Sunday, August 24, 2008

More Melody

Here are two pictures of Melody. For no special reason other than they've been sitting on my thumb drive for a while.

Uncyclopedia Article

I liked this Uncyclopedia Article. It is simple, and I found it funny. No more needs to be said.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Health Concerns

OK, I don't have dengue or tuberculosis. I had a fever for a week. If I had dengue, my platelet count would have been below 150,000 when the fever broke. When it did, it was 152,000, and still dropping.
So the doctor here said "Look, you don't have dengue, it's just a virus!"
WHOOOOOOPEEE! I still felt like crap. It sure felt like I had dengue. It took me at least a week or more afterwards to recover.

They took a chest x-ray, because I wasn't getting as much air from one lung as another. There was an abnormality in the upper portion of the x-ray, which seemed to indicate possible tuberculosis. So they took another one, and said the abnormalities were "artifactual". Which must mean that someone sneezed on the original x-ray, or they forgot to clean the lense.

I wish I could have been in Taiping, so that I could have Dr. Philip check me out. He's a first rate doctor. He would know exactly what was happening. Instead, I get the doctor at he hospital clinic who sees untold numbers of patients a day.

Well, at least I am still alive, and feeling better!

Monday, June 16, 2008

What Can You Say at a Time Like This?

There are times when you just don't know what to say. I'm talking about when a tragedy happens to a friend, and you know that there's nothing you can say that is going to make things any better. If you do say anything, you could make things much worse than saying nothing at all. But then you know you should say something, just because the person is a friend, and you want them to know that you care. So do you say something, and potentially ruin what may be a temporary peace in an emotional crucible, or stay quiet and have that person think that you don't care?

Here's the situation:

Trien wants me to write an e-mail to Jhuday (pronounced jew-die) the woman who introduced us.

The back story: Somehow, by the grace of God, I was able to get a teaching job in the Philippines, in Cebu. What I was doing was helping to get an English school catering to Koreans and Japanese started. Part of my duties included interviewing and hiring qualified teachers. Most of the applicants were young attractive females just out of college. One of them was Jhuday, who was a pretty, intelligent, bubbly, but somewhat flighty young woman of 22. I liked her, and was attracted to her, and it turned out the feeling was mutual. It seemed like there was the possibility of something more than a professional relationship. After a few weeks, I knew she still liked me, but was purposely pulling away from me.

Later I found out why. She had a crush on me, but figured I was too old for her. (I was 43 at the time). It was something I was thinking myself. You have to figure if both parties think the same thing, then it must be true.

She had a friend, a classmate in college, who was older than her. Jhuday had been able to finish her schooling. The friend, who was working fulltime, didn't have the money to continue. Jhuday had been talking to her friend about me, but her friend thought she was talking about someone else, another classmate of theirs.

Meanwhile, Jhuday talked highly of her classmate. Her friend was cute, intelligent, a good woman, and older. Then she seemed to have an epiphany, one of those moments when something so obvious occurs to you that you look like you've been slapped in the face with a brick:

"Why don't I give you her cellphone number, and you two can become text mates? You two would be perfect together!"

OK, OK, I had heard similar things before. I wasn't too excited about getting her friends number. I didn't go running around the room in joy and start making wedding plans. I didn't even bother contacting her friend until Jhuday asked me a few days later if I was going to text her friend. So I sent a text, not expecting much to come of it. Let it be said that the main reason I wasn't so hot on doing this was that I am without a doubt the worlds slowest texter. So we texted, and a lot of times her friend would fall asleep waiting for me to answer her text.

Eventually, though, my textmate and I met. How that came about, and what happened, is another story. Then we dated. Then we fell in Love. Then we decided to get married, had a baby . . .

As for Jhuday, it seems that she ended up finding a textmate of her own a year or so later, a friend of a friend up in Manila. Someone who had an epiphany, who thought they would be "perfect together". Eventually her and her textmate met, fell in love- and things went the way they were supposed to. They got married.

Jhuday got a job teaching on Santa Rosa, a little Island across from Mactan, which is made up mostly of nature preserve. Conditions there are primitive at best, a real hardship post, with no electricity at night, no internet connection, no telephones, etc.

We didn't know this. All we knew was that she seemed to have disappeared. Trien kept texting her and writing her e-mails, but didn't get any answer, so we were concerned. It seemed like she disappeared after she got married. Of course, my overactive imagination got the best of me, but I never said anything to my wife.

Finally Jhuday got back to civilization, checked her e-mail, and we got the good news. She was pregnant. Not only pregnant, but she was carrying twins!

Of course, we were happy for her. Especially since we had been hoping for twins ourselves.

Then she went back to Santa Rosa, and we didn't hear anything from her.

The due date was some time around the end of May, so Trien sent out another e-mail, to see how everything was going, and if she had the babies yet.

The answer tore at our hearts, considering what we had been through ourselves with our first two pregnancies. Even now, I am starting to get teary eyed when I think of her answer.

