Thursday, November 08, 2007

How far down can we go?

Well, is this rock bottom yet? A 12 year old girl gets suspended from school for hugging her friends... What is the matter with our country? Who is making this stuff up? Does anyone need any more ammo to scrap our current model of state run school system once and for all? Your tax dollars are giving trillions to your local state coffers to come up with this tripe. Instead of producing literate and capable individuals, our school system is creating little robots. Good little, hate filled, maladjusted sociopathic robots. This is where you get Virginia Tech and Columbine.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Sagada 2

Just felt like sharing a recent experience with coffee, and my favorite place in the Philippines. The Philippines has many areas that grow coffee. I just happen to live near the epicenter. As a result, I get all kinds of pretty damn good coffee at laughable pricing. My most recent "find" is the coffee grown and picked from Sagada. Sagada is a twisty curvy half paved, half dirt road, meandering through rice terraces, and a 6.5 hour bus ride away. This sleepy but lovely little town has some amazing caves, waterfalls and many other natural wonders. What makes Sagada, "Sagada" (and keeps me coming back) to me though is the coffee, and my morning ritual.

So here was my daily routine while on my vacation there last week.

It's 5:30AM. Crack of dawn is about half way done, and the sun is just hinting at poking it's head over the green mountain peaks that are fighting a beautiful and silent war with the thick morning clouds that roll in. Everything is in high contrast, Mountain ridges, switch backs and trails easily seen. Pine trees jutting above rock formations covered in thick nearly malachite colored moss... Crystal clear and the only noise is the rooster, starting his morning ritual as well.

I put a pot of the "literally right from a natural spring" water on the stove, and when it starts to rumble, I keep about 2 cups of it in a bowl, then fill the percolator bin about half way with Sagada's characteristic ground coffee bean. A smallish light/medium roasted bean, ground coarsely. Then, back on the stove to bubble for a few minutes, then off. After a minute to allow the settling of the grains, my leather covered stainless thermal mug is filled to 3/4 full. In this coffee, you can absolutely taste the earth, the ground, the mountains, the trees, everything. Cream or sugar is completely forbidden. After a greedy sip, full of air so as not to scald, I place it down on the bathroom sink, and take a short and hot shower.

Out of the shower, that bowl of boiling hot water is ready to do it's part. My travel kit, a Gillette Rubie loaded with a fresh Derby, a QED grapefruit and peppermint shave stick. The shave is gloriously smooth, crisp high pitched notes of that blade leaving a glass smooth face looking back at me.

Mug in hand, 10 steps out onto the balcony at the corner, I sat on small stool placed so that I could see 270 degrees of peace, nature and profound tranquility. Just me, my coffee and the glory of mother earth.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

US claims success in war on drugs

I almost laughed out loud when I saw this headline http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/7025308.stm

The government officials are patting themselves on the back for increasing the cost of cocaine. Economics 101… Its almost comical to think that the war on drugs is practically a government subsidized commodity, like corn or pork bellies. We are footing the bill of a war against our own people, leading to increased riches for violent drug dealers (low transportation costs for “less” product and increased price per unit), more of our citizens incarcerated or killed for victimless crimes, and more people will begin to turn to cheaply made and REAL dangerous drugs as alternatives. If I was a drug dealer, I would forget pot, (acreages of land, or intense electric bills) and just make a methlab in my spare bathroom. Simple economics…..

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Interesting undergrad classes

I read an interesting post from a friend's blog about what he considered to be his favorite and most interesting classes in his undergraduate degree....

I'll put mine here.

Anatomy and Physiology –the body is amazing, beautiful, and the most perfect thing in the universe..

Pharmacology–painful, time consuming, boring and absolutely essential..

Ethics– Why you “should”, or “should not”, because too often “we do” only because “we can”..

Pathophysiology– The body is amazing, beautiful, and the most perfect thing in the universe, except when it isn’t..

Organic Chemistry– The blue collar science, that explains enough information to be relevant to nearly every situation encountered.. (as compared to say, Physics, IMHO, YMMV!)

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Blogs

We met up with our friend Alvin at Camp John Hay's country club last night. We met his lovely family who are in town as part of their annual trips that they make here twice a year, once for his Lola's birthday, and again for X-Mas. Anyways, we caught up on new stuff, laughed about old times, and had some nice food and coffee in the establishment. Alvin is nice enough to read and comment on my blog regularly, giving me the inspiration and motivation to continue with it. He asked me for advice on how to start his own, and upon further reflection, I will post the response here, as a blog of my own. So without further ado, here is my response.

  1. Do you really want to blog? - I ask this question because blogging takes more time (once set up, you can knock out a post in 5 minutes) and is a little less user friendly than some social bookmarking sites that may be more useful to the average user. I find I split my time here and at facebook. the nice thing about a blog is that everyone can go to my blog and read, whereas access to my facebook account requires your own setting up of an account. A big question that needs answering, if "no" go to question #4.
  2. Where do I sign up for a blog? - www.blogger.com or www.wordpress.com . If I am not mistaken, wordpress may have the edge these days for ease of use and flexibility if you want it, but I imagine the differences are not profound. Just pick one, and go for the free blog account (back in my day, I hadn't heard of wordpress, so I went with blogger. Either will allow you to create an overall look and theme, profile, and format for posting.
  3. Follow the directions, they are pretty straight forward. You will be up and running in about an hour with your layout and style complete, title and profile done, and maybe a pic or two and your first post.
  4. Social Networking (or facebook). This has taken over a lot of what I see people who use blogs and emails use them for. You can upload photos, send out quick notes, and keep "up to date" with people in your network. It is a cleaner interface than it's predecessor "friendster", more secure, and easier to manage. You are confined within the parameters of facebook, so if you are more creative and require more freedom, a blog might be a better fit. But if you want to be up and running in about 30 minutes with friends, family and a messaging type interface, go for facebook. I will keep my blog for now, but it's relevance has been challenged recently with facebook. Facebook does require a log in, but once you break down your facebook-less friends, they will quickly come over to your way of thinking, and soon you will be spending your time there.
  5. Another option for the type who hate typing, or want a much simpler communication tool is www.flickr.com . This is a photo sharing site where you just upload pics and share. Its an online photo album where the pictures speak a thousand words for you. A small caption, and off you go.
So, there is the sum of my knowlege of Blogging/Social Bookmarking, et al. I hope it helped.

Osama bin Laden Movie Review


So, I signed up on facebook last week after almost a year of continuous bombardment from friends and relations. Glad I did. Nice little site, and a nice way to keep in touch. Anyways, I stumbled upon the movie review application, so I quickly reviewed a bunch of films in my typical sarcastic way, when looking through the news, noticed that our good buddy Osama has released his own cinematographic epic.

