Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Daily Report: Smooth, Straight, Stale Sailing

Back to life. Epril's back from her trip to Leyte. I have a definite phobia of ferries here in The Philippines. I'll save myself the effort of linking to 200 news articles about overcrowded ferries sinking in rough seas, if you don't mind... but you know what I'm talking about. So when Epril sent me a text message (15 minutes after leaving port on the overnight ferry going back to Mindanao) saying, "Big st0rm!scary.." I wasn't at all happy, and lost a bit of sleep over that.

But my darling wife made it back to Mindanao without swimming part of the way... so all is well.

Today, Landlord Jumz was here with workers starting repairs on the house. I think their primary goal is to replace the entire water system in the house. Well, I doubt they will go that far, but hopefully they will seriously upgrade it and fix what needs to be fixed.

I'm getting Parasat Cable installed at the house. I let the Dream Satellite run out after about 14 months of usage. Dream Satellite only had 40 channels (of which I would watch 5 channels and the rest of my family an additional 5) for 650 pisos per month on one television, while Parasat has 100 channels (of which I will watch 20 channels and the rest of my family an additional 5) for 1,350 pisos per month on two televisions. I'm keeping the Cignal though... I love my HDTV.

Two days before payday. French toast all around. I've got to get caught up on my bills now: I'm still working to catch up after my 2-week hiatus with my computer down. Work took a dip this past week with Epril not being here. I've got Ednel's school to pay for, I borrowed some money, the electricity bill is due, the bulb on the television needs to be replaced, and Landlord Jumz got a letter from the phone company claiming that I owe 12,000 pisos for a phone that I've never used.

Epril's cousin stopped by the house. He asked for a donation to buy some things before going off to seminary. (Epril vets all the people who stop by with such requests, so only the "real" ones get through.) I gave him 2,000 pisos for that. Kid sister Kristel (I had been spelling it Crystal) asked for 500 pisos to buy her drum majorette uniform. I "loaned" 2000 pisos out to the bikini open organizers that I'm probably never going to see again also.

To be honest though, I'm much happier spending money on things like a cousin's trip to seminary, or a drum majorette uniform, or a beauty pageant, or something else that helps someone out, than I am on things like fancy dinners or new clothes.

(Don't let my neighbors find out I said that.)

Anyway, it was a quiet evening in front of the television. Than read a bit of my book. Then off to sleep.

I Guess It Was Unreasonable To Expect A Ferrari

It's fugly, but no doubt it's as close to a proper flying car as we've yet seen: It meets all road safety requirements, and can still fly.
The two-seater Transition can use its front-wheel drive on roads at ordinary highway speeds, with wings folded, at a respectable 30 miles per gallon. Once it has arrived at a suitable take-off spot — an airport, or adequately sized piece of flat private land — it can fold down the wings, engage its rear-facing propellor, and take off. The folding wings are electrically powered.

Its cruising speed in the air is 115mph, it has a range of 460 miles, and it can carry 450lb. It requires a 1,700-foot (one-third of a mile) runway to take off and can fit in a standard garage.
It's just under $200,000 and they are taking orders.

I suppose if you think about it as a plane that you can drive home when the weather is too bad... or when you are too stoned or drunk to actually fly the thing... it's not a bad little machine.

Monday, June 28, 2010

I Agree With The Dog

Do you remember the movie, "Dumb and Dumber"? The two dumbest guys on earth go on a road trip in a dog-shaped van. On the road trip, they pick up a guy whose car had broken down. As they are riding along tormenting their passenger by just being themselves, Lloyd says to the guy, "Hey, wanna hear the most annoying sound in the world?"

Then, 16 years before the 2010 World Cup, he does a spot-on immitation of a vuvuzela.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Daily Report: Wins and Losses

I've been oversleeping while Epril is on vacation. She's usually my alarm clock, waking up before me, tweeking my nose and giggling and tickling me, and then once I get up, she goes back to sleep.

I got a bit of work done before the pay period ended at noontime. Maggie and Jumz, our landlords, stopped by today. They are going to be fixing up the house, and I showed them through the house and everything that needs repairs: Mostly the water system, and window latches and doorknobs. I'm glad that those things are finally going to get fixed.

