Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Refrigerator Repair Update

Our refrigerator had been down for five days when I published the first post on our wait for the repairmen. As promised, the repairmen arrived the morning of May 24. They were able to diagnose the problem. A part would have to be ordered, of course. We could expect the part to arrive in 4 or 5 days.

The repairman said the part had fried (my word) due to fluctuations in the electrical power supply. He recommended that, while waiting on the part, we should purchase an automatic voltage regulator (AVR) to prevent future fluctuations. He gave us the names of two electrical supply companies in Dumaguete where the AVR could be purchased. We drove to both stores in order to check the prices. We found one that fit our budget - the price difference on the same AVR (Sassin 1500VA) at the two stores was over 500 pesos.

Naturally, we choose the cheaper one - at 2,800 pesos. The attendant at the store where we had decided to purchase the AVR told us that the one we had chosen was made in China and we really should buy the more reliable 6,000 peso AVR.

I was born at night.....but it wasn't last night. We went home with the 2,800 peso AVR.

A phone call to the repair shop yesterday verified that the part had arrived Saturday afternoon after Monday's repair schedule had been made, so it would be today before the repairmen could come here. The men have been here and gone. The part has been replaced, the refrigerator connected to the AVR.

Fortunately, the part and labor was covered under the warranty. We're out the money for the AVR, but you can put that down to the unreliability of the electrical system here.

Happy Birthday, Barbara Pepper

Today, May 31, 2016 is the 101st anniversary of Barbara Pepper's birth. Pepper was an American stage, television, radio, and film actress and lifelong friend of Lucille Ball.

Lately, I've been watching movies from the 1930's on Youtube. After noticing Pepper in such films as The Rogues Tavern and They Made Me a Criminal, I began looking into her life.

imdb.com described Pepper's signature movie roles as worldly "dames" during Hollywood's 1930s and 1940s Golden Era.

In 1949, after her husband died tragically in a motorcycle accident, severe depression and a debilitating alcohol problem overwhelmed Pepper. Her acting jobs became few and far between and she was forced to take on jobs as a laundress and waitress to support her two children.

Fortunately, through her friendship with Lucille Ball, Jack Benny, George Burns and Gracie Allen, she was able to find work on T.V..

If  Barbara Pepper is remembered at all today, it is for her role as the original "Doris Ziffel" on the T.V. sitcom Green Acres.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Video: Watching the Traffic Go By in Dumaguete

Last month, I published a post on what it's like to drive in Dumaguete. Today, while waiting in the car while my wife was on an errand, I videoed the traffic as it passed by.

What one sees in this two minutes is a relatively tame example. The traffic wasn't so heavy, so the driving wasn't horrible.

There are, of course, cars, buses, large trucks and small trucks. There are tricycles making u-turns, motorcyclists carrying umbrellas; some folks in shorts and others wearing hoodie jackets.

Maybe next time, I'll video the joys of driving near the downtown market during lunch. That will give an example of Dumaguete traffic at it's worse.

May 30 Bridge Update

The end is in sight for the bridge replacement project. My last update was last Saturday morning at 7:35. Further work was done that afternoon.

The concrete/stone wall for the water pipe was finished and a rail was put up on the opposite side of the bridge.

I was told that the bridge must be finished before June 13th. That will be the festival for Sibulan's patron saint, St. Anthony of Padua. The festival is a very important event in the town and not having the bridge ready before the festival will be it extremely difficult for folks to travel into Sibulan. Not having the bridge work completed by that time will be a severe economic hardship on the town and the people living here.

As far as I can see, there needs to be a rail put up on the side where the water pipe was laid, and the bridge needs to be connected to the street. I'm not sure exactly how they plan to do that, but whatever concrete that's poured there will, of course, need to cure before vehicles can safely drive across. June 13 is just two weeks away.

Surely, the work can be finished in that amount of time. I'll keep my fingers crossed.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Tarbush Restaurant Dumaguete

Depending on the time of day that I'm driving into Dumaguete, if I believe the traffic might be too heavy going via North Rd/Real street, I'll take a left on E. Rovira Dr to Hibbard Ave into the city. One morning while taking this alternate route, I saw an eatery on the right, at the corner of Hibbard Ave and E.J.Blanco Dr., called Tarbush, claiming to be home of the original shawarma. I promised myself I would return one day to give them a try.

So, today after Mass (and after going to Lee Plaza to replace a broken mirror) we made our way to Tarbush.

I've had shawarmas prepared in three different eateries in Dumaguete and I must say the ones at Tarbush are the best I've tried so far. Personally, I prefer the chicken to the beef. Tarbush is also a bit more generous with the vegetables they put in the shawarma. Their shawarma cost a little more but you get what you pay for.

