The Little Cat That No One Wanted

My Buddy

I never wanted a cat. I Never wanted the trouble of taking care of a pet. Then one day someone threw a little kitten into our yard. I heard meowing in the morning and thought nothing of it because there is always someone meowing around our place. In the evening the meowing was still going on so I decided that maybe it was coming from our property. I opened the front door and before I could step out he ran right up to me and looked me square in the face and said meow. It was evening so my wife put a box outside by the door and set some water and food inside of it. I told him to jump into the box and he did.

The next morning I did not expect him to still be there, but when I opened the door and looked down he was looking up at me. He said meow again. I guess he knew he was our cat.

We would borrow my mother-in-law's cat from time to time to hunt mice, but he was not much good at it. I had to find the mice and then drop him on top of them and most of the time even that was not enough to overcome his laziness. 

This new cat was good at hunting everything and needed no help or encouragement.

The thing that Butterscotch was best at was sleeping.

He would sleep on piles of junk:

on the washing machine:

 on my tools:

 on the new couch:

on the fridge:

 on the TV:

in my hat:

Sometimes he would have friends over for nap time:

Butterscotch hated bath time, but his buddy did not mind it much:

Butterscotch grew up to be big and beautiful:

He was only three years old when this photo was taken:

He was so healthy and strong, but then he suddenly became ill. The photo above was taken on his last day.

Every morning I would call him expecting that one morning he would not show up, but he always did. I was afraid someone would hurt him or that a jeepney would run him over and I would never see him again or know what happened to him. But he died with me. He took his last breath in my arms and I buried him in the place where he would often sit with me in our yard. I think of him every time I go out.

After Butterscotch died I had two dreams about him. In the first dream he was just sitting on the sidewalk looking very distinguished. In the second dream he was with the white cat, which had died a few months earlier. They were chasing each other around the house. They were having a lot of fun and knocking over all of the plants.  

I never wanted a cat before Butterscotch found us. 

Butterscotch was the first cat that I had ever taken care of in my adult life. He was a lot of fun to play with when he was a kitten, but I really did not know how to take care of him. I know now that allowing him to play with my feet was a mistake and I would not do this with a kitten today because I know that they carry that behavior into their adulthood when it is no longer cute or safe for your feet. I do not regret the playtime that we had though. 

When I was at home he was with me almost constantly and even slept at the foot of my bed. On cooler nights I would wake up with him squished under my back and pressed down into the mattress. I still don't know how he could take that, but that was what he liked to do to keep warm.  


Voting In The US 2020 Elections From Philippines

Voting In The US 2020 Elections From Philippines


From the US Embassy in Manila:
1.  Request Your Ballot:  Complete a new Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) at FVAP.gov.  You must complete a new FPCA after January 1, 2020 to ensure you receive a ballot for every federal election for which you are eligible throughout the 2020 election cycle.
The completion of the FPCA allows you to request absentee ballots for all elections for federal offices (President, U.S. Senate, and U.S. House of Representatives) including primaries and special elections during the calendar year in which it is submitted.  All FPCA forms that are correctly filled out and include a signature and date are accepted by all local election officials in all U.S. states and territories.  
You can use FVAP’s easy online assistant to walk you through the FPCA at FVAP.gov.  The online voting assistant will ask you questions specific to your state.  We encourage you to select the option for receiving your ballot electronically (by email, internet download, or fax, depending on your state) as this is the fastest way for you to get your ballot.  Include your email address on your FPCA to take advantage of the electronic ballot delivery option.  Return the FPCA to your election office per the instructions on the website.  FVAP.gov will tell you if your state accepts the FPCA by email, mail, or fax.  If you must mail your FPCA, please see below for mailing options. 
2.  Receive and Complete Your Ballot:  States are required to send out ballots 45 days before a regular election for federal office and states generally send out ballots at least 30 days before primary elections.  For most states, you can confirm your registration and ballot delivery online
3. Return Your Completed Ballot:  Some states allow you to return your completed ballot electronically and others do not.  If your state requires you to return paper voting forms or ballots to local election officials by mail, then you can do so free of charge at the U.S.
Embassy in Manila or the Consular Agency in Cebu.  Place your ballots in postage paid return envelopes or in envelopes bearing sufficient domestic U.S. postage, and address them to the relevant local election officials. 
You can also return your FPCA or ballot to your local election officials via international mail or professional courier service at your own expense. 
Researching the Candidates and Issues:  Online Resources.  Check out the FVAP links page for helpful resources that will aid your research of candidates and issues.  Non-partisan information about candidates, their voting records, and their positions on issues are widely available and easy to obtain on-line.  You can also read national and hometown newspapers on-line, or search the internet to locate articles and information.  For information about election dates and deadlines, subscribe to FVAP's Voting Alerts (vote@fvap.gov)  FVAP also shares Voting Alerts via Facebook (@DODFVAP)Twitter (@FVAP), and Instagram (@fvapgov)
Learn more at the Federal Voting Assistance Program's (FVAP) website, FVAP.gov.  If you have any questions about registering to vote overseas, please contact U.S. Embassy Manila's Voting Assistance Officer at +63-2-5301-2000 ext. 2567, or at VoteMANILA@state.gov

