Fridays Feast #178
I would have to say that my real favorite is Life cereal, because I love the taste but I also love that it is made of whole grains and it's a bit lower in sugar than some of the other super-sweet cereals (9 grams per serving). I love Life! Now don't I sound like a Life commercial?
Soup: When was the last time you purchased something for your home, what was it, and in which room did it go?
For Christmas, Santa Claus gave us a flat screen TV for our living room.
Salad: What is the funniest commercial you’ve ever seen?
I try to fast forward through all commercials whenever possible, but I do laugh out loud when I see those Milwaukee's Best Lite commercials. I know they're completely sexist and play to stereotypes -- men are "punished" for acting in a supposedly girly way by a gigantic beer can falling on them -- but I still think they're hilarious.
Main Course: Make up a name for a company by using a spice and an animal (example: Cinnamon Monkey).
I'll combine two of my favorites: The Ginger Dolphin. Sounds like the name of a funky restaurant!
Dessert: Fill in the blank: I haven’t ______ since ______.
I haven't been online since around 3PM today. I'm already suffering from withdrawal symptoms!
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Why the Edwards campaign went kaput :(
I'm sad, but not surprised. I loved the promise of change that Edwards' campaign brought -- and I mean real change, not just change in the ruling party or change of strategy in Iraq or change in focus, but change in the way the system works -- like ending the influence of corporations and lobbyists, a real commitment to education for everyone and healthcare for everyone. But in the end, I guess the status quo fought back and won. There were just so many things against him:
1) The news media. All along, the media has decided who gets to run or not by bestowing that most precious of commodities -- Media Coverage -- on the Chosen Candidates. No amount of money spent on ads in this state and that state can compare to the coverage that candidates get on CNN or Fox News or NBC. The media have covered every little blurb that passes for news about Clinton or Obama, while Edwards has had to fight for each and every second in the spotlight.
When you think about it, who runs these media organizations? Big corporations like GE, the same corporations that stand to lose a lot of influence if Edwards became president and made good on his crusade against excessive corporate influence.
2) The campaign finance system. Edwards was the only Democratic candidate who accepted public funding -- which means he is limited to spending only $50 million and he cannot accept private funds for the general election (I've read around the blogosphere that his campaign was built upon the support of small donors, in fact, 93 percent of the campaign's donations come from donors contributing less than $100).
I think it was an honorable, principled stand that sent out the message that he is not beholden to any special interest groups, and would not owe anyone anything once he became president. But unfortunately the other candidates did not follow his lead, and so had way more more to spend to get even more media coverage.
3) This silly system of staggered primaries. Why can't all states hold their primaries on the same day? What gives states like Iowa and New Hampshire so much influence over who gets to run for president? Why are their states any more important than other states?
It's such a distorted perception. These "early decision" states actually have a minuscule portion of delegate votes needed to win a primary election. Think of this -- so far, only 452 out of over 4000 delegates have been awarded. Because Edwards has only 16 of those 452 delegates, people think there is no way he could win, but with so many delegates yet to be awarded, he could still actually get 2025 votes needed to win. If everyone voted at the same time, that is.
As I said, sad but not surprised. Edwards fought a good, honorable fight. I just hope he keeps fighting to make sure the things he stands for stay in the limelight.
See my other farewell to the Edwards campaign on SV Moms Blog.
Guest blogger of the day: CleanBoy
Once upon a time, there were two bad people who were Power Rangers -- and they had guns! And they shot a bad guy and the Power Rangers had claws. When they were done, they went back home. And on the way home they saw another bad guy and shot him out of the window. But there was a nice rainbow -- and they accidentally shot the rainbow -- because they were doing computer and they didn't know what they were pressing.
Then they were rowing a boat and they shot underwater, and then they went far away back to their house where they shot the wires. They were running in the house and they jumped on a ball and slipped.
Then they were ice skating, and they bumped into some people because they were going too fast! When they were in the shower they slipped because it was dark.
