How Many Guys?

I called up our favourite AMF bowling centre the other day to book a couple of lanes for tonight’s game with the gang.

The person who answered my phone call greeted me in a fast Aussie accent (of course!) that I didn’t quite catch what he just said. I wasn’t sure if I indeed called up AMF so I had to clarify.

“Hi. Is this the AMF bowling centre?” I asked the AMF employee. Let’s just call him John because I really didn’t catch his name when he introduced himself

“Yeritis (Yeah, it is),” Peter replied in a mumble. “Huhcanoihelpya? (How can I help you?)”

“Ah, yes. I’d like to book two lanes for Friday 8 o’clock. Thanks.”

“Roight. Huhmanypeople? (Right. How many people?)”

I paused a bit to count in my head the number of people going tonight but then decided just to pick any even number. It wouldn’t matter in the end anyway. “Twelve,” I replied.

“Thisfohtuhwlines? (This for two lanes?)”

“Yeah. Two lanes.”


Huh? How many guys? Why should it matter how many guys are there in proportion to the number of gals that are going to play bowling? Is there like a battle of the sexes that night or something? I quickly recounted the number of people going tonight at the same time counting how many are the guys in the group. I fear I was taking too long so I just picked any number again.

“Uh, I dunno. I think there’s like six guys and six gals,” I said. I continued to mutter along the same lines when the employee stopped me.

“Mate. Mate. How many games?” he asked more slowly this time.

This time round, he pronounced the word “games” more clearly. Or maybe I should say, more American with the A in GAMES pronounced like EI instead of AYE. I swear I heard him say GUYS instead. It’s probably due to the phone reception that I didn’t hear the mmm sound in games but if I did, I probably would’ve known he said “games” and not “guys.”

“Two games!” I hastily said. “Sorry about that. I thought you said guys instead of games.”

The employee was humourless about it though. Ah, well, that was embarassing. Anyway, he reiterated the number of lanes, the number of games and the booked time. I concurred and we said our good-byes and I thanked him.

Whew. This is why I kinda dread talking to Aussies over the phone. There’s always that chance that I’ll mishear what they’re saying, specially if he or she is the type of Aussie who talks real fast in a thick Aussie accent. In person, at the very least, I could try reading their lips to help me figure out what the words being said were.

Fortunately, most Aussies speak slower and more clearly (most consonants in words are enunciated). I just need to get used to some Aussies who speak faster and enunciates consonants less. I’ll get there one of these days.

Published in: on July 15, 2005 at 10:17 pm  Leave a Comment  

I Aim to Misbehave!

Yes, I’m sure the phrase “I aim to misbehave” is starting to become a real cliche among Firefly fans. But for those not in the know, Firefly is an absolutely amazing sci-fi (or maybe I should say, sci-fi/western) series created by Buffy-creator Joss Whedon which was canned by the stupid Fox Network during it’s first season run in the US.

Here is a description of the show quoted from Wikipedia which I slightly condensed for brevity:

The show is set in the year 2517, following the depletion of Earth’s resources and an expansion of the human race into the frontier of outer space. The show takes its name from the Firefly-class spaceship Serenity that the central characters call home. Captain Malcolm “Mal” Reynolds is a veteran of the Unification War: a war of resistance against the Alliance, an organization that attempted to achieve the unification of all of the colonized planets under a single government. A central core of planets is under Alliance control; settlers and refugees in the farther reaches enjoy relative freedom from the long arm of the government, while lacking many of the amenities of a high-tech civilization. Mal now owns Serenity, making cargo runs and performing various other tasks — legal or otherwise — to scrape together a way of life for himself and his crew.

Featuring a blend of elements from the space opera and western genres, the show depicts mankind’s future in a way that is uncharacteristic of many contemporary science fiction programs. Unlike most traditional space operas, there are no alien creatures or space battles. Some fans have compared the show to Outlaw Star in its style and execution with a setting similar to Trigun. Firefly takes place in a multi-cultural future, where the divide between the rich and poor is great. Chinese is a common second language for many people; it is used in advertisements, and characters in the show frequently use Chinese words and curses. This could be explained by the emergence of two dominant governments: China and the United States.

