Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Zero Hour

A New Chapter. Everything has changed… and that’s fine. I’ve been out of the music scene for a year due to the adoption and all that goes with it. Rhinocerotic is permanently put to rest due to the passing of Timmy Wolf and I’m still having a hard time with that one. I’m working on some new styles of music but getting anxious to play live again. Currently I’m looking to start either a goth/blues band or guitar/dance hybrid. It’s not as easy to find musicians my age to collaborate on innovative ideas. People usually give up or play in “old man weekend warrior” bands. Sorry, I will never play ‘Mustang Sally’. This will be a challenge to move ahead, clear the slate, and re-imagine my relationship with music. Time for a new approach? Stay tuned... news is on the way!

Friday, June 17, 2016

Time Travel : The End of the Philippine Adventure

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It's 3:18 in the morning partly on the way to Korea. There is turbulence and I'm watching Macbeth. I do not care for turbulence and do get quite nervous. I'm sure I'm not the only one. I do however like Shakespeare... very much. I do currently wish I had some whisky. We put our lives in God's hands and hope that he will protect us in safe travel. We have been very blessed on this trip with safety and the good people that God has put in our path. We are thankful.
The airport in Seoul was pretty empty on the walk through immigration and to the gate. That was great. The 4 hour wait was rough. Still no sleep for me. Liza and Joshua were able to grab a few winks but I kept awake with a few cups of coffee. The airport was cold and irritating this time. Announcements were going off all the time, r's were used in place of L's (sorry, but after no sleep for over a day it's not amusing), and airport staff was definitely not as helpful and friendly as in the Philippines. Aside from that stuff, we were looking good.  That's just a long time to wait and it's cold in here. After a mini cowboy meal of beef jerky and coffee I was ready to go. We finally were allowed to board and I was ready to throw party. Sleep deprivation and oxygen in the cabin are a great combination, plus we got slippers on this flight. Sweet...
3:11 PM? AM? I don't know but we have been having the worst turbulence I've ever experienced. Poor Joshua has been sick and probably scared. I can't say that the rest of us feel much better. Still 8 hours to go. This is the day that will never end. I was able to get s brief amount of sleep but I'm afraid that's it. This has been a rough one. I'm looking very much forward to landing at O'Hare Lord willing. I know you've probably never heard anybody say that. Just meditate on that one for a sec. One of the flight attendants on Korea Air gave us a pill for Joshua's upset stomach. These attendants are awesome, pro all around and we can't say enough. Now at the same time we get the overhead announcement for turbulence at least every half an hour. I think a more appropriate announcement would be,"Hey, it's going to be smooth for a few minutes".  I would rather hear that one.

We did arrive safe and sound in Chicago but I've got to tell ya, the turbulence was remarkable. Yes, those bags in front of the seat do work... We were so thankful to get on the ground. After being treated like some kind of threat by our immigration, we finally were allowed to leave the airport an hour and a half after we landed. Seriously, the things we had to go through at the airport were ridiculous. Yes we arrived with an innocent 15 year old boy. Really guys? I could write several posts about this episode. We were picked up by a limo (don't get used to it kid) and driven back to Wind Point where we deliriously overtired people had..... McDonalds (that's really the only reason, plus the kid was asking for it). From Macbeth to McDonalds.Yep, now the real adventure begins.... back home, back to the gazebo, back to the lake....

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Thursday, June 9, 2016

The Last Day in the Philippines

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Time travel. It's what we do when traveling from one end of the world to the other. 
We met a very nice women named Marie who must be some sort of manager here. We shared a little bit of our story with her and she shared a story about her daughter with us. The Philippine people are the best man. Nobody is perfect anywhere of course, but people have been kind and friendly at most of our stops. 
We headed over to the pool for some last day swimming. Who cares about my sunburn. We are heading back to WI people! We had some halo halo by the pool and headed in to clean up for checkout. We paid for access to the exclusive club lounge of Windows on Manila Bay 19th floor and that was definitely the way to spend 5 hours. They set Joshua up with The Avengers movie and we just enjoyed the view with their afternoon tea. Amazing view and I dig afternoon teas, no seriously I dig tea. I'm going to miss the Philippines but not necessarily Manila. There are a lot of things going on right now in the South Pacific and I'm ready to get the hell out. Things are escalating with the Philippines and China, the US is sending commandos in for war games and our Secretary of State is here to support the Philippine military. There were just 2 major earthquakes in Japan so we are thankful to God that we have to land in Korea instead of the original plan for Japan. In addition, there are volcanos beginning to erupt. My thought is seriously, let's get the hell out like the A-Team
After a few movies, 5 hours in a cool lounge, and some light snacking we met up with Mr. Art for the trip to Manila airport. Before this however I have to tell you again about Marie and what a wonderful person she is. We had about 1 1/2 hours before our ride arrived and decided to order something to eat. Something must have not worked out in the communication because we had about 40 minutes left and still nothing. Marie absolutely went out of her way to see that we got what we ordered before leaving. Joshua had ordered sinigang which is s Filipino comfort dish. She personally stepped in and made sure that he had it before leaving his country. She absolutely went out of her way to make our experience great. We were so impressed with her and her staff. I don't believe we have had treatment like this even at 4 star places in the US. It would certainly be hard to top this experience with the Hotel Jen staff so thank you so very much! 

