Sunday, December 31, 2017

Celebrated Crimes

When I wrote yesterday's post, I thought that there might be a possibility that I'd finish reading volume one of Alexandre Dumas' Celebrated Crimes before the year's end. I see now that that won't happen.

The last book read in 2017 will be The Age of Innocence, by Edith Wharton.

Volume one of Celebrated Crimes contains two essays - The Borgias and The Cenci. It was the story of Beatrice Cenci which brought me to this collection. The Borgias contains so much historical information that I'm not certain that putting that essay into a work on celebrated crimes is entirely appropriate. However, because the tale of the Borgia family takes place during the First Italian War, it fits in perfectly with my recent exploration of the Spanish Conquistadors - quite a few of the soldiers whom fought alongside Cortés had also fought in the Italian Wars.

The main focus of The Borgias revolves around Pope Alexander VI. His story does not speak well for the Catholic Church during the Renaissance. Actually, his story does not speak well for humanity.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

2017 Winding Down

2017 is almost at an end and I will be posting my list of books read this year in a few days. The last three books read were written by Edith Wharton; a collection of short stories - The Hermit and The Wild Woman - and two novels - The House of Mirth and The Age of Innocence. I've enjoyed Wharton's work, but I doubt that she will surpass Elizabeth von Arnim as my favorite.

Although there are two days left in this year, it doesn't appear likely that I will finish the book I am reading currently, Celebrated Crimes by Alexandre Dumas (pere). There are eight volumes in the complete work, but it's possible that I may finish volume one before year's end.

I became interested in Dumas' Celebrated Crimes when I learned of the story of Beatrice Cenci. Her story is included in volume one of Dumas' book.

I've downloaded 16 ebooks from Project Gutenberg to start off 2018. These sixteen, plus the Dumas' collection should keep me occupied for quite some time.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Beetle Number 40.

Every Wednesday morning, I meet with a small group of fellow expatriate, old fart Americans for breakfast at a local eatery in Dumaguete. We have habitually met at a different place every week, but we may have settled on the Gabby's Bistro on Rizal Boulevard as the regular go-to location. I don't seem to be as particular in the location as some of the others. I'm more likely to have just coffee and ice water sans breakfast and most of the places we've been to can manage coffee.

The guys are likeable enough, but from the conversations, I seem to be the only one in the group that prefers Philippines to the U.S..

This morning, after our bullshit session had ended, I headed home, taking a different route down Aldecoa Drive. Just before reaching Harolds Mansion (Hostel) on the corner of Aldecoa and Hibbard ave., I spotted a Volkswagen Beetle parked behind a fence. Needless to say, I pulled over for photos.

According to my count, this makes #40.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Beatrice Cenci

At nearly the half-way point of Edith Wharton's novel, The House of Mirth, Wharton's makes mention of a "bronze box with a miniature of Beatrice Cenci in the lid".

"After luncheon, when Grace Stepney's prying eyes had been removed, Lily asked for a word with her aunt. The two ladies went upstairs to the sitting-room, where Mrs. Peniston seated herself in her black satin arm-chair tufted with yellow buttons, beside a bead-work table bearing a bronze box with a miniature of Beatrice Cenci in the lid. Lily felt for these objects the same distaste which the prisoner may entertain for the fittings of the court-room. It was here that her aunt received her rare confidences, and the pink-eyed smirk of the turbaned Beatrice was associated in her mind with the gradual fading of the smile from Mrs. Peniston's lips. That lady's dread of a scene gave her an inexorableness which the greatest strength of character could not have produced, since it was independent of all considerations of right or wrong; and knowing this, Lily seldom ventured to assail it. She had never felt less like making the attempt than on the present occasion; but she had sought in vain for any other means of escape from an intolerable situation."

Having never heard of Beatrice Cenci, I immediately searched the name in order to get a sense of why Wharton might make use of this bronze box in her description of Lily's conversation with her aunt.

Wikipedia describes Cenci this way.

"Beatrice Cenci (6 February 1577 – 11 September 1599) was a young Roman noblewoman who murdered her father, Count Francesco Cenci. The subsequent, lurid murder trial in Rome gave rise to an enduring legend about her. She was condemned and beheaded for the crime in 1599."

