31 March 2005

Star Wars mania

Woohoo! After a series of unfortunate events with logistics in a seminar and sales training we are coming up for next week, there was finally a silver lining in the cloud.

My boss has approved the exclusive screening of Star Wars Episode III of our company with Nortel this May! That certainly brought a smile to the faces of Team Marketing. This event is for customers though, but our Account Managers should be there as well. 441 guests! That will be a big crowd. But I'm sure we will have a few tickets floating around. I wonder who will be the first one to declare they are friends of Team Marketing when they get wind of this excellent news. :-)

This is actually the first time we will do this (I am usually seated with the audience, impatiently waiting for the program to finish so we can get on with the show), so if there is anyone out there who has experience in organizing exclusive screenings, I will appreciate a tip or two. Yes, I know we have to keep the program short. :-) We're thinking of donning costumes ...

Can't wait for May!

[photo borrowed from this Russian site]

30 March 2005

Falling into routine

Now I truly know how dependent I am with internet access.

When I turn on the laptop in the office, I download my e-mails, and check these in tandem with a visit to my blogs to check for comments. Then I head off for a short visit to blogkadahan and to the Berks mailing list. When there is the rare moment when we have a failed internet connection, things doesn't seem to move. Everybody in the office experiences this. One look and you'll see exasperated colleagues listlessly staring at their screen, waiting for the Internet to come on. Talk about dependence on the Net.

I was amused at what happened this morning. I turned on my PC and opened my e-mail client. No connection! I tried surfing the net. Nada! I immediately called our Net Admin. I can't get any work done this way. Help!

I rebooted and tried again. Nothing. Our Admin promptly dropped by my place and asked how things were. Why o why, are the others so peacefully staring at their computers, apparently with internet and network access, and mine doesn't work? Have I been cut-off from the system?

The answer was much simpler than I expected. My patch cord wasn't connected. Sheepishly, I plugged in my laptop and murmured my apologies.

It happens to the best of us.

27 March 2005

Happy Easter everyone!

I'm at home with my wife for the Holy Week, just being in each other's company and refraining from going out for gimmick. Tomorrow's Easter, and we're having tinola (a soupy chicken dish) for lunch. Happy Easter everyone!

21 March 2005


Board games played a huge part of my formative years. I remember us visiting our well-off cousins in Aurora Hill, and if we're not spending the afternoon in the playhouse, or visiting the creek, or hunting for clay, we'd be in their living room playing Monopoly. My brother and I also frequented then-Coronado Inn (where Tiong San Bazaar Harisson in Baguio now stands), where we either read comic books or played Game of the Generals, Chinese checkers, or Chess. Scrabble came in a bit later.

But of all these board games, I found Chess to be most intriguing. I was in fifth grade when I started playing chess. I read some books on strategy at that time as well, but not to the point that I can recognize signature moves. I played for the simple fun of it.

My enthusiasm, however, waned later on til junior high, when two of my best buddies would spend entire afternoons in the house playing chess. Sonny had a medium-sized chess set in their place, but we do not usually hang out there. So we make do with this pocket chess set which I have. I think that's when my eyesight started to give way. I remember Leo doing this "retract the piece" when he discovers he made a mistake in his most recent move, so we had to impose the "touch-move" rule every time, or else the games would take longerthan it should, and the supposed winner loses in the end because of all the retracted moves. I hope Leo doesn't read this :-)

In college, I wasn't able to find time to play chess much anymore. Though I survived for the most part in the online chess tournaments at Yahoo! Games in the mid-90s when I was issued an office laptop which I brought home on weekends.

I was excited nonetheless to receive this elegant chess set from Francis Carigma last Christmas. It is so reminiscent of the chess set used by Magneto and Professor Xavier in the first X-Men movie. Glass board and chess pieces, with one army frosted and the other transparent. I thought it would be difficult to play on such a set but my wife and I found it to be just right. I saw a variation of this chess set, with one army sporting a black color. But it does not look as nice as this. The black pieces are solid black, and looked too plastic, unfortunately. Had it been made transparent too, with matching black, transparent tiles on the board, it would have made an elegant board.

