Friday, October 30, 2009

White hair chronicles XII - Cataracts in your 40s?

In my new office, there is a policy that requires a doctor's certificate for reimbursing incurred costs for your first eyeglass prescription. So I hied off to an ophthalmologist near the office for a quick refraction. I figured I don't need my regular ophthalmologist on the other side of town for the bureaucratic requirement. I last visited him 4 years ago and he said that at my age my eyesight will start to get better. And it did.

The new doctor immediately noticed my white hair and mentioned its correlation with a medical/eye condition. I did not pay attention. I just wanted the certificate for the reimbursement. So, on with the refraction. She noticed that I needed stronger lenses. She said that my eyesight should have stabilized.

She then examined my eyes. She asked if I am on steroids. No! Did you have recent surgery? No! Recent trauma? No! Are you diabetic? No! Did your parents have cataracts? Yes? At what age? In their late 60s! Have you been exposed to ultraviolet rays for a long time? No! Do you have skin pigmentation? You mean, birthmarks? No. No!.

Why these questions, I asked? She said there is cloudiness on my right eye which could indicate early onset of cataracts. Are you serious? She wrote on the doctor's certificate - myopia, astigmatism, presbyopia. I know myopia and astigmatism. Presbyopia is new to me. Wikipedia says it is "similar to grey hair and wrinkles, presbyopia is a symptom caused by the natural course of aging; the direct translation of the condition's name is "elder eye". She prescribed Quinax eyedrops 2x a day and told me to come back after a vial is consumed. Googling Quinax returned:
Therapeutic actions:
Quinax protects sulfo-groups of the crystalline lens from oxidation and promote resorption of opaque proteins of the lens. Possesses properties that tend to activate the proteolitic enzymes, that are located in the aqueous humor of the front eye section.

Indications:
Cataract of different origin starting from age related problems to traumatic disorders.

Contraindications and cautions:
If used in a long term therapy it is not recommended to stop the treatment suddenly because possible withdrawal syndrome occurrence that is manifested in vision impairment. It is also not recommended to stop the treatment suddenly before all the prescribed dosages were administered. Be sure to tell your doctor if you have ever experienced allergy to eye drops.

Adverse effects:
There are possible side-effects associated with this medicine that can affect individuals in different ways. If a side effect is stated here, that does not necessarily mean the fact that all people using azapentacene will experience it or any other.
Side effects for azapantacene are mainly local and include symptoms of allergic reactions like:
itching
burning
redness of the eye area
swelling. (http://www.pharmacy1010.com/product_page.asp?id=195)

Now that she told me about the cloudiness, I think I am now having cloudy vision from my right eye. Shucks.

I am getting a second opinion.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Noynoy na!

A new blog featuring an open letter to former president Fidel V. Ramos from his niece made a buzz at the political scene this week. In it, she asks FVR to endorse Noynoy. She sums up the argument for Noynoy/Mar - "...he (Noynoy) is now the one candidate with the potential to unite the opposition against the ruling party. For his part, Mar is no slouch, moreover, and the Liberal Party appears to have some progressive elements."

Philippine politics is characterized by a weak party system. Political butterflies abound. That is why many different configurations or tandems for president/vice president are floated around. The situation is very fluid. You can hear possibilities of a Villar/Loren, Villar/Chiz, Chiz/Loren, Chiz/Ping, Gibo/Loren, Chiz/Dick, etc. Any of which is a real possibility. Now that Chiz decided to bolt from the NPC, the possibility of a Gibo/Chiz may not be far-fetched despite the previous anti-GMA stand of Chiz. The administration says it is open to a Gibo/Chiz team.

Consider this: Chiz's tweet last night indicated that he might be supporting the gerrymandering bill that gives Dato Arroyo a congressional district. With that tweet, Chiz hints of an alliance with an Arroyo son and at the same time takes a potshot at Noynoy. Noynoy is opposing the bill.

Chiz portrays himself as a follower of the Quezonian "my loyalty to my party ends where my loyalty to my country begins". It is not immediately clear what party stand he is against. Why Chiz would shun party politics this time after doing so in all his political life gives credence to rumors that the NPC boss, Danding Cojuangco, would finance only a fraction of his campaign.