And according to historical accounts, Francesco Cenci abused his first wife Ersilia Santa Croce and his sons and raped Beatrice multiple times. This abuse eventually led to Beatrice, her siblings, and their stepmother bludgeoning Francesco to death with a hammer and throwing his body off a balcony to make it look like an accident.

The four members of the Cenci family were arrested, tried and convicted of the murder and sentenced to death.

Down through the centuries, Beatrice Cenci's tragic story has had an influence on literature and the arts. Many of the works are either not in English, or are unavailable at Project Gutenberg. However, I was able to download Les Cenci, a short story by Stendhal and The Cenci, an essay by Alexandre Dumas in Volume 1 of Celebrated Crimes.

I haven't yet decided if I'll read those before or after I read Wharton's novel, The Age of Innocence.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Edith Wharton

Having grown tired of reading books concerning the Spanish Conquistadors, I went to a folder in my pc where I stash away ebooks downloaded from project gutenberg which, at the time they were downloaded, I had every intention of reading. Sometimes a particular ebook will be read - sometimes not. Looking through the downloaded ebooks, I came across one by Edith Wharton entitled The Hermit and the Wild Woman and Other Stories.

I had no recollection of when I originally downloaded this ebook, (or why) but now, the title intrigued me, so I sent the mobi to my Kindle.

After reading the first two short stories, I knew I'd want to read more by Wharton. Going back to the computer file, I discovered that I had also downloaded two other novels by Wharton, The Age of Innocence and The House of Mirth. As it turns out, these ebooks have sat unread in my pc since December, 2014. I sent these two to my Kindle as well.

If I enjoy these novels as well as the first short stories I've read, I'll be downloading more by Edith Wharton. Fortunately, project gutenberg has lots for me to choose from. I may have found a writer who I enjoy reading as much as I did Elizabeth von Arnim.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

G.A. Henty and Hernán Cortés

After reading a number of books pertaining to the history of the Spanish Conquistadors and other early explorers of the New World, I decided to end with a fictional, historical novel by G.A. Henty, By Right of Conquest Or, With Cortez in Mexico.

Henty had written more than 120 historical novels, which remained popular even twenty years after his death. Many of these novels fall into the category of juvenile adventure stories and Henty's novels were part of F. Scott Fitzgerald's boyhood reading.

The wikipedia article linked to above states that Henty usually researched his novels by ordering several books on the subject he was writing on from libraries, and consulting them before beginning writing. This appears to have been the case with his fictional work on Cortez. Like historian John S.C. Abbott, Henty appears to have relied on The Memoirs of the Conquistador Bernal Diaz del Castillo, although Henty's version of history doesn't always align with Bernal Diaz del Castillo's eye witness account.

Henty has been criticized for being xenophobic towards non-British people and for his glorification of British imperialism. Indeed, the hero of By Right of Conquest is English, and not Spanish. Henty may have held sympathetic views toward many of the Aztec characters in the novels, but his racists view toward blacks manages to make its way into this work.

Of course, having been written in the very early days of the 20th century, this novel has a happy ending. The hero returns to England with his Aztec wife - a princess, no less - along with a fortune in gold and precious gems, living happily ever after.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Hopefully, No More Moore.

For reasons that I do not understand, I have been receiving emails from Roy Moore's campaign for close to two years. I am not now, nor have I ever been registered to vote in Alabama. I have disliked Moore for years - ever since his attempts to post Ten Commandment monuments on government property.

His emails have been going straight into my spam box since the very beginning.

I would never vote for Moore; the claims that he had tried to have sex with a 14 year old girl when he was in his thirties certainly didn't change my mind.

In spite of the fact that Roy Moore says the 'Battle Is Not Over' in Alabama Senate Race, I'm no longer getting spam emails from his campaign. Thank goodness.

I'm hoping I'll hear no more from Moore.

Amerigo Vespucci

A few months ago, my interests took a turn toward the Spanish Conquistadors and the early explorers of the New World. I've just finished reading Frederick Ober's biography of Amerigo Vespucci, downloaded from Project Gutenberg.

In spite of having two continents named for him, Vespucci isn't well known today and most of what people today think they know about the Italian explorer, financier, navigator and cartographer isn't entirely favorable.

