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the sights at the Royal View Seafood Restaurant

To celebrate Ate Grace's and Kuya Nat's good news (they're going to have a baby!), Tita Ising brought Anna and me out to dinner at the Royal View Seafood Restaurant at the Mall of Asia.



The restaurant reminded me of the restaurant where Ate Tin hosted my graduation party in Brisbane three years ago. There were live seafood swimming in tanks, yellow lights glowing overhead, mirrors reflecting the yummy food... Royal View Seafood Restaurant is one swanky eating place!

Tita Ising bought so much food, all of them delicious, that I had a difficult time walking and breathing after dinner. What an opportunity to watch "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey", right? I burped my way through the first half of the movie. By the time the movie had ended, I still did not have room for dessert. The following day, my stomach still felt full!!

Thank you, Tita Ising, for the delicious dinner!

LOTR: The Two Towers and paradigm shifts

I write this as I watch The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers on HBO...
A few years back, I was taking a series of seminars on the Purpose-Driven Life. The lecturer, Uncle Sam, was talking about paradigm shifts. These, according to Uncle Sam, are changes in the way people think.
As an example, Uncle Sam made the class watch a snippet of "The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers" (and this was when I wasn't an avid fan of the book or the novels yet):  Frodo and Sam had employed Gollum and he was leading them to the Black Gate of Mordor.  While they were resting, Gollum was debating with his alter-ego, Smeagol, about whether "Master" Frodo should be killed to get the Ring or not.  At the beginning of the trio's journey, Sam and Frodo saw Gollum as nothing more than a creature who they couldn't trust; but as the time went by, Frodo began to trust Gollum more and more. Frodo's turning point (his paradigm shift, as Uncle Sam pointed out) was when he saw wha…

Review: Sisterakas (2012)

Before "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" began, trailers for entries of the 2012 Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) were shown. I noted three films that I want to see during the MMFF season. However, the first one I watched wasn't one of them. This film, which I caught in SM Sta Rosa the other day, is "Sisterakas".

"Sisterakas" is top-billed by Ai-Ai delas Alas, Vice Ganda, and Kris Aquino. It's about half-siblings who had a falling out and how they redeemed their relationship. As if the drama of sibling revenge wasn't enough, the people who worked on the story inserted subplots about competing players in the fashion industry (taking inspiration from the reputation of an infamous fashion magazine editor) and a half-baked courtship story between a younger pair of actors. Vice's cross-dressing character moved the story forward, relegating his co-actors to supporting roles. Even the Tirso Cruz III was pushed to a very minor role (and he is …

IRRI Bowling Tournament 2012

I'm not yet allowed to play. But that doesn't mean I couldn't watch and take photos. :) IRRI held its bowling tournament last November 10 (finally!). There was some drama at the beginning of the games; however, the games began in earnest as people settled down to strike as many pins as possible. I wasn't taking a lot of photos due to bad lighting in the SU bowling lanes, so I just ended up with these...

Review: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012)

On the night I couldn't breathe properly because I ate too much, Anna, Tita Ising, and I went to the SM Digital Theater at the Mall of Asia to watch "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey". I made that suggestion because (1) I am an avid fan of JRR Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, (2) I loved Peter Jackson's take on the trilogy and wanted to see his interpretation of The Hobbit, and (3) I couldn't walk because I was too full! I needed to sit down and let my stomach settle first before moving any further.
As soon as the movie began, I felt like I was back in Middle Earth. But instead of going back to the land of Mordor or to Fangorn Forest or to Rohan, I was introduced to Legolas' and Gimli's homelands: Mirkwood and Erebor... and to their kin as well. Throughout the movie, I felt at a loss because I didn't see the Nine Travelers being led by Aragorn (but mostly because I didn't see the future king of the Reunited Kingdom). I guess it will take some ti…

"I don't want to miss a thing..."

On Christmas day, I was asked twice about my experience on December 21, the last day of the world as we know it -- supposedly -- except that the world continued to move on. :) And one of the things that happened struck me as having impeccable timing...
December 21, 2012 3:00 pm (or thereabouts)
It's the last day before the Christmas vacation. With people in markedly more relaxed moods, someone started singing along to Aerosmith's "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing" (I'm not sure if it's playing over the radio or was an mp3 file). Coincidentally, I had watched Armageddon earlier that week on cable and so I blurted out that the song was well-timed for the end of the world later that day.
For me, the song was perfect as it was the last day before the vacation and it was supposedly the end of the world too. Unfortunately, my statement fell flat because nobody in the group I was talking with had seen Armageddon recently and so they didn't know (or had forgotten) t…

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Since the world did not end last Friday, Christmas celebration is on!

