Friday, September 30, 2016

Professor Sugihara and his amazing optical illusions!

This is just mind-blowing. I've never seen an optical illusion like it! I mean, even when he turns the first "cylinder" around, my brain still can't quite grasp what is happening. :)

video uploaded in youtube by TheIllusioncontest

These ambiguous cylinder illusions were created by Professor Kokichi Sugihara from Meiji University, who  is known for his 3D optical illusions. The premise: because the human brain is capable of viewing a two-dimensional object in three dimensions, it can be fooled. Check out this other video for more of his amazing "sorcery":

video uploaded in youtube by NTDTV

Monday, September 26, 2016

September hodgepodge

I recently purchased a box of Tocino Del Cielo from Delize to take home to my family because I wanted to bring home a different type of dessert from the usual cakes, pastries, or donuts I buy. Tocino Del Cielo is like Leche Flan except that it doesn't have milk. A box of 24 costs P520 and we all enjoyed it. You can contact Delize through their mobile # 0922 826 2673).

Tocino Del Cielo from Delize

I'm not sure if it's all these sweets I've been eating but I also just recently chipped my tooth. I'm not sure how. As I was looking at myself in the bathroom mirror one night, I noticed that there seemed to be something stuck in between my teeth so I tried to scrape it off but as I did, a tiny bit of corner edge of my tooth came off. Ugh. It's not that obvious if you don't look closely. I'm in two minds now whether to have a dentist fix it (not sure how though, it's too small of a chip to warrant a jacket or crown I think) or to just leave it as it is.

Considering some recent big expenses though, maybe I will skip the tooth fixing for now. I also recently had pretty bad car trouble that required me to shell out lots of cash. It was similar to the problems I had a couple of years ago. Thankfully, Randy had now become our family car mechanic. I contacted him and he was able to have someone get my car. After three days, my car was up and running again.

I also made my first purchase on Lazada. It wasn't for me though, it was for my nephew who is really into music now and he wanted to get something for his guitar. When I made the purchase, I was informed that the delivery would be made between September 15 to 20 but as it turned out, I actually got the item on the 13th. Cool! I have been told that power banks are quite cheap on Lazada so maybe I will get power banks from there (and maybe give them as Christmas or exchange gifts).

Finally, no month would be complete without more board gaming. My friend Mike recently went to the US and decided to purchase board games there. He asked me if I wanted to add Race for the Galaxy to his order (I told him a while back that I had been planning to get that game) and I said yes. When he finally got back, that was the first game we played and we all enjoyed it. It helps too that it takes only about 30 minutes to play the game so it is easy to play. Mike in fact asked me if I wanted to just give him the game (meaning I didn't have to pay for it anymore) and for a second I thought about it but I decided that I wanted to have my own small contribution - I don't have any board games that I bring when we play! - so I decided to keep it.

Apart from that, I actually got play only one other game: Suburbia. That was really tough but very good, although I didn't do too well due to some tactical mistakes I made midway through the game. The reason I didn't get to play as many games as I normally do is that the gang decided to play an RPG one night instead of the traditional board games. I hadn't played an RPG since Dungeons and Dragons back when I was still a young kid. We played a game called Schauermarchen. The premise of this game is that you are all kids and when you wake up, you find yourself in what's looks to be a run-down and deserted town, where you are under threat from a man in a suit who seems to be killing all the children there. It was an interesting experience, especially since our game master Tobie was extremely good at running the game and keeping things moving and maintaining everyone's interest. I still prefer board gaming though, and there are already a couple of big board gaming weekends planned in October that I am definitely looking forward to.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Justin Alva of The Voice Kids Philippines

I missed the most recent season of The Voice Kids Philippines - season 3 - but I watched an episode of GGV a couple of weeks ago that featured the top 3 contestants. It was through that show that I became a fan of Justin Alva, the third placer. Early in the show, while he was singing, I noticed that his right hand, which he was using to hold the microphone, looked like it was missing some fingers. Later in the episode, as Vice Ganda was talking to him, he used the fact that he was born with only two fingers on his hand to make a joke. This prompted Vice to ask about it and his responses just showed a maturity well beyond his years. Check out that sequence in this video:

video uploaded by ABS-CBN Entertainment 

I assume it was this ability to manage his emotions that allowed him to sing successfully even while being distracted. An entertaining impromptu segment came about because of the story of Antonette (the 2nd placer) about how she once lost a singing contest because she stopped in the middle of her song because someone was making funny faces at her. Vice then challenged each of the kids to sing while Kiray tried to make them laugh. Even Vice ended up trying to make it through that challenge. All of them failed except for Justin. He not only made eye contact with Kiray but he also touched Kiray's face. Awesome focus for a 13-year-old kid!

video uploaded by ABS-CBN Entertainment 

I had already warmed up to him at that point before Vice asked him to dance. He promptly did a few of Michael Jackson's Billie Jean moves - including the moonwalk - and he did it really well. As if that wasn't enough, he later on performed two songs while playing the guitar - Love Yourself by Justin Bieber and Photograph by Ed Sheeran. Amazing.

(Click here for a link to Justin Alva's cover of Bieber's Love Yourself.)

