Monday, September 22, 2008

So much has changed...

I'm going to try to get back into this whole blogging thing. But not tonight...

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

It's been a while...

Wow, I haven't been so great on the blogging lately. My schedule is pretty mundane, with just work and school lately. I'll try to keep up with it more.

I was home sick today. I woke up this morning pretty dizzy, and with an upset stomach. I prefer not to miss class, but I tried to get going and couldn't make it out the door. I'm feeling much better this afternoon, though.

We had a great weekend at the cottage! I took a few more "artsy" pictures this time, and there available here. It was good I went up with Mom and Dad, because now everything is all set for when I go up with some friends at the end of the month.

Well, that's all for now. Have a great week!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Conferences...

Pictures from my latest camping trip can be found here. It went well and we all had a fun time, despite the weather. =D

We've been sponsoring a conference at work this week, and I am TOTALLY ready for it to be over with. Forever. Lets just say that there are quite a few people involved with this whole thing who are an awful lot like me early in the morning, only it lasts all day for them. Ick.

I start school again next week. I'm a little intimidated by my Spanish class. I haven't had any Spanish for 3 years, so I'm just hoping it comes back quick.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Backpacking/Hiking

Well, I'm leaving tomorrow sometime for Ohio, and I still don't really know when we're leaving or where we're really going. The 4 of us haven't seen each other since we decided to take this trip, so this should be an "adventure." =D

I keep saying that "this isn't my trip." Usually I get super-involved with the planning/shopping/preparation for these things, and I've chosen not to do that this time around. All responsibility has be placed completely on the shoulders of Chip and Steve. Chip is married now, and Steve is moving out to California for a real job, so I figure since they should be responsible adults/college grads (and I am still a lowly super-senior living with the Parental Units), that they should be the ones to do all the work. =D

This is probably going to blow up in my face! Ha ha. Personally, I think it's going to be fun, because it's supposed to be freezing and rainy. Haha, if anything, we'll definitely remember it!

After the Philippines, I really believe I can pretty much handle any environmental condition. If I can handle extreme heat, then I suppose I can live through freezing cold. And I was practically soaking wet for 5 months in the Phil, either because of rain or sweat! =D

This is going to be good... I'll post more about it when I get back!

ps- "parental units" isn't meant to be insulting. =D I just think it's funny!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Back to work...

Well, I started work again today. Not much has changed...even my files are still in the cabinet with all of my out-of-date pizza coupons and stuff. =D It's nice to be back, and things are picking up for the summer, which is good. We're doing summer camps again this year, so registration and all of that is keeping me busy.

I'm going backpacking with Steve, Chip, and Megan when Mom and Dad go to southwest Michigan! We're going down to the Ohio/West Virginia boarder for a weekend, which should be fun. It's not really a camping hotspot, but it's warmer than Michigan! =D

I'm adjusting well...still moving at the slower pace, but that's ok. Have a great week!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

I'm Home!

Hey! I made it back without problems. Got a little sick on the plane, but I survived. It's nice to be back... My laptop is fixed now as well, so that's good.

I had a good time with Aryn and Tim in Washington. We went skiing again, and just sort of laid low. It was a nice and relaxing trip.

I stopped into work today, and it appears I can start working as early as April 14, so that will be really good. I wasn't too excited about sitting around the whole month of April. It was also really great to see everyone from work. =D

Have a good week!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Final Day...

Well, this is my last full day here. I'm sure Aryn is right, I will miss more than 10 things about living here AFTER I get home. It's hard to come up with things because I'm still here and sort of focused on getting home.

I'm almost all packed. I'm hoping I'm still under the weight limits for my baggage... It may complicate things that I am switching from an international carrier (allowing 70lbs/bag) to a domestic airline from San Francisco to Seattle (usually 50lbs/bag). I hope I can somehow slide through without any problems. I don't want to have to repack things at the airport... :-\ I have no scale, so I can't weigh my bags before I leave. Hopefully it all works out.

Top 10 things I've learned in the Philippines:
***There are lots more, but I don't think you'd read something too long***
1. More about God's sovereignty. I've never doubted that He has been in control this whole time.
2. How to keep my mouth shut every once in a while. My life here has been WAY different than I live my life at home. I've learned that I don't always have to share my strong opinions. ;o)
3. Flexibility. If I had remained as rigid as I was when I got here, I would have been totally miserable.
4. Patience. Life here moves slow, and there's nothing wrong with that.
5. I'm not quite as low maintenance as I originally thought. By this point I've proven to myself that I can live with little, but I can't deny missing some of those luxuries I had at home.
6. Confidence in my ability to get around. I've flown on my own quite a few times in the US, but traveling around here is a totally different kind of travel. =D
7. Assertiveness. Mom and Dad tried to teach me this at home, but I never really believed them. They always said that things don't get handed to me, and that I have to make it for myself if I really want it. Well, it's not quite like that in Lansing, but here it was for sure. I was on my own, and had to make things work.
8. What is really important in life. Leaving behind friends and family was probably the most difficult part of this trip for me. I always thought that I was just stifled in Michigan, and that I could totally make it on my own without a hitch. I was knocked on my butt the first week here, and realized that absolutely was not true.
9. It never hurts to try everything once (unless it's a sin, haha). I did and tried a lot of things here that only enhanced my experience. I would have never ridden on a motorcycle without a helmet in the US, or eaten a partially developed duck egg.
10. We are very blessed in the United States. I knew this before I left because of my time in Panama and Mexico, but it never hurts to reinforce the concept. The majority of the world lives a very hard and laboring life. Things like safety and convenience are not often expected, and it just serves as a good reminder for me that many of the things that I throw little fits about at home don't even matter in the scope of things.

