Sunday, October 21, 2007

Not the best scan, but a great picture

This was the shot we liked best out of several we had taken professionally the other day. We were walking through a mall here in the Philippines, saw the photography studio and couldn't resist.

An Internet cafe scanned the photo for us but did a lousy job. I did my best to correct it, and although it's still slightly off, it's decent enough to post until I can return home and do a good scan myself.

I should add...I still cannot fully appreciate how lucky I am to have her. There are some complications to sort out before we can get married, and we're in fact not sure at the moment when we can get married, but I know she's the miracle of my life, and if we've waited all our lives to find each other, we can wait a little longer.


Sunday, October 14, 2007

An important announcement

This is the most important announcement of my life. I'm still in the Philippines on my vacation. And, I'm not alone.

Tonight, as the sun was setting on the beach at Boracay, she agreed to marry me. She wasn't expecting it, at least not at this time despite the very romantic setting, so in her natural shyness, she could only cover her face, smile and say, "I'm speechless! I don't know what to say." I replied, "Say yes."

So with all apologies to the single women of the world, Perry is now taken. We're both overwhelmed because everything has happened a lot faster than with most people, but it feels so right. It's still sinking in just what happened, but like some songs say:
Look at the two of us
Strangers in many ways
Let's take a lifetime to say
I knew you well
For only time
Can tell us so
And love may grow for all we know
Where do I begin?
To tell the story of how great a love can be
The sweet love story that is older than the sea
The simple truth about the love she brings to me
With her first hello
She gave new meaning to this empty world of mine
There'll never be another love, another time
She came into my life and made the living fine
She fills my heart, she fills my heart!
With many special things
With angel songs
With wild imaginings
She fills my soul with so much love
That anywhere I go
I'm never lonely
With her along
Who could be lonely?
I reach for her hand
She's always there
There's also one of my favorite James Bond themes, which I was belting out the other night at a karaoke bar in Davao, the major city in Mindanao.
For your eyes only, can see me through the night
For your eyes only I never need to hide
You can see so much in me, so much in me that's new
I never felt until I looked at you
For your eyes only, only for you
You'll see what no-one else can see, and now I'm breaking free
For your eyes only, only for you
The love I know you need in me, the fantasy you've freed in me
Only for you, only for you


Monday, October 08, 2007

Greetings from Hong Kong

It was a miserable flight. We were having mechanical difficulties with an engine at JFK, delaying our departure for almost four hours. Because Cathay Pacific's rules prohibit a crew working more than 20 hours straight, we couldn't go straight to Hong Kong as planned. We had to go to Beijing, where we stopped for a few hours to refuel, have the engine checked again, and take on a fresh flight crew. The reason Beijing was closer is because we flew over the top of the world, literally, going over the North Pole. I took several pictures of the Moon and what I think is Venus, sitting beautifully over the sunrise; we'll see how those turn out.

Right now it's 6:38 a.m. Hong Kong time. I have an hour to go before my first available connection to Manila, and in about 20 minutes I'll hit the duty free shops, once they open.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Leavin' on a jet plane, don't know when I'll be back again

I'm leaving in the morning for a vacation in the Philippines, my first time back in over 24 years. I'll be spending a lot of time in Mindanao, the Philippines' large southern island where Abu Sayyaf and all the other Muslim terrorists are based. And they're not the only concern, either. I'll be about 30 minutes away from Kidapawan, a city which just had another bombing by Mafia-style extortionists. On top of all that, anyone who looks Western is a prime target for kidnapping anywhere in the country. I look reasonably Filipino but not quite, although I should be fine.

Anyway, I expect to return on the night of the 22nd.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Zune! Big and buggy, but I think better

I've been getting a lot of new toys lately. I still love my new Dell desktop and new laptop, and I'm now enjoying my new Zune. My 2-gig Sandisk e250 has gotten a little beat up after being dropped so many times, and I wanted something with more space. Now, the Zune is really big, and I ordinarily wouldn't have paid the regular $200 retail price, but I couldn't resist's recent offer of white Zunes for $130 each. That deal has since passed. My friend Charlie told me some time ago about Woot, which offers one product every day (resetting at midnight Central Time) at a usually fantastic price. Check as soon as you can, because there's only a limited supply of whatever it is, and at these prices, popular things like Zunes, Bluetooth earpieces and high-end home theatre speakers will sell out within hours.

If I could improve the Zune, I'd add a rotating volume wheel just inside the controls, like Sandisk's e line, but the Zune's volume still adjusts nicely (up and down when playing music, left and right when playing video because you'll have moved it 90 degrees counterclockwise). Some have said, and I agree, that Microsoft designed a very intuitive interface. I haven't read the instructions yet and likely will never need to. I would have streamlined the playback menus a bit, because after you select a song or video, you must click again to play it. However, this does allow you to resume playback from the last stopping point, which Sandisk's players can't do.

I've only had it a few days, so I don't know how good battery life really is (always count on less than the specs).

The software semi-crashed on me tonight with this error message: "This operating system is currently not supported by Zune." And this is on a Vista machine! Maybe it was because I disconnected it before shutting down the software, but that's still a crazy error message. It's par for the course for Microsoft, though. I love it as a company, but whew, their software is inherently buggy.

The Zune is a bit large, but we're talking about a 3" screen. Granted, it's still the same 320x240 pixel resolution of the regular video iPods, but that half-inch makes a lot of difference. It's a beautiful TFT display, although I'm guessing it has only 65K colors. Some blacks and grays are blocky, because the screen doesn't support enough colors for proper gradation.

I was considering the new iPod Nano with video, but its screen is only 2". You might as well get an 8-gig Sandisk e280, whose 1.8" screen isn't significantly smaller. Synchronizing Sandisk's MP3 players is also much easier since they're USB flash drives. The big drawback with the Sandisk e2_0 line's video playback is that the proprietary software must be used to convert videos into monstrous Quicktime files, about 10 megs for one minute (!). The players weren't designed from the ground up to be full video players, so they can handle videos only in 10-minute segments. If you have a longer video, it's split up, and during playback there's a slight and annoying pause of 1-5 seconds between each segment.

I'll still use my 2-gig Sandisk e250 for music and my regular work commute. It's only a little slimmer than the Zune, but 1.75" wide and 2.4" long versus the Zune's 2.4" width and 4.4" length. Being 41% of the Zune's volume, my Sandisk fits much more easily in my hand, even with a protective silicone case. My Zune will primarily be for watching movies on my Metro-North commute, entertainment when I can't nap because some people are being obnoxiously loud with no consideration for others. The other day, the bitch sitting next to me pulled out her cell phone to make three different calls. Others exhibit common courtesy by going to the doors, where they're less disturbing because of the half-enclosures. Well, I had glanced at the woman with an irritated look during her first call, which didn't last much longer, and glared at her during her second call. As her third call turned into a mini-marathon, I said, "Madam, do you always insist on being so incessant?" She said not a word to me and yapped on, so I said, "I see, not only oblivious, but rude as well." She then ceased the call.