Tuesday, February 21, 2012

If This Is X Then That's WHY!

I'm somewhat unprepared to blog, but I have to get this out there now before it's too late... I need to hurry home cuz I've got a girl back in the States. I've just always wanted to say that.

But looky here.  I need to take two planes to get back to the USA. Hold your hats folks, let the reading math problem begin. Plane A leaves at 6:10am. Plane B leaves at 12:30pm. There's actually a Plane C, but I didn't want to confuse you.

It's Tuesday where I am going. And Wednesday here where I currently am.It will still be Tuesday when I leave, but it will really be Wednesday. I've already completed Tuesday.

The first plane ride is 4 or 5 hours, I don't even know. It lands at 10:30am. Here's where it gets really tricky. Plane B also lands at 10:30am. Let me get this straight. BOTH planes land at the exact same time? Whoozeesaywha?? Today? As in Today? Or is it tomorrow? Or yesterday?

Wait, wait there's one more thing. Plane B takes off at 12:30pm and arrives at 10:30am. For those of you still trying to do the math, that's two hours before it leaves. Two hours before it leaves? It circumnavigates half the globe and arrives before it leaves? Arrives before it leaves? That's Why!  And you wonder why I HATE word problems.

Total trip time: I leave at 6am and arrive at 6pm. The same day. But I'm really leaving at 5pm on Tuesday and arriving at 6pm on Wednesday. Is that 12 or 24 hours? Neither? Well, it can't be both! Can anyone please tell me how many hours it will be before I see that afore mentioned girl in the States??

That's too much!

Monday, February 20, 2012

That's What SHE Said

That's it I have IT.  And like most ITs, I'm not even sure what IT is. She says mangoriadermitisfungusamongusism and she is trying to name it after me. I'm still not sure.

Earlier we discussed whether it could be the bacon. Or maybe I tried to pin it on that, she just listened. It appears from her diagnostic classification she has blamed the mango, which I also suspected, but more for the blog effect. I didn't really believe it.

It's a much better story to say the fruit that has caused me so much pleasure has also caused me, well, this incredible flushed, red, itchy rash all over my...get your mind out of the gutter...face, eyes, and ears. It's not that kind of rash.

Are you certain it's not the bacon? Doesn't the world revolve around Bacon? I've heard that some where, something about 6 degrees. I mean I've eaten a lot of it. 4.5 lbs, or rather 2.0411656650000003kg to be exact. Maybe my ears aren't swollen, just fat! Can bacon make your ears fat? Will a dog bite a pig's ear?

Either Or. Neither Neither. It's my last shot at mangoes so just pack my face in ice and don't look at me. Can't we blame the smog? The heat? They had that here and Bohol. Let's go with heat. It CAN'T be the fruit.

Uhoh. I just googled it. The peel of the mango can carry oils similar to poison ivy.  Here look at this:
A: Mango is in the same botanical family as poison ivy. The sap of the tree and the rind of the mango fruit contain urushiol, the oil that causes the poison ivy rash. The pulp of the mango fruit does not contain urushiol, so if someone is sensitive to poison ivy, they can have someone else peel the fruit for them and then they can eat the fruit without harm.

Are you seeing what I'm seeing?!?! Do you know how allergic I am to poison ivy?? Why didn't someone tell me this. Mom? Hello, Nurse Judy?? Bueller? Anyone? This is actually starting to sound familiar...

Would it be okay if I give up Mangoes for lent this year?? Unless of course you are willing to feed them to me?


Sunday, February 19, 2012

What a Difference A Bike Makes

Sitting here in my hotel room half a globe away from what I call home, I have found the meaning of life. I'm not surprised, it's why I came. I expected big things, and as you will find out in days to come, big things are happening. See, I'm a day ahead, so you just wait and be patient.

So here's the thing, Manila has it's moments of utter and complete grossness. Headaches, burning throat, itchy eyes, the cloud of doom swallowing the city. It's hard to deny the amount of smog here. Exercising is challenging on just about any day.  But look! On a less congested Sunday, things clear up.

