Friday, September 25, 2009

White Hair Chronicles X - Seems like only yesterday...

from an email.

Seems like only yesterday...
BARBIE DOLL has her 50th birthday this year.......

Tweety Bird is 60 years old!

And what about all our other ....



Wonder Woman (touch of menopause here I think?)

Batman and Robin


"Life is short, break the rules, forgive sooner, love with true love, laugh without control and always keep smiling.

Maybe life is not the party that we were expecting, but in the mean time, we're here and we can still dance....."

Growing old is not for whimps.....Jock Smith & Bette Davis

Thursday, September 24, 2009

White Hair Chronicles IX - COBOL is 50

We mark this month the 50th year of the COBOL language. COBOL (COmmon Business Oriented Language) is one of the oldest programming language. It is also the first computer language I learned. I had to study it back in college. We used punched cards then for our programs that run on big-double-cabinet sized computers at the university.

According to Wikipedia, a specification for COBOL was initially designed by Grace Hopper. Committees were set up to recommend an approach to a common business language. On September 18, 1959, they decided on COBOL for the name.

I also used COBOL in my job as an Operations Research analyst, though I didn't use punch cards anymore, I typed directly on to dumb terminals of a ref-sized mainframe. That mainframe, which had a 90 MB hard disk (yes that's right 90 megabytes) that took half-day to format. There were no defragment tools then. But it also had a BASIC (BASIC itself is 45 years old) version that can do matrix algebra. COBOL is still very much around, though largely unseen.

Those were the days. Life was so much simpler.

"Ah, but I was so much older then, I’m younger than that now" - (My Back Pages-Bob Dylan)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

White Hair Chronicles VIII - Ganito kami noon, ganito pa rin ngayon?

a 1972 photo
This week marks the 37th year of imposition of martial law. I was a frail, skinny kid then in a public elementary school and this weekend I will be meeting again with some classmates from those days, some I have not seen in 35 years. They will find me still frail and skinny and still a kid at heart.

I remember waking up and being told that were no classes that day, September 23, 1972, a Friday I think. We were not allowed to go out and check with our schoolmates/ neighbors. The streets were deserted anyway. No one knew what was going on. There were bombings and rallies going on the past weeks. Talks were rife that classes will be suspended until the end of the schoolyear. We were initially overjoyed but got immediately terrified when told that we may have to repeat the grade when school reopens.

The TV channels were cut off. When Marcos appeared on-screen with his "I hereby declare" speech, people confirmed what was whispered in hush-hush tones. After which, only one channel operated and all it showed was Maribeth Bichara gyrating in skimpy clothes, alternating with Sahlee Quizon and Sonny Cortez singing something about sugar.

I'm sure my classmates can fill up my fading memories of how things were. These days we also have insurgency, bombings, journalists/activists missing/getting killed, corruption, military in the bureaucracy, poverty, efforts to change the charter, and more recently spying on the academe. Jun Cruz Reyes was my Filipino literature instructor in high school while Bien Lumbera was my professor in Pilipino 41 (an elective course - Critical Thinking) in college.

Alex Magno refuses to see the parallels between the situation then and now. But Winnie Monsod believes we are still haunted by Marcos' martial law, enumerating the problems that hound us up to this day.

While Alex Magno insists that dictatorship is impossible at this time, it is not dictatorship per se that bothers us. It is the damage being done to the institutions just to perpetuate oneself in power. It is to that that we say never again.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Pacquiao will have a tough time versus Mayweather

As I expected, Mayweather ran roughshod over Marquez. The Pretty Boy was simply much faster, sleeker, and mas magulang. And the fellow who gave Pacquiao fits in their two fights had no answer to the bigger Mayweather. The easy Mayweather win was an impressive fight for the two boxers. It was not boring at all, despite the virtual shutout.

So, how will Pacquiao fare against Mayweather? Marquez lost two controversial fights against Pacquiao. They fought on the same weight classes over the years, although Pacquiao started out much smaller. But Marquez was able to hold his own against Pacman. Against the naturally bigger Mayweather, the story was drastically different. They were in different fighting classes.

I have to give props to Marquez. He tried to make a go of it. But his best was not enough. Mayweather can rightfully claim to be the best fighter of all time. But not necessarily the most endearing or the most exciting. He can beat them all. Period.

