Monday, December 29, 2008


The time between Christmas and New Years in our house was almost more jolly than the holidays themselves. Anna has been hard at work (some days harder than others) at getting her CPA certification. Her first exam did not go well, and she didn't pass. Her second exam went better and she passed. Over a month ago she re-took the first failed test. For some odd reason the scoring process takes forever and she must wait for her results to come via snail mail to find out if she passed. She was anticipating her results much more than any Christmas gift I could ever give her.

As this fiscal year came to an end, I realized I had unused educational budget. I decided it was time to increase my marketability and get another certification. Since I first got the A+ hardware certification years ago, the course has changed significantly. I figured might as well fully complete it with the new objective. Due to the shortness of the remaining year I had to take the test with a couple weeks notice. I crammed like there was no tomorrow and today I took and passed the test, with a 840 out of 900!

This same day Anna finally found out her results and she passed her test as well! Needless to say, there was much rejoicing in the Bodine household. We ate at a Korean restaurant of Anna's choice and enjoyed a nice night together at home.

This morning we awoke with the grim realization that she passed but two of the four CPA tests, and I only one of my two. D'oh! Well, here's to milestones anyway!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Near the Equator...

Being from Arizona, I'm not missing the lack of a white Christmas. But I do miss cold ones. Christmas without cold air is just not the same. But, I figured that I might as well make the most of this unique warm December climate.

About a week before Christmas I officially kicked off the season by scuba diving with Santa.

Scuba Santa

Scuba Santa

On Christmas day, Anna and I hit the water again with some friends. Our office just had a personnel change and a soon-to-be-retired man and his wife moved to Guam. It's just the two of them and Anna and I don't have family here, so we teamed up to go diving together. Well, Anna does not dive, so we had a half dive/half snorkel group. I had all my scuba gear on, so I went back and forth between the two. At the end I took Anna to a shallow 4 foot part and let Anna see what it was like to scuba. I'm thinking that it will be some time before Anna finds any compelling reason to actually dive. Oh well.

Having the day after Christmas off, I thought I'd continue my celebration of things you can't do in the mainland US on Christmas. I went GeoCaching. With a small group, we went to Sella Bay in the South of Guam. It was a full day as the hike was a few miles round trip.

The old Spanish Bridge

Beautiful Sella Bay

This picture was taken with a timer hung upside down from a tree limb. Hence the pine needles in the shot.

"I am so tired..."

We even went to a unique cache that you must wade waist deep to get to. The water was barely tepid.

Our Christmas tree is still up for now. And I have turned the air conditioner way down to simulate winter as much as possible. But I feel that I have made the most of this warm and green Christmas as possible.

Next year I'll be here in Guam still, and very possibly many more to come. With all the fun I've had and activities I've done there was one thing that made this Christmas as enjoyable as it was. I've made friends here, but without actual family, Christmas is just missing something. The nice thing about being married is that you have a family that you have made yourself. This Christmas was special because I got to spend time with Anna.

Anna kissing Santa Claus (and when I find him, I'll kill him)

Monday, December 01, 2008


This year I got my Christmas gift early. I asked Anna to get me WiiFit, which is just as much for her as me (ascetically).

If you are unfamiliar with this product, it's more than just another Nintendo game. It's a home workout program. It comes with a balance board that is also a scale. Each day you take a fitness test and measure your body mass index, weight and "WiiFit age." I also spend some time working out with WiiFit. It has yoga, strength training exercises, aerobic activities, and games. With all there is to do, I don't find myself getting bored too quickly.

Well, free plug for Nintendo aside, I really do like it. Anna let me use it early because Nintendo stuff flies off the shelves so I had to get it when it was there. And if I waited until Christmas the one she bought wouldn't be covered under store's 30 day warranty any more. If we had a bad one, we'd wait forever to get a manufacturer replacement. Since Anna wants a skinnier husband, I think it was easy for her to relent.

I have had the WiiFit for one week now. In that time, I have already lost more than 8 pounds! And this includes Thanksgiving Weekend! How's that for results?

I also like that the Wii seems to be on my side. The very first day we tried it out, Anna and I each set up our personal accounts and did our initial testing. The system said I had the physical prowess of a 22 year old (7 years younger). After it tested Anna it said she had a WiiFit age of 38 (13 years older)! Ha. Just further proof to all you skinny people out there that being heavier does not mean you are less healthy. Sometimes after Anna does a particularly bad job at something WiiFit will ask her if she has trouble walking and often trips.

