LEVI McPHERSON, a graduate student of analytical chemistry at the University of North Central Florida, is approached by agents of the Homeland Security’s Counter-terrorism Unit. The agency is recruiting Lee to study and expose the loopholes of screening instruments in airports. Struggling financially, he accepted the offer, making him a paid, benevolent hacker of the nation’s gateway. Yet Levi is horrified when an Airbus from Los Angeles disintegrated in mid-air.

At 40, when everybody’s career trajectory is going up, Levi’s still a poor graduate student, struggling financially. His research projects however, are worth million dollars. Researching the highly classified and heavily guarded secrets of detecting traces of explosives, what Lee know was a goldmine. The agency's offer is his financial break . So Levi tackles the problem like a scientist, detailing the loopholes of the aviation security and turning what he knew into a big time money machine.

JIM and JONATHAN of the counter-terrorism unit, where nowhere to be found after Charlotte International Airport, a hub of Delta Airlines closed abruptly because of instrument malfunctions in their security lines. And in a post-Osama Bin Laden’s era, the biggest blow to the United Stated after the 9/11 disaster comes unexpectedly when a passenger plane blew up in the skies of Washington D.C., in the heart of the nation.

Levi knew it was only the start of more troubles, so he recruits his fellow graduate students to counter the future attacks. They have to think like criminals—and scientists too. With the help of FBI counter-terrorism experts, Homeland Security and Transportation Security Agency, the team races to close and plug the loopholes Lee identified.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Super Athlete

University of Florida's prized quarterback and his ESPN story
regarding his trip to the Philippines.


Monday, August 18, 2008

The way I see it #291

When I'm writing (or doing something requiring intense concentration), coffee's my friend. Here's an opinion I got from the cup of Starbucks I got this afternoon.

"In a world where make-believe is called reality, it is most important to have real love, truth and stability in your life"
--Bernie Brillstein
Film and television producer.

Back to the reality of writing my scientific proposal. First order of business, battle the writer's block.

Sunday, August 17, 2008


I am a huge sports freak ( I can stay up all night watching ESPN),
so it is sacrilegious not to post something about Phelps and
his 8th gold medal performance

Phelps 7th gold almost slipped away. This is the analysis of Sports
Illustrated. If Cravic, the guy on the left wasn't looking up
and increased the drag, he could have won the event.

The Individual Medley Relay Swim team of the
United States, for Phelp's 8th.

Teary eyed

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Alan Parson's Project

Every time I'm bored writing my proposal, or bored before studying my cumulative exam, my diversion was always these guys: Alan Parson's project (Eye in the Sky,) which was used by the great Chicago Bulls for player's intro. These music is my inspiration, the same way Edgar Allan Poe looks for refuge under the influence of alcohol.

When music and sports are combined, it works for me better than bread and butter or even peanut butter and jelly (PBJ's, America's favorite lunch).

Hell! Who said writing was easy?

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Quantum, eigenstates, what the @#$$

I can't help it but re-blog this one.

Remember when I was researching about eigenstates? I stumbled upon, or appropriately following a science blog called "Cosmic Variance". They where discussing quantum mechanics in a non-expert, non-science majors.

The second amazing thing is that we can never observe the food to be in such a superposition; whenever we (or sleeping puppies) observe the food, we always find that it appears to be either salad or steak. (Eigenstates of the food operator, for you experts.

Remember the cat?, here they use a dog

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Science Writing Tidbits

When you are out to describe the truth, leave elegance to the tailor.
-Albert Einstein

I'm writing a scientific proposal. These are set of ideas to be tested in the real world, and besides me is this book, to describe my ideas. In capital letters, I'm RECOMMENDING THIS BOOK TO BE BESIDE EVERY SCIENCE WRITING PROJECT for scientists and engineers. It's the best thing that happened to me after slice bread. Before, I thought my writing skills were good, but honestly it's not.

Science writing and blogging or novel writing are different things. In blogging, you may use fat phrases or words needlessly, but in science, leave elegance to the tailor. Check some of the examples of the book.

familiarization - possible substitute: familiarity
has the functionality- can function
has the operationability - can operate
utilization - use

Facilitate - cause
finalize - end

Monday, August 4, 2008

The Cat

I was researching what eigenstate is and found a good explanation from the web.

An eigenstate is one of the many possible states which may exist prior to quantum decoherence

Ok, I don't know what quantum decoherence means, but here's a better analogy.

The story of Schrodinger's Cat is one of the most well known story involving eigenstates. The story goes like this:

There's a cat inside a box, with a poison ready to be release anytime. Since you don't know when the poison is released, the cat is either alive or dead. Alive and dead is the eigenstates.

So what does this philosophical point of view means? It means that you can't predict where exactly a hurricane will touch land. You can only calculate the possible areas where it is going :). Until you open the box, you don't know if the cat is dead. Until the damage of the hurricane is done, you don't know what area will be the most damaged:)

Sadly, this is how tiny things operate--like the electron of an atom. You may never pinpoint the exact place where the electron is, but you can calculate the probability where the location is.

I saw that shirt by the way in one of my students. Pretty geeky.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Don't Forget the Milk

It's not uncommon for me to remember all my meetings and tasks, I'm still young. But lately, I forgot an important meeting with my supervisor (and to make a coffee pot for a seminar). This supervisor is my other boss, not research bosses, but the person I report to with regards to my teaching assignment.

Males like tech gadget than females. But why the *&)*&^ did I forgot the meeting even though I have a cell phone to remind me of my tasks, even a planner and a Palm Top? The answer probably because of my baby--he gets all my attention.

So I went online and seek for help. I look for igoogle and installed google calendar and everything. It didn't help out. I need something integrated to my email. I found this site:

I didn't know that I have an account in this site, registered 3 years ago, but forgot about it. But now, since it can be integrated to my Gmail, I'm using it again.

What happens is that every time I open my Gmail account (in firefox only), my tasks is on the side of the screen.

Perfect for a starving and busy graduate student.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Ivy Leaguers' big edge: Starting pay

Yes, it's proven, that Ivy League graduates have the edge in salary in terms of starting pays. But read between the lines:

Meanwhile, graduates of "party schools" (as defined by the 2008 Princeton Review College Guide) aren't that far behind, with their incomes increasing 85 percent during that time to $84,685 from $45,715.

more here.

Yes indeed, Florida once again is on top of the food chain. (Read my blog post below)

University of Florida, #1 (Party School)

From the Gainesville Sun:

The University of Florida is the nation’s top party school, completing a rise in the Princeton Review rankings that coincided with efforts to reduce alcohol abuse.

The No. 1 party school ranking appears in the 2009 edition of the review’s annual guide to colleges, which goes on sale Tuesday. The guide’s rankings are based on survey results from about 120,000 students at 368 colleges.

read more here.

This proves that the school were I'm at now doing my graduate studies, is always on top of the food chain. We know how to have a good time. It's Florida, the palm trees, the beaches, bikinis and the sun, what can you ask for more?

The rating to top the distinction as a party school is fueled by the back to back national championships in basketball and at the same year, football champions. No doubt everybody agrees with me.

It was 2 AM when my friends went home after celebrating the first ever NCAA trophy in basketball last 2006. The following morning, I was groggy while teaching the chemistry laboratory. Then one of my student begged to dismissed the class early, after all, we were the national champions. No doubt she was celebrating last night at the University Avenue.