We arrived at the airport and found the right gate thanks to Mr. Art and proceeded to stand in line... You know, airport stuff. We did move through immigration and all that fairly quick. 
We had some extra pesos and found ourselves spending them on random snacks, drinks (not tea at this point- long flight), what have you. Finally we boarded the Korean Air flight. So began the longest day ever... we boarded the plane around midnight...

For the MUSIC

Wednesday, June 8, 2016


 (Click the Picture for photos)
This is our last full day in Manila. Pool day! As far as I'm concerned, the hotel pool is the best place in Manila. No, this is not the most exciting blogpost. Yes, there is a loud festival going on down the street, construction of 2 buildings next door, sea planes, constant honking, barking, smooth jazz, but relaxing all the same. The Hotel Jen staff has been amazing and way over the top from what we would get in the US. Joshua has been having some stomach problems and well, dad knows those quite well. It's called nerves and it's just one of the joys of travel. That's aside from moving to a new country with a new family. The manager Hannah personally escorted us to the clinic where the hotel doctor examined him. Nothing out of the ordinary but man this staff is good. Our room was also moved due to some leaking in the bathroom. This too was handled well by staff.  Out to hang by the pool we went. The ocean wind seemed to blow the smog back into Manila clearing the way for some sun. We swam for a few hours, ate lunch, and then out of nowhere the hotel had a lifeguard drowning drill. What a surprise for Joshua who was observing in amazement and possibly fear. By the time we were finished, 5 hours had passed and I had a rather nice sunburn. We chilled in the room for awhile and got ready for Kitsho, a Japanese sushi and sake restaurant in the hotel. Dinner was unexpectedly not crowded. I  read write ups on this place not understanding how they could not be a reservation only restaurant. Well, seems that aside from the high prices, our waitress/hostess was not very attentive and there were sections on the menu not even available. Robert Irvine would have a field day with this one. Looked very nice, but not outstanding in any other way. Everything was good but we had better sushi experiences in the US. In Kenosha nonetheless... We headed upstairs to watch some foolish Planet of the Apes movie and fell asleep. Yes, dad was tired enough to agree to watch it. We are leaving late tomorrow... very late.


Water Water Everywhere

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We woke up around 6am, which has become the normal time here, and looked out at the hazy port of Manila. The air quality is quite bad with both air and noise pollution. Did I mention that summer just started. Man, the heat is actually a news story! Today is the big day at Ocean Park. The Aliwan Fiesta is beginning today across the street. This is a giant fiesta celebrating all the smaller celebrations in the provinces. Maybe we will check it out, but the hotel pool seems way more inviting on such an incredibly hot day. 
Sir Art, Mr. Ramon's counterpart drove us over to Ocean Park. It might be in Manila and in pesos, but to us but it is still quite the traditional theme park atmosphere. Pay for a little, get a certain amount of access, pay for the big kahuna, get slightly more. We went big. The heat made the outdoor areas rough and many inside areas were not much different. We were actually relieved to visit the Arctic penguin exhibit. We had to put coats on to enter and there was actual snow. Probably was the first snow the boy has seen and it won't be the last, that's for sure. Welcome to Wisconsin kid. This will look like home in 7 months. We saw a few really cool things including a jellyfish exhibit and a Philippine eagle exhibit where they were just flying around us. After lunch at a legit Asian restaurant inside Ocean Park which had choices of Pinoy food, Chinese, Korean, Japanese, you name it. 
We were picked  up by Mr. Art and went back to the hotel for more sun and swimming. After a little rest we visited the 19th floor of Hotel Jen called Windows by the Bay. Liza & Joshua were getting a little nervous as the window sitting area extended a bit out. Great view and nice chilled out place. We ordered a nice cheese plate, charcuterie plate, and a pizza puff plate. Joshua mostly made faces at it so we ordered him a ham and pineapple pizza. I've noticed that this kid digs the Hawaiian pizzas yet is ironically scared of cheese. We were pretty tired after the full day and ordered the in room Avenger movie. Everyone fell asleep. One more full day in Manila...


