Tuesday, May 26, 2020


Funny to see people back home in America making a partisan issue of masks, especially given that here in southeast Asia masks have always been fairly commonly in use. They are worn to protect from harmful elements in their air, especially when driving a motorbike (which is the most common form of transport here). People tend to wear them when they get sick with a cold or flu in order to avoid transmitting the illness to others. It is 'the thing to do' in a polite society. Most people don't need to go out and buy the mask especially for covid. They already have the mask. It is certainly not considered a great imposition to have to wear a mask, for they are in the first place for one's own protection and for the protection of others.

Do Americans simply have nothing better to do than to assign political meaning to something as mundane as a mask? I happened to see a photo on Facebook showing a man, a woman, and a child together holding a sign that said "TAKE YOUR MASK OFF BECAUSE GOD'S GOT YOU COVERED!" Really? How about taking your seatbelt off too, then? And your bike helmet. And get rid of your child's car seat. And don't bother stopping for traffic lights. Throw away that sunblock. And so on, ad infinitum.

Well, consider Luke 4:9-12:

The devil led him to Jerusalem and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. "If you are the Son of God," he said, "throw yourself down from here. For it is written:

     "He will command his angels concerning you to guard you carefully. They will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone."

Jesus answered, "It is said, 'Do not put the Lord your God to the test.'"

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Cock Fight

Yesterday evening the usual silence of my apartment complex was shattered by a sudden squawking, shrieking commotion. Lights went on, flashlights peered through the darkness, and it was discovered that the dog was confronting a rooster who had entered the grounds. It was one of those roosters that people around here raise for cock fights (sadly enough), and although the dog wanted very definitely to convey the idea that the bird should not be on the grounds, he was having nothing of an actual fight with the thing. Bark and swiftly retreat was his preferred tactic. Not so with the rooster, who continued to throw out his chest, squawk maniacally, and fly at the dog. Nor did the people here want anything to do with this fellow, preferring to retreat to their doorways, holding flashlights before them like light sabers. Holy cow, they said. What the ….

Well, at last someone from up the street came to "collect" the rooster, as, no kidding, it could be heard all over the neighborhood, and return him to his cage. And the dog heaved a sigh and returned to his mat outside my door. I myself don't believe in cock fights. I find them unkind, barbaric. Nonetheless, I'm betting on this critter next time they have one.


Friday, May 22, 2020


I read a report this morning stating that Indonesia will reopen for business as usual in early June, having determined that the best route is to adopt the herd immunity philosophy for dealing with Covid.

They may be right. The fact is that this still developing country possesses nothing like the wherewithal to address the virus as many of the more wealthy, organized, developed countries have done. There is no such a thing as sending relief checks to people, no such a thing for most folks as working from home, no such a thing as an able, smoothly running healthcare system, no such a thing as widespread public cooperation. There is no choice, really, other than the que sera sera philosophy. Whatever will be will be.

So here we go, as it would appear. Wish us luck.

Monday, May 18, 2020

News from Surabaya

I think I mentioned previously that I have a friend, or an acquaintance rather, in Surabaya, Java, who is an ER doctor--and quite a smart cookie too, fluent in four languages, and only 24 years old. My goodness. Sort of the female equivalent of Doogie Howser, I guess. (Anyone remember Doogie?).

But anyway, I had asked her recently for her opinion on why America is so much worse off with the Covid virus than Indonesia. In a delayed response received today, the doctor said she didn't reckon it is worse off.


That means there are 10s of 1000s of cases not being reported here, if her estimation is correct.

Why am I surprised? I don't know. It's not like Indonesia is well known for its fine administrative order and proficiency. I mean, just considering the circus we have to go through every year in immigration just for the renewal of a permit for someone who has already been here nine years, one has to be decidedly less than impressed. So who knows what the real count is? Or do they really even want to know?  

Well, well. At the same time, Indonesia is experiencing the same sort of economic collapse as America, only worse, because internet computer and office technology is just in its infancy here--which means that most folks can't just 'work from home'. Nor is the government about to send money to folks who are out of work. So you can well imagine that if they are not dying of Covid, they are dying of starvation. Still, the country is not opening up as quickly as America has done. Is that because of a wise approach to the future, or is it because they know the virus is hopelessly out of control?

