So We Have A Dog

Six months later I noticed I haven’t had an entry about our dog. Once referred to as a small rat for being so tiny the first time wifey got it out of a box that was less than half of a regular shoe box into our house is now a grown up dog and we think it is still growing bigger and/or fatter.

Being cozy with Marcus.

Named after Marcus’ pricey smart toy dog he got as a gift while in the US, Shadow soon became house-trained. I’d wish it’s toilet-trained but the fact that it whines whenever it needs to “go” and do it outside, wherever it pleases, is good enough.

First day Shadow went farther from home.

It wasn’t all good and easy though having him around. With me especially. I had less tolerance to pet peeves so I didn’t deal with most of it too well unlike wifey. I was strict. However, what I didn’t learn from reading about dealing with pets, I learned from Marcus. Some the hard way.

An animal lover since he was younger, it was his wish to have another live pet at home after we lost our cat, Mittens, in 2016. We tried a turtle and we still have a dwarf hamster. It took a couple more years for us to test if we can have something furry and bigger. Hypoallergenic dogs are out of the question due to costs. Thankfully, Marcus never had asthma attack with the mongrel shedding all over. So far.

Disciplining the dog was always the issue. Marcus is so particular with how his pets are handled. He reminds me when to clean the hamster. He would protest whenever he sees the dog hurt. It was a challenge explaining to him why I need to keep the dog from doing stuffs. Why there should be rules on what the dog can do and can’t do. At least he now knows to keep Shadow at bay whenever necessary. I taught him that a slight tap to the nose works.

Pet peeves aside, Shadow as it turned out is an active mutt. It has short bursts of energy. It is playful at the same time annoying–I was drafting this post with Shadow licking my head, biting my elbows. It plays fetch inside the house, it runs and jumps around which is the very reason I decided to install an anti-tip strap to our flat TV. Marcus loves all these antics.

This is why I now appreciate Shadow more being with us. To see Marcus enjoy the dog’s company makes me think we made the right decision to get a dog and deal with pet peeves in the process. I think I have learned my lessons–continue to learn may be more appropriate. I’d like to believe I’m a better pet owner and father, while I’m at it. We’re now like an ideal family out of Marcus’ Sims game. If only this dog could get a job or at least run along.

Shadow loves the yoga matt and is always around when I stretch after running.

***

Mood: 2/10 Honks! (Second week to see the team.)

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Carless and Enjoying It

It’s almost a month since I sent our car to a shop for its much needed paint job. Surprisingly, I seem to have adapted to this new lifestyle. I’m carless and I’m enjoying it.

The first couple of weeks I carpooled to and from work. It changed my routine, it challenged my patience. Most days I’d play the waiting game and there was a day when I stood like a lifeless statue for an hour before my friend arrived but I didn’t (show) complain one bit.

Then the dreaded need to report on a different time and extend after shift happened. I had to take public transportation which I soon discovered is actually easy and convenient in some aspect even if the jeepney rides exposed me in the open, more so the tricycle trips that were like extreme games played in the middle of a busy road. My fate was on the hands of possibly crazy drivers and their equally unstable vehicles. But so far I survived.

Car’s all wrapped up in the paint shop.

One of the good things without a car is that I get to places I normally would avoid because of lack of parking space. Like yesterday morning right out of work, I went to a newly opened Domino’s Pizza parlor to get something for lunch. In the afternoon, coming from the paint shop and doing errands to the laundry shop I stopped by at a small eatery and indulged myself with their special lomi. It was something I haven’t done for years. I got so excited at the sight of a nicely served hot meal that I started mixing it before deciding it would make a good social media post for a change. It was likely 600 plus calories so I stopped halfway after finishing the meat and the rest of the toppings. 😂

Raffy’s lomi tastes good though it was better years ago.

