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Showing posts from 2014

Chicago

What better way to end a year than spending time with good food, good friends, and a good show, right?
In mid- December, I watched Chicago: The Musical with Claire, Trina, Renee, and Sara at the Solaire Theatre. The trip started off with some creative thinking. See, I totally forgot the my car wasn't allowed to traverse the city that day (due to a traffic reduction scheme). I, luckily, chose a city route that was exempted from the traffic scheme purely because I had wanted to avoid the traffic jams on the main route. The pitstop was the hotel where the three girls were sleeping over so I parked my car there. I didn't press my luck anymore by driving to Solaire because I might get flagged down on the road sections where the traffic scheme was enforced. 
At Solaire, we were met by posters about Chicago, such as this one:

It appeared that we were all dressed for the show's color motif, black and white! Unfortunately, Sara wasn't seated near us and wasn't in the pictur…

2014 in a nutshell

2014 has proved to have a hectic start. For one thing, January barely ended when I had to face three trips and I wasn't home alone for most of February. I realize, however, that I am such a small part in the overall scheme of things. So now, I list events and activities that make 2014 a unique year. Dr Achim Dobermann, IRRI's deputy director general for research, bid farewell (for the second time) as he gears for a life back in Europe. Dr Matthew Morell takes over his post.Ukraine faces political turmoil as Russian military troops enter in response to a crisis.  Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 disappeared into thin air shortly after it took off. Investigations, search and rescue operations, and hypotheses about this fateful flight have been flooding news channels daily. Some say the plane crashed somewhere along its original path while some say there is evidence pointing to a change in course. I am hopeful that the plane is found and the passengers are all accounted for soon.Se…

finding chocolate at Ghirardelli Square

After burning the calories we put in at Gira Polli by walking around Muir Woods and freezing while looking at the Golden Gate Bridge, Ate Maddie and I sought refuge at Ghirardelli Square... knowing that it must have some of the best hot chocolate in San Francisco. Once we were inside the restaurant, I felt like I entered the souvenir shop of Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory! We got distracted by the lollies on display and the chocolate samplers while we waited for our drinks.
And when our drinks finally came? My chocolate milkshake, topped with mini chocolate kisses, was so delicious! It's definitely more decadent than my signature order at Starbucks: choco chip cream frappuccino with soy milk and (pepper)mint syrup. I'll drink it again even with the cold weather. I just hope my throat doesn't get sore.




RIP, Patches. :(

Patches, one of the cats which call my home their home too, died yesterday sometime after I left the house. 
He's been seriously ill for a few weeks already. First, his appetite decreased and he increased his water intake. And then he showed signs of a skin condition and a big reduction in weight. Anna had a vet check him out and I've been giving the cat a medicated bath daily plus medication, as per doctor's orders. Patches began to appear as if he was recovering a few days into the medication... but that was only until I noticed that he started becoming constantly disorientated and losing his balance while walking to his food and to his water bowls. It was all downhill from there.  
Yesterday morning, I observed that Patches was struggling to walk for his daily morning greeting. He was so quiet, sun-bathing. He came to the food bowl but didn't touch his food. I realised that the end was near, alarmingly near. That made me worried and sad but I thought I'd still …

Space, the next frontier

One, I still can't stop thinking about the awesome visuals and the genius juxtaposition of the musical score in Interstellar
Two, I believe that space exploration is ready to go into leaps and bounds again. After all, probes were shot and successfully landed on a comet... yes, ala Armageddon; but without the end-of-the-world premise. And NASA has launched the Orion spaceship a few days ago. It looks like someone's going to Mars!!
Three, astronauts and cosmonauts who currently fly on space missions have caught the attention (albeit maybe not as much as during the Apollo programs) of many people, particularly because of the stunning images of Earth they transmit back to us from miles up in the atmosphere.
Thus, when I stumbled upon two videos about space exploration, I thought it's a good idea to share them. The first video is about what astronauts captured while in the International Space Station. It shows stunning images of the clouds, lightning, city lights, and aurora…

Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (2014)

Back in 2006, two French post-docs introduced me to Australian culture by projecting "The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert" on their terrace house's wall. It was an opportunity for me to see the Australian outback (which I knew I wouldn't see as a student) and alternative lifestyles (blown up to extravagant proportions). It was fitting that I'd see it that time, while residing in the very cosmopolitan suburb of Newtown, Sydney: lots of members of the LGBT community, students from the University of Sydney (where I first enrolled for graduate school), and artistic individuals with brightly coloured hair. Definitely a lot of things to bewilder a sheltered provincial girl from the Philippines who went to live in a city far away from home and family for the first time in her life. Culture shock!
So, when I heard that an adaptation of the movie, entitled Priscilla, Queen of the Desert The Musical, was being staged in Manila, I decided to watch it, for nost…

Rush (2013)

Music is one factor that draws me to keep watching a movie on cable tv; particularly a movie that I've never watched before. In this case, it was the sense of urgency evoked by the score of Rush (directed by Ron Howard) that got me hooked. No; the music was not like the typical soundtrack associated with race car movies. Definitely very distinct from the themes of Gran Turismo (the video game) or of The Fast and The Furious movie series. And it was surely different from the music I've listened to when I wandered accidentally into a car show in UPLB. However, the feel and the visuals of the movie showed what it's like to be amid the frenzy of a race track.
Anyway, the story is about two rival race car drivers vying for the championship in the 1976 Formula One Grand Prix, Niki Lauda and James Hunt. Their attitudes towards racing contrasted the other; Lauda was calculating the risk of each of the races he participated in while Hunt raced as if that day was the last. Their ri…

When the going gets rough, whip out the camera!

"Just when the conditions get difficult, that's when adventure photographers get their cameras out."

– Cory Richards, Masters of Photography course (National Geographic)
My adventures tend to be tame, if we compare them to National Geographic standards. However, I particularly like what Cory Richards said in his photography course because there are times when the conditions are suboptimal for photography so I miss good photo ops. And by suboptimal, I only mean that the conditions are too dark, too bright, too windy, too dusty, too slippery, too salty, or dangerously close to the water... any condition that could damage my gear (what gear??? the only add-on to my camera is my trusty tripod). 
There are times too when my stubborn self decides to go take pictures anyway despite the risks to my camera. And the resulting pictures, though not at par with professional shots, are pretty amazing to me. If you find them to be bleh, it's okay. I'm just happy with how they turn…

Interstellar (2014)

I've always been fascinated with space exploration; it began when I was introduced to the possibility of going to an outer space colony and using bubble gum as a plug for holes made by tiny rocks floating in space, colliding with the space ship. That fascination was even more strengthened when I started learning about the NASA test pilots who pushed the limits by going to the Moon and back... with the most dramatic of them all, Apollo 13, being my favorite story.
And so I was very curious about Interstellar, a film starring Anne Hathaway, Matthew McConaughey, and Michael Caine (among others) and directed by Chris Nolan. Of course, one motivations to see this film is Chris Nolan... I'm a fan of his works (his Batman trilogy, Inception, The Prestige...).
It began with a very bleak worldview, very similar with Transcendence, as I understand it: the world is going back to its less high-tech roots. In the case of Transcendence, it's about going off the Internet grid; for Inter…

a case of mistaken identity

Talk about embarrassing!

