Friday, August 31, 2007

My computer

Just realized that the computer I work on nowadays is over five years old. All in all, that's not such a bad lifespan for piece of commodity technology. It helps a lot that I'm not a flavor-of-the-month gadget freak, but rather, a squeeze-everything-you-can-out-of-it techno-miser.

After all: it's not what you have, it's how you use it.

(Er, did I just say that?)

Were it not for its age, this particular computer would be nothing to write home about. The motherboard is an el-cheapo ECS K7SOM+ with an AMD Duron 1.3GHz processor and integrated video, sound, and LAN. No accelerated 3D graphics, thank you very much.

It's gone through a significant memory boost (256MB to 1GB), changes from CD-ROM to CD-RW to DVD+/-RW, and a couple of hard disk swaps. Aside from these changes, it's pretty much the same unit I bought to keep me company at my Cityland condo.

Yay for good mileage!

Full specs:

computer
description: Desktop Computer
product: K7SOM+
vendor: ECS
version: 1.0
serial: 00000000
width: 32 bits
capabilities: smbios-2.3 dmi-2.3
configuration: chassis=desktop
*-core
description: Motherboard
product: K7SOM+
vendor: ECS
physical id: 0
version: 1.0
serial: 00000000
slot: PCI2
*-firmware
description: BIOS
vendor: American Megatrends Inc.
physical id: 0
version: 07.00T (04/02/01)
size: 64KB
capacity: 192KB
capabilities: isa pci pnp apm upgrade shadowing escd cdboot bootselect socketedrom edd int13floppy360 int13floppy1200 int13floppy720 int13floppy2880 int5printscreen int9keyboard int17printer int10video acpi usb agp ls120boot zipboot biosbootspecification
*-cpu
description: CPU
product: AMD Duron(tm) Processor
vendor: Advanced Micro Devices [AMD]
physical id: 4
bus info: cpu@0
version: 6.7.1
slot: Slot-1
size: 1300MHz
width: 32 bits
clock: 100MHz
capabilities: fpu fpu_exception wp vme de pse tsc msr pae mce cx8 sep mtrr pge mca cmov pat pse36 mmx fxsr sse syscall mmxext 3dnowext 3dnow up ts
*-cache:0
description: L1 cache
physical id: 5
slot: Internal Cache
size: 128KB
capacity: 1MB
capabilities: synchronous internal write-back unified
*-cache:1
description: L2 cache
physical id: 6
slot: Internal Cache
size: 64KB
capacity: 1MB
capabilities: synchronous internal write-back unified
*-memory
description: System memory
physical id: 1
size: 947MB
*-pci
description: Host bridge
product: 740 Host
vendor: Silicon Integrated Systems [SiS]
physical id: d0000000
bus info: pci@00:00.0
version: 01
width: 32 bits
clock: 33MHz
configuration: latency=32
resources: iomemory:d0000000-d3ffffff
*-pci
description: PCI bridge
product: Virtual PCI-to-PCI bridge (AGP)
vendor: Silicon Integrated Systems [SiS]
physical id: 1
bus info: pci@00:01.0
version: 00
width: 32 bits
clock: 33MHz
capabilities: pci normal_decode bus_master
*-display
description: VGA compatible controller
product: 65x/M650/740 PCI/AGP VGA Display Adapter
vendor: Silicon Integrated Systems [SiS]
physical id: 0
bus info: pci@01:00.0
version: 00
size: 128MB
width: 32 bits
clock: 66MHz
capabilities: vga cap_list
configuration: latency=0
resources: iomemory:c0000000-c7ffffff iomemory:cfee0000-cfefffff ioport:bc00-bc7f
*-isa
description: ISA bridge
product: SiS962 [MuTIOL Media IO]
vendor: Silicon Integrated Systems [SiS]
physical id: 2
bus info: pci@00:02.0
version: 25
width: 32 bits
clock: 33MHz
capabilities: isa bus_master
configuration: latency=0
*-serial
description: SMBus
product: SiS961/2 SMBus Controller
vendor: Silicon Integrated Systems [SiS]
physical id: 2.1
bus info: pci@00:02.1
version: 00
width: 32 bits
clock: 33MHz
configuration: driver=sis96x_smbus latency=0
resources: ioport:c00-c1f
*-ide
description: IDE interface
product: 5513 [IDE]
vendor: Silicon Integrated Systems [SiS]
physical id: 2.5
bus info: pci@00:02.5
logical name: scsi0
logical name: scsi1
version: 00
width: 32 bits
clock: 33MHz
capabilities: ide bus_master emulated scsi-host
configuration: driver=pata_sis latency=128
resources: iomemory:1f0-1f7 iomemory:3f0-3ef iomemory:170-177 iomemory:370-36f ioport:ff00-ff0f
*-disk:0
description: SCSI Disk
product: Maxtor 91021U2
vendor: ATA
physical id: 0.0.0
bus info: scsi@0:0.0.0
logical name: /dev/sda
version: FA52
serial: G229DJZC
size: 9770MB
capabilities: partitioned partitioned:dos
configuration: ansiversion=5
*-volume:0
description: Linux filesystem partition
physical id: 1
bus info: scsi@0:0.0.0,1
logical name: /dev/sda1
capacity: 9303MB
capabilities: primary bootable
*-volume:1
description: Extended partition
physical id: 2
bus info: scsi@0:0.0.0,2
size: 462MB
capacity: 462MB
capabilities: primary extended partitioned partitioned:extended
*-logicalvolume
description: Linux swap / Solaris partition
physical id: 5
logical name: /dev/sda5
capacity: 462MB
capabilities: nofs
*-cdrom
description: DVD-RAM writer
product: DVDRAM GSA-H44L
vendor: HL-DT-ST
physical id: 0
bus info: scsi@0:0.1.0
logical name: /dev/cdrom
logical name: /dev/dvd
logical name: /dev/scd0
logical name: /dev/sr0
version: SB01
capabilities: removable audio cd-r cd-rw dvd dvd-r dvd-ram
configuration: ansiversion=5
*-disc
physical id: 0
logical name: /dev/cdrom
*-disk:1
description: SCSI Disk
product: Maxtor 6E040L0
vendor: ATA
physical id: 1
bus info: scsi@1:0.1.0
logical name: /dev/sdb
version: NAR6
serial: E92AZ84E
size: 38GB
capabilities: partitioned partitioned:dos
configuration: ansiversion=5
*-volume UNCLAIMED
description: Linux filesystem partition
physical id: 1
bus info: scsi@1:0.1.0,1
capacity: 38GB
capabilities: primary
*-multimedia
description: Multimedia audio controller
product: AC'97 Sound Controller
vendor: Silicon Integrated Systems [SiS]
physical id: 2.7
bus info: pci@00:02.7
version: a0
width: 32 bits
clock: 33MHz
capabilities: bus_master cap_list
configuration: driver=Intel ICH latency=64 maxlatency=11 mingnt=52
resources: ioport:dc00-dcff ioport:d800-d87f irq:11
*-usb:0
description: USB Controller
product: USB 1.0 Controller
vendor: Silicon Integrated Systems [SiS]
physical id: 3.1
bus info: pci@00:03.1
version: 0f
width: 32 bits
clock: 33MHz
capabilities: ohci bus_master
configuration: driver=ohci_hcd latency=64 maxlatency=80
resources: iomemory:cfffa000-cfffafff irq:12
*-usbhost
product: OHCI Host Controller
vendor: Linux 2.6.20-16-generic ohci_hcd
physical id: 1
bus info: usb@2
logical name: usb2
version: 2.06
capabilities: usb-1.10
configuration: driver=hub maxpower=0mA slots=3 speed=12.0MB/s
*-usb:1
description: USB Controller
product: USB 1.0 Controller
vendor: Silicon Integrated Systems [SiS]
physical id: 3
bus info: pci@00:03.0
version: 0f
width: 32 bits
clock: 33MHz
capabilities: ohci bus_master
configuration: driver=ohci_hcd latency=64 maxlatency=80
resources: iomemory:cfff9000-cfff9fff irq:12
*-usbhost
product: OHCI Host Controller
vendor: Linux 2.6.20-16-generic ohci_hcd
physical id: 1
bus info: usb@1
logical name: usb1
version: 2.06
capabilities: usb-1.10
configuration: driver=hub maxpower=0mA slots=3 speed=12.0MB/s
*-usb
description: Mass storage device
product: USB Storage Device
vendor: Generic
physical id: 2
bus info: usb@1:2
logical name: scsi2
version: 1.00
serial: 20020509145305401
capabilities: usb-1.10 scsi emulated scsi-host
configuration: driver=usb-storage maxpower=100mA speed=12.0MB/s
*-disk:0
description: SCSI Disk
product: USB Storage-CFC
vendor: IC
physical id: 0.0.0
bus info: scsi@2:0.0.0
logical name: /dev/sdc
version: 301b
capabilities: removable
*-disc
physical id: 0
logical name: /dev/sdc
*-disk:1
description: SCSI Disk
product: USB Storage-SMC
vendor: IC
physical id: 0.0.1
bus info: scsi@2:0.0.1
logical name: /dev/sdd
version: 301b
capabilities: removable
*-disc
physical id: 0
logical name: /dev/sdd
*-disk:2
description: SCSI Disk
product: USB Storage-MMC
vendor: IC
physical id: 0.0.2
bus info: scsi@2:0.0.2
logical name: /dev/sde
version: 301b
capabilities: removable
*-disc
physical id: 0
logical name: /dev/sde
*-disk:3
description: SCSI Disk
product: USB Storage-MSC
vendor: IC
physical id: 0.0.3
bus info: scsi@2:0.0.3
logical name: /dev/sdf
version: 301b
capabilities: removable
*-disc
physical id: 0
logical name: /dev/sdf
*-usb:2
description: USB Controller
product: USB 2.0 Controller
vendor: Silicon Integrated Systems [SiS]
physical id: 3.3
bus info: pci@00:03.3
version: 00
width: 32 bits
clock: 33MHz
capabilities: ehci bus_master cap_list
configuration: driver=ehci_hcd latency=64 maxlatency=80
resources: iomemory:cfffb000-cfffbfff irq:5
*-usbhost
product: EHCI Host Controller
vendor: Linux 2.6.20-16-generic ehci_hcd
physical id: 1
bus info: usb@3
logical name: usb3
version: 2.06
capabilities: usb-2.00
configuration: driver=hub maxpower=0mA slots=6 speed=480.0MB/s
*-usb
description: USB hub
product: USB2.0 Hub
physical id: 4
bus info: usb@3:4
version: 7.02
capabilities: usb-2.00
configuration: driver=hub maxpower=100mA slots=4 speed=480.0MB/s
*-usb:0
description: Mouse
product: PS/2+USB Mouse
physical id: 1
bus info: usb@3:4.1
version: 22.70
capabilities: usb-1.10
configuration: driver=usbhid maxpower=100mA speed=1.5MB/s
*-usb:1
description: Printer
product: Samsung ML-1610 Series
vendor: Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd.
physical id: 4
bus info: usb@3:4.4
version: 1.00
serial: 3977BKEY610101P.
capabilities: usb-1.10 bidirectional
configuration: driver=usblp maxpower=2mA speed=12.0MB/s
*-network
description: Ethernet interface
product: SiS900 PCI Fast Ethernet
vendor: Silicon Integrated Systems [SiS]
physical id: 4
bus info: pci@00:04.0
logical name: eth0
version: 90
serial: 00:0a:e6:ec:58:73
size: 100MB/s
capacity: 100MB/s
width: 32 bits
clock: 33MHz
capabilities: bus_master cap_list ethernet physical tp mii 10bt 10bt-fd 100bt 100bt-fd autonegotiation
configuration: autonegotiation=on broadcast=yes driver=sis900 driverversion=v1.08.10 Apr. 2 2006 duplex=full ip=192.168.1.110 latency=64 link=yes maxlatency=11 mingnt=52 multicast=yes port=MII speed=100MB/s
resources: ioport:d400-d4ff iomemory:cfff8000-cfff8fff irq:5

