Tuesday, December 31, 2013

173/365 - Farewell, 2013

173/365 - Last Day of 2013
Miniature effect shot of our Christmas Tree at home.
2014 is almost upon us here in the Philippines. 2013 has less than four hours left. Before we finish this year, I'd just like to reflect one last time on what an amazing and life-changing year this has been.

The minute I turned thirty-three, a lot of major events happened.
  • We put our pet dog, Rebus, to sleep the day after my birthday. It was the first time in a long time that I bawled non-stop. The last time I started crying like that was when Lola Berting was spending her last hours with us in 2006.
  • I resigned from work without a back-up plan. This was caused by massive burnout on my part. I'm taking part of the blame because I was not prepared, nor strong enough, to handle the pressures I was getting. I'm not letting my previous employer off the hook, though, because I had already discussed my issues with my superior and they were unable to help me out. To be honest, telling an employee to tough it out is not a very good way of taking care of your people.
  • I became more aware of my negativity and shortcomings. This came hand-in-hand with my resignation. I suddenly realized that there are a lot of things I have to change in myself, soon. And up to now I am continuing this never-ending goal of mine to improve myself.
  • I had no job for two months. This is what happens when I bank on two opportunities that don't end up working. That's all I will say about that. The good thing is I managed to spend a lot of time with my daughter. While I can't say I made up for lost time, I can say that our relationship has improved a lot.
  • I found a new career opportunity, one that requires a lot of sacrifices but one that could have excellent rewards in the future. And I can't be any happier. I'm learning new things, and I'm doing something related to one of my interests - cars.
  • We spent Christmas in Japan. My mom treated Maica, Martina, and I to a trip to Japan. And we all had a great time with my folks.
I will miss 2013. Because I grew up a lot during this year. I have no idea why it had to happen now, or why it happened so late in my current life, but I am very, very glad and thankful that it happened.

I will still revert once in a while to my old self, but thanks to better self-awareness I am now more conscious to make sure that whatever happens I will always look for the brighter side of things.


Monday, December 30, 2013

172/365 - Burger for Lunch

172/365 - TGIFridays' Bacon Cheeseburger
TGI Fridays' Bacon Cheeseburger
Japanese food is probably my all-time favorite type of food. I really enjoyed eating them in Japan. That doesn't mean I don't crave for something else every now and then. So today I got a bacon cheeseburger when Maica, Martina, and I went out.

Burgers. So good. To be honest, the Big Mac I ate in Kyoto was good, but it seemed pretty small. This burger I had satisfied my appetite.

Was it the best burger I ever had? Hell no. I've had better. But I haven't had a good burger in a while.


Sunday, December 29, 2013

171/365 - Getting to Know You

171/365 - Chula the Cat
Finally got a still shot of Chula the Cat.
Starting to get a feel for the G16. I'm discovering some features that I like, like the AF tracking on auto mode. I've also been practicing with the white balance adjustments so I can get the right colors on my pictures.


Top Five Hatchbacks I'd Want to Own

Hot hatches are pretty popular, not just in the Philippines but also worldwide. Here's a quick post of the top five hatches sold locally that I would want to own. I'll still be using the same considerations I have for family cars. Space, practicality, looks, etc.

1. Subaru Impreza WRX STi Hatchback A/T

So much for practicality. This car is both expensive and too high-powered as a daily driver. However, the STi has been a dream car of mine since I got bitten by the car bug in Gran Turismo 2. The STi looks mean, seats five, and has amazing performance. So yes, this is the hatchback I would most like to own. And by the way, I'll be wanting the automatic transmission so I won't be as hassled in Metro Manila's horrible traffic conditions.

2. Kia Rio 5-door 1.4L A/T

This is the next hatchback I'd like to own. A big step down from the STi, I know. But this one wins it on looks. It reminds me a lot of the VW Golf and VW Polo hatchbacks. Very European in styling, with a decent sized 1.4L engine that seems very practical for the streets here. The rear seats also fold 60/40 so it can still haul long packages, provided it fits.