We are Florida, the party animals, when there is something to celebrate.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Emilio Version 2.0, The Upgrade Story

BY: Emilio version 1.0

Emilio version 2.0 was introduced to the world, late May of this year. It was an upgrade that was long overdue. Unlike the long awaited Windows 95, the upgrade for the outdated Windows 3.1, Emilio 2.0 came without a media hype. There were no rock bands gracing the event or Jay Leno hosting the fanfare. Instead, Shands Hospital Delivery room 3519 resembles that of a war zone -- blood where everywhere. When the smoke cleared, there were no casualties, just a newborn baby crying. It was already Thursday morning and rush hour outside was slowly building

Several hours before, our Wednesday afternoon was just like another day in paradise. I wasn't expecting the baby yet, since the doctor calculated a June birth date (now I have to believe doctors and nurses are not good in numbers). In addition, it was still an irregular contraction. I was watching the UEFA soccer championship, when my lady interrupted, it was time to pack and go to the hospital. It wasn't a drill. It was the real thing. Luckily, I can TiVo the soccer match and watch it later (or weeks after).

After signing some papers, we were ushered to our room. By 19:00 Hrs. (7 PM), she's dilated around 5 centimeters. The requirement is 10 cm for the baby to pass through. It was progressing to 10 cms slowly and contraction was becoming regular. It’s an understatement to say that the contraction without an anesthesia was very painful. Joy was in so much pain that she can grab a golf ball and smash it into pieces. Our nurse Kristen admitted that she would rather run 80 miles than give birth, a fair comparison.

Here's the subplot to the painful delivery:

The assigned anesthesiologist came around 21:00 Hrs (9 PM) to administer the injection of the epidural. Epidural injection is like that of dextrose but a little bit complicated. While dextrose’s needle is attached to your veins in your arms, in child birth, the anesthesia is attached to the lower back of the mother, a small, sweet spot in between the two discs of the lumbar spine. There is a very tiny room for error.

Another difference is that nurses control the flow of the dextrose, but in epidurals, it can be controlled manually by the patient, just in case you need more of the juice to alleviate the pain. In reality, it is pseudo-controlled by the mother.

I remember during the labor when Joy was asking for more epidural shots. Like a shaking addict asking for more of the booze, she was begging me to increase the flow of the chemical by pushing the control button more often. Unknown to her, the flow was preset per hour, so you can’t exceed the calculated volume. Many times during the 3-hour labor, the monitor said that I can’t pump more of the juice but I always told Joy I already pushed the button, hoping for a placebo effect.

It was a tense moment during the injection of the fine epidural needle since the anesthesiologist was having a hard time finding the right tiny area. Added to the burden was that Joy’s spine is a little bit crooked due to scoliosis. The older, more experienced resident anesthesiologist was called to the rescue. The pressure was on since damaging the spine can lead to devastating effects. The room calm down after the anesthesiologists successfully administered the anesthesia. End of the sub-plot.

Around 22:00 hrs (10 PM) the head commander of the operation, Dr. Ross, surveyed the battle field once again. She told us she is fielding her trusted lieutenants for the rest of the evening because she needed to sleep; she has a conference to attend to the following morning.

By this time, Joy looked like a medical specimen, with 2 wires and the epidural tube. One of the two wires monitors her contraction and the other wire measures the baby's heart rate. So you can imagine the room resembles that of a hi tech war room where Generals track the inputs and reconnaissance pictures fed by spy satellites, but instead of the RADAR monitor beeping, you can hear the regular sound of the baby's heart beat and a regular spike of contractions.

24:00 Hrs (12 AM Thursday), Dr. Ross' trusted Lieutenant ordered to break her water bag. I was half asleep when I heard the water splashed. The two nurses, Kristen and Natalia, the two loyal sergeants, cleaned Joy's bed sheets.

Between 1:00 to 4:00 hrs, doctors came in probably twice, checking on the vital signs of the mother and the baby.

3:00 hrs, I heard screaming from the other room, with people encouraging to keep on pushing. There was a loud scream from the mom. I likened the mom’s screaming to that of a neophyte being smash by a paddle in a fraternity initiation. The neophyte just scream at the top of his lungs like there’s no tomorrow. Can Joy eclipse the scene? Who knows and we’ll see.

After the loud scream next door, then came a baby crying and people cheering. I imagined the scene with full of fanatics screaming loudly while the mom giving all her strength and scream. When child birth did become a spectator sports? Whatever the case, I said to myself we were next. I wish I never heard and imagined what was coming. Ignorance is bliss.

4:00 hrs, one of the generals ordered to prepare for missile launch. She's reached 10 cm.

I’ll pay more just to make child birth as accurate as a missile lift-off, a procedure that follows a countdown. Child birth is very primitive, the duration of the labor heavily depended on how strong the mom pushes the baby out. Besides, pushing a baby out is not second nature. Mothers don't push babies out everyday. Pushing is a learned response.

My spotter instinct came into play. Remember when you helped somebody in the gym to push a heavy bench press. The spotter ensures the safety of the lifter and the same time encouraging to push more. Encouraging my wife to push was like exercising. Lifting weights is partly psychological. I don't know if my encouragement helped.

6:00 hrs, the sun begun to rise and the two sergeants were encouraging Joy to push more because they wanted to see the baby before their shifts end. The pushing has been going on for almost 3 hours already. I don’t know if the nurses really want to see the baby or they just wanted to go home without rendering overtime (their shift ends 7 AM). Natalia jokingly branded the baby as “trouble maker”, since my little one was suppose to come out June, and insisted to get out early. And now he has the opportunity to come out, he’s bailing out.

6:30 hrs, Dr. Ross came in and asked for updates, just like how any good General operates. Sensing it was taking long and stressing the baby, she ordered the vacuum, to suck the baby out. At the same time, Natalia heated the little elevated bed for the baby (Koji’s profile picture of this blog was taken on that small bed). The baby is coming out no matter what.

Then the General ordered to remove the second half of the bed. She took a stool and sat down at the end of the bed as the baby's head come in an out. This time, the head is getting bigger, with the hair covered with blood.

The vacuum came in and the General assessed the situation again. She hesitated to use the vacuum and pondered on what to do next, a bewildered commander. The two sergeants were waiting for orders. Then Dr. Ross' decided to let Joy do the work since the baby's heart rate was around 150 beats per minute, an indication that the baby is still strong and capable to handle the stress. Joy doubled her exertion to push.

The most efficient way to push the baby out is with the aid of the contraction. Since the anesthesia numbed her lower body, she can’t feel the contraction. She asked me when the contraction is coming through the monitor. When one was coming, she was like the other mom on the other room, 4 hours ago. Her mighty shadow came out.

10 minutes before 7 Am, there was chaos. Emilio version 2.0 came out and Dr. Ross catched the healthy baby in her arms. Blood were everywhere, it was a blur.

Minutes later, I followed the baby to the nursery. Just like in the movies, you watched the newborn baby outside the room, behind the glass window. Back at the delivery room, a Filipina nurse was assisting Joy and cleaning the blood sputter in the floor. I called my parents and texted my friends.

10:00 hrs., I took the baby out of the nursery so Joy can breastfeed her. Suddenly, the alarm sounded and the door in front of us closed. The monitor attached to mini-Emilio triggered the commotion. It was the hospital’s precautionary measure to prevent babies from being stolen.

Well, this is my baby, I said to myself while pushing the baby cart back to the office. My blood runs in his veins. This is my Emilio version 2.0, an upgrade, with better and slicker design, more memory storage and processing power.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Careful What You Wish For

Before, my life (or the lack thereof) was an 8-5 rat race. After finishing college, I was ready to climb the corporate ladder. It turned out, the ladder was not for me (or should I build a ladder?)

The office hours brought my diversions to a halt, my soccer and reading. After school hours at UPLB, I played soccer, and being a student, you have access to the library to read the newspapers. I like to read. One of my favorite was PDI's Young Blood section. When I came to NEC to work, reading wasn't part of the job description. So, most of the time, I took the discarded newspaper from the janitors. It wasn't even a local newspaper, it was the Wall Street Journal, Asian version. But who cared, there was still sports and other sections to read.

