After a lot of troublesome work, I was finally able to move all the posts from the old Palabok site to this one at It also took a while for me to iron out the problem with the URL forwarding for itself so that it will point to this new URL.

So, for now, this is’s new home.

And like I said in the old blog, I’m feeling in the mood to start blogging again after spending all that time setting this one up.

Published in: on March 16, 2009 at 9:52 pm  Comments (4)  

Workaholic? Me?

I’ve never been the workaholic type. Sure, I’m used to devoting endless hours to personal projects and gaming but not actual office work. At the office, I’m usually aching to get out of there when it’s the prescribed close of business time.

Lately, I’m finding myself staying later than usual to finish off some loose ends at the office. The thing is, I don’t actually mind in those instances. I feel like work is becoming a game I need to win. I also felt the least stress at work I’ve ever been for years.

I think I’ve become a workaholic when I wasn’t paying attention. I feel proud for what I’ve accomplished at work and what I’m continually accomplishing. I also take it seriously if I make mistakes. I want to be the best that I can be.

If my past me could see what I’m like now, he wouldn’t believe it.

I guess striving to achieve a sort of promotion at work is keeping me very motivated to work hard and smart. It’s like a game where I’m trying to get my character to the next level up.

Unlike games, I have no real gauge as to how close I am to going up a level. I’ll just have to keep working at it in the hope that I’m making a difference. The good part is that it doesn’t feel like work. I find myself having fun right now.

Okay, it may be fun but I still hope that there is an added benefit for me at the end of the day. Having more disposable income is, of course, always welcome, specially when having a family.

Published in: on September 11, 2008 at 6:28 pm  Comments (2)  

Close call

We were out pretty late one weeknight because Raquel had to go to her Photography class which ends at 9pm. There were some roadworks at the freeway that night so some lanes had to be closed.

I had to do a merge when we got on the freeway like I usually do and it always made me slightly nervous each time. You have to come in at 80kph and make sure that there isn’t a car on the lane you’re merging into by the time you need to do the merge. Otherwise, crash!

There we were attempting the merge with slow vehicles in front of us which always makes merging a tad more challenging. I looked right and there was an approaching car. I’d make the merge if I could just gain more speed. So I sped up while ensuring I don’t hit the slow car in front of me. I merged just at the right moment. Whew.

Then I noticed that the lane I was on would become closed-off a few metres down the road so I quickly switched to the right lane (and only lane that would remain open) to avoid worrying about another more challenging merge later. After the switch, I stepped on the gas to get up to the posted speed limit and avoid being rear-ended by the fast-moving oncoming car behind us.

However, the car that was in front of us in the previous lane decided at that moment to switch lanes and get right I’m front of us. The car in front of that car also had the same idea but did it more slowly than the one in front of us.

Suddenly, the car in front of us braked to avoid hitting the car in front of it. I had to suddenly pull my foot away from the gas pedal and slammed it on the brake pedal with all my might! We continued to skid forward anyway! I can see the bonnet of the car quickly closing in on the front car’s rear and the only thing I could do was to continue to floor the brakes. I looked at my rear view mirror and the speeding car behind us also hit the brakes but was skidding right for us.

If I hit the car in front of us and force us to come to a halt, I was sure that the car behind us would hit us as well. So for the next few seconds, I was trying my darnest not to collide with the car ahead. As I floored the brakes, I steered the car to the right hoping that angling the car diagonally would give us slightly more space between us and the car in front of us. But I had to control the steering to make sure I don’t crash against the freeway’s right-most railing.

It was amazing! We didn’t touch the car ahead of us and we weren’t rear ended neither! It was the closest thing to drifting I had ever done. Once the car in front started to gain some speed, I realigned our car and stepped on the gas. And then all was well again.

Talk about close calls. It was so close to becoming a roadside disaster and I’m thankful Raquel and I came out of it in one piece.

Thinking back, there were two things that may have contributed to our lucky escape: all those years playing video games prepared me to react quickly to sudden changes in environment; and I remembered that before I drove off the car park, I prayed that God bless our trip. I usually don’t pray before driving but I did that night. I leave it to you which of the two contributed more to our safe ride home. I’m just glad we got out of that whole incident safe and sound.

