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.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008 was a good year for...

Love. Mav and I have been together for three and a half months at this writing...and every minute has been a blast so far. My waiting seems worth it because I really don't want anybody else. I love you my baby.

Cooking. Not so long ago I learned how to cook my very first real dish, and even served it to my colleagues soon after. With great results, may I add. Here's to more culinary capers.

Saving. I set myself an ambitious financial target with the Bride Digo seat, and I've proven I can discipline myself enough financially to reach it. The funny thing is, no matter how hard I've saved up these past four or five months, I'm still nowhere near buying the damn thing because so many other expenses got in the way. The final nail in that coffin was when I went to Auto Circuit a few days ago, only to be told they didn't have stocks. No matter, the "Digo fund" has gone to good use---mainly revolving around car maintenance. And I'm still saving.

My car. Boy, was my Aibo spoiled: new wheels, hub-centric rings, Work RS lugnuts, rust removal, repainting, detailing, and the promise of new modifications around the corner. He even got his fifteen seconds of fame by appearing on Honda's Challenge Magazine. This was also the year I appreciated the peculiarities of washing a car properly.

Knowing who my real friends are. I've had a lot of bullshit come my way this year, but I take comfort in the fact that my real friends have stayed with me despite the pain. Even though some of them have left me behind, their presence spurs me to continue living forward.

2008 was a bad year for...

My car and its accidents. My stock wheels got damaged by a huge rut along the Sta. Rosa SLEX entry point. Friday July the 13th really bit hard into my and Aibo's ass when a bus-shaped, bus-sized suppository came crashing into my life. Aibo got white paint droplets from careless painters at my workplace. A few days ago, one of my 16" wheels suffered damage due to a runaway piece of dense, chopped firewood that snaked across the SLEX. Everything's been repaired now, but really, how I wish Aibo and I could have avoided all of that expense and grief!

Reconnecting. Getting in touch with Dynee Balleza-Sheafor was the sole highlight this year. Everything else went sour quickly, to the point that there are some people I do not want to see ever again.

Health. I can't count the number of times a simple cold managed to complicate itself this year into something more serious. This year had me suffering from more fatigue than ever before, too.

Exercise and fitness. There are a number of reasons why I was a failure at keeping fit this year. Perhaps I've lost my motivation. Perhaps I've pushed myself too hard at exercising to the point that I actually got sick after a taebo session. Whatever the reason is, I have a fitness goal to work on in 2009.

Work. I'm still thankful I have my job, but it's definitely become much less of a pleasurable experience than it used to be. The atmosphere in my workplace resembles a garrison sometimes. It doesn't help that most of the colleagues I've held dear have left for greener pastures, either. I'm beginning to wonder if I can last the number of years I promised myself I would.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

CHRISTmas 2008: No time for long faces

Christmas sure isn't doing me and my stomach any favors. With food being served left and right, it's a major challenge just trying to keep control. Some dietitians say people shouldn't deprive themselves or exercise too much control over their diets over the holidays, but the scary truth is, a lot of people seem to die in December or January due to hypertension or heart attacks. Until I can shed these Christmas calories, hot tea is my friend.

People say us Filipinos are a lucky bunch in these times because we hardly feel the effects of the global economic recession that's torn chunks out of every other country. Whether it's due to Philippine economic factors such as low production of exports, or the opinion that "we've been in shitty times before the recession anyway" is debatable, although both are valid. In the US, though, things are pretty bad (or are they really? The Americans have a habit of exaggerating and living in the extremes, right Dynee?). People are waiting with bated breath over the future of their careers; not even my beloved Uncle Butch's tenure is bulletproof now.

I know I frequently criticize Fr. Ramon Ramos' overly long homilies and repetitive themes, but his sermon today was really on point. So much of the things we say and sing about the season aren't really related to Christmas itself. It's not about overflowing food and chestnuts roasting on an open fire, or dashing through the snow in a one-horse open sleigh, and it's definitely not about being broken-hearted or having gifts. The real reason we're celebrating today is because the Man Upstairs loved us so much that He wanted to see how it was like living as one of us. That very thought alone is cause for a lot of celebration---so despite the so-called recession, let's not have Him catch us with long faces. Let's not forget Him in our revelry, either.

Merry Christmas, everyone.

Birth of a cook

My Wisconsin friend Dynee would be glad to know that I have finally shorn off my long-standing ignorance in the kitchen.

Well, sort of. I'm still largely a culinary nincompoop, but now at least, I can proudly claim that I am able to cook pasta...specifically my mom's delicious "pomodoro penne" with tomatoes, basil and oregano.

Spurred on by a dare from Mav, I made it a point to cook my first dish in time for Christmas. Fortunately, my colleagues at work came up with the idea of a "Christmas lunch" celebration, held just before everyone parted ways for the holidays. Given that this is an absolute first time for me cooking for anyone else, I was particularly nervous.


It had turned out better than I ever hoped. When I served my large bowl of pasta, by the time the luncheon had wound down it was virtually empty except for a negligible amount of penne. The culinary experts at work, Karen, Dionie and Jen, all proclaimed it delicious. Dionie told me afterwards that I should try making pasta with white sauce next. We'll see about that.


Not forgetting the original dare, I set aside a small portion for Mav to sample...and she found it up to snuff, too.

Anyhow, here's the recipe if anyone fancies a go...it's really a simple one to be honest.

TERE'S POMODORO PENNE WITH TOMATOES, BASIL AND OREGANO

Ingredients
Olive oil
One head garlic, crushed
One onion, diced
One large can Molinera sun-dried tomatoes with tomato juice
500g bag of penne/rigatoni pasta
One small bowlful of pasta broth
One handful of fresh basil leaves
One handful of fresh or dried oregano leaves

To season:
Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce
Knorr all-purpose seasoning
Salt
Sugar
Pepper
Cheese for topping (Parmesan, Edam or Romano)

Boil some water and cook the penne or rigatoni for 8 minutes or until al dente. Drain the pasta, but set aside some of the broth for later.

Saute the onions in olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the crushed garlic when the onions have caramelized. Saute for 3 more minutes, then open the can and add the tomatoes. Once the tomatoes are in, reduce the heat to low while stirring. Take the basil and oregano leaves and slice them into strips, then add them into the pan. Cook thoroughly.

Season the sauce accordingly. To cut the sour tang of the tomatoes, add some Worcestershire sauce, Knorr seasoning and sugar. Add salt sparingly. If desired, use a pepper mill on the pan. After seasoning, add in the pasta, making sure the sauce coats it evenly. Cook for about 5 minutes. At the end, add in one small bowl of the pasta broth to avoid the pasta sticking to each other. Serve. Top with grated Parmesan, Romano or Edam cheese.

This dish will serve 8-10 people.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

For whom am I going to cheer for now?

First, Honda made a shock announcement that it's withdrawing from Formula 1 next year.

Next, Suzuki and Subaru have effectively short-circuited their campaigns in the FIA World Rally Championship and quit, effective 2009.

What a shame. Just when things were beginning to come into fruition for these three beloved Japanese car companies with sport in their blood, the faltering economy and, in Subaru's case, harsh rule changes (which require it to manufacture a brand-new car in 2010 just to enter) made it so easy for their boards of directors to quickly slash the red ink across the motorsport campaigns that characterized them.

The most poignant of these three "victims" is Honda. They fought through Formula 1 in 2007 and 2008 with dogs for cars but threw development effort into their 2009 entry very early in the season. Now it's all going to waste when it finally seemed so promising.

What a crying shame.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

A very expensive season...but worth it

It's not as if it's anything new, but it's still the case and worth mentioning anyway.

