BYE HULU, HELLO VEOH

A year ago, when I was trying to figure out how to watch streaming tv on my Asus EEE, someone clued me in on Hulu.com.  After getting all excited about it, I realized that it only caters to US IP addresses.  So the same someone pointed me towards a workaround free app that redirects/masks one’s Asian IP to make it appear one is viewing from the US – Hotspot Shield. I’ve also successfully used Hotspot Shield with Pandora, to listen to music in genre channels tailored to my interests/preferences.  Pandora used to be available to Asia, but then again, bandwidth and piracy issues led to regional restrictions. 

Cathy and I were discussing Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall‘s River Cottage series on the BBC.  It’s shown here on cable, on the Asian Food Channel, but I don’t think Canadian channels reach North Carolina, and neither does BBC 4, where River Cottage was first aired.  Occasionally I have resorted to what I now call the Swedish solution in order to watch some shows I truly enjoy, but I don’t think Cathy may agree to that, and she did say she tries to avoid techno hell.

Enter Veoh.com.  I found the “Christmas at River Cottage” episode there.  If you’re not signed up, and you haven’t downloaded the beta player, you can view a five-minute preview of what is essentially a 30-minute episode.  I’ve tried the beta player, and given our dsl speed, I get to watch the whole 30 minutes continuously, with less buffer time than at Hulu.  Video quality also better.  Did I mention it’s FREE?  If you’ve signed up you can upload your own videos.  Well, I just want to watch for the meantime, perfect for a girl who doesn’t have a tv in her room, only a 19″ Samsung flatscreen monitor. 

http://www.veoh.com/static/swf/webplayer/WebPlayer.swf?version=AFrontend.5.4.2.20.1002&permalinkId=v304682JmJPz5Xq&player=videodetailsembedded&videoAutoPlay=0&id=21684752
Watch Christmas At the River Cottage in Lifestyle  |  View More Free Videos Online at Veoh.com

OPEN DOORS

The Philippine Daily Inquirer taught me something new today – the Philippines gave visas to Jews escaping Nazi Germany in WWII.  Read about it here.  Kudos to our Filipino artist, Junyee, whose monument at the Holocaust Memorial Park in Tel Aviv I take my blog title from.

Here’s the story of Ralph Preiss, who spent a part of his childhood in wartime Manila, by PDI’s Volt Contreras.

When we were in college they never taught us this in Philippine History.  Or maybe they did, we just didn’t remember.  Schindler’s List wasn’t a movie yet, so our consciousness of the Holocaust was limited to the diary of Anne Frank.

The lesson here is one of compassion – something everyone around the world is in need of these days, since we seem to be not at war with other nations, but with concepts.  “War Against Terror.” “War Against Global Warming.” “War Against Poverty.”  “War Against Greed and Corruption.” I guess they make good sound bites, but it’s difficult to wrap one’s head around it.  The question of “when will it ever end?” worries us all.

The Open Door Policy was a good move on President Quezon’s part.  Times were simpler then, and it was easier to do things right in the name of humanity, that now seem pretty heroic in scale.

It’s hard to feel compassion when you’re faced with an abstract concept.  It’s easier when you think about fellow human beings, one at a time. To learn more, you might enjoy reading An Open Heart:  Practicing Compassion in Everyday Life by one of my personal heroes, the Dalai Lama.  No, I’m not Buddhist, but there are things to learn from every major belief system if you also try to keep an open mind.

FLAVORS OF HAPPINESS

AH1N1 virus just hit the Senate. Typhoon Feria just smashed through Bicol. Iranian pro-reform protesters were getting shot on Tehran streets. North Korea threatens to launch nuclear weapons against the US.  Perez Hilton called will.i.am a faggot, and made a stupid ass of himself.  My friends are getting addicted to Facebook games and quizzes.  The day… well, the day was just too glum.

Then Tristan arrives and announces that he and Joy were having lunch in Amici.  Would I like to join?  For someone who’s been snacking almost daily on cheese this past week I couldn’t say no.  Normally Amici (Megamall Atrium) fills up easily, but classes were suspended today and it was a slow retail midweek.  Tristan had a “Salsiccia” or Italian sausage panini while Joy and I shared a cheese and spinach cannelloni and a “Polpete” (meatballs) dish.  Excellent comfort food.

We were seated next to the gelato counter.  Normally my top choices would be Nocciola (hazelnuts), Gianduja (chocolate hazelnut), mint chocolate.  This time I wanted to try something different, because the strawberry gelato (with lots of real frozen strawberries!) was looking mighty fine.  Tristan picked the mint chocolate, and Joy picked the blueberry.

