Sunday, February 28, 2010

Daily Report: Ted's Birthday Party

It was out tonight to Ted Trenholme's birthday party at Chali Beach Resort. There were about 150 people there. Here are some photos:

The ladies are, as always, beautiful. There was a Hawaiian theme to the party, so brightly patterened sundresses were the preferred choice of the ladies.

Warren and I wore more subdued colors. Heheh.

Birthday boy Ted with his wife Donna and Epril.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Daily Report: Home Generator Shopping

Apparently, the lake that supplies the water that creates the flow that spins the generators that makes the electricity is running dangerously low. Therefore, it is the plan that from now and for the next four months (4... uno/dos/tres/quatro: shit!) power will be cut all over Mindanao every other day for 4 hours, from 1:30 to 5:30. The first time, it happened on Thursday and nobody told me the news, so I failed to grasp what was happening. On Friday night I was informed of what would be happening, and this afternoon at precisely 1:30, the power went out again. (At least this time I was ready.)

As much as I would like to miss half a day of work every other day, I really can't afford to do so. Therefore, it was off (with Dave joining me, since he knew where to look) to shop for a home generator.

When we got to the little store near Cogon Market in Cagayan De Oro, they had not surprisingly already sold out of generators. However, a few phone calls to their buddy stores and they came up with two generators for Dave and myself, a little one for Dave, and a big one for me. There really was a huge run on generators: While we were debating over a first one described to us over the phone, by the time we made up our minds 2 minutes later, the guy on the other end of the line informed us, "Too late, it's been sold."

Anyway, I got a nice 2250 watt 4-stroke gasoline generator for 13,500 pisos ($300). It will be enough to run my computer, monitor, router, and modem OR it will run the big screen television, surround system, and satellite receiver, and maybe, barely, both at the same time... although that remains to be seen.

(UPDATE: I added the wattage of all the various components (AV and computer) together, tacked on another 25% on top of that, and it came out to 1,300 watts, so no problem keeping everything — including lots of lights, and even a fan or two — up and running.)

Dave wasn't happy with his purchase of a 950 watt 2-stroke generator for 6,000 pisos ($130). For starters, it was only rated at a constant 600 watts, which really limited its uses, and the 2-stroke engine was just too loud. So, he passed on the little generator, and used the 6,000 pisos as a down payment for a generator like the one I had bought, which would hopefully be ready for picking up some time next week.

The only major complaint I have is that at 1.5 liters fuel consumption per hour, every 4-hour outage is going to cost me 270 pisos ($6), not including the oil which I've been told needs to be changed every 24 hours of operation.We used Driver Chris for the day (paying him 1,500 pisos to drive us everywhere, wait for us everywhere).

After buying the generators, it was off to Kingston Lodge for a couple of beers with Warren and the rest of the crew up there. Then it was off to Columbia Computers where I bought a UPS system (1,700 pisos, $38) for the computer so I wouldn't have to reboot when switching from wall outlet to generator, and that would also act as a voltage regulator protecting the computer, as well as 2 actual voltage regulators: One for the modem and router in the TV room and one for the entertainment center downstairs.

Now tomorrow, I've got to splice together an outlet for the generator's weird plug setup, and buy 3 extension cords to reach each of the 3 places that I will want to provide electricity.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Daily Report:Crabs to Jazz, Beginnings and Ends

Had a fair day of work today. I think that the end of my employment at my company is finally in sight. In both pushing and pulling fashion, things are working towards a denouement of my career as a medical transcriptionist.

In push, my company is going bankrupt (much to my surprise... it was only after cutting salaries by two thirds that they became profitable for the first time in 7 or 8 years; hell of a time to go all Chapter 11 on my ass) and is being purchased by their leading industry competitor. Although the corporate promise is that "most everyone" will keep their jobs in the takeover, I now cannot miss the writing on the wall.

In pull, I have new opportunities opening up here in The Philippines which I had always planned to start working on in the near future, but now are actually taking shape in very exciting and promising fashion. Assuming things work out, you'll start seeing my nisus take shape in the next month or two.

