Monday, July 26, 2010

Tubbed out

Had myself a really stressful weekend, nothing doing but work and work and work and watching some 30 Rock on my sister's laptop. Got to finish 'work-stuff' just in the nick of time Monday morning, and turned it in. Now there's nothing left to do but wait to see if anything good comes out of it.


After a grueling day at work, there was no doubt in my mind that all I wanted to do was go home. I needed to relax, to get all the heavy stuff off my mind and just sit on my favorite spot on the couch and stare at the wall. Then I get home and realize that there is something horribly wrong about my apartment... it doesn't have a bath tub. There's no greater tragedy than coming home and remembering that you don't have a tub to soak all your troubles away in. What good is getting your own place for without it?!

So I just sat there on the couch, staring at a blank wall, all stressed that I can't have a bubble bath. Where else am I going to raise my rubber ducky farm? Or hack up my murder victims into itty bitty pieces without creating a mess? Are we cave men, living in a world devoid of the most basic of human comforts? Sure little kids across the world are malnourished and starving, but what good is it to feed them and make them healthy if they are to be subjected to an even crueler fate by not having their own bath tubs with hot water and bubbles?

The great ancient aqueducts of the Roman civilization were painstakingly built on the backs of captured slaves just so the citizenry could be washed clean of guilt and their enemy's blood in bath houses. I'm pretty sure Archimedes would never have solved one of his era's great problems without his tub (nor be running in the streets naked, shouting his now famous 'Eureka!'). And the Japanese would endure hours of being in alarmingly close proximity to naked strangers just to enjoy a hot bath. So why doesn't my apartment have one crummy little tub nor a jacuzzi for that matter?

So I walked over to the bathroom and made some measurements. Turns out, I couldn't fit a tub there even if I wanted to. This has to be some sort of oversight by the architect. Then I walked over to the washing machine, and no, I can't fit in it's tub either. This is quite the problem, as you may imagine.

If only I weren't as destitute as I am now, I would have forked over some cash to a nearby hotel to drown myself in suds and bubbles. In the meantime, there's really no other alternative than a cold shower.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Thoughts while making an espresso

I've finally got myself a stove-top espresso machine, the shiny aluminum screw-on type that lends home-brewed coffee a rustic appeal. If you want a mental picture, try to remember that scene where the artsy Spanish guy in "Vicky Christina Barcelona" is making coffee for Scarlett Johansson. (Yeah... so now you may correctly guess the inspiration for this purchase)

I got it at Starbucks. I know, pretty expensive. Expensive enough that I had to use my credit card to pay for it. Tears welled-up in my eyes while the barista was bagging the box for me, not because I really really wanted to have one, take note.

So it took it home with me, washed off any impurities and metal shavings under the tap, and made myself my first home-brewed espresso. It was a real bitter (read on) and heart pounding experience, apparently because I sort of miscalculated the proper proportions of a caffe americano. After a couple of sips I could feel my heart trying to escape from my chest and a twitching in my left eye.


If there's one thing I learned from this highly-caffeinated experience, it's that I should be more careful in small talk. A couple of weeks ago, I craved for that coffee buzz while driving back home from the office. It was a rainy evening, and the traffic report from the radio announced a heavy traffic situation was waiting for me on the drive back. So I stopped at a gas station which had a Starbucks.

This coffee shop was familiar to me, for the past years I've made rest stops at this station and passed the time here with my usual cup of Joe. It has gotten to be a familiar twice a week habit that the staff there has deemed me a regular and as soon as I walk in, they're already filling out my usual (I should say, constant) order.

On this particular night, though, there was something different. They had a new staff member manning the cash register, and she was a cute one. I smiled at her and gave her my order, but before she could punch it in, one of the regular staff had already handed me my usual mug of coffee.

"I see you're a regular.", she said as she printed out my receipt.
"Not really, just maybe once or twice a week." I answered, while uncharacteristically dropping some change in the tip box.
"So I guess I'll be seeing more of you soon?"
"And I of you." I smiled as I walked to my usual table outdoors.

