Volks Chronicles: Failure to Launch

So last Saturday, Remi, Mabie, and I were dipped in shit and rolled in breadcrumbs.

The plan was simple. We were to pick up the Volkswagen from Kuya Nards’ shop and drive it back to good old Quezon City. It’s simple enough, but if you’ve been following this series of posts, then you know that going from Point A to Point B is never simple. The simple enough plan turned into an unfortunate series of events that turned our Saturday into something Lemony Snicket may come up with.

Faint of heart, turn away now.

11:00 AM. Remi and I arrive at Kuya Nards’ shop and wait for Mabie.
11:30 AM. Mabie arrives, and we were off to the nearest gas station for gas.
11.50 AM. As we were pulling out of the gas station, a cab stops in front of us and thus I step on the clutch and brake. As the cab drove off, I release the clutch too soon and we stall. The car refuses to start.
12.00 PM. Helpful kuyas pushed us back into the gas station. I texted Kuya Nards and he told me to wait for the electrician.
12.10 PM. The electrician arrives and adjusted the contacts on the battery. The car started up fine.
12.30 PM. We were driving northbound along Buendia. I drove like an old lady. I popped the clutch a LOT. Seriously, if the car could scream for a better driver, it would have. (In my defense, I was driving as carefully as I could. Among the three of us, I’m the most inexperienced behind the wheel plus two of the most important people in the world for me were in the car.)
12.45 PM. Do you know the Buendia-SLEX intersection? I stalled there more times than I can count. I was getting frustrated and thus I asked Mabie to switch with me. (Quoth Mabie, “At this rate, we’ll get there by five.” Famous last words.)
12.50 PM. We were stalled in the middle of the intersection. The car was having trouble starting by this time. A traffic enforcer strolled over to us to ask what the problem was. The car started. Then I noticed the handbrake. It was up. (This Tanga Moment was brought to you by none other than Rio.)
1.15 PM. We were golden again. Mabie was behind the wheel, we were starting to hate the numerous intersections of Gil Puyat Avenue, and it seemed like it was getting harder and harder to revive the car after dying on us. I asked Mabie to pull over just after the gate of Dasmarinas Village and I tried to contact Kuya Nards again. All of his mechanics are out, and we decided to wing it anyway.
1.35 PM. We were cruising on EDSA. No hiccups, no stalls. Just cruising on EDSA.
2.00 PM. We took a right into White Plains and we were still moving when the car died. I couldn’t think of a reason why a car would do this save for spite.
2.20 PM. Stalled just before the stoplight at White Plains. Trying to start the car. An enforcer walks toward us and asks us what the problem was. The good enforcers volunteer to push the car to the safety of the curb.
3.00 PM. The mechanics aren’t back yet and the car was simply refusing to start. We kept trying anyway. We tried many, many times until it finally did fire up. I took the driver’s seat (Me: Are you sure guys? Both answer in the affirmative.) I successfully take the U-turn, but again popped the clutch when the light changed to green.
3.30 PM. The enforcers again push the car to the safety of a curb, this time on the shoulder right near the Latter Day Saints’ church. Still no mechanics. The car was refusing to start. Kuya Nards suggested that I hit the battery contacts myself. I do as instructed, but it was no dice. (Note: It started to drizzle and we all flashbacked to September 7, 2009, also known as Muntik Na Tayong Mamatay Day. We laughed at the absurdity of it all. Did the universe feel that our friendship needed to be reaffirmed?)
4.00 PM. MMDA tow truck pulls up right beside us.
5.00 PM. We were back at Buendia, having talked the tow people to get us back. (See Mabie’s Famous Last Words. We got there by 5 all right. We just didn’t get to the right Point B.)
5.30 PM. We were on the LRT, heading for Roosevelt. At this point, I had exactly 30 pesos in my pocket, having paid the tow people all the money I had left.
6.00 PM. Roosevelt station, LRT. We get off the train and take a cab back to the condo. Traffic was heavy, but workable.
6.30 PM. I noticed that the cab driver was popping the clutch. It was a No-Judgment Day, and seriously, I have fallen off the driving high horse and had been trampled underfoot by that time so I didn’t say anything. There were no problems, except that the cab driver was having trouble with dealing with Heavy Traffic + Incline + Gitgitan. There was a loud BAG! and a sudden jerk. Remi, who was riding shotgun, turned and said what everybody was thinking, “Did we just hit somebody?” Yes, yes in fact we did and the other guy’s getting out of his car right now.
6.35 PM. The cab driver was young, and he seemed like a sensible person. But at that moment, he panicked. We hastily paid him the fare and got out. The cabbie drove off and I caught sight of his bumper. It had a nasty gash.

