Bougainvillea in Thailand

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Many people around the world are familiar with this plant, which is actually a native of tropical Brazil, the bougainvillea. It is a genus of flowering plants that is commonly seen in Latin America, the Caribbean and Southeast Asia because of the similar tropical climate. I’ve often seen this plant in southern California gardens.
The most common ornamental variety of bougainvillea is the paper flower, Bougainvillea glabra. This variety has bracts that look a lot like paper and is the quality from which it gets the name “paper flower.” These bracts come in a multitude of colors from pink to orange to white. In the center of the bracts is the small white flower. The colored parts of the plant which we normal would think of as being the flower is actually not, but does help draw attention to the smaller, inconspicuous flower.

Bougainvillea happens to be a very popular ornamental plant in Thailand. Since this plant requires very little care, many municipalities use it in landscaping. I’ve often seen bougainvillea planted in the center divider of roads. The plant seems to thrive in Thailand’s warm climates. Many times, you’ll see an old abandoned bougainvillea plant with a very thick stem but still thrives in the conditions of Thailand’s climate. Bougainvillea also has thorns as a natural inhibitor to be nibbled on by wandering livestock.

Thais love this plant because it is easy to care for. Often, you can get a cutting for free simply by asking a friend. Thai gardeners are skilled at grafting different colored “paper flowers” to the same root stock so that a single plant will have many colors. They have also developed so many colors of the “paper flower” that some people get addicted to simply collecting the different colors. Some of the plants also have many more bracts than normal and create a stunning puff of color. Additionally, there can be variations in the leaf color such as the normal green and varigated.

 

Flower Tempura in Nakhon Pathom

While browsing information about Thailand and flowers, I came across this interesting story on the ThingsAsian website describing a restaurant in Nakhon Pathom which serves dishes made with flowers. The restaurant makes sure that the flowers are grown chemical free so that the dishes are safe to eat. Their signature dish is flower tempura served with sweet chili sauce. They also have an orchid salad served with a sugar and vinegar dressing.

I think that this restaurant is experimenting with a unique ingredient. It’s an interesting idea to eat flowers but most of us would not even consider them as a food. However, I wouldn’t advise eating any flower that you could buy in a typical market since they are most likely loaded with pesticides and chemical fertilizers.

Read more here

Flexible, High-Paying Jobs for Women

I saw this article on Yahoo! today and after I read it I realized that I have considered each of these careers at some point or another. Each of these careers appeals to me for some reason and then I discover that another good point of these careers is that women are able to reach higher paying levels on these career paths when compared to others. I guess I’m just naturally attractive to anything that is more likely to result in more money.

Great Jobs that Profit Women: Five Flexible Careers with Man-Sized Paychecks

by Kate McIntyre

 
Even today in the 21st century, a significant pay gap exists between working men and women in the United States. According to the National Committee on Pay Equity, in 2006 women earned approximately 25 percent less than men in the same occupational group with similar qualifications. This figure is especially distressing because it hasn’t changed appreciably in the last decade. The National Committee on Pay Equity estimates that this wage gap may not close until 2057.

What could explain this disparity? A December 2006 article in the New York Times cites two reasons: gender discrimination and women’s choices to work less than full-time or to stay at home to care for children. Though gender discrimination remains a lingering, insidious issue, women have more options than ever for flexible, lucrative employment. Here are five great jobs for women that are narrowing the gender wage gap.

1. Personal Financial Advisor

Personal financial advising provides independence, which is great for women. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), one-third of personal financial advisors are self-employed–they set their own hours and schedules and choose how many clients they advise. Also, women often have exceptional communication skills, essential when they explain complicated financial concepts to advisees. You’ll need at least a bachelor’s degree in business, finance, or a related field along with a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) certification to call yourself a CFP. CFP courses are available online. The BLS reports that personal financial advisor is one of the ten fastest growing occupations through 2016. Median earnings for financial advisors in 2006 were $66,590 per year.

