Monday, December 28, 2009

Santa's Musical

Pardon me but I'm still on the holiday mood maybe because I spent Christmas at work. I think that was two days before Christmas, while hunting for a gift for my father, I ended up at the Fashion Show Mall, a huge mall along the Las Vegas Strip. As usual I had my camera with me even if my main purpose was to shop. Fortunately enough, I was on the main activity area of the mall and I was able to watch a mini-musical about Santa and Christmas wishes becoming true.

Just follow the link for the pictures that I got from that show: http://lemueljon.multiply.com/photos/album/75/Santas_Musical

Saturday, December 26, 2009

See-Food Diet



"Every time I see food, I eat!" Nope, this is not my motto! I've been trying my very best to stick to more healthy diet for several years now. I don't want my money, time and effort in going to the gym put to waste and besides I'm not getting any younger and it's already high time to take care of my health. But even how much you've been careful about the kind of food you're eating and how much diligence you put yourself in going to the gym, there are always temptations. Especially this holiday season, giving out food and goodies is one of the most convenient ways of gift giving. Parties here and there is a sure way of celebrating the holidays with loved ones and friends and it's also the biggest threat in ones weight loss regimen. It takes a lot of self-discipline to be able to stick to a more healthy diet.


For the past weeks now, my regular attendance to the gym dwindles, a sure sign of deteriorating control of myself. In the hospital pharmacy that I work, almost every day we get food from the medical sales people. This adds more pressure to my self-discipline to control my intake of food. The worst part of all is the fact that I have a sweet tooth; I'm a self-declared chocolate monster. Once a monster is always a monster so this is the best time for me to try on every chocolate bar, fudge, cookie or cake laid down on the table in our break room. Fortunately my inner self is much stronger to resist the temptations on the table, but still I can't help myself to stay away from the various chocolate concoctions, beaming and urging me to try them.


The year is almost over and it's time to think of my most appropriate New Year's resolution and I guess this should be my resolution for 2010: "Stick to seafood diet". But even too much seafood intake is also not good for the health so let me revise it to a more manageable and attainable goal: "Stick to my regular gym regimen and watch out on the food that I take".

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Holiday Spirit in My Neighborhood

Lately it's been very cold and the nights are chilly. Winter is in full blast and Christmas is a few more days away. In fact upon posting this blog entry, it would be a day or two away depending on which part of the world you are residing. Anyway, one particular cold night that I was off from work, I really didn't know how to spend the remaining hours of the day. Braving the cold breeze and armed with my camera, I decided to just go around my neighborhood to see the various light displays outside their homes. I had put up some lights on two fir trees in front of our house and that's it although I also set up our Christmas tree and my own version of the nativity scene in our small living room. Suffice to say that we already have that Christmas spirit inside and outside of our house. Setting up lights and holiday decorations has been the tradition all over the world during this holiday season. Its main purpose is to share the holiday spirit to everyone. With the cold night and chilly breeze (fortunately no snow at all), I had to bundle up to warm myself as I am no hero braving the cold like this.

Walking around my neighborhood, I have noticed that some households did not put up some decorations at all but most have at least some colorful lights trimmed along their roof, window sills or trimming around their trees on their lawns. Some few houses really set up some elaborate displays and this is the main target of my camera. At first I was hesitant to take pictures on their decorations because they might mistakenly take me like invading their privacy and property without their permission. I have to be careful because people nowadays worry too much on their privacy. Fortunately it was close to midnight already and everyone was inside. I did not use my flash for two reasons, I didn't want to attract the attention of the home owners and I just wanted to capture the light effects in my camera so I just played around with its aperture and shutter speed functionalities. I also did not stay too long in one spot with the same purpose I previously mentioned, as if I was just walking around enjoying the cold night and the lights.

After doing this, I have decided to go out further and roam the city to capture more holiday spirits on display. My next target is the malls.

Please follow this link to view the photos: http://lemueljon.multiply.com/photos/album/74/Neighborhood_Holiday_Lights

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Christmas Is Definitely Here


Everywhere in the world, the most awaited season of love, giving and sharing is being celebrated in one way or the other depending on the country's religion and cultural background. In the Christian world, Christmas is a joyous season to celebrate the birth of Christ. In my native country, the Philippines, once the calendar months start with the "ber" ending like September, you will start seeing the first signs of this holiday season. Radio stations start playing Christmas songs in the airwaves. The malls and residential homes start putting up holiday decorations. Most of the children start making lanterns or locally called "parol" for their school's projects. Likewise schools and corporate offices start planning their own Christmas parties. Gift giving is the most prominent way of celebrating Christmas. Even if on tight budgets, we still manage to buy something for our loved ones and friends. Going into the 9 days before Christmas, "Simbang Gabi" is the center of activities. I missed going to mass at dawn before sunrise specially the yummy native delicacies right after.


In the city that I lived now, which I considered my second home, Christmas season is celebrated quite differently. Yes, the signs are definitely present with all the decorations that you can see in the malls and residences. Shoppers filled the malls for gift-giving and definitely for themselves, too. In this country where there is total religious freedom, you can see that each of the religious congregations celebrate this season in their own special way. "Holiday Season" is now acceptable just like when you call this "Christmas Season". However you call it, this is definitely the most awaited and important season of the year.


Here's wising you a "Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays" to one and all.
Please check out this link for pictures that I got from Bellagio's Botanical Gardens:http://lemueljon.multiply.com/photos/album/73/Christmas_Time_In_Las_Vegas_2009

Saturday, December 5, 2009

What’s Going On With Me???

I've been slacking lately with my blog posts. One of my avid readers, as if I have plenty of them, was asking me what was going on with me lately. Then I realized that it's been almost a month since my last blog post on Daily Grind. Well, to tell you the truth, there's not much going on with my life for the past 4 weeks or so. It was basically my routine work, gym and home. Although there were some small activities here and there but not really that major thing like embarking on a trip outside town or ride a hot air balloon or have done sky diving, which by the way are some of the things that I've been dreaming to do someday. I felt obligated to open up some of the things that I've done since the early days of November.

November's First Friday – I always look forward to this arts festival every first Friday of the month. I have mentioned about this event on the Daily Grind more than once. Again I did go to the First Friday last November 6th. This was kind of special for me since I was still on my last leg of vacation so I actually stayed on the whole event. Armed with my video camera I shot some footage and planned to make a video focusing on the artwork displays. Unfortunately I had some problems in splicing the video clips into one video so I got some video captures and made a slide show of still pictures instead. Go to this link to see the video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IrcVSvzTZmE

Thanksgiving Day – This first of family holidays toward the end of the year always falls on the last Thursday of November. Given the fact that I work evenings from Wednesdays through Saturdays, I really don't have any chance to take part on this American holiday tradition. Unless of course if I get to change my work schedules, get to have someone else to work for me on this day if I get lucky or the Thanksgiving Day itself be moved to another day, specifically either Sunday, Monday or Tuesday. That's too much to ask. So, last November 26th I spent the holiday in the hospital working. I could put it this way that I was saving lives while the rest of the world is partying.

Las Vegas Motor Show – My dad gave me some VIP passes for the Motor Show at the Las Vegas Convention Center. This was the first time that I attended this kind of show so even if it was a working day for me, I made it a point to skip the gym in the morning, sleep early and went to the event around 4pm. The show ended around 7pm so I had more than enough time to go home and get ready for work by 9pm. I got some pictures of the featured new car models for 2010 as well as some vintage cars. I got to meet Bumblebee, the character from the Transformers movies. Bumblebee was actually a yellow Camaro and I fell in love with it right away. He is now my dream muscle car. If I got the money, I would get this car made to order, a Bumblebee with a new disguise in black or red complete with the autobots logo. Go to this link for pictures: http://lemueljon.multiply.com/photos/album/70/Las_Vegas_Motor_Show_2009

Gift of Lights – This yearly event during the Holiday Season is now a family Christmas tradition. Sunset Park in Las Vegas is transformed into a spectacular drive through of festive lights, and light animations. Families are bundled up in their cars and drive through these amazing light displays. Proceeds of the entrance fees go to charity. Go to this link for pictures: http://lemueljon.multiply.com/photos/album/71/Gift_Of_Lights

December's First Friday – Once again, I went to this monthly arts event last December 4th. It happened that somebody from work swapped days with me and I get to choose which day I could let her work for me so naturally I chose this day. The night of December 4th was the coldest ever in Las Vegas. Even if I bundled up myself, with a long black coat, which by the way made me look like a vampire, LOL…I still feel the freezing cold…maybe I need warm blood…LOL! What made me attracted to attend consistently on this event is the ever changing scenario. There is always something new in the event every month. Maybe its the constant evolution of art that goes with the artists new ideas and imagination. Unfortunately, I have to cut short on my stay on this event since I have to go see a concert at the Hard Rock Hotel later that evening.

