Friday, December 18, 2009

The Christmas Post, 2009


The past few years, I believe I’ve been posting about the holidays with a rather dour note. That was because back then—as today—the end of the year approaches myself and the people I know with a rather dour ring, a scorching taste of not-quite-defeat. Not quite, because there’s always the promise of a new beginning at the start of next year.

Is it because I share a defeatist attitude with the rest of my acquaintances? It’s a possibility. Is it because really, life, at that moment, is that bad?

I hardly hope so. That'll mean that every year, we'll have to put up with an increasing sense of dread quelled only by a faint glimmer of wishful thinking for the next year.

This year's hardly any different as opposed to last year. We're all a year older, friends. A year wiser? Maybe. One can't be sure about these things.

However! while enjoying oneself is hardly a matter of mind over, well, matter, this time of year is still supposed to be one of merriment. And it quite possibly still is. Whether you’re going ape to celebrate or to forget, a reason to have fun is, in fact, still a reason. And while I am currently at a loss as to what my reason for celebrating Christmas and New Year will be despite this feeling of uneasiness, well.

I’m going to try to party as hard as I feasibly can. This time, I’m going to work on my positivist attitude. If I can only party for around PhP100.00 worth, then I shall make sure that each peso of that hundred is damn well worth it. If I can only rock for an hour and a half, each minute of that hour will be epic.

So chin up, guys, and make each peso count, each moment poignant. Merry Christmas, and may all the gods of the universe watch over all of you.

Friday, October 23, 2009

I’m Back!


Wow, it has been a while since I last posted something here, hasn’t it?

Well, you know what they say, no rest for the wicked. A lot of things have been happening over on my end, which more or less explains the lack of updates.

On the other hand, some of my other friends have been just as lacking in the updates corner of the blogosphere. Which leads me to wonder if microblogging is slowly taking the place of the real thing?

Something to ponder about while in the can, folks in the SEO biz. Meanwhile, in the past few weeks, I have undergone the following eventualities:

  • My laptop was taken from right beside me at SM North Edsa. Nins and I were at Sbarro’s at the time, and while I understand that fretting over spilled milk will do me as much good as a swift kick in the groin, I still wish that my old laptop would spontaneously combust whilst being used by the man who burgled me.
  • In the meantime, since I more or less relied on a laptop for work, I had to get myself a new one. Nope, no desktop dinosaur for this man. Instead, I got myself a nice and shiny Lenovo Ideapad Y450. If you can discount the fact that the machine runs on Vista, the Lenovo has been a good girl and has served me, given me a pedicure, cut my hair, and threw in a nice back massage gratis. In other words, I am happy with my purchase. Don’t ask about the price, though.
  • Ondoy was like an old, homeless hobo who had no streetcorner to pee in, so he decided to wage aquatic war with the depths of a tin can. In case the analogy escapes you, Manila was that tin can. With the floodwaters inside our house, you could have built an indoor swimming pool. Now, if I were a kid, I would have loved that (much to my parents’ dismay), but let me tell you, getting a mild electric shock while wading waist-deep in an indoor flood is not fun.
  • That was just the part of Manila that didn’t have to suffer too much from the storm. Other areas became virtual lakes overnight—friends of mine lost a house, as did the brother of an acquaintance. Some people had to be rescued from normally dry subdivisions via speedboat. Cue my dreams to have my own tugboat as a kid.
  • Thankfully, nobody I know was horribly devastated by the storm. But the civic action that took place within the metro soon afterwards was nothing short of breathtaking. The only people who weren’t helping were from the government—but we’re pretty used to that anyway, so no big deal.
  • Nins joined the relief operations at ICA. I’m damn proud of her. Plus, that photo of her diving over a pile of donation bags is priceless.
  • Speaking of Nins, she gave me a copy of Lynne Truss’ Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation. I have to admit, I am entertained. This book deserves another post altogether, and I shall get to that soon. Trust me.
  • Lastly, I must just mention that the new season of TV shows in the US has recently just begun. I have House, Heroes, How I met your Mother, The Big Bang Theory, Burn Notice, and Castle on my list. How about you guys?

Well, that’s it for my recap. I’ve got to get back to work now, so I’ll leave you guys here. Let’s hope my abysmal updating skills improve enough to let me update at least twice a week, lest my blog forsake me and decide to use my blood as porridge. Ta-ta.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Long Time no Post


Let me break the monotony, then. By posting about what could possibly be the most important month of the year. At least, for me. So bear with me as I reminisce a little bit. It's been a long four years.

I think it was three years ago on this month that I found out about SMSI, and how they needed a writer. It would lead to a nearly year-long battle with reality that ended rather abruptly on the eleventh month of the next year.

Two years ago, on this month, my mother had a stroke. That changed my life in more ways than I can ever imagine.

Last year, I welcomed the month with news that crushed me terribly. Little did I know, however, that later in the same month, I would meet a lifesaver of sorts. Not the one you pop into your mouth, nor the one you toss into the open sea, but one that is as refreshing and as reliable). And that’s only a small portion of what she does.

I do not know how to greet this month. I’m anxious as to how things will go for me, but at the same time, I don’t want to know. But there’s nothing we can do about that, is there? When you start walking, there is no taking a step back, so no matter what else may await me and the people I live my life with, I go forward.

Forth Eorlingas! My personal new year starts here.

Friday, August 14, 2009

I must Post About the Angry Whopper.


I rarely come across a treat from a fast-food restaurant. You look at McDonald’s, Jollibee, KFC and the like, and you know you’re really not eating anything special. I mean, sure; everybody knows that the fries over at McDonald’s are the best, the hot n’ crispy chicken of KFC is awesome, and Jollibee has awesome spaghetti. But still, that’s nothing out of the ordinary.

All that changed—at least for me—last night.

I was meeting up with Nina at Burger King along E. Rodriguez in New Manila for dinner. Now, commuting through Taft, Quiapo, and Espana at rush hour is NOT NICE. Not nice at all. I was dizzy with heat and pollution after an hour in the bumper-to-bumper situation ALL THROUGHOUT my ride, and I vowed to cab home afterwards (I did, too, and nearly slept on the cab ride).

But the journey was worth it. So worth it, just because of this little baby:

Okay, this will have a little bit of bias on my part; I have always attested that the best fast-food burgers I have tasted this side of the planet comes from Burger King, and the Angry Whopper just made my decision more adamant. But the fact is this: the Angry Whopper, for all it’s facetiousness, is almost—if not as—good as a proper steakhouse burger.

And no, while the ad goes to bill it as a “hot” burger, the bite doesn’t really come in until after you bite into the jalapenos. It’s mostly a sweet burger. But it packs quite a punch in the belly—I just had an Angry Whopper Jr., and seriously, all the hardships I had to encounter commuting to E. Rodriguez more or less melted away into a satiated smile.

As for the ad: well, just check out the angry farmer torturing the poor, harmless onion:

Thursday, August 13, 2009

A Break from the Dearth


Actually, I just took this opportunity to say that I need to blog more. Boo to bad time management; that’s a lot of prospective collateral going to waste in this blog.

I don’t know. I just can’t find something blogworthy in my life recently. Maybe that’s because I’m stuck sitting my big behind in a desk all day long, but with the Internet, that’s no excuse. Maybe I’m just really lazy to write something that’s non-work. I mean, I’ve a blog post about the unholy dinner sitting in the oven, but I guess I’m just much too disgusted to even spend another minute wasting my time with Her Excellency’s face-stuffing.

Anyway. Back to your lives, you kids. What's that, you say? Oh, you want something that makes your visit worth your while?

Well who am I to deny you guys.

Heh. Back to work, maggots.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

A Short Discussion on Why Piracy is not Equal to Theft


To find out more about why people argue correctly that piracy isn’t theft, keep on reading after the jump.

Get the picture? Not that I'm pro-piracy; if you can afford the original, go for it. Nothing wrong with that. But if you can't, there's nothing with a little bootlegged copy here and there.

