Category: Blog

El Paso Shooting & WWIII

I’m seeing a lot of people surprised and confused by the recent mass shootings in El Paso and Gilroy.  They really shouldn’t be. What we are seeing are the opening battles of a new uncivil war. In the past, wars were fought between nation-states. But after victor and vanquished established, the fighting continued. Particularly in the case of occupation. For...

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Burger King Rules?

Civilization runs on rules, not laws. What’s the difference? Well for example, when you go to pay at the supermarket you go to the back of the line, right? Why? Why don’t you go to the front of the line? Or into a gap between other shoppers? There is NO LAW against going right to the front. But there is...

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First Memory

I was in prison. Flat on my back. Rows of wooden bars rose up beyond my reach. I would have been about a year old I suppose, in a crib, and I was aware. Above me hung a contraption of sticks, strings, and shapes, what I would later come to know as a mobile. I can’t remember if the shapes...

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Just Be Yourself (or Not)

Just Be Yourself (Or Not)… Megabreak runs three seasonal pool tournaments year-round. Unfortunately I am never in the area long enough to do a whole season, so my goal remains simply to win one event. Did I just say ‘simply?’ Oops. Well, simple or not, it is my goal. One side benefit of this endeavor is meeting a wide variety...

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A Little Dong Goes a Long Way

Besides the paperwork and passport photos i had prepared, Vietnamese Immigration also wants $25 USD. I don’t have it. The price of the various visas are posted on the wall, all in US dollars. Now that is just a bit strange. I mean, I was under the impression that Vietnam fought a war to remove US influence? Vietnamese currency is...

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Top 10 Things to Know for Burning Man

1. It ain’t cheap. With a baseline ticket at $425 per person and parking passes at $80 per vehicle expect to lighten your wallet. 2. There are no services. No restaurants, no stores, no nothing. If you plan to be there for a week, you’ll need food and water for a week. 3. It’s dusty. Even without wind the dust...

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Mama!!!!

Swam a few laps this morning at the 31st floor pool overlooking Pattaya. Went to catch the elevator back down, noticed that all cars were around the first floor, and pushed the button. So I’m standing there waiting, watching the numbers count up, and when it gets to about 20 I start hearing a strange noise. Like a child’s voice...

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Goldfinger

Had some gold coins and bars sitting around for awhile, and figured it was time to convert it back into “currency.” But instead of into US Dollars and then into Thai Baht, I decided to skip a step and go straight into Thai Baht. Gold is after all, an international currency, and I wanted to put that concept to the...

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Charlie’s Angle

At the start of Thursday’s 9-ball tournament, there is a Calcutta auction. Each player is up for auction and people “bid” on who they think will win. Sort of like betting on a horse race. There is generally a lot of bidding action on the top players, the “pros,” because, well, they’re really good. I take a different approach. Because...

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Ho Chi Minh Hassle

Was supposed to go to Japan, but I didn’t bring any warm clothes with me and I don’t want to buy new ones, so booked a new trip to Myanmar. Heard there’s some sort of genocide going on there, but that won’t stop me. However learning that it takes 3 days to get a visa to Myanmar the day before...

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Something Wrong with this Picture

Saigon is a bustling town, but not particularly scenic. Its a commercial city, with business and traffic in good measure, but short on photo opportunities. Among its attractions is a leftover from the French: The Church of Notre Dame. I walk over there to catch the evening light. There’s a kid pushing a vending cart. It takes a lot of...

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When the Cows Go Home

Driving around on a scooter west of Vang Vieng, trying to pick out a spot for a sunset shot. It appears to me that the sun will set dead center on this country road, and I like the smoke from whatever the farmers are burning back there, so I park and hang out. What I really need though is a...

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Jammin in Vang Vieng

Bus rolls into Vang Vieng, I know this because the bus driver starts shouting, “Vang Vieng! Vang Vieng!” The only reason I’m here is because there are some very photogenic rice fields in the area. But it turns out that Vang Vieng is a happening tourist destination, specifically for the backpacker crowd. Twenty-somethings, college dropouts, and permanent refugees from normality....

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The Vertical Runway

The USA donated a bunch of concrete to Laos so they could build an airport. The year was 1957, and the U.S. was probably thinking, “Hey, it looks like shit is about to go down in Vietnam, wouldn’t it be great if we had an airport in next-door Laos to park our planes and stuff?” “Yeah, yeah, great idea. Let’s...

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Myanmar Time Machine

From the sky, Myanmar makes a good impression, dotted with temples, rice paddies, and small villages. Undeveloped, unspoiled, old school. At the airport, the taxi dance begins. A booth inside says 20000 kyat, about $15. Decide to take my chances outside with that price point in mind. There’s a kid with a smile and a taxi waiting for me, the...

