Thursday, December 31, 2009

Daily Report: New Year

We were out for New Year's Eve to visit our friends, Warren and Jen.

Here is Epril all made up for a New Year's party.

Warren had spent a bunch on food and fireworks. The dozens of kids were in for a big treat. (The adults too... God, the food was good.)

Warren lights sparklers for the kids...

Who ran around the neighborhood... uh... sparkling.

There were roman candles...

and lots of happy faces...

Here we are, just after midnight.

Here is a bit of video of the fireworks that Warren bought (one box is about $7). There were fireworks going off everywhere, all around us in the neighborhood. To be honest, in terms of fireworks, it was almost as good as Pattaya Beach at New Years.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Daily Report: As Days Should Be

I wrote and asked my company to replace my 8-year-old computer with a new one. Their reply was, "We inherited you from another company. We don't want an employee who works in Asia. We certainly aren't going to give you a new computer. Maybe we'll just get rid of you."

That's comforting, eh?

Anyway, I don't know about you, but hearing something like that straightens my spine: I started work exactly on time, cranked out the work until exactly my lunch break, came back at exactly the scheduled time, and worked exactly until quitting time.

During lunch break, Epril and I joined older sister Susan and her boyfriend Jans for a swim up at Kahulugan Pool Resort. We had a relaxing and lovely 90 minutes out in the jungle in the cold spring water.

In the evening, I watched Batman The Dark Knight for about the tenth time. It was on HBO HD, and I must say it was just as good a picture as my (deceased) Playstation 3 BluRay player.

After that, Epril and I joined Susan and Jans, his cousin Ron Schreuder, and Steve and Helen at Ron's bar, Glitz, where we knocked back beers almost until midnight.

There was a class reunion party tonight at the big bandstand in the park. There has been a party there pretty much every moment since December 22nd or so. Walking back from Glitz, I marveled how perfectly Jasaan captures the ideal of small town life, with its vibrant but subdued social scene, (mostly/usually) quiet streets filled with folks out walking and kids playing, friendly businesses, and a genuinely welcoming people.

Monday, December 28, 2009

One In A Billion

When it comes to China, I always think about the saying, "In China, if you are one in a million, there are a million other people just like you."

There sure as hell ain't a million versions of this toddler in China.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Fix Airline Security and Stop Punishing Passengers

To add one more level of craziness to air flight (as is pretty much standard operating procedure with every new terrorist incident aboard an airliner), passengers are no longer allowed to have anything on their laps for the final hour of a flight, and are not allowed to stand up.

And the airlines wonder why they are dying? It's not the terrorists that are killing them, it's their reaction... overreaction... that is killing them. They (and their passengers) need to tell the TSA that this has gone beyond ridiculous into insanity.

Stop with the in-flight stupidity; improve passenger screening. Airlines are punishing passengers for what is clearly a problem with the airport security apparatus. Improve scanners, improve procedures, improve training, and improve the job benefits so that you are not forced to hire retards for the job of ensuring aircraft safety. Oh: Paying 100 times more attention to the people who fit terrorist profiles (you know... single males from certain countries is a really good indicator) than you do to old couples from Tampa and families from Spokane would probably help immensely too.

Security expert Bruce Schneier added a nice bit of snark I felt to be worth quoting:
I wish that, just once, some terrorist would try something that you can only foil by upgrading the passengers to first class and giving them free drinks.

The Assoc Press Points Out Republican Hypocrisy

The A.P. has an article out talking about how the same Republicans who passed the Medicare prescription benefit over Democratic objections to the debt-busting bill are the same Republicans who fought against the lower-costing Democrat-sponsored healthcare overhaul, which actually (according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office) will pay for itself with higher taxes and spending cuts.
"As far as I am concerned, any Republican who voted for the Medicare drug benefit has no right to criticize anything the Democrats have done in terms of adding to the national debt," said Bruce Bartlett, an official in the administrations of Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. He made his comments in a Forbes article titled "Republican Deficit Hypocrisy."