Today, I do read---a lot, since I'm preparing for my Ph.D. oral qualifying exam after downing the written part early this year. Preparing for this kind of test is overwhelming. Digesting and absorbing a lot of information in three months is mind boggling.

Graduate school is a life of its own. Preparing for the processes to be a full pledge doctor is difficult and nerve wrecking. Here's how he process goes: The committee members ask you questions after presenting your research proposal, and they ask you things from the very basic to the very complicated related to your field. Then after a barrage of questions, they decide if you are ready for Ph. D. The only way out is read and read and read again months before. You aren't called an expert for nothing.

I do read now. Not much newspapers, but some blogs and books, and numerous scientific journals. You just be careful what you wish for.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Meeting with The Boss II

Technically, my graduate adviser, my adviser in papers, is going to retire before I will finish my Ph.D. So I have two adviser, the younger one that I met yesterday and the older one that I met today.

The older more experienced adviser basically wanted to check on my progress and the problems encountered on my research. Meeting with experts is like having somebody open a flashlight in a dark trail. This light-bulb-eureka moments made me think of different avenues to pursue, since research is a venture to the unknown. The more unknown avenues you visit, the more likely you have results. But with the help of expert ideas, you are hoping to nail down the best avenue in the least possible time.

Next week, my advisers will be going to the Netherlands, at the FOM-Institute for Plasma Physics, to do some experiments. Why go there? Because one of the best LASER is found in the Netherlands (one in France and Japan). It's the Hubble Telescope of Infrared Spectroscopy.

I'm hoping (and praying) I will be going to that place to do research next year. Hoping. Right now I'm thinking of doing some experiments at the National High Magnetic Field Lab, just 2-hour ride from my school. It's a nice facility at our own backyard.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Meeting With The Boss

photo from wikipidia

Being a graduate student means you are free to do and implement your ideas for experiment, sort of an independent research. But there's no such thing as independent research, at least in my opinion. You still need to meet with your graduate adviser to discuss your progress and check if what you are proposing is feasible in the realm of science and the latest technology. Besides, your adviser is the expert, his line of thinking is very different from the student.

I been working with an expensive (expensive over-all and its maintenance, a superconducting magnet that needs to be cool down 24/7) instrument for over a year now, and I thought I know most of the tricks. In turns out I don't. My boss told me about signal to noise ratio, the resolution, the nyquist criteria, zero filling and apodize. I know it sound like a different language but I'm blogging this to remind me that education is a continuous process.

You learn new things everyday.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008


I bought this book during my visit back to the Philippines, as recommended by my cousin. The book is funny, detailed and very interesting. The book is, in my humble opinion, the Filipino version of "What I learned in school, I already learned from kindergarten". No offense to both authors.

After reading the book, it made me wonder how I survived those years: The elementary school years when we ate ice candies during our recess, or the college days, when I went basically AWOL and dismissed from the premiere institution of the Philippines. Instead of a regular 4-year course, I took the long way. My only on-time classes were P.E. and CMT. My roommate once said, "the more you stay in college the more you appreciate life". I found comfort and wisdom to those misleading words.

After a dismal semester, I went back with a vengeance and earned my degree. 7 years after, who would believe I'm now pursuing a Ph.D. You'll never know.

During my lackluster college days, lackluster in terms of grades, I traded off the classroom knowledge with things never taught from the books, increasing my street IQ ;). Those where my bulakbol days.

Now I can relate to my students, students who doesn't want to study chemistry. They are just taking the class because it's required. They will soon grow up, just like me. You just don't want to end up in their operating table in the near future when these guys become doctors. Or don't want to pass through a bridge or stay in a building they will build as an engineer.

But honestly, after those years in school, we did ok right? Read the book reminisce the old days of schooling.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Tipping Point's message

After reading the book "Tipping Point", I made myself a summery of what I learned from the book.

1. Tipping point is part of the umbrella science of epidemiology, of how a virus spread such as epidemics of cholera or TB. Instead of hard medical science, it's part of a soft science such as psychology.

2. Smoking, a viral video, HIV, fashion I believe is a complicated science. There are many variables to consider, not adding the hidden variables.

3. The spread of smoking is like the spread of a viral video. You just need to know the variables involved. So if you are in the business of marketing, a viral video will be a good platform for spreading your ad. But how many viral videos succeed? The reason why viral ideas don't spread can be attributed some hidden variables.

4. Tipping point or a spread of idea will always be a part of civilization. We've seen the spread of smoking epidemics. Here's I believe are the things that the book didn't mentioned the spread of Columbine style shooting. It was followed by Virginia Tech. How many more are coming?

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Revenge of the Nerds

I was sporting a shirt which has a print in front saying "NERD" and in the back of the shirt is booger and the number 69.

Man, this is a classic movie but some of my friends don't know the movie, specially my students in my lab. Checking the profiles of my students from Facebook, their birthdays explained why. Most of my students were born 1987-89, and Revenge of the Nerds came out 1981.

You are getting old if the movie you watched before are classified classic already. Remember when you first heard the music of Frank Sinatra from your Grandpa's collection? You gave your grand pa the weird look. That's probably what happened with my students also. What the hell is the connection between nerd and booger?

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Quote from Facebook

Most of my friends in Facebook were former students of mine here at UF.
Here's one of the cool quote I read after browsing their personal pages.

“A guy and a girl can be just friends, but at one point or another, they will fall for each other...Maybe temporarily, maybe at the wrong time, maybe too late, or maybe forever”

Friday, July 18, 2008

Lessons in blogging

I've been following a blog of a venture capitalist for sometime now. In his blog days ago, he said,

"in order to win in blogging, you have to show up everyday"

Reading blogs is my way of connecting to people I don't know and absorb their ideas, just like reading the Young Blood section of the Philippine Daily Inquirer. I blog because I like writing, and I promised myself today that I will try to write a blog everyday.

Let me rephrase that, I will blog everyday. They said it is either you DO or you DON'T, there's no in between such as "try".

Friday, July 11, 2008

Bjorn Again

Bjorn Again is a concert and at the same time the name of the band. Bjorn was one of the original member of the up beat Swedish band known as ABBA. I watched it with my dad at the Philips Center here at the University of Florida.

I'm an alternative music type kind of guy that listen more of the '90s Extreme, Mr. Big and Matchbox 20. But in the end, the show was still nostalgic and fun. I do believe Abba's a genius and here's my point: if you take for example this lyrics from the song Mama Mia, it is a classic love-hate relationship written in a poem but actually it's music.

Mamma mia, here I go again
My my, how can I resist you?
Mamma mia, does it show again?
My my, just how much I've missed you
Yes, I've been brokenhearted
Blue since the day we parted
Why, why did I ever let you go?
Mamma mia, now I really know,
My my, I could never let you go.

Here's another point, the music was made into a movie this year, 30 years after they disbanded.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Manny Pacquiao

My foot hurt last week and went to the infirmary. As I was waiting for the Physician, I read a "forwarded email" type description of our school's mighty quarterback Tim Tebow. I adapted it for Manny.

What color is Manny Pacquiao's blood? It is a trick question, the Pacman doesn't bleed.

Pacquiao's tears can cure cancer ---but he's never cried

The primary ingredient of Red Bull is Manny Pacquiao's sweat

Omega pain killer too weak for Pacman, he goes underneath the magma of the earth

Life doesn't give Manny Pacquiao lemons, life ask what fruit Pacman wants

Manny Pacquiao doesn't bowl strike. He just hit one pin and the others faint

When Manny Pacquiao does a push up, he's actually pushing the earth down and not pushing himself up.

