Monthly Archives: July 2013

AdornPic Web Site Review

AdornPic Helmet Sticker Hugh Fox

AdornPic is a new free online photo effect website.  The site will paste your photo into an existing online photo.  You could probably do this pretty easily with a photo editor and this effect is all over the web.  If you like this effect then you should try Funnwow, Funphotobox, JPGFun, LoonaPix, Pato.pl, Pho.to, Photo 505, PhotoFaceFun, and Wishafriend.  On this site, the effect is not particularly varied or impressive and includes character pictures, nature pictures, indoor pictures, magazine pictures, and outdoor pictures.

1) Characters

1AdornPic Characters Hugh Fox

2) Nature

2AdornPic Nature Hugh Fox

3) Indoor

3AdornPic Indoors Hugh Fox

4) Magazines

4AdornPic Magazines Hugh Fox

5) Outdoor

5AdornPic Outdoor Hugh Fox

The nature effect is probably the most interesting of the standard stick your photo into an online photo effect.  The face-in-the-hole effect in which your face is substituted for that of a celebrity is done very poorly since there are no easy to use mouse controlled alignment and resizing tools. You can move your portrait a bit but not much and the resizing is difficult to do and again not mouse driven.  For example, FXMagic does a much better job of the face-in-the-hole effect than AdornPic due to the use of mouse controlled tools.  I played with this effect for a bit and skipped the effect in the end due to the poor results.

AdornPic has online filters.  Rollip does the same sort of thing and has more filters than AdornPic.  BeFunky, Tuxpi, Phixr and fotor also have lots of online filters.  Lomo filters seem to be especially popular online.  However, the colorful “light filters” on AdornPic are a new addition to this sort of effect online:

6) Filters

6AdornPic Filters Hugh Fox

AdornPic has tons of stickers which are photos stuck onto your standard photo and does this better than any other site online including Ribbet.  Ribbet might have more stickers but AdornPic has better stickers!  Doing the sticker effect would be incredibly hard with a photo editor.  You would have to cut a complex shape out and paste it.  You would have a hard time doing this with a mouse and would probably need to use a drawing pad and even with a drawing pad this task would be very hard to do and time consuming.  AdornPic does use stickers in an impressive and unique way.  The special stickers include crowns, glasses, hair, hats, helmets and masks.  There are lots of other stickers but they are not as impressive and I skipped applying them.

7) Crowns

7AdornPic Crowns Hugh Fox

8) Glasses

8AdornPic Glasses Hugh Fox

9) Hair

9AdornPic Hair Hugh Fox

10) Hats

10AdornPic Hats Hugh Fox

11) Helmets

11AdornPic Helmets Hugh Fox

12) Masks

12AdornPic Masks Hugh Fox

You might want to skip the standard effects and play with the stickers instead!  A survey of older and more established online photo effect sites at:

https://foxhugh.wordpress.com/2010/10/15/photo-effects/

Hugh Fox III - Blinkie

You can also download my autobiography of my struggle with a bipolar condition on  Am I Kitsune on my Google Drive.

WereVerse Universe Baby!

WereVerse Universe at Google Drive Link

Sriracha Tiger Zoo

1Hugh Fox & Tiger Cub

The audience for this article is farang living in Bangsaen.  The Sriracha Tiger Zoo is a great way for someone from Bangsaen to spend an afternoon.  Burapha University is in Bangsaen and more and more visitors from many countries find themselves learning and/or teaching at Burapha University.  You go to the zoo to get three pictures in particular.  The first and most important picture is with a tiger cub!  There are two places to do this.  One has a nicer backdrop and an older cub.  The other one has a backdrop that is not as nice but the cub is younger.  I went for the younger cub since the backdrop doesn’t matter much anyway.  As of July 20th 2013, a farang pays 450 baht to get in and a Thai pays 180 baht to get in.  The picture with the tiger cub is an extra 150 baht but they print out the picture there and then and the quality of all such pictures at the Sriracha Tiger Zoo is excellent.  I did have some pictures taken with my digital camera but their scanned picture which can be seen above was far better.

2Hugh Fox & Scorpion Queen

The second must get picture is with the Scorpion Queen (pictured above).  I have seen this sort of thing before but was never tempted.  Generally some bozo in a T-Shirt is putting the scorpions on you.  The Scorpion Queen is a lot better than some bozo.  The lovely lady put about six scorpions on me and unfortunately the scorpions are black as was my Hawaiian shirt so I recommend wearing a lighter shirt so the scorpions are more visible.  There is a rumor that tigers don’t like red or orange so pick a color other than black, red or orange for your shirt that day.  Some Thai ladies had outfits with tiger prints on.

