Friday, April 27, 2012

Slog, slog, slog

It used to be that I'd go through a couple of novels a week.  My standard fare is fantasy and science fiction, and most of the time, they're an easy read.  Nowadays, though, my burn rate has gone down drastically.  Now I'm beginning to wonder if it's:

a) my poor eyesight;

b) greater self-awareness and more sophisticated adult tastes;

c) the diminishing quality of contemporary fantasy and science fiction; or

d) any combination of the above.

Case in point: I'm having a really hard time going through "And Another Thing...", Eoin Colfer's take at a sequel of Douglas Adams' "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" series.  It's been two weeks since I started on the book, and I'm still only halfway through.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Up Close

Shots I took using my close-up lens filters.  Subjects are bougainville plants on the 6th floor of Finster buildng.  The view at such close ranges really gives you a new perspective on botanical life.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Someday when I grow up...

...I'm going to be an astronaut.

That's what I always said when I was younger.  And then reality set in: poor eyesight, unbalanced coordination, and the killer of all dreams, the need to earn a living.

I don't feel so bad, though.  Space travel hasn't quite kept pace with its promise.  What? No FTL drives?  No big bad lasers?  Why would I want to go up into space if, you know, I can't blow stuff up?

You can't take the sky from me

Monday, April 23, 2012


These days I'm caught up in existential doldrums.  This doesn't happen often, but once in a while it does roll by, and when it does, what's there to do but hunker down and hope that I see myself through.

Right now, it feels much like nothing that I do matters very much.  Not merely what I'm doing (or what I'm not doing, it depends), but the entire framework of it all.  Success now is measured in dollar terms (the going rate, I heard, is now in the billions, else it's not even worth a mention) or in the number of followers on social networks (you need a million or more to be somebody.)  Now I know I'll never hit those figures, but even if I did, would it make me any happier?

Whatever happened to the really worthwhile goals?  Of expanding knowledge, bettering humanity, and mastering oneself?  It's all lost in just so much noise.

I want to stop.  Stop for just a bit.  Take in the silence.


So it goes.

Strange Bedfellows

Politics, they say, makes for strange bedfellows, but this Google News summary from a few days ago?  As media would have it, PNoy's lovelife is a national concern, and since he just broke up with his latest fling, former President Estrada, who just turned 75, has heroically stepped forward to, er, take the bullet.


(No, I did not edit this: this is a screen capture of the Google News page.  The original title, though, said that Estrada was volunteering his services as Aquino's "love guru."

(Still ewww....)

Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Narcissist

"I pray thee, do not listen to him, your majesty," pleaded Hedrig. "Send him away, for he bodes ill, and no good can come of his wares."

But Queen Eloria turned a deaf ear to her loyal slave. She beckoned the merchant Orioso to step forth, and he did, unrolling a thick well-worn blanket on the palace floor and revealing its trove of gold-gleaming trinkets and many-colored baubles. Queen Eloria strained not to gasp or lean forward from her throne: such riches she had not seen in all her young life.

Orioso bent to pick up a shiny object, and cradling it in both hands as he bowed, he proffered it to the queen. Hedrig hissed at the merchant, but the queen silenced her.

"What is it?" Queen Eloria asked.

"This, your glorious majesty," answered Orioso, "is a treasure forged by the master craftsman Asterio with purest gold from the mines of Hestus and finest silver from the lands of Sertis. It is said to reveal the innermost soul of whomever peers into its frame. Your majesty, may I present to you...the mirror."

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Speed 3: Highways of Hanoi

This picture has been making its rounds on the news wires today: a Vietnamese policeman hanging on to the front of a speeding bus.  From the AP release:
In this photo made from a video filmed Monday, April 9, 2012 and released by Hanoi Police, Vietnamese traffic police 2nd Lt. Nguyen Manh Phan clings on to the windshield wipers of a moving bus as he goes on a wild ride for nearly a kilometer (0.62 miles) after the rogue driver tried to avoid a ticket in Ba Vi District outside Hanoi, Vietnam. Phan ordered the bus driver to pull over the 39-seat passenger coach but the driver allegedly refused to show his paperwork and drove off, but not before Phan leaped onto the front. The driver eventually pulled over after being chased by police and residents. Even with the bus stopped, Phan stood calmly in front of it, still hanging on to the wipers.
Heh. Paging Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Start with One

"How many children should I have?"

That was the off-topic conversation that intruded into an otherwise formal meeting during one of the downtimes away from the agenda. It's a question that any young person with an eye to the future would ask; what piqued our interest was that the asker was a Filipina scientist holding a chair in one of the most prestigious institutions in Europe. Comforting to know that the answers to some age-old common conundrums still escape the orbit of even the finest minds in the world.

For me, the answer has varied over time. When I was much younger, our grade school education during the Marcos years extolled the virtues of smaller families, so the figure was two. And at some point, it became three, and in joking moments, I said eleven so I could have my own football team. I keed, I keed.

But the answer I've settled on, the one I'm sure is closest to the truth, is this: start with one.

Start with one, because children aren't puppies that you can choose from a pet store display. Children are formed from an act of love, nurtured for the better part of a year in the mother's womb, before they come out screaming and gasping in what I have read is the most physically painful human experience. And after that, of course, comes the hard part of raising them.

It's sheer presumption to think that we can have this child, and then that: that the first one will be a boy, and the next one a girl (and perhaps another boy, for good measure.) To be sure, the medical procedures exist, but those are examples that show that just because they can be done don't necessarily mean that they should be done. The most that any reasonable couple should really hope for is that the child comes out healthy, and will lead a good life; and however they turn out, that they will be loved anyway.

Start with one, or better yet, hope for one, because there's no guarantee that says you'll be blessed with one. Unfair, yes, that but sometimes the universe just works out that way.

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Prince Arawon and the Starfish

Prince Arawon saw the light fall from the sky, a bright streak, bright even against the morning sun. It fell with a splash into the sea. Without a thought, he dove into the surf and with mighty strokes swam to where the light fell down. Just as quickly he returned, and as emerged from the water, he held out his cupped hand. It was a golden star, and it wriggled and spun.

Saturday, April 07, 2012

Pulse Plasma Cannon Chamber

In light of North Korea's planned rocket launch, the Philippines has set up several 9.8 PeV pulse plasma cannons to track -- and shoot down -- any missiles entering its airspace. The cannons have been installed in sites in the northwestern Philippines, presumably near Ilocos Norte. Test firings from last Thursday and Friday have been reported successful.