Posted on | August 23, 2016 | No Comments
Behind every absent employee is a happy kid and a worried spouse. – Me.
As our young boy puts it, ”Daddy, you have an extra Saturday!” This he said after learning that I won’t be able to report to work because my car’s air conditioner conked out on a high noon yesterday. This is why children, no matter how annoying they could get, are little angels—or clowns—who possess the ability to make us smile whenever we need to have some. It wasn’t the extra Saturday I wished I had but there was no choice.
After having nightmares about car repairs and empty wallets, start of the day today I faced my fear head on. I went back to the aircon repair shop anticipating a long day ahead, another day of waiting for a Pandora’s box from the car’s hood to be spread its ugly surprise. But God must have heard our bedtime prayers and must have checked my bank account balance. The mechanic made a quick bypass of the compressor’s wiring and voila, cold air from the vents.
Returning home a lot earlier than expected, I found myself seated across wifey who was then busy with her regular task of cleaning Marcus’ Legos and other building blocks. Besides being impressed by her patience to place everything back in order despite knowing that it would be a matter of time when our young boy disassembles everything according to his own liking—which did happen—I noticed something that captured my attention. A nice Lego hack. There’s no need to wait for the next Mothers’ Day or Valentines’ Day to give compliment for this one little trick…plus the fact she paid most of the car’s repair.
This is the first time the car’s air-conditioning got busted. It was due to a loose compressor bearing that eventually resulted to the wheel grinding on the magnetic coil set. Repair costs us Php 6,000 plus. I might need more carpool passengers or those who could pay more.
Mood: 2/10 Honks! (I was expecting to take public transpo for a week but I’m not.)
Posted on | August 21, 2016 | No Comments
Suicide sucks. One way or another we know someone who ended his own life. They may be a family member, a relative, a friend, a co-worker, or even a celebrity. Suicide is far worse than someone dying from an accident because it takes the lives of people close to us when in fact there could have been someone who could have done something to delay if not totally prevent it. People who die of suicide are those who needed support of someone. Someone who could have talked them out of the situation, someone with a clear state of mind who could have made them realize that life if far more precious than they think. Back in the days, lack of access to suicide hotlines or a close friend who is willing to listen and give advice would often be one of the causes of people ending their own life in such tragic manner.
The good news is that nowadays we have something powerful on our side. The social media. With its broad reach, such network of like-minded people ready to support a particular cause could positively impact or even save someone’s life. So when I read on Facebook about #22pushups for #22kill, as US-based campaign, I just know that this is something I can contribute to. I shunned the ice bucket challenge that went viral years ago but I recently heard that it wasn’t just all about the hype as it actually resulted to more awareness on ALS and for its research and support to progress. This is the same hope that #22pushups for #22kill aims to achieve. Clearly it isn’t the solution but it is worth the shot. So on a Sunday afternoon while Marcus’ cousins invade the house, I retreated in his red room and made my own 22 push ups. I ended with a flared nose but I am just happy to be part of it. As of this writing, the site’s counter is at 8 million push ups over the 22 million goal so make yours count now.
Mood: 3/10 Honks! (First time to see the form, need to go deeper.)
Posted on | August 15, 2016 | No Comments
Ever had one of those days when that bulb inside your head lights up and you believe that you just struck the best idea? Then you smile and feel good about yourself, you feel smarter than the rest. But sometimes, things do not come out as planned. It is not because you happen to be one of the regular joes who lack the resources to get your light bulb idea materialize. Even corporations who probably have the right research and development budget are not spared from such failures. Countless of seemingly promising products have flopped just because it missed to deliver its intended purpose.
In July, besides Pokemon Go, another company revealed to the world their design of a toilet plunger that they think would be effective and at the same time make the task fun than it is supposed to be. I was already skeptic at the latter despite the product’s integrated poop shape and emoji-inspired design but I smirked more about it being effective. Called the Poo-Plunger, it promises to solve the crappy job of sending that thing down the drain in no time. The article says that the product’s designer are into crowdfunding to support the project. I salute their effort to donate some of the proceeds to charity but my fascination of their idea stops there.
Why such hatred? Well, we had a similar product at home. One of the links I marked as favorite was an article 18 Everyday Products You’ve Been Using Wrong which I read three years ago and when we finally transferred house I made sure that I buy the right toilet plunger. Marcus wasn’t a fan of drinking water so every now and then we would encounter that problem in the toilet. We’ve tried fibrous diet but we keep on being face to face with that thing. So I thought that maybe there’s a solution and I seem to finally have found the right tool. I was wrong.
