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.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Glam rock and blues on the road

For this quarter's teambuilding event, my colleagues decided to try something new. Instead of going out to a restaurant to yet again eat our guts out, we tried going out of town to Tagaytay on a Saturday.

We went to hilly Picnic Grove to trek, Leslie's for lunch, Mushroomburger and Sonya's Kitchen to pick up snacks, and then headed to Caleruega's Veritas Hall for our activities. All the while, I had Beng, Paolo C. and Albert to keep me company while Queen, The Darkness and the Pinoy blues bands of "Blueskrieg" rocked out inside my car.

The changing-lanes-and-pop-up-barriers chaos of the SLEX didn't do me any favors, nor did the Sta. Rosa and Carmona traffic, nor the hideously huge rut that caught my poor Jazz out on the Sta. Rosa SLEX entry on the way back home. (Luckily, the damage was mostly cosmetic and concerned nothing vital.)

In the inclement conditions, however, the four of us had a grand time discussing the greatness of Queen, the merits of blues music, and Beng's advice for courting women. None of us fell asleep on the entire trip, even though we made it back 30 minutes after everyone else did.

Many thanks guys. If you decide to tag along on our summer outing I'd be honored to have all of you as my passengers once again.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Keeping a leash on my inner boyracer

7:15pm. I had just passed the Kalayaan Avenue intersection on C5 southbound. Eager to avoid the slower traffic, I moved to the rightmost lanes to try to pass the slower traffic. Suddenly there was this bright yellow glare shooting into my rear-view mirror. The car which was the origin of this glare was still a few car-lengths away from my Jazz, but was closing in.

I shifted left, passing more cars, trying to keep a speedy pace of 90-100 km/h as I rounded the long left-hand bend that marked Petron C5 southbound. A lot of slower traffic was around, but there were enough gaps to overtake with. The insulting yellow glare burned brighter now; I would have been blinded if the light were scattershot HID from a no-projector headlamp assembly. The car was closing on my Jazz's tail until it was just three feet away---at 100 km/h.

Moving to the middle as I approached the bridge area, I made use of the large gaps between slower cars to keep my speed up. I braked first, signalled my maneuvers in advance, stepped down a gear and went past. The yellow light stuck to my tail, following me at a dangerously close distance because I had chosen the only free path through the slower traffic. It was seemingly intent on either racing me or crashing into my rear.

My right foot was almost instinctively burying itself deeper into the throttle as my speedometer read 115 km/h and climbing. I wanted to get away from this tailgating idiot.

Past the pedestrian footbridge, before the Heritage Park off-ramp, C5 finally became decongested of slower cars for a margin worth a good five car-lengths. The only other vehicle in front of me was a six-wheeler truck on the leftmost lane. Driving in the middle of the road with a car inches off my rear, I decided to put this to an end.

Aiming my steering wheel to the left, I fell in behind the light truck and gently pressed the brakes. The yellow light flashed past on my right. It came from a white ES-series Civic, with what looked like 17" black five-spoke wheels, full black tinting and a tinted plate holder. It revved its engine spitefully as it passed. As soon as it was clear, I moved back to the middle.

I watched this Civic deal with the slower traffic that awaited us as we made the final 500 meters to the SLEX on-ramp. Letting him pass was a blow to my pride, but when I watched the ES swerve maliciously around the slower cars I was almost happy to let him pass.

The mid-evening traffic awaited all of us as we merged into SLEX. I noticed the white ES forced its way into the middle of the road. Sticking to the rightmost lane anticipating an exit to Bicutan, I realized I had a chance to catch this tailgating boyracer in the act. Knowing it was unsafe, I whipped out my phone anyway and attempted to take photos of the ES' rear end twice. My phone's camera was simply too slow to process the image despite shooting in walking-pace traffic. I decided to key in the ES Civic's plate number instead.

The ES' rear plate read "XJJ 548" through the tinted plate holder.

If you encounter this moron on the road, steer clear. My blood is still boiling with frustration because the proud part of me thinks I lost our duel. But when I think about where exactly we were duking it out, on the open road, shared with many other motorists...maybe I was correct in letting the jerk pass.

Caveat emptor.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Zero-G love fills my head

Most people know me as a huge Gundam fan. However, even before I saw one frame of animation from the seminal Japanese mecha series, I had already seen and been astounded by the second most famous: The Super Dimension Fortress Macross of 1982.

At the time I saw it in 1995, I was still about twelve years old, and I had seen it as part of the heavily edited "trilogy" anime Robotech. Robotech, as you may know, is a patchwork made up of three totally unrelated anime (including Super Dimension Cavalry Southern Cross and Genesis Climber MOSPEADA), adapted and rewritten to become one continuous story. As good as Robotech was, I wanted to see how director Shoji Kawamori originally intended Macross to be.

