Busy Eater

Just woke up. I’m now catching up on my emails; catching up on forum updates; staring blankly at the Badminton Olympic match on TV. At last I’m at home and I’m staying put, at least for today. For the past few days, I’ve been on the go and I’ve been longing for one good day of rest and I think today is the day.

The lull in activity gave me time to think of what kept me recently occupied. I can’t believe that I’ve been so busy that I miss my afternoon siestas so much. So what was it really? Work? Maybe. My new motorcycle? Maybe, but not quite. Now I remember. Surprisingly (or not), I’ve spent so much time lately on mall-hopping and food. Yes, you read it right…F O O D.

Last Wednesday, on a trip down memory lane with my wife to her alma mater in Taguig (I was surprised that it made me reminisce my own memo- ries of the place) we decided to have lunch at Shakey’s Magallanes while having a break from the school clearance process. The last time we were in Magallanes was more than 10 years ago when our manufacturing plant was still in Makati. The whole place has significantly improved; other restaurants are now available and several other establishments have opened up for business. Shakey’s pizza (and shakes) of course still continue to perk up my palate. One thing I miss though is having the real Tabasco to come with my pizza. Anyway, my wife pointed out that even other restaurants have changed their hot sauce to cheaper brands in the name of cost cutting.

Thursday last week was Saisaki day at the Glorietta Mall. I’m once again with the company of my wife and her colleagues. Despite working with another team (which requires me to file a leave), what makes me comfortable joining hers is the fact the most of these guys are also Japanese food lovers just like I do. Well, Saisaki day just doesn’t mean pure Japanese foods as the option to do a crossover is always picked, thus lechon, turkey, and ginataang kuhol (escargot) never fail to be on the plate–at least on my plate. And normal side trips with them always include San Mig lights beer and a coffee stopover to cap the night. (Note: 1 beer bottle per hour is always followed when I drive).

From Friday to Saturday, I reported to work on a night shift. Normally being on this shift gives me chance and excuses to go on a diet as the cafeteria food especially at night, pardon the word, sucks. Saturday however wasn’t the case this time. My colleagues got totally bored of canteen food that they decided to have rice, lechon manok and liempo for our meal. Desserts were chocolate rolls and a super sweet pastry. If I were to count calories I might need a calculator to do so.

Coming from the graveyard shift, Sunday was a day off that was supposed to be a rather light day for us. Instead, after a 5-hour sleep and a trip to the dentist, wifey and I decided to go to MOA (Mall of Asia) with the intent of either watching a movie or buying my helmet. But once we reached the mall, it seems like my teeth having come from the dentist wanted a test of their biting power. My wife suggested UCC Vienna Café. I eagerly concurred and I promised, “I’d take only coffee and a light food.” But the sight of Risotto in the menu changed all that as I’ve been so intrigued with this food every time I watch it featured in cooking shows on TV. I thought that it’s just lugaw cooked by an Italian chef. After tasting UCC’s chicken, cheese and curry risotto, however, made me a fan of this food. Their Sumiyaki coffee and mango crepe were remarkable as well. Prices in this restaurant are worth it.

Monday was no different. And I blame it on the absence of good movies. After we arrived at ATC, we learned that Wall-E and X-Files are still not showing. We decided instead to eat at North Park where once again I or- dered their lechon rice toppings. This food is good all the time and this is one of the restaurants where food is a bang for the buck. Now if only ei- ther of the two movies is available, then I could have had coffee and donuts only for lunch. In Festival Mall the movie titles haven’t changed as well. Good thing I was able to stand firmly that I’ll have only coffee and muf- fin in Kenny Rogers – although the call to have baby back ribs is almost inescapable.

I have now lost track of the calorie pile up – or scared of knowing the exact score. I’m also thinking how many liters of gas we’ve actually consumed the whole time.  It was indeed a busy week where we’ve been spending money, burning gas and piling up calories. And now I’m quite sure that my 3-hour badminton and gym session yesterday wasn’t enough to undo the calorie damage. But there’s still hope. But then again there’s activity in Batangas next Sunday – it’s someone’s birthday. Will there be food? Your guess is as good as mine. I think it’s about time I get my wife a helmet and a pair of riding boots. At least we’ll save on gas.

