Eating Out

It is officially summertime in our area. Summer solstice was June 21, so our days are long and hot. Time for picnics and grilling outside.

A couple of days ago, I came home early and my wife asked me to accompany her to the grocery store. She said she’s going to prepare a special dinner and needed to buy some items.  She saw in the internet this “summer dish” and wanted to try it.

After we got home and after some time and much loving effort, our dinner was ready. The new dish my wife prepared is called the Italian grilled vegetable salad. I am not a food blogger, so I’m not enumerating the ingredients needed to make this dish nor would I pretend that I know how to prepare it. Though I think some of you can figure it out just by looking at the photo below.

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I know it’s a deviation from our usual Filipino food we have at home. Where’s the pancit? Where’s the adobo?

It rained heavily early that afternoon so it cooled down a bit. The temperature outside was very comfortable and did not feel like an oven. We checked the forecast too and there should be no more rain the rest of the day.

So to make it a perfect summer dinner we decided that we should eat out too. No, not eat out in a restaurant. I mean eat out, outdoor in our deck.

The earlier downpour plus the strong winds also drove the insects away. Many times there are lots of flies around that you can’t eat out without having a fly swatter in hand. Besides, the rain already washed our outdoor table and chairs clean.

Eating outdoor is popular during summer time. Even fancy restaurants here have patio outside where you can dine. However, I still feel uneasy sometimes when the tables outside the restaurant is near a street where people passing by can see your every bite or can even grab your food. Maybe it’s just me.

After elaborate preparation – setting our table and taking all the food out, we were ready to eat. Of course we took a photo first before we chomp down the food (photo below).

IMG_6707.jpgNote how presentable and artful our table was. It was Instagram worthy. For you readers, I want to let you know that we usually don’t dine like this. Most of the time we scoop our food to our plate directly from the pots and pans. And knife and table napkins, who need those? Please also note the tomatoes, not on the table but on the planter near the table. They are not ripe yet though.

After saying grace and after we literally took our first bite, the rain started falling. Yes, rain! Darn! Can’t trust those weather forecasters.

We hurried back and carried all the food inside. We ended up eating inside our home just like we do everyday. Our “perfect” outdoor dinner was ruined by the rain. Though it would take more than rain to ruin our evening or break our spirits. We remain thankful, after all, it was still a very satisfying dinner.

At least we can claim we ate outside. Even for one bite.

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(*photos taken with an iPhone)

App To No Good

In January 2011, the American Dialect Society named “app” the word of the year for 2010. Today, that word is engrained in our daily vocabulary. App is shortened for application, something that you download in your mobile device. I think everybody knows what an app is, unless you’re living under a rock.

There are more than 2 million app available in Apple app store currently, and for Android users, there are about 3.5 million apps. If you think about something, there’s probably an app for that. This technology has been part of our day-to-day life and it’s really on the up and up, or should I say, on the app and app.

I have several apps on my smart phone that make my life “easier.” I have an app for the weather alerts, an app to know where I park my car, an app to read and check the latest medical literature and studies, an app to do my banking, an app to control the air-conditioner or heater at my home even if I’m not home, and app to listen to Filipino radio stations, even if I’m 8000 miles away from the Philippines.

You already know that for about 3 weeks now, I have been using an app to help me improve my running (see previous post, App for the Challenge and App to Speed). I started with a pace of about 11 minutes per mile but with the aid of the app I was able to decrease it to 10 minutes per mile on my last run.

After a couple of runs with a faster pace, this week it was my objective to build on that and further improve my pace. My goal is to have it under 10 minutes or even a 9-minute mile.

But I failed!

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I ran a longer distance this time though.

I can think of a hundred reasons of why I was not able to achieve that goal. First, I had only 5 hours of sleep the night before I made that morning run.

Second, it was hot outside when I ran, with the temperature near 80º Fahrenheit. I know that was not really hot, especially if I consider that I grew up in a tropical country. But for me I rather run in a 30-60º F temperature and just layer up in my running gear. If the temperature is 90º F or higher? Forget it, that can kill a runner.

Third, the app did not give me wings in my feet.

Fourth, the app failed to give me more air in my lungs.

