Wearing dice on my head since 2008 Programmer, engineer, scientist, critic, gamer, dreamer, and kid-at-heart. Randomly amazed.

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  (Originally posted on Facebook) Heaven knows we are in need of some serious income tax reform, and the government needs to work a lot on efficient utilization of the revenue they do earn, so of course when I first saw the image below like any middle-class Filipino I found it a bit enraging. But then I thought to myself: if Singapore has such low taxes, where does the government get their operating budget from?

Travel anxiety

| Categories: Travels | Tags:

As I write this I am at the airport, trying to kill time. As per usual, I am more than an hour early before the check-in time for my flight. It’s a thing I do, no matter where I’m travelling, that I put in lots of buffer time so I will more often than not arrive way too early and need to wait. It’s not just for flights either – I have a tendency to arrive early for any sort of time sensitive appointment.

I was sent to London for work for a few months, which meant an opportunity to play a third GP for the year after Manila back in January and Singapore back in June. This will be the most GP events I’ve played in a one year period. I didn’t have time to practice, so I went with an updated version of the Jeskai tempo deck I was playing at the start of Khans rotation.

Thirty-Seven

| Categories: Just Another Day | Tags:

I like to be optimistic, or at least to try to. And to believe the best of people, or at least try to. It’s not always easy. Sometimes people disappoint you. Sometimes you feel lost. Or stressed. Or stuck in a rut. And you don’t know what to do. You have to be able to look within yourself to find your own drive, to find the ability to move forward in spite of the tough times.

GP Singapore 2015

| Categories: Magic the Gathering | Tags:

GP Singapore 2015 would be my first Modern GP and maybe only my 3rd or 4th Modern event altogether. Modern is a difficult format to prepare for; there are many decks to prepare for and it’s almost impossible to master all the matchups. For this reason, I felt much less prepared for this event than for GP Manila back in January. I put together Grixis Twin for this event. It’s a bit difficult to pilot, but I felt it had a reasonable matchup across the board and there’s always a chance of comboing out when you’re falling behind.

Previously: Overview | Barcelona Part 1 | Barcelona Part 2 | Rome and Vatican City | Rome Part 2 and Paris Part 1 This series of posts has taken longer than I thought it would, and I grow weary on it. We’ll cover things a bit faster from here, less of the daily stuff and we’ll stick to the highlights. This will be the final entry! Sunday March 15th This Sunday we took a long walk to visit the famous Louvre museum (why go to Paris and not see the Louvre).

Europe 2015: Rome Part 2 and Paris Part 1

| Categories: Travels | Tags:

Previously: Overview | Barcelona Part 1 | Barcelona Part 2 | Rome and Vatican City Friday March 13th This was our last day in Rome and we were planning to visit the Colosseum and the nearby Palatino Hill. It was a long walk and we passed by a few palaces and the usual open plazas, many of the landmarks identified by Egpytian obelisks placed there by the Roman emperors. Rome is chock-full of cobblestone roads and plazas lined with souvenir shops and pizzerias and buildings fronted by 12-foot-high steel doors with large lion-head knockers and churches liberally sprinkled every other block.

Europe 2015: Rome and Vatican City

| Categories: Travels | Tags:

Previously: Overview | Barcelona Part 1 | Barcelona Part 2 Wednesday March 11th It’s early in the morning when the shuttle picks us up to take us to the airport for our flight to Rome. When we first planned the trip a few months back, only Spain and France were on the itinerary. But due to a last-minute change in circumstances, we decided to add Italy to the trip. We had also acquired a railpass and were planning to travel by train between Spain and France, but given the change of plans we decided to refund the railpass (up to 85% of the cost can be refunded) and we literally booked inter-Europe flights during our layover in Singapore at the start of the trip.

Europe 2015: Barcelona Part 2

| Categories: Travels | Tags:

Previously: I went to Europe, decided I should tell you more about it and started talking about Barcelona Monday March 9th For today, we had decided to visit Park Güell, a Barcelona tourist spot created by this old-timey big shot to display the works of well-known Catalanion architect Antoni Gaudi. I say “well-known” but I’ll be the first to admit that my culturally-ignorant self had not heard of him before, but he’s kind of a big deal in Barcelona with many souvenir shops sporting some thing reminiscent of his works.

Europe 2015: Barcelona Part 1

| Categories: Travels | Tags:

My previous post only skimmed my trip to Europe. I did not want to write too much, partly because I was uncertain at how many would be interested to hear the sordid details and partly because while I was writing the post, the words did not flow as freely as I would have wanted. Despite this, I have received good feedback and more than one person had asked for more details.

