Clocking in, clocking out

Clock starts now. It was almost a month ago when I stopped posting on Facebook. Cold turkey. No hints, no drama. I feel like it was the most appropriate thing to do. While leaving just like them also seems like apathy, during the times when friends need consoling, need uplifting, or some needing validation, I just woke up one morning saying “no more.”

The last weeks with Facebook was dreary. Couple of friends or friends posting about people they personally knew either dead or dying of COVID-19 was creeping in on me as well. I have extended help to some in my own little ways but there would be more coming in on my timeline. Different persons.

Then there’s that guilty feeling after realizing that I could actually do more. Last post I had was me testing my MIG welding machine. An innocent post but when I scrolled down there were others once again telling stories, asking assistance. And I just spent P6K for an item I would eventually store. An amount that could‘be been used for someone else’s medication.

So yesterday after reading in the news about some ex-FB employee squealing about privacy issues being left unaddressed I decided that it was a good reason to deactivate. So I did and it feels good. Now I have more time to put to good use. Like writing again. Clock stops.

Twenty minutes for this post. Need to practice once more. If procrastination doesn’t strike.

***

Mood: 1/10 Honks! (I’m an ex-FB prisoner and now I’m free)

Fiber: Faster, Bitter

Things happened fast at home when we heard that Fox Sports is leaving Asia. No more UFC, no more Monster Jam, and sadly, no more Formula One. We didn’t care if Disney goes along with it, we’re not into Mickey Mouse anymore. Losing Formula One was compelling reason for the change to come.

Barely a week after the news we found ourselves dealing with PLDT to get fiber connection. The installation (the PLDT agent making rounds in our area at that time was like heaven sent) was fast that at some point we both had PLDT and our local service provider, Galaxy Cable, all at the same time running at home. We just kept the latter until Fox Sports’ final live broadcast of the Formula One race in Sochi.

Race day on Sunday, September 24, 2021, was bittersweet. Vettel had a strong performance as he was able to recover from his engine swap penalty and finished 2nd next to Lewis Hamilton who on that day achieved his 100th Formula One win. We are no (longer) Hamilton’s big fans but we concede that he earned it. We realize that it would take years, probably not even in our lifetime, before someone beats Hamilton’s record. Love it or hate it. We witnessed our generation‘s own Fangio.

The sight of the Asian Fox Sports hosts and staff saying goodbye was heartbreaking too. And as one thing leads to another. there’s that separation anxiety that followed on Monday when I completed the de-installation of our local ISP’s router and cable TV boxes—five years with them wasn’t easy to let go but that’s life, we move on. Our dependency to PLDT fiber starts.

Router and cable TV boxes ready for return
Last shot of Fox Sports on our TV

***

PLDT’s fiber speed was fast. Way too fast than Galaxy Cable’s analog plan. No contest. Well, only while the connection works.

After being so elated that our Speedtest results show past 300 Mbps for both download and upload, the router’s LOS red light appeared. What sucks was it was just less than half a day since the installation crew left. Resolution dragged for six full days and guess what caused it? Loose connection because, just as I suspect, some service crew who were also working that day must have touched our line. Imagine if we didn’t have Galaxy Cable’s subscription as back-up back then.

That wouldn’t be the last experience with a disconnected line though. Just this week it happened again and it helped that this time we learned from the recent experience so we had wifey’s phone installed with a Smart Telecom’s SIM which now makes us call PLDT‘a hotline for free anytime. We kept our fingers crossed because the last time we received an advisory that someone would pay us a visit in 24 hours actually extended up to six days. Thursday morning I accepted the possibility and had my mind set to work in the office in the succeeding days.

Having already unsubscribed from our local ISP, we had an unproductive Wednesday night. Marcus can’t play online, while wifey and I can’t connect to work either. Globe’s cellular data sucks as it only allowed me to check on my work-from-home team through Teams chat. Using our bandwidth-demanding tools was out of the question.

It was the night we re-discovered UHF TV. I realized we have a digital up our roof and all we need to do is connect our TVs to it and watch the channels available. Best we had that night was a basketball feed because GMA channels do not have any appeal—for the record, I will avoid watching any of it if I can avoid it. I can’t recall the last time I spent time watching a basketball game but that unholy hour WE were all glued to it. And to think it was women’s basketball in which China overwhelmed our country’s Gilas team. Loss of internet was interesting, isn’t it?

