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Monday, August 22, 2011

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Anything but Classes

There's this interesting theory relating age and perception of time, in that the younger you are, the longer a unit of time appears to you. Like an adult's perception of a jailtime in years, would be relatively equivalent to a child's afternoon inside a classroom. (I am not shitting you, you can google "age and perception of time" and find medical papers on this issue). But whether or not this is the reason as to why, the 8 hours of classroom-based instruction felt like Reclusion Perpetua doesn't really matter. What mattered was that it did felt like Reclusion Perpetua, and that as kids we'd grovel for any hint of excuse so we don't have to stay glued to our seats, which at the time might as well been filled with spikes.

Luckily, during certain points of the year, we had these school events, which were still boring as fuck, but was a vast improvement from what we felt was destroying our souls - the four walls of the classroom. Here are some of those events:

First Friday Mass - The most common reason why we shouldn't be inside the classroom learning stuff, is that we're hearing mass as a school. The mass lasts for only an hour and it's pretty standard affairs, unless the ever colorful theater club decides to do a production number after the gospel which showcases their "diversity" by portraying a play with an all-girl characterization. (hint: I'm from an all boys school) I remember only two instances when this event broke my expectations - when our teacher thought every song in the mass should be given the DEATHMETAL treatment which turned out so epic, I bet Jesus reconsidered for a moment the ROCK by which he built the Church upon. The other time was when our class had to be placed next to a class of students from an all girls school across the street (that was awesome too).

Living Rosar - The Living Rosary, and I apologize for what insult I may cause by being honest, is the most boring event in the list, and I sometimes contemplate that somewhat, being stuck inside the classroom is better than this. It's like saying the rosary, but for an entire half day. Each hail mary is represented by some poor student rep who has to stand in the middle of the campus, under the heat of the scorching sun. Lots of intermissions happen in between prayers and at some point, people forget what the hell it is that they're doing. It's like the woodstock of Roman Catholicism. Best part of it is when they launch a set of balloons shaped like a rosary, for reasons which escape me to this day.

Mini fair/Mission Sunday - The only bad thing about these fairs is that they rarely ever happen on a school day. So instead of being saved from classes, you're forced to slice off a chunk of your weekend for these activities. I've covered in lengthy detail how much these fairs suck in another article, which can be read here:

Intramurals - I still don't know why they're called intramurals. Intramurals literally means "inside the walls", which is pretty much everything that we do in school. Why can't we just call it "sports fest" like normal people? Anyway, there are only three sports in my school - basketball, volleyball, and tug of war. The last of the three is taken so seriously, I remember one teacher feeding her players ever so generously right before a match so they can gain more "traction". It's crazy. Also, does chess count as a sport? No? Good. I hate chess.

Recognition Day - The time of the year where people recognize each other, because other days, they don't even know people's names. I don't really have a lot of stories for this event, other than during our batch, the clubs had this internal arrangement of giving awards to other clubs in exchange for receiving awards in return. There was like a black market of awards that flourished weeks before the event, so much so that by the end of the recognition day, the presidents of the Science club and Theater club were so loaded with awards and trophies they had to take the taxi home because they wouldn't have been able to haul their "awards" otherwise. Me? I got me a gold, a silver, and a bronze. Just for the heck of it.

Fire drills - For a school where the windows are made of wood, the flooring is wood, and two out of five buildings are made of ACTUAL wood, we rarely had this sort of thing. Matter of fact, I stayed there for ten years and can only recall two drills, one of which we were required to arrange ourselves alphabetically, which arguably took longer than just walking out of the fucking door, since we are arranged randomly inside the class room. (imagine in an actual fire you're yelling "WHO GOES NEXT AFTER TRINIDAD? HURRY MY LEG HAS CAUGHT FIRE")

Actual fires - The funny part is that this happens more often than the fire drill. If it's not our canteen catching fire, it's the incinerator placed conspicuously beside our oldest wooden building which also used to house the gradeschool library. And it happens again and again. You'd think we're a fireman training university or something. Still, whatever lets us keep away from regular boring classes is most welcome.

Life Updates

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Just a quick roundup of the happenings of my life.

