Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Whoosh


I had a stressful weekend. I spent Saturday in the office working on a major program that is to be launched in the plant next month. Considering that two days from now is already next month and the fact that I’m still working on its conceptual framework makes me a bit uneasy. In fact, I am in a state of anxiety.

Sunday started quite okay. I had my routine weekend run. You should know by now that a major run for me is anywhere between 20 to 25 kilometers of road running – that’s about 2 hours nonstop. It really helps if you had ample rest prior to running, say, 6 hours of sleep or more (but no more than 8!). Excessively long sleep retards charged muscles. On training day and just about an hour before you start, I recommend (though optional) taking a power gel/bar or dark chocolate (or drinking a glass of Extra Joss – equally powerful but a tad cheaper) and some oatmeal cookies – goodie-foodie stuff that will surely boost your energy level.

Completing my morning routine was a visit to the fitness club for a much needed power stretching and abdominal workout. And then lunch! Tomato smoothie, chicken vinaigrette salad and tuna pesto wrap. All from Chamba Juice – my favorite healthy stop at the Fort Strip in Fort Bonifacio Global City.

But everything went wrong when I sensed something was missing with what I was wearing - a Nike cross-training top whose whoosh was conspicuously absent from where it used to be. The whoosh was originally located mid-chest. Now, what could have happened? Apparently, the last time it was machine-washed, the rubberized whoosh detached itself from the shirt and disintegrated upon contact with the machine’s blades.

That top was barely a month old and I particularly liked it ‘coz the material was sweat-proof and it matched well with my Nadal-like ¾’s. I was about to explode with anger and was so tempted to throw expletives in the air (I sensed that a minute more would have me erupting with the ferocity of Vesuvius); however, I did the most sensible thing – dialed Nike Park in Greenbelt, where I bought the item, and complained.

The lady who answered was very accommodating and gracious. She asked me to bring the item back to the store and it’ll be replaced appropriately. True enough, after rummaging the backside for stocks, she handed me a brand-new shirt, of similar style, color and size. No questions asked, just submitting to the whims of a demanding customer who was temporarily displeased and now was beaming with pure delight like a child being given his first serving of ice cream, double Dutch.

What a commendable customer service! Nike Park rocks! It’s good to know that, nowadays, companies are becoming consumer-centric where the customer is recognized as the most important aspect of a business’s success or failure. Indeed, discerning customers have nothing to worry about, except when the item you fancy is out of size. Now, that’s a major disaster!

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

A Little Bit of Politics

Get Real : Truth is Arroyo won
By Solita Collas- Monsod
Inquirer News Service


(PDI) Editor's Note: Published on Page A12 of the October 29, 2005 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer


IT HAS been said that if you repeat a lie often enough, people will start thinking it is true. And this has obviously been taken to heart by various groups and individuals, who peddle their lies as “truth.” Unfortunately for them, there is another saying: “You can fool some of the people all of the time, and you can fool all of the people some of the time, but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time.”

Let us try to “unfool” the gullible and/or expose the weak underbelly of one of the “truths” being peddled.

Item: “Gloria Arroyo is an illegitimate president [because she cheated to win].” This has been repeated most often, probably because the further claims of her detractors are based on this assertion, claims such as “she does not have to be impeached to kick her out,” “her illegitimacy makes it impossible for her to govern effectively” (so she must be made to resign or be kicked out), “she is not credible,” etc.

Let’s jog our memories a bit:
1. Voter preferences in the run-up to the 2004 elections, as recorded by the Social Weather Stations (SWS), which conducted polls every two weeks since the start of the campaign period, showed that while at the beginning (Jan. 16-28) the lead of Fernando Poe Jr. over Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was almost 10 percentage points (36.3 percent vs. 26.5 percent), this was whittled down so that a month later, they were running neck-and-neck, and this continued into March. By the second week of April, the polls showed Ms Arroyo ahead by almost five percentage points (35.3 percent vs. 30.8 percent), although this was not statistically significant (i.e., it still could go either way). But by the week before the elections (May 1-4), Ms Arroyo’s lead over Poe was significant (37 percent vs. 30 percent).