Of course Nina will tell me that some films are worth watching in the big screen. To which I will meekly submit. I really have nothing to talk about this week. Maybe later on I'll have something to say about La Presidente's $20,000 meal.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

The Advent of Distractions


So me posting this is a distraction in itself, but I believe that a writer’s greatest bane, and a marketer’s greatest boon, are distractions, and focusing on them and why they come about are just as important as deciding whether this sentence is passive or active. By the way, that previous sentence was a little of both.

But let me get to the point. Living a writerly life can be very, very frustrating, especially when distractions come into play. Right now, I’m suffering from a very heavy dose of short attention span-ism, and I can hardly focus on one article before I get distracted by a tweet here, a website there, and the possibility of writing another blog post. It’s insane, I tell you. When your mind is fleeting this fast, you can’t just help but wonder: what the hell do you have to do to get your brain to bloody focus?!

Through the years, though, I’ve come up with a list of the things that helps me focus away from distraction. The problem with such lists is that they’re never foolproof, and some of the things actually contradict some of the other items in the list, so I probably won’t go in-depth in describing all the items here. But I’m sure most of you, especially you writers, have gone through at least some of the items in my list. I don’t know if they’ve ever worked for you, but the way it is with my mind, I think my brain gets conditioned to the new method of avoiding distraction, so the next time distraction comes looming and I deploy one of the methods I’ve come up with, my mind counterattacks with strings of logic that loops away and through the tactic.

But for the sake of putting it down to writing, here’s a list of some of the strategies I’ve tried throughout my life as a writer.

  1. Music soothes the savage beast. And for a time, it soothed my mind and helped me focus. But some of the days, I find myself listening intently to elements of a song. So much so that I lose focus on what I need to finish, and instead focus on how the hell Tony Levin did that lick, for instance.
  2. Coffee. It keeps me active and alert, and it wakes me up. But sometimes—perhaps due to the dosage of the coffee, or to residue caffeine in my system from the previous day’s intake—I suffer from anxiety attacks and nervousness. So when this happens, coffee serves more as a distraction than an aid in concentration.
  3. Closing all other applications aside from the browser and the document I’m writing. Now, I’ve tried this, and so far, this is the one tactic that almost always works. The key here is that I’m not sleepy, and I’m not connected to the Internet. But if I’m working on something that requires the ‘net, I am left with no choice but to connect. And then messenger is one click away, and so is stumble upon…
  4. Sleep. Okay, so sleep doesn’t help you focus. But it does help you recharge. I wish I could take powernaps like most other people, but my powernaps focus on the “power” part and not so much on the “nap” part.
  5. Read through what you’ve written. This backfires because you’re never sure if what you’ve written will encourage even more writing, or if what it encourages will be better writing. Plus points to people who get to focus after reading through a blank page. I’ve never done that.
  6. Walking. Actually, walking really helps you focus your mind—while you’re walking. Otherwise, it is an aerobic activity that I now dub as time consuming.
  7. Talking to people. This helps in the creation of new ideas, but sooner or later, you realize that you’ve been talking way too long. Focus? You must be joking.

And of course, when all else fails, I resort to the eighth item on my list of distractions from distractions: blogging. Which is, again, not really helping me any.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Work Work Work: The Grind of Heavy Editing


Like the Orcish peons of Warcraft II, after effectively deciding that the collegiate (or at least the standard collegiate) life wasn’t for me, I knew that I would have to find myself a full-time job. The very first thing I did, aside from freelancing as a magazine writer, was work for this rockstar SEO dude from Manila who pretty much got me into the whole biz of article marketing and copywriting.

Four years later, and I’m pretty much still in the same path, albeit with a few skills and a lot of experience under my ever-widening belt.

Note: A warning for those with no interest in writing. The next few paragraphs will be heavily devoted to the art and craft of the written—emphasis on written—word. Read on at your own peril after the jump.

But this post isn’t about work itself. It’s about the type of work I’m currently doing for one of my clients, and that’s proofreading. Back when I was an editor for SMSI, I just made sure that the articles were made of pure win and awesome, but I never bothered to check for the textual nuances of each selection I plowed through. Come 2009, I find myself working as a proofreader part-time, toting the rather brutish Chicago Manual of Style for reference all throughout the hours I spend working for that particular client.

The funny thing about proofing copious amounts of text is finding out that various aspects of the written English language that you thought was just typographical whimsy was actually official script. I speak of the wonders that are the em-dash and the en-dash. These babies have there use in written communication, and while most people may find it a bit unnerving to know this, this rather bizarre eccentricity of the written language has admittedly piqued my interest.

Not because of its implications on the readability of a text for those fully in the know, of course. I would hardly use that as a reason to intrigue me, since I believe that the written word, as an art form, is a language consistently in flux—get the message across, and we’ll be friends. Get the message across AND give the reader a hard-on / wetlip, and I don’t even know what I’ll do to you.

Rather, I find this interesting because as of this year, the word googled is now an official verb—with the small letter “g” intact. Yep, Google as a proper noun refers to the company, while google with the small initial letter is a verb (this discovery is credited to Rocky Teodoro of the Haneps). Upon discovering this fact, the beauty of the em-dash and the shortcut key for the letter “ñ” (that’s ctrl + ~ + n) vanished from my mind. Not completely, as you can probably see from this paragraph, but enough to make it a marked transition.

In closing, I’d like to propose this theory: in the next 2–3 years, we will see a marked shift in typography and vocabulary. We started out with the slow and ambivalent acceptance of foul language into the list of grammatically correct terms. Then there was the resurgence of using dashes and textual demarcations correctly. And now we have google. If the trend continues, then I guess we can properly surmise that sooner or later, the smiley icons, :-) and :-( being the most recognizable, will become common slang text. Expect novels where non-dialogue conversations will flow in this manner:

“:-(,” said **** as he shut off his mobile phone to ward off unwelcome SMS messages.

as opposed to this:

**** frowned as he shut off his mobile phone to ward off unwelcome SMS messages.

Sounds far-fetched? So did google becoming a verb. The written language is evolving so fast that sooner or later, English will have no choice but to give way to established languages like Spanish or French, or simplified tongues like Esperanto, because it became too damn complicated to learn.

Oh, and if that does happen anytime soon, don’t forget. You heard it here first.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Harry Patch


I have no idea who Harry Patch was, and I’m really not the kind of person to care about first-person shooters. But my friend John Pimentel (aka Bossman, also GayPimps) wrote a poignant—albeit geekery-induced—piece about Harry Patch here, and I felt that it was worth mentioning.

Because the world is slowly going to the dogs, and we need more thinkers like GayPimps and Harry Patch. Godspeed, Mr. Patch, and may the wings of war not reach you wherever you are.

 

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Alcohol Loves Me, and Ol’ Betsy’s Slow Decline into Old Age


Unfortunately, my love for alcohol has, shall we say, diminished somewhat the past few months. I went weeks without even a sip of beer, and the scant times that I did get to drink with my peers, I had this nagging worry about work in the back of my mind.

The other night, however, saw a blissful reunion between me and the nektar of the gods. Unfortunately, this reunion was cut short—once again, I needed to work, and there were drunks to take care of. Plus, I didn’t really feel too good about getting hammered again. Or ever.

Did I just say that? Did hell just freeze over? Jeez.


In the meantime, my old, trustworthy laptop suffered a rather critical hit no more than half a day ago. Following are pictures for proof:

laptop hinge 1

The somewhat front view. You can see the bend in the top casing there, but it still looks pretty normal from this view.

laptop hinge 2

Now you can see just how bad the damage is. You can bet your britches that it hurt when the damn thing finally cracked open. I could have lost a limb, and I wouldn't have known the difference.

laptop hinge 3

Side view. You can see the innards of the LCD panel of the laptop. I want to cry.

