Happy birthday, dad! My dad loves fish, both on a plate and in a pond. Whenever he sees a body of water with fish inside, he turns into a little boy - "Ooooo, fishies!" (If the body of water has no fish, he peers inside and with a dejected voice says "Awww, no fishies," then reverts to his adult self.) He's wanted a koi pond for I don't know how many years.

I'm learning something new about Mandarin every day. Yesterday it was the large embroidery that hangs on the living room wall; it's got 9 fish leaping upstream, and four characters: a weird complicated one I didn't recognize, then "have" (you), then "year" (nian) repeated twice. I assumed it meant that something - whatever the first strange word meant - had two years, although that really made no sense.

Yesterday I learned that the weird word meant "overabundance," was a homonym for the word "fish" (yue - hence the picture), and the words were written from right to left. Whoops. So it's "nian-nian-you-yue," or "year-year-have-overabundance," or "every-year-have-extra (food)." Chinese and Tagalog both do the doubling-up thing; in Chinese if you want to say "every day," you say "day-day," in Tagalog, if you want to say something's especially pretty, you say "pretty-pretty." Nice and efficient.

Local elections ended a few days ago here; leading up to that were a few days of traffic clogged by poster-plastered cars, buses, bikes, trikes, and marchers with matching t-shirts headed by a couple people banging on large rolling drums. I have never seen so many election posters anywhere. They're like wallpaper on the buildings and walls outside, mostly for barangay captain and kagawad (...kinda like the head of a neighborhood and the multiple assistants of the neighborhood head, respectively). My aunt and eldest cousin showed up one night with fingers dark purple from indelible ink.

Oh, right. Jumping back to the first sentence of this post, this is my dad. He works for a medical supply company and gives very, very interesting product presentations to the salespeople there. His name is Captain Electrode (shown here with offspring).

Apparently it's genetic. (Me, Halloween 2005.)

Happy birthday! Miss you, dad.