Back in those long ago days of the 1980s I had reached a stage in my career where I enjoyed the services of a secretary. It also so happens that she was the only person in the office who had a computer on her desk (it was a Wang). My desk was equipped with a Dictaphone, a nifty device into which I would speak my thoughts, hand a tape to the secretary, and in a hour or two, I would have those words composed and formatted into proper business correspondence. Well, truth be told, I’d usually have to edit two or three times to get it right–turns out what you say is not necessarily how you would write it.
And sometimes how you say it is just flat out wrong. I have words in my vocabulary that I know and understand, but have never actually heard in conversation. So, one day my secretary comes to me and says “boss, that word you keep using–’as-certain’–is pronounced as-ser-tain.” Then she laughed. And told the rest of the staff, who laughed as well.
So, I learned humility and developed some tolerance and compassion when I see stuff this:
But I still laugh.
Actually walks in the parks. Thursday I hiked throughout the Magic Kingdom. Friday I spent the day strolling the pleasant environs of Epcot. And Saturday found my feet wandering around Hollywood Studios. And when I wasn’t walking, I was standing in a long-ass line waiting to experience the most popular attractions.
I also stuck to the LCHF diet for the most part. Had a Wendy’s burger on the drive down and on Saturday I gave in to temptation and enjoyed (thoroughly enjoyed!) an apple pie sundae. I don’t know why, but I just remembered the story about Robinson Crusoe inviting his native companion over for a treat: “Hey Friday, come over Saturday and we’ll have a sundae.”
Anyway, this week’s weigh-in finds me at 252, down two pounds from last week. Girth remains unchanged at 46″.
Onward and downward!
What an exciting end to the day! After a full day at Epcot we took a nap and then drove out to Downtown Disney to check out the nightlife. Not having much life (night or otherwise) left in my tired legs we didn’t stay long. Re-entering the resort I had to show my Disney ID, which involved taking out my wallet. When we got back to the room I was without said wallet. We searched the car top to bottom and front to back. Retraced our steps from the parking lot back to the room. Even rummaged through the garbage can where we had deposited the trash from the car. No luck. So, I was facing the prospect of being hundreds of miles from home with no cash, no credit cards, and no ID. Ah well, nothing to be done but start the process of canceling my check and credit cards. While I was doing that, Jee Yeun made one more trip down to the car. As I finished the last card Jee Yeun returned with the astonishing news that she had found the wallet. Wedged between the door and the seat on the driver’s side (so the whole fiasco is on me!). I happily called the bank with the good news and now I am once again golden. I guess they don’t call it the Magic Kingdom for nothing!
Today marks 13 weeks on the LCHF diet. The halfway point in my quest to lose 60 pounds in six months. Although I’ve been making pretty steady progress and have done pretty well at sticking to the diet, I’ve got a long way to go to achieve my goal. One thing I’m going to have to do in the next 13 weeks is actually get serious about adding some exercise to my daily routine. I’ve got a treadmill in the spare bedroom and a bicycle in the garage. I need to start actually using them.
Anyway, I actually lost ground this past week, gaining one pound which puts me back to 254. I’m not overly distressed because I had a three pound loss the week before which seemed somewhat unnatural. Plus I was in travel mode this week which is always tough (fewer food options, lots of sitting behind the steering wheel). Overall I’ve lost 24 1/2 pounds, so there’s that.
In the good news department, this week’s girth measurement has me at 46″, down 1″ from last week 5.5″ overall. Now, the week I lost three pounds I saw no reduction in my belly. The week I gain a pound, I lose an inch off the middle. Go figure.
Onward and downward!
Yesterday I experienced a first (and how often does that happen at my age?) when I sat and chatted with a 100 year old woman. We even had something in common having both worked for the federal government. Although she worked for FDR in 1932. She was still sharp and witty and engaged and it was a thoroughly enjoyable experience.
I’m reminded of the reporter who was interviewing an local man on the occasion of his 100th birthday. “To what do you attribute your long life?” asked the intrepid young reporter. The old man didn’t hesitate in replying “Primarily to the fact that I haven’t died yet.”
A mother’s hug lasts long after she lets go.
