Saturday, February 28, 2015

Alrightreads: January & February



Last year, my friend/rival Oliver wrote a blog post about his failed attempt to read 100 books in a year that inspired me to try the same before pathetically failing myself.

This year he wrote about his more successful failed attempt that inspired me to try again and do it properly this time.

Maybe when I try again next year they'll even be proper, adult books with hardly any drawings at all.



Sunday, February 22, 2015

A whole new level of self-indulgence



I've reached that stage in our life's journey when occasional Facebook searches to see what past acquaintances are up to have started to carry a reasonable risk of showing these people with babies in their arms.

So far, it's generally been the people I would have least expected or hoped to take on that sort of responsibility in their lives, but five years is a long time and people can change. Just because, when I knew him, he'd do things like leave a half-eaten chicken in a bag in the corner of his bedroom for a week or two, wonder why he could hear the sound of pattering rain on a clear day, eventually realise it was the sound of feasting maggots, take care of the problem with a vacuum cleaner, then wonder why his living room was hosting more flies than usual that summer, doesn't necessarily mean he shouldn't be trusted to look after a living, breathing human being.

Since I'm only marginally above that level of incompetence myself, I won't have any photos of mewling, puking offspring to share with you for a good while yet (if ever). But I do have some photos of myself as a young child, courtesy of my Mum who scanned and emailed them for my wife to have a laugh at. And you thought this blog couldn't possibly get more onanistic - don't underestimate me again!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Davao: (My) life is here, so best get on with it



Travelling (some of) the world has taught me nothing. When I lived in Scotland for three years I lamented that I rarely bothered to see the country that was a damn sight more scenic than practically anywhere I've been since, and since I plonked myself in Davao City about two years ago I've similarly failed to do much in the way of sightseeing. I seem to mentally separate places I'm visiting from places I'm just living in, so don't need to bother.

But there have been certain weekends when I've been free from work obligations and felt the need to escape the flat, and have sought out some of what this place has to offer. There's really not much. Obviously there's plenty of surface area, and I see a lot of nice green from these vantage points, but as far as categorising and monetising this natural beauty with convenient package tours goes, this place is lagging behind its Southeast Asian neighbours. Then again, if I am going to be living here long term, I shouldn't use it up too fast.

After the last day out I finally have just about enough pictures to justify a blog post, so here are assorted Davao-based activities enjoyed over the last two years of my life. See me mildly age before your eyes like I'm in some kind of superficially intriguing Hollywood coming-of-age film.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Work in total lack of progress



I have tried to limit my thieving women reparations updates to the times I actually have news, and that hasn't been difficult when absolutely nothing is happening.

This weekend's efforts to get a word out of my Thai debtor (300,000 baht, about £6,500 at the time) felt like they were getting somewhere at the start. Dangerously free from work and willing to journey into that black hole again, I tracked down her new Facebook account and got a load of new contacts from her new job and new life to add to the old pile from the last time I was mad enough to do this. But by the end I was left back exactly where I was 18 months ago: blocked without a word of apology or explanation, despairing at the world and with no one to turn to but a small army of sympathetic souls in her sphere of influence who can at least type in passable English.

I'll try not to bother these innocent people too much, but they're the only resources I have. I'm not going to pay a demanding law firm or debt collector more than a third of the total owed, in a country where I get the feeling the justice system is less reliable and impartial than Korea's. Some people have blocked me already, I'm delighted to see - this is what they should all be doing, as well as reporting my borderline identity theft account to Facebook for good measure. This is insane behaviour. But I'm a man with a selfish mission and my quest for fair reparations won't be swayed by emotions like guilt, until I try to sleep at night and accidentally think about what I've done.

Do you think she's similarly troubled about what she's done? Don't be silly! She probably won't delete the account and run away from her old life this time, so you can pester her here if you want to be instantly blocked too, or just to advise her how to use privacy settings and not reveal everything about her life to people she might not want knowing these things. I would love to let her get on with her life and forget that aberration in my life ever happened, but forgetting about it isn't an option. This will relentlessly continue until I start to receive a trickle of the money back that paid off her family's urgent mortgage debts and children's appendectomies when they needed them (unless none of that was true), or until hired goons show up at my door to block me once and for all.

