Jap Nishi asked why I was so affected when Myrtle, the PBB Teen housemate suddenly became a "princess" on Twitter's trending topic this afternoon. I replied as a jest that I cannot accept Myrtle's mom becoming the "queen" of the Philippines. But his question, like a dagger forced deep into my skin left still unanswered fundamental questions. Do I dislike Myrtle, the PBB Teen housemate because I somehow favor Jai and Joj as the big winner? Do I find the budding love team between her and Yves quite disgusting (after seeing Myrves on my Twitter every time I go online) or do I find the girl utterly repulsive because of how her fans trash the trending topics of my favorite social media with their silly key phrases.

The answer is lost beneath the layers of self-denial, since a part of me says "minsan lang sila magiging jejemon, let them enjoy the experience." But when I am reminded of how pointless and shallow the effort is; of how Myrtle the cos player and Yves the twink are bound to become forgotten celebrities when the next Pinoy Big Brother season begins; of how devoted and rabid fans turn mindless, like a mob when leaders of the fan's club dictate the next key phrase to be tweeted over and over again until it becomes the next trending topic,

Then perhaps, I have answered Jap Nishi's question.

When kids these days waste their lives like this: 

instead of learning splendid things about the world, doing their homework for school, or at the very, very least, tweeting what activity they did, or musings they had before reconnecting to the web, then there's something very wrong with how our next generation perceives life.

I am no fan of reality shows because of their tendency to overrate ordinary people. But when these reality shows begin to twist its audience's idea of fame and fortune, we might be, unknowingly, turning the devoted but uninstructed young followers into mindless, thoughtless and dreamless, 


The horrors of the Craft Corner...

The times we are able to laugh ourselves silly make up for the times we want to cry. Preston and I thought we would just "fix up" the garage apartment that is eventually going to be my craft corner and live in there because it has air conditioning until the rest of the house was livable. Well, fixing up ended up getting coined "Shit-mageddon" (sorry mom) sad but true, just when we were replacing all of the trim in the freshly painted room, walls, ceiling and even concrete floor! Preston knocked one of the outlet covers off and dirt and what we thought was rodent feces came pouring out like hillbilly's out of a wet t-shirt contest at Hooters during NASCAR. Holy moly we were disgusted and horrified and everything in-between. So me, being the true pioneer woman I am started ripping out the sheet rock and to our udder dismay we were showered with what we thought were rodent pellets and dirt and spiders, and all kinds of other things. We were prepared, I'm going to try to figure out how to add a picture soon!

After ripping off all the sheet-rock, and fiberglass insulation, and dirt and other miscellaneous items we were ready to put new insulation and sheet rock up! WELL, Here's a lesson for all you men out there- Don't EVER listen to your future wife about how to hang sheet rock like Preston did. He, (being the sweet man he is) humored me and put the sheet rock in how it made sense to me- of course this was the wrong way to put it in! and he managed to fix it and made it all work.TIP FROM PRESTON: ALWAYS PUT IT IN HORIZONTAL STARTING FROM THE CEILING FIRST. (trust him, he's serious as a heart attack.

We got the Craft corner decently okay and then the bug man came out and let us know what we thought was poop, was actually huge roach eggs! HOLY MOLY! Not cool. We were horrified all over again and thoroughly disgusted. We however got over it with a shot of whiskey, and agreed that at least we don't have a rodent problem? (trying to make the best of things) and moved on; or at least we thought so. Right after this news and figuring out that we had been showered in dirt and roach eggs we turned (discouraged) to walk inside our 90 degree+ house and then we were shocked at the appearance or an opossum walking into the craft corner like he owned the place! Preston got the gun and showed him who was boss. Thank you second amendment right.

Pictures are to come if I can manage how to put them on here!

Shifting Perspectives

Put the blame squarely to the bed weather, or maybe to his sheer desire to get everyone's attention. But when Rick M.O. of Twitter suddenly posted a picture of his pinkish hard-on peeping out of his skimpy boxers, I was tempted to post a tweet saying, "have you really sunk so low?" 

I followed his twitter account not just because of his eye-candy physique, but because I was amazed when he made a stand so long ago that he won't pay attention to those - who see Twitter as an extension of their Grindr playground. Hindi ko alam with this people if its because of convenience, or expanding network, or perhaps, in their desire to out-guy one another, they take off every piece of clothing they wear until what's left is that flagpole between their legs. 

And then they flirt around.

Not only does it spoil the mystery, I personally find it cheap - unless you can reinforce it with an equally subversive attitude - like D. Dominik.

The latter is someone I don't follow. But his exploits ripple toward my shores thanks to the people in my social network. I may find his misdeeds quite amusing at certain moods. But his uncanny character will just remain a stuff of legends - one - that becomes a perfect conversation piece over a bottle of booze or a cup of coffee.

As for the issue of hormone-driven men showing off their jewels in places that are meant for a different kind of openness, of voyeurism, their behavior will always remain incomprehensible to me. For even though I had my time as a younger, show-off kid who used to take off his clothes while gyrating like a slut on a ledge, in a club known for its not-so-sleazy atmosphere and adrenaline inducing music, in words and deeds, I cannot remember revealing that thing I guard under my pants.

More than anything else, I may never understand these young men, not because I have embraced a life of quiet domestication. But because I have already gone through my own twisted, contorted phase, and emerged as someone with a changed perspective.

What makes their world spin no longer applies to me.

This Week At SBPL I Discovered … it’s never too late to wear a new hat.

Children are frequently encouraged to read as a way to encourage their future ambitions, but what about us grownups? Well, we can aspire too and we can do more than just read about it this summer at the South Brunswick Public Library.

Become a gourmand, an astronomer, an artist, and more!

Last week I attended a sandwich-making workshop at the Library and became a better cook! The demonstrator showed us the best way to cut an onion and choose the right cheese, not to mention how to make several great-tasting sandwiches. All the demonstrating and tasting was done right here in the Library.