Miss you mama.
I remember this poem for my distant past…
The woman was old and ragged and gray
The street was wet with a recent snow
She stood at the crossing and waited long,
Of human beings who passed her by
Down the street, with laughter and shout,
Came the boys like a flock of sheep,
Past the woman so old and gray
Nor offered a helping hand to her -
Lest the carriage wheels or the horses’ feet
At last came one of the merry troop,
He paused beside her and whispered low,
Her aged hand on his strong young arm
He guided the trembling feet along,
Then back again to his friends he went,
“She’s somebody’s mother, boys, you know,
“And I hope some fellow will lend a hand
“If ever she’s poor and old and gray,
And “somebody’s mother” bowed low her head
Was “God be kind to the noble boy,
We’re talking about the 2009 film here, not the mastodon. The movie came highly recommended by a university professor friend of mine who described it as being similar to Crash, only with a more international perspective. And I think that’s a pretty fair description. The film was produced in Sweden and features a wealthy American couple in New York city, their Filipina nanny, the nanny’s family in the Philippines, and the husband’s adventures during a business trip to Thailand.
I’m not a movie reviewer so I’ll mostly limit my comments to my personal perspectives and takeaways from the film. The context for the recommendation from my friend revolved around some lengthy discussions we’ve held regarding inequalities in our society and the extent globalization has played in creating a greater chasm between the haves and have nots in America and the world. Now, my friend sees this as a bigger problem than I do, which is natural given his generally leftist/progressive point of view. Mammoth touches on these themes without being preachy about it. The film is actually quite understated, it just presents the story of the contrasts being the lives of rich Americans, working class Filipinos, and a Thai prostitute. You are free to draw your own conclusions as to whether people are being exploited or just being provided opportunity they would not otherwise have.
Having lived and traveled in Asia the film resonated with me. I’d seen some of this stuff up close and personal and struggled with the issue of, well not exactly guilt, but at least the unfairness of life. Being born in America is like winning the lottery compared to 99% of the world’s population. So, in the context of the issues raised in Mammoth I’ll share some of my personal observations.
Let’s start with Gloria, the Filipina nanny working for Leo (a gaming webmaster) and Ellen (an ER surgeon). The movie doesn’t say, but I assume she was in the USA legally and working for appropriate wages and benefits as required by law. Leo and Ellen seem to treat her well and with respect and gratitude. Gloria has two children back in the Philippines being cared for by her mother and to whom she sends financial support. Obviously, she misses her children and they miss her. She tells her mother she wants to return home, but her mother insists she needs to continue working in the states in order to provide food, shelter, and educational opportunities for her children. That’s the reality for nearly every Filipino I have met. In fact, the Philippines largest source of income is from their exported workers. You’ll find Filipinos working as domestics and factory workers all over the world, including a large population in Korea.
Gloria reminded me of my Filipina housekeeper Lorna, who worked for me for several years in Korea. Lorna was also supporting children back home, although she had the disadvantage of being in the country illegally. Her biggest fear was being caught by immigration agents. For example, she wouldn’t take the subway since the authorities watch for and arrest many illegals there. Of course, another downside was she could never leave the country to visit her family. It had been years since she had been home. Her situation was heartbreaking for me and I compensated by overpaying her to clean my house. I paid her more for a once a week cleaning ($70) than she’d make in a month as a live-in maid in the Philippines. She had several other clients so really she was doing quite well for herself, comparatively speaking. She did a great job with the house and I certainly never felt like I was exploiting her. Shortly before I retired she decided to return to the Philippines (against my advice) to be with her family. She had a dream of operating a beauty salon with her sister. I knew that she’d never be able to return to Korea because Korea actually strictly enforces it’s immigration laws. She called me a couple of months later begging me to help her come back to Korea, but there was nothing I could do for her.
I have many Filipino friends in Korea with similar stories. The sacrifices they are making to provide a better future for their children are both sad and inspiring. I have never met a people who have so little in life and yet seem to be genuinely happy and optimistic. I’m not sure what their secret is, perhaps it’s acceptance of their situation and a strength they draw from their family and their close knit community. If a Filipino has only two dollars and a cousin has none, they’ll gladly give a dollar knowing that when the situation is reversed the family will provide for them. It’s a beautiful thing and I have a tremendous respect for such an unselfish culture.
