Reanimating the Dead

Dr. Frankenstein used some highly questionable science and a bolt of lightning to reanimate what ultimately was a creature made out of dead body bits. This month was pretty much the same for me, except with less science and more dead bits.

This site, for one thing. My bolt of lightning wasn’t quite as flashy (heh), it came in the form of an email from my domain registrar reminding me of impending expiration. I thought it out, did I want to renew? I realized that my posts for 2015 tallied to a grand total of zero.

Several questions came to the fore: Why am I still on Blogger again? Why haven’t I ported this to WP?

Website tech stuff is like riding a bike… over molten lava. Pushed domain to my main registrar (which is simple, but still took me a week to find what I’ve been doing wrong), changed nameservers, and added domain on cPanel. I could write a how-to, but then, there already are many good ones out there.

The thing I did discover is that cPanel doesn’t have Fantastico anymore. It has been replaced with an awesomely named Installatron, which does as it says in the tin: it installs stuff.

So here we are, Reklamadora.com in its new WP CMS, saved from undeath. Or so I think.

Another project that I have been putting off is Car-car, my 1972 Volkswagen Beetle.

1972 Volkswagen Beetle
Yes, this.

Yes, that.

I’ve had it repainted and it is now a little brighter orange (that in itself is another post for another non-highblood day). A new battery, some gas, new valve covers and gaskets, and some brake fluid later, it’s alive. Again.

We convoyed it and I kept staring at it through the side mirrors, thinking, “God, it’s still alive.”

Forty-three years old, victimized by my own bad decisions, and it’s still alive.

That's a good boy.
That’s a good boy.

To make up for a couple of years of neglect, I had a new wiring harness put in, along with a old/new fuse box, an ignition coil, an air filter, relays, switches, and fuses, among other things.

Cue the good doctor:

First Impressions: Xiaomi Mi3

So, I got the Xiaomi Mi3 yesterday and now that I’ve had some time to play around with it, it’s time for some first impressions.

First off, the packaging. The Mi3 came in a plastic sealed box, which frankly was a surprise – I’m used to getting my electronic devices opened by the store staff. Out of the thin plastic, the box is crisp and has sharp edges. It has a nice feel to it and the fit is so snug I had to admire the workmanship (OF A CARDBOARD BOX).

Admittedly, I was surprised with the Mi3’s size. My previous phone was a relatively small Galaxy Y and well, I wasn’t sure what to expect, really. Anyway, it’s sleek and light (again, a surprise for something big) and its rounded off edges make the Mi3 nice to hold.

What’s in the box? The Mi3, a data cable, the super small charger, and the Quick Start guide… plus a small thingamajig. After consulting the guide, I found that it’s used to push the SIM tray out. So yes, the first order of business was to stab my phone.

I fired it up and was promptly blown away by the screen. Just… wow. The MIUI is so smooth –did I mention the Philippine version shipped with Android 4.4.2 KitKat out of the box?

I played around with the themes a little bit, and I have to say that checking out the available themes can be an exercise in option paralysis. Most of them mix Chinese characters with English letters, so the fickle can get those out of the way at least. I like the one specially made for the Philippines, especially the clock with a jeepney logo.

The camera is awesome, with HDR, macro, ISO, and exposure options. It can burst up to a 100 shots, but we’ll get into that once I write a more in depth review.

Test shot

The only problems I’ve encountered so far is with the Messaging app which has crashed a lot. I can’t fault the phone for that though, as it seems that it was the theme launcher that was causing the problem.

Anyway, so far, the Mi3 is awesome. Color me, a reklamadora, impressed.

How I got the Xiaomi Mi 3

7AM. I woke up, which is impressive because I typically work at night and am therefore not awake before noon.

8AM. I was online, checking the Mi Philippines Facebook page and reading the comments. Sizing up the competition, so to speak.

10AM. I’m excited. I’m checking out the Mi website, Lazada, and Facebook for updates. There were reports of an exploit, allowing people to purchase the Mi 3 before the 12noon go time. I decide to stay put – knowing that they would be within their rights to cancel my order if I didn’t follow the rules.

11AM. I’m starting to get hungry – and worse still, my hands are sweating. I start counting down the minutes before 12noon.

12noon. I refresh the Mi Philippines website as instructed, click through to Lazada, and go on to purchase the phone. From my order sheet, I had a phone secured by 12:01.

1:35PM. I’m still waiting for a confirmation email.

1:45-ish. The Xiaomi Mi 3 is sold out. (I kept checking to see just how long it would take.)

3:00PM. I still haven’t received an email or text confirmation from Lazada so I called up their customer service hotline to ask whether or not my order came through. I was told that yes, it did and that Lazada Express was the courier used. I was also told to expect it around Saturday. They were extremely accommodating.

