Thursday, March 31, 2005

Ahhh the irony of it all...

And you?

"Me too. Im not really looking for a relationship right now. I just miss the..."

Youll always have [blank].

"I know. We do everything together except sleep together. We're so bagay."

Did you tell him?

"Yes. I told him we'd be perfect for each other."

And he said...?

"He said, 'Too bad you dont have a dick.'"

Wala bang 'Countries I Wished I'd Visited' Map?

create your own visited country map

My passport says Ive been to Malaysia, but that doesnt count because I dont remember going there. Those expats in Bangkok really know how to party. Nyaahahahahaa!!

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

That's the flap, Jack

For fluffier pancakes, follow the package directions but separate the eggwhites from the yolk. Beat the eggwhites until really, really frothy... until they form curly, white peaks when you lift your fork or whisk, or egg beater from the bowl youve been beating the eggwhites in. Then fold the eggwhites in with the rest of the batter. I said fold. Make sure you incorporate as much air into the batter as you can.

Oh, and the package directions in the brand I bought (White King) calls for only one egg for every 250 grams of the pancake mix. Use 2 eggs instead.

When cooking the pancakes, dont fuss too much with the batter. Leave it be. You may have to cook up a test pancake first to make sure your pan is hot enough. Remember you need to keep the air in. Flip as bubbles form on the batter. There shouldnt be any holes in the bottom of the pancake (the side you cooked last).

Use butter for your pancakes. If you plan to use margarine, you shouldnt even be reading this. That means you dont really care if your pancakes are flat, burnt, and hard as metal frisbees. Syrup to your heart's content.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

The role of the Mythos in Truth

... Truth and Myth part 2

The word 'myth' has been demoted. Now, it's used to label a story or a theory as untrue. "That's a myth" is now an acceptable substitute for "That is utter and complete hogwash." Once, myths were used to express a profound truth that can't be expressed any other way. Once, myths were used to express meaning.

The mythos is probably closer to the truth than any scientific theory we can ever think of. All science does is look for facts--the facts on the surface, the facts that can be measured, verified, tested, and democratized so that theyre available to everybody. Truth is different. It's not available to everybody. It's only available to the few. It's only available for those who have 'eyes to see and ears to hear.' It's only available to those with the perception adequate to the thing being studied.

Professor Richard Taylor writes in his article Religion and Truth (Issue 47 of Philosphy Now) about the story of Sisyphus, whom the gods condemned to move a rock to the top of a hill, whereupon it would roll back down. Sisyphus was doomed to move that rock up the hill through eternity:

Thinkers for generations have sensed in this myth a meaning, possibly a profound truth only dimly seen. Perhaps it is the image of an indominatable will. Or of the tenacity of the human spirit in the face of endless failure. Or it could be an image of justice. It has also been thought to symbolize the meaninglessness of human existence. In any case, what gives the story depth and importance is that it is thought to contain a truth behind the banality of the imagery.

Now suppose a professor of classics were to insist that this story has to be historically correct. He maintains that this myth, like so many others contained in ancient texts, must be considered true as it stands and not properly subject to interpretation or any search for hidden meanings. He thinks that he must take this position in order to uphold the worth and dignity of the classics and their venerable authors. Otherwise, he thinks, people will want to dismiss mythology as a mere collection of fairy tales, unworthy of serious consideration.

Concerning such a misguided classicist we could say, first, that he has completely missed the point; second, that far from upholding the worth and dignity of the classics, he has trivialized them; and third, that he has made a fool of himself.

The Discovery channel has a show called Mythbusters. The show examines urban legends and scientifically examines their veracity through a series of tests designed to show whether or not the stories are scientifically plausible. If the facts in the story fail to pan out after rigorous scientific testing, then the myth is declared 'busted.'

There is another show called Urban Legends wherein they examine popular urban myths and determine if theyre factual or not but also try to determine the meaning behind them. More often than not of course, the story on the surface is not factual. But the message these urban legends wishes to convey is not the story itself, but what is behind the story. Urban myths arise from the alienation, the paranoia, the isolation one feels in living in the city.

Myths, far from being trivial stories to amuse, are bearers of profound truth, once you get beyond what it's saying on the surface. The mythos is the only way Truth can be conveyed because Truth is beyond the senses. "The Tao that can be spoken of is not the Tao." The Tao can only be conveyed through the mythos.

(Part 3 soon. I hope...)

Ideas are opiates

"I hope you won't have to compete with an idea."

I know. Believe me, Ive been there, been that. And Im not saying that to sound clever. I have been an idea. I have been an idea in someone's head as to what I should be like. But Im not an idea. Platonists at least know the difference between ideas and percepts. Some people don't.

We have to be careful. We have to make sure first that what theyre seeing is not the idea of us, perfect and unchanging, but the perceptual us, with all our faults, quirks, and idiosyncracies. We have to be sure that what they like (or dare I say, love) about us is not the idea they have in their heads of what they would like us to be, but the us with all our foibles but that can be trusted to change. For the better, inshallah.

I have been an idea. I have had to compete with the me that was an idea. And in a competition between the ideal me and the perceptual me, there's no contest. In a competition between the ideal me and the perceptual me, I throw in the towel. I like (and love) people. With all their faults. Because I trust them to change. If you love somebody and all they see is the idea of you in their head, then throwing in the towel is the smartest thing to do.

"So what are you doing now?"

Im just chillin'. Im not looking for anybody. If they come, they come. If they don't, then that's OK, too. Maybe when the kids are older.

"Youre a good man, Charlie Brown."

Yeah. In the meantime, let's go look for Tantric sex lessons.

Hey now, Hey now

Crowded House had one hit. One hit. That was in 1986. I was =co-ho-ough..COUGH= years old back then. A band, Sixpence None the Richer, took their one hit--and they are in the habit of taking songs from one-hit-wonder bands, clever strategy--and turned it into their hit such that some lyrics sites actually attribute the song to them.