Then I had a bit of lunch, and looked at some bar-be-que sites online. I've decided to try to build a smoker (actually, to hire someone to weld one together) and make bar-be-que. It should be fun, and I really do miss Bob's ribs from Pattaya, which I am going to try to duplicate. (Bob has been giving me some tips via e-mail in addition to what I've been able to learn online.)

In the afternoon, I did an additional hour of work — rare for a Sunday afternoon. Then I took Tyson for a walk... which I've been neglecting to do lately.

In the evening, I video chatted with Epril in Leyte. All the sisters-in-law joined in: They got to see their grandmother (on their father's side) for the first time in almost 15 years, and vice versa. (Epril told me apparently while we were chatting there was some drunk Australian guy wandering around confused outside the internet café she was chatting in... quite a way out into the jungle, so a bit odd. She didn't talk to him.)

After that, I watched a bunch of History Channel porn: A two hour special documentary on The Black Death, and then a one hour documentary on the archaeological record of Stonehenge. That's viewing heaven.

Then, at 10:00, I went over to Steve's house and watched England get crushed by Germany in the World Cup. Drank too much beer too. Hic.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Daily Report: Bachelorized

Epril and her parents have gone on vacation to the island Leyte. (In my simplified mind-map of The Philippines, Leyte is the north-south oblong island immediately north of the northeast Maine-like prominence of Mindinao, just east of the circular central island of Bohol and the north-south Cuba-shaped island of Cebu.) They left by ferry on Wednesday night and will be back next Tuesday.

Leyte is where Epril's family comes from. They moved to Jasaan when she was very young. So although everybody here in Jasaan seems to be distantly related to Epril, everyone in Leyte is too. Most importantly though, her grandparents are there, and she has not seen them in a very long time.

Anyway, it is just me and the sisters here at the house for now. I've been working and lying around not doing much of anything other than that.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Pondering The Rights Of Free Speech Limitations

I understand that most European countries — Canada as well — have laws limiting speech against religion, race, or nationality... inflammatory or derogatory speech that either accidentally or purposeflly elicits anything from hurt feelings to violence.

Not in America.

I don't know the details of exactly what these Christian missionaries said or did (when the cameras weren't rolling... see below) at a Muslim festival in Dearborn, Michigan, this past weekend that caused their arrest. But if they were armed only with words and Christian literature, then their arrests were a huge violation of their right to free speech.

Oh... and here is video that seems to show them doing absolutely nothing (and saying absolutely nothing) other than handing out copies of the gospel. They were told by police that they can't be within 5 blocks of the event with their Christian tracts.

But: I'm thinking now of the "God Hates Fags" people that picket funerals and spew Biblical hate at anybody within earshot: Say what you want about them, they are the undisputed masters at ensuring their right to free speech. Even they (all sue-happy, law-degree-holding, free-speech fanatics) often/always have to be some distance away from the target of their "protests" when they show up. If those particular people are forced to stay back 5 blocks, it must be a legally-enforceable free speech restriction that they cannot dispute. I never minded that restriction before; I thought it wasn't a bad idea.

But now I have to do a little thought exercise, because this situation in Dearborn is what happens when the limitations we impose upon free speech are used equitably and without prejudice to the content of a group's speech: If I can support keeping one group of people 5 blocks away from another group of people because the first group's speech is so hateful that it makes everyone in the second group angry, why can't I support keeping another group of not-so-hateful people 5 blocks away from a group of not-so-offended people because their speech may make someone angry?

I can't. Not anymore.

It's called learning. It's a lifelong process.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Daily Report: Undescended

Poor day of work today. I occasionally get sidetracked with something on the internet that sucks all work interest clean out of my body. It's a handicap I've learned to live with.

I was in front of my desk at 8 a.m., but didn't work until 11. Then my lunch break never finished. I stayed at my desk until 9 at night, thinking that some grand flash of motivation would strike me cold and set my sights back on track, but I was just kidding myself.

After that, it was down to the bedroom where I played on the laptop the most addicting, enjoyable, cute, awesome game I've seen in a while: Plants Vs Zombies.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Jilicious Steaming Bowl of Archives

Over on the right column of this fabulous ode to everything Jilific, I've added the Jiltastic Archives from my old Thailand blog, Jil In Pattaya to the current archives. Now, if you go to the pre-2008 links, you'll get to read about my Jilarious adventures in Thailand.

