Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Beers I've Tasted in Germany While on My Vacation There

Beers I've Tasted in Germany While on My Vacation There
Being just a domestic beer drinker and not a big one at that, the cheaper the beer, the better for my budget. How’s a 36 pack of Tecate, Budweiser, or Miller’s Genuine Draft for $19.99 sound? Well, that’s the kind of beer I drink in the U.S. So when I found the opportunity to visit friends in Germany which is known for its beers, I decided to try as many as I can while I was there and hoped my liver survived the taste tests.

First, let me tell you I don’t know from bad beer to good. Being originally from the Philippines, I’ve had San Miguel of course, and Red Horse which is more of a malt liquor. Years ago, the Philippines also imported Carsltrom beer, so I’ve tried that too.

If I remember correctly, the first one I tried was in Hannover and it was a Czech beer – the original Budweiser Budvar, which my friend Emy’s son Michael offered me at his home. It was definitely a lot more full bodied than the U.S. Budweiser, and to my untrained taste, more hoppy. Unfortunately, I forgot to take a photo of it.

Bitburger & Berliner from the hotel vending machine
The next couple of beers I tried came out of a hotel vending machine in Berlin, which was a total surprise for me. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that in the U.S., but then I don’t go out much. The first one was Bitburger which I brought up to my hotel room, but couldn’t open because I didn’t have a bottle opener. So I went back down to the lobby and asked the desk attendant where to find one. It turns out, it was attached to the vending machine with a string. I asked if it was okay to open the beer bottle in the lobby and the attendant said, it was no big deal because beer is just like water in Germany. I brought the beer back to my room and drank it while eating a piece of cake that I bought from the KaDeWe store earlier. Well, that Bitburger didn’t quite hit the spot so I went for a second bottle which was a Berliner. The vending machine had those two beer choices with alcohol and two which were alcohol free. My impression of the Bitburger and Berliner was that they had more taste than my cheap domestic beer.

Erdinger
While still in Berlin, we stopped by some kind of street fair where I tried Erdinger beer with my first bratwurst. I ordered the smallest possible glass which was 1/3 liter since I didn’t want to be walking around town in a tipsy state. While at the fair, we met a couple of young Mexicans (bf & gf) who were travelling all over Europe, and talked with them for more than two hours.

Weihenstephan
The next day, we had time to kill after visiting an Anne Frank exhibit and while waiting for our train to Hamburg, so we stopped by a beer house and I ordered Weihenstephan dark beer. Half a liter this time.

Tsingtao from a Chinese Restaurant

Becks (the only beer this hotel had)

In the hotel in Hamburg the next day, I didn’t see a vending machine, so I approached the desk clerk to ask if they sold beer. The only one they had was Becks, which the internet says is a beer from Bremen. My tongue can’t really detect the subtle differences been the beers I’ve tried so far, but I felt that each one had a different finish. Oh, I had forgotten that we had dinner at a Chinese restaurant near the hotel and I had Tsingtao beer. I don’t know if it was my tongue, but it tasted a little bland after all the German beers I had so far, even though Tsingtao was once considered one of the better beers in the world.
Paulaner - the taste changes from tongue to swallow
When we returned to Hannover, we stopped by a grocery store before going home and bought a bottle of Paulaner and Grevensteiner. The Paulaner really took me for a loop. When I took the first sip, it tasted like any other beer, but upon swallowing, the taste changed to somewhat sour/sweet. And this happened on every sip.

Grevensteiner
The next day, we tried the Grevensteiner and that was probably the most full bodied beer I tasted while I was there. Somewhat like San Miguel but without the pungent follow through. Emy said this was her favorite beer.

Hofbrau Munchen
After shopping for curtains and other fixtures for my friend’s new apartment the next day, we went to have dinner at Hofbrauhaus Munchen. Their main brewery and beer house was in Munich and we were at the Hannover branch. I tried a half pint of their dark house beer, while Michael had 2 (!) pints of the pilsner. Needless to say, he was quite tipsy but still with faculties intact by the time we left the Hofbrau. We ended up sleeping at his apartment since Emy had trouble driving in the dark and couldn’t make it back home.

Hutt Luxus Pilsner
I left for Kassel the next day and upon arriving, was taken by Bernadette and her husband Wolfgang to see the Hercules monument, after which we went to lunch. With the currywurst, I ordered the house and local beer called Hutt Luxus Pilsner, which didn’t come with Jabba. However, the heavy lunch made me feel like Jabba the Hutt afterwards.

Oettinger lime beer

Schofferhofer lemon beer
At dinnertime, Wolfgang brought out a couple of low alcohol citrus beers named Oettinger Radler and Shoefferhofer Zitrone. Very tasty, kinda like what my cousin used to mix back in my college days which she called shandygaff – half beer and half 7-Up.

Einbecher
I was picked up by Liza’s husband Sven the next day and was driven to his home. There Mama Becca was waiting and we had lunch. Along with lunch came yet another beer called Eibecher. I had two bottles which is normally my limit for a day. But, this was not an ordinary day.

Fritzlarer samplers
We hanged out in the backyard, then had early dinner, after which we went to visit a very old town, so old that the buildings were leaning against each other to maintain stability. After visiting the town, my hosts which now included Irene and her husband Matthias, decide to go to a local Hofbrauhaus. I finally found what I was hoping for: a sampler of 4 glasses of Fritzlarer with 11 ounces each of the house beer, a wheat beer, a dark beer, and a summer seasonal beer. I sipped slowly trying to detect the subtle differences. I finished half of each before going around again to finish the second half. By this time, I thought I’d be drunk as a skunk as I have exceeded my daily drink limit by at least 2. But surprisingly, I was still able to walk straight and touch my nose with each hand with my eyes closed. So, my companions didn’t have to carry me back home after all.

Veltins

I left Kassel the next day and headed by train to Bremen which airport I was supposed to depart from the following day. I checked into the Holiday Inn Express, walked to the airport to scout it so I would be familiar with it the next day, then found a Chinese restaurant across the airport where I had a light dinner with a half pint of Veltins.


Krombacher
I stopped by McDonalds and ordered an apple strudel to go which I took back to the hotel. I stopped by the bar and asked the bartender if they had any bottles of beer I can buy to take back to my room, and she said, I can take the mug that they had, and thus had my last beer in Germany, a half pint of Krombacher drank with apple strudel from McDonald’s.