4:30PM. I received a call from (what I’m assuming as) Lazada’s fulfillment center. I was asked if I could receive the delivery today. I asked, “Today?” “Yes ma’am,” said the lady on the line. “Today.” I wondered whether it was a mistake, but she had said that a. it was for the Xiaomi Mi 3 I purchased this very afternoon.

6:30ish. I received the delivery, paid the courier, and was holding the phone – barely 7 hours after I ordered it online. I knew Lazada was probably eager to impress their new partner, but I didn’t expect it to be THAT fast.

I’ve been playing around with it since, and I am very impressed with the Mi 3. I’ll come up with a full review one of these days – in the meantime though, I’ll be somewhere else, playing with the new phone.

Volkswagen Restoration: Week 2 and 4

Okay, so Car-car, my 1972 Volkswagen Beetle has been at ROS Autoworks for a month (tomorrow), and Remi and I have visited twice since my first post about it. The work is going quite nicely and now that they’ve scraped the paint down to metal, we could clearly see just how much damage and rust is under there.

Wait, before I get ahead of myself, I’ve had a number of people ask me just what I’m having done on the car and how much it’s going to cost me. First off, here’s the job order:

  • Remove seats, glass, lights, carpet, ceiling, gas tank, fenders
  • Underpaint, interior paint, body paint (Anzahl with top coat)
  • Strip to metal
  • Bodywork

As for the quote, let’s just say it’s a little over the price I’d have to pay for a year of parking. I think I got a good deal, considering that I’d gotten the 6-month payment term and considering that somebody once gave me a quote for 70,000 pesos. In case you’re planning to have your bug restored, I suggest you ask for quotes from a lot of shops.

Dean Montalbo, a friend from the Las Pinas Volkswagen Club, swears by a Volkswagen specialist in Paranaque, Kuya Nanding. I wasn’t able to visit their shop, but if you’re located near the Valley 1 area, you may want to give them a visit. Another friend, Bong Reyes from Artiken Marikina, offers body work and repainting services as well, so you will want to visit him if you’re in the Cainta-Marikina-Quezon City area. He wasn’t available last June, so I wasn’t able to get a quote from him either. Everybody has his or her own suki so be sure to ask around. I didn’t have much time to do canvassing, but I had a fair idea of how much it would cost since I’ve been asking around for a few months – libre naman magtanong, libre din mangarap.

Since no two project cars are the same – I mean, they can be from the same year, but the damage and rust wouldn’t be the same on each – my quote may vastly differ from yours. I have a banged up headlight and hood from the accident, and I have a mysterious leak where water seeps in if I park the car outdoors. So yeah, ask around.

Anyway, progress. Some bodywork has been done on Car-car. It’s been stripped to metal and we could plainly see previous work done on the body, as well as additional holes that we hadn’t noticed before. I saw that some of the existing metal patches on the body were pretty banged up (spot-welded), though hopefully, they can correct that.

Week 2 pictures:

Also, if you saw two girls carrying a pair of bumpers at Kamias, Cubao about two weeks back, that was Remi and me. I had bought a set from BatVolks member James. They were dirt cheap and I had them sent over via bus. A middle-aged dispatcher helped us fit it inside the backseat of Remi’s Vios.

Also, if you’ve seen a Vios flashing its lights or beeping, that might be us as well. We do that every time we pass somebody driving a Beetle and we get disappointed when they don’t greet back. “Dahil ba naka-Toyota tayo?”

Week 4

* If you want to know about how I’d rate ROS Autoworks after pulling out Car-car from the shop, please contact me here.

Before Midnight (Not a Review)

I come from a generation that had been fed fairy tales. We all thought that true love was as easy as making a deal with the sea witch and trading your voice for a pair of legs, kissing the beast to get the prince, and maybe even riding a magic carpet – shining, shimmering, fucking splendid. Then we grew up and realized that nope, it doesn’t quite work that way. You have to date, kiss a multitude of beasts and frogs and find out that they were no more than beasts and frogs.

Last night, I saw Before Midnight, the last installment of the Before series. Now, the Before series follows the story of Jesse and Celine. The first one, Before Sunrise, explored magic. How two people can meet by chance, and have such a great connection. It wasn’t quite like a fairy tale, Jesse didn’t ride a white horse and save Celine from a dragon. (Actually, I think she’s more than capable of taking care of herself, and Jesse, though he has a flair for grand romantic gestures, isn’t quite the type.) The story isn’t fairy tale-ish, but it is something we all wish for at some point: Meeting your soulmate – or at least, somebody who looks like him or her – on the train.


