Thursday, June 26, 2008

Time's up!

For all you Multiply users out there.

If you've been using Multiply as storage for your high resolution photos and deleting them from your hard disk with no other back-up, I suggest you start downloading them again now and back them up elsewhere.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Eraserheads: Ang Huling El Bimbo

Ted recently told me that he doesn't know any Filipino songs. I'm no great shakes with them either, to tell you the truth. My husband despairs of me ever remembering song titles, lyrics, artists and tunes! I don't listen to music at home or at work (I like silence) though I do enjoy live performances tremendously. So I told Ted that I'll ask around and post some especially for him. Here's my first: "Ang Huling El Bimbo" by The Eraserheads.

I know that most of you won't understand the lyrics because it's in Tagalog, so here's the synopsis of the song from Wikipedia's entry on Ang Huling El Bimbo:

    The first and second verses tell about the narrator's youth, when he would frequently visit his childhood friend, a girl, by hanging around in her huge house after school. The girl was a good dancer, but she was at her best when dancing the El Bimbo. The boy would often visit the girl after school to learn the dance, and always felt awkward doing it. It was at this point that the boy realized he was in love with the girl.

    The third verse fast-forwards to the present, after the narrator and his childhood friend had not met for a long time. The girl, according to gossip, became an unwed single mother and apparently earned a living as a dishwasher in the then-seedy district of Ermita, Manila. Finally, the narrator reveals that his childhood friend had died after being hit and run by an unnamed vehicle.

    At this point, the narrator regrets not being open with his feelings. He ultimately realizes that his feelings will remain forever unrequited and that the only time he'll be able to dance with her again will be inside his dreams.

    The events of the narrator's childhood seem to be set before or around the 1960s or 1970s, as he mentions that his childhood friend looks like Paraluman, a Filipina actress popular in the 1940s.

Song lyrics | Ang Huling El Bimbo lyrics

You can read a short biography of The Eraserheads in AllMusic and a longer one in Wikipedia.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Reflections on respect

"Respect has to be earned."

How many times have you heard this statement, or a variation of it? How many times have you yourself said it?

I agree with it, of course. I cannot expect people to respect me if I am not honest, don't do my work well, am not trustworthy, don't have integrity, and so forth. I cannot expect respect from other people if I am not worthy of respect.

But what about the respect that I give other people? Do they have to be worthy of respect before I show them respect? Do they have to conform to my standards of what I deem to be a person worthy of respect before I treat them with respect?

This is where I begin to have problems with the statement above. I've heard it used too many times as an excuse for rude, discourteous and condescending behavior.

"I do not respect you. Therefore, I will treat you like dirt. I am going to talk to you like you are the stupidest, most ignorant person on earth."

I believe that even if a person really is stupid and ignorant, that's no excuse to be rude. Even if the other person is rude, that's still no excuse for you to be rude to her.

I believe that everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and respect, no matter how flawed they are.

I know it's difficult. I find it difficult. But the beautiful thing about it is, if you behave as if that obnoxious/difficult/stupid person you have to deal with is worthy of respect, she begins to believe it and act it. Until one day, she really becomes that person worthy of respect.

I hope that made sense. My thoughts have been in such a messy jumble for quite some time now.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Zapped no more

I finally changed my Multiply header image a few weeks ago because the first one was too big—I couldn't see my own navigation buttons. Soon after, I discovered that the ad zapper installed in our company web server stopped zapping it. I wrote about this small problem back in February (read 'This ad zapped.').

So, of course, I wondered why the software zapped the first one but not the new one. And I realized that it was just because of the file name. The first header image was named hah_banner.jpg and because I didn't want to overwrite the original file, I named the second one happyathome.jpg. The realization: the software automatically zaps all external images with the word "banner" in its file name!

I love these "Ah-hah!" moments.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

A bug for my bag

I've been looking for a bag hook like this for almost two decades—ever since I lost the very first one I had. Now, I've a much prettier one and I don't have to place my purse on my seat every time we eat out.