2. Psychologist/Therapist

A career in psychology offers the opportunity to help people find solutions for their emotional issues. Areas of specialization include industrial, clinical, and school psychology. School psychologists work with educators, administrators, and parents to provide a nurturing learning environment for children. They may help students with learning disabilities, behavioral issues, or emotional problems. The schedule usually allows for the same time off as the students and teachers. Because 34 percent of psychologists are self-employed, this career offers flexibility as well. A doctoral degree is usually required to practice psychology at a school, but licensing requirements differ by state. Many family therapists practice with a master’s degree, and both the master’s and the doctorate can be earned online. The BLS reports a median income for 2006 of $61,290 for clinical, counseling, and school psychologists.

3. Entrepreneur

In 2007, women owned over half the businesses in the US. Part of what makes self-employment so enticing for women is the strong networking and support systems in place for women entrepreneurs, along with incredible flexibility. Entrepreneurs parlay their ideas into money-making reality, but a good idea isn’t enough. You’ll want to know business principles like bookkeeping, safety regulations, labor laws, and local licensing requirements. Entrepreneur training programs or business courses in entrepreneurship can give you an edge, as can a business administration degree with a focus in entrepreneurship. Earning potential is unlimited, if you’re the next Debbi Fields or Mary Kay. As far back as the turn of the Twentieth Century, Mme. C.J. Walker said of the millions she made on her Wonderful Hair Grower, “I got my start by giving myself a start.”

4. Education Administrator

Education administrators can work at all levels, from elementary school principals to college deans. They manage staffs of teachers and administrators and often serve as the public face of their institutions, so they must have superlative interpersonal skills. The field of education has always been attractive to women for its progressive human resources policies and the potential for time off during the summer. Most education administrator jobs require a master’s or doctorate degree in education. According to the BLS, administrators at elementary and secondary schools had median salaries of $77,740 in 2006, while post-secondary administrators made $73,990 with salaries ranging significantly higher in some positions and locations.

5. Human Resources Manager

Women have always been the human resources managers of their homes–making sure their family is functioning at its peak potential and that each member feels well cared-for and valued. Women’s communication skills and empathy often distinguish them in human resources, whether they are training staff or handling disbursement of compensation and benefits. If you are looking for more control over your schedule once your career is established, HR consulting can be a great option. Many bachelor’s and master’s degree programs in management offer an emphasis in human resource management. The BLS reports a 2006 median salary of $88,510 for human resources managers.

Some women may deal with personal pressures and societal expectations differently than men do, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find a satisfying, inspiring, and lucrative career. If you begin your career search with a clear idea of what your ideal job is–both now and years into the future–you may have to compromise less than you might have imagined to find a job with serious responsibilities and fair compensation. With some smart planning, you really can have it all.

Source: Yahoo!http://education.yahoo.net/degrees/articles/featured_great_jobs_that_profit_women.html

Water Buffalo Near My School

The small herd of water buffalo that wander around in the open property near my school are enjoying all of the mud that the recent rains have brought. There seem to be several animals in the herd. Some of them are younger animals and a few of them are albinos. We don’t see the water buffalos very often, so it is fun when we do see them.

It has been raining every few days this week and the water buffalo have been seen wallowing in a low area adjacent to the school’s building. During breaks, the students peer out at the water buffalo and observe them as they charge through the mud. These city kids are not used to seeing water buffalo in their daily lives. The animals don’t seem to do much other than walk around looking for vegetation to munch and lie in the mud. However, it is a interesting sight to see the water buffalo living in Bangkok’s highly populated areas.

Appreciating Being At Home

There are a lot of things you don’t fully appreciate until they are gone. For example, you don’t think about your health until it’s failing. You might take a friend for granted until they’re not in your life anymore. You might expect certain comforts in life, like dishwashers, but find them missing if you move to another country. Even being able to communicate with a person, something that you could easily do in your home country, becomes a challenge in another country.

