Friday, December 4, 2009

Awesome Philippine Skies

Wherever you are in the world, God's canvas is simply awesome.

A couple of days ago, our Philippine skies spread a textured carpet of clouds that gloriously highlighted the beautiful sunset. If only I had a better camera.

I could almost hear a host of angels singing, heralding the birth of the Messiah. Driving home as the sun dipped deeper into the far horizon, flecks of fuschia glistened westward, but it happened so fast the pink clouds turned a hazy purple as I finally found the perfect parking space.

The night before that, this same blanket of shredded clouds shrouded around a shy moon, which at one time was framed with soft edges that looked like a watchful eye. To me, it seemed like a reptilian eye because of the scaly effect of the softly-lit layered clouds. To my daughter, it was like the Eye of God.

Awesome. Truly awesome Philippine skies.

Philippine Fruits in Season

Atis! Chicos! Mangoes! Three of my favorite Philippine fruits in season during the last quarter of the year.

Atis. Also called sweet sop, sugar apple, or chirimoya, a relative of the custard apple belonging to the annona family. Brought to the Philippines by the Spanish colonizers from South America, the fruit has sweet white flesh whose black seeds are easily cultivated into small trees that can mature between 10 and 20 feet and that will bear fruit after a year.

The green grenade-looking fruit atis is rich in vitamin C, Thiamine, Riboflavin, Niacin, Carotene, Ash, Phosphorus, Calcium, Iron, Carbohydrates, Protein, Tryptophan, Lysine, and Methionine.

Chico. Also called sapodilla, this brown round to oblong fruit with shiny black seeds is soft, slightly gritty, and sweet. Its tree called chiku in English is about as big in size and height as the atis tree.

The cico's sapota juice is rich in sugars, proteins, vitamin C, phenolics, carotenoids, and minerals such as iron, copper, zinc, calcium and potassium.

Mango. Heart-shaped and bright yellow, the mango which is hailed the most majestic of all Philippine fruits has a twin counterpart from India. While the indian variety is intolerant of humidity, has flushes of bright red new growth that are subject to mildew, Philippine mango tolerates excess moisture, has pale green or red new growth and resists mildew. The mango is a good source of vitamins A, C, and D.

This should not be confused with the Philippine "indian mango" which has green skin, even when at its ripest. This green mango is best when near ripe with its sweet-sour crunchy-juicy flesh best dipped in plain salt, or soy sauce with optional spiced vinegar, or traditionally prepared shrimp paste called bagoong.

Philippine fruits in season are said to be at their sweetest and most succulent when the sun is at its meanest and hottest. The best atis, chico, and mango should be firm, not too hard, not too mushy for your perfect pick of Philippine fruits in season.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Philippine Driving Techiques by Evil Women Drivers

Philippine driving takes another dimension if you are a woman driver. While making a stupid driving mistake, you can always hear the other driver mouth the words, "Ah, kay babaye!" ("Oh, it's a woman!") rather condescendingly. When situations like this arise, take it to your advantage, as well as with other evil-woman-driver techniques:

Philippine Driving Technique No. 1 - Look innocent. There's no forgivable sight in Philippine highways as a woman driver. Even if you know you can drive better than a man, you can still pull through a driving mistake by pulling over an angelic look. A smile can go a long, long mile.

Philippine Driving Technique No. 2 - Go around the red light. You can do this when trapped in an intersection with a vacant lot or a gasoline station around the corner. As soon as the red light is on, make a right if the corner gasoline station is to your right, drive past it, and go back to the main thoroughfare. Do the same to a left corner gasoline station.

Philippine Driving Technique No. 3 - Drive through the long queue. If it's especially long and torturous on your side of the lane and it's so free as a bowling alley on the opposite lane.

Philippine Driving Technique No. 4 - Never follow a jeepney. It's notorious stops at every corner and shoulder where a passenger alights or awaits at their own bidding can make you crazy stopping at every five meters or so as well.

Philippine Driving Technique No. 5 - Never give way. Stick your nose as close to the next car or else you'll get cut for a long, long queue of cars. In these streets, there are no gentlemen nor ladies.

Well, for evil women drivers only. But sometimes, when driving in the Philippines, with all the pandemonium going around on its streets, these driving techniques may, although not safe, may come in handy.

Basic Calculator Program

I have made my own calculator! Using Microsoft Access, this is the crude Design View of my calculator.

Basic Calculator Programming Step No. 1: Create new blank form, click text box, create 3 blank text boxes. The computer will assign them their respective labels, e.g. Text0, Text 2, and Text4. Sometimes, the number at the end of the word Text varies so take note of this.

Basic Calculator Programming Step No. 2: Click buttons to create command buttons for addition (+), subtraction ( - ), multiplication ( * ), and division ( / ), as well as "clear".

