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Everything posted by Castaway

  1. Driving in the Philippines is definitely more expensive and more stressful than walking or taking trikes/jeepneys, but I get home much cleaner now ever since I bought a car.
  2. This topic has made me hungry for a traditional Thanksgiving dinner with a stuffed and roasted Turkey. I guess that some of us have been able to prepare a stuffed and roasted Turkey over here in the Phils... but since I don't even own an oven, it's out of the question for me (at least for right now).
  3. Been there twice and I love all of the same things that Baguio has to offer. Overall, my favorite part is the climate... it's nice to be able to stay cool without needing an aircon in your hotel room.
  4. But it can be Steve... you just have to pick out the right location... after all, there are over 7,000 islands in the Philippines.
  5. Metro Manila · No Electricity: Brownouts & Blackouts With an increasing number of storms and other calamities, coupled with fragile infrastructure, chances are high that you experience at least one or two brownouts per year in the Megacity Manila. Here is what you should know about power outages and how to be prepared. Blackout Blackouts refer to a complete loss of electricity flow in the power grid. Fortunately, that does not happen very often in Manila. Blackouts are rare, where brownouts are much more common. Brownout A brownout refers to the decrease of electricity flow in the power grid. Brownouts happen in the Megacity from time to time, especially during summer. Brownouts range from a couple of minutes to a few hours maximum. Sometimes, brownouts are intentionally caused due to the lack of electricity to serve the whole Megacity. In that case, the power distribution companies establish 'rotating' brownouts where every city inside the Megacity will have no electricity for 1-2 hours. These planned brownouts will be announced beforehand. http://www.megacities-go-services.com/Manila/Manila-Daily-Survive-Manila/Safety-Security/No-Electricity-Brownouts-Blackouts
  6. Sort of typical for Washington DC, since when I went back there for a visit in November 2015, I was still able to wear shorts, T-Shirts and Flip-flops.
  7. Re-consider your spelling Austrailian Australian Dollars
  8. I think that I may be in need of a nibble today
  9. Bring Snow Ball Globes with you, so that you can think about cold weather whenever the 12 months of being hot gets to be a bit too much to take
  10. Whenever I'm buying a new Aircon, I always need to convert the HP amount into BTU's first... since determining the strength of any Aircon solely on the HP number just rolls over my head... but the number of BTU's gives me a clear idea of the power of an Aircon unit.
  11. The higher value of the dollar really helps me stay awash in beer since the prices have gone up (as mentioned in another topic).
  12. Just trying to figure this all out So many things are up in the air right now and the US is involved with so many of those things that are being juggled up in air… but the US Dollar is still going strong Why Is the Dollar So Strong Right Now? The dollar is so strong for three reasons. Firstly, the Fed ended its expansive monetary policy as the economy improved. It stopped adding to the money supply. This constrained the supply of the dollar and increased its value. The Fed also raised interest rates in December 2015. This strengthened the value of the dollar. It meant that U.S. Treasury notes would attract higher interest rates in the short-term. That increased the demand for dollars. Savers earned a higher rate of return on dollar deposits than on euro deposits, which paid lower interest rates. Second, the European Central Bank lowered the value of the euro by doing the opposite. Political instability in the European Union also weakened the euro. Here's the Euro Dollar Conversion and Its History. The dollar automatically strengthens when the euro weakens. That’s because the euro makes up 57.6 percent of the value of the USDX. Therefore, whatever makes the euro weaker will make the dollar stronger and vice-versa. Each of the other currencies in the USDX has less influence on the dollar’s value. Finally, forex traders intensified the strength of the dollar. They used leverage to further weaken the euro and strengthen the dollar. This is the timeline of what happened from 2014 through 2016. 2014: In January, the Fed began tapering its quantitative easing program. The dollar remained in its 2013 trading range of around 80 for the first six months of 2013.. Similarly, the euro traded at around $1.3767. In February, the pro-western forces in Ukraine overthrew its government, sowing seeds of the Ukraine crisis. In March, Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula in Ukraine. In April, it sent forces to support pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine. Also in March, the Fed announced it would look at raising the fed funds rate sometime in mid-2015. On September 4, the ECB announced it would begin its version of QE. In November, the ECB added it would maintain low interest rates. In December, the euro fell to $1.21, as investors feared the Greek debt crisis would force Greece out of the eurozone. As a result, the dollar strengthened to 90.03 by the end of the year. 2015: In January, the ECB announced it would begin QE in March. On March 12, it started buying bonds. The euro fell to $1.0524 (a 12-year low) on March 13. As the euro fell, the dollar rose. The USDX hit a 52-week high of 100.390 on March 