* I am not affiliated with the US Embassy. I am just a citizen of the US passing along information to other citizens of the US.


Advisory For Expats In the Philippines Who Have RH Negative Blood

Advisory For RH Negative Expats Living In The Philippines

In making your plans to relocate to the Philippines I doubt the subject of donor blood availability ever came up. It never crossed my mind. But it may be a factor for you to consider if you happen to be part of the 6% of the people on earth who have RH negative blood.

RH negative % of world population & Philippines population
click image for larger view

You may hear that 15% of the population are RH negative. That figure is generally for Western nations. The RH negative blood type represents about 1% of the population within Asia and less than 6% of the populations of most countries on the African continent. Therefore, only about 6% of the total world population are RH negative.

Only .33% of the Philippines’ population are RH negative. That figure equates to about 342,546 people. Persons having the AB- blood type can receive blood from all of them. 

The table below details who you can donate blood to or receive blood from based upon blood type:

click image for larger view

The figures below represent the number of people in the Philippines who can potentially donate blood to you given your RH negative status:

O-: 103,802 potential donors
A-: 207,603 potential donors
B-: 207,603 potential donors
AB-: 342,546 potential donors

The data in this article for RH negative statistics was taken from a wikipedia article on blood type distribution. There are some issues with the data that are pointed out within the article. It is likely that the proportion of RH negative distribution is lower than described, as missing data is from populations that have lower proportions of RH negative individuals than the 6% figure stated.

A hundred thousand potential donors may sound like a lot, but that is across the entire population of the Philippines. Even RH positive individuals may experience difficulties in obtaining suitable donor blood and as an RH negative person you have a fraction of their options available to you.
If you are RH negative and you do decide to relocate to the Philippines, then there are some steps that you might want to take just in case you ever need a blood transfusion:


December 26, 2019 Annular Solar Eclipse Visible In Philippines

December 26, 2019 Annular Solar Eclipse Visible In Philippines

The annular solar eclipse is predicted to begin across the Philippines at approximately 14:30 local time, but the partial eclipse will begin around 12:30 and last about three hours. Almost all of the Philippines will experience at least 50% coverage with the Visayas southward experiencing greater than 70% coverage. 

According to wikipedia, Sarangani and the southernmost shore of Davao Occidental are the only locations in the Philippines that shall experience an annular eclipse.

An annular eclipse happens when the moon is just a little too far away from the earth to completely blot out the sun. This creates a "ring of fire effect" around the perimeter of the moon.

It goes without saying that the farther south you are in the Philippines the more spectacular this solar eclipse will be for you.

WARNING: do not attempt to view any solar eclipse without proper eye protection. Check out these tips for safe eclipse viewing.

And if you miss this annular eclipse don't worry. On April 20, 2042 a TOTAL solar eclipse passes right through the center on the Philippines:

That will be a hugely spectacular event and I promise you that scientists and many other people will descend upon central Philippines to experience and document it. So get your eclipse glasses now before time runs out. We only have 22 years before the black out.

Update 12-26-2019

That was super boring.


