My Visit to Bangkok Chang Wattana Government Complex to “Renew my Visa”

First, note that I am actually not renewing my visa, that cannot be done inside of Thailand.  I’m doing two things:
  1. Applying for extension of permission stay for 1 year
  2. Applying for multiple entry, re-entry permit
  1. Visa:  permission to enter Thailand, issued from a location outside of Thailand.
  2. Extension of permission to stay:  issued from inside Thailand, does what it says.
  3. Re-entry permit:  issued from inside Thailand, granting permission to re-enter after leaving.
I spent hours on trying to get guidance and ideas.
I learned what I needed and decided to get these together in advance.  All except #1 can actually be done at the Chang Wattana offices if you desire.  Given the long lines, I wanted to have it all in hand to get my queue number as quickly as possible.
  1. Income letter from US embassy on Wittayu (Radio) Road
    1. get appointment at under “notary services”
  3. Assorted passport copies
  4. 4cm X 6cm recent photo on white or grey background
  5. Photocopies of passport photo page, visa page, last entry page and TM 6 departure /entry card: also last retirement extension stamp if you have one.
I posted my questions at and got may useful answers:
I explored using an agent but decided against it.  My notes are at the bottom of this note.  BOTTOM LINE:  I’m not going to use an agent.  I honestly don’t think this will be too useful.
Map to Chang Wattana Government Offices:

THE ACTUAL VISIT on 2018-02-13

Bottom line:  This took all day and the lines were very slow.  Surprising?  Nope.
I left my condo at about 8:30 and arrived at 9:16.  I took a wrong turn and that delayed me maybe 5 min.  Parked at the North entrance.
Once there I glued my picture onto my form.  Should wait until right before my appointment to do that actually as it makes it hard to fold the paper.
I then got a queue number immediately, did not go to information.
I then asked the desk if I had done my copies correctly.  They pointed out I was missing my initial stamp.
I notice that they stop giving numbers for queues at 15:30 (per the signs).
A guy I was sitting at says Mondays are the worst, Fridays are the best day to come.
I have queue number L67
They were serving number L16 at 9:26 AM
Serving L30 at 9:44
Serving L39 at 10:07 (slowing down!)
L40 @ 10:40
L47 @ 11:21
L50 @ 11:44
Still L50 at 12:00.
Lunch break for the staff until 13:00
L59 @ 13:20
L66 @ 13:45
L67 (me) @ 14:00
Finished with step 1 at 14:06
L70 @ 14:15
SPEED:  37 tickets in 3:15 hours, not including lunch break.  That’s one ticket every 4.5 minutes, being processed by three windows, so one every 13 minutes per window.  SLOW AS HELL.   I think the problem was a supervisor was in a meeting during the first hour or two I was there.
So at 14:00 I spoke with the lady and turning in the paperwork.  Finished at 14:06.  Moved to queue L1, same number 67.  At this time I also got C2 queue number 249, because at this point I became concerned I would only complete the extension of stay and not get a new re-entry permit.  I believe the answer is that the old re-entry permit would work with the old permission to stay until I got a new permit, but since I completed all in same day I never fully confirmed this.  The trick was to get a queue number for window C2 as soon as handed my documents in for processing for my extension request to the lady in charge.
L1-60 @ 14:20
Serving L1-61 at 14:34
Finished with Queue L1 at 14:43, EXTENSION COMPLETE
SPEED:  7 tickets in 23 minutes, so one ticket every 3 minutes, similar to the first queue.  Given the supervisor meeting, the hold up is the first queue, not the second.
14:43 – 14:43 (yes, 0 minutes)  QUEUE C2  (REENTRY PERMIT)
My queue number 249.
I was called immediately, at 14:43, right after finishing with L1.  Lucky.
However, I had forgotten to bring form TM8.  Also you have to photocopy the new extension of stay stamp anyhow at this point.
Multiple-entry permit fee was 3800 THB.
Finally finished with paperwork submission at 15:09, as I kept forgetting to copy things and had to go out for the ATM, so two extra trips out of the office for those two things.  One would have been necessary as I said though for the stupid photocopy of the new extension of stay.
Remember I’m C249.  They don’t call every number here for whatever reason;  probably don’t need to.
C2-209 @ 15:09
Queue 211 at 15:12
C2-212 at 15:15
C2-218 at 15:15 (SIC)
219 at 15:23
220 at 15:42 ouch really?
These were all at window 13, now they are processing in others as well I believe.  So I see C2-245 at 15:48.  Not sure if that is what I think it is… NOPE
C2-221, 222 and 223 at 15:52
225,226 @ 15:59
229 @ 16:00
232 @ 16:03
234, 235, 237 @ 16:06
238 @ 16:07
(There are still maybe 50 people waiting in the area for completion)
240 @ 16:11
243 @ 16:12
241, 244 @ 16:14
247 @ 16:18
249 (me) @ 16:20
SPEED: 40 tickets in 1:10 hours, or 1.5 minutes per ticket.  Again, remember that many tickets are not called, so I would say this isprobably at least 3-5 minutes per ticket.
Took 28 minutes to find the door, then wander around looking for my motorbike, then buy some juice, then actually find my motorbike.
Got on motorbike at 16:48
Home at 17:40
Note: there are entrances on North, East, South and West sides.
Supawadee Theeratawatkul (Aey)
Lang Suan House Co.,Ltd.
Telephone office : 02 – 652 – 2757
Fax : 02 – 652 – 1842
Office hours : Monday – Friday , 9.00 a.m. – 5.00 p.m.