Although many believe Columbus is more entitled to have North and South America named for him rather than Vespucci, the fact that Columbus went to his grave believing he had discovered islands located near Asia and the fact that Vespucci knew he had landed in a New World leads me to think that the current names may be appropriate after all.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Black Beetle in the Dumaguete VW Graveyard.

I've frequently posted photos of automobiles found at the Volkswagen Beetle graveyard located near the Dumaguete airport. The last Beetle photo that I posted on this blog was parked there.

For the past few days, I've seen this black Beetle in the graveyard. Today, I pulled off the side of the road to take a quick photo.

I've looked over the photos of the 38 other VW Beetles found in the Dumaguete area and this one is not amoung the bunch. This one is new to me.

Monday, November 20, 2017

The Left Embraces the Anti-Science Label.

For quite some time, Democrats and other assorted Leftists have attempted to mock Republicans and Conservatives as anti- science. Republicans are seen as anti-science by the Left because of some Republicans views on Climate Change and Evolution/Creationism.

According to an article at, however, that while it's sadly true that half of all Republicans believe the Earth is only 10,000 years old, 34% of Democrats believe the same. Also, according to the same article, twice as many Democrats as Republicans believe in astrology.

Democrats most often reject science when it deals with sexuality; Liberals and Progressives reject the scientific fact that the fetus growing inside a human female during pregnancy is a unique, human being in its own right. Despite having it's own unique DNA showing otherwise, the pro-abortion Left believe this human being is actually a body part of the female; or worse; that the fetus is a parasite growing inside the female host.

While eight-in-ten Republicans and Republican-leaning independents say that whether someone is a man or a woman is determined by the sex they were assigned at birth, most Democrats and Democratic leaning voters (64%) take the opposite view and say a person’s gender can be different from the sex they were assigned at birth. This unscientific belief held by a majority of Democrats is contrary to what scientists know about DNA and the different chromosomal makeup of males and females.

Now, to further show that Democrats make up the anti-science Party, Sara Giordano, assistant professor of the Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies Program at UC Davis, maintains that science is rooted in racism, and has been used to perpetuate racism and colonial practices. Giordano has vowed to "challenge the authority of Science" by "rewriting knowledge" through a feminist lens. She also believes "We need to disrupt the epistemic authority of Science…[and] the assumption that science = truth."

Giordano hopes that people will soon come to "embrace an irreverent disdain for traditional science and instead practice feminist science," adding that this is time for a "much needed anti-science, antiracist, feminist approach to knowledge production."

It appears that science has rejected her views on "gender", and now Giordano wants to reject science.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

P.C. Patrol Enabling the Mentally Ill.

According to the Huffing and Puffington Post, Filipinos Aren’t Happy With This White Woman Claiming To Be Filipina.

In Tampa Florida, someone going by the name Ja Du is self-identifying as a Filipina, despite the fact that he was born a white male. Sadly, the writer of the article, Kimberly Yam insists on referring to "Ja Du" using pronouns such as "she" and "her".

In the video embedded in the article, Ja Du is seen driving around in a "motorized rickshaw" which he claims is called a "tuk tuk". I haven't seen any quite like the one Ja Du is driving in Philippines, but similar vehicles are called "tricycles" or "pedicabs", not "tuk tuk". He'd know that had he ever traveled to Philippines.

An article on the story at quotes a local psychologist, Dr.Stacey Beth Scheckner, who maintains that Ja Du's delusions are perfectly fine and dandy:

"If someone feels that they feel at home with a certain religion, a certain race, a certain culture, I think that if that’s who they really feel inside life is about finding out who you are. The more knowledge you have of yourself, the happier you can be. And, as long as it’s not hurting yourself or anyone else, I don’t see a problem with that.
"If that’s who they are and they want to celebrate it and enjoy it, then you have to think what harm is it doing? All they want to do is throw themselves into that culture and celebrate it.
"I think before we get offended, we need to take a step back and think about what is the harm."

The only thing that offends me about this situation, is that quacks like Scheckner are enabling Ja Du's mental illness.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

New Beetles

Driving past the new City Mall this morning, I spied a Volkswagen Beetle parked across the street from the Mall entrance.

