Morning Coffee

How's this* for your morning coffee?

*requires Quicktime



One of the team-building activities last weekend was to build something entirely made of straw (and masking tape). It could be anything according to the trainor. Much to our detriment, our group was not exactly the creative bunch. We were 8 men who had more calories and fats compared to brain-cells. We were like a herd of cows grazing in the grass, obviously enjoying the beach view nearby.

I could read the sentiments in the group. We're engineers for crap's sake! Creating something without a template of some sort is not exactly our cup of iced-lemon-tea! Who invented this game anyway? Borrrring.

We only had 15-minutes to do it so time was of the essence. I opened the plastic bag containing the straws, bunched up around 20 with one hand and started thinking. Actually I was just holding the straws and daydreaming. Just random thoughts really: my new mp3-player, what food will be served for lunch, can we go pedal-rowing instead, if a tsunami hits us right now will our caffeine-loaded trainor be washed up, etc. Funny thing was when I looked around, my groupmates were also daydreaming. Our minds must've gone pedal-rowing at the beach. Yeah I can see that now: 8 cows pedal-rowing. A rare sight that can turn out to be a tourist-attraction for the resort.

Suddenly, one guy blurted out, "Hey that bunch of straws your holding looks like the Petronas Towers! We can make the Petronas Towers!"

"Borrring" was the obvious reaction of some while the rest of us were indifferent, seemingly awaiting for 12-noon a.k.a. lunchtime to commence. My initial thought was to say, "You wanna see the Petronas Towers shoved to the back of your head?"

Of course I didn't. To cut the long story short, we finished the task with a rather "believable" version of the real thing, complete with the M-company HQ at the side.

Yup. A herd of cows did that. I guess a group of 10 year olds can do better.


The Best Things In Life Are Free

In the telecom business, being on the operator-side has its benefits. The operator (buyer of equipment), has the right to choose and reject proposals from vendors (seller of equipment). The winning vendor of the bid gets to cash-in on the millions of money incurred thru that sale. So every vendor has to find ways of charming the operator, seeing to it that the operator is made comfortable of the system that is being sold.

Take for example vendor S. They had invited us to a team-building session over the weekend to better improve relations between operator M and vendor S. Venue was in Avillion, Port Dickson which is one of the most high-end vacation resorts, one and a half hour's drive from KL. I invited the missus to tag along since there weren't enough people joining in.

If being pampered in a 5-star resort wasn't enough (water-chalet accomodations, buffet breakfast and lunch, and BBQ-dinner by the yacht-club), as a parting gift, we were each given a 512-MB thumbdrive/mp3-player.

"Say wha?!"

Yes my friend. A 512-MB THUMBDRIVE/MP3-PLAYER as a token of appreciation. I was quite surprised with the present. It was a big improvement from the usual crappy gifts I've received from vendors (planners, pens, shirts, calendars, mugs, etc). This one really takes the cake coz mp3-players are one of those things that were in my nice-to-have-but-not-practical-to-buy wishlist. I've already got a portable minidisc(MD) player so buying an MP3-player was not really needed. I just find it difficult to transfer songs to my MD-player that I'd often wish I had an MP3-player instead. I guess Santa Claus thought I should get an early Christmas present for being such a good boy. Ho-Ho-Ho!

We got the gift during our BBQ-dinner so I felt like a five-year old wanting to be excused from Christmas dinner so that I can go back to my room to tinker with my present. During the after-dinner drinks and conversations, my mind was actually trying to remember all the songs that I'd like to copy into this tiny little bugger. It was just difficult to contain my excitement as I was opening the box from time to time to look at this amazing tiny gadget that I believe every 30-something music-lover, mp3-downloader should have. Wouldn't you believe that I gave more priority to the mp3-player that I almost (almost!) forgot our videocam from the dinner-table? Hihihi.

Oh yeah, the afternoon before we left, they gave us a handsome polo-shirt that I can use for work.



