Thursday, July 29, 2010

I Iz Teh Awsum. I Iz In Yur Skoolz, Dopin Yur Kidz

Somebody put up a complaint about me on

I'm a drug dealer now. How cool. Can somebody complain that I'm a member of the MILF too?

(Screen shot for posterity as I doubt — against hope — that the "complaint" will stay up too long.)

UPDATE: I put up my own complaint...

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Daily Report: Good Eating, Good Viewing

Younger sister Ednel is having a great time at culinary school, and she is without doubt learning a lot more than I would have given the little fledgling culinary program credit for. Plus, I'm learning, Ednel has a bit of natural talent.

(For those of you interested in joining The Culinary Institute of Cagayan De Oro, they are located on Facebook. It is an 8-month weekend program with a monthly tuition of 6,500 pisos plus books and other fees.)

For lunch, Ednel served up some barely-battered Cream Dory fish fillets, served with a garlic ranch sauce.

For dinner, I challenged Ednel to cook something using chicken and pineapple. She invented curry. She had never heard of, nor tasted a curry before, and the ingredients she used in making her dish were nothing like how a "real" curry is made, but the taste was very similar... therefore, I can say that she "invented" it.

I like to think that I'm as helpful in teaching Ednel as her professors at school are. I'm teaching Ednel the difference between being a cook and being a chef: A cook starts off with a recipe and ends up with a meal. A chef starts off with ingredients and ends up with a recipe. I give Ednel the ingredients and see what she can do with them.

I've been watching Star Trek Deep Space Nine on DVD. I have only seen most of these episodes once, over a decade ago. I forgot how enjoyable a show it was: Unlike The Next Generation, this series did a great job of developing characters with many shades of gray and spending lots of time on their stories, their motivations, and their skills of manipulation and debate. Quark is a fantastic character: Shrewd, cowardly, honorable, dishonest, and entirely consistent within his own set of values. Garak the tailor is another: Affable, friendly, evil, reliable, yet always self-serving. Fantastic television. DS9 is really an underrated Star Trek series: In terms of character development and fleshing out of the "Star Trek world", it is actually the best Star Trek series.

I've also been watching The Tudors, which Simon brought with him from Thailand. Now that I've finished Rutherfurd's books, "The Forest" (a history of Hampshire), "Sarum" (a history of Salisbury), and "London", I'm quickly becoming an English history wonk. The Tudors is a highly-focused look at the court of Henry VIII (one of England's worst yet most important monarchs). It is stunning, startling, and — except for minor plot details — fiercely faithful to the historical record, and the writers use the "unknowns, blanks, and guesses" in that record to create fantastic drama. My recommendation: Watch the show with your laptop nearby to Google various things you see and hear to get more information and educate yourself fully.

It has been raining regularly here. Tyson is a pain because he likes to wander in and out of the house pretty regularly: First hanging out with me and waiting for attention and food scraps, then going out to the fence to say hello to his canine friends who wander up and down the street. By the end of the evening, the wet ground outside makes wet paw prints on the floor tiles by the door. Closing the doors blocks the cool breeze and causes Tyson to have a fit, and it only takes a minute to mop up the paw prints, so I just let him do his thing.

Daily Report: Excelsior

Since the arrival of my new computer, I have been experiencing the biggest upswing in my work performance in years. Back in March of 2007, my company lost the account I had been working on, and that knocked my production down by about 10%. Then in October of 2007, my company introduced a new software which knocked another 20% off my production. Finally, in December of 2007, my company introduced the voice recognition software which knocked my production down a final 20%.

The change was about 50% mechanical and 50% mental. But all in all, I went from earning about $35 per hour to earning $15 per hour... working 21-24 hours per week. I increased the amount of work I did (up to about 28 hours per week... the most I could do at this mind-numbing job), but my pay was still cut in half. It was the first time in my life that my income had taken a step (and what a step it was) backwards. Mentally, therefore, the odium of this perceived disequilibrium I carried to my desk every day was a big burden.

Three things changed recently.

First, I got tired of being broke all the time. The Philippines (and Jasaan in particular) is an inexpensive place to live, but even so, $300 per week doesn't go far. Sitting there looking at broken appliances that I couldn't afford to replace, business opportunities I couldn't afford to follow, days off and vacations I couldn't afford to take, gifts I couldn't afford to give, debts and bills I couldn't afford to pay, and savings I couldn't afford to accumulate... I finally started blaming myself instead of my job.

Second, I learned the work discipline I needed. Before the collapse of my production, I could arbitrarily take an afternoon off, or sleep in and get started late. This was because it was a simple matter of making up the lost work on those days where I didn't goof off. I had now found myself in a situation where the best days of work only amounted to what used to be one of my "goof off" days. Make-ups, I concluded, are no longer possible. Now, I look at each day as a make-or-break moment for the paycheck that it goes in to, and treat it as such. I schedule at least 4 hours of work before I allow myself to have lunch, and then use whatever energy I have left over (I've always been the worst "post-lunch-break worker") to put together a final push in the afternoon.

Third, and most importantly, I finally learned how to do my job with all of the new changes more effectively. I've learned to focus my attention more than before, learned to bump up the speed more, and learned to listen more effectively.

While the combination of all of these things above means that I am only back to where I was 7 or 8 years ago, it is such a huge step from the depths to which I had sunk over the last 30 months, that I really view it as a personal miracle.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Daily Report: Walk Through The Valley

Daily Report: Indiscriminate Picture Dump

Here's some extra photos lying around that I should put up.

Warren and Jen

Me and Epril

Simon and Charity

Sun shower with rainbow.

Epril went to the beach with her friends.