Friday, October 22, 2010

Social Networks

   Muliply, Friendster, Facebook, Yahoo Chat, something not for the faint of hearts. It may broaden ones sphere of influence, increased the number of acquaintances, learn from experiences of another, get in touch with former classmates and more so with other friends and relatives. But the arguments and misunderstandings that sometimes come up can intensely be distressing.
   A young lady I know once said "You don't have to take things seriously. Else...". That was when I pointed out an inappropriate photo tagged to her by a male office mate of hers. (Nothing for the Censors Board to rate on or anything of the sort though). She's so spot on by what she said. Still the photo is suggestive to say the least. I can only imagine how it would be with next door neighbors who are also in the same social networking site. It's not going to be much of a problem with people hundreds of miles away apart. More if one is on another continent. Or a planet?
    Ah yes. I think I am on another planet. It's like a fiction story of a child on a planet that comes to mind. I only remember taking it up in school. And that was ages ago. Anyhow I would like to imagine being on a planet, on a world of my own. And the only line of communication with others on another world is Yahoo or Facebook.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

After Burglaries What else?

   I was up in my room keeping busy. Read a book on C programming that I bought a week ago. Check emails on the old desktop, replied to new messages on Facebook, browsed for some info on the web and  blogged.
   I was expecting there would be a lull in the series of petty theft and burglaries around the neighborhood today. So after finishing up on my latest post here today, I decided to go out again to my usual hangout- the neighborhood basketball court.
    Crossing to the other side of the main road that separates our side of the subdivision from the rest I chance upon Ruben the security guard sitting by the entrance gate. I had asked him the day before to checked on another vacant property in connection with the series of burglaries we just had. Informed me on the latest whereabouts of its caretaker. Good enough development for me. What I was not aware of was what transpired that afternoon. Others whom I met by the basketball court had their own experiences to tell. 
   The way I figured it out was a group of armed men in three separate vehicles  came searching for one resident called Ricky. They closed in on one parked van with tinted glass windows near his house. Some men went out of the vehicle started shooting at it thinking the guy they were looking for was there. Fortunately for Ricky, he was not even in it and was able to make an escape by running to the basketball court. He then passed through Arthur's compound from the back entrance asking for help but did not even stopped there to hide instead went out the front gate  and disappeared. Later there were exchanges of gunfire. Ricky's gang mates might have fought back. Then vehicles were seen on a chase going out towards the main road. I was not so sure who was chasing who. Important thing was they were all out of the subdivision where children were usually out playing in the streets during the day. 
   Somebody might have called the authorities. A mobile patrol came  later. Actually very much later. What was left for them to find were spent shells and a few live bullets. Good thing though nobody was caught in the crossfire or even was run down by the speeding vehicles.  

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Burglars, Neighbors and One Very Late Police Officer

   Three nights ago I was making a last minute check on my email. Mother together with my sister and  nephew were all in bed sleeping soundly by then. It was about half past eleven when I heard a loud noise upstairs. I waited for a while thinking it might be one of them who might be up and about dropping something on the floor. I should be able to hear some more even when their bedroom door was closed. There was nothing. So I went up the stairs to see if  there was something else that fell in the other bedroom. I sensed something was terribly wrong in my dimly lit room as I could see the temporarily installed  window screen already down on my bedroom floor. First I thought it could have been a strong gush of wind that caused it to detach itself from the grilled window. And that wasn't the first time it did. But then two of the four window glass panels were shut closed. It could not have been the wind. I switched on both the main bedroom light and one overhead light just outside the window. Light switch is just beside the door inside on my right. And from where I was standing I could see through the translucent glass panes a hazy but definite shape moving slowly away to the right. A burglar! Since I could not find a thing to arm myself with, the next best thing I could think of at the moment was to yell invectives at whoever that was to scare him off and hoping he would make the mistake of running as fast. There is an empty big lot just beside our residence and it's about a ten feet drop to its cemented pavement. But the only noise I heard were cautious heavy steps the burglar made on the galvanized roofing he was on. No loud thud of a falling body, no crashing of a makeshift ladder. Not even a whisper. Anyhow I shouted loud enough to wake my relatives up at the other room. 
   By now all were wide awake and at my back looking on. Adrenalins were very high as I approached the window. Carefully I strained my eye looking just outside the window grill. No one on the left, below and neither on the far right. The guy couldn't have just jumped out over the perimeter wall just out five feet from the window of the duplex apartment we were in. Besides the barbed wire he had to hurdle it would have been about another fifteen feet long jump down the other side. It would surely make a bad fall for the burglar unless he's one good stuntman to be able to do all that. 
   Well anyway my sister started to closely inspect the window grill herself after making sure the coast was clear. What she found was one disposable lighter atop on the edge of the open window panel. I saw another one on the bottom ledge with a prefabricated mini flashlight. That's when she started to get a little panicky and went on back to their bedroom, opened their window and shouted out to our neighbor for help across the street. This she did while using her cellphone calling our next door neighbor who's in the other half of the duplex apartment.  