I figure that I'll give my take on his latest offering. Tentatively entitled, "Convert ye masses, lest ye be killed, and oh yeah, capitalism sucks" that hit the theaters world wide this week.With a team of the finest make-up crews, Osama appears youthful and swarthy, his 0.4m long usually "salt and peppered" beard dyed a deep, rich black. He sits calmly and confidently in this feature film, wearing a white shirt and yellow shawl, that costume designer Alijjiba Majinniiyad made from Osama's wardrobe further conveyed the upbeat message of mandatory religious conversion and rejoicing in the failure of the Western World possible. The set director, Hafaad Hunnaji, bravely chose a "brownish" background to complement the overall message and tone of the film. Almost in spite of these memorizing special effects, the words of Osama really hit a powerful note, mostly underlining the evils of capitalism. Problematic in the plot, is the fact that his entire fortune was derived from capitalism, implicating himself. Nevertheless, Osama recovers from this oversight expertly by simply not mentioning that aspect. A true mature actor's ability to overcome the obvious hurdle showed a near Academy Awards performance. Special mention must be made to the lighting crew, who chose a "minimalist" subject in the lens obscura, dismissing past "film noir" qualities of Osama's last offering, "the October 2004 tape". From the position of the viewer, the well diffused lighting came from a series of incandescent and florescent bulbs, (25 watt former, and the 17 watt super saver types of the latter type), bringing out the rich olive, tan beige, yellow, white and the previously mentioned "brownish" hues evident in this film.

The Soundtrack of this film, a disjointed "voice-over", seemed to be the weakest part of this already earmarked classic. Several moments of voice did not coincide with the movement of Osama's mouth, indicating further need for improvement. During the advanced screening "post interview", Osama simply made an off camera gesture of a finger dragged across his neck when asked if he planned on using the same sound crew for his next eagerly anticipated film. His current crew could not be reached for comment, their feet being held to furnace heated irons.

To summarize, Osama has once again proven that he is more entertaining than ever, at the top of his game and relevant to his cause, to beat both Big and Little Satan. His offer for the world, and especially American's to "convert to Islam" proves his realistic short term objectives, and the aforementioned diatribe against the evils of capitalism come at a timely moment in history, when everyone is looking for communism and despotism to answer the needs of the workers of the world. 4.5/5 stars.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Mean, Bad, Awful. And that's the good part.

This is horrible. It is bad enough we are in this mess. What a world we live in!
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/20430153/

Food!

Well, crack the champagne, I think I have finally solved a near 3 year quest that has caused me great pain and discomfort. Yep, I finally figured out how to make “Adobo”…. This seemingly simple dish requires a steady hand, and attention to detail that I have found out through a number of poor examples can easily put this dish on an “Expert only” basis….

So, I will demystify the experience for all here on how I did it.

First, and most obviously, the 1 kilogram of adobo cut chicken. Yes, there is a cut named after the national dish of the Philippines, (though this probably only exists in the Philippines, anyway)

You take this chicken, and first rinse it well. And then start to notice something. This poor wretch of a bird has not undergone hormone therapy and been pumped full of “broth” to increase it’s bulk. Translation? The meat is almost “dry” for better lack of terminology. What this means to you and I is that a good quality Philippine chicken is delightfully susceptible to marination, because all the little porous tissues are empty, rather than full of “filler”… See more info on this here. That is why all the marinating in the world does little good to birds from the US or Canada (my experience with both, not knowing what goes on with Euro-Poultry)... However, I digress.....

SO, you take this wonderful "dry sponge" of a chicken, cut into approximately 20 pieces or so for the average 2lb bird, "adobo cut" (essentially, the whole chicken is cut up, leaving the bones in) and after the wash, put in 1/2 cup of cane vinegar and 1/4 cup of soy sauce, then about a dozen calamansi (or key limes) and put in the "ref" (refrigerator) for at least and hour. Then you take your caldereta (big pot) and add about 2-3 TBSP of oil, and go back to your chicken, and look at how it has absorbed most of the marinade. That is a good thing. Dump the excess out, and then put it into the pot, and get things going, hot and loud. Add 4-5 medium sized potatoes (patatas), two onions (sibuyas) and about 6 cloves of garlic (bawang). Get all that frying up nicely, stirring every couple of minutes. Some "juice" from the vegetables, marinade and cooking process should be starting to come out. After 15 minutes or so, it is time for the serious part, and seemingly benign. Add about an ounce more of soy, and an ounce of vinegar, a TBSP of brown sugar, and a half TSP of coarse ground/cracked black pepper, bay leaf and cup and a half of water. Bring this to a rapid boil, then turn it down to simmer for 45 minutes. When you come back to it, it should be darker in color than when you left. This is good. The sugar, and onions and process made it dark, and the taste should be a little tart, a little sweet, and kinda gravy-ish from the breakdown of the potatoes. You can add a bit more of whatever to balance, and it should be balanced. Serve with rice (duh), and fresh cut bananas, (as learned by "Aunty Lisa") ...


The dish, as far as I know, is known to be rich, if not a bit oily. A good accompanying dish would be the other bane, and as yet unconquered, sinagang. A tamarind based soup that would cut away any excess "grease" from the adobo. Enjoy!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Herps and Cat5 twisters

So, after a week of a shy, quiet, kinda grumpy looking turtle, he has gone through a metamorphosis, so to speak. He is finally eating, I bought him some turtle food, but he is eating the apples and other stuff, as long as it is "in the water". (a la Jesse's 6th grade report of the majestic sperm whale)

I was in the hardware store buying him a basking light, I came across some plastic paint roller containers. they are ramped on one end, and go to a depth of a 6" deep pool at the other end. I bought two, and put food in one, and keep the other clean. He went right in and started eating. He walks around in his "habitat" now like a king, "long neck" looking around at everything. I was real worried he wasn't gonna make it. It looks like he is fine now.

I talked with a pet store owner. They had about 30 of these for sale. They are endemic to this region, and are 50% aquatic. They have semi-webbed toes and like moderate to cooler climates. This one seems to be a potential sub-species of the one that YAVON, not Jesse, linked in the comment page from my last post. The elevation here is 1500 meters and a cool 75 degrees average temperature, whereas the one classified in the website is a lowland turtle, requiring tropical temperatures. Good for a pet owner, keeping anything above 75 degrees here is hard. It's getting cold, even for an adipose and "keratinized protein" covered person such as myself.

Oh yeah, there is another "super typhoon" headed towards the Philippines again. Looks like the bulk may go over top of us.

http://www.typhoon2000.ph/activeflash/stormloop

look about 2 inches to the left of the "Eye".. That's Baguio!

