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Definitely NOT A Photo Essay (Manila Edition)

I went to the Phillipines a couple of weeks ago. And while most of the trip was work related I did get to see a little of Manila.

Even though I was there the first week of November, the city was nearly fully decked out for the holidays. Never having been to Manila before, I have no idea if what I saw was just the beginning. Maybe it gets even more festive as the calendar counts down to the end of the year.

The stores were decorated inside and out. In daylight it was slightly less impressive. This was a store outside my hotel.

Even our office building was in the spirit. This full sized Santa greeted us as we arrived each evening around 9:00PM local time to match our schedules with the offices in North America.

Mall entrances were especially festive.

There are many, many malls in Manila. I don’t even know the name of the one next to my hotel. I gave up trying to find my way around. I simply wandered from floor to floor and hallway to hallway.

My sister is a talented violin player. I was excited to see a store named for the famous violin maker. However, knowing that Stradivarius violins sell for millions, I was curious what they would sell in a Stradivarius store.

Nope, not at all what I thought it was.

Speaking of things I misunderstood. The below image was the only indicator on a door to the restroom. You tell me, the Men’s Room or the Ladies Room?

Fortunately, I guessed correctly. (It helped that the other door had someone in a skirt.)

The Philippines is more than 86% Catholic. The people running the shops at the mall understand their audience. Not sure if his Holiness signed a marketing deal or if he was just an innocent bystander.

McDonalds, of course has a big presence in Manila. And it was not surprising to see it decked out for Christmas.

What was surprising was how different the menu was from McDonalds in the USA. In addition to McSpaghetti, they also served fried chicken.

By the time I left the mall and headed back to my hotel it was dark. And the store fronts were much more impressive.

Manila was a beautiful city. I just wish I had time to do a photo essay of it.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

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(c) 2019 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

Fighting With My Kids

Three rules
First, no hanging.
Second, no disconnecting the chain.
Third, you are only allowed to use your hands and feet. No clubs or bats or metal pipes allowed.

We try to have family activities and meetings every week. A few weeks ago we held a meeting where we each shared a goal that we wanted the family to help us accomplish. Some goals were simple. For example, I suggested the family could help me exercise and lose ten pounds.

I think another child picked preparing for a mission. Another wanted help practicing football skills.

My youngest son said, “I want to be a boxer.”

I’d never heard him say that before. At first I was tempted to dismiss it as a joke. He has also talked about wanting to be a stand up comedian. It turned out he was serious. Well, as serious as a 17 year old can be who’s never boxed.

So, for his birthday, we bought him boxing gloves and a punching bag. Simple, right?

I mean, how hard is it to string up a punching bag in the garage? (Actually, harder than you might think.)

First, you have to find a secure location. The bag weighs about 70 lbs. The manufacture recommends that your support be able to withstand 200 lbs. The Youtube videos suggest a beam. You drill a hole through it and put in an eyebolt.

I don’t know about your garage, but mine is very short on open beams. In fact, my entire house is pretty much free from open beams. Ceiling rafters are what keep your roof shingles from falling in on you. They are two feet apart.

I thought of spacing the bag across two rafters, but thought the twisting of the bag might skew the supports and potentially damage the rafters. I decided to use three to support the bag. That puts about 70 lbs on each rafter. My new 52″ long support board is attached with two 5″ lag bolts to each rafter. Thirty-five lbs per bolt. That seems reasonable.

Attaching a board like that isn’t like hanging a picture. You have to drill holes all the way through your board that your bolts will go through. You don’t actually want the screws to grip the board. You only want them to grip the supporting rafters. And even then, with 3/8″ lag bolts going into a 1 1/2″ wide rafter, you need to drill pilot holes to avoid splitting the rafter. And that is after you figure out where on your white ceiling the rafters are hiding.

Getting the holes drilled and the placement right while balancing a 52″ long 2×6 over your head standing on a ladder, is not a task without it’s share of challenges.