I bought this from Trader Joe's after I got back to the U.S.
Having developed a taste for German beer, the American beer I drank upon returning back home tasted very bland, so I checked the internet and found that some of the beers I drank in Germany were sold at specialty wine/beer/liquor stores like Total Wine and BevMo. I did find a 6 pack of Henninger at Trader Joe for $5.99 so I bought it. The first can tasted bland but the second tasted more German, so I’d say it wasn’t bad. I also saw a 4 pack of Bitburger for $4.99, but I think I’ll go to Total Wine next time because they are selling a 4 pack sampler of Paulaner for about $10, you know, the one that changes taste from tip of the tongue to swallow.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Germany – The Adventure of the Last Two Days (Part 3) Paris to San Francisco to Los Angeles

Shackled in Germany
I had requested the customer service attendant for an aisle seat.  Unfortunately the only seat available was a middle one, so I was sandwiched between an Armenian lady on the aisle side and a Greek man who liked to manspread on the window side. However they were very pleasant people so it wasn’t a difficult trip in that regard. The Armenian lady noted that at least I was good natured about missing my connection. And I said that’s because I couldn’t really do anything about it since it was beyond my control. The flight felt longer than it was and despite watching a couple of movies and imbibing two glasses of wine, I couldn’t sleep. So when I started feeling antsy because I don’t like sitting for long periods of time, I got up and hanged out near the galley for a couple of hours. It was then when I noticed the difference between the other airlines I had flown with and Air France. Air France had a pretty much unlimited supply of snacks and drinks that they just left in their two galleys in coach class for any passenger to partake in and one particular woman kept coming back for more. That kind of perk was indeed very nice for coach class.
Gaming area in Charles de Gaulle Airport
When we landed in San Francisco, we went to the baggage claim area, but since I wasn’t sure if my baggage was going to be transferred by Air France to Delta, I asked customer service and the man said yes. So I proceeded to Customs and asked the officer to direct me to my connecting flight. He did, but asked me first where I was coming from. I told him about how I missed my flight to L.A., and he said that I should wait for my baggage because it would not be forwarded to L.A. Thank goodness that customs officer gave me the correct information which was not part of his job, and was very nice because some of them can be surly. I found my baggage and went through the same officer and thanked him profusely. Much to my surprise, even though the zipper of the front pocket of my checked baggage was slightly open, none of my belongings were missing!

I proceeded to my proper domestic terminal, checked in the correct baggage this time, then went through TSA inspection again. Oh boy, it looked like the majority of TSA agents I saw in that terminal were Filipinos!

The 55 minute flight to L.A. was uneventful, however it was already 10 p.m. when we arrived. My original arrival time if I hadn’t missed my connection would have been about 3 p.m. We went to baggage claim again and it took a while for mine to appear. As soon as I picked it up, I exited the building and started looking for the Prime Time Shuttle stop. The first lectern I found had no agent and a note directed me to the next stop. Upon getting there, there was no agent either but there was a touch screen computer which asked me to enter my reservation number or phone number. The computer system did not find me. I found Super Shuttle and the next van happened to be going to my direction, so I boarded it even though I had to pay again because the Prime Time reservation was prepaid. There were only three stops but I was the last one, and by the time I got home it was already 11:30 at night. It had been a very arduous trip that lasted almost a day and a half, but I was very relieved to make it back home with me and my luggage intact and safe. All it took were trains, a car, planes, and a van to reach my final destination.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Germany – The Adventure of the Last Two Days (Part 2) Bremen to Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport

Airplane sculpture in park across Bremen Flughafen

The next day was my flight back home to Los Angeles by way of Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris. I checked out of the Holiday Inn Express, dragged my 2 suitcases to the airport and checked in one of them, then took a stroll in the terminal with my carry on bag. Suddenly, I realized that I had experienced at senior moment when I noticed that I checked the wrong bag! The bag I checked had my clean clothes, medications, personal items, laptop, and U.S. cellphone. The electronics were in the front pocket which was not locked. I walked back to the counter and asked the ground attendant if it was still possible to recall the luggage. She said it was too late. So I was resigned to the possibility that some of my items in that bag would get lost. In the meantime, the bag I had with me had dirty clothes and candy. But it also had a small container of pepper spray and a big bottle of body wash, both of which I had to throw away because it didn’t meet the carry on security requirements.

After going through security, I entered the waiting area and looked at the plane schedule which indicated that my flight was on time. The Air France app on my phone indicated the same thing. However, I didn’t see a plane parked at the ramp and we kept waiting for an announcement which never came. A few people including me went to talk to the Air France HOP agent and she told us that the plane was delayed at least half an hour due to technical problems. I told her about my connecting flight to L.A. which was supposed to leave an hour after my supposed arrival time in Charles de Gaulle. She told me those connecting flights are often delayed too. That didn’t make me feel any better though. Having experienced how long it took to transfer from one terminal to the next in CGD, I again resigned myself to missing my flight to L.A.
Sand sculpture depicting summer vacation in Bremen Flughafen

Our flight from Bremen to Paris was delayed an hour and sure enough, as we arrived in CDG, I saw the final boarding notice for my flight. It took a while before the shuttle bus transporting us from one terminal to another arrived and when it did, the driver drove at what seemed like 5 MPH. When we got off, I walked as fast as I could but when I got to the gate, it was already closed for boarding. It was too bad that I had left my Superman cape behind in California. It would have been useful to at least fly from one terminal to the next, if not from Germany to L.A.

 I was directed towards the Air France customer service desk, and after a short wait, I went to talk to the ground attendant who seemed to have a permanent smile on her face. I told her that it must be tiring to keep her smile several hours a day, and she told me she was already used to it, having worked in that position for 15 years.

