about the talking fish

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

Friday, March 31, 2006

Surprises...more pleasant ones please

This has to be the coldest summer I recall having. True, the sweltering heat has always been present, but the past couple of days were visited by unexpected dark clouds and rainshowers. It’s a big change for me not to prefer running my car’s aircon because it gets too damn cold and I quickly need a piss while driving.

It’s one of those pleasant surprises, I gather. If only there were more of them. Most surprises that come my way subscribe to Murphy’s Law—those of the “if it can go wrong, it will” variety.
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Went to Toyota Motor Philippines today in Santa Rosa for a preliminary job interview and an exam. Er, make that a battery of exams.

Today was pretty much as screwed up as things could get. I woke up longing for more sleep, grew irate due to the unusually slow southbound traffic, got confused and irritated by guards who told me to park in 3 different places, and drained of my energy from all the exams. By the time I reached the interview phase I bet I was an incoherent mess.

I think I screwed up that one big time. Oh well.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Past, present, future

If you aren’t fazed by spicy dishes and want to try something different, I suggest you go into a Thai restaurant and order a bowl of tom yum goong. It’s a clear soup with mushrooms, shrimp and vegetables, but brace yourself and your palate for the first sip.

I love how it goes down your throat and clears it with pure heat—without the hangover of tequila.
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Even before earning my first paycheck, I already have plans for my money.

My first real project is repairing my Honda. I’m very aware my little blue machine needs suspension work, particularly on the rear dampers, and recently I’ve been hearing intermittent chirping noises somewhere in the right front wheel area when I’m committed into turns.

If I have money left over, I’d like to give it a good paintjob to get rid of all the scratches and dents. I’ve left them alone for far too long.

After that, I’m still torn between a few things. One option would be saving up for that Tamiya Spray-Work basic airbrush and compressor set, to finally get started with painting my models. Hmmm. Maybe that should wait.

Another option would be to dress my car up just a little. I’m looking at a nice set of 15” alloy wheels. Then again, maybe that’s frivolous. Besides, it’s not exactly my car...not yet, anyway.

Perhaps I should stop at that for now. Grander plans than these might just leave me disappointed. There’s no use crying over spilt milk, as some say. Sigh.
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Twenty-three years old, that’s how old I am. Gee.

I’m actually beginning to think of my future. I’d love to have a family, but only when I’m financially stable. Where would they live, I reckon? How many kids do I want? Where are they going to study? When’s the proper age to get married and have kids? Do I have kids early so there isn’t much of a generation gap, or do I have them later so I can be sure I can support them? How would I be as a father? It seems pretty overwhelming right now.

Time is not on my side after all. Maybe I should focus all my effort on staying away from getting anyone pregnant by mistake. Lord knows, the last thing the Philippines needs are kids whose parents can’t afford to support.

I’m also slightly jealous of my old college friends who have jobs. I seem to be the only one who’s still a bum, and it’s pretty demoralizing. Bums don’t attract girls, I figure. I’m beginning to question the wisdom behind taking a double degree in DLSU. It looks good, but I’m not exactly young anymore and I’ve let go of some opportunities because I took too damn long in school (including taking seventh grade). I have slight regrets of not being more of a leader back in my college days, as many of the companies I’ve tried applying to prioritize leaders.

Sigh. I wonder how my life’s going to turn out?

Friday, March 24, 2006

Not young anymore...

Ever since I was around nine years old I’ve had this prominent mole on my lower right lip. Before long it became my main identifying mark, as well as the butt of some harmless jokes.

What I didn’t notice was that this mole was growing in size without my knowledge. Other people could notice it somehow, but not me. I never gave it any thought. Apparently I had inherited my grandfather’s “living mole” gene too and it was growing on my lower right lip.

Fast-forward to a year ago, and like many guys I shave my facial hair. Unfortunately my beloved little mole had some hair follicles on it too, and I’d try taking it off with my razor. At this point in time, it had grown in both diameter and height that scratching it with my razor and bleeding on my towel was unavoidable.

