52.2 - 2012.12.29

Nothing's as mean as giving a little child something useful for Christmas. 
~Kin Hubbard

[a new place to get tired of thinking at] - 2012.12.29

blogger's been fun but i've just about had it with google rejecting my application for adsense, the latest rejection letter saying:

Thank you for your interest in Google AdSense. After reviewing your application, our specialists have found that it does not meet our program

criteria. Therefore, we are unable to accept you into our program.

                  [ ... snip ... snip 8<... ]

Please note that we may not be able to respond to inquiries regarding the
specific reasons for our decision. Thank you for your understanding.

in plain english no, we won't pay you for putting our ads on your site (hence the lack of said ads) and no we're probably not going to say why not, even if you say please.

and this rejection's different from all the others too: used to be, google took about 2 - 3 days to tell me to go away and leave them alone.  this one came in less than 24 hours after i reapplied.

rejection does funny things to people.  and unexplained and irrational (to me at least) rejection is at least 10 times more frustrating than plain vanilla rejection.  

but the world's not fair: they're google and i am just one of a thousand million people trying to get adsense on their blogs which are hosted on a service that google owns.

right now, i am nursing my badly bruised ego, and i can tell that i will be wasting my time trying to get google to explain why they want me to go away, and instead of writing google again to plead my case, my reaction instead was, "i'll pack my bags and go to another website host",  which brought me to www.wix.com.

a couple of months back, i had stumbled upon a wix, a "make your own web site" sort of place.  i wasn't interested at first, figuring "i have a blog, why do i need a website?"

then i got google's rejection again.  and wix was right there, waiting, whispering sweet geeky nothings into my ear.

so i took a look at wix and their tagline was catchy:  create your own free stunning website.  easy to customize. no coding. google friendly.

i read that and all i saw was "blah blah blah free blah website blah blah."

i was hooked.

sort of.

i hunkered down and slaved away at my new site dragging boxes around, painting the walls, and mucking around with their html5 editor and i was pretty happy with how sleek the site can look with minimal coding effort (never mind the hours of wasted effort when i repeatedly closed the html5 editor without saving my work).

finally, i was happy with my site and i was ready to write my first blog entry.  and pfft.  i clicked and dragged and hemmed and hawed and could not figure out how to create a blog entry.

so i googled (naturally.  google and me, it's a love-hate relationship: i hate them, but can't live without them, specifically their search engine, chrome, and gmail.  android is a separate conversation altogether.  google on the other hand, doesn't even look in my general direction.) and there it was, the bitter truth:

wix has no blogging support, at least not on their HTML 5 sites.


after a few more hours of googling around and an endless stream of swearing, cussing and hairpulling, i found out that indeed wix has no html5 blog but oh joy i can grab my blogger feed and suck it into wix my site via a wix app.

i can tell you, a blogger blog sucked into wix is pretty darn fugly: can you see how the blog entries sit in the middle of the page, with vast amounts of screen real estate sitting idly on the left and right margins? you'll be happy to know that there is no way to correct that.  oh and did i mention that wix will cut -- as in truncate -- any blog entries that it thinks is too long?  one of my pages has a sentence where only the top half of the letters are visible.  that's like trying to ride a bus when you're 7'2" and the driver lops off your legs right below the knees as you get in so you can fit in the door.


rather unfortunately, that loathsome fugliness will have to do until the wix team comes up with the blogging feature.

so, wix, you had me at "free website" but we've got issues, especially with "when are you going to implement that HTML5 blogging that you promised was ready 10 months ago".

and blogger / google, i know you said "no, but you hope i understand", and yes i do (sort of) but two years and three no's is more than enough rejection for me.  i hope you understand that back.

but i'm stuck with you the same way people are stuck with venereal diseases after a drunken night out with a woman (or a man) named Lola, at least until the wix team get their act together and for the love of free websites build that html5 blogging feature.

but hey, my new place is up and running and spiffy and smells freshly painted too.  drop by and have a look [http://francisdancel.wix.com/noplaceforthinking].  

it will feel like home soon enough.

