Monday, May 31, 2021

Home Is Where You Make It

 Look what I found inside my roll of paper towels. 

Yes, it's a bit indistinct at first, and for that reason, given the recent incident involving rats in my easy chair, I'll admit that I initially jumped to the conclusion that this must be a mouse--perhaps the progeny of the two who had been living in my chair (maybe they were doing the wild thing in there, who knows?). 

But no, this is not a mouse. It's a frog. 

A frog inside my roll of paper towels on the second shelf above my kitchen sink. 


In the past, my first question would have been 'how'? How could he could have gotten there, lest he had been put there by someone who could reach the second shelf above the sink in my kitchen. But I had learned previous to this time that frogs here are able to climb walls, unlike any I had known of in America, where they hop, and swim, and croak, but do not climb. In fact, when I took this guy back outside and emptied him out of his paper towel roll, the first thing he did was jump onto the wall and begin to climb to the open window, the same, no doubt, through which he had entered in the first place. 

But this doesn't answer the question 'why?'. Why climb the kitchen wall and slide down into the paper towel roll? There are so many more interesting places he could have explored--the sink, the dishes on the drying rack, the water cooler, the cozy duvet on the bed, or, hey, the wall garden in the back with it's row of bamboo. Why the roll of paper towels? How is this preferable to a damp sink or a row of bamboo? What's the plan here? 

Well, this we shall never know. 

Sunday, May 30, 2021


 I believe I've mentioned before that most Indonesians cannot pronounce the word Richard correctly. That's why I use 'Will' in most cases, short for my middle name, William. You see, they cannot form the 'i' sound, as in Rich, or Itch, or Stitch. They insist on saying 'Eee'. Nor can they the 'chard' part, which in American English is more like 'cherd'. 

So, I guy showed up at the house the other day delivering a package for Louis (who still uses my mailing address for convenience). 

"And what is your name?" the delivery person asked before handing over the package. 






"Oh! Reechod. Okay."

Of course, even in the case of Will, which has as well the 'ih' sound, the word comes out as "Wheel" on the Indonesian tongue; still, it's simpler, one syllable, and seems readily understood. 


Not much news in the Sanur Daily this week that is news. Same stuff, really--or variations on a theme. We are told that the vaccination program in Denpasar is set to be completed in July, which is great, but of course leaves out the rest of Bali, and God knows when vaccination will reach those isolated communities. 

At the same time, I myself have not gotten a vaccination yet, and, as far as I know, cannot get one at present--or at least that's what we were told when Louis and the rest of the neighborhood got their vaccinations. Too old. Too unwell. Hmm. If they think I'm unwell now, just wait and see the result if I happen to get COVID. 

On the economic front, research shows that hundreds of Bali hotels are up for sale. Hundreds. That does sound good, right? Bali's hotel industry has reported occupancy rates below 10 percent since the beginning of the pandemic. So hey, vaccinated folks, if you want some peace and quiet, if you want a beach to yourself, come to Bali! 


I read (though not in the Sanur Weekly) that the latest imbecility of Rep. Matt Gaetz is his statement that the Constitution's second amendment guarantees the right not only to bear arms but to use those arms in a rebellion against the government if people are so inclined. Interesting. Wasn't this the argument of the southern states at the outbreak of the Civil War? And shouldn't it be pretty clear that the government decided at that time, and quite bloodily so, that this isn't the case? Ah well. Southerners have always said that the south will rise again. 


And wait ... isn't Matt under investigation for prostitution and molesting a minor? Why is he speaking at all? Why is anyone listening? 

Thursday, May 27, 2021

The Self-Consuming Easy Chair

 Some weeks ago, I was sitting at home in my easy chair when I seemed to hear a chewing sound from somewhere behind me. I thought at first that it was just something in my head. My ears do funny things sometimes, and their acuity for hearing at all is nothing to be bragged about these days. Nonetheless, the sound persisted off and on, and seemed, of all things, to be coming from the chair itself. Impossible, I thought. So I pressed my ear to the back of the chair to be certain, and there it was again, only louder. A chewing noise. Definitely, with no longer a doubt, there was something inside the chair, chewing. 

