Saturday, May 29, 2004

Games: N

N s a nice little slightly-addictive flash game about a ninja trying to get through doors. Check it out.

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Pinoy Culture: Hawakan Mo Nga Sa Tenga

Literally translated as "I dare you to touch his ear", the phrase is commonly used by elementary school boys prior to starting a fight. It's similar to the more well-known Western scenario where one boy draws a line across the sand and goes "I dare you to cross this line" This phrase came to me today because we were talking to two girls (well okay, ladies) at work today and they weren't familiar with the phrase or it's usage. I of course proceeded to demonstrate by flicking my co-worker's ear. After which, all hell broke loose. Or not.

This useless piece of trivia brought to you by The Freedom, Peace and Justice Movement

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

So I Went to HK...

As I've mentioned before, I was sent to HK a couple of weeks back, for the rollout of a project I've been involved with for about a year and a half. I'm not sure if it's right for me to be talking about the project here, so I won't delve into any specifics. I will however, bore you all with stories from my first trip anywhere remotely far from home.

First, the plane trip. Economy class (excuse me, fiesta class) on a PAL Airbus from NAIA2 to HK International on Thursday night. Food was okay, I've had worse, not really enough to turn me off airline food. The PAL flight attendants, as I later discussed with a male coworker, were quite not-young and, well, not-hot. Heh, probably unfair but you get a certain expectation from media, you know? The flight was short (less than two hours) and uneventful, no dizziness or pukathons for me, thanks, unlike when I take the eight-hour bus ride to Bicol. This may seem boring to seasoned fliers, but I liked that little map that told me at what location we were currently flying over. Neat!

As an engineering type, I also took notice of the plane itself. Is it normal that airplanes routinely jiggle and vibrate as the plane taxis? I understand that it's unavoidable as things like cars and trains do the same; but shouldn't things be a bit tighter on a plane? Still, didn't really bother me.

Upon landing, I got a glimpse of HK International Airport. I had heard it was huge, but didn't get to look around much as I was greeted at the boarding gate by two of the HK staff. Nice people, one of them bought me dinner at McDonald's although I told them I had already had the airline food. Afterwards, they took mo to The Peak, apparently a famous spot for tourists in Hong Kong. It's a mall-type thing on top of a rather high mountain. From the observation deck, you could see most of Hong Kong. From there I could see that Hong Kong was a very urbanized area, a lot more than Metro Manila.

After spending some time there, they drive me to the Staff Quarters near the HK office, where one of our RP staff has been staying for a month. The RP guy greets me, shows me upstairs, shows me the ropes, and I get some sleep.

The office building is right next to the block where the staff quarters was, barely a five-minute walk. I spent most of my time in HK between the office and the staff quarters. Truth be told, the trip wasn't really very exciting, as there was a lot of work to be done and not much time to goof around. I'll just note some things particularly interesting about being in a foreign country:

People speaking in an unintelligible language all the time. Probably the biggest hurdle to anything, it took surprisingly little getting used to the fact that I couldn't communicate perfectly with anyone, and with some people, not at all. On some occasions, I had to buy food or drinks through pointing and using hand signs to find out how much stuff was. When walking on the street, I'd turn my head whenever I hear someone speaking English, because it was quite unusual. Also, when dining out with the HK staff, I'd have to rely on them to order for me, since I can't read the menus. Which brings me to...

Foreign food. Anyone who knows me knows I'm quite a picky eater. I don't take to new foods very easily. But it's hard to refuse when you're a guest, so I got to taste more new stuff in my five and a half days in HK than I have for maybe the past three years. It's ok, I don't mind, even the veggies. The biggest problem was the fact that I have no idea how to use chopsticks, and almost every meal needs the use of chopsticks. At one point, I had to badger my co-RP staff to help me get food using the serving chopsticks. While I was there, I had some Taiwanese, Thai food, and of course, Chinese. Lots of Chinese. Oh, and an interesting side note: apparently foreign McDonald's have no McSpaghetti.

Religious issues I was unable to hear Mass on Sunday. We had to work most of the day, but I got off around 4PM. I asked one of the HK guys for directions to a Church (we were in Kowloon, I believe), but when I explained that I was Catholic, he didn't know what the term meant. (This is of course ridiculous to a Filipino; everbody knows what a Katoliko is!) After saying that my faith is similar to another RP staff who he had also met before, he gave me some instructions on where to find a Church. I walked around a bit, following his directions. Which eventually lead me to a Mosque. Ooookay. So I walked around some more (quite a bit actually, went up and down the same road couple of times), I found a place called "St Andrews Church", I guessed this was the place he was talking about. I walked in and asked around, found out they had a Mass around 6PM. So I waited for a bit. Around 5:45 I picked up a flier and noticed that it was in fact an Anglican Church (Is it a Protestant thing? Or something else? I'm not entirely sure), and I it's not the same so I went out looking again. I saw another Church, this time it was Lutheran. Around 6:30PM, I gave up, bought some dinner at McDonald's and took a taxi home. The next day one of the HK staff who said he was Christian told me there was a Catholic Church beside the Mosque...apparently it was a small one so I failed to notice it. From our discussion, I think there's quite a distinction here between "Christians" and "Catholics"; which is weird since I'm fairly sure Catholics are Christian. Anyway, I was wondering why it was so hard to find a Church in a place where...

