-a sour soup. a distinct Filipino comfort food for the soul. as unique as its people. as diverse as its culture. a blend of ingredients prepared to its sour perfection, exciting the palate, soothing the nerves, rousing the senses, bringing back memories of scenic greens, warm sun, blue waters, and the solace of home.

Monday, December 31, 2007

Welcome 2008!

Just sharing some snow your way...
am still dressing up my new homepage in Wordpress! It will be up very soon... :-)

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Holiday Cheers... With Food, Food, Food!

What do you most look forward to this Christmas/Holiday? That's the question I asked in my mini poll. Survey says: It's food, food, food! tallied at 66%. Why, am I not surprised?! Food is a major factor in what makes a great holiday! It can make or break the entire occasion!

In the Philippines, we go all out by serving good ham and fine aged cheese and other special foodie. Then there's whole roasted pork or a heavy heaping of roasted calf and some other Filipino delicacies. In the US, well some also have the good ham and special cheese, or the good ol' turkey! (not again, we just had it on Thanksgiving day!) and then a mix of Italian, American, Asian, Mediterranean and other cuisine.

Second o
ff in a tie at 52% is exchange gifts galore and Christmas / year end sales! Hmmm, are we really commercializing even the most glorious of celebrations, the birth of Christ? This is asking the Christians of course, including me! Just a thought to ponder...

And what do you know, the reunion with family comes in only at third with 47%! Priorities, priorities, priorities...

Last but not the least, huh, holiday? what holiday? with 19% of the total votes. Well, Christmas really is a religious Christian holiday and for non-Christians, it is nothing but any other day and for most, just a holiday off away from work. For some, it is just the celebration of the commercial aspect of it. That's nothing to be surprised about.

Like here in America where people are so diverse with different beliefs, it is imperative that everyone has an open mind that not everyone share the same meaning of Christmas as the other. So much so that some States actually have an unwritten law in commercial places like offices and retail stores to NOT greet people you don't know with Merry Christmas so as NOT to offend them but rather, greet them simply with Happy Holidays!

In a Christian nation like the Philippines, it may come almost as a shock to hear that one would be offended when being greeted with Merry Christmas! We almost always assume that everyone is Christian so it's ok to say it. Yet, if we look deeper, if we're not sure if the person we're greeting is a Christian or not- don't you think it is best and polite to simply say: Happy Holidays! instead of Merry Christmas? Just another thought...

On a different note:

Between now and the new year, I will be officially moving my blog to Wordpress, getting my own domain and the works! I'm really getting sick and bored here in Blogger.
I need change. Change should be good.

The shift would be a major challenge for me though as Wordpress is way different than Blogger but I already did it with my other site, The Postcard Collector. What a pain that was! Nonetheless, should be worth it in the long run.

With that said, you might be getting error messages or something like, the page can't be found or something. The new site may even be unreachable. Bear with me. Know that I'm doing my all to make the transition as smooth as possible for me and you. Please come back again and don't be a stranger here! Thanks!

I'd like to leave everyone with a note here :-)

© 2007

Monday, December 17, 2007

Bloggers Unite: Acts of Kindness, 12-17-2007

I've been seeing the campaign for weeks, calling all bloggers to unite for acts of kindness to do offline and blogging about it thru words, pictures or videos. Today, December 17th is the day to tell the world about the good deed done.

I wanted to be a part of it but I wasn't sure until late last week that I was joining because I didn't know what to do. For sure I wanted it to be something meaningful yet something I've never done before.

I attended a Christmas party last weekend and I met someone who belonged to a Filipino non-profit organization here in Massachusetts, Bagong Kulturang Pinoy, Inc. whose main mission is to spread children literacy through books in poverty-stricken areas in the Philippines. Their slogan is: Helping Filipino children read their way out of poverty. The history of the organization is inspiring. It spurred from a simple idea of one person wanting to give something back to her community in the Philippines. From putting up one mini-library, now 10 years later it is supporting 100 libraries (still says 90 on the website) and counting- with 80,000 books sent out each year benefiting thousands of kids who eventually become habitual readers.

I got into real good talking with her and showed my interest about the program. We exchanged contact information and told her that I'm willing to volunteer anytime they need a hand. I got an email on Monday asking me if I wanted to come for Saturday, December 15 to help out. I didn't think twice and said yes right away! I drove for an hour to get to the place, in the cold Saturday and with snow from the days before. I get to the place and spent a very good afternoon with very nice people whom I was meeting for the first time. They took me like a friend and I helped stamping out each book (labeling that it came from here), sorting them out and placing them in the famous, distinctly Filipino Balikbayan boxes (care package).

Having had 'training' in stuffing just about anything to put in my own Balikbayan boxes I sent out each year for my family back home, they commented how good my packing was making sure every inch of space is utilized and not an air left to breathe inside the boxes. They said I was able to put the books that could have gone in three boxes to fit into one! That was an exaggeration I think but I was pleased they were happy with my work.

We finished packing 8 huge boxes containing hundreds of books by the time we were done! The books are going to 6 different mini-libraries in the Philippines and I can imagine how excited the kids will be once they see the various selections we've included on the boxes. This is the kind of thing one would find fulfilling because you can actually see the work in action. You know that every book you donate and ship, kids back home will read and treasure the opportunity because having books in depressed areas in the Philippines is a luxury. It doesn't come by very often.

