Saturday, August 19, 2006

[Blog Entry] Link Time

Link Time

Again, it's that time when I suddenly start posting links which nobody visits anyway.

First up is the "Hostile Intent Detector" (alternate link) which I've been telling people in real life but no one would believe. In light of today's terrorist attacks, Israel's installing this in their airports. So far there's a small chance of error (under 10%), but if this gets installed in American airports, whatever happened to the American belief of setting 9 guilty men free instead of imprisoning one innocent man?

A few years back, I was meeting a friend at a mall and expecting him to call me where to meet up with him. Unfortunately, the mobile phone battery died. Ever since then, I've been trying to sell the idea of mobile phone chargers in public places. For a brief period, there was an attempt to do so but it never caught on, thus fading into existence. Well, the idea has caught on in Europe with chargebox, which not only charges your phone, but your PDA, mp3 players, and portable games as well.

Last year, there have been these D&D ads attacking the MMORPGs. I don't have a scanned picture with me right now (but the photo is priceless if you get to see it), but the latest tagline is "At least you'll know when the hot elf chick is a dude."

Oh, and while wireless seems to be the current wave of the future, it's a shame when your old, antiquated devices don't have the capability. Eye.Fi seems to have the right idea since instead of selling digital cameras with wifi capability, it sells memory cards which give your existing digital cameras access to wifi. And the 1 GB memory ain't shabby.

The ultimate tribute to rock stars at a concert, of course, would be waving your lighter when it's pitch black. This is simply, uh, ridiculous?

And just to show that not all the niftiest ideas need to be complex, check out this keyboard oraganizer.

For the ultimate couch potato, check out this baby. Plays everything from your living room. And that 1 TB hard drive would make any videophile drool (at least for this year).

Of course if I were you, in order to maximize that 1 TB HD, I'd subscribe to FiOs which offers 15 mbps for $49.95. There's an even faster speed, 30 mbps, but the price range seems to vary significantly depending on your area ($199.95 vs $54.95). Of course with a maximum of 2 mbps upstream, you'll wonder what site you can visit that'll actually let you download stuff at 15 mbps.

Meanwhile, while you're expecting nanotechnology to be benefiting the science of medicine, it's being put to a more practical application in the military with this fluidic armor.

Oh, and cars of the future will have their engines on the wheels.

And as much as I relish the thought of an anti-smoking vaccine, the trick will be convincing your smokaholic writer friends to actually partake of the drug. Unless you secretly slip it into their beer.

And if you want to get away from all of this, try visiting a freezone.

Read more!

Friday, August 18, 2006

[Blog Entry] Women are from Venus...

Women are from Venus...

I should know better, but when I ask girls to go out (on a plutonic basis), they agree, and then some time between saying yes and actually meeting, they'll bring someone else with them. "I'm bringing --- along, is that okay?" At that point, the polite thing would be to say yes (because how can you say no, especially when they inform you of that ten minutes prior to actually meeting?) Some even bring up that fact only when you're already face to face with them.

That's not to say guys are less attached to company. But we usually go about it differently. Before we say "yes" to the meeting, we're already fishing for information. "Who else is coming? Who's going to be there? Can I bring --- along?" And then guys will negotiate and argue on whether they're actually going or who they're going with, but once you get them to agree, there's rarely any surprise left after that, short of an actual unforeseen event or emergency.

Moral of the lessons? Girls say yes first, then asks questions later. Guys ask questions first before finally saying yes.

Read more!
[Blog Entry] Fear of Warcraft, Bridge Bookstore, Training

Fear of Warcraft

Right now, I honestly fear playing any video games. Because if I do, I expect I'll regress of my old self, and that's not what I need to be doing now. Read! Write!

Bridge Bookstore

So despite the fact that Virra Mall has been up and running for quite some time now and it's relatively close enough for me to walk from home (i.e. a 15-minute dash), I haven't really been to the place. Until now.

