Thursday, June 09, 2011

Updates 3

Yeah, this is my 3rd Updates post. The first one was about physical pain (caused by my impacted tooth), and the second one tackled my emotional pain (my year-end drama). Now don't worry, this isn't under that topic anymore. Err, actually, I've got a lot of things to cover, so I'll stop linking my previous posts now...

  • My Nokia E63 is confined in the hospital! LOL no, it's in the hands of the Nokia Care Center at Glorietta 3. Here's the story: I was going home from work when I noticed that the battery of my phone was warm (it was turned off). So I took it off and let it cool. After a few minutes, I put the battery back and turned the phone on, but to no avail. I thought that the battery simply had no charge, so when I got home, I plugged the charger in. But the battery just got hot again, and that's when I decided to take it to the Nokia Care Center. They replaced the battery free of charge! However, after a few minutes of using the phone and turning it off, it all happened again. And so, I went back to the center and explained my brother's theory: the problem must be in the motherboard of the phone. Now, I'm just waiting for the center's diagnosis and solution. Thank God for warranties! But hey, this is no simple matter. I got depressed for a couple of days, you know. Perhaps due to separation anxiety or something. I only bought that phone last April, and the money was worked hard for. Ooh, I miss it so much!
  • My normal schedule is back! After a month of experiencing the night shift and not liking it, finally, they let me go back to the day (9AM to 6PM). I have a new position, of course, and it's a much more challenging one. Before, I was just doing one aspect of SEO, but now, it's like everything is taken care of by my team. Well, not really everything, but it's enough to make our job very sensitive. I got a lot of upgrades, though. Hihi! Anyway, I can't give any more details, so just be happy for me. LOL!
  • Have you ever heard of the term mood-cooking? It's self-explanatory, but I'm gonna share this thing that I read from Food-ology:
Mood-cooking takes meal success and recipe organization to a whole new level: recipes paired by mood!

If you are feeling indulgent, withdrawn, adventurous or fickle – use that self awareness to enhance, support or lift your mood through food!
With a gloomy mood (because I'm down with fever and it's been raining since yesterday), I decided to make two pasta dishes: Kung Pao and Cheesy Pesto. No, I didn't make them from scratch. I used the ready-made sauces from Clara Ole. And I'm telling you, they're delicious! They don't taste store-bought at all.

Kung Pao

Cheesy Pesto

Cheesy Pesto with Parmesan Cheese

  • My Nutella Review is coming very soon! Actually, my mind was already set to doing it today, but I had to postpone it again because of my stupidity. This weekend, perhaps? I hope I find the drive. Anyway, this is what happened:

Notice the layer of frozen grease on top?
I put it in the refrigerator! Ugh, stupid me, I know. Too bad I didn't see this first:

That's what happens when people don't read labels.

So, that's it! Four updates in a post. Gosh, I hope I still get to keep this up. My work doesn't have anything to do with blogs anymore, and I'm afraid I might grow tired of this again. I really hope not! I swear, my next post will be about my review of Nutella... and others.

Nutella vs. Finetti vs. Nusica vs. Goya

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Building My Own Emergency Fund

At last!!!

Money money money money! Moooooney!

Okay, here's the thing. For the past five months, I've been saving my 5 and 10-peso coins by keeping them in this cylindrical coin bank thingy (I don't know what it's called in English, but in Tagalog it's alkansya). I even have my paper money exchanged for coins sometimes just to fill it up quickly. Well, that didn't work since it still took me five months, but hey, it got filled up anyway. Look!

God knows how many times I got tempted to open it

Actually, it got so heavy that it already passed as a dumbbell for me. I used it to "lift weights" in the morning. LOL! Anyway, all that hard work pushing myself to commit to this personal project has definitely paid off. And now, I'm P2,500 richer! Can you believe it? I can't! I mean, those who know me well are aware that I find it hard to finish things that I start, so this is quite an achievement for me.

A nearby convenience store was more than happy to exchange all my coins with paper money. Did I use the cash right away and bought something from the store to reward myself? Hell no! Haha, I surprised myself yet again. So, what am I planning to do with the money? I'm keeping it as a start-up for my emergency fund.

Where the hell did I get the idea of putting up one? It's these blogs about saving money and budgeting that I've been reading lately at work. They've influenced me and made me see why everyone should have a fund for emergency cases. And I mean that -- everyone should.

I realized that the term "job security" doesn't make sense anymore these days. Also, age doesn't guarantee you good health. So I thought that I have to have some back-up in case of a mishap that would require me to shell out money. Some think it's just paranoia, but I think it's being smart.