After the episode, I started checking out his performances during the show. What impressed me about Justin is his expressiveness. He showed a ferocity and an angst while singing 7 years by Lukas Graham. He was amped up in his finale performance of a medley of Monster and Lose Yourself. My favorite performance though is probably his rendition of Sam Smith's version of the Whitney Houston song "How will I know". It was so heartfelt and moving. Check it out here.

video uploaded by The Voice Kids Philippines

Hopefully, Justin can have a singing career. He has talent and artistry and I find his story and his outlook in life to be truly inspiring.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Friend day Saturday

Two different sets of friends wanted to meet up last Saturday but thankfully, one group wanted to meet during lunch while the other group wanted to meet during dinner. The venue: Burgos Cirlce/Forbes Town Center.

My work friends decided to have lunch in Locavore. Me-ann and Hannah were both in town and when I suggested this place which serves very good Filipino food, Hannah actually said that she was going to suggest the same place. So it was set! While a few others were unable to make it, Mike and Alvin were also able to join us. I had eaten in the original Kapitolyo restaurant before but I had completely forgotten about it until I got there and I recognized the decor and the street food platter (fish balls, squid balls, kikiam, and kwek-kwek). Both Hannah and Alvin seemed very familiar with the menu and they proceeded to order for everyone. I gotta say, I'm not normally a fan of oysters but the Lechon and Oyster Sisig was very good.

photos and Instamag layout courtesy of my friend Me-ann

After our meal, we all decided to have coffee and gelato in Casa Italia. Mike wanted three different flavors so he ordered three scoops, and as it turned out, he got a whole lot more gelato than he expected. He decided to share it with us. I would have ordered gelato for myself but I realized that I was too full and with Mike sharing his order and Hannah sharing her sans rival, I felt that coffee would be sufficient. We parted ways at around 2:30PM.

I stayed around in BGC and headed back towards Burgos Circle at 6PM for dinner with my Yaminoy friends. It's amazing how I ended up becoming friends with other fans of Elliott Yamin almost 10 years ago and we are still pretty good friends now and a few of us still manage to meet up at least once a year. I had always wanted to try B&B Burgers and Brewskies because I saw their menu a while back and discovered that they served a burger that came with mac and cheese and bacon. It is appropriately named "Call the Nurse". :) Only Marie and Meg were able to make it that night - Meg herself had a bit of a cough - but we decided to push through anyway because our heavily conflicting schedules have led to many cancelled plans to meet up this year. Thankfully, we all got to enjoy dinner together because there was a whole lot of catching up to do.

Monday, September 12, 2016

US Open 2016 and Graf's continuing legacy

What an amazing fortnight for Angelique Kerber. She took home the US Open trophy, her 2nd Grand Slam title of the year, by beating Karolina Pliskova in a very tough three-setter. With this win, Kerber takes over the #1 ranking from Serena Williams. She is the first German to be ranked #1 since Steffi Graf. Furthermore, she snaps Williams' streak of 186 consecutive weeks at #1. This is the exact same women's record that Steffi has, a record I thought she would lose this year. As such, Steffi and Serena now share the women's record for most consecutive weeks at #1 (the men's record and the overall record are both held by Roger Federer at an astonishing 237 weeks). Congratulations, Angelique!

For her part, losing finalist Karolina Pliskova made headlines herself when she announced her arrival at the top echelon of tennis when she defeated Serena Williams in the semifinals. Pliskova had been slowly making a name for herself over the last two years, and even moreso in the last couple of months. She led the women's tour in number of aces last year and she is the current ace leader this year as well. More recently, she beat both French Open winner Garbine Muguruza and Kerber en route to a Cincinnati title. She was actually ahead in the final as she was up 3-1 in the third set and seemed on the way to another upset win but in the end, you could see she was just a bit more tired than her more seasoned opponent. If Pliskova continues to work on her fitness and movement, she could very be a future Grand Slam titlist and even a future #1. Her rise to #6 after this tournament is a solid step in the right direction for her.

On the men's side, Stanislas Wawrinka just made a case for a Big Five instead of a Big Four as he won his third Grand Slam trophy, beating Novak Djokovic in four sets. He now has won in three of the four Grand Slam events - the only one missing in his collection is Wimbledon - and at 31, he becomes the oldest male player to hoist the trophy since Ken Rosewall who won in 1970 at the age of 35. Things could have gone very wrong for him though as he faced a match point in the third against Daniel Evans. He saved that and four rounds later, he becomes a champion.

Interestingly enough, Angelique Kerber herself could have had a not-so-good year if not for saving a match point in the first round of the Australian Open against Misaki Doi. If she lost that, she may not have gained the confidence she now has that allowed her to reach the final of Wimbledon, win a silver medal in Rio, take the US Open title, and become world #1. Imagine that. Oh, and Karolina Pliskova had to save a match point herself against Venus in the fourth round.

I understand that this is also the first time that Serena Williams was seeded #1 at the US Open and didn't win. She actually had a solid shot at taking home Grand Slam title #23 that would have allowed her to take over Steffi Graf's current Open Era record (Margarent Court has the all-time record with 24). Instead, her loss keeps her at even footing with Steffi in the Grand Slam title count as well as in the consecutive weeks at #1 record. Amazing how Serena's incredible success has somehow reminded people of Steffi's otherworldly career.

With the last Grand Slam event of the 2016 tennis season having been played out, it would be interesting to see what happens in the WTA Tour Championships and who will end up being #1 at the end of the year.