I guess it’s about time I should have it removed...
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I tried answering an invitation for Sun Life Financial today. It turned out that they wanted me as an insurance sales agent and financial planner.

I’ve been dissuaded by Aileen and a number of other friends from entering a career in sales, so I had to turn them down despite the friendliest interview I’ve ever had (thanks to Mrs. Annie Kimseng). However, I’m now more aware of planning for the future.

To be honest I’m the kind of guy who lives life one day at a time. Plans in my opinion add an unnecessary amount of stress if and when what you’ve planned doesn’t come into fruition. With things as they are now, though, perhaps I can’t afford to live so lackadaisically anymore. That’s where insurance comes in.

It’s very interesting how just saving a few thousand bucks right now could mean me driving my own car in as early as 6 or 7 years via the power of compound interest. I guess it just takes that sort of discipline to keep from spending your allowance or salary away now in order to get something bigger in return much, much later. I’m not much of a numbers kind of guy, but I did learn from FINAMA2 in college and from recent newspaper clippings that saving now could mean earning a lot more in the future.

Perhaps it’s about time I started planning out my life. When do I want to have kids? When am I going to own my own car? It dawns on me that I’m not exactly young anymore. It sounds like a bleak reality, but that’s life for you.
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I’m going to end up buying insurance and other financial vehicles at this rate, rather than selling it. Heheheh.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Job offer #1

After so many interviews and exams I got my first definite job offer today. I’m not sure if I should take it though. My heart seems to be inclined towards pursuing my ten or so other applications out there.

The interviewer told me I should be ready with my response by Sunday...
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Happy birthday Tita Vik!

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Saturation

You claimed that you and I were cut from the same cloth, the same piece woven in different eras. For a while I was happy for that. I delighted in listening to your stories, giving me your advice and being open with me. I even managed to convince myself I had fallen for you.

How wrong I was.

Have you ever given some thought to why I have changed so much whenever I face you? To be short and direct, I actually got sick and tired of listening to you all the time. You monopolized every one of our conversations, talking the time away, never letting me get a word in, nor realizing that maybe it would be good for me to have my quiet time once in a while. To be totally honest, I’ve had it up to my neck with you and your emotional baggage. Call it a case of saturation. I have it so bad, I actually dread seeing you because I already know what I should expect—even more of the saturation I don’t want.

I want to thank you for everything, but at the same time I have to tell you I am purging you out of my system. Perhaps I will be better off with someone who isn’t so similar to myself. I am freakish enough already—I do not need to be reminded of what I can become ten years from now.
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Another day, another interview. Despite graduating with two degrees I’m starting to get scared of not landing a job. Badminton can only keep me distracted for so long.

I feel slightly jealous of Tantan and Rachel, who are now working at least. Maybe I’m just being too picky with the sort of job I want, with the sort of competition I have to go up against. Then again there are jobs I will definitely not consider, such as call centers. The moment I land a position in one, I know I will definitely wreck my health and my sanity.

On the flip side, I am reminded of Eka. Hers was an unfortunate fate, really. I believe she was able to graduate but she wasn’t able to make use of her acquired knowledge because her fuse ended short. I suppose I’m still lucky.
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While I’m blogging I might as well write about the Justice League.

I never thought this animated series would grab me like it did. It was a pleasant surprise seeing how American animators and screenwriters can put together something as deep, coherent and memorable as this. I grew up watching Batman: The Animated Series (the first of the DC animated universe series by Bruce Timm) way back in 1994 and I was introduced to the great risks WB took by portraying Batman/Bruce Wayne as darkly as in this series. The 1930s film-noir-like feel was very good, but it got too thick at times.

In comparison, Justice League is just as superb but betters Batman: TAS in places. The series is still episodic, but most are done in two parts to further flesh out the story. For all the strength and talent of our band of seven superheroes, each is still without their pitfalls and humanity (though J’onn J’onzz is technically a Martian). Unlike the earlier series, JL is more balanced.

