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I'm too sexy for my job

Friday, May 27, 2005 by sky

Last Tuesday I was quiet on my workstation with one cocked earphone listening to internet radio. Worlds away I was summoned by my boss, thinking it would be another one of those "approach the bench" days when he is clueless about what I have been doing.

Or so I thought. They're considering me for the Mr. (insert my company's name here) contest this coming Saturday.

I instantly declined. I blushed. I was smiling.

Damn, it was on short notice.

Enter dream sequence.
Rampa. Approach the mike.
"Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. My name is Sky and I represent the department of..."
Full, manly voice:
"Innovation Department!"
Patay na.

Deep inside, I was screaming. Ang pogi ko, leche. Humaba ang hair kong kulot. Why, of all people, me, to represent the support group in a contest that spans two cities and one municipality? One of the contestants is an expat fashionista manager, and we have Makati-based entrants too, so I think I've leveled up to the standards. But with a childhood that taught my fairer and matangos cousins are more superior and would someday inherit the earth, why should I care joining?

Why select me? Was it because of my taste in clothes, or the pheromone I gunk as I go to my workstation? The heads that turn as I romp in the canteen then fall face flat? My figure is in a bad situation after stopping gym when I entered (insert my company's name here) and I know I won't make the grade should it call for taking tops off. Talent? Dancing, singing, declamation. Ugh. Would writing an essay on the spot qualify? How about exhibiting my photographic works during my turn? It's a talent too right?

I really don't know what's the purpose of beauty contests in today's age of enlightenment. Sure, beautiful people have sprouted more today due to advancements in science, the influx of half-breeds and the proliferation of vanity centers, but I wouldn't want to be pitted next to another being and be compared on stats and a false answer alone.

Sure I want to be looked at and ogled. Who wouldn't? We need signs of approval all the time. But to be compared, no. No. I'm at peace with myself and others who are much better or worse than myself. Pass on a copy of the Desiderata please. I don't need a pageant to stress that.

A walk on the fashion runway would do. Eep.

Five questions

Thursday, May 26, 2005 by sky

From Dean, Vicar Emeritus of The Suman Latik Conspiracy:

1. You wake up one morning with a nose on your forehead--in addition to the one you already have. What are your first three thoughts?

ONE: Is it aligned to my first nose? Does it look natural? Is it the right shade of brown?
TWO: Zaphod Beeblebrox grew an additional arm and he got the Heart of Gold. I'm destined for universal greatness, likewise.
THREE: I'd better double my stock of tissue paper in case I get colds.
2. The government has a lot of different Departments and Agencies that cover a lot of concerns. What Department are we missing? What should be abolished?
I think the government's got everything covered, it's in the execution that they're missing. Can we create that, the Department of Executions? They can also moonlight and find creative ways to humanize the death penalty.

Agencies that should be abolished are those with acronyms greater than four letters. Putting up their signages is a waste of taxpayer's money.
3. The Virgin Mary appears to you tomorrow night. “Go to the Soviet Union and spread my compassion among the Communists”, she will say. Given the fact that Soviet Union is disassembled, do you take up her wish? Or try to get a better briefing? Or do something else altogether?
"VM, that is so 80's. Why won't we steer a little bit to the right and go to China? Everybody's going to China! Think of the sizable market share we can get."
4. Cosmic Boy and Magneto use their magnetic powers to move the iron in people’s bodies to whip their opponents around. Is this fair? Is this even possible?
Technically this is impossible. Although men store 1,000 mg and women 300 mg of iron in their bodies, this substance is present as an ion, Fe3+ in the form of ferritin. It has to be in its ferromagnetic form for serious opponent-whipping, like pure, elemental iron. What Cosmic Boy and Magneto can do is clad their enemies in iron suits to start the fun.
5. What’s the most stupid bit of advice anyone has ever offered you?
"Isipin mo na lang kung anong sasabihin nila pag ginawa mo yan."

And here are the rules (hinarbat mula kay Dean):
1. If you want to participate, leave a comment below saying “interview me.”
2. I will respond by asking you five questions--each person’s will be different.
3. You will update your journal/blog with the answers to the questions.
4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview others in the same post.
5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.
Go Sarimanok, where you belong!

Review 2005

by sky

In the industry that I am in, focal (a local term for performance appraisal) worksheets for my performance review consist of tangible achievements that I have done the past year, which are usually expressed in numbers. Some companies even require their employees to "dollarize" their accomplishments. Some examples (not exactly mine):

(1) Launched alternative PM schedule which reduced MC downtime by 50% due to availability of spare bondhead.
(2) Reduced NPI TPT to 3.1 weeks from 6 months by A/T synergy, the shortest in NPI history.
(3) Increased RD yield by 0.3% by smashed BPO resolution in WB module.
(4) Asset dispo and NBV recon resulted in a cost-avoidance of $315M with zero Class A and Class B audit items.
Galing, di ba? Just don't mind the acronyms. They're there to provide some engineering aura into what I've done. And then there is GMA's focal worksheet, courtesy of Conrado de Quiros. During her term, the Philippines has:
(1) Become the most dangerous place in the world for journalists, worse even than Iraq;
(2) Become the second most corrupt country in the world, and the No. 1 in Asia;
(3) Reached the highest level of public debt (P4.08 trillion) and the biggest amount of foreign borrowing (more than Corazon Aquino, Fidel Ramos and Joseph Estrada combined);
(4) Become the new "shabu" (known elsewhere as "crack) manufacturing center of Asia;
(5) Achieved the highest unemployment rate (13.9 percent or five million unemployed) and the highest underemployment rate, including the collapse of the garment industry;
(6) Had the most expensive and fraudulent elections;
(7) Had the biggest number of poor, from 32 percent under President Joseph Estrada to 47 percent under President Arroyo;
(8) Had the highest price of oil products ever (P33 per liter);
(9) Had the highest dollar-peso exchange rate (P56 to $1);
(10) Had the biggest number of casinos and gambling establishments.
My worksheet pales in comparison. Let's give her an IR* rating.

*Improvement required. That is, if we want to give her another chance. Would you?