Morrissey Concert – A very good friend introduced me to the artist Morrissey. Although I was not familiar with this artist and his songs but listening to some of his recordings gets me interested. It was a chance for me to see him in person so after I learned that I'd be off from work on December 4th, I grabbed that opportunity and bought myself a ticket for the Morrissey concert at the Joint inside the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. Watching him perform for the first time made me feel his music more. What impresses me is that he sounded exactly his recordings. Real fans of Morrissey know almost all his songs and the audience was actually singing along with him. What turned me off though was the ending of the show. It was anticlimactic for me and kind of rude of him. After the last song which by the way no one ever knew that it was the last song already, he just left the stage without saying good bye or even thanked the audience. He only sang for only an hour by the way. It was my first rock concert and maybe I was just not used to this kind of shows. I've been to a lot of concerts before and I always get to be thanked by the performers. After all, I was one of those who paid for the tickets that ended up in their coffers. Go to this link for pictures: http://lemueljon.multiply.com/photos/album/72/Morrissey_Concert_at_the_Joint_inside_the_Hard_Rock_Hotel_Casino##

These are the things that I've been doing for the last 4 weeks. More to come and I'll see to it that my blog is updated more frequently.


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Vacation Week 2 - Done

Today is my last day of my two-week long vacation. Although there were some hitches but I finished the week fully rejuvenated in going back to work.

Main highlight for last week was the First Friday Arts Festival last November 6Th. It was only the second time that I attended the festival with no pressure to time at all. Every time I attend this festival, I only spent about two (2) hours because I have to leave early for work. This time around I stayed in the festival until it ended around 11:00 in the evening.

Several friends came to visit my mom. It was an instant party for all of us since they brought with them some food and spent lunch time with us. I was happy that they decided to visit my mom as it would help her alleviate the boredom that she is feeling right now because she is always tied up on her wheelchair. Although she can move around the house a little bit but she needs to use a cane or a wheelchair so as not to put some pressure on her affected knee. So far, she is doing good with her 3X a week physical therapy.

It was also the birthday of my godson, Anton Josef. I attended his birthday bash and had enough amount of drinks to put me through and driving home safely. Most of the time I stayed home to accompany my mom when my dad is working.

I was able to watch a live show for The Rocky Horror Picture Show. They were actually showing the whole movie on a wide screen and live actors also performed in synchronization with the actors on screen. This added a unique dimension of the movie being shown. Aside from the presence of live actors, there were also audience participation during the show. Audiences were yelling to the screen or the live actors. Sometimes they yell some questions that the actors answered out from the movie's dialogue. Sometimes they drowned the actor's words to insert something more fitting. For a perfect timing when to yell takes a lot of practice. There are some scripts online intended for this "audience participation" for The Rocky Horror.

So far these were what transpired on my last week of vacation. Tomorrow, I'll be back to work but I felt no remorse at all that I only stayed home most of the time. This was my main goal when I decided to cancel my planned trip to the Philippines.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Travel More & See The World

Our world is an amazing place that you got to see and experience. Staying in your own place gives you a limited idea on how the world works. Visiting other places and going out of your comfort zone is a great educational experience. I remember readng a Chinese saying way before that travelling around would give you more knowledge than reading a whole library of books. I can't remember exactly its full text but the idea sticks on my mind even now. You don't need to have lots of money to embark on an adventure of your own. Start in your own place, your own town or city for example. I bet there are still parts of your town or city that you have not visited yet. Then try to expand further like exploring your province or state and eventually to the other neighboring towns and provinces. I bet most of you are still a "foreigner" of your own country.

I have read an article online about three reasons why you should travel more. This article was authored by Andy Hayes, the managing editor of Sharing Travel Experiences, a popular travel website.

Here are Three Reasons why you should travel more:

They say the world is a book, and if you haven't travelled then you've only read one page. Today, it's so easy to see more and travel more. Here's a few reasons why you should pack your bags and get out to see the world.

Hang outside of your comfort zone. When you travel, you'll be in strange and unusual confines. From weird and wonderful toilet experiences to just wondering if you've gotten on the right train, you'll have uncomfortable times on the road. Don't worry - you will probably laugh about them when you get back. But at the end of the day, hanging outside of your comfort zone builds character.

Appreciate your own culture. By experiencing how other societies and cultures work (or in some cases, don't) you'll more appreciate the ways of the world in your own country. Even in other cities and states/provinces of your own country you'll find nuances in the way people speak, act and operate that will help you reflect on your own home.

Learn. The best way to learn a foreign language is immersion, but even just touring you'll pickup tidbits and random trivia about history, architecture, and local customs. Even if you find it all to be useless information, just by exercising your brain you're learning more about how the world works.

So, next time you're letting inertia or fear or anything getting in your way from booking your next trip, stop and consider the benefits. If the world's a book, don't you want to see what's in the next chapter?

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Vacation Week 1 - Done

My first week on vacation from work came and went smoothly. There were no major hitches so far and I've been enjoying the activities that happened during the week.
As I have mentioned in my previous blog entry, I will just be staying in town because of my mom's physical condition. Nevertheless I have vowed to make the most out of my off days.

First and foremost, I was one among the many in the West side of the United States to have the opportunity to watch first hand the premiere showing of Michael Jackson's This Is It movie. It was an experience that I will never forget. I love the movie as it showed the side of the king of pop that many have never seen before. He was very on top of his game, having the hands-on in the preparation of his supposedly final concert tour. Impressive dance moves, hot dancers, talented musicians, magnificent staging and very creative pool of production and technical staff. This is truly a fan movie. I cant wait to get hold of the DVD copy. Actually I already pre-ordered for its Blue-Ray Disc version.

I spent some time in the movies and hitting the local bars with my friend. We went out for the Halloween night at Town Center and Fremont Street Experience. This was my first time going out on Halloween night and I was pretty impressed. Most of the people were in costumes. At the Fremont Street, it looked like a huge masquerade ball. People were in the party mood and I had the time of my life snapping pictures and taking video footages. Follow the links below for the pictures and the video that I put together and posted on my accounts for YouTube and Multiply.

I've been regularly going to the gym and next week, I intend to continue this. My plan for next week is surely to attend the First Friday Arts Festival on November 6th. I intend to do more next week and enjoy the remaining week of my vacation before going back to working mode.

Here is the link for the pictures:
http://lemueljon.multiply.com/photos/album/69/Las_Vegas_Halloween_2009

Here is the link for the video:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2aA0543ku9M

Monday, October 26, 2009

Staying Home On Vacation

Last Sunday, Oct 25th was supposedly my departure date for my Philippine vacation that I've been planning for a year now. For reasons beyond my control, I decided to cancel that trip. I know I have hurt the feelings and expectations of some of my closest friends and families but I had to decide to be with my mother during her knee surgery. Fortunately enough, my loved ones agreed on my decision and understood why I had to cancel that trip.

So here I am on the first two days of my two-week vacation. I decided to use my vacation days anyway because they were already approved by my supervisor. I originally requested three weeks off for the Philippines but I decided to use up two weeks and cancel the last week. I was thinking that I deserve to have some time off for myself because my work schedules until the end of this year will cover all the holidays. I'll be working on major holidays like Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Year's Day. I'll be all hospital-bound, ready to save lives while the rest of the world is partying.

My mom's surgery was done and the huge task of physical therapy is just beginning. The physical rehabilitation would last at least six months depending on her improvement and how her body is coping. So far her Physical Therapist is quite impressed on her progress. According to the therapist, my mom was more flexible on her affected knee than he previously thought. Although my mom suffered intense pain and swelling a day after the surgery, she is doing better right now. She can now move around a little bit but we need to help her to prevent her from falling. She is now regularly taking aspirin to prevent blood clots which is the biggest risk for people who underwent surgeries on their extremities. She only takes her pain medication when there is pain and so far on the average she only takes one pill a day.

How will I spend the next two weeks off from my work? I intend to make these days as worthwhile as possible. By saying "staying home" it doesn't necessarily mean that I'll confine myself inside our house. I plan to go out around town or maybe to the next town nearest to Las Vegas. This way I could be physically away from home for a short period of time and could return home by the end of the day. My dad also took some off from his work so he can also watch over mother. I planned to watch Michael Jackson's movie "This Is It" which will open this week. I got tickets already for that show. Since its Halloween weekend, I planned to go out with some friends and have fun. I might also be doing some projects on my computer which I've been putting on hold for quite some time now. I think this is the right time to do all those unfinished jobs that I put aside long time ago. There are still places in Las Vegas that I haven't been to, so I planned to go there armed with my camera and video cam. I think some friends from California will be coming over next weekend and since I'm still off by then, I could be with them also and show them around. So far, this is my plan for the next weekend. I'm just trying to keep myself busy while trying to enjoy myself as well.

Monday, October 12, 2009

An Advice to a Friend Who Wants To Commit Suicide

My best friend is on a self-pity mode again and I remember that he jokingly mentioned (I hope & pray it's only a joke) to commit suicide. Well, I just read one of Bob Ong's books entitled "Ang Paboritong Libro Ni Hudas", in English translation: The Favorite Book of Judas. In that book, Bob actually had mentioned how to commit suicide in style. So, I guess I shall share this to my friend contemplating to do such a thing and to those who are thinking to exit this world of the living prematurely. This advice therefore is based on Bob Ong's book and therefore the idea is not mine originally. By the way this is only intended to lighten the mood of my dear friend and I hope he would not take the idea of killing himself too seriously or I could not forgive myself.