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Unless the Lord builds the house...

It's been all over the news the past few days, that ugly split in the leadership of Couples for Christ and Gawad Kalinga.

Echoing in my mind right now is Psalm 127:

Unless the LORD builds the house,
its builders labor in vain.


I'm not a member of either CfC or GK, so really, it's not my place to judge.

However, from a bystander's viewpoint, it seems that lately, all the attention and plaudits have been merely on the social aspects of Gawad Kalinga. Not GK vis-a-vis CfC, mind you (up until this blew up I didn't even know the two were related): just GK per se.

Oh, they've done good work and all, no doubt about that. But if they've exchanged that spiritual dimension for purely human and social aims, if the housing projects had ceased to become a means for apostolate, then it was bound to collapse under its weight.

Time for an examination of conscience.

As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, "Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!"

"Martha, Martha," the Lord answered, "you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.

Reprinting an Old Post

With over a thousand entries in this blog, I was bound to come up with something that felt new -- even though I wrote it oh-so-many months ago. I was all set to bang out a new story for the Metro Post when I stumbled into this old gem entitled Stop It. (Well, a gem in my opinion, anyway.)

Rereading it elicited a chuckle. I know, I know: "Oh, sure, how conceited can you get?" But it wasn't so much because of my own wit as it was that I borrowed from the wit of three greats: Bob Newhart, Terry Pratchett, and GK Chesterton.

Anyway, here's the start of the post:

A number of blog and mailing list posts that I stumble upon nowadays have a lot to do with an inordinate amount of angst. People are trying either trying to find themselves or trying to find their purpose in life. As if there weren't enough real problems to worry about.

Following the immortal words of Bob Newhart, I want to shout out: "Stop it!"


Complete article here.

Fermentation

this cask I fill with
words squeezed from
the forefront of
my head

spilling

  violently

    premature

the transfer thus complete
i seal the cask with cork
secret it in the cellar
awaiting
the time for proper libation

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Philippine Defense Squad dot Com

Based on one of my responses to a comment in my Lynch Mob post, Miguel has put up a list of all those times when Filipinos (over)react en masse to (oftentimes) trivial issues.

I reproduce the content here:

This text file seeks to become a comprehensive listing of all instances of times when Filipinos overreact to criticism (both deserved and undeserved) by descending upon the subject like a swarm of angry bees and inflicting their wrath through letters, blogs, Photoshop contests, and other zany means of reaction. Anyone who figures out how to contact me is welcome to contribute.

