Jump Around

We kept our house (or try to) minimalist so we’d have enough space for Marcus’ wheelchair and there is benefit to doing it. As I progress along my home workout routines I discovered I have room to do skip ropes indoors and I have been doing this for years now.

Once I thought I’d be happy to do crossover jumps but it got boring soon. Then I was able to achieve double unders though only sparingly and just in between fast skips. Nowhere to run, literally, this quarantine period I upped the skip rope difficulty.

Thanks to YouTube, I saw a video that got me interested. It was a CrossFit challenge featuring 45 double unders done in succession. One after the other. Next day I attempted it and found out I can do it. I have improved my double unders count since then but not yet halfway close to 45.

Like anything else, there’s a technique to double unders. It’s not just all about jumping high but rather it involves coordination of movements. The flick of the wrist to make the rope go around faster is key.

A lighter and smaller rope also presents a good challenge than using a heavier rope. Unable to just go back to my favorite sports store, Decathlon,  whenever I want to, I found Jump Manila on Facebook. The page promotes jumping rope activities and also sells skipping ropes.

I was happy with Jump Manila’s skip rope but two months later it revealed its weak spot.

That dark band is a sign it will break.
Break point.

Jump Manila’s very simple and lightweight design has an Achilles heel.  Without a bearing like Decathlon’s Domyos skip rope, the constant motion of the rope results to friction at the area close to the tip of the handle and over time a nick formed until the rope snapped.

Domyos skip ropes have bearings to prevent the rope from rubbing the edge of the handles.

Now I’m left using my trusty old Domyos skip rope. It’s slightly harder to flick but I’m good with it until I find another. I have my eyes set on buying from Decathlon ‘s online store as Ive seen on Facebook they have a weight adjustable skip rope. We’ll see how this goes.

***

Mood: 2/10 Honks! (Weekend again.)

I Survived the #25PushUpChallenge

The words were once just lyrics to a song playing over and over again back when I was in elementary. 19 was one of my faves among the popular radio hits. Like other boys I used to like playing soldiers so a song mentioning Vietnam was cool.

“According to a Veteran’s Administration study
Half of the Vietnam combat veterans suffered
From what psychiatrists call
Post traumatic stress disorder
Many vets complain of alienation, rage, or guilt
Some succumb to suicidal thoughts
Eight to ten years after coming home
Almost eight-hundred-thousand men
Are still fighting the Vietnam War” (genius.com)

Post traumatic stress disorder doesn’t mean anything then. But I was curious, I tried to understand 19’s lyrics. There was no internet available in the 80s so it was from our trusty medical books at home where I learned that post traumatic stress disorder is PTSD in short. It was basically a form of long-term nightmare observed to be experienced by American soldiers coming from their Vietnam tour of duty.

PTSD is nasty. More so its suicidal effect if left untreated as this is the ultimate point of no return. What’s more concerning is that PTSD doesn’t happen to Vietnam war veterans alone. It can affect anyone who has experienced something painful and terrifying in their lives which according to Mayoclinic even children can have PTSD.

So when I was nominated by someone on Facebook to do the #25PushUpChallenge which raises awareness about PTSD I was up for it though I broke some rules. I hate bugging people so I didn’t nominate anyone. Night shift had me lose my orientation of a 24-hour day so there were days I had two posts. But hey, I did 25 posts with hashtag #25PushUpChallenge which is the main goal of all this–to contribute to raising awareness.

Doing pushups for 25 days seems daunting at first. Hitting boredom was a concern. Fatigue was another.And then there’s that part of posting videos of it on Facebook (made me feel narcissistic at the end). But the challenge rule doesn’t dictate doing just strict military pushups so my personal goal was to vary the pushup routine over 25 days.

A screenshot of my #25PushUpChallenge Facebook album

And I succeeded. I am proud to say that not one #25PushUpChallenge video I posted shows the same set as the others. While the a pushup variation appears in several videos,I made sure the sets I do every day is something unique. I was raising awareness and at the same time testing myself to do something new each day.

Last Friday I hit day 25 of 25. Weird, it feels like ending a Netflix and I’m left wondering what’s next. However, if there’s something I learned from #25PushUpChallenge is that commitment is always important in beating any challenge. As my favorite workout mantra goes, “Know the whys so you can endure the hows.” Happy Sunday everyone.

***

Mood: 2/10 Honks! (Got paper airplanes to build, new Xbox games to play with Marcus. Thanks to American Santa Clauses.)

High Score

One of the Netflix shows we watched with Marcus recently was High Score. The show features the history of gaming, though selective platforms only, from the early days of the then almighty NES and Atari.

High Score is only one season. It only highlights the classic games like Mario, Donkey Kong, and Doom. Show also mentions about arcade games as well famous block game, Tetris. And this posed a challenge to Marcus who tried his hand-eye coordination on the spin-off of this iconic game and he didn’t fail. Last night he recorded the highest in our province in the game Block Out.

***

Hand movements

In the recent days I noticed that Marcus prefers me brushing his teeth instead of him doing it. He’s been using an electric toothbrush which requires less hand motion but the downside is that it’s heavier than its manual counterparts. So last night I was so elated to realize that Marcus can still clap his hands while we were watching TV. Hope his strength stays longer.

***

Mood: 2/10 Honks! (Had Starbucks America after a long while.)

Of Masks and Pricey Dispenser

Few more days and we’d be under quarantine mode for five months already. It doesn’t matter what quarantine version we’re at (there’s ECQ, GCQ, and now MECQ) but the fact that the number of cases continue to rise only means that extra paranoia is much welcome. If 126,000 positive cases (and counting) don’t alarm you, I don’t know what will.

On top of the minimum safety measures to avoid getting infected with the dreaded COVID-19 virus like wearing masks, effective washing of hands, and social distancing we have started to do more at home. I’m the one who has the quarantine pass and the only one who can drive–stress on the ‘can drive’–so I’m the designated errand person. And whenever I return home there’s always that feeling of uncertainty if I brought something that could make wifey or Marcus sick. Maybe it’s just me but I won’t be surprised if equally paranoid people feel the same thing. And so habits have changed.

For one, my bath habits. Back in the pre-COVID-19 days I would always take a bath whenever I need to drive somewhere as I’d feel sticky if I don’t. Now I don’t care. People nowadays wear masks so if ever I stink it would go unnoticed anyway, and if someone does think I reek like hell, I’m all masked plus with cap and a face shield so I’m like a villain skunk whose identity is fully protected.

Take note of the double masks while I wait inside the car for my Jollibee to go.

Don’t judge yet, I still do take a bath but it now happens when I arrive home. That is, after I have sprayed my car’s interior with disinfectant and wipe everything I take out of the grocery bag like erasing an evidence from a crime scene. Yep, that’s new norm for me.

Then there’s more. The drinking water we use at home comes from a nearby mineral water station. For four years since we transferred here, we’ve been a regular customer. But lately I have been more observant than ever on how the water containers are refilled and I can see potential source of contamination– the store assistant has not been wearing masks. So last week I finally approved wifey’s decision to order a costly water dispenser which has filters in it.

Never thought I’d agree to buying a P20,000+ water dispenser.
Tested and passed.

I don’t trust the quality of our tap water just like my mistrust on how our current government is handling this pandemic. Oops, can’t help it but that’s how bad. I do think though that the Waters(TM) water filter will deliver. The dispenser includes a kit to test water quality and so far it passes with flying colors. I drank water from it yesterday after setting it up and so far no upset stomach. I’d miss the workout I get from lifting two 5-gallon containers every other week.

***

Mood: 4/10 Honks! (Saturday again, I deserve a Bacardi.)

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.)

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.)