Friday, October 24, 2008

Hakuna Matata

Some time ago, after reading Rhonda Byrne's "The Secret", I made a conscious decision not to write about things that reflect some of my knee-jerk negative thoughts. To write them is to propagate the negativity, I felt. But sometimes I also need to express them, so I don't harbor them within me. Emotion magnifies things if you let it. Writing helps purge that excess emotion and negativity, because it helps put order in chaos, and gives direction to energies. It's normal to have these sorts of feelings, but if I don't apply some concepts of Buddhist balance, things could go so easily out of whack.

What happened this morning, you ask. Nothing out of the usual, breakfast was great, actually. Sardines, chive omelette, pork and beans, even boiled ripe saba bananas. I really enjoyed it. It's the newspapers I don't enjoy looking at much. They're full of stories of economic downtrends, side by side with stories of contaminated food, vehicular accidents, desert wars, the kidnapping industry, unsavory showbiz gossip and the unrepentant arrogance and corruption of public officials. What else is new? I read them because it's part of my daily education, but today I don't have the stomach for it. I could say that every day, but I don't know why I feel it particularly today. I DO NOT HAVE THE STOMACH FOR IT TODAY. (How liberating to type it in all caps, in a blog.)

This is the point where I usually think: I'll have the stomach for it later. Tomorrow. Maybe.

This reminds me of my low-batt rant during an exasperating conversation with a much younger person a couple of months ago. I said to that person: Look, I'm tired. I had a long day at work. There are times the most political thing I want to discuss is Angelina Jolie's humanitarian projects. I just can't listen anymore to complaints where nobody is suggesting any solutions. It's not my battle to fight. You can think I'm old and I just don't have the energy anymore to deal with these things. But I DO have energy. I just want to apply that energy to other things that make me happy. And that doesn't mean that things that make me happy are any less stimulating or less intelligent. In the end I just want some balance in my day. I deserve it.

I was happy to get out of there.

I was a bit alarmed when I examined this thought again later. I don't think I'm old, or even particularly wise. I'm cheerful most of the time. Is this hormonal mid-life already? When I lived in Australia I used to tape handwritten affirmations on the bathroom mirror so I could read it while brushing my teeth or washing my hands. I try to visualize a good day every day. It requires a lot of effort to deliberately put yourself in the mindset that if you look at a given situation from a different/more positive point of view, you can turn things around. You can, but it takes a while, and only in your sphere of influence. And I only know that now, having gone through things the hard way.

It's the feeling of helplessness that creates a lot of anxiety. It's the feeling that the world is a pendulum swinging crazily on a rapidly fraying chain, in a universe of randomness. That's when you have to do as much as you can and then trust that things will work out. Invoke a Higher Power if that works for you. Trust that people are inherently good, act towards them that way, pay it forward. Appreciate good news when it's there, because it's precious. (No, it is NOT that time of the month.)

Several years ago I was invited by a friend to one of those zen meditation classes held above the Lopez Museum by a Catholic nun. I learned something important there: how to create a point of quietness for my mind and body. Our daily busy-ness swirls with vibes transmitted by the people we encounter and more often than not we allow ourselves to be affected. The quiet, peaceful stillness was so attractive to me. I might practice it again. I have used it successfully in the past, to reduce feelings of anxiety where I couldn't pinpoint a particular cause. There are days like that. When we meditate we consider a thought, and release it, consider a new one, release that, control our breathing, our physical responses, relax. Or consider a particular prayer and hold to it while letting thoughts come and go. When I think about time this way it makes sense that yes, tomorrow hasn't happened so there is only right now to do things in a way that brings you balance and peace.

The French have a saying: "Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose." The more things change, the more things stay the same. There's one idea of balance, with two different ways of looking at the same sentence.

Every new second that comes is my right now. Right now I decide to make myself a good cup of coffee to enjoy. Right now I am considering two beautiful words from Disney's "The Lion King".

Hakuna Matata.

And the day is saved!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Doll of the Cthulhu

Now I am a great H.P. Lovecraft fan. (Like I am a great Dr. Who fan. Science fiction and fantasy, I am your girl!)

Dark Roasted Blend
, one of my favorite "odd photo conglomeration" sites, gives us this entertaining view of how love of knitting and cult monstrosity mix. [You'll love the different photo sets in their other blog posts too, I promise.]

