Archive for the ‘trivial’ Category

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A Time to Arm?

August 25, 2008

The prices of rice and oil are not the only “commodities” that have gone up around here. The prices of guns have also gone up!
Due to recent terrorist atrocities of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), many of the Christian population have decided to arm themselves. According to Mayor Cruz, armed Iliganons have said they do not want to continue “playing underdog“. Rebels will have a hard time doing an all out offensive in this city. It seems the citizens themselves will fight them, with or without military help.
Nevertheless, the rebels are pursuing non-confrontational strategies. Just recently, a grenade was seen in the city center. This incident, however, would not cow the Iliganons, this will just prove to them that they need to be more vigilant.
Iligan, however, is not the only city suffering from the law of supply and demand associated with guns. General Santos City seems to be having the same problem. Gun prices there have increased to more than 100%.
The Mindanao populace is tired of the same old government versus MILF game. For dozens of times in history, the military had the power to finally crush those rebels, but newer peace talks always prevented them from destroying them completely. Peace talks only gave the MILF time to regroup, and power to strike again at a later time. Should history repeat itself and the government fooled by another peace treaty, the government would find a different situation among the civilians. Many of them are already bearing arms. Many of them have also taken Vice Governor Piñol’s words to heart:
If the government cannot defend us, then WE WILL DEFEND OURSELVES.

Source:
1. Iligan folk seek St. Michael help, also bear arms
2. Grenade recovered from Iligan City’s business district
3. War ups gun prices, drains bullet stock in Mindanao
4. Gov’t-MILF clashes go on in Cotabato

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A Cross in the Road Part 1

May 27, 2008

Drive around the streets of Northern Mindanao* and you may find wooden crosses supported by rocks.
These are not shrines to obscure Catholic saints nor are they remnants of the Stations of the Cross displayed during the Holy Week. These are in fact analogous to gravestones, except that there are no bodies under them. They only mark the places where someone was killed directly or indirectly**.
These crosses, however, do not just have a memorial function. They also have a spiritual function. They are said to prevent the appearance of a San Telmo, a ghostly fire that is said to form from blood. Filipino folklore and even some** eyewitnesses, if they could be believed, say the San Telmo looks like a floating fireball. Although San Telmo can be literally translated to English as St. Elmo’s Fire, its use in Filipino vocabulary bears no resemblance to that weather phenomenon. Instead, it bears more resemblance or it could be the same thing as the Will O’ the Wisp.
These crosses are rarely removed from the road. Some of them may stand on the site of violence for days, of which the responsibility of removing them was left to nature. Others, which are placed in sites of heavy traffic are routinely removed. The general rule for removing these crosses seem to be, “The longer it is there, the better everything will be.”
After all who would want to do a legitimate but almost sacrilegious act of dismantling a cross? Who would want to remove its memorial function for onlookers and spiritual function against the San Telmo?

*I am not sure if this kind of cross can be seen in other parts of the Philippines. I never saw one when I was in Luzon or even Cebu.
**One credible witness said he saw a San Telmo while their bus got stranded near a mountain. He and the other passengers saw a flame descend from the mountain in record time. The flame went to the road, and they saw that it was in the shape of three men, two of whom were carrying the apparently injured third man.

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Spell it Right

August 17, 2007

I think I used to have impeccable (does this have a single c?) spelling skills. People used to ask me about the spellings of difficult words, and I would give them strings of letters that were as canon as your Webster’s Dictionary. But these “difficult” words were, however, difficult only at the age level we were in. I’m not so sure if I could spell words that people in my age level consider “difficult”.

I think I may have regressed to the level of some Americans. I do not generalize all Americans, but many of the Americans I’ve known have bad spelling skills. I think it’s because their spelling usually does not follow the sound of their language. Take “light” as an example. Had English readers not been preconditioned to read it as “lyt”, they would be pronouncing it as “lig-h-t” today. Then what about “plaque”, “char”, and “lead”? And who didn’t have a hard time reconciling “o-n-e” to sound like the number “1”. Plus there are a myriad of these words in the English language!