Human beings are good at taking things for granted but occasionally one will have an insight or revelation that bring a bit of appreciation for the good things in life. It seems to be a very human tendency to appreciate “good” things a little more after they have experienced “bad” things. Similarly, one might not miss having an object or ability until one goes to use that object or ability and it is found missing or lacking. 

I firmly believe that a bit of struggle and grief will make me appreciate the times when things are good. In fact, even the times that are okay seem great in comparison to times of turmoil or sadness. It’s the contrast between the “salty” and “sweet” parts in life that makes living a more colorful experience. As with food, I wouldn’t want every meal to taste exactly the same, even if it was a declicious dish. I think that variety is the spice of life and it helps to keep things interesting.

Often when I travel, I get a glimpse into other cultures and ways of life that I wouldn’t be abe to see otherwise. The more interactions I have with people from other countries, the more open-minded I have become.  I haved learned to open my eyes to new possibilities and accept ways of doing things that might be different from my own. 

Being away from home, I often find a greater appreciate for the comforts that being home provide that I rarely consider while I’m at home. I miss the friends and family that I’ve left behind.  I miss eating familiar foods. I miss knowing where the stores are and where to find the things that I need. But, the thing I miss most is my bed and the ability to relax in my room.

Sure, I love traveling and I love all the experiences that I have when I’m away from home, but coming home after being away is an experience in itself. Although the feeling might wear off in a few weeks, I am perfectly happy being a homebody at the moment.

Going Back to Work Blues

Being a teacher, I get a lot of holidays. I’ve always enjoyed that aspect of the job and it makes dealing with a tough day or getting through the end of the term a bit easier knowing that I’ll get weeks to recuperate.

The beginning of the term is upon me and while I’m excited to start a new year and hopefully do exciting things in the classroom with my students, I can’t help but feel sad that my summer holidays are coming to an end.

I’m sure every person has experienced the “going back to work blues” after coming back after a holiday, even if it’s only a weekend away. It’s simply the adjustment that everyone has to make from the “having fun” attitude to the “lets get back to work” attitude. When compared to visiting new places and eating new cuisines, cooking dinner at home and getting back to a normal routine just isn’t much fun.

I’ve dealt with the going back to work blues so many times. For me it’s been an extension of the going back to school blues that every student experiences because I’ve always been tied to the school year schedule, either as a student or as a teacher. It has become part of the rhythm of my life and it makes me appreciate the opportunities that I get to travel and see that world even more.

There is no quick remedy to the melancholy you’ll feel in the first few days, weeks or months-depending on how long you were away-as you get used to being back in the real world. However, there are a few things you can do to try an lessen the going back to world blues.

1. Give your self a few day back at home before you go back to  work. A little down time will give you time to deal with all the minutia of life before dealing with the office.

2. Catch up with your friends and family. If you were away, there are probably plenty of people who want to hear what you were up to. Just don’t complain too much about going back to work!

3. Keep busy. The more things you are doing outside of work, the less boring and routine your life will be. Also, you’ll have less time to think about how much you dislike going back to work.

4. Remember the good times you had during your time away. Hopefully you don’t have to look at your photo album everyday, but perhaps reminiscing about your recent journey will brighten your day.

5. Plan your next big vacation! Having a new destination and adventure to look forward to will keep you from dwelling on the monotony of being at work. If you need a short term solution, get a change of scenery by going out of town for the weekend.

50 Things to Do to Stop Global Warming

Global Warming is a dramatically urgent and serious problem. We don’t need to wait for governments to find a solution for this problem: each individual can bring an important help adopting a more responsible lifestyle: starting from little, everyday things. It’s the only reasonable way to save our planet, before it is too late.

Here is a list of 50 simple things that everyone can do in order to fight against and reduce the Global Warming phenomenon: some of these ideas are at no cost, some other require a little effort or investment but can help you save a lot of money, in the middle-long term!

