App and Down

It’s mid August. In about 2 months it will be time for the Des Moines Marathon, in which I plan to participate in the half marathon run. I have not registered though, because I’m still feeling myself if I would be ready for it.

It has been a while since I posted progress of my training. As you already know, I even have a running app to track my pace and distance to aid me on my training. The farthest distance I covered so far is 6 miles in my current training period. I also was able to get my pace under 11 minutes.

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But that was about a month ago. Since then, I am struggling. I even am sliding down on my distance and pace. So I was hopeful that today, I can steer my course in the right direction.

By the moment I went out this morning to run, I was captivated by the sunrise. For some reason it has a different hue or color. It’s orange-red. (Sorry, but the photos I have below do not give real justice to the striking splendor of the sunrise.)

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Then I thought that it could be from the many ongoing wild fires from California that is giving the sky a different haze, even though Iowa is 1,500 miles away from California. My thoughts and prayers goes out to those who are directly affected by these wild fires.

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Back to my run, I was able to complete a 3-mile run, but not to the pace I wanted.

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What’s my excuse this time? Stopping and taking too many photos of the crazy sunrise!

Yet in life, sometimes we are so engrossed in the task at hand that we don’t appreciate the beauty around us. We don’t stop to smell the roses. Or stop and admire the sunrise.

In my case, I have no regrets of stopping and capturing the moment. Have a good week everyone!

(*photos taken with an iPhone)

 

The Grand Masters

I like playing chess. It is a game of intelligence, strategy, and mental stamina. However, because it needs thoughtful moves and concentration, that is if you’re serious on winning, playing it can be time-consuming. Considering that you have a worthy opponent too. Did you know that the longest game on record took 269 moves and it ended in a draw? All those moves for a draw!

The shortest game can be won in 2 moves, but it can only happen if your opponent is so naive. Thus this is aptly known as the “Fool’s Mate.” By the way, the word “Checkmate” in chess comes from the Persian phrase “Shah Mat,” which means “the King is dead.”

I taught my son to play chess when he was still little, and since then he always wanted to challenge me, hoping to outwit the ‘master’ who taught him. Well, he’s not so little anymore now, and he has become a worthy opponent.

Recently we were in a place so idyllic, that we don’t mind spending a lot of time there, even if we were engaged in a serious game of chess.

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Don’t get me wrong, we are far from being world-class level, nor do we have the crazy delusion that we are Grandmasters in chess. Grandmaster is a title that is only awarded by the world chess organization to players who have ascended to the highest level of mastery of the game. There are specific and strict criteria of earning this prestigious title.

Yet since we were playing chess in this particular place, I think we can be called ‘Grand’ Masters. At least for the time we were there.

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(*photos taken at the “Grand” Hotel in Mackinac Island, Michigan)

A Place Somewhere In Time

Nestled between the upper and lower peninsula of Michigan is a place where time stood still. The Mackinac Island, located in Lake Huron, is a popular tourist attraction due to its certain appeal. This place has undergone extensive historical preservation and restoration and is considered a National Historic Landmark.

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I have heard of this place from a partner of mine when we moved to the Midwest more than a decade ago, but it was only recently that we were able to check this place out.

Mackinac Island is only reachable by a ferry from either Mackinac City or St. Ignace. These are fast hydro-jet ferries and only takes less than 20 minutes to get into the island.

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As winter can be brutal in this part of Michigan, most businesses on the island, hotels included, are only open from May to October. Though there are residents that stayed on the island even through the winter.

Visiting Mackinac Island is like walking back in time, as houses and buildings are mostly built from the glorious era of the past, or at least they are made to look that way.

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The island is not only for history fans but also attract nature lovers. There are lots of beautiful sights to enjoy, either cultivated or natural.

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Tourists who visit Mackinac Island are called “fudgies.” I believe the reason for this is that the island has several fudge stores, and all of them offer free samples. So the tourists definitely take advantage of this, us included. But we also brought some home, as we felt obliged to buy after sampling a lot of them.

One of the most unique feature of the island is that there are no cars here. All motorized vehicles are banned on the entire island since 1898. There are only three motorized vehicles in the island: an ambulance, 1 police car, and a fire truck. So to get around, you either walk, bike, or take a taxi. Of course the taxis are horse-drawn carriages.

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When you’re on the island, time is not an essence. People here take their time leisurely. And even if you are in a rush, you cannot hurry the horses. The horses rarely trot, and most of the time they walk. They don’t gallop. If you’re a fast walker, it may be even faster than riding the carriage. As I said, time here stand still.