   Everybody were out of their houses by now. Except for 2 or 3, everyone else were holding something to arm themselves with. My sister and I with heavy expansion rods for shower curtains which were still unused. One neighbor had a machete. My nephew was on our regular phone inside still calling the police station. 
   A police car finally arrived half an hour after. It seemed longer. One lone officer that's it. As he alighted from his vehicle, he pulled out from his back pocket a penlight. I got a bigger flashlight. As always the case the officer asked us for more info. After, he decided to go for the vacant lot which had incidentally a high bricked fence put up by the owner and which can be accessed only through a small side steel door. Pulled out his 45 caliber and went in cautiously through that door. A neighbor who just arrived a few minutes before and I followed him in. The place was really big. They say there use to be a large structure built on that lot. Now there are only some wild undergrowth  scattered on the far side of the property. Still it was dark. We scoured the area finding nothing. The burglar or burglars could have escaped over the adjacent wall. Just their luck I guess. Someday they'll get caught. This was not the first attempted burglary in the neighborhood. 
   In recent months there were a handful of cases already. Some thieves were successful getting their loot. Just like the one in the corner of Sapphire and Emerald at the other part of the subdivision. A cellphone and one laptop were among the things that were stolen from inside the residence. The owner's big dog inside wasn't even heard barking. The burglar even left a cigarette lit on an ashtray.
   Back to what had just transpired and after that crazy little adventure in the vacant lot, I led the officer inside and up my bedroom where the attempted burglary was made. Showed him the window screen still beside the wall and the lighters my sister and I found. After some minor inspection, he suggested that I go to the police station to file a complaint. That I politely turned down but instead just gave him my name and address telling him it was rather useless to make a formal complaint anyway. Besides I got my own kins to worry about that moment. Expressed my appreciation for the assistance though. Then he left.
   That following day I made my way to the subdivision's multipurpose hall to report the matter. There I met Arthur, the homeowners' association official. He was already informed of the incident. So anyway I still went on to tell him the whole story in detail since I was the one who actually witness the whole thing. Then together with another resident, the subdivision's security guard came to approach us saying he caught one kid that very moment ransacking a temporary shelter a few yards away from where we were. The owner of that wooden shelter was out working trying to earn a few bucks in some isolated mountainous area in the province. Jerrick is the owner. And boy was he really furious when we called him by cellphone about it. In a short while the young thief who was about maybe 14 years old was taken to the village station by Arthur and the guard. It was only about an hour after that another lady resident reported  an attempted burglary the very same time we had that night. Another household help who is staying in a house next to
the lady resident came out telling us their bicycle was found missing that very morning. And long after in early evening that day, again another neighbor came telling us he saw someone jump out of their own front yard's fence when he heard a noise that night.  All in all there were five burglaries. Four failed. One got a new bike probably to escape with.  