  1. Replace a regular incandescent light bulb with a compact fluorescent light bulb (cfl)
    CFLs use 60% less energy than a regular bulb. This simple switch will save about 300 pounds of carbon dioxide a year.
  2. Install a programmable thermostat
    Programmable thermostats will automatically lower the heat or air conditioning at night and raise them again in the morning. They can save you $100 a year on your energy bill.
  3. Move your thermostat down 2° in winter and up 2° in summer
    Almost half of the energy we use in our homes goes to heating and cooling. You could save about 2,000 pounds of carbon dioxide a year with this simple adjustment.
  4. Clean or replace filters on your furnace and air conditioner
    Cleaning a dirty air filter can save 350 pounds of carbon dioxide a year.
  5. Choose energy efficient appliances when making new purchases
    Look for the Energy Star label on new appliances to choose the most energy efficient products available.
  6. Do not leave appliances on standby
    Use the “on/off” function on the machine itself. A TV set that’s switched on for 3 hours a day (the average time Europeans spend watching TV) and in standby mode during the remaining 21 hours uses about 40% of its energy in standby mode.
  7. Wrap your water heater in an insulation blanket
    You’ll save 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide a year with this simple action. You can save another 550 pounds per year by setting the thermostat no higher than 50°C.
  8. Move your fridge and freezer
    Placing them next to the cooker or boiler consumes much more energy than if they were standing on their own. For example, if you put them in a hot cellar room where the room temperature is 30-35ºC, energy use is almost double and causes an extra 160kg of CO2 emissions for fridges per year and 320kg for freezers.
  9. Defrost old fridges and freezers regularly
    Even better is to replace them with newer models, which all have automatic defrost cycles and are generally up to two times more energy-efficient than their predecessors.
  10. Don’t let heat escape from your house over a long period
    When airing your house, open the windows for only a few minutes. If you leave a small opening all day long, the energy needed to keep it warm inside during six cold months (10ºC or less outside temperature) would result in almost 1 ton of CO2 emissions.
  11. Replace your old single-glazed windows with double-glazing
    This requires a bit of upfront investment, but will halve the energy lost through windows and pay off in the long term. If you go for the best the market has to offer (wooden-framed double-glazed units with low-emission glass and filled with argon gas), you can even save more than 70% of the energy lost.
  12. Get a home energy audit
    Many utilities offer free home energy audits to find where your home is poorly insulated or energy inefficient. You can save up to 30% off your energy bill and 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide a year. Energy Star can help you find an energy specialist.
  13. Cover your pots while cooking
    Doing so can save a lot of the energy needed for preparing the dish. Even better are pressure cookers and steamers: they can save around 70%!
  14. Use the washing machine or dishwasher only when they are full
    If you need to use it when it is half full, then use the half-load or economy setting. There is also no need to set the temperatures high. Nowadays detergents are so efficient that they get your clothes and dishes clean at low temperatures.
  15. Take a shower instead of a bath
    A shower takes up to four times less energy than a bath. To maximise the energy saving, avoid power showers and use low-flow showerheads, which are cheap and provide the same comfort.
  16. Use less hot water
    It takes a lot of energy to heat water. You can use less hot water by installing a low flow showerhead (350 pounds of carbon dioxide saved per year) and washing your clothes in cold or warm water (500 pounds saved per year) instead of hot.
  17. Use a clothesline instead of a dryer whenever possible
    You can save 700 pounds of carbon dioxide when you air dry your clothes for 6 months out of the year.
  18. Insulate and weatherize your home
    Properly insulating your walls and ceilings can save 25% of your home heating bill and 2,000 pounds of carbon dioxide a year. Caulking and weather-stripping can save another 1,700 pounds per year. Energy Efficient has more information on how to better insulate your home.
