Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Sometimes You Eat the Bear...

Sometimes you eat the bear. Sometimes the bear eats you. I recently found out the bear has not only been eating me, but treating me as an endless buffet.

We returned to the US from Thailand in March. In April, we moved to an apartment in downtown Des Moines and I started covering the Democratic candidates for President. We enjoyed living in Des Moines and I was busier than I had been in years. Life was good.

In May, I had some pain and stiffness in my legs that I dismissed as age and basically ignored it. I’ve always been healthy. I haven’t spent significant in time in a hospital since I was 4 or 5. Never had surgery or a broken bone. Traveling and eating pretty much like a local in Thailand, Mexico, Burma, Cambodia and more, I never had a problem. Healthwise, I’ve led a practically charmed life doing stupid things and never experiencing any consequences for those stupid things.

More after the jump...

Sunday, December 8, 2019

Photos of the Year 2019 Edition

One of the last pictures I made in Bangkok of Wat Arun at sunset. 

2019 was a year of change. We returned to the US after seven great years in Bangkok. We live in Des Moines, Iowa now and I spent most of the year covering the Democratic candidates touring southern Iowa in the run up to the Iowa caucuses, the first presidential selection event of the 2020 campaign. 

You'll see a lot of political photos in here, along with some photos of daily life that I've made here. Enjoy. 

January - Nakhon Pathom, Thailand, Women monks from Wat Songdhammakalyani walk through the community on their alms round. The women monks exist in a gray space in Thai Buddhism. The Sangha Supreme Council, the organization that governs Thai Buddhism, doesn't allow women to be ordained or allow male monks to participate in ordination ceremonies for women. Most of the women monks in Thailand went to Sri Lanka to be ordained. A few went to India. There are about 270 women monks in Thailand. There are more than 250,000 male monks. 

January - Samut Prakan, Thailand, Morning commuters come into Samut Prakan on a ferry. From here most of the them will head into Bangkok, just a few kilometers away. 

January - Bangkok, A mass of polluted air settled over Bangkok and people wore breathing filters everywhere they went.

January - Bangkok, Mid morning, the sky was gray and the air was foul during Bangkok's pollution emergency. 

January - Bangkok, Passengers on the BTS Skytrain all wearing breathing filters because of the pollution emergency. 

February - Bangkok, People at a Chinese Buddhist temple in Bangkok's Chinatown make offerings of incense sticks and food during Chinese New Year. 

February - Sihanoukville, Cambodia, A Chinese tourist runs past a Cambodian construction worker on the beach in Sihanoukville. Chinese money and business interests are changing the once quiet fishing community of Sihanoukville and turning it into a gambling destination for Chinese tourists. 

February - Sihanoukville, a Cambodian worker buys food a street vendor in front of the more than 80 casinos in Sihanoukville. 

February - Sihanoukville, a Buddhist monk collects alms from a community on the edge of Sihanoukville. The casinos have been a mixed blessing. They bring jobs to Sihanoukville but they've also driven up land prices and forced many of the people who lived in the city to move out.  

February - Sihanoukville, a Chinese worker jumps out of the transport that takes him to and from a job site. Many of the casinos employ Chinese and Cambodian workers. There are tens of thousands of Chinese workers in Sihanoukville. Many work in the casinos but most work in the construction trades. They take jobs that Cambodians would otherwise have.  

February - Ban Laem, Thailand, Workers on a salt farm try to get the best work assignments. Workers are paid based on the amount of salt they gather and bring to the warehouse. 

February - Bangkok, Sikh men in the Sikh temple in Bangkok at the morning meal. Sikh temples around the world host a meal after morning services that is open to all. 

February - Bangkok, The tattooed back on a worker in the Soi Cowboy entertainment district. 

February - Bangkok, A porter in the Flower Market looks at his smart phone while he waits for a client. 

March - Bangkok, Chinese tourists line up for selfies in a parking garage. 

March - Bangkok, A woman prays on Ash Wednesday in a Catholic Church in Bangkok. 

August - Prole, Iowa, Former Vice President Joe Biden waits to walk into a campaign event south of Des Moines. I've covered a lot of the Democratic candidates in Iowa

November - Des Moines, Joe Biden works the rope line after a campaign event. 

December - Des Moines, Sen Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), a candidate for President, finishes a campaign speech. 

April - Harlan, Iowa, US Sen Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) leaves a campaign event in Harlan. Sen Gillibrand was one of the first to drop out of the race after running into polling and fund raising headwinds. 

April - Des Moines, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) at a house party early in her campaign for President. Sen. Harris dropped out in December. 

November - Waverly, Iowa, Sen Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) waits to enter a Presidential campaign event in Waverly.

April - Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Sen Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)  speaks at a Presidential campaign event.

April - Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Sen Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)  makes a "pinky swear" with a girl at a Presidential campaign event.

August - Des Moines, Mayor Pete Buttigieg (D-South Bend, IN) buys a pork chop on a stick at the Iowa State Fair.

April - Des Moines, A man opposed to Buttigieg heckles him during a rally in Des Moines. 

August - Des Moines, Congressman Seth Moulton (D-MA) was a Presidential candidate for a few months. He bought pork belly on a stick at the Iowa State Fair. 

November - Des Moines, Governor Deval Patrick (D-MA) was a late entrant to the Presidential race. He made his first Iowa visit in November. 

March - Bloomington, Minnesota, Congressperson Ilhan Omar does selfies with fans after an interfaith prayer service at a mosque in Bloomington.  

November - Des Moines, Supporters of President Trump picket a Bernie Sanders campaign event in Des Moines. 

August - Des Moines, A supporter of President Trump stands in a sea of people at a campaign event for former Massachusetts Gov. William Weld, a Republican. Weld is running an insurgent campaign against incumbent Trump.  

April - Des Moines, Thai and Lao Buddhists gather for New Year celebrations in Des Moines. The traditional Thai/Lao New Year is in April. 

March - Bloomington, Minnesota, Muslim women at an interfaith prayer service in Bloomington. 

June - Des Moines, Eid al Fitr services to mark the end of Ramadan in Des Moines. 

June - Central City, Iowa, A boy holds a rooster during poultry check in at the Linn County Fair.  

June - Central City, Iowa, Mutton Bustin' at the Linn County Fair.

October - Polk City, Iowa, Combining corn near Polk City, Iowa. 2019 was a bad year for farmers in the Midwest. They were slammed by low prices, a result of President Trump's tariffs on China, and bad weather, a likely result of Climate Change. 

November - Des Moines, US Marine Corps First Sgt. Michael Sodergren holds a folded United States flag during the reinterment service of US Marine Corps Reserve Private Channing Whitaker in Glendale Cemetery. Pvt. Whitaker was killed in the Battle of Tarawa and buried in the South Pacific. His remains were exhumed and returned to Iowa this fall. 

July - Des Moines, Newly minted US citizens wave American flags after a naturalization ceremony in Des Moines. 

November - Des Moines, Santa Claus walks down the street in the Valley Junction neighborhood of Des Moines. 

Finally, most of the photos in my archive are available for editorial use or self fulfillment as prints. If you see something you'd like to use or just hang on the wall, click on the "Add to Cart" button and follow the onscreen prompts.