Thankfully, close to noontime the next day helped arrived and the guy fixed it fast, like less than 10 minutes. FYI, second person we permitted to set foot inside the house since the pandemic in 2020 and just like the first crew, Lysol was sprayed all over Theo trail. Blame COVID-19 for my strange behavior.

So what was the cause this time? I figured that PLDT disconnected our connection automatically when I tried to access the router’s super admin setting in an attempt to open the NAT type and enable all the LAN ports. Following an instructional YouTube video, I briefly accessed the router’s UPnP and LAN Bridging menus when the ping stopped responding. I’ve done this in the past on several routers but this is the first time it happened. Soon I learned from PLDT’s customer rep that these now require request and waiver to enable the features. Shame but if it’s what works then I concede and will follow the process unless I want another extra night off from work. Kidding.

***

Back to school, this time for COVID-19 vaccination.

My number one blog fan—nobody else but the only female in the house—asked me to post soon so I thought that my lull time at the vaccination center yesterday would be best spent posting one. But the transfers from one classroom to another at STA Santo Tomas was distracting plus the fact that I’m surrounded by people who would wonder who writes long text on phones nowadays. So I quit and saved draft.

And today, 24 hours after my first dose of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine I start to feel a nagging headache so running is not an option and finishing this post comes next while tuned to CNN Philippines which we realized is also available on UHF TV.

***

Mood: 4/10 Honks! (Can’t run)

Lobster trip

A couple of days ago my wife and I were having lunch of chicken liver and gizzard adobo when we talked about trying new menu for a change. A thought out of having to eat same thing over and over again, not being able to dine out together since this pandemic hit.

What about lobster? “Nah, that likely tastes like regular crab,” I answered her suggestion. But I listed lobster anyhow among my next to-buy list on my next trip. I already had on my OneNote Cubi wafers, peanut butter, and CoQ10–all items for Marcus. Yes, just three.

I arrived earlier than usual.

This morning that trip happened. I left early wanting to beat the crowd especially now that variants of COVID-19 have started to spread. I arrived at S&R 30 minutes before it opens.

I tried to stick to what I had on my list but just like any trip to this membership shopping, I grabbed stuff from here and there though I made sure I’m still within budget if I find a lobster.

Few minutes at the frozen section didn’t yield any lobster so I looked for an alternative. Maybe a king crab. Yes, a king crab like those from Discovery’s Deadliest Catch. And I found one. Eureka! But what’s the price tag? P3,999 for about 4-5 claws. Shoot. Ended grabbing sushis for lunch. Maybe next time I’d find a lobster or could already afford eating a king crab.

***

Mood: 2/10 Honks! (Few minutes before Marcus starts his weekend videoke)

Boxing Days Are Here

I hate to admit it but running starts to become too much of a routine. More often lately it feels more like an obligation than a stress reliever that I started to cut my running days and participated less in free running challenges recently. The mileages I used to monitor closely after each run don’t seem to give that much satisfaction anymore and the body weight workouts I used to enjoy have been set aside more often and it doesn’t feel right. I realize a balance must be set.

Work-life balance

Few days ago I deleted my Adidas Runtastic app and started to review my favorite workouts before the treadmill came. As I look at my faded cheat sheet that I pinned on my bedroom door I even had to figure out how some of it are done. Windshield wipers, pistol squats, and atomic crunch for a sec sounded foreign. That long since I stuck to my body weight workout plan. Don’t get me wrong, running isn’t a real bore but as they say “too much of a good thing is bad.” I need to mix things up. (FYI, I still have my Garmin Connect, Apple Fitness, Pinoy Fitness, and Strava apps. Runtastic was just something that’s not user friendly and maybe was the trigger I ended stressed out after running.)

After long consideration, and amid anxiousness of making an impression that purchasing a pricey treadmill was a bad idea, I finally decided I could use another workout though one that involves an additional equipment in my already crowded space at home. So yesterday—lo and behold, wifey like it or not (hehe)—the 2nd heaviest sports item I bought online arrived. I now have a 20-kg punching bag.