By the way, if you would like to have one of these for yourself or as a gift for a chess enthusiast, I saw some at the men's wallets and belts section of Landmark (ground floor) in Makati. The one I have fills up half the space of our living room table, but there is a smaller, more handy version. They make excellent display items, and for play too!

19 March 2005

May the Force be with you, always

I was a Jedi once. The Republic called upon us to bring order to the galaxy. We defend the oppressed, guide the senate, and champion the cause of the people. It was a relatively peaceful time at Coruscant then.

Obi Wan, Anakin and I went to a beerhouse one day. Not exactly to drink beer, but to try out their new videoke bar. Well, ok, we had a couple of barrels. And it is true what they say about knowing the true nature of men when they're drunk, for Anakin suddenly started blabbing about the New Order (and he wasn't referring to the new wave group either) and how he was going to rule over eveything and blast a couple of planets into oblivion. Obi Wan, who has a higher alcohol tolerance, was in his right mind when Anakin was blabbing. So they had a huge huge fight unlike anything Coruscant has ever seen before. Anakin was defeated and because he was ashamed, he hid behind a black mask and black costume to make him look more menacing. And to show Obi Wan he can really do the New Order thing, he did go from planet to planet, conquering them. Though I think he still has a soft side underneath that hard exterior. A couple of ewoks can be seen frolicking in his chambers. I think he likes teddy bears. He is even reputed to be building a Death Star near the forest moon of Endor, the Ewoks' home.

The directors in Coruscant got so inspired by this story that they will be releasing a movie about it this coming May. Anakin, who now goes by the name of Darth Vader, however, insisted on being part of the cast as the lead role no less or else feel the destruction wrought by the fully armed and operational battle station.

Well, anyhow, I got disillusioned by this Jedi thing. You cannot love, and you must not let emotions get in the way. Look at Obi Wan, he now lives in isolation, keeping close watch at Luke Skywalker growing up in the planet of Tatooine. I don't think I can do that. So I left the Jedi Order, got married, and settled far from the Republic, into my little space called Office Cubicle. But I still muse about my past life. It's still kinda cool having Jedi powers, though. I can make the remote glide to me while watching TV on weekends, for example.

[thanks to Polo of blogkadahan for this photo!]

18 March 2005

blogkadahan: rebels without because

I was pleasantly surprised when I received an invitation to join a mailing list a little over a month back. Surprised because inspite of the fact that I share personal things in my blogs, I am quite reserved in person. I'd be the one you would least likely notice in gatherings, as I prefer sitting it out, smiling and laughing, and would gratefully have a bottle of beer to chug occasionally.

So I really didn't think I made a lasting impression with my peers when we had our first ever bloggers' EB last December. Although I did meet a lot of nice people, and got to further expand the blogs I visit.

Yet I have to say, joining blogkadahan is one of the nicest things that has happened to me blogging-wise since the party. Each member has posted a bit about themselves, and are now in the second phase of posting about their first true love! And I can't tell you enough about how rambunctious and fun it has been in the mailing list. To top it all, blogkadahan (whose posts are mostly written in Filipino) is represented by Filipinos living in different areas of the globe, giving us fresh insights in how it is to live in other countries through their blogs, and how proudly Filipino they still are in their humor, food, and life.

I have included a list of member blogs in blogkadahan at the right panel as well. Do visit blogkadahan, revel in being Filipino and celebrate life with us.

16 March 2005

Pickled peppers update

Oh wow. Work has kept me away from blogging something at length here and in my other blogs. But I think an update is in order on the pickled peppers I made a couple of blogs back.

At first I was skeptical when my mother-in-law tasted it two days after it was made and she said it was delicious! Romesez (a friend from blogkadahan.com) said we need to wait for about a week so the spices can sink into the pepper. And that I did.