I am physically and emotionally soothed by ice cream.  “Why do dairy products have that lovely anesthetic effect on me?” What an exquisite strawberry gelato it was!  It was sweet, but creamy and subtle, with hints of tartness in the frozen fruit.  Joy was making little humming sounds over her blueberry.  “There’s a light floral aftertaste in the back of the tongue,” she said, “it tastes like I’m in a garden…”

“It tastes like summer,” I declared, “like… happiness.”  Tristan, enjoying the mint chocolate, said, “It’s like getting Andes chocolates for Christmas!  Happiness!”

Next time I’m having the Mango Jubilee, first recommended to me by Hector.  Joy wants to try something highly unlikely, the Pineapple.  Tristan, well, it depends on his mood.

We were waxing rhapsodic about the gelato, but when Joy said, “Where can you get something like this for just PhP50!” the two women at the next table started eyeing the counter.  As we left their eyes were shining with anticipation.

“Fate cannot harm us, for we have dined well today,” quoth a famous pundit.  Take that, bad news.

MAKING BOOKS

I used to think that one day I’d write a book.  Somehow I never made the jump into longer narrative fiction, as I woke up one day complaining of how work killed my creativity.  I still haven’t written a publication-worthy poem since I left Australia, but I did wake up another day to realize that creativity extended to what I could make with my hands.

You all know about the knitting and how it forced me to use Math.  I’d say that’s karma, since I chose a college course on the basis of what I did well and how few Math subjects were required, haha.

Now I’m binding books by hand, after taking a course with paper artist Loreto Apilado last May.  I always thought Moleskines were the kind of thing I’d never leave home without.  In the pre-Moleskine days I lugged around a Philamlife black diary, in which I wrote, colored and pasted everything that made life more interesting.  I didn’t know that would be called journaling and collecting ephemera today.  The black diary had really bad paper, although a Pilot 55 with a Japanese fine nib worked well on it.  I kept nine years’ worth of journaling in them, enough to fill a small baul (a mother-of-pearl inlaid chest my mother gave me when I turned 18).

My particular favorites were the Toyo Rock Drill engineers’ notebooks that my dad brought home from Japan.  Not only did they have the best paper, they also LAY FLAT when opened.  There was a major section with unlined paper and a smaller section in the back with grid-lined paper.  The pages were smooth and somewhat coated, perfect for fountain pens, without bleedthrough or feathering.

I kept thinking of this when I learned to make books.  Moleskines are ridiculously priced, and the paper quality is uneven.  If the only pen I can use on it is a Lamy with an extra fine nib, that would mean my other pens would go relatively unused!  I did go around and tested different brands of papers, and found some that fit my requirements:  smooth, no feathering with a wet medium nib, no bleedthrough.  Since I do support a number of fundraising projects, I thought my blank journals would make a good charity bazaar item.  They make splendid gifts people would actually use (well, if given to the people who appreciate these things).

So this month, after scouting around and accumulating materials, I was finally able to make two hardcover blank books with ribbon markers, one each for my good friends Jenny and TAO.  It’s good that I hadn’t forgotten how to make the books since May.  I tried as much as possible to make them look neat but they do retain hallmarks of the handmade (the deckle edges remain untrimmed, there are a few non-obvious glue bubbles that bug me, etc.).  The very first book I made, the product of the workshop, is now being used as an “ideas” journal for my knitting and binding.

May and Reg’s books are next up for production.  May made me a gorgeous silky pen wrap and I’m making her a book in exchange. Reg’s is a belated birthday gift. I’m also raffling off a couple of journals at the FPN-P Anniversary Pen Meet in July.  Then I’ll maybe try exposed-spine binding.  Ambitious, but when I get it done, you’ll know.  This year is full of creative opportunities.

SOAPY CHEESY CATFIGHT FUN

This is for all those who remember the 80’s, when iconic soaps ruled tv primetime programming.  Who could forget the uberglam Krystle vs. Alexis catfight on Dynasty

It was so iconic that it was hilariously referenced a couple of decades later by the Minogue sisters Kylie and Dannii on The Kylie Show:

This blog entry won’t be complete without a vintage Pinoy-style comedy catfight where megastar Sharon Cuneta (still a teener) defends her long-suffering mom Susan Roces from “a couple of annoying bitches”:

Sharon grows up, to figure in a 1992 catfight where the deliciously “butangera” (“fishwife”) Bing Loyzaga accuses her of stealing her man.  The movie, Tayong Dalawa, nods to both Dynasty and Fatal Attraction at once!