Saturday, December 31, 2016

Closing Out 2016 in Sibulan

As I write this, 2017 is less than 12 hours away here in Philippines. With the last day of the year, it's appropriate to look back on what I've done - or not done - in 2016.

Regarding this blog, this post will be number 373 for the year. That is a record for me. It is the first time, since I started this blog in 2006, that I've averaged more than one post per day. Of course, this being a leap year, 366 would have been enough, but I've managed to post a few more than that. The most posts in a prior year has been 354 in 2008 (the first time HRC ran for POTUS). The 373 this year tripled the output of 2015.

In another Internet related project, the photos I've uploaded to Google Maps have, as of this writing, nearly 600,000 views.

I'm still maintaining a good exercise schedule. This time last year, I was working out at a local gym four days a week - since that time, I've purchased dumbbells and no longer need the gym membership. I'm still doing a morning walk six days a week, but for the past few weeks, I've been joined by my neighbor.

According to my post from January 1st (2016), I managed to read 37 books in 2015. As of today, I've read 36 books in 2016 and it's unlikely that I'll finish  reading number 37 before the day (and the year) is out. I'll have more on the 2016 Book List tomorrow.

As for 2017, I hope we can move into the new house without too much more delay. Within a few months, I can finally begin breeding our two female pigs. A side business selling lechon baboy would be a good way to pick up a bit of the elusive spondulicks.

One area where I have failed in 2016 is in my writing. I've been promising myself that I'd do better writing fiction, but I haven't done what I've wanted to do. I've told myself that the problem revolves around my not having a proper office. That's really not a valid excuse. I hope to do better in 2017, but I won't make it a resolution........I'm bound to fail if I do that.

A Bird Update

Nine days ago, when I first encountered the black bird in these photos, I made some guesses regarding this bird, which have, I believe, turned out to be incorrect.

Firstly, I did not know if this type of crow was native to Philippiness - according to one website, there is a large billed crow common to the Philippines.

I had assumed that, because was stationary in the earlier photos, it must be tied up in some way. I may have been wrong about that. On our morning walk today, my neighbor and I made a detour down the road where we had seen the crow nine days before. Today, it was perched across the path from its previous location. Where before, it was perched upon a bamboo rod; today, it was sitting upon the top of a parked pedicab.

I'm still assuming that the bird is someones pet, although its leg doesn't appear to be tied.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Elizabeth von Arnim - Continued

As I mentioned in Wednesday's post, after reading four books written by E.Phillips Oppenheim, I downloaded, and began reading Vera by Elizabeth von Arnim.

The wikipedia article on the novel does a good job describing the work-
"Vera by Elizabeth von Arnim is a black comedy based on her disastrous second marriage to Earl Russell: a mordant analysis of the romantic delusions through which wives acquiesce in husbands' tyrannies. In outline the story of this utterly unromantic novel anticipates DuMaurier's Rebecca. Naive Lucy Entwhistle is swept into marriage by widower, Everard Wemyss. His mansion 'The Willows' is pervaded by the spectre of his dead wife Vera, with whom Lucy becomes obsessed. ... Here the servants are partisan for both wives, and lose no opportunity to disrupt Everard's unctuous, oppressive household routines. An extraordinarily black vision of marriage, also continuously funny, the novel's power lies in the wit and economy of the usually prolix Von Arnim."

Although there are funny parts in the novel, I'd say "continuously funny" is a bit over board. Never the less, Vera may very well be the best novel I've read in 2016. If not the best, it would certainly rank in the top five.

Immediately following Vera I downloaded and began reading von Arnim's first novel, Elizabeth and Her German Garden. The tone of this first novel is lighter than von Arnim's later work, but is wonderful because of that lightness.

There are only two days remaining in 2016. I do not know if I'll finish Elizabeth and Her German Garden before 2017 arrives. This will be either my last book read in 2016 or the first of 2017. Either way, I'll be reading more of Arnim's works next year.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Elizabeth von Arnim

When I finished reading E. Phillips Oppenheim's first two novels, I began reading his memoir, The Pool of Memory, and what is considered his most successful novel, The Great Impersonation. In many ways, that novel might be a redo of his first novel, Expiation.

