Back on track

Ashfall and the threat of novel coronavirus stopped me from running since I arrived from my one week trip to Kansas. I was also sick when I landed back–FYI, with a common cold–and it took time for me to recover as my nasal cavity was bleeding for another week more when I returned to work. Blame the cold weather of Overland Park.

First time to use this Road ID I purchased in US on November 2019. It has my contacts’ info so I no longer need to take my ID with me when I run.

It’s been relatively cold as well here in the Philippines so bed has been more attractive than the road. But today, I braved all. I finally stepped out of the house and ran. It was chilly and I was slow. While I really didn’t gain weight, contrary to my fear over the amount of Kansas barbecue and American meal servings I had during the boot camp, I paced myself slower so I don’t injure myself.

Did several runs at the slope.

I also picked running on elevated ground, doubled back several times to increase distance, instead of my usual path to avoid the morning crowd. You see this corona virus seems to continue to spread and in fact, I learned that a couple of running events have been cancelled because of health concerns.

There are now some news about people getting treated from corona virus infection. I can’t wait to see the day when all this will just end up like a bad dream. For now I’m just happy to get back on track, healthy and running.

Always happy to see me back.

***

Mood: 5/10 Honks! (We have only few masks at home, need to find new stock soon.)

Alexa, Skip 2020

We were up 30,000 mid-flight homeward bound when I realized there’s free onboard WiFi. I was still groggy after minutes from waking up. I was hungry, wishing I’d get another serving of PAL’s tasty beef stroganoff. But I was more eager to check what’s online. It’s been hours since I lost connection after entering the departure area back in LAX.

I wasn’t expecting much when I opened my Facebook and Messenger. To be honest, I was actually checking if more people liked my stunts at Tom Bradley Airport and indeed, notification showed there were more who were amused. I’m building a fan base. Indulge me.

Entertaining myself during the 11-hour layover at LAX.

“Bad news”, however, followed by “Taal erupted” greeted me when I checked on my wife. I thought at first it was a bad joke. There was never any hint in the past days that this could happen but my Facebook timeline soon revealed that this small volcano in the scenic Tagaytay just unleashed its pent up fury. The pictures were scary, horrifying, like right out of a disaster movie. It made me feel helpless. I was stuck on a 777, long way from home. I was thinking about Marcus.

Photo taken by wifey from our backyard showing a large plume of ash and smoke from Taal which is several kilometers away.

Our flight, consequently, was diverted. A friend said news back in the Philippines say we’ll be landing in Clark, Pampanga but an hour later the flight map on my seat TV displayed our destination is no longer Manila–we were heading Cebu.

Diverted to Cebu.

I can’t recall ever feeling so uncertain, so confused. When we landed in Mactan I was calm, I followed orders but can’t wait to get over it and just be home. It was my first time in Cebu but it would’ve been a pleasant experience if it was planned and obviously this one isn’t. That time I didn’t even have any idea how long we’d be at the airport.

Perspective from my own sleeping space on the floor.
Getting my ref magnet to show I was in Cebu.

Two free Jollibee chicken meals later and an hour or so later sleeping on the floor with other stranded passengers, we got the final good news. Manila has cleared its airport for inbound flights. We will be home.

It’s interesting how this decade started. A trip to Kansas was a nice way to welcome the year but I didn’t see this Taal factor coming. Nobody did. Alexa, skip 2020!

***

Never imagined we’d be talking to a speaker.

I got a lovely Christmas present in the form of an Amazon Echo 2nd Generation but we had difficulty making it work since December. We soon learned that this is a known issue if activated outside US. I was so desperate and almost accepted we have an expensive paper weight.

I watched several YouTube videos on how to hack it but none of those fixed the issue. I even thought of bringing the one-kilo plus speaker to Kansas to see if I can set it up there but better judgment stopped me. I always prefer travelling light.