Basic Calculator Programming Step No. 3: Right click on the command buttons, when the form wizard menu appears, click cancel. Right click again so that another drop down menu appears, go to "Event Builder", then click "Build Code". This will take you to the Visual Basic code builder to customize the commands for the basic calculator function buttons.

Basic Calculator Programming Step No. 4: For the addition (+) command button, type

Text0 = Val(Text2) + Val(Text4)

For the subtraction ( - ) command button, type

Text0 = Text2 + Text4

For the multiplication ( * ) command button, type

Text0 = Text2 * Text4

For the division ( / ) command button, type

Text0 = Text2 / Text4

For the "clear" command button, type

Text0 = " "
Text2 = " "
Text4 = " "

The program should be free of errors otherwise the debugger will appear highlighting in yellow your errors for correction.

Basic Calculator Programming Step No. 5: Go back to your crude calculator in Design View, refine the buttons a bit, and change to Form View. Voila! Your very own basic calculator!

*Note: It is best to try each command button if the first one is working properly. If so, you can simply copy + paste the line command and replace the symbols of the command function as needed, for your running program of a basic calculator.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Ice Skating in a Parallel World

Ice skating! The last time I did it was when I was single and shameless -- ice skating wearing the thinnest (at least long sleeved blouse) and slacks and the burning desire to ice skate no matter what. That was at SM Megamall in the early 90's.

This year, I went ice skating again, rather by force, by my daughter who wanted to do it with me, on her Day Two of ice skating. At least this time, a friend (Ruel A.) has forewarned, thus forearmed us, about what to wear when ice skating -- including our very own socks.

It was at the Mall of Asia when Bea had her first taste of ice skating. I had to decline and let her go ice skating with Ruel and his daughter Yuki while I go somewhere else.

Of course I lingered for a while, watching Bea's first few steps on the ice. From my view several meters away, a sudden rush of flashback overwhelmed me as I saw my daughter fumbling and tumbling in her ice skates, like a baby taking her first steps. Unmindful of the other ice skating figures from the neophytes to the pros, Bea struggled with her very best as she tried to pull herself up along the metal bars on the rink side. She stumbled, she fell. My heart rushed out to her, but I couldn't help her, and she must stand up on her own.

Suddenly, I saw the whole skating rink as a microcosm of the world populated by ice skaters from all walks of life. And there, of all the people ice skating about, is the one person I love, the one person I will always have in mind. She has a story to tell that nobody else would really care about. And each one of them have their own life stories nobody else would really care about. Except for the one who parents for them. For the one who loves each and every one of them.

I cried insanely by myself as I pondered upon this thought among a crowd of watchers -- parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters. I wondered how God must be looking at each one of us. Only He knows each of our individual stories as we go about ice skating through life. Only He cares for each and everyone of us. Because He made us. We are His.

And there we go about, ice skating in this icy cold world, minding our own businesses, sometimes forgetting that He allows us to fall so that we can stand up on our own, stronger this time, to face the world with more confidence in Him as we go on, ice skating.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

SEO Your Articles Easy

SEO simply means "search engine optimized". This is because of the vastness of the internet, your article gets lost in a sea of gazillions of other related articles. Thus you use a search engine to literally search for these articles. Here are some simplified tips to SEO your articles easy (painting by Nonoy Etabag-I, a social realist artist whose painting themes usually focus on social commentaries about poverty and politicians).

SEO Tip No. 1. Use Key Words Positionally - When you arrive at a search engine, say google or yahoo, you type in your key word. For example your key word is "poverty". Position your key words so that it is search engine optimized: as much as possible, make it the first word of your title, the first word of your paragraph, sprinkled all over your article, and the last word of your article. Forget redundancy. The rule here is REDUNDANCY. The more redundant you are with your key words, the more search engine optimized your article is, thus it will most likely land at the top of the search engine results page. Creative writing license also takes into a new direction by challenging you to twist your article to start and end with a key word, but still read-worthy as well as search engine optimized.

SEO Tip No. 2. Ratio Your Key Word Ratio to at Least 10% - So that if your article has a word count of 300 words, make sure that 10 or more key words (e.g. "poverty") are well spread throughout your article in order to be search engine optimized. There are dirty tricks like spamming your article with all key words or hiding 1,000 key words by coloring it white against a white background in a desparate attempt to be search engine optimized, but these are illegal and your account will be deleted for this. Remember also that CONTENT IS KING. Not only is your article riddled with search engine optimized key words, but that it has also good content, spelling and grammar checked, so that it will have a professional look and credible image.

SEO Tip No. 3. Set Your Key Words to Bold Typeface - For obvious reasons, in order to be more search engine optimized. You may have already noticed by now why the bold repetitions of search engine optimized key words in this blog.