I puzzled over what this could be and arrived at the conclusion that some sort of large bug must have entered from the bottom of the chair and was now feasting on the stuffings. A beetle, perhaps, or one of these other whatchamacallits that we have here in Bali. I have in fact seen beetle-like creatures about the size of a doorknob in the past. 

So I turned the chair over and aimed a cannister of Baygon mosquito and cockroach killer into the open places where the wooden legs enter the chair. The chewing noise stopped, and the chair remained silent for some days to come. 

Next, however, I began to notice little bits of chair innards on the floor.  You know, this foam rubber sort of stuff. I would sweep them up, and they would reappear the next day, like the crumbs from someone's table. 

I sprayed the chair again. 

The crumbs continued to appear. 

Oh well, I thought, whatever this is cannot live forever on foam rubber crumbs. 

Then two things happened. The first was that when I was just awakening one morning, I had the impression that something had touched my face. I waved a hand at it automatically, as one batting a fly, and had the distinct impression that something then jumped to the end of the bed and thence to the floor. But as I've said, I was just between sleeping an waking. Maybe this was part of a dream. 

The second thing that happened was that when one of the neighborhood dogs came into the house later that day, she seemed immediately set toward hunting something--keenly aware, tail up, nose up, ears up, poking into this corner and that. 

And I thought, Could this be a mouse? Or a rat? Or rather, I thought, Oh my God, could this be a rat? A rat in my chair? The chair where I sit everyday? 

No. I returned to the idea of the large bug, if only for self-comfort. I turned the chair over again. I sprayed. I gave it a few good kicks. 

To be on the safe side, however, I bought a sticky mousetrap. You know, these cardboard things that open like a book and have some sort of superglue on the inside. I placed a little cookie in the middle of the trap, slid it under the easy chair, and then went about my day--inside for part of the day, outside for part--and the trap remained untouched every time I checked. 

I went to bed and slept like the dead, and when I awoke and made breakfast and planted myself in the chair, I did not even remember the trap until the middle of the morning newscast. 

The first thing I saw upon peering under the chair was a long tail snaking over the near edge of the trap. Yes, this was a rat. And not only a rat, but two rats. And I mean rats! Not mice. Each the size of my hand, not including the tail, lying side by side in the imprisoning glue. 

I had been sitting in my easy chair with two rats for weeks on end. No wonder I had never seen a rat, nor had the maid seen a rat, even with thoroughly cleaning two days a week in every corner. They had been cozily huddled within my chair all the while, except at night when they surely must have come out to seek food and, for some reason, jump on my bed. 

Now I have posttraumatic stress disorder. I imagine rats wherever I go. In the chair, in the bedcovers, under the bed, inside the pillows. Every night I put out a trap, but as yet have captured no additional creatures. 

And by the way, where in the world did these rats come from anyway? There are no holes in the walls, no holes in the floors, no open pipes or drains. So how did they get in to begin with? Or have they been in the chair since I moved from Renon a couple years ago? Heaven forbid! Did they just walk in the front door as I was watching TV and creep between my feet? How can it be? 

Every time I sit down now, I wonder if I am sitting on rats. Or  how many rats I'm sitting on. I close the doors, I close the windows, I draw the curtains. And I watch. 

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

That All Shall Be Saved

It is not the way of the compassionate Maker to create rational beings in order to deliver them over mercilessly to unending affliction in punishment for things of which He knew even before they were fashioned, aware how they would turn out when he created them--and whom nonetheless He created.

--St. Isaac of Nineveh, Ascetical Homilies

 ... if Christianity is in any way true, Christians dare not doubt the salvation of all, and that any understanding of what God accomplished in Christ that does not include the assurance of a final apokatastasis in which all things created are redeemed and joined to God is ultimately entirely incoherent and unworthy of rational faith.

