about the talking fish

My photo
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.

Sunday, December 31, 2006

2006 in memoriam

Dear 2006,
Before I drop you into your waiting casket and ditch, let me get the bad news out of the way first: You were a horrible year for driving. I don’t remember having gotten into this many fender-benders in my six years on the road. Truly terrible.

The personalities on the Internet you sent me were none better either. 95% of them had minds closed tighter than rotten pistachioes. To add insult to injury, you even had to take away two of my friends—arguably prematurely.

Fortunately that’s all the bad news I can remember about you. You gave me a renewed interest in novels and music; doused my pointless desire for the chunks of plastic I call “model kits;” returned the best fuel economy I’ve ever had; helped me lose weight and keep fit; finally broke my frustrations as a performer; and landed me a decent job with great co-workers. I have much to thank you for.

You were a kick-ass year. Could you please tell your son 2007 I’m looking forward to a much better time with him?

Raiding Blogthings.com on a whim

DISCLAIMER: Believe the following at your own risk.

How You Life Your Life

You seem to be straight forward, but you keep a lot inside.
You're laid back and chill, but sometimes you care too much about what others think.
You prefer a variety of friends and tend to change friends quickly.
You tend to dream big, but you worry that your dreams aren't attainable.

Your Birthdate: February 11

You may watch someone from afar before you finally decide to make your move.
It takes a long time for you to develop an attraction to someone.
Generally, you prefer to pick who you love. Anyone who tries to rush you is in for some heartache.

Number of True Loves You'll Have: 1

Number of Times You'll Have Your Heart Broken: 1

You are most compatible with people born on the 2nd, 11th, 20th, and 29th of the month.

You Are A Fun Friend

You're the one who keeps your group laughing
And you've always got an idea for something fun to do
The party's not complete without you
And you wouldn't miss it for the world

Your Body Image is 12% Unhealthy, 88% Healthy

You have a great body image. You know that no one looks perfect, and you're happy the way you are.
Also, you don't judge other people on their looks... and it helps them feel better about their own bodies!

You are 73% Aquarius

You Are 60% Grown Up, 40% Kid

You've grown up a good bit, but you still have a way to go before you're emotionally mature.
You have the skills to control your emotions, you just have to use them.

Your Weight is Ideal

Your BMI is 24.6 - a healthy BMI falls between 18.5 and 25

Congratulations, you are the perfect weight for your height.
Even though you may not be entirely happy with your weight, you are healthy.
So gain or lose a few pounds if you want, but don't go too crazy!

Don't agree? Blame the government standards we based this test on!

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Rizal Day may have become Saddam Hussein Day...

For the benefit of the non-Filipino folks reading this blog, December 30 is a national holiday in the Philippines due to the celebration of the heroism of Dr. Jose Rizal, national hero. Rizal is a noted pacifist, opposing armed struggle against the Spaniards and exhausting all diplomatic means before conceding to radical measures. Why December 30? This was the day when he was executed by firing squad in 1896.

It is with mild irony, therefore, that a murderous dictator such as Iraq's Saddam Hussein may be given the same national holiday as Rizal's, by dint of his execution by hanging at 6:05 a.m. Baghdad time 210 years later.

I don't see it happening, as will most people, but it makes for irony all the same.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Withdrawal symptoms

2006 for me will be characterized as the year when I practically shunned participating in online forum websites. Some of them are just too slow and heavy on my humble connection to access. I quit one forum (Honda Club of the Philippines) because I felt it was the correct thing to do. Others I've pretty much outgrown, such as Otakuboard, a.k.a. Otaku Fridge. And then, there are others whose "culture" have simply become too much for me to stand.

Once upon a time I thought the Internet was a fantastic place for meeting new people. I've learned my lesson. For someone as reclusive and unsocial as I am, I would rather meet new people offline at this point in time.

And for those fora that drove me away...it's your loss, not mine. I will take my contributions with me and I expressly forbid you to re-post them.

I've been a moderator as well as a participant in fora, and from my experience there are a few lessons to be learned here, people.

  • Praise in public, discipline in private. This is the stuff of countless leadership books.
  • Never belittle your members; you never know what contribution they can give...and take away.
  • Exercise consistency in enforcing the forum rules. Admins and mods should not single out certain people repeatedly, nor should they be continual or intermittent in enforcement.
  • Study why people come into and leave from your forum.
  • RELAX. It's a place where people are supposed to meet, not where you practice how a power-tripping gestapo policeman should act.
  • Monday, December 25, 2006

    Merry Christmas, 2006

    I refuse to go into the usual meaningless babble being passed around in cards and text messages, since I believe the value of Christmas has been degraded by our greed and fixation on material things. For my Christmas message, I look to a suitable source: Bukas Palad's CD "Pasko Na!"

    Ako'y nagtataka sa Paskong kay lamig
    Doon pa nadama init ng pag-ibig
    Sa sanggol at ina puso'y huwag isara
    At sa bawat isa, puso mo'y buksan na

    Pasko na, Pasko na
    Tayo'y magkaisa
    Magsama sa saya ng sanggol at ina!

    Ako'y nagagalak sa sabsabang payak
    Doon pa nadama dangal ng Haring Anak
    Sa sanggol at ina puso'y huwag isara
    At sa bawat isa puso mo'y buksan na

    Pasko na, Pasko na
    Tayo'y magkaisa
    Magsama sa saya ng sanggol at ina!

    - Bukas Palad, "Pasko Na!" (1987/1999)

    I greet all those who read this blog a Merry Christmas.

    Sunday, December 24, 2006

    24 people I'd like to thank

  • Chris Gabriel and Eca Balagso, for teaching me the value of my life and the lives of those I consider my friends. May God rest your souls.

  • The Cybergate First Friday Mass Choir, especially to Agnes Gorrieza and Tony Derramas Jr., for providing me a constructive release when work gets to my nerves and teaching me to become a better singer.

  • The Philippine Air Force Badminton Club regulars, for keeping me engaged in my four months of bumhood.

  • Chris Guanche of MAHQ.net, for publishing my mecha reviews.

  • The Sun Valley Music Ministry, for the company and the nights out.

  • Edith Cao-Agosto, SVMM choirmaster, for being patient with teaching me the songs and recording the notes I need to practice.

  • Aileen Apolo, for relating with me so well. Let's go to Ruins again sometime!

  • Accenture, for hiring me and assigning me to the best project and team, ever. I doubt I have a long future in IT, but so far so good.

  • Barclays' Virtual Channels team, for the memories, camaraderie, and making my transition from college to work practically seamless. I do NOT want to get rolled-off.

  • Paolo Jaucian, for being my resident "big brother" at Barclays since day one.

  • Dionie Lim, for making me realize how people with a similar temperament as I do don't have to be doomed to it. I'm sorry for the times I was overly critical of you.

  • Mark Molina, for making me sing my heart out in front of my coworkers and popping my stage fright cherry. And for all the jamming sessions. Music is our medicine.

  • My college blockmates, LC24, for making all efforts to stay together despite conflicting schedules and diaspora.

  • Paolo Cruz and Gracey Dacumos, for being my patient badminton doubles partners and putting up with me.

  • Flo Hernando, for teaching me SP and all the support.

  • Mel Mejia, for her own way of rebuking me when I do things out of process. And for the free food.

  • Anton Guidotti Jr., for the crazy stories, the laughs, the approachability, the tips, the nitpicking/criticism of my work, and the lovely CDs.

  • The Itchyworms, for a stellar CD. "Noon Time Show" rules.

  • Urbandub, for consistently breaking the mold and delivering rock music that defies the local/foreign divide.

  • Haruki Murakami, for the novels that are equal parts fulfilling, disappointing, erotic, enlightening and interesting.

  • Bill Dare. You, sir, make British comedy proud.

  • My dad, for the new watch and having enough trust in me to come home at the time I say so. Now how about a key for the front door?

  • My mom, for the new monitor (hurrah!) and all the sumptuous food you cook.

  • The Lord Jesus Christ, for every day I live, and every chance I have to try and make you proud.
  • Friday, December 22, 2006

    22 questions I'd like answers to this Christmas

    Why do most of the girls I find attractive just so inconveniently happen to be smokers?

    Is it really true that nice guys finish last?

    Am I really as immature as I am led to believe?

    Why do I have to suffer the nasty repercussions of developing a spine and asserting myself, when everyone else gets away with cheating and highway robbery?

    Why does it seem that people have largely forgotten the “Christ” in “Christmas?”

    Why is Gunpla and mecha modelmaking still attractive to me despite the ridiculous costs?

    Why on earth did it take me 22 years to realize my frustrations/dreams of being a performer? That was simply too long.

    What was the point of me attending seventh grade, other than delaying me by a year?

    What is it with bars that is so attractive to people of my generation? You go to these cramped, smoky, noisy places to hang out and get smashed, which makes you a easier target for kidnappers or thieves…not exactly a safe state to be in Metro Manila streets at 3 am.

    Am I really just a born misfit, a square peg trying in vain to fit in all manner of round holes?

    Why do we lie to kids, always telling them in fairy tales that there’s a “happily ever after” when we adults know damn well there isn’t?

    I’m supposed to be recovered from my flu from last month, so why am I still sweating bullets and feeling weak from time to time?

    Why can’t ex-lovers become good friends?

    Why can’t good friends become lovers?

    Given the Suzuki Swift has good looks, why did Suzuki give the local version a squishy suspension and an automatic gearbox?

    Is there really no such thing as a badly built car any more?

    Why is the Sony PlayStation 3 so fucking expensive? At current prices, you can buy three used Toyota 4A-GE engines for the price of one PS3…

    With Blogger’s Google-powered upgrade, does this mean their Blogger for Word add-on won’t work anymore?

    Why did we ever have to develop egos?

    When should I get married and have kids?

    Why am I a born insomniac?

    Why do you read my blog? What keeps you going back here? I’d really like to know what goes on in the heads of my handful of readers whenever they visit this place.

    Sunday, December 17, 2006

    Because I can't get enough of my college pals...