Well … stay tuned, I guess.

Saturday, May 16, 2020


I got a message from my stepson, Sasha, yesterday, wherein he wrote "Hi, Dad. I just want to make sure you know that I love you."  And then he added, "Just remembered a time when I got mad at you at the swimming pool in Portland. I'm sorry."

Well, I have no recollection of 'the time he got mad at me in Portland'. Lol. Likely it made little impression on me at the time. Part of being a dad. Sometimes kids get mad. I know, because I have been through five of them.

But I certainly appreciated his dropping a line just to say I love you. He has always been fairly good about that, even though he is, like all young folks, busy with his own activities and relationships. We old folks have done our job, but it's nice not to be totally forgotten.

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Brain Fart

Yet another brain fart.

I was at the project site for the new apartment yesterday and chatting a bit with my American neighbor to be. He happened to ask out of the blue whether I had been in 'the Nam', meaning of course the Vietnam War.

"No," I said. "At the time I was of age, the lottery was in effect, I had a high number, and I also had a college deferment."


"How about you?"


"Were you in the war?"

I guess I would describe the man's face at this point as showing a mix of astonishment and disbelief.

"Umm … no. I'm not that old."

Oh. Goodness. Of course he's not. Clearly. How stupid of me. He would have to have been no more than three years old at the time!

Lol. Everyday life with my brain.  

Wednesday, May 13, 2020


Oh my God, I wrote last night to my ex-wife, I almost lost my phone! Again. Unbelievable. What's wrong with me?

MS was her reply.

Well, there you have it.

About this time last year, I lost my i-Phone. I was at the hospital at that time for a doctor appointment and apparently I just put the phone down somewhere. I have no recollection of whether I had left it on a chair, or with my bike, or somewhere in between. Nor did I ever recover that phone.

Ever since then, I have tried to be rather conscious of the phone's whereabouts, because not only are these things very expensive, but they are our connection to much of the world, an essential tool in our everyday lives. If one loses his phone, how, for instance, does he even alert anybody to the fact that he has lost his phone? The contacts are in the phone. The numbers are in the phone (certainly not in my brain). We are connected to the world through our phones. Yes, I can still tell Louis that I lost my phone via her email (using my laptop), but she, like many people, rarely even looks at e-mail anymore.

Well, last night I had decided to drive down to Sanur for a coffee. Strangely, I had a nagging feeling when I set out that this was somehow a bad idea. I usually don't go out at night anymore, but I guess I was just unusually bored last night.

I sat on the bench outside Starbucks for a little while with my coffee and my phone and my cigarettes (takeaway coffee of course, as lockdown is still in effect here), and then headed on home. It was only upon reaching my own front porch that I discovered the phone was not with me.

Instant panic.

Do you know how it feels? Like My God, I've somehow lost my right arm on the way home!

Give me back my golden arm.

How was this possible? Where in the world could it be? I checked the bike compartments about twenty times. I checked my pockets twenty times. No phone. And I became fairly certain that I must have put the phone in my back pocket (which I sometimes unwisely do) and it had surely fallen out on the road somewhere.

I knew it was not at Starbucks, but I raced back down to Sanur anyway. I could think of nothing else but two things: 1) That I was suddenly cut off from all vital connections and communications and 2) That my ex-wife was going to scream at me. (A non-Indonesian cannot buy a phone in Indonesia, by the way. He must have an Indonesian citizen buy it for him).

I knew, as I've said, that the phone was not at Starbucks ... and was therefore utterly shocked to find it sitting on the bench at Starbucks.

How is this possible?

Which leads me back to my original question. What's wrong with me?

But perhaps the more meaningful question is not 'What's wrong with me?' but 'How can I get around what's wrong with me?' Concentration, awareness, does not seem to be working. Shall I chain the phone to myself? I believe they sell chains that hook onto one's belt loop, right? Maybe that's the answer.

Then again … what if one forgets to put his pants on?