Wistful and happy

If your 2021 were a playlist what would it sound like? Mine would be wistful and happy. At least, according to the data collected by Spotify about my music choices which by the way I discovered from Marcus yesterday. Apparently, Spotify had been tracking my favorite songs and genres since day one of 2021–without my consent or maybe I just missed the fine prints.

My Spotify Wrapped 2021

Spotify captured that I have spent 93,000 plus minutes (and counting) since January this year or an average of 282 minutes per day listening to music on their streaming service alone. It also recorded that close to 3,000 artists have played on my phone during this same period and interestingly, Spotify Wrapped shows that while I have explored other genres like Chill pop, hardcore rap, and even Taylor Swift’s, and yes, BTS’ songs too, New Wave continues to be my top genre. Age alert.

So if you have been stuck fiddling from one playlists to another on your Spotify, check out that icon that shows Spotify Wrapped and learn what Spotify had been spying about you and your music. See if like me you’ve been listening to wistful and happy music. Take note, guilty pleasure songs you’ve repeatedly played in your car while driving alone are there but thankfully, Spotify doesn’t record moments we sang out of tune. Well, not yet.

Find this on your Spotify

***

Mood: 1/10 Honks! (All three of us are now fully vaccinated.)

I Survived November

Ever had those days when paranoia sets in because the series of events do not make sense? That was November for me, my stuffs were breaking one a time like I was cursed. And oddly enough , after I posted about my streak of bad luck, a couple more were added on the list of things I broke clearly unintentionally.

Following my Apple Watch was my AfterShokz Titanium headset. It just snapped while I was cleaning it after my 5K. Then last Monday my work desktop just stopped leaving me unproductive almost majority of the day. And that wasn’t the worst part but it was the thought that I would need to report to work the next day—which means I would be driving. I was thinking Final Destination scenario.

Been a fan of Mighty Bond lately.

I made it back home the next day despite having to stay up all night at work to conduct an 8-hour training—my first time to talk nonstop for almost the entire shift.

Wednesday was next, Thursday, and finally Friday. Then the final weekend when I had an uneventful drive to my 2nd COVID-19 vaccination, then the 29th, and then the 30th. Yes, I was counting the days until November will be over.

So last night I can’t recall being more than excited to see the calendar show December 1 finally. It was a holiday and I spent more time playing The Hunter with Marcus while keeping to myself that I’m on the the lookout if I’d break something—maybe a glass, my Xbox controller, the door knob even. But nothing happened. I stepped out of Marcus’ room two hours past midnight. November’s over and I survived it. Whew. That night, Jim Bean and Netflix never felt that good.

***

I had my progressive glasses fixed which only required frame replacement. I paid for a cheaper one this time just in case I break it again. Knock on wood.

An accessory I found on Lazada also gave my Apple Watch a new lease on life. I paid only P141 including shipping from China. I regret discovering it late but at least it now covers the crack and makes the watch look like brand new.

No more crack.

***

Mood: 2/10 Honks! (So this is how it feels to be 48.)

Murphy, Give me a break

“When it rains your poor” a friend once jokingly said about his equivalent of the more popular “when it rains, it pours.” But while that’s funny, come to think of it, his version actually makes sense. Case in point, this month—of all months.

I don’t consider myself careless nor clumsy so breaking things aren’t normal for me especially if in succession. However, it looks like sh*t does happen because it’s just past half of the month and I start to feel I have reverse Midas touch.

First to go was my 8-year old Starbucks steel spill-proof coffee tumbler. It was a gift from my wife which was my companion during countless sleepy drives. It was even with me on my trip to cold Kansas. All that considered I’m keeping it, sealing the flip top for good and using the tumbler to keep my drinks warm and crossing my fingers I don’t spill coffee on my desktop while using it. (I’m not clumsy, I’m not clumsy, I’m not clumsy…)

Then there’s my treadmill’s cup holder. I’ve had so much trust about the Nordictrack S20’s durability that I have been slamming my drinking bottles and aerosol cleanser until I noticed recently the cup holder’s screw mount broke off behind the control panel. Like my Starbucks tumbler Mighty bond also did the trick but I’m more gentle this time and paying attention how I place my running bottles while at the same time checking my cadence, my pulse, and if I’m about to pass out or not.

