November So Far

The 11th month which happens to be our birth month seems to be totally ours. Although it has not yet reached even its middle part, everything that has occurred after 11 days is like life itself compressed in two weeks. There was confusion, anxiety, boring times, and of course, funny and exciting moments as well.

As previously posted, November 1 was better than compared to last year’s. The days that followed have been spent waiting for results, results that would dictate how 2009 would be for us. And yes that’s right, this month I’m thinking that this may be the conclusion of our 2008 already.

I’m very excited to share the details but unfortunately there are reasons (one is time) as well that hold me back from doing so. Instead, I’ll just be brief about what has happened so far: Yesterday, I’m resetting my countdown to bumhood; And tomorrow, we’ll have one that will complete our family. Needless to say, both of these are blessings that I can never thank enough.

For now, I’m just feeling lucky even if the news coming from our TV is just as bleak as the weather outside.

***

Mood: 2/10 Honks!

 

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Changes and Transitions

The problem with having a rather routine task every week is that time flies so fast that by the end of each week I’d wonder what kept me busy, why I was busy at all, and my frequently asked question during every weekend, “What have I accomplished so far?” Sad to say, my frequent answer is, “I actually don’t know”, and sometimes worse, “None.”

Having these questions and answers may therefore just lead to a conclusion that during most part of the week I had another dose of the SSDD syndrome or simply put, boring days.

Luckily, as I reflect on what has happened so far this week, my days haven’t been SSDD at all. In fact, some of the days have been interesting enough that I regret at the thought of not having the 25th hour for me to write about it.

Last Thursday, I attended what seems to be among the best Front Line Managers sessions—despite being the last one. Initially, I responded to this invitation as tentative because for some reason I got the feeling that this session could be like any commencement exercises that are as predictable as clockwork. With this thought in mind, I dragged myself just thinking to make the most out of it and at least end it with a perfect attendance. Little did I know that a couple of minutes after the session started I’d be as attentive as if I was at home watching the Mythbusters on TV.

Team FLM
Ooops, wrong forum. I thought I was attending a trick or treat event.

The invited speaker was a former employee of our company. Beth Arriola was once our HR Manager. Although her name was one of the most familiar during her tenure, it was my first time to listen to her talk. She discussed the difference between change and transition—topic I’ve written several times, without knowing that although being seen as synonymous, both are in fact far different from each other.

To explain the difference between the two, Beth referred to William Bridge’s definition of changes versus transition. Looking at the meanings of these words—with the global recession going on I’m sure that these two are as popular as Obama and McCain—one will see that each has its own essence, and by understanding both will help guide a person to which one he is currently dealing with. The explanation she had on Powerpoint was the simplest yet the clearest I’ve read so far (or I haven’t read that much lately).

Beth
Beth explaining the role of a manager.

Beth made strong points. She advised everyone to have the mindset that there’s life after work—whether one is leaving it after 4 PM or leaving it for good. She also reminded us to keep our external networks connected. And more importantly, encouraged all of us to never let our self-respect and pride (Filipino) down even during this time of uncertainty. Kayang-kaya nga ba kung sama-sama?

 

On my way home that afternoon, I did realized that I’m quite lucky that I changed my mind and attended this final session. Had I skipped this one, another opportunity to learn (both about the subject matter and the speaker) would have been lost. And did I mention already that I got a free book, The Toyota Way, for having attended all the FLM sessions? I can’t wait to claim and read it – I’ll have 365 days to read it next year.

***

Also related to this topic of change are the news that made it to the headlines this week. I’m sure that everyone by now knew that Barack Obama had a historic win over John McCain as the first black American president.

But I’m also sure that not everyone knew about the recent Formula One’s (F1) event, which despite being the last race for this season was nevertheless among the exciting. This race in Brazil had me and wifey sacrifice precious sleep by waking before 1 AM for the live feed on TV and just in time to see the race start after a brief downpour that added the element of excitement – as if the close match between Ferrari and McClaren isn’t enough.

Eventually, Lewis Hamilton grabbed the 2008 driver’s championship title by one point (thanks to Timo Glock or Toyota) over Felipe Massa. And this one is another historic race in F1 as Hamilton being the first black driver to attain the most coveted title in auto racing.

I now wonder, if Michael Jackson’s changing color? My bad, can’t help it. She said anyway that “It don’t [sic] matter if you’re black or white…” Ti abi.

***

Erratum: My editor-in-chief (that’s my wife) said I can’t have a mood rating of 10/10 Honks and be happy – although I argued that the more I honk at other drivers the more I’m pleased. Anyway, to avoid further discussion, I’m now changing it – 1/10 is the highest. 10/10 is the grouchiest. *LOL*

Mood: 3/10 Honks!