Mav has asked me a number of times about what my favorite season is, and I usually never give her a straight answer because I don't really know which time of the year I like best myself. I'm realizing now however that Christmas does rank pretty high up there.

People who've followed my blog know that I'm now in my third year of giving special Christmas presents to people I don't know very well. (I'll have to come up with a catchy name for that---it's just too Zoolander-ish.) This year's recipient is our beloved Accenture Chorale and Cybergate Choir maestro, Nelson Albano. The man's helped a lot of people with his brilliant talent and love for music and I figured it's about time I gifted him with something he loved. He was thanking me profusely for the JLA Volume 1 hardbound compilation I gave him---Nelson's a big DC Comics fan.

I guess I realized I like Christmas after all. There's a certain joy to giving people gifts that really hit the spot and make them happy, whether it's something they really need or will find useful (I gifted PJ with a Built NY Tidy Bib for his daughter Chelsea), or something they really like (Mav's Belle du Jour planner from Powerbooks, and Nelson's JLA). Note that all of the presents I've mentioned I've already given away.

Focusing on quality rather than quantity does it for me, and I shop relatively early too. I purposely keep my Christmas lists very short so I can focus on what best to give them.

Now if we could only skip the wallet-thinning and belly-expanding properties of the season I think it'd well be perfect.

Aibo goes to the doctors...

At last, Aibo's maintenance-related expenses are done...for now.

The 40,000-km maintenance service, the rust removal and panel repaint, and general air-conditioning maintenance took a huge bite out of my so-called "Bride Digo fund." All those expenses basically cut the fund in half, which means I have to start saving up again if I'm to get any closer to the big-ticket items I had originally intended to get for Aibo a long time ago.

Still, the cruel reality of car ownership is that things can go wrong literally behind your back. This morning I was up at 6 a.m., washing and drying Aibo with the loud homily of our parish priest as background noise. After lunch I decided to remove all the car mats for cleaning. The instant I removed all the mats at the back, I was aghast to see a long lick of bird guano on Aibo's left rear door when it was clean seconds ago.

The air-con was a particularly huge source of frustration for a while now. The system would start fine, but when I saw the tachometer needle tick over at a 2000 RPM idle, I immediately knew my A/C's cooling had gone. It started as an intermittent problem that unfortunately became a regular phenomenon...and driving around with no A/C in the middle of traffic-riddled Manila in December is emphatically not a pleasant experience.

Now, back to the good stuff...I wonder when I'll get those new tires, Tein High-Tech lowering springs and that coveted Bride Digo?

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Aibo becomes famous?

My friend Francis from Jazz-City United spotted this on the recent issue of Honda's Challenge magazine.

Apparently my Aibo just got its fifteen seconds of fame. Aibo is right beside the lead black GD Jazz.



When you realize you're too old to study...

I think I've come to the point where I've become tired of putting in the effort to study. I had Tuesday off; I spent it doing everything else except study.

Wait, that's not entirely true. I did spend some time studying. Anyway...

Aibo's 40,000-km service job went pretty well. Most importantly, it came out a couple grand cheaper than I was expecting. Any money I save is important, yes.

The big news concerned the A/C system check I requested along with it. According to the service advisor at Honda Makati, they found no problems within Aibo's A/C compressor, although they couldn't recreate the no-cooling problems I got. They said the problem may go away if I sent Aibo in for full A/C system cleaning. That slashed my potential expense to just 25% of my initial estimate. PhP8,000 is still kind of pricey for an A/C cleaning job, though, but hey, any money saved...

Regarding the rust spots and the droplets of white paint marring Aibo's deep silver skin, I paid a visit to Supreme Motors and got a sweet deal on rust removal, detailing, painting---the works. I scored a jackpot right there considering it would have cost me twice more to have Honda Makati do it. Again, any money saved...

So far, the expenses don't seem to be reaching above and beyond the amount I've saved up. Unfortunately I might have to let go of some of my plans. I should save harder...much harder.

Done and dusted

The CSTE exam is over.

True to form, at no point in my review and studying did I ever feel that I would ace the exam. There was always that possibility that I would flunk. It did not help that a fatigue-related headache struck me smack in the middle of the essay portion. No matter. I resist the urge to look at my materials again and look at what the correct answers might have been. What matters is I tried my best.

When I was about to leave, the testing center printed out a certificate thanking me for completing the exam. It said the results would be announced in four weeks. Considering when I took the exam, it's going to be a Christmas present I'd either dread or look forward to.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

How much is enough? part deux

The past couple of weeks have practically depleted the time I planned to spend on studying for the CSTE certification exam. Due to "magical events" out of my control (and I meant that very, very sarcastically), no matter how perfect my attendance record had been, I am forced to render overtime just to earn the right to take time off. Some anonymous, unknown idiot had mucked up the computation of that now-kingly figure, chargeability, that had left us all with a bitter taste in the mouth and an inability to take vacation leave.

Fast forward to today. I have now clocked 16 hours of overtime, and my body has started to complain by succumbing to colds. Add to that my inborn inability to sleep on time and I've found myself over-fatigued yet again, barely a month after I last succumbed to flu.

At least some help has come over to my side. I'd been given Tuesday off because I would be stuck at work with nothing to do---perfect timing for Wednesday's CSTE exam. Yesterday, Mav also volunteered to quiz me on my grasp of the CSTE Common Body of Knowledge, over cups of coffee and so many snot-riddled pieces of tissue from my overly sneezy, runny nose. (Thank you, beyb.)

The same title question I dedicate to my efforts to save money...and the expenditures that seem to grow along with them at a discouraging pace. As mentioned, the Jazz's 40,000-km tuneup, new tires and the A/C compressor are big woes, but now I've had the misfortune to discover my brand-new rear hatch has grown a thin rusty crust on its bottom edge, too. Any attempt to budget money for the modifications I want just gets put aside by the expense of basic maintenance. While I've managed to save up an impressive amount of money in just a few months, I get the feeling it's never going to be quite enough for the things I want to do.

So, how much is enough?

Saturday, November 15, 2008

How much is enough?

Yes, I'm supposed to be studying for the upcoming CSTE certification exam on the 26th. But CSTE is one of those things where regardless of how hard you study, you will always be thinking that you haven't studied enough.

Makes me wonder whether I should have taken ISEB instead.

So near, yet still so far: after four months...

The weather's getting colder, the days are getting uncharacteristically busier, and the bonuses are coming in.

Frustratingly though, I'm still nowhere close to getting that Bride Digo seat even if I do have the money already. Other big-ticket expenses---most of which are maintenance-related---have popped up and demand greater priority. My A/C compressor has gone finicky, my L13A3 engine needs the dreaded x40,000-km tune-up, and my aging tires need replacement. Replacing the compressor alone is enough to put a substantial dent on the money I've religiously saved up the past few months.

Chalk it up to impatience perhaps, but it just highlights one thing: Given the amount of work I do, my paycheck is pitiful.

This says it all, really

A suggestion: Rewrite the banner to account for text-speak, too.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

A lot of long faces this holiday season...

Things at work have left a bad taste in my mouth and everyone else's.

The vacation leave applications for November and December we filed in advance so many months ago have been summarily disapproved. Not everyone has been as vocal as PJ, but everyone is pissed off at this development. Upper management is blaming the global recession and chargeability for this disagreeable turn of events. They never even talked to us before they hacked away all those leaves. They're even asking us to make up the time we spent on taking certification exams!

We don't even understand why they're doing this when traditionally there's no work at all at the end of the year. Yet they seem hell-bent on keeping us shackled to the office like a child would stubbornly refuse to let go of a favorite toy. Or is that all that we are to them, toys?