I checked the car and it is on its buffing stage before the top coat will be applied. Construction of our covered garage at home was just completed as well after a week of noisy activity and it should be ready to accommodate the car when the concrete is fully cured. I can’t wait to drive the car again but now that I’ve learned of another option to commute to work I might drive less and take the public transportation more if weather permits.

***

Mood: 2/10 Honks! (Longer weekend ahead. Hit 30:52 minutes at 5K mark which breaks last year’s PT.)

Talking to People is Still Better, Yes?

Fomo. Funny word but it’s one of the few things I learned last year talking with other people. Face to face, not on social media or the weird wide web. It was sometime in October and over expensive venti coffee when we talked about more expensive stuff, Bitcoin. But more than just running my computer 24/7 to mine cryptocurrency, the acronym FOMO or fear of missing opportunity stuck the most. Whether this a jargon, I didn’t even check. I just like the word.

My aversion to spending on something I’m uncertain of had me eventually ditch the idea of getting into Bitcoin but the funny ‘F’ word lingered. Fomo became my personal mantra, it made me more eager to execute plans I’ve already archived.

In this first month of the new year, I found the opportunity I couldn’t pass up. For days it kept appearing on my inbox while I prepare to go about my daily routine. So after sleeping on it over the weekend, I bit the bullet and applied for the internal position with the downside in mind that it would get me out of my comfort zone. It was time to test fomo.

To be honest, while I wanted the job so much, I didn’t prepare like I would in the past. I decided not to dress up on interview day and just showed up come-as-you-are, partly cocky that I can do it and because fomo. Half of me was holding on to the routine I’ve loved for so long–mainly because I’ve control over my schedule and I talk to people less–but another half of me wants no more of it.

Then on a Monday I heard the good news. Seldom that Monday does that. My boss called to inform me that I got the post and she sounded happier than I was. Whether she was happy for me or she’s happy I’m out of her way, I’ll take it. Thanks to fomo, I’ll be talking to a new boss and will interact with more people soon.

Earlier on that same Monday was a different surprise. Our neighbor started renovation and I got caught unguarded. My already tight parking spot became tighter as they started deploying construction materials into the space we share. So as the saying goes, desperate times call for desperate measures.

Days later I accepted the idea that now is the best time to have our car get its much needed paint job. I had it scheduled this year though not this soon but since parking would be a challenge in the weeks to come I welcomed the thought of me carpooling or taking public transpo until our neighbor’s done with their project and our Honda City’s repainting is completed.

At the paint shop, besides separation anxiety, a scary thought hits me. The shop, I discovered, also does engine repairs and their mechanic explained that the stuck spark plug I’ve been ignoring for a year could soon spell trouble. Our car has eight spark plugs but it’s been running with one of it unreplaced after Honda Calamba’s–the irony–technician rounded the plug’s hex nut and still have the gall to inform me that it was rounded before he touched it. None of my web search results warned me about the possibility of the spark plug’s tip disintegrating and messing up the cylinder or piston area. Interesting, fate timed it right once more for me and it had me talking to a random person who made me realize I could’ve been into worse predicament.

All these recent interactions tell me that it does pay to talk to people. This is a fact we need to remind ourselves especially when we’ve started to justify being introvert is better (note to self). Exchanging ideas in person seems to still beat online interaction. Forget Black Mirror or Anon, we’re just not there yet.

***

Mood: 3/10 Honks! (Netflix’s Mindhunter on queue.)

Inhale, Excel

Any day out of the ordinary is always welcome. Yesterday was one of those that break routine and I would say it was about breathing fresh air…or hoping to get one.

All schedules aligned, Marcus finally had his chance to undergo the tests that’s been suggested by his doctors years ago. The first one was easy peasy although relatively expensive. The 2D Echo test at the heart station of St. Frances Cabrini Hospital was a breeze. As expected, Marcus finds the procedure ticklish and at the same time interesting. He smiled when the doctor made him listen to his own heartbeat. I smiled when she said Marcus’ heart is normal for now.

Happy heart.

