25 April 2012

Eight Reasons to Watch The Avengers. (No Spoilers)

Nards, Beng and I just got home from watching The Avengers.  I hate spoilers so I certainly won't be posting them here, but I am going to give you good reasons why you should run to the theaters and watch the film.

  1. Mark Ruffalo makes an awesome Hulk.  No disrespect to Edward Norton, but Mr Ruffalo made the Hulk funny and even more lovable despite his volatile and destructive temperament.
  2. Tom Hiddleston made Loki really badass.  Subtle and classy.  But really badass.  Magneto and Joffrey Baratheon cannot hatch an evil plan that would measure up to what a super villain like him can possibly make.
  3. Agent Romanoff has sensible and believable superhero hair.  Not too short so she's still looks very feminine.  Not too long that she looks like she's a spokesperson for a shampoo or something.  
  4. Fantastic action sequences that does not give one a headache.  It was well-shot, well-coordinated and it does not become the focal point of the movie. 
  5. It's well-paced and well-coordinated.  Those three hours will go by unnoticed.
  6. It has a plot.  And it's a good one.
  7. Signature one-liners.  I swear, it's so Whedonesque.  We were quoting all the hilarious one-liners as we were walking out of the theater.
  8. Joss Whedon.  He wrote the script.  He directed the film.  He made Firefly and Serenity.  Enough said. 

There.  Eight solid reasons. 

What are you waiting for?  Go! :D

23 April 2012

A Post-Earth-Day Entry

Yesterday, I braved the traffic jams surrounding Megamall to drive my Dad to his meeting.  He wanted to take the train, but I did not want him to walk the short distance from the station to building A in the interminable summer heat.   Summer gets remarkably hotter every year, thanks to our irresponsible way of living.  

With the news of the SM tree-cutting debacle, and the failed NatGeo Earth Day Run, I am flummoxed at how companies, organizations and individuals can be so casual with their non-earth friendly actions.

I believe that being environmentally responsible is a commitment in ensuring that our actions and way of living does not bring more harm to the environment.  It is not a PR statement that can be flaunted around to entice buyers; nor is it a fad that can be worn for popularity points, and then junked when the next one comes in.   I agree that eco-friendly living may not be easy.  But little changes in our lifestyle can at least lessen our contribution to the problem.

For Nards and myself, here is a partial list of our green commitment:
  1. Always bring an ecobag.   (Always keep at least one in my bag; and a couple in the car);
  2. Always bring a refillable water bottle, to avoid buying mineral water;
  3. Whenever an appliance is not in use, we unplug it from the electrical outlet;
  4. When no one is in a room in the house, we turn off all the electrical appliances, including the aircon ( I know of a few people who leave the AC on all day so they can come home to a cool house);
  5. We use rechargeable batteries on everything: cameras, flash, wireless keyboards and mice, etc;
  6. Bring our own utensils whenever we go out to avoid using plastic spoons and forks;
  7. Always consider the packaging of products when we go to the grocery store;
  8. Refuse plastic.  If I don't have an ecobag, tough, I shove it in my bag;
  9. If possible, bike or walk to our destination.  If using a vehicle cannot be avoided, we schedule all our errands on the same day;
  10. Carpool;
  11. Keep our car well maintained, and to keep the tires inflated properly;
  12. Buy local, whenever we can;
  13. Using pedala for our courier needs;
  14. We try to keep our paper consumption to a minimum, e.g. all contracts are emailed instead of printed and delivered to clients;
  15. I never use wrapping paper for presents; either use recycled paper (yellow pages) or use a handkerchief;
  16. Whenever we're at a coffee shop, we opt for our coffee to be served in a mug instead of the paper take-away cups;
  17. We use biodegradable detergent, i.e. Plantex;
  18. Buy less and try our best to adopt minimalist living;
  19. Recycle and upcycle our belongings;  (I'm thankful for Nards who loves to make things from scratch using materials around the house.  He's made a bike bag--hand stitched!--from his old jackets, and he's made a kindle case out of an old useless hardbound book.) 
  20. For baking, we've investing in silpats instead of repeatedly buying parchment paper and disposing of them after a few uses; and
  21. In the photobooth, we encourage our clients to use fabric backgrounds instead of the customized tarpaulins.
It's not much I know.  But in our home, whatever we do, whatever we buy, whatever we dispose, we always ask the question: is this environmentally sound?   I hope you can all join us in contributing to Mother Earth's welfare.  A little sacrifice will go a long way in making sure our children and our children's children and our children's children's children still have a habitable planet to inherit.

Let everyday be Earth Day.  Let every hour be Earth Hour.

21 April 2012

Reckless Driving by VS&F Catering Truck

At around 11AM this morning, my sister and I opened our gates for my parents who came from church. As we opened it, I heard the swoosh and growl of a truck engine on high speed, and then followed by a frantic rustling of leaves, a loud crack of wood splitting and a whimper of a woman. I ran out the open gate to see what happened.

A VS&F catering truck sped down our street and clipped our langka tree. A branch heavy with fruit (one large and one medium sized) broke off from the main trunk and fell on a poor woman who was walking in front of our house. I wasn't able to get the plate number because the truck careened down our residential street. All I could see were the letters VS&F that were located on the upper left hand corner of the back of the truck.

