Where in the World is Alf? (Part II)

Following Part I

January 23-31, 2003

Thursday, January 23, 2003

An advantage to buying a calendar well after the year is underway is that you can get it at a deep discount. The downside is what you have to look at for the next 11 1/4th months: in my case, "Classic Farm Tractors."

Who's face is on this bill? Click here to see the denomination (as if that will be a big hint). Stumped? See (* at sub, $10,000).

The 2003 Farmer's Almanac is now out and about in a newly revised paper edition. In this Second Week After Epiphany we are told that (a) the tin can was patented in 1825, (b) the first flight of the Concorde plane took place in 1976 and (c) the first Macintosh computer went on sale in 1984. Of course there was Roe vs. Wade ... Stendahl (of The Red and the Black) was born ... gold was discovered in California ... and Martin Luther King closed banks, schools, the major exchanges and post offices (but, only in America).

Today the post brought me February's MO ... the glitzy magazine of the Mandarin Oriental Group ... and in it were two friends from The Oriental: Chef Norbert and Chef Dominique. I hope that Ning points Dominique to his picture the next time he comes into the gym.

BTW, reader Olgina of Miami correctly identified the 'missing girl' as Catherine Riesgo. Those of you who missed seeing Catherine Riesgo can flip back a few pages and follow the links to Catherine Riesgo.


Catherine Riesgo.

(*) Frequently Used Portraits on United States Paper Money

* = Notes no longer in print or circulation

Friday, January 24, 2003

At 21:26:14 EST Thursday (9:26:14 in Bangkok, on Friday) a line of code was transmitted from a computer located in a small town in the American state of Washington to a 'farm of computers' in mid-Manhattan (USA).

Right now that 'line of code' is 'sleeping' ... waiting to be found by another, and much larger bank of computers. When (and this is THE question) the roaming robot makes its sweep ... and picks up and digests the line ... the face of GOOGLE will be forever changed. And, as GOOGLE goes, so go all search engines.

In order to make things even more melodramatic THOCBDC has cobbled together an online ticking timepiece that will tell you how much time has elapsed.

Elapsed time:
2 10 12 30

While waiting for Google to make its sweep, THOCBDC offers this photograph of Annie and Watcharee clutching each other somewhere in Europe.

Annie and Watcharee

Saturday, January 25, 2003

Dear reader, yesterday (Yes, by all means, go back and check!), THOCBDC announced that a 'line of code' had been sent from a computer located in a small town in the American state of Washington to a 'computer farm' in mid-Manhattan. We went on to say that the 'line' would remain asleep until it was harvested by an unthinking robot.

Today this AP story was carried on most of the world's news services. The one below was lifted from the CNN site. Is all of this but a coincidence ... or has something truly pissed off THOCBDC?

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Traffic on the many parts of the Internet slowed dramatically for hours early Saturday, the apparent effects of a fast-spreading, virus-like infection that overwhelmed the world's digital pipelines and interfered with Web browsing and delivery of e-mail.

Sites monitoring the health of the Internet reported significant slowdowns globally. Experts said the electronic attack bore remarkable similarities to the "Code Red" virus during the summer of 2001 which also ground traffic to a halt on much of the Internet.

"It's not debilitating," said Howard Schmidt, President Bush's No. 2 cyber-security adviser. "Everybody seems to be getting it under control." Schmidt said the FBI's National Infrastructure Protection Center and private experts at the CERT Coordination Center were monitoring the attacks.

The virus-like attack, which began about 12:30 a.m. EST, sought out vulnerable computers on the Internet to infect using a known flaw in popular database software from Microsoft Corp., called "SQL Server 2000." But the attacking software code was scanning for victim computers so randomly and so aggressively -- sending out thousands of probes each second -- that it overwhelmed many Internet data pipelines.

"This is like Code Red all over again," said Marc Maiffret, an executive with eEye Digital Security, whose engineers were among the earliest to study samples of the attack software. "The sheer number of attacks is eating up so much bandwidth that normal operations can't take place."

"The impact of this worm was huge," agreed Ben Koshy of W3 International Media Ltd., which operates thousands of Web sites from its computers in Vancouver. "It's a very significant attack."

Koshy added that, about six hours after the attack, commercial Web sites that had been overwhelmed were starting to come back online as engineers began effectively blocking the malicious data traffic.

"People are recovering from it," Koshy said.