Everyday is a bad hair day

Wednesday, May 25, 2005 by sky

NB: This piece has been posted 22 March 2003 in one of my old blogs, and happened to make it to Peyups.com. What started me with this nostalgia thing are Mud, who had an entry rehashed, and McVie who is on a coiffure contemplating mode. It was the time of Boy 2 Quizon, The Hunks and Ricky Reyes' new promise. Read on.

"Ano ba naman yang buhok mo?" "Gusto nyang magpa-rebond." "Shocks, the hair." "Bagay na pangalan mo, Cools." " So what's with July?"

At kapag uminit ang ulo mo sa asar, sasabihin nilang "Kulot kasi kaya topakin."

Buong buhay ko mula nang matuto akong mag-ayos ng sarili, iisang bahagi lang ng katawan ko ang hindi ko mapaamo--ang buhok ko. Everyday is a bad hair day.

Hindi ko alam, pero singdiretso ng walis tambo ang buhok ko mula nang ipanganak ako hanggang mga unang buwan ng first year high school. Mama ko ang gumugupit ng buhok ko buong elementary, at ayon sa uso palagi. Sa hormones malamang? Grade 4 pa lang ako, nananaginip na ako ng basa, at nangangati na ang singit-singit ng katawan ko dahil hitik na at patubo na ang mga senyales ng pagkabinata. Baka hindi.

O sa shampoo? Naaalala ko pa, kung hindi Safeguard na sabon ang ginagamit ko sa ulo ko, Palmolive (yung kulay green na nasa transparent na bote at iisang "variant" lang noon) ng mga tita ko ang pinang-sha-shampoo ko. Kapag nagbabakasyon sa probinsya aktibo naman ang mga kuto sa anit ko, handa akong ilipad pabalik sa Maynila.

Naglalagay pa ako ng gel (New Wave ang tatak) at spraynet (Aqua Net) at pinagtitripan ng mga kaklaseng babaeng i-tease ang bangs ko katulad ng mga bangs nilang abot hanggang kisame at mapagkakamalan mong tuka ng loro kapag naka-side view. Syempre may kapalit na halik kapag pinagbigyan ko sila.

"Nagpakulot ka ba?" tanong sa akin ni Ruth. Di ko sya makakalimutan dahil sya ang unang nakapansin noong high school. Mga Agosto na yun, nakapagsimula na ng klase at nagpakiramdaman na kami kung sino ang OK na kabarkada. Makopyahan ng assignments, makipagtawagan, makigawa ng mga projects sa illustration board sa ibang bahay at malaman kung ano ang minemeryenda nila, ano ang alagang hayop. Kung palengkera ang nanay nila o kung "normal" ba ang pamilya nila o tulad ba ng pamilya ko.

Balik tayo sa pagiging kulot ko. Hindi naman kinky ang buhok ko tulad ng steel wool. Pero hindi naman ka-swabe ang pagkaalon. Nasa gitna kumbaga. Ang swabe pwede mo pang idiretso pero hindi mahahalatang nagpa-"istreyt." Samantalang ang steel wool, salamat kay Ricky Reyes at nabigyan ng pag-asa ang mga kalahi ni Wilma Doesnt (in fairness nagagandahan ako sa kanya kahit ano pa ang buhok nya).

Kahit ano pa man, sana naimbento na ni Mama Ricky ang perma-straight noong pumoporma na ako. Siguro tumaas ang hitrate ko at nabawasan ang mga nambasted sa akin. Teka, di pala ako nanliligaw kaya technically, di pa ako nababasted.

Pero aminado ako, ito ang pinanggagalingan ng insecurity ko, frustration at pagkainggit sa mga diretso.

Sino ba naman ang may gustong paggising sa umaga, bukod sa panis na laway sa hininga ay isang kulay itim na cotton candy ang nakapatong sa ulo mo at tatambad sa salamin, syang poproblemahin mo kapag nag-overnight kayo? Paano na kung may naka-one night stand ako, kung nasarapan sya ay sasabunutan niya ako at hindi na mababalik sa porma ang buhok ko, baka layasan nya ako dahil mapagkamalan nyang ako si Michael Jackson (bago pa sya naging tisoy)?

Nakakuha ako ng madaling solusyon nang simulan nang tanggapin ng lipunan ang mga skinheads. Dati, kung hindi preso ay mga satanista o mga punkista lang ang bokal. Sarap ng pakiramdam, kilala ka pa sa college nyo kasi bibihira pa lang ang naglakas-loob na gumawa nito. Out na si Jose Rizal ng high school grad pic ko. Si Mr. Clean na ako kaya lang ang daming tumutol nang magtangka akong maghikaw at magbitbit ng batya. Hay, pag wholesome talaga ang image, gusto ng mga tao, wholesome na habambuhay. E paano kung maisipan kong maging pornstar? He he.

Pero di pa rin ako nakuntento. May mga panahong nagpahaba ako ng buhok, pero kulang na lang ay magpahid ako ng uling at magpunit ng damit para maging taong grasa. Hindi ko alam kung ang pagtitig sa akin ng mga taong kasalubong ko ay sa maamo kong mukha o ang wig ni Valentina.

Kung hindi pa ako nagka-girlfriend na nagsabing OK lang na magpa-parlor ang lalaki, hindi ko sana naranasan ang magpa-relax o magpa-straight. Naman, nakapasok na ako sa loob ng parlor para daanan ang Mama ko pero noon, kapag lalaki ka at nagpa-serbisyo sa parlor, nababawasan ang pagkalalake mo. Salamat sa mga pelikula ni Roderick Paulate, na kahit naka-disguise sa genre ng pampamilyang pelikula bilang superhero (Engkantadang Kangkarot, Kumander Gringa) ay talaga namang nakakahiya kung pagdudahan ang pagkalalake mo at sabihing pareho kayo ni Roda. Lalo pa akong naguluhan nang naging sila ni Jackie Aquino.

Bagay naman pala sa akin ang diretsong buhok, sabi ng girlfriend ko. Sarap pang padaanan ng mga daliri. Ganda ng bagsak. Inikut-ikot ko pa ang ulo ko na parang tutang bagong paligo. Natupad na yata ng girlfriend ko ang misyon nya sa buhay. Huwag daw munang i-shampoo ng tatlong araw sabi ng parlorista. Bawal mag-gel o mag-sumbrero o mag-bonnet.

