Playing With the Fujifilm X-T2 (And Some Random Photos)

I’ve had the Fujifilm X-T2 for almost two weeks and the more I use it, the more I get used to using it, the more I’m convinced that I made the right decision in selling off my Nikon.

My initial fear was that this camera was going to be too small for me to comfortably hold but that didn’t turn out to be the case at all. It’s a great fit, almost as if they had my hands in mind when designing the camera.

My next realization was that with easily accessible and clearly marked dials for ISO and shutter speed, and aperture rings on the lenses I purchased, plus the “assist” I can get from the two command dials, I’m possibly thinking about settings more than I did in the past, and manually bracketing a lot of my shots as I continue to try to find out what works and what doesn’t work with the camera.

Continue reading “Playing With the Fujifilm X-T2 (And Some Random Photos)”

PLDT – Why Do You Make Me Hate You So Much?

It’s been a crazy couple of weeks and I’ve been meaning to write an update but I’ve just been that busy. I was in Hong Kong for 8 days and meant to write something about that but the time has eluded me. Also the company I work for has been bought and it’s not immediately clear what that means for my future.

Anyway, last month, I was a little bit late in paying bills – sheer laziness, no other reason. I paid my monthly PLDT bill a couple of days after the due date. But here’s the thing – it was due on a Thursday, I paid it on Saturday, the payment registered on their system on Monday, and then they still cut my service on Tuesday because essentially their systems are so fucking shitmongous that they couldn’t cross-process the information on time.

Continue reading “PLDT – Why Do You Make Me Hate You So Much?”

Some Days Are Good Enough

It is 5:39 AM as I start writing this post. I’ve been up since 3 AM. There are several reasons for this.

I’ve started taking a medication called Champix, which is supposed to help one quit smoking by somehow reducing the, um, enjoyment one gets from a cigarette and from nicotine. Actually I’d started taking it in November but went off it when my mother died. I’d felt it starting to work and always intended to give it another try and started with it again last week. One of the common side effects is insomnia, which I’ve got. Another is very vivid dreams, which I’ve got. One rare side effect apparently is suicidal thoughts, which so far I don’t have.

Continue reading “Some Days Are Good Enough”

A Few Good Days

I need distractions. I’m so horrified by the events in the U.S. during the past ten days but I don’t know what to say about them, what to add to the discussion. I need distractions.

Friends from Hong Kong (American husband, Filipino wife) have a house in Angeles. We drove up there for the weekend. The drive itself is quite okay – well it’s roughly 60 miles but takes almost 2-1/2 hours if you drive straight through. The NLEX highway has plenty of American-style rest stops – the larger ones not only have gas stations but also have 15 or 20 fast food chains. The ones on the drive south also feature outlet stores from Nike, Adidas and others, crafts shops, even a shop selling ATV’s.

Continue reading “A Few Good Days”

Manila – It’s the Little Things

Yeah. More bitching and moaning. But a lot of you seem to enjoy it!

When you are a foreign resident here, you are required to show up in person at the Bureau of Immigration every January to prove you are still alive and in the Philippines. You can fill out the relevant form for this online but you are still required to make an appearance. I get the feeling it is one of those “we make you do it because we can” things.

The main office of the BI is in Intramuros. It is just 14 miles from where I live but it takes longer to drive there than it does to fly from Manila to Hong Kong. The BI website lists an office in Makati. I tried to contact that office based upon the information available on their web site – I tried calling but the “main number” rings over to a fax machine and an email I sent to them was returned as undeliverable. This is a common factor with Philippines government web sites – unreliable, confusing and/or missing information.

Continue reading “Manila – It’s the Little Things”

Manila – OPM Against Drugs Festival Photo – Photo Gallery

I’m now going to be adding Photo Galleries here (rather than on Spike’s Photos). You can see there’s now a Photo Galleries item on the top menu. I might add in some of the older galleries soon.

I’m kicking this off with a gallery of what I think are my best shots from the OPM Against Drugs Festival held in Manila on January 14, 2017.  Here’s a few sample shots:

Click here to see the full gallery!



Manila – OPM Against Drugs Festival Photos Part 1

January 14, 2017 – 100 bands, 5 stages for the OPM (Original Pilipino Music) Against Drugs Festival produced by Rakrakan. The 5 themed stages were Move, Indie, Groove, Mosh and Slam. (I won’t comment on the “Against Drugs” bit.)

