about the talking fish

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Writer. Wheelman. Occasional DIY mechanic. Walking collection of hang-ups. Hopeless romantic. Old-school. Analog soul in a digital world. I am all of these things and more.

Thursday, 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. :)