New ancient line drawings in discovered in Peruvian desert

You know those giant petroglyphs (really geoglyphs) in the ground in the desert, pictures you can only see from the sky?  In Peru they just found fifty more.   More here.

Isn’t it wild?

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The Construction Next Door

I think I’ve mentioned that they are building a house next to ours, and when I say next to, I mean the two walls are conjoined. The other house is at least two stories and ours is only one, so there will be no daylight here when it’s finished. In this picture, I’m standing about three feet from my house,
looking up at the back of the other house:

Those chicken wire sort of squares are our fence.  We have a concrete wall and then this wire stuff on top of that. I can’t reach the top of it- they build fences high around houses here, often topping them with barbed wire, and I’ve seen a couple with broken glass embedded in the concrete. Theft is a major problem in Davao. We’ve never experienced it personally, but I can’t count how many people we know have. Just recently a young couple we know awoke and found that cash, a laptop, and some jewelry had been stolen from their living room while they slept- and all their doors and windows were locked.  In their same apartment building another family, on a different occasion, found that somebody had tried to steal their air conditioning unit from the window one night- while they were home.

We have a loud and ferocious sounding dog, and most people tell us that should do. Another family tells us they have lived here over ten years and in all that time they were robbed once- and it was during a four day period while they didn’t have their dog at home.

Right now the problem that we are frustrated with is how much broken chunks of concrete, dust, concrete splatter, bits of wire and chips of wood end up on our side of the fence- and more. Currently there’s an area between our house and the wall that looks like they just upended a trashcan of construction debris over it, and they have poured wet concrete down our side of the wall several times.


And the thing is just so darn close!  I took this picture from a bedroom window, no magnification:

We had an earthquake recently and that worried me a bit. If these walls come down, they are taking out the side of my house.  Does this look earthquake resistant to you?


This step ladder worries me a bit, too.  Another friend says one time their helper was in their fenced in yard and set her phone down on a counter to carry dishes inside, and she came back out to see a pair of bare feet disappearing up a tree on the other side of the fence, and her phone was gone.

Incidentally, I see construction workers nimbly climbing up these things hands free. Their hands have to be free because they are usually carrying bags of cement or other construction supplies on their shoulders.  They are incredibly balanced, coordinated, graceful, and nimble.


The earthquake was a 6.0 at its center, but a 3.0 here.  It lasted longer than they usually do.  They were working on this brick wall that day so I was a little concerned and listened to hear any noises of rumbling or other indications something here was falling,  but it was quiet.


It’s not normally quiet- the construction workers are singing loudly, hammering, mixing, sawing, laughing, and generally making a huge ruckus, but it was lunch time, which they keep to pretty strictly.So a couple of hours later when I saw that one of my daughters had texted and asked if we’d felt the earthquake, I said yes, and it was longer than usual, but nothing had even fallen.  And at that moment, I heard this enormous clatter of metal falling.

I went out and looked and couldn’t see anything except four or five guys up on the second story grinning cheekily at me. I magnified this pic to get it because it’s so bright out, otherwise I just get sillhouettes, but that dilutes the impression of how high above they really were- scroll up and note that they were standing around on the top rafters/railings.

“Everybody.. er… sige lang?” I asked.  Sige sounds a bit like siggy and means okay, and lang sounds like lahng or long and sometimes means ‘just’ or ‘only’ or ‘right’ as in just here, however it seems to be required in places none of those words would be used and every Filipino has a slightly different translation when I ask what lang means.  The majority opinion is, “English meaning? Ehrm, I do not know.”

They grinned and said they were sige lang.

And then we spent a few minutes trying to communicate. I could understand about every third word in Cebuano/Bisaya/Visaya , but couldn’t quite fill in the blanks.  So what I got was roughly, ” Ma’am, you cannot… (something) because (something).”


I scratched my head and asked in probably rough and ungrammatical Cebuano, “Dili pwede ako unsa? (I cannot what?).   They told me I could not something because something.

Dili ko kasabot- I don’t understand, I said. They laughed.  I asked if I could take their pictures and they started posing.  I had to take more than one because they wanted their poses just right.


