The Starbucks Planner Dilemma

Some people by now have already started coming in and out of Starbucks stores. Some in a rush to complete their sticker booklets while some to redeem their own Starbucks planner. Well, not me but however late it may be, this time I seem to reconsider the idea. The dilemma ‘to planner or not to planner’ strikes once more.

That’s because I just realized that after a long time, this year appears to be the year when I should’ve had a planner of some sort.  Stuck in my car last Friday and having finished a heavy rice meal right after I parked at work three hours earlier than usual, I found myself pondering on things that have happened this year. Everything was overwhelming since 2016 started.

Events came in faster than I would have imagined. Marcus got his US visa against all odds; we transferred house on a tight budget and in a short timeframe; I unexpectedly got a new role at work; and everything else—good or bad—in between. It was like a smorgasbord served in front of me all at the same time and the no leftover rule applies. (Ah yes, not close to any Japanese buffet but it’s like the pack of lauriat I found in the backseat that my sister was supposed to take with her when I dropped her back in Alabang. Everything in the paper bag was cold by then but good enough.)

That Chowking meal made me last until the end of the day’s training. A training that had me cancel a vacation I planned long before I got myself in this new account, in this new culture. Oh, and a plane ticket to be rebooked in the process. I now owe wifey Php 6000 more.

So maybe yes I need a planner this time. Maybe I should start using one again to take note of schedules, list of people I need to meet (and avoid), and maybe to doodle while stressed in the parking lot. Assuming I spend a venti everyday until the 30th I think could still get it. But then again that’s almost 2000 pesos for a planner so maybe not—not until I start to realize that I actually need to plan an itinerary in the weeks to come. A cheap notebook seems more appealing for now.

From the PAL office to Acacia. We dropped by to say hi and take a dip in hotel’s pool.

***

Mood: 6/10 Honks! (Rebooking sucks.)

Instant Coffee

Coffee and Donut

Glad to Wake Up Still At Home

It’s one of those days when I prayed like never before and this morning was proof somehow that God still answers fervent prayers. I woke up still on the same bed with my wifey and kid beside me and not somewhere else. Last night, I slept with an uneasy feeling thinking that a typhoon with a strength that was never heard of before in the Philippines will be passing by or worse, make landfall. Again thank God, he listened to us Filipinos who for sure don’t want a repeat typhoon Ondoy did and to think that another typhoon will happen just within the same week.

***

Another good thing this morning is the arrival of another set of bags of Tully’s and Peets coffee beans coming from a relative in the US via her friend in Bacolod. That domestic stopover added something more to the package which is a perfect match for a brewed coffee, piaya.

Thanks again Keren and Gary for filling my cravings for caffeine. I’m quite sure that I’d be Starbucks-free at least for a month or two.

***

Just a thought: Aren’t typhoon Ondoy and typhoon Pepeng God’s own warning shot for us to stop and think what we’ve been doing to our environment? Weren’t we taught that cleanliness is next to godliness?

Think about it my friends. Let’s make a lot more effort to take good care of the environment. It’s never too late.

***

It’s about time I promote another blog I maintain just to catch and record litterbugs and smoke belchers. This is my own way to help drive environmental consciousness. Please check and contribute to Planet Trash Can.

***

Mood: 4/5 Honks! (Sleepy and tired…and anxious.)

Pancake and Peets day

 

Today must be a good a day. I started with a hearty breakfast of pancake (courtesy of wifey) paired with a hot instant coffee.

Its leaning, its oily...its delicious.

It's leaning, it's oily...it's delicious.

As if there’s one coffee god watching while we ate and who finds it pathetic that it could have been made better with a good brewed coffee, he sent over someone from the courier company, LBC. The delivery man handed on to me not 1 but 3 packs of Peets coffee from Vegas (via Bacolod). Wow, isn’t that great?

Dad, the package looks familiar but the brand doesnt.

"Dad, the package looks familiar but the brand doesn't."

 

Can I have this one tomorrow instead of my boring formula?

"Can I have this one tomorrow instead of my boring formula?"

Pure caffeine pleasure days are here again. Hahaha. Thanks again Keren.

***

The package was sent via my cousin’s friend (who also got some of this Peets) who is in Bacolod. I soon learned that he’s an elder brother of a schoolmate back in high school. Small world, huh.

