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, December 31, 2009

Spring cleaning

I talk about getting my own place all the time nowadays but honestly I have no idea if I already know how to actually own my own place. Owning is a given if you've paid for it of course, but by "owning" I mean the upkeep and maintenance of a house.

If I'm ever going to start somewhere, I should start with what I already have: my room.

The perennial problem with me and my room is dust. My sinuses easily get sore from the feces of dust mites, and there's just too darn much of the stuff. It doesn't help that dust mites and I share one thing in common: a liking for paper. I'm a bit of a pack rat when it comes to old magazines, especially - I cannot let go of them immediately.

So December 30 saw me spending most of the day in my room, conducting my own version of spring cleaning. Out with the dusty magazines and sinusitis-inducing dust, and in with a clean room. I was suprised how much stuff I had removed and how heavy all those old issues of Autocar ASEAN and Top Gear weighed. Even with a dust mask on, however, by the time I was almost finished my sinuses eventually gave in and released a torrent of mucus and a storm of sneezes.

My room is clean again...for now. Maybe it's also good for me to clean out all those remnants of my past, and perhaps move on to newer and better things to learn from.

Happy New Year, everyone.

Monday, December 28, 2009

2009 was a good year for...

Car modification. The mods themselves were few and far between, but their utility made a very big difference. Already I can say the Recaro SRD seats and BRIDE RO-type seat rails are the single best modification I'd ever done to Aibo, as they increased my comfort greatly and laid out a solid foundation for developing my driving technique on the racetrack. However, I am most proud of how I did a lot of these modifications myself.

Watching Formula 1 racing. 2009 will forever be remembered as the year where the traditional Ferrari vs. McLaren rivalry took to the back burner, replaced by new blood filling the podium steps in the form of Red Bull Racing and Brawn GP. While I am happy that Jenson Button is now finally the world driver's champion, I am equally impressed at how the leveled playing field has shown the talents of so many drivers who are championship material themselves, notably Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber.

Participating in racing. It's no secret that I love cars and I love driving them virtually in video games such as Gran Turismo and Forza Motorsport 2. Driving on a real racetrack on a trackday, however, beats the pants out of that. 2009 was one of the most fulfilling years for me as a driver because I picked up the kind of confidence that I never would've had if I stayed driving on the streets, culminating in a personal-best 59.14-second lap time around Subic International Raceway. The pungent smell of burnt rubber while dashing at 120 km/h...ahhh.

Singing. While my participation in choirs has waned a little, due to the departure of my mentor and friend Nelson Albano, I've expanded into a new area as a wedding singer. By no means am I the best at it just yet; all my gigs have been amateur ones. I relish the chance to become better, though.

Video games. After eight years of soldiering on without one, I finally landed a hand-me-down PlayStation 2 from my cousin JB. This time I decided to do things the right way and bought all my games legitimately. In all that time however, the PS2's game library has never shown signs of slowing down. It still has lots of great games on sale and it's very reliable as a console, unlike the frustratingly fragile Xbox 360.

Relationships. Every day I spend with Mav, I seem to be breaking a record for the longest relationship I have had yet. We have our spats and arguments, but I can't see myself in love with somebody else - cheesy perhaps but it's the absolute truth.

Priorities. It's hard to say if I'm successful at this yet but I've held out on spending on myself to save for a long-term investment purchase: a condominium unit of my own. There's still a long way to go before I can call myself independent, but I think I'm on the right track.

2009 was a bad year for...

Car clubs and forums. I've basically sworn off most of the car clubs I've participated in because there are people who either cannot admit that they are wrong, or cannot see past their huge egos. My only remaining car club is HCP and I have no plans of involving myself with any more.

Exercise and fitness. For the second year running, my fitness has gotten progressively worse. While I was able to get myself involved early in the year, my changing work assignments have shot down any plans of keeping a healthy exercise routine. I'm heavier and fatter than ever, and I'm beginning to think that perhaps pumping iron isn't all that it's cracked up to be. I weighed my lightest when I was aerobically active. It doesn't help that my metabolism isn't as quick as it used to be, as well.

Work. As much as I was complaining about Barclays, my current internal assignments are all fish-out-of-water things that have dealt me quite the amount of pain and frustration trying to adjust. No matter how nice the people are, the work just doesn't suit me as well as it used to. I've lost most of my motivation for work, although I know I should be grateful that I even have a job.

Personal websites. For the most part I haven't been able to update this blog as frequently as I would have liked, nor have I paid much attention to my Multiply account. I guess I've just been too busy.

People and things that came to an end. Patrick Swayze, Michael Jackson, Farrah Fawcett, Brittany Murphy - all of them died this year. A few other things bit the dust too, such as T3 magazine.

Calamities. Typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng dumped the equivalent of one month's rain in one September day. Enough said. Some kids are currently spending their holidays with at least a few inches of floodwater in their homes. And if that wasn't enough, Mayon Volcano is also rearing its ugly lava-spewing head as I write this.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Christmas of exhaustion

I guess I really am getting older. Not only has Christmas lost its characteristic "spark" as a holiday, but 2009's yuletide celebrations have also seen me in my poorest state of health yet. Between consecutive parties, lots of food and not enough sleep, and even a wedding the morning after Christmas Day, I felt like I could collapse and tremble at any time had my will not kept me on my feet. Naps have quickly become my best friend to alleviate my sleep debt.

This year I can also say that I've pretty much "graduated" from gifts. They're a welcome occurrence but I didn't really expect to receive anything. That said, I got a few nice trinkets. I was perhaps much more concentrated on giving gifts rather than receiving them this year, though.
Besides I have such a huge mess in my room now because of so much stuff crammed into it.

Maybe this year's Christmas losing its "spark" has helped me grow even just a little bit. Perhaps I've come to appreciate the season more for what it truly is rather than what people say it should be. Who knows, really.

A belated but meaningful Christmas to all!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

What? It's Christmas already?

Christmas is only six days away.

I don't feel it for some reason.

The cold is there, the ridiculous amounts of food have been served, the bad traffic is present, the people doing their last-minute shopping are obvious. Yet I feel so detached from the celebrations, as if Christmas itself is still a month or two away.

Maybe I'm tired, or maybe I've just become a bit jaded.

On this new frontier...what 'bout my star?

True friends of mine know that I am a sucker for the anime "The Super Dimension Fortress Macross" from 1982. The mix of space warfare, transforming planes and robots, an engaging love story and a huge slug of J-pop music made it an instant classic.

