Minecraft Weekend

Me working at home in Minecraft world.

I made some progress this weekend in Marcus’ Minecraft game. Fighting off the call of the bed, I helped him build crazy roller coasters. In the real world I’d probably pass out barely midway of what he built and to think it doesn’t have any loop yet.

Our dining area in Minecraft.

We capped the night, actually early morning already, with us doing a version of our home. Then Marcus finished my room with me seated in my work at home corner. Nice way to introduce another workweek.

***

This weekend was also the most awaited by Formula One fans. The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed this race season back for months and today it finally happened despite an obvious change in so many aspects of the game. For one, the grandstands of Austria were totally empty of F1 race audience and so the three of us were among the millions who had to contend ourselves watching the game live on cable TV. Race wasn’t that bad as wifey’s bet, Norris, made it to his first podium at 3rd place. Marcus also had his fix of live race, a break from Xbox’s version of the race. For me, I enjoyed the nachos and dips.

Huddled for the Formula One race.

Next race will be in Austria still which is another first (as far as I know) for Formula One to race on the same track in the same season. No thanks to COVID-19.

***

Mood: 2/10 Honks! (Almost 2 AM, I need my Bacardi.)

Release the floodgates

It’s now the sixth month but it feels like the New Year just started. For months everything seems frozen and in our lifetime this is the first time life came to a standstill–no thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Everyone stayed indoors since March. Jobs for the majority stopped against their will. It was a tough choice against getting paid or getting infected by the Wuhan virus as others call it. Lucky for some, working from home became a viable option.

Today the government set to jumpstart the economy back to life. This despite many Filipinos saying the move is premature especially that we really haven’t flattened the curve like other countries. In fact, the numbers of those tested positive for COVID-19 continue to rise based on latest news.

But it looks like we just need to bite the bullet. We need to trust the authorities, however hard that is. Life has to go on even if it won’t be the same norms as we used to know it. Release the floodgates and we’ll see what happens next.

***

Usually Sando.

Most times we did stay at home but we didn’t really sulk. I still work weekdays sans the driving to and from the office. Thanks to our company that allowed us to bring our desktops at home and continue earning from there.

I realized soon though that it wasn’t easy as most of us ever imagined. Working from home has its own set of challenges. Distractions, for one, are all over. Roosters crowing at the exact time when there is a meeting. Dogs running around like the Tasmanian Devil. And most times they’d block the ergo chair as they’d settle right below it when their energy ran out.

To be honest, I looked forward to the weekend more than when I was reporting to the office. Home office set up is draining. The first weeks, even until now, I felt like I need to work early just because the desktop is just right there. It was always tempting to take a peek of what’s happening at work–if someone replied to my email or if the bosses had asked something from me.

Slowly, thankfully, I have started to control and manage my time. I just want to spend it more with wifey more so with Marcus because he hasn’t stepped out of house since the enhanced community quarantine started. I’m sure he misses the mall although he’s denying it. Good thing he discovered singing.

Must be the Bacardi.

For several weekends already we all clustered every night inside Marcus’ room to listen to him sing, mostly Taylor Swift songs and anything pop. Not to be left sitting and listening, I also found that I can dance along the songs. So weekends have been fun despite off key singing and awkward dancing.

***

Mood: 5/10 Honks! (GCQ starts now.)

Spring Roll

We are now entering the fourth week of enhanced community quarantine and the things to do at home are becoming uber repetitive.

For the first time in my entire life the Holy Week felt like months. I didn’t even realize that last week we already had Holy Monday that dragged on to Maundy Thursday. This COVID-19 pandemic just erased that distinction between regular weeks and the Holy Week.

Times like this creativity is a survival tool. Like yesterday Easter egg hunting was all in the confines of our house. Wifey hid plastic eggs where Marcus in his wheelchair can access and find. I think he enjoyed it, the dollars and pesos stuffed inside the eggs made his experience better which I think he got enough to afford himself a new Xbox game, Kerbal Space Program, and some extra amount to spare.

Last year’s bunny got out of the pile of plush toys.
Wifey’s Easter Sunday idea.