I need gloves. Those hand wraps take time to put on.

The last time I remember boxing was way back when I was very young. Young like early elementary days young. Back then local amateur boxing was famous in our place so my parents hang a sack filled with sand in my father’s workshop. I had boxing gloves and I even sparred with some neighbors of my age. I didn’t have the chance to compete locally but I think I boxed better before than when I grew older. I had martial arts lessons in college and from my previous job but I feel I was more of a better kicker than a puncher which is why I don’t really hit the bags in the gyms and not even shadow box when there are people around because I think I have an awkward boxing form.

But things could change soon now that I have a punching bag hanging at home, ready to be hit anytime. I’m excited to box and with the constant stress and the regular feeling to hit some people in the face, I don’t think I’d have a hard time finding motivation. Kidding.

***

Mood: 2/10 Honks! (Extra day off and sleepy weather.)

Garmin or Apple Watch?

Another day, another activity involving my car. This time I’m exposed in the open and just under the shade of a tree at a parking lot somewhere in Solenad Nuvali. No TV, no comfy leather couch like I had in Honda Santa Rosa last Monday. No complaints, at least I’m free from mediocre Filipino comedy movies. Hoping this backup camera installation gets done faster. So far my Mickey Mouse watch face shows an hour since installer guy started.

Finally, I now have a Mickey watch.

I need to do something instead of checking my watch back and forth and thinking if I change my watch face to Explorer or Minimalist or one the would show my photo. Or bugging the guy if he’s able to do it or not, a review of Garmin versus Apple Watch would be more productive.

It’s been couple of weeks since I received my Apple Series 4 Watch so I think I have enough to write about it. I was racking up 5K runs with goal to hit 505 kilometers by end of March for one of the Garmin challenges so I had some anxiety giving up my 5-year old VivoactiveHR when the Apple Watch arrived after being held by customs. For several days I wore both watch, each on different arms, wanting to know if both would record similar pace and distance. Eventually I realize I look silly even while running indoors.

Seeing double.

Day one with the Apple Watch I achieved the elusive sub-30 5K run but my Garmin shows otherwise as it displays I hit 5K 32 minutes and few seconds later. As much as I’d like to believe the data by Apple, its app suggests running outdoors for 20 minutes to calibrate it. So there, not Apple’s fault. (Had my first outdoor run last Friday and it confirmed the watch was off. It now calculates close to Garmin’s data.)

First outdoor run map.

Then comes data sharing. The Garmin Watch paired with the Garmin Connect app allows sharing run statistics with an option to overlay it on photos. This is what Apple doesn’t offer. At least the Series 4 model doesn’t but still a shame considering it came out two years after my Garmin. Apple Watch Activity app data show as much as Garmin’s Connect app but it’s boring to share. Garmin-1, Apple-0.

This is only image you can share. Colorful but too much numbers is still boring.

How about the look and feel experience? The Apple Watch is slightly heavier and bulkier than the Garmin VivoactiveHR and it’s because the material of the Series 4 watch is mostly glass plus its sensor at the back is metal (it is charged wirelessly through a magnetic charger). The Garmin is mostly rubber and tough plastic which makes it lighter. In this aspect, I’m torn between liking or hating Apple so I will leave this part a draw for now even if the Series 4 can be easily replaced and customizable.

But the Apple cannot lose, right? Setting aside running comforts and statistics accuracy, the Series 4 model has definitely more to offer than the VivoactiveHR watch. Let me count what I’ve used so far: It has ECG to measure heart activity sans the sticky electrodes; Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity are available separately; Writing pad is cool as it allows me reply using my own handwriting that watch converts to text; Spotify can be accessed from the watch. And so many others that my current Garmin doesn’t have. Garmin-1, Apple-1.

And of course there’s that X-factor Apple devices exude and only Apple users, me now included, know this. In a matter of days I swallowed whatever negative I said about it. I concede, now trying to save for my next Apple. Free ones preferred of course.

***

Realized I haven’t published this post I drafted weeks back and I have just added new images showing recent dates.

***

Mood: 2/10 Honks! (Had a good 4-day rest. Back to the rat race later.)