***

 

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Rookie Rider’s Day Out

Almost a week after I bought my motorcycle and I’ve ridden it only once. It was one quick ride inside our village and I’ve craved to do more. Due to work and recent heavy downpour I had no choice but to lock and cover it in our yard until today.

This morning’s weather hasn’t improved still and it isn’t a motorcycle-friendly day but the call to take another ride took over my worries of getting wet. I felt a mix of anxiety and excitement once I got home after dropping my wife off the shuttle bus stop. Today’s D-Day and here’s my first ride log:

  1. Motorcycles are meant to be started and left idling for a few minutes before taking it for a ride – It’s not about wasting gas but it’s a requirement to warm up its engine unlike cars that one can start and step on the gas right after.
  2. I wore shirt, jeans, sneakers, and helmet which I got free from the motorcycle dealer. These are the minimum although one item in the newly debated LTO guidelines states that a leather jacket is a must.
  3. A P500 in the wallet is more than enough for a full I have a full capacity of only 3.7 liters or P200 worth of gas. That’s just sweet. I’m yet in the process though of figuring out how far one liter can go.
  4. Motorcycle signal lights do not automatically turn off after executing a turn so don’t forget to switch it off or drivers behind would be confused.
  5. A jacket is indeed needed for an early morning ride. I realized midway of my trip that my nipples are getting harder with the cold wind blowing all around me. Ti abi.
  6. You can’t scratch your nose or any part of your face while your helmet is on. I unconsciously tried doing it and saw some smiles by the sidewalk. Embarrassing.
  7. Fixing something somewhere in your crotch is a no-no. Do I need to elaborate
  8. Water puddles aren’t fun. I love to go fast on these while driving my car (making sure of course that no one’s around to be reached by the splash) as I imagine myself in a Peugeot and trying to beat Sebastian Loeb. Now I guess I’ll have to get used to imagining beating Jeremy McGrath instead.
  9. Coasting isn’t possible. My motorcycle’s shifting pattern does not allow me to shift to neutral after achieving a sustainable speed like on a downhill. But then, other than being illegal according to the rule of defensive driving, motorcycle’s fuel consumption is already thrifty compared to cars that coasting isn’t significant anymore.

I covered 32 kilometers for this morning’s ride and it felt good to be out on the road and coming home safe. Riding a motorcycle is not actually scary as most people (usually wives and those without motorcycles) would say. The rules that need to be followed are still similar to driving a car except for some other things that need to be observed such as staying more visible to other motorist, giving more focus due to the obvious reason that a rider is exposed to all elements and maintaining balance at all times.

With my introduction to the world of motorcycles, it opened me to a new perspective. I’m now beginning to feel empathy to those people who have no choice but to take a motorcycle to work despite heavy rain. I now respect their space on the road and I now understand the need for car (and any other four-wheel vehicles) drivers and motorcycle riders to co-exist in order to create a healthy and safe commuter environment. Of course, I still believe that education is the key to achieve order and hopefully, more people will soon get educated enough to drive safely.

***

Postscript

Having held back from telling my mother about the idea of buying an motorcycle, I finally called her after this morning’s ride and told her all about it. I was expecting some sort of worried remarks coming from the other end of the line, but I was all smiles when I heard her say, ”Ay gali? Ano ginbakal mo? Ang mga pambabayi na motor? (Really? What did you get? Those feminine motorcycles)

I was laughing when I asked her what she meant by “feminine” motorcycles and I laughed harder when her description fitted that of the underbones –the one I have. She must be expecting me having a motocross (also known today as motards) which I remember were the “in” thing when I was a kid. Anyway, I explained to her that underbones (and scooters) are now the trend as they are cheaper and have lower displacement thus, lower fuel consumption; AND that they’re not just for women. (she’ll be mobbed in the forums with those remarks. hahahaha)

I was still wondering about the unexpected jolly remarks from her after I ended our conversation, and then I remembered that she was the one who taught me how to ride a bike during my elementary days. I recalled her patiently holding on to me until I feel comfortable with the balance and she ran along while I pedal it all by myself. From my late high school to college years, she likewise never questioned my scuffed shoes, tattered jeans and tiny bruises when I was into BMX flatland. AND she even approved when I came home with a haircut which has the word “BMX” shaved behind my head. Come to think of it, she’s a cool mother.

