Friday, February 29, 2008

Happy Bissextile Day

Bissextile is a word i learned just earlier today, the extra day added to the calendar every four years-- February 29th. It's from the Latin bis sextum, meaning second sixth, which refers to some murky ancient rule in the Julian calendar that I don't really understand.

For our lifetime its good enough to say that a leap year occurs every four years, but there's the obscure exception is that there's no February 29 on century years not divisible by 400, like 1800 and 1900. Hardly anyone knows about this rule, and part of me is saddened that I will almost surely not live to apply it. I'll never get to be the smartass that points out the rule to people when everyone is tripping over themselves in 2100 thinking that it's a leap year.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Mandaue-Mactan Bridges

Not too long ago I went out for a walk across the two bridges connecting Cebu to Mactan. Mostly just for the prestige of being able to say I walked across them. That's not too weird, is it? I'm not the only person who sees a coolness factor in walking across famous bridges, am I? And I got some nice pictures:

Marcelo Fernan Bridge

Far and away, our country's most photogenic bridge. It was completed in 1999, and it's the longest center-span extradosed cable-stayed bridge in the world (whatever that means). I love this little park underneath the bridge on the Mactan side. It's like that place in San Francisco where every tourist goes to have their picture taken with the Golden Gate Bridge. If it could just be cleaned up it would seriously be on par with its Golden Gate Bridge equivalent, and a must-visit photo spot for tourists coming to Cebu.

Mandaue-Mactan Bridge

The older of the two bridges to Mactan is also the more neglected. Not neglected by the Department of Public Works and Highways (despite its crusty-looking design it is actually well-maintained), but neglected by the public's attention. It has never been given any nice name, it doesn't have a Wikipedia article, and it doesn't have public parks at either side of it where I could take pretty pictures. I had to disobey a No Tresspassing sign just to get the picture you see here. It's a decent picture though. I only wish it were a sunnier day.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Ode to the Human Body

After being sick for the past three days, it's time for me to celebrate how awesome it is to be all normal and healthy again. Here's three reasons to be thankful for the the way the human body works-- despite the times it fails us, there are some things we can always count on.

Subconscious breathing
Imagine how horrible it would be if, for instance, you suddenly entered a condition where the act of breathing was no longer relegated to your subconscious. You could still breathe, but each inhalation had to be accompanied by a mindful decision to take air into your lungs. You try to sleep at night, but as your consciousness drifts away, you are abruptly awoken by the horrifying realization that you are suffocating. Shit, even the thought of it is pretty scary. Thank goodness, the vast majority of our days can be lived with our lungs on autopilot.

A few months ago I was reaching deep into a freezer, feeling around for a switch that could possibly turn off the ice maker, when suddenly I was jolted by a sharp painful pain on my middle finger. It turns out I was burned (electrocuted?) by some sonofabitch booby trap that refrigerator makers preinstall just to piss off lowly saps like myself. It wasn't long before an ugly blister appeared on the victim finger, adding an extra challenge to everyday tasks as simple as using a pen. The blister was a persistent annoyance while it lasted, but as is the case with all minor injuries of this type, it eventually healed itself. Today not a trace of the injury remains. Imagine... How horrible would that be if such a trivial mistake were to give me a blister that would never heal, ever? That would be very horrible.

Yes, pain. Take the above example-- it was pain that got me to see my errors in reaching into a mysterious refrigerator. Without the wonderful gift of pain, I could very easily have been gripping onto that hidden bastard painmachine for several seconds, not knowing it was burning me until I later pull out my arm expecting to see a hand, but am greeted only by an ugly melted stump. While unpleasant by its very nature, pain tells us not to apply pressure on that fractured leg. Pain tells us to wake up when we catch fire in our sleep. Pain tells us to give them what they want when the bad guys torture us. Hurrah.


Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Asiatown IT Park building construction projects

It's a strange obsession of mine, but I like watching construction and tracking its progress. When I see construction I see potential. More buildings mean more businesses, meaning more jobs, meaning more progress and prosperity. I like progress and prosperity!

Asiatown IT Park in Cebu is a wonderland of potential. The streets have a nice grid layout, the roads are wide and clean, and its five office buildings have an occupancy rate of 100%, and five more buildings are being constructed. Here's all the buildings currently under construction:

TG Tower
TG Tower will be a 15-floor office building. Asiatown previously had a huge grassy area with a perimeter of mid-rise buildings, then this thing popped up in the middle and disrupted the clear view. Work on the basement foundation started sometime around August 2007, and construction is currently up to the 7th floor.

eBloc will be a 12-floor office building, being built at a cost of P900 million. It's developed by Cebu Property Ventures and Development Corporation (CPVDC), the same group that developed Asiatown IT Park itself. Construction began sometime around August 2007, and it's projected to be completed in November 2008.

i2 Annex
The i2 Annex is a 18-floor office building adjacent to the i2 Building. When it's done it will be Asiatown's tallest. It's called an annex but it's much taller than the original. Based on the rendering it looks like it will complement the original building's design nicely. Construction is currently up to the 13th floor and rising fast.

Skyrise 2
Skyrise 2 is a 12-floor office building adjacent to the 8-floor Skyrise 1. It has surpassed its neighbor's height, and construction is currently up to the 10th floor.

IT Mall
I have no rendering for this building, but there's no need-- it looks like it's almost done. Like all business park developments in the Philippines, Asiatown is also going to be anchored by a mall. This will supposedly be open 24-hours to cater to the crazy nocturnal call center people. I'm not even sure what the real name of this thing is, but I recall hearing that it's something cheesy and patronizing like "IT Mall".

Tuesday, February 5, 2008


Enjoyment of Cloverfield is completely dependent on the willingness of its audience to embrace the format in which it is presented. Actually, "embrace" might be too lofty a goal, perhaps "accept" is the more appropriate word. Or no, "forgive" would be an even more realistic expectation. If you can forgive the inconveniences and limitations of Cloverfield's format-- that is, being shot from the point of view of a handheld camera-- and if you can appreciate the unique dimension it adds, then you can enjoy the movie.

That said, it's completely possible (and even understandable) that a large portion of the audience will just be unwilling to accept the movie. The person in front of me at the ticket counter line was a middle aged woman who was asked by the cashier if she was familiar with the Blair Witch Project (a movie I have not seen, by the way), because Cloverfield is that kind of movie, and a lot of others had been complaining about it.

The camera is as unsteady as you would expect from a cheap camera held by an amateur while New York City is attacked by a monster. At one point, following a helicopter crash, the camera lays idle in the wreckage focusing on nothing in particular. And it stays idle for quite a while. By this point the audience has so completely resigned to the reality that the viewpoint can not and will not focus on what you want it to, that you will start to consider the possibility that the camera will be laying idle for several minutes.

One one hand I'm tempted to give a high score for the innovation and sheer audacity of presenting a monster movie this way. On the other hand I'd have to take away points for the natural annoyances that the format imposes. Overall, thumbs up.

The movie ends in an explosion that makes it unmistakable that the last two surviving characters have died. Keeping as true as possible to the style of the movie, the low key end credits are displayed on a backdrop of blackness, over complete silence. At that point the audience starts looking around awkwardly, wondering in silence if the movie is done. What followed was an extremely disconcerting walk out of the movie theater. Though it would have broken the consistency of style, I really would have preferred to hear music over the end credits. That would have taken a big step towards convincing people that what they just saw was a movie, not merely an exercise in patience.