Perhaps one of the most refreshing things upon setting foot there once again is that there are no DVD vendors to harass you. And strangely enough, it retains a semblance of its old layout that exploring Virra Mall is exciting. The only thing disconcerting is it's SM feel (the sight of SM Appliance Store!).

Some of you who've visited the place should know by now that A Different Bookstore has a branch there. The Cubao branch has been closed down a few months ago, partly due to the finances, and partly due to the fact that it's been breaken into more than once. And so the staff (and a single couch) has been relocated to Virra Mall on the 2nd floor. Guess that's one more reason to visit the Greenhills area (now if only Booktopia would relocate...).

However, that's not the most surprising thing. On the ground floor, when I dropped by there today, was a new bookstore being set up, albeit it's one with an old name. Goodwill Bookstore putting on a new persona with Bridge Bookstore. So far, it wasn't open as its staff were still putting books on the shelves. Hopefully, by the next time I visit, it was well worth the trip and the wait.


Anyone know where I can buy wrist and ankle weights? I don't really have the time to work out, and so it seems the most efficient way for me to develop my muscles (because I've been developing my cardio for the past eight years, partly due to my respiratory problems) seems to be lugging around weights ala Dragonball style. I already have the turtle shell, just need the wrist and ankle weights.

On a side note, climbing sixteen flights of stairs at least once a week has finally paid off. I can sprint eight floors ascending without getting dizzy or losing breath.

Read more!

Thursday, August 17, 2006

[Essay] Evolution


It’s human nature to cling to the past. To many, it’s a comfort zone, an idealized world of what things were like in “better” days. We have many words for these kinds of people: conservative, traditional, old-fashioned. Not that these traits should always be viewed in a negative light. There is virtue in the past after all, just as there are vices.

To some people though, there are sacred cows which appear to be unassailable by time: history and language. Yet nothing can be farther from the truth. All things change eventually, even if at times they will revert to a previous incarnation, for change is still present in regression. It is too easy to forget that history and language are tools of humans, and human beings are always in a constant state of flux.

The historians might ask how can history change if it has already happened? A valid question, to be sure, and the cynical might reply that we build a time machine. But one is not needed. We must remember that history, in the end, is about perception, and there are many illusions that can fool the senses. There is an old saying that it is the winners who write history, and there is probably no truer statement than that when you look at the past few centuries of Philippine history. When the country was under Spanish rule, who do you think was the hero that was praised in the history books? For a period in time, Filipinos praised Magellan for “discovering” the Philippines. It wasn’t until the yoke of colonial rule was broken that Lapu-Lapu was hailed as a hero in lessons taught to children. Or take a more recent view of things. Emilio Aguinaldo, the country’s first president, was again hailed as a hero during his prime. What few people realize is that his betrayal of Andres Bonifacio was easily omitted, until election time came once again, and the nation’s first president pitted himself against one of the most political-savvy presidents our nation gave birth to: Manuel Quezon. Did the facts change? No. But the perception of the facts did. In fact, some of the facts weren’t even known depending on the circumstance. Fossil fuel, for example, might be a boon during the industrial age, but who knows what generations from now will think of it? Poison, pollutant, or power perhaps?

But while there is politics involved when it comes to history, how can something as benign as language be affected? It is tempting to isolate politics from language, but the two are more entwined than most people think. Again, one merely needs to look at our nation. Who determined our national language? There must have been an arbiter to declare that the indios of this archipelago spoke Tagalog, and would later change to Spanish, then English, and finally Pilipino. But one might argue there is a change between languages used, and that for the most part, a language remains the same language as it was. What one must realize that language is just as living and evolving as history. The only language that has ceased changing is Latin, yet people can always find new idioms and metaphors for the so-called dead language. Just look at English. There’s no word that has mutated as much as “nice”, for example. From its etymological roots meaning stupid, it’s now used as a compliment. Other languages are more blatant in their adoption of change. The Japanese, for example, have an entire alphabet called katakana which is used for words borrowed from other countries: terebi for TV, oisuki for whiskey. The Chinese spell non-native words either through their literal meaning, or by how the word would sound in Chinese. And Filipinos are always speaking in Pilipino-English (or Taglish) that the line between what is English and what is Pilipino is getting blurred. And these past two decades alone has given birth to several new words in the English language: Internet, anime, blog. And there are several words that have taken the place of their more generic counterparts such as “Xerox” popping up more frequently than the word “photocopy” for example. Or words that have taken new and additional meanings, such as the word “gay” being more than just a synonym for happy.

