Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Piano Ace

WHEN I was still young, we had a Yamaha electronic keyboard set up beside our TV. It wasn't anything special, really, but apparently it served our family well for more than a decade. This 'piano' was where I got my first taste of music, and it was also where I learned how to play simple songs like Little Brown Jug, Oh When The Saints, and the ever classic Do-Re-Mi. Actually, I even learned the Wedding March on that thing, and if I ever joke that I'll play at your wedding, then that would be the reason for it.

As far as formal musical education goes, I actually did take piano lessons while in elementary, although I never got to the advanced lessons. My piano teacher then was Mrs. Kallos, who was pretty nice and wasn't known for beating hands (yay!). I spent quite a lot of afternoons in her music building; however, I remember that most of it was spent playing things like mini bowling and mini billiards. Estudiantina and Barbecue Boogie were my last two recital pieces under her tutelage, both of which are pretty simple and I could still play until now.

Most of the songs I know now, however, were learned on a Casio keyboard that served me throughout my college life. It has more songs stored in it compared with our Yamaha, and there are even tutorials and 'exams' if ever I wanted to learn one of the them. Also, the keys light up in bright red whenever pressed, which is pretty cool to me. Having spent a lot of time inside a cramped dormitory room with barely anything to do, I managed to learn several simple but beautiful songs by learning and memorizing sheet music. (I still can't play while reading notes.)

Here are a couple of videos of me playing Dear You from the anime Higurashi  no Naku Koro and Not Tomorrow from the horror video game Silent Hill on my sister's Roland keyboard. 

Music has always been part of my growing up, I guess, even if I'm not really any sort of expert or prodigy in it. Still, it's fun playing and learning new songs now and again, especially now when almost everything I do lacks any sort of culture of sophistication. Huh, maybe I should learn a new song.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Revelations of the (Partially) Color Blind

Most people I know are already aware of the fact that I suffer from a partial form of color blindness. And before anyone asks, yes, such a condition does exist and I've apparently been dealing with it throughout my life since childhood. All in all, the effects of being partially colorblind--specifically deuteranomalous if I'm right--are subtler than you'd expect, but in hindsight they've given me quite the trouble for most of my schooling years up to now. It wasn't only until recent years that I realized I was even colorblind, too.

To clear things up, I can see red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet, and all the other colors; I just have trouble telling some colors apart under certain lighting conditions:
  •  Playing cards in dim light, for example, has me squinting to see whether a card is black or red, that is, until I realize I'm being stupid and can just look at the suits. 
  • I also have particular trouble telling apart the lightest colors (cyan, pale yellow, light green, etc.) from simple white, making me believe one time in college that I've been wearing a white long-sleeved shirt to class when it was actually blue.
I could go on all night, trying to explain just what it's like seeing through my eyes, but it would be easier to give some examples. Here are a few anecdotes I've told time and again.

Eh blue kaya!
As a child, I believed Mayon Volcano was blue.

This is one of those things that just came to me after realizing I was colorblind. I remember one incident in grade school when the students were supposed to draw something for art class, and of course, I chose the lovely volcano just outside our classroom window. Armed with pretty much the same drawing and coloring skills as I have today (none), I proceeded to create my own rendition of the poor volcano, only to be asked by a classmate why on earth I was using a rich shade of blue to color it in. Pompously, I answered "Eh blue kaya", and that was that.

Brown, Brown, Green, Gold? F*ck this, where's the VOM?
Colorblind in Electronics means lots of mini explosions.

The thingy above is called a resistor, and the colored bands are meant to denote its resistance value. Unfortunately, my groupmates never did trust me with reading the values because I always mixed up the red, black, violet, blue, green bands. (Okay, maybe all of them)    

At least now you know that if you're ever strapped to a bomb, you should never come to me to defuse it. To be fair, though, while I did cause a number of booms and bangs in laboratory, none of them were really because I was color blind. At least I think so.

My favorite mnemonic for the colors: 
Bad Boys Rape Only Young Girls But Violeta Gives Willingly Gosh Super Nyak!
Black Brown Red Orange Yellow Green Blue Violet Gray White Gold Silver NoColor

This, I hate.
I always overtitrated.

