Saturday, August 15, 2020

Filipina vs. The English Language

I am married to a most wonderful young lady who just so happens to be from the Philippines.  She is smart, hard working, and pleasingly feminine.   This last trait is something that our current American culture seems determined to beat out of young women, which is a tragedy for the majority of us who have to live with the consequences of this social experimentation.  

But lamenting the foolishness of radical cultural programming is not my purpose here.  Rather I wish to, in a good hearted way, relay some of her fumblings with the English language.

English is not my wife's first language.  She grew up speaking Bisaya, a dialect common to the southern islands of the Philippine archipelago.  (Yes, I had to look up the word "archipelago" to ensure it really meant what I thought it did, and to see how to spell it.  English is hard!)  Bisaya is spoken on the island of Cebu, where it is called Cebuano.  The people from the island of Bohol speak a variant of the language called Boholese.  As my wife is from Mindanao, she refers to her language as Bisaya.

More Filipinos speak Bisaya than Tagalog, but since the folks who live in the areas of Luzon around Manila speak Tagalog, the "official language" of the Philippines, ("Filipino", I believe), is based on Tagalog, not Bisaya.  So my wife also speaks Tagalog.

English is therefore her third language.  Considering this, she speaks it quite well.  (In comparison, my feeble attempts to speak Bisaya are met with confused stares and/or shrugged shoulders.)  However, there are times when her internal translator seems to fail her, most notably dealing with directions or gender.

Apparently Bisaya doesn't have gender specific pronouns such as "he" or "she", or "his" or "hers".  The inability to use the correct pronoun is common amongst her friends too, leading to the mother often being corrected by a child saying, "No Mom, it's "HE" not "SHE"!"  While I suppose advocates of multiple genders and "gender fluidity", (whatever the heck that is!), would welcome such a linguistic concept, to me it is just a minor quirk we all have learned to live with.

"Right" and "left" are often interchanged, many times leading to my snarky comment, "Oh, you meant the OTHER right?"  This is usually just another linguistic quirk we overlook, except when I am driving and asking for directions.  Then it can become irritating.  (Or, as my wife would say, I become needlessly upset over nothing.)

Finally, I would like to relate two specific examples of my wife's "Filipina English" that I find particularly amusing.

1. Positive Smelly Thing.  One day soon after my wife had arrived in the USA, and she was still adapting to speaking English instead of Bisaya, we were out walking and she said to me, "You're a smelly thing."  I was taken aback by this, and asked her why she said that.  She then explained to me that I was a "positive smelly thing", meaning she liked the way I smelled.

2. Rabbits aren't mammals; they're rodents.  Although wrong on BOTH counts, (rabbits are NOT rodents, but they most certainly are mammals), the intent of this statement was not to deny that rabbits are mammals, but rather clarify that they are rodents.  

Interestingly rabbits were in fact once considered rodents.  It wasn't until the early 20th century that scientists decided to classify them as something else.  Who knows ..... maybe in the future they'll be lumped back in with rats, mice, and squirrels into one big happy group of furry little animals.

P.S.  In Mindanao frogs make the sound, "Kokak", whereas here in America they go, "Ribbit".  The reason why our American frogs don't croak, "Kokak" is obvious, if you think about it.  American frogs don't know Bisaya!

Thursday, July 9, 2020

Bluegreen Sucks!!

I seem to have bad luck with companies that start with the word "Blue"!

Back in 2018, near the end of August, I got a nice contract position for the state of Georgia.  It paid a hefty, (to me!), rate of $45/hr, and despite being located in Atlanta, I didn't think the cost of getting an apartment there would be too onerous.  (I was very, very wrong.)

Anyway ..... flush with overconfidence regarding my newfound wealth, I foolishly decided that it would be a good idea to associate myself with the liars and cheaters of Bluegreen, and dragged my family along to attend one of their sales presentations in Savannah, GA.  We tossed away about $16,000 to "buy" a timeshare property from these jerks, and went away happy as a flock of fools can be with our new purchase.

