Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Rome bans goldfish bowls

ROME, Oct 25 (Reuters) - Rome has banned goldfish bowls, which animal rights activists say are cruel, and has made regular dog-walks mandatory in the Italian capital, the town's council said on Tuesday.

The newspaper Il Messaggero reported that round bowls caused fish to go blind. No one at Rome council was available to confirm this was why they were banned. Many fish experts say round bowls provide insufficient oxygen for fish.

So I asked the girl in the next cubicle at work, "How did the scientists know that the goldfish was going blind?"

"They keep bumping the sides of the bowl?" she shrugged.

Finally we concluded that they lower a fish eyechart and see how well they can read it. I wonder though why there aren't that many goldfishes with eyeglasses though. Contact lenses?

Friday, October 21, 2005

Nostalgia Galore

I received an email from Oscar a few months ago, noting that he had found my link from a friend, Jong. He had requested permission to include one of my archived entries into their compilation of articles titled "Nostalgia Galore". He had referred me to his website and I read through the previous complations he and his team had done before. It was impressive but I thought to myself that I would probably get eliminated halfway through the selection process.

This week he emailed me back and sent me the link to the final copy of their "Nostalgia Galore".

To be acknowledged for something you enjoy doing is just too much flattery. It humbles this blogger to be in the company of writers who I feel are way above my standard of writing. It certainly gives me motivation to continue to write.

Thank you Oscar Alvarez to you and the rest of your team.

Grazie mille! Maraming salamat po!

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Superwoman for a Day

I did it: I have made twice my initial fund-raising target after a friend closed my donation page on Saturday night at $200.

I did it: crawled out of bed on a perfect Sunday morning and joined the masses that converged on 72nd Street in Central Park for the Annual Making Strides Against Breast Cancer 5-mile non-competition walk. And right on time, my team were on the Start Line at 9:30 AM.

I did it: weaved through the park from the Bandshell at 72nd Street north to 100th Street then crossed towards the west side and then back down to 72nd Street. I have trained myself for the past weeks to build the stamina and realized that after all the hard work, 5 miles is a breeze - a stroll in the park.

I did it: 5 miles in an hour and a half. I broke away from my team halfway with their permission and proudly danced across the pink canopy of balloons. I grabbed my goodie bag (with just juice and an apple; last year we had chocolate bars and candies!)

I made it: from 72nd Street I hopped on the C train that took me to Brooklyn in time for our tennis court reservation at 12 noon. Wally and I played for an hour non-stop. I didn't know where my energy was coming from. In love? Inspired? Or just plain crazy.

We made it: took the train from Brooklyn to Queens where Wally and I had Vietnamese lunch and then walked a half mile (10 blocks) to the Filipino store where I bought salted duck egg, otap, Choc-Nut and fried 'tuyo' (dried fish). Then I took the train back to Manhattan and home.

So I am dead tired and am crawling back to bed to look forward to another hectic week at work. That is, after I send an email to my Italian which I plan to sign: Superwoman....

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Cats, Dogs and Dinosaurs

When she about 4 years old, my daughter must have heard me describe the rain in terms of ‘cats and dogs’. Somehow she coined her own version when she surprised me on a really bad stormy day with, “Look mommie – it’s raining cats, dogs and dinosaurs!”

Since the weekend, the heavens have given way to a deluge, drenching the northeastern part of the United States. In Manhattan, we’d have more than 10 inches of rain since Saturday. And based on forecasts, it seems we won’t be expecting Mr. Sunshine soon.

On Wednesday I hopped out of my bus just as the skies broke loose a dense and heavy curtain of rain. I gripped my umbrella close to my head to keep it from being blown away by the wind but it was useless. It felt as though the rain was going sideways. Despite just being 15 steps away from the bus stop, by the time I made it to the entrance of my office building I had looked like I just stepped out of the shower. My suit was drenched, my shoes was squishy when I walked and best of all, the hair that took me half an hour to dry and style with a curling iron was soaked, straight as a stick and lay totally lifeless against my scalp. It was enough reason to call it a day at 8:30 AM and head back home but when I got to the office….voila - everyone else looked as bad as I did or worse! Better still, some of the women looked really monstrous because instead of flattening out, their hair curled like a fur ball. So those totally made me feel much better. But to cheer everyone up, I put my ipod on the computer and started playing music from the Beach Boys.

For lunch on Thursday, two friends and I had planned to sample the very popular Peruvian Food Festival at our headquarters and we also decided that the rains weren’t going to stop us. We walked a short block and a half and by the time we were seated and the waiters had asked us what we wanted (for drinks I understood later) our reply in unison was: a hairdryer!

The Italian finds it amusing that I can humor myself despite how depressing our weather had been. I told him there was just no other way to deal with it. I could have tried screaming at the heavens but I was sure my voice would be drowned by the howling winds. And besides, when you start allowing the weather to dictate how you should feel about your day then you know you are in desperate need of some sanity check.

