I was reminded again today why you shouldn’t create content for third parties (for free that is). Today’s reminder came from Squidoo who sent me an email saying a lens I had created long ago had been flagged and was going to be unpublished. The truth is, that lens I created was pretty good and had some nuggets of information you won’t find anywhere else. Apparently their automated systems did not like something about it. But of course they don’t give any specifics, just general ideas under the heading of “low quality”.
So I moved that content to a blog post about Thailand medical care and deleted the Squidoo lens. I was the original idiot for putting effort into content on a third party’s site. But I am redeemed now that the content is on my domain, and Squidoo is the idiot now for chasing my content away.
Footnote: You should note the irony in the fact that this post is on a third party domain. But then, it’s only a 10 sentence post written in a few minutes.
In my earlier post about UK rocker Pete Doherty going to a rehab center in Thailand I wondered if he had chosen the extreme rehab of Wat Tham Krabok. But I was only kidding. Celebs always go to plush rehabs where they pamper you instead of actually burning your demons out of you. Now we find out that Doherty went to the plush center called The Cabin in Chiang Mai. That’s a pic of it below.
Looks pretty nice. They claim a 96% success rate. I’m sure that means 96% paid for a full course rather than being kicked out early like Doherty was. If you want to see some real results then get thee to Wat Tham Krabok Mr. Pete.
The center says they have successfully treated 300 patients in the past. A former successful patient had previously spoken about how wonderful the center is and boasted that as a result he had been drug free for six months…all that, eh? Seems a bit underwhelming. The rooms sure look interesting at The Cabin.
I hardly know who this rocker is, but I guess he is pretty big in the UK. I saw a news story that he flew off to do drug rehab in Thailand and it reminded me of my earlier post about extreme medical tourism. That was about the extreme drug rehab program they have a Wat Thamkrabok in Lopburi province. I sort of doubt he went there. He’s probably at one of those cushy resorts where they pamper you and you don’t really end up kicking the habit. I think if you go through the Wat Thamkrabok program and know that you have to repeat it if you relapse then you might really be cured.
I keep reading about how teens and early twenty-somethings are clueless about how things were done just a few years ago before everybody had smart phones. The fact that they have such vast resources available in the palm of their hand seems to actually be making them a lot dumber and unable to do even the simplest things themselves. This comic made the point pretty well I think.
I feel like I am part of the advantaged generation, having knowledge of actually how to do things and greatly appreciating the resources now available to anyone with a wireless or internet connection.
I’ve been wanting to build up a long term store of food but face a few issues here. One issue is the weather – hot and humid most of the year which makes keeping foods cool and free of molds and fungi a challenge. Another issue is pests – anything like rice, beans or pasta gets infested with weevils after just a couple of months even if the package remains sealed.
Much of the information I have read online talks about refrigeration or freezing for long term storage of grains. That is not practical or cost effective for large amounts. I read some studies that compared preservation by refrigeration and by dessication. Good preservation results were obtained with super dessication and no need for costly refrigeration (equipment and power). Elsewhere there is quite a bit of discussion about the importance of eliminating oxygen from the storage container to inhibit molds, fungi and pests. Apparently there is a tradeoff here – if you put an oxygen absorber and a dessicant into the same storage container they battle each other. At least that’s what I read, not sure if it is accurate.
Regardless, I haven’t been able to find a local source of either oxygen absorbers or a suitable dessicant. Instead I have gone with using dry ice to purge the storage containers of oxygen by filling them with carbon dioxide as the dry ice sublimates. The method is easy and I was able to locate a local source of dry ice. One kilogram of dry ice costs only 25 baht which is about US$0.80 at the time of this writing.
The storage containers I am using are five liter plastic water bottles made of PETE. This is the very common clear semi-rigid plastic used for water and soft drink bottles. PETE is a pretty good oxygen barrier, although it isn’t as good as some other materials. Glass containers with air tight lids and containers made of other materials are difficult to find locally and are quite expensive. These five liter water bottles are readily available and inexpensive so if they perform well enough then they will remain my primary choice.
So I did my first batch. Rice is available in five kilogram bags which fill almost completely one of the five liter bottles. The process is simply to drop some chunks of dry ice into the bottle. Then using a funnel pour in the rice. The cap is placed on but not tightened so that the air in the bottle can escape as the dry ice sublimates and expands. Being heavier than the other gases in air, the carbon dioxide fills the bottle from the bottom and pushes the air out the top. It’s not perfect, for sure, and some air and oxygen remain inside, but the atmosphere in the bottle is mostly carbon dioxide and very low in oxygen so is very inhospitable to pests.
You need to watch the bottles and try to determine when the dry ice has completely sublimated so you can tighten the caps to prevent air from going back into the bottles. You can’t tell by looking at it because you can’t see the dry ice buried in the rice. So what I did was tighten the caps for a few moments and then look for signs of pressure building like some slight bulging of the bottle, then loosen the caps again and hear the gases escape. I checked like this now and then and at about two hours it seemed like the process was complete so I tightened the caps and stored them in a dark and relatively cool location.
