Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Gardening stuffs

I'm still not done cleaning our garden. I cut the grass using garden scissor which is time consuming and laborious. But the repetetive action, the smell of cut grass and Wes Montgomery's guitar in the background made the task relaxing. I guess it's the feeling of being intune with nature.

Now my feet and legs are itching. I guess that's why it's important to wear proper clothes when gardening like long pants. rubber boots, gloves etc. But in this summer heat... Anyway, the culprit is this weed. I don't know what this is called in English but locally we call this "lipang aso". A contact with the leaves produces itch and irritation comparable to and bite. Before I knew about this plant, I always thought that I was bitten by ants or other insects until my mother told me about lipang aso.She had this childhood story about naughty boys rubbing lipang aso leaves to girls' panties that are drying on clothesline.

The eggplants are already producing fruits and maybe in a week or two the rest of them will also be fruiting. I was hesitant about planting eggplants because I have rheunatism, knee and ankle gout to be specific. I have had excruciating flare ups and the culprit are foods with high uric acid contents. Eggplants, because it contains little seeds which is almost impossible to separate, is considered a high risk food. But many vegetable contain seed like string beans, gourds, okra, peas, etc. I mean, if I avoid all these vegetables I may end up undernourished or worse I could starve. Anyway, vegetables do not contain that much uric acid and according to what I have read the body can easily process and eject or flush out uric acid from vegetables and what is really bad is uric acid from animal innards.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Yellow Bitter Gourd and Bonsai etc...

I don't know if it can be called a garden, forest or jungle is more appropriate. My bonsai materials are being outrun by weeds and maybe after I'll work on them later.

Anyway, I did some cleaning in our garden, pulled out weeds and swept the yard, a task that took me the whole morning and still I'm not yet done. The sun is already at its peak and the heat is unbearable.

I'll take a rest and continue maybe at three or four in the afternoon.

Even my bittergourd is affected by the el nino phenomenon. The extreme heat of the sun caused this young fruit to turn ripe prematurely. It has not been even reached it's teen age years (imagining the'yre human beings). I was waiting to harvest it for cooking sauteed bittergourd or ginisa but it grew old too fast.

Bitter gourd or ampalaya is good for the health. The Department of Health did studies on it and officially listed it as a bonafide medicinal plant that is good for fighting high blood pressure, diabetes and other diseases.

I have noticed that healthy food usually taste awful and most of the times are bitter, take for example serpentina a weed that has been traditionally used by asians to cure number of diseases. The leaves of serpentina is so bitter that boiling two or three pieces of its small leaves in a liter of water makes the resulting tea almost undrinkable. I guess that's why they call it "king of bitter" in English.

If bitter food is good for us, why is it that evolution or the creator did not program our taste buds to like them. I mean, instead of having sweet tooth, why not have bitter tooth. Why do we not have this uncontrollable urge to eat bitter foods especially when we feel down or depressed instead of diving in and devouring fatty and salty junk foods and consuming tons of chocolates and gallons of sodas, beer, ice tea etc.

Maybe it's because the change in our diet in the last century kind of reprogram our sense of taste. This is evident by the proliferation of candies and sweets. Sugar was once a rarity because of the difficuly of processing it from plants. In fact the ancients used honey as a sweetener but becuase of the invention of manufacturing and processing plants sugar became common, so common that it became one of the most common food ingredients.

I saw a documentary about the aetas and they have this natural knowledge of medicianl plants in their environment. They have specific plants for specific ailments and diseases that are proven effective that even the US military trained their special forces with the aetas on jungle survival. These herbological knowledge of the aetas is inculcated in them through thousand of years of adaptation to their environment.

I guess we all have these natural and instinctual herbological knowledge. Sometimes it's obvious like the lagundi which is good for cough, crush the leaves and you'll notice it's minty smell and taste. Even animals know what plants are good for them and they eat them instinctively.

