Birthday and New Year

The following blog was originally posted from my old blog, The Geejay Journal:

Yesterday was my birthday. The same day as the Philippine holiday celebrated in commemoration of one of my country’s renowned heroes, Jose Rizal. Hence, the name Joseph (English form of Jose) as my middle name.

Anyway, I’m now 30 years old. I don’t feel any different except older. I keep thinking I’m that young kid back in the 1980s living the good life. I seem to think a lot about my younger days lately. Did my parents think about the same thing when they hit 30? 40? How many years do I have left to go?

Well, yesterday, we decided to celebrate my birthday at TGI Fridays. It was one of our favourite restaurant hangouts back in the Philippines and I’m just grateful there’s one here in Melbourne (there isn’t in New South Wales or in Canberra as far as I know). I just want to relive the good old days.

Other than that, nothing much birthday-related happened. Well, maybe except for the well-wishes I got through emails, SMS text messages, chat messages and phone calls.

The rest of the day was like any other weekend. We went to the mall, shopped and watched TV or DVD.

We did buy some picnic supplies in preparation for our vigil along the Yarra River tonight for the New Year’s Eve fireworks/celebration. We’ll probably leave here around 7pm after dinner and go to the city to find a place to stake out.

I’m excited about tonight at least. Happy New Year!

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Published in: on December 31, 2004 at 5:40 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Great Ocean Road Trip

The following blog was originally posted from my old blog, The Geejay Journal:

On December 26, we went on a three-day road trip along the Great Ocean Road south of Melbourne. There were a lot of things I wanted to write down for this blog concerning our trip but in the end, I’m enjoying my short vacation too much to even sit down in front of the PC to type up the story.

We did have lots of pics from the trip so I’ll just let the pics do the talking. Raquel and I did captioned the pictures. I apologise to my non-Tagalog speaking friends though as some of the captions are in Tagalog. But, don’t worry. You are not really missing a lot since those captions are just smart-alec remarks anyway.

Click Here to View Pictures

Published in: on December 31, 2004 at 5:22 pm  Leave a Comment  

Noche Buena

The following blog was originally posted from my old blog, The Geejay Journal:

In Spanish, I think “Buena Noche” means “Good Night.” In the Philippine context however, it means the midnight meal or feast partook on Christmas Eve. Some of my most cherished memories was of Buena Noche dinners or the anticipation of it.

Well, Raquel and I decided to have our own Buena Noche even though there’re just the two of us. I cooked Filipino-style spaghetti (bolognese-style but more sweet than sour) for the event. I don’t normally cook so Raquel has to guide me through the cooking. It all turned out well in the end.

While cooking, we had the TV tuned in to Nine Network’s Carols by Candlelight which was a live broadcast of a Christmas carol concert right here in Melbourne. We weren’t able to get tickets to the event itself so we just had to watch it at home. It was more convenient that way, anyway.

Earlier that day, we also heard the 7:00 pm Christmas Mass at St Mary’s here in St Kilda East. There weren’t a lot of people in the church which was a bit sad and disappointing. Back in the Philippines, the church would’ve been packed with people. I just reasoned that the church would probably have more parishoners on the midnight mass but I wasn’t able to verify that as I wasn’t there.

I liked the priest that celebrated the mass though. He was very contemporary and unstiff. We also sang Christmas carols during the course of the mass. I just wish they have a better organist as her timing was off sometimes and she frequently makes mistakes making it more difficult to sing in the right tune.

Anyway, back to our Buena Noche, the spaghetti I was cooking turned out better than I expected. We didn’t have any other traditional Buena Noche food stuff but there’d just be me and Raquel to eat it all anyway so having just the spaghetti is sufficient.

I was trying to call home when midnight struck so that I can greet my family a Merry Christmas but nobody was answering. It was around 9:00 pm in the Philippines at the time I called so I reasoned that they may be out hearing Christmas Mass or something. I decided to call again the next day (yesterday as of this writing).

Yesterday, I called them to greet them a Merry Christmas and to get some goss as to what’s going on back home. I found out from my brother that they didn’t even have Noche Buena last night which made him disappointed.

After all my remeniscing about Christmas and Noche Buena and how I wish I was at home to experience that traditional Noche Buena I was dreaming of, my brother who was right there back home didn’t even have one and we did. I felt sorry for him. He told me that he wished I was home then maybe Mom and Dad would’ve arranged it so that we’d have a Noche Buena just for me.