A darker side to the OFW (overseas Filipino worker) program (an actual government agency) is the women who are imported to Korea (and Japan and others) as “entertainers”. Some of these young women may actually believe they’ll be singing in nightclubs (and Filipinas love to sing!) but invariably they wind up as “juicy girls”. I think most of them realize what they are getting into but given their limited options they make the choice to come and make the best of it. I did a longish post on this phenomenon a while back, you can read it here if you are so inclined.
Let’s get back to the movie. Husband Leo travels to Thailand to conclude a multimillion dollar business. En route (via private jet!) his partner gives him a $3000. pen inlaid with ivory from a mammoth’s tusk (hence came the name of the film) to sign the contracts in Bangkok. Well, the deal hits a snag so Leo has a few days to kill and he flies out of the city and stays on the beach. He is from all indications a devoted husband and father and initially resists the temptations of the Thai beauties that surround him. And then he meets a prostitute named Cookie.
I’ll confess that this was my favorite part of the movie. It reminded me so much of my first trip to the Philippines. No, I didn’t pay a girl to not sleep with me, but I totally understood where he was coming from. It’s all so overwhelming at first. Here you are in a tropical paradise, surrounded by beautiful women who practically beg you to be with them, and overlaying all of this is a crushing depression over the abject poverty you are witnessing up close and personal. Early on Leo calls his wife and says he feels the need to “do something” to help–sponsor an orphanage or anything else he could do to help make life a little better for these people. So, while he didn’t want to cheat on his wife, he felt the need to help Cookie out–so he gave her the night off.
I really laughed when Cookie told her friends about the weird American who paid her for nothing and they began discussing the relative merits of men they had slept with from around the world. I had heard similar stories from the Filipina prostitutes I spoke with. They called Korean men “triple 3s”–three inches, three minutes, 3000 pesos. Still cracks me up. I also appreciated the language barrier. Filipinos generally speak better English than Thais, but conversation is still fraught with landmines of misunderstanding.
Anyway, Cookie comes to Leo’s bungalow the next day and offers to be his tour guide. That’s also a pretty standard offer I’ve received in my travels. And what commenced was the full “GFE”, which stands for girlfriend experience–a day of sightseeing, elephant riding, swimming on the beach, and finally passionate love making. That’s really the attraction to Asian sex tourism–none of the “wham, bam, thank you ma’am” stuff, the girls pretend (and some of the aren’t pretending) to actually enjoy your company and will stay with you as long as you let them. One guy told me “I don’t pay the girls for sex, I pay them to leave in the morning.”
OK, I’ve gone and said those dirty words–sex tourism. The classic example of western exploitation of third world females. But it is really not that simple. I should state for the record two things–I was single when I visited the PI and I was not going for the sex that is available there. I was seriously considering retiring there where my government pension would have allowed me to live like a king–a fine beachside villa, maids, cooks, drivers–the works. But yeah, I hung out in the bars and of course I met a few of the local gals. We’ll leave it at that. I eventually decided it was not the life I wanted for a couple of reasons. Primarily, I fell in love with the Korean woman to whom I’m now married. Secondarily, I couldn’t handle the idea of being “rich” when everyone around me was so desperately poor. And finally I didn’t much care for the expats and “mongers” (as in whore mongers, the term the sex tourists affectionately call themselves). The expats were primarily Yanks, Aussies, and Brits. The mongers came from all over, and a hell of a lot of them were Koreans. Ah, those guys had a name for people like me too–”Captain Savaho”, get it, save a whore. They found it ridiculous that someone would want to help these girls out by doing nice things for them. It didn’t stop me though.