We have found a great way to save time and money here. We pay our friend's mother to do our food shopping for us. Here is our latest list of goods. total cost $20 a week, including her cut.

Shopping list

Product Quantity

Tokwa

¼ kilo

Cooked sausage (red)

¼ kilo

chicken (adobo cut)

1 kilo

Pork chops

½ kilo

Milk

1 x 250 ml tetra box

Eggs (red)

2 piece

Eggs (white)

6 piece

Bangus (in vinegar)

3 pieces

Yakult

2 pack of 6

Gardenia whole wheat bread

½ loaf size

Century tuna in brine (or oil)

4 cans

Red/green tomatoes mixed

1 kilo

Large peppers (red/green)

1 kilo

Cilantro

1/8 kilo

Parsley

1/8 kilo

Onion (red)

½ kilo

Onion (yellow)

½ kilo

Garlic

¼ kilo

Seasonal fruit #1

e.g (apples or oranges)

Seasonal fruit #2

e.g. (longsones or chico or mango)

Seasonal fruit #3

bananas

Potatoes

1 kilo

Celery

1 bunch

Baguio Beans

¼ kilo

Eggplant

6 pieces

Coconut cream or powder

2 cans (or 2 packages)

Calamansi

½ kilo

Tang or Hi-C grape (dry)

Large size (500g)?

Peanut butter (dark color, from wet market) in plastic container

1 jar (large)

Cucumbers

1 kilo

Rice (jasmine long grain)

1 kilo

Vegetable oil

500ml

Benguet blend coffee

¼ kilo fine grind

Coffee mate

1 box

Black pepper

One packet

Curry spices

One packet

Cumin seed

One packet



Friday, August 10, 2007

A new addition to our home


Well, we were out the door for our exams this morning after a 3 day tropical storm, and we find this little guy in the driveway in a cold dirty puddle. So, we took him in and cleaned him up and now we have a 2lb liability on our hands. I have several urgent emails with pictures out to a) identify and b) get rid of him safely. A pet like this is a lifelong commitment, and if he is wild, I would like to return him to what is is supposed to be doing. here is my email going out....



example:
Date: Fri, 10 Aug 2007 04:14:45 -0700 (PDT)
From: Joaquin
Subject: Hello
To: mconnor@tortoise.org

I live in the Philippines as a student. I have come across a 2 lb turtle this morning after a large 3 day tropical storm and took him in. He was sitting in a busy cold wet driveway (air temperature was about 50-60 degrees overnight in a dirty pool of water.) He will stick his head out on occasion, and has moved around in the shower stall to seek shelter under the curtain. I put down newspaper, and some tomatoes and banana. I think he took a few nibbles of the banana. I need to know what kind of habitat I should prepare for him. If I had to guess, I would say he was not from here. Baguio City is a highly urbanized city with an elevation of about 3,000 feet, but of course, I don't really know for sure. He has a single yellow stripe on his/her head. I have looked at you gallery, but nothing seems to be an "aha!" type.

Any help would be appreciated. I have sent a few pics. He/she looks to have had some run ins with local dogs judging by his broken shell near his left rear leg, but maybe not recently, as he has no injury that I can see on his/her legs or whatnot.


Thanks so much,

Joaquin, Karen, and "Henry/Henrietta"





We need to quickly find out if he is terrestrial, aquatic or terrestrial/aquatic. We are praying for terrestrial, and local. If so, he will be on his way after a belly full of worms and bananas.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Ron Paul- Americas Last Hope

A short Youtube video I like of Dr. Paul.

Let them sing it for you - your text sung by rock stars!

A neat little text-to-speech applet that converts any text into a sound file pieced together using clips from pop and rock songs. There's a pretty eclectic mix of source material in there, try to work out what song each word comes from. Click onto the "read more" to check it out.

read more

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Saw the movie

Well, we saw Harry Potter 4, 5 or 6.... Can't remember how many of these they are churning out, but from what I hear, the books are better than the movies. I can believe it. Not that it was terrible, just ho-hum. Maybe not my style. The actors are starting to get long in the tooth, IMO.

The CON activities and our full load at school are clipping away as usual. I am trying to come up with an online solution for the office. I might just go for a googlegroup page and call it good. Webpage design is way over my pay scale for now. I have some incredibly bland looking offerings from about 4 hours of hard work... It's good to know when to quit and admit you don't know what the heck you are doing, right?

Along, the way, I did find several "new to me" things that are working out WONDERFULLY. The first, is the google toolbar. The second, is the google desktop. Both can be found by.... googling them, of course. Really, It is amazing what this company is doing. It is hard to realize just how much that I do depends directly on google. By now, many know that google is trying to press the government to open up portions of wireless networks for general public consumption and free market, rather than the telecommunication "cartels". Good luck google, once you give it to them, they have a hard time giving it back. Still, a noble effort. I wish I could thank them personally in their private jets with cigars and single malt whiskey. (their treat, of course)

We might be going somewhere for a "team building" experience with my co-conspirators in the college of nursing student government. I am surprised at how well the group is conducting themselves. A nicer bunch of young people would be hard to find. All fairly dedicated and working well together, for the common good.

Our first tall order at the college student government was to pull off the annual juggernaut A.K.A., "Nursing Day"... It went off without a hitch. My "food voucher" scheme was a hit, and we managed to feed 3,000 nursing students whatever they wanted to a degree, for half the cost of last year's "Burger Fiasco". The much anticipated "Nursing Pageant Night" also went off well(without any input from yours truly of course), with the usual "controversy" of whomever's favorite candidates not doing as well as some other persons' favorite. I think the upcoming competition for Mr. and Miss UB will be a lock, considering the depth of our college's contestants.

Well, another round of skills labs under our belts just passed. We focused on two major groups of nursing care, namely OBGYN stuff like delivery room procedures, delivery, newborn care, and the REAL fun stuff of catheterizing, suctioning and oxygenation. We will be going to the hospitals next week for surgical rotations. We have our "1st grading" periodic exams starting tomorrow to close out the week.

Anyways, back to the grind...

Sunday, July 15, 2007

yowch!

So, I am not sure if I just got made it all worse, but the position with the college of nursing is going to be quite a job. Anyway, it would seem there are a number of dedicated people there, so I think we can get productive things done, and actually feel good about it. It is quite refreshing to see a group of enthusiastic people, putting aside their pride, working together.