My peers and I are disgruntled, but we don't have much of a choice. And frankly, it stinks.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

"She's seizing!!!"

Just this morning, right after the mass, birthday girl Karen from our choir collapsed and shuddered in the first real-life epileptic seizure I have ever seen. She had hit her head on the cold marble floor of the church.

I was shocked. Being the closest to her when the seizure happened, I tried to help but did not know what I was supposed to do. Apparently, according to onlookers, pressing on the web of flesh between her thumb and forefinger was "first aid" in that sort of situation, for her to recognize the sensation of pain. Indeed, when we helped her sit up on the pew a few minutes later, she didn't seem to feel the pain of the lump on her head that marked her fall.

We had just greeted her a belated happy birthday and introduced her to our new choir members when it happened, and it came as such a shock to us all. With Denz and I helping her up into Ate Rose's waiting vehicle, I silently prayed that she would get better soon.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

2008 CY4A Mitsubishi Lancer GT: Shotgun impressions

Lately I've had the chance to sample my dad's new Lancer as a shotgun passenger.

The interior is a gaping black hole, but with nicely supportive seats. Interior fit and finish isn't quite a patch on the FD Civic just yet, due to a few cheap, hard plastics, but what is there works quite well. The folding grab handle doesn't feel comfortable to hold after half an hour though.

In-car entertainment consists of a 6-CD multichanger that can read MP3 files. ID3 tag information displays on the narrow LCD screen, but doesn't seem to display more than 60 characters. The head unit (HU) then powers what seems like a 6-speaker setup, with a pair of tweeters hidden in the front mirror mounts. Audio quality is okay, with nice imaging, but I'm sure it can be improved with the fitment of an aftermarket HU. How that will fit in place of the integrated HU will be a big headache, though.

My dad was stoking the 2.0L 4B11 engine along the length of NLEX. The engine has impressive overtaking punch and grunt, and it did not want for smoothness either. According to the instant fuel consumption gauge it could do 10 km/L. How reliable these gauges are remains to be seen, though.

The best part about the CY4A, however, has to be the suspension and chassis. Tuning of the springs and dampers hovers on the stiff side, but the ride quality does not suffer and the car handles road acne quite well on its 45-profile tires and 18-inch wheels. One has to force clumsiness to make the Lancer pitch and roll.

Color me impressed.

One more farewell...

My developer friend Adrian Ayala has decided to throw in the towel. In the tradition of my good work friends leaving me, he's decided to follow his own path outside Accenture...after he takes a one- or two-month sabbatical with his brother in Minnesota.

The guy is one of the funniest people I've ever met---but don't let that fool you because he's also very well read. He's also got a very keen eye for photography. I joked that he was leaving Accenture because he couldn't sufficiently finance his "vice" and get better lenses and equipment for his Nikon D50.

Godspeed, my friend. You will be missed. I'll see you around. :)


Thursday, October 23, 2008

When vitamins fail your lonely ass...

There's only one major drawback to living in a place of my own.

What's going to happen when I get sick?

That's a rather big concern. I succumbed to ridiculous levels of fatigue last week, ultimately crashing down with the flu and taking three days off work. Within that span of time I was pretty helpless.

The obvious recommendation would be to avoid getting sick, but there really are days when you just can't avoid coming down with some ailment or two. Regardless of what people say, vitamins aren't absolute insurance against sickness. Not even eating an orange a day prevented the flu from coming my way.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The next major challenge awaiting me

My dad laid down the gauntlet for me and Bianca at the dinner table. The two of us are no longer young, yet we're still living with our parents, basically as freeloaders. By comparison, he'd moved out of the family home at sixteen or seventeen.

He was daring me to leave my comfort zone, to learn to live all by myself without househelp. Without anyone to clean up after my mess. Without anyone else to wash my car, wash the dishes, prepare packed lunch in the morning. I've gotten used to all this going on without my lifting a finger, for so many years. My beloved Yaya Cora, who has basically raised me since birth, is now an old woman and deserves her rest.

Suddenly I felt guilty for turning away all those real estate agents congregating in the parking level of the mall right next to my office. They gave away fliers as most agents do, trying to sell condominiums or townhouses. For the longest time I thought I wasn't their target market. What would I do, I thought, with a condominium when I had a perfectly functioning home to go to?

Apparently I was; I just didn't know about it.

Perhaps I'd been spoiled for far too long. My parents never mentioned it outright, but I guess this is as good an ultimatum as any. I envy the friends at work I have who've got their own places. Chielou's boyfriend Niku had just taken possession of an apartment or condominium recently. His very own pad. Gee. For the longest time, I never thought I'd be able to do that. I guess I can...or should I say I must?

I realize how misguided my priorities were. Saving for car modifications? I should have been saving up for a house. I should save up for a house and all its bills: water, electricity, phone/DSL. I should forego a number of luxuries I've gotten very used to. Suddenly I want to ask PJ and Zaldy and everyone else how they managed to live independently---PJ especially as he just got married and had a baby.

Planning has never been one of my strong suits. If there's anything I learned from work, however, it's that a plan should be dynamic and flexible to account for bullshit encountered along the way. Perhaps this new challenge is one worth planning for. I should move out and be self-sufficient within two years, before I get married, before I turn thirty.

A scary proposition, surely. But I plan to do it without losing or neglecting my Jazz. Perhaps my aibo will receive its planned modifications much later on in its life---especially that Bride Digo seat I've saved up for so fervently these past few months, and the new tires it needs. But it needs the dreaded 40,000 km tuneup soon, too. Crud. I'll make it work, somehow.

Yes, I'll make it work...somehow.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Mmmmmmm

Lunch: Fredo pizza and frozen cappuccino mud pie at Joey Pepperoni.

Afternoon snack: A 500 mL bottle of Pocari Sweat.

Dinner: Tandoori chicken and bagoong rice at Penang Hill.

Driving conditions: Horrible traffic, rude drivers and even ruder motorcyclists.

They all equal one memorable date. I love you beyb!

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Things to save up for

Ever since Mav and I have been friends we've always told each other about our little "projects"---things that we wanted to buy for ourselves and stuff to keep us busy. Since she already posted her Christmas wishlist, she invited me to do the same.

I'm not sure if any of these things will come my way by Christmas this year, though, but this is the list of things I'm slowly but steadily saving up for. To cut on my verbosity I'll let the list speak for itself.
I wonder when I'll finally take that lotto jackpot...because after a few months of saving I've had to pull from the "project funds" due to unexpected dues and expenses. Sigh.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Falling in love again...with choral music

I've just come home from church after a three-hour rehearsal for the upcoming fiesta mass on Sunday. This was a joint one with the other choirs in the village, notably the Missa Populi choir with their keyboards, electric guitars and drums.

Master tenor Andy was on hand to give direction to the huge assembled ensemble. We numbered more than seventy people from four different choirs. But all of us on hand just melded to serve up a filling, uplifting performance worthy of shaking the heavens, thanks to Andy's expert guidance.

The Missa Populi was Andy's pet project after he recovered from his stroke. He was inviting us to come attend the 7:00 pm mass in addition to our regular 9:00 am mass. By the looks of things, it was amazing how the band and the singers worked so well together. The drums in particular were great. The little boy behind the sticks made sure he never overpowered the solemnity of the vocals.

Me? I was hungry, sweaty and tired from work but all that seemed to just melt away...because I sang my heart out. I haven't felt like this in a long time.

I may have just rekindled my love affair with liturgical music.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Prescription for a bad day

The glow of a sodium street light.

Misted-up windows.

The sound of your breath.

The smell of your hair and skin.

Frosty kisses.