I went home with an utterly light feeling and with a smile on my face! It feels so good when you're doing an act of kindness especially if it's something not planned and sort of just happened. I never knew such a Filipino organization existed here in Massachusetts. Now, I am hooked! I am going to continue volunteering for this great mission and I promised to visit one of their mini-libraries in the Philippines on my vacation in early 2008 so I could report on its progress. This has truly been an opener. I have been helping in my own little way to give something back to my home country and I just added another one that truly is making a difference in the lives of children in the Philippines. What a way to start my holiday, volunteering and spreading the good cheers around!

Note: I encourage you to visit the Bagong Kulturang Pinoy website to learn more about the organization. Just reading through the different programs and how they're impacting the lives of poor kids in the Philippines is amazing. Perhaps you may even find it uplifting to share some books or make financial contributions. Help is always needed in whatever form. © 2007

Did you blog about Bloggers Unite: Acts of Kindness? Leave your URL here so we can visit your site! Don't forget to leave a note :-)

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Are You a Do Follow Blogger Yet?

I chanced upon the term "do follow" about a month ago and I'm quite surprised that it hasn't really taken off when I found the whole idea 'nonconforming' and even defiant of Google! I embraced the concept instantaneously!

My previous post here has been about my growing discontent with Google in general and Blogger in particular. Google launched the "rel=nofollow" tag in early 2005 to combat spamming in blogs. Major search engines like Yahoo and MSN liked the bit so they followed suit. It was initially seen as a great idea because really, spamming has become uncontrollable at that time.

What is the rel=nofollow tag?

Rel=nofollow according to wikipedia
, "is a non-standard HTML attribute value used to instruct search engines that a hyperlink should not influence the link target's ranking in the search engine's index. It is intended to reduce the effectiveness of certain types of search engine spam, thereby improving the quality of search engine results and preventing spamdexing from occurring in the first place."

Simply put, the rel=nofollow tag aims to blacklist spam comments left on message boards, forums and blogs. Spam comments are comments with no relevance to what the post is all about and is usually just a link URL pointing you to a site selling or promoting something- unfortunately, most sites are of obscene nature. Spammers come in huge numbers and it is a pain to remove the comments one by one when they come by the hundreds in your various posts. Blogs where the comment moderation is turned off are the ones mainly targeted.

Why do spammers love to spam blogs?

The reason is simple. Blogs have a wide, diverse audience and usually has huge content. Most blogs also have strong PageRanks (another Google owned trademark!) and spammers want to benefit from that. When you link with a blog, search engines crawl that link and will consider that link almost as important when attached to a page that has a PageRank. So then when one is searching for something and that blog shows up, most likely that spam comment will show up in search engines as well.

With the rel=nofollow tag attached to a template by default, spam comments WILL NOT be indexed by Google or other search engines thereby will be ignored by the search engines and will have no value at all whatsoever. It render t
he comments totally useless from a search engine's point of view.

Now you see where I am driving at here.

While the objective is firstly seen as a deterrent for spamming, it is not totally beneficial to any blogger who cares about its readers and its blog's ranking because the search engines CAN NOT determine what a spam comment is from a legitimate comment. What it does is totally ignore all comments- legit or not!

With the rel=nofollow tag on, the reader's comments are never included when search engines rank a page's importance. So from the standpoint of PageRanking, the blogger gets nothing from the comment and the commenter gets not
hing back. It's a dead end for both.

Is Do Follow the answer to rel=nofollow?

I strongly believe it is! Do Follow, writes a supporter, "is an action or a step a blogger initiates to remove the attribute rel=”nofollow” in its blog codes, either by installing a plug-in: Wordpress plugin or this Wordpress plugin, or manually for blogspot and for movable type. Most bloggers would refer to it as a campaign or a movement against rel=nofollow."

Google does not prohibit one from removing the nofollow tag. It is therefore a choice we can make. I choose to reward my readers for taking the time to comment on my posts. Personally, I only try to leave comments now to blogs that support Do Follow. We all are busy people and there are millions of blogs out there. It's impossible for us to visit all of these blogs so why not just visit the ones that will also benefit us in some way? I'd like to be able to give that to my readers and perhaps may encourage them to leave a comment knowing that their URL link will be counted by google and other search engines.

I've read that even with the rel=nofollow tag on, spammers are still out there! It doesn't stop them from doing what they're doing. So why not remove the nofollow tag to benefit us and our readers?

Blogs have other ways of fighting spams now like entering a word or sets of letters and numbers before submitting a comment or just having to enter information manually and clicking submit; these are moves a spam-robot can't do automatically hence preventing the spam from occurring. One can also turn on the comments moderation to filter comments before appearing and going live on your site. I like the idea of comment moderation because it gives me control over what's going to be attached to my site before it hits the blogosphere! I have had a small number of spam comments which I'm truly thankful moderation is on since the comments were nothing but objectionable links leading you to lewd sites!

Again, I think every blogger should make a choice and support Do Follow. It's a win-win and the benefits definitely outweigh Google's reason- that of punishing spammers. Why would we punish OUR readers?!

(Now is a great time to become a Do Follow blogger. Rob from Blogs that Follow whom I met on Blog Catalog and MyBloglog and whom I've exchanged a few emails with on the subject, is giving out Grey's Anatomy 2008 calendars to bloggers who become Do Follow supporters! Kindly visit their website to know more about the ongoing promo.)

© 2007

Friday, December 07, 2007

What HaloScan Wouldn't Tell Us! Please Pass!!