Okay, so the traffic is a nightmare. I mean NIGHTMARE, DC lighten up! You don't know rush hour! The lines on the road, a suggestion. It takes forever to get anywhere. They actually regulate traffic by the number on your license plate, which just forces families to have two cars, odd and even.

The food...have I mentioned the bacon? I'm not sure how many vegetables I've consumed but I bet you can count on one hand. Cooked in fat. Sugar. Butter. Meat, greasy meat. The skin of pig. At all hours of the day. What?! Two hours have passed? Aren't you hungry??

So there's traffic, and not enough exercise, and cholestrol through the roof. No one is ever on time. Socialization takes place in text and fb. And yet these folks are just as healthy as can be. American guidelines be damned. They are living for years and years. I know, I've been hanging out with some cool old people.

Here's the key...they aren't stressed. About anything. The traffic, no big deal. Really, oh yeah, I guess it's smoggy. Let's go eat! They don't even know what LATE means. They just take everything as it comes. It must be the key to good living. And I believe that, it's what I've been striving for for years.

I think this answers the question I came here to solve. Excellent. I can come home now. Thanks.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Much Ado About Nothing

Life with Myrtle is fun. People like Myrtle. I like Myrtle. She has fans in Denver, California, Japan, P.A. and the 'Pines. She is slowly (she's a turtle after all) being recognized all over the globe.

At Peacock they had fun with her. At Peacock they had 'fun' with a lot of my things. They rearranged my toiletries. They picked up my room, lined up my shoes, folded my underwear. Guys, guys, please....

I had to pull out the TIED UP sign, and I wasn't quite sure what that meant exactly. I was a little nervous and slept with one eye open. This was a full service resort and it was part of the Philippines. Where, in Manila, they ride around in vans that say Massage R Us. (that's true)

So, in order to let the staff into my room to clean up my room, I had to first clean up my room. Like presoaking laundry. Rinsing dishes for the dishwasher. Basting before sewing (maybe that one is out of date). Do they still teach Home Ec in school? It came up the other day, I had no idea, but guessed not.

For the most part my stay at Peacock was de-light-full. The check out process, however, traumatic. I wasn't packed, not totally. But they were checking our bags for us at the airport so I had to send it a'fore me. Which I did. But my carry on was still in shambles on the bed and beyond.

The staff couldn't leave well enough alone. They were like vultures circling a decaying carcass. This one girl came in and kept picking up each individual item and holding it up to me saying, Maam? No. NO. NO! Please, just leave it. I am not planning to check each item individually. While that would make for a lighter bag, that would be a nightmare at baggage claim.

I have no idea if I left anything. I just wanted to get OUT. I scooped up all my belongings in my arms and shoved them in my pack. I didn't even scan the room for overlooked items. Just get me out of this swarm. There's polite nice and just pain in the ass nice. I'll let you figure out which one lives in the Philippines.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Night Rider

Again, I ride home with the kids after school; again we arrive in the dark. I can't imagine the time they get home on foot. Okay, maybe they are showing off a little for the special guests...

And therefore, maybe we had a minor accident on the way. I was overly eager to see every aspect of this amazing project, but really guys an accident is a little much. I am quite certain this was not on the itinerary. But I get the concept of needing insurance for the kids, kudos to Peacock for supplying it.

So as we waited with our injured biker one of the students picks up Bong's bike. He could lift it with one finger. This is one measurement that is consistent with the measurements in the States. The student's bike weights about 55 lbs. Bong's 5.

I'm pretty sure the kid wanted to ride it, but looked at it like an alien hybrid.  He couldn't find the shifters. I couldn't understand a bit of what they are saying, but I'm not stupid. And neither is he...

I watched him follow the cable, look under the handlebar, and push on the bolts.  Good thinking. I mean he did all the logical things before moving on to the crazy. As you can imagine the bolt trick didn't work. Everyone was laughing and there was more talking and discussing and rational thinking. Then came the irrational, from what I could gather.