It was 7 o’clock when we finally got to the condo and collapsed on the couch. At 1 AM, the day was officially over and we decided it was safe to leave the house. Remi and I brought Mabie home. On the drive back, a Volkswagen Beetle overtook us on EDSA. I laughed. Yes, Universe, I got the point. The Universe drove the point home with a semi-totalled Fortuner. Glass was strewn all over the street, and the Fortuner’s passenger side was crumpled in where it had hit a 16-wheeler.

At the end of the LONG day, it felt like I was dropkicked in the face. I was tired, broke, and my back was killing me, but I felt lucky. So incredibly lucky. Why? We didn’t stall on EDSA, we didn’t get hit by any ten ton trucks or buses, we received help, and while technically we did get in a car accident, no one was hurt. We got home in one piece, we didn’t have a meltdown, and we celebrated our small victories with burgers, because fuck you bad day. There’s nothing like transfat to improve one’s mood.

Also, at the end of the long day, I had two of my most favorite people beside me. They didn’t suggest that I send my car to the scrap heap and they rode in a vehicle while it was being towed for me. For that, I consider myself to be extremely lucky.

Additional Notes:
Bad Vibes Check – This is also known as a BV Check. This is similar to a stress check and should be done to avoid any sudden FOs (Friendship Overs). When the Universe is conspiring to make your life a living hell, it is important to periodically check on your Long-Day-Bus seatmates. Are you okay? Do you want coffee? Are we still friends? As soon as we get out of this curb, I’ll buy you anything you want.

Famous Last Words – In hindsight and in case magdilang anghel, it is important to specifically indicate both time and supposed destination. (From Mabie: yes. be specific. cos when i said i wanted to brush up on my parking, i did not mean for us to sit parked on various curbs and intersections for hours on end.)

No-Judgment Day – When among friends, it’s important to set days when no judging is to be done. This is to ensure that both sanities and friendships are left intact.

In my family, there was an instance when a cousin was renamed because he was sickly as a child. Maybe I need to rename the car (or have it exorcised for good measure).

Lego Brickmaster: Star Wars – Worth the Retail Therapy

So last Tuesday, after having Mo towed from Las Pinas to Buendia (that’s a different post), Remi and I went gift shopping. To reward myself for finally getting Mo moved, I bought the Lego Brickmaster: Star Wars from DK Publishing (I know it doesn’t make fiscal sense to buy something to reward myself for something that will cost me more money, but I’m borrowing Mabie’s Logic of Retail Therapy, so it makes perfect sense.).

Anyway, back to the Brickmaster. To put this product into perspective, it combines two loves quite nicely. It’s a book which contains Legos. You can put together 8 models (2 models at a time) from the 240 bricks it has and it comes with two minifigures: a Clone Trooper and a Battle Droid.

The box says it’s for ages 7 and up, but the builds are quite intricate and quite satisfying for a nerd like me.

It’s a really good buy for 969 pesos at National Bookstore and if you’re somewhat of a neat freak, this is for you. The book comes with a pouch where you can store the Legos when not in use, and the geekgasmic instruction booklet is printed in thick, glossy paper with random Star Wars facts and full color illustrations.

The Volkswagen Club of the Philippines Car Show 2012

I’ve mentioned before how the Philippines has very healthy VW community (vwcp.org), and every year the community gets together to celebrate a perfectly good geekdom in classic car ownership. Remi and I went to this year’s annual VWCP Car Show to ogle at the various forms of VW nerditude and the eventual products of said geekdoms.

We were not disappointed. As we looked for a parking slot, we assured Subbie, Remi’s Toyota Vios that all the other cars she’ll see on the show are technically subcompact cousins from Germany). We parked, got out of the car, and suddenly, I was in the mothership. Every other car on that parking lot was a Volkswagen.
We took a walk around the lot and I classified each section in my head: the Daily Cars, the Kafer Cup Vroom Vrooms, the Hippie Buses, the Karmann Ghias, the Herbies, and the Ooooh Shiny Ones. The Daily Cars are my favorite of the bunch, simply because these cars are the ones you will see every day and frankly, isn’t it a wonder how those cars can still run perfectly well. They run better than most 40 year olds I know. 
The Volkswagen Club of the Philippines Car Show 2012
Bili na kayo, Volks kayo dyan~! 