One more post from the Phil coming tomorrow morning...Then I'll be seeing you! =D

Mount Makiling

I climbed Mt. Makiling this morning. It was pretty much one of the stupidest things I have ever done, which is why I'm posting about it AFTER I did it. :oD

I know it's not smart to hike alone early in the morning in the jungle with no load in my phone, ignoring the "DANGER! KEEP OUT" signs... I know that's dumb. But I did it anyway, and I made it down without any injuries or animal attacks. I won't push my luck though; I won't do anymore stupid things for a while...

Top 10 things I'm going to miss about the Philippines:
1. My small group
2. Chowking
3. The cheapness of EVERYTHING
4. Mocha cake from the IRRI cafeteria
5. The rainforest / Jurassic Park-like feel
6. All the walking...I walk a lot
7. Milo freezes from the Mini-Stop.
8. Palm trees
9. Kalamansi shakes from Benito's
10. Watermelon whenever I want.

I think about food way too often.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Three Days...

I finally got the pictures of the fertilizing in Victoria from Wency today! There's not much to see, haha. They'll mostly be for my presentation on my internship I have to do next fall.
I have quite a bit I need to get done today. I have to start packing, set up my transportation for the airport, type up a summary on my experience here, possibly do a little shopping... I have enough to keep myself busy. Here's another list:

Top 10 Most Hilarious Memories in the Philippines:
1. Everyone thinking I was a German exchange student because I didn't have an "American name." Whatever that means... =D A "Rinkenberger" couldn't possibly be from the US!
2. Dr. Zafaralla telling me he would "Smash my face" if I gave him mashed potatoes.
3. Dili and his commentary of American Politics and urban Detroit.
4. Eating goat at Thanksgiving (or eating goat AT ALL.)
5. My entire trip home to Seattle for Christmas. I am so glad I can laugh about it now. The horrors! (This of course includes the Bone Collector taxi incident).
6. On a trip to the Mall of Asia in Manila, I wanted to avoid paying for a taxi, so I walked a half-hour in the COMPLETELY wrong direction, and had to walk all the way back to the bus station. I ended up taking a taxi anyway. (I don't know if I ever told anyone about this...)
7. The first time I ever "Big Timed" a meal at McDonald's. (There it is, Aryn =D ). It was so ridiculously small, and doesn't even come close to the true American super-sizing.
8. The fact that everyone asks me if I've lost weight. HOW FAT WAS I BEFORE?! geez...
9. My sandal's tan on my feet, and my tank-top tan on my chest. The feet are definitely the funnier of the 2 though. It's a perfect "V" on both feet, with the point going between my big toe and the rest.
10. The "Umbrella" dude that works at the front desk. I can't say I think it's that funny while he sings that AWFUL song for hours at a time, but now that I'm leaving--yes, it's funny.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Happy Easter!

There was a sunrise service today at 5am. I didn't make it. I was up pretty late last night because Christine, Rochelle, Jason, Sarah, and I watched "The Passion of the Christ" last night, and had a brief discussion. I hadn't seen it yet, but I was prepared.

I did find it frustrating that there was so little emphasis on the most important part of the story-- The resurrection! It was like 5 seconds of it, and very ambiguous. I guess it goes to show that Mel Gibson is a Roman Catholic.

It was a little bizarre here, because EVERYTHING closed down on Friday, but just about everything is open to day--the actual day we celebrate the resurrection. I don't know how I feel about it.

Well, I'm going to be packing and doing some last minute mango shopping these next few days. Won't be long now! =D

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Good Friday

Well, today is interesting. The whole city has just sort of shut down. It's odd to me that Roman Catholics focus so much on Christ's death, and the resurrection seems to come secondary. There was a candle-light march down Lopez Ave. today on my way to the internet cafe. This place and the mini-stop are pretty much all that is open.

A couple more "f and p mix-ups":
- Someone referred to the "enfloyees" at the rice institute
- The guy at the video rental place telling Sarah that every copy of "The Fassion of the Christ" was checked out! HAHAHAHA. That would be an interesting movie, for sure. ;o)

Leading Haggai went well last night. We had a good discussion about the Temple and God's plan for the Jews.

Here are some pictures:

Back: Ate Vangie, Sarah, and Christine
Front: Frisco, Me, Jason, and Jay (Ryan is in Turkey on vacation)


Enjoying mangostines and other things that Vangie cooks for us! =D

The Consolacion's were great hosts every week. I am going to miss them. :o(

I might do another list later today... I can't think of any ideas right now.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Top 15 things gained (or lost) in the Philippines...

Wow, campus is totally dead. All of the students have gone home for the weekend, and many people in Los Banos have gone to be with family in Manila or other islands. Even IRRI was slow today. It was nice to be able to walk down Pili Drive today in the road instead of dodging cars. =D Here's another list.

15 Things Gained (or Lost) in the Philippines:
1. Tough, leathery feet
2. 30-40 lbs (lost)
3. Long hair and a beard (that will probably be gone by the time I get home.)
4. Historical knowledge of the area
5. New friends from all over the world
6. A new concept of what it means to be patient
7. A legitimate fear of dogs
8. A horrendous tan-line from daily wearing of tank tops
9. A few words of Tagalog
10. A really cool blanket with tigers on it, lol.
11. An understanding of God's sovereignty (more on stuff like this in a "things I've learned" post)
12. Like a billion pictures
13. A contact lens somewhere on Mindoro Island (they're throw-aways, no biggie ;o) )
14. A fondness for toilet paper, lol
15. 5 months of my life that I will never, EVER forget. Daily challenges and blessings that I never would have had if I had stayed at home. =D

Ok, not my best list admittedly, but I still have a few to make up for it.