Philippines Immigration Annual Report 2020

Philippines Immigration Annual Report 2020

All registered aliens living in the Philippines (except Temporary Visitor’s Visa holders or Tourist Visa holders) are required to report to an immigration office during the first 60 calendar days of the year. Annual Report 2020 (AR 2020) will be conducted from January 1 to February 29. Take note of any national or local holidays and weekends because immigration offices will be closed on those days (like January 1).

When you report you will be required to present your ACR-I card and passport and you may also be asked to submit copies of your card (front and back) and copies of your passport data page and visa stamp. I take copies of my wife's PSA stamped birth certificate, our PSA stamped marriage certificate.these are not listed as requirements for reporting, but there have been anecdotal stories of these and other items being requested. It is easy enough to just bring the copies and be prepared. It would also not hurt to bring along a copy of the receipt for the previous year's annual report.

Be sure to obtain an official receipt documenting payment of the Annual Report fee. These receipts are required when you renew your ACR-I card or have it replaced.

Check out the full guidelines for AR 2020 that include exceptions to personal appearance, locations for reporting and more. Also view the 2019 Directory of Transactions for a complete listing of Immigration offices and services available at each of them.

Have the exact amount of 310 PHP ready to pay to avoid any problems with making change.

You have previously executed your annual report at one immigration office and you are not able to do it at that same office this year or maybe you are just curious about visiting a different office. There is no problem with that. First check the 2019 Directory of Transactions to make sure that the Immigration office that you want to visit supports the annual reporting service.

When I went to a different location I had to fill out an information card like this one:

Notice on that second image that you will need a recent 2x2 photo (bring two just in case).

Media Uproar Over Vaping Illnesses And Deaths

Media Uproar Over Vaping Illnesses And Deaths

Update 12-22-2019

CDC is reporting that the results of a study published in the New England Medical Journal show that a likely major contributing factor of e-cigarette, or vaping, product use-associated lung injury (EVALI) is the addition of Vitamin E acetate to black market THC cartridges : 
Laboratory data support previous findings that vitamin E acetate is closely associated with EVALI.
  • This study analyzed samples from 51 EVALI cases from 16 states and a comparison group of samples from 99 healthy people for vitamin E acetate, plant oils, medium chain triglyceride (MCT) oil, coconut oil, petroleum distillates, and diluent terpenes.
  • Vitamin E acetate was identified in bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) fluid samples (fluid samples collected from the lungs) from 48 of the 51 EVALI patients, but not in the BAL fluid from the healthy comparison group.
This development potentially vindicates those who criticized media and politicians who rushed to judgment in calls to ban all vaping products in the wake of the outbreak of vaping related illnesses months ago. 

Please excuse the moralizing below. I just hate tobacco and I want you to break free.

I Understand Smokers Because I Used To Be One (Original Story Oct 2019)

I considered taking up pipe smoking a while back. What research exists seems to indicate that one bowl per day is associated with longer life span. Some researchers think that this might have something to do with a supposed stress relief factor involved with smoking pipe.

I decided against taking up the habit because habits tend to escalate.

Also, I could not find a decent supplier of pipe tobacco anywhere near where I live.

The above is a little insane to be thinking when you consider that I smoked when I was younger and now have decades of tobacco free living under my belt. Though it has been many years since I quit, still I suspect the big "C" whenever I feel a little pain in my chest.

I guess it is good for people to have vaping as a safer alternative than cigarettes when it comes to nicotine delivery. I personally have never had the inclination to try it. 

The best policy is to never put nicotine into your body to begin with, whether by cigarettes, vaping or otherwise. It's not smart and it's not cool, but stupid and greedy people wield a lot of influence and can create the illusion that it's all that and sexy too within the context of our Idiocracy world. I say this as a reformed pack-a-day Idiocrat.

Crocodile Tears Of The Main Stream Media

I view the present media drama over vaping illnesses and deaths to be insincere given that there is no media vocalization about the effects of cigarettes upon society at all. And this makes no sense at all because the negative impact of cigarettes upon society is far greater. If there was to be an uproar over cigarettes proportional to that over vaping in relation to the relative damage to society that each causes I suppose that there should have been media apocalypse by now. Instead, the de facto population control mechanism that cigarettes appear to be marches on and the corporate propaganda bullhorn that the media is continues to distract and distort.

