What The F***

 

Be calm. No need to censor. But I’m trying not to say this dreaded F word, FATS. That’s because right now I’m facing a tough problem. Tougher than the impending unemployment and tougher than facing an unending oil price hike. It has something to do with my weight. And the horrifying number is seventy pounds. That’s how heavy I am right now. And that’s seven pounds more than my required weight.

In gym lingo, I’ve reached the hated plateau. No matter how much I do treadmills, weight training, and hopeless crunch and abs workout, my body just got bored with these routines. And like an employer running out of manpower, my body has posted a vacancy sign outside its doorstep. It’s accepting fats and calories like Vietnam is accepting all the multinational companies.

gym
Gym buds.

I know I can’t do anything about Vietnam but I’m sure I can do something about this weight. A battle must take place though to achieve once again my ideal weight as I don’t find it amusing anymore seeing our bathroom scale displaying a value higher than the last time I stepped on it. So instead of crying over spilled beer…I mean milk, I’d like to write about this new weight goal so I can get back to it soon and feel good about losing – weight, that is.

For me to be back on track, a re-assessment has to be done like anything that has gone awry or in this case what I’d call SNAFU – Situation Normal All Fat’s Up. Got to go back monitoring what I eat and when I eat. I have to say goodbye to Jollibee breakfast, goodbye to Burger King Whopper, goodbye to heavy dinner, goodbye to beer. The last could be the challenge.

As part of my reflection, I’m wondering what I have done recently that made me accumulate such weight. So let me focus at least on this past week’s activity.

Monday. As scheduled, I played badminton with a couple of colleagues. Although known as the fastest game and tagged by some as a good cardiovascular workout, I find this game as a false sense of exercise to complement a diet. Why? Normally, the heart-pounding and blood-pumping game for the whole day will bring us to a fast food restaurant to recover what we skipped during lunch. This last game, we found ourselves eating spaghetti and having a couple of beer in The Old Spaghetti House.

Fats – 1. Diet – 0.

Sunday. I was in Batangas with wifey to attend a birthday and a farewell party. The Red Ribbon chocolate cake and the predictable spaghetti were there and were looking mouth-watering as ever. I must have blacked out in front of the table but I found my stomach bulging and my lips colored brown and red.

Fats – 2. Diet – 0.

Saturday. Finally, I attended my first TUP-V summer outing after several postponed dates with my batchmates. So right after a hard day’s work (at least I believe so), I found myself worthy of  good food and good company. Without wasting time, I drove my way from Cavite to Sta. Rosa Laguna; and a hundred wrong turns and a couple of hours later (thanks to the perfect map), I eventually located Dictado Resort where most of the attendees also got lost which is probably why the program started late. Despite the exhausting drive, it was fulfilling to meet long lost friends, schoolmates and other new alumni. It was also nice seeing some of the faces behind the aliases in the Tup-Vian’s yahoogroups. It was a ”tagalog-free” night and it felt like being home in Bacolod with everyone around speaking Ilonggo. The feeling of nostalgia is of course never complete without Beer. Lots of it. Ti abi.

tupv
Beer buds.

Fats – 3. Diet 0.

Friday. Coming from work, I picked my wife at home and went back to SM to watch the most anticipated movie of this year – Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. I don’t know if the peanuts we brought inside was responsible for my calorie pile up that night OR the film being the MOST boring (sorry, I can’t help but emphasize) Harrison Ford and Steven Spielberg film I’ve ever seen. So boring, my metabolism almost stopped working.  If I haven’t seen any of their previous works, I could have included them in my never-to-watch-films list. Watching Indiana Jones is like watching a chopsuey of films such as X-files, Tomb Raider, Alien vs. Predator, Armageddon all rolled into one. And that’s not a compliment either.

Fats – 4. Diet – 0.

Thursday. Failing to bring home something to eat after my shift ended, I asked my wife for a dinner at the nearby David’s Tea House. Meal was picked to have the least calorie content that we can think of. I ended consuming the dumplings that my wife did not eat. By the way, did I mention I had beer that night? Well, I did.

Fats – 5. Diet – 0.

As much as I’d like to add more days in this list, it’s becoming more obvious that Diet is losing the battle. I can imagine a fictional referee raising the Fats’ hands after winning the unanimous decision for the 5-rounder battle. But the fight is not yet over, Diet is calling for a rematch and I’m making sure we will win next time.