How much am I planning to save? Experts say that a good emergency fund consists of three to six months worth of your expenses. In that case, I still have a looooong way to go. I'm using my salary as a basis, so I'm not gonna stop until my fund amounts to a month's pay. Well, that's my goal for now, for the second leg of this project. Once I achieve that, I'm going to set the bar higher and higher

Financial security is extremely important to me
The thing is, I really hate financial insecurity. It makes me uncomfortable when I'm cognizant that I've used up all my money and I don't have any spare at all. It eats me up like the way conscience haunts you when you did something terrible. But I don't have to worry about that anymore, do I? Woohoo! P2,500 is not that much, but it's still money. Heck, some people can't even save a thousand bucks, let alone twice of that.

As I bid goodbye to bankruptcy, I welcome a whole new challenge. This time, I have to work twice as hard. I have to maintain my habit of saving coins, and at the same time, prevent myself from spending my savings. Who knows, I might even take it up a notch and save more than just coins. Whew, wish me luck on that!

And to end this post, let me tell you this. I know that many of you feel the same way about financial security. So I insist, start planning your own emergency fund now! There are many ways to do that. You can engage in something similar to what I do, or open a savings account, or whatever. But I suggest that you start small. Making big leaps can make you lose interest right away, so do baby steps first. Remember: little things matter!

Happy saving, everyone. :)

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Review: Nokia E63

This is it. The change to night shift will finally happen in a couple of days. No more delays and turning back. Starting Monday, I'm gonna be working from 8PM to 5AM. And possibly until 8AM because the OT saga is still going on. So, how am I feeling about this? I'm a little scared, yet excited too. This is something new, and I can't wait to know how it will work out for me and my teammates. Bring it on, night shift! :)

ANYWAY, this is really not about that. This post is a quick review of my recently acquired phone Nokia E63.

Yes, I got the black one. I wanted the red one actually, but the phone store didn't have any stock of it, so I settled for what was left. By the way, I've read that there's a limited edition white E63, but NO THANKS. It looks like a bar of soap.

So how am I gonna do this review? By aspects and bullets, of course. I'm gonna examine the phone's design, functions, and price. Also, there will be comparisons to my usage of my former phone Samsung C3303K Champ, so if you wanna understand those parts, better read my review for that one.

  • I wanted a new phone because I got sick of Samsung Champ's touch screen. So I got QWERTY, and I got it real good. However, since my thumbs are abnormally big, typing is still a hit and miss for me. Well, if I really wanted big keys, I should've opted for this phone:
  • I love holding my E63. It fits my hand perfectly, it's not too thick nor too thin, the weight is not a burden at all, and the soft finish of the paint is delightful to touch. Look Ma, no fingerprints!
  • As opposed to the blue and red choices, black makes it look more like a business phone. And I should start using it like one.
  • The home screen is such a convenience for me. I can put up to 6 frequently used applications there so I don't have to open the menu one by one. Also, there are programs that can be controlled from the home screen once I've activated it, like the Music player, Wi-Fi scanner, and E-mail notification.
  • Nokia E63 relies heavily on the Internet. I need to connect first in order to use the interesting functions of the phone, such as Maps, Podcasting, and Internet Radio. Good thing I'm on postpaid, so I have instant access to mobile Internet whenever there's no wi-fi signal around.
  • This is NOT a pretentious business phone; it really was made for the working class. But since my job doesn't let me work outside the office, I don't use the E-mail, Quickoffice, Zip, and Printers applications yet. I wanted to use the Adobe PDF reader though for my Harry Potter e-books, but the pre-installed version doesn't fit the file to the screen, so it's a pain to read.
  • Thank goodness for the 3.5 mm audio plug! The quality of the sound the included headset produces is off-the-charts BAD, so I'm gonna have to buy a new set soon. Once I have that, plus my spacious micro SD card, I can finally convert my business phone to an iPod whenever I'm on the road and bored.
  • It's excellent for social networking. Just connect to free wi-fi, download the right apps (mine are Snaptu, Google, Foursquare, Facebook Chat, and loads of games), and you're in for several hours of fun. Web browsing is alright, but it's much better if you visit a site with a version for mobile web.
  • The camera is okay. The 2 MP camera doesn't perform well when there's no sufficient light, so I often have to rely on the flash (which, by the way, also functions as a flashlight). Here's a sample photo:
My messy bed captured with indoor light

  • I got it for P7,500. I think it's the second cheapest QWERTY model of Nokia (next to C3), and it happened to be a business phone. Nonetheless, I think it's fairly affordable. This phone is super packed with features that it overwhelmed me when I first got it. What more if I get to use the business applications, right?
  • However, the package disappoints. You only get the phone, a charger, a freakin' substandard headset, and the manual. NO DATA CABLE. Fortunately, the one that I use for my Samsung Champ works perfectly on the phone, so it wasn't a problem for me.