The second one, Before Sunset, made us question this entire soulmate business. (Spoiler alert. But then again, why are you reading this if you haven’t seen any of the films?) If they had been so meant for each other, then how come they didn’t live happily ever after? They’re the opposite of happily ever after, in fact, they’re miserable. Over the course of film though, we see that they’ve grown older, wiser, and aren’t quite so starry eyed anymore. In the end though, we’re about 99% sure that they’re going to end up together. I mean, after that song, we were all ready to marry Julie Delpy.

Then comes the third and last installment, Before Midnight. It’s a love story we so rarely see – between two middle aged people… with issues. This is not a rom-com. There is no slapstick humor or comedy of errors. Just two people starring in their own love story. It isn’t the pretty part of the story either, no cutesy-fied scenes and definitely no chasing each other on the beach. Just an honest portrayal of a middle-age couple. Watching the film felt like voyeurism of some sort, like we’re watching private moments. They’re not strangers to us, and we’ve heard this story before, but as I walked out of the cinema after having watched the film, I realized that this must be the most realistic love story I’ve seen outside of real life. No castles, no shining white horses, no singing dwarves. Just the kind of love that takes hard work to keep going. The kind with teeth grinding compromise and plain old vicious arguing.

Is it a happy ending? Depends on your general outlook on these things, really. It’s hardly the end, rather, it’s a new beginning.

How Megaworld Got Me to Restoring My Bug

So last Wednesday (a holiday, Independence Day), I went to Kuya Nards’ shop in Buendia to get my bug a new carb spring. While at a vulcanizing shop, Remi and I noticed that we were leaking engine oil. The engine had to be removed, since the oil gaskets needed to be replaced. I also got a new generator pulley and had Kuya Ter check the distributor parts (condenser, rotor, and contact points). I also had a change oil.

Happy with having the car maintenance stuff out of the way, we went home. To a memo. From Megaworld. It basically said that I could no longer park for free outside the condo-slash-suburb’s perimeter and that I have until Monday (June 17) to move my car elsewhere. They graciously offered to give me a list of available parking slots for rent inside the gates. Just how much is parking in Rich People Ville? Here’s the breakdown:

Security Deposit: PHP 7,500
Advance Payment for 3 months: PHP 2,800 x 3 = PHP 8,400
Subsequent Payments for 9 months: PHP 2,800 x 9 = PHP 25,200

7500 + 8400 + 25200 = 41100. Forty-one thousand, one hundred pesos. For a year. Of parking. For the purposes of comparison, my house rent is 3,000 pesos.

In my mind, I had three options: a. find myself a new parking slot elsewhere (because fuck you Megaworld, and fuck you too, homeowners’ association), b. park at Rica’s parent’s house in Sikatuna Village (which isn’t really near, but near enough), or c. sell the car. Option C seemed the most likely and practical to me, but Remi thought it was stupid. She’s right. Why would I want to sell the car because of a stupid memo?

She then offered Option D: Restore Car-car. It’s a brilliant solution. I don’t have to sell the car, I won’t have to worry about parking in the next 3 or 4 months, I would still pay but the money would be better spent in restoration than in aforementioned Rich People Ville parking.

As it happens, while waiting for the repairs to finish last Wednesday, I got a flyer from Kuya Nards. It was for a shop called ROS Autoworks[1], and they were offering body work and painting services with a quite yuppie-friendly payment option (6 months to pay). I contacted the owner of the joint, Rex Oliver Sembrano, and by Saturday, we were at his shop in Greenfields in Molino, Cavite. I got a very reasonable quote for body work and paint, and we commuted home. Funny how the universe works, no?

Anyway, work on Car-car is underway! I’m very excited. In lieu of this, I’ve decided to finally buy bumpers (the square ones from the Brazil models) and I’m getting a rain gutter for the decklid as well. I can’t wait to see the progress, and of course, the finished product as well.

1972 Volkswagen Beetle

Oh rust, thine greatest nemesis.

Interiors

The bug in front is in far worst shape than Car-car.

Front fenders and hood removed

Scrape to metal, stat!

At the moment, it looks like somebody shot at my passenger side door.

My relatively okay engine and semi-scraped rear-fender.

Seriously, I can’t wait to see Car-car back to his shiny, pogi self. Let the War Against Rust begin!


