Monday, April 30, 2012

The Avengers


A sparkling blue cube of energy, the highly-unstable Tesseract, as far as S.H.I.E.L.D. is concerned, could be a source of limitless power that could translate to ultra-high-tech weaponry. It comes with an excess baggage though, as it also serves as Loki’s pawn to wage a war against the Earth. Are we really prepared for yet another Hollywood alien invasion? No pressure. Enter the Avengers, an odd mix of humans and a demigod with specific skill sets enough for them to be regarded as a legit defense force. As useless human beings watch from the side lines and the police do what they do best, which is arrive late (not that it actually matters), these Marvel superheroes thrash each other with indestructible shields and hammers with unpronounceable nicknames. They also exchange playful banter of sitcom proportions and have their respective turns for the obligatory hotshot camera pose, whether it be by group or for a full body solo. Say whatever you want about them, this movie is simply an awesome two hours or so of jaw-dropping special effects, hilarious quips, and some awkwardly entertaining bromance here and there. This is, without a doubt, the summer Hollywood movie to beat.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Game of Thrones (HBO): Season 2/Episode 5

2.5 The Ghost of Harrenhal
Catelyn and Brienne watch helplessly in terror as the Shadow Monster kills Renly Baratheon. Brienne is blamed for the murder, and Catelyn convinces her to flee for her life. In return, she swears fealty to Catelyn Stark. Renly’s men flock to Stannis, while the Tyrells heed Petyr’s advice and retreat. Tyrion finds out that Joffrey intends to use fire against Stannis’ army, a move which Bronn thinks would do more harm than good. Theon gets ready to command his ship but not one of his crewmen obeys his orders. Jon Snows gets the opportunity to be a ranger for a day, tasked to approach and eliminate a wildling outpost beyond the wall. Daenerys explores Qarth and teaches her dragons to breathe fire on command. Xaro Xhoan Daxos, the member of the Thirteen who let them in, proposes marriage and promises to install her on the Iron Throne. At Harrenhal, Tywin manages to make Arya admit that she is from the North, but still has no idea that she is a Stark. She encounters one of the three men she helped back at the caravan, who promises to repay her his debt by offering her three lives. She begins with the interrogator who almost killed Gendry. He is later found dead.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Game of Thrones (HBO): Season 2/Episode 4

2.4 Garden of Bones
Robb attacks another Lannister stronghold where he meets a nurse named Talisa (Oona Chaplin), who blames him for the atrocities of the ongoing war. Joffrey continues to torture Sansa both physically and psychologically as a way to get back to her brother, but Tyrion interferes and chastises his nephew. He also blackmails his cousin Lancel (Eugene Simon) and turns him into his spy. Arya and Gendry are brought to Harrenhal where one prisoner is killed every day. As Gendry is about to take his turn on the torture chair, Tywin Lannister arrives and berates his men for wasting young blood that could add to their numbers. He recognizes Arya as a girl and demands her to be brought to his chambers as his new cupbearer. Petyr Baelish visits Renly, but his real intention is to convince Catelyn to barter Jaime Lannister for her two daughters, under Tyrion’s orders. He brings her Ned’s bones as a sign of good faith. Daenerys and her Dothraki horde are welcomed at Qarth, but are turned back after she refuses to show them her dragons. They are eventually let in after one of the Thirteen vouches for her. Melisandre is brought to a cave in the middle of the night, where she gives birth to a shadow monster.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

日本語 - Week 21 (Contemporary Japanese Vol. 1)

The book I am using is Contemporary Japanese Vol. 1 by Eriko Sato from the Tuttle Language Library. Volume 1 of the book has 61 lessons. Target end date is May 26, 2012.

MONDAY: Lesson Fifty One 私のたんじょうびは12月24日です
There are many ways to ask when depending on how specific you would like to be but if you want the general question word then it’s いつ. Again, this is the most general interrogative word for asking when. If you want to be specific, use and then add the time expression of choice.