Bong was clearly pulling his leg, although again, I have next to no idea what they are saying.  All I got was Bong saying, "FIRST GEAR!" I was rolling!  A voice activated shifter?!  This guy is genius!  And as I said, this fourth year is not stupid.  He shook his head and continued his search.

High, low, above, and beyond. He was flummoxed. Finally he shrugs his shoulders and shouts, "FOURTH GEAR!" And we all laughed so hard our sides hurt---even our wounded warrior, she was tough!

Bong, was right, it was a great Valentine's Day...we both had sooo many dates!

Monday, February 13, 2012


First let me say, these kids ROCK! Don't tell them but if they come over and start entering our races, they would so kick our butts! These are the fourth year students of Baclayon High School who received OUR old bikes from the DC area.

Yeah, those bikes. The ones we throw away, say don't work, and complain about the color. Well, these kids are rocking the pedals of those old 'junk' bikes. Through bogs of mud and rock gardens that put Gambrill to shame. The hills are sooo steeep...how steep are they?

I have no idea. I'm having trouble with the conversions over here. They keep telling me these kids receive bikes based on their distances from school.  They are given the bikes to help their commutes and ultimately keep them in school. This is a darn good thing because they keep telling me the distances are 3-5k.

Back in the States I thought that was about half the distance we usually measure things.  Like a Century ride is 100 miles, but you can do a Metric Century that is around the 60 mile range (100k). Well, I'm pretty certain it's the opposite here. When they say 5k they really mean something between 10-15 miles.  It HAS to be. It's definitely not 1.5 miles!  I am dying on these rides. (and I don't want to hear it's my age)

Meanwhile here comes G on his brand new old BMX bike (read ONE GEAR) flying past me up the hill. There I am on my borrowed Voodoo with 27 sweet gears, I ain't too proud to drop it into granny, and he pedals right past me like it's Highway 10.

It's not their fault. This is life in the Philippines. Where the people are shorter and the steps are steeper. The temperature is measured in Celsius and converts to really f*#%ing hot. I'm telling you  it doesn't compute. And don't even think about setting a time for a meeting. They're gonna be late. That's why they have cell phones. Oh, and let's not forget my 15 minutes of fame was probably closer to 15 hours. And it's all used up, thank you very much.

They blame the traffic, which believe it or not, in Manila is about 4 times worse than DC.  10 minutes easily become 30 or 40. Clearly, Verizon is run by Filipinos. Imagine sitting here waiting for a contractor to arrive...sometimes they show up tomorrow.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

LOST In Translation

Okay, okay, okay. I don't need to hear I told you so. But you did tell me. Today, for a brief, frozen moment in time, I thought I had been kidnapped. This is why I never wait.

It was a dark, rainy morn when our driver dropped us at the pier. There was an ununderstandable exchange between him and the old men of the sea before shuffling us toward an unseen boat far below my feet. At this point we were manhandled down some steep, slimy, slippery steps in complete and utter darkness onto our itty bitty boat.

What I understood was we were off to see dolphins; what I couldn't understand was where were 30 of my newest, closest friends supposed to sit?? I sure hope we are meeting them on a bigger boat and not ferrying to fetch them from another dock... If I knew any Tagalog, I know no Bisayan or Mindanaonese (great, now I'm making up words in other languages!), or whatever combination of vowels these guys were stringing together.

And off we went.  I have no idea what a knot or nautical mile looks or feels like, but I can assure you land was becoming a faint memory. There we were sputtering along in complete and utter darkness, I'm sorry have I mentioned that already? Well, there were moments of light as Captain Ahab, or Gwapo Ako, as he is known on FB, continually consults his high tech nautical equipment.  Let's just call that a compass, I don't think there is an equivalent English translation...basically a toy from a crackerjack box.