 

Advertisements

Hear Me Talk About Money

Since people started using barter or money, spending for things both needed and wanted have continued like clockwork: day in, day out, goods are exchanged for a cost. Of course, with the infamous wealth distribution pyramid, the outflow differs from one social class order to another. Fairly, everyone has their own sets of financial worries—The Ayalas may worry what Cadillac color to get, the average Juan Dela Cruzes worry which one is a good bang for the buck—Vios or City, while the less privilege ones worry when the next jeepney fair price hike will happen. All are financial worries nevertheless.

I’m not transforming my blog into something like Francis Kong’s business article but I’d like to share some of my tips–or more like my note to self–with regards to spending wisely.

Obsolete items have to go. The unstoppable electricity bill made me decide to sell (another of my online selling adventure) our old air conditioner and replace it with a new one that has a timer so it can switch the electric fan at a specified time without me having to perform a half-sleepwalk just to reach and turn the air con off.

Be on the lookout for best 2nd hand (used) deals. My wife showed her haggling talent and got a 5-month old Canon IXUS 70 at 25 percent less than the original price. Not bad.

Drive as if you’re participating in Petron’s Extra Mile challenge. Been doing it lately and I’m seeing an improvement both to my sanity and fuel economy. It’s also one way to discourage your friends from riding with you – who wants to be in a new car without an air conditioning on? Hahaha. Just kidding.

Pay only for good movies, catch the bad ones on HBO. Last week we watched “What Happens in Vegas” and we quite had a good laugh at it. Cinema: P240, watching Aston Kutcher and Cameron Diaz: Priceless.

Read restaurant reviews before dining in. This is what we learned with Fish & Co. where I read in some forums that even those known rich people find it overpriced. Too bad I read about it late enough. Last week was a different story; we had our sweet revenge in Bollywood. I enjoyed our dinner—wifey didn’t—in this Indian cuisine restaurant and that made me dream of going to India to savor more of their foods. I’m wondering if there’s any other way we can commute there other than their trains – I have some “issues” with it. If there is, Bombay, count me in.

Pay and download only the music you like. When I heard about it from my wife, I immediately agree with the idea; rather than buying a full CD (single artist) and feeling shortchanged later on after learning that your favorite artist himself has actually only one favorite song in his own album. Ti abi. But then again, I’d like to emphasize that this is not a reason to patronize pirated music. Buying pirated materials is not spending wisely. It is stealing. Period.

Grab every chance to join a raffle or contest. My wife got her pair of limited edition Havaianas 7 Waves for free after being included in the first 70 entries for their contest. That will keep her from buying another Spartan enemy for now. I’m thinking if I can sell this pair in ebay. Shhh.

There’s a rule to having a successful diet: do not deny yourself of your cravings as doing so will just make you binge in the end. Instead, eat everything (edible) in moderation. Spending is no different. Cutting every expense out at once will have its repercussions. It is better to moderate it at first and depending on the availability of resources–in this case, money–try eliminating the unnecessary ones one at a time. Good luck.

 

Smash Lab: A Mythbusters’ Copycat

If there’s one cable TV channel I instinctively choose to partner with our couch, it would be The Discovery Channel. Over the years I’ve come to love the programs it has been showing. I can endure its re-runs played the nth time and still get awed and surprised every time I see it. I don’t call it short memory retention, I just consider it both an entertaining and a learning experience.

Discovery has been like a drive-thru movie (which we Filipinos here in Pinas see only in films) that my wife and I love whenever we’re home. It’s like a subliminal message has been planted over our brains that whatever mood we’re in, we just appreciate the fact that we’re in front of the boob tube absorbing whatever show it feeds us. Discovery has made us love the mood swings of the Teutuls of the Orange County Choppers; learned the art of survival with Bear Gryll’s Man vs. Wild; realized why the king crabs are such pricey meals after watching Deadliest Catch; understand how ordinary things take shape in How It’s Made; and of course, how can I forget the Mythbusters.

Considering me as a fan of conspiracy theories, urban legends and of any myths around, the Mythbusters has been like a How-To book to me. It is TV’s version of howstuffworks. You watch it when you want to know if one myth is plausible or busted. I once told my wife that I’d prefer it as my background while at home over FM radio stations. Mythbusters is music to my ears.

This week another seemingly promising show debuts–Smash Lab.  Despite coming from a graveyard shift together with the cool rainy weather outside, I was able to resist the call of our comfy bed. I glued myself in front of the TV to welcome the show Smash Lab. I was full of anticipation.

