Thailand & Cambodia 1

OK, so, like, I was in Thailand recently, and took a brief detour into Cambodia as well. Here are a few observations:

  • In all of the hotels we stayed in, each room has a slot by the door where you insert your key or keycard when you enter the room. (The person taking you to your room demonstrates this for you.) As well as giving you a convenient place to put your key, this process “turns on” the room, and the room lights and air conditioning come to life. When you leave the room and take your key, there’s a delay before the room turns off (so you don’t have to be in the dark as you gather whatever you’re taking with you). This was new to me, but my friend said that the U.S. is one of the few places where this isn’t common.
  • Occasionally we saw a few people wearing surgical-style face masks. There was no obvious pattern as to who wore them. In Thailand one of the people emptying the trash, one of the immigration officers, and a couple of people riding around Bangkok on motorcycles wore them.
  • There were lots of small motorcycles around Bangkok weaving between the cars. Often a guy would be driving, usually with a helmet, and often a girl would be riding behind him, often without a helmet. And more often than not, she would be riding side-saddle, with her hands in her lap, not holding on in any way.
  • In a public place such as an airport in the U.S., you’d generally see large trash cans with plastic bags inside them. The person emptying them lifts out the entire plastic bag and takes it away. Sometimes they’re even double-bagged. In the airport in Cambodia, the trash cans were small and did not have plastic bags. The person emptying the trash was equipped with a large pair of tongs and lifted out each piece of trash individually. We also saw this in Thailand at some point.
  • Toyotas are very common, but they have some models in Thailand that I have never seen here in the United States. I think they have a different sense of what sorts of car names are cool-sounding:
    • Corolla Altis
    • Vios (a small sedan)
    • Ventury (a large van)
    • Alphard (a minivan)
    • Vellfire (a minivan that looks just like the Alphard)

Personas and blogging

I’ve always been a computer-oriented guy, so some of you may be wondering why it took me so long to start a blog. In reply, let me offer the following long-winded explanation.

From early childhood, many of us learn to take on different personas in different facets of our lives. In elementary school, and to a greater extent in high school, I recall that most kids acted quite differently around their parents than they did around other kids. So the multiple-persona thing is a habit we acquire early on.

Later in life we may find that our family, work, and friends exist in different worlds, so we adopt a different persona for each. But sometimes these worlds collide. For example, suppose that your potential significant other (i.e. girlfriend or boyfriend) is about to meet your family (i.e. parents and/or siblings) for the first time. Up to now, the two of you have been satisfied to remain in your own private relationship-world, but now this world is about to collide with another. And usually this has to happen at some point; the relationship can’t grow any further if it must remain isolated from all other worlds. At such times the differences between worlds are glaringly obvious.

I like having multiple worlds; I wouldn’t want to be pigeonholed into one particular persona. Some talking about me might say “He is a musician” or “He is a computer programmer” but both of these statements fall short (unless you define “is” very narrowly).

So anyway, there’s this Internet thing happening, and many people take it for granted. To many younger people, the world has always been as it is, and writing things publicly online is just what one does. Are people too careless about what they post online? I can understand some people might enjoy complaining about their coworkers or boss, but really, one does need to use some common sense. Of course, nobody intelligent enough to be reading this blog would be so foolish as to write something online about someone that they wouldn’t say to their face (but I can’t speak for all you non-blog-readers out there).

But being careful about what you write does not mean that you shouldn’t write. Yet for some time I resisted the urge to start a blog. Was I nervous about people reading what I wrote?

No, there’s another issue: What online persona should I use? Which world do I want to draw ideas from? What do I want to write about? Should I write a music blog? A programming blog? Within each of these, there are subcategories. Should I write about C++? Windows? Design patterns? Python? Haskell? Monads? Category theory? Or should I write about classical music? Popular music? Jazz? Ragtime? Music theory?

If I chose more personal topics, I might find myself catering specifically to one particular world. Would I risk alienating people from the other worlds? Do I want the people I know in one world to even know that the other worlds exist?

Concerns like that seem a bit silly now for a couple of reasons. First, I have a different mindset than in the olden days and I don’t worry quite so much about such things. Second, the decision doesn’t have to be final. A blog can be changed at any time. If the topics are too fragmented, I can always move some topics to a spinoff blog.

By the way, if you are designing mobile devices for Saudi Arabia, do consider using Linux. It really rocks.

Hello there

Welcome! I’m glad you stopped by.

I’d like to tell you what this blog is all about, except I don’t know yet. Eventually it will evolve and have a clear sense of what it is and where it’s going.