Thursday, July 28, 2005

big shoes

I don't consider myself particularly vain, but I'd be lying if I said I didn't care about my appearance (though I've been known to violate that sentiment). My "fashion", if you could call it that, is pretty minimalist (which is probably a euphemism for "not clueless but hardly radical and probably a bit dull"). I don't buy many clothes or spend huge amounts on designer brands. The one exception, for a combination of two interrelated reasons, is shoes.

Reason 1 - My feet are completely crap. They're size US15 (UK14; Euro 49-50, Japan 33). In Oz, it's very difficult to buy anything other than sports shoes and the sort of heavy, black clodhopping monstrosities that I might consider when I'm over 70 and nursing-home staff have to dress me. In the Philippines I've never seen any shoes larger than US12 (and now that all the sweatshops have moved to China, the bigger shoes probably aren't even made here anymore, like they were in the good old days until the big shoe companies realised Chinese workers were more exploitable. My feet are size 15 because they're long. But they're also very narrow, which makes finding shoes that comfortably fit even harder. And I wear orthotics - so I have to have shoes that will take the orthotics well. Which all means that I have to buy expensive-ish shoes. Almost without exception, the only non-sports/non-orthopaedic-geriatric footwear that goes up to my size are high-end brands.

Reason 2 - Because of Reason 1, I tend to get kind of obsessed with getting decent shoes. Partly because I know I'll have to shell out a decent whack of cash, partly because if I'm bloody-well going to go through the hassle required to find the damn things, they better be worth it.

And what is this "hassle"? Essentially, because of my vague obsession, I end up trekking around to almost every fucking shoe shop in whichever city I'm in and have the following conversation:

Me: "Do you have anything in this style [waves hand vaguely, indicating half of all male shoes in stock] in a US15?"

Shop assistant: "Oh yes - we have these." [shows me
heavy, black clodhopping monstrosities]

Me: "Um...I was thinking more alomng the lines of these." [points at what may be a vaguely fashionable and probably reasonably casual style]

Shop assistant: "We have those in a 13 - but it's a big 13! Do you want to try them?"

Then, for some stupid reason, I do try them - knowing that it won't be anywhere big enough, or they'll be almost big enough and I'll convince myself they are big enough and end up selling or giving them away to friends with slightly smaller feet.

The problem is, when you multiply this by a dozen or more shops, it takes time. I swear I can spend two full days or more looking for fucking shoes, and usually have nothing to show for it in the end.

So I decided to try something new: I bought some shoes online (see the little buggers below). I found a shop in the US that specialises in large sizes. I selected a style, I ordered them and they arrived in about a week. Taking into account the cheaper US prices (compared to Oz), shipping costs and customs duty, they cost me around teh same as I'd pay in Oz. They fit perfectly. Which all sounds just dandy, except I spent about the same amount of time online trying to choose the style as I would have taken walking 30km around town between shoe shops. And it's not like I was overwhelmed for choice - I had to choose between two styles, each of which came in three colour schemes. I ummed and ahhed, I emailed friends for their opinion, I vacillated between wanting them and thinking I was being a vain, extravagant dick. In the end I think I bought them just so I'd stop wasting my life looking at the website.
You finished that work yet boy!?

No sir, I've been trying to decide - do you like the natural brown or the dark brown? Do think these would go well with my cords...?

He could've been anything...if it wasn't for his feet...

Friday, July 22, 2005

found it again

A friend of mine took the below photo at a shopping mall in Manila. It throws up some good questions. What is Nipple "N" Areolar Repair? (Specifically: what is the mysterious "N"??) What is a phlebectomy? But it's the one at bottom left that really intrigues me...

Inquire inside...indeed.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Saving the Turks

Below is an email thread from a couple of weeks ago. It begins with an email from a girl who works for the same organisation as me. I guess I’d describe her as a friendly acquaintance. While I am well aware that the Philippines is a pretty religious country, this caught me by surprise. At first I thought it might have been some sort of virus-propagated hoax but – regrettably – it turned out genuine.

My response is very short and doesn’t express an opinion. I toyed with the idea of writing about why I disagreed with J2’s plan, but in the end opted out. I doubt it would’ve made any difference and it might have soured friendships I have with other (less zealous) people here. I would love to chat with J2 about this, but I fear it would be a bit like arguing the case for evolution with a hardcore creationist – each side is carrying out an entirely different discussion to the other, and never the twain shall meet.

