HAPPY NEW YEAR



Best way to ring in the new year is by counting down from ten with a crowd of drunk people while wearing my new purchase from the current Barneys sale - these Haider Ackermann Crocodile & Leather Boots. I actually love how comfortable they are. The Givenchy Boots (# 1) were calling may name too but my bf agrees that these were a bit more interesting. HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE!!! enjoy the fireworks.

A Painter's Promise


Earlier this week, I was glad to hear that a close friend of mine, a NYC painter, had started to see a tremendous influx of work after a particularly dire dry spell. We met years ago, at the retirement party of a colleague of his that I apprenticed under for a summer, and we kept in touch, even worked on a few jobs together. He’s been around for a while and has some experience and, as such, I was glad to hear about the work but was woe to hear about the circumstances that brought him the job.

There are varying theories on just how much responsibility is put on painters, and all other handymen and service providers for that matter, when they take up a job. The times I’ve worked with painters, the only major responsibility we put to the customer was clearing out the way and ensuring none of their larger, more valuable items got splattered. My friend the painter (there’s no harm, I suppose, in referring to him as “Mike”) requests this service as well but I’ve seen him move more than one or two couches in our day.

One thing that is commonplace, however, is that the painter takes care of any repairs, as long as they are paid a reasonable amount for their time and labor. The gross lack of these minor considerations was the reason Mike was called into a young couple’s home in Seaford to steam and strip some wallpaper and paint. As was relayed to me, the original painter, an independent four-man crew, promised to have the work done within a week, didn’t contact the woman of the house for nearly three weeks (despite several phone calls to them) and then cited the fact that she hadn’t removed the wallpaper yet as the reason they didn’t start, even though they had originally stipulated that they would take care of cleaning and repairing before painting the walls.

Steaming and stripping wallpaper is hardly a job that requires any sort of expertise. Renting a steamer is a simple task and there are numerous ways to learn how to properly use the device. The one I used (I’ve only had the privilege four times in my life) consisted of a three-foot-high tank with rubber tubing running to a large square (about 2’5”x 2’5”) that emits heavy doses of steam. You press the square against a desired area for about 20 seconds to half-a-minute and use a paint scraper to remove the loosened wallpaper.

As would be expected, there are certain patches that require repair from the process, most of which can be fixed with some joint compound, a taping knife and some sandpaper to even out the repaired area. Even if it was more of a chore, however, it certainly isn’t something that would cause a three-week delay, and that is disregarding the fact that no one said that he had to ensure the repairs in the first place! Again, I am glad enough to see Mike happy and working but the NYC handyman in me gets riled by such deplorable behavior. 

Year Of The Trenches




In warfare, trenches are dug-out depressions whose purpose is to deny the enemy ways of taking over fortified positions. One may never pass, until that section of an obstacle has been breached.

In life, trenches are like life stages when one appears to be in suspended animation. Gaining ground becomes an insurmountable feat, knowing too well that you have found your comfort zone, and that, to occupy positions beyond your line of control entails the risk of losing your past accomplishments. 

Securing your holdings become the ultimate goal.

I'd like to sum up the year with this metaphor, to tell that I spent my waking days running along the trenches. Much as I would like to count with my fingers, the moments when I had actually stepped foot outside the gullies, memory could only spare a handful of moments. My fondest recollections remain the ones when I actually remain halfway below ground. 

Take for example at work. The company had to let go its people when our ocean-side partners decided to close shop. I was supposed to join the ranks, but was held back - by a personal request, and uncertainty of going elsewhere. It could have been my perfect exit, yet I chose to stay at the belly of a sinking ship. Somehow I knew, this was my calling. I have to help find ways to make it float and reach port.

Meanwhile, the union with the significant other remains strong, despite the challenges brought by time, distance and familiarity. Who would have thought I'd live a monk's life while the pope was away. To think I was never a fan of remote arrangements. The bond endured because of our desire to make contact, by our heartfelt recollections of our good days, and by sheer faith alone, that love, like butterflies, emerges more beautifully from its cocoon.

It is getting more difficult to return to the vanity's temple, knowing that age, petty distractions and purpose are turning against you. Girth has expanded two-fold from the time I spoke of my grand plans 365 days ago. There were contemplations of retreat, especially when procrastination often gets ahead of plans. But once the renewal of ties had been sealed, belated the validation of plastic cards maybe, the tempering of physique remains a cornerstone of my rituals.

Last but not the least, the raketship stays a profitable venture. Thoughts of abandonment crossed my head, but when the commissions started pouring in, it was hard to let go of duties. Sure it takes a week to finish a travel guide, and the children's stories require communions with my lost childhood, but the sublime rewards, on top of my paycheck did thwart the trappings of secession.

I ended the year by going on a pilgrimage and see for myself the home of Bentusi, my work provider.

The gamut of trenches cover an entire battlefield, and while attempts to overwhelm these lines resulted in tactical defeats, some portions were left open for invasions. And so breach my armies did and the outcome exceeded beyond my last year's unsaid directives: 

A bold assault brought my feet to the shores of Santa Ana. Fifteen hours by bus from home, nestled in the farthest corners of Cagayan, the trip re-awakened the sleeping backpacker in me. 

Another breach and I found myself on a path of evolution from dial-up to broadband Internet connection. It was a revolution forthcoming. I only waited for my cable provider to wire our neighborhood. And when high-speed Internet plugged my house to the web, it took less than a year for the entire house to be liberated from entanglements wrought upon by Ethernet cable.

WiFi arrived at home.

From the family closeness centered around the bundle of joy, to the steady acceptance that I too might take up residence at the Home for the Golden Gays, the trench year will go down in my timeline not as an epoch of stalling, but a period of collision between the forces pushing for retreat and of those campaigning to hold out long enough, until I figure my wants in life.

Because when I look back and account for the things I did, the sum of my accomplishments shows that somehow, the hold out let me secure my gains from recent conquests. Short of returning to my academic roots in Diliman, the last twelve months could have been a Golden Age instead.

Only for the simple reason that I found myself back on track again.

And so we close the year along the lines. Trenches have always been tools of war. But when seen with eyes looking forward for blue skies and sunny days, the dug-out becomes pathways of peace. For when the smoke clears and the battles cease, the same trenches often become the permanent peripheries on earth of a sovereign ready to seek inward

and grow from within.


Sharing my hopes and dreams with everyone this 2012.
Happy New Year!



Garage Sales


There was work going on at my mother’s neighbor’s house while I was home in Albany last week and I couldn’t help but inquire with my mother’s neighbors about what the trouble was. In the suburbs, electronic garage doors are a far more regular sight than they are in the city, even in the outer boroughs of NYC. One thing that distinguishes electronic garage doors to manual ones is that the electrical ones can get into what any electrician, NYC or not, would call “phantom operations.” Apparently, this had happened to my mother’s neighbors right after the installation but they were unable to contact the man who had installed it to do a check-up. My mother’s neighbors, The Matthews, had even driven to their offices, only to find it closed, in the middle of the day, on a weekday.