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No Bain No Gain

I’ve got a long list of the best places on earth to take a photo, and I’m here in Mandalay to tick one of them off the list: U-Bain Bridge. Tell the taxi driver what I want, and he knows just where to go. Apparently U-Bain is not much of secret. In fact, an entire village has sprung up around...

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WTF All Day

Got the photo I wanted, now it’s time for a different kind of shot. As a former British colony, pool halls will be hard to find, but snooker is a certainty. According to Mr. Internet, there are two snooker clubs within walking distance, so I start walking. Mandalay has perhaps the most dangerous sidewalks I’ve ever seen. They are basically...

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See this bottle?

It’s a gas station. No I’m not kidding. What you can’t see is the pair of girls to the right laughing at me as I take a photo of their business. They’ve got snacks as well, just waiting for someone to run out of gas so they can spring into action, help them, and profit. You’ll see these sorts of...

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Myanmar Shithole

Montezuma’s Revenge had always been just “words” to me. That changed yesterday morning, when my backside was transformed into a water cannon. What exactly caused this revenge I’m not sure, but my best guess is an unwashed knife used to split a coconut from a roadside vendor. Hygiene in rural Myanmar is rather primitive. In fact, people shit in holes,...

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Temples in the Sky

Made my way to this spot under less than the best health conditions. It’s the view along the palace moat up at Mandalay Hill. A classic view in my opinion, but as with many of my opinions, one which I seem to hold alone. There are no other photographers or tourists on the scene. Zero. Throughout my visit to Myanmar...

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The Rohingya Chronicles

I was warned against traveling to Myanmar because of some sort of “genocide,” or something. Didn’t know much about it, but since I was in the country, I thought I’d find out. The official media story goes like this: the poor innocent Rohingya were just minding their own business when all of a sudden the army started killing, raping, and...

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Broken Crystal & The Fool

Crystal was angry. In the sixteen years I’d known her, she’d always been angry. But now, she was angry at me. So angry that she un-friended me on Facebook. Why? What had I done that was so terrible? Well, that’s a long story… Crystal was a single black teenage mother. Her child’s father was in jail. She had no prospects...

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Antelope Canyon

The website said the “photographer’s tour” of Antelope Canyon was fully booked, but “sightseeing” tours were still available. No way. No way am I going into one of the most photogenic places on earth in a mob of tourists. For their own safety I show up an hour early, and charmed my way into the “photographers tour.” Okay, maybe it...

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Pool Coach Bihn

The ad said “pool players wanted,” so I answered the ad. The guy lived in West Oakland, not exactly the safest place in the world, but pool is pool, so off I went. And so began my friendship with Bihn. Bihn was the son of Vietnamese boat people, about 30 years old, and very outgoing. Though unemployed, he lived in...

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A Tall Tale of Singapore

“Warning: Death for drug traffickers under Singapore law.” That’s what it says on the immigration form the flight attendants are handing out. Well shit, I’ve got a bottle of Tylenol in my bag, why didn’t someone tell me before I got on the plane? Singapore is of course famous for its strict law enforcement. Remember that American college kid who...

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“Do you Renounce All Violence?”

“Do you Renounce All Violence?” That’s what she asked me. Was she serious? Did she really want to know? Or was it simply moral posturing? I don’t know. But its a commonly held view at Burning Man, which after all is a hippie, artsy festival at its core. Such proclamations are to be expected. I replied, “I renounce the initiation...

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Driving Me Crazy

Rented a motorcycle to get around Danang, with the full understanding that the “normal” rules of driving do not apply in Vietnam. You know, quaint little Western ideas like “right of way, my lane, or one-way street.” Things regarded as “common sense” in the West, are not only absent here, but dangerous. For example, regard for what is behind is...

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The Final Lesson

I’d locked the keys in my car. Well, it wasn’t my car exactly, it was my father’s. A 1974 Plymouth Satellite. I had just started my first “real job” in downtown Edmonton, and was borrowing the car to commute from the family farm into the city. I couldn’t yet afford a car of my own, nor could I afford to...

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UX Food Fight Evolution

There has to be 50 restaurants to choose from in Boracay. Some are packed, other languish. But why? It can’t be only taste, for tourists must choose without knowing. Location makes a difference, but neighboring establishments frequently have very different results. It’s a design problem. Ask the average person why they chose or passed over any given place and they...

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Next Stop: Night Train Market.

Naturally this means I’ve got to take the train again, and at least this time I’ll have a clue how to do it. But down at the “ticket” machine, there are a couple young Chinese tourists who don’t have clue. They think the “ticket” machine, the one with the big “Ticket Machine” sign above it ought to sell them a...