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, January 18, 2009

Time for some music

This song comes courtesy of my music-loving friend Anton Guidotti.

(Keep the fire bright)

There's a river in
The evening ember glow
And you're wishing you could see
How far it flows
Rolling on to an endless sea
You'd be well on your way
If you could only set sail

But dreams can drift away
And sails can fill with doubt
Where's your vision
If the embers flicker out?
Don't let it slip from view

The horizon's awaiting
Your river is fading

So keep the fire burning tonight
See just what comes into sight
Don't take forever
Take it through the night
And believe the sun
Will rise with the dawn
That's all you need to go on
But for tonight
Just keep the fire burning bright

I will never need to ask
What have I done?
Comes a moment when it's clear
There's only one
Oh, whatever you need of me
I've made up my mind
I give you more than you've asked for

There are those who can foresee
Where we will go
All the future
I don't really want to know
Only that you'll be here with me

While the embers still glow
We'll be safe till tomorrow

Keep the fire burning tonight
See just what comes into sight
Don't take forever
Take it through the night
And believe the sun
Will rise with the dawn
That's all you need to go on
For tonight
Just keep the fire burning bright

Keep the fire burning tonight
See just what comes into sight
Don't take forever
Take it through the night
And believe the sun
Will rise with the dawn
That's all you need to go on
For tonight
Just keep the fire burning

(Keep the fire bright)
Who are you?
(Keep the fire bright)
Where are you
(Keep the fire bright)
You're not alone
It's so wonderful
(Keep the fire bright)

- Kenny Loggins, "Keep the Fire"

The grim and the merry

A couple of my friends have been struck down with pretty serious illnesses.

Francis Javier of JACU has had a pre-existing heart condition, but following the January 2009 EB he reportedly collapsed and had to be brought to the ICU. His heart had been palpitating and beating very fast---I believe the condition's called tachycardia, which literally means "racing heart." It didn't help that his heart was enlarged and wounded from the inside.

He's now out of danger, but another friend, my ex-team lead Jenny Layugan, has been confined in Asian Hospital for a while now due to dengue. Apparently it was the more serious hemorrhagic variety, because this morning I got a number of text messages asking for type B-positive blood to help her make it through.

My prayers are with both of these people.

On a happier note, a belated happy birthday goes out to Dynee Balleza-Sheafor of Madison, Wisconsin.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

'Tis the season for mechanical curiosity

It's been a very interesting couple of weeks for a gearhead like me.
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Because of a runaway piece of debris (concrete or dense wood, I'm not really sure what) snaking across the SLEX, one of Aibo's wheels had a very strong impact---strong enough to bend the rim out of shape and rip my Bridgestone S-02PP rubber along with it.


I had planned on replacing the S-02s---great tire with full tread depth, but due for replacement at seven years old---for a while now, and it seemed like the best opportunity to do so. After I had the wheel repaired, I raided the phone line looking for tires in my 205/45R16 size. Disappointed that the Yokohama S.Drives were out of stock just about everywhere, I decided to experiment this time with a brand that's not very popular here: Toyo.


After hearing about their great performance from overseas, I had already inquired about the Toyo Proxes T1R. They didn't have those in my size, so I ordered the Toyo Proxes 4 all-season radials instead. Armstrong, the distributor, even offered free dry nitrogen fillup for the lifetime of the tires. 200 kilometers in, I find the Proxes 4s quieter and more refined than the noisy S-02PPs, but are just as grippy and have a much longer treadwear rating.

The only downside to all this is the state of my Digo fund, which is now completely spent.
===

Yesterday saw me at Glorietta to check out the all-new GM-chassis Honda City. Unlike its GD forebear, the GM's styling no longer looks like a Jazz hatchback with a trunk (still at a capacious and usefully shaped 506 L) hurriedly grafted to its rear. Indeed, it's different enough that it doesn't share the GE chassis code of the new Jazz. The car is gorgeous, well-equipped and looks like a slightly smaller FD Civic; however, the price is not quite as pleasant. Its price encroaches dangerously close to FD Civic territory, and at PhP806,000 is even a few thousand pesos more expensive than the top-flight GE Jazz. The car itself is great, though, and deserves to succeed.

===

Finally I got not just one pleasant surprise, but two, in today's Jazz and City United monthly EB. Forced-induction pioneers Rico and Ken invited me to hitch a ride on their boosted rocket sleds. As Rico wound the engine to 5000 RPM, with 8 psi of turbo boost jamming into the cylinders and hissing like a vacuum cleaner on steroids, I was astonished at how the GD Jazz could handle such acceleration and speed. The sheer muscle these two silver hamsters had defied all my expectations---I had a hard time believing these started life essentially the same as Aibo!


We screamed along the Kalayaan flyover, dashing past cars with no need for downshifts, such was the torque of these blown L13A3 motors. Ken's Jazz sported TEIN Super Compact coilovers, one of my erstwhile dream mods. I got to sample their ride for the first time, fully expecting my backbone to be jarred stiff and silly...but it didn't happen at all! Even while seated at the back, a problem area for the GD Jazz, the TEIN dampers just kept the forces of the car's body at bay while delivering quite the supple ride. I daresay it even rode better than Aibo's stock suspension. Maybe I should reconsider getting these...

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Answered prayer

I thought it would never come, but I got a pleasant surprise at 7 am Tuesday morning with nobody else in the office.

Software Certifications sent me the e-mail I had been waiting for throughout the holidays. I was expecting it to arrive in time as a Christmas gift, but I guess even they have to take a holiday break sometimes.

I opened the link embedded in the e-mail...and punched my fist in the air with delight. I am now a Certified Software Test Engineer.

The certificate will come in the mail in the future, but knowing that I passed the CSTE examination with flying colors and a smashing score was perhaps Santa's way-overdue Christmas present this year.

Thank you Mav, for reviewing and quizzing me despite my horrible head cold. Thank you Sharon, for giving me the opportunity to step forward unhindered with this exam. Thank you Eric, Marie and Aileen, for facilitating the review classes and making sure we learned what we could. Thank you Ian, for being a great partner. Thank you to my classmates for the insights.

Thank you all!