Pink insect eggs?

Update: Snail eggs. They are golden snail or apple snail eggs, an invasive species originally imported on purpose to provide food, but people don’t eat them that much, they carry a flukeworm that is bad business if they aren’t cooked well enough, and they eat loads of rice fields. But aren’t the eggs so pretty?


You can see them, if you look closely, on the blades of grass in this picture: 

Two things I’d like to share about this picture, and this find.

  1. I’ve been wondering what these are since we arrived.  The first time I saw them, they were sort of smeared on the side of the small drainage ditch right outside our house.  They were not so neat and orderly, probably either because of a storm or something had eaten some of them.  Or maybe children poked at them with a stick.  To me, it looked like some kind of pink candy, maybe a taffy, that had been chewed and then spat out.  The drainage ditch was narrow and fetid smelling, I wasn’t going to get close enough for closer inspection of chewed candy.  But then it would disappear, and then reappear.  I noticed some on sticks in the water, and the side of  a wall half sunk in water on other walks, and the other sightings were a bit more organized, orderly, and not necessarily where kids were likely to have been spitting out taffy.
    Today I saw them on the grass- I really don’t think they were there yesterday, and was able to get close enough for a more clear and accurate look.   I’ve found that trying to observe a new country, a place somewhat foreign, is kind of like trying to focus when you’ve just gotten off the tilt-a-whirl.  There is so much to notice, so much to see, it’s disorienting.  It’s a kaleidoscope of new sights, sounds, sensations, smells (let me get to the smells).  It’s hard to focus on anything, and when you do manage to single out one thing to observe, you have to tune out everything else in order to make sense of it. I have walked this same path about once a week or more since December.  I have walked it five times a week since the beginning of August.  I am always trying to see what’s there.  And almost every day I see something new, not always because it is new, but often because I have only just managed to focus on that image and separate out the colours and shapes- and smells.

2.  Davao city does not smell pretty.  It smells of garbage and diesel fumes and fetid water and manure and open drains and sewage and more, most of it unpleasant.  I don’t like to complain or be negative about a place where I am a guest and the people are so kind, but if you really want to even come close to getting a feel for the location in the photograph above, you need to think of these sensations-
IT’s not exactly a gravel road. It’s a road of loose rock, some of them the size of a child’s fist, some of the pointed, and the road isn’t flat, it’s designed to be raised in the middle and lower at the edges so the torrential rains quickly drain down to the swamps on the edges.  It’s bumpy and uneveny and sometimes the pointed bits jab in the soles of my shoes.  The Cherub stumbles a lot and she has to hold my hand to walk down the road.  In my other hand, I am carrying my umbrella, which I must have for shade, and on my back is my backpack which has the books and notebooks I study when I have time during my library work, our lunch containers (full on the way there, empty on the way back), diapers and wipes and a change of clothes for Cherub, as well as my money and various other odds and ends.

It’s hot.  It’s unbelievably hot. The temperature doesn’t begin to convey the monstrous heat of a blazing nearly equatorial sun and a high humidity level.  I am dripping with sweat, and I am not exaggerating, just standing still. Dripping.  Rivulets of sweat run down my face and my back.  It burns my eyes, it melts make-up, my hair is sopping wet by the time I get home, my clothes are stuck to my person and I usually take a shower as soon as we get back home.  One of the other things I carry is a hand towel or handkerchief for constantly wiping sweat.  Lots of people do this.

There’s a main road just at the end of this gravel road, so the sound of traffic, motorcycles, trucks, cars, and the occasional siren are a constant during daylight hours (with a slight break around noon when everybody stops to eat or nap or both).  I do hear birds occasionally, the only one I recognize is a species of dove.  I’ve seen what looks like a small heron, doves, and flocks of little birds I think are called chestnut munias.

The smell.  It’s made worse by the heat.  I don’t know the source of the water in this pond or bog or whatever it is, but there’s garbage in it, and garbage along the road. Sometimes it’s just a few things here and there, sometimes somebody has tossed a bag of rotting trash into the swampy muck and it’s burst and is rotting.  There is a constant low level miasma of fetid, malodorous stench almost everywhere I’ve been in Davao, and it’s a bit worse along here because of the swamp.  Also, there are water buffalo occasionally tied up in the drier patches of ground here so there’s that smell as well, which wouldn’t be quite so bad if it weren’t for the damp, I think.  There are a couple houses along here with a back fence on the edge of the road, and one of them has a flowerbed outside that fence full of a kind of honeysuckle (gorgeous, multiple coloured blossoms bloom at the same time, from white to pink to red).  I can’t even smell them unless I plunge my face in the blossoms.  The white blossoms smell the strongest and they bloom at night.  But the swamp, garbage, drainage, stagnant water, and the blazing sun in the afternoon just work together to overpower any other smell.

It is lovely, if you don’t think about the smell and you have a face cloth so you can constantly wipe the sweat out of your eyes so you can see it, and you don’t mind being simmered in your own sweat by the blazing sun.   I mind the sweat more than all of it or any of it.  Other than the sweat, I a’m not really grousing or complaining here, I’m just trying to give you a full picture.

