Saturday, October 30, 2010

Daily Report: Borrowed Time

I've got myself an extra half week before going back to America. I'm going to take care of a few things here before heading out... some loose ends that need to be tied up. I was going to leave them until I got back... or have Epril take , and then I've got meetings with Attorney on Thursday. Then it will be back to Manila on Friday, and then flying out on Saturday.

I'm going to start on the process of getting Epril a spousal visa. I ocare of them, but figured it would be better instead to get them done now.

That's a good thing. I'm going to head up to Manila on Monday and Tuesdayriginally didn't want to because I had been told that once somebody has a green card, they aren't allowed to leave the United States until they get their citizenship or something like that... a mistaken belief, according to what Attorney told me: People with green cards can come and go (with restrictions) from the United States without problem. Attorney also said that with Epril's various positive "attributes" (already having a Filipino passport, already having used her passport to travel to many countries, already having been approved once for a U.S. visa), he should be able to get her a spousal visa to America (a "green card") in very short order.

I completely forgot to mention it. When I was hanging out with Warren on Friday, I had a massively good idea for a business in America: Helping doctors make the switch from transcription services to speech recognition software. Then, Warren added in another idea: He is going to be starting a Filipino-based outsourcing company, and told me that he'd give me a share of whatever American-based business I could get for his company. (He's Australian, so that is where his focus is.) Either one of those ideas could be very lucrative... but both of those ideas also mean working in the United States for certain periods of time each year.

Con Artist and Rapist Harris Black Thinks He's Cool

Sociopath Harris Black, the Canadian con man from Pattaya, Thailand, who makes his living by stealing money from unsuspecting people he scams on the internet, and gets his sex from unsuspecting Thai girls he lures back to his apartment to be date-raped, sent Epril a message by his Facebook account, which she thought was highly amusing. (She texted me saying, "That rapist Harris Black wrote to me.")
Subject: Harris Black

Epril, I know many pinays believe in karma. Your husband used to look down his nose at me and write this publicly in his blog when I was building my business and had less money.

He went as far as writing bad things about me when he was on top of the world.

Since hearing about Jil going back to America as a failure, this has been the highlight of my week. My business is soaring and Jil's stuck on the other side of the world.

That is karma at its finest! Should you wish to live in Pattaya, Thailand and be taken care of by a stable and successful Jewish Canadian man who does not drink or smoke, I'll gladly fly you over. From what I can see, you are a good woman who got stuck with a loser who is obese and has alcoholic tendencies.

Getting Canadian residency and a passport is much much easier than USA. There are millions of pinays already there.

My direct email:
Funny... his online singles ads that he used to meet unsuspecting girls and date-rape them in Thailand always used to be premised with the statement "no Filipinos please." My how times have changed.

Thanks Harris for the laugh, the opportunity to update and refresh your stained name on the search engines, and of course the opportunity to link your professional e-mail address with your history of scams and sexual assault (although I assume that the "345" means that it was the 345th time your scam of CareerExperts were uncovered and you had to switch to yet another alias and e-mail address). Maybe your "soaring business" (snort) of scamming people will suffer just a tiny bit as a result of this. Please think of me if and when it does.

If you see Harris walking around Pattaya, let him know I said hello.

I'll just mention how I came to know Harris Black.

Harris Black really is a sex offender and convicted con artist from Canada. He's been the subject of several headlining news broadcasts in both Vancouver and Montreal because of his crimes. (There is an entire YouTube channel dedicated to news broadcasts about him.) There is a website put up to warn people about him and the dangers that he represents to the the potential victims whom he comes into contact with. Even one of the local Pattaya forums has a permanent article at the top of their website warning people about him. He lives in Pattaya, Thailand, and represents the worst of the worst of foreigners who go to live in Asia: A wanted man (with arrest warrant for rape in Canada) who makes his living by being a criminal parasite on both the expatriate population and the local population as well. He has gone online posing as a nun, as a representative of an orphanage, as a job recruiter and resume writer, and as a debt collector in order to scam money from people. (1. 2. 3.)

But what Harris Black is most famous (and despised) for in Thailand is having written several "articles" (here and here) on how to con local girls into date-rape situations... using his own personal experiences and stories.

Harris Black actually first came to my attention when I discovered that he was stealing Daily Reports from my blog and copy-posting them on the Pattaya Secrets Forum, pretending that they were his life. The administors of the forum cancelled his account. Harris threw a tantrum and started posting vulgar and insulting comments on my blog.

Next, Harris wrote me an e-mail saying that he wanted to be friends and to find out more about my work. Considering what he had done (both to me specifically and to the world in general), I was actually quite polite and told him that I would answer any questions he had about my work, but that I didn't want to hang out and be friends with him. Harris threw a tantrum and posted more vulgar and insulting comments on my blog.

After that, Harris tried copying my blog style and writing on the Thai Visa forum under an assumed name. Since no matter what part of the internet Harris goes on, he winds up being vulgar and insulting, every internet forum cancels his accounts as soon as they find out he is registered there. Thai Visa cancelled his account. Harris threw a tantrum and posted more vulgar and insulting comments on my blog.

Finally, Harris (apparently because he didn't like something I wrote about somebody else) went on various internet sites and started calling me a drug dealer and pedophile. The sites eventually took the posts down. Harris threw a tantrum and posted more vulgar and insulting comments on my blog.

So, welcome to the mind of the typical sociopath, where the victims are always at fault, and the sociopath is always the maligned and misunderstood innocent. Welcome to Harris Black's World.

p.s. Harris: Eric doesn't want to be friends with you either.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Daily Report: Opportunities, Missed and Taken

I got notification that the house on Camiguin, "Jungle On The Rocks", was available if Epril and I wanted to move in... and at the price I had hoped for. That figures... and sucks.

Actually, we could afford the move... or, more accurately, I could afford to move Epril into that house if I wanted to. But I won't: Epril doesn't know anybody in Camiguin, and relies on me to get out into the various social circles where she can get to know people (in person... see Facebook discussion below). She would be terribly bored and lonely if I moved her there now.

My pay isn't going down with the move back to America. If anything, being in Florida will increase my income because I won't have as many things to do with my spare time, so I will work more.

Additionally, Epril and I figure that we will have at least 15,000 more pisos per month of spare cash because of this move: I won't be buying expensive imported grocery goods here. Air conditioning use will go down, cutting the electric bills. Epril won't be going to the expensive restaurants which I like eating at. Driver Chris won't be called upon every time we go into town. Epril's preferred meal of dried fish will replace the more expensive roasted chickens and pork dishes that are eaten when I am here.