Some people wears superman pajama, superman wears Pacquiao's pajama

There are no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, Manny leaves in the Philippines

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Tipping Point Tidbits

"Have you ever thought about yawning? Yawning is surprisingly powerful act. Just because you read the word 'yawning' in the previous sentences --and two additional 'yawns' in this sentence--a good number of you will probably yawn with in the next few minutes. Even as I was writing this, I've yawned twice. If you're reading this in a public place, and you've just yawned, chances are that a good proportion of everyone who saw you yawn is now yawning too...

Yawning is incredibly contagious"

I read this book in the mall, and I yawned too. This will be my fourth book to read this year.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Happy Birthday America

I'm not an American, but stayed here for 8 years now as a student. Being a graduate student of chemistry, my inclination towards history is slim. But, I learned a lot of American history through watching stand-up comedians joked about the American history.

My history 'lessons' are of course backed up by watching History channels. Learning should be fun, that's why I remembered the facts of history through stand-up comedy. And after some thoughts, I realized, America is still a very young country, compared to its European counterparts.

Happy Birthday America.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Blackberry or iPhone

(my old Palm Zire 72)

I'm contemplating of retiring my Palm Zire 72 as my Personal Digital Assistant (PDA) and replace it with a Blackberry or an iPhone. My Palm was mainly used as my reminders and writing my thoughts. But lately, the Palm batteries are dying so fast and needs a longer life battery.

Lately also, I been reading ebooks and mainly journals from chemistry in the dark. This what happens when you are watching your baby in dimmed lights and you need to catch up with some papers to review.

Blackberry or iPhone?

Friday, June 13, 2008


The glamour years of chess was the '80s, when Kasparov and Karpov battled each other for the title. The last well known chess master was Bobby Fisher. I still remember the days when I open up the sports page and follow the moves listed on the paper. I was still 11 or so, and steadily out grown my obsession to the game of chess.

I teach for a professor in chemistry, Dr. Horvath. Somebody told me that he was an internationally rated chess player. Good for him, but analyzing a game of chess inside the restroom while doing the thing you do is wierd. That's what he does anyway.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Counter Intuition

Common sense tells you this, counter intuition is the opposite.

I was watching a self defense instructor last night in a National Geographic channel. She said that in order to fend off an attacker, instead of pushing him away, move him close so you can grab his neck and throat. The thinking is counter intuitive.

Today I read a blog that says "Grand theft Auto", the violent video game, is actually good for your kids. That's coutner intuitive. Here's the link

here's another one

Counter intuition is useful in math, but I guess it is useful in real life too.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

On-the Job Training (OJT)

For the past days, my bosses were out of the country. My older Boss went to Hawaii for the summer break, then headed to the Netherlands for research. My younger adviser followed the same route, except for the Hawaii and the research part. So they're both in the Netherlands, the younger one visiting his girlfriend.

While they are out, I'm here in Gainesville with my 2 group mates. Both of my groupmates are eventually leaving this year, and since they have a combined 12 years experienced in research, I need to suck up all the knowledge and information that they can impart before I'm left on my own handling a high voltage, superconducting magnet with a delicate laser, just like a newbie, an OJT. These are expensive instruments that eat up a lot of electricity for the sake of science. Although I've handled this things before, I need more hands on experience to perfect my craft (just like today when power was interupted and trouble shooting was needed).

In a lighter side, my two group mates are very helpful. And they are both huge. I jokingly call them "the man" and "the tiger". The man is around 6' 5" tall, 300 lbs. Tiger is a smaller version. So you can imagine myself as the quarterback protected by the two offensive linemen. "The man" likes to work with the hard wares and "tiger" tinkers more on the software side. This explains why "tiger" has connection to several U.S. supercomputers housed at the Army, Naval and Air Force. He showed me a device that generates passwords every 40 seconds when he connects to secure computers to do his calculations.

Anyway, life goes on. Fortunately, they pay me for doing my OJT.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Facebook Stalk

(Note: the names in this blog are real, they were my students before)

Back in the Philippines, friendster is the most popular networking site. Sad to say, friendster is a dying breed.

Although friendster was one of the first in social network, the company can't catch-up with the big dogs, myspace and facebook, in terms of growth. But these are not the reasons I have a facebook account. It started when one of my students (His name is Alberth, Albert with an H) was asking me to make one.

At first, I was hesitant but eventually made one because Alberth coerced me every time I see him in the gym. But in the end, especially during the time when the grades are uploaded to the University's system, it became our (with my students) way of communication. Instead of receiving grievances and thank you through emails, notes are posted through the walls of facebook. In the walls of my facebook where Ryan, a Filipino-American, wrote how he enjoyed watching Rex Navarette's DVD (pronounced Dee-bee-dee).

Since it is an effective way of communication, I made a group in facebook so my students can join. In this way, posting an announcement is like posting in a bulletin board -- everybody can read the particulars anytime of the day in the comfort of their own rooms (Amanda was right, facebook is a viable and practical way to do classroom business).

During the semesters, facebook is a life-line, and when the classes end, when it's time to bid adios and sayonara, good-byes are ended by tagging, "I'll just facebook you". The phrase is equivalent to saying "I'll keep in touch". Remember when Xerox, Kodak or Band-aid became a verb, such as the phrase "xerox the paper" meant "photocopy the paper" (at least back in the Philippines, that's what it meant), facebook is now a verb. I'll wait when the linguists enter the word facebook to a dictionary.

Goodbyes also are tagged with words such as "I'll facebook stalk you". Facebook stalking may sound like a joke but it wasn't for one of my student Ashley. She told me she deleted her account because her high school classmate was stalking her in facebook, leaving remarks to her wall. The remarks became offensive. Isabel commented that people spend way to much in facebook. "It's addicting", Erin added.

I will stalk facebook. What I mean by that is I will wait and see when the facebook company becomes public. If the stock price is right during its IPO (Inital Public Offering), I'll buy some. Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerburg will be the new Bill Gates, at least in my opinion. The company is expanding too. Have you ever heard of dogbook or catbook? And besides, I want facebook to stay around, I want to know in the future if some of my students live to their promises, that is to be a neurosurgeons.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Oral Exam Preparation

The nerve wrecking part of being a graduate student, is the preparation for oral qualifying examinations. Traditional education, such as classroom learning is simple: students pass the tests and they go on to the next level. Graduate students suffer differently, because you have to pass an oral qualifying exam.

I am preparing for my oral qualifying. After my committee members decide that I do have enough knowledge to continue my research, then I'm on to the next level which is a Ph.D. candidate. Right now, I'm reading anything related to my research: FT-ICR, OPO Laser and IR Laser. I take notes the fundamentals and basic of mass spectrometry, how a laser works and how is the laser useful for chemical analysis. The notes is color coded: Dirty white papers for anything mass spectrometry, Orange for anything OPO Lasers and red for Infrared related.

Passing this test requires a laser-like focus and concentration, an efficiency and strategy of a five star general, adding the analytical and methodical way of a neurosurgeon. You are not called a Ph.D. or an expert just for nothing. Suffer just like any other graduate students, as one of my friend described it as pretty hard, dude (Ph.D.)

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Physician's Assistant

I hurt myself playing basketball. My shoulders have limited range of motion, so I set up an appointment with a Physical Therapist at the student health center. Instead, a Physician's Assistant (PA) came to the rescue.

I have nothing against a PA, but being a PA doesn't make you an expert in shoulder injuries. I have to explain what is really going on: my range of motion (ROM) is limited, I'm protecting my shoulder in certain ROM.

