First Among Places

2 days before Christmas, and California is showing its usual reluctance to acknowledge the season, but this is going to qualify as my very first, proper, Nice Place To Sit And Read!  Huzzah!

Wind In The Whatever Those Trees Are

The Wind In The Whatever Those Trees Are

It’s 77° under a clear blue sky, wind just strong enough to fill the air with the sound of rustling tree branches but not enough to make you fear for Mary Poppins’ life.  I imagine that sitting in the sun might be a bit too warm, but here in the shade in a flannel shirt, the temperature is perfect with a capital P.  Oh, right: make that Perfect.

I mentioned being here, the Wolfe family home, in my last post. Mark’s my old college friend, Jane’s his high school sweetheart whom I only knew as a disembodied phone voice from when Mark & I roomed together, and in the time since they’ve made movies, raised kids, Mark’s CEO of Reading Rainbow and they have an app and everything.  They made a pretty neat calendar for next year that I just saw last night, but I probably shouldn’t tease you with it because it was just for their Kickstarter supporters. A bunch of artist volunteered their efforts, and it’s got some amazing art from comic book artists like Katie Cook and Chris Eliopoulus, and Marie GrandPré (who did the Harry Potter covers), and it’s all really cool.  Anyway, now I’ve got the Reading Rainbow song stuck in my head, so thanks Mark.  (At least it beats the Barry Manilow earworms he stuck me with in college. Took me years to get rid of those, but it looks like I made it.)

I remember when this house was being built, in a new community, and now the yard’s all grown up and the trees are tall, and it’s very nice to just sit and listen to the wind in the trees.

And read. I’m rereading XXXholic: REI, volume 1, which I brought with me because I have v2 unread and I knew I needed a refresher read on v1:

xxxHOLIC Rei, v1

xxxHOLIC Rei, v1

This is the problem with getting translated manga soon after they come out in Japan; you’re back to the waiting game and have to struggle to recall the story thread.  When they don’t make it to the US until years later, they generally get released only a few months apart.  Le sigh.  Soon, I’ll have to switch to digital manga, because there’s no point in toting all this stuff around overseas.  I’ve bought more than a few digital manga the last few years; they’re perfectly good but, as with books, I like having my favorites in physical form.  And the xxxHolic series by the 4-woman CLAMP team of artists is absolutely one of my favorites (this is the second series of that title)  I’ll probably end up double-buying it.  Digitally, then have a physical copy sent to my sister to put with my stuff.  Oh, and a copy for my niece… so triple-buying it.  Welcome to another edition of “Fixed Income Guy Making Suspect Money Choices!”

(In truth, I’m a bit worried about buying digital manga from Amazon.  Their Kindle screen resolution is a bit low for graphic art, and really small text can be hard to read.  I’ve seen this in manga and western comics alike.  Buying from eManga would be better, but they don’t offer titles from Kodansha, so what are ya gonna do?)

My general status as a Dharma Bum has advanced.  The paperwork to transfer my Nissan Leaf car lease to friends who want it has all been done and I Express mailed it to Nissan yesterday, so that should be wrapped up and the car properly transferred before I hit the road next week.  All of the remaining financial paperwork, rolling over pension and 401K into IRAs has been completed and Expressed mailed off, so that should be good.  I need to look into expat health insurance, and switch my iPhone contract to T-Mobile (they have a better international plan than AT&T), but those are straightforward.  I brought a bunch of to-be-read books with me (mostly manga), and I’m knocking those out pretty fast; I’ll leave those here on loan to the niece.  I have a couple of things left to mail to my sister for storage.  And I have to follow up with the Thai visa people; they were holding off sending in the application because I’m not going till the end of January, but the delay is making me itchy.  Worst case scenario is the visa falls apart and I just go for the standard tourist 30-day visit until I can get it worked out, maybe travel more to other places instead, so it’s all good.

I have hotel reservations!  I’m staying at the Nimman Boutique Resort, 2 weeks for $350 total.  At that price, I’m seriously considering not renting an apartment while I’m there and just staying at the hotel.  Or several different hotels, just changing whenever I feel the desire, as long as they have good wifi.  I picked that place because I read decent reviews, it looked nice, and it was close to a coffee shop I’d heard good things about, the Focus Coffee Bar Gallery.  Apparently they have a “language night”, where people from all sorts of different countries show up to exchange language lessons, which sounds pretty neat.  This points out that I’m going to have to become more of a night owl in Chiang Mai, instead of the morning sparrow(?) I’ve been all my life.  It will let me attend more of these evening/night events, after the day’s heat fades (only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the noonday sun), and will put me better in sync with friends back in the states.

And, yesterday, I applied for what is essentially a TSA “fastpass”.  I gave a company my data, IDs, and fingerprints, and permission to do a thorough background check, and if I’m lucky they get back to me with a special ID number that lets me through airport security faster.  Knock on wood that comes through; it will make all the winter traveling I’m about to do *way* easier. ($85, lasts 5 years. So worth it. Link here if you’re interested.)

So, that’s about it so far.  I’ll probably post again after Christmas and after the museum trip.

(I feel like I should be closing all of these with a catch phrase — blogs do that, don’t they?  Something like, “Good reading!”, or “Namaste”, or even “LLAP” (Live Long and Prosper).  I don’t know, feels kinda hokey.  I guess just a simple sign-off seems less contrived.)

-Charles

or maybe

-C

Maybe I should have a poll?  “How should Charles sign off? Vote here!” <shudder>

~FIN

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