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.

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

Saturday Night Out

It’s been a while since I’ve gone out with our Pinoy circle of friends here in Melbourne and I’m a little embarrassed to admit that I missed their company. Although I very much enjoy my personal time drawing, reading, writing and watching TV/movies, I’m also a bit of an extrovert. I become depressed over time if I don’t get to socialise with a bunch of other people.

Well, I can’t say it’s not my fault. After all, they’ve been inviting us over to join them in various activities and I kept passing up the invitations. So, when they organised this bowling night at AMF Sunshine Bowling Alley, I was determined to go and join in the fun.

It would have been better if Raquel could have come. But as luck would have it, she’s still afflicted by the dreaded hay fever I wrote about previously. She joked that she caught the bug from me — which is impossible since hay fever shouldn’t be contagious. Anyway, she knew how much I craved to socialise with others so she told me to go anyway while she stay in the house to rest.

So, I drove to the AMF Sunshine Bowling Alley all by myself. I’m so used to Raquel being with me in the car when I’m off to somewhere far that it feels different, like something is missing, when she isn’t there with me. I should’ve been at the alley earlier but due to my lack of planning, I failed to get the street address for the alley and I got lost driving in circles around the shops near the Sunshine train station. Fortunately, Raquel was at home and she was able to get the address for me from the Internet. She texted me the address and I finally got to the bloody alley — late!

It was good to see the familiar faces and receive their cheerful welcomes when I arrived. I immediately engaged the people I already knew in conversation and later, I introduced myself to the other people there whom I haven’t met before. Since I haven’t been joining in their activities lately, it would seem like I was the new comer to the group, actually. It doesn’t matter though. All that matters was that the more people there are, the merrier it is, as the old adage says.

Soon, those of us who were there to actually play some bowling, played. I’m glad that the others who weren’t there to play still went there anyway. I don’t think I would’ve been able to chat with them again so soon otherwise. Speaking of playing, I totally sucked that night. I simply don’t have the consistency of getting the ball to go where I want it to.

I should just give up this game, really. Maybe I should just join Arnold and his group of badminton players every Saturday afternoon and stick with that. But I’m sure I’ll just equally suck at that as well. I guess in the end, it doesn’t matter that I’m no good at either sport. I should just have fun and be glad to be out with a group of fun loving people.

Arnold also told me that he and the other badminton players regularly watch movies, too. Now that’s a kind of activity that I wouldn’t suck in, I think. Chinita and the other guys from the east also watch movies on a regular basis. However, they usually watch at Chadstone (east) which is a bit far from where I live (west). With some good movies coming out soon, maybe it’s a good time to start joining them in their movie-watching.

So, even though I didn’t get a good score that night, I’m glad to have been out with the guys again. I’m additionally pleased to meet new people there as well. And now that I had a bit of a think about it, I’m not quite sure if two of these new people are people whom I already know from my past. I wonder. I should definitely ask them about it once I get to know them a lot better.

Published in: on August 20, 2006 at 11:55 pm  Comments (2)  

Hay Fever Day Two

As expected, I’m still down with the hay fever. Not much sneezing now but a lot of coughing. My throat’s quite sore and itchy. I wish I’m cured already. Now, I mentioned that the off-the-shelf hay fever cures weren’t that effective on me. Okay, they aren’t really cures as they should only manage the symptoms of hay fever. Anyway, I gave one of them a go. One that I haven’t tried before. Who knows, right?

Anyway, I took one tablet for the night. Before I take any medication, I usually look for some directions on the box. Just to be safe. I took a photo of the back of the box for you to see. Click the thumbnail for a closer look. I’ll just quote the bit that caught my attention: “In New Zealand, please refer to the accompanying consumer information leaflet.” Er, what about us Aussies? Don’t we get this special consumer information leaflet? What are you telling the Kiwis that you don’t want to let the Aussies know about this drug?

Just kidding. Pff. Okay, that wasn’t as funny as when I first brought it up to Raquel. Give me a break. I’m sick.

Published in: on August 15, 2006 at 9:32 pm  Leave a Comment  

Hay Fever

I have hay fever again today. I always feel absolutely miserable for up to a full week whenever I’m down with the bloody thing. Today is no different. It started with the slow build-up of mucus in my nose. By the time I get to the office in the morning, I’m sneezing in frequent random intervals. By the afternoon, my eyes began to water and my eyelids felt heavy. Come evening, I already feel very tired. It could have been another symptom of my hay fever or maybe just all that sneezing tiring me out.