Last night, when I passed the mark of losing 8 pounds it asked Anna if she noticed that I was getting more fit. It didn't just mention it, it actually asked her. And it asked her to reply on how my looks have changed. The options were 1)He looks skinnier 2)He looks more trim 3)He looks healthier and 4)He looks the same. Naturally, Anna selected that I look the same.

After she answered WiiFit was disappointed and suggested to Anna that she is just not paying enough attention to me. Truer words were never spoken. It's as if they custom made this game just for me.

I'm no 150 pound wonder yet, but at least I'm now moving in the right direction. I was hesitant to blog about this, because that would mean that you would expect to see this lean mean trimmer Jared soon. I don't like that pressure. But I have to say, I think it's nice to be loosing some pounds finally. And at the rate I'm going, I'll make my 100 pound wife, Anna, look fat any time now...that should be easy...

Monday, November 17, 2008

World Wide Flash Mob Event IV: Attack of the Pirates...

You might have seen on my flickr page that I had a pirate costume for Halloween. That's not entirely true. I was dressed up as a pirate just shortly after Halloween for a Geocaching activity. It's called a "Flash Mob."

A flash mob is where you suddenly have a swarm of people arrive at a place suddenly for a short time, then just as quickly as they come, they leave. It's an odd but fun thing to do. This was a flash mob tied in with a geocaching activity. I am the self-declared official videographer for the world famous Guam Geocachers. So I put together this video. I really wanted to use music from "Pirates of the Caribbean" but decided it was best to keep it royalty free. Still, I think it works. Enjoy!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Halloween 2008...

Another year, another slew of costumes. I usually have two or more costumes for Halloween. This year, I had three.

The first was for the Branch Trunk-or-Treat.

The second came out of a youth activity called "Where's Waldo," based on the popular children's picture books. The adults dress up in disguises and walk about the mall while the youth see who they can spot. "Nate" was easily the best one there.

Two groups never found "Nate" but they did see him. That's a good sign of a job well done.

The third was actually on Halloween for work and a friends party afterward. It was a recycled convict outfit. I didn't do much to it, mostly out of the box and since I'd used it before, I didn't bother much with getting pictures...sorry.

Anywhere, there you have it. In another week I'll be dressing up as a pirate, but for a Geocaching themed event. After watching the Halloween clip of The Office I thought my "Joker" outfit was less original. But in the wake of the Pirates of the Caribbean videos, I still think it was far better than the over-done pirate costume...and here I am doing it next week. Oh well.

Next year, I should raise the bar even more...

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

My Fifteen Minutes...

My friend sent me this video. I think it's pretty darn funny. I don't support Obama and even if I wanted to vote for him, it wouldn't matter since I live in Guam where we don't' get a say in the U.S. presidential elections. Still, funny stuff, especially because I'm in it.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Green Tea and the LDS Church...

Hot Drinks... This is a never ending "hot topic" (pun intended). It seems that people out there really love their green tea. Well, I've had it, and I will take the soap box once again, dodging the fiery darts of some fellow members, and hope to lay to rest this debate.

Question: Is green tea against the Word of Wisdom for members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints?

Answer: Yes. Justify, avoid, deflect or use any other means you deem necessary to try to make it acceptable in your head. But the fact remains that is is not permitted. You may choose to drink it; we never sacrifice agency. But you will not be following the guidelines of the church. Period.

I wrote a post earlier that mentioned this debate. The comments I got on it were mainly on the tea subject. Here is what I said and two comments from it:

"Anna was in Relief Society during a lesson on the word of wisdom. At one point they spoke about green tea. Suddenly a member of the RS raised her hand and said, "But I drink green tea every day. It's good for me." Kudos to the one Japanese sister who stood up and declared that green tea by any name was unequivocally against church policy. Many others in the room appeared to be on the fence. The tea drinking sister stood firm on her ground. Then to try to keep the atmosphere politically correct, some raised their hands and said something to the effect of, "Well, it may be good for you. And if it is, then that is OK. But that is something that you need to determine for yourself. But just don't preach that to others."

Anna came out of that meeting scratching her head and slightly puzzled. She said it seemed as if they had just successfully justified drinking green tea. Anna is Asian and from tea country. Had she been any less brilliant than she is, she could have walked away from there thinking it was acceptable to drink it. Had I been there, I would have stood up and let them know that any justification is not good enough. The Church is clear on this one. Anyone drinking it should not be taking the sacrament or be worthy of a temple recommend."