If Pacquiao fights Mayweather, Pacman must be wary of the left hook. And he must counter with his own left or upper. In short he must be perfect on that night. Then he will have a chance.

In the meantime, Pac's corner will have to consider not letting Cotto get too much weight advantage over their fighter. In this fight, Mayweather visibly outweighed Marquez by more than 10 lbs. Manny, for his part, should start training seriously. With everything else equal, a good natural welterweight will always beat a good natural featherweight, as Marquez learned tonight. A superb training regimen/ discipline for this fight will make the difference for our pambansang kamao. For all Filipinos' sake, all showbiz/politician leeches, this goes to his network too, tantanan niyo muna si Pacman. Train in Batanes, for pete's sake.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Marquez 142, Mayweather 146, and it's a welterweight fight?

At the weigh-in this morning (Manila time), Juan Manuel Marquez weighed in at 142 lbs., while Floyd Mayweather, Jr. tipped the scales at 146. Wtf? This is a welterweight fight where the limit is 147 lbs. It turns out that there is a supposed catch-weight at 144 lbs.

JMM looked flabby even if he's just 142. He could bulk up overnight as fighters do come fight time. But that will make him flabbier, and softer, and slower. There is even lesser chance for him to win.

FMJ looked ripped and sweaty, but he doesn't look weak. He will be quick. He can add up more poundage overnight and still be comfortable tomorrow. He will win within the distance.

It looks like FMJ will pay a fine for coming in above 144. But he doesn't care, rightly claiming it's a welterweight fight anyway. The concept of catch weights foul up boxing.

Come November, when PacMan fights Cotto at a catchweight of 145 (in another welterweight title fight), Cotto can show up at above 145, pay the fines, and enjoy an advantage. What then are the weight classes for? Hopefully, PacMan learns a lesson from the beating JMM will get tomorrow. PacMan can opt not to fight Cotto if Cotto gets above 145.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

My women's tennis album 10 - Caroline Wozniacki

She fell a bit short this year but many are predicting a great year for her next year.

Wozniacki upskirtWozniacki upskirt

Wozniacki upskirt

Wozniacki upskirtWozniacki upskirt

Wozniacki upskirt

Wozniacki upskirtWozniacki upskirtWozniacki upskirt

Wozniacki upskirtWozniacki upskirt

See also Album 9.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Ant

From an email. Click on play to advance slides manually.
The Ant
A Fable...
May be not....

Every day, a small ant arrives at work very early and starts work immediately.

She produces a lot and she was happy.

The Chief, a lion, was surprised to see that the ant was working without supervision.

He thought if the ant can produce so much without supervision, wouldn’t she produce even more if she had a supervisor!

So he recruited a cockroach who had extensive experience as supervisor and who was famous for writing excellent reports.

The cockroach’s first decision was to set up a clocking in attendance system.

He also needed a secretary to help him write and type his reports and …

… he  recruited a spider, who managed the archives and monitored all phone calls.

The lion was delighted with the cockroach's reports and asked him to produce graphs to describe production rates and to analyze trends, so that he could use them for presentations at Board meetings.

So the cockroach had to buy a new computer and a laser printer and …

… recruited a fly to manage the IT department.

The ant, who had once been so productive and relaxed, hated this new plethora of paperwork and meetings which used up most of her time…!

The lion came to the conclusion that it was high time to nominate a person in charge of the department where the ant worked.

The position was given to the cicada, whose first decision was to buy a carpet and an ergonomic chair for his office.

The new person in charge, the cicada, also needed a computer and a personal assistant, who he brought from his previous department, to help him prepare a Work and Budget Control Strategic Optimization Plan …

The Department where the ant works is now a sad place, where nobody laughs anymore and everybody has become upset …

It was at that time that the cicada convinced the boss, the lion, of the absolute necessity to start a climatic study of the environment.

Having reviewed the charges for running the ant’s department, the lion found out that the production was much less than before.

So he recruited the owl, a prestigious and renowned consultant to carry out an audit and suggest solutions.

The owl spent three months in the department and came up with an enormous report, in several volumes, that concluded: “The department is overstaffed …”

Guess who the lion fires first?