3. Honda Jazz 1.5L A/T

Ever since the first version of the Jazz came out here in the Philippines I'd always been a fan. It seems perfectly designed to me. It has decent space and height inside, it looks great outside, and it certainly is a very practical car to own. The only reason this falls below the Rio is I like the Rio's looks better.

4. Ford Fiesta 1.0L EcoBoost with Powershift

Now we're talking practicality. The Ford Fiesta 1.0L EcoBoost engine makes this the most practical choice among the five hatchbacks I want. I'd always liked the way the Fiesta looks, and Ken Block made me an even bigger fan. As an aside, a client at work owns a 2011 Ford Fiesta and he purchased a big brake kit for the front wheels, so I'm guessing it's also fun to drive.

5. Toyota Yaris 1.5L A/T

The Yaris rounds out this list. It doesn't seem as spacious as the other cars above, and it doesn't look as great as the others either. But I do like this more than the other hatches available in the market. And I do still have some loyalty to Toyota because of my family's experience with their cars.

Why didn't I include European hatches? Because honestly, I'm still not that big a fan of the available European cars here (BMW and Audi). If the VW Golf was here it would easily crack the top five.

The Honda CR-V also didn't make the cut since it really isn't that spacious. It's basically a 3-door, 2+2 seater. All the other cars in my list are 5-doors.

The Suzuki Swift also didn't make the cut because I like the Yaris better. I'm not a big fan of the Hyundais, and the Ford Focus was something I never considered.


Saturday, December 28, 2013

170/365 - The Canon G16 Amateur Review

170/365 - G16 Full Auto Shot
Canon G16 Full Auto Mode
My mom wanted my Lumix LX7 and gave me some Christmas money to buy it's replacement. Lucky for me, Canon had just released its newest camera, the Canon G16.

I did some quick research to determine if it was worth replacing my trusty and beloved LX7. Most of my research said yes, so I eventually caved in and bought one. Here is my quick review based on the past few days experience I've had using the G16.

Before I continue I would like to add this quick disclaimer: I AM NOT A PROFESSIONAL PHOTOGRAPHER. This is an amateur review. I am just an enthusiast. Most of my review will not be technical, I will just let you know how the camera worked for me. If you're looking for the nitty gritty review with the ISO quality and the graining and other technical aspects, please look for the professional reviews done in the professional websites.

I won't be complaining here about the controls since I've gotten so used to the LX7 that everything was second nature to me. I do need to familiarize myself with the G16 and it will take time so you won't be hearing too much about layout and controls in my gripes. Let's start off with the differences between the G16 and the LX7. I'll start with things I enjoyed from the LX7 that I'm missing in the G16.
  • When you buy the G16 all you get is the camera, the battery, a charger, a strap, and the manual. You have to download the software online. There is no cable included to connect it to your PC. Fortunately I do own another Canon, my 30D, so thankfully it's cable fits the G16's like a glove. The LX7 came with a cable and a installer CDs for the programs, aside from the items I mentioned above.
  • There is no panoramic shot option on the G16. I have no idea why. That is a feature I sorely miss because I did enjoy using the LX7's panoramic mode a lot.
  • The LX7 offers manual white balance control. Something the G16 lacks. You can do a semi-manual adjustment in the latter by selecting one of the pre-selected WB options then fine tuning it using the front scroll wheel.
  • Switching between aspect ratios in the LX7 is as easy as flicking a switch. With the G16 you have to open the menu and fiddle around a bit to get your desired aspect ratio.
  • The G16 has wifi. I haven't bothered reading about it yet, because I don't really need to use it yet.
Okay, on to the positives.

You saw the quality of the automatic shot above. It does look good and the image is crisp and clean, if a bit overexposed.

G16 Manual Focus Aperture Priority Shot
Manual focus close up, 1600 ISO, aperture priority.
I usually prefer using aperture priority, and the shot above was taken using that setting. I had to go with a high ISO because the wind was blowing and the leaf was small. But overall I was impressed with the shot. I think I forgot to adjust exposure and left it at a stop or so overexposed. The reason? Familiarizing myself with the controls.