When I finally got a taste of the pickled peppers, I found it yummy! It was sweet and sour and spicy all at the same time! And I got to chew up some peppers too, and it was crunchy and sweet and sour and spicy too! My wife said it gets better with time.

The batch we made filled two bottles. I brought one in the office and the other is back home. When we have something fried for our meal (be it beef, fish, or pork), we use the pickled peppers as the dip. And when we're done with dipping, I munch up the peppers and carrots. Definitely yummy.

It's inexpensive, and it's fun to make. You definitely must try some.

Where to live?

I have been renting out an apartment for the longest time now, and I have been wondering when I can get a place of my own for my family. I have always desired to live in a place where there the busy city life won't be so evident. We have previously been scouting for a place in Laguna, but we had to stop looking temporarily as there are expenses that need our attention in the very near future.

I did not like living in a condominium unit too, for I would love to have my own porch where we can have barbeque with friends, plant trees, vegetables and flowers, and occasionally camp out just for fun! But with the ever increasing traffic going into and out of Manila, that seems quite a farfetched idea, especially with my notorious habit of sleeping late and waking up late. Work would never agree with my having a home too far from the office. *sigh*

Guess you really can't have everything you want, huh?

14 March 2005

English Exams

I've been re-reading the 5th book of Harry Potter in preparation for the upcoming 6th book release this coming July. I came across this test from What I'm Thinking and decided to try it out. It's not as exciting as Transfiguration and Charms, but I had fun nonetheless. This is my test result:

You scored 93% Beginner, 93% Intermediate, 93% Advanced, and 72% Expert!
You have an extremely good understanding of beginner, intermediate, and advanced level commonly confused English words, getting at least 75% of each of these three levels' questions correct. This is an exceptional score. Remember, these are commonly confused English words, which means most people don't use them properly. You got an extremely respectable score.
Thank you so much for taking my test. I hope you enjoyed it!

For the complete Answer Key, visit my blog: http://shortredhead78.blogspot.com/.

To take the test, visit OKCupid! presents: The Commonly Confused Words Test. Good luck!

Now, I only have to keep up with my Potions and Occlumency tests.

08 March 2005

When it rains, it pours

Pardon me for this 'rainy' post. I was about to entitle this "A Series of Unfortunate Events", because it is. But it might be mistaken for a review of the movie that's showing this week (my wife and I watched this last week, and we enjoyed it, by the way). Hence the equally-appropriate title.

My series of unfortunate events started happening yesterday afternoon, when I suddenly rose from my chair here in the office then 'wham!'. My mobile phone flew off its belt compartment. Which made me wonder why it would do so, especially since I was quite sure that the velcro covering was strapped quite strongly. And horror of all horrors, the screen display cracked! They said it will cost me around 9,000 pesos to have the thing repaired! Aaargh.

Anyways, I was rushing here and there because we were in the midst of event preparations for today til Thursday. We met our forgeign principals, and then we did occular inspections. Oakwood Premier turned out ok, but when we got to Makati Shangri-La, we had to wait for over half an hour to have the function room opened, and when they finally did, the room was a complete mess! They haven't fixed it up yet. Our guests took it good-naturedly, but it was definitely what I did not have in mind.

Then this morning, I got up early and proceeded to the shower room. What the ... the light's busted! I had to take my bath by candle light. And then in the middle of my bath, water ran out! Somebody had to turn on the water tank, and eventually I was able to finish. And then I was supposed to wear my green barong, only to learn that it was not washed yet. So I wore something else instead.

I decided not to drive because of these series of unfortunate events. I started receiving calls a little past 8. Our CEO and COO are already in the venue, and we haven't set-up registration yet. Good thing Pauline and company were on their way already.

So I got to the office, printed out some materials needed for the event, then got there before the morning break. When I got back to the office this afternoon, my laptop wouldn't work! After the check-up, our IT Admin declared that it needed re-formatting. Great.

And here I am, writing this nice piece of work before I go home. I think I'm coming down with a fever. I had been asking for permission to go home early but I realized I can't. Got lots to do.