The other major polling organization, Pulse Asia, also noted the same trend, although its polls were taken at slightly different time periods: an increasing trend for Ms Arroyo and decreasing trend for Poe. Its last poll, conducted from April 26-29, showed Ms Arroyo leading, 37 percent vs. 31 percent.

Note that a six-point lead in voter preferences, if translated into actual votes, would imply a difference of 2.0-2.5 million votes between the two candidates, depending on whether we use total votes cast or total registered voters as base.

2. Exit polls conducted on election day itself by at least three media organizations (although only one of them may have used acceptable polling methods) validated the run-up polls. All of them showed Ms Arroyo as the winner.

3. The final official congressional canvass showed Ms Arroyo getting 40 percent of the votes cast, while Poe got 36.5 percent (a difference of 1.1 million votes), while the Namfrel Quick Count, based on 83 percent of total precincts (the election watchdog group Namfrel was not present in all precincts), showed Ms Arroyo with 39.4 percent and Poe with 36.8 percent (a difference of 700,000 votes).

All figures from different sources are within the same ball park, and all indicate that Ms Arroyo won. For those who think that the poll results should not be accepted, it should be pointed out that the head of the SWS is the first cousin of Poe. More importantly, since they are now using the same polling organizations to point out that Ms Arroyo has lost the trust of the nation, or that she is not satisfactory, let it be further pointed out that they cannot be selective in the use of poll results.

What is more, other circumstances obtaining during the campaign period support the conclusion that it is the claim of “illegitimacy” that is a lie: after all, her coalition party, K4, won 58 percent of senatorial seats, 87 percent of congressional seats, 85 percent of gubernatorial slots, 87 percent of city mayor seats, and 85 percent of all mayor seats. Either they carried her or she carried them, or there was some combination of both.

Could this have been the result of a grand conspiracy to commit massive cheating at all levels? But that is not what either the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) or the Namfrel thought. Said the prelates: “Gathered for the 89th CBCP Plenary Assembly of July 10-11 at Pius XII Center in Manila the bishops reviewed the conduct of the May 10th elections and their consequences for the future course of the country. Each bishop present was asked to comment on whether or not massive fraud in the conduct of the elections was observed by him and the volunteers in his diocese so as to have affected substantially the results of the elections. With only one or two exceptions, the rest of the bishops answered in the negative. This confirms our statement of June 1, 2004: ‘that there were some instances of cheating and violations of election law by political parties in their areas but these did not affect the voting in general.’ It is the view of the bishops that the results of the elections reflected the will of the Filipino people.”

Said Namfrel secretary general Bill Luz: “The results of the elections are credible and reflect the vote of the people. We didn’t see enough electoral anomalies at the national level to have a material effect on the national results.”

Then there was the endorsement (albeit last minute -- but this shows that they were jumping on the bandwagon) that Ms Arroyo received from the Iglesia ni Cristo and El Shaddai. And finally, it was generally acknowledged that Poe was shooting himself in the foot during the campaign, and that the opposition was split four ways. In other words, they did it to themselves.

Given all these, the bottom line is: Like it or not, Ms Arroyo is our legitimate President. Let us not allow ourselves to be misled by those who are themselves misled or who have their own political ambitions.

Monday, November 21, 2005

The Plan

Running season is almost over. There are a few more scheduled until mid-December but the major ones are done.

2006 looks promising for my running career. My performance this year has been awesome. I’ve broken my records in New Balance Power Race, Milo National Marathon, Adidas King of the Road and to top it all, a new personal best time in the just concluded ANIMO!RUN. What’s so amazing is that I kept breaking barriers. Each run was almost an improvement from the previous one. I’m overwhelmed by the positive results given proper training and diet.

This early, my focus is on the Pasig Heritage Run – a 42K full marathon that starts in the historic Intramuros then steers through the streets of Manila, Pasay, Makati, Pasig and finally Fort Bonifacio in Taguig.

