Sunday, March 20, 2011

Coming soon

Am stepping out of the house in a few minutes, but wanted to post something about the March 25, 4pm event. So for now it's the just a graphic. I checked out the Pro-Life page and couldn't find any details yet. I'll supply those first chance I get!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Chicken crosses the road

One thing I had been planning to blog about without actually going through with it was chickens. At one point, our house helper brought over a trio of chickens from her hometown and we transformed what used to be our dog house into a chicken house. "What a racket chickens make" was one of my first discoveries about the feathered creatures.

Another discovery I made later on was that hens tend to gang up on a lone rooster when they're all still on their growing-up weeks. Then when they reach adulthood, the tides change! It's the rooster then that throws its weight around, dominating the females come mealtime and shooing them away to have most of the rice to himself. What a bully. I'm not sure if these are the rules of the game in the world of chickens, but it's what I saw among the three that made our yard and garage their home for over a year.

I never really got to be "friends" with them because they seemed to always be scared by my mere presence. So, all that I learned about chicken life I learned from a distance. Pretty soon they had to be given away when the moving truck came. There would be no room for feathery animals in the new place we now call home.

Here's something about chickens that I saw in an interesting blog called The Daily Brouhaha, with some additional parts from The Gathering.

Why did the chicken cross the road?

BARACK OBAMA: The chicken crossed the road because it was time for a CHANGE! The chicken wanted CHANGE!

OPRAH: Well, I understand that the chicken is having problems, which is why he wants to cross this road so bad. So instead of having the chicken learn from his mistakes and take falls, which is a part of life, I'm going to give this chicken a car so that he can just drive across the road and not live his life like the rest of the chickens.

DR SEUSS: Did the chicken cross the road? Did he cross it with a toad? Yes, the chicken crossed the road, but why it crossed I've not been told.

GRANDPA: In my day we didn't ask why the chicken crossed the road. Somebody told us the chicken crossed the road, and that was good enough.

BARBARA WALTERS: Isn't that interesting? In a few moments, we will be listening to the chicken tell, for the first time , the heart warming story of how it experienced a serious case of molting, and went on to accomplish its life long dream of crossing the road.

ANDERSON COOPER-CNN: We have reason to believe there is a chicken, but we have not yet been allowed to have access to the other side of the road.

COLIN POWELL: Now to the left of the screen, you can clearly see the satellite image of the chicken crossing the road...

MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR.: I envision a world where all chickens will be free to cross roads without having their motives called into question.

JOHN LENNON: Imagine all the chickens in the world crossing roads together, in peace.

VOLTAIRE: I may not agree with what the chicken did, but I will defend to the death its right to do it.

CAPTAIN KIRK: To boldly go where no chicken has gone before.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

The hunger and the greed

The two words "information" and "communication" are often used interchangeably, but they signify quite different things.
Information is giving out; communication is getting through."

- Sydney J. Harris, American journalist and author (1917-1986)

What's great about information in this day and age is that it's not limited to the written word any longer. Those of us who are more visual in our tastes have the advantage of learning about things via videos. Check these out -- the first tackles the question about why people in some parts of the world are starving through a short but nicely done video; the second is a straight-to-the-point explanation as to why a statement such as "Contraceptives cause abortion" is not inaccurate at all.

I hope some communication takes place with this blog post...

Posting these two videos has made me rethink the whole matter of calling the birth control pill and other contraceptives "essential medicines" -- which proponents of House Bill 4244 or the so-called Reproductive Health Bill are insisting on as part of this piece of legislation. When one labels drugs and devices that have resulted in the death of unborn babies and in health problems for women as "essential," it does sound silly when one considers how the most basic of all needs -- food -- is lacking in many parts of the planet. And it's not because of overpopulation -- in itself a myth.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

(Too) Loud and clear

"Pabayaan mo na. Malapit na naman silang matapos eh." (Just let it be. They'll be done soon anyway.)

Ah, yes, we've been saying that for the past three months, I muttered.

What's there to let be? The auditory assault that results from the boombox-playing right at this moment next door, where a construction has been going on even before we moved to our new home in October last year. I'm not sure if it's only in Manila (or only in the Philippines even), but where there's a residential construction going on, there's bound to be really loud music playing as well.

Let me write from the outset that the issue here may not be a matter of decibels but of musical tastes. But first, a backgrounder...

It was October when we moved to this new neighborhood. It's not a gated community which would normally have strict guidelines regarding loud music or visitors entering-exiting the village. By then, the lot beside ours was well into constructing what looked like a huge two-storey house. And by then, the daily banter of the workers wafted into our living room window; music blasting from some player drifted into our abode as well. But usually we were too preoccupied with housework to notice. After all, we had just moved, and there was unpacking to do, painting jobs to watch, furniture arrangement/disposal to decide on, more unpacking to do, missing things to look for, and still more unpacking to do.