They tried again with the Ma’am, dili pwede something ka, perro something something.   Hulat na, I think they said.  At any rate, I understood they were asking me to wait a minute.   Then they had a conference together, up there in their so very not OSHA approved work clothes, standing on about 4 inches of railing over a 20 foot drop.

After a minute or two they got excited and were agreeing with each other, they’d figured out what to say.  They they had to have another conference to vote on or persuade the one who would be spokesperson:

“Ma’am, you cannot standing there because…. (triumphantly) falling down!”  They waved their hands at their work, where they were sawing off ends of wood, snipping wires, wacking uneven bits of concrete with the hammers.
The spokes person turned to me again and asked doubtfully, “Falling down?  Kasabot ba ka (do you understand) falling down?”  They were delighted with me for agreeing that I understood falling down, and indicated I’d move out of the way of the falling down falling down.

And then- I kid you not, they started singing ‘falling down, falling down…” and doing a little dance up there in the sky, nimbly tripping the light fantastic on 4 inch wide rails and rafters. The tune was catchy and hauntingly familiar but I couldn’t place it. I had the feeling they were not quite singing it the same way I had heard t before, but that I definitely had heard it. But then I had to move the towels to the drying racks, and the Cherub got into the bananas, and I had some writing projects to finish and I got sidetracked.

We have a lot more woodchips and bits and pieces of stuff in the yard around the clothesline now.  So the implications of what they were telling me is that I couldn’t hang up my clothes anywhere those clothes  will actually dry.  I have some portable drying racks in our screened in, covered patio area, but it gets no sun and not a great deal of breeze so when I hang things there to dry I don’t expect them to be dry for at least 24 hours.  Sometimes during rainy season when I go to check on them and flip the towels over to help them air better, I’ve shaken off a small cloud of mosquitoes.

That night our Cebuano language teacher came to our house for our lesson and she’d read my written description. She loved it, and said she could picture exactly how it all happened. She said that probably when the spokesman started singing and they did their little jig, what they were singing was London Bridge. She said that is one of the songs they typically learn in school as children, so when they conferred with each other to figure out how to communicate with me, that I couldn’t stand out there in the area because of the falling debris, that is what they came up with.

Folk songs are really, really useful!



Posted in Davao Diary, Uncategorized | 4 Responses

This is the main bathroom


There is no hot water, because to have hot water, you have to buy a small hot water heater and attach it to the shower. Then you get hot water from the shower, but not the sink.  We do have a hot water heater for our master bedroom shower. I know lots of people who don’t have the hot water heaters, and having such a luxury item isnt even on their radar.

This is the bathroom in the hall, the one guests use.

There is a sink just to the left of the toilet.

Posted in Davao Diary | 6 Responses

Cultural Differences- helping strangers in an accident

This is from personal observation, experience, and hearing stories from other foreigners, not from anything I’ve read or from any lessons on culture.

This is one of the hardest things for North Americans to understand or, to be honest, to excuse.  Even the most culturally intelligent, sympathetic, and understanding westerners I know have a hard time accepting this difference.

I have mentioned before that when we were in Bukidnon, I saw more accidents in a week than I’ve seen in a year in Davao, and that I have nightmares.  Let me describe what I saw- not the gore, but the reaction.  We were in a small town and the bus was stopped, and traffic up ahead was stopped.  I was watching and looking out the windows ahead and to the side trying to figure out what was happening.  I noticed people outside the passenger window racing up the sidewalk, toward whatever the cause of the traffic stop was. They were racing, grabbing each other to join in, looking excited.   I peered ahead, and the bus inched closer I saw a huge crowd of people in a circle on the side of the road, and the crowd was growing quickly as more pedestrians raced along as fast as they could go to join the group. People had the cell phones out and were taking pictures.  I’m thinking minor (or major) celebrity sighting, a band, or something like that.

As the bus inched along further, I saw a motorcycle smashed and broken in the road, and then a pool of blood and then another fractured motorcycle and then I realized the crowd was standing around the victims of the accident.  Some of my fellow passengers stood up and took pictures just as I put my own cell phone away, feeling sick and disoriented.  Nobody seemed to be helping.  Nobody seemed to be using their phones to call for help- I realize I couldn’t see everything, so maybe somebody was, this was just my impression from a slowly moving bus.