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Cafe Latte and My Gout

   At last I was able to go and see a close relative of mine in his own newly rented apartment. He's now married with four kids of his own. It seemed not too long ago that I would then go fetch little James together with his twin brother from school and bring him back to their parent's house. On some weekends either both twins or James alone get to stay in our own house. Couldn't recall though how it was when they were in our place. But I am sure he brought a kind of renewed vigor in our family. 
    Now James very much a responsible parent himself almost always finds a way to spend time with us on important occasions- Christmas or New Year's day, Dad's and Mom's birthday, other special events. Even spent a few days at my Dad's wake who by the way he treated like his own grandfather.
    Why I visited him was also to take a look at a computer he bought a year ago. More than twice he did asked for help before that. The first time was when he noticed it started to take a rather slow time to boot up and open. This was when I passed by his work. A small but cozy fine restaurant where good food is served. Their latte I find just right too. James is a supervisor in that branch of Almon Marina as the restaurant is called. There I got to teach him what to do with his computer while having coffee. He gingerly took down notes on how to configure it  and some more tips on computer maintenance. Second  and not too long ago was when it already failed altogether.  Well it really was bound to happen sooner or later. That I was informed when he sent a text message on my cellphone one day. Called him by phone and was able to inquire what went about. Since he has was actually not that knowledgeable technically when it comes to troubleshooting and since his residence is really that far from my place, the easiest was to suggest bringing the unit back to where he bought it to have it fix. Anyway it's still was under warranty that time. He did bring the unit back to the seller. Technician reformatted it and reinstalled the system.
    It went on just fine until one day a week ago I was online.  On Facebook we chatted telling me something's gone wrong again with the pc. Almost as immediately I told him that I will be going to personally have a look see at it the following day Tuesday. Not telling him I had this gout which rendered me almost immobilzed for the whole month. That I was just starting to move around a bit out of the house just recently. Good that didn't push through. I was already about halfway on the road when he sent another text message that he's out of his house still getting a driver's licence at the transportation agency. That he would be likely to spend the whole day just for that. So we postponed it to Thursday which was two days  ago. Enough time for me to practice my still sore foot for long distance travel.
     Day came I arrived at their apartment and finally got to see what was wrong with his desktop computer. It was a mini towered  Acer computer with a partitioned  120 gigabyte hard disk, a dual core processor, a gigabyte of DDR2 memory module running Vista Home Basic (sp1). What I didn't expect was when James informed me that the unit was already smoothly the night before. He himself was surprised as the unit was unusable the whole week. Anyhow he showed me a photo capture of his computer monitor on his monitor. It was a "blue screen of death". Not certainly sure when that was exactly taken. I failed to ask actually as I sort of felt really sleepy and tired that afternoon. What we did was switch on the machine and hope everything goes on just right. It did. However I made a few changes with its present application that were running. First and foremost get rid of a fake Norton Antivirus program and downloaded a free version from Avira. Avira Antivirus was installed and updated. Ran Windows Defender which found a threat that was left by the fake program. Later configured it's start up to run only those that are necessary, deleted unwanted applications, change it for best performance rather than having Windows control it by default. As I was already in a hurry to go back home, I strongly suggested that he run a complete virus scan before doing anything else.
    On the trip back, James handed me a present to take home. Two 4 piece-packs of large Hungarian sausages which he bought from a grocery store. Much better than what I asked for in return for my services- a hot cup of Almond Marina's cafe latte.  Honestly, that's because I intended to do the service free of charge when even the week before he initially asked what I would charge him.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Theology, Religion, Local Practice (Part 2)

    To reiterate, I am a catholic and will remain to be a catholic. No amount of persuasion or discouragement will change that. But neither would I be likely to force others to be one nor judging anyone unworthy of God's kindness and compassion. 
    The Church offers itself to the world. What was given to it by grace, it also gives back this gift gratis. The Church does not proselytize as some religions do. It rather presents itself as a living witness to the risen Christ.  This is the "religion" of the Catholic Church. Some may say that religion will not save you. On the contrary, religion means "to bind again", religiare, and is even taught to its faithful in all catechism classes. That is to bind with God. But to begin to have a relationship to Him, you need to believe in Him. What the modern man may have lost (belief), the Church has kept ever since its foundation which is faith. It is precisely in the Church where faith is found. One only has to sincerely ask of it. And what does Faith do? It gives eternal life. It enables man to rise from all misunderstandings, from suffering, from spiritual death towards everlasting life. All religions for that matter necessarily entails a relationship with the divine. The very reason people look to God. The need to be taken out of misery, a difficult situation. Man seeing himself in a mess with no one to turn to, finally kneels down in supplication and surrenders himself completely to God. In this instance, man seeks to be saved from realized depravation. 
    However, if religion is taken to mean as some kind of a formal structure like a club or a fraternity or just a fad, then the difference of opinion against it will hold true. It will surely not save anybody.
    In Faith, the Church receives  into its fold those who seek eternal life baptizing them in the "name of the Father, of the Son , and of the Holy Spirit". Herewith are excerpts from the Holy Scriptures invoked in the sacrament of Baptism:
    "Father, you give us grace through sacramental signs, which tell us of the wonders of your unseen power. In baptism we use your gift of water, which you have made a rich symbol of the grace you give us in this sacrament.
At the very dawn of creation your Spirit breathed on the waters, making them the wellspring of holiness.
The waters of the great flood you made a sign of the waters of baptism, that made an end of delusion and a new beginning of goodness.
Through the waters of the Red Sea you led Israel out of slavery, to be an image of God's holy people, set free from delusion by baptism,
In the waters of the Jordan your Son was baptized by John and anointed with the Spirit.
After his resurrection he hold his disciples: "Go out and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit."

