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.
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.
It's been difficult getting on track. Not that I've been awfully swamped with work lately, or at least not as much as I usually am. Perhaps it's more about other things happening with and around me. I had wanted to do more work on the content of MMS 172 and 173. It's not like there's not enough. Many students already have trouble keeping up as they are. But these courses require constant updating in order to keep up with all the advances related to the subjects. It's a good thing they're still serviceable as is. Still, I wanted to cut back on the procrastination, keep students engaged without necessarily adding to what I'd required of them. And it occurred to me: what if I were one of them? What would I do for a final project in MMS 172? And how well would I do if I were to cram, just like half the class?
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!
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.
I remember the time my parents took me to the mall to buy my first electric guitar. It was at the old Park Square 1 in Makati back in the early 90's. There were four music stores there at the time. Perfect Pitch was already the authorized distributor at the time, but JB Sports and Music was the first one I entered and right behind the counter was the very first genuine Fender Stratocaster I ever saw in person. It was an Olympic White American Standard sitting pretty on a top shelf while all the other guitars. And even though I knew next to nothing about electric guitars at the time, I could appreciate how that thing was miles apart from those Philippine-made rip-offs that we often see in Sta. Mesa and Raon.