Our sweet Pineapple Princesses
We attended a lot of parties while we were in Manila. While they differed in many ways -- different locations, occasions, different guest lists, food, dress codes -- most of them had one thing in common: they all had some sort of "entertainment". There was always someone grabbing a microphone and addressing the crowd, either making speeches or singing songs or putting on dance numbers. It was Alfie who noticed this penchant of Filipinos for "programs", and pointed it out to me. It's so normal to me that I hadn't even noticed anything out of the ordinary.
Here is a video of The Pea and her favorite cousin, getting started on that grand old Filipino tradition of performing at parties (the occasion this time was my grandmother's 88th birthday). They had so much fun that I'm already longing to choreograph another dance number that they can perform at the next birthday/anniversary/holiday/whatever party they attend next :)
I love digital photo technology. The tiny cameras and almost unlimited photo storage space of today makes it possible for people to take photos anywhere and everywhere, and capture each and every memory.
But sometimes I think we take almost too many photos. Right now I have 10 photos of my sons eating birthday cake, and I have to keep all 10 because they look slightly different in each one, and each unique expression is too cute for me to delete. I also have another 10 photos of them eating ice cream on Christmas day, looking almost exactly the same as they did in those 10 birthday cake photos. And they will probably sit in my hard drive for eternity. Fifty years from now, my sons will only skim past those photos because they still have to get through the rest of the 10,000 photos on my hard drive.
With no photos to chronicle each and every detail of their houses, their events, their expressions, we can only imagine what the rest of their lives could have been like. But that's part of their appeal -- these old-fashioned photos have such an air of romance and mystery because so much is left to our own imaginations.
Fridays Feast #177
Maybe once or twice, usually when one of my kids says something funny, or when my husband makes an outrageously corny or idiotic joke (I laugh at him, not the joke).
Soup: What do your sunglasses look like?
I'm not allowed to say; my husband hates them.
Salad: You win a free trip to anywhere on your continent, but you have to travel by train. Where do you go?
I'd love to go to the Grand Canyon, so we have something spectacular to gaze at when we look out of the window!
Main Course: Name one thing you consider a great quality about living in your town/city.
I love the abundance of trees in Palo Alto; they provide shade, they clean the air, and they look great!
Dessert: If the sky could be another color, what color do you think would look best?
I can't think of any way to improve the colors of nature.
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A lesson in geometry
Take a Step Forward
(text below copied from Step into Social Class 2.0: A Social Class Awareness Experience.
Will Barratt, Meagan Cahill, Angie Carlen, Minnette Huck, Drew Lurker, Stacy Ploskonka
Indiana State University, © 2008)
Introduction: An activity designed to help the participants gain awareness of the vast range of social class that exists within themselves and others. This has been updated based on the wide range of feedback we received as this was becoming a popular experience.
A big room with space to move for all participants
Chairs to sit for discussion
Pay attention to how you feel. Angry, sad, happy, winner, loser . . .
No talking – we will talk about this a lot when it is over
Line up here and take a step forward of about 1 (one) foot or one foot length
Take a step....
[note by bonggamom: on the internet meme, instead of taking a step, you are instructed to type in boldface the statements that are true for you. The text in italics is mine):
1) If your father went to college before you started
2) If your father finished college before you started
3) If your mother went to college before you started
4) If your mother finished college before you started
5) If you have any relative who is an attorney, physician, or professor.