13, 2015. The dollar rose 25 percent from its July 11, 2014, low of 80.187. It closed the year at 98.01. Throughout 2015, analysts predicted the euro would fall to parity ($1.00). As a result, hedge funds and other forex traders began shorting the euro. These included Bridgewater Associates, Tudor Investment, Brevan Howard, Moore Capital Management, Caxton Associates and the Gavea Fund. Traders who shorted the euro sold them on the spot market. This meant they promised to buy them in the future to replace the currency they borrowed from their forex brokers. They hoped the value of the euro would fall during that time. If so, they pocketed the difference as their profit. Another factor driving the strength of the dollar in 2015 was a slowdown in China's economy. Potential credit problems scared investors into the safe haven of the dollar. In December, the Federal Open Market Committee raised the fed funds rate to 0.25. 2016: In January and February, the Dow fell to 15,660.18. It reacted to higher Fed interest rates. Investors didn’t like falling oil prices, the devaluation of the yuan and the turmoil in China's stock market. Dollar Strength Index The U.S. dollar index is the common measure for the strength of the dollar. This is a composite that measures the value of the dollar against the six the most widely-traded currencies. These currencies all use a flexible exchange rate. The amount of trade they have with the United States determines the exchange rate and weight of each currency. This captures the risk that U.S. companies have to those currencies. Currency Symbol Country Weight Euro EUR Eurozone 57.6% Yen JPY Japan 13.6% Pound GBP Great Britain 11.9% Dollar CAD Canada 9.1% Krona SEK Denmark 4.2% Franc CHG Switzerland 3.6% U.S. Dollar Forecast Long-term, the large U.S. debt-to-GDP ratio will reduce the dollar rate. Before the financial crisis, that's exactly what happened. As the U.S. debt grew, the dollar's value fell. During the crisis, investors put their money into ultra-safe U.S. Treasurys. That increased the value of the dollar. It also lowered long-term interest rates. This combined with expansionary monetary and fiscal policy to strengthen the U.S. economy. That attracted more investors into Treasurys. https://www.thebalance.com/dollar-strength-why-is-it-so-strong-right-now-3305726
  13. Puerto Rico's massive problems with paying its debts has become part of its newer and larger problem. Jul. 22, 2015, How do we solve Puerto Rico's debt crisis? As Americans — both Puerto Ricans and citizens of the 50 U.S. states and the District — watch as Greece stumbles ever deeper into economic catastrophe, many of us want to know what our government plans to do about the Puerto Rican debt crisis, which, whether one likes it or not, is America's problem. A "bailout" is simply unacceptable to U.S. taxpayers. But a solution that provides fairness to creditors as well as debtors is at hand, if Congress is prepared to deploy its readily available constitutional powers. The Commonwealth of Puerto Rico should be authorized to restructure all its debts in a federal bankruptcy court. On June 29, the governor of Puerto Rico announced that $72 billion of the commonwealth's debt was "unpayable." This debt burden amounts to more than $20,000 for every man, woman and child — or roughly 70 percent of the commonwealth's per-capita gross domestic product. It is thus no exaggeration to characterize this as the most drastic fiscal crisis in Puerto Rico's history. This crisis threatens to inflict grave harm on the 3.5 million U.S. citizens of Puerto Rico, but also on the U.S. economy at large. So why not let Puerto Rico declare bankruptcy? There are three main objections to this plan. All seem reasonable but are easily countered. First, there is the constitutional argument. The Bankruptcy Code does not permit states to declare bankruptcy, in part, because subjecting them to federal bankruptcy or to suits from creditors arguably runs afoul of the 10th and 11th amendments. Puerto Rico, however, is a territory, and the Constitution gives Congress the power to "make all needful Rules and Regulations" respecting the territories. Congress, therefore, has authority to extend the provisions of the Bankruptcy Code to Puerto Rico, and these provisions would have primacy under the Constitution's Supremacy Clause. Second, there is the "moral hazard" argument. Why should we reward Puerto Rico and its residents for living beyond their means? To be sure, Puerto Rico has contributed to its problems by borrowing profligately to fund its bloated public payrolls. And Congress should consider imposing public-sector reform as part of any debt-restructuring legislation. In some ways, Puerto Rico is here the victim of its territorial status: Puerto Rico is part of the United States, and so it has no monetary policy of its own and is thus limited in how it can respond to a debt crisis. The best response to the "moral hazard" argument, however, is that the bankruptcy law enshrines our pragmatic recognition that a debt burden can become too crushing to handle. Although it is preferable for people, corporations and cities to make good on their obligations, in some cases this becomes practically impossible, to the detriment of creditors as well as debtors. The purpose of bankruptcy is to allow debtors and creditors to enter into an orderly and binding system of adjudication, where such debts can be restructured. Finally, there is the concern, shared by many Puerto Ricans, that treating Puerto Rico differently from the states is inconsistent