about the talking fish

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Writer. Wheelman. Occasional DIY mechanic. Walking collection of hang-ups. Hopeless romantic. Old-school. Analog soul in a digital world. I am all of these things and more.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

A lot of things happened on just this one day on our trip to the Enchanted Kingdom amusement park in Santa Rosa, Laguna.

The moment I arrived at the parking area, I got pretty excited that EK was now offering a real karting track there. I guess I got too excited as I managed to lock my car with the keys still in the ignition. Great, of all the times it had to happen, it had to be at 11:30 am in a baking-hot parking lot.

Luckily RG and Tantan were there to commiserate. I was also rather lucky that a driver happened to walk by, his van parked a few spots behind mine. He told us it had happened to him already on his employers' Corolla. I managed to find a bit of thick-gauge wire lying about a few spots away as well, which would be instrumental in getting my keys back.

We spent around 35 minutes figuring out three basic solutions until we decided to bypass the lock altogether. We popped open part of the driver's-side window seal in hopes of hooking the indoor locking mechanism with the hook-shaped wire and getting it to raise and unlock the door. With a bit of patience Manong Driver were able to open it at last.

We offered Manong Driver a doy pack of juice and I was going to give him PhP200 as a token of gratitude. He politely turned it down, telling us maybe we'd meet again and I could do him the favor this time.

Now, although I was grateful to Manong Driver for getting my keys back, I was also aware of the potential risk my car faced, being parked so very close to a guy who just happened to help me pop my door open without a key. The last thing on my mind was getting my keys back but losing my car in the process. Being on the cautious side, I just moved my car away to a parking slot a bit farther from the entrance.

The day at EK started out slow, but went pretty well. I was with Tantan, Edrix, Pam D., Leia, Joseph, Rachel and Kate the whole day. Some rides had ridiculously long waiting times and queues, which themselves sometimes just weren't worth it for entertainment value.

Two notable rides were the Rio Grande Rapids and of course the karting track. We loved the Rio Grande Rapids so much we had to ride the goddamn thing twice. While I managed to avoid getting wet on the first run, I came out thoroughly soaked on the second---down to my buttocks, back and feet. It was fun overall. I just wish I brought an extra change of pants, underwear and some slippers at least. It wasn't fun driving home in soaked pants and wet feet, although it was quite satisfying to perform heel-and-toe with my bare right foot.

Which leads me to the karting bit. That's pretty much the prime reason why I got so excited upon entering EK. I patiently waited in the queue after paying the PhP170 single-seat go-kart rental fee (relatively cheap!) and getting my rented balaclava. I could feel my pulse racing with years' worth of anticipation. Finally, goddamnit, I'm going to get down and dirty driving in a go-kart!

Balaclava and helmet on, I plopped my butt down on a go-kart and headed out into the night. It took me a bit of time getting used to the funny-modulating left-footed brakes and the unassisted steering, but when I did, I began learning the track layout. Those countless hours of playing the Gran Turismo games certainly paid off. In about two laps I had determined a good racing line through the corners, being gentle with the brakes upon entry and with the gas on exit, and brushing the concrete curbing to keep my speed as constant as possible.

The batch I had gone out with had some pretty good karting stalwarts and it was pretty much impossible for me to keep up with them. But for my first time out I think I did very good. The 7-minute rental allotment got me 5 or so laps (I didn't really keep count) and I learned how to overtake slower karts responsibly on the tight little circuit. I had asked one of the stalwarts before our run and he told me 7 minutes would get him 6 laps or so. Had I become more aggressive and used more advanced tactics (like shifting my body weight into turns), perhaps I would have done better.

Now I'm a genuine kart fan. Darn.

Did I mention Tita Vik was also there at EK? I saw her mint-green RAV4 parked outside when I was making my way back to my own car.

The drive home was characterized by a couple stop-overs at gasoline stations looking for a place to eat. I had to leave the guys early though as I didn't want to get berated for not bringing my keys to the gate at home. I was on the SLEX running northbound, enjoying a general air of spirited driving as I kept my speed above 80 km/h for most of the journey, with smooth and predictable legit passes.

I love driving...it's damn obvious isn't it?

Friday, October 22, 2004

It's only now that I realized October's almost finished. Damn.

A lot of things have happened over the past 10 days, some favorable and some not so.

For starters, so far I've sold PhP12,000 of stuff for MARKSAM. Pretty good going in my opinion. All I need is an additional PhP8,000 and I can consider my sales quota completed, and I have a whole month or so to find ways to get that much money in sales.

I haven't done too well in my other activities though---particularly academics. Got a 77 in my second PARTCOR quiz, and I'm pretty sure I flunked my first ECONTRI long exam because I studied the wrong lesson and didn't take the exam seriously. Oh well.