Horses rule the island. They have only one physician in the whole island, but they have three veterinarians available here. So you know where their priority lies in this place.

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One of the down-side of having many horses walking the streets, is that the roads are littered with their manure.

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The smell is undeniable and sometimes can be overwhelming. But there are many people employed here as a “pooper-scooper.” They even have a mechanized street sweeper or cleaner. Of course it is also horse-drawn (photo below).

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Beside the horse-drawn carriage tour, another faster way than walking, to tour the island is to go biking. And that’s what my family and I did. The whole island is only 8 miles around, though there are some steep hills that may be challenging to ride up.

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One of the most iconic place in the island is the Grand Hotel which opened its doors way back in 1887. As the name implies, it really is grand. It even has its signature horse-drawn carriages available for their patrons.

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This hotel has hosted many presidents, dignitaries, and famous people in its existence. Even if you don’t stay in this hotel (as it is a little pricey) you can still tour it for a minimal fee. It remains one of the most visited place in the island.

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The hotel is also known in the popular culture as this is where the classic movie “Somewhere in Time,” starring Christopher Reeves and Jane Seymour, was filmed. The film is about a time traveler who fell in love with someone in the past. They chose this location for the obvious reason that the hotel have not changed much even in the passing of time.

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Overall, we really enjoyed our trip to Mackinac Island. Even though we are not time travelers, perhaps we can be considered as such, as we felt like we visited the “past.” And we definitely fell in love too from something in the “past.”

From Mackinac Island,

Pinoy Transplant

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(*all photos taken with an iPhone)

No Uber

I have used Uber several times before to get around in places we visited. I have used this ride in cities like Chicago, Boston and New York City.

However in our recent trip to this certain place, there was no Uber. In fact, this was their equivalent of Uber:

It is not only Uber that is banned in this place, but all motorized vehicles for that matter. It is like being stuck in the 19th century.

I guess we just have to use our legs to get around.

(*photos taken in Mackinac Island, Michigan)

Hindi Tanaw

Landas na tinatahak ay ‘di man malinaw,

At ang paroroonan ay ‘di ko matanaw,

Ngunit sigurado ako sa aking layunin,

Kaya’t patutunguha’y tiyak na mararating.

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(*thoughts while running on this foggy morning; photo taken with an iPhone)

*******

For my non-Filipino readers, here’s a loose translation, though I think it lost some of its poetic edginess:

The path I tread may be dreary,

Where I would go I cannot see,

Yet I’m certain where I want to be,

And there for sure, I would be.

Friday the 13th

Today is Friday the 13th. For superstitious folks out there, please beware!

Many people consider this as the unluckiest day in the calendar. According to an article from National Geographic, the fear surrounding Friday the 13th may be rooted in religious beliefs. It has to do with the 13th guest at the Last Supper, who is Judas, the apostle who betrayed Jesus, who in turn was crucified on a Friday.

The fear for Friday the 13th is so widespread that psychologists even have a term for people who suffers from it: paraskavedekatriaphobia. That’s a mouthful. The irrational fear for the number 13 is called triskaidekaphobia.

Irrational or not, many buildings don’t have a 13th floor. So elevators will go from 12th floor and then skip to 14th floor. In 2002, based on an internal review of records, a report from Otis Elevator Company estimated that 85% of the buildings with Otis brand elevators did not have a floor named the 13th floor.

Most hotels have no room 13. Many hospitals have no room 13. Even our own ICU has no room 13. So you think medical institutions are not superstitious? Though I get it, I think patients or their family will freak out if they learn that they are being admitted to ICU room 13.

Speaking of ICU, I have been the ICU attending for the past couple of weeks now. It has been busy, plus you know that July is when the new residents or physicians-in-training start, so it is an added stressor to me. To destress, I blog.

It is known in the medical world that the rate of medical errors and surgical complications spikes in the month of July. The hospitals even have a name for it: the July effect. This is not due to a mystical phenomenon, but due to a very logical reason stemming from the inexperience of the newbie doctors.

Thus I am supervising and watching my residents like a hawk this time of year. And today, Friday July 13th, I will even be more vigilant.

To end, in connection to mystical events, I would like to share a story that was posted by a batchmate in the group chat:

Murder Mystery at the Makati Medical Center

There was this case in the hospital’s Intensive Care Unit where patients always die in the same bed on Sunday mornings at 11 A.M., regardless of their medical condition. This puzzled the doctors and some even thought that it had something to do with the supernatural or even murder. No one could solve the mystery as to why deaths happen on Sunday at 11 A.M.