It's all been a bit morbidly depressing, so I was grateful to be lifted out of the darkness when I was shown a drawing my three-year-old niece had done featuring Tito Dave, Tita Jackie and herself. She hasn't even seen me for months, but I'm apparently still in her thoughts. That was nice. I think I've worked out which one is me.



Art by Eshen Basitao

Saturday, February 7, 2015

All hail the butiki


Pictured: Not actually a butiki. He'd never sit still like that


Butiki (house geckos) are an everyday sight in the Philippines, and an everyday annoyance for those locals and ex-pats who aren't as Zen and culturally tolerant as I am. lol

But seriously, finding one of these little guys in my kitchen every once in a while is one of the very few 'annoyances' that I'm actually able to enjoy as a quaint, exotic touch in my tropical life. I'm less forgiving of the loud karaoke, cat-calling, shameless public urination and other 'traditions' perpetrated by the more advanced species of local fauna outside that should really know better.

As we leave our bedroom's fifth floor suicide window open all the time, butikis are free to come and go as they please - scurrying along the wall, looking constantly on edge and presumably keeping down the mosquito population before returning to the outside world through the window or that imperceptible gap in the air conditioner we never use. It's unlikely that it's always the same lizard, but they are polite enough to stick to a one-in, one-out rota most of the time, which is appreciated.

That was the case until a couple of weeks ago anyway, when one of these 'visitors' broke the unspoken agreement (well, they don't speak English and I don't speak tuk-tuk-tuk-tuk-tuk, though I've given it a try) and set up shop as our unsolicited pet and neighbourhood pest controller for keeps. I don't have the heart to tell him he's not exactly welcome either. I bloody hope he's a he, I don't want to discover eggs in my slippers.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Is Sliding Doors the shittest film ever made?



Those are strong words, and while Peter Howitt's 1998 "rom" "com" may not be as morally objectionable as something like Triumph of the Will, nor as endearingly all-round inept as Troll 2, it's certainly the most offensive flick I've subjected myself to for a long time. But I can't say I wasn't warned.

Spoilers and overlong commentary for a 17-year-old film follow.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Hong Kongfidential



Like our last trip to Singapore that I couldn't tell you about either, the reason behind our recent visit to its spiritual sibling to the north must remain similarly under wraps because I say so. When you concede to make your home in a third world hellhole where nothing works, you have to escape back to civilisation every once in a while to get things done.

With the unpleasant business taken care of, we tried to make the most of our few days in Hong Kong, enjoying the nostalgically nippy subtropical winter before heading back into the relentless furnace. Remember when I used to visit places just because I wanted to see them? Those were the days.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

The BFG's B-sides



Twenty more unexciting entries from the dream journal. No attempts at psychoanalysis this time, I'll let the insanity speak for itself.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Best of 2014, Not from 2014



It's the end of another arbitrary year, as if you hadn't noticed, and an opportunity for pathetic blogs to beg for desperate clicks by publishing banal end-of-year lists of some things they are aware were broadly popular within the previous 12 months, without risking revealing too much about their individual taste and putting off the clickers with obscure choices.

This isn't one of those blogs. I'm not interested in your clicks or your opinions, and I don't much care whether something's new as long as it's new to me. I barely bothered to keep up with what the kids were into even when I was one, and now that I live in exile under the tyranny of an 800MB daily download limit, my entertainment options of late have been limited. It's been the year of the low-bandwidth BBC Radio 4 iPlayer and occasionally being spoiled by the fuzzy textures and barely legible text of 240p YouTube videos when my standard 144p isn't available.

So here's a list of things I can remember happening to like in 2014, which invariably weren't made this year. I did enjoy some things made this year too - some of them quite a lot - but what chance does a single year have to stand out among all those multiple decades that preceded it (depending on the medium)?

I was going to do this last year, but abandoned it because it seemed a bit like a pointless waste of time. You can judge whether that means I've grown or shrunk as a person over the past year. You can also let me know your anachronistic picks if you like, I do care a bit.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Thieving Bastards VII: You Didn't Seriously Do This Again?

 photo thieving7_zps739cfd8f.jpg


It's the festive season! Which means it's that time of year when a hiatus from work is forced upon me and I have to desperately seek ways to fill that void with even more tedious projects than the ones I'm financially compensated for and drive myself insane. Two years after I scoured the backwaters of the internet to find my plundered photos being used for nefarious purposes without my consent or credit given, I finally put myself through this again.