Mobi- Babble – 20th September, 2015

 Flood Proof

Mobi-Babble

Mobi’s Blog is Back!

Better late than never, although I must admit at one point I didn’t even think I would make a start on it today – let alone finish it – but more of that later.

Putting the finish touches to editing my book  took longer than expected. I wrote in my last blog that I thought I was all finished, but that was before I discovered a wonderful piece of software that gives new meaning to editing by computer.

Not only did this software track down spelling and grammatical errors (while also pointing out where I had switched between English and US spelling), but it also listed punctuation errors, bad writing style, (passive verbs etc), clichés, repeated words, over -long sentences and much more besides.

I spent over two weeks, 10 hours a day, putting my ‘product’ through this software, 3,000 words at a time and then trawling through the generated error reports.

It was a very time-consuming task as the software cannot distinguish between genuine errors/mistakes and text that is okay, but doesn’t follow normal writing conventions for one  reason or another.

I would say that between 10-20% of the errors generated – mainly missing punctuation and over-long sentences – required correction. But I had to plough through all of the reports, just to find the real errors.

So it was with some relief that on 15th September, I was able to deliver the final file to my PR company in the UK who will be launching a promotion campaign. The publication of the book is currently targeted for 15th November, so that gives us two months to promote. More on all this in subsequent blogs.

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A week in the life of Mobi

It’s been such a tumultuous week that I hardly know where to begin.

Vamco strikes! – The Great Pattaya Floods of 2015

Tropical Storm Vamco created havoc in Thailand mid-week and resulted in severe flooding and storm damage to many parts of the country.

Here on the Eastern Seaboard, Pattaya City was declared a disaster zone after the town and surrounding countryside suffered widespread flooding. It is said to be the worst storm  to hit Pattaya in 5 years, but I reckon it’s the worst storm I have seen in the twelve-odd years I have been living here.

At the storm’s height, all the roads in Central Pattaya were under at least three feet of water. Shops and houses were flooded and rivers broke their banks, resulting in very severe flooding in nearby villages. Many people had to be rescued and transported to safety.

Out here by the lake we escaped the worst of it, although several main roads were badly flooded as the water drained away down towards the city. The swirling torrents at the height of the storm were frightening to behold and more than one person was tragically dragged away and drowned. Storm-damaged trees caused the usual mayhem – knocking out power lines and the like.

My stepson’s school was closed for one day due to a tree which was blown down and cut off the power.

As ever, in this strange, frustrating and sometimes remarkable country, after barely 24 hours, things were almost back to normal.

It never ceases to amaze me how quickly the power company can re-connect power to consumers. I have seen them come out in the dead of night in the middle of horrendous storms and shin up electricity pylons and clear falling trees out of the way and generally set about repairing the damage.

If anyone deserves a medal in this corrupt and divided nation, it is the electricity repairmen, who frequently risk life and limb to keep our air conditioners, fridges and lights running – all for a minimum wage. They ought to second a battalion of them to the UK where falling power lines can take days – sometimes weeks- to repair.

Within one day, the water had drained into the sea, the roads were open; the shops, stores and bars were back in business; and Walking Street was abuzz with the ladies of the night and tourists begging to be scammed.

If you had driven down Beach road the day after the storms, you would have been blissfully unaware that only one day earlier, the town had been declared a disaster zone.

But sadly, for many residents the recovery wasn’t that simple. Many were obliged to move out of their badly damaged homes and they will be spending weeks – possibly months – in cleaning up and replacing destroyed furniture and fixtures and fittings.

One of my friends reported the following in a local forum:

“Well, we’re completely flooded.  Everybody in the village has been evacuated.  And for good reasons.

A HUGE shout out to the Thai rescue squad.  What an amazing group of dedicated professionals.  I’ve got my 90-year-old mother with late stage Alzheimer’s.  They were fantastic dealing with her.  Which is not easy.  A group of about 7 came to our house, in waist-deep water, headlamps on, and carried her out.  Took my wife, me and the caregiver out also in their huge (and high) truck.

