Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Stressed anti-Trumpers Turn to Yoga

According to this piece from USA TODAY,

"President Trump’s election and the political cacophony that followed are driving waves of people to yoga and meditation, seeking a respite from the roller-coaster ride but also trying to recharge and build energy for a political pushback."

Liberals in America find the Trump presidency particularly stressful and many are turning to yoga and meditation to relieve that stress.

Although this is just being reported at USA TODAY, the claim appeared earlier, when in February it was reported that, more women are turning to yoga now that Trump is President.

I guess you could say that the Yogis believe electing Trump was a boo-boo.

Greenhouse Effect

Out of curiosity, I placed a kitchen thermometer inside our car for about an hour. The windows were up. The car was in the shade. Still, the temperature read 140°F (60°C).

Paper Peso

It celebration of Memorial Day in the U.S., a friend on Facebook shared a photo, originally posted by her local newspaper, of the edition published on August 14, 1945 announcing the U.S. victory over Japan ending World War Two.

The item I found particularly interesting was the paper Philippine peso in the lower right-hand corner. The 1 peso paper bank note was withdrawn from circulation in the 1970s. The note in the photo is part of the VICTORY-CBP Overprints series printed in 1949, and were not in circulation (obviously) when the August 14, 1945 newspaper was printed.

It's difficult to read, but the note states that, on demand, the bearer could receive either silver peso or legal tender currency of the United States.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Hillary's Racist Hand Gesture

I seem to recall that, not so long ago, the hand gesture we see Hillary using in this photo was called a "a white supremacist hand symbol" by some in the media. When a member of the evil "alt-right" movement makes the "ok sign", it is a secret, coded symbol of racism, but, when Hillary is photographed making the same gesture, it's all OK.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Morning Chores

After my morning walk, I drove out to the property in Magatas for a few chores. There was a little bit of weeding to be done. The squash plants appear to be doing fine. With luck, we can harvest the squash in early July.

The heaviest chore involved toting water from a nearby spring. Carrying a 2 1/2 - 3 gallon bucket (can't say what the exact size is) I made three trips to the spring to top off the 20 gallon (?) plastic trash can that sets near the piggery.

My wife believes the time has come to modernize the water supply source. We have two options. We can run water lines from the main road and hook up with the municipal water provider. My wife's papa estimates that we will need to run approximately 300 meters of line. The second option would involve installing a water pump onto the property. My father-in-law has a pump, rescued from an abandoned property. There is most definitely an underground water source on our property which can be tapped into. We would only need to have to hire someone to drill down to the water.

I'm for the 2nd option - my wife supports option one. We're checking on the cost of both options. We'll make the decision on which option we'll use next month.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Orwell That Ends Well

I'm nearly finished George Orwell's Burmese Days - only chapters 24 and 25 remaining. I've written about my difficulties downloading a copy of the novel in a previous post. In spite of the problems downloading the novel, I'd say reading the novel was worth the inconvenience I experienced.

In 2015, Orwell's Animal Farm made my reading list. I can't recall if I had read the book in my younger days - when I would have been obligated to do so. I'm reasonably certain that I've read Orwell's 1984 but I couldn't possibly say when that might have been. I'm sure it wouldn't hurt to download a copy and read it now, while I'm reading other works by the writer.

I went to george-orwell.org to repeat the process I followed with Burmese Days - copy - paste - convert to pdf - convert to mobi - one section at a time.

All seemed to be going well until I noticed an error in the on line version of the novel at the end of Part Two, Chapter Nine. Using the text on line at Project Gutenberg Australia, I was able to correct the error, but it made me wonder - If there was an error in Part Two of the novel as found at george-orwell.org, could there be an error in Part One as well? Is it possible that the copy of Burmese Days found on george-orwell.org contains an error that I'm unaware of?

I hope not. For two reasons - the obvious reason that I'd like to read Burmese Days as written, but also, I'd like to go even further and download other novels by Orwell and I'd like to be confident that the novels I download are error free. Is that too much to ask?