Sunday, January 26, 2003 (Super Bowl Sunday in the USA)

For everyone who missed seeing 9/11 live on TV, 1/26 may be an opportunity for 'catch-up'. According to a CNN/Reuters/BBC/AOL/NBC/Gallup poll, 80% of today's viewers will be watching the San Diego event solely for the commercials OR to witness any 'unofficially-unscheduled' terrorism. The poll went on to say that 76% of the viewers did not know the names of the teams; that 52% did not know the name of the game ... and most surprising ... only 4% cared who won.

Last night Stephani, Robin, Watcharee and I went out for our pre-Super Bowl dinner ... at Max's at Beach Place.

Watcharee did 'dress' for the game.

I opened another box of corkscrews mysteriously arrived on my door step. Like the last batch, these might have been meant for Bull.

Time for the game ...

PS Reader Derek of North America caught the clock on its last 'tock'.1

Subj: Google has your number!
Date: 1/26/2003 7:38:44 PM Eastern Standard Time
From: derek
To: corkscrew@aol.com


1 Confused readers have to go back a few pages for a re-read ... otherwise this will not make sense. New readers? Forget it ... just click here: http://www.corkscrew-balloon.com/03/01/2xxx/09a.html

Monday, January 27, 2003 (a pre-journal...the actual 'entry' for today will be equally exciting)1

This was 'mailed' from the US Embassy on Bangkok's Wireless Road to our apartment ... which is just a couple blocks downriver from The Oriental:

On Saturday, January 25, 2003 (Bangkok time), the State Department sent the following message to U.S. Embassies and Consulates worldwide and asked that it be disseminated to all U.S. citizens. The review of recommended precautions in this message is for worldwide dissemination; it is not specific to Thailand.

Among the highest priorities of the Department of State and our missions abroad is the safety and security of locally-resident Americans overseas. In the past year the Department has intervened to assist in the evacuation of Americans from half a dozen countries throughout the world, as a result of serious political or economic unrest, natural disasters, and terrorist attacks. Hundreds of expatriate Americans each year are forced by personal emergencies (e.g. death or illness in the family) to return to the U.S. on short notice. Evacuations, especially under crisis conditions, are inevitably very disruptive and distressing for those involved. The State Department routinely provides standard advice to its employees on prudent steps to take to ensure they would be prepared in the event of such an evacuation. This and other advice on crisis preparedness is available on the Department's Web site at HTTP://TRAVEL.STATE.GOV, and we are summarizing the principal points below.

The Embassy commends these elementary steps to you for your careful consideration.

We do not want American citizens to become unduly alarmed. These are precautionary measures only. Given the potential for acts of violence, terrorism, or anti-American demonstrations, we believe it is important for all citizens to maintain readiness for all possibilities in case of an emergency. We will promptly inform you of any significant developments and advise you accordingly.

The Department of State encourages all American citizens residing abroad to register their presence and obtain up-to-date information on security conditions at the nearest American Embassy or Consulate.

1 Shopping for fungibles.

Monday, January 27, 2003 (the really important part)

I discovered this unusual travel accessory while worrying about 'life'.

Tuesday, January 28, 2003

The day was a big wait for this.

Stranger people in our little readership group cast their minds back to a story that appeared in the Bangkok papers many many months ago: that about a woman who was found murdered and stuffed into a refrigerator.

Others connected this horrible murder with an early advertisement for a ... then ... modern refrigerator.

"Ah ... Alf ... what does this have to do with The State of the Union speech?"



Wednesday, January 29, 2003

David is about to move to Brazil. He's scheduled to fly to Sao Paulo on Friday before continuing on to a remote island populated by just Antarctica beer and beautiful bar girls. We had a little farewell dinner with him tonight at a local Thai restaurant: Calanga.

These two 'flappers' are lesbians who have pretty much made a home for themselves in my house.

This pistol was involved in a famous 1925 Berlin shooting of a German police officer. Now I keep the gun next to my bathroom sink.

Thursday, January 30, 2003 (another of Alf's pre-journals)

Yikes! With a war looming between the USA and Poland on one side and Iraq and France on the other side ... well ... Watcharee and I were thinking of fleeing back to the safety of Bangkok. And, then THIS happens (underlining and bold courtesy of THOCBDC):

Thailand Suspends Relations With Cambodia
Filed at 5:21 a.m. ET

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) -- Thailand sealed its border with Cambodia, recalled its ambassador and sent military planes to evacuate hundreds of terrified Thais Thursday after rioters looted and torched its embassy in the Cambodian capital.

