Bite-Size Happiness

It’s hard to measure happiness more so identify where it comes from or what really triggers it. Everyone’s stimuli just differ from the others. Happiness could also stem from unexpected sources.

Believe it or not, mine came after a bite from a burger. Well, two bites to be exact.

According to wifey the last time we had a burger was in 8 Cuts Megamall way back in November. That burger wasn’t really expensive so price was not the reason we’ve been burger sober for that long. What deters me though from buying and eating anything that would be detrimental to my daily calorie goal was my ongoing MyFitnessPal entry. That strict. I rarely had cheat days but one happened yesterday.

Spaghetti for Marcus. I usually end up eating the meatballs.

I took Marcus out to see the world outside his Minecraft and Xbox games. He said he wants to visit his kois in Nuvali so we did it after lunch. It was a quick stroll and was on our way home before 4 PM. We brought home a Burger King Whopper Jr. for his mommy.

As I secretly wished anticipated, wifey shared the small burger. What I didn’t expect that such small portion would make my day. If my expertise serves me right I barely had 50g but it was like I’ve eaten a whole Whopper burger with its flavor overwhelming my taste buds. It was almost euphoria.

This doesn’t mean I’d be driving thru that Burger King again soon. MyFitnessPal shows the junior burger is 340 calories with 510mg sodium and that is something I avoid. But maybe yes I would heed wifey’s advise to have my cheat days at least once a month. I heard lately she mentioned Japanese buffet…

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Mood:2/10 Honks! (Oatmeal for breakfast, please.)

I, Runner

“However you run, as long as you run, you are a runner.” Words of wisdom from an online article but whether the writer behind it was just meeting word count quota or an avid runner who knows what (s)he’s really talking about, I would like to believe that I deserve the title now. Even just for a day.

This morning I conquered what I’ve been preparing for. I’ve been running several 10Ks lately as tracked by my Garmin but haven’t joined any organized event to test myself how I would perform against others. So when I learned last December about Run 711 2018 I willingly let go of my precious 700 pesos to register.

A week of preparation, diet, cross-training, and mind conditioning paid off. The day prior to the race was most critical as I followed my plan based on tips I’ve read. I had carbo intake (thanks to wifey’s tuna pasta), performed light bodyweight exercises, and drank just enough coffee. I missed my weekend Fail Army viewing session with Marcus as I hit the sack earlier than usual.

A good luck letter from my fans.

I was in Alabang about an hour before the start of the race. Early morning was cold and I was a bit dizzy but the moment I heard go at 4:45 I ran along with the pack and surprisingly picked up the pace. My Vivoactive HR shows 1 hour 7 minutes when I crossed the finish line–a minute less than my fastest record on Garmin Connect. It made me feel like the race winner.

Run 711 2018 10K route.

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I am about to conclude that Run 711 is more organized than the Nat Geo Earth Day Run I attended seven years ago–yes, seven. Well, almost organized not until I realized that I was supposed to have a finisher shirt and a finisher medal. Pictures online and the race packet show that all finishers get one. All I got was a free paper fan, a Red Bull, and a Pocari Sweat. I bet the medal’s plastic anyway.

I didn’t have any picture except for this race tracker.

***

Official race time isn’t available as of this writing. Already had my Sunday nap but myruntime.com/connect still does not show my result. Nat Geo Run had its race result faster. By the way, I finished my Earth Day Run 5K after 41 minutes but I now cover 5K at an average of 32 minutes. Next goals: sub 30 5K and sub 1 10K.

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Mood: 2/10 Honks! (Heartbreaking news and overeating.)

Ten Years, 10K

WordPress says my blog turns 10 this month. Must be the domain marcuscanblog.com itself but actually I’m not so sure. Why? Two things do not add up. Firstly, my archive dates back 2006 while Marcus arrived November 2008. Either way I accept the nice achievement badge.

My WordPress laurel.

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Run711.com now shows the respective routes of next week’s race. Personally, race is a strong word though in a sense may be correct if by racing it means beating nobody’s record but my own. We’ll see. Here’s the road to my first official 10K.

Image from run711.com

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Mood: 5/10 Honks! (No run weather.)

Run the Talk

The time to run the talk is closing in. Last night I got my race kit and I’m excited seeing myself crossing the finish line. Last time I joined an official event was the NatGeo Earth Day run about four seven years ago and that was for a 5K distance. This year I’m in for my first 10K race.

