Rampaging Gang Invades Our Home in Kathmandu

A loud crash on the patio announced their arrival.

 

We ran to the windows and looked out. We were surrounded! There were at least 8 of them. But not to worry, this is a daily happening for us. The “gang” is a large family of Rhesus Macaque, the temple monkeys of Nepal (and India).

Can you spot the youngster eating the trumpet flowers?
A large adult is watching the young one
Snapdragons are yummy too

Before we moved to Kathmandu I had dreams of growing fruit trees much like Southern California. The climate is very similar. It seems that anything you thrown into the soil here will sprout. But the first time I saw the monkeys demolish our papaya tree I realized dreams of fruit trees at our Kathmandu home would be fool’s errand.

Not every home in Kathmandu is like this, but we seem to be on daily migration route of this particular troop of monkeys. Some say they are part of this group: Gangs of Swayambhu

Years ago when they attacked the papaya tree, I went outside banging a pot and yelling at them. The largest one only paused a moment and barred his teeth at me. At that moment I did not think I was such a great ape and retreated inside.

You can see what effect my growl had on the monkeys who were ripping the branches off our pine tree yesterday.

To the Leaders of the Free World, consider using a “time-out”.

To the Leaders of the Free World, consider using a “time-out”

There were times as a student where I experienced a time-out. Standing in the corner, or my nose to the chalkboard, and the extreme time when my sixth grade teacher sent the whole class outside to march up and down the sidewalk while he got some work done.

But that was so long ago, I needed to refresh my memory, so I “Googled-it”. I found this site in my search:

According to the site: “Time-out means time out from positive reinforcement (rewarding experiences). It is a procedure used to decrease undesirable behaviors. The main principle of this procedure is to ensure that the individual in time-out is not able to receive any reinforcement for a particular period of time.


Dear world leaders, there is a child in charge of the most powerful military in the world and you need to put him in time-out, he has already demonstrated undesirable behaviors and should not be rewarded.

According to the site, you should set up a time-out area, “The time-out area should be easily accessible, and in such a location that the child can be easily monitored while in time-out.” 

Thankfully we already have many towers we can keep him in, easily identified with his name. Please use your sovereign funds to pay for his residence as that would expedite his departure from the world stage through impeachment (see Article I, Section 9, Clause 8 of the United States Constitution).

The amount of time spent in time-out, is generally based on age. According to the site, “Children from 2 – 5 years old should receive a 2 to 5 minute time-out. A 6 year old child should probably receive about a 5 minute time-out while a 10 year old child would receive a 10 minute time-out. A general guideline can be: 6-8 years of age, 5 minutes; 8-10 years of age, 10 minutes; 10-14 years of age, 10 to 20 minutes.

Generally the amount of time doubles every 5 years. So starting at 5 minutes for a 5 year old, a 70 year old would be 2 to the sixteenth power times 5, divide that by 60 to get the hours,  divide that by 24 to get the days. The answer is 227.5 days.

What would happen if you just ignored him for that time? What would happen if you did not take his phone calls? You and he have ministers and sub-ministers for that, but do not give him the attention he wants. What would happen if you didn’t invite him to your golf courses. What would happen if you did not allow him to meet your queen? What would happen if you did not give him the right time for the G7 or G20 photo? Or better yet, don’t invite him to the Group of 7 with the rest of the cool kids, invite Jerry Brown instead.

It is important that you specify the target behaviors that need to change. According to the site, “It is very important the child be aware of the behaviors that are targeted for reduction.

So phrase your conversations so he understands his errors in judgement:

  • “Donald, breaking trade deals is bad. Sorry, you can no longer visit the queen.”
  • “Donald, denying climate change is wrong. We are going to turn your golf course into a nature preserve.”
  • “Donald, banning refugees is not a good idea. We are going to turn your branded hotels and resorts into refugee centers.”

Dear world leaders, you might also want to consider this from the site:

Reward desirable behavior as much as possible by verbal praise, touch or something tangible such as a toy, food or money.

-just might work in his case

By the way, parents, don’t use any of this advice on your kids. Give them a hug and listen.

Stand Up to the Bully

Stand Up to the Bully

Stand up for your wife, your mother, and your daughter against the threats to their body, minds, and their spirits. Contribute to causes with time and money that support their rights. March with them no matter your gender, for their rights are your own.

Stand up for the first amendment of the constitution: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” Read. Be literate about the facts. Not only learn more about current issues, but learn about the constitution and its amendments. Support the press and ask more of the press. Donate to public radio.