52.1 - 2012.12.25

My child arrived just the other day
He came to the world in the usual way
But there were planes to catch and bills to pay
He learned to walk while I was away
And he was talkin' 'fore I knew it, and as he grew
He'd say "I'm gonna be like you dad
You know I'm gonna be like you.
~ Harry Chapin
"Cats in the cradle"

[i wonder if they've deleted my account?] - 2012.12.23

ah, that's good that they haven't.

glad to see the place is not completely abandoned; there's a fair bit of dust and cobwebs but there's a small flicker of activity here and there and my statistics graph twitches every now and then.  sure, corpses sometimes twitch too, but a twitching blog is a completely different thing.

it looks just as i had left it, save for a few forgotten things, some broken promises, and a somewhat tattered reputation maybe.

it's not all bad, all things considered: 16 weeks, and i had number 17 lined up and ready to go.

then things changed in a major way.  a perfect storm of events resulting in a cataclysmic upheaval.

that's a good way to put it:  i went through a perfect storm of changes.

you know i won't go into details but i will say that i missed my happy place.
and i will say too, that it's that time of the year again when i need to scratch the itch to start something new.

i love starting stuff.  i love doing something new.  i love the energy, i love the excitement, the giddy freshness of beginnings.  

and i still love taking pictures, and writing stuff about the pictures i've taken.

and i certainly, i would love to somehow find the momentum to see things through.

and i hate leaving things hanging and unfinished: it's like feeling a sneeze coming on, and then your nose changes its mind halfway through.

and so i will start again.  another fifty two weeks.  another fifty two pictures.

i probably won't have time to have the place redecorated and spiffed up in time for the new year, but i will subject myself to another round of potential and probable embarrassment by saying that i will be at it again: another project fifty two, another attempt at beginning something i know i have a snowball's chance in hell of finishing.

here's hoping i at least get past number 16.

sixteen of fifty two - 2012.04.01

By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes.
William Shakespeare

my project fifty two

remembering the rain - 2012.03.28

Bad weather always looks worse through a window. 
Tom Lehrer 

i come from a country that has two seasons: wet and dry and either one is a losing proposition: it's too hot during the dry season and i spend the days panting like dog who's run after one frisbee too many.

the wet season is no better: even the slightest sustained rainfall causes flooded streets, huge traffic jams, power outages, electrocutions, and people to break out the canoes they have been keeping in the closet just for such an occasion.

really, they should change the textbooks and say instead, that there are two seasons in the philippines: "it buuuurrrnnnsss" and "get in the boat if you want to live".

it's enough to make one wish that for god's sake can i live in a country where flooded streets is a calamity, rather than the norm; some place reasonably sunny all year long would be just the place for me, thank you.

be careful what you wish for.

i now live in a country where, yes on those rare occasions when the streets do get flooded,  the entire event is the the national headline for at least two weeks and yes it takes an insane amount of sustained rainfall before any flooding of any sort happens.

it does sound like paradise compared to where i came from, except that singapore, too, has just two seasons, apparently:  hot and hotter.

call me insane, but i now know that rather be drenched, cold, and drowning, calling out to a kayak receding in the distance, than dying of heatstroke.

this is to say, that yes, i miss the rain.  i don't miss the floods and leptospirosis that much, to be honest and i could do without being electrocuted.  but i do miss the rain.

you see, in the philippines, when it rains, everybody grabs boots, umbrellas, a paddle, just in case, and of course jackets.

that is because in the philippines, it is cold when it rains.  the wind picks up, the occasional tin roof flies past you, and the temperature drops.  and hey, you might not have electricity and you will have probably have to wade through at least thigh deep water at some point or maybe even swim for your life, but at least you're not sweating and panting from the heat (you could be sweating and panting from shock or exposure though).

which is the exact opposite in singapore.  i found it strange at first, you know.  it rains buckets and people will sometimes whip out their umbrellas--only sometimes: it is possible to get from one end of the city to the other without getting wet--but hardly anyone wears a jacket.

i was dumbstruck the first time i saw it and thought these guys must be out of their minds, it was raining like mad: of course i should go get my jacket.  why would anybody not wear a coat when it rains?

so i did, and i put it on and zipped up and got on the train, got to the office.  not a single drop of rain on my very dry jacket. i shrugged my jacket off, there i was holding a jacket in one hand, mopping my face with the other, dripping with sweat, looking like an idiot.

in my mind i was screaming: how can i be sweating when it's raining like the world is ending?  so i stepped outside to try and understand it, felt what little breeze there was and realized: sure enough it's raining, but that does not mean it is colder in singapore.