Bartlett said the 2003 Medicare expansion was "a pure giveaway" that cost more than this year's Senate or House health bills will cost. More important, he said, "the drug benefit had no dedicated financing, no offsets and no revenue-raisers. One hundred percent of the cost simply added to the federal budget deficit."

The pending health care bills in Congress, he noted, are projected to add nothing to the deficit over 10 years.
Pretty damning stuff. It's good to finally see a little push-back against the false reality that has been in place these last 10 months or so... that a certain party in Congress is the "budget balancing" party, while the other is not.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Daily Report: The Loudest Christmas Evah

Epril and her sisters
out partying.
Christmas in The Philippines is a party... a gigantic birthday party. From early Christmas Eve to late Christmas night, the party goes on. It started off at sundown on Christmas Eve with every house in the neighborhood having a party, playing music, and serving food. The streets are filled with folks walking around and enjoying the evening.

After the parties end, everybody goes to church for the Midnight Mass. After that, all of the parties (plus lots of firecrackers) resume until 3:00 or later in the morning.

A preacher entertains the neigh-
borhood with a loud sound system.
For us here at our house (at our corner), Christmas morning started at 7 a.m. with a loud P.A. system being set up. First, a lady came on and started getting all the local kids involved in various games such as musical chairs and "hip-hip hooray", shouting instructions and blasting music over the sound system. Then local officials came on the scene at about 10:00 and gave various speeches. In between was more loud music. Then a preacher emcee came on who shouted the evangel of Christmas for most of the afternoon. Then, from sundown until 3:00 in the morning, was a disco. (Just to add insult to injury, the person running the disco seemed to have brought only one re-mixed CD with him with only 10 songs on it... and it just recycled the same songs about every 30 minutes.)

Anyway, I took Tyson out for a walk in the morning, and snapped these 2 more tranquil photos. First various groups of sacristans walk through town carrying a Christ child to be kissed by the villagers. Here was one such group meeting up with a couple of the locals in their go-cart.

On the village green sits this very typical Filipino house with a cement menagerie in the front yard. Tyson had a fit the first time he walked past the hippopotamus, but now he just pees on it every time.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Eric Massa, Real Principles

I know: You come to a blog about The Philippines and wind up reading about a junior Congressman from Upstate New York. Can't help it.

I've said already that I'm against the U.S. Healthcare reform bill. This is primarily because my Congressman (a Democrat) from back home is against it. Congressman Eric Massa says that the original intentions, the original effectiveness, and the original scope of the Healthcare bill was completely subverted in committee, and what now is moving through Congress is more damaging to healthcare in America than doing nothing at all. In other words, according to Rep. Massa, if you can't do it exactly the way the Democrats originally proposed to do it, it's too dangerous to do at all. (See my plane analogy below.)

Fortunately 63 other Democrats in the House of Representatives have realized this as well and signed a pledge that they won't vote for any bill that doesn't include the public option — government supplied health insurance. (The current bill just passed in the Senate obligates the nation's poorest Americans to buy health insurance... but only from insurance companies. Does that sound like intelligent reform to you?)

Now, here is the point where Eric Massa stands out for me. Look at this list of the 64 Democratic Congressmen who have pledged to vote against Healthcare reform without the public option (you have to scroll down a bit).

Out of the 64 Congressmen on this list:

18 of them come from districts that are 65% or more Democratic;
15 of them come from districts that are 60% to 65% Democratic;
17 of them come from districts that are 55% to 60% Democratic;
13 of them come from districts that are 50% to 55% Democratic; and
1 of them comes from a Republican majority district: Eric Massa.

Say what you will about the decision Congressman Massa is making, you can't argue one point: This is a politician who puts his principles and his values and his campaign promises ahead of his office, his reelection, or his popularity. You have to respect that.

Merry Christmas From Jil and Epril

Remember To Stop By

If you're ever driving by Jasaan, just on the south side of town, directly across from the Petron Station on the highway, you'll see Tikay's... Mike Bird's restaurant. All day long, not a special price, you can pick up 2 hamburgers for 25 pisos. That is 2 hamburgers for 54 cents. You can also get 2 cheeseburgers for 30 pisos, or a 1 kilo rotisserie chicken for 160 pisos ($3.40).