"Having read your blog and paying special attention to your stance on 'green tea', I have to plainly say that it is exactly that: 'your stance'. Having been in a bishopric, I can certainly tell you that it is not as black and white as we would often times like it to be. The church handbook is clear only in the sense of 'coffee and tea.' It is just as easy to justify that members not drink herbal tea because it is a hot drink and is called a 'tea' as it is to say that green tea is prohibited because it says 'tea'. Either side can be justified easily. As for the relief society conversation, had I been there I assure you there would have been an intersting debate. You also have to keep the culture of the people in mind. And again, having been in a bishopric 'twice actually' drinking green tea [is] not sufficient grounds for yanking a temple recommend. You have to justify taking it just as much as not taking it away. Unfortunately, not so cut and dry. Like to hear from you about this if time permits. Cheers!"

"Funny that I happened to stumble across this blog article when searching for the churches stance on white and green tea. Guess what, there isn't one. The word of wisdom only specifies not to take in things which are harmful to your body. Green tea and white tea, which are not fermented, do not fall under the category of harmful since leaving out the fermentation process also leaves out all the harmful chemicals. Just as the poster above me has stated, you need to be more clear on what is your opinion rather than stating it as fact. Otherwise you'll upset a whole lot of people who currently drink herbal and green teas. There's no official stance on the matter, so don't try to sound like Mr. High and Mighty by saying you shouldn't drink them."

Call me "Mr. High and Mighty" if you wish, but here's the straight deal, no more mincing words. Now, anyone can claim anything they want. So I have had to do some leg work as well. For simplicity I'm linking many statements to Wikipedia. I know the site is not an official source of knowledge and without fault. But it's a convent reference point and everything I say can be verified by checking with other sources as well.

This is not a debate on why tea is not allowed. Fermented or not; Caffeine or not, I don't care. I'm not one of those who declare we cannot have a can of cola if it has caffeine in it.

First, let's clarify what "Green Tea" is. Green tea comes from the root of the Camellia sinensis plant. This is the same plant that is used for Black Tea, White Tea, Yellow Tea, and Oolong Tea. Naturally, being of the same plant and basic chemical makeup, all of these teas are also subject to the same restrictions.

Also, we seem to be oddly omitting some basic common sense. When the Doctrine and Covenants says, "hot drinks" what do you think it could be referring to? What hot drinks did they have back then? Coffee and Tea are just about the only two I can think of. They may have had warm apple cider, I suppose. But back then apple cider was generally alcoholic and distinctly different than apple juice. No one can debate whether or not Mormons should be drinking anything alcoholic. Hot coco did exist, but was not as common in that part of the world back then and was limited to relatively wealthy socialites. The drinks Joseph Smith and the early Saints had access to that could fall into the category of hot drinks are Coffee and Tea and was not debated at the time. This is of course, the "common sense" answer.

The old phrase "Common sense ain't so common any more" fits in here. So we need some authoritative word. I know, it would be nice if we didn't have to be "compelled in all things," but alas, it seems many need it on this one.

I did have trouble finding any official published Church material on the subject, as most people have. So I went up my chain of authority. I am a member of the Branch Presidency here in Guam, so I skipped that level. The District presidency agreed, but also couldn't find any written proof. I went to the area's Mission President, who was at the time, President Gary Marshall. He agreed with me, but again, was unable to find something official. He then took the matter to Elder Evans. Elder David F. Evans of the First Quorum of the Seventy of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I'd say he's got more experience than being in a bishopric "twice actually."

President Marshall was kind enough to send me a copy of the correspondence. Elder Evans' definitive response is below.

Dear President Marshall,

...Green Tea has long been determined by the First Presidency to be within the definition of hot drinks found in the 89th Section of the Doctrine and Covenants. This misunderstanding was also within the Church in Korea until it was clarified and reaffirmed by the First Presidency a few years ago. Please give this instruction to those within the Micronesia Guam Mission. If there is need for further clarification, please do not hesitate to let me know. Again, thank you for all that you do to keep the Church in order and the doctrine pure.

Elder Evans

Well? I think it'd be hard for naysayers to combat that. This isn't Elder Evans speaking from the stance of a personal opinion. This is as good as official as anyone should need. If this still does not suffice, then no amount of evidence in the world would be sufficient for you. Drink away, but don't mislead others into believe it is a correct action.

I have also spoken with Elder Pita Hopoate an area Seventy who supports this statement.

Yes, I understand that there are other teas that are what we call"herbal". I've know of teas made from rose pedals, etc. And these acceptable teas are the reason why so many feel they can justify teas that come from the camellia sinensis plant. They figure if it comes from a plant and is not fermented, it must be herbal. Marijuana is herbal. So are coffee beans. But we all know we can't indulge in those as well. I'm not an expert of all teas, but this much should be clear. If it is a tea that has come at any point from the camellia sinensis plant, don't drink it. If you are unsure, it's probably best to avoid it.