Twenty-five years later, Shoji Kawamori and Studio Nue made a brand-new series set about 50 years forward: "Macross Frontier." And dare I say, this is even better than the original.

"Frontier" builds on trademark Macross fare and gives it its own spin with a new direction. It's undeniable that the graphics and animation have improved a lot, thanks to computer-generated footage of the VF-25 Messiah fighter planes in action against the insect-like Vajra alien force. However, the real triumph of "Frontier" over "SDF Macross" lies in its characters.

The main love triangle plays out between pilot/student and former Kabuki actor Alto Saotome, amnesiac aspiring singer Ranka Lee, and the famous pop idol, Sheryl Nome, dubbed the "Fairy of the Galaxy." Interestingly, neither of the two girls resorts to disrespect or catfights. At the core of their relationship is a deep friendship and respect for each other, most evident in how Sheryl directly inspires Ranka to pursue her dream. It just so happens their friendship has Alto as a very huge part of it - he sees through Sheryl's fame and Ranka's clumsiness.

My favorite character however has to be sniper Michael Blanc. An incorrigible flirting playboy, he is actually the most perceptive and sensitive of the feelings building up between our main characters. He challenges the conviction of Ranka's singing ambitions, proves Alto's mettle in joining the private military company SMS, and aids Sheryl when her health and fortunes deteriorate.

As great as the music in "SDF Macross" was, "Frontier" just blows it out of the water. Since there are two pop idols in the series there is a much greater spectrum of songs on tap. Sheryl's sultry, sexy yet emotional high-BPM performance, sung by May'n, is tempered by Ranka Lee's innocent, bubbly but longing pop melodies, performed by Megumi Nakajima. Almost everything is composed by now-legendary anime musician Yoko Kanno, too.

I cannot recommend this title enough. Don't be put off by the eye candy. "Macross Frontier" is a masterfully crafted show.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

When in doubt, FLAT OUT!

Finally the Team Flat Out trackday pushed through. Unlike the previous April trackday, slightly cloudy skies greeted us at the track and a steady breeze kept us all cool and comfortable.

Also unlike April where we were about 30 participants in all, this trackday saw just 10 of us hooning around Subic International Raceway's short track. That allowed for more practice in consecutive hot laps and a greater chance of improving on my previous best time of 1:04.4.

Our machines were all Hondas and Toyotas. Rommel brought his GE6, while Justin and I both drove GDs and the rest had EKs in various high states of tune. For the Toyota camp, Russell had his AE101, while Arby brought his rare supercharged brown AE82 five-door hatchback.

Edward and JP were on hand to give me lots of tips and advice. They were extremely helpful in building my confidence especially under full-commitment braking, and drove home the point that I should "show the car who's boss" as JP often mentions on the Honda Club Philippines forums.

After a bus collided with Aibo's rear end last year, I had become traumatized by full-commitment braking, but I learned that on the track it's no concern and that it was key to everything. My half-hearted heel-and-toe on public roads ruined my technique too. Perhaps I should just stick to throttle-blipping and brake normally on the daily commute.



On my first run at 9:00 am I virtually duplicated my previous best with a 1:04.21. The times kept tumbling as the day went by, however.

JP told me Aibo had good balance and a predictable nature, with its low power output making it an easy car to drive and learn. Aibo's Toyo Proxes 4 all-season tires gained and lost their grip in a nicely progressive manner, too. After driving it at full commitment for three laps with me riding shotgun, showing me all the markers and tricks, he said a 58-second lap was possible.

By 2:00 pm I had shaved three seconds. I was rounding SIR at one minute flat. While the others cheered my success, JP and Edward egged me on.

Thirty minutes later I was breaking the 59-second barrier! I was starting to believe JP's 58-second premonition.

Rommel sat at the timing desk to cheer me on. He had also improved greatly from his previous -best 1:03. By the end of the day he was bagging one-minute laps too.


Finally at 3:15 pm I logged my fastest ever series of laps. They were consistently in the 59-second range, but one lap saw me very close to JP's prediction.

My personal best is now 59.14 seconds!

That lap time took me totally by surprise. Perhaps I could have broken the 58-second barrier, but at that point my front tires were past their best and were suffering slight understeer from the heat of running. In any case it was better than my wildest dreams as my initial goal was to shave just three seconds off - I almost doubled that!

In the end though, Rommel and I thoroughly enjoyed this event and we left at 5:00 pm satisfied. It really felt like a gathering of true petrolheads, with no hidden agendas, no need to show off and no egos to protect. The track and the lap times kept us all honest. Our enemies were only ourselves and our previous best lap times.

After all the bullshit that's flown about in the car clubs I've gotten myself involved in, this was a very welcome change.


My new friend Russell (center on the photo above) was amazed with Aibo's potential. Equally amazing was how Aibo still clocked 12.769 km/L on the entire trip, all hot laps at Subic and 120 km/h NLEX/SCTEX cruising included.

I just cannot wait until the next trackday. Edward had already extended an invitation for me to join Team Flat Out on the RYWB (run what you brung) time-attack competition rounds.

We'll see. The next step for me is to become consistent as a sub-minute driver.

Friday, December 04, 2009

For the love of the track

Typhoon Ondoy wrecked our previous plans back in September, but tomorrow seems to be as good a day as ever to proceed with the Team Flat Out trackday. Since my first crack at Subic International Raceway in April, I've been itching to join another trackday, practice my skills and perhaps cut a few tenths (if not whole seconds) off my personal best time of 1:04.4.

Instead of upgrading anything mechanical on Aibo, the hip-hugging Recaro SRD seats were my answer to improvement. I wanted to increase my skill to their limits first, before becoming reliant on lowered suspension, power adders or trick tires --- or even higher-friction brake pads.

I took today off to take care of what I considered essential preparations for the trackday. Last September, Aibo already got a transfusion of Royal Purple oil, so today was dedicated to a flush and refill of coolant and brake fluid, the latter upgraded from DOT3 to DOT4. Afterward I decided to become independent with respect to headgear, so I got myself an HJC CL-14 full-face helmet in solid silver.

After spending the better portion of a day in shops and in bad Metro Manila traffic Aibo and I are probably as ready as we'll ever be. I'm just a little sad Mav won't be there with me because she has class.

Now for the not-so-little matter of waking up at 4:30 and getting to Subic at 7 am...