Oppenheim is quite the name dropper in his memoir; some of the names I recognize, some I don't. One writer that Oppenheim mentions frequently is Elizabeth von Arnim, who he refers to as Countess Elizabeth Russell.

After finishing my 4th Oppenheim book, I began reading Arnim's "most critically acclaimed work", Vera a "black comedy based on her disastrous second marriage to Earl Russell: a mordant analysis of the romantic delusions through which wives acquiesce in husbands' tyrannies".

Oddly enough, the main male character in Vera is named Everard, which is also the name of the leading male charter in Oppenheim's The Great Impersonation. Coincidence? Who knows?

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Black and Green Beetle

Driving into Dumaguete this morning, we came upon this black and green Beetle parked along Hibbard Ave. near Silliman university. Like the non-Beetle I saw earlier this morning, it happened quickly. I wasn't able to get a proper photo as we approached, but thankfully, the Beetle was still parked in the same location when we returned home.

It Isn't a Beetle........

........but it is a Volkswagen.

Alas, it is also not a very good photo. I was on my morning walk today, when I saw this vehicle approaching. Of course, I did have my camera, but the shot was so unexpected that I accidentally hit the video button. The result is a rather short, crappy looking video. Never the less, the video will make its way to this blog because, while it may not be a Beetle, it is a VW.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Christmas Photos

Something to think about this Christmas day. These are not photos of sheds built for Nativity scenes. These are photos of houses where people live.

Merry Christmas.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

More Birds

OK, I've admitted that I'm no ornithologist. I had to search the web to learn that this is called a Yellow-bellied sunbird, and even after looking on the Internet, I regret to say that I don't know if the white bird in this post is a little egret or a Chinese egret.

I am pretty confident that these birds, feeding outside the feed-supply store, are pigeons. Right?

Friday, December 23, 2016

Rusty VW Beetle

This morning, while on our daily walk, my friend and I decided to detour from the beaten path and walk down behind Cangmating elementary school. Much to my surprise, we came upon an old Volkswagen Beetle in a gated area. Naturally, I could not resist taken a photo for my collection of VW blog posts.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Article Asks, "Is Donald Trump Mentally Ill?"

According to the Huffing and Puffington Post, 3 Professors Of Psychiatry Ask President Obama To Conduct ‘A Full Medical And Neuropsychiatric Evaluation’ of Donal Trump.

The three "experts" - Judith Herman, M.D.Professor of Psychiatry Harvard Medical School, Nanette Gartrell, M.D.Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry University of California, San Francisco and Dee Mosbacher, M.D., Ph.D.Assistant Clinical Professor Department of Community Health Systems University of California - wrote a letter to POTUS, Obama stating that, although professional standards do not permit them to "venture a diagnosis for a public figure whom we have not evaluated personally", they never the less believe that Trump displays symptoms of “Narcissistic Personality Disorder” (NPD).

As early as January of 2016, I noted that I believed Trump to be a narcissist, but in that post - as well as one written in September, I opined that America's love for Trump was in many ways similiar to its earlier love for Obama. I felt then that America could very easily replace one narcissistic sociopath for another. The results of the 2016 POTUS election appear to have proven me right.

In the Huffington Post article linked to above, 9 criteria for NPD are listed. The article goes on to claim that if an individual has 5 out of the 9 they have a confirmed diagnosis of this illness. Many of the criteria which is supposed to fit Trump fit Obama as well.

The thing that I find especially amazing about this letter from the psychiatric experts is there call for Obama have trump undergo tests. Under what authority do they imagine Obama could order an incoming POTUS to undergo any tests what-so-ever? Do these people actually believe that Obama can demand that these tests be given?

Schemes such as this may have been used in the old Soviet Union - using psychiatry to quiet political opponents - but it won't work in the current U.S. of A., no matter how much progressives may want this to happen.

More Bird Encounters

Photos of my Yellow-bellied Sunbird has inspired me to post photos of other birds I see while I'm out and about.

The photos I'm posting today were taken this morning while on a walk with my neighbor. We took a detour off the paved road that runs from Barangay Maslog - through Barangay Cangmating toward Barangay Poblacion in Sibulan. The detour is 99% unpaved. It was the recommended alternate route from parts of Cangmating to Poblacion when the bridge near the ice plant was being repaired earlier in the year.