(My dad is a medical doctor and used to be dean of a medical college in the Philippines, my mom has a business degree, and lawyers abound on my dad's side of the family)
6) If your family was the same or higher class than your high school teachers (I never really thought about it, I guess I assumed we were the same class because I had schoolmates whose mothers were teachers at the school)
7) If you had a computer at home when you were growing up
8) If you had your own computer at home when you were growing up
(my parents bought a family computer around the time we were in highschool or college)
9) If you had more than 50 books at home when you were growing up
10) If you had more than 500 books at home when you were growing up
11) If were read children's books by a parent when you were growing up
(I never counted but it certainly seemed like we had hundreds of books. Even when I was reading by myself, I loved having my mother read us stories at bedtime)
12) If you ever had lessons of any kind as a child or a teen
13) If you had more than two kinds of lessons as a child or a teen
(Piano and ballet as well as art, swimming, etc.. during the summer)
14) If the people in the media who dress and talk like you were portrayed positively
15) If you had a credit card with your name on it before college
16) If you had or will have less than $5000 in student loans when you graduate
17) If you had or will have no student loans when you graduate
(My parents would never have been able to afford to send me to college in the US. Tuition at the University of the Philippines, a public university, was only P6000 per semester, or around $300 in the 1990's, or $150 in today's dollars. Still, the majority of my classmates had some type of scholarship or subsidy)
18) If you went to a private high school
19) If you went to summer camp (just once, to a summer camp abroad, one of the best experiences of my childhood years)
20) If you had a private tutor
21) (US students only) If you have been to Europe more than once as a child or teen
22) (International question) If you have been to the US more than once as a child or teen
23) If your family vacations involved staying at hotels rather than KOA or at relatives homes
(We always stayed with relatives, except once on a trip to Europe where we stayed at hostels)
24) If all of your clothing has been new (Quite a few of my clothes were handsewn rather than bought, and I was always happy to get hand-me-downs from my aunt)
25) If your parents gave you a car that was not a hand-me-down from them (I bought my first car in my early twenties but my parents lent me money for the down payment)
25) If there was original art in your house as a child or teen
26) If you had a phone in your room
27) If your parent owned their own house or apartment when you were a child or teen ( I remember being shocked when I learned while in college that my parents had finally finished paying off the mortgage on our home. I had never really thought of mortgages or house prices before and just assumed that we fully owned our home)
28) If you had your own room as a child or teen (I shared a room with my sisters until I left home)
29) If you participated in an SAT/ACT prep course (I never took SAT or ACT)
30) If you had your own cell phone in High School (cellphones didn't exist back then!)
31) If you had your own TV as a child or teen (My parents weren't really into TV. We never had multiple TV's in the house, here were periods of time during my childhood when we didn't have any TV's in the house at all)
32) If you opened a mutual fund or IRA in High School or College
33) If you have ever flown anywhere on a commercial airline
34) If you ever went on a cruise with your family
35) If your parents took you to museums and art galleries as a child or teen
36) If you were unaware of how much heating bills were for your family (heating bills in Manila? In any case, I had no idea how much electrical bills or cooling bills were)
Now everyone recognize that you are at the same place academically.
Everyone turn around.
Everyone has permission to talk.
No one has permission to accuse any one or any group of anything.
Everyone must use “I” statements.
Note that the people on one end of the room had to work harder to be here today than the people at the other end of the room. Some of you had lives of more privilege than others. There is no one to blame, it is just the way it is. Some have privilege and some don’t.
(If I were in that classroom, I'd be more than halfway across the room. And I realize now that my parents could afford to buy a lot of those other things -- phones, tv's, original art, new clothes, cruises-- but they chose not to.
As a child, everyone I knew had the same lifestyle, so I didn't feel privileged. In fact, as an adolescent I would probably have complained that I was underprivileged because my parents never spoiled us with material things . Once I entered college and met a multitude of people from different socioeconomic backgrounds, I became acutely aware that I do come from a privileged background.
I am forever grateful to my parents for investing in my future, for spending their money wisely on books and lessons instead of presents and hotels and tv's. And I love them for teaching me to be aware of this privilege and grateful for it, but not to rely on it. )
Note: Original source: The list is based on an exercise developed by Will Barratt, Meagan Cahill, Angie Carlen, Minnette Huck, Drew Lurker, Stacy Ploskonka at Illinois State University. The exercise developers ask that if you participate in this blog game, you acknowledge their copyright.If you want to participate, please do the same.
Pssst! Wanna Buy some Girl Scout Cookies?