(Kanos: Remember to tell them to hold the candy sauce on the hamburgers. I know you hate it as much as I do.)

Anyway, you can't beat that meal deal folks.

(Well... actually I do know this guy who sells 10-inch pizzas for 86 cents. That's pretty good too.)

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

First Year Reviewed

Andrew Sullivan does a summary of the first year of Obama's presidency, and comes away impressed at the accomplishments. A good read.

Politifact gives it to us in graphical form:

Ho Ho Hum

Just out of curiosity, can anybody remember a Christmas season where Santa DIDN'T rob a bank?

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Defeating The Carolers

I was talking to Steve and Helen about my annoyance at the little kids who "carol" (i.e. shout at the top of their lungs) outside houses here in The Philippines during the Christmas season, looking for money.

Helen had the perfect, simple, and "Christian" (meaning not involving attack dogs or garden hoses) solution to getting rid of the carolers: Go out and buy a bunch of the small sweet dinner rolls that are popular here in The Philippines and give those to the kids when they stop by. They cost less than a piso each, and the kids, knowing that their efforts at sonic extortion will only yield more bread — not cash — will stop coming to your house.

A very elegant, simple, and harmonious solution.

Question About Healthcare

One aspect of the healthcare bill that I have noticed is possibly quite detrimental to me: There seems to be a requirement that all Americans purchase healthcare insurance (or be covered by healthcare insurance) or be penalized by the government for not doing so.

If I purchase health insurance from an American insurance company, (a) chances are they wouldn't cover any doctor or hospital that I or my wife visit here in the jungle, and more importantly (b) the cost of that insurance for a month would be more than the cost of an appendectomy here. Will living outside of America relieve me of the burden of purchasing American health insurance?

If I purchase PhilHealth, the national insurance program of The Philippines (about $100 per year or so), will the IRS consider that an acceptable insurance policy?

Inquiring minds want to know.

Chetumaire in the comments section directs us to a blog entry at the expat blog Knife Tricks:
4. Expats exempt. As with the House bill, people who reside outside of the United States for at least 330 days in a 12-month period "shall be treated as having minimum essential coverage" for each of those 12 months. H.R. 3590, Section 1501(b) (proposing new Internal Revenue Code section 5000A(f)(4)).
Thanks to Chetumaire for doing the legwork on this!

Daily Report: Christmas Party

We went to a Christmas Party at Spooks tonight in CDO. Many of my friends from last Sunday's pool party were there, as well as many other familiar faces. I'm finally getting to feel that I have as large a circle of friends here in The Philippines as I had in Thailand, which is a nice feeling.

The girls got all dressed up. Epril and all her fashionista friends looked very fetching.

After a brief introduction from Ted Trenholme, a prayer from J'Neth Albar, and a rousing speech from Mike Farrell, we all dove headfirst into the delicious buffet that Spooks had put out for us, including beef stew, pork mushroom stew, chicken cordon bleu, fried chicken, fruit salad... an endless supply of yummyness, and I know I ate until I was stuffed, as I'm pretty sure everyone else did as well.

After that, we played some "adult" couples' versions of kids party games, including Musical Eggplants (based on Musical Chairs), where the wives, plus one single lady, walk around the men (always one less than the ladies) and have to grab a man's eggplant when the music stops. The lady without an eggplant plus her husband are eliminated from the game each step of the way. The girls all laughed and laughed as they scrambled for an eggplant to hold onto.

After that was a game where couples danced. While dancing, the husband held a candle, while the wife tried to blow everybody else's candles out. Epril and I decided that the combination of open flames, hot wax, and horseplay in close proximity to my money makers (my hands... I do type for a living) was enough reason to sit that particular game out. Everyone else enjoyed the game though... and nobody did catch on fire, so my fears were unfounded.

There were about 20 couples there, including several new people I had not met before. I met a nice fellow of dual citizenship from Poland and Canada named Roman, another fellow from Norway (I think) named Boia. As usual, lots of the regulars as well.

