Thursday, December 10, 2015


DISCLAIMER:  There is a lot of my medical nonsense in this.  I apologize for that.  I put it in because a) people seem to enjoy reading about it - I've no idea why  b) going to a hospital in a foreign country can be a bit scary  c) it may give insight - not complimentary - into the mindset and practices of medical people in other countries  d) it's what I'm up to.  If I have to suffer, you do too.


My body annoys me.  If there was a way to become the 'ghost in the machine' or cyborg, I'd be interested.  Damn medical science.  (See book reviews below!)

Earlier today, I was feeling pretty good and decided to attempt the walk from Siem Reap to Angkor Wat.  I'd done it a few years ago and wanted to do it again.  It's a long damn walk but I had a good book going on the phone and needed the exercise.   Let's go for it.

Part way there, my foot suddenly said "Nope!" and went back into the massive pain thing.

I suspect it is my full body arthritis.  Last time it happened, I went to a doctor who took xrays and all that and - no surprise - had no medical idea what was up.

So now I'm back hobbling around on the cane.  Very glad I'd bought a collapsible cane a couple months back and kept it with me the last time this shit happened.

I was doing OK until Jana​ exerted some sort of long distance mind control on me causing a unquenchable hunger for KFC.  Hobbled my ass there, ate a mess of chicken then back for 'self medication' (read as alcohol).  More fun than pain killers.


Note, my life has no zombies in it other than the people attached to their cellphones and what I'm reading.  See also, book reviews below.

Decided it was time to head over to the pharmacy and see what kind of drugs we could get and so forth.  They didn't seem happy just issuing me anti gout medicine to see if it would help so I went across the street to the local hospital.

At the hospital, all of the medical staff had left.  Seriously, everyone.  It was their lunchtime.  The whole idea of revolving shifts and such hasn't come to this part of the world yet.

When I returned from lunch, the staff had reappeared.   I asked for a doctor who spoke English.

L:  "How much for a uric acid blood test?"

Dr:  "Five dollars.  Plus the ten dollar consultation fee."

L:  "What consultation?"

Dr:  "What do you think we are doing now."

L:  "I'm just telling you what I want.  There is no actual consultation going on.  If I need a prescription and you have to look at drug interaction, that's a consultation.  Using the medical knowledge and such.  I'm just asking for a blood test."

Dr:  "Um...  It's just something the hospital charges.  You can get a blood test with no consultation fee outside of the hospital."

L:  "How long for the results?"

Dr:  "Don't know - it depends on how many other people are getting blood tested."

I thanked him kindly and went across the street to the independent blood test place.  Yes, I know where it is.  Been in this town too goddamn long.

Three dollars, fifteen minutes and no strange 'consultation fee' later, I had the results.  Slightly high but not huge (7 is upper end of normal, I was at 7.5).

Yes, I had to order the blood test in French because that's all they had it in.  Though the staff didn't speak French, they spoke English.  Weird but if you need medical stuff, knowing some French is probably helpful.  Not that 'acede de euric' or some such is that far from English.

Back to the hospital.  Apparently, I didn't thank the doctor kindly enough because now he was bitchy and didn't want to consult with me at all.  He pointed out several times that he had the 'right to refuse treatment' to anyone.  No, he had never heard of the Hippocratic Oath.  It was like dealing with a petulant child.  I found a different doctor in the same hospital.

Not  the guy I spoke to, but same expression.

This one sounded knowledgeable and did try to scam me out of some extra money after we'd 'consulted'.  Twenty five.  I gestured toward the front and said "They said it was ten."

He accepted ten and gave me his business card, telling me to contact him if I needed anything else.

Oddly, I paid the money straight to the doctor instead of to the hospital who would then presumably pay the doctor a salary.

This would explain why the first doctor was experiencing drama.

Note that I don't blame the first doctor - I blame myself more.  It was clearly me failing the teaching of "How to Win Friends and Influence People".  Fortunately, he works in a hospital in case someone needs to call the Wambulance.