The ant, of course, because she “showed lack of motivation and had a negative attitude".

You must have seen so many ants and you may be one among them

The characters in this fable are fictitious; any resemblance to real people or  facts within the Corporation is pure coincidence…

The end
Adapted from Portuguese by PR. Obrigado Mário.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Roger, over and out?

As fans lay transfixed watching the battle for the US Open, it became apparent that there is also a changing of the guards in the tennis world. The champs are getting younger and younger. I am not completely writing Roger Federer off, but since last year, I felt that Roger's chances for a Slam win is higher if Rafael Nadal gets waylaid early. This happened in the French Open and also now in US Open when Juan del Potro gave Rafa no chance after his match with Gonzales.

But del Potro did not stop there. He went on to win it all. He is just 20 years old. Roger is just 27, still years before one's prime in other sports. They get younger all the time. Which makes me feel still older and older.

In the distaff side, 17 year old Melanie Oudin made a very good run for the crown, scoring upsets over people still under 25, before being stopped by Caroline Wozniacki, herself a teenager.

After an astounding streak of 22 consecutive Grand Slam semi-finals, is it now Roger, over and out?

Sunday, September 13, 2009

My women's tennis album 9 - Teeners winners at the US Open

Some may not have won all the way, but here are some sexy successes at the US Open.
Photos from


See also Album 8.

Friday, September 11, 2009

White Hair Chronicles VII - Stroke may be striking at a younger age

A female office mate was rushed to the hospital yesterday after exhibiting signs of a stroke. She is just a couple of years older than me. She is the second or third colleague in recent memory to suffer such disease. While we continue to pray and hope for her full recovery, her predicament and the continuous prayers we offer for our ill parents, make me realize that we are irreversibly going into that part of aging demographics.

As I am wont to do, I googled what causes strokes. I came across this news that stroke may be striking at a younger age in the United States. Research on stroke patients at a St. Louis hospital between 1999 and 2008 found that 45 percent were under 65 and 27 percent were under the age of 55. Although they say it is hard to know from this single study whether this is a trend throughout the United States, I think this could be happening as well elsewhere. My female colleague is a year short of 50. The other colleagues I know are also below 65.

Suddenly, it's not just the white hairs we should worry about.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Autonomy + Mastery + Purpose = Real Change

The above video shows Dan Pink talking about motivation and rewards at the TED conference. He argues that the traditional carrot-and-stick approach is only suitable for defined tasks with a clear set of rules to follow. However, rewards do not work for tasks that require any kind of thinking.

He says that for real change to occur employees need to have a sense of autonomy, mastery and purpose. Autonomy is the urge to direct our own lives; mastery refers to the desire to get better at something that matters; and purpose is the yearning to do what we do in the service of something larger than ourselves.

"...There is a mismatch between what science knows and what business does. And here is what science knows. One: Those 20th century rewards, those motivators we think are the natural part of business, do work, but only in a surprisingly narrow band of circumstances. Two: Those if-then rewards often destroy creativity. Three: The secret to high performance isn't rewards and punishments, but that unseen intrinsic drive. The drive to do things for their own sake. The drive to do things cause they matter...

"...The science confirms what we know in our hearts. So, if we repair this mismatch between what science knows and what business does, If we bring our motivation, notions of motivation into the 21st century, if we get past this lazy, dangerous, ideology of carrots and sticks, we can strengthen our businesses, ... and maybe, maybe, maybe we can change the world."

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

My women's tennis album 8 - US Open 2009

Looks like dark colored shorts are in vogue at the US Open. Not many interesting shots yet.

See Also: Album 1, Album 2, Album 3, Album 4, Album 5, Album 6, Album 7

Monday, September 7, 2009

Just do it.

The passivity and incompetence in Philippine bureaucracy can be partly traced to its segurista attitude. The tendency of upper management to be aristocratic and dictatorial together with their underlings' sipsip ways (unhealthy managing up) likewise lead to the lethargy. Many are unwilling to take initiative outside of what upper management hints, wary of their bosses' capacity to hold grudges.

So risk-aversion is ever the order of the day. Maybe the workforce should revisit the Grace Hopper quotations "It's easier to ask forgiveness than it is to get permission" and "A ship in a harbor is safe, but that is not what a ship is built for."