I guess we, the modern humans, lost this innate knowledge when our sense of taste evolve into the mst based,  sweet, fatty, greasy, salty  etc. orientation that it now has.

I got addicted to bonsai that to came to a point where almost all the space in the yard was occupied by bonsai materials. Bonsais are beautiful to look at, they are great works of art specially if you see them in exhibitions. But before they become works of art, they are nothing but stumps. It takes years to grow branches and more years to train and wire them. This is why many bonsai hobbyists keep and train many bonsais to keep impatience in check.

Anyway, I stopped acquiring materials because I'm starting to get overwhelmed.

Looking at my growing bonsai material collection, a friend asked me what they are good at. I was tempted to engage him with a lecture on the art and the philosophy of bonsai but his question hit me: ge's right. I am not rich and my salary as a teacher is barely enough for our budget. My friend suggested I plant vegetables instead. To tell the truth his suggestion was good and utilitarian. I looked around the yard and then moved my bonsai materials to the edges of the lot so as not to occupy too much space and I started to plant vegetables.

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Sunday, May 15, 2016

Banana Smoke

Buying bananas. We love bananas. Going bananas.

I read about this new diet called the banana diet. The dieter is supposed to eat two to three pieces of banana before eating a meal. The idea is to fill the stomach so that when you eat your meal you can only take a small portion. I have tried it but it didn't work. I guess if you want to lose you've got to discipline yourself to eat the right portion.

I have been sneezing these past few days and in my experience frequent and violent sneezing is a sure sign that my asthma is acting up. I guess it's because I had been burning dead leaves these past few days and the inhalation of the smoke trigerred my allergies. I keep telling myself to avoid burning leaves but it's irresistible especially after sweeping the yard. The pile of dead leaves beckons me to light them.

As usual, I took my ventulin via the nebulizer. I have been feeling better but because I would be playing bass guitar with the band in the evening, It was pre,-emptive.

On the stage.
We were on the stage playing and the heat of the spotlight was so intense that the lead guitarist and I were sweating profusely. The glare was also overpowering.

I was shocked when the smoke machine started pumping smoke in the stage. I moved away but the stage was so small and there's no place to go. Anyway, it's a good thing we only performed three songs, about ten minutes.

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Saturday, May 14, 2016

Haircut with Danny the Barber

I went to the barber to have my hair cut.   I saw in the mirror that white hair were starting to envelope my head. I am getting old.

Danny has been my barber since I was in high school. He was one of the barbers  at the demised Christian Barber Shop.

My childhood hair cut was done by Ka Bider the neighborhood barber who was so old that he couldn't see patches of unshaven hair on the nape. His shop was an open air affair, a balconahe of some sort. The place was a kitchen, a dining area, it was a common area for three or more families and the things that identifed it as a barbershop were the barber's chair, mirror's and of course, sexy pictures of women promoting alcoholic drinks.

In high school I started to look for a more respectable barbershop, not that Mang Bider is not respectable, but I'm already in my teens and crew cut was not my thing anymore. Christian Barbershop was a novelty for me. It was airconditioned, well lighted, and the clean painted walls featured pictures of male models sporting the latest "new wave" hairstyle of the era, think Tony Hadley, Simon Lebon, George Michael, Depeche Mode, etc. The place looked more like a beauty shop, which boys and men didn't go to to have their hair done back then, than a barbershop.

The shop didn't last long and when I asked Danny why, he told me it was due to mismanagement. I guess another factor that contributed to the demise of the barbershop was the rise of the franchise beauty shops in the malls that cater to both sexes.

Danny has moved to the AMA barbershop which also folded until finally he had his own shop.

Two decades of haircuts. I can only imagine how much hair Danny had snipped from my head.

This is called "Suki" a patronage relationship in the Philippines that is synonymous to friendship that sometimes borders on to family between a vendor and a seller, a relationship that is fast disappearing because of the impersonal and professional marketing technique used by malls and commercial establishments.