    ...We had a night out at Gerry's Grill Makati. Basically we missed each other silly, and Chris' recent passing had reminded us that we should be grabbing each and every opportunity to be together because it may well be our last.

    Photos are here, courtesy of my brand-new Multiply account. Enjoy!

    Saturday, December 16, 2006

    Christmas + Murphy's Law = December 15 2006

    Apparently everyone conspired to have their Christmas parties on December 15, 2006. It just so happened to conveniently coincide with a number of things—payday, Christmas, its nature as a Friday.

    Where the fuck is everyone going at this hour? I thought, the moment I came in at 9 a.m., wondering how on earth the cubicles could be empty when we were supposed to finish our shifts in time for the party later that night. Hell, the list of frustrations mentioned above included an almost irrational morning rush to the seventh floor of Cybergate just to claim gift checks, which tied up the already-challenged elevators for a good FOUR HOURS.

    Truth be told, December 15 was not a day to feel all Christmassy. It was one of those days you should bitch about because Murphy’s Law (“whatever can go wrong, will do so”) was in full effect.

    There were notable exceptions to the Law, though.

    After practicing for almost a week now, the Cybergate Choir successfully had its first caroling performance at one of the other Accenture projects at lunch time. It was well worth the effort that Tony, Agnes, Faye, Grace B., Jong, Gae, I and the others put in in terms of rehearsal. We could be a little more polished here and there, but overall it was a wonderful first effort and I’m proud of all of them. Next week we’ll be busy with more caroling performances, all for the benefit of the Albay typhoon/mudslide victims.

    The BDCN Christmas party wasn’t all too shabby either. Our team swept the awards for the presentation (no doubt thanks to Paolo Jaucian’s “Darna” effort), and everyone seemed to have a great time. I’m not as well-informed about the after-party though as I successfully confirmed that cramped, smoky bars are just not my thing.

    Sadly, Murphy’s Law reared its ugly head yet again. When I ended my evening by driving home at 11:30pm, Meralco Ave. and Ortigas Ave. were tied up, I suspect, with the scores of other people with cars who so conveniently had their Christmas parties at the same date, as I mentioned earlier. C5 was situation normal, crazy pedestrians and all, but the real surprise came when I merged from C5 to the SLEX. Good Lord, the traffic was as if it wasn’t midnight but 8pm—it was that bad.

    Murphy’s Law, indeed.

    Monday, December 04, 2006

    "I can't promise that"

    Just before turning in for the night, my friend Trish buzzed me on YM. It had been a while since we last spoke or met. She said she came from Chris’ wake, and from her tone I would say she took it pretty bad. She and Chris were from the same batch in high school and knew each other quite well.

    Her friend Vida texted her about what her friends knew of Chris’ accident. He had been driving along the Alabang overpass at 1:30 am and for some reason knocked one of the lampposts, ending up on the wrong side of the road. Not the type who would call home, his parents knew about it when they drove at the exact same road at 5:30 am going to Greenhills, bewildered that their car was being towed. The doctors operated on him to remove the clot from his head, but he never regained consciousness.

    The infuriating thing about this is, some asshole had the gall to steal Chris’ belongings while he was dying. That’s just so wrong.

    Trish was feeling particularly morbid that night and I told her I wanted to see her again in the future, even when we were both fat and wrinkly. She said she couldn’t promise that, which is true I suppose.

    Death is a chilling concept, and personally I’m afraid of it. There’s no point running away from it, though, because we’re all doomed to die sooner or later. When it’s your time, it’s your time. Instead of being afraid of death, I feel I might as well embrace all the opportunities I have with my friends while we’re both here.

    I’ve lost three friends to death in the last three years. I don’t want to sit idly by and regret not having spent more time with the ones I can still get in touch with.

    Saturday, December 02, 2006

    In memoriam: Chris Gabriel, 1985-2006

    Last week I was unlucky enough to succumb to what seems like a fashionable disease these days: the common cold. Coupled with my hyperactive brain’s reluctance to go to sleep at night, the cold went into overdrive and became a full-blown flu. As such I had to take my first couple days of sick leave.

    I’m feeling a lot better now, but I know I’m not completely out of the woods yet. Although I’ll be able to work next week, I can still feel my head complaining a little. All this meant I had to miss out on the badminton tournament Paolo Cruz and I registered for.

    Still, this doesn’t compare to what a friend of mine had. Bianca informed me this morning that my high school and college friend Chris Gabriel died today from a car accident, which is pretty grave news.

    Chris was a wonderful, jolly fellow. He’s one of the hardest-working souls I’ve ever met. Even though he was always chasing deadlines in the time I was with him he never seemed flustered or pressured. He was always like that, ever since my days in Counterpoint back in high school. It’s really such a shame that he died so young. I’m not sure if he even got employed already.

    Rest in peace, Chris. You will be missed dearly, I am sure.

    Thursday, November 23, 2006

    At long last

    We finally have a new monitor! Hurrah!

    I was looking around for CRT monitors because I still wasn’t convinced that the ever-cheapening LCD variety would serve our home computer well. PC Magazine Philippines wrote in their “Monitors LCD vs. CRT” piece last year that LCD monitors don’t work very well outside their “native resolution,” or the actual count of the pixels of the display. That means games and video playback tend to suffer from “ghosting.” It doesn’t help that response times at 8-16ms aren’t as instantaneous as CRTs. Besides, the price is still rather high in my view. I could get a decent 15” CRT for PhP5,000.

    My parents thought differently though: since this is effectively an upgrade, we might as well trade up to the best we could afford. So they were all sold on the merits of LCD monitors, such as the low power consumption and the space savings.

    When I got home two days ago with the CD-Rs my dad wanted, he casually asked me “Have you seen the new monitor?” I was surprised.

    Sitting on the desk was a silver-bezel Samsung SyncMaster 940BW monitor: a 19” LCD beast of a monitor. The thing’s got an aspect ratio of 16:10, significantly wider than the 4:3 of usual monitors. But it was still an LCD and I had my doubts. This called for some testing.

    I booted up my games and played a few minutes of “Turn-A Gundam,” both at full screen and at various resolutions. Not bad! There was barely any shimmer or ghosting, and it wasn’t enough to be an annoyance. I found out from the promotional decal of the monitor that it sported a fast response time of 4ms from gray to gray. If anything, the Samsung is ridiculously bright.

    In my spare time I researched the Samsung 940BW online. My parents made a very good choice, it seems. It’s reportedly one of the best monitors around at this price range (PhP14,000). Although it’s not ideal for graphics work and Photoshop, it’ll cover home PC duties very well, or so the reviews say.

    What can I say...I’m actually pleased I was wrong.

    The monitor had an unexpected extra with it. My folks threw in a new keyboard, the A4Tech kL-5. This thing has no numeric keypad, which saves space, but seems to jam all the keys in a small footprint, which means the auxiliary keys I’ve learned to use on a full-size keyboard are in new places I’m not so familar with. It’s also a quiet unit which purportedly reduces RSI (repetitive strain injury), but I’ve never been a fan of shallow laptop keyboards, which this one feels like.

    Oh well. At least it matches the monitor.

    Friday, November 10, 2006

    Ate Edith's birthday

    Ate Edith had me and the SVMM people over at her place for her birthday. Let me rave about her spaghetti: despite being a sweet blend (the kind I usually don’t like), she put in two whole heads of garlic, Italian seasoning, mushrooms and red bell peppers for great effect. Very delicious.

    It’s been a while since the choir met like this and I was simply drinking up the noise and the laughter from my friends. One month more and I can safely say I’ve spent one year with SVMM. It hasn’t been without its down moments, and I do have questions about the commitment of some of my choir mates, but overall I’m glad I’m part of it.

    Another impending farewell

    My blog started five years ago with news of our old AE101 Corolla 1.6 being prepped for sale. Now it’s the City’s turn.

    There’s still a lot to be done before it can be sold, such as dent repair and repainting, which means a sale isn’t as imminent as it may seem. I’m still reluctant to let it go, though. It’s easily the most frugal vehicle in our stable (I’m still achieving a consistent 10-11+ km/L), the easiest to park and maneuver, the lightest and arguably the most enjoyable to drive.

    We’ll be hunting for another second-hand vehicle as a replacement. With my mom’s bias for Toyotas though, I’m afraid I’ll be saying goodbye to all of the things I liked about my car, as I’ve never really enjoyed driving her ZZE121 Corolla Altis, either because of its “driving on stilts” responses or its atrocious driving position.

    I’m still waiting for that Honda Jazz 1.5V to come my way. Whichever transmission, I already know from my test drives that I’ll appreciate it a lot.

    Too good to give away...

    I was in Alabang Town Center last weekend to shop for some Christmas presents. Why don’t I look for the shoes to gift my trainer with? I figured. While I had intended to get him a good pair, I’m not about to break my wallet on shoes—most especially shoes as gifts. So I kept a strict limit on budget.

    I passed through the typical stores: Nike, Adidas, The Athlete’s Foot. My general qualm was their merchandise was just too expensive, and not all of it was particularly fetching either. I did get my mom’s present at Nike though. As a final stop, I went into Olympic World.

    The shoes on display were a surprise. The moment I laid my eyes on Mizuno’s Incision futsal sneakers, I was instantly drawn. It looked like no other shoe I’ve seen: it was black on the outside edge, silver on the inner edge, and red at the heel. (I know the photo I posted doesn't match my description.) It’s a fusion of Nike’s Total 90 futsal/football shoe, with its shine, offset laces and extended tongue, and their expensive-but-suave Nike Free 7.0 Trainer, with its split-colored upper. Unlike the Trainer, the Incision cost about half of its PhP4,400, and you can have it with outdoor-use molded cleats for just PhP100 more.

    Right there and then I had second thoughts: it looks and costs too damn good to be given away. When I showed up in church wearing them the next day, Jajah couldn’t have enough of them. Aileen told me I should keep them.

    Besides, she said, in this day and age, giving away new shoes to a relative stranger can bring about negative implications about my sexuality, no matter how good the intentions. Now I don’t really know about this: I’ve kept the Mizuno Incisions for myself, but I still plan to buy the guy a pair of cheap-but-good sneakers as a present.