To be fair to ol' Betsy (as I now call my two and a half year-old laptop), she has served me rather well. I believe that she has begun falling apart after hearing me talk about getting a replacement laptop or two within the next year or so. I love this ol’ gal, though, and it is because of this laptop that my faith in Acer computers is what it is now.

Since I promised myself that I wouldn’t get a new laptop in at least a year, though, I am now open to suggestions as to how I can get this little problem fixed. As you can well imagine, I rather dislike the idea of closing my laptop as every creak gives me reason to hit an aneurysm, so the sooner I get this problem addressed, the better I’ll feel.

I mean, just look at my face when I discovered the full extent of the damage:

me

This is an attempt to simulate my original reaction. What I really did was bawl like a little girl.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

So I’m Feeling Under the Weather


Technically, you can’t ever feel over the weather. Because y’know. The weather’s pretty much on top of you. So the phrase “under the weather” is literally, logically incorrect.

Anywaay, that ends my inane ranting for the day / week / whenever I post. I just celebrated an awesome birthday week, so this is probably lagnat laki (hopefully it ain’t aH1N1, or else dayum, I pretty much infected a whole baranggay of people.

Since Nina’s feeling rather under the weather (again with the phrase) as well, I decided to find some things that could probably cheer her up. There’s a possibility she won’t be seeing this today, but at least this has been posted.

Firstly, I have for her (and the lot of you) a piece of depressing, yet subliminal, artistry. Replay is a very good animated short that makes one wonder just how valid life can be if it serves to keep us hemmed in:

Secondly - to balance out the mood that was probably generated by Replay both in tone and in medium - I have here another short film, this time of the classic animated variety (it is actually reminiscent of mid-1900's Disney shorts), about a woman and her (rather sudden) desire for companionship - ANY kind of companionship. A lot of people could probably relate with this film:

And that's about it. I've tons of work and I badly need bedrest as well, so I'll leave you folks with the short films. Hope you guys like it.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Vive le France; Vive le Libertie


I take the title from the post-war conversation between Mel Gibson and Tcheky Karyo in The Patriot, the film that introduced me to the brilliance that is Jason Isaacs. Now, the question here is why I’m quoting a line about France. The answer, as is usual, lies in something that I just recently read from CNN.

Let me indulge my conspiracy theorist urges by saying that if this escalates into an all-out fight between Al-Quaeda and France, this will be a historical first, specifically, the first war caused by fashionable dispute. Vidal Sassoon will have a heyday.

Seriously, though. I find this entire brouhaha silly. Al-Quaeda’s being rather silly, declaring  fatwah on a country that won’t allow a piece of clothing. No matter how ceremonial or cultural clothing is, when in Rome, you do as the Romans do. If the country doesn’t want you wearing clothes that you deem to be important, it’s either you suck it up and conform, or you get out of the country, stat. I understand that sometimes, the pull of personal tradition can be pretty heavy – I’m a Filipino, and if there’s anything Pinoys are cursed with, it’s a heavy history of familial tradition. But to the point of declaring a war? A Filipino kid was nearly expelled in Canada for using a spoon to eat something that wasn’t soup, but that didn’t provoke relationships between the RP and the state of British Columbia.

I mean, Al-Quaeda. Terrorism or not, you have to stop taking these things to the extreme.

But I think the French are equally in the wrong this time around. Being the country that helped the USA win their freedom from the Brits, you’d think that they’d have a good grasp of what “freedom” really entails. In my humble opinion, “freedom” means being able to practice your beliefs without persecution in a given society. The Islamic religion may have practices that seem questionable to western societies, but then again, just how much more absurd IS Islam when compared to more orthodox belief systems such as the Church of Scientology, the Roman Catholic church, or even the protestant conservatives? You’re considering a piece of clothing as restrictive of a woman’s actions, but how can you dictate what that person considers as ideal? French women might find the burqa an impediment in society, but how about the Islamic women who have become culturally acclimatized to the burqa?

As far as liberal thinking is concerned, by suppressing the religious beliefs of people within their borders, I’d like to end this post with four words:

LIBERAL FRANCE = EPIC FAIL

Note to the French though: please don’t ban me from your country, I love your food and your culture way too much.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

I Am a Geek and I Wear that Banner Proudly, even in Outer Space, even to the End of Time


.. despite my previous post slamming the Intarwebs. Okay, so today Michael “Wacko Jacko” Jackson passed away. I have a story to tell that connects fond (and recent) memories of mine related to Jacko, but that will have to wait for another post. For now, the geek in me is itching to get this out in the open.

(On a side note, Farrah Fawcett died today too, but since I have this bizarre ability to be completely oblivious to the most mainstream pop concerns, I didn’t think much of that. RIP to the two of them, anyways).

I am a science fiction freak. I loved “Choose Your Own Adventure” books, I adore the old sci-fi greats and abhor the new ones, like Brian Herbert and his ilk. If I were to draw up a list of the three authors I would personally like to meet and talk to over a bottle of beer or so, it would have to be:

  • Charles Dickens
  • HP Lovecraft
  • Isaac Asimov

I’d include Arthur C. Clarke to the list, but Asimov takes precedence. And Ray Bradbury’s still alive, so there is still hope!

The point is, I love speculative science. And I love the concept of outer space, and life in other planets. When I read through the latter part of Asimov’s Foundation saga, I was enthralled to know that protagonist Golan Trevize was out to discover the wellspring of humanoid life – Earth. This is, of course, the reverse of our current situation, wherein we’re looking for the possibility of extraterrestrial life, or barring that, the possibility of relocating to another planet that will support our race. But there’s that feeling of the unknown, that sensation of a new frontier being explored, that makes Trevize’s search for a then-irradiated and lifeless Earth hit a chord that’s close to home.

Unfortunately for space geeks like me, though, the evidence pointing to life away from Earth (or Terra, as is the proper name of our planet, in the same way our sun is properly called Sol) has been very unfulfilling. There have been sightings of planets in neighboring galaxies that could theoretically support humanoid life due to the similarities – third planet, distance to their local star, centripital and centrifugal movement, planetary make-up as observed through a variety of telescopes that analyze substance through the emitted radio waves of a distant stellar object – but there have always been questions that pretty much dampen even the faintest hope that this could possibly be the next Terra. Not the least of which is this: how the fuck do we get there to make sure?

So yeah, it looks like the way thing are, we’re going to be stuck in our own little star system for the next two decades or so.

The good news is that it is in this system where we’ve found proof that against all odds, life on other planets aside from Terra is possible! The first big news came when the Phoenix Mars Lander reported a positive on finding ice on Mars last year. That ice was made of CO2, a compound that could ideally promote the growth of an ozone layer that could be vital in terraforming the red planet. But what’s more important here is that organisms could actually be living inside the ice, although that’s highly unlikely given the planet’s barren state.

A more interesting development occurred recently – and this time in the far-flung neighborhood of the outer planets. The Cassini spacecraft went on a fly-by mission along the outer atmosphere (for lack of a better word) of the Saturnine moon Enceladus. This moon, like Jupiter’s own Europa and Ganymede, is considered to be a planet completely surrounded by ice. The curious bit lies in its orbit – unlike other planets and heavenly bodies with a regular orbit, Enceladus has a comet-like tail of sorts. Last 2005, the Cassini probe flew past this “tail” and confirmed suspicions that it was something close to a consistent volcanic geyser of ice. Yes, I know that sounded stupid, but read it again and it’ll make more sense – there really is no other way to put it.

There’s a good explanation of why this was happening, and you can read more about it in the Time article where I picked it up from. What really interested me about this development was the ice’s composition. Unlike Mars’ own aqueous CO2 composition, Enceladus’ ice chunks were made up of NaCl and Na2CO3 (this is my best guess as to the carbonate compounds, since they weren’t specified).

