Riding in tandem shouldn’t make us criminals.

I am frustrated by the growing bias people are beginning to have against people who ride motorcycles in tandem. Moreover, I am furious that there are efforts to formalize this bias by making it into a law. While I do not deny that there are people who commit crimes while riding in tandem, I do not think that riding in tandem itself should be made illegal.

According to Senate Bill 2344, “An Act Prohibiting Backriders on Two-Wheeled Motorcycles/Scooters and Exceptions Thereto” introduced by Senator Sotto III, “No back-rider shall be allowed on a two-wheeled motorcycle or scooter unless the passenger is the spouse, child or parent of the driver.” The minimum fine is P20,000 for the first offense.

There are good citizens who ride together on motorbikes who do not shoot other people or commit hold ups. Many ride in tandem just to save time and money. Others simply do it because it’s fun. I do not see anything wrong with these. Furthermore, I find the exception for passengers who are the “spouse, child or parent” of the driver too narrow. Among people who ride in tandem are friends, dating couples, domestic partners, and even neighbors who may have just agreed to ride to work together for practical reasons.

When told that many are reacting negatively against his proposal, Sotto responded saying, “This may be frowned upon by some members of society, but we have to think of the higher good of protecting the life and limb of our citizens.” (Canadian Inquirer) Wow! Are we motorcycle riders not citizens too? (When I bought my motorcycle, I had to pay tax. When I register my motorcycle every year, I pay tax. When I buy gas, I pay tax. Why are we being treated like we’re just secondary citizens on the road? My hope is that the taxes we pay will somehow translate to a safer riding environment for riders.)

The proposed law is not only insensitive; it is also stupid. How are the police and the traffic enforcers going to check if people who ride in tandem are indeed qualified for the exceptions? This means that they will have to stop every pair on a motorbike. This can mean that more enforcers will be needed and more traffic for everyone. This also means that every rider with a passenger will now have the burden of proof and can be flagged down even if they are not doing anything illegal. Oh, and does this mean that we now all have to bring marriage certificates and birth certificates? A driver’s licence used to be enough.

On the other hand, if I were going to commit a crime, all I have to do is avoid main roads and check points, or even just drop of my passenger a few meters before a check point. Regular commuters who ride to get from fixed point A (house) to fixed point B (work, school, etc.) without being late will not enjoy the same flexibility.

 

 

Related Articles:

https://www.senate.gov.ph/lis/bill_res.aspx?congress=16&q=SBN-2344 (This is the official government site where the bill is registered)

http://www.interaksyon.com/article/93132/riding-in-tandem–sotto-wants-ban-on-back-riders

http://www.tribune.net.ph/metro/sotto-files-bill-banning-motorcycle-back-riders

http://www.canadianinquirer.net/2014/08/17/senate-bill-banning-motorcycle-back-riders-draw-mixed-reactions/

http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/371995/news/metromanila/ordinance-bans-riding-in-tandem-in-mandaluyong-except-for-family (The City of Mandaluyong has implemented an ordinance patterned after the Bill.)

https://www.facebook.com/groups/mcrightsorg/permalink/1014692505223623/  (Riders react on Facebook)

 

Photo Credit: http://www.pexels.com/photo/2120/

 

Riding Self-Defense

I used to take self-defense classes and I remember my instructor telling me that getting away from danger is still the best way to defend oneself from an attacker. Don’t try to copy the stuff that happen in the movies. The aim of real life self-defense is not to win a street fight, but to survive. Try to avoid the scenario wherein you’ll have to fight. If it’s a hold-up, just give them your stuff. Your life is more valuable. Run away to a populated and well-lit area as soon as you can. In the event that you can’t run away, use whatever it is that you can use to prevent your attacker from hurting you, and then as soon as you can, run away!

I thought that that was really sound advice. Fortunately, I have never found myself in a situation wherein I seriously had to find out whether I could use any moves I learned from him.

However, there was one time, when I found myself in a situation wherein I was able to apply his “get away!” principle.

There was this creepy guy at work who used to make me feel uncomfortable. I already told him I wasn’t interested but he would still try to get close to me.