The Volkswagen Club of the Philippines Car Show 2012

The Volkswagen Club of the Philippines Car Show 2012
It looks like Mo, but not quite the same shade.

The Volkswagen Club of the Philippines Car Show 2012

The Volkswagen Club of the Philippines Car Show 2012

The Volkswagen Club of the Philippines Car Show 2012
I’m sure he’s not hiding Lindsay Lohan in there.

The Volkswagen Club of the Philippines Car Show 2012

The Volkswagen Club of the Philippines Car Show 2012

The Volkswagen Club of the Philippines Car Show 2012

The Volkswagen Club of the Philippines Car Show 2012
It’s not a car… It’s a Karmann Ghia.
The Volkswagen Club of the Philippines Car Show 2012
Vroom! Vrooooom!

The Volkswagen Club of the Philippines Car Show 2012
It’s so pretty, and shiny, and pretty.
The Volkswagen Club of the Philippines Car Show 2012
The Hippie Bus
The Volkswagen Club of the Philippines Car Show 2012
Dune Buggy

The Volkswagen Club of the Philippines Car Show 2012

The Volkswagen Club of the Philippines Car Show 2012
Plus, I’m older than you are.
The Volkswagen Club of the Philippines Car Show 2012
The Volkswagen Club of the Philippines Car Show 2012
This is how you cultivate the ‘Bug Bite’ in little children. Note to self: I must get one.
The Volkswagen Club of the Philippines Car Show 2012
Notice anything? It’s an automatic.
The Volkswagen Club of the Philippines Car Show 2012
Car Show
The Volkswagen Club of the Philippines Car Show 2012
Universe, are you trying to tell me something?
The Volkswagen Club of the Philippines Car Show 2012
Pretty in Pink
The Volkswagen Club of the Philippines Car Show 2012
This has given me quite the idea.
I missed seeing Bacchus (Kuya Clark’s orange bug, my inspiration for what Mo could look like in the future) and Hershey, their Volksrod. Still, it was a fun Sunday afternoon. 

Volks Chronicles: Headaches and Money Vortexes

I haven’t written any updates regarding Mo the past couple of weeks because I was tired, broke, and frustrated. The overhaul was done and over with, the brakes are fine, and I even bought a new starter. Still no go for my poor 1972 Volkswagen Beetle.
Here’s the Cliff’s Notes version:
1.       After getting the brakes brake bonded, I also had to get a starter bushing kit. I was told that the starter was shot, and they were trying to repair it.
2.       I also had to get new brake tubes and brake rubber thingies (I’ve forgotten what they’re called!). The starter still wouldn’t work, so I had to get a new solenoid to see if that would do the trick.

Secondhand Solenoid
Brake Rubber Thingies
3.       The starter problems persisted: The starter would get the engine going, but it also kept going. This would be a problem since if it didn’t stop running when the engine had already started, the starter would experience a catastrophic meltdown (which was what I thought I’d experience too).
4.       I was advised to get a new starter, the high torque kind. It looked awesome out of the box. Kuya Nardo Manzano, the parts guy, expressed his doubts about Kuya Mancio’s skills and cautioned that he might ruin the new starter too.

High torque starter, yeah!
It’s so purdy~!
5.       I told Kuya Mancio to text me once he had the new starter in and once Mo’s going. He didn’t.
6.       Of course, we went to his shop and found that he had in fact tried the new starter. It started once. The second and third tries, however, were awash with epic fail.
7.       Once we got to Buendia, where Kuya Nard’s shop is (Kuya Mancio’s shop is in Las Pinas!), the starter was tested and IT WORKED FINE. Kuya Nards and his mechanics all shook their heads and told me, “Walang alam mekaniko mo.” (Your mechanic doesn’t know anything.) I considered whether the remark was some sort of mechanic trash talk or a blunt but spot on assessment of just how much shit I was in. I decided it was both.
8.       After discussing the options with Remi (Do I want to keep hitting my head with this money-sucking hammer? Or do I pull the car out of there ASAP to have it serviced by people who know what they’re doing?), we opted for the second option. We’ll pull out, tow, and have Mo fixed next week.
9.       We’ll do this next week because my goal date (the VWCP Annual Car Show) is this weekend. On Sunday. At the QC City Hall.
Kuya Clark of BatVolks texted me the other day to remind me about the car show. “Swabe na ba bug mo?” he asked. I told him no.
Things don’t always go as planned. Then again, based from experience, the best things in my life at the moment are the things I didn’t plan nor expect.