I'm now descending from my "Mr. High and Mighty" post atop this electronic soap box. I am interested what anyone still defending green tea would have to say on this. I'm ready for personal attacks and the like. But I would be impressed if someone could offer a good counter or rationalization for continuing to drink green tea in light of the evidence at hand.

Lastly, I'll just leave you with one more thought. We all have the light of Christ in us. If we sincerely want to know the truth, the Spirit will be there guide us. It shouldn't be too hard to know for yourself about this issue. In the words of Jacob, "O be wise; what can I say more?" (Jacob 6:12).


Monday, October 13, 2008


I can't believe it. I've been hijacked. No, not my car or air plane. My website,! I'm not very thrilled. If you check it out now you'll see what I mean. I still haven't quite figured out the extent of the damage, but I know they've wiped away all of the photos from my site, and who knows what else. I'll have to rebuild my site now. Ick. I'm getting tired of html development.

Anyway, since I'm sure this post will last longer I'll post a screen shot of what it looks like so when I fix my site, you'll get to see what I'm talking about.

A screen shot of what my hacked website looked like

Believe it or not, this is quite common these days. I've been reading about this. The Arab nation isn't the only place these people are coming from, either. And there's not much I could do about it. My hosting server was hacked, not my user account, so I probably should have some choice words with my hosts.

Anyway, be vigilant if you own a site. And make sure you have the whole site backed up, so you can just copy it back when this kind of stuff happens.

Looks like I'll be back to the drawing board...

Friday, October 10, 2008

The Doctor's Report...

I mentioned a few weeks back that I went to see the doctor (and it didn't go so well).

Last week I got a call from the doctor saying she went over my results from the urine and blood work and wanted to see me again to go over the results. *Gulp*

So, met with her this week. I normally don't get uncomfortable in hospitals or waiting rooms. I keep my cool pretty well. But knowing that they called me in to look at my chart, and keeping in mind my family's history of heart disease and potential for diabetes, I was getting antsy. This is naturally why the waiting took longer than usual.

Eventually they decided to call me in. The nurse took some basic stats. I was nervous and my blood pressure was a bit higher to reflect that. Not a good sign.

After 30 minutes in the waiting room, and another 40 minutes in the patient room, I finally got down to the reason I was there. The doc opened up my file and started with my cholesterol. It was good. In fact, it was very good. She seemed very pleased with my results. She also went over my blood sugar, and again seemed satisfied. I sighed relief. I was still dodging those bullets that I thought were marked for me.

But then why was I there? Did I fork over a co-payment to find out I was fine? Nope, she then looked over my white blood cell count. It was 5 times what it normally is. She was worried I had some illness lurking within that my body was trying to fight. We went over my history and I reminded her of the flu shot she recommended I get and that I didn't want. It gave me the flu. The next morning was when I came back to get my blood taken. That's why my white blood cells were up - I was fighting the virus she gave me!

All that anxiety for nothing. This reminded me of the time that I got a call from the Blood Bank of Hawaii. At least I found out that all things considered, I'm still pretty healthy.

There was one other thing she mentioned. My HDL (the good cholesterol) was a bit low. She speculated it was due to the fact that I'm a computer geek and don't get enough cardiovascular exercise. It was recommended that I get more exercise to bring those levels up.

Of course, this is the same doctor who suggested I get the flu shot that made me sick. Can I trust this voodoo medicine of "exercise"? I think I better stick to my regimen of cheese and Wheat Thins coupled with Kitchen Nightmares reruns. I did, however, successfully leverage this advise into convincing my wife to get me the Wii Fit, so this experience wasn't a total loss.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Making 3D Photo Worlds is a Synth...

I'm not one to blindly (and without profit) plug a site or service. But thought this one was cool and I can also show off my work.

Microsoft recently created a new site called Photosynth. Long story short, it takes a huge heaping of photos from a given locale or scene, blends them together where they overlap and creates a "walk through" of them. Not quite a true 3D expirence, but still pretty cool. In order to really get it, you have to go there.

That being said, I've already made two. Both come from Saipan. When I was there I took a lot of pics of The Last Outpost and The Grotto. Check them out.

Saipan's Last Stand
Saipan's Grotto

Also, it should be noted that this being a Microsoft project, there are catches. First, you must download and install yet another plugin. As if having to get Silverlight, Adobe Flash, Adobe Shockwave and all those others wasn't a pain enough. And second, this only works on Windows XP and Visa. Sorry Mac, your cool scruffy image that needs a haircut can't join in the party. Sucker...

