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.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Maybes.

Maybe it'll hurt a lot less if I don't see you on a daily basis.

Maybe I can finally get over you if I no longer felt the compulsion to sneak a glance at you every day.

Maybe I can finally convince myself that behind the comely appearance you're really nothing special.

Maybe I should start being a jerk.

Maybe it's time for a distraction on the highest scale.

Maybe I should stop torturing myself.


Bummer. I'm an addict and I'm having withdrawal symptoms. I have to stop before this kills me.

End of summer.

It's the end of May and the rains have come back with a vengeance.

The other day I spent so much time making U-turns because not even 200 meters from the office, Pioneer St. had turned into a huge, pickup-swallowing deep puddle. The appalling thing was, all the on-ramps going to the Skyway in Makati were similarly flooded too. Here was my ticket out of certain gridlock at SLEX, but Mother Nature conspired to keep me away from it.

At least it's useful how it's become a lot cooler though. Just when the heat was becoming unbearable, here comes a useful douse of cold water.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Anger management 101...

It's no secret that I am very quick to anger. Most people can do the Edward Vogler act and size me up this way in three seconds. It seems no matter how hard I try to distract myself from getting pissed off, I'm just too damn transparent to be 100% successful.

So I really, really wonder how people who are exposed to even more stress and humiliation than me can withstand it all and still keep a straight face, only breaking down when they think no one's watching. What do Celine and Grace have that I don't?

I really wish I could learn how to dismiss things and say they're not worth my annoyance. "It's just work." "It's just a game." "It's just a bad day for driving." Uttering those things and meaning them is actually pretty tough to do on my part.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

More than cheap

My wounded heart is trying to find solace in the most unexpected of places.

I thought it was just a cheap, sordid hangout where party people converge. But I was pleasantly surprised to see there's a lot more to this place than what most people think. It was comforting to see its residents willing to share their stories of happiness and heartbreak in more complicated circumstances and it was so intriguing to hear them bare their souls.

All I did before was lurk. Maybe this time I'll stay longer and become more involved. It's nice to see the people here are human after all.

This place shall remain nameless.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

A couple of little updates, for now.

I haven't had much to post in recent history but I'm glad to announce Cher won her second term as councilor in her home town of Isabel, Leyte. Congratulations, fwendie. Make your townsfolk proud. *HUGS*

In other news...

I have to wonder what my dad was eating when barely two months after buying a 32-inch Toshiba REGZA LCD TV, he buys another 32-inch LCD TV---this time a Sony Bravia unit. It wasn't alone either; it came with a 800W-max surround-sound system too. Coming from one of the most frugal people I know, this behavior is just plain deviant.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Farewell, WHH-687.

The whole time my folks were in Bohol for vacation, my mom had left her new FD1 Civic wedged in our garage and the old SX8 City at her office parking lot. She had to because she fetched her new ride. Now that they're back and my mom's found a potential buyer for my old car, she decided we should bring it back home.

When we got there, it was in need of a wash, with water stains smeared all over the windows and bodywork. My mom dropped me off at the lot and I slipped the key into the ignition. The instant I shifted into reverse and let go of the clutch, I realized I had forgotten how short the travel on the City's clutch was, as it bucked, hungry for more revs.

Initial idle awkwardness with the clutch aside, my final drive of the City reminded me of the good old days. Next to all of our current cars it looks and feels decidedly old-school, save for perhaps my dad's Trooper. The steering is still at the right weight, the car's still at its pointy best, and the rorty D15B7 engine still reminds me that my Jazz lacks 30 HP to be truly fun. The Jazz's infinitely better stock sound system reclaims a lot of brownie points though.

Surprisingly enough, now that I've grown accustomed to economy-mode driving, the old City's perfectly amenable to an early-shifting life below 2500 RPM. I decided I'd have none of that though and gave the City an Italian tune-up---a trip to redline in second gear along EDSA.

Wonky clutch, loose rear-view mirror, dents, rust and surplus aircon aside, my old SX8 is still a pretty damn good car.

I will miss WHH-687 terribly.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Birth of an audiophile

It's been a couple of nights now that I've stayed in my Jazz a little longer after getting home from work.

Perched on my seat, I fiddle with the settings on the Pioneer DEH-P7950UB head unit and marvel at just how adjustable it is. It's not the ultimate car audiophile's head unit---there are other, more obsessive-compulsive Pioneer HUs for that---but I don't know of many that have bass boost, subwoofer control, three-level loudness and a full 7-band graphic equalizer with 2 custom presets. It's also got 3 pre-outs so it's got a lot of room for future expansion.

