What People Who Have Nothing to Do with Rape Have to Do with Rape

The title of this post is a tongue twister, I know! Well, to simplify, this post is about rape and most people. Most people know that rape is bad. Most people probably have no plans of raping anyone either. Most people, like most of us, are just bystanders. We have nothing to do with heinous crimes like that. Well, think again. As long as we belong to a society where things like these happen, we can do things that can affect other people.

To Intervene or not to Intervene

We often take for granted that bystanders can have a major role to play. The following video I first saw on Upworthy shows scenarios of men trying to pick plastered young women at a bar. People react differently, but see the difference it can make to a person’s life and family.

Standing up can take a lot of courage. In this video, what I find really amazing is the part where people started cooperating with each other after a few women started responding to the scenario.

Blaming the Victim

But more often, we aren’t even there when it happens. Still, even our perceptions play a major role.

I know someone who was raped in her friend’s car. She didn’t want to report the incident to the authorities because she felt that she will subject herself to further shame and judgement if she did so. People will just ask her why she was in the guy’s car in the first place.

This dilemma is very unfair to women. Rape victims are often doubly victimized. And we “bystanders” can play a role in rape victims’ double victimization–victimized by their rapists and by society that often looks negatively upon them. Rape, sex without consent, is never the choice of the person who is without consent. Nothing–looks, behaviour, demeanour, nor clothing–can ever be an excuse for violating someone. I totally agree with this poster:

Click on the picture to see the original post in the Facebook page of
Rape is NEVER the victim’s fault (from Think Progress Visual)

(There are some guys who may say that it’s not their fault that they are tempted either, and I agree. Being tempted isn’t a choice a person makes. However, what a person does regarding the temptation is a decision.)

The overpowered need empowerment. Rape victims are more than what has happened to them. I hope we could have a society that can help them believe in that.

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How to make a table in WordPress without installing any plug-in

The first few times I searched for ways to insert tables into WordPress led me to websites that invited me to download plug-ins. Eventually, I found a way to just copy and paste simple tables I wanted to post on my blog.

Tables Generator makes it possible to just paste a table from Excel or just upload a CSV file and then it will do most of the coding work.

The interface is quite simple
The interface is quite simple

Here is how the copy-and-paste method worked. I’m using data about the Year of the Horse in the Chinese Zodiac, just to be in season.

  1. I copied a table from my spread sheet.
The interface is quite simple
The interface is quite simple
  1. In Tables Generator, I click on the following. (Optional: The table can be edited after it is generated using the available tool bar.)

How_to_Use_Tables_Generator_for_HTML (Copy)

  1. Then, I copied and pasted the generated HTML code into the WordPress Blog Post

Text (Copy)

Paste_in_Text (Copy)

  1. Because the upper portion of the code is CSS, which is not rendered, I first had to delete everything between <style> and </style>. (I had to select “Zero CSS” because the other themes won’t show up anyway.)

Delete (Copy)

That was it! I previewed the table and it looked like this:

Start Date End Date Heavenly Branch
January 25, 2006 February 12, 2007 Fire Horse
February 11, 2018 January 31, 2019 Earth Horse
January 30, 1930 February 16, 1931 Metal Horse
February 15, 1942 February 4, 1943 Water Horse
February 3, 1954 February 23, 1955 Wood Horse
January 21, 1966 February 8, 1967 Fire Horse
February 7, 1978 January 27, 1979 Earth Horse
January 27, 1990 February 14, 1991 Metal Horse
February 12, 2002 January 31, 2003 Water Horse
January 31, 2014 February 18, 2015 Wood Horse
February 17, 2026 February 5, 2027 Fire Horse
February 4, 1938 January 23, 1939 Earth Horse

M&M

Eeny, meeny, miny, moe; one will stay and the other will go

Is there real value in “sentimental value”? Is “improved” the same as “better”?

I am still trying to answer these questions as I try to choose between these two motorbikes:

My Rouser
My Friend’s Rouser

 

Both have the same make: Kawasaki Rouser 135. I am going to keep one and sell the other. Which one should I choose?

I have had my motorbike for almost two years now and I am still generally satisfied with it. I wouldn’t say that it is still in perfect condition because it has already gone through some repairs and minor damages, but riding it nonetheless, is something I always enjoy.