At least one Thai man is believed to have died when a hotel was set on fire Wednesday during the riots. The unrest was ignited by a TV star's alleged comments that Cambodia's famed Angkor Wat temple should belong to Thailand.

Seven people were injured in the anti-Thailand protests, said Thai Foreign Ministry spokesman Sihasak Phuangketkeow in Bangkok.

A mob of about 1,000 people set fire to part of the Thai embassy before Cambodian security forces dispersed them by firing shots.

Thai Ambassador Chatchawed Chartsuwan said he escaped by climbing over an embassy wall. Nine other embassy staff also fled.

Roving gangs also set fire to or damaged three hotels, two restaurants, a Thai Airways office and three telecommunications company offices. Thai Airways suspended its flights to Phnom Penh.

"We have stopped all activities with Cambodia. No Cambodian will be allowed to come to Thailand and we will bring all Thai people out from Cambodia," an infuriated Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra said.

Thaksin said he had ordered a suspension of all government projects with Cambodia and recalled the ambassador. Diplomatic ties were downgraded to charge d'affaires level.

The violence was sparked by actress Suwanan Kongying's alleged comments that Cambodia illegally annexed Thai territory that includes the Angkor temple complex. A newspaper editor who first published the comments on Jan. 18 acknowledged to The Associated Press that his report was based on rumors and probably incorrect.

The alleged slight reignited centuries-old distrust in underdeveloped Cambodia of its larger neighbor.

To Cambodians, the Angkor temples are a cultural icon and a source of national pride built between the 9th and 15th centuries. Angkor Wat's silhouette adorns the Cambodian flag.

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen blamed "a small group of extremists" and rumormongers for the violence, and said relations with Thailand have reached "a level of concern."

Cambodia's chief government spokesman Khieu Kanharith apologized for the violence.

"We did not expect this to go this far ... It was a mistake. We apologize and regret what happened to Thailand and her people," he said.

Interior Ministry spokesman Brig. Gen. Khieu Sopheak said more than 100 people were in detention Thursday but no charges had been filed.

On Thursday, five C-130 planes belonging to the Thai military evacuated 511 people who had huddled at the Phnom Penh airport after fleeing for the violence. Another 100 were still waiting to be airlifted.

Thai Commerce Minister Adisai Bodharamik said the damage from the rioting was estimated at $23 million.

"I think after this incident, Thai businessmen have to think hard, more than think twice, before investing in Cambodia," Adisai told reporters.

Thaksin said the Thai armed forces were on full alert.

"In case something happens in Cambodia and its government cannot control it, I will send Thai troops to protect Thai interests and people there," Thaksin said.

Thai Defense Minister Gen. Thammarak Isarangura na Ayuthaya ordered all border checkpoints closed and said all illegal Cambodian "workers and beggars" would be expelled.

"I told the police to round them up and dump them at the border," Thammarak told reporters.

About 5,000 Cambodians were turned away at the border, most of them traders, he said.

PS: Americans living in Thailand are advised to reread the alert from the US Embassy in Bangkok.

Thursday, January 30, 2003 (non-war coverage)

To the students of Texas Christian University: do you recognize one of your Deans? Yes, that is Mary Volcansek1 and she has just extracted herself from a locked toilet in a Rome restaurant ... circa 1982. The camera gradually, frame by frame, will lock onto her easily recognized face.

To the early members of the ICCA: How many of these faces do you recognize? And, where and when was this AGM?

To old LAWSIGers and new BACKROOMers: Why is this woman drinking champagne? And where?

1 For the benefit of the GOOGLE robot. Since Mary Volcansek has so many academic publications on the Internet it is unlikely that 'my' reference will work its way any higher than page 10.

Friday, January 31, 2003

These words are to the ICCAers who casually visit here (probably only Don Bull and Nick Hunt): yesterday I posted some photos taken at an 'old' ICCA AGM and I received this letter from the wife of our deceased co-founder, Bernard Watney ... Mavis Watney:

Alf - I'm afraid I'm not going to be very much use to you, but thank you very much for two photographs of Bernard, especially the one where he is wearing a suit.

I think this was taken in London, possibly at the Screwpull, in the year that Ann Stuart did the auction.