G16 Toy Camer170/365 - G16 Fisheye Shota Shot
G16's Toy Camera effect.
The toy camera effect above is similar to what the LX7 has. Except if I'm not mistaken, you can adjust the aspect ratio of the LX7's pictures but the G16 is stuck to 4:3. You can choose between three moods, cool, normal, and warm. I chose cool for this photo.

G16 Fisheye Shot
Martina as seen from the G16's fisheye mode.
Here is something the LX7 doesn't have - a fisheye mode. It's amusing. But I'm not that big a fan of it yet, since this is the first time I'll be using this. Again, I don't remember if you can change aspect ratios or not, since this image is at 4:3 and I prefer shooting at 16:9.

G16 Miniature Shot
Canon G16's Miniature Camera effect.
Here's a miniature effect shot. The LX7 doesn't have this either, and I do like the look it produces. You can choose between 16:9 and 4:3 aspect ratios, I know because I took another photo using 16:9 but didn't bother uploading it.

Finally a video I took using the 60fps full HD mode of the G16. On the camera it looks awesome, but I had to compress it to upload it to youtube. The video on the G16 is better than the LX7's, so far. I'll probably be able to judge it better when I take some more videos.

Other comments I have? The G16 is a bit more compact than the LX7, and sticks out a lot less. Maybe because the G16 is black and my LX7 is white. The colors produced by the G16 are also different than the LX7. A bit more subdued. I may have to fiddle some more with the options to maximize the camera.

Overall, am I happy with my purchase / gift? Yes. It's a new camera with new challenges. I hope I can maximize it the way I did with my LX7. The great thing is I can keep practicing and improving.

Would I recommend you buying one? Yes, if you can afford one. Buy it, learn how to operate it, use it, love it, and have fun.


Friday, December 27, 2013

163 - 169/365 - Japan!

163/365 - Kansai to Kyoto
Touchdown, Kansai! Riding the last train to Kyoto.
164/365 - Ramen, Baby, Ramen!
Day 2 dinner: Ramen!
165/365 - Hire katsu and Yabu Rolls
Day 3 Lunch: Hire Katsu and Yuba-wrapped Vegetables.
166/365 - Maica and Martina at Kinkaku-ji
Maica and Martina at Kinkaku-ji.
167/365 - Okonomiyaki!!!
Hiroshima-style Okonomiyaki
168/365 - At Universal City in Osaka
In line at Universal City Osaka.
169/365 - Waiting for the Train
Waiting for the train to Kansai.
Maica, Martina, and I were very fortunate to spend the holidays in Japan with courtesy of my mom.

I've always been very amazed at how technologically advanced Japan is, and yet they still maintain ties to their cultural heritage. Not only that, but most of them (if not all of them) are still very disciplined and organized.

Filipinos could learn a lot from the Japanese.

I miss Japan already.


Friday, December 20, 2013

161, 162/365 - Christmas Break

161/365 - Mirror Ball
Christmas at the office.
162/365 - Old House in Manila
I saw this old house when I was out on official business today.
I might not be able to post anything this coming holidays because I'll be taking a vacation with my family.

Happy holidays to everyone!


Wednesday, December 18, 2013

160/365 - Free Time

160/365 - Festivities Galore
Nice ceiling decor.
This year my perspective on free time has changed immensely. I used to not like going on unpaid absences from work, until I wondered if it was really worth a day's pay to have some free time I could spend doing what I wanted?

No amount of money in the world can pay for the time you could have spent with people you love. You could have good memories or bad memories during your time together. Either way, you still have memories you made with that person. And I think that is worth a day's pay.

I'm trying to change the way I see things. Hopefully for the better. Along with this, I'm also trying to change the things I do on my spare time. Again, also hopefully for the better.


Tuesday, December 17, 2013

159/365 - My Toolbox

159/365 - Walrus Nose
One of my four Hotwheels F1 cars.
I've always wanted my own toolbox. I see my dad's tools and I wish I could get some of my own.

