Father’s Day Weekend

Once in a while it pays to get out of our comfort zone and face the world out there. In my terms, the world outside my boring driving route.

I spared Friday for wifey, to meet up with her former work colleagues. It was a trip to Vikings Luxury Buffet somewhere close to MOA which we had to time right due to the UVVRP. Although hours late for dinner, we ended the night full of reminisced memories, free buffet, and free Starbucks. Thanks guys, especially to the couple who brought stuffs from their 10-year stay in the US.

We left wifey with her friends so we tried the MOA Eye. My first time here but this is Marcus’ first ferris wheel ride.
Red Planet’s lobby has teddy bears. Not free though.
Midnight check in.

Next day, was for Marcus and me. Saturday was supposed to be gun show day but no thanks to my disorganized calendar, we got ourselves booked in Red Planet Hotel Shaw a month earlier than AFAD’s event at SM Megamall.

Not wanting to waste opportunity and gas, we skipped the bigger mall and dropped by Greenhills Shopping Center to get Marcus’ Xbox One controller checked and fixed. 800 pesos later we have a working unit. Seemed worth it.

Still with time to kill on a Father’s Day weekend, we tried finding our way back to Megamall. This is when our luck, or more so mine, would run out. My lack of familiarity with the streets got me entering a one-way zone and got flagged for a traffic violation. It would have been a more costly mistake had it not been for any or all of the following: a really considerate officer, Marcus playing along with my alibi that he’s starving, or my dashcam’s presence that made the officer realize it records whatever he says. Whatever it was, I got away with a lesser fine. We ditched Megamall plans that afternoon.

None today, so must be Tuesday as advised by the officer.

All is not lost however. Thanks to the new Shakey’s as well as Starbucks stores at Caltex SLEX we were able to cap our adventure right. Pizza and Java Chip Frappucino always work for me.

Pizza saved the day.

***

Shorties:

Vikings Luxury Buffet wasn’t what I expected. Located outside of a mall, parking was difficult, coming in on a Friday night made it worse. We lined up for more than 30 minutes before we got our slot. Food wasn’t that remarkable either. It didn’t even matter if I got mine for free. Normally I wouldn’t make a fuss out of it if I’m not paying but I just wouldn’t add this place to my must-visit-again list.

Red Planet Hotel’s experience was much better. Accommodation was worth the price we paid for. At P1500 we got comfy rooms, better ambiance, and friendly staff–from reception to maintenance. It also has parking secured with automated entrance and CCTV. And it has a brand that’s family-friendly than motels that has a logo of a female behind a yellow fan or one that sounds like a female lingerie line that ends with the word secret. If there’s a Red Planet among your options, pick it.

***

Sunday was plain and simple. Despite our close proximity to my parent-in-law’s place, I and Marcus seldom visit them due to not-so-wheelchair friendly route. But this Father’s day I made sure we dropped by. I had to pry Marcus away from his newly bought Spider-Man Xbox 360 game (pre-owned game we bought from Greenhills) and celebrate with everyone else. Did cold turkey on the urge to drink with anyone this year so that I could make myself available to Marcus anytime but this Sunday I asked his permission to have some just for Father’s day. I had two bottles of lights and bananas for finger food which makes me still on track on my sobriety and weight loss goal.

***

Mood: 1/10 Honks! (My second holiday Monday this June.)

Hot Car No More

Can’t recall the last time I saw him sleeping in the car.

This past week I had the hottest car in the neighborhood. I wish figuratively but no. It was really the hottest car. Thanks to bad air-conditioning.

What was temporarily fixed about a year ago eventually broke down. Nothing but Murphy’s Law. The mechanic was honest enough that placing the shim on the car’s aircon compressor wouldn’t last but back then my only concern was that the car would make it to the airport for our December trip. Well, it exceeded expectations.

Actually, more than enough. It made more trips. It made another trip to Park ‘N Fly for our short Bacolod vacation. And it made more to and from Manila while we process Marcus’ genetic testing. I think the gamble to have the short-term fix was worth it.