Tobacco Is Mind Control 

When I refer to cigarettes as a "population control mechanism" I do not mean that cigarettes are used to reduce population. Tobacco is used to control behavior to the benefit of the tobacco companies. Many people who try tobacco for the first time become lifelong slaves to corporate tobacco. Do you disagree? Look at the millions of people who smoke themselves to death. Did they not start with that first puff? I have known several people who died of smoking related illnesses. They smoked up to the very last day of their lives.

Perhaps ironically, the lives of smokers are actually pretty long all things considered. Smoking only chops off the last ten years of their life expectancy, so many smokers live into their 60s, 70s, and beyond. Those final years are likely to be miserable and hard on a family's resources. The good thing is that you will be surrounded by understanding family members because it is highly likely that you passed on your smoking habit to many of them.

The average smoker will spend over $100,000 on tobacco over the course of their lifetime. This reality is harder on the lower-income (and no-income) individuals than anyone else. The kids may be hungry, with holes in their clothes and a whole host of deprivations - but mom and dad are never to be seen without a cigarette hanging from their lips.

That is mind control.

In contrast to reducing population, tobacco use is related (not causative) to the opposite. Tobacco users tend to have more children than non-smokers. And the children of tobacco users are more likely to grow up to be tobacco users than the children of non-tobacco users. See how insidious tobacco is? 

The fellow who commercialized tobacco use was an evil genius.

My advice is never to start. Stay away from smoking and vaping. They are nasty and expensive habits with no upside.

Pardon the digression and let's return to the media distraction.

The Facts About Smoking vs. Vaping

From the CDC's data on these recent vaping illnesses (as of this writing):
  • 530 cases
  • 7 deaths
  • Most cases have a history of using e-cigarette products containing THC
  • No cause has been determined
  • No specific product or substance has been determined to be a cause
The cause of these vaping related illnesses is not known at this time. There is "only" an association with vaping and also with vape products containing THC.

Another unknown is how long these disease states were in development.

Yet there have already been shrill cries to ban all vaping.

This is very odd indeed considering the truth we know and have known for decades about cigarettes.

Also from CDC data:
Cigarette smoking is responsible for more than 480,000 deaths per year in the United States, including more than 41,000 deaths resulting from secondhand smoke exposure. This is about one in five deaths annually, or 1,300 deaths every day.
There it is! A literal smoking gun.

Every single year almost 440,000 Americans commit suicide by tobacco.

And another 41,000 Americans are murdered by tobacco - murdered by a smoker who is committing suicide. Hey, here is an idea...let's ban bump stocks.

I may be wrong, but I think that the number of deaths from second hand vaping thus far in human history is somewhere near zero. Is that close to correct?

Why The Lynch-mob Mentality In Media Toward The Vape Industry? 

Don't get me wrong. I feel terrible for the people who got sick or died in connection with vaping. I feel for their families. It's a real tragedy. But the government and others are being total hypocrites considering their relative silence about cigarette related deaths and illnesses. 

Tobacco related illness is one of the greatest true calamities facing the United States and it is ongoing for decades. 

One source estimates that tobacco related illness costs more than $300 billion every year. It is well known that raising tobacco taxes and in turn the price of cigarettes has an inverse effect upon tobacco use. It seems that the government does not want fewer people to smoke given its, according to some, lax taxing strategy with tobacco. 

The US government rakes in close to $13 billion per year in tobacco taxes. But the taxes are only one factor. Politicians on both sides of the aisle are soaked in tobacco dollars in the form of campaign contributions. Could this be why taxation of tobacco is not more aggressive?

So who could be behind this big push to ban vaping? 

Who stands to benefit from banning vaping?

Who could that be?


Typhoon PHANFONE (URSULA) To Impact Philippines Christmas Eve

Typhoon PHANFONE (URSULA) To Impact Philippines Christmas Eve

Update December 25, 2019 04:30  

Phanfone has strengthened upon landfall in Samar. The storm now has sustained winds of 90 knots. Power has been out here for about an hour and the wind is roaring.