TUESDAY: Lesson Fifty One 私のたんじょうびは12月24日です
The particle ~ does not only serve as an indicator of an indirect object, it also is attached as a suffix to most expressions of time to mean during/at. If you say I am going on Monday, then you add this suffix after Monday: 日曜日にいきます.

WEDNESDAY: Lesson Fifty Two –あのレストランはどうですか
Remember that particle that we also use to indicate the manner by which something is done? Apparently it could also be used to indicate reason. This particle is ~. Just attach it to whatever is the reason and you are then good to go. The bus did not come because of the snow would be: バスは雪来ませんでした.

THURSDAY: Lesson Fifty Two –あのレストランはどうですか
Past tense! Let’s have an easy example: was is でした. I know there is a proper formula for this but screw the formula. What I always remember is that the ~ ending becomes ~した. I would eventually get in trouble for using this as a mnemonic but for now I am okay with it.

FRIDAY: Lesson Fifty Three – 兄弟とけんかしたことがありますか
Counter for times, meaning number of occasions; how many times, blah blah blah. Book says you use ~かい. There is another one but it seems that this is more common so we better stick to this one. Just put it right after the number and you are good to go.
For next week I would be covering lessons fifty one to fifty three. We can do this guys! The goal is to pass the N5 examination of the JLPT in December 2012! =)

中文 - Week 21 (New Practical Chinese Reader 1)

The book I am using is New Practical Chinese Reader 1 by the Beijing Language and Culture University Press. Volume 1 of the book has 14 lessons. Target end date is June 10, 2012.

MONDAY: Lesson Eleven – 我会说一点儿汉语
Let us first tackle this high frequency expression 一点儿. The book says that it is an indefinite measure word used to modify a noun. You could roughly translate it as a little. You could get rid of the first character if the expression does not come at the beginning of a sentence. So the next time you want to be modest and try to downplay your fluency in Mandarin, add this expression.

TUESDAY: Lesson Eleven – 我会说一点儿汉语
Another way of being modest is to negate what the other person is saying but you do not do the negation as you would an ordinary statement. In this case you have to use 哪里 which is an alternate for 哪儿. Yes, we know this as the question word for where but in Mandarin they also use this as an expression of modesty when you just got praised. So if some say that your Mandarin is good you could use this expression as a reply.

WEDNESDAY: Lesson Eleven – 我会说一点儿汉语
We use to indicate that an action is still on-going. You just put it in front of the verb.

THURSDAY: Lesson Eleven – 我会说一点儿汉语
We already know how to ask for someone’s age but the book gives us another option which is more polite and goes like 您今天多大岁数? Literally, this translates to How big is your age this year. I don’t even know if my translation is correct but I think you get my point.

FRIDAY: Lesson Eleven – 我会说一点儿汉语
I am only including this because it is a favorite expression: 学英语不容易. I substitute “English” with “Chinese” though. HAHAHA. Studying English is not easy.

For next week I will still be covering lesson eleven. We are making progress! The goal is to pass the lowest level of the HSK in June 2012! =)

Sunday, April 15, 2012

日本語 - Week 20 (Contemporary Japanese Vol. 1)

The book I am using is Contemporary Japanese Vol. 1 by Eriko Sato from the Tuttle Language Library. Volume 1 of the book has 61 lessons. Target end date is May 19, 2012.

MONDAY: Lesson Forty Eight – 何がーばんほしいですか
What if you want to do something but you want to express it with a verb instead of a noun? You add ~たい to the stem. I want to sleep = たいです. Yes, you use the copula to end it. Do you want to eat? = 食べたいですか. Exceptions? You could not use it in the third person, meaning you cannot ask what someone else wants unless that someone is you or the person you are talking to. They say another complicated construction is needed for third person.

