Friday, December 23, 2005

End of the year resolutions (tick tick, tick, tick)

What do you do when you have nothing to do? You complete lists, wait till the last minute to finish a food diary for the weight management trainer who is expecting you at 12 (it's 11:30 a.m.), and read through blogs.

Today is the official last day of work. Other than a legal matter that has gotten my bloodpressure up, it's a quiet day of nothingness. A column of sunshine broke through the grey gloom of this unnaturally wet season this morning, making me hope that the day would prove as cheery as a summer's day. But the weather is playing bah humbugs with us, so it's back to sheet metal grey outside, threats of rain.

6 hours to go before freedom. I feel like a school kid waiting for the clock to strike before the start of the summer holidays. Why can't adults get summer holidays, two months off for every ten months of work? You can choose which two months to take off, most might choose the summer, but I'd travel between December and February. If I wanted heat, I'd head down to Australia or New Zealand, maybe South America. If I wanted winter, there's all of the northern hemisphere to choose from.

I resolve not to have any 2006 resolutions. Instead: travel plans! February - Macau and Hong Kong to see friends, a friend's new baby, and to eat good bacalau, and a dimsum breakfast like only Hong Kong can do. May - possibly Montreal, with an option to trip through Boston and Dartmouth, maybe a side trip to California. July - MONGOLIA!!!! I can see it now, roaring hooves, flying arrows, gurgling songs, yak butter.... Roaring hooves! Camels! Yurts!

Two domestic trips lined up: attend Myra's birthday in Zamboanga and then soon after do my second Tubbataha trip. Both in April.

2005 was a year full of friends. We had a new crop of people join the eating group. I finally got friends to start diving, and I moved house. School was both a positive, as I finally took the plunge back into an academic setting. But it hasn't proven to be the program I want to stay with.

Onward ho to 2006 (roaring hoov....)

Monday, December 19, 2005

Simbang Gabi

4 a.m. masses, churches are packed, and the only reason for going is to bring two new-to-Manila folks for something seasonally specific. Luckily both visitors were Catholic and also didn't mind standing for over an hour. We left the church, a little holier (ha!), and went outside to look over the available drink and food. But neither visitor felt in the mood for heavy starch, so all we took was the free salabat.

The church was one I had gone to as a child, rekindling memories of Sunday masses, walking home one January (I was 11, and the family were going to lunch for my brother's birthday. Everyone in one car thought I was in the other vehicle, so they left. I walked home, and they all came streaming back aghast I hadn't just waited in the church (what the heck was I going to do there?). My brother's never quite forgiven me for the ruined birthday lunch.), and sitting through sermons bored out of my mind. The altar is a bit more gilt than I remember, a friend told me they have renovated it recently. All that new rococo doesn't quite fit the stark modern lines of the ceiling. It looks out of place.

Instead of having our early morning repast after mass, we joined a friend's family for breakfast at Dulcinea. I had a filling chicken galantina breakfast, but later in the afternoon, I felt like more breakfast food, so had corned beef with atchara. Of course we had churros con chocolate, what is a visit to Dulcinea without Ch con Ch?

Friday, December 16, 2005

Water up my nose

A friend emailed me saying how he doesn't like snorkelling after he swallowed a mouthful of salt water. Guess he won't be intested in diving either. Don't know how many gulps of seawater I've ingested on dives these past 4 years. What more my dive instructors and dive masters who have to do this for a living!

I thought of his comment after getting some chlorinated water up my nozzle this morning. Early morning swim, felt a bit brisk today. But I did take in too much in one gulp at one point and spluttered to a finish. Gack! Honk! Snort! Thank goodness no one else was in the pool with me, or I'd have felt like some surfacing hippo shaking off the mud and messing around the shallows.

Duty calls. Books need sorting, boxes need to be shelved and I have to make my desk semi-presentable. bore.dom.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

It's all water weight, or pms

Losing weight is hard to do. That should be a song title.