The lyrics of "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" has struck a chord in me, particularly the lines  "Through the years we all will be together, if the Fates allow..." Perhaps because it has been my Christmas wish for several years now. Maybe it's because my family has been spending Christmas Eve in opposite sides of the globe for eight years already. Or it must be because this will be the first Christmas that the paternal side of the family will not be having a potluck at Lola's house on Christmas Eve.
In any case, Christmas Eve this year will just be Anna and me. No Christmas tree (I didn't have time to put it up, sadly) BUT I did make my first pot roast... on the slow cooker... perfectly timed for Noche Buena at 10pm. :)

My top 8 simple joys this Christmas :)

While I may have outgrown the excitement that gift-wrapped presents used to bring, I am always thankful for blessings that come my way, no matter how small, coincidental, or unwrapped they are. My dad calls these "simple life, simple joy". And so I list them down, my version of "simple life, simple joys" this Christmas; akin to Sister Maria singing about her favorite things so she won't feel so bad.
Here's my current* Top Ten Simple Joys this Christmas:
bumping into classmates fr high school at a local coffee shop & seeing that they're happy.catching up with friends who make it their business to make the world a better place to live in.driving on the road less traveled and seeing that the new route is scenic.drinking hot chocolate (soy) milkshake with peppermint syrup on a cold, windy evening.crossing yet another item off my to-do list as the holiday fast approaches. What a sense of accomplishment!after a tough day, I sit back, relax, and watch &quo…

the world ends (again) today, they say.

December 21, 2012
The last day on Earth... supposedly (again!).
Will the interpreters of the Mayan calendar be wrong? So far, the events in 2012 (a 2009 movie, if I'm not mistaken) have not yet come to pass. 
But if the Mayan interpreters were right, what will the world look like tomorrow? And will anyone live to tell the tale?
We've got 24 hours (Philippine time) to find out.
See you on the other side.

GQNC marks its 8th year

The Grain Quality and Nutrition Center (GQNC) at IRRI is now eight years old! 
A lot has changed since the GQNC began. The name of this organizational unit has changed several times over the years and people have come and gone. But the biggest change of all, so far, is the departure of its first head, Melissa Fitzgerald
New things are definitely in store for the GQNC as a new leader goes on board next year.
In the meantime, here's a link to GQNC's "family" photos of anniversaries or Christmases past.
http://rochiecuevas.blogspot.com/2011/01/grain-quality-lab-anniversary.html

Another one of those squirrel look-a-likes crossed my path

A bit over four years ago, I came across a mysterious animal -- a squirrel- or raccoon-like animal -- along Pili Drive in UP Los Banos. At that time, I had thought it to be an oddity because as far as I knew, there are no squirrels, skunks, or raccoons in the Los Banos area... but browsing the Internet proved me wrong.
Fast forward to a few days ago.
I wish I had a camera to take a photo of the animal that crossed the road!
Once again, I was driving late at night along Pili Drive. Once again, a furry, bushy tailed, dark-colored four-legged creature darted across the road and hesitated right in the middle of Pili Drive. If I were driving too fast, it would've been roadkill. The animal looked confused; it couldn't decide whether to cross the road or not. Its hesitation allowed me a closer look at the mysterious creature as I slowed to a complete stop. The animal had a grey body with slick fur (like a beaver's) while its tail was a thick furry black stretch (like a raccoon). …

Holy Week 2009

Holy Week 2009, a set on Flickr. Photos taken from Good Friday to Easter Sunday in 2009.

my first attempt at slow cooking.

I do mean S-L-O-W.

Some people say that patience is virtue; slow cooking in a crock pot certainly is certainly a test of character... and of hunger.

On Thursday night, I prepared lentil soup using my Kyowa Slow Cooker (KW-2802). I just placed the lentils, the mixture of sauteed onions, celery, tomatoes, and carrots into the crock pot and added some water. Then I added dried basil and dried oregano. Once all ingredients were in, I just placed the lid and put the slow cooker on high. Then I waited.

And waited...

And waited.