This would be ideal, but haven’t heard back yet:

I am lazy so I always use an agent. She gets there early and gets a ticket, I arrive about 9am, sign the prepared papers and wait to be called. She stays on after to get my re-entry permit and couriers my passport back to me. She also does the 90 day report. Cost of service for the year is 5,000 baht. Time cost to me is usually about 45 mins.

I called TSL and associates at 4pm on 2018 Feb 8.  That is the same company with the chat below,  The lady on the phone was named Kay.
She said they will meet with me and send in the forms in advance and then we meet at Chaengwattana and it goes much faster that way.
Price is 12000 baht for their service, though.  That’s about $375 to save maybe a day of work.  That’s a bit chargeout rate! Is it really worth $45 per hour?    I say nope.

Here is the chat transcript from
wealthychef  Howdy, just wondering if you can help me save time and effort in applying for extension of stay and multiple re-entry permit for Thailand. I’m a US citizen.
Bryan Baker Sure. When does your visa expire?
wealthychefI have a non-O retirement visa, expiring end of Feb (Feb 27 I think)
Bryan Baker Ok. Just in time then.
Are you in Bangkok?
I know, I was doing it myself. But then found out about you and wondering if spending a few baht for a little service might be a good idea.
Bryan Baker Ok. Would you like to drop off your passport at our office or just send it in?
wealthychefI have an appt with US embassy to get income statement.
Bryan Baker Saves you the hassles that’s for sure. Smart man.
wealthychefHmm… need to talk about how this works first. What is your service about and what does it give me? Thanks
Bryan Baker Ok.
wealthychefYeah, I just don’t want to spend the day at Chiang Wattana
Bryan Baker Actually it would be more like 3 but anyways.
wealthychefCan you tell me the procedure if I use you? I think I know how it works if I do it myself. When I renewed last year it took a whole day.
Bryan Baker Just stop by the office before you go into the embassy and we will prepare the affidavit for you and also take you to extend your visa and multiple re-entry.
Take all the necessary pictures fill out all of the forms etc.
wealthychefI think in this case what most interests me is time savings. How much time will I spend at CW? Do you get faster service somehow?
I do believe the forms are not a big deal for me. I have them on my hard drive ready to go
Bryan Baker Maybe an hour or two? I am not sure it depends on the day. Also everywhere is busier right now.
The taxi could take an hour it’s hard to say for sure.
wealthychefI can ride my motorbike there, it’s faster by far.
Bryan Baker You will save time that is for sure.
wealthychefCan you tell me how I save time with your service? I don’t quite understand that part. Do you go to the front of the line somehow? 🙂
Bryan Baker Ok well I mean you do seem like you want to do it yourself… I am not saying you can’t. I am just saying this is the service we offer.
Haha your funny. Anything else I can help you with today Mr Cook?
wealthychefSo far it sounds like you fill in the forms and drive me there. Is that about it? Sorry, I’m just trying to understand. Not trying to be a jerk
(at this point the agent disconnected.  asshat)

The Entrenchment of Craving and its Dissolution

Yesterday was my first day without pot in at least a month or two.  It felt really great to take control and act!  Time to hit the impulse control button.