It was a good 10 minutes before she came outside and sat at the table next to me for her break. I smiled at her and she shot back a smile at me. And we came to talking, light chit chat, mostly, with a bit of flirting (well, on my part at least). Then we came to talking about coffee. (Because I'm such a doofus, as if she didn't have enough talk about coffee on the job. Sheesh...) She liked those frothy cappuccinos, while I said I liked mine black. (Something I tried out after reading Gabriel Garcia Marquez) She seemed perplexed by my choice of unadulterated coffee, which I thought gave me a bit of leverage in the "mysterious guy" category in this particular instance. Such a player, no?

So I babbled on about what little I knew of coffee. And recalling that scene from the movie, told her I've always wanted one of those stove-top espresso machines. It was at this point that she said Starbucks sold those but didn't carry those items on a regular basis. Too bad, I said. She promised to check out their office if they could have one for me delivered to this branch. Of course I said I'd like that, not really meaning it. I thought it was just one of those things that you left hanging so you'd have something to talk about for the next encounter. So she paid her leave to go back to work and I said I'd see her next time.

Two weeks after when I got a text message that the espresso machine was now available. I had almost forgotten about it, but was elated that she remembered. Problem was, the message was from Floyd, one of the regular staff. I thanked Floyd for the message and told him I'd pass by their store the next day. The fact that she told this Floyd guy to text me about it might mean that she thought about me, and that she would be there when I came to pick up the item. That was cool!

I came by the next day, but she wasn't there. Apparently she was on loan from another branch for a week and only left a reminder that I wanted the espresso machine on order. She wasn't scheduled to be back there anytime soon. Floyd also wasn't there for me to ask for her number to thank her. What a bitch for leading me on, I thought. Well, my fault mostly for being such a flirt.

So now I'm stuck with my very own espresso maker, and no one to share coffee with. Crap.

Have passport, will travel

A milestone for myself, I've just applied for a passport online. Yes, I'm over 30 years old and haven't had a passport, which pretty much means that no, I haven't traveled out of the country... yet.

So why now? A friend of mine is scheduled to move to Hong Kong in a month and has invited me and another friend to stay with him there for the new year's celebration on January 1, 2011. Of course, to be able to take him up on his invitation, I would need to finally get myself a passport. So here I am, applying for one. Hopefully this will be nothing like my previous application which saw me line up for half a day only to be turned back because of some stupid clerical oversight. If this new application of mine turns out to be another dud, then I will take it as a sign that I'm never going to get a passport and will be happily content to stay put in this tiny archipelago that I call home.


In a country where a great majority of the population have been brainwashed to believe that opportunities to a better life and career can only be found beyond our borders, the case of my not having a passport all these years has been the exception rather than the rule. Almost everyone is looking to go work, study or live in other countries, taking chances with language barriers, different cultures and beliefs, climate and food, because they believe that to be able to do so is a huge step towards getting the lifestyle that they deserve.

So don't I think that way as well? Not necessarily.

You could probably say that the main reason that I don't think that way is because I'm scared shitless of what's "out there". Sure I could be earning a ton of money operating a crane in some far away desert than doing what I'm doing here, but then I'm scared of scorpions and camels. I could be a nurse in some hospital earning by the hour and sending back thousands of dollars or euros back to the folks, but I would have to endure lonely days and nights and harsh climates. I could even be working on a cargo or cruise ship, finding myself in a new port each day, but I'm afraid of sharks and storms and pirates.

Instead, I chose the life I'm currently living, hot summers and an unbelievably humid rainy season. Working for scraps while braving endless red tape and long lines. Lagging in technology and innovation while watching reruns of western television shows and bored by unoriginal local movies and shows. This is the safe choice, where I know how to get around pitfalls while easily enduring the inconveniences of the third world.


I realize, however, that there are a lot of things that I would like to see and experience outside of this country at least once in my lifetime:

1. Snow - yes, this is probably one of the most magical things in the world for anybody who has lived in a tropical country their whole lives. What does it taste like? How fast does it melt and is it squishy or brittle? And how much would it hurt if someone threw a snowball at me?

2. Squirrels and Chipmunks - how much cuter are they than the field and sewer rats? And are they edible?

3. An Aurora Borealis (or their Southern hemisphere equivalent)

4. Disneyland - I'm particularly interested in seeing Ariel of "The Little Mermaid" in person, perhaps a little cleavage action would be nice, too.