TUESDAY: Lesson Forty Nine –しょうらいは何をしたいですか
The book says that there are two verbs that corresponds to the English verb to work and those verbs are はたらく and つとめる. What is the difference? The book claims that the first one emphasizes the act of working, as in the action, while the second one emphasizes your dedication to your job, or your commitment to it. If it were up to me I’d say that you use the first one if you have a job and the other one if you have a career. HAHAHA. Is this really the time to bring up this issue. Well I guess for all of us working individuals there is always that distinction. Sometimes you end up working for the pay. If you are lucky you end up working because you actually love what you are doing. Feel free to choose which verb you like, HAHAHA. I think I just messed up the definition of these two verbs. LOL!

WEDNESDAY: Lesson Forty Nine –しょうらいは何をしたいですか
We use それか to connect two sentences which are alternatives of another. The rough translation is the English conjunction or. Example. Tonight I will read a book or I will eat sushi = 今晩は本を読みますそれかすしを食べます. Of course you can eat sushi and read a book at the same time. Don’t make your life complicated over such trivial matters, but since we have to stick on topic and I can’t construct complicated sentences yet, let’s just stick to this one.

THURSDAY: Lesson Fifty –夏休みはどこかへ行きましたか
Okay, so this is the lesson where my brain almost died. NYAHAHA. Information overload it is. Let’s start with indefinite pronouns. By this, we mean: something, someone, etc. There is a reason they are called “indefinite” and that is because you are not referring to anyone or anything in particular. In Japanese, you use the appropriate question word and add the particle ~ and then you add the verb. Easy. I want to eat something = 何か食べたいです. I saw someone = だれか見ました. It gets complicated when you add particles. Subject ad object particles you could omit, but the book says that you must retain other particles that might occur such as , , and .

FRIDAY: Lesson Forty Fifty –夏休みはどこかへ行きましたか
This is where it gets complicated. What about the negatives? By this, we mean: nothing, nowhere, no one. Okay. We still use the question words but we attach ~instead. It gets complicated because we have to use the negative form of the verb. Otherwise the sentence would not be grammatical. This is counter-intuitive because in English we do not say “I did not see no one” but rather “I did not see anyone”. The first sentence reminds me of Alice in Wonderland what with the play of words. Those two do not mean the same thing. In Japanese if you want to say and mean “I did not see anyone” you would actually have to phrase your sentence like: I did not see no one = だれもみませんでした. I know, it is confusing and I am getting dizzy now because of this so we better stop here before I throw up.
For next week I would be covering lessons fifty one to fifty three. We can do this guys! The goal is to pass the N5 examination of the JLPT in December 2012! =)

Game of Thrones (HBO): Season 2/Episode 3

2.3 What Is Dead May Never Die
Jon Snow and the rest of the Night’s Watch are kicked out of Craster’s settlement. Sam gives Gilly his mother’s memento as a gift, before he leaves. The Greyjoys decide to attack the North while the Starks are away. Theon writes a letter to Robb, but burns it and pledges allegiance to his father. Cat pays Renly and his wife, Margaery Tyrell (Natalie Dormer) a visit to seek their alliance. Margaery’s brother, Loras, is Renly’s lover, and she knows it. She tells him that they do not have to play games, and that if they are to win the way, he has to put his baby in her belly. Female warrior Brienne of Tarth (Gwendoline Christie) wins a battle against Loras, and asks for a place in Renly’s Kingsguard as a reward. Tyrion lures out Cersei’s spy in the council by giving three of them contrasting information about his plans to marry Cersei’s daughter Myrcella (Aimee Richardson) for alliance’s sake. Shae becomes Sansa’s handmaiden. The Lannister guards return to the caravan to capture Gendry. After the ensuing bloodbath, Arya fools them into believing that Gendry is one of the men they viciously killed.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

中文 - Week 20 (New Practical Chinese Reader 1)

The book I am using is New Practical Chinese Reader 1 by the Beijing Language and Culture University Press. Volume 1 of the book has 14 lessons. Target end date is June 10, 2012.

MONDAY: Lesson Ten – 我在这儿买光盘
It is time to get to know some characters again! We have fifteen this week so let’s start now with the first three. means boat and if you stare at it you will see that it does look like one. I have not encountered this in the text or maybe I just forgot! The second one is which means house hold utensils. It looks like a top hat but the illustration on the book is that of an elaborately designed cup. Weird. The last one is which confuses me because it sounds like that character for moon or month. Although pronounced with the same tone, this one in particular means music.