The black bird in the photo looks to be in the genus Corvus - some sort of crow or raven. It was tied at one leg and is obviously a pet. I don't know if this bird is native to the area.

The white bird is, obviously wild. Not being an ornithologist, I can't say if this is a crane, heron or egret or another of the more than 600 species of birds that make their way to the islands.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Another Blue Beetle and Other Assorted Stuff

While out for a walk this morning with my neighbor, we came upon a high dollar house where a blue Volkswagen was parked in the compound. The owner of the house (and car) called down to us from the balcony and our walk immediately turned into more of a social event and less of an exercise routine.

The owner of the house is a retired Filipino; he is a collector, of sorts, and he was eager to show us around his home.

In addition to the assorted cars, boats and mechanical contraptions, the home owner has a Rottweiler and a rather large snake. As an aside, I believe he told my companion that the snake was a python - but, it looks more like a boa constrictor to yours truly.

Friday, December 16, 2016

My Yellow-bellied Sunbird

The yellow breasted bird in these photos has been a minor nuisance to me for several weeks. At first, I would notice bird feces on the car door without knowing exactly how or why it was happening. I then discovered that this particular bird had become fascinated by it's reflection in the car's driver-side mirror. Obviously, the bird believed its reflection to be another bird of the same species in its territory. I've since learned that the bird is a Yellow-bellied Sunbird  - AKA  Olive-backed Sunbird - and probably female. In Philippines, it's known as "tamsi".

In the beginning, I tried covering the mirror with a rag to prevent the bird from seeing its reflection. That worked for a short time - until the bird noticed itself in the car window. Rolling down the window, and covering the mirror kept the bird away, but fear of storms prevents me from keeping the car window down all the time.

I wanted to write about my experience with this Yellow-bellied Sunbird sooner, but I thought a blog post without a photo of the bird wouldn't do. I was finally able to get photos of the bird this morning. Naturally, I couldn't get too close. Getting out my tripod allowed me to zoom in without shaking the camera too much. Still, it took 30 shots to get the 8 photos used here.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Four Frogs

After going to the property in Magatas this afternoon and discovering four trapped frogs in the hole dug for a corner post, I decided to update the blog posts pertaining to my previous photos of the amphibians and create a new label - frogs -.


I came upon this, not far from our apartment as I was headed home.

Maayong Pasko Sibulan

In a post from Tuesday, [Merry Christmas from Sibulan] I posted a photo of the Sibulan Municipal Hall and remarked that, had a similar government agency in the U.S. decorated a government building with Christmas decorations, there would be severe weeping and gnashing of teeth by some who fear an endorsement of religion by the powers that be.

In that photo, the Nativity scene was devoid of people. In the photo taken this morning, we can see Mary, Joseph, a couple of shepards and a few sheep. There is, of course, no baby Jesus in the manger, as Christmas day has not arrived.

In the photo below, we see a sign announcing that the Municipal Government of Sibulan will present Christmas 2016 Switch on Ceremony. OMG.....a sign connecting a government agency with a Christian Holy day in a positive way.

Heads in the U.S.A. are exploding.

East Meets West

Budbud with peanut butter.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

After Yesterday's Rain - Part Two

In addition to the work on the foundation of the house, there is more to report following yesterday's rain. The yellow squash, which I wrote about close to two weeks ago, seems to be doing ok, although there's no sign of blossoms, as yet. I'm still looking forward to squash casserole.

While I was at the property Tuesday, I looked into the hole where I had seen a trapped frog the Saturday before. I did not see a frog yesterday, but there were two frogs in the hole this afternoon. It's possible that I could have missed one Tuesday......I didn't photograph an empty hole.

After Yesterday's Rain

After yesterday's rain delay, work was resumed on the foundation of the house. My wife and I drove out to the property after lunch this afternoon to see how the work was coming along.

Yesterday's heavy downpour necessitated a do-over on portions of the work done prior to the rain. This morning, the rainwater was removed, along with mud that had fallen into the trench. When we arrived, the men were ready to lay more blocks.

There are five workers on the current project. One man mixing cement, and one man toting buckets of concrete to the three masons inside the trench. They should be able to get quite a lot finished today - if the rain stays away.