The first step is to come up with the real reason why you want to kill yourself. Well, I guess my friend, you have a valid reason. To tell you frankly it's not valid reason for me but for you it's a good reason enough. Come on, we need to agree for the real reason, in fairness, okay? If your reason is that nobody wants to love you, there are a lot of people in your life who loves you. Besides it's their great loss if they don't have someone like you to love. This is what I've been telling you and the book's author agreed with me. If your reason is because you're broke…nah! You're not broke…you've been to concerts of your favorite rock artists. How can it be a question of money?

Once you have a valid reason or should I say we agreed on that particular reason to murder yourself, it's time for you to decide how you'll do it. Please don't make a mess on yourself. I hate to clean up your room from blood splatters or brain remains clinging on your wall if you decide to shoot yourself in the head. Aarghh!!!..that's painful, man. The classic way since the beginning of time is to hang yourself with a rope. If you need help to tie the knot, I volunteer to do it. I've been a boy scout so I know the different kinds of knots effective enough to efficiently tighten on your neck in an instant. Taking poison is another way to kill yourself. Be sure to take the most potent of all poison to ensure you die instantly. If you take the less potent kind, there is a chance to survive and man staying in the hospital for treatment is very expensive. Considering you're an artist, you always wanted a dramatic exit as well. Let's try something that will land you in the headlines. Bob Ong suggested having yourself hit by a train or jump in a very tall building. In your case, you may go up to the Stratosphere Tower and jump from there. By the way, you need to pay $7 to go up the tower. Don't forget to your local ID and you still can get discount. While you're already on top of the tower and ready to jump, please ensure that you'll instantly die when you hit the pavement on the ground. Remember, it's painful if you survive, hospitalization is very expensive, but the bright side of it, you might land in the Guinness Book of World Records for the highest fall.

Don't forget to write a suicide note. Bob suggested using a scented stationary using your own handwriting but no erasures. This might give the idea that you're actually not sure to kill yourself or not. In your suicide note, you can break hell and say what you want to say. Express your all out hatred to everybody in this world. Write about how you hated your life, your family and friends (except me), your teachers and mentors, your lovers, your neighbors, your co-workers, your job, your boss, your country, your president, etc etc etc…hey this is America, and we have so called freedom of expression. Don't forget to make it short though and direct to the point. People might find it boring and won't finish reading it. They might miss the portion where you ask forgiveness of what you have done and the main purpose of enticing dramatic reactions from the readers like crying and wailing out might not be accomplished. You will wish to come back to life and kill yourself again in a more dramatic way. Also make sure everybody can see the note you left for them, stick it on your forehead.

This next step is your expertise. Select your theme song. I know you have a wide selection of these songs based on your habit of downloading latest albums of your favorite rock artists from Taringa websites. I could not say more on these. Again, you're the expert. You can also specify how to stage your burial. But before you go, can you also suggest for my theme song when my time comes? Just a favor, ok? Don't tell me through dreams or you just appear in front of me as a ghost…remember I'm not good at entering haunted houses. I laugh aloud instead of screaming.

Choose your wardrobe. You'll only die once so you must choose the best suit. You can bring your trademark cap and your favorite jewelries. You can also bring along your favorite guitars if you wish. Be sure to stipulate all the details in your suicide note….oh this might make the note very long to read….just send an email to me instead.

Choose a quality and nice coffin. One that will not easily rot in the passing of time while your six feet under. Installing an air conditioning is optional. You may want it Wi-Fi enabled so that you can still tweet from down there. How about the color? Hmmm…your wish is as good as mine.

Choose a nice spot in the cemetery. This is a lifetime investment…or should I say death time so choose the spot you want to rest forever. You might want to be cremated but what do you want us to do with your holy ashes? Maybe use it as a foot powder?

Choose the date you will die and the date of your burial or cremation, whatever the case may be. Be sure it falls on a holiday or any special occasion so that your family and friends won't forget your death anniversary. At least they could greet you happy death anniversary every year.

It seems like you have a lot of preparation to do before you kill yourself. I know your days are filled up of other important things to do. So, you might as well forget this crazy idea. Just come back for this list in case you finally decide doing it in the future.


 

Age of Chivalry

I have witnessed the medieval transformation of Sunset Park here in Las Vegas for the annual Renaissance Festival. Presented by the Clark County Parks & Recreation, October 9 through 11 were the days the noble men and ladies together with peasant people, complete with renaissance regalia roam the land once again.

This is the first time I attended this kind of festival or should I say "Faire". My good friend brought me to several festivals happening here in Las Vegas and I think this one is the best. All the festival staff and crew, entertainers and vendors as well as the attending public all wear medieval garb to make the event more authentic. About three (3) weeks to Halloween, I think people were all prepared for the costume parties and trick or treating already.

Tents were set up to depict medieval villages offering crafts, entertainment and food galore to visiting lords and ladies. There are a lot to do in the "faire" aside from eating. Shopping is one of them. There are a lot of crafts, costumes and other stuff for sale depicting the renaissance theme. One particular item I was interested in was the door harp, a musical string instrument that you mount at the back of your door. As the door swings open or close, it produces gentle chime sounds filling your house. It is said to bring good luck to your home. If you need more information about this or interested to own a door harp, just search it online. Entertainment includes comic shows, jugglers, magicians, performing bands, re-enactments of famous medieval events in the time of King Arthur. There were jousting and fencing tournament/shows, too. You can show off your horseback riding prowess as well as hone to perfection your shooting skills in archery. There are lots of food stalls where you can satisfy your giant hunger and thirst. I was particularly surprised how big those turkey legs were. In the distance I thought those were large ice cream cones and my eyes started to scan the area for the ice cream stand location. I ended up having a grilled salmon burger although I was also contemplating to try the ostrich or elk burgers that they were offering. No, there were no snake fritters or cricket crisps…at least not in that shop.

Overall, I enjoyed that festival. Looking forward to next year's Renaissance Festival and should I try wearing a medieval costume next time around?



Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Autumn Arrives In Las Vegas

Where else can Las Vegas appreciate the beauty of season changes without going out of the valley than in the Botanical Gardens at The Bellagio. Once again I would like to share the Fall 2009 exhibits which boasts autumn foliage and colors all over the venue. You've got to see them to fully enjoy the Fall scenery and landscapes.
Here are some pictures I got during my visit over the weekend.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

World Air Traffic

I got an email from my causin working in an airline company based in Canada. It has an amazing video attached to it and I want to share it with all of you.

Everything in yellow is an aircraft.

It's a 24 hour observation of all of the large aircraft flights in the world, condensed down to about 2 minutes.

From space we look like a bee hive of activity!

You can tell it was summer time in the north, by the sun's footprint over the planet. You can see that it didn't quite set in the extreme north, and it didn't quite rise in the extreme south.

At the beginning of the clip watch all of the traffic from the US heading for Europe over night and then all of the traffic coming back to the US during the day.

Note: You can see a larger screen for the video in my Multiply page.
Just go to:http://lemueljon.multiply.com/video/item/50/World_Air_Traffic_For_24-Hr_Period

video

Monday, September 28, 2009

Furious And Helpless



When my workweek was slowing down, I was excited and looking forward for the next three days that I will be off from work. During this time I already heard initial reports about typhoon Ondoy hitting my country, The Philippines. Everything settled in when my best friend in the Philippines sent a text message to me from a borrowed cellphone, apologizing that he could not go online and chat with me (as we normally do) because of some major emergency. I immediately suspected that this emergency was related to the typhoon. His next message caught me off guard and shocked me. His family was affected by the flash floods brought about by the typhoon and that they were not able to save anything from their home. That was his last message to me and up to this writing I still don't have any idea how to get in touch with him. Our common friend already sent a message through my Facebook account confirming what my friend just told me in his text messages. Early that evening, I went to watch a movie, ate in a fast food chain, went to a piano bar and ended up in a McDonald's branch where a friend was working. At this point, I received the alarming news and after my midnight snacks, I immediately went home to check online about the devastation left by typhoon Ondoy. Pictures and news updates blew my mind away. I felt furious and at the same time helpless. Furious, because of what happened. Furious, because of the fact that when nature unleash her wrath, nobody can stop and prevent its aftermath. Helplessness immediately overcame me because I had no idea how to reach for my friend. I wanted to know how his family is coping with this unfortunate tragedy. I sent some text messages to him and to his wife's cellphone but I did not get any reply. I just hope and pray that they are alright.