Theoretically the plunger should work. Create a good seal, pump the plunger and let the air in its bellow send the hideous stuff down the drain. Simple, right? Yes, if and only if you get the thing pushed down in the first try. Miss it and you will soon realize that when you retract the plunger, everything that’s left is sucked back in the empty space of the plunger—think of an empty medicine dropper that you dip in a bottle. The gurgling sound it makes is nightmare material. The description ‘as scary as shit’ would be technical. We’re now back to encouraging Marcus to eat oatmeal and vegetables.
So do not feel bad if ever you failed to make your bright ideas come to life. Do not rush. Be happy to push it back and go back once again to the drawing board unless you secretly plan to make someone other people’s lives more crappy as a result of your half-baked light bulb moment. Now I wonder if the makers of the Poo-Plunger have their own nine-digit number. I might check later.
Mood: 4/10 Honks! (Blame the article on the weather.)
Posted on | July 31, 2016 | No Comments
Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves. – Carl Jung, Swiss Psychologist
I love driving. There’s something about being behind the wheel that makes me relax. My daily commute allows me to be just on my own and be in control although every now and then my patience and tolerance of other drivers would be tested. When I’m inside, the car becomes my personal space—my mobile man cave.
Don’t get me wrong though. I also love driving for other people. In fact, I have driven several times for friends or relatives without me charging them. Sending anyone to the airport are my favorite trips—looks like I enjoy sending people away. There were also countless times I offered to help people who were stranded or in need of road side assistance and there were even instances when I have helped people reach the hospital.
The idea of a carpool, however, is a different matter. It’s something I find difficult to commit but it’s also something that seems inevitable. So I think it is about time I set some rules that would make our trip bearable to avoid any awkward moments, especially those I encountered from previous carpools.
Let me make it clear that my car is messy. You may find shoes and socks, blankets, and books in random places. To make it worse, I stopped using car freshener as the doctor advised to prevent our kid’s asthma from being triggered. You are under the mercy of the power of the baking soda that has been around since January. You may use mask, I won’t mind.
My days of reckless driving are over. I drive so slow that I seldom hit 100 kph. And in this era of social media and dashcams, I don’t want to be that one bald guy in a car with a handicap sticker recorded crisscrossing the expressway and be featured on either TopGearPH’s or James Deakin’s Facebook page. I have my own bashers so let’s not add more to it anymore. If we leave late, we will be late.
I am no Uber driver—not yet—so don’t trust me to check my phone for your whereabouts. The rules making it illegal to use the phone while driving was also recently approved and I don’t want to get a ticket just because I picked up your frantic call. If I don’t see you around, I go. I bet you’ll find friendlier jeepney drivers to drive you to work.
Contrary to popular rules of riding shotgun, I prefer my passenger to be less chatty or better yet stay asleep. The AM station feed should be enough to keep me up. I warn you though that I sometimes sing along when I hear my favorite song on FM stereo so deal with it. Try to stay or pretend to be asleep nevertheless. Don’t sing along, you’re not in James Corden’s show.
Sick people will not be allowed. Please don’t show up if you have any hint of infectious disease. Do not add up to the existing molds inside the car. I may have become immune to these but not to the common cold. Don’t worry, it’s more likely that your seatmates at work would likewise appreciate your absence.
My ageing sedan sits only four people, me included. Extra baggage will not be allowed entry. If you plan to bring bulky stuffs to sell in the workplace let me know so we can go through the process of Big-Brother-like eviction of people in the carpool. Bags of herbal supplement or whitening soap will be reconsidered but talks about me joining your multilevel network will evict you out immediately.
Lastly, if you don’t see it in me, I’m also broke. The only difference between you and me is that I have my own car and you don’t have one for now. Maybe your networking business will get you one soon but until then I would be very glad if on your way out you leave something monetary. My car has several compartments and cup holders where you can place your bill discreetly.
Like any other, driver or not, I know you understand that feeling of resentment when your personal space is intruded. Come to think of it, this must be the very reason road rage happens when people feel that someone crosses that line into what they perceive as their own space or comfort zone. I would love to give you a lift but if you find any of these carpool rules hard to follow please let me know. Driving alone is always an option.
Electricity was out yesterday so I took the opportunity to practice backing in and out our very tight parking space. Wifey was my coach. Of all people.