TUESDAY: Lesson Ten –我在这儿买光盘
The first character for today is which means foot. I know! It does look like that high-frequency character for is. The next one is not that hard to write and easy to remember for me because it means book. It is written as . The next one is familiar because it is used to write “Japan” but it literally means root of a tree. It is the character .

WEDNESDAY: Lesson Ten –我在这儿买光盘
The first character for today means flat and is written as and I think I am imagining another character that looks like it but I suddenly forgot what it was. Oh well. The next character is which means to walk. If you look at it, it sort of resembles another character we learned yesterday, the character for foot. What they have in common are those two strokes below which I imagine to be human legs viewed from the side, hence the relation to walking. The last character for today is which means oneself. I have seen this character used with others in some words I have encountered in previous lessons.

THURSDAY: Lesson Ten –我在这儿买光盘
The first character for today means cave and is written as and yes it is pronounced like the verb for “to study” so better be careful with this one. means do not. I remember this one used in tandem with another character or stroke for the term for family or house. Last one is important because it means gold, HAHAHA. It is used as the Kanji for “Friday” in Japanese. It is written as .

FRIDAY: Lesson Ten –我在这儿买光盘
Last three! We have already met in the dialogue last week. As explained, it is a unit of measure equivalent to half a kilo which is commonly used in China. means dime and we have also met this one in last week’s dialogue. Before we arrive at centavos, we have this one first in the Chinese pricing system. The last character is which means ancient weapon. If I am not mistaken, this is the one you see as the right side component of the character for “to look for”.

For next week I will still be covering lesson ten. We are making progress! The goal is to pass the lowest level of the HSK in June 2012! =)

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Game of Thrones (HBO): Season 2/Episode 2

2.2 The Night Lands
Daenerys continues to battle starvation, and the return of Rakharo’s (Elyes Gabel) horse with his severed head in a saddlebag is of no help to what seems to be a lost cause for them. Theon Greyjoy (Alfie Allen) returns to the Iron Islands to convince his father Balon (Patrick Malahide) to lend his navy to the Starks to battle the Lannisters. He seems to have other plans, though, and eyes the north for himself with the help of his daughter Yara (Gemma Whelan). Davos (Liam Cunningham) recruits pirates as a navy for Stannis, who is greatly outnumbered by Renly’s men. Melisandre promises Stannis an heir if he totally surrenders himself to the Lord of the Light, after which she strips in front of him. Tyrion chastises Cersei for the massacre of babies at King’s Landing, which turns out to be Joffrey’s orders. Arya befriends Gendry (Joe Dempsie), one of King Robert’s bastards, and tells him her real identity. The Night’s Watch investigates north of the wall, with a stopover at a settlement headed by Craster (Robert Pugh), who keeps his daughters as wives, one of whom, Gilly (Hannah Murray), asks for help because she is pregnant and fears it’s a boy. Jon Snow later finds out why, but is knocked out cold by Craster himself.

日本語 - Week 19 (Contemporary Japanese Vol. 1)

The book I am using is Contemporary Japanese Vol. 1 by Eriko Sato from the Tuttle Language Library. Volume 1 of the book has 61 lessons. Target end date is May 19, 2012.

Instead of doing the Kanji and the vocabulary, I have decided to focus on the exercises, at least for the video. I’ll leave the Kanji to you, hahaha.

MONDAY: Lesson Forty Six – 何がとくいですか
Today is particles galore. We have studied some of them in the past but some of them have other functions. For today let us just discuss which we know is the particle that roughly translates to but. Well, according to the book it could be used to link two sentences and turn them into a single sentence, effectively replacing でも. This means that a sentence such as: 日本語はむずかしいです。でも、楽しいです could be written as one sentence like this: 日本語はむずかしいですが、楽しいです. It does make the sentence shorter and I find this useful because it means another way to express myself. I admit that most of the time I tend to abuse でも.