Most of the rock road is in the sun, with patches of shade from the tall trees. But the swamp has no shade.  Just before it is the brick wall with these flowers:

Combretum indicum, also known as the Chinese honeysuckle or Rangoon creeper, and parrot’s beak.  Beautiful.

But always, the smell.

The water buffalo are also tied up by the sidewalk on our walk home and so we are hemmed in by the traffic and its smells on one side, and the tall weeds and waterbuffalo on the other side, and dodge cow pats on the sidewalk as we go.  I am better at dodging than the Cherub.  One good thing about the heat is that the cowpats on the sidewalk do dry quickly, so she mainly ends up kicking them into poop dust rather than squelching.



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The island of Barbuda is only around 60 miles long, and Hurricane Erma was nearly 400 miles wide.  The entire island was evacuated in advance of the storm, and supplies laid in on the island of Antiqua, where the residents now live.  Nobody knows how long it will take to rebuild.  Meanwhile, 500 school storm refugee children have suddenly been added to Antiqua’s responsibilities. Polls claiming Americans oppose Trump’s border wall don’t actually ask any questions about Trump’s border wall.  Reminder- we already have 650 miles of wall, most of it done in the last four presidential terms.  The reporter in this article strives to convince us the wall is useless.  See if you can spot another problem.

Climate Change lawsuit against ExxonMibil isn’t about climate change: “A federal judge in Boston dealt a major blow yesterday to environmental activist groups seeking to sue fossil fuel companies for supposedly ignoring the risks of climate change. The Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) had sued ExxonMobil for allegedly failing to sufficiently prepare a facility in Everett, Mass., for the effects of climate change, including sea level rise and more frequent and severe storms. CLF is yet another Rockefeller bankrolled organization that is closely tied in with the #ExxonKnew campaign.

U.S. District Court Judge Mark Wolf allowed ExxonMobil’s motion to dismiss to proceed, in part. Wolf repeatedly suggested that CLF was unnecessarily injecting climate change into its complaint, to the detriment of the group’s own argument. As Wolf saw it, the case is about whether ExxonMobil has violated the terms of its permit from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and he thus ordered CLF to refile its complaint with the references to climate change removed.”

You cannot blame Hurricanes Harvey and Irma on global warming, (but that doesn’t stop propagandists from trying).  Helpful history here.

Susan Rice lied about unmasking.



North Korea has fired another missile over Japan, landing in the northern Pacific Ocean.

Meanwhile, regarding North Korea’s previous missile: U.S. Strategic Command is assuming that North Korea successfully tested a hydrogen bomb Sept. 2, moving the country closer to the ability to destroy an entire American city, Air Force Gen. John Hyten said Thursday.

U.N. Security Council will meet on Friday to discuss N.K.




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Science Fiction booklists

This is a great site for finding sci-fi short stories. I love their various categories so you can find the sort of thing that you really have a hankering for.

The World Turned Upside Down– a fun collection of short sci-fi that is quite suitable for teens, although it is all older stories and so sometimes very dated.  The reason for this is that the moving vision behind this collection is for two or three of the best Sci-Fi authors of today, plus the publisher of Baen Books, selected some of their favourite short stories they had read as youngsters.

Here’s John C. Wright’s recommended Science Fiction for People Who Don’t Like SF

Appendix N is a list of books which were recommended reading for Dungeon Masters in the old role playing game (I know it’s still around, but this is from its glory days).  John C. Wright has a list and an excellent essay about what appendix N reveals about the gutted scifi being published today vs then.  This is not just nostalgia and the old days were always better talking.

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Commencement Addresses

Brain pickings characterizes the best and most timeless commencement speeches of all times this way:

“Across them runs a common thread of what seems to be as much a critical message, the message, for the young as it is an essential lifelong reminder for all: No social convention of success should lure you away from or could be a substitute for finding your purpose and doing what you love.”

That may be good advice, and those speeches may be excellent, but that is hardly timeless advice.  It’s very modern, very contemporary, very conventional.  In fact, these great ‘timeless’ commencement speeches  are strangely and irrevocably nailed firmly to one time period- ours.


That post was a piggy back to this list of great and timeless commencement speeches, equally tethered to a single decade.

We are cut flowers, rootless, floating on a stormy sea, drifting ever further from any kind of mooring.  And we don’t even know we’re drifting.


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In the Philippines this fruit is called guyabano.  Colonized by the Spaniards for 300 years, there are a lot of Spanish influences still here- words, plants, architecture styles, some cooking styles, and this fruit is one of those naturalized imports.  The Guyabano is originally from Mexico, where it is more commonly called the guanabana.  Another name for it is custard apple, and yet another is soursop.  Its  scientific name is Anona muricata.

Here in Davao in every mall (and at the airport here and in Manila, too) vendors sell fresh fruit shakes, or smoothies.  They are basically fresh fruit, ice, sometimes a sweetener, and sometimes milk, although you can ask for no milk, or use fresh buko, or coconut, juice instead.  Guyabano and mango is a popular combination.

It’s a bit messy to prepare.  Here’s a video:  And here’s a shorter one where the guy just eats it with a spoon.

The vendors usually have it prepped and the fruit sorted into portions and frozen ahead of time.

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