On the other hand, my friend sold me his Kawasaki Rouser 135. The motorbike has hardly been used and is well-maintained. Moreover, it has undergone many major improvements: new carburettor, new muffler, new head lights, etc. The guy who owned it just wanted the motorbike for leisure and enjoyed upgrading it in different ways. He decided to finally sell the motorbike after two years in order to achieve a more total upgrade: buying a 650 cc sports bike.

I think we can sell this motorbike for a good price, but my brother has pointed out that I will stand to gain more if I keep this bike and sell mine instead.

Here are the main differences between the two vehicles:

Year Purchased 2012 2011
Odometer Reading Approx. 10,000 km Approx. 3,000 km
Carburettor Stock Larger carburettor
Muffler Stock Open pipe, carbon fiber
Throttle Stock More sensitive throttle but loose grip
Head lights Stock LED
Spark Plug Stock Iridium
Externals No improvements Has belly pan, front fender has been modified to suit the belly pan
LTO Registration Until 2014 Last registered in 2012
Riding Experience Sufficiently powerful; can even go up a hill on 2nd or 3rd gear. The motor hardly makes noise. More powerful and accelerates more abruptly. Makes a stronger sound.

Which Value?

Both motorbikes are basically the same, but they still have some differences that matter.

On one hand, my motorbike’s parts are all original but I haven’t upgraded it in anyway. This is because I have been generally satisfied with its performance. I also make sure that it is well-maintained.

I also feel a certain attachment towards this motorbike. It is the vehicle I saved up for. I bought it on February 14 and in a sense, fell in love with it on that Valentine’s Day. I fell from it a couple of times too but also reached many different places riding it. But is there real value in sentimental value?

On the other hand, my friend’s motorbike made an impressive entrance into our garage.

That motorbike generally looked similar but it felt and sounded very different. The idling felt more substantial. Reaching higher rpm’s was much easier. And it made its presence really felt on the road. Some of my friends commented  that it sounded really “macho.” I also know that the motorbike has new motorcycle parts that are even more expensive than the stock parts.

Test Drive

More than comparing the parts, I believe that it is more important to consider the whole; and so, I took my friend’s motorbike on a test drive.

Riding it on a clear road early in the morning was fun. However, riding it later on along cars and on roads that demanded some slowing down imposed some difficulty. It was indeed more powerful and as a result, it accelerated more quickly than my motorbike but it also decelerated more abruptly when I let go of the throttle. The loose throttle grip added to the difficulty, but this could probably be easily fixed (if I decide that it’s worth fixing). The sound it made was also rattling.

I must admit that I feel more comfortable riding my own motorbike. I have more sense of control. Besides, I don’t usually prefer to ride at very high speeds. I am a more cautious driver. However, I can’t help second guessing myself. What if it’s just familiarity that makes me prefer my bike for now?

My motorbike was once intimidating, but my determination to ride it enabled me to practice hard until I was more easily able to do so. I know that if I wanted to learn to ride another bike, I could. The problem is, I am still not sure if I do.

M&M

How I Learned to Ride

My cousin asked me to teach her how to ride a motorcycle. I was delighted by her request. For me, it meant that there could be one more woman rider on the road. All I had to do was teach her well.

It turned out that teaching someone else to drive is not an easy task. Yes, seeing her ride around 5 meters at 20 kph already felt like a big achievement. Explaining how to turn the throttle moderately, how to shift gears, where to find the breaks, and other things about riding which I have already learned to do intuitively was very difficult. That experience led me to remember how I myself learned to ride.

And, remembering has evoked in me so much gratitude. I am specifically thankful for three men who have all been part of my sloooooow learning process. They are: my father, my boyfriend, and a friend.

Let me tell you about each one.

My bike was around this size, but I think it was pink. :p
  • My Father

My father doesn’t know how to ride motorcycles. He doesn’t really like them either.

However, it is he who taught me the most fundamental skill I needed in order to ride–balance. He did this by teaching me how to ride a bicycle. I can still remember how he decided to take of the training wheels of my bike even when I felt I wasn’t ready yet. He pushed my bike and let go even when I was afraid. His hands on method forced me to take courage and learn.