By now, it is clear that only the Noynoy/Mar tandem stands squarely against the current administration. All the rest can be seen to offer to or gain some accommodation from the administration. All the others do not consider the interests of the country. They all belong to the parte-parte party. With them, patronage politics will still be in place.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Man got paid for 5 years without working a single day


An Illinois man got US$469,000 in paychecks without working for a single day. Anthony Armatys of Palatine, Illinois, pleaded guilty Monday on one count of theft. He accepted a job with Avaya Inc. in September 2002, but later changed his mind. The company's computer system did not remove his name from the payroll. Paychecks were deposited into his bank account until February 2007, when Avaya auditors discovered the mistake.

Could this ever happen in the Philippine government sector? With contractualization of labor, employees are forced to take 6-months contracts, subject to renewal. But there are indeed 15-30 employees, those who show up only on paydays. There are many of these employees especially in the local government sector. In general the government workforce cannot deny that many get paid without working. All they have to do is show up. That is called management.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Typhoon Santi to hit RP in 3 days - pray for Bro to spare us again

Exactly one month after the great flood and just two days after declaring that the country would be free from any low pressure area at least in the next two to three days, PAG-ASA announced another weather disturbance is threatening to hit the country within the next three days. The new storm would be named Santi.

Once again, we should pray to Bro for Santi(no) to spare us. As in the telenovela "May Bukas Pa", we should be reminded that miracles don’t just fall from heaven but comes to those who keep their faith.

Monday, October 26, 2009

My women's tennis album 12 - Ana Ivanovic

Ana Ivanovic is the sexiest female tennis player. She won the tennisreporters.net's Sexiest Female Player award for the last four straight years (2005-2008). She is 11th on FHM's 100 Sexiest Women in the World 2009 list. Other testaments to her beauty include the recognition given by The Age newspaper as the best-looking tennis player of all-time. Late last year, she won Die Bild newspaper's reader poll for "most beautiful body" in sport and she was named "best looking" female tennis player by The Globe Mail newspaper. Alexa.com says her website is the most-visited website of any sportswoman.

Ana Ivanovic upskirtAna Ivanovic upskirt
Ana Ivanovic upskirt
Ana Ivanovic upskirtAna Ivanovic upskirt

See also Album 11.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Climate change spooks weather bureau - Hopeless PAG-ASA VII


Climate change has made weather forecasting doubly hard. The Philippines now have four seasons, dry, very dry, wet, and very wet. The agency hardest hit by climate change is the PAG-ASA. The Philippine weather bureau, long ridiculed for wrong forecasts, continues to suffer setbacks with its weather forecasts. The people don't mind though. We have learned to expect the opposite of their predictions. We continue to prepare for the worst, but often, PAG-ASA's predictions of very bad weather do not come true.

Typhoon Pepeng was supposed to veer away from Luzon. But it came back a number of times, pouring rains that necessitated the opening of dams, causing much destruction of lives and property. Of course, PAG-ASA does not have Doppler radars to determine rain volume, but that's for the rain volume. Is the Doppler also needed to predict the typhoon's path?

Before Pepeng, typhoon Ondoy was not advertised as it was. In many other times, PAG-ASA raised the alarms for impending strong typhoons. Signals were raised, classes were suspended, only for the sun to shine mightily the next day. PAG-ASA is the weather bureau who cried wolf.

With typhoon Ramil, PAG-ASA once again raised the signal and even hinted of a signal no.4. The country, particularly the northern part, prepared for the onslaught and prayed to high heavens to spare the country. The weather gods listened and once again PAG-ASA was red faced. Other weather agencies predicted Ramil will veer away, PAG-ASA expected it to hit us. Kaya ang iba nagsasabing huwag nang umasa sa PAG-ASA - 'wag asa.

But wait, if we want to be spared of a typhoon's wrath, we have just to make PAG-ASA predict a landfall, and the typhoon will go away. This space has been underestimating the value of the agency. PAG-ASA is not hopeless after all. My apologies.

Friday, October 23, 2009

My women's tennis album 11 - Ashley Harkleroad

Ashley Harkleroad is the first WTA Tennis Player to pose naked for the US Playboy magazine. At 24, she is a new mom, making her a true-blue MILF.