I can’t describe how emotional it is to see your beautiful house flooded about 10 inches deep.  Everything ruined.  We worked our butts off trying to keep things dry.  But to no avail.  Others are in even worse shape with water over the beds.

I’ve read about people dealing with floods over the years.  It’s a horrible thing to experience.  Yesterday at my friend’s house in Pattaya till late.  Today at my house…all day.  I’m beat and at a local “no tell motel” down the road.  Me, my wife and the dog.  Dog was not allowed at the Ambassador, but mom is there with the caregiver.  Actually, quite a nice room for 2,200B! What a fricking nightmare.”

Then later:

Phil: let me know if you need some help with your wife.  It’s really bad.  My wife is in constant communication with the manager and others in the village.  It’s horrible.

It rose so fast, it was unreal.  I mean up about 2 feet in only 2 hours.  We were just caught unprepared.  Let me know what I can do to help.  I went by your house several times today….

Finally:

“We’re a bit desperate.  Flooded out and trying to find alternative accommodation for the family for the next few months while the house is fixed up….”

I have devoted Mobi’s Pics today to a pictorial catalogue of the storm’s aftermath in  Pattaya.

Click Here to View: “Mobi-Pics – The Great Pattaya Floods of 2015”

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A day at the bank… well, a morning anyway…

I have two current bank accounts in Thailand; one at Kasikorn Bank and the other at Siam Commercial Bank.

In recent months, my account in Siam Commercial had fallen into disuse. For various reasons that I won’t go into, I decided that I needed to resurrect the account and obtain a new ATM card to run it.

With this in mind, I paid a trip to the bank a couple of weeks ago and showed them my old ATM card, which was still current, but was damaged and unusable.

There was no money in the account, (they had siphoned off what had remained of the balance in fees), and I had suspected that the bank had closed it for good.

But to my surprise, they told me that if I made a small deposit, the account would be ‘reactivated’. So I gave them 500 Baht (£10) and the account was open again.

Then I asked for a new ATM card, but they told me I had to wait 24 hours before I could get a new card. The reason for this was totally lost in translation.

So this past week, Lek and I returned to the bank to complete the process.

First of all, I was informed that as I couldn’t produce the original card, (I didn’t know it would be needed anymore), I would have to buy a new, enhanced ATM card.

They told me that only customers who could produce old, basic cards could be issued with a replacement, basic cards.

Basic cards cost 200Baht, (£4).

Enhanced cards cost 600 Baht (£12)

I thought about it, and told them that in that case, I would withdraw my 500 baht and close the account.

Then, while I was in the process of closing the account, the lost card fell out on the desk from the inside of my passport.

The clerk then told me that even though the card appeared to be damaged, he was sure it was still usable.

“I don’t think so”, I told him, but he was adamant.              

He accompanied me down a long flight of stairs to an ATM machine in the forecourt outside the bank. I demonstrated to him that the card did not work.

Satisfied, we went back upstairs.

 He then told me that I could not have a replacement basic card after all!

He now said that all customers had to be upgraded with the new enhanced card, which would cost me 600 Baht.

I told him that in that case I wished to close the account.

He then said he was wrong; I didn’t have to pay 600 Baht, I only had to pay the difference between the old and new card – i.e. 400 Baht. (600-200)

“You can use this enhanced card overseas!” He assured me.

“I don’t want to use it overseas – I want to use it in Pattaya!”

Anyway, I had spent so much time there that I decided I would accept the new enhanced card for a total cost of 400 Baht.

The clerk had a long conversation with another clerk and then told me: surprise! surprise! – I could have a new replacement basic card after all!

“Why is that? You just said that I couldn’t have one.”

No answer.

They took a copy of my passport and asked me to sign the photocopy plus about a dozen forms which were all in Thai. Then they both sat down together and banged away on the computer.