But like any myths in Mythbusters, I was soon like Adam calling it busted just as the myth is told. I was nowhere in the middle of Smash Lab premier when I saw myself in the mirror yawning not because of the lack of sleep but because of sudden realization that the show is a total bore. Other similarly predictable boring series began playing in my head.

So that’s how I got lost in Smash Lab. It now belongs to my list of most hated shows like Lost and Sex and the City. This one is a total waste of production money and talent. The premier episode is about stopping cars using aerated concrete added to existing barriers and lane dividers in which all of the experiments end in a pathetic and pretentious shout of success. The show falls short of convincing Mythbusters fans (like me) to pack up and let Adam, Jamie, Grant, Kari and Tory be a thing of the past. As for first impressions, which could last, this show is BUSTED.

smashlabusted
      

***

Why also avoid these shows:

  • Lost. Lost people who get to wear new set of clothes every episode? No thanks.
  • Prison Break. Want a clue what this show is all about? Duh!
  • Numbers. I hate this show just as I hate math. I would even kneel wherever I am if one day I would read in the papers that an FBI/NBI investigator plotting complex mathematical calculations to pin point a criminal. Until that time comes, this show for me is Zero.
  • Sex and the City – It’s nothing but promiscuity. But frankly, I get turned on just at the sight of Sarah Jessica Parker.

House For Sale?

marcussell
       

No I’m not selling our house, yet. Lately though, I’ve been scanning and mentally tagging—with or without approval from my wife—some items that I might sell online. Signs of the times? Maybe, maybe not. But don’t be alarmed as we’re not at that level of need, at least for now; I’m just following one of my golden rules that says “Practice makes perfect.” In this case, selling.

In the past I’ve sold items that I know got wifey’s disapproval, not to mention irritation. A few years back I sold my mountain bike for only PhP 2500, which I initially got for around PhP 17000, just after three years of having it. What followed next was my 1-year old Playstation 2 for only PhP 5000 over the original price of around Php 15000. The last one was our old car. I sold it for only PhP 50000 (in my defense, the Kia’s resale value is really low) just almost after 4 years with us. We got it for PhP 128000.

Frankly speaking, I felt a bit sad having to let go of those items. But then, selling and getting a payment every time for each transaction gave me some sense of accomplishment; of course, not until I later get to tell my wife about each sale. Every time I tell her “The buyers were so happy, I had a good deal”, her raised eyebrow tells me she couldn’t agree more—that’s agreeing with the buyers being happy but disagreeing with me having a good deal. I wonder when she’d get a court hold order for me to stop selling.

In my quest to perfect the trade, I started asking some friends around while embarrassingly telling the stories of my recent non-profitable activities-–their shaking heads and looks of disbelief and regret (for not buying it instead) confirm my wife’s opinion. I likewise checked the web for some tips and eventually re-activated my ebay account (like a cocked gun ready to be used). Luckily, I also reached the site www.claimspages.com that has an item depreciation guide which could help me about estimating an item’s selling price. The list made me realize that not all items have 10% depreciation over a 10 year period. I must have been busy pestering my seat mate during our 4th year high school accounting class. Ti abi.

My eagerness to start selling some petty items started again when we bought a multi-function printer. This item immediately made our existing scanner obsolete. Just the perfect reason—an item for disposal which is still too good for freecycle. And so just a couple of days after I posted the item in ebay, I got a deal with someone. He bid for half the price which is not bad for electronic gadgets. A few emails and SMS later, I received the payment (thru GCash) and I shipped the scanner in return. It was an exciting experience, my first ebay sale and my first time to receive payment thru GCash. Now, I’m really selling. Happy buyer + Happy seller = Happy wife.

How long will it take me to take our room TV out of its mounting? Now I wonder.

Drive Like a Miser

It seems that gas price hike will be here for quite a long while for reasons that the average person like me would never really know. There are so many factors that affect oil prices and some of which could be the Middle East’s peace and order situation; the US recession which until now Dubya hasn’t directly accepted to be happening; China’s sudden automotive demands as most Chinese got tired of riding bikes that sooner or later obesity will be as common as dumplings in this part of the world; and locally, we can blame our government for deregulating the oil companies—but this is debatable.

So while we are busy thinking who’s supposed to be blamed other than ourselves, it may be just right for us to start looking at the mirror and check if we’ve done our part to alleviate the effect of this situation which is going way out of our control. Some self-awareness check will not only save our pockets and wallets but we also get to save our sanity and most importantly, our environment.