She gave me two options: there was a flight in about an hour leaving for San Francisco, and from there, I would board a Delta flight to Los Angeles. Or wait till the next day for a direct flight to LAX and the airline would help me with accommodations in Paris. I took the first option, gave the lady a fist bump for her help, and was soon boarding the flight to SFO. Thus ended the second leg of this adventure.
My last beer in Germany the night before leaving (with apple strudel from McDonald's)

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Germany – The Adventure of the Last Two Days (Part 1) Kassel to Bremen

View from Kassel's Hercules monument



Did you know that it costs a Euro to use the WC/toilette/bathroom in a train station? Well, anyway…
My last couple of days in Germany was quite an adventure due to unforeseen circumstances. What should have been an uneventful train ride from Kassel to Bremen turned out to be otherwise. Taking the taxi from my friend Bernadette’s house, it was easy enough to find the correct platform from the eingang (entrance), the correct train number, and the correct seat (platz) reservation on the Deutch Bahn ICE train (an express train) because the bahnhof (train station) in Kassel was small enough. Hauptbahnhofs or Grand Central Stations were more confusing for me because of numerous platforms and floors. Next, the train was delayed and instead of arriving at the original platform in front of me, it arrived at the one behind me. Fortunately I had been talking to a woman minutes before, who happened to work for Deutsch Bahn, who told me about the change. When we got going, sometime in the middle of the trip, there was an announcement that we would be getting off at Hannover Hauptbahnhof to transfer to a regional train which has more stops. Initially, we were informed that it would be the regional train on track 11, but as we were about to get off, another announcement in German said we would be taking the train from track 12 instead. Fortunately, some Germans nearby translated to announcement for me, and I told one of them that I would be following her and her kids. However, they stopped by a snack shop to buy some food. Being in unfamiliar situations and the thought of being lost especially in a foreign country gives me high anxiety. I told my friend Emy about that before I left for Germany and that my life was in her hands when I got there.
Beer tasting near Kassel
I then proceeded to track 12, looked at the posted schedule, and it turned out that the train that was waiting at the track was the one I was supposed to take. I entered it and asked a gentleman if I was on the right train and he said that I was. However, I didn’t have a seat reservation on this one even though I had a reservation on the original train. The same gentleman told me that reserved seats were indicated by an LED sign just above the seat. Fortunately, the immediate area I was in had a vacant one.

When we arrived in Bremen Hauptbahnhof, I looked for the ausgang (exit) towards the front of the building and started looking for the taxi stand. I found a taxi easily and told the driver I wanted to go to the Holiday Inn Express near Bremen Flughafen (airport). He said “no problem”. A few short miles later, I arrived at my destination for the day. I checked in and explored the area so I could easily find my way to the airport the next day. It was only about a block away by U.S. standards. I found a Chinese food restaurant, ate a light dinner, then found myself buying an apple strudel in McDonalds which I took back to the hotel and ate it in my room with yet another mug of beer which the bartender downstairs allowed me to take. And thus ended the first day.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Oil Change Fiasco and Resolution


A few weeks ago, I found a coupon in my snail mail mailbox offering discounts for car services. One of them was an oil change for $14.95 plus a free tire rotation, which was a very good deal. Other coupons I’ve seen were offering it for $29.99. A few days later, I went to the shop and requested the oil change while I presented the coupon. The service advisor proceeded to tell me that I needed to fill out an application form for a new credit card and membership to Goodyear. I told him, I didn’t need any more credit cards so I walked out of the deal.

I went for a run and when I returned home, I decided to call the phone number listed on the coupon. The person who answered said she was new so she didn’t know the answer, and that someone who knew will call me back. A few minutes later, a gentleman who identified himself as the regional manager informed me that the service advisor was mistaken and that I wasn’t required to fill out an application. He said he would be happy to set up an appointment for me because they wanted to retain me as a customer. I told him I was no longer available that day and that I might return in a few days.

A few days later, I went back at 7:30 a.m. because the store’s website said that they were open at that time. It took another 30 minutes before somebody showed up to open the shop even though another guy who was apparently one of their mechanics was also waiting for the guy who had the keys. That was another strike against them.

After a few minutes of getting set up, they were finally ready to help me. The service advisor whom I talked with a few days earlier was the same person I talked with that day and I told him about my communication with the regional manager. He said he remembered me and that he was aware of it and he apologized for his mistake. I thought I heard him say that the oil change and tire rotation were going to be done for free, but being hard of hearing at times, I thought I just misheard him.

So I went for a run while the service was being done and near the end of the run, my cell phone rang and the call was from the shop. Unfortunately, I was not in a good signal area so call couldn’t connect. When I finished my run and went back to the shop, the advisor met me and talked about a list of repair recommendations. I pointed out to me what needed to be done, because apparently, they also did a complete inspection of the car.
Certified Tire Mechanic Recommendations:
Leaking cooling system hoses. Parts 69 + 8 + labor 70 = 147
Fuel filter = 94
Fuel system tune up = 150
Rear brakes = 60 + 110 = 170
Trailing arm bush broken. Parts 94 x2 = 188 + 420 (for what?) = 608
Grand Total = $1169

I declined their offer to have the repairs done then and there. They finished the paperwork, had me sign it, and I was soon out of there. But not before I learned that there really was no charge! It was their way of making up for the mistake they made a few days before. In customer service parlance, this is called a “service recovery”. So for that, good job Certified Tire Center! Incidentally, I had an oil change done there 2 years ago and I gave them 5 stars on their website for not giving any recommendations and just did the oil change I requested. This time though there was a little bit of gentle pressure to have the repairs done, which I of course declined. Because of their service recovery, I again gave them 5 stars on their website with a more detailed explanation on why. In the meantime, I shall be taking their recommendations to my own mechanic for him to check out to see if they were really warranted. If so, my mechanic charges lesser than the chain stores. But thanks for the free oil change, tire rotation, and overall inspection.

Two weeks hence, I opened up my car hood (I had to open the manual to find out, LOL!), inspected the fluid levels, which seemed ok, checked the hoses and belts, also ok, but of course with an untrained eye. I also looked up on the internet what a trailing arm bush is and how to repair it. The parts were much lesser than what the mechanic quoted and I’m sure my mechanic doesn’t charge $420 for the labor. I may wait until after I return from my vacation in June to have that done, and in the meantime, I hope my car doesn’t fall apart. Considering it is 19 years old, it hasn’t given me any major problems and I’ve been lucky so far.

I just finished pricing the car on the Kelly Blue Book website and it said that if I sell to a private party, I may be able to get $1633 for it because it’s in good condition. If I trade it in for a new car, I may get from $769 to $1164 for it. Oh my, those amounts are pretty close to what my repair costs would have been! However I cannot afford to buy a new car so repairs it is, and hopefully my mechanic doesn’t charge an arm and a leg.