And yes, I should add "Big timing" my McDonald's meals to my foreign experiences list. I also had the CRAZY typhoons that came through--how could I forget?! I was terrified! haha.

It's sort of unreal that I'll be on a plane at this time in a week, and this whole thing will be over. I have my last small group tonight (I'm leading a study on Haggai). I'll take some pictures! =D

Top 25 Foreign Experiences...

I'm done with tests and exams for the rest of my time here! YAY! =D

Los Banos is slowing down again this weekend. Last week things were slow because everyone was at home watching a boxing match (Boxing is HUGE here), but this weekend a lot of people are traveling, because it's the "Holy week." There is a sunrise service at 5:00AM on Sunday I'll probably go to, but it will most likely be in Tagalog. I should still be able to stay awake though...

Here's my next list--

My Top 25 Foreign Experiences...
1. Eating balut
2. Snorkeling!
3. Jeepneys
4. Cold showers
5. Texting--LOTS of texting
6. Eating durian
7. Using an umbrella when it's sunny outside
8. Riding in a boat over open ocean, with dolphins
9. Drunken tricycle drivers (click for picture)
10. Cleaning gecko poo off my walls
11. Motorcycle taxis through the mountains, and regular taxis that reminded me of horror movies
12. Fertilizing a corn field with nothing but a plastic bottle cap and a stick of bamboo
13. Clinging to the outside of a bus overflowing with people and produce
14. Drinking pop from a glass bottle
15. Wearing shorts and flip-flops all winter long =D
16. "Come back tomorrow." Haha... *sigh*
17. Eating rice with EVERYTHING and other Filipino cuisine (sisig, sinigang, grilled squid, etc)
18. Having a chest X-ray to check for Tuberculosis
19. Ordering "leche plan" and going to the "airfort"
20. Getting felt up by security guards at the mall EVERY TIME I walked through a door
21. Stepping out into the street whenever I felt like it, and dodging the vehicles
22. Meeting people from Nepal, Sri Lanka, Korea, Indonesia, Myanmar, Vietnam, Germany, France, and England.
23. Watching bootlegged DVDs of the latest movies, and also movies on V-CDs.
24. Jollibee's
25. Involuntary bus tour of the Tokyo-Narita Airport

Monday, March 17, 2008

Top 10 places I've been in the Phil.

Well, I thought I would sum up the top places I've been during my stay here.

1. The Chocolate Hills
2. Sabang, Puerta Galera
3. Alona Beach
4. The South China Sea
5. Intramuros in Manila
6. the Mall of Asia
7. IRRI and Los Banos (duh)
8. Old Spanish Vigan
9. The giant duck in Victoria (it was featured during one season of the Amazing Race)
10. Tagbilaran City

There are more, I'm sure, but these are the ones that really stand out in my mind. I need to come up with a few more ideas for lists.

Today I have three exams, and then I'm pretty much done with school. I have 3 more class periods for my humanities class, but I don't do anything in that class but listen. There are no finals. =D

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Top 20 things I'm looking forward to...

Since I have about 10 days left of blogging, I thought I would start this series of posts called "Top 20 Things I'm..." It will cover things I've learned, things I've seen, things I've eaten, etc. This way I can have a pretty good record of everything I've done and learned here in the Phil.

I'm feeling slightly sentimental today, as all of my fam is in Texas right now, so today will be...

TOP 20 THINGS I'M LOOKING FORWARD TO WHEN I GET HOME:
1. Driving! Mom and Dad, can I drive home from the airport? =D I promise not to drive like a Filipino. (If I can help it...) ;o)
2. Being reunited with my slurpee mug
3. PIZZA :-O
4. Spending time with friends and family (this should be higher on the list, haha).
5. 496. I know it's weird, but I miss Lansing's freeway. I drove it practically every day for 5 years.
6. MSU Dairy Store icecream
7. Going back to South.
8. Half-off apetizers at Applebee's
9. Blending in with everyone else, haha.
10. Wide sidewalks
11. Non-ferocious dogs (at least I hope that Otis, Bailey, and Sasha don't try to eat me)
12. Cheese! =D
13. English! haha.
14. Hot showers and flushing toilets. This should be like #5, but I forgot about it.
15. Wearing my hooded sweatshirts.
16. Banana nut muffins and grande spartan spirits from Sparty's.
17. The bench under the maple tree by the pond at GLCC. It's my favorite place to sit and reflect.
18. Carpeting, lol. I don't think it exists here. (even though Mom and Dad are waiting until I get home to move furniture and install it).
19. Tapwater
---AND---
20. Cooler weather. It will be nice not to be sweating all the time for a while.


Way too many of these involve food, haha. It's odd what you don't realize you have until it disappears for a while! :o)

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Happy Palm Sunday!

Hopefully everyone has a smooth trip to Texas. Congrats Bren on the two girls! It should be fun to have new additions to our family, and I'm sure watching me interacting with not one, but TWO babies should be fun for everyone else to watch. I'm not exactly the most experienced with the little ones. Your idea of leaving them with Aunt Arriann and me watching them would probably NOT be providing the best care for them, haha. She'd be much better than me, I'm sure! =D

I started my prep work for Haggai this morning. I've really enjoyed this study on the Jews in exile; it's been very interesting. I have the challenge of leading a study on a book that I just read for the first time this morning. =D I'm sure it will be fine.

10 more days in the Philippines, and I can't believe how fast it's gone. I plan on posting a list of things that I've learned while I've been here, but I'll do that closer to my departure. I took a walk yesterday and thought back to what I was thinking the first time I stepped off the plane in Manila, hopelessly lost. I've grown a lot since then.