For those who want to help with the relief efforts currently undergoing for the victims of typhoon Ondoy, you can start here: http://www.google.com/landing/typhoon-ondoy.html

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Cruising Along The Strip One Sunday Evening

Last Sunday, my plan of attending the Greek Food Festival screwed up because I overslept. By the evening, I suddenly got bored and since I was not yet feeling sleepy, I took my Creative VadoHD videocam, mounted it on the dashboard of my car and off I went to the Las Vegas Boulevard otherwise called The Strip. I cruised along the length of the Strip and kept the video recording running. The result is this 5.5 minute video where I spliced bits and pieces of the clips or footages that I took.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Why I Am Thankful

I got this email again from my causin. After reading, it touched a chord that's why I want to share this to all of you. You may have read this email before but serve this as a reminder to be thankful every minute of the day.

======================

I AM THANKFUL :

FOR THE WIFE WHO SAYS IT'S HOT DOGS TONIGHT, BECAUSE SHE IS HOME WITH ME, AND
NOT OUT WITH SOMEONE ELSE.

FOR THE HUSBAND WHO IS ON THE SOFA BEING A COUCH POTATO,
BECAUSE HE IS HOME WITH ME AND NOT OUT AT THE BARS.

FOR THE TEENAGER WHO IS COMPLAINING ABOUT DOING DISHES
BECAUSE IT MEANS SHE IS AT HOME, NOT ON THE STREETS.

FOR THE TAXES I PAY BECAUSE IT MEANS I AM EMPLOYED .

FOR THE MESS TO CLEAN AFTER A PARTY BECAUSE IT MEANS I HAVE BEEN SURROUNDED BY
FRIENDS.

FOR THE CLOTHES THAT FIT A LITTLE TOO SNUG BECAUSE IT MEANS I HAVE ENOUGH TO EAT.

FOR MY SHADOW THAT WATCHES ME WORKBECAUSE IT MEANS I AM OUT IN THE SUNSHINE

FOR A LAWN THAT NEEDS MOWING, WINDOWS THAT NEED CLEANING,
AND GUTTERS THAT NEED FIXING BECAUSE IT MEANS I HAVE A HOME

FOR ALL THE COMPLAINING I HEAR ABOUT THE GOVERNMENT BECAUSE IT MEANS WE HAVE
FREEDOM OF SPEECH.

FOR THE PARKING SPOT I FIND AT THE FAR END OF THE PARKING LOT
BECAUSE IT MEANS I AM CAPABLE OF WALKING AND I HAVE BEEN BLESSED WITH
TRANSPORTATION .

FOR MY HUGE HEATING BILL BECAUSE IT MEANS I AM WARM.

FOR THE LADY BEHIND ME IN CHURCH WHO SINGS OFF KEYBECAUSE IT MEANS I CAN HEAR.
FOR THE PILE OF LAUNDRY AND IRONING BECAUSE IT MEANS I HAVE CLOTHES TO WEAR.

FOR WEARINESS AND ACHING MUSCLES AT THE END OF THE DAY
BECAUSE IT MEANS I HAVE BEEN CAPABLE OF WORKING HARD.

FOR THE ALARM THAT GOES OFF IN THE EARLY MORNING HOURS
BECAUSE IT MEANS I AM ALIVE.

AND FINALLY, FOR TOO MANY E-MAILS BECAUSE IT MEANS I HAVE FRIENDS WHO ARE
THINKING OF ME.

========================

Nice one huh! So stop complaining people and start being thankful for all the things that you have right now.

And by the way, let me add something to the list:

I AM THANKFUL FOR ALL THE COMMENTS ON MY BLOGS BE NEGATIVE OR POSITIVE BECAUSE IT MEANS THERE ARE FRIENDS OUT THERE WHO READ MY ENTRIES, SHARED MY IDEAS AND PREDICAMENTS IN LIFE OR JUST SIMPLY LOVES ME......

Sunday, September 20, 2009

San Gennaro Feast

Since I have talked about food in my last post (check out my post titled Fortune Cookies), I might as well continue my little gastronomic journey this week. Last Sept 17Th, I went to San Gennaro Festival, an Italian festival held annually here in Las Vegas. The event was spearheaded by the Society of San Gennaro Feast. San Gennaro was a bishop of Benevento, Italy who died a martyr in 305 AD.

This festival is one of the big annual festivals being held here in Las Vegas. There were carnival rides, arts and crafts, performers and most importantly, FOOD!....Italian food. Talk about Philly cheese steak, Italian sausages and peppers, spaghetti, lasagna, meat balls, calzone, baked zita, fried calamari, shrimp campi, beer, beer and more beer. Aside from mainly Italian food stands, there were also food vendors selling Mexican and Mediterranean food items.

When I was roaming around the festival grounds, absorbing the aroma of food, feasting my eyes on the various arts and crafts being sold, and appreciating the sea of people attending the festivities, I took some video footages using my Creative VadoHD compact video camera. The resulting crude video is a good representation of the fun one could experience at San Gennaro festival.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Fortune Cookies



Pretend that you've just finished dining on a sumptuous feast of Chinese food. Now, choose your cookie carefully, crack it open and find your fortune. Fortune cookies are popular with Chinese fast-food restaurants. After a Chinese meal, a plateful of these sweet little things, usually one cookie for each diner, is being served as desserts with good luck wishes. Excitement builds up when you crack open this cookie to find your fortune. The fortune is in the form of a small piece of paper inserted inside the hallow portion of the cookie with quotes and inspiring messages written on it. Sometimes you can find some number combinations which you can take them as your lucky numbers. I always look forward to opening my own fortune cookie whenever we eat in a Chinese restaurant or have Chinese take-outs.

According to Wikipedia.com: “There are approximately 3 billion fortune cookies made each year around the world, the vast majority of them used for consumption in the United States. The largest manufacturer of the cookies is Wonton Food, headquartered in Brooklyn, New York. They make over 4.5 million fortune cookies per year. Another large manufacturer is Peking Noodle in the Los Angeles area. There are other smaller, local manufacturers including Tsue Chong Co. in Seattle and Sunrise Fortune Cookie in Philadelphia.”

There are many other smaller companies that make and sell fortune cookies even over the Internet. You can even customize the “fortune” found inside these cookies when you order them to suit your needs.

In popular culture, there is a common joke involving fortune cookies that involves appending "between the sheets" or "in bed" to the end of the fortune, usually creating a sexual innuendo or other bizarre messages, for example: “ Get away from home awhile to restore your energy (in bed).” We usually read these quotes aloud while comparing our fortunes inside the restaurant and it would start up intense laughter among us.

Here are some more examples:

YOU WILL HAVE MANY FRIENDS WHEN YOU NEED THEM. 9 12 19 32 41 44

YOU WILL SOON BE RECEIVING SOME GOOD WRITTEN NEWS. 14 35 37 40 44 46

A REFRESHING CHANGE IS IN YOUR FUTURE

RESIST A TEMPTATION TO TAKE SHORTCUTS OF ANY KIND.

GENEROSITY AND PERFECTION ARE YOUR ASSETS – AND THEY SHOW

A WISH WILL BE GRANTED AFTER A LONG DELAY. 09 18 27 33 42 47

YOU ARE VERY EXPRESSIVE AND POSITIVE IN WORD, ACT AND FEELING.

BE PREPARED TO RECEIVE SOMETHING SPECIAL. 17 23 33 38 45 47

PARTICIPATION IN SPORTS MAY LEAD YOU TO A LUCRATIVE CAREER.

You can find some more quotes, messages or “fortunes” online, just Google them.

Is there a need for you to take these messages seriously? You may or you may not, just like how you take your daily Horoscope?

The Truth Hurts

I came across an email forwarded to me by a cousin. I love the Philippines, my country first and foremost even if I own an American passport. But sometimes or most of the time, we(that includes me)need to be jolted to awakening. I hate this guy who sent out this email...I hate him for telling the truth.

DISCLAIMER: The information rendered in the following article is not mine or my cousin's opinion. I am merely sharing this to everyone and anyone who can see the positive points beyond the negative inputs in the following article.
============================

THE TRUTH HURTS. A MUST READ FOR ALL FILIPINOS
'The Philippines is a nation of starstruck ignoramuses'
by Dero Pedero Of Philippine Star

Last July 23, I wrote about Nasty (short for Anastacio), a balikbayan from Los Angeles , who, while vacationing in Manila , had nothing to say but negative comments about the Philippines and the Filipinos. The article elicited a deluge of comments from our readers. Though some agreed with his curt observations, most were enraged at the repulsive way he acted and whined.
For me, he was the classic epitome of the 'crow perched on a carabao,' thinking and acting nauseatingly superior just because he has become an American citizen, inequitably comparing everything here to how they are in the first world. I was particularly irked by his repulsive 'know it all' attitude and peeved no end by his irritating Waray-American twang.
Those who have not read that article may access philstar.com and click archives, then select July 23 and click Lifestyle_. The article is entitled 'Little Brown Americans.'
As a backgrounder, here is an excerpt:
The next day, I took them on a little city tour and accompanied them to do extra shopping at the duty-free shop. They were to leave two days later for their respective provinces (Randy is from Pampanga, Nasty, from Samar ).
'God, ang dilem-dilem naman ditow (it is so dark here)!' screamed Nasty in his characteristic Taglish slang, 'At ang inet-inet pa (and so warm)! * * *
All throughout the day, Nasty complained about everything. He griped that all Filipinos he encountered were dense and inefficient (I hope that didn't include me!); that the traffic was horrendous and drivers 'drove like they were late for their funerals'; that the pollution from the smoke-belching vehicles was irritating his dainty, surgically-pinched nose. He was disgusted that water closets didn't work; horrified that there was no toilet paper in public toilets ('God, how do you people do it?' he bewailed); petrified by street children begging while soaking wet in the rain ('Where are the parents of these kids?' he nagged).
He moaned about the proliferation of slums, people crossing the superhighways ('There should be underground or overhead walkways for pedestrians! ' he demanded), the potholes on the streets, the disgusting garbage and filth all over the city, and the annoying floods! And all these he observed in just one day!
Weeks after the publication of the article, I took Nasty's silence to mean that of contempt and anger. I must admit that I didn't care because I was really turned off by his arrogance. The good news is, Nasty has finally decided to break his silence and give us his side, loaded with a big piece of his mind. The bad news is, he hits more sensitive chords and it stings.