  • My Boyfriend

I never thought I would be using my biking skills to ride motorbikes, but my boyfriend had a broader imagination. He learned how to ride a motorcycle and then he taught me. Balancing was not a problem because I already knew how to bike. The challenge was controlling the gas and shifting gears. Because my boyfriend’s motorcycle did not have a clutch, learning to ride it should have been simple enough, but I found it very complicated. I made many mistakes. I fell a couple of times. And I stepped on something wrong more than a couple of times. Nevertheless, I survived and I learned.

My boyfriend even lent me his motorcycle for the practical test I had to take in order to get a licence. That favour and the fact that I passed are two things I am truly grateful for now.

  • A Friend

Time came when I wanted my own motorbike. I eventually found one that I liked and I started saving up for it. However, the bike I was eyeing was bigger than my boyfriend’s bike. It also had a clutch. In short, I was aiming for a bike I didn’t know how to ride yet. People around me were trying to convince me to buy a small scooter instead.

Fortunately, I found a friend who enjoyed challenges. At first, his eyes almost popped out and he did snicker when I asked him to teach me how to ride his bike. No one was really willing to believe that I could do it. Nonetheless, I managed to convince him that he might be able to add being able to teach me to ride among his list of impossible achievements.

It took him a few weeks, but he was finally able to add to that list of impossible achievements. It also took me around the same amount of time to finally prove to myself that other people’s expectations are not the limit of what I could and could not do. Courage had a greater role in determining capacities.

It may not be easy; but it’s possible.

A few months later, I was finally able to buy and ride the bike I was saving up and training hard for.

I’m thankful for the guys who have helped me. I’m also grateful that I took the chance to pedal on even when I was afraid,  the opportunity to learn even when I made mistakes, and the courage to believe in myself when no one else would.

M&M

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. =)

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/ehsank/391299216/”>Ehsan Khakbaz</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/reenita/4892400873/”>Reena Mahtani</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/deathdart/4701566267/”>AbhaySingh</a&gt; via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/happykiddo4ever/5713030981/”>happykiddo [dead]</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/shereen84/2630959986/”>Shereen M</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;

Seven Thieving Techniques and How to Avoid These

It’s the holiday season but amidst all the fun and cheers, there is danger lurking around. There is that constant threat that makes us clutch our bags a little tighter and walk a little faster. It is the painful  unspoken side of receiving a really pleasant gift. It stirs up in us the terrible fear of losing everytime we receive something. I am talking about a seriously dark magic. I am talking about the evil art of thievery. Yes, stealing involves magic: “Now you see it, now you don’t.” This can even be followed by the evil inner laughter of the perpetrator. And, as evidenced by the following theiving techniques, it requires skill and art. The following techniques are modus operandi I and people I personally know actually witnessed or experienced so none of these are made up. All these involve grave moral danger so don’t try these at home all.

credit to http://www.flickr.com/photos/javierarce/4144325882/

 