Ok, I was just raving about Haloscan on my last post. Now, I am going to rant about them!!

1. They imperceptibly cover the fact that when you install Haloscan, all your old comments will not show and will not be integrated with the new one!

Although the comments are not deleted and still with Blogger, it's not showing! Their excuse,
"Unfortunately HaloScan cannot read the Blogger system to access any of the comments left using the Blogger commenting system. You should be aware of this before installing HaloScan."

No I wasn't aware of it because the stupid warning is located somewhere in their HELP section. Why would I go to Help when they had me sold from their convincing ad upfront and all you can see on your member's page after signing up is this:

Wouldn't they be more credible if they placed the disclaimer just underneath that like: Warning: Please read before installing Haloscan. Even on their Install page itself, a warning or disclaimer couldn't be found! Isn't that trying to be deceptive?

2. Haloscan's annoying solution to the above is a code you can enter that no matter how and where I put it, doesn't work!

I found the code on their forum and there are many versions of it from people trying to find a workaround. So one help leads you to one page, and another goes to another page- until you get dizzy from all the alien codes and confusing instructions.The thing is placing the code VARIES from template to template and the more mashed up your template is, the harder to find where you're supposed to place it! I somewhat fall on that category! I just wasted an hour of my life trying to figure out something that doesn't work on my template!

3. The comments are archived after four months! So you will no longer have access to it beyond that point.

That statement is unclear and vague because I just read that on their forum and Haloscan does not make any formal statement about it which to me is another way of being cunning! This important thing plus the disclaimer should be among the ones you see prior to installing. Of course they won't tell you because they want to draw you in! I feel like a fool!

Some say you won't get access to it BUT it is still there on your comments page. With not being able to access, it just means you can't edit or delete it anymore after such time. BUT then it could also mean that it will be gone forever on your comments page after four months! No one knows for sure because Haloscan evades the question and does not address it formally.

4. They have a $12.00 PER year upgrade which supposedly will help you solve some if not all of the above issues!

Who the heck wants to pay $12.00 a year for something like a comments page? I've got enough bills to shoulder on my internet hobbies- I don't need another annual expense to add!

I am Back to my stinky blogger comments page!

Sob. Sob. Sob. For a while there, I thought I outsmarted Google!!! Haloscan has really some neat features like managing trackbacks and being able to put images on the comments page!! I apologize my dear readers for jumping on a quick solution to my Blogger woes and worse, I encouraged you to do the same!! Please help me disseminate
that this is now: INSTALL HALOSCAN WITH CAUTION. I think it may work for those willing to pay $12.00 for an upgrade and those who are starting to blog- meaning no comments yet to deal with from Blogger.

The good news is: it is also such a breeze to go back to your old template!! I'm assuming when Haloscan asked you to back up your old template that you did!! Please tell me you did because going back to your previous one is so easy!

Go to your Template and then edit HTML. Click Expand widget template.
Upload a template from a file on your hard drive. Browse on the template and hit Upload. Save it and your done!

Cut and paste the new comments you received from Haloscan. Enter manually to the stinky Blogger comments page. You're done.

I AM NOT HAPPY about all these and I am seriously considering moving to Wordpress. Wordpress bloggers seem to be happier bloggers! Perhaps, I'll do that as part of my new year's resolution. My issue on moving is that I have to change URL and resubmit my new URL to the world again!! And then I'd have to figure out Wordpress itself. It seem like a complicated platform and something totally new territory for me! We'll see. Maybe Google will be a little bit better in a month! I doubt it...

Wordpress users, would you tell this Blogger user how easy Wordpress is? I need encouragement! LOL

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Sneaky Google How Could You Do This To Blogger?!

Related Post: What Haloscan Wouldn't Tell Us! Please Pass!!
Update at the end of the article. 11 December 2007
Update at the end of article. 13 December 2007

I've loved Google and all its products from the very beginning. I think they're far superior in Search than any other search engines. When they introduced gmail, I was among the first to use it as a secondary email though I still keep Yahoo!Mail as my primary just because I've used it forever and it's a hassle to shift things.

They developed Picasa- a photo organizing and editing tool and I use it all the time for quick editing of my photos. I have been using their toolbar even before Mozilla Firefox partnered with them as the browser's default search engine! I use Google adsense for all my blogs and sites. I prefer Google checkout when shopping! I love Google Earth and I use YouTube all the time! All my internet surfing and computing involves Google in one way or another. I'm practically a walking ad for them as I always recommend Google products to my non-geek family and friends.

The recent events with Blogger however, makes me rethink if Google actually deserves all my adulation and support! First, Google placed the "rel=nofollow" tag in our templates as default so every comment we get goes nowhere and just dies in our posts- meaning, the links left on the comments page would not be crawled by search engines for page ranking- rendering that comment practically useless to the person commenting! Second, it penalized sites who are doing pay per post and those selling text links in terms of their page rank. I don't do both so I'm not really affected by it. My website is also only 2 months old for me to even vie for a page rank!

AND NOW THIS: Google deviously and cunningly incorporated a new stupid rule they have for commenting on posts using the Blogger platform. They're making commenting almost exclusive to just Blogger readers. Other platform users like Wordpress and LiveJournal would have to contend to leaving their name either as anonymous or nickname that doesn't mean anything because there is no way of entering a URL link. Basically, non-blogger users comment wouldn't amount to anything with this kind of setup. This is discouraging for non-Blogger users obviously and makes receiving comments even harder to come by. And when we Blogger users don't do anything about it, then we probably end up with no more comments at all.