When I returned home from the client’s boot camp, despite fear that anytime we’d vacate our house if Taal worsens, we tried our luck once more to communicate with Alexa. Luckily, my Facebook cry for help resulted to useful replies. One said she also has an Echo and that she was able to make it function. I was encouraged so I searched online once more and one site did the trick. Few minutes after I clicked the first hyperlink on Techie Gadgets’ article, we already started interacting with Alexa. So again, “Alexa, skip 2020?”

***

Mood: 2/10 Honks! (Day 3 since Taal has been lowered to level 3 alert.)

Flying Indoors in Kansas

Kansas finally! “Try the barbecue” so far was the most common answer if you ask people around if what’s best here. Some say watch NFL but I’m not into it. I haven’t heard anyone saying something else. Maybe I was asking the wrong folks. Maybe.

Good thing there’s this sign that screams “come here!” The iFly’s Indoor Skydiving building cannot be missed as its huge letters can be seen across the freeway.

iFly’s building at night.

I’m here for a week on a busy itinerary but it helped that our boot camp activities are pretty much lined up. Thanks as well that Americans are sticklers for following schedule, most times, so on the second day I felt I could squeeze in an activity besides hitting the gym.

On Tuesday night, in my heated Aloft room, I booked the cheapest iFly package for only $49. I was going alone and nobody to capture everything for me so I also availed the video option for an extra $7+.

Wednesday afternoon, coming straight out of a bus from a visit to another call center about 30 minutes from the Sprint Campus, I hopped in directly to a Lyft ride which I timed right as I booked it while on the bus. Impressive Wi-Fi connectivity in this place. I made it on time for my 5:30 PM flight check-in.

Entrance to iFly.

As expected, there was pre-flight briefing and orientation. I was with a group of about eight flyers. I think I was the only one who has jumped out of an actual plane so our instructor had me first in line. Surprisingly, indoor skydiving was easy to pick up, at least the basic flat position, even on the first try as long as one follows the hand signals–the wind tunnel is a bit loud so we had an option to pop in ear plugs. (First video shows advanced flyers practicing routines)

Each indoor skydive lasts only 60 seconds which they say is the average free fall time if jumping out of an airplane. There are only three hand signals: chin up, straight legs, and relax. I was able to follow all so I stabilized myself and was flying unaided approx half of the time I was inside the wind tunnel.

Sixty seconds was so worth it so I availed the high flight option for an additional $16+. This add-on got me flying high with our instructor who flew right beside me as I fly up and down (see the video below) on the last 30 seconds of the second flight.

Two of flyers weren’t able to finish their flights so our instructor asked if someone wants to get back in for free. Surprisingly, I got everyone’s vote so there I was inside the tunnel for my third flight. Lucky me, I owe these guys.

Don’t get me wrong, I eventually discovered on our first day that Kansas does serve the best barbecues I’ve tried so far. But if you get to be here always ask where iFly is. You won’t regret you signed up. Blue skies.

***

Mood: 2/10 Honks! (Last day of the boot camp.)

Dancing To 2020

Last year was crazy so there’s no way to end it but in an equally crazy fashion. Blame it on wifey’s top secret, not to mention pricey, gift to Marcus in the form of a Nintendo switch. His first game was Pokemon but his next choice was surprising. A dancing game.

Another Santa, another baldy guy, made this request happen. Before we know it, Marcus now has in his possession a complete Just Dance 2020 game. And he has evil plans–me dancing with the game.

So hours before New Year struck we got sweaty at home. Sans alcohol, I was dancing to Marcus’ music choices. Been dancing to this game days prior so I felt I was getting the groove, captured one on video, and dared to post it on Facebook. It was ugly but so far it got hits and comments I didn’t expect. Maybe I will try singing next time.

My dance getting unexpected reactions.

***

Well I’m also a recipient of wifey’s good year. Composed this post using a nice Redmi 8 Pro. Yup, 2019 was indeed crazy.

***

Mood: 2/10 Honks! (Will be boarding for my trip to Kansas in few minutes. Will miss home.)