And we stop. In the middle of the ocean. Two men heatedly exchanging vowels and us not moving. My co-pilot knows enough to tell me, they are arguing. ABOUT WHAT!?!? "We drop them here!" "No we have way with them first!" "You take her!" My eyes dart across the horizon calculating the distance between me and the tiny dots of light in the distance. I think of home; I think I can make it.

"We're on the wrong boat" The wrong boat?!? (allow me to pause to say, sometimes I use italics because I need to, not because I want to...and I'm not trying to flaunt the ease at which I maneuver between the two....It's just sometimes necessary and sometimes desired...you try to figure it out). Back to the wrong boat.

The boat men were informed via cell phone (I know, but they really do come in a crackerjack box over here, that must be why everyone has one) the couple cancelled the trip because of the weather. As we, the wrong couple, sat stranded in the dark, in the rain, on the wrong boat.  They were not happy, but I was ecstatic...they're NOT pirates. I'm NOT kidnapped.  phew.

Saturday, February 11, 2012


Today I was out with the boys. The thing about riding with boys--well, there's a lot of things about riding with boys...

For instance, you can't just follow them off trail. Chances are they are meandering for a reason. To take care of other business. Business I don't need to be part of.

So as we were riding along and one darted right, I followed the 3 straight ahead naturally. Turns out I really didn't know where I was going, shocker! But for a change I have a pictorial map of my journey in my pocket. Caribou, rock, bamboo, Purok. And I was following the herd.

Finally, my phone rings. I struggle to retrieve it from my pack without losing my only tangible means back to civilization. They are the only link I have back to my world, and this blasted phone is putting a chink in my chain. Have you SEEN the trail; I can't ride and talk!

You're LOST!
I am not!
Where are you?
click. ring.
Ask one of the other guys
What other guys? I'm by myself.
By YOURSELF?!? Where are you??
Haven't we covered this one?
click. ring.
Put one of the guys on the phone...
Implied and covered, next question.

Will you PLEASE STOP CALLING ME! Or I really am going to be lost!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Not Too Close!

Well that's a bit of a flip. I found myself on the wrong side of a lens today. But look, I survived!

Let's start with early morning, when I decided it would be a good idea to google this 'cable station' we were about to be on. Turns out the translation, or my interpretation of it, was somehow skewed. This was less of your garden variety community access channel and more of a globally accessed 24 Hour satellite news operation. Entirely less Wayne, ALL World.

And yes, Mom, if you have the Filipino Channel at home, you could have seen me live on television.  Prime Time in the States to be exact. Oh, wow, I don't think I realized that until just now.

So we exchange our Licenses for All Access TV passes. Guards Everywhere, at the gate, inside the building, and yet once we got in, no escort. I poked my head around a little but clearly nothing for me to get into on this floor, except dimmer rooms and UPS...which are kind of important in TV.

So we head to the Peach Room. In case you aren't a fancy, important TV star none of them are typically Green. But the anchor himself, did come down and personally welcome us to the show, so that impressed me. Then Makeup....da da da....

Jo and I decided this was all about Joel. He's the main attraction, we were just the pips. We could stand behind shuffle our feet, snap our fingers, and croon shooby dooby doo.  Anything to keep me out of that Makeup chair!

In the end, I survived. We all did. Our phones were not ringing off the hook with kudos of our show as they had the night before on the radio program. Yeah, Man! (you probably had to be there). And we uneventfully went to Starbucks afterwards and not a single person asked for our autographs.  One small child ran up to us eagerly with an outstretched hand, but that's it.

15 Minutes...checked off the bucket list, as if it were even on it! Oh, and in case you were wondering, Yes I found my hat, but No I couldn't wear it on teevee. She actually handed me a brush...I don't have to think she was telling me something.  I looked at it like, what the heck is this?? Then I went mountain biking all done up and pretty.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

I've Misplaced Tuesday

I know this says Tuesday, but it's actually Wednesday. Phew. That was some trip. I left Monday, and arrived a Moron. I am bracing for a lot more of that. First, when we arrived at the hotel it looked quite under construction. Not a car in the parking lot, not a soul in the 'lobby'.