In the end, he referred me to sports injury specialist (One of my dream job!!). I just wondered about the United States and the way they handle health business. People do specialize (Pediatrician, Neurosurgeon and all these experts), but in the end, they also un-specialized, such as Physician's Assistant (PA) or a nurse aid. Is the U.S. just lazy that every field needs an assistant?

Just my perspective.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

The Projects

The projects is a derogatory word for a dwelling. In the U.S., it's a housing project based on family income. I brought this up because, from the nice Windmeadows gated apartment, we are going back to a place subsidized by the government, the University Housing.

The place is family oriented though, if there are some consolations. But my new place is old. The ceilings, the rooms and bath. I left Windmeadows last night, and I can really feel the difference. And I was so tired moving I ended up sleeping in a sofa of a friend.

Just a thought, back in the Philippines, I moved only probably 3 times (in my college and work days). Here, I been in the U.S. for almost 6 years only and almost every year I moved (4 times already).
After returning my keys to the management (gym, mail, gate and home keys), I turned to the beautiful pool beside the club house. It's summer, and gorgeous girls in bikinis are working at their tans, worshiping the sun and relaxing.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Group Presentation

I just finished my presentation, a scientific paper presented to the members of my research group. I'm telling you, even though it's a little bit informal compared to presenting your data in a conference, group presentation is tough.
The paper is about LASER and chemical analysis. LASERs are the domain of people who love numbers. I do love numbers but not to the extent that it becomes very abstract. One of my friend told me that if you work with LASERs, you should be very patient (infinite patient maybe), because you are dealing with small light.
Although I would say that I didn't ace the talk, the bright side was, I learned a lot. With four experts asking you questions - it's not fun - but very informative.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Too many books, very little time

The good thing about Gainesville is that the place is a university/town/small city. This means that the place is a crossroad for people in their journey for education. When people come and go, books are left behind.

Friends of the Library (FOL) is an event in Gainesville (Fl) where you can buy cheap good books. This semester, I got a text-book for analytical chemistry. Once in a while, you need to read the basics of your field. On the list are books for tennis, baby books and something about Relativity (visualized discussion of relativity). One of my favorites is the paperback version of "Bourne Ultimatum" by Robert Ludlum.

"Bourne Series" is my favorite movie (and I believe Jason Bourne is America's favorite assasin too). The other book is about LASER, the story behind the inventor and the 30-year war for patent and royalty of his inventions. I'll be working with LASERs so I said to myself, why not read it then.
Completing the line-up is a book related to electronics (when you work with LASERs, you should know the basic of electronics) and eBay.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

One shining moment...

It's the time of the year when every college basketball fan will have to endure the song titled "One shining moment". The music had been a tradition for NCAA basketball, as the background music for CBS network.

One Shining Moment 2008 (Check it out before youtube removes it from the site)

My relationship with the song is mix: hate and love. Being an alternative music fan, the song's beat is painful to bear; however, the tune reminds of the the Florida Gators Basketball. I still remember last year, 2007, when the University of Florida (my beloved school) captured it's second straight NCAA basketball trophy.

Right after the game, when I opened the blinds in my apartment, I saw cars going to campus and heard loud honking. I didn't celebrate since I was in the streets of Gainesville the year before that. I should have celebrated the second championship. It will be a long drought ahead, before I will witness again the "one shining moment" clip with Florida Gator players in the video.

Here's the Florida Gators one shining moment, just in case.

2007 One shining moment

Friday, April 4, 2008

The SEARCH: How Googles and it's rivals rewrote the rules of business.

It starts with a computer hamming, then the blue sky in the background, then the typing. Remember those days when you first open up the computer and typed I do remember those days, around 1995 to 1996 (Internet was released to the public 1992).

This is my second book for the year 2008, and it's about search. What will the internet be without a search engine? It's hard to imagine. So the first thing you type in front of a computer (most likely) with an internet connection, is of course a search engine. I do Yahoo during those days, the banner ads then appear, and then the graphics are lost because the connection was slow. I didn't encounter until 2002, when I was already in the US (from the Philippines).

The book discussed how google came to be. Have you ever wonder what google means? It's a variation from the word googol, which means 1 followed by 100 zeros. In short a huge number. Too geeky? Try this, when google made public offerings for it's stock 4 years ago (2004), it sold 2,718,28 1,828 of its stocks. The numbers are not random, the numbers represent e (e=2.71828 18284 59045 23536), the natural logarithm.

The book concluded that there still no such thing as a perfect search. Search the web for "the meaning of life" and I bet you will be disappointed. Or search why "Julia loves Raymond", there's no perfect answer either. In the end, the book thought me how to do search: and that is, use yahoo and google or when you are searching for something. Every search engine is unique in terms of crawling, indexing and showing the results to the users.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

White men can't jump?

Recently, I been playing basketball with friends every saturday (check out this site, I may be playing :^}). Basketball is not my sports, soccer is my game (and occasional running). Since soccer is an outdoor game, and summer is right around the corner, I decided to play basketball.
Between you and me, I'm not good in playing basketball. I can dribble, pass and shoot, that's about it. Making the shots is a different story.
Week by week, I realized that I love to defend than to dribble the ball. In soccer, I love to defend more than weave into defenders. I love to take the ball from the person (or take the person from the ball, which is a foul and a last resort). That's me.
Observe the evolution of the game anyway, you will realize that basketball is a game for blacks . It's not about who defends best or scores how many points. If you are a basketball fan, the last great white professional basketball player was Larry Bird, circa 1980s. Nobody came close to him. What followed was a domination of great black players: Jordan, LeBron James, Grant Hill, Shaq etc. Although there are whites here and there (Steve Nash), their credentials were not comparable to Bird. Are whites incapable of jumping? If you agree, you will also conclude that blacks are not suppose to round the ice hockey. Almost all of the hockey players are white (except for Jerome Iginla, a mixed black-white).

Friday, March 28, 2008

"For all the things I lost, I missed my mind the most"

I watched the movie "Hackers" again. Surfing for scheduled programs to record in my HD TV., I came along with the old movie Hackers (starring Angelina Jolie).

The saying "For all the things I lost, I missed my mind the most" came from Ozzy Osbourne, the typical rebel-rocker of the 70's from the band "Black Sabbath". I'm not a Sabbath fan, I'm just amused by his saying, implying "sex, drugs and rock n roll" kind of lifestyle.

Hackers are viewed by people as rebel too. But in this case, they are the aloft and genius rebels that are anti-social. They are the ghost of the Internet, literally. They don't sleep. The walking zombies of our society, powered up by caffeine.

As life goes on, we as a society evolved to battle bad hackers: those kind of geniuses for the money, stealing identities. On the other side of the coin, there are good hackers. These are the kind of people who are curious.

Eventually though, hackers of the planet will grow-up, just like Ozzy Osbourne. They will settle and have families, and think about what have they done to the society.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

"Smack my ass and call me Sally"

Believe it, "Smack my ass and call me Sally" is a label for a hot sauce. My research groupmates decided to eat at Tijuana Flats today. Tijuana Flats is a Mexican restaurant that solely distribute the "Smack my ass.." hot sauce. Some of my friends jokingly refer to it as Tijuana Shits. But in all honesty, I like the food.

Anyway, every time I'm here, I order Chimichangas and the "Smack my ass.." hot sauce. As I was eating the food, I read the history of the establishment posted in the table napkin holder. It said that the founders were from UCF (University of Central Florida, my Alma mater, in Orlando Florida ). I finished my masters degree at that place, the only school who accepted me in the U.S. with financial support (currently though I'm finishing my PhD at the University of Florida).

