Things seem to start going back to normal. Thanks to the ongoing vaccination program, COVID-19 cases have significantly gone down, at least what the government statistics say. (But hey, props to them. Give credit to whom credit is due.) So in the past weeks we’ve been seeing traffic volume building up—not that we’re happy about it. Businesses are opening again one after the other. And people flock to the malls once more. Us included.
Two weeks after Marcus finally got his second COVID-19 vaccine we packed ourselves in the car and headed to the destination we once frequent before the pandemic hit. With a wee bit of anxiety, we set foot on Festival Mall’s ground, almost two years after. All three of us in the mall just like the good old days.
The mall no longer requires contact tracing forms to be completed upon entry but restaurants maintain their own policy for precautions. Yellow Cab for one allows only fully vaccinated customers to dine in— the cashier did check our vaccination cards. Activities inside the mall are close to pre-pandemic days with difference of masked mall rats and the ubiquitous social distancing signages. We agree it’s an inconvenience but this is the new norm so let’s deal with it.
What makes yesterday more special? Taylor Swift’s birthday! Among the things we did in common at home during the quarantine period—and continues to this day—is karaoke with Marcus on weekends. Early days during start of social distancing and isolation Marcus grew fond of singing and big chunk of his repertoire are Taylor’s songs—then some BTS and couple of rock, to indulge wifey and me, respectively. He’s still working on the tunes but it’s been fun all the time. I even learned—or forced myself—to dance while he sings. Good way to burn midnight snack.
Except for Saturday, two days this long weekend we skipped the karaoke. Sunday was finale of the F1 2021 season where we saw ourselves screaming especially when Max Verstappen stopped the championship streak of Lewis Hamilton on the last lap of the Abu Dhabi race. It’s been a long while since F1 was this exciting. Actually both drivers deserve the title but this time we were rooting for Max who is now the first ever Dutch F1 driver champion.
Then last night, coming from the mall and powdered by Starbucks Americano I found myself glued watching Taylor Swift’s Fearless video on Blu Ray. Interestingly, we realized that Blu Ray is a technology that is no longer supported even by major appliances stores but thankfully Xbox still plays it.
Things happened fast at home when we heard that Fox Sports is leaving Asia. No more UFC, no more Monster Jam, and sadly, no more Formula One. We didn’t care if Disney goes along with it, we’re not into Mickey Mouse anymore. Losing Formula One was compelling reason for the change to come.
Barely a week after the news we found ourselves dealing with PLDT to get fiber connection. The installation (the PLDT agent making rounds in our area at that time was like heaven sent) was fast that at some point we both had PLDT and our local service provider, Galaxy Cable, all at the same time running at home. We just kept the latter until Fox Sports’ final live broadcast of the Formula One race in Sochi.
Race day on Sunday, September 24, 2021, was bittersweet. Vettel had a strong performance as he was able to recover from his engine swap penalty and finished 2nd next to Lewis Hamilton who on that day achieved his 100th Formula One win. We are no (longer) Hamilton’s big fans but we concede that he earned it. We realize that it would take years, probably not even in our lifetime, before someone beats Hamilton’s record. Love it or hate it. We witnessed our generation‘s own Fangio.
The sight of the Asian Fox Sports hosts and staff saying goodbye was heartbreaking too. And as one thing leads to another. there’s that separation anxiety that followed on Monday when I completed the de-installation of our local ISP’s router and cable TV boxes—five years with them wasn’t easy to let go but that’s life, we move on. Our dependency to PLDT fiber starts.
PLDT’s fiber speed was fast. Way too fast than Galaxy Cable’s analog plan. No contest. Well, only while the connection works.
After being so elated that our Speedtest results show past 300 Mbps for both download and upload, the router’s LOS red light appeared. What sucks was it was just less than half a day since the installation crew left. Resolution dragged for six full days and guess what caused it? Loose connection because, just as I suspect, some service crew who were also working that day must have touched our line. Imagine if we didn’t have Galaxy Cable’s subscription as back-up back then.
That wouldn’t be the last experience with a disconnected line though. Just this week it happened again and it helped that this time we learned from the recent experience so we had wifey’s phone installed with a Smart Telecom’s SIM which now makes us call PLDT‘a hotline for free anytime. We kept our fingers crossed because the last time we received an advisory that someone would pay us a visit in 24 hours actually extended up to six days. Thursday morning I accepted the possibility and had my mind set to work in the office in the succeeding days.
Having already unsubscribed from our local ISP, we had an unproductive Wednesday night. Marcus can’t play online, while wifey and I can’t connect to work either. Globe’s cellular data sucks as it only allowed me to check on my work-from-home team through Teams chat. Using our bandwidth-demanding tools was out of the question.
It was the night we re-discovered UHF TV. I realized we have a digital up our roof and all we need to do is connect our TVs to it and watch the channels available. Best we had that night was a basketball feed because GMA channels do not have any appeal—for the record, I will avoid watching any of it if I can avoid it. I can’t recall the last time I spent time watching a basketball game but that unholy hour WE were all glued to it. And to think it was women’s basketball in which China overwhelmed our country’s Gilas team. Loss of internet was interesting, isn’t it?
Thankfully, close to noontime the next day helped arrived and the guy fixed it fast, like less than 10 minutes. FYI, second person we permitted to set foot inside the house since the pandemic in 2020 and just like the first crew, Lysol was sprayed all over Theo trail. Blame COVID-19 for my strange behavior.
So what was the cause this time? I figured that PLDT disconnected our connection automatically when I tried to access the router’s super admin setting in an attempt to open the NAT type and enable all the LAN ports. Following an instructional YouTube video, I briefly accessed the router’s UPnP and LAN Bridging menus when the ping stopped responding. I’ve done this in the past on several routers but this is the first time it happened. Soon I learned from PLDT’s customer rep that these now require request and waiver to enable the features. Shame but if it’s what works then I concede and will follow the process unless I want another extra night off from work. Kidding.
My number one blog fan—nobody else but the only female in the house—asked me to post soon so I thought that my lull time at the vaccination center yesterday would be best spent posting one. But the transfers from one classroom to another at STA Santo Tomas was distracting plus the fact that I’m surrounded by people who would wonder who writes long text on phones nowadays. So I quit and saved draft.
And today, 24 hours after my first dose of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine I start to feel a nagging headache so running is not an option and finishing this post comes next while tuned to CNN Philippines which we realized is also available on UHF TV.