    Overall, I give Nokia E63 four out of five stars. There may be times when the phone reboots itself, but it's not that big of a deal for me since I think the phone deserves to do that once in a while. It's often the result of my impatience, anyway. LOL!

    Well, I really hope that I get the chance to use the business applications someday. It's the core of the phone, so my satisfaction will only be consummated by then. For now, I'm gonna enjoy Nokia E63 as a music player and a social networking platform.

    Note: Bedroom photo is mine.
    Update: Recently, I experienced a problem with this phone. Read about it here.

          Saturday, April 30, 2011

          My Blog Disappeared... Not!

          Early this week, I got so shocked when I found out after a login that my blog had disappeared. My dashboard said that I was not an author of any blogs, and both inbound links and search results led to a "blog not found" notice. It was like it never existed! After 20 posts, 85 comments, and thousands of pageviews, it never existed.

          At first, I thought that someone had hacked my account and deliberately deleted my blog. So I did a little experiment -- I created a new one (I don't know what came over me, but I named it "Spritzo") and deleted it myself. But after learning that we have the chance to undelete our blog for a short period (90 days I think), I quickly dismissed the odds.

          Then, a colleague told me that she was having problems logging in to her account. This made me think that there might just be a temporary issue in Blogger's system.

          Still, since I live and breathe cynicism as if it were a religion, I Googled about such blog disappearances and read forum posts. That was when I learned about the possibility that Blogger might have marked my blog as spam.

          My conscience is clean -- MY BLOG IS NOT SPAM. I should know. There was just a mistake and I had to correct it. Because I've put so much effort and thought into making this blog, I promised myself that I'm gonna do whatever it takes to have Google bring it back and make them apologize for marking my work as garbage.

          Yeah, I wanted the ginormous company to say sorry.

          And so, I made my own forum post, divulging the details of what happened. A contributor provided me with a lengthy reply, but I didn't get to use any of the info since I didn't understand squat. So I decided to just wait for a few more days before I take my protest to the next level, hoping that sooner or later, someone else would leave a more helpful message in my cry for help.

          For each day that passed, I prayed hard that my blog would just return magically and erase my bitterness about the incident. I was so desperate that I even thought searching for my posts in Google would resuscitate it like CPR. But every time I opened the links to no avail, my morale just got lower and lower. I got really depressed.

          Today wasn't any different. I wrote in my personal journal:
          "Dear diary... My blog is still gone. I don't know what do, I feel so helpless about it. My blogging career is over! :( Wait, no, I won't give up. I'm gonna raise hell. I will do everything to retrieve my blog. In fact, right now, I'm logging in t -- holy sh*t, my blog is baaaaack!!!"
          *end of reenactment*

          Hurrah! Blogger didn't delete it after all. They just had this boo-boo and now it has been fixed. My blog did disappear though, but after logging in a while ago, it was if nothing happened. Except for the presence of the experimental blog, which bothers me like I had OCD. All the content, comments, and pageviews -- they were all restored! I'm sooooo happy!

          But it haunted me again, that popular saying we all encounter from time to time: "You don't know what you got 'til it's gone." And so, I would like to take this opportunity to express my sincerest gratitude to everyone for reading and supporting my blog. I know you're only a handful, but you've done so much to inspire me to keep doing this. For each press on your keyboard to type in a comment, and for each click of your mouse to open my posts -- THANK YOU. It's been only 6 months, but for me, the response has been overwhelming already. You made this possible:

          Too bad, there won't be any apologies from Google anymore. But still, thank you thank you thank you!!! And I promise, I'm gonna keep on writing. I will try my best to be a better blogger who creates posts with more substance. Here's a sneak peak of what's to come:

          • Review: Nutella & Others
          • Emergency Fund
          • Review: Nokia E63
          • Review: Nivea For Men 10-in-1 Whitening Facial Foam (Nutri-Repair)

          I hope you guys stick around for these! Thanks again. :)

          P.S. I didn't really write that in my diary.

          Saturday, April 23, 2011

          Review: Source Code

          It's been a while since I made a movie review! My take on Megamind was written more than 5 months ago, so I guess it's about time for another one. Also, it's been 2 months since I last saw a movie in a cinema, so I'm definitely in the mood to compose a film critique. Hahaha!