At night, as I lay there, I was thinking about how these habits that get in my way like pot, how they get entrenched in my mind.

I think the process is as follows:

  1. I feel a lack of pleasure in my life or just have a random urge to do something wacky.
  2. I respond by indulging in a drug or other bad habit causing item.
  3. I repeat the experience and it becomes habit
  4. I experience cravings and triggers.
  5. I notice the negative effects but the urges are strong and it becomes inconvenient to quit.
  6. A slow progression occurs until the negative effects are strong enough that I quit.
  7. I go overboard and end up looping around to step 1 again.

I notice that there is no stable “moderate” place in this progression.  My cycle resembles others’ experiences, as I found with a google search.

These cravings all have a similar urge or feeling to them.  Whether it’s smoking pot, overeating, drinking whiskey, masturbating to porn, smoking cigarettes, all these are fun and easy, but they cripple me or limit my achievement in other areas that are important to me.   The actual experience of a craving is brief but powerful.  The feelings or thoughts are pretty intense, like “if I don’t do this pleasurable thing, then my life is boring and unpleasant, and I’ll become Mormon or have my LLNL life again.”

My life as a Mormon and all throughout work at LLNL was very productive, healthy and stable, but each reached a limit.  As a Mormon, I finally woke up to the falsehood, and at LLNL, I think I just hit step 1 above.

One thing I noticed that when I decided to not smoke weed, my whole impulse control got better.  My diet improved and I didn’t drink and studied and got a few more things done today.  I don’t know if it was just that the pot was gone, which is notorious for reducing motivation and increasing appetite, but also I think there was a knock-on effect from thinking “I’m doing something good” which spilled over into my other areas of life and inspired me to give it a bit more effort.

Another effect was in my dreams:  I have been having nightmares for months and my dreams were much nicer last night.  Again, I think this is because my mind knows I am pursuing a higher self, and that space is where I like to be.  I don’t like wallowing in the shallows;  I prefer to be pursuing the higher callings and better aspects of my life, what Seneca calls “virtue.”  In particular, there is a way of thinking and being that I like which involves being active in improving and doing good things as I see it in the moment.  “Leaning in.”  When I’m not doing that, I worry and feel a bit sick and scared;  thus the nightmares I think.  Also I ate less and overeating causes bad dreams.

My goal now should be to have the right balance between fun and productivity, because when I don’t get things done I really do feel much worse.  As a practical matter, I would like a set of habits that allow me to dabble in outrageous and risky fun while always having super clean days without drugs or cravings.  I think the answer is to have “cleanse days” every week.  Minimum of three absolutely clean and healthy days per week where I avoid all habitual and sensual cravings, including coffee, pot, alcohol, and potentially sex, although right now my libido is so low I’m actually adding “have more sex” to my list.

Even better is to fill my life with positive habits that I crave to repeat and which enlarge my soul and mind as well.  Things such as travel, exercise, sports, romance, study, good conversation…  yeah.   Let’s keep growing that list and improving, shall we?


Note:  if i have used your image without permission here, please contact me, it was unintentional.  

A Message From “Theodore Alien Support”

I got a message tonight.  It’s some sort of phishing something or something.  I’d love to hear people explain  what the purpose of this email is.  It’s clearly some sort of weird probe… or is it?



Google has nothing to tell me about this person.  I cannot figure out why has any connection to my inbox.  Why do they want me to look at that image… ah.

It must be that someone has put a script in a subdirectory that’s somehow executable and I assume this is the “attack.”  Would be fun to chase this down, wouldn’t it?