The dialogue and interplay between characters is central to the plot of the program, resulting in a story that is alternately serious and humorous. Action taking place in outer space realistically lacks sound effects, an approach that stands in contrast to more popular science fiction shows such as the Star Trek spin-offs.

You may ask that if this was such an amazing series, why the hell would Fox cancel it? Imagine having the show not shown in the correct order with no fixed weekly schedule and always gets bumped off to another day by other shows. Who would be able to follow a TV series like that? So, as expected, the number of viewers for that show wasn’t all that big. So, Fox concluded that the show should just be cancelled. Great.

Fortunately, the whole first season including the episodes that never got aired on TV now comes in a DVD-box set. And it’s because of the DVDs that I got acquainted with this wonderful sci-fi series. And it was also because of the DVDs that people who haven’t even watched one episode of Firefly got the opportunity to do so.

The DVDs did pretty well in terms of sales. This gave hope to Firefly fans that maybe one day, Fox would continue the series on TV. However, Fox doesn’t really have that much interest in this show so creator Joss Whedon decided to continue the show on the big screen instead with Universal Studios.

Firefly-class ship Serenity’s Crew.
The first of possible three Firefly movies is titled Serenity — the name of their Firefly-class ship. Serenity was first slated for an earlier 2005 release but due to various factors, it was moved to a September 2005 release date. Still a couple of months to go from now.

Then, yesterday, I just thought of reading the weekly email newsletter that Village Cinemas sends out to me. I was just curious as to what was being shown this week. I was surprised to see in the email that Serenity was going to be shown in the Jam Factory Village Cinema this coming 21 July at 9 pm! I couldn’t believe it.

I called up Village Cinema to confirm that Serenity was indeed going to be shown here in Melbourne next week. The lady said that it was a special advance screening. Of all the Village Cinemas they have in Australia, they are only showing the advance screening of it at 9 pm on 21 July in the Village Cinema that’s closest to where I live! I’m so glad I live in Melbourne now.

There weren’t a lot of seats left. I had booked for me and Raquel to watch the movie even though our reserved seats are in the middle of the front row (which will be very close to the screen — it’s not a good thing). So, I’m glad I was able to find about this before it was too late to get tickets for it.

Now, instead of having to wait for two more months, I just have to wait for less than a week to watch Serenity. I just can’t wait. I’m soooo happy!

Yeah, I know. I’m such a fanboy.

Published in: on July 15, 2005 at 11:59 am  Leave a Comment  

Lost in translation

My brain was in suspend mode, as it is wont to be when in meetings, when the speaker asked how many of us know another language and asked me how to translate “New Table” in Filipino. The topic of the meeting was software localization and how to achieve it. He was trying to give an example and thought I could provide him with a translation. I blinked, thinking hard. New translates to bago in Filipino, but what about table? My brain is screaming, say “Bagong Table” but the other part of my brain just can’t let it go. Mesa is another possible translation for table but it evokes images of a flat surface with four legs instead of a data structure that has rows and columns, which he was referring to in this instance. Besides, isn’t mesa a Spanish word? Meanwhile, I guess I took too long to respond to the speaker so he asked someone else in the group. I hope he didn’t think I’m just day-dreaming, it’s just that this has to be given careful consideration.

When lunch time came around, I told Gabriel about the episode in the meeting roome and he said that he would have said “bagong mesa”. I argued that it doesn’t really translate, that somehow it doesn’t conjure a picture of a spreadsheet in my head. It’s weird, I complained. Besides, doesn’t everyone who uses a computer in the Philippines know at least the most basic English words? Surely, they’d easily understand “New Table” better than “Bagong Mesa” to refer to the same thing? He replied that perhaps Filipinos are just not used to translating English words and so it feels and sounds weird to us. He argued that if we translate or formulate new word combinations to mean foreign things, perhaps it wouldn’t be weird anymore and thus would become the norm. That’s true I suppose, the Japanese and Chinese do it, so why can’t Filipinos do the same?