I don't think my party this Friday will be well-attended. Warren is leaving for Australia on Saturday and wanted to get together before he left, so I originally figured we would hang out together on Friday afternoon. Then as an afterthought I decided to invite everyone else; but Friday afternoon seems to be a terrible time for people to get out for a few hours of sun and swimming. I've been getting nothing but regrets of being unable to attend. Oh well. If you can make it, I'd be happy to see you there.

Epril and I are going to try to open an eBay store. It's not something that would work in many places other than The Philippines, but here it can work well. It is possible to resell items in this country at a fair profit. Something that you buy in the big markets of Cebu or Manila can be resold to people who live on other islands and cannot easily get to those markets. Payments for online purchases, interestingly, are easier here than in most other countries: Not only are there lots of competitors to the Western Union form of business, but Filipinos can even send money to each other via their mobile phones.

An important marketing tool for this type of retail seems to be (and here is where Epril has a distinct advantage) Facebook. The online retailer puts up a photo album of the items being sold on Facebook, and then proceeds to "tag friends" (Epril has almost 2000 friends) to the photo. Then the friends come and look at this "photo catalog" and make purchases. Another marketing tool I plan to use for the eBay store is two of my friends' SEO (search engine optimization) companies.

Finally, we'll be looking at importing goods from China. Through my Eagles fraternity, I have a fellow Eagle brother in customs, and he'll help us bring in shipments of low-cost goods to sell online.

I'm really not sure how long it will take me to get back to The Philippines. I know now what income I consider to be my own personal bare minimum to survive (because that is what I had been earning for a while), and Epril and I together need to be earning exactly that — but preferably more — before I can return. I think realistically my return will be after Christmas. But if our first plan fails or does not meet expectations... and the second plan... and the third plan... Who knows how long I'll be gone?

Yes, it is possible that I might just choose to stay in America and bring Epril to live there. I'd get some 9-to-5 briefcase-and-tie gig, and rat-race my way to retirement in 20 years, while Epril would learn some profession of her own and we would lose ourselves in the modern dual-income humdrum of domestic bliss. But right now my mind isn't open to that option. Maybe I'll become more receptive eventually, or maybe a stateside opportunity will draw me in, or maybe I'll have no other choice. I don't know.

All I do know is that this place, Northern Mindanao, the state of Misamis Oriental, is what I consider home now, and that isn't going to change. I'll move around and maybe even spend years or decades before I get back here... but this is the place I will eventually return to, retire to with my wife and live happily to the end of days. All else is unknown now.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Thank You Mrs. Hoffman

I'm amazed at the process of growing older. If it didn't directly correlate to edging ever closer to my end of days, I would consider it one of the greatest aspects of life.

I don't miss much about my youthful self. Perhaps that was because I was frivolous and ignorant, and I stayed childishly pickwickian and unwise even into my 30s. I harbor no nostalgia or Proustian melancholy about the person I was.

I am especially happy to be rid of the educationally apathetic mind that I possessed all those years ago.

Indeed: What is best about growing older for me is that knowledge and intellectual excellence are becoming the most important things, and this is a fact I take much joy in. Understanding ideas, learning new subjects, expanding my horizons, gaining philosophical and epistemological insights, and better expressing myself are to me the true hallmarks of age.

It is with that nisus in mind that I contacted my former high school English teacher, Mrs. Mary Hoffman, and asked her to help me fine tune my writing into a high-speed, grammatically turbo-charged, chirographic communication hot rod. I sent her samples of my writing from this blog, and she responded with very time-consuming, very detailed, and very helpful hints regarding mistakes or shortcomings in my English technic (and also thanks for that one, Mary).

As I mentioned to Mrs. Hoffman, the saying is that "youth is wasted on the young," and I adduced that education, too, was a luxury wasted on the young. I would like to thank Mrs. Hoffman for this rare and valuable second seating in her classroom. I doubt any of you, regardless of your zest for learning, would dispute that what I am receiving is a wonderful gift from a truly dedicated educator.

Again Mrs. Hoffman: I sincerely thank you.

Jil's Party Over Party

Everyone is invited to attend my "Party Over" party at Twin Hearts Pool Resort here in Jasaan at 11:00 a.m. this coming Friday.

See you there. Bring food if you want, and beer will be sold at the concession stand.

A Brief Explanation

A lot of people are wondering what happened to cause this "sudden" shift in my employment situation, and are also wondering whether or not my writing on the internet had anything to do with it... whether there was some animosity on the part of my company in all of this.

What happened was this: My company has half of its operations in India, and half in the United States. My company originally asked its client hospitals whether or not it would be okay to send their records overseas to be worked on. Some of them said yes... and their records are now sent to India. Some of them said no... and their records remain in America.

As an American living outside of America, I posed a conundrum to my company: Could they allow me to work on the records of hospitals who had (now) specifically stated that they wanted their records to remain in America? "No" is what they eventually decided, and created a new policy stating that American employees must be working in America. It's not an unfair decision: I'm just one person and I could be jeopardizing million-dollar contracts just by dint of my work location.

My company did offer me an option that would have allowed me to continue working in The Philippines: They offered to change me over to the status of an overseas worker to work on the Indian accounts. Unfortunately this meant also getting paid an overseas (Indian) salary. I didn't ask precisely how much that would be before turning it down, but obviously it would have been a fraction of what I am currently earning. Since what I am currently earning is already a fraction of what I was originally earning a few years ago... there was no sense in cutting a fraction into a further fraction.

So, did my blog have anything to do with this? No. Does my company even know about my blog? I don't think so. "Jil Wrinkle" is a moniker that does not appear on my passport, paychecks, or work e-mails. But, if people at my company were interested enough, and actually looked on the internet to see if there was any American doing medical transcription in The Philippines and writing about the experience, they would easily put two and two together.

And that doesn't worry me: The simple fact is that everything that I say about my job (and to some extent, my life) here on the blog I also freely mention to my coworkers and supervisors — at least those supervisors and coworkers with whom I have a long working relationship and with whom I get along well. So, there is nothing that I write here (both positive and negative) that I have not mentioned, do not mention, or would not mention to anybody at my company who asked. And: Those things that I would not say to people at my company... they are not written about here either.

My company has generally been very cool and we've had a good relationship. The dramatic drop in pay that I have seen over the last couple of years was industry wide, and is not my company's fault. My move to Asia, when I did it 8 years ago, was not something that my company knew about when I did it, and I know for a fact that they would have said no if I had asked permission. Yet, overall they accommodated my location and provided me a lucrative overnight slot to work in so that I could work days in Asia. They shipped materials and parts to Asia instead of my home in New York, saving me the cost of forwarding them. They allowed me to skip company calls because of the cost of dialing in. When the questions mentioned above first cropped up a year ago, there were people who stood up for me and vouched for me.

