescue crew with their lights and sirens often times leads the cyclists thru towns and along the highways.

The following day we escorted him a further 60 km south, where another club provided rest stops, food and escort duties. At this temple (Wat) the chief monk insisted we pose with him in front of their newest meditation building.

Wats are everywhere in Thailand and are regular resting spots, if not places of interest, as this one was with it’s jeweled boat (once a parade float) ensconced in a fish pond surrounding the entire boat.

No one asked about this fellow’s legs, but it seems like it was polio that rendered them useless.  He designed and engineered his tricycle such that he was totally self-contained with his wheel chair wheels serving as the rear tricycle wheels and the wheelchair’s “chair” stowed tightly behind his tricycle seat. If you imagine a bicycle rear triangle turned upside
down and articulating hand grips where the
pedals mount, you could see how he “pedals.”  It’s a 21-speed bike with one brake on left crank, and 7 speed mountain bike shifter on right crank.  He manually changes the triple gear chain wheels with a gloved finger.  On the flats he could easily out-pace the lead escort riders and even the rescue truck, at about 30 mph. In two days we rode with him for 125 km or 250 km for the Trang Cycling Club.