A lady came by the house today selling a bag full of live crabs, which we purchased for 200 pisos ($4). Mamma Nila put the crabs in a cooking pot, but the crabs weren't having any part of the cooking process, and in short order we had a living room full of crabs... none of whom had rubber bands on their claws.

After getting the crabs back in the pot, I had a very nice lunch of crab meat.

In the evening, it was out to Spooks where we met up with Dave and Jessa for Spooks' all-you-can-eat non-Filipino-food buffet (200 pisos... still a great deal!) and 45 pisos ($1) San Miguel beers.

The sujet du jour was the arrival of electrical shortages in Northern Mindanao, with every-other-day outages expected all around the region, 4 or 5 hours at a time. Supremely inconvenient to those of us who use electricity to earn a living. (Tomorrow, it will be out to the hardware store to invest in a home generator.)

After Spooks, we all went over to Limketkai shopping area for more drinking. It had been our plan to meet up with Warren (just back from Australia) and his wife Jen for drinks at Sky Park — the outdoor lounge area on a wide bridge over the traffic below — but it had been rented out for the evening to a private party. Instead, we wound up at the nearby strip of boutique restaurants with an outdoor seating area that spanned in front of all of them, which had a nice jazz band playing. We actually met up with our photographer friend, Rene, and his friend from England, and their wives... making 10 of us out for the evening enjoying the music. A great time all in all.

After that, our driver Chris drove Epril and I, Dave and Jessa back to Jasaan.

The Dan Band Does Pink

My old high school friend Dan is up to his old-but-fantastic tricks.

Oh... the iconic original version is here, in case you have never seen it.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Daily Report: More Guests

I had a workday very similar to the workday I had yesterday, but a better and more satisfactory version: I got to work, sat down, worked hard for 4 hours, and then was done. (I really can't do my job for more than 5 hours per day... it requires too much mental energy to stay focused for 6, 7, or 8 hours.)

After work, I had a nice early dinner of sweet and sour pork, made by Susan.

Epril and I went over to visit the new expatriate in town, Dave from Arizona, and his fianceƩ Jessa, at their seafront house down on the harbor. They moved to Jasaan 2 months ago.

However, Dave had gone to the market where he likes to spend his afternoons helping out at his in-laws' store, so we went there to see him and Jessa, and invited them over to the house in the evening for Cagayan Cocktail and pizza. (I also stopped by the butcher's and asked him if he would start selling steak. He said he would try.)

After that it was back to the house where I watched yet another episode of Star Trek that I had not seen before.

Then at 7:00, Dave and Jessa arrived, and we had a very pleasant couple of hours sitting in the rooftop garden chatting, drinking, and eating. After that, it was straight to bed and my book. I'm reading "Sarum" by Edward Rutherfurd... as good a book as you can hope to read, especially if you enjoy history.

Bonus varia: Tyson has fun with a fly.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Daily Report: Local Visitors, Lone Cows, Prom Pics

I had a slightly below-average day of work today... but just barely. On the upside though, I got the work that I did do done all at once, quickly, and enjoyed doing it.

After that, I took Tyson out to the town plaza for a run. I usually just go there, drop the leash, and let him run around the large field (but only when the place is empty of innocent and easily-scared bystanders). Then suddenly, out of all the moments, and all the strange things to have happen... right as Tyson was running loose... a lone white cow came galloping through the parade ground, having broken its tether.

All I could see in my mind's eye was this freaked out cow running terrified and amok through the central market with Tyson ("It's that Kano's dog! It's that Kano's fault!") happily nipping at its heels and barking words of encouragement while the entire town of Jasaan ran for cover. I immediately began to frantically call for Tyson to come back over to where I was standing before he recognized this incredible opportunity for some bovine fun/chaos.

Amazingly though, Tyson stopped, watched the cow gallop by, and then went back to sniffing the grass. Whew.

In the evening, an American fellow from Connecticut currently staying in Jasaan for a couple of months, came over for pizza and a visit. Drew is his name, and he just married former beauty queen Jackie. (Or is that with a "q" instead of a "k"? I don't know.) He owns a boat maintenance business in Greenwich. So we are adding yet another name to the dozens of foreigners who have found wedded bliss here in Northern Mindanao's loveliest little village. He's bought some land out in the hills behind town and plans on building a retirement home there.