    I guess I was too carried away by the looks to fit the Mizunos properly. Looking back, the ones I got are a tad cramped at the toes; I should have opted for the 9.5 size. However, I’ve used them for a few badminton games, a taebo routine and jogging on a treadmill and they’re pretty good so far. Jogging with them was surprisingly comfortable. Mizuno’s reputation as an underrated but excellent athletic shoe is confirmed, and they can definitely add “stylish” to their CV now too with the Incision series.

    Friday, November 03, 2006

    Tales from the crypt

    All Saints’ Day started ominously enough with a column by Andre Palma on the Inquirer: Ultimately this day is one of remembering. While Palma chose to remember the cars he drove growing up, I chose to remember something else.

    I tagged along with my dad to Baliwag on our annual visit to the family grave. Of the five or six names there, the only tomb I’m familar with is of my grandfather’s, who died in 1992. I was all but nine years old then, and we weren’t exactly what you could call close. I hardly knew the guy. All I really knew was that he was a doctor and he was born in 1919.

    At my dad’s ancestral home in Baliwag, with the de Leon clan at the dining table, we were talking about my granddad for what seemed like the first time ever. Well, perhaps not, but it’s the first time I remember hearing anything more about him that I didn’t already know.

    It was a surprise learning that he never intended to become a doctor; he simply took the course because his parents wanted him to. What he really wanted to become was an engineer. That didn’t stop him from placing within the top ten of the board exams, though. It seems he didn’t practice medicine; the ancestral home has obvious traces of being a pharmacy once. Tita Vik said that once in a while, he’d observe structures and buildings and comment on how they could be made better. Whenever he did that, he was in a world of his own.

    A little segue here: My cousin Carlo is currently in his third year of high school in La Salle Greenhills, and he was asking me about college, entrance exams and my experiences at work. (Good lord, he’s already much taller than I am at 5’10”.) He says his forte for now is geometry, while chemistry is something he could be better at.

    When I asked him about what he was planning to take up in college, he didn’t pick any particular course—all he said was he wanted to extend his grasp of geometry, and a BS Math degree is out of the question. When I told him he might have a future as an engineer, his eyes lit up in agreement. After hearing my granddad’s story, he remarked the will to be an engineer might have been passed down to him.

    It was a day of remembering, all right. I’m very thankful for it.

    Normally, the North Luzon Expressway is transformed into a crawling parking lot on holidays like All Saints’ Day and the end of Holy Week. So you can imagine my surprise when on the way home, the traffic stayed in the Cagayan Valley road leading to the towns and cities of Baliwag, none of it leaking into the NLEX.

    Using the NLEX is expensive: even with a claimed lower cost per kilometer than the SLEX I’m all too familiar with, the stops up north are spaced much farther apart. However you can really see where the expense goes on the NLEX. The asphalt is smooth, the four lanes are wide enough for Americans to be comfortable with, and the traffic jam I was expecting to get stuck in was nowhere to be found along its length. With Pinoys being Pinoys, there are still idiots who don’t know what a passing lane is, but even so it’s surprisingly manageable. There’s even an electronic toll payment system called the EC-tag, mimicking the more popular E-pass of the SLEX.

    All I can say is...wow. If this is the price of progress, I’ll gladly pay. Just don’t count on me making frequent trips to Bulacan or Baguio all by my lonesome.

    In the halcyon days of high school I used to buy the US edition of PC Magazine—it was still relatively cheap at PhP150 or so. This was one of the expenses I had growing up that, in hindsight, was ultimately utterly pointless. I was too poor (or rather not willing) to spend on the latest processors, CD-ROM drives and graphics cards, although being the gullible geek I was at the time I was amazed just reading about them and what they could do.

    My old prof Gary Mariano had a point: He buys computer magazines only when he’s looking for upgrades to his computer or shopping for a new one. After that, he ignores them completely. The point is simple enough: Everything in a computer magazine is intended to make you feel like your system is obsolete.

    Over time, the peso weakened and the US version of PC Magazine became hideously expensive. So not long ago, PC Magazine Philippines was born, published by Hinge Inquirer Publications (also known, rather arrogantly, as “hip”). It sells for PhP100 and is considerably cheaper and thinner than the ad-packed US version. You already know about how I’m looking for a new monitor, so I decided to buy the recent issue.

    I wasn’t prepared for the irony that awaited me. Art Ilano’s column “Next Wave” had a piece called “An Embarrassment of Storage Space,” and it talked about the pointlessness of Blu-ray and HD-DVD, the much-ballyhooed optical media of the near future. “Blu-ray and HD-DVD are coming,” he says. “Now just what are we going to do with them?” Unlike the migration from CD-ROM to DVD, where DVD movies brought extra features, Ilano says there’s no compelling reason to move up to these new disks with huge capacities.

    I am amazed. Here’s a guy who writes for a magazine that is determined to make me part with my money in the endless pursuit of better computing and avoidance of obsolescence. But here he was, preaching a different gospel—a gospel of the pointlessness of some of the technology we are influenced to buy.

    Color me impressed.

    Tuesday, October 31, 2006

    The sweetest illusions are the ones everyone believes

    Ever since I started logging on to Friendster again I’ve been getting testimonials from my colleagues. Nothing new, yeah, but I’m flattered with what most of them have been saying.  The gist of it is, they say I’m optimistic and confident about myself.

    I’m flattered, primarily because I never thought of myself as confident and optimistic. I’m a pessimist by nature; I tend to assume the worst case scenario in most things and I panic easily. And by Jove, I am not a confident person. People who know me a long time know I’m actually very shy and introverted. It’s not always easy for me to be loose and outgoing, so most of the time I find it easier to act nonchalant and aloof to other people to hide my shyness.

    People say that sex appeal is 50% what you’ve got and 50% what other people think you’ve got. They say that the trick is to make people think that you have sexiness long enough, and before you know it, the feedback comes to you and you yourself will think you’re sexy as well.

    It sounds like a nice idea, but when you cut it down to the essentials it’s actually the sweetest illusion. It’s the little lie that comes around and goes around...until it comes back to you and becomes truth.

    How much easier it would be if we didn’t have to trick others and ourselves like this. But then again this doesn’t seem so bad. Don’t get me wrong; I appreciate all these good comments and I guess this means I’ve changed a lot for the better since my regrettable childhood.

    If people think I’m confident and optimistic then so be it. They will see me as such until I mess up their perceptions.

    Still, one thing is for certain: I absolutely love to perform. I love to sing, dance and make other people happy and entertained. I am a frustrated performer no more.

    My current project at work is a tedious one and I was getting tired of it. So when I got an invitation over email about the choir rehearsal for the First Friday mass I jumped at the opportunity: I worked straight through lunch and finished my stuff so I could be out by 6pm.

    You know what? Before the rehearsal I didn’t feel alive today. My choir mates—all Accenture people, from different projects—are a swell bunch who know how to let loose and have fun. My day felt complete when we played around with our songs while rehearsing them, trying to make them better or more entertaining.

    Ever since the battle of the bands last summer I’ve been bugging my teammates on a few occasions about going back to Audiophile, reserving their studio for a couple hours to sing and play our tensions and frustrations away. So far it hasn’t happened yet, but I’m still hoping for a convenient chance.

    No music, no life.

    Santa's been kind to me lately

    Recently I’ve been getting the stuff on my Christmas list one by one.

    A couple of weeks ago, my dad got ahead of me and bought a Sony external DVD writer. Well, it’s actually an internal drive hooked up to an external chassis meant to house a 5.25” hard disk, but for all intents and purposes it’s an external DVD writer. It’s proving a welcome addition to our computing at home. We can finally burn our own CDs and watch all those stubborn DVDs that don’t want to work on our standalone DVD player.

    Around the same time I bought some computer goodies myself. After asking around and looking everywhere for a PC gamepad, I was happy to realize I only had to climb up one more floor on Festival Mall to get it. It’s a nice blue Logitech Precision Gamepad, shaped in the style of the classic PlayStation gamepad, and surprisingly cheap relative to their feature-packed and ridiculously expensive mice. Hey, given all this I might as well go buy a reputable brand if it’s not going to cost me an arm and a leg.

    My Panasonic headphones were constantly giving my ears pain due to the hanging design, so I splurged on a nice pair of TDK neckphones instead. They’re not the DJ-style headphones I was hankering for, but they’re a nice substitute. They didn’t cost me an arm and a leg either.

    I got both these goodies from Octagon. They really do live up to the moniker of being the computer superstore, simply by dint of carrying the only assortment of PC gamepads I know. Next up on my list is a new monitor (it’s about goddamn time), and I’ll have to save a little harder for one.

    Sadly, there’s no news on the Jazz VTEC I wanted. Aheheheh. You can’t have them all I guess.

    The same day I bought my first set of anime DVDs in what seems like years. I went all-out this time, buying the complete set of “After War Gundam X,” “Mobile Suit Gundam 0080: War in the Pocket,” a sadly malfunctioning copy of “Mobile Suit Gundam F91” and “Leatherman.”

    “Leatherman” was the only regrettable purchase. Really, I’ve seen better hentai.

    “War in the Pocket” is definitively the un-Gundam. There is very little emphasis on the Earth Federation and Principality of Zeon; instead we see how the war affects innocent civilians, particularly the children who think war is a big cool game. It’s a short 6-episode series, but it shames many of the long-winded Gundam TV series because of the poignant theme and brilliant execution.

    Finally, “Gundam X” is not the black sheep of the franchise simply because of being cut by 10 episodes. If anything, it’s night-and-day-and-most-of-the-following-evening better than the popular but disappointingly brainless “Gundam SEED DESTINY.” There are no loose ends in the plot, the premise of the post-apocalyptic story is interesting, the action almost never stops, and everything else just contributes to a solid anime series. That it strongly roots itself with many concepts and parallels from the Universal Century saga is icing on a very fulfilling cake.

    Color me jaded but I think I’ve finally outgrown Gunpla.