Thursday, October 02, 2008

I have CHD, and I'm Lovin' It!

Comedic photo of cover of the newspaper in Saipan. It explains how you have Chronic Heart Disease (CHD) and is brought to you by McDonald's. I'm guessing the editor got some flack for this one.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Reason To Listen To Your Mother #6...

I grew being inundated with wives' tales. One that most people can identify with is that I couldn't go outside without a coat, because somehow being cold, gave you a cold; even if you were not actually exposed to the cold virus.

When I was young, my mother also told me a few times to be wary of getting vaccinations. She wasn't opposed to them as a general rule. And as a child I got my fair share of the necessary shots. But she also warned me that a fair amount of the time the inoculation will actually cause the person to get the very thing they were trying to avoid. If you understand the science of how vaccinations work, it does make sense.

However, I had never actually seen any evidence to support this claim. Also, I have come to think that science has improved over the years and our trusty eggheads have got this thing down to a,

In the wake of my father's recent heart attacks and surgeries, I figured it'd be best to take advantage of my heath care plan and get my free annual checkup. Yesterday, during the course of the visit, the doctor asked me if I wanted a flu inoculation. I began to think of all the things I have going on right now. The big General Conference broadcast kicks off this weekend. That is one of the busiest weeks of my year for work. Also, I had a trip scheduled to fly to Saipan to work on some equipment there. And, I also had an exciting scuba diving outing planned. I pre-paid my way onto a boat that is going to a dive site only visited a couple times a year. I was lucky to get this slot, and I didn't want to lose it under any circumstance. Not a good week to take a chance on getting sick and I could hear the words of my mother ringing in the back of my head. So I politely declined the offer.

Later at the end of the visit she again asked me if I would take the shot. I relayed to her what my mother had told me about the consequences of an inoculation gone wrong. She acknowledged it was possible, but informed me that was very unlikely and wouldn't happen to me. In the end I said, "Well, you're the doc, doc. If you advise it, I'll do it."

I'm sure you didn't get all the way to this point in the story without already knowing how this ends. I'm currently sick, with a bad flu. I'm at home, knowing that I should be working on getting the satellite equipment ready for the broadcast. I know that I should be packing to go to Saipan. I also should be readying my gear for my big scuba diving trip this weekend. But alas, I am home, kicking myself for not heeding to the words of my now proven wise mother.

Does this mean I have to start beleiving all of my mother's long-held wives' tales? Or worse yet, Anna grew up in a different country with a whole slew of other equally unlikely wives' tales. Will I have to start believing those as well? If so, between the two sets of beliefs, the next time you see me walking around it will be in a germ free bubble.

The Future for Jared

Sunday, August 17, 2008

More or Less to Love...

When Anna and I are sitting together and she feels compelled to hug me something always sullies the mood. She hugs, then stops, looks down at my stomach and then smacks it. Sometimes she will grab what she can and squeeze. Then she will look back up in my eyes and say, "I love you, except for this one. The rest of you is fine, but you have to loose the belly."

I am prepared for this complaint. I usually say something to the effect of, "If you love me, and that's part of me then that is just more of me to love."

The last time I tried this Anna thought for a moment and replied, "No. Since I don't like that part of you and that part keeps getting bigger then that is just more of you for me to hate."

Dang, she got me there...

Friday, July 25, 2008


N 14 deg 22.839'
E 120 deg 34.677'

Corregidor Island

Of all things we saw on this trip, Corregidor Island was one of the "must see" spots for my dad. He's a bit of a history guy (that's what he got his Masters in). If anyone has any interest in WWII, then they would definitely have interest in Corregidor. I was very ill educated on the subject of Corregidor until this trip. I do have interest in WWII, but never applied myself enough to learning. When being in a place like this, you can't help but be immersed in history.

When you arrive at the docks, they herd you into a trolley and introduce you to the sperm shaped island. But they call it a tadpole shape. As you drive around, a tour guide will point out the significant sights and let you walk around the most interesting spots.

All along this island are gun stations and bunkers. Really, the whole island was one big military fort.


I had the James Bond theme stuck in my head thanks to this shot.

And you can tell they were not just for show. Some of the ammunition was the size of my wife. Much of it larger than her.

She's the Bomb

Yeah, she's the bomb.

One of coolest things we learned about was about the faux boat the US made. There is a small island off to the side of Corregidor that is roughly the size of a battle ship. They covered the island in concrete and added guns to make us look more fortified. Awesome.

Faux boat

I think dementia has finally set in with dad. Whenever he found a big gun barrel on the ground, he'd crawl on it and yell, "Banzi!" as if he were a Japanese conqueror.