  19. Be sure you’re recycling at home
    You can save 2,400 pounds of carbon dioxide a year by recycling half of the waste your household generates.
  20. Recycle your organic waste
    Around 3% of the greenhouse gas emissions through the methane is released by decomposing bio-degradable waste. By recycling organic waste or composting it if you have a garden, you can help eliminate this problem! Just make sure that you compost it properly, so it decomposes with sufficient oxygen, otherwise your compost will cause methane emissions and smell foul.
  21. Buy intelligently
    One bottle of 1.5l requires less energy and produces less waste than three bottles of 0.5l. As well, buy recycled paper products: it takes less 70 to 90% less energy to make recycled paper and it prevents the loss of forests worldwide.
  22. Choose products that come with little packaging and buy refills when you can
    You will also cut down on waste production and energy use… another help against global warming.
  23. Reuse your shopping bag
    When shopping, it saves energy and waste to use a reusable bag instead of accepting a disposable one in each shop. Waste not only discharges CO2 and methane into the atmosphere, it can also pollute the air, groundwater and soil.
  24. Reduce waste
    Most products we buy cause greenhouse gas emissions in one or another way, e.g. during production and distribution. By taking your lunch in a reusable lunch box instead of a disposable one, you save the energy needed to produce new lunch boxes.
  25. Plant a tree
    A single tree will absorb one ton of carbon dioxide over its lifetime. Shade provided by trees can also reduce your air conditioning bill by 10 to 15%. The Arbor Day Foundation has information on planting and provides trees you can plant with membership.
  26. Switch to green power
    In many areas, you can switch to energy generated by clean, renewable sources such as wind and solar. In some of these, you can even get refunds by government if you choose to switch to a clean energy producer, and you can also earn money by selling the energy you produce and don’t use for yourself.
  27. Buy locally grown and produced foods
    The average meal in the United States travels 1,200 miles from the farm to your plate. Buying locally will save fuel and keep money in your community.
  28. Buy fresh foods instead of frozen
    Frozen food uses 10 times more energy to produce.
  29. Seek out and support local farmers markets
    They reduce the amount of energy required to grow and transport the food to you by one fifth. Seek farmer’s markets in your area, and go for them.
  30. Buy organic foods as much as possible
    Organic soils capture and store carbon dioxide at much higher levels than soils from conventional farms. If we grew all of our corn and soybeans organically, we’d remove 580 billion pounds of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere!
  31. Eat less meat
    Methane is the second most significant greenhouse gas and cows are one of the greatest methane emitters. Their grassy diet and multiple stomachs cause them to produce methane, which they exhale with every breath.
  32. Reduce the number of miles you drive by walking, biking, carpooling or taking mass transit wherever possible
    Avoiding just 10 miles of driving every week would eliminate about 500 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions a year! Look for transit options in your area.
  33. Start a carpool with your coworkers or classmates
    Sharing a ride with someone just 2 days a week will reduce your carbon dioxide emissions by 1,590 pounds a year. eRideShare.com runs a free service connecting north american commuters and travelers.
  34. Don’t leave an empty roof rack on your car
    This can increase fuel consumption and CO2 emissions by up to 10% due to wind resistance and the extra weight – removing it is a better idea.
  35. Keep your car tuned up
    Regular maintenance helps improve fuel efficiency and reduces emissions. When just 1% of car owners properly maintain their cars, nearly a billion pounds of carbon dioxide are kept out of the atmosphere.
  36. Drive carefully and do not waste fuel