Mood: 2/10 Honks! (Cool and gloomy Sunday.)
Posted on | July 28, 2016 | No Comments
The results of the blood test made last weekend is out and there is good news. Both CK & CK-MB levels are down compared to the previous results. This third test has the lowest so far. The baseline for the normal values vary from one online source to another but I made the graphs below to illustrate how significant the latest results are.
According to Mayo Clinic, the normal CK level within the age range of Marcus is 150-499. Using the highest limit, Marcus Creatine Kinase (CK) level is just 2000% this time. Relatively high but it’s way better than the result prior to it.
CK-MB level follows suit. To explain what CK-MB is I would liken it to a story most of us have probably heard when we were in grade school. Remember The Leak in the Dike? CK-MB is basically a measurement of a leak which means that ideally there shouldn’t be any level of it in the blood result. Normal blood test results should show almost zero. Mayo Clinic says that males would have a reference value of < or =7.7 ng/mL. That’s 7.7 nanograms per milliliter–a lot smaller than a single tear drop. The CK-MB test results we got from Hi-Precision Diagnostic Clinic are in Units/Liter (U/L) and internet sources say it cannot be directly converted to ng/mL unit which means the percentage on my graphs could be off (those are rounded off figures anyway).
My wife and I could only assume which factors attributed to the improvement in the blood test. It was after the second test when the doctor prescribed to double the dosage of the Co-Q10. Marcus has been taken 200mg every night since then together with an intake of Alpha-Lipoic. It was also during this time when Marcus began to have frequent sessions with the manghihilot. The skeptic in me couldn’t see that there’s a direct benefit but there’s nothing to lose.
And there’s one thing that could highly likely affected the results. The doctor’s advice prior to taking each test was to minimize Marcus’ physical activities and we just realized that sometime in February this year he totally lost his capacity to stand and walk on his own. Since then, he has remained seated either playing games or watching TV. In this case, being immobile was both a bad thing and a good thing. Sigh.
We are yet to see the doctor to interpret the results but for now we are thankful that it wasn’t the result that we were expecting. Please continue to keep us in your prayers.
Hi-Precision Diagnostics has been accommodating us very well so far. The closest clinic to us now is their branch in Sta. Rosa, Laguna wherein the same professional and friendly personnel took good care of Marcus. Kudos to this company.
Mood: 3/10 Honks! (If miracles come true…)
Posted on | July 24, 2016 | No Comments
The first quarter of this year was when I made my slow return to riding my BMX bike again. Our new place is less than five kilometers from a park where local BMX riders hang around. While my riding sessions haven’t been as regular as more than 20 years ago, I once again become aware and interested in the country’s and international BMX scene. And I can see that BMX sport continues to evolve. BMX riders are now more daring and the new tricks they can do are just unreal. My favorite flatland isn’t the flatland that I used to know. Good signs that behind the seemingly common fixies, MTB’s and Triathlon bikes, BMX too has become just as popular.
To prove that local BMX is gaining grounds, riders in the Philippines have been celebrating BMX day. It isn’t clear though when it first started. Even Google doesn’t offer a definite answer if, when and where the first BMX day originated. But July 23 seems to be the D-Day. So on Saturday riders of BMX bikes in the country gathered together in their respective rendezvous. Fans and pros alike pedaled around in numbers in Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao to celebrate. Knowing the potential of this sport, I would have loved to be part of this celebration.
Back in my younger years, we never had an annual BMX day event. In my days, every weekend is our BMX day and, for the lack of Facebook and social media, I only know that our team was the only BMX freestyler (hint on the term) team in Bacolod City. I even would bet that in the city’s BMX community anyone would recognize the name Linear Radicals. We were a familiar sight in the Bacolod City Lagoon—bikes were allowed inside back then. People stop and stare when we start jamming around. We would make heads turn when we do impromptu tricks in the crowded streets during the MassKara festival. There was even a time when we packed our bikes in a small pickup truck and headed somewhere far north to be part of a town’s fiesta. There was another team who did the racing event but ours took over the stunt show. Modesty aside, for once, we were famous in our own rights.
Fast forward to 2016, the BMX scene changed a lot. Think of heavy black rotary phone versus sleek smartphones. Change was rad. I remember the first time we saw on Betamax the first time an American perfected the tailwhip air on a vert ramp but locals nowadays can pop one from a bunnyhop. It is just unbelievable to see that the BMX flatland tricks my generation once do are now considered basics. The scuff tricks are now used to progress to far more technical rolling tricks. Even young riders nowadays would transition from one trick to another through a short squeakerson, front yard, backyard, or funky chicken. And did I mention they do all these brakeless?
