I can’t write for shit!

Went through the posts I’ve managed to put up thus far and they’re just horrible. Most if not all are just so contrived – as if they I’d put them up simply to keep this site fresh. Plus just this weekend I tried to blog, I really did; I thought I had something to say, but I only managed to come up with a couple of stilted lines before I threw in the towel.

I’m awfully, terribly frustrated. I feel like my creative juices have dried up and I’ve been left with a couple of things to say, but no idea how to say them.

Friends who’re successful bloggers – people who can really write, people I deeply envy – have taken me aside and told me time and again that good writing isn’t something we’re born with, it’s something one develops through constant, unremitting practice. Nothing I haven’t heard before, that old chestnut, but a lesson I need, NEED, to take to heart.

There’s a decision I have to make, and soon. I haven’t really prioritized writing for some time now. There’ve been a million and one other things I’ve been perfectly willing to spend my time fussing over instead. So if I’m ever to gain any measure of competence at this writing thing, I’m going to have to play lifeboat and give up some of these other things.

I’ll start tonight. I owe it to myself to.

Weekend slowdown

June 2, 2007

Saturday after a nice slow-ish day – a good way to cap a long week at the office. I elected for a long slow walk to the mall in the late-afternoon sunshine.

The Makati Central Business District is so much cleaner and brighter on weekends it’s almost enough to make one do a double take. It’s common sense; at this time less factories are churning out goods and fewer vehicles are in operation in this area. But I’m certain it’s also because the seething, restless energy that permeates places such as these during a “regular” workweek is practically nowhere to be found in times such as these. During the week it’s really quite palpable, at least for me, and I daresay for many other people as well. Everything’s just more relaxed on working weekends, and that really pleases this working stiff.

Of course, like in any business district worth its salt, the lights never do go out in this corner of the world, especially now that not a few call centers and other 24-7 businesses operate here (hey, I run one of these businesses, after all). Still, though, weekends are really a far cry from the usual Monday to Friday grind.

I’m going to kick back and relax this weekend. Will go for a good long run tomorrow morning, tidy up my fishtank, and then curl up with a couple of books and maybe a DVD or two. Next week I’m going to have a heaping helping of stuff to attend to, a motley mix of the fun and the taxing; tomorrow will – should – help me prep for all that.

There they go again

June 1, 2007

I work in Makati and would perhaps like to live there or at least near it one day, so the fact that even more malls are popping up in an area that’s already brimming over with buildings bothers me no end. One’s going up in the once and former parking space between Shang Hotel and Landmark mall, and the other just outside the Ayala Museum in Greenbelt – and this one encroaches into Greenbelt Park!

Here are two queries for the Ayalas (not that I’m expecting any sort of response from them, but still):

1. What’ll these new malls do for us that your existing ones don’t or can’t do?

2. Since you’re obviously already in a spending mood, how about sprucing up the two parks in the Central Business District – the one in Greenbelt and the one right behind the Ayala Triangle (half of which has been little short of some sort of weed-choked wilderness for years now) while you’re at it? Methinks we need to look out for our parks as well.

Decided on a nice fresh new look for this blog. Might’ve elected to go with something a tad more elaborate, but I don’t know how to futz with Photoshop and what-not. Maybe some other time, and if someone wants to help me with it.

Dulle Griet (Mad Meg)

May 18, 2007

The Flemish painter Pieter Bruegel is renowned for his paintings depicting evocative scenes from peasant life. One of his most famous is that of a wedding celebration. It’s painted in a way that rewards close scrutiny with a wealth of detail that neither crowds or confuses the eye. There’s something significant going on in that painting just about everywhere you’d care to look, all of it centered around the smiling bride, to whom the viewers’ eyes are drawn back time and again. All the details contribute to a deeper understanding of the painting as a whole, if one can only be patient enough to give it more than just a quick once-over.

Dulle Griet (Mad Meg)

At first glance Bruegel’s Dulle Griet, or Mad Meg as it’s come to be known in some circles, seems to depict pure chaos – a hellish sort of chaos, quite literally; it’s often been said that it looks like something from someone’s nightmare, which is what I thought when I saw it for the first time. Not too much like the happy mess you see in the Peasant Wedding. There appear to be two central figures in the Dulle Griet – two monstrous women, one striding across the scene like a warrior off to battle, another with her back to the viewer and bearing what appears to be a sort of boat on her back. The gigantic figures are surrounded by what looks like a war in hell: there are groups fighting each other, flames are leaping in the background, and half-human, half-animal monsters are devouring people. Enormous faces peer out of the landscape while demons dance on the rooftops. What could it all mean? Your guess is as good as mine.

Although I don’t quite ‘get’ it, this painting is by far my favorite of all of Bruegel’s. I’m not certain why – could it be the energy it exudes, or the painter’s vision, or his mastery at crafting something extraordinary, something that might have very well have ended up an unrequited mess in the hands of a lesser artist, and something that I feel could be mine to grasp if I could only look hard enough? Whatever it is, I’m really drawn to it.

One day I’d like very much to stand before the actual painting and drink it all in, slowly, deliberately. I’m sure the experience will be nothing less than overwhelming.

VW GTI W12 650

Wonder how dropping the clutch in this baby would be like…

In the spirit of the semi-iconic Ford SHOgun, which for those of you not in the know is a Ford Festiva hatch powered by no less than the big Yamaha-crafted 3-liter V6 used in the Taurus SHO, Volkswagen’s presented this new uber-hatchback: the GTI W12 650. It’s powered by VW’s 6-liter W12 engine – a twin-turbocharged version of it that is, one that churns out a whopping 650hp and 553 lb-ft. of torque. The damn thing’s wider than it is tall (six feet vs. five feet) thanks to its flared fenders and massive tires. And get this – VW’s claiming it’ll go 0-60 in just 3.7 seconds and will storm all the way up to 202mph! Wundebar!