Nasty's E-Mail :
Dear Dero,
My Zen master says, 'Never fight fire with fire.' So, I sat in a lotus position, imbibed the ethereal qualities of cool mountain water and stoically resisted the temptation of answering back to defend myself in rebuttal of your article. I kept quiet while you and your readers had a charlatan holiday, dissecting and fanning sarcasm on my every comment about your country and your people.
I am not mad at you for writing that piece. I was never upset at any point, even after your readers from all over the world e-mailed in their two-cents' worth. In fact, I found it rather amusing and carnival-like. I even felt happy that people still came to the defense of your Philippines !
If you noticed, I now refer to the Philippines and Filipinos as your country and your people. Every time I went back there for vacation, my Filipino-ness always took the better of me (blame those damn green mangoes smothered with bagoong!) and made me forget that I am, in all reality, what you aptly called a 'Little Brown American.' I have come to terms with my own identity- I am, after all, an American citizen carrying an American passport!
What precipitated my quick decision to sever my ties with your country (aside from your ***** of an article) were the Abu Sayyaf abductions (que barbaridad!) , the Payatas-like downslide of the peso (eat your hearts out, I earn sweet American dollars!), the 'devoid of conscience' graft and corruption in your government (this has gone on for the longest time-how shameful!), and lately, the stupid 'Juetengate' and juicy but enraging 'Boracay' mansion gossips. With all these, who would be proud to be a Filipino? Besides, to tell you frankly, those Erap jokes are no longer funny- they are passe and leave a bad taste in the mouth and heart.

No Apology
If I sounded brash and insensitive with the way I threw my comments, well, I cannot do anything about that because that is the way I am, and I offer no apology. Here, in America , you have to tell it like it is or you'll never be taken seriously. I have learned to drop my 'Pinoy sugarcoating' because out here, you get nothing done if you are meek and sweet and pa-api. Hindi puwede mag-Anita Linda dito!
When I commented about your pollution, street children mendicants, slums, potholes, toilets that don't work, garbage, floods, and most of all, the Pinoys' chronic lack of discipline, I was merely putting into words what I saw. I can't blame your being blind about your country's situation. My Zen master says, 'One cannot easily see the dirt in one's eye.'
I am sure though that you are aware of those sordid details, but have grown accustomed to them (like most Manileños have). All the complaints I aired may have hurt your pride but what I wanted you to realize is this: The things I pointed out are all symptoms of a failing, falling nation!

Suffering A National Karma?
Could yours be a country cursed with a huge national karmic debt? It could be payback time, you know. Look back into your history, look deep inside your hearts-what could you have done as a nation to deserve this fiasco you are in today?
What you are faced with didn't just happen overnight-it developed and grew into a monster in the course of time. Deeply imbedded in the psyche of the Filipino is the amalgamation of the characters and events that have impacted your lives - Dona Victorina, Dona Concepcion, poor Sisa as well the other hilarious and tragic characters of Dr. Jose Rizal...
Stonehill... the notorious gangsters immortalized by your Filipino movies like Asiong Salonga (hmmm!), et al...the killers in your (I thought they'd never end!) massacre movies..those cheap, appalling _title_s of your movies...those staged 'religious miracles' that your naive masses believed.....family men with pushy queridas (mistresses) ...your crooked politicians, undependable police officers and greedy customs collectors.. .your bribe-hungry court judges...Imeldific, gloriously smiling and crying at the same time, bejeweled. (How very Fellini!)
What you are is the sum total of your history, your heritage and culture,your education, the crap that your press sensationalizes, the bad icons that your movies glorify, the artificial values your advertising extols, the bad examples your leaders and role models project. What you feed your country's mind is what it becomes. You have become the ugly monster that you've created. You are now crying all the tears your sickeningly sentimental movies wailed out for years and years!

Your Biggest Fault
If there is one thing that comes to mind, I think your biggest fault would be your individual greed. 'Ako muna!' seems to be the national mantra. The trouble is, very few people think for the common good in a deplorable 'to each his own kurakot' festival. Coupled by your crab mentality of pushing down others, this can be fatal. You think barangay, not national. Hello, everybody else around the world is thinking global! Europe is unshackling her national boundaries while you are building fences around your nipa huts.
Do yourselves a favor and look at your nation as a ship. All of you are in it and it is sinking! Realize your oneness-what hurts your brother hurts you, too. Think about the future of your children and the succeeding generations, and do something about it quick before your poor little banca plunges forever into the irretrievable depths of despair.

Star-Struck Nation
You are a nation of star-struck ignoramuses. You are easily awed by your movie stars who are usually nothing but uneducated, aquiline-nosed and light-skinned ******** picked up from some gutter somewhere. I have seen what these artistas illusionadas can get away with. They just flash their capped-tooth smiles and policemen let them get away with traffic violations; they bat their false eyelashes and customs officers impose no duty on their suspicious balikbayan boxes.
Worst of all, with the Filipino movie industry taking a nosedive, hordes of actors and show personalities went into politics. It is, as they say, the next best 'racket'-there is more money to be made in the politicking business than in show business! (And what is this I hear that in the coming elections, more are jumping into the arena? Mag-hara-kiri na kayo!) How can you expect these comedians and actors, who only know how to take directions from their directors, to direct your nation? For them, politics will just be an 'act'. No big surprise here, for they are mere actors with no original _script_s to speak, no original visions to share. So what can you expect but a government that is a comedy of errors. Serves you and your star-struck nation right!
My Zen master says, 'Give unto Caesar what is due to Caesar, but keep Charlie Chaplin on the silver screen to make us laugh.' To survive, you must teach your citizenry to say no to three things - no to drugs, no to stealing and graft and corruption, and no to artistas in politics. I hope you've learned your lesson by now. (Yours is the onl y country where Mexican soap stars are received like royalty in the presidential palace. How shoddy! God forbid-Fernando Carrillo might end up being your next president. At least he has great abs and doesn't wobble like a penguin when he walks!)
For those artistas who honestly believe that they can make a positive difference in the Filipino masses' life, they must first study law, business and public administration, and immerse themselves in the life and passion of Mother Teresa. Politics is not an art for dilettante artistas to dabble in. It is called Political Science,' hello?!

Educate Your Masses
Educate the masses - especially your electorate. What you need is an intelligent vote aside from, of course, intelligent candidates. The University of San Carlos in Cebu City , founded in 1595, and the University of Santo Tomas in Manila , established in 1611, are the oldest universities in Asia , and are even older than Harvard. But the standard of Pinoy education has deteriorated so much that the Philippines ranks among the poorest in the educational hierarchy of Asia . Education, education, education - that' s what you need in this age of information, information, information.
If all your social, religious and political sectors don't sit down now and decide to take the Right Way , the Philippines and your children's children will be grand losers in the worldwide rush to the future. Education is one sure way to salvation. Teach what is right, good, beautiful and beneficial. Downplay all negativity if you cannot eliminate it altogether.

The Ideal President
I've got news for you. (As if you didn't already know...) No matter whom you put up there as your leader or president, it will be the same banana. Even a holy man can turn into another J.E. (Judas Escariot) for a few pieces of silver. Kumpares, alalays, relatives and cronies will encrust like flies and maggots on his cordon sanitaire. And it will be the same despicable 'Sa amin na 'to!' hullabaloo all over again.
Take an advice from Aling Epang: 'Pumili ng matanda, mayaman, mabait, at madaling mamatay.' Get a president who is old - so that he is full of wisdom, rich - so he won't need to steal more money, goodhearted - so he will render heartfelt service to his people, and is in the sunset of his life - so that he will think of nothing but gaining good points to present when he meets his Creator. And may I add: At iisa lang ang pamilya! This is, of course, asking for the moon. Just pray fervently for an intelligent leader with a pure heart who genuinely loves the common tao!
Magpakatotoo Kayo! Wake up and look at the real you. Enough with looking at your reflection in glorious, self-embellishing mirrors. The tropical sun can play tricks, you know. Do not wait for darkness to fall before you take that much-needed long, hard look at your real situation.
Magpakatotoo kayo, ano? This isn't a wake-up call - it is the final alarm!
Save the ship while you still can. Don't wait till your people have no more dreams left to hang on to, no more hope to sustain their broken spirits. I came home, spent my penny-pinched savings so that even in the minutest way I could help your bruised economy. Your politicians sit on their fat, farting butts and get balatos (kuno!) in the millions. Receivers are as guilty as the givers. Now, tell me, who is really nasty?