Disaster nang pwede na akong mag-shampoo. Unti-unting bumalik si Valentina, with a vengeance. Siguro bumigay, umunat at nanguluntoy lang dahil sa init ng blower at sa lakas ng hila ng parlorista. Ang mahal-mahal pa naman noon, halos maubos ang sweldo ko, bukod sa pang-parlor ay may mga pang-maintain na shampoo at conditioner, kasama na ang ipinang-date namin. OK, ihanda na ang sarili sa panibagong round ng pang-iinsulto at panlalait.

Oops, buti na lang pinaalis ako ng boss ko mula sa Pilipinas bago ko ginawa ito, at least OK lang sa mga katrabaho kong singkit na mukha akong anime. Ilang linggo pagbalik ko sa Pilipinas, nabuhay na talaga uli ang mga alaga ko. Pero umasa pa rin akong sa kahuli-hulihang pagkakataon ay hindi muna sila magising sa pansamantalang pagkakahimlay. Nag-sales talk sa akin yung taga-shampoo ng buhok ko, at subukan ko raw magpa-hair spa dahil natigang ang buhok ko gawa ng taglamig, bukod pa sa mga kemikal na pinaglalagay noong nagpaunat ako. Syanga pala, iba ang timplada ng shampoo sa pinuntahan ko, kaya naghihintay lamang na bumalik sa maalinsangang hangin ang pakiwari ko'y mga kumikislot-kislot na nilalang sa ulo ko.

Bumigay ata yung isang parlorista nang makita ang finished product, akala nya si Piolo Pascual ang dumaan sa harap nya. Magkapareho lang kami ng suot na polo, lola. Yung sinuot nya sa isang magazine. Kulang lang ako ng nunal sa sentido. He he.

Sayang, sana nagpalitrato ako noon. Panandalian lang ang pagka-Piolo Pascual ko. Kinabukasan si Jericho Rosales na ako in terms of the hair. Ano ba yan, nagiging kamukha ko na ang The Hunks! Please lang wag na tayong umabot pa kay Carlos Agassi.

Nagbago ang pananaw ko sa buhok ko nang i-announce sa aming kumpanya nito lamang na "business outlook still remains uncertain" na ang ibig sabihin ay wala kaming umento sa sahod. Kailangan ko ng isang cost-effective na solusyon sa korona ko, paiksian ko, sa tulong ng eksperto kong hairdresser (oh ha, nalagpasan ko na ang parlor-o-phobia ko) pero hindi yung parang may idinikit na carpet grass sa ulo.

At heto ako ngayon. Bumigay na naman yung parlorista. Muntik mahulog ang hawak nyang blower. Anlagkit ng titig. Humirit naman yung isa ng "ang cute mo, bagay sa iyo...kung ililibre mo ako sa Jollibee." Patay, sa pagnanais kong maging hearthrob, naging gay magnet pa ako ngayon.

Walang nakakilala sa akin nang pumasok ako sa opisina, may nagulat, napasigaw, nagpalakpakan, tumalun-talon, pero madali silang natauhan sa gitna ng mga ooh at aah. May mga nanghinayang, may mga pumuri. Hahanap-hanapin na raw nila si Julio Jose. At sa lahat ng tinanungan ko ay nagustuhan ko ang sagot ng isang bading na manager kung bagay sa akin ang bago kong buhok, tinabas ang mga anak ni Valentina: "mas malinis kang tingnan ngayon, mas gumwapo ka. Ganyan na lang ha?" Ibig sabihin, mahaba man o maiksi, kulot man o diretso, gwapo pa rin ang tingin nya sa akin, nag-iiba lang ng degree.

Ngayon, pakiramdam kong isa na nga akong full-fledged gay magnet. Positive ba yun o negative?

Paninindigan ko na ang maigsing buhok, at habang wala pang ligtas na paraan ng pag-unat, hintay muna ako, mga kapatid. Pro-kulot pa rin. Salamat sa Diyos at dumarami ang lahi namin sa showbiz at sa mga commercials. Sabi nila nakaka-cancer daw ang rebonding, bukod sa libong piso pa ang inaabot. At syempre, panibagong panlalait na naman dahil kulang na lang ay may tangkay ang ulo mo at pwede ka nang ipangwalis.

Hay, mga tao talaga. Hindi nawawalan ng mapapansin.

Skythologies: What's the story, Dr. Zombie?

Tuesday, May 24, 2005 by sky

Dr. ZombieBefore you conclude that Dr. Zombie (some creativity on the name, huh) is a cross-dressing man-machine and Nutribun-topped hybrid, there really are scientific bases on why his costume is designed as such. Except of course, why he had to wear his wife's nightgown which still puzzles me.

The combination of man and machine, pardon the archaic alliteration, has been deemed the penultimate persona in science fiction. Metal is masculine, take it from the Terminator franchise and bachelor houses. And it's not happening in the make-believe or on celluloid--I just need to take a look at my octogenarian aunt, her limp corrected by a titanium implant on her hip joint. Biomaterials.

The official definitions of a biomaterial are:

  • It is a nonviable material used in a medical device, intended to interact with biological systems.
  • It is used to make devices to replace a part of a function of the body in a safe, reliable, economic, and physiologically acceptable manner.
  • It is any substance (other than a drug), natural or synthetic, that treats, augments, or replaces any tissue, organ, and body function.
Biomaterials are not a 20th-century invention or pseudoscience fiction. They have been with us over the ages. Gold has been used as tooth replacement for over two millenia by the Chinese, Aztecs and our Benguet nations up north. Glass is employed as an eye replacement, albeit for cosmetic purposes. Extensive research in artificial eyes have been undergone by the Materials Science Division of the Industrial Technology Development Institute in Taguig City and they have been successful in trials on stray cats. Breast implants and nose jobs at Belo Medical are also biomaterials (take note of the word "augment" in the definition above). And of course, my bionic auntie.

Going back to Dr. Zombie, let us trace his origin, speculatively, since there is no online material available to dissect him. Let's say Dr. Zombie has a PhD in biomaterials and biomechanical engineering from a university in the United States, where biomaterials is a lucrative, $100B business, increasing at a rate of 5-7% per year. He is a major stockholder of such a company, enabling him to follow his inventive quirks.