I met a girl on my first trip named Sheryl and I grew quite fond of her in an almost (emphasis almost) paternal kind of way. She gave me the full GFE–a night of dancing, karaoke, and a nice dinner. As we were eating she began crying. I asked her what was wrong and she responded “I hate my father!” And then she told me her sad story. Her dad had abandoned the family, and as the oldest child (she was 25) it fell to her to support her mother and siblings. She hated working in the bar and going home with strange men (on the nights she was “lucky” enough to be selected). But it was the only way she could make enough money (she made twenty dollars for our “date”). With only a high school education she was not even qualified to work as a sales clerk at the mall (those jobs require two years of college). Her life seemed so hopeless and her dream was to meet a nice foreigner who would marry her. It was pretty clear that she considered me (fat and twice her age) as a viable option in that regard.
Well. Marriage to a Filipina prostitute was not my dream. Although I never called her that (she was technically a waitress and sometimes a dancer). But I did go into full “Captain Savaho” mode. First I told her she had nothing to be ashamed of. She was doing a hard job and she was doing it for her family. I explained that what she was doing was no different than a man who sells his body as a laborer and that she should not feel bad about that. The next day I took her shopping for clothes and bought her a digital camera she coveted. Then she showed me where she lived.
It was called a “stay-in”. Basically, a small apartment paid for by the bar where the girls stayed when the weren’t working. It was one long room filled with bunk beds stacked side-by-side from one end of the room to the other. Each girls personal space was the width of her bed. There was a small kitchen and a bathroom. I recall there being about 30 girls in the room. It was hot (it’s always hot in the Philippines) and no AC, just a solitary fan. It was a nightmare to me, but Sheryl told me this was heaven compared to the conditions most of the girls had come from (dirt floors, no plumbing). Wow.
What do you do in that situation? Wing it of course. I invited the girls who were there to come back to my hotel for a pool party. You’d think I was Santa Claus arriving on Christmas morning from the screams of delight. About ten of the girls jumped up and put on their swimsuits (they weren’t shy about changing in front of me, bless their hearts) and off we trudged to my hotel. It was a rather strange experience walking down the street surrounded by a bevy of brown lovelies. Filipinas love the water and they splashed and played the afternoon away while I sat there smiling at their exuberance. I bought them all lunch which they devoured and then they put away a gallon of ice cream for dessert. The whole event cost me less than a hundred dollars and it was about the happiest time I ever had in the Philippines.
A few days later it was time for me to return to Korea. Sheryl cried and cried. I asked her if she could change her life, what would she do? She told me she would like to go back to school and earn her license as a certified caregiver. The tuition was the equivalent of $200 a month for about a year. So I agreed to be her sponsor. I’d pay the money but the rest was up to her. And one year later she graduated and moved back home to Manila to work at her new trade. I was so proud of her for never giving up on herself. Lots (most?) of the girls find it hard to escape the “easy” money of prostitution I expect. Last I heard from Sheryl she was getting married and moving to Australia. She thanked me again for the help I had given her and explained that she wanted to be a good wife so it wouldn’t be proper for her to communicate with me in the future. Oddly enough, Jee Yeun felt the same way about me talking with Sheryl and that story (mercifully my readers may be saying) has come to an end.
There’s a point I was trying to make in there somewhere. Briefly, it is this. I struggled with the whole “exploitation” issue. I guess the best I could come up with is that no one I ever met over there was being “forced” or was the victim of human trafficers. Most of them hated what they were doing, but were glad there was something they could do to support their families. Now, there are a lot of NGOs trying to shut down the prostitution bars. I understand they have good intentions but what are these young women going to do to provide the basic necessities of life if this option is taken away? The bars make sure that every girl they hire is at least 18 years old and they all get a weekly health check for STDs. Without the bars many would be on the street selling it anyway without any of the protections they receive from the bars. I guess in the end I see the do-gooders as being more exploitive than the mongers if they take away a woman’s right to use her body in this manner without providing a viable alternative.
One more point on this before I move on. The only real positive thing I can say about the monger community in general is there is an almost universal disgust with the few folks who seek out children. At least in the Philippines, anyone caught with an underage girl is in serious, serious trouble. They rot for months in the unique hell that is a third world prison just waiting for trial. And Filipino justice is applied harshly on misbehaving foreigners. The hotels have warning placards advising not to pick up girls on the street because there is no way to verify their age (let alone their health). And I’ve heard of corrupt police setting guys up with a too young girl and then shaking them down for every nickel they have. Anyway, I never saw anything like what Mammoth depicted (the man taking the young boy off the street). Not saying it doesn’t ever happen but no one would dare be that blatant about it.