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Friday, May 13, 2016

Trying out Mobile Bloggin

How do I do this?

I finally got a smart phone. I was motivated or forced to get one since my neighboor, my brother, shared
with us his wi-fi connection which made access to the internet very cheap, theres a bit of a quid pro quo, negligible, really.  Also, I got tired of begging my daughter and my wife to lend me their smart phones.

I am trying out the blog app. I haven't posted on my blog for a long time because my PC ,an old pentium 4, is so slow and the modem stick slower that I stopped using them except to write reports for work and to compute grades for my pupils. It's unsettling to realize that this tiny phone possesses more computing power than my old HP PC.

It will take some time to get used to typing using my two thumbs. It's frustrating because I keep hitting the wrong letters and since the space bar is near the period, a dot keeps on appearing between words which I have to keep deleting. I'm sure with practice I'll be able to type words faster. The controls, sorry for using an old analog word, is easy to use and though I had to stop for a while to figure out how to use features like the Oppo swipe thing, I believe I don't need to read the manual.

The blogger app is good, easy to use. I just can't figure out how to edit the photo caption and how to move the photos.

I guess I should welcome myself to the mobile computing age.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

792 Km and counting...

This is my bike. I know it's kinda gay but I have been riding this horse for almost eight months now. I bought it using my performance based bonus last September 2015. 

It's Jietebike. I searched the internet  to find out something about the brand but nothing came up. I guess its a Chinese or Taiwanese brand or worse it could be a pirated Chinese brand which makes it a pirated, pirated version of a pirated brand.

It's cheap. The tires wear out like pencil erasers. I have already replaced the tires. The gear shifter is showing wear and tear and its shifting down gear on its own. I guess the shifter's  spring is loosing its tension. But it does its job well. I have grown attached to it. 

Since experiencing chronic knee pains, I have shifted to cycling for my cardio. it was not an easy change. I am overweight and because the weight of my body is now concentrated in one area, in the seat, my butt hurt like hell for the first few days. It was so painful that I had to replace the seat with a comfortable well padded saddle. 

In the long run, I realize why bikes have small seats: the larger the seat the larger the contact point between the buttocks and the leather, the more chaffing. After an hour of non-stop pedaling, my ass starts to feel hot. But since I don't do mountain or distance cycling, I just take a rest for a few minutes, walk a few meters bow legged to dissipate the heat. 

According to the app I'm using, I have already clocked 792 Km since I started recording my rides, this was in February. I guess, if I count my pre-app rides the total distance would be more than 1000 km. 

Cycling has its advantage over walking. It's faster. Hmmm...well in my bike's case, because of the small wheel diameter, it's a little faster than walking, depends on the pace. I could feel the wind. And because the knees movement is circular, there's practically no impact on my knees since my weight is distributed to the wheels.  The effort, on even surface, is forward motion; there's no jarring downward stress on my knees.

One thing about riding this bike is I get a lot of puzzled look from bikers and occasional pedestrians. I could only guess what they are thinking of, they're trying to figure out what my bike's brand is and why the hell am I riding a small feminine bike.

Maybe not...

Pondering Duterte

Behave Digong!
Scrolling down on the homepage of my Facebook account, I couldn’t help but notice how active and rabid Mayor Duterte’s supporters are. This despite the many times the good mayor has offended the sensibilities of many people. Nothing’s sacred to his foul mouth from rape victims to his Holiness the Bishop of Rome, Vicar of Jesus Christ, Successor of the Prince of Apostles, Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church, Primate of Italy, Archbishop and Metropolitan of the Roman Province, Sovereign of the state of Vatican,  Servant of the servants of God, His Holiness Pope Francis I.  

Duterte was so irritated by the traffic caused by the papal visit that in an interview he cursed the pope calling his mother a whore and that the country would be better off if he would leave the as soon as possible, this because Duterte got stuck in traffic.