After reading the history of the restaurant, I read the signs printed in the walls. It said "Mexican is a culture, not a theme" and "Hot is the new cool" ( I learned later it was part of their manifesto). Then I turned to my friend sitting next to me. I asked him what chimichangas are, since he was born in Mexico. He didn't know. I didn't care, I just savored the hotness of the food.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The SEARCH : History of the search engine

I'm an MS-DOS baby. If you don't know what MS-DOS operating system is, it's the predecessor of Windows. It's old school.

I realized MS-DOS is an ancient technology, after reading the book. Computer technology grow so fast. Although the book is not about the operating system, reading the history and battles of the search engines is like reading how operating systems evolved (and made money). I can't tell you much about the war between Microsoft and Apple; I'm too young to remember. Reading the evolution of the search engine in contrast is nostalgic, I was using the technology, during the growing years of the Internet.
It's a new world economy, but I never thought of the search engine as a business model. It's hard to conceptualize. It's not like the gold rush: gold is synonymous to money. And companies who didn't understand how search engines could be made as a source of income, those companies were doomed.
Who were the casualties of war? If you were old enough to witness the growth of the internet, in one time or another you heard about,, (I'm not familiar with this, but it was acquired by yahoo),, and Yahoo is still alive (and struggling). These companies were mentioned in the book, and I was using these search engines before.
Nostalgic. You know why? I just visited those sites a while ago, and the designs of the sites are reminiscing of the late 1990s. Those were the days.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Blue Ray vs. HD DVD

The war is over. I mean the war between High Definition (HD) format for DVD players (remember Betamax and VHS formats? If those name don't ring a bell, you're too young).
Sony (and many others) were waging the blue ray banner while Toshiba was fighting for HD DVD. If I was a stock broker and gambled between the two formats, I could have lost a lot of money because I own a Toshiba Laptop and I have the natural inclination to bet for HD DVD, I could have bet for HD DVD. Thank God I'm a consumer, I can wait and see ( I was following the battle since I have an HD TV).
I'm so fascinated by people who makes money through the stock market. Essentially, trading in Wall Street is betting. And betting, as I was told when I was a child, is bad. I was told there's no money in gambling. But how about stock brokers?
By the way, you know why Blu-Ray won the battle? It's because Sony incorporated Blu-Ray players in their Playstations. This is the same reason Microsoft (MS) crashed Netscape, Microsoft packaged the Internet Browser in the same product MS distributes, the Microsoft Windows. Unfair? Some people consider it a genius plan. Some call it an evil approach.

Thursday, March 20, 2008


Although people from the snowy region welcome spring with very open arms (and why not, February's bitter cold is nasty), spring time for me is a torture: running nose, red eyes and sneezing, makes my life miserable.

I assumed before that allergies are for the weak (weak immune system, that is), and when I came here in the U.S. five years ago, I never had allergies from pollen. I told myself, pollution from the streets of Manila made my immune system strong. No need for anti-histamines, such as Claritin.

My immune system grew weak or the pollen counts in Florida increased, because about 2 years ago, I developed symptoms of allergies. It's either my system became weaker or pollen increased, I really don't know. It's probably not the two reasons I stated, much more a combination of both.

As long as it doesn't interfere with my work, I stay away from Claritin. So far, my strategy works. I just increase my tissue paper consumption and my travel to the restrooms.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Blink part II

I finished reading the book titled Blink. If I summarize the book, and it's content, the theme lies in our unconscious level of decision making. Very scientific in it's discussion? It's just our bias in judgement, even though you say consciously that you are not bias.
In other words, it's what Larry Bird calls "he's in the zone" (not mentioned in the book) because he have good "basketball court sense", or why we have bias towards a black person. I never knew about the New Coke product until I read it from a Reader's Digest, and I never knew why the product failed until now, when the book discussed the fateful market research.

Blink showed me that little information is the same as more information: you just reach for the most important piece of information. On the other hand, armed with limited pieces of information can also be disastrous. You look at the whole story before judging. Although in some cases (such as when a police encounters a life and death situation, where milliseconds count), you don't have the luxury of time, snap judgements can be useful, but with caution.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Reality TV

Reality TV is probably dying. People are frustrated watching "reality" on TV anymore.

As I was scanning the channels, I came upon a show called "Keeping up with the Kardashios" (or something). As I was watching, I concluded, the show was clearly under the supervision of a director. It wasn't smooth flowing just like any other real life.

Better watch March Madness even without Florida.

Monday, March 17, 2008


The thing about research is that most of the time, you are frustrated with the outcome. Scientific method is not an algorithm or flow-chart everybody follows. Research is not just a map to follow, because most of the time, you are frustrated. It's part of research, you're expecting the road, but in reality, it's not there. You formulate your hypothesis again.

My frustration started early morning when I was expecting good results but never came. Afternoon passed by and nothing good happened. So, I just shake the day off, work again probably wednesday.

Patience. Infinite patience. It's a virtue you should have if you embark on a career in science.


Friday, March 14, 2008


Don't quote me here, but an average person reads 3-4 books a year. I always try to beat the average, so I started looking for a book to read this year. As I was waiting in a mall, I was scanning and reading "Tipping Point" in a bookstore. The book caught my attention. Since I don't want to buy the book, I went to the public library the next day to look for "Tipping Point". Unfortunately, the book is still in loan, so I ended up with "Blink". If there's a consolation, the books had the same author.

What's "Blink"? It's a premise that people think without really thinking. Call it gut feelings or instincts. I haven't finished the book yet, but the story line goes that experts can tell something before testing things in the laboratory.

I remembered asking my adviser if my data was real or not, and by looking at the figure, he concluded it's not real and only a noise. He was right. That's blink in action.

Love moves in mysterious ways

Few days before February 14 this year, I received an emails from my friends from the Philippines. They were organizing a date for dateless individuals, or planning to. It was sort of consoling themselves for being loveless in the day of love. Sound pathetic, but the situation resembles that of a senior high school girl frantically looking for a date at a senior prom. Re-imagine Pretty in pink the movie --but not the teen age girls but ladies looking for a mid-life romance.

May, a long time acquaintance, emailed me an article, asking me if I still remember what I wrote. If blogging existed 7 years ago, the article will be in my blog. The unpolished article was about love and trying to explain love through science (and that explains why I'm in graduate school, I like science but I'm not geeky). After reading and examining my long lost article (thanks May), I realized how 7 years made a difference in how I write and how I presented my ideas.

Anyway, in the span of 7 years, I still wonder why May is still loveless. She's cute, hot, easy to get along with and some other superlatives you can think of. If I was betting money on among my friends, gambling on who will tie the knot in 7 years, May is one of my friends I'll put money into. If I did, I lost.

At the rate life is going, I think she's not frustrated and will soon find one. Love moves in a mysterious ways, just read on the link (this one's for you May, Divine or Mayang, whichever you want me to call you). I got it from the Reader's Digest Feb Edition.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Temporary inconvenience

I went to my mechanic to do some oil and filter change, so with the car's over-all check up. Everytime I go to this guy, we discuss things not related to cars (but most of the time, about cars). It was last October when I paid him a visit, and as far as I can remember, he was to contemplating to divorce his wife.

He still remembered my advice ever since, that "there are no problems in this world, only temporary inconvenience". I told him to stick around and work the relationship out. The moment he saw me, he remembered the temporary inconvenience thing, what he cannot remember is his counter argument to my advice.

I can't remember also his counter argument, however; he stuck around with her wife with some conditions. Now, that's not love anymore if there are conditions. My car was ok though.

To Denver

Actually, I'm not going because my wife is expected to deliver our baby this June, the same time the conference in Denver.