5. A Bullfight - Putting on that silly hat and getting to within inches of a rampaging bull, really? That is just reckless and insane. Why can't these people play with their cocks as we do here?

6. All 7 man-made wonders - because taking my picture in front of these would look really impressive on a facebook page.

7. Mardi Gras - topless women. 'Nuff said.

8. The North Pole - cause Santa's got a lot of explaining to do.

Well of course there's more, but I guess these are what easily comes to mind. Hopefully I'd be able to get to see some of these until my near-future passport expires. Until then, I guess I'm pretty much stuck here.

Saturday, July 24, 2010


I've this friend who has been 'borrowing' stuff from me. Because he's my friend, I don't mind of course and let him cast his hand in the proverbial cookie jar. This has been happening for quite a number of years already.

Trouble is, rarely does he ever return what he 'borrowed', thus the quotation marks. Even more troubling, I have failed to notice this until the latest favor I have given him, which is cold hard cash. It isn't really that much, but it is quite significant considering that I'm kinda short on cash and living from paycheck to paycheck the past years.

It's been a month and a week since he promised to return the loan, and I've gotten neither a peep nor a hoot about the delay from him. We did get together once three weeks ago, but my short term memory has conveniently forgotten the loan that particular point in time (convenient for him, of course). He is my friend which means I have his contact info and all that to call or email or text him if necessary, but I just can't seem to bring myself to collect.

The downside is that because this loan has been dragging on through bills, rent, groceries and all those other expenses on my part, I've developed a specie of resentment towards all the other times he 'borrowed' stuff. It has gotten to a point where I've lately become irritated whenever I receive another bill or while writing out a cheque for the rent. The worst of it is, I've been able to mentally compute the monetary equivalent of how much he owes me for this loan, past small uncollected loans, as well as the doodads, tools and various other items he hasn't returned for the past 10 years. Disregarding inflation rates and depreciation costs, it now stands at 40,000 pesos. To be fair, of course, I've also mentally computed how much I owe him in the stuff which I borrowed and hadn't returned, and my total is at 800 bucks.


Before anyone goes on despising this guy, let me just clear up that you can't unless he owes you anything as well. Being a friend, I have the right to despise and bitch about him all I want, that's one of the benefits of being a friend (in my twisted mind, at least). Besides, he's got good reasons for not being able to pay up, which is why I can't collect, dammit.


Does this mean that a moratorium on lending stuff (specially cash) is in effect? Now there's the rub, because in spite of all that, I'm still willing to help the guy out when he's in a rut. So why am I still bitching about it? Because I'm a sick dyslexic bastard who just can't seem to get enough of a tragic thing and likes to wallow in misery.

Monday, July 19, 2010

The price of free stuff

Did some groceries a while ago, and hadn't noticed that I picked up a heck of a lot of peanuts until I plopped the contents of my basket down in front of the cashier. 6 bags of peanuts? Really?

So I feigned surprise and discarded the other 2 bags. Didn't have to though, as cashiers tend to not get surprised at how eccentric people's grocery lists can be. Take the lady behind me, for instance, buying both cat, dog and bird food. Does she own a small zoo or something? Or the old guy buying several packs of condoms... wait, is that my dad?!


Got a new watch today, came by mail. Apparently, my credit cards love me so much that they decided I deserved a new watch. I didn't deserve an expensive one, though, but I'll take it just the same. I tried filling up the warranty but it expired last year. So it's a cheap, old watch, with a battery life of anywhere from 3-6 months. But then again, it's free so I can't really complain, can I? I'll just wait till it's batteries conk out and replace them. Hopefully by then the credit card company would realize their mistake and send me a new battery. (fingers crossed)

So that particular watch now adds to that long-list of freebies that I keep getting from less-than-well-meaning marketing campaigns. 2 watches, 2 dozen or so coupons for a free fast-food meal, a leather-bound notebook, an air freshener, a bag full of computer doodads, a drip coffee-maker, a gym bag, a set of coasters, a flashlight, countless pens, a buffet dinner, and free one-day trials at a gym. I'm sure there's more, but that's all I can recall for now.

Working on the premise of a world where nothing is truly free, what have I had to suffer for 'freebies'? An almost insurmountable amount of credit card debt, years of subscription to magazines I have no time to read, countless afternoons wasted listening to a presentation by some sales rep, and filling up various surveys that I really don't care for anyway.