Europe Trip 2015

| Categories: Travels | Tags:

My friends know how stingy I am with money, and my family knows I’m not much of a tourist, so some might have been surprised that I took the better part of two and a half weeks off from work to travel around Europe with a couple of friends. It was my first trip outside of Southeast Asia and the first time I took a long haul flight. Other than my concerns regarding the possibility of my luggage getting lost, the trip was relatively smooth and the Singapore Airlines plane had relatively decent food, service and in-flight entertainment.

One of my many, many loyal blog readers pointed out to me that I had yet to post about Grand Prix Manila, which took place in the first week of this year. I’ve been meaning to post about it, but it got lost in my backlog. So here we are. Yes indeed, I still play Magic, “on and off”, as it happens with most Magic players with busy lives and/or multiple other hobbies.

Globe’s Spam Reports Policy A few days ago I got dragged into a debate over Twitter regarding Globe’s policy on handling reports sent in via Twitter about spam/scam text messages. When you send in reports of text spams via Twitter, one of Globe’s representatives will ask you to agree that in case the spammer disputes the allegation, they would have to disclose your mobile number to them. For me, the policy seems completely reasonable: if you accuse someone of a crime, they should have a right to know what exactly they are accused of and who exactly the victim was.

Thirty-Six

| Categories: Just Another Day | Tags:

Thirty-six is a semiperfect number, meaning it is the sum of some subsets of its natural divisors.   Like thirty-six, life isn’t perfect either. But there’s still much to be thankful for. I am grateful that I have a roof over my head and am able to eat at least three square meals a day (if I so choose). I am grateful that I have wonderful parents and siblings who are always ready to support me no matter what shenanigans I get into.

Well, I haven’t written anything in a while, so I figured I’d write some words on the new Spider-Man movie. Spoilers abound! Action-packed! The web-swinging is fun and looks and feels just like Spidey from the comic books. Spider-man moves and fights and banters pretty faithfully to the comic book version of our favorite wall-crawler, so that’s a definite plus. Peter’s Spider-sense is portrayed as a slow-motion bullet-time kind of deal which allows him to react quickly and save all the people while dodging everything.

2013 -- Books and Games

| Categories: Gaming | Tags:

It’s the end of the year, so it feels like a good time to look back at the books and games I’ve gone through in 2013. I guess it’s my lack of focus really but my reading rate has really gone down over the past few years, I guess in favor of TV, comics and games. (I guess comics count as reading too, but I’m talking about full-length novels. For 2013 as far as I can tell I only finished reading the following novels:

Movie Review: Man of Steel (Spoilers!)

| Categories: Opinions | Tags:

Few people are really Superman fans, because let’s face it, Superman is boring compared to say, Batman. I wouldn’t claim to be a fan either, though I follow the history because of being generally a comic book guy (I got less than 50% of the answers in a recent Superman round in one of the local quiz nights =/) That being said, I did re-watch the first 2 Donner Superman movies and re-read All-Star Superman and Superman: For Tomorrow ahead of watching the movie.

I wrote some stuff about Vita vs 3DS in a Reddit post, I thought I’d expand on it here. I have access to both a first-generation 3DS with ambassador status (this is actually my brother’s but he doesn’t use it much) and a PS Vita which is only a couple of months old. I use the Vita a lot more because reasons: The screen is very very nice, especially compared to the 3DS screens.

Resources The content of this post is regarding my own opinion and who I plan to vote for. If you want to do your own research (I highly recommend it), here are some links to get you started: Movement for Good Governance briefers on Senatorial candidates Rappler Senatorial profiles I would also Google “rappler [candidate name] interview” for the interview article for each candidate (too many to list here) Here’s a link to a Google doc of my own notes on each candidate, which I used as basis for recommendations below.

It’s easy to blame the poor, the masses for voting into power devious politicians, the corrupt, those with no track record, political dynasties based on money, survey results, name recognition or who has the most giveaways. But take a look at the number of decisions that have to be made when you go vote in an election (let’s say it’s also a presidential election so that we have a complete view):

People who follow me on Facebook or Twitter know that I’ve been recently made a number of anti-Nancy Binay posts. For a while now I’ve been wanting to write a blog post about that and several other election-related thoughts. I’ve decided to present these thoughts it as a fictional chat between made-up characters. Totally fictional characters. Any resemblance to actual people living or dead = pure coincidence. (Although if you must try to imagine these characters, you can imagine jaeger as a dashing idealist, in-in as a cynical pragmatist, ORYLY as a carefree vagabond and Scrappy coco as someone who just wandered into the wrong room.