But two Fridays ago I braved peeking under the boot to check. It was a rattling sound that got my attention early of May. The compressor’s pulley was indeed coming off. It moved more that the magnetic clutch would. That was the start of one week of sweaty drive to work and weekends spent on finding an air-conditioning compressor replacement. Last Saturday I was lucky to finally source out the part somewhere closer than Cavite.

Today, I got the part installed. The car’s dashboard vents are once again blowing cold air. Monday’s drive to work would be with windows up this time. 

***

Mood: 2/10 Honks! ( Hot choco while waiting at the car wash.)

Green and Go

So apparently the continuing number of clueless drivers falling victim to the Nuvali trap, plus maybe the accompanying rude honking from those queueing behind, has gotten the attention of whoever are in charge of its traffic management systems. The other night I noticed that they modified the traffic light configuration that would now allow a stress-free drive to the famous Nuvali lake.

Drivers turning left from Nuvali Boulevard to  Evozone Avenue now face a green light instead of the previous red which in effect eliminates countless moments of embarrassment for those stuck confused in the middle of the channelization islands. Good job. Problem solved, yes? Not quite. 

The ‘should I stay or should I go’ dilemma now has new owners. This time the unfortunate drivers are those exiting the Solenad 2 area as they would be looking up at one red light and a green light at the same time at some point of the traffic signal sequence. These lights were once in synced but in an attempt to resolve the original Nuvali trap the traffic admin inadvertently caused another. So how to go about this? That closest light in front of you is your signal. Pay attention to it if you’re the first at the intersection and please be considerate if you are behind one confused guy. Don’t honk if you can help it.

Those red lights spell trouble. This is from the perspective of those coming from Solenade 2.

***

After more than five years of observing people sweat it out in Nuvali, I finally got the chance to run in here. This Friday I found myself in a 3K fun run around the Nuvali lake as our company kicks off its annual sports activities. It was a run against all odds but it was one good run. This event made me realize that I could actually run coming from a night shift and while nursing a leg injury which I got from my last run in February.  If or when my leg improves, I would surely do another post  graveyard shift run soon.

My first Kinesio tape was worth it.

***

Mood: 3/10 Honks! (Survived my 2nd Saturday at work.)

Driving: All About Law And Culture

Man has the ability to adapt. It’s the main reason evolution happened and continues to happen. To survive we adapt to change–consciously or not–, whether it’s change in environment, social or financial status, weather, or technology. Name any factor and normally we would see anyone adapt to it one way or another. Such inherent nature to adapt is also true in the way we drive.

In the Philippines, our beloved country, law and culture play a big role in the orderliness–or the lack of it–of our traffic flow. Everyone I’m sure would agree that day in day out we would shake our heads in despair somewhere some time during our daily commute. As a stimulus, the chaotic traffic sends our brain looking for answers, answers we may not find but we seek nonetheless. We are that desperate that more often than not  we start using techniques we use in problem solving sessions at work while stuck between smoke belching buses, sneaky motorcycles, unruly pedestrians, inconsiderate drivers, and non-performing enforcers. Nothing sucks so much energy than bad traffic, second are bad bosses.

It is a known fact that we live in a country with so many laws yet a few of which are implemented to a tee. Whatever the reasons behind the ongoing transgression we may not know although corruption would definitely be one. Does the word bribery ring a bell? Our dear governing traffic bodies down to the policemen and to the deputized enforcers still have a lot to be desired.

Then there’s that one thing strongly ingrained in our culture. One that works both in our favor and against us is what we call diskarte.  While diskarte is among the many Filipino words that have different English equivalent, you’ll know it once you see it happen. Diskarte is what makes that couple sandwich their infant while on a motorcycle–or worse, e-bike and without helmets. Diskarte is why our buses are packed and why the drivers would still pick passengers, not to mention anywhere they’d find an opportunity to do so. Diskarte is why we see colorum vans. Diskarte is why  flying coffins–commonly jeepneys–exist and why professionals continue to patronize it as their means of transportation to and from work despite the risks. Diskarte is why some logistics companies overload their trucks despite poorly maintained brake systems. The list is almost endless.