I know this blog is starting to get rather nerdy, but this is one thing that really messed with me back in college. Basically, if I remember correctly the aim was to drip one type of liquid into another drop by drop, stopping just at the moment that the fluid in the flask turns a light pink. And as we've already established earlier, I suck when it comes to distinguishing light colors. Long story short, I always ended up with a heavily pink batch of gloop and got a dismal grade for my efforts in this particular experiment.


In conclusion, I'm not a dog and can see colors almost the same as other people, too. Just don't trust me with cutting bomb wires, piloting a plane, or trying to see whether the hot dog you're cooking is red or a pale pink. If you want to check out for yourself whether you have wonky eyes, try the test here. If you're too lazy to do that, just look at the picture and see if you can easily see a word in the mess; if you can manage it, then you're likely colorblind like me!


Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Rude Rant: How to be Annoying in the MRT

HAVING recently bounced back into the world of office employment, I now once again regularly experience the wonders of Metro Manila public commute. It's not exactly one of the most enjoyable things in the world, especially since my schedule coincides perfectly with rush hour, but it does make for some really interesting anecdotes. For our MRT-riding readers here'sa rude rant about how to be the most annoying train passenger in the world.

Oh no.
You cut in front of me in line.

When I head home, I take the MRT from Ayala going northwards to Shaw Boulevard. That's only two four stations away, but if I happen to be unlucky enough to be a little late, then it's a sure bet that the line going into the station would be long, hot, and unpleasant. If you “make singit” in front of me, try to create an entirely new line, or enter the station through the “No Baggage” lane with a bagful of stuff, then you can be sure that I hate you. If it were me doing these, it's perfectly okay, but heaven forbid anyone else be impatient.

You talk obnoxiously loudly on your phone.

Assuming that there is enough space on the MRT for you to move your hand from your side up to your face (which is rare), please don't use the opportunity to talk loudly with your friend on the other side of the cellphone connection. We don't really care who's cheating on whom or why you're angry at whomever nor do we want to spend 20 minutes on the train listening to you laugh in 10 different ways without really saying anything. Don't try to talk to me either; that's weird.

Having said this, I do have to share this conversation as one of my most favorite “overheard sa LRT” experiences:

Man talking to wife:



“Nadala ko napkin mo.”


“Bili ka na lang ng bago.”


I don't think the guy was ever seen again after that.


In the mad scramble to get into the already crowded train, people tend to push and push hard. To an extent, I understand your urgency; I want to get home as quickly as possible too. But if you push me forward when there's no more space or I'm trying to back up for someone to get off the train, be prepared for me to push back with an elbow. We're already straining the limits of Physics by cramming too many people into a potentially deadly mode of transportation, but if there's no more space, then there's NO MORE SPACE.

You sweat waterfalls and smell “maasim”.

I wish everyone tried to freshen up a bit before getting into an MRT train. It will make the ride so much more pleasant and less nerve-wracking for everyone involved. I don't claim to smell like roses and daisies when I ride the train, but at the very least I try to wipe off my sweat before gluing my body to hundreds of other passengers. Also, I try very hard not to stick my arm pit onto someone else's face, whether I smell bad or not. Please do the same.

You complain about how crowded it is.

B*tch, take a cab. Enough said.

At the end of this day I'll be walking again towards MRT Ayala and trying to ride the train and be home by 7. Hopefully, that's enough time for everyone of my fellow passengers to read this entry and do something about their bad MRT habits. Hah, yeah right.

P.S. I'm not really sure why the first word(s) are capitalized in news article, but it's neat so I'm doing it from now on.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Sleepy Musings: What Time Is It?

Time, for me, is one of the most interesting quandaries of the universe. On one hand, it's so fleeting, always inching forward on an endless reel of life and death. It's a force that simply keeps on moving, and try as we might to hinder it, we can never keep the seconds from turning into minutes, minutes into hours, and the hours inevitably turning into an unfathomable eternity.

Time is also absolute. It progresses but never changes; it moves and yet doesn't seem to go anywhere. It passes by and leaves snapshots of the past, writing an eternal record of circumstances that we can look back on but never alter. Sometimes we realize  that each moment that expires is ultimately set in stone,  and when this happens we are attacked by a wave of nostalgia-slash-regret that makes us wish that it really was as simple as turning back the hands of a clock.