Anyways, I have a bunch of things to do now, and we are through with the preliminary exams. Karen is talking me into seeing Harry Potter sometime soon. I will go along. I am becoming a real fuddy-duddy. I hope it is not too late to turn back! Really, there are no interesting movies being played in the Philippines. Just huge blockbuster extravaganzas like Spiderman (ugh!) and the Fantastic Four (UGH!!).... We saw the Transformers, and actually I liked it, (a wonderful flashback from my youth in the 80s) but in all honesty, I just don't need to be blown out of my seat every 7.2 seconds anymore. Can I just have a quiet thought provoking drama? Please? Luckily for us, going to the movies is super cheap, so at least when we are disappointed, the "hit" is minimal.

My friends downstairs are having some kind of immigration problems. Al has been in Manila for almost a week, visiting his embassy. I think this problem is actually about their own embassy's requirements, not the Philippine's.

We have joined the school gym. I am not making any more embarrassing promises, just hoping to get back into that good old habit of working out everyday and eating right. SO hard to break bad habits, they feel/taste so good!

I spoke with my brother for a while last night. My "little" brother turned 30 years old. We were laughing about how close our ages are, how old we are now, etc. He and Yavon are having some challenges real estate wise these days, and we are really pulling for them to get some good luck, though they are real troopers about it. We always laugh real hard when we talk. Everyone needs more of that.

I am still pullin' for Ron Paul. I really believe that Dr. "No" is the only chance for America. We are on the verge of all kinds of problems, not just Health Care, Foreign wars, etc. But a slow systemic meltdown if we don't change everything soon. We have given away all of our freedoms, the greatest asset we have as Americans, and we do so willingly for some reason. The problem is that both sides of the political spectrum are really on the same team. And it is us (the people) versus them (the government) They don't realize that they are working on our behalf. It is real disgusting what we have squandered away to be "safe"... "The Patriot Act", "The War on Drugs", The CIA, FBI, EPA, UN, FED, BATF, BLM, IRS, DEA, DTRA, FEMA, FTC, FDA, DHS, IRS (ok I mentioned IRS twice, but come on!)..... I could keep going, but think, have these institutions really helped, or are they just there to create power and wealth for themselves and to get in between you and your rights? The 2008 ticket is going to have Guiliani, the only American to go through 9/11 apparently, and Hilary, perhaps the most obscenely political person to ever take up the "profession".

To the 3-5 people reading my blog may I present the following links.

http://mises.org/ (the goods)
http://www.isil.org/resources/introduction.swf (a very simple, but great 4 minute video)
http://www.lewrockwell.com (a great source of libertarian essays)
http://www.isil.org/resources/libertydocs/pizzacracy.html (a great article)
http://www.ruwart.com/Healing/ (a great free eBook)
http://rawstory.com/news/2007/ABC_Stephanopoulos_interviews_Paul_Gravel_on_0709.html (two great men, Mike Gravel who got us out of Vietnam, and Ron Paul being interviewed by GS ... watch the end of each interview, GS belittles everything that these men have worked to achieve, and undermines the value of our political process. These are the only two candidates who want us out of Iraq TODAY, and don't want us in any more wars period. Well, at least GS gave them airtime)

Anyways, gotta get back to the work. And yes, I noticed that I used the term "great" to describe all of the websites....

Friday, July 13, 2007

I am so excited!

Well, you heard it here first....

I will not be seeking the re-election for Foreign student president. I need to focus on two major factors, first, Karen, who has stood by my commitments to the college and everything else. She has missed a lot of her own free time due to my commitments and I need to balance that out.

Also, my own sense of satisfaction. The group that I was running was apathetic at best Here is an experiment for you, go ahead and just try to make people interested in something.... Are you back yet? It doesn't work. Most of my accomplishments went completely unannounced, back deals keeping our room foreign student only, having to convince the school administration not to shut us down on a nearly weekly basis, apologize for inexcusable behaviors on the part of some foreign students, pleading for budgetary funding, intervention on behalf of students with their problems with teachers, faculty, each other, etc.. I am worn out. To top it off, the very students that I have defended are now the most vocal dissenters, and quite frankly, my patience is gone. I slept soundly last night after I made my decision. I will quickly thank the outgoing members, and hopefully endorse an appropriate sucke--I mean "candidate" for the position this year going forward. It is a big relief.

I figured out that I am not really like most of the other foreign students anyways. Most of them are locked into their ethnic groups and/or are really just looking for an "extended family" of sorts. I have to remember that they are still young. Here I am, trying to get them to think that they should try to understand the Filipino culture as I do (or think I do anyway). I feel that they must go through a process to understand it themselves. I always wondered why if you come to a foreign country would you not even want to participate and integrate yourself into the new culture. I know why now. Its not that they don't want to, its that they can't.

I regret misleading our new adviser with my "vision" because I actually don't think that my vision is a reflection in any way of the average foreign student here. Most of our population of 200 is either Korean or Fil-Am. I think that they have nice close ties with one another, and they are generally satisfied with the arrangement. They likely enjoyed the role of FOSA for the semi-private office space that we provided and that is about it. The Fil-Ams play another low profile role. As Americans, they more or less integrate with the local population of Filipinos. It is the nature of Americans to do this, as we generally require it of incoming immigrants. So, they generally don't wish their differences to be showcased. The rest of the population of students have various needs and wants, but desire to gather in their ethnic groups rather than a 'international one", most obviously the Africans and Iranians.

Yet let's remember that the majority are in their late teens or early twenties, have full course loads at school, and busy social lives. Result? There were a handful of us who actually felt obligated to act. This was obvious as during several general meetings held, that myself and our secretary where the only two participants.

The "new face" (this "new face" is none other than my EX-vice pres) of FOSA looks keen to create foreign student IDs, hold parties with other foreign students from other schools, and create a distinct status for themselves. I am not interested in that at all. And though I see that there will be a very small group controlling a proportionately larger one, making decisions for them that they do not understand or endorse, I will not intervene to help. They need to learn lessons about themselves and their relationships with others.

I will be able to focus my efforts into my course of study and my life with Karen as a result of this. Another step in the right direction for me.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Well........

We have been super busy with school lately. 6 days a week, 10:30AM-5:30 pm.... Sundays are little breaks that we stop and catch our breath.