Tomorrow (Tuesday, July 31, at 2 p.m.), we grown-ups can learn how to become artists in the Adult Summer Reading workshop Altered Books. Participants will supercharge their creative abilities by re-purposing old and unused books into sculptures and such.

On Aug. 7 (Tuesday at 2 p.m.) we can all become astronomers with a workshop by amateur astronomer/author/Princeton University Professor Robert Vanderbei.

While these are summer reading programs, there are similar opportunities for adults at the Library all through the year. You can take an hour to learn something new and/or try something new most days and nights of the week. Just check our newsletter The Compass or our website for ideas.

Expanding our knowledge does not end with childhood. It has been shown that the brain waves are more active simply daydreaming then watching a television program. With that in mind, take the extra step to the Library to learn something new. We offer dozens of programs just for adults every month … free! Imagine how your brain waves jump while you are involved in a group with creative challenges and new information.

See you at the Library …. Your Guide to Discovery!

summer heat brings out the white

On our rooftop in Brooklyn: It has become the new "chill spot" a place to relax and escape the masses, a concrete new oasis if you will. And the only way to stay cool - wear white. 

The Beginning...

My Fiance and I bought a wonderful home built in 1910 near a historic downtown. We were drawn in by it's charm, and curb appeal; since signing the papers it has been a wild adventure. We are amazed how many times a week we are at Home Depot and Lowes, and every time it always ends up costing a hundred dollars! How it that even possible?

This has been an amazing experience so far, and it is far from over. It has been a time where our bond has been tested at times, but throughout this experience we have found that laughter is the key to not loosing your mind.

The first night we were the proud owners of our new home, we didn't get the key. Since the house was a foreclosure we didn't get the keys until some other parties signed- of course I was not aware of this and when we went to close on the home I had all of my cleaning supplies packed into my car. I will never forget the feeling of udder disappointment I felt when the real estate lady told us we would not be getting the keys- our thought on the matter: we spend more money than we ever have before in our LIFE and all we have are a stack of papers and a neat folder?!?!?! No.  You don't tell that to a strong minded southern woman with cleaning supplies in her car. So after signing, we went back to OUR HOME! 

After sitting and laughing on the porch, we were saddened at the thought that we owned this home and we can't go in. Again, this southern girl will not just take that. So we were trying to break into our home-sad but true. We found the way to get into the house-the crawl space under the home. After my fiance tried for 15 minutes to get the courage to crawl under the house, (he gets squeamish) I (in a sundress and flip flops) I said "move it" and did it myself. I crawled under the house, to the under stairs area where we remembered a door- BINGO!  I popped the floor open and busted the locked door open with my butt. Us southern women wont be stopped by a little locked door and creepy rodents/ bugs even if we're in a dress and pearls.

We spent about an hour just basking in the joy of home ownership and then left to my apartment to eat dinner. Little did we know the adventure was just beginning. 

Cooking School: Sandwich Workshop

Cooking School:  Sandwich Workshop!

Cross this off the bucket list:  teaching a cooking class.  The class was held at our Library and was supposed to run from 2 – 3, but since we were still merrily cooking away and eating at 4, the Children’s Department wanted to know how long it would take for us to clean up?  (Longer than the 5 minutes I said, but we were up and out before the children’s program at .)  I had such a good time, cooking! and with a captive audience!, that we went over our allotted time.

The conceit of the class was this:  a four-course meal, salad, soup, main course and dessert, all interpreted in sandwiches. Famed chef and cookbook author Tom Colicchio provided the recipe basics from his restaurant and book ‘wichcraft, as well as all the photos. 

Having had a little car trouble on the way in, I was just arriving with tons of supplies when 3 people walked in to the class room 15 minutes early.  Since I’m used to cooking at my kitchen island, which is kind of like a stage, I wasn’t flustered, just a little harried.  I started out talking a mile a minute which washing my hands, spreading out ingredients and chopping celery.  I proceeded to build my first sandwich for the class.

It was a Goat Cheese, Celery, Avocado, Watercress and Lemon Vinaigrette with Walnut Pesto on Whole Grain Bread sandwich, which comprised the ‘salad’ course.  I had already prepared the lemon vinaigrette and walnut pesto at home, so I simply had to  dress the celery and watercress with the vinaigrette, slice the avocado,  and put together the sandwich.  Not technically challenging, but still harder to be able to talk about helpful hints while continuing the prep at the same time than if I were alone in my kitchen concentrating.  I babbled on trying to squeeze in lots of helpful hints all the while putting together the sandwiches.

This sandwich was pungent with the goat cheese, earthy with the walnuts and whole grain bread, and brightened by the crunch of the lemon spiked greens:  a great way to open up the class’ taste buds, especially for one of the attendees who had never had goat cheese before.  While goat cheese is not a personal favorite of mine, I do like it very much when it is presented in concert with other harmonizing ingredients, such as this sandwich.  And so did the class.  Yay!  They liked it. (Shades of Sally Field!)

Gaining confidence, I went on to an easier preparation: the Gruyere and Caramelized Onion Panini on Seeded Russian Rye, which was a stand in for French onion soup.  The Gruyere (lovely, nutty real Switzerland Swiss cheese) I sliced very thinly and put on rye bread, topped it with the prepared at home slow cooked smoky-sweet caramelized onions (which I passed around for the class to take in that great fragrance), and topped it with more thin slices of Gruyere and another slice of rye. This was then cooked in a panini press until darkly toasted, with the cheese oozing out:  rich, flavorful and satisfying.   

At this point, luckily my coworkers, Roe Gohd, and Viji Savrithi, had all been pitching in and giving me a hand, so I was in good shape with them microwaving the onions, grilling panini, and passing out napkins, water and sandwich samples.

The Gruyere was the one sandwich I had not tried at home, because I knew it would be delicious – with all those good ingredients, how could it not be?  But the seeded Russian rye bread (Pechter’s, from Wegmans) added that little bit of je ne sais quoi, so when I did taste it, I literally stopped in my tracks because it was so delicious. 

