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, August 31, 2007

Celluloid wisdom

Over lunch, we got to watch "The Pursuit of Happyness." Say what you will about Will Smith, but apart from a few errors in continuity and history this movie is just about perfect...and Smith does put in a very very good performance.

At its core it's a heartwarming true story about a father in San Francisco who is determined to make ends meet and become successful in the worst possible circumstances. He has a five-year-old son, his wife leaves him for work in New York, he sells portable bone-density scanners no one wants and soon enough he's homeless. And while without a salary, he's trying for an internship only one person out of a batch of would-be stockbrokers will get.

What's admirable about Chris Gardner is how he took it all on the chin. In the face of adversity, he left the bare minimum of time to mope, if he did at all. Then he moved on to what he thought was the next best course of action.

And he did all this without leaving his son's side. His son knew first-hand what kind of a man his old man was.

One of the film's initial scenes is a downcast Chris watching a horde of happy stockbrokers. "What makes them so damn happy?" he muses. At the very end, we see him raising his hands, crying in joy, merging with the same crowd after all the hardship he had gone through.
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Quotes of the moment:

"Don't ever let someone tell you, you can't do something, not even me. You got a dream, you gotta protect it. People can't do something themselves, they want to tell you you can't do it. You want something, you go get it. Period."
- Chris Gardner to his son, "The Pursuit of Happyness"

"You know what the problem with you is? You don't know when you've won."
- Jacob Fuller to Seth Gecko, "From Dusk Till Dawn"

Thursday, August 30, 2007

The "My Accenture" party photos

Not much of an update today, except for my uploaded photos of the recently concluded "My Accenture" party I was talking about in previous posts.

Click here to check them out. Enjoy!

Monday, August 27, 2007

Bumming out is healthy

My ten-day vacation comes to an end tonight. Tomorrow it's back to the same old Tuesday grind, waking up at 6 am to haul my ass to the office by 7 and avoid the MMDA.

What did I do the whole time I was out?

I had my "live" facial mole removed, for one. I'm now living with the post-operation idiosyncrasies: not wetting the wound for three days, applying antibiotic ointment, and contending with the Tegaderm bandage that refuses to stay still because of the location of my mole. It's so conveniently located on the corner of my mouth. After two weeks I'll see if this was all worth it.

A visit to the HMO clinic was also in my itinerary. I had a blood test done, but the doctor was quick to rule out anything wrong with my endocrine system. The proof's going to come tomorrow with the result of the blood test.

Yes, I went to Trinoma again...and you already know my impressions of the place. You also know what happened during the party last Saturday. Watching the Turkish Grand Prix was also on the menu but that doesn't need a vacation to do.

One of the things I said I missed was playing involving video games for hours on end. It turns out I didn't have to look very far. I already had a few pretty good games here I just didn't get to play anymore, most notably "Super Robot Wars: Original Generation" on the Game Boy Advance. That turn-based strategy game is so demanding of micro-management it turned me off the first time I played it, but now I finally understand how it all works. It takes me hours to get through individual missions, though.

It was a good vacation, and the break from work was much appreciated despite the lack of money for a trip or some other event of the sort. Unfortunately all things must come to an end, and too much of a tension-free time like this will make me dull.

I think I'll do this again in a few months.

Oh, and did I mention I managed a surprise 13.521 km/L?

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Of hoarse voices, anonymity and mole removal

Today marks the formal introduction of the two-month-old Accenture Chorale Group to the general public, via the "My Accenture" party at the PICC Forum. We've been rehearsing over the weekends and holidays for this day and our five-song lineup.

While we were a little irked at how the other celebrities kept pushing our performance time back, when we finally did perform, we didn't disappoint and our "hello" was greeted by appreciative applause. That, despite the many errors I committed and my voice running hoarse. We sang "Ode to Joy," "Ewan," "With A Little Help From My Friends" and our piece de resistance, "Seasons of Love."

Sugarfree totally rocks. They rocked out at center stage this afternoon to the whole crowd's delight, and this is the first time I got to watch them live. I couldn't resist taking snapshots and video. After their performance I even saw frontman Ebe Dancel watching the proceedings, hiding in relative anonymity after taking a leak. I wanted to meet the man and shake his hand, but due to our moving performance time I decided not to. Shame.

Today also marks my first public appearance after having my biggest mole removed...the live one on the right corner of my mouth. Because of the transparent adhesive covering to prevent infection, and the bleeding from the wound that just won't turn into a scab, people looked at me with the general expression of shock and the question of "what happened to you?" I don't think the wound's going to scab anytime soon because of the location, too---it's ridiculously hard to keep dry and still because I need to eat, drink, talk and sing.

That thick, big mole has become something of an identifying mark for me, a "signature" if you will. I had it removed for convenience and avoiding it from turning malignant, but that came at a rather hefty price that means I haven't had anything left to save. Sheesh.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Visiting the mall with the weird name

Everyone seems to be talking about that new mall in Quezon City called Trinoma. With this, Ayala is giving SM North Edsa some serious competition. Since I had the whole week off I decided to finally give it a visit.