Four hours (and an extremely hungry stomach) later, I decided that the lentils must already be cooked. The lentil soup I made definitely did not look like the ones on the internet and was not as thick as the soup Anna and I had tasted in Tapella by Gaudi (Greenbelt 5). My soup was on the watery, bland side as well; I must have added too much water or skipped a step in the recipe.

But the nice thing about the bland lentil soup was that I could really taste the ingred…

breeding rice into a lean, mean, food-producing machine

I attended the World Food Day celebration at the Asian Development Bank this year (October 15-16, 2012). The event was graced by Julian Cribb, author of the book The Coming Famine(University of California Press, 2010). In his presentation, Mr Cribb discussed the real possibility of a global food shortage in the near future brought about by scarcity of resources. To avert the food crisis, Mr Cribb recommends that people start working on and re-investing in agricultural and food R&D now (among others). Especially since technology adoption takes time. During the Global Rice Science Partnership (GRiSP) Asia Review, Kamala Gurung reported that it takes more than ten years for farmers to adopt current varieties in Bangladesh, India, and Nepal. 
But just in case people do think that nobody is working on this issue now, I'd like to point out that agricultural scientists have not thrown in their lab coats. They are hard at work in laboratories and in test fields, taking steps to ensur…

Do you dare to run with the bulls?

I think my sister has always wanted to visit Pamplona, Spain for the festival honoring San Fermin. Looks like she dared to be run after by a bull -- or a cow, I'm not really sure -- while in UPLB.

Plan B: boost photosynthesis.

Photosynthesis is an organism's way of producing food (if it can, like plants and algae, and several bacteria types) using carbon dioxide and sunlight. Along the way, plants produce oxygen, the gas humans and other organisms need to survive. Photosynthetic organisms, then, are both source of food and natural carbon dioxide scrubber. 
Despite learning about photosynthesis in school, I never bothered to understand it with such passion as the people working in the C4 Rice Project. See, the research areas that interest me tend to be closer to the rice eater sitting at the dining table than to clouds floating in the bright blue sky. 
But I digress...
Scientists from the C4 group are attempting what previously was probably a product of science fiction: to tinker with the photosynthetic processes in the rice plant and make them more efficient. During the IRRI Young Scientists Conference (November 8-9), a lot of the early-career researchers took to the stage to bring us, non-C4 scientists, u…

Roland Buresh, on mentoring

Last Tuesday, November 6, I attended the lunch organized for participants in this year's Mentoring Program at the International Rice Research Institute. The special guest during this lunch meeting was no other than Dr Roland Buresh, IRRI's nutrient management expert.
And just like while listening to Dr Bruce Tolentino in one of the earlier lunches, I took note of three points that Dr Buresh discussed over lunch: 1. Stop thinking about why something doesn't work; start thinking how to make it work. In a laboratory, young scientists who are eager to test new ideas may, at times, feel like they're butting heads with brick walls. The younger ones shouldn't take it personally, according to Dr Buresh, because the elder scientists may have had supervisors who didn't entertain their ideas either. Dr Abdelbagi Ismail, another mentor present over lunch,  also said that we also have to observe the way we present our ideas. The way we say our ideas and suggestions affects…

Early-career scientists: new blood, new ideas

I was lucky to be chairing the morning session on Innovations and Novel Approaches during the IRRI Young Scientists Conference on November 8 because it provided a glimpse of what new technologies are being developed or being applied by young scientists for the rice sciences.

Novel ways for observing plant characteristics
One of the challenges of phenotyping (that's technical jargon for describing or measuring observable characteristics of an organism) is that it is a slow process. For example, measuring length, width and/or height of plant parts can be tedious and slow. To save time on phenotyping, Katherine Meacham uses a technology that takes 3-D images of plants and automates the measurements. She uses this technology (among others) because she needs to develop mathematical models about plant responses to environmental conditions within the time she's required to finish her PhD.New look at proteins involved in water transport in plants
Alexandre Grondin talked about aquapor…

the "Happy Birthday, Mommy" dinner

Anna and I, on one of the weekends she was off-duty, went to Makati to celebrate our mother's birthday. We ended up in California Kitchen in Glorietta 4. 

That's Anna with her pasta plate and the whipped cream-topped shake.

I was a chair for the first time. Ever.

This time, I write snippets as I attend the IRRI Young Scientists Conference.  ---
No, not literally.

I was chairing this morning's session on Innovations and Novel Approaches in the first IRRI Young Scientists Conference (IYSC). Being a chairperson for the first time, I was clueless with what I was supposed to do; particularly because someone else was doing the moderator duties.