I might be taking a sick leave tomorrow. If you'll be looking for me then, I'll be in bed, beside my beaten down mobile phone and laptop.

07 March 2005

Peter Piper's pickled peppers recipe

During the latter part of my high school years, a friend and I made atcharang sili (pickled pepper) in our home. We'd let it "cook" for less than a week, then we'd munch on the green pepper, whose spiciness has mellowed a bit, and with a good measure of sweet and sour mixed in.

The recipe was lost in time, for I think we only made around 8 jars between us, then they transferred to another place. And that was that.

I was reminded of this pickled delight late last year, and so I asked around for someone who knew how to do it. Since there was a number of food bloggers at blogkadahan, I ventured a question. And a recipe was thus provided by Romesez. I knew I just had to try the recipe. It was quite simple, really. Chop the ingredients, taste the vinegar-sugar-salt mixture to your preference, mix 'em all up, then let it sit for about a week.

I bought the ingredients last Saturday with my wife. However, we cannot find any baby onions. A search in the local market yielded the same result.

Incidentally, my mother in law arrived very early this morning. She came here to meet her son who has just arrived from abroad. But I think they made arrangements for him to visit us here instead of us going to Batangas, so they started making fresh lumpia (wrapped vegetables -- is my translation correct? harhar)and potato salad for tomorrow. And while they cut and diced the vegetables, I also joined in the fun in making the atchara.

Well, my mother-in-law has a different recipe for acharang sili. Different from mine, and different from Romesez's. I wouldn't know yet how it will taste like, but here is the recipe:

Atcharang Sili

1/2 kilo Sili (green pepper) - stem removed, sliced halfway, seeds removed (the recipe I know had whole pickled peppers, seeds included)
3 medium Carrots, sliced - score for presentation by creative slicing
2 cloves Garlic - peeled and sliced
2 medium Onions - baby onions preferred. but as substitute, we sliced medium, red onions. Crying is optional.
a bunch of chives, chopped
1 liter cane sugar vinegar
roughly-ground black pepper to taste
2 cups brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
2 tablespoons salt

Procedure and story-telling:
Chopping the vegetables took some time to do. Because I insisted to do it alone because they were cooking other dishes. But our household help proceeded to slice the green pepper and remove the seeds. This resulted in hot, aching hands hours after the chore was done.

In a pan over moderate heat, pour the cane vinegar. Add the black pepper, salt and sugar. Mix and taste to your preference. This was rather difficult because the cane vinegar was strong! I couldn't detect the taste of the sugar. My in-law took a sample, sprinkled some more salt, and said it's ok. She said you have to smell it as well to detect the sugar. I did, and the strong vinegary smell overwhelmed my sense of smell and almost made me sneeze. Hmmmm.

After bringing this mixture to a boil, turn of the heat to let it cool down. This took a couple of hours, so I spent it eating fresh lumpia and playing Final Fantasy X. Afterwards, the rest of the chopped vegetables were added. It looked like chop suey (mixed fried vegetables), actually.

Put this mixture into glass jars. My in-law said it's ready to eat! And it lasts longer than the method I knew. I think I'll wait for a couple of days to taste it so that the green pepper has absorbed the sweet and sour mix.

I would like to thank Romesez and Blogkadahan for sharing their insights, my mother-in-law for giving the recipe a new twist, and to our household help Babylyn for cleaning up the green pepper! Update on Wednesday!

Today's quote is brought to you by Mother Goose:
"Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers;
A peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked;
If Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers,
Where's the peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked?"

05 March 2005

Toy collecting: not for kids

There were five of us in the family: three boys and two girls. And as such, there weren't a lot of playthings in the house. There are other priorities that the family fund has to be channeled to, like food and education. Not that I'm complaining. This actually spurned our creativity and imagination early on, and we'd convert simple, everyday things such as empty matchboxes and boards into cars and tents. I remember we had this sawing machine which you pedal to make it run. My sister loved making toy houses and sew sofas, pillows, and beds. And we'd help out make cardboard furniture and appliances. It was fun!

