Contradiction in Terms
You say to-may-toe; I say toh-mah-tah. Deal with it.
Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Today is Health and Happiness with Hypnosis Day.

And you are getting sleeepier...

Hey, look at me!

Was bloghopping when I ran into the Abi-Station Illustration Maker. You just choose from their assortment of facial feature options and voila! You can make a portrait of yourself. (Or of someone else, but we all know how vain I am...) Actually I did try to make one for Dean, too, but it didn't turn out right, either because (a) I go around analyzing my face all the time, and thus know exactly what I look like, but not my husband whom I only see every day; or (b) I have a common face and he doesn't.  Well, he's a prince, after all, and I'm just a royal concubine.

Speaking of my picture, Dean's salon client wants to use me as their image model, probably because they gave me such a snazzy haircut when I was over there the other week (not to mention a free foot massage in their decadent massage room!). Of course, I suspect the other reason is that they can get me for dirt cheap-- since it's my husband's client, I'll do it for dinner some place nice, or something new to read. Sigh. Linda Evangelista would throw a fit...

Without breaking the eggshell, how can you tell if an egg is rotten or still good?

answer to Sunday's question
Although the months are supposed to correspond to the waxing and waning of the moon, there are actually 13 lunar months in a calendar year, since the moon goes through a full transit of its phases in four weeks, rather than 30 days. 13 moon transits times 28 days for each equals just 364 days, which means that there is one day per year that is not part of any lunar month or week. This 'Day Out of Time' is pegged at July 25, the one day every year that we supposedly "experience true freedom from fourth-dimensional time". Stick that in yer Eschaton Star!

tested by time: Alex
Nikki bit in at 9:54 AM :: ::
Sunday, July 25, 2004

Today is International Disability Independence Day.

a rose by any other name
The 'v' in Khavn de la Cruz's name is no longer silent. You used to just pronounce 'Khavn' as 'Khan', as if the 'v' did not exist; but now, apparently, it's pronounced 'kav-n' (and not, fortunately, 'cave-in'). This little revelation got me wondering if everyone's name could be made cooler with the simple addition of the letter 'v'. In most cases, I've found, it works rather well. For instance:  

Dean would now be 'Devan' Alfar, which sounds Irish, and would therefore perhaps enable him to write with the kind of gently humorous pathos at which the Irish so excel.

Sage would become 'Svage' Alfar, thus altering the nature of her name from wisdom to ferocity.

Marco would be 'Marcov' Dimaano, adding some nice Russian gravitas to the espionage aspect of his Angel Ace comic book series.  

El could be 'Evl' or 'Elv' Or, making him either diabolical or fey.  

Of course, it doesn't work for everyone, as evinced by the slightly gay-sounding altered names of 'Ruvey' de Vera and 'Vivn' Simbulan.

What is the 'day out of time'?

answer to Friday's question
Discovered in Ecuador in 1998, the Antpitta avis canis Ridgley is a bird that looks like a duck on stilts and barks like a dog. Long-legged and colored black and white, it is one of the largest birds to have been discovered in the last 50 years. The flightless cagou of New Caledonia is also known for barking 'like a young dog'.

Perhaps in retaliation, the basenji is a smallish copper-colored dog that yodels rather than barks.

barking up the right tree: Marc and Xtine
Nikki bit in at 5:48 PM :: ::
Friday, July 23, 2004


Wow, it's amazing how well Katrina knows me, considering we've actually seen each other in person less times than I have fingers. But she hit the nail right on the head-- what was making me sick was the prospect of having to work a nine-to-five job in a stuffy corporate environment where coffee breaks are scheduled and types of acceptable footwear are mandated by office policy. I thought I could do it. Heck, I got so caught up in convincing my prospective bosses that I could do it and wanted to do it that I ended up convincing myself. But I could barely sleep, I was so busy trying to talk myself into the proper mindset; and finally I made myself sick spazzing out about the whole thing.