Yup: Almost five years of bloggy Jilliness now. Can you believe it's been that long Mom?

I Wonder How Long Blu-Ray and 1080 Will Last

I was pondering this today: There are already computer monitors out there that put out more than 2000 horizontal lines of resolution, and there are already home projectors on the market that do the same. In your home in the distant future (or as close as your local cinema today), there are movies playing at 4000 lines of resolution.

So, knowing that 2000 lines can be done today, how long before we start seeing a push for that resolution?

I say this because I was watching the U.S. Open at 720 lines on my 60-inch television last night. With my 20/20 vision, I can see a huge difference between a 720-line broadcast and a 1080-line broadcast. When the 100-inch-plus televisions start becoming popular in the next 5-8 years (and don't tell me they won't; we all know better) a crystal clear 1080-line picture that is spread over 4 times as much screen real estate is going to start looking even fuzzier than the 720-line picture on a 60-inch screen. (And don't tell me we won't be sitting as close; we all know better.)

Since the only ways that the television companies make money is to sell televisions, they have to keep coming up with new reasons to buy televisions: New features, new technologies, and (most importantly) bigger numbers... bigger screens, bigger resolutions.

I give 1080-line pictures until about the year 2025 before they go to the 2K format. For Blu-Ray, I give the format a much longer shelf life, since it already has enough space on it to hold a 2K movie. You can expect the Blu-Ray storage medium to last for another 15 years beyond that, I think.

Well, I'm just pondering on my lunch break. Back to work I go.

World Cup Thoughts

AFRICA: The host continent is barely there. It looks like only one or maybe two out of the six original African teams will advance past the initial rounds.

EUROPE: Most surprisingly, out of the always-big European teams, half of them (Spain, France, Germany, and England) are all either out or nearly out, leaving only Italy, Portugal and the Netherlands as sure to advance. Other lesser-known teams like Switzerland, Slovenia, and Slovakia are also looking to advance. That gives 6 European teams (none of them particularly strong) out of 12 to advance to the final 16... and all 4 of the biggest upsets so far are the 4 originally-favored teams mentioned above.

ASIA: North Korea, New Zealand, and Australia out; Japan and South Korea advance. That's about what was expected.

AMERICAS: Of the final 16 teams, it looks like 7 of them will be from the West side of the Atlantic. Most importantly, there were only 8 South/North America teams out of 32 in the original field... only Honduras will not advance.

THE ODDS: Brazil 20% chance of winning. Argentina 17% chance of winning. Netherlands 15% chance of winning. Uruguay 10% chance of winning. (source)

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Daily Report: Rooftop Party

Not too much going on today. Epril and I had Dave from Kimaya and his fianceé Jessa, along with Steve from around the corner and his wife Helen, and his out-of-town friend Kiven and his girlfriend Cherry over for dinner on the rooftop. It was a drizzly, glum night up there in the jungle perch, but we made the most of it with bar-be-que chicken (my grandmother's recipe), my newly-discovered Jili Chili, corn on the cob. Ednel (just back from chef's school with a new recipe) made some chicken breast in white wine sauce, and Dave brought along a nice roasted cucumber dish.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Real History Is Coming Soon

Just to summarize, the director of the fusion project at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory says that in the next few months, the attempt will be made to create a brief-but-controlled fusion reaction — a temporary miniature sun — on earth, and to use that successful attempt as the foundation to create a sustained fusion reaction on earth before 2020.

No joke:
Finally achieving fusion energy may be closer than everyone thinks. For decades the dream has been to employ the reaction that powers stars to generate high-volume electricity without the drawbacks of fission reactors — no high-level waste, no weapons application, no risk of meltdown, no use of uranium, and (as with fission) no greenhouse gases.

Ed Moses is director of the National Ignition Facility (NIF) at Lawrence Livermore Labs. Focusing massive amounts of laser light for a billionth of a second, the NIF is expected to demonstrate ignition of a fusion reaction (more energy out than in) for the first time in the coming year, followed by the prospect of a prototype machine for generating continuous clean energy by the end of this decade. That could change everything. The NIF itself is a spectacular work of "technological sublime."

Imminent fusion power

All the light we see from the sky, Moses pointed out, comes from fusion power burning hydrogen, the commonest element in the universe — 3/4 of all mass. A byproduct of the cosmic fusion is the star-stuff that we and the Earth are made of.