Basically speaking, that’s table salt and soda. Forget CO2 and plants, forget the ozone layer. Out there, in the deepest reaches of the solar system, is a moon with a veritable internal ocean that’s pretty much made of the same thing as our own waters are made of. How awesome is that? This raises a whole new debate about the possibility of life elsewhere in the universe, because if another planet can have water with basically the same composition as our own planet’s water supply, then the likelihood that similar organisms may exist inside that liquid is a little bit more possible.

Heck, you’re not even looking for humanoid life anymore. Even a microscopic organism’ll be enough. Life didn’t start out bipedal, after all.

I like this development, though. It fosters the imagination of every child who’d read through a “Choose your own Adventure” book at least thrice in his / her childhood. I’d like to believe, or dream, that in my lifetime, we would be able to colonize another planet, live in another location aside from Terra. I think, for me, that would be the ultimate adventure, and I wouldn’t mind dying on that distant planet so long as I am secure in the knowledge that I am, at last, stepping on soil that I could say was 100% alien.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

To Hell With You!


I am publishing this without formatting the HTML. Because I believe in what you’re about to read.

The past week, I spent more hours on the ‘net than I did asleep. I wrote more than I could ever care to write about without any relation to fiction. And then I heard that Ray Bradbury was campaigning to keep libraries open.

So why’re libraries closing down? The Internet.

Ray Bradbury to Yahoo:

“The Internet is a big distraction,” Mr. Bradbury barked from his perch in his house in Los Angeles, which is jammed with enormous stuffed animals, videos, DVDs, wooden toys, photographs and books, with things like the National Medal of Arts sort of tossed on a table.

“Yahoo called me eight weeks ago,” he said, voice rising. “They wanted to put a book of mine on Yahoo! You know what I told them? ‘To hell with you. To hell with you and to hell with the Internet.’

“It’s distracting,” he continued. “It’s meaningless; it’s not real. It’s in the air somewhere.”

That quote was formatted thru Livewriter’s buttons at the top. Because I’m lazy to edit HTML. I can, but I choose not too.

Because sometimes, you just feel as if we should just go tell the Internet to bugger off and stop bothering our lives. It sure makes things easier, but it keeps us from staying alive.

So to Hell with you, Internet. Even if for just a few moments. So that you learn yourself some self-respect.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Continuing the Political Hiatus


I did not know this. I seriously did not know this.

I love ice cream. A lot. If I can just settle down with a tub of ice cream and not gain any weight, I will be a happy, happy camper. As a matter of fact, I once learned how to make ice cream – the problem was, it was for chemistry class, and I treated it like I would treat any class I have – threw the recipe away when class was done.

Now I wish I didn’t.

Luckily, while searching for the perfect way to make tea on Videojug (and I found some not so perfect methods, refer to my tweet), I stumbled upon the following video, which promptly enabled my jaw to drop down in awe. I was going “What the fuck?” for several minutes after watching this, and to think this was just a backyard experiment for kids, and I didn’t know. What the hell was I learning back then??

Anyway, I did some research, and apparently, this trick DOES work! I can’t wait to try it out on my own, albeit I’m sure the process will be rather messy. That’s a helluva lot of ice cubes.

Anyway, to the video! I present to you ladies and gents, the amazing five-minute way to make ice cream! There is no audio, but don't worry - you don't need it.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

I Need a Break


And by a break, I mean that I need to blog. It’s twelve midnight, I’m several articles away, and I’m listening to LapidFire in DWIZ. The issue’s still about the con-ass and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s plans of extending her tenure of power in a Marcos-like manner, except that her method is far sneakier, which leads me to say that she is one sneaky bitch, if you’ll pardon my French. I’m drowning in work, though, so let’s take a break from the amateur political commentary of this blog for something totally different after the jump.

Yes, that's the Dune-themed techno mix by Fatboy Slim called Weapon of Choice, a classic in its own right. And Christopher Walken burning up the rug - I am inclined to believe that he performed all of the stunts in this video. The man is a hero. One does not simply Walken to Mordor - one does the shuffle.

It’s funny though. This song is rather timely, because you need to realize that if there are only two things, two weapons of choice, that we could all use today,it would be the Bene Gesserit Voice and the Bene Gesserit Litany against fear.


Tuesday, June 09, 2009

A Turnover!


I promise, this will be the last Hayden Kho-related post I will be making. This was prompted more by this query of a friend of mine regarding what my stand was on the proposed Internet regulation bill.

Well honestly, right now it doesn’t seem to matter. DWIZ’s Bantay Bayan program was right; the way this government runs is absurd to the extreme. First there was all that hullabaloo about Hayden Kho, Internet pornography, and Bong Revilla being a douche. Then overnight – literally – there’s a big turnover of focus when Congress decides to approve a constitutional assembly without any warning whatsoever.

Everybody wants to be the star of their own little show here. It’s disgusting.

Honestly speaking, I see no feasible way of initiating a constitutional assembly before the elections take place next year, but just like with every big issue in the government, this thing is still making waves up to this day – and for good reason. The topic is timely – the country needs constitutional change. It might not remove corruption in the government completely, but it’ll shake things up enough to make red tape work against the government for a change.

But again, changing the constitution now? With GMA still at the helm? Please, spare us. The way I see it, Senate will hedge congress in every step of the way, and if GMA is true to her word, elections will take place as it should next year. The troublesome bit here is that why did this issue suddenly pop up? And the rumour that GMA pushed for it? What the hell?

I have but one explanation for all of this: a wizard did it. I'd much rather focus on the 2009 NBA Finals. The Lakers're leading by two games, but this time, Magic's got the homecourt advantage. And to think I don't even like basketball that much.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Thoughts on the Ramifications of Hayden Kho’s Case on the Philippine Free Internets


Yesterday’s public senate hearing was pretty much an exercise in futility. Some of the questions of the senators were misleading at best, and while I abhor Jamby Madrigal to hell and back, she probably asked some of the more decent questions. It was, at best, a media circus that pretty much reached its climax when the senators called in Kho, Belo’s representative, and Katrina Halili in for questioning.

That was when an ex-policeman, in righteous indignation, dumped water on top of Hayden Kho.

I don’t really care about the hearing itself. Kho could rot in jail for all I care, and I still think that Halili’s playing the damsel in distress role to the ground. But this stupid series of events is important in that it is a portent of how the Philippine government is finally going to react to Web 2.0 and the free flow of information in the modern world.

See, the most basic problem here is that within weeks, the video of Kho was made accessible to millions of Pinoys throughout the world (not just the Philippines; the sex video can be found on Spankwire, for example). From the perspective of the pedestrian, this is insufferable – just think of your wives and female children (a point emphasized by the man who dumped water on Kho). Call it a dramatic point, but it still remains a reality.

That this isn’t the first instance of the proliferation of so-called “sex scandals” from the Philippines doesn’t do anything to help this point of view, either. In all honesty, unless you spend a good majority of your life online (like me), you’d probably find readily-available pornography on the Internet outrageous, wrong and just plain gross. Logically, the correct thing to do when faced with the probable deluge of unsuitable information is to clamor for some safekeeping guidelines that will keep the casual surfer safe from online porno.

The problem in the Philippines is that the representation of Internet regulation laws is weak, if not nonexistent. And the Philippine government actually promotes this – IT companies enjoy special tax benefits from the government because their foreign investors rely on the unregulated flow of information to keep things running. Hell, BPOs can’t work on porn sites if there was a tight grip on the ‘net here in the Philippines. In other words, the government actually makes money from the free Internets.

What the Kho scandals did, though, is bring the obvious to the public eye. Pornography on the ‘net is real and widespread, and if we don’t do anything about it, people who exploit local women via digital form can and will make money from it via the web. Now, this is just me, but what I believe is that due to the upcoming elections next year, what the Pinoy government is doing is seriously scrutinizing the feasibility of erecting a means of keeping a check on what somebody living on the Philippines posts on the Internet.

See where this is headed? Knowing how half-baked the government is on planning and implementation, once they come up with their Internet regulation bill, it will be as vague as it is ineffective. This will probably lead to the creation of a new government body whose sole purpose is to police the web. This body will most likely be just as corrupt as the rest of the government is. Which makes one question just how effective and how honest this institution’s rulings will be.