Later that night, I googled for “Filipino computer terms” and found out from this article by Chin Wong that Microsoft has already commissioned a glossary of computer terms to be translated to Filipino, with no less than national artist and poet Virgilio S. Almario helping out to build the list.

The point of the exercise is to encourage more people, including those who are not technically inclined and those to whom English is an obstacle, to understand computer terms. Microsoft realizes that language is the key to culture and should be preserved even in the digital world.

I guess Microsoft realises that in order to reach a wider audience, it would have to communicate in the local language. To me that makes sense, perhaps the reason why a large portion of the Filipino people still doesn’t use computers is because they are being asked to learn and understand two languages at the same time – English and computer-speak. Eliminating the need for one (English) might give the other language (computers) a greater chance of acceptance, increasing awareness and maybe even popularity. With the advent of Philippine computerization comes greater demand for software, translating to profits for Microsoft and other software makers. Brilliant strategy for (world) domination, if I may say so. The question is if it would work the way they intended. I have my doubts. The article mentions July as the release date but I don’t think it’s available yet.

Anyhow, it made me curious as to what “table” translates to in Spanish so I searched around and found this dictionary of computer terms in Spanish. Table converts to tabla for them and I suppose Filipinos could also use that since we also use it to mean a flat surface, normally a piece of wood. For the purists though, it just won’t do – it is after all a Spanish word, not Filipino. Perhaps “Bagong Hapag” would gain better reception as a possible translation for “New Table”? But then again, maybe not.

Published in: on July 13, 2005 at 6:15 pm  Leave a Comment  

Caribbean Barbie

No, I’m not talking about a new model of Barbie doll. We were invited by our friend AR to a barbecue (aka barbie) at the Caribbean Gardens yesterday (July 10) to celebrate her son’s sixth birthday. The place was a bit far from where we live at about 40 minutes drive east from St Kilda but the traffic was pretty light so it wasn’t such a bad drive.

I haven’t been to the Caribbean Gardens before yesterday so I didn’t know what to expect. I was thinking it was probably just another park but it was actually nicer, I thought. Even though there was a $2.50 entrance fee for each adult, I thought the fee was well worth it. There was a barbecue area, playgrounds for kids, a chairlift ride that takes you across the lake and to to the other side of the park, a jungle cruise on the lake, a train that takes you around the perimeter of the park and my favourite part, the market.

Caribbean Gardens Lake.

Anyway, the invitation said that the party starts at 11 am so we decided to leave St Kilda at 10 am which should give us more than enough time to get there on time. I picked up Sentinel and L from South Yarra and we then took the Dandenong Rd route to Ferntree Gully Rd. We got there at around five minutes to 11 am.

There were a lot of people that Sunday morning at the gardens but not too much that you can call it crowded. It was a lovely and refreshing atmosphere, actually. We didn’t know where in the gardens the barbie would be so we just decided to walk in one direction and hope we bump into AR. Fortunately, not a minutes had passed when she saw us from afar and then she waved her arms to get our attention.

We were early it seemed. Her relatives weren’t there yet and the rest of the gang weren’t there yet. AR suggested we go to the market while she prepared the food for the actual party. The market was very similar to Paddy’s in Sydney or the Queen Victoria Market in Melbourne or the Kingston market in Canberra. They sold a variety of items for cheap whether they be fresh food, confectionary, gadgets, fantastic swords and knives, rugs, and much much more.

At one end of the market was the Computer Swap Meet area where they sell new and used computers and computer parts. I saw there a Pentium 3 450MHz box for $60 and a Pentium 2 box for $30. Sure they probably aren’t very fast but if you just want a PC to use for surfing or typing then these machines would do just fine. That and I was really just interested in the 4 GB hard disk in them. I was thinking of buying the $30 box just so I could get the hard disk and then dump the rest of it.

Fortunately, at the same table that sold the cheap old PCs, were individually sold 4GB Fujitsu hard disks for $10 only! Well, I couldn’t pass that up so I bought one at least. I certainly need an extra 4 Gigs of space on my PC to store my personal files. I asked the seller if it has any bad sectors on it. He said there weren’t. But then, should I even take his word for it? I have yet to test it though. I hope it actually works.