So Sneaky Google just went ahead on their own and started this thing if I'm not mistaken two days ago! Most bloggers haven't noticed this yet to react! Google didn't announce it. What were they thinking? That we users wouldn't care and if we did, just accept it?! I don't really see the logic in this! If someone outside of Blogger leaves me a comment, I wouldn't even know how to contact her back or how to get to her website because she couldn't leave her URL. Google owes bloggers for making them bigger than they already are and we don't deserve these restrictions!

The good news is there IS ALWAYS a workaround just like the "rel=nofollow"!

1. If you don't have a blog yet OR just starting: Get Wordpress!

They're a far better platform than Blogger in all counts! For one Wordpress has very classy, easy on the eyes, neat layouts! I could have chosen Wordpress but I thought I was being loyal to Google. And this is how Google repays me!! Now, it's too late for me to shift. I have gazillion links and widgets and I've submitted my URL to gazillion sites, it's too tedious to redo it all again...

2. Type in your URL on the comments page.

If you're a non Blogger user, make sure to type in your URL when you leave a comment. That way, the Blogger can still contact you or visit your site for reciprocity.

3. Rant, bitch and screw Google on this until they listen us!

They probably won't do anything but at least we let them know that what they're doing stinks! Blog about it! Share it! If you find this article informative or you've read about it here first, I appreciate your link back to this article.

4. Install **HaloScan! A Weblog commenting and trackback service.

This is the best workaround! It saved me and though I've found it by googling, I still hate Google for making me do all the trouble of changing my comments page and searching for it. Don't get me wrong, installing Haloscan was a breeze!! You can customize the look of the page and you can even put an image to it! I had mine installed and working in less than 5 minutes on both this site and The Postcard Collector site. Check out my comment page now and while you're at it, leave a comment for me. You'll see your URL and I have the "rel=nofollow" turned off! You'll sure to be rewarded by commenting on this site and at The Postcard Collector. :-)

Boo boo and thumbs down for you Sneaky Google! How could you?!!

**Author's note: Please read the updated article regarding Haloscan before installing the comments page. I now recommend installing with caution. I'm endorsing: caveat emptor or buyer beware!

UPDATE: As of today, 11 December 2007- we still have not heard from Google what this change in the Comments page is all about. Of late, I have seen some comments page with a drop down menu where you can choose which platform you use and would then require a login to get your ID. I understand this is all part of the move to end spamming- I'm all for that! Never mind if it's a bit of an inconvenience for non-blogger users. This is better than 'anonymous' or 'nickname' and not having any place to put a URL link.

What surprises me is this new drop down feature isn't available to all bloggers yet! I don't see it on either of my two blogs! I wonder if it's because I've mangled my template over and over and so Blogger can't auto-configure it. Maybe it only works for the regular templates. Bottomline, I don't have the new version, I'm dissatisfied with Blogger and I'm still bitchin'!

UPDATE: As of 13 December 2007- Finally Blogger updates it's official blog today after being silent for two weeks. Their latest blog is about the recent change on the comments page which I pointed out over a week ago. If your comments has been set to comment: anyone, then you don't have to do anything with it. To check the settings of your comments, simply go to settings, then comments and from there you will see options on who can comment. Please see photo below.

I will still be on the lookout for more Blogger changes and will rant or rave about it here! I am still undecided if I should shift to wordpress... too much hassle! Sigh.

© 2007

Monday, December 03, 2007

It's Officially Winter in Boston!

Hence, the suffering begins. My suffering anyway.

We had the first snow of the year today. Every time the temperature drops to 0C (32F), it reminds me again why am I still in the coldest part of the East coast? I hate Winter. I hate the cold weather! But Boston is truly a beautiful place to be at in the Spring and the Summer! So goes my cycle and dilemma. In the Winter time, I want to move out of this State! In the Summer time, I don't want to be anywhere else but in Boston.

Today was just a mild snow storm, (a major would be about -20C) but the thing with mild is everything gets iced the next day. You don't wanna walk on ice! I've slipped here and there walking on ice, literally fall flat on my back! That happens when you step on an unsalted area and yeah, when you're as clumsy as I am. You can't let that happen to anybody walking in front of your house because if they break a bone or something, you can get sued! Seriously.

While living in the cold area has its advantages (no flies, rodents, mosquitoes, you don't sweat! food aren't easily spoiled, everything looks extra
nice when covered in snow...) I find more disadvantages to it.

The nights are longer and colder (4pm is like 8pm at night)! Driving is awful and doubly dangerous when caught in a snow storm especially at night. Others like the idea of hiding in layers under one's clothing, not my style! I'm a beach girl! Even with tons of layers, my hands and feet are still icy, my lips chapped, face flushed and since I always forget to wear a hat, my nose and ears- frozen! The air is dry so my nose tends to bleed a little.

Much as I love not sweating, some people think it's all right NOT to take a shower in the Winter. When you're in a crowded and enclosed area like the train or elevator, there's an almost suffocating smell in the air! I think it's also because they think it's all right to wear the same clothing for days since it's still 'clean'. The heating bill is outrageous, you wish you'll just hibernate to skip turning up the heat! In an article from Forbes it mentions the 20 most expensive cities to heat in the United States and Boston ranks first. Oh and did I almost forget to mention that you're responsible for cleaning up your own driveway and dig into the snow to get your car so you can get to work... So you're outside for an hour or so shoveling and clearing up your area especially the sidewalk for people to pass. You can hire someone to clean for only $100.00 each time!

