Thursday, July 24, 2014

Creepy Books and Things

It's not that there's nothing to say. It's just that I'm lazy. But anyway ....

Just finished reading Doctor Sleep, by Stephen King. Quite a good book. I'd been hoping for years that he would one day write a sequel to The Shining, and, finally, he did. And did so very well. It's not quite as scary as The Shining, but maybe that's a good thing. I remember The Shining giving me nightmares, way back when. This one I read in English, which was also a bit of a treat. When you read in a foreign language (like Indonesian), there is an unfortunate barrier between the reader and the book. You cannot simply ride the current, but must continually apply another part of your mind to translation. So, you end up distanced from the story, overly aware of the words and sentences. It was also a treat because books in English here tend to be ridiculously expensive, whereas books in Indonesian are cheap. I got the book at PeriPlus, and the price was not actually that bad, as these things go. Rp. 100.000. Nonetheless, a book in Indonesian will cost half this amount (while most books in English will cost 2-4 times this amount).

So, it's off to Gramedia in another hour or so to look for a new book, in Indonesian. I most recently read the Divergent Trilogy, which was enjoyable and fairly easy to read (being geared to young audiences).

I forgot to mention the snake on our kitchen sink the other day. Creepy, like a Stephen King book. It was about 3 feet long, I reckon, and gray. It seems to have come from a hole in the wall, into which it returned after we poked it a few times. I stopped up the hole, but who knows? I suppose they can slither through lots of fissures. In any case, that was perhaps a week ago, and we've not seen it since.

Friday, July 11, 2014


Republic of Indonesia denounces Israel's attacks on Gaza, the Jakarta Post headline says. So, I look further to see the whole story. But guess what? I don't get the full story. There is no condemnation, for instance, of the rocket attacks on Israel, launched before these most recent Israel counterattacks. There is no condemnation of Hamas for the murder of three Israeli teens; although, to be sure, there is the condemnation of Israel for the revenge murder of a Palestinian teen. There is a call on Israel to stop these air assaults, though no call for Hamas to stop firing rockets into Israel. Something's wrong with this picture. I'm sorry, but I'm confused.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Two Bits (of flesh) for a Haircut

I just cut my ear while shaving. Well, not my ear, but behind my ear, whatever that spot is called (behind the ear, perhaps?). That's what  happens when you have to shave your entire head and get into a rush. I mean, I don't have to shave my entire head, but I've done so for the past 7 years or so, since there's very little hair that actually grows, and what does grow is grey. But in any case, these razor cuts hurt. Sure wish I had an electric shaver. But they don't seem to have them here in Bali. Isn't that odd?

When I went to the Circle K store the other day to buy a pack of cigarettes, the girl at the counter reached for a pack, noticed that it was one of the new packs bearing a gross picture or a cancerous something or other, and then quickly reached for a pack that did not have a picture. I thought that was so sweet of her. Not that I really mind the pictures. But it just seemed such a simple, automatic regard for another person.

"Nggak suka gambar yang jelek itu ya?" I asked. (You don't like the gross picture).

"Ya Pak, nggak suka."

People here are often very polite and caring in this way. Until you put them on a motorcycle.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

More of the Cataract Saga

The cataract saga continues.

Let's rewind for a moment.

Perhaps a year ago, I went to an ophthalmologist at Kasih Ibu Hospital and was told that I had cataracts and was in need of an operation. Only then could my sight be corrected with glasses.

But there was a fly in the ointment. Kasih Ibu did not perform cataract operations and I would have to go to a different hospital. This meant that our insurance would only pay in the form of a reimbursement. We would have to pay up front. Trouble is, we didn't have the money to pay up front.

So we waited, and explored other options. Another such option did arise a few weeks ago. We discovered that we could go to a doctor at an independent clinic -- an eye expert, we were told -- who could then do the operation at any hospital covered by the insurance.

So it looked like I was close to getting cataract surgery.

But ... uh ... there was a fly in the ointment. This doctor did not find operable cataracts.

Hmm. But then -- why can't I see?

Ah, that's the question.

I'm inclined to believe this doctor. After all, he certainly has nothing to gain by telling me I don't need the operation, and he could have collected money by telling me that I did.

So where to now? Well, it's back to the optometrist to just get fitted for glasses as best as they can make them. Not normal vision, to say the least. In fact, not good vision at all. But better than no glasses at all. They will be good, at least, for reading, and also for driving at night, at which time I am practically blind.

What's wrong with my eyes? Well, they don't know. It's cataracts, the one doctor says, but apparently it isn't. It isn't cataracts, the other doctor says, but cannot say, then, what it is.

Perhaps it's MS. Very probably, I reckon.

I feel fairly certain that an American doctor could sort it out. But, I'm not in America, am I.

Monday, June 30, 2014


Internet at home kaput today, so I'm trying to get some work done at Starbucks in Sanur, but internet here is fairly kaput, too. Damn! Two-and-a-half million for this internet at home, and it doesn't even work.

So, what next? We called the people and they said they will come to the house. But when? That's the question. In Indonesia, this may mean today, tomorrow, or next week. And in the meantime ....

In the meantime, I'm just sitting here watching the internet cogitate forever about sending or receiving material while I watch people come in and out of Starbucks. Some Americans just came through. Rare event. Most tourists in Bali are Australians, Europeans, Japanese and people from the other Indonesian islands.

Saturday, June 28, 2014


I hate to keep writing about being sick, but, hey, what else is there to think about when you're sick. The good news is that the sore throat and fever have finally gone away. The bad news is that this whole episode seems to have MS to kick in with a bit of relapse. The continued ringing in my ears, as the doc here said, is a neurologic problem, and so likely due to MS. Now, there is also pain from my feet to my ass resulting in a stiffness in gait, and there is also an overwhelming sense of fatigue. So I guess I just have to grin and bear it and wait to see how much of this my system will repair over time. Right now, I'm only good for about half a day, after which I feel totally wasted.

So, I get things done in the morning. This morning, for instance, I went down to Sanur for some decent brown bread, and then stopped by for coffee at a new restaurant. The waitress there was very nice and talked with me while I drank my coffee. There was no one else in the restaurant -- which is common, because there are way too many restaurants and far too few people in Sanur. In any case, I learned an interesting thing. I was already aware that most people in Bali have one of four possible names - Wayan, Ketut, Made or Nyoman. What I did not know is that Putu, Kadek and two other names (I've already forgotten) are the same as the first four. That is, Wayan and Putu are the same name. They both mean "First born" and are given to both males and females. Ketut is second, Made third and Nyoman fourth. However, you see, if the father's name is Wayan, his first born must be called Putu, which also means first. Made and Kadek are the same.

The Balinese also have two birthdays per year, but they don't celebrate them in any big way. This is not considered important. I wouldn't celebrate birthdays either if it meant I was getting old twice as fast as other people.

Thursday, June 26, 2014


Well, I spoke too soon in my last entry. Although the throat infection and fever went away with the antibiotics, the ringing in my ears continued, day and night, so back to the doctor again. There, I learned that the infection in my ears, and the inflammation, had gone, and what was left (the ringing) is a neurologic problem. In other words, MS. Got some pills for this, but they have helped only slightly, so far. Will finish the course and then, if the ringing persists, will try to find a neurologist here. One who has actually heard of MS, hopefully.