I blame the call centers for degrading my spelling skills. I think learning “proper” American accent caused me to confuse words and their spellings. Earlier at class, I was stumped by a question in the quiz. I knew the answer was endothelium, but I didn’t know whether it was spelled as “endothilium” or “endothelium”. I replaced one word with the other several times before settling to write the confusing letter as a cross between an i and an e. Besides, my chicken scratch could be interpreted in a million “correct” ways.

Then there was this exam later that day. I had to explain the functions of synarthrosis, amphiarthrosis, and diarthrosis. By the way, the types of joints classified according to the degree of movement that they allow. I knew that synarthrosis are immovable; amphiarthrosis are slightly movable, and diarthrosis are freely movable. I just wasn’t sure if movable was spelled as “moveable” or “movable”. I wrote the confusing word several times on inconspicuous* sides of the paper, and promptly erasing them by overwriting them with random text so as not to tarnish my spelling reputation. It wouldn’t be right for others to doubt my “skills”. Thankfully, I intuitively* settled on the latter spelling, the correct one.

Yet as I was writing this blog, I made a startling discovery. I saw a few stray red lines running beneath some words. So it could not have been the American accent that is degenerating my spelling skills, it could only have been the good old spell checker. I have been so dependent on the bugger that it completely crossed my mind that I’ve even forgotten of its ubiquitous* presence*. Perhaps degenerating spelling skills is a natural product of technology, but I refuse to give in to it. After all, manual written exams still require proper spelling.

*Words I may or may not have spelled correctly before Spell Checker warned me. 😛

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Peer Pressure

August 10, 2007

Messiah

In a seemingly coincidental or randomly initiated event, I thought about Handel’s Messiah. Now I absolutely love that piece. Not only does its melody stir the heart, its lyrics also touch the soul. This experience builds up as the music progresses, and climaxes during the chorus when the sound becomes simply heavenly. It is just the most worthy praise for the Messiah who has conquered, all glory to him.

Yet there is a ritual that is done every time the chorus is played. It started when King George II leapt to his feet when he heard the chorus. Since it was not proper for subjects to remain seated while the king was on his feet, everyone stood up. And since that day every time Messiah is played, the audience stands up during the chorus and gives a standing ovation at the close.

Nevertheless, this ritual is quite unknown in this country. A few people know about it, but they are mostly foreigners, formally-Music trained, or taught in foreigner-founded schools (typically American). My mother belongs to the third group. I learned the ritual from her, but the knowledge lay dormant until that moment when I heard the Messiah performed 2 years ago.

The first group of people who stood up were those who knew the ritual, and were itching to do it at first chorus sound. They probably thought, “I’m standing up as is proper. Everyone should stand when the Hallelujah Chorus is played.”

The second group of people who stood up were those who knew the ritual, forgot about it, and promptly remembered it. They probably thought, “I knew I should have stood up at first sound. I just forgot for a moment. Good thing I remembered it just in time.”

The third group of people who stood up didn’t know the ritual, but simply stood up because everyone was doing it. They probably thought, “Wow. This performance must be really good. Everyone else thinks so. I must also think that it is so.”

The fourth group of people who stood up didn’t know the ritual, but stood up because they could no longer see the performers. They probably thought, “Hey, what are those people doing? I better stand up; I can’t see from here.”

I belonged to the second group. I met some people from the third group later, or they could have belonged to the fourth group. I’m not sure. Like I said, the ritual is not very well known here.

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Conscious

August 7, 2007

I’ve always wondered why God did not see fit to give us complete control over our body functions. While we can think, move, and act voluntarily; we do not have a say on the regulation of thyroxine hormones, production of Adenosine Triphosphate, and management of beta-oxidation among other things.

In fact, even breathing is not fully voluntary! Try committing suicide by holding your breath, and if by sheer force of will you pass the point of unconsciousness, your medulla oblongata, denied the power to override your will, takes over your breathing control with a vengeance and you end up breathing normally.

And it is this act of breathing that made me spend minutes in a few days thinking about breathing, and I discovered something trivially profound (or profoundly trivial) from those sessions. It is impossible to be conscious of involuntary breathing. The moment you become aware of breathing is the moment breathing becomes voluntary.

Now this fact made me wonder what made the experts conclude that breathing can be an involuntary act considering that they could have never observed involuntary breathing in themselves. Now I don’t know how they actually did it. I’m thinking it has to do with sleep.