Leafing through the owner's manual, I'm gobsmacked at how this thing is such a great piece of convergence technology. Out of the box, it's ready to accept a lot of add-on stuff, such as a Bluetooth adaptor, a multi-CD changer, a DVD player/monitor, and even a TV tuner. That's in addition to its support for auxiliary audio inputs, USB devices and iPods (with the appropriate cable). Most of this add-on gadgetry will make me broke, and personally I'm already happy with the USB connectivity alone.

Speaking of USBs, I hooked up my 256MB USB flash drive loaded with WMAs and MP3s and I was slightly disappointed with the sonic quality. Compressed audio files have their limitations, it seems, and playing them at higher volumes shows just how many "holes" they have sonically. Raising the recording bitrate helps preserve the quality, but to these ears they're ultimately no match for a proper CD. Still, there's something to be said about hooking up a large external hard disk with more space than an iPod for a lot less money...

Paolo, who accompanied me to Autoline for the installation, says he's jealous of my new toy. Wisely, though, he says he's sticking with his tried-and-true Pioneer HU until it breaks down. He's now tempting me with replacing my stock speakers for better ones, but that will come in due time. I don't have problems with the "cheap" stuff that's on my front doors' kick panels, apart from slight rattling under bass.

I also begin to see his point about spending good money on car audio. Too often I've lost my cool behind the wheel when I could have easily cranked up the volume and listened to good music instead.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Aural gratification finally comes...at a price.

After six weeks of frustration I finally have my very own Pioneer DEH-P7950UB head unit.

My timing couldn't have come any better: when I drove up to Autoline's shop garage this afternoon with my high school friend Paolo Campos in tow, I would eventually claim the only remaining unit in stock. The installation went very quickly, with the center console totally opened, wiring harness hooked up, head unit installed and everything closed up again in a matter of thirty minutes.

The damage was PhP12,000. Now my wallet definitely needs time to heal. I feel a guilty tinge about this whole purchase, but Paolo comforted me by telling me it's an investment.

It's worth putting in a word about the shop. The owner of Autoline was a nice Chinese guy with a lot of stories about his own ride and equipment. He was trying to sell me on other things such as speakers and tints, but I had to take a rain check on his offer. Still, he had good stuff on sale, such as a set of reverse sensors (very practical on my car!), HID lighting kits and a smattering of component speakers and subwoofers. Those will have to wait until Christmas, I guess.

Anyway, I am definitely going to spend the next few months on "budget meals" mode. In the meantime, it's worth sharing that I had the money for the Pioneer head unit a couple of months in advance. Perhaps due to my frustration of not finding it, and the corruption of having that much money in hand, I ended up spending a lot more than I strictly should have, and that's not cool.

Guys, don't make the same mistake: if you can't find what you're looking for, put it back into your account. Don't let a large sum of money sit idly within easy reach. You don't know how quickly that will get depleted.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Too many wrong turns!

The other day I missed my turn going to the Power Plant Mall. I ended up going to the unfamiliar side of the Makati-Mandaluyong Bridge, and had to take a U-turn at a narrow side street to get myself back to familiar territory.

Today, while searching for Paolo Cruz's badminton place, I wandered even farther off. I misread the map and motored toward Lerma St. and Quiapo Church before realizing I was at the wrong side of Espana Avenue. Attempts to get back on line had me lost again in Manila's side streets.

I have a knack for getting lost, it seems. Unfortunately it's an expensive affliction...not one I can afford to do now that I have to get back to saving money.

When I did get to Power Plant, though, I played four games each of Battle Gear 3 and Dance Maniax 2nd Mix. I've gotten a lot better with BG3; I can finally perform drifts and not crash too often in the tight Akina mountain pass now that I know where to brake, turn and control my slides with the throttle. As for DM2M, it's been ages since I played it, or gotten any decent exercise at all, but I'm still the flamboyant player using both my arms and legs.

That "workout" was a preparation for today's badminton game. I met Ran and Carlo, Paolo's friends from college, and had a good time playing them. Unfortunately I ran out of steam so early, due to the heat and fatigue from the other day, and so I lost to Carlo on both our singles games. Better to peter out now and build it up later than do it any closer to our coming all-men's badminton tournament in June.

Even so I'm planning to do this as a weekly thing. It'd be miles better and cheaper compared to wandering aimlessly around malls like I've been doing the past few weeks.

I might even make 500 km on my current tank after all, too.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Chicane...finally!

Back in the halcyon days of 2000 when trance was still on heavy rotation in clubs, I found a few choice artists whom I'd eventually follow in the electronic music scene. The likes of Paul van Dyk, DJ Ferry Corsten (aka System F), William Orbit and ATB filled my consciousness.