Ghost Sightings

San Vicente, Batangas. We’ve been here since yesterday to spend our Halloween weekend together with wifey’s family. So while the rest lazily settles in front of the TV and watch the movie Robots on DVD, I’m thinking of testing their newly installed internet connection and try to post a blog for the very first time from here.

***

One of my blog rules dictates that I should not write anything that hundreds or even thousands other bloggers (and even professional writers) will for sure write due to its current popularity or just for the sake of doing so.

But there is always an exemption and one of which that cannot be avoided is Halloween. It’s that time of the year when the grinning plastic pumpkins, skeletons, and scary costumes come out. It’s also my cue to panic and think about what gift I should be giving to wifey–Halloween is also when she celebrates her birthday.

It’s a good thing that this year is a lot more different than last year. Back then, wifey and I had to go to Batangas separately because I was still busy at work; we also had no car yet after selling our old Kia Pride; traffic was worse then. I remember arriving by lunchtime after leaving work at around 8 AM with the last two hours spent travelling from Turbina to San Vicente.

This year is a lot better. (Though I miss covering the hundreds of microprocessor chips before a cold shutdown. You’ll know what I mean.)

***

While on our way to Batangas yesterday and while driving at a snail pace in the middle of the South Luzon Expressway (SLEX), I honked at another driver when he tried to get into my lane without signaling his intention to do so. My wife commented, “Aba, that’s the first honk for today!” I was laughing hard after realizing that she’s actually taking notes of it. Then she added, “I’ve actually started measuring your mood by the number of honks you make.” Ti abi.

That short exchange on my driving habit made me smile. I’m now thinking if it would be a good idea to indicate my mood using “honk” score – 1 being the lowest and 10 being the highest. Not bad. Thanks wifey for giving me the idea. Oh by the way, happy 32nd birthday.

***

Not to be outdone by others who have given their own scary ghost stories, video captures and even trick or treat experience, I might as well post my own. This one though isn’t fabricated in any way. This one is real and I captured it on October 31 when I was in the parking lot of SM Dasmarinas just minutes before sunset.

I was having our car seat cover replaced with fake (which others will call faux just to make it sound a not so cheap) leather and decided that it would be a good idea to take pictures of it to show how it will be done and to see the improvement right after. After I got my camera from the trunk and aimed it towards the workers I saw what appears to be a couple of ghostly figures inside the car after the pictures came out of the LCD screen. Scroll down to see the pictures…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gotcha! These are Ace Hardware employees in their Halloween costumes. Kudos to these guys. Waiting for the leather seat to be installed wasn’t boring at all.

***

Mood: 5/10 Honks!

Calvin and Hobbes is Subliminal

The news I read from the recent Sunday editions of The Philippine Star have been so full of negative items that I’d wonder why I’m still addicted to buying it regularly. Maybe it has something to do with my obsession to write more that I made it already a habit to read, read, and read no matter how unpleasant the news is. And Sundays for me is the perfect time to do just that.

When I feel frustrated or depressed, however, by what I’m reading I immediately scan the newspaper for the comics section. Works all the time as once I’ve set my eyes on it I would spend time reading every strip and shut my mind away from the senseless current events. Sometimes I would even think that the comics section has more depth in it than what they put in the headlines. Ti abi.

Among the comics I’d always read is Calvin and Hobbes. Calvin’s role-playing games or daydreams always fascinate me. I think that his imagination, frustrations, and alibis appear to be the toddler equivalent of mine. I also like how he interacts with Hobbes who in his own world appears alive but in fact is only a tiger plush toy. (Isn’t that schizophrenia, by the way?)

 

Calvin clip
Oct 26 Philstar C&H strip.

 

My fascination with this creation by Bill Waterson sticks in my head like some subliminal Rock ‘n Roll message that allegedly dictates an act to its listeners. Proof of this came apparent when I passed by a book fair stall in our company. I was passing time and aimlessly looking at the books when I noticed a familiar cover that’s almost out of my periphery—a Calvin and Hobbes book. It’s a bit old but I got interested in it anyway. And just after a couple of minutes browsing its pages, I bought the book (There’s Treasure Everywhere) on impulse and went away smiling as if I just made a killing from an auction.

And so tonight, it looks like CSI: NY may have to step aside. And maybe I’d try reading the book with Hobbes.

 

Calvin treasure
I wasn’t drawn towards the title, but I think it’s a bit symbolic.

 

***

Well, since I’m now talking about the Philippine Star’s recent irritating con- ten, this Sunday’s edition has actually a lot of interesting stuffs that I can’t help but re-read it on Monday and re-read it again today. Here are some of those worth sharing. Of course, let’s start with the good news.