When The Pea's Brownie troupe leader first approached me and invited her to join the troup earlier this year, my first question was, "Will she have to sell Girl Scout cookies?". The answer was No, but here we are at the beginning of Girl Scout Cookie season, and here we are, selling cookies.
In fairness, Pea's troupe leader did tell the truth -- cookie selling is indeed optional, and The Pea's troupe leaders are really nice and low-key about all of it. No, the main driving force behind this sales push is The Pea herself. Who would have guessed? Neither Alfie nor I are salespeople; in fact, the thought of accompanying The Pea as she knocks on doors and utilizes her selling skills/cuteness/guilt tactics to sell cookies just fills us with dread.
The Pea, on the other hand, is really excited about the whole thing. She came out of this Wednesday's Brownie meeting raring to go, with her new Brownie vest in hand and her sales pitch in her head. Like all successful businesswoman, she has set a goal for herself -- 50 boxes. She chose this lofty number because it's what she needs to earn herself a Cookie keychain. Thank goodness she doesn't want a digital camera (sell 800 boxes of cookies) or an iPod (1,000 boxes).
Her grand total so far? 10 boxes. That total will probably improve over the next few weeks (she has only sold to her aunts and grandparents so far and hasn't done any door-to-door selling yet). But I'm not particularly keen on selling cookies for her, and Alfie doesn't want to be one of those parents who do their kids' fundraising for them at the office. Nor do we plan to buy 40 boxes of cookies so that she can reach her goal. So I'm wondering whether to gently suggest, that rather than the keychain, perhaps she ought to aim for the Iron-on Cookie patch (24 boxes) instead.
Proof that I'm raising confident kids
CleanBoy: Yes, I can play with her beads, she will let me.
Me: But you need to ask her permission first, otherwise she might get angry.
CleanBoy: She won't be angry. She loves my cuteness.
Photo Hunters: Skinny
CleanBoy on a bench shaped like a skinny dog...
Skinny ostrich neck...
Unfortunately, I was not among those skinny things.... too many parties and too much good food!
For more skinny things, click here.
Fridays Feast #175
Officially, my middle name is Lopez, my mother's maiden name. Everyone in the Philippines does this and I wouldn't change it for anything.
Soup: If you were a fashion designer, which fabrics, colors, and styles would you probably use the most?
I would probably lean towards anything neutral, simple, classic and clean.
Salad: What is your least favorite chore, and why?
Laundry is the bane of my existence -- it just never ends.
Main Course: What is something that really frightens you, and can you trace it back to an event in your life?
We had some thunderstorms recently, and I surprised myself by instinctively stiffening up and covering my ears as soon as I saw the lightning, no matter how hard I tried not to, no matter how I knew that my scared kids were watching me and expecting me to comfort them. I just couldn't stop my hands from flying up to my ears. And it wasn't even a bad thunderstorm. It must be from the thunderstorms we had in Manila when I was a kid, really terrifying, earsplitting cracks of thunder following lightning that made night seem like day. However, I would say that my worst fear would be something really bad happening to anyone in my family. Compared to that, I'll take thunderstorms every minute of the day.
Dessert: Where are you sitting right now? Name 3 things you can see at this moment.
I'm sitting in front of my computer, and I can see the screen, my new ipod, and my husband.
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Please Don't Pet that Tiger! (aka our visit to Zoobic Safari)
Boy am I a hypocrite. Those wild monkeys are like kittens compared to some of the animals we got close to at Zoobic Safari.
Here we all are at Zoobic's entrance, ready for an exciting adventure. And what an adventure it was! At almost every attraction, we found ourselves saying, These people are absolutely NUTS. This would be completely illegal in any other part of the world!! Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining, we were all just amazed (and grateful) that no accidents (like the recent one at the SF Zoo) have happened so far.
The insanity began while waiting for our tour guide. We spotted this tiger in the waiting area, along with a sign saying you can pay to have your photo taken with the tiger sitting on your lap. Now, this tiger did not look full-grown yet, and was so listless that I suspect he may have been drugged, but still -- think of Siegfried and Roy. We decided to pass on that one.