You know how bad I've been feeling? Yesterday I told Dean I wasn't going to take the job, and I instantly felt about 80% better. I've even been forgetting to take my medicine on time, but aside from the occasional sniffle and feeling of tiredness, I'm okay. I no longer feel as if a pair of anvils is pressing down on my shoulders. I have enough energy to play with my daughter again, knowing that I'll be able to play with her every day instead of coming home an hour before her bedtime, too pooped to pay her proper attention. That alone, I think, is worth at least half the 60,000 peso salary I'm giving up.

There's another job opportunity I'm looking into, actually. I'm sure the pay will be much less, but it's a lot closer to home, both literally (as in across the street) and figuratively (more writing than administrating). I guess this just goes to show that, contrary to what I'd previously believed, I'm not willing to do anything for the right amount of money. I just wish the Inner Nikki had found a way of telling me this without having to resort to physical incapacitation.

Thanks to everyone for the concern! I felt the love... 

What is the bird that barks?

answer to Thursday's question
Okay, this infinite perimeter thing is pretty neat. Contrary to what some of you guessed, it has nothing to do with high or low tide, and everything to do with fractals. The basic premise is that any measurement of a coastline is necessarily inexact, given the irregularity of terrain. You simply cannot measure every nook and cranny of every cove and inlet; it's practically impossible. But if you did have enough patience-- and a long enough tape measure-- you would find that the more accurately you measured an island's perimeter, the longer that perimeter would be. The more detailed the measurement, the larger the final figure. And since the level of irregularity of the rocks, outcroppings, isthmuses, and whatnot is infinite down to a microscopic level, the perimeter of an island may be considered infinite as well-- in other words, it would only get longer the more precisely you measured, and you could never measure it precisely enough to stop measuring. Is that funky, or what?  

And is 'isthmuses' a word? (I just checked, and it is. You can also pluralize it as 'isthmi'.)  

infinitely informed: Xtine, Charles, and Dean

Nikki bit in at 2:07 PM :: ::
Wednesday, July 21, 2004

just the flu, folks

So this week I was supposed to start work at the new office, except that I got struck down-- almost literally-- with the flu. I don't think even my beloved husband realized how bad it was, because I have a tendency to downplay these things until the worst is over. But a couple of days ago, man, even the soles of my feet hurt. I felt like someone had replaced all the blood in my veins with badly-ground glass. I would stand under the shower and cry as quietly as possible, because I knew that if Dean heard me, he'd make me go see a doctor; and I didn't want to because I couldn't stand the thought of having to wear anything heavier than my silk nighties against my skin. I even took off my usual earrings, necklace, and bracelet because their weight was driving me batshit.

I finally made myself go to a clinic when Sage started sneezing, since I was worried that she'd caught the bug from me. Turns out she just has a cold, while I have-- get this-- severe acute influenza. Not just any influenza, no, it's severe and acute at the same time. I didn't even know that was possible. So here I sit, suffering and sulking and wishing I could summon up the mental wholeness to answer my own damn trivia quiz. Sorry, folks. I'll get back in shape when I'm back in shape.
Nikki bit in at 4:06 PM :: ::
Friday, July 16, 2004


I can see how shark awareness could be a good thing, especially in the ocean.

See? Grammar is important.
Alex reminded me that Tower Records has this big-ass billboard on EDSA that proclaims, "We have better music than the one you're listening to." It's really tragic when people go around trying to be clever but wind up being laughable instead, due to execrable English. In mammoth red-and-yellow letters, no less.

Conversely, I found myself amused by the name of a badminton court I happened to pass by: "Shuttle's Best". Even though it was based on a terrible and virulent mispronunciation*, the joke worked for me, possibly because it seemed to imply a certain awareness of its own unmitigated corniness. Or perhaps I give them too much credit...

*Folks, it's pronounced 'see-YATl', okay? You take a 'shuttle' if you want to escape Earth's orbit, not if you're craving for coffee.