Ok, so in the end Leo (remember him?) does an early morning escape from Cookie leaving his expensive pen and two watches as compensation for her troubles. She sells them for thirty bucks (one percent of the value) and sends the money home to her kids. And such is life. I did pick up on the fact that what is valuable aesthetically to a rich person has no meaning other than it’s intrinsic worth to someone who is poor. Leo would have been doing Cookie a bigger favor by leaving the equivalent of his stuff in cash. Or sending her to school, right? Gloria quits and moves back home to be with her molested son, and Leo and Ellen discuss hiring a new nanny. Life goes on and the circle remains unbroken.
So–there have always been rich and poor people in this world and there always will be. The rich hire the poor to take care of the nasty details in life (including sexual gratification) but in a perverse way, this provides opportunity that would not otherwise exist. Even in so called utopian socialistic countries (from Sweden to Cuba to North Korea) these dynamics exist. Is that bad or good? I’d just say water is wet because it is water. Life is unfair because it is life. And that’s just the way it goes.
Sorry for the, ahem, mammoth length of this post. I’d never actually written in any detail about these experiences. Watching the movie brought back quite a few memories for me.
…and he better hope he stays there. Because when I read this I immediately thought of just one person:
“Who is so devoted to the park, and to the rules of grammar, that he or she would break the law to correct these mistakes?”
Now, it could be that the Big Hominid is innocent of these crimes. He’s never blogged about being in Brooklyn. But then again, he wouldn’t be likely to place himself in the vicinity of the illicit activities, would he? I suppose it’s just as likely the perpetrator was some fellow traveler, taking his or her inspiration from the King of the Grammar Nazis. Or perhaps the “mad marker” was hoping to curry favor with the intrepid Mr. Kim.
Innocent or not, I am quite certain that the hominid known as Kevin would agree that poor grammar should, nay must, be corrected whenever and wherever it is discovered. And that makes him guilty by association in my book!
Having said that, if the Brooklyn grammar vigilante turns out to be female (especially one with a round American butt) a romance made in heaven may be in the offing. It’s not everyday you find a soul mate in this world of forgotten grammatical correctness, hackneyed word-smithing, and generally sloppy, lazy and ignorant writing. Hey, I think that’s just about a perfect description of this here blog.
Who says dart players aren’t athletes? I did the math and I can prove what a physically demanding game darts truly is. For example, I played in a round robin format event on Saturday with 8 other players. That means I played each player three games (legs). That’s a total of 24 legs. Now the throw line (oche) is 5′ 8″ from the dart board. Each turn (throw) consists of three darts. So after every throw you walk from the oche to the dart board and back, a distance of approximately 12 feet. It’s actually more, because you don’t walk directly back to the oche, you move behind your opponent while s/he thows. And usually you walk ever farther, because normally between throws you go back to the table area for a swallow of beer (aiming fluid). So, it’s fair to say the distance traveled for each throw is around 20 feet.
Now, I’m an average (at best) darter. And I reckon it takes me 30 darts to finish a leg (sometimes less, sometimes more). So, that’s 10 trips to and from the dart board, or 200 feet. That means each 3 leg match equals 600 feet of walking. What with warmups and trips to the restroom to recycle the aiming fluid, I walked over a mile during Saturday’s round robin.
But wait, there’s more! I played in a blind draw Saturday night (although I only lasted 9 legs before being eliminated). And on Sunday I played another 27 legs in the ASS (Aiken Singles Series) league. That’s a lot of walking! Come to think of it, maybe that’s why they call each game a leg! Hell, Johnny Cash even wrote a song about it.
Anyway, the above is a round about way of getting to this week’s progress report on my LCHF diet adventure. Other than darts, I’m really not managing much exercise. I am sticking pretty close to the dietary requirements without being fanatical about it. I have small helpings of fruit and berries occasionally and on Saturday I had a few fries because I was hungry and there were no other readily available options. But no bread, no starches, no sugary sweets. I dearly do miss them.
Onward and downward!