Hugs that seem to go on and on.
===

Thank you, Mav.

Blowing it out of proportion

You are pathetic.

If you are not willing to forgive me you are simply being a big spoiled brat. My transgression isn't even that big. You shame a lot of guys by the size and fragility of your ego.

Grow up.

Craziness on our driveway

The ECU on my dad's old Trooper decided to give up the ghost a week ago. Without an ECU, the big hulking SUV gets relegated to the role of "nice, imposing go-anywhere vehicle that can't go anywhere."

Because my dad visits farms regularly, he really does need the four-wheel-drive off-road capability on his ride (unlike a lot of posers I know). Unfortunately, the ECU will cost PhP91,000 to replace and, because the dealers don't keep it in stock, they have to order it from Isuzu Japan...which automatically introduces a three-month wait. Three months!!! For someone who visits farms in Baliwag regularly, the loss of the Trooper is more than a minor inconvenience.

He called me aside once and admitted eyeing Subaru's new Forester. He said he was torn between it and the new CY4A Mitsubishi Lancer/Galant Fortis, but was leaning toward the Scooby because of the mud-plugging ability. If he bought the Lancer, he'd keep the Trooper. Our garage already struggled containing four cars, so rationally speaking I expected the Forester to show up in the driveway.

Imagine my surprise when I pulled up to our gate last night at 11:30 pm and saw this in the driveway.


My dad is nuts. He got a Lancer 2.0GT with a manual gearbox. A manual gearbox!!! Here was a bloke who complained about sore knees pushing and feathering the clutch in city driving. Yet here he was, with a brand-spanking-new Lancer with the "dreaded" clutch pedal. And where is the Trooper going to sit when it's repaired?

I mean, the CY4A Lancer/Galant Fortis is a handsome car, no doubt (notwithstanding a very high rump---a curse for backing up), but I shake my head at the sheer impracticality of my dad's decision. I survived 25 years of him acting rationally. I guess this wasn't without precedent, though.

Oh well. It's his money.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Stupidly happy...at last.

In the end, I had to give in to what my heart was telling me all along. The white elephant in the room had made its presence known all too frequently and denying it was futile.

Initially I tried to fight it, denying that which stood right in front of my eyes. I was just too afraid of my past mistakes, of screwing up again, of victimizing yet another with the vengeful misogyny I realized I was capable of inflicting. I had been alone for far too long and, not knowing any better, I actually thought I would miss it when it left, as if it were a good friend when it actually didn't do me any good.

But she kept her hope and never, ever gave up on me, even if I violently pushed her away. When we reconnected and relaxed our bounds, and the dust settled, I realized I simply wanted to spend my time with her. With her, I do not have to keep thinking about what to talk about or how to act, afraid of stumbling or falling silent. As my friend Dynee said, being with her is not a matter of "walking on eggshells." She is not perfect, but our souls find mutual comfort in each other's company just the way we are---and that is simply all that matters.

I have grown tired of cheap, sordid affairs. I have grown weary of chasing kites that have flown away. I do not want to think of one more what-might-have-been. My heart was right. After so many years, I deserved to be happy again---and I could think of no better person to be stupidly happy with.

I want nothing more than to melt in your arms and breathe into your lips. Sure, it took too damn long. But it feels like I've come home.

I love you, Mav.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Hitting the spot

Perhaps I may have been wrong about people not appreciating me and my efforts at work. If the results of the recent "secret encourager" activity are anything to go by...apparently sometimes I know just how exactly to hit the spot.

My encouragee holds a special place in my photos of my colleagues for never smiling in them, save for one. Basically I compiled all of them and showed her how important smiling is. I kept at the "smile" theme the whole time. I left her a chicken empanada pie this morning because its half-moon shape can look like a toothy grin. I reminded her to smile because for all she knows she could be on candid camera.

Winning at this game meant your encouragee would have to be able to guess whom he/she was. I purposely downplayed winning at this event. To me this activity was a golden opportunity to do something nice for someone I didn't know very well. Turning it into a game was besmirching the good will. Then again, perhaps an incentive had to be in place for people to actually get around to doing it.

I won; she managed to guess who I was without me leaving blatant clues as to who I was. But winning felt strangely empty. I felt more of a winner when I got feedback from her a couple of days ago, that she was actually feeling encouraged by what I was doing.

That was a bigger victory for me.

Who says Brits have no humor?

This weekly blog email from one of my UK counterparts, Ismail Amla, just made my day.

Quoting verbatim:

I went home on Tuesday night this week to son number 2 putting the fear of death into his younger brother and sister. He was telling them how the world was going to end at 8.30 on Wednesday morning when the 'time machine' was to be turned on. He was talking about the most powerful particle collider on the planet where I am told, the plan is to crash together subatomic particles with enough energy to re-create the intense conditions that existed one trillionth of a second after the Big Bang. Son number 2 had convinced his siblings that the black hole was going to swallow everything and they might as well give him their PSP (mobile playstation) that he has been trying to get his hands on for a couple of days. My timely intervention saved them from handing over the PSP but we did have some trouble getting them to bed that night! I have yet to come up with a suitable punishment for the trouble maker.

Hahaha! Cheeky little bugger...

Monday, September 08, 2008

Career crossroads

My friend Angiela is leaving for Washington D.C. at the end of the month. We hadn't seen each other in a long, long while, so she asked me to dinner at Robinsons Galleria last Friday.

While we were talking I found myself getting jealous of her position. She'll be earning ten times her old salary at her previous firm over there, and she'll find it a lot easier compared to her overworked/underpaid days here. She's even getting a car once she gets there, too.

I felt happy for her. But compared to all that, I felt a little sorry for myself. I have nowhere near the toxicity of her workload, but I do have to admit I'm not paid enough for the kind of work I'm doing. My eyes turned green with envy for the better part of a weekend.

I work in an industry I don't exactly love. I work in a company that pays its employees peanuts compared to other companies...at least until I work my ass off and get at least 4 promotions, at which point the pay becomes merely "livable." I'm not getting any younger.

But I'm not willing to leave the Philippines, either.

I'm free of any extra-contractual obligations now. At this point I'm not quite sure what I should be doing. At least thanks to PJ, I know that I'm not really in as bad a position as I had thought. I guess the best thing I could do is do well in my current assignment, and tough it out.

Good things are worth repeating

Mav was feeling a little down last week, so I asked her out in an effort to get her mind off things. We ditched the usual movie. We ate at Jipan, one of my favorite Japanese restaurants; made absolute fools of ourselves at Timezone; window-shopped for shoes, books and sportswear before committing to a purchase of Havaianas flip-flops; and ate Jamaican patties and Quickly ice shakes.

That Saturday felt much, much better. On previous occasions, it felt as if we were trying to rush through the time we had together. Now, though, I felt at ease and more relaxed, and the day went by better overall.

I realized how much I missed her company. Now that we were used to each other's quirks, the old hang-ups we used to have just faded away, replaced by good, clean fun.

We'll do this again, Mav.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

A productive week off?

I've been avoiding blogging for a while, I guess. The magic that used to fill me whenever I updated this piece of online estate seems to have gone. Hmmm.

Basically I took the last week of August off. In that span of time, a lot has happened.

The very first day, my six-year-old computer decided to die. Specifically, the motherboard went kaput and refused to accept RAM DIMMs any more. That 1.7GHz Pentium 4 rig lasted us a good six years. No matter, the next day we went to Market! Market! and had ourselves built a ridiculously quick 2.4GHz Core 2 Quad rig, with 2GB of Kingston RAM running at 800MHz and a 320GB Seagate hard disk. Advised against the pratfalls of Windows Vista, I bought a legit CD of Windows XP---my contribution to the cost of the PhP23,500 system.