Here's Dont Dream It's Over

there is freedom within there is freedom without
try to catch the deluge in a paper cup
there's a battle ahead, many battles are lost
but you never see the end of the road
while you're travelling with me
hey now hey now
don't dream it's over
hey now hey now
when the world comes in
they come they come
to build a wall between us
we know they won't win

now I'm towing my car there's a hole in the roof
my possesions are causing me suspicion but there's no proof
in the paper today tales of war and of waste
but you turn right over the TV page

now I'm walking again to the beat of a drum
and I'm counting the steps to the door of your heart
only shadows ahead barely clearing the roof
get to know the feeling of liberation and relief

hey now hey now
don't dream it's over
hey now hey now
when the world comes in
they come they come
to build a wall between us
don't ever let they win

Nice. Isnt that the way? Blame the rest of the world for building walls between us. It's easier that way. The truth is we set up those walls ourselves. Crowded House drummer Paul Hester probably was confronted with this truth and couldnt do anything about it. It would have been easier if he stayed with the illusion that the world came in and did it, but he was probably too honest with himself. He probably knew that that's all bunk.

Paul Hester hanged himself in a park in Melbourne Saturday afternoon.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Gabrielle d'Estrées and one of her Sisters by one of the Masters of the Fontainbleu school, 1595 Posted by Hello

I have no idea what this painting is trying to convey as far as allegory is concerned. Leave it to the French to try something like this. Gabrielle is Henry IV's mistress and I have to say, that based on this painting, life in the d'Estrées household is one big party. Can't look at this painting without feeling tickly.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

This isnt a quiz, Grif.. Yes, resistance is futile

I found this Numerology ek-ek page and decided to try out some of the links in it. Pythagoras would be pleased with this website. Take your name and birth date, and supposedly, their equivalent numbers would say a lot about who you are and who youre apt to become. Here are some things it said about me:

A Life Path 5 person is usually very versatile, adventurous, and progressive. With a 5 life path, you are one of those people who is always striving to find answers to the many questions that life poses. You want to be totally unrestrained, as this is the sign of freedom and independence. You abhor routine and boring work, and you are not very good at staying with everyday tasks that must be finished on time. You are, however, a good communicator, and you know how to motivate people around you, perhaps inclining you to be a teacher of some sort. A love of adventure may dominate your life. This may take the form of mental or physical manifestation, but in either case, you thrill to the chance for exploration and blazing new trails. You are apt to be multi-talented, but just as likely to suffer from some lack of direction, and there is often some confusion surrounding your ambition.

On the average, the number 5 personality is rather happy-go-lucky; living for today, and not worrying too much about tomorrow. It is important for you to mix with people of a like mind, and try to avoid those that are too serious and demanding. It is also important for you to find a job that provides thought-provoking tasks rather than routine and redundant responsibilities. You do best dealing with people, but the important thing is that you have the freedom to express yourself at all times. You have an innate ability to think through complex matters and analyze them quickly, but then be off to something new.

In the most negative application or use of the 5 energies, you could become very irresponsible in tasks and decisions concerning your home and business life. The total pursuit of sensation and adventure can result in your becoming self-indulgent and totally unaware of the feelings of those around you. In the worse case situations negative 5's are very undependable and self-serving.

O-o-oookay. There's more:
An Expression of 3 produces a quest for destiny with words along a variety of lines that may include writing, speaking, singing, acting or teaching; our entertainers, writers, litigators, teachers, salesmen, and composers. You also have the destiny to sell yourself or sell just about any product that comes along. You are imaginative in your presentation, and you may have creative talents in the arts, although these are more likely to be latent. You are an optimistic person that seems ever enthusiastic about life and living. You are friendly, loving and social, and people like you because you are charming and such a good conversationalist. Your ability to communicate may often inspire others. It is your role in life to inspire and motivate; to raise the spirits of those around you.

The negative side of number 3 Expression is superficiality. You may tend to scatter your forces and simply be too easygoing. It is advisable for the negative 3 to avoid dwelling on trivial matters, especially gossip.

And one more. My birthday:

Born on the 7th day of month gives you a tendency to be something of a perfectionist and makes you more individualistic in many ways. Your mind is good at deep mental analysis and complicated reasoning. You are very psychic and sensitive, and you should usually follow your hunches. You may not take orders too well, so you may want to work along or in a situation where you can be the boss. This birthday gives a tendency to be somewhat self-centered and a little stubborn.

Right. Now I'd like to be able to say that I can objectively look at those results and tell you if theyre spot-on or not. But I can't. And I doubt anybody can objectively claim to know who they really are. We all have an image we have of ourselves, and more often than not, that image is invariably wrong. That's why we need other people: to smack us upside the head whenever we get so full of ourselves; to point out the beam in our eyes that prevents us from seeing well enough to remove the mote in our brother's eye.

We’re naturally protective of who we are. Or rather who we think we are. We tend to share with others who tend to reinforce our own image of ourselves no matter how fictitious this image is. Such is our nature. It takes an almost heroic step to give yourself over to somebody, to trust that somebody with ourselves. You might not like what you see reflected in that person’s eyes, but at least you’ll know. And knowing, in the immortal words of G.I. Joe, is half the battle.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Rewriting/Backing up

Writing is all about rewriting and looking back at what I wrote in my previous blog entries, I can see that almost all of them are in dire need of a rewrite. I never thought for once that I could get it right the first time and knew even then that I have to get to the task of rewriting... eventually.

I also need to back up. The only copies of the stuff in here are in this blog. That is saying a lot about my trust in the longevity of our gracious host, but I know I have to back up... eventually.

It could be fun to have a record of how my mind worked, how it changed over the years, or how it stayed stubbornly the same, when one day, when I have turned into a decrepit old fart, I'd look at the stuff I wrote with my kids and grandkids, and we'd laugh. For that day, I need to rewrite. And I need to back up. And I'll do that, I promise...

... eventually.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

And now for our Holy Week presentation

Last year's The Passion of the Christ (re-released this year with violent parts shortened), after being rejected by all the major studios, turned out to be one of the biggest money-makers of the year. "They made six Police Academies, and they wouldnt make The Passion of the Christ," Chris Rock said at the Academy Awards, noting how out of touch the major studios are with the market. Amid a storm of controversy because of Mel Gibson's religious beliefs (he's Traditionalist Catholic), the movie went on to make over 400 million dollars.

Much of the criticism of the movie stems from its alleged anti-Semitic bent. Gibson's dad didnt help things any by being quoted as saying that the Holocaust never happened. Was it anti-Semitic?