This little bug dropped into my lap last week, when the friend of a colleague visited at work and turned out to be selling bag hooks. There were other designs but I couldn't resist the lady bug for my ladies' bag. And she comes in her own little black velvet pouch with satin ribbon drawstrings so she won't get scratched when she's inside my purse.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

The reason for the pot

Nilagang manok—literally, boiled chicken—is the reason why I got my humongous pot in the first place.

nilagang manok
Basically, it's just chicken (I use 8 or 10 pieces) boiled with onions and fish sauce (patis in Filipino, nam pla in Thai). I bring it to boil then simmer for about 40 minutes.

While the chicken's simmering, I cut up all the vegetables. Green beans, ballhead cabbage, pechay (bok choy) and Chinese (Napa) cabbage. I add all these to the pot after 40 minutes and keep it simmering for less than 5 minutes.

It's because of the vegetables that I needed the pot. I always use a lot, but even then, they're usually the first to go. This new one is so huge, you'll notice that the water level is way below the rim—in my old pot, it would have overflowed already.

I really love this pot.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Greenhouse gases are no laughing matter

I know that global warming is a serious problem. I know that the struggle to lessen greenhouse gas emissions creates a lot of tension among environmentalists, scientists, politicians and businessmen. But, pardon me, I still cracked up when I read this piece from the newsletter of the Center for Biological Diversity.

    Saving the Climate, One Cow Belch at a Time

    Anyone who's been on a farm knows livestock can be gassy. But did you know they're greenhouse-gassy? Cows, sheep, and other cud-chewers produce about 20 percent of the world's methane—a leading greenhouse gas—when they burp… and, uh… fart.

    This is especially distressing for farmers in New Zealand, which aspires to be the first carbon-neutral nation (but also has a lot of livestock). Luckily, researchers in the country are figuring out the genetics behind cattle's methane problem, and they've almost come up with a vaccine against it. And just this week Japanese scientists announced that oil found in cashew shells, when mixed in livestock feed, could cut the animals' methane emissions by 90 percent.

    The Center for Biological Diversity applauds these efforts. And we're so glad polar bears don't burp methane.

    Hear more about the cashew-nut cure from Reuters UK and learn about New Zealand's pickle in the Los Angeles Times.


Thursday, June 12, 2008

110 years of independence

Today, we are celebrating the 110th year of Philippine Independence from Spain.

On June 12, 1898, Filipino revolutionary forces under General Emilio Aguinaldo declared the independence of the Philippines from Spanish colonial rule.

This declaration was not recognized by Spain or the United States, however, because that same year, Spain ceded its colony to the U.S. in the Treaty of Paris. Philippine independence was only recognized by the U.S. on July 4, 1946.

Proclamation of Philippine Independence in Kawit, Cavite on June 12, 1898

I was going to say that maybe we should have a second celebration on July 4, to commemorate our independence from the U.S. But on second thought, are we really?

Read more about the Philippine declaration of independence at Wikipedia.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Virtual tourist

I discovered City Daily Photo after I'd been a semi-regular reader of Paris Daily Photo for several months. I wasn't minding all the stuff outside the main blog, which is why I missed this wonderful website earlier.

And wonderful it is! It's a portal, a collection of blogs around the world. Each blogger's "mission": to post a photo of their city every day. Last I checked, there were more than 600 blogs registered (though probably less than 600 cities, since some cities are represented by more than one blogger).

The quality of the photos vary. There are professional photographers in there, and their photos are magnificent. The serious hobbyists' are fantastic too. Then there are the ordinary folks who just want to share about their corner of the world. And I've discovered that it is to this last group that I am usually attracted to.

I try to visit at least three places a day, whatever thumbnail catches my eye. Sometimes, it's because the photography is excellent, but more often than not, I visit—not the artistic shots or close-ups of flowers and pets—but the ones who actually show a piece of their city. I especially love the ones who bother telling stories, the story of the statue, house, bridge or ship—the stories of their cities. I've always loved stories.

Monday, June 9, 2008

The silliest holiday ever

On Thursday, June 12, the Philippines will celebrate it's Independence Day.

But in an effort to boost local tourism, our brilliant president had issued a proclamation stating that the Monday closest to the actual holiday will be the non-working day. And the proclamation covers most Philippine holidays, not just Independence Day. So today's a holiday, and everyone will be at work on June 12.

I'm grateful for the extra day off from work, of course, but today's proving to be just an ordinary day for me—cooking and catching up on chores—as I suspect it is for most Filipinos nationwide. I mean, how many Filipinos can actually afford to travel?

