The Kool-Aid of Politics, Hong Kong, and Texan gentlemen farmers

I’ve always known that I am not good at economics or world politics, but I am pretty good at basic arithmetic.  I may not be able to tell you why, but I am pretty good at pointing out inconsistencies. Ask my friends, I can find Waldo in 5 seconds flat– every time.

When I first arrived in Texas I was befuddled by the unending amount of ranches and farms, that in my opinion were as profitable as WorldCom and Enron at their peak.  I grew up on a farm (OK a bankrupt coffee plantation, but that’s kinda the same thing ;-)).  I know what a profitable cattle farm looks like, and it ain’t the 50 acres per cow Texas has a multitude of.  My first year in the Great State, every one kept telling me that I just didn’t understand farming and the ingenuity of the Texan farmer.  Bullshit, I can count!  It was years later that I found out that many farms have oil running through them, and that land owners get a cut of the action for allowing the pipes to run through them.  It’s ok, I understand. If I could run a bike business with an inventory of 3 bikes, and twenty employees, I would too.  I like being the boss, and there’s nothing wrong with being a gentleman cyclist.  After all, like a true Texan, I like big helmets.

Anyways, this being an American election year, and me being lucky enough to see the circus from 13,000 kilometers away.  It is time to get political, albeit with someone else’s country.

Continue reading

You may think it’s Tai Chi, but they’re just getting ready to kick your ass!

IMG_20151118_070820-2I’ve given up learning new languages.  I’ve found out that with English, Spanish, and vigorous handwaving I can get by in any country.  I didn’t used to be this lazy, but senility and age has its drawbacks.

Don’t take me wrong.  I love the idea of learning Italian, French, and maybe German, but most of these languages are useless.  Ok, with the possible exception of French.  After all, there are enough French speaking countries in Africa to make it worth the effort.  Italian?  Well, unless Italy makes another attempt to invade Ethiopia and actually succeeds this time, I find that my time is better served eating gelato and drinking lattes.  Why learn a language that has about a country’s worth of speakers, unless you are moving there?  Whatever, I’ll keep to my “ciao bellissima” and “prego”, until I decide to spend a summer cycling in Tuscany.  And don’t get me started on German, that’s just marginally more useful than Haitian Creole. Continue reading

Using women to travel the world

IMG_20160106_001350
One of the many reasons men live less than women.

There, I said it: I use women to travel the world. I’ve also been known to use old women, small children, and cripples. I have no shame.

After a week in Vietnam, I am honestly perplexed at why every single local and tourist is not dead or severely injured from traffic accidents. How people survive the daily onslaught of motorcycles kamikazeeing straight at you is beyond me. I consider my day a success if I can cross the street merely once throughout a day. And I lived a summer in Cairo! Egypt has been officially dethroned as the world’s most automobilistically insane country.
Continue reading

The price of luxury

 

$6.12 sushi (drinks included).
[$6.12 sushi (drinks included).]

I finally did it. I got a Thai massage. Today has been a day of hedonistic debauchery. I went for my usual breakfast and gourmet coffee at a local sculpture garden ($3.77).

Then I went to get my first non self inflicted haircut in 6 years ($2.79). Let the record show that I overpaid for this. While I was sitting in the barber chair, I noticed there was Thai writing next to the English price, with what I quickly surmised was a list of prices for the locals. With the help of google I was able to determine that I was being gougued an extra 56 cents. I let it go….just this time, but I did point at the list upon completion and winked at the barber. He knew I knew…

Continue reading

How to break a $1,000,000 note and cure Gandhi of halitosis

“It’s clearly a budget. It’s got lots of numbers in it.”-- George W. Bush
“It’s clearly a budget. It’s got lots of numbers in it.”– George W. Bush

As a rule, I travel with 200 US dollars of emergency money.  It’s supposed to cover landing in the middle of nowhere,with no ATM’s in sight.  In my naive mind it’s also supposed to cover ransom and bribe money– apparently in a kingdom ruled by children with only marginal knowledge of global exchange rates.  In reality, it gets spent on chocolate when I run out of a money and am too lazy to find an ATM.

This trip I’ve been far more cavalier with my emergency spending.  After all, the unofficial currency of Cambodia is the US dollar, so ATM’s spit out my safety blanket that is the US greenback.

Now, considering that an English speaking tuk tuk driver makes $200/month during high season (for a family of 4) and that life in the rice fields yields $5/day during the harvest season, a 10 dollar note is a large bill most shops are not happy to take, and tuk tuk drivers may run you over as you walk away.  This brings me to my main question: Why the fuck do local ATM’s spit out $100 bills exclusively? Continue reading