Monday, April 21, 2014

Faulty Connection

Here's kind of a good example of the brain malfunctions associated with MS. It's a bit of a complex tale, so bear with me.

Some time back, my wife's friend had given her a copy of the movie series, Revenge, season 1. There were supposed to be 5 disks, but there were only 4. After watching number 4, we went to the video store to find number 5. Turns out we had to buy the entire 5 disk set in order to see number 5. Okay. The woman in the store said we could buy the 5 disk set and then bring in our 4 disk set and return it and get another 4 disks (of anything) for free.

Well, the day of this transaction arrived. We drove down to the video store, but then I realized, while still sitting outside in the car, that I had brought the set with 5 disks rather than the set with 4. Oh no! I've brought the wrong set. We'll have to do this another time when I can bring the original set that lacks disk 5.

My wife is sitting there listening to me, and then just kind of staring me, as if I'd gone crazy. I can see that she's actually starting to get angry.

"What are you talking about!"

I explain the situation again.

She stares. Then grabs the package from me, takes out disk five, and hands the package, now containing 4 disks, back.


Wednesday, April 2, 2014

On the Road Again

Just read an article in the Jakarta Post this morning about the ideological gobbledygook behind the 'apocalyptic war' in Syria. Seems it all has to do with a great final battle between the Sunnis and the Shiites over the progression of prophets and the true faith. at the end of which the world will end. Well, I guess that's the Reader's Digest version. It's too tedious to go into detail. Not sure how accurate this can be. It's not really much of a war, is it, as far as great wars go? And I would have to wonder about putting much stock in a prophecy that comes from a man who couldn't even get the story of Abraham, Isaac and Ishmael right. I mean, really. Take a closer look, fellas. Think again.

So, anyway, I'm just chillin' at Starbucks in Sanur, glad to be out of the house again after the forced imprisonment of Nyepi.

Read another interesting thing, too. Apparently there's a Balinese festival here around the same time as Nyepi that I had not previously heard of. This is a kissing festival. Crowds of people get together and kiss one another. This is thought to bring good luck. I don't know if you can kiss just anyone, or if it has to be someone who is already close. Likely, the latter. Actually, I'm surprised that the Muslims don't have a fit about this,  as they do with Valentines Day. But then, I reckon that the source is of considerable importance.

Monday, March 31, 2014


Another Nyepi Day in Bali - my fifth, by my reckoning. The day of silence and reflection. Not my favorite, at all, although it seems that I'm getting used to it by the progressive year. On this day you can have no lights on, you cannot go outside the house, and you are to be as quiet as possible. We buy candles, pull the curtains and watch DVDs. And, of course, write in our blogs. Of course, there's nothing to keep me from working, since I work at home anyway - although, technically, you're not supposed to use electricity at all. But who knew, right? So, I got some work done, and some emails sent, and some DVDs watched.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Getting a License

Finally, this morning, I got my driver's license renewed. This is easier said than done, here in Bali. Especially for a foreigner. Firstly, you must know someone, either an agent or someone in the police department. In the past, I have taken the former course, as the cost was included as a sort of 'courtesy' for using that agent for the Kitas (foreign visa) process. This year, however, my agent decided her fee would be $500,000 Rupiah instead of the usual $350,000.  In general, one might expect to receive increasingly better treatment after 3 years when the same agent, but such was not the case here.

So, my wife said 'Forget that, I can get it for $350,000. I know a guy."

Well, turns out she actually knows a guy who knows a guy - which is a very popular sort of arrangement here in Indonesia. Everyone knows a guy (who knows a guy).

Last Saturday, therefore, I drove to her office in Denpasar to meet up with Sugung, a driver, who was said to know a guy in the police department. However, when we got to the police department, we found it closed. He called his guy, who happened to be having breakfast nearby at the time, and we were told -- yes, you guess it -- that the place was closed. Come next Saturday, the guy said.

"But," as I pointed out, "my license is expired now. What if I get stopped in the meantime?"

"Oh, no problem," the guy said.

No problem for him, sure. But I would remain, for the next week, a juicy possibility for the random, lucky police officer.

Meet me next Saturday, "Sungung instructed. We try again."

Friday night comes around and I find that Sugung cannot go to the police station tomorrow. It's a holiday. So sorry.