The first stop on our 3-hour tour was the Zoobic Park, a petting zoo containing many of the usual animals such as ducks, goats, miniature horses and camels., mixed in with more exotic species such as the mouse-deer, tarsier monkey, bearcat, and albino carabao.
I must admit, though, that I have never been to a petting zoo with monkeys and porcupines and wild boars before; they're not the kind of animals you'd want your kids petting. And only in the Philippines would a petting zoo include a cassowary, listed in the Guinness' Book of World Records as the world's most dangerous bird. OK, yes, the bird was behind a chicken-wire fence, but hey, if the creature can crush a human skull with one whack of its head or kick of its foot, that fence ain't gonna do much good.
I would say that the highlight of the tour came when we boarded a safari jeep and drove through a tiger enclosure. Note the safety features of this jeep in the photo below: the only thing between us and the tigers was a series of doors made of what looked like reinforced chicken wire. To make things more interesting, we paid P100 for the privilege of feeding the tigers some raw chicken for lunch.
Once we entered the tiger enclosure, our guide, who was sitting in the back with us, took out the chicken and dangled it outside a little trapdoor in the wire grill.
A couple of tigers caught the whiff of raw meat, came up to the window, and began eating the chicken right out of the guy's hands!
After a while, the guide threw what was left of the chicken up on the roof, and surprise, surprise, the tigers followed. We exited the with the tigers running, hot on our heels. (Tip: if you want to do this, make sure you begin your tour earlier in the day, when the tigers are still hungry. Apparently by the end of the day, they've been fed so many chickens that they are content to sit and stare).
Next up, a train ride through The Savannah, an area with all sorts of wildlife such as wild boars and ostriches.
Again, we were struck by the proximity of the animals and the lack of safety precautions. That ostrich could easily have bounded over and pecked my nosy-tourist eyes out. Or maybe they consider the brightly-colored train to be some sort of dangerous animal and are happy to stay away.
Halfway through the train ride, we had another Close Encounter with tigers. We stopped and walked through a small building with half a dozen tiger cages. We were literally inches away from the cages. I can easily imagine an unruly child sticking his fingers through the mesh. One tiger was prowling around his cage; I remember looking into his eyes and feeling a deep and primal fear. We were no longer in some fast-moving jeep, we were on his turf now. It was like I was being hunted. I had no doubt he could hurl his body against the mesh, dent it, snap some wires and tear my throat out.
After hopping on some tree stumps in an area filled with giant monitor lizards (bayawak), we were treated to an Aeta cultural performance. The Aeta (pronounced "eye-ta"), a tribe of indigenous people in the Subic area, did some native dances that mimic the animals in the forest, including a monkey dance where the guy climbs up a tree as though we were strolling up a hill.
Later, the kids got to pose with them and play with their weapons.
The last major attraction was a pit with about 200 crocodiles in it. When left alone, these crocodiles seemed to enjoy basking in the sun, or swimming lazily around, or crawling slowly up the sloping sides of the pit. But dangle a chicken leg above their pit (for an extra P100), and watch how quickly they move then.....
What a day! And what a steal. The weekday admission price of P295 got us into the park and includes a 3-hour guided tour of the whole complex. We paid an extra P100 to ride their safari jeepney and train through the Tiger Encounter and Savannah areas -- well worth it to avoid the hassle of driving through these areas in our own vehicles and having to strap our kids in and out of their seats each time (besides, the kids preferred the brightly-decorated jeepneys and trains anyway). Well worth it for half a day of crazy experiences and incredible fun.
In the end, all we could say was, Thank God we got to do this, because the next time we visit, Zoobic may very well be shut down (though I certainly hope not). Let me put it another way:
Admission to Zoobic Safari -- $7.40
Safari Jeepney ride through Tiger Encounter -- $2.50
Train ride through Savannah -- $2.50
Half a raw chicken to feed crocodiles -- $2.50
Whole raw chicken to feed tigers -- $5.00
Getting tiger saliva sprayed in your face: Priceless
Too many birthdays
and the second was with their schoolfriends after we got back home.