* the spoon incident in Canada, which really turned out to be the fault of the boy;
* former Chief Justice Isagani Cruz's comments against gays;
* Art Bell's racist comments against Pinoys, actually a hoax
* Digital Pinay incident
* Filipinos getting angry over the Faye Nicole San Juan incident, which later turned out to be a hoax
* the Subic Rape Case
* Claire Danes goes to the Philippines; gets declared persona non grata after making a few remarks that some people didn't like hearing
* Americans go to Jollibee and get flamed by a thousand angry Pinoys who can't bear the thought that other cultures might be weirded out by other cultures
* Malu Fernandez receives flames and death threats after putting her foot in her mouth--she then resigns from her job due to the wrath of the blogosphere
* "Young Radicals" Google bomb Gloria Arroyo's website so that it is returned upon searching for "sinungaling"


We are the Indig-Nation.

Now, before you flame me for putting up this list, I need you to consider a couple of things: my posting this list is not a statement on the justness of the cause. Rather, it's to encourage people to look back at those past times (and there are many) when we act like an unthinking herd. Often, too, that indignation manifests itself in inutile, ineffective, and superficial ways.

It certainly would make an interesting sociological study as to the whys and wherefores and hows. Even more interesting: how come some issues really worth voicing anger about -- the Jonas Burgos abduction, the desecration of the ten Marines, the ZTE contract -- garner so little reaction. But then again, I'm not a professional sociologist.

Also read:
Sean's post
Justified Outrage
Psychology of Outrage

And, because much of the indignation stems from criticism on what we eat and the way we eat: Culinary Hallmarks of Our Cultural Identity.

Talecraft in Class

My Creative Writing class had hit a bit of a plateau so I decided to bring a couple of my fiction-writing books...and my Talecraft deck.

Our professor started the class by reading out a few choice passages from a book he had just gotten (coincidentally, he also brought it that day), then followed it up with a reading from mine, and then I whipped out my Talecraft deck. There was instant interest: "What's that? How do we play it? How do we score?"

I gave a brief explanation of how the game ran, and distributed cards to my classmates, the prof included. Out of that impromptu session they came out with seeds of stories:

Paolo told a fantasy story of a spy sent out to betray rebels, falling in love with the rebel leader's aide, betraying his dark lord master, and being killed by the leader in the process. Aggrieved at her loss, the aide turned on her own leader and joined the dark lord.

Our professor, Don Pagusara, told a dark and moody story about a woman looking into a mirror to paint herself, only to see cat's eyes reflected back...from a cat that wasn't there. A truly hair-raising image, if there ever was one.

But the gem of the class came from Cieng, our model/basketball player. She told a sci-fi / time travel story that involved an Egyptian queen, android robots, and...sex. There were some truly innovative concepts, but which I won't reveal here.

All in all, a good session.

Monday, August 27, 2007

2 raised to the power 10

Because I am a die-hard geek, I dedicate this post to 210, otherwise known as 1,024.

And, of course, this post happens to be my 1,024th.

From the Wikipedia, a description of 1024, as used in computers:

In binary notation, 1024 is represented as 10000000000, making it a simple "round number" occurring frequently in computer applications.

1024 is the maximum number of computer memory addresses that can be referenced with ten binary switches. This is the origin of the organization of computer memory into 1024-byte chunks.


Thanks to Roy for the idea.

More clay heads

More clay-sculpting on Sunday. It's very relaxing therapy.

Not sure if I should have gone with blue, though. It gives the output an eerie look. But National was all out of orange and brown.






Saturday, August 25, 2007

Software Freedom Day Celebration in Davao

Draft press release for Software Freedom Day 2007 in Davao. Feel free to reuse for your own SFD celebrations.

Computers have become such an integral part of everyday living that it's no longer possible to dismiss them as simply a privilege and a luxury. Just as this technology impinges on many aspects of life, it now touches on many basic human rights -- to communicate, to educate oneself, to advance one's station in life, to earn a living, among others.

Consequently, access to computers should be made universally available to anyone who wants it, if only as a tool that is as fundamental as pen and paper. No one organization should have a monopoly, commercial or otherwise, that bars segments of society from its use.

With PC hardware costs coming down to commodity appliance levels, this ideal is coming close to reality. The same cannot be said of commercial proprietary software, though, as prices have remained more or less constant throughout the years. Moreover, their use and distribution is strictly controlled under pain of heavy legal penalties.

Software Freedom Day, held every third Saturday of September, is an international celebration that attempts to correct this imbalance by making more people aware of the availability of free software. Now on its third year, Software Freedom Day is celebrated in over 60 countries.

Free software allows people to do the same things they do with commercial proprietary software. There are free operating systems, free office productivity suites, free graphics editing software, free business applications, and free games.

Free software doesn't just mean free in cost: people can give away or receive free software without facing anti-piracy lawsuits. Free software can be used by anyone, can be studied by anyone, can be improved by anyone.

Davao City participates in marking this year's Software Freedom Day on September 15, 2007 with a day of lectures, tutorials, and free software demonstrations at the University of Southeastern Philippines in Bo. Obrero. The general public is invited. Admission is free.

Main lectures start at 1:30PM, but demonstrations will be available from 10:00 onwards. Free software for Linux, Windows, and Mac will be given out at the event. (As CDs are limited, visitors are advised to bring their USB flash drives for copying the software.)

Software Freedom Day 2007 activities in Davao are sponsored by University of Southeastern Philippines, DabaweGNU Linux Users Group, and Davao Union Drug. For more information, visit our web site.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Lynch mobs (and Malu)

You may have seen it on TV or even in person: a crowd catches up with a crook and, in the heat of the moment, proceed to beat him up. It's not a pretty sight. Almost always, there's one neighborhood tough who just has to throw in the last punch.

That pretty much sums up an initial impression that I had of l'affaire Malu, especially after seeing the long and extensive lists of commentary and invectives that's circulating on many blogs. Sean wrote an analysis that echoed my sentiments. Even though, like the last thug, I also threw in my own shot.

Not long after putting it up, I briefly considered whether I should take down my own Malu post or not. Did I really need to add to the milieu? Already it looked like the lynch mob I had just described.

But I decided to keep it. Why? Because I came upon her unrepentant and condescending "Diva" riposte.

Parallels have been drawn between Ms Fernandez and US radio commentator Don Imus. Imus was suspended, then afterwards fired, after making racist comments about a women's basketball team. It helps to compare the timelines of their events:

Two days after making the comments, Imus made a public apology. Three days later, he did so again on another show. When the public refused to be mollified and after advertisers pulled out sponsorship, NBC and CBS dropped Imus' show. Action was taken no more than a week after the incident.

In contrast, the Malu affair dragged on for over two weeks with no clear action from either the woman or the newspaper she was associated with. Indeed, there seems to have been denial of the affiliation. And then, of course, the "Diva" response which simply added fuel to the fire.

Lynch mobs form and grow out of control because there's no clear authority that will say "the guilty will be punished thus" and "the line ends here." The drama could have ended earlier if the Manila Standard Today or People Asia had issued a categorical position regarding Ms Fernandez.

Instead, it seemed like they buried their heads in the sand and waited for the reactions to blow over.

Did Ms Fernandez have to be fired? Not necessarily. MST or People Asia could have said: "We do not condone the statements of Ms Fernandez but we acknowledge her right to free speech" and stood by that position. It wouldn't have pleased everyone but it would have shown that someone was indeed in charge and would take action.