Tempting as it is to bump up the cost more, my head just spun from the jargon, terminology and insane prices of graphics cards nowadays. Apparently, if I wanted to play anything decent released in the past year, I'd have to cough up PhP9,000 for Nvidia's or ATI's ridiculously named GPUs and onboard memory.

PJ is now a doting father to Chelsea Nikole, so he's out for the week too. Ronald, my colleague at the church choir, got me as godfather to his own three-month-old bundle of joy, Loraine Jane. After a hiatus of a few months, I showed up at my grandma's in Caloocan with the rest of my mom's family to dispense of my godfatherly duties to my own godchild Mikaila.

Mav and I got along better than I expected, considering I had dealt her a lot of pain. I realize she's my friend after all, and one I don't really want to lose. I guess she's also done likewise. We're cool.

Finally I had the chance to visit Cel in Greenhills and ask her out to what my UK-based employers call "afternoon tea." She's doing well, and we chatted away over Mexican food over her sister's wedding plans, the details of her new job come November (at her uncle's Yokohama Tires distributorship---how timely, I was looking for new rubber for my Jazz), and a little something about work (or what she used to call work).

Was my week off a productive one? I'm not sure, despite Mav's retorts to the contrary. If the week off was supposed to be a restful one, it was way, way off the mark. Even so, I'm still sad it's about to end.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Abused status jargon garbage

You kids think brandishing the status of "it's complicated" on Friendster is cool. You whippersnappers don't even know the meaning of the word.

What the hell do you know about relationships and complications when you're not even fifteen years old yet?

Complicated, my ass.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Separation anxiety

I can't do this any more.

It's unfair to you, unfair to myself, and complicates things. I cannot return the affection you want to give me, so this has to stop.

All I can be is your friend. I can no longer answer to the terms of endearment we've had over the past few months. I can no longer keep you company over the phone till the wee hours of the night. I can no longer be unfair to you.

Apologies. Please read my lips; this is something I have to do. Trust me, it's better this way.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Pooped

I am ridiculously tired.

Teambuilding last Saturday had me swimming laps and almost drowning in a wave pool in San Mateo, Rizal.

I hit the gym on two consecutive mornings...in preparation for a gut-busting Wednesday lunch at Gaudi.

Thursday, I joined taebo again after what feels like years. Imagine all the muscles that ached on my person the day after.

Just the other day, it was the 2008 Accenture All-Men Badminton Cup. Paolo Cruz and I were not able to defend our title.

I am tired.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

The dramachine wears down

Lately I've gone through my life with less of the old drama I used to pepper this blog (and its readers) with. That's not to say that there hasn't been any drama at all; it's just that I've opted not to let it affect me as it did any more.

Life goes on. I guess I could say I've started becoming wiser. I drive at a sedate pace 80% of the time, no longer doggedly chasing assholes on the road like the cop I'm not. I'm more amenable to letting things slide past me, knowing that it usually isn't worth the effort of being angry. Sure, my gut has grown, but I've learned to live with it anyway without worrying unnecessarily.

A few doors have opened for me---I'm not sure whether they were expected or otherwise, but they have opened. Whether or not I jump headlong into them would have been the subject of intense brooding and moping around had I been younger. Nowadays though, I am content to wait. Perhaps it is because of the weight of my previous, foolish choices; or the avoidance of undue pressure and worrying; or the fear of potential anguish on the part of others.

All I know for sure is I am grateful I am in my current position at the moment. Moments like these are all too fleeting and meant to be savored to the full. I can feel the uncertainty and insecurity ebbing from the road of my life, like standing water draining away.

Haven't had a meme in a while

Got this from Ria.

The rules are simple.
At the end of the post, the player tags 6 people and posts their names, then goes to their blog and leaves a comment, letting them know they’ve been tagged and asking them to read your blog. Let the person who tagged you know when you’ve posted your answer.

1. What was I doing 10 years ago?
I was in my second year of high school. Things were finally beginning to look up for me in the nouveau-riche fishbowl everyone calls De La Salle Zobel.

2. What are the 5 things on my to-do list today?
Work, sleep well, take a nap, get to the office before 7:00 am, and...work :)

3. Snacks I enjoy:
A whole orange, the slightly sour kind. I also love large marshmallows and chocolates.

4. Place where I live:
Paranaque.

5. Things I’d do if I were a billionaire:

I'd do a lot of things. I'd finally kit out my Jazz the way I want it, buy a place of my own, take a trip to a quiet Japanese town...and save the half billion left, if I'm lucky. Hehehe.

I'm tagging Joy, Mav, Kathy, Beia, Cara and Ryan.

Monday, July 28, 2008

After 10 days on my tank of fuel...


This was a pleasant surprise, given that I roll with relatively heavy 16" wheels.

Will wonders never cease?

Quote for the moment

"Kung hindi naglalapit ang katawan ninyo, hug ba iyon?"

Thursday, July 24, 2008

It's Jack's turn to say goodbye.

Jacklyn Competente is undoubtedly Miss Congeniality personified. She could get along with everyone and anyone. She's got a bubbly personality and a genuine knack for getting people's affections.

She joined Accenture because she thought she'd have a chance to learn about her capability of choice, SAP. Not a day went by without her ballyhooing her desire for SAP and all its merits. It was unfortunate for that objective then that she landed in software testing. In her entire stay with Accenture she didn't have the chance to move toward what she wanted, and that triggered her resignation...much as she wanted to stay.

I'm pretty sure everyone who knew her in the company wants her to stay as well. Jack is infamous for her many, many, many candid and stolen shots taken on my cellphone's camera. But all we can do is wish her the best of luck wherever the winds of fate take her.





Spelunking on a Saturday afternoon


Mav and I spent last Saturday in Greenbelt 3, watching "The Dark Knight," eating Slammers Burgers and basically just spelunking and having a good time.

"The Dark Knight" was seriously scary, the knick-knacks on Greenbelt 5 were genuinely interesting, and those little Slammers were a caloric food trip.

Let's do that again.





Thursday, July 17, 2008

When your boss is actually the older sister you never had

I haven't had time to really sit down and write about anything...er, "meaty" about the people in my life. It's about time I did because a few people have thought about taking a different path than mine, and so, perhaps, a fitting seeing-off is in order.

Celine Yap is one of those older sisters I've never had. She's my boss, sure, but I've treated her more like a trusted friend. Cel was there for me when I was feeling down and needed a pep talk, which she would always give with her trademark upbeat vibe. In return, I also had the privilege of hearing some of her personal trials and tribulations. She and I had a lot of fun on the rare occasions when we'd share a cup of coffee or have lunch, just the two of us.

Ever since she assumed the managerial role she took on a lot more work...perhaps more than she could handle. At first it manifested with her barely being in her cube, attending meeting after meeting left and right. Later on, however, she started getting sick. Cel succumbed to sickness with increasing duration and frequency. Her health was literally falling apart, and we were always concerned about how she was doing.

With all that back-story, I guess it shouldn't have come as a surprise when she announced at one of our weekly meetings that she was resigning. But I was shocked all the same.

I took her aside for a minute and brought her to a quiet room, where I gave her a long-overdue hug. Ever since the last major project she led (last year) got riddled with all sorts of problems, I felt like cheering her up and giving her a little boost, the same way she did for all of us.

Tomorrow is her last day with Accenture, after eight years of tenure, after which she'll spend a much-deserved three-month break. In that span of time, she says she'll still drop by and visit us. I only hope she and I will still get to see each other and fun over coffee and lunch, as we used to.