Given my exposure to Robotech, it certainly was hard to recognize at first. I noticed it shared a lot with the original Mobile Suit Gundam series of 1979: a distinct late-1970s musical vibe, some dodgy animation compared to today's standards, and an enduring appeal. Music greatly defined Macross, and while Robotech pared down on Lynn Minmay's translated songs and introduced American 1980s battle themes, the original series has a lot of blaring battle horns and gives us the full gamut of Lynn Minmay's songs in all their aural glory, as sung by Mari Iijima. Her sheer volume of songs in this series alone could easily fill a short CD, or comprise 2/3 of a long one.

Macross' trademarks are its transforming VF-1 Valkyrie fighter planes, and they're still as amazing to watch as ever. But the real reason why Macross is so desirable is its love story---it takes as much importance as the space war drama.

The complex interplay between Valkyrie pilot/protagonist Hikaru Ichijo, pop singer Lynn Minmay and superior officer Misa Hayase really influenced me as an adolescent. Between them, all kinds of awkward situations conspire to keep lovers apart, or prevent them from being honest about their feelings, and we see the poignant consequences. In the instant death of the battlefield, we are taught to seize the day as it comes and live it as fully as we can. If Mobile Suit Gundam had mortality as its major humane element, Macross has 1980s-style romance...and really, really good music. So good, in fact, that it becomes a shock-and-awe weapon against the gigantic Zentraedi aliens. I kid you not.

I cannot recommend this classic TV series enough. It was a big part of me while growing up, and it still is today.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

HCP: Do I know you?

Lately I'm beginning to regret ever having returned to Honda Club of the Philippines.

Or should I refer to them as the Honda CULT of the Philippines?

Well whatever. When a club is made out of people who are so easily indoctrinated into thinking whatever Honda makes is automatically the best ever, that's kind of scary. While I like Honda as a brand, I'll be the first to admit not everything associated with them is automatically great. I get the feeling that if I speak out against Honda or its cars in any way I'll get hostile responses from the "cult."

In the span of time I was gone, the people in HCP have really changed. It's as if I barely know any of them. I'm currently reviewing if there's any advantage at all in staying active---the only thing that comes to mind are the wonderfully accommodating Audio people.

Sacrifice this.

I'm sick of observing the usual Holy Week rituals.

I'm sick of singing for my parish choir.

I'm sick of seeing people I would rather not see.

I'm sick of performing a thankless job.

I'll leave you to whatever makes you happy. Me, I want no part of it any longer.

What on earth happened to Maroon5?!

I remember buying Maroon5's first album "Songs About Jane" when practically no one else knew who they were. Though I distinctly remember calling it a poignant breakup album with only a few truly happy numbers, I listened to the cassette tape in my car day in and day out. The band's very distinctive, smart-but-listenable vibe and profoundly written lyrics caught my ear hook, line and sinker.

Almost five years since I first heard of them on the radio, I was beginning to wonder just what happened to them and where they went. Just when the waiting got a little unbearable, they released their new album called "It Won't Be Soon Before Long."

When I heard the first three singles...I could not believe my ears.

What happened to Maroon5? Gone were their rich melodies and lovingly crafted lyrics, replaced with a vapid mess that's as good as elevator music compared to their first album. Their new "artistic direction" basically dumbed down their music to the point where it went into my ears, barely recognizable and almost incomprehensible in its pop-oriented dullness.

Sorry guys. You just lost a big fan of your music.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Shopping for shoes of a different kind

I'm thinking too much again.

Disconnecting my brains, my overactive superego, is harder than I thought.

I wonder: just how did I manage to do that only a few weeks ago?
===

After letting go of the coilovers with me still undecided on what to prioritize on my Jazz, wear and tear basically picked what my next modification will be: wheels and tires.

Due to the Jazz's suspension design, it's getting tricky trying to pick out a wheel and tire package that won't introduce any problems, such as the dreaded rubbing at the rear fender liner once laden. The limitations of wheel offset mean that my choices in rims are actually rather limited.

Anyway, I've made my choice. The only problem is the money. The wheel-and-tire upgrade is a much more important and realistic modification, though, as I'm now pinching pennies from my salary to finance the purchase by the end of May. I hope.

When a flamboyant performer goes shy...

When love breaks up
When the dawn light wakes up
A new life is born
Somehow I have to make this final breakthrough...
Now!

I wake up, feel just fine
Your face, fills my mind
I get religion quick
'Cause you're looking divine
Honey you're touching something, you're touching me
I'm under your thumb, under your spell, can't you see?

If I could only reach you
If I could make you smile
If I could only reach you
That would really be a breakthrough...oh yeah

Break through these barriers of pain
Break through, to the sunshine from the rain
Make my feelings known towards you
Turn my heart inside and out for you now
Somehow I have to make this final breakthrough...
Now!