My friends Tribo Subculture were one of the bands appearing on the Slam stage and they arranged an all-access pass for me.  The festival kicked off around noon but I didn’t get there until around 10 PM or so, which gave me time to shoot some of the bands, wander around the crowd a bit, get some food, gaze at the “merch”, and of course enjoy the music that I heard.

I’m told that last year they had 24,000 people there and this year it was up to 35,000. Well, advance ticket prices were just P500 (that’s around US$10) and draft Red Horse Beer was just P50, so why wouldn’t you go if you could? The crowd was remarkably peaceful and friendly and I thought it was a great event.

I’m still working my way through the photos I shot but here are some of my favorites so far:

Continue reading “Manila – OPM Against Drugs Festival Photos Part 1”

Used Stuff I’m Selling (Manila Only)

Several used items I’m selling off. Ads are on OLX and Facebook and thought I might post here as well, with the caveat being that I’m not really wanting to ship anything so this is for meet-ups in the Manila area. Prices are negotiable. Everything is in very good to excellent condition.

GoPro Camera and headphones being sold because they are not used, Kindle being sold because it was one of three that my mother had (long story), other items for what should be obvious reasons.

(Aside – people have a weird way of haggling here. This has happened to me often enough that I suppose it is the regular way of doing things in this country. Example: I say “asking price P20,000.” No one says “would you take 16,000”? Everyone says “what’s your last price”? If I respond, “It’s negotiable, make an offer,” that is almost always met with silence.)

Anyway, if you’re interested in any of this stuff, leave a comment with your contact details (I won’t publish the comment) or send an email to hongkietown at gmail dot com

Thanks for taking a look!

GoPro Hero4 Silver Edition with MicroSD card & other accessories

Asking P13,500. Includes 64 gig SanDisk Micro SD card, 2 extra Wasabi batteries and charger, GoPro floating handle, Polar Pro strap mount, black cover, and all original accessories.

Bowers & Wilkins P3 Headphones

Asking P5,000, includes carrying case, iPhone cable

Sennheiser Momentum Around-the-Ear Headphones, Brown

Asking P4,000. Includes carrying case, iPhone cable, regular cable

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC7b Noise-Cancelling Headphones


Asking P3,000. Includes carrying case, 2 plug adapters

Amazon Kindle 4 (WiFi) with leather cover

Asking P2,000

Deluxe Comfort Transport Wheelchair

Asking P13,000. Purchased new in March, used probably once a week for six months.

Commode Chair

Asking P2,000. Used for two months, thoroughly cleaned and disinfected, looks new.


Manila – The Insanity of the Pasig City TPMO

Here’s an example of one of the unexpected drawbacks of living in Manila, the kind of thing you might not anticipate before you move here but that can have a noticeable impact on your quality of life.

In this instance, one might think that if one buys a car and gets insurance for that car and has a proper drivers license, one can just get in that car and drive as one wishes. But in Manila? Not so much.

I live in what is called a “subdivision” – in this case a private community surrounded by a wall with entry/exit gates manned by private security guards. The one I live in is called Greenwoods Executive Village. This is one of the largest villages of its kind in Manila. There are thousands of houses here, spread across ten different phases. No one seems to know for certain how many houses are here or what the population is. (Some have joked that the population is 25,000 out of which 24,000 are construction workers. After 25 years there are still plenty of vacant plots here and new houses are going up daily.)

The village is so big that it spreads across three different cities – Pasig, Cainta and Taytay. (The latter two are not considered part of Metro Manila, they are in the province of Rizal.) The main entrance to the village is in Pasig but the bulk of the residents live in Cainta or Taytay – very few live in Pasig or pay taxes there or vote for Pasig officials – but most of the traffic coming to and from the village routes through Pasig.

Pasig traffic is controlled by the TPMO – Traffic and Parking Management Office. The head of the TPMO is an appointed, not an elected official, one Alberto Dulay Sr. The members of the TPMO are referred to as “traffic enforcers” or “blue boys.” Pasig City has had 4 mayors in the past 24 years and they all have the same last name – Eusebio.

Continue reading “Manila – The Insanity of the Pasig City TPMO”