On Earth, 4 billion years of life accumulated geological hydrocarbons, which civilization is now burning at a rate of 10 million years' worth per year. In 1900, 98% of the world's energy came from burning carbon. By 1970, that was down to 90%, but it has not decreased since. It has to decrease some time, because there is only so much coal, oil, and gas. During this century every single existing power plant (except some hydro) will age and have to be replaced, and world energy demand is expected to triple by 2100.

To head off climate change, fossil fuel combustion has to end by about 2050. The crucial period for conversion to something better is between 2030 and 2050. The ideal new power source would be: affordable; clean; non-geopolitical; using inexhaustible fuel and existing infrastructure; capable of rapid development and evolution. Moses' candidate is the "laser inertial fusion engine" — acronym LIFE —being developed at Lawrence Livermore.

The question, Moses said, is "Can we build a miniature Sun on Earth?" The recipe involves a peppercorn-size target of hydrogen isotopes deuterium and tritium heated to 200 million degrees Fahrenheit for a couple billionths of a second. To get that micro-blast of heat, the National Ignition Facility (NIF) uses lasers — coherent light — at a massive scale. Laser engineer Moses notes that photons are perfect for the job: "no mass, no charge, just energy."

Moses ran a dramatic video showing how a shot at the NIF works. 20-foot-long slugs of amplified coherent light (10 nanoseconds) travel 1,500 yards and converge simultaneously through 192 beams on the tiny target, compressing and heating it to fusion ignition, with a yield of energy 10 to 100 times of what goes into it. Successful early test shots suggest that the NIF will achieve the first ignition within the next few months, and that shot will be heard round the world.

To get a working prototype of a fusion power plant may take 10 years. It will require an engine that runs at about 600 rpm — like an idling car. Targets need to be fired at a rate of 10 per second into the laser flashes. The energy is collected by molten salt at 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit and then heats the usual steam-turbine tea kettle to generate electricity. The engine could operate at the scale of a standard 1-gigawatt coal or nuclear plant, or it could be scaled down to 250 megawatts or up to 3 gigawatts. The supply of several million targets a year can be manufactured for under 50 cents apiece with the volume and precision that Lego blocks currently are. Moses said that 1 liter of heavy water will yield the energy of 2 million gallons of gas.

Fusion power, like nuclear fission power, would cost less per kilowatt hour than wind (and far less than solar), yet would be less capital intensive than fission. For the constant baseload power no carbon is involved, no waste stream, no possibility of meltdown or weaponization, and there is no such thing as peak hydrogen.

Daily Report: De Profundis

A great day today. I was down in front of the TV upon waking to watch Game 7 of the NBA finals. I haven't watched a basketball game for real since moving to Asia, and haven't been an NBA fan since the Houston Rockets' 1994-1995 two-season dominance... but I rooted for The Celtics because I'm an East Coaster... more "Beacon Hill" than "Burbank".

After that, it was up to the Jungle Perch where I busted out a fabulous 3 hours of work (and doing what used to take 5 hours before my professional rejuvenation as of late). I'm finally — I think; after 2 years — getting my groove back at work. I'm past the mental anger and hangup of earning half what I used to for the same amount of work, and I'm now finding a new cadence and way of focusing myself for the duration of my workday that is succeeding. Of course, I think that is the fourth or fifth time I've claimed something like that in the last 2 years, so that claim may seem a bit shopworn, but the fact is in the days before my computer crashed — and especially the 3 weeks since its return — I've had a marked and sustained increase in my work performance.

Anyway, being payday, it was off early from work and in to town. How nice to be back to a regular paycheck again after my computer's unexpected demise. So a visit to the ATM, and then Epril and I treated Warren and Jen out to food at Siam (the Thai place) and then went and shopped at Robinson's. I spent 4,000 pisos and didn't come away with much: There was a bottle of vermouth and a jar of olives for my martinis, razor blades and shaving cream, 2 kilos of chicken and a half a kilo of pork, a small block of cheddar cheese, and a bunch of cleaning supplies. Then, of course, there were the usual "nickel and dime" items that filled out the list... but still not much.

After that, it was back to Warren's house where I looked at the plans for the new house he and Jen are going to be building out on the golf course, and advised him on a bit of web publishing for his job.