  • #1 – The Venomous Spit Technique
    • This technique involves someone spitting on you, another person offering help and another person actually taking your stuff. This is practiced by what most call the Dura (“spit”) Gang. Kat (not her real name) became a victim of this. She was just walking along a side walk when someone suddenly spat on her. Eeeeew! Someone then came up to her and offered her help. Distracted, Kat talked to the stranger while she opened her bag to find tissue. After wiping the spit off, Kat realized that her bag was still unzipped and that her laptop was already missing.
    • How to Avoid This: Try not to lose your temper or your head when someone spits on you. Calmly remember where you are. If you’re in an unfamiliar area, don’t open your bag anymore. It would also be better to just carry tissue and other things in your pocket or in your bag’s pocket so that you wouldn’t need to open the main section of your bag every time you need something (change, tissue, alcohol, etc., except valuable, see why in #2).
  • #2 – The Coin Toss Trick
    • Hulog Barya (“Coin Drop”) is another method by which thieves distract their potential victims. This worked on Ann (also not her real name). She told me that the sound of the coins hitting the floor of the LRT station really caught her attention. The coins even bounced a bit and she tried to follow where these went so that maybe she can pick up some. By the time she stood up; however, she noticed that the phone in her pocket was already gone. Someone stole it from her when she bent down.
    • How to Avoid This: Yes, free money can really be appealing but no, there is no such thing so keep your head up. I did mention above that it would be safer to keep things you need in your pocket than in your bag, but this advice does not include valuables because pockets bulge when there are gadgets in them. Pockets do provide quicker access for you, but it also provides quicker access to the thieves around you. One way to prevent your phone from getting stolen is to chain it to your belt or to keep the phone in a small bag pocket (facing you) and avoid bringing it out in public.
  • #3 – The Vanishing into Thin Air Spell
    • This is one of the simplest thieving techniques but it’s probably quite hard to master. It’s also painless during the act of stealing but it surely stings afterward. This technique magically results in something precious to you just vanishing into thin air without you even knowing that it’s gone until you try looking for it. I lost a phone on my birthday, thanks to this technique. A lot of people were greeting me so I had to take my phone out quite often. Towards the end of the day, I couldn’t hear my phone anymore. That’s when I noticed that my bag was open and my phone was already gone.
    • How to Avoid This: Don’t wear backpacks on your back in public places. Yes, you may find other ways of wearing backpacks (like in front or at the side) funny but this is better than losing stuff in your bag. Also, keep your gadgets where other people could not easily see them. You may be already flaunting them without intending to do so. I realized that it was my carelessness that attracted whoever took my phone.
  • #4 – The Dopleganger Chase
    • This is another interesting technique which requires more than two people in order to be successful. Robert (not his real name too) was in a bus when he felt someone steal his wallet from his back pocket. He immediately turned around to see a guy rush away from him and get off the bus. Suspecting that this was the thief, Robert also got off the bus and chased the suspect. Because Robert was muscular and athletic, he was able to catch up with the suspect and grab him by the shoulder. He then asked the guy if he could take a look at his wallet. Robert looked at the man’s wallet and discovered that it wasn’t his. More men came to surround Robert and offer that he take a look at all their wallets. Robert looked at each wallet one by one, but failed to find his. He then left disappointed. It was only when Robert was already on another bus that he realized that he could have gotten into some serious trouble. The men who offered him their wallets were all knew each other and were in cahoots with the one who actually did the stealing. One guy stole Robert’s wallet and passed in onto another guy so that when Robert caught up with him, his wallet was already with someone else. The rest of the people in the group simply brought out wallets they stole from other people while making sure to keep Robert’s.
    • How to Avoid This: Men often prefer to keep their wallets in their backpocket but guys, be careful. Also, Robert’s first reaction was to pursue the man who stole from him but he realized how unwise his reaction was. He ended up getting off the bus in an unfamiliar place with a group of guys who were all in connivance with each other. More often than not, your life is more precious than whatever your wallet contains so be prepared to just let it go when it’s gone.
  • #5 – The Subtle Samurai
    • A sumurai can really slice clean and a blade in the hands of an expert can also do the same to our pockets. I was on a bus once and I didn’t feel anything out of the ordinary. It was only when I got home that I realized that the back pocket of my pants was cleanly slashed. The damage was obviously not accidental because it was very neatly done. Of course, all my pocket contents were already gone by that time. Luckily, by contents, I just mean P20. The same technique can also be used on bags.
    • How to Avoid This: Avoid putting anything in your pocket that will bulge and make it look interesting. Longer tops that can cover the butt area can also be a slight deterrent against this.
  • #6 – The Horror Taxi
    • Camille (another name I’m just arbitrarily using) rode a taxi from work at around 6pm and we found her kilometers away in a very dark street outside her usual route home passed 2am crying. In between 6pm and 2am, three men got into her taxi, and abused and threatened her. They took all her gadgets, all her atm and credit cards, he phone, everything! This happened just last Christmas season. Luckily, despite minor physical injuries, she was able to go home from the hospital after the incident a day later.
    • Seeing a friend go through the painful process of healing from such a trauma was also painful for me, but I am proud of Camille because she has been really fighting to live her life (and commute) normally again.
    • How to Avoid This: As much as possible, don’t ride cabs alone. If you have to, make sure to text the taxi’s plate number to someone you who will be looking for you in case you don’t arrive at your destination on time. Also, taxi’s in the Philippines are also supposed to have their numbers written inside the cabs, on the doors right below the windows. If the taxi doesn’t have this, you can doubt if its legitimate. Sit at the corner of the back seat and not in the middle where you will just leave space between you and both doors. Finally, make sure to lock the door of the taxi and pay attention to where the driver is taking you.
  • #7 – The Boy Who Cries Werewolf
    • My friend, Andrew (fake name), is a big guy who also rides a motorbike. He was desperately craving for a certain kind of ice cream one night so rode to go to a more or less isolated 24-hour convenience store. Along the way, a boy flagged him down. He later told me that he just thought that the boy was just going to ask him for directions. He stopped and the boy suddenly sliced his lower back with an ice-pick. He didn’t feel the wound at first. He just thought he was punched so he reacted by immediately accelerating to leave the place. At the same time, he saw a number of guys coming towards him. He even bumped into a wall was lucky enough not to fall down during his escape. It was only when he was already on the main road that he realized that his shirt was wet because he was bleeding so he drove himself to the hospital
    • How to Avoid This: Don’t trust just anyone who looks cute and innocent. Try to stick to main roads when driving at night. Oh, and just look for that special kind of ice cream at another time if you can.

