Sunday, June 28, 2009

Vignettes Of Life In A Busy Intersection (Cont.)

The Taho Vendor

Shouting out in baritone key as he passes along, this itinerant vendor makes his rounds in our busy intersection during mornings on the weekend. Above the din and when carefully cocking one’s ears in his direction, people can actually make out his shouts of taho!, the snack food product he is hawking.

Slung on one shoulder is a pole typically made of resilient bamboo where two stainless-steel deep and large-mouthed containers are balanced at its ends. One can contains the taho itself and the other the ingredients needed to complete this soupish snack food.

But what is taho?

Classified as one popular street food:
Tahô is a Philippine snack food made of fresh soft/silken tofu, arnibal (brown sugar and vanilla syrup), and pearl sago (similar to pearl tapioca).[2] This staple comfort food is a signature sweet and can be found all over the country. The Indonesian and Malaysian equivalent of this dish is Tahu.[3]

And tofu?
Tofu (豆腐), also tōfu (the Japanese Romaji spelling), doufu (the Chinese Pinyin spelling), toufu, or bean curd (the literal translation), is a food of Chinese origin,[1] made by coagulating soy milk, and then pressing the resulting curds into blocks. There are many different varieties of tofu, including fresh tofu and tofu that has been processed in some way. Tofu has very little flavor or smell on its own, so it can be used either in savory or sweet dishes, and is often seasoned or marinated to suit thedish.

This particular morning, the next door neighbors answered the sonorous vendor’s pleas and asked for two orders. One order is for 10 pesos, served in a smallish plastic cup.

The vendor settles his burden on the side of the street and opens both containers. With a scraper, he gently shaves small thin slices of the taho and layers them in the cup, adds the other ingredients and tops it off with a little pour of condensed milk from an opened can.

After repeating the routine and having received his payment, the pole balancing act is ready to hit the road, preceded by his baritone shouts.

BTW, our little conversation yielded the following snippet: that he himself does not prepare the stuff but is simply consigned to him by the maker. Too much time and trouble in the preparation, he reasoned out.


Friday, June 26, 2009

Vignettes Of Life In A Busy Intersection (Cont.)

Motorbike As Family Sedan

In this land of million-peso four-wheeled cars (and I do mean your typical Toyotas, Hyundais, Nissans, Kias, Suzukis, etc) which is affordability beyond the reach of your average Filipino family, the notion of the family sedan most times taxes and stretches one’s ordinary perception or definition of what it is or should be.

In this country it can be anything with wheels, transport that rolls and moves by its own power. With four wheels or even less, like just two.

In this same busy intersection a most unique type of family sedan is on parade daily, sharing traffic with the bigger and heftier transports like jeepneys and SUVs. They are motorbikes with 2, 3, 4, or even 5 family members sitting astride, machines rated as single cylinder engines of 100cc or 125cc; most passengers riding bare-headed, sans helmet, passenger restraint, or any head protection.

The economic logic behind these choices is quite iron-clad and unquestionable. Bikes of such sizes are within the 40-50,000 peso price range, an outlay many straggling families could well afford if only through an installment plan. Definitely much more below wistful thinking about buying a brand-new four-wheel vehicle.

Here’s a pictorial sampling of the family sedan, local version, seen in busy intersections, and even amidst fast-moving traffic on multi-laned national highways where passenger perils are grossly multiplied and aggravated.

To be continued.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Vignettes Of Life In A Busy Intersection

The north-south main city thoroughfare originates from the pier area, cuts through the busy poblacion area, and winds down south and merges with the ramp leading to the city’s newest concrete bridge. Across the river and beyond one is brought either to the old western part of the city, or further up in elevation to the newly-developed upscale uptown where many modern subdivisions have sprouted.

The east-west crossing street passes through the city’s busiest marketplace area, through the biggest Jesuit university this side of the big island and ends at the other end skirting another old school run by nuns. This arterial is the official route for public utility vehicles bound for the western part of the city, crossing over the oldest steel bridge of the city.

Imagine then the craziness and chaos that daily visit this benighted intersection, old and two-lane narrow and peppered with indiscriminate parking on both sides of the street. And of course, the otherworldly traffic behavior of both motorists and pedestrians.

But daily its pulsating and chaotic pace goes unsupervised, unmindfully moving countless vehicles and unfazed people to their appointed destination. Solicitous mothers with uniformed children in tow. Rowdy clusters of students out of school, some bound for home and waiting for their rides, others simply sauntering about enjoying their friends’ company. Office workers labeled by their nicely-tailored office attire (suits for ladies and polo barong for gentlemen) gingerly making their way through the mess. And a bunch of permanent fixtures like watch-your-car boys or itinerant vendors forming part of the landscape. And scores of other players that daily find themselves with roles in the many interesting vignettes of life in this busy intersection. Like the many assorted business establishments with their employees lining both sides of both streets.

The Naked Man

A daily spectacle, for its unavoidability factor, is the unnerving sight of this buang, vernacular for crazy guy. Who on regular occasions strips himself butt naked and unashamedly walks around surveying his domain, that is, the busy intersection he has decided to call home. He literally lives off the street, sleeping and functioning in that environment, feeding himself from scraps in garbage heaps, and never straying far from this intersection. And the weirdest part is that he never accepts voluntary offers of food and clothing from passersby and residents. He would rather forage and scavenge. In a recent foray, police authorities had carted him off in their lorry. But a few days later he was back on his beat, none the worse, or should I say none the better.

