Missoula Talks

Missoula is the second largest city in the state of Montana. It used to be a city that was based around the lumber industry. The logging industry in Missoula has decreased to virtually zero. The two largest employment providers are the hospital and the university. The two big talking points, however, on our local radio show 1340 KYLT are the chicken squabble and the great flood.

Chicken Debate

This debate really divided the citizens of Missoula. The ordinance known as ‘the chicken ordinance’ allows people in Missoula to raise 6 hens (no roosters) on their property. The proponents of the ordinance pointed out that keeping chickens was a good measure in sustainability. People would be able to raise chickens in an animal-friendly way. They could get fresh eggs and the occasional chicken dinner out of their efforts. Chickens are friendly animals and are easy to keep. You just need a coop and a hen home and you are away. Chicken feed is cheap and chickens do little harm to anyone. There can be few objections about the noise because the ordinance clearly stated that roosters were prohibited. The other benefit of no roosters is that the chicken numbers would therefore be kept under control.

Those opposing the chicken ordinance had a number of objections. They thought it plain strange to have chickens in a city. They felt the animals would make a mess of the city and could also pose possible health risks to the people of Missoula.

While chickens could carry avian flu the risks to health and safety seem less than the risks to the commercial chicken ‘growers’ who mass produce chicken meat and eggs for the main food companies of the area who are connected to the main sellers of food nationwide. Agribusiness is keen to use its lobbying power to stop all individual and cooperative effort to produce food and thus eat into their market share.

So far the ordinance has stood and the good citizens are allowed to raise hens.

The Missoula Floods

In prehistoric times Missoula Lake had a massive flood which left its mark in the Channeled Scabland in the Pacific Northwest. Scientists believed for a long time that there was a cycle of floods. Geology pointed to many floods (between 40 and 100 since the last Ice Age) that had left their mark.

In the 1920s J Harlen Bretz challenged this orthodoxy. He pointed out strong evidence that the scarification of the landscape was due not to a uniform effect of numerous floods, but rather was the result of one large and catastrophic flood.

The scientific argument continues as geologists continue to unearth new data regarding the Missoula floods and the Channeled Scabland. The issue has caught the imagination of the public because many feel the catastrophic, big flood theory proposed by Bretz ties in with the Biblical Flood story. Why couldn’t there have been one huge and all-clearing flood in pre-history? It is tempting to see it as the work of God.

Those who continue to argue that the Theory of Evolution is ‘only a theory’ and not ‘fact’ take heart and ammunition from this controversy in Missoula. The scientists on the other hand just want to get the best hypothesis to explain the data.

We residents of Missoula just hope nature or God doesn’t cause the water levels of the lake to flood our homes and businesses because we like where we live; and many of us like keeping chickens too.

Let’s Talk

Talk Radio 1340 KYLT keeps the conversation going. We love dignified debate and having the chance to state our opinions. Most of us also respect the right of our neighbors to hold opinions that are contrary to our own. While we are talking we are not fighting. And while we are talking we are learning something about each other.

Commercial Media Sites ITV Player

I’ve always been very interested in what the future holds for them many media sites that operate online.  Some are there to genuinely embrace the medium, many sometimes look like they made a site just because they thought they better had.   You can see different approaches depending on which sector – radio sites are probably the most diverse, newspaper sites cover a wide area and there’s been enormous investment in some of the big broadcasters across the world like NBC, BBC and the UK’s biggest commercial station – ITV.

television-itvplayer

There’s no doubt that the biggest and arguably the best online media site is one of the pioneers – the BBC.  They have an advantage obviously with the backing of a UK license fee which anyone who owns a TV set has to pay, but they also pioneered the online streaming of television broadcasts.  You can see it in the quality of the site and how it has developed over the years, for anyone not in the UK you’ll need to use something like this to access it – Watch UK TV abroad.

But there huge advantage as mentioned is funding doesn’t have to be directly generated from the website.  The BBC can look at the BBC iPlayer as part of their overall strategy and not a specific income generation tool.  Of course commercial operations can’t operate like this, the costs involved in the website, infrastructure and bandwidth to stream programmes across the internet are substantial and that cost has to be covered some way.

Initially it looked like copying the broadcasters original model was going to be the way forward.  Just as streaming radio sites run adverts on their shows, TV stations ran video adverts during their content too.    At first there were problems in that viewers were speeding past the videos and not watching them, until at least  the players were adapted to counteract that.