Scenes from a Quiz Night

| Categories: Just Another Day | Tags:

Wednesday, March 20, 7:56pm We were four of us walking down the barely lit passage on the side of the building. The guard had lazily pointed us to a large open door near the back of the building. The interior was a studio-type area and there was a group of three women dressed in white who had arrived ahead of us and we followed them up a narrow set of stairs to an elevated lounge area with chairs and tables.

“Sir, baka pwedeng lipat na lang kayo ng taxi,” the driver said to me apologetically. “Hindi na po kasi ako aabot sa garage sa Sta. Mesa.” He offered to drop the flag-down fee from the fare so I just agreed. I got off and looked around. One of the reasons I agreed to let him off despite the late hour was that I knew the place where we were passing by – a well lit area where I could easily get another taxi or take an alternative form of transportation if needed – it was the neighborhood I grew up in.

Writing regularly is something I’ve always wanted to be able to do but like most things I have trouble with, it’s the lack of discipline that gets me. Take this blog for instance. I randomly think of things to write about while I’m idling or commuting or waiting in line or any of the dozen or so other opportunities during the day when my mind wanders, but because of laziness and/or lack of discipline, these ideas never get very far.

Cheetergarmi

| Categories: Just Another Day | Tags: Nostalgia

When I was growing up, our mom would make this sandwich spread concoction that was a mix of cheese, butter, sugar and milk. I loved it, and when my mom told young me what the ingredients are I quickly gave it the name “Cheetergarmi” (I’m sure you can figure it out). She still occasionally makes some for us to this day, just had some for a midnight snack! Also, I pretty much wrote this post so that I could have a Google search term that returns a single hit to a blog post of mine.

The last two entries (here and here) took too long to write, and there’s a helluva lot of other titles to go through. And many of them don’t deserve much comments, so I’ll just go through the rest quickly or I might never finish. Action Comics – the younger Superman stories are interesting, but occasionally Morrison goes off on one of his weird tangent stories. Superman’s early years are largely re-written, and that’s understandable, he’s never had particularly interesting events in his history anyway

Last weekend was Grand Prix Manila 2012, held at the SMX at Mall of Asia. I don’t really consider myself a “regular” Magic player anymore so I’m not going to give a full tournament report, though I will record some details for posterity. Let’s start with the deck. I played some version of Naya Pod, limited by what cards were available as usual: A Pile of Naya [Creatures] 4 Birds of Paradise 3 Avacyn Pilgrim 1 Ulvenwald Tracker 4 Strangeleroot Geist 2 Thalia, Guardian of Thraben 1 Daybreak Ranger 2 Borderland Ranger 2 Blade Splicer 2 Fiend Hunter 2 Wolfir Avenger 1 Phyrexian Metamorph 2 Hero of Bladehold 2 Huntmaster of the Fells 3 Restoration Angel 1 Oxida Scrapmelter 1 Acidic Slime [Spells] 2 Birthing Pod 1 Bonfire of the Damned [Lands] 4 Copperline Gorge 4 Razorverge Thicket 3 Sunpetal Grove 2 Rootbound Crag 2 Gavony Township 1 Slayer Stronghold 2 Cavern of Souls 4 Forest 1 Mountain 1 Plains [Sideboard] 1 Ancient Grudge 2 Ray of Revelation 1 Zealous Conscripts 2 Garruk Relentless 2 Celestial Purge 3 Thunderbolt 2 Arc Trail 1 Surgical Extraction 1 Oblivion Ring

This is part 2 of my DC New 52 Review. Part is here. Hopefully I finish this series before the reviews become too out of date. Batman I decided to read every book of the New 52 to widen my horizons regarding my comic book reading, and one of the greatest advantages has been exposure to Scott Snyder’s work. I have a tendency not to remember writers and artists of comics I read, except for the very famous ones, so I wasn’t aware that I had read his work before during the Black Mirror arc in Detective Comics pre-New 52.

CJ Corona Impeached

| Categories: Opinions Philippines | Tags:

Time for some Monday morning quarterbacking! Disclaimer: I Am Not A Lawyer. I’m just a guy with opinions. And you know what they say about opinions… Today, the Philippine Senate has impeached the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court by a vote of 20 to 3. I’ve generally kept silent about the CJ trial, mainly because I know people who are rabidly pro-Corona and I don’t feel like getting into an argument with someone who’s obviously biased (I’m sorry my friends, we are going to have to agree to disagree now).