As people were eating and exclaiming, I went on to the main event:  a mix of Marinated Chickpeas, Roasted Red Peppers, Nicoise Olives, and Lemon Confit on Country White Bread.  I had cooked the chickpeas at home from scratch, and then prepared half of them in the marinade and half without, intending to demonstrate all the prep in front of the class.  Alas, time was running short, so I gratefully used the already marinated chickpeas, threw that in the food processor, and spread it on country bread - toasted on one side only! (Soft side OUT, so as not to scratch the roof of your mouth, but crispy on the inside so the sandwich doesn’t get soggy.)  

To the sandwich, I then added strips of red pepper that I had roasted on the grill at home, gave some Nicoise olives a quick chop, and layered on some confit lemon slices, a few grinds of black pepper, and some flat leaf parsely leaves..

The lemon confit I had started three days earlier, and I demo-ed how to the slice the lemons super thinly, rind and all.  You then layer the slices with salt, sugar, garlic,  and shallot, and let them sit in the fridge in a jar, turning over occasionally to cure all the slices.  After three days, you drain them, and cover with olive oil.  Sunshine in a jar.

Lemon Confit

3 lemons
1 large shallot, minced
1 large clove garlic, minced
2 Tablespoons and 2 teaspoons salt
1 Tablespoon and 1 teaspoon sugar

About 1 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Put the lemons in a saucepan of boiling water to cover for 20 seconds.  Drain and dry.  Slice off one end only.  Cut in half lengthwise.  Slice as thinly as possible, discarding seeds and the remaining end. 

Mix all remaining ingredients except the olive oil with the lemon slices.  Put into a jar.  Turn once a day for 3 days to cure all the lemon slices.  Drain in a colander for 15 minutes.  Return to the jar, and barely cover with olive oil. 

Yield:  About 1 cup, keeps in the refrigerator at least one month.

(This makes an inspired addition to not only the chickpea sandwich, but is amazing on a sandwich with imported Italian tuna, capers, Nicoise olives and marinated fennel.  Also try with sliced roasted leg of lamb, bitter greens, and black olive mayonnaise.)

The completed Chickpea Sandwich was a multi-flavored affair with a balanced mix of garlicky, creamy chickpeas, the sweetness of the red peppers, the meatiness of olives all accented beautifully by the brightness of the lemon confit:  “tastes like the Mediterranean,”  was one admiring comment.  This was the favorite of the tasters.

For dessert, I made ‘Cannoli’ Bruschetta, this recipe one of my own creation: topped with ricotta cheese, orange marmalade, bittersweet chocolate and pistachios.  (“Very elegant – and delicious”, according to my son-in-law, when I reprised the class at home.) And for good measure, an Almond Bruschetta, this one spread with almond paste, almonds and showered with confectioner’s sugar, inspired by a recipe I found on the Food Network.

Now I was really rushing, because the Children’s librarians were trying to set up for the next event.  But these bruschetta are no-brainers- requiring no recipe, really, so I could rush and prepare at the same time.  Mission accomplished:  a four course meal all composed of sandwiches.

Either bruscetta would be an outstanding addition to brunch alongside a frittata or any kind of omelette.  And they are far easier to make than any baked goods, and  benefit from being done at the last minute because they are especially good served warm, immediately after preparation.

‘Cannoli’ Bruschetta

baguette, cut into ½ inch thick slices
ricotta cheese
good orange marmalade (recommended:  Tiptree or Dundee brand imported from England)
bittersweet chocolate, chopped, OR bittersweet mini chocolate chips
pistachios, chopped

Toast or grill the baguette.  Spread each slice with about 1 – 2 Tablespoons ricotta. Top with 1 Tablespoon marmalade.  Sprinkle on the chopped chocolate and pistachios to taste.

Almond Bruschetta

baguette, cut into ½ inch thick slices
almond paste
sliced almonds or slivered almonds
confectioner’s sugar

Toast or grill the baguette.  Mash up the almond paste a little to make it softer, then spread a Tablespoon on each baguette slice.  Top with some almonds, and sprinkle generously with confectioner’s sugar.

So that was my take on sandwiches – at the end of the class, I was left with a huge mess, a ton of satisfaction from all the positive comments I got, and a wish to do it all again soon. 

As Roe and one of the class attendees – Rose - so generously helped with the clean-up, we passed out the last of the samples and hurried to put away all the detritus from the class while the Children’s Department began their set-up. 

I left the class humming this melody from a long ago favorite children’s song of my daughter Kati:

Sandwiches are beautiful, sandwiches are fine,
I like sandwiches I eat them all the time,
I eat them for my supper,
And I eat them for my lunch,
If I had a hundred sandwiches,
I’d eat them all at once!

Diane Whitman
Reference Librarian
Now , “Cooking Teacher”

London, 2012

The last time the Olympics happened in London was in 1948. A few years after the end of World War 2. The city had little choice. They were supposed to hold the games in 1944, if the Germans didn't plunge Europe into a bloody war. Instead of promoting world unity through sports competition, D-Day was commencing in Normandy. Peace was restored with Great Britain joining the victors. When the Summer Games resumed, London took the reigns of an old tradition and hosted the XIV Olympiad amidst its urban ruins.

Dubbed as the Austerity Games, not everyone in Great Britain welcomed the idea of bringing the games. There's a housing and food shortage across the country, and the tattered economy hasn't bounced back  after the war. Conventional wisdom states that it's better to spend the money elsewhere, and perhaps another city might host the games instead.

But the leaders of that time stood their ground, and insisted that London should be the heart of the Olympiad. With a budget of $1.2 million, the games happened, albeit with no new sports venues built, and athletes staying in schools and university dormitories throughout the games.