Published in: on August 28, 2008 at 7:22 pm  Comments (4)  

Still life


A work mate brought her Canon 400D today and I had a bit of a play with it. Most of the photos I took were fuzzy, dark and had the focus on the wrong thing. It was a bit frustrating because I wanted to test the lens, a 50mm f/1.8 prime lens, which is supposed to be tack-sharp and allows heaps of light. I guess it goes to show that a good understanding of how your camera works is the foundation of taking good photos.

Anyway, these are the best of the batch and I loved the depth of field on these. It’s a bit of a cliche but I just couldn’t resist taking photos of these businessmen statues!


Published in: on August 18, 2008 at 11:55 am  Comments (2)  

Tale of the tinned tuna

It all started when Gabriel opened a tin of tuna to prepare our breakfast sandwiches for the next day. He was in the kitchen and I was in the rumpus when he exclaimed that something’s not right with the tin he just opened. Imagining the worse, I thought there was something dead and rotting inside the tin, or something that shouldn’t be there, like maybe a dead insect or something. There was something inside the tin that shouldn’t be there alright, but it was not a disgusting insect or anything rotten.

You see, the tin he opened was labelled Caramelised Onion and Tomato and yet the contents of the tin had a white sauce instead of the expected red. We were so dumb-founded that we both stared at the tin on the counter for several seconds, maybe even a minute or two, trying to reconcile the label with the contents and wondering what the hell has gone wrong?

We ran a fork into the center of the tin to see if maybe half of the contents are right but all we saw was tuna, mustard seeds and white sauce. I was still staring stupidly at this suspect tin while hubby got another tin marked Caramelised Onion and Tomato from the cupboard. He opened that and breathed a sigh of relief as he saw the expected red sauce. Looks like the first tin of tuna was an aberration after all and didn’t affect the whole batch.

Curious as to what the first tin contained, I proposed that we eat it. Horrified, hubby said that maybe I shouldn’t and maybe it’s not safe. Well, if curiosity killed the cat, this cat could have been killed by a tin of tuna because I ate it anyway. I poked around the can some more, smelled the contents, tasted it and proceeded to spread it onto a slice of bread. It tasted like tuna with mayonnaise and mustard and a later search in the manufacturer’s site made us conclud that the tin actually contained the Seeded Mustard Mayonnaise flavour. It was nice and hubby actually liked it but we were still disappointed that we now have one less Caramelised Onion and Tomato and we were already looking forward to that for our breakfast the next day.

The next day, I showed the tuna of the photo to a work mate and she said that I should write the manufacturer expressing my concern. I was planning to send the company a proper snail mail complete with a print of the photo I took of the two tins side by side. Having to compose the letter, print the photo and then mailing the letter just seemed to be too much work though and I finally settled on filling out the online form on the manufacturer’s site.

It took a couple of days for them to reply. The contents of the email basically had a reference number on it, inviting me to call their customer service lined on weekdays from 9am-5pm. At this point, I just couldn’t be bothered anymore and replied to the email that I have given them all the information they needed to rectify the problem (I sent them the barcode number and the numbers stamped on top of the tin, but not the photo as there isn’t a facility to attach photos in their online form). That was a couple of days ago and I thought that was the end of it.

However, I got an envelope bearing the manufacturer’s name yesterday containing a letter, a page of recipes flogging their corned beef and a mail order cheque for $3. Here’s part of the body of the letter.

Incorrect labelling is very unusual because of the strict precautions taken to ensure that each container has the right label. What may have happened in this case is that an error has occurred either in sorting or in feeding labels into the machine, and this has been missed during final inspection before packing.

As a result of your report, our Quality and Production staff have been advised so that corrective action can be taken.

We are concerned that you have been inconvenienced as a result of this incident and, as a gesture of goodwill, we have enclosed reimbursement for your purchase. We value your custom and trust you will continue to enjoy our products in the future.