Twice.

I don't know about you, but compared to Greenbelt, Alabang Town Center and Glorietta, Trinoma's parking complex is a huge mess. The whole place is too dark, and the roads snake around with no discernable pattern to them. There aren't enough signs to lead you to where you want to go, either. Most irritating is the way the levels have been set up---you can't go back down a level without having to pay for your parking ticket, and when you do go down, it's in one fell swoop.

When I finally got out of my Jazz and explored the area on foot, I found a decent mall with socking big halls. Around 40% of the stores are still closed, but the open shops are a good mix. A shame there aren't any ATMs apart from BPI's. I was expecting a mind-blowing mall layout, but Trinoma is just big and wide---a few stops short of plain-looking. Despite the Zen garden in the topmost level, it's definitely not a patch on Greenbelt.

One brownie point for Trinoma is its food court, though. I had Singapore-style black pepper chicken cutlet at Cavana for dinner and came away thoroughly pleased with the slow-burning spiciness. Other than that, my melon remains untwisted.

Makati is still my weekend haunt of choice.

Initial D 4 vs. Wangan Midnight Maximum Tune 3

Initial D 4 is finally out and I've just tried it.

First thing's first: the game is ridiculously expensive at PhP30 a pop. Okay, that's fair enough, but the thicker newfangled IC Card costs the equivalent of four games. Gulp.

Okay then. I buy a card, put in my usual car (a black Mazda RX-8 Type S) and go take it for a spin. There are a number of new courses now: Lake Akina is the new beginner loop track, while the previously looping Myogi has become a downhill/uphill mountain pass and thus much harder than before. At the very end of the difficulty ladder is Tsukuba. For my first few games I tried Myogi. It's much wider than the other mountain passes but it's also pretty challenging.

Unfortunately this is the biggest failing of Initial D 4: it feels almost artificially hard. While battling against Takeshi Nakazato and his R32 Skyline GT-R, I found it too easy to lose control of my drifts and I was colliding against invisible "walls" that logically should not exist. I kept losing against Nakazato no matter what I did.

I appreciate the fact that actual drifts are now part of the game, but it's nowhere near as intuitive as it should be. I doubt it's just the learning curve.

My gaming money goes to Wangan Midnight Maximum Tune 3, thanks. Cheaper, more intuitive and faster to boot---the only thing I don't like is the horde of game hogs that load up PhP1000 on their cards and play the whole afternoon away.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

"Seasons of Love"

Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes
Five hundred twenty-five thousand moments so dear
Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes
How do you measure, measure a year?

In daylights, in sunsets, in midnights, in cups of coffee
In inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife, in
Five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes
How do you measure a year in the life?

How about love?
How about love?
How about love?
Measure in love...
Seasons of love
Seasons of love...

Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes
Five hundred twenty-five thousand journeys to plan
Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes
How do you measure the life of a woman or a man?

In truths that she learned or in times that he cried
In bridges he burned or the way that she died?
It's time now to sing out though the story never ends
Let's celebrate, remember a year in the life of friends

Remember the love
Remember the love
Remember the love
Measure in love...
Seasons of love
Seasons of love...

- from the Broadway play "Rent"

Friday, August 17, 2007

Jaded

Once again, Cher, you prove that you are indeed my fwend, because you can see right through me even though we've never met in person.

That's right, my day-to-day life is no fun at all. Maybe that's why, try as I might, I've had difficulty with saving as I keep squandering my money on pointless things. I am lonely but I am tired of trying to fit in with colleagues whom I know will never laugh or marvel at the same things I do. My laugh seems loud and full but frequntly it's just an act I put on.

Despite being jaded, I'm still hoping for someone to come along and prove that I can live my life laughing. I'm still hoping that someone could make me see the joy in things I've dismissed as overhyped.

I'm still waiting, but I'm not sure for how long I'll be willing to.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Aural sanctuary

Spelunking around malls on my frequent window-shopping weekends, I've come across many a gadget store and checked out the wares being sold. Usually the ones I fancy run the gamut of digital audio players, cellphones and computer parts like hard disks and flash drives.

One gadget that can't be ignored as of late: headphones and earphones. Headphones I already know well, but my curiosity got piqued when I found tech stores selling fancy earphones for a whopping PhP21,000. What could be so good about a couple of funny-looking earbuds that, on initial impression, just look like they fit better than normal ones? That most earbuds don't fit my finicky ears doesn't help either.

Lucky for me, not all these so-called canalphones or in-ear monitors (IEMs) sell at such exorbitant prices. I chanced upon Creative's EP-635s, costing a much more reasonable (though still pricey) PhP1,500, and I decided to try these IEMs with their fit-adjusting exchangable tips for myself.

Initially I dreaded I may have wasted my money. Bass was a bit lacking, and high notes seemed a little scratchy. It wasn't until I figured out the proper fit of these 'phones---fitting the biggest silicone rubber tips, then twisting them all the way into my ears for an airtight seal---that I realized what the fuss was about.

