Marriage according to a stick

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I watched parts of an episode of According to Jim wherein it was Jim’s birthday and Cheryl (the wife) managed to coerce their children to giving Jim gifts that she wants him to get. Jim ended up with a hand moisturizer (from son Kyle), a tacky, sleeveless golf vest (from daughters Rubie and Gracie) and a professional painting set from Cheryl. There is only one problem, Jim hated all of it but was pretending that he does like the gifts to avoid further discussion.

The plot thickens at bed time when Jim entered their bedroom and saw Cheryl assembling the painting kit. A confrontation ensues wherein Jim blurted out his feelings about the gifts. He said that Cheryl was doing it every year. Cheryl defended that she always put a lot of thought in those gifts but Jim countered that she was giving him gifts that Jacque, Cheryl’s imaginary ideal alter-ego of his husband, would want. She was giving him these gifts hoping that they will change him, and he doesn’t like it.

The following day, Kyle approached his dad and said that the gift was his mom’s idea and gave him his real gift. It was a long crooked stick with blue ribbons. Cheryl saw it and proceeded to take it to throw it away but Jim said that he likes it because it is a gift from his son who loves and idolizes him for who he is. The next few scenes show Jim flaunting the gift to Cheryl’s chagrin by using it in almost every mundane task. Fast forward in the end and through a couple of comic innuendos, Cheryl came into the realization of Jim’s message and traded the painting set for a large, flat rock with the word “Acceptance” painted at the bottom. Jim found a perfect use for it: crushing nuts.

This is what I love about sitcoms, they present little truths in an exaggerated comical package but if you think about it they are showing the lessons to be gathered from everyday happenings. How many marriages would be saved if both man and wife would begin accepting each other, with all their faults and weaknesses?

I read somewhere that love is not about being able to appreciate your partner’s strengths but rather how you could complement their weaknesses. Marriage is not about becoming one person, but rather growing as two persons who agree on most topics, and tolerate each other on the topics that they disagree on.

Change is inevitable but change does not have to be sudden. Sudden change rarely brings favorable results. Ice age was a sudden change and read about what it did to most species on this planet. The same can be said for trying to suddenly change your partner to bend to your will. The saying from Robert Henlein comes into mind “Never try to teach a pig to sing; it wastes your time and it annoys the pig.” For change to become permanent it must come at a glacial pace. This way the person changing grows accustomed to it, or likes it subconsciously. I am not encouraging people to resort to using subterfuge on their partners to instigate change because that only works until your partner finds out that you were manipulating them and nobody wants to wake up with the realization that their happy moments were nothing but an intricate scheme. The person must want the change either consciously or otherwise.

Food for thought, why would you even want to change your partner? Weren’t they already like that when you began liking them? What do you expect to gain from getting your partner to mirror your likes and dislikes, share your whims and fancy? I hear couples saying that they are perfect with each other since they share so many things in common. They like the same food, music, hobbies, etc. They even share the same taste in fashion and have the same circle of friends. Wow, the only type of people that I know who have the same kind of view are the narcissistic ones. Were you really looking for a mirror image when you were looking for somebody to love? Homogeny eventually leads to monotony. Imagine eating the same food every day, doing the same routine everyday, and talking about the same thing everyday. If you think that is perfect then either you have a very simplistic outlook in life, or a pretty bad liar.

I am blessed in this respect that my wife, Neth, was almost my exact opposite. We have very little in common in terms of what we like in things, in our outlook in life. We were classmates in high school so we have some common friends (some whom we are still in communication with). We went to different schools in college. In the end, fate (with a little help from our common high school friends) led us to each other again and we have been together ever since.

As what is typical in new relationships we strived to make our relationship work. Looking back I can say that even when we were just starting to know each other, we were already changing without us knowing. But this is the kind wherein we were adjusting to each other’s eccentricity, she more than me. We got to know each other, reveling in each little discovery. Marveling in what new thing we would find out about each other, and about ourselves. We spent six years doing that until we decided to get married.

