Author Archives: d

July

August arrived so fast I almost forgot to post something. I volunteered full-time at a children’s shelter all throughout July with the exception of 5 days I spent in Thailand. I went back to get my skateboard, slackline, and some other things I wanted for my summer stay here in Penang. After looking at these photos I took while I was in Thailand you’ll see why I really don’t like leaving there to come here. The plan of coming back and only going in to volunteer for a couple hours a day completely failed however I feel that all the time spent volunteering last month was time well spent because the directors and I have been making a lot of improvements in the way the home is run and the way the kids are fed and raised. Moreover these improvements will go on to not only benefit these 30 or so kids but also any new ones that end up living and being cared for here.

I’ve been continuing my push to get them to eat better, sleep enough, and exercise more. We’ve been doing some basic gymnastics, playing badminton, and going hiking on the weekends however last week we couldn’t go because me and a few kids had to put together a last minute dance performance. There were 6 of them, all girls around 12 years old, and we had less than 24 hours before showtime to come up with something. I needed a quiet place to practice where we wouldn’t be disturbed and they wouldn’t be distracted by other kids and the big empty house that was once a preschool that I’m renting a room in was perfect so what was probably meant to be a living room served as our dance studio last Friday night and Saturday morning. We managed to get it done, barely, and do a show Saturday afternoon and afterwards I took them for some durian.

Besides the durian there are a few other seasonal fruits now available and yesterday I climbed up an ant infested rambutan tree to get some hard to reach rambutan. Unfortunately the ants inhabiting this tree were as brutal as any. It’s been over 24 hours and I’m still itching, burning, and pink in those areas. I’ve climbed plenty of fruit trees and I’ve been bitten by plenty of ants but never like this, these things definitely had some powerful ant venom they were injecting in me via their bites. While I was up there I felt them going to work on my right side but I just blocked it out and focused on the job of getting rambutans to fall on the kids below. I thought the pain would stop when I got down and brushed off all the ants which is usually the case but I was wrong. Next time I’ll stick to using a pole and a ladder and any rambutans I can’t reach will be left to whatever creature wants to face the ants to get them.

 

June

For the last two weeks I’ve been volunteering at a children’s shelter full-time and between that and some unexpected but welcomed work I haven’t had much if any time to think about what to post so pardon me as I try to put something together at the last minute. A couple months back I promised some kids that I’d come back to visit them during their school holiday in June. I told them I would only be staying here in Malaysia for one week however when I tried to leave last week I was unable to deny the earnest pleas of a few little girls who really wanted me to stay. Some of them even went as far as vowing to eat only vegetables and to never eat candy if I stayed, haha. I told them such vows were unnecessary and that regardless of whether or not I stayed they should try their best to eat more vegetables and less candy.

I generally take a wider, distant, and more objective view of things and this allows me to escape all of the emotional ups and downs most people experience however it seems my one remaining weakness/soft spot are kids in these kinds of situations particularly ones I can see are benefiting from my time with them and I know will one day help other people and the planet with what they’ve learned from me. Sitting at a table attempting to explain to some of the teary-eyed kids who are closest to me why I had to leave and why I wasn’t sure when I would be coming back almost made me shed a few tears of guilt. Next time I’m preparing to leave I’ll have to arrange for those few kids to be out and surround the table with a few other kids that saying good-bye to would if anything cause me to shed tears of joy.

For now it looks like I’ll be staying here for the summer so tomorrow I’ll be going back to Thailand to get my skateboard, slackline, and other some other things I’ve missed having around the past two weeks. I look forward to jumping into my cold mountain river and enjoying the peace and nature there for around 5 days before returning here for a 7 or 8 week session at a new place I just rented. They wanted $1000 a month for the house which is in a prime location next to a park and a 3 minute skateboard ride away from the market but I got them to rent me a room and give me a temporary two month stay for $250 a month as they search for someone to rent the entire house long-term. I already told the kids I won’t be putting in the kind of hours I put in the past two weeks and they understood. Hopefully I can toughen them up a little over the next 8 weeks and make my next departure go a little smoother.

P.S. Check out this gorgeous red-tailed racer I had slither into my house in Thailand and this beautiful tree frog I saw here in Malaysia.

