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!!!)

Scrap Running

Just when we thought life is starting to get back to normal, the new norm at least, news all over tell us that this ain’t over yet.

Whenever I drive I can see that traffic is getting denser than it was in the past five months. Living close to the highway I observe that the road is beginning to show some activity. On my weekly trips to the market to get Marcus his broccoli and cauliflower, more recreational cyclists, weekend motorcycle riders, and motorists can be seen heading down south where the routes leading to scenic vacation spots are.

Personally, I too have been planning my own activities which I realized are all attempts to get me out of the house for a change. Not to mention break routine and boredom. To start, I have designed– with consent and support of Marcus and wifey, FYI–my tattoo. I want a half sleeve tattoo of Marcus’ games. I also have contacted a skydiving drop zone in Cebu and a scuba diving club in Anilao. Fly or dive, whatever. I just feel like I can do any of these anytime soon.

Not happening

There is also the supposedly doable running that I stopped doing in March when the quarantine period started. This past weekend and today I was getting ready to go out and run to finally complete the Star Wars virtual run I registered early part of this year. The virtual run has been pushed back a couple of times already from its initial May deadline to October 31 this time. I was so raring to log 40K on my Garmin.

Fresh news however remind us that the pandemic is still here. The most striking is about the POTUS getting tested positive for COVID-19. American Pres. Donald Trump who has been downplaying the severity of the virus is now part of the statistics of people who got infected with it. Then close to home, our local cable TV provider announced that several of its staff are under quarantine after getting exposed to COVID-19.

So there goes my plans. The risk of getting infected or being an asymptomatic carrier of COVID-19 is still high and I can’t afford Marcus getting sick just because of me doing something that isn’t really considered essential. These will have to wait until the vaccine becomes available. And the big question now is when. Big WHEN.

***

Mood: 2/10 Honks! (Back to home workouts.)

Donate Your Globe Points To Fight COVID-19

Confirm page.

We need to do our share in this fight against COVID-19 and you don’t need to be a frontliner to do it. Many of us are Globe prepaid users yet most of us don’t even know that rewards points exist and these could expire any time soon.

Don’t let your points expire, make each of it count. My wife made me aware of this donation drive and true indeed I got enough to contribute. In a matter of minutes I was able to download the app, register, and donate all my points. You can do it too and you can do it now. #COVID19

***

Mood: 6/10 Honks! (First week of community quarantine.)

Short Solo Trip

We had an unusual vacation set up last December. For the first time we didn’t stay at home and we’d just drop by our parents’ home coming from our Airbnb. Every now and then I’d also pass by during my morning runs but I find it wasn’t enough to spend time to chitchat especially with my father who now has difficulty hearing.

Since then I planned to be back before another December and this just happened, thanks to my ever supportive wifey who took time to look for a cheaper Philippine Airlines flight for me. Relatively cheaper than the normal fare or P4,499 to be exact. All of a sudden I miss Cebu Pacific’s piso fare deal.

It was my first solo trip after a long while. It had been either me and Marcus or wifey with us. I never flew alone until now. It felt like freedom but on the other hand it felt selfish.

Just the three of us.

But I accomplished my mission. I went to Bacolod with only a few people knowing it. My parents were not made aware. I didn’t want my mother to get busy preparing the house. None of my Bacolod friends knew about it either. I just want to be home and spend time with my father. To talk to him over loud television and of course with his favorite cheap rhum–Tanduay 5 Years.

Now I’m back at the airport waiting for my flight to Manila. In a few hours I’ll see Marcus and likely start shooting enemies in Call of Duty as if this short solo trip was just a dream.

I manage to shake off some calories next day of my arrival.

***

Mood: 2/10 Honks (Lazy day at the departure area.)

Xbox for a Cause

Marcus still surprises us every now and then. Wifey and I were talking about how my work was while on our way to the mall last weekend when Marcus heard the part that I ended the workweek creating a Christmas box with my direct reports.

Curious what the box is for, Marcus asked, “What’s going inside the box?” I told him that my manager plans to sponsor a foundation for kids with cancer this coming December. Then he probed once more, “What’s cancer? Is it infectious?” I struggled to find a simple definition but I got past it. Marcus seems to have digested my explanation. “Daddy, you can donate the Xbox,” he soon replied.

I wasn’t expecting such response. He was referring to the Xbox 360 that we just pulled out and put up for sale online days ago. He was planning to save funds for something–I know he is aiming for a Nintendo Switch console so I was taken aback by what he just said.

The Xbox 360 meant a lot to us. We spent countless hours playing games together. We’ve built Minecraft worlds, we’ve slain aliens in Halo, we’ve teamed up as soldiers in Call of Duty, we’ve rocked the house with Guitar Hero and so many more. For Marcus to just let go of it after hearing about kids with cancer struck me and wifey big time.