There were a few tables that catered for XBox and PS2 repair service. Sure. “Repair,” huh? Anywan, according to the signs, they “fix” the consoles for you right then and there all within a span of an hour. It sure is tempting to have my PS2 “fixed” but I probably wouldn’t risk losing my one-year warranty just yet.

Soon, after meeting up with some more of the gang, we left the market with our wares and took some photos of the lake and its surroundings. A little bit of posing here and there. We even got on the $3 chairlift ride over the lake and across the park. I have this terrible fear of heights and I thought it wouldn’t be a problem because the chairlift didn’t seem that high above the ground. But when the chairs began ascending, I then thought to myself that it was a big mistake to get on the rickety thing. I just console myself to the fact that I only had to ride the thing one-way (we only paid for one-way).

The rest of the morning and noon was mostly spent taking pictures from the chairlift, from the orange bridge on the other side of the park, from the bridge just before the japanese gardens area… from everywhere. Soon, it was almost 1 pm and we were getting tired from walking about, not to mention hungry.

We soon trekked back to the barbecue area where we met up with the rest of the gang. Apparently, the party really hadn’t started yet. When we got there, some of AR’s relatives started coaxing everybody to start getting food from the makeshift buffet table. There were prawns (aka shrimps), barbecued chicken wings and pork, pancit, salad, paitan, ube, bread, rice, buko pandan and more.

It was an enjoyable Sunday lunch picnic of sorts with friends. We got to catch up with what’s going on with everybody. I haven’t done something like that in ages and it was a definitely a welcome change. Soon, it was time for the birthday boy to blow the cake. Then, the party was over.

I really have to thank AR for such an enjoyable Sunday. I wouldn’t have thought of going to the Caribbean Gardens if she hadn’t invited us there. I certainly wouldn’t mind driving all the way to that park again one of these days.

Published in: on July 11, 2005 at 9:22 pm  Leave a Comment  

It’s Raquel, not Rachel

I distinctly remember this one Friends episode where Jennifer Aniston’s character, Rachel, comes home from work and the gang asks her about her day.

Rachel: Ugh, the worse day! Y’know, you think you’re making progress at work and then your boss calls you Raquel.

Chandler: Hey listen, for the first four years of my work everybody called me Sha-la-lap. (Awkward silence ensues.) Seriously.

Rachel: I believe you. So, it was right in the middle of a staff meeting so of course no one else wants to correct her so everyone else is calling me Raquel! By the end of the day, the mailroom guys were calling me Rocky!

I guffawed and laughed so hard when I heard that, it was so funny because I could relate.

People has always had trouble spelling my name. There has been instances when it has been spelt Rakel, Racquel or even Rachel. Rakel was most common when I was still growing up because my classmates simply write it as they say it. When corrected though, they started spelling it the right way. The wayward “C” in Racquel is also common even up to now – also understandable, since there are also people out there who spell their names that way (it is a variant of Raquel after all). What I don’t understand is how people could mistake Rachel for Raquel. The first is pronounced RAY-chel while my name is pronounced rah-KELL. Totally different.

And if that isn’t enough, people also has trouble pronouncing my name. I’ve also been called Rey-kell in the past as well as Rak-well. So you see, it’s not only the spelling that’s giving me grief but the pronunciation as well.

Surely, some people would argue that they are only human and are allowed to make mistakes. True, and I appreciate that some people do get the correct spelling and pronunciation after being corrected (thank you!) On the other hand, I’ve met several people just can’t get it right even after numerous reminders that my name is spelled R-A-Q-U-E-L, pronounced Rah-kell.

During my stint in a hospital in Canberra, there was this Filipino guy who just can’t get it into his head that I am not Rachel, he keeps calling me that and I keep correcting him every single time. Over time though, I figured he just doesn’t care to remember and I couldn’t care less either if he can’t get it in his thick skull that it isn’t my name. Maybe it’s a case of not being able to teach an old dog new tricks. Then there was this one time when he greeted me, “Hi, Rachel!” and I just nodded politely. My Aussie officemates asked me why I didn’t correct him. To which I answered, because I’m tired of it, he never remembers anyway! Well, they weren’t too happy about it and told me that I should keep correcting him till he gets it. They reasoned that not remembering a person’s name is just like being disrespectful of the person. The next time the guy passed by our area and did his usual “Hi, Rachel” greeting, they corrected him and told him off. He remembered to call me by my name a few times after that but reverted back to using Rachel soon after. Hopeless.