Countries like the Netherlands and Denmark sent fruits and eggs to help feed the athletes. Czech Republic and Slovakia (Czechoslovakia) sent tens of thousands of bottled water because London had none. Those were humble times and the Games concluded with sanguine expectations. National boycotts may have hampered the succeeding Olympiads but after London, the games will never be disrupted again.

I was never really a fan of the London Olympics unlike some people I know. Instead, I have bigger expectations with Rio De Janeiro, a city that will host the games in four years' time. I would always ask, what is so special in holding the games in Europe, when Beijing and other rising cities could enthrall the planet with dazzling shows? And then I learned the story behind the last Olympics in Britain and how the British were deprived of opening the games the way other nations did.

"It's all clear to me now..." I would say after reading this article.

Three hours before the opening ceremonies, my mind might be stuck in the soggy pre-dawn capital of Manila. But my heart, like many of those around the planet has at long last drifted, and found a digital spot, in the city that revived the games in a post-war world.

Google Map: London Olympic Stadium

SS/13 "Frysta" Collection

My friend, model Ashley Williams wearing the latest collection. There are only six looks in this capsule collection. Shown here are the toiles mostly in black & I decided to do the final looks sans color.

Photos taken by me.

Adult Summer Reading Program Going Strong!

We have had almost 50 people either submit Entry Forms for the books they have read, attend one or more of the workshops or agree to complete one section of the mural.  I have entry forms for 89 books that have been read so far.  I am compiling a list in order to the ratings readers have given.  There were 26 books rated 5 star and one given a 6 star rating, 21 books at the four star level, nine with 3 stars, seven with 2 star and 6 with only one star.  19 entries have come in with no rating indicated – don’t forget to give your opinion – the list will be shared with everyone at the party on August 18 and will be available for the rest of the library thereafter – so help your fellow readers find the good ones and avoid the no-so-good!

Everyone that participates in some way in the Adult Reading Program this summer will be getting an invitation to our End-of-Summer Party on August 18 where they will get to enjoy making their own Ice Cream Sundae and other goodies and get to see the unveiling of the group mural.  Every participant will be given tickets which can be used to win prize baskets.  We will also have some of the middle-school students who are taking the “In a Kaleidoscope” arts literacy class offered this summer bring the books they are creating.  “In a Kaleidoscope” is planned in conjunction with the Aging in Place Partnership (AIPP) and the South Brunswick School District Office of Curriculum and Instruction.  You can read more about the program in a recent article published on the southbrunswick.patch.com website at http://southbrunswick.patch.com/articles/south-brunswick-residents-awarded-governor-s-arts-education-medal

We have just completed our sixth creative workshop yesterday with the very popular Between the Covers Creative Sandwiches class.  Our resident librarian/chef, Diane Whitman, created four delicious vegetarian sandwiches for a class of 18 lucky attendees.  You can read more about the event and get the recipes in Diane’s Friday Food Blog tomorrow.

We also had our tie-dyed paper workshop where we experimented with ways to create some beautiful color papers to use in making greeting cards, gift wrapping and the basis for many other paper crafts. 

Next Tuesday will be our Altered Book Workshop. We have gathered an assortment of hardcover books from the donations that were discarded which we will use to create objects of beauty and utility. Each attendee can choose which project to do. There will be one craft, from The Repurposed Library by Lisa Occhipinti (New York: Abrams, 2011.) to create decorative “Book Bursts” out of books that have been cut into sections. We will have another option to make a protective and decorative cover for your Kindle, Nook or other tablet or reader using an actual book cover (bring the dimensions of your reader.) This project is also from The Repurposed Library. For those who are interested in trying to make altered books just for their beauty and art, we will have a few projects to work on in what might become your sample or practice book of altered book techniques. These are from Altered Books Workshop by Bev Brazelton (Cincinnati, Ohio: North Light Books, 2004.)

This should be great fun!  We look forward to seeing you at the workshop.  If you have an Xacto or other type of craft knife, you could bring it with you and bring along any small embellishments (buttons, coins, toys, game pieces, puzzle pieces, charms, beads, old jewelry); ephemera (greeting cards, correspondence, photos, postcards, stamps) or “accessories” (string, yarn, twine, ribbon, hardware, wire) you might want to incorporate into your designs to make them more personal and meaningful.

Playing God

Companions the creator seeks, not corpses, not herds and believers. Fellow creators the creator seeks - those who write new values on new tablets. Companions the creator seeks, and fellow harvesters; for everything about him is ripe for the harvest. 

Friedrich Nietzsche 
Thus Spoke Zarathustra

And tinker these scientists did: the Caltech and Harvard bio-engineers, whose work was inspired by the lowly jellyfish. What they did was map out the muscle fibers of the creature. From their study came the polymer membrane, cut into shape, which includes the eight arms that - in theory - would propel it underwater.

The synthetic substance aims to replicate the flexibility of a real jellyfish tissue. 

The bio-engineers then harvested cardiac cells from laboratory rats. They carefully attached the heart cells to the membrane following the nutrient routes previously sourced from the jellyfish blue print. When immersed in electrically charged fluid, a hit of electric current and the polymer creature began swimming. One can almost say that it's alive: it could almost sense its need to propagate.

It's creators say that the development of the artificial jellyfish would lead to the creation of organic body parts such as pacemakers. One that contracts and expands, but doesn't need not to be replaced or maintained like the ones already available in the medical field.

The technology is still in its infancy. Even the creature can't swim without electric current passing through its entire body. But from where I stand, I can't help but wonder how far will these scientists go to create new life. One that reproduce on its own and whose basic function is to survive and multiply.

Some people will be freaked out by humanity's attempt to play god. But as creatures of creation, it is in our instinct to make new things from our vision. I just hope that along the way, we won't commit any missteps,

which would lead to our own demise.

Resume Help

The Library has many online resources that help you create a winning resume.

They are available from the Library's Database webpage .

The first is Brainfuse, funded by the grant from the South Brunswick Library Foundation.