Some bit of a challenge though as it looks like I have to cut more weight as singlet is a bit tight. The past days I was in the midst of free pizza and pasta served during a two-day planning session but I was able to resist the urge to eat. I took some bites just so I don’t appear as a snob.

Surprisingly I lost about two more pounds during this period. The absence of taking Swiss Miss and bananas must have helped plus me sneaking out to answer the call of my Garmin to move.

My singlet and bib.

Race is on February 4 and start time is at 4 AM. Fingers and blackened toenails crossed.

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Mood: 2/10 Honks! (Marcus’ first therapy this year. Last one was before Christmas.)

Daylight Runs

I seem to start liking the idea of running when and while the sun is up. For almost a year I have preferred doing my runs very early morning while it’s still dark and cold outside and when there are still few curious onlookers along the way. The lesser people, the better was among my motivations.

Things have changed lately however. I began to realize that I couldn’t take vitamin D supplements forever to compensate the lack of exposure to sunlight. My wife seems to have also accepted that we can’t wake Marcus up early to attend Sunday mass (and expect neither me nor him not to be grumpy in the church) thus leaving her doing it on our behalf. She goes to church, I stay in bed and look after Marcus until he wakes up. So there goes my dark weekend runs.

Besides dealing with more people, pros of running in daylight does outweigh its cons. Visibility for one is a big plus. I now have lesser chances of stepping into animal poop, tripping over invisible potholes and uneven road segments, getting side swiped by sleepy/drunk drivers, and being chased and bitten by rabid stray dogs just to name a few.

More running options have also become available. Like this morning my wish to try going uphill close to the foot of Mt. Makiling materialized. I soon discovered that it was tougher than I first thought. Few months ago I was with Marcus pushing him in his wheelchair but it was more of a leisurely walk. This time I was running, albeit stopping every now and then, and I had my nose flaring, my throat drying up halfway of my run.

How high did I get? Well, my Garmin says that in about 15 minutes I achieved the equivalent of 26 floors. On average, I do 10 floors a day spread over 8 hours.

First time I got this high.

Going downhill also posed another challenge. If I were on a bike would have been all fun but running was different. I stayed focused and controlled my strides so that I don’t become the old version of Jack ‘n Jill. It was tempting to go fast but it would have been a stupid idea. Nursing a fresh black toenail didn’t help either as the negative slope means that I need to land on the ball of my feet thus putting more pressure on my toes.

This new route was short yet not easy. But would I do it again? Definitely. As the the mantra goes “Know the whys so that you could endure the hows.” Next time again Makiling once the sun is up.

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Mood: 2/10 Honks! (Ready for work?!)

Black Toenails

Ugly. That’s for sure the answer if you ask most people how they find black toenails. I had the same impression myself, of course, until I populated my social media feed this year with more stuffs about running (and fitness).

I read from several articles that black toenails would normally occur, at some point, to those who run. Either due to bad sneakers, bad fall, bad form, fungus included (ok, this is gross) or due to longer runs. It just could happen.

Last December I registered for my first run in 2018 but no thanks to a bad bug that made its way past our door (despite our extra consciousness not to expose Marcus to the common flu) I had to lay off practice runs while I and Marcus spent our last week of the year blowing our noses. This month, my patience paid off and a week ago I saw myself in running form once more. I made 10K on my first run against strong cold winds especially originating from Mt. Makiling.

This weekend was warm and run started as a struggle. All of a sudden I would rather have either strong headwind or tailwind regardless of drag. But I picked up the pace and soon I was looking at my Garmin showing another 10K finished in an hour and some minutes. Not bad except for one thing. Toes hurt.

Removing my running shoes confirmed my suspicion. A black toenail–runner’s woe . I wasn’t alarmed though. In fact, its sight got me excited–I’m becoming weirder, am I? I might, however, need to minimize wearing flip flops in public in the next few days unless I want to wear it proud like a trophy as I’ve read other runners would do. Cheers to black toenails, yes?

***

A year ago was when I started running outdoors with a Garmin Vivoactive HR. I racked up 5K on my first day even if I was about 160 lbs fresh from vacation. I credit my endurance to the regular treadmill sessions which usually happened after we raid my sister’s pantry. I’m now 135, FYI.

Only gym I’ve used that needs a room heater.

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How do you become better at running? You run more. Writing? You write more.

Now let’s see if the time I set aside my regular Netflix session so I could write would see itself posted on WordPress.