Should you require further information do not hesitate to call us on our Consumer Services Helpline (number given).

And with that, I suppose that is the end of the whole tale. I’m still a bit wary of their product though and haven’t bought anything else from them since the tuna incident. I buy things from manufacturers expecting that I get what I paid for and that it has passed stringent quality checks. Although package mislabelling doesn’t seem to be such a big deal in this instance, it somehow casts a shadow of doubt on what else could go wrong or has gone wrong in their production process.

Would I buy from their brand again? Not if I can help it.

Published in: on August 15, 2008 at 12:23 pm  Comments (5)  

Madeira cake out of a box

I’m not a fan of anything pre-mixed but figured I should probably try some before I knock them so when the local supermarket had a promotion of 2 cake mixes for cheap, I bought two. This is the first of the two I’ve baked. I followed the instructions on the box exactly, going as far as timing the mixing on the stop watch function of my mobile phone. It’s pretty much fool-proof I guess, just add two eggs and milk.

The finished product came out looking just like the photo on the box and the cake was moist and had a very nice texture to it. We weren’t too keen on the lemony taste of the cake though and I bought most of the batch to work. A work mate rated it “very nice”.

Hmmm… maybe this pre-mix thing isn’t too bad after all? Don’t know about that though as I scanned the ingredients list on the box and saw several ingredients with numbers in them (477 or some such thing). I guess they’re okay for when you’re in a pinch or just can’t be bothered making things from scratch but I won’t make a habit of it.

Published in: on August 14, 2008 at 7:59 am  Comments (3)  

What’s wrong with this picture?

Bought these two tins of tuna from the supermarket on special. Aside from blurring out the brand name, the subjects and the photo were not changed in any way.

Published in: on August 12, 2008 at 7:55 am  Comments (5)  

Dinner is served

Hubby had to work late tonight and I had to eat dinner alone. Here’s what I had, chicken and zucchini soup. The original recipe called for pork but I used chicken instead although I followed the recipe exactly (although the proportions were a bit different as I rarely measure ingredients). As the recipe had no photo, I submitted mine and it got accepted. Anyway, the soup was yummy and hearty, perfect for a cold night alone.

Published in: on August 11, 2008 at 11:59 am  Leave a Comment  

Purgatory Station

It looked like a fairly modern and large train station. There were TV monitors hanging from the ceiling showing time tables and, sometimes, some random ads. The other thing I noticed was that there were a lot of people. Some looking nervous, some looking happy, some looking really sick.

It took me a bit to realise that I didn’t know where I was and why I was there at that mysterious train station. I can’t remember how, but I found out that I was there because I was dead.

Yep. As in the train station was a sort of midway point between life and the after life. Apparently, I needed to board a train to move on to the next stage. The only problem was that nobody knows what the next stage was.

Well, actually, most of us there had a pretty good idea. The final destination was only one of two places: Heaven or Hell. The tricky part was that you’ll never know which place the train will take you until you get there.

The idea of finally going to Heaven to be one with God and leave my sinful life behind made me really excited to get on board the train. Ah, but how much of a sinful life did I lead, I wondered. Having realised that I was a little less than saintly made me dread the possibility of being sent to Hell and be tortured forever. And forever is such a long time when each minute of it will be spent in agonising pain.

Although I wasn’t the perfect boy scout I always wish I was, I had then hoped that God might judge me favourably in the end anyway so I made a ran for the train platform where there was a train waiting to leave. The train doors were closing when I got to the platform.

I was too late. The train had started to move by the time I reached one of its sealed doors. I looked around and saw that there was another train, a monorail actually, readying to go at a platform above from where I was. Even though I was out of breath, I started running up the stairs to catch the monorail.

I was too late yet again. The monorail had already moved away when I finally got to the platform. I later discovered that that was the last train trip for the day. The last train always leaves just before the sun sets. It probably wasn’t an actual sunset as there wasn’t an actual sun in that dimension but the sky was definitely growing darker.

