Wednesday, December 31, 2014

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.
  • Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago visited IRRI during the International Women's Day celebration on March 11. Trust her to bring in the laughs while talking about politics, the economy, social welfare, and women. I was truly entertained during the event. 
  • People going up Mt Banahaw on a pilgrimage in March decided they wanted to light candles. Hello, brush fire! Without any rain coming for the next few days, the firefighters faced a big and dangerous challenge of quelling the fire on this sacred mountain.
  • A total lunar eclipse happened on April 15th. Unfortunately, the sky was hazy and mountains blocked my view of the first of a series of lunar eclipses. Judging by the beautiful pictures in websites, this one must have been a spectacle to see. Oh well, better luck next time to me!
  • Friends of mine graduated from General Medicine, Nursing, and a fellowship in Cardiology. Two nieces and a nephew have graduated from grade school and college. A very very good way to start 2014 Q2, indeed. :)
  • U.S. President Barack Obama visited the Philippines in April. I wasn't paying too much attention to the news coverage because that's when I was working on many technical papers or was cooking at home.
  • Pope John Paul II became a saint. That was fast... Really fast!
  • My post-doctoral fellowship ended. But not without me realizing that my circle of friends has grown immensely.
  • I took up wakeboarding this year... and I'm teaching myself how to use iMovie and GarageBand for video post-production.  :)
  • The FIFA World Cup happened. Germany emerged as the winner and I was told to stop gloating when my brother's team lost though he was gloating when my teams fell off the rung one by one. Sore loser.
  • I started teaching at the Ateneo de Manila University. 
  • Another Malaysian Airlines flight (MH17) fell off the sky, this time shot down somewhere in Russia or Ukraine. It was a bad day for medicine because among those killed were HIV experts en route to an AIDS conference.
  • Typhoon season kicked off with Rammasun. Now we watch as low-pressure weather disturbances start lining up, as if queued in a shooting range, with the Philippines in their sights.
  • Robin Williams, one of the most well-known comics, died in August. Two of my favourite movies of his, Jack and Dead Poets' Society, ironically, are not laugh-out-loud funny.
  • I took up flying trapeze this year... and loved it!
  • Another total lunar eclipse happened in October and I dropped everything to be able to watch it from the best seat on campus: the middle of the road where there were no trees close by to block the view.
  • Juan Flavier, one of my science and communication heroes, died in October. His slogan, "Let's DOH It!", was one of the snappiest one-liners I've ever heard.
  • The "Olympics of Rice", the International Rice Congress, was held in Bangkok, Thailand. I was an exhibitor and a member of the press!
  • Man has successfully landed a spaceship on a comet! Sounds very Armageddon to me. I Don't Want to Miss a Thing was my earworm for several days after the news broke.
  • The Philippines is bracing for a strong typhoon yet again! Supertyphoon Hagupit (known locally as Ruby) packed winds at 100–185kph and struck the Visayas and Southern Luzon in December. Certainly not like the monster Typhoon Haiyan was but people were ready this time: we now know what storm surges are and are more receptive to evacuation orders. The good news is that Tacloban, seriously hit by Haiyan, was spared.
  • NASA successfully launched Orion, a spaceship that will eventually bring exploration to a new level: deep space. Someone's going to Mars!! and someone's going to make the visual feats that are Chris Nolan's Interstellar and Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey come true!!
  • Another plane vanishes from the sky. In late December, an AirAsia plane (flight 8501) lost contact while en route from Indonesia to Singapore. This year proves to be challenging to airlines. Still, statistics show that air travel is still the safest mode of transportation.
What a year. 2014 was a challenge accepted. 2015 will yet be another challenging and exciting year. Keeping my fingers crossed and seat buckled for the new roller coaster ride.