It wasn’t always like this. I remember when I never had hay fever. And that was before I migrated to Australia. I’m not sure if it is just me getting old or if there’s something in the air in Australia that my body doesn’t agree with. Dictionary.com defines Hay Fever as such:

hay fever
n.
An allergic condition affecting the mucous membranes of the upper respiratory tract and the eyes, most often characterized by nasal discharge, sneezing, and itchy, watery eyes and usually caused by an abnormal sensitivity to airborne pollen. Also called pollinosis.

So, I’m thinking that maybe my body isn’t used to the pollen in the air or there’s just that much more pollen in Australia’s air. I don’t really know. I do know that it is common enough that they have lots of advertisement on TV for hay fever medication specially during spring season. I was told by other migrants that they only started getting hay fever after they moved here. Whatever the cause, it’s a big headache (literally and figuratively).

I did a little research and here is what I found from the AllergyNet Australia website:

In Australia, seasonal hay fever usually occurs in spring and early summer. The southern one-third of Australia, especially the south-east, has the most severe problems. Melbourne and Canberra are notoriously bad areas for spring allergy.

Come to think of it, I never had hay fever in the three months I lived in Sydney. I started getting it only when I moved to Canberra. And then I began to get it more often when I moved to Melbourne. That’s just great! Well, here’s at least one reason for me to move back to Sydney.

Anyway, I think it wouldn’t be too bad if the advertised anti-hay-fever medications on TV actually worked for me. I tried the different brands but nothing seems to help me much except the Sudafed decongestant and anti-allergy tablets. The big downside of taking Sudafed is that it makes me really drowsy. And nowadays, it doesn’t help as much to fight my hay fever. A friend of mine suggested I take Claratyne but I discovered that it isn’t any more effective than the other antihistamine medication I’ve tried in the past.

Basically, I feel terrible at this very moment. And if past experience is any indication, I’ll probably feel just as terrible tomorrow. Here’s hoping I’ll be cured by tomorrow.

Published in: on August 15, 2006 at 12:01 am  Comments (5)  

Out of Action

I haven’t been posting for a while now. Reason? Well, let me count the ways.

Been Sick
Yes. I was sick, for real. I took a sick leave two Fridays ago because I had a bad case of hayfever or something I thought was hayfever. Because a week later, I still had a blocked-up nose and couldn’t stop from sneezing. It was terrible. My nasal passages were making odd creaking noises whenever I took breath. I was pretty sure my officemates noticed it during one of our meetings.

Watching Movies
We watched the Pixar/Disney CG movie, Cars, last weekend with our friend Irar. I liked the movie and i thought it was hilarious (almost as hilarious as Dreamworks’ Over the Hedge, in my opinion). I think I would’ve enjoyed the movie better though it my head throbbing and my eyes watering (because of my illness mentioned above). We were planning to eat out with Irar after the movie but because of my not-feeling-well, I had to cut our outing a little short.

Bought Magic Sing
Magic Sing is basically a microphone with a video karaoke machine built-in. I think it is quite popular in Manila and Pinoy expats. I found out about it from our friend and neighbor, Milkshake. He has one and we’ve used it a couple of times. It made me want to have one, too. Unfortunately, that meant waiting till we fly home to the Philippines to buy one.

But, as fortune would have it, we just discovered that Magic Sing was actually available locally in Australia. We saw one on eBay and bought one including a chip that plugs in to the mic that contains about 900+ songs in Tagalog. The Magic Sing mic itself has about 2000 English songs already. I’d say that is a better deal than having to buy the Singstar mics and song games for the Playstation2.

So, we ended up “testing” it after I received it in the post. And we’ve been “testing” it ever since.

Caught Up to Star Trek Enterprise Season 4
Yes, Enterprise ended a long time ago in the US. Here in good old Australia, Enterprise Season 4 has just begun showing every Tuesday midnight (Wednesday, actually) on Channel 9. Then, for several weeks, Enterprise disappeared from Channel 9 without notice because of the Wimbledon tournament telecast.