What made him go back to the Philippines is the Balik-Scientist Program of the Department of Science and Technology, a noble cause. He wanted every Filipino to own one of his inventions which is an obvious ripoff of Green Goblin's hovercraft. In fairness to him this could have freed us from petroleum dependence (to be discussed in a later analysis on Darna).

When Dr. Zombie diluted Sulfura with a firehose in a previous episode, she took this personally and hurled an acid bomb at the doctor. His left arm was burned, and probably the left side of his face, critically injuring his eye, peeling his left eyelid. So that explains the amber ball on his left eye and the tubes around his head--the amber ball protects his left eye like a normal eyelid, and the tubes flush his eye with artificial tears to protect it from drying up, exactly how our lachrymal glands perform, and why we blink unconsciously.

Mason Verger, one of the characters in Thomas Harris' Hannibal, also had a similar contraption when he was coaxed by Dr. Hannibal to peel his face using a shard of glass in flagrante delicto. Fatally kinky.The source of Dr. Zombie's artificial tears could be the redirection of one of his tear ducts through the tube, or a reservoir located somewhere (his Nutribun helmet probably) that recycles said tears over and over.

For his arms which suffered third-degree burns, he must have used artificial skin like Integra, a synthetic skin made from cow collagen and shark cartilage carbohydrate covered with a thin sheet of silicone. The silicone membrane is removed once blood vessels grow and resume blood flow as early as 14 days, and a graft from the patient's own skin replaces the membrane. Skin regeneration is achieved after 35 days. All this time Dr. Zombie could have stayed in the sterile environment of his laboratory or the hospital, but his misplaced vengeance for Darna makes his EQ lower by the day. He wears gloves to protect the sensitive and still-growing skin.

What is inside his helmet, aside from his artificial tear generator and a vestigial, blinking LED? I don't know, but it adds to the masculine aura of Dr. Zombie like his android predecessors. His palanggana top is probably ceramic, because if it's metal and he's in a tropical country with urban temperatures rising to 38 C, expect him to be dangerously hotheaded most of the time.

His helmet could have been more powerful, learning and relearning Darna's (and Sulfura's) moves. That LED must have a purpose. The amber sphere more than meets the eye.

Next on Skythologies: Is my Call Center Agent human?

Buddy Ratner, "An Introduction to Biomaterials"
Seattle Post-Intelligence, "Artificial skin offers genuine hope"
Integra LifeSciences
Image sourced from GMA TV's Darna homepage.

An aside on last night's ep: Darna was able to kill the zombies by uprooting a lamp post and shocking the undead. Electricity had to start and go somewhere, like flowing water. It has to have a source and a drain. Lightning for example, is not open ended. It starts in the upper atmosphere and drains into a lightning rod, a person or a tree. I assume that the lamp post she had has very long, stress proof wires to sustain the current that she imparts to the zombies. Beats me. She could have whacked the pole instead.

Life of Sky

Friday, May 20, 2005 by sky

Life of Pi by Yann MartelWhat is it with the dry season and books?

I've been a voracious reader these past two months, first, Jack Kerouac's "On the Road" a hitchhiker's bible to satiate my botched Galera trip alone (and I mean by my lonesome, no wife or kid attached); and Yann Martel's "Life of Pi" which I read halfway through while being stranded at the Ayala Terminal for two hours after the thunderstorm last Tuesday, consummating it at 2AM today. Then there was the printout of Jeffrey Ford's "The Empire of Ice Cream", a short story about a strange case of synaesthesia, which I started at the Cabuyao exit and finished by dusk at Magallanes. And by tonight I am planning to snag Haruki Murakami's "Norwegian Wood", but it seems that fate is playing up my climax with Jhumpa Lahiri's "The Interpreter of Maladies" because I've searched high and low and not a copy is in sight.

My record though, was Michael Crichton's "Jurassic Park" which took me a single night after a summer class. Then there was Harper Lee's "To Kill A Mockingbird" which is a record-holder on its own too. I read the book four times in three summers, and that was after the required high school reading, so make it five.

There were also notable post-read headaches, real headaches that made the devil want to get out of my eyes: Ben Okri's "The Famished Road" and Umberto Eco's "Foucault's Pendulum." I hardly touched Eco's "The Name of the Rose", Anne Rice's "Interview with a Vampire" and Stephen Hawkings' "A Brief History of Time". Seeing the first two on film lessened my appetite, or it may have transferred to the termites back in our family house in Fairview. They barely ate Okri, though.

I perused Gabriel Garcia Marquez' "One Hundred Years of Solitude", Isabel Allende's "The House of the Spirits", F. Sionil Jose's "Viajero", Bienvenido Santos' "The Man Who (Thought He) Looked Like Robert Taylor" and Edilberto Tiempo's "More Than Conquerors" in bed, taking occasional breaks for pee and food. There must be a commonality somewhere between colonial legacy and reading in bed.

Only Franz Kafka's "The Metamorphosis and Other Stories" made me get up for fear of becoming a bedridden insect.

Then there were Dana's Manual of Mineralogy, R. Schuhmann's "Metallurgical Engineering", Van Vlack's "Elements of Materials Science and Engineering" and Robert Walpole's "Probability and Statistics for Engineers and Scientists" which I turned from cover to cover like novels for the August board exams of 1998. It's like reading a survival manual for the nth time because there is no Powerbooks in the middle of the Pacific.

There were also the cool ones, and by cool I mean the opposite of warmth. Not "kewl" cool, but cool cool like sipping sinigang sa kamias broth on a hot afternoon by the irrigation canal of our rice paddies, blending my body temperature to that of the surrounding mountains, and purging my internal heat in obedience to the laws of thermodynamics. There was Alan Brown's "Audrey Hepburn's Neck", Tracy Chevalier's "Girl with a Pearl Earring" and Arundhati Roy's "The God of Small Things." And Xaviera Hollander's "The Happy Hooker" too which literally kept me in water to hide a lustfully evil evidence.

There really must be a correlation between hot weather and my bibliophilic appetite. TV and DVD's are not a viable option, as heat is generated and walking to the player alone is a chore. And besides, my eldest son has claimed his part of the territory including the TV for his daily dose of Elmo and Teletubbies. He's the Richard Parker to my Pi Patel in our lifeboat on the foot of Tagaytay. In my biological program on these balmy days, energy dissipates quickly that moving an inch will waste my valuable calories away.