Although heavily fortified, the Japanese wore us out and took over the island. It took four years for us to regain the land. As the island fell to the Japanese, the famous leader MacArthur was given orders to leave. He faced the island before boarding his vessel and said his famous words, "I Shall Return!" I believe he said it just like that. But I think that's only the last half of the quote. "[When it's clear and safe, then I think] I Shall Return!" I have a quote like that of my own.

I Shall Return

"[I doubt] I shall return."

There was so much blood shed here. We lost many of what we call our greatest generation. The Japanese lost many of theirs as well. It's an odd combination of amusement park, tourist attraction and war memorial.

Eternal Flame

The Eternal Flame memorial

Although we rode the trolley through most of the island, it was a tiring day. We arrived back at the docks at diner time. We walked to the nearby mall after our driver dropped us off at the hotel.

This was also time for my parents to say their last good-byes to Anna and me. We swapped pictures and just talked in our hotel room for a while. We said "good bye" and by the time Anna and I woke up the next morning, my parents had left for home. Anna and I have two more days to go.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

An Island in a Lake in an Island in a Lake in an Island in the Ocean...

N 14 deg 00.560'
E 120 deg 59.780'

It takes some time to wrap your head around this one. Taal Crater is special. As I said in the title of this post, this is where you have an island in a lake in an island in a lake in an island in the ocean. Let's use Google Earth to help explain it.

Ocean, Island, Lake, Island

Here you see the Philippine Sea to the bottom left, then the island of Luzon, then Taal Lake, then the crater that makes an island with a lake in the middle of it. There is a smaller island in the crater lake you can't see from this distance.

Lake, Island, Lake, Island

Here you see the small center island (only takes one pixel) in the crater lake, the crater and then Taal lake with Luzon just to the left.

Ok, so now we understand what were are seeing, I'll tell you about the trip. After a two hour drive, we get to the dock. To get to the crater we commission a boat to the crater island.


Crossing the Lake

Once you get there, the people that live on the island look very uninterested in us...until they have something to sell to us. I don't think I ever felt more fleeced the whole Asian tour than I did here.

As we walk toward the horse stables, we are approached by anyone that thinks we have money to spare. We are asked to buy drinks. Then snacks. Then drinks again. We were led to the "stable" where we mounted the smallest horses I've ever seen.


The dogs horses that we rode to the top.

As we started along the way, people kept approaching us selling things. Mostly, they were trying to sell us disposable masks to cover our mouths and noses. I didn't want one, but one woman insisted I needed one since it was so dusty. I kept saying no, they kept telling me how dusty it was and how much I'd regret it. Of course, It wasn't dusty at all and I only would have regretted buying it.

Just as I get rid of the woman she comes back demanding 50 Pecos. I told her no, I didn't want one, I owed her nothing. And then I noticed Anna in front of me had one on. Anna though she said 15 Pecos. She took one and told the woman to get the money from me. Irk.

Once the woman got tired of walking along our horses the ride became more peaceful...for a moment. Then my guide started talking. Rather than let me guide the horse or ride one along side me, he was hiking up the volcano holding onto the, horse's reigns. He was telling me that he'd never gone to the crater before and this was his first time taking a tourist up on his horse. I knew that to be a lie right away. But he thought if he looked more sweaty and tired and was new and out of shape that I'd tip him better. He does not know how cheap my blood runs.

When we reached the top we were again approached by people insisting we buy drinks. I brought my own water knowing I'd be thirsty. So they didn't bug me too much about buying a drink for myself. Instead, they insisted I get a drink for my guide. He was pretty sweaty and and I'm not totally heartless, so I got him a drink and gave him the change from it. He put his hand out to accept the change. Afterward I realized he had his hand out for the change before there was any indication that I would even give it to him.

After the change was in his hand he looked down at it and said, "Tip."

I told him, "Yes, this is your tip."

"No, no, I need tip."

"Um, that IS you tip."

He gave me stink eye. "No, tip, tip."

"We are only half way, you haven't even gotten me down yet."


I walked away and made my way to the lookout of the crater and saw the tiny island below and yellow sulfur floating in the water.

Center Island

I was also approached by a cop asking me if I've ever shot a gun before. I though this was odd, but I answered that I have. Then he asked me if I wanted to shoot some guns and guested to his sidearm. I knew right away he wanted to have me shoot a few bullets and pay him handsomely for it. I grew up in Arizona. Riding horses and shooting guns for me is like eating coconuts for Hawaiians. I declined.