I'm sure I've changed more than I realize, and I will notice new changes after I'm back into my own culture and familiar location. One thing I can say is that I've mellowed out a lot. I used to get so bent out of shape about such minor things! =D I still struggle with it, but it's easier for me to just let things go. We'll see if thats true though when I'm late for class next fall and I'm waiting for a train to go by while on my way to the commuter lot. ;o)

Have a blessed week in preparation for celebrating Christ's resurrection! I'm interested to see how things are celebrated here. If Easter is anything like other holidays here, it's going to be CRAZY.

Mark 16:5-7

As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed.

"Don't be alarmed," he said. "You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter, 'He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.' "

Friday, March 14, 2008

Microsoft Office 2007

What did they do? And WHY did they do it?!

My laptop is having issues, so I went to the Internet Cafe, and these computers have Vista. WHY DID THEY CHANGE IT ALL? I have no idea how to do anything in Word or Excel now, the Powerpoint is way different. Where is the "File" menu?

Maybe it's just a Filipino thing? I must say, I'm sort of upset by this. Everything I knew about Microsoft Office just went out the window.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Sorry for the Buzzing...

I figure it's sort of easier to just audibly write my blogs, so I did another vid, haha. Sorry for the background noise. It always seems to do that when I'm in my room, which is kind of weird.



Last night we had durian at small group. It's the "King of Fruits" and is famous for it's horrendous smell. It's actually illegal to eat in public places in Indonesia because of the potent odor. It smells like of like fermented onions (ish). The taste isn't that bad, but the texture was sort of weird. I had to try it before I left! =D It's something all of my international Ag profs were talking about when they found out I was coming here. Its actually quite large, maybe about the size of a football, but it still grows on a tree.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

It's starting to hit me...

I had my last class period for Plant Physiology yesterday. My last lab report was turned in, and I don't have to go back until next Tuesday, when I have both my lab and lecture exams. Then I'll be done with physiology FOREVER! =D

It' starting to sink in that things are wrapping up here. I went for a walk last night before dinner and spent some time reflecting, and I think I've learned a lot. I'll post more on that closer in a couple weeks though. Two weeks from tomorrow... I can hardly believe it! :-O


I had one of the most hilarious conversations I have ever had on Monday. My humanities professor, Dr. Zafaralla, likes to single me out in front of the class every five seconds, and compare the Philippines with the United States. I used to get annoyed by it because I got embarrassed, but I think I've learned how to sort of make it entertaining for the rest of the class, so I really don't mind anymore.

Anyways, we were discussing the role that rice has played in Filipino history and culture, and here's how the converstation went:

(he calls me "Mr. Bryce" because I'm 4 or 5 years older than the rest of the class, haha)
Dr. Z: Mr. Bryce, have you noticed we eat a lot of rice?
Me: Uh, yeah. Definitely.
Dr. Z: In the United States do you eat rice?
Me: Not nearly as often as I do here.
Dr. Z: You Americans eat mashed potatoes.
Me: Well, yeah, sometimes.
Dr. Z: I'm a Filipino, I eat rice. You are American, you eat mashed potatoes. You give me mashed potatoes, and I'll smash your face!" [BIG smile]

HAHA. I didn't really know what to do at this point, but the whole class just busted out laughing. The only thing I could think of to say was "OK sir," and laugh. You have to SEE this guy in order to understand how bizarre the entire semester with him has been. I think I might have a picture somewhere, but he LOOKS like something out of a comic strip.

This is the guy who always says "Did you know dat?" and "oooh boy by George!" and asks his students where they learned to use a computer. I find it hysterical that he really genuinely doesn't know the difference between a laptop and a projector. I'm serious. =D

So that's it for now. I'll do another video sometime soon I think. People seem to like those, even if they don't leave comments. >:o(

*hint hint* =D

Sunday, March 9, 2008

4:30 AM...

I have another video to post that I recorded this morning, but our internet was down again in the dorm. I think whenever we have a "brown out" (aka power outage, a fairly frequent occurance) it messes things up and has to somehow be reset.

[EDIT 2:26PM]

Here's the vid:

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Early morning...

Please keep the Philippines in mind when you pray. Things have been building for a while now, and I don't know if the political issues will be resolved before I leave.

There are a lot of people here who don't like the president here (Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, often referred to as GMA). They're calling for her removal from office, and there have been all sorts of rallies on campus and picketers protesting in Manila. I am not sure what the issues are, but the statue on campus has looked like this since Monday:

I'm kind of surprised the Administration hasn't taken that stuff down. I don't watch much news here, so you guys at home might have a better idea of what is going on than I do.

Also, there has been a Typhoid outbreak in Calamba, and it is spreading to Los Banos. I'm not too concerned, because I've been vaccinated and I don't drink the water here, or drinks with ice in them. Mostly bottled water and bottled soft drinks. BUT, restaurants are no longer serving fruit shakes or iced coffees, which is kind of sad. No more kalamansi shakes for me. :o(

For those of you that don't know, Typhoid is a water-borne disease, and it can be pretty awful. There are over 1,000 cases of it in Calamba, and their hospital is packed out. Frisco and Vangie (the people who host our small group) have a niece in the hospital with it right now. :o\

It's very treatable, but it's just sort of scary when there are so many cases popping up. I'm going to be very careful up until the time I leave.

Sorry if this one is negative... It's just what's going on. Have a good weekend!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Operation: Schedule Readjustment

"Did you know in the morning they have food, tv, almost everything. It’s pretty good."
- Tracy Jordan, 30 Rock

So it's begun. I'm starting the slow transition back to Pacific Standard Time. I went to bed around 10:00 pm last night and got up at 5:00 am. Next week will be even earlier. I really want to beat the jet lag this time around so I'm a little more alert during the days than when I was in Washington for Christmas.