Sunday, November 29, 2009

A wedding singer is born...

It seems the feathers are piling up on my hat as a singer.

The wedding went well, although not without frustration. There were last-minute changes to the song lineup and the singers which irked Ate Maya, Ate Edith and me to no end. A friend of the couple actually approached us at the choir balcony with chords to a song in hand. We were surprised and irked because it was totally uncoordinated, but we let the woman sing her guts out anyway.

As the designated chauffeur, I was also faced with the hassle of having to find a decent spot to park at the reception. The Oasis is a good place, I'll give it that, but parking there is a bitch. I reluctantly had to leave Aibo's keys to the valet because I was threatening to leave.

There goes my beginning as a wedding singer. I'm hoping this isn't the end. Probably not: Aileen's wedding is on December 26 and I'll probably sing there as well.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

"Not for everyone," huh.

And "if you're everyone then everyone sucks," eh.

If being a purist means having to contend with blown egos, spending contests and hardparkers, I'd gladly be part of "everyone."

Thanks for the invite, but you can have your JDM. I don't want it. I have bigger fish to fry.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Deep blue something

This morning as I drove to work at 6:30 am, I saw a pleasant surprise climbing up the C5 off-ramp. I was about to pass my old steed WHH687, my 1999 SX8 Honda City 1.5 EXi.

It had been neglected by the new owner, at least cosmetically. I saw only its left side and rear; the rubbing strip had come off the left rear door exposing the mounting holes beneath. However, WHH687 was still mechanically sound. It was nice to know that my trusty, wieldy SX8 was still purring along without any smoke from the tailpipe.

The encounter was all of five seconds, but it was enough for me. It's nice to see you again, old pal.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Are YOU worthy of your power?

We as forum moderators have power. We have been entrusted the power to silence, the power to redirect attention, and the power to mediate in conflicts.

But are we deserving of such power? The reasons why we are moderators, I believe, come to the fore and are tested when we are forced to deal with offenders.

I've had brushes with forum mods and admins who fancy themselves on a power trip and mete out warnings and bans without giving the offending party some slack. Said mods and admins even dole out warnings when they themselves have been reminded by a fellow member that they are out of line on another forum.

Personally, I don't think we are moderators simply to suspend or ban offending members. Rather, we will be much better at our duty if we can get them to stay on while making them remember the rules of the forum.

That I believe is our ultimate goal. And I became a moderator again precisely because of that reason.

It would be much, much easier to mete out a suspension or ban, but it is much harder to grant an offender a second chance and a shot at reform. It's also the humane thing to do.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Time to rebuild, perhaps

Things used to be a lot simpler back in the day. People met online in forum websites purely for discussions' sake. People logged in, made friends, networked, reached out to other friends.

Nowadays there just has to be the odd profiteering gesture thrown in. There just has to be the odd fragile ego that has to be crushed by nothing more than an honest remark. There just has to be the proverbial bad apple in the basket making life miserable for everybody else.

This is the year when I realized I've had my fill of that. Frankly I'm sick of it already. I'm not going to break away and make my own forum because let's face it, that's just going to lead to the very same thing I was complaining about.

Perhaps this is the long-overdue signal for me to get off my ass, stop it with the Internet and just look for a quiet hobby I can enjoy by myself without worrying about inflated egos and over-commercialization. It turns out I had one all along.

After a year of doing other things, I found myself going back to my work-in-progress, my MG Zeta Plus C1 model. I had planned on painting it with my own colors, but somehow I never got it done because I got discouraged by a few mistakes I had made with putty and painting. Funny enough it took a power outage for me to get back to doing it. I just ordered a new kit to replace my botched parts, while I continued putting Tamiya Fine Surface Primer L on the assembled parts.

So far here's what I have to show after 60% of the kit has had primer sprayed on.




Sunday, October 25, 2009

Face-off: Heaven & Eggs vs. Conti's

In the green and yellow corner, we have Conti's. This is the pastry shop and restaurant famous for its long lines and cakes. It almost needs no introduction.

In the yellow and blue corner, we have Heaven & Eggs. Relatively soft-spoken compared to Conti's, its only recent claim to fame is its Michael Jackson-themed menu offerings - apart from that, they offer a menu festooned with pancakes, omelettes and various other viands.

How do these two very different establishments fare as restaurants? Mav and I decided to find out.

First we went to Conti's in Serendra. I decided to order their Fish and Chips with Honey Mustard Sauce, while Mav went for Grilled Pork Chops.

Fish and Chips with Honey Mustard Sauce

Grilled Pork Chops

Surprisingly we were very disappointed with both. The honey mustard was the definition of the slang term "weak sauce" - French's makes more flavorful stuff - while the fish used wasn't really suited for such a dish. The only saving graces were the expertly done fries. Mav didn't find the pork chops all that special either. They certainly weren't the kind of viands you'd come specifically to a restaurant for.

Next we went to Heaven & Eggs in Eastwood City. I wanted to try something different, so I got Thai Chicken and Vegetable Omelette, while Mav tried the best-selling Manila Spareribs.

Thai Chicken and Vegetable Omelette
(served with potato saute and a side order of pancakes)


Manila Spareribs

The omelette was wonderful. It had a rich taste, but all the herbs and flavors worked well together as one dish and complemented each other. Mav and I loved the side-order pancakes - they were milky sweet and smooth, good to go even without maple syrup. The spareribs were just as great. Succulent and cooked to near-perfection, the only way H&E could top these was to make the meat so tender that it falls off the bone. We walked out of the restaurant pleasantly surprised at how satisfied we were with their food.

Heaven & eggs doesn't seem to be an oxymoron after all. We have no idea who Conti is, but perhaps he or she should stick to making pastries and cakes and give the restaurant bit a rest.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Before it's too late

Control is an illusion, you infantile egomaniac. Nobody knows what's gonna happen next: not on a freeway, not in an airplane, not inside our own bodies and certainly not on a racetrack with 40 other infantile egomaniacs.

- Dr. Claire Lewicki, "Days of Thunder" (1990)

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Where skewers and chopsticks meet

For this month Mav and I decided to try something different. I've always been curious about Nanbantei of Tokyo in Greenbelt 3. As might be obvious, this is a Japanese restaurant, but its fare isn't exactly your run-of-the-mill tempura and sushi fare. Instead, Nanbantei is a yakitori joint, the Japanese equivalent of the grillery.