The conference is about Mass Spectrometry, the tool I used to detect and analyze chemicals. I wish I could be there and visit Denver, but I'm just tired of travel. I've been to the Philippines for a vacation and the travel beat me down bad.

I'm looking forward though for the next conference or conferences. For now, I'll gather more data and collaborate with other researchers. Who knows, I'll be going to Netherlands for special research at the FELIX (free electron laser for infrared experiments) institute (cross fingers), one of the few institutes with free electron laser.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Can we extend life past 100 yrs.?

Healthy aging is an oxymoron, period. You don't want to get old and then your body starts to disintegrate with high blood pressure, arthritis, cancers, diabetes and heart diseases. Getting old is not fun. After suffering and battling the diseases, we glamorize death as if it's a wedding. The truth is, we don't have any options but face death. Do we have other options?

What if technology offers you a quality life past 100 yrs, will you be willing to accept it? Imagine, you were born 100 years ago, you can proudly say "Yap, I experienced World War I, World War II, the Cold War, the Iraq War, the Beatles, Michael Jordan, Cell Phones and the Internet".

What technologies are coming next? "Jumper's" teleportation? I don't know. Most likely, the breakthrough in genetic engineering. We may live past 100 years . If you are under 40 years old today, computational models are spitting out data that you may. Technology is becoming more and more sophisticated. Whether you are prepared or not, it will still continue to grow. Were you prepared of technologies like cell phones and the internet before? Many more are coming.

Down to 167 lbs

Numbers don't lie, and I'm down to 167 lbs from 170. How about that? The good thing about achieving goals early is that it is a good motivational factor: If I did it this week, I can do it next week.

Losing 3 lbs. is within the range of your hydration. You can increase your weight by a glass of water. I know somebody, a professional triathlete, loses 10 lbs. in a hard training of running and biking. I'm not a professional triathlete, I only lose 3 lbs the most in a hard run.

Nevertheless, 3 lbs is 3 lbs.

It's the hormone, damn it!

One time, I was riding my bike to my work and passed by teenage girls waiting for the yellow school bus. The bus if I'm not mistaken, is nicknamed the "cheese box". Anyway, I'm not blogging about the "cheese box", I'm blogging what I've heard from the teens. They were discussing birth control pills.

As I was closing in near the waiting shed, I heard a hush from one student, to signal the group somebody is approaching. They didn't realized that I heard the conversation loud and clear even before they spotted me. The calm winds have ears.

I'm blogging this because CNN reported 1 out of 4 teenage girls has STD. How can the government counter these problems? Education and awareness? probably. Or is it high time now to revamp the educational system? Middle school was separated from elementary school and high school, because middle school students experience rapid sex hormone increase.

What can we do? Good parenting, education and awareness. The most important: administrator in education should do something revolutionary and clever ways to decrease the statistic.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Water contamination (but what's in your milk?)

(Thanks to Dr. Cooks of Purdue University)
CNN reported yesterday that water supplies of around 40 million Americans are contaminated by low levels of pharmaceutical drugs. When I was reading the news, I remembered my friend who vowed to drink only spring water (bottled Evian) and eat only organic food.

Because the high price of eating only organic food made me snob the idea of healthy living by drinking only spring water and organic food. But it dawned to me why my friend (who was a personal trainer) acted that way. My question is, what's the effect of these chemicals in our body in the long run? Will the data become clear only after I'm old and the damages are irreversible?

I can't afford the organic lifestyle, but I stopped eating burgers after watching "Fast Food Nation". I been trying to eat organic food such as carrots (taste sweet), squash and coffee:), but I'm not totally organic.

I'm an analytical chemist, and I saw data of milk contaminated with artificial growth hormones. Did the water contamination hoopla scared me? A bit, that's why I'm more vigilant on what food I put in my mouth. In addition, I wash my hands frequently after working with chemicals in my laboratory.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Increasing caloric expenditure

Our bodies are product of billion years of evolution. If you think back how our ancestors lived a long time ago, they were very active. They have to hunt in order to eat or escape from predators hunting them. It's an active lifestyle no doubt.

Our lifestyle, and not our body, evolved so fast to computers, cars, grocery stores and the internet. We are not running away anymore from predators and hunt in order to live, instead, we work to pay the bills. Unfortunately, our body is still in the active, primitive mode, that's why we need to exercise.

There are a lot of things to do in order to increase your caloriec expenditure: use the stairs instead of the elevator, park your car away from your office in order to walk and all of those good things you've heard before. Mine is simple, I use the bike going to my laboratory and if i use the bus, I walk two blocks to the next bus stop.

My preciuos bike in the middle
of high tech research instruments

Thursday, March 6, 2008

You only see what the headlight can reach

(Note: That's me at the right warming up at my apartment complex' fitness room. I'm warming up by reading a science magazine with my navy cap.)
This day is part of the single step Confucius refers to his "thousand mile journey". The variation is that you can only see what the light of your car can reach, however; by small steps, you will arrive at your destination. I push myself to workout, wake up early in the morning and sleep early the night before.
This single step is crucial because you want your body to adapt the active lifestyle that you want. You can't get up of bed early in the morning if your body is not use to it. So what I usually do in the first few weeks is adjust. Adjust your waking habits and sleeping patterns. Science said that the optimal hours of an adult is 7.5 hours. I target 8 hours: sleep at 10 PM and wake-up at 6 AM, coffee and then workout.
How do I wake up early? Motivation. You should have a burning desire to workout.
How do I wake up early? Sleep early. Turn off all distractions around 10 PM. Pain of Discipline, or pain of regrets? You take your pick.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

So, you want to lose weight?

Weight loss is tricky. Even so, follow my journey as I plan to lose weight this year, 20-lbs to be exact. That will be my goal. Currently, the weighing scale measures 170 lbs. In the end of this year, it will be 148-150 lbs. If my calculations are correct, that's 10% body fat. (Compare that to Lance Armstrong of only 5%).

I'm not an elite athlete, I'm a regular mortal like you. My weight has always been my concern.

To achieve my goals, I'm using my tools and gizmos; motivation, technology, science, calorie counting and dealing with frustrations. I'll be losing weight in my busiest year ever, because of a baby coming in June and an oral examination, a requirement to become a Ph.D. candidate. Top that with frustrating (but exciting) research.

At this stage of the battle, my knees are not yet ready for the pounding of running so I'll be using the fitness first elliptical machine at my apartment complex's fitness room (pix on above left). It is a small room but it serves the purpose of burning calories. Don't get me wrong, I like big gyms, but the fitness room in my complex is a little bit convenient.

It's just the start. I lost weight before, I will be doing it again. Next year, I'll be running the Disney Marathon then.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

My Navy Cap

I'm not a U.S. Navy nor served the Navy. I got the cap at a recruiting station when the Iraqi War broke out 3-4 years ago . It's not that I want to be a poser, it's just the cap fit so good in my head that I use it for workout or during early mornings to cover my out- of-bed-look hair.

But using the cap doesn't free you from strangers asking "Are you still in the Navy?"or "Were you in the Navy?". I just say no to those questions. One time, in a public library, one person asked me the question, and he said he served in the Navy and very proud of his services.

Sometimes though, just for fun, those questions teased me to respond, "yeah, I served in the Navy". But what if there were follow-up questions, such as what ship were you stationed to and what rank. USS Wisconsin and just a cook will be my answers (USS stands for United States Ship).

To tell you the truth, I won't do that. If I want to serve the army, I'll go for the Air Force, and not in the field of battle, but probably a researcher.

