Monday, March 13, 2006

Enjoying the BBC

I was having dinner last night at a friend's place, when, while channel-surfing, we came across a BBC documentary on Serbian war criminal Slobodan Milosevic. He was recently found dead a few days ago; just today it was reported that he actually died from a heart attack rather than from suicide or assassination. (For another good British sum-up of Milosevic's bloody career, check out The Guardian.)

My friend, who earlier had accompanied me to the mall to help me choose new eyeglass frames, said that there were times he preferred watching the BBC over CNN. It was more calm and laid-back, and encouraged him to think. CNN, he said, is at its best for breaking news, but its programming is sometimes too adrenaline-charged, and therefore more tiring to watch.

The documentary was interesting. Apart from the usual biographical information it showed the evolution of Slobodan Milosevic and sociology professor wife Mira Markovich as Serbia's power couple, tracing their political affiliations from one extreme to another, and how the couple fed off each other's ambitions as they grabbed power and sought to remain there. The documentary also showed how they manipulated mass media to reposition Milosevic as a nationalist strongman despite having been indicted for ethnic cleansing and other war crimes at The Hague. Upon Marshal Tito's death, as Yugoslavia broke into smaller republics (talk about the term "balkanization"), the nationalist Serbs lapped up exactly what Milosevic had intended. The BBC documented every instance of individual and national betrayal. Biting stuff.

"Shades of Marcos and Imelda," I mumbled over a bite of brownies. "Mismo!", my friend said.

Now if they turn it into a biographical potboiler, I'd buy it to read in the farm. I'm into historical nonfiction in a big way -- countries, cultures, wars, biographies. When there's no television, and no new dvds, that's what sustains my imagination.

Mercury Retrograde Redux

Wasn't it Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawat who mentioned last year that Mercury Retrograde was not a good time for him? He must be making offerings to temples left and right just to stay afloat until March 25, hehehe.

On the home Powerbook is back with a vengeance! The newly replaced LCD is working wonderfully! The techie at my friendly neighborhood Apple reseller also replaced my 768mb worth of RAM with just one 1G chip - I just traded in my two old 512mb Kingston chips (I have another 768mb worth of RAM in the other dead Powerbook I bought just for parts, all that remains now are the two OEM 256mb chips). He also tested my Firewire/USB mini HDD enclosure (which wouldn't mount). It turns out that the firewire cable doesn't work (the USB cable does, but you will need to plug the AC adapter, which defeats the purpose of portability). Good thing I can still have it replaced within warranty at Powermac Megamall.

What peeves me is that the enclosure cost me PhP 5,500 last year while my friendly neighborhood Apple reseller was selling a similar-but-fully- working product for PhP 2,000 less! Alas, that's what happens when one is desperate for emergency portable backup storage. I will NEVER buy from them again. My friendly neighborhood Apple reseller will now get ALL my custom. My techie there, Nomer, is THE BEST! If you are reading this and if you are a happy QC-based Mac owner, you probably know the outfit I speak of. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

As to the planet Mercury, I thumb my nose at you when I have such good friends at my side!

Tuesday, March 7, 2006

Mercury Retrograde

I'd like to blame Mercury retrograde (which began last March 2) for my Powerbook being sent to the shop. Had the lcd replaced (for worrying onscreen fuzzy lines)and when the techie and I were checking the stats, the unit wouldn't read the RAM in the lower slot. He said that was a problem in the 1.5Ghz and 1.67Ghz Powerbooks (mine is a 1Ghz model), so unfortunately when we checked my Powerbook's serial number in the recall list, it wasn't included in the model series. My RAM went down from 768mb to 512mb!!! WAHHH!!! Am considering trading in my two 512mb's to buy 1G RAM if it comes out that the machine can only read one RAM at a time. Fortunately my techie was very conscientious and asked to keep my unit in the shop an additional 2 days until he could figure out how to fix the RAM reading. They really give good service there (a well-known Apple reseller based in Quezon City).

Oddly enough, Joy's 128mb flash drive also conked out and had to be replaced. My first Canon digital camera, the A60 (which Joy was using) also had to be repaired, fortunately within warranty).

The last time Mercury retrograde came 'round (November last year) some of my computer equipment began exhibiting problems. Fortunately, all of those problems were solved (but at a cost, damn).

Let's hope it passes quickly.

A Respite From The Rush

This is one of those rare days when I can sit back and think about the flurry of activity that characterized the whole month of February. When you think of it, blogging has been made so user-friendly that everyone can chronicle their latest thoughts, whether those thoughts actually contain useful content or not (hahaha!). Some really talented people I know manage to keep their sites updated despite problems at work, cranky babies, lack of access, name it. Sometimes I wish I were that disciplined.

Since January 7 we've had guests every weekend at Agape Springs, our bed-&-breakfast resthouse in Dasmariñas, Cavite. I'm back to working weekends. Supposedly I have days off (Mondays), where I catch up on sleep and watch tv/dvds. Along the way I injured my back trying to lift a box of bedlinens the wrong way. That meant having hour-long laser acupuncture treatments every Monday for five Mondays at my high school classmate's clinic in Quezon City. I'm pleased to report that I'm free from pain and my back is much, much better. However, leaving the house on Mondays makes me want to fill up my time with useful activities much like work... ergo... Mondays aren't really a day off. Sunday afternoons when I get home to Manila I try not to touch my pc or even check my email, otherwise I'll be tempted to multitask and find myself working still. But I try to make sure I get a social life -- was able to attend my friend Heidi's birthday dinner at the Chinese resto Zong (at The Fort) with the rest of my girlfriends in the group we refer to as The Justice League.

Last week we had no guests, so I had time to do my dad's Baguio City High golden jubilee souvenir program (everything from scanning to editing pix, content editing and layout, and printing a working draft in time for their meeting in Baguio). I also had time to play with my niece Lilo (lots of new pix to follow!). And I've been able to enjoy Battlestar Galactica Seasons 1 & 2 on dvd.

I also lost ten lbs.!!!