We are Damned

donut choices
Damn centerpiece. (Photofunia done by wifey)

Whoever coined the phrase “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” is just damn right. In our elementary science class, we were told that we humans actually belong to the animal kingdom but what sets us apart from our crawling, flying, swimming and walking brethren is the ability to make choices, not instinctively, but intelligently. (Although the bible is one proof that our great great great ancestor Adam might have instinctively given in to Eve’s temptation to take the supposedly fruit of knowledge. The irony. Whatever the real reason is, I think we won’t know, but I have a hunch. Hint: they were fully naked.)

I find this capacity to think and to decide a double-edged sword. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. Each action we make right after a decision would be understood differently by different people. Reminds me as well of Newton’s third law of motion: For every action, there is an equal but opposite reaction. Remember? So does it mean that Newton may have been the man behind the damned phrase? Possible. Whoever it was, he has my respect because such is so short yet full of meaning. It summarizes one lifetime of decision making into just eight words.

So why the fascination with this damn phrase lately? Here are some reasons that it’s just damned if you do, damned if you don’t:

  • Bayani Fernando who has been in the news, forums and FM radio more often recently. Ever since I learned about this guy’s work, principle and vision, my admiration for him started. I’m one of those Filipinos who look up to a strong leadership that have become so scarce for years here in the Philippines. I read from one survey that he’s not winning approvals from most people because of the way he operates–i.e., quick and he doesn’t care who gets in the way. Although he’s got some kinks to work out within the MMDA, I believe that his personal policies are firm and he’s just the type of leader WE NEED. By the way, he has mentioned that he’s running for president in 2010.
  • Motorcycles. Due to new LTO guidelines, frequent accidents involving motorcycles, and wifey’s protests, this is hot topic. It’s now a fact that with the current gas prices up and will go up again, which is a prediction that doesn’t need a Nostradamus, everyone now thinks of an alternative to go around. Those who used to take the public transport (e.g., buses, jeepneys) and even with their own cars are now considering buying scooters or underbones. It’s a no-brainer. With the almost unstoppable gas price hike, an alternative transport is a must have. However, if a motorcycle is your choice, it requires a fully functioning brain to drive it defensively. Brain drives rider. Helmet protects brain. Take note.
  • And then this. Company business updates that gets majority of the employees jumpy and It’s just same story with a title that changes every time, as I always tell those I usually converse with about this topic—that’s 15 directly under me, and several other colleagues. At times I find this topic dragging which makes me think of recording my replies for the next similar discussion. Sooner than soon, this story will end but I can’t divulge just yet. I’d rather do it as a Grinch-who-stole-Christmas type story. You’ll read about it soon.

So are we damned? You’re guess is as good as mine.

***

 

Back On Two Wheels

 

What do these things have in common?

  1. Vietnam
  2. Discovery’s American Choppers
  3. Nat Geo’s Long Way Down
  4. Nat Geo’s Rides
  5. Wild Hogs (movie)
  6. Mo Twister’s most hated
  7. Motorista magazine

If you still haven’t got it right, the last one is supposed to be a give away. Yes, everything relates to motorcycles big or small; slow or fast; flashy or funny. And today I got my own, my first one. Now I’m back to riding, or better yet, learning, on two wheels. This time it’s motorized.

Following careful and lengthy considerations and several discussions with my own self, I am finally convinced to give in to the urge of riding a motorcycle. I’m quite sure though that my dear wifey still has some reservations on my recent toy disguised in the name of beating the gas prices.

But I can’t blame her for having such thoughts. We were both together when we witnessed an accident up close. If that’s not scary enough, the news of motorcycle riders clashing with other vehicles or pedestrians are so common nowadays that anyone could get confused if the news is current or a replay of other day’s. That’s the bad side of motorcycling these days. Its notoriety comes from becoming cheaper that even those who don’t have the capacity (read: brain) to ride defensively can now buy it as long there’s cash or down payment to start with.

honda wave
My ride. (Image from Hondaph.com)

But as any motorcycle advocate will tell you, accidents are bound to happen whether in a car, on a bus, on a train, on an airplane or just even while walking leisurely. It doesn’t matter what transportation if the one who’s in control doesn’t know what he is expected to do. And that’s when training and common sense–assuming it is common–come into play.