But was it worth it? After years on reflecting on this question, my answer is: it depends. You must think I'm pretty useless(and gullible), huh? You're probably right.

Take this new subscription I'm contemplating on, for instance. It offers a 3-piece luggage set upon signing in. I like that magazine, and despite probably not having enough time to read it religiously, I will get a few moments or so of good reading done. Now, as it so happens, I've sold the luggage set in advance to an officemate for the same value as that subscription, thus, I get a free subscription for something I will read probably once a month. Not too bad, I should say. On the flipside, there's this real estate company that promises a free dinner and overnight stay in a hotel if I show up for a viewing of their project. Seems pretty neat, doesn't it? But beware, because the buffet really isn't as good as you've imagined it to be, and the overnight stay at the hotel means they'll give you the crummiest room they could find. The worst part is that you show up at their viewing, and find yourself trapped there for a whole day, just nodding your head at some numbers and words they keep showing over and over again,and you exhaust yourself trying to come up with excuses why you have to think their offer over first. I'm telling you, it's not worth the trouble.

Going back to my new watch, is it worth it? Yes, only because it came as a reward for previous purchases by my credit card.

Anyway, if any sales reps are reading this, I'll be needing a new belt (brown, preferably), a new mobile phone, a stove-top espresso machine, or a pair of running shorts. Cash is always welcome, too.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Filthy cars, vandals, noisy women and silent men

Some punk had the nerve to vandalize my car last night. One of my neighbors, no doubt, since the car hasn't left the garage since Saturday night. I wanted to file a report, but thought it wasn't going to go anywhere, anyway.

You're probably as shocked as I am, where has decency gone in this world of ours? When had respect for private property gone to the dogs?! Of course I should report the incident, you say. Was it spray-painted with gang-letters? All four tires punctured? Scratched with a bottle cap or keys perhaps? One of those toilet paper pranks?

Before you go take that pitchfork out of the barn, here's what the little vandal wrote: [translated] 'What a nice car, too bad the owner never cleans it, though. Please have mercy and take this car to the carwash?' Irritatingly polite delinquent, I know. Pretty clever too, he wrote this on the passenger's side of the car so I never spotted it myself. Learned of it from an officemate, who showed me a picture of the graffiti via his camera phone. She's posting it on facebook, she says, even added a little note of her own that read 'You should tell the owner to take a bath, as well.' Nice little trap, I thought. When the perp shows his cheeky little mug at last I'll use his face to wipe the dust and grime off my windshield.


So why don't I take the car to the wash more often? Besides the laziness, of course. I usually tell people it's because I want to make a statement, be a 'rebel' of the filthy sort. Then, while driving home, in one of those rare instances that I turn on the radio, Jewel's distinct melancholy floats through the air and whispers " were, fashionably sensitive, but too cool to care." Perfect!


I was talking to another officemate last week, and we got to the topic of her daily commute. She usually takes the MRT, that elevated train that runs through the city, to save on time. In the afternoons, while commuting home, the volume of passengers waiting to get on the train gets too much at times that she takes the train going the opposite direction, stays there until it reaches the last terminal and waits in the same car until it switches tracks and goes her way. This little trick of her has given her a unique look at the differences between men and women.

You see, the MRT is divided by women's only cars up in front and men's only cars in the rear. Of course, women are free to mix it up with the menfolk if they so wished, but the men are restricted from boarding the women only cars. By the time the train switches track, the cars also switch in order, thereby the men's cars becomes the women's and vice versa.

In the women's cars, which she usually rides, the drone of the metal wheels on the track is no match for the chattering of female voices. Everyone talks in the car, whether it's with their buddies, on the cell phone or singing a tune while listening to their mp3 players. Someone could be giving birth right beside these women and they'd still be blabbering away. During the rush hour, it gets worse. Every inch of space is occupied, they're packed like sardines, and yet they still talk. Imagine all those voices straining to be heard, transforming into a collective buzz, like a plague of a million locusts about to infest a cornfield the size of your backyard.