Of course the Catholics condemned Duterte and asked for an apology which the mayor gave but it was not, as it appeared to me,  a heartfelt apology. I think to Duterte an apology is useless once the word was out of his mouth and that he is willing to take the consequences of his offending remarks. 

But what is surprising is that there are Catholics and clerics who are still supporting Duterte’s candidacy. Even among the Evangelicals there are many ministers who openly support the mayor’s bid for the presidency.

What is it about Duterte that made him appealing to many Filipinos?

Well, I’ll dip into my ass and think of something…

1. His anger.

Duterte is one angry guy and it could be felt every time he appears on TV. He is trying to make the Filipinos think and feel that his anger is powerful and that when it is turned to the criminals, it could wipe them out the face of country. Personally, I think his anger at criminals and drug lords do produce results. 

2. He just doesn’t care what others think of him.

Because of that alone, I feel a certain affinity with the guy. This attitude gives him that aura of impunity from the press and detractors which buckles most politicians in the country. He has this sense of freedom that enables him to speak whatever comes out of his mouth first, without thinking about it and without batting an eyelash, which most politicians would envy, or maybe not. Of course, as a president this behavior could lead the country into international diplomatic row and maybe even armed conflict. Just imagine him calling the Chinese president a son of a whore or Hillary Clinton, if elected in the US, one yummy piece of ass. But I think the thought of of the welfare of 100 million Filipinos on his back would tame him somehow, or he could hire a protocol officer who has the presidential license to knock his teeth out when necessity dictates.

3. He is not beholden to anyone.

I think this is one of his best selling points. Unlike most candidates whose supporter are big name businessmen and political king makers, Duterte, it appears, has no big boys behind him. Of course I sometimes wonder where the money for his ads comes from. But judging from the posts on Facebook and the anecdotal testimonies, it seems he has strong grass roots and moneyed supporters. 

4. His sense of humor

I like the guy. He speaks like a tambay. He behaves like a tambay. Anyone in the slum areas could look out of their window and hear Digong talking. He is not an urbane, ivy leaguer trying hard to be WASP person. He behaves like your and my neighbor, actually he behaves like me. Of course not literally, I'm just stressing the identification. He could be your beer drinking father or uncle who could make everybody laugh with offensive jokes and habitual cursing.

But behind this gutter talking, politically incorrect, ass kicking. thug façade is a keen lawyer’s mind and an outstanding administrator attested by multiple awards and recognitions here and abroad.  And he sleeps using mosquito nets.

Will I vote for Duterte? It’s tempting. Well,  I'll give you a wink instead.  I will tell you one thing, I think many Filipinos are tired of clean looking, smooth talking, over educated traditional politicians who mostly are trained thieves and outstanding plunderer. This is my fifty cents worth of advice: let us not be fooled by the trapos sweet, calm, generally empty but well thought of words and in the same way let us not be fooled by Duterte's impulsive, gutter talk. Think.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

It's all in the mind (in the ankle and in the knee)

I gotta do something to keep my mind off the pain!

I am in excruciating pain right now. This is the second time I experienced pain of this magnitude The first time  was overpowering that I had to go to the hospital for a check up.

After the x-rays which showed there was nothing really wrong with my bones except I had high uric acid concentration in my blood around 500, the normal level is around 200+. I am not that worried about my knee and ankle like something was broken, except for the pain. 
Focus on symbols like
this while sitting in lotus
position. After a few minutes or hours
or days of concentration, 
the numbness of the legs and
butt starts to set in and then comes 
the sensation of levitating, which
most practitioners say actually happens.
But who needs levitating unless
it can be used to move from point 
A to point B. 

There's nothing much a doctor can do when this "attack" except prescribe pain relievers. I mean, what to expect since this is not a life or death situation, although the pain make it seems like so? 

Take me to the ICU? Or operate on my ankle and knee? In the end it will boil down to waiting for the inflammation and the pain to subside, which is what I have been doing since last night. I have taken pain relievers but it barely gave me relief. So, I am using an old method which has been proven to be very effective in fighting pain: distractions.