Sorry if my last post came across as sort of bitter and angry. The bathrooms here are part of the cultural experience, and if anything, it's given me new appreciation for Lysol and floor mats.... and toilet paper of course. ;o)

Hope all the MSUers are having a great time on Spring Break! It's weird not to be going to Florida this year, but I'm sure they can handle the trip without me. =D haha. Although I am wondering who will take my place freaking out about finding various kitchen appliances in the refridgerator.

EXAMPLE:
Thank you, Mike Stein, SB 2007. =D

From this point forward, all you who use AIM can find me online around 4-5 pm Michigan time, so if you want to talk, feel free! I'll be around...

Monday, March 3, 2008

This is not for those easily grossed out...

I put a disclaimer up because some may find this entry gross.

There is NO SUCH THING as a working toilet in this entire country. I'm just saying, if the toilet doesn't flush, you should slap a "Out of Order" sign on it and get it fixed. None of the toilets at my office flush, only one of the toilets in my dorm flushes, and thats probably only 50% of the time. I wouldn't want to be a janitor at all, but here it would be a 1000 times worse.

One odd thing is that public toilets here have no seats. This doesn't make sense to me at all.

This morning when I woke up and went into the bathroom in my hall, there was water ALL OVER the floor. Now, I understand that it's a cultural difference, but I cannot get used to it. These people and their buckets of water that they bring into the stalls with them... honestly--keep it in the toilet or the bucket! PLEASE. I don't want to walk through your water. >:-O I don't understand the aversion to toilet paper... oh wait, the toilets don't flush.

*sigh* only 3.5 weeks until I get back to the land of working plumbing, toilet paper, and hot showers. I've had a great time here, but the bathroom situation sure has been...interesting...

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Quiet

Tonight has been a little weird. It's almost like they evacuated the dorm or something and forgot to tell me. There's like NO ONE here! I am enjoying the quiet, because I haven't had this...ever...since I've been here, haha.

I haven't blogged much lately because it was kind of a challenging week for me, not all that wonderful. I expect to have those every once in a while, but I really didn't have all that much to write about.

My college group at home left for Florida today, for the annual spring break trip. I'm not really all that sad to be missing it this year. Spring Break for me has always been stressful, because I always took on too much work, and when I got home I was ready for another break. So I don't have that this year, and that's okay. :D

Well, maybe I'll post more in a couple of days. It's hard to believe I have less than a month left in the Philippines!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Bohol: Days 3 and 4

I didn't have internet access last night, so I'm including my chocolate hills trip in this update.

Yesterday I took a jeepney to Loboc and decided against doing the Loboc River tour. I just wanted to make sure I got a room at the Chocolate Hills, which turned out not to be a problem. I took the bus (a crowded, very asian bus) for about an hour and a half until I reached the site.

They are beautiful, that's for sure. I watched the sun set over them, and got up early for a sunrise, and it was too cloudy so I went to bed for a few more hours.

Then I did something really impulsive. I loathe bus riding (no surprises there), so I hired a motorcycle taxi to take me back to Loboc. I was a little nervous climbing on, because I had no helmet and had like 15 pounds on my back (I had my backpack with me). It turned out to be sooo much faster than the bus though. I took a jeepney from Loboc back to Tagbilaran, and hired a tricycle to take me out to Alona Beach, where I am now.

The resort I'm staying at, I wasn't originally intending on staying. There was a such a huge language barrier between me and the tricycle driver, I just decided to stick it out. I'm paying more for a night here than I do for a whole month at more dorm.

BUT, the place is gorgeous, and the room is nice (hot water showers!) and the beach is fantastic. Never in my life did I imagine these places existed for real. I just thought all of the pictures were well edited.

I'm going to stick around the beach tomorrow and maybe do some snorkeling, and then I head back to Manila around 4pm.

I have really enjoyed this trip so far. It's not the most fun ever traveling alone, but I'm glad I've seen what I visited. I've pretty much decided to cancel my trip to Banaue though, because I do detest buses that much, and I don't want to do another trip by myself. I discussed it with Mom, and frankly, I just don't really want to go. It's much more relaxing to stay in Los Banos, and I only have a few weekends left. =D

Alright, enjoy the pictures!

Bohol

Friday, February 22, 2008

Bohol: Day 2

Well, I didn't do QUITE as much as I had hoped to today, haha. I did a LOT of walking. It was sort of reminiscent to my day in San Francisco in August.

I don't know why, but I have an unexplainable aversion of public transportation. I despise buses, tolerate taxis, and avoid tricycles and jeepneys all together. I prefer to walk.

I crossed the bridge onto Punglao in search of the caves that I had read about. Supposedly only 6 km from Tagbilaran, which is less than 4 miles. Well, I'm convinced this is an imaginary cave. I never found it! :o)

It's really no big deal though, because really, the whole reason I came on this trip is for the Chocolate Hills and Alona Beach, which are coming Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. Anything else I do on top of that is just bonus. So I got a pretty decent tour of the more residential areas of Punglao Island, haha. :oD

I had dinner at a nice restaraunt, and then because there's not much to do after dark, I saw Vantage Point at the mall. It was a pretty intense movie, but it kept rewinding (it's part of the movie, to play back parts), which sort of got irritating after a while. But it was very exciting. And now I'm here, in my room, and just about ready to go to bed. Check out the album given in my previous post for a few pictures from today's adventure!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Day 1: Tagbilaran City

I just stepped out of the first hot shower I have had since December 29th--The morning I left Seattle after Christmas. Let me tell you...It was GLORIOUS. Many of you may think "hey, it's 90F out there, a cold shower would feel good."