In the UK the main commercial site – ITV was quite slow to develop their web site, but it’s now quite slick operation.   Anyone in the UK can use the ITV Player application to watch the vast majority of their broadcasts (apart from those licensed from other stations).  The adverts are compulsory and you are unable to fast forward them as was previously the case.   For anyone outside the UK, you’re going to have to impersonate a Brit – try this video – watch ITV Player in the USA.

This operated very similar to the US site Hulu, but both companies have seen the chance to extend their revenue model by operating a premium version of the site.  This involves paying a subscription fee were you can watch without the commercial breaks and have access to broadcasts for a longer period of time.   It seems likely that these benefits of these ‘Premium versions’ will expand and more shows will only be available on the paid sites.  It’s something that’s already happening in the Newspaper sector where the best news media sites are nearly all paid subscriptions now (with some noteable exceptions.)

It will be interested to see how these sectors develop over the next few years, but it seems likely more and more content on the internet will involve a paid subscription – a rather depressing thought.

Should Creationists be Speaking at a University?

There is controversy in the air at Montana Tech over the speakers list at the upcoming graduation ceremony.   There is a large contingent of students who are upset at two speakers who are prominent supporters of creationism.  In fact Greg and Susan Gianforte are engineers who make financial contributions to an earth creationist museum.

It’s called the Glendive Dinosaur and Fossil Museum, which presents it’s fossils in the context of biblical creation.  Of course most non-creationists would be rather confused how you present something millions of years old in the context of a 16,000 year old planet.   The students don’t like it though, stating that the couple are campaigners against science and should not be allowed to speak.

I feel this image is appropriate …….

FFS-Creationists

 

It’s a difficult decision really, a University should be open minded and allow a platform for all valid arguments.  Unfortunately creationism really doesn’t make any sense and ALL the scientific facts state it’s nonsense too.  If scientists start believing in something like creationism they might as well go home as they can’t believe anything that is true either.

I’m kind of pleased the students are making a stand, there’s been some pretty pointless protests in Universities over the years but preserving truth is kind of a good one.   Others may point out that in Turkey creationists actively block access to anything that disagrees with their world view.  You can’t access many atheist web sites for instance without investing in fast proxy service like this to bypass.   Over the years there religious leaders have blocked access to other sites too – including the social networking site Facebook.

The couple have promised to not talk about their religious beliefs and are unlikely to attempt to disprove evolution in their keynote speeches.  It is nevertheless a place of learning and academia – and if you start believing that creationism is true you have a very different building ….it’s called a church.

Missolula’s New Film Makers

Making your first film during your retirement sounds an incredibly daunting prospect, but that’s exactly what Jan and Harold Hoem have done.  At the start of the project they didn’t even know how to use a video camera, but last week saw the premiere of their new film – a documentary called “Coal Road to China”.

It tells the story of coal, the fossil fuel that causes so much debate and so much damage to the environment.  The impetus for this film is the new coal export terminals which are being built in the North West.  These will help process the coal leaving from the mining in Missoula and sending the produce across the sea to China to fuel their massive industrial growth.

The documentary is written from a environmentalists viewpoint and includes interviews from several climate scientists and prominent environmentalists.   It is thought provoking and beautifully filmed for an amateur production.  One line made me think – “The pollution from coal burned in China comes back to us on air currents faster than the ships that took the coal there in the first place.”
open-pit-mining

It is a film that features many areas from Missoula and surrounding regions, it works as story as well as making some important environmental points.  The couple certainly did some travelling too whilst filming, they estimated that the traveled about 5000 miles including trips to Montana and Wyoming – both filming and researching the routes that coal takes from the mines.

The US is often criticized for it’s lack of concern for environmental issues, especially when it conflicts with economic concerns.  This film shows that there is a genuine worry about the environmental impact of coal mining both locally and obviously a global scale.  In some terms it relies me a little about some of the concerns being voiced in Australia who are among the biggest suppliers of fossil fuels to China.  There is increasing concern there especially when linked to the climate change effects on the country – you can get a feel of them in news reports and documentaries aired on the Australian media such as ABC Iview – use this proxy based in Australia to be able to watch from Missoula.

