Monday, September 22, 2008

Daily Report: Of Cokes and Cocktails

It was out to Basamanggas Resort again to do the final planning for the wedding. This time, we brought along the wedding planners. So it was Epril and myself, Epril's mother and Aunty Puring, four people from the wedding planner, and two people from the resort.

We walked around the different areas of the hotel where the wedding would be held: The ceremony itself, cocktail hour, the reception, and then off to the nearby park where we will be having the local celebrity radio deejay (with an opening band playing oldies dance music) put on an outdoor nightclub which the whole village can enjoy.

Basically it was Epril and I walking around pointing out the general layout of things ("some tables here, put the bar here") and little nitpicks ("can you get that waterfall working?").

We then went to the restaurant and ordered all of the little fingerfoods that would be served during cocktails (shrimp, calamari, tempura, and cheese sticks), and then the wedding planners and hotel managers set about figuring the numbers.

It was then, I think, that the wedding planners realized that the cost of the wedding they were putting on, and the price which they charged me for it were much closer together than they were happy with. It was when I started rattling off a list of sodas to bring up to the cocktail hour (150 cokes, a case of Diet Coke, soda water, tonic water...) that they stopped me and said, "You never mentioned that you would need sodas."

So basically because the wedding planners' profit margin got too low, I now have to shell out $100 to pay for the soda at the cocktail hour. Also, I didn't plan for enough chairs and tables at the concert in the park, so in order to double that number, I have to pay out another $20 for that. It's just annoying more than anything. Mostly now I'm just nervous that when the wedding rolls around, I'll be hit with all kinds of "but you didn't ask" surprises: "Excuse me, but why is everybody drinking beer out of bottles and soda out of cans?" "Because you didn't say you wanted glasses."

Friday, September 19, 2008

Daily Report: (Bad For) Mental Health Day

I missed work this morning, as Epril and I drove out to Jasaan today to meet with the Mayor there, who is going to be marrying us. (Aside story: Catholic church? You need less paperwork to get an American passport than to get a Catholic marriage certificate. Protestant church? None within 20 miles of Jasaan, and no Protestant minister was willing to marry people outside of the 4 walls of his church. Judge? Out of town for the weekend.) Our scheduled meeting with the mayor was unfortunately cancelled, as Hizzoner was still in Manila... couldn't even be reached by telephone.

So, in order to make the trip not a complete waste, we went to the resort hotel where the wedding would be. We found a gorgeous pavillion up on the hill overlooking the ocean and the islands, surrounded by tropical gardens and trees where we would have the ceremony. A nearby little gathering of bamboo nipa huts and shade trees would be the place for the cocktails and chitchat with guests after Epril and I are married. After that, we went down to the restaurant, where Epril and I (and mom and dad and Auntie Puring and Uncle Bob) settled on, ordered, and ate the 5 dishes that will be served at our wedding.

Epril and I then drove back to Cagayan De Oro, with a stop at the wedding planner, who will be joining us for a trip back out to Jasaan on Monday for a look at all the facilities.

When I got home in the early afternoon, the internet was down, and stayed down for 90 minutes. Then, when the internet came back on, I found that my VPN was broken. After 60 minutes working with technical support it was (by sheer luck) discovered that somehow my password had been changed to "password". Complete effing mystery, that.

So by the time I got logged back in to work, it was time to go out again: Epril and I went off to Spooks Friday evening family buffet, where we dropped of wedding invitations to our friends there. My side of the wedding guests (which includes friends that Epril and I have made together) totals 7 couples from Cagayan de Oro, 5 friends from Thailand, an old friend and his wife from Manila, and my mother, father, and sister from America. Epril's side of the wedding guests (which includes her family and old local friends) is... well... a complete mystery to me actually. I've teased her about not inviting enough people, and told her that I'm paying for 150 people regardless of how many show up... so the total had better be close to that. She just smiles and nods her head, and says she'll try.

Epril and I got home at 7:30 and watched Ratatouille on The Disney Channel.

Oh: I finally hooked up the Playstation 3 to the internet yesterday. It has a built-in internet browser as well. So altogether, it's a Playstation 3, Playstation 2, Blu-Ray player, DVD player, and internet terminal... all for $500. Surfing the internet on a 60-inch computer monitor from your comfy couch is definitely cool too.

So, all in all, a rather fruitful, frustrating, involuntary day away from work.

I'm Sure You Won't Miss That Money

The $85 billion that the federal government spent saving AIG from sinking represents exactly $283 for every man, woman, and child in America. Every man, woman, and child in America was forced to shell out $283 because a private business made very bad business decisions.

It's one thing (although still not acceptable in my eyes) when farmers or airlines are on the verge because they can't compete in the modern world, and the federal government helps them out. It's a completely new level of government funding of poor private business practices and weaknesses though when the federal government saves a private business from it's own stupid mistakes.