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Netizens have Little Concern for Hunter Killed by Elephant

The CNN story of a big game hunter being killed by an elephant was posted on Facebook and many of the netizens on social media showed little sympathy or concern for the hunter, Theunis Botha. CNN reported that Botha was crushed to death after an elephant, which his friends had fatally shot, collapsed on top of him.

Details were scarce in the CNN version of the story. One could easily get the impression from the report that Botha and his companions were hunting elephant when the a tragedy occurred. I read several comments on Facebook where folks were showing sympathy for the elephant, but none for Botha. Many felt it was his "instant Karma".

Not being satisfied with the CNN report, I went further into the story. A South African news site, news24.com did a more thorough job explaining what actually happened.

While news24.com does not mention the type of animals the group was hunting, the story does explain that Botha was a specialist in leopard hunting. I wouldn't hunt leopards, but I suppose there are valid reasons why the government in Zimbabwe (where the incident happened) permits it. Botha and his group happened upon a herd of elephants when 3 cows began charging the group where upon Botha shot at them. A fourth cow stormed them from the side and one of the hunters shot her after she’d lifted Botha with her trunk. The shot was fatal and as the cow collapsed, she fell on Botha.

Clearly, the killing of the elephant was in self defense. The group did not come upon the elephants with the intention of shooting any of them.

It is a tragedy that an elephant was killed, but the folks leaving nasty comments on Facebook are out of line. We should be praying for Botha and his wife and their five children.

Some people on Facebook make me sick.

Headless VW Beetle

Late this afternoon, we had business on the opposite side of Dumaguete. When we had finished, we needed an alternate route home to Sibulan; the traffic going over the Banica River via Real Street was bumper to bumper. I had a difficult time crossing over earlier and I was not going to return home that way.

We were at the NSO and we knew of another road we could take, that would take us past the Ceres Bus Garage. All went well until we reached the Banica River again at a spot known as the Over Flow. Normally, the river flows underneath the road at this point, but if the water is especially high, it was flow over the road - hence the name, Over Flow. As we approached, the river was flowing over the road. Some vehicles were driving through the water, but I had learned my lesson in the U.S. and would not drive across the Over Flow.

We turned around and went back toward Jose Romero Road. Rather than turn right onto Jose Romero, we turned left in the direction of Valencia. My wife knew of an alternate route which would take us to Sibulan by going around our asses to get to our elbows, so to speak.

Don't ask me to explain the route. I couldn't do it again on my own. We did manage to come out near Camanjac. I knew my way after that.

Before reaching Camanjac, we passed by this headless VW Beetle, so I had to pull over for a photo.

My Vegan Breakfast

My vegan breakfast - avocado, mango and banana. All locally grown, so that's a 2-fer.

I feel so special.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Little Teepees

This morning, when I drove to the property in Magatas to water the squash plants, I discovered that in addition to other assorted chores on the property, my wife's papa has taken it upon himself to water the new plants. Never-the-less, I still went back this afternoon, after the sun no longer fell on the garden plot, in order to check on their status.

As can be seen in these photos, her papa had already watered the plants for the evening, but he had also built little teepees over each group of plants. I'm not exactly certain of the purpose of these teepees, but my wife believes it's a support to keep the plants from bending. Honestly, I don't see much use in that with yellow squash. That's not the way we did things back home.

Although I see no practical purpose for the cone shaped thingys, I left them alone - at least for the time being. There may come a time when I'll remove them, but not now.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

In the Ground

This afternoon, as the sun was going down behind the mountains, I drove to the property in Magatas and set out the yellow squash seedlings I started about 11 days ago. If I manage to get squash from these plants, it will be my first success in growing vegetables since we arrived here almost 3 years ago.

The yellow squash I tried growing before became the victim of the heavy rains. The butternut squash I attempted to grow last July died from the heat and lack of rain. The tomato plants given to us by some American friends, failed to produce blossoms.

As I mentioned before, I've set these squash plants in an area where, I hope, the shade will protect the plants from too much direct, Philippine sunshine.