Closer to home and not too long ago, the Philippine Daily Inquirer faced a similar situation when retired Chief Justice Isagani Cruz took a swipe at homosexual culture. It took almost a month for the controversy to die down, but it helped that other PDI columnists addressed the same issue. Ultimately, it was an editorial acknowledgement that with finality closed the issue.

Without any action from the paper or the magazine, Ms Fernandez has taken what can be construed as the only honorable exit that would satisfy this lynch mob: a virtual seppuku.

(And as to the death threats? Well, that clearly crosses the line. Unfortunately, that's the undesirable combination of empty bravado under anonymity which, sadly, marks some Pinoys.)

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Lolita

To the thumping beat of techno music they prance onstage in high heels, gyrating their hips, jiggling their breasts, mouths agape in exaggerated ecstasy, their skimpy clothes barely able to contain their assets. The audience claps and cheers and stamps in tune to the music.

A scene from a nightclub? Hardly. It's the height of noon, and this is what passes for lunchtime entertainment in the Philippines.

They go by different names: Sex Bomb Girls, Wowowee Girls, EB Babes, ASF Dancers, etc. But they're all cut from the same mold. Their songs sound the same and their moves look the same. They're indistinguishable from each other except for the channel they're on and the hosts they're with.

Among these dancers, short skirts and pigtails or ponytails are de rigeur. During moments of suspense, they bring their hands to their faces and squeal in high-pitched glee. Their signature songs, though loaded with innuendo, are sung in schoolgirl chorus fashion.

If the noontime show is a reflection of pervading tastes, then perhaps these girlie groups are a reflection of a persistent and prevalent Filipino sexual fantasy: young and nubile, teasingly shy, inexperienced yet willing, ever ready to please, malleable to every whim and wish, their innocence waiting to be plucked.

Elsewhere, makeup artists apply lipstick and eyeshadow and rouge to round bubbly faces; couturers doll them up in miniskirts and miniature heels; choreographers twirl them to innuendo-laden songs; And all the while, their mothers and aunts cheer, hopeful of their daughters' chances in the "Little Miss...." pageant.

In 2006, the National Statistical Coordination Board released the following figures: there were 6,355 child sexual abuse cases reported to the Department of Social Welfare Development over a two-year period. Of these, 6,239 (98%) pertained to girls while only 116 (2%) pertained to boys. (Source: )

Contrast this to the World Health Organization's worldwide estimates of 150 million girls (67%) and 73 million boys (23%) who suffered sexual abuse in 2002. (Source: "Global Estimates of Health Consequences Due to Violence Against Children", WHO)

But little girls do not stay little girls forever. Sooner or later, they grow up to be women. What happens when the fantasy comes crashing against reality? The same NSCB document reports over 11,600 cases of violence against women in the same two-year period. The largest proportion? 5,800 cases (50%) of physical injuries and wife battering.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Excerpt: Watch-Your-Car

Excerpt of a piece for my Creative Writing class. I'm experimenting with a spare and adjective-less style, letting instead dialogue and action fill in the description. Yes, yes, I know I'm no Hemingway, but if you have to crib, you must crib from the best.

By the time Jheric got to the car, it was too late. It had already backed out of its space. The window rolled down a notch and Vhong's hand reached out for the coins. Then the car was on its way.

"Hey! That was my customer! You know it was!" Jheric shouted.

"Ha! Finders keepers, runt!" Vhong said. He jangled the coins in his hand.

"It's mine! It's mine!"

Vhong held Jheric back at arm's length. Jheric flailed but his hands barely even reached Vhong's shoulder. A few boys had gathered around them. "Go, Jheric! Give him what for!" They laughed. Vhong pushed Jheric. Jheric fell on his butt.

"Eat more, runt!" Vhong said. "Then maybe, just maybe...." More laughter.

"What's going on here?" Jhoris burst through the circle. A hush descended. More boys came running towards them.

Vhong backed a step from Jheric. He didn't take his eyes of Jhoris. He balled and unballed his fists. He broke into a grin and laughed.

"Ah, screw it," he said. He threw down three one-peso coins and shouldered past the spectators. Already he was chasing after another car that had just pulled into the lot. A few boys followed him.

Jhoris pulled Jheric up by the arm. Tears rolled down Jheric's face, but a few muzzled sobs were all that came from his lips.

"What did I tell you, huh? What did I tell you?" Jhoris twisted Jheric's ear.

"Ow! Ow! It wasn't my fault!" Jheric cried.

"Go home to Grandma now!" Jhoris said. He gave one final twist to Jheric's ear. Stifled laughs from the boys that remained, but now most of them had gone.

The coins lay on the pavement. No one made a move for them. Jheric picked them up. He slipped them into his pocket.

The story is complete, by the way, a little over 1,000 words. As I'm more seriously pursuing publication now, I won't post it here. If you are interested in the full version, drop me a note and I'll send it via email.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Clay sculpture

Experimented with clay sculpture over the weekend. Here are the initial results:







Caption contest

Malu Fernandez is quite possibly the most infamous personality of the moment. Who is she and what did she do? Well, she's so infamous all you need to do is Google up her name.

In lieu of other punitive measures, Manolo suggested a Malu photo caption contest instead. The rule: Why not take her travel photos and run a Mala Malu photo caption contest instead? Loads of fun and extremely educational.

So here's my entry:

Hills like White Elephants


Hills Like White Elephants is a short story by Ernest Hemingway. Set in a train station outside Madrid, a man and a woman talk about...nothing. Well, it only sounds like they're talking about nothing, when in fact, the whole conversation revolves around their relationship. Heady stuff.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Kadayawan 2007

Kadayawan 2007, Davao's fruit festival. Festivities are still very much going on, just took a short rest break back at the store and am taking time to upload photos. Most of the pics so far are of the contingents getting ready. More to follow.




Friday, August 17, 2007

Compliment

Had a spell of the warm and fuzzies this morning as I opened my mailbox and got this message:

HEY! Of course I remember you, hahahah :D The only one of my dad's officemates I can actually talk to properly, and not in an "I'm a kid, you're an adult" sort of way :D


Some background info: one of my former IBM colleague's daughters just entered college. To think I knew her from way back when the family visited Davao so many years ago! And yes, we'd share my crayons for a round of sketching during those occasions when she'd visit the office. (Er, crayons? In an IBM office? Never you mind.)

Tempus fugit, sed parvulo sum sempiternum.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

FHM

How much does an FHM Philippines model earn for a photoshoot? Nothing, if I am to believe the stories of my friends. Surprising to know, at first glance; after all, this is the most popular magazine in the country. But think about it some more, you'll see that the claim isn't too far fetched, after all.

So what could conceivably convince a nubile young lass to bare her body for all the world to see? And for free? Answer: media exposure. For many, appearing in the pages of FHM is the key to a successful career, modeling and otherwise.

This is the influence that the magazine wields. It's propelled many women to stardom, their names now etched in collective household memory: Angel, Angelica, Asia, Diana, Katrina, Joyce. And for every one, there are a hundred more waiting in the wings, waiting to be discovered.

In a country with a moribund film industry, FHM has replaced the "bomba" and "ST" films of yesteryear as the vehicle for up-and-coming starlets. More than that, it's given them an air of respectability not accorded to their predecessors. After all, they're now sharing navel space with bored socialites, balikbayan models, and post-op middle-aged actresses.

So where do these women come from? I chanced upon a friend whom I knew was an editor of the magazine. I congratulated him on his good fortune. "Oh, I've quit," he said. I asked him why. Apparently, all the late night business meeting in the seedy KTVs were taking their toll on his married life. "Business meetings?" I clarified. He merely smiled.

