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Saturday, June 30, 2007

My Baby Lappy

I didn't expect it to arrive so soon. While I was on the phone this morning, our delivery guy brought me sumpthin big. It can only mean one thing--my lappy arrived!!! I was expecting it to be delivered in my cube on Monday. But this is a very nice weekend gift. A super early Christmas gift. An early birthday gift... Well, you got the point. I love my baby ;oP

I would've opened the box right away but my digicam battery was still recharging. I had to wait after lunch before I could open my new toy. Worth the wait!
According to Wuthie, her lappy smells good the minoot she opened the box. I had to smell lappy too ;oP Smells like a brand new car.

Both edges of the lappy have foam protection. No scratches here. Thank gawd!

The remote control, Vista CD, some promo items, power adaptor, and the battery are stored in a separate box.

Alwyn was my guest photographer for this session:
It's my first time to use Vista so I'm really excited. The layout of my keyboard needs some getting used to. I don't use the numeric keypad much but it could come in handy soon. I also setup my webcam.

I need to get some applications, like Photoshop CS3 (very important for my blog), MS Office 2007, codecs for my movie watching, UltraEdit, etc. Can't wait to post my first blog entry using my lappy.

Oh, Tom is visiting too. That makes it a double celeb. We're checking out Shenandoah tomorrow!

Friday, June 29, 2007

The Real Knottydon

Will the Real Salvador Balan, please stand up?

I was surprised to get an Amazon credit card this morning. I tried to get a credit card last week so I can get a 30-dollar discount out of my Amazon purchase. I didn't know that it would be approved very quickly.

I immediately bought the latest Harry Potter book, to be delivered on the 21st.

I checked the leaflets that came with the card and found out that the Chase bank is associated with the Amazon credit card. I don't think we have a Chase bank here so I don't know how to pay for the item. I went back online and canceled my order.

I then called their customer service. This Indian woman asked for the usual ID information. But then she said, "I don't think you are Salvador Balan". How could she actually know how "Salvador Balan" sounds like? I said, "I am Salvador Balan!". Then she transferred me immediately to their Fraud Department without listening to me (am actually rolling my eyes now).

The guy who answered the phone asked for details. Yes, I've lived in Illinois before. He mentioned many addresses that I couldn't remember anymore if I've ever lived in. Then he told me someone would contact me in the next 24 hours and my Amazon account is temporarily suspended. Rrrrright....

I just wanna ask how I could pay for my Amazon purchase and this is what I got.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Tanya Arabella

Here's a couple of photos of my latest goddaughter named Tanya. Too bad I couldn't attend her baptismal rite. Chubby cheeks like mine.

Update on my Coin Collection

When I got my change from my lunch with Linda the other day, I got an unfamiliar quarter with a bird design. Inspected the State. It says, "Idaho". Checked the year. It says, "2007". Whaddyaknow! I got a new quarter!!!

7 to go: Wyoming, Utah, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arizona, Alaska and Hawaii.

When I get back home, I'll put a glass on this baby so it would look better. It would look really nice in my bedroom.


Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Moe Pictures

It's been 2 days now without a van. I had to bring my laptop at work so even if it's a tad heavy I carried it with me to work. It's so hot outside and after walking for only a few yards, I could see sweat prints appearing on my polo shirt already.

Halfway to the office, I noticed that I didn't have my ID. Sheeeeeeeeeeeeep!

Went back home and drank some cold water. Got my ID and brought a face towel. Am sweating like a hog.

At work, I quickly changed to my gym shirt. I hung my shirt to dry.

nda and I brought our lunch at Moe's. I surveyed the menu and got myself some Homewrecker. I told the server that I didn't want beans nor guacamole in my meal. Brenda told me that she has some soda at home so I didn't buy one. I was given a bag of chips. Before we left the resto, I had to have my photo taken with The Sombrero.
At her place, we ate our lunch indoors 'cause it's too hot outside the patio. I still think that Chipotle is the best Mexican grill resto.

Played with Sago and Roca before heading back to the office. Brenda gave 'em some ice wedges. Sago loved it.
After work today, (thanks, Brenda for bringing me home), I went outside to take some photos. I've been playing around with the macro feature of my camruh.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Chinese For a Day

Before Linda and I went shopping at Costco this afternoon, we had lunch at a nearby Chinese resto called "Golden China". They have a smaller buffet selection compared to "King's Buffet". I love Chinese food so I'm happy that Linda let me choose where we eat for lunch ;oP

Got some egg drop soup, beef with broccoli, chop suey, and chicken with plum sauce. Mmmm... yum-O. I had to get a second helping (smaller this time) of the same set of food.
Oh, it's Linda's treat too. Thanks, Linda!

My fortune says I have a new business development coming up. I wonder what that is.