Oh and here are the mail headers, redacted somewhat:

Theodore Alien Support <> 
Personal message
Flocked-Prokofiev-Calico: ⁨bee868f515eaf⁩
X-Forwarded-For: ⁨⁩
Arc-Seal: ⁨i=1; a=rsa-sha256; t=1516889739; cv=none;; s=arc-20160816; b=M3XzWmNu0e5OwSe04lsE8MEIHNGaSIXuEXc73wRWcaT5MZhJpU944i43SpQsJadim9 r8EK8FWbTo6pDvBxahgRTUMZP/tszzqIxAg1Pt5/aCRvn69YXdiSR9aYyYqLuTdnabGW yNaK/HrdGBYM5Y1H+QU7wUPzFlv7vSDS2OQdohdWdeXQFQPtqu/8H6bRyk4b3p/Xjdul tgBt8pqM6kLRdOWlGul3Rus3yYd/6Smo7cgJEAWImRQqZKb9rkWRIDK48tS52WgGVrph YDCRTEPaLPChti1IKW7jB84q0Hpl2x1PSabrqKd3jLm1k9QFUzos4UMl06hla5HamcdU sN3w==⁩
X-Received: ⁨by with SMTP id k191mr13908240itb.69.1516889740540; Thu, 25 Jan 2018 06:15:40 -0800 (PST)⁩
X-Received: ⁨by with SMTP id h64mr12684973ita.121.1516889739452; Thu, 25 Jan 2018 06:15:39 -0800 (PST)⁩
X-Gm-Message-State: ⁨AKwxytfXtR2vzu4PFgJHDZUVCowkHUaqjllY86x/JJEa9SD5yXyO+GuP EZrvCWYdzFbRHJ1+O54dOiY1JMWJNj4K8k6Kn+NW6xo3Knnns4k=⁩
Return-Path: ⁨<>⁩
Arc-Authentication-Results: ⁨i=1;; spf=neutral ( is neither permitted nor denied by best guess record for domain of⁩
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Mime-Version: ⁨1.0⁩
Authentication-Results: ⁨; spf=neutral ( is neither permitted nor denied by best guess record for domain of⁩
Clearness-Impede: ⁨personalizing⁩
Arc-Message-Signature: ⁨i=1; a=rsa-sha256; c=relaxed/relaxed;; s=arc-20160816; h=content-transfer-encoding:clearness-impede:to:cleanup-devise :mime-version:bilingual-bolsheviks:flocked-prokofiev-calico:subject :date:message-id:from:arc-authentication-results; bh=AIy9tpfYuu6x6tAPASWTBdjsu/wYhov9GfLmDgBEGeY=; b=GkVihLFR+EbS3nl6eeJBMiUkS5Y0TORDE9kRwMtst0QDtmLEHbzJlFktrOPEyad/xQ yuvhGISIos+j+Osm5aaxeyhuKK7HSaK3/Tyo+XxdJ1dseOF2RH4SbjSKxVTGPjMQx5jl VdklZBE+6tKpEgnuPbhoogNuss2+XJiC+3grBNKRi4LiPiSQmMzm7SUZvMvgRSwPcDWf wkaZA0a4HMm6G5M1iSkEIyKuhJ/uH03w7u92Kx3+K6eWznhqWqnQ3GQlYdqMlgcANleR KAcR8DJX2McfJcMtaKV5tMjlgodAzK8mJqmHOVSoBZvqzNwc12WvUykkl6Apc5jGoWT+ YYQQ==⁩
Cleanup-Devise: ⁨3f53d172d89e88a⁩
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X-Original-Authentication-Results: ⁨; spf=neutral ( is neither permitted nor denied by best guess record for domain of⁩
Content-Type: ⁨text/html; charset=UTF-8⁩
Received-Spf: ⁨neutral ( is neither permitted nor denied by best guess record for domain of client-ip=;⁩
Delivered-To: ⁨<>⁩
Delivered-To: ⁨⁩
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Received: ⁨from ( []) by (Postfix) with ESMTPS id 223A06010B for <>; Thu, 25 Jan 2018 06:15:41 -0800 (PST)⁩
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It looks like a place called originally sent it.  I went to look at and it looks like this:

The Three Faces of Science and Religion

Wouldn’t it be nice if there were a way to resolve disagreements between people using just logic and evidence?  I think there is.  I believe that the best way to form opinions about the world and the things in it is to use the scientific method, that is, to use evidence to test claims about truth.

Furthermore, I believe that religion and spirituality are specifically bad ways to form such opinions about reality, precisely because they do not provide a way to resolve disagreements.  The end game in religious disagreements is usually either “I agree” or “well, you believe whatever you want, we cannot say for sure.”  Or maybe things get really ugly and a fight breaks out.

Unfortunately for me, while making my case, I have noticed that “science” is a word that has three different meanings.