I love Justice League so much I want to get the complete DVD set. I just saw the finale last night and it was spectacular.
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You can probably see a pattern emerging here. I rarely watch movies nowadays because I’m usually too lazy to watch them, or I’m sick of knowing what to expect. Animated series are way different in the sheer possibility the medium promises and it’s really unfair how “cartoons” have been demoted by Americans to things only kids should watch. Bruce Timm and his team changed that outlook at WB for good.

I might as well look for DVDs of Justice League Unlimited and Batman Beyond, two similarly good Timm series.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

On a hot Sunday...

Watched the start of the 2006 Formula 1 championship season with the Bahrain Grand Prix. Though the cars now run 2.4-liter V8 engines in place of the old 3.0-liter V10s, the racing is no less exciting. The season shows promise by providing a very even playing field among teams and drivers, and a standout rookie driver named Nico Rosberg scoring two points at seventh place on his maiden race.
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Happy birthday, Jajah.
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I met a little girl also named Jaja in my other regular badminton place, Whackers World. The little nine-year-old girl was absolutely crazy about wrestling. Apparently it came from her dad.

I was surprised she remembered seeing me in SM Bicutan hogging the Dance Maniax machine. I guess you already know I tend to play five games straight because I don’t play all that often anymore. Still, I felt bad for being so selfish.

I’m thinking of buying her a few tokens to make up.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Watching and learning

Lately I’ve been watching badminton tournaments on late-night TV. The Yonex All-England Cup 2006 and the Denmark Masters 2005 are the sort of events where we can see greats work their magic with the racket and shuttlecock, like Peter Gade, Jens Eriksen and Martin Lundgaard Hansen of Denmark; Nathan Robertson and Gail Emms of England; Pi Hongyan of France; and Gao Ling, Zhang Jun, Lin Dan, Zhang Ning and Xie Xingfang of China.

Watching these people play, I can see how I trail them in terms of technique. The professionals always mix up straight and cross-court (i.e. diagonal) shots and play the deception factor regularly. This forces their opponents to be on their toes all the time, as it takes a lot more effort and space to chase a cross-court smash to the back court.

I decided to go to Whackers World (my alternate badminton venue) without a feverish Aileen last Sunday. That was where I tried out these cross-court smashes and net shots, and it was interesting how they’re supposed to be done—in some cases, with as little wrist power as possible. This is a whole new side of racket control I never bothered with before. With my playing thus far, I’ve used mostly straight shots, kills and smashes, with power from my arm and wrist, never really giving thought to how the ball should fly other than “immediately downwards” as in a well-placed smash.

While at Villamor this afternoon I tried to use this newfound knowledge of cross-court shooting. It’s quite hard at first. I can’t do the near-horizontal underhand cross-court net shots that are the hallmark of better players. At least I’m trying the whole philosophy out and I wholly see the point of doing so. I just think I’ll need more time and practice.

Now I found another weakness of mine: I need to develop my stamina. At Whackers I was exhausted at my third game, my leaden legs and burning feet preventing me from moving quickly. At least I’m not alone; I can take solace in the fact that Nathan Robertson lost the 2006 All-England Open mixed doubles final because of lack of stamina. Then again, maybe it’s all down to playing style: Jump smashes look good but are usually unnecessarily tiring.

Friday, March 03, 2006

In memoriam: Ecatherine Balagso

I met Eka in GENDERS class.

There was an activity there called “Cyber Peek-a-Boo” where we were supposed to get new usernames on Yahoo! and partner with someone within the class we didn’t know—of course our identities were kept secret till the very end of the course. That’s when we met.

She was tall, dark, had a nice smile and an easygoing way of talking. After GENDERS ended we met on a few isolated occasions, greeting each other hi and asking how we were doing in our respective degrees. We weren’t much of anything except acquaintances in good terms with each other, and we just so happened to share friends.