I was cajoled into becoming the College of Nursing's 3rd year Representative, to help my friend Ray run as Governor. After a bunch of weird red tape, we had to water down our party and since he was only eligible for vice-gov, we took on an indy running gov for our top spot. With very little time to campaign properly, we were generally defeated in the top two spots, Ray could not overcome the sweeping popularity of his competition, a guy who's father is a popular professor at the school and clinical head who spoke up during the campaigning debate, much to our dismay. As well, he was allowed to run with "larger than allowed" campaign posters. In spite of all if this, my man lost by only 13 votes, and the clincher votes were the 4th year votes that we had nearly no contact with. Most of the 4th year students are out of the college 75% of the time and just voted on name recognition, or a candidates' openly "gay-ness", yes, there was a "Gay party" that took a large percent of the vote. Their platform? They want to have a "Gay "Miss Nursing Pageant". I am friendly with everyone at the school, gay and otherwise. I generally think that running on being "gay" is simply not valid, but my views on homosexuality are probably more "refined" than the average conservatively raised yet newly expressive Filipino student. I just don't see them as different in terms of ability or accomplishment, whereas they are something of a force in todays Filipino culture because of their "newness" and popularity in mass media, etc. If I were gay, I would hate to run as a "Gay guy". That doesn't seem to be enough to formulate ideas or programs or communicate effectively between the administration and student population. As predicted by many, I swept the 3rd year rep position, and will now have something of an "opposition" role, keeping checks and balances between Super popular kids of teachers / openly gay candidates and every other student in the school who just wants to graduate from college and get their degree in nursing. I get to complain on behalf of my classmates, write nasty letters and make recommendations. In short, heaven. Philippine politics is amazingly more confusing than American politics..

Anyways, Ill try to get things done as I have done in the Foreign Student President position that is coming up. We had a nice presentation from the guidance office for the foreigners followed by a "quick meeting" that quickly turned ugly as my VP from last year degraded all of the hard work we all accomplished to further his own hopeful presidential aspirations. He was met by a lot of opposition and though I really admire his enthusiasm as always, his ideas seem too far reaching for an organization in its infancy. We have accomplished a lot of good, and I was upset to lose momentum, arguing about a discontented 5%. In the end, our team triumphed and we are set to promote interesting programs and tap into the underutilized 95% of our school facilities. Cultural exhibits, fun fairs, English and Tagalog lessons, peer/academic counseling.. that's what we started, and that's what we are going to build upon. I really look forward to working with our new adviser from the Office of Student Affairs. He is a really nice guy, quick thinking and can solve problems and create programs for us.

School work has been kinda weird. The pace is slow, but awkward. We are having our preliminary exams next week, I have about 1001 things to get done before I can crack a book open, and I guess I'll get to that.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

I am on vacation now, we had a long trip getting here, but it's been worth it! We are having lots of fun!! This is mostly just a practice post for Grandma to learn how to blog!!

Friday, April 20, 2007

Urine, blood, stool, BP, IVF computations

We were formed into groups at the beginning of the semester. Our groups "core" consists of myself, Karen and our ever trusty pals Grace and Raymund. This semester, we have made a couple more pretty good friends as well, including Sara, Miles, and Julienne.

They quickly increased their friend status with me by inviting me to a wedding of a friend of theirs during an extended lunch break...... We got to class with a huge food hangover. Pretty cool.

It has been a bit grueling so far, as usual. Karen has luckily completed her Nutrition from MAMC last year (and is enjoying a bit of nah, nah, nah nah-nah at my expense), so her summer semester experience is enviable form my perspective. I have classes Mon, Tue, Wed, from 7:30AM until 6:30pm.... one, two hour break in the middle...

Our first shift of duty fell on a Wednesday evening, so we were up for 27 hours before we went home that morning. That was rugged....

We have duty this week at "Baguio General Hospital", a tertiary medical facility here in Baguio that covers the majority of all medical cases in the region. I am in a group with Grace and Sarah, Karen is in a group with Julienne. We are doing the graveyard shift 11-7 in the Obstetrical ward. It has been my best experience as far as schooling here is concerned. What we are learning each day is equal to an entire semester worth of lecture, I would guess. The women are pretty amazing, and I of course have a new respect for what nearly every woman goes through. If I was a woman and it was up to me, the human race might become extinct in one generation..Haha.. Anyways, we are learning the techniques of IV therapy and calculations, charting, and of course, therapeutic communication and the ins and out of a medical facility. Our CI (clinical instructor) is a young guy, about my age *wink* and though he keeps 'Filipino time", he knows his stuff and has been very good in showing us the "hows and whys" of our trade. I have developed a "working relationship" with the charge nurse as well, and when I started last night, she was quick to take me around and show me some things that I had questioned her about.... She is pretty good at what she does, being the only nurse at times in the entire ward, often having 45+ clients at one time. Amazing amounts of stamina there.

Anyways, I am looking forward to the rest of our practical experience here. So far, so good.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

So we just got back from our 6 day vacation to Boracay. As usual, many people don't read this blog that I write in to find out this information, making this blog ever more useless, however, I digress.

We started off going to Manila, and went to Karen's uncle Mike's, where we got the usual 1st class treatment before heading over to road 3 to see Lola and the gang there. Everyone seemed to be in good spirits, the kids were finishing up school for the year. A few San Migs, (actually starting to not mind them now) and back to Mike's to sleep.

The next morning, we were off to the domestic airport, stopping in to McDonald's for "a quick bite". (the food is still the same, salty, greasy a dee-licious) The line at the airport seemed longer and the airport terminal seemed more busy than usual. We then realized that it is "holy week" in the Philippines. In the Philippines, "Holy week" means (for most) more days off work, more eating and more drinking, and often lots of traveling around. We were about to do just that.

The flight by Asian Spirit (the joke goes that you get on the plane as "people" and "land" in "spirit form') was on a 4 prop 30 seater, the ride was smooth and nice about 55 minutes..... We touched down in "Caticlan", the nearest commercial airstrip to Boracay.

Our porter for the Orchid resort we were booked in was there to take us and our belongings through the slight maze like series of procedures to get on the island, and it was nice to just have him point to the various windows and say, "100 pesos", etc. , etc. , instead of walking around in the noon hour sun sweating and trying to figure it all out while dragging your bags everywhere. We got onto the bangka (a type of modified longtail boat with a large pair of outriggers, seen in Hawaii too) and were taken to our delightful room. The place is a great value for Boracay, and the staff were very friendly. I even worked a deal for any referrals from my "flock" of students. We immediately had a few beers and lunch on the beach.


That night, we went to see Karen's Uncle Leonard, who's family practically owns half of Boracay. We had dinner with him and some beers. We learned that his daughter and law Amanda had just given birth and that Boracay is really developing. We saw evidence of that in the 4, yes, 4 Andok's Lechon on the shrot ride to his resort. (more about that gem later) and "D'Mall", what was once the city market, has now "blossomed" into a pretty nice outdoor mall with upscale vendors and restaurants. There are construction projects everywhere, even Tito Leonard's place was radically improvised, with a new pool and cabanas, as well as his former adjacent vacant lot now resided with another large hotel.