3Hugh Fox & Crocodile

The third must get picture is with the crocodile (pictured above).  Again you will run into this sort of picture set up all over Thailand but this crocodile was special.  The crocodile is gigantic and I have seen a lot of crocodiles while living in Thailand!  You use your own camera but it’s only a 100 baht versus the usual 150 baht.

If you want pictures with wild animals then there are plenty of places that provide this service in Thailand.  Pattaya has Nong Nooch Tropical Botanical Garden and Bangkok has Samutprakarn Crocodile Farm and Zoo that are similar to the Sriracha Tiger Zoo but both are not day trips from Bangsaen so if you are looking for some afternoon fun from Bangsaen then the Sriracha Tiger Zoo is the way to go.  The Sriracha Tiger Zoo website mentions their food but this is not why I would go there.

If you are hungry then I would recommend the Saturday buffet at the Pacific Park Hotel restaurant which starts at 6 pm which is when the zoo closes!  The buffet is 300 baht per person and features Japanese, Thai and Western dishes.  Sriracha is home to various Japanese factories and has many Japanese workers and expats living in Sriracha but finding a good reasonable Japanese restaurant that is gaijin friendly is actually not easy.  I would recommend the Zenmaru Udon restaurant pictured below for price and atmosphere.

4Hugh Fox & Zenmaru Udon Restaurant

They have little Japanese style rooms upstairs with a lot of ambience and I would order the chicken cutlet, with noodles under the cutlet and curry on the cutlet, but they just call it the curry dish.  The menu has pictures so just look for a breaded cutlet and you will do ok.  You can get more exotic Japanese food that is generally not available in more touristy Japanese restaurants but some of this food is too exotic and pricey but hey you only live once.  However, no Japanese beers at Zenmaru Udon!  Heineken and local Thai beers are available.  Zenmaru Udon is just down the street from the Pacific Park Hotel and if you pass a hospital then you have walked just past the restaurant.  The Pacific Park Hotel is in turn right next to the Sriracha Robinson which is also a lot of fun.

Hugh Fox III - Block

You can also download my autobiography of my struggle with a bipolar condition on  Am I Kitsune on my Google Drive.

WereVerse Universe Baby!

WereVerse Universe at Google Drive Link

Do Peruvian giant yellow-leg centipedes make good pets?

Hugh Fox Giant Centipede 1

Do Peruvian giant yellow-leg centipede (Scolopendra gigantea) make good pets? This is my story. I received Curly, the name of my centipede when I was fifteen in 1972 from my uncle Manuel.  My uncle had snuck the centipede past customs from Peru because he had a centipede of the same species given to him by his father, my grandfather, when he was around the same age as a pet and Manuel felt I was ready for this awesome responsibility.  Uncle Manuel said that if you could take care of a giant centipede then children and for that matter any task, was easy after that.  I have never had children period but perhaps this is true.

Their first few years with Curly were not easy.  I was bitten several times and had to be rushed to the hospital.  One of the more unpleasant aspects of being bit by Curly was the fact that your heart goes into cardiac arrest which makes your heart slow down to almost nothing and you feel like your soul is descending into the ground and even the underworld.  Fortunately, after the fifth or sixth bite, you develop some immunity to the venom.  You still feel like you are going to die but you at least have enough strength to inject the anti-venom serum into your heart without help and in a day or two you are just fine.

Luckily, Curly mellowed with age. After fifteen years of living together, Curly became a lot less aggressive towards me.  Curly also got a lot bigger!  A normal Peruvian giant yellow-leg centipede is about a foot long but after fifteen years Curly was almost two feet long.  The Peruvian giant yellow-leg centipede lives about five years in the wild and as long as ten years in captivity but if you give them our very secret Incan family recipe of herbs and spices then the centipedes can live a lot longer.

I cannot give the details of the recipe except to say Peru is bordered on one side by the Andes and the other side by the Amazon and because of this many botanical miracles can be found in Peru and nowhere else.  Some plants may not have even originated on our planet but may be deliberate hybrids between plants of different planets.  Shine an ultra violet lamp and shine that lamp on any jungle or field in the world, except Peru, then nothing will glow in the dark.  If you do the same experiment in Peru then you will become aware that some plants seem identical even using current DNA analysis to other plants but are in fact very different!