Yellow Squash and Japanese Cucumbers

For the third day in a row, I've gone to the property in Magatas and taking up a hoe, I've worked on the area set aside for the yellow squash. While I was there this morning, my wife's papa pointed out where a portion of Peppa and Olivia's dung is drying for use as fertilizer. I've done a bit of weeding, and while the photo doesn't do a good job of showing it, I've made a number of mounds to set out the squash plants this afternoon. I'll spread a bit of the baboy tae after the plants are set.

I've mentioned that the area set aside for the squash is near the area where my wife's papa is growing Japanese cucumber. I've taken a few photos of the cucumber and I'm posting the photos below.

Conversion Diversion

In my post - "I Guess Some Conversions Don't Take"- I wrote of the difficulties I was having converting George Orwell's novel Burmese Days from pdf format to mobi. Given the choice, I prefer reading novels on my Kindle as mobi rather than as a pdf on my PC. As a matter of fact, I don't care to read pdf documents on the Kindle either.

Normally, when a novel is available on line - but not as a mobi - I will copy and paste the novel onto a rtf document, then convert the rtf to pdf using CutePDF Writer. Once I have the pdf , I upload the pdf to online-convert.com, convert the pdf to mobi, download the mobi, and voilà, I can read the novel on my Kindle the way I like.

I first found an copy of Burmese Days on orwell.ru. I followed my normal procedure, but the resulting mobi was unreadable on Kindle. I tried the process again with a copy I found on Project Gutenberg Australia. The mobi produced that time was not readable either.

Rather than give up, I thought that perhaps it was the size of the pdf that was the problem. Maybe, if I tried the conversion with only a few chapters at a time, the resulting mobi would turn out ok.

Going to george-orwell.org, I was able to access each individual chapter separately. When I tested Chapter 1 and found the resulting mobi worked perfectly, I divided the remaining 24 chapters in 4 documents. Each of these pdf uploaded much faster than the previous complete documents and each turned out perfectly.

Not wanting to go without a book to read while trying to get a readable copy of Burmese Days, I began reading Three Short Works by Gustave Flaubert (not to be confused with Three Tales).
According to wikipedia, Flaubert's Three Tales include A Simple Heart, Saint Julian the Hospitalier, and Hérodias. The book I'm reading substitutes Hérodias with Dance of Death. No explanation for the change is given. I'm read 80% of Three Short Works; I've downloaded Hérodias, and when I've finished reading it, I will move onto the Orwell novel.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

I Guess Some Conversions Don't Take

I mentioned in a previous blog post that George Orwell's novel, Burmese Days, was one on the books in the queue for reading soon. I became interested in this particular novel after reading Orwell's essay, Shooting an Elephant (which can be read on line here).

According to a wikipedia article on the essay, there is some confusion as to whether or not the story is fiction or non-fiction. In either case, "the story is regarded as a metaphor for British imperialism, and for Orwell's view that 'when the white man turns tyrant it is his own freedom that he destroys.'"

As to whether Burmese Days remains in the queue is open to question. I found the novel on line and printed it as a pdf using CutePDF Writer. After creating the pdf, I uploaded the document to a website that, among other things, converts pdf to mobi. I prefer to read documents as mobi using the Kindle and I've used this website many, many times. However, after opening the recently converted mobi file using my pc's Kindle reader, I discovered that the site did not convert the Burmese Days pdf correctly.

After checking the mobi document on my hand-held Kindle and finding it unreadable, I deleted the mobi from both devices and attempted to convert the pdf once again. Unfortunately, this second attempt failed as well.

I've glanced over the pdf and I'd really like to read this novel, but I find reading novels in pdf format difficult. I don't enjoy reading 128 page pdf on my pc's monitor. I could, of course, load the pdf onto my Kindle, but I don't believe the Kindle will open the pdf at the "last page read" the same as with a mobi document. I'm sure I can manage, but I'll have to put forth a bit more effort.

Books in the Queue

Two weeks ago, I began reading Uncle Silas by the Victorian Gothic mystery writer Sheridan Le Fanu. I'm nearly finished. I hate to say that it has taken me so long to plow through this novel. I'll admit, parts are interesting, but overall, the novel drags on in that 19th Century sort of way.

