Finally! Fast Cars!

Finally! F1 Sepang Tickets at last!!!!!!! Pardon the exclamations, but it’s been our much-awaited event for this year. Since my wife and I fell in love with this fast-paced sport, we’ve been dreaming of watching it live. I was thinking last year that if ever we’d have to get out of this country for a vacation together, it would be the best place and time to do so. I just don’t know if she’s been thinking the same thing too or even ahead of me though I just know that she’s been dying to see either Michael Schumacher or Kimi Raikkonen in person, win or lose. So when I eventually blurted out, “we need a vacation abroad” there was no protest whatsoever. F1 Sepang is really it, Disneyland is just so out of the picture.

So today, after a couple of months since we purchased the tickets online (and doing some blunder during the transaction) and after all the anxiety of waiting for it to be delivered, it’s now in our possession and in pristine condition. Those guys (especially one named Muna) in malaysiangp.com did a very good job. Sepang, here we come!!!

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My 1st Badminton Tournament

“Clear your mind of can’t.” – Samuel Johnson

My wife and I started playing this racket sport almost four years ago. On day one we already got hooked. Just like any other person we knew, we started just for the fun of it and with the hope of shedding some pounds. As we went along, we met others who also had the same interest. Slowly we got more eager to learn the badminton game and rules and so the number of sessions got more frequent and intense than before. We became “baddicts” in no time. The thought of being matched and compete with someone eventually pushed me to test myself.

March 24. Summer. Hot and humid. My much-awaited day, my first badminton tournament. With great anticipation, energy and excitement, I woke up early, packed my stuffs and had a full breakfast of coffee and oatmeal.

By 8 a.m.  I was already at Racquettaz Badminton Club—a 15-minute drive from home. The place was already bustling with activity when I arrived. Organizers paced back and forth to make sure that everything is in order. Other players were busy checking their match schedules while the rest warmed up and did shadow lunges, smashes and footwork exercises. Almost everyone was so eager to get it on.

After a short opening remark, invocation and a pledge to sportsmanship, the Intel-Analog dual meet commenced. All of the venue’s seven courts were soon filled with players, umpires and supporters from both sides.

Since it was my first time to be in a match, I was classified as a level C player. I would play mix doubles with Joan whom I met and played with just a couple of days ago but I already got high hopes that we’d do well. And we did.

We had five scheduled matches. Once we got called for the first match, I was half-eager half-nervous as I approached court number four. The first few rallies were like getting-to-know my partner and our opponent. After a couple of scores, I was beaming with confidence. Our winning streak went on until the end of the fourth match.

I was already telling myself that we can likewise win match five. But this was different. The first half was full of errors from our side, specifically from me. I hit clears so strong that overshoots the farthest line; did low serves with the net as the frequent receiver; and pushed drives right in front of our opponents’ racket, to their delight, and to my partner’s dismay.

On the second half though, hope came up. Joan’s skills and confidence remained and we recovered some lost points until we reached a 20-20 score. We went on a race to score 3. Unfortunately, my beginner’s luck ran out. We had to face defeat in 1-3. We left court number six feeling bitter and disappointed knowing that we could have done better. But it’s how competition goes–one wins, the other loses, one partner sucks.

Despite the competitive atmosphere, the whole match levels from A to C went well, friendly and fun. The photo ops were even well participated by everyone from either company. In the end, Intel grabbed the overall championship and I know for a fact that we always do. And so, I went home exhausted but proud, knowing that this time I was among those who contributed to that win.

Blue Skies

Image from the web.

Yesterday I watched the film Always on DVD. I was assuming then that it would be something as romantic as “The Notebook” which we watched just a couple of weeks ago. To my surprise it wasn’t just that. The famous Steven Spielberg directed the film and as expected it was a good one (except for some goofy scenes at the start of the film which made me wonder if it’s a comedy or a musical).

What makes this movie appealing is the plot that rolls around the love story of two airplane pilots Pete (Richard Dreyfus) and Dorinda (Holly Hunter) who were stationed on an airstrip that supports the forest fire fighters. The setting was some time in 1940 and the fire fighting planes used was said to be restored WWII models.

 I was so fascinated by the flight scenes that a couple of hours after it I downloaded an MS Flight Simulator X game. It was as if my mind was craving for more of the sensation of being in flight, not to mention being the pilot which in this case, of a flight sim cockpit.