Just the other night I was watching downloaded beloved reruns of the 80's seasons of The [New] Twilight Zone (Harlan Ellison era, 1985-89) and there was one episode about a little boy whose nigh-on-dying grandma turns out to be a creepy Cthulhu thrall! Now this!

Amber's crocheted Cthulhu is absolutely, uh, adorable. I wish I could post the photo here, but do visit the link to see Amber's celebration of creativity. The amigurumi (knitted toy Japanese style) pattern is free. Unfortunately I'm not that much of a crocheter. Joy is, and amigurumi gives her a bit of carpal tunnel.

One of the knitters on the monsters page, Kimberly Chapman, did her Dalek from EntropyHouse's "ExtermiKNIT" Kit! Previously I wrote in Knittipina about the Knitted Dalek photographed in a UK convention by Yarn Harlot Stephanie Pearl-McPhee. I did not know there were more in that army *amusement*

Yes, the Dalek pattern is FREE. I might make it one day. I'll probably have better luck finishing it than meeting David Tennant in person. But hey, I met Neil Gaiman in person, so you never know. And then shall come... a Knitted Sandman?

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Netbooks Philippines

I'd like to invite everyone who's curious about netbooks and ultra-mobile pc's to visit's sister site,

Got questions about which brands to buy? Expansions and peripherals? How to optimize the browser you're using? Jazz up your netbook with up-to-date accessories? This is the forum where members from newbies to the more experienced can get answers and exchange feedback with their peers. Everyone is welcome, from folks who need advice to those who can dish it out.

Just Google the keywords "netbooks" + "Philippines" and it's at the top of the list, notwithstanding certain copycat sites that sprouted weeks after it announced its formation on I'm making this distinction upon the recommendation of Netbooks-PH administrators so that you can make sure that articles originating from Netbooks-PH were posted THERE firsthand. "Borrowing" content without attribution is rampant nowadays, but at least we can always refer to logged time stamps.

Imitation, as they say, is the best form of flattery.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Ridata 8G USB Flash Drive

CDR-King's got a great new product out, very good value for your money: the Ridata Flick EZ Drive 8G USB Flash Drive for PhP880. I was in Megamall for the Oct. 17 three-day sale opening, and dropped by store first thing. I was actually looking for a cheap-but-reliable 4G flash drive like the one I bought for TDM recently (he had lost his in Cebu), but was glad to find this much better one!

Mine is matte black, as in the picture. I like the thumb-slide protection of the drive case, as other models have removable caps that can get lost. There's a hole in the other end so that you can attach it to your keychain. It also comes in white.

Inside there's a user manual in pdf format, but it's practically useless for English speakers as it's written in Chinese. Anyhow, if you use flash drives a lot, you won't really need it.

The speed is "Lightning Class", which would be the equivalent of a Class 6 for Transcend. I made a file benchmark test using Flash Memory Toolkit, and it gave me the ff. very good results (click on image to enlarge):

I also have a "stormtrooper white" Ridata Mini Brick EZ Drive 4G flash drive bought earlier this year for PhP700. Also "Lightning Class", also very good, and very reliable.

The price difference is to definitely to our advantage! If I were you, I'd get this instead of PQI. Once this is out of stock you'll have to wait to get a new one. Get one soon, world global financial crisis notwithstanding.

(Now waiting for a good price on a 16G...)

Nanay, the Medical Tourist

Nanay just had her gall bladder removed because of a 1.2cm gall stone the size of a kiamoy (red champoy) seed. She was confined at the new Medical City for 5 days last week, because apart from the pain we also had to manage her hypertension levels. I stayed with her all week as she was confined, bringing my knitting and my Asus EEE with me to the hospital so I could both work and knit off the interminable waiting that's par for the course at hospitals. Turns out Nanay took it like a trouper.

The procedure is called laparoscopic cholecystectomy, which has been done successfully in the country for the last 7 years. The surgeon who operated on Nanay is one of the top professionals with this expertise, so we weren't too worried. Our other option was standard surgical removal, however we were informed that big incisions take a while longer to heal. The "lap-chole" involves making 4 holes in the abdominal area, and the surgery is performed with a tiny camera monitoring the actions of tiny robotic surgical implements. Yes, the sort of thing you see on Discovery Channel! (And yes, we have a dvd from the doctor, but nobody's yet in the mood to watch it.) They told us that the entire gall bladder was removed, and that small titanium clamps were left inside to hold the rest of her in place. Nanay joked that after the removal of her appendix, her uterus and the gall bladder, her abdomen ought to get smaller. Several of her friends called us to commiserate and admit they also had their gall bladders removed.