Kid sister Crystal had her prom last weekend, and I failed to put photos up. Crystal is only 13 years old, but is a Junior in High School... or more accurately is one year away from graduating. I'm not sure of the details of movement up the educational ladder in The Philippines, or how it comes to pass that kids graduate from high school at the age of 14. I'll have to do some research on that. But when I think about it, the age of consent in The Philippines is only 12... so it seems this is a society geared towards making kids into adults as quickly as possible.

Actually, proms in The Philippines are quite a bit different from their American counterparts. The two major differences I noted: First, that none of the students have "dates" for the event, and instead everybody is just paired off boy-girl-boy-girl for a promenade and then go to sit in gender-segregated groups; second, the dresses that the girls wear are (with exceptions, Crystal included) straight out of the 1980s with yards of taffeta and crinoline, and the boys wear nothing more formal than baggy black slacks and an oversized (and wrinkled) dark dress shirt sans neckwear.

So anyway, here are a couple of photos of Crystal.

First, with sisters Epril on the left and Ednel on the right.

Then with friends.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Hypocrisy Watch

Republican leadership two weeks ago:
"If the President intends to present any kind of legislative proposal at this discussion, will he make it available to members of Congress and the American people at least 72 hours beforehand? Our ability to move forward in a bipartisan way through this discussion rests on openness and transparency."
Republican leadership two days ago:
Appearing on Fox News Sunday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) criticized the White House's plan to post a health care reform proposal online, just days before the upcoming health care summit. "You know, apparently we're going to be there most of the day and have an opportunity to have a lot of discussion," said McConnell. "But if they're going lay out the plan they want to pass four days in advance, then why are -- what are we discussing on Thursday?"

Daily Report: Strawberries!

I've been spending my mornings in bed, browsing the internet on the laptop instead of going up to my office and doing it there. I don't know why that is news... even the leading story. I just thought I'd mention it.

Strawberries have come to Cagayan De Oro. And not the little grape-sized crabapple flavored things, but (halfway close to) real strawberries.

It's amazing that in this bountiful land with mango trees in every yard, and pineapple bushes fronting every fence; with fields of corn and rice, beans and eggplant, it is easier for me to get dill pickles from Cleveland than it is to get strawberries. Everybody here enjoys strawberry-flavored stuff too, so it isn't like there is no market for fresh strawberries. It isn't a matter of location or climate either: Even fruit and vegetables that don't grow here are always available, such as apples, pears, broccoli, and lettuce. Hell, there was even a guy walking around the jungle pool resort here in Jasaan last weekend with a styrofoam cooler full of rather luscious-looking bunches of white grapes, a million miles away from the nearest vinyard.

Epril bought as many cartons of strawberries as she could carry, and the freezer is now filled with them. Why strawberries? For my world-famous strawberry margaritas, of course.

Directions: First, put a large shot glass of lime juice in a blender, along with a large shot glass of sugar. Then add in two shot glasses of triple sec and two shot glasses of tequila. Then drop in 8 (American sized) to 16 (Philippine sized) frozen strawberries and about a large coffee mug of crushed ice. Blend on high for 2 or 3 minutes. (The strawberries here are still a little bitter compared to what one would find in America, so I also put in one shot of the sweetened lime syrup.)

After two pitchers of a rather good rendition of strawberry margarita, I was ready for bed.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Define Ironey

Even if I could find a reason to call myself a Republican these days, I wouldn't, because it would mean equating myself with such an incredibly large and amusing mob of anti-educated numb-nuts.

Seriously: Go check out's Political Humor site and see 59 more funny signs (intentionally or otherwise), and figure out which side of the political aisle seems to be blessed with the wit... and the spellchecker.

Actually, here is a good liberal protest contretemps:

Saturday, February 20, 2010

40 Minutes, 40 Pictures, Harbor Walk, Part 1

Eventually I'll run out of places to walk. Goodness... I'm becoming a bit like Stan, aren't I? But putting up all of these pictures does remind me that I live in an issue of National Geographic Magazine.

40 Minutes, 40 Pictures, Harbor Walk, Part 2