And that doesn’t even take into account the procedure these guys will use. Should the senate committee come up with such an Internet regulation bill, I foresee dark times ahead for everybody relying on the Internet for their livelihoods.

Fortunately, we’re talking about the Philippines here. If the senate goes its usual pace on deciding whether or not this situation deserves looking into, there’s a big possibility that the study will go well into next year. Once the election shuffles the senate, the likelihood that any and all bills proposed late this year will be shelved for the next four years at least, until such a time when another senator looking for a way to creep into the hearts of their constituents goes through the archives during a brainstorming session.

 

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

We are a Country of Ultranationalists Brimming with Righteous Indignation (II)


A couple of posts ago, I mentioned the Great Book Blockade of 2009. When I first read about this, I was just like everybody else in thinking that it was all about the government making another quick buck, except that this was money made from information that was supposedly an easily accessible commodity. Needless to say, I thought it was stupid, and proceeded to share it throughout the Internet community.

This was during the early days of the book blockade. The only people who’ve made mention of it was the origin source and Manuel L. Quezon III. And then the news hit the fan, and Facebook and Twitter got into the picture.

A disclaimer: I am not for the book blockade. I am also against any and all illegal forms of taxation. I believe that the government needs to make money, but the gargantuan amount of money involved in the salary of government heads is ridiculous. You want more money? Cut back on positional salaries, and spread out the corresponding backwash to the rest of the employees.

That said, I think the widespread reaction of the Pinoy public – or at least, the Pinoy Internet public – to the book blockade was another glorious example of the Filipino’s willingness to take up arms at the drop of a hat. What struck me about it was the fact that this time around, it was the educated masses / middle class trumpeting around (on the Internet). I’m pretty used to the masses taking up arms whenever the government screws up with this or that issue, but I’ve never seen people from the same demographic as I was screw the government over with their democratic right to protest.

I’m not putting the surprisingly strong reaction to the book blockade down. It brought things to a rather speedy resolution (faster than how things usually go here in the Philippines), and I’m very thankful. It’s also very nice to actually see democracy working smoothly for once.

But I just can’t help but wonder. If the power of the Internet-driven Pinoy community was that great, it’s a wonder people haven’t tried to levy for a decrease in gasoline prices via Facebook. Or they hadn’t called for the exposition of First Gentleman Mike Arroyo by Twitter. Heck, it’s actually a wonder that there aren’t any online petitions calling to end Jejomar Binay’s plans to run in the 2010 elections.

See what I’m talking about? The curious variable in this whole mess was that the only reason these guys went to the streets – er, what’s the Internet equivalent? – was because it involved something they held to be important. This only serves to point out the old adage of infernal dynamics: The energy required to move an object in the correct direction, or put it in the right place, will be more than you wish to expend but not so much as to make the task impossible.

Meaning people will only move when they think the cause is worth their while. But as to what my own demographic considers important, well. You could say that that’s a whole new ball game.

 

Monday, May 25, 2009

We are a Country of Ultranationalists Brimming with Righteous Indignation (1)


I was listening to the radio this morning, and these disk jockeys from DWRT were going through their usual morning yakkety yak. You know. Stuff you usually don’t listen to, stuff that becomes white noise. But when they started talking about the Hayden Kho stuff, it took all of my self-control to keep myself from tossing my laptop out of the window (yes, I was streaming from the ‘net).

You know how it is – the reason people listen to the radio en route to work is to serve as background music. Sooner or later, you just let it stream through your senses. Just like the Hayden Kho scandal(s). The entire thing is just really absurd, and Nina pointed out that the only reason the press is cashing in on this is because unlike previous sex scandals, this involved a rather upstanding member of Philippine society.

What I can’t get enough of, though, is the way everybody is handling the entire situation. The media’s trying to be as invasive as possible to get the “truth” out. En route to the studio yesterday, this reporter was trying to milk Kho’s lawyer for her take on her client’s case. Now this is just me talking, but that’s very unprofessional of the interviewer – it’s like baiting the lawyer to say something that can be used against her client.

I can’t say that Senator Bong Revilla’s helping the situation any, either. I don’t know what it is that’s been eating this guy’s shorts, but he’s been flinging uncalled-for proposals left and right. First there’s that Alec Baldwin affair that got the actor banned from the Philippines. Now he wants Kho to turn in his medical license just because he had sex? Then we’re better off revoking the licenses of most of our medical professionals. And how about our government officials? Are they getting any? Off with their positions! We live in a largely Catholic country, and anybody who has sex without marriage is a bad influence to the rest of the population.

The most absurd reaction I’ve heard to date comes from Katrina Halili herself. It isn’t enough that Hayden Kho’s apologized – she wants more. Just what more is, I have no idea. The hilarious part here is that Katrina Halili is the Filipino equivalent of a soft-core porn star – a sexy actress, so to speak. What you saw (or didn’t see) in the video of the sex scandal with Kho is pretty much run-of-the-mill with her films. What’s she got to complain about? The fact that she didn’t make a single centavo from this video? Seriously.

I don’t understand why Pinoys are so adamant about making a definite stand about issues popping up left and right. I get that there’s something about standing up for what you believe in, but there is something to be said about moderation and deep thought. I love my country, but sometimes the absurdity of its residents and leaders can be a bit too stupid.

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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Way of the Newspaper


Firstly, let me make a point - I love books and newspapers, and I love the medium that they use. I love the smell of fresh newsprint, and there's something cool about reading the news over the dining table in the morning. And books without leaves will ever be a problem for me - it just wouldn't feel natural. That said, let me get to the real point of this post. The printing business may have been disastrous for the environment, but the real battle for the newspaper has only just recently reared its ugly head. The upheaval of how information is disseminated through the web has taken a bigger toll on the newspaper industry, so much so that we may be looking at the very last days of the traditional newspaper format.

As of last week, several newspapers in the US have closed down due to insufficient revenues generated by a lack of interest in sales. If this trend continues, we could very well be looking at the total death of the newspaper industry the world over. We'll have to content ourselves with reading them through online mediums.

But take these two facts and mull them over:

1. Newspapers aren't selling. Slowly, all the broadsheets and tabloids throughout the world are giving way to digital media. You don't go check out the newsstands for the Inquirer, you go online and check out their website. Or if you're like me, you've got them on RSS, and that's more than enough news for you in a day. It makes you wonder how these guys still make money - well the answer comes by way of competent and intelligent advertising.

2. But wait. According to Rupert Murdoch, NewsCorp will soon be charging their readers for reading the content from their website. That's because the money they make through advertising online is so minimal that it doesn't even count as break-even.

So two conflicting facts. I don't know how publishers are going to reconcile the two facts in the future, but I don't see how newspapers can be making money online via advertising and still lose money in the process. I mean, if the free news business model is failing altogether, I don't understand why the newspaper has to go the way of the dinosaur.

But the most important thing to remember here is that the classic medium of the newspaper is slowly biting the dust. While this is good news for environmentalists in general, it's a different thing altogether for publishers. You KNOW they're losing money with the slow decrease in sales, and the free flow of information via the Internet is kicking their butts. Murdoch charging people to view online content that they could check elsewhere anyway is a last-ditch effort to milk the digital format for what it's worth.

Some revolutionaries are, of course, attempting to revitalize the broadsheet format with new technology. Converting the physical form of the newspaper into a digital ebook format that can be read by using PDF readers like Amazon's Kindle DX is a relatively new idea that merits consideration. Over at Least I Could Do, Ryan Sohmer postulated a model that could make the newspaper format work by bundling year-long newspaper subscriptions with free Kindles, postulating that by giving away free readers, Amazon stands to make more money with the technology by giving consumers the means to read ebooks that they can buy online.

It's amazing how the complementing products analogy works.