I technically own some tools already - a few screwdriver sets, an allen wrench set, and a pair of folding pliers or two. But it isn't enough. I want to have enough basic tools that I can fiddle around with any minor housework I can do. And no, I'd rather not borrow my dad's tools. Because he keeps it arranged the way he wants and I really don't want to mess up his way of organizing stuff.

Fortunately I found a site that lists down the basic tools you would need in a toolbox. You can find it here. I may not get everything in the list. I plan to get some that aren't.

Bottom line is, I want a toolbox filled with tools I can call my own.


Monday, December 16, 2013

158/365 - Motoring in the Philippines

158/365 - Passing Time
Waiting for the food to arrive.
Early this morning, a local public utility bus met a horrible accident relatively near where we live.

Maica and I were at work already, but we were both worried concerned. Fortunately for us no one we knew was directly affected by the accident.

UNFORTUNATELY, people lost their lives. They had nothing to do with what happened yet they were the ones who perished. My thoughts go out to the families of those directly affected.

It just shows the sad state of motoring in the Philippines. I was planning on ranting here but I'd rather not.

Let us all just hope that eventually motorists in the Philippines finally understand how important it is to observe road courtesy, maintain proper discipline when driving, and follow the goddamned traffic rules.


Sunday, December 15, 2013

156, 157/365 - A New "Old Sidearm"

156/365 - Full Freezer
Newly defrosted freezer.
157/365 - New Old Gear
I inherited my mom's old Nokia N8. Better camera, might be safer to use in public.
My mom upgraded her phone, so I was fortunate enough to inherit her old N8.

I haven't used it long enough to give a thorough, albeit really late, review. So far I've set my alarms and figured out how NOT to access the internet using my GSM provider.

So what did I mean by "sidearm" in the title above? It means I've got a new camera.

I've started a new job but if you notice most of my pics have still been at my house. The reason is simple, I'd be half-crazy if I started bringing my camera to work everyday and pulling it out to take pictures. I walk to work everyday. It's a bit risky to do that, so I needed a phone with a decent camera to start taking some of my daily pictures.
Rest assured that my LX7 is still my main weapon of choice. I will still use it but for now this phone will have to do the job for me.


Friday, December 13, 2013

155/365 - My Bigger Regret

155/365 - Them Boots...
My Docs, still not as broken in as I want it to be.
One of the bigger regrets I currently have is that it took me this long to realize a lot of things. Things that had I started focusing on them years ago would have probably made my life a lot easier now.

I guess I was too worried about leaving my comfort zone, I was too complacent and pampered. And now, I have a lot of catching up to do.

I don't think it's too late, it never is. I just have to work extra hard to do my catching up.

Looking at it from a different angle, I'm also glad I finally grew up.


Thursday, December 12, 2013

154/365 - Direction

154/365 - Travis
Meet Travis.
The events of this past year have been amazing. They were eye opening, they were happy, they were sad, but most importantly, they gave me direction.

It's not like I never had a plan before, it's just that now things seem to be coming more clearly for me. I'm feeling very good about myself, I'm feeling more positive as a person, and to be honest I'm starting to (finally!) realize that sacrifices have to be made in order to achieve goals.

You'll probably notice that I keep saying that like a mantra in most of my recent posts. And it's true. I'm not only constantly saying that to remind me, but also to prevent me from being impatient or getting frustrated. And I hope that eventually I will have no need to repeat it to myself because I'll have taken it to heart.


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

153/365 - Onward to the Automotive Industry

153/365 - Signed Tokyo Drift DVD
Francis gave me a DVD of Tokyo Drift, and Keiichi Tsuchiya signed it!
I don't remember if I mentioned this before, but I now work in the automotive industry. One of the perks is getting to attend some events, and I was able to attend Day 1 of Drift Muscle Philippines last Saturday, Dec. 7.

And my awesome boss got me a copy of Tokyo Drift that I got Keiichi Tsuchiya to sign!


Tuesday, December 10, 2013

152/365 - Finally, Some Good News

152/365 - My Wife's Pasalubong
Some giveaways from a wedding shower my wife attended today.
It was a pretty good day in the office. We were able to make a sale today, and the person who bought the product was pretty happy and thankful he was able to purchase it.