Then, sometimes, she's in the men's car. Crickets chirp, and you could hear the noise of a pin dropping. She'd witness a group of men talking boisterously on the station's platform, then as if a switch was suddenly turned off, they shut up and board the car. Sometimes one would cough, then everything went eerily silent again. A cellphone would ring, a man's voice answers, "I'm on the train, I'll call you when I get off." and it's back to 'normal'. Just as she'd thought she was in the twilight zone, the doors open and close and she'd hear someone's voice at last. She'd look for where it was coming from, and see a woman, chatting up her boyfriend, while he just nodded yeses and nos.

"Why is that?" she asked. I only gave her a silent shrug in reply.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Child Labor

It's usually boring being a kid around the house on weekends. After the run of Saturday morning cartoons, there was nothing much to do but wait for lunch. All the other kids were, like me, trapped indoors as well. Parents in those days didn't like their kids going out before lunch on weekends, because these dumb kids usually forget all about eating lunch and play until late in the afternoon. Mind you, this was the age before playstations and the internet, and a boring day indoors was A BORING DAY INDOORS.

"Why don't you read a book or study your lessons?" mom would say, compounding the misery.
'Why don't you just shut your pie-hole about books and let me out of this stupid house, mom?', I'd usually think to myself. I may be young, but I wasn't foolish enough to get myself into a morning-long whipping. Also in those days, kids actually get their dose of whoop-ass and child services won't give a rat's ass because it's how things worked between parents and their bratty seed.

Every so often, however, my dad would go for a drive out and offer an exciting and fun escape from the house.

As soon as I hear the jingling of my dad's car keys, I'd stop whatever I was doing (such as staring at a wall or twiddling my toes) and ask if I could come with him. I never really asked where we were going, it didn't matter anyway. My dad would give me a flat no, so I whine and be a bitch, complaining how there's nothing to do indoors, another no. At this point I'd be such a brat and throw a tantrum. Then he'd say yes, as long as I just stay in the car. Perfect!

So I put on my shoes and happily ride shotgun. My dad would hum a tune or two, then stop at some alien location, parking the car by the curb. "You wait for me here, and don't leave the car." he'd mutter while turning off the engine. He'd disappear into some random building and I'd be left alone in the car, with doors unlocked and windows half-open. (I'm not really sure if the streets were safer in those days, or if my dad had secretly hoped that his bratty son would be kidnapped and he'd finally be rid of me)

At this point, I'm ecstatic just being somewhere I haven't been before, while in the general safety of the car. I'd tinker with the radio, scoot over to the driver's seat and pretend to drive, snoop around the car, opening glove boxes and secret pockets. When I get bored of changing the station or playing formula one driver, I'd jump into the backseat and just lie there, daydreaming away until dad came back and we went home.

Good times, huh? In retrospect, not so much.


I was standing around some busy street yesterday, passing time away before an appointment when a car stopped in front of me and a man got out the driver's seat. "Stay in the car and don't get out." he muttered to a kid glued to his Playstation in the passenger's seat before closing the door. How cool it would have been if I had a Playstation back in the day, I wouldn't even have left the house at all.

After a few minutes, a tow truck came by and parked in front of the car. The I'll-tow-your-car-while-you're-not-looking-and-have-a-good-laugh-about-it-at-the-station-guys looked the car over, and saw the kid inside. They looked at each other, scratched their heads and drove off. This happened another couple of times until the man emerged from a building, got back in the car and drove off.

Now that particular scene shed a lot of light on the matter. This kid's presumably a reluctant passenger in this trip, the only reason for his presence, to thwart the tow-truck company's attempt at a good pay-day. You can't tow a car with someone inside, I'm guessing. And waiting for the driver to return to give him a ticket was not worth the hassle while the prospect of other prey illegally parked on other streets remained. This kid probably got some ice-cream as a reward for doing his old man a favor, lucky bastard. This, folks, is responsible parenting at its finest.

Looking back, I never got anything, not even a dog biscuit, for being a tow-truck-deterrent. And I unwittingly volunteered for that job? Talk about lambs to the slaughter.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Starting up

I was in line at Starbucks yesterday, and the lone honey-glazed doughnut in the display shelf was jeering me. I hate it. Somehow, it knew I was on my no-to-evil-carbs diet again, and was laughing it's hole out at my helplessness.

