10.31.2009

10.25.2009

To Mac or Not to Mac


This is probably my most overused photo but I'm probably never going to get tired of it. It was taken in Tamagawa Weekly mansion two years ago when I was here on a business trip and I relegated myself to a dinner of canned goods for the entire month so I can get myself a Macbook. To be fair, at the start of that year, I told myself I'm going to get one even if I had no idea how the hell I'd be able to save up for it but the universe somehow made it happen.

Anyway, so the new Macbook was released a couple of days ago. Seems like a good time to switch.
My two cents:
#Disclaimer: I am by no means an expert. If you want the whole comprehensive comparisons there are a billion tech blogs out there with benchmark tests and all that. This is just what I normally tell people when they ask me about it.

1. Snow Leopard or Windows XP/Vista/7?
My honest answer is I don't know. I mean, I would answer Mac in a heartbeat but I'm not sure it's for everybody.

What I love about my Mac:
- Virus free. Although I'm open to the fact that eventually there may be one. But for now, I don't see the point of wasting processing power on antivirus software.
- It's stable. I've had my Mac for two years and I've only ever had two kernel panics. And even then, all I had to do was reboot, and then it's solved. My PC crashed on me more times than I could count and on a couple of those I had to reformat which means everything that was ever in there is now gone.
- Virtually no set-up. When you get your Mac, you press the power button, and it plays a welcome video, and after a few clicks, you're done. No drivers, additional installation, and all that stress.
- It's Unix-based. This enables me to... ermm... do a couple of tweaks.

Why you should stick to Windows:
- You love Windows. If you find that it works for you then stick to it. If it doesn't stress you out, why switch? Don't go buy a Mac and then complain that it isn't Windows. I found people's reactions towards Macs tend to be polar - they either love it or hate it. So if you find that you hate it then for chrissake don't switch.
- You like upgrading your hardware and all that jazz. Difficult to do with a Mac. Although maybe if you get a Mac Pro...
- You're a hard-core gamer. A lot of games do not have versions for Mac.
- You tend to have a steep learning curve when it comes to new OS and you're using it for work. I found migrating to Mac pretty easy, but I'm not sure if that applies to most people. So it might be frustrating for some.

2. Macbook vs. Macbook Pro
Again, I don't know. But I can tell you that now is the *worst* time to get a Macbook Pro. If you compare them side by side, the Macbook has the same tech specs as the Macbook Pro 13-inch plus a higher storage capacity. So I'm pretty sure that the Pro is going to get a sweet little hardware bump sometime soon.

Why I'm getting a Macbook:
- It's white. Yes it attracts a lot of dirt, but I've had my Macbook for two years and guess what? It's still white. And it's not like I covered it in plastic wrap or was totally anal about it. OK, so maybe at first I was, but I find that Macbooks are like cadavers - at first it's unthinkable, but after some time you find it tolerable to eat in front of them (I'm no med student but I'm told it's like that). And I don't use keyboard covers either, or any of those fancy protectors. Waste of money. All you really need is microfiber cloth and a magic eraser which are all readily available in the 100 yen shop.
- Specs are as good as the Macbook Pro specs. At least for now.

Why you should get a Macbook Pro:
- You use Firewire. I have never in my life used Firewire so I don't really mourn the loss of the Firewire port in the Macbook. But if you do, get the Pro instead *after* it gets the hardware bump.
- You need the SD card reader. I don't. To transfer photos I use the USB cable attached to my camera. And if ever I need to transfer some other thing I have an SD card USB attachment thing which I've used only once or twice ever since I bought it, and that was to copy stuff from a CF card. So no, I don't need an SD card reader. But, if you think it's really handy, then by all means go Pro.
- You had a white Macbook previously and it turned brown. I can't quite fathom how Macbooks turn brown but it has happened for some people so if you're one of those, maybe the more stain-resistant non-white model would be better.
- Display quality is a big deal. The Macbook Pro supposedly has a 60% higher color gamut. If that matters to you, then maybe it's worth splurging 200 dollars more.

3. Magic Mouse vs. other mice
The Magic Mouse is pretty, shiny, and is just incredibly cool. It is also non-ergonomic. So, if your hand is on your computer mouse more than 50% of the time, like gamers and graphic artists maybe, I think you should stick to the computer mice that mold to your hand that have a billion functions and look more like huge rats. They may be fugly as hell, but at least you don't get carpal tunnel. However, if you're a somewhat casual mouse user and if your Mac is as much a piece of interior decoration as it is a gadget, the Magic Mouse is the coolest thing ever.