Now, I won't be disclosing my new job yet. You can guess it is related to sales. So yes, I have shifted careers. I don't know yet if this is my new path, or if this is temporary, but I am enjoying the ride and learning as much as I can.

However I do have to find ways to keep my 3D skills from rusting over. Hopefully I can come up with a plan to improve and update my demo reel with personal works. I have no idea how relevant this will be in the future, but I don't plan on forgetting my past either. Besides, being a 3D artist might be a good hobby for me.


Monday, December 09, 2013

151/365 - Keeping the Rust Away

151/365 - Patrick Ewing
This picture has NOTHING to do with my post.
I may have said my "See you laters" to the 3D industry, but that does not mean I will stop practicing.

I will now fight my laziness and force myself to set aside some time every week to use some 3D software for practice. Just so I won't be left out. And if I can build up enough momentum, I might develop some other skills related to 3D to make me an even better 3D artist.

Now I'm learning a lot of new things. It's a bit overwhelming, but very worth it.


150/365 - Too Much Video Games

150/365 - Too Much Video Games
Yes, this IS Pokemon Black. No, I don't own a 3DS.
I may have stepped away from the 3D industry now. But that doesn't mean I'm leaving it. Sad to say, I still spend a good portion of my free time playing video games. The Nintendo DS pictured above is a good example.

I know I have to find a 3D project to do at home. I have to keep whatever 3D skills I have practiced just in case something makes me go back to the industry. Besides, my friends say I need a hobby. Why not 3D?


Saturday, December 07, 2013

148, 149/365 - Maica's Birthday

148/365 - Someone's Birthday is Tomorrow
Someone's having her birthday tomorrow...
149/365 - Dinner at MoA
Maica's birthday dinner at MoA.
My wife turns thirty-four today.

I spent most of her birthday on field work, since I now work six days a week. It's a big change, and a big sacrifice of time I spend with my family. But like I said before, I think it's time I started sacrificing now so that in the future I can do whatever I want.

I want to be successful. I want to be able to provide almost anything my family wants. And I want to be able to have all the time in the world to spend as I please. But I can't have those without sacrificing and making sure I achieve those goals. So here I am, sacrificing.

Happy birthday, Maica. I'm doing these things for us.


Thursday, December 05, 2013

147/365 - Putting Mileage on my Feet

147/365 - Really Used Feet
I've been doing a lot of walking lately.
These past three days have been somewhat amazing for my feet. Like I said before, I walk to work every morning. My route is about 2km long and it takes me around twenty-five to thirty minutes. Not a bad pace, considering I'm wearing my work attire and I'm lugging my backpack filled with notebooks and my packed lunch.

It has been tiring. But I'm glad I have the opportunity to actually do some physical activity everyday. I'm trying to match this with eating a bit less, so that hopefully when the "intense" Christmas celebrations arrive, with the Christmas parties, get-togethers, and dinners, I'll have shed enough weight that I won't get fat after the holidays.

Another great thing about this is that I'm also sort of preparing myself for my family's holiday vacation. We're going somewhere out-of-town and we'll be doing lots of walking.


Wednesday, December 04, 2013

146/365 - Sleepy Christmas Mornings

146/365 - Sleepy Christmas Mornings
Enjoying the cold mornings. Either that or feeling really, really cold.
Decembers are really cold in the Philippines. Not as cold as other places, yes, but the cold you feel is still a pleasant kind of cold.

I saw this cat outside work, sleeping. I really have no clue if it is enjoying the cool morning or feeling real cold. But when I saw it, I admit to feeling a tinge of jealousy. How I wish I could also sleep late and enjoy the cool weather while it lasts.

However, Jack Nicholson's Joker said it best: "You can't make an omelette without breaking some eggs." Meaning I can't really get what I want without doing anything to get it. Similar to the old saying, "God only helps those who help themselves."

Strange that I've been so retrospective lately.


Tuesday, December 03, 2013

145/365 - New Job, New Experiences

145/365 - Got to Use My Bag Again
Finally got to use my bag for work again.
So I started my new job today. It wasn't really anything that I expected, mainly because I really didn't know what to expect.