Also the first this year was Marcus taking a seat in the dining area. If I’m not mistaken, last time he was here was New Year’s Eve when we posed for our mandatory celebration picture. What got him there this time was the interest in helping prepare spring rolls with his mom. There were some challenges getting his hands up the table but with wifey’s assistance he made it and he ended finishing two spring rolls.

Marcus preparing veggie spring rolls.
Our simple Easter Sunday lunch which includes the spring rolls Marcus made.

***

Mood: 2/10 Honks! (Drafted while waiting in line in Shopwise Sta. Rosa.)

Internet Challenges: Keeping Our Sanity

The COVID-19 enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) or something that feels like a lockdown or house arrest has so far exposed talents that most of us never knew we have . Some friends have given in to TikTok even without the influence of alcohol, just driven by pure boredom. Thankfully I haven’t had any video using this app although I now have the TikTok on my phone ready when better judgment fails me. Or when the spirit of alcohol kicks in.

But there are things that piqued our curiosity more than TikTok dances and with nothing but extra time on our side, we tried a couple already.

Dalgona coffee challenge. First seen trending on Let’s Eat Pare Facebook page, this foamy coffee refreshment immediately captured my attention but comments about having to whisk like an hour waned my interest in it. Then wifey, as usual, took on the challenge armed with a manual egg beater.

It didn’t take long for her to churn out a Dalgona foam–long whisking myth busted. She was able make one serving in just about 10 minutes which we both shared, unequally, me getting the most of it. I don’t have a benchmark on how it should taste but ours ended up literally bittersweet which I like. Not bad for our first Dalgona coffee.

MyFitnessPal shows 300 ml is about 250 plus calories.

Handstand t-shirt challenge. My sister tagged me on Facebook on a post showing a video of the Spider-man star,  Tom Holland,  putting on a t-shirt while upside down. I got more excited when I realized it wasn’t really a strict handstand so in a couple of hours after finding a gap in my work at home I tried it.

First try was just to check how my video would look like. It was my first attempt to lift one hand while on face-to-wall handstand position so there’s some hesitation when I tested if I can wear the shirt. I gathered enough courage and balance on the second video recording and was able to complete the challenge in less than a minute. See video below.

The ECQ has been extended until April 30 so I now wonder what internet challenges I’d do next.

***

Mood: 2/10 Honks! (Getting used to working from home.)

14 days quarantine and counting

When I posted last month the condition wasn’t so serious. Nobody thought it is going to reach where we are at today. We are now under quarantine because COVID-19 (or the Coronavirus) has become pandemic.

Lives have changed drastically. Globally. The statistics of those infected are getting scarier everyday. Some have recovered but it is very minimal number compared to the still growing infections. When this ends, nobody knows.

At the very least impact, Marcus has skipped the malls for weeks now. For someone in a wheelchair and already stuck at home not being able to step outside at least once a week is big deal.

His recovery from his cough that started last week of February was slow. Each day my wife and I prayed it won’t come to a point when we need to have him checked at the hospital for fear that he and us would be exposed to anyone who might have COVID-19. He was still coughing after two weeks but gradually lessened on the third. Thankfully, he is now well. In fact, last night I had him get back to doing hand pedals for his home therapy.

***

There are other changes in my routine too. Beating the clock, our company was kind enough to allow some of us to work from home for business continuity. I’m now sharing workstation (I brought my own PC from work) with wifey who has been home-based while doing freelance jobs for the longest time.

Facebook nowadays is also appreciated more. It has been the source of news and updates, good or bad, on the ongoing battle with the unseen enemy. With me getting more time to kill at home, I have become more active in trying to become relevant and connected. I haven’t done TikTok but so far a number are buying my wit. I should start giving top fan badges soon. I wish.

Like today a picture I uploaded on Facebook made our day. Wifey prepared a hearty lunch and she said it is pork katsudon so I took a picture of it and posted it on Let’s Eat Pare, a foodie group I’m a member of. “Katsudon daw sabi ni misis. Pumayag ako kaysa mapalayas ako sa bahay (Wife said it is Katsudon. I had to agree than getting kicked out of the house),” my post says. It really wouldn’t have mattered as I’d eat anything she cooks anyway though there are some I won’t and she knows it. For one, sauteed sardines with sotanghon. No thanks, I’d rather eat salt.