But I think the only acceptable reason is that running a 9-minute mile is not as easy as I thought, and I am not as fast and strong as I believe I am. As in most endeavor, it takes time and perseverance to achieve what you aim for. Maybe it would take me few more weeks or even months to attain that lofty goal. Or maybe never.

For now, I’ll just blame it on the app.

(*background photo taken during my run)

 

For Fathers Who Aren’t In Heaven

Sad stories are life’s reality. Several weeks ago I heard one sad story. It was told by a young man, but he did not even relayed it to me. I just overheard it.

We were in a youth camporee, and I went there as a supervising adult (see previous post). There were more than 300 boys and girls from several youth clubs that came to that camping.

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evening worship at the camp

One morning in the boy’s public bathroom, I was in one of the toilet stalls minding my own business. There was no phone signal in the camp, so I cannot surf the web on my smart phone to keep me entertained. I was just watching a small spider spinning his web at one corner of the stall.

(Sorry, this is my second post in a row that discuss something about restrooms. It is not my intention to turn this blog into a toilet talk, but just bear with me, for there’s a good point I want to make here, I promise.)

Then I heard people came to the restroom. I believe there were at least two boys who came in. While brushing their teeth and perhaps washing their faces at the lavatories, they started a conversation.

After some small talk and introducing themselves to each other, like their name and what youth club or place they came from, one boy opened up with a very personal information. I was not being nosy nor eavesdropping, but as the wash basins were just a few feet from the toilet stall I was in, I heard all their conversation.

“I never knew who my father is, for I never met him,” one boy confessed.

He added that he met his real mother when he was eleven years old, but her mother never told him who his real dad is. Then he said that his mother told him that she gave him away for adoption for he was a “blue baby” when he was born. “I was blue as a Smurf,” he quipped. Her mother thought that she cannot take care of him due to his condition, so she gave him away.

As a medical doctor, I know that “blue babies” have an anomaly in their heart or in their circulation causing poorly oxygenated blood to course into their arteries giving the bluish discoloration of their skin. Unless a life saving procedure or surgery is done immediately, they will not survive. Most likely this boy underwent such surgery.

I know this boy is a survivor. Yet he might had the corrective surgery to close a hole in his heart, but the void and longing in his heart for love, especially from a father he never knew, was never filled.

Like a priest inside a confession box, except that I was in a toilet stall, I heard all this heart-breaking confession of a young man without him seeing me. Most likely he didn’t even know I was there listening to his story. He is not aware that the walls, even the very private toilet walls, have ears.

I would like to break out from the stall I was in and give this young man a big hug, but given the situation and place, that may be deemed inappropriate. Perhaps even scandalous.

The thing is I know his first name, his age, where he is from, and what club he is a member of, but I never saw his face. By the time I was done with my business, and came out of the stall, the two boys were gone.

My heart was broken just listening to that sad story. I can just imagine what heartache that boy was feeling. I just hope he finds the love he was looking for even if he has no father. Though one thing for sure, “our Father who art in heaven,” loves him and I pray that he realized that.

This made me thinking, that fathers who aren’t in heaven, me included, have such a great responsibility. We may never change the world singlehandedly, but we are given this distinctive duty and privilege to make a positive impact in the precious lives of our children. And perhaps if all fathers will do that, then the world will change.

For you fathers who may be reading this, or for you young men or even boys who will be fathers some day, I hope we all rise up to this challenge.

Have a happy and meaningful Father’s Day.

Chilled

Last week, my partners and I went to a fancy restaurant in town. We have a candidate who is applying to join our practice that we interviewed so we took him to a place, a little pricey,  but reputable, especially when it comes to steak and chops. We don’t want to have an applicant think that we are cheap.

I am not really in to steak and chops, but after tasting their food, I would say that this restaurant have a valid reason to claim that their steak is the best in town.

Besides the entrée, some other small things are remarkable. The fresh sea food platter appetizer was nicely presented and decorated in a bucket full of ice. The drinks were cold and chilled. Those were expected, I suppose.

However, when I excuse myself from the group and went to the restroom, I found something else that was “cool.” This one I was not expecting.