The debate is an important one and a “Coal Road to China” will almost certainly make you think about the potential issues and the path that the human race is taking.  It’s refreshing to see the concerns raised by real people who have no agenda, just a retired couple who genuinely care.  There are many environmental resources available online but my favorites come from the main UK broadcaster the BBC, you can access the site and all the documentaries online by masking your IP address (this video shows how)

The documentary is supported by MELT, the Montana Environmental Information Center, the Sierra Club, and the Northern Plains Resource Council.

Future of Online Music – Google Steps Into Battle

For all us who are interested in the future of music and internet radio online, there’s been a rather big development this week.  The search giant Google has just launched a new live streaming service called “All Access” – which will blend songs atht other users have uploaded.  The monthly fee will be $10 or equivilant in local currency.  It seems to be pitched directly at the users of services like Spotify and Rhapsody and perhaps the wonderful Pandora.

It looks like one of the big internet battles coming up is going to be in the supply and provision of digital music.  All the big guys are getting involved and expect to see improvements in how your music can be utilised with mobile devices.

Apple is of course a big player in this area with it’s iTunes application.  It is rumoured that they will be releasing a digital radio station this year at some point.  Also YouTube and Spotify the Swedish streaming service are also expected to be releasing updates to their existing services.

As in many sectors Google has been a little slow to enter the competition for these markets.  The computer giant though seems to have realised that it’s dominance with the “Windows Operating Systems’ is under huge threat as people change the way they use computers and other devices.

All Access will be avialble in the US this week (may 2013) and it should come with some sort of free trial (probably a 30 day one).  It is expected that Google will leverage it’s Android operating system to help push the service.  It is hoped that the service will not be restricted or blocked in different countries like Napster did when it was first released.  The annoying fact that the service was much different depending on which country you were in and worse the price varied dramatically.  So users in Europe would end up using a commercial service like this http://www.uktv-online.com/bbc-iplayer-on-the-ipad-abroad/ in order to connect to the Aussie version because it was cheaper than the European one!

Montana What No TV?

On January 3rd if you were located in South West Montana, you may have noticed that just about all the TV stations disappeared.  CBS, ABC,Fox and PBS to name but a few all them unavailable at least over direct TV signals.  It was quite a shock to me as I’m pretty much housebound at the moment and the internet, TV and books play rather a big part in my life at the moment.

The problem apparently was a fibre line which failed. These lines are used to transmit the TV signals from the various satellite networks.  The problem was described as vaguely as possible and that include the resolution date – ’we are aware of the problem and are looking at a resolution” say the companies.

In my boredom I switched to the internet and actually looked to see if I could get some of the TV channels online.  What I discovered was a relative bonanza of channels to watch, pretty much all the major stations like NBC and ABC broadcast over the web.  You can also visit a site called Hulu which rebroadcasts loads of popular shows from a variety of networks, they have a free version and a premium service.

It was then I started looking further abroad for different options. I had heard that the BBC in the UK was broadcasting a new natural history programme with David Attenborough, which was something I was desperate to see.  This is where my lucky run halted and the BBC website told me that as I wasn’t in the UK I couldn’t watch the show !!  Of course this is the internet and I know nothing is impossible so after a little searching I found this website which showed me how to watch UK Tv – the link is about ITV player but it works just the same.   All I needed was a little program that hid my location and I was able to watch other stations across the world.

I picked up some Canadian TV including the excellent History Channel with shows like Ice Pilots.  I then decided to check out some other European sites such as a channel called M6 Replay in France which is great if you’re learning French as you can watch the Simpsons dubbed.  Australia, Germany and Ireland also had lots of channels to watch online and you could switch country using the program I found called Identity Cloaker.

So I lost my TV channels but discovered a whole new world of them online. So thanks guys, and don’t rush with the repairs!

 

ipad

It has been predicted by many technology commentators that the days of traditional TV and radio are numbered.  In fact there are not many formats that will exist outside of the internet if the predictions are true.  Most radio stations already stream or broadcast their shows online, KYLT are of course no exception with a thriving internet radio presence.

In some ways this is driven by the technology that exists in listener’s homes.  After all on my desk I have a radio which is connected to the internet, it can play normal FM broadcasts or it can download and stream a radio station from anywhere in the world.  Using  the internet means that what I listen to on my radio is not dictated by it’s location.  I don’t have to listen to local broadcasts or even a programme in the country I am situated in.

The situation with television is extremely similar.  You don’t need a television to watch most TV programmes anymore.  Devices such as Xbox, Playstations or computers can all be used just like a TV set.  In my study I can watch British TV online by using a proxy server via my Ipad or computer – this is despite various internet blocks employed by some media companies to stop this practice (example- http://www.iplayerabroad.com/).