Then the female clerk told me: You have changed your passport?

“Yes, about 7 years ago.”

She looked at her computer. “You have this account for more than 7 years.”

10 minutes later, she produced a photocopy of my old, now cancelled passport. This was a surprise – at least their filing system was pretty good…

“Sign the photocopy of your old passport, and sign these two dozen forms in Thai, and we’ll update your records.”

Another hour passed and I actually received my new ATM card for 200 Baht.

Total time in Bank: 3 hours.

My dear readers may find this difficult to believe, but at no time during my sojourn in the bank – having to deal with Thai bureaucracy, along with a bit of attempted customer scamming – did a smile leave my face. I never got angry – I never even thought about getting angry.

My oh my, how times have changed! I’ve either gone troppo, or my anti-depressants were working their magic….

Mind you, I did tell Lek with a smile that I never had these kind of hassles with Kasikorn Bank. 

“Shsh… shsh…” she said, not wanting to lose face….

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Lek wins again!

Yesterday, Neung – my dear little 14 year old step son – (I use the word ‘little’ advisedly as he is now a five feet 8, strapping young man, and a good six inches taller than his mum), went to the computer games shop with his friends for his weekly ‘fix’ on the games machines.

An hour later, he sent a message to his mum to tell her that his smartphone had been stolen.

Lek rushed to the shop and talked to the shop owner and to Neung’s friends, but nobody knew anything. Then she checked the CCTV with the owner and they saw one of Neung’s friends, stealing the phone, leaving the shop and putting it in a bag on his motorbike.

She drove to the boy’s home, but he wasn’t there. Someone told her where he had gone, but he wasn’t there either. Finally after much snooping around she tracked the boy down at another friend’s home.

He denied all knowledge.

She told him she had had proof he was the thief on the CCTV. He still denied it.

 She told him in that case, she would take the CCTV video to the police and they would arrest him and put him in jail. She then told him that if he confessed and gave her back the phone, she would let the matter drop and not even tell his school what he had done. It was up to him.

Guess what? He handed the phone back.

Unfortunately, during the two hours or so he had possession of the phone, he had thrown away the memory card and sim card and had replaced them with his own memory and sim, which was jammed full of YouTube videos.

Something must have happened to his own phone (broken or stolen) and he had decided to replace it – come what may…

So Neung got his phone back, minus the sim and the 4-gig memory card.

Lek wins again!

My God she is one smart tough little cookie – I’d hate to get on her wrong side…..

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Mick to the rescue

This morning I turned on my laptop to write this week’s blog when to my shock and horror, I found that it wouldn’t start up. Somehow the boot files, needed for starting the PC,  had disappeared.

I knew it was my doing. Yesterday I had been tinkering with some disk management software and had moved some unused memory from D drive to C drive.

I had obviously screwed up and I now had a serious problem; I couldn’t even start the computer.

Potentially, I was looking at a loss of all my data and I could only take comfort in the fact that I had backed up most of my important stuff a couple of days ago. Even so, it was going to be a hell of a nightmare if I had to reformat and reinstall all my software and data.

One of my oldest friends in Pattaya – good old Mick – came to the rescue. Mick is a computer professional and what he doesn’t know about computers isn’t worth knowing.

I try to avoid asking him for help as he is always busy and it’s a bit like asking a friend who happens to be a doctor to diagnose a medical problem in his spare time.

Anyway, I knew that if Mick couldn’t solve it I was lost and there was no way anyone else in Pattaya would have the first idea how to fix it. They would just reformat and tell me to start over.

I drove around to Mick’s house and three hours later, I returned with a fully functional laptop, all lovingly restored. It hadn’t been easy, but the gallant Mick gave up his Sunday morning and saved the day.

Thanks mate – I really appreciate it.

And so dear readers… I have been able to publish a blog this week… albeit a bit rushed…

I didn’t dare miss a third week in a row….

MAB mini pic