Looks like the new price tag is $700 billion... You just spent $2,333 because Wall Street financial tycoons were too greedy. Well, I've been bitching that the $700 billion we've spent so far on the 6-year Iraq war could have been better-spent domestically. Here's my reward.

(And yes... I'm well aware that the alternative not spending $700 billion, and doing nothing instead was likely much worse. Perhaps the 3,000 or 4,000 people who were making $3 million or $4 million per year off of these deals might be "encouraged" to kick in just a little extra instead. What ever happened to The Stupid Tax?)

Oh Snap! Now THAT'S An Insult

Written by Bryan (just Bryan) of (the snarkiest website on the internet) regarding The Lady Lynn Forrester De Rothschild, Democrat doyenne, telecom heiress, Hillary supporter, who married a rich English lord several decades her senior, who now is declaring her support for the Republican ticket:
"Oh, you may SAY you're pro-choice, but it sure is easy to support Sarah Palin and lie to yourself that she's a centrist when you're menopausal and the only thing that comes out of your husband's dick is a small cloud of stale Earl Grey powder."
Sometimes, a great insult is a clever double entendre, or a puckish play of words, or a well-conceived witticism to express your dislike for people, deftly using their own smarmy qualities to belittle them. Other times it's just . . . exactly right . . . to go ahead and crudely insult their spouse's genitals. I don't know why this is so. It just is.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Worth Mentioning

For those of you who have been living far from the internet over the past year, Failblog is one of the funniest websites around. It finds examples of... well... "fail" (and "win") from around the world and puts them up for your enjoyment.

Video Surveillance Fail - Up Here Silly

Monday, September 15, 2008

JJ Music Club Again

At least one of you is enjoying the voyage through my outré and recherché musical tastes, so (since I'm too busy with work and wedding to type much else):

About 20 years ago, a friend of the family introduced me to Yo Yo Ma's collaboration with Bobby McFerrin, and I was instantly hooked... primarily on Bobby McFerrin and his voice.

This is easily one of his best performances:

Instant Classic

It's perfect because I'm absolutely sure it is exactly what Hillary would say (if she could).

Saturday, September 13, 2008

JJ Music Club

I first discovered the Bulgarian Women's Choir by accident, hanging out at the college radio station one day about 15 years ago listening to promotional tapes that record labels sent in. I've been a fan ever since.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Fair Questions

Here's a simple test: Read these 20 reasonable questions that the press would like to ask potential President Sarah Palin. Ask yourself if she has the knowledge and wisdom to actually be able to answer them. Ask yourself if you want this woman as president of your country. Ask yourself if you want this woman thrown into a face-to-face situation with a hostile, cunning or lubricious world leader.

  1. In a broad and long-term sense, would you have responded differently to the attacks of 9/11?
  2. Is Iraq a democracy?
  3. What’s the difference between a Sunni and a Shiite?
  4. What is your preferred plan for peace between Israel and Palestine? A two state solution? What about Jerusalem?
  5. How do you feel about French President Nicolas Sarkozy's recent visit to Syria? Do you believe the United States should negotiate with leaders like President Bashar al-Assad?
  6. Nearly 40 percent of the world's population lives in China and India. Who are those countries' leaders?
  7. Do you support the U.S.-India Civil Nuclear Agreement, which would lift restrictions on sales of nuclear technology and fuel to India, a country which hasn’t signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty?
  8. Other than more drilling, what steps do you suggest the U.S. take in order to move toward energy independence? Do you believe more investment is needed in alternative energy research? If so, how would you recommend this funding be allocated?
  9. How would you balance concerns over human rights and freedom in China with the United States' growing economic interdependence with that country?
  10. What's more important: securing Russia's cooperation on nuclear proliferation and Iran, or supporting Georgia's NATO bid? If Vladimir Putin called you on the phone and said, "It's one or the other," what would you tell him?
  11. Critique the foreign policy of the last administration. Name its single greatest success, and its most critical failure.
  12. What do you think will be the most defining foreign-policy issue in the next five years?
  13. What role should the United States play in the global effort to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS? Should it support contraception, or abstinence only?
  14. You've said that the federal government spends too much money. What, in your view, is the appropriate level of spending as a percentage of GDP?
  15. You're an advocate of reducing environmental restrictions on drilling. How much oil needs to be found in the United States before the country achieves energy independence?
  16. What are your picks for the three most enlightening books written on foreign policy in the last five years?
  17. Who among the world's leaders can be listed as the top three friends of the United States and why?
  18. In your opinion, which U.S. president was the most successful world leader and why?
  19. Which U.S. political thinkers, writers, and politicians would you enlist to advise you on matters of foreign policy and why?
  20. Who is the first world leader you'd like to meet with and why?
Ask yourself honestly if you think Joe Biden or Barack Obama (or John McCain) haven't spent a fair portion of their years pondering these questions (and many others) and how to answer them. Ask yourself if you believe Sarah Palin has. It's a fair question.