When I saw the car from a distance, I thought it might be the Black and Green that I see quite often driving about the city.  No, this was one I hadn't come across before.

On my way home, I pulled to the side of the road as I neared the VW Grave Yard located near the airport. There was another Beetle parked there that I hadn't seen before.

There were two other Beetles parked behind this new two toned Beetle. The colors of these two are pretty common, and I believe I may have photographed those before.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Current Reading List

While I haven't done just a good job keeping this blog up to date the last few months, I have managed to get a bit of reading done. True, the pace of my reading was higher earlier in the year, but I'm still way ahead of last year.

I'm not at all certain how or why I've taken this route, but I recently became interested in books concerning the Spanish Conquistadors, first reading John S.C. Abbott's book on Hernando Cortez. From there, I've gone on to Bernal Diaz del Castillo's first hand account of his adventures with Cortez (in two volumes) and an audio book of Frederick A. Ober's Francisco Pizarro and the Conquest of Peru. I've downloaded, and will soon begin reading, Ober's book on Balboa.

I've no idea where I'll be heading when I've finished the book on Balboa. I'm not sure if I'll continue reading additional books on the Conquistadors or if I'll take some other path. I suppose I'll wait see where Project Gutenberg takes me.

November Pig Update.

When I last posted something about my pigs, the piglets had just turned 12 weeks old. That post was back in September. Sadly, I've fallen behind in my blog posting, with only four posts in September, one in October and this one being the first posting in November.

We're ready now to sell the remaining pigs - with the exception of the pregnant sow, of course. We're looking to sell the two larger pigs as soon as possible, saving the smaller of the three to sell in December. We have friends who are interested in buying one next month, so that should work out just fine.

The photos posted today were taken this morning when we delivered a supply of feed for the pigs.

As I mentioned before, the sow should be delivering again in early January. I'm hoping that we get more piglets this go - 'round.

Monday, October 9, 2017


About four weeks ago, I came down with a fever that lasted four or five days. I did my best to stay hydrated and took acetaminophen to reduce the fever. Additionally, I developed a respiratory problem. To make matters worse, a rash came up all over my body. I don't know if the rash was a part of the illness or an allergic reaction to the medication I was taking for the respiratory problem.

Anti-histamines helped with the rash.

Needless to say, I haven't been walking or doing a weight program while I was sick. Now after weeks of rest and quite a bit of hot calamansi tea, I'm feeling fine again.

Today, for the first time in weeks, I returned to walking and did a modified weight set.

I haven't been blogging regularly either. I won't put that down to the illness completely. Part of it was due to a bit of laziness. I'm hoping that I'm headed back to normal.

Friday, September 29, 2017


It's been more than a month since I last mentioned in this blog anything that I've been reading. At that time, I had just finished reading In the Mountains by Elizabeth von Arnim and had begun reading her novel, The Enchanted April. As I mentioned I would do at that time, when I completed The Enchanted April, I began to reread two books I had previously read in 2005 - Volumes One and Two of Sister Maria Lúcia of Jesus' memoirs.

Next on my list was a biography of Hernando Cortez written in the early 19th century by historian, John S.C. Abbott. Abbott had made use of The Memoirs of the Conquistador Bernal Diaz del Castillo in writing his book. I had downloaded both volumes of del Castillo's memoirs quite a long time ago and I began reading volume one after finishing Abbott.

While reading del Castillo, I found a LibriVox recording of Francisco Pizarro and the Conquest of Peru by Frederick A.Ober. I've listened to three chapters and have located an ebook copy of the book at Unfortunately, the ebook is a scanned copy of the hardbound copy of the book which doesn't read well on Kindle. If I end up listening to the entire book on LiberVox, I'll consider that the same as having read the book.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

A Few Photos Uploaded to Google+

A little more than one year ago, I began uploading photos onto Google Maps. I've made mention of these photos several times. Recently, I've been uploading additional photos to Google+, particularly to two different "communities" - Photography and Street Photographers.

A few of these photos have been +1'd more than once. Three of the more popular of my photos are a Drummer Boy, Bridge over the Okoy River and a Cyclist.

