Calendar girls, geek edition?

A calendar featuring women working in IT seem to be causing major waves in media this week, with the Australian Computer Society withdrawing its support. The calendar consists of photos of the models posing as screen sirens with scenes/posters copied from such movies such as Charlie’s Angels, Basic Instinct, Dr No and Star Wars. Sonja Bernhardt, the only Australian inducted into Women in Technology International’s hall of fame and founder of Women in Technology Queensland (WIT) conceptualised the calendar and posed for its American Beauty cover.

The primary objective of the calendar is to attract girls to go into information technology, a field usually considered irrelevant and boring. Ms Bernhardt has said that “the method in the madness is to get to a broader audience so that people can see that it’s not nerds in the IT industry.”

The calendar has drawn mixed reactions though, with some people saying that the models were portrayed as sex objects. One comment I read in the digg.com forum said that it’s not a good idea to shatter a stereotype(women in IT are geeky) with another stereotype(women are sex objects) and goes on to say that a model posing as a captured Princess Leia in a golden bikini does little to help empower women who are already in IT.

When I first showed hubby the article about the controversy surrounding the calendar, he said that the calendar seem to be targeted for men. I don’t think showing IT women as bombshells would make the future generation of girls go rushing into the industry. I understand that they would like to portray women in the industry as sexy, intelligent and interesting but I didn’t think that imitating actors in posters is a good choice. I would have preferred to see a photo of them going about their daily lives and seeing what they do when they’re not in front of the monitors. Maybe a photo of someone taking a photo (if the model is into photography) or maybe someone interested in rock climbing being shown in one of her climbs or even something ordinary like playing with kids (maybe a mum) or maybe working as a volunteer. With the proper execution and a good photographer, it could have been classy, interesting and would have shown that people in IT contribute to society too, albeit a bit behind the scenes sometimes. Which was why my favorite photo is that of Sharon Don, who posed as Dr No character Honey Ryder. She’s a self-confessed beach body and photo of her used in the calendar shows what she like to do when she’s not working with computers.

They say any publicity is good publicity, I don’t know if that’s true in this case. I do hope they still do well with the sale of this calendar. After all, it’s easy to criticise but it should be remembered that they’ve put themselves out there in the name of fun and a good cause.

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Published in: on July 13, 2006 at 1:27 am  Comments (2)  

Seeds of memory

I don’t exactly recall how old I was but I remember it happened on a a very hot day and I was at my grandparents’ home. Tired and sweaty after playing, I gladly had some of the cold watermelon slices I was offered as a snack. It was sweet and juicy but in my haste in consuming the fruit, I had accidentally swallowed a couple of seeds.

I remember my terror as I felt it slide through my throat. I tried to force it back out but couldn’t. I think my grandma assured me it was okay but I was still worried as I walked back home. I was always told that I wasn’t supposed to swallow seeds, why would adults give out that warning if it’s okay to eat them anyway? I was convinced I would have to be rushed to the hospital soon and doctors would have to open me up and hunt for the seeds in my stomach. Terrible thoughts, I know.

Which may probably be why I cried as I walked the short distance home. I was crying when I recounted the incident to my mother and was still sobbing when my dad came home from work nearly an hour later.

My dad asked my mom what I was wailing about and she told him that I had swallowed a few watermelon seeds. My dad then told me that the seed would now germinate in my tummy and that it would grow, not a bad thing he said, as we’d then have our very own watermelon source. Imagine all the watermelon we could have for free, he said.

In my mind’s eye, I saw my stomach would grow, housing a humongous watermelon that would have vines that would stick out of my mouth, which would produce more watermelons. I figured that what must have happened to all those women who walk around with their big bellies, they must have swallowed watermelon seeds too!

Of course, I howled even louder and my mom scolded my father for scaring me more than I already was. He told me then that he was just kidding and that I having nothing to worry about. I don’t remember how he convinced me that he was telling the truth then but I guess I bought it or I would have remembered crying all night.

One night several years later when we were having some watermelon after dinner, I told my dad to eat his slice carefully or the seeds might grow inside his belly. He laughed, amused that I remembered the incident from several years back. He said he thought that I may be too young to remember what had happened then.

What bought on this anecdote? Well, we were watching the TV show What’s Good For You last night and they tackled this old wives’ tale. I figured long before the experiment on the show that the seeds won’t have a harmful effect. Hey, I even enjoy eating roasted butong pakwan (watermelon seeds) now and what do you know, it’s actually nutritious!

Still, I now prefer the seedless watermelon variety. Pity they’re not as common in the Philippines as it is here or it might have saved me from that horrific memory from many years before.