There is always the eternal itch to wander into parallel universes without sweating an ocean in me, and with reading, not a shot in the mercury could stand in my way.

Fan mail

Thursday, May 19, 2005 by sky

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

I'll be honest. During those days when the word "mail" didn't have the letter "e" and a dash prefixed to it, and when a trip to the post office was a ritual, I sent a letter to Michael Jackson. Generic fan stuff, and I never considered the competition nor the fact that it has a high probability to go straight into the bin. But in my young mind long before he was white, I hoped that he would answer back.

So in order to fill in what was left of my motivation, my cousin had this bright idea to tag me to Gary Valenciano's concert somewhere in Cubao. We rode a maroon JD bus that had lawanit windows which you need to pull upwards if you want to be shielded from the sun or the rain. We started from Pasay Rotonda and landed in Araneta, the big dome very distinct. There was no Farmers' Plaza then. I puked on my shirt because I never travelled great distances--this was EDSA before the MRT and Bonamine, and subsequent trips to Quezon City were punctuated with acrid half-digested rice or pandesal. I programmed myself this way until early high school. Somebody said Cubao is a state of mind. And so is vomitus. I'm contented with QUAD, the forerunner of today's Glorietta, thank you. Megamall and Galleria were grasslands.

My cousin had to buy me a Shazam shirt at Fairmart, the department store near Aurora Boulevard which still stands to this day. My memories of the actual concert were blurred--Gary was on a stage a foot high and it was a mall tour. Perhaps it was Ali Mall, for after the performance and everybody were ogling around him, my cousin, not prepared for this part, hurriedly bought a Robby Rabbit bookmark at Gift Gate for Gary to autograph. She failed though, and I asked her from a distance what she got.

She was able to plant a buss. She kissed Gary Valenciano long before Angeli Pangilinan came into Pure Energy's life.

She ought to put it in her resume.


Here are the long-overdue answers to the 80's trivia that I lately posted. Corrections are welcome. Don't we all have a sense of amnesia for our local history--and this is where I inject the social relevance of it all.

Ano ang kinamatay ni Joel Alano? Ni Dindo Fernando? sakit sa puso

Ano ang background music ng Lovingly Yours? Ballade Pour Adeline

Sino si Rene Mariano? Isang manghuhula Ano ang title ng horror film na related sa kanyang buhay? Hiwaga sa Balete Drive

Pinagbidahan naman ito ni Jay Ilagan at Tet Antiquera. Sitak ni Jack

Saan nakatira sina Gloria Romero at ang mga boys ng Palibhasa Lalake? Tayuman Saan sila namamalengke? Pritil

Sino ang female host ng Kalatog Pinggan? Malou Maglutac

Sino ang tatay ng Escalera brothers? Rod Navarro

Ano ang pangalan ng yaya ni Flor de Luna? Soling

Si Ces Quesada ay unang lumabas sa anong gag show? Sic o'Clock News Saan sya nagturo ng Theater Arts? UP Diliman

Ang Rico Mambo ay tinugtog at sinayaw sa anong pelikula ni Manilyn Reynes? Family Tree

Ano ang original title ng pelikula ni Tina Paner na Tamis ng Unang Halik? Pepay Paypay

Sino ang mahilig magsabi ng "OK Ngarud"? Rod Navarro or Joe Quirino

Anong araw sa That’s si Brylle Mondejar at Lester Samonte? Tuesday

Sino ang mga batang yagit? Jocelyn, Tonton at Elisa

Sino ang original members ng That’s? Lea Salonga, Lotlot de Leon, Francis Magalona, Dranreb Belleza Sino ang unang new member? Manilyn Reynes

Sino ang Liberty Boys? Lito Pimentel, Edgar Mande

Ano ang kinakanta kapag patapos na ang isang episode ng That's Entertainment? Let There Be Peace on Earth

Skythologies: Neutralizing Sulfura Part 3

Tuesday, May 17, 2005 by sky

The Science of Muria

First question which may pop into everyone's mind would be how can we neutralize Sulfura, assuming she is a walking sulfuric acid jelly? Spraying her with water would weaken her by dilution, the same way that fruit juice tastes flatter the more we add water to it. To neutralize Sulfura is to take away her acidity. In chemistry, this is achieved by adding an alkaline substance (like soaps and detergent) to an acid to produce water and another substance like salts (in our case, Glauber's salt which is sodium sulfate; table salt is sodium chloride or NaCl).

This is how we will neutralize Sulfura (don't bother with the numbers, look into my eyes):

H2SO4 + 2NaOH ---> Na2SO4 + 2H2O.
Image hosted by Photobucket.com
The graphic representation is not accurate though. We need more than one bottle of detergent. If we use caustic soda (pure sodium hydroxide, NaOH), we need twice as much as Sulfura's body mass. A truckload of Joy would be enough to reduce her to Glauber's salt (sodium sulfate) and water. Easy.

Muria's birthing on the other hand would be a three-step process. As been mentioned before, her mother Galena was thrown into a lead smelter in Marilao by Darna's ancestor during a grudge match. This is what happens inside a lead smelter (again, don't bother with the numbers):
2PbS + 3O2--->2PbO + 2SO2.

This metallurgical process is called roasting, much like making lechon but more dangerous, since we are injecting pure oxygen gas at a high temperature, rather than charcoal, to the lead sulfide ore to produce lead oxide (to be treated further to produce pure lead, Pb) and sulfur dioxide gas. Think of how intense the fire would be, our lechon would be reduced to tasteless ash.

Muria won't come into the picture yet. The stream of high-temperature oxygen gas is continuous, and sulfur dioxide becomes sulfur trioxide (look into my eyes, baby):
2SO2 + O2 ---> 2SO3.

Sulfur trioxide is critical in the production of acid rain, which is how we will form Muria in the month of August when rainwater is highest (there you go):
SO3 + H2O ---> H2SO4.

Muria, our acid girl is born. Her hydrogen sulfide breath to generate acid rain works in the same way as the first equation where Galena was thrown into the lead smelter. Just replace the "2PbS" with "H2S" and the "2PbO" with "2H2O."