I suppose another way to look at it is that the first doctor is down a tenner ($10 USD) due to not being in control of his emotions.  Read as 'professional'.  But, there is no faster way to get on someone's bad side than messing with their money or income.

According to the second doctor, one of the meds I'm on might be messing with my kidneys just a bit, causing the release of more uric acid.  The simple solution is to switch medicine.

Unfortunately, I've already got about three months of pills sorted.  Guess what that means?  Right.  It can't be done.  It is simply not possible (I checked) to pick out all of the one pill as all of the pills came from different sources and look different.  In other words, I can't pick out one certain medicine because it may be in five different forms from five different nations.

Well, shit.

It sucks.

Knowing kidneys are involved, I'm going to try to drink more fluids.  I might even try buying a bit more medicine and then alternating days with the new and old drugs.  I'll figure something out.

No way can I say "Well, fuck, let's just throw out a few hundred dollars worth of pills because they're not possible to sort."

The downside of pre-sorted pills.


And the fuckery continues!

Despite using my Paypal card a couple times successfully in Cambodia, Paypal suddenly got it into it's tiny automated brain that there was trouble.

It decided to lock me out of everything.

Well, there goes a couple hours I'll not see again, blessed Skype and got on the horn.  (What an expression.  Did we use to use horns to talk?  Some people still use their cellphones as though they think they are...)

It eventually came down to ID.  I needed to show them one.  They didn't like my government issued card - said it didn't have enough information on it.  I figured after all this time my drivers license would be expired and naturally, my passport was still out to the capital to get the visa extended.

I knew the fuckery train had my name on it.  If I said "Oh, let me go get the passport" something would prevent it.  And the Paypal offices would be closed when I got back.  Turns out both things were true.

So, I sort through my small pile of documents, wondering why the fuck it would matter if the driver's license is out of date.  I mean, it is still you, right?  Do you expire?  More bureaucratic crap that doesn't really matter.

It turns out that my drivers' license (lo!) still had a bit of time on it.  Weird.  Those things last for awhile.  I snapped a photo and sent it off.  Everything is apparently fine now.

Went to pick up my passport but wouldn't you know it - today is 'international humanitarian day' or some such.  The fat cat government employees get the day off.  Nobody else in Cambodia (and possibly the world) does but they do.  Result?  No passport for two more days.

I attempted to look shocked so as not to piss off the fuckery train as it passed me by.

When I got back, I tried calling Paypal.  Wanted to find out the date I needed to check back with them to let them know I was still 'on vacation'.  Wouldn't you know it, their offices were...closed...



My one word review:  Addictive.  8/10.  Note, the author told me that next year, three books in a new series are coming out.  Presumably this is set in the same world.

The eight book set is pretty much just one big book.  Anyone wanting to run a tabletop RPG set in a zombie world would be very happy to get ahold of these books.  (Side note:  My spell correct didn't have 'ahold' in it.  Are you kidding me?  Double checked it - thinks it's real.  Apparently, I'm starting to use more archaic words than my spell check comes loaded with.  Makes me feel really sorry for immortal people.)


No, I don't dig the cover art.  Book is better.

You into MMO's?  Reading?  Urban fantasy?

Check this out.

Written by a young(ish) Russian.  His first name is Dmitri though why he shortens it to D. for his English speaking audiences is a mystery.  The Greek rooted name has some famous people named that including a liberator of Moscow.  Maybe he doesn't like Moscow.  Who knows.  A lot of Russians don't.

Apparently, this guy uses his own money to get his works translated into English.  Smart as I'm thinking that is a bigger market.  Through reading one of his crowd funding pages, I discovered that it is 7000-15000 USD to get a book translated.  A good chunk of change.

Now that's a lot of rubles!

Those interesting asides...uh...aside, the series is pretty interesting.  When the author first gets going, he does spend a lot of time giving stats and things like that.  Slows the story down considerably but it did make me pine for the 'good ole days' of EQ1.  Not enough to put myself through that fucking torture again, but a bit of nostalgia.

The story itself I find interesting and it slowly creeps into you.