Expensive Apples

My Apple story started with an interesting chat. “Cris, I’d like someone who would appreciate the features of an Apple Watch. Would you use it?” It was a question that only merits a yes. Few moments later the offer went further and better. “I realize it needs to be paired with an iPhone. Are you willing to let go of your Android?” Some hesitation on my end but another big yes followed. An Apple for a Redmi? Go figure. I’d receive the package in a few days.

It was all excitement and anticipation until that fateful call from FedEx. “Sir, we have your package but it exceeds the allowed value and you don’t have an importation license. There would be Customs fees and duties. “

Customs. Fees. Sucks.

What could have been a week or less of delivery soon dragged. I had to accomplish an itemized list of the package contents that I don’t have any idea what were exactly packed. I waited while my package undergoes customs process. Physical inspection among them. It was uncertain if they’d open the box. Whatever they plan to do I was only interested in the two costly Apples—phone and watch. The process felt like an eternity. Like bad constipation.

Sender was bugging FedEx in the US for not setting clear expectations—blame fine prints? While I stay still and helpless, avoiding Philippine Customs from doing something that could be to my disadvantage. I was going with the flow.

Three weeks later I heard from FedEx Philippines. I was advised I’d be paying almost Php18,000 COD on top of what was paid in the US. I didn’t dispute, just wanting to be done and over with it. Besides, I wouldn’t get an iPhone XS and an Apple Watch, even pre-owned, with that price. Just an unexpected expense but still worth it. Been thinking of getting a new Garmin anyway.

The package arrived intact. Looks like it was never opened nor tampered. I was also surprised that sender actually had the Apple Watch and iPhone in their original packaging like it was brand new. I was Impressed. I won’t regret paying Php18K.

Cleared by our own sniffing dog.

Remember how this all started? Well there’s more to it as eventually I got a refund. Not from FedEx, not for Customs either—never in our lifetime these guys will do that. Sender was so kind enough to make sure I don’t spend anything out of my shallow pocket. So I’m now here at a Honda dealership for a scheduled maintenance of our 11-year old City using the money I got back. Thanks again!

***

Mood: 3/10 Honks! (Under the mercy of mediocre Filipino film on TV)

100th Video…With Voice

For a couple of years already Marcus has maintained his own Youtube channel. Called 11 AM Guy, his channel houses videos he personally created which are mostly about his favorite games and lyrics videos of Taylor Swift songs. He’s a big fan.

Today, over lunch, he introduced to us his 100th video since he started the channel in 2018. With his recent rate of uploads, 100 videos was just bound to happen this year so what really surprised us was in this latest video, he talks. He recorded his voice for the very first time.

https://youtu.be/n1qAaB096Tw

Like any other first times, the voice over could definitely be better, however, what’s remarkable here is that Marcus was able to control his stutter on the recording. In this past months Marcus has been stuttering more and more–one of the signs of DMD progression–so I was listening closely if it’s going to be evident. There were some wheezing but nothing very significant. Good job son! We are proud.

***

Coincidentally, today is the 7th day after I had Marcus’ Youtube channel logo tattooed on my left arm. As expected the scabs are starting to fall off and overall the tattoo is healing nicely. Only issue is that I had it placed to cover an area that itches and sheds skin a lot–I suspect it’s psoriasis, no thanks to Google self-examination. First couple of days my hopes are up that the head will hold but as the first week approaches the ink was obviously fading away. I can live with that but I need another tattoo design soon.

Day one

***

Mood: 2/10 Honks! (Long weekend is bliss)

Tech Booboos

There’s such thing as digital karma. Last weekend I jokingly posted on Facebook: “Good news: vaccines are here. Bad news: I got used to working at home.” It was half meant. Well, more like 90-10 in favor of working at home. But soon enough, karma reared its ugly head as it didn’t last long before I had to report to work after more than six months.

My HP laptop died on me while I was  working, close to ending a Monday night shift. There was a click before the monitor went black, keyboard backlights out too, and never to be turned on again. All files worth most of my 2020 gone just like that. Joke was on me.