But to FHM, these young unknown hopefuls are just perquisite extras. FHM's stock-in-trade are many a former child star wanting to be taken as "serious actress ready for mature roles." And here, the magic number is "18." FHM writers and editors make no bones about it.

Goes the feature on their latest cover model: "With her sister A--, we've had to wait five years for her to say yes. With C---, it had been three years, and we had to begin the wait when she was 15--we are absolutely sure there is a law against that yet we unashamedly pursued. Eight years total of waiting!" Do the math: they've been eyeing the girl since she was 10 or 11.

So begins the transformation from nursery to nymphette: a whole day photo shoot under klieg lights bolstered by makeup and choreography. And where neither God's gifts nor cosmeticists' touch suffices comes the magic of Adobe Photoshop. A highlight here, a shadow there, wipe away the blemish with a digital brush, and voila! "She titillates our fantasies once more!"

And in the back room, bored interns bang out the latest stories of indulgence, infidelity, and incest, all ready for next months' installment of "Ladies' Confessions."

Face of a Stranger

This is the curve of the cheek
that I once explored with kisses.

This is the cave of the mouth
where I once blew in breath
whose wetness I tasted.

This is the hillock of the nose
where I once rubbed my own
on an idle summer day
when we ran through the fields.

These are the wings of the eyelids
that fluttered to life
at my slightest whisper.

These are the pools of the eyes
into which I lost my soul.

Now a distant country, only half-remembered.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Software Freedom Day 2007 Davao



Will post details as soon as we finalize them. Time and place is already fixed, though.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

A study in violence

Mid-term report for my short story writing class.

Story has it that Ernest Hemingway wrote "The Killers" one morning in Madrid. One of his stories had just been rejected, and "The Killers" was a second, almost non-commital, attempt. This was back in the spring of 1927.

More than eighty years on, "The Killers" has lost none of its impact or appeal. It is said to be the most anthologized of Hemingway's short fiction. No wonder. It is a mesmerizing piece. It builds up tension masterfully. And yet it is told simply in the spare, telegraphic style that is trademark Hemingway.

"The Killers" follows the events in a small town diner as the eponymous killers, Max and Al, take over the place to set an ambush for their victim, Ole Anderson. Caught in between are George, the proprietor; Sam, the cook; and Nick, a customer.

The hit doesn't actually take place. Max and Al eventually tire of waiting for Ole. Mercifully, they leave without harming their hostages. Nick tries to do the right thing and warns Ole of the killers. To his surprise and disappointment, Ole refuses to do anything. Instead, Ole opts to wait for the men to come to him.

No gun is fired, no punch is thrown, in fact, no one lays a hand on anyone. One of the killers does ready a shotgun in the kitchen but it is not actively used to threaten any George, Sam, and Nick. Nevertheless, despite the total absence of fireworks, "The Killers" can be considered as a consummate study in violence.

The violence in "The Killers" is always implied, never overt, and yet the meaning and the intent could not be any clearer. It's carried out purely in the dialogue of veiled threats -- full of arrogant confidence -- of Max and Al. George, Sam, and Nick have no choice but to comply. They are swept along helplessly in that current, and so are we, the readers.

It all starts out innocently and comically. Max and Al enter the diner, wondering out loud to each other what they should order. Neither is sure what he wants, and each is egging the other to place an order. The exchange has been likened to a vaudevillean routine, of which Hemingway was said to be a fan.

“What’s yours?” George asked them.

“I don’t know,” one of the men said. “What do you want to eat, Al?”

“I don’t know,” said Al. “I don’t know what I want to eat.”


But the befuddled banter between the two men merely serves as stark contrast to the nature of their work, as we are about to see a few pages down. These two are about to kill a man, and yet they can still carry on a deadpan dialogue with each other. The conversation establishes these two as cold-blooded professional killers.

What follows is an examination, a probing of the defenses. Max and Al go out of their way to be disagreeable to George. They order something that won't be ready until six o'clock. When George tells them so, they quickly pin the fault on him.

“I’ll have a roast pork tenderloin with apple sauce and mashed potatoes,” the first man said.

“It isn’t ready yet.”

“What the hell do you put it on the card for?”


It continues: George tells them its still five o'clock. They argue that it's twenty past five. Regardless, the dinner orders wouldn't be served anyway George informs them that they can order any sort of sandwich. Deliberately they order another item that clearly isn't a sandwich. When George tells them so, they make it out that George is going out of his way to be difficult.

“Everything we want’s the dinner, eh? That’s the way you work it.”


All this serves to determine what kind of fight George will put up when they put their plan to action. Max and Al are probing George's defenses, looking at the weak points, trying to see what amount of pressure it will take for George to cave in. At this point, reader is already uncomfortable with the tension. This discomfort would be reflected on George, even though Hemingway makes no mention of George's reaction.

The next step is escalation. Max and Al up the ante. They imply the town is dumb and uninteresting, and the people there backward hicks with nothing to do.

“What do they do here nights?” Al asked.

“They eat the dinner,” his friend said. “They all come here and eat the big dinner.”


George is conciliatory and relents easily enough to the indignities. But the men are implacable. George's attempts to be agreeable are now met with overt insults. Anything George says is immediately met with contradiction.

“That’s right,” George said.

“So you think that’s right?” Al asked George.

“Sure.”

“You’re a pretty bright boy, aren’t you?”

“Sure,” said George.

“Well, you’re not,” said the other little man. “Is he, Al?”

“He’s dumb...”


From this point, Max and Al keep on calling George and Nick "bright boy." To call a grown man "boy" to his face is a terrible indignity to inflict. Moreover, they employ negation by repetition: by saying "bright" over and over again, they sarcastically mean that George is the opposite (shades of Marc Antony saying "Brutus is an honorable man.")

Readers can probably instinctively feel that George and Nick must be seething inside. Yet they do nothing. They can do nothing. They already have a feel for what Max and Al are all about. The fact that they do nothing conveys to the reader the sinister nature of the deadly duo.

The escalation continues. Max and Al take offense at every little thing: a look, a laugh, a joke, all this is turned against George and Nick.

Finally, it leads to the confrontation. Having worn down the opposition's defenses, Max and Al take control of the diner occupants. There are still some hints of resistance, but the killers quash them quickly with a snarl.

“Hey, bright boy,” Max said to Nick. “You go around on the other side of the counter with your boy friend.”

“What’s the idea?” Nick asked.

“There isn’t any idea.”

“You better go around, bright boy,” Al said. Nick went around behind the counter.

“What’s the idea?” George asked.

“None of your damned business,” Al said.


What's amazing is that at this point, neither Max nor Al have pulled out their shotguns to threaten the other occupants! The shotgun comes much later in the story, and by then, it's nothing but a prop for believability. Max and Al have so thoroughly battered George, Nick, and Sam into submission with their words and their attitude that the latter have no choice but to comply. If Max and Al had gone out the back and shot all three, the readers would not at all be surprised. What follows is two hours of terror for the diner's denizens.

This pattern of examination, escalation, and confrontation in violence is somehow something that we the readers are instinctively familiar with as human beings. Hemingway manages to tap into this primal fears and uses it effectively in his story. By relying on our instinctive reactions, Hemingway renders any explicit characterization superfluous.