Published in: on July 11, 2006 at 5:03 pm  Comments (2)  

National Hero

Today, my friend Arnold sent me and a bunch of our friends an e-mail with the subject, “Our New National Hero.” It has an attached image in sepia colours. Click here to see the photo or the thumbnail.

My first thought was, “is this supposed to be Jose Rizal (the Philippines’ National Hero)?” But I knew that it just couldn’t be. Jose Rizal was one of the most photographed (and painted) of the Philippine heroes from the 19th century and I believe I’ve seen a lot of those photos (and paintings). And this wasn’t one of them.

I’m starting to think that this is just one big joke so I replied to Arnold’s e-mail asking him up-front who this person is supposed to be. He replied to saying that it was Jose Rizal. I didn’t believe him though.

Of course, those of you who are in the Philippines or following the goings-on in the Philippines would recognise immediately the face in this photo. I, however, didn’t. I then assumed that this was one of those e-mail hoaxes that is claiming that this is a long lost photo of Jose Rizal. And so, I set out to disprove the authenticity of this photo.

I scoured the Internet for photos of Rizal but all I got were mostly just different versions of Jose Rizal’s portrait commonly found in the old 2 Peso bills. The other photos I have of Rizal were in the Philippine history books I have stashed at home so I couldn’t reference those.

As a last resort, I even wrote an e-mail to renowned Filipino historian, Ambeth Ocampo, to ask his opinion of this supposed photo of Jose Rizal.

I received his reply this evening:

Thats Abraham Lincolns photo with the head of Manny pacquiao the prize
boxer put in by photo shop. 🙂
ambeth

I couldn’t stop laughing. Now that he mentioned it, I realised that it was just Manny Pacquiao! I should’ve known. And if I had been following the boxing news from the Philippines, I might have been more familiar with Manny’s mug.

Ah, well. I had to apologise to Ambeth Ocampo and thank him for humouring my question:

Hi Mr Ambeth Ocampo,

HAHAHAHA! I feel like such a fool. I should’ve known. Unfortunately, I’ve been in Australia for far too long that I didn’t follow Pacquiao’s boxing bouts. Although I know who he is and I’d probably recognise him if he is pointed out to me as Manny Pacquiao, I’m not familiar with his face enough to pick him out of this photo.

And now I know for sure that my “friend” is definitely having me on! Hehe. Ah well.

Thank you for humouring my question anyway. 😀 I truly appreciate it. I apologise for the inconvenience.

Regards,
Geejay

Arnold, mate, you got me good!

Edit: The photo is claimed to be created by Dung Markus.

Published in: on July 5, 2006 at 10:15 pm  Comments (7)  

Hello? Anybody home?

For a while now, we’ve been getting messages on our answering machine with nothing in it. Just a few minutes of silence and some intermittent white noise. We were puzzled by this for some time now but we didn’t think much of it. We thought the callers were probably just telemarketers deciding to leave empty messages to annoy us.

This weekend though, we bought a cordless phone for our VOIP phone line. To test the new phone, we decided to use it to call our land-line phone. Raquel answered the land-line phone and, to my surprise, I couldn’t hear her over the VOIP phone. As it turned out, she couldn’t hear me on the land-line phone either.

It then finally dawned on me that the empty messages we had on our answering machine weren’t just from telemarketers trying to be annoying. There could have been legitimate callers trying to reach us and we just didn’t know about it. At first, we thought that the fault may be with the telephone lines which we had an electrician rewire recently.

Still, I tried different phones on the different line connections we have in the house before I finally realised the real problem: I forgot to use an ADSL Filter/Splitter on the land line phone! We used to have only one phone jack in the house where we had the land-line phone and the ADSL broadband modem connected via the ADSL Filter/Splitter.

But when we had two more phone jack extensions installed in the house, I moved the broadband modem into one of the rooms along with the filter and left the phone where it was without the filter. Apparently, it is the phone that requires the filter more than the broadband modem.

I removed the filter from the modem connection and placed it on the phone connection and viola! Our land line phone is working again and able to receive in-coming calls. I just hope that all of those who had left us messages in the past were just telemarketers and nobody important.

Published in: on July 2, 2006 at 11:54 pm  Leave a Comment  

Superman Returns Just Didn’t Fly

I’ve eagerly awaited the coming of Superman Returns to theatres for quite some time now. I was a big Superman fan in my younger years (the movies and the actual DC comics). Even though in retrospect, Superman III was very silly and Superman IV was horrible, I thought they were pretty good at the time. I also got into the Superman-related TV shows such as Lois and Clark, Superboy and, recently, Smallville.

