Really short stories

Could you write a short story in just six words? Hemingway did it with “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.” Wired magazine challenged some of the best science fiction, horror and fantasy writers of our time and they’ve come put with amusingly clever prose. Here are some of my favourites:

Longed for him. Got him. Shit.
Margaret Atwood

Epitaph: Foolish humans, never escaped Earth.
Vernor Vinge

We went solar; sun went nova. –
Ken MacLeod

Harry Harrison

And here’s my own very short story, which I hope would not be mankind’s story in the future.

Climate change conspiracy theories wrong. Help!

Published in: on November 16, 2006 at 12:20 pm  Comments (1)  

Where’s Our Mower?

A while back, our GMC mower broke down. Fortunately, it has a two year warranty. Ideally, when it breaks, I could just bring it to where I bought it, Bunnings Warehouse in this case, and just have it replaced. Unfortunately for us, there was a change in GMC’s warranty replacement policy just a few days before the mower broke.

When I attempted to have it replaced at Bunnings, they told me they couldn’t due to the policy change. I had to send a service request to GMC and I had to get the replacement for them. That meant that in order to have the mower replaced, I would probably need to take leave off work just to wait for their people to pick up the old mower and deliver a new one as they don’t deliver or pickup on weekends.

But, I have no choice, really. It was too late. I already bought the darned thing and I needed it replaced. So, I submitted the service request and a week later, I got a call back from GMC. The lady on the phone told me that they would be sending somebody over to pick up the broken mower.

About a month later now, I have yet to receive the replacement mower. I was told then that there would be a delay in sending the replacement due to shortage in stock. So, where is our new mower?

I called up GMC and finally got to speak to a service consultant. I asked her what happened and why haven’t I received my replacement mower yet? She put me on hold for a few minutes then came back on to tell me that their system were currently (supposedly) offline so she couldn’t look into my service request. Riiighht.

She did tell me that somebody would reach me when the system comes back up. And somebody did. The caller told me that they finally have the mower back in stock and they’re prepared to deliver it anytime. As long as it is during the work hours on a work day. Great.

Since I didn’t want to take leave off work just to wait for the GMC to knock on my door and hand me the replacement mower, I reluctantly asked GMC to just deliver the new mower to our office. Sure it’ll be embarassing and cumbersome to have it delivered there but I don’t have a lot of options available to me.

Well, we did learn a lesson from all this. We’ll never buy a GMC power tool again. I’ll take my chances with another brand next time with the hope that its warranty (if I ever need it) allows for a replacement from the shop where I bought it.

Published in: on November 15, 2006 at 9:55 pm  Comments (3)  

Voting for The Greens

The coming State Election on November 25 will be the first ever election we’ll be participating in here in Australia. Unlike the Philippines, voting in elections is mandatory here so even if you don’t know much about the local politics (and politicians), you’d still have to vote.

At the moment in Victoria, the Labor Party is in power with Steve Bracks as the Premier. Other political parties vying for power are the Liberal Party, The Greens and Family First. If there are other parties beside these, I’m not aware of them.

The Liberal Party is just as big as the Labor Party here in Australia while The Greens and Family First are considered relatively smaller parties. Although I’m not very happy with Steve Bracks’ government, I’m not sure if I want Ted Baillieu (of the Liberal Party) to be the next Premier of Victoria.

What I’m sure of though is that I want the government to pay more attention to issues concerning climate change. It’s pretty clear that The Greens would be the ideal party to elect into office if I want the government to be more environment friendly. Although I don’t agree with all of The Greens’ policies, I feel that I can live with them if it meant saving the planet.

So, yeah, I’m voting for The Greens on election day. And if there are spots left for other candidates, I’d probably vote in some people from the Labor Party as they are also promising some of the same things The Greens are.