Your smile, speaks books to me
I break up, with each and every one of your looks at me
Honey you're starting something deep inside of me
Hone you're sparking something, this fire in me
I'm outta control, I wanna rush headlong into this ecstasy!

If I could only reach you
If I could make you smile
If I could only reach you
That would really be a breakthrough
If I could only reach you
If I could make you smile
If I could only reach you
That would really be a breakthrough...

- Queen, "Breakthru"

Monday, March 17, 2008

You've been gone a while

For some reason my blog hasn't been displaying on my computer for a while. I figured I should hold off on updates until I can actually see the thing again.

Summer is now upon us and it's taking its toll on me and my general health. The heat just saps away whatever energy I have left after hitting the gym at noontime. It's funny that now matter how hard I target my abs, doing crunches on the exercise ball, my gut just seems to grow and grow. Talk about a slowing metabolism.

The last week I've had horrid driving. Locked up my brakes, chirped my worn tires and guzzled a lot of gas. 10.8 km/L might not seem like guzzling to you, but in a Jazz that's ludicrous. The even more ridiculous thing is, just when I tried to take it easy tonight, I get this steel-blue B13 Sentra almost sideswiping me twice along SLEX. What's a guy to do?

Listen to Queen, I guess. I've been on a glam-rock trip the whole weekend and my spirits are kept raised high, despite the inevitable pull of gloom I get in the office and at SVMM. There are people I just do not want to get along with, despite seeing them on a daily or weekly basis...and a heady dose of Queen through in-ear headphones are just what the doctor ordered.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Envy? Jealousy? I wonder which one I've got

In today's First Friday Mass the priest had a very interesting homily. He brought up the seven capital sins, and of all of them, it was the lethal combination of pride and envy that drove the Pharisees to plot against Jesus Christ and kill him.

Pride we basically all know about, he mused, but there is some misunderstanding about what envy really is. Often we confuse it for jealousy, when in fact they are two very different things. "For all we know, jealousy can be a good thing," the priest said. "Jealousy can save marriages. If a man has a wife whom he sees meeting with other men, jealousy is the natural reaction. She should belong to him by virtue of their marriage, not to someone else."

The crucial difference between envy and jealousy is where it is directed. Jealousy is directed to the self, as in "what do they see in him/her that's not in me?" while envy is essentially a fancy way of saying "why is God unfair?"

In sum, the priest said, if pride's opposite is humility, envy's antithesis is contentment. If envy is wanting what you do not have, contentment is wanting what you already have.
===

Why am I talking about some pastor's homily? It's because it hit pretty close to home today.

Despite my previous agreement to buy Gustav's TEIN coilovers, I got signals that perhaps they were not for me. Not right now, at least. Gustav himself sent me an SMS and said he found my post on HCP about softening the Jazz's ride a little. He said his coilovers might not be what I was looking for, as they get very stiff when lowered past two inches. Besides, blowing a significant chunk of my savings for what is essentially "a little better than stock" ride quality (according to Gustav) probably isn't the smartest thing to do. I have to say he was right; I have yet to try out my JACU friends' TEIN-equipped rides to see for myself how much better they ride.

The itch to dress up my little Honda hamster is still there, but I have to be realistic about my capabilities. I'll also have to bite the bullet and save half my monthly salary for a while if I want anything done to the car.
===

It also hit home because after all these years I have to learn my lesson once and for all. My jealousy is unfounded because Denise does not belong to me, not in any capacity.

For a while now I've been mulling over the wisdom of dating her once a month. I fear if this keeps up, I will just end up wanting more than what she can give. Also I've gotten pretty sick of feeling jealous whenever I see her with some other guy. She's just that way, and I have to be willing to accept that.

She is my girl best friend, but perhaps it is about time I found someone else to take that mantle.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Mechanical temptation has beckoned yet again...

...and this time I've given in.

Last November I wrote about how tempting it was to buy parts for my Jazz. At the Jazz-City United EBs I'm the only guy who has an almost-completely stock ride. Not to say that the Jazz is a terrible car in stock form---I love it to bits---but there are a few areas where it could get better. It's no secret that my dad and sister find the Jazz's ride harsh, for instance.

So began my yearning for suspension modifications. According to fellow JACU members, even fitment of lowering springs already soothes the restless stock ride. I did my reading and learned that just fitting lowering springs on stock dampers will just not do, unless I want the stock dampers to go kaboom in a few months' time. Coilovers---a matched set of springs and dampers---are the best and most hassle-free way to go, but are very pricey.

Fast forward to tonight. I found Gustav, a moderator/acquaintance from HCP, selling his slightly used TEIN Basic Wagon coilover set for 2/3 the brand-new price. He and his wife were arguing about the ride height---he wanted to ride low, she wanted to ride high. He decided to refit his stock suspension as a compromise.