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Do you see it? I know their urinals are not really swanky nor high-tech, yet it is classy. Though, I’m pertaining to something else.

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Yes, you got it. Those are ice cubes in the urinals! Why they put ice in there, I have no clue.

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I guess they chill the appetizers, the drinks, and yes, even the pee. Cool!

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Post Note:

After searching the web, I found out why restaurants and bars put ice on the urinals. No, it’s not to chill the pee. But ice is a cheaper alternative to the urinal cake. When the ice melts it flushes the urine, so no need of auto-flush. Plus, the restaurants have a lot of supply of ice anyway, and it is easier to toss the used ice, like those in their fresh sea food platter, in the urinal than tossing them outside. And lastly, it gives the men (sorry ladies, you may never understand this) something to aim for when they take a leak.

I really learned something from this post. I hope you did too.

 

App To Speed

I posted last week that I am now using a running app to help me prepare and train for my half-marathon. It gave me a renewed interest in running.

Before I was just estimating and calculating my distance and pace in my head, but now I’m doing it accurately and scientifically. Though to be honest, my estimation of the distance I covered before is pretty close to actual, as if I’m off it’s only 0.1 mile or less. I think I could work as a surveyor.

My pace last week was 11:16 minutes per mile when I did a 3.1 (5K) run. This week, I was challenged to run the same distance, but push myself a bit and see if I can run in a pace of less than 11 minutes per mile.

And I did!

This make me think that if I was able to shave a whole minute per mile in my pace in less than a week, with the aid of this app and if I really push myself, maybe next week I can run a 9-minute mile. And in 10 weeks, I should be running 1-minute mile. I would be Flash!

In case you believed or was caught up on my drift, I was really talking non-sense. The fastest 1 mile done by a human is 3 minutes, and 43.13 seconds. Even if Usain Bolt can run at his top speed of 27.44 miles/hour and sustain it for a mile, which is humanly impossible by the way, he would still take 2.19 minutes to cover that mile.

Maybe this app is only good for giving me crazy ideas. I’m not sure this app will turn me into Flash, but one thing for sure, this earned me bragging rights.

(*background photo taken during my run)

App for the Challenge

It’s summertime here in our area. I can’t use the excuse of “it’s too cold to run” anymore. Though I can say, “it’s too hot.”

Anyway, it’s time for me to take longer and more frequent runs outside. If I plan on joining the half-marathon this autumn, I have about 4 more months to prepare. That’s plenty of time.

In the past, I just needed 10-12 weeks of rigid training schedule to be in good running form. ‘Good running form’ does not mean I can compete with the elite runners, for me it means finishing the 13.1 mile course without keeling over. But I know I’m getting older, so maybe my body needed more time to be ready.

I want a ‘smart’ runner’s watch that has GPS that can track my distance and or pace me when I’m running, which I think can help me train. Perhaps it’s another excuse to get another “toy” to get me motivated to continue running. When you’re more than 50 years old, and your joints and muscles often times protest after a run, you need all the motivation to keep going.

But when I shop around for that nifty runner’s watch, it’s kind of expensive. The ones that I like are north of $200, so I hesitated to buy. Maybe I’m too cheap.

Then it dawned on me that there are several running app that I can download on my phone that are very inexpensive or even free. Why have I not thought of that before? I used to just estimate my distance and pace before, which is not accurate nor scientific.

I always carry my phone anyway when I run. I carry it in case of emergency, like if a deer ran me over or a wild rabbit attack me. Or if I get disoriented and get lost in my own neighborhood, I can use its GPS to guide me home. Kidding aside, I carry my phone all the time to take photos when I run.

After downloading a running app, I used it for the first time this morning. I only planned on running 1-2 miles as I have to be at work early, but I suddenly got challenged when my phone started chirping my progress and telling me my time and pace every mile I covered. So I finished a standard 3.1 mile (5K) run.

Not bad for this time of year. If I can shave several more seconds on each mile and extend my distance little by little, I think I would be alright for that half-marathon. I think this running app is helpful. Or if at all, it’s more for bragging rights.

Happy running!

(*background photo taken during my run)

May Blooms

I know the month of May is on its way out, but I don’t think it’s too late to post photos of what this month is usually known for. Flowers.