No it certainly does not.

Nothing can describe the feeling of every hair on your body shooting straight up as that involentary yelp explodes from your vocal chords. It never fails...every time. So needless to say, the hot shower felt great. =D

I didn't have much daylight today, just a couple of hours. I went down to the K of C Promenade to watch the sunset and then grab some dinner.

Bohol


Tomorrow I plan on visiting a couple of waterfalls or possibly a cave. I haven't decided which direction I'm going to head yet. Saturday I am going to go to the Chocolate Hills and stay overnight, and then Sunday night I'm going to search for a place to stay in Alona Beach...Hopefully I can find something.

The Tagbilaran Airport is hardly an airport...its more of an airstrip. There is one building, but it was a little weird getting off a full-size jet and walking across the tarmac. =D A fun experience though!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

More Ramblings...

[EDIT] Apparently some of you can't here this... (Chelsea, how did you?) and I can't check it right now because I'm at my office. It's on facebook as well, so check it out there...

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Thursday, February 14, 2008

This is horrifying!

I just saw this on the cnn website-- yikes...

Hilary looks like she's singing something from a broadway production... =D It's like Election 2008: The Musical. Now would that be a gem... ROFL!

On a more serious note, I just read about the shootings at Northern Illinois University. I would imagine that after Virginia Tech and now this, college campuses are going to start changing. Is it just me or is life in general turning into a prison? Metal detectors, security guards... *sigh*

"Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil..."



Pride comes before the fall...

Well, my last email to my family was sort of smug about the weather we'd been having here. It's been sunny and warm, and things are just starting to warm up in Texas. Well...

Today is COLD. I'm actually wearing long sleeves! It seriously felt like a Memorial Day weekend up at the cottage...sort of cloudy, windy, and cool. I admit, it was a nice change from the constant sweat, but I'm certainly not used to it. I suppose I'd better get ready for it, as from the looks of things Michigan could still have SNOW in April when I get home. ;o)

Well, I'm off to small group! We started studying Ezra last week. (???) I don't make these decisions. I'm a little frustrated I never finished Jeremiah...maybe I'll do it over the summer. But last week made for a fun read. We read through all 10 chapters of Ezra, which is full of geneologies and names that are really difficult to pronounce. But, it's in the Bible, so it must be worth reading!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Fertilizing in Victoria

This has been a good last couple of weeks for my internship. I'm excited that I'm getting to try a few new things and have some interesting topics for my presentation next fall.

Fertilizing here is WAY different than in Michigan. There was zero machinery involved, and 5 of us working in the field. We did 8 plots (which is less than an acre), and it took us about 3 hours. In the US, it probably would have been done in less than 20 minutes.

The "equipment" that we used was honestly a plastic bottle cap, a bin of granular urea (mixed with something, I couldn't tell), and a sharp piece of bamboo (or a machete). The corn field was planted on Feb 1, and had been prepped for fertilization before we arrived. My job was to cover up the fertilizer with soil, which was like concrete.

The two women used the bottlecap as a measure of how much fertilizer to put in each hole, and two other guys and I used the bamboo/machetes to fill in the holes. There were a lot of holes. :o)

I am just really glad I finally got to participate in a field operation! :D Along with my rice-measuring and fertilizer weighing I did last Sunday, I'd say it's been pretty educational.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Feb Fair

This week is "Feb Fair" on campus. I have no idea what that means, but something is happening. There are bamboo tents set up all over the athletic field. They started working at some point yesterday.

I'm thinking it's something like Party at the Aud for MSU or something... At least it looks similar. I'm going to have to walk through sometime when I get the chance.

Other than that, I don't have too much that is new to report. I'm heading out to Bohol next Thursday, which should be a good time. Well, I'm thinking it's time for me to get some coffee. More coming later this week...

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Balut!

Well, last night at small group we had balut afterward. Some of you may not understand why this was such a big deal to me, so here's some background.

I don't think it can be denied that I am a HUGE fan of Survivor. Well, in both the China and Palau seasons, they had to eat balut as an immunity challenge. Last season, Denise (aka waste of space--a complete bore), threw a fit while eating it and couldn't get it down, ruining quite an ingenius plan by the rest of her tribe.

/end dorkiness immediately/

So needless to say, I had to see if it was really that awful.
Balut is a partially developed duck egg that is considered a delicacy here in the Philippines. There are bones, feathers, and even a beak depending how far along it has developed. The black part in the pictures below are feathers...
(click on pictures to zoom in)
Well...I ate two of them! Ha ha, it really doesn't taste that bad. The feathers are a little weird, and I wasn't a huge fan of the cruchiness at times... but for the most part it just tasted sort of like a mix of poultry and egg. I wouldn't make a meal of it, but occasionally its good. :o) There's quite a bit of juice that comes out too, which is sort of nasty...but you're actually just supposed to slurp it out of the egg. HAHA. It sounds so gross, but it's all psychological. If you think about what you're eating, it's awful. But hey, it's just a duck right? ;oD

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Time for a change in scenery...

I got a little tired of the way my blog looked, so I decided to switch it up a bit. I don't really have too much going on for the rest of the week. I'm going to go into Manila again on Saturday and see a movie...maybe National Treasure 2. Some Wendy's will be nice, too! :D

Well, have a good Wednesday!

Monday, February 4, 2008

Ilocos Norte, Vigan, and Baguio

I'll write more about my trip later. I'm busy with an assignment I forgot about. :o\ Enjoy the pictures!

Ilocos, Vigan, and Baguio

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Trip is confirmed!