After all, I thought, they are 2 separate individuals, so if they're going to share a birthday and a cake, why not give them 2 parties? I didn't realize that CleanBoy saw it quite differently:
Me (after the second party): CleanBoy, how old are you now?
Me: No, four.
CleanBoy: No, five.
Me: No, four.
CleanBoy: No, I'm five!! In Manila I turned four, and now after this party, I'm five!
Someone pass me a tissue
-- Jon Mateos Ong, photographer
If that is true, Mr. Ong, then I must say that God did a superb job at my brother's wedding, and so did you. Thank you.
A Delicious Way to Spend the Day
Despite growing up in Manila, I've only been to Binondo a handful of times. So when I found out about the Big Binondo Food Wok, I knew we had to try it out. It was the perfect opportunity to experience the sights, sounds and tastes of Binondo through the eyes of an expert. Our guide, Ivan Man-Dy, runs an entertaining and informative tour, but even better, he knows where all the great food is.
We began our morning at the last remaining chocolate manufacturer in Chinatown. After breathing in the heady aroma of cocoa, we were treated to tiny cups of hot chocolate -- not hot cocoa, mind you. This stuff is sinfully thick and rich. Like espresso, it's meant to be sipped from tiny cups because it contains no milk, just chocolate, water and sugar.
Our next stop was a little eatery that exemplified all of Ivan's food stops that day -- small and nondescript, places that you wouldn't look twice at (or even realize the exist), but serve really great food. The Hokkien-style fried rice with peanuts and fishball soup below became our first full meal of the morning.
It's a good thing that none of us had eaten any breakfast; by this time, my tummy was already pleasantly full, and I could have called it quits and gone on till lunch without any hunger pangs. But hey, it's a food tour -- where's the fun in that?
I won't go through each and every food stop we made, for two reasons: first, I can't remember them all, there were so many (it was a 4-hr tour of food joints interspersed with visits to some famous and not-so-famous Binondo landmarks). Second, I'd be giving away all of Ivan's secrets, and if you want to know more, you should take the tour yourself! Let me just say that there was still MUCH more food: think fried siopao (pork buns that are usually served steamed), dried fruit, iced coffee, fried sweet dough, lumpia (spring roll), hot tea.
I have to say, not all of the food appealed to me. I nearly gagged on some boiled eggs that were soaked in tea for 3 days -- the clearly-visible veins reminded me too much of the infamous balut (fertilized duck egg).
And the thought of drinking the broth made from boiling this lizard in water proved to be too much for me (luckily, they didn't serve it).
But the delicious far outweighed the gross, and the crowning glory for me was this stop somewhere in the middle of our tour: a small, nondescript place that serves the best dumplings on earth, with dough made fresh daily. Steamed, boiled, fried, however they cooked it, I have never tasted dumplings quite like those. I doubt if I'll ever manage to find my way to that dumpling place again (unless I take the tour again), but for now at least, the memory of those delicious little bites is enough.
Needless to say, we did not have lunch that day.
For more delicious things, click here.
Fridays Feast #174
A couple of days ago, we received a box of Joseph Schmidt truffles in the mail. We have no idea who sent them; there was no return address or receipt, and the accompanying card only said, "Happy Winter Solstice". After two seconds of looking at each other and thinking, poison?, we ripped open the cover and dug in. So whoever sent them to us, thank you and please 'fess up!
Soup: If you could have a summer and/or winter home, where would you want it to be?
I would love a vacation home on the beach and on the ski slopes.
Salad: Pick one: pineapple, orange, banana, apple, cherry.
I would pick "orange", but it has to be a seedless clementine orange or satsuma mandarin.
Main Course: Describe the nicest piece of clothing that you own.
Anything that I look thin in.
Dessert: If you could forget one whole day from your life, which day would you choose to wipe from your memory?
I've already forgotten it, so I can't say.
for more feasts, click here.