See also Album 10.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Eraptions

It is again time for Eraptions, now that Erap has declared his intention to run again for the presidency.
==================================
Erap to Cardinal:  Hanggang ngayon galit pa ang simbahan sa akin.  This is unfair.
Cardinal:  Why did you say that?
Erap:  Mayroong Sabado de GLORIA, Sagrado de CORAZON, at Domingo de RAMOS.  Bakit ako wala??? Eh, I was also a President!
Cardinal (after a careful thought):  OK, from now on, yours is ASS Wednesday!
----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Erap dreamed that he died and went to heaven. St. Peter gave him Ai-ai delas Alas as partner, saying, 'Kung mabait ka sana , mas maganda ang partner mo.'

Erap saw Chavit with Gretchen Barretto and said, 'Bakit si Chavit, mas madaming kasalanan, si Gretchen ang partner?'

St. Peter: Hijo, parusa yan kay Gretchen.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Why did Erap shoot his wife when he bought a house?
Because the contract reads: 'Execute all 3 copies together with your wife...'

Saturday, October 17, 2009

The Age of Stupid 5


When Ondoy flooded San Juan last September, our small city did not get any media attention at all. I just thought that other areas are worse hit, that's why. In fact, other places that never experienced flooding before were suddenly under water. Some places will be under water for months. Indeed, Ondoy swathed a wide area of destruction.

But still, San Juan itself suffered the worst flooding ever. The Youtube video of cars swept away by the flood currents was taken at the UERM hospital, just across the San Juan river. So why is San Juan not in the news? Not that we are kulang sa pansin, we just want to say that "hey we were victims too". Fortunately, despite the lack of press notice, aid still poured in.

It was also noticeable that during the floods, rescue operations were nowhere in sight. Again, I attributed that to the many people that needed rescuing. But after the water subsided, victims were in unison in saying that no help from the city officials arrived. The rescue efforts that saved hundreds were all initiated by friends and families from higher grounds.

Days after the flood, giant banners were put up by the mayor to exhort San Juanenos to be strong, to work together to make the city rise again from its own efforts, to work together to enliven the people's spirit. Good idea, only if people did not learn that the good mayor sneaked out of the country in the morning of the floods for Singapore to watch(?) the races. Surely, he could not have foretold the great flood. Definitely, he has the right to watch horse races. Absolutely, he is the son of his father.

But talks are rife that his people asked the media to be out of San Juan so people won't notice his absence. Without the media coverage of the people's pleas, help did not come. With the mayor absent, his men were clueless in the rescue operations. He did the wrong thing in going to the races. He did the wrong thing in isolating the city from the media. He is wrong to think that the people does not know any better.

This is the age of stupid.

Friday, October 16, 2009

No Boss Envy in the Office - Survey

Today is Boss Day in the U.S. Results of an online study conducted last week show that a majority of U.S. workers do not think their bosses are honest, and one in four would fire their boss if they could and only four in ten workers would take their bosses' jobs if offered.

The survey finds most American workers happy not to be in charge, recognizing the increasingly challenging job American bosses are facing today due to heightened on-the-job pressures resulting from both economic and business turmoil.

65% would not change anything about their relationship with their bosses showing that strides have been made in improving the manager-employee relationship. However, a quarter of employees say that they do not trust that their boss has been honest about their job security.

Here are some key findings in employee perception of bosses:
- Satisfaction still depends on boss/employee relationship: Almost all workers (89%) still think their relationship with their boss is more important or as important to their job satisfaction.
- Accessibility unchanged: 87% of workers think their boss is just as accessible or more accessible as they were pre-recession.
- Respect has only marginally increased: Only 14% of workers have more respect for what their boss does everyday since the recession began.
- Performance reviews are still in place: 87% of workers think their boss has the same amount of or more focus on the performance review process as they did pre-recession.

Bernadette Kenny, chief career officer, Adecco Group North America said, "Good or bad economy, how employees feel about their work-life is very much dependent on their relationship with their boss. What we're hearing from the thousands of American workers we partner with everyday is that the world of work is more challenging than ever before and constantly changing. Increasingly difficult jobs require impactful managers who lead by example and create the best possible environment for their staff."

