Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Dilbert Principle and other "old" books

My brother gifted me with a hard-bound copy of The Dilbert Principle today. He found the copy at a used-book shop last week and promptly bought the copy. It was almost mint condition and I was surprised that a good copy was available from a used-book shop. Many books I've found there often have torn pages or many with scribbles. Some even have coffee stains. The soft-bound copies usually have worn covers and it is not uncommon to find spines that indicated the book has seen better days. The hard-bound copy will join my flood-damaged soft-bound copy of the same book that I bought when I was still in Japan.

I also like to browse merchandise at used-book shops. Mostly I try to find early editions of books I already have. So far, I've had some success because I've managed to get a First Edition copy of the Silmarillion, and a few chess books that I knew were quite expensive if bought brand new. One time, I bought a hard-bound copy of our preferred reference in our Structural Engineering classes back in the day when I was a senior at university. On a trip in the US, I grabbed a copy of a Gary Larson compilation. And in a small shop near our village, I was able to get a Vietnam War era Doonesbury comic book. While some maybe quick to dismiss this as just another comic book, it should be clarified here that Doonesbury is a terrific political strip that has taken up a lot of issues (politics usually among them) reflecting prevailing perceptions in the US.

Meanwhile, back to the Dilbert book. I collected the Dilbert books from when I was still a student in Japan. I became curious about Dilbert from the comic strips of the Saturday and Sunday editions of the Daily Yomiuri that I preferred over other broadsheets in Japan. Then there was a reference to Dilbert made by my high school buddy John, who was working in the US and probably had first-hand experiences of what Scott Adams wrote and illustrated about in his books.

I must admit that a lot of the material were creative hits on what seemed to me was a lack of common sense at office environments. What attracted me to the comic strip was that Dilbert and his colleagues who featured in most of the situations were engineers. So it appeared to me also that the comic strip was a tribute of sorts to engineers, who were also subject to the (humorous) incompetence of those around them. The only problem was that the engineers were not the decision-makers - the managers and the execs especially one "pointy-haired" boss frequently torment our gang of engineers with the seemingly endless moronic actions. Sounds familiar? Well, I won't go into the details and will leave the reader to be curious enough to maybe Google about Dilbert, and study and enjoy at the same time what Scott Adams has to say and advise us about the workplace. Incidentally, Dilbert books are classified under business books in Japanese book stores, particularly Tower Books and Yurindo, also frequent haunts of mine in the late 90's. But that's another story for another post.

Saturday, October 30, 2010


I had another tooth extracted this morning. But before anyone thinks I had one pulled out only recently, "recent" for me was January 2009. I remember blogging about it then as I had a great experience back then. It was good enough for me to write about past experiences not in detail but in general. Doc Toto changed all that last year and this morning was a repeat performance for a tooth that started bothering me during a trip to Iloilo last September. Hindi ako pinatulog the night before I was to deliver a presentation and it was the first time I had a tooth ache in more than a decade. I decided then that I had to have it extracted soon but after the semester was over.

The Clairvoyant had more recent procedures performed. The two most dreaded words associated with dental appointments are probably "root canal." Often, these words are used in sitcoms (part of slapstick comedy?) or stories where the teller appears to be relating a horrific experience similar to a road crash or tremendous turbulence while in-flight. Well, the root canal procedure went well and was practically pain-free, thanks to the skills of our dentist. I do hope, however, that I won't undergo something like that. I can just imagine the anticipation alone will cause me a lot of stress.

Well back to my morning appointment. I had a worn-out tooth extracted and had the rest of my teeth cleaned. The damaged tooth was practically similar to the other one last year only on the left side. Now I rest and recover and try to my best to maintain my dental health. Who knows, maybe I should consider braces?

Friday, October 29, 2010

Aunts and Uncle

I was able to scan more old photos recovered by Tatay from albums damaged by floods brought about by typhoon Ketsana last year. Among the photos are rare ones showing my father's mother (Lola) and sisters and another showing Tatay with one of his close cousins. The first photo was a little blurred so I decided to refine it a bit using my limited knowledge of Photoshop. The second one is quite clear and didn't need to be refined. Both photos were taken at our home in Cabatuan, Iloilo and shows the original house a couple of decades before it was damaged. The photos were probably taken in the mid 1970's.

From left: Nay Laling Asencio (cousin of Tatay), Lola Pinac (Rufina), Nay Paring (Amparo), Manong Joam, Nay Pilar, and Nay Nene (Enriqueta) - photo taken at our Cabatuan home sala.

Tatay and Tay Adoy in-front of our Cabatuan Home

Tay Adoy (Arcadio Regidor Llamas) was the brother of Tay Puren (Florentino R. Llamas), who was a Korean War veteran with the 10th Batallion Combat Team (BCT) . Tatay stayed with Tay Adoy, who owned a store, when he went to Manila to study in the late 1950's. Tay Adoy happened to be married to one Mama Basion (Salvacion Fajardo), who happened to be the sister of my mother. It happened that Mama was also living with her sister and brother-in-law when she was also studying in Manila. The rest, as they say, is history - and another story to tell in a future blog.

Friday, October 22, 2010


I used to have the most extensive photo collection of my Lola, the mother of my father. That collection sank together with a lot of other photos, no thanks to typhoon Ketsana. Since then, I have tried to recover many photos from various sources. Among the photos I am searching for are those of my aunts and uncles but especially my grandparents. I m not sure if my cousins in Bicol have preserved some photos of my mother's parents. Perhaps these should be secured and scanned for future generations to refer to. Meanwhile, I have succeeded in getting at least one photo of my Lola.