It is essential that media companies adapt and embrace these innovations if they are to survive this revolution.  If you look at something like Pandora, the incredible online Jukebox that was created from the music genome project.  If it’s only music you’re after then it’s hard to see anything compete with this site, it gives you access to literally millions of tracks for free with very minimal advertising.  The world is changing and how we listen to content is moving faster than anything.

How To Find A Great Plumber In Missoula

Unless you’ve already had a need for a plumber, you probably don’t have one ready on speed dial. Most people don’t. We don’t often think about plumbing needs or emergencies, so we don’t do the research before hand. But when a plumbing emergency occurs, we frantically call the first one we can find, and that’s not a good practice. Knowing what to look for in finding a good plumber is beneficial, and a good plumber is crucial in an emergency plumbing situation.

There are a few quick ways to find a reliable and good plumber, just by asking friends, family, website directory such as the one that plumbers boise has or even your realtor for recommendations. You’ll know they’re good because a reliable source verified it for you. But if you don’t have any recommendations, you can look online for plumbers in your area. You shouldn’t jump at the first one, or the closest one, you should do a little research before making your choice. A little reading can make all the difference in having a good plumber. Here’s some things you should check out, or look for when searching.

Things To Pay Attention To

The plumber should be licensed in your area. Licenses are verifiable credentials. If they didn’t bother to get a license for their business, how well do you think they’re going to treat your job.

The plumber should be insured. In order for a plumber to be insured he must be licensed. An uninsured plumber can sue if he gets hurt working on a your job.

You’ll want to make sure they guarantee their work. The industry standard is to verify parts and labor.

You’ll want to see if the company has any awards or professional affiliations. These both show accreditation and professionalism.

You should get quotes from at least 3 plumbers, a few more is recommended. If one is far lower than the others, be careful as they may not be including the realm of the project and/or may be using substandard parts and materials.

You should remember to ask, when getting quotes, what’s provided.

A plumber that’s reputable will be able to provide you with a quote, as well as, a price ceiling if there’s the possibility of complications. If they can’t provide a quote, ask for a worse case scenario quote.

A responsible plumber will either answer your call or have a secretary, so take note of who answers the phone.

Read customer reviews, and check with the BBB before making your decision. If the majority of reviews are negative or there’s some severely negative ones, keep looking.

It shouldn’t make a difference whether you’re looking for a plumber because of an emergency or needing one for a future project, you should take time to do a little research. Plumbing is an essential part of your home, you don’t want something done wrong. It’s natural that you’ll want to save money, but if you don’t use a reliable plumber, it could end up costing you much more. Take a little time to get the job done right!

5 Reasons to Choose Morzine for Your Next French Ski Trip

We’re just back from two glorious weeks in the small French ski resort of Morzine, the weather was amazing and the ski conditions perfect. You can’t control those elements so we know how fortunate we are on that front. We’re also very fortunate to have two great friends in Lisa and Jack, our ski buddies, without whom we wouldn’t even know about Morzine.

Now that we’ve discovered this smashing little resort we feel it our duty to share it with you! So here are just five good reasons to head for Morzine the next time you’re booking a ski trip in the French Alps.

First off Morzine is charming and peaceful…even when it’s busy, if that makes sense?! Popular with families Morzine has the gentle friendly atmosphere of a village where everyone is just going calmly about their business. Of course, it is a very popular resort and does get very busy but it doesn’t feel aggressive or overwhelming.

Secondly, as just mentioned, Morzine is really family friendly which given the cost of a skiing trip with kids is essential as far as we are concerned. There are plentiful child friendly ski areas and plenty of different options if you want to leave your bundles of joy in the safe hands of someone else!

Thirdly, we just loved the scenery, from the top heights there are some incredibly dramatic views while further down we loved skiing through the atmospheric woodlands. We’ve not been there during the summer months but from the photos we’ve seen…wow.

Number four…the food. We ate…a lot…and it was great. Lots of choice in and around Morzine but we were particularly fortunate to be staying in a hotel with a fantastic restaurant, which is where we ate most nights. If you’re looking for some luxury accommodation in Morzine we can highly recommend The Farmhouse (or Le Mas de la Coutettaz as its known locally).

