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Willie's Off-Brand Web Journal: September 7-September 19, 2004

Friday, September 10, 2004:

First things first: Dick Cheney insists that the economy's not so bad, because federal employment statistics don't count people who sell stuff on eBay. Seriously. (Read that article for John Edwards's great rebuttal.)

In the mail today, I received a letter from Bev, but not a letter written by Bev. She said she found the letter in a copy of Susan Powter's Stop the Insanity! that was in the "take it or leave it building" on an island near her house. "Perhaps it should go to Found- but I'd rather send it to you," she writes.

Best. Girlfriend. Ever.

Since I know you all love found stuff as much as I do, here's the text of the letter. It's dated November 9, 1993, and it's written as one long paragraph, but I'll divide it up for easier reading. The first half is typed (and they put two spaces after every period, which I won't do here because that bugs me, but everything else is verbatim, except the names, which I've changed):

Dear Bob & Veronica;

Please forgive the appearance of the letter. If we use a smaller type and don't pay much attention to the format, but "scrunch" everything together we can get more on one sheet. Mail is so expensive that it can easily consume one's salary. We got your card today. Thank you so much for thinking of us. We're papering our bedroom wall with all the mail from home. We read each card or letter many times, but of course we haven't really gotten that much yet. Bless Toni's heart, she sent us two letters so far. One she mailed before we even left so that there would be one for us shortly after we got here.

It seems like everywhere one turns there is a great challenge. And so it shall be here in the Philippines at O.B.C. as well. We've got lots and lots to tell you that can't be put into print. We'll have to wait until Easter Sunday to see you and fill you in on all kinds of stuff.

The sights and sounds and smells of the Third World city are literally unbelievable. There is so much poverty on every corner that it is difficult to describe. We'll try and take some candid shots for you. Someone mentioned that they wish that missionaries would take pictures of something other than the people. It can be easily seen why they don't photograph anything else. Streets are lined with open sewers filled with human and animal feces. There is dirt and filth everywhere. They slaughter animals in the hot sun not 500 feet from the open market where the fruits and vegetables are available underneath several tarps that covers several city blocks. Men urinate in the street, openly, agains the tires of the jeepneys. Those are the means of public transportation in Gagayan.

This is a city of over a half million in population at last count. I'll bet they didn't even count anymore. You can be sure that chicken is fresh because they line the sidewalks with them and tie their feet together so they cannot get away. Pick out the one you want, and they hand it to you. You've got to take it home, cut its head off, pluck it, scald it, scour it, butcher it, then eat it and then barf it up. That's what I'd end up doing with it. Nina almost does that just walking down the street!

The traffic is incredible. Unbelievable. When the inside of the Jeepneys get full (they hold about 18 people, I think) they hold on to the back while standing on the bumper. When the back gets full, they climb up on the top and ride there.

We feel safe in our little refuge, though. We have a high wall around our apartment with several strands of barbed wire on top of that. Between the wire and the wall are thousands of pieces of broken glass molded into the cement. It would take an army to get in. The doors are solid steel and they lock from the inside and then double-locked with a heavy slide bolt. Our apartment door has two locks on the outside and three on the inside. A far cry from Sunshine, eh?

Well, at times we're crying because we're far from Sunshine.

We've got an air conditioner that runs every night in our bedroom, and fans that run in most of the other rooms whenever we are in them. We get our news, when we can get it from a short-wave radio (SW2) and the "Voice of America" broadcasts from 6:00 a.m. until 9:00 a.m. each day and then goes off the air. The reception is poor and mixed with other signals at times, but we still listen for as long as we can. We are thankful for it. We would be very happy to receive any old newspapers or magazines from the States to read. I've already ready two Earl Stanley Gardner (Perry Mason) mystery's, one Agatha Christie, and am on another. Nina has read all the material she brought with her so far.

It took us a full week to get over the jet-lag from the crossing of 12 time zones. We were all screwed up for the longest time. I don't think we're quite over it yet, but, the Lord willing, we will do it. When it rains here, it rains hard. There isn't any question about it. And when its hot, its HOT!