Reality Bites


It was a regular Sunday evening when I heard the missus scream. I was lying comfortably on our sofa watching ESPN-Sportcenter which incidentally the missus is convinced that the Australian-host is gay simply by the fact that he tilts his head too much. Ever since then, I found it quite disturbing since I can't seem to watch the sports-news as normally as I would since I see the alleged gay-host. Kind of disrupts the manliness of watching ESPN, doesn't it?

Anyway, the reason for her scream was simply three words: Pinoy Big Brother (PBB). She is one of the first to see the breakthrough reality show while she was still in Manila. Not seeing it while in Malaysia was not an option so I subscribed online to ABS-CBN on the internet to be able to watch the PBB shows and live-cam. Forty US-bucks for one whole season. They’re even encouraging subscribers to text-vote and even sell PBB shirts and prepaid cards. I guess ABS-CBN is doing all it can to sell so that they could gain back the franchise-fees (which I assume to be quite pricey) paid to the US company that owns the rights. Damn bastards.

The missus was lucky enough to watch live the controversial hawaiian-party night on the live-cam broadcast on the ‘net. She let out a scream when she saw Chx teach Sam the intricacies of mouth-to-mouth, tongue-to-tongue, and tongue-to-ear conversations. Since Day-1, the missus has hated Chx so her actions towards the new housemate had made the missus hate her more. She found solace in the PBB-forums when she saw one topic on reactions to Chx’s punishment to stay at least 3-meters away from Sam. She was described as a “housemaid” (instead of housemate), gilagid, Sadako (of ring-o), pokpok, impakta, etc. to the missus’ delight.

Like the missus who’d always look thru the doors of the other units of our condo, PBB’s success may be due to the Pinoy’s inherent character to be usiseros, always wondering what the neighbors are doing.

As for me, I’ll continue to download the daily PBB episodes for the next 60-over days. As long as the missus has her PBB, I’ll have my ESPN.


The 4 Horsemen of the Apocalypse

The missus and I have been watching Saturday Night Live (SNL) on CNBC for the past two Saturdays. Needless to say that I was laughing my head off on the skits shown, particularly the skit called Weekend Update with Tina Fey and Amy Poehler.

I just couldn't get enough of this "news-item" in the said skit:

"According to a new report, children do not necessarily get enough calcium from milk and scientists suggest kale, tofu, oatmeal, and broccoli, or as children call them, the four horsemen of the Apocalypse."


Vacation's Over

(For those of you who read my blog entitled Who's The Boss?, there is another side to my discussion with the HOD that I deemed appropriate of writing on a separate post. So here it is.)

I've always trusted my instincts. When my 1st contract here was expiring last 2003, I had a funny feeling that I'll get renewed. The missus, still my gf back then, didn't believe my vibe coz she said why would I get renewed when in fact I was doing ABSOLUTELY NOTHING 95% of the time? Of course my instincts were correct. I got renewed for another year (and a salary-increase for all that "work").

Late 2004 my contract was near expiry again ---and again my "sixth sense" told me I was getting renewed. I signed another contract until Jan.10, 2005.

Prior to my discussion with the HOD, I tried to feel what my instincts would say about the prospect of getting another year's contract. Unlike my last two vibes, I felt that I was not going to get renewed at all. By this contract's end I'll be 3 years here. Most of the expats have stayed for 3 years or less. I don't know if it was an HR-rule, but I just trusted my guts and conditioned myself that I'd better start looking for other prospects.

So last Thursday, after the HOD discussed my new role, he came to the subject of my contract. I was ready to face the music since I had a similar discussion with him last year (He was particularly keen on asking if I have tried applying somewhere else since HE felt that I might not get renewed. To his surprise, and mine, I would stay for another year). I knew that if he ever discussed my contract again, he would go about the same line.

So here's the decision: I'm getting renewed for another contract....

Hold it! Hold it! I'm not yet finished!

I'm getting renewed for another contract BUT until early-April 2006 only. He was kind enough to fight the matter over higher-management to renew me for another year but 6-months is the longest that they could give. 6-months FROM NOW, that is. Thus April 10, 2006 will be my last working day here. That is, of course, if there won't be any change of plans by the management. Who knows, I might be outta here as early as January?