--David Bentley Hart, That All Shall Be Saved

Hart, quoted above, and whose book I've lately been rereading, brings what is for me a convincing theology to life, arising from a devotion to the Eastern Orthodox tradition, which differs, sometimes quite sharply, from the Roman Catholic and later Protestant doctrines, retaining an early church, more truly apostolic viewpoint, lost in the west through faulty interpretation of the New Testament Greek and the resultant construction of faulty, ultimately illogical doctrines. And if you want someone who can unravel all the threads of logic without making an impossible knot of things, Hart is the man to go to. The reading here, however, does require rapt concentration. If you let your mind drift for a moment, you will find yourself stranded in the middle of a long paragraph like a man on a desert island with no idea how you got there. As with Hart, the idea of a hell of eternal suffering inflicted by God on any of God's creatures never made sense to me, for it seemed in conflict with the nature of God Himself, which is love. Western theologies, Catholic and Protestant, have struggled long and hard to find various ways around this essential contradiction, none of which, being contradictory, stand very well against logical examination. Yet instead of simply admitting that their ideological constructions don't work, they have searched for loopholes and excuses, tending merely to trivialize and obfuscate. I find in Hart's writings a thorough explanation of my own instinctive feelings and beliefs, an access to the words that I cannot form for myself, and an introduction to a faith tradition that had previously lain outside my experience. 

Monday, May 24, 2021

Mrs. Oddball

 Yet another dog has decided to call my house home whenever it suits. This is actually the mother of Oddball's six puppies, and I don't know her name as yet. This must have been a case of 'opposites attract', for Mrs. Oddball is not odd at all. She's friendly, she likes to be petted, and she's always hungry--not surprising, I suppose, after birthing six puppies and having to feed them all. Whereas Oddball will take no food at all from me, Whatshername takes as much as I can give, then asks for more. And she seems to like most things. Except potatoes and green vegetables. Oddball himself pays her no attention whatsoever, just as if he has no idea who she is. 

Sunday, May 23, 2021


 In the course of my evening walk yesterday, I decided to turn left at the gas station rather than right as usual. This brought me eventually to a little local coffee shop called Epic Coffee, or rather, as they spelled it, epique, lending from the French a certain air of sophistication which could not have been otherwise achieved by the dim and spartan nature of the cafe itself. 

As I walked in, the staff, consisting of three young women, girls really, who had at the moment been engaged in examining their phones, jumped up in a chorus of happy greeting, seeming surprised that anyone, let alone a bule, had entered the store. 

I announced in their language that I would like to order a coffee.  

"Coffee?" one said, seeming stunned somehow, as if she had never heard the word, or at least as if no one ever came in this coffee shop and actually ordered coffee. 

"Yes. What kind do you have?"

"What kind?"

"I mean, you know, what are my choices?" 

Her mouth hung open in a pleasant smile. 

Forthwith, one of her friends came to her rescue by handing me a menu.

My 'Ah!' was followed by giggles. 

"This one," I said," pointing to the top entry. "The latte." 


"Yes, right here, see--the epique latte." 


"I'll sit outside," I said. 

Observing the movement of the girls from this point forward, one might have guessed they were actually tied together by some invisible cord. Everything they did, they did together. They, the three of them, emerged from the cafe to bring me a napkin and an ashtray, retreated back within, and then emerged again after some time with the epic coffee and two less than epic cookies. They smiled together, they bowed together, and then once again retreated together, as if retracted. 

I don't know that I'd call the coffee 'epic', but I can say that it was better than I'd expected it to be. And at only 14.000 rupiah, you can't beat the price.  