The post was meant to be a joke. I was so starved and so ready to dig in that I didn’t even take time to find a good angle. I just pointed and shoot but as of this writing it has breached 1K reacts with some commenting and even tagging people whom I assume are females or wives. Since I joined this group in 2016, this is the first my post surpassed 20 reacts. I’m now VIP, could now cut lines and get COVID-19 test kits. Oopps, another story.

Wifey’s home-cooked getting 1K reacts.

***

Mood: 2/10 Honks! (Playing Worms WMD next with Marcus.)

Donate Your Globe Points To Fight COVID-19

Confirm page.

We need to do our share in this fight against COVID-19 and you don’t need to be a frontliner to do it. Many of us are Globe prepaid users yet most of us don’t even know that rewards points exist and these could expire any time soon.

Don’t let your points expire, make each of it count. My wife made me aware of this donation drive and true indeed I got enough to contribute. In a matter of minutes I was able to download the app, register, and donate all my points. You can do it too and you can do it now. #COVID19

***

Mood: 6/10 Honks! (First week of community quarantine.)

Raising Awareness that DMD exists

Image grabbed from Muscle Dystrophy Australia

Last night one of things I made sure I discuss during our meeting was to set expectations why I would wear masks whenever I sense someone is sick in the room. It seems like a trivial concern to most but not for families with kids who could easily start to get sick, or even worse (God forbid), just because of a mere common cold.

Our son Marcus is among these kids. Since we learned he has Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD) we have been more careful. I myself turned germophobic (I can see my sister clapping, proud) just for this reason. Our house is never without alcohol, disinfectant spray, wet wipes, and surgical masks–there was sort of panic when Taal erupted and the supplies of masks ran out for days.

People see me and my wife strong but every now and then we would talk silently, not wanting Marcus to hear, about our fears sentiments, and frustrations. Having someone with a rare and progressive disease is a challenge physically and mentally but it is a good thing to see that the awareness is spreading–thanks to support groups and social media.

While we wish the cure for DMD becomes available soon, the reality is it won’t happen in our lifetime. Right now we just have to face this head on and pray that as the condition worsens we get stronger and more prepared. Keep us families with members who have rare diseases in your prayers and we’d be better.

Okay, enough of the drama, Marcus wants to play Call of Duty.

Marcus caught cold this week and still recovering. Here we are inside his room pausing from our Netflix’s Formula 1 viewing

***

Mood: 4/10 Honks! (Hope Marcus gets well soon.)

Halo Cold Room!

Two weeks ago I had interview at home but I felt the odds were against me. Besides the nerves getting in the way, there’s also quality of my Skype making things worse.

I was expecting a video call but thankfully it didn’t happen so mid-call I unbuttoned my long-sleeve polo shirt, ditched the crappy in-ear headphones and swapped it with an Xbox headset that made me hear the interview questions better albeit too late. It felt like I was in one of Marcus’ online games and my chances of winning were already slim.

I know both attendees who were in that Skype meeting but I didn’t see myself being contacted by them–my previous bosses–any further. I also had a hint who the other applicant was and he’s got potentials so I didn’t set my hopes that high.

But all is not lost–I heard from them again. I got picked, I’m in.

Early part of last year was also when I got accepted for a supervisory position coming from my role as an individual contributor. What’s interesting is, I realized, my personal folder shows I saved my resume for team leader trainee application exactly the same date when I’d write my application for QA supervisor–both happened on January 15. I’m becoming a fan of coincidences more.

My current team is still clueless but they will soon learn about me leaving them. Whatever their feelings are about this change–I’m sure there will be happy-that-he-left-us sentiments–I will miss them as I am starting to see these agents become more confident and performing almost on par with the big boys. Good luck to you guys, see you around. And for me, it’s back to the comfy cold room.

***

Mood: 2/10 Honks! (Inspiration to step up all started in Work At A Pizza Place game of Marcus.)

Back on track

Ashfall and the threat of novel coronavirus stopped me from running since I arrived from my one week trip to Kansas. I was also sick when I landed back–FYI, with a common cold–and it took time for me to recover as my nasal cavity was bleeding for another week more when I returned to work. Blame the cold weather of Overland Park.

