Down boy, down

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Let me get the caveat out of the way: I was raised as a Roman Catholic by my pious paternal grandmother. I spent 13 years in Catholic schools and university. I progressed from being a Roman Catholic to non-practising, and now agnostic. It is possible that you visited my ranting space through a link I may have inadmittedly provided. You may not like what you read below so better close your browser tab now.

I love Godwin’s Law which, even though it is named that way, does not have any connection to religion. It is a de facto law invoked in cyber discussions wherein the first person who uses a Nazi comparison or reference loses the discussion immediately regardless of how brilliant their points are.

I wish there would be something similar for people who just love to bring their religion into the middle of everything. Especially those who think that referencing their omnipotent lord through all capitalized letters is a testament of their faith. I would, in my own twisted and probably ill-thought way, disagree for the following reasons:

  • Capitalization as instructed by my grammar teachers should only be used on the first letter if you want to use that word as a proper noun.
  • All-caps in textual communication denotes shouting.
  • Or, putting everything in caps can denote an initialism or acronym. An example can be Goods of Desire, or Security Administrator Tool for Analyzing Networks

Some might argue that they see nothing wrong if they are proud to shout and profess their faith in regular discussions. I would like to challenge you to think it over again. Do you shout that same word every time during real-life discussions? If you do, then I hope we don’t have any opportunities to communicate. Ever.

Rabid

Everybody is to free and have the right to believe in what they believe in. My point was not to be lazy and try to work out that everything is about religion or can be explained automatically by using a religious reference. Not everybody have the same belief, and cramming that at our throats every discussion doesn’t help your cause. Whenever I see that during discussions I actually feel less inclined to participate further. It feels to me that I am conversing with a Dothraki native who thinks spouting “It is Known” while nodding their heads actually gives credibility to what they said.

A world of free text books and the money-making academe

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Chin Wong has a blog post about a site offering and campaigning for free text books. The idea is really a novel one (pun intended ;P ) wherein it spouts a utopian scenario that teachers and knowledgeable scribes contribute in evolving the textbook contents. I am however skeptical if it would be applicable here in the Philippines.

Face it, all schools offering academic teaching below the collegiate level makes a killing out of book and supplies sales. What else can explain the sudden surge for workbooks wherein it requires the students to rip out pages for submission?

A decade or so ago ripping books is considered a sacrilegious activity. Anybody doing it is labeled as an ignorant vandal who doesn’t understand the value of the knowledge printed in the pages they are destroying. Books are something that is cared for and passed on to a younger sibling or to the child of the neighbor who would be using them again in their quest of enlightenment (or that elusive diploma). As a self-professed voracious reader and book lover, I almost cried when I opened my niece’s workbook from a previously concluded school year. It looked like a middle-aged person raped violently by a ward of death-row convicts.

Then there is the sudden upsurge in the practice of selling school supplies with official schools seals. The problem is that these cost double than what it would normally sell in the free market. School officials argue that the latter promotes equality among its students because nobody uses luxurious items like high-end ballpoint pens and notebooks with high-substance paper. If that is the case then why the high price point? If printing the official seal doubles the price then why not just pick a standard supplier for the materials and enforce that, or subsidize the materials themselves. Why can’t those materials be considered as the norm but still allow students to use the cost-effective Panda ballpen?

I think it is the older man in me talking but the academe circles has degraded to the point that we now have schools being ran as businesses first and learning institutions second.

ciao!

Sizzling disappointment

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I am one of the proud to proclaim as a “promdi” (“from the province”) and one of my early memories was when the whole family undertakes a trip to Manila every few years to spend some time in the city during the Christmas season. We would always go to SM City as it was the first huge mall in the country and still spanking new. Daddy will always take us to the basement food court and if we are lucky we can get to watch a live episode of “Kuwarta o Kahon”. We will always order our lunch from the “Sizzling Plate” kiosk which always sports a very long line of waiting customers. I always wait in anticipation as Daddy and Kuya brings in the sizzling plates bearing different meat viands. Daddy always orders the sizzling porterhouse or tenderloin steak which in my young mind was very expensive (around Php35-45 I think).

Fast forward two decades, and I find myself in front of the “Sizzling Plate” kiosk in the SM Taytay food court. Neth is on her 6th day of the General Motors diet so she can only eat beef and vegetables. We were eyeing the tenderloin steak (~Php130) after confirming with the kiosk servers that it is indeed of the beef variety. While I was deciding on what to get, the servers offered their new Christmas sizzling plate: stuffed squid with a piece of pork asado and two pieces of fried bananas plus a small serving of coffee jelly for dessert, all of it for an affordable price of Php125. I like grilled squid so why not?

As sizzling plate orders are always prepared or finished off only after being ordered I waited for a few minutes to get our order. I asked Neth to scout the other kiosks for vegetable viands as she won’t be able to eat the rice that comes with her beef tenderloin order. First to come out was my Christmas plate. The squid was a bit small and orange-y in color but it is definitely stuffed. The pork had some asado sauce poured in it with a few strips of semi-fresh cabbage on top for garnish. I took it to our table as the sizzling plate and drinks was already crowding the tray. When I got back into the counter the sizzling tenderloin was already coming out and I was suprised at how tiny the tenderloin meat was. It was a good thing Neth already ordered one fresh lumpia to augment her meal. I proceeded to our table with the tenderloin and we settled in to have our lunch.