I don't fault Fanu. He was a good writer, but he was writing for 19th Century readers who were not blessed with radio, movies, television and the Internet. Novels were the main source of entertainment for thinking folk, and needed to be complicated and filled with details which can be tedious and boring to modern, 21st Century readers.

I already have a few books in the queue, waiting to be read, when I've finished Fanu's novel - the Diary of St. Maria Faustina Kowalska - Burmese Days by George Orwell - a 1912 translation of Jose Rizal's Noli Me Tangere (translated as The Social Cancer ) and Three Short Works by Gustave Flaubert.

I have a paper copy of a newer translation of Noli Me Tangere which I read several years ago and is currently awaiting an as yet, unmade bookcase.

Getting the Planting Area Ready - Day Two

For the 2nd morning in a row, I drove out to the property in Magatas shortly after breakfast to work on getting a spot ready for transplanting my yellow squash seedlings, and like yesterday, I knew before starting the work that I wouldn't finish in one day. The Philippine sun is brutal at even 9:00 AM.

I'll return tomorrow morning to start preparing mounds for the seedlings. I suspect I will take the seedlings to the property late tomorrow afternoon after the sun no longer falls onto the planting location. I've done a bit of weeding on the plot and can continue to weed after the seedlings are transplanted into the mounds without disturbing the plants.

With a bit of luck, we'll have yellow squash by the middle of July.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Getting the Planting Area Ready

As can be seen in the top photo, my yellow squash seedlings are doing nicely and it won't be long before I'll need to transplant the squash to a permanent location.

There is limited space available on our property in Magatas. A portion of the available space, not taken up by the house and piggery, is currently being used by my wife's papa to grow Japanese cucumbers.

In my proposed area, there is a young goat doing its part to clean off the location. Unfortunately, it isn't eating fast enough to suit me.
I went to the property this morning to begin work on the planting area. It was not my intention to do too much today. After doing my morning weight training and my daily walk with my son, when breakfast is finished, it is beginning to get too hot for much work.

The final photo shows the little work I accomplished this morning, and the two tools I'm using to get the spot ready -
 1) the goat and 2) propped against the papaya tree, the hoe I'm using.

One of the reasons why I'm happy to have this spot for the squash is that, while the area will get sunshine, the banana plants and coconut trees help shade the area; I'm afraid the squash might not withstand too much direct, Philippine sunlight.

As long as we don't get typhoon - like rains, the plants should be alright. Time will tell.

Sunday, May 14, 2017


I hadn't planned on driving into Dumaguete this morning, but some unexpected expenses made it necessary for me to go to my bank and use the ATM for a bit of cash.

Near the ATM, sat three ladies selling avocados - 50 pesos per kilo. That amounts to about 50 cents per lb in U.S. currency. The Filipina selling the six avocados seen here said that this was 2 kilos. That would be $2 for about 4 1/2 lbs. I was taking her word that the weight was 2 kilos, although I really didn't have to just take her word for it; I just happened to have my digital scale in the car and I could have double checked the weight. As it turned out, I did weigh the avocados when I arrived home. The true weight was actually 1.59 kilo - not 2 kilos. I paid 20 pesos too much. That comes to about 40 cents.

Even though I paid too much by Philippine prices, I still came out OK. It turned out to be 3 1/2 lbs for $2.

After taking the first photo, I realized that there was no frame of reference for viewers of the photo to judge the size of the avocados. The 2nd photo includes a 5 peso coin. For Americans, that's about the size of a quarter.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Our Lady of Fatima Shrine in Siaton - Part Two

As I mentioned in a post earlier today, this is the 100th anniversary of the first apparition of the Virgin Mary at Fatima Portugal to Lúcia Santos and her cousins Jacinta and Francisco Marto. Not long after publishing the earlier post, my wife, my son and I - along with my wife's mother and our domestic helper - drove to the Our Lady of Fatima shrine in Siaton, Negros Oriental.

There had been a procession and Mass early this morning before we arrived. After walking about, taking photos, we sat inside the shrine and began a rosary. We hadn't finished the 2nd Joyful mystery when a public Rosary began. Unfortunately for me, it was not in English.