Then it was home with Driver Chris, with a stop at Jollibee for ice cream along the way.

Like I said: A simple, well-played day.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Jil The Schatchen Makes An Introduction

Okay. Here is my first Jungle Juliet. Her name is Mary Jeanne, she's 19, 5 feet 7 inches tall, and is studying computer science at university. She'd like to meet a nice fellow. So, if you are interested, then write to me at jilwrinkle at yahoo dot com and I'll forward your e-mail along to Jeanne and maybe she'll write back.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Video Game Industry Is Dying, He Thinks

I just got done reading this article. It claims that (and I'm inclined to believe that) the billion-dollar video gaming industry is dying a slow death because it fails to come up with new and innovative games and interfaces to keep people addicted.

That's true... but only just.

What is going to happen first is that the video game consoles (PlayStation, Nintendo, X-Box) will probably start dying off as people start connecting their computers to their big-screen televisions. Computer video cards and processing speed will continue keep pace with video game demand, and consoles aren't really necessary except for the fact that most people don't have their computer connected in any way to their living room TV. That will change.

What is going to happen second is that the computer games that are successful, instead of being reintroduced every 3 or 4 years, will start moving heavily into the expansion pack market. Once you've completed all of the adventures in New York, you can buy a passcode to start on Chicago or Miami. And, the thing is that unlike older expansion packs, which are just more of the same, the new expansion packs will probably also upgrade the game back in New York City too. That's already happening.

What is going to happen third is that the game engine (the durable skeleton around which a game's looks and method of play is created, and where most development money is spent) will be much longer-lasting and allow a much more dynamic range of looks, so that a gaming company can put out 10 or 15 games per year (instead of one or less), all of which look quite different... all of which look great... all of which are low cost (after the creation of the game engine)... and all of which bring in cash from users on a regular basis.

Also (something that hasn't been done yet), fourth, the game engine itself will be able to be upgraded from inside preexisting games. This is the holy grail of gaming. Impossible now in all except the most simple games, but once it can be achieved, people will never have to buy a new version of the same game again: The old one just keeps upgrading and upgrading (for a nominal fee, of course).

Say, for example, that you have a flight simulator. An upgrade to the game (not the game engine) would include adding more types of planes, more airports and cities... "same-same but different". An upgrade to the game engine itself would include adding in better quality graphics, or perhaps a way to include wind sheer or a hurricane or turbulence that wasn't there before, or perhaps a dogfight scenario, or perhaps an entire subroutine where you can manage an airport. Being able to add things like that to an existing game is very difficult.

Finally, what you will be seeing is games that operate on a combination of the already-existing World of Warcraft (WoW) and Zynga business models: Thin client games in which your computer handles the creation of game play and player input— the picture, the action — with a smaller program, while the game's process and progress (as well as the gigabytes of game data) is held remotely on the game company's servers, and sent to your computer as needed. What is important is that these games be dynamic, expandable, and once they fail to draw further players, can be retooled and retargeted for a new audience without spending a billion dollars.

Zynga is a good example of the infancy of this type of gaming, with FarmVille (which is a huge financial success) and their also-ran versions PetVille, FishVille, Café World, Mafia Wars, and on and on and on. These are simple games that can have upgrades added to them instantly, that all operate on the same rudimentary game engine and can be expanded upon and redesigned for an endless array of gaming purposes. While Zynga may offer up simple fare for free, this model of programming — matched with WoW's thin-client computer processing — will be the model for all future games.

Yes, of course all of these processes are already in place and being used: My PS3 upgrades its operating system, and the games will get patches and upgrades downloaded to them as well. But the unnecessary bits (the consoles) and processes (hundred-million-dollar budgets) haven't been removed yet. Also, instead of monthly upgrades, there will be daily upgrades, with player cash spent on a far more regular basis to keep things moving forward. Thousands of cookie-cutter games will be shot out of the barrels of the video game manufacturers at low cost, and then money will be snared in memberships, upgrades, expansion packs, bonus items, et cetera.

Will it mean the death of console games? Yes. Will it mean the death of $300-million-dollar video game development budgets? Yes. Will it mean bigger and better video games? Probably not. Will it still be fun to play? You betcha.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Daily Report: Carnivore House Party

Nothing too special today. However, in the afternoon I did go with Epril and Susan to a party in Barangay San Antonio.