Muria's birthing process would be like this: Galena is transformed into molten lead oxide when she exits the smelter's furnace. Still harmful due to the inherent nature of lead, and while she is solidifying, the stormy August sky created acid rain from the gases escaping from the furnace. This acid leached into a nearby piggery and coalesced with organic matter which Galena fashioned into a gelatinous human being, her daughter Muria.

Muria exhaled hydrogen sulfide and on her first cry, she smothered Galena to death. And that is how Muria's bitterness began.

N.B. Hydrogen sulfide is produced normally in human beings to regulate body temperature and metabolic activity. This compound gives utot its characteristic smell, and so do gas coming from piggeries and natural gas sources like Malampaya. High concentrations of hydrogen sulfide are deadly.

Next on Skythologies: What's the story, Dr. Zombie? Or, is your call center agent human?

Images are copyright of their respective owners.

Siege and a segue

Monday, May 16, 2005 by sky

I'm getting drowsy with this cold tablet that I took this morning, and standing up looks like a gargantuan feat. The chemical equations for the Science of Muria (aka Neutralizing Sulfura Part 3) are still unmade due to my condition, but this one question posted by Siege (which poses like a segue to Part 3 too) kept my neurons jogging:

Carmina's Sulfura was horribly disfigured by Prospera in an episode where the latter poured a bottle of commercially available muriatic acid in Sulfura's bathwater while she was still in it. Question: Didn't the soap in the water neutralize the acid? Plus the water pa. How dangerous ba ang commercially available muriatic acid?
Has Prospera become so control-freakish that she wanted to clean her daughter's rival's bathtub? Essentially that is what Prospera did. 1 part of commercially-available muriatic acid is usually diluted with 10 parts water to effectively clean bathroom tiles and fixtures, for example, 10 tabo of water to 1 tabo of muriatic acid. To kill a person--in a bathtub with soapy water--with muriatic acid she could have opted to coax Sulfura into drinking the acid instead. Or to be stylish about it, prepare some gelatin cubes made of muriatic acid and serve it on a martini glass. But it looks like Prospera is intent more on disfiguring Sulfura than killing her.

I haven't seen Prospera's crime on TV, but if she used 500 mL of the acid (usually the largest size available in groceries) on a standard bathtub, she has successfully wiped out its bacteria population. Add the fact that soapy water, which contains sodium hydroxide would quell the acid's capacities, albeit in limited amounts. Sulfura wouldn't be horribly disfigured, unless Prospera poured it directly on her submerged body to create pockets of concentrated acid. Sulfura would end up with a terrible itch and some scars, though. For a supermodel, that's tantamount to murder.

How dangerous is muriatic acid, assuming you are in your right mind not to drink it or lather it on your skin in the first place? Concentrated acid when poured, in say the bathroom floor, produces acid mists. Its vapors could irritate the eyes and the respiratory system if you accidentally inhaled it, so it's safer to dilute it in water.

Tip: If you've been bitten by an ant, rub it with wet soap. Ants inject formic acid into your skin and soap would lessen the irritation.

Surviving the Warrior

by sky

Sneezing on my phone won't infect it with my cold virus, which downed me over the weekend after we strolled along DKNY Manila*. But having Bluetooth open to the whole wide world since time immemorial is like a "karinderyang bukas sa lahat ng gustong kumain", like my N3650 which caught the CommWarrior virus last April in Paseo de Santa Rosa.

I shrugged it off as one of those indecent messages I get over the ether via Notes, but when it started consuming battery life and attempting to send MMS messages promising free sex to everybody in my address book every now and then, I knew that a virus--a worm to be exact, is in the works. Welcome the new age of phone viruses.

Unlike previous phone viruses such as Cabir which depends on Bluetooth (and therefore, proximity as biological viruses do) to infect, CommWarrior leafs through my address book and spreads itself through MMS, so infecting the gadget-crazy Singaporean contact and the Canadian OFW cousin is not impossible.

Released "into the wild" last March and "officially" on Philippine soil two weeks ago as seen on GMA's 24 Oras, CommWarrior creates infected MMS messages which look like legitimate updates from Symbian, and even pornographic messages every 30 minutes and also passes itself via Bluetooth to nearby phones, consuming a chunk of battery life and ramping up the phone bills, making networks happier than ever. Who wouldn't want to open porn in the privacy of a cellphone right?

It's like the e-mail worms we used to receive but on the mobile phone scale. F-secure, an anti-virus firm from Finland, assumes CommWarrior to be of Russian origin because it contains text that says "OTMOP03KAM HET!", that roughly translates to "No to braindeads".

No, this won't affect your classic Nokia3210, but Nokia phones with Symbian Series 60 operating systems such as N3650, N3660 and N-Gage. Trendmicro offers free pro-active utilities which you can download on your PC and transfer to your phone via infrared and, er, Bluetooth dongles. And if your phone is infected, it has a .sis file which does not suck on memory and a panic-free procedure if you have a file manager installed. Yes, you can manually remove the files that the virus placed.

A click of prevention is better than a download of cure, so turn on your Bluetooth only when necessary--step out of the sedentary lifestyle and explore alternative means to search for intelligent life on this planet.

I'm sure 1 out of 500 is a pretty good yield.

*DKNY--Divisoria Kanto ng Ylaya.
N.B. My common cold, however, had to take its course, like teenage love. Must be the weather.

Skythologies: Neutralizing Sulfura Part 2

Friday, May 13, 2005 by sky

Muria's Resumé

N.B. Since our casting call was limited and immediate and the model of our choice refused for personal reasons, Muria's visualization will be released at a later date. Thank you.

Muria can have two genealogies:

Natural--she formed from the direct solidification of hydrogen sulfide gas from the mouths of a volcano in Hawaii and was raised by a vulcanologist of Ilocano ancestry, and she came to the Philippines after news of her being one of the finalists of American Idol hit local shores. Yes, ripoff of that Trias girl. Too cheesy, but she can follow the modelling storyboard created for Sulfura from there. Or,

Artificial--formed when her mother, Galena (the lead sulfide mineral) was thrown by Darna's extraterrestrial ancestor, in perhaps a grudge match, into a lead smelter somewhere in Marilao (the actual car battery recycling plant Philippine Recyclers Inc.) during the month of August, when typhoons are at an all time high. The combination of sulfur dioxide gas (byproduct of galena and hydrogen within the smelter chamber) and rainwater produced acid rain, and Galena mythically gave birth to Muria. Her breath smells like rotten eggs, which is the actual smell of hydrogen sulfide (natural gas formed from the decay of organic matter).