I Have Made My Decision; So Should You.
My Zen master says, 'Life is all about decisions, not choices.' I have made a decision which I know will be very hard for me to keep- You will never hear from me again (not in this vein) and I will not even think of visiting or buwisiting your Manila ever. This is my way of letting you know that I have given up on you. Bahala na kayo! Only you can help yourselves because at the stage you are in, nobody would want to help you. My Zen master says, 'You have to fall to learn to rise again.'

How much lower do you want to go?
Anyway, regarding the Philippines as a tourist destination, you have a lot of cleaning up and face-lifting to do before foreigners would dare go to your islands again. The Abu Sayyaf episode has done your tourism industry more damage than you could ever imagine, and it will take a long time before the world forgets. (By the way, your tourism projects are lusterless and have no global impact. If you want real business, spruce up your infrastructure and do aggressive marketing on the World Wide Web!)
Of course, I would gladly reverse my decision if someone offered me exclusive lordship over lotto, bingo, jueteng, pintakasi and the jai alai.Think about it: this will be to your advantage because I never give tong or blood commission to anyone! (If only your president used the millions he received from those gambling lords to build homes for the masses, you wouldn't have any more squatters. Huling hirit: defrost those Marcos billions, pay off some debt, place the rest in high-yield investments, feed your hungry, and spread bounty and joy to every Filipino! Are you stupid or what? - That's your money sucked from the blood of your people!)
My Zen master says, 'Vox populi is not always the voice of God.'
Come over to L.A and I'll show you a great time!

Our friend Randy says hello! We will be going to Vancouver to feast our eyes on the colors of autumn. Wish you could join us.
The 2001 Miss America , Angela Perez Baraquio, is of Filipino ancestry. Dero, her parents hail from Pangasinan just like you! But keep in mind that she is an American (in case some wise fools over there claim her to be Filipino like they always do whenever someone becomes successful). Wait for the girl to say it, don't put words in her mouth!
Mabuhay kayo ( SANA )!
Sa totoo lang, MAGDUSA KAYONG LAHAT!
(Don't you just love my Waray-Kano accent?) He-he-he!
I have made my decision, now make yours. I would hate for the day to come when I'd have to say, 'I told you so!' Good luck! (You need it.)
An ex-Filipino
J. Anastasio
'Nasty'

My Short Reply :

Dear Nasty,
Thanks for your e-mail. I swear you sort of stole the words from right under my tongue. Now, I am utterly speechless.
Send my regards to Randy. Wishing you the best!

God Bless

First Friday - Again

I went to Las Vegas' First Friday Arts Festival last Sept 4, 2009. This time I have brought my Creative VadoHD video cam and got some footages of the event. I tried to splice them into one "nasty" video with a heavy metal soundtrack. How's that for a little wild thing.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

A Broken Dream

Have you ever planned of something important to do and yet end up with failure? I bet you do. The worst thing so far happened to me and currently I would say I am suffering inside. I've been planning this for almost a year and as the day gets closer the excitement built up. It's already less than two months away and when I'm about to do the final preparations, here comes the most dreadful news that basically affected and ruined everything.

The plan was for me to go for a trip to the Philippines, my home country. I purposely planned on this since there are some people that I have to visit, people that I loved so much. I missed them since my last trip back home last year. Final plans and itineraries were almost done. The problem that came up was the medical condition of my mom. She has been complaining about the pain on her right knee since last year and this time around it's getting worse. She already reduced her working days from fulltime 5 days to 3 days a week only. Even with extra days for her to rest, she still have difficulty walking and most of the time the pain becomes unbearable for her when it involves long standing and walking in her job. Consulting her doctors, she was advised to have a knee replacement surgery as soon as possible if she wanted back her lifestyle. The surgery itself would take about 5 hours and the physical rehabilitation would take about 6 months on the average. The decision was made to have the surgery not later than October because considering the length of time for the rehabilitation; we can still go home to the Philippines by July of next year for their 50th wedding anniversary. I strongly felt that I need to be with them all throughout the process throughout the duration of the rehabilitation. My mom won't be able to walk normally by then and my dad is still working full time so they actually need an extra hand. The surgery would occur before my scheduled trip which will be on the last week of October so I decided, hurtful it maybe, to cancel my trip to the Philippines.

Right now, I'm in a huge dilemma how to tell the sad news to the people who are already expecting me. They also made their own plans to fit with my itinerary and with so much excitement, this sudden blow of sad news would definitely crush them. I felt guilty because I will cause sadness with the decision that I have to make. The only consolation that I could have is the understanding of these people. I love them so much and deciding to cancel the trip and ruin everything is equally painful for me. I just hope that they can forgive me and understand me. Priorities and decisions have to be made no matter how painful it is.

Monday, September 7, 2009

My Recent Road Trip










Yeah, yeah…it has been awhile since my last update on my blog. I really wanted to post something over the weekend but I was kind of busy due to my mini vacation/road trip to California. Definitely, I will talk about this little adventure that happened on my last days off.


On a Sunday morning, a little bit sleepy since I just came from my work overnight, I embarked on a road trip to California. Armed with my GPS (as usual) mounted on MacLeod (the name I granted to my ever reliable Toyota Highlander SUV), I pointed my direction towards the beaches of Southern California facing the Pacific Ocean. To cope up with the sleepiness, I downed a dose of 5Hr Energy Drink and blasted my car speakers with the soundtrack I specially prepared in my iPod Touch.

I actually got three (3) choices of destination; Long Beach, Venice Beach and Santa Monica and I ended up in Santa Monica. Santa Monica is the home of the world famous Santa Monica Pier. The pier offers a variety of entertainment, dining and shopping possibilities including the thrill rides of the Pacific Park, a historic carousel built in 1922 and an interactive aquarium. Along the planks of the pier, there were musicians and artists performing to the public for free. They said that this is one spot where you can enjoy a beautiful California sunset but I never had the chance to witness this since I was already busy looking for a hotel where I could stay for the night. Nevertheless I still enjoyed my short stay in this beautiful Californian beach, just think Baywatch.

More pictures: http://lemueljon.multiply.com/photos/album/65/Mini_Adventure_to_Santa_Monica_Los_Angeles




Monday, August 24, 2009

Road Trip and Some Disappointments

Right after work on Sunday morning, I prepared myself for a road trip to Los Angeles, California with my parents. My mom has some concerns regarding her retirement pension back in the Philippines and she has to visit the GSIS branch office located at the Philippine Embassy in Los Angeles. I had made some arrangements with our hotel reservations online for Sunday night in a downtown LA hotel. I wouldn't want to specifically mention the name of the hotel but definitely would give a much less than perfect review for it.

Anyway, our trip from Las Vegas which was close to 5 hours of driving (excluding our stop over at Barstow for restroom and lunch break as well as gas) went fine. I was driving a little bit slow on the highway as there were lots of cars on the road leaving Las Vegas. These people, definitely Californians, spent their short vacation in Las Vegas over the weekend and Sunday was usually their return trip in time for work or school on Monday. Armed with my car's GPS, I didn't have difficulty locating our hotel. I usually use my GPS for out of town driving specially going to California since I am not and probably never will be familiar with the highways and streets in big metropolis like Los Angeles.

Locating and checking into our hotel was a breeze, but surprise awaits us when we actually get inside our room. There were no towels in our room. This is the second thing that I usually check whenever I get into a hotel; the first one is to check the exit doors. It's kind of automatic for me. Also, another thing that I noticed was that there was no shower curtain on the shower area and having a shower would definitely leave a pool of water all over the floor. I called the front desk and I was disappointed when the clerk told me that they didn't have extra towels for us. Maybe he heard me wrong so I have to repeat what I said and clarified to him that I was not asking for extra towels but there were really no towels in the bathroom when we got in. I also called his attention with regards to the shower curtain. I did not need any explanation from him but definitely I expected a good customer service from him or from the staff for that matter. Fortunately, without much pressure from me, he assigned us to another room and he personally went to see us and gave us the new card keys. Another thing that I always expect from hotels in big cities is their internet connection. It is already quite common for hotels to provide complimentary internet connection to all their guests. This hotel has a free Wi-Fi connection but unfortunately the connection was so slow. In fact I wrote this entry on Sunday evening inside my hotel room but uploaded it only when I was back in Las Vegas using my own Wi-Fi connection. Maybe I need to do some tweaking on my browser settings but I never remembered ever doing this while connecting wirelessly in my home, in my workplace (shhhh..I sometimes go online while at work) or on any public hot spots.