Brainfuse is a learning center for both school age students and adults.

Scroll down the Library's Database webpage and click Brainfuse and then click on the Adult Learner button at the top of the Brainfuse  homepage.

Here you will find training material for Resumes, Careers, Microsoft Office Software, GED and Citizenship.

Create your own username and password during your first visit by clicking on Login. This will give you access to your message center whenever you visit. Then use the resume training material.  Prepare your resume and  upload it for review. You will receive feedback on the resume  in your message center.  If you have further questions you can connect to Brainfuse live help between 2-11pm daily.

The next online resource  on the Library's Database webpage is Universal Class. Here you will find the instructor-assisted class 'Resumes 101'.    You can submit any questions you have about the class material to your assigned instructor.

The last resource from the Library's Database webpage is Job And Career Accelerator.  This is provided by the NJ State Library.  Click on Job and Career Accelerator from the Library's Database webpage. You will go to Learning Express Library. Click on the More Information button on the Job and Career Accerator tab.  View a tutorial to learn how to use this online resource for resume writing and job searching. When you are ready to use it click on Login to create or use your username and password.

South Brunswick Public Library also offers an Effective Resume Writing class. Check our online Event Calendar to find out when the next class is.

You can search our online catalog for a list of the e-book, book and audiobooks available on resume writing.

As always, if you have any questions please contact the Information Desk .

Submitted by Mary Donne, Head of Information Services

The Kasambahays

And still, after all this time, the sun has never told the earth

"You owe me."

It's time the planet happily gives back.

We have always seen our helpers as part of the family. We share our food, we hold small feasts to celebrate their birthdays, they get the stuff we no longer need, we seldom raise our voice when they make lapses. As with other helpers, they clean the house still, and cook our meals, wash and iron our clothes, and take care of the little boys - my nephews - when their parents are away. The five of them attend to our needs. Making sure we don't have to do the back-breaking work, which I know, are sacred duties in other homes.

We have the lesbian driver, who shuttles my mom to her sundry destinations. She has been with the family for more than a decade. And for all the chances she could work elsewhere - with a better pay - she chose to serve us for reasons only she can tell.

The lesbian driver is accompanied by her assistant. A middle-age, long-haired guy who used to be my tutor in elementary. He used to be my mom's student in the university and then dropped out of college and lived a life of a drifter until he moved in with us. He doesn't get paid, like the driver. But in exchange for his support - especially when it comes to doing the leg work, he gets free meals and lodging and commission for the tasks he finish.

The head mistress, as I like to call her, is new to the family. She was hired last year, after the previous head mistress thought of returning to school. She is in charge of washing the clothes and taking care of kids - a calling she likes to deny. She avoids being at the fray, but when Baby Lenin calls her name, the head mistress finds it difficult not to heed his attention.

The ex-head mistress studies in the university. She is taking up a non-diploma course equivalent to Computer Science major. Last summer, a family debate ensued after my sister hinted to end her services. The matriarch and I - both seeing that she couldn't stand on her own, decided to let her stay. Like the lesbian driver's assistant, she enjoys free meals and lodging in exchange for doing some house chores when she's not in school.

The last to make up the team is the babysitter. She was hired by the couple (my sister and her husband) a few months ago - and was told, that she is their responsibility. I cannot recall how she came to the family. What I do know is that she has a kid in the province and she works to provide her child's needs. Among the five, she's the least I pay heed.

I understand that more than the kind and considerate treatment we make the helpers feel, they too need to earn more. An energy exchange we cannot afford. That is why we are worried when they get sick or don't eat on time. I do not know how much others are paying. But if my suspicions prove me right, our helpers get less. 

For this reason, I often contemplate about their well-being and tries my best to make their stay comfortable. They can watch their favorite shows on TV and DVD when there's no work to be done. They can eat all the canned goods my mom buys - in case the ones they cook hardly fill their tummies, and yet, these small perks commit to their long-term needs. Better deals must be set in place, so that should they decide to leave, they can look back and say, 

"Hindi kami pinabayaan."

I do not know how this attempt to support the government's desire for universal health care would turn out, but I'm ready to give more to make the backbone of our home a little more confident of tomorrow.

Online Application Approved

The lesbian driver's Philhealth membership will take effect on August. The head mistress and the middle-aged assistant will have their turn in September. Should my idea for their government-subsidy healthcare work, this project would go down as my biggest accomplishment this year.

Astral Travel

Punta, Santa Ana, Manila

I was crossing a newly-opened road bridge. Below was a narrow creek notorious for swallowing entire neighborhoods when day-long downpour occurs. I remember getting upset for I had hoped the walk would be longer, more eventful, and once I cross to the other side, I'd see sights never captured on digital maps or in my wildest imagination. But the discovery was a letdown, I've had better walking expeditions. 

The rest of the details have now become opaque, like puddles of water slowly disappearing under a screaming sun. I remember walking in a corridor inside a tenement, looking through windows that glimpses the living rooms of humbled homes. And then at a bend, (or was it a dead end) I could see a river and some trees. They say, beyond those trees is wide open space, a big abandoned lot, which I hardly see from my spot.

When I checked Google Map after many hours of wakefulness, I tried to pinpoint the exact spot where the dream took place. I still remember the vacant lot, the big river and the tenement where I found myself exploring. I also knew what bridge I crossed and so was the place I tried to explore.

After all, such discovery belongs to one of my aspirations.

The map did reveal something; a real-life location that puts everything in perspective. One day, when my tired feet find itself in front of the green-roofed structure. When the building turns out to be an old tenement just like what it was in my dream, weird as it may sound but I guess, some people do journey in their sleep.     