***

A Story from Francis J. Kong’s article, Feeling of Fear:

During Napoleon’s invasion of Russia he was accidentally separated from his men. A group of Russina Cossacks spotted him and began chasing him. Napoleon ran for his life and slipped into a little furrier’s shop on as side alley. Gasping for breath, he saw the furrier and asked the man where he can hide. The furrier pointed him to a pile of furs in one corner. Napoleon immediately crawled into it and the man covered him with more furs.

No sooner had he finished when the Russian Cossacks burst in the door, shouting “Where is he? We saw him come in.” They tore his shop apart, poked the pile with their swords but didn’t find him. Soon, they gave up and left.

Later Napoleon crept out from under the furs, unharmed, just as Napoleon’s personal guards came in the door. The furrier turned to Napoleon and said timidly, “Excuse me for asking this question of such a great man, but what was it like to be under those furs, knowing that the next moment surely be your last?”

Napoleon drew himself up to his full height appearing insulted and angry. “Guards, take this imprudent man out, blindfold him and execute him. I, myself, will personally give the command to fire!”, he ordered.

The guards grabbed the poor furrier, dragged him outside, stood him up against a wall and blindfolded him. The furrier could see nothing, but he could hear the movements of the guards as they slowly shuffled into a line and prepared their rifles, and he could hear the soft ruffling sound of his clothing in the cold wind. He could feel the wind tugging gently at his clothes and chilling his cheeks, and the uncontrollable trembling in his legs. Then he heard Napoleon clear his throat and call out slowly, “Ready…aim…” In that moment, he entertained a feeling that he couldn’t describe welled up in him as tears poured down his cheeks.

After a long period of silence, the furrier heard footsteps approaching him and the blindfold was stripped from his eyes. Still partially blinded by the sudden sunlight, he saw Napoleon’s eyes looking deeply and intently into his own. Then Napoleon said softly, “Now you know.”

***

And here are some interesting tidbits:

*A bust of our national hero – Jose Rizal, in case you forgot – is a shrine somewhere in Juneau, Alaska. It was built in honor of the contributions of Filipinos in that community who in 1904 assisted in the installation of the first telegraph cable linking Juneau and Seattle. (From What I saw in Sarah Palin’s neighborhood by Julie Cabatit-Alegre)

*Richard Gomez is now writing an article (this must be the first as far as I’m concerned) about photography. (From What makes me click by Richard Gomez)

Frankly speaking, he’s got good shots but sadly, this article had a bit of grammatical error. And knowing Lucy Torres as one prolific writer, she must have blurted out some curse in embarrassment after reading that. I’m quite sure though that this is just an editorial fault.

 

Richard error
Yes, they do make grammatical mistakes.

 

*From Movie sets of evil, its author Scott R. Garceu, made a good article on instances (or coincidences) when actors and actresses of horror movies got into actual terrifying, if not deadly, incidents in their lives after shooting the film. Some that captured my attention are the cases of Bruce Lee, Jr. and Heath Ledger who both died even before their respective movies were finished. I guess it must have something to do with bad makeups? Hmmm.

Lastly, here is some of the bad news:

*It’s been a number of weeks already that I’ve been trying hard to appreciate the articles of Joey de Leon. I know that he’s an artist-songwriter, singer, painter, etc – like Jim Paredes. I’m therefore expecting to read something worthwhile from his Me, Starzan column. I hate to say this, but it seems like I’m starting to see another Juliana Palermo who wasn’t able to match her perfect curves with her writing style. I think it’s about time the editorial staff of Star convenes to purge more sense from Mr. Joey de Leon. His recent article ”Starzan Punta Ilog, Hugas Itlog!” isn’t just appropriate for Philstar’s niche.

*Whoever wrote “Baby can you drive my car?” which made it to Starweek’s front page – must have been cramming to get one good article that however good or catchy the title is, it fails to expound on the topic. And besides, I find the cover photo confusing versus the title — it shows two motorcycle riders and more motorcycles in the background. I’m starting to suspect that there’s trouble brewing among the Philippine Star’s editorial staff.

I, Sleeping Spider

Spider,Network

I attended a training last week about job search. Among our activities was writing how we got to know our company and how we applied eventually. Some of the choices were walk-in, wanted ads, and networking. I wrote networking on my index card and surprisingly I was among the majority who had the same answer.

When our instructor flipped the next page of the Powerpoint it displayed the statistics of job search methods. The figure showed that more than 60 percent of successful job search was due to referrals from friends, colleagues, classmates, schoolmates, neighbors and some relatives. The rest of the methods shared the remainder of the pie chart.