I was watching an episode of Extras, entitled "Samuel L. Jackson" one evening. That episode dealt with Andy's (Ricky Gervais) stint as an extra in a film being shot with Samuel L. Jackson. It also featured how Maggie (Ashley Jensen) mishandled communications with a mixed-race actor about race, leading to bad and comical consequences. The way she put herself in that situation was certainly embarrassing but what made me shake my head in disbelief was what came next: She talked with Jackson the following day, mistaking him for Laurence Fishburne (who definitely is NOT Samuel L. Jackson!). 
Disbelief, yes, because mistaking actors for other actors was one thing I did too! If not recognising Craig David when I was right beside him in Glorietta 5 or not recognising Manny Pacquiao when I saw him surrounded by his bodyguards in Ortigas weren't embarrassing enough...
A few years ago, I was at Al Gore's Inconvenient Truth lecture at the SMX Convent…

at the Caliraya Resort Club

I had the opportunity to visit the Caliraya Resort Club one more time this year. Previously, it was with Ate Madie and Trisha and we went there out of curiosity one summer afternoon. Other times I've been on the lake, I've been learning how to wakeboard. Therefore, this last visit (my second day in Caliraya for this visit, actually) was my first time to roam around the resort and take photos early... as in right after sunrise, when very few people were up and about. Perfect time to take photos of flowers, dew, bugs, and maybe the view. 

No running in November...

My right foot got injured exactly a month before my only road race of 2014. Being the stubborn girl that I am, and despite my friends saying that I'm not supposed to run yet, I still hoped I'd be ready and healed by November 16th. Race Day. Maybe, they just didn't understand that I needed the motivation to get my foot ready or something. In any case, I knew that if my foot wasn't ready, I wouldn't do it. Healing takes time; it's not something that responds to a deadline set without considering health factors...
So, instead of lugging a heavy heart, I heaved a sigh of relief when the organizers of the road race announced, via email, that the race has been moved to March 2015. That was one race I would have surely passed on if it pushed through. And now, there's a possibility that I can run in it! 
Before I got injured, most of my November weekends were filled with sports activities: wakeboarding on the first weekend; running on the second weekend; surfing on…

Bon voyage, Nelzo!

Nelzo's moving to Cambridge! So on one of his last days in the Philippines before he left, he had to attend (yet again) to a send-off party for him. This one's at Dalcielo's with Rizza, Kuya Rhulyx, Ate Mers, and Jo.
He has a pretty hectic schedule so we totally understood when he had to leave us after he ate. That didn't mean we left, though... We continued the send-off party after he left! 
Have a safe trip and I hope you enjoy your stint in England! There are no good byes among friends; see you soon!! (But not too soon... Get settled in England first.)
                                     (Nelzo distributing the butter pecan-flavored ice cream)
(Before the ice cream)

Matty's over-reminded 33rd birthday :)

He calls my 2014 birthday "over-celebrated" because I had a week's worth of birthday parties coinciding with the FIFA World Cup in Brazil. His birthday this year, I am calling the "over-reminded" birthday because my mobile phone and laptop decided that I had to have not one, but many, alerts! 
I'm sure I've been pressing the Close and not the Snooze button so I was really getting puzzled as the day wore on.

The story of my November 11 this year could be summed up by a Monty Python-inspired birthday card:

He was so excited and happy about his birthday, that I can say so myself. And I am glad that I was able to contribute to this happiness by helping him organise the venue for the most insignificant of birthday numbers (he always jokes that the 33rd birthday is the most insignificant of the lot). We initially reserved 10 seats for dinner at the Black Pig, one of my favourite restaurants in Alabang; but by the time we left Los Baños, the group had grown t…

Mag-biotech ka na!

Many years ago, I was seated at the Havener Auditorium listening to scientists talk about the future of international agricultural research. Given the date of that discussion, it's a question about who's going to continue tilling the land six years from now and beyond.
I have to admit that I surprise myself a lot of times. Barely a year after sitting in that discussion, I found myself talking about being a scientist in my very first career day (either as a speaker or as part of the audience) event for high school students, as part of efforts to encourage students to pursue agriculture as a career choice. Somehow, I've made it a point to grab opportunities that can help encourage kids to give science careers a second look... after all, I'm living my first-grade self's dream career, that of becoming a scientist.
The most recent career day event I got the privilege to be part of was aimed at encouraging students to take up agricultural biotechnology. It was part of t…

Bangkok food trip: Gelato Vintage

Fish. Otep and I were looking for live, swimming, colourful fish. 
When we disembarked the BTS SkyTrain at Udom Suk, we followed how we understood the instructions and ended up in a wet market that sold freshly caught (and ready-to-cook) fish. Not willing to give up, we ventured further into Udom Suk. During the hunt for the goldfish, we became very hungry and so every food item we saw looked delicious... but nothing tempted us to actually stop except these glorious brightly coloured gelato in tubs. We just had to take a break, reward ourselves for finding the fish, and try them out!