Update December 24, 2019 11:00  

U.S. Navy Joint Typhoon Warning Center
(not subject to copyright)

It's official. Phanfone is now a category 1 typhoon with max sustained winds of 70 knots. Phanfone is predicted to traverse the Philippines maintaining category 1 typhoon strength.

Update December 23, 2019 18:00  

U.S. Navy Joint Typhoon Warning Center
(not subject to copyright)

Phanfone, now designated as a tropical storm, is predicted to make landfall in southern Samar around 2 PM on December 24 with maximum sustained winds of about 60 knots.

Update December 22, 2019 06:30  

U.S. Navy Joint Typhoon Warning Center
(not subject to copyright)
Invest 98W is now designated as Tropical Depression 30 and is predicted to cross through central Philippines during the early morning hours of 24 December at category 1 strength.

Another Possible December Typhoon For Philippines (Invest 98W)

U.S. Navy Joint Typhoon Warning Center
(not subject to copyright)

Tropical disturbance Invest 98W may develop into a cyclone with the potential to affect the Philippine islands.

Tropical Cyclone Formation Alert issued by the Joint Typhoon Warning Center:
Presently, it is hazy and mostly cloudy with sporadic rainfall in the Western Visayas. 

We will definitely be keeping an eye on Invest 98W.

Star Wars Episode IX Review

Star Wars Episode IX

After living in the Philippines for a decade we finally made the big leap and went to see a movie: Star Wars Episode IX. I saw Episode IV (the very first one) over 40 years ago when it premiered in the US. I remember that the theater was not only packed, but the line stretched outside of the theater. It was a very big event. 

The Episode IX viewing we attended was the third showing for the very first day of release. There were maybe six people who came out of the auditorium before our show began and they were all one family. There may have been a dozen people in the theater with us during our show. The foyer was deserted when we exited the auditorium. The reason for the low turn out is due to this being a big mall in a small province. Personally, I like having the entire theater almost to ourselves with no crowds to wade through. I cannot see how this business model can be sustained for long.

It was a very pleasant experience. The theater was clean and new and the AC was set at the perfect temp. The buttered popcorn could have been a little more buttery and was a tad stale, but not too bad overall. The price of the film was good at 230PHP ($4.30), which is not bad for first day showing of a blockbuster.

We don't usually care about movies, but we made an exception for this one and it was very entertaining. The previous two films with Rey bored me to death, but this one broke with that tradition. I genuinely enjoyed watching Episode IX. It has been said that this third film will be the final one for Rey, but without giving away any spoilers, I doubt that.

The film did tip its hand to theories of the franchise being rooted in Gnostic teachings. Not once, but twice references were made to the "dyad" and in no subtle fashion.  Palpatine imagined himself to be the source, but alas...he was wrong. He was only another manifestation of the working of the force to balance light and dark.

The empires and orders that arise within the Star Wars universe are aberrations of the force. The force deals with them by emanating oppositional forces like the Jedi to restore balance. The Jedi lay down the power (of the force), while those like Vader and the Emperor desire to accumulate that power and use it to elevate themselves and rule others. The force could be seen as being non-sentient and simply reacting to the over accumulation of itself within individuals.

That is pure Gnostic philosophy. Incidentally, I disagree with it.



Pillsbury Pancake Warning!

Pillsbury Pancake Warning!

view our home-made pancakes from scratch recipe

I really love Pillsbury pancakes. They taste almost home made. That is, until the day they broke my heart. Do you see those pancakes in the photo above? I actually ate them. They were not bad tasting. They just look bad and they made a big sticky mess in the pan.

This had never happened before. I asked my wife what happened and she didn't know either. She just followed the directions.

And therein lies the problem.

This particular batch of pancakes, or whatever you want to call them, is the One-Step variety:

Little did we know that the supermarket had switched out the old reliable Original variety:

If you are not paying attention it is easy to confuse these two boxes.

The key to what went wrong lies in the instructions for what to add.

The original requires three additional ingredients:

milk/water, oil and an egg.

The One-Step only requires the addition of water or milk:

It does not matter if you use a nonstick pan coated in oil, because without the oil and egg in the mix those pancakes will still stick hard to the pan.

If you want to make a decent pancake you have to break a few eggs.