The babies died before she delivered them. They passed away sometime during the 35th week. There was something called "intertwin discordancy." She felt no movement in her womb, went in for an ultrasound, and the doctor told her they were both dead. Six days later they induced labor, and she had to see her two little lifeless hopes and dreams being taken away gray and lifeless.

Unless you've gone through something similar yourself, like we did, you can have no idea what that feels like. Trien and I have been through something a bit similar, and I still can't imagine how much worse it must be for Jhuday.

At least with us, it happened at the end of the first trimester the first time. The second time, we were advised to terminate the pregnancy about six to eight weeks into it. Still, it was hard. You'd think that you were OK with it, that emotionally everything was fine, then suddenly you'd find yourself sitting there crying for no reason.

People would say things to try to make you feel better, but sometimes you just wanted them to shut up and leave you alone. You would be nice and everything, but still, it would have been better to say nothing at all. The thing is, you know they meant no harm, just wanted to help, and you knew that if you were them, you'd be doing and saying the same things.

Trien and I have talked things over. We decided the best thing to do is not to mention anything about the tragedy. She has sent Jhuday an e-mail letting her know we are back in Cebu, and hoping that maybe we can get together, and hoping all is well.

What else can you do?

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

I'm Baaaaaaaack!

I went on hiatus from writing this Blog for a while, but I am back. The strange thing that happened was that after I took a sabbatical from posting, I actually got a lot more hits on it than I did when I was actually posting 20+ times a month. I'm still scratching my head as to why. Hopefully, those of you who are stopping by to check out my most popular posts:

"When Was Jesus Born"
"How to Make a High Contrast Baby Mobile"
"Melody Proves That Dunstan Baby Language Doesn't Work"
"My Wife's Big Boobies"

Will look around and see more that you like, and return to see the latest ramblings and rantings of maybe not a beautiful mind, but a decent looking one.

(This is Melody in a dress celebrating her
Chinese heritage. We are at the local pho bo stand
in Ho Chi Minh City. She is blowing raspberries at Daddy.)



Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Duane Allman's Gravestone Quote

Sometimes inspiration comes in the most unusual ways and from the most unlikely of places. We went to SM City in Cebu.

The late, great, Duane Allman

The wife was looking after Melody, who was busy smiling at everybody before taking a quick nap. So I wandered into the Power Bookstore. There in the half price section was a book on rock stars grave sites. As I was flipping through it, I came across the final resting place of my favorite guitar god, Duane Allman. On his gravestone is the following quote, which came from something he wrote:

"I love being alive and I will be the best man I possibly can. I will take love wherever I find it and offer it to everyone who will take it. . . seek knowledge from those wiser and teach those who wish to learn from me."

I thought that was a pretty cool philosophy, and garbled it pretty badly when I tried to share it with Trien on the v-hire ride back to Lapu-Lapu City. She liked the garbled version, but I knew that the real quote was much better. So I had to run off to the Internet cafe, look it up, and share it with the rest of the world.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The George Bush Episode of the Teletubbies

No, don't worry, we're never ever going to let Melody watch a single episode of the Teletubbies, because it will lead to serious mental impairment, and possible charges of abuse, later on in her life.

Speaking of having a serious mental impairment, I came across this George W. Bush episode of the Teletubbies. It has recently been confirmed that George W. gets all his daily briefings from the Teletubbies. Tinky Winky tells him about foreign policy, Po domestic policy, Dipsy energy, and Laa-Laa writes his speeches. That way, George is informed by people who are at the same intellectual level as him, and who he can relate to. Here is the evidence.

What did I tell you? The proof is there!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Local Hero

I came home from work one stifling hot afternoon. Despite being four degrees above the equator, Taiping is relatively mild compared to other places around here, because we get a lot of rain, usually have a nice breeze blowing, and are the foot of the mountains. This day, though, was especially hot, with none of the normal comforts of the local climate.

I was changing out of my clothes so that I could hop in the bathroom, pour water from the basin over myself, and take a "shower". All the windows slats were open to let in the breeze. Out of the window I saw the old Chinese Auntie from the ground floor sitting down in her garden.

We call her Auntie, one, to be polite, and two, because we have no idea what her real name is, because she doesn't speak any English or Malay. Nevertheless, she always waves hello at us, and once Trien's pregnancy started showing, Auntie would try her best to talk to her. She is old, with skin wrinkled like a crumpled paper bag, and dotted with age spots. She has a mole with huge hairs sprouting from it one at corner of her mouth, and kind, laughing blue eyes. Despite having great difficulty walking, she does her best to toddle around, and go to the store by herself.

She likes to tend her garden, which is around her apartment. There are some banana trees, and some various other tropical fruit trees. Sometimes Auntie walks around with a long pole trying to chase the monkeys away from her fruit trees. Other times, she gets one of her visitors, probably a son or grandson, to throw firecrackers at them. Still, they always come back. Also in her garden are some vegetables or herbs with long thin pointy leaves. Even Trien doesn't know what they are.

It was among these unknown plants that I saw her sitting when I glanced out the window. At first I thought she was just taking it easy. She is old, and it was very hot. Then I saw her laying back, and struggling. That's when I realized that she had fallen, or fainted, and couldn't get up. So I put my clothes back on.