Friday, May 21, 2021

This Week's News

 Time again for the latest edition of the Sanur Weekly newspaper. I always enjoy it when this paper comes out, for a couple of reasons: 1) because it is so poorly written, which often leads to unintended humor and 2) because there is always at last one 'odd', or even 'lurid' little news piece. Both of these points make it more interesting that actual news, which I get pretty bored with due to overexposure through the news channels on my TV and through Facebook posts from the various major outlets. 

Interestingly, today's edition of the weekly celebrates its 500th week in print, an accumulation of roughly ten years in business, and also bemoans the "ongoing apocalypse" (by which I believe they mean COVID) which has depressed their advertising and circulation during this comatose period of tourism, given that the paper is written in English and directed toward the tourist population. 

That said, the first article in this edition addresses the recent Mudik travels of the local population, despite the nationwide travel ban that had been in effect from May 6th to May 17th and had been intended to prohibit Mudik travels in the interest of controlling the spread of COVID. Mudik, by the way, is the annual exodus wherein millions travel to their home towns during the Eid-al-Fitr holiday at the end of Ramadan to spend  time with family and friends. "We'll see," the paper notes ominously, the result of this reckless behavior within the next few weeks." As if things aren't bad enough already. I note for instance that the entire Tabanan regency is now a red zone. During this time of prohibited travel which occurred nontheless, travelers were randomly tested for COVID-19 at some 400 checkpoints across the country and fully 61 percent were found to be positive. Good grief. 

The Tabanan regency (mentioned above), by the way, has refused to close any of their local attractions as per the regulations issued by the Indonesian president. So I guess it's sort of like the Texas of Indonesia. 

We read also of a 34 year old Karangasem man who was rescued by authorities after attempting to end his life at Sanur Beach by plunging himself into the sea. "Fortunately," the paper notes, Sanur Beach is not the best location to drown yourself as the depth of the water inside Sanur reef is simply not enough for such an attempt to be successful." (See what I mean about the writing?). I personally am not sure sure about their conclusion here. Yes, the Sanur water front is shallow, depending on what part of Sanur you choose for your suicide attempt, but it is certainly deep enough, if you wade out far enough and if you are sufficiently determined, to drown in. In fact, I once read that one could drown, technically speaking, in a glass of water under the proper (or perhaps improper) circumstances. It seems to me that the whole matter would take depth of willingness rather than depth of water to succeed. I actually considered this scenario a couple of years ago when I was so sick for so long and confined in my room in the company of various confused and fantastical thoughts and delusions. I could wade out into the ocean and just go under, or, barring that (say, if I had insufficient energy), I could simply drown myself in the pool of the Kost-kostan where I was living at the time. But I just couldn't arrive upon a conclusion to the act which seemed satisfactory. I didn't like the thought of what people finding me would have to experience, and I didn't like the thought of being eaten by fish. Vanity supplies a powerful justification for persevering. 

Finally, we have another mention of Karangasem as being the point of origination of dozens of children and some adults found begging in the streets of Gianyar (a district close to Sanur). Thirty-four unattended children have been detained. These children had previously carried out their activities in tourist districts, such as Sanur, but had moved to Gianyar regency due to the general lack of tourists on the island. They had been sent out by their families in Karangasem for the express purpose of collecting money through begging. Karangasem is widely known as among the poorest districts in Bali. 

Wednesday, May 19, 2021


 One often sees on the news these days stories about the downfall of the GOP, or the civil war within the GOP, as if the party were about to completely collapse and disappear from the political scene. Would that this were so, but what I see seems quite the contrary, to the extent anyway that the majority of congressional representatives in the party are quite faithfully (cur-like, if you will) following the attitudes of Republican voters, without whom, of course, there would be no party. From what I see in internet chatter, and in the actions of Republican state legislatures across the country, the "big lie" is alive and well. It is the central doctrine upon which all else depends and from which all else proceeds. What we who imagine dissolution are really thinking of is the party of years gone by, one devoted to certain conservative principles such as fiscal responsibility, small government, family values and so on. It is this identity that has vanished, not the party itself. The party has merely shifted in response to the (questionable) character of its voters. And that, my friends, is sad. Who ever thought we would be missing the good old GOP? 