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Mood: 2/10 Honks! (My turn to watch after Marcus in his room. Air-conditioning is extra perk.)

Practicality = Piracy?

Piracy

On my way to work yesterday, the discussion over the radio got me so immersed into it that I had to maintain the minimum focus required to drive safely. And how can I not, the condition was perfect: nice summer sun, tuned in to Magic 89.9 FM’s morning show with Mo, Mojo and Grace Lee, and they’re talking about my favorite topic—piracy.

I have a love-hate relationship with this radio show. But more often than not, I tune in to this station as I find this lively trio a great companion especially when driving alone and sleepy. Some people call or classify such show as talk radio because most the time there’s incessant blabbing about almost everything under the sun. And when I say everything, it really does mean almost everything. Thus, making the show as one of, if not the only, the most controversial morning shows.

The most dominant character among them is Mo who’s not only a fast talker but is likewise full of ideas that some of it are out of this world, downright offending and some are just not even fit to be discussed during a morning show wherein every mom, dad, uncle, aunt and other mature individuals may be listening and may be with kids at the same time. I’ve heard him discuss about premarital sex, religion, politics, lesbianism and other taboo stuffs, and of course, piracy.

So yesterday was no exemption. The moment I heard him mention the word piracy, I slowed down and listened – the group’s discussion and their exchanges with the callers were interesting albeit I find some of it just irritating. As usual.

Mo was once again defending and reiterating his stand that although he doesn’t directly promote piracy on his radio show, he sees a lot of advantage and benefit out of it other than the obvious difference in price between the licensed and the bootleg. One of the things he pointed out is about the movie industry. According to him, because of piracy which started several years ago, the original films have become available in the Philippines almost at the same time when it is released from its country of origin.

According to him, years ago it would take one film to reach the Philippines almost a couple of months after Hollywood, for example, releases it to cinemas in the US. And this is where piracy comes in handy. Most probably while the film is rolling somewhere in the US, some unscrupulous cinema insider or viewer is recording a copy of the film and immediately distributes it to their contacts inside or outside of the country. Now these contacts sell the film’s copy to people who are so eager to watch it. So when the time comes for the original film to be shown in theaters, the revenue flops. Of course, who wants to pay and watch a re-run?  Simple reasoning, yet rude and yet practical. And this, according to Mo, is when producers eventually learn and realize that they need to compete or lose their market share to illegal distributors. At this point of the argument, I caught myself nodding in conformity.

Another case that Mo presented or re-presented (as I heard about it a couple of times already) is about computer software piracy. He believes that it is the only way for poor nations, like ours, and its people to compete and put them at par with the rest of the world when it comes to computer literacy. Although, I agree with the need to compete, I don’t however agree with how it is achieved by piracy.

As much as I hated it, Mo’s point got me thinking. Quite frankly, I’ve been pondering lately if I’m cursed for knowing that piracy is stealing. Often times some people, like most of my friends, see it as plain practicality and the need to learn about one software is one good justification to get hold of its bootleg counterpart. I’m not saying that these people are bad. I might say though that they are misinformed or have chosen to keep a blind eye about it.

As I end my driving until I got out of Intel’s parking lot, my mind was occupied with so many questions just from the 20 minutes I spent listening to the radio.

So am I not being practical then?

Am I stupid to believe that I shouldn’t be buying any of these bootleg stuffs? Or am I now alone in this belief or advocacy?

Will my next employer reject me because I did not learn as much software as I can because I don’t have the guts to buy a pirated copy?

Am I going to be left behind then in the end? Do I have to steal to learn?

Is it a good thing that while I teach my boy about good manners and right conduct, he’s watching a pirated educational DVD?

Do I need to seek professional advice to get over with my firm stand against it?

Maybe I’ll think all about it. Although I’m still hoping that in the end my answers will still be a big NO unless they change the law against it. And hopefully whatever the reasons are why most people continue to patronize pirated products, I still hope (or is wish?) that soon enough the fight against piracy will win because I really believe that behind those cheap illegal goods that some of us enjoy others are suffering just because of it.

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Photo credit: vikrameb

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Mood: 3/10 Honks!

Bad Mini

As one way of saving electricity, I’ve been surfing the web for a couple of days already instead of watching the early morning programs and news on TV. This way I also get to use only one electric fan while being inside our bedroom to watch until when our baby wakes up. So lately I’ve been a fan of ZDnet.com updates. And today’s ZDnet’s email feed caught my full attention.