I saw the movie last year. I found it beautifully made. The violence was brutal. Gibson didnt want to make an intellectual or 'spiritual' movie. He wanted a visceral movie that would wrench your guts. It was his answer to how the Passion has been depicted in art in the past. Mel Gibson wanted to make a movie that would make Christians cringe to better appreciate--if appreciate is indeed the right word--what Jesus went through. He did this because past films tackling this subject were so antiseptic. Robert Powell in Jesus of Nazareth and Max Von Sydow in The Greatest Story Ever Told were still pogi even after supposedly being brutalized. The most brutal passion scene Ive seen so far is in Martin Scorcese's The Last Temptation of Christ but that lasted only a few minutes and not an entire movie. Paintings and sculptures depicting the Passion also tend to be 'sanitized.' Take a look at Michelangelo's Pieta for example. There are of course some exceptions but in general, the Christ remains pogi.

The sanitized version of the passion is in the heads of most Christians. Mel Gibson wanted to shock them out of that mindset. The movie should be seen in the context of how the Passion has been depicted in art in the past. That Pieta scene towards the end is a not-too-subtle nod at Michelangelo and all the other artists of the past who sought to give us a sanitized version of the passion and death of Jesus.

Was it anti-Semitic? I would have to say yes. Not because of any malicious intent on the part of Gibson, but because of the historical inaccuracies in the movie. It served to perpetuate a false rendering of history that was used by early Christians as justification for the persecution of Jews. The movie was marketed as an accurate depiction of how the Passion was portrayed in the Gospels. But a cursory reading of the gospels would show you that the spectacle of the entire Jerusalem cheering on their Roman oppressors as they tortured Jesus was not there. Mel Gibson was clearly going with tradition and not the gospel accounts. The New Testament gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John indicated what kind of 'mob' there was during Jesus's torture. In them there are no indications of 'mob' or Jewish masses cursing Jesus on the street while he carried his cross while being tortured. No indication of how many cheered on the Romans. The word translated as 'crowd' in the gospels, the Greek ochlos could mean multitude, but could also mean just a gathering of people. Matthew 21:8 also used ochlos to depict the number of people that welcomed Jesus during his enrty into Jerusalem but he modified it with pleistos. Pleistos ochlos; a very great multitude. No such modifications on the number of people that insulted Jesus. Was there a Jewish mob?

Josephus's writings give us a picture of what it was like back then. He was right there. He chronicled the role of the Pharisees in opening the door to Roman occupation. Also notable are the works of Robert Eisenman. It was Eisenman's thesis that the anti-Roman parties in Palestine at that time united under the leadership of the people in the Qumran community, headed no less by James the brother of Jesus, bishop of the Jerusalem church. Using Josephus, the Dead Sea Scrolls, and other early writings, he drew a picture of occupied Palestine wherein nationalist sentiment was not only strong, but also popular. That the Romans had to put down rebellion after rebellion, some under the leadership of self-proclaimed messiahs, attested to this. The Pharisees in Rome-occupied Palestine were seen as makapili. The truth is, the Pharisees and their ilk were in the minority. The only reason they have so much clout was because of their dominance of the Rome-backed ruling council. Rome was almost universally hated by the Jews. The Pharisees were only able to survive because Rome liked them. The Herods were also seen as Roman puppets and were almost universally hated. After the destruction of the Temple, all the other sects disappeared, mopped up by the Roman occupying forces. Only the Pharisees remained. They bet on the right horse.

Crucifixions were fairly common in those days, and Romans usually crucified insurgents-- Jewish heroes! The Roman soldiers were out in force for Jesus's crucifixion, not to protect him from the crowd, but to prevent a rebellion. The spectacle of the Jewish populace cheering on as the Romans tortured rebels to the Roman occupation is an historical inaccuracy we have tolerated for so long because of tradition. More likely, the Jewish masses cursed the Romans, albeit under their breath for fear of being tortured themselves. Remember that a week before, Jerusalem welcomed him as the Messiah; the one who they thought would lead them against the Romans. And tradition would have us believe that barely a week later, these same masses who welcomed him would turn against him just like that?

Think about it. Here you have a people struggling under the yoke of foreign occupation. They wanted to believe in the Messiah that would free them from Rome and they believed Jesus was it and welcomed him as such. I can only compare the Roman occupation with the Japanese occupation of the Philippines. Were the Makapili in the majority? Or were they reviled? If a Filipino was captured by the Japs and publicly tortured, did the Manilenos cheer the Japs on? I'd say it is more historically plausible that the Jewish masses, seeing their hopes dashed to the ground yet again, seeing a fellow Jew tortured by the hand of the occupier, would not have cheered the Romans on. They would have wept in sypmathy. They would have been consumed by anger at the Romans, biding their time until they could make their move. Which they did around 66 AD. The Zealots, succeeded in mounting a wide-scale revolt which resulted in the burning of the Temple by Titus's armies. The Zealots were the ones who had popular backing. Zealots and Zadokites were anti-Pharisees. The Pharisees couldnt muster enough people to fill Pontius Pilate's court as depicted in passion dramas.

The whole traditional depiction of the Passion of Christ was a propaganda stunt to shift the blame for the killing of Jesus from the Romans, who by then dominated the Christian faith, to the Jews. And as propaganda stunts go, this was a masterpiece, enduring til this very day.

... et finalmente, part III

Your Seduction Style: The Natural

You don't really try to seduce people... it just seems to happen.
Fun loving and free spirited, you bring out the inner child in people.
You are spontaneous, sincere, and unpretentious - a hard combo to find!
People drop their guard around you, and find themselves falling fast.

Frassum wassum Grifter part II

Why that frassum-wassum Grifter!!

...will destroy the world, eh? Hmmmmmm.. Mwoohahahaha.. Mwooohahahaa!!

Monday, March 21, 2005

Quidquid latine dictum sit, altum viditur

I found myself in Powerbooks a few days ago. Browsing, as usual, as Im wont to do whenever I feel the irrepressible pangs of ennui eating at me. I found myself wandering into the Travel Books section. Interesting titles, some written by prominent authors like Chuck Palahniuk. There was even one co-authored by Ewan McGregor. But reading travel books only makes me pine for those places that they talk about: Greece, Tunisia, Morocco. Valencia, Napoli, Rio de Janeiro. Not a good feeling, I tell you. Wanderlust is not an affliction you'd wish on yourself, especially if you don't have resources to wander with. But ennui is a powerful thing, and I was tempted to at least sample one page-bound exotic location.

