Sunday, January 24, 2010

Not again, if I can help it!

I developed de Quervain's tenosynovitis (this is different from carpal tunnel syndrome) in my right wrist in 2007-2008. Weird, I thought, since I'm left-handed. The tunnel where tendons involved in moving the thumb was inflamed so much that I couldn't bend my wrist. The orthopedic told me to rest my hand regularly to minimise the pressure from moving it. I even wore a splint (supposedly for carpal tunnel syndrome, but I adapted it for my needs) to make sure my wrist wouldn't move too much. A few months on, I figured that the use of the computer mouse for extended hours probably caused the wrist to swell. It helped that I had spent a month separated from the computer mouse since I was using a trackpad in school.

I have learned my lesson. Too much of something is bad. An overworked hand will break down eventually. I should do everything I can to avoid a repeat of de Quervain's.

The typical computer mouse is set for right-handed users. So, to avoid overusing my right wrist (again!), I switch the mouse from right- to left-handed settings when the right wrist starts feeling painful. For fellow lab rats who plan to use the computer with the left-handed mouse, you have been warned.

Family New Year's Eve 2010

Earlier in the day, Anna took charge of collecting the dried laundry from the clothesline to avoid them catching the dust from the evening's fireworks. I obviously just played with the camera and the kitties =)

December 31 was a special evening because the "blue moon" was up in the sky. It's supposed to occur roughly every two years only, if I'm not mistaken. I was quite disappointed, though, because the moon wasn't literally blue... just like being surprised that the Golden Gate Bridge was actually red.

The Jazz crossed the 75,000 km mark on the 30th! And now, it's past it's 76,000th kilometer!

Since a large chunk of the family is overseas, we set up all available laptops with working webcams to be online to be able to chat with as many of them as possible. Unfortunately, just as the clock was striking 12, electricity was cut off, and the street was plunged into darkness. Good bye chocolate cake and tableya.


Friday, January 8, 2010

While bored and stuck in traffic

Rehabilitation work on the Southern Luzon Expressway (SLEX) has finally reached the southern end of that road. Plus, the construction of the road connecting SLEX to the Southern Tagalog Arterial Road (STAR) Tollway is well underway. To make matters worse, the roads were unusually clogged on the days approaching the holiday season.

Quite predictably, everyday was a traffic jam on the SLEX in December 2009.

The upside to all that slow driving, was the chance to appreciate the view on the southbound stretch of the SLEX. 

Take the photo, for example. This was the first time I got a good look at Mount Makiling as clouds flew by its peaks (thanks to the hanging amihan).

Ten days later, while on the same stretch of road, but closer to the Batino Exit, the legendary mountain was hidden behind the rain and the haze.

Amazing. Just the same, I hope that the SLEX repairs get done soon... so that i could appreciate what driving on a freeway feels like. =) 

Dear Darla

"Dear Darla, I love your feisty soul. You make me happy..."

Sounds familiar? That's puppy love for you, Alfalfa style (from the Little Rascals movie).

Dear Darla is also the newest pizza variant offered by Yellow Cab. Alfalfa sprouts and arugula leaves are wrapped burrito-style in thin pizza slices with sprinklings of sun-dried tomatoes and olives... Yummy! A refreshing and healthy option for palettes tired of the meat on pizza.

I think I'll have another round of Dear Darla, next time with dear sister. =)

Sunday, January 3, 2010

My decade in review

A friend passed along a good idea of outlining significant parts of one's life in the past ten years. In hindsight, I had a lot of firsts during the last decade.

2000. The year my family visited the Banaue rice terraces and Sagada. The year I returned to Ilocandia and Puerto Galera thanks to requirements in my humanities and physical education courses. Two years into college, I decided to major in Microbiology, one of the crossroads that eventually led me away from the plan. Music was an outlet of stress; I was playing various percussion instruments as part of the live accompaniment to the dance troupe in their concerts.

2001. An election year, I missed my first chance to vote. However, the day after the election, my dad gave me the keys to the first car I was assigned to use. That year, I was neck-deep in finishing my B. Sc. thesis while juggling a lot of subjects. I also finally decided to forge a new plan, to follow an unbeaten path.

2002. I graduated from UPLB that year, and attended the very first conference in which I had to give a talk based on my B. Sc. thesis. Job hunting brought me all the way to Pampanga, with dad, grandma, and siblings in tow. Then I got my first job as a researcher, in which my note-taking skills were put to the test.

2003. The first time I rode an airplane without my parents, and my mom was in panic mode! Stepped into the Visayas for the first time: went to Kalibo (and got lost in translation) and to Boracay (loved the talipapa, but didn't like the water). I entered the food manufacturing industry, becoming a student of the art of stress management in the process. 

2004. I left the manufacturing industry and became a researcher once again; new boss, new accent to adapt to. From biology, I moved on to chemistry. To top the year off, the parents and the brother embarked on a new adventure on the other side of the world.

2005. A seminar I participated in gave an opportunity for me to outline where I would want to be in five years. One of my goals became true sooner than I expected: I was admitted to the USyd graduate school, but not knowing if I've bitten more than I could chew. On the first of several trips as a graduate student, I was able to see a shooting star for the first time. 

2006. I went to the land down under twice; there I learned that being new is not an excuse to not venture out and getting lost led to great adventures. The year I got exposed to different cultures. True to grad student form, I lugged the laptop along on vacation, typing at night after touring markets and parks, just to finish a major school requirement on time. My communication skills were also put to the test. I got myself a new car; but was really sad to part from the old one.

2007. Sleep deprivation became a way of life, as experiments I needed to finish dragged on deep into the night. Needless to say, my social life shrunk to an all-time low, a bare minimum. I transferred my enrolment to UQ when my supervisor went there along with some of his other students, though my research was still based in the Philippines. I frequented the 24-hour congee shop at wee hours of the morning with other night owls. My college classmates became full-fledged medical doctors, and we all gathered to celebrate –– one of the rare times I went out of the lab while the sun was still in the sky.  

2008. The year I wrote and submitted my Ph.D. manuscript. The final stage of thesis-writing felt like I had a terminal illness, and I am very thankful for the support that I received during the ordeal. I traveled several times, but I failed to see snow in winter (being inside the airport during a snowstorm) and didn't see a volcanic eruption (because I was on the wrong island). Nevertheless, I got to spend time with cousins I haven't seen for almost ten years and with my parents and my brother. At the end of the year, it was their turn to visit us and the grandparents.

2009. The year I stayed low and recharged my batteries. Recovering from burn out, as it turns out, is a lengthy process. Graduation day finally arrived. I started getting my social life back on track, participating in sports and performances. Photography was a hobby again since I had gained some spare time; and my hands became bruised once more, thanks to a brief return to percussion.

In retrospect, a lot has happened during the last ten years. It makes me wonder what's next for me in the next decade. I shall wait and see. =)