Sunday, May 16, 2021

The Final Descent

I took a bit of a long trip this morning--long for me anyway--out to the Bali Mall Galeria, which is just at the nearest edge of Kuta. I had not been there in quite a long while, as the last time I went there the trip exhausted me in the extreme and I fell down in the mall. Although I used to make this trip once a week to grocery shop at the large Hypermart in the mall, I decided on that last occasion that my Galeria days were over. 

Feeling rather well this morning, however, and relatively energetic compared to my usual slug-like state, and moreover thirsting for a good book to read, having failed to find the same at stores nearer by, I set forth. Also, I wanted to take my new bike out on the highway where I could get a feel of it at higher speeds. 

And happily, I have no ills to report regarding this trip--no aching back, no rubbery legs, and no fall in the middle of the mall. The only ill, really, is that I could not find an interesting book title, even among so many choices at this particular Gramedia store. Therefore, I bought an interesting book that I had already read some time in the past on iPad, with the difference that the copy I bought today was a paperback edition in Indonesian. This novel, The Final Descent, is the fourth and last in Rick Yancey's Monstromologist series. I had read the first three in Indonesian and the fourth in English, as it had not yet appeared in Indonesian at that time and I couldn't wait. Doing so in this way, however, kind of broke up the tone of the series for me. One gets used to digesting story and character in a certain language and the sudden change seems to inject an element of sudden distance. Who are these English speaking characters? I dunno. It's hard to explain. 

 I have a particular fondness for this series--its inventiveness, its deft juggling of genre, and so I'm looking forward to re-reading The Final Descent, which, if I remember correctly, offered a rather dark, ruminative conclusion to the story. The good news, as always, is that the deteriorated state of my brain precludes me from remembering books I've read or movies I've watched. I am left merely with a vague impression. As a matter of fact, I noticed the appearance of a movie on Netflix called Olympus Has Fallen the other day and realized only halfway through watching it that I was actually re-watching it. This did not spoil the movie for me, however, as I still could not remember what happened in the movie. I just became aware, poked by some little scene or some bit of dialog, that I had seen it before. Oh yeah! I thought. I wonder if I liked it.

Friday, May 14, 2021

Pat Hobby-ness

 Of late, I have been reading, for about the third time, I suppose, F. Scott Fitzgerald's Pat Hobby Stories. Written in the latter depths of his alcoholism when Scott was laboring in the hated job of Hollywood screen writer, these are far from being among his best short story efforts. In fact, they are rather poorly written and sound not at all like the Fitzgerald of The Great Gatsby and Tender is the Night. And that is actually one of the interesting things about these stories--that they don't even sound like him, because essentially he was no longer him. The towering talent that once was had been eaten away by drink and fatigue and malaise. 

Nonetheless, there is in the tired tone and lazy disinterest some unexpected moments of offbeat humor. Pat Hobby is a washed up Hollywood hack, scraping and begging for script collaborations, jealous of rivals, dishonest, unscrupulous, forever in the back of his mind planning his next drink. In one story, where Pat is to supply lines for a minor character, a doctor, he is inspired by a sudden phrase which pops into his mind (to no small extent because things don't just pop into his mind any longer). Boil some water--lots of it! is the phrase. This strikes Pat as being a perfectly wonderful and inventive phrase, something indeed upon which the entire script could somehow hang. All it would need otherwise were a few touches here and there. As the story draws near its end, Pat mistakes a practical joke at a movie producers long lunchroom table for a serious conflict. He rushes to the scene, armed with a metal lunch tray, and crowns the mistaken assailant over the head. A crowd of producers, actors, writers, and extras gathers at the table, a doctor is summoned, and an alarmed cafeteria worker, rushing toward the kitchen, shrieks "Boil some water--lots of it!" 