I have very fond memories of her especially the adobo that she would cook for us before she went to Manila for her regular visits back when I was a toddler. Perhaps that memory of adobo was embedded in my mind because it was really so good (sorry Mama, iba talaga yata adobo ni Lola). It is all the more terrific when I am reminded that back in those days, my Lola preferred to take the ship from Iloilo to Manila - a direct trip but one that lasted somewhere between 20 to 26 hours depending on the ship and the travel conditions. The adobo, however, can survive such a trip since it is oil based. It is probably the most anticipated viand in my memory, my Lola never failing to bring adobo every time she visited us then.

The photo below was scanned from a cutout my father always kept in his wallet. That way, I think, he felt my Lola was always with him. I would probably do the same if I were to keep a memento of my parents with me wherever I went. But that's another story for another blog.

Rufina Paton Regidor

Saturday, October 16, 2010


The first time I learned about the typhoon brewing in the western Pacific, I wasted no time in getting the information I needed to prepare for what sure is to be inclement weather early next week. Typhoon Megi was forecast to be a super typhoon based on the information on the Weather Underground site. No, I didn't bother looking at the PAGASA site despite recent news broadcasts where the leading networks routinely asked the local weather bureau about the reliability of their forecasts. Weather Underground was reliable enough for me considering its performance last year (though ironically it was after Ondoy when I discovered the site). Data from the site were derived from NASA, US, Japan and Taiwan. Incidentally, any typhoons right up in our backyard are also monitored by the Taiwanese and Japanese due to the typhoons' propensity to head north and ravage these countries.

Throughout this week, I was always updating myself about the whereabouts of the typhoon. Information on potential rainfall in the next 5 days is quite important and highlights the importance of PAGASA acquiring the doppler radars required to have a reliable estimate of how much water will be dumped on us by the typhoon. I am a little relieved that the typhoon is heading in the general direction of the northern tip of Luzon island. It is likely to hit Cagayan Province by midnight Sunday and cross that province and Ilocos Norte by Monday afternoon. However, due to the typhoon's strength, its clouds and rains are expected to affect Metro Manila.

I just hope, as I know millions of others do too, that the drainage systems will be able to handle the rains. On another note, I am not optimistic about the damage that will be brought about by the 100-160 kph winds the typhoon is packing. Rural areas are almost always ravaged by such strong winds and damage is inevitable. Hopefully, lives will not be lost and that systems are indeed in place to prevent such losses.

We don't want to experience another Ondoy. Let it be what experts claim to be - a 100 or even a 50-year event. We also hope that government indeed made the necessary preparations and is planning to upgrade the infrastructure in order to mitigate what has come to be known as "Ondoy"-like rainfall.

I'm keeping my finger crossed and my faith intact.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Connectivity (Again)

After recovering from problems concerning my internet connection via broadband, I was able to compare the performance of two of the main competitors. So far, the verdict is that my old broadband service has been the most consistent in terms of connectivity and speed. On connectivity, I have been able to connect quickly on the 3G/HSDPA network of my old service provider. Meanwhile, it has been an excruciating experience in as far as network connection and speed is concerned, where I am often able to connect on the slower GSM/GPRS network that practically limits my access to sites including Gmail, Facebook and this blog.

As a result, I am led to believe based on my experience that my old service still provides the best connectivity in as far as broadband is concerned. Next stop? Perhaps we should already have DSL in our home. That way, we'll have access to even higher speeds and be able to download goodies like recent episodes of TV series we missed because either we couldn't watch the local telecast or free TV don't feature the series.

Saturday, October 2, 2010


I had some difficulties connecting to the internet from our home this past week. What used to be a reliable connection via Smart Bro turned into an excruciating experience that started when I was in Iloilo City to close a training program for MIGEDC. There was this "cannot connect to PPP server" message appearing every time I attended to connect. And this Thursday, after having enough of what I perceived was undeserved disservice I decided to call the Smart hotline to at least have a grasp of what has happened to my connection. I was not alone in this predicament as another colleague, who happened to live in Quezon City, experienced similar difficulties. The Clairvoyant also pitched in one night last week when her own Smart Bro unit could not connect, leaving her with no internet as she navigated through a conference call she took at home. She decided later to take her other conference calls scheduled almost every night in the past week at her office.

I was informed by the customer service person that there was nothing wrong with their 3G services. (Note: It's this 3G connection that is supposed to be the preferred one as it is capable of delivering up to 2Mbps connection speeds.) One conclusion and recommendation was for me to see if this condition continues in the next few days and if it happens in other locations. Another was for me to change my settings and to use the GPRS connection instead. I asked the person what speeds would this connection give me. He replied that this setting would provide a maximum 384 Kbps. Hmmm...that didn't seem to be what I signed up for when I purchased my broadband unit. But what the heck, maybe the connection will return one day and hopefully soon. Fortunately, it seems to have returned this afternoon (otherwise, I could not be writing this blog now).

Meanwhile, I decided to purchase another broadband unit, this time from arch-rival Globe. It was supposed to be a quick purchase, so appropriate to the quick decision I made. The Globe service center, however, made it another excruciating experience, one that was something for the books in terms of what should not be done when you have a lot of people queued up for purchases or payments. It was a classic lesson in queuing theory where the servers took so much time to process customers that many of those in queue decided to leave. We were among those who left empty handed. Fortunately, I spotted the mall booth selling prepaid units for Globe Tattoo. I got one although grudgingly (I wanted a postpaid unit with an unlimited plan.) and took it h0me where it gave me a decent connection this afternoon. So far, so good. I hope it provides me a good connection sometime later again when my Smart Bro doesn't deliver.

I decided though to use my Smart Bro for this connection and voila! I had my good connection again. I do hope it stays this way most of the time and that my back-up won't fail me, too. Otherwise, I might be forced to get another unit from another company. Indeed, perhaps we should get a DSL service for our house soon. That will assure us of the fastest and maybe most reliable service for our internet purposes.