Dog Bite

There was a tokay gecko at the restaurant near my home and the owners wanted it gone because it was defecating all over their kitchen. A couple of weeks ago I saw it on the wall so I grabbed a kitchen towel to protect myself from it’s blood-drawing bite and captured it. I then proudly showed the owners the big gecko and one of them asked if he could kill it which is what they probably do to any tokay geckos that try taking up residence at their restaurant.

I was like why would you want to kill such a beautiful specimen when you could just walk across the street, a little ways into the forest, and release it into the wild. I told them that’s where I was headed and that I first just wanted to show them the fellow that’s been shitting all over their kitchen. The point of this introduction is to tell you that I had no reason to venture out onto the road and into the forest that night and only did so so I could release this tokay gecko.

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Coconut Fatality

A man that lived down the street from me died a few days ago. He was conversing with a neighbor near a coconut tree and…, no a coconut didn’t fall on is head, it was even worse, a coconut fell from the tree, bounced off of a rock, and then hit him in the head. He was taken to the hospital where he spent 3 nights before being discharged and returning home for a family wedding being held at his house and right after the wedding he died. There was a gathering all week at that house, first for the wedding and then for the funeral. I thought I’d share this sad story with you and remind you to be grateful you haven’t died in any freak accidents because any of us could at any time. Hopefully we won’t but the low probability of such an event shouldn’t leave you thinking you’ll always have another day to get something done or to mend a relationship with someone.

Enjoy the full moon tonight and this frog photo I took last month.

Mercy Killing

Today as I was cleaning around my porch I lifted up a plastic crate and gently tossed it over to the side. Unfortunately there was a gecko stuck to the bottom of it which was nearly decapitated when the crate landed. No surgery I could’ve performed could’ve repaired the severed spinal cord of this poor house gecko. I’ve seen paralyzed dogs using dog wheelchairs however for a gecko that makes a living running up walls this was not an option. So I did the humane thing and smashed its head in with one swift swing of a wooden juggling club. I then grabbed it by its still twitching tail and tossed it into the creek next to my house because I knew it would be immediately eaten by one of the snakeheads that live under the rocks and wait for lizards, frogs, and any other edible items to fall into the water.

I’ve performed a couple other mercy killings over the years but the one that came to mind today was one that took place a couple of months ago at a children’s shelter. There was a sick and/or injured pigeon flopping around in front of the building and although I didn’t know what was wrong with it I could tell by its limp neck and the way it was moving that it was going to die within a day or maybe within hour. I already knew my answer but I asked the kids that were with me at the time if we should let it lay in the sun and let the ants go to work on it until it eventually dies or should we put it out of its misery. We went inside to get out of the sun to discuss the matter. At first a couple of the kids were shocked that I, the person that doesn’t even eat animals, would propose killing one however as we laid out the bird’s only options they started agreeing with me.

As we discussed the matter I saw another kid though the window, a 5 year old boy who was about half the age of the kids I was discussing the matter with, approaching the sick and/or injured bird with a badminton racket and before I could say anything to him he smashed it over the head. We all ran outside to find a dead bird and a little kid still holding the murder weapon with a “How am I going to get out of this one.” expression. It was ironic because we had pretty much come to the consensus that the best thing to do was to kill the bird however the problem was the kid that performed the execution knew nothing of our deliberations and just wanted to smash a bird over the head with a badminton racket. I brought him inside and explained to him in simple English that it was wrong to hit animals and that they should be treated kindly but I also told him that he was lucky that that particular animal was very sick and was already going to die.

Environmental Protection

The Environmental Protection Agency should not be led by an environmental polluters advocate. It’s Time to Fire Scott Pruitt.

You can also tell Congress to fire Scott Pruitt via this link from Friends of the Earth.

E.P.A. Prepares to Roll Back Rules Requiring Cars to Be Cleaner and More Efficient

P.S. The durians in Penang are dropping over a month earlier than usual. Last week I bought some for the kids and before they devoured it I took this photo.