TUESDAY: Lesson Forty Six –何がとくいですか
We have learned that the particle which we popularly recognize as some sort of possessive particle. The book says, however, that it has another usage. It has superpowers. It could turn a verb into a noun. Gasp! In English, we mostly do that by turning the infinitive into a gerund. Here, you just attach the particle to the plain form of the verb. Another particle, こと does the same trick, but let us not steal the spotlight from the star particle of today’s lesson! Let’s start! If you want to say that you like eating, you must turn your verb into a noun, as we did so by tossing in a gerund in there. And so, in Japanese we say: 食べる好きです.

WEDNESDAY: Lesson Forty Seven カタカナで名前が書けますか
Last particle for the week! We know as our favorite topic marker. The book says though that it also functions as a particle to denote contrast. Let us say that you like Yamada-san but you hate Tanaka-san. Surely, you should set a distinction to be able to clearly label which is which. Just add that particle to both of them and you are done: 山田さんは好きですが田中さんは好きじゃありません.

THURSDAY: Lesson Forty Seven カタカナで名前が書けますか
Let us now talk about potential! Apparently, you could change the conjugation of a verb to denote potential or ability. The sound we are looking for here is an “e” sound which they add to the stem, or use to replace it. I know, it is a bit confusing so let me explain it some more. Take for example, to write which is かく which is conjugated as かきます. If you want to alter the meaning by saying that you could write, you can change it to ます. I have not mastered this yet and I know there is a system to it but this sound change is what really got stuck in my head. This is useful for now because the affirmative conjugations for the non-past always end with –imasu so what I do is I just change it to –emasu but once you encounter other conjugations, you must stick to the rule. I guess I would just do that when I advance. For now, I stop here.

FRIDAY: Lesson Forty Eight – 何がーばんほしいですか
Last lesson for the week!!! The Japanese use ほしい and attach it to a noun to mean to want or desire that noun. Yes, it is an adjective, obviously. With this you could just mention a noun and add ~ほしいです to mean that you want it. I know though that there are other ways to express wanting something. I do not know if this expression is as common.
For next week I would be covering lessons forty six to forty eight. We can do this guys! The goal is to pass the N5 examination of the JLPT in December 2012! =)

Saturday, April 7, 2012

中文 - Week 19 (New Practical Chinese Reader 1)

The book I am using is New Practical Chinese Reader 1 by the Beijing Language and Culture University Press. Volume 1 of the book has 14 lessons. Target end date is June 10, 2012.

MONDAY: Lesson Ten – 我在这儿买光盘
Let us talk about some useful expressions and tips. In English we could use this and that without a noun attached to them. In Mandarin, you have to attach the appropriate counter for whatever noun you omitted from the sentence. If you omitted the word “picture”, for example, its counter should be left behind, so that instead of saying 这张照片 you could just say 这张 and whatever it is that you want to connect to that.

TUESDAY: Lesson Ten –我在这儿买光盘
Money! This is a bit difficult because they use two sets for written and spoken. For yuan, which also happens to be the name of the currency (renminbi) it is written as such which is but in spoken Mandarin they say which I also prefer because it is easier to memorize, HAHA. They have a special unit for ten cents which is when written and when spoken. This is a little confusing because in English a centavo is a centavo, period. Here, you have two different counters for centavo and ten centavos. For centavos, it is the same for written and spoken, which is . They also use this for minutes, if I remember correctly. I have to admit that I have not mastered this system yet and I am postponing it as much as I could. I guess I would just practice them when I visit China again when shopping.

WEDNESDAY: Lesson Ten –我在这儿买光盘
Since we have already touched the issue of money, we might as well tackle something related to it such as units of measure. These two come hand in hand when you are bargaining with a vendor in some market somewhere in China. They also use kilos but the book says that half a kilo, written as is more popular. It might be confusing at first but I am thinking that once my mind is set in using half a kilo as standard, then this would all be easy. Just halve every kilo!