Until my eyes came to the foreign languages section. Books on Spanish, Italian, French, German, Portuguese, Japanese, Chinese, and... Latin? There's a book on Latin! I picked it up, hefted it, testing its weight and feel. I browsed through the pages. It promised an approach to Latin based on frequency of use instead of the usual gradual increase in complexity. It promised to give the student the big picture first, approaching it as a system, highlighting how it is different from English, thereby not giving the student a false sense of security in the early stages, only to drop the student head-first into its more complex (and more frequently encountered) rules and syntax, discouraging him completely. I found the approach quite reasonable and I considered to give it a try.

So I picked the book up, and headed toward the counter. I was standing in line when I thought, "What possible good will it do me to be able to read and write Latin?" I put the book back in its place.

A couple of days later, I was back in Powerbooks again, bored out of my gourd, browsing through books. As luck would have it, they were having a store-wide sale. I found myself in the midst of the language books again and was instantly drawn to the Latin book. Once again I hefted it, riffled through the pages... and decided to buy it. I SMSed a pal and told her what I did. "Holy mother of pearl, Im so bored." She SMSed me back, "Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet." Figures. She's in the magazine publishing industry, so SMSing me some filler text was appropos.

I opened the book as soon as I got to the office and read the introduction, where the author wrote, "If youre like me, you get a sort of endorphin rush from exercising your brain with something new and challenging..." And there it was right there. That was what I wanted. That was the explanation for my buying that book: an endorphin rush. I can't jump out of airplanes or swim with sharks or climb Everest. But I could learn Latin. An endorphin rush I could afford.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

You got to get yourself together

... you got stuck in the 80's, and you can't get out of it

The meaning of the song In the Air Tonight has been debated endlessly on internet newsgroups. An urban legend that made the rounds was that this song was about Phil witnessing the drowning of a man who raped his wife. Not true. But wouldnt it be great if you could sing this song to someone... and mean it? There's an old Sicilian proverb, Revenge is a dish that's best served cold. Poppycock. Revenge is a dish best served piping hot, straight out of the oven.

I can feel it coming in the air tonight, Oh Lord
I've been waiting for this moment, all my life, Oh Lord
Can you feel it coming in the air tonight, Oh Lord, Oh Lord

Well, if you told me you were drowning
I would not lend a hand
I've seen your face before my friend
But I don't know if you know who I am
Well, I was there and I saw what you did
I saw it with my own two eyes
So you can wipe off the grin, I know where you've been
It's all been a pack of lies

And I can feel it coming in the air tonight, Oh Lord
I've been waiting for this moment for all my life, Oh Lord
I can feel it in the air tonight, Oh Lord, Oh Lord
And I've been waiting for this moment all my life, Oh Lord, Oh Lord

Well I remember, I remember don't worry
How could I ever forget, it's the first time, the last time we ever met
But I know the reason why you keep your silence up, no you don't fool me
The hurt doesn't show; but the pain still grows
It's no stranger to you or me

And I can feel it coming in the air tonight, Oh Lord...

Naaaah. Im just joshing. The best way to deal with whoever ails you is to...


for having associated yourself with that slimeball. Nyahahahaa.

Just playin'. Seriously.. Own up to your part in it. Take responsibility for your actions. Forgive.

Wow naman...

Im sorry to be inflicting this on you, but when I heard this one, I tried to keep from laughing so hard, I mustve pushed my sinuses to the front of my nose. Mis-sang lyrics:

Nothing's gonna change my love for you, you know naman by now how much I love you...


Hot diggity

I made chili dogs for dinner one weekend. Express ones. I got german franks, a can of pork and beans in tomato sauce, some extra tomato sauce, and ground sirloin.

First, I caramelized some onions in butter with black pepper, some balsamic vinegar, and a little sugar. The onions take a lot of time to brown so I did this first.

Then for the chili, I sauteed garlic and added about an eighth of a kilo of the sirloin, seasoned it with salt and pepper, and some chili powder, and cooked it until the sirloin changed color. Then I dumped the can of pork and beans on it and the extra tomato sauce. I didnt make it spicy. The kids wouldnt like that. I let the whole thing simmer until the chili had the right consistency: it should be able to stay put on the hotdogs and not run and get all over the floor.

While this was going on, I boiled water in a pan and dumped the franks in. Boil the dogs for about 7 minutes. Theyll come out plumper and juicier than if you had fried them in oil.

For my chili dog, I smeared a lot of mustard on the bun, put the dog in, dumped the caramelized onions on top of that, then topped the whole thing with the chili.

Cael doesnt like mustard, and isnt too crazy about the onions either, so hers is just the dog and chili. Isabel, on the other hand, would eat anything.

I thought some orange juice would go great with the meal--healthier and all that--but opted for cold vanilla Coke instead. I didnt need to get all Health Nazi about it since this was supposed to be a fun dinner; something for the kids to talk to their friends about, telling them how their dad made them hotdogs for dinner so they could eat in front of the TV.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

The Secret Life of Plants

I bought seeds a month ago: Basil, Coriander, and Chives. More about that in a minute. Kids have been pestering me for a pet. A pet rabbit was their preference. I had to veto that idea since we didnt have a place for a rabbit. A cage would be too confining. There is nothing more depressing to look at than a caged creature. And to have it roam the yard free is out of the question. The neighbors' cats would have it for lunch. But a pet would be good for the kids. Caring for a living thing might make them more compassionate. The only logical choice would be to get them puppies. Ok.

Until one day, my 8-year old, Cael came bursting into the room all excited. Her okra seed! It grew, she said. She took me by the hand and showed me a budding little plant that looked nothing like an okra. 'That isnt an okra,' I said.

'But I planted a seed here. And it grew.'

'Where did you get the okra seed?'

'From the refrigerator.'

