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.
For a couple of years already Marcus has maintained his own Youtube channel. Called 11 AM Guy, his channel houses videos he personally created which are mostly about his favorite games and lyrics videos of Taylor Swift songs. He’s a big fan.
Today, over lunch, he introduced to us his 100th video since he started the channel in 2018. With his recent rate of uploads, 100 videos was just bound to happen this year so what really surprised us was in this latest video, he talks. He recorded his voice for the very first time.
Like any other first times, the voice over could definitely be better, however, what’s remarkable here is that Marcus was able to control his stutter on the recording. In this past months Marcus has been stuttering more and more–one of the signs of DMD progression–so I was listening closely if it’s going to be evident. There were some wheezing but nothing very significant. Good job son! We are proud.
Coincidentally, today is the 7th day after I had Marcus’ Youtube channel logo tattooed on my left arm. As expected the scabs are starting to fall off and overall the tattoo is healing nicely. Only issue is that I had it placed to cover an area that itches and sheds skin a lot–I suspect it’s psoriasis, no thanks to Google self-examination. First couple of days my hopes are up that the head will hold but as the first week approaches the ink was obviously fading away. I can live with that but I need another tattoo design soon.
Our transfer to Batangas has made me do more things on my own. The first few weeks I got myself pretty busy. I became the real Handy Manny, I can be seen with tools that where never out of the toolbox for so long. I got drill, screwdrivers, hammer, and ladder as my usual companion—they don’t talk though unlike in the cartoon show. There were fixtures to caulk, frames to hang, curtain rods to install. All these I did even on weekdays just before or after I report to night shift. I was a regular at the hardware stores.
Then there’s our car to take care of. I realized that I actually have an answer to wifey’s question: “Do you miss Cavite?” I used to say “no” without any hesitation but now I seem to wish I am still close to Honda Cars Cavite. The car dealership wasn’t perfect but it was home for our Honda City for almost six years. There’s a Honda dealer here in Batangas but I decided against availing its services after talking to one of its service advisors. He doesn’t not show good customer service, he gave a pricey quote, and he spelled spark in spark plug with a ‘u’. Yes, I get easily turned off by price and wrong spelling.
Soon I found myself under the hood of the Honda City, this time I become Guido. After eight years, I am taking over the car’s preventive maintenance. I discovered that the task wasn’t easy. I had to familiarize myself with the car and had to read its manual more thoroughly for the first time after I almost loosen the wrong nut thinking it was the oil drain plug. The design of the City’s engine also made it harder to access its eight spark plugs as these are deeply seated unlike the ones in our Kia Pride (duh). I almost quit changing the four spark plugs located behind the engine block. That week I went to work showing everyone a dirty finger, fingers to be exact. I will wear gloves when changing oil next time.
But other maintenance jobs are better left to the experts and the better equipped. Yesterday, I watched a car parts store’s mechanic figure out how to change the car’s gear oil. He later conceded that they do not have the tool to drain the oil. It was about an hour and a half wasted. With my temper running low, I drove a few meters to a Caltex gas station where I found someone in greasy overall uniform who did the job in barely 30 minutes. I gave him a tip.
While our routine has normalized, there are still lots of things waiting to be done. For one there are still boxes in our other room with its contents waiting to be transferred to their proper cabinets and shelves which are yet to be made (hint: budget). Others need to be disposed. Then there’s also our parking space that we plan to have cemented. Who knows I could do less messy and faster oil change when I don’t have to worry about the jack stand sinking into the loose soil.
Marcus and I stayed very late last night. He played Roblux, I watched TV. I landed on a channel that shows Formula E and watched it for the very first time. I learned that Formula E is similar to Formula One except that the cars are electric but just as fast. Since there is no fossil fuel to pump, the driver transfers to a fully-charged car on scheduled pit stops. Marcus was right to remark that the Formula E cars sound like those in Star Wars. How soon would mankind be driving 100% gas-free cars? Tesla is around so the answer should be sooner than we expect it.
Mood: 3/10 Honks! (Regular Sunday: no more fiesta, no more outing.)
I need Tacrine. Only about a couple of weeks of continuous rain brought about by typhoons Jolina, Kiko, and Labuyo, the once paved roads began—expectedly—to break apart. Roads that I have witnessed being layered with asphalt for months wherein every time I get stuck in traffic as a wait my turn to get past the construction team and their heavy equipment have made me wonder if these DPWH projects are now for real. These past few days I got my answer, a rather sad answer.
And yes, now I think that I need Tacrine. Why? What is Tacrine?