On the down side, we ordered multiple items and they did not arrive at the same time. Unfortunately, that's pretty much standard for Philippines. The same is true of every restaurant we've ever been to here.

May 29 Gardening Update

In a post published last Friday [The Piggery: Day Three] I explained that the piggery would be delayed for about three weeks and how, after the completion of the septic tank, there wouldn't be another blog post on the piggery until then. I'm not exactly contradicting that, I'm merely posting a photo of the tank after it was completed. The men working on the tank ran out of cement - the area where there is only gravel now, will be covered in concrete as well.

The blocks outline the area of the future piggery. It will be built directly over the tank - extending a little bit further than the tank. The piggery, when completed, will be divided into two sections with a concrete block wall running through the middle.

The photos taken of the fence show several mounds where my wife's papa will plant cucumber. I believe he has quite a few seedlings almost ready for transplanting into the ground.

As I mentioned in an earlier post on gardening, I'm trying to germinate a variety of sweet pepper seeds. I had begun trying to germinate zucchini seeds - it's been long enough that I should be seeing results, but it looks as if the zucchini won't be sprouting.

Monday, I'll go to the property and begin moving the dirt that has piled up from the septic tank project. I'll use that soil to try and plant either cantaloupe or watermelon.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

May 28 Bridge Update

It's been one week since my last post covering the bridge repair work being done between our apartment and the Poblacion Brgy. in Sibulan. This project has been going on for a little over two months and hopefully the end is in sight.

As seen in these photos (taken this morning) there has been two concrete/stone walls built on the northern side of the bridge.

On the southern side of the bridge, a more permanent pipe connection has been put together. Hopefully, this set up will prevent a disruption in the water supply for homes on our side of the bridge like the one we experienced three weeks ago.

For those who'd like to compare different stages in the bridge repair story, I've gone back over older posts and added an additional label - bridge.

Friday, May 27, 2016

The Piggery: Day Three

A few unexpected expenses, unrelated to the property have put a dent into the budget for the piggery. So, when the septic tank for the piggery is completed Saturday, we will delay the building of the piggery for about 3 weeks.

Things have to be done in stages.

The photos show the progress done Thursday and Friday. The only thing lacking with the tank is the final bit of concrete to be laid on top. Of course when the top layer is complete and the concrete dries, the wooden frame will be removed.

Because of the delay, there won't be any posts on the piggery until work resumes. Until then, any posts regarding the property will more than likely deal with my attempts at gardening.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

The Piggery: Day Two

As mentioned in a post from Wednesday, work on the septic tank for the piggery was begun Tuesday morning.

The digging for the tank is now finished and they've begun laying the concrete blocks.

The first photo of this post was taken Tuesday morning.

The 2nd photo was taken Wednesday morning and the final three were taken Wednesday afternoon about 3 PM. I believe they worked another 2 hours after that.

I want to take note again that this hole was dug by hand using shovels......no powered tools or back hoe were used.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016


I've been attempting to grow vegetables here in Sibulan since August, 2014. Let me be clear, that's more than 1 1/2 years, but there was a bit of a lull during most of that time.

In was in August of that year that I first tried to germinate bell pepper and tomato seeds. As I reported at that time, that attempt was unsuccessful.

Around that same time period, I had gone out to a field in Tubtubon and collected a sack load of carabao manure. I had cleared out a section at the side of the in-law's house as a location for a garden plot. I had some success germinating cantalope seeds and had transplanted the plants to the plot. Half of those cantalope plants were destroyed by some sort of insect, while the other half were killed by an over abundance of rain.

When we moved into the apartment, that put a temporary halt on the gardening plans. It was only recently, when we began working on our property that I decided to try gardening once more. It was in March of this year that I tried to germinate tomato seeds again. Unfortunately, none sprouted. Neither did the okra seeds that I attempted to germinate in April.

The only seeds with which I had any success are  butternut squash seeds (AKA calabaza) which were ultimately destroyed by by workers delivering concrete blocks to the property.

I wasn't about to call it quits yet. I prepared an area on the property far away from the piggery. This morning, I went back out to the property and put out my squash plants. I'm optimistic that these plants will be a success.

It's been nine or ten days since I began my try at germinating an heirloom variety of zucchini. So far, none have sprouted. This surprises me. Obviously, butternut squash and zucchini squash aren't the same plant, but the two are close enough that I was sure that if one germinated easily, then so should the other.

With the success of the calabaza, I'm ready to germinate other seeds. The next project will be an germinating a variety of sweet peppers.

