Monday, December 12, 2016

Sucky Band Attack, Biking And Phoning Incidentals, And A Little Trash On The Side

There is some horrible band playing somewhere outside that has a female singer singing terribly off-key, and every single song they have played for the last hour is just D major moving to E major and then back and forth again. It's so bad it's awesome. But I've just shut my windows, because I just can't do it any more. D and E are swell keys, don't get me wrong, but after a while of this bichordal massacre accompanied by an atonal screeching bellow, it just loses its magic. Every song sounds like "Dreams" by Fleetwood Mac, ground into bloodsausage and distorted by a bad acid trip.  I can still hear it somewhat even with the windows closed, behind the motorcycle noises and the beeping horns. At least it's not loud enough to resonate through my bones.

Today I got my oil changed and some minor maintenance done on my motorbike. Stuff like getting the chain tightened, adjusting the shift kicker, etc. I'll most likely be leaving Hanoi in a couple of weeks, and it was getting to be about time for an oil change anyway. I've also been trying to find a new fanny pack (I know you're not supposed to call it that because some English speakers get bent about it, but I do anyway), since the one I've had for the last year or so is starting to disintegrate. But I can't find one here that is big enough and water-resistant enough. Not that mine is water-resistant any more. The inner lining has slowly been deteriorating, and I've had to keep the whole thing together with various sewing repairs. I bought one in Thailand by just eyeballing it, and I took it home, and it didn't fit my compact umbrella at all, and it only held a little more than half the stuff I keep in my other one. So it wasn't big enough, but it was only about four bucks, so no big deal. I haven't seen many suitable ones here; most of them are small and flimsy. But I'll keep looking.

I also finally bit the bullet and bought a new smartphone, a Sony Xperia XZ with 64 meg of internal storage, and an SD card slot for expansion. I was at first hoping to get an LG V10, but then somebody told me that phone has been randomly plagued with some horrible infinite bootloop problem, and I don't want to take a chance on that. That's something you don't see when you're looking online, but then when someone tells you about it, you add "infinite bootloop" to the search term, and suddenly you see it all over the damned place. 

Then I was thinking about the LG V20, but it is expensive as hell, and also seems to be pretty darn unavailable here, despite places that advertise it. But then you go to those places, and they all tell you it is out of stock. I had someone keeping their eye out for one; they told me they thought they could find one (that is often the way commerce happens here...someone in a store goes somewhere else to find something, or says they have a line on it and then they get it from somewhere in a few days). But I finally decided to go with this phone, so I told the person to stop looking for the other one.

I've been spending most of the day getting it up to speed, installing apps and the like. It looks like it will have plenty of room, which was the issue with my old one (it had been filling up on internal memory, and I've just been cannibalizing it for a couple of months to keep it working), but it definitely either has a few bizarre quirks or I just have to get with the learning curve on it. All in all, though, it seems like a fairly decent phone. It's unlocked, so I can get local SIM cards if I need them, and in this part of the world, they are pretty cheap. But it doesn't look like I'll be able to get a US nano SIM card for quite a while, because mail is so slow that I need to sit somewhere for a while to get it, and I'll be leaving my apartment soon.  That is not that big a deal either, because my US phone carrier doesn't work in Vietnam and Laos anyway. It will work in Thailand and Cambodia, and most of the other nations in the region. It will probably take me a while to get it tweaked to how I will need it, with all the apps I need, and all the capabilities fully figured out. But it looks like wifi calling is out of the question with this phone, which is unfortunate. Yes, I could probably get around that somehow by rooting my phone and then flashing it with some pirated BIOS or something, but no thanks.  Maybe I'll try that some day with a phone I don't actually need.  I think I can get a workaround to bypass the lack of wifi calling, though, by using Google Voice with a VPN to the US (that's how I'm able to use wifi calling for the most part anyway, by doing it through a VPN with a US IP address), or by using Skype, if I need to call actual phone numbers (Skype might charge a few cents per minute, not sure). I can also talk to people with Facebook Messenger for free, just can't get through to financial institutions and businesses back home that way if I have a banking problem or something like that. And most businesses are just not set up for online communication very well, especially from other countries. But for most of my friends and family, that will work. And, at least I will still have my old phone (it has a micro SIM, which unfortunately is the wrong size for my new phone), so I can use it just for wi-fi calling and maybe for data and texting in the countries where I get that for free with the US plan. I'll just strip it of apps and data so it'll be useful for a while longer. This is all a temporary phone solution...but maybe by the time I am ready for a more permanent solution (maybe a year down the line or so), I'll be in a place where I can get stuff mailed to me easily, and also they will be coming out with crazy powerful phones by then. For instance, the Samsung S8 is supposed to be out sometime next year, and it is rumored to have 256 GB of internal memory. Of course, by then apps will have grown accordingly, too, so likely we'll all still be coming up against storage limits we can't even imagine now.

Speaking of phones, while I was researching phones, I found out that Marshall (yes, the Marshall that makes the amps) has a smartphone called the Marshall London, which is supposed to have the most badass sound of any phone anywhere. But that's about its only redeeming feature; its storage is measly, and the software for anything other than sound is reportedly not that great. There is supposed to be a monster smartphone from the future called the Turing Phone Cadenza, that has specs that are just unbelievable compared to every other phone on Earth, but if you go the the company's homepage (Turing Robotic Industries), you just get a message that says, “Because of a failure to pay its vendors TRI can no longer use this page to communicate with customers.” Seriously, that's not a good sign.

Funny, I never cared about monjo smartphones before. But now that I'm abroad, with a phone that is running out of oomph, and with few options to get a new one, I'm starting to think about more powerful phones. And this from a guy who didn't even have a smartphone until a couple of years ago.

And that brings me to trash. Don't ask me why it brings me there, it's just the next thing I thought of. I'm not quite sure how the whole trash thing happens here. You just put it in a bag, and then put it outside just about anywhere, and within a few days it is gone. Whoever picks it up ultimately is not the first one to encounter it. There are people going up and down the street looking for the good stuff first. Sometimes trash will get gone through several times before it ultimately meets whatever fate it meets, which is a complete mystery to me. I figure cans are reliably some of the best stuff; I've heard that people pick the cans right away. I try to keep the cans in separate bags so whoever comes along to scavenge them doesn't have to dig through other stuff. But people are also looking for stuff that expats abandon in their sometimes short tenures here too...there's probably a lot of perfectly good stuff that gets sent to the curb (not that there are curbs here) by people from other countries who rent short-term apartments and then move on. The whole thing is also complicated by the fact that you can't flush your toilet paper here, you have to throw used toilet paper away. So I try to keep that in separate bags too, so nobody has to go through that looking for other stuff. But who knows, there might be people who collect the used toilet paper for fuel or compost or something. I just don't have much of a handle on the whole trash thing and the complete picture of how it works. And people burn stuff in the street and on the sidewalk all the time. There are constantly fires going on around. Some of them are for street cooking, and some are just to burn stuff to get rid of it. Or maybe some combination thereof. There was a huge tree trunk right in a busy, narrow street for a while, and every day, it got burned down a little more, until one day after several weeks it was gone. I am constantly running into people running radial saws, angle grinders, or other machinery on the sidewalk or in the street. And there is a lot of welding out in the open, too...I will occasionally suddenly run across someone welding among the traffic, and I will quickly avert my eyes so I don't get a big burnhole on my retina from looking at it.

1 comment:

  1. This is a fantastic post, rich with orderly chaos seen through the eyes of a newcomer. Trash is the tell-tale heart of civilization. Archaeologists mostly study trash.