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.

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.