I got onto Pat Hobby for this third time, as it happens, after having finished a novel by Douglas Stuart called Shuggie Bain. This is a depressing, relentlessly brutal telling of an Irish woman's decent into alcoholism and the suffering she inflicts on loved ones, especially her youngest son, Shuggie, who spends his young years devoted to somehow saving her. Strangely, I disliked this novel rather intensely to about its mid point, but then something kind of jarred loose and I recognized the unseemly, unvarnished truth conveyed in the pages. There is more than alcoholism here. There is poverty, cruelty, ignorance, and at the center the alcoholism that is both caused by and causes the former evils. I could not help, ultimately, but be reminded of my own earlier struggles with alcohol abuse, and perhaps that's why the book had struck me at first as barely readable--not because it actually is (in fact, Stuart is a very able writer indeed), but because my own experience, which I hardly enjoy reliving, made it so. In short, after the mid point, warn down perhaps, I finally began to see it, acknowledge it, remember it. There was a time when reading about alcohol use made me want to drink, strangely enough. It seemed somehow an appropriate medicine for all of lives ills, and one used by so many of the most admirable folks! Fitzgerald, Faulkner, Hemingway, London and so on. Now these stories make me want to read, not to drink.

I recall having written, as some of my last 'literary' products, a series of short stories about drinking. Like the Pat Hobby stories, they were pretty lousy things, things without heart or a pulse, dreary things. I still have those stories (which for some reason came with me to Bali) and have not looked at them or touched them in ten years, nor do I intend to. They are simply moldering away in an old manila envelope stuffed between an old copy of Writers' Market and an equally thick book by Yu Hua. I have thought from time to time how I might get rid of the damn things. Fire would be best, but I don't really have a place for burning things at present. To throw them in the garbage would risk the possible embarrassment of being viewed by other eyes, though the chance of this being happened upon by someone who can read English is rather slight, I suppose. Moreover, they would make the garbage more garbagy than it need be. I guess the point at the time was catharsis, a needful self-examination of the vacuity, the waste that I had allowed to overtake me. The problem is that even at the time, alcohol remained the answer for this.

In a similar way, Fitzgerald is saying nothing perspicacious or liberating in the Pat Hobby stories about his own alcoholism. He is merely getting these things, down, getting them done, collecting a bit of money so that he can return to the bottle. They are stories about failure, weakness, pettiness. desperation, and venture no answer or redemption. 

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Reopenings and Resurgences

 Although the prognosticated month for Bali's reopening for foreign tourists is July, it appears that two new SARS-CoV-2 virus variants on the island may possibly throw a monkey wrench into the plans. Moreover, the "plans", at best, are only in the minds of Balinese government, as there has been no confirmation for any such reopening plans from the Indonesian central government in Jakarta, and the Indonesian President, Joko Widodo, has stated only that it (the reopening) "might be possible if the COVID-19 situation on the island is under control"--a pretty damn big if.

I really don't know what these poor folks here are going to do. There are many more beggars on the street now, little children carrying empty convenience store cups at the traffic lights in hopes of collecting coins and small bills, older women on the beach selling worthless tourist trinkets on an island where there are no tourists. The tourist industry jobs are gone, small warungs continue to close their doors. The woman who owns the warung just up the street has asked me for a substantial amount of money twice now. I was able to give it to her the first time but not the second, as I am also low on money, having just paid the yearly immigration fee. 

At the same time, a second warung has opened on my street. The food, as I have found, is quite good. I had a wonderful baked gurami fish with rice. But how long can they stay open? Who will come. Certainly the owners must be hoping and praying for that July opening to come through. 

I read in the Sanur Weekly today that a 60 year old Italian man was arrested in Legian (part of Kuta) for being homeless and begging, which he has been doing, sadly, since shortly after the COVID pandemic struck last year, apparently living on the streets. He is now being processed for deportation.