By far the hardest to follow was Chicane, the alias of British writer/producer/DJ Nick Bracegirdle. Everyone else I mentioned had already released new material.

I managed to bag his phenomenal 2000 album "Behind the Sun" a long time ago, with the now-legendary collaborations "Saltwater" (with Maire Brennan) and "Don't Give Up" (with Bryan Adams), and a smattering of excellent ambient mood music. Since then I was unable to find any other works of his, past or present, apart from the odd mixed track of his in mixed Ministry of Sound CDs.

So you can imagine how lucky I felt when my manager friend Anton invited me over to his cubicle and said he'd burn me all his old Chicane MP3s on CD. (Many thanks man!)

Most of it includes stuff from the now-impossible-to-find 1997 debut album "Far from the Maddening Crowds," and even the live album "Chicane: Live at the Paladium."

Best news so far, though, is the announcement that Chicane is finally releasing a new album after seven years, with the current title "Somersault."

Friday, May 11, 2007

Two's company, three's trying too hard.

We got to watch Spider-Man 3 after work tonight.

While this sequel is all whiz-bang effects and offers a nice twist to old Spider-Man favorites like Gwen Stacy and Eddie Brock/Venom, I can't help feeling Spider-Man 2 was better.

It was the more cohesive film plot-wise. "Two" never pretended to be anything else but a growth spurt for Peter Parker, right up to the flickers of the final scene. You can feel the scriptwriters ran out of ideas trying to cram all these elements together for a fitting finale to the Spidey trilogy, and the end result wasn't as clean nor as definitive as I hoped.

It's unfortunate that the Mary Jane-Peter relationship was a travesty here when it was the reason why Spider-Man 2 was so good.

A shame. Oh well.

Garage barrage.

I drove up to our front gate this evening to see another new Honda adopted into our full garage. This time it's an FD1 Honda Civic 1.8V in the color I recommended, Habanero Red. Unfortunately it's not going to be mine; it's going to be my mom's new ride after ceding the 2002-model ZZE121 Toyota Corolla Altis to my sister.

That didn't stop me from sampling the new car for a bit, though. While all-new, the R18A i-VTEC engine sounds deliciously like my beloved SX8 City's D15B7 engine, with a similar metallic thrum and whine absent in my Jazz's gruffer L13A3 twin-spark lump. I set the driver's seat to my dimensions and sat in the back room, where it dispelled any notions of the spaciousness of my Jazz. There's just a lot more legroom back there. I gave a thumbs-up to the major controls, interior bits and integrated audio system, but a year after test-driving one, I'm still ambivalent about that broad dashboard which will take a lot of getting used to.

With this new development, this means I am driving the only car with a manual gearbox...and with the least amount of power. It's not much to complain about when you do 300 km to a half-tank, however. My, how my automotive priorities have changed...

The City is sitting in my mom's office parking lot, and my mom was telling us she got an offer to get it despite the dents and rust. For that car's sake, I sincerely hope the owner treats it well. It's been a dependable partner to me and a definite source of driving lessons and pleasure, no matter how old. My only regret is I didn't take care of it as religiously as I should have, but I'm sure it won't let its future owner down.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

I question thee, thrice.

Sometimes I question the value of overtime when I can get just the same amount of work done in the normal eight-hour shift. Overtime is enjoyable, yes, but my body's taking an unnecessary beating because of it.

I question the value of voting in elections when I know full well that beneath the glossy veneer of popularity and campaigning, the candidates are all the same corrupt, immoral liars regurgitated ad nauseam. Apart from making sure no idiot votes under your name, why vote at all?

I question the emphasis of people on a car's peak engine power output when it's an expensive endeavor exploiting all of that urge. Let's face it, nowadays most of us don't have the time or space to do so, let alone the money. Why not buy a car that'll mangle the least amount of money from your wallet in running costs?

Monday, May 07, 2007

Triviality is a waste.

I know my weaknesses, my character traits and why people like or dislike me. I care too much about pleasing others.

Well, maybe I can start living with myself now.

The only reason why I've felt so wretched over the years was because I could never accept myself for who I was. So what if I'm not exactly what I say I am? Nobody is. So what if people say I'm immature? Who can say that they are with a straight face? So what if I prefer being alone once in a while? No matter who you live with, loneliness is a fundamental state of being.

There are bigger fish to fry and bigger problems to face. Wasting my time and emotion on trivialities will only hasten the ultimate death I am already experiencing. They're not there all the time, but I'm glad I have friends who will pop in and out of my life and remind me that I'm not supposed to be as miserable as I feel.