          Source Code is about Colter Stevens (Jake Gyllenhaal) who is subjected to this military technology called the Source Code to fulfill a mission: know who was behind the train bombing in order to thwart the culprit's next terrorist attack. To do this, he's taken back to the last 8 minutes of the life of passenger Sean Fentress and he is made to relive those moments again and again until he exposes the bomber's identity and plan.

          Neat story, right? I know it sounds kinda familiar, as it may have borrowed ideas from other movies, but after watching it, I realized that the concept has never been interpreted that way before. But I guess that also serves as the film's flaw -- or, to be more exact, burden. Since the premise is unique, the movie is obliged to explain the mechanics of the technology, or at least give enough details for the audience to figure it out, in its 93-minute runtime. That is where the film fell flat.

          But let's not cut to the chase yet. I liked the movie, anyway, so I'm gonna lay out the merits of the film first before I explain the negative verdict. Orayt? Game.


          • Impressive storytelling. Sci-fi thrillers that were made to mess with our minds don't usually possess this trait. Source Code's plot points didn't have to be presented in a confusing pattern to make the movie look clever. Bit by bit, the mystery was unraveled to the protagonist as it was done to us, so as Colter Stevens got it, we did too. So kudos to director Duncan Jones.
            • Amazing cast
              • Jake Gyllenhaal was exceptional in showing how his character adapted to each 8-minute scenario, which hugely contributed to the smooth progress of the story. If an action star were made to do his role, say Gerard Butler or Sam Worthington, Colter Stevens would have felt like a character cut out from cardboard.
              • Michelle Monaghan's portrayal was good enough to make us empathize with Jake and his motivations for wanting to save her life. This was pivotal because the romance subplot in sci-fi thrillers usually feels artificial, but in this case it wasn't.
              • The two had an undeniable chemistry. I didn't feel alienated upon seeing the two in one scene, knowing that Sean Fentress was supposed to be there and not Colter Stevens. Instead, I quickly accepted that Colter was supposed to be there.
              • Vera Farmiga's performance was also commendable because she was able to stretch out an underwritten role and stuff it with depth. With her acting, she gave dimensions to a character that had a tendency to be flat. The gestures of her face were enough to let us know the struggles that she went through in her head.

              • Jeffrey Wright. There was something wrong with the way he delivered his lines, especially when he explained the mechanics of the Source Code. His portrayal was so stereotypical and off-putting that instead of deciphering what he was saying, my mind just focused on how it was offensive to real scientists. And unlike Vera Farmiga, he didn't give soul to such character with limited lines, in spite of his spot-on acting.
              • Obvious special effects. You know those scenes in cartoon shows like X-Men where the background evidently looks like it's gonna be animated? Source Code had a couple of scenes like that. It's quite disappointing because with the technology American filmmakers have now, there should be no excuse to such mistake.
              • Opening film score. What was with the fright-inducing score that was used on a showcase of Chicago's beautiful scenery? I know it was supposed to give hints of looming peril in the city, but it was just too much. It felt like the climax of The Dark Knight.
              • Russell Peters' character. I knew him even before the movie, and I think he's a gifted comedian. But the role that he served was utterly contrived. I mean, the best excuse that they came up with to make the train's passengers laugh was to put a real comedian on board? What the F.
              • Ending. I was already satisfied with my understanding of the film's concept when the ending ruined it all. As Colter Stevens found out the true capabilities of the Source Code, I got thrown off-board. The last-minute discovery made things more complicated, and the explanation felt rushed. It was like they came up with this twist and they didn't know how to give details anymore without overstretching the film. It might have worked if it were just a matter of a few choices, like the ending of Inception. But nooooo -- it left a trail of unsettled questions and revealed a different thread to the storyline.

              That's why I think the movie failed to explain the concept in full. Maybe it was their intention, that they really wanted to pass the burden to us because that's the way twists work, but the execution was not the kind that would give you chills after you've figured things out. Rather, it would make you feel exhausted because of the extra thinking you had to do. I'm sure that had left many viewers baffled and disappointed.

              But do I recommend this film? Yes. By all means, watch it! Despite the many flaws, it still is a very entertaining movie that will make you realize that playing on the truths of reality can still be twisted in movies in many other ways. I just hope that those new concepts will still be in the hands of Duncan Jones. Stories like that need a good storyteller.

              Rating: 4/5 stars

              Friday, April 15, 2011

              What's In A Guy's Bag?