At any rate, I'd also spend time each day staring at the display window of this chic toy shop at then-SkyWorld Condominium in Baguio City. My childhood years was filledwith anime (Japanese animation) which involved one robot or another. There was also the sentai and lots of cool weekend shows. After the Voltes V and Daimos era, there was Macross, then Bioman, Transformers, and a slew of more action shows targetting the kids' imagination.

It became an ungranted childhood wish for me to have these toys. So when I finally settled in Manila and found a stable job, my passion for having these treasures from my childhood returned. My quest has led me to lots of specialty shops, toy conventions, and even in online bidding. I learned the lingo of toy collectors (what is meant by mint-in-box?). Along the way I met lots of friends and acquaintances. Some of my office colleagues even occasionally joined me in these quests.

This happened mid-to-late 90s. I have finally slowed down, just getting one or two toys or scale models in a year. Our apartment is testament to those youthful years of toy hunting. I have a display cabinet showcasing Japanese toys (plastics, scale models, and die casts). My collection includes the original die-cast Voltes V of the 70s with boxes, two Mazinger Zs, four die-cast Macross and Transformer planes, Transformers, a 45 RPM vinyl record of Voltes V, and lots of posters. I have lots of toys at home that you can see one nearly everywhere! On top of the TV, on the walls, on top of cabinets, and inside as well. Guests usually ask where the kids are when they visit.

It was one of the happiest times. It was also one of the most expensive. Vintage toys, especially die-cast ones, appreciate in value over time. It so happened that I started my collecting 20 years after they made public appearance! But I have no regrets. I don't think my future kids will be taking hold of them anytime soon, though. They'll have to buy their own. :-)

02 March 2005

A Litany for Constantine

Inspite of what the critics generally say at Rotten Tomatoes, I found Constantine an engaging movie overall.

It gave an interesting view about the battles being waged everyday here on earth between good and evil: battles we do not see but a selected few bear witness to. Half breeds roam the earth, playing their part in the wager made by God and the devil. They can only influence the outcome, but not directly make contact with the people. However, the discovery of the Spear of Destiny (the spear that was used to strike the Lord Jesus' side, resulting in his death) has triggered a series of events that is described in the bible of hell.

The son of the devil has grown tired of Lucifer's ways with the world, of this passive action on the war between good and evil. He wants to come to earth and reign. But he cannot do so; they cannot pass through this plane from theirs. There is a way, however. All that is needed are the: the blood of God, a psychic, the weapon used to 'kill' God (that which 'killed' God will give rise to the son of satan), and the help of God. That last part I was a bit confused, but I think I understand it a bit after some discussions with friends. I think.

Anyways, the Spear of Destiny finds its way to the Mental Institute where Angela's twin sister Isabel was confined because of her misunderstood ability to see things which others cannot. And Isabel knew what was going to transpire. So she kills herself, even if it meant eternal torture in hell. Things thus turn for the worse for Angela, as she is consequently sought after.

I think that is what I can share on the plot for now; don't want to spoil the fun for would-be movie watchers reading this. Other than the interesting plot, nice aesthetics include the beautifully-depicted Angel Gabriel (played by Tilda Swinton, who will also appear in the upcoming Narnia movie!), devious Lucifer was also played well, and the other characters also did a superb performance. I think Keanu Reeves has been stereotyped due to his famous Matrix persona; you actually half- expect that he will fly anytime soon in this movie. His character here and in the Matrix had a similar, fatalistic attitude so he did look like a cut out of the Matrix in this movie.

Initially , I wondered how God, who is Omniscient and Omnipresent, can let these events unfold, where I think evil had the upper hand. But as Gabriel said, He has a plan for us all. It may be difficult to explain, but something good did come out of these series of events eventually. An angaging movie overall.

Can anybody else confirm if the possessed woman of apparently Mexican or Asian origin in the early parts of the movie spoke in Filipino while Constantine was doing the exorcism?

[photo taken from the Constantine movie site]
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