Thanks guys. Perhaps this time around I can give something back.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

The insomniac hypochondriac hits rock bottom.

Chalk another one up on the "rediscovering sleep" column.

I got myself horrified last Monday when, after lunch in Makati, I gingerly picked up my fork and watched my fingers and right hand tremble and shiver. My hands felt ridiculously weak. Great. Just when I took the day off, this thing had to happen.

The rest of the week I wasn't much better. I even came down with a slight fever and a persistent head cold by the time Thursday rolled along. Whenever I was well, I registered a strangely lower-than-normal body temperature of 36.5 degrees Celsius.

The doctor at work told me the most serious it could be was a thyroid problem. Yikes.

I'm glad that might not be the case, however. I took naps over the weekend and really slept in today, and the right-hand tremors have mostly gone. My regular grip force has returned too.

I was never a fan of sleep, but I can't deny now that I need a lot of it.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Gentle, man.

I may have found the way to extend my fuel economy more even in city driving. That's by going gentle on the throttle, gentle on the brakes, and not pressing the gas more than I strictly need to. In other words, it's a relaxed attitude behind the wheel. Tuning in to 92.3 xFM certainly helps.

One week in and I'm glad to report I've run 130 km with the fuel gauge moving off "F" by the width of a pencil.

Looks like I'm on to something good here. Will I make 600 km before running empty?

Now if I could only play Massive Attack and William Orbit through my car's speakers...

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Nice try, but I prevail.

I am very disappointed with you.

I have been nothing but nice and friendly to you the past four months. And yet yesterday you drove me to despair by making me feel everyone was against me. Worse still was the realization that it was only you who didn't want me in your cozy little "happy cube."

If that's not called rejection...go buy a fucking dictionary.

All day I felt the impulse to drop you a line filled with all the seething emotion I feel now. Discretion got the better of me, however. I will leave it up to you to make your own mistakes for people to see. I will leave you to your own devices because you will eventually expose yourself for the sham you are anyway. I don't even have to lift a finger.

How dare you tell me I'm immature...when this little game you're playing is taken straight out of my darkest days in sixth grade. You fail to see it is only you and your stubborn ways who have failed to accept and adapt, when everyone else has.

Befriending you was a mistake. I hope to God you grow up. I have little tolerance for brats like you.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Longing for the embrace to end all others.

I am sad once again.

I'm sick of talking and writing. Tonight, I simply wish that there's a girl out there who will accept me for what I am and hold me in her arms really tight and sing this song to my ear and mean every damn word of it.


This girl I know needs some shelter
She don't believe anyone can help her
She's doing so much harm, doing so much damage
But you don't want to get involved
You tell her she can manage
And you can't change the way she feels
But you could put your arms around her

I know you want to live yourself
But could you forgive yourself
If you left her just the way
You found her

I stand in front of you
I'll take the force of the blow
Protection

You're a boy and I'm a girl
But you know you can lean on me
And I don't have no fear
I'll take on any man here
Who says that's not the way it should be

I stand in front of you
I'll take the force of the blow
Protection

She's a girl and you're a boy
Sometimes you look so small, look so small
You've got a baby of your own
When your baby's gone, she'll be the one
To catch you when you fall

I stand in front of you
I'll take the force of the blow
Protection

I stand in front of you
I'll take the force of the blow
Protection

You're a girl and I'm a boy...

Sometimes you look so small, need some shelter
Just runnin' round and round, helter skelter
And I've leaned on me for years
Now you can lean on me
And that's more than love, that's the way it should be
Now I can't change the way you feel
But I can put my arms around you
That's just part of the deal
That's the way I feel
I'll put my arms around you

I stand in front of you
I'll take the force of the blow
Protection

You're a boy and I'm a girl...


- Massive Attack featuring Tracy Thorn, "Protection"

Independence, girl.

I am so, so proud of my old friend Beia.

It's been a long while since we last saw each other. She's found her "calling" as a teacher, living independently, finished her thesis and enjoying every minute of her independent single life.

She recently wrote a post (first of a series, she told me) about independence for female fresh graduates. While I am not in any way female, her post was a very very good example to follow for me. She mentioned budgets, mostly, and she's got it all down pat, even counting the occasional luxury or two from Mango. Oh well, girls will be girls. There's even a friend of hers who lived on a meager salary of PhP7,000 a month.

If I ever decide on jumping off the family residence to go solo, I'll follow her example to the letter.

Unfortunately I can't imagine living without a car---probably my singular biggest regular expense.

I am a pathetic little worm.