As I was driving back that day after that conversation, I just started memorizing everything to every minute detail: the houses with the red roofs, the freshly-paved roads, the Proton and Perodua local-cars, the mall that we regularly go to, the Chinese take-out shop that I regularly buy my dinner, and the people going about their business. All were unaware that I'll be leaving soon. I've said to myself, "Mamimiss ko talagang lahat ng 'to."


So my Malaysian-adventure will be ending soon. I have enjoyed living in this country for the past 33 months so another 6 months will be a bonus. I will definitely miss the diverse culture, the food (damn! the food!), the sights, the pirated-DVDs, the popularity of football, and of course, the people. There's nothing left to do but strain my eyes out and suck up all the beauty that Malaysia has to give. As the missus and I have discussed, we'll just look back fondly on our stay in this wonderful country on how we enjoyed this vacation away from the Philippines.

Yes, we're looking at this as just a vacation. A very long one. When I first took this contract I told myself that I will just stay here for ONE YEAR and that's that. Who would've thought that I'd still be here until now? It may have been due to the fact that I've grown to like it here. Add to that the undeniable fact that I'll be earning in 3 years the amount that it would take me in 3 LIGHT-YEARS in the Philippines.

Frankly, I've never lived so comfortably in my entire life. But living permanently in another country is such a foreign thought to me. Iba pa rin kase sa Pilipinas. Like my friend BN, I want to settle in the Philippines for good (after saving money from job-contracts, of course). Like any other vacation, I will always have that need to go back home. Back to the real world where family, friends, and tapsilog await.

But until April comes, I would have to consult my instincts again. My Mom, the eternal optimist, once said: "Naku sana naman ma-assign naman kayo sa ibang bansa para naman may bago akong pupuntahan." How's that for motivation? You can't help but love her for that.

Maybe my Mom's predictions will come true. By some weird work up in the heavens, I might be going off on another "vacation" by then. (wink wink)



The movies below have been somehow banned for showing in Malaysia. Too bad since the missus and I were raring to go last Thursday to watch Drew Barrymore's film (
actually the title Fever Pitch was changed to The Great Catch for the Malaysia release) when the guy in the ticket-booth said that it has just been banned in Malaysia (the opening day, at that).

I'm really wondering why they banned these films. Was it too much sex? Too much swearing? Or did the censors felt that Chris Rock had too much bed scenes with one of the prison-inmates?

Well whatever the reason was, it only proves that the censors feel that Malaysian movie-goers are still immature at being presented with these types of films.

Yes the censors here are damn strict. Buti pa sa 'pinas pag na-rate ng MTRCB ang isang pelikula ng "XXX" eh napapakiusapan pang ibaba ng Rated-PG (remember the classic film Live Show?).

Well anyway, good thing I'm at the pirated-DVD-capital-of-the-world so I'll just wait for the next few months for the DVD-release at my favorite DVD-shop (pirated, of course).


Who's The Boss?

Our new HOD (Head of Dept) talked to me this morning about my future with the Company. Alas, my time has come to play musical-chairs once again since the latest reorg is being set up for October. Finally, he has asked me to step-up to the role of Head of Intelligent Network (IN) Operations.

The role has actually been running away from my sights since I first reached these shores 2.5 years ago. The reason for my prying is that I was initially hired for THAT ROLE but then I ended up doing something else. It's like Michael Jordan being sent to Mogadishu thinking that he'll train the national basketball team but instead is given an AK-47 and is told to start shooting at them American-varmints (pardon my simile). It may have been due to departmental-politics or insecurity, I assume, but nevertheless I made good use of my time here. I've developed my skills in non-IN systems, mostly to the admiration of my peers and my boss, but hey, you always have to be alert for the reorg that often happens once (or even twice) a year.

The decision was quite easy. It's either I stay with my current role (part of a team managing mobile-data systems) or move back to the IN-group where my expertise is PLUS I can begin my career-shift to a more managerial position. Of course, I chose the latter. I've been doing the role of "systems-engineer" for far too long (10 years in fact) that I need a change by handling a more complex component of the Company: people.