Skewers of meat and vegetables are grilled by the cooks and served to you as they come, hot off the grill. We tried the "Bestsellers" variety platter and found the chicken negima especially appetizing. Most of them had asparagus skewered on them and that vegetable was a natural fit with yakitori. Everything was served with miso paste.

This is also where Mav and I finally tasted our very first yaki-onigiri, the grilled version of the famous Japanese rice ball wrapped in nori seaweed like a burger. It was as filling as it was delicious.

It was here that Mav also learned how to use chopsticks! She learned pretty quickly. All she needs is more practice handling the harder foods...such as rice.




All in all, a great date. Nanbantei's cuisine is a little salty but very delicious.

Six years later

I'm tired of:
- Bruised egos.
- Posers.
- People who can't follow rules.
- People who post nonsense.
- Bullies.
- People who have no taste whatsoever.
- Moneyed folk with more purchasing power than ability.
- Having to apologize for doing the right thing.

The long and short of it is this: I'm tired of car clubs.

I survived Ondoy and Pepeng

By now you've probably been inundated with the news of these two typhoons bringing a couple month's worth of rain in the span of six days. As a result so many places are flooded, in some cases without any hope of subsiding until Christmas at the earliest.

We were one of the lucky ones. Just down my block, people had their houses at least knee-deep in flood.

I won't add any more to this as most of its information is already available with a simple click of the mouse or a jab at the remote. If you got lucky, kindly help out in whichever way you can. There are lots of people that need it.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Flattery will get me singing...or vice versa

This Sunday morning I wasn't expecting anything out of the ordinary. In my head I knew that I just had to go to the usual 9am mass and sing, then go home afterward.

After the mass was done, Ate Edith pulled me aside and told me that someone wanted me to sing for her daughter's wedding.

It came as a complete surprise. I was really, really flattered, but a little embarrassed at the same time because I had no idea if I was good enough to sing for anybody's wedding day.

So we talked it over and I was supposed to sing Gary Valenciano's "How Did You Know" at the Mary the Queen Parish in Greenhills sometime in November. The mother, Lorna Cruz, sent me the song via Bluetooth so I could practice it.

I didn't know I had developed such a reputation just by singing at mass. Here I was, disillusioned with my job, trying to start out an unknown quantity as a wannabe automotive journalist, and yet I had overlooked one of the talents I was truly highly regarded for.

Color me thankful I guess.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes





I love you Mav! Happy anniversary to us, and many more to come!

Five hundred twenty-five thousand
Six hundred minutes,
Five hundred twenty-five thousand

Moments so dear
Five hundred twenty-five thousand

Six hundred minutes
How do you measure, measure a year?


In daylights, in sunsets, in midnights
In cups of coffee
In inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife

In five hundred twenty-five thousand

Six hundred minutes
How do you measure a year in the life?

How about love? How about love?
How about love? Measure in love

Seasons of love
Seasons of love


Five hundred twenty-five thousand

Six hundred minutes

Five hundred twenty-five thousand
Journeys to plan

Five hundred twenty-five thousand

Six hundred minutes

How do you measure the life
Of a woman or a man?


In truths that she learned
Or in times that he cried

In bridges he burned

Or the way that she died


It's time now to sing out

Tho' the story never ends

Let's celebrate

Remember a year in the life of friends


Remember the love
(Oh you got to, got to)
Remember the love
(Remember the love)
Seasons of love (Measure measure you life in love)
Seasons of love

Seasons of love


- The cast of "RENT," Seasons of Love

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

"You're like a bad dream gone wild!"

That was Mav explaining her love-hate relationship with Longchamp bags.

We were at Rustan's last Saturday night and she was trying to see the merit of owning the genuine article as opposed to a Greenhills knock-off. No merit in it, I think; it escapes both our minds why these bags are almost obscenely expensive. However Mav gets sleepless nights over these Longchamps.

When you're expected to pay PhP7,000 through the nose for a measly purse, and PhP34,000 through all bodily orifices for a decent-sized bag, you know there's definitely something wrong with the world.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Signs

The week before last, I met Pao, a fellow poster from JACU and JDMUnderground Philippines. He happened to work at the same building as I did. When I asked what kind of work he did, he said he was from the Human Resources department of Summit Media, publishers of "Top Gear Philippines."

Last Thursday, on my way to the grocery I walked into Botchi Santos, one of Top Gear Philippines' more popular writers from his "Wrong Car Right Car" section where each month he helps someone pick out the vehicle they like, with pros and cons. No doubt Botchi had come from the studios of the radio station Jam 88.3, as he hosts an hour-long radio segment there about cars.

On the way back to work, after buying oatmeal, I happened to share the elevator with a guy holding a contract for Summit Media. Curious guy that I am, I looked over and saw the usual details: performance evaluation, regularization policy, etc.

These are probably signs that I should move on from my present post. I feel like I've lost my groove here. Sure I'm a certified software test engineer but that hasn't really spelled the difference for me. I haven't had a bigger paycheck; heck I didn't even get promoted, and those that did were disappointed with their raises. Ever since I left Barclays I haven't been enjoying work either.

My dad was always egging me on since my latter days in college that I should try to work as a writer in the automotive industry, since that's what I really like. Lately I've taken his words seriously. You never know, perhaps my professional bliss resides just four floors down from my present location.

I don't know where to start though. My portfolio as a writer is pretty much zero for now, if you don't count my blog, my mecha reviews at MAHQ and the thousands of posts I've made on car forum websites. Mav was kind enough to do a little research for me and said Summit Media didn't have any writer openings for Top Gear Philippines. Maybe I should just get out and do my own writing for now, just to build up my credibility, until that opening arrives.

Fingers crossed.

Diligence?

It's officially a holiday today but because my office is part of the BPO and Electronics segment, we're exempt from it. My lead was so diligent in letting me know over the weekend that yes there's work on Monday. So, scuppered long weekend plans and all, I did the morning bit, drove Aibo to work, and arrived at 7:45 am.

As of this writing I've been rotting in my seat for two and a half hours with nothing to do. Something's definitely wrong somewhere when your lead and all of your teammates are still not in when almost everybody else is, when there should be no traffic to worry about.

Hrmpf.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

FM is the new AM

I find that I'm listening to more radio nowadays.

I've been alternating between the old favorite Magic 89.9 and the relatively new kid on the block, Jam 88.3.