One evening, I got off from work and found him also there at the parking lot. His motorcycle was parked near to mine.

Creepy Guy: Hey! Since we’re both done with work, let me bring you home so that I can also find out where you live.

Me (as politely as I could):  Thank you, but as you can see, I’m already on my motorcycle, and I’m about to ride away from here on my own, so I don’t really need help going home.

Creepy Guy: I insist.

Me: (Not out loud) Oh shit. (Out loud) No thanks, bye!

I have never valued the fact that my bike had an electric start instead of just a kick start as much as I did at that moment.

I rode out of the compound as quickly as I could. But, he was after me! On the high way, vehicles were packed all around us. Cars were moving slowly. Traffic! I took advantage of every space in front of me as quickly as I could so that I could get away, but Creepy Guy was still close behind me.

My instant impulse was to ride faster. I knew that my motorcycle could go faster than his on a clear road. However, my better judgment kicked in and told me not to go for it. Creepy Guy could be a better skilled rider. I might also endanger myself if I go beyond my comfortable speed. There must be another way to get away. I had to think fast!

I did want to get away from creepy guy, but not at the cost of my own life. I didn't want anything like this to happen.
I did want to get away from creepy guy, but I also didn’t want anything like this to happen.

And then, a flash of insight! I deliberately slowed down. Apparently, Creepy Guy didn’t expect this so he suddenly found himself ahead of me on the road. All I needed to do then was find a turn. It was easy. He lost me.

Of course, I had to take quite a long detour but I didn’t mind it. I felt safer.

I must admit that my thought process when I slowed down wasn’t very clear to me. It all happened so fast. Survival instinct? Intuition? What I found crucial is that I stopped myself from just thinking about outrunning Creepy Guy. A realistic assessment of my capacities and limitations, as well as the environment, somehow enabled me to find a safer option.

After all, I wasn’t in a race; I was in an act of self-defense. The point was not to compete in order to prove anything or win anything. The important thing was to survive.

How about you, do you have your own experience of being followed? How did you deal with it? Or have you had to defend yourself whether on the road or off the road? Self-defense tips are also welcome.

 

Photo Credit: http://pixabay.com/en/sign-icon-symbol-drawing-40000/

Priest shames unwed mother in public then apologizes

Religion is always a sensitive topic, which is why I am always hesitant about writing it. A recent video, however, has really provoked me and I do not think I can just let it pass in silence. Let me tell you about and then tell me what you think.

Here is the video I am talking about:

This video, which has enraged many viewers, shows a priest scolding and humiliating a 17-year-old girl for having sinned (because of pre-marital sex) and then having her child baptized without being married. This video was taken by the girl’s sister and uploaded by their mother as an expression of protest for what the priest did.

Crying, the mother of the teenager said that the priest didn’t know what her daughter has been through. Her daughter’s boyfriend left her when he found out that she was pregnant and this led to an emotional breakdown. The mother said that it would have been better if the priest advised her daughter in private rather than shame her in front of the congregation.

Soon after, the priest issued a public apology admitting that he made a mistake and is asking for forgiveness.

The priest’s apology, taken from http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/617844/priest-who-scolded-unwed-mom-apologizes

His congregation also assures us that appropriate sanctions will be applied.

 

What are your thoughts about this? Is it appropriate for the pulpit to be such a position of power? Or is it? Was the priest that bad or wasn’t he just concerned for the youth of today? Do you agree with the mother that a priest’s advice would have been appreciated if it were in private? Should this indeed go around in social media? After the priest has apologized, should people already let it go? Are there still other things that should be changed in the Roman Catholic Church or are the sanctions enough? Do you think that this is just an isolated case, and there are in fact, more pastorally sensitive priests out there?

 

Sources:

http://cebudailynews.inquirer.net/2014/07/08/priest-scolds-unwed-teen-mother-draws-online-rage/

http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/nation/regions/07/07/14/priest-humiliates-unwed-mother-during-babys-baptism#.U7qckbmkdj8.facebook

http://cebudailynews.inquirer.net/2014/07/07/video-shows-priest-humiliating-unwed-mother-in-baptism/

http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/617844/priest-who-scolded-unwed-mom-apologizes

Surgery Story

I have survived June. It didn’t go as well as I expected but I did survive nonetheless.