Imagine my surprise when Denise posted the news on the LC24ID101 e-group. Eka had died last Sunday and today was her burial. I had trouble imagining it, as she was normally a sprightly girl and didn’t seem to exhibit anything out of the ordinary. I’m not quite sure of the details but Den told me she was comatose and died within that state, and she may have died of either meningitis or some kidney problem. For many of my friends, it’s the first time they’ve experienced someone their age dying.

The first thing that came to mind: I wish I could have known her even just a little better. The few times I talked with Eka it was mostly about schoolwork, which admittedly isn’t the best thing to talk about. I know precious little about her as a person. Perhaps if we met in some other circumstance more conducive to small talk...such “what ifs” are all we have left now that she’s gone.

For me and my friends, this is a grim reminder of our mortality as human beings and just how fragile our lives are.

Ecatherine Balagso, rest in peace. No doubt, you will be missed.

The reviews I've written

I've been writing reviews on a number of things, mainly anime and my collection of Gundam plastic models. Here I'm sharing links to three of them I've written so far.

MG 1/100 MSZ-006 "Zeta Gundam" Ver.2.0
MG 1/100 XXXG-01W(E) "Wing Gundam" Ver.Ka
MG 1/100 MS-06F-2 "Zaku II F2"

I've also written close to 20 reviews over the years for Beia's site, The Otaku Fridge, which started life as "Anime Okashi."

Please visit them, and I hope you enjoy what you read.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Alive again

I don’t remember why I decided not to return to Villamor Air Base and the Philippine Air Force Badminton Club for a year. The only explanation I can fudge up is it’s got something to do with school work.

The past couple of weeks were instrumental in reminding me why I love badminton so much. True, I was frustrated with shattering my old racket’s head, not being able to move as quickly on the court as I should and having every one of my smashes fail horribly. But that was there to remind me of the ongoing effort I have to keep in order to play well. Like Tina Aboitiz-Juan said, you do not engage in a sport to keep fit; first you have to be fit to engage in a sport.

The fruits of my labor, exhaustion, self-loathing and frustration fell off the tree this week. Today I played my best badminton ever since I left. Sweaty, tired, hot and high on adrenalin, a primal exhilaration welled up in my heart, the same do-or-die derring-do that would usually require me to expend fuel and harrass other drivers or pick a fistfight. Blood pumping through my legs, nerves on the alert, tension in my arm and wrist. To my pleasant surprise, the more tired and exhausted I got, the faster I ran, the quicker I reacted, the more efficient I was in placing the shuttlecock and the more lethal I was in smashing.

Why on earth did I ever give this up?

The good news is, ever since I left Villamor, things have actually gotten better. The referees’ high chairs now have better equipment to help keep better track of serving sides and serving players—more important in badminton than anywhere else, as only those who serve can score. Gone are the courts of rubber-painted cement, which ate up my old shoes in left-foot drags, caused tremendous ankle shocks on landings and movements, and gave me cuts and scrapes on my knees whenever I went for my signature last-ditch returns. Now, more forgiving Taraflex means that when I crash and burn on the court, I get only bruises.

Best of all, I still pay peanuts for all this and the chance to play against some of the best players around.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Middle-class

This is something I got from my choir’s Yahoo! Group. You know what? I agree with everything on it.
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Ako ay isang middle class Pinoy, isang officer sa isang malaking korporasyon at may sawa...dalawa anak. Di na importante pangalan ko kasi parepareho naman tayong mga middle-class....trabaho 9-5, inom konti tapos uwi sa pamilya, laruin si baby, itutor si ate/kuya tapos tulog na, pag wala na pera intay nalang ng sweldo. Sa nangyayari ngayon sa ating bansa, lahat nalang ng sector ay maingay at naririnig, tayo lang mga middle-class, tax paying at productive Pinoys ang di naririnig. Subalit, buwis natin ang nagpapaikot sa bansang ito. Pag may mga gulo na nangyayari, tayo ang tinatamaan. Kaya eto ang liham ko sa lahat ng maiingay na sector na sana makagising sa inyong bulag na pag-iisip.