 Follow up: I looked up the symptoms of a failing trailing arm bushing at this website and I have not detected any of them in my car, so it may be another upsell from the service advisor: https://www.yourmechanic.com/article/symptoms-of-bad-or-failing-trailing-arm-bushings

Sunday, February 12, 2017

GPS Watches Review: Soleus SG100 and Garmin Forerunner 25


          Comparisons between these two brands have been written about ad nauseam as evidenced by a Google search, however, allow me to put in my two cents' worth, if you please.
          In the middle of 2016, the rubberized button of my previous decade’s Garmin Forerunner finally melted to the point where I couldn’t turn it on anymore. So I researched and looked for a replacement GPS watch on the internet and came upon a brand called Soleus. I had seen the brand before and I think they even sold it in Kohl’s Department stores. They were cheap as far as GPS watches go and I found the most basic Soleus SG100 on Ebay for $35. $35???!!! I don’t run much anymore so I don’t need a device with fancy schmancy bells and whistles, just something to measure time, distance, and pace.
          When the product arrived, I set it up, had it connect to the GPS satellites, which it did within about 30 seconds, then read the instructions. I took it out for a run a few days later and it seemed to function pretty well. What I had a hard time remembering was how to save the workout and turn off the GPS. It was months later when I finally figured it out somewhat (press the buttons in a counter clockwise direction). For the first few runs, I trusted the device like I used to trust my old GPS watches, but one time I plugged in the numbers in an online pace calculator and the Soleus measured about 30 seconds slower on the pace. I did that several more times with similar results. I emailed Soleus customer service and the response I got was basically when I stop running and turn the timer off, the device will continue measuring another 1/10th of a mile, resulting in the discrepancy between watch measurement of pace and the online pace calculator. So after every use of the Soleus, I would recheck the pace online and log the online pace in my exercise log instead. So Soleus: low price, lousy pace calculator. I don’t know if their higher end devices are any better.
          I wasn’t planning on buying another GPS watch anytime soon, but somebody gave me a $10 Amazon gift card for Christmas so on to the website I went and found a Garmin 25 for about $93, so the gift card took care of the taxes and the shipping was free. When I received the device, I set it up as usual and found that it was more intuitive or maybe I was more intuitive to its functions. It even had a step counter and a sleep tracker to boot. And it was much less bulkier than my 2 previous Garmins and it connected to the satellites much quicker.
          I tested it on a run and it tracked distance and pace as expected and after comparing it to the online calculator, the results were exactly alike. At last! Charging it via the USB plug launched a setup screen, I downloaded the software and signed up on the Garmin Express website. On my initial login, the system updated the software and as a result, also deleted my first run. Fortunately I had already written it in my exercise log. Subsequent logins and even a change in computers automatically recorded my workouts.
          One day, I was going to do my workout on the recumbent bike and I had a thought. Since the Garmin had a step counter, why not strap it to my ankle and see if counts how many pedals I did. Indeed it did. It counted about 4000 steps on one leg so that probably means I did 8000 pedals in a 45 minute workout. I’ve been strapping the device to my ankle ever since while doing a recumbent bike, spin bike, stairmaster, or treadmill walk workout at home. I hope that’s not considered cheating because I’m still doing an activity after all.
          All in all, I’m quite satisfied with the Garmin because it meets my needs. I have no idea what to do with the Soleus though.
          Oh, I forgot. The Garmin has an interval run/walk timer while the Soleus does not.
Here's an update: I finally downloaded the Soleus Sync software, signed up with Strava, and uploaded my runs to that website. First, I didn't recognize the last 2 runs that were uploaded because I was already using the Garmin by then, and it was a faster pace than what I'm capable of. The rest of the log showed the elapsed time of my runs were always a few seconds shorter than my actual time. For example, an hour run showed 59:49 and a 50 minute run showed 49:54. So in addition to the inaccurate pace, the watch logged some ghost workouts, and inaccurate time as well. How does that happen? And did you notice the photo above? How can the Soleus say it's March 14th when it's just February 11th, and I hadn't made any adjustments to it since I last used it? So I guess, buyer beware and read those ad nauseam reviews first.

Monday, January 2, 2017

SEMI-RETIREMENT IN 2017?


HAPPY NEW YEAR and HAPPY NEW STATUS!!! After working since 1980 as a behavior specialist, behavior analyst, behavioral health worker, substance abuse technician, mental health worker, caregiver, and now a relief intake coordinator/behavioral health worker, I have decided to cut down on my work hours and try my hand at semi-retirement. Prior to that, I was a physical fitness instructor in the Philippines for 2 years. If anyone is counting, that would be 38 years of working full time except for a brief 6 month stint of being unemployed after being laid off in 2013.

Why just semi-retirement and not full retirement? Well, there's this thing called medical, dental, and vision insurance that I still need from something called a job, and I am reducing my work hours to the most minimum required to still obtain the insurance benefits, although I have to pay more for them. By the way, if it at all matters, I'm 59 and a half years old and 5 and a half years away from qualifying for Medicare.

Since November 2016, I had been considering cutting back on my work hours. Our full time schedule calls for three 12 hour shifts a week, and in the past 5 months, I particularly, had been assigned to work 2 nights a week on the psych units as a behavioral health worker with the patients, and 1 night a week as a relief intake coordinator in an office (which pays slightly more). I had been waiting to see how much of a pay increase I would get which I found out at the end of November. It was decent enough so I started calculating my monthly expenses against my possible income based on the lesser working hours, taking into account the taxes which would be taken out automatically from my paycheck. Based on this, I figured I might be able to survive with still a little leeway for unforeseen expenses, without dipping into my retirement nest egg.

Finally, a month ago, I emailed my Nurse Manager with a request to change my status from full time to part time, effective New Year's Day 2017. My last shift working full time was New Year's Eve.

I haven't figured out what to do with my free time between nights off yet and that's something I'll have to ponder. I've been having insomnia lately so maybe I'll be able to maintain better sleep patterns. Whatever happens in semi-retirement, it's going to be a new journey.
New Year's Eve at work

Sunday, August 14, 2016

My Amazing New Tech Discoveries


          That doesn't mean I discovered the products, but rather I found out about them later than sooner because they have been around for a few years. Out of certain necessities, my discoveries are of FreedomPop cell phone service and the MagicJack Android app.
          For the past 15 to 20 years, I've used prepaid cell phone service from Virgin Mobile and AT&T with no data plan and each call and text message cost a few cents. Since I hardly use my cell phone for calling and messaging, it has worked well for me so far, specially that Virgin Mobile only cost me $20 every three months and AT&T, not much more at $25, as long as I didn't use all of those credits within the three months. I mostly use MajicJack on my home computer to make phone calls (more on this later).