I've been on a 8 week weight management program that incorporates weekly meetings with a trainer focusing on food intake, regular exercise, and one-on-one contact that we all sometimes need to get our butts out the door. After 4 weeks, I've lost less than 2 lbs, gotten sick for close to an entire week, but did feel more motivated about going to the gym, even at the ungodly hour of 6 a.m. The extra challenge here is trying to avoid gaining weight over the holidays, with parties practically every day, if not every meal. One major positive aspect has been reviewing the food intake and feeling mildly shocked at how much chocolates and sweets I was eating. One chocolate here, a couple of cakes there, boy do those things add up. I never thought of myself as a major sweettooth, but may have to revise my assumption. Can't remove it all from the diet, and wouldn't want to, so I'm using my old training tips: behavior modification and harm reduction. Plus the trainer hasn't stopped me from having any sweets, she has suggested reducing it, so it's been easier for me to hold the line. What I'm having a harder time doing is reducing the rice and starch. I love rice, it's such a comfort food. Pasta and bread too! We'd have to eat such dull, spiceless food if there wasn't any rice. No sauces, no drippings, no gravy too. Life is too negative already to remove all the good things in life.

I was at Powerbooks for a quick walk through and found a signed first edition of Peter Robinson's STRANGE AFFAIR in the sales bin, P199.00 only. I'd read another of his books (A cold season? or something like that) some years back. His mysteries revolve around a team of police investigators up in Yorkshire, England. All I know about England, I learned from mysteries. Well, not exactly, lots of PGWodehouse in there too. And Monty Python. Yikes. Ok, so a bulk of what I know about the UK is from fiction, and some writers are better than others about describing the dells and the vales, alongside the seamy underbelly of London or whatever city they plonk their protagonists in. Right, so back to Mr. Robinson. As the book was released in 2005, I do think it's one of the better buys I've made recently, among the number of first editions I've picked up. Am I going to fall into the condition called Gentle Madness by Nicholas Basbane? Pulling together a personal library of hard bound firsts? Nay, I say! I like my frumpy, frowsy soft bounds with rubbed edges and frayed paper. It says that I read my books. To heck with future value. My friend who covers all her books and color coordinates them may say that I'm wasting good money, but as we disagree on many issues related to investment, and as she's into financial planning she's probably right, but I'm not and to heck with all those who keep nagging me to put up my nest egg!!!!!....

So I was very pleased with my purchase, and the book was a decent story told. The primary detective DCS Alan Banks loses a family member to Eastern European slave traders. There are moments of intimate tragedy, intensity that is sometimes lacking in some other writers.

Monday, December 05, 2005

A book critique: Citizen Girl

While waiting for a spinning class yesterday I popped into Fully Booked where a few books were on sale at the front of the store. As I forgot (consciously?) my book bag, I justified my purchase by saying to my stingy self "It's a sale" and got two books - Citizen Girl (E. Maclaughlin and N. Kraus, of Nanny Diaries fame) and Birds Without Wings (Louis de Berenieres' latest). I also picked up the latest Stopover edition as it had a number of articles related to diving, particularly in my favorite dive spot, Anilao.

I finished reading Citizen Girl by midnight, not because it was that compelling, although it was relatively short. If I were to compare it to the other forms of chicklit I've come across, I'd say it had some interesting sidenotes (morality in the face of commercialism, and maintaining one's integrity when dealing with issues affecting women's health and safety). However, I became increasingly annoyed at the endless plot twists, the unnecessary inclusion of the Bovary client and Los Angeles section (the book could have ended 50 pages earlier), then the new company which, I suppose, was the straw that broke Girl's back, but the twist was not very exciting anymore. I just wanted it to end. And so I sped read through the last ten pages.

I've collected all of LdB's books thus far, so I'm looking forward to reading his latest, even if the reviews weren't as good as Corelli's Mandolin. I miss his prose as well as Vikram Seth and Michael Ondaatje. I hope all three authors continue to write, reviewers bedamned.

Starve a cold? Feed a fever?

I am officially in a cold funk. I had a "sipon" (drippy nose) last friday, which disappeared Saturday, only to return full force on Sunday, and now on Monday I am forced to keep blowing, occasionally yawning as my right ear clogs up from the pressure. Urgh. I hate colds, hate being sick. I'd like to be sick if I were in some luxury spa, pampered by attendants feeding me stuff, fanning me, bringing me books, tea, a cookie or so, then off to the massages for a toxin-reducing session. Repeat. But no, I'm here at work, trying to figure out how to send a million emails while my head feels like a clogged drain.