Once the board is attached, you then attach the bag with chains. Lots of chains.

You have to position the bag at the right height. What’s the “right” height? You position it so that the top of the bag is about where you would hit someone in the head. (That’s the actual criteria for how high to position it.)

The last step in hanging a bag is to attach it to the floor. You attach it to the floor so that it won’t swing too much and you can practice on your own. I had to drill a hole in the floor and attach a metal support. To drill a hole in a concrete floor you use a masonary bit and a really big drill.

So, there it is. I’m not sure how long my son will be interested in boxing. Who knows, maybe in a couple months I’ll be taking down the bag and grinding down the floor mount.

But, until then I guess I’ll just keep fighting with my kids.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

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or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

(c) 2019 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

All Food Is Gross

This post is not for the squeamish. Seriously, if you have a weak stomach you might want to move on to a post about kittens, or puppies, or maybe terminal diseases.

Understand that I don’t think it’s that bad. But, this isn’t really about me. (Okay, maybe it kind of is.)

I took a trip to the Phillipines a couple weeks ago. It was a work trip and it went very well. Manila is a beautiful city. There are nearly as many people in the city of Manila (1.8M) as there are in the entire state of Utah.

While in the Phillipines, I tried some of the local cuisine. In fact, the team I was with offered to share traditional Phillipino dishes with me. They refused to let me buy anything.

I don’t remember the names of the dishes. They were exotic, and different, and delicious. I do remember the name of one dish. It was one I was both looking forward to and dreading. I’d been warned over and over about it.

Rodney, you’re headed to Manila next week?

Yeah.

My team is going to make you eat balut.

Balut is a duck egg. . .sort of. It’s a duck egg that has been fertilized and allowed to incubate for 14-21 days and then boiled.

Balut looks like any other hard boiled egg. It’s a duck egg so it’s bigger than a standard chicken egg.

But, that’s where the similarity to a typical hard boiled egg ends.

You eat Balut by knocking a hole in the top of the egg. My friend’s didn’t tell me this. I instead broke the egg in the middle like I would a hard boiled egg.

The reason you knock a hole in the top is so that you can drink the juice before you peel the entire shell away.

So, what does it taste like?

Ah. . .sort of tastes like. . .duck.

Now comes the part most people have an issue with. You finish peeling the shell off and then dip the. . .thing(?) in either salt or viniger.

You then eat it. Well, first you pull one little “hard” part out. And then you eat it.

It was unique. It was tasty. (Tasted like duck, not surprisingly.) It reminded me alot of head cheese. Had a similar texture. I have no trouble eating head cheese.

I didn’t have trouble eating Balut. Should I have? Some people consider it unnecessarily cruel to the duck. And yet, all meat comes from an animal that died. We boil lobsters and (one of my favorite) crawfish. Is Balut that much different? Is it really that much different than a hard boiled chicken egg?

I made my peace with being a carnivore a long time ago. I’ve eaten clams, oysters, crawfish, aligator, frog legs, snails, and most cuts of beef, lamb and pork.

And now I’ve eaten Balut. (It was delicious. Tastes like duck.)

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

Follow him on
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or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

(c) 2019 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

Don’t Forget Me When I’m Gone

You’ve probably never heard of Dick King. Oh, you might have if you live in my neighborhood in Pleasant Grove, Utah. But, outside of this little corner of Utah County, you’ve probably never heard his name.

You’ve probably heard of Don King, the flamboyant boxing promoter. He was involved with everyone from Muhammad Ali to Mike Tyson. You’ve no doubt heard of Stevens King. One a world famous horror writer author of such classics as The Shining and Children of the Corn, and the Republican Representative to Congress from New York.

But, Dick King had no such fame.

It’s unusual for anyone to go by the first name Dick any more. It’s typically short for Richard. My brother is named Richard and would never dream of using the name Dick. My birth father, who is more of Dick King’s generation was also a Richard and he is known as Dick.