Saturday

Today was a bit strange. And scary.

Around lunch time David, who lived two floors down, sent me an instant message warning me of suspicious-looking people who rang his doorbell. Now our apartment is not gated, and the only security we have is our door. This wasn't really a big deal because I've always thought of Japan as safe. I mean you could walk around carrying huge amounts of cash without fear of it getting stolen - ask anyone who bought a laptop or dSLR or L-type lens.

Anyway, back to the story. So according to David, this guy rang his doorbell, and he seemed to motion to his companions to "position themselves" while waiting for him to get the door. Now our doorbell has a camera that's activated when you ring it. So this means we are able to confirm who is outside without having to open the door. The standard protocol, I believe, for people who ring the doorbell - delivery people, police, and people who solicit and stuff - is to flash their ID or badge or any form of authorization to the camera, and also explain what they're doing (at least I think that's what they are trying to say in very rapid Japanese). Since the suspicious-looking person didn't do any of that David didn't open his door and warned everyone else in the building to do the same. True enough, after a couple of agonizing minutes my doorbell rang and this guy was there and he just stood there for a couple of seconds and then he left. I hope I'm just being paranoid but I was really really scared.

So after that I kept thinking of what could've happened if I wasn't online and if David didn't tell me to lock the door or if the guy rang my doorbell first and I opened the door without checking who's outside (I do that all the time) and it drove me nuts after a couple of minutes so I decided that I have to get out of here.

OK, so on to nicer things. First I went to Harajuku to visit Forever21 and H&M. They were jampacked as always but there were so many nice things I had to do a lot of editing before proceeding to the counter. Among other things I passed on a really pretty sweater, a large clear plastic square ring, and this ring shaped like a leopard with pink spots. Hmmmnmnm EQ.

After that I went back to Shinjuku to visit the usual places. Now at this point it was drizzling and it was really really cold. But I just had to go visit my new Macbook so I made a detour to Yodobashi (the one near the East Exit). But as luck would have it, they didn't have the new Macbook on display which was kinda annoying. Anyway, I was so hell bent on seeing my soon-to-be-new-baby I trooped all the way to the other Yodobashi branch near the West Exit, and there he was in all his glossy shining glory. I got to play around with the Magic Mouse too. But today is not the day for big-ticket purchases so let's proceed with my teeny tiny haul.


It's a Barbie pendant! It's from this store called Un Petit Coeur which sells the most adorably dainty things. I've been looking for a pendant for the longest time because my coral one is kinda tarnished. Hopefully this holds up better. And Barbie is one of those things you never really outgrow.


OK, so I don't know how to explain this, but I've decided I wanted Kanebo powder foundation. My skin has been behaving really well lately (thank you Clarisonic et al) so I don't feel the need to slather on liquid foundation like I used to. Now I love MAC MSF for setting foundation but on it's own the color is a bit too pink. Kanebo foundations have always garnered good reviews, and they do cater to Asians so they're a bit more yellow. I have really high expectations for this one, and from the couple of trials I've done so far it hasn't disappointed me. And I did get a lot of freebies which always makes me happy.


I found these uber-cheap zebra-print flats in Forever21, and I know they look like the flats I bought two weeks ago, but those were absolute hell on my feet while these are soft and comfy. They also come in gray, red, and purple, but white has always been my best friend when it comes to flats.


I saved my favorite purchases for last. These are all from Forever21. I got two silver cuffs that were small enough to sit comfortably on my abnormally thin wrists. I would've gotten more, but I found this shirt so I had to compromise a bit.


(My apologies for the weird picture composition, but it's the only way to take the picture without you seeing the mess all around me). I finally found a Brokeback Mountain shirt!!! I've been meaning to get one for the longest time but I never really found something I could pull off. I'm so happy I found this; it's perfect.

Anyway, that's that. I can't really do major shopping because I'm planning some major purchases next week. But I think I did pretty well this weekend, EQ-wise. Tomorrow I'll be doing a lot of tidying up because the new Macbook can't come home to a dirty apartment, can it?

10.24.2009

Fortune

I can't believe I forgot to blog about this it's so life changing. OK maybe not, but still.