Instantly I was 80% isolated from the normal noise of my workplace, with nothing but the music and the sounds of my own breathing and swallowing. The satisfying bass thump on my trance CDs began to fill my head, vocals sounded clearer at just 15% total volume, and I could hear instruments on my rock CDs I never noticed before. This was aural sanctuary, and I loved it!

This doesn't mean I condone spending almost twenty times that amount for a Shure E500PTH, but now I'm a convert and I can see why some people spend serious cash on these tiny things.

Modified cars, stupid drivers

When visibility is poor, the roads are wet and the rain is pouring in buckets, I don't understand why there are idiots on the road who still insist on doing everything wrong---passing from the right, not turning on headlights, tailgating at high speed, and getting to within inches of a collision.

All in my Wednesday morning commute, folks.

I kept the pressure from this C5-charging white ES Civic at bay today, and narrowly avoided the low, low bonnet of an overeager S2000 while trying to change lanes in a crawling EDSA. Both had a collection of parts fitted, including stickers, badges and larger-than-stock wheels and tires.

So is this to say the more aftermarket parts you buy and fit on your car, the stupider a driver you get?

A chilling thought. Which is why I opt to keep my car stock and modify my driving skills instead.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

The first review

It's that time of the year when everyone gets to talk with their manager and find out just how well they did...and if they've been seen fit to be promoted or given a salary increase come September.

As Robert is currently in the UK and very busy with work, we were all asked to call him in his morning hours before the floodgates of hell, er, his work, open. My turn came last Thursday.

He told me it was particularly tough to get recognized this year as my peers in my level are very good (and I can attest to that). However I still performed well enough to be given a favorable rating, which means that by next month I'll be "progressed" to the next level.

It's good news, yes. But somehow I feel it's a hollow victory. It's only going to get tougher from here on in and I've heard stories about how difficult it is to get promoted once again---and here I was, naively thinking I'd get there by November 2008.

This is where I feel the struggle begins. No doubt there will be a few toes that will be stepped on as everyone targets that promotion to the next higher level. I know it's all about respect but let's be honest, things can get cutthroat when a promotion is on the cards.

We will see.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

The grass wasn't greener on the other side after all

I remember as a kid how I wanted to be all grown up. Being an adult seemed so exciting and unrestricted. You could do so many things that you were barred to do as a kid.

Well now that I'm an adult I'm struggling to see what all the excitement and fuss was about. The tantalizing things reserved for grown-ups have proved themselves disappointing. C'mon, let's face it, drinking is the vice of choice for millions of people. However, beer tastes like stale saliva and most hard liquor tastes like shit. Smoking looks cool and rebellious, but doing it is akin to sucking on burning rope. Finally, sex with strangers seems so wild and wanton, but it's not as glamorous or as enjoyable as the media portrays it.

I was trying to get past my childhood and adolescence too quickly in the hopes of having it better as an adult. Heh. Boy, was I wrong or what?

Friday, August 03, 2007

Something I've noticed

I'm looking for excuses to get out of the office as early as I can. Why? I guess it's because there's something in my job I'm not enjoying.

Given that I was never very keen on an IT career, and that the people are the only reasons why I'm enjoying...hmmm. What do you think?

Perhaps I've had my fill of my peer-level colleagues. I have to admit it. I am never going to fit in with them, and frankly I've given up trying. They're forming ever closer bonds with each day, bonds which they purposely avoid to form with me. Sigh. Such is life.

If I am to keep enjoying my work, I have to meet other people. My world does not have to end within the four walls of my office. I just hope that I find more real friends in the community activities I've committed myself to.

Lost in communication, somewhere

You preach the gospel of simplicity. What I see is what I get, huh?

Unfortunately, it can't be that simple. When the channels of communication are as limited in expression as instant messaging, forum posts and emails, there are so many different ways of "seeing" lines of text that make up a "conversation" between virtual strangers. Not all those ways of "seeing" are pleasant, I'm afraid.

Perhaps I got my hopes up too high. After six years, I never thought I would get jaded with meeting new friends over the Internet.

All we are is dust in the wind, or so the song goes. No, all we are to each other is a bunch of electronic characters. A shame.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Snuffed out early

The object of my affection is someone's girlfriend---er, fiancee. Just my luck I guess.

It's better this way. It's better I learned this early instead of much, much later. It saved me a lot of effort and humiliation.

As long as I sing...

After five months away, I am back with the Cybergate Choir. I'm very happy to report things have only gotten better since the pressures of work whisked me off singing for the First Friday Masses.

The Choir itself has grown. I remember the days when there was just six or seven of us singing; when we rehearsed last Wednesday we were close to twenty. The sheer number of us means we should now have a more balanced sound where us male singers had previously overpowered the ladies. I saw a lot of new faces, most of them volunteering from the Accenture Chorale.

Nelson joined Agnes as choirmaster and pianist---a welcome development as he was very effective in teaching us the voicing of our new songs. Speaking of new songs, we've got a fair number of them now. My current favorite is "Hesus ng Aking Buhay."

I want to keep on singing with them as long as I can. Work will be a lot more manageable if I have an outlet for my pent-up creativity, and the new crew seems really fun to be with.