That, I think, is where the challenge will be. The current group of IN-engrs and I treat each other as friends, lunch-buddies, badminton-buddies, mp3-sharing-buddies, what-color-do-you-recommend-for-my-house-buddies, I-saw-you-pushing-the-grocery-cart-last-weekend-buddies, your-boss-sucks-and-I-have-the-email-proof-buddies, etc. I may have to tell them that I'll expect a little more when I'll be heading them, and I think they'll be kind enough to give something back. I've learned a lot with my current boss (however absurd his views are, according to most of the people he's met that I've met) and I hope to implement his useful ideas to this new group.

The only hindrance that I could think of if he (my current boss) will have violent-reactions to my new role which meant moving out of his group. But of course you have to follow your boss' orders and his boss' orders are for me to report directly to his boss. That means I'll be in the same-level as my current boss, which was supposed to be in the first place (whew! ang daming boss! hehe).


Harddisk kaput

Kung mamalasin ka nga naman, I suddenly heard a "cracking" sound on my laptop today---specifically in the harddisk area. The Windows welcome-screen upon startup just seemed to stay there forever, the progress bar endlessly illuminating from left to right like that of Michael Knight's car.

I removed the battery and put it back on again. Still the same thing happened. I tested my patience and waited for it to finish booting ---cracking sound in tow.

Well I can sadly say that the harddisk may be faulty. The occassional cracking sound, aside from being annoying, seems to be telling me that it has taken the last straw from all my WMV and MP3 downloading.

Our IT department says the harddisk replacement will come in 2 weeks' time. So I will have to bear with this for a little while longer. In the meantime I'm backing-up all my important files to our server (good thing it has a lot of space; gigabyte heaven!).

Damnit! There goes the cracking sound again! Arrrrghhhh!



Don't you have those times when you said to yourself you'll never do it again, but still you do? And, as you're done with it, you only have yourself to blame for the repercussions.

For me, it's the subject of horror films. I've never been a fan of watching horror shows/films. I recall when I was a kid, the first time I got scared was when I watched a tv-documentary on Jack The Ripper. I had sleepless nights just thinking about it. I promised myself I'll never watch another horror flick again.

Then came Ring-O.

Ohhh man! It was damn scary. My kid sister recommended that I should watch it. The missus, my girlfriend at the time, swore that I had one of the loudest screams in the cinema (Greenbelt-3 pa naman yun). Yeah it wasn't really one of my "knight in shining armor" moments. Knowing that my then-gf lived near Balete Drive was not a comforting thought either. After I drop her off I would hit the gas on the way home via Balete Drive, not looking at my rear view mirror, afraid that Manang would be waving from behind the rear-seat, hitching a ride to Cubao.

I said to myself that I have to cure this. So I bought a VCD of "The Eye" on coming home to Manila. Yup it was another recommendation by my kid sister (dang! does she get a high on watching horror flicks?). I watched the movie with her, but I was only able to finish the 1st scene. I told her kindly, "Putek ayoko na! Manood na lang tayo ng TV-patrol!"

You have to be amazed at the evolution of horror films these days, specifically those from Asia. Except for the depressingly funny Feng Shui, the success of Ring-O has been honoured by The Eye, Sigaw, and lately, The Maid.

Oh yeah I watched The Maid. It's a Singapore film that starred our very own Alessandra De Rossi. I didn't know much about the film but when I saw that it starred a Filipina actress, I knew the missus would like it since she misses Philippine Showbiz. The film description stated it was of the "horror" genre but I was not deterred since I knew that I've gotten over my fear since I last watched Sigaw last December.

Needless to say that I was covering my eyes and scared outta my mind like a sissy-boy on most scenes of the entire film. Yup, it was damn scary. I think I even had trouble sleeping that night, afraid that Ah-Soon (one of the characters there) would creep up and pull my legs down to hell.

To my kid sister: yes you better watch it if it's showing near you. You'll definitely gonna love it so much that you'll want to sleep in Mom & Dad's room for the next few days.