Last but certainly not least is the skiing experience itself. Morzine isn’t the highest resort and maybe doesn’t always have the deepest snow fall but the skiing itself is such a pleasure. The runs are beautiful and the getting about easy. It’s no good having the most amazing runs in the world if it’s a drag to actually ski them in the first place. Morzine was just so enjoyably easy and that’s why we’ll be heading back just as soon as we can.

Famous Sons and Daughters of Missoula

I read an interesting article the other day which listed the famous TV/film people born in Missoula.  There’s actually a whole set of lists on the IMDb (Internet Movie Database) website, it’s definitely worth a look if you are interested in films.

So is Missoula the home of thousands of movie superstars?  Well unfortunately not but it does have quite a few famous actors who were born here.  Possibly one of the most famous is the writer and director David Lynch.  He was born in 1946 in this city although he was raised in many cities as his father moved around a lot with his work.

He is of course famous for many great films and TV shos including Twin Peaks, Blue Velvet and Mullholland Drive to name but a few.  probablu one of the most famous current actors born in Missoula is Jesse Tyler Ferguson who has been a successful TV actor for many years.  He’s also starred in such films as Untraceable and Modern Family which were both box office successes.

For not so serious actors Missoula can count Dana Carvey as one of its own.  He was of course one of the stars of the box office smash – Waynes World which was released 20 years ago !!  I can’t believe the film is that old.  Although Carvey is probably better known nowadays for his stage shows where he excels in live routines.

Scott Michale Campbell starred in the remake of one of my favourite films – Flight of the Phoenix.    It tells the story of a group of people who are stranded in the desert when their plane crashes.  It’s a good little remake but not in the  league of the orginal.  His biggest role was probably Brokeback Mountain though which won several Oscars in 2005.

Incidentally if you enjoy TV shows and films it’s worth checking out the various online media sites.  Sites like Hulu, ABC and NBC rebroadcast a lot of their stuff online.  There are also some great dramas and documentaries available from UK based sites like BBC, Channel 4 and 5 online, although it should be noted that you will need access to a UK IP address to view these – this site shows how - http://www.theninjaproxy.org/tv/a-fake-uk-ip-address/.  Be warned though the same restrictions apply to Hulu and others, so if you are outside the US for any reason you may not be able to connect through to  these sites without and American IP.

Being Aware of Your Diet

In a follow up to a previous post on the rising numbers of overweight and obese residents in Missoula where diet was highlighted as the major cause of the problem, it might be helpful to take a closer look at how people’s awareness of what they’re eating and drinking factors into the equation. That’s because when you look at it from an objective standpoint, it appears a lot of good can be gained from being more aware of what is being consumed on a daily basis.

But how do you become more aware of what you’re eating? That’s the main question we’ll be considering in this installment as we look at ways to make it easier to identify where some people are going wrong and to offer a healthier and more positive alternative to the problem.

Write it All Down

One of the most powerful ways of raising awareness of the things that you are consuming every day is to write down in a notepad every single thing that passes your lips every day for a week or longer if possible. The best way to do this is to keep a notepad and pen handy with you at all times and simply jot down what it is you eat and drink every time throughout each day.

Don’t go back and review it at the end of each day or even at any frequency, but just keep a daily record of your food and drinks consumption. You can review it all at the end of the week.

Using the Information

After the first week of keeping a daily diary of your food intake, you should then spend some time going back through the diary and looking at what you have written down. You may begin to see patterns in your eating habits where you are perhaps snacking between meals on high calorie sweet or savory things and maybe drinking a can of soda here and there.

Once you can see the obvious big calorie spikes throughout each day, you can take that information forward and look for ways to stamp them out. The best way to do that if you don’t think you have the will power to go cold turkey is to find alternatives.

Replacing the Bad with the Good

This can really make a difference to your weight if you can start replacing the high calorie snacks with other options and get into the habit of doing it every day. You will have identified the worst offenders through your daily food diary, so start by tackling those first.

If there is a slice of pie with a coffee or a can of soda mid morning for instance, then replace it with something else you like to eat that is much lower in calories and healthier, such as an apple or other piece of fresh fruit and swap the soda for a glass of plain water. It might seem strange at first, but do it anyway and after a while you’ll really get into enjoying it a whole lot more.

Go through your day systematically replacing bad foods with good ones and before too long, your reduced calorie intake will have a marked effect on your body weight as it drops steadily. You can read more about diet awareness and how it can help you manage your weight by visiting this website: www.dietawareness.com and taking some time to read the articles there that expand on this practice in more detail.