The DC New 52 Review (Part 1)

| Categories: Pop Culture | Tags: Comics

If you’re reading this, that means I’ve done it: I’ve read the first eight issues of every DC New 52 book. I’ve always been a Marvel fan more than DC, my previous DC reading having been restricted to JLA and the Batman books, so I figured exposure to the New 52 would widen my appreciation of the DC stable of heroes. Here are my reviews: Justice League While the art is Jim Lee-fantastic, the first story arc left much to be desired.

2011 in Review. Sort of. I guess.

| Categories: Just Another Day | Tags:

Somehow the years seem to fly by more quickly nowadays. They all seem to blend in together too, at least in my memory. When I was thinking of what to write for this post I thought that this was the year I had taken my break from working. That was actually last year. I don’t think it’s a sign that I’m growing old. Maybe more of a sign of the fact that I’ve settled in to some sort of routine that makes it difficult to tell the days or even years apart.

Dear Citibank, About Your New Website

| Categories: Just Another Day | Tags:

Hi, About this new website design/whatever. I am glad that you know have 2-factor authentication to protect me from fraudulent online transactions, but please check the following problems ( I gave up trying to post this using your messaging system, see #3 below): Please fix or replace the horribly unusable custom combo box control you have. When using it to select a payee while making a payment, it’s difficult and counterintuitive to scroll up and down the list (it seems I must hover my mouse over the up and down arrows on the scrollbar).

So Metro Manila is at the peril of heavy rains, flooding and traffic again (as often happens this time of the year) and I thought I’d do some actual blogging for a change. I didn’t want to brave the rush hour traffic last night so I finally got around to watching X-Men First Class (luckily it was still showing at Mega). I had actually seen Green Lantern first despite X1C showing two weeks before the DC movie.

Haven’t done a tournament report in a while. Heck, I haven’t really played tournament Magic in a while, not seriously at least. For that reason it may have been a bad idea to run with a deck that requires a lot of matchup knowledge to play. The tournament was Grand Prix Singapore 2011, the format was standard and my weapon of choice was Caw Blade: [Lands] 4 Island 3 Plains 4 Celestial Colonnade 4 Glacial Fortress 1 Inkmoth Nexus 1 Marsh Flats 1 Scalding Tarn 4 Seachrome Coast 4 Tectonic Edge [Creatures] 4 Stoneforge Mystic 4 Squadron Hawk 2 Mirran Crusader [Spells] 4 Preordain 4 Spell Pierce 3 Mana Leak 3 Into the Roil 2 Condemn 1 Sword of Feast and Famine 1 Sword of War and Peace 1 Batterskull 1 Jace Beleren 4 Jace the Mind Sculptor [Sideboard] 1 Sword of Body and Mind 1 Sylvok Lifestaff 2 Spellskite 3 Flashfreeze 2 Divine Offering 2 Celestial Purge 2 Day of Judgment 2 Dismember

Singapore

| Categories: Travels | Tags:

I was in Singapore from June 2 – June 6, mostly to visit friends who are getting married and compete in the MTG Grand Prix held there last weekend. I like bullet points, so here’s a summary of my trip: Props: public transportation. One thing Singapore and Hong Kong have in common: well-defined, convenient and tourist-friendly public transportation systems, namely trains and buses. It makes our local buses and trains here pale by comparison.

Maybe I'm just heartless

| Categories: Just Another Day | Tags:

… but I feel like this country has spent far too much energy pleading and praying for and glorifying and sensationalizing three drug mules when we should be trying to figure out how they got past our airport security and immigration officers in the first place. Comments Comment by rumz on 2011-04-03 18:06:00 +0000 no, i agree with you. once dead, there isnt anything we can do for them.

A Christmas Story

| Categories: Just Another Day | Tags:

Okay, story time. On my way home today as I was about to get on the jeep to Tandang Sora, a woman got off the jeep crying uncontrollably and declaring she would not go with him. Unsure what was going on I walked past the woman who was now wailing unintelligibly outside the jeep. I got on the jeep and took a seat. Inside was this man who was gesturing to the woman outside and telling her to be quiet and just get in the jeep.

Randomly Amazed

| Categories: Just Another Day | Tags:

The first thing (out of two): As not many people are aware of, I actually underwent some minor surgery last week. I’ll spare you the boring details, except for the fact that at some point I had to be given spinal anesthesia while I was fully awake. Now, if you’ve never been given spinal anesthesia before, let me give you a rundown: you’ll be asked to lie on your side and curl up into something like a C-shaped fetal position so that the anesthesiologist can inject a tiny needle into a small area between the discs of your spinal column.

iPad: First Impressions and Snap Judgments

| Categories: Tech Life | Tags:

So, through a complicated series of circumstances where I initiated the process but actually managed to get myself surprised, I now own an iPad Wifi+3g 64GB (yes, it’s the most expensive model, don’t worry it did not break the piggy bank). It was purchased from Singapore and brought to me by a friend last Friday. I’ve used an iPad before (during the CCS trip Baguio), but this is the first time I’ve had the chance to customize the applications and content, and have it exclusive for my own use.