MSI FX420X-i5545+ Review: Bang for the Buck

I am hardly what tech sites would call a “power user.” I don’t actually render videos or edit images, but I do have a habit of multitasking (read: I overwork computers to the bone) and working long hours. After my Acer AO751h (Acer Vergel) up and died on me and my desktop Old Faithful before that, I’ve finally decided to get a new notebook. I needed a desktop replacement that could still pass being called a mobile computer.  A preliminary online search boiled down to two contenders: the MSI CX480X and the Samsung NP300E4C-A01.

Once we stepped in SM North’s Cyberzone (which is by the way, one of my motherships), the game changed pretty quickly. We found two other contenders, the MSI FX420X and the Lenovo G480. The FX420X won both Remi and I over. Why?


The Specs Sheet
For its price, the FX420X-i5545+ specs were eye-catching. It has a second generation Intel Core i5 (2450 which packs a 2.5gHz punch with 3.1 Turboboost), 4gb of DDR3 RAM (16gb max), 500gb HDD, ATi Radeon HD6470M (with 1GB of dedicated video memory), THX sound, 2 USB 2.0 and 2 more USB 3.0 slots.
The other MSI available, the CX480X had pretty much the same specs at the FX420X except for the GeForce video card on the former. It was cheaper by about a thousand pesos, but it was only available in white. The FX420X, on the other hand, had an “anti-fingerprint” textured pattern on the palm rest and lid. According to the manual, it’s also there to prevent scratches and general wear. Personally, I like the finish. It’s not brushed aluminum, but it does not look cheap and plasticky.
Officially, I’ve only had the notebook for a day and so far I’m impressed. It’s actually advertised as a gaming platform (I do plan to try out Skyrim on this rig) but I think it’ll do for an all-around notebook. I’ve yet to put it through the paces so I’ll maybe do another review once I’ve made it make it jump through flaming hoops.
At the moment, I’m feeling very good about this purchase and am actually tempted to call this rig “Bogart” or “Bruno.” Among the options I had, it offered the biggest bang for the buck. In case you’re wondering why I didn’t get the Lenovo, even though it had a spanking new third gen i3, it was because it’s still i3. No Turboboost. Plus, as a personal rule of thumb, chipmakers win over computer makers. 

How to Know If You’re in a Pinoy Horror Movie – A Flowchart

There are times when you might feel like you’re in a horror movie, especially that time when you were walking along Balete Drive and you see a lady in white just standing out on the street presumably waiting for a cab. Or that time when you had to wear your undies inside out because you kept passing by the same patch of creepy road. Don’t you sometimes wish there was a surefire way to know if you’re in a Pinoy horror movie?

First, take a good look around you.

Click here to enlarge. (Flowchart by spinjunct, salamat ulit!)

Run fast and run hard. If you’re in the Manilyn Reynes scenario, it’s best if you stick with her. She almost always survives unless you’re up against the LRT monster, at which case you’re dinner. If you’re John Lapuz in your movie, your chances of survival diminish by about 80% – as you may get eaten by a fucking Christmas tree or get thrown around the room by a poltergeist. If you’re Joey Marquez, your chances of survival are just as slim so please stay away from pretty ladies who will lead you to a forest then eat you and from witches who will cast a spell on you and cause boils to grow on your back. If your grandmother is Gloria Romero, please stay away from her house, her rings, and her tarot cards. Better yet, please stay away from all of her possessions. If you come across Lilia Cuntapay, don’t kill her immediately. She may or may not be the red herring in this movie. If Aiko’s there, Lilia is innocent, though if Alma’s there, kill her with fire!

There you go. These Pinoy horror movie staples are the best indicators of whether you’re in a Shake, Rattle & Roll or some other horror movie. Please be advised accordingly and good luck!

Volks Chronicles: FrankenBeetle

Mo Progress Report:

  1. Kuya Mancio broke two of my new brake linings while attempting to rivet them to the brake shoes.
  2. Got 1L of brake fluid (as I understand it, the lines need to be bled first then topped up. I could be wrong of course).
  3. Got 5 feet of battery cable, because apparently, I own a 1972 Volkswagen FrankenBeetle. According to Kuya Mancio, the previous lines installed were cables that are used for houses.
  4. Since Kuya Mancio broke two, I had to take the remaining linings and brake shoes to have them brake bonded. I’ve left them to the hands of the Mafat shop which is coincidentally beside Funeraria Filipinas, where Mo used to be parked.
  5. I wasn’t to take pictures of Mo this time because they were spray painting another car.