Magic in particular has prided itself on becoming a radio station known more for its DJs than its music, which frankly lacks variety and gets tedious to listen to. The thing is you won't listen to Magic for the music. I was too engrossed with Grace Lee and Mo Twister's morning discussions on "Good Times" and the pranks of the guys of "Boys' Night Out" to care. While they do have an artificial impetus going for listeners to stay tuned, especially in the case of "Good Times" where they give out huge moolah for remembering the minutiae of their shows for the week, Magic definitely has a working formula going.

On the times that I do want to listen to music, I switch to Jam. This station comes across as a breath of fresh air in a landscape choked with pop-rock garbage. Jam has heavily invested in becoming "an alternative to alternative," deviating slightly from the tired formula of pop-rock to bring audiences fresh new music by acts like Death Cab for Cutie, Sister Hazel, Red Jumpsuit Apparatus and Kings of Convenience. If my friend Gerald were to pick a radio station to follow, I'd bet Jam would be his pick. While Jam also offers discussions by the DJs, it's the music that sells it to me.

If both stations aren't broadcasting stuff I like listening to...there's always my CD and digital music collection to fall back on.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Lazy daisy

One of the things the package from Uncle Butch and Auntie Carole had inside it, aside from the usual clothes and foodstuffs, was JB's old PlayStation 2. It had been a while since my beloved PS1 (itself a hand-me-down from Tita Hedwig) bit the dust, and I was getting by using emulation to play my old PS1 favorites.

It's funny how late I am with the console gaming industry party nowadays. Two years since the PS3 came out, I just got my own PS2. Not that I'm complaining. I'd rather have a PS2 than an overheating XBox 360 or a PS3 starved of good games.

Seeing how late I obtained the PS2 I was concerned about getting games for it. I don't mind paying for the legit thing now, but if the games are too hard to find that's it for me right there. Surprisingly, DataBlitz's more popular branches have a healthy catalog of genuine PS2 games. I got Metal Gear Solid: The Essential Collection, and pretty soon I'll be getting Gran Turismo 4 and the Devil May Cry box set.

Suddenly I've rediscovered lazy Saturday afternoons.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Take me back!

On my final month with my current client I am beginning to miss working for Barclays.

Work has been in shambles lately, with overzealous, arrogant developers biting off more than they can chew, a process that's frankly worthless, test data so fragile it breaks down with one ill-advised action, and test scripts that are too damn long for their own good.

I'm not saying Barclays was without problems, but we were vastly better equipped to handle and avoid the shenanigans we're experiencing now.

According to friends I know, there's a chance Barclays might take us in again. Personally I'd jump at the chance if it meant returning to Internet Channels.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

So far July has been a month to forget.

Why do I have to fly
over every town up and down the line?
I'll die in the clouds above
and you that I defend, I do not love.

I wake up, it's a bad dream,
No one on my side,
I was fighting
But I just feel too tired
to be fighting,
guess I'm not the fighting kind.

Where will I meet my fate?
Baby I'm a man, I was born to hate.
And when will I meet my end?
In a better time you could be my friend.

I wake up, it's a bad dream,
No one on my side,
I was fighting
But I just feel too tired
to be fighting,
guess I'm not the fighting kind.
Wouldn't mind it
if you were by my side
But you're long gone,
yeah you're long gone now.

Where do we go?
I don't even know,
My strange old face,
And I'm thinking about those days,
And I'm thinking about those days.

I wake up, it's a bad dream,
No one on my side,
I was fighting
But I just feel too tired
to be fighting,
guess I'm not the fighting kind.
Wouldn't mind it
if you were by my side
But you're long gone,
yeah you're long gone now...

- Keane, "A Bad Dream"

===
If only more of my numerous bad days ended this way.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Celebrity and fame killed Michael Jackson

As a kid growing up in the 1980s, I idolized Michael Jackson. So much so that instead of being called by my real name I wanted people calling me "Michael" or "Mike" --- although my dad also supposedly named me after the Rolling Stones' Mick Jagger too, how true that is I don't really know. At four years old I used to dance with uncoordinated energy to his song "Bad." I used to think he could do no wrong, apart from that weird dance step of his that involves holding his crotch.

Then things started changing. He eventually became so far removed from the guy I used to look up to. It eventually became all about what misadventure he would get himself into next, no longer about his music --- which never really lost its luster as it still resonated with a sizable audience around the world. It's just that people found a new reason to watch Wacko Jacko's every move, and it was no longer constructive.

When documentaries aired in 2001 trying to explain Jackson's side, I found myself wanting to believe him. I wanted to believe that he and his siblings had been abused as a kid, that the fame-at-all-costs attitude of his dad robbed him of the chance to learn to live a normal childhood. But people kept pushing and insisting he was a weirdo to be feared. They insisted that apart from his extravagant stage persona and performances, he was good for nothing but an existence in a glass cage so all his strange behaviors could be seen for all the world to laugh at.

In the end, celebrity and fame snuffed out his life.

Shockingly I had already seen in the movie Music and Lyrics how a teenaged pop singing sensation (fictional as she may be) could have her humanity destroyed by fame at an early age, never to regain it. I am 100% sure that that was what happened to Michael Jackson.

As a teenager I used to aspire to become famous. Now I probably know better. The price of fame is just too high.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

White noise

As a writer, my one greatest weakness is that I suffer from the potential of giving people what Mao used to call "logorrhea." It's like loose bowel movement but with words instead of feces.

I am so jealous of people - songwriters, lyricists and poets, for instance - who can drive home their loaded point with the sparest of verses. Perhaps I'm more jealous of songwriters as I hardly read poetry anyway. It's amazing how the songs with the best and deepest emotional connections to our hearts are those that have the simplest lyrics paired with the most appropriate melody.

Other people have told me my talent is in explanation. Sometimes I get sick of it. As a speaker I am proud of it, but as a writer, there's no challenge in explaining things as best as I could in black and white. If I were a novel --- and I say this because there's no way I can be a song or poem ---I'd barely have turned any of my pages; if I were a magazine I'd barely have sold because I don't have a good angle.

Keane. Sugarfree. Vienna Teng. I envy them all, their profound lingual grasp of "less is more," their letting the music speak.

Arthur Golden. Bill Dare. Banana Yoshimoto. I envy them all, their grasp of "KISS" - keep it simple, stupid.

Maybe I have no mystique left to me because I'm all explained out. I'm all white noise, there but not there.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Look it up

Over the past few months I've become genuinely surprised, frustrated and annoyed at how lazy people have become searching the wealth of information the Internet has. Here we are, swimming in a veritable ocean of information, and yet people still keep asking the same dumb questions - persistently.