Which leads us to the low-salt, low-fat diet. Before the operation she was served regular hospital food, which -- surprise, surprise! -- actually tasted good and fresh. (I know, I ate half her food. I think they have real chefs for this, because it's FAR from carinderia food although quite simple.) The day before the operation she had the low-salt, low-fat food, which was rejuvenated by the fantastic new product Pan Salt, which has 43% less sodium than regular salt. This ought to be available at your neighborhood supermarket, in a blue box with orange letters. (Please take note that it is a TABLE SEASONING and NOT a cooking salt, because you might be adding a bigger quantity to whatever you're cooking just so it tastes the way you remember.)

Her Medical City room was expensive and new, and had a panoramic view. If we had a choice we'd have chosen a less expensive room, but there was no other room available at all, and both her internal medicine specialist and cardiologist practice here. There was a sofa where I slept, and cable tv, daily newspapers and free wifi. The best thing about it was the bathroom, which was huge and had well-thought-of emergency access options (push-button assistance calls, arm rail and non-slip surface for the shower). It was cleaned twice a day by cheerful and efficient staff, who DO NOT use anything with the trauma-inducing smell of pine cleanser. (The cleanser smelled of flowers and citrus, like at a hotel. Which is definitely the point.)

I can see they're really promoting Medical Tourism. I was astounded by the kind, competent, efficient, well-spoken and very attractive nurses. Even the male nurse assigned to Nanay looked like he could star in a local version of "Grey's Anatomy". I kid you not. Tatay was impressed. He didn't mind the cost of the room if it meant it was a sort of forced spa vacation for Nanay (who multitasks so much she gets guilty if she's idle). Her birthday's coming up at the end of the month, and he wanted her to be in a good frame of mind. He appointed me as her, uh, spa attendant-cum-jail warden. It was actually pleasant for the entire family to visit her daily. Joy and Tristan brought Lilo to see her Lola Nanay every night after dinner. Lilo actually said, "Nanay, come home na." How cute is that! What a way to cheer her grandma up. Then Lilo would gaze down at the cityscape of lights and marvel how high up she was in the air, munching on whatever she liked from the fruit basket.

There was cable tv at the hospital, but one couldn't just sit and watch all day. I had to be productive. Unfortunately, the free wifi signal in the room was pathetic. So I used my Nokia 6120 and the Globe PhP5/15mins connection, and was able to work and send out an ad for a November convention. There's 3G signal in the area, I got the ff. speed last Oct. 9:

I also brought some knitting, which kept me calm and relaxed all throughout the hospital stay. I started casting on stitches for Lilo's hoodie cardigan that Saturday morning, and as the days went on, I went from this:

to this:

and by the time we checked out, I had finished the second sleeve and only had the hood to do. Talk about single-minded knitting! This project actually had a few fans among the nurses , who'd been coming in every 3 or 4 hours to check my mom's -- and the project's -- vital signs, hahaha!

Nanay was also in the mood for a little art, in keeping with her "spa" mood. Click on the image for a clearer view:

She has more sketches of me watching tv and taking a nap on the sofa, as well as the view from her hospital window... I love this particular one. It really looks like me.

So yes, Nanay is home and doing fine. I just make sure she doesn't tire herself unnecessarily. We brought home her souvenir in a little bottle, and joke about having it set in resin and made into a pendant.

Thanks to everyone who sent prayers and get-well messages, and to Ta Ann who sent a fruit basket :)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Which Tarot Card Are You?

You are The Lovers

Motive, power, and action, arising from Inspiration and Impulse.

The Lovers represents intuition and inspiration. Very often a choice needs to be made.

Originally, this card was called just LOVE. And that's actually more apt than "Lovers." Love follows in this sequence of growth and maturity. And, coming after the Emperor, who is about control, it is a radical change in perspective. LOVE is a force that makes you choose and decide for reasons you often can't understand; it makes you surrender control to a higher power. And that is what this card is all about. Finding something or someone who is so much a part of yourself, so perfectly attuned to you and you to them, that you cannot, dare not resist. This card indicates that the you have or will come across a person, career, challenge or thing that you will fall in love with. You will know instinctively that you must have this, even if it means diverging from your chosen path. No matter the difficulties, without it you will never be complete.

What Tarot Card are You?
Take the Test to Find Out.

TDM, *wink!* *wink!*