June was supposed to be the start of another school year. It was supposed to be a very busy month filled with studies, projects, research, etc. It was always a challenge to survive all these but I considered myself prepared.

However, something I did not prepare for came my way and it changed everything.

Teratoma

One day, my abdomen suddenly began to hurt. It felt like cramps but I wasn’t having my period. The pain slowly began to increase and spread; it became so unbearable. I was rushed to the ER. After a series of tests and hours of being starved for these tests, the doctors informed me they found myomas and a large tumor, bigger than an infant’s head. They explained that the tumor, which turned out to be a teratoma or a dermoid ovarian cyst, had already grown so big that it was pushing my other organs around it towards different directions and this was what was causing the pain. They recommended that I undergo surgery. I was even told should the procedure be delayed, the tumor might even explode.

Because I was sufficiently threatened and in pain, I found no difficulty agreeing to their suggestion. Anyway, I had a health insurance and I expected much financial help from this.

Soon after, more doctors came to conduct more tests to ensure that I was fit for surgery and then the anesthesiologist came to explain how they would prepare for me for the procedure. They told me that anesthesia will be injected into my spine and the effect of this is numbness from below my waist and so I will not be able to move my legs. Next, they will give me something that will put me to sleep. The thought of losing all control and being at the complete mercy of others, even if they were undoubtedly skilled doctors, terrified me. While I was told that they were confident that I would survive this operation, since no surgery is totally without risk, thinking that I could be put to sleep and then never wake up also scared me.

However, I tried my best to be brave. Anyway, fear was not my only emotion then. I was excited. I was truly anticipating that the teratoma would be removed so that my pain would go away (and maybe my tummy might get even smaller, as a bonus!) My husband accompanied me on the way to the operating room. Right before we parted, he held my hand and told me that he loves me. His hands were clammy so I knew he was nervous. I was more preoccupied with what would and could happen. I wasn’t able to say anything before the nurses rolled me away.

I was eventually brought inside the operating room and placed on the operating table. The OB/GYN surgeon asked me where I would prefer her to cut me. Because I was more preoccupied with surviving rather than aesthetics, I told her to cut me where she felt most confident. She decided to make the incision from rightbelow my navel downwards. After this, the anesthesiologist did what they said they would. The injections were painful but I tried my best not to move for fear that the needle would hit something else in my spine. And then the numbness they promised took place. I couldn’t feel my feet. Then… I slept.

I suddenly woke up while I was still on the operating table. I was conscious of people around me, holding me. Someone just told me to relax. I saw the surgeon walk from somewhere towards me. She said something about myomas, and then, returned to my incision. I felt her proceed with whatever she was doing, but I felt this bluntly and without pain. Then, I fell asleep again.

I woke up in the recovery room. One of the nurses came near me and emptied something with reddish liquid by my bedside. It took me a few moments to realize that this thing was connected to me; I had a catheter. Realizing that I was already conscious, the nurse talked to me to explain that the teratoma had already been removed, but the doctor wasn’t able to save my ovary and had to remove it as well. The doctor was also able to remove some myomas. After a few more minutes, I was able to move my legs and this signaled to them that I could already be returned to my room.

I told the nurses that my husband may still be waiting outside.The nurses told me that no one was there anymore because my operation took around 5 hours and it was already late night. I was brought directly to my room and there I found my husband waiting for me. I immediately took the opportunity to tell him that I love him.

Post-Ops

I thought that the ordeal ended with me surviving the surgery. Little did I know that the healing was a difficult part of it as well. The first few days was like a constant hangover (without even the beer, which makes it worse than a hangover). I needed to depend on people to care for me and help me with even the simplest things. Sneezing, coughing and laughing was painful, if not impossible.

To make matters worse, I have already missed more days of work than I had earlier hoped for. I already feel very bad for the guy whose substituting for me. Before the surgery, the doctor told me that I could go back to work in a month. She later decided after a check-up that I should have 2 months. She also insisted that I do not ride my motorbike for half a year. (Well, she originally said “forever” and I bargained for 6 months, so it’s still a good compromise).