Anyway, we hit Jonah's for the best shakes in town, and took in the booming nightlife a bit before retiring.

Next morning, we were up and after breakfast decided to catch some rays (I got a few too many, Karen apparently did not get enough), get coconut oil massages and chill the heck out. We had dinner at an Indian restaurant and an apple pie crepe in the mall, walked around then back to our room.

The next day, Tito Leonard found a vacant room in his resort, so we moved to his place. The requisite shake at Jonah's, then, we went snorkeling. We got our own boat and guide and set out. Our first stop was nice, but the weather at that moment was unfortunately not cooperating and the wind created waves that made the snorkeling a bit rough. (I am a fair weather water sport kind of guy). We did see some beautiful coral and fish though). Then, we went around the other side to "Puka Beach" were the world gets its puka shells for the necklaces.

Then, we went to the other snorkeling area and had a good session there, as the weather had calmed down and you could just relax and enjoy yourself. I was smart and wore a t-shirt while snorkeling, Karen was not and suffered a rare (for her) sunburn. We were both pretty wiped out from the activity and sun all day, so we retired to our room early and polished off the left overs from our Indian food and called it a day.

The next day was interesting. Leonard had just opened his cock fighting arena and we were invited to attend the opening event.

Cock fighting is hugely popular in the Philippines, and though some may find it cruel, the connoisseurs will tell you that Filipino versions of it are more humane as the roosters are all equipped with very lethal and large blades that generally end the fight in under a minute, as opposed to other regions that employ small puncture wounds, keeping the match going for several minutes. At any rate, the venue was brand new, seating about 500 spectators and an air conditioned VIP box where we sat. By the time we got there, the festivities were under way. Money was literally flying around as match after match took place. I wasn't feeling the urge to bet, and after a couple hours and a few scotches and beers, we set out to have dinner on the beach..We went to one of the hundred or so "Eat all you can" seafood buffets for a whopping 300 pesos each. (6USD).. The mozerella and pineapple baked oysters were my favorite selection of the evening.

We were offered a dune buggy for our use, and decided to go exploring around the Island. We ended up getting flagged down by a guide to the "bat caves". We were off, and after a 10 minute hike, we weaved our way down a very large, completely black, stinky and noisy (shrieks from said bats) cave. When we got to the bottom, we were able to see tens of thousands of bats.. The cave is adjacent to the ocean, and as I put my feet in the water, the guide said, "Sir, you aren't afraid of coral snakes are you?" The smile kind of died on my face as he shone the flashlight about 2 meters away from me, and low and behold, a 3 foot long black and turquoise banded coral snake was making his way in the opposite direction. Karen pretty well freaked (as you can see by the "smile" in her picture). He claimed that these are not the poisonous types, but we didn't really want to find out either way. Further research on my part has revealed no species of the "non venomous" types that we apparently encountered. Under another rock was a rather large coral snake, and at that point, it was time to go. now.

So we did. It was CSI night, and after the sun and fun, I just picked up BBQ chicken (from Andok's), coleslaw and rice and we retired early.

We got the buggy again after our Jonah's fix and struck out again, this time equipped with our own mask and snorkels, hell bent on finding a decent spot. We pretty well struck out, and ended up on puka beach again. It was still ok, and though it wasn't the best snorkeling, we still had a fun and had a nice small lunch of garlic and honey prawns on rice that we split, because we had purchased two 1 kilo lobsters for dinner that night. We rode around and saw some of the interesting and undeveloped parts of the island before getting back and watching the sunset, got coconut oil massages and some great pictures of what Boracay looks like as the sun goes down.

We went back to our room,



cleaned up, and went back to our Cabana to eat these two magnificent bugs with rice and a couple of glasses of white wine. It was the best lobster I have had.




The next day, we got ready to leave, had one last shake and then got a shuttle to the port and ferried across to the airport. the flight was delayed and it was real busy, but we finally got our flight on a 4 engined jet and in 35 minutes we touched down in manila, where her uncle Mike was waiting for us to take us to the bus terminal. We "walked on" to a bus (the terminal was packed) rather than opting for the purchase in advance "sucker" route and in 6 short hours, we made it home.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Good stuff!

So, we wrapped up our semester last week. I don't know if it is getting harder or easier, but this semester went by PDQ....

We are planning a short trip to Boracay next week for a few days to R&R before we start our summer semester. Really looking forward to coconut oil massages and laying around, listening to the waves lap up on the shore. Hope the weather holds out for us there, unlike last time!! :)

I am starting a 'USMC" style work out program. Having some trouble sleeping/restlessness and figure it is lack of good old exercise. (Constant studying and computer vegetative states will do that to you).. We get our share mind you, there are more hills and stairways here than anywhere I have seen. And our food is fresh, homemade and relatively healthy. The program is from a rather boring looking book that emphasizes calisthenic type workouts that you can do w/o any equipment. Push ups, sit ups, and lots of "road work", as we like to call it in the corp!! I rather like that because I hate the idea of collecting more "stuff" than we have already. Anyways, I will be going through a 13 week 'boot camp" process. Actually, the way it is explained is simply routine overload of strength and stamina to better complete objectives. There is a bit of a "legend" of it being some kind of grueling accomplishment, but most are probably confusing it with some specialized Navy S.E.A.L. training, etc. Anyways, this new recruit is gonna get fit! "Ooh-Rah!!"

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Shave blog

Ok, here is my official shave blog. I am providing this as a public service announcement. I have some specific brands and techniques mentioned here, but these things work for me, and as they say often on shaving websites, YMMV (your mileage may vary)

There are two types of shaves, electric (dry) shaves, and wet shaves. Electric shaves can never give you as close a shave as a wet shave, and irritate the majority of users. There has been a grassroots movement of sorts towards wet shaving recently. I made that move a few months ago and will never look back. Not that I ever dry or electric shaved, but that I just wet shaved poorly, as do many of us.

So there are two basic things you can improve when “wet shaving”.

a) technique

b) equipment

I have been wet shaving for around 17 years. That is a heck of a lot of ingrown hair, razor burn and torture. I missed the best shaves available in the world by about 50 years or so. Around that time, to the detriment of men everywhere, they created the “cartridge razor” as we know it today.

Before then, they had a product called, the double edged blade. They still have them today, but 50+ years ago that was the norm. Swap out a blade, get a shave, toss it out, put in another blade, etc. Today, the cartridge reigns king with fancy multi blades and lube strips, vibrating heads, and what not. It really doesn’t do a better job though. Especially if you use an older cartridge system, because Gillette et al use planned obsolescence on their own older products (like the mach3) by changing the angle on the head, and the blade angles in the cartridge…. They do this to make their new products seem superior and then charge more. (The going rate per fusion cartridge is 2-3 dollars a pop nowadays, disposables are going for a few bucks for 5 or six or maybe 10-12 if they are real cheap)

OK, so you want to improve your technique before spending any money… For sure, if you can’t get the hang of it, better to stop right there and not spend any money. I will break down your shave into steps. These are well known among the DE (double edge) shave crowd.