Saturday, July 12, 2008

Welcome back, partner






Looking back, perhaps the crash was a blessing in disguise. I had been relegated to driving Bianca's ZZE121 Corolla Altis for a month, but the insurance company gave me the opportunity to finally fix the cosmetic faults I found on the car to begin with. I lost the rear mudflaps and some uniqueness/rarity afforded by the pre-facelift LED taillamps, but I gained a meaner looking rear bumper and a rear wing for the trouble---and provision to mount a high-mount brake light, with pre-drilled holes in the new rear hatch.

Major kudos to Raymond Tan and the men of Supreme Motors in Makati. Apart from some damaged fender liner rubbing on my wheels, I have no complaints whatsoever. My aibo (partner) looks better than ever.

It even has the much-vaunted new-car smell back.

Oh, the agony of waiting...





Friday the 13th: Bus 1, Jazz 0

EDSA Guadalupe. June 13, 2008. 8:30 am. Second lane.

A green EG Civic sedan had to stop in front of me because a bus cut in front of her. I braked a reasonable distance behind. A Partas bus on the other hand failed to brake in time and plowed into my Jazz's rear.

The momentum of the packed bus was such that I even hit the EG in front of me from the impact.

Especially infuriating: I had my DIY-installed LED taillamps for less than a week and this had to happen. Damage was appraised at a whopping PhP130,000---thank God for insurance.

This is the reason why I've been inactive for a month. I came out of the crash with nothing more than whiplash.





Reassuring proof that I was not alone in my predicament...



Thursday, June 12, 2008

Independence? Hah!

It is ironic that on the day we Pinoys commemorate our independence, my colleagues and I find ourselves forced into overtime by a client from overseas...through no fault of our own.

Happy independence day...but I doubt nowadays there's anything to be happy about.

Maybe I should be a mechanic...

Ever since I got my car, scratch damage and all, I've always wanted to address the blemishes it sprouted on its rear end. One of these was the cracked right rear taillamp, obviously held together by a repair job of glue. Not only that, but I also wanted to increase my car's visibility at night by adding to the lit surface area of my car's rear end. The lower third of the stock taillamps remains unlit at night and just acts as a dim reflector.

My friend Jobert from Jazz-City United just so happened to get rid of his "rare" LED taillamps for the pre-facelift Jazz. He wanted to update his Jazz's rear end to look like the facelifted version, so I bought his old units for a song. I got the pair for PhP5,500---cheaper than buying just one non-LED taillamp from Honda itself.

A few months ago, I had downloaded the Fit/Jazz electronic shop manual thanks to a link provided by the Jazz-City United crew. I thought it would be a waste not to use it, so the taillamp install became my very first DIY job on my car.

So off I went, screwdriver in hand, dismantling the rear bumper of the car, then proceeding to dismount the stock taillamps. Due to not having the right wrenches, one of the surprisingly soft taillamp mounting nuts (which I had to reuse for the LED ones) gave in under the force of my hand on the open-end wrench I used. At this point I was afraid I'd turned DIY from "do it yourself" to "destroy it yourself." Luckily, Jobert offered me a hand with his tools the next day, and with his sockets and tighter wrenches the stripped nut finally loosened.

It took a little longer than expected, but now that familiarity has set in, I figure I could do the whole job in under two hours. My fingers ached and my thighs got tired after the lengthened install, but they couldn't remove my pride from my work, installing taillamps that will never burn out and will shine much brighter than ever before.






Saturday, June 07, 2008

Heavy

My biggest concern these days is my growing belly and my increasing weight. Before I knew it I had gained at least a couple of inches and ten pounds. Oddly enough, it happened while I carried out my vow to return to the gym and become fit again. No matter how many inclined crunches I put in at the ab bench, or how many minutes of non-stop jogging at a steep 6% grade on the treadmill I puff through, the pounds and inches refuse to go away.

At 172 lb. I am now officially overweight. My main concern is I no longer know what to do to keep the weight in check, because what I've done so far hasn't helped. Sigh.

Friends say it doesn't really matter, but I've always obsessed about having a trim stomach because ever since I was young, I was always convinced it looked so damn glamorous to have six-pack abs. Realistically I've accepted it's not going to happen to me, but growing more belly than my existing apron of "baby fat" is sort of an insult. Must have been my slow metabolism finally giving out, then.

Que sera, sera.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Rediscovering TV

Thanks to that week-long bout of vertigo, I've basically stayed away from the home computer over the past couple of weeks. Initially it was for fear of having my head spin again, but now I can say it's because I've seen the shows I was missing the whole time I was drowning my time online.

In addition to "House" I'm now following "Chuck" and "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles." The first series is endearing and funny, while the product of James Cameron's imagination makes for pretty interesting television, too.

I'm discovering a few hidden gems, too. I've often looked down on the Ultraman series for being predictable, but "Ultraman Nexus" has changed that. For once, here's an Ultraman series that doesn't consider our familiar red-and-silver giant as an automatic ally. The TLT Night Raiders task force in "Nexus" considers the silver giant just as dangerous as the space beasts he fights against. There's an atmosphere of distrust, paranoia and conspiracy in "Nexus" that makes for very interesting watching. The Ultraman elements are there, but it's much less of a "monster-of-the-week" sort of thing and more resources are devoted to developing our characters and story over many episodes.

And, despite not watching the series, I found the "Sex and the City" movie well-written and entertaining enough to watch it in the cinema twice.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Apparently I thought wrong

I thought all I promised you was a movie date over "Sex and the City."

I thought I had done enough to keep you company.

I thought the movie was great.

I thought I yakked about the movie long enough to entertain you.

I thought you enjoyed the afternoon as much as I did. I even thought everything was fine.

I thought I did a good job of doing my part.

Apparently, according to you, I was wrong. I actually bored you. I found this out as I was stuck in traffic, on my way home, two hours after we parted. And I felt insulted.

I was going over the whole afternoon on instant replay. I don't think I did anything bad or lacking, as far as I knew. Then later you said you were feeling all crappy because I didn't hug you.

Well all I have to say is: Ask, and you shall receive. Unfortunately for you, you never did. If you were expecting to date a mind reader then I'm so proud to have disappointed you full stop, because I'm disappointed you acted so prattishly.

This is your loss, not mine...and consider it a permanent one.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Wrapping up May

Since I recovered from my brush with prolonged vertigo and a massive head cold, I've been staying away from the home PC for fear of getting an undesirable relapse. With the overtime wick turned up at work, I strain my eyes and brain enough already.

For the longest time, using a computer was the one thing I could not do without bad consequences. It's funny how I could vegetate in bed watching TV and reading magazines without incident, or even drive around for two hours, but a week ago I could barely stand two hours of using an LCD-monitor-equipped PC.

Grace and I have patched things up. In the end, despite everything that's happened between us emotionally, I guess we're just really good friends after all. She was concerned about me when I was still struggling through my first couple of days back at work. She's asked me to watch "Sex and the City" along with her...perhaps one of these weekends.

My friend Mav was a big help too. All the while she was keeping me company over SMS, and I appreciated her company despite our differences.

Fuel prices have gotten fairly ridiculous in how quickly they've risen over the past year. I remember this time last year it was PhP38 per liter...now it's PhP52 and rising per week. I was lucky to have avoided a week at the pump, but ultimately my Honda has to fill up and I have to pay up to do so. I wonder when all the price increases will end?

At least tomorrow is another Friday though. A payday Friday. One I'm actually looking forward to, because I'm getting my just-desserts.

Monday, May 19, 2008

I, the jerk

Over the weekend I got sidetracked by a massive head cold and the kind of heavy headache that would normally point to me getting the flu. Fortunately I didn't get chills or fever, but I didn't want to take any chances either so I took today off.