While the BMX flatland tricks have become more complicated, the BMX parts and its setup is the opposite. It is now common to see totally brakeless bikes which means brake levers, calipers and detanglers are starting to be obsolete. BMX flatland riders also now prefer chainwheels with only 25 teeth and they have also set the seat lower than before. With lesser and smaller yet better parts, what’s left is the basic bike that is less cumbersome thus making it an effective street or BMX flatland bike. Despite its simplicity, prices do not come cheap. Popular price range is 10,000-20,000 pesos.
The BMX sport will surely get better and bigger. In the Philippines alone, popular riders like Paulo Gepulango (proudly from Bacolod) and Renz Viaje, who in the recent years joined an It’s Showtime contest, continue to inspire new generations of BMX flatland riders. There’s also this promising BMX team in Bohol who made me realize that there’s more to this place than just its Chocolate Hills and tarsiers—I would definitely try to find where they hang out if I get the chance to travel down south.
Philippine BMX flatland videos always zap me back in time when all we care about is BMX (yup, I’ve skipped classes for it). Every time I see one makes a part of me a very young boy eager to get on a bike to see if I can pop a wheelie for starters but another part an old man conceding that what these young lads do aren’t for me anymore. By the way, those guys I hang out with in Tanauan are half my age so I guess I could claim to be their father of BMX. Regardless, I think nobody is too old for BMX so I will remain to be a big fan of this sport and would like to continue seeing more of it. To old-schoolers and young BMX riders alike, more power.
Mood: 2/10 Honks! (Almost on tip-top shape.)
Posted on | July 19, 2016 | No Comments
“Please fix the creaking hinges of Marcus’ room,” my wife requested. I didn’t bother asking though why it should matter that much. I have gone in and out of our son’s room but shrugged off the minor sound the door makes. It’s just like one of those tell-tale sounds from a horror movie. No big deal. I thought it was the issue.
But the urgency of her request became clear last night. Our son has been known to sleep very late at night since he was a lot younger. We have even joked back then that he would look better with a night stick. We also called him a call center agent in the making. He is one who would fit graveyard shifts best. He sleeps that late. We have told his pediatrician about it several times but she ruled out insomnia and only suggested a change in lifestyle and sleeping time management.
We have tried all tips and tricks we know on how to make a child sleep early. Remove the TV from the room, checked. Drink warm milk, checked. No electronics in bed, checked. Cool the room, checked. Read bedtime stories, checked. Turn the lights out (he finally agreed just recently), checked. Name it, we probably have done it.
In the past days, however, it has gone from very late to very very late. In fact, I arrived from work this Saturday morning to find out that Marcus has not slept the whole night as he was waiting for me–sweet but it got me worried at the same time. We spent at least two more hours after breakfast of McDonald’s meal that I brought home before I and Marcus left his mother to continue working online. We hit the sack together in his dominantly red and black room.
Late last night, I heard wifey asking Marcus to try counting sheep. Oldest
yet unproven trick in the book. Fighting the dilemma to let her handle things or to interfere by singing a song (I realized I called in sick due to sore throat), I soon heard our son comply. He started counting. Last count I heard was three. Counting sheep had that immediate effect on me. If only I could swap places with our son.
I woke up in the wee hours of the morning and I almost regret opening the door on my way to the toilet. It occurred to me that in the silence of the ungodly hour, the creaking hinges could awaken Marcus. Knowing his sleeping pattern, I supposed he has barely reached REM state past 2 AM.
Over instant coffee and hot pan de sal this morning, wifey told me that took it an hour or more for Marcus to eventually hit the zzzs. She said our son had some concerns about saying sheep over and over again. “It’s like swear swords at some point,” he said to his mother. So I tried silently. “One sheep, two sheep, three sheep, four sheep, five sheep, six sheep, seven sheep….” It’s possible. Kid’s got a point.
Today I sprayed WD40 on the hinges. All three of it. That’s one factor gone to help him get better sleep but I doubt it. We need to see his doctor soon. Or maybe we need to change the color of his room first to baby blue.
Mood: 3/10 Honks! (Revived the old iPad for writing as my phone’s keyboard is a hopeless case.)