Snow taller than me! The smile is only for the photo op. Believe me, you'll hate winter too!!

Ok, I must admit the first Winter and snow experience were exciting! I felt like a kid who discovered "Neverland." But only lasted a day... I'm miserable in the Winter. Really.

Massachusetts and the East Coast are not really the most popular areas Filipinos would choose to migrate (except perhaps for New York) primarily because of the weather. There are only about 10,000 Filipinos in Massachusetts as opposed to the warmer and always sunny California with over a million Filipino migrants. Yet, the 10,000 seem to love it here because it makes them feel like they belong to the "upper class" (sosyal) as one Filipina I met said to me; While living in California seems like you've never left the Philippines at all because it's too Filipino congested, she further added (meaning what? "lower-class"). I found the comment rather amusing if not shallow and ignorant. I wanted to make a snowman out of her! But I will not rattle on that now.

It's officially Winter in Boston. Let me out of here!

Use Xoom to Send Money to the Philippines
© 2007

Thursday, November 29, 2007

7 Things You Don't Know About Me

I'm not much of a gut spiller online,
I'd rather prefer what privacy I have left intact. I do share some here and there in my posts, and every once in a while I hide behind my poetry and fiction stories- real and fabled colliding. Still I would neither deny nor admit I'm that character or this character. Up to you to conclude and the twist may be, that you're amiss!

Memes and tagging seem to be the trend for personal bloggers who want to be intimate with their readers. I dread that because it entails giving away inner thoughts; yet the hardest seem to be telling the whole world specific facts and current personal information about oneself. I'd rather hide!

To me that raises a red flag. I've encountered personal blogs who practically share every vital statistics about them that it is so easy to track them down, they just might as well hand in their wallets! They're practically inviting would be stalkers and online identity theives. I hate to break the party, I'm just saying there are unscrupulous invididuals who make us their easy target based on what we say alone in our blogs!

Nonetheless, I somehow knew it was only a matter of time when someone would in fact tag me! Though it gave me a headache as to what I should reveal (or not!), I'm most happy to oblige in this exercise just because the Pinay Dreamer, one of my fave blog neighbors tagged me. This person is passionate at what she does. A blogger who is as super a mom and a wifey as she is a prolific writer and an expert wakeboarder all in one cool packaging!

She wants me to reveal seven things YOU readers don't know about me! Fair enough. I think that I could share general pieces of me without inviting trouble to myself. Or am I just being too paranoid? I'd say cautious... :-)

1. I belong to the 10% of the adult population who are southpaw or leftie.

I remember how difficult it was for me growing up as one. Although I wasn't forced, I was strongly encouraged to write with my right hand. Arm chairs for lefties were non-existent at that time. Tools are always designed for right-handed people. Try cutting paper with your left hand with a right handed scissor! I get confused even now, following directions where a right handed person shows me how to do things and I have to do it with my left! I wouldn't trade it to be right-handed though! Being a minority leftie is somewhat unique!

2. I have a terrible body clock.

My brain starts to work at midnight. I'm half-dead at daytime. On normal days, I sleep at 3am. On weekends, I could stay up til 7am and get up after five hours sleep or I could sleep in as much as 12 hours and miss an entire day then only to be awake the entire night until it's daylight! When I'm out, I'm out like a light! Noise, light or any commotion don't bother me. So I don't hear the alarm. On important appointments, I'd have 4 alarm clocks running on snooze and still ask someone to call me or be there just to give me a nudge- perhaps throw a bucket of cold water on me! I don't sleep on normal hours but put me in anything that moves: bus, car, train, plane, motorcycle, I'd be sleeping in 5 minutes anytime of the day with my mouth open and head banging all over the place!

3. I like animals but only if they're not mine!

I don't like the responsiblity that goes with taking care of them. I used to have lotsa hamster as a kid and loved them but someone would always attend to it after I'm done petting them. The same is true with kids right? you adore them, only when they're not yours! haha! Oh sure, I'd love to have kids of my own someday- I just hope I can petition my fave nanny here to the US. If not, there's always grandma! Ok, Ok I love kids and I'm going to be hands-on with them! Kids are different, you nurture and love them and they respond with such warmth and joy and they can talk! All the pressures and heavy load gone just seeing them smile. For now, I love my nieces to death!!

Cats are as popular of a pet as dogs are in America. I'm sorry but I don't like cats- whatever kind (maybe Puss in Shrek, that's it!). Perhaps it is cultural because in the Philippines, they aren't really considered house pets. I hate crawling animals, insects, amphibians and reptiles with a passion! So goes without saying, I shriek at the very thought of even seeing any kind of snake or a toad! To touch it would be even worse! Eeewwww!! (Sorry Ivy, I don't think I could go near Sedira!)

4. My first ever real paid job brought me many firsts.

First time to be out of the country. First time to live alone at age 22 for close to six months of training for an Editorial Assistant job in Tokyo, Japan. First real heartbreak! I broke up with my boyfriend of 3 years before I left the Philippines. First paycheck. First time to really cook- ate a lot of canned food, eggs, and instant ramen noodles-- I found out, it wasn't so bad for breakfast! First time to do household chores but with such great amenities and conveniences! First time to mingle with other culture. First taste of living in a rich, high-tech, first world nation and with such loving, kind and warm people. First international friendships. First sake (japanese wine). First Winter and Spring. First time to see Tokyo Disneyland! More firsts that I can't tell you about...! ;-)

5. I suck in Math! I have a poor memory when it comes to names and faces too!

It has put me in embarrassing situations where up to the end of the meeting, I was still second-guesing who that person was! Not good at all! Anything to do with math and numbers, expect me to stare at you blankly. I'm bad with dates, where my keys are or what I did or ate 2 days ago! Phone numbers? I don't even know mine! My notebook is my lifeline- I put every important factoids and numbers in it!