I booked this hotel online using Hotels.com and users always get the opportunity to rate and review their hotel stay. I definitely would give a low rate for this particular hotel but not really the worst rating one could ever give. There are some positive things that I have seen; the room is definitely clean, even the first one given to us. I requested for a non-smoking room and we got the right one. They have free parking, some room amenities like fridge, cable TV, microwave oven, coffee maker and ironing board. The front desk staff was helpful enough with our dilemma of our first room. By the way, breakfast is not complimentary. Should I still recommend this hotel to others? Yes, especially for those who love surprises LOL. How will I rate this hotel? Probably 2.5 out of 5. Now, am I too tight with them?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Week That Was

It's been almost 15 days since I last updated this blog. It's been a hectic week for me. I was fully involved with a community organization where the members are people from my hometown in the Philippines, Maasin City. We called ourselves Kaba-Maasin Las Vegas and I have partially talked about it in one of my very old posts maybe in my previous blog.

Anyway, every year we are celebrating the feast of Our Lady of the Assumption here in Las Vegas at the same time the feast is being celebrated back home. It's been six years now that we are doing this and it's been twice already that we went back to Maasin to celebrate the fiesta in there. Every time we celebrate the fiesta, we have the Novena prayers for 9 days and the culminating party on the 10th day. We assigned sponsors to act as hosts in every Novena so the daily prayers were held in different venues. Of course food and drinks are always abundant and overflowing meaning the usual Filipino fiesta spirit already started on the first day of the Novena.

I refused to be one of the officers of this organization but I gave out all my support in order for the celebrations to be successful. I preferred to work in the background, acting like an adviser to the officers. I preferred to work this way and even with the prodding of the members to make me the group's president, I refused it but I promised to do the dirty job and let the officers do the things they're supposed to do. What are they supposed to do? I honestly don't know since I practically covered everything…well all the details I mean. Budgeting and other administrative jobs, I left that for the officers to do.

One of my main focuses is the production and program for the Dinner & Socials after all the Novena prayers were done. I also do some detailed jobs like printing tickets, promotions and maintaining the group's website, The Kaba-Maasin Online. Part of that is to come up with dance routine where the members can present during the culminating party. Coming up with a presentable production is already a big feat with people who has little or no idea in performing on stage. You still have to force them to do their assigned part but fortunately enough; most gave out their support and participated in the production numbers. As the day comes near, my "To Do" list grew significantly and this gave me some pressure to complete everything on time. I have always anticipated some minor problems that would come up on the day itself and this year is not an exception. We were holding the party in a hotel last Saturday, Aug 15th but since Friday I already stayed in the said hotel in order for me to cover all the aspects needed for the party. By Saturday afternoon, the sound system was already set up but when I actually checked the venue or the ballroom that we were renting, the size of the dance floor is not enough for any production number that we prepared. The hotel's person-in-charge could not provide more of the wooden panels to cover the carpeted part of the ballroom to serve as the dance floor. On the party itself, during the dancing portion, our president hired the wrong person to do the mixing of the dance music. He was not actually a DJ. But in spite of all these minor screw up, I would say that the whole event was successful. I was afraid that people would actually leave the party when we realized that the music was not at par with the club music we are used to hearing and enjoy during night outs. I was kind of proud of all the members and guests that night because they still tried to make use of what music was available and enjoyed themselves up to the end.

After all the celebrations, I still have lots of things to do and that is to upload all the pictures and videos to the internet and make some links to our website. I've done all these things already and I can release a sigh of relief knowing that everything is done and here's looking forward to next year's festivities.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Watching The Biggest Funeral Procession Ever

I have watched Pres Cory's funeral services last night (my time here in Las Vegas). I watched it online through a Facebook link of GMA's tribute page. I wasn't able to finish watching the live broadcast but I learned that it took for the funeral cortège around 8 to 10 hrs to reach the Manila Mamorial Park from the Manila Cathedral, a distance which normally last an hour. Throngs of people that would easily reach a million in number came out of their houses to pay their last respects to the former leader. With this overwhelming crowd bidding farewell to her only proved how she was loved by the Filipino people, how many lives she has touched and changed. It was not a state funeral as she and her family only wanted a simple funeral rites attended by her family and friends. She definitely had her wishes because the Filipino people was there with her until she reached her final resting place, beside her beloved husband Ninoy.
Indeed Cory's legacy , the People Power Revolution is still alive and showed up in full force. How heartwarming it was to see that Filipinos are united once again and set aside their differences to pay tribute to a woman considered the mother of Philippine democracy, a global icon of democracy and human rights. Even the Marcos' children were there during her wake to pay their last respects. How I wish it is always like this. As what my best friend Mike said in one of his Facebook updates; " despite all the griefs, the Philippines really needs more moments like this".

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

So Hot In The Valley

I've been complaining how hot Las Vegas has become, literally hot with temperatures reaching 120degF on the peak of summer. This year's summer is no exception. Although we are still to see the temperature to reach the 120deg levels but right now it easily reached 111degF so far. Since the year that I arrived here in the city that I considered my second home, the entire Las Vegas valley is in serious drought condition. The Colorado River which supplies water to all the states it ran through like Nevada and Arizona faces the worst on record. Since 2000 Lake Mead, a man-made lake and the largest water reservoir in the United States, dropped its water level by approximately 100 feet. The Water Authority and its agencies adopted a Water Resource Plan to meet the demands during this time of shortage. The entire community was encouraged to adopt water conservation steps and the Water Authority even gave incentives to those households who were able to save significant water usage.

Some of the recommended steps were the following:

  • Apply Xeriscaping to lawns and gardens. Xeriscaping refers to landscaping and gardening in ways that reduce or eliminate the use of supplemental irrigation. Transforming ones lawn or garden to be water efficient could receive a hefty incentive from the Water Authorities.
  • Turf limitations. When installing a landscape to a new home, homeowners and construction companies should check the turf limit in a particular area to ensure that the code requirements are met.
  • Mandatory water restrictions. Wherever we live in Las Vegas, we belong to a certain water restriction zone and being assigned with a watering schedule for our lawns and gardens. We will be cited and slapped with a water-waste fee for using our garden sprinklers outside the assigned watering days. During the months of May through October, additional watering restrictions were implemented. We should not irrigate our gardens and lawns between 11am and 7pm. This is the time of the day where it is the hottest and the water will just evaporate quickly before being absorbed into the soil.
  • Use carwash facilities instead of washing your car in your own residence. This would help prevent draining our water reservoir. By using a water smart carwash facility and with a minimal fee, the waste water will be treated and returned back to Lake Mead.

There are many ways of conserving water all throughout the household and those being recommended by the authorities but the most common that I myself been following is to have my car washed in a carwash facility. Our household doesn't have a considerable lawn that uses much water but we still follow our designated water schedule days.

Could this be the result of Global Warming? Maybe there are less snow caps being formed from the north during the winter that when it melts, they could not supply enough water to the Colorado River thereby reducing the water levels in Lake Mead. It's a given fact that we live in the middle of Mohave Desert and therefore water conservation is already a way of life in this part of the country.

An embedded video is showing my car in a carwash facility.


video

Monday, August 3, 2009

Marriage

I got this email from an eGroup and I thank my causin Raoul V. for sharing it with me.
======================


To those who are married, .. Not married .. and soon to be married


MARRIAGE

When I got home that night as my wife served dinner, I held her hand and said, I've got something to tell you. She sat down and ate quietly. Again I observed the hurt in her eyes.

Suddenly I didn't know how to open my mouth. But I had to let her know what I was thinking. I want a divorce.. I raised the topic calmly.

She didn't seem to be annoyed by my words, instead she asked me softly, why?

I avoided her question. This made her angry. She threw away the chopsticks and shouted at me, you are not a man! That night, we didn't talk to each other. She was weeping. I
knew she wanted to find out what had happened to our marriage. But I could hardly give her a satisfactory answer; she had lost my heart to Dew. I didn't love her anymore. I just pitied her!

With a deep sense of guilt, I drafted a divorce agreement which stated that she could own our house, our car, and 30% stake of my company.

She glanced at it and then tore it into pieces. The woman who had spent ten years of her life with me had become a stranger. I felt sorry for her wasted time, resources and energy but I could not take back what I had said for I loved Dew so dearly. Finally she cried loudly in front of me, which was what I had expected to see. To me her cry was actually a kind of release. The idea of divorce which had obsessed me for several weeks seemed to be firmer and clearer now.

The next day, I came back home very late and found her writing something at the table. I didn't have supper but went straight to sleep and fell
asleep very fast because I was tired after an eventful day with Dew.

When I woke up, she was still there at the table writing. I just did not care so I turned over and was asleep again.

In the morning she presented her divorce conditions: she didn't want anything from me, but needed a month's notice before the divorce.
She requested that in that one month we both struggle to live as normal a life as possible. Her reasons were simple: our son had his exams in a month's time and she didn't want to disrupt him with our broken marriage.