Everything went downhill after the first bite. The squid tasted bland even with the pork stuffing. Neth complained that her tenderloin tasted like it was a few days old and tasteless even with a healthy dollop of gravy. After a few more bites she pushed her sizzling plate away and concentrated on her lumpia. I took a few bites off the tenderloin and it indeed tasted like some leftovers that I have left in the refrigerator for a few days. It was that bad. I manned up and tried to finish my own meal which was an exercise in practicality (hey I paid for that food so it shouldn’t go to waste!) and futility. The pork asado, being served in that tiny portion already, had a large bone. I thought the coffee jelly was going to be the redeeming portion of the meal but I was wrong. I put it down after the first bite which amazed Neth as I rarely waste any served food. I said that it was literally coffee jelly: you can see the separation between what is coffee and what is jelly. She asked for a tiny sample which I obliged. She suddenly went to a Batanguenyo[1] accent saying “Ala e, sa amin ay iniinom lang ang kape. (Ala e, in our place coffee is only being drank) to which I gamely responded in the same accent with “Ala e, sa amin ay tinitimpla muna ang kape at hindi ibinubodbod ng ganyan-ganyan lang (Ala e, in our place coffee is prepared first and not just sprinkled over food just like that)”.

When all has been said and done, both of us agreed that it will be the last time that we would be eating at Sizzling Plate. And there goes a memory that will only remain as such in the near and not-so-near future. What a waste of a good franchise.

[1] Habitants of Batangas which is famous for strong coffee

ciao!

The most Murphy’s day of my life… so far

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In a nutshell, Murphy’s law states that whatever can go wrong will go wrong and at the most inopportune time. This day for me seems to to be the most literal example of that law and it seems to crown a really crappy week:

  • My “so called” team has never been complete the whole week.
  • Nothing seems get to the state that can be called as “done”.
  • Screening of the “fit to contribute” recruits across the company isn’t going well.
  • Issues germinate like dormant spores and each one comes unwrapped with a tag of “URGENT: RESOLVE IMMEDIATELY OR GLOBAL MELTDOWN IMMINENT”
  • I have had the introduction to the project incident report template and mastery of accomplishing one in a single week.
  • I got tagged for not finishing the work I wasn’t even scheduled to do on time even if it would supposedly only take a few hours (and which task isn’t supposed to get done in a few hours?)
  • A little storm called “Basyang” decided to kill the power and water supply in our area w/c forced us to stay in an overpriced hotel-esque place. This reminds me that I need to create a mini-review for that place.

Those are just some examples for the week and just for today:

  • My “change” can’t be completed because it hasn’t passed UAT execution because…
  • The environment decided to crap out the whole week and be excessively stubbon today that no requested build from me ever finishes successfully. It doesn’t matter that I went to the office earlier than usual to get the testing done.
  • I got tagged for not being prepared to present items in a meeting attended by the client. It doesn’t matter that the list items magically appeared in the list and it hasn’t really come into my attention.
  • My change suddenly had a twin ticket that I wasn’t aware of, and the approach is still dubious as it smells of too much patch-me solution.
  • Everybody is too busy to submit admin requirements. And that is because I really don’t do anything each day but be a PHB and think of useless things to assign to my team.
  • I said I will leave at 7:30PM, announced to the powers-that-be that I will leave at 7:30PM, and then get stuck in ten thousand little important tasks that made me walk the hallway with the powers-that-be at 8:15PM. The powers-that-be are on their way to a meeting that I declined because I need to go leave at 7:30PM!
  • And to top it all off, I still don’t feel like I am contributing anything. This is the feeling that I really, really hate. Life is getting consumed by work that is starting to leave a bad taste in my mouth because I don’t feel empowered nor ingenious enough to really make a difference.

    Oh life… I just need to accept that this is one of my “Shit Happens days & it will keep on pouring”.

    ciao!

Only if you were greedy

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One thing I hate about all of these unlimited SMS promo is that it has increased the amount of spam text messages that I receive in my mobile. It is not uncommon for me to receive at least one per week as the barrier for spamming has been greatly reduced.

Here is the most recent 319ish spam message that I got split into logical sentences to ease the English and human-speak translation.


E2 bago # ko. / Here is my new number.
musta na kau? / How are you?
ok lang naman ako dito. / I am alright here.
may ipapadala ako sa inyo mga gmit! / I have some stuff to send you!
mer0n ka d0n.. / You have a reserved item there..
pakiloadn mo nga muna ng 300.. / Can you please load 300 (credits) to this number…
imp0rtante lang. thanx. / It’s just important. Thanks,.

The Filipino language is very intimate and respectful so the things that might not be readily discernible that the sender was always using the plural form of you to denote that (s)he is talking about the recipient’s family.

My alarm bells got tripped mainly by the fact that I don’t know the sender’s number and there is no mention of any name that will tell me that I really know the person who sent the message. It just banked on two things: getting on the Filipino’s family-oriented nature to get credibility and respect, and the human nature’s penchant for greed.

As with all spam operations, the rate of “biters” is very little so if every text message sent is equal to one peso then the ROI for SMS spamming is a very steep curve. The telco promotions cured that financial barrier as one night of unlimited SMS sending capabilities can cost as little as Php25. A crafty spammer only needs to hook up a phone to a computer and begin blasting these messages in the hope of catching one or two gullible greedy souls.

For those who did bite, I can’t say I empathize with you as you only have your greed to blame.

ciao!

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