    You can reduce CO2 emissions by readjusting your driving style. Choose proper gears, do not abuse the gas pedal, use the engine brake instead of the pedal brake when possible and turn off your engine when your vehicle is motionless for more than one minute. By readjusting your driving style you can save money on both fuel and car mantainance.
  37. Check your tires weekly to make sure they’re properly inflated
    Proper tire inflation can improve gas mileage by more than 3%. Since every gallon of gasoline saved keeps 20 pounds of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, every increase in fuel efficiency makes a difference!
  38. When it is time for a new car, choose a more fuel efficient vehicle
    You can save 3,000 pounds of carbon dioxide every year if your new car gets only 3 miles per gallon more than your current one. You can get up to 60 miles per gallon with a hybrid! You can find information on fuel efficiency on FuelEconomy and on GreenCars websites.
  39. Try car sharing
    Need a car but don’t want to buy one? Community car sharing organizations provide access to a car and your membership fee covers gas, maintenance and insurance. Many companies – such as Flexcar – offer low emission or hybrid cars too! Also, see ZipCar.
  40. Try telecommuting from home
    Telecommuting can help you drastically reduce the number of miles you drive every week. For more information, check out the Telework Coalition.
  41. Fly less
    Air travel produces large amounts of emissions so reducing how much you fly by even one or two trips a year can reduce your emissions significantly. You can also offset your air travel carbon emissions by investingin renewable energy projects.
  42. Encourage your school or business to reduce emissions
    You can extend your positive influence on global warming well beyond your home by actively encouraging other to take action.
  43. Join the virtual march
    The Stop Global Warming Virtual March is a non-political effort to bring people concerned about global warming together in one place. Add your voice to the hundreds of thousands of other people urging action on this issue.
  44. Encourage the switch to renewable energy
    Successfully combating global warming requires a national transition to renewable energy sources such as solar, wind and biomass. These technologies are ready to be deployed more widely but there are regulatory barriers impeding them. U.S. citizens, take action to break down those barriers with Vote Solar.
  45. Protect and conserve forest worldwide
    Forests play a critial role in global warming: they store carbon. When forests are burned or cut down, their stored carbon is release into the atmosphere – deforestation now accounts for about 20% of carbon dioxide emissions each year. Conservation International has more information on saving forests from global warming.
  46. Consider the impact of your investments
    If you invest your money, you should consider the impact that your investments and savings will have on global warming. Check out SocialInvest and Ceres to can learn more about how to ensure your money is being invested in companies, products and projects that address issues related to climate change.
  47. Make your city cool
    Cities and states around the country have taken action to stop global warming by passing innovative transportation and energy saving legislation. If you’re in the U.S., join the cool cities list.
  48. Tell Congress to act
    The McCain Lieberman Climate Stewardship and Innovation Act would set a firm limit on carbon dioxide emissions and then use free market incentives to lower costs, promote efficiency and spur innovation. Tell your representative to support it.
  49. Make sure your voice is heard!
    Americans must have a stronger commitment from their government in order to stop global warming and implement solutions and such a commitment won’t come without a dramatic increase in citizen lobbying for new laws with teeth. Get the facts about U.S. politicians and candidates at Project Vote Smart and The League of Conservation Voters. Make sure your voice is heard by voting!
  50. Share this list!
    Send this page via e-mail to your friends! Spread this list worldwide and help people doing their part: the more people you will manage to enlighten, the greater YOUR help to save the planet will be (but please take action on first person too)!If you like, you are free to republish, adapt or translate the list and post it in your blog, website or forum as long as you give us credit with a link to the original source.
    Thank you.