So, when I heard that ex-X-Men director Bryan Singer got tapped to direct the latest Superman film, I was all excited. He did a pretty decent job with the X-Men franchise, after all.

Time passed and information regarding the new film started to leak to the press. I was doubtful of Singer’s selection of Brandon Routh as Superman. Sure he kinda resembled Christopher Reeve but that shouldn’t be the only basis for his selection. Well, this is the first time I’ve heard of him so I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and wait till I see him in action before I pass judgement.

Then photos from the movie started to appear on the Web. I didn’t like the swimsuit texture of the suit, the maroon cape, the small S-shield on his chest and that ridiculous small S-shield on his belt buckle. Well, maybe I wouldn’t notice it much when I’m actually watching the movie.

Last night, we watched Superman Returns at the Werribee Plaza cinema. Due to some Coke promo, we were able to watch the movie for only $5 each. And it was lucky that we did, too. Because I was disappointed with the film overall.

If you haven’t watched the movie yet and have every intention to do so, I have to warn you that there would be spoilers ahead. If you believe me that it is not worth watching, then by all means, read on. If you still want to watch it anyway and don’t want to get spoiled, stop now and just read this later.

Anyway, the new movie seems to have started where Superman and Superman II (yes, the original Superman movies with Christopher Reeve as Superman) left off. You can forget that Superman III and IV ever happened. My point is, we should pretend that the first and second movies actually already happened in this movie’s continuity. But if that’s true, then why did they rehash the exact same lines of dialogue from those two movies in this one?

I’ll admit that I’m a geek and that I have the dialogue for the first two movies ingrained into my brain. So when I heard the exact same dialog used by the same character on the film, it was a little jarring, if not unbelievable.

And what’s with Clark/Superman? Clark drank beer? I thought Superman doesn’t drink! He drinks milk. It’s a morality thing. Superman should stand for all that’s good and alcohol is generally considered not good for you. Sure, it makes Superman more idealistic than realistic but that’s who Superman is. If you want somebody who has less moral fibre, we have Batman for that. That annoyed me. And Superman has a bastard son?! Meaning, he had premarital sex and not safe sex. Sheesh. In the story, Lois has already moved on with her life after Superman disappeared for five years. She already has a fiance and a child. And what does Supes do? He tries to cut into someone else’s lunch? Is that right? Homewrecker! It’s so un-Superman. This should have been titled Bizarro Returns.

Lex Luthor is supposed to be this smart person but when he had a chance to kill Superman, what did he do? He let his goons kick Supes around until he was near the edge of a cliff. Then when Lex had a chance to stab him, instead of aiming for the chest, he stabbed him on the side. What for? Didn’t he want to kill him? Why take the chance? Then he let Supes fall into the sea where, of course, he got saved by Lois.

Then, while Supes was in the presence of all this Kryptonite, he was still able to lift an entire island made out of Kryptonite and throw it into space. Wasn’t Kryptonite supposed to render him powerless? It was crazy.

Then there are these parts where the people are standing and looking into the heavens evenly spaced apart from one another. What the heck was that? It was so unbelievable. There were a lot of times when I know I should feel excited by what’s happening on screen but I didn’t. I’m still wondering why. While watching, I kept on thinking why I felt more excited watching Spider-man or Batman in action but not Superman in this film. I still don’t know why.

I also hated that there were a lot of boring parts in the film. I feel like some scenes were completely unnecessary or could’ve been shortened. I also hate the fact that they had Clark return to Smallville with his mother but almost nothing happened there. Except for the mean thing than Clark did when his dog wanted to play ball with him and he threw the ball with all his strength. Of course the dog wasn’t going to be able to find that ball! Evil, Clark. Supermeany.

As for Brandon Routh, although he did look like Christopher Reeves on most shots, he couldn’t manage Chris’s benevolent smile. When Brandon smiles, it looks more like a smirk. I also feel like his performance as Clark/Superman was a bit wooden. Jimmy Olsen seemed to have performed better. But maybe it was the writers’ fault for not giving the main characters more character-development scenes. They seem to have concentrated too much on the visuals.

I could go on and on about the bad stuff so I’ll just stop here. For the good stuff, well, the visual effects were great. But you have to expect that by now with the level of technology at the studios’ disposal. And somebody flying isn’t such a big deal anymore. Spider-man swinging from building to building, now that’s amazing!

I kinda like the homage to the first films though like the ending where Superman flies off and takes orbit around the Earth. That was cool.

All in all, I disliked the film. I couldn’t stop ranting about it last night. And now, I was able to put some of those rants into writing. I can finally sleep soundly tonight.

Published in: on July 1, 2006 at 1:21 am  Leave a Comment