My fortune from one of the temples we visited in Nikko:


See? Buy now. ^^

10.22.2009

I love you Steve Jobs

I knew it I knew it I knew it!!!

The new white Macbook is here, just in time for my birthday. 
I have never been this giddy for a looooooong long time. 
Thank you thank you Apple.

(Picture courtesy of apple.com)

10.21.2009

Laser Squadron


Fall is here and with it comes H1N1. An officemate happened to catch it and now we all have to wear a mask in the office while working.

Now I don't hate masks entirely; as an officemate has discovered it's extremely useful to cover up pimples, it saves me time in the morning because the only makeup I have to put on is mascara because it's the only thing that is going to be visible, and during the winter it's nice to wear because it keeps the face warm.

Having said that these face masks are going to be the end of me. I swear I'm thisclose to death from asphyxiation. I know they're supposed to keep the flu virus away, but they do that by keeping everything away - and that includes oxygen. I don't know how everyone else manages, but to me it's pure torture. I have resorted to removing the mask every two minutes just so I can resume breathing which kinda defeats the purpose. And inside the mask it's just so hot and humid and my face just gets so oily and sweaty and disgusting (to quote David, after removing the masks before leaving the office: "i-alcogel niyo yung mukha niyo!"). And did I mention I can't breathe? And that it's very very very warm in the office which doesn't help at all? I didn't realize how stressful it was for me until I got home today completely exhausted despite the fact that it's a Happy Wednesday and work wasn't all that hectic (it's one of them rare mellow days). Anyway, just two more days to power through this whole situation and hopefully everyone can breathe normally again.

On the lighter side of things, it is kinda funny looking around and seeing everyone wearing masks.


Aura power na lang ang kulang.

10.20.2009

Nikko

Short version: We went to Nikko, took a billion pictures, and went home.
No long version because I'm too lazy to write.



I look so tall in the second picture, no? And my hoodie matches the car in the background. ^^
Pictures courtesy of David. My own crappy pictures are here.

10.16.2009

Ecobags

It all started with Marc by Marc Jacobs.


I spied their fall catalog in a convenience store in Sapporo and there was a free canvass ecobag. To date it's still the best ecobag I own. It's wonderful for shopping - it's the right size and it has this tiny pocket you can put your keys and other tiny things in.

Anyway, after that initial purchase I've taken to scouring the magazines in convenience store for free bags or what have you. Some are so-so, most are disappointing, and I've only had one really good find.


It's a Zucca tote and even though it's not particularly pretty or interesting it folds up into a neat little pouch so I can always carry it around.


And then today, finally I found the Uniqlo ecobag in the store near the office. I've been looking for this last month and I'm so happy I finally got my hands on it.


It's actually feels like a paper bag which I like, and it fits A4 size paper quite nicely, so I'm thinking of using it to schlepp documents from one office to the other so I don't always have to haul a giant bag. And it has a small pocket too, which is always a good thing. Bags should always have as many pockets as they can accomodate. I really hate rummaging through my bag for my cellphone or my train pass or my hand sanitizer but it's something I always end up doing (and it's also why I'm hating huge bags right now).

Now to be perfectly honest, I think this whole ecobag trend is not particularly effective here in Japan, as far as the reduction of plastic waste is concerned. For one, they are big on over-packaging things - when I buy something from MAC, first they place it into a paper envelope thing, which in turn is placed inside a MAC plastic bag, and if you ask for it, this plastic bag will in turn be placed inside an Isetan paper bag. And when I got the Uniqlo bag, it was placed inside a plastic bag (!), and the clothes I bought together with it were placed in a separate plastic bag. And then when it's raining, they'd have these long disposable plastic sleeves for you to place your umbrellas in to keep them from dripping all over the floor, and when you buy something they put the paper bag inside another plastic bag so it won't get wet. And for crying out loud, we have special plastic bags for the sole purpose of disposing of burnable waste, non-burnable waste, and whatever other type of waste there is. But to be fair, I'm pretty sure all that plastic waste gets recycled.

Anyway, I have done enough procrastination; I am leaving for Nikko in five hours and I haven't started packing yet. Bonus pic:


People can go on and on about how it's not practical blah blah blah but when I look at it I smile so I don't really care.

10.15.2009

Fall

So today was a typical day - reported to work, went through the usual tasks, proceeded to the mothership office to attend a meeting, and went home when all is done.

