Birthday Weekend

The recently concluded weekend breaks routine. On Saturday, with wifey and Marcus, I attended the 7th birthday party of my officemate’s daughter. It was a good way to meet some of my colleagues away from the confines of the office, it was just about (fast)food and fun. Thanks to Jollibee and the party’s Hello Kitty theme, it erased for a moment the pressure of the Friday that was.

Every time we attend a Jollibee party, however, it reaffirms Marcus’ dying admiration of its mascot. Just like any Filipino kid, he once used to go crazy at the mere mention of meeting the famous red and yellow bee. He was once a big fan that he can even identify the store’s illuminated signs the instance he sees any of it from afar and it is usually when he would excitedly shout ‘Jollibee’ in gibberish. He was less than a year old then. But wifey and I now have observed that Jollibee parties for Marcus mean just parties with free food and loot bags. Period. In the past couple of years, whenever we talk about kiddie birthday celebrations, Marcus would strongly express that he prefers McDonald’s. Or Pizza Hut. Well maybe leaning more on Pizza Hut because lately he loves singing the pizza chain’s ‘making it great’ jingle.

The next day was entirely different. No balloons, no loud music, no screaming kids. On Sunday, we found ourselves at my MBA classmate’s place somewhere near Nuvali. It was a good time to re-connect and chat again after three years since I last met her. (Great house by the way.)

In both days, I am pleased that we successfully skipped the malls—we easily convinced our son to be home after each event. I now wonder if Marcus has started getting bored being inside these places? Has he become more fond of his Call of Duty Xbox game? Or has he begun to know the last-stretch-before-payday feeling? I think I have an idea.

 ***

Happy birthday again Keih and Anna. Thanks for inviting us. Until next time.

***

Mood: 2/10 Honks! (Still stuffed. Need to lift weights later.)

Golden Kuhol and MBA

The good thing about having US-based customers is that people in the call center industry who support them also enjoy a time off whenever there is an American holiday. So yesterday we did not waste the precious non-working day and spent it mall hopping. It was a day I never thought would bring back so much personal memories.

Our first stop is the farthest among our itinerary and it is for a lunch we planned since last year–our ever favorite Japanese food dine out. The Dad’s buffet routine went like the ones we had in the past—get plate, pick food, eat, get another plate pick food, eat. But the golden kuhol did the least expected. As I remind my son that these are the same snails Jack of Oggy and the Cockroaches cooked, my mind opened up another stored story.

It was sometime around the ‘90’s when I, with two other friends, had a scary experience because of our fondness for these golden snails. We were picking live kuhol from a rice field on a very sunny noon when all of a sudden we heard someone shout from afar. It was an old man who immediately sprinted towards us. Surprised, our adrenalin kicked in but despite our best effort to make a dash across makahiya-filled grounds, we got caught as others heed the call of the old man for help. My friend (the other escaped) and I soon learned—too late—that we have trespassed a private area which we have been frequenting to get the abundant kuhols in the rice paddies. Thankfully, the folks ruled out detaining us in the nearby police station—they must have realized that we are minors—and instead dropped us off at home before dinner time. Ulam was not kuhol, by the way.

***

A couple of minutes after the crossover buffet lunch in Megamall, we headed to Rockwell in Makati to claim my 2011 SY yearbook in AGSB and also to give wifey and Marcus time to window shop in the Power Plant Mall. And like my other visits in this posh place, just being around–without even spending a buck except for parking–makes me thank heavens for giving me the opportunity and support to endure two years of MBA education. God must have a plan after all with the lessons and experiences he gave me from a lowly kuhol to a pricey MBA degree.

***

Our supposedly last stop on our list is SM Aura. It is new, it is beautiful but I was not impressed. In spite of its extraordinary shape, a far cry from the boxy SM malls, I find its interior dark and its atrium area a bit tight compared with other malls. Well, since it opened only last May 17, I would expect that they can address the illumination issue (I saw several unlit fixtures) soon but definitely everyone needs to get slimmer if they hate literally rubbing elbows with the crowd.