She has the power to invoke the clouds like X-men's Storm and in her fits, blows into rainwater to create acid rain. Her breath stank enough that she accidentally killed Galena just by opening her mouth, causing undue guilt and bitterness that gave her the apocalyptic flair for destruction. She has a soft, searching heart though, in reverence to the mother she never knew (for telenovelic purposes).

Her nemesis will be Agent E341 (a derivative of calcium phosphate, which consumes sulfuric acid to make fertilizer), a part-time farmer and Darna ally based in Leyte, where the actual PhilPhos Fertilizer plant is located. Agent E341 is also the guardian of the Mines of Vanadia (vanadium pentoxide, a catalyst that hastens the production of sulfuric acid) which Muria covets to increase her power.

Her weakness, her kryptonite, will be bauxite, a mineral composed primarily of aluminum hydroxide, found abundantly in the jungles of Indonesia. Her costume is distinct, as she wears an industrial face mask with smart-adjustable holes to vary the intensity of her breath.

And as Edna Mode would insist, "No capes."


Klein and Hurlbut, Dana's Manual of Mineralogy
Notes, Philippine Associated Smelting and Refining Corp.
Hazardous Waste Management, Philippine Recyclers, Inc.

UPDATE: I'll add a Part 3 - The Science of Muria, to explain the principles behind in the best way that I can. Hope this will help you out, folks.

Skythologies: Neutralizing Sulfura Part 1

Thursday, May 12, 2005 by sky


Very few online friends know that I was a graduate of metallurgical engineering, and that I am a year shy from my master of science degree in materials science and engineering. Di halata no?This morning I had an epiphany. I need to stand by The White Papers in its truest sense. In real life I've made technical white papers for internal (and company confidential) purposes that had to be extensively reviewed by a change control board. Now that I'm embarking on white papers with a different purpose, the change control board comprises you, engineer or no engineer. But I'm not pressured, and I hope this will not be my funeral yet.

SulfuraNeutralizing Sulfura

Sulfura, as we all know, is one of the villains in the modern TV version of Darna. She can unleash fire and perhaps, acid bombs that can lend an ugly scar on a building's facade in Ortigas CBD, until she was temporarily neutralized by ice in Megamall's skating rink.

I previously e-mailed Ederic in passing about technical inaccuracies in Darna that I am uncomfortable with, like electrocuting snakes in shallow, flowing water. But Sulfura, from a metallurgical point of view is an interesting case.

It is true that she can be weakened by water as Christopher de Leon's character did with a firehose, or even water in the form of ice. The latter however is slower as the rate of chemical changes, by nature, increases as temperature increases.

There is one clever idea that the writers failed to notice. They should have called Michael V and his dance troupe to change Sulfura to harmless water. Detergent. Plain old soap. Or better yet, concentrated caustic soda (a soap ingredient). Alkaline versus acidic. It has the hydroxide ion that can react with Sulfura's hydrogens to reduce her to water and beneficial salts such as sodium sulfate (Glauber's salt), a mild laxative that can free us the inanities we absorb from primetime TV.

That is based on the assumption that Sulfura is walking acid. Water is used to dilute her, but she is still acid. Given her, uhm, volcanic costume she might as well stand for solid sulfur in allusion to sulfur deposits at the mouth of volcanoes. In mineralogical terms sulfur has a poor cleavage, so casting Carmina Villaroel may have been a good choice. Nice pun he he.

If I were to create a villain similar to Sulfura I'd call her Muria, or Muriatica, as the commercial muriatic acid (which is actually hydrochloric acid, but I'm invoking my creative license here) because plain sulfur has, ugh, more beneficial uses to mankind than the villain she's supposed to be. Boring.

Next on Skythologies: Neutralizing Sulfura Part 2 - Muria's genealogy, her powers and weaknesses and suggested costume design. If only I could draw.

Image sourced from GMA TV's Darna homepage.

Louis Leithold, 80

by sky

Louis Leithold, 80It seems that angels will be brushing up on Riemann's Sum and l'Hôpital's Theorem by the time he gets there.

Louis Leithold, 80, author of the biblical The Calculus 7 (formerly known as the thick yellow The Calculus with Analytic Geometry--TCWAG during my college freshman days) passed away last April 29, succumbing to heart and pulmonary diseases and old age.

Like all college math professors I knew who have been theatrical at least once in their lives (one of my instructors, Vince Cruz starred in the short film "The Good Kisser of Manila", and was an SMB endorser), Leithold introduced one of the great debates in calculus complete with props, the works:

"...whether the system was invented by 18th-century English theorist Sir Isaac Newton or German mathematician Gottfried Wilhelm Leibnitz — Leithold relied on cookies. He would bring in two plates of cookies, Fig Newtons on one and a brand called Leibnitz on the other. Then he would invite students to take their pick."
TCWAG and TC7 have been staples in the mathematics department of UP Diliman, and three courses on mathematical analysis literally split the book. Once our arms developed muscles while carrying TCWAG and we were through with it, we were ready to face the rigors of physical laws and computer science conjectures and the behavior of a heartbeat over time. Horny Cheesy college boy that I was.

For the full article on Leithold, go here. Image courtesy of LA Times.

Death by packaging

Tuesday, May 10, 2005 by sky

Of all products that modern society has to offer, why is it common for breads and cookies to be packaged in such a way that by the time you unpacked the edible stuff, you have peeled miles of adhesive tape enough to circle to the moon and back?

I can't think of any other theory, perhaps covering the ensaymada in cellophane, then mummifying it with scotch tape would discourage the growth of fungus, but that wouldn't stop the natural process of nonspontaneous generation. Fungi, bacteria and other microscopic flora will logarithmically fluorish as long as oxygen (or an alternative atmosphere such as sulfur) is present at the right temperature, which is true even when protected with microporous materials as cellophane. Scotch tape or no scotch tape. Better have it vacuum-packed, but ensaymada without air is like the Church without a Pope.

I'm ruminating this fact while waiting and praying that the mamon beside me will unpack out of its own volition. I'm getting hungry by the minute but that won't increase bread sales from a marketing pov.