Worse, people are becoming gullible and believing all these myths circulated by email, forums and whatnot. They don't even realize that a lot of these said myths have already been tested and debunked.

I have to wonder: Am I the only one nowadays who can appreciate the value of "looking it up?" As a kid I was brought up by my dad to find the answers to my own questions. Back then I criticized him for taking what I thought was the easy way out of my nagging, but now I realize he was actually teaching me a very valuable lesson.

So those of you out there reading this: Before you nag other people with questions about what you don't know, let your fingers do some work for you. How hard is it to go to a search engine, type in a string of words into a one-line text field, and hit the Enter key afterward? You will not believe how much "work" people think you put in when you simply show them the results of your Internet search.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Lord Kamina goes on a CD-shopping spree

It's been a while since any anime got me this excited and pumped up.

Animax started airing GAINAX's Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann last month and I've been following it with fervor. As a Gundam fan I usually like my mecha anime cut from the "real robot" mold, but Gurren Lagann is undoubtedly an homage to the "super robot" anime of the 196os and 1970s, complete with impossible feats, ridiculous weapons and hot-blooded pilots shouting the names of their attacks before they do them.

2007's Gurren Lagann is notably the polar opposite of GAINAX's other, more popular opus, 1995's Neon Genesis Evangelion. That production was ultimately cold, depressing and apocalyptic - even director Hideaki Anno admitted that the production of Evangelion was part of his therapy. However, its flawed characters and their hang-ups, especially protagonist Shinji Ikari, resonated worldwide and catapulted it to mecha anime nirvana.

Gurren Lagann is different and more in keeping with GAINAX's earlier work, 1988's Aim for the Top! Gunbuster, with less women and hard sci-fi concepts. The titular robot runs on nothing but emotion and willpower, for crying out loud, and can sprout drills out of every part of its body - just witness the "Giga Drill Maximum" attack. Its charismatic chest-beating leader Kamina is no exception, sporting outrageous glasses, spouting epic quotes and barking his signature line "Who the heck do you think I am?!" The show runs deeper than the simplistic rock-and-roll introduction however, as there are three arcs to the 27-episode series that all bring with them their own overriding emotion. All of them are animated with the kind of visuals that would frankly look more at home in a movie than a TV anime, such is their quality and polish.

Mark my words: This feel-good series will be a mecha anime classic someday.
===

After a long spell of buying other things, I got around to expanding my music collection again. It's been months since I bought any CDs. This time I pulled out all the stops: I bought all the CDs I promised myself to buy on a Post-it note sometime last year. I went and bought CDs from Keane, Hoobastank, Death Cab for Cutie and Snow Patrol.

That's probably the most number of CDs I've bought in a trip to Music One. These should tide me over for a few more months...

Monday, June 08, 2009

Just when I was about to give up on car club forums...

...I get good "karma" from people who appreciate what I do.

After becoming a virtual persona non grata on a certain car club for speaking out what I believe, I had gotten disillusioned with car club forum websites and the airheads that reside in them. I'm glad I didn't give up on them entirely. Apparently FitFreak.net's members know how to recognize goodwill and good advice.

Maybe there's some point to me doing the Mr. Miyagi thing this long. As long as I can help, I'll do so.

Friday, June 05, 2009

"Internet Channels was here 2004-2009"

Every time someone got rolled off from Barclays, or resigned from Accenture entirely, it used to merit a stoppage of work and at least thirty minutes of drama, saying farewells and looking back on the good times. For my first couple of years there that used to be the case.

When people started to leave en masse however, that drama went away. Everyone just bit the bullet and accepted the hard truth: that the recession was taking its toll on our client and there just wasn't any work coming our way. I used to think getting rolled off at Barclays meant that someone had screwed up, or someone didn't perform up to par. This time that just wasn't the case. We didn't fail the client. The client failed us.

For the longest time I had imagined how my own final day at Barclays would turn out like. I imagined that instead of going through the dramatic rituals, I'd just disappear in the background with only the leads knowing that I had indeed rolled off from the project. Hahaha. How prophetic. I never thought that's how I ended up leaving Barclays. One difference though: Everyone knew.

Looking back, I don't think I'd have done my final day any differently. It was in effect also the final day of the Internet Channels test team as we knew it. So few of us would remain behind. I decided to make a "shrine" out of the old nameplates that we still had lying around and slap them onto an unused whiteboard. Those with missing nameplates we just filled in with a felt-tip pen.

Jona told us there was a glimmer of hope for our team, though. We might just go back to Barclays by October if everything goes to plan. We'll see. I'm not really keeping my hopes up. I figure three years in Barclays is enough. I needed a change anyway.

It was fun while it lasted. Thanks, my friends.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

"Don't fall in love with your car"

I spent the week without Aibo as I sent him into my friend Butch Ortiz's shop, CrossFive Auto, for rust removal around the rear hatch area. This rust sadly seems to be the legacy of that major rear-end crash Aibo had with a bus one year ago.

When Aibo came out of that crash sporting a new rear bumper and rear deck spoiler, people were amazed that he looked much better than ever. Unfortunately things weren't so rosy on the inside. One day while hosing down Aibo's dirt, I had noticed the water from the hose seeping into the same rear bumper everybody adored. Sure enough, when I dismantled the rear interior trim panels, I spotted a few rust spots on the welds. When Butch's crew took a closer look, they found even more rust around the lower lip of the rear hatch.

Fast-forward to today.

My dad had spotted me wrenching away at Aibo's misaligned tie-down cargo hooks this morning and asked me about the particulars of the repair job I'd just had done. He figured out the rust was due to last year's Friday the 13th crash. Afterward, he told me that once a car figures in an accident, I should be prepared to sell it. He repeated his advice: Don't fall in love with your car. Treat it as you would a pair of jeans. If even crash-free cars sprout rust, Papa said, what fate awaits those that have had a bus-sized suppository rammed up their rears?

Unfortunately I'll have to be stubborn on this one.

In the back of my mind, I had already decided that Aibo would figure in my life as my car for at least seven more years. I don't want to replace his GD1 Jazz frame with a brand-new GE6 Jazz; I was never as smitten by the GE's Joan Rivers-style stretched facelift looks as I was with the lovably cute GD, and it's just not enough of an improvement anyway. He is also my ongoing lesson in becoming an adept DIY mechanic, having had so many parts installed to it with dust and grime on my hands and sweat all over my brows and shirts. And have I not already mentioned that Aibo was my very first trackday experience?