It has been more than three years living as husband and wife, and we are still discovering new things about ourselves. Some are changes that were long in the making. The discoveries are now far in between as we have become familiar with each other’s moods. The little things that we found cute or adorable sometimes become things that drive us nuts. That’s alright in my book as I know that after those spells we will come back to the reality that we love each other. That is called acceptance, not of the inevitable and hopeless but the fact that we are two lucky persons who happened to have found love, marriage and lasting happiness. I think my wife is still trying to change me in some ways that drives me insane but I can live with that as I have accepted that part of my wife. The friendster testimonial I gave her a few years ago still stands:

How do I describe her? I will surely
fail but I will definitely try…

She is the reason why I see the world in
a whole different light. She provides
the contrast of my life; she is my
strength and my weakness; the person who
can send chills down my spine but
radiate warmth during my trying times;
she can make me laugh and shed tears
like nobody else could. My best friend
and confidante. Simply put, my better
half, my passion-embraced. She is my
little spitfire. Her diminutive frame
belies her strong grip on my heart. I
feel so lucky to be blessed by such a woman.

I love you my labsc. I am looking
forward to living the rest of my life
with you.


The Kronborg visit

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Last Friday Michael, our Danish ex-expatriate in Manila, extended a generous offer of taking the Pinoy assignees to visit some exciting places in Denmark. He has heard that we were not able to go around and we have been here for more than 4 months! The trip was set on Sunday morning, October 28.

Michael invited us to go and visit the Kronborg castle, the setting of the famous play Hamlet. Michael’s family originally offered to take Girlie, Francis and me but we asked if we can bring some of our colleagues especially those that have been in the country for less than 6 months. As of Saturday night, Tina and Alvin was supposed to come with us but they became victims of a late-starting drinking session in our apartment. Their resolve to come got washed away by some unholy concoction that Girlie was able to whip up using gin, sprite and lemon soda. 😀

Anyway, we took Francis’ car to Michael’s place where we arrived within the designated time (this is what Filipino time is all about!). Michael was skeptical with our light jackets even when I said that my fleece jacket is good of until -3 degrees if there is no wind. Michael’s eyes tinkled with devilish mischief and said “but there will always be wind, let’s see…”. He even showed his the jumpsuits his kids are wearing for the trip. 🙁

Since our Dansk lingual skills are next to zero, I went with Michael’s car and Anette (Michael’s wife) went with Francis and Girlie. The trip to Elsinore was filled with chatting about news about the Philippines, and politics in the office.

When we arrived in the parking space near the Castle entrance I got buffeted by strong winds coming from the open channel. The temperature was somewhere between 8 and 10 degrees but the chill factor is making our body shake. Girlie and I were only wearing T-shirts. My pants were even low-waisted and my shirt is not tucked! Chilling winds? How about chilling winds that gets free access to your skin? 🙁

When we got to the castle grounds we got a little reprieve from the winds. I never got the chance to read the posters at the entrance since doing so means I have to stay a little longer on the mercy of the winds. I don’t think the information is worth that much. The comfort room was directly after the entrance so the it was my first stop so I can tuck my inner shirt. Imagine what comfort a simple thing like tucking shirt tails can bring.

Erin and Soy

Michael doubled up as our tour guide in the castle. We got tickets for the #2 package which includes the visit to the Royal Apartments and the Casement (or what I would like to call as the Dungeon). The weirdness in me manifested itself because between the artsy Royal Apartments and the gloomy dungeon, I would pick the dungeon anytime.

In the dungeon, we met Holger Dansk who is fabled to wake up from his mighty slumber in the bowels of Kronborg castle if Denmark suddenly finds itself threatened. I was a little bit disappointed in our dungeon pictures because they were not able to catch the almost pitch-black “ambiance” of the dungeons.