After that, I sat around and chatted with the guys (and even shot a little pool... god I'm out of practice; did you know I used to be quite a player 10 years ago?) while Epril and the girls danced and (as usual whenever a dozen young ladies with a dozen digital cameras are all dolled up) engaged in lots and lots of picture taking.

After the party was over, I went off to Kinse Amigos to talk to Attorney Palugna, and then Epril and I caught a taxi home. We've found a nice taxi driver named Chris who will drive us back to Jasaan whenever we want for 500 pisos ($11 for a 25 mile trip). We have his number that we'll be sure to use often.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Daily Report: Pool Party

Epril and I decided to invite some of the folks we met this past Wednesday out to a pool party on Sunday. I put together a bucket of my Cagayan Cocktail, while Epril brought along 10 pizzas. Meanwhile, our friends Don and Winlove (from Australia) brought along 2 fantastic salads, one of ham and one of chicken. Our friends Warren and Jenelyn (also from Australia) brought along imported goodies like pickled beets and lots of beer. Our friends Steve and Helen (from England) brought along spaghetti. Mike Bird contributed 20 hamburgers, and Ron Schreuder brought cake from his bakery. Meanwhile Hans and Ken and his wife Melchi (from New Zealand) paid for the big pavilion we rented.

We spent the day eating and drinking. Lots of kids were there having a great time swimming and running around.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Problem Solving, Masters Level

It's a joke... but it is also a great study in social and economic guerrilla tactics:
Young Chuck moved to Texas and bought a donkey from a farmer for $100. The farmer agreed to deliver the donkey the next day. The next day the farmer drove up and said, 'Sorry Chuck, but I have some bad news, the donkey died.'

Chuck replied, 'Well, then just give me my money back.'

The farmer said, 'Can't do that. I went and spent it already.'

Chuck said, 'OK, then, just bring me the dead donkey.'

The farmer asked, 'What ya gonna do with a dead donkey?'

Chuck said, 'I'm going to raffle him off.'

The farmer said 'You can't raffle off a dead donkey!'

Chuck said, 'Sure I can. Watch me. I just won't tell anybody he's dead.'

A month later, the farmer met up with Chuck and asked, 'What happened with that dead donkey?'

Chuck said, 'I raffled him off. I sold 500 tickets at two dollars apiece and made a profit of $898.00.'

The farmer said, 'Didn't anyone complain?'

Chuck said, 'Just the guy who won. So I gave him his two dollars back.'


Epril and I joined up with some friends last night and went to see Avatar. The story is a bit tired: Hero leaves the powerful corporate bad guy outsiders to fight with the weak freedom-seeking good guy locals. There is only one real star of this movie, and that is the planet Pandora. Never before has pure imagination emerged into such perfect realism in such complete detail on a movie screen. Creatures are necessary to this visual feast only to give Pandora the ability to react and provide perspective. Just staring at the entire bioluminescent forest itself is worth the price of admission.

And, thankfully, Director James Cameron doesn't skimp on the eye candy. It just goes on and on and on pretty much from the get-go for a full 2 hours and 40 minutes.

I didn't find the Na'vi (the blue guys) to be totally convincing. While they are definitely the next generation of CGI creatures... a Gollum 2.0, if you will... they aren't the perfect simulacra that our human eye demands in order for the mind to accept something as "true life." Close... 99%... but still not quite. And yes: The story really is (as one movie reviewer sniffingly put it) "Dances With Smurfs."

Like I said, this is the prettiest movie ever made, and that alone makes it worth seeing. And after you've seen this movie, even if you have never partaken, you will appreciate the potential that lies in what will obviously be a popular combination of big screen TV, the high-def DVD of Avatar, a comfy chair, and a couple of joints.

Why I Don't Want The Healthcare Reform To Pass

I would love to see healthcare reform in America. You may or may not agree with me. Perhaps when your company starts laying people off or shutting its doors in 7 or 8 years because it can't afford to pay $25,000 per year per employee for health insurance, you'll decide it's time then.

Regardless, I don't have to know a single fact about this current healthcare bill to know that nobody should vote for it. Here is why.