That session made me realize that no matter how busy we are, our network just had to be constantly visited or updated. From then on, I felt the need to open the communication lines whatever the medium may be. I need to act fast before I become a no-one among my network and become the weakest or at least visible among the links.

***

I am a spider that has been in hibernation. All of a sudden awakened from my comfortable spot in the middle of the web. The hunger and urge to check on what has happened around just kicked in. I need to see if the web needs repair, or if there are trapped insects for a meal.

Such fitting analogy. The spider and its web have elements that reflect a network. The webs are my connections and I’m pondering now if there was any damage done due to my inactivity. Have I been too busy that led me to forget to check in on friends? Have they eventually took me out of their “favorites” list? Hopefully, it isn’t too late.

The insects in the silky trap may be considered updates from friends, technological development in my field of study or even trends. It may even be job opportunities that my network has offered for me.

Isn’t it now a good time to spin the web.

***

Credit: Spiderweb photo by Jon Sullivan

Life is like a bullet

My recent obsession with photography got me back in multiply.com. Here I’ve learned some tips from enthusiasts who spent time, effort and money to satisfy their craving for at least one nice shot.

Re-visiting the site put a smile on my face when I saw the last photos I posted prior to the Basic Photography class. This set made me proud of my (dark) self. I call this one ‘Life is like a bullet.’ And here’s how the story goes.

Bullets have goals too. To serve their purpose they need to be fired–come to think of it, they’ll be the only ones who won’t raise an eyebrow in front of Donald Trump when he says, “You’re fired!”

gun1
The goal

The way into the goal must be identified.

gun2
The way.

Like people, some bullets are real…

gun3
The real deal.

.. And some bullets aren’t. They are the posers.

gun4
Poser.

Unfortunately, the posers in our midst do have the same ambition like us. Sometimes they get in the way to reach our goal.

gun5
Ambitious guy.

And sometimes, they even find the gate ahead of us just a step short of achieving the main objective.

gun6
The interview.

Sooner or later though, someone will find out.

gun7
Exposed.

When the real deal takes over, it will make it to the headlines.

gun8

Photo Loco

Just like any other hobbies I previously had that once I had my mind set on it I can’t help but fidget to satisfy the urge. I’ve seen myself before running around the house like in a CQB setting. I’ve seen myself aim the fishing rod on an imaginary fish pond while I’m on the sofa. I’ve played badminton with my wife despite the low ceiling and short space at home. And right now, me and my IXUS are best buds. Photography is it.

After yesterday’s photography class closing ceremony, I’ve been seeing lots of things in a very different perspective already. It’s like one of those days when my mind is so full of things that I’d be walking almost absentmindedly while simultaneously running several tasks at once.

It was also yesterday when my addiction to shoot people, objects, and sceneries to name a few cannot be ignored. At one point, I caught myself talking with some of my colleagues but with my mind wandering around and wondering what angle I can shoot them to show their best side – not to be misinterpreted as if most of them hasn’t got one. Hahaha. Come to think of it, it’s a challenge of some sort.

I also had the temptation to spend some extra time at the parking lot after work, with the intention to capture car trail lights. I could have been seen crawling on the parking ground with my IXUS mounted on the 3-inch tripod and pointed at the parking exit. Good thing sanity and self-preservation prevailed.

Reaching home didn’t help either. I entered the gate with my mind thinking about how the gate grills will appear in the morning. And upon nearing the door with my smiling wife, made me recall if portraits are meant to be captured with an evaluative or center-weighted metering mode – although I know that she’ll appear good whatever the setting is anyway. Ehem.

That didn’t stop right there. Dinner did not escape my photo adrenaline rush as well. Imagine a 5-year old kid appearing to help arrange the table with nothing but play in mind. I was like that. Last night, the red table mats’ lines appear begging to be shot. The same case of curiosity with the buttered bread’s color and texture details. Of course, not shooting the mouth-watering pasta also made me feel guilty of foregoing an opportunity. Fortunately, I was so stuffed by the end of the meal that shooting the food morsels was spared.

table mat

I don’t know when this photography interest revival will end. But for now I’m just full of ideas that if I’d be left alone even at the parking lot, I’d be very busy come rain or shine. So to my friends, colleagues, web network contacts, please bear with me if I’d be speaking about f-stops, lighting sources, perspectives or resolutions in the next days to come. And lastly, expect me to be as pesky as a fly as I’d be all over you in the name of photography.

***

yarn
Stuffed from a good dinner, I pressed on with shooting my wife’s cross-stitch yarns – much to her annoyance.
stove flame
I ditched the brewed coffee over the instant Nescafe this morning just to see how the flames under the kettle will appear.
onion
Never have I been so interested in cooking ingredients. This is an onion, right?
masked
Mi loco.