          I signed up for Freedompop maybe last year or earlier this year but never used their service, but finally bought a refurbished phone from them about 2 months ago. However, after activating the phone, I just let it sit unused. Finally last week, after almost draining my credits with AT&T due to more text messages than usual, I tried the LG Volt 2 phone I bought from FreedomPop. By signing up for their service, I get 200 minutes of free calls a month, along with 500 free(!) text messages, and also for free - 500 megabytes of data on 4G LTE! I know, I know, those are paltry numbers for a lot of people who mainly use their cell phones for calls, messaging, the internet, and social media, but for me who uses wi-fi most of the time, those paltry numbers are more than enough. And did I already say that it's free? To save on data, I downloaded Facebook Lite and set it to only show low resolution photos which didn't seem to make too much difference to look at on a small phone as compared to  high resolution photos. What helps a lot is that the 4G LTE only kicks in when I'm out of wi-fi range (I wasn't aware of this before because I never had a data plan). I'm not sure if I'll actually be able to use all of the 500 megabytes of free data in a month, but it doesn't roll over to the next month, but that's ok because, didn't I already say it's free? Ha Ha Ha! Besides I don't intend to use that data to surf the internet, maybe just for social media and email. I used this free data a few days ago by checking in my location 3 times on Facebook while out for a run. So if anyone of you saw those check ins, that's the reason why. Not that I will, but if I wanted to, I can also now play Pokemon Go out of the confines of wi-fi, LOL! I read it only consumes about 10 megabytes per hour.


          Ok, so much for FreedomPop. Now my MagicJack which I've been using as my VoIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) phone for the last 5 years or so for only $20 a year for unlimited calls within the U.S. and Canada. This the reason why I've saved so much by using my prepaid cell phone sparingly for calls.
          Last week, the MagicJack app on my computer stopped downloading my contact list, but I considered that a minor inconvenience. Then today, I couldn't connect to the service despite trying the usual solutions like restarting the app, disconnecting and reconnecting the dongle, or rebooting the computer. Awhile ago, I had seen that they had an Android app, but I never downloaded it. Since I couldn't connect to the service via computer, I decided to read more about the Android app. Turns out, if you are already a subscriber to MagicJack, you can use the Android app for no added cost to make calls via wi-fi. So I downloaded it and gave it a spin. Hmm, very interesting. I entered my username and password and it immediately identified me and my VoIP phone number. I made a phone call to another area code and to my surprise (I don't know why), it connected flawlessly. Yay! In case I can't connect via my PC ever again, at least I have a back up. Not only that, the Android app also allows me to send and receive free text messages as long as I'm on wi-fi of course. I also tested that by texting from my prepaid cell phone to the FreedomPop phone and vice versa. No problem.
          So I just finished testing something else just a few moments ago. I turned off the wi-fi on the phone with the MagicJack Android app to see what would happen if I sent a text message to it with the wi-fi off. Lo and behold, the message was waiting for me after I reconnected to the wi-fi!
          Small technological conveniences like these still keep amazing me. I can't wait for teleportation so I don't have to drive to and from work or fly to and from other places for vacation! Good times!

My Amazing New Tech Discoveries


          That doesn't mean I discovered the products, but rather I found out about them later than sooner because they have been around for a few years. Out of certain necessities, my discoveries are of FreedomPop cell phone service and the MagicJack Android app.
          For the past 15 to 20 years, I've used prepaid cell phone service from Virgin Mobile and AT&T with no data plan and each call and text message cost a few cents. Since I hardly use my cell phone for calling and messaging, it has worked well for me so far, specially that Virgin Mobile only cost me $20 every three months and AT&T, not much more at $25, as long as I didn't use all of those credits within the three months. I mostly use MajicJack on my home computer to make phone calls (more on this later).

          I signed up for Freedompop maybe last year or earlier this year but never used their service, but finally bought a refurbished phone from them about 2 months ago. However, after activating the phone, I just let it sit unused. Finally last week, after almost draining my credits with AT&T due to more text messages than usual, I tried the LG Volt 2 phone I bought from FreedomPop. By signing up for their service, I get 200 minutes of free calls a month, along with 500 free(!) text messages, and also for free - 500 megabytes of data on 4G LTE! I know, I know, those are paltry numbers for a lot of people who mainly use their cell phones for calls, messaging, the internet, and social media, but for me who uses wi-fi most of the time, those paltry numbers are more than enough. And did I already say that it's free? To save on data, I downloaded Facebook Lite and set it to only show low resolution photos which didn't seem to make too much difference to look at on a small phone as compared to  high resolution photos. What helps a lot is that the 4G LTE only kicks in when I'm out of wi-fi range (I wasn't aware of this before because I never had a data plan). I'm not sure if I'll actually be able to use all of the 500 megabytes of free data in a month, but it doesn't roll over to the next month, but that's ok because, didn't I already say it's free? Ha Ha Ha! Besides I don't intend to use that data to surf the internet, maybe just for social media and email. I used this free data a few days ago by checking in my location 3 times on Facebook while out for a run. So if anyone of you saw those check ins, that's the reason why. Not that I will, but if I wanted to, I can also now play Pokemon Go out of the confines of wi-fi, LOL! I read it only consumes about 10 megabytes per hour.


          Ok, so much for FreedomPop. Now my MagicJack which I've been using as my VoIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) phone for the last 5 years or so for only $20 a year for unlimited calls within the U.S. and Canada. This the reason why I've saved so much by using my prepaid cell phone sparingly for calls.
          Last week, the MagicJack app on my computer stopped downloading my contact list, but I considered that a minor inconvenience. Then today, I couldn't connect to the service despite trying the usual solutions like restarting the app, disconnecting and reconnecting the dongle, or rebooting the computer. Awhile ago, I had seen that they had an Android app, but I never downloaded it. Since I couldn't connect to the service via computer, I decided to read more about the Android app. Turns out, if you are already a subscriber to MagicJack, you can use the Android app for no added cost to make calls via wi-fi. So I downloaded it and gave it a spin. Hmm, very interesting. I entered my username and password and it immediately identified me and my VoIP phone number. I made a phone call to another area code and to my surprise (I don't know why), it connected flawlessly. Yay! In case I can't connect via my PC ever again, at least I have a back up. Not only that, the Android app also allows me to send and receive free text messages as long as I'm on wi-fi of course. I also tested that by texting from my prepaid cell phone to the FreedomPop phone and vice versa. No problem.
          So I just finished testing something else just a few moments ago. I turned off the wi-fi on the phone with the MagicJack Android app to see what would happen if I sent a text message to it with the wi-fi off. Lo and behold, the message was waiting for me after I reconnected to the wi-fi!
          Small technological conveniences like these still keep amazing me. I can't wait for teleportation so I don't have to drive to and from work or fly to and from other places for vacation! Good times!