Eating for a Healthy Life

One of the bigger topics on the lips of many residents of Missoula is the growing statistics over the number of obese residents in the city compared to those from two decades ago. The numbers are climbing fast and seem to be out of control, tending to keep pace with the national average.

This does not bode well for the health of the city’s inhabitants, but what can be done to apply the brakes to this runaway wagon? The obvious answer is to get people to take a closer look at what they’re eating and the volume of food they consume each day. In many cases, the overweight people’s actual diet is in a terrible state and to compound the problem, they’re eating way too much of it.

So let’s look at what can be done in the short term and how people can be saved from themselves so they can look forward to a healthier future.

Being Aware of Portion Sizes

One of the massive problems faced by people in many fast food restaurants is the full-on promotion of extra large or super size meal combos. They are made to look so tempting while appealing to the customer’s sense of value that they are irresistible. Unfortunately, what people are buying is a ticket to an early one way visit to the cemetery!

Eating high levels of this type of food will load on more than just excess calories. It also contains a lot of trans fats, sodium, sugar and preservative. These are bad for the heart, causing high cholesterol and triglyceride levels, narrowing the arteries and leading to strokes and heart attacks.

Knowing Where to Make Cuts

Amazingly, it’s not really necessary to start a set diet program to lose weight. All it takes is some common sense in what is already being consumed and making tactical reductions of the worst offenders.

The obvious first choice is to cut down on sugar intake. Drinking soda, especially the super size cups in fast food restaurants, adds an enormous amount of sugar and with it hundreds of empty calories. Cutting out this beverage altogether can help many people to lose a pound or more every week without making any other changes to their eating habits!

Taking Each Step at a Time

Of course, the next step is cutting down on the amount of processed junk food being consumed. This will reduce the level of bad fats as well as further cut down on calorie consumption.

Swapping just one super size happy meal per week for a healthy, home cooked meal made from fresh ingredients and not from a packet will help reduce the calorie count further. Learning about eating a healthy life diet is easy, so it’s worth visiting http://healthylifediets.com to get more information and increasing your knowledge and understanding of this subject.

Reversing the obesity figures for Missoula just takes some sound thinking by the people most affected. Taking action is the way to beat this problem, so all people need to do is take the first step and act!

Party Politics

Just as with the great chicken argument in Missoula, there is a split in the local community on the Thai island of Koh Phangan about the famous (or infamous) Full Moon Party that sees an invasion of young people descend upon the usually sleepy Thai island for a week of sex, drugs and trance music. There are those who welcome the shot in the arm that the party gives the economy of the island, and there are those who bitterly oppose how the party has changed the island.

Every month between 20 and 30 thousand people descend on Koh Phangan. Many come 3 or 4 days before the main party to get a cheap bungalow in Haad Rin. The parties start a week before the Full Moon. There is the famous foam party held by the Drop in Club. All the bars along the beach crank up the music to draw in the punters.

On the night of the party, the small town of Haad Rin becomes inundated with fluorescent paint daubed youngsters getting drunk, taking illicit substances and displaying a remarkable lack of embarrasment. It is like New Year’s eve every month.

The bars on Haad Rin Nai and Haad Rin Nok beaches take a lot of money as do the small ’bucket stands’ between the bars. The prices for accommodation not only in Haad Rin but all over the island go up and so the resorts also do very well from the party. And then there are after parties that go on until the following night that also do very well.

On the other hand, those who do not want to party but live in Haad Rin find it imposssible to sleep for 48 hours. The beach and town are inevitably left with lots of litter, broken glass and passed out bodies to deal with. The one hospital on the island cannot cope with the numerous injuries and ’psychological’ problems the party causes.

The police force have a field day collecting tourists who break the law and throw them in the cells. Their fate is usually a hefty fine and sometimes jail time. And of course, Thailand is traditionally a conservative Buddhist culture. The party is an affront to the traditional peaceful and reserved way of doing things in Thailand.

The debate between those who want the party and those that don’t is one that cannot be easily resolved. One small step in the right direction is the recent move to charge entry for the party. Some of this revenue is used to clean up the beach.