    There are a few model kits that still tickle my buying fancy, such as the just-released transforming 1/100 Saviour Gundam, the old MG Gundam GP01 “Zephyranthes,” the MG RX-78-2 Gundam “One Year War” version, the MG Nemo and the MG God Gundam. Overall though, I’m not as ardent a collector as I once was. I now see them for what they are: they’re essentially expensive toys that break too easily and lose their posability over time, especially because I haven’t gotten around to painting any of them.

    There are some gems in the lineup though. My last kit, the MG Rick Dias, is a masterpiece of engineering and stability. The MG Wing Gundam ver.Ka I bought for my birthday last year is also one of the best models I have, surprisingly stable and forgiving for a transforming robot. Finally, there’s nothing more that can be said of the MG Zaku II F2, the best kit of the classic Zeon grunt mecha.

    New MGs are generally disappointing though. I am not a fan of the new ball-jointed fingers on the hands because they aren’t any good at holding anything by themselves. The greater concentration of ABS used means that when something breaks, it’s broken for good—no more repairs via traditional plastic cement.

    Besides, Bandai isn’t probably too keen on making some of my favorite mecha designs into kits because they’re from a forgotten era (read as “unprofitable”). If Bandai ever decides to make an awesome 1/100 kit of the RMSN-008 Bertigo from “Gundam X” I’ll be the first in line.

    Saturday, October 14, 2006

    Just some stuff I'd do for now if I had the money...

    On Thursdays I’m usually at my office building by 7am due to color-coding. As my work starts at 9am, I burn the time by hitting the gym.

    My tae-bo instructor came in when I was on the treadmill this week. I didn’t recognize him at first because of the fisherman’s hat, but waved him hello at second glance. We were casual acquaintances; I don’t know him that well outside of the weekly workout. Just as I was finishing with the treadmill I saw him walk outside with a bottle of “rugby” contact cement and his shoes. Apparently he was trying to mend something on them, probably the soles.

    That’s when it hit me. Why don’t I give him a new pair of shoes as a gift this Christmas? I would have wasted the money otherwise, probably on a model kit that’s worth 7-14 hours of manual labor. In my typical idealist fashion, I thought maybe this was the start of my giving a gift to someone I hardly know every year. Who knows?

    After dressing up for work, I wanted to ask him about his shoe size, but he was busy attending to someone else. Oh well. Maybe next time.

    Frankly I’m convinced my eyes are telling me I need a new monitor for my computer. I’ve tried swapping our old and not-so-old monitors around and both have problems.

    Both exhibit color “bloom” from what are supposed to be clearly delineated objects. Both also have annoying color shifts. While doing my stuff on them I will suddenly see everything tinged a shade of pink (forgivable), yellow (too bright and hard on the eyes), blue and deep red (unacceptable), and I try (usually in vain) to smack the monitor on its top to get it back to proper color.

    While I’m at it I might as well up the size to 15” or 17” if money permits, and throw in a decent AGP graphics card.

    If money permits.

    Sigh. I never have enough.

    Two weeks after the event, the mess that typhoon “Milenyo” left on our front yard is gone. The branches and leaves strewn across the church parking lot and streets have now been relocated to the sides or swept away.

    I wish I could say it was the same situation everywhere.

    You need not look further than Edsa to see that it wasn’t. Yesterday morning traffic was a slow crawl from Magallanes interchange all the way to Buendia intersection because of a crane that ate up all but 3 lanes. The crane in question was a government one dispatched to get rid of the potentially hazardous billboards along this major road.

    Cleanup isn’t going to be done for a while. We’ll have to put up with this inanity for now.

    Friday, October 13, 2006

    Friday the 13th...means jack shit to me

    Friday the 13th. It’s been a while since my last entry.

    My costly mistake from two weeks ago has been addressed. I guess I was ignorant about how setting off my debt with cash rather than my insurance would leave me a few thousand bucks poorer. The whole mistake eroded some of my confidence in my parking skills, which I thought were close to perfect. Oh well. Crash and learn, as someone quoted in the Philippine STAR said.

    It was also an expensive way of meeting new people...in this case the people in question were ones I’d rather avoid. Goodness, they were practically nagging me for the cash and reminding me of how hassled they were by the dents I gave them at every opportunity. Don’t they realize that I have other obligations to keep and that I will pay them when possible? Despite the guilt trip they were leading me on to, I had the decency of stopping short of telling them that they were my hassle. I am so glad that that’s over with.

    At least none of my boo-boos behind the wheel have matched the damage of a white City I saw parked at work yesterday. All my incidents were simple fender-benders; this white Honda’s right front corner was totally, grotesquely smashed in. It’s a wonder the suspension’s still aligned enough to be driven.

    It didn’t occur to me to start buying books until after I started working. In the span ot two months I’d bought myself two Haruki Murakami novels, “Norwegian Wood” and “Dance Dance Dance.”

    “Norwegian Wood” is a great read. It’s not as mind-boggling as Murakami’s other stuff, it’s just a straightforward story in 1960s Japan and all the better for it. Bought just this afternoon, “Dance Dance Dance” seems like a continuation of another work, “A Wild Sheep Chase,” which left my head scratching. I’ll see how it goes as I move along.

    Being the mecha freak that I am, I’ve discovered the Super Robot Wars games too. They’re fun to play, but are taxing on time and mind because of all the micro-management you have to do. There’s something rather cool about seeing Mazinger Z, Combattler V, Voltes V and all the UC Gundams working together.

    I think I’m beginning to outgrow my plastic mecha model kits though. I’m paying serious dough for 7-14 hours of manual labor. I’m starting to have a “been there done that” complex with them, seeing how I’m usually frustrated with their fragility after half a year or so. The expense of this hobby is also making itself felt on my wallet—I’d just paid off a huge debt and adding expenses isn’t going to help me any.

    When I got home today I had a surprise waiting for me on my mess of a desk. It was a Timex watch from my dad. He had scribbled a note: “Punctuality has its reward. Keep it up.”

    At first I wondered how on earth he knew of my attendance record at work. It turned out it was my punctuality in getting home on or before the time I told them.

    Ah well. Most of my watches are broken or too old. I’m long past the time when I was complaining about having too many watches, so this one’s a welcome addition that came at just the right time.

    Saturday, September 30, 2006

    A truncated record of my clash with typhoon "Milenyo"

    Thursday morning, 6:30am: Took the Skyway going to work (color-coding ako). It was terrifying just maintaining a steady 90 km/h. Visibility was a bitch and my wipers couldn't keep up with the torrential rain.

    Thursday afternoon, 12:30pm: A used car lot just below my office is reduced to a pile of GI sheets flying in the wind. Sayang yung mga kotse.

    Thursday evening, 5:45pm: Left the office. A fallen tree blocked almost all of Pioneer St.

    Thursday evening, 6:10pm: Driving along C5 southbound. The road is cleaner than I thought, but there were 5 fallen lampposts and a few large fallen tree branches.

    Friday morning, 9:00am: Left the house.

    Friday morning, 9:45am: Stuck in Magallanes interchange. I see a bus that got entangled within a fallen billboard.

    Friday morning, 10:30am: Still stuck in EDSA. Rude drivers are everywhere. I can't count the number of times I almost trade paint with buses or other cars.

    Friday morning, 11:10am: Turns out all the traffic from Magallanes northward was due to ONE fallen billboard at the Kalayaan flyover/MMDA Orense area. The billboard fell such a way that it blocked everything but 2 lanes of northward EDSA asphalt. After navigating the fallen billboard there is suddenly a very free piece of road where it would usually be filled with buses (Guadalupe area).

    I arrive for work 1.5 hours late.

    The day before all that, I had the misfortune to rear-end another car for the first time ever. I had fallen victim to wrong maneuvers done in the dark.

    My car was hardly scratched...at least hardly any more than it already was. The dark red Sentra I bumped into had a shallow dent within its fender area. I’m sure it won’t be too hard to fix as the damage was localized into one body panel only.

    Crikey. This is turning out to be such an expensive way to meet new people. Oh well.

    Monday, September 18, 2006

    What I want for Christmas...

    It just occurred to me that it’s already the middle of September. By itself that’s not much of a reason to notice, unless you’re into celebrating bad things happening—Martial Law 1972 and the 2001 World Trade Center massacre being the most notable examples.

    No, what I’m talking about is the start of the countdown to this year’s Christmas (which the Philippines has arguably the longest celebration of any country). And this would be the perfect time to buy stuff for the people you’re planning on giving gifts to. There aren’t too many people who’ve realized this fact, I guess, so you won’t have too many people to fend off in the malls and department stores.

    Wait a tick. Holy cow.

    Just when I was trying to convince myself to stop shopping and start saving, I concoct the perfect reason for my own financial undoing. My only consolation is traditionally I’ve never had to buy too many presents, and it seems things will continue that way.

    They have to. My wallet can’t take it any other way.

    Anyway, while we’re on the subject, this early I might as well ask our favorite fictional fat father (I’m not so good with alliteration, do bear with it) to bring me a little list of the stuff I want. It’d be nice to have them, but I can live without these things.
    • A nice little MP3 player of my own with a decent capacity—maybe at least 4GB. 128MB just isn’t cutting it for me anymore. Throw in a nice comfy pair of headphones too, the hefty kind that look and feel like what DJs use.

    • A micro hi-fi sound system for my room with DVD and MP3/WMA compatibility. Presently my arrangement for playing CDs at home is via my old VCD player and my TV’s speakers...obviously not the most energy-efficient method, as the TV screen is on all the time. I’m not a fussy guy, as long as it’s made by Pioneer or Sony I’ll be happy.

    • I’m still looking for a nice pair of flexible loafers or moccasins that I can use as secondary shoes at work. Please, let them be anything but black. Blue Sperry Top-siders would be great, but they cost some serious coin. I am not willing to spend more than PhP4,000 on just one pair of shoes. So should you.

    • A Perfect Grade Strike Gundam model. Wait, scratch that. I think I have too many models and my room’s real estate is now at a premium.