I would have also loved to point out the thick, rich, creamy irony in J2’s reply to my response (at bottom of this posting).

My housemate (J), who does believe in a god, but isn’t particularly into formal religion, also received J2’s email and pointed out in her response that she suspects her god might be more concerned about poverty/war/health/[insert your choice of human misery].

It did strike me that this might be a good way to score a cheap trip to Turkey, too. I’d have thought that converting people in 10 days is a pretty big ask.


God help the Turks.


From: J2
Sent: Thursday, July 07, 2005 5:00 PM
Subject: Do you know that ...?

Dear A,


Do you know that more than 99% of the population of Turkey is Muslims? Hence, there is a great need to reach out to this nation so that they may know who Jesus really is. And the great thing about this is we could be a part of this work and advance God’s kingdom in Turkey!

On October 2005, a team from Every Nation Ministries Short Term Missions Outreach will be going to Turkey. Moreover, I am glad to tell you that I will be a part of this outreach team to scout and pray for this land.

In line with this, I am presently developing a partnership team to cover my expenses of US$1,500.00. In order to obtain these necessary funds as quickly as possible, I trust the Lord to provide individuals who will make a one-time investment to become a member of my partnership team.

A, will you partner with me in this life-changing event of touching the lives of the Turks through a one-time commitment of US$500, US$300 or US$100?

I’m looking forward to hearing from you. Again, thank you very much.

With best regards,


Hi J2,

Sorry, but this isn’t something I can support. I don’t believe in the cause of converting people from one religion to another.



Hi A!

It's ok. I respect your beliefs. Thank you so much for replying in my email.


Friday, July 01, 2005

A symphony of industry and nature...

Just an email exchange between W and me today...


It’s funny – I think these high-schoolish games that we seem dismayed to be playing in our 30s are actually the norm (for our demographic, anyway – ie, middle-class, educated, liberal hipsters). Is L judgmental? It sounds like it from what you’ve said. Then again, maybe I’m wrong for not being judgmental. Maybe I should judge. But I have a policy of never judging the romantic/relationship goings-on of fellow adults because: 1) You almost NEVER know the whole story; 2) I have no reason to think that in certain circumstances I wouldn’t do the same thing; and 3) I think people are responsible for their own decisions and capable of living with any consequences. Me judging some sort of behavior (in this sphere – am not talking about violence, e.g.) as wrong or immoral just seems hypocritical and arrogant. There maybe exceptions, but in general it’s always greyer than it is black or white and people rarely do things callously, even if someone gets hurt.

Job – OK. Trying to discipline myself to work. More I do now the less chaotic and stressful it’ll be later when the deadline for the magazine approaches. As always, I often question what the hell I’m doing.



hmm, thanks, it's good to have you opinion on the matter, i wouldn't consider L judgmental but D thinks she can be a bit of a christian sometimes....and i don't think she's entirely impartial - when she found out about me and d she said she was a little jealous - and one minute she tells that D2's upset and lonely and i'm taking advantage of that, and the next she's telling me D2's using ME (think you addressed this in your point (3), ie. people being responsible for themselves)

.....anyhoo - i haven't seen her for a couple of weeks but am seeing a movie with her tomorrow arvo, so that'll be nice

any plans for the w-end?

hey i took a look at the instamatics website - really liked some of the stuff on their 'word up' page



OH yeah, you mentioned that L admitted a touch of jealousy (she’s only human) – that goes a fair way to explaining her mixed messages etc.

Am off to Subic this weekend – haven’t been before. It’s a sort of government-owned town / industrial park (Big fun!). Apparently it’s quite unlike the rest of the Philippines – well organized, well ordered, good infrastructure, enforced road rules etc. Like a slice of the developed world. Apparently it’s pretty interesting though. The tourism ad described it as “a symphony of industry and nature.” Sounds perfect to me: sure I love a pristine beach, but how much better if there’s a car factory a few minutes’ walk away?? But there is a tract of untouched forest (quite rare now I think) + mangroves and some nice places to hang. Or so I’ve heard.

The reason we’re going there (as opposed to somewhere else) is that M has hooked up with K (he is a lucky man) and Subic is reasonably close to where she lives and was one of few logistically easy destinations.