I’ve searched the web and read through countless magazines, journals and books on full marathon training. I found an interesting plan from Runner’s World and I’m particularly keen on it.

It’s a bit sadistic, to put it bluntly, for someone who has no interest in running. However, it’s heaven-sent for really serious runners. I’ll share it for the sheer pleasure of sharing something that matters to me. It’s called Marathon Training for Serious Runners. It says that “If you're accustomed to running 35-40 miles a week and are looking to qualify for the Boston marathon, this is the training plan for you.” What??? THE BOSTON MARATHON??? It’s the granddaddy of all running events… Now, this is interesting!

The training plan spans 16 weeks with the running distance varying each week. On the 1st week, it’s 40 miles (yes, that’s about 64 kilometers). Sounds really extreme and that’s just the start. The distance gradually increases until the 3rd week where you’re expected to run 77 kilometers. Wow, truly remarkable! So how does it work? The plan requires you to run 6 days a week, 5 mid-range runs with distances ranging from 5 miles to 7 miles. One day allotted for rest and the 6th training day would be a major one at 11 miles or more.

Fret not for the total distance on the 4th week tapers to 40 miles, back to where you started. You are given a week to relax because the next 3 weeks is hell. Sweet!!! Hahaha. The succeeding weeks will have you running between 45 to 57 miles – that’s anywhere between 72 to 91 kilometers. And to add sugar to a now more sweetened pie, the 10th to 13th week will have you grasping for breath as it requires you to run 60 miles (96 kilometers). The running distance narrows into the 14th week. From there the training takes on a relaxed (read humane) mode until you reach the final week where the distance is just a mere 15 miles.


So what do I think of this particular training??? Well, it’s uhhh…crazy??? Seriously, I find it really exciting, challenging and TOTALLY EXTREME! This is what I call taking the road less traveled. Will I ever get there? We’ll see…

Sunday, November 13, 2005

The Genius that is Gabriel Garcia Marquez

I was at Power Books a few nights ago and came across two novels by Gabriel Garcia Marquez: Living to Tell the Tale and Memories of My Melancholy Whores. The latter caught my interest, well, who wouldn’t?

Memories of My Melancholy Whores tells the story of a journalist who at the age of 90, looks back on his colorful life – the relationships he had, the women he loved and made love to. It is a “belated love story” of a man who lived most of his life in the company of prostitutes – women who were paid to perform for him the acts of love. On the eve of his 90th birthday, he wanted to relive his amorous past and decided to hire the services of a “virgin adolescent.” What happened next was an intense transformation he never expected, a love he never had and a life he’d been wanting.

Memories of My Melancholy Whores is a poignant story of true love. It celebrates the joys of being in love as seen in the man who realized, albeit belatedly, that “sex is the consolation one has for not finding enough love.”

Gabriel Garcia Marquez once more demonstrated his skillful storytelling in Memories of My Melancholy Whores, his latest fictional work in a decade. The book is full of Garcia Marquez’s beautiful sentences crafted in magical realism, a literary style that the author mastered and has since been associated with.

Gabriel Garcia Marquez was born in Aracataca Colombia in 1928. He received the prestigious Nobel Prize in Literature in 1982. His other notable works are: Love in the Time of Cholera, One Hundred Years of Solitude and Chronicle of a Death Foretold.

New Record

The 3rd ANIMO!RUN, a 10K running event organized by the DLSU Running Club, was held earlier at Rockwell. It was my first ANIMO!RUN and it will go down in my running history as one of the greatest: 40 minutes & 30 seconds – a new personal best!

As a recap, here’s the list of the 3 major running events (all 10K) that I joined in the last month or so:

October 9 – Milo National Marathon (Roxas Boulevard) – 49 ++ minutes
October 16 – Adidas King of the Road (Fort Bonifacio) – 52 ++ minutes
November 13 – ANIMO!RUN (Rockwell Makati) – 40 min. & 30 sec.

Getting better, getting there!