At least they had the Christmas family reunion we usually have yesterday. I still missed on that one. Next year, I’m hoping to join in on all the Christmas merrymaking back home, God willing.

Today, we’re off to the Great Ocean Road then to Port Campbell where we’ll be staying for the next two nights. I’ll just post about it when I get back.

Published in: on December 26, 2004 at 10:50 am  Comments (2)  

Christmas at Work

The following blog was originally posted from my old blog, The Geejay Journal:

With only a couple of days to go till Christmas day, I think I’m only just beginning to finally feel a little bit of Christmas spirit in the air.

Tonight, we will have our company Christmas party at Her Majesty’s Theatre a few blocks west of the office. I’m not so sure how that’ll be like but hopefully it’ll be fun. My only problem with the Christmas party was with the schedule. Tonight, a double episode of Stargate SG-1 will be shown on Seven while the Apprentice Season Finale will be on at the same time on Nine.

And since we’ll be out at the Christmas party, we were thinking that we’d have to decide which one to record on the VCR. Fortunately though, I was able to setup my PC to record TV shows, too. So we were able to schedule the recording for the Apprentice on my PC and Stargate and Joan of Arcadia on the VCR.

Anyway, back to the Christmas theme, we had our Kris Kringle distribution of gifts a couple of hours ago. By the way, I didn’t know that they had that here. Back in the Philippines though, we reveal the giver of the gift to the recepient. Here it’s anonymous.

The limit was $10 and I bought a deck of Uno cards for my recepient. I’m not sure if he liked the gift. Well, certainly he wasn’t overcome with joy. But what can you buy with $10 that’s worth ooohs and aaahs. I decided on the Uno cards because it’s a gift that I’d like to get myself. And by the way, the gift I got was a joke book. It was all right but I think the humour is very Australian (and I just didn’t get some of the jokes) or the author is just not that funny. Still, I like the idea of getting a book.

That’s all for now.

Published in: on December 23, 2004 at 5:50 pm  Leave a Comment  

Christmas Days of Yore

The following blog was originally posted from my old blog, The Geejay Journal:

Last night, as I lie still on our bed trying to sleep, I imagined the Christmases that were. Christmas past. I just seemed to me that Christmas seems to lose its attraction with every passing year. I pondered on whether the saying that Christmas is only magical to kids was true after all.

I remembered when I was probably nine years old. It was November and already we had Christmas decorations strewn all over the household. The Christmas tree was already assembled (yes, these were plastic pine trees as these trees don’t actually grow in abundance in the Philippines) and decorated, tinsel was taped along the walls of the living room, fake mistletoes (again, mistletoes are rare in the Philippines) hang from the ceiling, a Parol (a Christmas lantern hung on the ceiling outside the front of the house) and my Mom, Grandma and Grandpa would play Christmas music whenever given the chance.

I flipped through the Christmas LP albums (no CDs yet or at least, we couldn’t afford it then) we had and look at the album covers. I remembered looking at one of the Filipino Christmas albums where it depicted an old Church lit from the inside in a cool Christmas night. The midnight mass just finished and people are starting to leave for home to have their Buena Noche (a Filipino midnight dinner/feast on Christmas Eve) while others stay behind buying putobumbong (a ricecake-like food traditionally sold during the Christmas season outside churches)at the food stalls nearby. There were houses made of nipa and bamboo nearby with parols hanging by their windows.

I remembered feeling nostalgic when I saw this picture even though I was too young to feel nostalgic about anything at the time. I mean, I didn’t really saw a rural Christmas-time setting before then.

I felt the same way when I saw the cover of an album of an American Christmas album. This time, it was a busy early 20th century Londonesque street covered with snow. There are a lot of people making last minute Christmas shopping and the street was filled with Christmas decoration.

Recalling this memory of 20 years ago, I felt sad. What made me even sadder were the other things that made Christmas a very happy and joyous holiday for me.

During my pre-teen years, I remember eating Noche Buena not only with my immediate family, but with my aunties and my cousins (my Mom’s sisters and their children). We would wait for midnight and count down to the last second then greet everybody a “Merry Christmas.” In years to come, we would still have these Christmas-time family reunions even if they weren’t done on Christmas eve.