So my wife, on Saturday morning, contacts Sarsen Oka at the department and tells me to meet her at the office. It is not, as it now appears, a holiday. By the time I get to the office, I find that she has moved even  higher up the line, through a friend at work, who -- yes, you guessed it -- knows a guy.

Off we go. The goal, if you've forgotten, has been to get a driver's license. A little card with my picture on it. A $350,000 Rupiah little card with my picture on it. (As a note of interest, these licenses cost $25,000 for Indonesians).

The young man whom we meet at the station turns out to be so important, indeed, that he does not even have to wear a uniform. He's wearing batik, comes to us immediately, has me sign a sheet of paper, and ushers me, forthwith, into the office where my picture and fingerprints will be taken.

And it's done. And it only took a week.

Carlos. Remember that name. For, next year, the whole thing comes around again.

Thursday, March 27, 2014


Two things in today's Jakarta Post that newspaper that make me want to beat someone with the same. The first is the banning of the movie, Noah (along with the likely banning of Son of God). I'm not saying that these are good movies. I haven't seen them. But it's just the very idea. What kind of country bans movies in the 21st century? Well, an ignorant one, I guess, which is, by its own actions, bound to remain ignorant. In fact, Noah has been banned by all Muslim countries. It goes against the teachings of Islam, they say; although they cannot say exactly why or in what way. But, of course, that's not really the point. I feel fairly certain that it goes against the teachings of Christianity and Judaism, too. It's Hollywood, right? What do you expect? Do these religious police fear that someone will see the movie, embrace the Hollywood version,  and straightaway leave the mosque for the new truth they have discovered? Or is it that they do not know the Koran in the first place and will therefore fall victim to falsehoods, mistaking them for Islam (if that's possible). Purely ridiculous, of course. What kind of country states,  up front, "We are, and intend ever to be, an ignorant people, unable to think or judge for ourselves."

More disturbing yet is the list of movies previously (and still) banned in Indonesia, for it includes Schindler's List, a perfectly factual tale of the holocaust, the plight of the Jews, the death of 6 million, and one man's attempt to save just a few. What about this is at odds with Islam? What about this can be harmful to Muslim viewers? Is it not factual? It never happened? Well, of course, the answer is pure and simple. The problem is anti-Semitism, the pointless, baseless, unreasoning, evil hatred of another people. What a shame it is. What an insult. What an ugly smear on the face of a religion (Islam) and the honor of Muslims in general.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Honk if You've Never Seen a Bule

Took a walk around the neighborhood today and met a few more friendly types. Apparently, people out here are in the habit of honking when they see a bule. Makes me feel kind of a like a beautiful woman. But it's a bit unnerving. I keep thinking I'm in the way, somehow; but no, I'm just there. But that's not what I mean by friendly. That's just a bit weird. I did, however, meet a couple of folks at various markets who actually smiled and talked to me, which was nice. One supported my suspicion that there must be a reclaimed drinking water warung around here somewhere - although she couldn't say exactly where; while another chatted for a minute about where I was from and what I was doing and so on. Oh, and I found Pall Mall Menthols. Just when I thought the entire island was empty of the things - as happened with Marlboro Menthols. So I bought two packs and made her promise to order more. Not that she'll do so. Also found a car wash place, a motorbike wash place, and a number of food warungs that looked halfway decent, and smelled so, too. There is an IndoMart, a Circle K and a gas station. There is a tool shop, a helmet shop, and any number of laundries. Tomorrow I will stroll in the opposite direction, accompanied, no doubt, by a fanfare of horns.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014


Finally beginning to seem like home in the new house. Felt impossible for the first couple days. Actually scary. So much stuff, and so little room. But we've managed to pretty much  push it into place, in part by buying another big piece of furniture, oddly enough.

So, just have to get used to the new neighborhood now. Always confusing - especially so here in Bali. Streets don't seem to have been made according to any plan. Rather, probably a house was built, a street was laid down leading to the house, another house was built, a street was laid down leading there, and so on. It's a maze.

Need to get accustomed to the people here, too. They do seem different than in Sanur and other familiar haunts. There, many of them are involved in the hospitality industry and so they're -- well, hospitable. Not quite so friendly out this way. I get a lot of stares, because they don't see very many bules, and if I try to talk to them, they seem to panic.

So, new things to learn, new places to explore. Keeps life interesting.