Posted on | July 11, 2016 | No Comments
The things anyone can do with Minecraft is limitless. What I once perceived as one ordinary game eventually hits me as more challenging than any other games we have at home. It may sound like an exaggeration but it’s not. Our eight-year old son has Halo and Call of Duty (oopps, bad parent) wherein we are able to see his progress. He is also almost done with his Lego Marvel game but not Minecraft. That’s because Minecraft is categorized as a sandbox game which means that in its environment anything goes, sky’s the limit and its boxy white clouds. It is a game that right out of the package does not have any goal to complete before a player moves on to the next level.
To create something out of single block is the main objective the game. The output could be a simple boxy dog up to more complex designs that resemble famous landmarks and even vehicles. The game continues to evolve and gain popularity which is not surprising that Microsoft invested billions to take ownership of this game. Minecraft is a virtual building block game that my generation once wished we would have. So props to Mojang for finally giving our kids the option to build stuffs without us parents emptying our wallet although in the process we need to expect them begging for new skins and texture packs. I have so far resisted most of it plus the fact that my credit card won’t allow me to purchase anything anymore.
Gamers who want more excitement have options other than Minecraft’s creative world. The game also has survival and adventure worlds, each of which has its own challenges. I honestly can’t distinguish between the two but the shrieks and yelling I have heard from our son Marcus tell me that he has switched to either of these options. This game has its hell and creepers so trust me, it could be scary. On days when Minecraft Xbox turns boring, he would play its PC version where he spends hours on different Minecraft servers interacting with players somewhere in the globe. More screaming happens here.
Parents and kids alike would find a wide range of Minecraft references and resources available online. On Youtube.com there are channels of popular users like DanTDM and EthanGamerTV (who recently turned 10) and PopularMMOs. Our son is a big fan of these Youtubers. He would love to see DanTDM and his pugs but he has set his eyes to meet PopularMMOs once we get in the US. There’s also Minecraft Forum that I have used to troubleshoot most Minecraft PC errors. Marcus started his own Youtube channel last month so you might as well check it—maybe after five years from now.
Books have also been published for Minecraft. Yes, books like those made of sheets of paper that you flip to transfer to the next pages. Books with hard covers that are meant to protect the paper pages. And we recently bought one for Marcus to encourage him to read more but last night I found out that he peeled off the spine of one of his books. Thankfully it is not the Hacks for Minecrafters book but I told him that he is banned to play his newly upgraded Minecraft Xbox for a day anyway. It slipped my mind though that he has Minecraft PC. Parenting is tough, isn’t it?
Mood: 3/10 Honks! (If we could only switch the weather like in Minecraft.)
Posted on | July 10, 2016 | No Comments
My Facebook timeline was recently full of posts featuring wheelchairs. It made me wonder then if it happens to be wheelchair awareness day. I didn’t bother to check. Today a post from my elder sister shows a concept wheelchair that could make the less mobile live more independently. This one’s the future of wheelchair. The video is on Facebook.
So is it wheelchair awareness season? Mobilityawarenessmonth.com says it’s May but it’s nice to know anyway that there seems to be a growing and sustained awareness on the needs of people who have limited mobility. May we soon see more people-with-disability-friendly places.
Weather was ideal last Sunday so I grabbed the opportunity to have Marcus take a morning stroll. He enjoyed it.
Today’s weather, however, isn’t as good as last week’s so as of this writing, past 1 PM, we let Marcus stay asleep. Thanks but no thanks to tropical storm Butchoy that despite having exited out of the Philippine area of responsibility is still making the skies dark every now and then. There’s always a next time.
Mood: 5/10 Honks! (Cats are dying.)
Posted on | July 7, 2016 | No Comments
My Facebook timeline shows that a year ago today I posted The Wheelchair Didn’t Stop Them and interestingly other posts related to wheelchairs appeared as I scrolled down. So I am now wondering if it is wheelchair awareness day today. Is it?
Mentalfloss.com reports that Xbox will soon feature avatars of people on wheelchair. I am quite sure that Marcus would be very happy to see such on Xbox though it is more likely going to be for Xbox One consoles only looking at the icon on the flags.
The Lad Bible also posted a video from a helmet-mounted camera of a motorcycle rider stopping at a crosswalk to aid a guy in a wheelchair cross the street.
There are people, however, who are either ignorant or just insensitive to the needs of the handicapped. Like another photo that Top Gear Philippines posted today about one of those people who learned how to drive but never learned to read the signs.
Mood: 5/10 Honks! (Storm’s coming.)keep looking »