Michael and Joan (The Matthews) were able to get a pretty reasonable price on an inspection and servicing but the idea that the installer felt the need to duck the repair is disquieting. Unless this was a straight-up bilk job – doubtful, seeing as my neighbor had received a recommendation for the man – there is no conceivable reason that wouldn’t fall under the rubric of incalculable greed. Having talked to my NYC electrician and installer friends this week, many of them said the main reason for phantom operations is a power surge, which most installers and/or electricians can diagnose pretty easily. Now, the Matthews are doing well enough that they can afford to have someone else come and do the work, but this should be something that the installer takes responsibility for, especially considering the installation wasn’t but a week old when the operations began.

There are of course other reasons: faulty remotes, nearby use of advanced electronics (think military bases or larger digital firms), and bad storage (keeping the remote in a cluttered glove department). But these are also things that could be very simply diagnosed by anyone who has installed electronic garage doors for longer than a year. To me, its just another way to make customers nervous about installers, which is certainly not the picture that should be painted when jobless claims are slow rising. 

Tala



Note: Growing up in the city has deprived me a window to the sky. With lights from street lamps, billboard signs and buildings constantly overwhelming the heavens, it's hard to spot even a single star at night. 

They say, in remote towns and mountain hideaways, an explosion of lights still illuminates the great beyond. Once, I was treated to this spectacle while our car cruises an unlit highway. We were on our way to Isabela. 

The light show only happened once, and such sight, I still long ten years later.

This story, intended for elementary school pupils gave Bentusi, my editor, goosebumps. I guess it must have awakened a consciousness she had long suppressed. 

In remembering my first year as a children's magazine writer, I share this entry. Although slightly revised for older readers, it hopes to remind everyone that one can still find joy at the sight of stars.

Cheers!


A huge Balete stands next to a six-lane highway. At the base of the tree is a mound where old people say a duwende makes his home. 

The mound and the tree were already there before the highway was built. The Balete watches over a valley, where factory complexes and acre-wide warehouses have now sprung.

One night, the duwende found himself sitting on top of his mound. He was looking at the sky, trying to find a star even with a lamp post overhead.

“The lights are too bright!” The duwende growled. “Where are the twinkling stars?”

“The bear, the archer and the eagle have all disappeared too.” He was talking about a bunch of bright stars known as constellations. These stars, when connected with an invisible line take the shape of animals. Some were even named after humans.
  
“I used to spot Venus there.” The duwende was pointing at an empty corner of the sky. “And Mars there, and even the faint blue dot which is Jupiter.” He pressed his hands above his eyebrows to shield himself away from the glaring light.

Alas! he couldn't find what he’s looking. The sky glow from all the lights in the valley kept the poor dwarf from seeing even the nearby planets. 

“Now they are all gone.”






The duwende remembers a time when the hillside was full of trees. Everything was swallowed by the darkness. On some nights, the full moon looks down from above. Its silvery glow hides the heavenly bodies. And since its time for the diwatas and encantos to collect their moon dew, the forest hums to the sound of enchanting songs. Nowadays, only the roar of truck engines can be heard late a night.

“I should have left when the diwatas decided to go.” A tear rolled down the dwarf’s cheeks. “I should have listened when they said, ‘soon the stars will be no more.’”

Turning around to the Balete, the duwende spoke his wish to see the stars again.  

“Just this once, please.” the dwarf whispered.

And as if it was magic, all the lights in the city went off. The hillside was dark again as it once was. Even the valley below, not a single light bulb flickered.

The duwende couldn’t believe his eyes. He was seeing constellations instead of blinking airplane lights. The red planet was pinned in the heavens. And even Venus, the second brightest object in the sky appeared just below a grinning moon.





The duwende was laughing and crying at the same time! His gleeful voice echoed across the valley. The blackout lasted only a few minutes but for the dwarf, it doesn’t matter. His wish came true and he could now return inside his mound.   

Like the heavenly bodies, the still chuckling dwarf disappeared when the bright lights once again flooded the sky.

Meanwhile, in a faraway valley, where not a single human has ever set foot, one can still hear fairy songs at night. Without an artificial light to fend off the darkness, a billion stars light up the sky.


Credits:

Duwende
Stars



My Christmas Clean-Up


As we slog through that often near-comatose period that exists between Christmas and the New Year, it’s a bit of a chore to concentrate on the job at hand. Luckily, my holidays (which went very well, thank you for asking) included at least one incident that made me think of home solutions and common things that homeowners find themselves dealing with even when they are attempting to be festive and care-free.

The harbinger of this solution was Guinness (formerly known as Gus), the pint-size French bulldog that became my mother’s ward earlier this year. I am thoroughly convinced that Guinness has some goblin DNA in him but those who have seen French bulldogs will no doubt attest to the impossibilities of not playing with them and showering them with attention. So it was, while my girlfriend was teasing poor Guinness with a rope toy as my father and me were preparing a salad, the little quasi-goblin canine decided to relieve himself quickly on the carpet, for seemingly little more reason than over-excitement.

When I was growing up in my mother’s home, my dog (Bishop, a golden Labrador) was prone to these accidents as well and as such, my grandmother taught both my mother and me the ins and outs of avoiding bacteria buildup and that inevitable, unbearable smell that comes along with it. The tools needed were, and still are, quite common: paper towels, white vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, rubber gloves, a scrubbing brush, dish detergent and baking soda. Some current websites also call for a black light but I have done without, so I’m certain you can too.

Use the paper towels to do an initial soak-up of all the urine; depending on how you handle bodily fluids, the rubber gloves may be useful here.  When most of the urine has been soaked up, empty half a bottle of white vinegar into a bucket and match that amount with room-temperature water. Use a scrubbing brush to get this solution down into the fibers and get rid of any collected bacteria. Then, use the paper towels (or a wet-dry vacuum, if it’s available) to dry up the area once again and once dry, sprinkle some baking powder on top of the area. Pour a mixture of one cup of hydrogen peroxide and a teaspoon of dish detergent (Palmolive works best) over the baking soda and use the scrubbing brush once more to work the mixture into the fibers.

After you dry the last bit, the bacteria should be gone for good and your carpet should be in the clear until the next time your pup can’t keep him/herself in check. To be completely honest, this isn’t a family secret: most professional maids know this technique inside out. Nevertheless, it’s a nice process to have in your back pocket, especially if you’re a pet owner and have extensive carpeting in your house. It might very well save your next Christmas from smelling like the inside of a busy kennel.   

Get Safe Investment Information from the NJ Bureau of Securties

Several weeks ago we offered a program on Safe Investing provided by the New Jersey Bureau of Securities which is part of the Division of Consumer Affairs in the Office of the Attorney General.  The presenter left some information for us to share with the public, which you can find in a binder labeled “Investment Information” at the Information Desk, but I wanted to take a minute to summarize what the binder contains and what other information is available from the Bureau.   