Her company offers the following tips for bosses looking to strengthen their relationship with their workers:
- Encourage open dialogue: Start or continue an open forum with employees where they can bring issues to the table and have an honest discussion about their concerns.
- Exhibit loyalty: Acts of loyalty may occur every day but many go unnoticed by employees. Learn to delicately communicate how loyal you are to key employees and how earning their trust is important. Earn employee trust by openly communicating both good and bad news and making every attempt not to surprise any employee.
- Improve morale: Company morale goes hand-in-hand with motivation. Motivate staff through contests, rewards and recognition of top work. Also conduct team-building exercises with staff to build stronger working relationships around the office.
- Communicate opportunities: Motivation also comes when an employee recognizes there are opportunities beyond their day-to-day job within a certain company. Be sure to communicate how the company can continue to help employees grow through special assignments, projects or learning opportunities.

In the Philippine scene, I would say employees also feel the same way as their American counterparts. The tips offered by Kenny could also be used by the Filipino bosses.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Age of Stupid 4 meets Hopeless PAG-ASA VI

After Ondoy and Pepeng showed PAG-ASA's ineffectiveness, the weather bureau boldly predicted three days of good weather last Monday, October 12. And once again, it lived up to its reputation. By Tuesday, the strong rains are back and this afternoon, classes at UST are suspended because of the rains.

While climate change is to blame for the high volume of rain fall, PAG-ASA botched its job in predicting how much volume is going to fall so the dams can have preemptive releases. The sudden releases (no warnings) of water from the dams unnecessarily cost lives and property. This happened with Ondoy. And with Ondoy's horror still fresh on our minds, it happened again with Pepeng. How low can our hopes go.

Tessie Tomas' Amanda Pineda has more credibility than the clowns at PAG-ASA. And she's funny. Nilo Prisco and Nathaniel Cruz blunders would have been funny too, had their inefficiency not brought tragedies.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Age of Stupid 3 - Ironies of the Times

River of Garbage - photo from scienceblogs.com
Water, water everywhere but not a drop to drink - Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner

The scenes at the aftermath of Ondoy and Pepeng are replete with ironies.We all know that non-biodegradable plastic bags and bottles contribute largely to the environmental problem we now face. But given their practicality and with the lack of alternatives, they are widely used now in the distribution of relief goods. We use them to pack the goods, keep our dry clothes from the mud and flood, and as trash bins. These plastics will eventually find their way to clog the waterways and fill the landfills; which will cause further floodings and environmental degradation.

 The recent floods brought us more water than ever, but people trapped on their roofs are thirsty. The evacuation centers do not have access to clean water, even if it was water that forced them there.

At the clean up operations when mud started to cake, I wished for more rains even if it was rains that caused the floods, so I can easily sweep away the sludge.

At the evacuation centers, hapless people were happy to see politicians pretending to care even if it were the leaders' ineffectivity contributed to the people's misery.

I remember Heber's song:

At kung tayo'y nanahimik/ Huwag kayong magalit/ Ang dapat sa atin ay tawagin/ Mga gago!/ Subalit hindi ganyan/ Hindi tayo dapat ganyan/ Marami nang nahihirapan/ Marami nang sumisigaw/ Marami nang namimilipit/ Maging ako'y nahihirapan/ Kaya ako'y sumisigaw/ Sumisigaw! - - Heber Bartolome's "Hoy Utol, Buto't Balat Ka Na'y Natutulog Ka Pa"

Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Age of Stupid 2

The strong rains brought floods that exposed a weak state and a weak republic. Let me add to that. The floods also exposed what we suspected before, the weak candidate of the administration will be a weak leader too. A blog exposed that the coordination efforts of the National Disaster Coordination Council was a disaster. A television footage of an NDCC meeting at the height of the relief efforts showed the military generals with heads bowed in shame because the NDCC was ineffective.

Meanwhile, life goes on in San Juan. We have always been in the forefront of flood stories before, but we take a backseat now despite the heavy damage Ondoy brought because other places were more devastated.

The photo at left shows the scene in front of our house four days after the flood. Contrast that with the other photo showing the actual flood in its early hours. The photo was taken around 1:30pm. The flood was deepest at around 7:00pm, when it was 2.5 ft more than the 1:30 level.

It took a while before things got a semblance of normality. But the people living under the bridge near SM Centerpoint (Sta. Mesa) were back as soon as the flood subsided. I observed them returning to their abode on the 27th, the day after the flood. The pictures, taken on the 29th, indicates that they have washed their clothes, salvaged their belongings and have started to move on. The SM high rise condominium complex in the background is less than 100 meters away.