We need to remember that "winners take imperfect action while losers are still perfecting the plan" (Gina Graves).  Or as the commercial says "Just do it".

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Signs of incompetent managers

Incompetence - When you earnestly believe you can compensate for a lack of skill by doubling your efforts, there's no end to what you can do.


There is an article by Margaret Heffernan for which lists the traits of incompetent managers. Her list includes:

Bias against action: There are always plenty of reasons not to take a decision, reasons to wait for more information, more options, more opinions. But real leaders display a consistent bias for action. People who don’t make mistakes generally don’t make anything. Legendary ad man David Ogilvy argued that a good decision today is worth far more than a perfect decision next month. Beware prevaricators.

Secrecy: "We can’t tell the staff," is something I hear managers say repeatedly. They defend this position with the argument that staff will be distracted, confused or simply unable to comprehend what is happening in the business. If you treat employees like children, they will behave that way -- which means trouble. If you treat them like adults, they may just respond likewise. Very few matters in business must remain confidential and good managers can identify those easily. The lover of secrecy has trouble being honest and is afraid of letting peers have the information they need to challenge him. He would rather defend his position than advance the mission. Secrets make companies political, anxious and full of distrust.

Over-sensitivity: "I know she’s always late, but if I raise the subject, she’ll be hurt." An inability to be direct and honest with staff is a critical warning sign. Can your manager see a problem, address it headlong and move on? If not, problems won’t get resolved, they’ll grow. When managers say staff is too sensitive, they are usually describing themselves. Wilting violets don’t make great leaders. Weed them out. Interestingly, secrecy and over-sensitivity almost always travel together. They are a bias against honesty.

Love of procedure: Managers who cleave to the rule book, to points of order and who refer to colleagues by their titles have forgotten that rules and processes exist to expedite business, not ritualize it. Love of procedure often masks a fatal inability to prioritize -- a tendency to polish the silver while the house is burning.

Focus on small tasks: Another senior salesperson I hired always produced the most perfect charts, forecasts and spreadsheets. She was always on time, her data completely up-to-date. She would always volunteer for projects in which she had no core expertise -- marketing plans, financial forecasts, meetings with bank managers, the office move. It was all displacement activity to hide the fact that she could not do her real job.

Addiction to consultants: A common -- but expensive -- way to put off making decisions is to hire consultants who can recommend several alternatives. While they’re figuring these out, managers don’t have to do anything. And when the consultant’s choices are presented, the ensuing debates can often absorb hours, days, months. Meanwhile, your organization is poorer but it isn’t any smarter. When the consultant leaves, he takes your money and his increased expertise out the door with him.

Long hours: In my experience, bad managers work very long hours. They think this is a brand of heroism but it is probably the single biggest hallmark of incompetence. To work effectively, you must prioritize and you must pace yourself. The manager who boasts of late nights, early mornings and no time off cannot manage himself so you’d better not let him manage anyone else.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

My women's tennis album 7 - Tennis goddess Anna Kournikova

Tennis goddess deserves a spread all her own. After all she renewed a lot of interest in women's tennis.

See Also: Album 1, Album 2, Album 3, Album 4, Album 5, Album 6

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Bayan muna bago sarili

I would have voted for Mar Roxas.

I believe he is the only candidate that puts the nation's interests above his own. Not many can say that with Villar, Erap, and the others. I also think that despite his sputtering start, he is beginning to pick up momentum to figure prominently in succeeding surveys. He leads all other presidential contenders in an online poll at

He has long been groomed by elder Liberal party leaders as the standard bearer, although others within the party demand a caucus. In a supreme display of statesmanship and in a class act worthy of emulation by all other oppposition candidates, Mar stepped aside to give way to the popular clamor for Noynoy to run. This move further marginalizes Liberal Party noisemakers led by GMA lapdog Lito Atienza. This morning on radio Atienza still insists on party consultations. I'm sure he will soon realize the small band of Liberals he leads shares the same thoughts of many Filipinos about Noynoy's candidacy.

With this great step, sacrificing his own ambition, I hope other opposition candidates likewise step aside to make a truly formidable opposition in the 2010 elections.

See also my new criteria for choosing the next president.