The only way in which my company let me down was the suddenness of this decision: I was warned that it was a possibility on a Monday evening, and then told to pack my bags on a Friday morning. I actually had to ask for a week more work before leaving (although they did offer me 3 weeks — one paid, two not paid — to make the move, but I only took one week). I honestly expected that when this decision came around, that I would have a month or more to get ready to make the move.

Anyway, I hope this clears things up.

Daily Report: Lemonade Doesn't Taste That Good

I've been working on getting excited about the upcoming move back to America. I've been wanting to visit there (visit) for a while now... missing the place. I can think of a few things that I can get excited about: The food that I mentioned earlier; I'll be seeing some relatives for the first time in almost a decade; uh...


Okay... Going to a bookstore the size of WalMart will be nice.

Oh: I've missed watching the network newscasts for some reason. Commercials too.

Yeah: Seeing traffic intersections where every person obeys the law... that will be a treat. Seeing all the new American car models will be fun.

Not running out of water... I've missed that. A good cup of gourmet coffee... looking forward to that.

Carpet between my toes. No carpets in Asia, you know.

Feeling a temperature below 75 degrees for the first time in years. Maybe I'll even be cold in Florida.

Well, those are my reasons why I'm looking forward to going back to America. Yay. Can you sense my excitement at the prospect?

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Business Opportunities In The Philippines

There really are lots of ways to make money in The Philippines... and the return on investment can be truly spectacular. There is a simple reason for this: If a poor Filipino has a capital fund of only $50, he cannot survive if that money is only earning him a $10 return per year. While a 20% annual return on investment in America would be wonderful, an indigent Filipino needs to earn a 20% return on investment per day in order to feed his family. Granted, it may take hard work to get a 20% return on investment per day... but that is what he does to survive.

The problem most foreigners have when coming here to make money is that they don't think like Filipinos. Wealthier Filipinos look to their poorer counterparts, find out what they are doing, and then just go large with it.

The other day, I was talking to my friend Geoff, and he was telling me about the coconut oil business. Coconut oil is created from the dessicated rind (the white stuff) of coconuts. Poor folks take 500 kilograms of coconut rind (purchased for about 2,500 pisos... $65), leave it out in the sun for 3 days (if you've been to The Philippines, you probably have seen this), and then take the resulting 200 kilograms of dessicated rind to the coconut oil producer and sell it for 3,700 pisos... $95. That's about a 50% return on investment in 3 days... 400 pisos per day.

What the wealthier Filipino businessman does is build a giant 20-foot by 20-foot grill, puts 1000 kg of coconut rinds on it, lights a slow-burning fire under it, and within 24 hours, he has 350 kg to take to the oil producer... earning 2,500 pisos per day in the process. There is no big technological jump here, or huge investment in equipment. (The grills are just 4 cement walls and iron bars.) Instead, it is just taking a traditional way of doing something here and applying mass-production to it. Instead, it is just having the capital necessary to build the grills... having enough money to be able to buy the wood to light the fire.

All agriculture and traditional manufacturing here is the same way. The difference between a guy who sells 20 papayas per day and a guy who sells 2000 papayas per day is essentially the number of papaya trees each owns.

Yes, of course there are the very wealthy Filipinos who have much larger operations upon which real economies of scale can be drawn. I'm sure that somewhere in The Philippines, somebody has built an automated coconut oil making machine in which whole coconuts go in, and within an hour barrels of coconut oil come out. That's a rare (and yes, even more lucrative) level of industry in The Philippines compared with the working population as a whole. But that is indeed another level of business beyond the scope of this discussion.

The simple upshot is that the best business opportunities in The Philippines are the simplest. They are the easiest to set up, and the least risky and least costly to lose or have fail. And, let's face it: This is a country where your attempts at making money may run into brick walls. In a place like this, logic dictates that ten $2000 business ventures are much safer than a single $20,000 scheme.

It is easy to be fooled into thinking that the well-to-do Filipinos earn their money in retail or the service sector... but that's just because those are the visible operations that you come across on a day-to-day basis. But those are the secondary efforts of a family's conglomerate of business interests.

If you were to ask the owner of some store you are in (and not the person who is running the place... that's the owner's nephew or cousin or something), I am sure he or she will tell you that it is the big rubber plantation, or the fleet of fishing boats — and not the internet cafĂ© or the lechon manok stand or the boutique at the mall — that is their bread and butter.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Daily Report: Miscellaneous Thoughts

When I go back to America, I'm either going to quickly lose 50 pounds because of being distrait and having no appetite... or I'm going to quickly gain 50 pounds as I find solace in my long-missed, now-available comfort foods and American culinary treats such as a ham and swiss sandwich, things loaded with with ricotta cheese, proper beef and burgers... the list is endless.

Life in practice will not change much here: From 7:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., the bottom two floors of this house will be unaffected. I'll still be just a quick electronically-transmitted message away. From 9:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m., this house will be unaffected, except for the empty space next to Epril as she sleeps.

I'm going to go back to America and work just as I am doing now. I'll leave my bank card here with Epril. The bills will get paid, Tyson will get walked, clothes will be washed, TV will be watched. Life will go on.

No, I'm not willing to sneak back to The Philippines and start transcribing without my company knowing where I am... like I did back in 2002 in Thailand. Back then, I was perfectly willing to either (a) go back to New York should I get caught, or (b) get fired and then go back to New York should I get caught.

Now, losing my job means Epril losing my support. I have more responsibilities, and I am not allowed to tinker and toy and take risks with my ability to take care of her. I won't be back until I have a new way to earn a living here.

Obviously, I have no shortage of ideas on how to make that happen. Epril will be here and she and I will be working together over the internet on Jil's "Joint Operation Home Now System Of Online Networking", otherwise known as Jil's JOHNSON. It will be a long and hard bit of work... but obviously getting me back here is all that Epril and I are thinking about now.

Nine days left.

Daily Report: Without Warning, The Party Is Over

My company told me yesterday that if I wanted to keep my job, I had 2 weeks to get back to the United States. Since if I lose my job, I'll have to go back to the United States anyway, I figured I might as well go back with a job rather than without.

I'll be leaving November 2nd, flying to Florida to stay there for the winter. Epril will be staying behind, which is the part that's killing me. We've never spent any time apart in 3 years, and I have no idea how to deal with that. Hell, I haven't even left yet and I'm already messed up... as is Epril.