We tagged the basic Xbox kit at Php6000 ($120) on Carousell or formerly known as OLX. At this price we’d just be saving Php15K more to get the Nintendo gaming console. So I made a compromise with Marcus. When the Xbox gets sold, half goes to him and the other goes to the foundation. He accepted the deal. It’d be win-win.

Facebook post.

On Wednesday I realized I could also sell the item on Facebook. I was right as the result was overwhelming. The post which I made public was shared by a couple of my friends and the comments were encouraging. I felt it became viral even if my past sarcastic posts got more reactions.

Buyer will be busy in the next few days.

The Xbox 360 was sold barely 24 hours after the Facebook posts. The lucky buyer who is an acquaintance at work got our entire 360 stuff–at least most of it as I kept some games as keepsakes. Marcus is now 3,000 pesos richer and I hope the other 3K goes a long way for the kids with cancer. Next on queue, Marcus’ red wheelchair.

***

Mood: 3/10 Honks! (Back on minimalism track. Somehow.)

Weight a minute

Day 30. Or 35. Whatever. Anyhow, it’s been a long while since I ran past the 10K mark not until yesterday. Thanks but no thanks to our screaming bathroom scale. What I find funny is I bought my AfterShokz for the very reason I wanted something to pump me up in my attempt to do another 21K and farther. It hasn’t happened since then until plus seven pounds later. Procrastination sucks, right?

I still do regular 5Ks, however, and I think I’m improving the form and pace is getting steady and at times a bit better. Like last weekend I did another at my favorite uphill route which was when I achieved another fastest mile. It was going downhill when I hit the new record but a win is a win.

Marcus having his first sushi.

Then there’s also Marcus being a factor. He’s just getting heavier. Still relatively slim but trust me he’s got mass–his skinny body is deceiving. Thus my plan to shift from endurance training to more on strength is becoming more compelling. I need more muscles to help Marcus’ lack of muscles.

This is why I’m getting anxious whenever I step on the bathroom scale. Half of me wants to maintain a leaner form while another half wants to bulk up and be more muscular. Like today I checked and I’m 141 lbs yet thankfully my shirts and pants still fit. Must be growing muscles then, not fats. I’d like to believe so.

***

So how does it feel to gain seven pounds? To remind myself that I shouldn’t go any heavier I’m looking at weight gains in different perspective.

Gaining about three pounds is like buying frozen whole chicken and carrying it the whole day. Not much though an extra weight nevertheless.

Ten pounds on the other hand would feel like a having a grocery bag filled with five kilos of brown rice bag. This will slow one down significantly. I’d start to get worried here.

Then twenty pounds would be tougher. This is equivalent of going daily to the airport with a hand carry bag stuffed to its limit. This is the number to be avoided really.

***

Months overdue, we finally returned to the doctor to have Marcus checked with only his 2D echo test results available after giving up on him being able to successfully do the spirometry test back in January. The findings were relatively better. Marcus still has good grip, which I did not doubt as he can still hold the Xbox controllers the whole day. While he can’t stand, same amount of leg control is still present although leg extension have lessened from 60 degrees to 70. The doctor said Marcus’ arms strength is what weakened but said exercise, no weights and no resistance, may still benefit.

***

Mood: 3/10 Honks! (Having foot spa while waiting for Marcus to finish his therapy.)

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.)

Not a Fan of this Fan

Not cool

Right out of work, enduring a shift dragged further by a very slow MS Excel, I tried fixing our fan that stopped working all of a sudden on this warm Thursday morning. The Handy Manny in me, however, failed to get it back running but to be honest I seem more than happy that it no longer works, finally.

You see this isn’t the first time it happened. Just more than two years since we bought it brand new, this Panasonic electric fan that features inverter technology, as its manufacturer claims it to be, has been nothing but a headache. I have lost track of the number of times I’ve lubricated it, took it apart, the entire time it’s been with us. We’ve bought other fan brands but these cheaper ones outlast the Panasonic big time. We’ve even had a stand fan that despite broken into half, its motor keeps running on demand. I heard its recipient continues to enjoy cool air.

I promised to avoid negative vibes in this blog site but I’ll break it for once. I think a little bit of service to other unsuspecting consumers would justify this hate post. So let it be known that my days dealing with this Panasonic inverter technology fan is over. I’m really not a fan of this fan. As the civilians in the Lego Marvel Xbox game would say, “Not cool.”

***

I told Marcus that I would run over the Panasonic fan to spread it into pieces. Yes, that much hate. But I change my mind, as I realize my car tires are almost slick. Another sad story.

***

Mood: 3/10 Honks! (Getting sleepy by watching Marcus’ character bouncing back and forth on the purple Fortnite Loot Lake.)