    • A portable CD player with 2500mAh AA-sized NiMH rechargeable batteries.

    • An MP3/WMA-capable CD audio head unit for my car. I’ve been the staunchest supporter of cassette tapes, but as my CD collection now outnumbers my cassette library, I really have to move up.

    • Computer stuff: a DVD burner, more RAM and a decent graphics card. A problem-free DSL connection would be nice too. Also, a decent game library of classics. I don’t mind playing “relics” such as Diablo II and FreeSpace 2 on weekends because they’re just fun games that stand the test of time well.

    • And now I’m really being cheeky: A Jazz 1.5 VTEC with the manual gearbox. Second-hand in good condition, please?

    Sigh. I think I’m asking for too much.

    Santa, stop me. Hit me on the head or something.

    Sunday, September 17, 2006

    The happenstance music critic, part 2

    My CD-shopping phase continues for a second week. Like an itch that hasn’t been sufficiently scratched, apparently I wasn’t satisfied with just last week’s purchase. I figure this might be the last couple of albums I buy for a few months as I still need to chip into my savings for this month.

    Let’s get the first album out of the way. I already have some Hangad MP3s from Tantan back in my thesis days, so I haven’t really given “Hangad A Capella” a listen yet. However I already have a good idea of what it has and I’m sure I’ll be impressed when I do pop the CD into my player.

    The more significant album is the second one I bought. I haven’t bought any Itchyworms stuff ever since they started making the airwaves around three years ago, but their melancholy song “Beer” stuck to my head like bubble gum. I was convinced I had to buy their album, “Noon Time Show (Commercial Break edition).”

    After the disappointment of Mayonnaise and the lack of variety from Urbandub, “Noon Time Show” is a brilliantly written and produced CD. Taken as a whole, this “theme album” criticizes the inanity, negative influence and irrelevance of that staple of Filipino existence, the noontime variety show, in its various guises. Even breaking it apart, many of the songs can stand by themselves as they run the gamut of themes of love, heartbreak, showbiz, obsession and waiting.

    What truly sets Itchyworms’ album apart is how well they’ve translated the concept into great songs, and here’s where the variety card plays in. “Noon Time Show” is sufficiently varied in musical styles to keep interest/curiosity levels high. They’ve invited quite a few musicians from other bands for some of the tracks, notably the 12-minute variety show spoof “Production Number.”

    The “Commercial Break” CD throws in four of their music videos (which are all very well executed, especially the one for “Beer”). Playing up to the title, a few extra tracks make it in there which are collaborations with advertisements and other shows, such as “Kabataang Pinoy” (“Pinoy Big Brother - Teen Edition” theme) and “Happy Happy Song,” the jingle for Enervon multivitamins. The remainder of the tracks are remixes and tracks that didn’t fit into the original release, such as “Jackson.”

    “Noon Time Show” might easily be the album of the year in my CD collection. These talented guys have nowhere to go but up.
    Speaking of CD collections, I had bought a number of other items from my Alabang jaunt yesterday afternoon. One of them was a 36CD wallet for just PhP88. It’s not a high-quality item compared to the spiffier ones from Case Logic, but for my purposes it’s a great bargain.

    I also bought replacement brake-light bulbs for my car. The last time I went to Honda to buy them, they were ridiculously expensive—and they had given me the wrong type! Imagine my delight when I strolled into True Value and not only found the correct type for my car’s sockets, but paid only 1/5 the price. Rounding out my purchases were a spare “keycard” for my car and some credits for my Timezone card, for a few rounds of Wangan Midnight Maximum Tune 2.

    I’ll have to take a bit of a rest from shopping for now. The next time I’ll shop it’ll be for Christmas presents.

    God knows I’ve sung this song so many times, and I never get tired of it.

    Nais kong magpakalasing dahil wala ka na
    Nakatingin sa salamin at nag-iisa
    Nakatanim pa rin ang gumamelang binalik mo sa’kin
    Nang tayo’y mag-hiwalay
    Ito’y katulad ng damdamin kong
    Kahit buhusan mo ng beer, ayaw pang mamatay

    Giliw, h’wag mo sanang limutin
    Ang mga araw na ‘di sana maglaho
    Ang mga anak at bahay nating pinaplano
    Lahat ng ito’y nawala n’ung iniwan mo ‘ko
    Kaya ngayon

    Ibuhos na ang beer sa aking lalamunan
    Upang malunod na ang puso kong nahihirapan
    Bawat patak, ano’ng sarap,
    Ano ba talaga’ng mas gusto ko?
    Ang beer na ito o ang pag-ibig mo...

    Nais kong magpakasabog dahil olats ako
    Kahit ano hihithitin, kahit tambutso
    Kukuha ako ng beer at ipapakulo
    Sa kaldero’t lalanghapin ang usok nito
    Lahat ay aking gagawin upang aking limutin
    Na nag-iisa na ako

    Ibuhos na ang beer sa aking lalamunan
    Upang malunod na ang puso kong nahihirapan
    Bawat patak, ano’ng sarap,
    Ano ba talaga’ng mas gusto ko?
    Ang beer na ito o ang pag-ibig mo...
    Giliw, h’wag mo sanang limutin
    Ang mga araw na ‘di sana maglaho
    Ang mga anak at bahay nating pinaplano
    Lahat ng ito’y nawala n’ung iniwan mo ‘ko
    Kaya ngayon

    Ibuhos na ang beer sa aking lalamunan
    Upang malunod na ang puso kong nahihirapan
    Bawat patak, ano’ng sarap,
    Ano ba talaga’ng mas gusto ko?
    Ang beer na ito o ang pag-ibig mo...

    — Itchyworms, “Beer”

    Sunday, September 10, 2006

    The happenstance music critic

    After perhaps more than a year of not bothering with it, I "rediscovered" Friendster. A lot has changed since the last time I logged on. This time I figured it would be cool to add my friends from work.

    It's also worth the effort of going there to check up on old friends from high school. Yeah, I know I've publicly denounced my elementary and high school existence ad nauseam, but I can't deny that I made at least a handful of friends from the nouveau-riche circus that is Zobel. I just want to see how they're doing.

    On the only real shopping trip I've been on since April, I managed to buy myself a memento of my high school existence.

    Monty Macalino is perhaps better known as the band Mayonnaise's front man—and Mayonnaise is the band that won the Red Horse Muziklaban contest in 2004. Back in Zobel, though, he was one of the most gregarious and popular characters of Zobel batch 2000 and an active participant of the Search-In retreats. I bought Mayonnaise's second album "Pano Nangyari Yun?" out of curiosity.

    While the riffs are cool, I'm not very stimulated by the lyrics. Not many of them make sense, unfortunately, and although Monty wrote all of them, I can't feel much of his spirit in the songs. Maybe I should have bought the first album instead?

    Meanwhile, I remember how surprised I was with a certain band from Cebu whose sound could pass as a foreign act's. Now Urbandub has at least three albums and I bought the one called "Embrace," which seems like the newest one.

    These guys are amazing, but they're not perfect. There’s just not enough variety to "Embrace." While I like their sound as demonstrated in "Alert the Armory" and "First of Summer," they have too many heavy tracks packed into this CD. This lends the impression that they can't break away from one routine. This level of seriousness and gloss is welcome, but they should give themselves a break to fool around.

    The last album I bought was an old favorite. For me, you can never go wrong with the 1980s supergroup Swing Out Sister, and I bought the local version of their 2CD "Ultimate Collection" for a pretty good price. The foreign version has 3 CDs, but never mind that.

    My only real complaint about "Ultimate Collection" is the second CD. 50% of CD2 is made up of remixes and live performances of tracks that are already on CD1, which is just too much. I would have appreciated having some of their more obscure songs on hand.

    While I have mixed opinions over all these albums, I desperately needed new music to listen to, so the effort wasn't all that wasted.

    I've returned to the driver’s seat with Wangan Midnight Maximum Tune 2. Using my black Mazda RX-8, I managed to fight my way to the end of the “Monster Machine” story arc. I do mean "fight" as the last two races in particular were very rough: my CPU opponents were constantly wanging into my car, forcing me into mistakes such as crashing into walls and traffic.

    That means I've got just 10 races to go before I beat the game. And it can only get worse from here on in.

    In somewhat related news, I hear Sega Rosso is beta-testing the next installment in the Initial D Arcade Stage games, Ver.4.

    This time the game cards are credit-card-thick, and there will no longer be any data transfer from the old games (CRUD!). The cabinets will reportedly sport LCD monitors and the same old sequential shifter, now mounted at waist level—-I'm pretty sure these things will be expensive. Gameplay should be tuned less on "impossible" grip levels as the first 3 games and a little more toward realism, but not to the point of Battle Gear 3's realism. Four new courses have popped up for beta testing: Akina Lake, Shin-Myougi, Shin-Usui and the tough Ibaraki pass from the Fourth Stage anime.

    Great. Come 2007 I'll have another way of wasting money.

    Friday, August 18, 2006

    Mumblings on a heavy Friday

    All week long I’ve been ridiculously happy.

    It was Celine’s birthday the other day. Birthdays being the joyous occasions they are, they’re a pretty good excuse for the normally boisterous Virtual Channels team to be even louder than usual. This day was something special, though. Out came the birthday cake, the bouquet of flowers, the guitar and the singers for our dearest “Prime Minister.”

    It wasn’t until nightfall that the celebration really went under way, though. Cel had invited us all to a birthday party—at McDonald’s. A children’s party at that, complete with the Grimace mascot doing his thing. Not that it really made much of a difference: we were all game enough to join in the games, dance like lunatics when ordered and laugh our asses off. It’s funny, actually, how I used to dread the thought of going to children’s parties when I was three years shy of entering my teens. Now, I didn’t care, and neither did my co-workers.

    I’ll post pictures soon enough; when my home connection isn’t so temperamental, I hope.

    Thursdays are normally my low point of the week. I wake up at 6 am with not enough shut-eye, take a cold shower, skip breakfast and drive to my office before 7 so I can hit the gym for my 90-minute workout. You can imagine how pooped I become even before I start work at 9 every Thursday.