Then this cute girl went in line behind me. I smile at her, made small talk, then offered to buy her a honey-glazed doughnut, which I did. Sayonara, honey-glazed douche-bag!


I love my job. Wait, that should actually read: 'I love that I have a job'. Recent events have revealed to me the reality that jobs aren't as secure as people think they are. A buddy of mine got terminated, my brother-in-law deemed redundant, and my sister is getting into all sorts of trouble at the office because of her blog.

Don't get me wrong, I've always appreciated my job. The 8 years I've spent there since graduating from college is a testament that I enjoy what I do. However, it's so easy to forget that in the end, it's a business. These companies are there to earn money for the shareholders, not really to ensure that employees are all happy and looked out for. Only a fool would think that they're untouchable, no matter how high you get up the ladder, there's always the risk of falling off it.

In large part, this is the reason that I'm planning my grand 'exit strategy'. I'm currently at the first step, which is to be financially secure and not having to rely on my paycheck. I suspect that it gets easier after that, working with a passion instead of working because you have to make that payment on the mortgage. The next step is to plan investments, which in my case would be to start up a business of some sort. Ultimately of course, the goal is not having to work at all.

However, if there's one thing I've learned from my current 'mentor', it's that one never really stops working. To stop working means to be dead. He's probably right, he's 73 years old, and he's still as zealous in the business as when he started it more than 3 decades ago. The only reason that he's in his self-declared semi-retirement, he says, is to ensure that someone is gonna take over the reins of the business when he 'stops working'.


A friend and I were downing some beers and we got to talking about our career choices. Why did we end up working where we did in the first place? When we look at where we are now, and think of the other people who followed the money and are now basking in it, he couldn't help but think that maybe he made the wrong choice.

The real goal, he says, is to create his own business. To do that, he first needs capital, which apparently, the people who followed the money have easily accumulated. If he were in their shoes, he'd be halfway towards his goal already, he comments.

I'm not sure I share his sentiment, I say. But then again, maybe it's just because were two different people in two different fields. In my case, I need this job to be able to prepare myself for eventually managing my own business. Over the years, I've learned a ton of stuff that I wouldn't have realized had I worked in a cubicle all day and stared at a computer. Sure, there's still a lot to learn, but there's really no easy way to prepare oneself for that anyway. As for capital, well, I'm almost certain that the problem will always be that you don't have enough, so why bother worrying about it?


My 'mentor' once told me, the biggest hurdle in starting anything is that mental one, the feeling that you can't do it. There will always be a reason, in the case of starting a business, it's almost always capital. What many fail to realize is that the main goal of any business is to increase the value of whatever resources you have, meaning that it doesn't matter if you start with a peso or 10 million pesos. As long as you are able to increase the value of what you started out with, then you're in business. The only real challenge is, starting it.

Taking on this challenge in my job's context, I've recently signed a contract to lease an office down south. I haven't really figured out how I'm gonna make it work, but since it's there already, I've kinda forced myself that it's gotta. The official plan is that it's gonna be an extension of our office, and that were gonna get clients from the many industries that are starting up in the region. However, I've a feeling that this isn't really such a sound idea.

Nevertheless, I've committed to starting it. No business plans, no clients, no staff. Just the gut feeling that there's gotta be something that we could do there to make money. Ballsy, I know, and the repercussions? Well, one could say that whatever the outcome of this venture has a very direct reflection on my employment. In any case, I consider this a valuable opportunity to learn something, anything. Let's just hope my mentor was right.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

201,000 Reasons

There are 201,000 reasons I should be scared shitless.

A couple of weeks ago, after arriving home from another domestic trip, I swapped credit cards that I kept in my wallet. I usually carry only two cards, depending on the types of purchase that I would anticipate. I use one card with a higher credit limit and more bonus perks for travel, and another for gas purchases because of the higher rebates it offers. I also always carry around yet another one for emergencies only.

So as I was replacing the cards, I noticed that one of them had a tear right along the magnetic strip. I haven't really noticed it until then, I haven't had to use it for months anyway. But just the same, I wondered if I could have it replaced.

I promptly called up the card company, and they said they'd be sending me my replacement in a week. Great, I thought. There wasn't any hurry, but I looked forward to it just the same.