As a final aside: I was afraid that the recent rains would have washed away the manure I had collected. As one can see in the photo, that's not a problem.

The Piggery: Day One

Due to the rain Monday, no work was done at the property in Magatas. I arrived at the lot Tuesday morning and found my wife's papa and his helper digging the hole for the piggery septic tank.

I didn't take an exact measurement, but the hole appears to be about 1 meter wide by 2 meters long. I'm told they'll dig 2 meters deep. Four cubic meters of dirt will be removed. This is being done by hand, using shovels and a metal rod that's flattened on one end.

I spent part of the afternoon transferring the dirt by bucket to the area where I'll set out the butternut squash plants. After hauling the dirt, I spread pulverized carabao manure over the mound. I'll put out the squash plants late Wednesday afternoon just before the sun sets.

There's another good size hole where a 2nd coconut tree had been cut down and stump removed. I'll start filling in that hole Wednesday morning, but I won't be planting anything there.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Clinton or Trump: A Fecal Sandwich

Somewhere in a difficult to access region of my mind, there is a vague recollection that I may have, at one time agreed with something Kathleen Parker wrote. I feel as if there must have been one occasion, but I can't remember when or what the subject might have been.

There's no question now that I find little to agree with in her piece, A nose-holding word to the disaffected: Vote.

When it comes to the three remaining Presidential candidates, I am one of those Americans that Parker refers to as "stranded in a political no-man’s land".

I do agree that this year's election for POTUS is the ultimate "nose-holding while voting" situation. However, unlike Parker, I will no longer engage in that exercise in futility. She admits that no sane person could support either Bernie Sanders or Donald Trump, and she knows that Hillary Clinton is an unprincipled, corrupt liar, yet she maintains that Clinton is the "one candidate for whom this middle bloc of voters could reasonably stomach voting."

Sorry, Ms Parker, but no.

In 2008, my top choice for POTUS was the Libertarian candidate, Bob Barr, but when Barack Obama became the Democrat candidate I wrongly believed that I should not "throw my vote away", and I made the horrible mistake of voting for John McCain and Sarah Palin. I will never vote that way again.

I will no longer vote for the lesser of two evils. I will no longer vote for one candidate because I hate him or her slightly less than the opponent.

Many Trump supporters maintain that a no-show is a vote for Hillary. The Clinton campaign will say a no-show is a vote for Trump. It can't be both ways. I cannot support either Clinton or Trump......the U.S. will continue it's dumpster-dive whoever wins. Neither candidate will receive my vote.

Waiting for the Repairman

Waiting for a repairman in Philippines is very much like waiting for the Filipino repairman's American counterpart in the U.S.. In both cases, it's not unlike waiting for Godot.

Last Thursday our refrigerator, if I may use a technical term, went on the blink. When I opened the refrigerator that morning and found the light not working, I assumed it was simply a defective light bulb. Later, when I discovered that ice had begun melting in the freezer compartment, I realized that the problem was more than a blown bulb.

Fortunately, the refrigerator is still under warranty. We had business in Dumaguete that morning, so we stopped by the appliance store where we had purchased the unit. Unfortunately, we were told that the repair work could not be done until Monday. Monday came around but the repairman did not.

My wife made a phone call to the appliance store to find out the reason, and around 3:00 PM, I received a phone call from the company that will be doing the repair work. As near as I can determine, there had been a mix up concerning the name of the customer who was to receive the repair. For reasons that I can't really explain, the company had tried to make the appointment with my wife's sister. There was some confusion as to where the repairman was to go.

As I write this, the repairman is scheduled to come to our apartment between 8:30 and 9:00 AM on Tuesday. (It's Monday afternoon as I write this, although I won't actually post this until Tuesday morning).

Note: I am posting this two hours before the repairman is scheduled to arrive. We'll see.

Obama to Visit Hiroshima

Last week, I made what should have been an obvious observation; that is, you can't blame Obama or Trump for everything wrong with the world. In a post from May 16, I noted that a few of Obama's opponents had blamed the POTUS for apologizing for the U.S.'s WWII bombing of Hiroshima, during a Presidential visit that hadn't actually happened yet.

I'm reminded of this by a report of Obama giving an exclusive interview to NHK(Nippon Hōsō Kyōkai - Japan Broadcasting Corporation) in advance of his scheduled arrival in Japan. Again, according to the taped interview, Obama will travel to Hiroshima on Friday and said he did not intend to offer an apology in his message to survivors of the atomic bombing.

If, after the visit, we learn that Obama does apologize for the bombing of Hiroshima then, by all means, criticize the POTUS to your heart's content. But, please, don't lie about an event before the event even takes place.