However, it was a different story at the pulmonary function test. Marcus had difficulty sustaining at least three seconds of the required prolonged breathing. Perhaps it was stressful for him to have his nose clipped and be asked to breathe normally, then suck air on cue, and then exhale continuously until the technician says stop which by the way is just half of the process. It took almost an hour to prep Marcus and I was eventually advised that we could come another day when he is ready for the test.

Then there’s me at work. Incidentally, I went to the office wearing a shirt with a print that says “Inhale…Excel.” It was a gift from my current boss that I like–vague subject-verb arrangement intended. But the interesting part doesn’t end there. It was also on this same day I went for an interview for another job position. My first this year. Sigh, inhale, exhale.

***

While Marcus no longer walks and haven’t engaged in something athletic ever since, it doesn’t stop him from understanding sports. For one, I find it amusing that he knows skateboard moves despite lack of experience or even exposure to extreme sports shows on TV. And recently he discovered more on game pass. This past days we’ve been on fairways and football fields. We can now score some pars and have had our winning moments with the Chelsea team. Thanks to Xbox, Marcus can run around sans the need of real life stamina.

***

Mood: 2/10 Honks! (Fingers and toes and heart crossed.)

An Airbnb and a Van

Last December was a vacation with a different setup. No thanks to the near miss that almost ruined our Christmas and left us with only one parent. The good news she’s a fighter and is recovering fast but to lessen her stress of managing demanding guests, therapist, and helpers in one house, not to mention the growing pets, we all decided to use Airbnb. For the very first time, all of us visiting Bacolod lived in a house that wasn’t ours.

A breakfast at MyPlace.

It was a good thing that we found MyPlace on Airbnb. It appeared among the first set of search results given the number of guests. MyPlace can accommodate 13 with its four bedrooms but since there were only six of us checking in, the first issue we had was picking which room and which bed. Others were very minor and we learned to deal with it. Props to the host, Judith, and her staff who are very professional, organized, and friendly. They made sure we have what we need and familiar with everything, including the wi-fi password, before leaving the whole house to us. MyPlace in Bacolod City is an ancestral house that became our home for seven days.

Tempting to have a party with such space but house rules don’t allow rowdy ones.

On top of a house that’s fully furnished, MyPlace has a two-car garage. This encouraged wifey more to pursue renting a van instead of us flagging a taxi every time we need to go somewhere. In a busy December, it was a sound idea. Her spec includes that the vehicle could take two wheelchairs–one for my mother and one for Marcus–and luckily we found one that my high school friend owns. Vehicle was a white Nissan NV350 with only a few mileage on it.

Shot of the garage from my dash cam that I attached to the van during the entire trip.

I’ve driven several vehicles in the past but never a full size van so I had some anxiety about doing it since the thought of getting a rental started. But no guts, no glory as we used to say in my younger years, so we did and there was no regrets.

The van was surprisingly easy to drive. A few adjustments on day one and minor hiccups like driving with the emergency brake engaged, I picked up faster than expected. NV350 van is diesel and it’s a bit torquey on the first gear but I got used to it soon. Its wide mirrors made it easier to park and maneuver in tight December traffic so I never had any problem driving it. The white van made our trips to the malls, fast food breakfast runs, and every other trips needed a more convenient one. P2000 per day seems worth it.

It was raining on and off so I had to get the van washed at least once.

One week has past since we left Bacolod and join the rat race once more. I miss everyone back there, including our first Airbnb home. Of course I also miss the white Nissan van which has become my new dream car even if it will be hard to fit it in our space. Maybe I’ll stick to the Honda Jazz or maybe I’ll stick to our current City. Perhaps a new paint job to the 11-year old car will do the trick of shaking off that thought of mortgaging a new car.

***

While waiting to pick up sis and family at the Silay airport.