Luckily nowadays, motorcycle newbies like me have the internet to help us coach on how to go about learning how to ride. A couple of hours googling could lead one to a numerous motorcycle-related sites (e.g., MSF) and forums (e.g., MCP). It now depends on how one comprehends what he reads–individual learning curves differ.

So how am I doing so far?

After spending a couple of my time reading all about motorcycles since more than a month ago and right after I got my brand new unit this morning, I’ve given it a try only once by doing a couple of rounds inside our village. I did it noontime where sun is steaming hot but with fewer people outside. I was actually rather more embarrassed than nervous for riding it like a sissy unlike those I’ve seen that were so relaxed, confident and at some point, irritatingly showy. A few more practice and I’m sure I’ll get the hang of it.  I swear I’ll stay safe by then.

 

Stressed@Work  

 

 

August is just around the corner and I still can’t believe that I still have work to do. And of course, I’d like to keep it that way as long as possible. Contrary to what I’ve imagined how the 2nd half of this year will look like–after the gloomy, yet anticipated April 2 announcement–the environment at work still appears challenging enough, at least for me.

Although activity in my area seems to have significantly slowed down in the past few weeks, the pressure to meet commitments and deliverables remains unwavering as before. This means that feeling down and out for the count is out of the question. At some point, I may slack off a bit but I there is still the need to get back on track.

The latest stress that had me feeling a total mixture of emotions–from passing gas to almost collapsing and vice-versa–was the presentation of our 2nd quarter indicators to the next level managers and other key players.  Its preparation started about a month before and the extraction and crunching of data almost took much of my time. What made it even more stressful is seeing some of the indicators in a down trend even if the reasons behind it are perfectly justifiable.

Presentation day came and I could feel that the 12-hour day is turning into a 24-hour vigil. Most of the time I get excited, jumpy and the butterflies inside my stomach kept on flapping their fragile wings. On that day, anxiety was all over the place. In fact, even those senior to me had the same uneasiness.  If it is of any consolation, it appears that public speaking, regardless of the number of audience, remains to be a nightmare for most.

My turn to present came at last but despite knowing that the foils are self-supporting and show factual data, the fear of being questioned and not being able to answer was just overwhelming. If I remember it right, the last time I was into this predicament was when I asked for our wedding’s approval from my now father-in-law. I was focused yet awkward and the words were hard to come by.

Surprisingly, in the end, the horrible questions I was expecting from the start didn’t come.  There were some inquiries, comments and advice that registered into my then half-conscious state but that was it. More surprising was getting a compliment from my direct manager who rarely recognizes a job well done. At least, I must have done something right. Whew!

I went home that night feeling proud and accomplished. I was even singing along with the FM songs in the car like I’ve just been accepted in a job interview. And there’s no better way to cap the day than to treat my wife and I with a couple of slices of my favorite comfort food–a Red Ribbon black forest cake.

With that event done, I now feel more ready to face another work-related stress. Whatever that is, I will surely know in the next days to come.

stressatwork
Evidence of stress?

 

What Is Career Counseling?

 

Yesterday I attended another Leadership Enhancement Program and the recent training we had are tailor-made for us to cope up with the soon-to-be closure of our company. Yesterday’s topic was about career opportunities and career counseling.

I actually enjoyed the whole training and find it very interactive and informative until when it came to one of the foils wherein first line reads: Career counseling is NOT giving advice.

Hmm. That isn’t right. I know that deep in my vocabulary the word counsel is for sure synonymous to advice. So I raised my hand to clarify if I’m reading it right and our trainer without batting an eyelash emphasized, “Career counseling is not giving an advice.”

The training ended by noon time and my colleagues and I went on with our kill-time activities disguised as WLE (Work Life Effectiveness) activities. Some played basketball, while we did a good badminton until past 7 PM. But those positive stress activities didn’t shake off the counseling thing. In fact, while driving my wife to work this morning, I kept on thinking about it still.

Bothered, while preparing breakfast for myself, I juggled with the plates and our trusty Merriam-Webster dictionary and there it was printed in one of the pages: to counsel is to give advice. I was so excited that I eagerly finish my bread, egg, and meat loaf . I was in front of our PC after I gobbled the last piece of the processed meat.