To say the least, it's confusing. We look forward and see seconds that we wish to catch up to, and yet we turn around to see the very same seconds already left behind. The definitions of our past, present, and future get blurred and jumbled to the point that we don't even know when we're living anymore. This sentence you're reading, for example, is already part of my past and yet to me it's something I'm still writing and rewriting at this very moment. No, wait. Perhaps it's the future that's already come to pass?

I realize, then, how lucky we are that humans don't have the attention span to really stop and try to comprehend everything around us. Otherwise, we might all frozen in place by now, overwhelmed by the understanding of the sheer complexity of a seemingly simply concept such as time. As it is now, we have many questions but not quite a lot of answers, and that's okay. 

Time, for me, is one of the most interesting quandaries of the universe. An hour ago I didn't really expect to be writing anything philosophical/scientific/bullshitty, but look where I am now. Of course, I could always just delete this or let it sit in my tablet forever, but ultimately the decison is mine to make. In any case, there's no turning back. 

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

I’m Throwing Away My Laptop

I've gotten to digging around  my old writings again and I found one feature piece I wrote almost 2 years ago. So far I like what I've written, but then again I'm completely biased. To the few who read our blog, what do you think of me as a feature writer for the broad sheets? Enjoy!

I’m Throwing Away My Laptop—#lolnotreally

I remember when I was still a child. It was a time when even black and white television was entertaining to me and cell phones and the Internet were still but promises of the future. Back then, there was no such thing as cyber media, and global communication was very limited.  If you wanted to know the news you would have had to read the newspaper or watch television religiously to know what was going on. Missed news was “forgotten news”, unless of course the rumor mill was still having fun keeping the buzz alive. People’s lifestyles were simpler.  

That was a decade and a half ago. Nowadays, you wouldn’t even have much of a choice as old media and cyber media practically shove information down your throats. With all of the alternative media popping up it has become a question of how you will find out and no longer if you will find out. At first it was a breakthrough; suddenly, everyone was more aware of the world and what was happening. As time passed, however, the internet and social media has given people a deep sense of morbid fascination. Once you’ve watched a tsunami ravage a technologically-advanced country in YouTube, you can’t resist but watch it over and over again, and in HD, too.

On one hand, new media have done wonders for communication all throughout the world. Families, friends, and even complete strangers are now able to share stories, opinions, and experiences through Yahoo Messaging, Twitter, Skype, Facebook, and countless other ways. Global support can also be called upon in times of disaster, letting people from all over the world help out in the comfort of their own homes. In times when mere seconds can decide the life and death of human beings, readily and conveniently accessible information is Godsend.  In this regard, technology is an invaluable asset which has saved and changed many lives.

 On the other hand, any kind of information, whether it is an irrelevant update on Prince William’s receding hairline or a new sex scandal of a famous celebrity, is accessible to anyone who has a computer or a reasonably-capable handheld. Because of this, many people, from juvenile preteens up to cyber-literate senior citizens have developed this outrageous sense of curiosity which often knows no bounds. It is one thing to be informed of the killings, the scandals, and all the injustice in the world. It is another thing entirely to feed off the bad news by “raping the replay button” in YouTube. In a way, it is voyeuristic.

The world has developed and continues to develop at a rapid pace. At some point in the past decade, being informed has suddenly become a synonym for being desensitized to brutality. Censorship has also taken on a looser meaning as more and more children get exposed to news they are not mature enough for. When did the development of technology start to make it okay for people to sell DVD copies of the Japan tsunami? When did being famous start to mean that you have no privacy?  At what point will we stop and realize that we’ve already taken a step too far?In the course of writing this, I’ve read about workers in Japan expecting to die because of radiation, I’ve watched a spoof about twin babies supposedly talking about political issues in Libya, and I’ve read a new tweet by a famous international star who was recently axed from his show. Undeniably, I am guilty of every accusation I have dished out so far. Really, though, who isn’t these days?

The information superhighway was one of the most brilliant inventions of the human race, and with it, came endless possibilities alongside many drawbacks. With technology already so closely intertwined with the world’s daily routine, it is practically impossible to imagine living without it. Sometimes, though, when the news spews out one horrifying tale after another, when morality becomes a vague concept through an LCD screen, and when people don’t know when to just stop clicking away, you have to wonder. Are we really the masters of technology, or are we actually the slaves? #deep