We went to the fridge and I asked her where the seed came from and she pointed me to a mangled young okra with its still-white seeds. They have to be because the okra was going into the bulanglang that was to be that evening's dinner. 'Those seeds won't grow. Theyre too young.'


'I tell you what. We'll go to National Bookstore and get some seeds for you and your sister.'


So we went and got the seeds. The coriander was mine, the basil was for my 6-yr old, Isabel and the chives were for Cael. We planted them in little pots and I have them water them everyday. The basil grew first. Days passed without any sign of the coriander and chives, but we were still watering and hoping. I hoped Cael's seeds grew soon. She and her sister have had this juvenile sibling rivalry that's been going on since Isabel was born, and right now Isabel's having the better of it. She's the type of kid everybody likes and it makes Cael a little rebellious. And Isabel's plant growing first isnt going to help things any. But my plant wasnt growing either. Maybe that'll show her that it can happen to anybody, including dad, and I'm not worried so she shouldnt be either.

Cael's plants started sprouting soon enough. And boy, was she glad. They look like tiny blades of grass shooting straight up from the soil and she couldnt keep her hands off them. I asked her to water them and she may have gone overboard because when she was through with it, they werent standing straight up anymore. But theyll live, I guess.

The coriander is looking good, too. The sprouts have broken free of their hulls and I could see the pale, white roots.

In a few days, we'll have to transplant them from the pot to a suitable location where they can grow, but I can't seem to find a place for them. Whatever plot of land we have is either under the shade of a tree or is already too crowded with grass and other plants. Maybe we'll wait til the plants are big and strong enough to compete.

It's like raising kids, I suppose. You know one day youll have to let them go but you want to make sure that they have what it takes to make it out there. And there are fewer and fewer places where you can let them go where theyll be safe. All you can do is make sure they have whatever they need: a sense of honor, and fairness, and strength of character. And a sense that they are important enough to accept in their hearts that they shouldnt take crap from anybody. Until they fall in love and all that sense of honor and fairness and sense of character and not taking crap goes out the window. I can't help them with that. I can only be there. They have to go through that on their own.

I'm glad we thought of getting the seeds. Puppies poop.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

House hunting

Been looking for a new house these past few months. We had to move back in to the old house for a while despite it being cramped, what with my brother's family there too, plus my huge youngest brother. I won't get into the details about why we had to move back. Too ugly and Im still a bit sore at it, not because of the money I lost, which was a lot, but it involved a betrayal of trust. Take someone in to your own home and.. oh well. C'est la vie.

Anyway, I may have found one not far from where we're staying. Not a big house. Only 2 bedrooms, but it has a big yard. With fruit trees. Mangoes, avocadoes, kamias. Me and trees, we get along. Can't wait to climb those creatures and pick some ripe fruits. Come to think of it, picking a tree's fruit is like plucking a suckling child from its mother's breasts and eating it right before her very eyes. But I digress.

I'll be negotiating with the owner sometime next week, and by the end of the month, Im hoping to have the contract signed. The offer is pretty good. An affordable rental price plus an option to buy the property... as soon as I can come up with the million plus bucks. Nyahahaha!

Im praying this happens. The kids need their own space. Don't know where I'll get the money yet, but Im praying.

Giuseppe Arcimboldo, Vertemnus, 1591 Posted by Hello

Vertemnus is the god of harvests. The first time I saw this painting in a magazine, I thought it was done in the 60's by some classmate of Salvador Dali. I thought it had the same wit and irreverence as any of Dali's paintings. It turns out that this painting was done in 1591. Considering the type of representative paintings done in those days, this one mustve caused quite a stir. A little internet digging tells me that this is actually a portrait of the Habsburg Emperor Rudolf II. I wonder how the Emperor felt being depicted as a produce stall.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Posted by Hello

Francesco Hayez, Meditation on the History of Italy 1850. The young girl apparently has finished reading her book on the history of Italy and is contemplating on what she has read. The dark crucifix in her left hand is held over the book illustrating the prominent role the Church has played in what made Italy. And the exposed breast? Could be a contrast or a temper to the piety of the cross in the painting, illustrating that even though the Holy See is in the Italian peninsula, Italy's history hasnt been all that chaste. OR ... Hayez just likes boobs.

Thursday, March 10, 2005


Looking at my girls, I can't help but be amazed at how happy they are; how they can laugh so easily; how they can easily find fun in whatever they do. God knows, looked at objectively, they don't have much to be happy about. I won't get into the details here, but they--we--are going through a rough time. Let's just say that our present arrangement isnt normal.

But they don't care. They run, they jump, they play, as if everything's just hunky-dory. I could watch them play all day, I could listen to them laugh. It's the most beautiful sound a dad could ever hear--the sound of his kids' laughter.

Last night, they dragged me outside to play a game with them. Quite frankly I didnt feel like playing. There was a lot on my mind and that didnt allow for any other activity. But they insisted, took me by the hand, "Lika na, Tatay." I went.

First we played hide and seek, with me as the 'save' post. One daughter would close her eyes and lean on me and count to 10 while the other hid. "Ready or not, here I come." A while later they would come running towards me to see who gets to touch me first. I was supposed to run myself so that they couldnt catch me and 'save' themselves. It was an interesting twist on hide and seek and they didnt care who won. They just liked chasing me around and trying to catch me.

Next we played a game they said was like Kris Aquino's Game Ka Na Ba? TV show. Me and my younger daughter stood on a line while my older daughter would ask questions and whoever answered correctly took a step forward. We pretended we had buzzers we had to press when we knew the answer and we would go, 'Eee-e-eengk.' I aced the solar system questions, but I got totally creamed with the Spongebob questions. My daughter also improvised on some questions by doing some dance moves or just moving weirdly and we were supposed to guess what she's doing. "Krusty Krab," my younger daughter answered one of these questions.

"Correct," our quizmaster said. A couple of more times that happened. Ok. I get it now, I thought.

To another one of these 'questions,'--my daughter just held her elbows and knees at right angles and walked that way--I just pressed my buzzer and said something totally inane. "Kamploonit," I said.

"Correct," came the quizmaster's verdict. My younger daughter pretended to complain. And we all had a good laugh. They didnt care too much about the game. They just wanted to hang out with their dad.