Mr. Licauco, Fr. Bulatao and the Ateneo paranormal folks were called. They arrived armed with special photographic equipment, infra-red devices and motion sensitive radar to detect any presence.

So on the next Sunday morning, a few minutes before 11 AM, all the doctors and nurses nervously  waited outside the ward to see for themselves what the mysterious phenomenon was all about. Some were holding wooden crosses, strings of garlic, amulets, prayer books and other holy objects to ward off evil spirits.

Just then, the clock struck 11. And then……..

Mang Joe, the part-time Sunday janitor, entered the ward, unplugged the life support system and plugged in the vacuum cleaner.

Have a happy Friday the 13th folks!

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(*photo from the web)

Electric Reminiscing

Last week during July 4th celebration, we had an experience that reminded me of my days in the Philippines. You may say, how can be a holiday that is so American (US Independence Day) remind me of my home country, the Philippines? Please stay with me and keep on reading.

Our last 4th of July was kind of unusual as we were invited for dinner by our friend to celebrate it with their friend, whom I never met before. We celebrated the holiday in a farm about an hour drive away from our home, in the outskirt of a small town of rural Iowa. We had dinner – burgers, hotdogs, potato salad, and vegetable salad (very American meal) – in a log cabin near a small pond. Then when darkness came we sat in our camping chairs and watched the fireworks that was fired from the nearby town.

Even though the setting of the log cabin was similar to a small barrio back home, but that’s not what reminded me of the Philippines.

Earlier that day, since it’s a holiday and I wanted my wife to take a break too from the kitchen, so we went out for lunch. We chose a restaurant that is located in a large shopping complex close to our home. After we were seated and only a few minutes after our order was taken by the waitress, the power went out. A blackout!

Why do we call it blackout or brownout? Technically the lights are out so it’s black or dark. Should it be “black in?” And is there a difference between blackout and brownout? Many people, including me, think they are synonymous. But according to energy company’s definition, a blackout is a total power outage while a brownout is a partial reduction in system voltage or system capacity. Now I learned something too.

So while we were sitting in the restaurant without power, that brought me back memories of the power outages in Manila.

I was reminded of those candlelight dinners we had, not because we were creating a romantic ambience, but because there’s no electricity and yet we need some light so not to swallow the fish bones. Those sweltering heat that all you can do was to fan yourself with the abaniko made of fronds from buri palm. For your information, we don’t have air-conditioning in our Manila home, but we have a few Standard or Hitachi electric fans.

Most of the people, at least from our neighborhood, would go outside in the street and hangout in front of their houses when the power is out. No TV to watch any teleserye, and it’s too hot to relax or nap indoors. So no other recourse but to gossip with your neighbors outside while enjoying Manila’s evening breeze. Lahat istambay sa kalye. 

Those blackouts most of the time, would last one to two hours.  And during the 1980’s to early 90’s, we had rolling blackouts or scheduled power outages, to conserve energy as there’s not enough power supply to cope with Metro Manila’s increasing electric need. Or perhaps the government just thought it was a good fad.

Sometimes it was not just once a day that we had blackouts, as it could be twice a day or more. With the lights going on and off so often, all business becomes “patay-sindi.” Of course the real “patay-sindi” establishments or the red-light districts just gets darker. And when the power is out, Metro Manila becomes one big sauna place, with its residents sweating profusely that no amount of tawas or Rexona matters.

Even hospitals and other vital facilities were not spared from this power outages. Some of the facilities have their own power generator, but even then, their generators cannot supply all their facility’s electric need. So maybe the generators can support the power for the lights, but not the air conditioning or some other functions.

When we were 4th year medical students, one of the roles we have was to become human ventilators. One of our sign-outs was the list of all patients in the hospital on mechanical ventilator. So when the power goes out, we all would run to our assigned patients and manually ambu-bagged the patient for the next hour or so, or until the power returns. Squeezing the ambubag for an hour was a good exercise for the forearm though and it strengthens the grip. I just did not realize until then that, that was one of my duties when I signed up for medical school.

When the long-awaited electric power finally returns, you could hear a loud hurray and even applause from the whole neighborhood. As if we need to cheer the energy company for restoring the power. It’s like it was our “utang na loob” to have our electricity back. Utang na loob na buhay ‘yan!