To be fair, there are people who do get it right the first time. Extra brownie points to you if you’re one of them and let me tell you, I would certainly make sure I get your name right too!

Published in: on July 7, 2005 at 1:16 am  Comments (4)  

Mystery Note

People close to me will tell you that I have a lousy memory. Although I could remember a lot of useless trivia and information, I sometimes have a hard time remembering things I’ve done. That’s why whenever I need to remember something, I have to write it down so that it becomes a sort of information that I could remember more easily. Sometiems, though, I still forget so it’s safer to just keep notes.

Yesterday, I rumaged through my wallet and found in it this folded piece of paper torn from a notebook. I frankly couldn’t remember putting a piece of paper in my wallet. I thought that maybe I wrote something important in it so I unfolded it.

In the mystery note was mostly a bunch of numbers. I didn’t understand what they meant. I couldn’t remember what the numbers were for. All I know is that at some time in the past, I wrote these numbers down because I recognized my own chicken-scratch handwriting.

For those who can’t read what’s on the actual piece of paper in the picture, here is what’s written on it:

W-E P 12
66 – 5.13, 545, 622, 6.57, 827, 947, 1117
63 – 525, 605, 633, 732, 907, 1047
65 – 645, 748, 914, 1055

66 – 642, 800, 926, 10.56
63 – 653, 752, 925, 10.55
65 – 644, 733, 844, 1024

I was genuinely puzzled as to what the numbers meant. Was it a sequence of SQL database data that I was working on in a previous job? Was it a message I had encoded into numbers so that nobody could read the message in case somebody else found the note? Was it a secret pass code for a computer game I used to play? Or something more sinister? Dun-dun-dunnn.

I pondered at the possible significance of the mystery note the whole afternoon after I found it in my wallet. And because I couldn’t even remember ever writing this note, I even fantasized that maybe it was an encoded message I wrote to myself just before my memory got erased by off-world beings in an attempt to preserve what has transpired on that fateful day. Ha! Unlikely, I know.

So, on the way home, I showed Raquel the note and asked her if she could tell what it could be? Maybe I have told her about it and she still remembers, or something. She had one look at it and declared in Tagalog, “isn’t this a bus timetable?”

Oh! I snatched the note from her and looked at the set of numbers again. Of course! It was so obvious. It was indeed the timetable for buses!

Indeed, after further research on the Internet, I found that it was the timetable for the ACTION buses that go through the Canberran suburbs of Woden and Erindale after 5 pm. The W in the note stood for Woden and the E stood for Erindale. And now I even remembered why I wrote the note in the first place.

At the time, we still didn’t have our own car and there was this sports club in Erindale where they had badminton matches every week at around 7 pm, if I recall correctly. I needed to know what time the bus goes through Woden so I would know what time I should leave the office. I also needed to know the bus trips from Erindale back to Woden after the game as it would mean a long wait or a costly taxi ride for me if I missed the bus. This info wasn’t that useful in the end because I almost never went to the badminton matches.

Anyway, Raquel basically solved the mystery of the note for me. It’s true that two heads are better than one. Specially in my case. So, let this be a lesson to some of you. When you write a note, make sure it doesn’t just contain a bunch of numbers with no explanation as to what they could mean.

Published in: on July 5, 2005 at 12:51 pm  Leave a Comment  


Yep, Ares of Mt Olympus. As in Ares, the mythological Greek god of war. For the past week, I spent my free time at home hooked on to my Playstation 2 playing the amazing God of War game from Sony Computer Entertainment America (SCEA).

I’ve been hearing great things about this PS2 game when it came out in the US. I had to wait for a few months to get my hands on a PAL version of the game (as opposed to an NTSC version from the US) that would work on my unmodded PS2 (yeah, it’s illegal to have the PS2 modded). And last week, God of War was at last available at the local EB Games shop.