  1. Science:  The scientific method.  The use of reason and evidence to test and DISPROVE claims about the real world.  Also the method of communicating and describing such claims.  Using this method requires a willingness to reveal methods and data, if you want to persuade anyone else.  Note that science is NOT about proving things!  It’s about disproving them.
  2. Science:  the body of “knowledge.”  This means all observed and verified data and observations about the world, plus the accumulation of claims which have been tested by the scientific method, and seem to make accurate, verifiable and measurable predictions about the world which do not contradict available evidence.  A theory is disproven by showing it does not accurately describe the real world. Note:  items here are not “proven to be true” by the scientific method.  They just have not been shown to be false, they just don’t contradict any evidence, and ideally predict new evidence which subsequently appears as predicted.
  3. Science:  All scientists lumped together.  A “scientist” is a person who uses the scientific method.

When I say “Science is the best way to learn new things that you can trust to be accurate,” I am talking about science in the sense of the scientific method (category 1).  And I’m open to learning about better ways.  Anyhow, notice how I’m not saying “scientists are the best at learning” or “science has all the answers.”

When having discussions about the merits of using science,  I often hear the argument, “There are many examples of so-called scientific ‘knowledge’ being shown later to be false.  Therefore, science is seen to be a flawed method.”  This confuses the scientific method (category 1) with the body of scientific knowledge (category 2).  When things in category 2 are shown to be false, it is in fact done by the scientific method, and this is a vindication of science, not a repudiation of it.  Again, science is a method for disproving, not proving, claims.

Another argument I hear is, “But scientists are biased!  They believe in science like a religious person believes in religion.  Therefore religion is just as valid.”   But this confuses scientists (category 3) with the scientific method (category 1).  If a scientist is biased, and carefully uses the scientific method, she will discover her bias and correct it.  The assumption that scientists have biases is built into the method.

Interestingly, I find the same three categories to be found in religion:

  1. Religion:  The methods for confirming religious claims about reality.  There are four that I have noticed so far.
    1. Prayer:  ask “God” for help.  I put “God” in quotes because it’s a slippery subject.  Whenever I try to find out what God is, it gets crazy
    2.  Authority:  a trusted priest, high authority or book says it’s true, so it probably is.
    3. Emotion:  I feel good about this, so it’s probably true.
    4. Reason and evidence:  Sometimes religion tries to use reason and evidence to substantiate its claims.  However, reason and evidence that seem to argue against any particular religious belief are usually met with anger and hostility.
  2. Religion:  Religious belief, dogma, theory.  The practices and rules of religion.
  3. Religion:  The various sects and the people in them.  For example, one can speak of Islam or Mormonism to mean the people that believe in these religions.

The trouble as I see it with religion and “spiritual beliefs” is that category 1 relies on a flawed and broken foundation that does not produce consistent truth that can be tested by others.  Mormons and Muslims (category 3) share these methods, but heartily disagree about the nature of reality (category 2) in important ways.  Most crucially, they have no way to come to an agreement about which is correct.

I hope these distinctions are useful to others and can serve as a basis for further progress in discussing how to move society forward in good ways we can all benefit from.

I also look forward to corrections from sincere readers looking to improve this article.

Amazon finally fixes their Kindle app; support remains oblivious

I’ve been emailing and phoning and chatting with Amazon’s enthusiastic but helpless staff and dealing with their amazingly bad tech support system for a while now.

Today, I’m happy to report the horror show has ended.  Amazon released an update that fixed my problem.  I can now log in and get the books I paid for and read them.  Yay.  Of course, I’ve already switched to iBooks and decrypted ePubs.  It’s only a matter of time before Amazon abandons the mac platform altogether I suspect.  At any rate, being tied to one platform is a bad idea.  Open source is the way.

Just wanted to close the loop on it.  It’s over, for now.  God help anyone that tries to get tech support from!  🙂  Peace out.

Incompetent support continues to struggle with my simple request

Wow, this is interesting, how many ways there are to not help someone when you have a giant corporation dedicated to the worst customer support on the planet.  This has been going on so long I’m running out of clever ways to title my posts.

Click here for a video of my original issue.  Here is my latest exchange!

Your Account
Message From Customer Service

Thank you for contacting Amazon.

I’m sorry that you’ve had trouble in login with your Kindle app. I understand how disappointing it is.