Nowadays, you can't wear a Chicago Bulls cap without being asked if you are a Bulls fan.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Don't pound your knees

If you are considering loosing weight and jump straight to running and dieting, it's a sure way of ruining your knees,specially if you are 10 to 20 lbs overweight than your ideal weight.
What I suggest, if you have a gym membership, is to use an elliptical machine instead. I know it's an intimidating piece of equipment and the movement is so unnatural, but the exercise removes the pounding from your knees. You can workout longer, compared to running, and in the end, you can do more.
I've seen substantially overweight people trying to run in the treadmill, and honestly felt bad for their knees. The idea is, loose some weight from the elliptical machine then graduate to running. I've been there.
Our knees, through evolution, wasn't designed to support heavy work loads (such as extra pounds in a long run). Take care of your knees, it's not fun when you get old.

Saturday, March 1, 2008


(Blogger's note: This is not my piece but this well written journal captured my sentiments about Los Banos, that's why I grabbed this one from an e-mail. I worked in Calamba before, a 40-60 minutes commute from LB, but I opted to stay in Los Banos, for same reasons below. If this happens to be yours or you know who wrote this, e-mail me to acknowledge you)

But it's always you I run home to, take me back, take me home away from here back to where I am free" -"LosBanos" by Sugarfree

Dalawang oras mula sa usok-infested streets of Metro Manila matatagpuan ang aking personal heaven dito sa mundo. Matanaw ko pa lang ang Mt. Makiling mula sa South Superhighway, kinikilig na ako. Wala naman akong girlfriend sa LB. Lalo nang wala ding boyfriend. Kahit ka-fling na pwedeng balikan, wala naman akong pupuntahan. Pero yung feeling pwede mong itulad sa pagpunta mo sa bahay ng mahal mo matapos ang isang buwang walang pag-uusap o pagkikita.

Nasa LB ang org ko, pero hindi naman kami close ng mga orgmates, actually parang iwas pa nga sila sa kin e. Nandito sa Metro Manila ang mga kaibigan ko. Nasa Pasig ang pamilya ko. Wala naman akong ancestral roots sa Los Banos. Mayroon lang talagang hindi maintindihang connection sa pagitan ko at ng napakagandang lugar na to.

Bakit kaya ako napaibig sa Los Banos?

Suspect: Yung environment.

Kasi sa umaga, ang sarap langhapin ng hangin. Ang sarap panligo nung mainit na tubig na lumalabas sagripo. Lalo na pag may matinding hangover, ang sarap pantanggal ng sakit ng ulo. Lalabas ka ng bahay,maririnig mo yung iba't-ibang huni ng mga ibon. Dadampi sa mukha mo yung lamig ng simoy ng hangin, at didikit sa sapatos mo yung damo na nabasa sa hamog.

Hindi ko kayang lakarin ang Ayala Avenue from EDSA to Buendia, pero pag sa LB, kahit doblehin pa yung same distance, wala akong reklamo. Kahit ilang milyong bumbilya pa ang ilagay mo sa mga building ng Makati ,walang tatalo sa napakagandang backdrop ng LB, ang Mt.Makiling . Minsan magtataka ka, sa isang araw na walakang makikitang ulap, makikita mong nakatambay ang mga clouds sa tuktok ng bundok na ito.

Suspect: Yung pagkain.

Wala namang pinagkaiba yung pagkain sa LB kumpara sa Manila e. Sa totoo lang, hindi din ako madalas kumainn g buko pie. Madaming kainan sa LB, pero ginawa kong suspect yung pagkain kasi napamahal talaga ako sananay ko dahil siya yung araw-araw na nagluluto ng laman-tiyan ko. Kung gagawa ako ng list ng "The BestLB Food", nasa menu ko ang mantika-licious Ellen's Fried Chicken, yung Pinoy-style siomai sa Papu's, yung, Doner Durum (LB version ng shawarma), yung dinuguan na binebenta sa Lapitan's Meat Shop, yung chocolate cake ng Mer-Nel's, yung tokwa sa IC's bar, at syempre ang aking all-time favorite na Bug-Ong Roasted Chicken. May natikman pa akong bagong panalong chibog, yung sa Ihaw Express na malapit sa WhiteHouse.

Kahit sinong taga-LB ang tanungin ninyo, sasabihin nya na mas masarap ang Lucky Me Pancit Canton na niluto sa LB kesa sa niluto sa kung saang lugar.
Suspect: Yung inuman.
Kung magtatayo ka ng business sa LB na ayaw mong malugi, magtayo ka ng liquor shop o kaya ng affordable na bar. Dahil may kasabihan nga na "hindi ka taga-LB kung hindi ka marunong uminom". Madaming resto- bar sa LB, pero nothing beats the house parties. Bago pasumikat yung gin-pomelo sa Manila , yun na yung iniinom namin. Madami pa kaming nagawang kakaibang cocktail. Yung Kamehame Wave (vodka ice tea), yung POGi (pineapple orange gin), yung FuKiKo (fundador,hershey's kisses, tsaka kape), yung Boracay (Tanduay 3-in-1 coffee mix evap), at ang walang kamatayang PinaColaTa (pineapple coke tanduay).
Sa LB, mas maganda ang tagayan kaysa kanya-kanyangkuha ng inom. At shempre kulang ang inom pag walang home-made pulutan tulad ng Kilawing Cornick at ang sikat na sikat na Tuna-Skyflakes.

Suspect: Yung mga tao.
Ewan ko lang ngayon pero nung nandoon pa ako sa LB, walang social climber. Walang pa- sosyal dun. Yung mgagaling sa mga mayayayamang pamilya (conio in layman's terms), kailangang mag-fit in sa masa. Hindi importante ang porma. Kahit naka-pambahay na damit at tsinelas ka pag papasok, tanggap ka na ng lipunan. Kaya yung mga kilala ko na taga-UP Diliman dati, hindi ma-gets yung mga kwento ko kung gaano kami ka-barok sa UPLB. "How baboy naman the pig", ikanga nila.

Walang mapagkunwari sa LB. Siguro dahil nga small town lang to, lahat magkakakilala. Kung may pino-protektahan kang image, eventually, lahat ng baho mo lalabas din. Kaya mas magandang ilabas mo na yung totoong ikaw kasi mas mapapasama kung mabubuko kalang.

Suspect: Yung memories.

Ahhh. The memories. Siguro sa lahat ng suspect ko, etoang parang "Mastermind" . Pag nakasakay ako ng jeep sa LB, o kaya kahit naglalakad lang, hindi ko naiiwas ang tumingin sa isang bahay, sa isang bar, o sa isang kainan, at sabihin sa sarili ang mga bagay na tulad ng "uy, diyan yung first kiss ko sa 3rd girlfriend ko", o kaya "diyan sa bangketang yan natulog yung brod ko nung nalasing", o kaya "diyankami pinakitaan ng multo". Halos lahat ng lugar sa LB,may naiwan akong memory doon. May mga napalitang mga establishments, pero may itatayong bago na maaring pag-iwanan ulit ng alaala. Kung tutuusin, ang LB ay isang buhay na diary para sa kin. Bawat lugar, isangp pahina. Bawat araw, isang linya.

Madaming hindi nakakaintindi sa akin kung bakit pabalik-balik ako sa Los Banos, lalo na yung mga batchmates ko noong college. Lagi ko nang naririnigyung mga phrases na "Grow up", "Move on with yourlife", "Leave the past behind", "Wala ka na sa stageng buhay mo na college ka pa din". Masakit marinig, pero may point nga sila.

Kaya minsan, tinanong ko yung housemate ko na umuuwi sa LB every weekend. Sabi ko "bakit kaya ako bumabalik sa LB eh isinusuka na ako ng mga tao doon, wala naman akong binabalikan, wala naman akong napapala?"

At hinding-hindi ko makakalimutan ang sinabinya."Tinatanong pa ba yan? HOME. Home is where the heart is."