So, here I am on the first day of July, still in a bit of pain but improving. I still couldn’t sneeze but I can already laugh again.

 

Image from: chrystalscreative, http://pixabay.com/en/nurse-woman-person-nursing-medical-359324/

I am a Cat

A poem written by another motorcycle rider entitled “I am a Dog” caught my attention. I felt myself relating to many of his experiences but I also saw how different mine is at the same time. This inspired me to write a little response entitled “I am a Cat.”

I ride a 135 cc Kawasaki Rouser. This is much smaller than what would internationally be considered a big bike and admittedly less powerful. My bike however, is already perceived as “too big for a girl” from where I’m from. I also ride in cities with terrible traffic. Getting to my destination requires some squeezing-through skills. 

Riding is also a very solitary experience for me. With my head inside a helmet, I become aware of nothing but myself looking out into the world. While this situation offers much room for introspection, and affirms in me a sense of speed, power and independence, it at the same time urges me to recognize my own vulnerability on the road amidst huge trucks, faster motorcycles and uneven roads.

I am a Cat.

cat

I am a Cat.
I purr when I ride.
And I ride where I please.

Balance and flexibility
Keep me on the street.
Even when I fall,
I land on my feet.

I can squeeze my way in
And squeeze my way out.
My fur is never a mess
As I roam about.

While a dog is man’s best friend,
From me, you can’t have that loyalty.
Cuteness is my quality
But so is ferocious felinity.

I am a Cat.
I can’t do tricks.
But I can ride.

M&M

Photo source: http://pixabay.com/en/tabby-cat-close-up-portrait-feline-114782/

What keeps you trying?

Except for probably a few people, excellence and success is not something achieved at the first attempt. And, even those who do well in the first few tries still have room for improvement. However, that road towards improvement and excellence can be full of challenges, pains and even failures. These experiences can be very discouraging. What keeps you motivated despite these?

I made a fool of myself in front of 200 people the other day. Being the master of ceremonies of a big event wasn’t easy, especially because I’m a very shy person. I felt very self-conscious when because I knew that people were looking at me. I felt very uncomfortable saying things I knew other people will hear. (Duh, isn’t that the point of talking! Well, that is precisely why I prefer not to talk at all). I made so many mistakes that I think I managed to confuse everyone much more than any of the speakers who used highfalutin terminologies.

Why did I agree to be the master of ceremonies in the first place? It’s as if I didn’t know that I would just end up stammering and trembling while dying in a very shameful way! Okay, that’s exaggerated. I didn’t die. But I did end up stammering and trembling. And because I am still alive, I will still have to face the people who saw me made a fool of myself.

But back to the question I’m asking myself: Why did I agree to do it?

I decided to take the job because I didn’t want to be shy any more. I no longer wanted fear to rule over me. I wanted myself to be the one to define what I can do, rather than just allow what I can do to define me.

Did it work? Well, by actually performing the task, I went beyond the confines of what I thought I could do and was able to act in a way that defied my own fears.

I am still a long way from being a good confident speaker, but I will never get there if I don’t try, and so, I have to keep on trying. I am writing this blog post to remind myself and to tell you, whoever you are reading this blog post, that even after a very negative experience, I am not giving up. I believe that I will look at this blog post  as a more confident person someday and thank myself for not quitting.

Before “someday” happens, I will still probably look at this blog post once in a while when I need some encouragement. Here are some quotes to make sure that I, and any reader who may also need it, find some:

How about you? What keeps you trying? What keeps you from giving up?

M&M

Unhappy Bride; Happy Wife

This is the first time I’m writing about my wedding, which happened about 9 months ago. It’s a topic I’ve never really enjoyed talking about either. Whenever people bring it up, I just smile and say nice things to cover up my ranting and raving heart.