I am disappointed with myself once again. It seems no matter how hard I try to make other people happy, I will just end up acting like an insensitive, manipulative jerk when all is said and done. Grace was looking for something I unfortunately could not give her, and in the end I became exactly the type of person she didn't want.

I begin to wonder when I can convince myself that I am truly ready for a relationship once again. It is funny how I've become the one actively resisting it, after falling over myself time and time again searching for it for the past God-knows-how-many years. Now that relationships aren't part of my itinerary, there the chances for it pop up. What kind of sick, cruel joke is this?

If Grace proved something, she proved I am not unlovable and I am grateful for that. But right now, I'm just not looking.

Monday, May 12, 2008

So many parts, not enough money

Ever since I got those Rota Circuit 10 wheels for my GD1 Jazz, I haven't stopped scouring the Internet for parts that will fit my car. Getting those wheels opened the floodgates, I guess---and now I know why the Jazz-City United guys joke about the "GD" chassis code as an acronym for "Gastos Dami." The Jazz just lends itself really well to customization.

Unfortunately for me, the parts I want installed on my ride cost a pretty penny and require major saving-up.

My current wishlist goes like this.
  • A pair of Bride Digo seats, mounted on Type-YO seat rails. These will help support my thighs and knees on longer journeys. The stock seats are comfortable but their squabs are a little too short. Even just one Digo seat is fine for me.
  • A set of Buddy Club Wagon-Spec coilover dampers. Ever since my dad complained of the Jazz's bordering-on-harsh ride at the back, I've wanted to do something about addressing it while improving the car's handling at the same time. The ability to lower the car's stance by turning a couple of wrenches is a nice bonus.
  • Yokohama S.Drive tires in the 205/45 R16 size, to replace my bought-new-but-actually-aged Bridgestone Potenza S-02 Pole Position rubber. One notable thing about these tires is their unusually high treadwear rating for high-performance rubber. The 300 treadwear rating means these will last much longer than the 180-rated S-02s I currently have, and people say it rides pretty well too. Best of all, it's relatively cheap, given the benefits.
  • LED taillights. Since my taillights have cracks in them anyway, I might as well upgrade to the brighter LEDs on the newer Jazzes that won't burn out. This is more of an active-safety modification as well, because the surface area of my stock brake lights is a little too small for my liking. The LEDs light up a greater area of the rear of the car, by comparison. I might even spring for a high-mount LED brake light, too.
  • A JDM Honda armrest and lower center console assembly for the Jazz. This is just way more useful than the one I have. That snazzy extending armrest has a compartment for stuff too, such as my CD collection.
All these cool doodads are going to cost me a pretty penny...and I haven't even started modifying the engine yet.

I gotta save up.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Seat-hunting at the cinema for Mother's Day

This afternoon I drove to Evangelista St. in Makati to try looking for sport seats. The stock seats on my Jazz are fine, but lack lumbar support and sufficient length on the seat squab. Both are important on longer drives. A longer seat squab will help thigh and knee support. Ever since I sat on a Bride Ergo II seat installed in Francis' GD6 City, I began ogling Bride's excellent sport seats on the Internet...only to weep after looking at the exorbitant price tags on even the cheapest of these babies.

Jobs of Jazz-City United directed me to a shop where he found a used Bride seat selling for a ridiculously cheap PhP10,000. I found the seat, but unfortunately it was used and needed reupholstering. The store owners directed me to a few other shops down the block that also sold cheaper Recaro and Sparco seats, but I will have to buy them as a pair and have seat rails fabricated to fit the Jazz. Still, PhP40,000 for two good seats might make me empty my wallet if I had that kind of cash.

Seat hunting done, I wheeled over to Glorietta to meet up with my friend Mav and watch "Iron Man." We were amazed at how the suave Robert Downey Jr. absolutely owned the role of Tony Stark. Aside from the predictability of the general plot, and the surprising lack of action for a superhero movie, I have absolutely no complaints. Marvel Studios have a gem on their hands here. As long as they don't repeat the major disappointment that was "Spider-Man 3," I will look forward to Downey's next turn as Stark.

After the movie, Mav and I looked for Mother's Day presents. She got a cake, while I bought a baker's serving knife for cakes and pies. We navigated through the darkness and torrential rain of C5 to get home.

All in all, a nice day. Until next time Mav!

Beach trip? No thanks.

I gave up joining the Barclays summer outing to Cavite this year because it coincided with a long-planned outing my family and relatives had planned for about a month already. The plan was to go to Pangasinan.

So why am I still in Manila?

My dad decided to cancel the night before. Apparently, Nanay and Tita Hedwig were already there and it was definitely not worth the effort. After a long six-hour drive, they arrived at a resort that had so many people on a teambuilding event from some company that didn't have the common sense to just reserve the venue exclusively. They felt like gatecrashers. Add to that a beach that couldn't hold high tide in the afternoon, and with barnacles and sea urchins left in the tide's wake, and you have, in Tita Hedwig's words, "a vacation from hell."

I'm okay with that, to be honest. It's not as if the Barclays Cavite trip is anything to look forward to, anyway. Unlike the previous two outings, this wasn't even an overnight stay. Funny how the office summer outings just keep on going downhill year after year.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Wasting a week

Today is the last day of my week-long vacation. What was supposed to be a break to repair my Jazz's underchassis turned out to be just a simple break, due to the many customers requesting repairs at Honda Makati's body repair shop.

At least I made some sense out of this break, though. I caught up on my lack of sleep. I had the hub-centric rings for my wheels fabricated and installed. I finally met my friend Grace on quite a wonderful date. I canvassed the tire shops on Evangelista St. for prices of the Yokohama S.Drive tires I planned to replace my aged Bridgestone Potenza S-02s with. I went to Robinsons Place Manila and spelunked within its brand-spanking-new Midtown wing. I cursed the heat. I spent whole days texting with my new friend Mav about anything and everything. I drove to Trinoma, Banawe St., Greenhills, Aurora Blvd., and C5---basically wandering around in boredom.

Perhaps the next time I have a vacation this long I should put it to better use. But on balance, this wasn't so bad.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

A series of expensive mistakes

It's funny how my priorities have changed. Not too long ago I was a college student constantly ogling plastic models, obsessing over the expensive ones.

Now I'm afraid I've started to indulge myself in a far more expensive hobby. I suppose it was just a matter of time and the drive for it was always there, just dormant, but now I'm looking at every which way I can dress up my GD1 Honda Jazz. And it started with a set of 16-inch aluminum alloy wheels.

Not helping my situation are a few fauxes pas I've committed along the way. The 205/45R16 Bridgestone Potenza S-02 tires I drive on look brand-new, but already have six years in them since their manufacture---critical as tires deteriorate even when unused. The existing scratches and scrapes on my Jazz's rear gained another "friend," as I accidentally dented the rear cross member under the trunk with an overenthusiastic floor jack. Last but not least, the Rota Circuit 10 wheels I bought did not fit flush over the center spigots of my wheel hubs, resulting in a car with its weight supported by wheel studs that were never designed for the strain.

I've brought the car in to Honda Makati for an estimate on all the rear-end body repair, now planned sometime in August---I even plan on upgrading the rear light clusters to later-model LED units. I've brought the car to Autoplus along EDSA to have hub-centric rings fabricated for proper fitment of my wheels. Most recently, I've scoured the Internet for tires at the same size as my current set as I plan to replace them before the year ends.

All this is going to cost me quite a pretty penny, even at my current penny-pinching mode. My 13th and 14th month bonuses haven't yet arrived but in my mind I've spent them already.