The game ended in a draw, inevitably. It was almost 9:00 and so I said they should go wash up and get ready to go to bed. "Awwwwwww." My younger daughter insisted I carry her on my back and she isnt exactly a light-weight and I just recently pulled a back muscle from over-exercising. But ok, let's go.

As I lay in bed that night, I sent an SMS to a pal. "My kids are so happy. I must be doing something right."

"Of course you are. Theyre so lucky to have you."

I smiled and tried to get some sleep. I knew better of course. Im the one who's lucky.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

The door to the spiritual life

My daughter had her First Communion recently. She goes to a Catholic school and First Communion is one of the highlights of the school year. Being a non-Catholic--the first in the family to sever his ties to Rome in fact, the rest of the family following later--this caused some anxiety in the family, as I expected it would. But they didnt raise a howl about it, to their credit. My mother, who's an Evangelical, quite mildly brought up the subject of the uselessness of the exercise to me. She voiced her apprehension about my daughter growing up confused about her religion. I didnt tell her what my reason was, but I did tell her that I see no harm in it, what with me (and her and the rest of the family) growing up Catholic. "I had my first communion and it didnt do me any harm, did it?" Ok, so the jury is still out on that one, but my mother seems to have accepted it, albeit while pointing out that my daughter's fellow Evangelical classmates werent participating.

So here's my reason: I wanted my daughter to grow up with a spiritual life. And a Catholic upbringing is perfect for kids. They have all the pomp, the rituals, the ceremonies, the mysteries... the whole Mythos of a truth beyond this mundane one, all embodied in the liturgy. It's beautiful, the whole ceremoniousness of it. It's so different from the real world that one is instantly tranported to a glimpse of the world beyond. The communal prayers and incantations like magic words, open sesames, to a world where they can feel safe from pain and suffering. There's the priest with the flowing robes and gilded ornamentation, the gleaming altar, the beautiful stained glass windows, the statues of saints in various pious poses, the incense... and the Host. My daughter was duly instructed about the whole Communion exercise. The priest leads the faithful in prayer and the bread and wine become the body and blood of Jesus. Miracle. Or in the eyes of a child, magical. They then partake of the body of Christ, the allusions to theophagy lost in all the solemnity, replaced by communing with God; inviting God to enter their lives. One could never imagine a more beautifully poetic way of being introduced to a spiritual life.

In an evangelical service, one does not get that. The pastor looks just like you and me. He's just a guy with a Bible. The place of worship is devoid of ostentation. There are no ethereal ceremonies; just a lot of singing and praying. It's more fun, more lively, sometimes, but it remains earthly to the child. It takes a more mature temperament to grasp the spirituality in the service, and not all parents are adept at imparting the sense of the otherworldly to their children without the props that Catholicism gives.

As the child matures, as my child matures, the need for the trappings of holiness will diminish in importance as she discovers that true spirituality doesnt need them. As she learns to be more introspective, she will see that the Catholic pomp and circumstance, the Catholic rituals, the Catholic mythos and mystique were just the door that showed her the way. She can have a personal relationship with God on her own, that she can commune with God directly, and God doesnt need to do it through the magical and poetic liturgy.

On my daughter's First Communion, she was dressed all in white, with a lace veil on her head, as were all her classmates. She looked so pretty, easily the prettiest girl there, so I thought. As they lined up preparing to enter the church, the nuns led them in prayer: Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be, Act of Contrition. They entered the church, hands together in piety. The Mass was solemn and beautiful, the priest eloquent in his sermon tailored for a child's ears and sensibilities. Then he spoke to their parents. The importance of this First Communion and all it meant was repeated to them with grace and humor. The sermon wasnt boring at all. If only all priests were like that. And when the time came for the 'Peace be with you' part, the priest told the children to go to their parents and hug them and tell them, "I love you." Beautiful. I almost cried. Before that part I was checking out the hot moms from time to time. After that I was into the whole thing. At the end of the ceremony, the children got certificates and prayer books, manuals theyll use as a guide to the Catholic life. My daughter and I went through them on the way home. We were supposed to go straight home, but then that wasnt right. I remembered my First Communion. My parents took me to a special restaurant. I wasnt prepared for that. Instead we stopped by the grocery store and got her some special ice cream and cookies. An old lady at the grocery store noticed her dress and smiled and congratulated her. When we got home, the tambays on the street congratulated her too. "Wow si Cael nag-first communion na." My daughter was beaming.

There were gifts waiting for her at home from my Catholic aunts who lived next door and she eagerly opened them. We ate the ice cream and cookies with a sense of accomplishment; a sense of how special the day was. It was a rite of passage and my daughter went through it a different person, if only for that day. I couldnt think of a more perfect introduction to the spiritual life.

Eventually she may outgrow it all as she begins to seek and to question, and I'll encourage her to do so. But in the end, it'll be her decision as it should be.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Textus Receptus

You have to have a certain mindset while communicating online. Especially using text-based communication like IRC, ICQ, or Yahoo. Text follows rules like logic and syntax. It's a string of words that follow a preset pattern.

Take a look at this sentence. It makes sense only when you reach the last word. That's how text communicates. Communication in real life takes in whole chunks of information at once and it's not all words. Text can't convey the totality of human communication: facial expressions, nuances, gestures, inflections. Text cant tell you whether the voice is steady with conviction or wavering with uncertainty. We get around that somewhat by using emoticons, but that's like comparing a burp with a symphony.

By using text, we tend to supply the mood. We give spin, meaning, intentions, and motivations that probably werent intended by the sender, but we perceive nevertheless because we supply it ourselves based on whatever state of mind we have at that time. This makes for very innacurate communication.

The proper mindset for using text-based communication is the ability to isolate the words; to take them at face value, suspending judgement. Stick with only the facts presented without imputing meaning and motivation beyond what is written. Recognize the fact that the communication is incomplete and request for more information if the meaning isnt clear. This is easier said than done, especially when communicating with someone who has an emotional involvement with us. We tend to impute meaning to the words typed that arent really there and this results in misunderstanding and defeats the purpose of communication. How do we isolate the text from the person typing them? How do we isolate the text from our own perceptions and biases? We can't. We werent built to communicate with text alone which uses mostly the logical part of our brains. The use of the keyboard itself is farther removed from who we are than, say, using a pen. At least by using a pen, we impart some of our personality in the words we write. Not so the keyboard. The keyboard is disastrous to many a personal relationship unless the parties learn that this is a totally different form of communication with different rules. Learning that could save us from mixed signals and miscommunication.