Obviously, I'll be focusing all of my non-work-related efforts back in America on finding a way to come back to live in The Philippines. Big thanks go out to my mother and stepfather for providing me everything I need to survive back in the U.S.: Primarily lots of emotional support... along with everything else.

If anybody out there has any clever ideas, escape plans, or golden parachutes to offer, by all means let me know.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Legalize Pot

(Photo credit: New York Times and Sashenka Gutierrez/EFE, via European Pressphoto Agency)

I see that California is set to legalize marijuana soon. I hope they do. First off, marijuana when compared to alcohol is less intoxicating, less addicting, less damaging to health, less damaging to property, and less damaging to society.

Second, the drug war against marijuana alone costs hundreds of millions of dollars per year in America. Third, the tax that could be generated from the sale of marijuana would be enough to solve California's budget deficit... and several other states would do well to notice.

Check this out:
Two days ago, Mexican authorities seized 134 tons of marijuana in Tijuana, just across the border from California. The value of the seizure was estimated at $340 million.

According to the logic of prohibitionist economics, such a huge bust should have quite a damaging effect on the marijuana market in the United States, right?

Wrong. Mexico confiscated more than 1,300 tons of marijuana in 2009 alone, and before that the average was more than 2,000 tons per year. Yet each year, production goes up and street prices in the U.S. remain relatively static.

In California, the efforts to make an impact on the availability and price of marijuana result in similarly impressive seizures, but they too fail to have any effect whatsoever. Each year during the late summer and early fall, eradication programs such as CAMP take to the hills and skies, destroying millions of budding marijuana plants. Yet each year, production goes up and street prices remain relatively static.
Take 1,300 tons (1.3 million kilograms) and divide that by the 300 million people in America, and you get 4 grams per year for every man, woman, grandparent, and child. When you divide that into the 5% of Americans who smoke marijuana every month, that number goes up to 80 grams... about 3 ounces.

Soon California... and hopefully thereafter the rest of the United States... will legalize the growth and sale of marijuana. If you want to put everybody from murderous Mexican drug cartels to your shady local pot dealer out of business, fix a huge amount of government cash problems (and make America a mellower — and hopefully less drunk — place in the process), legalizing marijuana is a good first step.
Here: I decided to add in this graphic which I put on my blog 3½ years ago. Below is the list that you get if you ask doctors, scientists, and law enforcement officials (instead of politicians) how they rank the 20 most common illegal (and legal) drugs in terms of what I shall call the "how bad they are" measure (i.e. on average, how much people who regularly use a particular drug (1) damage their health, (2) get addicted, and (3) damage their family and society in the process).
1. Heroin
2. Cocaine/crack
3. Barbiturates (sedatives)
4. Methadone (pain killer)
5. Alcohol
6. Ketamine (psychedelic)
7. Sleeping pills
8. Amphetamines
9. Tobacco
10. Buprenorphine (pain killer)
11. Marijuana
12. Inhaling solvents
13. 4 MTA (stimulant)
14. LSD/acid
15. Ritalin (ADHD drugs)
16. Anabolic steroids
17. GHB (the "date rape drug")
18. Ecstasy
19. Poppers / Rush (inhalers)
20. Khat (chewable stimulants)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


People are generally well-aware of the miracle transformations that a drag queen can perform to turn himself from boy to girl. But, it is the much-more-rarely-seen drag king who is the true Shaolin Makeup Master.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Daily Report: You Thought I Was Joking

I've said it 100 times before: Everything I buy (or have given to me, or come into possession of) breaks as soon as possible.

The computer that I bought for the living room: It died. Windows won't start.

Yes... it was under warranty from the shop at Limketkai Mall where I bought it.

So I stopped by the store today where I bought my broken computer...

My Wife Is Beautiful

She's also one of the friendliest, most gentle, humble people I've ever known. She cares for me and loves me as much as my mother does. She makes me smile and laugh as much as any friend I've ever had. She's passionate and alluring and has made all of my dreams and fantasies come true.

I'm the luckiest guy I know when it comes to finding the perfect wife.

Another Fine Example Of American Expatrioteness

The American, Clarence Bruce Beach, who is a resident of the village, allegedly pointed a 45 caliber pistol with an open hammer at the complainant, Mrs. Daisy Rizon, who is also a resident of the village, and threatened to kill her and the supposed dog that belonged to her daughter.

Beach allegedly had a prior altercation with the dog of Kristin Aballe, the daughter of Mrs Rizon, and he declared that he was going to kill the dog. He was allegedly walking his mongrel dogs when the German Shepherd Dog of Mrs. Aballe reacted to the presence of such dogs and attacked the American’s dogs.
I would like to point out that this is the kind of situation where your Filipina wife can come in very handy: Instead of reaching for your gun (okay: your "wife's" gun — we know the drill), you go to your wife and tell her that if she doesn't go and find a solution to this problem you are having with these other people, you are going to wind up in jail.

Chances are, your wife already knows that you are a stupid and psychotic twat (since that kind of thing tends to be hard to hide), and she will believe what you are saying and will make every effort under the sun to stop your problem... and your idiocy... from happening.

Obviously this advice is a little late for Mr. Beach now; but I doubt that his world will get any less annoying in the future — nor his disposition any closer to adult and/or civilized — so he may want to file it away for future reference.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Daily Report: Kingston Lodge, Diet Starts Tomorrow

Today was the first monthly Sunday Bar-Be-Que at Kingston Lodge, and the entire expatriate community showed up for the event.

Everybody had a great time. The Sunriser Band (from Zax) played great music through the afternoon, while Danny's staff cooked steaks and sausages on the grill.

Epril and I both had the same thing: A steak with all-you-can-eat salads for 275 pisos, plus two big side sausages for 45 pisos each.
Of course, the kids spent the entire time swimming... lots of kids!

Of course, the first rule of socializing in The Philippines is that the girls (and drag queens) have to get together for lots of picture taking.

And of course, after sufficient liquid courage has been consumed, the husbands grab their wives and hit the dance floor.

And after the guys are all tired out and back to their tables and beers, the girls just keep on dancing!

Daily Report #2: Shakeys, Diet Starts Tomorrow

After Kingston Lodge, Epril and I went to Limketkai Mall to do a bit of shopping and have dinner.

Epril told me (after mentioning how much I missed Subway) that Shakeys restaurant now has a good sub sandwich for sale. We went and tried it.

At first, I balked at the 589 pisos ($13) price tag, but when I saw that it comes with:

A liter and a half of root beer...