    Somehow this Thursday was a lot more invigorating, though. Breakfast was a hearty bowl of congee, served hot with jokes and laughter from my teammates. Work didn’t seem as tedious as in other days (such as today). I had even put in a little more work with my weights. There was this inexplicable feeling of rightness about this Thursday, even though at best it’s like a weekend-long party: it’s major fun when you’re in it but also a bit of a relief when over.

    I’d hit a low point today though. My body’s basically tired, feeling the burn from the added exercise I’d put in. My eyes are tired and droopy from the unsatisfied hunger for sleep. It’s still happy days, though.

    Taking advantage of the long weekend, Cel, Mylou, Mao R., Anton and some others planned on going to Baguio for a vacation. Personally I’m rather sick of the place, but with them in tow I know it’s going to be fun for sure. They’re probably on their way there now. Unfortunately I opted out, figuring this would be a good opportunity to have a mechanic look at my car’s suspension.

    To my chagrin, the shop in Cubao I’d heard much good news about was going to be closed on holiday Monday, so I’m going there tomorrow morning for an estimate.

    Now the car is still technically my mom’s, but since I’m the one driving it and paying for its fuel, I might as well call it my own in terms of maintenance and repair—including the decisions for such. My mother doesn’t seem to understand this though.

    I’ve already saved up for the potential expense as I was expecting the money to come out of my pocket, and I already had a couple places in mind for the repairs. But here she was, almost insisting that I bring it to the Honda dealership—which is really quite the foolish option. From my erstwhile participation in HCP, Honda charges a ridiculous fee for mostly substandard work. I love their cars, but it’s the servicing I’m still highly skeptical about.

    She also pooh-poohed the pictures and videos I took of Cel’s party. There I was, proud to show off my friends having fun, but she gave a hiss and skulked away. Goodness. Now she wonders why I don’t make her a bigger part of my life.

    Sigh. I have one simple request: some trust and respect from my mom.

    Some much-deserved leeway to do the things I deem important would be right up my alley too. I can’t even move an inch without parental approval—and I’m 23 years old already.

    Saturday, August 12, 2006

    LC24 in da (Three)house!

    LC24 in da (Three)house
    Originally uploaded by bluepiranha.
    ...And so this is what happened after we left from DLSU last night.

    Rachel and Leia frequently made mention of a "Threehouse" since last year, but Tantan and I never knew what it was, exactly. As it turns out, Threehouse is a beerhouse and grillery, with no air-conditioning but pretty damn good food, and it had been under my nose all along. It's in Dian St. in Makati, midway between Zobel Roxas St. and Gil Puyat Ave.

    To add to the bewilderment, Threehouse has an actual tree inside it. Apparently this is where our Marketing professors hung out every Thursday night, and last night it was all ours.

    It was really nice seeing everyone again, although not enough of us were in attendance. Everyone seems to be doing just fine. We were having a blast talking, eating and drinking (no beer for me though, I had to fetch my sister later that night) and basically reminiscing about the good old days.

    Personally I think I left too early. I wanted to spend more time with these guys. Oh well, there'll be other days.

    Cheers guys!

    The Impressives meet again!

    The Impressives, impressed
    Originally uploaded by bluepiranha.
    I left work two hours early to go back to DLSU after six months or so. Leia, now working for the school, had invited us for the annual Cultural Arts Office (CAO) Awards, where we were going to be honored with a special commendation for our thesis, a study on the perception of college students on Philippine theater.

    Well, basically it was an excuse for all of us to have a long-overdue get-together. Leia hugged me when we met up at the William Shaw Little Theater, while Rachel and Tantan arrived just in time to pick up our commendation plaque and CAO Graduate certificates.

    That's a picture of us on the stage.

    Tuesday, August 08, 2006

    The best place to break a duck is in Hungary

    For the uninitiated, the Formula 1 Hungarian Grand Prix held every August at the Hungaroring is notorious for being a dead boring race to watch.

    The Hungaroring’s twisty, highly technical nature means it’s a good driver’s circuit, but more often it makes for a processional race with the sole overtaking opportunity provided by the pit stops. It’s just too damn hard to overtake, and wheel-to-wheel racing is what Formula 1 should be about.

    So imagine my surprise when I turned on the TV last Sunday and found that it was raining buckets in Hungary. I don’t remember having any rain in this race in the eight years I’ve been watching this sport...

    What was normally a dull train of cars had turned into the biggest racing spectacle this season. The rain made the race so difficult to call, and certainly separated the boys from the men. Wet races reward smooth driving and mechanical sympathy.

    The corners that were usually overtaking opportunities for the foolhardy became fruitful ones as Michael Schumacher, Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button carved their way through slower drivers. Passing maneuvers went inside and outside, and the cars pulled each other like magnets—a definite rarity in this F1 age where “bad air” from the car in front can cause your own aerodynamics to malfunction.

    One by one, though, the names you’d expect to win the race dropped out of contention like flies. Kimi Raikkonen drove unsighted into Vitantonio Liuzzi, destroying his own McLaren. Championship leader Fernando Alonso had a driveshaft failure and a wheel nut thrown off his rear tire. Even Michael Schumacher, noted for being a “rain master,” misread the drying conditions at the end of the race and soldiered on with overheating intermediate tires. His dogged stubbornness to defend his position eventually cost him a broken steering arm after Pedro dela Rosa and Nick Heidfeld overtook him under braking.

    However, the day belonged to Jenson Button and the Honda Racing team. Alonso and Schumacher simply took too many risks. Button remained cool and smooth, his car finally cooperating with him despite a blown engine that got him demoted from 4th to 14th at the start. Before Alonso’s disaster, he was within sniffing distance of the Spaniard’s rear wing as he stopped for fuel and dry “slick” tires at just the right moment. All the while, he led Schumacher and Raikkonen, too.

    The race stretched to within 6 minutes of the 2-hour F1 race limit due to the slower pace at the start of the wet race. It was simply too good to pass up for anything, even the Sunday night broadcast of “Top Gear.” For the final ten laps, my heart was jumping in my chest. Alonso was out. Schumacher finally got what he deserved for dirty tactics. All that time, Button was alone in the well-fought lead with 30 seconds to Schumacher’s Ferrari rapidly traveling backward.

    After 113 race starts, Jenson Button finally won his very first F1 Grand Prix. Honda Racing’s 2006 season has been majorly disappointing after stupendous form in 2005, but this win proves they have it in them to keep fighting at the top echelon of F1.

    I never doubted Jenson’s ability. All that pressure for a maiden Formula 1 win must have been hell, but he delivered where and when it counted. It is only fitting he broke his duck in this year’s Hungarian Grand Prix—a marvelous race to watch and will definitely not be forgotten.

    “To finish first, you must first finish.”
    —Rick Mears, four-time Indianapolis 500 winner


    Cel, Jen, Chielou and I were at it again tonight, punching and kicking to the thumping music and following the bark of Sir Edmond’s orders.

    I could follow the routine better now, and I lasted a little longer before the familiar stitch of exhaustion ferreted into my gut. I guess it’s down to equal parts rationing of energy and better stamina. When I did peter out, I kept marching in place for 20 seconds, then got back to the routine—that helped a lot in preventing even more exhaustion. Jen thought the “100 side kicks” bit was rather ridiculous though. Chielou and I agreed the jumps at the end aggravated the tiredness.

    We felt our sides burning from the aerobic workout, but completing the ab routine was actually achievable, albeit with a few breaks.

    The stretching that came afterward felt so good. Suddenly all the aching, burning and stitching went away by the time we congratulating ourselves for “surviving” the hour-long routine.

    I haven’t been playing badminton with Gracey and Paolo for 3 weeks now. I should be missing it, I guess, but the Tuesday tae-bo habit feels so much better in terms of workout duration. It’s just too hard to break.

    Sunday, August 06, 2006

    Our new weekly regular habit: punching and kicking

    After a five-month drought of kits, I finally got myself the Master Grade model kit of the AEUG's grunt mobile suit, the RMS-099 Rick Dias of "Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam." The build process took me about 9 hours—I’m not totally sure, I wasn’t that keen on counting the hours. The big fellow’s dinky proportions, rock-solid stability and awesome posability make for a lot of comedic potential. Consider me a very satisfied customer.

    lower leg internal
    torso/head internal
    Rick Dias saber1
    Rick Dias bazooka2
    Rick Dias bazooka1
    slow crapping
    Rick Dias bkt-over

    Lately I noticed that fewer and fewer people come to read this blog, and that’s just fine I guess. There’s not much I can do, given I don’t have knowledge in active HTML and have mostly text as content.

    Mao R. burned me a copy of the New Radicals’ only album, "Maybe You’ve Been Brainwashed Too." I’ve been looking for it for years and it’s no longer sold here. Gregg Alexander’s pithy lyrics and addictive music are sorely missed.

    Last Tuesday, instead of lifting weights I hit the gym for the tae-bo workout instead. My team lead Celine was curious if the gym offered any tae-bo classes and I said they did, so I figured I might as well join in. It’s been years since my last tae-bo class with my mom and other villagers with John Quay as our instructor.

    So come 6:30, off we went, Jenny, Celine, Chielou and I, down to the fourth floor. We were punching and kicking our guts out to the music until we couldn’t take any more, the stitches of exertion ferreting into our right sides. Unfortunately, the ab workout came next and most of us were too exhausted to continue. Luckily for me I was at least able to follow due to the ab exercises I had every time I pumped iron.

    Man, was I tired; I had to skip badminton the next day due to the unfamiliar burning in my thighs and shoulders. But we all enjoyed the exercise and felt good about ourselves, despite Cel’s own confession that she hasn’t had tae-bo for a while. Right now we’re planning on making it our regular weekly habit.

    So far I’ve been pretty impressed with how my efforts at the gym are paying off. I’ve managed to lose five pounds, and I don’t recall weighing anywhere below 160 lb. in the last four years. People are starting to take notice too, although they’re quick to point out I still have baby fat on my gut. Oh well.

    According to my grandmother, apparently I’ve gotten a lighter complexion too. I never noticed.