Ideally, (especially 1st timers) do this at night before bed. Ill tell you why later.

Get a tube of topical hydrocortisone ointment 1% in a tube. You may need this starting out.

The pre-shave (prep stage)

Usually, and ideally, this will be a hot shower. Warm water will go into your follicles on your face, softening up your hair. This is critical, because a human hair can be as coarse as a copper wire. Some recommend when you condition your hair on your head, you should also do your face, but make sure you are not sensitive to it. I am a little and don’t do this. If a shower is not available, use hot wet wash cloths. Just put one on your face and lean back against a wall for a minute.

Next, apply your shave cream. Massage it in as best as you can (I assume you are using canned goo.)

Now, take a new razor (any will do) and holding onto it somewhat softly, shave WTG (with the grain) using absolutely no pressure (even if it feels like the razor is skipping over your beard). Get only two strokes before you wash the blade (I have a small cup of water to wash to save water) also, do not ever touch the razor to your face without shave cream in between. Ever. Shave only WTG on this first pass which for me is N-S on the cheeks, chin and neck. Then, apply another complete coat of shave cream. Then, take a similar approach going XTG (across the grain). For me, this is sideways, or E-W, W-E on cheeks and chin and some of the stash, then diagonal on the neck area. Again, NO PRESSURE. Your razor may still be skipping, this is ok. Finally, coat again with cream and go for the ATG (against the grain pass), again using no pressure… All these passes are called “reduction passes” because you are not trying to rush the shave, and not trying to get the most out of your strokes. OK… after your shave, rinse well with warm water and pat your face dry on a clean towel. Does your face feel tight and dry? Or is it ok? If tight, use a balm. One of the best and cheapest balms out there is Nivea Extra Sensitive (all white bottle w/ white cap). If not, use whatever you like. If you are burning, use your hydrocortisone at this point. Liberally. Don’t be afraid to really put it on thick. You will heal pretty quick with this stuff…

If you suffer a lot, here is what you need to think about when you shave again. 1) The angle. Ideally, you should be as flat to your face as possible with the blade angle. In other words, you should clip the hairs off instead of scraping them off. 2) You used too much pressure 3) You used too much pressure.. Get the point? It took me 10 conscientious shaves before I could say that I understood the correct pressure and angle….. The reason I recommend the night shave is that you may suffer some razor burns akin to your first shave with your momma’s leg razor in the shower at 14 years of age. The hydrocortisone and even some Neosprin will clear you up for the next day in all but the worst cases.

Once you figure out the beauty of the multiple pass reduction shave, and have your pre shave routine down pat, you may begin to notice that ingrowns are clearing up, and neck rash is starting to fade.

Now to get fancy. Equipment upgrades. In equipment, there are 4 major paths to cross.

1) Soaps/Creams

2) Brushes

3) Razors

4) Blades

These are two distinctly different products that end up attempting to do the same exact thing. All of these products, when used effectively will help to make your shaves more effective and more pleasurable. They can cost very little, or they can cost a lot. Many people begin to collect different items and end up with museums of shaving. This is not necessary though, unless you are that into it.

First the creams. Can give you a nice “cushioned and rich” shave. Characteristics of good shave soap or shave cream are richness of lather, moisturizing, lubrication for close shaving, and smelling good. What will strike you when comparing these to the “goo in a can” products is the great smell and great moisturizing effect of them. Creams essentially fall into classic types (English traditional scents like lavender, rose, citrus, etc) to exotic smells like white tea, vetvier, sandalwood, cucumber, cologne smells, etc. Classic brands of English creams are …Trumpers, Taylor’s or Trueffit and Hill( called the 3T’s), Salter, and a Art of Shaving …. There are also Italian shave creams like Proraso available at Target and some drug stores, Palmolive makes a cream (used to), Tom’s of Maine, Kiss my Face, and there are some others…. Many of these types are hit and miss with many. The English creams appear to be the standard to which all others are judged, but “to each his own”.

There are gentlemen who have gone to great lengths to make different kinds of creams available to shavers wanting to try out particular scents and styles. I ordered a sample pack from this guy, and everything was in order. He gives 6 X “5-10 shave each” samples of the best and most sought after creams for about 20 USD + shipping. You can then pick your favorite scent and product without making an ill informed decision. Shave creams are typically $8-12 for a tube and $20-30 for a tub. This stuff will last a long time, though probably less cost effective than soaps.

The Soaps are a bit more involved. There are two basic types of soaps…Classic triple milled hard soaps(and traditionally scented, similarly to creams), and glycerin based, which are newer and are often found with traditional and everything in between for scents, and often with aloe vera, vitamin E and shea butter….. Either way, the shave is thought to be “closer”, typically, with soaps, as opposed to creams. Soaps may also be more difficult to lather initially for the newly initiated. There are many different soap manufacturers. Besides the English cream companies, there are a lot of smaller “Soap houses”. A favorite of mine is Momma Bear Soaps. These are among the cheapest, and have every scent under the sun. A “puck” of soap will run you about 7-13 bucks and should last you 6 months. The scents again run from a classic rose or lavender to flavors like “Turkish coffee” or “Bay rum and Tangerine”.

It should be noted that many can have allergies to ingredients in soaps and creams. Try to “test” this fact out before plunging in on an investment. Essential oil based products (natural) will “typically” (YMMV) be less harsh than fragrance oil (synthetic) products, though they also typically cost more. Don’t let that scare you from trying though. Most don’t have any reaction.

A brush is necessary to create the lather, and to apply to your face. Very inexpensive and decent boar hair brushes can be had from drugstores or Target et al for $10…. For boar, it is almost a lifetime investment, so you need not fret over the cost. You will be making it up on the rest of your products. Later on, you may want to upgrade your brush to a badger, better lather performance, softer, more “luxurious” etc… That boar should do OK for a long time though.

Razors may seem like a huge part of the equation, but are not really. You could find an old style Gillette on ebay for 5-100 bucks, or a parker, feather, or Merkur, generally regarded as the “go to” razor for new purchases for razors. Made in Germany and of very good quality, they have different models and some models feature adjustable blade exposures and what not. They run anywhere from 20-120 dollars. The 25 dollar model or the HD will be the starter’s first choice. Merkur makes adjustable fancy models that should come when you want to splurge and reach out for greater performance. There are many good vendors. Among the best regarded are here, here, and here....