But even that solution isn't without its own roadbumps. Here in the Philippines, for example, it's rather easy for both government officials and your standard consumer to corrupt the business of Kindles and newspaper subscriptions. Just because consumers won't pay for information in my country doesn't mean that they won't get that information, one way or the other - PSP games are an example, much to my shame. And if you've heard of the Great Book Blockade of 2009 (which merits another post altogether), you'll know that bringing in Kindle shipments from overseas can be a very tedious and expensive affair for both Amazon and local distributors. And that's just an example of the problem with having the technology. Implementation is a bigger, more mystifying topic.

But then again, we're just in the second quarter of the year. Who knows, maybe somewhere down the road, we get to witness the birth of a totally new medium that will render both the Internet and newspapers obsolete. You can never tell these things.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Let's Go Shopping


Or not. A couple of weeks ago, some aunts of mine were visiting from overseas, so one of the first things we decided to do for them was take them shopping. However, when you're in Manila, there are only two places to take a foreigner at times like these. These two places would be Greenhills' tiangges and 168's location of pure consumerism.

Given that they were new (somewhat) to the scene, we decided to go the safe route and bring them to Greenhills.


This is Greenhills on a good day.

So there we were, looking down the tight aisles that made up the front corridor of Shopesville's interior arcade. There were three things immediately available to the naked eye at a glance: knock-off watches, bags and Crocs. But you wouldn't believe the variety. The various kinds of Crocs you can find in two separate stands alone numbered in the hundreds.

My aunt whispered that this was insane. This was, for us guys, comforting - we looked forward to a shopping spree that wouldn't last an entire afternoon and a half. First of all, my mom was with them and her stamina isn't exactly what you'll call awesome. Secondly, my aunt said that she wasn't anywhere near phenomenal when it comes to shopping. She gave us an hour, tops.

Two hours later, we were only halfway down the aisle. At the far end of the corridor was the exit, and the gateway to dinner, but it was another thirty minutes before we could even begin to consider stepping outside (my uncle was lucky - he had to step out for a smoke).

Funny how just some days ago, I came across this curious little article about shopping. The author did a good job stating a caveat about how the entire article is based on research, but I'd like to add that it takes very little mental processing to come up with those points.

Let's see. Whenever I go out to buy something, all it takes is a little bit of advanced research on my part (what to buy, where to buy, how much). Next step is going there to buy it. Whereas my sisters can end up scouring the entire mall without any idea of what to get, and end up with armloads of stuff.

My apartment in Cagayan de Oro was testament to this. I had a makeshift bed, a desk, and a fan before she arrived. When she left, I had a bench, a table, mops, a shower curtain, a shower curtain rod, and my flat's floor had brand-spanking new vinyl tiles.

Sometimes, the purchasing power isn't even the issue here - it's more of the purchasing drive.

So do women go into shopping with a tabula rasa mindset, and just let their senses decide which items to get? And are men really that impatient to simplify the act of buying things to a two-step process?

God only knows. But there are some exceptions to the rule. My cousin is one of them - we brought him to Serendra to look for swim trunks and shoes, and it was hours before he could even decide that the stores in the area didn't have what he was looking for. I know of some women who can't stand shopping for long periods of time (the fact that I can't state a clear example now is not an indication of lying on my part).

All I know is, the next time a woman tells me that it'll take her an hour to finish shopping, I'll do the smart thing and head over to the gadgets department to do a little window shopping of my own for about thirty minutes. That, or find a bench.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Stress!


Or the lack of it. The best thing about planning vacations is that it's an irony in itself since you stress yourself out planning on how you can beat stress.

That said, I guess you guys read my short midweek report about Palm Beach, which is one of the most impressive resorts this side of the country. Every time I go there, I get fatter. It is unfortunate, but that is the reality.

Anyway, midweek I thought of how people unwind from stress. And then I thought about how I unwind from stress. I figured since everybody's stressed nearly all of the time, we'll all have ways of cooling off - and some of these ways are similar to each other.

  1. First is the out of town trip. We leave the confines of what is recognizable in order to break the monotony of our days. You don't even have to leave your work behind - you can bring your work with you and actually be more productive so long as the environment is different. A change of pace, a change of atmosphere is all you need to break free from the daily grind and relax.
  2. We hear about guilty pleasures, but what do they really do? These aren't just things that we enjoy at a basic level - people underestimate the curative powers of guilty pleasures precisely because of the word "guilty." So something that's supposed to take away stress adds unnecessary stress because of just one word association! Guilty pleasures are pure love, and should be enjoyed to the fullest.
  3. If you're stressed, find a hobby. Hobbies ranging from swimming to gaming to bodysurfing in big concerts. Personally, I swim, watch things on the Internet, and read books. Or I play games. I used to write a lot, but ever since that became my stable day job, it kinda lost the charm. But you get the picture, right?
  4. Spending time with other people isn't just one of the better ways to unwind, it could also be one of the cheapest ways there is. Keep that in mind every time you think of hitting the malls by your lonesome when you think of chillaxing.
  5. The best way of unwinding after a long day? Sleep! I used to think that sleep was a bother back when I was a kid - I mean, I could stay up late and level up my characters in FF6 some more! Or finish reading that book! Or secretly watch porn! Honestly, bedtime back during my early adolescence was annoying. But now that I'm well past my mid-twenties, I realize that Shakespeare wasn't kidding when he wrote those lines about sleeping and dreaming in A Midsummer Night's Dream.

There're lots more ways of cooling down that I haven't listed down here - the thing is, some of them just tend to be more specialized than most. Google's latest announcement about how they use goats to mow their lawn is an example.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

A Better Place


A couple of weeks ago, a friend showed me this video on TED.com, and I was very impressed by what Shai Agassi was saying all throughout his presentation - that all it takes to reduce car-related emissions to zero within the next decade is a bold step forward.

You can watch the full video after the jump.

What strikes me the most is that Agassi and A Better Place isn't trying to overcome the shortcomings of an automobile powered by something that doesn't respond from combustion. That's always been the biggest problem of electronic cars, from what I've heard my friends point out - just how will these perform when compared to what gasoline and diesel-powered cars are capable of today.

Agassi says that the only way to find out is to take that big step forward, and that's exactly what he's doing. If you look at his business plan, it's economically viable - you replace one expendable source of energy with another, which means that on the most altruistic POV you help the thousands of employees dedicated to keeping petroleum products available on the streets keep their jobs.

But to say that this is a 100% way of keeping the environment clean is still being too optimistic. I pushed the idea to an uncle of mine who used to sell automobiles in Canada, and his primary worry was that that would only create a completely new pollutant in the form of non-biodegradable and potentially toxic car batteries past their prime.

Of course, this is all just in my head. I'm sure elsewhere, the wheels are turning for this revolution in mobile technology, and given half the chance, Shai Agassi and the folks over at A Better Place might actually make this work. A huge part of me wishes that they do; I really don't like how much visible smog there is on the horizon every time you drive around Manila in the middle of the afternoon.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Like a Train Wreck


In my previous Manny Paqciao-related post, I featured a photograph of the train wreck that was Oscar de la Hoya. That was, for all intents and purposes, one of the most impressive boxing shots in the history of forever. That was, also, the real wake-up call of just how dangerous an opponent the Pacman was.

Last Sunday's PPV match-up of Manny Pacquiao vs. Ricky Hatton only did what most people thought wasn't possible - cement Manny's reputation as a fighter at the top of his game even more. I mean, what the hell.

Let's review the facts. On Hatton's camp, Floyd Mayweather Sr. was directing things from the background. This guy's one of the most capable trainers in the sport, and was partly responsible for the showstopper that is his son. If ever there was a guy you can pit against Freddie Roach in a battle of wits, Mayweather Sr. would be it.

There's also the fact that Ricky Hatton is a brawler. I was looking forward to this match because I hoped for an impressive fight between the Brit and the Pinoy. After the DLH fight, a boxer who could go toe-to-toe with Manny would be more than just welcome entertainment, it would be a must, and we all thought that Hatton was that guy.