What? Not showing there? Don't worry. I'll buy you the VCD-version for Christmas. Hehehe.



Da Vinci Code (Fin!)

After almost a month, I've finally finished reading Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code. This is only the 2nd fiction-novel that I have read from cover to cover in my entire life, so imagine the amazement I'm feeling right now. Yeah, I should've paid more attention to my Reading-Comprehension classes when I was in elementary. But heck, recess and lunch-break were more important matters at the time. Well the only advantage of that is until now I still have perfect 20/20 vision. Di kase nagagamit ng madalas. Hehe.

Finally I get to experience what you book-worms feel when you see a film based on a book. Btw, I've read somewhere that Tom Hanks will play the lead-character in the movie-version so that's a big plus already. I now get a chance to utter "Ay mas maganda yung libro kesa sa film-version."

Dan Brown's story-telling is remarkably impeccable. I have to admit that what drew me to reading this book was "What the hell is all this hype/controversy about?" I was lucky to have borrowed a copy from my sister who's classmate has forgotten to claim it back from her (btw, as a side-note, that classmate of hers had a verrrry 'shitty-episode' in our car, but THAT's another story

His method of presenting accurate facts and inserting questionable fiction may draw the unwary reader into believing/protesting on what he has written, but of course, that's all for the reader to decide. It's just Brown's way of "spicing up" the plot, to get the readers hooked.

Bottomline, I don't believe in Dan Brown's concoctions (it's just FICTION my friend, so stop squabbling that your "decisions may be unconsciously influenced by it." That, I believe, is a lot of bullsh*t). But the STORY per se, was appealing. It was like watching HBO and Discovery Channel at the same time. Unputdownable, if there ever is a word.

Btw, here's the movie-trailer and the list of actors portraying the roles in the novel. It opens in the US on May-19, 2006.

Yeah, I know. It's gonna be a long wait.


Say YES to lap dancing...or else

I found this article on Yahoo-Odd-News. I guess my init-friends have a new excuse when caught red-handed:

But honey! I had no choice!



Salamat Fibisco!

Here's what the missus brought back from Manila:

The box at the top has already been emptied by yours truly. Hee Hee Hee.


Back To The Beach (Day18)

It’s been quite a big effort on changing my eating habits for the past 18 days. I can only count around less than five occassions when I had a cup of rice for lunch or dinner. My meals were basically ham and low-fat cheese sandwiches, canned-soup, salads, fried fish, and 3-in-1 packs of oatmeal, and apple juice. Add to that the occassional wantan mee dry noodles, diet coke, kitkat, and about 2 packs of cheese-rings. Oh, of course, there was the slaughter of 12 choco-mallows to boot.

Our inexpensive weighing scale has somehow been cooperative, indicating a loss of 8 pounds in 18 days. That loss doesn’t really show since I still notice my love-handles and my beer junk-food belly greeting me at the mirror. I’m undeterred about it so I still try to exercise thirty-minutes a day, thrice a week.

We finally had our formal training for one of the new systems that came in 2 months ago. Our trainor, named Frank, was from California. He looked like he was in his 50’s. We had a casual conversation while we were waiting for the test-server to finish the installation.

He knew I was Filipino even if I didn’t mention it. Hmmm…. Maybe my cool, cable-tv english-spokening accent gave it away.

Well anyway, we somehow arrived on the topic of dieting (I guess it’s something Californian). He mentioned that he was overweight sometime ago but he was able to lose 30-lbs in 3 years. Yup I agree with what you’re thinking. “Why did it take that long to lose 30-lbs?”

He mentioned that his diet was done gradually. What he did, as he so aptly put it, was a ‘change of lifestyle.’ He stopped eating junk food (McD’s included) and gradually changed the way he was eating. He was also religious in his daily-exercise, at least one hour a day.

It really helps when you get to talk to someone about common interests, in this case, losing weight. It has somehow inspired me on continuing this ---whatever it is. If I do go down to my ideal weight, sooner or later I’ll be flying back home. Next thing you know, it’s the Holidays, and the dieting cycle starts again.