Thankfully, the moderator of the session, Shanta Karki was well prepared and organized. She had print outs of speakers' profiles (which I used to introduce the speakers), time-keeping and alerting materials, and certificates of participation on hand before we began the session. The back-end of this technical session felt like a well-oiled machine.

There were only a few people as the session start time approached. Luckily, we had Hei Leung in the audience. He was able to convince more people to listen in on the Innovations session. 
It turns out that chairing a technical session wasn't so hard afte…

IRRI Young Scientists Conference opens today. :)

This time, I write snippets as I attend the IRRI Young Scientists Conference.  ---
During the Global Rice Science Partnership (GRiSP) Asia Review, I observed that early-career scientists are being given the exposure they need to move their careers forward. Just four weeks after, they are once again given the chance to talk about their work, to meet their peers, and to hear what their peers in other scientific fields are doing. I am talking about the two-day IRRI Young Scientists Conference (#IYSC2012) going on at the International Rice Research Institute.
According to Govinda Rizal (IYSC conference chair and current president of the Association of Fellows, Scholars, Trainees, and Residents in IRRI), the conference serves as a platform to bridge "between experienced senior scientists and those following their footsteps". Indeed, the conference did allow me to talk with more established scientists. I was able to discuss with the likes of Jauhar Ali (who used to be a post-docto…

meet Ninja, the kitten.

We named this cat Ninja because it's the first tortoise shell cat with predominantly dark patches. As a kitten, she was so dark that she's almost invisible at night. That's an almost perfect camouflage and she uses it to her  advantage... and to my annoyance whenever the "prey" she's set her eyes on is my foot.
She's not shy around humans and love to use their shoulders as perches (hence the photo above) and their pants-clad legs as scratching posts. She meows to announce her presence or just to greet us when we arrive home. She sometimes also races past me through the door into the house for reasons only she knows what.
Apparently, I'm not the only one to notice this unique tortoiseshell behavior. The blogger of The Conscious Cat has written a piece of what is termed as "tortitude". I am certain that Ninja displays  that.

I'm a blood donor (again) :D

Before I went for my three-week training in the USA in September, I donated blood during the IRRI-Rotary Club of West Bay blood drive. This is the annual activity that I participate in which requires me to gain a few kilos to qualify as a blood donor.

This year, I went along with Cindy and Crystal. For the first time, because I got good results for weight and blood pressure, the doctor did not ask too many health-related questions anymore. Crystal didn't donate but Cindy qualified to be a donor.

I didn't know what was up with my arm, but it took quite a while to get enough blood from my veins into the blood bag. The nurses, the phlebotomists, and the Rotarians were certainly helpful: I was given a stress ball to squeeze at while the collection was ongoing; the phlebotomists kept playing an MP3 of Leona Lewis' "Bleeding Love" (I wanted to finish fast because I didn't want to hear it for the nth time!!); and the Rotarians provided congee and fruit juice for th…

bitter dinner

"A wide array of bitter foods are... good for you." -- Elliott Essman Last night, I had to eat bitter gourd for dinner. Plus a few eggshells, give or take.
Bitter gourd Filipino name:   ampalaya Scientific name: Momordica charantia
This hard-to-swallow veggie packs a powerful health punch; it's known to have antimicrobial, anticancer, and antidiabetes properties. Just one tiny detail: it is BITTER!
A lot of people have devised a lot of ways to remove the bitterness from the bitter gourd, from squeezing the juices out to putting a lot of salt onto the raw vegetable. Unfortunately, this kitchen novice has never cooked ampalaya before. I just blanched the bitter gourd and then scrambled five eggs to add the cooked vegetable in. The eggs certainly did the trick. The ampalaya was not as bitter as its aroma suggested! The accompanying pieces of chorizo also helped mask the bitter taste of the ampalaya.

Now, I've still got four pieces of cooked ampalaya. What should I do …

I was at the LAX the day after Endeavour arrived!!

During the week that I was in training in Los Angeles, I was looking forward to see one thing: the flyover of NASA's Space Shuttle Endeavour. It was all over the morning news everyday the whole week.

On September 22nd, I was quite sad because the space ship already landed the day before and I didn't see it fly over LA because I was indoors. I wasn't even sure that I'd see it while outdoors because it might not have flown by Torrance (where I stayed) or Rancho Dominguez (where I was training). So I contented myself with watching the news coverage of the space shuttle's LAX landing.