At Costco, I bought long grain rice & cooking oil for the apartment and toothbrushes & toothpaste for myself.

It's my turn to cook tonight so I prepared my beef and veggies. I let Mark and Randy taste one of my favorite dishes to cook: Beef with Broccoli. Mark commented, "Pang-restaurant!". Cool!
Told them that I got the recipe from "Wok with Yan". I think I've perfected this dish already too.

We went to the other apartment afterwards to continue playing "Cash Flow". But when I found out that Alwyn already got a copy of "Shutter", I asked everyone if they'd like to watch a movie instead. Then a series of problem came. Alwyn forgot to download the subtitle. When we found one after some minoots, it was not in English. So we tried again and succeeded finally.

We connected Ruthie's brand new laptop to the ginormous teevee but w
e didn't have a decent speaker. We tried Mike's new iPod speakers but it didn't work. We didn't have the right cable. We tried to use other cables but sadly, nuthin' worked. Last resort was to use the laptop speakers.

The lead characters look like Piolo Pascual and Sarah Geronimo. I joked that "Natre" look like Noel in wig. While watching the film, we can't help but make some funny comments. Some scenes were predictable too.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Such a Crappy Day

Woke up to a ringing phone. It was Mike. We'll be dropping off Noel and Rene at the airport. Good thing, Dulles Airport is just 15 minoots away from our place. I only had 3 hours of sleep. Crap!

Bid goodbye to two of our friends. We're down to 7. Later this week though, Lizette would be joining the Ashburn Club.

Went back home and cooked brekky. We prepared for our DC trip. Left the apartment around 9:30.

With Mike behind the wheel and Mark as the navigator, I was able to doze off on our way to DC. We took Sully (28 South) then passed by the airport again. Shortly after, the "O/D off" began blinking again. Then smoke came out of the van. Randy advised Mike it's his call (since he's the driver) if he wants to pull over. I asked Mark to lower down his window so we won't suffocate.

Mike stopped by the side road. Then we got out of the car. We noticed a long streak of transmission oil marks on the road. This is bad, I thought. Then one of the guys noticed that we had a flat tire too. That's bad news numero dos. We checked if we have a spare. Found it underneath the van. But the bad thing is, we don't have tools. Bad news number 3.
Alwyn called our boss for help. While waiting for him, many cars passed us by without anyone stopping. Since we couldn't do much at all, we just took the op to take some photos.
Then a black Nissan van stopped behind us. A guy named Guot or GJ asked us if we need help. He offered his tools. Unforch, the car wrench was too big for us. We couldn't use it at all. Back to square one for us. Before he left, we thanked him and got a souvenir shot with our good Samaritan.
A familiar red van pulled over on the other side of the road. It was Hugh. He brought some tools with him to help us. After 20 minoots or so, the ordeal was over. Or so we thought. A cop stopped behind us. He wanted to know what's goin' on. He also questioned the expired registration sticker on our license plate. Hugh talked to him. The cop asked who the driver was. Mike approached him and presented him some docs. After 5 minoots, he left. All I can say is that, he ain't nice in my books. He's not your usual nice and courteous cop.

When we're about to leave (Hugh's taking us home with his van), Mike informed us that the car ain't movin. Ugh! Hugh called a towing service. We had to wait for the tow truck to arrive before we could go home.

Hugh took us home except Randy and Mike. We're so hungry that we decided to just order pizza at Vocelli's. I got 2 large thin crust. The food arrived at 2. So famished.

Brought the MagicSing and my lappy at the other apartment. We also waited for the other guys to arrive. Around 2:30, they arrived with Hugh. We heard that Randy set off the alarm at our office building. Teehee...

Our DC plan didn't push through but it was an interesting day 'cause so many not-so-good things happened.

On a more fun note, I played "Cash Flow" for the first time today with Pattie, Ruthie, Mike and Mark. Mark gladly explained the game rules before we began. I learned that it's otay to take risks--I bought a stock for 100 shares. I got 3K in return ;oP I'm also getting rid of my debt little by little. I bought a 3BR/2Ba house. I had fun shouting "Paycheck!". You know where my cheese
(my goal) is located? I put it on "Cruise the Mediterranean". We only played for an hour though. We'll continue the game next time.

Are You Afraid of the Dark?

After our shrimp sinigang dinner last night, Mark, Randy and I shared the leftover cheesecake we bought from Cheesecake Factory. Mmmmm.... So good, lemme tell you. We talked about 80s local tv shows like "Pinoy Thriller", "Regal Shockers", and "Twilight Zone". Oh, Randy can recite the full "Ano ang nasa dako paroon" intro. If you cannot remember, here it is:

"Ano ang nasa dako paroon
Bunga ng malikot na pag-iisip
Likha ng balintataw
O halaw sa isang daigdig ng kababalaghan
Di kayang ipaliwanag
Ngunit alam mong magaganap" (cue sound effects)

I'm sure it will bring back lotsa memories. Mark has a truckload of stories. I had fun listening to them. He talked about the fever man, the cat who fights the devil every other night, etc. I shared some stories from what I remember from "The Twilight Zone".