According to a pamphlet distributed by The Greens, they will work for the following:

  • fast, frequent well-connected and safe public transport
  • a focus on illness prevention, community and mental health services
  • revitalised public education
  • real action on climate change, forests and water
  • trains and trams wevery ten minutes in peak periods
  • buses that connect with trains and trams
  • services that start earlier and run later
  • extend train and tram lines to outer suburbs
  • cheaper fares across the state
  • public transport in new housing developments
  • more regional rail services and better rural bus services
  • an end to privatisation – public transport back in public hands
Published in: on November 13, 2006 at 11:07 pm  Leave a Comment  

No Chokkies Experiment

I’ve just accepted a challenge my dear wife Raquel has thrown at me. The challenge was that, starting tomorrow, I’m not to eat any chocolates for two weeks. At the end of two weeks, we’ll finid out if I’ll lose any weight because of my abstinence from chocolates.

We got the idea from watching a recent episode of What’s Good For You on Channel 9. They had a little experiment where four blokes who were asked to stop drinking beer for a period of time. At the end of the experiment, they’ll find out if they’ve lost weight and a few inches from their belly.

In our experiment, instead of beer, I’m abstaining from chocolates (since I don’t really drink). I wouldn’t do anything different in terms of exercise or diet except for not eating chocolate. At the end of two weeks, hopefully, I’d be a little slimmer than today.

Published in: on November 12, 2006 at 8:45 pm  Leave a Comment  

A Newer and Bigger Tablet

I purchased a new Wacom Graphire4 6×8 tablet to replace my older and smaller Graphire3 4×5 tablet. I’ve only been using my old tablet recently more frequently when I started drawing comics again and I figured, I could invest in a better model than the one I have right now.

At first I was tempted to buy the more advanced (and dearer) Wacom Intuos3 series tablet but it costs almost double the equivalent sized Graphire4 models. There are additional cool features in the Intuos3 that are absent from the Graphire4 but after much thinking, I felt that those additional features couldn’t justify the cost. Specially since I’m not really a professional artist or anything like that.

Anyway, I took the plunge and bought the Graphire4 6×8 model which is a size up from my older tablet. And now I believe that the size of the tablet does matter. With the old tablet, I had to draw things small and it hurts my fingers if I had to draw a lot of small squigly things on it. With the new tablet, drawing on it isn’t such a chore. It is actually enjoyable now.

So enjoyable in fact that I did a quick sketch on Painter while “breaking it in”. I posted the small sketch on the right. It’s a picture of nobody in particular so don’t ask who it is. I just used the pencil tool to draw the quick sketch then the oil tool to add the shading parts on it.

After trying two Wacom tablets and one non-Wacom tablet in the past, if you ever decide to buy a tablet, I absolutely recommend that you buy a Wacom-branded tablet and no other. And don’t buy the 4×5 sized tablet (because it’s the cheapest) but opt for the bigger sizes. Your hand will thank you for it.

And now, I can’t wait to draw some more on it.

Published in: on November 9, 2006 at 11:56 pm  Comments (3)  

Dear Future Self

I got a suspicious looking email this morning. Suspicious, because 1). it doesn’t have any subject line; and 2). the from tag was I contemplated for a few seconds if I should just report it to Yahoo! as spam but curiosity won so I opened the thing anyway. Here’s what it contained:

Greetings from your past. In the fall of 2005, you agreed to receive this message, which has been preserved for a year in the E-Mail Time Capsule. For more details, visit

    Here is the text of your message:

  • In the process of completing purchase of house.
  • About to go to NZ for the first time over the Christmas holidays.
  • In the news: Raids in Melbourne and Sydney to arrest terror suspects. 17 arrests made.
  • In the news: Phil. people court established to oust GMA.
  • Plans to go back to Phils. next year for a holiday.
  • Contemplating taking up a course in creative writing or interior decoration.
  • Watching: The Apprentice, Survivor:Guatemala, House, Mythbusters, 24, Alias.
  • Reading: mostly interior decoration books, superannuation choices (not much fiction but last fiction book read was Hominids by Robert Sawyer).
  • Last movie watched: The exorcism of Emily Rose. Planning to watch: Flight plan
  • Currently eating at Jap. fastfood shops Tokio, Ume, Shuji Sushi.
  • Wondering if it’s worth to pursuing MS certs now as there would be new ones coming in Jan. 2006.
  • Blogging occasionally, site currently number 59 in Pinoy Top Blogs.