I think I said this before, but I left my previous career as a 3D artist and moved to a new career in the automotive industry. Since I have zero experience there, all my expectations basically were wrong.

So how was my first day? Very tiring. I was not prepared for the tons of manual labor we had to do, moving inventory around, moving around a lot to get to the stock room and back, and all the information I was learning during the day was a wee bit overwhelming.

To be honest, I feel great. I have a job again, my first day was very productive, and now I'm doing things my wife and I know I hate doing... Say again?

This new job has given me new experiences. I think it also will help me break out of my comfort zone. I've been spending too much of my life making choices that are comfortable for me. I think it's time I finally did some things I don't like doing, making new sacrifices that will eventually pay off - not only financially but also in my growth as a better person.

I really won't be giving any opinion about the job yet. It's too early for me to give an honest opinion. I will approach this new opportunity with an open mind. Hopefully greater things will happen.


144/365 - Starting the Month with some Birthdays and Anxieties

144a/365 - Birthday Girl with her Daddy
Martina the birthday girl with her very proud and happy daddy.
144b/365 - Martina's Peppa Pig Red Velvet Cake
Martina's Peppa Pig themed red velvet cake.
December usually starts with a bang for me. There are three very important people who all celebrate their birthdays in the first week of December.

The bang gets even bigger this year since I'm finally starting my new job on December 3. After spending a little over two months unemployed, I finally found a job.

Not that the job was hard to find, since I knew the owner of the company I am joining. The reason why it took so long for me to take the job is pretty complicated, and something I'd not rather broadcast in the cyberworld for anyone to see.

So what am I doing up so damn early? Aside from the fact that my wife and I leave the house early to avoid traffic, I also woke up around 2am. It was probably because I was already asleep by 8pm last night, but also because of the new job.

I'm not really good at controlling my anxieties yet. A new job features new challenges, and my biggest challenge right now is parking space. Seems petty, yes? Indeed. The reasons why it bothers me are:
  1. My new office is above a car service center, so once the parking outside needs to be used by clients' cars, I'll have to move to the back roads and park along the street.
  2. It's a new area, I'm a bit unfamiliar with the streets and one-ways and side streets. Also, I'm unfamiliar with how safe it is to park along the streets. Makati is notorious for being towing cars parked along some streets and this sort of bothers me.
  3. The car I drive isn't mine. So if anything happens to it (knock on wood) I don't know what I'd do.
  4. Oh, and I suck at parallel parking. Because I try to avoid doing that like the plague.
One suggestion I'm thinking of doing is parking near my wife's office and commuting to my new office. The big problem here is that parking in Makati isn't cheap. Right now with what I'll be taking home, this will test my budget to the limits. I'll have to see what happens.

Then again, to be honest, I hope I'm over thinking things. Maybe once I get into the groove I'll look back and laugh at all these anxieties of mine.

I just wish I could find a way to fix the way I think.


Sunday, December 01, 2013

143/365 - December Rolls In

143/365 A - Santas
Santa figurines Martina and I painted a few weeks ago.
143/365 B - 30D Shot
Another 30D shot. I'm still rusty.
Finally, December has arrived. One last month before the end of the year, and the arrival of a new one.

I have been very introspective these past few months, and what a journey it has been. I always thought I analyzed myself a lot before, but now I just feel like I've been dissecting myself from head-to-toe.

It's all for the good, I suppose. Looking back, there are some things I think I'd like to do differently (quitting my previous job without a new job waiting for me is one of them) if I had the chance. However, this does not mean I am ungrateful for the experiences I've had these past months.

I'm becoming more self-aware of my faults, and I've been more conscious trying to overcome them in whatever way I can. I just lack that consistency necessary to be a really better person.

The only disturbing thing recently is that I've been feeling very depressed. More so than usual, and I don't think it's because I'm unemployed. Part of me is feeling very self-defeating. This is the major challenge I face right now, and I'm hoping that these next few chapters of my life can fill me with the strength to overcome these weaknesses of mine.