This was agreeable to me. But she had something more, she asked me to recall how I had carried her into out bridal room on our wedding day.

She requested that everyday for the month's duration I carry her out of our bedroom to the front door ever morning.. I thought she was going crazy. Just to make our last days together bearable I accepted her odd request.

I told Dew about my wife's
divorce conditions.. . She laughed loudly and thought it was absurd. No matter what tricks she applies, she has to face the divorce, she said scornfully..

My wife and I hadn't had any body contact since my divorce intention was explicitly expressed. So when I carried her out on the first day, we both appeared clumsy. Our son clapped behind us, daddy is holding mummy in his arms. His words brought me a sense of pain. From the bedroom to the sitting room, then to the door, I walked over ten meters with her in my arms. She closed her eyes and said softly; don't tell our son about the divorce. I nodded, feeling somewhat upset. I put her down outside the door. She went to wait for the bus to work. I drove alone to the office.

On the second day, both of us acted much more easily. She leaned on my chest. I could smell the fragrance of her blouse. I realized that I hadn't looked at this woman carefully for a long time.. I realized she was not
young any more. There were fine wrinkles on her face, her hair was graying! Our marriage had taken its toll on her. For a minute I wondered what I had done to her.

On the fourth day, when I lifted her up, I felt a sense of intimacy returning. This was the woman who had given ten years of her life to me.

On the fifth and sixth day, I realized that our sense of intimacy was growing again. I didn't tell Dew about this. It became easier to carry her as the month slipped by. Perhaps the everyday workout made me stronger.

She was choosing what to wear one morning. She tried on quite a few dresses but could not find a suitable one. Then she sighed, all my dresses have grown bigger. I suddenly realized that she had grown so thin, that was the reason why I could carry her more easily.

Suddenly it hit me... she had buried so much pain and bitterness in her heart. Subconsciously I reached out and touched her head.

Our son came in
at the moment and said, Dad, it's time to carry mum out. To him, seeing his father carrying his mother out had become an essential part of his life. My wife gestured to our son to come closer and hugged him tightly. I turned my face away because I was afraid I might change my mind at this last minute. I then held her in my arms, walking from the bedroom, through the sitting room, to the hallway. Her hand surrounded my neck softly and naturally. I held her body tightly; it was just like our wedding day.

But her much lighter weight made me sad. On the last day, when I held her in my arms I could hardly move a step. Our son had gone to school. I held her tightly and said, I hadn't noticed that our life lacked intimacy.

I drove to office.... jumped out of the car swiftly without locking the door. I was afraid any delay would make me change my mind...I walked upstairs. Dew opened the door and I said to her, Sorry, Dew, I do not want the divorce
anymore.

She looked at me, astonished, and then touched my forehead.. Do you have a fever? She said. I moved her hand off my head. Sorry, Dew, I said, I won't divorce. My marriage life was boring probably because she and I didn't value the details of our lives, not because we didn't love each other any more. Now I realize that since I carried her into my home on our wedding day I am supposed to hold her until death do us apart.

Dew seemed to suddenly wake up. She gave me a loud slap and then slammed the door and burst into tears. I walked downstairs and drove away.

At the floral shop on the way, I ordered a bouquet of flowers for my wife. The salesgirl asked me what to write on the card. I smiled and wrote, I'll carry you out every morning until death do us apart.

That evening I arrived home, flowers in my hands, a smile on my face, I run up stairs, only to find my wife in the bed - dead.

================================
The small details of your lives
are what really matter in a relationship. It is not the mansion, the car, property, the money in the bank. These create an environment conducive for happiness but cannot give happiness in themselves. So find time to be your spouse's friend and do those little things for each other that build intimacy. Do have a real happy marriage!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Where Were You During the People Power Revolution?

As the news came to me on the passing of our Former President Corazon Aquino, the first thing that came to my mind was the 1986 People Power Revolution which led to the ousting of then dictator President Ferdinand Marcos and made Tita Cory the first ever woman president of the Philippines. This peaceful revolution, no guns fired and no blood being shed inspired other peace-loving countries of the world. It was no surprise therefore that the former lady president became a worldwide icon for democracy and freedom. I became nostalgic and tried to remember exactly where I was and what I was doing on February 22, 1986.

I was not on the streets participating on the protest rally, but I was confined on my hospital bed instead. Earlier on that week, I went out with my friends for dinner at my favorite Chinese dimsum restaurant. Later that evening I was beginning to feel stomach upset. The following morning I was already suffering from Loose Bowel Movement (LBM). I took some medications but my condition became worse than ever. Three days later, with no improvement, I started to get dehydrated and that was the time that I decided to check in to a hospital. It was a case of minor food poisoning and I was told by my doctor that I should remain confined in the hospital with a series of intravenous fluids for the weekend. The outside world was already in chaos. Listening to the radio, I made myself updated on what was going on. Little did I know that I was witnessing a piece of Philippine history in the making.

The events on that week that led to the ultimate departure and exile of the Marcoses from Malacanang Palace was being watched by millions of people around the world. The international press stood side by side with our local media people to bring the news out worldwide. The peaceful People Power Revolution is the gift of the Filipino people to the world. It was a living proof that an alternative way to protest in a peaceful manner can be achieved. It was a new kind of revolution. In the words of Aquilino Pimentel, "We shall be forever indebted to Cory for rallying the nation behind the campaign to topple dictatorial rule and restore democracy". Cory indeed was well deserved for being named Time Magazine's Woman of the Year and a nominee for Nobel Peace Prize as well as other awards and achievements. Thank you Madam President.

So, how about you my friends: Where were you when the People Power Revolution happened?

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Surprise: Texting & Driving Is A Dangerous Game

This is absolutely NOT A SURPRISE at all!!!
We don't need numerous expensive studies and surveys just to prove the hazards of cellphone use while driving vehicles. Its just common sense. Statistics showed that its about 23 percent more risky for drivers to crash their cars while using the phone as compared to those drivers focusing their attention on the road.

There is indeed a need to stop the use of cellphones while driving vehicles or even ban it completely. NOW, COME ON....lower the notch a little bit. I myself is not amenable to the total ban of cellphones on the road. What's the use of headsets for cellphones? Although making a call with the use of headsets does not provide 100% safety on the road but talking with your companions inside the car while you are driving is not that safe either. There are people, including myself, who considers cellphone as an important part of our daily lives so I might be one of these techie people who would rally against the total ban of cellphones on the road. Lets take advantage of the fast advancement of technology specially with mobile phones. There are phones right now that has speaker phones capability. Bluetooth wireless technology is quite common nowadays for wireless headphones and speakerphones. Its a worthy investment to consider buying these phone accessories for the sake of improving the safety of drivers and commuters on the road.

Below is the blog entry of a freelance technology journalist, Todd R. Weiss:
http://www.pcworld.com/article/169173/surprise_texting_while_driving_is_dangerous.html

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Party Days



For the past couple of weekends, actually during my days off, I practically was a homebody. I mentioned in my previous posts that I just stayed home, watched movies on DVD and on TV. Except for going out for the gym, I basically just stayed home. Eventually my boredom sets in and I wanted just to get out from the house no matter what I would do as long as I could get out. Over the weekend or should I say my own weekend from Sunday through Tuesday, I was lucky enough to receive invitations from my friends for parties. Yes, for three days people, three days of partying! I can't help but Tweet about it and put some updates on my Facebook, too. I was actually beginning to like it!


Last Sunday was already a scheduled affair. We got together to plan and prepare for our upcoming celebration of Maasin Fiesta here in Las Vegas. It's been 5 years now that people from my hometown of Maasin City celebrated our fiesta every 15th of August in honor of our Patron Saint, Our Lady of the Assumption. Part of the preparation we did was to practice our dance number as we intend to have a short program with production numbers during the Dinner & Socials event. So, this is what we will be doing for the next 4 Sundays.


A family friend invited us for a birthday party at their house last Monday. That was my second day of partying. There were lots of food, booze and karaoke singing, a basic Pinoy staple for home entertainment. In-house Pinoy parties will never be complete without karaoke sing-a-long system. Although I had my usual chatting sessions the previous evening, I was able to sleep during the daytime so I was in good condition to drink with my friends. I only took some wine but I can't remember how many rounds I took. The most important thing is I know my limitation with regards to drinking alcohol beverages because I still have to drive home by the end of the day. While at home from the party, I still got the precious time to chat with my partner in the Philippines.


Yesterday, a Tuesday was my third and final day that I was free from work. I was considering to do some shopping for personal items, chill out at Starbucks in the afternoon while catching up my reading of Bob Ong's books and finally may watch Harry Potter movie before retiring for the night. Luckily again (& for the 3rd time) I got a call from my friend inviting me in his house for dinner. They are just having a get together because their brother and his wife just arrived from California. All my "barkada" were there.


Basically, I was partying hard for the last 3 days and I was beginning to like it. Unfortunately for today, I have to get back to work. I started my day right by going to the gym with my gym buddy and completed my whole routine. I'm quite ready now for another day of life-saving work in the hospital pharmacy.