6. I hate public speaking and I have the so-called stage fright.

I think I'm a better writer than a speaker anyway. I prefer behind-the-scene work away from the limelight. So I'm a frustrated, aspiring, budding, wishful, striving writer. No one in my family writes so I could very well believe in the cliche, writers are not born, they're made. I don't have any writing background. I basically taught myself to write by constant reading and loving the english language.

I came from a small town in the islands of Mindanao, Philippines where I finished grade school. I moved to the big city of Manila for high school and I wanted so much to join the school paper but I didn't have the confidence to apply! I was so intimidated by my new school! I sent anonymous poetry and articles and they published it!

I finally joined the school paper in college and was unwittingly good at it. I became a contributor, a section editor then eventually became editor-in-chief for the paper for 2 school years on top of becoming editor-in-chief of the school's official yearbook. I also once worked closely for our Hometown Mayor, handling press releases, speeches (ghost writing), and the like. Not so bad for a self-taught writer, eh?!

7. I have a 4-inch scar on my bikini line from a near-death ruptured appendix!

It happened Christmas Eve some years back. I was in so much pain yet I thought I just over ate from all the Nochebuena (good night) eating! Went to the hospital that night and was (mis)diagnosed as that, having a bad case of indigestion by some kid intern. I woke up with worse pain and feeling very weak, had blood in my urine and thought I was gonna die! I was brought to the hospital again and immediately the more experienced doctor knew what it was and called for a stat operation! Dang, had it been here in the US- it would have been a major lawsuit! We could have sued the hospital but we didn't! Oh yes, I still wear a two-piece bikini every Summer!

Note: If you have localized pain on the lower right side of the abdomen that does not go away, have it checked at once! Appendicitis is such a quick and easy surgical procedure when diagnosed early and if caught in time will only render a small scar of less than an inch not 4 inches!


There goes the seven things. Now you know! I would like to pass this on to:

Vienne, the 1. Eavesdropwriter, whose blog is another favorite! Her writings are always oh so compelling, inspiring and thought provoking! Michelle, the genius behind 2. Comics-Mix and Prolonged Absence. I'd love to see the 7 things about you in drawing with your usual witty quips and anecdotes! (if that's not asking too much, lol). Louisa, the blogger behind 3. My Emotional Recycle Bin, whose quips and take on things and life is an interesting read. 4. Techie Girl whose Techology info site and Easy Life Guide brings current and relevant articles and reviews for tech and gadget savvy! Ding's strong web presence in: 5. Inkblots and Viewpoint are always a marvel to see and read. 6. Malawika, who posts about blogging, making money online, SEO and more but hopefully will share some personal things we don't know about!! 7. Zen Bitch Speaks whose posts and poetry are always delightful and sublime!

Well, you guys have just been tagged! It's now your turn to pass on the headache as well... Do tell!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Black Friday in Retrospect

Thanksgiving Day 2007 in pictures

I was telling you guys about how great Black Friday is having crazily participated for 4 years. However, this year I've noticed a HUGE change which may impact my attendance next year! The consumers have changed the rules and it's beyond my comprehension! After Thanksgiving Dinner around 8pm, I decided for kicks to stop by the shopping area even though I know all the stores are **closed, just to confirm the chitchats during the party that as early as noon, people are setting up tents outside the store to camp out!

Thanksgiving Day 2007: Circuit City @ 8:00pm

@ 2:30 am!! The First group in line. I hate you guys!! Lol

Black Friday madness continues...

To my horror, there were in fact tents by the side of the store!! All of a sudden the shopping mall looked like a camping ground or more like a place where homeless people go. So it was true, the first group on the line were guarding their spot since noon! One was buying a 50" LCD HDTV and the other, a 32" which would save them about $500. The other, the $300 laptop I was also eyeing! There were about 20 tents there and about 50 people. They gave up their traditional Thanksgiving holiday to sit out in the cold and wait 17 hours.

Circuit City @ 3:00 am: Camping out for Black Friday Sale

The line stretches out to 8 stores and counting...

I went home quite disappointed yet resigned to the fact that I am not going to get that notebook I was gonna give to my sister. I spent my night looking for good stuff online, bought some and even managed to watch a movie and then it was time to head to the store at 2:30 in the morning. I am crazy for still going out as early as I did but I've waited 4 hours for a standing only tickets for the musical Jersey Boys in New york, I can handle 2 and a half hours easy. I'm just NOT going to wait 17 hours! Though I did not sleep through out the night, I was warm and cozy at home and I get to do other stuff- beats lying on a cold pavement, staring at a nylon tent.

The Best Buy Line @ 4:00 am. Am not sure why Best Buy draws this kind of line when only the first 20
or 30 people actually get the better stuff. The rest are so-so...