Sa Mga Politiko:

Diyos ko naman, sa dami na nang nakurakot ninyo di na ba kayo makuntento kelangan nyo pa ba manggulo.

Sa Administrasyon:

Hayan ayus na ha pinatawad na namin ang pandaraya nyo sa eleksyon, pruweba dito e di kami umaatend sa mga panawagan ng people power, kaya sana naman gantihan nyo kami ng magandang serbisyo at magaling na pamumuno at malaking bawas sa kurakot naman please para kahit papano maramdaman naman namin na may napupuntahan ang binabayad naming buwis.

Saka Madam GMA, step down ka na pag parliamentary na tayo sa 2007, tignan mo, i-announce mo mag-step down ka kapag parliamentary na tayo, resounding YES yan sa plebiscite at tigil pa ang mga coup at people power laban sayo. Try mo lang...

Sa Oposisyon:

Di nyo pa ba nakikita na dalawang klase lang ng tao ang nakikinig sa inyo....isa ay bayaran na mahihirap kungdi man ay tangang mga excited na reporter na parang naka-shabu lagi....mga praning e at naghahallucinate. Bago man lang kayo maglunsad ng kilos laban sa administrasyon, pumili muna kayo ng magiting at nararapat na ipapalit sa liderato ngayon. Hirap sa inyo paresign kayo ng paresign wala naman kayo ipapalit na maayos. Advise lang galing sa isang middle-class na syang tunay na puwersa sa likod ng lahat ng matagumpay na People Power, magpakita muna kayo ng galing bago nyo batuhin ang administrasyon. Wala na kaming narinig sa inyo kundi reklamo, e wala naman kayong ginagawa kundi magreklamo....para kayong batang lagi na lang naaagawan ng laruan.....GROW UP naman...sa isip sa salita at sa gawa.

Please lang gasgas na rin ang pagrarally nyo na katabi nyo ay mga bayaran na mahihirap, magtayo nalang kayo ng negosyo at iempleyo ang mga rallyista para maging productive silang mamamayan. Sige nga, pag nagrarally kayo yakapin nyo nga at halikan yang mga kasama nyong nagrarally!! Nung People Power namin nagyayakapan kami lahat nuon.

Wala naman mangyayari sa mga rally nyo nakakatraffic lang, kami pang middle-class ang napeperwisyo. Di nyo kayang paghintayin ng 3 araw ang mga rallyista nyo kasi kelangan nyo pakainin at swelduhan ang mga yan. Kung gusto nyo tagumpay na People Power kami ang isama nyo....pero pagod na kami e, sori ha.

Sa Military:

Alam nyo lahat tayo may problema, pati US Army may problema, 2,000 plus na patay sa kanila sa Iraq na parang walang rason naman, pero nakita nyo ba sila nagreklamo? Wala diba kasi professional sila na sundalo.....yan dapat ang sundalo di nagtatanong sumusunod lang. Kasi may mga bagay na di kayang maintindihan ng indibidwal lamang, at ang mga nakatataas lang ang nakakaintindi ng kabuuan, kaya ito ang panuntunan ng lahat ng military ng lahat ng bansa. Pero parang military natin yata ang pinaka-mareklamo. Sabi nga sa Spiderman "with great power comes great responsibility".....kaya  maging spiderman kayo lahat at protektahan ang mamamayan. Sa totoo lang  natatakot kami kapag nagrereklamo kayo, kasi may baril kayo at tangke, kami wala.

Wala ako comment sa mga mahihirap, di naman kasi sila maingay na kusa e, may bayad ang ingay nila. Saka wala rin naman silang email.

Kaya paano na tayong mga middle-class?? Eto hanggang email nalang tayo kaya ikalat nyo na ito at magdasal tayo na umabot ito sa mga dapat makabasa nito at makiliti naman ang kanilang mga konsyensya.

Signed,
Isang Middle-Class Pinoy na walang puknat na binabawasan ang sweldo ng Buwis!