   "Thus says the Lord God: I will take you away from among the nations, gather you from all the foreign lands, and bring you back to your own land. I will sprinkle clean water upon you. I will refresh your heart and enhance the spirit within you, enlivening your natural hearts. I will put my spirit within you and make you live by my statues, careful to observe my decrees. You shall live in the land I have given your fathers; you shall be my people, and I will be your God." 

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Theology, Religion,, Local Practice (Part 1)

    It makes me shudder at the thought of writing on the subject of theology. On religion,  I am admittedly bias, as I am and will always be a Catholic. As to local practices, I can very well rely on experiences with different parishes and localities I've been to. But generally, I would observe, research, and listen to different opinions or beliefs with an open mind as much as possible. Mainly my resources in the forming of my own "credo" and thoughts were from the education I had under the Benedictine Fathers, the school library, from the catecheses given in the neo-catechumenate. The last one just mentioned was considerably more extensive as it involved frequent reading of the Scriptures coupled with references on a book by Xavier Leon Dufour-  Dictionary of Biblical Theology. Dufour's Dictionary is just to sort of  put one's mind in the right perspective when it comes to certain terms encountered in the Bible. This does not, as a matter of course, exclude some inspiring works of non-Catholics. There are also the Jewish Midrash and Ditriech Bonhoeffer's works as reference. Years have been spent on "searching" the Scriptures in prayer and sometimes in solitude. It is also done together in community as much as individually. Involvement in the neo-catechumenal activities  is almost endless.  
    Speaking of theology, what makes me hesitate when it comes to,say, expounding on  it?  Frankly speaking, I do believe there are more competent people than I am when it comes to that. Both Catholics and non-Catholics alike have their own theologians. From my church, there are the Bishops and priests not to mention some of the religious brothers and nuns and laymen who have successfully pursued a doctorate's degree in Theology. Nevertheless one may indeed reach a certain amount of competency with regards to the subject even with a minimum amount of formal education. So if I may consider myself as such( i.e., a bit competent), I will attempt to say a little about theology or what it means to me. And all of it would seem to be like going through Theology 101 again.
    Theology commonly means the study of the divine, of God. This we all know. But would it not be better to focus on some questions to better understand it in layman's term. "Who is God for me?" This was initially asked of all members of our community. I found this simpler than the cold calculating almost theoretical approach done in school sometimes bordering on the metaphysical.
    The God that I know of, is He who is somewhere up in the sky that hears my plea whenever I am in a difficult situation and provides relief? Is He someone who just sits in a throne looking down on His mortal creation and lets them go on with their own business having been given free will. Is He someone I can hurt when I commit some misdeeds, that I can sort of hit Him as if using a bow and an arrow or with a six shooter can put Him down? The point then is that, being God, He is someone that comes in my own history. God acts on His own volition in a concrete manner in many events of my life.  If I may cite just this once these verses from Psalm 8:
3 I look up at your heavens, shaped by your fingers, at the moon and the stars you set firm-
4 what are human beings that you spare a thought for them, or the child of Adam that you care for him?
5 Yet you have made him little less than a god, you have crowned him with glory and beauty,
6 made him lord of the works of your hands, put all things under his feet,
7 sheep and cattle, all of them, and even the wild beasts,
8 birds in the sky, fish in the sea, when he makes his way across the ocean.
I have only to realize this- God's intervention as proof that He does exist.  But it is essential for me or for many others as well to look into the Scriptures to comprehend or at least to be aware of what's going on in my life, to see my life in parallel to the history of salvation. In particular, it is as necessary to read the the Old Testament, ponder and reflect  on it. Hence it may be said that the knowledge I have of God is experiential and not something "boxed in" my mind only. He is not stereotyped, not able to change, unable to exist outside that small locked room in our head. He is a God who is a living God. He is a God who humbled Himself first by being born of a woman. He walked among peoples, suffered a crime He did not commit and was nailed on a "tree", and died. But being a Son of God, He was resurrected. If I can find myself realizing this saving grace in all events of my life, suffice it to say then that to be what for me theology is.

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