In the end, we sought another way of finally catching up to the last season of the Enterprise series. So, when we weren’t testing the Magic Sing mic, we were watching episodes from Enterprise season 4. Too bad it had to be cancelled just when it finally lived up to its story premise and setting. I have to say that I liked most of the episodes but I hated the last episode of the series. They should’ve just ended it with the episode before last.

Watching our Favourite TV Shows
Our current faves on TV are 24 (good on Channel 7 for doing double-episodes twice a week), House, Prison Break (season finale last week and I felt short changed), Stargate: SG-1 (season 10 at last! About bloody time, Channel 7), NCIS, Numb3rs, Desperate Housewives, CSI, Ghost Whisperer (a reluctant fave), Beyond Tomorrow, Catalyst, What’s Good For You, Lonely Planet Six Degrees, Lost (actually, we’ve seen it all through to the last episode of the current season but eh), Honey We’re Killing the Kids, Border Security, Medical Emergency, and Mythbusters. Yeah, we’re such a couple of couch potatoes.

Working Out
Since we are such couch potatoes, we figured we need to work out. Watching shows like What’s Good For You and Honey We’re Killing the Kids actually motivates me to work out and eat healthier as well. Anyway, we have The Biggest Loser – The Workout DVD and we’re following the workout plan outlined in the DVD.

We had to workout for around 45 minutes six times a week for six weeks to see results. We’re currently in week number three and we haven’t exactly done the recommended six days in one week. Still, better some exercise than none. I can already feel the workouts becoming easier and less painful. At the very least, my joints don’t make as much noises as when I started out.

Drawing my Webcomic
And when I’m not testing the mic, watching TV, movies or DVD and working out, I’m drawing pages for my Lovarian Adventures webcomic. I had to draw a page that has horses in it and set in a forest. So, I had to do research on trees and horses. In the end, I faked most of it. Here is the end result.

And now, I finally had some time to write something up for the blog.

Published in: on July 16, 2006 at 11:04 am  Comments (1)  

Socceroos’ loss heart breaking

Although we don’t really follow sports, the loss of the Socceroos this morning could only be described as heart breaking. The penalty shot by the Italians with only seconds left in the game spelled the end of the World Cup dream for the Aussie team. Shock, disappointment and frustration were rife, specially among die-hard fans who watched the televised game in Federation Square. That said, it doesn’t excuse the behaviour of some fans afterwards.

Published in: on June 27, 2006 at 11:13 pm  Leave a Comment  

Are eggs bad for you?

I’ve always loved eggs. Can’t get enough of them while growing up. Even now, actually. But for some time now, I’ve considered eating eggs a somewhat guilty pleasure. It’s a popular conception that eggs are high in cholesterol and, hence, bad for you and me. Since I’m not overly fit and getting older, I’m a bit worried about cholesterol and high-blood pressure.

Well, lately, Raquel and I have been watching this new health show on Channel 9 called What’s Good For You where they tackle health and food related issues every week. Some parts of it remind me of Mythbusters but instead of common and Hollywood-related myths, they target food and health related myths/truths. For example, in a previous episode, they wanted to find out if spinach can really boost your strength significantly like with Popeye (answer is no).

Last night, they sought out the truth as to whether eggs are good or bad for you. In their experiment, co-host Dr Andrew Rochford (also 2004 winner of the Australian home renovation reality TV show, The Block) had to eat four eggs a day for two weeks. No kidding! That much eggs. And guess what? By the end of the experiment, not only has his cholesterol level dropped from his initial level of 3.8, but it has dropped so low that the cholesterol testing unit doesn’t have a number for it!

Meaning, eggs actually help reduce bad cholesterol in the body! Rejoice!

Brisbane cardiologist Dr Karam Kostner explained on the show why:

“People who eat a lot of eggs actually shut down their bodies production of cholesterol. So the more eggs somebody eats, the less cholesterol our body produces. So that’s why a lot of people who eat a lot of eggs don’t get heart disease necessarily,” he says.

Eggs do contain cholesterol, but it’s the HDL kind (the good kind), not LDL (the bad kind). However, even though eggs lower cholesterol levels, saturated fats eaten in other foods might just counter the good effects from eating eggs.

Anyway, I’m no expert on the subject matter so I’m not qualified to go into details. To read the full write-up on the topic as seen from the show, go to the What’s Good For You website. And for another article we found on the web regarding this issue and is not related to the TV show, go here.

