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The Tentacle

Tom McLaughlin

May 25, 2016
Hidden Museum, Kris Showcase
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian Borneo – We had another exciting weekend! The Friends of the Sarawak Museum (the state where I live) asked for volunteers to set up our collections and tell people about them. I suggested displaying our kris assortment. (A kris is a medium sized dagger, peculiar to the Malay world.)

May 18, 2016
The Thrill of Watching
Tom McLaughlin

"Tomorrow is Sports Day," my wife said on Saturday. "But he is only five years old," I countered. "Still, we have to go," she insisted. I almost said why, but I knew I was beaten. I would have to go.

May 11, 2016
Elections Here and There
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian Borneo – The elections here in Borneo are over. They were held on Saturday after 11 days of campaigning.


May 4, 2016
Father Berrigan – A Life Admired
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian Borneo – The war in Vietnam was a turning point for me during my junior year in high school. We were assigned to do a controversial topic for our speech class and, in a place where sentiment for the war was strong, I choose getting out of Vietnam. This was 1967.

April 27, 2016
Weather, Temples, Swimming and Cannon Fire
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian Borneo – The weather has been crazy! The peninsula (western shore to you Maryland Eastern Shoremen) has been suffering massive drought and high temperatures. Here in Kuching, it has been rainy and cool, not all day rains, but thunderstorms. It does keep us quite cool, well below 30 C (86 F). Nice.

April 20, 2016
Cleaning a Kris to Rejuvenate Its Spirit
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian Borneo – For those who have not been following these columns, a kris is a dagger-like weapon used by the Malays. It is used in a thrusting motion for offense and defensive purposes.

April 13, 2016
Beads Touched by History
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian Borneo – There is a very interesting bead museum in Kuching. That's right, I said beads. I cannot think of anything more boring than beads until I began researching them a few years ago.

April 6, 2016
Kris and Semangat
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian Borneo – Semangat is the ability one has to force an object to defy the laws of physics. For example, the person who has semangat can make a metal object rise against gravity. They can slide a coin across a plain surface without touching it.

March 30, 2016
There Are Strange Things Said and Done
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian Borneo – In trying to piece together the history of this island – from the beginning to 1840 – has been a challenge. You see, I have to read what they wrote and try to interpret what they meant from their point of view.

March 23, 2016
No Eulogy for Her
Tom McLaughlin

I really don't remember much about the Reagan Administration. I was overseas working in Saudi Arabia and then started my teaching career in Berlin, Maryland.

March 16, 2016
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian Borneo – First of all, write what you know. You live in a kampung, so write about that. Tell me the color and shape of the houses.

March 9, 2016
Moving and Discovering New Eats
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian Borneo – The move had been devastating. All day Saturday the lorry and van moved about 2 km between our old flat and the new one.

February 24, 2016
Good and Bad in New Restaurant
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian Borneo – We went to a new restaurant Saturday night and I had high hopes for the food. The owner was a motorcyclist who had travelled the world, and his claim to fame was riding from Alaska to the very tip of South America.

February 17, 2016
The Democrats debate didn’t change my vote
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian Borneo – We finally settled down to watch a Democratic debate here in the "Land Below the Wind." We call it that after a British writer, in the 1930s, wrote a book with that name. We are below the wind, meaning, the typhoons always hit the Philippines but stay well north of here.

February 10, 2016
On The Road Again….
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching Malaysian Borneo – We are moving. Yes, indeed out of here! Our dissatisfaction started when the pool was closed for six months, then a year. Then the weight room fell apart all at once. I think it was because the security guards let their kids play in there. In fact, I know so.

February 3, 2016
Stay the Course: Protect “We The People”
Tom McLaughlin

Ever since my daughter married into a ranching family in Montana, I have been following the problems out west. The latest fiasco seems to play around a group of people who took over a shed in Oregon to protest the increased sentence given to two ranchers. Here is my perspective.