Now comes an interesting effect. After the bottles have set for a few days a partial vacuum forms inside. Here is a picture of one of the bottles.
You can see that the top of the bottle is slightly deformed due to low pressure inside. When I first filled the bottle with rice there was a small airspace at the top. Now it has comletely shrunken and squeezed in the sides of the bottle. This seems odd and sort of counterintuitive. After all, the sublimated dry ice filled the container with cold carbon dioxide. After capping it tightly I would expect it to expand a bit as it warmed to room temperature. So what is going on here?
I found an answer offered on one website (unfortunately did not bookmark it and cannot find it now). A commenter on that site said she is a molecular biologist who does research involving absorbtion of gases and that she has observed that many grains slowly absorb carbon dioxide. She said that in a sealed contained containing carbon dioxide she would expect to see this effect of pressure reduction inside the container.
Cool! It’s cool because this gives a very visual indication that the container is still air tight and has not allowed any air to leak in. How long it will stay this way I don’t know but I will monitor it. If I get any containers that appear to have leaked then I will simply use those and replace them with new ones.
I saw the news that Obama has come out in favor of gay marriage. Since he is just pandering to try to garner more votes there isn’t any point in debating his stand. But I started thinking about what the foundations of the debate really are. I mean, there’s nothing stopping gay people from living together as a couple. But they want to be officially recognized as married. What does that mean?
It means money of course. Like being able to be claimed as a dependent on their partner’s tax return or insurance policy, and having an employer pay for dependent benefits. All the moral outrage aside on both sides it is nothing more than money in the end. And from that point of view I think there should be no benefit offered to gay married couples, indeed, no special benefits offered to any married couples gay or straight. Everybody should pay their own way. Single people and married people should get the same benefits and same tax breaks. If you can’t afford to have a family without other people subsidizing you via taxes and benefits then you shouldn’t have a family. Of course that won’t happen since the government can’t buy votes that way.
I saw this over at fail blog:
see more epicfails
They missed one: Taxes/debt will increase.
Have you ever had nagging neck pain? Not something serious caused by trauma or such, just a literal pain in the neck maybe from sleeping in an awkward position or having a bad pillow. It’s happened to me several times. The Thai remedy is to beat up your pillow, really. That actually might have some rational basis if your pillow is flat and needs fluffing. It didn’t help me much when I tried it so I ended up using a device that you hook over a door that has a neck sling connected to a bag of water through a pully. If provides some neck traction. It works, but it is sure inconvenient since you are literally tied to the door while you are using it.
I just saw this gadget. It’s an inflatable neck traction device. Looks pretty convenient. And it is really cheap, only $6.99 at Amazon. It is obvious how it works and if it is actually effective at relieving compressed vertabrae in the neck it would be great instead of that water bag hanging device.
I happened upon a website called MyThaiDoctors.com which is a review website where visitors can post reviews and details of their experiences with doctors in Thailand. There are also blog posts about various experiences such as the one about how Thai doctors moonlight at multiple hospitals.
I like the idea of the site and it seems like the site owner(s) got off to a very good start by checking which reviewed doctors are American Board Certified and including that information. Unfortunately, it seems like that energy was lost since the site lists the last update of board certified doctors as October 2008. Another thing that is inevitable with review type sites is that you get either strongly negative or strongly positive reviews. People are rarely motivated to go online and write a review if a product or service simply met their expectations. That is a bit unfortunate since the majority of doctor visits are probably not very eventful but rather get the job done. So there are vastly more doctors that would probably get a 3 or 4 star rating than the small number of 1 and 5 star ratings. The site does have an extensive list of Thai doctors, 3,188 in fact. It’s just that the vast majority are unrated.
I saw this amazing chart over at ZeroHedge.com. It shows the Labor Force Participation Rate in the U.S. for the last 30 years. It just hit a 30 year low. The number of people not in the labor force has now risen to 88,419,000. Those are two pretty amazing statistics and really make the government look retarded for touting the modest drops in the official unemployment rate. Check out the chart:
I guess I am a contributor to that drop that started accelerating around the beginning of 2002 because that’s when I exited the U.S. labor force. The drop has been really steep since 2008 and looks to be headed well lower. That can only accelerate the approaching financial collapse of the U.S. economy.
Someone asked a question today about what the inflation rate in Thailand is, both the official rate and the gut feel rate. That got me thinking because I know that the official rate is mentioned now and then in the Thai media and from what I recall it has been around 3.5 to 4.0 % for the past few years. My gut feel is that seems about right but maybe a little on the low side, that maybe it has been running higher based on my own sampling of prices. I ended up finding this chart of the offical rate:
It has fluctuated wildly over the last 10 years, over 9% in 2008 to a negative 4% in 2009. That’s the official rate. And yes it does look like it has been flat at a little under 4% for the last couple of years. I’m not sure what the big drop to negative inflation rate means because I sure did not see any price reduction at the time.