              I've grown accustomed to holding something while I walk. When my hands don't have anything to hold on to as I move, I tend to walk in a peculiar way. That's why I never leave the house without a bag or a long wallet in my grip. I know that it makes me look like a college student, especially because I go to work in casual clothes, but I just shrug it off and feel privileged. I mean, at least I get to earn money while wearing comfortable sneakers and jeans while others have to wear heavy leather shoes and heat-trapping slacks.

              My school office bag (I love biking!)

              Now, we've all read those blog posts about what women have in their bag. The usual stuff are make-up, face powder, lip gloss -- things that are associated with their gender. But what about men? Have you ever wondered what's inside a guy's bag? Since neckties, gaming equipment, and testosterone are mostly identified with males, do you expect a typical guy to bring these on any given day?

              Let's see what's in MY bag, shall we? On a normal work day, the contents would be these:

              Looks like a lot, huh? Yes, I have such organizing skills. Believe it or not, I can fit even MORE stuff than that inside my bag. Here's a closer look at the items:

              A bag within a bag (Wet tissue, perfume, alcohol, toothbrush, toothpaste, and drugs medicine)

              Nokia E63 (Review coming soon)

              Jacket (It's cold in the office.)

              Umbrella (It never leaves the bag. You never know when it will rain!)

              Baunan (I eat packed lunch at work.)

              Earphones (I feel incomplete without them.)

              Keys (My parents lock the gates as early as 9:00 PM.)

              Notepad, post-it, and ballpen (Work essentials)

              Long wallet (The "other" bag)

              Here are the runners-up (the ones I seldom bring):

              Phone charger and eyeglass case

              There you go! Now that you've seen what I bring with me to work, if you need anything from these (especially the wet tissue *wink*) just go ahead and ask. LOL! By the way, I'm not saying that I represent all the guys out there who use bags. I'm just one sample of the whole population, plus it's a personal thing, so I'm sure we're all different. But, who knows, there might really be a guy who carries testosterone in his bag every day.

              What about you? What's in your (or your man's) bag?

              Note: All photos are mine.

              Thursday, April 07, 2011

              Night Shift - Advantages and Disadvantages

              Believe it or not, the OT saga is still on. I've been working for 18 days straight now, and I can already feel the exhaustion creeping in to my core. Even if I'm getting ample sleep, it's not enough to make me feel energized when I wake up in the morning. My body's just dragging my spirit to the office now, and that's why I'm still able to report to work normally.

              But that's not what I'm writing about, actually. The thing is, our team will now be working the night shift starting April 18. Meaning, our work time will be from 8PM to 5AM. The "lunch" break will be at 12MN, and the 15-minute breaks will happen at 10PM and 3AM respectively.

              We really don't have a choice since the rest of our department is at night shift, and it will be more convenient for the company when it finally happens. The team was originally in the night shift (I wasn't employed yet), but it was moved to the day, and now it's back. No, we're not a call center. It's quite hard to explain what we do, and I don't want to get myself into trouble for divulging details about the company, so let's just leave it at that.

              So that's why I'm writing about the advantages and disadvantages of the night shift. Here's what I think:

              1. Convenience - The commute will be more convenient for me since I will be avoiding the traffic of Metro Manila, which I'm caught up in every day. That means, I can leave the house an hour before my shift starts, as compared to what I'm doing at present which is leaving two hours before. Therefore, I will have more time in my hands.
              2. Timing on personal chores - I will be able to do things (such as paying bills, buying groceries, even exercising) that I usually am not able to do (or hurry up to accomplish) since most establishments close up a few hours after the end of my shift. I'm not sure about the exercising part, but I think I can come up with more activities that I can finally do when the change happens. Like what I said in #1, I will have more time.
              3. More pay - Night shift differential pay. Money money money. 'Nuff said.
              1. Bad health - I know my body, and I'm certain that I won't be able to sleep well during the day. The light and heat of the sun, the noise of the neighbors and of cars passing by our house --  they will keep me from slumber. And we all know what happens to our body when we don't get enough sleep. My circadian rhythm will get disrupted for a while, but I know it will recover. It's the wrecked sleeping habit (and the subsequent effects on health) that I am most terrified of.
              2. Too much silence - The rules are different in our office during the night shift, and one of the changes that I will have to face is that we won't be able to talk to each other that much anymore. I know it should be an advantage for me because I will be able to concentrate more on my work, but I tend to get sleepy when the environment is too static, and that's a big problem. Sleeping in the office is a big no-no.
              3. Dependence on food - Two things. First, I will have to get used to eating food from convenience stores such as 7-11 and Mini Stop. And second, I will most likely be resorting to eating to keep myself awake, and that will make me even more fat.
              4. Less family, social, and love life - I'm not so sure about this, but these three aspects of my boring life will most likely be affected negatively. I will be asleep when the rest of the world is awake, so it will be tougher for me to bond with my family and friends and also find love among the few people left awake during the night.
              There are more detriments than benefits, but is it really in the number? Did I miss out on something that I should prepare myself for? Help me out here, dear readers. And I also need some advice on how to adjust my body successfully to the change and how to survive the following days. Please please pleeeeeaaase give me some tips!