What this means for me now? I’m going back to eating eggs more. And to make sure I get the full benefit from eggs, I’ll just eat them boiled, poached or cooked through the microwave without any cooking oil.

Published in: on June 27, 2006 at 8:32 am  Comments (2)  

Mercy emergency

Werribee Mercy Hospital is about 5 km from where we live and with a public hospital less than a 10-min. drive from home should give us some measure of peace of mind. If ever anything happened to us, a least there’s easy access to the hospital nearby. Or at least that’s the idea. In the past month, six doctors have resigned from Mercy because of rostering difficulties. The health administrators have said then that the resignation would not affect the quality of service they provide the public and that the remaining doctors could handle the present work load.

Then reports came in last week that the hospital’s emergency department was forced to close for five hours when the two doctors who were supposed to be on duty called in sick. Patients have to be redirected to the next nearest hospital, Western Hospital in Footscray, which is about 30 kilometres from where we live. It was lucky nothing much was happening during the closure or the consequences would have been dire indeed.

A quick look at Victoria’s Public Hospital System website shows that there are only four hospitals in Melbourne’s west – Sunshine, Western, Williamstown and Werribee. With the western district’s growing population, news of doctor shortages such as these are worrying. More people and less doctors spell trouble and the powers that be seem none too concerned. I just hope that it doesn’t take a horrible emergency for them to finally notice and take action.

Published in: on June 24, 2006 at 9:59 pm  Comments (4)  

Mock Meat

Even though Raquel and I are still fine with eating poultry and seafood, we now avoid eating mammalian meat as much as possible. But once in a while, we would crave for red meat. Whenever we do, we have to resort to so-called mock meat.

Mock meat is a term used to describe meat that is not made out of real meat. It is typically based from wheat gluten, soy, grains, and mushrooms. It is “meat” that is supposed to have the same taste and texture of the meat it is trying to imitate.

For pork and beef, since we want to avoid eating it, we have no choice but to resort to mock meat when craving for them. For other types of meat such as poultry, we still enjoy eating the fake versions. The fake honey chicken dish still tastes like real honey chicken. The fake sweet and sour fish dish still tastes like real sweet and sour fish dish with the added bonus that the fake fish doesn’t have small bones you have to pick and it actually tasted a lot better than actual fish.

There are other reasons, too. With mock meat, no animal had to die or suffer. Mock meat should also be low in cholesterol, high in fibre and low fat. So even if you accidentally over-ate, though still bad, the health impact should be lower than if you over-ate the same amount of real meat. Click here for 10 reasons why meat alternatives could be better than real meat.

Last Sunday, we went out with a vegetarian friend of ours for lunch. We originally planned to have lunch at Enlightened Cuisine for some delicious sweet and sour fish or Chinese barbecue roast pork (chasao). However, while looking at their website Sunday morning, we discovered that they weren’t open that noon, only at dinner time on Sundays.

We had to find an alternative restaurant for our mock meat cravings. I went to the Vegetarian Network Victoria website to look at their Vegetarian Restaurants listing for Melbourne. After reading through the list for Chinese vegetarian restaurants opened for business for Sunday lunch-time, we decided to try this restaurant in Doncaster:

Natural & Healthy Vegetarian Restaurant
747 Doncaster Road, Doncaster VIC 3108
Ph: 03 9848 8092
Opening hours: Mon 5pm-10pm; Wed-Thu 5pm-10pm; Fri-Sat 12noon-3pm & 5pm-11pm; Sun 12noon-3pm & 5pm-10pm
BYO/Licensed: BYO
Features: Chinese and Malaysian cuisine; yum cha for lunch from Friday to Sunday; vegetarian ‘meats’ made from gluten/soy protein; mostly vegan foods except those dishes that contain honey or egg; all dishes free of onion, garlic, chives and leek; seats 40 people.

It was a bit far from Werribee but the food was pretty good. The only problem I have was that the menu was a bit limited specially compared to Enlightened Cuisine’s. I had the barbecue roast pork with rice while Raquel had beef and sweet corn with rice and our friend had roast duck with rice. The roast pork was close to real Chinese roast pork. I also underestimated how full I was so I ordered their pork bun (siopao). It was great! It tasted like siopao asado back in the Philippines without having to eat any pig fat. I’ll definitely eat there again if we are ever in Doncaster.