1. If you want to know how that turned up, contact me.

Hung-over Sugarfree: A Sa Wakas Review

I’ve always believed that everybody comes with their own background music. There are some days that seem to follow the rhythm of Hit Me Baby One More Time or Don’t Cha – no judging – and there are times when whole swaths of your life seem to be outright rip-offs of a two-bit song. Whole sweeping segments of your life told in every lyric word, in every note, in every falsetto. This seems especially true in the happiest moments and ironically, in the most tragic as well. As we’ve discussed before, Sugarfree has chronicled those (mostly love-related) moments and have therefore provided the songs of both triumphs and tribulations for an entire generation. Specifically, mine.

Sa Wakas, A Pinoy Rock Musical
When I saw the teasers for Sa Wakas, a rock musical featuring the songs of Sugarfree, I immediately went into fangirl mode. I must watch this. They better not mess this up, I said, for a thousand Sugarfree fangirls (and fanboys) will descend upon them. Our hate mail will blot out the sun! Yesterday, we watched Sa Wakas, and this is not a rage-fueled, vitriol-laced review.
The Story
Sa Wakas revolves around the lives of three yuppies: Topper (Fred Lo), a photographer working to make a name for himself; Lexi (Caisa Borromeo), a doctor having trouble juggling her relationship and her career; and Gabbi (Kyla Rivera), a magazine editor hoping to find inspiration. It’s all about passion for these three, passion in their chosen careers, passion for their hopes and dreams, and passion for their relationships and in their selves. It’s a story we all know, a story we’ve heard from a friend or have played a lead role in.
Intertwined (more like embedded) in their story is the music of Sugarfree. Relationships are falling apart before us, and Sugarfree hits every note. I’ve always had a vague suspicion that Ebe Dancel, Sugarfree frontman and main lyricist, had looked into the most vulnerable parts of our lives – the breakups, the hung-over musings, and the longing for long lost loves – and wrote them into swak-sa-banga, sapul-sa-mukha songs.
We see the characters at their most vulnerable moments, at their weakest and most miserable, and I was sure that every single person in the audience could relate to at least one of them. We could all relate to those moments when the Universe throws everything at us, including the kitchen sink and the kitchen.
The Characters
Topper, bless him, knowingly plays the Asshat. He’s the guy in the middle of every drama like this. He knows he’s wrong, and for that I could not find it in myself to sympathize with him. At the end of the first act, I felt he deserved testicular cancer. Lexi on the other hand is a girl who knows what she wants. There are times when I felt she would have fit better in a medical drama, but we all know the feeling of wanting to excel in both our personal and professional lives and failing catastrophically in one (in more tragic stories, we fail in both). Sadly, she cannot have her cake and eat it too. Then Gabbi. I found her character very sympathetic, despite never having been in her situation. She exemplifies all of our bad timing and our wrong-place-wrong-time decisions that often lead us to disaster.
At the end of the play, I felt my applause was not enough to show my appreciation. The actors were effective – awful, playful, and funny in just the right parts. Kyla Rivera is adorable and has great comedic timing, and Fred Lo too, as I laughed when I wasn’t busy hating his character. Caisa Borromeo embraces the role of a woman not defined by her relationship status and I found myself empathizing with her as a victim of circumstance and indecision.
The Play
Sa Wakas didn’t need to impress me with the music, I already love Sugarfree, but still it did. The band and the ensemble were awesome. The arrangements were well thought out and the execution was great. It was surprising at times, with the transitions sometimes jumping from hopeful to sad to sadder. It works though. The music, set design, and lighting made for an altogether immersive experience.
The ballsiest move on the part of the producers and writers is the storytelling itself. Personally, I was confused until the first few strums of the second act. Upon our exit from the PETA Theater, the buzz was intoxicating, but I couldn’t help overhearing some fellow audience members asking what exactly happened to the characters. While it probably wasn’t the best way to tell the story, it worked for me. For the most part, it worked for me because of the poignant ending. It wasn’t the closing of a book and the opening of a new one, instead it was a painful and emphatic period (as in, The End, period.).
Sa Wakas works. It works because it tells us the story of ourselves, or at least, the stories told to us that nestle close to our hearts (like One More Chance). It shows us that things aren’t as simple as pushing the big red button marked “Self-Destruct,” it’s a long and drawn out process of things that go wrong, things that feel right, things unsaid, and things screamed at each other.
That said, why haven’t you watched it yet? Even if you aren’t a fan of Sugarfree, I’d recommend you to watch it anyway. There are exactly four more shows left. Go, dammit.
Notes:
  • Sa Wakas is brought to us by Culture Shock Productions and FringeMNL. If they made more plays like this, I’d probably watch more theatre.
  • If you are driving to the PETA Theater, be sure to get there early. Parking slots are few and far between.