A rather big pile of "potato chips" (very tasty)...

And the sub is this gargantuan 18 x 5 inch thing, I decided to give it a try.

Overall, it's a pretty damn good sandwich. It's not loaded with huge amounts of meat, and the meat isn't the very top quality... but it has 2 kinds of salami, plus ham, plus cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and a vinaigrette. It will feed three people easily... or me and my twin brother.

My only complaint is that you can't "break up" the meal and order just the sandwich for take-away. The root beer and potato chips come along whether you want them or not.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Asked 7 Times, Still Won't Name A Program To Cut

Carly Fiorina was asked 7 times (seven!) by Chris Wallace of Fox News Sunday to name one single program she would cut if elected to be California's Senator... and she wouldn't answer. And this is a lady who, like every other Republican, is basing her entire campaigin on how much she is going to cut government spending.

And can't name a single way she will cut government spending.

Watch it:

People can claim the Republicans have put out some plan to cut spending as much as they want. The simple fact is, either the Republican candidates themselves have no idea what that plan is, or they refuse to discuss the specifics of that plan because they think it will cost them the election.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Daily Report: Crapping Out

We haven't heard back on Jungle On the Rocks, our hoped-for rental property in Camiguin — but should in the next day or two. There is another property for a similar price on Camiguin that Epril is going to go out there to look at next week... a hilltop place with a great overarching view of the island for the same price as Jungle On The Rocks.

In addition, since Epril is only partially keen on moving to Camiguin, we are looking for houses to rent in Cagayan De Oro as well. That's turning out to be a severe waste of time so far.

There are 3 different categories of houses to rent in CDO that we have seen:

The first are a collection of about 20 or 30 either moderately or ridiculously expensive fancy houses (40,000 pisos and up per month). The cheapest are just beyond our price range... but since these houses are owned by wealthy Filipinos who make enough money that they don't particularly care whether these houses get rented or not, no deals or negotiating are possible.

The second type of houses we have seen for rent are about 100-200 tiny, featureless, worthless little bungalows renting for ridiculously high prices (15,000 to 20,000 per month) because they happen to be located in (crappy, but Filipinos consider wonderful) "upscale" housing developments that make the owners think they can rent these bungalows for the same cost per square meter as the actual upscale houses above.

The third type of places to rent are a small selection of even smaller one-bedroom row houses and apartments that rent for even more per square meter than either of the selections above, which regardless are too small to even hold our entertainment center and bed, let alone Epril and myself.

Of course, there are other houses that fall outside of these categories in Cagayan De Oro: Nice houses that rent for reasonable prices. But here's a surprise: They are all already rented. I personally know of three people who rent very nice, very large houses in the 25,000 to 30,000 pisos range.

Any houses that we do find that we can afford are faulty in some way: One didn't have any driveway or fence around it, so your motorcycle, washing, and bbq grill would be stolen within a week. Another house had 4 bedrooms and only one bathroom on the second floor, no hot water, and kitchen cabinets that were 7 feet above the floor. A third was half a house... and I just don't share walls. For a fouth house you had to walk through somebody else's front yard to get to the place.

Well, Epril and I are not in a hurry to move, and Camiguin Island properties are still renting for a mere fraction of what the CDO places are renting for. So we'll just keep looking and see what comes along. My opinion is that fate will play a big role: If we find the right house in Camiguin and nothing in CDO, that's where we'll end up. If we find the right house in CDO and Camiguin craps out, we'll end up in CDO.

And until one of those eventualities arrives, we'll just stay where we are for now.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Bar-Be-Que Party At Kingston Lodge Sundays

Danny at Kingston Lodge has started a new recurring expatriate shindig on the third Sunday of every month: Bar-be-que... beer... and a band. Food is served from noontime until 3 in the afternoon, and then Mystika and The Sunriser Band will take to the stage to play your favorite disco music from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. The pools will be open as well for anyone who wants to cool off... or soak their heads after too many San Miguels.

Meals start at 225 pisos... just $5. No reservations necessary, but you can call 088-858-5696 for any questions you may have, or e-mail Danny at

Epril and I hope to see you there this Sunday!

Another Note On Noise

I just realized, as I sit here about 150 meters away from the middle school, listening to the noise coming out of that place (and it really is loud... I can't hear my work because some lady is shouting into a microphone and kids are cheering wildly):

The classrooms are rows of buildings, with doors leading directly outside. More importantly, none of the classrooms have glass on the windows. They are completely open. The noise that is hampering my hearing at this great distance is right in the ears of the little kids trying to hear teachers at the front of the classroom, trying to study, trying to concentrate.

How friggin impossible is that? My god.

(And Jasaan Central School... the same school I just described... is a very highly-ranked school in The Philippines public education system.)

By the way, just as an update: Now one of the groundskeepers has lit a pile of raked-up garbage on fire back behind one of the classroom buildings and a huge cloud of smoke is billowing up literally yards away from the classroom (again note: open windows) where the kids are sitting.

No, I'm not joking. Actually, this photo is about 10 minutes after the smoke started, and is a tiny cloud compared to what it was when it started. Then, it was stinging even my throat way over here.

Monday, October 11, 2010

What One In A Billion Looks Like

Champion of "China's Got Talent":

Daily Reports: Down For The Day

I was sick today... bad stomach.

I guess people automatically assume that moving to the various places of the world in which Montezuma plotted his revenge would confer an eventual immunity to whatever is in the water. Since most people of normal mindset don't go on the internet and write of their stercoral adventures in detail, I can only speak for myself: Nope. Not so.

On average, about twice a week, the local microflora of The Philippines wakes me up in the middle of the night, and I fire a shot out of my aft torpedo launcher. Usually repeated every 20 or 30 minutes until out of ammunition.

Fortunately though (again, speaking only for myself) on such occasions, by sunrise the battle is pretty much over and my day begins and proceeds without further ado.

Not so today. Today found me with a grinding, twisting, and at times jaw-clenching gut that continuously wrung itself out like a wet towel. I eventually gave up on work and went back to bed. I don't know why, but lying prone and keeping still made the waves of pain go away. Standing up... sitting up... rolling over... and the pain came back again.

Oh well. I had a bit of ice cream, some antacids, iced tea, and watched Star Trek on the laptop in bed for the rest of the day.

Yes... yes, I know. Who the hell wants to read about Jil's culo? Sorry. Just skip that stuff you just read if you don't want to read it.

