it's my birthday!

the original plan was to celebrate my birthday with my family in the evening, as I had to attend a full-day .Net codecamp at downtown. But Nel wasn't feeling very well so I opted to just stay home. We ordered some chinese food for lunch and decided that that's already the birthday meal. No, it's not because of the recession (or the impending, for those who still can't accept the fact), it's just that I don't feel like splurging today. I was kidding Nel that it's still better than my birthday at Winnipeg 5 years ago, 19 days after we arrived in Canada. I had to spend most of the day throwing tons of garbage at the back of the Vietnamese grocery store where I was working -- on a cold -20 winter night. And if I remember correctly, we celebrated my birthday over a $5 mcCain deep & delicious cake, and ice cream from 7-11.

it's just amazing how far God have brought us since then. the last five years was a blur, yet all the things that have happened are still so clear in my mind. all of them, i'm thankful for. less greetings over the phone, thru email and YM, yet I'm still happier as I got to spend the whole day with my dear family. Bill hugged me twice saying "thank you, Dad, for everything!". i think that's the second best words i've ever heard on my birthday, next to Nel's "I love you".

btw, we became citizen last Nov 25, so this is my first birthday as a Canadian, and my last. Yes, that is right, as I expect to be a Filipino-Canadian on my next birthday. We will apply for a dual citizenship as soon as we can. I`m not willing to give up my being Pinoy!


what is up

it's amazing how time flies when you are busy. it's been six months since my last post, and i have gone from being a contractor, to being an employee, and now being a contractor again. summer is almost over, and i have been to the mountain in the past two weekends, despite avoiding long trips due to the high price of fuel =( weirdly enough, i want to go back again soon after trying one of the hiking trails. i realized rockies is even more beautiful the moment you start walking away from your vehicle -- specially for a few kilometers. i got the chance to be alone with my camera for two days and i can't believe how much i missed photography. sadly, i wasn't able to bring home lots of nice images due to the dust that accumulated in my camera's sensor. hiking the plain of six glaciers was a blast, and the scenery is heavenly once you get to the end of the trail. of course i had to overcome my bear fear specially because i started my hike so early that everyone else in lake louise were probably still sleeping. i was rewarded with tranquility, though. and being in the company of a friendly chipmunk once i got to the ledge (the highest point) to enjoy the vista is just unforgettable. i absorbed the beauty of nature for an hour. with the silence that only gets broken by the rumbling sound of avalanches, i can't think of any better way to spend that sixty minutes of my life. i'm hooked! once i get my hand on a bear spray, nothing will be able to stop me from trying out the other trails. except for those darn cougars!

here are three photo's from my hike to plain of six glaciers...

looking back to lake louise:

the reward (notice the abbot pass hut):

closer view of abbot pass hut:


unpublished work

I was sorting thru my Outlook Drafts folder (my scratch pad), and noticed this (I believe) unpublished "words". It doesn't look like I finished this, and I probably won't -- so I will just post it:

two feet apart, they've been gazing at each other's face for hours,

he's sitting in front of her with his hands touching her skin.

but today is different, he would give signals and take them back before she could even react.

she knows his mind is somewhere else but she can't do anything but wait.

their relationship had been developed in a way that she can't question his intention.

she submits to everything he wants, and provide him anything he asks,

slaved in a partnership that no one could claim to be fair.

she's born to be with him for life, but he could always ditch her in seconds

in exchange for a more adorable, and more capable one...

dated Sept 23, 2004, I have titled this "marriage between man and machine", but don't want to spoil your reading so I decided to mention it at the end of this post


Parental Control - the one reason so far why I love Vista

I'm always a late adapter when it comes to Operating Systems (specifically Windows). To prove, I was still using Windows 2000 on my main machine until it broke down last November. So last Boxing day, I was forced to buy a new desktop -- and of course, all PC's now come with Vista installed. I bought a C2D 4400 w/ Vista Premium and to my surprise the set-up has been painless so far. And the Parental Control, which you won't miss during the initial OS configuration steps, has been a blessing! Before, there is no way for us to limit our two kids on using the computer and they fight over who should be using it (I know, this is more of a shortcoming on our end), but now they have their own sched and they get booted out automatically once their time is up. I was painful for them at the first few days but now they've gotten used to it. That alone is worth the bucks that I paid for the PC =) Now if only Microsoft would patch this feature soon so that I could schedule a different time for different days...


Merry Christmas!!

It was a quick and busy Christmas, I didn't even notice it happened. But when I look at my credit card activity online, I know Christmas came. I was originally planning to limit the presents we're wrapping, but come the 24th we have more than 50 gifts underneath the tree, and the couch has to be moved farther away from the corner to allow space for them (hint: we have a small living room). And then there was boxing day. It's crazy how much the price of flat screens have dropped. I was fantasizing a 42", but my hope shattered when I got to the store and saw a long line up of people outside, braving the chilly -10 morning. The store was clever enough to limit the people inside and hype up the sale event. Nope, I'm not that desperate, so I just went home. Besides me bringing home a TV will not be welcomed very well by wifey. I just bought a new PC and a Wii for the kids (and myself), and she noticed that I have a shiny new Crumpler 6 million dollar bag, so I don't really have that much leverage. She doesn't get mad, but I can't stand grieving her =)

Back to the TV, you see we only have a four year old 27" flat toshiba (and another old 20" on the kids' bedroom where the antique XBOX 1 is hooked up. So now that we have a Wii, I want the kids to enjoy their games more. Actually, the main reason is because I'm still hoping that I could hold on to that unopened PS3 under the xmas tree (that I initially purchased when I thought we won't be able to get our hands on a Wii in time). I'm anxious to watch some BlueRay movies, but that would really require buying a better TV. With all the sale TVs gone (Canadians spent around $2 billion on yesterday boxing day event, 45% on electronics) before I could even set sight on them, the desire to buy is also almost gone... until I found myself browsing for TV's on our local online marketplace (kijiji). Then it hit me, all those people who were so crazy over the now cheap LCD's and plasmas are trying to get rid of their 1 t0 5-year old projection. Now, $600 for a one year old toshiba 52" widescreen HD is not bad! I hope they are gone when I check them again this weekend or this would be very difficult to pass up and might cause some grief.