Turns out the lobby is on 5U, not the ground floor.  Not there by the main entrance. Really, no where in sight.  It's okay though because you have to be wanded before you can go in by some uniformed man who just magically appeared. I wish he had kept an eye on my hat because it vanished as soon as I arrived. DO YOU HEAR WHAT I AM SAYING...MY HAT VANISHED.  I am not sure how I can go on. This IS my security blanket.

Then there was the perfect English I don't quite understand. I mean, some of the words are twisted around but I shouldn't be struggling as much as I am. And if they told me how to get into my room....well I missed it.

I'm staying in a Best Western, you can see the door key in the picture.  This isn't foreign to me, I've stayed in a room before. My campsites don't require them, but I've stayed in a hotel once or twice.  Well, you'd never know it. Turns out this was a blessing, not getting into the room.  So the bell hop saved the day and got me in and he placed the card in this slot, which I didn't love because I'm going to forget it.

He neglected to mention that 'slot' powers the whole joint. No card, no juice.  Could someone PLEASE point out what I need to stick where in order to get HOT WATER.  Please, I ain't too clean to beg!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Super Sunday

Sometimes life just works. I mean I'm not one to turn away from a challenge.  I typically run headstrong into them. But bushwhacking is tiring and not always rewarding.

City riding is also fun but challenging. Your mind is consumed by everything around you, aggressive driving, absent signals, swinging doors... One errant thought and you're kissing pavement.

But every now and again, life throws you your own bike lane. A place to slow down, take in the sights, breathe in the air, watch a sailboat float across the water. A momentary reprieve from the hectic world of life.

It's a nice place to be. This Bike Lane. I do so enjoy it.  I need more of this Bike Lane. I could really get used to it.

Thursday, February 2, 2012


Oh my, that was painful. I went to the library today to get tax forms AND look for a book. That was a mistake. You should never go to the library to look for a book; stick with Amazon.

I recently discovered Erich Fromm. This guy is ancient history now, but I saw it on CSI  (and they say TeeVee can't teach you nothin). Having and Being and commercial storage space...  It was good stuff. I am definitely a be-er not a have-er.

So I thought I'd look in the used book section to see if I could find something.  Turns out you can't find a thing. It's really rather simple you could choose from a variety of options:  you could go by subject, title, author, alphabet, freaking dewey decimal, it IS a library after all.

I was shocked to find sitting on the edge of a shelf the very author I was there to see. Wasn't the right book, but hey! this must be the right section.  But... how... does... one... find.... anything?? I cry for help. The artifact behind the counter tells me it's a classic...look in Classic. Yeah, have you smelled this joint, pretty sure they are all Classics.

Uhm, yeah, okay, I know I just met the man but I'm pretty sure he's not a Hemmingway, Faulkner, or Gustav Flaubert. This dude is a philosopher, a sociologist, a psychologist...your Freuds, Hegels, like that. You do have sections, I see it on the index cards. If you've filed him in the Classics, you've made a mistake. No offense.

She went back to her book.  I went back to Sociology and exercised the tried and true...alphabetical by section. I just wasn't exactly sure where to look for him. I mean since he had just been tossed on a shelf sort of willy nilly like. Apparently a volunteer had also asked her where to file it and she waved, "over there". It wasn't in the space between Zimmerman and Pinker. Oh, I know.

I guess I shouldn't be surprised, a book person not overly adept in the social skillz. But I did expect a greater sense of knowledge with a panache to smother me with it. If they aren't going to encourage the reading, they really ought to give up the space.  I know next time I actually want something specific I'll hit up the interweb. I just type it in the box and Viola, Erich Fromm!

Might be a reason they shove the old books in the boiler room.  Isn't that where they make fire? Two words.  Kindle. Fire.