In other news, a 46 year old Indonesian man has received what the newspaper calls "a proper beating" from Bali residents after he was caught stealing money from an offering box at a local temple (a pretty low thing to do indeed). The man is now being treated at a local hospital for, as the paper describes it, "several bruises and a broken leg". Apparently the temple box thefts had been going on since sometime in 2020 and the man had succeeded in collecting some 150 million Rupiah, or about 10,000 US dollars, which he used to buy land. The moral of this story is don't steal money in Bali. And for the most part, people don't.                                                    

Lastly, rabies has returned to the island of Bali, most especially just now in the Klungkung regency, which is now labeled a 'red zone'. Like we need another epidemic, right? When I first came to Bali, some ten years ago, the island was in the midst of a major rabies outbreak affecting nearly all parts of the island. Extreme measures had to be taken, in the form of culling, for the most part. Loose dogs were killed on a 'better safe than sorry' basis. More than 130 people died during this outbreak and more than 130,000 were given post-exposure treatment.

Sunday, May 9, 2021


I'm having another of those days today where I just cannot seem to stay awake. I sit awhile, watching TV or whatever, and my eyes become heavy, fatigue washes over me from shoulders to toes. I lie down and sleep, again, following eight hours of sleep the night before. I sleep for perhaps a half hour, get up again, think about going out somewhere, but straightaway wander back to the bed and fall asleep again. My shoulders ache, my neck aches, and my right side aches. It's not an unbearable pain, but it is constant, tiring. I really should go see a doctor, but the very thought is more tiring yet. I don't know what to tell him, I don't know how to explain this, and I doubt that there is any help for it anyway. 

So I've finally dragged myself out for a coffee, 3 o'clock in the afternoon. My fingers drag their way through typing this (hard to believe that I once made a living through their speed and sureness). Earlier in the day I actually had gone out, but discovered upon arrival at my destination that I had forgotten my laptop on the front patio chair and had no locked the gate nor even closed it, and so this necessitated an immediate return to the house, and upon returning, I fell asleep. 

The last time around, between sleep and consciousness, I was thinking that someone must surely write a dystopian novel about our dysfunctional times--perhaps they are writing it at this very moment. Someone will figure out the logical end to the vague and imbecilic collapse which must come of the country as we have known it--something along the lines of 1984 or Brave New World, you know? It won't be a pretty picture. 

Before I left home, I look my temperature because I felt like I was burning up. Not an unusual occurrence. Rather, a daily occurrence. This, the doc once said, is related to auto-immune disorder. There is no fever. It is a trick of damaged nerves. But the knowledge doesn't stop the burning heat. 

Tyger Tyger, burning bright, 

In the forests of the night;

What immortal hand or eye,

Could frame they fearful symmetry?

Saturday, May 8, 2021


 The annual Muslim return to the family home, called Mudik, has been cancelled this year in Indonesia, as it was last year, due to COVID. The last thing the government wants is for people to be travelling back and forth from one area to another, and through all the areas in between, exposing themselves or others throughout the journey. As I have noted, Indonesia has a long, slow road ahead to nationwide vaccination.

There are those who have gotten around this travel ban simply by beginning the journey early, before the official start date, and there are those for whom the restriction is no big deal, but for most, the ban is a keen disappointment. Mudik ends the long month of Ramadan fasting. It is a time for celebrating, feasting, reuniting with family. Nonetheless, as things are, such celebrations can only end in a steep rise in illness and death.

Here in Indonesia, people will need to carry on masking and social distancing restrictions far beyond what has been necessary in America--so stop complaining folks. For you the end is in easy sight. For us it remains distant. 

