Thursday, October 31, 2013

Yes, Thank You... I'm Still Around!

If your month has been as good as mine has, you've been extremely fortunate. I'll hold that hope for you all. Even with losing a couple of favored people from our spinning blue marble I've had a wonderful October.  As I'd mentioned a while back: I have a life that reaches far beyond blogging, and for that I'm eternally grateful.

That said, it's probably only fair to at least check in and make some mention of what I've been up to since that last post on the first of the month.  I've even been a bit slow to answer email and messages asking me "what's up?", and I apologize... I do appreciate you asking.

My most consistently abusive reader prematurely celebrated the demise of this blog, and perhaps one day he'll get his wish. For now I'm enjoying the hundreds of visits a day from people who have discovered what I hope will continue to be a growing cornucopia of information based on my own experiences and not merely borrowed and reworded from elsewhere on the web.

Normally I'm a relatively private person, but let me share a little bit of what my life's like:

I have five books in various stages of production, a couple of family members who need regular care, five men who I meet with weekly as a mentor for about 90 minutes or so (in addition to daily phone contact), keeping in touch by phone, email and messaging with people I care about on different points on Earth, an exercise regimen of sorts, my own personal time for meditation, contemplation and enrichment, a house to keep and the time I spend reading and watching TV. Oh, right... and there's also eating, sleeping and the other minutiae of life.

I'm also asked to speak every so often on travel in Thailand, and that often requires some prep time beforehand - i.e. going through 45,000+ photos taken in Thailand but not well categorized - to assemble relevant photos and prepare speaking notes. Sure, I could just borrow pictures and present them as my own, but that's dishonest.

So, you see, I'm just plain old busy. Too busy for a retired person, that's for damn sure. While this was a nearly all-consuming addiction for me when I began it some 45 months ago, it's not now. I enjoy it, but it's become more of a guilty pleasure to "steal" some time and share with you all.  I'm not throwing in the towel, but - obviously - I'm not posting like I used to.  It's my hope that after this upcoming presentation I'll be able to get back to the list of posts in progress and be here more often.

In the meantime, don't give up on me. I DO answer emails, and consider those of you who've stuck with me as peripheral friends. I'm here if I can help.

So... why today to catch up? First, I'd like to be able to say I've at least posted a couple of times a month lately, and second, today is one of my favorite holidays... All Hallow's Eve. Second only to Christmas, in my book.

Hallowe'en (invariably misspelled in the U.S.A. today as Halloween), is something we've already covered - acknowledging some of how this odd holiday is observed in Thailand [Halloween: Drag Out The Feather Boas] and I've shared some about how I observe it here stateside [Ghosts, Ghouls And Goblins: It's Halloween]. It's a delightful holiday, so I thought I'd add a few postcards from a family scrapbook that commemorate the day.

These were all from around 1910, when they only required a penny stamp to mail.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

A Reader's Research Request

This mophead hydrangea (hydrangea macrophylla) in Bangkok has nothing to do with today's post whatsoever, but it's a nice image, I suppose.

A request came in a little while ago from reader Kai Jonas, a doctor looking for gay men willing to participate in a survey of travelers and expats being run from Amsterdam in the Netherlands as part of an ongoing project, so I figured I'd put it out there for anyone who wants to participate. I personally have no connection with this research, and while I've completed the survey you're all (naturally) free to make up your own minds if you wish to participate or not. It's not just internet spam... this is a legitimate research project, done with the cooperation of the Amsterdam Health Authority.

What's it all about?  In a nutshell, it's about gay travelers and expats having sex while traveling or living abroad.  There.  THAT got some of your ears up. I'd question their thought that "having sex while travelling or while living abroad has become normal", but maybe that's just me... for the traveling part, anyway.

Since I run a reasonably family-friendly site here I'll offer you the (almost needless) cautionary warning about sexual images in the survey, but the very few you're asked about are clinical in nature and not prurient in the least.

Read the explanatory introductory letter below from Dr. Kai Jonas, the man who sent it to me, and then make your own decision about taking it yourself.  They say it takes 10 to 15 minutes to complete, but I'd say that'd only be if you gave the questions a LOT of thought, and I'm guessing most answers will come to you faster than that.

If you want to see results of the survey at some point in the future you have a chance at the end of the survey to provide an email address to receive them.  Seemed worthwhile to me.

To take the survey, click HERE, and I've added the doctor's introductory letter below. As usual, the link should open a new window for you.

Thanks for asking, Kai. I hope you get some helpers from this post.


Survey on Sexual Health Risks for Gay Travellers To and Expats Living in SE Asia

In modern societies, having sex while travelling or while living abroad has become normal. Yet, there are certain health risks (sexually transmitted diseases or infections = STI/STD) related to this. Little is known on how gay men deal with these risks and how prevention and medical treatment can be improved for this group. 

In this project, in cooperation with the Amsterdam Health Authority, we want to gather data in order to tailor information and prevention for this group. Why do we do this from Amsterdam? There are two reasons. First of all, we are gay ourselves and open to the issues of gay men worldwide. Secondly, Amsterdam is an international hub and often sees gay travellers and expats with STIs and STDs. 

In this study we are seeking information regarding your time in Thailand or Southeast Asia. When we speak of Thais or Thailand in this study it is an example, you may think of other countries, like Laos, Cambodia, etc. too. You are also going to see sexually explicit images. But it is going to be fun! 

The study takes, on average, 15-20 minutes. Your answers are fully anonymous. We are not interested in single cases, but want to investigate trends across many participants. 

If you have questions regarding the study, please get in contact with the principal investigator of the project, Dr. Kai J. Jonas, The study has been approved by the ethics commission of the University of Amsterdam (CE 2013-2835)