Yet people will always insist that what they think is true to be the only truth in the world. As if change is a word that is merely spoken, but never applied to themselves or those around them. Not that constancy is a bad thing: if everything was always changing, we’d be in constant state of chaos. People would have no basis or common ground for their history, and communication would simply be ineffective if we continued to speak in varying levels and meaning. But taking that into consideration, where does that leave us? Are we to love change, or loathe it?

One of the most beautiful and frightening things about being human is that we are walking paradoxes. We struggle against change, but we eventually succumb to it. We try to experience new sensations, but old habits are difficult to break. To resist change absolutely is to die, for only the dead ceases to evolve. But to embrace change wholeheartedly is similarly lethal, for we have lost our identity, if not our physical self. Both elements are warring with each other in the human soul, sometimes one side overcoming the other more frequently. But that is not to say we should always be resisting change. As a person greater than me once said, there’s a time and place for everything.

Constancy can be part of memory, while change is something we might aspire or hope for. In the meantime, the present has room for life, whatever life means to you.

Read more!
[Blog Entry] Insomiac Nights, Sick Because of Work

Insomiac Nights

Currently, insomia is a mixed blessing for me. The bad news is I can't sleep. The good news is that there's all these ideas flowing in my head (hence the sudden jolt of blog entries) that needs to be written.

Unfortunately, fatigue prevents the stories from being written. Unless I invent the world's first time machine.

Sick Because of Work

I'm sick. Because of work. I mean literally. Right now I'm doing research, all of which contribute to my declining health.

First are the bound newspapers from 1986 until the present. Aside from exposing myself to the dirt that is inevitable with newsprint, the tomes are dusty. And heavy. I don't know which'll kill me first, the dirt or the fatigue from my bones and muscles. You don't need a bookworm, you need a bodybuilder to lift those things.

The alternative to browsing through newspapers would be the microfilm. Except navigating through microfilm makes me dizzy. I suffer from motion sickness watching people play Counterstrike. The same goes for watching objects traveling at a fast speed. Which can't be avoided if you actually want to turn to the next page or so when using the Microfilm projector.

And, and I was browsing through old photos as well. Which turns out to be dustier than the newspapers. One photographer sorted through the photos and came out sick one week later. Haven't had a fever in years but had one a few weeks ago thanks to a week's exposure. I expect a second one is coming if I don't stop soon...

Read more!
[Blog Entry] Anecdotes from the Cyber Mall

Anecdotes from the Cyber Mall

I did not exagerrate when I previously blogged about meeting acquaintances in Eastwood. It seems that every day I'm there, there's a story to tell. I found myself there, an hour early for my meeting. It wasn't even a five minute stroll when I bumped into a classmate of mine from high school. As expected with people who've spent more than three quarters of their life studying, one of the first questions we ask each other is what we do for a living (aside from bumming around that is). After trying to explain what exactly an editorial assistant does (a chore only rivaled by explaining what exactly a producer does, and my boss being the spontaneous person that he is doesn't help), he replies that he works for IBM. Thankfully, not in the call center industry, which is what you'd expect from a) fresh graduates and b) people working in Eastwood.