Had the First Aid industry followed this route we would have wiped out half of the world's population in no time.

Mr. Komiks Writer, can I make a request?

by sky

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

I admit that I am a packrat, and while wading this weekend through boxes of memorabilia looking for "songhits" that I can source out pop 80's lyrics to post again (I still haven't seen a decent Rico Mambo tab), I came upon Platinum Songhits, this one dated 1987. We all knew for a fact that komiks ruled the afternoons after Heredera or Annaluna, especially in provinces where RPN9 was the only channel, and during long brownout spells when they also served as cooling devices.

Come to think of it, Filipinos always have a hand on innovation. Where else in the world can you request a song, submit your life story and see it go live in the pages of a song book? I know that Platinum is not the only one who exploited this avenue. I remember "Lovesongs" which combined the quirks of komiks and songhits in full, fusing the Filipinos' passion for theatrics and music.

Sa'n ka pa?

I wasn't able to get the name of the komiks/songhits (komhits? songmiks?) illustrator because it's not in the byline, but the name Cal Sobrepeña is stuck at the back of my head.

Visit the Philippine Comics Art Museum here, maintained by Gerry Alanguilan.

You better love lovin' and you better behave

Monday, May 09, 2005 by sky

"Ganun? Eh di self-serving pa rin yun?" Or something to that effect, as Sassy Lawyer asked me how Warm Bodies: Project 2 was doing and how we relaxed the rules to gain more entries. She proceeded to entertain the next online acquaintance at the First Bloggers' Summit. When you're face to face with a star you can't help but stare. Starstruck is true and palpable. I hope I was not putting words into her mouth like an annoying heckler, though.

"But I have a board of editors that will filter everything." My voice was fading into oblivion. Moments and picture shoots later I handed her my card and vowed to help her with the name associated to it.

Content, content, content. That was the meat of her presentation:

What is “good” content? May universal standard ba yan? I don’t think there is. So whose definition of “good” content should we follow? Our definition or other people’s. Again, we go back to our personal motivations for blogging. Self-satisfaction or validation? If you’re blogging because you believe in yourself and the stuff you want to publish, set your own standards. If you blog to please others, well, that’s your funeral.*
I couldn't agree more. So there is always the eternal pressure of coming up with good blog material that I end up not posting anything for weeks on end, until I had to reconcile myself and say this mantra over and over:
"Work like you don't need the money.
Love like you've never been hurt.
Dance like nobody's watching.
Sing like nobody's listening.
Live like it's Heaven on Earth.
Do the right thing no matter what."

And blog like nobody's reading.
One epiphany that I had during the summit is to encourage traffic going to my site. Come to think of it, Google searches of "naked pictures of Carlo Maceda" can be good hits too if the perv has been enlightened and wanted to come back for, uhm, content. And with the relative success of Warm Bodies: The Kris Aquino Complex, I don't think hiding would be a good idea anymore. Not that I am promoting linksluttery. My cause is to prove that literary genius exists inside ordinary bloggers with Warm Bodies, and anonymity should be out of the equation.

Good content speaks for itself, even if it is about suman latik. Thanks, Marlon for the isaw treat.

*Harbatized verbatim from Sassy Lawyer's entry.

Update: Somebody just told me that I was seen on Unang Hirit's coverage. Oh my. Jacta alea est!

Sky flakes

by sky

Let other bloggers blog about the iBlog summit. I'll talk about it later. Here's something to add to my bragging rights list (a.k.a. pampahaba ng hair. Ha ha I'm learning). Shout out to McVie for an innovative take on the blogging experience, and I was lucky enough to be the first feature in his talk show format. You can check out the whole transcript here, and these are some highlights:

On shit and life in general:

Ang tae, kahit lasang litson pa yan, tae pa rin.
On choosing Madam Auring over Tiya Pusit:
I think she knows how to give Archie good head, the reason why the boy is staying. Vagina is a vagina is a vagina.
On people asking why was I interviewed:
Oo nga, why interview me? (pa-humble effect) I have no idea.

The more you ignore me, the closer I get

Friday, May 06, 2005 by sky

The editorial team of Warm Bodies: Project 2 have agreed to lift the blogger-get-blogger rule. That means, you can submit your own entries with the theme "Change." Other rules still apply where necessary (nationality, brevity, submission format, etc.) .

Post URL's are still mandatory, and since there is no nominator anymore, just send us a short description of yourself by answering this question:

Ano ang magiging pamagat ng afternoon variety show na gusto mong i-host at bakit?

We're also extending the deadline to 21 May 2005 to accomodate these changes. Send your entries to thekrisaquinocomplexATgmailDOTcom, and stay updated by joining the Warm Bodies yahoogroup: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/warmbodies.

The danger of riding a bus at night

by sky

Heard this advert on the radio last night:

Boy: Miss, bakante ba dito sa tabi mo?
Girl: May nakaupo ba?
Boy: Wala
Girl: Kung walang nakaupo, bakante. Doon sa harap, bakante. Sa likod, bakante. Andaming upuang bakante!
Boy: Eh Miss, ang puso mo bakante?


*bangs head on bus window*

Adapt or Die

Tuesday, May 03, 2005 by sky

Another to add in a list of "...or Die" arguments. My TRIZ trainer had "Innovate or Die" on his e-mail signature. What's next? Blog or Die. Awr.

But on a clear Labor Day holiday, EBTG's Adapt or Die: Ten Years of Remixes got me restless, I had to go to Tower Records' Basement to listen to it on my own. It started off with "Missing", the seminal track in the Amplified Heart LP signaling something that wants "to get out" of the melancholia that the duo is boxed into since their "When All's Well" days. It snowballed track after track, it felt like flirting at the first wink and wanting a quickie in an office stairwell afterwards. Not a wet spot in my boxers though. Reminiscent of warehouse rave parties of the 90's but with the intimacy of house mixes. "Corcovado" never sounded so ethereal. And I am mulling like a pseudo-music critic.

I Ages ago I bought a similar dance LP, The Cure's Mixed Up on tape (tape? what's a tape?). I think I scratched the "In-Between Days" track because of constant rewinding (you mean it's not a CD?). Not quite unlike Adapt or Die where I want to shoot fists in the air like a coño boy in Libis everytime.


Or die.


Punch me, I'll bleed.


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