Can you identify these birds?
A hot air balloon basket burst into flames after it took off Friday night in western Canada, carrying 12 passengers and a pilot. Two passengers died and other suffered injuries.
Eleven people were seriously injured when the balloon crashed Friday evening in a recreational vehicle park in Surrey, British Columbia, a suburb of Vancouver. There were 12 passengers and a pilot on board, police and witnesses said.
Royal Canadian Mounted Police Sgt. Roger Morrow said relatives of the two passengers killed witnessed the fire. He declined to comment on reports that the dead were a mother and her grown daughter.
"It's just tragic. They watched it unfold before their eyes," Morrow said of the families. "The fatalities suffered from burns."
The balloon caught fire as it prepared to launch, said Bill Yearwood, an investigator with the Transportation Safety Board of Canada.
"The crew loaded 12 passengers and was preparing to launch when a fire erupted. The pilot asked the passengers to get out of the basket," he said. "The balloon was tethered at the time, but then broke and came loose," he added.
"They were all trying to get out."
After most of the passengers escaped, the balloon exploded in a fireball and shot up into the air. Shortly after, the burning balloon plunged to ground in the RV park, leaving a tail of thick black smoke in its wake.
"I can't tell you what exactly happened when the balloon was loosened from the tether," Yearwood said. "We will be talking to attending crew members and the pilot to find out."
He said the pilot was in stable condition.
"The thing went up about 400 feet in the air at which point it melted enough of the balloon - it collapsed," said Don Randall, a resident of the trailer park who took pictures of the scene. "The basket was basically a fireball. It just dropped like a stone," he added.
"I'm just thinking, 'Oh geez, I hope there's nobody in that thing. It's basically a burning death up there,"' he said.
Smoke could be seen billowing from the crash site from miles away.
The cause of the accident was not immediately known. Weather conditions were clear at the time of the sunset flight.
"People were screaming and trying to get out," Frank Hersey said Friday night near a grassy field where several of the injured were being attended to by ambulance crews.
Perry Kendall said he saw what looked like something out of a movie.
"It was horrifying," said a shaken Kendall. "Just looking at people screaming and jumping out of there. Some of them, I think, had fire on their clothes. It was just awful."
Witnesses also said propane tanks from the balloon shot off and landed on the Hazelmere RV park below, setting fire to three trailers and several vehicles. No one was reported hurt in those blazes.
"We're exceptionally lucky that nobody in any of these three trailers or in the vehicles that were destroyed were caught in them," Morrow said.
The hot-air balloon, which CTV reported was operated by Fantasy Balloons Charters based in Langley, British Columbia, was one of several balloons in flight at the time.
Company spokesman John K. George said he does not know why the balloon caught fire shortly after takeoff.
"The company deeply regrets this evening's incident and all injuries associated with it (and) inconvenience to those people being displaced," George said.
A similar incident occurred earlier this month in the central Canadian province of Manitoba, Manitoba, where 12 people were injured.
One beautiful girl!
This is the Athenee Residence seen from the All Seasons Hotel.
PS: Yesterday Watcharee and I drove the 96 mile round-trip to Palm Beach for lunch at a newly opened Italian restaurant. I wonder what our carbon footprint looked like. (*)
(*) No, we did not order bottled water from Fiji. The water came from Italy.
From Top Gear.
Some of our Thai friends and family have "English" names: Apple, Beam, Bow, Golf, Ball et. al.
By THOMAS FULLER
Published: August 29, 2007
BANGKOK, Aug. 23 – America has Tom, Dick and Harry. Thailand has Pig, Money and Fat.
For as long as people here can remember, children have been given playful nicknames – classics include Shrimp, Chubby and Crab – that are carried into adulthood.
But now, to the consternation of some nickname purists, children are being given such offbeat English-language nicknames as Mafia or Seven – as in 7-Eleven, the convenience store.
Vira Rojpojchanarat of the Thai Culture Ministry favors using traditional nicknames.