Last night I made the mistake of staying on at the Greenhills Shopping Center after my hour at the gym. I went to Bizu for a late breakfast of eggs benedict (the waitress kept on saying "what? what?" when I said eggs benedict. I had to point it out on the menu before she understood. Good heavens, don't they teach their waitresses how to read the menu?), a large pot of tea, and then succumbed to getting three of the macaroons: chocolate (rating 8 out of 10), vanilla (5 out of 10), and rose (for color - a 9, taste a 7.5). I will definitely get more. After my meal, I looked for a cab, and kept looking. After one turn around the entire mall, with a few stops at possible taxi lines, I gave up and called in a taxi service, extra cost bedamned. If I go back, I'm going to have to make sure to bring my sneakers so I can just walk back. The aggravation would kill me if I let it. As it is my cold may be the result of my having inhaled too many fumes looking for a taxi.

Hooray! I've just found my stash of Vicks Vaporub. There's nothing like a dab of VV to get my sinuses flowing. I feel less stuffed up already.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Friday, bloody Friday

Wow, a second post in two days, that's a record for me. But I find myself with time on my hands (even though I have a lot of emailing to do) and a runny nose, good enough reasons to blog.
I got a phone call/Skype yesterday from friends in Moscow. Let me clarify that, a chinese guy, a lebanese girl, a bolivian fellow, and an american chick, hosted by a belarussian called me from Moscow. I like that. The corners of the world together in one spot. So I was meant to be with them, but one thing or another kept me from going. We planned to Skype and it worked. So I had this lovely call session from them and missed them a lot. Frank was just being his normal hyper self and kept interrupting (grr Frank, let a girl get a word edgewise), even when we had a sidenote talk about books on my reading shelf.
Last night, I accompanied Alen to the cocktail reception of the condominium developers with whom he's invested. So-so food, and we made fun of the poor lady doing the singing. She had a nice voice, but no charisma, no style. The organizers were one step up from those time-share salespeople I had the misfortune to deal with some years back. Ah well, made me rethink any plans of buying an apartment.
The apartments that I do want, but can't buy, although renting is a possibility are in Malate. Lovely spaces, with big windows and so much potential. Drool, drool, drool. sigh.
Right, can't get ahold of the mattress buyer that cousin C told me about, so I'm going to have to bite the bullet and get the mattress from SM. My back can't take anymore of the futon.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

12 o'clock, time to get up

My boss has this annoying alarm clock that goes off a few minutes before noon, and while it probably wouldn't matter if she'd just turn the bloody thing off, she lets it run through for a minute. Meaning that people who are irritated by the sound have to smile and pretend it's not a problem. I am irritated by it, and I have to smile through it, while dreaming of taking a hammer to the pesky clock.

One of the books I'm midway through (along with 20 other books I've bought over the last few months and due to my move have been buried under all the other books I bought over the years, some I am re-reading again. Whew long run-on sentence.) is HOW TO BE IDLE, a very nice book about being lazy. Although the author does come up with some valid reasons not to be part of the mindless wheel of commerce, like some vapid rabbit, or white mouse, or maybe a guinea pig. All of the latter are not part of my "pet of the year" choices either. The first chapter of HOW TO is all about the alarm clock and how it's bad for our health. That being a slave to the clock is just a precursor to a heart attack. Yeah, totally agree! That's why it takes two alarms to get me up in the morning. Yoiks!

I signed up for an 8-week weight management program. Each Tuesday I meet with the trainer and go over my food intake, how much gym time I've put in, and my overall sense of wellbeing. One week into it and I'm sooooo craving bad foods. This is the first formal program where I have to monitor my food and stuff. The few weeks I met with a nutritionist don't count, nor the few months when I actively tried to do a regiment of weight training along with cardiovascular exercise. I'm even getting body fat (eeks) readings and measurements. Makes me grouchy just thinking about it. But persevere! Only 6 weeks and 4 days left. Plus I want to push my boundaries and show myself that I can get past my plateau. I've been at the same weight since college for pete's sake! My college clothes still fit me, which is a good thing since I'm not a big shop-a-holic. I just fix the holes that wear away into the general fabric. No really, I'm not that much of boston brahmin to hold onto college sweats for 10 years. But my clothes size has.not.changed. And that's a bad thing. So revving up my metabolism for 8 weeks will be a start. Then I'll take on my inner demons and actually get to do a marathon next year. I put it on this blog earlier, and I will see it through. And then I'll learn how to ride a bike without killing myself. Gosh. Maybe even get back behind the wheel of a car and drive around Manila without killing anyone or having a stroke from wanting to atomize all the jeepney drivers.

Now, off to my salad lunch. Where is that hammer?

Pike Market Peonies

Pike Market Peonies