I’ve checked the detail from my end and found that our technical team is still working on this issue so that you no need to explain the issue again an again.

I’ve check the master ticket status for this issue and our technical team request you to please send the screen shot of the registration screen (basically the screen which has the issue).

In this case, I’d request you to please cooperate with us and try to register the device and send the screen-shot of the registration screen (basically the screen which has the issue) so that we can forward it to the technical team to resolve this issue as earliest as possible. You

It usually takes 1-2 business days for this sort of research, but in this case it’s taking a little longer. I’m very sorry about this delay.

You can provide the screen shot with the help of below link.

Please visit the following link to provide the information we requested:

Of course, I’ve already provided a complete movie of my problem.  I clicked on the link and was amused and not at all surprised to find out it does not have a way for me to provide a screen shot with my message!

So I clicked “Send e-mail.”  I got the following response from Amazon.  You can’t make this stuff up, folks:

Hello from Amazon,

You’ve written to an address that does not accept incoming e-mails, but we have provided links to help answer some common questions.

Where’s My Stuff/Order:
Cancel Items or Orders:
Problem with an Order:
Marketplace Order Problems:
Gift Certificates:
Returns & Refunds:

Your move,!  I can’t wait to hear back from Earth’s most Customer-Centric Company with a solution to my now months-old issue.

The amazon buffoonery continues! Kindle continues to not work, customer support still flailing.

I recently wrote about amazon’s terrible Kindle support in a post called “Amazon Kindle is a hopeless mess, as is user support” and put a followup called “Follow up: in the end, failed to deliver the goods.”  So in the interest of documenting the endless parade of really crappy interactions with Amazon’s support team, I’m back.  Unsurprisingly, amazon again failed to make any progress, while pretending to make progress and keeping the drones busy.

In the latest exchange, today I got an email and a voicemail from Amazon.  The email went like this:

Hello Rich,

I wanted to let you know that I’ve received a response from our technical team, and they indicated your issue with logging in to the Kindle application on your Mac has been resolved.

If you’re still having trouble, please provide as much information as possible, including any new error messages. We can be reached using the following link:

I hope this helps! Thanks again for your patience!

Best regards,
Marlyna R.

I went to my computer with zero confidence.  I tried the Kindle app again and nothing has changed.  The behavior is identical.  The reason I knew this would be the case is that as far as I can tell there is nobody at Amazon that has even bothered to really understand my problem.

So I sent this reply:

Nope, it’s not fixed.
It behaves in exactly the same way.

And of course, got the usual reply:


This is an automatic e-mail to confirm we’ve received your e-mail
and a Customer Service associate will be in touch within the next
6 hours. In the meantime, please visit our Help Pages:

Please note: This e-mail was sent from a notification-only
address that can’t accept incoming e-mail. Please don’t reply to
this message.

Customer Service Department

I 100% guarantee that will go nowhere.  I’ll get a message saying I need to call them.  Or a request to supply more information.

What about the voicemail?  The voicemail said this:  “Hi there this message is for rich. This is Marlena calling from Amazon Kindle customer service Department. We were recently made aware that you had not been notified that our kindle for PC applications salt login issues were resolved. We wanted to go ahead and let you know and follow up with you to see if you are particular issues. Have been resolved if you still need assistance. Please give us a call back at 1 866 321 8851 again that number is 1 866 321 8851. I’ll also be emailing you as well just to confirm. Hope you have a nice day.”

So, I called the number she provided.  I was put on hold for less than a minute, thankfully. A nice lady with a Philippines accent answered.   I could tell this was front-line customer support, the usual clueless people I’ve been talking to over and over about this issue.  Sigh.  OK, so I told her I was returning a call by Marlene about an ongoing issue I was having with my Kindle.
I then asked “Do I have to explain my situation over again and start at the beginning?”
She answered “Yes.”
So I said, “OK, that’s not going to happen, good bye.” and hung up.  I am not falling for that runaround any more.

This is really fascinating, how bad is at helping its customers resolve their problems.  It’s just a huge corporation with little concern for me.  So what I do is convert their books to a decrypted format and then use iBooks, which actually works, to read it.

I’ll keep engaging with amazon’s terrible tech support as long as they want to pretend to care, just to see if they ca actually produce a result, but there is absolutely nobody there that even understands my problem yet as far as I can tell, so there is little hope they can solve it.