Little Stories From The Jungle Gym

Salcedo Park Playground


A kid from the Middle East, about the same age as the 18-month old boy I babysit, pedaled his baby blue bike away, bawling, after Baby Lenin pointed at his toy ball at the back of his bike. My nephew merely said the word "ball," but apparently the other kid already got tired of our insolence. Earlier, Baby Lenin wobbled towards the bike after seeing a toy truck on its basket. He then took it out and examined the toy without the owner's permission. We returned it the moment the kid's eyebrows crossed to show his protest. To douse the hate that has been growing in him, we decided to return to the jungle gym and play with the other kids. But then, Baby Lenin uttered the magic words, which has now angered the other kid. When he flew into a rage, his yaya's glare could have reduced me to pieces. After all, I am an accomplice. What would his moneyed parents say if they found out their little brat made a scene and the maid didn't do anything to prevent it?


There was a Black kid, a Chinese tyke and another foreign-colored kid at the playground. The three of them appear to be buddies. The kids climbed the rope ladder to reach the jungle gym's upper deck. A two year old blonde Caucasian sprinted below while his mother trailed behind. She stopped not far from me to catch her breath. This unplanned stopover gave way to a small talk. It seems she has already gotten so used to her hyperactive son that she already thought of letting him run around - unlike me, who watched Baby Lenin's carefree steps. After all, the ground is matted by thick rubber padding and even if the baby sprinter stumbles, he won't go home with a scraped knee or a bruised elbow.

That night, I told Baabaa that it felt like going to an International School. Except that we only got to hang out at the school's playground and that the expat's children were left under the care of their maids.

We should have brought our own. 



Baby Lenin said repeatedly. His squeaky voice could be heard from across the playground, where his white-haired grandmother cozied up on her wheelchair. The little tyke's legs wobbled as he darted around the jungle gym; chasing the birds and smiling at strangers who rested on the park's benches. Twice, I carried him  halfway up the slide, so he can experience the breathless feeling of sliding down the slide. When he thought of climbing the stairs to explore the decks and tunnels of the jungle gym, I followed him, not minding if the flimsy structure could carry my weight.

From Valenzuela City With Love

May peace and love
abide in your home.
Daily blessings of God
are there for us to enjoy

Mayor Win Gatchalian
Valenzuela City

How sweet the text message. I was deeply moved even when the greeting came from an unknown number. Imagine, ako na tubong Manila, na ang lingering relation lang sa Valenzuela ay ang ex-boyfriend ko na forgotten na, and here is Mayor Sherwin G greeting me a very impersonal "Good Morning" message to brighten my day.

Such heartfelt thought would never come from Mayor Lim.

Local elections is just less than a year away and politicians are really making headways for their name to float during the campaign days. I really don't know how the beloved mayor of Valenzuela performed during his term. But this is never a good way to win people's hearts. Accomplishment is the sole basis, and you don't have to put it in a tarpaulin like what Mayor Abalos of Mandaluyong did after the completion of a road near Acacia Lane.

Merits are earned subtly. You never shove it down people's throats.

Win Gatchalian, who is not and will never be my mayor can always deny that the random text message was his doing. But beneath the layers of denial, it will still be a win-win situation for his publicists. Those critical of his leadership would accuse him of petty politicking while those who have been blessed by his graces will remember him next summer. 

Nevertheless, it is a defeating strategy.

I would like to believe that the time of trapos is over. And with the rise of social media, attention is given to those who find time to communicate with people directly. Even in an online landscape. Word flies that the mayor aspires to become a senator. And because of what his minions did; for reminding me that much work is needed to change the leadership mindset of this country; 

I'm sorry to say, sir.

Epals have no place in my ballot.


It's been two weeks and a day now.
And I'm trying - forcing my words
out but the elusive, untamed letters
have escaped me

A Big Fix-Up in the Five Boroughs

It’s been awhile since we here at Click and Improve been able to post about a big job. Part of this is simply the size of the job: renovating, remodeling and performing tasks in multiple parts of one house takes more time than a simple bathtub replacement or even putting up a brand new kitchen. The other part has largely to do with when and if the customer is comfortable sharing the work that has gone into their home. Thankfully, a Click and Improve client was so impressed with our work that she even helped out by taking some photos of the house on her own. For this space, we did bathroom remodeling in two areas of the house, put in a new staircase, a total kitchen remodel and various carpentry, electrical and plumbing work. Enjoy!



Unexpected Home Improvement Projects

While the majority of home improvement projects are projects that homeowners are excited about there are those that homeowners dread or have forced upon them by way of damage to their home. Examples of involuntary home improvement projects include homes damaged by water and those damaged by fire. Both unfortunate incidences must be dealt with quickly and efficiently by a homeowner if they are to save their belongings, their home, and restore it to livable condition.

Individuals with homes damaged by water, more specifically floods, have an arduous and daunting task in front of them. Not only must they deal with the reality of damage and even potential loss of their home in some circumstances but they must also find and hire a reputable contractor that can help them return their home to its former condition and even restore damaged furniture and other items. Flooding in a home can occur as a result of an issue with the roof, troubled plumbing, and of course natural disasters. Should anyone ever find themselves in the midst of an emergency flood cleanup there are a few guidelines that, if followed, can help get their home up and running once again.

Anytime a home has been damaged by water safety assessing damage should be top priority for a homeowner. Before any phone calls are made or anything is thrown out or replaced a thorough evaluation of the damage should be taken by homeowners. Once a homeowner has a good idea of what has been damaged and to what extent it's, they can begin searching for a reliable specialist that can help them with their home. In some cases it might even be a good idea for homeowners to call in a professional assessor to evaluate the extent of damage done to their home. While homeowners can utilize their eyes and their hands to assess damage, a professional has tools and experience at their disposal which will help them evaluate the damage done to the internal structures and even electrical structures within a home.

Once the damage incurred within a home is been assessed homeowners should take great care to document everything. Documenting items that have been damaged and even those left undamaged can be of great benefit to homeowners when they go to file a claim with their insurance company. Not only should damage be documented on paper with written word but pictures and even video should be taken of the damage in order to provide professionals and even insurance personnel with physical evidence of the damage incurred. The more documentation a homeowner has for their flood/water damage incident the better off they will be moving forward and getting everything repaired.