 

 

Mood: 3/10 Honks!

  

Rain: love and hate

 

Rain, rain go away. Come again another day,” goes one of the most recognized nursery rhymes. There’s just something about the rain that makes most people love and hate it at the same time. I for one is among those who share such mixed emotions every time the dark heavens open up.  

Here are some of the things I find annoying every time it rain cats and dogs (sorry, I can’t help not using the expression):

  • Bad drivers. Someone who has taken defensive driving lessons will know that continuing to drive with the hazard lights on is a no-no. Why? Because it doesn’t allow other drivers, especially someone driving right behind, to see when you’re signaling a turn – that is, if one even cared doing so. If one finds it necessary to turn on the hazard lights because he sees it dangerous to drive under the heavy rain, he must instead pull over the shoulder and remain there until he thinks the road if visible enough for him to continue.

  • Pretentious road improvement projects. One doesn’t need to listen/watch/read the news to know that the Philippines ranks high among other nations when it comes to corruption. All it takes is for one to go out during the rainy season, take either a public transport or his own car, observe the roads he/she pass by and presto, he’ll know that those road improvement projects that most of the politicians bragged about in summer are something they should be ashamed of come June when rain pours hard and seeps in the meringue-like asphalt pavement. It wouldn’t even take a couple of days of continuous rainfall to expose these potholes that as an immediate effect slows down traffic flow to almost a standstill.

  • Bad house construction shows. Just like our “well-paved” roads, the rain too exposes bad workmanships of self-declared carpenters and construction workers. In fact, someone gave me a tip before, that it is best to check for a prospective residential place during the rainy season because this is when house leaks become very obvious at the very least. Other things such as clogged village drainage and poorly waterproofed walls appear even under a novice’s eyes. Unfortunately for me, I heard about that tip years after we settled in our current house which is now leaking as if some adult with incontinence.

  • Diseases come out. This is what I hate the most about the rainy season because it’s not just colds and flu that becomes almost unavoidable but it is the risk of getting mosquito-borne disease like dengue that scares me the most, especially now that we got a baby boy to look out for. Come to think of it isn’t this part of the task that our good mayors and village officers should have taken cared of? Ti abi.

To be fair, the rain of course has its own appeal and good effect:

  • I’m sucker for movies of any genre with scenes where it rains except for cliché love scenes where lovers meet, hug and kiss as if being wet doesn’t matter doesn’t count – it’s so overused and needless to say, I hate it…well most of it, anyway;

  • Likewise, I love being inside the cinema watching a rainy scene while it is raining hard outside at the same time.

  • The rain is a perfect match for coffee whether it’s from a 3-in-1 sachet or a Starbucks brew, it doesn’t matter.

  • I don’t know if this is weird, but I love the sound of the rain hitting the steel roof top, more so if it doesn’t leak. I’m so amused by it that when a real estate agent once proudly mentioned that the concrete-tiled roof insulates the sound of the rain, I for a moment thought that it’s a turn-off rather than an appeal.

  • And how can I forget that the rain makes it great excuse just to snuggle together and enjoy the cooling effect of the heavy downpour. Hmmm. Got to hit the sack. Good night!

 

Photo credits: 

Albert – car splash

Marcelgermain – man with the colorful umbrella

 

Mood: 3/10 Honks!

A Week of Interviews (Part 1)

                                    

I’ve said it several times either to myself or to someone – Time flies so fast. And so today I was surprised to see that the last time I did a blog was on August 31 and fifteen days after that, I’m still wondering what I’ve been thru since then. Now I’m in the middle of the much waited months for us Pinoys – the “ber” months.  And being the 15th which is the payday for most employees, I can just imagine the throng of people in the mall, in the clubs, and those in the beer bars – all of which probably enjoying at least a couple of Christmassy tunes in the process.

In spite of having lost track of my activities, the freshest memory that still lingers in my mind is the things that we did last week. In work terms, work week 37. Last week, my wife and I underwent a couple of separate exciting interviews amid my untimely colds that was made worse by the enduring rainy week.  But having prepared for these interviews for so long, not to mention that the stakes are high, we proceeded undeterred.