Couple that with a shaky, uncertain post-recession future and my preference to prioritize housing over a new car, and the decision to keep Aibo, rust, body filler, warts and all, is a no-brainer.

Sorry Papa. I already own my dream car, and I want to run it till I have a family of my own.

Waging war with the nouveau riche

For a few months now I've been frustrated with the way the PJACU forums have turned into.

The place has turned into some sort of ridiculous place of worship, where the main virtue is how quickly and how lavishly this husband-and-wife team can blow their money on their cars and their other toys. Every month they have either big-ticket mods or shiny new cameras - which is a little too frequent, to be honest - and with every new acquisition, they go on a massive show-and-tell rampage to wow everybody else. Just when I wondered where these people get their money to finance their various "hobbies," I was aghast at learning of their willingness to go into debt just so they could show off. They have a kid, for crying out loud! Even worse, every post they make just seems to allude to their next purchase.

Recently things came to a head when the husband bragged about his plans of getting a brand-new Nissan 370Z come June...some sort of birthday present. The same guy bragged about the cars he and his family members had owned over the hears.

I had had enough. I got flustered and frustrated about how things had gone so far away from the club that I originally joined. PJACU was about showing off the cars and their modifications, sure, but it's also about trying to help fellow Jazz and City owners with much more important things such as maintenance, repairs and do-it-yourself tips. Seeing PJACU turn into this brag-to-the-heavens pissing contest is a major disappointment and it frankly just put me off.

I tried contacting my friends and some of the moderators about it and while some of them were willing to hear me out, ultimately these efforts were as useful as busting a padlock with newspaper. While I remained active, I was no longer enjoying my time there.

Perhaps it's about time I moved on. As much as I want to chew these two idiots out for their deplorable habits with money, and consequently the stinking bad example they're setting for fellow PJACU members, how they spend their money and get themselves deeper into debt is admittedly none of my business.

My goodness, their loss of taste and sensibility is irritating though. Ugh. I vow never to turn into them.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Final days with Barclays

I haven't been blogging as frequently as I should. A lot of developments have happened over the past couple weeks.

The biggest and most important one is this: After three years, I am now parting with the friends I've made at the Accenture Barclays Unit. Due to the recession, there just hasn't been much work for the Internet Channels team and so the decision was made to split the team in half. The bigger half will no longer be working with Barclays but for other clients.

Well, I guess it was just a matter of time. I suppose this was also for the best too. It is not good for me and my fellow leavers to stagnate in the specialized knowledge we have. Moving to other clients will ultimately work out better for us and broaden our horizons. We don't know where we're going to yet but two possibilities have surfaced: either we stay in the Cybergate area or move to Union Bank Plaza (UBP) in Ortigas.

My seatmate Joebelle and I were wondering how this development would affect us. If we move to UBP, our problems would include parking space and looking for a gym. There's no gym inside UBP. We might have to bite the bullet and plunk down cash to work out at Gold's Gym in Robinsons Galleria or Fitness First in SM Megamall, both of which are quite a distance from UBP.

Trivalities aside...this is my final week with Barclays. My last day with them is on June 3. I'm still waiting for that email containing the details of my next gig, along with the other leavers. Just a minor shame that my good friends PJ, Paolo Cruz and Joel were part of the lucky (?) ones that will be staying with Barclays.

We'll see.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Of grunt work, singing and a kid on a mega-tantrum

Mother's Day 2009 was a pretty busy one.

Firstly, we sang at four different masses today, singing the a capella "We are an Offering" and an accompanied "Inay" for all the mothers in the parish. When you're up and singing from 7am to 6:30pm, that's a pretty big ask.

Second, I finally got to install the Recaro SRD seats I bought three months ago. This project couldn't be completed because the Bride RO-type seat rails I ordered took their sweet time getting here, only arriving two days ago. Removing the stock seats was an easy task, but fitting the SRDs to the car and mating them to the Bride seat rails, and transferring the seat belt buckles to them was a much larger and more demanding task than I thought. Quite a bit of grunt work was involved as well, moving the parts around with muscle power. Unfortunately exhaustion and general clumsiness set in and led to a few scratches on Aibo's interior and my bedroom floor.

Last but not least was the ultimate irony to this Mother's Day. While I was removing the stock driver's seat from inside Aibo, Bianx, Mama and I all heard frenzied shrieking that sounded as if someone had finally snapped. It might as well have been because across the street from our house, at the church parking lot, was a little kid no older than 10 years old, the source of the huge racket that lasted almost 20 minutes. He was throwing a massive tantrum toward his mom, who was seated inside the family car. He shrieked, called his mom names, and was punching and kicking the little Toyota - even a car owned by another family wasn't spared the beating.

Equally shocking was that no one, most of all his parents, seemed to be stopping this out-of-control brat!

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Warm pools, warmer welcome

Mav invited me to tag along with her friends on the little weekend summer outing they planned in Los Banos. We went to a place called Splash Mountain, which sported four slides, a "lazy river," and the warmest swimming pools I've ever dipped into.

Excepting the ridiculous Calamba traffic, the suicidal lunatics on SLEX everyone else calls drivers, and a lost shirt, it was a wonderful weekend that unfortunately ended a little too quickly. I taught Mav how to float and swim, and she cooked a huge batch of adobo for all of us. It was nice that I could finally relax with Mav's friends and just enjoy myself. A big hearty thank-you to Jem, Mai, Joyce, Jogs and Ara for making me feel very welcome.

I love you baby Mabie!









Saturday, April 25, 2009

Subic + Aibo = success

At last, our Internet access has returned after three weeks. It's funny how we've all become dependent on the Internet here at home, even my mom.

In the intervening days, a lot has happened. The highlight concerned me finally breaking the duck with trackdays. I finally got to participate in a proper trackday in Subic, after six years of being part of car clubs! Mav and her brother Paolo tagged along for the ride.

Aibo did pretty well on his first forays into the Subic International Raceway's short track. The tricks I've been doing on the streets and in video games, like heel-and-toe downshifts, proper steering and seat positions and balancing the car on the throttle, worked much better in real life than I ever expected. I daresay it was much easier to heel-and-toe on the track than on public roads, where I rarely enter corners at high RPM. That tricky turn 5 hairpin showed me what understeer was all about, though.