Let's liken healthcare reform to designing and building a new passenger jet. If the federal government decided to come up with a design for a faster, lighter, quieter, cheaper passenger jet to compete with Boeing and Airbus, I haven't the slightest doubt they could do it within the given parameters. They would get together a bunch of highly-paid guys who know aircraft design better than anybody else to come up with a great design.

Now, the problem is that before being approved, a bunch of people who know little or nothing about aircraft design, and who want to stop the new jet from being built entirely are allowed to come along and make major design changes to the jet.

What is the likelihood that a jet with lots of parts missing, lots of parts redesigned or replaced, and lots of parts added on by people (including Boeing and Airbus themselves) who don't want to see the jet get off the ground... what is the likelihood that you would volunteer to get on that jet, assuming it even flew? What is the likelihood that the thing would be a total disaster?

Any healthcare reform that gets passed now: America will be stuck with it. Americans would be stuck flying on that busted-ass jet I just mentioned. That's not the best solution; that's the worst solution.

Put this healthcare bill in the trash. It's worthless and we should just forget about it. A huge portion of Americans aren't ready for healthcare reform anyway, because they've been suckered by talk of death panels and socialism and whatever other ridiculous talking points the opposition can dream up to scare and anger and mobilize voters. The rest of America will just have to suffer from their stupidity.

The fact is that Americans do indeed need to suffer first — and they need to obtain their proof through suffering — before they will agree to change their ways. They need to see family members go without needed medical care; they need to go broke paying their insurance premiums before they decide that government-sponsored health insurance is a good idea. They need to have a heart attack before they stop eating at McDonald's every day. They need to pay $8 for a gallon of gasoline before they'll be interested in alternative fuels. They need to see a major American city submerged under a high tide before they'll accept global warming is real. They need to have a bunch of buildings knocked down before they realize that militant Islam is a threat.

Right... that's enough ranting.

Anyway, wait around for a few more years. Republicans will eventually either start being pressured from their constituencies (the folks who are too ignorant or stubborn to make the changes today) to support healthcare reform as the insurance companies go more and more out of control, or equally likely, Republicans will become so inconsequential that what they think won't matter anyway. Regardless, at some point in the future, real healthcare reform, developed solely and responsibly by the experts, will be able to be passed. And, I think we can all agree, it will almost certainly work better than whatever is being considered right now.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Video For My Wife... The Friendster Fan


You see, Friendster is basically long forgotten outside of Asia (where 90% of its users are, and is the most popular Asian social networking site), but at one time it was quite popular in America as well. So here is a little spoof news article on how an "internet archeologist" discovered the "ancient ruins of Friendster".

Daily Report: Varia

For those of you who live here, which do you think the number one song in the Philippines is this week? Bonnie Tyler, Total Eclipse of the Heart, or Richard Marx, Right Here Waiting For You? Anyone who offers up other possibilities doesn't know what they are talking about.

Tyson was the wimpiest dog in Jasaan. Remember the chihuahua? Even that little dog intimidated Tyson, who is now well past 20 kilos. One little growl from any dog and Tyson was a complete nebbish. Well, no more: One of the local mutts got past growling and pounced on Tyson while we were out for a walk. Tyson was a sissy for about 2 seconds and then got pissed off and turned the tables with some big time canine kung fu. The Doberman has landed.

By the way, Tyson has a dick shaped like a rocket. I assume that's abnormal, but I imagine the girl dogs will be intrigued.

I've gotten "Star Trek, The Next Generation, Season 1" on DVD and am working my way through that now. In episode 10, Wesley Crusher is supposed to age 10 years, and is replaced by an actor who this 6-foot-5 Adonis guy. Of course, 10 years... even 20 years after it was made, the actor Wil Wheaton, who played Wesley, looks almost exactly like he did when he was 13 years old.

Susan has a new boyfriend, Jans ("Yahns") from Holland. He is the cousin of my friend Rob Schreuder who lives here in Jasaan. They've been like bread and butter for the past few days. That leaves only Ednil at 17 up for grabs, for any of you single guys looking to marry a GontiƱas sister sometime soon. After that will be a 5-year wait for Crystal to ripen, and a 10-year wait for Dimple.