They say most girls have their dream wedding. And when they become women, they try to make that dream real, even just approximately. I have attended weddings of other people and most of these seem really beautiful and lavish–flowers, music, the wedding gown, flower girls, bridesmaids, dresses for the bridesmaids, all the other people in the entourage, great food, etc. People who spend much on weddings often say that it’s more than worth it. For the women I know, it is the fulfilment of their life long dream. They say that it is a priceless experience for the bride to finally enter the church and walk towards her groom waiting for her in front of the altar. I have seen many women do this and they all seem happy.

When this happened to me, I wanted to cry.

You see, I didn’t have a dream wedding. What I had was a vision of how I didn’t want my wedding to be. I disliked flowers and lacy dresses, especially if this had to be white. I hated formalities. I felt uncomfortable when people put make-up on me. I wanted a wedding with none of these. I wanted a wedding where no one had to walk down the aisle. I hoped for a wedding that just went straight to the point without the fuss.

But because people wanted me to be happy on my wedding day, they insisted that there should be flowers. They made me hold that bunch of flowers they called a bouquet. Even my hair had flowers. My friend and my groom’s friend insisted that I walk down the aisle. Despite my pleas, I ended up doing so. That experience was gruelling.  I hated the feeling of being looked upon by everyone in the church. I was the saddest person in that place, but I had to make everyone happy.

Don’t get me wrong. I love my husband, and I have loved him as a boyfriend and as a fiancé. It was the thought of eventually being with him, without anyone else telling me how to be, that kept me from hopping onto my motorcycle to ride away from that whole thing. (Okay, that and the fact that I was in a dress.) The wedding was something I just had to tolerate if I really wanted a life with him.

But it was all more than worth it.

Walking down the aisle towards my groom is nothing compared to charting life’s new paths together with my husband. After all the photos have been uploaded, after all the gifts have been unwrapped, and after all the greetings have subsided, what is left is the ordinary married life of a man and woman. This ordinary life is filled with ordinary days when I find myself waking-up with no make-up on but nevertheless very much accepted. It is also filled with many ordinary nights when no matter how tiring work on that those days are, I am simply filled with the happiness of knowing that the one person who matters to me most is safe with me at home.

What I have learned from all this; however, is that if ever we do have a daughter some day, I should teach her that it is not the “dream wedding” or the “wedding one hopes it won’t be” that should merit all the anticipation and preparation. It just happens for a day. It can turn out well or, as in my case, it can end up being tortuous. After that moment, however, nothing more can be done. On the other hand, it is the marriage that follows after the wedding that continues to demand self-giving while constantly giving new chances everyday. The point is not to make the passing happiness during the wedding the goal, but to make the process of cultivating a married relationship a happy one. After all, it is the marriage that happens “until death do us part.”

M&M

Photo credit to: http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/view-image.php?image=39343&picture=wedding-day-in-red

When the Student Becomes a Classmate

I had a student once. Let’s just call him Max. He used to sit at one far side of the classroom where he often was unnoticed. He  quietness added to his invisibility. I did hear him say some things sometimes but these were usually answers I didn’t expect from my questions. He finished my course though but I’ve already forgotten what grade he got. Well, okay, I really didn’t exactly remember him after he graduated the way I remember some of my outstanding students.

Then, I had a chance to meet him again, this time, as a classmate in a graduate class. We hardly talked though and I just assumed that he probably didn’t like me as a teacher. I, on the other hand, felt some insecurity about being his classmate.

Months of school followed and this class I’m taking with him is turning out to be the most difficult graduate class I have taken. I can barely understand the texts used in the course and I hardly find myself meaningfully contributing anything to the discussion.

There was even a time when even our teacher found herself stuck while we were all attempting to solve a problem. Then Max spoke up, pointed to the board and solved the problem with a very elaborate explanation that came from beyond the bibliography used in the course. I was very impressed.

So, I found a way to talk to Max after class. I asked him how he knew so much. He told me that back in high-school, he wondered why teachers stopped simply at just telling them the basic things. He on the other hand, wanted to know more. So, he taught himself by reading on the topics teacher’s would not discuss anymore. This enabled him to form certain a certain worldview not everyone would probably understand. But he explained things to me better than how I could ever explain them. I asked him if his friends shared his convictions and he told me that he was more or less on his own. I asked him why he chose the more difficult path of finding answers and even thinking differently. His response to this question summed up all that I have forgotten but were once important to me. He said, “Well, school taught me more than knowledge. It formed me to have a sense of concern for others and to seek for social justice. Many of my friends have decided to leave this behind; I just chose to take this commitment seriously.”