When Max and Al finally have their way at the diner, there's a slight de-escalation. The violence is no longer directed at George, Sam, and Nick. The killers make themselves comfortable, even engaging George in conversation. They even joke with each other. The edge is still there, though, as they openly discuss their plans to kill Ole Anderson. There are just the occasional reminders of what they are capable of.

“What you going to do with us afterward?”

“That’ll depend,” Max said. “That’s one of those things you never know at the time.”


and

“That was nice, bright boy,” Max said. “You’re a regular little gentleman.”

“He knew I’d blow his head off,” Al said from the kitchen.


Just before they leave, they give out a parting shot. They remind the diner trio just how close to death they've come.

“So long, bright boy,” he said to George. “You got a lot of luck.”

“That’s the truth,” Max said. “You ought to play the races, bright boy.”


After Max and Al leave the diner, the story enters another phase. The focus now shifts to George, Nick, and Sam. They pick up after themselves and consider what to do. This now serves to scrutinize the reactions of people who are subjected to violence.

Throughout their ordeal, George has acquitted himself admirably. He's kept a cool head in the presence of Max and Al. He's managed to fend off customers without arousing any suspicion. Now he suggests to Nick that the young man go off to warn Ole Anderson. But this suggestion is careless and non-commital. “Don’t go if you don’t want to,” he tells Nick.

The logical course of action would be to call the police. George, who's taken charge of the situation, doesn't do this. In fact, we see him only mildly concerned. Under other circumstances, we might have seen him spring to action, but no: he's simply deflated. Here is a man jaded by violence, not as participant but as victim. He knows that all his attempts to rectify the situation will be useless. He did what he did simply out of self-preservation, not heroism.

Sam the cook's reaction mirrors George's, though he is more frantic. "Don't get involved," he says, "stay out of it." Sam is practically running in the opposite direction. Certainly no heroics from him, either. Worse, he doesn't even want to hear any more of it when Nick returns to give his report. Cowardly as this may seem, this is still a healthy response, especially seen in the light of Ole Anderson's decision later on.

Of the three, it is Nick who finds himself at the crossroads. Nick Adams is known to be the author surrogate in Hemingway's stories. In the context of the Nick Adams canon, this is his first exposure as a mature adult into the world.

There's still a streak of idealism in Nick. His first response, after the bonds have been cut loose, is typical amusing yet inutile juvenile bluster.

“Say,” he said. “What the hell?” He was trying to swagger it off.


In that one line, Hemingway shows Nick attempting to recover his manhood, or rather, his own poor conception of it.

Nick does take action, and bravely so. But he suffers disappointment as Ole Anderson, the man he is trying to save, rebuffs him. Nick heads back to the diner to report on the development to George. They commisserate, and ultimately decide that there is nothing they can do.

If the tale ran according to typical boyhood fantasies, Ole would attempt an escape, and Nick would be the hero. Ole's dejected reaction is unlike anything that he's expected. This is Nick's baptism of fire into real adulthood. His own response at the end mirrors a bit of both George and Sam. He decides that he can't do anything about it, shrugs it off, and leaves town to distance himself from the violence. He doesn't run off, but he leaves, nonetheless.

And finally, there's Ole Anderson himself. He's warned of his impending doom, he's grateful enough for the concern, but ultimately, it's all useless. He knows they're coming for him, that it's useless to run. If they don't get him in Summit, then certainly they'll get him in the next town. He's tired of running, and he just wants to get it over with.

At first glance, this is so contrary to his character. Ole Anderson is a boxer. He ought to know how to put up a fight. But again, Hemingway confronts us with an alternate conception, perhaps one in closer cadence with reality. Ole is a fighter, and he knows when he's beaten, when there's no more point in putting up a struggle. He will just lay down calmly and die.

And that he does. Throughout his conversation with Nick, Ole is lying in bed, not even bothering to get up. Nick, in a manner of speaking, has become his tormentor, reminding him what the dictates of self-preservation demand that he do. Instead, he turns his back on Nick, facing the wall.

This portrayal of Ole Anderson reminds us of a bull in a bullfighting ring that has decided to stop fighting. There's no more thought of heroics, there's no more thought of survival, there's not even a thought of dignity. The bull is tired, and lies down, waiting for the final blow.

It's helpful to note that Hemingway's working title for "The Killers" was "The Matadors." Though they carry the same meaning, the metaphor of matadors and bulls is so fitting in the framework of the story.

Max and Al, in a manner of speaking, act like matadors. Swift, deadly, and confident to the point of arrogance, they goad their victims, provoking them to some form of reaction. In reality, it's a probe of the defenses, akin to the colorful darts that matadors throw on the bulls to anger it. Once they know to what extent the victims will act, they escalate to the point where the victims will offer no resistance.

In a manner of speaking, too, George, Sam, and Nick, as with Ole, are the bulls. Ole is the final metaphor, the picture by which we see the ultimate end of a man confronted by inescapable violence. In George, Sam, and Nick, we see the varying reactions to violence: Sam runs. George, probably closest to Ole, is resigned to defeat but carries on the motions. Nick, they young bull, learns his first lesson in the workings of the adult world.

Friday, August 10, 2007

"RP Battles with Dandruff"

This, believe it or not, is the front page to today's issue of Manila Bulletin.
On the whole, I have never had much respect for the Manila Bulletin. It seemed to me that it was only good for classifieds ads and fish wrapper. But even this was a new low.
As it turns out, it was only a promotional wraparound for the real front page. Nevertheless, it was a mighty cheap advertising stunt to pull.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Newsstand

A glance at the newsstand today:

"Go from friends to lovers without complications," offers Cosmpolitan, after which you can ask yourself "When should you sleep with him? (Finally, a straight answer!)." But of course, you'll want to be careful because "Warning: His sneaky ways might cause an LQ." That's why you should take "Cosmo shortcuts to looking taller, slimmer, and prettier." Not enough? Do you know how to do a proper 69? Are you too dry?

T3, "The World's No. 1 Gadget Magazine", but one wonders if they got there because of their gadgets or the barely clothed cheerleader. The cheerleader picture three quarters of the cover, while the gadgets are less than a tenth. Just what are they selling? And who are they selling it to?

"Sex deviants live among us!" screams FHM. Are they referring to the women who read Cosmopolitan? Or to the slinky sex kitten on the cover? Or the ladies who send in their confessions? Or perhaps to the readers of their own magazine? After all, "She titillates our fantasies once more!" Over in the next issue, last year's child star bares her butt and boobs in all their Photoshopped glory.

Speaking of former child stars, over at OK! a chubby Britney shows off her "New Bod" with the promise of "amazing sexy photos inside." Meanwhile, though, Britney's ex-BFFs (best friends forever, in case you didn't know -- clash as it might with the "ex") are in trouble! "Paris in jail and Lindsay arrested!"

Not okay with just OK!? You can try Yes! where Gretchen on the same page shows off her boy toy and her trophy millionaire. Then say hi to Hello! where Judy Ann is "feeling Beyonce and Pussycat Dolls."

The horror. The horror.

In contrast to all this, Entrepreneur is an oasis of sanity. "Do you have a strategy for profits?" they ask. At the same time, though, one can't help feeling like the underperforming underappreciated black sheep of the family with titles like: "The Philippines' 75 Most Admired Entrepreneurs." If they can do it, you can, too! Why can't you be more like them?