Hey everyone! I completed my rescheduling of my flight for March 27 to Seattle. I think I will have to pay $50 in penalties, but it could be worse.

I also just bought my flight ($90) and reserved a hotel room for Bohol. I'll hopefully be staying at Isis Bungalows...I sent them an email trying to reserve a room. If it's full I'll have to look elsewhere. Looks like a nice place though, eh? Only $50/night! I'm going to look for something cheaper for the other 2 nights I'm there. I might even go stay in another city or another beach.

I'm leaving for Ilocos in a few hours. Hopefully I can sleep on the bus. :o\

Monday, January 28, 2008

I'll take some Cleistothecia with Ascospores, and a BIG FAT "F" please...

I'm just kidding about the title...But this Plant pathology stuff IS ridiculous.




I can't wait until tomorrow afternoon, when this is over with. I think I broke my brain studying tonight.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Trips Galore

The month of February is going to be full of travel for me! I'm pretty excited about it all. My schedule is shaping up like this:
My school trip takes us to Baguio, Ilocos, and Vigan. I was not excited about this at first, but I really am looking forward to the history and just seeing a different part of the country. All of these places are in Northern Luzon (Luzon is the "big island" where I am now.)

Baguio is referred to as "the Summer Capital of the Philippines." It's high in elevation, so it's cooler, and they have PINE TREES! :oD

Ilocos Norte is my professor's hometown, so he's quite proud of it. And from what I've seen, it looks beautiful. Vangie (Frisco and Vangie host our small group) is also from here.

Vigan is described as "the best-preserved example of a planned Spanish colonnial town in Asia." It's a very spanish-looking town, that should be very interesting. I expect we'll be studying the architechture.

"Ohh By George! look, there's three pillars. It MUST be a direct reference to the Holy Trinity! Did you know dat? Now you know it."
-Dr. Z
uhhh... :D

So that's my school trip, and I'm leaving for that late next Thursday night.

For my vacation, I'm going to Bohol for the weekend of February 21-25. Many of the hotels only cost $25-50 a night, so I should be able to do it all for a reasonable price. My plane tickets to and from Tagbilaran should cost less than $100. This map serves as a reference point so you know where I'm going:
Just to reassure you (Mom) that I will be safe. :D As you can tell, I'm pretty excited about all this. I'll hopefully be able to borrow Jason's snorkeling stuff, and I'll definitely make it to the Chocolate Hills and explore the other sites. I'm going to be staying at Alona Beach. Maybe I'll even see some whales or dolphins!

I am glad I'll be getting to see a lot of the Philippines before I go home. I'm a little sad I didn't get to Banaue, but I will have seen a lot of other things. I'll be able to add Baguio, Ilocos, Vigan, Manila, Los Banos, Sabang (Puerto Galera on Mindoro Island), and Bohol to the places I visited while I was here.

[Edit: 9:30PM] The more I think about it, I am going to at least look into getting to Banaue in March before coming home. It's a 9 hour overnight bus ride form Manila, but it's cheap. I could leave on a Thursday and come back Saturday or Sunday. I figure I may never come back here, and if I want to see the Rice Terraces, I should go ahead and see them. I have the money, I'll just have less when I get home. It's a once-in-a lifetime thing I don't really want to miss. I'll keep you posted.

Well, that's all for now. Tomorrow I'm going to try again on the Botanical Gardens...if it's not raining!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Politics

Wow, you'd think the election was next week the way that people are talking about politics these days. I have a bunch of friends who also have blogs, and 2 of them were about politics today.

Even filipinos, and other Asians at IRRI, seem to care about the election. Whenever I have a meal with someone in the cafeteria, they ask me about the debates or the electoral college, or how primaries work, etc. For some reason, they're interested.

It interesting because I think this is the most informed I'm going to be about an election in a long time. Even when I wasn't old enough to vote, I usually tried to at least figure out what the issues were and what the candidates represented. It's just a little weird this year because I'm NOT surrounded and bombarded with it like I would be in the US, and it's actually interesting to me to look into it myself.

I must admit, I'm enjoying finding things out about them this year, completely without the bashing commercials that I know are on TV right now. Of course, I get to look forward to all that when I get home. But I'm pretty sure I've already made up my mind on a candidate, so I can stop listening now, haha.

Thank you John for keeping me informed. I always feel like I get accurate information from you, because you're smart. If you want to read about politics and Michigan sports, check out his blog.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Thursday, January 17, 2008

A lesson in Church and German history

I haven't posted for a while because I keep telling myself I am going to do another video blog, but when I get a free moment to do one, I either think of something else to do, or I am tired so I go to bed. Maybe tomorrow, haha.

Tonight in my small group, we watched the movie Luther (Dad, I think you'd enjoy this one). It's a biopic of Martin Luther and the beginning of the Reformation. I really need to learn more about the Roman Catholic church. I've been to Mass once in my life, but I still have no idea as to what doctrine is preached, and what their belief system really is.

My entire concept comes from movies like this one, or The Three Musketeers, where the Catholic Church is always portrayed as a corrupt establishment that is eager for nothing but money and power. These make for a great storyline, and I'm sure some of it is true, but there HAS to be more to it than that. I've decided that I'm going to attend a Mass here in the Philippines next week, it should be interesting. It should give me a new cultural experience on top of the new form of worship. I'm just interested in learning more about it all.

What made tonight even more interesting was that Christine (A native German in our small group) had a lot of history to explain parts left out of the movie. It's amazing how intertwined religion and politics were during that period in history!