On a positive note we've gotten back to shooting thesis footage again---FINALLY! I've been nagging my thesismates forever to get the initiative to start shooting again, and over last weekend we managed to shoot 6 scenes from the coffee shop and the office. Nice. I'm not quite sure we'll be able to finish shooting AND editing in time for getting Bro. Mike's consent to defend, though. We're keeping our fingers crossed we get this finished in time for the December 10 defense.

I noticed that I missed working with Denise. Other than that though I've kept her strictly as a colleague and no longer as a friend. Good news I guess. This will just make things easier for me.

Maybe moving on isn't so hard to do after all.

Last Wednesday POPS had its second recital, "Spotlight," at the William Shaw Little Theater, and I was assigned to do stage management duties. I was getting quite frantic having to juggle the stands and the frustratingly limited number of microphones---one of which just went up and died mid-show---while trying not to impede with KA and Mark's hosting and basically keeping invisible all the while. The last time I heard, stage management people aren't supposed to be seen, and if they are, they have to get backstage ASAP.

I was sort of berating myself backstage for screwing up and getting in everyone's way, but the other POPS members seem to think that we did a pretty good job despite the lousy tech accommodations.

Managed to buy a copy of "Mobile Suit Gundam: Char's Counterattack," too. Watched it last night. Granted the animation is nowhere near as slick as Gundam Seed, and the political brouhaha of the first hour got a bit boring at times, but it's an okay movie. Kind of open-ended though.

I still think Quess Paraya is nothing more than a stuck-up arrogant childish bitch who should have died in the first 15 minutes. Damn, I want to slap that kid silly in the face if I could.

Pretty much it for the past 10 days. Sigh.

Oh, and have I mentioned our Pajero and Pregio have been sold?

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Got to attend my first-ever HCP officers/BOD meeting at The Fort.

Overall the meeting concerned the coming Fun Run and trackday EB on the 16th, a Saturday. That involved an organized trip to Subic International Raceway, with timed circuit runs in the day and drag races in the late afternoon.

Unfortunately I was pretty much a spectator because I know there was little chance I would be allowed to go to Subic myself, no matter how badly I would like to try my hand at the track on a clean solo run. Besides I don't think the car's up to it. Running 3 laps at the track would be very taxing on the tires, brakes and fuel, and I don't really have the resources to replenish all of those in one go...not yet anyway.

Besides, I have no helmet, so the pit marshals would never let me loose on the track anyway.

Still it was fun having the guys together and discovering for myself how these things got organized. I got a better understanding of how the officers and board of directors acted in setting up events such as these, as all I know of them are from their posts in the administrative forum.

After this experience, I'm pretty proud of being a HCP moderator. I sure wish I could do more for the club, but being a student sort of restricts me in that respect in a lot of ways. I'll definitely find ways of paying back my debt to HCP.

On the way home I passed through Fort Bonifacio's Heritage Park leading out to C5 Road.

There I was, barreling along the highway and overtaking in a legit manner, when on the linkage to the SLEX, my back mirrors were suddenly full of high-beam headlight. I was already on the left lane travelling at 80 km/h, but the light just kept getting brighter. Later on I saw a white Toyota RAV4 whiz by my right flank at high speed, even through the left-hand turn of the off-ramp.

So I went along, merging with the SLEX traffic and finding an opening on the left to overtake the slower trucks that occupied the middle and right lanes. While passing, I had managed to see the Toyota stuck in the right lane, between a smattering of big trailer trucks.

I finished my pass and cleared the left lane, moving to the right lane to prepare for my exit in Bicutan. All of a sudden the light was there again. Peering at my left wing mirror, I was surprised to hear the distinctive wail of a police siren. Sure enough, it came from the still-speeding RAV4 now in the middle lane, trying to scare off a truck that had tried to change lanes.

Slower traffic was popping up in the center lane, so the RAV4 had no choice but to change---to my right lane. The Toyota kept tailgating me dangerously close as I was behind a jeepney myself at 70 km/h. Trying to find a way past me, the driver kept nudging the center lane, but slower cars were always in the way so inevitably the tailgating persisted.

I saw an opening on the center lane about to clear, slowly yet predictably.

Time to teach this asshole a lesson!

When the lane cleared, a tingle of excitement began to set in. From cruising in 5th gear, a flick of the orange turn signal, a blipped downshift snick-snicking to 4th, then 3rd gear, and I powered away with conviction. Never letting go of the throttle, letting the revs rise to 5500 RPM, I accelerated to 110 km/h and returned to my former lane to exit on the E-pass ramp.

The furious RAV4 was caught off-guard. Accelerate as it could, but even its 148 BHP couldn't keep up with a well-timed downshift-and-overtake from my smaller, weaker D15B Honda engine with no VTEC. Legitimate, at that. True, I was driving a little faster than I should, but the maneuver itself had zero fuss, zero hassles, zero danger of ending up in some other car's bodywork.