Long story short: I made him a deal and I'm on my way to owning them.

I'm about to blow a very large amount of money, so I'm a little nervous about the worth of this modification. My consolation comes in TEIN's solid reputation over the years.

I should take photos of my car's present ride height...and I can't wait until Monday.

What I learned from badminton...

I am very, very tired. The thing is, it's nothing work-related.

I've made a habit of hitting the gym at lunch time on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays to address my growing gut and my relative lack of fitness and verve around the Taraflex. Lately though, I've picked up one more opportunity to play badminton on Tuesday nights at Magallanes Village's Magdalena Park with Bong, an acquaintance from HCP and Jazz-City United.

The trouble with my first time playing there though was the lack of grip. Even my fresh gum-soled Mizuno Wave Smash RGs had trouble on the dusty wood parquet floor. That meant a lot of premature wear on the left foot's inner portion on what are essentially four-day-old shoes, as I tried lunging around on the slippery court. My soles and left ankle got so sore as a result.

That did not stop me from working on my leg power at the next day's gym session, though. And when the day was done, I played a lot of rounds on Sheridan Badminton Center's Taraflex courts, which my legs and feet missed very badly. Even after just two weeks at the gym, I could notice my old zest returning as I moved around better on court.

I learned a little life lesson while playing last Wednesday. I found I had success at net play, drop shots and pushes. This was different from my usual big-hitting "clearing, driving and smashing" play style. Perhaps we could apply this in real life.

"Ang badminton, parang buhay. Hindi lahat nadadaan sa gigil at pwersa."

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Back to shoes shopping

You may remember that 2007 was a particularly bad year for buying shoes and sneakers, at least in my book. Well, I've tried to rectify that with my first pair of sneakers in 2008: the Mizuno Wave Smash RG.

I bought this yesterday at Mizuno's showroom in Magallanes. They had a clearance sale and I was surprised to see their 2007 premier mid-cut badminton shoe selling for about 3/4 the initial price back then. While my dad was rummaging through their stocks of golf bags, I couldn't find my size in all their cheaper variants so I decided to pick this one up.

The Wave Smash RG actually isn't in my size; I got one that's the next size bigger. It's still superbly comfortable to wear, even on my strangely sized left foot.

I can't wait to bring this to the Taraflex and see how it does.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Testing, testing

The BBC Science and Nature website has a number of pretty good quizzes on personality and other mental/emotional matters. I took two of them.

Your answers suggest you are a Realist

  • Loyal and steady workers who meet deadlines
  • Believe in established rules and respect facts
  • Think of themselves as mature, stable and conscientious
  • May appear too logical or tough-minded and forget their impact on other people

More about Realists

Realists are loyal to the people around them and work hard to keep their promises. They are honest and straightforward with others and expect the same in return. Realists believe in standard procedures and will only support change when there is a demonstrable benefit.

Realists respect factual information, which they store up to use when making decisions. This group likes to have time to think quietly and carefully before taking action.

These extremely productive people like to be occupied in their leisure time with pursuits such as craftwork, hiking or reading.

In situations where they can't use their talents or are unappreciated, Realists may become obsessed with schedules, critical of others or have trouble trusting other people to get the job done properly. Under extreme stress, Realists may complain loudly that events have taken a turn for the worse and predict negative outcomes.

Realists typically only share their opinions or personal experiences with trusted friends.

Realist Careers

Realists are attracted to jobs where decision making based on factual knowledge and experience is required.


Adultery

Results

Your scored 8 out of a possible 20.

You rate as: Medium risk promiscuity - 7 to 14 points

This group have promiscuous tendencies though they have control over these impulses. They might be more self-absorbed than average, can tend to ignore the feelings of others and will have limited social and personal conscientiousness. However they value and rely on their partner and are aware of the risk of giving up all they have in their relationship by succumbing to their desires.

You do not rate as: Low risk promiscuity - 0 to 6 points

Responsible, dependable, caring and happy with their own lot. They will not look outside of the relationship for their thrills and do not rely on novelty to give themselves the high of being in love. They have greater satisfaction, a greater degree of investment in the relationship and a lack of perceived alternatives - they look only to their partner for all the benefits of a loving relationship.

You do not rate as: High risk promiscuity - 15 to 20 points

People in this bracket will have a tendency towards excitement, novelty and risk-taking, seeking these out through high-octane activities (from skydiving to working on the trading floor) as well as meeting new people. They will seek arousal and pleasure as a result of brain chemistry: dopamine (the pleasure chemical) is released when faced by a novel or challenging situation. They might be impulsive, responding easily to external stimuli and tend to view others as play things, generally not taking life very seriously. They might also have high testosterone levels which would account for an elevated sexual drive - testosterone also makes people more determined which can explain why so many politicians and people in power have affairs.