"Baby, Auntie is in the garden and can't get up. I'm going downstairs to help her."

"Honey, What happened?"

"I don't know. She needs help."

I went downstairs, and Trien locked up and followed me to the garden.

It was even hotter down in Aunties garden than it was elsewhere. The plants seemed to intensify the heat and humidity. When I reached her, she was drenched in sweat.

She was trying to pull herself up by grabbing onto the thick roots of the plants, but didn't have the strength, and kept falling back. She laughed and smiled, and was saying something to me, but of course I couldn't understand her. I tried to help her up, but she had trouble finding her footing and kept slipping back.

I wasn't quite sure if she wanted to be helped up, if she just wanted to sit up to weed her garden, or if she really needed help. This was because as I tried to help her up, she still seemed to be trying to do some weeding, or to pick some plants. I told Trien that we needed someone to talk to her, so we could communicate, and find out what was really going on.

Trien kept an eye on her, while I walked around to the front of our building to see if any of the Chinese people were about to help out. That was not the case, so I decided to walk toward the Lake Gardens to see if there was anyone there.

Before I could get too far, a new compact car pulled up through the back gate of the apartment block across from ours, which is usually closed during week days. Out came a young lady. She seemed to be a student. She was young, just a bit chubby, but attractive.

I yelled across the fence at her to get her attention. She either didn't hear me, or pay any attention. So I shouted LOUDER.

"Excuse me!"

She turned around, right at the entrance to the building.

"Do you speak English?"

It was easy to see that she was wondering what this white guy was doing in the parking lot yelling at her. Of course, if I were her, I'd be wondering the same thing.

"The old lady across the way has fallen down, and can't get up. She doesn't speak any English. Could you come interpret so we know what she wants and what is wrong?"

"What old lady? I didn't know there was an old lady who lived there?"

"On the bottom floor. She is in the garden around the side with my wife."

She came trotting around the fence, and I pointed to where Trien was standing with Auntie. You could just barely see Auntie's head over the plants.

She ran right over to Auntie, bent over, and stated talking to her in Chinese, most likely Hokkien, which is the usual dialect around here. Auntie answered her, and was laughing again, but now it seemed that she was slightly embarrassed. The girl grabbed one arm, I grabbed the other, and we lifted Auntie to her feet. Auntie kept trying to pick some of the plants, and even offered us some, but we didn't know what to o with them. Her second concern was her hoe, which Trien picked up and carried for her. The girl and I helped her along, and when Auntie seemed to be steady, I let the girl carry Auntie to the porch in front of her sliding glass door, where she sat down.

After she sat down, Auntie touched her hands together and bowed to me, and said the only English words she knew, over and over:

"Thank you".

I nodded my head, and said you're welcome. I asked the girl if Auntie was OK, and she said she was OK, she suddenly felt weak and fell. I told the girl that it was too hot for Auntie to be working now, she should be inside resting. Auntie kept saying thank you for a couple more minutes. After we were sure she was OK, Trien and I went back inside.

After that, every time I went downstairs, Auntie would always smile. Sometimes she would get up and come to the door to say thank you.

Then one day Trien and I were walking back from town. Trien was already nine months pregnant, and looked it. There was an old Chinese woman bicycling back from town, maybe in her early to mid seventies. She could speak English fairly well, and she started talking to us, and asking us questions. Like how much we pay for our apartment, where are we from, when is the baby due, the standard stuff. Then she asked about what happened with Auntie, and I told her.

Then she told us about Auntie. Her children and grandchildren come around, but really don't pay her much mind. They come in and out all the time, but basically she is all alone. The church van picks her up on Sunday to go to the Chinese Methodist Church downtown, but other than that, nobody takes her out, so she slowly makes her way to the store.

The lady said Auntie was working in her garden, when she felt very weak and fell down. She didn't know what to do, because she was too weak to cry out, and there wasn't likely to be anyone around to see her and help her. That is, until I looked out the window.

When Auntie saw the three of us, she came out and we were able to communicate. Auntie was happy to be able to tell me how thankful she was that I helped her. Then the other lady started talking to some other people, telling them what happened.

The result? I have become known as the nice western guy who helped Auntie out, sort of like a local hero.

As a postscript to this episode:

Auntie found out from her friend that Trien was in the hospital waiting to deliver. Every day when I came home, she would be waiting to see if we were bringing Melody home. It took a week, but when we finally got out of the car with Melody that Thursday afternoon, Auntie came out with a big smile and was overjoyed to see the baby. She had to pinch her cheeks and made many comments in Chinese we couldn't understand. And , of course, she kept trying to talk to Trien. Auntie was so happy just to see the baby and to hold her for a second. You would have thought that she was the grandmother.

Now, She always looks to see if Trien or I are bringing the baby out. When she sees little Melody, her face brightens, and you can see the traces of young motherhood and its memories flicker across her face.

It doesn't take much to touch someone, and make a difference in their life.