However, if there’s one thing that I love about SM Aura, is its parking—even if it reminds me of the other day’s Instagram pics showing the basement parking partly flooded due to sudden downpour—because it has a direct exit to C5. And I know Marcus also benefited from this since after finding no Filbars store in the mall I made a deal with him that we would only drop by Festival Mall to buy el cheapo Ninjago substitutes if we don’t get stuck in traffic. And true enough, C5 gave us a quick getaway and we ended up reaching Alabang in no time. That makes it four malls in one Memorial Day time off.

Memorial Day time off. (Clockwise from top left): 1. Marcus’ first mallows on stick of the day–he finished about five among others; 2. Wifey and Marcus; 3. Marcus thrilled that one of the cinemas still shows Iron Man 3–he’s a big fan; 4. Inside SM Aura.

***

Mood: 2/10 Honks! (Still stuffed.)

The World Has Ended

Are you one of those people who got panicky when the year 2012 started because you know that this is the year when the dreaded doomsday is set to happen? Well, I hate to break this to you but the world has ended already – at least it is what should have happened had some genius did not correct the calendar about 400 years ago and with the assumption that the popular ancient Mayan December 21, 2012 doomsday prediction is correct.

Let’s all rejoice now, however, and accept that 2013 and all the annual routines are coming, like it or not, because like damage control done by some analysts the moment they see that what they once have strongly forecasted are starting to go the opposite directions, I am now starting to see more articles about why the Mayan doomsday might not actually take place this 2012. One good reference I have is from one of my old textbooks which I brought with me to kill time inside a bank whose tag line is ‘We Find Ways’ but so far haven’t found the way to fix its ever long queue (but it is another long and sad story). Pages 58-59 of the book Heroic Leadership by Chris Lowney, has this very interesting information — which I read while standing in line for about an hour:

…By the sixteenth century, Easter Sunday was slowly but inexorably migrating toward Christmas.

Pope Gregory XIII asked Clavius to head a commission investigating the increasingly embarrassing problem. What was going wrong with the calendar? As it turned out, the actual solar year was shorter – 674 seconds shorter…What’s 674 seconds? Not much in a year, but problematic once compounded over centuries…

…In order to undo more than a millennium of compounded damage…Clavius’s commission had Pope Gregory XIII proclaim that in the year of 1582 the day after October 4 would be October 15. Even loyal Catholics had cause to grumble: their lives have been shorted by nearly two weeks.

I have actually underlined these while reading the book back in 2009 just because it tells about the origin why we now have the leap year and that’s it. Besides, during that time when I was still studying TSLEADER subject (under Prof. Lino Rivera who is currently DepEd Undersecretary) I haven’t even heard about any doomsday movie nor news about the end of the world other than what is written in the Revelation. But blame the movie 2012 and the hype surrounding it, December 21, 2012 became the dreaded D-day. Thankfully, as the abovementioned excerpt presents — if (and only if) the ancient Mayans indeed state the date December 21, 2012 in their prediction but failed to factor in the flaw that Clavius eventually corrected — the most feared December 21 has already past.

Yes, I know the feeling. No more modern Noah’s Ark, no more earthquakes of catastrophic proportion that will cause us to jump across gaping cracks on the ground, and the show Doomsday Preppers suddenly turns funny if not totally ridiculous. But who knows?

***

Mood: 2/10 Honks! (Friday afternoon. Watching TV with Marcus. Wifey still on her long siesta.)

Humbled by the ROI

 

During yesterday’s Management Accounting class, when our professor said, “Class, just a reminder, make sure that by the time your reach your STRAMA defense, you should already know what an ROI is all about.” He then added, “…because if you don’t, it’s either you are bobo (dumb) or your teacher was.” I was amazed at the remark but at the same time smiling because I was telling myself, “ROI lang pala…I’ve been dealing with it for years when I was at work.” That smile though was short-lived.