But before you sprint to your local Volkswagen dealership to reserve or buy one, know this. The press release says, and I quote: “The GTI W12-650 is a show car, nothing more, nothing less, but it does show the enormous potential offered by the Golf platform.” Maybe they’re hinting that if they get enough demand for it, they’ll produce something like it. Let’s just see. For my part, although pocket rockets like this one aren’t really my thing, I’d love to see one of these on the road one day.

Head over here to read more about this monster, or click here for more pics.

Something’s fishy

May 18, 2007

Early this morning, on my way out of the house, I stopped by my aquarium and took a long hard look at it for the first time in days. I was aghast to see that I’d just lost another of my Bolivian rams. I used to have six of them, but over the last two or three weeks they’ve been dying one after the other. Now I only have two left – my former beta male and a female. (To make matters worse – as if they could be any worse – the fish I found dead this morning was my alpha male.)

Something’s telling me that the new fish I’d added to the tank, four young Firemouths,  have had something to do with the deaths. Okay, so the tank could use a little cleaning, far from filthy though it may be, but Bolivian rams are sensitive to neither dirty water nor water chemistry fluctuations. Plus, honestly, the tank’s been dirtier before, and the rams weren’t affected.

What I’ll do – I’ve got a spare 2.5-gallon tank at home, so tonight when I get home I’ll prep it with some water and a lot of methylene blue, and then net the two remaining rams out and place them in it. Hardly the pound of cure that they might need, but if it’s the firemouths that’re causing the trouble at least the rams’ll be happier without them around. And the methylene blue’ll help with any wounds or infections the rams might have.

I really have to find more time to look after the things I’m responsible for! Big plans for the future are a good thing, but not at the expense of the here and now…

The previous posts notwithstanding, my life’s pretty good these days. I may be struggling with some of my friends, with a recalcitrant left knee, a demanding work schedule and with my finances from time to time, but they haven’t gotten me down (well, not all that much at least).

I suppose that’s because I’m doing my best to prevent these problems from affecting me. I try to see them as fleeting things and stuff I have to get through in order for me to reach my goals, and to deal with them as such. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have a lock on this formula and occasionally I end up in a funk if I think about things too much. Some days, though, things just… flow, my problems are all manageable and everything’s just dandy – and those are the days I live for.

My life’s far from perfect right now, but it’s got its high points. I’ve got some good people to talk to and laugh with, eat and travel all around and just grow with, and I have my dreams and aspirations to aim for and to help me transcend my everyday niggles.

As a matter of fact I’m happier than I thought I ever could be given the circumstances. I look back and take stock of all that’s happened to date and I can’t help but grin.

I may not have been born into a cushy life with all the bells and whistles and ‘all mod cons’, as the Brits put it. But I really wouldn’t have my life any other way.

What do I do now?

May 13, 2007

Am having some troubles with some of my friends – well, to be specific, with a ‘friend’ and some ‘so-called friends’ – and I’m not sure what specifically I can do to resolve them. Suffice it to say that they have to deal with “unfinished business”, drawing lines and knowing our proper places.

My usual gameplan in this sort of situation would be to keep my head down and just wait the storm out, so to speak. But given the nature of what’s happened I’m not sure that’s the best solution. It’d just aggravate a situation that’s already somewhat, well, aggravated. I guess I have to learn how to be proactive, because, thanks to my earlier lassitude and/or refusal to even recognize the problem as such and deal with it, I need to grind something out.

I’ve never been good with people, and my old solutions aren’t going to work this time. So I’m going to have to do what I’ve been putting off for some time now. I have to learn how to manage my friends – and, of course, my so-called friends – a bit better than I’m doing currently. And of course it goes without saying that I need to manage myself better as well.

I’m sure I’ll be alright. But I still can’t help but wish that things could be easier than they currently are.

I need to come clean.

My left knee is very slightly injured. I’m a tad overweight (not all that heavy, but I’ve a bit of a tummy and I can feel it when I run for longer than 40 minutes or so). I haven’t been training enough – at least not enough to be able to run 10K races comfortably. Ergo, I should stop trying to run my monthly 10Ks and should just stick to 5Ks until I really am ready for the longer distance.

It was only after a friend of mine took me aside and had a blunt conversation with me about it that I was able to admit all this to myself. It’s not like I didn’t really know about it to begin with. Just about every time I’ve tried to push and run a little longer than 36 minutes – my current ‘long running’ upper limit – my knee ends up hurting, however slightly. Which means that I really am not at all ready to run 10Ks, which take me a smidgen over an hour to complete at my current pace.

I guess it’s my stupid pride that got in the way. I simply didn’t want to be stuck with all the non-serious runners who chatter and giggle their way through most 5Ks. Plus I’ll admit to have been won over by those marketers who dismiss 5K and, worse, 3K runs as ‘fun runs’. Still, though, between satisfying the demands of my pride and risking injury or, worse, disability, I’m doing the intelligent thing, choosing to eat humble pie, and sticking to 5K runs for now.

Well, at least I have a new goal to work towards now – however small it may be – right?

I’ll see you all at the Champion race next Sunday. I’ll be the sullen guy at the rear of the 5K queue. Kidding. 😉

(And, hey, Joey. Thanks.)