I signed up with Blog Explosion about a month ago and this is only my third or fourth post as a BE member. Belonging has greatly increased the amount of traffic I get which I guess is the main idea, but the vast majority of those visitors have been of the thirty seconds and out variety. I've gotten a couple of encouraging comments from a few people who have read my blog and managed to find their way to my webpage, but so far I don't really feel like part of an online community. The most important effect of belonging is that my page has had enough visitors so that it now registers on the search engines and I am starting to get the occasional visit from Google searchers for whom my site may be a bit more relevant. Family history enthusiasts, German genealogy researchers and Civil War history buffs occupy related spheres that are separate but have significant overlaps. Blogging is for me a way to look at some of the overlaps and try to find ways to make those separate spheres interesting to outsiders who are not actively involved in any of them. So far I haven't had a great deal of luck, but as a project I think it's one that will take some time to gain momentum and I suspect it will require some patience and persistence.
A day after last week's post appeared I went to lunch at a local Sbarro's, one of my usual haunts. Usually I dine alone as the Filipinos tend to give expats an amount of personal space rarely extended to other Filipinos. But on this occasion an elderly Filipino saw me eating alone and asked if he could share my table. He told me he was eighty-eight years old. That means he was in his mid-twenties when the Japanese began their invasion a few days after Pearl Harbor. He told me that the Japanese were harsh, but that things were very orderly and people felt safe and secure during the Japanese occupation of the country. This man would have been not yet thirty when MacArthur restored American rule to the Philippines. I've read books about the Battle of Manila, some of which estimate the causalties in my immediate neighborhood at far in excess of 100,000 lives, so I knew enough to be able to ask questions that would trigger a few memories. He was especially impressed by last month's elections in the U.S., marveling that Kerry could concede defeat only one day after a poll decided by only a few hundred thousand votes in southern Ohio. Vote-counting in the Philippines routinely takes a month or more to determine an outcome, even when the exit polls suggest a wide margin of victory. Bush-Gore in 2000 is the kind of post-election politicking Filipinos expect from their elections, but usually with a few more shootings than we're accustomed to seeing.
My seatmate from Hong Kong to Manila, the last leg of my recent 30 hour transit from the mid-Pacific via Auckland on an Airbus owned by Cathay Pacific, was a forty-year-old remodeling contractor from Cincinnatti. He'd never been out of the continental U.S. before, but apparently had struck up a romance with a Filipina on the internet. His fiance' was planning to meet him at the airport. Immigration rules say that marriages arranged over the internet don't include a green card unless an in-person, in-country relationship prior to the marriage can be documented. So he planned to spend a week or two in Manila as the guest of his bride-to-be. He seemed fairly content with the role Cincinnatti played in the outcome of the recent U.S. election.