Today while lazily surfing the web, my mouse led me to Ecomodder.com which has an article about 104 hypermiling / ecodriving tips. Surprisingly, I’ve been doing most of their tips already. So here are my own top 10 tips that others may learn and use as well.

  1. Drive less. Avoid driving if you can. Just think about the heavy traffic you’d encounter on your way and this should already convince you stay put at home and do something more productive with lesser carbon footprint.
  2. Track your fuel consumption. Take a conscious effort to track your fuel mileage. Our Honda City’s digital Trip A and Trip B meter is a big help when it comes to this. By the way, please, track your consumption once you get home or has stopped somewhere. You don’t want to run over pedestrians or other cars while fiddling with your calculator.
  3. Leave early and don’t rush. It’s funny but I’ve been thinking of doing this. Having a car makes most of us think that we can hit the snooze alarm a couple of times in the morning with the assurance that we can beat time to work by driving like a crazy Takuma Sato. I later realized that beating the clock—and the red light—is a No-Win situation: you get irritated because you expect everyone to rush just like you do, and you get to pump unnecessary gas in the process.

    miser
    Not Takuma.
  4. Note your transition points. Ecomodder says ”If you regularly travel the same roads, make a conscious effort to note (memorize) the points along the way where transitions occur that maximize efficiency.” Planning would allow you to identify where to safely coast (if I remember it right, I read that it is illegal to coast in some states in the US), anticipate turns and brake points. Lesser braking, more savings.
  5. Avoid drive-thrus. This is to avoid idling. Save on gas. Save on fast foods.
  6. Windows up. This is a no-brainer in the Philippines as spitting in our country is not a crime. Do I need to explain further? Hahaha. Just my compelling reason for driving windows up. Seriously, it has something to do with aerodynamics (or wind drag) which has an effect on the gas mileage. And of course back to that spitting issue.
  7. Heavy traffic: play the accordion. Ecomodder says ”If faced with worst-case “stop & crawl” traffic conditions, leave as much space ahead of you as possible and continually “accordion” that space to keep your vehicle moving near a constant speed while the cars in front of you stop & start. Yes, some people will cut into the space you create ahead of you. Deal with it. Note that this may aggravate following drivers who can’t absorb the big picture, and that must be taken into account.” Well, I’ll try to deal with it. No promises though.
  8. Minimize use of air conditioning. Ecomodder says ”Air conditioning requires a lot of power. Use it sparingly.” Once again, AC on or off, don’t forget to keep those windows up. Believe me, you’ll thank me for this tip once you get to drive here in the Philippines.
  9. Be smooth. I think I qualify as one. Just don’t ask the jeepney drivers I’ve honked at which brings me to my top 10.

miser1

10. Don’t keep up with the Joneses. Ecomodder says ”It [sic] easy to be competitive when Resist knee-jerk retaliation to other drivers’ aggressive actions. Don’t let other drivers lead you astray from your driving style.” Now this is more like a test of my character rather than a test to save gas. The pinoy Joneses are the hari ng kalsada (king of the roads) – your friendly jeepney/tricycle drivers. I guess I’ll be able to keep up with this tip if I leave home early to work.

There you go. Let’s save gas the rational way and please stop sending me emails to boycott the giant oil companies–it’s foolish, it’s temporary and it just won’t work.

reference: Ecomodder.com

Of Pricey Seafood and Iron Man

The recent gas price hike didn’t keep us inside our house on a weekend. It’s not that we’re rich or never really cared if a liter will cost us around Php 50.00 (>USD 1.00) but it’s just that we craved for Indian food since last week. And Sunday was a much awaited day and when it finally arrived, we were so raring to go. I was looking forward to this day that I had my red collared shirt pressed.

Originally we were headed for Bollywood restaurant in Greenbelt 3 Makati. After attending mass, however, in the Shrine of Jesus church, we decided that maybe the giant Mall of Asia (MOA) would have some Indian food to offer. Less than 10 minutes of driving, most of it spent at the exit and pedestrian crossings, from one parking lot to another we reached the mall.

Like past visits in MOA, I had mixed feelings of excitement and confusion as soon as we stepped inside. This mall is so huge that it has a dizzying effect especially if you don’t exactly have a plan in mind to where you’re headed. Or maybe I’m just not the window shopping expert who relaxes at the sight and thought of the numerous stores ahead.