Trying to check if someone can at least explain what an ROI is, the professor asked the class. I confidently raised my hand and said something like, “…well, it’s a sort of measurement to justify if a project is feasible or not and when the a money invested into it will…” I was cut short by our professor, this time he’s the one smiling.

He explained that ROI (or Return on Investment) is a debatable indicator, thus should be avoided, in business and that it is more appropriate and more meaningful if an accountant would rather present using ROE (Return on Equity) or ROA (Return on Asset) just so to be exact of what is being actually measured. But whichever one prefers to use, ROI, ROE or ROA, none of these is presented using time as its resulting unit but rather in percentage. 

Feeling uneasy about it, I approached him during our break time and I explained that to justify a project at work, we are usually asked to have an ROI of three years, for example. Eager to make me understand, he said that the correct term for such measurement is payback and not ROI. And after showing to me the difference between payback and ROI, I was enlightened…and humbled. Man, it really sucks to relearn, huh?

 

***

Tonight, I did my own research and true enough, he was right. Check these links:

http://www.valuebasedmanagement.net/methods_roi.html

http://www.bnet.com/2410-13240_23-66470.html

***

 

Mood: 3/10 Honks!

 

Fast

 

It’s just two and half, and yet almost everything has happened so fast.

Friday. We went to the beach – it was Marcus’ first. The weather was crazy as it was forecasted to be one hot sunny day. It indeed looked like it in the morning but just before we left the weather changed. It shifted from sunny to gloomy. Fast.

We pushed through anyway. And just more than an hour later we were at Munting Buhangin beach in Nasugbu, Batangas – 80 km. away from home. Quite fast considering I was driving defensively. It may be because of the well paved road – at least just before Munting Buhangin where it was muddy, rocky, and steep. Or it may be because I was expecting that some of my colleagues are already waiting for me. They weren’t.

With the absence of the group, lunch wasn’t what I expected it to be but I still had a good time – with just the three of us. Watching our little baby frolic on the sand and being with him to enjoy his first dip in the water is just worth every time.

We left just a couple of minutes after my colleagues and bosses started arriving. They’re staying overnight. As much as I wanted, I just can’t. I have an exam the following day.

Saturday. I was up very early in the morning and this time I wasn’t blogging. I was preparing to leave for Ateneo Rockwell.

By 7:45 am I was in a room sitting with a group of serious looking men and women. We’re all taking the entrance exam for Masters in Business Administration course.

The exam was in two parts. Part I was English and math. I think I did well in English. But I think I did otherwise in math. Part II was very new to me. I never had such exam before and interesting as it may seem, it was one hard, migraine-inducing 100-item 40-minute test. I never noticed the time. It flew so fast. Results will be on Monday. I’m not expecting to pass.

I was home just past noon. By the afternoon, we were out. After dropping wifey at Intel, Marcus and I were left to our own devices. Out of the blue, I decided to pay his godfather a visit for the first time. Luckily, he was at home but they’re preparing to attend mass. At least, he and Marcus met albeit short and fast.

After killing time in front of the Jollibee statue of a nearby mall, and wondering the whole time if Marcus was having a conversation with his current favorite figure, we headed back to pick up wifey. We then headed to the mall. Marcus needs new pair of shoes. He has damaged his third footwear and the new one was of a bigger size. He’s growing. Fast.

On our way out, we dropped by a computer shop to check the HP Mini. They have slashed its price from approximately Php 21,000 to Php 18,000. In a matter of weeks it has gone down. Fast.

Sunday. Today is the first F1 race for 2009. It’s in Australia and we’re now watching it live on TV. Now this is fast.

 

 

 

Mood: 4/10 Honks!

From resignation letters, Ateneo to Typepad

 

I’m all mixed up once again. It’s just more than 24 hours and I’ve already done several things not so related to each other but has nevertheless kept myself busy, frustrated, confused, and excited – may not be in proper order but may apply all at one point. Yes. I’m once again having that chopsuey day. Well, just to remain optimistic there’s always a good thing about bad, or let’s just say confusing, things – at least it doesn’t make my day SSDD.