I guess ultimately, in the Philippines, from what I remembered while I was there, there’s this great anticipation for the coming of Christmas. People would start having this feeling right after another traditional Filipino holiday called Todos Los Santos (All Saints Day) or Araw ng mga Patay (Day of the Dead – what we call All Saints Day – 1/11 and All Souls Day 2/11 collectively).

You’d hear Christmas music being played on the local pop stations. You’d see the city streets and buildings all gawdily decorated with red and green. You’d see the street-side shops that sell the parols. You’d hear the kids singing Christmas carols outside starting on the 1st of December (sometimes even earlier).

Well, it’s nothing at all like that here in Australia. There is no feeling of anticipation (at least for me). It’s like the 21st of December today and Christmas is a few days away yet it’s just like any other day. And Christmas vacation would be like any other one week vacation. The joy I used to experience around this time of year is markedly absent.

I only wished we did have the money and the vacation leaves to be able to go home to the Philippines and spend Christmas there. Maybe next year, it will actually be a “merry” Christmas for us.

Maybe next year.

Published in: on December 21, 2004 at 4:26 pm  Leave a Comment  

Whassup?

The following blog was originally posted from my old blog, The Geejay Journal:

Again, it’s been a while since I’ve posted anything new. Reason being that I’m very busy in the office trying to finish some work before the Christmas holidays. Then, when at home, I barely have the time to surf and write because of other stuff I’m doing.

I did try to draw something like I said I would in my previous post but everything I draw comes out as complete crap. I feared that I lost my ability to draw! Well, not really as I was able to doodle something decent just the other day using a ballpoint pen while waiting for my character to respawn in Counter-strike: Source.

At work, I just finished one of the enhancements assigned to me. The enhancement will allow the software to read the barcode reading device, process all the data it contains and insert it into the stocktakes data tables in the system. It took a bit of doing but I’m finally done. Now I just have to do the next enhancement which is a variation of the former enhancement but deals with receiving of product orders. Isn’t that great?

At least I’ll just have to endure three more days before the start of my Christmas vacation which will be from 25th of December to the 3rd of January. This year’s will probably the shortest Christmas vacation I’ve ever taken in my whole life. Not much I can do about it as I recently started with this company and I do not have a lot of vacation leave days accrued yet.

Due to the relative short vacation, we decided not to go too far away from home for the holidays. We just figured that it would be more cost effective if we could take a longer vacation if we did go somewhere far from Melbourne. And since we’re a little strap for cash, too, we are just going to go visit the famous Victorian Great Ocean Road which is a long coastal road along the south coast of Victoria (the state where Melbourne is located).

We’re going to stay at Portside Motel along near the western end of the Road at Port Campbell for two nights. We’ll be driving to the Road on Sunday the 26th and return on the Tuesday the 28th. Although I’m looking forward for some nature sightseeing, I’m not too stoked about driving for three hours. Good thing Raquel knows how to drive now. I can let her take the wheel while along the freeway between Melbourne and Geelong. That’s half-an-hour right there.

I’m sure that there’ll be a lot of Kodak moments on the trip. Heck, there are a lot of places right here in the city I’d like to take photos of, specially with the Christmas decor and all. So, Raquel and I bought a new digital camera: a Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-P73. We looked at other digital cameras but decided that this model has the most features and/or better execution of common features. To top it all, it looks cooler and costs cheaper than the other models.

I can’t help but compare this to our older digital cameras though (one Kodak and one Olympus). The older cameras were big and cumbersome to tote around. The older cameras take forever to take one photo. Okay, I exaggerate but it’s a big problem specially when we want to have our picture taken by a stranger. Most people would treat the old digital cameras like a 35mm camera and point the camera at us then click then move. To make the pictures non-blurry with these old models, you have to click then hold still for a second or two while the camera does its processing.

The new camera is small and sleek. Takes pictures real quick like a 35mm. Capable of using a macro lens to focus on small things up close. Uses USB to connect to the PC for fast data transfer. So, in conclusion, I’m quite pleased with the new camera. It’ll sure come in handy when we go on our long road trip.

During the weekend, we went to a factory-outlet-type warehouse hoping to buy some cheap but decent clothing and/or shoes. The stuff being sold were cheap all right, but not of decent quality. Later on, we decided to just try the nearby shopping centre called Highpoint. It’s a fairly big-named mall in Melbourne that we haven’t visited before so we figured that since it’s just a few minutes away, we should go see it.