The basic premise is that they've found a way to get 'deus ex machina' (Latin:  the ghost in the machine).  This time in a literal fashion.  What can first start as a 'plug into the pod and you are there' can lead - for fortunate and unfortunates alike - into 'and you're stuck there'.   While  being perpetually young and immortal can be quite a boon, it is doubly so for the terminally ill, old and disabled.

The other twist - the developers have lost control of the game.  For those who have ever played the old RPG "Paranoia", it's a bit like that but the computer seems less crazy and evil.

The computer is your friend!

There are currently seven books, the first four are out on audio.

Not sure of my rating yet as at the time of this writing I am part way through the second book.  As of now, I'd probably go 6/10.  Given how hard my ratings are, that's pretty good.  Shit, if I get past the first fifteen minutes of listening we have a rare and wondrous flower!

More next time, true believers!

Thursday, December 3, 2015



Walking down the street and espied a guy walking the opposite direction toward me. "Trouble", thinks I. "Probably a con man who will try to talk me up."

Sure enough, he stops me and launches into his spiel alternatively telling me I am a 'lucky man' and 'do you know what your trouble is'. Push/pull technique. "Well, I know what unsolicited advice is worth." I retort. He is trying to come off as some sort of mystic who has just happened to run across me and has a message.

[Any real mystics would know the best way to get my attention is to hand me ten thousand dollars and a crossroads to meet at after a couple hours. Gives me time to get to the bank and get the money changed, make sure it is real. A crossroads is still public so I'm less worried about getting rolled.]

Sadly, this guy's English isn't good enough to get more than the very basic responses from me. I'm thinking if you are going to scam someone in a new language you need to get pretty fluent in it. Eventually he needed my input. "Where you from?"

"Say goodbye!" I responded.

It took him a couple of repeats to get it, so entrenched in his anticipated responses. Then, he just left without a word - which was a mercy.

Being able to read people - at least on some basic level (always learning, pity I'm not immortal) is something I'm very happy with.


You don't feel comfortable cleaning your gun unless a different loaded gun sits beside you.

Notching your gun belt each kill would weaken or destroy the gun belt.

Having so many scars people often mistake you for Frankenstein's monster.


Found out I should not leave my phone in my pocket when applying talcum powder to my torso.  Felt like a pretty 'duh' move.  Did I mention it is damn hot here?  I do feel a bit bad for all of the people who suffer through the cold but apparently they like it well enough not to expat.

In better news, it seems there is a chance that paying for an entire month may cause the price of the room to drop by perhaps a third.  Honestly, I didn't even check on it because the place is so cheap.  It may be one of the few places in Siem Reap with air conditioning for $10 per night.  Aside from the three hour nightly concert of xylophone music (which in the US I think may only be in grade schools and huge concerts) it is a pretty decent place.

They even make sure to give me a couple bottles of water every day.  It could be that I walk in looking like I was just playing the 'who wants to drink from the fire hose' game after wandering around during the heat of the day for a few hours every day.

We'll see after the guy talks to his sister who seems to be running the show.  She seems like a shrewd businessperson and I'm thinking the price won't drop but we'll see.


Demon Accord series

Honestly, I didn't expect to like them.  They have painfully overused fantasy elements.  The indestructible super hero, the sexy vampires, werewolf pack mentality, no ugly (read as 'realistic') people etc.

So why did I try it out?  Main answer - it's a series.

While there are some 'stand alone' books I like, they generally piss me off.  When you are done reading, it's over.  No more.  And anyone who has ever met me knows there is nothing more I enjoy than overindulgence.

Why do I like this series?  I have no fucking idea.  I'm up to book four and haven't flagged.  I would compare it to a simplified Dresden or a 'Bill the Vampire' (but without the slapstick) type of series.

Check it out if you enjoy urban fantasy.

Book review, Adrian's Undead Diary series by Chris Philbrook

Normally, I'm not a big fan of zombie books.  The buxom girl looks back while fleeing, trips over something gets eaten.  All that kind of crap.