Beaches in Thailand

It is no accident that most of the population of the United States, Australia and other countires bordering the ocean live by the sea. There is something soothing about watching and hearing the waves lap against the shore. Many people also go to tropical beaches in the Caribbean, South East Asia, the Indian Ocean, Brazil and elsewhere to enjoy their holidays. Golden sands, cocktails on the beach, bright blue skies, hot weather and paradise locations are the epitome for many of the perfect vacation.

It is great to live your life on a beach. I did so for a year once. I rented a cheap bungalow in Maenam, Koh Samui by the month. This is an island in the Gulf of Thailand that has lots of great beaches to enjoy as well as plenty of amenities to make life comfortable such as supermarkets, modern hospitals, international restaurants and so on. I could find basically everything I could want while living on Samui island.

The only drawback with living in paradise is that I noticed the other ex-pats that I sometimes hung out with often had a bad attitude towards the locals. They didn’t learn to speak Thai and they constantly moaned about the Thais not doing this or that correctly. It almost felt like a self-fulfilling prophecy when they were robbed in business or otherwise swindled.

At the same time there is a habit to get too wrapped up in the drinking culture when living on a cheap beach in Thailand. There is also the temptation of illicit substances as well as readily available girls for hire. It struck me that you have to work harder at keeping your integrity and soberity when you are living in paradise.

Perhaps it is true what they say about a bit of suffering building character. I now prefer just going to the beach for two week holidays rather than living there.

Hotel Chat

I once won a free night in a hotel in Japan when I was visiting friends from Missoula who were working out there. We went to karaoke and after we entered a free raffle. My partner and I drew out a lucky number and won a night in a hotel in the mountains. It was a famous holiday place locally, and so we thought what the hell? Let’s give it a try. The hotel was in nice mountain scenery but next to a freeway! The room was dull and like a million other Western style hotel rooms. The TV had 3 channels.

We took a bath and then decided to go for a walk before dinner. We discovered there was no pavement and thus very few walking options considering the busy road.

We fiddled around with the massage chairs upstairs while waiting for dinner. The dining room was full of old dears wearing sleeping kimonos. Everyone had crab and lots of side dishes. They tucked in heartily and soon were done. No sitting around drinking. The bar closed at 10pm. I was so bored. I’m never going to stay in a hotel like that again.

In contrast, we stayed in Bangkok on the way to Europe to visit some other friends. We got a last minute deal on a hotel in Siam called Siam@Siam Design. From the stiff formality of the Japanese into a hotel as cool as ice. It had a hard edge minimalist design and a Thai atmosphere. The bar crowd was a mix of Westerners and young monied Bangkok Thais. While being very modern, it was also very revealing about Thailand.

Bangkok is one of the most cosmopolitan cities I’ve been to. Around our hotel were shopping malls, Starbucks, banks and galleries. A few stops up the river were the amazing Grand Palace and reclining Buddha statue.

The difference in hotel experiences is marked. I would rather pay $60 to stay in a chic hotel in one of the best cities in the world than get a free night in a hotel eating free crab.

The Internet: Providing more options to parents

With the internet, people have more access to information at their fingertips. At one click, they can look up certain things to gather more info.

For parents, this is a good thing as it provides them more choices which may not be available locally. Parents naturally want the best for their child. Before, one is limited on what they can buy for their children – be it toys, clothes, learning materials, and other baby stuff. With the birth of the internet, more companies are turning online to sell their goods, thus reaching far more people than ever. With the world as your marketplace, their are virtually unlimited options.

You can buy chicken coops and chicken feed online and have them delivered straight to your home. If there’s a certain make or design which you like, you can order it even though it’s not available locally. This is the beauty of the interweb: lots of options! Just make sure you don’t exceed 6 hens though, otherwise you’ll be breaking the law!

So how does this help parents then, you might ask?

Have you been shopping and felt like there’s something you want that you just can’t find there?

Well, the internet can be just like a HUGE shopping mall. Although you may not be able to see it live or even feel it, the mere fact that you have more choices in terms of color, sizes, make and brand can be liberating enough. Maybe you’re looking for a good ride-on toy for your child to enjoy riding on outdoors. Sure, your local stores may have the Power Wheels but you’re looking for something else. When your search the internet with your specifications, you found a good utility tractor by Peg Perego online. Your realize that it’s great to have this specific riding toy for your child as you can tell him to help out with yard cleaning with this fun toy. With the landscape here in Missoula, Montana, kids riding toys with big wheels can survive the rocky hills and mountains. It can fun for your child as well.