Why is it that the perimeter of most islands can be considered to be infinite? (Alex knows, 'cause he explained it to me!)

answer to yesterday's question
Although plans for a submarine were drawn up by mathematician William Bourne as early as 1578, it wasn't until 1620 that a working model was actually created. Dutch inventor Cornelius van Drebbel wrapped a rowboat tightly in waterproof leather and attached air tubes with floats to the surface for oxygen. There weren't even engines available at the time, so van Drebbel's sub was powered by oars, which exited the hull through watertight leather gaskets. With 12 men at the oars, van Drebbel successfully managed to pilot his boat beneath the Thames river for three hours.

far from sub-par: Julz, Ariel, and Charles
Nikki bit in at 2:04 AM :: ::
Thursday, July 15, 2004

Today is BE A DORK Day.

Of course, some people don't need a reason.

more pre-employment
I'd forgotten just how many times you're obliged to write down your damned name and address when entering a new company. Today I had to fill out about three different HRD forms, two insurance forms, four bank forms, and assorted other documents whose purpose completely escaped me. All I could think of by then was 'Georgina Veronica Go Alfar, Georgina Veronica Go Alfar', so I may very well have signed my soul over to the devil; which is okay, because I was pretty much prepared to do just that by late afternoon, as long as it meant an end to the cataract of redundant paperwork.

At least I didn't have to go through one of those horrible personality exams, like Kate did. You know the ones I mean-- where they ask you the same question in fourteen different ways just to see if you're consistent. After a while, I just get to that mindset where I answer the multiple choice part on the basis of which letters make a pretty pattern.

Anyway, after the form filing, I hied off to Megamall to meet Dean and kibitz with Vin, stopping off at Mendrez on the way to pick up a pair of killer heels. And by 'killer' I mean both senses of the word, mind you. I was all set to pick up a pair of sensible, comfy office shoes, when I spotted this black suede dominatrix pair on sale. Next thing I knew, the Fashion Thing in the back of my brain had taken control of my bodily functions, and I was headed out of the store with a shoe box full of foolhardy fashion.

I am going to regret those shoes come Monday, but Sage seems perfectly at ease breaking them in for me.

When was the first submarine created?

answer to yesterday's question
Only female mosquitoes actually bite people. (Which lends credence to the theory that females are more dangerous than males...) Beyond that, however, those mosquito chicks are attracted to larger people over smaller ones and dark colors over light ones. But primarily, mosquitoes are attracted by scent-- so people who sweat a lot get bitten more often, as do people who wear the 'right' kind of perfume or have recently eaten the 'right' kind of food.

Surprisingly, though, it isn't exactly the scent of citronella that repels mosquitoes. Instead, it's a component in citronella that irritates the mosquitoes' feet, making them fly away on contact. Which is why citronella candles aren't as helpful as they're supposed to be.

skeeter savants: Rei, Dean, Jonette, Alex, Ariel, Charles, and Gabby. Interesting how many of you identified with this topic!
Nikki bit in at 12:06 AM :: ::
Tuesday, July 13, 2004


Gee, I hope to be a 'gruntled' worker, too!

Thanks to everyone who posted their congratulations and good wishes regarding the new job. (I just realized that anyone I run into who doesn't know about the job will instantly be exposed as a non-reader of my blog, ha!)

The weird thing is, I went to the office yesterday for the final interview, and today to be introduced to the second-in-command of HRD, who asked me to come in tomorrow to sign papers and all that. As we were talking, the president stuck his head out of his office and asked me if I could join him for half an hour on Thursday to meet with a client after golf. So despite the fact that I don't start work till Monday, I'm already seeing these people practically every day of the week. Which is very very weird because I'm really only used to looking at Dean, Sage, and her nannies on a daily basis. Guess I'd better get used to it.

Also, thanks to all my grrlz who posted their shopping recommendations. Much appreciated, though I did most of my purchasing today at Luscious, a wondrous little hole-in-the-wall at Goldcrest Makati. It is something close to torture trying to find fashionable clothes that fit in Manila if your waist happens to be Medium while your chest is Large; so Luscious is truly a blessing for those of us whose hips have undergone childbirth and whose cup size exceeds A.

So now I have a scrumptious feminine-but-professional wardrobe, not that I think my mostly-techy officemates will actually care. But Sage and I had a grand time putting on a little fashion show for her dad. (I showed off most of the clothes, while she pranced around wearing one of my new tops as a dress.) All I have left to buy are shoes, because I doubt that my fuck-me boots count as de rigeur footwear in the workplace.