It will take a better psychologist than I am to figure out why the hell zombie books/TV/movies are so popular.  I suspect it is a combination of first world guilt, boredom with the status quo, the need for massive change and humans desire for some sort of global apocalypse.  Until it happens, of course.  Nobody got real excited about the Black Death when it was under way but there have always been religious nuts who forecast that very soon the apocalypse will be upon us.  And other nutters who listen.

I'm not a huge fan of zombie fiction.

This book is a lot like World War Z (which I didn't like and the movie was a 'WTF has Hollywood done') so if you like that, you may well enjoy this.

I'm not sure why I enjoy this book.  Part of it may be that the main character isn't the kind of tool that you yell 'What is wrong with your brain!' and end up hoping the zombies will messily get.  He strikes me as a calm, thoughtful individual who is doing what he needs to in order to survive.  He has emotions which creep out small ways but he holds himself together admirably.

About a third of the way through the first book and am doing fine in this massive series thus far.  While it may turn to crap later, thus far I'm enjoying the book.  (Update, into sixth book - check out this series if you enjoy zombie stuff.  Even if you don't you might end up getting hooked.)

Also, the audio reader is good.  Very good.

For RPG gamers, this series (or at least the first couple books - not past that yet) should probably be a 'must read' for any GM wanting to run a long term zombie campaign.

One word review:  Addictive.  8/10.


Zombie Tales:

The downside about zombie stuff seems to be that it follows the same story arc. Since I'm currently reading a zombie book series, I'm going to try to list them here. These may not always be in this order and some of them may be mixed, depending on the plot.

Phase 1: The shit has broken out. Everyone tries to come to grip with the new reality of zombies bite bite biting everyone.  At some point, one or more of the characters will become bitten or infected - usually through some sort of easily avoidable mistake.  When the others discover one of their group has become infected, more drama ensues.

Phase 2: The looting phase. Humans need a huge amount of shit to live. Water, shelter, food, Twinkies, guns and so on. All of this must be hauled back to...

Phase 3: The set up of the fort. In addition to making it zombie proof, it needs to be hidden and human proof because of the...

Phase 4: Raiders! AKA the 'who is the new asshole who wishes to become the next Lord Humungus. Always one will arise with his band of raiders. The always want YOUR shit.

Phase 5: Fighting of Lord Humungus. Lots of fighting. Sure, most of the population of the world has died and zombies are busy trying to infect everyone but by now fighting stupid zombies has gotten old. Fighting other humans is the new red. So to speak.

Phase 6: Resolution of the fight with Lord Humungus and the rebuilding of society.

Phase 7:  Struggle for the leadership of the group.

Phase 8:  Integration of zombies with everyday life; news service.

Note that in most tabletop RPG's, usually only phase 1 and 2 is usually hit. I think there are a combination of reasons why such as the group only meets on the second Thursday of alternative months (ie 'unmotivated gamers') and combat is much easier than story (ie 'lazy or inept GM's/players). Also, maybe the logistics of tracking how many shotgun shells you have left for your aging twelve gauge have just gotten to cumbersome. While I'm sure that there are many gamers who have taken it beyond the first two phases, unless I was GM'ing, I didn't see it in three or four decades of gaming.

Thanks to Kevin D., Stephanie T. and Travis B. for their great input.

Further reading:

If you are wanting to write zombie stuff, this and this may be of assistance.

What other phases did I miss?


Note - all prices given are in USD as that is their currency here.  Many tourists do get suckered into buying Cambodian reil but don't fall for it.  Those are only used for small change (a 1000 reil bill is twenty five cents) or by people who don't know better.

Mexican food at 'Viva' restaurant - 5-9

Lovely margarita in the half liter size (why go for less?) also at 'Viva', 5

Indian food with large bottle of water, 4 at 'India Gate' restaurant though it costs more elsewhere.

Laundry per kilo, 1

Room - I've found that the average cost is about 20-30.  This is fine if you are traveling with another person and splitting the bill (or have more money than this poor author) but a horrible price for me.  Finding cheaper  places takes a day or two.  Booking on the internet is a terrible idea, especially since many of the places are no where close to 'Pub Street' - of which you want to be in easy walking distance.