But one round into the fight, Hatton was down twice, and Manny was outclassing him punch for punch. We all know that Pacquiao's a great fighter and all, but this was pretty much a joke, evidenced by the almost serene sleep by Hatton after that bad-rad left hook. My brother said parang binigyan ng unan (it was like he was handed a pillow).

I leave you all with a video of how the Pacquiao-Hatton fight should have gone - courtesy of Fight Night 4 on the XBox 360.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Where are You?


Taking a break for this week. Meanwhile, I'm here.

Friday, April 24, 2009

The Number One Rule of Clubbing


Seriously speaking, I'm not the kind of person who goes to clubs. And of course, when I say that, I lie - I like clubs. I like how you can drown in the noise of club music, I like how you get to dance with pretty ladies who pretty much don't care who they dance with, so long as you don't act like a douchebag.

Let's see. I started clubbing back when I was in CdO. Lots of things happened back in CdO, if you think about it, but clubbing was an experience I found exhilarating. It was a way of communicating without having to think about what to do while you're out on the dance floor. You let the music get your adrenaline going, and once it's pumping your blood through the entire network of veins and arteries in your body, you know that it's time to break out your jam, brotha.

But there's this stigma that clubbing just can't seem to get rid of. See, since this is such a hotbed for the onrush of passions and mindless emotions, the need to get a better kick out of the experience is always present. See, people have a hard time letting go of their inhibitions just like so, and sometimes rely on narcotics like alcohol, caffeine (it works sometimes), and other more dangerous substances that can addle the brain. No, I'm not talking about doobie - I'm all for the legalization of the herb. I speak here of chemical elements that seriously fuck up your system. No other way to put it.

It's also pretty well-known that the clubbing / bar scene is a place where people go to hook up with other people, either for a one-nighter or for a longer commitment. I attribute this to two factors:

  • The alcohol / drugs in your system tend to make you more footloose. The smoother, more predatory side of your psyche is unleashed, and when you get the chance to bed somebody, you dig right in.
  • There's also the fact that you're talking about a social hotpot brought to a boil when you talk about clubs. You have people who technically don't know each other dancing, grabbing and groping each other. You can't help yourself - you get too close, and you get turned on. Once you've bonered, or once you've soaked your panties, the rest of the night's likely to be an apostrophe to what happens when you step into your new friend's car.

I will not kid you - I still think this way. When I step into a club with all that heat around me, all those laser lights and all those bodies moving, I can't help but think about who of the women in this throng do I find hot. The next thought is, is she alone? You get the picture. But that's just one side there is to clubbing.

Recently, I've been going to discos with two friends who've been looking to have a good time. Mostly, my work has been that of a wingman, and it's been pretty interesting so far. See, it's one thing to look for a lay on a Friday night by stalking clubs, and it's another thing to look for women you can introduce your friends to on a Friday night. You've got different considerations you need to look out for, and for once, you're not evaluating the girls with just how well they can put out in bed (sic), but just how interesting they'll be to talk to. You don't want to get your friend a woman for the night either, because if he's got the car and he skeets off with a woman, he sure as hell won't be bringing you along - which means you'll be pretty much stranded. So yeah, when you play wingman without a car, you look for people who're just there to talk.

Which is where it gets difficult. See, when you've got an ulterior motive, you can't help but think positive: you pretty much will all that adrenaline out of your system. You're a friggin tiger out on the prowl. It gives you an edge. There's also a slight possibility that you will exude a slight pheromone in order to attract the opposite sex.

When you're just there to have fun, you don't do all of this. You are relaxed, and what little musk emanates from you is probably just you - body odor. And that was my biggest problem when I was playing wingman, the one reason that I couldn't bring out my A-game. This led me to try a different approach, which leads me to stating the number one rule of clubbing (which applies both to wingmen and hunters, and pretty much life in general):

Your confidence is your greatest weapon. Use it to your advantage, and great success you will reap.

If you can't do something as simple as that, then don't even think of going to clubs. You'll probably spaz out minutes into the first song - if you ever make it to the dance floor at all.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Day Piracy Suffered a Massive Stroke


Just because you're a pirate, does that make you a pirate?

I'm talking about the recent court ruling in the Pirate Bay piracy case. If you've been keeping tabs, then you'll know that the four founding rulers of the file sharing network were recently found guilty by the Stockholm District court. Their crime: "assisting making available copyright material."

What.

First of all, that's a structurally unsound sentence. Secondly, you can't prosecute a bunch of friends for lending dvds or cd to each other - which is what the Pirate Bay and other file-sharing networks are doing, except that they're working with digital media. This CNN article does a good job of showing us just what the stand of the Pirate Bay is on copyright material - that it's free for everybody, whether you like it or not.

But that didn't stop the big entertainment companies from clamping down on the Pirate Bay, though. But the question in my mind is whether or not the ability to find digital media on the web is tantamount to intellectual theft or not.

Because you know. That'll make me a pirate. Or anybody who's tried looking for a song via Kazaa or Soulseek. Rapidshare users or people who subscribe to Hula.com aren't any different. Because see, if you follow the line of reasoning saying that the acquisition of digital media via the Internet without paying for it prior to your acquisition is tantamount to piracy, then pretty much any Internet user can be considered a thief.

I like the point that Magnus Eriksson pointed out: file sharing is only hurting the prospective returns of the entertainment industry. He also makes sense when he says that any so-called anti-piracy efforts online is equivalent to the prosecution of an individual's right to information - which the Internet vastly revolutionized.

Okay, in a way I'm an artist, and if I ever get published and I see my works spreading on the net as a hastily scanned pdf file, I'll probably hate it as well. But that's the way the ball bounces on the age of the Internet, I think. So it's either you find a way to better protect digital media with a copyright, or you let it slide and just carry on with your work, because you might be able to complain (and indict!) a couple of people responsible for a website, but you can't disillusion the millions of users who believe in what that website stands for.

Monday, April 20, 2009

A Slight Revamp


You might not notice it, but there have been a few changes in the blog these past few days. Some of them have been physical - you might notice that the box surrounding the blog title has become, um, whiter. Or that the links are now orange. Or that ugly-looking widget that people can use to subscribe to my blog. Seriously, it's a nice tool, but it's ugly as hell. I'm thinking of getting rid of that.

But it's what you can't see in this blog that really makes this baby rock. Let me tell you, right here, and right now, that my blog - The Mezzanine of the Zeppelin of Burning Dreams - is at least fifty times more kickass than it used to be.

If you just hit that "read more" link right there, then yes, that's pretty much the reason why this blog has gone from adolescent boy to pure testosterone-filled manhood. See, I have this penchant for writing massively long diatribes about this and that, and some people just don't have the patience to read all that.

It also takes up a lot of space, and I am, if anything, addicted to space-efficiency. Why do you think I want to get rid of that optional RSS feeder right there? It's large, it's clunky, and I feel like I'm pimping something.

Anyway, that's pretty much all that I have to say for today. Let it be said that it took an entire morning's worth of work, but upgrading the template of the Mezzanine was probably one of the best things I could have done for it. Now if only somebody can help me fix my Multiply page.

Friday, April 17, 2009

An Ode to the Motorola L6


Up until last year, my mobile phone was the precursor of the sleek, thin phones that became so fashionable that even the iPhone's design is a testament to just how chic my phone was back in the day.

The unit I speak of is the Motorola L6, a simple phone with nice functions that was enough to keep me happy since I didn't really use it for anything else aside from texting, phone calls, and as a calendar. I lived without a watch for a pretty long time thanks to my trusty L6, and I could connect my phone to the computer and send and receive text messages without having to let go of the keyboard.

I know, I know, that last line reeks of nerd. Sue me. But the fact still remains that after I lost that phone, I had to replace it with a Nokia unit whose proper name escapes me to this day. I now attach my mobile phone to my person at all times, ensuring that people like Obbie will have a hard time reading my messages surreptitiously, and that it will no longer accidentally slip out of my big-ass pockets without my knowledge.

