28 October 2011

Ankle-Deep in Floodwater

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28 October: Actually, by the time I post this, it is over ankle-deep in floodwater. And the water just keeps on coming.
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Dawn: Water finally seeped in to our drainage ditch out back, my worst fear because it is the most vile water. Tuk woke me up at midnight to tell me water was appearing. (I am super groggy at night because I am now taking a bigger dose of FMS sleeper meds, my “zonkers,” since this backbreaking sandbag routine started.) I staggered out, and to my horror, saw that while I had slept, Tuk’s mother had decided to move sandbags that I had in reserve to plug totally useless spots. The two of them dragged/ carried/ muscled my reserve bags to the other side of the compound. I was so sedated I had to lean against the wall for support. I threw a few sandbags on the spot I had planned to reinforce at the head of the ditch, then I had to go back to bed and zonk out.
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Midmorning: This morning I went out at 07:00 and carried the misplaced sandbags back to more useful spots, dripping with sweat before 08:00 – and the sun was not even high yet (and my family in the States said they have already had snow!).
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Went up to the roof with field glasses to survey the scene. Water coming toward us from the East (from river) and from South and West, turning the streets into rivers. It is a slow inundation, rather than a raging torrent. But it is on the steady rise.
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Noon: Water invading. One of Tuk’s girlfriends just brought me an entire case of Chang Classic beer. Much appreciated, as doctors never give adequate pain meds to people in pain. Meanwhile, I have been trying to write this, trying to read the incoming news items, and trying to deal with the latest catastrophe. Tuk again found some sandbags and had them delivered by workers she hired from her workplace. These guys are sandbagging experts, and I learned a lot watching them pack those babies in. As I mentioned before, in Vietnam we manhandled many a sandbag, but we stacked them as protection from bullets and incoming explosive rounds – a very different art from stopping water.
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Mid-afternoon: News reports have said that the flood is bringing out snakes, centipedes, crocodiles, and other critters. Indeed, this afternoon Mother-in-law and I where reinforcing a sandbag levee in the back of the house when I saw a monster centipede a foot long on the lower wall not a foot away from our heads as we were bending over our work. She grabbed a broom and swept it away while saying something in Thai, and the tone said it was not a very welcoming message. The centipede swam away surprisingly fast. That big guy was a creature out of nightmares.
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Small-time, lower class, country folk entrepreneur families I’ve never seen before are visiting street corners, selling eggs, etc., from backs of small pickup trucks or just from baskets on the sidewalk with their kids in tow. This is true laissez faire capitalism at its best: supply and demand; cooperative voluntary interaction. Its structure as a group of buyer/seller equals solidifies a true community.
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There are ignorant laws here against “price gouging” and “crisis profiteering” – all fascist Nixonian-style idiocies. But if scarce items are in demand and needed, then the producer/ retailer who has the guts and takes the extra effort and risk to get it to us, the consumers who need them, deserves whatever profit he can get, whatever the Free Market – that great liberal law of fairness and voluntary cooperation – can bear. These entrepreneurs are heroes, and I hope their kids see the value of the individualistic effort, thought, and fairness that their parents model for them.
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After another heavy workout with new sandbags, I took a walk around my familiar neighborhood circuit to check on friends. A couple of them seemed to escape the worst of it so far, but no one is betting on what tomorrow brings.
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Our soi is almost knee deep in water. Our courtyard is ankle deep now. We have a decent system of levees that we hope keep water out of our living quarters. It all depends on how high the water gets. Parents-in-law live in a loft next door which is high enough to be protected. Tuk and I live on the ground floor and are more vulnerable.
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Our beloved cats are afraid to go out into the flooded courtyard, so I have brought in sand and am intending to potty train the bloody heathens. Hah! Let’s see how that goes. I'm a rabid individualist, but cats beat me in that category: "Piss on you!" is their motto.
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My back is killing me, and I hope to have some Chang therapy later. The water outside is half-way to the knee and rising. Water is now coming into our living quarters. Work needs doing. So I shall stop rambling.
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“If the levee breaks/ I’ll have no place to stay.” -Led Zeppelin.
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-Zenwind.
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