When the Rosary was finished, we climbed the stairs going up the hill to the large statue of the Blessed Mother overlooking the shrine. (I had walked to the statue when we first arrived, but decided to do it again with everyone else).

While at the shrine, I used my I-phone to get the coordinates in order the add the location on to Google Maps.

I'm thinking of returning to the shrine on the 13th day of each month until October for the 100th anniversary of the final apparition.

Fatima Shrine Siaton Philippines

Today, May 13, 2017 is the 100th anniversary of the first apparition of the Virgin Mary at Fatima Portugal to Lúcia Santos and her cousins Jacinta and Francisco Marto.

Later this morning, we will be driving the the Fatima Shrine in Siaton, Negros Oriental Philippines. According to Google Maps. the trip should take one and a half hours. Naturally, I'll take photos of the shrine.

We have never traveled there before, and I don't know how many visitors travel there on a normal Saturday. I suspect there to be quite a crowd to because of the anniversary.

I'll be writing more on this tomorrow after our journey.

Yellow Squash Seedlings

Last Sunday, I planted about 2 dozen yellow squash seeds in another attempt at growing veggies that I eaten in the U.S.A.. Now, a week later, we see a few seeds have sprouted.

The location of the seed container receives a small amount of direct sunlight. I don't want to expose the seeds to too much, too soon. I water the seeds every morning before the sun hits them and in the evening after the sun goes down.

Let's hope I'm more successful this time.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

A Tale of Two Technicians

We began experiencing problems with our two year old TV a few weeks ago. The problem was minor, at first. There was difficulty turning the set on, but it would eventually start up after a couple of attempts. Then, it became even more difficult - if one unplugged and then plugged in the TV, it would start up like a wayward PC rebooting. Finally, nothing we could do would restart the TV.

We had had problems before when the TV was still under warranty, and I wanted to take to the set back there. I assumed that the problem could easily be the result of too much dust inside the television. Rather than take the set there, we tried someone else. As mentioned in another post, I had taken small electrical jobs to a shop in Sibulan - Alfred's Electronic Shop. Unfortunately the technician who owned the shop moved to Mindanao months ago. However, we had heard through the grapevine that he had returned to the area and was using a Facebook page -facebook.com/bidformephilippines- to get business, rather than pay the high cost of renting a shop.

We were able to contact the technician and he came by the apartment this past Saturday afternoon. After doing his inspection, and testing and other assorted electronic wizardry, he told us that the motherboard was shot, and because you couldn't order the motherboard without ordering the entire electronic holster, the price for repairing the TV would not be worth it.

We accepted his diagnosis and went window shopping for new televisions yesterday. The appliance stores in Dumaguete really love their televisions. Let me just say that the prices were staggering.

I told my wife that before buying a new TV, we should go back to the shop that had worked on it while under warranty. I was not completely convinced that the tech who looked at the TV Saturday was correct. Besides, even if he was right about the motherboard, his idea of what constituted an unreasonable repair cost might not be the same as mine - particularly in light of the cost of a new TV.

A friend agreed that getting a second opinion was the way to go. He said it had been his experience that techs here will tell you "it's the motherboard" rather than admit that they don't really have a clue what the problem is.

So, this morning, we drove to the shop. The folks there told my wife that there was a "virus" in the TV's software. I didn't really buy that, but they were able to fix the set right away and charged us only PHP 1000 (about $20 in U.S.dollars).

Now, I can go back to watching "The Five".

The Digital Scale

While it may be possible to get a pretty accurate estimate of a live pig's weight using a measuring tape and calculator, for obtaining the weight of individual pieces of cooked meat one most definitely needs a scale. When calculating the price of the meat, a digital scale is the way to go.

We expect to be selling lechon by the kilo very soon, so my wife and I went shopping yesterday afternoon for a butcher knife, cutting board and digital scale. We found the things we needed at Unitop on Perdices Ave..