Thursday, June 23, 2016

A Blog About Running...Again

Long Beach City College - Veterans Memorial Stadium
About 3 weeks ago, I shared on social media that I did my longest run in years when I managed to finish an hour and 12 minutes which covered 6 miles and a pace of 12:01 minutes per mile. That was a proud moment for me since I haven't been able to run in recent years due to my permanent ankle injuries made worst by myalgia or pain on both my thighs caused by cholesterol medications. This often resulted in strained thigh muscles whenever I tried to run longer or if I increased my pace. My doctor has since discontinued my cholesterol medication for the past 3 months and prescribed the over the counter supplement called Omega 3-6-9 complex. We are going to re-evaluate this strategy on my next physical exam this coming October. As a result, my pain in my thighs have diminished. I can't do anything about the PTTD (posterior tibial tendon dysfunction) in my ankles because they are permanent injuries other than limiting my mileage and not try to push off my ankles to pick up the pace. Thus, I've had to make changes in my stride which makes it feel unnatural for me, namely, shortening it and keeping my feet lower to the ground to lessen the impact. Anyone who has run with me in the past know how noisy my natural stride is. Maybe nowadays they won't hear it as much due to the stride adjustment and the cushioned shoes. This has enabled me to run about twice a week the past couple of months with lots of recovery days in between runs. To take care of my thighs, I've been using a rolling pin to massage them and it seems to help.
Running at the Dominguez Gap
I haven't written about running in a while, years even maybe. Neither have I shared restarting it because I hate to jinx myself by getting reinjured and stopping again. But here I am writing about it and hoping that I can stay consistent without getting injured, even if it means just running twice a week.
I also reconnected with my former running partner Katherine, a neighbor whom I used to train for marathons with years ago. We have been running once a week from her house to Veterans Memorial Stadium in Long Beach City College. She would do repeats on the stadium steps while I jogged around the track, and the last time we were there, I managed to do 8 repetitions of walking up and down the steps. We were going to do the same thing today (June 23rd) but when we got there, a sign was posted saying that the stadium and track would be closed for maintenance and renovation for the next two months.

Katherine suggested that we run all the way to the Campfire Girls Lodge on the corner of Carson Street and Los Coyotes Diagonal. I said "what!?" my legs can't take me that far and still run back home! I said, why don't we try making it to the next intersection first (Clark Avenue) and then the next one, and the next one, then I'll tell her if I give up and ask to turn around. Well, we made it all the way to the lodge in 50 minutes so that meant that we had at least another 50 minutes of running to get back home, and I was already plodding before that. Remember, my longest run was an hour and 12 minutes and that really exhausted me. Oh my, what have I gotten myself into? With Katherine pulling me and me willing myself to reach the next intersection with hopes that we would hit a stop light, I kept plodding along which felt like I was running about a 12:30 per mile pace. A couple of weeks prior, I did a solo run which covered 5 miles at a pace of 11:31 and that was really pushing it based on my reduced stride and aerobic capacity.

I finally told Katherine that I was going to stop running when we reach an hour and a half then walk back the rest of the way, while she kept on running. When my watch ticked 1:30, I started walking and Katherine was nice enough to walk with me the rest of the way. After 12 minutes of walking, we made it back to her house. My goodness, that was only 2 minutes over our anticipated finishing time of 1:40! Did we manage a negative split up to the one hour and 30 minute mark despite what felt like a much slower pace going back home? Katherine said it was a 9 mile out and back course so I entered our time and distance on a running calculator and it spit out the results: 11:20 minutes per mile pace. What!? That even included the last 12 minutes of walking in the equation.

After the 1:12 run several weeks ago, my next goal would have been 1:15 or 1:20 to see if my legs hold up, so it was a shock to the system to go 1:30 suddenly. Hours after the run, my legs still feel ok although I expect them to be sore for a few days. I'll be doing the rolling pin massage as soon as I finish typing this. Wish me luck with hopes that I may be able to continue doing this exercise without further catastrophic injuries. This mainly means practicing self control because I tend to overdo it, hahaha!

BTW, Katherine can still probably push an 8:00 to 8:30 pace if she wanted to, so I was really thankful for her running ahead and pulling me all the way and talking to keep my mind off my heavy legs and heavy breathing :D

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Trying The Most Affordable Amazon Fire Tablet


Well I bought this Amazon Fire tablet which is on sale at Best Buy this week (June 12 to 18, and also at Amazon.com) for $39.99 because my Windows 10 laptop could no longer connect to the wi-fi at work. Sure I could still connect with my Android phone, 2012 Nexus 7 tablet,  and 4 year old Asus Transformer, but the phone is too small to type with and the tablets aren't too responsive anymore or at all. For the price, what have I got to lose, right?
I've been using the Fire for a couple of days now and despite it having only 1 gigabyte of RAM and 8 GB of storage, the responsiveness is pretty amazing. Sure it lags sometimes when a lot of apps are open but that's easily taken cared of by closing some. The home page is cluttered with Amazon apps that I mostly won't ever use but they cannot be uninstalled. A little research on the web showed how you can just put what you don't need in a folder thus decreasing the clutter. You can also supposedly only download apps from Amazon but not from Google Play. Well back to the web we go and sure enough you can download the apk file of any Android app and install it by changing the settings to allow non-Amazon apps. I've downloaded the Chrome browser and Dropbox apps and they've been working well so far other than I have not been able to sync my Chrome bookmarks. Now my desktop looks more like a regular Android tablet. Of course with just 8 GB of storage, it limits how much I can download until I can add a micro SD card. I added an SD card later and it's ok for storing files and photos but if you move some apps there, they tend to lag more because Amazon recommends a Class 10 SD card whereas the one I got from Ebay last year is just a much slower Class 2. Typing with either 2 thumbs or one index finger is pretty slow and limiting if you are used to touch typing, but tolerable. That's why I prefer tablets with physical keyboards. This post is the first time I tried typing on it.
Nevertheless, for the price of $39.99, you can't beat it, specially if your main use is just for surfing the web, social networking, or reading ebooks. The battery life is quite good too and with the way the way I surf the web and use Facebook, the battery still had 43% of juice after about 8 hours.  Well, that's my nonprofessional review of the Amazon Fire tablet after just 2 days of use and so far I like it.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Philippines Vacation - The Last Day in Tagaytay & The Flight Back Home