 

Yawning Macaque

Happy Lunar New Year! Lantern Festival is tomorrow which marks the final day of the New Year’s celebrations which means I now only have one more New Year’s celebration to put up with, Songkran. As planned I returned to Malaysia in early February to visit the kids at the children’s shelter. A week and a half ago I came across a box of nectarines that were a bit over-ripe but I could tell they were still good so I bought a few of them. When I got home and ate them I was surprised by just how good they were, so good. So I said I gotta go back to that supermarket in the morning as soon as they open to get the rest of those nectarines!

The next morning I showed up just as they were opening and headed straight for the nectarines. I got there just in time because the guy working in the fruit area said he was about to throw them all in the garbage. Instead of throwing them out he gave them all to me, like 30 small ones for only $1.25! After bringing them all home I threw two or three bad ones into the compost bag and ate over 20 of them for breakfast which amounted to a total of 2.2kg of glorious nectarine pulp. Hoooooo!!! Also If you were in Penang last week and lost 14 Malaysian Ringgit (3.50USD) I picked it up on the side of the street and rather than pocketing it and profiting from your loss I used it to buy more bananas for the kids so now you don’t need to feel bad about losing it. Have a nice March, I’ll post again on April 1st.

 

Slow Loris

I returned to Thailand earlier this month and have been here catching up on some thoughts and things that I put on hold while in Malaysia however as promised I will be going back to visit the kids in Penang next week. Before I do I decided to do the 40 hour water fast that I wanted to do around New Years but put off until I was back in Thailand. As I write this 30 hours in I thought it’d be a good opportunity to challenge you to not eat for a full day and to follow up with an improved plant based diet and healthier eating habits. In the meantime here’s a challenge you can do right now.

Enjoy the full moon and I’ll chime in again a month from now,
d

P.S. Here’s a slow loris photo I managed to get a couple weeks ago with a camera in one hand and a flashlight in the other along with a few recent photos of the kind of habitat you’re likely to find a slow loris or me living in. I also saw a colugo aka kubong a couple weeks ago but I was unable to get a photo. Speaking of forest gliders I had a paradise tree snake on my porch earlier this month and although I haven’t seen any flying dragon lizards this year I did have a couple fly past me while I was in the forest a few months ago.

Snake Takes Flight

Flying Dragons Of The Jungle

Kubong Gliding Through the Trees

The Truth Behind the Slow Loris Pet Trade

  

Happy New Year!

I hope you had a good 2017 and I hope your 2018 will be even better. I’ve been in Penang for the past few months because I had some visa issues in Thailand. The Thai consulate here in Penang red-stamped my passport for too many back-to-back tourist visas and told me that if I wanted to stay long-term I needed a proper long-term visa. The problem is such a visa is a bit of a pain to get, much more so than a tourist visa which doesn’t require many documents, a Thai spouse, or a Thai sponsor, e.g., a business or school. The red warning stamp usually means they won’t issue you any more tourist visas at least not for a while or perhaps until you apply in your home country rather than in one of the countries bordering Thailand however I wrote them a letter explaining why I needed one more and luckily they gave one to me. That last 60 day + 30 day extension = 90 day tourist visa finished in October. When I stopped flying in order to do my part to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions I was afraid this would happen. Before I could fly once a year from Thailand to Taiwan and back and that eliminated the need for me to get too many back-to-back visas in either place. If only Taiwan was a short train ride away from my home in Thailand like Malaysia is.

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A Terrible Decision

If making America great again means going against the strong, sincere, and wise recommendations of just about every citizen on planet earth including the nation’s and the world’s top business leaders and seriously damaging U.S. credibility and moral standing in the world in order to take a selfish, immoral, and irresponsible unilateral action which is against the wishes of the majority of the citizens you’re supposed to represent and with no concern of the immediate and long-term effects it will have on others in and outside of the U.S. then Mr. Trump you, Bannon, and Pruitt are off to a good start and I assure you that you’ve made history, just not the kind your grandchildren are going to be proud of.

As for where to go from here, are your senators one of the 22 that recently signed a letter urging Trump to pull the U.S. out of the Paris Climate Agreement? Have you contacted them and expressed your extreme disapproval of their position on climate change and role in this disastrous decision?