THURSDAY: Lesson Ten –我在这儿买光盘
Another important thing for every Chinese learner out there would be how to ask someone how something is said in Mandarin. This is also helpful because you get to learn new words! How do you say this in Mandarin would be 这个汉语怎么说? Or you could drop the first two characters and just point at whatever it is you are referring to. Let’s see if that works.

FRIDAY: Lesson Ten –我在这儿买光盘
Forms of address. A favorite of mine would be 师傅 which translates to master worker. Remember Master Shifu from Kung Fu Panda? Well, I remember this form of address well because of him although this does not seem to be appropriate for him. Lost in translation, perhaps. Whatever. This is used for vendors and workers, as said in the book. The other one, 先生 is used as a general form of address for male adults. The book says that it could also be used for someone who specializes in something.

For next week I will still be covering lesson ten. We are making progress! The goal is to pass the lowest level of the HSK in September 2012! =)

Friday, April 6, 2012

Bugaw Lola and My Failed Attempt on Ilocandia

I have always had this illusion of grabbing my backpack and hopping on a bus to nowhere. That is cool and all, also feasible, but not so on Holy Week. So much for my attempt on spontaneity!

Monday, April 2, 2012

[LEYTE] Budget and Itinerary

SATURDAY: March 31, 2012
Taxi (Makati - NAIA 3) - 124.00
Toll (Skyway) - 20.00
Terminal Fee (NAIA 3) - 200.00
Airphil Express (Manila - Tacloban) - 112.00
Jeep (Diretso) - 10.00
Tri-sikad (Palengke - Duptours) - 7.00
Bus (Maasin - Matalom) - 20.00
Boat (Matalom - Canigao - Matalom) - 50.00
Van Vans (Matalom - Maasin) - 20.00

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Game of Thrones (HBO): Season 2/Episode 1

2.1 The North Remembers
Summer has ended, and nothing short of a long winter is expected in Westeros. A red comet lights up the sky and is interpreted differently by those who see it. Bran, now acting as Lord of Winterfell, thinks it means victory for his brother Robb in battle, but slave Osha (Natalia Tena) disagrees, believing that it signifies the return of dragons. Daenerys finds it hard to feed her triplets raw meat, but this is the least of her problems in crossing the Red Waste, leading whatever is left of her dead husband’s tribe nowhere. Tryion Lannister marches back to the capital to serve as the New Hand, much to the chagrin of his sister and his nephew. Stannis Baratheon (Stephen Dillane) gathers his forces at Dragonstone under the influence of foreign priestess Melisandre (Carice van Houten), whose new religion clashes with the old. He refuses to make peace with his younger brother Renly who has also declared himself king, and sends a raven to everyone in the kingdom regarding Joffrey’s true lineage. Robb sends a captive Lannister back to their camp to wager peace with King’s Landing, in the condition that his sisters and their father’s remains be brought back to them, and that the North be a free kingdom with him as king.

[SOUTHERN LEYTE] Budget and Itinerary

SATURDAY: March 31, 2012
Duptours (Tacloban - Maasin) - 220.00
Lunch (Mang Inasal) - 114.00
Tri-sikad (Maasin Terminal - Villa Romana Hotel) - 15.00
Villa Romana Hotel (Single Aircon/1 Night) - 950.00
Pearl Cooler (Black Pearl) - 51.00
Tri-sikad (Maasin Terminal - Villa Romana Hotel) - 8.00

[SOGOD] The Habal Habal for All Seasons

I thought the zip line was in Leyte. Well, it is in Southern Leyte so maybe you can still consider THAT as Leyte but why am I being too technical here? Anyway, Agas Agas Bridge is the name of the bridge next to which this zip line was constructed. That bridge is said to be the highest in the Philippines. I would not know how to answer you if you asked if this zip line is also the highest in the country. While the bridge does extend all the way down to the greenery below, the zip line trail ends on one of the hills and not exactly down there at the foot of the bridge. So no, I have no idea. But first, how to get there? Ride the Habal-Habal for all seasons!
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