It is everyone’s wish that time would come when we see our traffic conditions improve. When? Your guess is as good as mine. Until such time people behind the LTO, LTFRB, PNP, and all other related agencies seriously gather their heads and balls (no pun intended) altogether then we can just continue to expect to witness circus, chaos, and diskarte happening all around us and all we could do is keep our fingers crossed that at the end of the day we return home unscathed. We just have a looong way to go until the time we see a much more civil driving environment.

***

Last night I was behind one vehicle stuck in the Nuvali trap. It was an SUV but it doesn’t look like the one that had me looking like an ignoramus the first time I made the mistake so I passed it without any fuss but the next cars weren’t as forgiving. Looks like this trap is going to embarrass more clueless drivers.

***

I recently installed an app from called Sketch by Sony Mobile Communications and it is what I used to create the image above. The app has features I didn’t expect like the capability to do layers. It was what got me busy yesterday while waiting for Marcus finish his day’s physical therapy. The app is available on Google Play Store.

***

Mood: 1/10 Honks! (Survived another week at the place that of all things it should not lack is a working speaker set.)

The Nuvali Trap

I am beginning to memorize the sequence of these lights. I seem to have figured out the interval when the other turns on and when the other turns off. In a matter of three days I have observed the exchange of green, amber, and red along with the number drivers who made their own share of embarrassing moments while stuck clueless in the middle of this road intersection just a few meters away from our building. This has become my personal entertainment whenever I take a sanity break from the blinding desktop monitor and the nauseating call recordings.

Social media have exposed lots of bad drivers, thanks to the popularity of dashcams and their equally eager owners who either would have the clean intention of correcting a mistake or just have their own share of viral videos no matter how trivial it is. Whatever the intent may be, in the right hands, all these are data that could be used to improve our road conditions and eventually the flow of traffic. But is technology friend or foe?

The answer depends on whom you are asking. Try the drivers who have fallen victims to what I’ve started to call the Nuvali trap. The intersection in this area has a configuration wherein there is a wide channelization island. According to Massachusetts Department of Transportation, these islands are meant to control traffic or provide pedestrian refuge especially in a busy crossing. Those who know how Nuvali would get packed with cyclists, runners, motorists, and pedestrians and sleepy call center agents during the peak hours would understand the importance of these channelization islands.

nuvali20street20view_zpsm5pdnrr3
Street view during the ongoing installation. (Image from Google.)

For more than five years, this particular intersection never had a traffic light. Flow of traffic was mutual. The sign We Share The Road At Nuvali was more than enough. Traffic incidents were confined to fender benders as far as I’m concerned. But this popular weekend venue would soon get busier than before. Installing traffic lights therefore becomes a must. And this is when the awkward moments start to happen.

nuvali20street20view2_zpsanktjqiq
The Nuvali trap is in the middle of two channelization islands. That traffic light has been the cause of awkward moments.

Drivers prematurely stopping at this intersection have been common since they activated the traffic lights. It’s easy to blame driver’s competency or even the corrupt LTO.  Or even Duterte just to spark fire with the trolls. But I would understand any driver who points a finger at the presence of the wide channelization island as the factor to the Nuvali trap. The width of the islands gives the perception that the driver faces another red light and needs to stop even if just a second ago he came from a legit left turn. Trust me, the dilemma to cross or not is real.

I know this for a fact because I made the same booboo which is the very reason I’ve been frequenting the smoking area even if I neither smoke nor vape just so I could observe if I’m alone in this embarrassing moment or not. I’ve checked my Facebook and thankfully none has posted a video of a confused bald driver somewhere in Nuvali. Thanks to you SUV driver who flashed your headlight behind me as if you were having diarrhea. Now I understand. Please accept my apologies. Blame the Nuvali trap.

 ***

Mood: 2/10 Honks! (Stuffs we left in the US have arrived.)

A Broken Car, A Happy Kid, and A Patient Wife

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.

The car’s Pandora’s box. (Image from Honda.)

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.

Lego Hack, Lego Sword Rack
A sword rack using an 8 X 2 Lego piece.

***

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.)

An Open Letter to My Carpool Passengers

Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an  understanding  of ourselves. – Carl Jung, Swiss Psychologist

 

Dear passengers,

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.

Your friendly carpool driver.

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.

Sincerely,
Cris

 

***

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.)