              I must admit, it's my health that I'm truly scared about. I don't wanna be a regular in the hospital, or worse -- die early! LOL. But I guess I just have to try it out first before I make any decisions whatsoever. I have to stick to my goals.

              Update (4/23): The shift to night schedule will commence at the beginning of May.
              Update (5/15): The shift began on May 9. I'm one week in now.

              Saturday, March 19, 2011

              Ranking Glee's Competition Episodes

              Hola! I am still in hibernation because the OT saga isn't over yet (it's been THAT long, believe it or not). In fact, I had to go to work today (it's Saturday as I'm writing this), and we're also asked to report tomorrow, which is a SUNDAY.

              But because I love Glee so much, I'm gonna force some time for a blog post dedicated to the show. In light of New Directions' recent win at the Regionals, I'm going to rank the series' competition episodes. There are 4 so far: Sectionals, Journey to Regionals, Special Education, and Original Song.

              The ranking will be guided by 4 categories: Costume, Choreography, Vocal Performance, and Overall Impact (yeah, just like a real show choir competition, lol). I'm gonna use a Place = Point system. This means that, for example, if Sectional's performance set ranks 4th place for me in a particular category, it's gonna get a score of 4. In the end, whatever episode/performance set gets the lowest score wins.

              Here's a recap of the songs that were performed for each episode:

              • Don't Rain on My Parade
              • You Can't Always Get What You Want

              Journey to Regionals
              • Faithfully
              • Any Way You Want It / Lovin' Touchin' Squeezin'
              • Don't Stop Believin'

              Special Education
              • (I've Had) The Time Of My Life
              • Valerie

              Original Song
              • Get It Right
              • Loser Like Me

              Okay, let's do this!

              Costume (based on the girls' costume because the guys' were too plain to be judged)

              4th place - Sectionals
              Red and black looks good together, but the whole thing was just to simple for me.

              3rd - Original Song
              I don't like the color aqua very much, and the leggings-boots combo threw the ensemble off. But because I know why they wore those things (I bet you do too), it's one rank ahead of simple.

              2nd - Special Education
              1) Skirt + leggings + heels = worked really well
              2) Black? + white + alternate/fading effect = genius
              3) Very show choir, made them look as competent as Vocal Adrenaline

              1st - Journey to Regionals

              Gold was a great choice of color because it's the color that symbolizes winning. Although they didn't win then, it still worked perfectly with all the elements of the costume, especially with the vintage-looking hair and the print on the girls' dress that matched the 70's and 80's feel of the performance set.

              Choreography (based on the complexity of the moves and the choir's mastery of the steps, like if they moved as one or their limbs were all over the place)

              4th place - Sectionals
              Rachel's performance in Don't Rain on My Parade reflected Lea Michele's theater background, but the choir's moves in You Can't Always Get What You Want really seemed like it was just planned a few hours before they went on stage. Yes, it was supposed to be that way, but that also makes it unfair to place them ahead of the others.

              3rd - Original Song
              Their Loser Like Me number was their most active performance, but the difficulty of the moves didn't impress me at all. Moreover, it looked a bit disorganized because of the random/freestyle moves that weren't very show choir. I partly blame the camera work for that because there were some bad shots, like Mercedes' chaotic wiggling of her head during a brief belt out.

              2nd - Journey to Regionals
              Their choreography in Any Way You Want It / Lovin' Touchin' Squeezin' and Don't Stop Believin' was cute, polished, intricate, and very show choir. But we all know why it didn't get 1st place...

              1st - Special Education

              Santana, Brittany, and Mike in Valerie. 'Nuff said.

              Vocal Performance (if it was enough to judge them as the winner even if they only stood still behind a curtain of smoke)

              4th place - Original Song
              Nothing special. Rachel Berry's vocals in Get It Right was superb because of the dynamics and the emotions it carried, but other than that nothing stood out.

              3rd - Journey to Regionals
              It could have easily placed first because their Any Way You Want It / Lovin' Touchin' Squeezin' cover is my favorite Glee song ever, and that Finn and Rachel's vocals in Faithfully completely blew me away. But the flaws in their rendition of Don't Stop Believin' really turned me off. 1) Finn was off-key in the word "took", 2) Santana sounded stupid in pronouncing "smell of wine" as "smelowine", and 3) the choir was very Auto-Tune towards the end of the song. That's why I wonder how the hell it garnered a Grammy nom.