8% - getting the bank to do a CC transaction, less if you take your chances with the ATM's.  Which may or may not work.

Bottle of cheap wine, 5.

Alcohol, about 50-60% of the price within the USA as they don't have 'sin tax' as they aren't brought up to feel bad about alcohol and tobacco.

Packet of smokes, 1.  This is a bad country to come to if you are trying to give up smoking.


{{2011}} London, GB | Rail N Sail | Amsterdam, Netherlands | Prague, Czech Republic | Budapest, Hungary | Sarajevo, Bosnia | Romania | Chisinau, Moldova | Ukraine: Odessa - Sevastopol | Crossed Black Sea by ship | Georgia: Batumi - Tbilisi - Telavi - Sighnaghi - Chabukiani | Turkey: Kars - Lost City of Ani - Goreme - Istanbul | Jordan: Amman - Wadi Rum | Israel | Egypt: Neweiba - Luxor - Karnak - Cairo | Thailand: Bangkok - Pattaya - Chaing Mai - Chaing Rei | Laos: Luang Prabang - Pakse | Cambodia: Phnom Penh | Vietnam: Vung Tau - Saigon aka Ho Chi Minh City

{{2012}} Cambodia: Kampot - Sihanoukville - Siem Reap - Angkor Wat | Thailand: Bangkok | India: Rishikesh - Ajmer - Pushkar - Bundi - Udaipur - Jodhpur - Jasalmer - Bikaner - Jaipur - Agra - Varanasi | Nepal: Kathmandu - Chitwan - Pokhara - Bhaktapur - (Rafting) - Dharan | India: Darjeeling - Calcutta Panaji | Thailand: Bangkok - again - Krabi Town | Malaysia, Malaka | Indonesia: Dumas - Bukittinggi - Kuta - Ubud - 'Full Throttle' - Gili Islands - Senggigi | Cambodia: Siem Reap | Thailand: Trat | Turkey: Istanbul | Georgia: Tbilisi

{{2013}} Latvia: Riga | Germany: Berlin | Spain: Malaga - Grenada | Morocco: Marrakech - Essauira - Casablanca - Chefchawen - Fes | Germany: Frankfurt | Logan's Home Invasion USA: Virginia - Michigan - Indiana - Illinois - Illinois - Colorado | Guatemala: Antigua - San Pedro | Honduras: Copan Ruinas - Utila | Nicaragua: Granada | Colombia: Cartagena | Ecuador: Otavalo - Quito - Banos - Samari (a spa outside of Banos) - Puyo - Mera

{{2014}} Peru: Lima - Nasca - Cusco | Dominican Republic | Ukraine: Odessa | Bulgaria: Varna - Plovdiv | Macedonia: Skopje - Bitola - Ohrid - Struga | Albania: Berat - Sarande | Greece: Athens | Italy: Naples - Pompeii - Salerno | Tunisia: Hammamet 1

{{2015}} Hammamet 2 | South Africa: Johnnesburg | Thailand: Hua Hin - Hat Yai | Malaysia: Georgetown | Thailand: Krabi Town | Indonesia:
Sabang Island | Bulgaria: Plovdiv | Romania: Ploiesti - Targu Mures | Poland: Warsaw | Czech Republic: Prague | Germany: Munich | Netherlands: Groningen | England: Slough | Thailand: Ayutthaya - Khon Kaen - Vang Vieng | Cambodia: Siem Reap

{{2016}} Thailand: Kanchanaburi - Chumphon | Malaysia: Ipoh - Kuala Lumpur - Kuching - Miri | Ukraine: Kiev | Romania: Targu Mures - Barsov | Morocco: Tetouan

{{2017}} Portugal: Faro | USA: Virginia - Michigan - Illinois - Colorado | England: Slough - Lancaster | Thailand: Bangkok | Cambodia: Siem Reap

{{2018}} Ukraine: Kiev - Chernihiv - Uzhhorod

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