The first and foremost purpose of the presentation was to alert the public that this office exists and to let you know what services they perform to assist the residents of New Jersey to make wise and safe investments.  In their literature, they say, “This is the government agency that regulates the sale of securities to and from the state and regulates those selling securities.  The Bureau encourages investors to be cautious when investing since securities fraud takes new victims every day and the scams change as often as the headlines on the front page of the news.” 
One of the fliers in the binder gives an overview of the Bureau and what information is available in their website at www.njsecurities.gov.  There are some very useful investor education booklets that are free to print or download; a few examples of this information will be included in the binder for in-library use.  These materials can help the consumer make safe and wise investments by revealing common methods employed by successful investors.  These are some of the available titles:  Five Keys to Investing Success, The Basics for Investing in Stocks, A Primer for Investing in Bonds, Mutual Finds: Maybe All You’ll Ever Need, Where to Invest Your College Money and Maximize Your Retirement Investments.  They also have a booklet titled Getting Help With Your Investments that provides all the information you need to find and work with reputable brokers and financial advisers and a booklet that the speaker left for the public, The Essential Guide to Safe Investing. 
Also on their website is an interactive online game appropriate for adults and kids called “Avoiding Investor Scams.”   See how well you do at trying not to be ripped off by shady advisers by playing this entertaining and educational game. 
The Bureau also provides free background information about those selling you securities.  You can contact the Bureau at their toll-free number 1-866-I-Invest (1-866-446-8378) or email your questions to askbureauofsecurities@lps.state.nj.us.  They caution consumers from getting pressured into investing or even giving out personal information about you and your current investments by agreeing to attend a Free Lunch Seminar.  “According to AARP studies, over 6 million seniors over the age of 55 have attended Free Lunch Seminars over the past three years.  And according to a study by the Investor Protection Trust, about 7.3 million Americans over the age of 65 have been victim to financial fraud – that breaks down to one out of five being victimized.”  They remind you that investment scams come in many varieties and if something looks too good to be true, it probably is! 
There is one final tip sheet (also included in the binder) that the Bureau has provided called “The Top Ten Investment Traps” that lists investments that you should probably avoid to insure that you don’t get scammed.  Stop at the Information Desk next time you are at the library and review the useful information in the Binder labeled Investment Information.  It could keep you from losing your savings by making poor choices or dealing with unscrupulous brokers.

Barneys X-MAS wish list





1)Givenchy Zip Ankle Boots 2)Haider Ackermann Printed Croc Riding Boots 3)Ann Demeulemeester lace-up wedge 4)Haider Ackermann Croc Leather Boots 5)Givenchy knit dress


I don't usually do Christmas wish list but barneys is having such a wonderful sale right now that a girl just couldn't resist. Santa brought me one of these babies, but it was the wrong size so I'll share it with you once the new one arrives in the mail. I could easily make that knit dress for myself (and I probably will make a version of it) so I can tell you now, that's not it. Which do you guys like the best?



Cartography Of Veins




It all started when JC sent an SMS asking for directions.

"Hala Baaaboo." The message read. "Yung friend ko di alam pano umuwi sa kanila. Haha. Pano ba magtaxi papunta jan sa area? Sanay kasi na may driver. Lol."

I sent a reply asking my partner where his friend will be coming from. As much as I would like to help, her whereabouts is needed so I can tell exactly the streets she must pass through.

"Alam na daw nya pag andun na sya sa area. She just needs to get there. Manggagaling siyang Rockwell. Let's say papunta na lang jan sa inyo pano?"

Instincts hint that something is odd about his statement. It seems like someone is cooking up a plan. But rather feel nosey about the hypothetical inquiry, I opened my desktop's Google Map to plot on the digital chart the taxi's swiftest trajectory.

"Tell your friend to cross the Rockwell bridge." I instructed. "Dire-diretsuhin lang nung driver yung Barangka drive until he reaches Nueve de Pebrero..."

As I traced with my fingers the streets on my computer's flat screen, I remember those late nights when I used the same passage to get to Makati from the gym in Shaw. Cheesy as it may sound, but those roads were my direct link to JC when he used to work in one of the office towers along Ayala Avenue.

Somehow, I felt the memory's distance. Like a footnote at the end of a page, the disused shortcut had become a mere reference for someone whose sense of direction require a little fine-tuning.

"Once you find Shaw Boulevard, turn right on the street across Puregold. There's a Shell gas station next to it. Dirediretso na yun going to Wilson."

JC asked several more questions that put my office within walking distance of his friend's residence. But gullible as I am, by then I was able to suppress whatever doubts still lingering in my head. Drowned with thoughts of the gym, and with my resolve further weakened by my inability to think clearly because of sleeplessness, I realized the ruse only when my phone started humming its melody to tell an incoming call.

It was a missed call from Baabaa. Immediately, I left my workstation to return his call.

"How's my baabaa, still in Greenbelt?"

"Wait... choppy ikaw, can you find an open spot where the signal is much clearer?" I left the narrow corridor to walk towards the building's lower-level rooftop. JC still grumbled about the phone's poor reception.

"Teka asan ka ba?" I asked.

"Andito sa baba ng office niyo..."



From a passing mention of a female ex-blockmate who lives within the vicinity, to finding my partner standing outside the building with a faint smile on his face, was beyond words. Even the poor reception was faked hoping I would show up in one of the building's balcony. Alas, our room faces the sunrise direction.

Heaven knows how difficult it is to find my office, especially for an outsider who doesn't know the maze of streets along the peripheries of Mandaluyong and San Juan.

The effort alone speaks of JC's wonderous intentions. But to receive something like this, as Christmas present:







Makes you see his triumphant arrival the fruit of his quiet journey, steady and straight to my heart.



MERRY CHRISTMAS



I would like to thank each and every one of my readers out there, 50% percent of the reason I post is because you take the time to read. I hope that everyone has a happy and loving holiday. I'm pretty blessed to be surrounded by the people I love during this time of year and I don't take that for granted because I know that there are many of you who aren't. Today I saw so many homeless people sleeping in a parking lot across from the Fed-ex where my "perfect present" was being held. It made my heart hurt something awful. I'm going to make it a goal to make a less fortunate persons day today and I think you should too.


Panahon Na Naman




and on this day 
a child was born
and he taught people
what love is all about.




words cease to tell my deeds 
this time.
all I'm saying is that love
always return in kind.

Merry Christmas.


COLLECTION/VIDEO: capsule collection photos shoot





Again, the best way to watch this Video is on the Vimeo site because that video is in HD. I am not a member (maybe I'll get membership for Christmas) so I am unable to embed in HD.

Photographer: Jamie Hopper
Model: Allison Fialkowski -SUPREME models
MUA: Jay 
SS/12 capsule collection: Azede Jean-Pierre




Guilt Pangs



Where does this torrent of remorse come from?

As far as I can tell, the Mugen twitter account remains a conveyor of directions as to where to send relief goods bound for Mindanao. 

Same with the blog, a satirized news article that includes a sexy photo of a naked rescuer piggy-backed the list of relief agencies accepting donations for flood victims.   

I left scathing remarks against a leader who seemed ambivalent to his bosses' suffering. It became news the next morning. The president flew to the province to see for himself the damage wrought by Sendong to Cagayan De Oro and Iligan cities on the same day.