Looking at this list, here’s the update.

  • After one year of living in our current house, we’re grateful that we didn’t overextend ourselves by buying a more expensive house (0.75% increase in interest rates since we got our mortgage!)
  • We went to New Zealand last year during the Christmas holidays and loved the place and the people. Terrible choice of accomodations though and we would have had a better time if we spent the Christmas holidays with friends or families (neither of which were in NZ).
  • In the news (Aus): Not sure what happened to those terrorist suspects but terrorism remains a threat. Currently in the news: Democrats winning the upper and lower house in the US while interest rate rise, drought and stem cell research feature in the local news.
  • In the news (Phils): GMA still in power.
  • Yup, we’re going back to the Philippines before the year is out so this one gets a tick.
  • Still thinking of taking up a creative writing course but not in the near future. Decided interior decoration is not for me.
  • Watching: Don’t watch Alias anymore but still are fans of The Apprentice, Survivor, House, Mythbusters, 24. New additions include The Amazing Race, NCIS, Heroes, Jericho, Criminal Minds, How I Met Your Mother, Thank God You’re Here. Yup, too much screen time here.
  • Reading: (Non-fiction): Half Gone by Jeremy Leggett, Future Eaters by Tim F. Flannery. (Fiction): Lisey’s Story by Stephen King.
  • Never got to watch Flight Plan. Last movie watched: Kenny (great Aussie film!) Planning to watch: Who Killed the Electric Car?
  • Still eats at the same fast food joints. Although we’ve recently discovered UB‘s delicious burgers!
  • Didn’t go through with the Microsoft certifications. Just plain old laziness on my part.
  • Still blogs occasionally, site currently number number 105 in Pinoy Top Blogs.

Funny how one year could make a big difference in some areas and no difference at all in others. I think I’ll send another time capsule to future self 2007 regarding our current hopes and plans and compare how we did after one year. It sure beats making New Year’s resolutions I never keep anyway!

Published in: on November 9, 2006 at 12:35 pm  Comments (6)  

Borders Addiction

Raquel and I love books. We love hanging out in the library and bookshops even when we were still in the Philippines. Here in Australia, we still frequent the libraries and the bigger bookshops like Borders. For those of you in the Philippines, think of Borders like a bigger PowerBooks bookshop where they have a wide selection of books and it’s okay for you to just read there while having a cup of coffee.

I’ve already bought a lot of books from Borders but now we found ourselves buying books from there on a regular basis. We joined the Borders e-mail subscription service a few months ago and we’ve been receiving amazing discounts for books on a weekly basis since then.

They started small actually by sometimes sending a discount voucher for 20% off on all full priced books. Of course, the offer was too good to pass up then so we bought a couple of books. A few weeks later, it’s 25% off all full priced graphic novels and manga. Being a comicbook geek, how could I pass that up, right? The next few weeks are followed by more discount vouchers at 20%-25%.

Raquel had already commented to me that the Borders e-mail vouchers are making us addicted to buying stuff from Borders and that we should stop being a slave to Borders’ discount coupons. But two weeks ago, we got a voucher for 30% off for full priced books! We resisted the urge to buy something from Borders despite the 30% discount.

Last week though, the offer was now “buy any 3 books and get 30% off or buy any 4 books and get 40% off!” Now, 40% off I just couldn’t let pass. There were books I’d love to buy but found them just too expensive in the past. But if they were 40% discounted, I’d certainly get myself a copy of these books.

So, earlier today, while everybody else in Melbourne was probably watching the annual Melbourne Cup, we spent our day at the Highpoint shopping centre where there is a Borders shop (the nearest one from our home). We ended up buying four books.

Darn you Borders and your darned discount vouchers!