The story is that once this was a lucid man unfortunately hooked on the local drug called shabu. An overdose may have likely brought him to this stage. He has not acted violent, unless threatened or talked down. So people simply leave him be. Ladies and small children simply turn their gazes away from him especially during his bare days. And on occasion unruly or uncouth men riders or passersby shout teases at him, impishly sneering while doing so.

But one can see that amidst all these, this man lost in his own world does not mind.

To be continued.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

A Laptop Running on AA Batteries

…….and costing under $200. And maybe as low as $135 if acquired bare-bones.

Such could describe the newly-introduced Gecko EduBook produced by Norhtec.

Bundled like a regular small laptop with an 8.9 inch screen configured at resolution of 1024x600, it runs on 8 rechargeable (NiMH) batteries that can be recharged while installed inside the notebook. Using a regular power cord without the heavy adaptor appendage.

Its core chip module with the CPU and RAM, called the Xcore86, another product of NorhTec, is the size of a typical full-featured cell phone. Updating the unit simply requires removing and changing the module.

It operates quietly without any whirring fan. It has instead a heat sink to dissipate heat generated.

Features include the following:
CPU 1GHz Xcore86 Device on Chip™
Graphics Integrated Graphics Chip
Memory 256MB / 512MB / 1GB DDR2
Display 8.9" WSVGA 1024 x 600 resolution TFT LCD screen with LED backlight
HDD SD Card or IDE Flash Disk
Audio Line-out, Mic-in, Internal Mic, Internal stereo speakers
Ethernet Built in 10/100 Base-T
USB 2.0 ports External : 3 ports, Inernal : 1 port (reserved for WIFI, GPRS,
CDMA, 3G or 3.5G USB dongles)
I/O D-sub 15 pin VGA out, integrated SD card reader, touch pad
Power / Battery Rechargeable AA Battery - NiMH 8 pcs (4 hours max) or Li+3S (4 hours max) or Li+3S2P (6 hours max)
AC 100V-240V (no external adapter)

As seen here even amidst all the negative repercussions of a very deep global recession, we still see fearless innovation in the forefront. Creative minds continue to look for products that are not only cheaper, but adaptive to changing consumer needs.

Lately, I have shifted my usage to rechargeable batteries – for my digital cameras, flashlights, and other consumer electronic products requiring batteries. In the long run, one saves quite a lot adopting the change.

While initially the change will involve additional outlay, in the long run it will redound to considerable savings. A pair of AA rechargeable batteries will cost over 300 pesos compared to about a 100 pesos for standard batteries. A dependable Made In China battery charger will cost an additional 125 pesos. Suggest you get an extra charger for convenience.

Now both standard and rechargeable batteries last almost the same time as tests have proved. But guess what happens next?

Dead standard batteries are thrown away, but rechargeable batteries come back again, and again, and again, etc., fully charged and good as new.

Bye, Bye, Birdie

In the morn of June 15th, Monday, as I hustled up the dizzying spiral staircase for my daily visitation to the roof deck, what greeted me left me with some deep loss and longing for two feathered cuties which had for the past three weeks tugged at the brittle strings of my jaded and cynical self.

An empty nest stared back at me, this time riddled with a horde of tiny black ants feasting on the former occupants’ unconsumed food and dried-up droppings. A shiny little egg sat solitarily in the middle of the chaotic frenzy, looking like the dud that it probably was and simply left behind by the laying bird.

So in summary, in the short span of less than 3 weeks, eggs were hatched and the issues developed sufficiently enough within that time frame to fly from the coop and be on their own.

Comparatively, humans take what seems like a lifetime to develop sufficiently enough to be able to live independently - without their parents’ assistance.

A little lesson of life learned.

Then in an ironic twist my regular Internet incursions accidentally brought me to this YouTube item:

A dead gecko attacked by a rampaging horde of ants reducing the carcass to a skeleton, using time-lapse camera.

Another little lesson learned, this time in the cycle of life.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

What A Difference Four Days Make

Four days have elapsed and my feathered friends have grown in leaps and bounds. But still confined to their very cramped quarters, unable to stretch their long legs or flap their fast-growing wings. Definitely the fastest developing parts of their young bodies. To make do, they have had to twist and curl around the tiny space, or hang upside down, or tumble around contorting their feathered bodies.

But one cannot help exhibiting sustained interest and excitement watching how these two have shown tremendous physical improvements over these last three weeks.

Like watching creation sped fast forward.

I have now taken to gingerly patting their heads with a finger and feeding them crushed toasted bread.

I expect any day now these fledglings will be airborne and bound for soaring heights to join their kind. A dream any aspiring human will hanker for.

And that will be the last of them.

I continue to take pleasure in enjoying this first time experience.

Here are the last four days in pictures.

June 10th Wednesday

June 11th Thursday

June 12th Friday

June 13th Saturday

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Ready To Fly The Coop?

Exactly two weeks from today, look how quickly our little birdies have developed into. Like they are almost ready to fly the coop. And it better be, since that little cozy nest has become too cramped for comfort.

Have not seen any traces of mama Maya during my regular visits, but I know she has been a doting parent. And looks like she is resigned to my incursions into her privacy and that of her brood.

The hatchlings are beginning to take on the shape and colors of the bird that they will eventually become. The once national bird of the islands now estranged from its traditional domicile and consigned to adapting to constrictive urban living.

Not much different to where the species Homo sapiens appears to be half-mindedly heading to?

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Week Old Today

They are exactly a week old today, counting from the time I saw them hatched in their nest.