In other news, Chef Ednel has moved out of the house. I got her an apprenticeship kind of job at Kingston Lodge, the local expatriate hangout in Cagayan De Oro. She started today. She'll be learning all of the kitchen, all of the service, plus hopefully books and cashiering as well. Owner Danny has given Ednel a room on the property (with the other employees), an employee meal, and a small daily allowance. I'm quite appreciative of this and the opportunity it gives Ednel. Danny knows his way around commercial cooking, and I'm sure that Ednel can learn quite a bit from him and his operation there. Plus I'm sure that a recommendation from Danny at some point down the road will be great for her resume.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Product Review: Cignal Versus Dream, Updated

This post is a continuation of this post of a year ago, in which I compared Cignal Satellite Television to Dream Satellite Television.

This past week, Cignal (website, wikipedia) finally did what they needed to do to become the leading... the only... choice for subscribers of satellite television in The Philippines. They more than doubled their high-definition channel lineup, and added a handful of very worthwhile channels in their standard definition as well.

Just a quick rundown of the channels that have been added:

In high definition, there is Discovery HD World, The Food Channel HD, Star World HD, and, as I mentioned earlier, ESPN (proper) HD. (There is also a holding spot for "Basketball HDTV" that is not broadcasting yet.)

In regular definition, CNBC, Fax Family Movies, Fox Television, Discovery Channel, Discovery Turbo have been added.

With the addition of these channels, Cignal has gone from a High-Definition hobbyist purchase (with standard definition added in) to a full and proper (but still small) program listing and satellite service.


So, new judgement: Cignal definitely beats Dream. That's no longer a discussion open for debate.

Against ground-based cable companies is where the real competition now lies. Cignal gives your local cable company a run for its money because of its high-definition offerings, picture quality, and on-screen menu, but still loses out in price and channel selection.

So, now it is no longer question of "Cignal Versus Dream", but a question of "Cignal Versus Everyone Else." And for that, the jury is still out.

Cignal is about either approximately the same cost as cable (if you don't have the high-defintion package), or twice as expensive as cable (if you do have the high definition package), for less than half the number of channels. But in my opinion, Cignal has a significantly higher percentage of "worthwhile" channels (versus channels I personally would never watch) compared to, say, Parasat Cable here in Mindanao.

The extra money I am paying for the high definition package is, in my opion, money well spent: The cost for Cignal's high definition package has gone from about 100 pisos per channel per month a year ago (with many of the channels showing an "upgraded SD" or 720-line HD signal) down to about 50 pisos per channel per month now (of full and proper 1080 HD content)... and nearly all of those channels are "worthwhile" channels.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Daily Reports: Noise

One of the things I find most irritating about Asia (and The Philippines in particular) is how immune people are to noise.

I have the noisiest neighbors: They have 3 yappy-type dogs permanently tied up in the front yard and all they do from sun-up until late at night is bark. Constantly. Loudly. The fighting cocks in the side yard crow. Constantly. Loudly. Nobody says anything.

Then, early every morning, the man of the house comes out into the front yard, starts his chainsaw motorcycle, and opens up the engine full throttle for 30 seconds (I suppose to "warm it up").

I asked Susan and Epril if it bothers them. They never even noticed.

The kids on the corner have a great time banging rocks on these hollow pipes out there for 15 or 20 minutes at a time. Ding. Ding. Ding. Ding. Ding. Nobody goes out and tells them to stop. Nobody even shoots them with a pistol.

Special times always call for special levels of noise in The Philippines. Elections have the loudspeaker trucks driving around constantly. (One of those trucks was left idling, blasting campaign music outside of my house for 45 minutes, while the driver took a break.) Religious holidays of course have the vigils with loud music and sermons until 4 a.m. Parades start at 7:45 a.m. for school events. Even the Catholic Church is in on the game, with their loudspeakers firing off a hymn or two at 5 a.m. The local government weekly puts on rallies or concerts until midnight or later at the town square. Nobody notices. Nobody loses any sleep.

And it's funny: When the dogs stop barking. When all of the other noises cease for a moment. This is such an incredibly peaceful and quiet and beautiful place.

But, I don't think the Filipinos notice that either.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Daily Report: Quick Work Update

The welter and upheavel at my job has ended and I have found myself in a surprising place.

As stated earlier, the account that I had been working on was sent to India. So, the plan was that I was supposed to be moved to another brand new team with other brand new accounts. But no real matches were found (the first offer was for part time work; the second offer fell through because the contractual obligations for the particular account stated no overseas workers). Apparently, what happened next was that the higher-ups either just stopped looking for new accounts for me to go to... or they forgot.

So I just kind of stayed where I was... and here is what happened:

When my old account left for India, the only accounts I had left to work on were (1) a small secondary account for the team that I have been on for years, and (2) a massive tertiary account on another nearby team upon which at least 50 or 60 people work.

So here is what is happening now: The secondary account (now my first account) that I work on for my original team is, for the most part, always empty at night (my daytime in Asia). So, I do almost all of my work on that big backup account on the other team. In other words, I kind of sneak in through the back door of this other team late at night, do my work, and then leave quietly.

And that big account is a joy to work on. Really.

So, basically with me doing barely any work on my current team (the team I've been on for years), my old supervisor has pretty much forgotten that I'm even there since my work for the other team doesn't show up on her reports. Meanwhile, the supervisor on the other team with the backup account where I do all my work doesn't really know I'm there because the account is so big with so many people working on it... and I'm just a random number showing up on a big spreadsheet.

I'm invisible... forgotten.

Just the way I always wanted it.

Knock on wood.

Science News: Cause of Colony Collapse Found

This is a science story that not many people are really aware of... or how much it impacts (or will impact) their lives: Bee colonies on this planet have been mysteriously dying off at an incredible rate.

Why is this important? Quite simply: Imagine a world without most of its fruit or vegetables.

Bees are the primary pollinators of fruits and vegetables on this planet, and they are dying at a rate that is, to put it simply, very scary. In just four years, 20% to 40% of the bees in America have died. In a span measured in years... not decades... things such as onions, broccoli, lemons, strawberries, and even cotton could be gone...

...or at least massively reduced: I saw a documentary on colony collapse, and the film crew went to China and showed how the plum capital of China has been nearly wiped out. The only thing that has saved their industry is that fruit farmers walk around the trees with long sticks with feathers on the ends, and tap all the plum blossoms, spreading the pollen around.

But obviously that's not going to work on a global scale.

Anyway, it turns out that what is killing the bees is a combination of a fungus and a virus working together. But, that's only step one. Yet to be found is a way to stop the deaths and that is still very much an unsolved mystery.

