Monthly Archives: July 2013

Brain Twister



July 26, 2013 · 6:00 am

Humans of New York

I admit it. I have a Facebook page. Today I came across this page:

The page’s originator, Brandon Stanton, wanders the city taking pictures of people. He asks many, “What was your happiest day?” “What was your saddest day?” Others are simple quotes about their lives in general.

Some of them will make you laugh:

lots of sex

“I’m 92 years old.”
“What’s your secret?”
“Lots of sex.”

Some will make you think about life:

Life philosophy

I asked her for a piece of advice. She reached in her purse, pulled out a piece of paper, and handed it to me. It said this:

Life isn’t fair, but it’s still good. Life is too short– enjoy it. Cry with someone. It’s more healing than crying alone. Make peace with your past so it won’t screw up the present and the future. It’s OK to let your children see you cry.
Don’t compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about. If a relationship has to be secret, you shouldn’t be in it.
Take a deep breath, it calms the mind. Everything can change in the blink of an eye. It’s never too late to be happy. But it’s all up to you and no one else. When it comes time to go after what you love in life, don’t take no for an answer. Burn the nice candles, use the nice sheets, wear the nice lingerie, wear the nice clothes. Don’t save it for a special occasion. Today is special.
Over prepare, then go with the flow. No one is in charge of your happiness but you. Frame every so-called disaster with these words: ‘In five years will this matter?’ Always choose life. Forgive but don’t forget. Time heals almost everything. Give time, time. However good or bad a situation is, it will change. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.
If we all threw our problems in a pile and we saw everyone else’s, we’d grab our’s back. Envy is a waste of time. Accept what you already have, not what you need. Yield. Friends are the family we choose. Life isn’t tied with a bow, but it’s still a gift.

And some of them will break your heart:

my baby

“My daughter died of a brain aneurysm when she was thirty. She wasn’t a baby, but she was my baby.”

There are hundreds of photos and this is a great page to browse through.

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The Fog Horn

To my everlasting shame I have a Facebook page. I belong to a couple of Facebook “Groups,” too. One is about the family restaurant, Philbrick’s Snack Shack, that was created by someone who worked for my brother, Jeff, when he owned the place. It was set up for former employees and people who loved the iconic dispenser of the world’s best onion rings.

Another group is for people who grew up on Cape Cod as I did. Today someone posted about how he loved the sound of fog horns. There is plenty of fog on the Cape. This immediately reminded me of a paragraph by the great science-fiction writer Ray Bradbury about fog horns…

“One day many years ago a man walked along and stood in the sound of the ocean on a cold, sunless shore and said, ‘We need a voice to call across the water, to warn ships; I’ll make one. I’ll make a voice like all of time and all the fog that ever was; I’ll make a voice that is like an empty bed beside you all night long, and like an empty house when you open the door, and like trees in autumn with no leaves. A sound like the birds flying south, crying, and a sound like November wind and the sea on the hard cold shore. I’ll make a sound that’s so alone that no one can miss it, that whoever hears it will weep in their soul, and hearths will seem warmer, and being inside will seem better to all who hear it in distant towns. I’ll make me a sound and an apparatus and they’ll call it a foghorn and whoever hears it will know the sadness of eternity and the briefness of life.'”

I doubt that I’ve ever been able to write something as lovely as that.


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Joyeux Anniversaire, France

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Happy Birthday, Mom

Had she lived, my mother would have been 95 years old today.

Mom 1944

Jean at 3-4 years old


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Another Small World Video Story

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Nostalgic

These are my paternal grandparents with my uncles Ed, Bill and Dick

Gram & Gramp Philbrick

This photo was known in the family as “The Music House.” That’s my paternal great grandfather in the back with the flute and my grandfather with the cello.

The music house

This is my mom at around 3 or 4 years old…SEE Tea Parties are for little girls, not crazy adults who create misspelled signs.

Jean at 3-4 years old

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On Wednesday I finished the process of registering my motorcycle. It was the WORST part of the whole process.

It’s a good thing I didn’t try and get my “placa” (license plate) Tuesday after the “revisado.” While waiting for my turn to have that done the sky started to seriously cloud up so I thought it would be best to head for home before it started to rain. After about an hour at the house when I went to put the bike away I discovered that the front tire was completely flat! I don’t know what I would have done had that happened in Bugaba. I’ve had a very slow leak in the tire for quite a while and have had to pump it up every couple of weeks as I did before I went over for the revisado. I guess what I have to do now is pump it up and time how long it takes to deflate throughout the day to see if I’ll be able to make it into David to get a new tube put in.

Anyway, I took the bus over to Bugaba Wednesday morning and hiked the couple of blocks from the bus stop to the “Palacio Municipal.” The Town Hall, but I just love it that they call it a “palace.”

There were two windows marked “entrega placa 1 & 2). Two was vacant so I took my papers there. The lady looked at them and said I needed to go pay the cashier first. So I got in that line. I figured it wouldn’t be too bad as I was four places from the window. Well, it took over an hour for my turn to get up!