First time to use this Road ID I purchased in US on November 2019. It has my contacts’ info so I no longer need to take my ID with me when I run.

It’s been relatively cold as well here in the Philippines so bed has been more attractive than the road. But today, I braved all. I finally stepped out of the house and ran. It was chilly and I was slow. While I really didn’t gain weight, contrary to my fear over the amount of Kansas barbecue and American meal servings I had during the boot camp, I paced myself slower so I don’t injure myself.

Did several runs at the slope.

I also picked running on elevated ground, doubled back several times to increase distance, instead of my usual path to avoid the morning crowd. You see this corona virus seems to continue to spread and in fact, I learned that a couple of running events have been cancelled because of health concerns.

There are now some news about people getting treated from corona virus infection. I can’t wait to see the day when all this will just end up like a bad dream. For now I’m just happy to get back on track, healthy and running.

Always happy to see me back.

***

Mood: 5/10 Honks! (We have only few masks at home, need to find new stock soon.)

Alexa, Skip 2020

We were up 30,000 mid-flight homeward bound when I realized there’s free onboard WiFi. I was still groggy after minutes from waking up. I was hungry, wishing I’d get another serving of PAL’s tasty beef stroganoff. But I was more eager to check what’s online. It’s been hours since I lost connection after entering the departure area back in LAX.

I wasn’t expecting much when I opened my Facebook and Messenger. To be honest, I was actually checking if more people liked my stunts at Tom Bradley Airport and indeed, notification showed there were more who were amused. I’m building a fan base. Indulge me.

Entertaining myself during the 11-hour layover at LAX.

“Bad news”, however, followed by “Taal erupted” greeted me when I checked on my wife. I thought at first it was a bad joke. There was never any hint in the past days that this could happen but my Facebook timeline soon revealed that this small volcano in the scenic Tagaytay just unleashed its pent up fury. The pictures were scary, horrifying, like right out of a disaster movie. It made me feel helpless. I was stuck on a 777, long way from home. I was thinking about Marcus.

Photo taken by wifey from our backyard showing a large plume of ash and smoke from Taal which is several kilometers away.

Our flight, consequently, was diverted. A friend said news back in the Philippines say we’ll be landing in Clark, Pampanga but an hour later the flight map on my seat TV displayed our destination is no longer Manila–we were heading Cebu.

Diverted to Cebu.

I can’t recall ever feeling so uncertain, so confused. When we landed in Mactan I was calm, I followed orders but can’t wait to get over it and just be home. It was my first time in Cebu but it would’ve been a pleasant experience if it was planned and obviously this one isn’t. That time I didn’t even have any idea how long we’d be at the airport.

Perspective from my own sleeping space on the floor.
Getting my ref magnet to show I was in Cebu.

Two free Jollibee chicken meals later and an hour or so later sleeping on the floor with other stranded passengers, we got the final good news. Manila has cleared its airport for inbound flights. We will be home.

It’s interesting how this decade started. A trip to Kansas was a nice way to welcome the year but I didn’t see this Taal factor coming. Nobody did. Alexa, skip 2020!

***

Never imagined we’d be talking to a speaker.

I got a lovely Christmas present in the form of an Amazon Echo 2nd Generation but we had difficulty making it work since December. We soon learned that this is a known issue if activated outside US. I was so desperate and almost accepted we have an expensive paper weight.

I watched several YouTube videos on how to hack it but none of those fixed the issue. I even thought of bringing the one-kilo plus speaker to Kansas to see if I can set it up there but better judgment stopped me. I always prefer travelling light.

When I returned home from the client’s boot camp, despite fear that anytime we’d vacate our house if Taal worsens, we tried our luck once more to communicate with Alexa. Luckily, my Facebook cry for help resulted to useful replies. One said she also has an Echo and that she was able to make it function. I was encouraged so I searched online once more and one site did the trick. Few minutes after I clicked the first hyperlink on Techie Gadgets’ article, we already started interacting with Alexa. So again, “Alexa, skip 2020?”

***

Mood: 2/10 Honks! (Day 3 since Taal has been lowered to level 3 alert.)