The scale, pictured above, will take a maximun weight of 30 kg - which is much, much more than we'll ever put on the scale. It operates on either AC or with the rechargeable battery included in the purchase. This scale cost us PHP 1500 which comes to approximately $30 at the current exchange rate.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

The Drunkard Outside the Sari Sari Store

It was 6:35 AM. I was opening the gate and getting the car ready to drive my son to school. At the sari sari store across the street from our apartment, cigarette vendors were making their deliveries. Standing outside the store, a drunkard was hollering at the vendors, requesting "free samples". My son and I drove off before the ending of that scene, but I'm confident that the vendors left the drunkard sans cigarettes.

When I returned home twenty minutes later, the vendors were gone of course, but the drunkard was still outside the sai sari store. On seeing me pull up to the gate, he began hollering at me - "Hello! Good Morning!". He yelled several times, but I did not respond. As a matter of fact, I did my best to completely ignore the drunkard.

I opened the gate, got back inside my car, drove into my parking space and closed the gate.

My lack of response to the drunkard upset him to no end. He stood outside the sari sari store, pointing at me and letting a woman sitting there know that I was every sort of so and so. I could not hear his exact words - and would not have understood the words had I been able to hear them - but I do understand body language.

I know the only reason this drunkard wished to make my acquaintance was because he was looking for money to buy tobacco and alcohol. I have to wonder - would this drunkard have approached a well to do Filipino with the same expectations?

Sorry, but I am not an ATM for drunkards.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Another Try at Growing Yellow Squash

In my seemingly never ending quest for American veggies, I am once again attempting to grow yellow squash. This past December, I received a packet of squash seeds from an American visiting from Texas. I gave a handful of these seeds to my wife's papa who planted the seeds directly into the ground at the property in Magatas. As can be seen in a previous post, those seeds sprouted and seedlings began to grow.

Unfortunately, the heavy rains at the time killed the seedlings.

I'm trying once again to grow squash. I've taken a egg tray and cut it down to 12 "chambers". After adding soil, I put 2 seeds per "cup". (a few may actually have 3 seeds).

Let's hope I'm successful this time.

Ancient Photo

This morning, I was looking over the photos I've uploaded to Google Maps and I couldn't recall if I had previously uploaded a photo of Quezon Park in Dumaguete. I actually can't recall having taken a photo in the park in a very, very long time.

I began searching files of old photos in my PC to see if I could locate an old photo of the park, just in case.

While looking through the old files, I came upon this photo from 2003, when I photographed this VW Beetle parked in front of the Plaza Maria Luisa Suites Inn. This rather fuzzy photo was taken 14 years ago, with a non-digital, film camera and later scanned. Unfortunately, I did not produce a large image and this photo isn't very good.

As I say, this photo is 14 years old and I don't recall taking it for the VW. I believe I wanted a photo of the hotel for a now defunct website.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Weighing a Pig Without a Scale

As regular readers of this blog are aware, I currently own two sows; both are pregnant and should farrow toward the middle or end of June. My purpose in raising these pigs is in order to start and maintain a reliable business selling lechon baboy.

According to my estimate, the piglets resulting from these pregnancies will be large enough for lechon around the middle of August. In the meantime, we're looking into buying live, lechon size pigs so we can  begin selling the lechon before August. One of the things I'm looking to purchase next week is a digital scale for weighing the portions of lechon. There will come a time when I'll need to know the live weight of the pigs, but finding a scale large enough to weigh a full grown pig is a challenge.

Now, thanks to a website that I've stumbled upon, I can get a fairly accurate estimate of a pig's weight using a mathematical formula, a fabric measuring tape and a calculator. The website states that this procedure is reported to be accurate to within 3%.

From the website:

1 Obtain a fabric measuring tape or a piece of string to use as a measure. If using string mark the dimensions on the string and then measure the dimensions using a steel tape measure.

2 Place the tape/string under the pig just behind the front legs and measure the circumference of the pigs girth in inches. This measurement is known as the Heart Girth

3 Then measure the Length of the pig along its back from the base of its ears to the base of its tail, again in inches.

4 To calculate the pigs weight, first square the Heart Girth to get the Girth Result.

5 Now Multiply the Girth Result by the Length and DIVIDE by 400.

6 You now have the weight of your pig in Pounds.

The website also gives the formula for doing the procedure using the metric system.

For me, this a neat little trick.