Thursday, May 6, 2021

Outlook Not So Good

 I will admit up front that, as with many, I had high hopes for my country when Biden was elected as president, and then even more so after the January 6th Trump-led insurrection at the capital. It is appearing, however, that my hopes were misplaced. Today, senate minority leader Mitch McConnell stated that his goal, 100 percent, is to oppose anything and everything proposed by the new president, promising a dysfunctional government into the foreseeable future. This certainly cannot be what the founders intended--that is, a devotion to getting nothing done for the American people. What we are seeing instead, as I now believe, or at least greatly fear, is a short road to dissolution and civil war. Rather than shaking themselves awake and rededicating themselves to the nation after the insurrection, the Republicans have fully invested in denial, fully invested in 'the big lie' that the election was somehow unfair and therefore invalid, despite the fact that there is no evidence whatsoever of election fraud or irregularities. They are a party wholly devoted to division, conflict, and inaction as far as the common people are concerned. It is all rather perfectly discouraging. One can only look forward now to the congressional election of 2022 and hope that the House and the Senate will end up packed with a wealth of democrats, for otherwise the country will be paralyzed at best, or collapse altogether. At a time when so many things so desperately need to change, we find our government enmeshed in endless dithering and bickering, enmeshed in endless, crippling power games, worthless to ourselves and worthless to the world at large. 

Sunday, May 2, 2021


 Yet again, a dog has decided that he lives with me. Weird. Everywhere I go, some dog eventually moves in. 

In this case, the dog is Brownie, who in fact lives just down the street but does not seem to find this arrangement agreeable. Brownie, as a name, seems all too obvious. I mean, he is brown, but the name doesn't seem to fit who he is. I call him Oddball. I swear, the dog is autistic or something. He rarely meets my eyes, often stares into space, or eagerly tracks the movement of something that seems not even to exist, and tends to seek out somewhat odd sleeping arrangements, such as on the bathroom floor or under a chair. He does not want to be touched or petted or really approached at all. He does not respond to words, and certainly has no idea what his name is. He will not take food from my hand, preferring that it be thrown in his direction, and when it does land near him, he carefully examines the item, a bit of chicken for instance, sniffs it thoroughly, and then very gingerly takes it in his teeth as if it might suddenly explode like a trick cigar or something. If I happen to see Brownie, or rather Oddball, out on the street, he pays me no attention whatsoever, gives no sign of recognition, but simply walks on by. And he is, as far as I have seen, like this with everyone. 

Oddball is a new father, and the gossip around the neighborhood is that his wife is galak, which means grumpy, fierce, troublesome. So perhaps that has something to do with why he keeps showing up in my quiet little house. 

Saturday, May 1, 2021

Fly-By-Night Neighbors

 My temporary neighbors, Louis is Wayne, have now left the house next door to mine and moved down to Sawangan, and did so rather suddenly. I mean, I knew they would move as soon as their new place was ready, but I kinda thought they mention it to me when they actually left. As it happened, I was surprised to wake one morning and find they had gone. Talk about fly-by-night, right? 

So it actually feels kind of lonely now, not having any commotion next door, or visitors to my place--or, indeed, smoothies delivered to my door in the morning. But oh well, I'll get used to it. 

The news is that Louis' brother will move into the place for a short time, and that (I think) my old bike will be sold to him--which is fine, as it will be good to have more room in the driveway. 

It may be that Louis and Wayne will will return to this neighborhood within a couple years, as their current plan is to build a large house just up the street from mine. But we'll see. Always lots of plans, lots of ideas. 

In other news, two more foreigners have recently been deported from Bali, again for refusing to observe the masking rules and for being stupid enough to proudly post their transgression on Instagram. These two women were from Singapore, if I remember rightly, and entered a supermarket without masks. They were expelled from the market, only to return with the 'cute' idea of painting a mask on one girl's face. She apparently succeeded in slipping past less-than-observant employees of the market, but then, as mentioned, posted the event and attracted the attention of the authorities. Bye-bye. 

The point is, this is not a joke. Indonesia is suffering the most serious consequences of COVID in all of Southeast Asia, and people are dying. Masks are required by law, not optional. How very inconsiderate of these tourists, therefore, to treat it all as a joke.