oh my god.  it's hot even when it rains.

after i took this picture and ran it through post processing, it reminded me with  surprising vividness what the rainy season felt like in the philippines: it felt wet and cold, and the streets were flooded, and the wind howled through the trees and roofless houses and all that stood out in stark contrast against what a rainy day in singapore felt like: wet and hot.

be careful what you wish for indeed.

fifteen of fifty two - 2012.03.26

Our life is composed greatly from dreams, from the unconscious, and they must be brought into connection with action. They must be woven together.
~ Anais Nin

"you missed a spot"
my project fifty two

the nesting instinct - 2012.03.25

Why are men reluctant to become fathers? They aren't through being children.
~ Cindy Garner

The wife and I had purchased a crib about two months back at a baby fair, and finally it was delivered a week ago.  

We had picked an oak-ish, rosewood-ish sort of tint for the crib (when i was younger, i had to deal with just eight colours: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, violet, black, and white.  things really get complicated when you're an adult.  nobody ever describes something as just brown or yellow.  it's always some funky, strange sounding thing, like tangerine or wengue.) because white was too clinical, and "natural" looked like someone had assembled the crib but completely forgot to paint it.


so wengue it was, and it did turn out out to be a good choice.  the crib was a pleasant rich red-oakish color and after a few hiccups (one of the crib's locks were broken), which our supplier, (Bobo House if you are curious), gladly and quickly fixed, it was up and ready.

my wife nurtures a healthy amount of paranoia, more than enough for the both of us, and it quite reliably kicked in at this point.  she turned to me and said, "this crib must be full of germs and dirt and bacteria.  would you mind disinfecting it please?"

and so i ended up spending  the better part of the morning cleaning and wiping and disinfecting it, to my wife's satisfaction. 

after an hour of scrubbing and wiping and disinfecting, finally i was done and my wife (who was watching the whole time lest i sneak off and do something actually worth doing, like finishing call of duty a second time) let out a happy little squeal when it was all done.


i can of course, smell a photo op and a blog entry from a mile away and so immediately whipped out my camera and began taking pictures.  with my wife's approval of course (she thinks this is an excellent way to document our experience; i think with a few more posts like this, i can muster enough justification for a new lens). 

indeed the crib turned out to be a good buy after all (it had better be: we managed to buy the crib only after beating back a frenzied horde of singapore shoppers made rabid after they caught the scent of a sale) and getting it ready was a fun experience.

of course, after it was all done, i had to make sure that the crib was ready and sturdy enough and i had enlisted the help of a couple friends testing it.

 tigger went first and he bounced happily onto the crib (they've got springs for tails and legs you know).  he gave a chuckle and an excited laugh which i took for his approval.  he then bounded merrily away, saying "Well, I gotta go now. I've got a lotta bouncin' to do! Hoo-hoo-hoo-hoo! T-T-F-N: ta-ta for now!"

eeyore ambled in next, looking glum and blue and sat down miserably.  i asked him what was wrong, and he said he had lost his tail.  after looking around for a bit, we found it tucked quietly in a corner of the house.  i took it and gave it to him and he said "thanks.  it's not much of a tail, but i'm sort of attached to it."  he smiled a bit as he wandered off, and said that the crib was not bad because at least it had not fallen over as he sat on it.

then came piglet, excited, and a little scared.  he was worried that he was too small and could not reach up into the crib.  i helped him up and over and into the crib and he sat down for a bit, looked around, smiled and relaxed.  then he spoke, and sort of squeaked when he did, "I think that I have just remembered something. I have just remembered something that I forgot to do yesterday and shan't be able to do tomorrow. So I suppose I really ought to go back and do it now." he thanked me for helping him, and then ran off.

finally came pooh, my favorite silly old bear.  he said "sorry i am late, i was out looking for hunny."  i assured him it was okay, and he sat down and looked around.  he too smiled and whispered and said "I am a Bear of Very Little Brain, and long words bother me."

so, using very short words, he told me what he thought of the crib: that it was good, and that it was ready.  he also told me not to worry because things have a way of falling into place at the right time.

with that the silly old bear got up and was ready to leave.  i gave him some hunny to keep him company on his way home and he smiled and thanked me for it.

and just like that they were off and i waved goodbye to pooh and his friends, and thanked them for assuring me that i had done good.