Tagaytay - Balay Dako Restaurant
My last full day in the Philippines was Sunday, March 31st. The family had planned on visiting Tagaytay and having lunch there, but due to Momsie Pilaring’s illness, there was a possibility of a cancellation. She didn’t like it very much when the doctor told her to rest at home. Nonetheless, Larry, Ninette, and I proceeded with the plans because we were meeting Ben, Elgee, and Uno there. Thankfully, there was not too much traffic that morning and we arrived at about 11 a.m., just in time for lunch. The family had mentioned a very good restaurant in the area called Balay Dako, which means big house in the Bisaya dialect. Apparently, the chef who owns the place is from one of the Visayas provinces. The place was packed as it was very popular with out of towners. There was a bit of a waiting period so some went to buy some goodies from the bake shop while others went up to the patio to take pictures. I went outside to explore and just as I reached the gate, I saw Ben, Elgee, and Uno driving in. They parked then went inside the restaurant to look for Larry and Ninette while I stepped out to the street to look around. The street was lined with restaurants since the location was a great viewing area for the dormant Taal Volcano. Is it really dormant? I’m not sure anymore.
Ninette & I with Taal Volcano in the background from Balay Dako Restaurant
After about a 45 minute wait, we were finally escorted to our table where the waiter took our orders. The specialty of the house is bulalo, which is essentially beef shank and marrow bones in broth, but in this case it is served sizzling and covered with some kind of mushroom sauce. We also ordered vegetarian kare kare. This usually comes with the same kind of beef parts as bulalo, but I guess since the bulalo already had a lot of meat, the kare kare became vegetarian. Who knows? I’m just guessing here. Anyway, when people talked about the sizzling bulalo, they made it sound like something out of this world and a new way of cooking it. It turns out that the sauce was the same kind and taste used for beef stroganoff. Well, my expectations were deflated, to say the least, but other than that, it tasted really good and the beef was very tender. With beef stroganoff that you eat in cafeterias all over the United States, sometimes the cubed beef is tough to chew. I know we ordered some other food but I can’t seem to remember it now. I’ll have to check out the photos we took to see what was on the table. Thanks to my sister in law Ninette, I found pics of the food we ate in her Facebook photos.
Sizzling bulalo - the specialty of Balay Dako (below are: kare kare without the baka, prawns, & BBQ chicken


After lunch the Bautista Family had to return home and meanwhile we drove to a Taal Vista Hotel to take some photos, then to a nun’s convent to visit the chapel and say some prayers. It appeared that the nuns were cloistered because I don’t remember seeing any. I walked around the place and they had statues around the compound depicting the Stations of the Cross. Nice touch.
Larry & I with Taal Volcano in the background taken from Taal Vista Hotel
Pretty soon we were heading back home and for about the first 45 minutes, it was uneventful. When we were about to exit the town of Carmona in Cavite towards the South Luzon Expressway, suddenly we were being pursued by a police motorcycle with two cops on it. They told us to pull over and told my brother he had run a red light. My brother said, he noticed the red blinking light and not understanding what it meant, just followed the cars ahead of him. Hmm, there seems to be no standard traffic signals in the Philippines which leaves you to guess hopefully correctly. Nonetheless, the police officer started to take out his tickets and told my brother that the standard fine for running a red light is 1,000 pesos, and get this, my brother had to come back the next day which was a Monday to pay the fine at the Carmona town hall since it was closed on Sunday. My brother pleaded that he had to work the next day and will be unable to come back, and can we just pay a reduced fine to the officer himself so the officer can pay it at the town hall. Apparently, this was double talk for bribery, which in most cases is acceptable in that country. So they negotiated for half of the quoted fine and I handed over 500 pesos to my brother and he surreptitiously slipped it on the palm of the officer. Having made the deal, the cop let us go, and for the first time in my life, I was complicit (or is it aiding and abetting?) in bribing the police. It is something that will never happen in the U.S. (for me anyway). Checking on the exchange rate today, that bribe of 500 pesos cost me a whopping $10.70!
Well, the inevitable happened when we reached the city. Traffic. We crawled slowly towards Ateneo De Manila where Ninette had to sign some papers before going home. It was already dark when we got there so a security guard escorted us to Ninette’s office. This was by the way one of my requests during my visit – to see her place of work. The others were to see Larry’s school which I accomplished on the day I was in Greenhills, and to visit the hospital where he had his kidney transplant, which we did when Pilaring had her check up.
On the way home from Ateneo, we stopped by a grocery store where be bought some durian ice cream which I had been craving for. Lacking the real fruit, the ice cream came a close second.
The next day at about 8 a.m. Larry drove me to the airport in a circuitous way through Manila because he said since I arrived, we always drove via Epifanio De Los Santos Avenue. Larry dropped me off at NAIA 1, we gave each other a tight hug, expressed our brotherly love for each other, and said our goodbyes.
I made my way to the China Southern Airlines queue and checked in. Since I hadn’t exercised that day yet, I went looking for a long hallway to walk in. My boarding area didn’t have a hallway so I had to ask a security guard for permission to walk in the only long hallway in the terminal. I completed my requisite 30 minutes walking up and down that hallway and soon entered the boarding area. After about 30 minutes, we boarded the plane and headed to Guangzhou where it was raining. We had to get off the plane in the rain to board some buses which drove us to the terminal. I was supposed to have a 7 hour layover so I put in another walking workout through the large terminal, which made up for the lost day I had on my way from L.A. to the Philippines. That darn layover was so long and if that wasn’t bad enough, I couldn’t access the airport’s wi-fi. You needed a special login from the Chinese social media app called We Chat which I couldn’t download because I didn’t have access to the internet in the first place. I walked some more and  tried to take short naps to pass the time. If that wasn’t bad enough, the flight was delayed for an hour thus making it an 8 hour layover.
I got hungry while waiting so I finally gave in and entered one of the terminals' restaurants. I asked the server how much a certain noodle dish was in dollars and she said $14. Oh well, I didn’t have a choice but to order the food since I was starving. While I was eating, another man came in and asked if he could buy a cup of coffee so he could use the restaurant’s wi-fi. Guess how much that cup of coffee cost him? Yes, $14! Perhaps that was a fixed price for anything if you had to pay in dollars regardless of how much it cost in yuan or RMB.
After waiting another half hour in line, we finally boarded the plane for the long 14 hour flight. When I found my seat, I was appalled to see a couple with their baby who was already crying. OMG, it was going to be an excruciating 14 hours if that baby was going fuss the whole time. I readied my eye mask and my earplugs just in case. Well what do you know but that baby slept for about 11 or 12 hours while I probably slept intermittently about 7. Thank you for resting little one, and thanks for giving me some rest too.
My seatmate on the flight back home
We arrived in LAX about 8:30 p.m. and I had some leeway before the reserved shuttle bus stopped running at 11 p.m. Going through customs, I was surprised at the new computer terminals for U.S. citizens where you inserted your passport and the machine verified your identity. Then it spit out a printout of your face and some other data. Then we picked up out checked baggage from the carousel then headed out. There was one more stop to make before exiting the terminal. We passed by some uniformed officers where I noticed the passengers handing something to them. I asked the officer if he needed my luggage tag and he smirked and said he needed the printout of my face from the computer I inserted my passport earlier. I’m sorry sir, I didn’t mean to diminish your position as a Customs Officer. With that I went out to look for the shuttle bus pickup area. Since I wasn’t sure where it was, I called the company and was directed to the correct place. After a few minutes wait, 5 of us boarded the bus. Two were headed to the San Pedro cruise ship terminal, one to the border of San Pedro and Palos Verdes, and the other to Belmont Shore in Long Beach. If the plane flight wasn't long enough, I was dropped off last. I finally made it home just before midnight, thankful to be back in the good old U.S. of A.