Oh, and I had my hair cut, during which procedure I ran into this really hot guy...

Are some people more 'attractive' to mosquitoes than others?

answer to yesterday's question
Haha! The oldest version of the Cinderella story is not the Chinese one where her slippers were made of fur. That one dates back to about 700AD, a good deal later than the Egyptian tale of Rhodopis, which was recorded as early as first century BC. Cosmetic differences aside, Rhodopis is extremely similar to the Cinderella story as we know it, except that in the Egyptian version, she never did get to go to the ball. Instead, a falcon swooped down as she was sulking about being left behind, nabbed one of her slippers, flew to Pharaoh's palace, and dumped the slipper in Pharaoh's lap. Pharaoh immediately realized that this was a sign from the god Horus, and accordingly instituted a kingdom-wide search for the owner of the slipper. The slippers were gilded with rose gold, with leather soles.

nice tries: Dean, Alex, and Charles. But only Nikki knew the real answer, because Nikki is the Fairy Tale Geek Goddess!
Nikki bit in at 11:40 PM :: ::
Monday, July 12, 2004


Well, I got the job. Talked to the senior vice-president last Friday and the company president today; and they liked me and I liked them, so there you go. The position is marketing communications manager. I'm actually a bit younger than most people in the same job, but since the prez is only two years older than me, the age thing was pretty much a non-issue.

Anyway, I'm taking the offer. Crucial to the decision was the fact that my long-coveted Clean perfume is now available at Rustan's, and right at the moment I can't afford it... I'm kidding; I'm not that vain. (Close, but not quite!) Seriously, it looks like a good company-- with a good culture and good people-- that could use the skills I'm actually good at. Plus, okay, I've never had my very own office and very own assistant before, so I'm kinda tickled. Seduced by the establishment, that's me.

The problem now is that I have nothing to wear. Some of you may know that when I came back to Manila from Hong Kong a couple of years ago, my luggage was stolen, along with nearly my entire wardrobe. I've been working freelance since then, so I've never had the need to build up the kind of closet that can take me through a five-day workweek. And it's a corporate company, so I can't get away with the 'I'm a creative' excuse that works in ad agencies and the like. And I already wore my entire 'take me seriously' repertoire to the two interviews.

Which means I'm going to have to spend a good amount on shopping. Which, obviously, is not entirely a bad thing, but it does cut into the ol' budget. Geez, I guess you really do have to spend money to make money!

What were Cinderella's slippers originally made of?

answer to Thursday's question
The word ketchup is derived from the Chinese word 'koe-chiap' or 'ke-tsiap', which loosely translates as 'brine of pickled fish'. This was a sauce brought home to England by British sailors in the 17th century. The original ingredients are unclear, but as the sauce became popular in other nations, cooks began modifying the recipe to suit available ingredients, using such innovations as mushrooms, walnuts, cucumbers, and oysters. Perhaps predictably, ketchup as we know it was invented by the Americans, who had begun cultivating tomatoes from Mexico. Modern ketchup is made from tomato sauce, vinegar, sugar, salt, and spices.

saucy folks: Marc, Ariel, and Charles

Grammar and Punctuation: By the way, both the spellings 'ketchup' and 'catsup' are perfectly acceptable, although the Brits and Heinz prefer the former. The archaic 'catchup' was once the norm, but has since fallen into disuse.
Nikki bit in at 11:04 PM :: ::
Thursday, July 08, 2004

Today is SCUD* Day.

*Which stands for 'Savor the Comic, Unplug the Drama'.

dream of a thousand smokers
One day we're going to take over the world. You'll see.

You've made a mistake, you self-righteous smoke-haters, exiling us from your ascetic air-conditioned edifices. Because we talk, we smokers do. At the bases of buildings from which you've banished us, we are beginning to recognize one another's faces, to exchange secret smiles. It may start with a simple "Got a light?" in times of desperation, but it will progress from there. We'll go from "What floor are you from?" to "What do you do?" to "What's your name?"