Retail price was $99 if I recall correctly. A bit steep but I was sure it would’ve been well worth the price tag. However, there was a promo for it where if I had two PS2, X-Box or Gamecube games I’d be willing to part with, I could get the game for only $29! As it happened, I had three games I’m not really playing that much: X-Men Legends, Kingdom Hearts and Onimusha 3. They were decent games but I never became addicted to them.

The problem though was that according to an EB employee I asked a while back, they don’t accept just any game for trading. They would only accept a game that wasn’t more than a year old. And not just any game. The game should be a non-lemon (doesn’t suck). So, I was afraid that EB might not take my games. I especially wanted to get rid of Kingdom Hearts. It was an okay game but I hated the controls for it. I was afraid they wouldn’t take that one.

Anyway, I didn’t bring my games along that day we dropped by at EB along Elizabeth St so when we went to the EB in Chadstone, I packed the games I wanted to trade away. To my surprise though, the promo at the Chadstone EB was different. There, they were selling the game not for $29 but for $49 if you trade in not 2 games but 3 games! Unbelievable. No way!

Good thing I didn’t buy the game right then and there because when we went to the EB in Southland, the promo was the same as the EB on Elizabeth St. I told the EB employee that I wanted to trade two games in. He asked me which games I had. I gave the Kingdom Hearts game first. Fortunately, he was okay with it. The next game was the X-Men game and he was okay with that, too. With that, I was able to buy God of War for $29! Woohoo!

It’s been touted as this great graphical achievement for the PS2 with awesome gameplay and controls. I didn’t believe it until I actually played it. And once I did, I couldn’t stop playing. Well, I had to but it was really difficult to turn the PS2 off. I wasn’t much into platformer-type arcade games anymore (I’m more into First-Person Shooter games now) but this game got me hooked on these type of games again.

So let me talk a little about it. You control a Spartan character named Kratos who was a disciple of Ares, the Greek God of War. That was, until he was maligned by his very own god. Then it’s pay-back time! With the help of the other Olympian gods, you seek a way to get back at the very god that was once your master. In order to defeat Ares, you have to go through the streets of ancient Athens and the temple of Pandora on the mountain that sits on the back of Cronos, the fallen Titan.

Sounds epic? Well, it is! The game levels remind me of old fantasy flicks like Jason and the Argonauts and Clash of the Titans. In some levels, it reminded me of Indiana Jones dungeon crawling. And the last fight(s) reminded me of Belgarion vs Torak in David Eddings’ Belgariad series. You can learn more about the game by reading the reviews about it.

So, if you have a PS2 and you haven’t played it yet, I really recommend you get it. You won’t regret it.

Published in: on July 4, 2005 at 9:56 pm  Leave a Comment  

A Night of Unlimited Bowling

At Chadstone’s AMF Bowling, they have a Saturday night unlimited bowling promo that starts 11 pm (that’s right, an hour before midnight) and ends 1:30 am (that’s right, after midnight) for only $21. One round of bowling is normally $19 and $23 for two games. So, $21 for potentially four games (if we bowl real fast) seems like a good deal.

The Saturday before last, I and other Pinoy pals had three lanes of unlimited bowling. I wasn’t able to write about it earlier because I was preoccupied with other stuff during the past few days at work and at home.

Anyway, we had fun and we had improved since the last two times we went out for bowling. The other high point of that get together was that we met three new Pinoys again. And they were also living proof that it’s easy to get somebody a fiance permanent residency visa. I know that it was supposed to be ok but I’ve never really met anybody who had done it. They said that as long as you have documentation (dating receipts, love letters, etc…), you shouldn’t have any problems. No need to get married first just to get a girlfriend or boyfriend from the Philippines.

Back to the bowling, by the third game, everybody was getting tired. I wasn’t sure if it was because of the playing or because it was getting very late. Still, we had our fun in the end. Too bad not everybody was able to come along. Maybe next time.

Published in: on July 3, 2005 at 11:07 pm  Leave a Comment