The pizza restaurant is going downhill slowly. I guess the novelty is wearing off. Oh well. We're going to try tacos next. Maybe we'll just start a rotating menu or something... keep people interested.

Or maybe we'll just start selling burgers: Mike Bird is selling enough burgers every day to sink a ship down at his restaurant.

There is an expatriates Christmas party next Tuesday at Spooks. Hope to see everybody there. I believe that tickets are 200 pisos per person.

I had a Whopper today from Burger King. Epril had a friend who was on her way back from Manila, and stopped at Burker King on her way to the airport and picked up some burgers. I also got a refill of Drambuie as well... but had to pay for that while the burgers were gratis.

There were very few carolers tonight. I think that my family read my post below and decided to do me the favor of chasing off the carolers before they got started. God bless them with lots of Christmas Karma.

Jungle Jil Late Night Music Club

I'm bored, listening to music before I go to sleep... so I'm putting all the songs I listen to on my blog.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Heh. Indeed.

Lando as the Democrats, Darth as the Republicans: Healthcare!

Child Suspended For Drawing Jesus... Or Not

A 7-year-old boy drew this picture on the left, and apparently was suspended from school and ordered to undergo psychiatric counseling.

Well, that's what his father would have you believe, as the story hit the news and brought nationwide attention to the situation, and angering Christians everywhere.

Of course, in the end, it was all about some petty shithead using the claim of religious persecution in order to get paid:
Amid the flurry of media attention, the boy's father held court today at his girlfriend's apartment here, demanding the school district compensate him for his family's pain and suffering.

"It hurts me that they did this to my kid," Chester Johnson, the boy's father, told the Globe. "They can't mess with our religion; they owe us a small lump sum for this."

Julie Hackett, superintendent of Taunton Public Schools, said the student was never suspended and that neither he nor other students at the Maxham Elementary School were asked by their teacher to sketch something that reminded them of Christmas or any religious holiday, as the newspaper reported and the father suggested.

She said it was unclear whether the boy -- who put his name above his stick-figure portrait of Christ on the cross -- even drew it in school.

She said the boy's drawing was seen as a potential cry for help when the student identified himself, rather than Jesus, as the figure on the cross, which sparked the teacher to alert the school's principal and staff psychologist.

Ag Hasa A

A few centuries ago, a man was sitting on a beach sharpening his bolo against a stone, when 3 strangers arrived in a boat. The men said to him something in a foreign language... but any fool could figure out they had asked, "What are you doing?" The man simply replied, "I'm sharpening it."

A few centuries ago, some Spanish missionaries were exploring the island of Mindanao when they came across a man on a beach sharpening his bolo. They walked up to the man and said, "Greetings and God be with you." The man said something in a foreign language... but any fool could figure out he had said, "Welcome to Jasaan."

(In case you didn't know... and you probably didn't since I've never told you before... "Jasaan" is pronounced "HAH-sah-ahn".)

I Wish For A Two Week Coma

My least favorite annual thing in The Philippines has finally arrived: Christmas carolers.

And by Christmas Carolers, I mean gangs of kids that will stand in front of your house shouting as loud as they can, "WEE WEE SHOE AMA REE CREE SMUS!!!" and won't stop until you pay them to go away.

It's like Halloween, but instead of candy, it's cash, and instead of toilet paper, it's extortion by noise.

And I'm not joking: Every 30 seconds, it's a different crowd of 3 or 4 kids shouting.

I've got an idea: I'm going to hang my garden hose off the roof and leave it spraying for the next 2 weeks, so that it is always raining on the street in front of my house. Nobody will stand there and sing. It will be effective as well as fantastically symbolic.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Product Fail, Comedy Win

Butthole covers for your dog.

Actually, the biohazard butthole cover is kind of charming.

Daily Report: Bite The Ear That Hears You

I had a fair day of work today. Mike Bird's restaurant had its grand opening today. It is located out on the highway across from the Petron Station just before you arrive in Jasaan. For lunch, I had two porkburgers (25 pisos (55 cents) for two cheeseburgers... what a deal) brought to the house. Mike needs to spice those up a little bit though. For dinner, Epril and I walked down to Tikay's Lechon Manok Restaurant itself with Tyson and bought a whole rotisserie chicken for about $3.50. This is the same price that all the other places in town are selling it for, but Mike's is a substantially larger chicken... I would say at least 50% larger. Also, very tasty chicken as well!