The tips I shared about how being a victim of these modus operandi can be avoided are unfortunately no guarantees. If we want a substantially more secure life, we would have to go beyond just personal precautions (without, of course, undermining the importance of these). From a bigger perspective, crimes are symptoms of grave social ills. Our reality is marked by poverty and loss of values. We live in a world where it’s becoming even more and more difficult for us to trust one another. It is from this depressing horizon that I think about January 1, 2013. The end of each year and the beginning of a new one presents me with a choice between despair and hope. And I choose hope. I choose to keep longing and working for a transformed world where smiles don’t have to be second guessed and where gifts are shared, not stolen. Who’s with me?

Rediscovering Podiobooks

I went on a four day trip to a province where there was no wifi, and I did my best to go prepared. Nope, I didn’t ride my motorbike this time. My friends and I rode a bus and then a jeepney for around 14 hours, one way. Hence, I made sure to find a way to arm myself against possible boredom in the vehicles. I did this by downloading audio books from Podiobooks: Free Audio Books in Serialized Form which I was able to play in my android phone (using MortPlayer.)

To be honest, the Podiobooks website was something I forgot about for some time even if I had an account there once. I had to search for it again just a few days ago when I realized that I needed some audio books. (Yes, I knew about Librivox, but I was in the mood for more contemporary books rather than the classics found in their website, which focuses on books found in the public domain.) When my browser brought me to the Podiobooks website, I could hardly recognize it. I even doubted whether that was the website I was looking for. So, I explored around until I found some books that were familiar to me which somehow indicated that I had been to the site before.

In an attempt to verify whether it was really the website I had an account on, I clicked on “Account” and landed on their blog which had a post that said, “What happened to my login?”  The post explained the reason for the new interface and why people (including myself) didn’t need their accounts anymore:

A longer versions is this: We were hacked. Hard. That’s why we were down for 2.5 days. But in reality, we’d been fighting this hack for the better part of a year. No, I’m not kidding.

However, it wasn’t that they were hacked that caught my attention; it’s the way they tried to bounce back:

So please, before you send Evo hate mail, give the new site a shot. It’s designed to be simpler than it was before. Also remember that we’re not finished, and updates are happening multiple times a day.

In my opinion, after I’ve explored the site a bit more, Podiobooks has indeed bounced back and has improved much compared to the last time I saw it. Yes, it’s different, but their new UI is now more intuitive and aesthetic. On top this, I admire the attitude of the people behind the site.

I’m really glad I rediscovered Podiobooks. I finished listening to Christiana Ellis‘ Space Casey, which was very witty and am now in episode 7 of Philippa Ballantine‘s Chasing the Bard. Both have really great sound effects. The voices are also all in character so there’s hardly a dull moment.

photo credit: Cia de Foto via photopin cc

I just hope Podiobooks will release more and even better books. Right now, I feel that there could be more choices. Also, the “like” or “thumbs up” I found for their books have only gone up to around 700+ so far (Shadowmagic by John Lenahan). The rest seem to range from 0 to 500. Because of this, it’s still not very easy to tell which books are really good. Many are also still very new. At least all the chapters of the books can be previewed (by listening) online.