Every time I look at my beloved GD1, though, it feels worth all the trouble. What can I say? I really, really like my car and I plan to keep it company for a long, long time.

"...But there's life in the old dog yet"

We had a good thing, it was a blast
That was a long time in the past
You went through changes and I went away
And I have regretted that to this day

I may not always have quite so much hair
But what you saw in me will hopefully always be there
I'll never hurt again, I swear

So put your arms around me, your dinner lady arms
Put your arms around me, your dinner lady arms
I couldn't figure out where your figure had gone
I thought that I could live without you, honey I was so wrong
So put your arms around me, your dinner lady arms
Your dinner lady arms

Forgive and forget that I caused you pain
And find it in your heart to start again

I know I'll never be your Mr. Right
But I'm happy to be your Mr. That-Will-Do-For-Tonight
And I'll never let you out of my sight

So put your arms around me, your dinner lady arms
Put your arms around me, your dinner lady arms
I couldn't figure out where your figure had gone
I thought that I could live without you, honey I was so wrong
So put your arms around me, your dinner lady arms
Your dinner lady arms

I may be light-years past of my sell-by date
But there's life in the old dog yet, honey, it's not too late
So put your arms around me,
Your dinner lady arms!

- The Darkness, "Dinner Lady Arms"

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Of loneliness, insignificance and Macross

By all accounts, I should be sad. I just conceded whatever chance I had with Denise. I should be mourning.

But you know what? I'm not sad at all. Maybe I've grown a bit in all those years. I refuse to get bogged down by heartache and disappointment any longer. I can close this chapter of my life without regrets because I know I tried my best. Perhaps it took me too long to call it quits, but that's no longer important.

Next to what happened to PJ, my troubles are nothing.
===

I got a welcome surprise on YM the other day. My old friend Grace buzzed me...and after some distance between us over the past few months, I truly missed her.

We've had our misgivings and problems, but underneath it all I guess she and I are kindred spirits. We both know how demoralizing loneliness and sadness can be, how it can push us to do really stupid things in an effort to get it out of our system. Although we're doing better now, we still have bouts of that evil emotion from time to time.

Perhaps this time, we can be each other's crutches.
===

I want to watch Macross again.

I want to believe that a love so pure and untainted truly does exist, even if I already have too much knowledge to the contrary.

I want to meet my own Misa Hayase.

I want to believe that love can prevail even in the midst of sheer disappointment and after lots of effort, the same kind of effort Misa put in for her beloved Hikaru.

Macross is a boyhood dream, I guess. What's so wrong in believing in it once again?

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Ending a cycle of heartbreak and disappointment

Where you are seems to be
As far as an eternity
Outstretched arms, open hearts
But if it never ends then where do we start?

I'll never leave you behind
Or treat you unkind
I know you'll understand
And with a tear in my eye
Give me the sweetest goodbye
That I ever did receive

Pushing forward and arching back
Bring me closer to heart attack
Say goodbye and just fly away
When you come back,
I have something to say

How does it feel to know you'll never have to be alone
When you get home?
There must be someplace here that only you and I could know
So I can show you how I...

Dream away, everyday
Try so hard to disregard
The rhythm of the rain it drops
And coincides with the beating of my heart

I'll never leave you behind
Or treat you unkind
I know you'll understand
And with a tear in my eye
Give me the sweetest goodbye
That I ever, ever, ever did receive

Pushing forward and arching back
Bring me closer to heart attack
Say goodbye and just fly away
When you come back,
I have something to say

How does it feel to know you'll never have to be alone
When you get home?
There must be someplace here that only you and I could know
So I can show you how I feel...

- Maroon 5, "The Sweetest Goodbye"

Friday, April 11, 2008

Fire sobers us all

No matter what sort of bullshit I encounter every day, certain sobering events come along to make me realize just how much of a lucky bastard I really am.

Today marks the week after my friend Paolo Jaucian's house in Pasay burned down. It started at 4 am last Friday morning. The blaze had started from an electrical fault in an adjoining house's wiring, setting the wooden house on fire and sparking an inferno that spread to six other houses. Six hours later, Jenny, Joel, Chielou and I were awestruck when PJ called us up at the office with the news. Apparently he and his pregnant wife Jasmine made it out okay, although they failed to salvage anything from their burnt home except important paperwork and clothes.

Without any further contact with PJ (his cellphone melted in the blaze), Chielou and I worried about him. The blaze happened at just about the worst time imaginable: PJ was restoring the house, Jasmine was pregnant, and they had a lot of bills to pay from their marriage last year.

Our hopes came back when PJ came back to the office yesterday afternoon, albeit in a shirt, denim jeans and slippers. He came to secure his share of fire contribution and settle a few things. Work in our cube literally stopped for 45 minutes as we all gathered around to welcome him and ask about the event.

It turns out PJ's house was an unnecessary casualty. Infuriatingly, the city firemen stationed nearby refused to put out the blazes as they ate at all adjoining property for almost two hours. Only the Chinese-Filipino volunteer firefighters, straight from relatively faraway Binondo, put in the effort to quell the fire. The city firemen did not raise a finger until the media came along to film the blazes! Had they sprung into action faster, PJ would most likely still have his house. What incredible bullshit! Only in the Philippines, folks...

Still, PJ was lucky he did not share the same fate of the father and his son who went back into the flames...and never came out alive. Their lives and bodies got snuffed out, leaving a horrid smell that only the overeager looters seem to be able to withstand.

PJ thanked me for visiting and surveying the damage the night after the fire. Me? I'm just thankful my good friend is still alive and well.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Lovin' my Honda's new shoes

Talking and thinking about my always wonky emotional state of mind all the time is not healthy for me. So let's move on to other things I can be happy about.

I had always planned to replace my 14-inch stock wheels and tires with something else. Originally I wanted to wait until I got my 14th-month pay for it, but a certain huge rut I encountered last week along the northbound SLEX entry at Sta. Rosa changed all that. Developing a little crack in the sidewall is enough cause for concern and replacing my rolling stock ASAP.

So this morning I drove to Wheelhaus Marketing on Evangelista St. and picked out a set of second-hand white Rota Circuit 10 wheels they happened to have. Considering their used nature, they were in very good condition, with only peeling Mugen MF10L decals and a series of evenly-spaced scratches on one spoke to give them away. (The Circuit 10s are replicas of Mugen's MF10/L wheels.) I had them shod with fresh 205/45ZR16 Bridgestone Potenza S-02 high-performance directional rubber as I traded in my old rolling stock.

After mounting, balancing, alignment and a set of center caps, my Jazz was instantly transformed into a great-looking hotshoe. Not bad for PhP20,400. Had I insisted on brand-new rims, I would have had them in bronze (no new white ones were in stock) and paid PhP9,000 more.

While having wheel alignment done, I took the chance to better peek at the underbelly of the engine bay as the Jazz sat raised on a lifter. I'm very glad to say nothing critical got damaged by last week's fall into the huge Laguna rut. The oil pan, front suspension subframe, oxygen sensor, exhaust piping and catalytic converter all looked intact and none the worse for wear. Only the plastic skidplate got scratched, gnarled and slightly torn. Unfortunately one of the Jazz-City United people had all those components damaged by a wayward metal object along NLEX in an expensive accidental encounter.

On the drive home I was wary of any rubbing against fender liners or worsening ride quality. So far, so good: ride compliance feels close to stock except for a greater awareness to the road's subtle camber changes. Tire rumble isn't greatly increased either, although I won't know for sure until the running-in period has passed.

On hindsight, I am glad I bought these rims and tires now instead of two months later. I love how my humble Honda looks now and it definitely lifts my spirits.