The first one was in the US embassy in Manila. It was actually my wife’s idea to try our luck in getting a US Visa (tourist). Although, I’ve been thru this before for my week-long Wisconsin training trip, I was a bit pessimistic in acquiring a new one as I’ve seen a couple of times the disappointment it gave my parents upon every denial in their quest to visit my sister abroad. Lately though, according to wifey, a lot of her peers got theirs without much ado. And true indeed, after a couple of anxiety-filled hours inside the embassy, our visa application got approved as well. My wife went out of the hallway skipping like a kid promised with a weekend beach picnic. “I feel like I’ve just won the American Idol audition”, she quipped. Well, that probably puts me in William Hung’s shoes when he got the record deal. (What made it greater was that our Visa expires in 2018 but the news today regarding the end of validity of the green passport by 2010 looks trouble to me.)

One thing that my wife and I are totally in synch with is that both of us agree with rewarding ourselves with every success that we had; more often than not, we love having food treats. And this time we dropped by MOA (Mall of Asia) looking for something new. Then we saw Cheesecake Etc. Inc. It is a small (approx. seats 10-15 person) restaurant but with cozy feel to it. Obviously, we ordered a couple of cheesecakes and coffee to match it. What we got were nicely presented (lovely shape and plate decoration) and were fairly priced. I recommend this place as an alternative to Starbucks.

After satisfying our sweet tooth, we headed to the cinemas just in time to catch the movie Wall-E – this time to feed our craving for comic relief. And like any other Disney movie we’ve seen, this movie didn’t fail us. The scenes in the movie despite being subtle and comical packs a serious message of what our (humans) future awaits if we lose the awareness on our environmental obligations. It also sends a strong warning to everyone who tends to entrust our lives to technology with the belief that it is there to give us convenience. Convenience that if not controlled will eventually produce more bad than good effects in the end. Do garbage problem and obesity sounds familiar? If there’s an animated counterpart to Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth movie, this is it. This is a must see movie for both young and old alike. (I love this one so much that I can’t wait to get its DVD.)

(to be contintued…)

Ref:

http://www.pinasgift.com/cheesecake_etc.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WALL-E

 

Breakfast, Egg and Me

 “You have to know what you want when you reach the end of the line…” – Andrew Zimmern, Bizarre Foods host. 

I’m one of those who consider breakfast as the most important meal of the day. I can skip lunch, dinner and whatever snack there is, but never breakfast. I don’t know if this is a common occurrence, but I become grouchy most of the time I miss it.  I just realize that this may be the reason why I’m one grumpy driver on my way to work and becomes grumpier when I learn that the sweet scent of a good breakfast I smell at the parking lot is after all foods comparable to a piece of cr*p (pardon the word) once I reach the canteen.

So what is it with breakfast that makes me crave for it everyday? Well for me a typical breakfast always includes coffee and egg. Then these two may be combined with longganisa (sausage), hotdog, tocino, corned beef and spam, just to name a few…a few of the oily ones. Sometimes fish and veggies are preferred although I consider these two as a need-to-have just due to health reasons. If only my taste had to be followed, fish and veggies won’t be any near my breakfast menu.

As weird as it may seem, I enjoy watching movies that has scenes of people having breakfast whether in their own home or inside a restaurant – be it a local or a Hollywood film. And to make it even weirder, one of the scenes I won’t skip in my favorite movie Ronin is the part wherein one of the assassins cooks egg for the group. It’s either I’m enjoying the car chase and gun exchanges or just the thought of having great sunny side up with some assassins.

You see I have a fascination with perfectly cooked sunny side up eggs. I can’t exactly recall how long I’ve been into this (obsession) but I know that it has been years since I started trying to mimic the well rounded sunny side ups of McDonalds (or Jollibee). I’ve been stubborn enough though to admit that this perfect egg can’t be done without the help of an egg ring or any other things to attain its shape.