Actually no one in my family knows how long a centipede can live if they eat our special recipe.  Chulito, my uncle Manuel’s pet centipede, died when she was 55 years of age but only because she had wandered out into the street and been run over by a bus.  Chulito had grown to an amazing five feet in length and many a dog and cat disappearance, in the neighborhood my uncle lived in, was blamed on Chulito.

My uncle was always adamant that Chulito was innocent. My uncle claimed the stories of Chulito were lies by the communists who resented his Freemason connections. According to my uncle the communists said he had used his connections to stop the communists from erecting a statue of Karl Mark in the Park of the Exposition in Lima.

There was actually a great deal of eye witness testimony that the bus driver swerved in order to hit the centipede and had loudly said after the act that he had done what he had done in order to “matar el monstruo, matador de gatos y perros”, kill the monster, killer of cats and dogs.  Both criminal charges and a civil suit brought by my uncle against the bus driver failed because apparently centipedes are not protected under Peruvian law.

The funeral was dignified.  As the inheritor of the family tradition of the pet centipede, I of course asked for a leave of absence from my ESL teaching job in Houston and went to Lima to attend the funeral.  A coffin generally used for a dog was used.  My uncle had wanted to get a metal hermetically sealed steel coffin but my aunt had insisted that a wooden coffin was more than enough for a centipede.  The wooden coffin cost around fifty dollars.  The steel coffin would have cost almost two thousand dollars!

An informal, low key, pet cemetery on unconsecrated ground exists behind the Convento de San Francisco for Limeños of a certain social standing and Chulito was buried between a parrot that was famous for singing the national anthem of Peru albeit badly according to my aunt and a rooster that had been the fiercest fighter on the cock fighting circuit of Lima in the year of 1937.  The owner of the rooster had been an unabashed fascist and had named the rooster Mussolini.  The parrot was named José de la Torre Ugarte y Alarcón after the musician who had composed the Peruvian national anthem.  As a rule only pets of distinction above and beyond affection are given formal funerals in Lima.  I felt sad that Chulito had such a common name compared to her neighbors but I also felt glad she had such illustrious company.

A representative of the Museo Nacional Arqueología, Antropología e Historia Perú was in attendance and made one final appeal before the burial to donate the centipede body to the museum but offered very little in the way of money and instead appealed to my uncle’s sense of national honor.  In the year 2,006, a representative of Ripley’s Believe It or Not offered the fantastic sum of 10,000 dollars for the centipede body and the coffin was disinterred.

However, the wooden coffin fell into pieces as it was raised from the ground.  Mold, rot and insects had destroyed the coffin and the contents were beyond recognition.  My uncle cursed himself for not getting a better coffin for his old friend when he had the chance. The metal coffin would have cost two thousand dollars so an intact centipede body would have yielded a profit of eight thousand dollars.  After that day, whenever my aunt tried to make a point forcibly, my uncle would say, “Remember the wooden coffin of Chulito!”

The Chulito remark had the cumulative effect of causing my aunt Zoila to briefly consult a professor of psychology at San Marcos University that had been her classmate years earlier and was a psychoanalyst.  The problem is that the poor doctor could never quite understand that the centipede was an actual centipede rather than some opaque way of referring to my uncle’s penis. This led to my aunts often said observation that some of the stupidest people in the world are some of the most educated people in the world.  Later my aunt hopelessly tried to create some sort of theory that perhaps education in some ways caused stupidity.  However, my aunt was a very busy woman and always focused on keeping the house clean and the meals going since she was the nucleus of our extended family and theory did not feed children so her theory never got very far except in my own mind.

I later received a doctorate and read Malinowski.  I ultimately came to the conclusion that what is magic (nonsense that has societal sanction and passes for knowledge) and what is science (useful knowledge) is often known in hindsight.  I inherited the centipede from my uncle.  I inherited a suspicion of over-education from my aunt.  In both cases, I inherited a suspicion of theory.  I also came to the conclusion that just saying theory was useless was also useless.  Men form theories and that’s that.  I liked what Dewey had to say about theory.  You should reject particular theories but not the enterprise of theory building per se.  I have a theory of theories and its pragmatism.  You build new theories based on new evidence.