I have found my raincoat packed in my scarf drawer (go figure). I have my trusty umbrella that opens and shuts automatically and tomorrow I am on a mission to purchase for myself a pair of galoshes. I don’t care if I look like a 3 year old on my way to school with my get up but I will arrive at my destination dry and happy – despite cats, dogs, dragons, dinosaurs and elephants pouring from the skies.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Every Mother's Nightmare

A mother sent her daughter away for vacation with about 100 friends, classmates and chaperones. If she had trepidations about letting her go she was appeased by the thought that she is 18 years old and will be on her way to college soon. She also knew she could trust her daughter. She had just graduated from high school with honors and had earned full scholarship at the University of Alabama. She was proud of her and with these thoughts in check, saw her off at the airport to fly to Aruba for a one-week unofficial school trip. She never came back.

Natalee Holloway’s story is every mother’s nightmare. While it is primal that parents ensure the safety and well being of their children, at a certain age the parents realize the need to also pull away and learn to let go. But what if the timing of letting her go eventually becomes the decision you, as a mom will regret the rest of your life?

Natalee’s mother Beth Twitty rushed to Oranjestad in Aruba to search for her daughter. Her persistence had brought the FBI to descend into the island and the Dutch government had deployed their own military planes to assist in the search. Tourists and residents all helped in combing the island for the missing teenager or for any clues that could lead to her, with no results. The three teenagers who were last seen with her were arrested, questioned and eventually released. The main suspect, Joran van der Sloot then fly back to Holland to go to college. This week in the news, they featured him in an interview. He tried to clear his name from any criminal misconduct and told the reporter that it was Natalee who had aggressively pursued him.

“She had a lot to drink. At Carlos 'n Charles she grabbed my hand and took me with her to take jelly shots off her. And afterward she asked me to buy a shot for her, buy her a shot to drink.” He narrated to the interviewer. “And she climbed on the bar. She laid down on the bar and she called the bartender by name and he got her a jelly shot and I took a jelly shot off her belly.” And then van der Sloot continued to tell of how she had gone with him to the beach and had insisted that he stayed because it would be her last night in Aruba. Then he claims he and his friends had left her on the beach to sneak back home because he had school the next morning. He also claimed that he didn’t even recognize Natalee when they showed him her picture when she went missing. To him, he was just another girl passing by the island paradise wanting to have fun.

The last images of a mother of her daughter as told by a stranger.

Monday, October 03, 2005

How do You Measure a Life?

I celebrated another birthday on 18 September. Subtly, quietly I celebrated without the fanfare that had always marked the previous years. I embraced the passing of another year contented with the decisions I have made with my life and with the acknowledgement that I may not be able to stop the sand of time from trickling down my hourglass but that I have the power to enjoy the journey to my sunset. It was milestone celebrated with brunches, lunches, dinners and a surprise barbeque party. It came as a card from Nicole with an early celebration of my Europe trip and with flowers unexpectedly delivered at work – stargazers whose fragrance will forever remind me of a daughter’s love. It came as three dozen red roses and a quiet dinner amidst candlelight. It came as numerous greetings from people who did not have to be reminded. They just knew.

Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes
How do you measure -- measure a year?

How had time had passed so quickly? My sunsets have weaved the days to weeks and months and eventually into the passing seasons. The seasons have segued from winter to spring to summer and so suddenly, it is autumn once more – brisk mornings that forewarn colder mornings to come as another winter draws near. Each second is marked by a step toward a destiny uncertain but yet already determined. Sometimes I wonder if I am deceiving myself in believing that I am in charge of my future.

How do you measure a year in the life?

I would gauge this year with my acknowledgement of what I am and what I cannot be. I will never be a child again but I can still see my world with the curiosity and the fascination of one so that my heart will forever be young. I can never go back in time and be the 18 year old debutante but I can still laugh out loud when I am happy, be flirty and be bold with my decisions as I had always been. My limbs and my bones have seen me through the tough times but now I can run or jog and play tennis better than any other time in my life. I have also acknowledged that I will never be a dress size zero, have legs like Anna Kournikova or the memoryI used to enjoy. Yet I realized that I can be happy just being who I am if I stopped trying to please the whole world and just gave up struggling to be to be the perfect anybody to anyone. And I have realized that with age come the wisdom that I will be accepted and be loved just as I am.

How about love?
Measure in love
Seasons of love

Love is the most important part of my life. I thrive with it and I constantly need to be assured that it is there, unrelenting. I need to always hear the voices of the people who matter most to me – my parents, my daughter, my siblings. I find comfort in the childish giggles of Gabrielle as she reminds me that: "I miss you Tita Mavic". These bring me home wherever I am. Home is where there is love and acceptance without question.

This is the year I learned that there is true love, that it survives time and distance. I have learned that true love isn’t always about the dashing young prince sweeping me off my feet in a fairytale love story. I have learned that true love is about my prince who has come to climb my tower to rescue me from myself. I have learned that there are happily ever afters – if you will only stay long enough for the real ending.

Five hundrend twenty five thousand six hundred minutes
Five hundrend twenty five thousand journeys to plan
Five hundrend twenty five thousand six hundred minutes
how do you measure the life of a woman (or a man)

Lyrics taken from the song: Seasons of Love
From the Broadway play 'RENT'