And using my postpaid number, I donated money to Red Cross. The family gave away five bags of used clothes to the Social Welfare Department. These too would reach Cagayan and Iligan in a week or two. 

Blankets are to follow.


I guess this is what happens when you are being encircled by people who run relief operations day and night.

You couldn't help but feel that you could have done more.

And judging my response to Ondoy - the initiative, the passion and the energy to make it not only to the busy warehouses of Sagip Kapamilya but to the muddied streets of Calumpang, Marikina on the third day, my actions today shows a tinge of indifference.

They say it's the compassion that counts.

But that's not how I see it.

Maybe, the flood of guilt tumbles not from inaction. But from choosing to heed other preoccupations rather than staring right in the face the urgency of the day.




Quick Class: Float Ball


A short post today, nothing fancy. We’ve been working on some videos over at Click and Improve and while writing a few of them, one thing that came up was common things that people see but don’t know the use for. One thing that came up, as I was talking to a NYC plumber at a recent meeting, was how the mechanisms in the back of the toilet tank work together and how a kink in their process is what tends to be the cause of a runny toilet. This led me to the floater ball, which I remember used to be completely alien to me; that black ball in the toiet tank that looks like an inflatable croquet ball. Not to get too gross, but the winter months can be some battle-test weeks for your toilet and this was something that seemed to be an easy DIY repair job to go through.

The float ball sits on the water and when the toilet flushes, it drops, causing the float arm to raise the valve plunger and bring fresh water into the tank until the floatball is floating again. The most common effect of a defective float ball is a running toilet, and there are a few things that can cause this. The float ball can be cut or leaky, which can cause it to not float properly. There’s also a possibility that the float ball is rubbing up against the side of the tank, which can cause a tear or make it so the lever doesn’t lift properly.

The most common solution is replacement, as float balls are relatively cheap. Regardless, you should replace it immediately, as it links directly with the mechanism that ensures that you can flush your toilet properly. To replace it, you’ll have to turn the water shutoff valve to the toilet and flush the toilet to empty the tank. Use a pair of pliers to take off the rod arm and float ball. Turn the rod arm counterclockwise to remove the defective float ball before threading the new float ball on the rod arm and tighten it. Turn the water back on to the toilet and reattach the rod arm, bending it to reach a desirable level to meet the water level.

Okay. So, admittedly, some of that stuff takes a bit more effort than I led on, but plumbing in general tends to be a craft that even the most experienced of practitioners are consistently refining and honing. But this is a good thing to have in your back pocket when the sound of swirling water is keeping you up to hours that would make Santa cock an eyebrow. 

Scam Outs

As the hours tick away towards the holiday weekend, I find myself taking a look more and more at reports of contracting scams, which is upsetting to say the least. There is, I suppose, a certain glee in knowing that I take pride in my work and customer service, as do a great deal of the NYC plumbers I work with, in contrast but that’s mostly pride and doesn’t really help the hundreds of reports from victims of contractor malfeasance that come in daily. During the holidays, when you’ve just spent a large portion of your paycheck on Batman: Arkham City and that Justin Bieber concert movie (on blu-ray, no less), it’s doubly disappointing.

An article published yesterday in the Washington Post spurred my interest in these matters. A technology officer out of Great Falls, along with some other swindlers, decided to bilk the Army Corps. of Engineers out of nearly $20 million while working for Nova Datacom. The scam involves kickbacks (never thought I’d get to use that word), conspiracy and a web of bribes reaching back to 2007. It’s a quagmire, to put it politely, but the truth is that I react far more strongly to local, smaller-scale scams, seeing as it tarnishes the name of all service providers, including and maybe especially NYC handymen.

One of the more perplexing reports I read was from a customer in Buffalo, complaining about a home improvement contractor who was working without permits and boasted a Better Business Bueau accreditation that they did not earn. A fake BBB accreditation shows a disturbing lack of confidence in how one works, since the accreditation itself doesn’t really guarantee that they have been evaluated or endorsed by the BBB. The lack of permits, however, is a charge that should garner genuine legal action and can be seen as real old-fashioned criminal behavior.

Lack of a proper permit may seem like a small thing but to be frank, its one of the most potentially expensive problems you can find yourself in. Not having the right permit can legally cause an inspector or neighbor to file a suit and cause you to pull down any work you’ve done and start again from scratch, causing thousands of dollars potentially. My own mother fell prey to this when she built her front porch. And, to be honest, getting an inspector to come by and tell you what you can do is not really what you would call a hassle. Most inspectors want to help customers understand their project better and far from the bureaucratic task masters that more seedy contractors make them out to be.

In a perfect world, every contractor would have this stuff down but as that customer in Buffalo would tell you, this is not the case. Ask your contractors and service providers about these things, make sure they have it covered before you start in on any project. Otherwise, you might find yourself in the middle of tearing down that new rec room the day after Christmas, as your kids enjoy their presents out of your sight. 

OUTFIT: print in black & white




This is another one of my takes on the print trend, only this time in black & white. Also I updated my Etsy shop today and below are a few of the new items! happy shopping.






You Should Be a Fan of Audiobooks

If you have a long commute like I do, or if you are planning to take a long family car trip, you should take advantage of either the books-on-CD (or cassette) that we have to check out or go to the ListenNJ link on our webpage (www.sbpl.info/digitalaudiobooks.htm) to download additional titles.  I have an hour drive each way to and from work and in order to avoid the inane conversation and the thousands of commercials on the radio, I have become a major fan of audiobooks.  But being an avid audiobook user, you will find that you have a few other factors to consider when selecting your reading material. 

Not only do I consider the author and subject of a book, but I also pay attention to the reader (or readers) of the story and the inclusion of special effects.  I have over time come to recognize certain readers as brilliant and others as being less than adequate.  And now that there are downloadable recordings of books, this becomes more important than ever. 

There are about a dozen major publishers of audiobooks – Audible, Books-on-Tape, Brilliance Audio, Hachette Audio, HarperCollins, HighBridge, Listening Library, Penguin, Random House, Recorded Books, Simon and Schuster and Spoken Word.  There are, of course, many more than these that publish audiobooks but these are the ones that we generally carry since they are available from our approved vendor.  Most of the major publishers use theatrically trained actors, but I have recently heard that there are recordings of books in the public domain available that are read by a computer generated voice!  I can’t imagine my telephone voicemail reading a book to me…ugh.  I find the publishers that use actors as readers, of course, the most enjoyable, but not always.  For instance, there is an actor that reads some mysteries that adopts a voice like the narrator of a “film noir” type B-movie that can be extremely irritating after just a few chapters. 

