There are always so many interesting happenings, events and observations around that would be fun to include when writing a diary. However, there really are too many, all of them truly interesting, at least to me, but wouldn’t fill a page. I still save them, however, so once in a while I need to “cull” that file. I decided that today is the day.

The most recent addition is an event that happened just this week. We went to a concert and, as I watched the place fill up, I was amazed but only because I am still new at this “retirement community” stuff. My thought: where else could a concert be scheduled for 4 on a Tuesday afternoon and have a full house?

Speaking of a retirement community living by a different calendar than the rest of the culture, the local farmers’ market is held on Thursday mornings. It was there that I heard the most recent of my “everyone has an interesting story” collection.

“Jim’s Place” is a small stall selling vegetables and herb plants. I could tell Jim was a character, so of course I had to engage him in a little conversation between other customers. It wasn’t hard to do. He had been a landscaping contractor in New York City when he heard about the opportunity to apply to do the landscaping at Disneyworld, which was just being built at the time. He got the job, moved to Florida. He spent two years in training about wildlife and the ecology of the area, then did all of the irrigation systems including keeping the Animal Kingdom’s polar bears misted.

One example of his interesting background was that one day in Florida he was telling a worker to “be careful about that fire hose laying across the road.” Then he realized the “hose” was moving: it was a timber rattlesnake. Their landscaping work was disturbing the natural habitat of the snake. Its natural diet was wild pigs in the area. He called the local zoo, which got it captured and subsequently also measured. It was 20 feet long, its head was 8 inches, and it had about 8 inches of rattles on its tail.

Jim’s wife became ill and needed a drier climate for her health, so they moved to Arizona. Here he built all of the irrigation landscaping systems for the western suburbs of Phoenix, and that’s a huge area. Now Jim is “retired,” and he stated emphatically, “I grow only what I want to grow.”

When we were coming home from Bangkok, our stopover and aircraft change was in Shanghai, on the mainland of China. In the airline’s lounge I picked up a local English language newspaper. Spouse Roger read it too, so I asked him if he could tell from the newspaper that it wasn’t exactly an example of “free press.” He agreed that he could.

The first noticeable difference was that all the in-country news was good news. What a huge change that is from what we read every day. The only thing that would be the equivalent of bad news would be what little was included there from abroad. In other words, all good news happens there, and all bad somewhere else.

Another clue as to where we were was in the terminology of the reporting. One headline: “Reeducating rappers: China’s patriotic hip-hop quickly gains steam as rappers repent past deviations.” One rapper was quoted, “If American rappers want to talk about oppression in their society, they have every right…But I have never personally experienced oppression, instead I want to focus on the opportunities and advantages I’ve experienced living in China.” One sub-title said, “China hopes to transform local hip-hop into a positive influence, but will punish those who cross the line.” Evidently that rapper had learned his lesson and repented.

Some of the other headlines: “U.S. repays Pakistani cooperation with enmity,” and “Can Germany overcome bias against China?” Another article talked about “education the foundation for core values in new area,” so history lectures are being conducted in a village in a northwest province, to “enhance the local sense of identification with Chinese culture, socialism with Chinese characteristics and the Communist Patty of China.” I guess that’s “reeducation” too, but without the need for repentance.

The last item to get pulled out of that ideas file was a year-end column by one of my favorite columnists in the Bangkok Post, Roger Crutchley. He was taking “A look back at another ‘amazing’ year.” Thailand has for many years advertised itself as an outstanding tourist destination (tourism is their number two industry, second only to exporting rice) using the slogan of “Amazing Thailand.” Crutchley has, for just as long, used the slogan to poke a bit of fun at events or situations in Thailand that are just as amazing but not in the same way intended by the slogan.

This year’s look back included a “Salute to selfies: Never before in the annals of recorded human history have so many people taken so many mindless photographs of themselves doing so many things that are of absolutely no interest to anyone.” Mr. Crutchley is mistaken if he thinks that ugly behavior is only seen in amazing Thailand.

Crutchley’s pick for Amazing Thailand’s quote of the year was “Don’t they sell tyres?” A street food vendor had been told that her business was being awarded a Michelin star for outstanding food. The 72-year-old woman had never heard of the stars, but she knew about Michelin tires.

There’s a lot more Amazing Thailand quotes in that file, along with a bunch of other fun notes. The problem is I can add more faster than I can use them up. That’s amazing too.