Life on the Mekong and Other Rivers

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Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Fancy duds

Katherine loaded up on clothes that let people know that she went to a college.

She also got some clothes for our future baby to let people know where he/she might be going to college, because we sure as hell won't be able to afford a fancy private school on my measly government salary. Plus, Katherine insists it's a good school. Still, the main measure of the quality of a school is tuition, so that means that all private schools MUST be better than all state schools.

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Of course, left out from the previous post is that Steven and Bonnie were there too, as were other various and sundry family.

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So next we went to Madison, although we felt right at home.

Katherine's sister Meredith (Meredith? sadly, I realize now that I'm not sure how to spell her name. Because I'm family, though, I was given the great honor of calling her by her nickname, Max...which I can spell) graduated from UW Madison. Katherine's brother Christian also made the trip, so Katherine and Christian spent the weekend reminiscing, as they are both alums of that lovely institute of higher learning.

I did get a great shot of Max graduating, though. She's in the third column towards the back. I think she looks great, and I really captured the excitement of the day in her smile.

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New York

Seeing as I've already shared all my photos from Japan, it's time to move on.

For all of our social engagements in our week in New York, we were decidedly chintzy on the pictures.

Katherine was there 8 days, and I 7, but this is the only photo we took. Sparks Steak House, infamous for it's tasty steaks and mafia don rubouts.

In addition to our big steaks, we had mexican, indian, pizza, mexican again, hamburgers, and other delicious but somewhat unattainable (at least at the level of quality on offer in New York) in Vientiane.

Anyway, our New York social calendar revolved around lunch with friends and dinner with friends. We had lots of food with lots of friends. Posted by Picasa

Baby's first hearing damage...

So construction around the embassy has led to exciting new fashion accessories. Katherine models an accessory that no CLO on the go can do without.

The embassy is intent on caging Katherine in so that she can't quit being CLO once she has the baby. Or just ruining her view.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

The trip that was.

Just a teaser of the wonderful photographic journey I will take you all on in the near future once I can see straight (jet lag is a demanding mistress). Above is a pictoral review of my visit to Japan. Yep. Japan. Posted by Picasa

Katherine and her British girlfriends

Pictures of our trip coming in. Here are a couple of Katherine in London with Amanda and Bex. Katherine reports that Bex is the kind of kid you would want. She sleeps, she smiles, she never, ever poops. Just like her mom.

Conception, if not exactly Immaculate

So as many of you may already know, Katherine, like Mary Magdelene in that new Documentary called the Da Vinci Code, is going to have a baby. I'm just like Jesus.

She's due in Mid-November. As such, she'll be spending some quality time in Bangkok before and after the baby is born, because quality healthcare and Laos are generally considered to be mutually exclusive. Department regulations (and logic) dictate that she be in Bangkok about a month before the due date and at least a month after the baby comes out of her belly button (or however it works).

I'll spend weekends with her there before the baby is born, then head down for an extended period just before the little dude (or chick) is born.

Anyway, thought I'd share the news.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Back Home

So very tired.

Katherine went to bed at 8:00 and I'm struggling at 8:41, so will probably head to bed soon.

We left Minneapolis Saturday at 8:30 am, and arrived in Vientiane today (Monday) at 5:00 pm, so it's been a long trip, capped off by the fact that our arranged pickup plan from Udorn didn't pan out (noone there, noone with any knowledge of said plan), so alternate arrangements had to be made, adding time to our return to our lovely home and pissed off cat. Jak doesn't like it when we go away.

Friday, May 26, 2006


I've just been told by my nephew Joseph, seen here, that I am the 4th strongest person in the house. Nephew #1 Ben is the strongest, Joseph is #2, mommy (sister Sarah) is #3, I'm #4, and Katherine is #5, but only because she is still sleeping.

I've got to hit the weights and build some strength.

The countdown begins

Katherine and I are about 24 hours away from returning home. 3 weeks is a pretty long vacation, I must say, and while we have had a great time in our varied stops, we are both looking forward to getting home, unpacking, and staying put.

Still on the wait list for an upgrade using miles, so keep your fingers crossed for us.

We got a fancy new camera yesterday, so from now on our pictures will be 3x as exciting.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006


Surprisingly warm.

Thanking the weather gods and hoping it lasts as I head further north on Wednesday to go fishing in Canada with my dad and brothers-in-law.

Katherine will hang out in Minneapolis until Friday, when Diana and Alan arrive and they all head to the cabin, where I will meet them Sunday.

Friday, May 12, 2006

You can't go home again...