The spread of foreign names mirrors a rapidly urbanizing society that has absorbed any number of influences, including Hollywood, fast-food chains and English Premier League soccer.
The trend worries Vira Rojpojchanarat, the permanent secretary of the Thai Ministry of Culture. Mr. Vira, whose nickname is the relatively unimaginative Ra, is embarking on a campaign to revive the simple and often more pastoral nicknames of yore.
"It's important because it's about the usage of the Thai language," Mr. Vira, an architect by training, said in his office decorated with Thai theatrical masks and a small Buddhist altar. "We worry that Thai culture will vanish."
With help from language experts at the Royal Institute, the official arbiter of the Thai language, Mr. Vira plans to produce by the end of the year a collection of thousands of old-fashioned nicknames, listed by such wholesome categories as colors, animals and fruit and including simple favorites like Yaay (big), Ouan (fat) and Dam (black).
Published in a small booklet, the names will be distributed to the news media and libraries, and posted on the Internet.
"We can't force people," Mr. Vira said. "It's their right to have their own ideas. But what we can do is give them options by producing this handbook."
The Culture Ministry's plans have not yet been made public, but some Thais, when told about the nickname campaign, were skeptical.
"I don't agree with this; it's unnecessary," said Manthanee Akaracharanrya, a 29-year-old real estate contractor. Ms. Manthanee, whose nickname is Money, says having an English name is practical because it is easier for foreigners to pronounce, unlike Thai names, which are tonal and can include sounds alien to non-Thai speakers.
Her name has meaning, Ms. Manthanee said. Her father chose Money because she was born on Nov. 29, around the time his paycheck landed. Her elder brother is named Bonus because he was born on Chinese New Year, when some companies hand out extra cash. And her younger brother is called Bank, because it fit the theme.
Korakoad Wongsinchai, an English teacher at a private primary school in Bangkok, is also not sure whether the Culture Ministry's campaign will stem the tide of English names. "Parents think they are modern names," Ms. Korakoad said of the foreign nicknames. "Thai names are from 20 years ago."
More than half of her students have English names, she said, offering this sampling: Tomcruise, Elizabeth, Army, Kiwi, Charlie and God. One apparently gourmand family named their child Gateaux, the French word for cakes.
"I think a lot of parents get the names from television or magazines," she said.
Ms. Korakoad, 30, carries the nickname Moo (Pig), a traditional name that Mr. Vira approves of and says will be in the booklet.
After years of hearing about the spread of foreign nicknames, Mr. Vira says he was spurred into action in July when he saw the results of a survey of almost 3,000 students in and around the city of Khon Khaen, in northeastern Thailand.
In one classroom there were three children nicknamed Bank. To tell them apart, fellow pupils had renamed the children Big Bank, Medium Bank and Small Bank.
Forty percent of secondary students and 56 percent of primary students had English nicknames, the survey showed, compared with just 6 percent of university students, indicating a clear trend among the youngest Thais, Mr. Vira said.
Ball was the most popular English nickname – possibly because it is the nickname of a well-known Thai tennis star, Paradorn Srichaphan – followed by Oil and Bank.
The most common Thai nicknames were Lek (small), Ng (one) and Mai (new).
Mr. Vira, who is the most senior civil servant in the Culture Ministry, says his mission is to preserve what he calls Thai-ness: "not only the Thai language but Thai dress, Thai food – everything that shows Thai identity."
The year 2007 (2550 according to Thailand's Buddhist calendar) has been proclaimed the Year of Promoting Correct Thai Usage, he said, and the nickname campaign is part of that effort.
From a purely practical point of view, Mr. Vira added, having a foreign name like Apple or Bank may be cute for a child, "but once you're an old man with no teeth, it doesn't match with the name."
Her first bath.
PS: Other baths (well, one is shown here in the pre-bath mode):
The Hairem is a hair salon that I used to visit in the '70's and early '80's. Yesterday I popped in for a cut for the first time in about 20 years. The place has changed very little since then. The fixtures and the stylists are the same. And, they still give a great haircut!