source: http://globalwarming-facts.info/50-tips.html

Rain Brings Out the Worst in Bangkok Part 2

It has continued to rain every afternoon this week and I have encountered few more nasty side effects of rain in Bangkok. Even after a quick rainfall, you might find yourself in a very wet situation if you are in an area which floods easily. Many streets in Bangkok have poor drainage systems and when the water cannot flow off the road swiftly, you’ll find the streets flooded up to several inches. This is especially true in areas like Sukhumvit where the streets are small and occassionally the water will be too deep for a car to safely drive through.

If you are a pedestrian walking next to a street which is flooded or has a few large puddles, beware of getting drenched. Cars and trucks take little notice of people walking on the sidewalk and might create a wave of water going by that is hazardous to pedestrians who are trying to keep dry. Also, in cases where there is no sidewalk and the road is flooded, there will be no avoiding the waters unless you catch a taxi or motorbike.

People in Thailand have developed interesting ways of beating the problems caused by rain. Motorbike riders are the most skilled at devising ways of beating the rain. As soon as the rain gets harder than a light drizzle, many of them will try to wait out the rain under a bridge or fly over. You’ll see dozens of motorbikes and their drivers clustered in these dry spots as you drive by. A few of the drivers will be prepared and will don a full body rain suit before continuing on despite the rain.

Even once it stops raining, motorbike drivers have funny ways of dealing with the wetness that is left behind. I’ve seen many picking up their feet and placing them on the neck of the motorbike in order to avoid the water splashing below them. They’ll even modify their motorbikes by placing plastic bags or even leaf branches to lessen the splashing caused by the motorbike’s tires.

The flooding of the road during and after rain is an unavoidable part of living in Thailand. If you observe the Thais around you, it’ll help you figure out ways to make the best out of the situation. At the very least, try to carry an umbrella with you or else you might have to go about like some of the locals with a small plastic bag covering your head.

Rain Brings Out the Worst in Bangkok Part 1

It’s probably true all over the world that rain is one of the weather conditions that will reek havoc on traffic conditions. As a Los Angeles native, it’s often been said that Californians don’t know how to drive in the rain because even a drizzle will bring our freeways to a stand still.

It’s no different in Bangkok except that the scale of traffic is at least ten-fold. Most Thais don’t have an affinity for rain and Bangkokians especially because they know that rain equals traffic. As soon as it gets cloudy in the afternoon, you’ll hear Thai saying “fon thok” and that they have to go home as quickly as possible as to avoid the anticipated traffic conditions.

Now imagine millions of people all over Bangkok doing the exact same thing and instead of lingering around their workplaces or stopping somewhere after work, all of them rush home as soon as they can. The unavoidable result is that the road are packed with the normal traffic, as well as these “fon thok” traffic avoiding Bangkokians. Unless you were lucky enough to actually beat the “fon thok” traffic, whether or not it’s actually raining, depends on if you got out earlier enough.

If you weren’t one of the lucky ones, expect to be stuck in the kind of traffic that Bangkok is famous for. It isn’t unusual for your daily commute to double or even triple under rainy conditions. You’ll sit in your car or taxi counting the number of times the windshield wipers swish by as cars all around you sit at a stand still for no apparent reason. By the time you get home, your bladder is probably about to burst, a condition worsened by listening to the sound of rain for an hour.

Perhaps the best thing to do if you suspect that it will rain during rush hour is to stay put and wait it out. At least you won’t have to suffer through gridlock traffic like the millions of Bangkokians who fear “fon thok” traffic. The down side is that in Thailand it can easily rain all night and you’ll never know when the traffic will subside.  

Weight Loss and More at Sparkpeople.com

I thought I’d share with you one of my favorite websites, Sparkpeople.com. I’ve been using this site for almost three years and have found that it is the most comprehensive website geared towards healthy weight loss with an overall goal of general fitness that I’ve seen.  Best of all, this fabulous website is free!!

You start off my signing up for an account and right away you input all kinds of information about yourself and your fitness and weight loss goals so that Sparkspeople can generate a realistic and individualized plan for you to reach those goals.

Sparkspeople is filled with features and tools that any person interested in weight loss or weight maintenance will find useful such as: fitness tracker, meal planner, calorie counters for food, calorie counters for exercise, videos of strength training moves, articles on health topics, healthy recipes, and a multitude of message boards with active members.

The website is easy to navigate and looks bright and active because it is filled with lots of color. Many members find fellow Sparkpeople members to support and motivate them on the message boards and I think that this is especially useful for women, who enjoy a sense of community.

Another great thing about Sparkpeople is that they are always adding more features and they have a system of point giving which keeps the site dynamic and interesting. At first, I was so addicted to getting a few more points that it really motivated me to participate in the message forum or read more articles, but after awhile I kept on coming back to the Sparkpeople site for its wealth of information.

Tons of money is spent in the weight loss and fitness industries every year, but at Sparkpeople, they really strive to help you reach your goals without making you spend a penny.