I was wrong last year. While watching Endeavour's final flight last year, I thought that the next time I'd see this would be when it's a museum piece. It turned out that the world would see it one more time before it goes to a museum!
It


There's one consolation for me though: while the plane that was flying me from Los Angeles to Sacramento was going from the terminal …

shoe shopping (yet again!)

Thanks to the foot pain, I've become a more picky shoe shopper. I couldn't buy shoes that don't have the right kind of support for the arch (thank you, tendonitis!); as such, I became limited to getting mostly running shoes and a pair of comfortable black pumps. 
Until I discovered Danskos last November.
Dansko is a brand of footwear catering mostly to people who have to be standing a lot like medical professionals and restaurant employees. The shoes are designed to be very comfortable and non-slip. So, I thought, why not get one for myself? I'm also on my feet most days and I'm known for slipping on the flattest of surfaces (hence the rehabilitation doctor told me to jog on a treadmill, not on the road yet).
Just in September this year, I finally got the opportunity to buy myself a pair (at The Walking Company branch in Sun Valley Mall). Initially, I wanted a pair of the red leaf patent or the funky knit patent. However, I ended up with the one that caught my eye…

Lolo Bats

I barely knew my paternal grandfather, Lolo Batangas. My only recollection of him was when he dropped by our house with a wound on his knee; he had taken a fall from his bike back in Padre Garcia, Batangas shortly before he visited us. I was, I think, almost five years old at the time.

I was drawing on the back of some piece of  cardboard using a permanent marker. It was supposed to be a sketch of a girl skating on an ice rink. When I showed it to him, he said:

Ano yan, kuwago? (What's that, an owl?)



Of course, I didn't know what a kuwago was until my parents explained that it's a bird with huge eyes (the girl I was drawing had big googly eyes :P).
Despite not really knowing him, I feel like I know of him enough based on my family's stories about him and even from people he had helped long time ago. From what I gather, he was a quiet man who always smiled. He worked really hard to keep his brood of six children in the best schools. My grandma, Lola Bats, fondly retells…

going ahead of the all saints' day crowd

October 31 to November 2. Those are the days when I absolutely avoid traveling by road in the Philippines (aside from Holy Week, if I can help it). No, it's not because I'm afraid of fictional Freddie, Jason, or Chuckie. They're icky now, not scary. And certainly not because of ghosts, ghouls, trolls, or poltergeists... JK Rowling has helped popularize them in a kid-friendly way.
I don't like traveling on those dates because the roads to the cemeteries become parking lots. Vehicles are in a standstill while passengers just get off the vehicles and walk. And if I'm fortunate enough to be able to navigate the car through the barely moving traffic, there comes the question of the parking space inside the cemetery... particularly where my late paternal grandpa, who we grandkids call Lolo Batangas (the grandpa from Batangas), is buried: the Manila Memorial Park in Sucat Paranaque. 
My solution: visit him way ahead of the All Saints' Day crowd. This year, I dropped …

the blog migration continues

Since I've got a few minutes to spare today, I thought I might continue migrating content from Multiply to Blogger. 
The good news is that I've already obtained the .xml file of the Multiply blog posts. :)
The bad news is that what have been imported before are imported again! So there's a bit of manual tweaking involved to get the two blogs in sync before the December 1 shutdown of the social functionality of Multiply.
At least the posts are now in Blogger. It's just a matter of determining which ones are duplicates of what's on Blogger.
Right?

the smallest plane I've ever flown in... so far

I am fascinated with airplanes; always have been, ever since I first saw a replica of one at the Fiesta Carnival back when I was still in pre-school. Actually, the fascination with planes has extended to my interest in manned space flight. I even went twice to the Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Festival to see them up close! The first trip was okay because I got to see the private planes but the second trip was better because there was an AirAsia passenger plane parked right on the plane garage!
Anyway, someone once told me that my fascination with airplanes will eventually die out when being a passenger in one becomes a more common occurrence... particularly after getting tired with all the security checks. I disagreed. I think that I will stay in awe of these giant metal birds until I am able to actually fly one...
... Even if it looks like a bus with wings.
On the last leg of my US training in September, I had to fly from Los Angeles to Sacramento. Probably since the fli…

Want to go paperless in the field? There's FieldLab for that!

I interrupt regular personal blog posting to give way to some insights from the Global Rice Science Partnership Asia review. Let's shift towards more scientific stuff, sort of...