1. As I've mentioned before, it's been a year since my transfer to a new company, which subsequently got absorbed by another company. The honeymoon is definitely over and I feel that my adjustment phase is done. At the end of it, I feel that I have shed a lot of things I used to enjoy to be able to focus on this new work. Living my dreams of giving standup comedy another shot, writing for print, and writing prose have all but ground to a halt. I do feel that I am slowly able to regain back some of those things slowly, but I doubt if I can still manage to get back to how things used to be. Not that I want that.

2. I am starting to grow back my habit of swimming again. I have gained enough pounds to start exporting it to East Africa in bulk. I am trying to curtail my intake in the mean time, which is sort of working. Sort of. I really need to buy a weighing scale so my body mass measurement doesn't have to be as inexact as astrology.

3. I have gotten back to trading stocks. Pretty impressed at my streak this time, as lord knows I start losing my head the moment my pockets begin to fill. I tried to limit my own greed this time and it's paid off. The last few weeks' rollercoaster ride has proven very profitable. As of writing, I'm barely 10% in the market. And I think it's cool that way. God's been really generous, so I have plans on resurrecting my old charities as well. (treating friends doesn't count, so do don't get your hopes up)

4. My super duper secret project is doing good so far. Not great, and there's been a lot of hiccups along the way, but I suppose it's better than having it die in the Ningas Cogon brimstone hellfire. First windfall should be around this month or the next.

5. I'm going back to recreational programming to make the leap into the current generation of software dev. I've gotten myself an Android phone and I've laid out my first project, which will also serve as the "teach yourself how to" sandbox for the mean time. Can't disclose what the app's supposed to do, but here's a hint: it's got somethign to do with networking, black sun, and ARPs.

6. My recent plans into going into importation has failed during the first step. Shit sucks, but given my current loading, I suppose it wouldn't have worked out well anyway. I've no plans on giving up though. Next time I see an opportunity arise, I'll be ready.

7. I have a 1080p camera, a computer fast enough to do the editing, and some ideas in my head. You know where this is headed. :)

8. Im at a point in my life where I know I'm getting where I'm headed but I'm asking if I should be going there in the first place. It's crazy, and there's not even a term for it. Mid-mid-life crisis? Mid-quarter? Quarter-back crisis?

That's about it.

Rainy Day Blues

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

As a kid there were only two things that could make my weekday morning exciting: aliens invading the earth and the possibility of cancelled classes. Between the two, the former is less likely, but the latter is less likely to happen as it should be.

I don't care what people say. Kids nowadays have it easy when it comes to announcement of classes. Sure, the decision still gets delayed, depending whether or not the magical tarot cards of the Dep Ed secretary align with the planets, but things like that are just meant to stay the same.

What's important now is that people are actually paying attention, or at least seem like they're exerting effort to pay attention to whether or not kids should be commuting when half of the roads on the way to school has turned into a cholera-powered version of Splash Island.

Back then it was much crazier. The Dep Ed secretary seemed like the grand old man of Mt. Banahaw, who, if could not be found, is actually soundly sleeping to the tune of the falling rain. (and we all know how tempting this becomes during rainy season)

There was no internet yet, so we all had to rely on amazingly distracted AM newscasters who kept on changing topics every 0.5 seconds. One minute you're listening to them look for the DepEd secretary, and then the next, they're telling everybody tuning in, including the hapless kids of course, of a grissly murder that involves intestines being used as ornamental accessories.

To make it worse, at times, you'd get two different radio stations saying different things. Dude A will tell you NCR has no classes (YAY), but in another station, ParaƱaque, where I went to school, is leaving the decision up to the school principal. Which is which? It's like googling for "will masturbation kill me", whichever answer you prefer, you can find it if you look for it hard enough.

Speaking of "leaving the decision up to the school", it has got to be the worst possible call of Dep Ed next to "make the kids scoop out the floodwater", because quite frankly, I wouldn't trust the same school that makes kids eat canteen food containing weaponized-grades of household bacteria to decide what's safe for students.