 I quickly called VS&F and asked for a supervisor and reported the event. Mercy, one of the supervisors, told me that they had no catering event in our subdivision but that they'll check on it. They said I should expect a call from Lani, their operations manager.

It was reckless going on that speed on our street. And if they had no catering event here, what business does their truck have in our private subdivision?

UPDATE: I just got a call from Lani, and she told me that their catering jobs for the day were in Camp Aguinaldo and in Tandang Sora. She also informed me that the company sold a truck (or a few trucks) and it was possible that it was that buyer who was responsible for the incident.  If this was the case, it's unfortunate for them because their company name is still printed on the vehicle.

20 April 2012

Perfect Pairing: Laundry & Summer

Today, according to my weather app, we reached 34-35 deg celsius.  It was very hot.  And the heat suddenly got truly intense once we hit midday.  And for that I am thankful because I brought about two months worth of laundry and I wanted to get everything washed, dried and folded by the end of the day.  I didn't want to spend a lot of money on our corner laundromat for our bed linens to get cleaned, and drying them on our tiny balcony was simply not possible.

So I put all our dirty linens in a huge basket, loaded a new book on the kindle and went to my parents' to do the laundry.   I had a total of four loads, which would mean about half a day of washing machine time and more than 80 feet of clothes line space.  I was a bit worried about that because with two cars in the garage we only had about 30 ft available.  

And this was how hot it was.  On our second load, I had just ended the first rinse, when I asked Nards to check the condition of the first load we had pegged on the clothesline.   He announced that it was already dry and ready to be folded and put away.  Fantastic!   We were done, even before my Dad called us in for lunch.

I love summer!

19 April 2012

Book Depository and the Philippine Postal Service

I have wanted for the longest time to try ordering books from The Book Depository.  Mitzie has made it her go-to online book store since it's easier for her to do online transactions there than Amazon.  I have spent months browsing their site and going through their collections, but always hesitated in putting in an order.  They offer free shipping unlike Amazon, which I course through Johnny Air via New York or LA.

The shipping system for Amazon is pretty reliable, even if I opt for the Super Saver Shipping (which is free).  They have an online tracking system with email notification, that let's me know exactly where my parcel is located at any given time. 

With Book Depository, their tracking system only goes as far as the date when my order has been dispatched.  And they do ship anywhere in the world for free with a 6-8 week delivery time, but they use the local postal system.  And therein lies my problem.  I have absolutely no trust in the local postal service.  In the past, my Victoria's Secret, LL Bean and William Sonoma catalogs always arrived tampered.  Tampered in the sense, that the clear plastic bags have been slit open, and then taped to re-seal. 

I feel violated because someone else has opened my mail.

On another occasion, Mitzie sent me a birthday card with a bookmark from Egypt.  I never received that mail.  Mitzie was so sure that some postal worker filched the thick envelop, convinced that there was money inside.

Clearly, we do not trust the Philippine Postal Service.
So you can imagine, my trepidation when I first ordered from The Book Depository.  Three things made me decide to push through with TBD.  First, I had to order from them because the macaron cookbooks I wanted to buy was unavailable locally and it was dirt cheap with free shipping from TBD; second, I read a blog entry from another Manila resident who has had successful purchases from the site; and last, TBD had a full refund policy for ordered items that failed to reach the client.

So I put in my order last 3 March, and started counting the days.  I expected my books to arrive first week of May, expecting that I'll get the whole 8-week wait.

So I was surprised when my sister arrived yesterday with the mail from our box in the lobby, which included the two books I ordered from TBD.

I was so giddy I did a little dance.  Until I noticed that one of the parcels was open.   So open, I didn't even have to rip the tab that says "to open, pull here."

I effing hate the Philippine Postal Service.  

So what's the take away here from my experience:  Yes, if you're a Philippine resident, you can order from The Book Depository and you will get it.  BUT expect the package opened (baka may libre pang fingerprints) upon it's arrival on your doorstep.

18 April 2012

Summer Picnic

It is now officially late April.  We're now mid-summer and the heat gets really intense between 10AM-3PM.  I've been trying to blog this past couple of weeks, but the heat renders me stupid.  (Likewise, my mind goes completely blank when faced with the 140 character space on twitter.  Blockage is really bad.)

My birthday has come and gone, and as a late celebration, we, with a handful of friends, went to UP for a picnic.  Seb and I share a birthday month so it was a double celebration. 

It was a perfect lazy afternoon.  We sat on mats catching up and the kids played.  I miss doing this in campus.  When I was still an undergrad, my friends and I would spend hours under the trees either at the sunken garden or at the lagoon, reading and feasting on carioca and lumpia.

It was a simple fare: I prepared cold tuna sandwiches, sour cream popcorn, and fudgy brownies.  We also brought a cooler filled with ice, frozen grapes, dalandan soda and the drink staple: coke.  (We also had rootbeer, but Nards hijacked it from the bag to make floats.)  Sheila brought Lay's sour cream, Tostitos and salsa.   Meah brought boxed cereals (hit with the kids especially the frosted flakes). 

Nards brought his frisbees, and taught Seb the basics.

And when they grew tired of tossing the disc, they rode around campus.

Then Seb later joined the girls in blowing bubbles.

I can't wait for the next picnic.  :)


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