Even till now I can feel my excited tingling, and my anger toward the asshole that put so many other drivers at risk. Drivers like those of that RAV4 should really be taken off the road---crazy, uncouth, discourteous and just plain brash. They're accidents waiting to happen. Do I also have to mention having a police siren on a private vehicle is a criminal offense?

Saturday, October 09, 2004

I might as well try to advertise what I'm selling here.

I'm selling original lifestyle bags and accessories from JanSport, Timberland, Outdoor Products, Camelbak, SIGG and Nalgene. I'm offering these from now until the end of November.

Here's an online catalog of what I'm selling, complete with prices.

Interested? Please do try to get in touch with me at bluepiranha@gmail.com and shun_sakurai@yahoo.com.

While I was composing an email last night I was surprised to see the monitor swaying from side to side. I felt a weird sensation in my gut as it seemed I was moving when I was trying to hold myself still in my chair.

Then I realized that there was an earthquake going on.

The shaking went on for a good 20 seconds before finally subsiding. My mom remarked it was probably an intensity 6 quake; I thought it was around 4 or 5. Up till I finally slept at around 2:30 am I still had butterflies in my stomach from the quake.

Monday, October 04, 2004

In this edition of "System-Shock!":

  • I now have another Gundam model.

  • I say goodbye to a dear old friend.

  • I watch and comment on another film most of you might not see...

  • And more thesis headaches!

  • Don't miss any of the gritty details! Stay tuned...

    Well, I finally mustered enough stupidity to buy myself another model kit. Yep, I did buy the 1/144 HG Aile Strike Gundam model.

    It took considerably less time to assemble than the Aegis; it was finished in 2-1/2 hours. However I am amazed at just how poseable this thing is. Compared to the Aegis, which has considerable trouble just standing in one place and staying in one piece, the HG Strike is, well, very good.

    It has to be said that my Aegis model now has some problems. It doesn't help that the mobile suit is tail-heavy to begin with. Some of the pieces have given way from the stresses of transforming from MS to MA mode and back, and I've had to super glue them into place again. The thing with cyanoacrylate super glue is that most of the time it ends up exactly where you don't want it---in my case, mostly on my fingers. Thank God it didn't end up anywhere near my eyes...

    Rummaging around on PEX, I came across their Gundam modellers thread, which had a small community of serious model makers who didn't mind shelling out thousands of pesos on their hobby, including the cost of modeller's putty, paints, fine sandpaper and lots and lots of super glue. These guys bought MG (Master Grade) and PG (Perfect Grade) kits and entered them into competitions by super-gluing them into dioramas.

    Damn. I don't even have the balls or the budget to get myself an MG kit. I've had to satisfy myself with HG (High Grade) kits only.

    In other news...

    The household is now one car short. After months of looking, my mom finally lucked out finding a buyer for our 1998 Kia Pregio GS 2.7. What surprised me is that the buyer accepted the price without haggling---PhP290,000.

    I'm going to miss that great white whale. Sure it wasn't quick, but it was fairly gutsy enough for the uphill trek to Baguio, and one could hustle it to 120 km/h. The finicky aircon and the malfunctioning fuel gauge were the only sore spots on the whole car.

    My dad walked up to me yesterday and handed me a DVD of "Zatoichi." He said he borrowed it from Tita Vik and I might want to watch it, which I did later that night.

    If you guys remember "Takeshi's Castle," you probably don't know that Takeshi Kitano, the show's head honcho, is actually a movie director. And yes, he directed, wrote, starred in and edited "Zatoichi" which seems like a remake from what I could tell from the sleeve notes.

    Best to describe this movie as an 18th-century version of "Daredevil" (as Zatoichi himself is a blind masseuse with a mean katana hidden in his red cane). Only this one has action sequences that make "Kill Bill" look tame, a simple yet delectably twisty plot and a hearty dash of comedy that brings some notes of "GTO's" silliness to mind. Oh, I should mention there's a mean tap-dance segment too.

    If you can stomach the violence of "Battle Royale" (which Kitano directed too), you'll like "Zatoichi." Pretty much an all-around good film. No faults anywhere, at least in my opinion. It'll leave you with a smile on your face, I promise.

    Just when I was getting ready to work with some people I don't really want to work with anymore (i.e. my thesismates), Denise tells me over the phone that our lead actress ran away from home and is nowhere to be found.

    That's just fucking dandy.

    We're already pressed for time on this thesis thing, nobody seems to be interested in seeing it to completion and when some initiative finally develops among my thesismates, shit happens.

    This early on I can see myself taking PROJCO2 again next term. To hell with the failure accumulation. I want to finish this.

    MARKSAM has restarted, if you haven't known by now, and the quota's still set at PhP20,000. So far I've sold only AVON products to an admittedly limited clientele, and for my first sales report I am not too proud to say I mustered PhP3,000 in sales.

    Yikes. :(