I haven't had time to work on the Island Evangelism group yet. We're really interested in how that is going. Don't give up! Please don't give up. Keep the unity of the believers in Sunshine, but don't give up. Nina and I will be praying for you. We have the "open arms" (I just thought of Roy Clark in "Hee Haw" and his "Empty Arms Hotel" bit) that the group gave us pasted to our bedroom wall. It seemed a bit silly when you guys gave it to us, but believe us when we say it does not seem silly now. Your messages travelled 8,000 miles around the world and remind us of your prayers and thoughts, along with your support of us each day.

Do not forget us. We need you to keep us before the Lord.

There are many evil spirits present in this country. Lots of demon possesion and influence. Maranatha Bible Church has a regular ministry of exorcism where they cast out demons who will sometimes rush out with groanings and violent spasms, and throwing up.

[WILLIE'S NOTE: The remainder of the letter is handwritten.]

How are the children in Georgia doing? Do you hear from them very often? What about Melissa, what is happening in her life? Have you seen or heard anything about Young Oscar? I'll try to finish this today Nov. 10, 93 and get it mailed.

We had a black out and lost all power for a few hours last night so I couldn't see to finish. Even though we are in the city and very noisy and crowded you would think that we lived on a farm or in the zoo as well. Their are roosters all around us that crow day and night. People raise them here for cock fights. One of there sports and pleasure times. I could think of something better, how about you!

Along with the roosters, we have pigs, cats, dogs, deer, turkeys, and many different kinds of birds that live in the court yard down stairs from us. Our land lady likes animals so she keeps them in there yard. The yard is all cement no grass at all. The animals are caged in for the most part. But boy, can they make a racket, when they get going. The tom turkey struts around like he owns the place.

Each morning I take our tea kettles (2) and go down stairs to the servants quarters for water. Then when I return I have to boil the water for 15 minutes to try and kill all the germs. Seems so all I do is kill bugs, many, many, boil water and then strain it, or do laundry. It fills up the biggest part of my day. Enjoy your conveniences like good water, washer, dryer, dish washer, hot water etc. while you can. When the Lord brings you to a place like this you really appreciate all of them even more.

We are crossing off the days on our calendar each morning, looking forward when we are to return home. Only 142 days left. It seems almost that long, that we have been here although in reality we have only been here 11 days.

We are going to try and call Chris tomorrow morning and wish him a Happy Birthday. It will be the 11th of Nov. here and the 10th there. We are now 13 hours different than your time due to the changing of your clocks.

Jerry Louiska is do here tomorrow for I think a couple of weeks. Getting us acquainted with the bible college, some places to shop, how to do the fruits and vegetables etc. It will be nice to have him here.

Take care of yourself and Bob, keep in touch, let us know how everyone is doing. Keep us informed on how the pulpit committee is doing on looking for a new pastor. We are jealous you know. That was Oscar's pulpit and our home. Oh well, thats life. God Bless and we love you both dearly,

Oscar & Nina

CURRENT MUSIC: Everyone is Here by the Finn Brothers.
CURRENT NUMBER OF READER E-MAILS THAT I HAVEN'T YET READ: Two. No offense to the people who wrote to me regarding Elliott Smith and the Stone Roses, but I just don't have the energy to deal with other people's opinions right now. I like mine better. I'll read them tomorrow.
5:41 PM.

Doot? | |

Thursday, September 9, 2004:

At work, I was idly searching the Mathematical Reviews database, and discovered reviews of papers written by Futurama's writer Ken Keeler ("Short encodings of planar graphs and maps," MR number 1326049) and executive producer David S. Cohen ("On the problem of sorting burnt pancakes," MR number 1341426). So I've almost kind of not really worked with guys from Futurama! I'm such a fanboy that I found this fact infinitely more interesting than the fact that the Unabomber once wrote for Math Reviews.

I'm feeling much better than I'd been for the past couple days. I hadda leave work early yesterday, I was feeling so horrible, but 16 hours of sleep, a dinner consisting of all the types of medicine I own, and an evening on the couch watching School of Rock perked me right up. (It was an alright movie. I could've done with more Sarah Silverman and a complete elimination of all references that presented Led Zeppelin in a positive light, but it gets bonus points for setting a montage to the Ramones' underappreciated "My Brain is Hanging Upside-Down." And the kids weren't particularly irritating either, so I'll give it a B+.)