Stand up against ignorance. Against those who would abandon our public schools. Against those who failed science and can not accept its conclusions. Demand your supermarkets remove tabloids from the checkout stands. Contribute and volunteer to Greenpeace or the Sierra Club.

Stand up to the bigots. Do not let their lies become the truth in any land. Challenge them.

Two children, two faiths, one message – from CNN

Stand up for anyone not like you. If you get to know them, you will find you have a lot in common. Trust me, somewhere in the world, you are the odd person. Diversity is a strength and that is why America is great.

Stand up for those who chose a life of public service and now face disrespect, including the one hundred and seventeen stars on the memorial wall in Langley, over a thousand dissenting members of the Department of State, and one brave woman lawyer from Georgia.

Stand up and use your wallet to support companies sympathetic to your views, and boycott those that don’t.

Stand up to the public servants you elected. They work for you. Call them, do not email them. Afraid of a long distance call? Get a gmail account and setup a hangout, or get a free Skype account. You can make free calls from anywhere in the world to a US number.

  • Senators can be found here: https://www.senate.gov/senators/contact/senators_cfm.cfm
  • House members can be found here: http://www.house.gov/representatives/

Stand up and run. Run for a local office, this is where all politics starts. Run for the school board, the local commissions, and the public committees.

Do not sit and fret.

Stand up and make a difference.

Trump School

I was recently at a pep rally at a school in Nepal named for the 16th President of the United States. As a good luck charm, Lincoln’s head is rubbed by each member of the team. It seems to work as the school has a lot of winning teams. But the head rubbing got me thinking, “Will there be a Trump School?”

The famous Republican above, has lent his name to at least 3 schools for expats around the world, and of course many in the USA. Just in Illinois 89 public schools are named for Lincoln.

Already there are schools named for President Obama in at least 6 states in the US.
The name Trump University has already been sullied. No turning the clock back on that one… it has been settled.

So “Will there be another Trump named school?” Without a doubt the answer is “Yes!” Most likely in some other country than the US, for example, Russia. Leaving out the obvious, what other schools might adopt the 45th president’s name?

Here are three schools that could adopt the Trump label tomorrow:
I put forward Trabajo Ya as a clear contender. Not familiar with the school? Currently not a catchy name, but what if it was called the School of Trump Tricks. It is a trade school in Spain. Trabajo Ya means “Work Now,” and reflects Trump’s values of women and employment. Look it up.
Then there is the legendary School of the Seven Bells in the Andes, where thieves and pickpockets learn their trade. Does it not already feel like some of the administration are alums of this school? Renaming the school to the Trump School of the Seven Hells would be an apt testimonial to the importance of the school in shaping the new American carnage.
Even with the recent closing of the Ringling Brothers, The Clown School is thriving. There is something inherently creepy and scary about clowns: No matter what they do, they sincerely expect you to enjoy it. Let’s hear it for TCS, the Trump Clown School!

More fun with the Ricoh Theta S camera

One of the challenges of 360 photography is finding sites that take advantage of the technology. Just uploading the image to Blogger for example makes the image look like it was taken in a fish bowl.

A 360 image embed from Flickr works, but it takes you to Flickr to open the file.
Fortunately I found a great site from Kathy Schrock that covers the “how-to” of displaying these images. That led me to Pannellum. Pannellum will take a spherical image you have hosted on the internet, such as Flickr and give you an embed code that allows you to show the image as it should be seen. Below is this side of Kathmandu from the rooftop at work. The camera was held over the  railing on a tripod.


The temple on the hilltop is Swayambhunath

A larger version of the image can be seen on Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/148854208@N08/30696342250/in/dateposted-public/

Halloween Fun and a new Camera

While in Vietnam two weeks ago, I was introduced to a new camera, the Ricoh Theta S. It has a lens on each side and takes 360 degree photos and movies.

The camera is small and extremely light weight. Fits easily into a pocket, or with a small tripod into a purse or backpack.

The camera take selfies to a whole new level. For example, tonight’s Halloween visitors (try rotating the image with your mouse down):

Happy Halloween! From Kathmandu

 #theta360 – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA

 

 

Baking sourdough bread in SoCal

Sourdough bread has been around for a long time. Both beer and sourdough bread appeared around the same time in ancient Egypt. Two great uses for grains! Sourdough fermentation also changes how people digest grains. See

I started making sourdough loaves using the instructions from Breadtopia.com. They sell the starter through Amazon. It takes a few days to grow the starter from the small package to make enough to continue growing and give you the 1/4 cup you need to make the bread. There is a great “no knead” recipe and video on Breadtopia. Breadtopia’s recipe is simple:

  • 1/4 cup of starter
  • 1 and half cups of water
  • Two and half cups of bread flour
  • 1 cup of whole wheat
  • 1 and half teaspoons of salt

For my SoCal recipe:

  • 3 and a third cups of unbleached bread flour with a third cup of cracked wheat and no whole wheat (it was not in my cupboard!)
  • Mix the water and starter together.
  • Then mix the dry ingredients
  • Then mix the wet and dry ingredients together. The mixture should be damp. Add water or flour as needed.