It’s funny that somehow it was from this love story that I got more interested in flying more than from the movie “Top Gun” (of course, this remains to be one of my favorites). It may be because that the planes in Always are old and it looks so easy to fly versus the sound-breaking F14‘s of Tom Cruise’s movie.

Well I’ve flown the ultralights in the demo and I’ve crashed a Jumbo jet already. Thanks to flight sims, I live to tell about it. I got the hang of it after a couple of hours of playtime (and some weird stares from my wife) and just using the mouse as a yoke – old flight simmers will scoff at me for doing that. I think it’s about time to save for some decent flight controllers. Paging my wife…please approach the cashier.

C++ for the Tipsy

I’ve read a couple of “for Dummies” book lately and it seems to work fine with me. The text and illustrations of this book series are so clear and good, than non-dummies will likely appreciate it as well — most probably as a reviewer, just like myself (big naughty smile).

Well, I was surfing through the web tonight while having my nightcap of cheap Tanduay 5 years rum (which my father didn’t finished during his visit here) and started to check on some C++ reviewers to kill time. As it has been more than a couple of hours since I had the alcohol, I have trouble understanding some of the syntax and commands when this light bulb of mine began to light up.

C++ for the Tipsy? Wouldn’t it be nice if some good authors come up with a “for the Tipsy” book series then sell or display it at liquor bar tables? The series can have some titles such as “Driving Home for the Tipsy”, “Road Ethics for the Tipsy”, “Assembling a PC for the Tipsy”, “Biking 101 for the Tipsy”, “Job Hunting for the Tipsy” and any other things one might think of while being tipsy. I had to recommend though that pages of these books should be waterproof as some don’t stop at just being tipsy. Go figure.

Driving with Wifey (My First Blog, Actually)

(I was browsing my multiply.com site and saw this one hidden. Then I remember, this is my first shot at doing a blog. Since I’ve also posted this in our company’s internal site, I deleted its name here. (hint: Only the paranoid survive). Some of the practices in this blog though may not be true anymore. Rest assured, I still respect the pedestrian lanes.)

I like walking around our company’s campus a lot. Why? Because it is here where most drivers abide by the speed limits placed on designated lanes. It is also where both drivers and passengers are strictly required to wear seat belts; and where motorists patiently wait for the pedestrians to safely cross the street before they proceed driving. In the Philippines, this is almost too ideal if not unreal.

Day in day out, this practice goes on inside this pedestrian-friendly campus. Lately though, I’ve observed that the gates seem to look like a pit lane’s entrance and exit. The former is where speeding employees would brake to follow minimum speed; the latter is where outgoing employees would rev their engines and hit the gas and dash to their destinations like F1 drivers. I even once wondered if these gates are warp zones that zap drivers into entirely different worlds.

Frankly, I was guilty of this act, too. I’ve been driving back and forth for almost one and a half year already. I admit I drove like hell outside the campus during the first year. It is a good thing that our company had this online Defensive Driving course which I took and passed. Still, I continue to drive aggressively but just more cautious than before—I would mentally count thousand one, thousand two, thousand three…to estimate my distance from the car in front of mine. At least.

Then time came for my wife to learn how to drive. I became her boot-camp coach whenever she drives us to and from work. However, despite my conscious effort to lecture her on the proper and safe way to drive, it was always a matter of time when we would end the driving sessions in frustration. This made me reflect and assess why.

Then it struck me. I have been a believer that good teachers make equally good students and it was through this series of driving that made me realize that I could be a (big) factor why wifey made me feel uneasy being strapped beside her as a passenger. It was a case of bad teacher, bad student. How can I expect her to follow what I am teaching if she does not see me doing most of it. Practice what you preach, right?

It is now almost two weeks already since I have been driving defensively. This time there is not much mad honking, lesser unnecessary overtaking, more consideration, and improved courtesy. For those who do not know yet, it feels good all the time.

And guess what? Just this weekend my wife was on the wheel from our home to our favorite hang-out, almost 20 kilometers away and she did perfectly well, almost perfect until it was time to park. But then again, nobody’s perfect. She’s currently grounded. Just kidding.

