Saturday, 26 July 2014 00:00

July 16, 2014 -- My neighborhood finally went dark past midnight, much sooner than I had anticipated. Typhoon Glenda had made its present felt a few hours earlier, and from the looks of things, this was going to be a rough night. Just like any Filipino living in the Luzon and Visayas region, I have seen more storms and typhoons than I care to remember. But this one... Perhaps it's me getting older and no longer having anybody in the house as my beacon of protection. That person was now me for a wife and a baby two days away from reaching three months. It was a responsibility that only weight on me then and there as I watched the only sight in view from our window -- a silhouette of a coconut tree swaying violently and on the brink of toppling down. And my house was also on the receiving end of the same level of violence...

Tuesday, 01 July 2014 00:00

I normally post reviews as a non-work related blog. But I believe this one warrants an exception.

I got excited when I found out Joe Satriani was coming out with a book this year. Then I realized it wasn't going to be likely that I'd be able to grab a copy anytime soon. A book by a name that's obscure outside the world of rock guitar isn't going to be a priority of National Bookstore or Fully Booked. And when I do find one, it wasn't going to be cheap. Luckily, a Kindle version came out. It's not as romantic as flipping paper and taking a close look at the pictures is out of the question, but it's cheaper and can be downloaded instantly. So, I went for it.

Thursday, 26 June 2014 00:00

Before anything else, I'd like to be clear about one thing. It is an honor winning 2nd place for the Best Paper Award in last week's 2nd International Conference on Open and Distance e-Learning (ICODeL) in Manila. It's always a good feeling to be assured that there are people out there who think you are doing good work.

However, I can't help but be bothered that whole week with the awkwardness of it all. Part of me does not believe that the host university should be qualified for whatever awards they will be handing out in a conference. It's not a sporting event where it almost always become clear who wins and who loses. When I made it to the conference, it did not help that I found myself competing against PhD dissertations and handsomely funded projects. Mine was what my dad and bosses would call a fun research -- something I would do on the side with no funding and little regard for adopting actual research methods. Even those that did not make the shortlist of finalists seemed superior to mine. I did not want to lose. But at the same time, I wondered how the whole thing would look like if I won? As fate would have it, I did come on top over all but one paper, based on a large US Department of State-backed project. And I have never felt happier being in second place. 

Gloating over my success, however, is not the point of this blog. As I have mentioned, ICODeL 2014 was stacked with really good papers, many of which had as much, if not more right to be a best paper finalist than mine. But they did not make the cut. And I am starting to understand why.

Monday, 28 July 2014 00:00

October 31, 2011 – I was on a train ride going from Brussels to Amsterdam and three nights away from concluding my month-long sojourn in Belgium and Holland. I was on my second class seat and reflected on the whole experience, turned on the laptop and typed aimlessly. After a few moments, I figured that it would be nice to write a blog about the life lessons I learned in the past month. 

Monday, 28 April 2014 00:00

Guitar reviews – they’re a dime a dozen. I thought about what I could possibly add to everything that has been written or recorded about what is arguably the most iconic electric guitar in history. Everyone has pretty much weighed in on it – luthiers, master players, wannabes, down to the people who really don’t know what they’re talking about. But interestingly enough, I realized that I still had questions about the guitar left unanswered until after I actually bought one.

I’m not going to talk all that much about tone or how the sound of this thing blows everything else out of the water. If that’s what you’re looking for, I heartily suggest going to Youtube or your favourite guitar gear forum. I’ve seen and heard all that I want from those places. I don’t have the inclination to do the same. But if you want to read about things not often touched on by the other reviewers, please read on!

Friday, 25 April 2014 00:00

It's been over a week since my son, Aidan, was born. And it has been great. Paternity leave rocks! I get to watch my son all the time in his first days of life outside the womb. Friends and family have been happy for us. Officemates are gladly covering for me while I'm away. Even some of my students are being gracious, telling me to take my time addressing queries about their grades, even though they're anxious to hear from me.

My little baby boy, some hours after birth


However, there is also an underlying thread of discussion that has been going since last Friday. Everyone keeps saying we made a gutsy call, opting for a water-birth. They also admitted being a bit surprised that I allowed it. I didn't tell my dad about it, so when I texted him that my wife gave birth, his first question was where were we at, which likely translated to which hospital were we admitted to. My wife didn't tell her parents either, knowing full well that it was not likely for them to approve. Even our midwife kept asking me if I was ok with all of this.

By no means am I already an expert on the matter. But I do know for sure that water birthing is not for everyone. I started that way. But what I did learn these past few months are points that may help those who might find themselves in the same spot as I was.