Further examples, I suppose, of how Google has taken over my spare time.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

The Piglets at 12 Weeks

The photos used in this post were taken last Friday when the piglets turned 12 weeks old.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, we sold one of the piglets to my wife's sister and her husband. It has since been moved from the piggery. The remaining pink piglet has been moved to a pen by herself, while the two spotted piglets put into the second. The larger of the spotted piglets will be the next to go. Once it reaches a marketable size, we'll sell it.

The piglets' mama has been put into the larger pen. According to my wife's papa, the sow was bred on Sept. 16. If successful, she should give birth next Jan. 8.

As an aside, the sow managed to escape from the rope keeping her inside the pen. My wife's papa arrived at the property today to find her roaming around outside the piggery. Fortunately, she was unable to get outside the property fence.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Grace is no longer Slick

It doesn't bother me that Grace Slick doesn't care for Donald Trump, Madonna, or Kim Kardashian. She's not a fan of the current "younger generation" either. I suppose that's ok because they're probably not fans of her.

No, what did bother me about the recent article on Grace Slick is Variety's use of a photograph for the article that has to be at least fifty years old.

Grace Slick is a 'has-been' who hasn't been relevant musically for many, many years; not even as a nostalgia act. The only way Slick's opinion of the current POSTUS could be relevant to today's young radicals is for news about her to use her younger, more attractive, hipper photos.

Grace Slick will be 78 soon. Show her as she realy is.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

A Year on Google Maps

It was just a little more than a year ago that I first received an email from Google Maps letting me know that some photos I had uploaded of San Antonio de Padua parish church in Sibulan had been viewed more than 5,000 times.

At the time, I believed that to be quite an achievement. In the year since then, my photos of the church have topped over 12,000 views, but the number of views for all the photos I've uploaded to Google Maps have gone well over 2 million (+) views.

For quite some time now, my top two photos (by views) have been one of my photos of St. Joseph parish church on Pope John Paul II avenue in Cebu, and one of my photos of Our Mother of Perpetual Help Redemptorist church in Dumaguete.

 Earlier this month, I expressed surprise that my photo of the Star Oil gas station located near the airport had reached 4th place with more than 30,000 views. Now, I find the photo is my 3rd most viewed photo with more than 35,000 views, finally passing Manhattan Suites Inn by 2,000 views. That photo is only 4,000 views behind the 2nd placed photo, and could pass Our Mother of Perpetual Help church. It is 23,000 views behind the number one photo. I will be very shocked if a photo of a gas station overtakes first place.

Monday, August 28, 2017

The Piglets at Nine Weeks

Our piglets were born June 23. This past Friday ( August 25 ) they were nine weeks old.

After taking these photos this morning, we sold one of the pink piglets to one of my wife's sisters and her husband. That piglet will be moved into one of the empty pens until the in-laws have a place ready on their property.

One less mouth to feed.

The Tabili

My wife and I drove out to the property in Magatas, Sibulan this morning to bring feed for the pigs. After feeding the pigs, I walked around the property a bit and spied this lizard crawling along the fence. Naturally, having my camera ready, I had to take a few photos.

When I my wife saw the photos, she told me this particular lizard is called tabili. Doing a little web-surfing, I find it is the Lamprolepis smaragdina AKA the "Emerald Tree Skink", "green tree skink" or "emerald green skink".

Sunday, August 27, 2017

National Catholic Reporter Should Become National Islamic Reporter

I mentioned in Friday's post that the high cost of electricity here on Negros island, and the surprisingly large amount of electricity used by my PC, has put a dent in the time I've been spending on the computer lately. That has naturally put a crimp in my blogging.

I haven't been totally absent from the Internet, however. My iPhone uses a relatively small amount of electricity, so checking my email and Facebook hasn't been a problem. I can even read my favorite blogs on the iPhone.

Earlier today, I was visiting the creativeminorityreport and going through their blog links. Unfortunately, most of the links go to blogs that haven't had an updated post in years, or in some cases to blogs that no longer exist.

One of the blog links that is still active and current is to Dymphna's Road. In a post from Saturday, Dymphna provides a link to a "distasteful article from National Catholic Reporter" entitled "The Muslim Jesus provides common ground for Christianity, Islam".