After the dungeons, we had some more picture taking at the ramparts. Michael must be shaking his head in shame with the three crazy Filipinos acting weirdly and snapping pictures. 🙂

Since it was too cold, Michael and Francis went ahead to pick up the cars and we waited in the castle ground entrance. A car parked in front of us and I thought I caught a glimpse of Michael in the driver’s seat. I noticed that there is a single child seat on the backseat (the other one was transferred to Francis’ car for Maya (Michael’s daughter) so I opened the second passenger door and invited Jonathan (Michael’s son) to hop in. Jonathan, who doesn’t understand English, just looked at me like a crazy nut then the driver got down started asking me questions in Danish. Imagine my shock when I realized that the car was not Michael’s!!! Anette and Girlie were heckling me about giving Jonathan away to strangers. I guess I earned my 5 minutes of foolishness at that moment. 😀

From the castle, Michael decided to take us to a side trip on the beach front where the affluent lives with their huge houses with water front/beach front vie,w and super expensive luxury cars. We were going to “the Forest” but stopped in a bakery to buy some bread as we haven’t eaten lunch and it was already 3PM. When we got to the forest we decided against strolling since it was too cold, there is a slight drizzle, and Francis can take us back there if we want to. We rode again and went to this Arne Jacobsen building to appreciate “Modern and Contemporary Danish Art” but the building was closed so we just ended up walking around it. 🙂

After that we went back to Michael’s house for some Kapeng Barako (which Francis promised to replenish if he will come back to Denmark on January) and some cake. We went home after the coffee and some exchange of pleasantries.

Good thing Penpen lent us his camera or else we won’t have anything to show for it. As this blog is hosted on a thrifty 100MB space, I decided to hunt around for some free image hosting service. Picasa won over Flickr for its large free space, and the fact that it is hosted by Google. 🙂 Anyway, here is my Kronborg picasa album for those who want to see more of our pictures. 🙂


Mandriva 2008 experience (day 3)

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Day 3.

Starting up the laptop again to try my luck in getting wireless and wired connections working side by side. My laptop is now a permanent resident of the living room that it is so sad. 🙁

Every sign still point to the same effects: no wireless connection, missing wlan0 device during startup, lots of errors about a thousand things during shutdown but I guess I can skip them for now.

I tried reading materials on the web specifically on the Arch Linux site as I like the way information are posted there. I can’t find any stuff that seems applicable to what I am experiencing. I tried restarting a couple of times but I am still stuck. And twice the shutdown got stuck literally.

I tried shutting down eth0 again and the keyboard input went nuts again and stopped responding. I tried rebooting using the touchpad and was able to get out of X then everything went blank. I am missing my toothpick today so I just took a pen and did a hard reset.

Next step I did was to uninstall mandi which I read does the hotplugging of network devices. I am not sure of the impact but I am getting desperate and I want to isolate where the problem really is. Bye-bye mandi service which took out two other mandi package which I am assuming is for the ethernet and wireless connections. The Windows habit kicks in and I rebooted to make sure all changes are in.

After the reboot (and the message that wlan is missing), I am back into KDE. I tried reconfiguring the Wireless connection, and it was able to connect and get an IP address. I was already smiling then I made the unthinkable: the Yes option was selected in the screen asking if I want the connection to start at boot. That effectively killed the wireless connection.

I tried bringing down eth0 to test the effect of gutting the mandi service out and then I lost my keyboard input again. Ballpoint pen to the rescue, and now I am typing this in Windows in a wireless connection.

From what I can see right now I have two options:

  1. Post this problem in the Mandriva Users Board and wait two days for some suggestion on how to fix this problem, or
  2. Reinstall another distribution. I already have finished downloading the latest Arch release and have it burned into a CD.

Hmmn, one is for patience and the other is for another adventure. I think I will go for the first option first and see if I can learn something new in return.

Since this might be the end of this series, at least MDV2008 gave me something good that I haven’t experienced before: the scroll button on the touchpad works out of the box. Even Windows can’t make that work. 🙂


Mandriva 2008 experience (part two)

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Last night I decided to continue digging around the problems I had with my spanking new Mandriva 2008 installation. Booting my laptop shows that the wlan0 device is still missing during network initialization. This is going to be a problem so I lug my laptop and power brick to the living room so I can have a wired connection to help solve the problem.