It's only a short distance from establishment of identity to self-actualization.

And then, like Neil Gaiman's cats, we will begin to envision a different world. A world where smoking is not only permitted, but celebrated. Where no one need be turned out into the heat and dust and noise, because provisions are made for varying lifestyle choices. (See? We are less condemning than you.) Where everyone who knows anything will know what we know: that in the midst of death, we are in life.

It will take no more than a mere thousand of us, dreaming a single dream. And we will make it so that it has always been thus.

You'll see. One day.

This whimsy has been brought to you by the realization that I may no longer be able to smoke while I work.

Why is ketchup called 'ketchup'?

answer to yesterday's question
Some genius at Baskin-Robbins decided to create a ketchup-flavored ice cream called, appropriately enough, Krazy Ketchup. And yes, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration categorizes ketchup as a vegetable, so there you go. There was also a recipe for ginger ice cream in a cookbook published in 1790, but it's unknown whether anyone actually made any of the stuff. It certainly isn't one of the ten most popular ice cream flavors.

got the flava: Ariel, Angela, Dean, Julz, and Charles

errata: My apologies to Pauline, who actually answered the light-year question right, but I didn't realize she'd used miles instead of kilometers. Amgirl!
Nikki bit in at 7:12 PM :: ::
Wednesday, July 07, 2004


And here I thought that was every day...

career opportunities
I've been pretty content doing freelance copywriting work for a living. Fortunately, Dean is a fabulously responsible husband and daddy, which means that (a) my horrendous inability to budget has never been truly disastrous, (b) we may be a little cash-strapped from time to time, but never to the edge of starvation-- or even the point where we can't afford to buy Sagey toys-- and (c) I'm able to stay at home and spend oodles of time with my daughter.

Today a client of mine called me up with a job offer. It's a full-time nine-to-fiver, so I automatically said no; then she mentioned a salary that made my eyebrows shoot up toward my hairline. It's not like we really need the money, but boy, we sure could use the money... for savings, for Sage's education, for a new airconditioner and the electricity to run it, and heck, for that Nokia 6230 I've had my eye on.

The downside is, I really dislike working in an office environment. Partly it's because I work superhumanly fast and detest sitting around pretending to be busy when I've already accomplished everything I need to do and more. I hate working on other people's schedules. Also, a lot of employers simply cannot wrap their heads around the fact that a lot of writing work involves staring into space and thinking of how to approach a given assignment. And most of all, I revile playing office politics. This is slightly strange because I am by nature a creature of social politics, but some sad little naive part of me keeps wanting to be recognized for merit rather than sucking up.

But is the money worth it? Hell, yes! If the job description isn't too absurd. If the location isn't too astronomically distant. If the management of the company isn't too idiotically reprehensible.

If they decide they really want to hire me! If, if, if. We'll see.

What was the only vegetable-flavored ice cream ever produced?

answer to Monday's question
Naturally, you all know that the 'length' of a light-year is literally a length-- it's a unit of distance, not time: specifically, the distance that light can travel in the course of one year. Since light moves at a velocity of about 300,000 kilometers per second and there are about 31,556,926 seconds in a year, one light-year is equal to about 9,500,000,000,000 kilometers.

light-years ahead: Ariel and Charles. And Pauline wasn't kidding; math really does baffle her! ;)
Nikki bit in at 8:02 PM :: ::
Monday, July 05, 2004


The fact that we don't actually know any Zambian heroes is no reason not to celebrate!

unfluffy Buffy
I got to see the last episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer on the much-delayed local channel tonight. It rocked! (The episode, not the channel.) The rest of the season had been pretty much ho-hum, so I'd reasoned to myself that it was because the show was ending, and the creative team had probably just lost heart. But it turns out they had simply been setting up this literal show-stopper all along!

Don't get me wrong; I'm not saying this one made up for the humdrum stuff that went before. I still think the previous episodes could and should have been better. But the ending was so fitting, it put all the past six seasons in perspective and was really the only logical conclusion to the saga of the Slayer. (Well, one of two logical conclusions: the happy one or the sad one.) I really should have had more faith in series creator Joss Whedon, considering that he's also doing a bang-up job over on Astonishing X-Men.