Monday, May 23, 2016

The Rain. Day Two

As I mentioned yesterday, we have finally gotten rain in Negros Oriental. The 10 day forecast calls for some rain every day for the rest of the month. Today is the 2nd day of that forecast and it's accurate so far. With rain two days in a row, can we officially say the rainy season has returned?

I had banking business in Dumaguete this AM and it began to rain on the drive home. We've needed the rain and I'm happy to see it, although the woman who does our laundry may not be too pleased. One can't hang clothes outside when there's a shower.

We had originally planned for my wife's papa and his helper to build the piggery this week. It's estimated to take at least six days to complete the job. I'm sure that the return of the rain will affect that schedule, but there shouldn't be too much problem in ordering the rest of the materials needed for the project. In the spot where I've planned to plant a few vegetables, there is a hole in the ground caused by the removal of the coconut tree stump. There's to be some digging for the piggery and piggery septic tank. My plan is to take soil from there to fill the hole. Should the rain slow the work on the piggery, it will slow my gardening project as well.

I'm not complaining, mind you. We're in desperate need of rain, and I can adjust my schedule when we do get the rain.

Welcome to the Future

Folks roaming about the Poblacion (downtown) area of Sibulan, who would otherwise have to walk from point A to point B, heretofore had two transportation options.

Option one (as seen in the above photo) is the motorcycle powered tricycle. Before buying our car, I had made use of this form of transportation when either going to the highway to catch an easy-ride to Dumaguete, or taking the tricycle directly to the city.

The 2nd option available is the bicycle/human powered pot pot.

Obviously, the pot pot is used by people wanting to go relatively short distances. I'm almost ashamed to say that, not long after we first arrived in Sibulan and were staying at the in-law's house, we did take a pot pot going to church. I felt guilty having someone carry me about this way.

Now, there is a third option for those moving about in Sibulan. It is a battery powered, electrical vehicle.

Sorry, I don't know the local term for this vehicle.

These vehicles arrived in Sibulan after we had purchased a car, and after I had begun walking regularly; I've never had the need to ride in one. Had the vehicles been here when we first arrived, riding in one would have eliminated the guilt I associate with paying a man to take me hither and yon, by pedaling a bicycle.

Needless to say, these electrical pedicabs improve the air quality - no choking exhaust fumes like those from internal combustion engines. I wonder though, if the electrical powered vehicles help "global warming" or climate change. Producing electricity does affect the environment. Further complicating the question is the fact that electricity on this island is produced geothermally.

Also, I can't speak to the economic issues surrounding the electrical vehicles. I don't know the price of the pedicab; I don't even know the priced charged to ride in one. I do know that, in spite of the fact that the there are no fossil fuel costs associated with producing electricity here, the price of electricity is very high. Does the driver save money recharging the battery (how many times a day?) versus the cost of putting gasoline in a motorcycle?

I have lots of questions, but few answers.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Finally, Rain.

At around 1:00 AM, I was awoken by the sound of rain. Glorious, wonderful, sweet rain.

My wife, who was also awake, remarked that it sounded like a very heavy rain. From the sound, the storm wasn't typhoon strength, but it sounded a little scary, none the less. I got out of bed, went into the living room and opened the front door to have a look.

The rain was steady, but relatively light or moderate; not nearly as heavy as it sounded from our bedroom. Perhaps, with the metal roof, the sound was the audio equivalent of an optical illusion. We need rain; we haven't had a good, steady rain in a very long time. I'm thankful for the rain, but I'm also thankful that it wasn't as heavy as it sounded.

If the forecast, as shown it the screen shot above can be believed, we can expect increased rainfall over the next 10 days. Let's hope so.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

I've Got My 5h!t Together

I mentioned earlier that my project for today was to begin preparing a spot for the squash plants. This included digging up the ground and pulling out weeds. It also involved my taking a shovel and bucket to a field to gather carabao manure.

As can be seen in the photo above, I've got my 5h!t together.

Yard Work

Our property in Magatas was originally two lots. The lot on the east was inherited from a grandparent - the adjoining lot on the west was purchased by us from a neighbor. With the moving of the old fence, and the construction of the new fence, the two sections are now one.

Papa and his helper returned this morning for the final touches on the fence, and to cut down the tall grass which has grown up where the two lots were originally divided. The grass will be fed to Papa's goat.

Joining them were my son, my wife, our domestic helper and myself. I spent my time digging in the area where I will eventually plant the squash. I also carried my bucket and shovel to gather carabao manure.

My wife and her helper worked to clear out the old eastern lot. This is where the piggery will be built.

We worked for about four hours; we left Papa and his helper there to finish up the work they need to do today.