Overall, I'm still pretty happy with my finds! I bought a colored laser printer for $120 (originally $250), 2 500GB external hard drive for $100 each (was $180 each), Magellan GPS for $125.00 (regular tag $300.00), DVD TV sets for $12.00 ($50.00 tag), DVD-Rs for 5 bucks (from $30), Belkin hubs for $6.00 (from $30). I'm still on the look out for a good Laptop price and I will continue till Monday for another major sale, this time exclusive from online retailers which they dub as CyberMonday. If you're interested to check out prices on specific items or to buy, I suggest Amazon, Circuit City, Staples, Officemax and CompUsa. Those are the sites I usually visit!

How far are you willing to go to get an item at the price you want on Black Fridays? Would you miss the special holiday, skip meeting family, instead camp out and spend a cold night outside the store? Or are you going to get a good meal in, have small talks with family, and stay home surfing for finds online in your pjs? What's worth your while? How much does your time cost? When you break it down to say the $500.00 saving for a TV- their waiting time costs about $30.00 an hour. I guess if you're earning $10.00 an hour in your day job- 17 hours certainly is worth your time! As for me, maybe I'll give it one more try next year. I will not skip Black Friday but I am NOT spending 17 hours for it plus about 8 hours of shopping. I realized that night, I maybe a shopaholic but I am not that desperate for a bargain...

*The only 2 days ALL the stores are closed in America are Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day, no Holy Week holidays.

© 2007

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Of Black Friday, Thanksgiving and Turkey

Black Friday.

When I moved to the United States I had no clue what Black Friday meant. As born and raised catholic, I only know of Black Saturday the day after Jesus' death; and Good Friday for the day of Jesus' passion and death. So when I came across the term I was like, there's a Holy Day in November?!

Goodness, I got all hyped up and excited upon learning what it meant! Black Friday is THE day after Thanksgiving. It's not any other day. It's THE day of all days! It's the biggest, craziest sale of the year! It beats even the Christmas or year-end sales! Shopping galore to the max! This is when Christmas shopping officially starts. It's when retailers and manufacturers give their big thank you's to consumers by practically giving away their stuff! And when I say giving it away, I'm not kidding! The items are so cheap it's unbelievable!

current Circuit City ad, Black Friday 2007

I almost never pay for my rewritable DVDs and CDs because I buy them on Black Friday and get it free after the rebate and most stores allow you to buy up to 10 units of the 50-packs (that's 500 pieces of DVDs! All you can burn movies and mp3s!). Headsets? Webcams? you get branded ones like logitechs for free after rebate or as cheap as $5.00! Memory cards? same! 1GB of SD for $2.99! Digital cameras? half the price plus free printers! Printers by itself, free after rebate! Notebooks? an intel-core duo Compaq with everything on it for $300 after rebate plus Vista original OS, free anti-virus software, free printer and free router (marked price at $800)! Mp3 players? 30-50% off! GPS for more than half the price! DVD movies for only $3-5 each! Boxed set DVDs like House, MD for 12 bucks (regular price $50.00)! Notice how I'm only talking about electronics and gadgets? Well that's all you should be concentrating at because clothes are always on sale and sells for cheap anytime of the year. So I don't even bother to go clothes shopping. Circuit City and Staples are my main stores for this. They're pretty great with their inventory. Radioshack is ok. Best Buy? Forget it! They're ridiculous with their set-up like you need a ticket to get an item. Their sale items are so limited that even if you go there early, you still get out empty-handed. Not worth your time.

current ad, Staples Black Friday 2007

Of course almost every one in the 50 states are already planning and scheming their moves for Black Friday as early as last Monday. I have been. You can't go to the stores unprepared or you'll get nothing! The night before, you should have finished that list or encircled the ones you want from the store ad. To get the most of the sale, you have to be relentless, rude and aggressive like everybody else. Forget manners and decorum because even the most elegant of all shoppers let their hair down on this day and become vultures! You don't think, you just grab and put the items on your cart. You can't leave your cart unattended for people will take your items from your cart if you're not watching! You don't linger in the store; you pay for your items, get out as fast as you can and head to the next store! Time is of the essence! The thing with Black Friday is the sale for major items are timed and they call it doorbuster prices! When I first got here, some store offer it between 7am-11am, then the next year, it was 6am-10am and then now it's 5am-10am! To get the major items like the laptop I was talking about, you have to be among the first people in the line- like the first 20! If the store opens at 5am, that means you have to be outside the store by 2 in the morning! It's that crazy! People camped out overnight to get the xbox 360 when the latest version came out this year or when the apple iphone was introduced to the stores.
...to get the most of the sale you have to be relentless, rude and aggressive likeeverybody else...

Last year, Compusa started their Black Friday on Thanksgiving night at 9pm-12mn (They have great sales too, unfortunately the store near me closed! The nearest store is 2 hours drive! So it's not on my list this year). After the thanksgiving party, people head out to the store. I was outside Compusa at 7pm along with hundreds already lined up waiting for the doors to open. It was dark, raining, freezing cold and we were all wet yet nobody seemed to mind. By the time I got home, it was almost midnight. Then I started my online shopping trying to get deals from Amazon and others! At 3am, I start to head out the door to get to Circuit City! Did I mention sleep? Oh no, you don't get to sleep on the biggest day of the year! After being awake for more than 24 hours since thanksgiving day, I was beat up by noon time and I was done. Then I slept. Only to do it all over again the next day if you still have energy or money left! Most stores offer 2-day sales but Saturdays sales are usually so-so that I just skip that altogether and look for more online finds instead.

That's what Black Friday is. To know the history behind the term, go wiki it here.