Once our farewells have been said and done, I resume going to my destination. Except I run into another acquaintance of mine again, this time a blockmate from my freshman year. I don't really need to write what's the first question we ask each other. I say my spiel (magazine, yada yada, editorial assistant, yada yada...) but what surprises me is that she gives me the same answer from my previous encounter. Oh, you work there too (figures as much if they're coming out of the same building at almost the same time).

While I'm grateful that my two acquaintances aren't in the call industry, my heart goes out to all the tech support agents of Dell (being one in the past), even those in India. The recent spontaneous combustion and recall of Dell laptops is going to be a nightmare, either for the consumer or the tech rep you're calling.

Read more!
[Blog Entry] Romance on Microfilm

Romance on Microfilm

One thing I never got right was the difference between microfiche and microfilm. They look (and sound) the same to me. Anyway, I've been researching at the Philippine Star's library for the past week, and it's only today that I got to use the Microfilm projector.

Not that it was my first time handling one. While we always see it in movies (from budding newspaper journalists to student researchers), the closest I got to seeing one in real life was at the Ateneo de Manila University's library. As a freshman, we were given a tour of the library, and the microfilm room was on the ground floor, easily one of the first rooms you see upon entering the place. Not that I found the time to actually use it, but I was always remotely interested in trying out gadgets.

Still, it won't be until my second or third year that I would have actually been forced to use one. I forgot if it was for Filipino (2nd year) or History (3rd year) class (perhaps it was even my Social Anthropology class), but we were required to do research. We were to submit a report on the events that transpired on the day we were born.

What I do remember is that when I got to the Microfilm room, my crush (which, after spening my entire college years courting, should honestly be no secret as to who it is, except to my blockmates since my red herring worked too well...) followed suit. Unfortunately, she hasn't been talking to me for several months, and it still pained (and thrilled) me to see her. We shared two things in common though: the same professor (albeit in a different schedule), and absolute bafflement on how to go about using microfilm.

Us not being the only students of the same professor, there were other students in the room, all in a rush to find the appropriate microfilm and machine. My birthday and my crush's birthday was two months apart, but since broadsheets were thin back then, me and my crush were after the same roll of microfilm. Me being the better navigator (or as my friends will later discover, the more efficient finder when it comes to looking for stuff in a shelf, especially books), I was the first one to grab on to the microfilm. Sensing that this was a good opportunity to rekindle our friendship, I offered that we work together. She agreed and actually talked to me, breaking the silent treatment she had given for a few semesters.

And then we came upon the microfilm projector which I had no idea to use. I don't even need to tell my male readers how important it is to a guy's ego to look like he knows what he's doing (that's why males don't like getting unheeded advice). I didn't pretend knowing what to do. My only consolation there is that she didn't either. We called for the librarian. He chided us for being juniors (or sophomores, depending on how accurate my memory serves) and not knowing how to use the microfilm projector, and did a quick sample. Fortunately for me, I quickly caught on to it and started doing my homework.

Suffice to say, she still didn't know how to use it after one demonstration, so I helped her with the microfilm projector. I even navigated it to the date she was supposed to be searching for. More could have been achieved that day but it was not destined to be so. The bell rang, and I had a class. She didn't. I said my farewells, and went to class. She stayed, and didn't look back to see me leave.

Read more!

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

[Blog Entry] The Terror or Terrorists

The Terror of Terrorists

Taking a page from George R. R. Martin's blog, I think some people have forgotten what exactly it is terrorists do. More than the arson, more than the murders, it's about sowing terror.

Judging from the responses of the US and the UK as of late, it seems that their government is doing exactly what the terrorists set out to do: giving in to fear. I mean so far, it's a lose-lose situation. They don't stop the terrorists, the nation is caught in its grip of terror amidst much destruction. When they do manage to apprehend and prevent terrorism, the nation is still overwhelmed by fear.