...But you can go to Geoffrey's.

Because Geoffrey and his special lady friend, Melissa, live in sin in her apartment, and Geoffrey's ne'er-do-well sister lives in his apartment rent free, he kicked her out (I think she slept in a women's shelter or something for the week) and gave us full access to his living room, bedroom AND bathroom, which was very cool of him. And very free for us, as opposed to a hotel, which would have been the opposite of free.

Now, with the whole Brent Wilkes/Dusty Foggo dustup at the CIA, I, being a high-ranking government official, must look at the ethical implications of accepting gifts like free apartments for the week. Darn culture of corruption. I've been ensared in its net. As long as Goeffrey doesn't ask me to throw some government contracts his way as a quid pro quo I think I'm in the clear.

We are wrapping up a week in New York full of food, drink, and more food. Seriously, our schedule seemed to revolve around lunch and dinner, which was nice. It seems, however, that our memories of New York didn't involve the large, invisible vacuum that is attached to your wallet as you enter the city. But I can tell you that it does, indeed, exist, and we have fallen victim to the wallet-sucker throughout the week.

Today off to Madison, Wisconsin for brats and cheese curds (and also Katherine's sister Meredith's college graduation if we have time).

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Burma in the news

Treading Lightly on the Road to Mandalay

THE blob of traffic in front of our car had stopped dead. Having arrived in Mandalay from crowded Bangkok, I'd hoped to escape gridlock, but here I was, just 30 minutes after touchdown at the airport, in bumper-to-bumper again. Frustrated, I poked my head from the car, and was immediately pelted — with garlands of jasmine.

I swiveled my head, and found myself staring into a crowd of Burmese girls standing on the bed of a truck festooned with ocher prayer flags. I had blundered into a novice ceremony, a festival celebrating the entrance of young girls into the local Buddhist nunnery. Burmese preteenagers in fuchsia and white robes, with crowns of garlands and gold leaf atop freshly shaven heads, stood on pedestals in the trucks, queens for the day. Truckloads of relatives held parasols over the girls' heads and tossed garlands into the street. Monks chanted while bands of wood drums and thin flutes belted out reedy atonal melodies.

As Southeast Asia modernizes rapidly — Starbucks appears to be colonizing Thailand — Myanmar, as Burma is now called, remains the last country in the region preserved in amber. In Myanmar, men still wear saronglike lungis rather than pants, and traditional rituals like the novice ceremony, rather than new-model Mercedes, still hold up traffic. Western influences are almost nowhere to be found. "We go nowhere," one Burmese businessman told me over drinks at a sailing club in the capital, where the wooden dinghies were cracking. "What can we do? Have another drink."

Read the whole thing here

Saturday, May 06, 2006

New York

Katherine and I are both here.

Beer was drunk. Food was eaten. Sleep to be had.

Good to be back.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Parting Wisdom

I'm off for 3 weeks, returning May 29. So happy. So very, very happy.

Anyway, while I'm away, you can keep up with all the goings on in Laos at

Where you will learn such things as

Schoolgirls suffer fits

More than 30 girls at Sithanaxay Upper School in Pakxan district weere taken ill with symptoms of shock, or fitting, last week....On April 28, Monks were invited to bless the school in order to ett rid of evil spirits, as local residents believed that spirits were the cause of the strange phenomenon.

Chinese and Lao Leaders Exchange Greetings

"Hey," said the Lao Leader.
"How ya doing?" replied the Chinese leader.

Farmers prefer goats to cows.

Farmers in Bolikhamsay province are raising goats in increasing numbers, while stocks of buffaloes and cows are falling every year.

I guess that is why Champassak was hoping for Goats previously.

Anyway, I'm off to Bangkok tonight, flying to New York in the morning. 3 weeks of vacation bliss. Katherine is heading to New York today from London.

Monday, May 01, 2006

When the cat's away...the mouse eats junk food

So Katherine has been gone since saturday morning, off visiting her friends Amanda and Blair and their daughter Bex en route to New York, where I will meet her on Friday.

So let's recap my diet since then.

Lunch Saturday -- nothing
Dinner Saturday -- Ritz crackers and peanut butter
Lunch Sunday -- Pizza
Dinner Sunday -- cold pizza
Breakfast Monday -- crackers (note, Monday is a national holiday here so I've got the day off)
Lunch Monday -- Hot dogs

I'm such a bad cliche of the helpless husband. But it's really borne of laziness, not ineptitude (at least that's what I keep telling myself).

And where the hell is Vone? She should work weekends. This place is a mess.