Anyone who watches Formula One events would know how precise most drivers maneuver their way through race courses. Their ability to maximize apex speed while avoiding smashing—weather, track, tire, and Romain Grosjean—into barrier walls and utilize chicanes is just remarkable. Interestingly, however, other than days spent on track testing and impeccable driving skill, the anti-doping body thinks that Tacrine is also at work. But whether this suspicion is correct or not, I now find that this must be the solution to my problem—remembering the location of all potholes to and from my way to work like the back of my hand.
Now where can I get one? I badly need some to preserve my sanity and my car’s suspension system.
The recently concluded F1 race in Yas Marina, Abu Dhabi was one for the books. Supposedly the third man on the grid after qualifying session, the young German driver, Sebastian Vettel, got disqualified and relegated to starting the race from the pits after allegedly failing to finish his run without the required amount of fuel for post-qualifying sample test. Despite this embarrassing snafu, whether by him or his team’s judgment, he charged his way from the back of the pack to reclaiming the 3rd spot in the podium. Just ahead by one spot, Fernando Alonso of Ferrari was able to stay consistent as before by driving strategically with the goal of closing the points gap with the German who is also the top contender for the driver’s championship.
Meanwhile, the winner of the race goes to the man who talks slow but drives fast – Kimi Raikkonen. The Finnish who drives for Lotus made history by bringing back pride to the team that has last seen first place victory way back in the late ‘80s. And not surprisingly, the sight of this heartthrob, who by the way returned to F1 just this year after a stint in the world of Rally racing, on topmost spot of the podium has made women screaming his name, and one of which I heard just a sofa apart from where I was seated. Yes, wifey was among his happy fans.
Another fan who in spite of his young age and probably shallow understanding of what this F1 sport is all about also had a blast last Sunday. Our 4-year old son finally had the chance to get his hands busy in assembling his first F1 Ferrari Lego that we got from Shell. Marcus who has been engrossed since a couple of years ago to building blocks (especially Lego) has been kept occupied by his Duplo set but lately keeps on asking for the much smaller Lego bricks. And so thanks to the timely Shell promo (that will end on my birthday), at least he gets to have his starter kits.
Mood: 3/10 Honks! (Back to school for Marcus after a 5-day off. Just back to reality for me and wifey.)
This afternoon I was once again in the waves of ennui, surfing the internet trying to figure out what to do with the rest of my Sunday while feeling guilty of having to skip mass again and while also waiting for my wife to come home.
Emails checked. Multiply.com updates checked. Friendster.com scanned–not much friends here. Favorites list scanned back and forth. Lurked forums done. Emails rechecked again for the nth time in just a couple of hours. Thankfully I’m free from mouse to keyboard ratio recording or I could be sending red signals to the ergonomics guru of our company.
Not really knowing how to bail out of my PC’s chair which is getting butt-hot while I move the mouse aimlessly, I suddenly realized I was looking at Formula1.com’s interview with the recent winner of the Canadian grand prix, Robert Kubica. Having watched this race’s replay I must admit that it was one of the most exciting I’ve seen so far this year. It’s one for the books of fame and for the books of unfortunate events which by the way F1 races will always be I guess. Even Michael Schumacher has his own share of fame and shame.
In this race Lewis Hamilton rear-ended Kimi while on their way out of the pit lane that brings the conspiracy theorists like me raise an eyebrow out of suspicion. Hmm. Robert Kubica of course wasn’t one hypocrite not to accept the fact that he felt more hope when these two leading drivers crashed. It was not only his day to win but it was his day to lead the drivers’ championship with 42 points. His consistency during the past races eventually paid off and June 08, 2008 became the day for him to be in the middle of the two drivers in the podium for the first time. It was the day BMW claimed the most coveted win of every races. It’s the day their sponsors have been waiting for. Wait, something looks familiar in the picture. Ah, our company’s logo.
I’ve got used to seeing Mclarens, Ferraris, and Renault exchanging top positions for years that it took me until now to realize that right beside BMW’s logo is Intel’s. It may have something to do with the fact that Intel’s Philippine site is closing this year that I forgot to cheer my heart out when the whole BMW team was cheering and savoring the huge champagne during the awarding ceremony.
BMW and Intel’s win may have been late to be fully relished especially for us working for the latter but as they always say, “A win is a win.” Now I don’t know if I’d be celebrating next time if BMW takes the 1-2 position once again. Hopefully yes.
Go BMW. Go Intel. Greetings coming from a Ferrari fan.
When we had our pictures taken in front of the team’s mall display back on April 2007 in Suria KLCC I never thought the BMW guys behind have any chances of winning a 1-2. Now, I stand corrected.