This really is one of the most serious and immediate threats facing the planet today.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

A Hollow Plan

It's true, you know. The Republican party this election has as their central promise this vague plan to "cut government spending", but they literally have nothing they actually plan on cutting.

It's like saying that you are going on a diet, but cannot name a single food that you will eat less of. Would you expect anybody to have confidence in your ability to lose weight? So why would you expect Republicans to actually cut spending?

Watch this video: It's 5 minutes of a bunch of interviews with Republicans avoiding very specific, point blank questions about what government programs they would cut in order to reduce the budget deficit.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Filipinos To Be Fined For Singing Off-Tune Anthem

This is amusing:
"Philippine MPs have proposed a law against off-key singing of Lupang Hinirang (Beloved Land), the national anthem...

The Philippines' lower house voted 196-0 in favour of the measure on Monday...

The proposal has been put forward as the MPs felt that Filipino artists had been changing the anthem's military march melody and beat. The change in the anthem's tune was noted when it was sung at the boxing matches of Manny Pacquiao.
God I hate populism. You know how you can tell when something is nothing but populist claptrap? Because a governmental body will always vote 196-0 in favor of it... because no politician is stupid enough to get caught voting against something that, even though patently useless and unenforceable, makes all of their constituents feel either proud and patriotic, warm and fuzzy, or safe and secure.

You can't sing The Philippines national anthem out of tune? Even the little school kids every morning? (Oh buddy, you should hear them.)

Or does the law really state that you can't change the melody and beat? That's more likely.

Wikipedia says:
At present, the 1998 Republic Act (R.A.) 8491. (the Flag and Heraldic Code of the Philippines) regulates the usage of the Philippine national anthem.

R.A. 8491 specifies that Lupang Hinirang "shall be in accordance with the musical arrangement and composition of Julian Felipe." However, when literally followed, this means that the national anthem should only be performed by a pianist or by a brass band, as these were the only versions that were produced by Julian Felipe. Moreover, because the original version was composed in duple time (i.e. in a time signature of 2/4) as compared to the present quadruple time (4/4), it is uncertain if this will either slow down or even double the music's speed, making it difficult for singers to keep up with the music. Regardless of this, the national anthem is still sung with the lyrics. R.A. 8491 also states that Lupang Hinirang "shall always be sung in the national language" regardless if performed inside or outside the Philippines, and specifies that the singing must be done with fervor.

But is it even constitutional to apply laws restricting the expression, usage, and arrangement of something that is almost certainly in the public domain? It's basically saying that artistic license is illegal. It most certainly raises some free speech issues.

It's absolutely a gray law... and gray laws always suck: With such a law, essentially anybody can be arrested for singing The Philippines national anthem. All somebody has to do is make the charge that a certain performance "wasn't in accordance with the orignal" or it wasn't sung with enough "fervor", and who could argue?

Somebody could be arrested because, being unable to hit the high notes, they moved their performance down a few keys. Somebody could be arrested for flubbing the lyrics. Somebody could be arrested for, yes, singing out of tune. Somebody most certainly (since it was the example Congress was specifically thinking of, as stated in the article) could be arrested for singing the national anthem too slowly.

The law also prohibits putting the flag of The Philippines on clothing... yet another dilly of a law considering that half of the T-Shirts sold to tourists promoting the Philippines have the flag on it. I think that all of my Eagle's shirts have the Flag Of The Philippines on them in some way, shape, or form.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Kerplunk Goes The Dollar

The dollar has dropped again... about 2% against the Philipine Piso, but a staggering 10% against the Thai Baht.

Oh how I long for those days when economic problems meant the countries with the teetering economies and fragile governments had their currencies go haywire, while the big economies with their armies of economic doctorates stayed steady... instead of the other way around.

Thought Exercise

John Cole at Balloon Juice wrote this paragraph which I fully agree with:
When you bomb people and kill their family, friends, and neighbors, burn down their homes and burn down their businesses and kill their livestock, spewing unexploded ordnance and munitions in fields where they work and their children play, it pisses them off. Many of them even get pissed off enough to fight back against the people they think are responsible for the bombing. They probably even form lifelong grudges when they find their mother and children in thousands of bloody pieces in their former homes.
But I thought about it for a minute:

Historically, lots of people whom America has bombed the hell out of haven't held grudges. That may be the current situation, but think of it this way: America killed more Germans and/or more Japanese civilians on several single days in World War 2 than they have total Iraqi and/or Afghan civilians in almost a decade of fighting. But after World War 2, the Germans and Japanese were not out for revenge; anti-American sentiment in those countries was not a major problem at any point since. Why? Why is it that killing 5 million civilians then didn't elicit the same amount of lasting infamy and animosity as having killed just 50 now?

Not to say that this side of the argument is a better choice/solution, but perhaps when it's just you and a dozen or so of your neighbors who have had your lives ruined by a single explosion, the attack is more personal and the psychological impact more direct. When you look around and see half a million other people standing with you in the rubble, maybe it changes your perspective a bit.

I think an argument could be made that the war fought with the Germans and Japanese was an "official" war sanctioned by governments which the German and Japanese people fully supported, and thus felt themselves somehow responsible for — or party to — what happened. Or perhaps because the war machines of those countries and the war footing of those countries was so extant, their populations understood explicitly from the outset that every square inch of their country could have a bomb land on it.

Nonetheless I'm pretty sure that Pakistanis and Afghans today are just as aware and understanding of the fact that the group of terrorists who live down the street from them are just as likely to unexpectedly explode as a ball-bearing factory or rail yard would have been 66 years ago in Dresden.

What has actually happened is that people (especially those people who happen to be torn apart by falling ordinance) have come to have unrealistic expectations of war and its destruction. They think that collateral damage is a thing of the past, and that anything but aseptic wars and aseptic results are, in essence, terrorist acts which can be fought in kind. (And most importantly: the possibility for the aggrieved to take action against America exists today in ways and with methods that had not been invented half a century ago.)

But in essence, people now have the false expectation that they can live in peace in a war zone of their countrymen's creation. Obviously that's wrong, but it's not a belief that is going to be changed anytime soon.

Crazy Thought

I was just sitting and thinking, and I thought of the perfect job (in a bizarre, not-really, but wouldn't-it-be-cool way): Truck driver. (Back in the U.S. that is.) The pay ranges from okay to pretty damn good. But, more importantly, driving is one of my favorite things, and Epril could come along and we could watch America go by as we went on down the highway.