By the way: It looks like Charlie Gibson, being the first to interview Sarah Palin, may not be tossing her the softball biopic questions that everybody thought he would. Check out this video teaser of the interview. Two questions: First, what does she think of the Bush Doctrine (which gives America the right of anticipatory self defense)? (Summary of the answer: She has no idea what it is, and grasps about in vague generalities until Mr. Gibson pushes her in the right direction.) Second, does she support unilateral American sorties into Waziristan without Pakistani permission or support? (Summary of the answer: She uses general campaign talking points and sound bites in vague generalities that could be used to answer any question regarding specifities and tactics of the war on terror in any country anywhere on the planet.)

Sunday, September 7, 2008


Davis says Palin won't give any interviews until she feels "comfortable" giving one. And this morning he added that she wouldn't give any "until the point in time when she'll be treated with respect and deference."

Sarah Palin could be the President of the United States in four and a half months. We tend to think of this as an abstraction; but it's true. And yet today she's so unprepared and knows so little about the challenges and tasks facing the country that she can't even give a softball interview.

Josh Marshal,
Talking Points Memo

New Kid On The Blog.

My best buddy Stan, back in Pattaya, has put up a blog of his own. Go over there and say hello!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Moving Along

We got all of the spelling errors taken out of the first draft of the wedding invitations today.

In the evening, it was out to Zax, where I hired the world's best wedding band to be the opening act for the M-O-R. deejays.

I love being just floored by talent, and this band definitely did that. I was talking to the lead singer before he went on and said, "You know, with your band and the girls singing... have you ever heard of Boney-M?" (Boney-M is a relatively obscure German pop group from the 1970s.)

"Oh... Rivers of Babylon!"


"Daddy Cool?"

"Not sure... I just know a song called Rasputin."

"Sure. I've heard of them."

He then went on stage, and the band proceeded to do five (did they even write more songs than that?) songs in a row from Boney-M, including Rasputin... fantastic. And for those of you coming to the wedding, wait until you hear their "Platters medley." Doo-whop will come alive in the jungles of Mindanao.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

I Was Sort Of Right, They Are Ever So Wrong

My predictions over the candidates' vice presidential picks were a little off. Obama didn't pick John Edwards... but the disclosure of Senator Edwards' secret love child with his mistress, well... I certainly can be excused for not seeing that one coming.

I actually got Senator McCain's vice presidential pick correct in a way: I predicted he would pick a woman. I just didn't expect him to pick a completely unknown, vastly unqualified and hyper-psycho-conservative woman. Sheesh.

I thoroughly enjoy listening to McCain's campaign staff explain how this woman, Sarah Palin, has so much "executive experience". They claim that being governor of Alaska makes her more qualified to be President than Obama's vice presidential pick, Joe Biden, with 36 years in the Senate (or even John McCain, apparently, by association). They seem to think that 20 months of governing the 4th-least-populated state in America (fewer people than Memphis, Tennesee) combined with a minor in political science from The University of Idaho is all that a person needs in order to be President of The United States. (I won't even get into the "governing Alaska which is right next to Russia and Canada = more foreign policy experience than Obama" idea some conservatives are trying out.)

Just a thought: Obama's campaign has more people working for it than there are employees of the executive branch of the Alaskan state government. Hell, if you include volunteers, Obama's campaign has more people working for it than the small village of which Sarah Palin was mayor has living in it.

For those of you who are hip and cool enough to get it, I read a comment on another blog that summed up the Republican ticket so perfectly:

Tigh/Roslin '08.

Monday, September 1, 2008

When We Were Ugly

"Applicants to the Paramount Motion
Picture School", May 1925.
I spent a few hours last night looking through this site,, which is just a collection of old photographs mostly from about 1860 to 1940. It's a lot of fun. I spent a lot of time looking at the people and you know what I noticed? People were really really ugly back at the turn of the 20th century. Rich and poor people alike... everybody was ugly.

Mrs. Raymond Belmont,
wife of the famous banker
and equestrian (Belmont
Park). He didn't marry
for looks, obviously.
Dec. 1915.
I looked at the men and women — well, mostly the women; I'm not a good judge of male beauty — and found them all to be at best average-looking by today's standards. The mill workers and migrant farmers, the debutantes and the actresses, the athletes and the students... all generally unattractive.

Grace Valentine, famous film
actress, 1920.
But then, oddly enough, in the pictures that started in the 1940's, people became better-looking. The women looked more feminine with softer features. The men seemed better-looking as well. Could modern medicine, access to better nutrition, and (dare I say?) selective breeding have improved/changed our appearances in a century so substantially?

Ruth Malcomson, Miss America, 1924.
I suppose it is possible to say that even though I looked through 600 photographs, and examined several thousand faces — and found the majority of them could be considered "homely" — I somehow got a poor sampling of faces from the turn of the century, but I doubt it. Of course, there were a few pretty faces to be seen as well... but none of them so far above average as to be remarkable (note the photo of Miss America here). Mostly, I think it is safe to say that we are definitely and considerably better looking than we were a century ago.