This murder/accident (?) that involved Chulito led to an ongoing feud between our family and the Ramdenk family of the bus driver.  The Ramdenks immigrated to Peru from Romania in the 1880’s and have always been in the business of group transport.  They started in the coach trade and moved into the bus trade later.   If you rode a bus in Lima in the last hundred years then your bus driver was probably some relative or crony of the Ramdenks.  There is an unusual strain of both albinism and dwarfism in Ramdenk gene pool so you are more likely to have an albino dwarf as your bus driver in Lima than in any other country in the world which I think adds to the local charm of Lima.

One Ramdenk did not want to be a bus driver and opened a Romanian restaurant in Lima in the 1960’s.  The restaurant failed a few years later due to a lack of interest in Romanian food in Lima. This particular Ramdenk committed suicide by eating gogoşi, a type of Romanian doughnut, mixed with opium.  Generally, this form of suicide was reserved for Romanian aristocracy.  This upstart form of suicide confirmed the suspicion among the Ramdenks that the fellow thought he was better than the family.  So the Romanian restaurateur became a cautionary tale to other Ramdenks who wanted to be more than bus drivers.  They say that if you walk in the area of the Hospital Almenara, where the Romanian restaurateur ultimately died, in Lima during a full moon then you will occasionally see an opiated albino ghost eating a donut muttering in Romanian.

The upshot of the feud is that members of my family in Lima do not ride on buses and walk much more than other Peruvians of their station.  The local truism is that because of all this walking, members of my family have enormous muscular legs and in fact the women in my family are known throughout Lima for having exceptionally shapely legs so perhaps something good did come out of the death of poor Chulito!

But I digress, as I stated previously, after about 15 years the Peruvian giant yellow-leg centipede starts to mellow and stops trying to kill you.  My own explanation is that the brain of the centipede gets bigger and bigger brains mean smarter centipedes.  The centipede starts to realize you are a consistent source of food and in turn tries to protect you rather than try to kill you!  This is great on the few occasions a dog tries to bite you since a two foot centipede can take down even a German Sheppard with a single bite in under 30 seconds but unfortunately the Peruvian giant yellow-leg centipede will attack any girl that tries to touch you much less kiss you.  This means that when you have girlfriends over then you need to make sure your centipede is safely locked up and this is not easy to do.

A two foot centipede will break the glass of most normal terrariums.  The two foot centipede will just ram the same area of the terrarium again and again.  The centipede prefers using a pebble but will use its own head if pebbles are not available.  This process may take weeks but centipedes are stubborn creatures.  I suppose learning how to use all those legs early on makes them stubborn.

What you really need is a terrarium made of toughened glass.  You will need to have this terrarium custom made since no one manufactures terrariums made of toughened glass normally.  Cages would be strong enough but a centipede can easily slip out of cages that a snake of the same size could not!  I would also suggest not letting your girlfriend, to be, know about your giant centipede until the relationship has matured.  Many women do not want to spend the night in an apartment that also houses a two foot centipede.  Fast forward!

Well its 2013 and Curly is 41!  Curly is almost three feet long and is still growing! Curly has been costly financially.  The costs include hospital visits due to bites, law suits related to missing cats and dogs, having to move constantly because of harassment from neighbors about Curly and the specialized terrariums.

Curly has also been costly in terms of relationships because I have never been lucky enough to find a woman that will accept a giant centipede as part of the romantic package.  I have tried again and again to make sure Curly stays in the terrarium but somehow Curly knows when there is a woman in the house and miraculously gets out of the best built terrarium and the woman invariably gets bit.

I now keep anti-venom in the fridge and am quite expert in injecting the anti-venom into the heart directly which means the lady in question is totally safe and will recover in a day or two but these incidents just about almost always lead to a break up and/or a law suit.  However, when Curly is cold then Curly will wrap himself around my neck and tickle my ears with his antennae affectionately and that’s when I know that I have made the right decision to keep Curly as a pet despite the costs!  I look into his big brown compound eyes and I see love!  Curly loves me and I love Curly and it’s just that simple.

So in conclusion, I think a Peruvian giant yellow-leg centipede can make a great pet!

Hugh Fox Giant Centipede 2

Hugh Fox III - Spider Men

You can also download my autobiography of my struggle with a bipolar condition on  Am I Kitsune on my Google Drive.

WereVerse Universe Baby!

WereVerse Universe at Google Drive Link

Microbreweries in Vietnam

3Legend Brewery

Picture of Legend Brewery above which is at nr  4 Vu Ngoc Phan, Hanoi, one of the few breweries that are known to expats in Hanoi because of the previous German brew master.