And then I fell down the stairs. Not high enough for me to seriously injure myself, but not low enough to leave me with a wee bit of dignity. Even the stranger kuya who happened to pass by asked me "Daijobu desu ka?" (Are you retarded OK?). I don't think I have to tell you how mortifying it was, but hey, this has nothing on me getting wiped out in front of an elevator full of people. And the sad thing is, the first thought that came to mind was if I fell from a higher portion of the stairs were I would've finally gotten that one day off I have been praying for.

And then as I was walking ever so slowly from the train station I tripped. I guess my legs are welcoming "fall" a wee bit too literally.

And now I just woke up from having narcolepsied on the carpet.

Tired is an understatement.

10.14.2009

On Fatherhood and the Importance of Enunciation

This gave me actual tears, so I thought I'd share.

So a while ago during the monthly party, someone wanted to go to the restroom. Now sometimes we can't help but converse in Filipino but when our Japanese officemates are around we try to translate.

David: Ah, Marci will got to CR. She is... tatae. Do you know tatae?
Boss: Yes. It means father.


Now take a deep breath and ask yourself this: have you fathered anything lately?

10.12.2009

What Shopping Ban?

First of all, it would've worked if there was no project deadline I had to bust my ass for. I really thought I was going to go nuts. Anyway, no excuses. Shopping ban's over. No need to tell me I have too many shoes, bags, and coats. I know.


This was just too cheap and pretty to pass up. It looks like a hybrid of all my other coats but I really don't care.


Adorable flats, last pair, my size, 50% off. Sold. Bonus: no toe cleavage!

Anyway, here's the clincher:


Stupid Coach and their "special sale". I don't even know where to begin to justify it. But, I'm giving the other one to my mom. There.

Anyway, a couple of other things. First, this really really cute thing I found in the drugstore:


It's a gel-type moisturizer and it's actually pretty good, as far as I can tell. It's actually similar to MAC Lightful Cream which I really really love so this may be a (tad) cheaper alternative. The MAC one smells better, though.

Last but not least, this was a surprise discovery in Kichijoji (which is a surprise discovery in itself):


It's a pink table! Isn't there this joke about a pink table that's incredibly long and pointless? Anyway, it's a bit too late to be buying furniture and stuff but I could take this one home anyway since it folds up nicely.

And yes, that's three mobile phones in there. Our office gave us a PHS mobile phone and I can only be thankful of the timing because it basically rendered my other Japanese mobile phone pointless. Oh, and it's waterproof, too. But not scratch-proof, which is unfortunate.

Anyway, got to go. Work tomorrow. Please please please let this week be a bit less toxic.

10.08.2009

And That's How It's Done



It's a good day to bleed blue. Double back-to-back championships on our sesquicentennial is not too shabby. It breaks my heart to have missed this game (the first championship I was not able to witness ever since I became an Atenean) and the presumably grand bonfire that is to follow. But I'm consoling myself with the Ateneo jacket I managed to snag (special thanks to Rocky).

Melor Day

Supertyphoon Melor is in the house. But no supertyphoon is strong enough to suspend work in this country. So this morning, expecting train delays, I woke up a tad bit earlier.




Interestingly enough, there is no rain. The sun is even shining. The wind is crazy though. Anyway, so I got on the 8:19 train, which came on time. It did not leave on time though. Actually it never left the station. It might still be there, waiting for the wind to die down, because apparently the wind might be strong enough to derail it. Or they'd rather not risk it, given that this particular line is overflowing with people during rush hour (today I only had one foot on the train floor and I literally could not breathe because my bag is pushed against my tummy and people were still trying to squeeze into the train).

After 40 minutes of waiting we decided to just give up and go home. And yet everyone else was still there waiting for the train to be given the go signal despite the fact that the occasional gusts of wind are enough to shake the train back and forth. And by everyone, I mean really everyone - the the train is full, and so is the platform, and there is a crowd outside the train station too, presumably waiting until the line is given the go signal to operate again. And the couple of people who actually left the station headed of to the Keio Inagi station which is a good thirty minutes on foot.



See all those people sitting on the steps? They're waiting for the train to start. See the people leaving? That's us.
(Photo credits: Tin)

It's almost embarrassing that we decided to stay home, but I guess that even after almost a year of being here I do not have the same determination (desperation, almost) to report to the office as the Japanese do. I mean, that's dedication for you. I swear they actually looked really sad and disappointed that they cannot report for work.