While at the restaurant, my poor dog Tyson suddenly got his rear right paw caught between the bamboo floor boards and started yelping in terrible pain. I tried to pull his paw loose, but it wouldn't come out. Tyson was thrashing about, making it difficult to help him. I tried to hold him down and pull on his paw but that didn't help. Finally, after about 15 seconds of agony (for both of us... my poor heart), Tyson managed to free himself. In his thrashing around, Tyson's tooth hit my earlobe and cut it, leaving me bleeding.

When I named Tyson back when he was a puppy, I joked, "He's big, he's black, and he chews people's ears off. That's why he's named Tyson... after Mike Tyson." At the time I said that, the only thing that was true was that he was black. Then he got big. Now, he has claimed his first ear. Way cool... and ouch.

A Video For My Father

Okay, I'll file this under the Best-Plus-Worst idea category. Somebody is actually going to make a movie where modern owners of World War 2 planes (fighters and bombers alike, apparently) get together and try to blow each other out of the sky in some underground (get it? underground) aerial Fight Club.

Consider it the sky-based equivalent of a demolition derby with Lamborghinis versus Ferraris, or using your Stradavarius as a cricket bat: It's stupid to watch, stupid to contemplate, and only stupid people would consider doing such a thing... but you sure as shit wouldn't not watch.

So, without further ado, I dedicate this unseriousness to the biggest World War 2 plane buff I know, my father. (And no, I don't know why there are soldiers and tanks fighting in the underground aerial fight club either. Maybe to act as an agonist to Teh Stoopid up in the sky.)

I'm still not convinced this isn't a joke.

(And, p.s., I would imagine that using World War II replica planes in a paintball-like dogfight would be cool, reasonable, and perhaps even legal and possible.)

Another Good Climate Change Video

In keeping with the post below...

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Stop Drinking Bottled Water

I recognize the fact that many of us who read (and write) this blog don't have access to tap water that is suitable for drinking... but if you do, then you apparently shouldn't be drinking bottled water.

Check the facts for yourself.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Go See Tiffany's If You Are In Thailand

All that talk about drag queens and beauty pageants below made me think about the greatest drag show on earth, "The Tiffany Show" in Pattaya with its cast of hundreds, their annual Thai transgendered beauty pageant "Tiffany Universe", and their annual World transgendered beauty pageant "Tiffany International"... with both pageants broadcast live on national TV in Thailand each year.

It really is one of the greatest spectacles to see in Pattaya, whether you manage to bag tickets to one of the big pageants, or just attend one of their daily shows. It really is a can't-miss tourist attraction if you do ever get to Pattaya.

Tiffany Universe...

Tiffany Show...

Daily Report: Another Beauty Pageant Drag Show

I had another beauty contest to judge tonight, so you my readers are awarded with more photos of pretty girls (click on pictures for larger versions).

The contest was held in the Barangay of Danao... yet another Barangay of which I was not aware, north of town on the coastal highway, and then right up into the mountains and jungle. It had been raining and the road was only partly paved and muddy and rocky as all hell. Epril and I took a motorcycle taxi to get there, but had to hop off and walk part of the time.

These beauty pageants are a great way for me to learn about the various neighborhoods and villages that surround Jasaan. I also get to meet local bigwigs such as barangay captains and such. It's also a good opportunity to make a good impression as a member of the small expatriate community in Jasaan.

The show was the usual crop of girls... with some familiar faces missing and some new additions. It was the same show though that I've done 5 times before. I think I'm starting to get some experience at judging these shows.

One thing I've noticed is that these beauty queens seem to be taught everything they know about pageantry by transsexuals. The transgendered boys do a great job at stage makeup, but watching these pretty girls trying to walk like a gay boy thinks a girl should walk makes me cringe.