The place is huge. Although, I think now that SM Megamall (in the Philippines) is still probably bigger. Anyway, it’s still big compared to the enclosed malls I’ve been here in Australia. It’s about more than thrity minutes away by car from where we live at St Kilda East. But I can see ourselves going there again as it has the first ever Kenny Rogers Roasters branch in Australia.

Well, Kenny Rogers Roasters isn’t that great a restaurant but it’s one of those restaurants that is quite common back in the Philippines. And I’m happy about anything that reminds me home (like the existence of TGI Fridays in Chapel Street).

We didn’t eat at the Roasters though because we already had lunch by the time we got to Highpoint. We’ll just eat there some other day. Well, at least I was able to buy myself a new pair of casual shoes and outdoor shorts while we were at that mall so all the trouble of driving there wasn’t all for nothing.

So now I’m all geared up for that summer road trip.

Published in: on December 21, 2004 at 3:33 pm  Leave a Comment  

Unimaginative Lyrics

The following blog was originally posted from my old blog, The Geejay Journal:

It’s like the more popular songs on the radio nowadays are of the dance music genre. I’ve never been much of a fan of dance music so it’s only recently that I got a chance to hear the lyrics of these songs. It’s outrageous. The songs just seem to need like a couple of stanzas (or less!) and those would be the words that would get repeated again and again throughout the entire song!

Take Armand Van Helden’s My, My, My song:

My, my, my
My, my, my
(Whoaaa)
Whoaa
how did we ever get this way
where’s it gonna go..

My, my, my
My, my, my
(Oooh Ooooh wee)
Ooh,
how we gonna make it work,
what’s it gonna take to do it..

That’s it. All you need is a catchy beat that you can do over and over, then add mixes to it and lastly think up of a few lines to sing along with the beat. The lines don’t even need to make sense! Sheesh.

Sure the beat and tune are catchy but I just feel it’s unfair that songs with unimaginative lyrics are popular. I just hope that all of the songs in the future won’t be like this one.

By the way, the reason why I specifically chose Van Helden’s song as an example was because I’m also really annoyed by the music video for this song. So annoyed that it makes my skin crawl when I see it.

Anyway, enough ranting for today.

Published in: on December 14, 2004 at 5:02 pm  Leave a Comment  

No News is Good News

The following blog was originally posted from my old blog, The Geejay Journal:

Once again, it’s been a while since my last post in the journal. I guess that’s really just because apart from my geeky hobbies, I really don’t have any new experiences to write about. Well, I can probably talk about our plans for the coming Christmas season instead.

This coming Christmas holidays, Raquel and I are going on a road trip. A long one. We’re going to the Great Ocean Road, a famous Victorian tourist attraction/freeway. It’s a southern coastal road that’s over 400 km long that goes through various natural tourist attractions such as the 12 Apostles (giant rock stacks by the beach), a few historic towns, Otways rain forest with interconnecting bridges along the tree tops and beautiful flora/fauna nearby.

We were warned by Dave, an office mate, that we should be careful in driving along the Great Ocean Road during the holidays as there is a bigger chance of encountering reckless drivers along the way during this time of year. As an example, we should watch out on tight turns where an in-coming car might cut corners and drive on our side of the road leaving us the option to turn left and fall into the ocean or turn right into the mountain-side’s carved wall. Hopefully, everything will be all right.

After that, we’re probably going to spend the New Year’s Eve celebrations right here in Melbourne. I had a haircut yesterday and my barber advised me that New Year’s in Sydney would probably be better. But I’ve already been there for the 2001 New Year’s celebration and I wanted to see what Melbourne does on New Year’s. So now, we are searching for information regarding where is the optimal spot to go to see the fireworks.

In between, one of these nights, we’d go see this year’s night market over at the Queen Victoria Markets (QVM) north of the city. According to information we’ve seen, they’ll be having these nightly bazaars open until February of next year so there isn’t really any rush but I bet the feeling is different (as in better) if we visit before Christmas is over.

That’s all for now. I’ll write about these events when they happen and probably even include some photos. For now, I’m going back to geek mode and wait for the Series of Unfortunate Events and The Incredibles movies to be shown here in Australia. Also, wait for the finales of Survivor and The Amazing Race. Also, play Unreal Tournament 2004, Half-Life 2, Half-Life 2: Deathmatch and Counter-strike: Source to my heart’s content.

Published in: on December 13, 2004 at 6:01 pm  Leave a Comment