So it came today, along with a notice that they have decided to up my credit limit. Crap!


Just yesterday, I learned that one of my loans had already been paid off. A week ago, I had the balance of one of my cards transferred to another for a magnificent rate of 0.50% per month interest. A month ago, I've successfully been able to get a stay on my annual dues for yet another card. For the past 4 months, I've been able to keep true to my promise of not using any other card except for the one I use for gas purchases. 6 months ago, I paid off the total balance of still another card and promptly cut it into itty-bitty little pieces. (They still claim I've some dues to pay, though. Good thing I've got emailed evidence to the contrary)

So you can see, I've been such a financially responsible kid for half a year. The trouble is, they're on to me.


Besides today, last week a telemarketer told me I was one of the lucky cardholders that could avail of an outright loan from them at only 1% interest per month. Last month, I got a letter that I only needed to use my credit card 5 times in a month to avail of a free watch. 4 months ago, I got a pre-approved credit card in the mail with a free dinner on my first use.

So far, I've been holding out fairly well. But there's only so much a man like me could take.

Just yesterday, I stopped by an appliance and electronics store while waiting for a meeting. There it was, a shiny new LCD television set with a free home entertainment system at a rock-bottom price. And if I use my credit card, I could have it paid in 12 installments at 0% interest. But wait, there's more... for an additional amount, I could get an mp3 player thrown into the mix as well. Last month or so, as my phone was getting noticeably wonky, I passed by another electronics store and saw a nifty mobile phone also available in 0% installments. And did you know that a leather seatcover set for my car could also be paid for by plastic?

Really now, why is the world conspiring against my financial health?


I put the notice and the card back in its envelope, and hid it underneath my underwear drawer. I also tucked just the one credit card for gas in my wallet. I've come so far down this road that I can't afford the risk of being sidelined and back in the hole, so to speak.

"Just when I thought I was out... they pull me back in!" - Michael Corleone, The Godfather III

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Yard Time

Hi, welcome to "the yard" at the office. This is where I usually go for my cigarette break or if I need to do some heavy thinking. I call it the yard because it somewhat resembles the prison yards that I see in the movies, where inmates go to get some sun, smoke, socialize with the other convicts, as well as occasionally stick an improvised ice-pick into another con's kidney. I suspect that the resemblance is deliberate, a sublime reminder that the ultimate goal is really to get out of this place as quick as you can... alive.

The yard is on the top floor of our 3-storey building, same floor as my office making it really convenient for me to take five when I need to. It's an open deck where we prisoners... I mean, employees... can converge for office evening parties, do tai-chi, pray to Mecca (if you were Muslim, that is), or just hang out should our office be submerged by 2 meter floodwaters again.

If you'll take a closer look, you can see the South Luzon Expressway, right along the tree line. Then there's the roof of the huge warehouse on the left, where the big trucks go to unload and store empty Coke bottles before they are sent to be cleaned and sterilized.

There's also that giant billboard which usually cuts the dark, starlit evenings nicely, making the yard an ideal place for a making-out. Unfortunately, my persistent advances on our cute former-receptionist never led me here to try it out for myself. (I did get a floral-scented restraining order once from her, though.) The billboard, on one occasion, featured a hot sexy starlet modeling lingerie for a month, which coincided with the same month I was smoking three packs of cigarettes a day.

And speaking of smoking, I believe this is also the official smoking area of our building, because why else would they put all those orange, terra-cotta ashtrays with the green leafy things on top of them? Awfully considerate of them, huh?

If you go near the edge, you'll see the field right behind our building:

This used to be a rice paddy, until the whole area was re-zoned to be industrial lands and it became boxed up this way. Even if you wanted to plant rice there again, you'd be spending a fortune pumping up water from deep underneath it doing so as the irrigation canals have been cut off by the roads and buldings that currently surround it.

There is still an awful lot of wildlife that inhabit it, though. Every once in a while, snakes and large lizards are known to slither and crawl through the thick brush. Personally, I haven't seen one in the wild yet, but I know they're there because the field's caretaker has been roasting giant lizards and snakes in his backyard every once in a while. There are also lots of birds who swoop down there during clear days, catching field mice and other game. I've seen ravens, the occasional field owl, and some migratory birds here, all of them lucky enough that I still don't own a BB gun nor a Perigrine Falcon.