Epril wants me to find a kano husband
for her friend on the right. Anybody?
I had a good time there. Food was served and it was yummy as always. There was hamonada, caldareta, afritada, humba, adobo, and pancit.

Filipino food is good, in my personal opinion... the recipes are great. However, there are some major drawbacks to Filipino cooking: It isn't the recipes themselves that are to blame, but instead is the ingredient selection and meal planning where things go wrong.

Look at the table set up:
Here are a bunch of fantastic dishes set out, ready to be eaten. However, first what you can't see: Most of the cuts of meat being served are either 75% or higher bone content, or 75% or higher fat content. That's on purpose. Many of the recipes are designed to use poor meat: The hamonada uses joints and spines braised in a sauce; the humba uses skin and fat. If these dishes were just prepared with some higher quality cuts, they would be fantastic dishes.

Here is what you probably did notice: No vegetables. The average Filipinos simply do not eat vegetables or fruits at any level that would be considered a "balanced" diet. And they almost never take in milk or cheese. Filipinos eat almost exclusively starches and meat. None of those dishes on the table contains anything green in it. Only the afritada has a few carrot slices in it, and the caldareta had a few dried peas.

I'm going to talk with Ednel and see if we can put together some "balanced" and "gourmet" Filipino dishes... to see if we can make something healthier.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Daily Report: It's A Toque

Today I joined Susan and Epril at the Grand Caprice Hotel to watch Ednel go through the ceremony in which she "graduated" to being a "chef in training", symbolized by getting her first chef's hat — called a toque (pronounced "tuke").

I forgot, as always, that Filipinos just love to occasion every one of life's steps, no matter how small. So, first there was an hour-long church service. Then, there was a grand procession of the students and staff. Then the various school administrators gave speeches. Then there was the preferment itself. Then a candle lighting ceremony. Then various students gave speeches. (I swear, one of the students said this: "The secret ingredient? It's love.") Then, to finish it off, all of the chefs-to-be turned, faced the audience, and sang "You Are The Wind Beneath My Wings".

Schmaltz is Yiddish for "Pinoy".

After the ceremony (define irony...), to a group of culinary students and their master chef professors, The Grand Caprice Hotel served what had to be the worst food in the history of the Philippine catering industry... and it was cold to boot.

After that, I took the 3 sisters out to Zax until about 11:00. We had some better food there. Driver Chris got us back to Jasaan.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Daily Report: Party, Pooh, and Pageant

The power was out again, the first time in a week. The rain is starting to come more regularly now, meaning that the hydroelectric power will probably be back up to full capacity soon. Unfortunately, my generator wouldn't work: a morning of work was lost. The repair man will be here tomorrow. I suspect, with the sputtering and stalling that there is a problem with the spark plug or ignition.

In the evening, Epril, Susan, and little Doreen joined the Clines, the Honeycutts, and Winnie The Pooh at little Danny Hughes' birthday party. They had a great time. Meanwhile, I was out to dinner with Mike and Warren (and Jen) at Basamanggas Resort for dinner. (Dinner was very good, if pricey.)

After dinner, we all went back to my place for some beers on the front porch, and then off to Barangay San Antonio where I had gotten Warren and Mike spots on the judging panel for the barangay's bikini open beauty pageant.

Lots of awards to hand out.
There were only 8 contestants tonight, and lots of familiar faces. I didn't mind giving up my seat on the panel of judges... and still got to hand out some awards due to my sponsorship.

After the pageant was over, on a lark, I invited all the beauty queens to go out with us, and they agreed. I'm sure you won't blame me if, as a guy, I puff out my chest and say that I took 8 beauty queens out partying tonight, right? So all of us went to Glitz, Ron's bar in Jasaan, and had food and drinks, and hung around until about 1 in the morning.

Epril made friends with some of the girls in the pageant, and once again I'm thinking about putting up some "personal ads" on my blog for beauty queens who would like to meet some nice guys. We'll see if it leads anywhere this time.

Why I Root For Brasil

Not only did I live there for a while, but obviously it's where I learned about futbol (and samba... and coffee... and how to party until 6 a.m.). To a Brazilian, a soccer ball is like a disco ball. The closer they get to it, the happier they are, the friendlier they are, and the more likely they are to dance.