---
Ten years ago, I'd go to the rice fields to collect data about flowering time every morning and come back to the lab to process the data that I collected in spreadsheets. One time, I was startled by one of those big birds that call rice fields their home. Then there was a time when I fell down into the rice paddy because I had slipped. On both occasions, the paper I was using to record my data in got muddied up. That made it hard for me to encode information into the computer.

At this year's Global Rice Science Partnership Asia Review, as I was listening to Ed Redona, the global coordinator for the International Network for Genetic Evaluation of Rice (INGER), I learned that data entry in the field has moved forward a lot. Instead of just paper for data entry, researchers these days have a another…

prepping for my GRiSP 2012 five-minute presentation

During the Global Rice Science Partnership (GRiSP) Asia Review, I was tasked (along with Tita Dory and Crystal) to talk for five minutes (each) about a year's worth of scientific progress. The five-minute talk was definitely a challenge because of the length; the time limit was a good thing too, because that meant that the audience's attention spans won't be something to worry about.  
Some people say that the five-minute presentation just a matter of creating five text slides and allotting one minute to talk about (or read) the contents of each slide. No rehearsals necessary. True, sort of. That's quick and simple to do. It, however, makes for five very slow minutes for the audience (unless they want to write down what's on the slides), just like in class. And rehearsals are still needed to make sure that the presentation is within the time limit.
I didn't want to present my report that way, definitely. 
As usual, I went back to my speaker role models for som…

The King and I at the Resorts World Manila

After "The Sound of Music", my aunt and I watched the Philippine production of "The King and I" at the Resorts World Manila's Newport Performing Arts Theater. That was over the weekend. I have always been puzzled why I couldn't seem to finish watching the movie version of this play, even if it was the 1956 film starring Yul Brynner. And I actually fell asleep when I was watching the 1999 Anna and the King film! (That's the one with Jodie Foster as Anna. To my defense, I did have jet lag at the time)
The matinee show was led by Bo Cerrudo as King Mongkut of Siam and by Sheila Valderrama as Anna Leonowens. Bo Cerrudo is great as the King, but Yul Brynner had made the role synonymous to him that it's difficult to imagine someone else playing the part. In fact, I don't even remember who Anna was in the 1956 movie. On the other hand, the stellar performance of Sheila Valderrama kept teacher Anna Leonowens from being overshadowed by the King. The art…

Best Western Plus Avita Suites

My home, during my trip to the US last month, was where my suitcase was. The second leg of my trip saw me transfer from the bayous of New Orleans to the coast of Torrance (in the Greater Los Angeles Area).
During my training week in Los Angeles, I stayed at the Best Western Plus Avita Suites. It's my first time to stay in a suite so I came largely unprepared when my room had its own kitchen area. There was no stove but there's a microwave, a coffee machine, and a fridge. I didn't bring eating utensils and dishwashing stuff! Aside from the kitchen, my room also had spacious living and working areas. And note that staying here was a lot more affordable than staying in a hotel! No wonder I saw a lot of families also staying there (probably on vacation) and people who looked like they were on business trips.
I liked my stay in Best Western. Aside from the nice room, the place is very close to the shopping mall (walking distance) and the beach (a 20-minute bus ride from the ma…

Flat Stanleys

Flat Stanleys, a set on Flickr. Via Flickr:
I first met Flat Stanley when Jeanne Lea introduced me to this children's story character.

Basically, Flat Stanley travels all over the world and has his photo taken wherever he finds himself. In these photos, he has gone to different places with me as I traveled in September and October 2012.

shopping mode

More rice science and GRiSP in the future. But first, I'm back to writing more about personal stuff...

---

On one slow evening after I'd gone back to my suite in Torrance, I took to surfing the internet about the shopping malls I've gone into, particularly inspired by my visit to the Del Amo Shopping Center. I realized, as I was reading about them, that I've been to some of the biggest shopping malls in my travels!

The floor areas are from Wikipedia. Naturally, most of the malls that I've gone to are in the Philippines. I was surprised that the local malls dwarf the one's I've seen overseas! I guess this indicates that Filipinos are mall rats, huh?
Here's a rundown:
SM North EDSA (504,900 m²)
In reality, I haven't been able to go around this huge mall just yet. The last time I went there, I was with friends for lunch and snacks. This shopping mall is different, compared to other malls, because the roof area was converted to al fresco dining spots and…