The result of which might play out like a Marie Claire. Marie Claire starts out demure: "When you'd rather not have sex," they muse with refreshing honesty. But like a deranged split-personality, they turn on you with sudden violence: "Kill yourself or your family will kill you!" before settling on middling neurosis with the challenge: "Can you live without a mirror for a week?" And once more, the schizophrenia kicks in: "Get great hair now!"

Down below, the newspapers express fears of a drought.

But it's already here.

Beatitudes

For my creative writing class:

Thursday night, and Samuel found himself once more on his lonely vigil at the jeepney stop. As usual, Fr. Alcorda had gotten carried away with his sermon, and so the recollection had gone on longer than scheduled. The good father had seen fit each and every one of the Beatitudes in great detail.

"Beg your pardon, sir, beg your pardon...."

The woman had crept up on him silently so that when she humbly called his attention, Samuel had almost jumped out of his skin. She was in late middle age, not too shabbily dressed. She led a young boy -- her grandson, probably -- by his arm.

"What's the matter, lola?" Samuel asked.

"Oh, I'm so embarrassed to say," the woman said, turning a slight shade of red. "It seems we've spent a bit too much. And now we don't have enough for fare home. I was wondering if you would be so kind...."

Samuel thought back to Fr. Alcorda's sermon. The words came echoing back. "Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the kingdom of Heaven...."

He fumbled in his pocket and fished out a crumpled twenty peso bill. He had set aside just enough for his own ride home, having put the rest into the recollection's collection pouch. No matter, he thought, it was only a three-kilometer walk home.

Samuel put the money into the woman's hands. Her face lit up with profuse joy. "Thank you, young sir, thank you!" she said. Tears threatened to well up in her eyes. "Think nothing of it, madame," he said graciously.

Samuel walked back home with a light heart. He had done a good deed! He had sacrificed his own comfort for the well being of another! "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy...."

But soon his sacrifice made itself known in stark terms. The night was sultry, and his shirt was drenched in his sweat. Every passing car belched out thick black smoke that blotted the streetlamps. The three kilometers, so short a jog early in the morning, seemed to stretch longer and farther than it really was, and now it made sure that his feet felt every step. Not long after, his stomach joined in the chorus, reminding him of the dinner he had not yet taken.

"Blessed are the hungry," Samuel repeated, "they will have their fill...."

Like the gates of heaven, the golden arches of a corner McDonald's came into view. A turn there, another two blocks' walk, and he would be home. Samuel tried his best to avert his eyes, but the backlit panaflex menu of Big Macs and french fries and sundaes called out to him like a beacon in the night. A loud grumble from his stomach punctuated the thought. His mouth felt dry.

"A chocolate sundae sure would feel good right now," he thought. Absently, he dug into his pocket but came up empty.

Regretfully, his eyes lingered on the oversized picture of shakes and ice cream desserts on the menu, only parting to survey the fortunate light night snackers in the well-lit restaurant, an odd assortment of cooing lovers on a date, laughing friends on a night out, desperate students cramming for an exam the following day, and very familiarly, for their faces were still fresh in his memory, a very contented middle-aged woman and her grandson, each enjoying a tall refreshing cup of chocolate sundae.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

I brush with Crust...

...well, no, not really. Thank goodness.

Can you call this counterfeiting? Well, hmmm.... seems we have a gray area here. It's not branded Crest, after all. It's Crust. With a U.

Remember that a couple of months back, the US FDA ordered a recall of China-made toothpaste because they contained antifreeze? That hasn't stopped the local Unitop branch from purveying products. Wala naman sigurong antifreeze, kasi hindi naman malamig dito sa Pilipinas.

Ah, Unitop. Whereas Manila has Divisoria and Tutuban for all the China goods, Unitop seems intent on capturing the provincial market. Unitop in Davao opened last year, just around the same time that as Unitop in Dumaguete. In the news last year also was the branch in Ormoc which burned down, with several fatalities.

Still, you can't beat the prices. I dropped by to get a couple of hardware tools. Passing by the toiletries, I saw the toothpaste brands.

Can't get your teeth white enough with Crust? Try Collage! Need your breath fresher? Use Listeren. Regardless, sigurado ka nga dili mangilo imong ngipon...kay na-a may antifreeze.



Hmmm, not too long ago, there was also a popular Chinese brand called Darkie. That went well with the politically correct Americans.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

The 31 Functions of a Folk Tale

Last week, I featured the 36 dramatic situations. Now, let's dig in a little deeper and look at how such stories may be structured. Everyone already knows about the Hero's Journey, based on Joseph Campbell's Hero with a Thousand Faces so here's something which actually preceded it: Vladimir Propp's 31 functions of a folk tale.

Propp studied Russian folk tales and broke them down into their smallest narrative units, known as narratemes. Using this technique, he concluded that there were 31 generic themes that occured in sequence (though they don't always have to appear and there may be variations).

These are:

  1. A member of a family leaves home (the hero is introduced);
  2. An interdiction is addressed to the hero ('don't go there', 'go to this place');
  3. The interdiction is violated (villain enters the tale);
  4. The villain makes an attempt at reconnaissance (either villain tries to find the children/jewels etc; or intended victim questions the villain);
  5. The villain gains information about the victim;
  6. The villain attempts to deceive the victim to take possession of victim or victim's belongings (trickery; villain disguised, tries to win confidence of victim);
  7. Victim taken in by deception, unwittingly helping the enemy;
  8. Villain causes harm/injury to family member (by abduction, theft of magical agent, spoiling crops, plunders in other forms, causes a disappearance, expels someone, casts spell on someone, substitutes child etc, comits murder, imprisons/detains someone, threatens forced marriage, provides nightly torments); Alternatively, a member of family lacks something or desires something (magical potion etc);
  9. Misfortune or lack is made known, (hero is dispatched, hears call for help etc/ alternative is that victimised hero is sent away, freed from imprisonment);
  10. Seeker agrees to, or decides upon counter-action;
  11. Hero leaves home;
  12. Hero is tested, interrogated, attacked etc, preparing the way for his/her receiving magical agent or helper (donor);
  13. Hero reacts to actions of future donor (withstands/fails the test, frees captive, reconciles disputants, performs service, uses adversary's powers against him);
  14. Hero acquires use of a magical agent (directly transferred, located, purchased, prepared, spontaneously appears, eaten/drunk, help offered by other characters);
  15. Hero is transferred, delivered or led to whereabouts of an object of the search;
  16. Hero and villain join in direct combat;
  17. Hero is branded (wounded/marked, receives ring or scarf);
  18. Villain is defeated (killed in combat, defeated in contest, killed while asleep, banished);
  19. Initial misfortune or lack is resolved (object of search distributed, spell broken, slain person revivied, captive freed);
  20. Hero returns;
  21. Hero is pursued (pursuer tries to kill, eat, undermine the hero);
  22. Hero is rescued from pursuit (obstacles delay pursuer, hero hides or is hidden, hero transforms unrecognisably, hero saved from attempt on his/her life);
  23. Hero unrecognised, arrives home or in another country;
  24. False hero presents unfounded claims;
  25. Difficult task proposed to the hero (trial by ordeal, riddles, test of strength/endurance, other tasks);
  26. Task is resolved;
  27. Hero is recognised (by mark, brand, or thing given to him/her);
  28. False hero or villain is exposed;
  29. Hero is given a new appearance (is made whole, handsome, new garments etc);
  30. Villain is punished;
  31. Hero marries and ascends the throne (is rewarded/promoted).