There are hundreds of other households living near esteros, under bridges, and on other waterways. They clog the canals not only with their waste but with their very presence. They endanger their lives with every coming of the rains.

But how does a weak state implement existing laws against settling on these places?

It doesn't. This is the age of stupid.

Monday, October 5, 2009

White Hair Chronicles XI - Ondoy (Ketsana) and The Age of Stupid

I just watched "The Age of Stupid" last September 24. It is a documentary/ futuristic take on climate change that is more engrossing than Al Gore's "Inconvenient Truth". And then on September 26, it was as if it actually happened. Typhoon Ondoy (Ketsana) poured torrents onto a hapless Metro Manila, deluging us without relent for 6 hours, resulting to the worst floods (I've seen many) I've experienced. This is the age of stupid and we have to learn fast.

I was about to leave early that Saturday morning. But the street was already flooded so I decided to stay home. My son, who was going to attend make-up classes, forgot to bring his lunch money and came back. It turned out to be wise decision. By 11:00 am the water on the street was already waist-deep, and the rains never let up.

My neighbor has moved by then his brand new Pajero to an elevated driveway in the barangay hall across my house. Flood water continued to rise and swiftly crept to the wheels of the Pajero. It was too late to move it to higher grounds because that would mean passing thru already chest deep floods. All the owner could hope for was for the flood to remain at that level.

By noon, the water is already around 8 ft high. And the current was strong. This flood is like no other that I've seen. Whereas before, the flood waters would slowly rise and then ebb, but not flow, as if it was slowly drained out. But this time, the water current was strong enough to move stranded vehicles.

By 2:00 pm, water has started to seep in the second floor of my house. We vainly tried to stack things on top of the tables. The water then was around 12-13 ft. When the flood reached electric outlets, we decided to move next door, where my mother lives. Her portion of the house has an attic, perhaps the floods won't reach us there.

Power was cut off. It was getting dark fast. We had to be rescued quickly before total darkness sets in. But help won't come soon.

Some brave souls decided to use an air bed to take us out of the house. It was around 5:00 pm. We had to go by batches. The first to go were my mom and the kids - my sons and nieces, then ladies - my wife and sister-in-laws. My brother and I carried them piggy back style. But going from the attic to the door meant wading through cold, murky, chest-deep floods, while pushing away floating tables, chairs, TVs, monitors, etc. in near total darkness. And in the little moonlight aided by a tiny penlight, I could see that there were snakes. They were around 10-12 inches long and just about a little finger in diameter, nevertheless, they were scary. I managed to grab a floating plastic flute recorder and swatted away the snakes. I hit around four snakes. It was crazy. This typhoon would put to shame any Hollywood special effects movie.

My brother and I and a neighbor were the last to leave. On the airbed, the rescuers deftly tried to veer away from sharp and pointed edges of the roofs we passed. The flood was already at roof level. They had tied lifelines on the posts. We tugged on the lifelines towards the direction of the higher ground, against the swift current. We passed several houses with people on the roofs begging to be let on the airbed too. But we were already five people on a 5'x6'x8" airbed. And we couldn't risk the airbed getting nicked by the galvanized roof sheets and us sinking to the rushing 15 foot-deep flood waters. After what seemed an eternity, we finally reached higher ground. I was gnashing and gritting my teeth. Perhaps from the cold, perhaps from anger. What stupid thing have we done to deserve this. It was only 7:00pm. It's going to be a long night.

We stayed at my brother's house in the next barangay. My sister-in-law's family is such a nice family. They gladly clothed and fed us. The kids were in high spirits despite the ordeal they just went through. We were thankful we survived. Fatigue and biting cold were not a concern. We were concerned about the others on the roofs we passed by. We were sure many, many more were in far worse condition.

By Sunday morning, the water was gone. It was only then that I discovered that a portion of our adobe wall had collapsed towards the vacant lot next to us. The snakes surely came from that lot. The great flood is over but the cleanup has yet to begin.

It was at that time that I felt I aged a lot overnight. I was soaked in flood waters for a long time, but I felt shriveled, humiliated, and puny against Ondoy.

I am in the age of stupid.

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