The writer of this particular article bemoans the increase of "Islamaphobia" in Trump's America. The writer tries to bring together Christians and Muslims by letting Christians know in what high regard the Quran places Jesus.

The writer mentions that the Quran refers to Jesus as "Spirit from God, "Word from/of God", "Prophet-Messenger of God," and the "Messiah" who will come back on the Day of Judgment to destroy the Antichrist. He goes on to write that "naturally there are theological differences between Muslims and Christians regarding Jesus" but fails to mention that Islam teaches that Jesus was "the precursor to Muhammad" and a prophet, not God incarnate, nor the Son of God. He also fails to mention that Islam teaches that Jesus was not crucified nor raised from the dead.

The idea that "the Muslim Jesus provides common ground for Christianity, Islam" is an insult to Christianity. The writer, obviously does not understand the teachings of Christianity.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Next on the Reading List

Here in Sibulan, our electricity comes from a geothermal power station located less than 15 miles from our home. In spite of the fact that it is geothermal, the electricity here is very expensive.

After looking at our meter, I've discovered that my PC uses a tremendous amount of power - much more than I would have imagined. Consequently, I've been using my PC less than I have been. That is partly why I haven't posted anything on to my blog recently. I can check my email and Facebook using the less costly iPhone, but blogging with the phone isn't my cup of green tea.

Having finished books 1 and 2 of C.S. Lewis' Space Trilogy, and finding book to be incredibly boring, I've gone back to reading Elizabeth von Arnim. I've just finished my tenth novel by her for this year (having read 1 of her novels in late 2016). I've begun on #11 - The Enchanted April. As only 12 of her novels are available for download at Project Gutenberg, this will be the last of her novels for me this year, unless, perhaps more will be available at a later date - copyright laws differ from country to country; I'll check to see if any of her novels are available on Canadian or Australian websites.

Breaking from my recent habit, when I've finished this last novel by von Arnim, I will read 2 printed, paper books - Volumes I and II of Sister Lucia's Fatima memoirs. I was reading these memoirs in 2005 when Sister Lucia died. These two books are among those cloth and paperback books shipped to Philippines via balikbayan box when we moved to Philippines in 2014.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

If You Post Confederate Flags on Facebook..........

........go ahead and unfriend me now.

I've been quiet about the riots going on in the U.S. now. I've thought, I'm not there now, let those folks sort this out without my comments. However, after seeing one of my Facebook "friends" post a Confederate flag onto his Facebook page, and write something about our heritage blah, blah, blah, blah, I've changed my mind about keeping silent.

Four years ago, when I discovered that someone I went to high school with was behind the movement to permit homosexuals into the Boy Scouts, I wrote a blog piece entitled Go Ahead, Unfriend Me. It that piece, I mentioned that I had "unfriended" four people over their support of homosexuals in Scouts, and asked that, if I had missed anyone then, by all means unfriend me now.

I feel the same now about this Confederate flag and monument dust up. Within the next 24 hours, after allowing one Facebook friend the opportunity to read this link on Facebook, I will remove him from my list. Should any of my other "friends" post the flag, and I'm not aware of it, go ahead and "unfriend" me.

To show the seriousness of this, I am uploading onto this post a photo of the man most hated by Confederate supporters, the man who burned Atlanta - William Tecumseh Sherman.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Update on the Fallen Tree

In one of yesterday's posts I published a number of photos of an acacia tree that had fallen across the highway in Sibulan, Negros Oriental. As can be seen in today's photos, the tree is no longer blocking the highway and traffic is proceeding normally through the town.

When I wrote the post yesterday, I was not aware of an exact time as to when the tree feel. There had been heavy rain that night, and apparently the ground was overly saturated. We experienced an electrical brown out sometime around 3:00 AM, and I've learned since then (via Facebook, of course) that that is about the time the tree did fall.

I've also learned since yesterday's post, that the tree was more than 100 years old.

Not all the tree could be removed from the area. Basically, it was shoved to the side of the road. The area where the partially cut up tree lay was previously used by fruit and vegetable vendors to sell their produce of the weekends. The canopies used by the vendors have been set off behind their original location being placed inside the park, as can be seen in a number of my photos.

I have no idea what will finally be done about the tree. Perhaps local wood sellers will be allowed to remove whatever they can use.