I am assuming that the problem is somehow related to the way the wireless connection is being brought up. I read some information about ndiswrapper and iwconfig and decided to do some tinkering. I decided to shutoff the wired connection to better know when I finally get my wireless connection working. This is when the proverbial s#17 hits the proverbial fan.

Shocker of the night #1.

After clicking the system tray network utility to close down eth0 the processor then starts to do something. And then somewhere between something and nothing. Ten minutes and I still haven’t got anything and the menu windows has started to be rendered as blank squares.

Mouse works. I can move my pointer but the keyboard is dead. The capslock, numlock and scroll lock keys are not inducing any reaction. Since the mouse is still usable and I am in KDE then there is still a way out. I clicked on the K button, and proceeded to restart the laptop.

Shocker of the night #2.

Shutdown seems to work but stopped during the shutdown of the mandi service. My only option at this point is push the hard reset button with a toothpick. Exasperated and since the night is still early I decided to perform another clean install over my new Mandriva 2008 installation.

Installation #2.

Same drill. I just selected to reuse my partitions since I don’t want to mess with the partitioning. During the package selection I checked the manual package selection option (like always) and then proceeded to the next screen.

Shocker of the night #3.

The installer proceeded with the installation. What!?! Where did the manual selection screen go? I was thinking when I saw that the installation will take around an hour. I don’t want this selection as the default selection will consume about 90% of my root partition where my /usr resides. I think streamlining the packages afterwards is going to be far difficult than starting all over again. Out cames the toothpick to press the hard reset and restart the installation process.

Installation #3.

Same drill except the installer now hanged after the license screen. I waited 15 minutes before taking out the magic toothpick. Man, this toothpick is my McGyver’s all-around magic utility tonight.

Installation #4.

Same installation drill. I am beginning to hate the Mandriva 2008 installation background. No fiasco on the package selection and I would only need to wait 26 minutes for all selected packages to be installed. Neat. I think I spent more time than that during the past few attempts.

At the configuration page I decided to skip the configuration of the network. I figure to do it once the system is functioning. Restarted the Linux system twice just to be sure (I think I am developing an OC identity 😀 ).

Booted into KDE and then installed ndiswrapper which prompted the installation of other packages. I also installed the prism54 firmware that I have saved in /storage/packages/NoArch. After this I tried configuring the wireless connection first by using the Intersil Javelin drivers (prism54). At the end of the configuration wizard I still don’t have any wireless connection. The system can’t even list the wireless routers in the vicinity.

I fired up the network connection wizard again and selected the ndiswrapper option. This time the system is able to list the connections found in the apartment. I configured the parameters for our router that uses a WPA PSK. I still can’t get any connection. Just for the heck of it, I rebooted the machine and LO AND BEHOLD the dreaded error message is back informing me that the wlan0 driver is back.

Hell. I give up for now. If I don’t get my wireless connection up within the week then I am ditching Mandriva for now since my 2007.1 installer is in Manila. I will take this as a sign for me to try other distributions in this laptop.

Time to sleep.


Techie story rampage

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Here are some techie stories that I have read this week. The long novel about system admins was something that I have read from the PLUG mailing list. The two stories about test coverage was something I happened to visit when I was researching about some coverage items that I am evaluating. Have fun!

Have fun, and hope you learn something along the way.


Mandriva 2008 Experience

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After almost a week of downloading it via torrent, I have finally finished downloading the latest and the greatest of Free DVD version of Mandriva Linux. The md5sum checks out so I off to burning it goes so I can begin installation on the following day (I still need to go to work!)

Machine: Fujitsu Siemens Amilo ProV7010, 3.0Ghz, 1.5GB. Code name: Lala (the laptop)

Installation _the first time_ was pretty painless. Mandriva was up and running within 30 minutes. I performed an install and reused my partitions, retaining only the contents of /home and /storage.