The following article was submitted to my blog for publication by Jonathan Gharbi.  Jonathan is the Founder of the beer blog www.beervn.com and he is based in Hanoi, Vietnam.  This article is in response to my earlier article on Microbreweries in Asia.

Since I came to Vietnam, for 1,5 years ago, a newer ending search for good beer and breweries has been going on. After almost a year I realized that there is no imported ale, ipa, stout etc to be found in Vietnam despite 95 millions of beer interested inhabitants. Beer consumption here is high and everywhere you find people drinking beer. In northern Vietnam and Hanoi, the streets are filled with small plastic chairs and tables where people drink bia hoi from lunch time until late evening. Bia hoi is a light beer only with the most basic ingredients, quick and easy to produce which has around 3-4% alcohol and can also be produced easily at the restaurants.

Then some friends who used to meet every Wednesday in Hanoi and drink beer introduced me to the breweries. I was chocked the first time I went to Hoa vien brewery in Hanoi, one of the oldest breweries here, was this really true, do they brew and sell two kinds of beer, full of malt and hops in a real brewery.

1Hoa Vien Brewery Vietnam

2Hoa Vien Brewery Beers

Pictures of Hoa vien brewery and their three beers, Hanoi

I don’t think people understand how it is here in Vietnam, the economy is struggling and many businesses are going bankrupt. The normal price for a glass of tasty beer at one of the microbreweries here is about 35 000 – 40 000 VND (ca 2 USD) it’s not reasonable for the regular worker with a monthly income of 150 USD to consume beer with these prices. Some breweries are really struggling to maintain their production while some already have down scaled. There are a couple of thousands of expats living in Vietnam and their consumption of beers is to low to justify an import unless it’s consumed by locals also. Many expats does not know about the existence of these breweries, they are often unseen in media, on the web and some of them also lack English speaking staff which makes it difficult for foreign customers.

There are about 20 microbreweries in Vietnam whereof about 15 are placed in Hanoi, all are either brewing Czech or German styled beer. The explanation is that Vietnam had strong relations with former DDR and Czechoslovakia and today the largest groups of Vietnamese diasporas is to be found in Germany and Czech republic.

3Legend Brewery Beers

Dunkel, Lager and Munich from Legend brewery (German inspired) at 222 Tran Duy Hung, Hanoi.

4Goldmat Brewery

Black and blond beer from Goldmalt brewery (Czech inspired) at 17 Van phuc, Hanoi.

As mentioned before, they are unknown for most locals and in particular for foreigners, partly because of their low profile but also because the breweries don’t know what good products they have. All the beer are brewed and sold in same place. Only three breweries sell their beer in another pub/restaurant, so unless you visit them there is no chance to taste the beer.

A couple of days ago I was driving around in Hanoi on my motorbike and saw a small sign which said something in Vietnamese with the word PLZEN in it. It looked like any regular restaurant here but I went in to see if they had any beer. Two minutes later I was standing by the taps and was trying three different kinds of Czech beer. Brewed and served at same place. There are only 20 breweries I know off so far but guess after this experience that there are plenty more to be found.

5Nha hang plzen

Two of the three beers served at Nha hang plzen at 167 pho Hoang Ngan, Hanoi.  Is it a seafood restaurant or a microbrewery?

Some breweries have 1-3 percent of foreign customers but some breweries below 1 % which I hope will change later on. Some breweries produce amazing beers, black beer almost like a full bodied stout and lager beer with plenty of malt and charisma. But without homepage, no advertisement or defined as regular Vietnamese restaurants at facebook, there is no chance for a foreigner to find them, in many cases, not even for a Vietnamese. In Europe or North America they would be defined as microbreweries or brewpubs, nothing else. Several times I have asked for the name of the brew master at the breweries which I found out is a very odd question here. The regular answer from the staff is “you mean the guy that makes the beer, I have no idea”.

That’s why I started my beer blog and the brewery tours, to enlighten all beer enthusiasts of all the microbreweries in Vietnam and to encourage the breweries to continue their fantastic work so we can continue to enjoy wonderful beer. If you travel to Vietnam, there is plenty too see but most important of all, it’s a reason to come here only for the beer.

Hugh Fox III - Cereal

You can also download my autobiography of my struggle with a bipolar condition on  Am I Kitsune on my Google Drive.

WereVerse Universe Baby!

WereVerse Universe at Google Drive Link