I also have found that a book read by the author can be the kiss of death.  Even though it is the author’s own words, they are often incapable of adding the inflections and modulations that are critical to an enjoyable “read.”  The readers that I most admire are George Guidall, who reads for Recorded Books (see http://www.georgeguidall.com/) and Lisette Lecat, who reads the Ladies No. 1 Detective Agency books by Alexander McCall Smith.  George Guidall holds the record for having read the most unabridged books – over 900.  Because he has this kind of clout, he gets to select just the books that he wants to read.  Did you know that you can search in the catalog for your favorite reader by putting their name in as the author?  In the case of George Guidall, this will bring up a list of books that sure to be enjoyable.  But watch the number of disks – he just finished reading Don Quixote which is in two parts and is overall 35 discs that runs for over 40 hours.  Even George Guidall’s skillful reading couldn’t coax me to complete that book.  And it is wonderful to have someone like Lisette Lecat, with her exotic accent, pronounce all the Setswana words and place names in the Precious Ramotswe series.  The reader of the HighBridge recording of The Secret Life of Bees, Jenna Lamia, is also a remarkable reader who is able to cover the entire range of accents, ages and nationalities of the characters and even sing the songs that are written in the story. 

I don’t care for the recordings that use special effects, particularly when I am listening in my car.  Popular added noises are gun shots and sirens, which can be very disconcerting when you are driving.   I am also not a big fan of books where there are too many readers.  I prefer the readers who are able to use a separate and distinct voice for each of the characters, like Jim Dale does masterfully in all of the Harry Potter books. 

As to downloading audiobooks from ListenNJ for use in your car, your car stereo will have to be able to play what is stored on your iPod or other MP3 player.  I don’t believe it is possible to burn a CD from your computer for use in your car, unless your car stereo is able to play MP3 files.   I have seen people driving with their earbuds in, but that is not only dangerous, it is illegal - you need to be able to hear a siren or a horn.   The newer cars are often equipped with either iPod docks or plug-ins to attach your mobile devices, but there are other adaptors you can purchase that will allow you to hear your   downloaded music and books without having to actually replace your sound system.  The simplest adaptor is one that plugs into a cassette player, if your car still has a cassette player!  There is a great tutorial on the ListenNJ site as to how to download the proper format for your device.  You just need your library card number and PIN and identify yourself as a patron of the “Libraries of Middlesex Automation Consortium (LMxAC).”  

I hope that you give audiobooks a try.  Yes, a lot of people think that this what their grandparents listen to, but in a recent review of audiobooks in Publisher’s Weekly, Parul Sehgal pointed out, “we turned to audiobooks for escapism and edification—and we got more than we bargained for. The industry took the business of entertaining us very seriously and readers turned in unforgettable performances.”  Enjoy!

Relief




YUMMY HOT KUYA, BAYANI NG CDO








Tinatayang hindi bababa sa isang libo katao ang namatay, karamihan mga bata, matapos ang magdamagang buhos ng ulan na nagdulot ng pagbaha sa Cagayan De Oro at Iligan City, Sabado ng madaling araw.

Bilyon bilyong pisong halaga ng ari-arian at pananim ang kasamang naanod nang umapaw ang Cagayan at Tubod rivers. Tinatayang aabutin pa ng susunod na taon bago makabangon sa delubyo ang mga residente ng nasabing bayan.

Sa kabila ng mapait na trahedya, nagawa pa rin ng pahayagang The Philippine Daily Inquirer mangiliti ng imahinasyon nang maglabas ito ng litrato ng isang makinis, artistahin at pagkasarap-sarap na binata sa kanilang front page kahapon.

Ang nasabing binata, na lumabas sa December 18 issue ng diyaryo ay nakuhaang nakahubad at karga-karga ang isang batang babae habang sila ay patawid sa rumaragasang baha.

Ayon kay Luningning Saqnioco, isang Gay Sociology expert, inaasahang magiging viral hit ang litrato ni kuya.

"Day, sa dami ba naman ng mga baklang sabik sa laman ngayong kapaskuhan, hindi malayong siya na ang bagong pantasya ng bayan."

Sinang-ayunan ito ng isang tabloid reporter na napabalitang suki ng mga sinehan sa Cubao at Avenida.

"Siney yung julakis? Bet ba niya lumabas sa bagong pelikula ni Manay Josie? (isang indie film producer) Kukunin ko shaa." Sabay walk-out para sundan at sutsutan ang isang matipunong security guard papasok sa loob ng pampublikong palikuran.

Iba-iba rin ang nakalap naming reaksyon sa kilalang social networking site na Twitter:

"Ay, para siyang tasty bread na lumulutang sa kape." Ayon kay @bekingeseako.

"Ayos! May bago na naman akong inspirasyon bago matulog!" Sabi naman ni @goldenboy75

"Para siyang isang basang sisiw na nangangailangan ng kalinga't aruga." Kumento naman ni @miss_cougar na kaagad ring ni-retweet (kinopya) ng isa pang twitter user na nagngangalang @missterioussgirl.

Pinilit naming kuhanin ang panig ng Inquirer, kasama na rin ang pangalan, tirahan at shoe size ni kuya. Ang mga detalyeng aming makakalap ang siya sanang magbibigay daan sa mabubuting loob na handang mag-abot ng tulong pinansyal, cellphone at pati na rin kabuhayan showcase sa binata.

Hanggang sa mga oras na ito ay wala pa ring reply sa aming text ang news editor ng nasabing pahayagan.



Insensitive




Most certainly, the mood wouldn't be this festive
if the deluge happened in Imperial Manila.







For the first time,
I am beginning to question the leader
I voted into office.



Design & Outfit: Mountain Lamb

 Dress: SS/11 -my design, Coat: Persian lamb fur -my design



To watch in HD click the VIMEO icon on the bottom right, YouTube Version click here .

synopsis: walking up a mountain wearing dress from SS/11 and Persian Lamb fur coat that I designed; you have to watch to see what else happens.

DIRECTED BY: Joseph Veazey & Azede Jean-Pierre
SHOT BY: Joseph Veazey
EDITED BY: Azede Jean-Pierre 

Ascent







hurled into heaven;
a star you have
become.



And Here We Go...



Our introductory video is up and it's a humdinger! Check out this video and the other two we made. More to come soon!

A Decade Later


4:00 pm
LRT 2 Pureza Station


Hey Jay,

How does it feel like turning a decade older?

I'm off to Santa Clara to give thanks for a meaningful and blessed year. While waiting for the train to come, I thought of walking down the memory lane, hoping I could get in touch with you again. And you know what, I vaguely remember how your birthday was ten years ago. Was it the one you got so drunk and made mom and dad upset?

You caught them by surprise, kid. They don't know you already sleep with alcohol at such age.

Besides, you never had plans that day. Because a few days later, your class will hold a Christmas Party. You took great pains for it to happen.

You said, "kahit pa-birthday niyo na lang." Since its your last year in school, you want everyone to show up and enjoy.



I'm sure you had thoughts of how your life is ten years after turning twenty.

You ask:

Did you succeed your dad and became a tabloid publisher?

Did you run your family's security agency business and made it prosper?

Did you marry your girl and became a "trendy millionaire by 27" like what was written on your college yearbook.

Big plans eh?

You saw life through a rose-colored stained glass window. The future maybe unseen, but you know it will be good!



I remember even before, you don't throw a party on your birthday. Not even a tagayan session at home. A quick trip to the Santissimo Rosario parish with your girlfriend for a quiet reflection and your day is done.