A few months went by, and after some more hard sell pressure, this time in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, we found ourselves owning two timeshares from these clowns, down about $34,000, and much less satisfied with our purchases.  It wasn't until the subsequent April, when we were on vacation in Orlando, that we realized the true folly of our dealings with Bluegreen.  (Being an extremely slow learner, I bought yet another timeshare on that trip too, this time from a different company.)

As 2019 plodded on, we realized that buying the timeshares from Bluegreen had been a HUGE mistake, and so we decided to sell them.  We had been assured during both purchasing transactions that we could always sell our timeshares for about half of what we paid for them, which meant we would lose about $17,000.  Ouch!

But the real pain hit later.  After just a little research, it became painfully obvious that not only were these timeshares worthless, (in that NO ONE IN THEIR RIGHT MIND would even consider buying them without extreme sales pressure), but that we would HAVE TO PAY a legal firm to get the stupid things off our hands.  Double OUCH!!

By the end of 2019 we were finally free of Bluegreen, at a cumulative cost to us, (purchase of the timeshares + legal services), of over $40,000!!

I remember asking one of the lawyers how could this be legal, and he simply explained to me that since a lot of money is involved, congress critters could be "swayed" to legislate in a way favorable to the unethical timeshare industry.

The moral of this story, boys and girls, is simple.  Never trust the words of someone trying to sell you something, PARTICULARLY A BLUEGREEN TIMESHARE SALESMAN!  And don't count on the legal system to bail you out once you realize you've been swindled.

Caveat emptor!

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

This Fool is back to Running Errands

Late last year I posted about how trying to make a living online is too difficult given the unlikely odds of a reasonable success.

When I wrote that, I was comfortably earning $50/hr on an easy contract at a nice company just two or three miles up the road.  (Lots of money and almost no commute; what a dream job!)  Well, all things must pass, and this past March that contract ended.  (Bummer!  I nearly cried when that job folded!)

I've been looking for a replacement contract since, but not being the world's greatest interviewee, I haven't gotten any job offers yet.

After being unemployed for a couple months, I hit upon the idea of selling Life Insurance, and even went to all the trouble, (and expense), of getting licensed and appointed to sell the stuff, only to realize that .... well, I don't really like Life Insurance, and I sure as hell can't sell something I don't believe in.  If you need Life Insurance, my advice is to buy the cheapest TERM insurance you can find.  Although some people swear by it, (self delusion?  or maybe they are swearing AT IT!), I personally wouldn't touch Whole Life insurance or Universal Life insurance with a thirty nine and a half foot pole.  (Hats off to the good Doctor and that reformed meanie, Mr. Grinch.)

So ..... with perhaps a hint of desperation, I turned back to that former elusive goal of mine, namely, making money online.

First I had to clean up the mess that I had allowed my various websites to become, fixing up pages that had become dated or obsolete.  Then it was on to ways to make a buck or three.

Of course I had to play with Bitcoin a little, trying out the faucets I once knew.  You can make a teeny, tiny bit of money with Bitcoin faucets, but certainly not enough to live on.  (Unless you can live on 25¢ a day!)

After that silliness we sat down and thought about ways we could actually make some money, and decided to give the T-Shirt business a shot.  Kuya, (our nine year old son), even got in on the act, designing his own shirt:

Our first "collection" is a series of variations on the State "Bird" theme:  Here is an example:

If you're hopelessly enamored with small blood sucking insects, we have a pillow and a beach towel that you may be interested in.

Besides all mosquito stuff, I managed to fix the links in the remnant of Awkward Uncle's Online Store.  Silliness on the part of my hosting provider at the time, (Bluehost), caused both my Awkward Uncle and Tea Universe stores to disappear about this time last year.  Tea Universe is history now, (any old links will take you to some page written in what I guess is Chinese), but I'm trying to bring Awkward Uncle back from the dead.

p.s. - a really cruddy youtube video more-or-less summarizing all this: .

A screenshot of a portion of our "mosquito tees" collection

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Making Money Online is a Fool's Errand

If you read my last post, you know that I recently decided to "invest" in Bitcoin to see if I could make some money online.  Actually "invest" is a bit of a misnomer; "gamble" would be a more accurate description.