Don’t just blame Trump for quitting the Paris deal — blame the Republican Party

The Republicans who urged Trump to pull out of Paris deal are big oil darlings

Tell your Governor to uphold the standards of the Paris Agreement.

Add your name to condemn Trump’s reckless abandonment of the Paris Climate Agreement!

P.S I’m still thinking about what to do with this blog and about what I can do to help mitigate the environmental damage caused by profligate individuals living in America and around the world. I hope to have something figured out and started by the end of the year. In the meantime have fun being alive on a planet that isn’t nearly as beautiful as it once was but is still awesome.

Individual action: what you can do about climate change

Climate Change

Don’t just blame Trump for quitting the Paris deal — blame the Republican Party

The Republicans who urged Trump to pull out of Paris deal are big oil darlings

Tell your Governor to uphold the standards of the Paris Agreement.

Add your name to condemn Trump’s reckless abandonment of the Paris Climate Agreement!

Individual action: what you can do about climate change

Seven Things to Know About Climate Change

A List of Climate Change Solutions From Drawdown.org

Contact: White House     U.S. Senate     U.S. House of Representatives

Support: Natural Resources Defense Council   EarthJustice   350.org   The Climate Reality Project   Greenpeace

P.S I’m still thinking about what to do with this blog and about what I can do to help mitigate the environmental damage caused by profligate individuals living in America and around the world. I hope to have something figured out and started by the end of the year. In the meantime have fun being alive on a planet that isn’t nearly as beautiful as it once was but is still awesome.

Monsoon Season

2017 begins much like 2016 ended, rain and more rain. After a few days of heavy rain the once peaceful little creek that ran along the side of my home has swollen into a raging river. I’m not too worried about that however I am a bit worried about all the rain bringing down a large tree on a steep slope that has my roof in its sights. Earlier today I went to pick some fruit but was unable to make it to the orchard due to much bigger raging river. I thought about testing my luck but if the rapidly moving knee deep water that was covering the narrow bridge took out one of my legs the other would certainly follow and I’d be washed off the bridge and pummeled against many boulders as I was sent downstream so it wasn’t worth it, not even for some rollinia.

December

Today is the first day of the last month of the year and I hope this month will be far less disappointing than last month. I’ve been relatively busy with work and thinking deep thoughts the past couple weeks so you may have noticed I haven’t been posting like I was Pre-Trump. I won’t be chiming in here again until New Years however in the meantime I will continue to try and help get important links noticed on Twitter.

P.S. A friend of someone I buy fruit from got hit by a car a few days ago in front of the fruit sellers home, went into a coma, and died a few days later. It reminded me of a very promising individual who was hit and killed on his bike at the age of 14 by a careless driver so with both of them in mind I say please be careful on and around the road especially if you happen to be in Thailand or in one of the few other places with as abysmal of a traffic safety record.

DJT at NYT

In an interview at the New York Times yesterday President-elect Trump said he was open minded and carefully looking at the issue of climate change. Now more than ever is the time to voice your support for the Paris Climate Agreement and the Clean Power Plan. Please contact the President-elect and urge him to stay in the Paris Climate Agreement, ensure the U.S. keeps it’s Paris commitments, and continues to lead the world in its effort to curb climate change!

The evidence is overwhelming and we have far too much to risk.

Tweet to him.

Send him a message on Instagram.

Share your thoughts with him on Facebook.

Contact him via the Presidential transition website.

Trump’s Presidential Transition Update

In a video updating the world on his presidential transition and explaining some of his policy plans for his first 100 days in office Trump said he will “Cancel job-killing restrictions on the production of American energy”, i.e., he will cancel health and environmental protecting restrictions on the production of dirty, unsustainable, and climate change exacerbating energy.

If Trump continues down this road pushed along by the likes of climate change denier Myron Ebell he will not only hurt America’s chance to lead the world in renewable energy he will also hurt humanity’s chance to avoid the most devastating effects of climate change; and all in exchange for some coal industry profits and a few unhealthy and unsafe jobs for people to blow up mountain tops, crawl into coal mines, burn coal, and dispose of coal ash.

If you like this a video sign this petition from the organization that made it.