    I was dancing with your shadow
    Slow down memory’s hall
    I said, “Wait, have I been seduced and forgotten?”
    You said, “Baby, haven’t we all”

    Now I don’t like crying
    Because it only gets me wet
    But I can’t help failing
    To remember to forget you
    And I know it’s going to be a long time

    Now I’m crying like a church on Monday
    Praying for these feelings to go away
    So do me a favor baby, put down your new god
    And love me like Sunday again

    I was hiding in your bedroom
    When I saw him come inside
    I can’t live in his shadow
    Is that where I’m dancing until I die?

    Now I don’t light candles
    Because they make me see the light
    That I can’t help failing
    To remember to forget you
    And I know it’s going to be a long time

    Now I’m crying like a church on Monday
    Praying for these feelings to go away
    So do me a favor baby, put down your new god
    And love me like Sunday again

    — New Radicals, “Crying Like a Church on Monday”

    Thursday, July 27, 2006

    Consumed, prohibited, celebrated

    As much as I love spirited driving, the bitter reality of high fuel cost is undeniable. It’s especially clear now that I’m paying for my own gasoline.

    I’ve started tracking my gasoline consumption three full tanks ago. Now that’s not a very good indicator of when I started, but it’s a good way to drive my point home. As always, I used regular 93-octane fuel and topped off the tank just up to the point where the pump automatically quits. I always made it a point to gas up at night.

    Our old standing goal was to make a full tank last two weeks. In my college days that was just about as frugal as I could get, and I rarely ever nudged past 9.5 km/L. Ever since I started working though, I’m getting it up to levels I never dreamed of achieving. It started at 10.5 km/L, which is pretty good, but obtainable on good days. The next tank extended the range to 10.83 km/L and that was a pretty pleasant surprise.

    Now imagine my mild delight when I computed my fuel economy after tonight’s fillup. I had managed an astonishing 11.24 km/L! In all my years of driving my Honda, I’d reached that figure just once. I still manage a few trips to the redline to get my oil pump working, and I don’t shirk from some engine braking to help slow down my car, but now I realize I’ve become a far smoother driver than I had ever been. I’m less severe on the brakes and I’m more conscious of taking easy overtaking opportunities.

    Let’s put all the fuel economy figures as fuel consumption figures, like the Europeans do:
    9.5 km/L = 10.52 L/100 km
    10.5 km/L = 9.52 L/100 km
    10.83 km/L = 9.23 L/100 km
    11.24 km/L = 8.90 L/100 km

    What this basically means is over the past six or so weeks, I’m clearly using up less fuel to go a fixed distance. At least I’m doing something right.

    I bought my issue of Top Gear Philippines rather late this month. I was surprised to see my name in the Letters section, stating that I had aced their May automotive quiz along with four others.


    Unfortunately, I didn’t win anything.

    Oh well.

    The first thing I did when I got to the office yesterday was head back downstairs to buy a few things from the grocery. Over the past three days I’ve had a bum gut which I suspect was from the drinking water at the office.

    By coincidence Carla was on her way there too.

    Three weeks ago I would have said hi and made small talk. But the thing is, I didn’t think there was any point in making myself known to her any more.

    It’s true, I have a pretty lousy sex life. I don’t even have any recent practice with relationships. But even I know when I should stop trying. Women in present commitments are off-limits.

    A pleasant surprise came my way when I received a text message from Leia.

    Apparently our marketing thesis on theater had been given a special commendation award from DLSU’s Cultural Arts Office. A recognition ceremony is scheduled on August 11 at 6:30pm.

    Unfortunately I’m usually not off work until 7. I’d love to go, though. Maybe I can ask Jenny for some time off?

    Thursday, July 20, 2006

    Crikey, it's fetal attraction...

    What is it with me always falling for women that are taken?

    The worst example yet came at work. I should have seen all the warning signs: the baby photos, the obvious age difference, the apathy toward me. Still, my wandering eyes kept trying to look for her, all the while putting up a stoic act to hide my attraction.

    For crying out loud, it took a good long close-up glance at the previously innocuous bulge on her torso to realize she is most definitely taken and way out of my league.

    I scare myself. Am I that desperate?

    I so badly want to sing with a band and rock my heart, lungs and soul out in front of an appreciative crowd. I am just so, so jealous of my officemates who are able to do just that and get the approval of everyone else.

    Unfortunately the last time I tried doing that in Batangas, most people just thought I had too much to drink. I now wonder if I had entertained the crowd at all, or if I had entertained them in all the wrong ways.

    My guile and passion in doing the things I love is undeniable. It’s the public acceptance of that passion that needs work.

    The first flush of youth was upon you when our eyes first met
    And I knew that to you and into your life I had to get
    I felt light-headed at the touch of this stranger's hand
    An assault my defenses systematically failed to withstand

    'Cos you came at a time
    When the pursuit of one true love in which to fall
    Was the be-all and end-all

    Love is only a feeling (drifting away)
    When I'm in your arms I start believing (it's here to stay)
    But love is only a feeling

    The state of elation that this unison of hearts achieved
    I had seen, I had touched, I had tasted and I truly believed

    That the light of my life
    Would tear a hole right through each cloud that scudded by
    Just to beam on you and I

    Love is only a feeling (drifting away)
    When I'm in your arms I start believing (it's here to stay)
    But love is only a feeling
    Anyway, anyway...

    Love is only a feeling (drifting away)
    And we've got to stop ourselves believing (it's here to stay)
    'Cos love is only a feeling

    — The Darkness, “Love is Only a Feeling”

    Saturday, July 15, 2006

    Two weeks of disappointment

    As it turns out, Carla already has a boyfriend.

    The MG God Gundam I ordered didn’t arrive...an MG Shining Gundam (the God Gundam’s immediate predecessor) arrived in its stead.

    I came in for weekend work, only to find that for 3 of the 4 hours I was there, we all couldn’t do anything due to technical problems.

    The cooking class I enrolled in turned out to be mostly a waste of time; I should have stayed longer in the office.

    My badminton game is poorer than ever.

    My car has developed barely audible but irritating high-pitched squeaks under acceleration, which I suspect has something to do with the suspension or wheel bearings.


    I guess it was a good thing, my not pursuing Carla any further. I’m really not ready for a relationship—but then again, who can honestly answer that they are? We wouldn’t have been a good fit, judging from the email we’ve sent each other. Oh well.

    I’m not claiming the MG Shining Gundam either. First of all, it’s not what I ordered, so I have every right not to accept it. Second, I know this is an expensive hobby (even though the God and Shining are some of the cheapest MG kits around).

    And third...it’s a bit of a price increase over the MG God, but maybe I should be looking at getting an MG Rick Dias instead. I already have the smaller, simpler HGUC version, but the MG is simply amazing.

    On the brighter side of things, I’ve coaxed 10.82 km/L on my last tankful of gas, even with a few trips to the redline to get my engine’s oil pumps running and cleaning up gunk.

    Now if only I could be as happy with the Honda’s suspension. After years of neglect, I’m planning to finally have it checked and repaired next month, and I know it won’t be cheap.

    In the absence of new Gunpla, one thing has kept me sane. It’s the love of music and singing that my officemates, choirmates and I share. I’ve become mister tambourine man at the choir, due to Ate Edith’s recent birth to her fifth son. All those hours we couldn’t do anything productive at the office this morning due to no fault of ours, Paolo Cruz grabbed Mark’s guitar from his desk and looked for chords to play for us to sing along to.

    This was one of those songs. It’s really quite a beautiful one, and I understand why Mylou likes it so bad.

    Shadows grow so long before my eyes
    And they’re moving across the page
    Suddenly the day turns into night
    Far away from the city
    Well, don’t hesitate, ’cause your love won’t wait...

    Ooo, baby, I love your way, everyday
    Gonna tell you I love your way, everyday
    Wanna be with you night and day

    Moon appears to shine and light the skies
    With the help of some firefly
    Wonder how they have the power to shine
    I can see them under the pine
    But don’t hesitate, ’cause your love won’t wait...

    Ooo, baby, I love your way, everyday
    Gonna tell you I love your way, everyday
    Wanna be with you night and day

    But don’t hesitate, ’cause your love won’t wait...

    I can see the sunset in your eyes
    Brown and grey, and blue besides
    Clouds are stalking islands in the sun
    Wish I could buy one out of season
    But don’t hesitate, ’cause your love won’t wait...

    Ooo, baby, I love your way, everyday
    Gonna tell you I love your way, everyday
    Wanna be with you night and day

    — UB40, “Baby I Love Your Way”

    Saturday, July 01, 2006

    Still frustratingly empty

    Perhaps now I can confirm that it’s not the people I’m with who are at fault. My problem has always been myself.

    I always thought the next newest set of people I mingled with on a daily basis would provide me with the belonging I so craved. Well, to a certain extent that was true. However it doesn’t mean that they could provide answers to the deeper questions and demons inside me, and after the initial euphoria, the same unquelled addiction for belonging rears its ugly head and leaves me melancholy yet again.

    No matter where I go and who I meet, I have always had the same hang-ups. That’s an undisputed fact now.

    This song is courtesy of the winners of the BDCN Global Vision song contest in Manila, the Combo-Rats.

    I got my first real six-string
    Bought it at the five-and-dime
    Played it till my fingers bled
    It was the summer of ‘69

    Me and some guys from school
    Had a band and we tried real hard
    Jimmy quit and Jody got married
    I shoulda known we’d never get far
    Oh when I look back now
    That summer seemed to last forever
    And if I had the choice
    Ya – I’d always wanna be there
    Those were the best days of my life

    Ain’t no use in complainin’
    When you got a job to do
    Spent my evenings down at the drive-in
    And that's when I met you

    Standin’ on your mama’s porch
    You told me that you’d wait forever
    Oh and when you held my hand
    I knew that it was now or never
    Those were the best days of my life

    Back in the summer of ‘69

    Man we were killin’ time
    We were young and restless
    We needed to unwind
    I guess nothin’ can last forever - forever, no

    And now the times are changin’
    Look at everything that’s come and gone
    Sometimes when I play that old six-string
    I think about ya, wonder what went wrong

    Standin’ on your mama’s porch
    You told me it would last forever
    Oh the way you held my hand
    I knew that it was now or never
    Those were the best days of my life

    Back in the summer of ‘69

    — Bryan Adams, “Summer of ‘69”

    Thursday, June 29, 2006

    The sea, the sand, the bands

    The BDCN Summer Outing finally pushed through last weekend, and what a weekend it was. The weather cooperated with us long enough to fully enjoy whatever was planned in the program.