I'm almost certain he is talking to Ann - she was a cousin. The trouble is that I can't look up the date as I sent almost all his ICCA memoranda to the States

All best wishes,

Mavis Watney

Shifting gears, these links try to explain why the current state of affairs between Thailand and Cambodia reached the flash point so quickly.

Three more corkscrews arrived.

Most of my junk mail comes to my corkscrew-balloon address. This item ranks as the most misdirected and most boring that I have ever received:

Subj: RE,2/01
Date: 1/31/2003 4:49:17 AM Eastern Standard Time
From: china-lutong@ynmail.com
To: alf@corkscrew-balloon.com

Dear Mr sir,

How are you? Nice to contact you again.We inform you that we are going to produce some VE h&r(diesel fuel injection) with following part

A=1 468 (BOSH)
B=2 468 (BOSH)
A 333 320
A 333 323
A 334 313
A 334 327
A 334 565
A 334 337
A 334 378
A 334 424
A 334 475
A 334 485
A 334 494
A 334 496
A 334 580
A 334 590
A 334 564
A 334 565
A 334 575
A 334 592
A 334 595
A 334 596
A 334 603
A 334 604
A 334 606
A 334 617
A 334 675
A 334 678
A 334 720
A 334 780
A 334 798
A 334 859
A 334 874
A 334 899
A 334 946
A 335 345
B 335 022
A 336 335
A 336 352
A 336 364
A 336 403
A 336 423
A 336 464
A 336 480
A 336 528
A 336 608
A 336 614
A 336 626
A 336 632
B 334 050
B 334 021
B 336 013

Please tell us if you need any of them.Hope to hear from you soon.

Looking forward to our favorable cooperation.


PS: After Thai students were 'allowed' a counter-bash it looks like things are returning to 'normal' (underlining and bold emphasis courtesy of THOCBDC).

Cambodia Apologizes to Thailand Over Riot

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia, Jan. 30 Cambodia apologized and offered compensation today for a riot that damaged the Thai Embassy and severely strained relations with its neighbor.

The embassy was partly burned and vandalized by mobs during a riot on Wednesday that also damaged several Thai-owned hotels, restaurants and other businesses, and left one Thai dead and seven injured.

In retaliation, the Thai government closed its borders with Cambodia, downgraded diplomatic relations and suspended economic cooperation with its smaller neighbor.

Cambodia's government apologized and said it would pay compensation "quickly and unconditionally" for damage caused to the Thai Embassy and its staff.

The violence was sparked by Cambodian news reports which turned out to be based on rumors that a Thai television actress had suggested that Cambodia's famed Angkor temple complex, a national symbol, is on land that should be part of Thailand.

"We did not expect this to go this far," said Khieu Kanharith, a government spokesman. "It was a mistake. We apologize and regret what happened to Thailand and her people."

The government statement, broadcast on radio and television, said a committee would try to find ways to compensate damaged Thai businesses. Among the companies hit was a mobile phone network belonging to the family of the Thai prime minister, Thaksin Shinawatra.

Thailand's military arranged emergency flights from Bangkok to Phnom Penh's airport today to evacuate 703 Thai citizens.

Thai officials estimated the damage at $23 million, including lost business opportunities.

Mr. Thaksin ordered a suspension of all business, cultural and other activities with Cambodia and downgraded diplomatic ties to the chargé d'affaires level.

"All ongoing government projects on technical and economic cooperation between the two countries are henceforth suspended," said an official letter to the Cambodian ambassador, who was also expelled. Thailand also withdrew its ambassador from Cambodia.

Those measures will remain in force until Cambodia gives a full explanation for its inaction against the rioters, compensates the damage and punishes the culprits, the letter said.

Thai Airways suspended flights to Phnom Penh until at least Monday. Thai authorities ordered all border crossings closed, and rounded up 67 undocumented Cambodian workers for expulsion.

In Bangkok, hundreds of Thais demonstrated outside the Cambodian Embassy. They burned the Cambodian flag and pulled out the brass seal and lettering on the embassy's wall, but dispersed after the national police chief read an appeal for calm by King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

Crowds returned after dark, but were kept away from the embassy by a large numbers of police officers.

The Thai actress at the center of the controversy, Suwanan Kongying, again denied she ever said Cambodia illegally annexed Thai territory that includes Angkor Wat.

An editor of the Cambodian newspaper that published the account of Ms. Suwanan's comments on Jan. 18 told The Associated Press that his report was based on rumors and was probably incorrect.

Next: February

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