I know that we are not the only ones having this problem because every time we go back to the store there are fewer boxes of Original and more boxes of One-Step. And now we have been back several times and all they have is the One Step. 

No one wants to buy it because they bought it once and this happened:


We did try mixing egg and oil into the One-Step. It did not help a lot. Still way too sticky. something about the mix itself is different.

There are hidden messages in this post of great interest to foreign intelligence, but they will never find them because I am far too clever! 


Philippines' Dry Season Means Work

Philippines' Dry Season Means Work

OK, I'm calling it. Dry season is here. My wife tells me it is still a couple of months off, but I know that at this time of year it only drizzles. We already had our December good rain last week, so I doubt there will be another. So I have about five months now to get painting and other outside work done before the rain starts. I actually only have until the middle of February to finish up because in March I start an employment contract. I have already completed the grass, weed and debris cleanup for the acre that we manage, so now I just have a water tower to paint and a sidewalk to construct plus some minor plumbing and carpentry tasks.

The big task will be the construction of a concrete sidewalk from our place to Nanay's house. The white is existing concrete walkway and the red represents the 190 feet of 3-foot wide walk way that we need to build. I intend to use 9 mm rebar to reinforce the concrete and build it in 4-foot sections.

The next task will be the water tower that we have painted twice in ten years. I need to sand, rust convert, wash, prime and top-coat the 25-foot tower:

The old quick dry enamel is breaking down badly and the paint job will not wait for another rainy season to pass. 

I will update this boring post with drab photos and boring details as the work progresses.


Red Hot Holiday Peppers!

Red Hot Holiday Peppers! (In The Philippines)


I have been able to find most things that I loved in the USA here in the Philippines and for most of the things that I can't find there are pretty good substitutes.

Jalapenos are one of my favorite items that seem to be scarce in the Islands. Now, this is probably only true in places like the province where I live. I have been able to find various brands of canned jalapenos in the city and some were good and some were pretty far from good. In ten years of looking I have yet to find anyone growing fresh jalapenos in the Philippines, which seems crazy to me because the Philippines has perfect weather for them. 

I grew jalapenos in the states and every year we had literally buckets of juicy fat jalapenos of superb quality. They start off green, but eventually they turn red. They also sweeten a bit when they redden. The general lore is that, whether red or green, the more whitish/brown streaks the jalapenos have down the side the hotter they are. I have found that to be virtually true.

A row of our jalapenos in USA

Here is a closeup of the bottom two plants:


You can see that those tiny plants are stuffed with fat green peppers.

In the markets I would see the little peppers like the one in the image above and I would always ask people if they were hot. Always the vendors would reply, "hindi," so I never bought them. Then I figured out that there was a miscommunication. People in the Philippines think that these peppers are not hot due to the difference between the way they consume them and the way in which I like to eat them.

Filipinos use one or two of these peppers in soup. After cooking the peppers a good while the heat is gone.

I like to eat them fresh and just bite right into them. Eaten this way you experience the full heat. The heat varies from none to #$@! and averages right around the typical Serrano and probably a bit hotter than the average jalapeno.  I believe that these particular peppers might be Thai chilies. They have papery skin and are nowhere near as appetizing  as juicy jalapenos.

We also have of "siling labuyo" growing around our place. They are called "bird's eye" peppers and they are about the size of a fingernail. Siling labuyo can be extremely hot. I do not prefer them because they do not taste good sometimes. The chickens do love to eat them though. 

I have heard rumors of "sili mataba" also known as red jalapeno, but I have never seen them here.

We recently visited the market and I could not resist overbuying the peppers because they looked so good and fresh. To avoid letting them go to waste I decided to do a quick pickle prep.

So I chop up the peppers:

Add some garlic and a pinch of salt:

Pack the chopped peppers, garlic and salt into a jar filled with vinegar:


Wait about two weeks:


But I doubt they will last two weeks.

Update 12-15 

The peppers are very good, but my wife has forbidden me to open the jar at the dinner table ever again.

Update 12-22

None of the peppers were able to make it to the two week point, but they definitely get better with time. They plump up and the skin softens. I intend to reuse the vinegar for the next batch and eventually it will be super hot.