So on Thursday, if anyone has organized events and celebrations, who will be able to attend, if everyone's back in their workplaces?

And our government wonders why Filipinos aren't patriotic.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Do I look like a matron?

I had quite an unusual experience during this morning's monthly mall trip. Suddenly, all the sales people were eager to assist me. I'm still not sure whether I like it or not, though, since I like being left alone when I'm choosing what to buy. The good thing was, they weren't trying to help me out with my choices, they were helping me out with my load.

First, the shopping basket. I didn't get one immediately because I wasn't sure where the first item on my list could be found, but I saw it immediately and got it. So I was carrying it to the counter where I knew the baskets would be, and I was met halfway there by a salesman who handed me one.

Second, the rug. I had chosen a small one to put under my husband's narrow bookshelf and had it rolled neatly in my shopping basket. When I got to the other end of the store, I saw more choices and found a pattern I liked better. So I unrolled the first rug and put it back on the display pile. Then the salesman there rolled up my new choice for me and placed it in my basket exactly how I had the first one in.

Third, how about a shopping cart instead? As I was on my way to the other end of the store for the last item on my list, yet another salesman walked up to me and offered me a shopping cart so I wouldn't have to carry a basket. (Uh, no thank you, I'm not buying that much.)

Fourth, yet another shopping cart. After the department store, I decided to buy some chicken pieces in the supermarket one level down. (Our neighborhood grocery usually only has whole chicken.) So I deposited my three shopping bags in the package counter and bought the chicken. And a few other items, so I ended up with another three bags. As I was walking to the package counter, another young man, a member of the customer service crew this time, came up to me with a shopping cart to put my packages in. So I thanked him, placed the bags inside, got my other packages and rolled the cart over to the taxi stand. And the nice cab driver came out of the car to help me place my packages on the back seat.

So the first thing I asked my husband when I got home was, "Do I look like a matrona?" My smart husband, knowing there's no safe answer to a question like that, instead asked me what brought the question on, so I told him about all those young men helping me out. He laughed, nuzzled me a bit, then said, "Maybe they think you look rich." Ha ha.

Anyway, I have three hypotheses about today's experience. One, that I am really beginning to show my age. Two, the service personnel are finally getting the training that they need. (That company has always been notorious for having awful service.) And three, if you want good service, don't just be in jeans and a t-shirt. That's my usual outfit when shopping, but for some reason, this morning I decided to wear skinny, red-orange cropped pants and a chocolate brown top with a beige neckline. Did that make a difference? Probably. But I suspect that today's experience was really caused by a combination of all three.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

The power of words

For most of this afternoon, my mind had been dwelling on the idea—and problems—of communication. And words. For various reasons, which I don't really need to explain because they're all work-related. So it was kind of uncanny that I got this from a friend also this afternoon. There are only two instances where words will be used. Don't miss the subtitles.

Historia de un letrero / The story of a sign

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

May 2008: Happy elsewhere

I was going to say that May was probably my most miserable month. First, I pulled a hip muscle and had to go through physical therapy. The doctor prescribed six sessions, but I had only gone to two when I caught that awful bug that laid me low for four days, after which the cough and cold persisted for another two weeks. Then at the end of the month, and the start of the workshop I had to attend, I got sick again—either food poisoning or a stomach flu. Whichever it was, the effect was the same.

But then I went through my planner, and realized that we actually did a lot despite the days stuck at home. We went to our bookworm friends' wedding and I went to the opening of an Australian artists' exhibit.

We also got to try out three new restaurants: Napoli Pizzeria (with old-style brick, wood-burning ovens), Blissful Belly (vegetarian), and Big Oli (Italian fastfood).

And even on the days that we couldn't leave the house—my husband caught the bug after I did—we watched four movies at home: Persepolis, Shake Rattle & Roll 9 (a Filipino horror film), 3:10 to Yuma and My Blueberry Nights.

So looking at the whole of May, no, it wasn't miserable after all. Maybe just the health part, and since we've finally gotten our flu shots, hopefully we won't catch any serious bug again for another year.

Oh, and we also watched two movies on the big screen:

Iron Man
Directed by Jon Favreau

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
Directed by Steven Spielberg