    After arriving and having lunch, we went snorkeling a mile off the beach, and it was my first time. It took a while to get the hang of breathing through my mouth instead of my nose while biting on the air feeder hard enough to keep the salt water from filling my lungs. Disappointingly, we didn’t see too much coral (reportedly due to last month’s storm) but I still managed to see a few nifty things. There were jellyfish as big as my head, a color-changing cuttlefish, a blue sea star, low-swimming skates and the vague outline of an octopus taking a nap in a cave.

    Our boat motored its way back to the beach just in time for the games, which I wasn’t really looking forward to. The rains conspired to sabotage them with a sudden downpour, but cleared up enough for the evening’s battle of the bands—the real reason I was in this outing.

    We were six bands in all, but there was only one deserved winner and it sadly didn’t come from my team. Our band didn’t disappoint as we sang all upbeat songs. I tried getting people to move to Maroon 5’s “Sunday Morning” but I ended up getting joked the next day for taking to the stage drunk or drugged, hahaha! I gotta hand it to Tropical Monsoon though; they did our team proud by bagging second place. Had they chosen a better ending song, they would have brought home the bacon.

    The rest of the time the guys were playing water polo in the pool, flag football and volleyball on the beach, and billiards, ping-pong and darts indoors.

    It wasn’t the most eventful outing, but it sure made a lot of memories. My trusty Nikon FM SLR brought home two rolls of mementos for my team to fawn over on Monday.

    Waiting for me at home was Uncle Butch’s promised graduation gift. I remember he wrote me about it back in my graduation in January, but I pretty much forgot about it until last Sunday.

    I really didn’t have any idea of what it would be, but was I surprised to be the owner of a Sony CD Mavica digital camera. With it came a starter set of twenty 8cm CD-Rs and a CD-RW, one of them already loaded into the camera and with three pictures of the Chaingan family dog, Lucy.

    It’s not new and it’s rather bulky, but I’ve read the MVC-CD500 was top-of-the-line three years ago, already packing a 5-megapixel CCD array—not too shabby! Unlike my mom’s Canon Digital Ixus 5, itself a 5-megapixel point-and-shooter, my CD Mavica has full manual control (shutter speed, aperture, even focus), a Carl Zeiss 3x optical zoom lens with decent range (~30-100mm), and a five-contact hot shoe for attaching external flash units.

    It was just a shame it didn’t arrive in time for the outing. Many thanks, Uncle Butch! I’ll put this thing to good use.

    Looks like I have enough money left over to buy some nifty stuff and have savings too. Suddenly that MG God Gundam doesn’t seem so far away.

    Tuesday, June 20, 2006

    Appearances can deceive

    The longer I interact with my officemates, the more I learn about them and their personal lives.

    Well, maybe that’s not something that should be considered out of the ordinary. However, I was in for a surprise when I learned some of them were not as I had assumed.

    It was only yesterday that I learned that Mark, our resident guitarist and ladies’ man, took a vacation leave last week on his birthday. It turns out it was a week-long leave because he got married to his longtime sweetheart and had their honeymoon in that time. And he’s less than a year older than I am.

    Over lunch this afternoon, I spotted a picture of a young girl inside my team lead Mylou’s wallet. I had innocently asked if it was her in her younger days. She replied that it was her nine-year-old daughter. I was frankly very surprised—I never heard a peep from her about having a daughter of her own before this. Mylou is just three years older than I am.

    All the time I was practicing jamming along with Mark and our other bandmates for the company summer outing, playing badminton and joking around with Mylou, for the life of me, I had never ever expected them to have such serious commitments.

    This leads me to wonder. I’m now twenty-three. I’ve had just one serious relationship. By and large, I’m still an egocentric entity existing in the world of anime, fast cars and giant robots. I tend to run away from problems or avoid them altogether. I don’t have much of a fortune I can call my own, nor do I have anything much to go on at the moment since I just got my first salary.

    My folks were right: I’ve had too sheltered an upbringing and because of that my street smarts are close to nil. No matter how independent I think I am, the fact of the matter is I’m still chained to this invisible umbilical cord, and I’m probably too scared to cut it off and grow my own navel and mark my maturity.

    How ready am I to face the world?

    How ready am I to meet its challenges and disappointments, yet continue to grin and bear it?

    How ready am I to commit to something as serious and irrevocable as marriage?

    How ready am I to even think of having kids of my own?

    The fact of the matter is, I am immature and everyone knows it—it’s written all over my face. I still haven’t grown up...at least not in the way the world expects me to have grown up, given my age. It’s a crappy feeling, me always thinking that I was better than everyone else...when actually, everyone else saw something a lot more important to surviving life in the long run. All the while, I just kept on missing the whole fucking point and continued indulging myself in my delusions of grandeur.

    An old teacher friend of mine in high school once wrote me that she’d remember me as the guy who was always in a hurry to grow up. (Incidentally, she’s been married for a few years now.)


    I wonder what the fuck happened to me along the way.

    Saturday, June 17, 2006

    I am worth my salt

    My first-ever paycheck finally arrived on Thursday.

    Now I realize just how much effort I have to put in to receive my salary every fortnight. In trying to budget my expenses, I feel I should be a lot more restrained in the things I buy if I want to make sure I have something left over for my lifetime savings venture.

    At least I can still afford to drive myself to work everyday.

    As I type this post, Bianca will have graduated already. My mom and dad are over there at the PICC Plenary Hall right now, probably sleeping through the thousand-odd graduates claiming their diplomas and tokens; such is the monotony of a DLSU commencement exercise.

    Boring it may be, it’s still a pretty special event. Congratulations, sister.

    She may have graduated and finished her studies, but even after 5 years of me ferrying her back and forth to wherever she has to go, I’m a little disappointed Bianca hasn’t learned the lesson of punctuality.

    Someone has to get it into her head that the world is not going to wait for her. I just think it would be better if it were up to me or my dad to teach her that. At least that way, she wouldn’t have to risk learning the value of punctuality the hard way.

    So what did I buy with my first salary?

    The very first thing I got was a golf glove. It’s a Father’s Day present for my dad. Immediately following it were an air cleaner element for my car and an emissions testing certificate.

    You see, except for dinner and PhP200 plunked down on Timezone, I haven’t really bought anything for myself so far.

    I do have to say, I enjoyed the time I spent on Wangan Midnight Maximum Tune 2. Damn, I missed that game. Getting perfect drifts in my black Mazda RX-8, with armfuls of opposite lock applied and sweat funneling down my temples in concentration—that’s my idea of serious fun.

    Monday, June 12, 2006

    Showing my true colors

    ColorQuiz.comJM took the free ColorQuiz.com personality test!

    "Hopes that ties of affection and good-fellowship w..."

    Click here to read the rest of the results.

    I never knew a simple color test would tell so much about myself. Creepy.

    Sunday, June 11, 2006

    Of quizzes, finances and dating

    At work, Kaye and Vlad got us a few time wasters over email to pore over. They were mostly Excel spreadsheets made into interesting quizzes and games, such as the Name Game (guessing common first names of celebrities), the Jologs Quiz (tests your memory of Pinoy pop culture from the 1970s onward), and the Epol Apple test (how well you can translate Filipino words into English).

    The Filipino-English translation quizzes were the most appealing to me. One of them even mocks you for mistranslation, saying things such as “Bobo!” or “Pilipino ka ba?!” Of course these quizzes are not a formal benchmark, but our difficulty in translating these common words correctly shows just how our language skills have deteriorated as we got older. We’ve gotten used to speaking Taglish that our proficiency in either pure English or Filipino has suffered a great lot.

    My personal favorite, though, was the one about Filipino advertisements and taglines. It’s had me scratching my head, trying to match the slogan or tagline with the products and brands.

    See posters and print ads for details, indeed.

    My first paycheck is due this Thursday. I can’t wait.

    I’m still trying to work out just how much of that initial pay-out I’m going to save, and how much I’m going to spend on stuff I like or need. This time I’ll have to take into account how much I spend for gasoline and my weekly expenses. I have to be a lot more prudent this time, especially now that I know first-hand just how hard it is to earn any money.

    The last thing I want to find myself in is in massive debt. For heaven’s sake, I’m not American.

    At least I’m off to a good start: I saved up enough money from my allowance last week to buy myself an oil filter wrench and oil filter for my car by Friday. I even treated myself to some Mongolian take-out after four days of bringing my own lunch, and I still had some money left over for the weekend. All this was after I had set aside my substantial weekly deposit.

    Not too shabby, I should say.

    After a month or so doing little things, I’m starting off doing my real job on Tuesday. I will do what I was paid to do: be a professional nitpicker.

    Looking back at the girls I’ve taken a liking to over the years, I find myself asking “Why did I ever like her anyway?” Sure, they all had places in my heart, but time has afforded me another look at things and I can now honestly say most of them weren’t eternal beauties or an ideal fit with my personality. Some of them even had the most irritating of personality quirks: Followers of this blog know how I despised the unfounded jealousy of my ex—and I’ve never cheated on anyone.

    I really want to start over.

    Angiela told me over dinner two weeks ago that girls like to “tame” unpredictable guys, that they like it when guys don’t pay them too much attention. That way they’d get the guys to notice them.

    Hmmm. If that’s true I think I’ve been doing things the wrong way all this time. So my ill-temperedness and cold-shoulder demeanor are actually positive traits in the dating game?

    I’m not too keen on making mistakes...but it seems I’ll have to embarrass myself at least a few times before I get to that point where I can avoid them entirely.