              2nd - Special Education
              Quinn sounded like an angel in (I've Had) The Time Of My Life, so I didn't mind Sam's off-putting voice that much. And then Santana in Valerie... her vocal technique and the texture of her voice could win her American Idol. Ooh, I could just listen to her all day. I really hope that Diana and Naya get their own record deal outside the show. But I have to admit, there's some bias here because (as some of you may know) I'm already well-acquainted with Valerie because of Amy Winehouse, so that's a big plus plus.

              1st - Sectionals

              I may have said that Faithfully blew me away, but that was just a breeze compared to the storm that was Don't Rain on My Parade. It was just so damn good. The power, the dynamics, the phrasing, the technique -- it was all perfect. And then add their brilliant vocals in You Can't Always Get What You Want... instant 1st place.

              Overall Impact (how good I felt after the performances)

              4th place - Special Education
              I felt really good here mainly because of the Amy Winehouse connection (obviously, I'm a big fan), but that was just excitement. I mean, if I didn't know Valerie beforehand, I don't think I would have enjoyed the number that much.

              3rd - Sectionals
              I was left impressed by Lea Michele's vocal prowess, and I really liked the song You Can't Always Get What You Want. The lyrics and melody appealed to me a lot.

              2nd - Journey to Regionals
              After their performance, I felt all giddy and musically empowered inside, like I already won just by witnessing them perform those Journey songs. They were that good. So it really disappointed me when they didn't win in the end.

              1st - Original Song

              Whoever thought of performing original songs for the 2nd Regionals is a descendant of Einstein. Get It Right was brilliantly penned, and Loser Like Me was simply the most fitting song ever. Both were catchy, contemporary, and ORIGINAL. That's the winning factor right there.



              Sectionals - 12 pts.
              Original Song - 11 pts.
              Special Education - 9 pts.
              Journey to Regionals - 8 pts.

              There ya go! For me, their performance set in the episode Journey to Regionals is the best of the 4. Do you agree or disagree? Any extra compliments or violent reactions? Send them in through comments. Thanks!

              Note: All photos with markings are mine.

              Saturday, March 05, 2011

              Still In Hibernation

              Okay, I'm going to explain myself. LOL

              Here are my reasons for the lack of new posts since January 12:
              1. No more blogging juice. (I think I've lost the enthusiasm.)
              2. No time. I've been tremendously busy with work. The past few weeks and weekends were filled with mandatory OTs. Hence,
              3. No more energy and
              4. Brain power left for blogging when I come home.
              Hmm, I'm still not sure when will the next post be because there's another mandatory OT week coming. And nobody knows when the OT saga will end. So yeah, I'm still in hibernation.

              My sincerest apologies to the blogosphere.

              P.S. My Facebook account is temporarily deactivated. Personal reasons. Just tune in to my Twitter and Tumblr; they're very much active these days.

              Tuesday, January 11, 2011

              On Pageviews And Our National Hero

              This has slapped me a valuable lesson on the face: a lot can happen in just a few seconds. Well, make that in between refreshes.

              You see, I was skimming through my blog when I saw at the bottom of the page that I had reached 2010 pageviews. Naturally, since it's 2011, I wanted to take an image of the moment when it reaches 2011. So I took a snapshot of the screen before it did to document the event:

              See the date at the bottom right corner? It's proof that I took it last Friday. Sorry for the cropping, by the way. I can't let you see what was going on there.

              Anyway, so I kept on hitting F5 as I waited for the numbers to go up a notch. However, to my disappointment, 5 minutes of constant refreshes didn't cut it. So I resumed what I was doing for a while, and with that I meant a really, really short while. Like 20 seconds. When I hit F5 again, shit happened:

              Because Lady Luck's cool like that.

              After I lured bats to our office window for screaming "DAMN IT!" in my head with much ire that it turned supersonic, I continued with my life. During break time, I opened my blog once more and posted a comment on some other blogger's post. You guys know that some blogs require word verification before publishing a comment, right? Well, this was the word that I had to type in:

              Well, whatdya know. The Philippines' national hero is popular in the blogosphere.

              Note: All photos are mine.

              Saturday, January 01, 2011

              My Year-End Blog Post

              The second half. The first one's here.

              Hello, friends and fiends! I guess you've probably read like a million year-end blog posts by now, and you think that this is a tad too late. But hey, we still have that New Year vibe going on, right? There's still time before it completely subsides, so let's get into it.