January 27, 2016
A Life Missed – Unregrettably
Tom McLaughlin

I had heard of him, of course. David Bowie. But I simply had not paid any attention to him or his life. It wasn't until he made front page on The New York Times and a big splash in The Economist that I realized he must have done something important and I just missed it.

January 20, 2016
Continuing Adventures in Cave Exploration
Tom McLaughlin

Gua Sireh, Malaysian Borneo – The last time we visited this cave was back in August when we had our dear friend, Dr. Jerry Drawhorn of California, with us. However, we had forgotten our flashlights and could only examine the opening which extended back only about five meters.

January 13, 2016
A Year in Review – Already
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian Borneo – Good lord is the year over with yet? We started out with the Saudis executing 47 people. Now, the Saudi's execute people all the time, but nobody pays any attention because we need their oil.

January 6, 2016
The End of Real Conversations…..
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian Borneo – I love to watch the river travel by. I notice the small whirl pools, the flow of the currents and the deep brown turbidity.

December 23, 2015
Random Facts, No Fiction
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian Borneo – The monsoon season is here. Rain every night and day with some breaks during the afternoons. We don't leave the flat without an umbrella; and we have to use it most times. I don't mind it especially after that horrible smog we had in September and October.

December 16, 2015
Guns and Fear
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian Borneo – Okay, let's see here, I think I have finally understood those people who love the NRA. For those reading this from afar, that's the National Rifle Association, America's foremost defender of the right for anyone, mentally ill, people on no-fly lists and liberals like me, the right to carry an assault rifle, and the bullets that go with it.

December 9, 2015
The "Borneo Boys"...again
Tom McLaughlin

My wife and I have designed, written and printed a comic book called "Borneo Boys." It was an effort to increase the English language skills and a love of history to the students and parents. We wanted to give it free to the children.

December 2, 2015
The Monkey Bar
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian Borneo – The Matang Wildlife Centre has a unique way of raising money. They opened a bar.

November 25, 2015
Worldwide Terrorism and How to Stop It
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian Borneo – The Paris tragedy cost many lives and was the result of a family located in the northern slums of the city. I watched on BBC as hundreds of police stormed the flat and took a few members into custody, while killing two others.

November 18, 2015
Book on Wallace “Somewhat Incomprehensible”
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian Borneo – While in the States, I ordered a book from Harvard University Press. I should have known, of course, that it would be unmanageable and way over my head, but in the frenzy of travel, I did it anyway.

November 11, 2015
Trick or Treat
Tom McLaughlin

Malta, Montana USA –Halloween on the Prairie. My son Dzul, aged 4, dressed up like a cow, very appropriate for this area, while his cousin, 2, donned a kitty cat outfit. They were joined by about 150 friends who came from the ranches around the countryside into town for the festivities.

November 4, 2015
A horse is a horse, of course of course
Tom McLaughlin

Malta, Montana USA – Cody (my son-in-law) had come back from hunting dressed in his camouflage, beaming that he had shot an elk. The animal was being processed for us to have a taste before we leave in about a week. However, the time span had been an eternity for young lovers.

October 28, 2015
Learning a New Way of Life
Tom McLaughlin

Malta, Montana USA – We left Frederick after a whirlwind of activity, of visiting good friends, and accomplishing many necessary tasks. The storage locker was cleaned out and, as usual, it took much longer than I thought.

October 21, 2015
Solving Problems and Pleasant Surprises
Tom McLaughlin

Frederick-Middletown, Maryland USA – We arrived via Baltimore Washington Airport and travelled by taxicab to Braddock Heights. Our good friends, Mike and Debbi awaited our arrival and made us feel welcome.

October 14, 2015
A Trip to Die For – Almost
Tom McLaughlin

Seattle, Washington – It was a terrible flight. A long, hard and uncomfortable journey to the states. It was the first really bad one we had while travelling to America.

October 7, 2015
A lifeline to the past
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian Borneo – Being locked up in my condo because of the smoke and haze (see last week's column), I decided to embark on genealogy. The work turned out to be quite fruitful indeed.

September 30, 2015
Fighting the Smoke and Haze
Tom McLaughlin