With the essentials out-of-the-way homeowners should prepare themselves for some hard work. Homes will need to be dried and cleaned up as quickly as possible in order to avert further damage. Additionally houses with water damage that aren't cleaned and dried immediately run the risk of allowing mold and fungus to take root and grow rapidly. In most cases homeowners are best served by calling in a professional to help them clean and dry their home. Professionals can bring in commercial grade dehumidifiers and large fans that expedite the drying process. Additionally professionals will have other types of equipment and knowledge that homeowners don't which will help make drying out a home all the more quick.

Once a home has been dried out, with or without a professional, homeowners will need to begin the substantial undertaking of repairs. The nature and scale of repairs will depend greatly on the amount of and the type of damage incurred by water in their home. Some homes will need only minor cleaning while others will need new construction. Additionally homeowners with water damage may need to seek out temporary alternative housing while professionals repair their home and in worst case scenarios, rebuild it.

Any homeowner who has had water damage in their homes should at least speak with a contractor before moving forward with anything. This can provide them with invaluable insight into how to proceed and give them a number of different options on how to do so. Such professionals might also refer homeowners to other professionals who can help restore their homes and living order as well.

Free Classes Online @ SBPL

Universal Class is our free adult education service with classes on topics from knitting and gardening to photoshop and pets. Real instructors and engaging videos make this a rich learning experience.

Today's blog is about Universal Class' career training classes. These let you explore new career possibilities like career coaching, catering or even criminology.
If you want something in the creative arts you can choose web page design using Dream Weaver or you can choose Fashion Design.

The more adventurous may enjoy the Travel Agent class. Even Feng Shui and Kinesics 101 are options in Career Training.

You will find everything from 'How To Start and Operate a Day Care' to 'Running Your Own Craft Business'.

Check out these classes and many more by visiting our web page at http://www.sbpl.info/ . Click on Databases.  Select Universal Class

The first time you login you need to create an account by entering a username and password that you will remember.

Take advantage of any free time you have this summer by visiting Universal Class to check out a new vocation or avocation.

Contact the library on our Help Page if you have any questions.

Mary Donne
Head of Information Services

Adding a Room to Your Home

As your family grows, there is a good chance that you will begin to outgrow the space that you have been living in. Suddenly, your home doesn't seem quite as big as it once did before. Rather than moving to a new home, many people choose to have a general contractor add a room onto their existing structure. This provides many families with a more affordable, and fully customized solution to this common problem. Whether you need a new bedroom, a playroom, study room or any other type of room, talk with a general contractor about the possibility of adding a room to your home.

Choosing a Room

There are many variables to consider when choosing a room. You will want to have a rough idea of the size and function of your room before talking with a general contractor. You should also have a budget in mind. Once you decide on these, get in touch with a local contractor to start putting together some plans for your new addition. They can help you refine your plans, working with an architect or designer to help design a space that is perfect for your needs.

Check Local Regulations

Some of the biggest stumbling blocks when it comes to adding on to your home are local regulations. Your contractor can help you in many areas of this. Talk to your local zoning board to see what the regulations are in your area. If you live in a neighborhood with a Home Owners Association, you will also want to review the HOA rules and regulations as well. The last thing you want is to finish your addition just to find out that you have violated a city or HOA regulation.

Finalize Plans and Start Building

After your builder has acquired any necessary permits, cleared everything with local regulators and finalized your building plans, it's time for them to get started. Depending on the general contractor that you have chosen, this could involve either a small or a large crew. Regardless of the number of people that will be working at your house, talk with your contractor about steps that you can take that will make the job easier for them. There are many things, such as cleaning and clearing that can greatly save time and energy for your contractor. This will save you money and headache in the long run. Expect things to be messy throughout the process, and do your best to work around that. The completed product will be well worth it.

Whether you are building a new office, a sunroom, a craft room or a nursery for another expected family addition, adding a room to your home can be one of the most gratifying and cost-effective ways to add additional space to your home. With a little diligence and the selection of a quality contractor, the process can be quick, efficient and done to your exact desires and specifications. You'll be amazed at the effect it makes on your home.

Some Things to Consider When Remodeling Your Home

With the economy and housing market in a continuous turmoil, home remodeling has become much more popular than ever before. Rather than moving to a new home, or building one from scratch, many homeowners are choosing this route when it comes time to change or expand. When you choose to remodel, you can essentially build the home that you've always dreamed of without having to worry about the sale of your home, finding the right house, paying closing costs, a down payment and everything else that goes with the purchase and sale of a home. That being said, you should consider the decision closely before deciding to move forward with a large remodeling project.

Because a home remodel can make or break your home, it is paramount to ensure that everything is done properly, without cutting corners. Most homeowners are unsure of where to start, especially when it comes to making sure that everything is done properly. Start by considering the following:

· Always hire a licensed and experienced remodeling contractor. Although you may come across handymen who say that they can get the job done right, it will typically pay off in the long run to used a licensed professional. For a project to be completed right, there is extensive coordination, permitting and other factors that must be taken into account. By using a professional team, you not only get a variety of people working on the job, but the reputation that they carry with them. A good, quality contractor can handle the entire job from start to finish, leaving you with time to carry on with your life.

· Know what you want before you start. One of the biggest mistakes that homeowners make when embarking on a home remodel is to not know what they want before they get started. Because remodels often involve taking down walls and moving around essential components, it is important to know exactly what your project will be before allowing your contractor to begin. This will not only save you from doubling back on your efforts, but will also keep the project from spiraling out of scope, and out of your budget.

· Expect hangups. Every remodeling project will have a surprise or two along with it. Rather than being caught off guard, just be prepared for everything to take a little longer, and not go completely as planned. If you chose the right contractor, everything will work itself out in the end. If you prepare for it, it's less likely to stress you out.