What can I say other than the first Thanksgiving Day was celebrated here in Massachusetts in 1621?! Thanksgiving Day is basically a day to give thanks for what one has at the end of the harvest season in preparation for winter. It is an annual holiday exclusive to United States and Canada (Canada celebrates it every October). Over the years, it has become a solemn tradition for families to come together in a formal dinner to thank each other and talk about good times. It's usually a reunion of sorts for families who are scattered around the US.

I'm sorry but sometimes I couldn't relate to it because I find it a personal matter. You have to grow up in the United States to feel its impact. I don't have my family with me and I feel like a stranger amidst the people I'm eating with during that formal dinner. And I have to do it again during Christmas day. Perhaps I could compare it to our way of 'celebrating' All Soul's Day and All Saint's Day where we, Filipinos usually take the occasion to reunite with families and give respect to those who came before us. Come to think of it, it's one of our biggest holidays in the Philippines, when offices close down from Oct 31 to Nov 2nd sometimes up to 4 days off! They don't celebrate Nov. 1 and 2 here like we do. It's an ordinary day for Americans and it just passes like nothing.

We have lots of celebrations in the Philippines and being thankful to family and what you have is always part of it. We don't have a day for it but we make every opportunity a thank you day! Hence, I can't relate to Thanksgiving Day yet living here I'm sort of forced to...


A whole oven-baked turkey is the traditional food prepared on Thanksgiving Day with cranberry sauce (I don't even like cranberry sauce!), stuffing (pass), gravy and mashed potato. Could I have white rice with Mang Tomas (pork liver gravy sauce for lechon, a roasted pig) instead?! And I don't even really like turkey! I find chicken better in terms of taste and meat. Turkey has tryptophan (an amino-acid that induces drowsiness) so high, it really makes you drowsy and fall asleep after eating. What I want is lechon! Yeah, cholesterol, bring it on! Why turkey? I don't know, same reason as I don't know why Filipinos love lechon! Google it! What I know is millions of turkey are served every year just as millions of pigs are roasted all through out the year in the Philippines.

Now you know the order of the title was according to its importance to me. Excuse me if I find Thanksgiving Day more commercial than its significance. My name is Mae and I'm a shopaholic! I haven't been sober in 365 days... Happy Black Friday everyone!
© 2007

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Show Off Your Blog, Send a Postcard!

send a postcard just like this one. get creative. the sky is the limit! the address is real; that's where you'll be sending out your postcards. snail mail meets the internet age!

This is my shout-out to all of you my visiting readers. I have a new project I'm currently working on over at The Poscard Collector. The idea is pretty simple and easy to accomplish. Simply send a postcard with your blog name and URL on it. If you got time and space, you may write more like what the blog is all about or any message to the world wide web!

If you are a postcard collector, we can exchange postcards! If you are a blogger, I will feature and link your blog to mine! Be part of what could turn into something substantial later. The Postcard Collector is two-weeks old and already it has drawn a lot of hits more than this month old blog! Oh and I didn't even mention that in the spirit of fun and surprises, I'm giving out $5.00 via paypal to the first 10 people to send a postcard. In 25 postcards increment, I will give $5.00 to the 25th, 50th, 75th and so on postcard I receive. As long as I'm getting postcards, I will keep sending that $5.00! There are restrictions and 'rules' as in all projects, please go over the site now to read more... See you at the other side! :-)

Note: The picture of the Sinigang collage on the postcard is lifted from the food writings of Umami blog. All photo credit goes to the author. Check out his site for mouth-watering, appetizing dishes! This will lead you to his main blog.

Your Photos on Real Postage
© 2007

Saturday, November 10, 2007

The Power to Heal

The current mini mock poll is over and I asked the super question: If you could have superpower(s), what would it be? Top three result says: 60% want the ability to time travel, 46% want superhuman strength and 70% want the ability to heal. I'm surprised almost nobody wants to have x-ray vision (9%) and the ability to fly (12%). The power to be invisible didn't do too bad at 21%.

As a child I've always been fascinated with anything super (who wouldn't?): superpowers, superheroes, supernatural events and at some point, (super)aliens! Once I saw E.T., I wanted to meet an alien. I was sold that they're friendly, loyal, highly intelligent and if I befriend them long enough, they would give me my heart's desire! Of course that never happened and I grow up and life just threw me disappointments, failures and frustrations. Life without E.T. on it.

Superheroes are another thing. Thanks to comic books and movies, it's safe to assume that we all want to be a superhero! The success of Superman, Batman and the Superfriends isn't because they're who they are but because we all want to be like them, so we follow their story. Their triumphs in the make believe world is our triumphs in the reality we live in.

The idea of having the power to be has always been there with me. No, I've never dreamed of having the power to rule the world but the idea of having the power to heal would be like the biggest thing ever to happen in the history of mankind. The "superhealer" will be bigger than any superhero that came before, bigger than Superman or Batman combined!

In Catholicism there is one such healer named JC but He lived thousands of years ago before the world even actually begun to live. Others have followed and they call themselves faith healers. I am a skeptic towards that because most often, one isn't healed by simply believing. One can't really be totally, physically cured by faith alone. Faith healers can not heal cancer or AIDS for example. I can believe in miracles but they're a rarity.

There are far too many sickness in this world that needs healing. The "superhealer" if there exist to be one will be the ultimate panacea. Time is slipping away for all of us. We need a new superhero! The world needs a superhealer, and fast!

Bid, Buy or Sell on eBay!
© 2007