Just like any other employees in our company, I was among those who are considering buying a laptop after we return our company-issued laptops when work is finally (and totally) over in a few more months. It must be some sort of a denial thing or just the thought of not having anything to tinker with while passing time during the layoff period, but whatever the reason is having one inanimate yet reliable companion during this time will be somehow a relief – just in case talking to your spouse and playtime with your children seems routine (read: boring) already. Hehehe. And that inan- imate companion I’m referring to is the mini-laptop or netbook as others prefer to call it.

So among the “filler” activities I’ve done lately to keep me from dozing off in front of my laptop is to check out what might be a good replacement for it. Well isn’t it like talking to your wife upfront and saying that you have someone to replace her already? Just a weird thought. Anyway, after read- ing about the technical specs, the product features and comparing physical design of each available minis, I’ve set my eyes on the attractive HP Mini. Of course, I’ve sneaked during our mall times just to see the actual items in several stores and I’ve read personal reviews (thru blogs) about each al- ready. During all these, my choice of having the HP Mini 1000 got stronger and stronger. Not until this morning.

The ZDnet article: Who’s got the top 10-inch netbook? hit me like a frantic cry of a baby. I got alarmed especially since this review comes from a reliable person who is affiliated to ZDnet.com. Here are some of the excerpts:

…Laptop Magazine has just posted a roundup of the latest 10-inch net- books310. They tested six netbooks including the Acer Aspire One 10- inch311, Asus Eee PC 1000HE, HP Mini 1000, Lenovo IdeaPad S10, MSI Wind U120 and Samsung NC10. Prices range from around $350 for most models to around $450 for the Samsung NC10…

…All of them were able to handle “standard-resolution video, multitask, video-conference and even play World of Warcraft (at low frame rates) reasonably well.” The HP Mini 1000 lagged behind on few tests because it has slower, 4,200rpm hard drive (the rest have 5,400rpm drives), but it basically boils down to design and battery life…

…The HP Mini 1000 and IdeaPad S10 have three-cell batteries, landing them at the bottom of the pile with less than 3 hours of life. The rest have six-cell batteries that lasted anywhere from 4.5 hours (MSI Wind U120 and Acer Aspire One) to more than 7 hours (Asus Eee PC 1000HE)…

…The overall winners were the Asus Eee PC 1000HE and the Acer Aspire One–two brands that already dominate the netbook category. The big surprise? The popular HP Mini came in dead last. Sure, the keyboard is great, but the slow hard drive, fewer ports, and a 3-cell battery are big minuses. Both the HP Mini and the MSI Wind are in sore need of updates…

Ouch! The writer from ZDnet ended his review like a boxer’s knockout punch. He hit the HP Mini several times that its recovery seems like next to impossible. Now I’m dumbfounded as well. I feel like all my efforts in search of my future laptop have been in vain. I would have to have to find those PC stores handouts that my ever supporting wife collected while she follows right behind me as I sneak and secretly drool through the attractive computer shops. Ti abi.

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Mood: 3/10 Honks!

Starting to Hate Pioneer AV

I rarely rant in this blog because one rule I stick to when I write (and even in emails) is that I shouldn’t do it whenever I’m angry. I’ve read anger clouds the mind and so I try to avoid writing in such condition because this is when posts become badly composed, grammatical errors occur, the messages don’t make sense, and the readers or recipients get irritated as well. Today, I can’t help it.

This is actually an update to my recent post. I got my Pioneer EV51DVD component back and to my utter dismay it got worse. After whispering some expletives and trying be composed while in front of our wide-eyed boy—who was wondering what on earth I’m doing behind our entertainment rack, I sent an email to Pioneer Philippines technical service headquarters. And here’s what I wrote:

This is to report a problem I just had with your service center – 21st Century Electronics & Service Center – in Bacoor, Cavite. Last Monday, I brought my EV51DVD unit (w/o the speakers) to the said place due to a distorted/humming center speaker. By the afternoon, I came back as agreed so I can check what the status is. The personnel said then that the amplifier might have to be replaced and that they will try to check if the part is available. I was advised that I should call the next day to check again.

Yesterday, I called back and was informed that it is already ok and that I can claim it ASAP. I asked what they find wrong in it and explained that they discovered that it only needs a capacitor replacement which they have already done.