Because I’m spending the weekend in lovely Aiken, South Carolina throwing darts. A regional qualifier today at the VFW. A blind draw tourney tonight in Augusta, GA (just across the Savannah river from Aiken), and then back to the VFW for the ASS (Aiken Singles Series) dart league on Sunday.
Scott Johnson from the PowerLine blog offers up his experience following the Taubes low carb/high fat diet.
Unlike Mr. Johnson, I’m still craving the sweets. It is almost painful to walk sadly past the ice cream, pies, cakes and cookies at my neighborhood Publix supermarket. I’m resisting the urge, but not liking the self-denial. Tonight I had two small bites of my granddaughter’s birthday cake. It’s practically unAmerican I tell ya.
On a lighter note, Johnson links to this clip from the Woody Allen classic film Sleeper. I wish, I wish, I wish!
Update: Geez, even Barney Fife knew about carbohydrates in 1964! No wonder he was so frickin’ skinny.
I generally don’t open email from people I don’t know. If unsure, I sometimes will check the full email address of the sender which is normally a dead giveaway for spammers. This one was just your standard gmail account, so I opened it. This is what it said:
“Hello, There are two primary choices in life: to accept conditions as they exist, or accept the responsibility for changing them.
Sorry to bother you with this message, I came across your summary, while searching for an old colleague of mine and decided to send a message to you.”
I can’t figure out what the purpose or benefit derived by the sender in putting this message in my inbox. None of my virus alarms went off when I opened the email. Obviously, I won’t be so foolhardy as to respond.
Lots of excitement and intrigue in my life, wouldn’t you say?
My name has been misspelled many times and in many ways over the years. But never quite like this.
When I first saw it I thought it read John McCarby. Does hunger affect reading comprehension?
That’s what I theoretically dispensed with this week. Although it didn’t come from the belly as my girth is unchanged from last week’s 47.5″. Disappointing that. But for the Buddha-like proportions of my mid-section I’m actually relatively slim. Meaning my legs and ass are more muscular than fatty. And no, my thighs do not rub together when I walk.
Anyway, this week finds me at 257 pounds, down one from last week and 21.5 overall. Onward and downward!
I had so much fun completing all the paperwork for Jee Yeun’s fiancee visa. Now my Uncle Sam has generously allowed me to complete essentially the same documents for the permanent residency process. And all it’s costing me is a piddlin’ $1070.00! Is this a great country or what?
Week nine of the diet finds me blasting through two, count ‘em, two barriers on my journey to svelte-ness.
Today’s weigh-in finds me tipping the scale at 258 pounds. That’s an amazing 4 pound drop from last week. I’ve been averaging around a pound a week for the past few weeks, so the amount of weight loss this week is quite unexpected, especially since I haven’t done anything different that I’m aware of. So, getting under 260 feels like an accomplishment. An accomplishment tempered by the fact that the last time I was in the 250s was 2009 and back then I was thinking “damn, you are fucking fat! You better get off you ass and do something about it!” Now four years later here I am in the 250s and feeling sorta good about it. As Einstein might say, everything’s relative.
The other noteworthy barrier is the magical, mystical, irrelevant but still awesome, achievement of a 20 pound weight loss. 20.5 pounds to be exact if you are keeping score. That’s about a third of way on the journey I’ve undertaken. I don’t expect it’s gonna get any easier down the road. In fact, I fear this was the easy part. Sometime soon my body is likely to find its low carb equilibrium and I’m going to have to try something radical, like exercise, to continue losing weight.
Girth remains unchanged from last week’s 47.5′’. So, wherever those four pounds disappeared from, it wasn’t my belly. Shame that.
Ah well, I’m encouraged that my deprivation has not thus far been in vain. Onward and downward!
When I was a young man in the 1970s we’d fire up a doobie, put Cheech and Chong on the stereo and laugh our asses off.
Today I read that the captured Boston bomber can’t talk due to an injury to his throat. I immediately remembered this.
Comedy gold I tell ya. Even if you’re not stoned.
Alright, so it appears the Boston bombers were Muslims from Chechnya.
Places I Go
John McCrarey: Yeah, it all looked good.