At any rate, I’m clinging to the hope that Mo would be up and running by November. Frankly, the overhaul and repairs have gone over budget and over and beyond the target date but I’m still hoping to be able to drive the car before the Mayan calendar ends.

Volks Chronicles: Woes and Holes

Today I bought a fuel float (the thing that sits in the gas tank, it floats over the oil and pulls a cable that connects to the fuel indicator). I talked over the few remaining issues to be tackled with the mechanic, Kuya Mancio. After the starter and the fuel tank problem, the problem now lies in the fuel injector. It can be repaired, and I’m leaving it up to Kuya and Batman to fix it. Apart from that, the engine works and after the the fuel injector is fixed, the brakes will be taken care of. It sounds tedious, I know, because IT IS tedious. We’re troubleshooting as we go, and I’d rather we shoot down the trouble before Mo hits the road.

While I checked the car, I turned my attention to rot. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before, but there’s a hole in the driver’s side. Earlier, I found that there’s a bigger hole right under the front hood — where the spare wheel should be. The rubber seals around the engine compartment has also rotted through so I’d need to have that taken care of, most probably next year.

Engine compartment seals

I meant to take more pictures but I’ll get back to you on that next week. In the meantime, I’m checking my options on how to fund further repairs. Stay tuned.

Volkswagen Beetle — Wheeler Dealers

Over the past few weeks, I bought brake linings, brake shoes, an advancer distributor, adjusting screws for the rocker arms, a fan belt, a few liters of gasoline, a distributor rotor, a starter bushing kit, and 9 feet of 1/4 copper tube. Needless to say, I’m broke. Therefore, I needed inspiration. These past few weeks, I’ve been checking out different shows that feature Volkswagen Beetle restorations.

I found Beetle Crisis, the Discovery Turbo five-part show about two enthusiasts restoring a 1971 VW Beetle for a car show. Another show I caught was Wheeler Dealers, a British series that basically saves iconic cars from the crusher. In one episode, they resurrected a 1960 bug. If you’re restoring your own bug and you find yourself a little short on hope, like I am, check out the videos below.

Part 1

Part 2

Creature Feature: Erik Matti’s TIKTIK

A few posts back, I mentioned Erik Matti’s upcoming movie TIKTIK: The Aswang Chronicles which caught my eye because of two things: a. Erik Matti and b. green screen. Erik Matti has had some hits and misses, but he co-wrote Magic Temple (which my 14 year old self will always love despite the subsequent sequel with Anne Curtis) so he has a “rep” for me. The second part is interesting simply because shooting a film purely on green screen has never been done before in the Philippines (yes, other countries have been doing this for ages).
What is TIKTIK: The Aswang Chronicles about anyway? Well, according to the blurbs, the trouble starts when the douchebaggy Makoy (Dingdong Dantes) manages to piss off an entire village of aswang. That’s never really a good idea if you like your innards where they are. In Makoy’s case, this is a severely bad idea since his girlfriend Sonia (Lovi Poe) is very pregnant. As mentioned in the Aswang (1992) article, aswang will gladly consume a full grown person but what makes their tongues itch, so to speak, are babies.
Which brings us to this tangent: Joey Marquez and Janice de Belen played husband and wife in the Aswang movie. Incidentally, Joey died within the first 10 minutes of the flick, while Janice hung around for some time while Alma Moreno (as the aswang) smacked her lips at Janice’s baby bump. Both appear in TIKTIK: The Aswang Chronicles too, as Mang Nestor and Aling Fely, respectively. They didn’t fare very well against one aswang – how will they do against an entire village of aswang? (What do you call a group of aswang anyway? A herd? A passel? A school?)
The film also stars Ramon Bautista, Rina Reyes (who I will always remember for playing a anthropomorphic cat in Pulis Patola) and LJ Moreno, among others. Judging from the trailer, Roi Vinzon plays the aswang’s patriarch of sorts. Again, why would you want to piss off a village of aswang? And who would be stupid enough to piss off Roi Vinzon?
Anyway, TIKTIK: The Aswang Chronicles opens on October 17, 2012. I’d go see it to see who ends up as dinner – or if they do end up as dinner. (I’m rooting for Team Aswang on this one.) If the trailer is any indication, we’ll be seeing comedy, horror, and gore (don’t expect too much, this is a PG-13 movie) wrapped in a CGI burrito. See for yourself: