Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Fun, like, you know. Fun.

Tagged by ze Queen.

THREE NAMES YOU GO BY:
1. Sarah
2. Sar (Kuya Nestor, parents, anyone who wants to piss me off except for the former two)
3. Mase

THREE SCREEN NAMES YOU HAVE HAD:
1. smartsimpleton
2. psyko
3. I don't remember. Hehe.

THREE PHYSICAL THINGS YOU LIKE ABOUT YOURSELF:
1. My skin color
2. My hair, most of the time
3. My waist

THREE PHYSICAL THINGS YOU DON'T LIKE ABOUT YOURSELF:
1. My hair, most of the time
2. My thighs that are ready for the butcher's board
3. Currently sprouting pimples like a hormonal teenager

THREE PARTS OF YOUR HERITAGE:
1. Chinese (just like everybody else)
2. Filipino (just like everybody else)
3. Spanish (just like everybody else) / Muslim

THREE THINGS THAT SCARE YOU:
1. Coraline's Other Mother
2. Having no purpose
3. High drops

THREE OF YOUR EVERYDAY ESSENTIALS:
1. A book
2. FOOD (nudges Djong)
3. Music

THREE THINGS YOU ARE WEARING RIGHT NOW:
1. A black cardigan
2. Comfy pants
3. Indian-inspired shoes stolen from my Mom

THREE OF YOUR FAVORITE BANDS OR MUSICAL ARTISTS:
1. Jamie Cullum
2. Vertical Horizon
3. Dave Matthews Band

THREE OF YOUR FAVORITE SONGS:
1. High and Dry (by Radiohead and covered excellently by Mr. Cullum)
2. Nightswimming (REM)
3. Linus and Lucy (David Benoit)

THREE THINGS YOU WANT IN A RELATIONSHIP:
1. Room to maneuver
2. White lies, some of the time
3. A real person?

TWO TRUTHS AND A LIE (in no particular order):
1. I heart Felicity Huffman (Desperate Housewives fame; do watch!)
2. I would love to join American Idol
3. I don't steal other people's food

THREE PHYSICAL THINGS ABOUT THE PREFERRED SEX THAT APPEAL TO YOU:
1. Height
2. I like 'em long and lean
3. RRRRR factor (what's RRRRR to me might not be RRRRR to you)

THREE OF YOUR FAVORITE HOBBIES:
1. Reading
2. Sleeping during the weekends
3. Listening to music

THREE THINGS YOU WANT TO DO REALLY BADLY RIGHT NOW:
1. Hold up Fully Booked and Powerbooks - stick 'em up!
2. Have my hair cut and shaped
3. Hug my nieces and nephew tight

THREE CAREERS YOU'RE CONSIDERING/YOU'VE CONSIDERED:
1. Journalist/reporter
2. Researcher at a think tank
3. Yaya

THREE PLACES YOU WANT TO GO ON VACATION:
1. Prince Edward Island, Canada (am such a geek)
2. Palawan
3. Amsterdam

THREE KID'S NAMES YOU LIKE:
1. Elizabeth
2. Lawrence
3. Leonora (for my great-grandmother)

THREE THINGS YOU WANT TO DO BEFORE YOU DIE:
1. Get published in Newsbreak/Economist
2. Go around the world for one whole year
3. Find my purpose, dammit

THREE WAYS THAT YOU ARE STEREOTYPICALLY A BOY:
1. I can whallop your ass in most Playstation RPGs
2. I burp and fart like a man
3. I am allergic to makeup

THREE WAYS THAT YOU ARE STEREOTYPICALLY A GIRL:
1. I prance in front of the mirror
2. I experiment with my hair when at home
3. I hog the bathroom

THREE CELEB CRUSHES:
1. Jamie Cullum
2. Jamie Denton
3. Matt Long (rape me, rape me now)

THREE PEOPLE THAT I WOULD LIKE TO SEE TAKE THIS QUIZ NOW:
1. Kristine
2. Michael S. Macabata
3. The Showroom Manager

Monday, May 30, 2005

Word up.

Mediocre isn't a word that in most normal people's vocabulary, but when push comes to shove, most of them would opt to be average.

In grade five, "mediocre" was one of the words on our spelling list. Unfortunately, our teacher mispronounced the word as "mejoker" instead of "mi-di-o-ker" (bear with the example), a ironic twist of fate that my grade five mind couldn't understand.

In some instances, "mediocre" means "below average", but in the context of most conversations I hear, it seems that they are one and the same. In a slow and steady adjustment, average now isn't good enough. Our ears are fine-tuned; would you rather be called "mediocre" or "average"? Would that reality show be a bigger hit if it was called "Mediocre Joes"? You choose.

Our vocabulary plays a special part in how we treat people and how we want people to treat us. Why settle for "windy" when you can say "blustery"? Why write "It was boring" when you can write "Nothing of significance swept into our lives that day"? Why write "cranky" when you can go with "crotchety"?

Why write "average" when you can go with "mediocre"?

But when it comes to personal description, the words are reversed, because each word brings with it certain beliefs, certain actions. "Average" is a nice, comfortable place to be in, but not "mediocre".

It's funny how we mask so many parts of our lives using euphemisms, half-hoping that our friends hear our silent cry, and half-hoping that they don't.

Words. They're so sharp, they can cut you.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Things that make you feel bad, occasionally.

My friend, Djong, has been subscribed to Yahoo! Daily Wire, where she gets all sorts of interesting information about the world. One of the many things she's shared with me is a website which tells what people accomplished at certain ages in their lives. The clincher is that you put in your own age, and the page then tells you peoples' accomplishments at that age.

I put down 23, my age, and these are some of the things that people accomplished:
  • T. S. Eliot wrote "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock".
  • Margaret Mead traveled to the South Seas as part of a "giant rescue operation" to study primative cultures before they perished.
  • Jack Nicklaus became the youngest golfer to win the Masters.
  • John Keats wrote "Ode on a Grecian Urn", which ends with the lines, "'Beauty is truth, truth beauty,' - that is all / Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know".
And some of the things that are so outlandish that all you can do is laugh outright:
  • At seven, Harper Lee, who later wrote To Kill a Mockingbird, decided she wanted to become a writer. (I love the book, but hello, what's so special about deciding to be a writer at that age?)
  • Michael Weinheimer learned how to calculate square roots at age seven. Three years later, he learned how to tie his shoelaces. (?!)
  • At age five, Gabriel Cortes was thought to be retarded. Four years later his mother was approached by school officials asking permission to advance him two grades. At age 21 he dated three women in one night. At age 24 he routed his adversaries in "Spectre Supreme," becoming the de facto champion at San Jose State. At age 26 he was charged with multiple counts of felony hacking and amazingly bartered them all down to a single misdemeanor. (I bet those are accomplishments.)
  • Albert Einstein did not begin to talk until the age of three. (Not something I'd particularly brag about, but different strokes, I guess.)
  • At age three, Tennessee Williams told his first scary story. (Oooh.)
  • Hungarian composer Franz Liszt gave his first piano concert at the age of 9, or perhaps 11. (Huh?)
Still entertaining, nonetheless. Weinheimer was such a loser, not knowing how to tie his shoelaces until he was 10. I didn't know how to calculate square roots until I was like, 20.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Culture Vulture/The Battle for Books.

Last December, Google inked an agreement with four of the US's top universities, plus Oxford University in England, to digitize their libraries. They have plans to make into digital data more than 12 million books and to make it available for every scholar, researcher, and plain old book maggots like me who otherwise wouldn't have the time or the wherewithal to do so.

Sounds good, right?

Google wants to make information that is customarily offline, online. Their aim on this project is simple: help maintain the preeminence of books and libraries in our increasingly Internet-centric culture by making these information resources an integral part of the online experience. Their words.

I like the idea of gaining access to literature and scholarly works without traveling 3,000 miles or paying a fortune for a copy. I've been a certified netizen (more than) ever since I left college, and I can only search for good articles or verification of information online. And while I won't be able to read through entire books from cover to cover, that's not really the purpose of Google anyway. If I'm able to widen the scope of my reading themes, I'd be glad for new information.

So how will books look like online? According to their website for the project, it depends on the books' copyright. Go here to check how it looks.

For all its good looks, though, there has been a rather heated backlash from Europe. Many countries have expressed fears over "Anglo-American domination" and its subsequent effect on the world.

Failing to digitalize - declared the heads of state in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Poland and Hungary in an appeal to the European Union - is to risk that "this heritage could, tomorrow, not fill its just place in the future geography of knowledge.
Jean-Noel Jeanneney - who as president of the French National Library oversees a collection of 13 million books - presented a vision of Google potentially hijacking "the thought of the world" in a book he published this week entitled, "When Google Challenges Europe."

"I think that this could lead to an imbalance to the benefit of a mainly Anglo-Saxon view of the world," Jeanneney said in a telephone interview. "I think this is a danger." (Sydney Morning Herald)
Others fear that if you're not an author with renown such as Dante Alighieri or the ever-famous William Shakespeare, you might not be found on Google. And that means you might never have existed in the first place.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald article, 23 national libraries of the 25-member European Union have all voiced their approval of a European search engine. But none of them have signed on yet.

As an onlooker, I'm waiting for the next move. I mean, with two titans who represent a good majority of the world's literature, surely everyone wins?

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Mom.

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My mother got married to my dad when she was 18, and my dad was only one year and one week older. The adventure of a lifetime, maybe? For the first three years, my parents inform me, they were little more than fights. They enjoyed a reprieve in this photo. Sweet.

Whenever they fought, Mom would run off to her mom in Novaliches and stay there until my dad fetched her, late at night, to go home to Pasay (where we live now). My dad used to pick up rocks from the street to throw at the dogs who'd come barking and snarling along whenever he went by. It was the only way he could dodge them.

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Mom wasn't finished yet with college when she was pregnant with me. The day of her graduation from college, she was four months pregnant, I think. I'm not too sure of that, but I do love the blouse she wore in this photo. I wonder where it is now.

When she gave birth to me, she was so surprised to see how dark I was. She tells me that when she saw me, the first thought that ran through her mind was "Ay, ang itim naman ng baby ko." Mom is fair, you see. And clearly, I was loved. Very much.

I had to be in the hospital for two weeks after birth because of a skin condition called jaundice. I was left under the incubator, and as Mom wryly says, that didn't help much with my skin color. Yes, I was loved a lot.

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Mom used to be so sneaky when I was a kid. She and I would have our "morning showdown", as she fondly calls them, because I refused to wear the clothes she picked out for me to wear. I know, vanity is a sin. But not all six-year olds wanted to wear a beret when they went to school, particularly if it kept falling off their heads. Not comfortable, believe me.

So what did she do? She decided to take charge of my closet, but leave me with creative control. The Sunday before school, she would let me choose my outfit for the whole school week, and then put them in their appropriate label in my cabinet - Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday. I had to wear what I chose, and if I didn't like what I chose, I had to live with it.

See? Sneaky.

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It was to her my siblings and I would ask permission to swim in the neighbor's pool, to have our friends from church sleep over, and to beg money for cherry-flavored ice cones, among others. I would always tag along during her shopping time and invariably get a Barbie doll out of the bargain. It was a bribe from her so that I could just quit whining ALREADY.

I remember begging for a Peanuts-inspired cartoon lunch box that cost six or seven dollars. Even though it was expensive, she still bought it with the admonition that I would use it. I loved it to pieces.

On my seventh birthday, she took me to watch "The Little Mermaid" at the local cinema. I fell in love with it so much that I got "The Little Mermaid" inspired bedding and a cute nightgown...on my ninth birthday. I still loved it anyway. And I still have the bedding.

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Mom loved dressing up, and she had a lot of pretty clothes and dresses, because she had a job working for a clothing factory. Mom's vanity would be whetted and then she'd bring home some fancy dress that she expected me to wear. Mothers. How could I go play with some silly dress? They were itchy and scratchy, even if they were designer. I mean, who cared? Don't get me wrong, I was pretty vain as a kid. Hence, all that "morning showdown" business. Today, Mom bemoans the fact that I was more fun to dress up when I was a kid than now.

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I have so many memories of Mom. I remember calling her up when I found out I was on the Dean's List in college for the first time. I remember her coming with me when I had lost ALL the editorial board examinations. We stood near the Taft Avenue MRT station asking bus drivers for the address of the RCTC Liner, because I left them inside one of their buses. Brilliant, I know.

I remember her teaching me how to read when I was four, and all of our subsequent trips to the public library in Arlington. We never left empty-handed. I remember her teaching me how to drive in Cavite at my lola's place, and the words she said after our first lesson: "Mag-driving school ka na lang."

Mom is good at so many things. She doesn't like to read, but I can never beat her in Boggle or Scrabble. I tried vainly last Christmas, but failed miserably. She makes a mean dish of scalloped potatoes and baked chicken. She can drive like nobody's business, and believe me, when others try to make it THEIR business, they're sorry quickly.

Mom, belated Happy Mother's Day. Even though you may have the highest score in Text Twist, we are always better as a team. I love you.

Monday, May 09, 2005

My sister goes to Eton and my brother goes to Harvard.

Image hosted by Photobucket.comHarvard University has earned its top-notch reputation around the world. The name of the school alone evokes respect, awe, and a bit of envy as well - to be able to get in is already a bragging right in itself. I myself went to Harvard, you know. I walked around the campus with my family and generally envied all the students.


Image hosted by Photobucket.com Eton, on the other hand, seems to be THE public school of public schools around the world (by public schools, in England, they mean private schools). It's also a great favorite with the Royal Family as well. Prince William and Prince Harry went there, and on the side of the literary, George Orwell and Sir Ian Fleming.

So why the interest in these two fine institutions?

Apparently, we have Harvard and Eton in the Philippines.

Coming from Tagaytay last Saturday, my friend spotted a HARVARD School of Laguna in Sta. Rosa. And while walking along Malate yesterday, I saw signs for Eton International School, and they offer pre-school and grade school education.

The sign also featured tow-headed tots smiling toothily. Now if that isn't false advertising when you see one, I don't know what is. I wouldn't want my sister to come crying to me after school saying that she had no blond classmates. I mean, the sheer injustice of it all! That kind of iniquity scars you for life.

Is this some sort of phenomenon right now? I'm seeing a lot of fancy school names, with of course, the obligatory INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL tacked on beside it. Is it really necessary? Does it make parents feel better that their son or daughter is attending an INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL with probably international-like fees as well?

What's in a name?

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Supercalifragelistic eponymous docius.

What does eponymous mean?

Djong and I were chatting yesterday when she brought up the question. I didn't know what it was so I went here and here, and all I got was "Of, relating to, or constituting an eponym.".

I was on the verge of suggesting that "eponym" might have gotten its roots from the name "Eponine", the lovely, miserable daughter of the Thenadiers in Victor Hugo's classic "Les Miserables". Hey, I thought it was funny.

Kill me for stupidity, but I didn't check on the word "eponym". So there I was, wracking my brains for a possible meaning to the blasted word, when I decided to ask this question on Google:

"What does "eponymous" mean?"

One of the results that came out was a 1996 feature article on Slate, "Naming Names: The Eponym Craze". It was written by Cullen Murphy, who was then the Managing Editor of The Atlantic.

He wrote,
An eponym, of course, is a word that has been formed from the name of a person, place, or thing (eponumos is a Greek word meaning "named on"). For some eponymous terms, the eponymy is obvious, or famous: Caesarean section; graham cracker; Molotov cocktail; boycott; leotard; Luddite; silhouette; volt. Many more eponyms, though familiar, are not so obviously eponymous. Maudlin, for instance, comes from the name of Mary Magdalene, who in painted and sculpted form is typically shown weeping. Masochism comes from the name of the demented 19th-century novelist Leopold von Sacher-Masoch, who described the relevant eponymous practices in his writings.
So in practice, we've been using these words for a time but not really knowing that they were eponyms. Or maybe it was just me.

Murphy also contended in the article that eponyms never needed any special tending to make them grow (and this was in 1996). Some of his examples are the following:
  • To gump through life is to make one's way by means of dumb luck.
  • To espouse two positions at once is to pull a Clinton.
  • To adopt the hairstyle popularized by the actress Jennifer Aniston on Friends is to get a Rachel or to get a Friends do.
  • A sagan is a unit of quantity equivalent to "billions and billions"--the quotation an unintentionally self-parodic trademark of the late astronomer Carl Sagan.
  • Imeldific, made possible by Imelda Marcos, refers to ostentatious grandiosity and extravagant bad taste.
  • An Iraqi manicure is torture.
  • Waldheimer's disease is a convenient lapse of memory.
What other eponyms can you think of?