Published in: on November 7, 2006 at 11:59 pm  Comments (4)  

Phillip Island Excursion

Due to a very busy couple of weeks, I was unable to post about our most recent Melbourne Pinoys get-together at Phillip Island. The meeting was probably the biggest one we’ve ever organised so far. Well, Chinita deserves most of the credit for organising the whole thing, actually. If it weren’t for her, I don’t think the get-together would’ve been much of a success. So, thanks W aka Chinita!

For those interested, here are some of the photos from our camera, at least.

Anyway, we, the Werribee-based guys (Raquel, Me and our good old neighbor Milkshake), went together in M’s car. We decided earlier on that we’ll just drive straight to Phillip Island while everybody else will meet at Chinita’s place first then proceed from there. Because of some minor confusion with rendezvous locations, we started the actual get-together a little later than planned. Still, it was all good.

We were able to find a good spot at Cowes near the beach with a barbecue and a roof (it was raining earlier that day). Everybody brought the food and necessities assigned to them and more. We had a glorious feast with a variety of dishes. The only time I see these many choices of dishes is when I go visit my cousins’ place during Fiesta in the Philippines. It was like we were having our own little Fiesta celebration right there.

I’m glad that we were able to come together with friends again, as well, as meet new ones. It’s always nice to meet new people. As they say, the more, the merrier.

After having lunch and strolling along the beach, we all drove in a convoy to the A Maze’N Things attraction. It’s basically a big funhouse with a giant maze and a maxigolf course. I originally wanted to go there just for the maze but afterward, I actually found the funhouse part of the attraction a lot more fun. After that, the rest of the gang went on to the Koala Conservation Park for some Koala sight-seeing. But having seen quite a few koalas already, some of us decided to just stay at the Puzzle Cafe to have some rest and chat.

We ended the day with a drive to the Nobbies which was a high point overlooking the ocean. It was actually quite near where the penguins spend the night. We ate the lunch leftovers and then took some more photos along the boardwalk. The sunset was beautiful. What a way to end the day.

We were only forced to go home because the rangers were closing down the Nobbies area for the night. Apparently, the penguins and other wildlife go through the area and it would be dangerous for them if there are still people about driving their cars in the dark. We said our goodbyes and headed for home.

It was a fun get-together ableit exhausting. We should do something like it again some time in the future.

Published in: on November 6, 2006 at 11:01 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Ride

We had the car booked for a regular service check today at Toyota Melbourne so we rode the car to work today instead of taking the train as we normally do. Today being a rainy day (finally), I initially thought that we had chosen a good day not to have to walk to the station.

It usually takes about 30-40 minutes to get to the city from our place by car but not today. There were reports of a crash near West Gate Bridge and “a nightmarish traffic condition”. There was a long line of slow moving cars at the Westgate Freeway near Altona and we basically crawled along until we got to the bridge, after which the pace picked up a bit (but not by much). We left the house at 8.20 and arrived at work at around 9.40. If we had taken the 8.26 train, we would have gotten in at work before 9.30. D’oh, perhaps this is not a good day to bring the car after all.

When hubby told me that the expected bill for the service is about $288, I had a mini heart attack. It was actually supposed to be $320 but we mentioned the 10% discount voucher from their website so we got a slightly cheaper rate. Last time we had the car serviced at Toyota Werribee, the bill came to less than $200. We suspected that the service centre here at the CBD might be a bit expensive but this is highway robbery! If only the service centre in Werribee still services cars during Saturdays, we wouldn’t have had the car serviced in the CBD. Toyota Werribee used to do car servicing on Saturdays but our friend M. has told us that they now only accept cars for servicing on the morning of the first Saturday of the month. We thought that since we work in the city anyway, we thought it would be more convenient to take it to Toyota Melbourne in the morning and pick it up in the afternoon. D’oh number 2.

On the bright side, at least it’s finally raining and it means more water in our catchments.

Published in: on November 2, 2006 at 12:15 pm  Comments (4)