We then called Mike over for some coffee. Then, the more freaky stories were shared. It's like, we have opened a Pandora's box of Stephen King skewwy novels. Randy's encounter with a shadowy entity when he passed over a cemetery with his brother. He also shared the black dog who wants to take away his grandfather's amulet (anting-anting). Mark shared some frightening Japanese stories involving a lady without a face, a lady whose smile goes from ear to ear and asks little kids if she's beautiful (if you answer yes, she'll call you a liar and will kill you; if you answer no, she'll kill you anyway; a really trick question), etc. I told them about stories I got from my last trip to Bataan. If you're not afraid to read 'em, just click on the link.

Horror movies was the next topic. "Blair Witch Project" was the scariest film for me especially that scene where Mike was standing in one corner (fuck, it gives me goosebumps now). I told them that "The Exorcist" was filmed here in Georgetown. According to Mark, "Blair Witch Project" was shot in Maryland. We're surrounded by eerie places ;oP

We also watched the infamous "Three Men and a Baby" scene from YouTube where it captured a supposedly dead kid on film. Turned out that it's not really a ghost but a cardboard cutout (like the ones you see at the mall). 'twas a good scare though.

It was already past midnight and we still had to wake up early for the airport & DC trips. Mike didn't wanna walk home so we all went to the other apartment. Nobody wanted to be the last person walking so we walked side by side. Teehee....

At their apartment, Pattie was still up. So we told her about the main topic for the night. Ruthie and Noel joined us afterwards. Ruthie shared her most unforgettable story: during the wake of her grandmother, this happened when she was 4, she awoke to find her leg being dragged by the ghost of her deceased grandmother. Every time the death anniversary of her grandmom comes around, she dreams of her till her college days.

Noel talked about their weird house where his wife had a dream of an entity in hood with the scythe visiting their first born son. A relative visited them and stayed for the night. She too had the same exact dream. Creepy!

'twas almost 3 when we had to call it a night. A nice bonding session. I miss the daily pantry chit-chat session so much. This makes up for it... big time!

Sunday, June 24, 2007

My First Digicam

Honestly, I always wanna be the subject in photos (as you can see here in my blog). Whenever Alwyn or Ruthie is carrying a camera, I don't mind asking for a shot. This time though, I don't mind pressing the shutter button.

I already made up my mind that I won't be buying anymore those ridiculous phones with high megapixels. Nokia has really let me down in many occasions. So after reading the online reviews (thanks, Gizmodo) of the latest digicams in the market today and looking at this sample photo, I found my new baby: Canon PowerShot SD850 IS.

This morning, I asked Chad to accompany me to the nearest Circuit City. Along the way, we found some yard sale.
I miss the days when I scout for garage sales on Sundays. Anyhoo, I got myself a US flag worth 50 cents. When I gave my dollar to the lady homeowner, I asked if I could buy it for 25 cents. She said, "Yes". I guess my charm still works ;oP

When we reached Circuit City at Sterling, it was still close. It opens at 10. We decided to have brekky first at McDonald's.

Then it was time to buy my first ever digicam. I asked the associate if they have a promo for digicams. He gave me a 50 dollar discount. Not bad, eh? I didn't buy any accessory yet 'cause I could find cheap ones in Amazon. That's what my friend, Alwyn, did when he got himself his SD 800.

When I got home, I immediately tried out my new gizmo. Took some sample pictures. Alwyn gave me some docs on digital photography. There's this "Rule of Thirds", which is about the positioning of your subject in your photo. Here's my first photo taken from my new cam:
Don't mind the ugly feet. The thing here is that I could've taken just my feet and position it at the center. That can be boring at times. But, what I did, I positioned the subject way off the center to make it more dramatic.

Furthermore, if you divide this picture into 3 columns and 3 rows, here's what will happen:
No, I'm not goin' to play tic-tac-toe. Notice the intersection of the lines? The advice is to place your subject on these intersecting points 'cause this is the place where the eyes normally go (points of interest). My new cam has this button that you could press and it will give you these grid lines automatically. Sweet!

As for landscape shots, here's what you can try: Position the sky portion on the upper third. Your main subject can be positioned on the lower third but not practically at the center. Most photographs from mags do this technique. And not entirely exclusive to sceneries!

Am studying now digital photography so whenever I learn sumpthin' new, I'd share them with you. I'll leave you with this macro shot (a nice segue to my next topic).

