This one's being written as the Stevie Wonder post – because it's being written "blind", quite possibly without me being able to see the final result. I'll include a picture of Mr. Wonder in his honor, and if you're reading this live, you'll hear a few of his songs, later in the podcast. r It's cool and breezy in Saigon today and that is very, very unusual in this hot and rainy season. Last night I actually felt the need for a long-sleeved shirt, almost unheard of in this country. r And so why am I writing blind you ask? Well, that's an awfully damned good question. A few days ago, Saturday precisely, I noticed that I was unable to see my blog on the net. Now mind you, this is pretty strange in that I am still able to post and publish – but when it comes to seeing it live, I'm in the dark. A little trouble-shootizing with the master, EC, in the States and it seems to be down to a server issue. EC is a techno-geek who works in the business of Search Engine Optimization (SOE) and knows his way around a computer extremely well. I'm no slouch myself, but I'm not a pro like EC. I'm just a guy with too much to say and too much time to say it. But on to WTF is going on... r And that's hard to say, so I've hit the skids in an effort to narrow down the options. I've had plenty of trouble with Google based applications here and know well the long delays I can sometimes endure as Google maybe has not kissed as much government butt as can be necessary. r The following quote from Wayne Greene on Mark Robinson's blog may or may not be true on different days at different locations: "Blogger is blocked by some of the postal authorities where ISP’s originate in Vietnam. At many locations, it is not possible to access Joe’s blog or “Vietnamese God”. Yahoo 360 on the other hand is free from those restrictions." r And this plays into the whole MicroHoo saga in Yahoo's dominance in Asia. Yahoo has just been here longer and has endeared itself to the region, in Joint Venture Partnerships, government compliance and customer relations. Google is still a newcomer and "B" player, generally. If Microsoft wants to be a Google-killer, Yahoo is their best shot in Asia. And so the not so difficult question becomes raised, "To what extent does government censorship become an issue in terms of Vietnamese blogs?" And my answer to that particular question is yet unresolved. r I've gone for days with certain parts of the web not working at all; to suddenly have them pop-up and be just fine. Sometimes a re-boot or a cookie-cleaning will resolve an issue. After the tsunami out in the Pacific off Taiwan last year, where a number of undersea cables were broken, things were shit for a month...and then just fine. Vietnam has a particular problem in that "salvage" fisherman routinely troll the waters for expensive undersea cables, drag em up, cut em' and then sell miles of fiber-optic for scrap. Why do I think that the people who buy it as scrap just sell it right back to the ISPs and then they lay it right back down in the same place. Personally, I thinks Aliens do it. Discovery Channel could make a show out of it - like they do about the lobster boats off the coast of Maine! r"See, we're pretty smart", says Captain Nguyen Van Hook, "We know how to pirate more than just DVDs!" r And the story moves on. I have a few notes out to others with blogs here in Vietnam and hope to hear back just some techno-mumbo-jumbo reasons - but I can't see their blogs either. So far, it seems that Blogger and WordPress are the issues. Yahoo360 works ok and WindowsLive seems to work – that's EC's blog you'll see – but my buddy on Blogger here cannot be raised and my own stuff remains dead – at least to me. r And for the designer in me, it's just a darn shame – not being able to see all the little tricks and quirks I try to program in just makes me feel...well...unfulfilled. Stay tuned. r A few little things popped up for me this week – While watching the National Geographic channel, in a story of Dinka Tribesman in Africa who heard cattle for a living, was the following quote - "You can't cook money and eat it. You could starve to death with money in your pocket." I just love that, mostly because it's so fucking true. r And now, here's a note about my Dad – because I know he'll never read it. r A few months ago I received a note from my father's wife saying that they didn't like to read things on a blog, but preferred I just email them things. I responded with a note that included a link to receive automatic email copies of the blog each week. "Just click it and say, OK", I added. And the link just sits. They don't want to do that. ––– In a way it's just a microcosm of my relationship with my dad, which I must say...is minimal. Dad's just not a writer, or a talker, or much of a communicator with me at all. And I find that sad – or I should say, it makes me sad. Somewhere in early adoption it does seem that my mother earmarked me for herself, and knowing the kind of person she was, can see how she could so closely dominate the situation to have left little or no room for my father. Oh, we tried baseball, I asked him to teach me to ski (something he could do) and he was present at my Boy Scout camp-outs, but to say that we ever enjoyed much of a father/son relationship would be a stretch. I'm an artist, writer, theatre, actor, speaker, musician kind of guy and he's an engineer, an electrical one – but I suspect things go much deeper than that. So deep that I may never really communicate with him at all. r Back in 2002, when Mom had passed away, I was able to stay with Dad for a few months. I mowed his lawn, trimmed his trees - so much so that he asked me to stop cutting trees - and cooked for him everyday. I made myself as useful as possible and tried to do things that would make his life a bit easier. And I tried, somewhat in vain, to talk with him. In my mind, I thought this would have been a good time in both of our lives to at least begin a conversation. But alas, that was not to be. Within a few months he had found a woman with whom he shared interests and they would be married a year later. Her husband had passed away in the same month as my mom. And with that, Dad's void was filled. He had found a woman who would take the same position as my mother had had and be a partition between the two of us. And that partition remains to this day. Most of the mail I get is written by her and he maintains his enigma status in the Father & Son Department – by some strange design, that I will probably never understand. r Now I've got technology in the way, or the Vietnamese government. I just checked again and nothing on Blogger will come up. If anybody in Vietnam reads this or gets an email or feed subscription, please contact me, and let me know from where you got connected. I'll continue my research and see if we can get to the bottom of the Stevie Wonder in Vietnam story. r Cheers. r Okay, usually the way this works is that I say "Cheers" when I'm signing off, but late breaking news keeps coming in on this Blogger deal. Here's a note from a guy here in town who's a web wizard and a true local guru. r "Ya, I can see blogger.com and blogspot.com. Yours has a Stevie Wonder post up top. Remember that the admin and actual blog are at different domains. I'm using the FPT ISP. If your ISP is blocking blogspot.com (possibly in preparation for the Buddha's birthday celebrations here), you can try going to blogspot.com via VPNTunnel, http://www.vpntunnel.net/, or another "anonymous proxy server" (in case your ISP is blocking that, too, just Google that phrase in quotes). If you can get to blogspot.com via proxy, then your ISP is blocking blogspot.com." r And so you can probably see how things can get a little confusing around here – as if the language barrier were not enough. And so I asked my friend, who will be regarded here as "Deep Throat", what anybody would have against Buddha and this was his response: r Buddhist groups here are basically divided in two, those authorized and those banned. The banned ones, the United Buddhist Church of Vietnam, are complaining abroad that they're being blocked from the UN's 2008 Vesak (Buddha's Birthday) events and having some of their temples hijacked by gov't for staged events. If you can't see shite via VPNTunnel, try other proxies. Also ask your hotel's sys-admin if they're been required to block some sights. Sometimes the cops impose blocks at the retail Internet level. r Just another Monday in Vietnam. Who says nothing ever happens around here? r Cheers, for real this time!
For more in the "Nothing much happened" series, check below:
VIII People Are Just Dieing To Get Out of Here
VII The Hair Job
VI Happy New Year! Chúc Mừng Năm Mới!
V The Vietnam sNews
IV At The Center of Miss Universe
III My Walk in the Park Today
II The Stevie Wonder Post
I Ear Cleaning