Today, I eagerly went back to get my unit expecting that it has been fixed. I brought along with me only the center speaker for testing since it was the only speaker in question. The technician of course connected it to the unit and showed me that it is playing music already – I was really thankful that time. I paid Php 900 ($19) for the labor and Php 100 ($2) for the capacitor and then left.

However, after I arrived home and excitedly reconnected the unit to the other speakers, I discovered that something wrong was done with it. When I tried the “Test Tone” feature of the unit, I was surprised that the center speaker doesn’t emit a sound when the system displays “C.” And I got more dismayed when it sounded together with the right surround speaker.

I tried to ignore it thinking that it may not be that significant. So I tried playing a DVD (original) to check if it plays just as good as before – when we bought it. That’s when I learned further that both the left and right speakers’ sound has degraded as well no matter what pre-equalizer setting I use. The vocals (dialogue) from the movie weren’t as good either — it sounded muffled. In short, the unit I got back was a total disappointment as it has gotten worse than before. My suspicion right now is that they could have tapped the output of the center speaker to the right surround speaker. I also suspect that what’s inside my unit right now aren’t its original amplifier ICs as well. Hopefully, I’m wrong.

I’m really frustrated and feel betrayed. Tomorrow or anytime this week, I’ll go back to that service center to have it fixed (they gave me two months warranty which I hope they will honor). But right now this email is sent to you for your corrective action. I’m asking you to do your investigation as well so that this won’t happen to any other customers like me who might go there in good faith just to get a service not expected from a good brand like Pioneer.

After looking at and reading the above email again, I somehow feel glad that at least it appears tactful enough. I don’t know though if I’ll feel embarrassed about it tomorrow and curse myself for letting out a rant online which I always despise.

How about you? Do you think I did my best to contain my rant? Let me know.

***

When I said “from a good brand like Pioneer” I actually lied. I think this is my last Pioneer. I had two succeeding bad experiences with it and probably I’ll consider other brands. I’m considering the following based on stories from friends and peers: Philips, Samsung and Sony. I guess I’ll just have to pick those with slim speaker or I can “invest” in good home theaters instead. Ti abi, don’t we just love this thing called consumerism.

***

Pioneer
My search leads to my own blog.

 

Funny.  I’m trying to look for an image of the EV51DVD but my yahoo search led me to my own blog. Hahaha.

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Mood:5/10 Honks!

 

 

Pioneer AV: Sound of Silence

Today, I decided to have our four-year old Pioneer EV51DVD fixed at a service center after its center speaker’s sound distorted all of a sudden several weeks ago. I was supposed to claim it by the afternoon but the news when I returned wasn’t that good–it may take two more months to wait for the amplifier IC to be delivered in case they can’t get an available part from their main Philippine office.

Since our little boy recently had this fondness of his Little Einstein CDs, a day without seeing his favorite puppets would mean only one thing: a tantrum-filled day. And so we decided to look for a cheap temporary DVD player only. Soon enough I found myself inside SM Dasma appliance center’s Pioneer booth looking at one DVD player unit. Then I remembered that the last one we had was also a Pioneer which its 3-CD player mechanism jammed and rendered the rest of it useless. Now, isn’t this the time to consider other brands?

I have to admit though that what keeps me from buying a Pioneer is because the sound quality is significantly different from the others like Sony. Likewise, I like the design of Pioneer which doesn’t exaggerate anything but instead keeps a balance between every part of the audio system. But this may not be the case nowadays – or so I hope.

No offense but I’ve been telling my wife that other A/V brands remind me of choices of Filipino OFWs especially those coming from the Middle East. That’s because I’ve seen from friends (and friends’ friends) when I was in grade school that their Dads (or other OFW relatives) would bring A/V components with extra large speakers that look as if they are setting up a baylehan (public dance area) inside their own house. If there’s one perfect thing to be estranged with your neighbors, this is it.

Now every time we window shop inside the appliance centers, the sight of the A/V systems with huge speakers still reminds me of my friends and their neighbors that might have hated them for the deafening music played all day, probably with the assumption that the their neighbors are into the same music genre or that everyone in the next household is awake just like them. Ti abi.

Tomorrow, I’ll be calling back to check if the amplifier IC is available. I’m hoping that there will be a replacement part or I might have to violate what I learned from a couple of financial planning seminars concerning one of the pitfalls of a consumer–using a credit card to buy a new player and incurring a bad debt in the process. And just in case this happens, I’m putting all the blame to Pioneer. Hahaha.

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Mood: 3/10 Honks!