First problem: Wireless was not working.

No problemo as this already happened with 2007. Lugged my laptop in the shared living room and used a wired connection to connect to the Internet. Configured a DHCP connection using the network utility in the system tray. Did a quick visit to to look for the prism54-firmware package. Download, open terminal, su to root , install firmware package. Disconnect wired connection.

Using the network utility in the system tray, I tried to configure a Wireless connection. I opted to use the Intersil Javelin driver instead ndiswrapper. Configuration was reported to be successful. Weirdly, there is no wireless connection.

Tried the network configuration utility again to redo the wireless connection. This time I opted to use the ndiswrapper route. Everything looks good. Along the way the wireless connection got connected and the system tray got the ! Yipee! At the last screen I was asked if I want to start the connection during startup. Oh yes! Press OK.

Network system tray popped with a red error message. No connection. Eyebrows began to meet. What the? Right-click on the system tray->Manage Wireless Connections, select wireless router that is a few feet of me. Laptop does something. After a few minutes still no connection. ifconfig, iwconfig , man. Nothing.

Open network system tray again. Do the wireless configuration again. Before the last screen I noticed that the system tray network utility reports a connection again. Do you want to start the connection at startup? Thanks but no thanks buddy. I selected no and dismissed the wizard.

Ok, so I now have a wireless connection. I lugged my laptop back to my room at the other end of the apartment. So far so good. Started up Mozilla Thunderbird to get my mail. Nothing happens. My accounts were recognized but my mails are not in the mailboxes!

Reboot to Windows to check. Goodie, my mails are still all there. I checked the Thunderbird version and they are the same:

Rebooted to Mandriva, and then I got my second shock. During the network boot scripts, an error was shown that the wlan0 device is not available. Upon boot-up I did the trick with the network utility and all is fine again.

Time to sleep. I need to figure out what went wrong with the initialization part of the wireless boot up.


Middle management

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On one of the leadership seminars (just humor me. they want to make me a leader) I attended one of the speakers addressed the participants in this way “you are now in the cross roads of your careers. you are now in place to be the mediator of the management and the rank and file. you are no longer wholly part of the rank and file since you have to begin looking at the business side of the equation.”

Ok, so that is already a paraphrase of what the speaker said. Regardless, my understanding of the whole thing makes me feel giddy inside. Why should there even be a distinction? Is the rift between management and staff really that wide that they can never meet? This might be stereotypical but the staff generally views management as people who doesn’t care about the life of the ordinary employee while the common perception of management is that the staff is incapable of understanding the big picture thus incapable of making the correct decisions.

Why can’t a person be both? Why do we have to choose? Does getting promoted really means swimming with the sharks? Does achieving the next level really require a shift in ones belief and norm? Does one have to compromise one’s principle to cross the perceived rift?

Instead of a cross-road I am finding myself walking in a tightrope. I still want to view myself as one of the staff since technically I am still a staff member. I just happen to be in a place where I ideally viewed it as a place wherein I can effect more changes. These are the same changes that I have always been clamoring when I was still below a lead position.

I think my problem is that I am cursed with this desire to be neutral but at the same time have this streak of idealism burdened with a lot of pragmatism. I want to have my cake and eat it too. Why can’t I have it both ways with my decisions? Why should every decision be viewed and weighed if it was tainted by management or staff concerns rather than being weighed on its own merits?

It might just be a transition phase (or in staff parlance, my heart is still beating) but I am getting tired of being cut off for every non-trivial decision I make. This is where I abhor being a leader, rather being happy with being an adviser. The latter have the luxury of letting others with the ambition run the show but at the same time have enough inputs to steer the greater master plan.

Paraphrasing something I have heard from a friend;

Don’t walk in front of me for I may not follow.
Don’t walk behind me for I may not lead.
Walk beside me so that we may learn from each other.

Why can’t the life of (middle) management be like that?