That Sunday, it got me thinking that maybe we could cook some mock meat at home, too. And because it is Holy Week, it is just as well since we shouldn’t be eating any meat at all except for seafood until Easter. So at the grocery later that day, I picked up Sanitarium’s Vegie Delight Classic Soy Rashers which, according to Irar’s bacon-loving friend, looks, feels and tastes like real bacon. Well, if her friend says so.

Today, I cooked the rashers for breakfast along with some scrambled eggs and toasted multi-grain bread for a continental breakfast. It was delicious, just like I remembered it from when I was a child. I avoided eating bacon growing up because I found the fat on the bacon disgusting. But now with these soy rashers, I eat “bacon” whenever I want.

Then during lunch, we decided to try the Lord of the Fries stall at the corner of Elizabeth Street and Flinders Street in the city. It is primarily a take-away shop that sells French Fries (also called simply as chips here) that comes with your choice of sauces. We’ve tried Lord of the Fries before but found their chips to be on the salty side. The only reason we went there again was because it was also listed in the Vegetarian Restaurants listing on the Vegetarian Network Victoria site.

Lord of the Fries
Shop 9A, 26 Elizabeth Street (Cnr Flinders Street), Melbourne VIC 3000
Ph: 03 9654 5673 or 0423 067 175
Opening hours: Mon-Fri 11am-10pm, Sat-Sun 11am-late
BYO/Licensed: No
Features: ‘Best fries you’ll ever try’. Hand cut French Fries topped with any variety of 10 internationally inspired sauces e.g. Belgian Mayonnaise, Mexican, Indian, Thai Satay. Mini and big fresh-made TVP burgers available in Original or Spicy flavours. Sunflower oil, sea salt and free-range eggs are used. Vegan topping options available and burgers are vegan if cheese is omitted. Gluten free and OGF (onion garlic free) diets catered for. Three meal deals available. Fast and friendly service. 3D viewer at front to keep you amused. Take away only.

I was surprised to discover on the listing that the “burgers” served at Lord of the Fries are actually made of mock meat! Raquel and I bought the spicy flavoured burgers. It was amazing. It tasted like burgers sold at Burger Machine in the Philippines. Okay, so Burger Machine burgers aren’t exactly the best tasting burgers around but since I haven’t been home for a long time now, I enjoy anything that reminded me of the Philippines. Anyway, the point was that it tasted like an actual burger and not some vegie patty pretending to be a burger.

The burgers were supposed to be made out of TVP. I should buy TVP (textured vegetable protein) mince one day and maybe Raquel can cook up some better tasting burgers with it. Supposedly, Sanitarium also sells TVP Vege-Mince but I have yet to see it at Coles or Safeway. Maybe we should try going to one of the Vegetarian shops in town. Maybe we’ll also find other mock meat products there.

Fake meat has come a long way. I remember my first encounter with it back in the early 90’s. My Mom bought something called “vegiemeat” in the shape of burger patties from a friend of hers. When cooked, it looked and tasted nothing like actual meat. But my latest encounters with mock meat has certainly changed my mind about eating it. I think it is a good alternative to actual meat even if you are not a vegetarian. I’ll definitely look for other places where I can get these products.

Published in: on April 11, 2006 at 12:45 pm  Leave a Comment  

Weekend Bowling

Group PictureI should have posted on this earlier but I was busy with other tasks. It had been a while since we last played bowling with most of the Pinoy gang. Sure, we from the western suburbs had played bowling in Werribee twice now but we haven’t played with our other friends since we moved from St Kilda to Werribee.

Well, Chinita wanted us to have a get-together and decided on bowling as the main activity. After much discussion, we settled on the AMF Sunshine bowling centre as the venue for our games. So last Sunday, there were over 20 of us who went to Sunshine for a couple of games of bowling. Too bad there were some of the regulars who weren’t able to go.

There were a lot of new faces that evening with most of them coming from the badminton gamers sub-group that we have led by Arnold. There was also a visitor from our “Sydney chapter” as it were.

The venue itself was okay but in hindsight, I wish I had the teams filled with players at random. As it was, the people who already knew each other quite well belonged to the same team. This just made it a little more difficult to mingle with others whom we didn’t know so well yet.

Anyway, we still had fun. And here are some photos from that night…
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Published in: on March 30, 2006 at 12:30 pm  Comments (2)