The AMG has, to my dismay (though probably due to a hilariously irate e-mail Mark Prindle sent to their editorial staff), edited Jason MacNeil's review of my album to eliminate the most egregious of the many entertaining grammatical errors that appeared in the first posted version. Luckily, I've saved the review that initially appeared, and here it is, in all its malapropian glory: 

Chris Willie Williams is intent on believing that you will enjoy a look back at something that Herbie Hancock mastered Rockit. With a synthesized vocal and vocoder used, Disclaimer relies on snippets of Gregorian chants, a mellow keyboard and brief trip-hop beat to communicate his message on Fixing A Hole. It is the work of someone in their basement with too much time on their hands. That isn't to say there are some good songs, but the splintered, fragmented approach leaves little to be desired generally. Quirky songs such as God Said, “Plastics! is more pop-oriented but is too lightweight, making Ben Folds sounds like a hard rock performer by comparison. When he approaches songs with a new take on New Wave, he fares a tad better. Vending Machine is a good example of this which could be mistaken for a Gary Numan b-side despite being incomplete. Utterly boring though is the simplistic choir boy vocal effort on the inanely titled Like The Backside Of A Bulimic's Teeth (#1: Bats=Bugs). When he ups the tempo into a moderate pop rock format, as he does during You Ruined Everything he hits on something a la Velvet Crush or Matthew Sweet. One quality moment is the soft pop hue on Generic Shoulder Blade Tattoo which is just above a whisper. The ambient and mellow De Sitter Horizons is a sleeper on the album as it isn't as awful as other offerings but has a certain charm within it. The poppy and rather catchy hook to Wrong For The Right Reasons Is Still Wrong is a welcome change from the mechanical, synthesized aura on the record. “I couldn't end it there," Williams sings on the hidden bonus track. Listeners might have wished he had.

CURRENT MUSIC: Up the Bracket by the Libertines.
CURRENT AGENT OF TEMPTATION: The golf cart that's parked right outside my window. I certainly hope I get an extra couple Christmas presents because I'm resisting the urge to take it on a joyride. Hello! You fool! I love you!
6:27 PM.

Doot? | |

Tuesday, September 7, 2004:

I've got a cold again and I feel like a gigantic bag of ass, but Bev sent me this wonderful cold remedy/preventive healthcare supplement called Airborne that has succeeded in getting me healthy before, so hopefully it'll kick in soon.

An intercom system has been installed in my apartment building, but the doorjamb on the outside door is a little beaten up, so that door still doesn't lock no matter what. (Annoying girls selling magazines who showed up at my door a month or so ago and tried to bond with me by telling me what a great movie White Chicks was, please disregard this.) I have nonetheless been amusing and delighting my neighbors by randomly pressing the admittance buzzer from inside my apartment at all hours of the day and night.

Did I ever tell you about the time I almost got beaten up because I pushed all the buttons in the elevator and then foolishly remained on said elevator as other people got on? That was not the most well-executed prank I've ever played.

And for those who haven't yet seen it on Babble thanks to Jon, check out the third picture down on this real estate website. Look close.

I really have nothing to say. I'm sick and I've been watching Futurama commentaries.

CURRENT MUSIC: Mambo Sinuendo by Ry Cooder and Manuel Galban.
CURRENT MOOD: Medicined up.
SHARPEST EXCHANGE IN THE FIRST TWO SEASONS OF SIX FEET UNDER: Claire is taking a tour of an art college, and happens upon a "sculpture" that consists of a rack of billiard balls with Christ's image painted onto each of them. CLAIRE: "This one is called Jesus Balls." TOUR GUIDE: "First-year student." I don't know how funny that would be to someone who didn't spend every weekend for an entire school year hanging out with his girlfriend at the College for Creative Studies, but HA! (Next best line, when Keith poo-poohs the notion of working in security, David's reply: "What's wrong with security? It's a national obsession! It's the new 'freedom'!")
TIME: 9:11 PM.

Doot? | |

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