Back to our 4th of July lunch in the restaurant, as we waited for our food, the waitress told us that our food would be ready soon. They might have gas-powered grills as they can still cook even without electricity. Though it was already starting to get hot inside as there’s no a/c. They did not have to bring out candles though as it was still bright with all the windows open. We were not given the reason for the power outage which in the first place, was a very rare occasion here.

Not too long after, our food came. The restaurants closed its doors for new customers but let those people inside finish their meals. After we were done eating, the waitress told us with a smile that we can go and don’t have to pay, as our meal was on the house. I think with their computers off, we can’t pay with credit cards anyway.

I left a generous tip on the table, both for the free lunch and for the evoked reminiscing – a sultry trip down memory lane.

Basagketbulero 2

Sangayon sa mga balita, kasalukyang iniimbistigahan ng International Basketball Federation ang naganap na insidente sa laro ng Gilas Pilipinas at Australian Boomers. Hindi pa alam kung anong parusa ang ibababa sa mga sangkot sa labu-labong suntukang nangyari sa basketball court.

Inakusahan ni Luc Longley, dating NBA player ng Chicago Bulls at kasalukuyang associate coach ng Australian basketball team, ang head coach ng Pilipinas na si Chot Reyes na ginatungan nito diumano ang kanyang mga players, kaya nauwi sa rumble ang laro.

Dinepensahan naman ng dating coach ng Pilipinas na si Yeng Guiao si coach Chot Reyes. Sabi ni Guiao wala raw kasalanan ang kasalukuyang coach at hindi dapat itong idiin sa mga nakakabahalang pangyayari.

Ganoon pa man, hindi nagustuhan ng Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas ang naging papel ni coach Reyes sa mga kaganapan. Hindi rin nila nagustuhan ang “performance” ng ating mga manlalaro at ang estado na kulang sa “skills” at “training” ang ating mga basketbulero.

Dahil dito ay tinibag na si Chot Reyes.

Ito na ang kanyang kapalit:

(*Ang balitang ito ay hindi fake news. Totoo, peksman.)

Basagketbulero

Basketball at boxing. Ito ay dalawang libangan na paborito nating mga Pilipino. Pero sa Pilipinas, kadalasan pinagsasama ang dalawang sports na ito sa iisang event.

Mula basketball sa kalye, liga sa baranggay, tournament ng mga kolehiyo, hanggang professional basketball games sa Pilipinas, ay minsan (o madalas), nauuwi sa suntukan. Ngayon umapaw pa ito hanggang sa international games. Siguro naman ay alam ng lahat ang nangyari sa FIBA games sa laban ng Pilipinas at Australia.

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Siguro may mga ilan din sa inyo ang nakakatanda noong 1998 sa isang exhibition game sa America, ang ating Philippine Centennial Team, kasama sila Marlou Aquino at Andy Seigle, ay nakipagsuntukan sa Minnesota college basketball team.

Ang mga Pilipino ba ay sadyang “Basagketbulero?” Basketbulero + basagulero.

Hindi ko sinasabing hindi ko naranasan ito. Dahil noong ako’y naglalaro pa ng basketball sa kalsada sa aming lugar, may mga panahon na nagkakainitan ang laro, lalo na kung ang mga kalaro (o kalaban) ay taga ibang kalye o mga dayo. Kahit nga iyong pa-liga ng aming simbahan, oo magkakapatid na sa pananampalataya, ay nauuwi pa rin sa away. Pero hindi naman ako nakakasama sa suntukan, dahil mabilis akong tumakbo – tumakbong palayo!

Bakit nga kaya?

Dahil kaya sadyang mapusok tayong maglaro ng basketball? Dahil kaya tayo ay lahi ng mga palaban? Dahil kaya may dugo tayong lahat na boksingero at gustong maging Pacquiao? Pero in fairness kay Pacquiao, kahit naging basketbulero din siya, hindi siya nakipagboksing habang nasa basketball court, sa boxing ring lang.

Baka naman dahil may mentality tayong “walang iwanan,” na kapag inapi ang ating kasama ay igaganti natin ito ano man ang mangyari? Ito ang rason na ginagamit ng iba sa ating mga manlalaro. O kaya naman ay mayroon tayong “rumble mentality” – hindi masaya kung walang away. O dahil ba madali tayong mapikon at wala tayong “self-restraint?”

Hindi ko alam ang tunay na dahilan. Ngunit nakakalungkot na inaalis natin ang “sport” sa larangan ng “sports.”

Kahit ako ay Pilipino, ang boksing sa basketball ay hinding-hindi ko maipagmamalaki.

(*photoshopped image from the web)