I got back to my guide and he was less than thrilled with me. The entire way back down he couldn't stop talking about his tip and how he deserves more. He was saying how it's not just him, but money for his horse and to feed him, etc. I told him I was no stupid tourist and I knew that he gets paid and does not just work for tips as he tried to lead me to believe. He again didn't know what to say to me...for a few minutes.

Finally I got tired of it and told him if he wants any tip, I'd like to enjoy the rest of my ride down. I also told him how he was rude when I was offering to give him a drink and the change at the top. He should have at least thanked me. He got the hint. But once in a while he tried to drop subtle hints.

We got to the stables again and he kept eying me. It went from desperation and sympathy for a tip to a murderous give-me-your-money-or-die look. When Anna arrived I pulled out some money and gave it to him. I pretty much threw it at him, said he should be more thankful next time and he might get more.

I went to Anna's young guide (about 10 years old), gave him some money and he was elated. The thanked me and put the money in his pocket with a smile. Literally, 60 seconds later he came up to me and then asked for more. He said that money was from me, but he didn't get a tip from my wife. I told him that was the tip from my wife. So then he asked where my tip for him was. I had nothing to do with him on this hike, there was no way I was giving him more.

As we walked back to the docks more people wanted us to buy drinks. We just ignored them. As we were boarding our boat some guy came up to my dad and insisted that my dad pay 60 Pecos per person as a fee for using his dock. His "dock" was a wooden board from the sand to the bow of the boat. My dad was probably as sick of being swindled as I was. He just completely ignored the guy and sat on the boat.

The trip was neat, the sight was cool but I will never return there again. I took a lot of pictures and video so I won't have to. I know they live in meager circumstances. I know they do have a need for income. I know that we are comparatively rich. But the attitude of entitlement and persistent attempts to squeeze every last Peso out of you puts such a sour taste in the mouth of the tourists. I wouldn't recommend this destination to anyone. It would suit them right to chase off all of the tourists and then they might have a change of heart. If they want to make a living off of tourists, they need to learn how to treat them.

But, griping aside, it was a pretty cool tip. And I can now say I've been to the the island in the lake in the island in the lake in the island in the sea.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Around Manila...

After the temple trip and we moved into our hotel, we started being tourists again. Through my co-worker's travel agency we booked a 3 day combo tour that'd give us the gist of what there was to see in Manila.

We battled traffic all day. I was disappointed in the jeepneys we saw. I was hoping the ornate decoration would give me something to look at while we were stuck in traffic. The jeepneys have become much more subdued than they used to be.


First, we saw some of the monuments. Except for the newer WWII monument in Washing DC between the Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial, this is the the only US made WWII memorial. It's also unique in that it's out of the United States.

WWII Memorial

Out of curiosity I checked for the name "Bodine." There was one, and as it turns out, I am related to him.

We also visited a memorial for a Filipino hero, Jose Rizal. He was instrumental in getting the locals to fight against the Spanish rule and toward independence. This spot is where he was executed and also is the spot where the US gave control of the Philippines back to the locals after WWII.

Jose Rizal Memorial

The guards are as stoic and statue-like here as those at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in D.C. or Buckingham Palace.

We then visited the Spanish fort where Rizal was held prisoner and sentenced to execution. Yes, the statue below is actual size.

Spanish Fort

Statue of Jose Rizal

Not to demean the memory of Rizal, he sure looks like Oddjob from the James Bond movies.

Of course, where there's Spanish rule, there's Catholicism. And that means visiting one dozen and one cathedrals. Due to heavy bombing from WWII there were only a few old enough to be considered historic. We visited two. In the oldest cathedral in the Philippines, I saw the biggest hymn books ever. How would you like to carry this to church every Sunday?


This old church with the white doves flying around give me a real John Woo vibe.

One of the new attractions in Manila is the aquarium. Having been a scuba diver in Guam for two years, much of this was familiar to me. But it was nice to see this stuff dry and without carrying gear.

Manila Ocean Park

Sting Ray

Under Sting Ray

Eel and Sting Ray...and me

Lastly, we attended a dinner show with cultural music. We've done one in every country we went to (almost). Rather than show bits and pieces of each one, I made a video summing them all up.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

For Time and All Eternity...

N 14 deg 36.082'
E 121 deg 04.162'

Distant temple

After my family returned from the south of Vietnam, we packed up again and left for our last destination; The Philippines.

We got into the country in the evening. All we wanted was to do was go to our accommodations and get some rest. One of my co-workers, Freddie, owns a travel agency in Manila, so we booked our Philippine sight seeing and travel through him. We waited on the curb of the airport for the private driver we reserved. And then we waited more. And then some more. After I tracked down his cell phone number I called him and he had no excuse; he was just late. An hour after he was supposed to be there, we got into the van. Maybe it's just me, but if I was picking up personal friends of the boss, I'd be early.