In the scorching, humid heat of Subic, we had several practice runs, the first few ones queued behind more experienced drivers Mikko David and Patrick Chua, then free running until the timed lap sessions later in the afternoon. I asked Pat to ride shotgun with me for pointers, when he pulled out his Nokia N93 and took a video of me hooning around the track for two laps.



We got two timed laps per heat, where I ran consistently in the 1:04 range - not too shabby for a novice in a stock car.

Here are more photos of the event, many thanks to Mikko and his skills with his DSLR.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Leaving March with a few kind words

I'm usually crappy at reading up on other people's blogs...and for that I apologize.

Proof of that is this belated New Year's post I read on Dynee's blog, which is one of the most unexpected yet touching things I've come across. I'm not used to people paying me any compliments, so this is a surprise I liked.

It's been so many years since she left that comment on this same blog, and never did I think that we'd end up working for the same firm or have a lot of things in common. It's a nice feeling, knowing that I've actually inspired someone else.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Death of a dream?

People who've known me from my high school days know that I've had real experience doing the dirty work of writing, designing layout and preparing to print a magazine. Indeed, all this experience really influenced me in choosing my courses in college. I tried to continue my enthusiasm for the magazine into college, but got tripped up by my inability to follow beats in preparation for writing a decent news article.

College aside, my time with Counterpoint was definitely one of my most productive spells I've ever had in my lifetime. As layout editor, I was in love with the entire process of making a magazine from a bunch of articles and photos, trying to synthesize all of them into one cohesive, attractive-looking whole. Working with Adobe PageMaker and InDesign since the sixth grade taught me the importance of a proper "preflight" check of a project before sending it off to the print shop, and the creative power one can wield with only two inks -- usually black and PANTONE 121 CVU for me (a bright yellow to everyone else).

Fast forward to today, and I am saddened by the realization that the Internet has saturated our lives so much that entire magazines and newspapers such as the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and San Francisco Chronicle are closing up shop, opting to become entirely "Internet-only" publications.

I never really got the hang of HTML. Sure, I hard-coded an entire website once in the past with nothing but Notepad, but I found the whole process exceedingly clunky and nowhere near as intuitive as using PageMaker/InDesign. I am aware that the Internet opens so many other ways of turning a web page into eye candy, but most of the animated banners I see on websites do them no favors as coherent wholes. Novelty for the sake of novelty, I'd say. From a design standpoint, I've always believed in keeping things simple -- my tools involving nothing more than typefaces and drawn objects.

Back in high school I thought I could make a living as a layout editor for a magazine. That probably isn't the case in the US any longer, with magazines slowly slipping into obsolescence, taking one of my greatest ambitions along with them.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Hugs and kisses

Sometimes, all I really need to break me out of my rut of depression and self-pity is the knowledge that someone still loves me, despite my personality flaws and quick temper.

Sometimes, all I really need to soothe my tired soul is a warm, enveloping hug from someone who knows their true worth.

Sometimes, all I really need to calm my frayed nerves are kisses so balmy from lips so soft that they relax me to the core.

Thank you Mav, for six months of joy and gladness. I love you!

Millionaire by thirty?

On a whim I bought myself a copy of Doug Andrew's book "Millionaire By Thirty: The Quickest Path to Financial Independence." Despite my hobby-slash-vice of car modification, I am interested in trying to make my money grow.

I'm almost halfway through the book, and he does offer quite unconventional advice. Never have I heard of actually embracing a select amount and type of debt to make money. Unfortunately most of the tips the Andrews offer -- Doug shares writing credits with his two sons -- seems more applicable to the US than the Philippines. I have no idea, for example, if his suggestion of getting a mortgage is as tax-deductible here as it is in America.

Because of that, my feelings toward the book are mixed. Great tips, yes -- but I have no idea if they'll work here.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

The perennially late reaction engine

No, that's not something from Macross. I'm talking about myself.

Lately I seem to have become a reactionary hair-trigger. It's not as if it's anything new. I guess I've struggled with this my whole life. This past week I've failed putting a throttle on my reactions, the end result being a huge mess that's gotten me in trouble with my leads.

They've expressed their disappointment with me. It's a shame I have such a tendency to snap at people because my skills are more than adequate, they told me. Why don't you realize your reactions have an effect on the people around you?

I can't go on like this. The world is becoming less and less forgiving of my actions. I feel like I'm always playing catch-up and learning the old lessons in a ball game everybody else has played and finished at least once. Not everyone understands that I'm basically a late bloomer. How long am I going to be a late bloomer? How long will I go through the motions of learning things I should have known years ago because everybody else does?

This just bums me out. The pathetic thing about this is I can't turn to anyone for help.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

MoMo!

Just thought I'd share a few photos of a nice place Mav and I found in Robinsons Place Ermita. MoMo! is a little new cafe which college students frequent (or infest) due to free WiFi. However I feel they could make much more if they downplay the WiFi a little, because they do make really good food.

Okay, so their Ultimate Mac & Cheese isn't so ultimate, but the 10" Smoked Salmon with Dill Cream Cheese pizza is a decadent, yummy treat and can literally make your visit there.

We're going back there for dessert.


More photos over here.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Allergies and red seats

Now I know the name of the condition that's afflicted me with sinusitis, altered vision, unworkable headaches and vertigo whenever I get a bad cold: allergic rhinitis. As it turns out, this doesn't have a cure and all I can do is manage it and try to avoid the allergic triggers. This month's bout of it has chopped away four days off my working month.
===

As my birthday gift to myself, I finally took the splurge on semi-bucket seats. I'm afraid the "Digo fund" never went toward the purchase of a Bride Digo seat, however. Instead, I got a pair of red Recaro SR3s from the original DC2 Honda Integra Type R and/or the EK9 Honda Civic Type R. For the price and the condition of the seats, I got them quite cheap.


Right now they're sitting on the floor of my room though, as I soldier on with Aibo's stock perches. Why? The SR3s didn't come with seat rails compatible with my GD1 Jazz. To make them link up with Aibo's bones, I ordered a set of Bride RO-type seat rails, which will interface flawlessly with the seats and Aibo's chassis. The only fly in the ointment is, they'll take a month at most before they make it here because the Japanese supplier doesn't have any of them in stock.

I can already hear my knees thanking me, though.

Jared is itching to help me with the DIY install of these babies. I can't wait either.