*some quotes taken from AA Milne's Winnie the pooh

summer is here - 2010.03.20

Flowers are the sweetest things God ever made, and forgot to put a soul into.
~Henry Beecher
Life Thoughts

fourteen of fifty two - 2012.03.18

I think that if someone plays a video game, and then goes out and harms another human being, or blew themselves up because of what they just saw in the video game, they were screwed up in the head long before they got their hands on a controller.

a long time back, i played call of duty: modern warfare and remember how awesome it was.

then came call of duty: modern warfare 2, and like any gamer, i certainly was hyped about it.  now, i know it's a two year old game, but i had kept putting off buying it mostly because there was always something that real-life-ish that got in the way (i hate being an adult, you can tell)

then early in the week, a friend got me a copy of a modern warfare 2.  i was rabid for sure, but work had kept me busy during the week so i ended up putting off playing till the weekend.

when i finally did,  i couldn't keep my hands off it and spent all weekend playing.  it was, as i expected, an awesome game, with intense firefights all the way and i was hooked and in a bad way: the world stopped turning and everything else was muted and the only thing that mattered was finishing the game.

i did finish it, but man, at what cost: no chores done, did not cook any meals (had food delivered instead), nearly forgot to bathe, and no pics taken, except this one, late sunday night.

my wife (god bless her) has been very supportive, and left me alone long enough to let my indulgence run its course, and even clapped cheerfully when i finished the game (maybe she was just happy that my rabid insanity was finally over?)

it was good to finally play in such an immersive fashion again; i haven't done that in a while.

but after it was all over, i realize (grudgingly) that maybe i need to tone it down and exercise a bit more control.  i am after all .. *sigh*... a mature and responsible adult (have i mentioned how much i hate being an adult?), and because as much fun as games are, there is always something real-life-ish that needs doing.

someone get me a time machine please.  i'd like to be fourteen again.

thirteen of fifty two - 2012.03.11

Said a blade of grass to an autumn leaf, "You make such a noise
falling! You scatter all my winter dreams."

Said the leaf indignant, "Low-born and low-dwelling! Songless,
peevish thing! You live not in the upper air and you cannot tell
the sound of singing."

Then the autumn leaf lay down upon the earth and slept. And when
spring came she waked again--and she was a blade of grass.

And when it was autumn and her winter sleep was upon her, and
above her through all the air the leaves were falling, she muttered
to herself, "O these autumn leaves! They make such noise! They
scatter all my winter dreams."

~ Khalil Gibran
"Said a blade of grass"

"a blade of grass"
my project fifty two

monochromatic dawn - 2012.03.10

It is not time for mirth and laughter, the cold, gray dawn of the morning after. 
George Ade

when the idea for this post first came to mind, i initially thought it would not make too much sense.  after all, i took the trouble of getting up at an ungodly hour, walking around my neighborhood without a shower and a shave, and taking pictures while bleary-eyed because dawn is the golden hour: a magical time when the light just perfect.

and so rendering my dawn pics a wonderful shade of monochrome felt counterintuitive and a waste of good light.

i have since posted a couple of my colored dawn pics in my blog and in flickr, and thought no more of it.

then a couple of days back, i came across an excellent post in lightstalking (here, if you're keen to read it) and thought that was nothing short of inspiring.  the lightstalking post had excellent pictures of landscapes in black and white and now that i think about it, maybe it's not good for my self-confidence posting the link to these here.

anyhow, ego and confidence be damned: i fired up lightroom and fiddled around with my pics.  some of these i have posted before, but in full color.  of course, i did not let that stop me.  i have gone through those pics again, and put them through their monochrome paces.