Covered the bowl with a plastic bag and let it sit from 8 to 12 hours. The longer you wait, the wetter the mixture gets. The mix will increase in size.

The mixture is dumped on to a floured surface and flattened and rolled (see video on Breadtopia.

The roll is allowed to rest for 15 minutes.

While it is resting for 15 minutes, prep the next surface. I use a colander. Oil it and add sesame seeds or wheat germ.
 Then take the roll of flour, ball it up and put it into the colander.
Leave it covered and turn on the timer to 60 minutes:
After 60 minutes, turn the oven up to 425F. My oven in SoCal burns very hot, so 425 is more like 500F. I set the timer for another 15 minutes. After lining the interior of the Dutch oven with parchment paper, it is put into the oven,  After another 15 minutes, the dough is ready to be dumped into the Dutch oven. The cover of the Dutch oven is removed after 30 minutes. 15 minutes later the bread is ready:
Now we have a loaf of bread to carry in our luggage to use in Kathmandu!
The last act for my sourdough starter is to preserve it for the next visit. The starter is spread-out on parchment paper and dried:
The flakes are stored in a baggie in the freezer, ready to be re-hydrated for our next visit.
5000 years after the first loaf, sourdough bread is still great to eat. Just don’t eat one that is that old!

Laxshmi puja – Let there be light

Today is Laxshmi puja, the day to welcome the goddess of good fortune to visit your house. We checked the batteries of our solar lights, and strung the bulbs across our second floor patio.

Houses in the neighborhood are decorated with lights and candles:

A mandala will help the goddess find the entrance to your house:

Notice the red blur in the picture, near the mandala. Is this Laxshmi?

A Festival of Light in the Dark – Part II

 This looks like a traffic jam….
But actually it is cars and buses parked along the road waiting for gas. The parked vehicles on one of Kathmandu’s busy thoroughfares can cause the same traffic jam as if they were moving.

This weekend there was a brief three day spell where you could get in a line for fuel, but many were frustrated. That will continue. Here is the evening headline in the Kathmandu Post about the Nepal Oil Company (NOC):

 

Not much help for the vehicles stuck in the line waiting for gas or diesel. Also friends of mine told me that cooking oil had double in price, along with other food stuffs.

Our employer continues to take good care of us and our needs are covered. But our hearts go out to the people who can least afford this hardship, because they are the ones who are suffering the most.

A Festival of Light in the Dark

This is the festival season in Nepal (See this previous post to learn more). Think of the time between Thanksgiving and New Years in the West. The next festival is Tihar, the festival of lights.

However, we are in the same fuel crisis that started in the third week of September.

Linda and I are fine. But it did get more personal today. Our housekeeper, Indira, has been showing up and doing her job each day at the house. Besides the cleaning, washing and ironing, Indira takes care of us. She pays our local bills, commandeers water trucks when needed, and makes sure all of the delivery people are paid, and happy. She usually takes a bus, but the bus service is not available. Her next method for getting here is on the back of her son’s motorcycle. He is out of gas. So she walks. She walks one hour each way to our house.

Indira’s story is repeated in a thousand households in this city.  Indira takes the hardship as Nepalis do, “I will get thin with exercise!”

Note to Readers: At this time it is OK to sing to yourself the Monty Python song “Always look on the bright side of life.” Maybe it will make you a little more Nepali.

September 27th was the last time private cars and motorcycles could get fuel. Today the pumps open up again for three days. There is a schedule of when you can go, based on our license plate.

NOC=Nepal Oil Corporation

There is a cascade of bad headlines that seem to be the new normal such as: Business closed and hotels running at less than 20% capacity. The irony is that it is a great time to visit Nepal. Because travel to Nepal is not just about temples and mountains, it is about the Nepali people.

Next week is the celebration of Tihar. It is a festival of lights in which small oil cups burn inside and outside of houses. We had an early celebration at work, honoring all of our staff during this difficult time. One of the local staff said to the assembled group a simple sentence that both humbled me, and brought a tear to my eye:

“We can not illuminate our houses but we can illuminate our hearts”
Are you still singing the song?