I haven’t written a tournament report in a while (maybe because I’ve been playing rather poorly lately? =/), but Prereleases are always fun right? Here’s my Scars of Mirrodin prerelease report! The first hour was spent waiting in an unbearably hot basement area for the 8th player on our table to register his sealed pool. What? yeah, he was late, and the event started early so the airconditioning was not yet on.

August 23, 2010: A disgruntled and decorated police officer who had been dismissed on charges of extortion took hostage a bus full of tourists from Hong Kong. The hostage drama unfolded in front of the Quirino Grandstand in Manila with the expected media circus, confused cops and SWAT who didn’t know what to do and a tragic ending that involved dead hostages and a bullet to the head.

The Fifth Power

| Categories: Just Another Day | Tags: birthday

I maybe getting older but as anyone can attest, I’m still a child at heart. As they say: life is a journey, not a destination. I still don’t know what my destination is, but I’ll keep moving forward one step at a time. Looking forward to the next power of two.

Here’s the situation: It’s game 3 of a sealed game. You know your opponent has Mind Control, Aether Adept and Plummet still in his deck, so you should finish it quickly to avoid losing to topdecks. The field is as shown (click for larger view): If you Stampede and swing with everyone, you win! Unless he has Condemn, in which case you will lose. You never saw Condemn in previous games.

What Am I Doing Now?

| Categories: Just Another Day | Tags:

I get asked this a lot since I’m not currently working. I never get to answer clearly, so here’s an attempt. The short answer is: Whatever I want The long answer: Yes, I spend a lot of time goofing around – watching TV series, movies and playing video games. In fact I think for most of the first two months of my hiatus, this was what I did. Now there’s a lot less of that – I’ve caught up with all the series I wanted to catch up with, and I don’t have any significant video games I want to finish.

Weekend Project: Stack Bragger

| Categories: Software Development | Tags:

Stack Bragger lets you brag to your Facebook friends whenever you ask new questions or earn new badges at StackOverflow, SuperUser or ServerFault. I was looking for a weekend project and found out that stackoverflow api was released so I thought I’d make a small facebook app. I originally just wanted to post to FB whenever I got a badge, something like how PSN accounts automatically post Trophies to FB. It also posts questions you ask so that any friends you have on facebook not already using stackoverflow might want to help answer 😀

Free Time

| Categories: Just Another Day | Tags:

Aside from my current hiatus, I’ve taken month-long breaks even when I was still employed. One of the things I most often get asked when I take an extended break from work is “Won’t you get bored with all that free time?” This question strikes me as a strange attitude towards free time, as if it were an annoyance to be avoided instead of a resource to be enjoyed. The people who subscribe to this belief are probably the same people who watch TV all the time when at home, or who can’t imagine life without having a 9 to 5 job eating up most of their day.

On Working

| Categories: Just Another Day Opinions | Tags:

I’ve been meaning to write about why I quit a perfectly good job I had at Azeus, but it’s been hard to articulate the reasons, in the same way I found it hard to explain to people why I didn’t feel a corporate “9 to 5” was entirely necessary at this point. Then I read a blog post today “Why I Quit A Six Figure Job” which I found to express/coincide with my thoughts pretty well on the upsides and downsides of having a job.

The Setup

| Categories: Tech Life | Tags:

A while back I started reading The Setup, which is basically a collection of interviews with various tech/creative guys about what sort of hardware and software they use. I always enjoy this sort of thing – it feeds my tech envy when they describe cool setups or gadgets I don’t have. (A lot of them have Macs!) I actually purchased a new desktop computer a while back without posting any details, so I thought I’d something similar to The Setup so that I have a record of what I’m using now.

Coming Back to Writing

| Categories: Writing | Tags:

So the other day I was watching a video of Scott Berkun‘s talk about the future of WordPress: (Go ahead, watch it first if you like, this blog post will still be here when you get back) I loved how he delved into the history of writing itself, not just of WordPress – harking back to the days of the printing press, etc. We live in such a world of privilege where anyone with an internet connection can easily publish his thoughts and words unto a worldwide audience, and yet for many people writing is a lost art that they don’t partake in on a regular basis.