Friday, October 28, 2016

A Bird’s Life

   I have been doing cart witnessing with a sister on Wednesdays at the Daily City BART from as far back as January 2015.  We stand by the bus stop.  The two hour long shift has been gratifying partly due to our growing affinity to the birds in the area.

   In the US the birds are protected by law.  Doves and crows are all over the place, with a few seagulls here and there.  Recently I have been prompted to feed the birds in Daily City BART.  I save any stale bread or the ends of bread loaves from home.  I toast the bread to make it crunchy, then I crumble it with a blender.

   Edith and I enjoy feeding the birds.  We feel the birds are actually beginning to recognize us.  A man, a perfect stranger came up to me to commend us for our efforts.  He said I would get good karma.  I don’t believe in karma but I know Jehovah God appreciates kindness shown to his creatures.  “Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky.” (Genesis 1:26)

   Just as Ecclesiastes 9:11 says, “I have seen … that the swift do not always win the race, …nor do the wise always have the food, … nor do those with knowledge always have success, because time and unexpected events overtake them all,” the past Wednesday was a sad one for Edith and me.  A bird, one of our birds as we have owned them in our hearts, was caught under a bus right in front of our eyes.  It was an upsetting sight.

   I looked at the birds perched on the roof of the bus stop, half expecting to find them horrified and grieving.  They simply looked the other way and went on with their lives.  

   The typical grieving time for humans, according to something I read, is about six months.  Still for some, it stays for a lifetime.  In this regard, God gave the birds a gift we didn’t get, immunity from despair.

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Friday, October 21, 2016

Muhammad Ali, In Memoriam

   Boxing champions come and go but once in a rare while one rises above the pack.  I knew little about Muhammad Ali but like most Filipinos he had a place in my heart.  I knew he changed his name from Cassius Clay and became a Muslim.  It was big news when he lost his boxing title and was thrown in jail for refusing to be drafted in the military in 1966, at the height of the Vietnam War.

   He claimed to be “The Greatest”.  According to Hauser, Thomas in The Importance of Muhammad Ali, “He set an example of racial pride for African Americans and resistance to white domination during the 1960's Civil Rights Movement.”  The Filipinos known for personal, family and national pride could relate to his racial pride.

   The fight between Ali and Ken Norton in 1973 where Ali suffered a broken jaw literally brought tears to my eyes.  The significance of this is that I have suffered personal tragedies like terminal illness and divorce without shedding a tear. 

   Then, the Thrilla in Manila happened in 1975.  The third and final fight between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier was held at the Araneta Coliseum.  Ali Mall, the first shopping mall in the Philippines opened in 1976, a block from Araneta Coliseum, in honor of Muhammad Ali’s coming to the Philippines.  It has four floors, 100 shops & restaurants and has undergone expansions and renovations in the 80’s and most recently in 2009.
   In 2006, I moved to Louisville, Kentucky not knowing it was Muhammad Ali’s hometown.  There I found the Muhammad Ali Center, established in November 19, 2005, almost 30 years after the Philippines honored him with Ali Mall.  Obviously, Ali is loved by the Philippines more than the city where he was born.

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Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Paperback Writer

   In the 60’s, writers were at the mercy of publishers.  The printing cost was outrageously expensive back then.  The printing machines were big and heavy so that manufacturing and importing them would take years maybe even decades to break-even.  From flat-bed printing press to offset printing to rotary printing press, production of reading material was labor intensive, which further added to the overhead cost. 

   As a child, I wanted to be a writer.  Adults in the family discouraged me.  They said, there’s no money in it, writers starve.  Authors become famous after they have died so that they never enjoy the fruits of their labor.  Publishers used and paid the printers.  If the books don’t sell, they lose a bundle.  Thus, the criteria for the acceptance of a manuscript for publication was so stringent that few ever make it.  You would think that in the absence of cable television and electronic games, people should have been reading more books.

   In the 70’s, I sold advertising space for a Manila daily broad sheet newspaper.  That was when I knew firsthand how printed space cost outrageously.  I gave up on my dream of writing.  Then, life happened, marriage, children, divorce.  I totally forgot I ever wanted to write.

From Wikipedia
   In mid 90’s, book printing got computerized.  Copiers went all over the place.  The personal computer came into the picture.  It made it easy for writers to edit their works, no more erasing typewritten errors with white-out.  I got myself a Macintosh but didn’t use it to write a book.  Instead, I used it to learn office software and got myself an admin job.

   At middle age, I landed on dialysis, alone in America.  The patients at that dialysis center shared television.  If one didn’t want what was showing, the 3 hours and 30 minute run felt like forever.  I bought myself a laptop and started to write a love story, mine.  Without literary training, not even a seminar or workshop, I started the first page describing the day I met the love of my life.  Then I went from page to page.  Three years later, my book has reached three hundred sixty pages.

   I gave it an ending, asked my Multimedia Designer son to make me a cover.  Printing companies were asking a thousand dollars I don’t have to print 500 copies I probably won’t sell.  I was about to give up again.  The dialysis techs noticed I have not been using my laptop.  I told Kurt, a very nice young man, that I have finished the book but don’t know what I should do with it.  He advised me to put it up on in digital download format, which I did in 2012.

   Over the years that followed, I edited the book three times from page one to last.  This year, Barnes and Noble accepted it for sale in paperback form.  Dreams fall into place when you least expect it. 

Postscript: Book reviews as of May 2017

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Monday, October 3, 2016

Pets for the Poor

   Every year, approximately 2.7 million pets are euthanized in animal shelters in the United States.  For a country of animal lovers, where do we put the blame for those deaths?  Illness, aggression and overpopulation are 3 major reasons why shelters have to euthanize pets.  This brings us to the question, with all the animal lovers fighting for animal rights, why are these pets not being adopted.  

   The strict animal protection laws have made it very expensive to keep a pet.  The most common reasons why people relinquish or give away their dog is because their apartment does not allow pets or if pets are allowed, a hefty sum is added to the rent.  

   Pet owners in America have to provide dog food, veterinary treatment, a dog walker, pet toilet and/or diapers, trainer, sweaters for walking out in winter, etc.  Thus, having a pet is a luxury.  
   The poor in America will have to find pets they can afford.  I remembered my son, Joseph used to have pigeons in the backyard.  He made the cages himself.  Here in America, birds are untouchable.  They are everywhere, dropping on cars, nesting on roofs.  A flock has been residing at the train station.  I have been making bird food for them.  I toast stale bread or the ends of the loaf then break them in bits with a blender (dry).  Then I enjoy watching the pigeons eat.

   Recently, I discovered bugs in my stock of rice.  They are harmless tiny creatures that live off the starch that covers the uncooked rice.  I washed the rice in preparation for cooking and found two.  They looked dead.  I thought they may have drowned.  I picked them and laid them on the rag by the sink.  After I got the rice cooker started, I went back to the rag to dispose of the bugs.  They are gone.  I looked and found them inching towards under the microwave oven.  I picked them up and instantly they looked dead.  
   I caged them in a zip lock bag with some bread.  Every time I pick up the bag they play dead, then wait for it, they start to move.  Those buggers know how to play dead to protect themselves!  Another marvel of God Jehovah’s creation, their almost microscopic brains can outwit a human!  

   I went home for a three-week vacation to the Philippines in spring of this year.  I fell in love with my cousin’s dog, Tore.  Now I’m back in the US I shop at Dollar Tree for dog biscuits and toys.  I send them to Tore.  In return, I get videos of him.  It’s a long distance love affair.  If Tore and I start chatting on line, someone please get me a psychiatrist.

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