Il Nome di la Rosa

...or Being Stalked by Signore Eco
The name of the rose
Umberto Eco: The Name of the Rose. You are a
mystery novel dealing with theology, especially
with catholic vs liberal issues. You search
wisdom and knowledge endlessly, feeling that
learning is essential in life.

Which literature classic are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

Monday, March 07, 2005

No relation to Mr. Valdez

We used to have a basil plant growing in our yard. The native kind (I think it's called Thai basil) with leaves smaller and narrower than Italian basil, and purple flowers. I used to pluck leaves from that plant, sniff them, scrunch them up in a little ball, and pop them in my mouth. Not a good idea, I realize now, since we have dogs and they have a penchant for marking territory. Anyway...We had our fence painted, and some of the paint landed on the plant and on the soil around it. It died.

I was walking to work along Legazpi street one day and I saw a lone basil plant. The same variety as the plant we had. It looked bedraggled: losing leaves and looking generally unhealthy. Understandable since it was trying to eke out an existence in a place where it was constantly exposed to toxic car exhaust. It also was under a palm tree and assorted other flora, blocking out its source of sunlight. And if there's one thing basil needs, it's lots of sun.Thinking of the plant I lost, I resolved to save this one. I had no idea how to propagate basil from cuttings or if it was even possible, but it seemed like a good idea at the time to take a cutting from the Legazpi plant and transplant it in our yard. That I did. I took a relatively healthy looking branch and snapped it off the plant.I stuck the cutting in the soil where it could get lots of sun and watered and hoped. To make a long story short, the cutting didnt last the weekend. The Legazpi plant didnt survive the cutting either. A few days later, it too succumbed. In my effort to save it, I may have hastened its death. C'est la vie... c'est la mort.

I told this story to a friend of mine and she said, "How very like relationships. Why don't you write something about it?" What, relationships?, I asked. I wouldnt presume I knew anything about relationships, or what makes them work. Relationships depend so much on the other person that you never have control of it. You just do what you can and hope for the best. I'd have better luck writing about basil.

Friday, March 04, 2005


"Where do you find the time?," I was asked. Where do I find the time to read? There are pockets of time here and there. In the bathroom, for instance. Not much else you can do in the bathroom, so my bathroom doubles as a reading room of sorts. Books and magazines, some mildewed from staying in a damp environment for too long. In my bathroom are Lewis Thomas's Lives of a Cell, Steve Martin's Pure Drivel, E.F. Schumacher's A Guide for the Perplexed, Umberto Eco's Serendipities, Sten Nadolny's The God of Impertinence, magazines and newspapers, assorted reading bric-a-brac such as a rapidly deteriorating, Speak Italian in Ten Days, and a coverless and moldy The Book of Five Rings, and printouts of e-books downloaded from the web.

I read at a leisurely pace, with no pressure to finish. I can pick up a book, read a couple of chapters, put it down for a week--a month even--pick it up again later while reading something else. I read in fits and starts, occasionally stopping while ruminating on what the author said or how he said it; sometimes agreeing, sometimes arguing, sometimes marvelling, sometimes contemplating whether the book is worth picking up again.

I also find time in the shuttle on my way to work. On a good day, the trip takes about half an hour. On really bad days, it could take up to two hours. That's two hours of nothing to do. So I usually bring a book with me for the sole purpose of reading while stuck in the shuttle. In my bag now is Gregory Maguire's Mirror Mirror.

But lately I've been thinking about things I might have missed while Gregory Maguire transports me to 16th century Italy while stuck in traffic. Mirror Mirror is well-imagined, well-written, with surprises here and there. A bit slow in places but Im not going anywhere and am more than willing to lollygag with Lucrezia Borgia. Besides, I like slow books, especially if the writer has a good ear. What Im missing are the right-there-and-then stories of the people and places around me. I look out the shuttle's window and there are lives out there. There's a mother with a baby fighting for a ride in a jeepney, jostled by other passengers in a hurry to get to work, and eventually not being able to board the jeepney. There's a traffic cop right there witnessing the whole thing but does nothing. There's an old man, well in his 70's, in a beat up old barong, an equally beat up old leather portfolio, still trying to get to his 8-to-5 at his age when he should be enjoying his last years, visiting his grandchildren, his friends, writing his memoirs, and I shudder at the thought that his story could well be my story several years down the road and killing the thought by affirming that that won't be me if I have anything to say about it. There's a smartly-dressed woman right beside me. Corporate type, talking on her phone in corporatese; a woman in charge, with no time to waste, as she climbs her way up the ladder. I can't help but wonder if ever she does reach the pinnacle, if it'll all be worth it. I wonder if she has someone to hold at night. I wonder if she has friends she can share her thoughts with, her dreams and fears.

There are stories everywhere and for a while the Borgias are forgotten while I read the stories around me. Stories I miss each morning as I shut them out and let another take me to wherever and whenever.

What has Delphi wrought?

Which Fantasy/SciFi Character Are You?

A venerated sage with vast power and knowledge, you gently guide forces around you while serving as a champion of the light.

Judge me by my size, do you? And well you should not - for my ally is the Force. And a powerful ally it is. Life greets it, makes it grow. Its energy surrounds us, and binds us. Luminescent beings are we, not this crude matter! You must feel the Force around you, everywhere.

Yoda is a is a character in the Star Wars universe.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

On Truth and Myth

Dr. Lewis Thomas writes in The Lives of a Cell:

"Our most powerful story, equivalent in its way to a universal myth, is evolution. Never mind that it is true whereas myths are not; it is filled with symbolism, and this is the way it has influenced the mind of society."