The saga continues, stumbling, bumbling, fumbling along in a pathetic corporate display of inefficient helplessness!

Racism is real, and is a distraction

I recently encountered a post on Medium bemoaning America, seemingly seeing us as hopelessly divided along racial, cultural or tribal lines.  People like this often place a lot of emphasis on skin color in analyzing America.  President Trump has created an hysteria, or at least a real worry, among some of my fellow liberals about the rise of racism in America.  Here is my response to that line of thinking.

“Black Christ,” Guatamala ca. 1750, oil on canvas Tue Dec 24 08:44:32 -0700 2013 1387899867 FILENAME: 164448.jpg

Dear Hopeless in America:  I’m sorry you are feeling bad, but I think you’re part of the problem. You are declaring war on everyone that looks different than you, or who doesn’t fit your cultural type or however you define yourself. The people holding the whip are not a racial group, they are not the majority, they are an economic group and are a tiny minority but dangerously powerful.

Yes, there are people like you that judge everything by race, and that’s a shame and works to the detriment of racial minorities for obvious reasons. As long as race is the focus, there is nothing you can do to help yourself if you happen to have the wrong skin color. There are plenty of disenfranchised whites, that’s what got Trump elected you might say. But I am guessing probably you see them as jerks and have no compassion for them. That’s why you just might be a racist. Skin color is just sooo important to you.

I’m sure it sucks to be called racial epithets, and knuckle dragging white racists are horrible, but my lack of concern for the exact right phrasing and sensitivity levels to make you happy is not the problem. The real problem is class class class. It’s Jeff Bezos and Chuck Schumer and Hillary Clinton and seemingly every Republican ever elected. It’s the concentration of political, economic, military and police power in a smaller and smaller set of hands, regardless of their ethnicity or culture. That would be bad even if they were not mostly white people, believe it or not.

I believe that if we change our lens to focus on the real issue which is that insiders and corporations run our government, and that education, infrastructure and health care have taken a distant back seat to endless wars and stock market profits and real estate bubbles, we can make real progress.

Amazing Thailand! Picking up a package

So in March I ordered some FYF socks for $80.  Hoping for some volleyball magic, who knows.  They look cool.

They finally arrived at my condo in Bangkok.  The process for receiving them was so amazingly inefficient.  Amazing Thailand!

  1. I got a slip in my mailbox at my condo saying there is a package at the Pra Kanong post office for me
  2. Take the BTS to Pra Kanong and find the post office
  3. come and take a number and sit and wait
  4. A guy at desk takes my number and tells me to follow him
  5. We go to another office outside and he leaves me there
  6. A man in that office looks up my information in a binder. Nope not that one, gets out another one, ah there it is.
  7. He tells me to go back into the main area and take another number and wait.
  8. I do so and am called to the same window as before.
  9. The man there enters my information into a computer.
  10. I pay him 1000 baht tariff on my 2500 baht package.  Yes that’s 40%
  11. He gives me a slip of paper and tells me to take it back outside to the outside area office
  12. I give the slip of paper to the guys in the second room.
  13. They make me sign something and give me my package

Next time you chafe at the US Postal service, remember Thailand is out there…  🙂

Follow up: in the end, failed to deliver the goods

I have talked to so many people at about my issue with my kindle.  I documented the incredibly bad experience I had in a previous post.   Here is a partial list of the people that have promised to look at it and follow up:

Harish on July 10
Prashant on July 10
Emie S. (supposedly a manager or higher level) on July 8
Thakur. Rawat on July 8
Ravinder S. on July 8
Prakash on July 3
Kaviya T. on July 3
Richa S on July 3
and numerous others that I have not documented here on phone and chat.
Each one has apologized repeatedly for my inconvenience and made empty promises to follow up.
End result?  It’s two weeks after the latest empty promise and guess what?  Zero response.
Amazingly awful support you have there, amazon!  The one good thing I can say about all this is that if I were training a company on what to avoid and mistakes that can be made, I’d find this to be a useful case study.
So what I’ve done personally is stopped using Amazon for books.  I used Calibre to convert my Kindle copyright protection to an open source format and am now using iBooks to read them.  iBooks works better than the Kindle app anyhow.