Maybe it would be best to engage in some eastern-esoteric-transcendental-meditation thing to ease the pain. But people who engage in this stuffs are people who are gifted with the ability to focus their mental energy to a very fine point. They do this by concentrating on mantras or prayers repeated over and over again or by looking and focusing their minds  symbol or an object like the yantra. Mantra -yantra, makes sense to me, yummy.

Long Namgyälma Mantra.
whatever that means.
What am i saying? I don't know? I'm trying to distract myself.

Anyway, to give an idea of what i'm talking about. Let's time travel two decades back. I was in my early teens when I got hooked with playing the guitar. I practiced and practiced until the skin on my fingers developed blisters but that did not stop me from continuing on and learning the chords and the strumming of the song which I was studying then.

My engrossment (I don't know if that word is even proper English) with learning the guitar was bordering on the obsessive...come to think of was obsessive that I could not even feel the blisters on my fingers. 

Of course, once i learned how to play a few chords, the guitar was relegated to a hobby. I didn't improve to a point where i could play the guitar professionally. 

Friday, November 13, 2015

Should Christian students stop studying philosophy and literature? A meandering into the irrational fear of philosophy and literature

I have been thinking a lot...

Well, when its painful to stand up and all I do is sit in front of the computer, there's no choice but to think and to keep my mind off my excruciatingly painful ankle and knee, gout. 

I guess that's why many famous philosophers are either too rich to care about money and the daily grind, or are too poor , eccentric and unmarried to care about anything except thinking of and thinking up crazy stuffs.
Diogenes. He proved that anyone could be
poor, crazy, wise, an a-hole and be
intellectually  intimidating at the same time.
Legends has it that he scolded
Alexander the Great for disturbing his sun bathing.

Anyway, I have always been bothered by preachers on TV and behind the pulpit who say that philosophy is bad. Sermonizing about its evil and discouraging students who are into it as a part of college course. There are even preachers who discouraged reading literature! Whenever I hear this phobic vituperations against philosophy and literature hurled from the pulpit by a preacher, I guess being a teacher, I have this urge to stand up and throw a tome to the preacher's direction (maybe the head) and tell him,: " what do you want us do? Go back to the stone age!".

I am not a student of philosophy. My dose of philosophy was the prerequisite philo I and philo II in college which i heard was already taken off the first year and second year college curriculum for education students.

Nietzsche. Just a mere mention of this
guys name sends shivers down many
pastors asses. Why? Because he made
famous the slogan "God is dead." Which
many Christians believed was the
ultimate blasphemy, a judgment made without
 having read and analyzed some of his books.
Actually, he also killed God but this
death of god is not like stabbing a person
 with a knife and taking his life which
many preachers would like the 
congregation to believe is what this
guy meant. What he meant and what is
actually a reality now is that god has become
irrelevant. Doubtful?
May I ask how many Christians still 
believe that if you curse the name of God
you'll die in your place. 
All I could boast was that I read some stuff about it especially the Greeks because these pioneers were the most accessible read. The only modern philosopher that I could say I read and understood (maybe the more appropriate word is "felt") was Nietzsche and this was because he wrote in bursts of colorful language using lively meter. His writing could shock anyone specially to the first time readers. His attack on Christianity was distilled from his experience with the hypocrisy of Christianity's actions in the background of the political situations of his era that gave birth to his philosophical nihilism (again, he hates Christianity and the clergy, ministers and pastors but he had an affection for Jesus, at least not the same hatred for the clergy). Also, his father was a minister. guess he experienced Christian hypocrisy in the first person. he was not mad, he died mad because he got syphilis.

I tried reading Kant but it's like chewing concrete blocks.

But if there's one thing that endeared philosophy to me, it is inquiry. It's the activity. it's the way philosophy can empower an individual to pursue an idea or anything using pure reason.