But, the reason everybody winds up liking Brasil in the end is for one reason: Style... Samba Futbol. Brasil is to football what Greg Louganis was to diving... what Captain Jack Sparrow was to pirating.

Seriously: Watch this video, and then try to imagine a German footballer doing this... or a Korean. See? It just doesn't work.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Daily Report: Aureation

Ednel and I tried to make our Filipino / Tex-Mex chili again... but it has kidney beans in it, which is sort of a New England thing, I'm told... but then we added in leftover elbow noodles to make kind of a Hungarian goulash. Then we served this macaronic dish on hot dog buns that we had custom ordered at Ron's bakery in sort of a Sloppy Joe kind of thing. And damn it was tasty.

I'm trying to get myself revved up for the World Cup. (Did you know that the only 2 FIFA countries — essentially every country on earth — who didn't field teams for the World Cup were Laos and The Philippines?) I'm going to root mainly for my two usual countries: Brasil and the U.S. Other than that, I'll just root for good play. I assume that the games will be broadcast here. The South African day games will obviously air in the late evening; the night games I'll have to miss.

Pinoy Big Brother is once again airing another 3-month stint. There are four new episodes per day, airing in the morning, afternoon, evening, and at midnight, one hour at a time (plus news updates throughout the day). This country is obsessed with this show. Epril and her sisters laugh and laugh at the banter and Stupid Human Tricks, sounding for the most part like newspapers squeaking window cleaner on glass. Then they squeal with delight as two of the house characters move a step closer to romantic involvement. Americans haven't enjoyed a program like this since Ed Sullivan; no wonder ABS-CBN dedicates the majority of their programming focus to this nonsense: Give the people what they want.

The same goes for The World's Worst Program, which is on for 16 hours every Sunday: "ASAP", which stands for "Annoying Simpletons Attempting to Perform". This is when ABS-CBN takes the shrink wrap off their shiny new (and cosmetically flawless) faces of the day, teaches them whatever dance moves their limited minds allow them to remember, and then sends them out on stage to lip synch for a few minutes (to the unhinged cheers of a live audience who don't know better). Every 2 or 3 hours, they send out an actual performer with actual talent to perform actual music (I think... but I don't have the patience to wait around for it).

Really though, the show just represents the worst aspects of the Filipino Entertainment Industry: "If you look good, that's all you need. We'll provide you the talent. We'll take care of making you famous." Again, Filipinos just love it: they live to worship their empty-headed beautiful celebrities, whoever ABS-CBN tells them that is — they won't argue.

I'm reminded of the movie "The Aviator" when Howard Hughes contemptuously looks at Lauren Bacall (probably the most famous celebrity in the world at the time) and says, "You're nothing but a Hollywood actress." A century ago, actors used to be the lowest class of person in society — barely above the homeless and prostitutes — essentially because they offered nothing of value to society. (The playwrights wrote the plays; actors were considered nothing more than a playwright's puppets... stage props with pulses.) But now actors (and, even worse: models) are this society's apotheosis, its most important voices, its role models. Scientists, scholars, engineers, entrepreneurs, writers, thinkers... nobody knows these people, nobody considers them important.

Sad. Populism helped destroy Rome. It's starting it's destructive work in America. Here in The Philippines, it's like feeding toddlers nothing but chocolate and lemon drops: A guarantee that as few people as possible focus on the things that really help them in life. A guarantee that they all remain stage props with pulses.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Daily Report: Chili and Swimming

I had a good morning of work today. Being Sunday, my putative day off, I quit at noontime.

I walked with Ednel and Tatay down to the market and bought the ingredients to make chili. (I've never made chili before.) Originally, I had hoped that neighbor Steve was going to help us make the chili with his recipe, but he wouldn't be around until late in the afternoon. Since I was hungry, I decided to go it alone.

Before leaving the house, I checked a couple of recipes on the internet and saw one that used barbeque sauce instead of tomato sauce. So that was the kernel idea for my own recipe-to-be (see the next post below).

Anyway, my first (and Ednel's first) attempt at making chili was hugely successful.

After that, Epril, Susan, Ednel, myself, and Tyson (and Rent-A-Baby, kidnapped along the way) all went down to the river and found our own little slice of riparian heaven in the early evening sunshine. The water was a perfect temperature. The nearby karaoke machine occasionally shut the hell up; or, just as good, played Beatles music while waiting for more vocal abuse from its clientele.