I think I'll be eating mac n' cheese come january =)



the honest Canadians

If there is one thing that I would regard Canadians (or those living in Canada, specifically in Edmonton) is their great honesty. I'm trying to write this post in less than 3 minutes, and off my mind I could think of the following experiences that I personally have:
  • Wife lost her watch but not sure for how long. We are sitting at a table in starbucks downtown. Minutes later, one of the crew inquired if she's missing her watch. Someone found it in the washroom.
  • I lost my Rio (my mp3 player of choice two years ago) in YMCA downtown. Two days later I inquired and realized that a mid-grader boy found it in the locker room and surrendered it to the reception.
  • Wife lost her cellphone. The Convergys lady who found it phone us and agreed to meet to return the phone.
  • My wife lost her wallet last week when she went to a nearby commercial area. She left a note to the security about it. Everything is in there. Her SIN card, license, credit cards, debit cards, health insurance cards, 70 dollars, etc. We have since reported the lost and requested all debit/credit cards to be replaced. One of my cards has to be replaced too as we share the same number. This afternoon, she got the wallet back with everything in tact.


What I've been doing

I admire those bloggers who are able to maintain regular posting. I mean it's not an easy thing, specially if you're juggling between work, family, friends, hobbies, sports, etc. When I'm into something, I usually put my attention to it, which makes me a poor performer in a multi-tasking scenario. I mean I could crunch code while talking to someone on the phone while chatting in YM and browsing the internet, but these could all be done while I'm sitting. I'm talking more of a broader scope. Like two years ago, I know I was so hooked to photography. Then my contract was gonna end so I realized I had to brush up on technical stuffs. I ordered books, bought a new laptop, and installed the latest version of Visual Studio. I had to learn about agile stuff - nAnt, rhinoMock, nUnit, iBatis, TDD. In two months, I managed to get up to speed and appear competent (really, I was).

The programming fire lasted for half a year and photography took the back seat. Then I got another two year contract and a new project. The laptop gathered dust since then and I found myself reading books or listening to them (audio versions). I got familiar with the voice of Max Lucado, Philip Yancey, Joyce Meyer, and C.S. Lewis' stand-in. I've probably read/listen to more than ten books in just a month. More than the number of non-technical books that I've read in my whole life! With all these, photography and agile programming (though note that I still program at work coz that's what I really do) are now sitting on the sideline.

Then summer came, and I got hooked to running. Bought a pair of great runners and a couple of technical gears, run for a couple of months and was already getting ready for a 10K run. So I had to slack on photography, agile programming, and book reading (except for reading books about running, hehe!). Then summer went, the mornings are cold and the sun is late, which kind of prevented me from doing my morning run before work. The precious garmin305 is now sitting on the drawer. My technical shirts are now just house shirts, and my runners get to see some light from time to time when I go to our recreation center to meet with my friends to play basketball.

Why am I playing basketball this time? Oh I forgot, we (our church) joined the fall basketball league, and because of my height (and not for anything else), I am part of the team. The other teams have been playing for years on this league and I (and most of my team) haven't touch a basketball for at least a year. That's why we have to practice =) Check out how we were annihilated in our debut game. And so there, the running became casualty, joining photography, agile programming, and book reading.

And then the unexpected. Two weeks ago I had to shoot our friend's wedding. Not just take photos, but I was the official photographer.
Remember? I was doing photography two years ago, (go and read the early part of this post) and they kind of know I have one of those larger than usual digital camera. An SLR, but an entry level one which I won't dare use to shoot a wedding. Though I've been advised two months in advance, I brushed it aside and it didn't really sink in until when I am thinking of what equipment I have to use knowing that the wedding would be a lowlight photography. So I had to buy a new camera and a lens, rent a few more gears and managed to survive my first wedding shoot =) But in the process, I became almost two thousand dollars poorer! Oh and I just finished processing the last of the 600+ images that I shot that day, after hours and hours or RAW conversion, cropping and basic editing.

So ask me what I'm doing now… I'm putting the 2000 bucks to good use, and shooting again. And I have a bigger photography plan this time, so watch out for some breaking news. Also, I might start to update my photoblog again, which have been dead for more than a year. I wonder how this renewed interest would affect the other things that I do. Basketball should be fine for now as the league is still ongoing. Agile programming even have a big chance of being on the chart again as Edmonton .Net Code Camp is coming soon. I get to see and learn from great developers again.

So why am I posting again? Well, someone emailed me and reminded me that I have a blog. And honestly, I didn't remember that I have one! So to the regular bloggers out there, a salute you big time! To you, thanks for emailing me. And keep coming back, ok? If you get bored here, go to where I usually hang out:

Bo Sanchez's Preacher In Blue Jeans
James MacDonald's Awesome Walk in the Word
If you're into running: Ben M Chan's blog will hook you up with fellow runners in Manila
My local user group's Blogging On IT for techie stuffs.
If you're a developer: JP is the man. Dig into the archives! Awesome developer, great speaker, proud Christian!
Have you heard of a real estate bubble? I was thinking about buying a house recently, because of the crazy thing happening in our city (province, actually), and the pressure of being completely priced out. Good thing I didn't sign into a mortgage!
Chromasia and ddoi, two of the best photoblogs out there.

Have a good one!