Nevertheless, Podiobooks is now on my list of favorite websites (okay, I don’t have a written list yet but it’s in my head). Even if I’m still listening to Chasing the Bard, I already look forward to downloading other books.

I Confess…

I have a confession to make. I was very careless on the road today. Yes, I know, it’s Christmas so we all should be caring and nice, but my boyfriend and I had a misunderstanding that caused me to be very emotional on the road.

Before we left for our destination, I noticed that it was unusually overcast. It was mostly sunny the whole week but it seemed like it was going to rain. I told him that I didn’t have my rain coat. Because we were in a hurry to fetch her sister, he simply told me, “Bahala ka!” (“That’s up to you” or “that’s your concern.”) His retort made me feel quite upset because it seemed to give me the impression that he didn’t care about whether or not I get wet when it rains.

To make matters worse, he left in such a hurry and left me. I drove quickly but failed to catch up with him and so I decided to wait in a gas station near the LRT Santolan Station where he told me we would fetch his sister, and then I called him up from there. After five missed calls and more panicking because it seemed like it was about to rain, my boyfriend finally answered my call and told me that he and his sister were already in Sumulong Highway on the way to Antipolo. This call was very choppy and the sound of the other vehicles was drowning our voices. I was barely able to discern a few words from him. “left LRT Station,” “after the U-Turn”, “Sumulong waiting for you.” I understood this as: “We already left the LRT Station and proceeded until after a U-turn where you can still follow to Sumulong. We are waiting for you.” Even more upset… Already furious, I set off to catch up with him where he was waiting for me somewhere after a U-turn so that when I find him I can punch him scream and cry.

The view from Sumulong Highway is breathtaking, but falling off it will literally take your breath away.
(Credit to whotalking.com)

I was already along Sumulong highway coming from Marcos Highway when I realized that I already made it there without making any U-turns. I made a stop to call him but he wasn’t answering his phone. I was enraged beyond anything. I sped up Sumulong highway and overtook some cars. Somehow, I ended up riding beside an SUV whose driver obviously didn’t want me beside him or her. I knew I was at fault because I was already occupying a double yellow lane beside the vehicle but I couldn’t overtake at once because there was another car in front of us. The driver of the SUV made efforts not to let me get ahead. I overtook through the right (which is also wrong) and the driver of the SUV also overtook me from my left. This made me even more furious. I felt that I could accelerate faster and overtake the SUV again, but then, in that split-second between reason and rage, sound reason suddenly overtook me. I began to realize that I was behaving very dangerously. I was taking my anger out on someone else on the road. Worse, that someone else happened to be a driver of a much bigger vehicle and that road was Sumulong Highway which twists and turns along a mountain side–we’re talking about blind spots, trucks coming down from uphill, a really fatal ravine on the right. Also, I had to realize that I was the one who was out of place. I was the one who provoked the driver with my careless driving in the first place.

So, I decided to just let the SUV driver go ahead. I forced myself to calm down and ride at a more reasonable speed. I reached Antipolo safely.

And then, there was this tricycle. I knew I could fit right beside it and so I tried. Unfortunately, the driver suddenly moved a bit closer towards me blocking my way. Since the paved road was around 4 to 5 inches higher than the soil beside it, I thought it better to hit the breaks than to proceed further to the side and risk falling off sideways. When I hit the breaks; however, I slowed down and reacted by putting my foot down to keep my balance. My foot landed on the lower-leveled soil beside the road and so I failed to keep the bike in balance. My motorbike fell (luckily, on the soil which caused less damage compared to what pavement could do). I was fortunate enough to have the presence of mind to stand up and not fall with my bike.

I stared at my fallen bike for few seconds. Gathered my wits, removed my helmet and tried to think of a way to lift it up. Because I’m a girl who weighs less than 50 kg and my bike’s dry weight is 122 kg., I didn’t know if I could actually lift my bike up. Fortunately, in a few moments, some guys who witnessed the fall, came and helped me.

I was still inspecting my bike for damages when my boyfriend arrived. It turned out that he was the one trying to catch up with me, while all the while, I thought that he was the one who was way ahead of me. He had a look of concern written all over his face. I was just plain angry.

He convoyed me to our destination and then we talked. Our conversation led me to realize that he wasn’t being insensitive; we just had a massive miscommunication.