I think it was probably disgraced president Richard Nixon that soured us on the name Dick. He was, at times known as Dick Nixon, or after the Watergate scandal broke, he was known as Tricky Dick.

I’ve known Dick King for about eight years. He was old when we moved into the neighborhood. But, a wonderful man. He had a great love of music. Every year our church choir would stop rehersals after the Easter concert, take the summer off and then start up again in the Fall. During those off months, Dick would organize a men’s choir. He would pick the music and conduct. I sand with the men’s choir a couple of years. We had multiple four and six part harmonies. I once sang second tenor. And I had a different line than the other second tenor.

Dick’s mind started to go the last few years. In fact, during the last year I sang with them, he constantly asked me what part I was singing. I’d patiently explain that I was singing second tenor.

Oh good. We need a second tenor. Great.

And ten minutes later we’d have the same conversation.

Dick died last week. His funeral is tomorrow in the local chapel where he’s attended church for as long as I’ve known him.

Funerals are times for reflection. Our church congregation is using social media to try to make sure we have a substantial turnout for Dick and his dear widow. Apparently they had a single child. And their son has a few children.

I remember an old joke about a funeral.

Three guys were talking about what they wanted people to say at their funerals.

The first guy said, “I want them to say I was a good husband.”

The second guy said, “I want them to say I was a good father.”

The third guys said, “I want them to say, ‘Hey look, he’s moving.'”

In actuality, we won’t care what is said at our funeral. We’ll be dead. But, that doesn’t change the desire to leave something behind us. To leave a legacy. To leave the world just a little better than we found it.

During my father’s funeral, my mother worried that there would “only be 28 people” who attended. I spoke at my father’s funeral and started my remarked with, “Yes Mom, there are more than 28 people here.”

I don’t know how many will show up to pay their respects to Dick. I’ve been fighting a cold this week, but I’ll be there, to remember Dick, support his widow, but also to let my presence be a reminder that he left the world a little bit better than he found it.

Don’t wait until their funerals to tell your loved ones how much they mean to you.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

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(c) 2019 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

Here’s Your Hat, What’s Your Hurry?

There’s only one thing that I did wrong
I stayed in Mississippi a day too long
– Dixie Chicks Mississippi

Having impeccable timing is sometimes about getting somewhere right on time.

I got there just short of too late.
– Danny Glover’s character in Silverado

But, I think more often it depends on knowing the right time to leave.

Leave it to me to be holdin’ the matches
When the fire trucks show up and there’s nobody else to blame
– Miranda Lambert Mama’s Broken Heart

So, how do you know when it’s time to get out? Out of an argument, out of a relationship or out of a job?

I don’t know.

In fact, in my entire career, I’ve missed the signs more often than I’ve got the timing right. My only real success was leaving WordPerfect Corporation. I was being courted by Microsoft, but I really didn’t want to go. And then WordPerfect announced layoffs, including voluntary layoffs the same weekend I was on a recruiting visit to Redmond. I got a nice severance package. My lovely wife also picked up a severance package. I had a job that I was able to step directly into. (After a six month non-compete phase.) I timed that one pretty good.

But, mostly I tend to stick around too long. I did it at Microsoft. After a nine year career, I was in a job that was way out of my skillset. I should have walked away. I was too scared. I kept thinking that if I worked just a little harder, I could succeed. Eventually, it became obvious that I was hurting the team. I was giving the opportunity to be successful elsewhere.

How do you know? What are the signs?

I have friends who are constantly looking for their next position. They bounce from company to company, giving up vacation days and seniority for lucrative signing bonuses.

There are aspects of business that I’ve gotten better at as I’ve become more experienced. Finding the right time to leave isn’t one of them.

Have you ever nailed the timing perfectly? Left at the perfect time to maximize your earnings?

Of have you been guilty of “staying in Mississippi a day too long”?