On a different subject, I'm thinking of scratching my trip to Boracay and going to Bohol instead. I'll keep you posted!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Mall of Asia

It's been a while since my last entry! I'm not dead, just busy... :D

Wow...It is raining BUCKETS. We haven't had any rain really since I got back from Washington, so I guess we're catching up today. It was raining when I woke up this morning, and it's raining even harder now at 11pm.

I left for Manila today, and had a GREAT day at the Mall of Asia. I had Wendy's for lunch (and it surprisingly tasted like home...they had good cheese! :D ), complete with a frosty. Very, very happy about that. Notice the "all-american burger" on the tray...I sort of doubt that.

Then I went to Starbucks, and had a great grande mocha. It's nice to get a little taste of America once in a while, after days of Chowking and KFC. I don't even count KFC as American food anymore, because I don't eat it in Michigan, EVER.

Here's some pictures of my adventure:












Haha, they even had pho. There was some sort of concert thing going on in the blue round area...I have no idea who it was, but they were REALLY bad at lip-syncing.

The ride home was loooooong. It took over 3 hours this time because of traffic! It's only 40 miles! Next time, I will go later and stay later. The traffic is much lighter later in the evening. The buses run until 11pm, so I could just catch a movie at the mall or something. I thought about seeing the new National Treasure (It just came out this weekend), but didn't want to stay too late this time. Maybe next time! :D

Well, hope you have a great weekend!

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Running away from ferocious dogs...

Hey! I went up to take a picture of the view today, but got chased by some of the mangiest, meanest looking beasts I have ever seen. I was legitimately afraid. I need to get a stick or something. I didn't see these ones last time I went up there. It's amazing how territorial dogs can be. Here's the album with a few pictures in that area (pre-evil dogs) and then down near IRRI. The sunset behind Mount Makiling is a good one. :o) (The newer pictures are at the bottom of the album).

Around Los Banos
I had a pretty decent day today. Busy, but good. I found out that I did much, MUCH better on my Plant Pathology exam than I thought, and that was a relief. I also discovered that I don't have a final in that class. YAY! I only have a potential final in Plant Physiology--one that I am working very hard not to take. All I need is a 60% in the lab and the lecture, and I should be able to pull that off. Although, this is the first time the lab has ever been harder than the lecture portion of the class. The lab for this class is totally ridiculous...it's INSANE. We have lab exams (bringing the grand total of exams for this 3 credit class to a whopping SEVEN EXAMS in one semester.), and I get scores like 6.9 and 6.65 on my labs. I don't get her grading scale at all.

Humph. :D I'll make it to 60%, I'm sure. I just have to study hard. Developing discipline was one of the goals of this trip for me, and I'd like to think it's going well. I have been running every day for the past week, and spending a lot of time studying. I put up some strict rules for myself and am forcing myself to abide by them. I'm not always happy about it now, but I'm sure I will be in the long run.

OK, that's enough for today. Have a good one! :oD

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Guess What I found!

I try to take an hour walk every day, on top of my running, to just enjoy the scenery around the campus, because it's so very different from anything we have at home--even what I've seen in Florida. Yesterday, I decided to take a different route. I turned right out of my dorm instead of left, and walked up the hill.

I haven't gone that way before because I was chased down by a couple of guard dogs in the dark last time I was up there, and it seriously FREAKED me out. So I went while it was light out this time, and turned left at the top of the hill instead of right.

WELL, let me tell you, this is the most beautiful area in Los Banos that I have seen yet. There are orchids hanging from the trees, and there's an AMAZING view of IRRI and the city. WHO KNEW? There's a lake! A big lake! I knew Laguna De Bay was out there somewhere, but I didn't realize it was like right on the other side of the supermarket! Plus, I could see past the mountains surrounding the town, and into the next valley.

I will definitely be bringing my camera up there next time I go, and I will post the pictures on here. It's gorgeous! Today is mostly cloudy, so there wouldn't be as great of a view--maybe tomorrow afternoon or something.

I have to be careful where I go over there, though, as well. I got chased down by some vicious dogs again. It must be required to own a mean animal to live on the hill. I'm careful though, I just try to act like they don't phase me, because they can sense fear. But they phase me, and inside my head I'm running for my life, haha.

Well, Have a great Sunday!

Friday, January 4, 2008

Transplanting

Today was a good day. I observed transplanting for the Long Term Continuous Cropping Experiment, and learned a lot! Weatherwise it is close to the best day I've had here. It was party cloudy and maybe 74F with a breeze. And there was less haze then usual, so I could see much further into the mountains than I had before.

Here's some pictures:












They use a long flat board with pegs on the bottom to carve out a grid on the soil surface, and then plant on the corner of each square. The rice is previously planted in a green house, and comes in rolls like you would see with turf. They did the entire one-hectare plot in about 6 hours, so they work quickly. From what I could tell, there were about 50 people out in the field.

I did quite a bit of homework today, so I'm pretty proud of myself. Hopefully this trend will continue, haha. Well, I have a few things I have to get done. I'll post more tomorrow! :D

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Weather disfunction

It's actually sort of cool today. There's quite a breeze, and for once I'm not sweating! Hopefully it won't be too warm on Friday when we're planting rice for the long-term experiment. I don't know how involved they expect me to be, but I plan on being out there for a while. :D It should be interesting and fun. I'm looking forward to it.

Not much happening today. I think I have class at four, but campus is still dead. There are very few students walking around, so I'm wondering if we'll have class.

I've decided that I'm going to start running every night. When it cools down, its actually quite pleasant, and I've been needing to get some type of exercise. I think it will work out pretty well.

Well, I'm going to get ready for class. I'll post more later! :D

*EDIT: 5:04pm* Apparently the chancellor canceled class today! :oD Yay for an extra hour and a half NOT in class!