SEO Tip No. 4. Use Key Words in Attention-Grabbing Titles - "Understanding Poverty" is understandable, but it will not get the attention of your readers even if it is at the top of your search engine results. Why not make it more graphic, like: "Poverty: Sucking the Blood Out of Poor Juan Dela Cruz", or "Poverty: the Pinoy Politicians' Legacy", or "Poverty: How to Get Rich in the Midst of Financial Depression". The more appealing your title, the more it is likely to get clicked on search engine results.

SEO Tip No. 5. Use Key Words in Bullets - Articles in bullet form are easier to read as well as search engine optimized. Even in bullets, make sure your key word is there. Notice the deliberate effort in putting the SEO key word in every bullet. That is how to increase readership in your blog and generate more traffic by making your article search engine optimized.

Sisi, Anyone?

(pronounced si-SI) is the smaller cousin of the talaba, an oyster that is as tastier as it is more compact than its bigger counterpart.

The problem with the sisi is that it is also harder to open, with smaller and tighter compartments, thus prying open the sisi yourself (which is the more exciting way to eat talaba) poses more danger of getting cut or injured by the sisi opener, a tool that can be anything from a small knife to a mini screw driver.

But worry no more because the sisi comes to you pre-opened, preserved in salt (gi-na-MUS) and bottled, which recently costs PhP80.00 per bottle. Just pour into a small plate a desired amount, squeeze a few drops of calamansi or lemon juice and you're now ready to enjoy that sea-sweet goodness of this delectable oyster, the sisi.

Vermicompost Fertilizer: Vermicomposting Made Easy

Vermicompost fertilizer may look ewwy but this technology in organic farming may just save the world.

What is vermicomposting? It is the process of producing organic fertilizer (vermicompost) using agricultural wastes through the disgetive action of earthworms, and not just your ordinary garden earthworms (because it does more harm than good to your garden top soil) but the African nightcrawler (eudrilus euginae).

According to Dr. Rafael D. Guerrero III and Mrs. Lina Villegas, vermicompost is a high quality organic fertilizer that contains up to 8%-7%-1% of NPK (Nitrogen-Phosphorus-Potassium), as well as trace elements, depending on the quality of the substrate.

Here are the easy steps in vermicomposting:

Vermicomposting step #1. Site Selection - must be shady, free from flooding, near a water source, cool, and near a material source.

Vermicomposting step #2. Bed Preparation - Prepare wormbeds 1m x 4m x 2ft high or compost heap style. You may also use old or unused basin, pots, sack or any suitable container for backyard vermicomposting.

Vermicomposting step #3
. Gathering of Materials/Substrate - They are basically from two sources:
  • Carbon - grass, sawdust, leaves, coconut husks, corn stovers, stalks, rice straw, paper, boxes, etc.
  • Nitrogen - peanut, hagonoy, ipil-ipil, madre de cacao, centrosema, malunggay, katuray, baging-ilog, and all animal wastes except human, dog, and cat excrement because of the presence of e-coli bacteria.
However, eucalyptus leaves are not advisable because of their bitter taste.

Having gathered your materials, consider this as your Day 1 in the stages of vermicomposting. Afterwards you are ready for the next stages:

Vermicomposting stage #1. Anaerobic Stage (Day 2-15) - Mix a ratio of 3:1 Carbon-Nitrogen (CN) chopped or shredded substrate, sprinkle with water if the mixture is too dry. Place inside a sack and tie it up, or place inside a big can and cover it. Store in a shady area and leave the tied sack or covered container unopened for 10-15 days.

Vermicomposting stage #2. Aerobic Stage (Day 16-45) - Place the anaerobically decomposed substrate on the prepared beds 6 inches thick, unpressed. Sprinkle with water and maintain cool temperature of the substrate (ideally 5-7 drops of water when squeezed). Put the worms the next day.

Vermicomposting stage #3. Migration (Day 30-45) - If substrate is 80-90% consumed, processed and decomposed, allow the worm to migrate in orchid net/onion bag with the anaerobically-decomposed substrate in it.

Vermicomposting stage #4. Harvesting (Day 45-60) - Pull out the substrate where the worms have migrated and place in vacant beds. Manual picking of remaining worms is recommended. Do not water the bed a week before harvesting. The by-product of the process is vermicompost and earthworm biomass.

Vermicomposting stage #5. Storage and Farm Consumption - Air dry the vermicompost up to 30% humidity and seal in plastic bags for sale or for personal use.

Apply your vermicompost directly in the field as any other organic fertilizer or foliar fertilizer using vermi-tea.

Vermicompost is also used as one of the ingredients for "bukashi" which is made of basura (garbage), chicken manure, rice husks (must be made into charcoal) and vermicompost.

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