***

After a meeting with the rest of our village’s board of directors yesterday and with our treasurer walking out of the meeting, I finally filed my formal resignation this morning as well. It’s not because I’m fed up at any of them but it’s because of the troubling effect that goes along with the treasurer walking out – and her probable termination.

So this morning while trying to decide between eating proper breakfast or leaving on time for one of the most important things I’ll be doing in the next few months to come, with fingers tightly crossed, I hurriedly typed what has been going on inside my mind for weeks – my resignation letter. It’s about time.

I miss the days when this is a common sight.

I miss the days when this is a common sight.

I really hated doing it but I did the best that I could to explain the reasons why I’m leaving this time. I’ve got several compelling reasons and one of which is living a quiet life away from the baseless accusations, gossips and intrigues which are sadly done by elders who are supposed act as well-meaning advisers in the community. Although these may not be directly addressed to me I can’t bear hearing it anymore and this isn’t the environment that I want our baby boy to witness – this is one major reason.

Now I’m back, hopefully, to living as a private individual. Next time, I’ll share some of the homeowners association woos and woes.

***

Other than filing my resignation which I just realize was actually my first as I never had the chance to make one since I joined a team, organization or even a company (incidentally, I’ll be leaving my current job without it again), I started the first step to another milestone in my life.

This morning, I went to Ateneo Rockwell to register for their MBA Regis program course entrance exam. Although, their building wasn’t exactly as vivid as what they have on their website’s header, I was still thrilled and excited the moment I saw it from afar and it got even more intense when I came inside. The place itself had this professional feel and the surrounding appears to be a very conducive place to learn. What especially caught my attention though was the solemn chapel inside the campus. I’m wondering now if this is filled to its capacity during exams with most of the students asking for divine intervention. Anyway, just in case it is, I’ll just bear kneeling outside. Hmm.

Lawyers do pray here. Photo by: Michael Gomez

Law students do pray here. Photo by: Michael Gomez

The whole registration process went very orderly. I don’t know if this is always the case but when I arrived at the registrar’s counter, there were only four other people transacting and even if I had to go down to the cashier’s office to pay for the exam fee everything was still a breeze. When I left home this morning, I was prepared to be in a long line of students and have asked myself for extra patience. But then Ateneo’s automated system changed my perception of a traditional registration flow – it took me just about 10 minutes to finish the whole transaction and I was happily on my way home just in time for a late lunch and a well-deserved siesta – considering that it’s from Cavite to and from Makati being completed all in the morning wasn’t bad at all.

***

My blogging addiction (and to mention financial desperation) has stepped up. In my desire to monetize my blog, I’ve been searching for days already on how to do it properly. I’ve also researched on what free or paid blog providers will cater monetization. Somehow, I discover that in this case the best things aren’t free. And this led me back to Typepad.com.

I actually have made the first steps in signing up with Typepad a couple of weeks ago but I was taken aback when I saw that its 14-day trial period would require me to enter my credit card number. Yesterday, as I run out of choice and with my eagerness to sign back I read and re-read the trial period conditions which to my relief say that I won’t be charge if I cancel before the 14-day period. And so I proceeded.

Sadly, my first impression about this paid blogging site isn’t good. For one, my expectation of Typepad being better than WordPress faded soon enough as I had a hard time using its dashboard. I find its features falling short of WordPress’ and just a bit better than Blogger.com. I still have 13 days to exploit it, but as of now I’m already revisiting my Blogger account and have done some re-layouts and modifications. I can see that it’s starting to look a lot like Typepad now. It’s a shame. But of course, I’m not quitting on Typepad yet. In the next days to come, I’ll spend some time using it and will give it another chance to prove its worth. Hopefully, at the end of the trial period is a win-win situation.

This is Typepads dashboard.

This is Typepad’s dash….

This is WordPress dashboard.

And this is WordPress’ dash…now take your pick.

 

 

Photo credit: Michael Gomez

 

 

 

Moood: 4/10 Honks!