Of course it's easy to say this and that, especially with us being far way from either country. But honestly, we've experienced something like it. It wasn't so long ago that bombs were planted in key locations in the country, from shopping malls to public transportation vehicles. The bombings have stopped by the security precaution's haven't. Until this day, there are armed security men and women guarding the entrances of malls and the MRT, performing bag searches and the occasional frisking. Let's be honest, this really isn't much a deterrent. The searches aren't thorough enough to prevent anyone from concealing dangerous weapons. All it does is slow down the line and hassle people. That and giving people muscle cramps as they suspend their bags on one arm.

Read more!
[Blog Entry] Some Things That Don't Really Go Together

Some Things That Don't Really Go Together

Found myself at Powerbooks this evening, and on one of the tables were books that were bundled together. One combination caught my eye. A Stephen King book was packaged with an Anne Rice novel. Sounds appropriate right, considering they both write for the horror genre, right?

Except you know, Stephen King writes more than just horror, and the same goes for Anne Rice. The said Stephen King novel belonged to his Dark Tower series, and while it has an eerie mood, belongs more to fantasy. But that's really not such a big transition, from horror to fantasy. Except the Anne Rice novel was a deviant as well. The book in question belonged to her Beauty series, which is more along the lines of erotica.

Read more!

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

[Blog Entry] Babblings When You’re Stranded or A Blog Entry if my Life Were Fictional

Babblings When You’re Stranded or A Blog Entry if my Life Were Fictional

Currently writing this, by hand (!), at Seattle’s Best in Eastwood, Libis while waiting for a date that just got cancelled. Unfortunately, I ordered the wrong drink. My fault really, one for not looking carefully and missing the “hot classics” part, and two for underestimating how much chocolate my drink contains (I was distracted by the “raspberry” in Rasberry Mocha Kiss).

My sole consolation in all of this is that there’s no distractions while I write. Well, that is until my allergies kick in, and I have to contend with a cold with thanks to all the chocolate I’m imbibing. But I can always pass off my cold as a result of the weather.

Moving on, the most striking event the previous week was attending a friend’s birthday party (to be honest, I was only invited by chance, and I don’t get invited to birthday parties often as of late). What caught me off guard that evening was when the women in the room unanimously agreed that a guy has a better chance when the woman says “no” to a relationship, as opposed to “I’ll think about it.” Just goes to show how different men think from women, and how each one can misinterpret the other’s words and actions.

Normally, guys will take an answer literally. “I’ll think about it” translate to “I have an actual chance, even if it’s small.” How are we supposed to know that it’s actually “I pity you and I haven’t the heart to break it to you,” or “I never even considered it, so let’s end the conversation here.”

Of course judging from my track record of females hating me, this should be good news. But chances are, if I ask a girl that I’m actually interested in or remotely attracted to, I’ll probably get the “I’ll think about it” answer as the image I’ve been cultivating for the past few years is the nice, meek guy (or so I’d like to believe). I’m the occasional friend you meet and have a nice chat with but that’s probably the extent of it. There’s absolutely no sense of mystery, danger, or allure surrounding me. If I was a flavor, I’d be vanilla.

The other question I’d want to ask is how do you ask someone out? Is it like asking a normal friend out, except you’re carrying all this emotional baggage and sexual innuendo? Perhaps the better question isn’t how you ask someone out, but how would you like to be asked. In a realistic sense, of course. We all want the romantic, heroic courtship but life’s usually more mundane. If I could directly ask a person if I can go out with them, that’s perfectly fine with me, but that’s most likely the fastest way to get turned down as well. Unless you happen to be this handsome, suave guy. Which I’m not, I’d like to remind you (or for the sake of the people who haven’t met me in real life).

Allow me to take a break as I start feeling my fingers again. Ahhh. Another reason to stick to typing on a keyboard.

Again, I’m here at Eastwood, Libis, which is one of the call center hubs in Manila. It’s not even a weekend, and the night is very much alive. Had to briefly stop writing as one of my friends from college dropped by, and we said hello to each other. Apparently, the Cyber Mall (which is anything but a Cyber Mall, unless you count all the call center offices stationed above it) is the perfect spot to stalk call center agents. I can just sit down here and acquaintances will pass through the door (as far as I know, there are only two entrances/exits, and one of them involves taking the stairs).