I'll have to look up the various Commercial Drivers License requirements, and see what a truck driving job really is about, and then once I have all the answers, talk myself out of the whole ridiculous idea. (I went through a similar process about 9 years ago when I had this crazy idea of becoming a medical transcriptionist and moving to Asia. Heheh.)

By the way, it really was about 9 years ago to this day when I was sitting at home, on a 1-month vacation from Merrill Lynch due to my office being cut off from the rest of the island of Manhattan by the World Trade Center ruin, when I saw this commercial and had that crazy idea:

My first thought was: How can I go there? My second thought was: How can I stay there? I started wandering the internet looking for answers and the rest, as they say, is history. This little commercial probably changed my life more than any single other thing to date.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Now We Know Where Austin Powers Learned It

The Austin Powers movies (part of my top 20 favorites) are obviously filled with dozens, if not hundreds, of movie references, some blatant and others subtle. However, to be honest, most of the movies referred to are so old (and so British) that I never was exposed to them in my youth... or later.

A lot of the references I thought were more of a characteristic nature... an effort to capture the "essence" of the swinging 60s and the "gentleman spy" as gilded by the British genre. But little did I know that one of the more memorable scenes (Austin Powers photographing models: "No! No! Yes! Yes! Work it! Work it Baby!") from Mike Myers' spy series was an almost-faithful ode to the movie "Blow Up."

A summary:
The movie was controversial as one of the first British films to feature full frontal female nudity. The MPAA Production Code in the United States banned the movie, but its wide distribution by MGM through a subsidiary in the US, and its grossing $20 million on a $1.8 million budget encouraged the studios, undermined the MPAA Production Codes, and greatly contributed to the Code’s demise. Blow-Up made Veruschka an international star, although her name was misspelt in the credits and she appeared on screen for five minutes. She would go on to earn as much as $10,000 a day.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Sexy Green Jaguar Powered By Jet Turbines

I've always said that if people are going to start buying electric hybrid vehicles at any reasonably effective levels, the industry had to (A) have more options/models, (B) demonstrate nicer examples / better "wow" factor, and (C) provide far superior ease of use/convenience/economy than conventional vehicles.

Well, here is B... brought to you by thinking that is way outside the box. This ain't your father's Prius. This is the new Jaguar hybrid supercar. It pretty much matches a Lamborghini or Ferrari in every distinction (price... $300K, top speed... 205 mph, handling, fit and finish, et cetera) but can go 68 miles purely on its 4 electric engines, or 560 miles on just 16 gallons of gas (that's 35 mpg... not earth-shattering by common vehicle standards, but is a platform that nearly triples the fuel efficiency of it's nearest 200-mph competitor).

And the engines? Two tiny jet turbine engines. That's just sick. The two engines generate 140,000 watts (or about 100 times more than my home generator in total) that recharge the batteries (which give the car some great acceleration), or help push the car to incredible speeds when needed.

See, jet engines are more fuel efficient than internal combustion engines (those two little jets could light up a good portion of Upper Jasaan for 6 hours using the same amount of gasoline that my generator uses to light up just my one house for the same time), and are also much lighter (because jets have a fraction as many parts as a regular internal combustion engine), and are more durable (because jets don't need radiators or oil lubrication). But jets don't have much in the way of torque — in other words, acceleration — however spinning generators at 80,000 rpm, you can bet those jets will charge the hell out of a battery (which provides fantastic torque). Another nice thing: A jet turbine will run on a wide range of flammable liquids or gasses... not just gasoline.

Like I said, this is the kind of green technology the world needs to see.

p.s. Just as a thought, Jaguar really should have found a way to double the fuel capacity of the car to 30 gallons or so. I imagine that being the first supercar with a 1,000-mile range would be a hell of a marketing gimmick (not that it needs it, natch).

Hat tip to Stan.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Good Lord Byron

There is a rather amusing thread weaving over at the Expats In Cagayan De Oro Yahoo Group concerning the ongoing picaresque story of one Byron White.

Byron came onto that Yahoo Group several months ago and (although I don't remember the exact details) basically told everyone that he was going to chuck away his life in America, sell everything, buy a plane ticket to The Philippines (where I suspect he had never been), move in with some girl (whom it is certain he had never met in person), and get a job (being a "preacher" and opening a taco stand were both mentioned) to support himself.

He then started to ask the most expat-entry-level questions of the group that it made its members first suspect that the whole thing was an Andy-Kaufman-style prank, and then later made them suspect that Byron wasn't fully put together, and finally made them just suspect that the man had the world's worst judgment.

Nonetheless, the Yahoo Group did their best to offer Byron advice... mostly admonishments of "look before leaping", "think long and hard", "don't count your chickens", and other such pragmatic maxims. But ill-prepared, ignorant, unemployed... yet hidebound and selfsure, Byron was cutting and running to The Philippines, and nothing was going to stop him.

I didn't hear any more about Byron after that, and thought that he had actually put some thought into things and deferred his plans. But Byron apparently did exactly what he promised, came to Cagayan De Oro, and proceeded to come a cropper in the span of a single month in what has to be the most spectacular self-inflicted expatriate train wreck in history. And, now in his farewell self-immolation (and yard sale) on the Yahoo Group, he is lobbing sad little fireballs at the expatriate community in Cagayan De Oro ("a retirement home for Americans"), their get-togethers ("a retirement home at lunch time"), and the expatriates in general ("living in their own isolated worlds"), essentially blaming their relaxed-and-retired status as the reason he was unable to connect with any "businessmen" in order to get his foot in the door to gainful employment. The expatriates are lobbing back with much-more-accurate insults to Byron's judgment, intelligence, and attitude.

Oh well, it's all amusing and it's all good and it's all worthwhile (as long as you aren't Byron)... and the Yahoo Group's archives will remain as an educational bildungsroman of Cagayan De Oro's most famous scapegrace: Good Lord Byron and his Fabulous Misadventure in The Philippines.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Here's A Good Idea

Now you know exactly where all your tax money goes:

Daily Report: Totally Made Of Suck

My 6,000 piso external hard drive broke, taking with it all my movies, television programs, and photo archive. I figure it was because I dropped it last night... but only a distance about 24 inches. I had it sitting on the keyboard of the laptop and then it slid off from the chair I was on.

The annoying part is that the hard drive continued to work for 2 more hours of watching video before I went to bed, and then was recognized by my PlayTime machine this evening (momentarily) when I plugged it in before going tits up.

Well, as you all know: If I own it, it's going to break sooner rather than later. This is just another good example of that in action.

I'm going to drop it off with computer engineer Rommel in town this weekend, and see if there is any hope. Probably not. (And no: I can't take it back to Thailand for a refund.)