He told me that, while the original plan was to fetch her sister at the LRT Santolan station, he later informed me that the meet up point was changed to LRT Katipunan station instead. I was waiting for him in Santolan while from his perspective, I left him behind at Katipunan. On the phone, he told me that he was waiting for me right after the “right turn” to Sumulong, while I heard “U-turn.” He waited for me in Sumulong and even tried to flag me down when I drove by but I failed to see him. He was driving and rushing to catch up with me when he suddenly saw me at the side of the street after my minor accident.

The experience has taught me that communication is indeed very crucial in any relationship. Moreover, aside from this lesson I learned about love, I also learned important lessons about riding. These are not entirely new to anyone. I have also considered these to be common sense, but it took me quite an eventful ride to realize how serious these lessons are. I’m stating these here for myself so that I can avoid driving carelessly again and so that I might also offer some helpful tips to anyone else who might come across this resolution.

I have learned to ride with CARE.

C – Clothes that Protect

Often, many riders, including myself, find such protective stuff to be a hassle. We hardly find it useful anyway (in the sense that it only gets to be used when there’s an accident and we don’t have accidents everyday). But just one accident can make a lot of difference. I guess wearing protective gear and clothing for that one time should be worth it. I was even debating with myself whether to wear my boots (bought at Cubao Expo) and I’m grateful that I did. I just noticed that my boots now have scratches from my bike’s fall. Had I not worn them, I could have gotten hurt. I was wearing a protective jacket but I had no protection on my knees. I should invest on some knee and elbow pads for long rides. I should have also brought my raincoat. Come on, the weather is never really plain and predictable. The fear of getting drenched added to the pressure I was already facing.

A – Accident Anticipation

This may seem weird, common sense seems to say that accidents ought to be avoided, not anticipated. Well, my next two point are about avoiding accidents but this one expresses my opinion that it would do us some could if accidents can also be anticipated. I believe that being prepared for an accident is also important so that damage may be minimized should it inevitable occur. For example, I truly thank my friends who gave me some advice years ago and my past experience of another fall (when my muffler burned my leg), because I think these taught me to try to stand instead of fall with the bike. Of course, there is no guarantee that I would be able to stand every time, but knowing how to react can minimize my probability of falling.

I also saw videos of how women can prop up fallen bikes so I know there’s a technique that can be done even by women with bigger bikes, but I have never practiced this. Maybe I should make the effort to learn this skill more seriously. Um, I still don’t know how to develop this without practicing on my bike and damaging it in the process though.

R  Route Planning

A lot of risk (and heartache) would have been avoided if my boyfriend and I planned our route more seriously. We could have done this by agreeing about who goes first during our ride. We also could have determined default meet up points along the way should we lose site of one another. Relying on the mobile phone was really difficult because we couldn’t text or answer calls while driving and because the connectivity is not always assured. I was lucky because our ride was short and the road was already familiar to me, but we still got into trouble.

E- Emotion Management

I admit that I let my feelings overwhelm me and my experience, especially with the SUV, led me to realize that this is really very dangerous. One wrong split-second decision on a motorbike can mean a lifetime of consequences. I noticed that I became more imprudently gutsy because I was angry. I let my anger affect the way I made judgments and behaved on the road. I really regret the way I provoked that SUV driver and I consider myself lucky that I’m still alive right now, reflecting on my mistakes. Next time, I would prefer to make a stopover to calm down and gather my wits (and maybe even sing, My Favorite Things from the Sound of Music.) To the adage, “Don’t drink and drive,” I should add “and don’t get mad at your boyfriend and drive, either.” It even turned out that I was extremely angry over some wrong impressions that could have been easily corrected.

There! I think riding with CARE is applicable even for other drivers, but it is especially crucial for motorbike riders. The motorcycle is admitably less stable and more vulnerable compared to other vehicles. Aside from this physical consideration, many drivers also do not exactly have positive feelings regarding motorcycle drivers in general, so we have to be extra careful. An unnecessary fight (that is, one that is fought without principle) that is avoided is better than an unnecessary fight won; and, and accident avoided is better than an accident survived.

So, to my fellow riders out there, ride with CARE and love with more understanding! Merry Christmas!

M&M