Why One Arm is Darker than the Other

Since getting the 1972 Volkswagen FrankenBeetle out from the shop, a lot of things have changed. For one thing, I now reserve a column for ‘Gas’ in my expenses spreadsheet and as soon as BPI approves my application, I’ll have a bank account for car contingencies. I’ve also applied for a savings account with life insurance bundled in – you know, in case I de-limb myself in a horrible accident.

Aside of being partially ready for accidental dismemberment, other changes have happened. For one thing, as my mother so kindly pointed out, my left arm is two shades darker than the right one. What changes have happened?
1.     I am not ashamed to be seen in a car that seems to be held together by rust and cracking rubber. It is 41 years old, and by sheer force of will and mechanical miracles, it is running. After 3 and some years of being parked in various places, it rose back from the dead.

2.     I have masking tape in the car. Why? Because I need it to keep my air vents in place (while driving). We were taping the windows in place while gassing up, and the gas station crew and the owner of the Vios beside us stared in wide-eyed wonder.

3.     For entertainment during drives from Quezon City to Buendia, Pasay City, Remi and I have resorted to singing ditties. The radio works, but I don’t have speakers. I don’t plan to get speakers any time soon, I enjoy listening to the steady rumbling of the engine. I’ve come to take note all of its small burps and backfires.

4.     Whenever we see another bug on the street, I beep twice. They beep, flash their lights, and wave back. It’s like I’ve joined a cult. An obsessive, extremely geeky cult, though extremely nice and good-natured. (While at Kuya Nards’ shop last Sunday, we saw a silver 1966 Beetle. The owner was buying parts, and I was having my front shocks replaced. He chatted us up, and he noticed my lack of bumpers. He gave me his card, told me that if I want bumpers, he’ll give me the ones he has at home if I could drive to Imus, Cavite. Also, we passed a beautiful brown bug on Boni Serrano, and the driver flashed his lights twice, beaming the entire time.)

5.     The largest part of the adventure of getting from Point A to Point Bis whether we’d get there at all. I’ve taken to calling the car Sheer Luck (or formally Sherlock) because of this.

6.     My Want List now has 2 shock absorbers and 2 tires at the top of the list. (I’ve already replaced the front 2 shocks and tires.) Disc brakes and a new paint job are my new expensive daydreams.

7.     I now groan with Remi whenever Alvin Elchico announces a gas hike. (In other news, however, I’ve only gassed up twice in two weeks.) I also have a schedule for oil changes, tune-ups, and brakes checks.

8.     As previously mentioned, one arm is darker than the other. Simply, I drive with the windows down. I’m not sure if I’ll have the AC unit in the car fixed.

9.     I now know that I have a 1972 German Volkswagen Beetle with a 1600cc engine (that came from a Brasilia). It will take about 40 liters of gas for a full tank, and is a comfortable ride once you replace the old shocks.

10. It’s amusing to see people hitting each other when I pass by. It’s the slightly twisted, but ages old game of Pendong Peace.

Image via: http://www.pinoyexchange.com/forums/showthread.php?t=507145&p=55532781&viewfull=1#post55532781

So anyway, yeah. That’s why one arm is darker than the other arm. Any more questions?

Volkswagen Chronicles: IT’S ALIIIIIIIIVE!!!!

So about a month back, we made the decision to pull out the 1972 FrankenBeetle from Batangas from its then shop in Las Pinas to Kuya Nards’ shop in Buendia, Pasay. Towing a car, as I’ve heard, is a huge pain in the ass/wallet, but thankfully I got the services of Nino Ayroso and got the car from Point A to Point B without a hitch (and without blowing a fuse). I also got to save a lot since towing only cost me 2,000, a fraction of what the other towing services are extorting/charging.

Anyway, three mechanics started working on the Volks as soon as it landed in Kuya Nard’s shop. Right off the bat, they found many, MANY problems. There were a lot of wrong settings, the belt was too tight, and they suspect I have a hole somewhere in the engine that was causing the oil to leak. Everything was fixed, everything that was broken were replaced. They even gave my tires a new lease at life via a simple vulcanizing trip.
And thus after 3 years and four months, I am finally able to use the 1972 Volkswagen Beetle. It took 2 parking spots, 3 auto shops, and two towing stints, not to mention the blood, sweat, tears, and money (lots and lots and lots of money), but I finally got it where I want it. I’ve been test driving it around since Saturday, and it’s a thrill to be able to use it.
Every time I slide into the driver’s seat, I think, “They were right.” Tama nga sila. Remi, the folks at the VWCP.org forum, and the random people I’ve met who told me, “Tatakbo din yan.” After replacing the faulty ignition coil that caused our launch failure, it worked. I even had the mechanics break it in for me (i.e. use it for a week).


 Tatakbo din yan, tatakbo din yan. 

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.