My progressive glasses was next victim. Didn’t sit on it but I did something foolish. I’m still able to use it at work, thanks to work at home, but I’d look stupid if I wear it in the office with half of its temple broken. I now feel like I’m wearing a monocle. By the way, Hitler wore a monocle, FYI.

Promoting a new fashion trend.

But Murphy’s law isn’t done yet and this time it targeted our car’s battery. Discovered it fully drained just this past weekend when I was about to go out for a drive to pick up the Conti’s choco overload cake Marcus requested to celebrate his 13th year. It pays to have an in-law with a spare car.

Then there would be another. Last but not the least because obviously this one is the most expensive. How about breaking an Apple Watch? This one really sucks because I just had it this year as a gift. What makes it worse seeing it drop and break is that it occurred just when I’m starting to enjoy the convenience of wearing it while running as it streams music directly from Spotify. I think I can still use it but the crack on the screen will likely take in water so I have to be extra careful I don’t drop sweat on it. (May be too late but I found out that there’s a bezel being sold online that I could attach to protect the screen. Bought one anyhow in an attempt to save this watch.)

Chipped!

Quite a list already on my birth month, right? I’m never superstitious but I can’t help thinking a knock on wood wouldn’t hurt. Or maybe staying indoors until end of the month a better option? Common Murphy, give me a break. No pun intended.

***

Mood: 5/10 honks! (Fingers crossed not to break more things)

The Great Outdoors

Not everything on Netflix are created equal. And not all that involve guns are excessively violent movies or series. Like Meat Eater. I’ve seen this on my profile long time ago but never really opened nor previewed it just because its cover hints it‘s about hunting. Yup, I’m one of those “hypocrites “ who eat meat but loathe the sight of animals getting slaughtered or killed and our son Marcus shares the same sentiment. But it was a thing of the past we discovered just recently.

Several weeks back over dinner my wife randomly picked Steven Rinella’s series but was quietly observing Marcus’ reaction knowing that he would easily cry over shrimps being cooked for food. I myself was waiting for his protest, gladly willing to stop and find another film to watch. Minutes past but there was nothing from Marcus. He was watching the show.

We finished our first episode of Meat Eater and even watched a couple more. Everyone in the house was surprisingly hooked on a hunting show and in fact we are now on its second season.

Meat Eater breaks the bad reputation about hunting. It’s more educational than violent but be warned it shows animals getting shot, skinned, and butchered. Yes, there’s blood too. Despite all the seemingly gory details, what makes Meat Eater a must watch is it tells us that there’s more to hunting than just killing animals. Legal hunting entails discipline, patience, respect for nature, and even acceptance that bad days happen—when all our best efforts yield nothing.

As much as we’d like to, we do not have plans to purchase guns or hunting clothes yet—probably won’t happen in our lifetime—but thanks to XBox Marcus found a free hunting games through his game pass. The Hunter: Call of the Wild is as close as we can get to real life adventure. The game has impressive graphics of the great outdoors and its challenges are similar to what Steven Rinella encounters on Netflix’s Meat Eater. The Hunter Call of the Wild is so random and unpredictable that I’ve had days when I haven’t seen or shot an animal yet still enjoy playing it. (FYI, I got attacked by a wild boar yesterday. I plan to track him one of these days after shift.)

Can be played solo or multiplayer. Try it.

***

With and without mask and face shield.

Well, Marcus went outdoors for the first just couple months short before being inside the house for two years since COVID-19. Just this weekend he finally got scheduled for his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. It was administered at the office during the dependents vaccination program. I learned ours was the first site of the company to have vaccination for minors.

Marcus received Moderna vaccine. We didn’t expect that it would happen so soon because of his condition but thankfully his doctor who knows about his Duchenne Muscle Dystrophy was kind enough to send medical clearance online. It’s been three days since he got injected and so far only complaint from him was some hint of dizziness before bedtime plus some soreness on his left arm. Thank God he responded well to the vaccine.

Wish we posed without the mask and shield but no complaints.

***

Mood: 2/10 Honks! (Hot Monday afternoon)

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)