These mouth-watering treats were being sold in the aptly named Gelato Vintage. As usual, the first person I had in mind as Otep and I entered this shop was Man because he's always been the food trip buddy with a good eye for food photography. Knowing Man, however, I knew that he was somewhere else in Bangkok, taking his sweet time to take photos of his meals. 
As Otep and I were looking at the select…

Bangkok food trip: Royal Dragon Restaurant

Second evening in Bangkok.
The day was exciting. It's my first time to go behind the scenes of a major event in the field of rice sciences: I helped prepare the IRRI exhibit; I went shopping for goldfish with Otep; and I toured the Bangkok International Trade and Exhibition Centre (BITEC). Oh, and I grabbed one of the very few opportunities I had to see what I can of the city when Otep and I got lost in Udom Suk and when I went shopping for supplies for the exhibit. 
The next time I turned around to look through the glass wall of BITEC, all I saw was darkness. Evening had fallen and it was time for dinner! I joined the Comms Team at the Royal Dragon Restaurant, a few minutes' walk from BITEC. Nothing prepared me for the size of the restaurant. Let's just say that it is only the BIGGEST restaurant in the world! Even the signage by the road is huge! I thought we were eating atop a tall building because of the sign.
It reminded me of Isdaan, the most grandiose restaurant I&#…

Happy birthday, Biboy!! :D

My baby brother has joined us in the 30s. Not quite a baby anymore, surely, but still the youngest in the brood of three. Welcome to the club! Since Anna and I couldn't be there with you on you special day, I made a photo slideshow for you. :)

#IRC2014: Listening in on scientific sessions...

Since my main assignment in this year's International Rice Congress was in the IRRI exhibit, I got to attend only a few sessions in the latest IRC, held in Bangkok. My notes took the form of tweets, resulting from my live-tweeting assignment for the week. Now that I've got some spare time post-conference, I round them up and try to make sense of them. Here goes...
Glutinous rice is a fabric of life in Asia. —PSattaka When I was a grad student, my research work focused on understanding starch properties of glutinous rice, or what Filipinos call malagkit. This type of rice has a rather small market (~2%, according to the presentation) since it is mostly used as a base for desserts and food for special occasions in the bigger parts of the world. Indeed, it is a food that binds Asians together culturally. But in a relatively small part of the world, mainly in Lao PDR, northern Thailand, and pockets of Indochina, glutinous rice is a staple. Yes, the consumers there eat glutinous ric…

Bangkok food trip: Pizzeria da Luigi

Thailand is known for its cuisine. I was raring to eat real Thai food in Thailand as I've only tasted versions of it in San Francisco, Sydney, Los Baños, and Manila. One of my favourite dishes in cooking class, Thai beef salad, features the right balance of different tastes; and it is exactly this balance that I was looking forward to experience when I landed in Bangkok.
Since it's my first time in the bustling city, I figured that it would be a good idea to eat my first meal with Matty, who had been in Bangkok before. Meeting him was quite a challenge because I discovered that the hotel I was staying at, the Heritage Hotel, was not as easily accessible to train transportation. I had to take a cab to go anywhere in the city, which was the reason behind a crash course in how to speak English with a Thai accent (thanks to the hotel's concierge).
Once we've met, Matty and I started looking for a place to eat. Out of habit, I took photos of sights along Sukhumvit Road–bre…