· Do not cut corners. Your remodel should be safe, complete, valuable addition to your home. By making sure it's done right, you not only ensure your safety and long-term satisfaction, but also the extended resale value of your home if you do decide to move later on.

By starting with the above considerations, you can be well on your way to a successful and satisfying remodeling experience. Don't let the scope of such a project turn you away. You will be thankful once everything is complete.


"Anak pautang na lang ulit ng 1K. May 500 pa ako. Withdraw na lang ulit ako bukas."

Walang matinong anak - sa kaso ko - na panganay ang magsasabi lang ng "ok" kapag nanghiram ng salapi ang magulang. Sa edad na 30, dapat ay kalahati ng mga gastusin sa bahay ay sinasalo ko na. Ngunit sa liit ng aking take-home pay, tanging ang cable TV at broadband Internet lang ang binabayaran ko. Kasama na dun ang paminsan-minsan contribution para sa gamot ng aking ina.

A thousand pesos is just small in comparison to the money I sometimes spend on a date. But with my savings dwindling, I have to get back all the money I lent to people. That includes four thousand pesos from my mom.

Kasi in the long run, that dwindling savings is what's keeping us afloat. It guarantees that a bail out won't be happening soon.

And when I look at myself, at how my luckluster career is going, I know deep down that I deserve to be in a better place. Alam mo yun, kaya kong kumita ng enough so that my mom won't have to return the money to me.

But when the director at work admits, "Mabuti at nandyan ka. Hindi ko kayang patakbuhin ito mag-isa." Something tells me to stay put. Not because I have found my comfort zone or I enjoy being the paramount of a workplace-in-limbo. 

But because I am called.

I just hope the director keeps his word. That after the dust settles, and by some brilliant thinking we find ourselves in a much better position, I do hope these sacrifices would be worth it.

For it hurts seeing myself this way. And the worse part is, I am still waiting how this decision to stay at work will wound itself in the end.

Cinemalaya 2012

Cinemalaya used to be a by-word for those artsy films you only get to see for that critique in Humanities. To watch it in a leisurely manner and deconstruct its plot without anyone's command tells of one's artistic leanings - a taste that lays dormant in me - until some higher being wakes me up from slumber to see these films in cinema.

The first time I get to watch a full-length movie was in 2008. Dr. Wendell Capili, Diliman's patron of the arts and languages made it a requirement to watch Jay and write a paper about it.

Jay, which is a story of a TV producer sent to do an investigative report in Pampanga about a gay teacher butchered by his lover, was a plot out of the ordinary. Baron Geisler's performance as the gay TV producer was exceptional, so as Coco Martin's role as the teacher's ex-lover made him the pin-up boy of indie films. I won't be surprised if his work in Cinemalaya had catapulted him to telenovela roles he plays today.

I cannot recall what I wrote in my paper. But suffice to say, I went out of Cine Adarna enlightened after seeing the film.

Four years later, JC asked me to watch a movie. And unlike the foreign flicks we usually see in Greenbelt, he asked me this time if I'm interested to attend the Cinemalaya Festival.

I said yes.

Earlier that week, mom's friends were already raving about the entries. One even bought passes for the CCP premiere while another, a family friend who works with celebrities asked everyone to watch Isda, since his talents played major roles there. Including Ang Sayaw ng Dalawang Kaliwang Paa and Ang Babae Sa Septic Tank, last year's festival cemented my love for indie films that it spilled over to non-Cinemalaya features such as Zombadings and Six Degrees of Separation from Lilia Cuntapay.

Gone is the notion that indie films masquerade as Pinoy soft porn.

Cinemalaya 2012 has already been tainted by a controversy. A travesty that has no place in such prestigious showcase. And while it somehow diminished my resolve to see this year's entries, the movie trailers below had sparked my interest.

Kamera Obskura

1930's-inspired courtroom drama with a steam punk twist.


Story takes place in Spratlys at a time when the military seizes control of the civilian government in Manila.


A heartwarming story about an old but strong and healthy man waiting for his death to come. 

MNL 143

An FX driver waiting for love that would never come. MNL 143 was the disqualified entry because of the director's choice of main characters. So far, the production team was able to run its own show without any help from Cinemalaya.

These are the films I am looking forward to see, savor and deconstruct to my mind's delight. The start of the festival is this Saturday with three cinemas opening their doors to patrons like me. While I haven't made up the three films I'll be seeing first, plans are underway for me to be absent at work.


MNL143 Schedule

Business @ Your Library

We have wonderful business resources available at the library.  You will need your library bar code number to login from home. Here is a review of some of them.

Small BusinessResource provides information on starting, managing and marketing every type of business are covered in this resource from major business publishers. Directories of go to resources such as ‘Consultants and Consulting Organizations’ and ‘Small Business Sourcebook’ are available along with business journal articles. John Wiley easy-to-understand “For Dummies series such as ‘Business Contracts for Dummies’, ‘Portable MBA Strategy’ and ‘7 Irrefutable Rules of Small Business Growth are here also.

Frost & Sullivan provides global market and industry research reports. Find out customer surveys, emerging technologies, country economic forecasts, and more.

Morningstar provides  proprietary analysis on thousands of stocks, funds, and ETFs, market analysis and lists of Morningstar’s top selections for companies, and Mutual funds.

Reference USA provides lists of business listings by industry and geography and year established or residential listings by estimated income, home value and geography.

Value Line provides year-ahead and three- to five-year probable relative price performance for each stock. Their ‘Ratings and Reports’ includes individual stock reports and industry reviews.
Universal Class provides free professional development classes on business topics such as : leadership & supervision, project management, team management, conflict resolution, customer relation management and many more.
The Business Searching Interface (BSI) provides an easy way to both browse and search for country economic data, company profiles, industry information and market research.

Audio books, e-books and hardcover books on topics such as bookkeeping, management, computers and small business start-up are all available.

Contact the Information Desk if you need help with any of these resources.