Monday, August 06, 2007

Bingkay

Can you smell irony?

This is Bingkay, one of the denizens of the old Davao International Airport. I know so because it's spelled out on the sign on his wheelchair and on the tattoo on his arm.

The Old Davao Airport

It's been awhile since I've gotten on a bicycle (and hence the absence of biking posts.) Yesterday seemed the right time to start making up for it. The skies were overcast and held a hint of drizzle, just the perfect weather for a long ride.

I originally intended to go only as far as DAMOSA, Davao's new outsourcing center, but once there, the distance seemed too short. So I proceeded to the old Davao Airport in Sasa, another six kilometers away.

For years, the Old Davao Airport had served as the main terminal for the city and other nearby parts. That was until December 2003 when operations moved to the new airport in Buhangin.

I have so many memories of the place, many of them prayerful...as in praying for the last remaining seat in the waitlist. But I can't really fault the airport for that; instead the blame should go to the very bureaucratic and very inefficient Philippine Airlines of those days. But I digress.





Honestly, I was expecting the place to be deserted, but it wasn't. Certainly it wasn't as busy as before, and in the air I felt a touch of sadness for its bygone glory, but now, the premises have been converted into an activity center of sorts.

Yesterday, a scooter club -- yes, they were scooters, despite any insistence to call them motorcycles -- turned the old parking lot into a racetrack. Weekend riders revved up their scooters and, well, scooted around, mufflers sputtering loudly in the air. It all looked a little silly, actually.

Things are a far cry from the old days, but there's still life in the airport area, it seems. I saw young soldiers, probably heading off for their assignments, leading me to think that it's now been converted into a military terminal. On the whole, roadside sari-sari stores dominate the scene

Ah, sic transit gloria mundi!

Seems to me, though, the place deserves a bit more respect than its getting now. The old Davao Airport was witness to two major tragedies in recent memory: the bombing on March 4, 2003, and an Air Philippines crash on April 19, 2000. There ought to be a memorial there. Instead, they've just let the flowers grow over. (See also the Mindanews feature on the airport.)

On the return trip, I took R. Castillo, leading back to Agdao. All in all, a 20-km. ride. Not bad for these old bones.

Friday, August 03, 2007

And, finally...the 1000th



And now to unleash my inner geek: celebrating the 1,000th post.

Thanks much to Blogie, Marc, Jun, Benz, Jim, and Councilor Pete Lavina for helping me mark the milestone with pizza, nuts, chips, beer, and a game of Talecraft and Guillotine.



Held on August 3, 2007 at Spro Coffee Shop.

Nine hundred ninety-nine

...and this, my friends, is post number nine hundred ninety-nine.

I had a bit of a scare because I realized that Blogger counted even the draft entries as an actual post. Looking back, I had around four or five entries in that mode. A round of quick editing (and a couple of deletions) later, I was back on track.

In any case, the number nine hundred ninety-nine also has a colorful background.

From the Wikpedia, Nine hundred ninety-nine is the natural number following nine hundred ninety-eight and preceding one thousand. 999 is a Harshad number and a Kaprekar number. A Harshad number, or Niven number, is an integer that is divisible by the sum of its digits in a given number base. A Kaprekar number for a given base is a non-negative integer, the representation of whose square in that base can be split into two parts that add up to the original number again.

Nine hundred ninety-nine is also:

The largest 3 digit whole number in base 10.

The telephone number for the emergency services in the United Kingdom, The Republic of Ireland, Hong Kong, Macau, Singapore, Malaysia and others.

The Triple Nine Society is a high IQ society for the top tenth of one percent of the population.

No. 999, the first steam locomotive in the United States to operate at faster than 100 mph.

Galaxy Express 999, a manga and anime created by Leiji Matsumoto. (I loved this anime as a kid!)

The area of Luxembourg, in square miles.

The last assigned number in the Dewey Decimal system for libraries, referencing the general history of extraterrestrial worlds (and that I can appreciate.)

See you guys later at Spro!

Self-caricature



This is the cartoon "me", created ca. 1988.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

The 36 Dramatic Situations

Ah, stories, you just gotta love 'em. While we aspiring writers bang our heads against our walls (or desks or typewriters or whatever) it turns out that someone else somewhere has already written something with a similar plot. As my friends used to say about my work: "It's good and original...the good part isn't original and the original part isn't good."

It turns out that a fellow by the name of Georges Polti already wrote a book on every conceivable plot, and all this back in the 19th century! (And even that, apparently, wasn't original as he built on the work of another fellow by the name of Carlo Gozzi.)

Still, a taxonomy like this is helpful if one is in a creative writing exercise and is coming up dry. Throw 'em all into a hat, pick a card, and come out banging on the word processor.

The 36 plots, according to Polti:

  • Supplication - Persecutor, Suppliant, a Power in Authority
  • Deliverance - Unfortunates, Threatener, Rescuer
  • Revenge - Avenger, Criminal
  • Vengeance by Family upon Family - Avenging Kinsman, Guilty Kinsman, Relative
  • Pursuit - Fugitive from Punishment, Pursuer
  • Victim of Cruelty or Misfortune - Unfortunates, Master or Unlucky Person
  • Disaster - Vanquished Power, Victorious Power or Messenger
  • Revolt - Tyrant, Conspirator(s)
  • Daring Enterprise - Bold Leader, Goal, Adversary
  • Abduction - Abductor, Abducted, Guardian
  • Enigma - Interrogator, Seeker, Problem
  • Obtaining - Two or more Opposing Parties, Object, maybe an Arbitrator
  • Familial Hatred - Two Family Members who hate each other
  • Familial Rivalry - Preferred Kinsman, Rejected Kinsman, Object
  • Murderous Adultery - Two Adulterers, the Betrayed
  • Madness - Madman, Victim
  • Fatal Imprudence - Imprudent person, Victim or lost object
  • Involuntary Crimes of Love - Lover, Beloved, Revealer
  • Kinsman Kills Unrecognised Kinsman - Killer, Unrecognised Victim, Revealer
  • Self Sacrifice for an Ideal - Hero, Ideal, Person or Thing Sacrificed
  • Self Sacrifice for Kindred - Hero, Kinsman, Person or Thing Sacrificed
  • All Sacrificed for Passion - Lover, Object of Passion, Person or Thing Sacrificed
  • Sacrifice of Loved Ones - Hero, Beloved Victim, Need for Sacrifice
  • Rivalry Between Superior and Inferior - Superior, Inferior, Object
  • Adultery - Deceived Spouse, Two Adulterers
  • Crimes of Love - Lover, Beloved, theme of Dissolution
  • Discovery of Dishonor of a Loved One - Discoverer, Guilty One
  • Obstacles to Love - Two Lovers, Obstacle
  • An Enemy Loved - Beloved Enemy, Lover, Hater
  • Ambition - An Ambitious Person, Coveted Thing, Adversary
  • Conflict with a God - Mortal, Immortal
  • Mistaken Jealousy - Jealous One, Object of Jealousy, Supposed Accomplice, Author of Mistake
  • Faulty Judgment - Mistaken One, Victim of Mistake, Author of Mistake, Guilty Person
  • Remorse - Culprit, Victim, Interrogator
  • Recovery of a Lost One - Seeker, One Found
  • Loss of Loved Ones - Kinsman Slain, Kinsman Witness, Executioner
More on this from a very informative Straight Dope article.