My Blog Machine 2.0

”Every new beginning comes from other beginning’s end…” Closing Time by Semisonic.

Finally, my old Blog Machine has to go. The five-year old Pentium III 800 MHz PC has to give up his throne in our bedroom and give way to what I will call my Blog Machine 2.0 powered with one of the latest Intel Core 2 Duo 2.13 GHz PC.

The old machine has been a part of our life since it was given to us for free. During its early days it has opened our eyes to the wonderful world of the Internet. It has helped us appreciate the then famous (or infamous) Napster. Despite enduring the dragging speed of dial-up connection, I endured nights of downloading of what I knew before as just free music (it’s now technically known as piracy). I still can recall one person begging me to keep my connection open just to download Midge Ure’s Dear God—which happens to be one of my favorite songs (hint: 80‘s fan).

Of course, the old Intel machine also introduced me to one of the wonders of Web 2.0—web blogging or just blog. As a frustrated writer, I finally found one medium to share my thoughts and practice my writing skills, if I may call it. It was through this old machine that I drafted and published my first blog.

As everything will come to an end, the old guy is laid to rest. Some of its parts were taken out (i.e., cannibalized) for the new guy. Some were given away, to maybe meet other old PCs that hopefully will start other people to learn the basics and be awed by the World Wide Web. If there’s a PC heaven, I know his soul will be there.

For the new guy, he still has got a lot to prove. It’s been with us for just two days but so far the promises of an Intel Dual Core processor haven’t failed and continue to amaze me with its power. I’ve already made it to download applications from the internet, rip music and capture videos from our Sony HandyCam—all of which were done simultaneously. The result was just great. No glitch. Yet. If only writing skills improve together with the upgrade of a PC.

Oh, before I forget. I’m now playing a new game in this PC. It’s the modern, action-packed and adrenaline-pumping graphics—-the unforgiving game of…Spider Solitaire. LOL. I’m growing old. Ti abi.

Internet for Oldies

This recent Christmas vacation, we introduced our parents to the modern world of computers. A week has passed and most days were spent on buying a new PC, setting up the connections and an almost never ending tutorial on how it will be used to connect to the internet.

I recall more than a couple of years ago when my wife and I gave my mother a cellphone for her to join the SMS fad. I can still picture her out laughing out loud upon discovering that she has just sent a text message to herself. Luckily, after some patient sessions with my wife (with the unnecessary texting even when they are a couple of feet apart) she learned the basics and was able to send us messages while we are at the airport on our way back by the end of our holiday vacation.

Now is her time to transition to the more complex World Wide Web.

Fortunately, with some organizational and training skills I acquired from work, I got to somehow manage and make the sessions less stressful by labeling almost every wire at the back panel, capturing actual hardware pictures and screenshots. All of which were then transferred to a Word document as a training material and printed and made available for her to refer to while doing the start-up from the very beginning–from plugging the AC cord, powering up the UPS, turning the CPU on, logging in to Windows XP and then connecting to the internet via dial up.

Once connected, more were asked. “What is an icon?” “What’s a double click?” “Why double click on some and single click on the others?” “What’s a domain?” “Why’s there an @ character?” “What’s a shortcut?” “Why’s the Window’s Start button got the Turn Off computer option?” “Why did the message turn to Read status?” And these, are just a few of the long list of questions that I never anticipated.

Despite the newbie encounters, I think my patience is paying off. Mother has already sent a couple of emails to my sister abroad and some family friends. She has already started surfing the web and has already filed and accessed her Favorites.

Even with such progress, today I checked some books in our local bookstore expecting to see some computer self-help book applicable for people like my mother. Well, I saw Basic C++, How to Upgrade your PC, Do-It-Yourself: Fixing a PC and other books with fundamentals written on it but which contain a lot of computer jargons that would only intimidate more rather than encourage my mother to continue using her new PC.

I came near a book from local authors  with the name “Internet Fundamentals” but that too lacks the basics on the PC’s operations. If I could have the chance to publish my own, I would have made some bucks out of it. It’s so frustrating, but so far I haven’t seen a book with a direct approach to Internet for Oldies. Hopefully, I’ll find one in Powerbooks once I get back to Manila.

I have few more days here in Bacolod. Tomorrow I’ll be teaching my father. Fingers crossed.