To prove how serious I’ve been with what others will consider a trivial part of a breakfast preparation, I’ve actually spent time and money, fortunately not a fortune…yet, on this search for the ideal sunny side up. I have tested and bought several things to achieve my goal:

  1. Teflon frying pan – failed. I’ve tested varying stove settings to see if the egg will cook differently, but to no avail.
  2. Microwaveable egg cooker which shows on its box 4 heart-shaped (it’s not rounded but as long as it’s perfect, I will go for it) sunny side ups – this one not only failed to meet the promised result, but the egg tasted bland and feels like rubber.
  3. I tried poaching the eggs with the expectation that once I drop it on the boiling water, it will miraculously attain the coveted shape. Instead it appeared as an egg lacking its crab and corn mixture. (I consider trimming the edges as cheating)
  4. One day, I chanced upon a couple of egg rings in the grocery store and at that moment it looked to me like a foolproof way to finally have breakfast with a McDonalds-like egg. Right after I break the egg though, all hope was gone when the egg white leaked like water from the sides.
  5. A smaller Teflon frying pan was my last purchase hoping that its size will make the egg form perfectly. It did but the top side does not cook well and it led me to flip it in the end which destroyed the form as a result.
1. Egg rings 2. Microwaveable egg cooker 3. Mini Teflon frying pan 4. Teflon frying pan

My egg tools: 1. Egg rings 2. Microwaveable egg cooker 3. Mini Teflon frying pan 4. Teflon frying pan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With those above mentioned methods or tools, all of which I consider a failure, I’m continuing my search for a promising sunny side up and hoping that someday I’ll start my day with a lovely egg I could proudly say I personally cooked to complement the brewed coffee and other breakfast menu that goes along with it. Hopefully that day will come before we welcome another tiny family member at home…else I’ll be forced to serve either scrambled or boiled eggs to this small guy – ‘coz father can’t cook sunny side up? Hahaha.

Sunny side up SNAFU

Sunny side up SNAFU

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

***

Postscript:

Just right after I finish this blog, I suddenly remember why I haven’t checked the internet if someone is as desperate as me. Well, I guess I may not be alone after all as I discovered this after typing: how to do a perfect sunny side up.

Anybody want an egg meet?

Anybody want an egg meet?

 

Rio and Gino

“The owner doesn’t pick the car, the car picks its owner” – Transformers, The Movie

This week Rio & Gino captured my attention. Rio is good. Gino is bad.

My recent promotion gave us hope (false?) to start considering getting a new car. So last week, despite my nagging headache and pouring monsoon rain, we gave the car showrooms near our place a visit. I never knew that the idea of picking a prospective car would be more exciting than I can imagine. Nope these are not Jeremy Clarkson’s favorites, but new cars nonetheless.

We dropped by Toyota first and inside I noticed that the saleslady was attractive…err, the cars I mean. Unfortunately the car model we are looking for wasn’t on display at that time as the sales agent said that we actually dropped by just a day ahead of the launching date. So instead we just receive a catalog and an invitation for the next day’s unveiling event. We weren’t able to attend it though.

Our next stop was Kia. From outside the glass door, I doubtingly peered at the red shiny car and my mind was playing images of the Top Gear’s hosts sneering at it. Then someone from the poorly lit office led us in for us to take a closer look at the Korean underdog.

It was then that we were introduced to and greeted by Rio – Kia’s 2007 subcompact model. (I learned later that it is this year’s COTY for its category). Upon closer look and subsequent discussion with the sales agent we realized that it is within the price range of the Toyata base model Vios. What make it standout though are its features – power locks, windows and yes, the engine itself. Given those facts it seems like it could make the Japanese car a run for their money. Well, it looks like Kia’s “The Power to Surprise” motto is proving itself to be so true.

A couple of days after that, I received an unexpected invitation to test drive it. And of course, I’m not that foolish to let such opportunity slip away. I was so excited I arranged for it to be done first thing on a Tuesday morning. “Let’s start the day right”, I said to myself.

On that fateful (at least for me) day, I arrived on time for the test drive. For this, I’ll be driving a silver automatic Rio. Actually, any color will do for me, but the red one on display would have been better.

Since it was my first time to drive an automatic transmission car, I had a couple of minutes familiarizing myself with its gear shift and the feeling that one pedal is somewhat (and actually is) missing. The rest after that went smoothly. The car performed great on rough road conditions as well as straightaway accelerations. Sweet.

The drive ended at their factory as the dealer was kind enough to let me see the other color schemes and likewise try out the manual models. I think they’re really considering me to be a potential buyer. I hope the same way too. Fingers crossed.

If Rio completed my week, Gino ruined it.

My wife and I went to Tagaytay the other night to de-stress ourselves, have a beer, pizza, and a bit of bonding time away from work and our humid home.

