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, 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!