Here are different variety of peonies in our yard. Peonies are perennials, that means they come back every year. But after their flowers bloom, which in our area is usually in May, then they go into hibernation.

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I like peonies because their flowers are beautiful and large. They also produce a lot of blooms.

Some of the bushes are so burdened with their flowers that they bow so low with their flowers kissing the earth.

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Sadly to say these flowers last only 7 -10 days. Like everything else in this life, they are temporary and fleeting.

We’ll just enjoy their beauty before the flowers eventually fall to the ground. Until they come back again next year.

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(*photo credit: me; horticulturist: my wife)

 

Under The Presidents’ Nose

That’s where I was last week.

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We have been to the Blackhills, South Dakota twice before, but this was the first time we hiked the Presidential trail, and thus got a closer view of the Presidents’ faces. We were really right under their noses.

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(*photos taken during our recent trip to Mount Rushmore with our visitors from the Philippines)

A Weekend To Remember

Few days ago I drove to my outreach clinic which is an hour and a half away. As I mentioned in the past, the drive there is mostly serene and relaxing, going through picturesque rural Iowa landscapes. Unlike the frustrating drive through EDSA being stuck in traffic for an hour and half. It was a beautiful spring day too, with colorful blossoms on the trees lining the highway.

This journey provides me an opportunity to ruminate, I mean to think deeply, not chew the cud like cows here in Iowa. And a chance for some “sound tripping” too. The music album I picked that day for the drive was an album I have not listened to for quite a while. I just added it recently to my iPhone’s music library. It was Jim Chappell’s “Saturday’s Rhapsody.”

While I was cruising down the road and listening to the music, it took me back 25 years ago. To be exact, it was a Saturday night in January of 1993.

I was a fresh graduate from medical school, and I just passed the Philippine Medical Boards. Some of my friends had been harassing (kantiyaw) me for days to take them out to eat as a celebration for my recent board passing. So I told them, perhaps the coming weekend after a church function, we can go out if we wish. A wishy-washy plan.

There was this girl, a friend of a friend, who recently became part of my circle of friends, that I knew it was her birthday that weekend so I brought a gift just in case she’ll show up and join the party.

The gift was a music cassette tape. Remember them? Compact discs were not in vogue yet or they were more expensive than the cassette tape that time. It was Jim Chappell’s album “Saturday Rhapsody.”

Jim Chappell is an American jazz pianist. I’m not really a jazz type-of-guy. I am more of Pinoy folk, rock and country type-of-guy, with favorites like Freddie Aguilar, Asin and Eraserheads. But when I’m studying, I avoid those songs, as I would break out in a song which will be disruptive. So I gravitate to instrumental music or music without words. That’s how I end up listening to jazz music, especially when I was reviewing for my boards.

As I was listening to a smooth jazz radio station in Manila, I heard the music of Jim Chappell, and I got hooked. I bought my first album of his, “Living the Northern Summer.” I love his music so much that I shared this to my friends, as I gave them Chappell’s album as a gift. And that brought me to that particular night in January 1993.

I bought the album “Saturday Rhapsody” as a possible gift. That is if this particular girl would show up that night. If not, I can keep it for myself, for I still don’t have that album anyway.

But the girl showed up.

Darn, I would like to keep that cassette tape for me! Yet it was also a good thing, since it was her birthday, thus it was her blowout too. So she shared on the bill for the restaurant meal for our group, saving me some money.

After seeing the album, this girl thought that the music was kind of “bastos” (lewd), as the picture on the cover of the album was some sort of a naked woman (see photo below). She also thought I was “presko” (fresh or impudent)! But afterwards, when she listened to the album, she found that it was decent music and she liked it. It changed her impression of me too.

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We became good friends since then. We even went together to the concert of Jim Chappell when he came to Manila and performed at the Philippines International Convention Center in the summer of 1993.

In the end, the album that I gave away, became mine eventually and I didn’t have to get one for my own, as she and I shared it together. We have been sharing more than just music together for the past 25 years.

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Here’s a sample of one of the songs in that album “Saturday Rhapsody.” This song is “A Weekend to Remember.” It really was.

(*photo from the web, video from YouTube)