Keep fossil fuel industry funded climate change deniers like Myron Ebell away from the EPA

The petition can be found here and if you agree please sign, comment, and help it get noticed. Also please support this petition as well along with any similar ones you may find because it’s important that those of us who care about maintaining and furthering the progress made in addressing climate change over the past 8 years are as vocal as possible because the best shot we have at positively influencing the path the Trump administration takes on climate change, and other issues, over the next four years is NOW.

I stole the following article from the Steve Bannon run Breitbart News, which I just read is now the most widely-read conservative site in America, because I didn’t want to link to it and give them the benefit of a few extra clicks on their advertisement loaded website that keeps automatically reloading and is severely affecting my internet speed. I re-post this article not to make you cringe but to give you some background on the guy we’re trying to get fired and in hopes it will motivate you to support this petition.

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U.S. Electoral Reform

Besides the need to reduce the influence of money in politics the way people vote and the way candidates are elected also needs to change if we’re going to allow people to vote for their first choice without having to worry about “wasting” their vote or “spoiling” an election. If you’re interested in ranked choice voting and electing presidents based upon which presidential candidate receives the most votes then learn more and sign up for email updates via the links below.

FairVote.org

National Popular Vote

“New York City, Mr. Trump!”

I went to the beach today in hopes some sun, sand, and salt water would cleanse me of the last 24 hours. I did some snorkeling and saw some beautiful fish as I picked a few pieces of old plastic out of the ocean. Seeing an old and disintegrating plastic bag that has become attached to the sea floor wave back and forth with the currents like an underwater plant makes you realize how easy it is for a hungry fish to nibble away at it thinking it was food and not something that was going to get stuck in its stomach and eventually kill it. The largest fish I saw was only about half the size of my hand probably because like in many other parts of the world people have eaten just about anything worth eating however there were still small fish which came in a variety of shapes and colors.

I wonder if the decedents of these fish will be there when children today are my age or if they will vanish along with most of the world’s coral reefs due to a slight increase in water temperature and acidity as a result of all the carbon released into the atmosphere from all the fossil fuels we’re burning and forests we’re cutting down in order to satisfy our hunger for cheap meat and palm oil? While I was waiting for the boat back I was passed by a morbidly obese man probably in his late twenties. One of the Thai boatmen said “Hey, where you from?” and he replied “New York City.”, then the Thai boatman says “New York City, Mr. Trump!” and the fat guy says “Mr. Trump” as he does a big thumbs up at which time the same nausea and leg weakness I experienced on election night slightly returned as I once again thought about all the environmental consequences of this election. Should have been Bernie however it is what it is, now it’s time to fuel up and fight on!

Post Election Day Dinner

Links Worth Sharing Before Tuesday

Make A Plan To Vote

I hope you’ll consider viewing and sharing articles and video clips like those below with friends and family before Tuesday. Rather than seeing it as preaching politics to people that probably don’t want to hear it see it as sharing some information which people can use as food for thought or choose to ignore. I’m confident the more people who step back and think ahead of Tuesday’s election the better chance the U.S. and the rest of the world will have at a better future.

This election summed up by President Obama in under three minutes.

How Donald Trump thinks about foreign policy

The presidential election: America’s best hope

If you’re considering voting 3rd Party please check out this video and if you’re considering voting for Trump please hear out this columnist.

Stark Contrast on Climate Change

The Paris Climate Agreement takes effect today and although the national commitments pledged thus far fall far short of what needs to be done if global warming is to be kept below 2C above pre-industrial levels and if the most environmentally devastating and socially destabilizing effects of climate change are to be avoided it at least provides a framework which gives humanity a chance at reaching this extremely important goal.

I ask any U.S. voters that visit this site and I hope you’ll ask any you know to take this critically important issue into account on Tuesday and note that one candidate has a plan to address it while creating new jobs and the only plan her competitor has is to deny there’s a problem and write it all off as a “hoax”. Trump doesn’t even list the environment as an issue on his campaign site however it does say he will “scrap the EPA’s so-called Clean Power Plan” and has said he will get rid of the EPA in almost every form. Of all the things that make Trump unfit to be president I think his ignorance and lack of concern as it pertains to climate change and other environmental issues is the most disqualifying.

Taking on the threat of climate change and making America the world’s clean energy superpower.