To make matters worse, the only way for you to reach the school is by calling the office number, which is, of course in an office, which is, of course, open during.. and I bet you wouldn't really expect this. OFFICE HOURS. You could call the guard, sure, but the best he can give you is whether or not the school gates look like the entry to the Atoll in Waterworld, and whether or not a no flippers no entry policy will be enforced.

So worst case scenario is, half of the known world has already cancelled classes, your neighbors are busy inflating their emergency rafts and bringing up their gargantuan television sets up stilts, and you're hoping for a miracle that wading into the floods to go to school will not give you gangrene, because everybody knows kids who have rotting flesh on them will never hear the end of jokes - the worst thing a kid can contemplate.

SO yeah, you go to school anyway, walk, ride, wade or even swim like you're breaking out of alcatraz and school is your only way out, and then halfway through- or worse, the moment you arrive, you, together with other students who look like they just went through a Pista de San Juan Bautista will find a nice piece of paper the size of a mobilephone sim card saying "Classes cancelled", signed by the principal, and tacked on the most convenient location - i.e. the top of your school tower.

So you brave the weather, accept your fate and try to go home. Half of your day is spent on begging strangers to take you anywhere the water is not waist deep and the wind doesnt rape your wet body. Against all odds and common reasoning, instead of finding yourself a dead corpse in some creek, you get home soaked to the pancreas.


Thirty minutes later, it's sunny as fuck and nothing has happened, amd you're left to enjoy the rest of your surprise holiday with a burning fever and foot infection.

Some days.

Deadlines Shouldn't Mean Dead On The Line

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Were it not for the last minute, nothing will ever get done. That's a very popular saying for both the academe and the corporate world. It's practically the most important invention of mankind next to creating fire. Matter of fact, you think fire would ever have been discovered were it not for some caveman manager pressuring the release of the beta? I bet some wise guy in marketing thought the then-new product "fire" can be marketed as that will forever revolutionize how people protest during SONAs. The project got finished at the last minute, but the true purpose won't be achieved until Erap's presidency thousands of years later. The caveman manager invented the last minute. Because last minutes exist, deadlines have to exist too.

It's understandable. If something has a start, it has to have a solid finish. Ask any porn director. Without the proper ending, things will just falter. I mean, look at the movie Clash of The Titans. That was just wrong. A two minute boss fight in a two hour action movie? REALLY?! But I digress.

The long and short of this tirade is that deadlines are important. There's a sense of drama in beating the deadline. Look at how the US congress passed the debt plan at the last minute a few weeks ago. Okay, maybe that was a bad example. Deadlines ensure that people know when things should be done. Otherwise, God help the cooks.

Be it as it may, deadlines should never be the endall of things. Every deadline should have a reason, and in my industry, projects falter the moment those reasons become unreasonable, or worse, forgotten.

In the world of IT, a product release, a project completion is very important. However, there are many things much more important than that. Product stability for one, and sustained effort of the producing team for another. Any reason behind a deadline should have considered both, and in the event that it acts to the detriment of either, that it should have a more important reason for going against any of the two.

Think about it. What's the point of releasing on time if the product is broken? What was that? Sorry, my hearing was blunted by Windows ME screaming at the back of my room of painful memories. What's also the point of releasing on time if the team that produces it, and will have to subsequently work on it in the future again simply burns out? I've seen teams lose swaths of their people because of crunch time burnout. It's never a pretty sight. Is a deadline worth that?

It's a sad fact that even though much of what I'm saying is common sense but things are all to easily lost in the chaos of day-to-day activities. An organization that has multiple levels of management and interworking architecture amplifies this problem. Sometimes, the reason for the deadline somewhat gets lost in between the layers of communication, and things boil down to the reason "because boss said so. are you going to go against boss?" Sure, fear of upper management is understandable. They're the ones handing out the moolah every pay day, afterall. But what's more important is the love of one's work, and consideration of everybody who has a stake in the project. This includes the clients, and those that labor to complete it.

A deadline should always be in everybody's minds when working on a project, but it should never be considered an unmoving notch that will either be reached or breached. It should be a guiding measure that can be moved if the situation calls for it.

And it should never come at an expense greater than what it can gain.

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