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.

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.





Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Off the deep end yet again

I guess I never learn.

Even after two failed attempts, a number of boyfriends and almost seven years between us, I am still trying my luck with Denise. I am still telling her that she's the one I want to spend my time with. I am still taking my chances.

And...I'm probably still asking more than what she can give me.

Tough.

Keeping a leash on my inner boyracer, part deux

Ever since the run-in with the tailgating XJJ 548, I've taken a little time to step back and think my driving style through.

I've been driving for eight years already and I've had my share of thrills and spills while at it. While I don't deny that I like driving fast, the undue attention that it attracts from idiotic boyracers on the road just isn't worth it.

When I posted my story on a few forum websites I frequent, I got a number of responses. Some applauded me for just moving out of the way; others smote the speeding ES and let karma work its magic on it and its driver; still others criticized me and my driving.

One of the best responses I saw read: "The other guy was wasting his gas and you'd be wasting yours if you went along with his game. Pride is cheaper than gasoline these days." How true, I thought. If I can't police or control the idiots that just so happen to share the road with me, I might as well just change what I can.

I've pulled the driver's seat on the Jazz a little farther away from the wheel than before, to help support my right thigh and knee on longer journeys (as the Jazz doesn't have lumbar support, nor an adjustable seat squab angle). I've forced myself to learn to be a more considerate driver and travel at lower speeds. Best of all, I've focused my attention more to the great music playing on my speakers than the idiots and their equally idiotic driving I see on the road.

My newfound "relaxed" driving mode still needs some work, but I feel the benefits already.