It was a curious experience: there were pictures that seemed vibrant in color, and just okay in monochrome and there were pics that looked awesome in monochrome but were meh in color.

but all the pics, i thought, showed an excellent play between light and dark, which reminded of how a long time ago, i came across a big word that had me excited: chiaroscuro.  when i read it then, i took a mental note and told myself, one of these days i will do something chiaroscuro-ish.

so after seeing the pictures, i rooted around in my mental basement, took out the note, and smiled knowingly: yeah all these are chiaroscuro-ish, indeed.

and so here are a few of my dawn pics, monochromized (i coined that just now), chiaroscuro-ed (that too), dawn and all that magical, golden, soft light, rendered in beautiful shades of gray.

here comes the sun - 2012.03.09

twelve of fifty two - 2012.03.04

eleven of fifty two - 2012.02.26

"the edge between dawn and night"
my project fifty two

a river runs through it - 2012.02.25

stop! in the name of love - 2012.02.22

In the Spring a fuller crimson comes upon the robin's breast;
In the Spring the wanton lapwing gets himself another crest;
In the Spring a livelier iris changes on the burnish'd dove;
In the Spring a young man's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love.
~ Alfred, Lord Tennyson

ten of fifty two - 2012.02.18

There is no sincerer love than the love of food.
George Bernard Shaw

the wife and i were at a fair this weekend, trying to snag a bargain or two.  after what seemed like forever, we finally crawled our way out of the frenzy (if you've been to a fair or a sale in singapore, you know that any time you walk into one, you are walking into a bloodbath), dignity and wallets barely intact from all the haggling and begging, swearing and hairpulling.

surviving a life changing experience like that always has a way of working up my appetite, so after gathering our wits and what was left of our dignity about us, we shambled weakly towards a group of restaurants.

a quick look at the menu of one of the newer restaurants was all it took to convince us give the place a try.  it was a chinese fastfood-ish sort of place with a perky name, yummy chopsticks.

i wish this was a longer story with more pictures, but after ordering and getting our first dish (vegetarian fried rice), i lost all willpower to take pictures.  i took one picture.  exactly one picture. and once i tasted the food i promptly put away my camera and just started stuffing my face.

to say that the food was awesome is an understatement.  my wife and i pigged out while attempting to pretend to have a conversation in between shovelling spoonfuls of food into our mouths.

after the carnage, i could barely move. i took a look at our table, at the large swath of destruction in our wake, and, as i look back on it, realized that we probably had eaten enough for a small starving village.

finally we managed to waddle our way out of the restaurant, stomachs full, sated but at the same time still wanting more.  we weren't in the mood for anything much more after that (though i wanted to stuff my face even more), gadgets and sales and massive discounts notwithstanding.  at that point, all i wanted to do was pass out and have a nice long nap.

you call it gluttony.  i call it an appreciation of good food.

i do not know what it is about you - 2012.02.17

. . . that closes 
and opens; only something in me understands
the voice of your eyes is deeper than all roses
nobody, not even the rain, has such small hands.
~ e. e. cummings


an exercise in patience - 2012.02.17

Whatever we are waiting for -- peace of mind, contentment, grace, the inner awareness of simple abundance -- it will surely come to us,
but only when we are ready to receive it with an open and grateful heart. 
- Sarah Ban Breathnach

nine of fifty two - 2012.02.12

eight of fifty two - 2012.02.04

"look over there"
my project fifty two

marina bay - 2012.01.28

cool de sac - 2012.02.01

Failure is a detour, not a deadend street.
~Zig Ziglar

seven of fifty two - 2012.01.28

"a brewing calm"
my project fifty two

you and me against the world - 2012.01.27

You and me against the world
Sometimes it seems like you and me against the world
When all the others turn their backs and walked away
You can count on me to stay.
~ Helen Reddy
"You and me against the world"

big blue - 2012.01.26

There is hardly any one so insignificant that he does not seem imposing to some one at some time.
~ Charles Horton Cooley

the dragon cometh - 2012.01.24

entangled - 01.24.2012

We learn the rope of life by untying its knots.
~Jean Toomer

six of fifty two - 2012.01.24

my project fifty two

trapped - 2012.01.24

We all live in a house on fire, no fire department to call; no way out, just the upstairs window to look out of while the fire burns the house down with us trapped, locked in it.
~ Tennessee Williams

taking in the view - 2012.01.16

five of fifty two - 2012.01.08

my project fifty two

copse - 2012.01.11

four of fifty two - 2012.01.06

"de profundis"
my project fifty two

morning stroll

in every walk with nature
one receives far more than he seeks.

~John Muir

fallen - 2012.01.02

One of the great lessons the fall of the leaf teaches, is this: 
do your work well and then be ready to depart when God shall call. 

~Tryon Edwards 

three of fifty two - 2012.01.01

a bend in the road
my project fifty two