I think it was towards Christmas that the din next door started to be really noticeable. Still, patience was practiced, owing largely to the spirit of the Season of giving.

The new year came and the house next door was still far from complete. Not only that -- we had to contend with more noise on a daily basis: the cement mixer at work, the jackhammer doing its nerve-wracking work, various power tools whirring about, and other things construction workers probably take for granted but which would drive normal people to either whine in exasperation or yell invectives in sheer annoyance.

"Bakit ba kailangan nilang magsigawan pag nag-uusap eh magkakatabi lang naman sila? (Why do they have to yell at each other when they talk when they're just beside each other?)" I asked my mom one day, irritated by the non-existent moderation in the workers' conduct of conversations.

"Sanay sila sa maiingay na makina kaya kahit hindi na naka-on ang makina, linalakasan pa din nila ang boses nila (They're used to noisy machines so even though the machines are turned off, they still talk at the top of their lungs)" she explained, half-amused.

I understood that machinery was a normal part of every construction site. And talking is a normal part of everyday life at work. But what really got to me was the noise blasting from the music player day in and day out. It was fast, usually techno or metal. Sometimes they had some Pinoy ballads playing for some emo moments. But must they up the volume that half the barangay would hear it? Sometimes, it wasn't even 8am yet and the drum beats of some song would already be vibrating over the fence.

So one morning not long ago, when some techno-pop tune pierced the air yet again while I was savoring my breakfast (it was shortly before 7am), I walked to the telephone and gave the barangay hall a call. After describing the situation, even mentioning that I had already talked with the foreman once and kindly requested that they turn down the music because they may not notice that it becomes loud enough to awaken my mother in slumber many times, I was told to wait and that somebody from the barangay accompanied by a policeman would drop in on the rowdy dudes.

Smug, I waited. I savored the moments leading up to the abrupt ceasing of the music, which came around 10 minutes later. Ahhh silence. Everyday since then felt like a normal day. My family and I felt like normal persons.

Until today, when loud music greeted us again at breakfast. What was the occasion? Had they all awakened with amnesia? I'm not sure what the reason was but I'm glad I had to be out of the house till mid-afternoon. Upon coming home, it was reasonably quiet...until a little later when the techno drum beats were at it again, prompting my exasperated query about the resurrected noise and eliciting the "Pabayaan mo na..." reply of our house helper.

Right now, no musical instruments can be heard over speakers. But one of the dudes has taken to singing a capella at the top of his lungs every few minutes. Sigh. Pabayaan na. Well, it is a weekend. And we did have a two-week break or something like that from the auditory assault. Pabayaan na.

Come Monday morning, let's see. In my opinion, a mindset like "pabayaan na" can be a manifestation of mercy and patience. On the other hand, it can also be an excuse for letting things just slide by when the right thing to do is to take a practical measure.

Let's see if the sound of silence prevails come Monday morning.

* Illustration by Royston Robertson

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

The quick and the dead

Talk about using words to influence a desired outcome. In this case, I'm not too sure of the persuasive power of the word "deadline" on writers to finish a piece of work by the designated date. Owing to the changing times, some writers -- particularly younger ones, "slacker" types, or those who have not been ingrained with the importance of virtues such as punctuality and diligence -- don't seem to really take deadlines seriously.

Interesting bit here about the word, from the Online Etymology Dictionary:

"time limit," 1920, Amer.Eng. newspaper jargon, from dead + line. Perhaps influenced by earlier use (1864) to mean the "do-not-cross" line in Civil War prisons, which figured in the Wirz trial.
And he, the said Wirz, still wickedly pursuing his evil purpose, did establish and cause to be designated within the prison enclosure containing said prisoners a "dead line," being a line around the inner face of the stockade or wall enclosing said prison and about twenty feet distant from and within said stockade; and so established said dead line, which was in many places an imaginary line, in many other places marked by insecure and shifting strips of [boards nailed] upon the tops of small and insecure stakes or posts, he, the said Wirz, instructed the prison guard stationed around the top of said stockade to fire upon and kill any of the prisoners aforesaid who might touch, fall upon, pass over or under [or] across the said "dead line" .... ["Trial of Henry Wirz," Report of the Secretary of War, Oct. 31, 1865]

Well, personally, I regard the word "deadline" with sweet fondness every time we're done putting an issue to bed. But in the midst of finishing a difficult article during crunch time, I always wish this concept did not exist at all. Hence, the following is something I truly enjoy watching when the deadlines (at least for the time being) are over!

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