What this crazy old man did is buy some Bitcoin, (nothing necessarily wrong with that, and if I had just held on to my Bitcoin I'd have TWICE as much money now!), then "invest" ...... er, I mean "gamble", these Bitcoins away by transferring them to various online HYIPs.

What is a HYIP, you ask?  Well, rather than sugar coat it, I'll just tell you the truth: a HYIP is a site created by criminals who sucker stupid people, (such as me!), into giving them their money, (or, in my case, Bitcoins), by promising ridiculously high returns, such as 3% A DAY, (or 12% A WEEK), on your "investment".  These sites have nothing but their promise to actually pay backing their claims, so it should come as no surprise that I lost a small, (but still painful), amount of money to them.  DO NOT GIVE THESE JERKS YOUR MONEY, UNLESS YOU DON'T CARE THAT YOU'LL NEVER GET IT BACK!!

But the worst part of my aborted Bitcoin adventure was all that time that I wasted, fussing around online, attempting to discover which HYIPs were "legit".  (Hint:  NONE of them are.)

This latest online disappointment, combined with my quitting retirement for a very good job, has finally convinced me that attempting to make money online is a silly way to spend my time.  Yes, some folks do make quite a lot of money doing it, but then some folks also make a lot of money being an artist or a musician.  That certainly doesn't mean that I would recommend anyone become an artist or musician as a livelihood!  You should only become an artist or musician if not doing so would make your life not worth living, as the odds are you will not be able to support yourself.

I would lump "making a living online" in with being an artist or musician.  Do it if you must, but understand that there are much, much easier ways to make a comfortable living.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

My New Online Adventure

Just recently, (a month ago), I retired.  This was probably a premature decision, but the rationale behind this madness was that, finally, I was going to be able to devote full time attention to my various websites, particularly the ones like Tea Universe where I was attempting to make a buck or two on Amazon affiliate sales.

Ha!  Life had other plans.

If you've read my prior posts, you know that I was kinda sucker punched by Bluehost, and now my Tea Universe site is, well, wimpy dead.

Disgusted with how things worked out, I haven't had much interest in doing anything at all online.  Not to mention that, now that I am no longer working out of town, my wife is taking full advantage of my presence, the result being that most of my time now is occupied with babysitting the kids.

In my demoralized state most of my time online was just frittered away in one silly thing or another, until I happened to land upon a really cool site called Beer Money Forum.

BMF, as it is called, is a website that tries to help folks make some money online.  In one section of this site there is a place where folks discuss cyber currencies.

I've been interested in Bitcoin and other cyber currencies for a while now, but, intimidated by "the unknown", I never bought any.  The discussions on BMF convinced me that cyber currencies weren't so confusing after all, and that this may be something I could learn and dabble with, to my financial benefit.

Thus my "cryptocurrency journey".

The idea of a currency that isn't created by a government appeals to my inner anarchist, yet my inner control freak is soothed by its mathematical underpinnings.  And you know what?  Messing around with Bitcoin and the other "alt coins" is fun!

So why not get your own Coinbase wallet and join my on this adventure?  Maybe we'll all become rich?

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Bluehost Sucks!!

As you may know, Grump recently decided to quit his job, ("retire", in his overactive imagination).  Since he wasn't going to be stuck at work anymore, he figured he would finally have some time to work on his websites, particularly his Tea Universe site.


On July 26th, his web hosting company, Bluehost, sent him an email informing him that his account had been "hacked", and that all domains associated with it would be disabled until he resolved the problem.

So he called their tech support number, asking what he should do.

The proposed solution was to run a virus scan and firewall on each of the FOUR domains he had registered with them.  Sounds reasonable, huh?  The problem was that this would cost an additional $30.00 per domain, per month.

That's an extra $120.00 per month!!

I can understand if this was maybe a one time charge of $30.00 for the whole account, but attempting to shake him down for an extra $120.00/month is ridiculous.  Besides, shouldn't a web host be running virus scans and putting up firewalls anyway?

