How overanalyzing pop culture ruins our childhood (some thoughts about Maleficent, Winnie the Pooh and Harry Potter)

While Alex recovers, she stays on a makeshift bed in my home office during the day. I write when she sleeps; we chat when she’s awake and in the mood.

One of those chats triggered memories of a conversation we had last year after seeing Maleficent (yes, the one with Angelina Jolie in the title role). While I loved the film, she declared that it totally ruined her childhood because of the new twist on Maleficent’s character. At the time, I didn’t fully understand what she meant. I thought that the backstory would have a humanizing effect and make Maleficent a more sympathetic character — after all, except for religious bigots who believe in angels and devils, no one is born good or evil.

I wouldn’t appreciate that “ruined her childhood” bit until we saw Terminator Genisys a couple of weeks ago. Then, I understood — obliquely, at least. While Maleficent offered a backstory that previously did not exist, Genisys created a new timeline and made the hero John Connor a villain. The effect is the same — we grow up with characters that we have neatly labeled as heroes, villains, good, evil, friendly, antagonistic, inspiring or fearsome, then a new version comes along that wrecks what we have firmly established as our truths and we are forced to rethink everything from a different perspective. Continue reading →


To the foreigner who wants to retire in the Philippines

The Philippines often gets included in lists of “ideal places to retire.” Among the attractions are the low cost of living and the balmy tropical climate. The Philippines consists of over 7,000 islands and living inexpensively on the coastline of one of them seems like a dream. For nationals of First World countries who grew up and grew old with bitter winters, the thought of life where the lowest temperature is the equivalent of a mild summer day in the Northern hemisphere makes the Philippines seem irresistible.

But, dear soon-to-be-a-retiree, expectations don’t always conform with reality. Continue reading →

Small and white, clean and bright…

A white moth

I can’t remember exactly who it was that told me that moths and butterflies that enter the house are spirits of dead loved ones. Even as a child, I knew it was silly but I repeated the superstition to my own children anyway. Not as something they should take to heart (and they knew that!) but something whimsical — like subconsciously wishing that flowers are fairies that dance in the night (Fantasia) and that unicorns do exist. Continue reading →

Efficient caching: Wordfence’s Falcon Engine or W3 Total Cache?

Confession: I used Hyper Cache for many, many years. It did make my (self-hosted) food blog‘s pages load faster but, unfortunately, it couldn’t keep the server load down.

Sad confession: So, I switched to W3 Total Cache which was recommended by most webhosts. It was also the most highly-downloaded WordPress cache plugin. So much for popularity. I had a love-hate relationship with W3 Total Cache all that time that I had it installed. My food blog‘s pages loaded faster without it. The only reason I retained it was because it kept the server load down.

Proud confession: A few hours ago, I discovered Wordfence which is essentially a security suite BUT with a built-in caching feature called Falcon Engine that can be optionally turned on. I opted to turn Falcon Engine on and my, oh, my. My food blog is loading much faster and the server load is stable.

Goodbye forever, W3 Total Cache. I will not miss you at all. Continue reading →