But your tropa - the PGC - had insisted to have a drink after your class was dismissed. "Birthday mo naman eh," they cheered. "Minsan lang to," said another. You first turned down the idea, but eventually you gave in.

Now that I see it through the train window - as it crosses Edsa, you had a choice of stomping it down - and get on with your solitude. That moment of giving-in, somehow, put in front of the mirror your ways of coming up with decisions. You played passive as default. Seldom did you make choices and when you do, it is laced with doubts and hesitations.

But you made very good ones too!

Going back to the evening of December 15, 2002, your childhood friend gatecrashed your little drinking session. He presented himself as an expert tanggero and after countless shots of Ginebra San Miguel, you lost track of time and the next thing I remember, you were slumped on the ground.



After being carted off to Neverland, I'm sure you had twisted dreams of becoming the undisputed sovereign of your family business. Though you know within that you never like being surrounded with hot, sexy starlets, it doesn't hurt to know that your coffers never get empty.

Sadly kid, I'm afraid your fantasies never took place. In less than a year after leaving college, a series of tragedies struck your family. First was your dad going into hiding. He was accused of sending someone to his death. Next, the business had its computers and printing machines taken away by the authorities. It was too obscene for the prudish and was thought of corrupting the minors - when they get their hands on them. We will never able to rise up after that raid. And when dad was able to breathe new life into the newspaper, he said bye-bye to this world a week after it resumed operations.

He died just when your cold war was beginning to thaw.

There was no choice but to sit on his broken throne. You were plucked from another company (you abandoned your post at your dad's company after some disagreements made you realize you cannot work for free.) and found the once mighty tabloid now swimming in debt. All it took for the newspaper to sink was one summer, and then its over.

The tabloid may have had several comebacks, but never will it be yours again.

As for matters of the heart, you began crossing fences shortly after turning twenty. Blame the Internet for the Lavender Spring, but you saw it coming way way back. You will have three boy relationships. You will spend five years with one of them. The third will make a phone call and say "Happy Birthday" exactly a minute after you've turned thirty.

You will discover what contentment means with him.

Returning to that fateful night, as you tried to get up and meet your parents waiting at the dining table, the next ten years will replay the scenes of the struggle.

Your savings was almost wiped out during the first five years of the decade. You jumped from one job to another, only to settle in a career not far from the one you were groomed to take. You were accepted in UP Diliman, and was able to join their Creative Writing program.

Short of thesis, you decided to put your academics on hold while you sorted out the other realms of your life.

I remember, dad always tells us to stay healthy. We were blessed with faulty genes that no matter how we aspire for good health, heart ailments and diabetes trail not far behind.

It's a good thing you thought of enrolling in a gym at 26. More than reasons of vanity, the long and fruitful fitness tradition has allowed you to stay out of reach of our ancient maladies.

Even though you know, they are catching up.



Well Jay, these sums up your life. I could have said more, but this piece is getting lengthy. Besides, its getting more difficult to ruminate especially when you're walking along White Plains avenue with cars facing head on.

To be fair, the decade wasn't that bad. As I said earlier, though seldom did you make you own decisions, the ones you did are the finest. First, you may have inadvertently liberated so many other guys in the closet when you accepted your absolute attraction with boys. I will not go into details, but surely you know how sharp your pen is. (no pun intended)

You might not earn much (and you seem lagging behind the career race) but at least, you get to lead and look after a dozen people at work. You are also under the good graces of the boss.

Lastly, you may not have found a career in the newspaper industry. But at least, you have a very strong, quasi-anonymous online presence. And you get to write science articles for small children too!

I don't know any loftier accomplishment than that.

What I'm telling you Jay is that no matter how you see your last ten years as a glass half-full, it doesn't look that worse than showing up at the dining table drunk and wasted. Your mom and dad bought food pa naman for you to feast.

But let me stop reminding you of what happened that evening and focus on why there's a need to reach out.

I guess writing back is my way of telling, of telling my future self my state of mind on a breezy, late afternoon of December 15, 2011.

Sure, my accomplishments were modest and I got slightly piqued having to walk all the way from Santa Clara to Ortigas just to hear myself talk.

But this act of walking, of this silly writing to a boy who was intoxicated on his twentieth birthday, if it carries any weight, is my way of telling the future that I'm willing to take long journeys on foot to get there.

To my destination.

For when you sum our lives from that night of worthless abandon to where I stand today, the wind tells me, I'm back from where I started.

Only now, I'm fully aware of my senses.

I hope, the next time I will write this way, Jay, you will find yourself on top of a scenic vista overlooking a breathtaking landscape. Better if you remain alone, as long as you're well-accomplished in ways you have dreamed of.

I hope you will get to finish your masters, and stay fit. May you never give up the Olympic Bars and Steel plates all because you thought, you had enough of weightlifting.

And I sincerely wish that even though you never get to see your teenage dreams fulfilled, may your sublime aspirations of becoming a teacher, a crusader of the planet, a devoted and supportive partner be realized.

May you succeed in putting your house in order.


Just so you know, I kept the bottle as souvenir.


Because despite failing miserably in laying down and showing off your earthly feats, I can tell deep down that you have served your Creator well.


In the silence of Baaspace.


Happy Birthday...  Joms.



The Trouble with Christmas Lists


It’s unanimous: I am an absolute pain to shop for. The latest ballot cast on this subject came from my darling girlfriend who opined that not only me, but also any NYC handyman or service provider is near impossible to shop for. I inquired as to how she came to this conclusion and her reason is something I find slight fault in: “You can fix things and you purposefully don’t own that much.”  

What’s my main complaint? This completely dismisses more experiential options, such as a dinner at a nice restaurant or a weekend romp up to Vermont, just for examples. But at the end of the day, my girlfriend has a point: at the end of the day, Id rather be home with her, in pajama pants, eating pizza and watching a recorded TCM movie than get dolled up to try yet another pretty good sushi place that got a good review in Time Out. I find it unlikely that you’d find a NYC handyman with an opinion that differs sharply from that.


Still, she’s big on forcing me into new experiences, which I’m grateful for, and just today, she suggested two things that I can’t say I’d be sad to receive: a day at a spa or quarterly maid service for one year. (She also suggested a gym membership, but I told her quite openly that I already have one gym membership that is barely used and am in no need for a second one.) I am, admittedly, leaning towards the maid service, seeing as I have never really had a “spa treatment” and am somewhat dubious as to whether I will enjoy it in the least. On the other hand, with the exception of my kitchen and bathroom, I am a bit of a compulsive organizer and cleaner, a trait I believe I get from my father.

Of course, this is omitting the obvious truth: I don’t really need much of anything at this point in my life and am happy with how everything is going right now. So, sure, sometime in January, I will return home and my stove top will no longer have those small specks of dried tomato soup will be gone and the tiles of my shower will look whiter than my bicuspids have ever been and, subsequently, I won’t feel like I’m bathing in germs. But at the end of the day, if my gift was a day off with a few good movies and some time on my Nintendo, I’d be genuinely content. And I suppose that does make me a pain to shop for.   