My insecurity turned to humble admiration. I realized that I became too preoccupied with wanting to prove myself, and even maintaining a reputation. This caused me to feel insecure about my former student seeing me have a difficult time. And this insecurity enslaved me. But all the while it was I who failed to understand the real reason we were there. Max re-taught me school’s most important lesson. Appreciating how much I can learn from another person rather than wishing to prove that I know more is the point of learning.

Happy Thoughts

I haven’t blogged for quite a few days. I have been feeling unmotivated lately. Maybe this is because the holiday season has ended and we’re back to the ordinary. Maybe it’s because the break is over and I’m back to work. I am indeed beginning to feel the stress and pressures of the many things I have to accomplish this year. On top of all of that, here I am at the dentist’s clinic. Uh.

So, to arm myself for the coming and ongoing emotional battles, I have decided to come up with this list of happiness ammo. In other words, if Maria has her “Favorite Things” in the Sound of Music and Peter Pan has his “Happy Thoughts,” here are mine:

Blue skies

There are times when the world around me seems so overwhelming. Yes, papers, projects, reports, etc. Even my office cubicle can become stifling. Even outside the office, all I see when I look around are busy people, endless streams of cars and gray tall buildings. Eveything conveys limited space and limited time. Hence, the tendency to choose quick over quality, to choose efficiency over affectivity and to go for high rise to the detriment of open spaces.

But then, I look up. And if I’m lucky, I find myself staring at a vast blue sky on a Sunny day. Blue skies remind me that there is more to what is under our noses. I find blues skies reassuring. When the sky is blue, not everything has to be gray.

Beach

I also enjoy the beach. Whenever I feel stressed, remembering the sound of waves rushing towards the shore calms me down. However, I don’t find beach resorts that are crowded and commercialized very attractive. I would prefer a low-profile but unpolluted beach, lacking amenities or even wifi, over a highly advertised resort.

I find the beaches in Bohol particularly memorable because it was in those beaches that I found crystal clear sea water for the first time. Wading just by the shore, I could see starfish of different colors just by looking down.

 

My motorbike

This isn’t me! But I like what I see.

My motorbike is another stress relief. I love feeling the wind blowing against me while I drive. There is a different kind of thrill and freedom riding brings. I must say that riding gives me double happiness. I enjoy the actual ride plus I also find pleasure in the sense of accomplishment of I get when I reach a certain destination.

However, it’s not just the riding I enjoy. I also look forward on weekends when I can clean my bike. I have a friend who finds this weird.  I guess, for some, having to clean your own vehicle is the downside of having a vehicle. Cleaning and washing does take me a lot of time (the whole morning!) but I don’t know why I enjoy doing it.

 

Ice cream

Ice cream makes me happy. During very toxic, depressing or stressful occasions, ice cream always gives me a reason to smile. I enjoy ice cream of all types: soft serve, dirty ice cream (that’s not really dirty), gelato, etc.  However, I don’t long for ice cream all the time. I have a friend who often invites me for ice cream, but I don’t know how to tell him that I don’t enjoy eating ice cream all the time. For me, ice cream is a treat, a special one that’s supposed to be relished occasionally.

Coffee

Unlike ice cream, coffee is something I seek everyday. Imagining the smell of coffee gets me up in the morning. I must admit, though, that I prefer smelling coffee than actually tasting coffee. I’m also still a bit inconsistent regarding coffee. Sometimes, I prefer instant and sometimes I prefer brewed. I am a relatively new coffee drinker. I had my first taste of coffee only after college.

There! Well, there’s nothing exactly profound this time. I’m just sharing my conviction, and also reminding myself, that for everything that can ruin a mood, there are still more than five reasons to smile. I must admit that this blog post is also more out of personal need. Everyone reading this can expect that I’ll be reading and re-reading this blog post all throughout the year. Maybe I made this page precisely to find refuge and encouragement whenever I need one. =)

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