On Tuesday night, against my will, I was back at the office with the hope to get a replacement. Bummer our IT can only give me a desktop and cannot commit if I could get another laptop again. Next day though I returned to find out I’m getting a small form CPU which I actually liked. (Also learned that I have free shirts, a jacket, and a Timex watch from Christmas so I called it even. I’m easily pleased you know.)

Then today I discovered something that I should have had a year back. While inside my idling car, waiting for my turn at the veterinary clinic (with my ever whining dog, Shadow, in the backseat) I played around with my phone to kill boredom. For a change, I switched back to the phone’s default SMS app instead of Messenger, then gave my BDO bank app another try, anticipating disappointment. But guess what, I was in for a surprise that a simple switch fixed a year long issue.

I’ve had several of this error and already gave up.

So if there is anyone out there with the same issue adding their device to their BDO app, here’s a solution: Do not use your Messenger as your SMS app. You can thank me later.

***

Mood: 2/10 Honks! (Survived the week of lost Excel files.)

2020, 50/50

Another year is about to end in four hours and counting. Most, if not all, will surely agree that 2020 wasn’t an easy year. A year we all want to forget. Or so it seems.

But not all is lost in 2020. For one, mine started with a trip to the US. My second business trip which lasted for a week like one I had in Wisconsin back in 2001. Kansas was colder though in January.

Had the chance to experience this.

On my return flight was when things started to get freaky. While onboard the plane I learned Taal volcano spewed large volume of ashes. Flight was diverted to Cebu but I eventually got home on the same day. Weeks that followed we had to wear masks and little did we know that it was an introduction to the what will happen in the next months.

Park close to work used to have grass.

The ashes soon disappeared, the roads were no longer dusty. But 2020 had more bad tricks up its sleeve. COVID-19. This time it’s not just people within the 15-20 km radius of Taal who are affected and had to wear masks. This time the whole country went on panic mode to stock up on surgical masks–and alcohol. March was the beginning of what everyone would soon realize as the new norm.

Isolation became the name of the survival game. We soon got used to hearing and talking about social distancing and working from home started to be popular. Thanks to our company’s business continuity efforts, we soon saw ourselves among those who’d be doing our jobs in the confines of our own home. Have I mentioned I got promoted?

Beating boredom and so called cabin fever–which I’m sure is a term most of us only heard in the movies before COVID-19–internet challenges trended. People were baking, concocting Dalgona coffee, doing TikToks, and some took on physical challenges.

Wifey’s Dalgona

Having started working at home since years ago, I took on the #25pushupchallenge immediately after I got tagged. It wasn’t easy, to be honest, but it was fun. I completed the required 25 days and learned other pushup varieties along the way.

Like finishing a Netflix series, the end of the pushup challenge left some sort of void. Many times I pondered running again, maybe early mornings will do, but the thought of picking up and bringing home the virus had me cancel all plans of hitting the road again. But then comes online shopping and the mysterious relevant Facebook ads. I soon found one that sells treadmills.

To cut the story short, wifey approved and pitched in to purchase a NordicTrack S20. The treadmill alone initially costs Php72K but I got it for just about Php62K (AVR included). It was bang for the buck. I was soon back to running after more than seven months hiatus.

First weeks on the treadmill and face tells the effort.

Routines at home also changed. A lot. Our bedroom also soon functioned as my office on weekdays. I had to relocate to avoid crowing roosters from joining my meetings. Thankfully, wifey willingly gave up her freelance job station to me in exchange for a simple chair and desk setup.

Perks of working at home is I can make faces during meetings

Our son’s schedule altered as well. Few weeks after I started working at home his sleeping time changed significantly. From the usual 2 AM it extended until 5 AM–almost a full night shift. It took me some months to adjust to his recreation time yet I somehow managed to adapt to it. It is now common for me to stay up around past 3 AM on weekends for Xbox games with him.

Weekends are raw and simple

All things considered, 2020 wasn’t bad at all. There’s no point caving in to fear of the ongoing uncertainties of the lingering pandemic. Like most things, the sooner we accept change, the faster we transition to the new norm. We all hope of course that we get the COVID-19 vaccine so we can face 2021 with more sense of security and confidence. Fingers crossed.

***

Mood: 2/10 Honks! (Happy New Year!!!)