Speaking of comics...
Vin gave everyone in the gang a veritable mountain of comics on Free Comic Book Day, asking only that we write reviews in return. There were so many of them that even I, speed reader that I am, haven't finished up yet, and I can't imagine how I could possibly hope to review them all. So suffice it to say that most of it is actually quality stuff, and let me go on to the one that really stood out.

Brian Pulido's Back in Black reminds me of Kris Aquino's acting way back in the '80s. To those of you who don't know what that means, she was so bad that even when the smart part of your brain grabbed hold of the remote to change the channel, the treacherous brain portion would not allow you to actually push the button and get away, so mesmerizing was her sheer awfulness on screen.

In the same manner, I actually went through the entire pamphlet showcasing Pulido's upcoming projects, a cornucopia of misogyny thinly disguised as admiration, thickly encrusted with bad grammar, bad storytelling, bad dialogue, and hackneyed concepts that were old when Sean Connery still played Bond. Tips-- if you want to be an empowered female in Pulido's world, you must:

1. die (so you can come back with a hankering for Vengeance),
2. have big hair,
3. pose lasciviously while preparing to disembowel people, and
4. speak in explanatory cliches.

I may just hold on to the damn thing so I have something to refer to whenever I have doubts about my own writing ability.

How long is a light-year?

answer to Friday's question
First, thanks to Amie for clearing this up for me in the first place! Okay, England is England itself; Britain is England and Scotland; Great Britain is England, Scotland, and Wales; and the United Kingdom is England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. (In fact 'U.K.' officially stands for 'the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland'.) So Ewan McGregor, for example, is Scottish and British but not English, while the aforementioned Amie is generally British and specifically English. Whew!

people who got it 'royte' (Hey, that's how Amie says it!): Pauline, Amie of course, and Charles (close enough)
Nikki bit in at 10:33 PM :: ::
Friday, July 02, 2004

Today is ICE CREAM Day.

Now there's a holiday that deserves celebrating.

adventures in living
Secretly, I'm a happy person. I say 'secretly' because it may not be immediately evident from my usual run of blog entries. But the fact is, I'm starting to think the reason total strangers come up to me on the street is that I'm always smiling, or at least looking pleased, as if life were some grand adventure. Which it is.

If, that is, you tend to view nearly everything as entertaining, educational, or just plain silly.

If you allow yourself to feel mad, bad, sad, or strange when you are; and laugh about it later.

If you refuse to censor your thoughts, but selectively censor your words. (Because telling someone they don't look good after a bad haircut is uselessly hurtful, for example. Save it for just before the next haircut, when it'll do some good.)

If you don't care what anyone thinks of you, because the only people who matter will love you anyway.

If you accept that you are bound to fuck up every once in a while.

If you stand by your good decisions, and actively strive to repair the fallout from the bad ones.

If you avoid people, places, events, and situations you hate... or, in the event of unavoidability, make fun of them in your blog later so you can feel better about it.

It just seems to me that many people think happiness is some distant destination in their far-off future. I think happiness, to a large extent, is just living when and where you are, and loving it. (And laughing it off when you don't!)

What's the difference among Britain, England, Great Britain, and the United Kingdom? (I know Amie knows!)

answer to Tuesday's question
I can't believe three of you actually figured out I was really sneaking in a mythology question! Okay, here's why we say "it's raining cats and dogs": In Norse mythology, Odin is not only the All-Father, but a god of war and death; whereas Freya is the goddess of love and fertility. Somewhat strangely, though, they actually divide the souls of slain warriors between them-- half go to Odin's Valhalla, and half go to Freya's halls. Now, since Freya's carriage is pulled by a pair of huge cats (representing fertilizing rain), and Odin is served by canines and lupines of all sorts (The dogs represent wind), the Norse believed that violent storms meant that Freya and Odin were fighting over possession of some notable warrior's soul. Google that, y'all. ;>

Smart puppies and clever kittens: Pauline, Charles, and Ariel
Nikki bit in at 12:26 AM :: ::
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