October 16th, 2016

BKK Gargoyle

I left my camera home

I thought that by getting to the Thai temple at noon for a 1 pm service there would be parking in the lot behind the monks' houses, but there wasn't. And there wasn't anyone standing there as they usually do to say where the overflow parking was, because they always run a shuttle service. So I drove 1/4 mile up the road and parked in the school lot which usually has the shuttle. I was the 3rd car there.

It was drizzling steadily (it had been raining all the way from Milpitas, and 880 was treacherous in some places because they recently paved it with asphalt, so no grooves to help keep the spray from the tires down), so I dug out the umbrella which I never use and walked back to the temple.

There was a huge crowd. Much bigger than the backyard parking lot could account for. I'm guessing the memo I didn't get was the one saying park at Quarry Lake for the shuttle.

Boss and his wife and daughter were right there in the forecourt as I walked in. Had a good chat, but he went off with a friend to get some persimmons and I didn't see him again. But I saw there was a line for lunch, so I lined up. Wife & kid were at the head of the line, but after I went through the line I lost them too.

Had a nice chat in Tinglish with a woman who was here visiting, going home to Bangkok on December 1. One thing I love about this temple is no one is surprised to hear a white boy speak Thai. Probably 1/3 of the congregation is intermarried. There was a lot of food, and the donation box was there but subtle. It goes to the temple so I put in a 20.

It rained constantly, sometimes a drizzle, but mostly a fairly hard steady rain, once in a while a downpour. It seemed appropriate for a memorial to King Bhumibol, who holds the original patent on cloud seeding. Which is a small example of what a unique monarch he was. But he follows in a tradition of well educated kings, one of his ancestors became a world class astronomer, for instance.

Usually I go to the temple to see the dance recitals and listen to the classical music, they have an outstanding program for the kids. And for the fun of the festivals - all of that is done in the forecourt in front of the temple - but I had never gone inside the temple itself. While I subscribe to most of Buddha's teachings, I'm not much for religion, especially the chanting, bowing and praying hands thing. I don't understand Thai enough, and even if I did, most of the prayers are in Pali, which I don't know at all.

I found a dry spot on the walkway around the temple, under the eaves, along with 25 or so others. At about 12:30 I went around front, took off my shoes, parked my umbrella & hat, and found a folding chair near the back, well behind about a dozen people sitting on the floor in a semi-circle, listening to the abbot. He was not using the mike, and was talking too softly for me to make out more than a few words.

Little by little, minions came in with more folding chairs, and by about 1:05 there were about 200 butts in those seats. I have no idea where they all came from. And for the next 15 minutes, more chairs were scrounged up, some of them had to have the rain wiped from them, and I found myself way in the back of 90 heads. The abbot shifted to the left side, on the right side of the Buddha statue from the statue's POV. He used the mike but he still talked too softly for me to make out much. I just did the wai thing (praying hands) when everyone else did. I did hear him when he said to stand or sit. And when he called the children to sit up front.

There was a lot of chanting, and then a woman got on a mike (I could not see her) and gave an English summary of why we were there, and what the King had meant to her. It was a wonderful impromptu speech, the highlight for me is when she said when she graduated from college, the King handed the diploma to her (and to each of the graduates). It struck a chord, because at my college graduation, the Governor handed me mine.

More chanting, a little more Thai speech from the abbot, then some alms were distributed to the monks (purely ceremonial, not in the quantities they receive at festivals). People were leaving in small doses, and when one of the temple staff took the mike and announced the license plate of the car in the parking lot which had its lights on, I figured the important stuff was over, so I snuck out the side door, found my shoes, hat & umbrella and walked back to the car. It was raining steadily, and by the time I got there I was cold & wet. Since we were wearing black, I was wearing my only black jacket, faux leather which I thought was waterproof, but now I know it isn't. Only one other car was in the lot.

Drove home by a different route, longer but safer. Stopped at my favorite gas station on the way home and put 5 gallons in since I was down below 1/4 tank. The dash said I still had 140 miles of range with what was in the tank, but who knows? It took all my battery just to get to the temple, on the way back it was all gas & hybrid magic.

Home, lodged in my brain was the quote which I thought was JFK but was Shakespeare, and the plan was to create a meme with the king's picture, the quote, and a caption linking the quote to the king. But the web search gave me a photo which melted my heart. It was of the mob along the funeral procession route, and they were all holding up pictures of the king. His picture is on all the paper currency, and has been for almost 70 years. I don't think there is a Thai or tourist who doesn't have a picture of the king. So I did this:

Between facebook bouts, I watched the Bills destroy the 49ers. Colin Kaepernick played well. Unfortunately, most of the rest of the team played like crap. My next meme will be a piece of Swiss cheese wearing a 49er's jersey. The offensive line was constantly being penetrated, the defense let running backs slip past miles further than they should have. By the 4th quarter I was rooting for the other side.

There was one good thing about the game. Sportsmanship. There were few, if any, unsportsmanlike conduct fouls, facemasks, etc. One time when a 49er couldn't quite avoid a slight helmet-to-helmet graze when the Bill with the ball tried to duck a tackle, he went over to the guy and apologized. Players from both teams helped each other up after a play. There was no taunting. No fights.

I had some chips and dip while the game was on, then went to other DVR stuff for dinner. Took a container of chicken soup out and defrosted it. By now I was feeling like if I didn't do something I'd come down with a cold. A shot of Southern Comfort mixed with a shot of Sabra didn't help. Chicken soup did. So did a pair of aspirin.

South Park, and Shark Tank (2 episodes), have been viewed. Raiders' game, NASA Unexplained, TMZ have not.

I tried the meat stick on the top tier of the cat tree again, but Spook couldn't figure out how to grab it. It's still up there. I think she has a vision problem, maybe astigmatism. Something which would explain why something on top of a surface looks like it's below. I'll ask the vet when we see her a week from tomorrow.

Plans for tomorrow:
NOVA, see if I've made it into the class from #2 on the waitlist
4 pm phone screen from Planet Labs