I wasn’t totally honest. There’s actually one thing that annoyed us. Nissans are known for their good air conditioning so I was surprised when the front blowers died while we were on our way to have lunch at Vikings SM Bacolod. My backseat drivers said the rear fans were working fine so we proceeded anyhow. On that same afternoon I dropped by my friend’s house to have it checked and we later confirmed that my hunch about a busted fuse was right. It was late in the afternoon when a technician found the blown fuse so he replaced it with the only spare available but one that’s underrated. As expected, it blew up two days later after I absentmindedly turned the blower to full setting. Good thing the fuse box is easy to access so I was able to replace it myself and even bought extra 15 amps spare flat trumpet angle fuses for my friend’s future use. This fact however does not change my newfound love for vans. Marcus loved it too and it fits his wheelchair upright. I must win the lotto soon.

***

Mood: 3/10 Honks! (Each small bit of chocolates seem to stuff me up.)

20K With Nike Free RN 2018

I already ran a total of 20K using a pair of Nike Free RN 2018. That’s an average of 5K per run and the good news is that I still don’t feel any discomfort despite using this shoe designed for neutral arc. This is definitely a plus.

Back to the highway.

This Nike doesn’t only feel good but is likewise aesthetically appealing for those into minimalist design. It can even be paired with casual clothing and is comfortable for walking inside malls or parks because it has good traction. I discovered the Free RN 2018 grips wet smooth pavement (e.g., tiles) better than my Nike Zoom Vomero 10.

There’s a downside to this shoe’s sole though. What provides traction is also the same thing that I’m having issues with. Like other Free RN series, its sole’s slits and gaps pick up and trap pebbles and other stuffs like mud and broken glasses which are very common where I run. Either I find a new route or just have to pay more attention where I land if I want to preserve this shoes.

The debris trap.

Another thing I recently learned is that there are insole replacements available in our country. I once thought it only exists in annoying pop-up ads. The Athlete’s Foot store we went to in Robinson’s Mall Bacolod sells several insoles that support flat-foot arc like what I have. My in-law paid for one but didn’t fit well in the Free RN as I was not wearing it that day so I used it for my casual shoes and it felt like a charm. Next time I’ll research if there are people who use them in running shoes.

I plan to run straight 10K wearing the Free RN in the next days so I can check how it would be like. I actually did two sets of 5K on our last day in Bacolod as I stopped by my parents’ house to chitchat and take my dose of protein shake. That was a good run.

I used to be a stickler for shoes that fit my arc type but this experience with the Nike Free RN 2018 make me start to believe I can use other designs. If the shoe fits, wear it must be true after all. If I can afford is another story.

***

Mood: 2/10 Honks! (Back to work. Hope I can type.)

Brand New 365 Days

Just like that here comes another fresh set of twelve months. The past year was interesting and fast wherein lots of things happened that I could only recall all with the help of Facebook’s a-year-ago-today feature or Timehop app. That year is over in what feels like a blink of an eye with its ups and downs making me believe that 2018 was a rollercoaster ride we all enjoyed and survived.

Now it’s day 1 of 2019 and hopes are all up. I have no written resolutions, a good thing and a bad thing at the same time, but I look forward to a better year ahead. By God’s grace I wish our whole family good health and harmony. Improved finances is of course welcome.

The second year we’ve been breaking and changing this Lego calendar.

Our routine resets this week. No more Christmas songs–though it’s tempting to still play them on Spotify. Everything goes back to normal whether we like it or not. Work resumes and the rat race begins once more. Although I’m one of those who take one day at a time, I want my days busy. The busier the faster the week ends. Repeat 52 times.

So for the nth time, I say happy new year. I will keep my fingers crossed and see what the next 365 days have to offer.

***

Some images from last night’s New Year’s Eve celebration.

Food at home was minimalist just how I liked it to be. Arriving from Bacolod with barely a day to prepare also helped.
Ground was muddy from days of rain and it was not wheelchair-friendly so some relatives dropped by to pose with Marcus.

***

Mood: 3/10 Honks! (All’s well that ends well.)