On another note, my half day leave is now over; the wind is still howling like crazy, but work it is.

EDIT: So apparently it's really embarrassing to go home after the half-day leave. I guess the expectation was, you take a half day off only because you can't make it on time due to unavoidable circumstances, but you will still try to report to the office as soon as you can, in any humanly way possible (except taking a cab - apparently that is never an option). So we should've actually gone straight to the other train station so we could report to the office earlier.

Anyway, by the time we left the apartment the sun was shining like crazy and it's as if the typhoon was eons ago. Crazy crazy day.

10.04.2009

Food Glorious Food

So this shopping ban is terrible for my diet.

Let's backtrack to last week when I can still happily shop my stress away. I was starving and too lazy to go to the grocery to buy food, so I had to make do with whatever I could find in my kitchen, which happened to be broccoli. And corned beef.


It's surprisingly good. Anyway, after that my fridge was empty. And since groceries were the only thing I could shop for, I stocked up. And maybe got a little carried away because I came home yesterday with two packs of chicken only to find I have two more packs in my fridge. Oh, and I also got this:



I would've bought the smaller one, but this is more than thrice the product for twice the price so I figured since I'm not overspending on other stuff anyway...

Anyway, so yesterday I had a lot of time and was feeling adventurous so I thought I would try something new - spicy chicken dumplings. I got the recipe from Chef Caffy. It was a bit of a disaster at first because I didn't add enough flour but I think it turned out pretty well but my dumplings were huge and elliptical rather than cute and round.


I know it doesn't look too appetizing but it's actually good. And the recipe is quite easy to follow. Although the onions do stink up the entire apartment but as per the recipe, boiling a pot of coffee for an hour is enough to deodorize it.

And then for dinner I decided to go safe (but obviously I still had too much time on my hands).



Tuna pasta, real tiny spicy chicken drumsticks, and rosemary potatoes. All with a healthy does of cayenne pepper, which I have now run out of.

Oh, and one last thing.


Cassis-soda. Mmmmmm.

Pahabol:


I bought this yesterday and it was only when I got home that I read the label. ^^

It's the Little Things

One of the millions of things I like about Japan is how everything seems to be well thought of - ketchup packets you can open with one hand (because the other hand is holding the hotdog), packs of gum that come with strips of paper for when you have to dispose of them, down to the tiny sticker at the bottom of shrink-wrapped package for easy opening (because all it takes is a little tear in the shrink-wrap and then it will be a breeze to open). As my office mate would say, here in Japan if you have any difficulty doing something, you're probably doing it wrong.

It's also one of the million things I like about Apple. My MacBook's power cable attaches magnetically so that it will just pop off when someone happens to trip on it instead of bringing the entire machine down with it. And the trackpad allows you to scroll down by using two fingers simultaneously *anywhere* in the trackpad area. Some people think this is no big deal, but I think this is akin to the roller ball in the middle of the mouse - once you've tried it you just can't go back to the plain old mouse with just two buttons anymore. Now when I use other laptops I find that it annoys me that I have to move my finger to the side to be able to scroll up or down. My Time Capsule, upon boot-up, will try to contact an Apple machine within range so that the latter can set it up (although I must say, this caused a bit of a problem for me as there are a couple of Apple users in the building and my Time Capsule contacted all of them).

Apple's biggest failure, or so I thought, was the iPhone. Well actually I think QuickTime is a grand failure too but I digress. It seemed like they didn't understand phones. But after the iPhone 3.0 SW upgrade (which I got for free, much love to Globe), my iPhone started behaving like a normal phone would - I can delete individual text messages, cut and paste, and hey, I can even type vertically. And now I feel that Apple is slowly starting to fix those tiny little quirks on the system that annoy you but are not enough to make you switch to a different machine altogether. Because look at what I saw when I opened iTunes today (this has been updated for maybe a week now but things were just so crazy last week that I never even got a chance to explore it).


I can now arrange my iPhone applications on my Mac. It's not something major but if you have 6 pages of applications to organize it's highly convenient. So now it's one page of basic applications, one page of non-game applications, one page of time-management and tower defense games, and one page of tilt-tilt games (e.g. games you should never ever play on the train), and another page of things I cannot categorize but I want to keep in my phone.

Anyway, my apologies for the long, senseless ramble. Nothing to do. Can't shop, you see.