Tuesday, June 7, 2016


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Today is all about the Inter-Country Adoption Board. We woke up early again and headed down for the breakfast buffet. I still felt a bit full after the crispy pata last night.  Joshua didn't really dig the buffet and we never eat enough to be worth the money. Hoping for the best as far as lukewarm buffet food in Southeast Asia... or anywhere really anyway. Who really likes buffets? Well, we've been okay so far and the food is very good at Hotel Jen.  Excellent staff as well.

Mang Ramon picked us up from the hotel and we were on our way through the early morning streets of Manila. We arrived at ICAB about an hour early and finished shortly after for signing and receiving the final paperwork in the Philippines. ICAB was professional and friendly, not nearly as stressful as I anticipated. Whew... (wiping brow) Diggin the Filipinos.
In between time, Mang Ramon drove us through Intramuros and past some notable sights in Manila including Rizal Park, The Manila Hotel (General MacArthur fame), The Coconut Palace, San Agustin Church (original doors from 1607) and other sights. We really enjoyed seeing the historical buildings, what you don't see in the pictures is the extreme poverty. There were people sleeping by the roadside, mothers feeding babies, dogs eating garbage, people eating and sleeping in garbage, and this was in about 100 degree weather. There are the super rich but mostly the impoverished in Manila. We are very blessed in America. Maybe I should have taken pictures of these things. They are hard to look it and absorb. Mang Ramon took us back to the hotel and introduced our driver for tomorrow, Mang Art. He would be the one to take us to Ocean Park, which everyone is excited to see.   

So, off we were to The Mall of Asia to grab some more clothes for Joshua and to check out one of the biggest malls in this part of the world. Trying on clothes is so much fun in gigantic malls... I'm not sure if I really need to even write anything here. We did get a shuttle over from Hotel Jen and planned our time for pickup. Security at this mall is no joke. Guns and everything, but I suppose that's a good idea in today's world. We were okay with it. We had some crappy mall food (Pizza Hut... we were hungry) and snapped a few pictures outside before our pickup time. Back to relax at the hotel...


Saturday, June 4, 2016

Farewell to SP

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It is both Joshua's birthday and the day that he leaves SP. Talk about intense. Writing this at 5AM. None of us can sleep. I hope it gets light soon. 
We all sat outside in the courtyard talking as a car pulled up. Out of the car stepped Mr. Marc who flew in from Japan. He flew back in hopes to see Joshua before he left. Joshua has probably been at SP longer than any other kid. It's been ten years of his life and now that is all going to change, We had a good talk for awhile and then stepped in for some pan de sal and adobo flakes while continuing our discussion about pretty much everything. As usual, the food has been great. We will miss that. Marc is a solid guy and this place that he built is amazing and filled with God's love and great people. I would suggest checking out their orphanage and mission and really consider adopting from SP if you are really ready to do such a thing. We consider them family and I know that this will be a very hard day for everyone. 
We packed our bags and headed over to take some pictures in unit 2 with the house parents and kids. For lunch we had some awesome homemade pancit and lumpia with Mama Gena, Papa Joe, and the kids in unit 1 where Joshua lived. Joshua's house parent's and family at Samaritans Place were awesome people. We were only there for 3 days but really got along well and will miss them for sure. They told us stories from their home in Mindanao and then about their way of life in that area. Simplicity is the key. I think that translates through all cultures.We all get so wrapped up in the stress and complexities of life that we don't take a step back and enjoy the basic things that are actually fulfilling. 
After lunch we had a short Skype session with Mrs. Marilen, Marc's wife. She was very close to Joshua and was unfortunately not abe to be there for the farewell. The entire day was very emotional including the Skype session. Mrs. Marilen seems like a great lady as well. Mang Ramon pulled up in his car and we grabbed our bags. We had a very emotional picture taking session and goodbyes. It's really hard to explain or document this moment so I've been struggling on how to write it. How do you put the emotion of so many people all of different ages and experiences into words? How do you compress 20 minutes of extreme feeling together and somehow express it? Well, we still get a little teary when we look back on some of the pictures from that day. I can only imagine how he must feel.
We pulled away slowly, as if Mang Ramon knew something we didn't, and rounded the block. As we slowly passed where the the SP jeepney was parked, we saw the whole crowd waving goodbye. That was a nice touch, and as you can imagine, lot's of tears... from everybody in the car. Up the hill and out through the gate. We were on our way back to Manila.

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