Hoarder




I will not deny that I sometimes see my house like this:




Yes, a little close to that.

Unfortunately, I am in a rush since it is time for my general cleaning tradition.

Stories can wait for another time.

I just want to tell that if there is one soul who has the audacity to draw the line, it's me. And the more trash the hoarders bring, they can expect a reaction so brutal that thoughts of sentimentality will be thrown out of the window.

If it is the only way to clean up the house and give-away stuff we never need in the first place.

Desperate times need desperate measures. Plans are set and they won't know what hit them. Meanwhile, all I can do at the moment is start the overhaul within the confines of my room. I may not be able to convince the rest to follow. At least, I live my own rule.



How to set achievable New Year's resolutions

It is that time of year again when people look at what they accomplished this past year and try to set some goals to see if they can do things “better” in the New Year. Are you one of those people? I heard recently that only about 10% of us still do this! Maybe that is because, as part of our super achieving society, we try to set too many goals. Or maybe the goals we set are unrealistic.

Here are a few tips, to help you set some goals at the New Year or at any time of the year, that I learned from Christi Hegstad, Ph.D., from MAP Professional Development, Inc., a life coach who has a website at http://www.meaning-and-purpose.com/ I assume most people have heard about setting “S.M.A.R.T.” goals. [Doran, G. T. (1981). "There's a S.M.A.R.T. way to write management's goals and objectives." Management Review, Volume 70, Issue 11(AMA FORUM), pp. 35-36.] This concept has been around since this article was written on 1981 and many people have quoted it, refined it, built on it and some have even rejected it. The five steps in setting S.M.A.R.T. goals are: 1) make your goals Specific, 2) make your goals Measurable, 3) make them Attainable or realistic, 4) make them Relevant and 5) set a Time frame in which to achieve them.

This is a lot to do when thinking about New Year’s resolutions but some thought along these lines is necessary if you are to achieve them and therefore, enjoy the success that such a task can give you. To make sure that you have good, achievable goals, you should start early. Don’t just pick a few vague ideas out of the back of your mind while partying on New Year’s Eve. Start now and make them realistic. First, you should prioritize. Look at where you are in life to determine what is important to you right now. Dr. Hegstad says to think about “what positive change would make the biggest difference in your life.”

Don’t set too many goals. Be specific about what you want to accomplish and make a time frame part of the specification of the goal. Make the goal measurable, attainable and relevant. For example, don’t just say you want to loose weight, say something like you will lose a pound a week until you have lost “x- number” of pounds. A goal phrased in this way is specific, measurable, realistically possible, high on your priority list (to make it relevant) and set in a time frame. Remember, you can’t improve all areas of your life at once. Pick the areas that are most important to you at this time in your life and know that you will get to the other aspects in time.

Once you have set two or three of these specific goals, make sure that you track your progress. Don’t make an easy goal unattainable by complicating the tracking progress. You don’t need to record specifics (unless you want to). Just marking in your calendar that you did what you set out to do in the time frame you set to do it in (daily, weekly, monthly, etc.) is enough. But make sure that you are able to get an overall view of your progress so that you can make adjustments if necessary or bask in your success. Make it positive – put a smiley sticker in your calendar when the goal is met and see how many of those little reinforcements start to add up.

The final thing you can do to be successful is to get support for your efforts, either from a professional or from a trusted friend. “Make your goals public,” Dr. Hegstad advises, “so that someone else can helping you be successful.”

It has been said that the third Monday in January is the most depressing day of the year for many because that is the day they realize that they have already broken their resolutions perhaps because they were made in haste without proper planning or thought, or they were too vague or perhaps they were too unrealistic from the outset. If you do your homework, you won’t set yourself up for failure; you will make the third Monday and every Monday thereafter a celebration, knowing that you are making a positive difference in your life!

Have a happy and healthy New Year!

Educational Overload


 Just as I was getting excited about reports that construction work and jobs showing improvement so early into December, a huge gain upon even the optimistic November numbers, a good friend of mine in Washington, who once apprenticed under the same NYC electrician as me, forwarded me a small article. The article, published in the Washington Post, reports on a study that finds two-fifths of graduating high school students unprepared for both college and the workforce, or even work training. Research for the study was done at John Hopkins and the University of Arizona and the results, originally published last year while the study was still going on, are very interesting to say the least.

I am reminded of a scene from the first season of Treme, HBO’s luminous New-Orleans-set drama, in which an older man, a handyman by trade, boasts that he can build an entire home to a young hood who has attempted to rob him. It speaks to a truth that might have gotten glossed over in the age of self-confidence: Always know a trade. Indeed, to be totally clear, know something that no one can short-change. A NYC plumber has stores of knowledge that are practical and of constant use, and therefore will always be needed. I think of myself as a good writer but that can’t be proven, necessarily; it’s only believed to be true because enough people have reacted positively to the way I write.


 This isn’t to say that writing and other artistic endeavors are pointless. On the contrary, a temperament inclined towards artistry makes one humble, curious and forever more interesting in comparison to those who find such endeavors “pretentious” or, worse yet, “useless.” But as I told my young cousin only a few months ago, as she moved off to Portland to study poetry and work for an organic farmer, it’s important to know an everyday task back and forth, whether it be building a house or creating a detailed Excel spreadsheet. Of course, I’m inclined towards the former, seeing as remodeling and construction will never go out of style.

Indeed, the study concludes that a Bachelor’s Degree is often less crucial to a job hunt than an expertise in a STEM field, which often encourages higher-paying jobs even without a college education. It’s a hard issue to talk about, seeing as college was for me a rather revelatory experience, as I’m sure it is for most students. But, finally, there’s no rule saying you can’t go to college while also finding some level of expertise in a STEM field. It’s a compromise: an overwhelming amount of work for a small duration of your life, in exchange for a home to call your own where you have the option to either fix-up yourself or relax and pay some hard-working NYC handyman to fix for you. In essence, it gives you more options.  

Bricked



The self-controlled soul, who moves amongst sense objects, free from either attachment or repulsion, he wins eternal Peace.  

Bhagavad Gita


All I ever wanted was to make all traces of its previous owner disappear: The one-hundred and one photos, the movies stolen from Torrent, even the text messages and mp3s that take so much space on the gadget's memory. The Apple is already mine. I can take a bite whenever my heart desires. 

And so I swiped the touchscreen. Deleted the apps I will never use. Swiped again until I found the Settings icon. Selected the option "delete all data and restore factory settings." without checking on Google the consequence of my action. And then tapped the digital button to confirm it.

Only to realize - too late - that I should have pondered my moves over.

My mom warns me that I always get into trouble when I let impulse rule over. And this time, it reared its ugly head. By deliberately blocking any dissenting opinion over my purchase, over my overwhelming need to cover up the truth - that I bought something that was never mine in the first place, by letting my emotions and restlessness reign, I eventually ended up losing more than my stolen music player.

I returned home six hours later to find the gadget drained of power. I plugged it to a USB socket and waited for the device to come to life. 

It's been two days after my historic acquisition. Furion would still turn on - only to remain in boot mode - but never to reveal its lovely square apps again.