In order to confirm if our Merriam-Webster hardcopy isn’t obsolete yet, I browsed through www.m-w.com . The following entries appeared:

Main Entry:  counsel

Function: verb

Inflected Form(s): counseled or counselled; counsel·ing or counsel·ling

\-s(

Date: 14th century

transitive verb : advise <counseled them to avoid rash actions — George Orwell> intransitive verb : consult <counseled with her husband>

Main Entry: counseling Variant(s): or counselling Function: noun

Date: 1927

: professional guidance of the individual by utilizing psychological methods especially in collecting case history data, using various techniques of the personal interview, and testing interests and aptitudes

Main Entry: ad·vise Pronunciation:  \ Function: verb

Inflected Form(s): ad·vised; ad·vis·ing

transitive verb 1 a: to give advice to : counsel <advise her to try a drier climate> b: caution, warn <advise them of the consequences> c: recommend <advise prudence>2: to give information or notice to

: inform <advise them of their rights>intransitive verb 1:  to give advice <advise on legal matters> 2: to take counsel : consult <advise with friends>

Counsel equals advice or to advise. Boom. With those results and the fact that this top semiconductor company have some managers whom to my shock pronounce words such as freight like fright, sub- like sob and my favorite pet peeve, z like zay, I am no longer surprised that one foil in the training material may be erroneous.

Like a fighter aiming to finish off a sprawling and bloodied adversary, I typed career counseling in the browser’s search field expecting something that will back up my vocabulary. In a matter of seconds, several results appeared and I eagerly clicked each one of it and prepared to celebrate my victory over the foil item in question.

career
 

To my dismay, not one of the sites shows a bit of “Career Counseling IS about giving advice” to support my argument. Instead it listed common words such as assessment, aptitude tests, planning, decision making, development, and research. It was almost about everything but advice. I wave the white flag.

As much as I hate defeat, I came to realize that career counseling may not be just two words that can be discussed over a one-on-one meeting which in our case would only last 15-30 minutes every three months. If one staff gets lucky (or not) enough at all he’ll be in one at least three times every quarter. Career counseling after all is indeed a task to be handled only by a professional career counselor and if you’re not one of them, most likely, you can only advise. So is that first slide correct? Be my guest.

 

Beating Uncle Joe

cube
State 2.

What is fast becoming as common as road potholes, skin heads, motorcycles, street children, unemployed person, and grandstanding Philippine politicians? You guessed right, the mind boggling Rubik’s Cube. Little did I know that this 6-colored-swiveling-cube will once again haunt me at this age, and with guilt, became one of my interests while on a week-long wedding anniversary celebration. Ti abi.

I have fond memories of this toy. When we were pesky little kids, our mother used to bring me and my sis to her work as it was just a few kilometers away from where we lived. While in the office I get to bug her boss, well, just like any kid. It’s a good thing that her boss happens to be a relative and somehow bugging him isn’t much of a big deal and besides, he would love to show off how good he is with the then novel Rubik’s Cube. He can do two colors.

My mother later on gave us our own cube and I got hooked to it although I can only do one color at a time. I never got close to two unlike my uncle. I’m so proud of him that I would always brag to my grade school classmates that my tito can do two colors. Those whom I’ve seen complete all six sides were only on TV–Eat Bulaga’s segment if I’m not mistaken.

Years passed and I have fully forgotten my fascination and frustration with this puzzle until the fad returned. At first I just shrugged off the urge to buy thinking that I’m done with that stage already and have surrendered it to be solved especially by the young geeks. It seems though that my attraction to it cannot be denied. More people seem to have mastered it and every time I see one, I secretly envied them. So enough is enough.

I eventually bought myself a new cube and grabbed the opportunity to fill in the gaps during my one week vacation to learn it. I printed tips from colleagues, searched the web for more instructions and like one student trying to make up for bad grades, I spent extra time studying how it really works. Within three days, I got it at last! The next days I can do it without looking at the guide and I was timing how long it takes for me to complete the whole puzzle. I may not be in the league of the speed cubers, but who cares? A 5-minute average is good for me.

Now I’m very thankful that I did not include acquiring this skill among the 100-things-to-do-before-I-die list or I could be counting down just 99 more. Whew. I never really knew that the day will come, when I’d lift my head high and say, ”Tito Joe,who?”