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

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or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

(c) 2019 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

Wimping Out

A woman giving birth can almost imagine the pain of man flu.
– Every woman everywhere

I went to the doctor today. I don’t often go to the doctor. But, this could be serious. I wanted to catch it before it got any worse.

What, you ask?

Well, I’m sick. Oh sure it started with a sore throat and I was able to power through with the help of cough drops. (I ran out at one point and that was kind of hard, but I got through it.)

But, then, it started getting worse. I had a stuffy nose. . .It was really stuffed up. Oh, and I still had to keep sucking on the cough drops because of the throat thing.

But, I figured that some people had it worse than me. No one I can currently think of, but I’m sure others have suffered and it would be wrong for me to make too much of a deal about my impending doom.

But, it still got worse. A cough developed. Yeah, I KNOW! Even with cough drops. And My throut got really sore. . I’m sure it’s probably red. It might be bleeding, or that might just be the cherry cough drops, but either way, it really started to get unpleasant.

But, I’m not gonna be a burden on anyone. Mostly I suffered in silence. . .other than the hacking cough. But, of course, I didn’t need to go to the doctor. I mean, it’s just a cold, or possibly the beginnings of walking pneumonia. But, I can still push on.

But, today. Today was the worst. My ear started to hurt. I mean, this could be serious, right?

So, I went to the doctor.

So, does it hurt all the time?

Well, no. Just when I burp.

When, you burp?

Yeah, I get an intense pain during the burp.

And then it goes away?

Yeah. Until the next time I burp.

Good news. The doctor tells me I’ll live. And despite my fears, I have neither the flu, pneumonia or any unpronouncable condition. I apparently have a mild cold and a slight ear infection.

The doctor perscriped an antibiotic for my ear. But, suggested I use it only if the pain becomes too severe.

We’ve found that an untreated ear infection runs its course in about six days. If we treat it with an antibiotic, we cut that down to five and a half days. Advil and Tylonol are probably your best bet.

How will I know if it’s more serious?

If you go ten days with no relief, come back and see us.

So, I’ll push through. I’m in day four of my ten days of devastation. I’m still eating cough drops like candy and now I’ve added Advil and Tylonol.

If this is like childbirth, I have no idea why any woman would agree to have more than a single child.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

Follow him on
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LinkedIn (www.LinkedIn.com/in/rbliss)
or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

(c) 2019 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

Who Would Do This To A Dog?

I had a lot of dogs growing up. Seems like we almost always had a dog, sometimes two.

I don’t remember any talk about “it will teach him responsibility.” Or, “your dog, you have to clean up after him.” Dogs just were a part of our family. They lived with us. And too often in my memory, they died. Old age, hit by cars.

What I don’t remember much of is my dogs getting sick. At least not enough to justify the phrase, “Sick as a dog.”

Seems like it’s always men who use the phrase “sick as a dog.” I tend to have a high pain threshold. A doctor once used dry ice on my foot,

Let me know when it gets to hurting too much to bear.

I never stopped him. He finished the procedure. I put on my shoe. And then I walked out to my car and went into shock.

But, pain tolerance and sickness tolerance are completely different. I can play games in my head with the pain, right? I could be the heroic prisoner vowing, “I’ll never talk.” I could be a Avenger pushing through the pain to accomplish the mission, “I can do this all day.”

But, being sick? That’s completely different. When I get sick, (I think when any man gets sick, we turn into three year old toddlers. Yes, I want my mother! And maybe some milk and cookies.

There’s nothing noble in being sick, in “pushing through.” You never saw an Avenger fighting off a cold while they tried to take out the Hydra base.

I don’t have dogs any more. My lovely wife is allergic to all types of dog hair and dander.

Guess I’ll just have to content myself with being sick as one.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

Follow him on
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LinkedIn (www.LinkedIn.com/in/rbliss)
or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

(c) 2019 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

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