There, we were able to fulfill our long-time curiosity to see and feel how it is to be inside Café Lupe – a bar just a couple of steps away from Starbucks Coffee. It wasn’t that bad, but I’d rather go next time to Cowboy Barn in Robinson’s Dasma. The ambiance there is better and the band we’ve seen so far didn’t disappoint us. But that’s another story.

After a couple of hours inside the bar we checked out the view outside just at the back of the coffee shop. And one thing that amazes me most of the time is that I rarely get bored looking at the Taal lake from that vantage point; Be it on a sunny day, gloomy day, starry and/or moonlit night, any condition just has its own fascination to offer. Ah, life’s simple pleasures.

Unfortunately, these natural wonders are lately threatened by the irresponsible acts of man. Take for example Gino who happens to afford a Starbucks cappuccino but dejectedly didn’t have the manners to throw his cup in a thrash bin after enjoying his caffeine load. Grrr. Tado.

Well did I meet the man face to face? Nope. But on the unlucky cup (which my wife accidentally stepped upon while on threading on the gravel) is his name written on it (too much CSI?). I’m now thinking, how many Ginos out there are making this irritating mistake? I know the answer. What a depressing thought. So, if I’d be chosen to perform environmental vigilante jobs, I’d be happy to oblige and get those other Ginos out of this wonderful planet. (Evil smile).

So please, let there be more Rios and less Ginos.

Day 6 (The Twin Towers)


A tourist’s bragging rights for visiting the Twin Towers isn’t complete if he hasn’t been to the Sky Bridge. So today as discussed since our day 1, we convinced our lazy bodies to move out of the mattresses, leave the cold bedroom behind and brave the hot and humid Malaysian climate outside so we’ll be on time for the Sky Bridge’s pass issuance.

Our group arrived at Petronas by past 7 am. Seeing that the area was somewhat clear of people we thought we were the early birds. Good thing we smelled something fishy just after a couple of minutes – Who would want to come it late for the opportunity to visit the Sky Bridge? None.

We were right. After asking for directions & following the way to the visitor’s entrance, a beeline of tourist have started to queue and accumulate. We estimated that there were already 70 plus visitors including ourselves. The pass per day only accommodates only around 200. We were included in the 9:15 am batch.

The Sky Bridge visit we learned wasn’t only just going straight up and it will be over. It started with a 3D movie presentation in a small but comfortable theater, then it was followed by an interactive visit at an activity center where several aspects of towers’ construction was shown. One will find his height’s compared to the Towers’ by positioning in a portal that automatically computes the comparison at a push of a button. Cool.

The Sky Bridge visit proper is limited to approx. 10 minutes only (to allow the rest of the visitors for that day). Even then, it was worth enough as the view looking down from the bridge is just as awesome as the view from the outside looking up. One thing I learned from the guide was that the movie Entrapment’s tower scenes weren’t actually shot at the location but was rather filmed in a studio with similar set up. Made me hate that movie even more.

At the end of the tour, another place we paid a visit was the shopping area at Jalan Bunus, which to our surprise (or dismay) sells a majority of textiles for typical Muslim clothing. The whole group didn’t find anything interesting so we checked our map and saw that Central Market is just a couple of blocks nearby.

So despite Lani’s protesting legs we proceeded with the transfer anyway.

We passed by interesting mosques and buildings along the way that I was busy taking photos and shooting videos. Even one bus didn’t escape my wife’s attention. It has an F1 paint job on it. So posed she did – right in front of the curious crowd.

Upon reaching the Central Market, the gloomy sky poured in. What better reason to enjoy a hot coffee (or noodles for Noel).

We find a nice coffee shop in the middle of the shopping center. It’s Old Town White Coffee. Their coffee menu was diverse and unique. And of course, importantly, the price tag is cheaper than the rest of the cafes in the Central Market. And this is one of the cases where “you-get-what-you-paid-for” line doesn’t apply – the coffee we got was real good. So good it could give Starbucks a run for their money.

The cheap but tasty coffee gave us some ringgits to spare for last minute souvenir shopping. So shopping we went. And there was this one stall (KL Idea) which we spilled those spare bills (coins actually). The store owners were nice and accommodating and I learned from them that this year is actually Malaysia’s 50th anniversary as a nation. Philippines celebrated it’s 100th year a couple of years ago. I rest my case.

Next: Day 7 (Where to Now?)