Saturday, June 23, 2007


Finally, I got to taste the sumptuous cheesecake at Cheesecake Factory again! So far, I've been to two different branches: one in Chicago and the other one in DC. There's this one time when I celebrated my birthday there with my evil twin sister, Joyish. Can't forget the chicken teriyaki and the lettuce wraps. Anyhoo, I was invited to a lunch get together with some officemates and friends at the Dulles Towne Center branch.

The group of Rene, Noel, Steve, and Pete went there first 'cause we still had to wait for our friend, Mark. While waiting for him, we had some photo op. It's kinda funny because many peeps passed by and gave us this weird look. One even asked if it's the day job of Alwyn.
Around 1, we decided to leave Mark. When we reached the resto around 1:30ish, we still didn't have a table. Turned out that it's also hard to get tables here especially during lunch time. Unlike in Chicago, this resto doesn't have a whimsical-themed interiors. We noticed it's a bit Egyptian inspired.
Pete suggested that we share food. Alwyn and I shared chicken teriyaki. Ruthie & Pattie ordered some pork tenderloin. Mike & Randy got the Jamaican shrimp. Pete & Steve shared the orange chicken. I dunno what Rene & Noel ordered. Sumpthin' spicy I heard.
When the food arrived, it was delish! I even ordered an extra teriyaki sauce for my chicken. But of course, we had to order the house specialty: cheesecake. Most of us got the Godiva cheesecake. Since it was already late, we had to have 'em packed for later consumption.

Back at the office, I worked on some illos on our proposed system overview. Pattie handed me my Godiva cheesecake. Oh my god! It was heavenly! The best cheesecake I've ever tasted in my whole life. A must try! A piece of advice though, get some water when you eat it.

At 5 pm, I, again, got invited to a send-off party for Noel & Rene at Lansdowne. It's my second time here. It's a first for Pattie, Randy, Ruthie, Mark, and Mike.
This time, I drank Sierra Nevada beer (with a hint of lychee) and some Cabernet. I asked Jeff about vineyards here in Virginia. He told me to check out Hidden Brook and Tarara. I wanna take photos of different vineyards. Of course, I wanna taste some good red wines.

I also became Pattie's adviser on beer. First she ordered YuengLing. According to her, it tastes like San Mig Light. Then she got some PiƱacolada. She didn't like it so I had to finish it for her.

For the first time, we played the shuffleboard. Sasha helped us with the rules of the game.
Other peeps played billiards and darts. I stayed with my wine. I also didn't eat much. I was still full from our late lunch. I took a bite out of a chicken wing, had a shrimp popcorn, and ate some nuts with wasabi.

Around 8:30, we called it a day. We took some more photos outside the Lansdowne resort.
The fun didn't stop there. My friend, Chad, came over and we watched "Evan Almighty". We even saw the Kerrs there! Small world, eh? I like this movie better than "Bruce Almighty". I think Steve is funny. I also like the message of the film: Do a little act of random kindness ;oP

Friday, June 22, 2007

Back to King's Buffet

The plan was to have lunch at Cheesecake Factory at Dulles Towne Center. But it was already almost one pm when the group got together for lunch. Instead of sticking to the plan, we just looked for a quick meal. On the way out of our office building, we saw Lieu, a lady who works for our mother company. She suggested that we eat at King's Buffet. It's been awhile since we last ate here and it's a first for most of the group so we tried it out.

I had some seafood soup first and a couple of dumplings before going after the big meal. I had two servings. Picked out my favorites: honey chicken, corn kernels, buttered shrimp and squid. Delish!

Our 9 dollars (inclusive of tax & gratuity) was well worth it. Now, I gotta burn the calories in the gym ;oP

On other news, I finally got the Rayman Raging Rabbids Wii game that I bought from my good friend, Weng. Her son, Juwan, has already finished the game so it's not that challenging anymore. I heard they got Zelda.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Salmon Teriyaki & Tofu with Nori

Every once in a while you come across a recipe that you'd like to tell your friends about. Special thanks to Alwyn for coming up with this very simple menu. The ingredients are basic and you can get 'em at your local supermarket. The prep time is 30-45 minoots (you can even do this the day before) and the cooking time is like 30 minoots. Eat your heart out, Rachael Ray!

Here are the ingredients:
1 lb salmon fillet (check the bones)
100 ml teriyaki sauce (the more, the merrier)

Combine equal parts of water and teriyaki sauce. In a sauce bowl, marinate your salmon (cut into chunks) in the teriyaki sauce. Salt and pepper to taste. Allow 30-45 minoots for the salmon to absorb the taste. Can be done overnight too.

Cooking instructions:
While you broil the salmon, cut the tofu into thin strips. Fry in medium heat. Arrange your tofu with Nori strips on a plate (use paper towel).

After 30 minoots, check your salmon. Once you see the sauce gets a sticky consistency, take it out. Serve with hot rice!

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