But I sometimes regret not doing that with my old mobile phone. I mean, how difficult was it to connect an ID lace to the L6 and tie it to my belthooks? Man, they say regret always comes in the end and this is me saying yes indeedy.

So now I come to a quandary. I am earning enough to buy myself a new phone, and knowing my friends, they will have plenty of things to say about what model I should get, et cetera. Knowing Nina, if I get a phone that she doesn't like, I will never hear the end of it and will probably have to cower in a hole for the rest of my life in shame. But the thing is, I don't know if I want to get a new phone; I no longer keep track of the newer models, and frankly speaking, if the phone I get departs way too much from the design of the L6, I will cry and probably cut of one of my fingers in remorse.

But the only other mobile phone worth my while is the iPhone, it seems to me. And that unit's hella expensive. I know how I can get one for cheap, but it still entails suffering the monetary consequences for months on end after. Thus my hand is reluctant to pull out my card and grab myself another phone. I mean, that's a LOT of money. And I'm still paying for my bass, among other things.

But if I get myself another L6 or an L7 even, I'll have to face two things:

  • ridicule from one person due to my backwards lax view on what's hot and not in the face of new technology
  • the fact that it's hard to find a store that sells a brand-new L-series unit.

Yet again another quandary.

Of course I could stay with my klunker of a phone that was handed down to me by my brother, and let that be the end of all debates, but knowing me, that just won't happen. Firstly, I hate the color. Orange and white does not sit well with me. And secondly, well. It just isn't my phone. So no matter how much I tell myself that I'll be okay with it, I know that sooner or later, I'll find myself drawn to the malls, looking at the various displays of mobile phones on stores like Semicon and Games and Gadgets.

And I'll feel an L6-shaped hole in my pocket. And begin to think.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Work your way to Happiness. Literally.


I love going to the gym. While it has yet to become one of the things that I absolutely must do in order to call a day complete, I can't say that I mind the sensation of actually working muscles into a physical concept, as opposed to a metaphysical one.

But I managed to find an article related to something Nina showed me a link that blew me away. I never imagined that the opposite gender'll be going for their workouts for a reason far removed from fitness and endorphins. Oh yes, the logic behind this new motive still relies on happiness, but the emphasis is more on instant gratification as opposed to maintenance of moods and increasing the body's capacity for hard work.

I speak of the coregasm. Read the article here, but let me give you the low down on what it is.

The coregasm is, in as few words as possible, an orgasm induced by core workout. I poked around the Internet a bit, and came up with testimonials that validate it's existence, and queries from women who have yet to experience this unprecedented wonder that have -probably- been the deepest, darkest secret of female gym rats for decades now.

There probably haven't been studies about it, so there's no way of saying if the coregasm is rooted on fact or fiction. But the rationale behind it isn't far-fetched - I will not relate how it is possible here, for fear of incriminating myself since my family reads this blog on occasion, so feel free to conduct a little bit of research. It shouldn't take you long - I mean, as far as keywords go, coregasm has got to be one of the most unusual words you can find in any dictionary. I doubt if it'll have any other meaning aside from the obvious.

Monday, April 13, 2009

So It's Lent


And it came and went. How was it spent?

Sorry, I couldn't help myself.

Technically speaking, it's the Easter season now, and will be for several weeks to come. But everybody's sure to post their lenten activities, lemme join in on the fray.

So here was what I did during lent, in no proper order:

1. I slept. Good lord almighty, I don't think I slept as much as I did this season. I would sleep for hours on end, wake up, and then go back to sleep. It was so bad that my cats nearly thought I was comatose.

2. I played Grand Theft Auto 3. Thanks to Bruce who rekindled my interest in the mindless gunning down of NPC's in a sandbox environment like Liberty City. I don't think any vacation is complete without a little bit of de-stress activities, and this was it for me.

3. Learned about, and fully utilised, a whole bunch of streaming websites. I am currently loading Harold and Kumar: Escape from Guantanamo Bay, I managed to catch up on House and Heroes, and rediscovered my roots as a cartoon addict with online streams of Garfield and Friends. And helped Nina discover Madagascar's Penguins. Online streaming is the win.

4. Spent loads of time with myself. I sometimes wonder about people who can't live without other people. A couple of days ago, a friend was panicking because she was left home alone and everybody she knew was out of town. Big deal, I thought. I think learning to enjoy your time by yourself is an essential survival tool humans have to learn - after all, no matter how social a creature we all are, handling solace is still a very important psychological tool.

5. I did not write. Honest to Mergatroid, I did not write one word during this entire break. It feels good. But it also got me thinking about a lot of things. More on this later.

6. Spent some time with the ones who really matter. Whether I'm picking Nina up from the bus station in the morning, or drinking posca with Jon late at night, arguing with my dad or waiting for my mom to finish a complete sentence.

7. Did I mention that I watched Journey to the Center of the Earth as well? I hope that they make a sequel. Real badly.

And that's pretty much it, folks. So how did YOU spend your lenten break?

Sunday, April 12, 2009

The Halo-Halo Special


(This was supposed to be posted way way back. Like a couple of weeks ago. My bad.)

I was running an errand for my father earlier, running to the store to buy a bottle of Coca-Cola. Since it's the summer here in the Philippines, everybody who's even halfway enterprising has set up a stall selling halo-halo, which is pretty much heaven in a tall parfait glass or a plastic cup during the warmer months.


Glorious. None of that Chowking bullcrap for me.

What is it? For the uninitiated non-Pinoy, halo-halo is that holy grail of sidewalk foodstuffs during summer that nobody in his right mind would deny. It is a conglomeration of pandan and coconut jelly, chickpeas, mung beans, saging na saba, corn kernels, pounded dry rice, sugar and shaved ice topped with evaporated milk with a slice of the local custard on top. The really special variants will include coconut shavings and purple yam into the mix. Then you mix, mix, mix the contents around, before you start spooning it into your mouth.

If you're a Pinoy kid who never experienced the joys of halo-halo on summer, you are to be pitied.

Ahem. Anyway. I was buying a bottle of Coke when I saw that the mini mart had opened up their own halo-halo stall - which was excellent, because there can't be enough halo-halo vendors during the summer. I speaketh no bullshit - it gets that hot here in this country, or at least in Manila. But while I was waiting for the woman to finish with her current customer so that I could get the bottle of Coke, something unusual struck my fancy.

The woman was frowning. She looked like she'd rather be elsewhere, and that was considering that she didn't really have to fill a tall parfait glass with the condiments. The halo-halo these guys were making came in those hardly five inches tall plastic cups that would break if the wind blew on them, and yet she was making such an annoying show out of it that I couldn't help but raise an eyebrow at the entire thing.

Let me explain. Back when I was a kid, my next door neighbors were the halo-halo kings along our street. They would set up this table outside their driveway, bring out these big-ass jars of ingredients and a variety of tall glasses, a huge ice chest, AND - get this - an ice shaver. One of those manual implements that looked like it had remained unchanged ever since before the industrial revolution. It had a crank that would require considerable effort to turn considering it was solid ice it was churning, and it was cool to see the folks who ran the stall have at it whenever they'd run out of reserve ice. They'd sweat like fuck-all, but the kids enjoyed waiting, and you know the vendor had fun too, when they exchanged a freezing glass for fifteen pesos with a smile.

That's dedication for you. None of these people who have too many important things to do that they can't mix a small cup of halo-halo with a smile. These guys were the heroes of the street urchins - myself included - during those hot summer afternoons, and it's a pity that it's hard to find somebody who put so much effort and love into churning enough ice to fill the tall halo-halo glasses waiting in the hands of small and sweltering kids that smelled of sun (thanks to Nina for this little bit of transliteration, haha: I wouldn't know how to describe amoy araw in English) due to an afternoon out in the streets playing games that only children will know well.