There are so many Filipinos You can see 'em everywhere, as you walk along the main streets. Mostly tourists and domestic helpers, I believe. I could hear Tagalog being spoken on the street more often than English. Of course, maybe I should've asked one of them where I could go to Church...

Taxis are discplined This is of course, shocking to any Filipino! A sticker on the inside of every taxi tells you the rules: They can't turn down fares, they have to issue a receipt when asked, they must follow seatbelt laws, etc. Every taxi is equipped with a receipt machine, and every one of 'em is bright red so they're easy to spot. Overall, while I still experienced traffic jams over there, their traffic situation is still hella lot better than ours.

What else can I say? As I said, I didn't have much free time. They were kind enough to give me half the day off on Tuesday afternoon (my flight home was Tuesday evening), and they recommended some places I could go visit. So I went to Quarry Bay, about 2 MTR stations away from the office. I wasn't sure what I was looking for, though, so I ended up mostly wandering aimlessly, not buying anything 'cept for some food and drinks. I actually managed to walk all the way back to the office, and just decided to buy some chocolates from a supermarket to bring home.

On the flight home, PAL switched me to a much smaller plane, which sucked. :( I got to see more of HK Airport, and let me's frickin' huge. I told the guys who brought me to the airport that NAIA2 is like a fourth of HK airport, but now I think it's more like a sixth. I'm told they even have some sort of moving platform thing for people whose gates are so frickin' far. It took 30 minutes for our plane to taxi, that should say something.

Anyway, got home around 11:30, bought some more goodies at the duty-free shop. Took a taxi home, arrived safe and sound. Told stories for an hour or so, then ... zzzzzz.

Sweet Sweet Vacation Time

God, it feels good to be goofing off. After having to spend six days in HK (well, more like five-and-a-half, more on that later) and then proceeding to conduct SQL training sessions for the latest batch of recruits, I was kinda tired and stressed out from work. Good thing I had the common sense to file for two days leave after the elections last Monday; don't have to come in 'til tomorrow.

Not that I'm using the free time for anything sensible mind you. In fact, most people would probably consider it a serious waste of vacation leave. But hey, I like to goof off! In between Warcraft III sessions, random internet surfing, constant reloading of the Inquirer website (to see the latest Namfrel quick-count figures of course), and reading through a couple of CDs worth of comics copied from Mon last Monday, I did manage to clean up my room somewhat.

I really only wanted to clean up 'coz I wanted to read the Street Fighter comics and couldn't find them. I was only able to find the two most recent issues though. One other thing I wanted to do was to seriously clean up the crap on this computer. We're quite low on disk space, and more than half of my desktop is cluttered with icons, and Alvin tells me we have far too many MP3s on disk.

I've downloaded some Java code that will help me extract ID3 data from MP3 files. I'm hoping to use it to properly catalog all the MP3s on disk, assuming I get unlazy enough.

Heh, while I was Mon's place, he made the brilliant observation that practically everything we do is fueled by how lazy (or unlazy) we are at any time...

Monday, May 10, 2004

Halalan 2004

I'll probably leave for the voting place in a half an hour or so. Anyway, my choices are already made:

PRESIDENT : Roco, Raul
1. Alvarez, Heherson T.
2. Barbers, Robert
3. Biazon, Rodolfo
4. Chavez, Francisco
5. Escudero, Salvador
6. Gordon, Richard
7. Herrera, Ernesto F.
8. Hussin, Parouk
9. Mercado, Orlando
10. Pimentel, Aquilino Jr. Q.
11. Roxas, Manuel 'Mar' II
12. Yasay, Perfecto Jr.


A few notes, I suppose.

First, the internet is surprisingly useful to voters this time around. If you need to know where you're voting, is the place to start. Need help deciding? I used the sample ballot at the Eleksyon 2004 website to help me fill up those slots.

Regarding my choices, the Concilors are all allied with Lakas-CMD, hence they are part of Sonny Belmonte's ticket, who really deserves not only another term but a term with people he's chosen to ally himself with. For president, I chose Roco, 'coz hell, if by some miracle he wins I don't wanna miss my chance to gloat that I voted for the candidate who was right in every possible way. For the party-list rep, last time around I voted for Bayan Muna, but I don't really like how they're soft on the NPA, whether or not the military allegations are true. Akbayan, while still left-leaning (to balance the center-to-right preferences of most mainstream politicians), at least recognizes that the NPA Permit-to-Campaign fees are downright extortion and should be criminalized. For the Senators, the only unusual choice is Doc Hussin (more Muslim representation), but the rest should be obvious. I actually had only 11 senators listed before deciding on Hussin.

So what will happen to the country now? Who knows, for a while I was thinking of voting for FPJ just to see what kind of new crap our country can go through...