Grump never uploaded any files to his account other than .JPG pics and Wordpress approved plugins, so he doesn't think he added any contaminated files to his account.  The techies at Bluehost seem to think the hackers exploited a vulnerability in one of his plugins.  (Maybe, disturbingly, Wordfence itself, which is a plugin that is supposed to help prevent this type of thing.)  Regardless, he believes that they should take a greater role in keeping paid-for accounts safe, rather than using a successful hack as an excuse to charge their customers more money.

So poopy on you, Bluehost!  You can keep your stupid domains!!

By cancelling his account with Bluehost, (and I have to add that, to their credit, Bluehost did refund him over $400.00 for unused hosting), Grump has wiped out the following:

The loss of is the most painful, because this was his money site.  He is starting a new Tea Universe site, (, but it will take some time and effort before that site amounts to anything.  August/2018 update: the "new" Tea Universe never got off the ground.

As you can imagine, we STRONGLY recommend that any-and-all NOT sign up for web hosting services with Bluehost, and we are NOT ALONE.  (Check out this article if you don't believe me:  Unless you are very, very lucky, you WILL be at best disappointed, and at worst out lots of money, or without your websites.

Which then begs the question: why do so many prominent bloggers recommend Bluehost?  (That would be you, Pat Flynn.  And you too, Mr. Money Mustache.)  Well, I hate to be jaded about this, but have you seen how much Mr. Flynn makes from Bluehost monthly affiliate commissions?  A HUGE hooray to him for acknowledging this, (he posts monthly income reports showing how he makes his money), but wouldn't it be even more wonderful if he recommended a web host that was actually pretty good, instead of a cruddy one?

As with all things, buyer beware. These days I would probably say that you need to TRIPLE that for anything you stumble across online, as the internet seems to be a breeding ground for not just blatant dishonesty, but also harmful "sorta truths". Be careful!!

Monday, August 7, 2017

Our "Net Worth" - an Update (August/2017)

A Confused Old Grump

When we last posted our net worth about a year ago,  (, we had a cool half million, more or less.  Now that Grump recently got a bug up his butt and quit his job, (er, excuse me - "retired"), we figured it was a good time to update this figure.

Between now and then lots has happened, mostly bad.

The sole good news is that, until last week, Grump was still employed, and bringing home a paycheck.

The bad news, of course, begins with the fact that this employment is no more, so we will have to be finding other ways to support ourselves.  (Pulling up the pillows on the couch looking for loose change?)  But the real cruddy news had to do with an obscenely expensive, (over $8,000.00!!), vacation that Sweetie, Lola, and the boys took to the Philippines this past spring.  (Mindanao island specifically, just before martial law was declared there.  Ugh!)  Add to this the fact that we are paying to completely rebuild Sweetie's sister's house in her home village, (and this costs MUCH more than you would expect it to cost in such a poor part of a poor country), and you can imagine what a train wreck our finances, and thus net worth, should be.

Here is where it gets really weird.  Despite all this mess, would you believe our net worth actually INCREASED, to almost $580,000.00 ?


I can't fully explain what is going on here, (grossly overpriced stock market?  basic arithmetic errors?  cosmic intervention?), but it does seem that despite our fiscal recklessness, we continue to get richer.

But we'll see how long this good fortune continues, now that Grump is unemployed!

1. ASSETS:  $700,000.00  

This is crazy.  Most of our assets are in stocks.  I believe that the stock market is in a huge bubble, and that once this bubble bursts the value of our assets will shrink down to reality.  But for the time being, it is what it is.

2. LIABILITIES:  $120,000.00

I'm actually proud of this number.  Yeah, we took money out of our savings to help pay this down from the $140,000 we owed a year ago, but still, reducing debt by $20,000/year is a good thing.  I hope we continue to chip away at our debt like this, rather than do stupid things like spending $8,000.00+ to fritter away a month in the Philippines.

$700,000 - $120,000  =  $580,000 , which is our new NET WORTH!

I'm as perplexed by this as anyone else.