“Since we are unconscious while we sleep” the expert continued, “but we still breathe during that time, then we must be capable of involuntary breathing. “

Or it could have went like this, “What makes us breathe when we don’t think about breathing,” said one expert to another as the topic made them both gain control of their breathing.

“I don’t know,” said the other expert. “Perhaps some part of our brain does it for us whenever we’re too lazy to notice.”

“Ahh,” said the first expert as both he and the other expert tried desperately to discover the point where they could notice involuntary mechanisms to take control of their breathing.

Perhaps it took a few decades, several centuries, or many a millenia; but technology finally gave us the answer. Electric brain analysis tells us that the medulla oblongata and the pons, both component parts of the brain, regulate involuntary breathing.

Now this got me thinking. Perhaps one reason why God didn’t give us complete control over all our body functions, besides the fact that this would point us to seek a Sovereign God who controls everything, is so that we wouldn’t be boggled by too many decisions. Considering that we can be boggled by breathing, what more if we had control over other functions.

“I have to increase my pulse to 130 beats per minute; my brain is not getting enough ketone bodies.”

“I must not pee, better produce Anti-Diuretic Hormone, but I could suffer from urine back flow. I’d better reabsorb this excess water with <insert hormone name> hormone.”

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I Didn’t Need to Know That

July 31, 2007

I’ve noticed girls here are more open about personal matters as compared to the girls I knew in Manila.

Back in Manila, I’ve never overheard girls discussing menstruation, cup size, choice of sanitary napkins, among other things. Yet I seem to be picking up a lot of things lately. There was this incident that happened earlier this day during our Anatomy and Physiology class. We had to measure our chest sizes during inhalation and exhalation.

Ever the quipper, I could not help but comment to a girl who was starting to place the tape measure around her chest, “That would be a 36D.”

Everyone laughed, but it did not end there. Another girl, who btw is very pretty, said, “Wow. That would be so gifted.”

Then she started bemoaning the state of her cup size, even adding that she placed socks and hankies there for obvious reasons. Then another girl said, “Ha,” she continued, “What would your future husband look like when he sees the socks!”

“Hey, that was long ago,” she answered.

“What about wonder bras,” another girl butted in. By then, I was ready to bolt out, but curiosity made me stay.

“They’re made with foam,” the flatter girl said, “but they’re really expensive. My sister owns a pair.”

“I only buy bras with wires,” the more rotund girl said, “they hold them together. Otherwise, they would sag, and that’s painful.”

“Good for you,” the flatter girl answered. “At least those wires could hold them. What if there’s nothing to hold up?” This, btw, is not entirely true. IMO, she was getting too hard on herself, but it would be inappropriate to voice my thoughts out loud.

Then there’s their monthly period. There was no shortage of questions about this topic during one of the class discussions. They went:

“Ma’am why is dysmenorrhea painful?”

“Should we take pain relievers?”

“Why does the hot shower reduce pain?”

“Does beer really help?”

“What if she bleeds for a day, then she bleeds again the next week, then the next week again,” one girl finally asked.

“Would that be you,” the teacher said.

“Yes.”

“Then I think you better see your gynecologist.”

To which the entire female population in the class cried. “Ewww. Yuck.”

“Girls, the doctor respects it if you’re single,” our teacher said. “He won’t be poking around there. He uses the other entrance.”

And so it seems that girls here are still conservative, but they are still not shy about discussing such topics in front of guys. Although, I must admit that I’ve somehow enjoyed overhearing conversations, but the grisly details does really bother me when I think about them. How I miss the days when I didn’t hear about those topics, when they were shut off from the hearing of guys. If only there was a polite way of saying:

“GET THE HINT. I DON’T WANT TO HEAR ABOUT YOUR DYSMENORRHEA. PLEASE SPARE ME THE DETAILS AND LEAVE ME TO MY BUSINESS.”

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Burned

July 9, 2007

You know that you have too much info about anatomy and physiology when you burn your hand, and the first thing you think about as you say,”Ouch,” is:

“That will be a partial thickness burn,” then you continue, “I hope it’s only first degree.”

And true to your prediction, no blister forms. It was only a first degree burn, and it fades in 3 hours.