Dr. Thomas is a man of science as well as a fine essayist, and when he wrote those words, he had on his scientist's hat, but he had the underpants of the essayist on as well, so we may forgive him the teeny-tiny lapse in claiming that evolution is "true". Rhetorically, we don't see anything wrong with that. (By evolution, we mean the Theory of Evolution ny Natural Selection.) But if you want to be persnickety about it... Science is not in the business of looking for Truth. Science is in the business of looking for Fact and interpreting those facts within an accepted system. That system is the scientific method in which hypotheses are formulated and tested. The Theory of Evolution is the best interpretation of the facts observed by scientists and from these facts, they have proposed a theory that explains how species evolved. Observed phenomena can be interpreted through the Theory of Evolution. It sounds a bit circular but that's how it works. I for one am not about to tell working scientists how to do their job. The fact is, Evolution works. It works as a paradigm for interpreting the facts. Whether it is true or not is beyond its purview and scientists couldnt care less. Before the Copernican revolution, scientists could map the stars and planets and can make accurate predictions based on their observations on where the planets would be at certain times in the future. Accurate predictions. Never mind that they did so while working on the premise that the Earth is the center of the Universe. The Earth-centric model was 'true' at the time.

Dr. Thomas's observation that Evolution is equivalent in its way to universal myth is dead-on, however. And Im not using the word myth for Evolution disparagingly, and I dont think Dr. Thomas was either. Everthing--and I mean Everything--can be explained by evolution. From the origin of species, to the origin of behavior, socities, right and wrong, good and evil. It explains why I find Scarlett Johanssen cute, why I like dipping my pandesal in extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and why I like the smell of napalm in the morning. It has indeed pervaded everything, it has "influenced the mind of society." Western society at least.

What I do find inappropriate is when Evolution is used beyond what it was meant for; when it is used to push an agenda for which it has no jurisdiction. For example, Evolution has absolutely nothing to say about the existence or lack thereof of a Creator. It's just not interested in it. "Evolution proves that God doesnt exist." Non sequitur. It does nothing of the sort. It doesnt even prove that the Judeo-Christian God doesnt exist if you allow for an allegorical interpretation of Genesis. I suspect that those who believe that Evolution proves that God doesnt exist are just annoyed at the barbaric acts done in the name of God more than anything else. They hope that by offering 'proof' of God's non-existence, they could best show people the folly of burning people at the stake or crashing a passenger plane into a building full of people. A noble enough intention, to be sure, but a bit dishonest. Teach children Evolution in schools, by all means. Teach it as Science, for in point of fact, it is scientific: it is a theory based on observable data. But teach Evolution as Truth? If youre going to teach it as Truth, then you have to allow for other stories as well. You have to allow for things that are not within the experience of everybody. You have to allow for personal experience. (Try to describe what a banana tastes like to another person such that that other person has the same sense of the banana as you do. You can't. The banana experience is yours alone. For another person to have a banana experience, they have to taste their own banana.) To teach it as Truth, you have to allow for poetry, for metaphysics. In short, you have to allow for Myth. Mythos is in the business of Truth.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

And as if you hadnt had enough of the quiz things...


The ULTIMATE personality test
brought to you by Quizilla

Under the Blood-Red Moon

Drifted off to sleep at 9 last night to the voice of a BBC reporter. An entire year of waking up at 5 am has taken its toll. I now find myself nodding off in the shuttle to work, then succumbing and snatching a few Zzz's, something I never do, partly because of the fear of spit unconsciously dribbling down the front of my shirt in full view of my fellow commuters. But my body wants its rest and I can't help but give in, the ignobility of ribbons of spittle dripping from my mouth nothwithstanding. So last night, I resolved to go to bed early, and was hieing off into the Twilight Zone, Michael Jackson's trial drifting further and further away into background noise, replaced by shape-shifters and strange vistas... until I felt the earth lurch, followed several seconds later by an almost imperceptible chitter. I woke up with a start, recognizing the chitter as an alarm call. It was my phone. SMS. 10:30 pm. (In the real world, my phone's vibration and chitter happen simultaneously, and in no way sounds like a harbinger of disaster, but everything makes sense in the Zone.)

"Im scared. The moon is so red tonight."

Im out of the Twilight Zone completely. Rats. But I smile. She couldve SMSed anybody, but she chose to SMS me. I couldnt see the moon myself, but she must have had quite a view from her apartment in a posh high-rise in Greenbelt. I SMS back: "That's beautiful. Nothing to worry about. Probably just pollution."

"But why is it so red?"

I was tempted to whip up a story about earth spirits and the bright lady of the Silver Wheel, the blood of Luna, the goddess of the moon. But the Zone was bidding me back, so I let the 76% nerd in me take over. A 'scientific' explanation would end the conversation and Morpheus would give me a lift back. "Is it low over the horizon? That means the light from the moon has to travel through the atmosphere at an angle that disperses the shorter wavelengths of visible light. Red has a longer wavelength, and is the only one in the spectrum that gets through. Pollution intensifies the process. Much like what happens to the sun at sunrise and sunset."

"And of course you knew that," she said. "You must have joined a lot of Quiz Bee contests when you were younger."

"As a matter of fact, I was the [blah-blah-blah]," I said.

"Get out of town!" she said. "All I ever won was the spelling bee in school. I spelled electroencephalogram." And on it went. We SMSed, lost in the clickety-clicks of the keypad and electronic ones-and-zeroes flying through the air.

"Youre not going to bed yet?," she asked. By this time it was about midnight.

"Was asleep. Woke up at 10. Go get some rest. I'll read a boring book and try to get the sleep back." She hadnt been getting enough sleep lately.

"What book?"

"Foucault's Pendulum." Umberto Eco. "First hundred pages is an absolute sleeper."

"Can't even get past page one of that book. Haha. That's how you found me. Because of Ka 'Berto."

She's right. That's how I found her. Although Signore Eco had a lot of help from Nigella Lawson. "I guess I owe Mr. Eco a lot," I said.

Then on to other stuff. Happy, inane stuff. Things we could do. "You wanna go see Sideways? Is it still showing?," I said.

"Seen it. It's very good. A bit sad. It's still showing. A friend of mine saw it today. Let's go see Finding Neverland na lang."

"Ok. We'll go see Neverland. Hey Im turning in. Sandman's come to take me away. Nite. Go get some sleep. Dream I were taller."

"Good night. Thank you for being my help-line. Dream of paramecium covered with cilia."

It was 1:20 am. I knew I'll be paying for this the next morning, but it was worth it. Not everyday I decide to let a new friend in.