   

Furion



Hushed voices tell of a place where all electronic gadgets forcibly taken away from their hosts are sold.

There, pickpockets and robbers turn ambulant vendors. Their makeshift stalls line up a busy strip. It is where flies come together to inspect their wares; eager to get the best deal, knowing somehow, what are laid before them came from someone else.

But such words are never spoken.

This shitty truth was avowed to me by a colleague. Someone, who in his past life clawed out of the dregs. At the back of my head, going there is the closest I could exact as revenge. Maybe too, my Ipod Nano found itself peddled in one of the stalls there. 

I would like to retrieve it with cash.

"Ingat ka papunta dun." It was from my agent.

So I went to Avenida in search of the blackest market. Dressed down to my house garments, I even left my phone and wallet to ensure my possessions are spared. 

It was easy to fit in. The sidewalk was packed with people. Most were blue collar workers off to see if their wages could afford them a worn down phone. There were Nokias and Motorolas, I even spotted a touch-screen Samsung and a bunch of China-made Cherry phones.

A stall sells digital cameras. I wonder how it was snatched from its owner. A hold-up maybe? What if it was pawned? There were even laptops at drop down prices. Displayed for all to see, my heart wishes of amiable partings. But all I could hear are the cries and woes of their past owners. 

I moved from one stall to the next with a heavy heart.

And then, like a silver lining at the tail of a cold front, I caught glimpse of sunshine. Square in shape, silver in color. It was the same Nano I lost. 

I picked it up, hovered over the home button with my sweaty finger. I had to see what songs are kept in its repository. Rihanna, Goo Goo Dolls. Not a single Electronica. I think there was Eminem as well, and a slew of punk bands. Close enough, but those weren't my songs. The Nano was owned by someone else. 

"Magkano po siya manong?" 

"Two thousand."

"Wala na pong tawad?"

"Sige P1,900." I was ready to haggle some more, or even check the other stalls just a few steps away from my prospect.

But just when I was about to move on, I saw another gadget. an Ipod Touch lying beside the Nano.

"16 GB yan"

"Magkano?" I prefer to withhold the price.

"Kaya niyo pa ibaba ang presyo?"

"Sige..."  

The bait was very tempting. Especially when I learned how the inferior Apple gadgets on the nearby stalls commanded a higher price. The one being offered had a defect. Yes, a major one now that I see it differently. But at that moment, I was easily swayed by a wagging finger. Leaving my phone behind denied me salvation from my own impulses.

"I will get it." It was too late to back off.

Drunk with the thought of having my first Apple, I went to the nearest ATM to withdraw some cash. It was worth half-a-month's pay. Something I could use to fund my holiday project. But my inner demons say otherwise. 

"It's time you level up."

"Think of it as a reward."

"You can use WIFI instead of your service provider's snail-paced WAP. Imagine how it would revolutionize your Social Media usage."

No questions asked. The demons have a point.

And so I returned to the vendor to see the iPod Touch for a final inspection. Guiltless of my ways of acquisition. Fearless with my unilateral decision. I handed over the cash as the product exchanged hands. Sliding it inside my pocket, I left the strip a conqueror.

It was a Pyrrhic victory.

"From now on, you will be Furion." I said to myself, smiling, while looking at the side mirror of the jeep.


And the sweet taste of hubris
lingered in his mouth.
Only to learn, too late
it was the same fit of arrogance that would 
lead to his downfall.
Less than a day later.



Incident Report



Mga alas-otso po ng gabi iyon nangyari. Naghahanap po ako ng gift wrapper at kahon sa Carriedo. May buhat po akong malaking plastic bag ng National Bookstore, samantalang puno naman po ng mga pinamili ang backpack ko. Hindi ko po napapansin ang mga tao. Naka-earphones po kasi ako at naka-full volume ang MP3 player. Nakikinig po kasi ako ng Trance music. Mabilis po ang mga pangyayari. Biglang na lang pong nawala yung sounds malapit kung saan naroon yung stall na ang tinda ay mga boxer shorts. Tapos pagtingin ko sa baba, yung earphone jack nasa labas ng bulsa ko. Mahirap man tanggapin pero doon pa lang, alam ko pong wala na ang iPod Nano ko. 


Cheap




I was checking my Gmail account when I came across an e-mail from the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf.





And you know what my first reaction was? "Shit, did CBTL came across my blog? Is that why they are offering me free coffee?" 

You see, I use that Gmail address for online correspondence. I also do business with Bentusi using that account. While Nuffnang sometimes seed my inbox with their lame promotions, seldom do they offer freebies. To make sure the invitation came from someone else, I tried to look at the sender field. 

What I found had put a big, big smile on my face.



I won't deny that I have this HD to become a social blogger. Yes, the ones who write glittery reviews of restaurants or creating a buzz on the Internet to endorse a certain product. I want to put my writing and SEO skills to good use - to the benefit of local entrepreneurs. Since the Souljacker generates quite a traffic I thought CBTL was subtly requesting me to spread their marketing campaign.

Who am I to put down their favor. After all, I don't recall a time staying in their coffee shop and sipping a warm cup of coffee.

This might be a good experience.



So I went to the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf website to claim my free drink. There was the mandatory registration, of course. And you must also let them dig into your Google contacts for their system to send invites to your "friends." 

"I will include you, you and you," I was telling myself while checking the box to pick among my contacts the ones to forward the offer.

"No you're just a fake account, erase. erase."

While in the process of selection, I figured how the announcement got into my email. Someone was exactly doing the same thing before he realized (if ever) how CBTL mines his online account for information.

"You dirty bastard! Anyway I got a freebie so who cares."

And with that, I gave away my closest friends' and colleagues' email addresses. They say I could claim my espresso at SM Megamall branch only. 

No exceptions.



I can live through the thought that I was hoodwinked by CBTL's promotion. The data mining procedure already defies the goal of creating good impressions. Besides, a free coffee at a certain branch? Isn't it too inconvenient for its customers? 

But you know what rubbed salt into the wound?   

A few minutes after sending my registration, another e-mail came. This time, it was a confirmation that I have truly sold my soul and allowed Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf to use me as a springboard to reach out to more people. Included in the email are instructions on how to claim the prize:

1. Only one couple will be allowed per person.
4. Redemption period is from December 1 - December 31.
5. Please print out this e-mail and present your valid ID. Print-outs without the following fields will not be accepted: from, to, date, subject, name, store and code.

Swear! I was short of saying, "at namigay ka pa sa lagay na yan!" after reading the last item. At a time when using paper is being frowned for environment reasons, the nerve of the one who came up with this idea to require patrons for print-outs. If he had only used his brain to think - digitally - he could have sent the authentication through SMS to make the process easier.

Conventional wisdom say that when you wish to give something for free, and generate goodwill, you don't put the receiver at a disadvantage.   

And so I tell you, I won't get caught going to Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf with the e-mail printout. I won't fall in line along with paying customers and show my ID to claim their giveaway. To hell with their coffee. I'm not too atat to taste it anyway. 

Besides, I could afford a Venti at Starbucks anytime my cravings demand.