Bonus photos: Top - Saying goodbye to Uno. Bottom - Visiting a gastrobar in Quezon City
Thanks again to Ninette for all the photos posted here. They all came from her Facebook page.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Philippines Vacation - Days 11, 12, and 13 (Rod Marfil, Tim Ho Wan, NKTI, Auntie Fermonaira, Auntie Faida, Tes Marfil

Dinner with Auntie Faida
Day 11 – Rodrigo Marfil then Dinner at Tim Ho Wan           
Thursday, Day 11 - The day after checking out the condo in Cubao, my brother Larry was off from work and he drove me around Quezon City to show me where places I knew used to be. He also took me to an area with high rise condos and shopping centers way past Ateneo de Manila University. The name of the location escapes me now. He brought me there because Ninette mentioned the previous night that some of her colleagues may be moving and selling their condos. Nice location but I had already made up my mind about not buying.
Rod Marfil at FilMar Auto Trends
We then visited one of our cousins- Rodrigo Marfil at his automotive repair shop. I didn’t recognize him at first because he had lost so much weight. Apparently, he got sick a few years back and never gained his normal weight back. Last time I saw him was in high school where he was the bass and snare drummer for the Notre Dame of Jolo Boy’s Department band. His claim to fame at the time was that he was never absent from school from elementary all through high school. After reminiscing briefly about our days in Jolo, we bid him goodbye. Interesting note: Rod and all of his brothers and sisters have been single all their lives.
Tim Ho Wan dimsum
Larry and Ninette had planned on doing some grocery shopping in Trinoma, another shopping center a few miles away. I thought we were going to do that, then go home to have dinner. I asked them if we could find a place for a snack between then and dinner but they said that we were going to have dinner at a place called Tim Ho Wan, a Michelin Star awardee. Larry went to do the grocery shopping while Ninette and I went to SM (Shoemart) so I could buy more pastillas to take back to the U.S. 
Afterwards, we proceeded to Tim Ho Wan and was seated shortly thereafter. While waiting for Larry, we checked out the menu and Ninette told me what their specialty was. The award they received was mainly due to their meat bun (bao or pao or siopao) which instead of having a soft covering, had a crusty one. Larry was stuck in the grocery store so we ordered ahead. Larry arrived a few minutes later. I had been hankering for congee for a while now, so I had that for starters. We ordered the meat buns, chicken feet, and others that I no longer remember. If I find the receipt later, I’ll just add it to the list. I had to agree that the crusty bun was very good and it was the first time I’ve tried what they call Adidas (the chicken feet). Well, that was indeed a great meal and while I’m no foodie, I think the Michelin star was well deserved. We brought home some of the meat buns for the others who weren’t able to join us.

Day 12 - NKTI & Lunch with Auntie Ferm
On Friday, day 12, we took Pilaring (Ninette’s mom) to see a doctor at the National Kidney and Transplant Institute for blood tests and an X-ray since she had been having an ongoing cough. NKTI was where Larry had his dialysis and kidney transplant 2 years ago. Ninette is his donor. While Pilaring’s tests were being done, I did my workout by walking along the perimeter of the hospital and even ventured out in the traffic of East Avenue. Then I went inside the hospital to look for Larry, Pilaring, and Vangie.
Lunch with Auntie Ferm and Alain
For lunch, we had arranged to meet with Auntie Fermonaira Carpizo Labiano at a Thai restaurant in SM Aura. Auntie Ferm is a retired nurse from Abu Dhabi who now lives near SM Aura. She is a very animated woman whose walk reminded me so much of her mom, Lola Taram. A few minutes later, one of her sons, Alain, arrived and joined us. Auntie Ferm seemed to know everyone in the mall and joked with the owner of the restaurant and the servers, and did the same when we later went for coffee at another restaurant. She cooked and brought us a special Tausug dish called pianggang which we took home afterwards. Thank you so much for the pianggang Auntie Ferm, as we rarely get the chance to eat it anymore.
After saying out goodbyes, we went to pick up Robynne from her school in Makati, then returned home.

Day 13 - Early Dinner with Auntie Faida
On Saturday, Day 13, I pretty much lost track of what I did in the morning, but in mid afternoon, Larry and I drove to Maharlika Village in Taguig to meet with Auntie Faida Carpizo, an older sister of Auntie Ferm. She was going to serve us more Tausug food along with another cousin, Tes Marfil who lived with her. She first served us daral for snacks and when Tes came later, she had the satti and pastil. They also had cucumbers and sambal, plus more pianggang cooked by Auntie Faida this time. Our cousin Farid, who owns the house came home shortly along with Alain whom we met the previous day. I haven’t seen Farid since he was a little boy and still living with his parents in Quezon City back in the early 70’s. With smiles all around, photos were taken and the food was enjoyed by all. Thanks for the feast, Auntie Faida, Tes, and Farid.
Satti, pianggang, pastil, and sambal

Meanwhile, Larry was getting phone calls from home about Pilaring having some sort of medical episode, so we had to leave Maharlika Village and head back to NKTI to meet with Ninette, Pilaring, Robynne, and Vangie at the doctor’s clinic. Pilaring’s lab results and X-ray indicated pneumonia so she was ordered to stay at home and rest. She was none too pleased with that since there were plans to go to Tagaytay the next day.

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