It stayed with me, those images, and haunted my sleep but I didn’t talk about it with anybody right away.  Recently, I was with three missionaries who have been here longer than we have, two of them years longer, and they are all quite well versed in cultural differences and fairly immersed in the culture.  We were talking about driving and traffic stuff, and motorcycles- they drive cycles, and one of them said she felt perfectly safe driving a motorcycle around Davao but she wouldn’t do that in the US.  I agreed Davao was pretty safe, but said was that in Bukidnon I had seen an accident, and before I could say anything else, one of them cut in and described the scene as though she’d been there-  the racing eagerly toward the accident, the huge and growing circle, the cell phone cameras out- and nobody helping.  It’s so common they were able to predict what I saw without knowing anything more than that there was an accident.

One of the missionaries says her Filipino friends regularly post pictures of stuff like this to social media. Now, her friends are youngish, the 20 somethings, mostly singles.

We heard the story of an American who came across a woman who was pinned, trapped when she had a wall fall on her.  When he came by there was a large circle of Filipinos watching, but nobody was doing anything.   He got a couple people to help him move her to safety (there was a possibility the rest of the wall could still fall on her), and helped the ambulance treat her properly- and promptly became locally famous for a couple of weeks.   In the ensuing huge social media discussions, again and again people assumed the victim was his wife or girlfriend, and when people who knew would say no, she was a total stranger the response was, “Well then, why would he do that?”

There are social customs and assumptions and presumptions against being presumptuous, taking on more leadership or authority than one ought to have.  And in America, if you have an accident in a crowd of strangers or with just one or two people around, you are also more likely to get help quickly in the presence of just one or two people, because in a crowd everybody assumes somebody else is better able to handle an emergency than oneself.  But I have been in or witness to similar accidents and disasters in the US and the response is still very, very different.

In a lighter example of at least part of what I think is going on, a Filipina friend told me history had not make any sense to her when she was in college, because she couldn’t see why she should care since none of those people were related to her.  Plenty of Americans don’t care about history, either, but I was struck by that reason- ‘they are not my family, so why does it matter?’

I’ve blogged before about the importance of relationships in this culture, and it is a beautiful thing.  Relationships are incredibly important. But that also means that where you have no relationship, you also have no responsibilities (or few).  More than once I have had a discussion about adoption with people from other cultures- Japan, Korea, and here in the Philippines.  A Japanese Christian told me the Japanese can’t really adopt because the adopted child would always be the stranger, the guest, and would always have to be served first and given the best and that would be unfair to any biological children.  Koreans do not really understand why it makes me flinch when they learn the Cherub is adopted and they ask if any of our children are really ours (this is the way to say it in Korean- the children are adopted or they are our ‘real children.’)  Filipinos more than once will comment on how often and how readily Americans adopt.

Now, adoption is complicated issue. There are a lot of problems with that on the American side- we created poverty orphans and a blackmarket in other people’s children, and there have been abuses and victims and all kinds of problems and we have leapfrogged over solutions which would involve helping families stay intact-  and that’s incredibly important and I don’t want to make light of it.  But also, in many cases, in the beginning, there were children who would not be growing up because they country was in the aftermath of a devastating war, they had thousands of war orphans, and even if they hadn’t been struggling to feed themselves,  their culture did not have a strong culture of taking in or caring for other people’s children.  If you were an orphan or abandoned by your family, that was your fate , possibly even your fault (particularly in belief systems which include reincarnation), and not somebody else’s responsibility. There are still cultures where that is true.  Americans don’t really have a longstanding cultural practice of sitting back and accepting fate for themselves or for others.  Sometimes that means we act like the world’s police force and stick our noses where they don’t belong, and scoop up other people’s children instead of helping families stay intact, but culturally, it also means we are more likely to help in an accident than to run to watch and take selfies with the bleeding, unconscious victims.  Generally speaking, that is. I read about the youtube creep who visited Japan’s suicide forest to take pictures of the suicides.  He’s been shamed around the world, but I think he still has a pretty large youtube following.  And cultural practices shift more rapidly in the global age.