The other evening I was here, I ran into three familiar faces in just ten minutes. It seems my generation is marked by call center employment. Either that or network marketing escapades. I mean who here is 24, and hasn’t experienced either one? At the very least, you’ll know someone who’s tried it. For me, call centers are the McDonalds of the middle-class. It’s usually a job you’ll take for the money but won’t stay too long in. And you still have shifting, especially with the recent 24-hour trends of fast food chains.

Call centers have also been known to throw a monkey wrench into relationships, especially with the prevalence of such “career opportunities”. I have a friend, a call center agent, who used to court a 9 am – 6 pm employee. Sacrifices in time and priorities have to be made. Not to mention you don’t necessarily have the weekends off.

Usually, it’s long distance relationships that guys tend to shy away from. I wonder if dating call center agents will be the next taboo. Of course if you’re a call center agent and you’re dating a coworker, there’s not really much of a problem there. I’ve seen it happen, and it’s all too common seeing call center couples. Some are even married (but God forbid they marry at the work place), or so I hear. Of course one of my male friends was complaining the other day at how he can’t use his paternal leaves (applying for leaves is a tedious and uncertain process in the call center industry, to say the least). Don’t blame the company though, it’s because he’s single, and he’s frustrated that he has leaves which he doesn’t have access to.

Just got two text messages, one from my boss telling me to clean up my desk. Never thought I’d see the day when an employer would allot office time for an employee to clean his desk, unless it’s time to fire them. The other text message is from the person I’m supposed to meet. She’ll be here. Soon. I reply that I’ll be here, waiting.

That’s a turn off, right? A guy that’s perpetually waiting for the girl. Sure, it might sound romantic to some, but when it’s staring at you in reality, romance isn’t the first word that comes to mind (hint: it starts with the letter p).

It’s surprising how much writing you can get done while waiting for other people. It’s been what, an hour and a half? I once had a photo shoot where my photographer was late for three hours. I had to—

--end it here. The person I’m stalking meeting just passed by.

Read more!
[Plug] The Filipino Comics Artist and Manga

The Filipino Comics Artist and Manga

A bit delayed, but Gerry has an insightful entry on the local comic industry.

Read more!
[Blog Entry] Blogging Habits

Blogging Habits

Ever since I started working more than a year ago (sometime in January of 2005), my blogging (and reading... and writing) habits have simply slumped. There was a time when I'd visit all my friends's blogs religiously, but now, the sad fact is, I don't. There are several reasons, everything from the increasing number of bloggers to occassional updates on people's blogs, but the fact of the matter is, work has been taking a significant chunk of time.

By no means does that mean I don't read blogs anymore. I usuallly check my email and livejournal friend's page at least once a day (barring Internet disconnection or me stranded in a rural area), but unfortunately, blogger doesn't really have a feature wherein I can view all the blogs I visit in one page (yes, yes, there are pages where you have links to all your acquaintances's blogs and RSS feeds, but that's different from viewing the entire entry of each and every person you know). Most likely, the only time I visit other people's blogs is when they comment, hehehe. Or when my stalker sense tingles.

Of course I'd expect in the future, when mobile technology progresses to the point that I can surf the Internet from my phone cheaply (alas, we're not Japan where G3 is pervasive) and read people's blogs while stranded in traffic or in the MRT (while evading cellphone snatchers of course), but that's a tomorrow that has yet to occur.

Read more!

Sunday, August 13, 2006

[Plug] Global Dawn Novel

Global Dawn Novel

In livejournal land, I've recently been "friended" by Deborah Gelbard, a writer from Israel who just got her first book published. Her book is entitled Global Dawn, and is available at her website.

Read more!