Yet another panaroma video of dusk at the river. Tyson almost got his skull caved in when a cow he was attempting to make friends with tried to kick him... caught that on video. Tyson pretty much stayed away from the cow after that.

Then, it was back home for beers with Epril's friends in the rooftop garden. After that, I watched on HBO HD "Batman, The Dark Knight" for what is perhaps the 10th or 11th time for me. (That really is one of my favorite movies of all time.) Then off to bed to read my book.

Jungle Jili Con Carne Recipe

Filipino chili: Makes about half a soup pot for 320 pisos.

Add a kilo of ground pork into a soup pot.
Add a third of a clove bulb of diced garlic.
Add 8 finely chopped little Asian chili peppers.
Add 6 diced purple onions.
Add 3 diced red peppers.

Let it cook for a while.

Add 200 grams (1 container) of BBQ sauce.
Add 400 grams (2 containers) of tomato sauce.
Add 1 can of kidney beans.

Add to taste: bay leaves, pepper, salt, Tabasco, mustard powder, oregano, or whatever else in your spice cabinet seems like a logical addition.

Let it cook for a while.

All done.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Remember, In Arizona, It's Not About Race

In Prescott, Arizona, some adults and children working together to paint a school mural on a downtown corner with the faces of local students as the subject matter, have been subject to a constant barrage of racist approbation shouted at them as they work because some of the students depicted are black or hispanic.
R.E. Wall, director of Prescott's Downtown Mural Project, said he and other artists were subjected to slurs from motorists as they worked on the painting at one of the town's most prominent intersections.

"We consistently, for two months, had people shouting racial slander from their cars," Wall said. "We had children painting with us, and here come these yells of (epithet for Blacks) and (epithet for Hispanics)."
Well, that's surprising enough... even in Arizona. But wait:
A group of artists has been asked to lighten the faces of children depicted in a giant public mural at a Prescott school. The project’s leader says he was ordered to lighten the skin tone after complaints about the children’s ethnicity.
Oh for fuck's sake. Welcome to America 2010.

And you know what? I agree with Wonkette: You really can blame this on Obama.
Maybe it’s time to admit that large chunks of America are in the hands of unreconstructed racists and vulgar idiots, and that the popular election of a black man as president just might’ve pushed these furious, economically doomed old white people into a final rage that is going to end very, very badly.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Daily Report: Pool Party, Birthday Party

Birthday girl Charity.
Today it was off to the other new pool resort in Jasaan, Spring View, for the birthday of Epril's friend Charity. (Charity is Rent-A-Baby's mother.) Roger and Arlene were there as well as Gloria Edwards and her little boy. All of Epril's family was there too.

I spent the morning working, and then joined up with the party at 3:00. There was the standard party fare of pancit, grilled fish, rice, and big glass bottles of coca cola.

The new pool resort was incredibly crowded. I don't care for this one much either. The water doesn't come from the big aquifer, and instead comes from a well. The water isn't very clean... especially with 200 kids in it. But, it is located right on the highway and does seem pretty popular. Mayor Jardin was there for a while and stopped by to say hello. I stuck around until sundown and then headed home.

Ednel cooked French Toast again. I'm just in a French Toast mood lately. I could eat half a loaf of sliced bread... soaked in egg with sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg, then grilled on a skillet.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

They Almost Sound Surprised

The Israeli government, after taking control of the 6 ships and inventorying their cargo, declared that everything on the ships was not particularly needed in Gaza.
"We have been working non-stop for the last twenty-four hours examining the cargo holds of the three large cargo ships and I can say with great assurance, that none of the equipment on board is needed in Gaza. The equipment that we found is all equipment that we have regularly allowed into the strip over the past year," said Levi. "This proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that the whole premise of the voyage was for propaganda and provocation and not for humanitarian purposes."

It's like the Greensboro sheriff back in 1960 saying, "You know, those black people who sat down at that all-white diner? It turns out they weren't even hungry."

Here's the way I see it: The other side has finally found Israel's weak point. I believe this event — and those people's deaths aboard that ship — marks the beginning of the end of the Middle East peace process. (And yes: By "end", that could be a bad end or a good end... I don't know.)