I find it quite odd, though, that the caretaker goes through the trouble of gunning his weed-whacker and having at the brush. He's got an army of goats and a herd of cows grazing on a similarly vacant field not too far away. He should simply let them loose here and watch them chew and chew and chew all year round until the urge to have steak and kebab becomes overwhelming. Here you see the exact line when he lost all interest mowing down the grass or ran out of gas in his weed-whacker. I'm pretty sure he's gonna be back with a blow torch one of these days to finish the job.

Of particular interest to me, however, are these termite mounds:

There are several myths which I want to try out.

1. Termite mounds have excellent thermal qualities, maintaining a constant inside temperature of 32 degrees Celsius whatever the conditions outside, even if you set the exterior ablaze.
2. Each mound contains exactly one queen and one queen only.
3. Termites are excellent producers of Hydrogen gas... so each mound is actually a nice little Hydrogen bomb waiting to happen.
4. Termites are tasty critters.
5. Termite mounds harbor earth spirits, real live dwarves and gnomes. I've been wanting to get a garden gnome for ages.
6. Peeing or trampling upon termite mounds upset these earth spirits. You get sick real fast and die.
7. If you ask permission before peeing on said termite mounds, though, nothing bad will happen to you.
8. Termite queens are horny as hell.

I'll admit, its gonna be hard separating myth from facts (especially if you decide to try out #6 first and die). Equally hard will be keeping a brave front when faced with a real live lizard or snake which are very probably in this rainy season.

Besides, it's gonna be hard plotting my escape from this prison in the first place.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Unless you're being chased by a bunch of evil mutant penguins out for your blood, why bother?

I was taking a dump last night, flipping through the pages of one of my weekly subscriptions (Yes, I subscribe to magazines instead of reading them online, how jurassic is that?) when I chanced upon this article about an unhealthy obsession with marathons.

By the way, for those of you who still make the mistake of calling your 5 kilometer photo-op a 'marathon', you actually need to run 42 kilometers before boasting about your 'first marathon' on facebook. For good measure, read it again, I said RUN, not jog, capisce?

The article was written by a Linda Flanagan, who claims to have missed out on qualifying for the Olympics by 4 minutes and 18 seconds, but seemingly enjoys torturing her mind and body almost 2 decades after her peak form by still running every day and trying to go faster, longer.

Okay okay, no point in getting bitter about it, I say to myself. She's a world-class athlete, and you're... well, not? Has never been, will never ever be, even in your wildest dreams, never? Just dunk the mag in the trash bin and pull your shorts up and get over it already, will you? But just as I was about to roll said magazine to kill a pesky cockroach crawling on the shower curtain, eerie images popped out from its glossy pages and caught my fancy: extreme marathons?

First, there's 'The Ice Marathon', set on Antarctica, same continent where Agent Fox Mulder found the space ship. Then there's the 'North Pole Marathon', undoubtedly where Santa ran to his massive coronary demise, probably the reason why I didn't get that Aquaman action figure I wrote him about. Up next, the '24-Hour Ultra Marathon' in Namibia, in the desert, which must be a good reason to keep on running for 24 hours. I doubt anyone would want to be left behind by the rest of the imbeciles joining this oddysey. Lastly, the 'Marathon of the Sands' in the Moroccan Sahara. They've pictures of people running behind camels and Bedouins, not far behind, just out of the picture must be the vultures, ready to lap up the unfortunate ones who didn't think they needed THAT much training.

Why in hell would anyone want to go through those extremes just to prove a point to themselves? Fine, you're an amazing athlete, Forrest Gump has nothing on you, you're oozing with all that I-only-feel-alive-when-I'm-dying attitude that you obviously subscribe to, and you're better than all the rest of us slackers, given. But why bother?


Sorry about that rant just now. I don't usually mind other people's business, nor should I. They do things that they enjoy the way I should be doing things that I enjoy. Probably just a bit of bitterness on my part over seeing people having fun when I'm stuck at home bouncing my foamy little stress-ball off the walls. (No it's not fun, just something to do) So why did I bother posting it if I'll only write up an apology in post-script? I have no idea. Must be craving for some attention or something, and bored. Definitely bored.