Not helping can also be an artifact of experiences and knowledge- people who know what to do, who have some background knowledge that might apply are more likely to step up and use it.  My husband has pulled a man out of a burning truck while a crowd watched, but my husband has had red cross training. The friend who pulled the woman out from under the wall had previous first aid training. Possibly such training is more common in the U.S. than in the Philippines, I don’t know.  Possibly also there’s a connection to the cultural differences between a being and a doing culture, but that is also just me guessing.

It’s not that Americans are perfect here- there are lots of articles written about bystander effect and that research started with a notorious incident in America.  But I think perhaps one difference is that in a more individualistic society vs a more collective, group oriented society, you are more likely to get somebody in the group who steps forward and shakes people out of their shock.  And I am writing this as an American, so I am more uncomfortable with this reaction to accidents than somebody from a more collectivist culture would be.

The bystander effect seems to be true in every culture, but perhaps it’s more pronounced in some than others.  All the articles I found cite the Kitty Genovese case in New York and  they cite the version that has been debunked, but it is the Kitty Genovese case that started the research on bystander effect.

The studies done on this are quite interesting. Here’s another:

““I would claim there is a predisposition in some people to help whenever the opportunity arises,” said Oliner, who contrasts this group to bystanders. “A bystander is less concerned with the outside world, beyond his own immediate community. A bystander might be less tolerant of differences, thinking ‘Why should I get involved? These are not my people. Maybe they deserve it?’ They don’t see helping as a choice. But rescuers see tragedy and feel no choice but to get involved. How could they stand by and let another person perish?””

Culturally we may have just as much trouble with the bystander effect.  However, I am pretty sure the majority of North Americans would not assume that the only reason a person would pull somebody out of a burning car or out from under a teetering wall is if they were related to the victim in some fashion, because nobody would do that for a stranger.

And that is a cultural difference that is really hard for me to wrap my head around.

Posted in Davao Diary | 2 Responses

Facebook’s privacy issues

Facebook does pay attention to the pictures and messages you send via not so private messenger. They recently admitted the data of nearly their 2 billion users has likely been scraped by outsiders.

Zuckerberg has been planning a future presidential career, according to people who pay attention to these things. The latest revelations about FB’s abuse of our data may put a crimp in that. I hope so.

“Finally, in 2016, Facebook changed its Securities and Exchange Commission financial disclosure statement to allow for Zuckerberg to take “voluntary” leave to serve in a “government position or office” — and yet retain control of Facebook.

Imagine the ability to both be president and control the world’s most powerful data mining platform at the same time. That amount of power in the hands of one individual could be truly dangerous for more than just the 200 million Americans active on Facebook, but for all of us.

Related: Can People Ever Use Facebook Again Without Fear?

That’s the publicly available information. Here’s what the scandal has revealed.

In March, news broke that Facebook had allowed a data firm to farm the private information of more than 50 million users without their permission — and then use that information for political purposes. This only made news because the information was used by a firm hired by the 2016 Trump campaign.

But Facebook can’t feign ignorance here. It allowed the exact same data sharing to be done for the Obama campaign in 2012. But back then, the media hailed the move as genius.

A former Obama staffer, Carol Davidsen, admitted via Twitter that Facebook knew what it was doing in 2012 and “allowed us to do things they wouldn’t have allowed someone else to do because they were on our side.””

If you’re going to delete facebook, try poisoning data before you do.

“For Facebook, which accounts for about 40% of all referral traffic on the internet, you can only begin to imagine the replication, scaling, redundancy and other strategies that are employed across multiple geographically redundant data centers that Facebook operates.

What does this all mean?

This means that even by conservative assumptions, your data never really disappears permanently if you deactivate and delete your Facebook account. If your lucky enough to live in the European Union, then you might have better chances with the right to be forgotten. In North America, I dont see any reason to assume that your data is actually permanently deleted when you delete your account. It might even be safe to assume that this data is held and transparently linked to any new accounts you might open in the future, either by connecting phone numbers associated with accounts or by algorithmic statistical analysis”

Save your pictures and posts before you go. Or just because you want to, even if you’are staying (I’m staying for now, mainly due to inertia)

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