              Instead of torturing myself with a recall of how a whole year went, I'm gonna give you something more useful: the top 5 lessons that I learned in 2010.

              #5 - The things that we see on film and TV can actually happen in real life, so you better ready your ass for it.

              It's not like I'm saying that people these days are deluded with dreams of living perfect lives. My point is, whether we admit it or not, we always have a hard time accepting. But you gotta trust that there's always a good reason why shitty things happen. We might not know it right away, but we will once we dig through the shit and discover the lessons to be learned. It's a grueling internal process, but it's worth it.

              I have my share of wrongdoings last year, and some them even caused people to do really bad things to me. And the funny thing is, I used to only see those "bad things" on screen and laugh at them, thinking that they're too absurd to happen to me. I didn't know that they're actually gonna crush my balls someday. But I've realized that I made those bad choices, nobody else. So whatever consequences they've brought, I have to learn to forgive myself first, and then forgive those who have hurt me for making those choices. I know some of my friends will say that I'm too much of a saint to blame myself. Well, that's how life really works, I guess. You don't get peace by committing revenge or coming clean of blame. You find peace by forgiving and forgetting. And that's what I'm doing now.

              That lesson made me realize #4 - You're not going through it alone.

              Those film and TV scenes might have happened to you unexpectedly, but that doesn't mean that your case is a special one and that there's no possible ending yet to what you're going through. Guess what kiddo, other people have already experienced that, and I bet that they made it out alive. So don't drench yourself in misery!

              That's what I did. I got cheated on and lied to for the first time, and it was done by someone whom I didn't expect would do such things, so I got really blown away by it. But I eventually snapped out of the shock, realizing that a gazillion other people have been cheated on and lied to. And they all have moved on, so why can't I? Tell yourself that you can move on. It might take a while, but you'll get through.

              See what I did there? I made a choice. I didn't just let time do it's healing of wounds. Why? Because I learned #3 - Choice overpowers time when moving on, but choices wear off and time doesn't.

              What do I mean by that? It's simple: moving on is a two-step process. First, you gotta firmly decide that you want to move on. Don't let time decide for you! Once you're on track, stay on it and then allow time to do its magic.

              I see life as this train that runs through the track of time, and every choice we make makes us switch tracks. So when you want to move on, switch to a different track by making the choice that you do want to, and then continue running through time's tracks. Does it make sense? I hope it does! I may make it sound easy when it's not, but at least there's a warning that personal choices should come first. It's all in your hands.

              Top 2 Lesson - Honesty is no longer the best policy.

              Hmm, how am I going to explain something that seems like a wrong advice? Let's just say that the truth shouldn't always be told. Sometimes, it's better to just let it come out naturally. Not all people, even the ones that love you genuinely, can take the truth. Moreover, if your relationship with that person is breakable, like you're friends or romantically involved, then there's a big risk that your relationship will get cut.

              So, are you willing to take that risk just so you could release the steam inside you? What's more important to you, then? Again, it's a matter of choice and knowing which outcome can you put up with better. But keep in mind that there's a difference between not telling the truth and lying. Whatever your intentions may be, just prepare yourself for what's gonna come. And please, no regrets. Every consequence is an opportunity to learn!

              So, what's the number 1 lesson that I learned in 2010? Don't give all of your self in a relationship.

              This should be a no-brainer, but a lot of people out there are easily blinded by love that they look past all flaws and doubts and do everything for their significant other. That shouldn't be the case! Remember this: if you partner is not trying hard enough to reciprocate your affection and efforts, it's not worth it. It takes two to tango, so to speak.

              Why is it the top 1 lesson? Because the experience that made me realize that changed me. I don't look at love and relationships the same way anymore. The change is kind of a mixture of both good and bad, but at least things were altered, and those alterations made me braver. I can now say that I'm ready to face whatever 2011 has in store for me and my heart.

              Well, you know what they say. You gotta learn life's lessons the hard way, or else it won't stick to you. Because of that, I thank all the ones who came into my life last year. I thank everyone who loved me and kept me whole, and the ones who hurt me and made me learn. That's a sign that forgiveness is on its way, right? Yey!

              Anyway, if you were wondering how my year ended, let me tell you that it ended how it was supposed to. We didn't try to break away from our family's tradition this time. We did the usual lighting of fireworks before we had Media Noche while the lights of the house were on and music was playing in the background. And you know what? It felt so right. =)

              So! My year-end blog post ends here. I'm wishing you all a better 2011. Happy new year, everyone!
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