Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Wiped out

My wife has been sick at home with a fever for two days and I have a bad feeling I've got it too. Not the greatest timing but then again, it never is. On the plus side, our new imac should be arriving today after FEDEX botched the delivery over the last two days. Apple, to their credit, refunded me the $65 shipping charge since this machine will be arriving as late as it will. This will be my first mac and I'm looking forward to it. Our old HP has worked like a horse for the last few years but is clearly nearing the end. Should be fun, hopefully.

Pic is of my latest watch, an old Russian model from 1938. Works well now, after my jeweler tinkered with it for a while. Big thing though but still interestinig.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

My Co-worker's office

The reason blogging has been light lately is that my co-worker retired after almost 30 years on the job. Until we hire his replacement, free time is hard to come by. His office looks great though now that the cleaners are done with it.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

I think we are going to keep the old place

After spending the day cruising around Long Island looking at houses, I think we have decided to stay put. Between the aggravation of moving, the length of my commute, and the costs , I'm just not sure it is worth it. Right now, we have to use private schools for our two kids. The tuition cost is quite high but my son has only four more years to go before high school (public specialized schools are still good here). It is true that moving would save us the tuition costs but the increased taxes (easily triple what they are in NYC), the costs of running a second car, and the monthly price of the Long Island Rail Road ($300) reduce those savings by half. It just doesn't seem worth it to me, especially since we are really very comfortable where we are. Hopefully, this issue has been put to bed now.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Glorious Day in NYC

Bright and sunny. Feels like spring outside :)

Monday, March 06, 2006

What an American would call a motorcycle with a side car, Filipinos call a tricycle. They are everywhere, serving as the local equivalent of the taxi. It is not uncommon to see four or five people, all without helmets, riding one down the highway.

Need a truck but only have a bicycle. No problem. Bicycles with sidecars for passengers, cargo or both are all over the place. These examples are pretty tame but many are loaded to the hilt with everything imaginable.

In the US we have busses. In the Philippines, the Jeepney is used (along with conventional busses as well of course). Picture a stretched jeep capable of holding 15-20 people any you get the idea. These owners of these vehicles are seemingly trying to out do each other in garishness. Virtually all of them are loudly decorated.

Filipinos are the ultimate road warriors. If there is a way to make it roll, they will find it. In the shot above, a scene out of the middle ages. The animal is the local equivalent of an ox pulling a peddler's cart down the highway. We saw several of these during out trip so I assume they are not uncommon.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Culture shock. We have all heard anecdotal stories about third world poverty. Let me tell you, what we hear is the smallest tip of the proverbial iceberg. I have never seen deprivation like this in the States. Sure, we have our run-down neighborhoods and other problems but nothing I have encountered even remotely compares to the state of poverty in the Philippines. I don't know what, if anything, can be done to ameliorate these conditions but it is clear that some new thinking is needed and needed now. In the shots above, you see some of the country's numerous shantytowns. They are literally everywhere, by the dozens if not hundreds, throughout metro Manila and the surrounding countryside. Whole towns appear to be made of corrugated sheet metal, plywood, plastic sheeting and whatever else can be found. The pic below is a shot of someone's shack, again a common site. The low picture quality is not merely the result of the Treo's crappy camera. A big part of the problem is the clouds of smoke all around me from open cooking fires. The people that I was touring the country with had become so used to these sights that they barely seemed to notice them. I couldn't help but stare.

Chickens. It doesn't matter where you are in the Philippines. Somewhere within 100 feet of you, there is a chicken. For whatever else they are worth, they have largely eliminated the need for an alarm clock in this country.

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