Next are blades. The issue and tricky part here falls under a very complex judgment call on the part of the user. What works for me, will unlikely work for you, unfortunately. Of the dozen or so Double edged (DE from here on) blade makers still around today, each has its own degree of sharpness and smoothness and depending on the person, may work out fine. Some people cannot tolerate an aggressively angled blade, it could take off more skin than hair.. Some cannot tolerate a “duller” blade, they might be scraping instead of shaving. Either way, there are standards that seem to include all skin types. The 5 best known and well regarded DE blades are as follows, in order of relative sharpness or aggressiveness.

1) Feather (Japanese made, fairly expensive, really, really sharp)

2) Gillette Swedish Made (Really really expensive, real sharp)

3) Derby Extra (real cheap, pretty darn Sharp)

4) Israeli made Personnas (sharp, somewhat inexpensive)

5) Merkur (neither particularly cheap, nor particularly sharp)

There are some very kind gentlemen that have gone to the trouble of making large purchases of these blades, and then repackaging and selling them in sample packs of 5 blades of each kind. Typically, you should work your way from dullest to sharpest, until you find your Nirvana, then stock up on your favorite blade. To make a point, I list the Swede’s as “expensive”, but that is only in comparison. If you bulk buy, you can get a Swede for about .50 USD each, and that is about ¼ or less the cost of a fusion cartridge.

Either way the blade sampler pack can be found here. I personally recommend this guy. He set me up quite well and does this for the love of shaving it would seem, as the cost is reasonable. Don’t make the mistake of buying cheap blades that you have not tried yet, nor “good ones” that you haven’t tried yet. The result could very well be the same.

Keep in mind, that for your first attempts at DE shaving, I would go with a drugstore pack of personnas to get your fundamental technique down, or else when you try the premium blades, the degree of effectiveness may be lost in your “learning curve”

I don’t mention aftershave, but as I mentioned, a tube of hydrocortisone, some Neosporin and an alcohol based or balm like Nivea Extra Sensitive (white cap) is all you need to start.

To sum it up.

1) Practice until you find your “Zen”.

2) Get a cheap brush, then get some soap or cream

3) Get a razor, then get some blades

4) Enjoy doing something that you will do almost every day for the rest of your life

Friday, February 09, 2007

Shaving all over again

I have been enthralled with learning new ways to shave. This has always been a struggle for me, sensitive skin, coarse hair, etc. I have been wet shaving my whole career, but apparently, doing it the wrong way. I ran across a couple of great blogs like this

Now I shave w/o irritation, and am really enjoying the morning ritual. there is a whole science to it.Also, they recommend old school DE blades and Gillette speedster type razors. one thing for sure, its a heck of a lot cheaper than the outrageous cartridge style mutiblade hyped products out there. There is a whole conspiracy theory out there about how companies purposely change the cutting head angle on last years model to make it "Worthless" then offer the new and more expensive models. So, I am doing it the way my Grandfather did, (and my uncle and Dad, though I think they are cartridge guys now), but maybe even going further with my boar brush (might upgrade to badger), DE blades and lime scented shaving soaps.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

my xmas/new years blog

Hi everyone! (haha, there are probably two people reading this thing!)

Xmas break is over and we are back in school. I thought i would give some details about our vacation. Karen's mom and the Manila clan was here in Baguio, we had a good time going to the "sights" of Baguio like Mine's View Park, Burnham park, SM, and all that.

Once I got my duty at school done, we joined Karen's family in Manila, by this time, her dad had arrived. For Karen's birthday, I got her an Ipod nano, in pink. We went to one of our favorite African/Middle Eastern restaurants in Manila, sat on pillows and ate. I found a funny picture of me in there so I put it in for chuckles. Xmas dinner was at the condo that Maria and Paul had rented for the week. lots of preperations were made and an astounding number of presents were laid out. Everyone arrived and we ate and drank and opened all the presents. I got a bunch of clothing (is there a hint in that?) and Karen got me an awesome Invicta watch. I got her a pair of earrings and a super thick bathrobe.

I got my cell phone pick-pocketed the day before x-mas in a grocery store. I truly don't like it in Manila. Not saying that something like that is commonplace, but we don't gt that in Baguio. (or at least on a much smaller scale)

Next, Karen and I went back home, followed by Paul and Maria. We then began the twisty scenic 7 hour bus ride to Sagada. We saw some real beautiful sights that the pictures do not do justice. The rice terraces are spectacular, whole mountains carved out in shelves for growing rice. We got to Segada that evening and found a clean quiet little mountain village. We walked into "town" and ate dinner at the Yogurt House. All the food was fabulous. Fresh produce, herbs and yogurt really made this place memorable.

The next day, we went out for an early breakfast, got a walking guide and set out on a four hour treck. We first crossed the city cemetary, which opened to a place called 'echo valley" (for obvious reasons) Across from where we were standing were the famous "Hanging Coffins" where people through ropes over rock formations and hang their coffins over the side of cliffs. We then set out across rice paddies to visit the waterfall area where we had a much needed cool off. We swam and relaxed there for a while before heading out to The cave with an underground river and cut our own bamboo walking sticks.We got back to our room, and after a quick nap, set out for dinner at the much anticipated "Log Cabin" where we were to be enthralled with the European cuisine, set menu (we needed reservations) and atmosphere. Well, the atmosphere was great, but the service was reminiscent of a cafeteria, dropping the food down in front of us within seconds of arriving, and the food, well lets say it left you "wanting". Flavor. We all had a good chuckle about that, went over to the Yogurt House and while they all had coffee and dessert, I had dinner again. (fabulous).

The next morning, the ladies got in room massages while the gents guy talked, we then had a quick bite for breakfast and set out to go back home to Baguio. That night we ate at the quickly becoming our favorite place "Le Petit Cafe" (other names are also available). Karens Mom and Dad left the next day after setting us up with some nice racks and shelving stuff, (we are in need of shelf space here).

The next day (New Years Eve), we went to San Fernando with our Persian friends and cooked/ate/swam and chilled out in our own little "resort" with a nice big pool area, BBQ and beach huts. We had a great time, got a little tipsy and really ate a lot of good food, mostly prepared by our favorite chef, Saeed. Al's new car seemed to fail him (by his standard) as he was not able to go the usual "ludicrous speed" ( that he is most comfortable driving. In all, we had a great time, and plan on making that a monthly endeavor. The whole cost for each person is somewhere around 20 bucks....

Anyways, that was about it, we missed our friends Ray, Grace and Kristina this trip (they went home for the holidays), but plan on getting back on the same page with them as quickly as possible.