The guy at the window had multiple transactions and the cashier had to leave her post several times to consult with someone back in the office section, so it took a long time to complete his business. The next two in line didn’t go much faster even though they only had single issues to deal with, so I got in a conversation with the gentleman behind me. He told me he’d spent some time in the States visiting family in Florida, Tennessee and Ohio and that he owned pasture land here in Boquerón with about 60 head of cattle. Of course the whole conversation was entirely in Spanish.

When I finally got to the window I discovered what was making everything so slow. First of all the girl only typed with a single finger on each hand. She’d enter a few letters or digits onto the computer and then it was back space, back space, back space. Horrible. I’ve seen kids on the buses texting away with two fingers on their smart phones at lightning speed. Well, it took the girl at the counter nearly 15 minutes to fill out my bill so I could continue.

I had to wait, again, to get processed because the multiple transaction guy was at the window. But this lady knew what she was doing so it wasn’t an awfully long wait. When I got to dealing with her she said, “This isn’t going to be a really good year for you.” I asked her why. “The color of the placa is really going to clash with you motorcycle,” she said with a laugh. Well, my bike is orange and this year’s license plate and the decal you have to attach to the bike somewhere is an awful puke green. At home I found it really isn’t that bad a color combination.

Thankfully I have a year to recover from this fiasco and psych myself up to do it all over again next July.



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Happy Birthday America!

chinese flags

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July 4, 2013 · 7:45 am

A Busy Week In Boquerón

I’ve got a ton of stuff to get done this week. One thing is to fill out a “Proof of Life” form for the SS Administration so they don’t cut off my deposits. Those of us living as expats have to provide them with our real life addresses. That should be fun. While they permit us to use a “General Delivery” Post Office, you still have to provide a street address. As I’ve said before, since there is NO home mail delivery there are really no addresses here as we know them in the States. To the water department I live at “Cerca Del Centro De Salud,” which means “Near the Health Clinic.” On the electric bill I received stuck in the gate this morning (it’s for $14.59 if anyone cares) lists me as: ” Al Fondo Casa Dos Pisos, Entrade Caseta,” which is “The two-story house at the end of the road with the entrance at the bus shelter.” Let’s see how Social Security deals with THAT!

I down loaded the form from the internet, but since I don’t have a printer I saved it to a thumb drive. Now I’ll have to go up to the Info Plaza and have them print it out for me. It’s four pages of gobbledy gook.

The next piece of business is the annual registration of my motorcycle. When I bought it a year ago the company that sold it to me did all the paperwork. Now it’s up to me to renew everything.

Yesterday I went into David and bought the mandatory insurance. Not a big deal. The office is a block off the route my bus takes to the terminal so that was a cinch. Of course at the office nobody that I had to deal with speaks English. But why should they? It’s Panama. The language here is Spanish. So, I did everything in Spanish. The whole process took about a half hour and that included the 20 minutes I had to wait for the policy to be printed. Cost for a year’s worth of motorcycle insurance? Sixty eight dollars and a few pennies.

Registration is a three-step process. The second step is known as the “Revisado.” It’s supposed to be an “inspection” of the vehicle, but like with everything else that’s been associated with the motorcycle (see last month’s stories about going to driving school and the testing for a motorcycle endorsement for my license) the Revisado is another joke and another way of extorting money from the population. There is NO inspection as we’d know it. What they do is take a computerized photo of the front, back  and both sides of what ever you have and then give you a form. That’s IT! But naturally you can’t go on to the next step without having completed the first two.

When I got up this morning a little after 7:00 it was rather dark and gloomy. Certainly looked like it was going to rain which is no big surprise considering we are now into what is known as the “rainy season.” Two hours later, though, the clouds were gone and the sun was shining brightly. I know of two places in David where you can get a Revisado, but it’s 20+ miles one way on the Inter American Hwy and then you have to contend with city traffic which is horrendous here.

I asked my neighbor, Negro, the guy with the 40 fighting cocks, if there was a closer place to get it done. He said there was over in Bugaba. That’s the town where I buy my seemed a bit intimidating. It is, after all populated by buses, semis and trucks hauling cattle. There is a way of sneaking down back roads and avoiding part of the highway, but I needed to buy gas at the station down at El Cruce where the Boquerón road intersects with the Inter American. Well, since I’m down there it seemed foolish to drive a couple of miles back the way I’d come from just to avoid a couple of miles on the big, bad road. So I took it. It was a piece of cake. Nothing to it. Fell in behind a car going along at a sedate speed and followed it all the way to where I had to make the turn into Bugaba. Not only that, I knew how to get where I needed to go on a secondary street to avoid the traffic.

I had to wait over an hour and a half for my turn to come so I spent the time talking to a couple of Panamanians who were getting their “inspections,” too. When my turn came along it was all over in under 5 minutes. Went in, paid the fee and left. I could have gone to the Palacio Municipal and gotten the new “Placa” (license plate) but it was clouding up again and I could hear some distant thunder. Wouldn’t be cool to have to ride back to Boquerón in the rain so I came home. Of course not a drop has fallen anywhere near me all day.

Tomorrow I’ll catch the bus to Boquerón and finish the job. It will be cheaper, too. With regular unleaded going for $1.15 a LITRE I can’t ride to Bugaba and back on the motorcycle for what the bus will cost me.

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