With the darkness coming, the station was closing up shop. The stations workers started to disappear. The only people left at the station were people like me who missed the last train ride out of there or people who intentionally didn’t want to go on a train or new comers (as in, freshly dead people).

Some people chose to stay behind because they were fairly certain they will be sent to Hell. Being stuck at the station was a much better alternative for these folk. But staying at the station wasn’t all fun and games. I’ve learned through the announcements through the station monitors that when the darkness sets in, the monsters and demons usually run amok near and around the station. The announcements were vague as to what these monsters can do to us who were stuck at the station so I was a bit worried about that.

I stepped outside the station and I saw more people approaching the station. These are the newly dead. I thought, at least there’ll be many of us tonight to fend the monsters off. Safety in numbers, as it were. I looked at the new people and was glad to see a familiar face. It was my boss from work!

I suppose I shouldn’t have been gleeful to see him as that meant he was as dead as I was but I was just happy to meet someone I knew at the station. I told him we were basically dead. He already knew. He also knew how we died. Apparently, the makers of the competitor to our product placed a curse on the development team. And now we were dead.

The entire team? I looked behind him and saw my co-workers walking towards the station. I didn’t see any of the girls in our team though. Lucky them.

One of the remaining workers at the station started to herd us back in the station where it was supposedly safer. I so didn’t look forward to the monsters coming in but there wasn’t anything we can do now. It was completely dark outside then.

Then, I was awake. Raquel woke me up just in time. I was so happy and relieved to be awake! Raquel later told me that all she did was tapped me and I was suddenly wide awake. Usually, it takes a lot more than that to wake me up, she claims.

That dream definitely made me rethink the way I’m living my life at this time. Have I been following all the commandments faithfully? Have I been a good enough person? What awaits me when I die? Only God knows.

Published in: on August 7, 2008 at 11:48 pm  Comments (4)  

New PC frustrations

I don’t have the time to do much blogging recently. I don’t have much time to do anything, really, ever since I got my new PC from Dell about a week ago.

I was in the market for a new PC. Something with a bigger screen, more memory, more hard disk space, a better graphics card and more power. I chose to get the new PC from Dell due to multiple factors: I get to choose the components that go into the machine; they are cheaper (if you compare a Dell machine with other brands’ similarly spec-ed machines); and I get a 3% discount from my company on top of the cheaper price. The only downside was that I have to order the machine online and wait for it to be assembled in Dell’s factory and shipped to my address.

Anyway, instead of relying on the company discount, I was lucky enough to have timed my purchase on the weekend that Dell decided to give out massive discounts. For the machine I wanted to buy, the discount was 15%! That’s certainly a lot better than 3%, right? But before committing the purchase, I gave my specification request another look to see if I forgot to add anything.

That’s when it hit me. If I add something to the machine that will make it go over $100, I get to have 25% off instead of just 15%! So, I added an external 160Gb hard disk to my request and recalculated the final price of the machine. It was so unbelievably cheap for what I was getting. I was so happy.

I expected the machine to arrive after three days max, but it didn’t. The reason? The Dell representative I talked to told me that the delay was due to an out-of-stock part of the machine. They already ordered for the missing part and once they have it, they will promptly send me the machine. Out of curiosity, I asked which part was missing. She said it was the external hard disk! Great. I had to wait several days more for my new PC in exchange for getting it cheap.

A few days later, I finally got the new PC. I was happy again. I couldn’t wait to take it home and start customising it according to my needs and desires. This meant installing a lot of apps I had installed in my old laptop. The problem was that not all of the apps I had in the old laptop that had Windows XP on it was compatible with Windows Vista Ultimate, which is the OS of my new PC. I only found out about the incompatibility of some of the applications after I had already installed them. So, installing, uninstalling and looking for a viable replacement app took way too much time.

Now, I think I have most of the things I wanted installed on my Windows Vista machine. Maybe now, I can finally continue playing my relatively-newly purchased game, Call of Duty 4. Maybe now, I can finally get to enjoy my new PC. Maybe now, I can finally rest and relax again.

Published in: on June 28, 2008 at 12:33 am  Comments (2)