It was already lunch time so we immediately checked the stores locator. Bingo! We spotted an obvious Bollywood alternative. The name itself shouts I’m an Indian food restaurant: Prince of Jaipur. I likewise noted Fish & Co.‘s location. I got hungrier with anticipation.

Disappointingly, the Indian restaurant is deserted. It was as if a police caution tape has been placed around it while its surrounding restaurants had flocks of patrons, some are even eating al fresco. For whatever reasons, none were inside Jaipur’s. An empty Indian restaurant during lunch time is just not a good sign so we ditched the idea of eating there. Maybe our second choice would be good.

fishnco
Image grabbed from website.

Fish & Co. was enticing. Once we got inside the restaurant, the smell of the place tells me this one is a hit. The place is almost packed and everyone seems to be enjoying their meal. Happy customers mean good food, right? As we got seated the menu was promptly provided. The price list got my attention though. But since my mind was conditioned to have anything Indian, the Seafood curry on the menu convinced me to give it a chance. My wife picked the Prawn Fettuccini.

Our orders were served in no time. The presentation was just like in the menu book. So far my two senses agree that I got the right stuff. But just as my olfactory and vision are feasting on what’s on the table, my taste buds tell me that I’ve been robbed yet I continued eating. I even tried if my wife got better pasta than she ever had. Unfortunately, the umhs and the ahhs never came. Both orders didn’t deserve a round of applause. And by the way, the clam chowder is a shame compared to Don Henrico’s. ‘Curry $14, Pasta $10, having Sunday lunch at Fish & Co. priceless’ is just commercial tagline that won’t fit. The food is overpriced, period.

Next time, we’re eyeing MOA’s Sakae Sushi. Does buffet ring a bell?

***

ironman

Good thing we got our ticket for the 1:20 PM showing of the Iron Man at Centerstage—one reason to scram out of Fish & Co.

As I’m never an avid reader of marvel comics, I’m just going to give my pros and cons of this movie just the way I saw it.

Pros:

  • I dozed off at the first part of the Errr, this must be in Cons.
  • Setting aside Mythbusters, I find the effects such as the transformation and Iron Man’s flight great (I’m a sucker for anything that flies—except flies). We never know if such technology would someday come to reality but to quote ‘it’s all funded by the military’ should give us a hint.
  • The sound effects are overwhelming. Hearing the Jericho blast out of the missile pod makes me smile and that sonic boom Iron Man creates is pure pleasure.
  • Gadgets and cars galore!
  • The humor lines and puns are perfect.

Cons:

  • Story drags at first part plus the fact that someone invented something sophisticated inside a cave raises eyebrows.
  • Surgery and implants inside a crude environment? I wonder if anyone would survive for I could be wrong though, I’m no medical expert.
  • Let stupid villains be a thing of the past please. And because this movie continues to stereotype people, somewhere in the Middle East is likely an anti-Iron Man sentiment brewing.
  • Gwyneth Paltrow’s character is pathetic. Must be the talent fee that convinced her to still do it.

Overall, this movie is great if watched with a couple of friends over a bottle of beer just to kill time. And remember, always shutdown thoughts of the Mythbusters prior to watching the movie.

Spam, Anyone?

SPAM

Function: noun

Etymology: from a skit on the British television series Monty Python’s Flying Circus in which chanting of the word Spam overrides the other dialogue

Date: 1994

: unsolicited usually commercial e-mail sent to a large number of ad- dresses

(www.m-w.com)

Coming out of bed from a short sleep after a graveyard shift duty, an idea pop out of nowhere (or out of boredom): Hey, why not put to good use the spams I regularly receive? And with that trash thought, comes…trash, of course. G. I. G. O–Garbage In, Garbage Out.  So blog world, please welcome my spam blog.

This blog is mainly all about forwarded emails coming from my wife, family members, friends and of course, last but not the least, spammers. These emails range from tips on health, safety, car maintenance and home care. Some are urban legends that by the power of the internet get recycled and create another wave of terror and sleepless nights to its clueless recipient. Others are jokes – both green or clean – and others are religious chain mails that threatens a gullible receiver of death or misfortune if not forwarded in 10 seconds to 10 contacts. And this is just a few of the emails I’ve received so far. In short this is a blog of emails on everything and anything under the sun. More often than not, I would become a spammer myself as I would forward emails that I think are good to my contact groups. Ti abi. The cycle never ends.

Nevertheless, I still think that not all spams are created equal. What is trash to me, may actually work for others. And so instead of deleting these mails, I’d bury them all here for others to read and learn. I hope you enjoy My Spam Blog.