We drove to the Manila Temple as we were to stay in the patron housing. I was warned it'd be rustic. I wasn't aware it'd be prison-campish. Four double bunk beds to a small room that affords no privacy, let alone a place to put your luggage. There's a window AC unit, however, the power cable is just dangling there to taunt you. It won't work. The communal bathroom is as sketchy as you'd guess. Oh, and they do supply a single bed sheet and a single pillow case, but unless you brought your own towel, you'll have to air dry with 30 or so of your closest strangers.

But we were there for a special purpose that kept our spirits up regardless. Although I was hot and trying to squeeze into a bed made for umpalumpas, I woke up the next morning eager to get the day started. It was the day that Anna and I were to be sealed for time and all eternity.

As we walked out of our patron room, we got a glimpse of the temple across the street.

Across the street

This was Anna's first trip to a temple. So she needed to go through for herself first. There was mass confusion trying to get the paper work settled and renting the clothes we needed etc. We also took some pictures waiting for everything.



One of the funniest things I saw was a Mormon Mobile that was unique to the Philippines. If you have been to the PI or know people who have, you might know about jeepneys. They started out as old WWII leftover Jeeps that locals customized to make look unique and attract business for cab rides. Today, jeepneys are a common way for locals to get around. This is more of a bus than jeepney, but on the same theme.

Mormon Jeepney

Brings a new meaning to the term "Gaudy."

After the wait we finally did our session together and got sealed. It was something to look through the double mirrored walls and see a virtual forever with Anna by my side.

This was the third time we were married. First in Arizona, second in Vietnam, and the third time was the charm. The others were only till death did us part. Now, as long as we live as we should, we will be together forever. It's a great blessing and comfort. My mom was crying, my dad appeared to be genuinely proud of me, and Anna and I were beaming. It was a great day.

In front of the temple

We didn't have enough time to do a second session that day. We had to leave patron housing (which we were glad to be kicked out of) and get to our hotel in downtown Makati. We drove away and slowly the we fell out of our "special moment" trance and back to normal. But regardless of how normal we all started to feel and act, one thing would never change. As of now, Anna and I are sealed to each other for time and all eternity. And that is special.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Just Eat It...

Ok, so I think I’m a pretty good tourist. I don’t ask stupid questions. I don’t cross the lines we aren’t supposed to. I respect the sacred things of the places I visit. And I always try to enjoy the local cuisine. But at some point I have to say enough is enough.

After three weeks of eating throughout South-East Asia, I have just about had my fill of dishes were I had to ask, “What is that?” I just want something that does not involve second guessing. I have had some dishes I really enjoy, like Pho Bo, which is a beef noodle soup.

Pho Bo

But then there are the other things.


The problem with serving pill bugs is that you can't help but play with your food.

Chicken Head

It's like that duck decapitation scene in A Christmas Story, only they expect you to not waste this head.


Now there's a grab bag of fun. This makes me simultaneously thirsty and hungry.


This is a barrel of snakes. Yummy.

Table of food

While I am grateful for the food I have been provided, I have to admit that meal time in Vietnam is like Fear Factor...every time.

And what you saw above is just the stuff I came in contact with. I had fun taking some pictures of the menu choices at one place. Just look at the stuff of this menu.


This was actually my second time eating eel. It's not as gross as you'd think. But I just can't get past the thought of it in my head.


Thanks to the French, Vietnam has great pastries and cheeses. But that also means Snails and Frogs too. At least they made the frog dish sound Asian with "Sweet and Sour Frog."

Half Cooked Goat

"Half cooked goat with lemon." When a fully cooked meal won't satisfy...


I didn't know there were so many ways to cook pigeon. Someone should let New York City know. That's take care of both the pigeon infestation and starving homeless at the same time.


I don't mind rabbit, but with mushrooms? Forget it.

Trionychid Turtle

A Trionychid turtle is the kind that kids get as pets...and as snacks in Vietnam.


I know that you are thinking that where is says "crub" it's just a typo. Odds are, it's some peculiar creature you don't want to eat. If you ever assume something is a typo you'll be surprised what kind of food you actually get if you order it.

Some may not be that exotic, but all not what you eat every day in America. Don’t get me wrong. I do like to try new things. And I have proof. And now I can say for sure I never want to eat snail again.


When I get home I am going to gorge myself on Taco Bell. Please, don’t tell me how they make it or what the kitchen is like at Taco Bell. I don’t want to know.