with future efforts to achieve statehood. In short, if states are not permitted to declare bankruptcy, then Puerto Rico should not be permitted to do so either. In Puerto Rico, this concern is motivated by profoundly pro-American sentiments and a yearning for full equality within the American political family. But the simple reality is that Puerto Rico is in desperate trouble now, and it is a territory now. Nothing that happens today with respect to the current crisis should affect any eventual movement toward statehood, nor necessarily affect how states are treated in bankruptcy. In attempting to resolve this serious crisis, Congress should therefore be encouraged to consider the full range of its legal options. A clear-eyed view of the crisis reveals that the best solution to this difficult problem is to allow Puerto Rico and its creditors to restructure all these debts through the U.S. Bankruptcy Code. This step would both extend the protections of bankruptcy to all of Puerto Rico's creditors and give the U.S. citizens of Puerto Rico their best chance to move beyond this crisis and toward a better future. http://www.businessinsider.com/3-main-reasons-why-puerto-rico-cant-declare-bankruptcy-2015-7
  14. 3 weeks after Maria, Puerto Rico's pain is unending The 80-year-old woman's suicide note was ready when the volunteer nurses knocked on her door in the northern coastal town of Rio Grande. She'd had enough. "Her caretaker was abusing her," Bita Mehrjou, a New York-based nurse assisting with relief efforts in Puerto Rico, said Thursday. "She was alone. There was little food and water. The situation wasn't getting better. She wanted out. She tried taking all her pills." It's been three weeks since Hurricane Maria plowed across the island. Since then, Puerto Rico's 3.4 million American citizens have been plagued with power outages and a dangerous shortage of drinking water. More than a hundred people remain unaccounted for. Animal corpses rot in stagnant water, providing a breeding ground for infection and disease. Over all of it, the shadow of debt looms. The estimated cost of Maria's damage is $95 billion -- almost an entire year's economic output for the island. For many, desperation has taken over. Mehrjou, traveling across the island since last week with more than 20 American Federation of Teachers nurses and health professionals, said the elderly woman who contemplated suicide was rushed to a hospital after the nurses alerted the town's mayor. In a phone interview, Mehrjou said her team also came across a woman trapped on the sixth floor of an assisted living facility. She had not eaten in three days. They met an elderly woman with a gangrenous foot. She was bedridden and dehydrated. Her heart rate was in the 180s. Her family could not get her an ambulance. The nurses met a colon cancer patient who had been unable to receive chemotherapy for three weeks, Mehrjou said. One family lacked the psychiatric drugs needed to control the violent behavior of a 30-year-old relative. So they kept him locked in a hot room. "People are scared," she said. "They're not sure what to do." http://us.cnn.com/2017/10/12/us/puerto-rico-hurricane-maria-three-weeks-update/index.html
  15. US Expats (if you haven't already done so) should consider enrolling in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) What is STEP? The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) is a free service to allow U.S. citizens and nationals traveling and living abroad to enroll their trip with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate Benefits of Enrolling in STEP The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) is a free service to allow U.S. citizens and nationals traveling and living abroad to enroll their trip with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. Receive important information from the Embassy about safety conditions in your destination country, helping you make informed decisions about your travel plans. Help the U.S. Embassy contact you in an emergency, whether natural disaster, civil unrest, or family emergency. Help family and friends get in touch with you in an emergency. https://step.state.gov/
  16. Good Point! Here's one such example: U. S. Embassy London Security Message for U.S. Citizens UK National Security Threat Level Raised to Critical September 15, 2017 The U.S. Embassy in London informs U.S. citizens that the government of the United Kingdom raised its national security threat level to critical on Friday, September 15. A threat level of critical means that an attack is expected imminently. More information about U.K. threat levels is available at the MI5 website. There is no specific information available about the nature of any expected attack. You should review your personal security plans, remain aware of your surroundings, including local events, and monitor local news stations for updates. Be vigilant and take appropriate steps to enhance your personal security. https://uk.usembassy.gov/eml-09152017/
  17. Sorry Old55, I didn't realize that I posted a segment of another member's podcast. I'll refrain from doing so in the future.
  18. Thanks!...I really didn't know that. Maybe it will come to my part of the Philippines very soon?
  19. It looks like Halloween celebrations may be moving slowly but surely to the Philippines?
  20. So many different types of stairs!... each with its own unique challenges! But we Expats are a hearty bunch that can adapt to just about anything over here in the Philippines!
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