The fact is, the drag queens don't grasp the difference between modeling and pageantry. These girls pop and jiggle and flounce (and even vogue... gag) like models, when they should be gliding like beauty queens. Some of the girls even do the blank-face model look while they catwalk instead of the big smile.

Another complaint is that these girls walk on stage with drag queen attitude instead of beauty queen confidence. You can even see it in their eyes as they move around the stage, "Okay... step, step, step. Stop. Feet here. Pose. Turn head. Now smile like you own the place." Then their face goes blank as they go back to focusing on moving on to the next pose point.

But there's no contact with the audience... most of these girls seem to lack the confidence to do it. If one of these girls could walk out on stage and smile, wave, laugh, wink, and engage with as many members of the audience (especially the judges) as she can in the short period she has, she would win every one of these contests... but none of them do.

Instead, they focus on just the right pose, just the right feet placement, just the right outfit, matching jewelry to eye color. I don't know about the other judges, but I don't even look at the outfits. I do watch for balance and poise though.

What I look for most is a girl who looks comfortable on stage, who walks like she is relaxed and confident, who looks happy and friendly, and is cute or beautiful and just a little bit sexy. Really, 90% of these girls efforts and studies are misplaced.

Anyway, after the show (won by #4) it was over to a friend of my sister-in-law for a bite to eat at 11:30 at night. (It was fiesta time for this small village way up in the mountains.)

We were going to take a motorcycle back down the hill again, but ran into all of the beauty queens and their gay makeup artists loading into the back of an open-bed truck for the trip down the hill, which seemed safer and certainly promised to be more entertaining. (A truckload of Filipino F.I.T. boys and beauty queens? Yeah... that's a ride I'll hop onto.)

So we bounced down the hill in a queer third-world jungle version of a hayride, with plenty of falsetto shrieking and laughing and catty remarks about sore asses. It certainly was something worth writing about... although I did wind up filthy from the muddy bed of the truck, and Epril got a bit of a raspberry on her arm from where my butt accidentally pinched it on the metal railing.

I really am looking forward to the next pageant.

Oh: Update. I got the video of the Katubigan festival dancing up in the post below.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Daily Report: Party In The Park #2

I didn't do much today except work and take Tyson for a walk.

In the evening, Daddy Aldrin was back in town for a second party: This time he was emceeing the local Youth Council's induction of new officers. Governor Oscar Moreno was there as well. Aldrin had brought 2 bands with him from CDO to give a concert after the formalities.

Unfortunately, the sound system was terrible, and the second band gave up only 2 songs into their set. But it was probably just as well: It was 2:00 in the morning.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Daily Report: Party In The Park #1

I slept in late today, due to being out until almost 1 a.m. the night before. However, Epril joined the village down at the waterfront, as they got the Mother Mary icon out for another walk (and got somebody dressed up like her to sit on a pole, apparently). This time, it was actually a cruise around the harbor to bless all the boats and the waters for a good year of fishing.

I worked a bit during the day, but overall it was a pretty bad day of work.

Tonight, it was down to Kimaya where Daddy Aldrin and several other MOR deejays were putting on a show for the last night of Fiesta. I hung out with them and drank beer and provided some complimentary pizzas.
I finally called it a night at well after midnight.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Daily Report: CDO Eagles Club Christmas Party

Tonight was the Cagayan De Oro Philippine Eagles Club Christmas party, which also included the "changing of the guard", with the induction of the the chapter president for 2010, Kuya Chito Olifernes.

There was a good crowd for the occasion.

Dinner was served first.

Then Kuya Ray Jampit on the left steps down as Chapter President, and Kuya Chito Olifernes steps up.

Then the Eagles wives (the Ate) did a bit of a dance for entertainment. (Epril was at the dinner, but didn't dance with the wives because all of the practices they had for this were at 9 p.m. and she couldn't make it.)
Then there was induction of new members.
Kuya President Chito and his wife.
After the formalities, lots of drinking took place. I chatted for a while with Kuya Earl Lim, who will probably be the National President soon. Mike Turner was there too, and we hung out and drank and talked. Finally, at midnight, Epril and I caught a taxi back to Jasaan. (That's $10 for anyone who wants to come out some time.)