Religion has always been hostile to inquiry even internal ones that would challenge the existing status quo, not to mention the tortures and persecutions. It's not because they were afraid of the changes that may come from new ideas or discoveries, it's because the religious feel, which was rightly so, that their authority and hold on the people would be compromised because their power and authority was primarily based on the perceived divinity of their books, hierarchy and lineage and secondly this hold was empowered by the ignorance and the lack of imagination  of the people. They tried to stop the enlightenment but failed. Today, the religious has to take a different tack to spread their religion. They cannot rely on their perceived "holiness" theological dogmas, moral superiority and metaphysics to lure people back to their fold, now they have to engage them in decent intellectual conversations, prove that their religion is relevant to today's settings. 

knowledge is power!

Many preachers love to quote St. Paul in Colossians ‘Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit’ (Col.2:8). What was Paul talking about here? just like today, in St. Paul's time, philosophy could mean a lot of thing. It could mean a specific philosophy like stoicism, epicureanism which Paul had some dealings with. Or it could also mean religions, which in this verse is the case."See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ."

knowledge power! Pinoy version.
This guy knows a lot of stuffs.
He had a lot of herbal formulas
for longevity and preventing diseases.
Ironically, he died of heart attack
atthe age of 56.
Philosophy even the ancient Greeks have very little room for spirits and traditions. This verse is a general warning for anyone not to be hooked on anything that challenges Christ. 

The New Testament was written in Greek, immersed in Greek culture and though many denied but a lot of terminologies and concepts used by Paul in his letters were from Greek philosophies. It's wishful thinking to say that the new testament was written devoid of any Greek philosophical influence.

Many religious will disagree but it is undeniable that most of the language used in the formulations of highly abstract Christian doctrines borrowed a lot from Greek philosophy. Ironic.

(My ankle and knee is killing me.) 

Want some joints? (no, its not about marijuana, it's about my knee...)

Growing a third leg.
I had been feeling a throbbing sensation in my right  knee for years back. It's not really pain but more of a pronounced cardiac pulse. It felt like my right knee was growing another heart. 

I did not think much about it then until my right knee gave out on me while I was walking along the school's corridor. The parents who were there were startled and ran to catch me as my knee buckled. Good thing I did not hit the floor face first, I was able to grab a concrete column and regained my balance. That was a first. I have never experienced something like that before even when I'm lifting or carrying heavy objects.

Having a weak knee connotes old age. Rheumatic knee is identified with septuagenarian grandparents who have worked their butts off working the rice field.  I told myself that I was too young to have rheumatism or gout or what other ailments the joints acquire as one gets older. I'm still in my early forties and most rheumatics I knew were men in their sixties up. I still got a decade or two, I told myself. But, come to think of it, i'm not that young anymore, too..
Ouch! Invoking all the
the supernatural and supra-
natural entities to help me
 ease the pain. Well, that's life,
it's quite selfish to expect
a miracle for my knee when there's
so much sufferings in the world.

The throbbing in my knee progressed to inflammations and pains that  I had started to walk with a pronounced limp. The pain started to affect my concentration and it deprived me of sleep. It came to a point where I had to take leave of absences, like today. Finally I decided to visit a doctor.

On my first visit, the doctor pinched my knee, asked me stand up, sit down, walk, ran in place etc. He told me I had bursitis.  I was x-rayed and my blood tested. I had high uric content in my blood. I was prescribed a lot of painkillers and tablets for the uric acid and advised to change my lifestyle: exercise, diet and drink lots of water. 

Second and third visit, I was given an anti gout medicine.

But how can I exercise when I couldn't even stand straight? 

Anyway, I was reading articles about uric acid and when I came to the list of food with high uric contents, I told myself: I'm gonna die of hunger.

But the thing about it is when the pain starts to act up, the pain that emanates from the ankle then climbs to the knee and ends in my butt becomes unbearable to a point where I feel myself peeing in my pants, dying of hunger becomes attractive.