Thursday, October 30, 2008

One Lakers Game at Staples Center

I have watched basketball games since I was in grade school. Blame it on my dad who was a Toyota fan then years after, our TV set was always glued on every Ginebra game. The never-say-die attitude of Big J's team was an inspiration for its fans.

Back in college, I made it a point to watch the intense rivalry of De La Salle University and Ateneo LIVE on the court. Animo forever! I have also watched PBA games because a high school friend's dad used to manage the Astrodome so we have VIP seats when we watch the games live.

During my US trip, a childhood friend (former UAAP basketball player) gifted us with tickets ($100) to a Lakers game. At the Staples Center, I enjoyed checking the souvenir shop, seeing different kinds of Lakers memorabilia! The items were a bit expensive but what the hell, still got some stuff :) The most exciting experience for me aside from seeing Kobe play was the video clip shown to the audience!
When you go inside the arena, at first, you will see a normal basketball court---the players practicing their shots, and spectators going to their respective seats. We were a bit early so we got to see the place filled to the rafters. When the game was about to start, suddenly, there was blackout! A humongous white cloth (circular in shape) came down the court. It became an instant movie theater! A special video on Lakers' 60th year was projected to the big screen. Had some goosebumps watching it. Fabulous concept! The Americans really know how to give a fantastic show! To the max ang entertainment value! You can watch the video below...
Hey, its Magic Johnson!

Inside the arena...

Before the game...

Kobe Bryant shooting a freethrow...

AWESOME Lakers 60th year video!

The Sta. Cruz Beach Boardwalk

These images have explanations needed :)

Photos courtesy of the Twins

Location: The Sta. Cruz Beach Boardwalk, California USA
December 2007

Monday, October 27, 2008

A Storm in California (back in 2007)

December is the season for family reunions. We grew up in the Philippines so all my relatives were excited to enjoy the winter season with us. We were all gearing up to go to Lake Tahoe for some snowboarding and skiing. Havent experienced it on the mountain slopes. A cabin of more than five rooms were already rented. Ski gears were already packed and serviced at REI (one of my favorite stores!)

Suddenly, a storm hit California! And since the Americans were unfamiliar with natural disasters, highways were closed down. Their world has literally stopped. All broadcast news suggested that we STAY at home! (In Manila, any Filipino can face any disaster, sanay na e, kahit ilang castastrophe pa, tuloy ang ligaya!).

Our plans changed drastically and we just gathered at an aunt's resthouse in Roseville, Sacramento for the family get-together. But since we were determined to see snow in California, we pleaded with my aunt and uncle to drive us near a snow area for picture taking!

A bleakful sky...

Pure white...

Surreal weather...

Photos courtesy of Twin Sister :)

The "Mystery Spot" Experience in Santa Cruz

At the Mystery Spot, every law on gravity remains haywire. It is intriguing. It is crazy. It is entertaining. It is out of this world. This 150 feet in diameter tourist spot is located in the Sta. Cruz mountains. Driving there is a bit hunted---no passerbys in sight! We were surrounded by long trees and we were the only car on the road! We were just listening to the car's GPS for directions and sometimes the signal would be disconnected. Mystery was really in the air for this trip!

The trees are slanted. I wonder why?

We were early for our tour. I saw a Broom man, he was sweeping the leaves, not minding the visitors. I approached him and asked if we can go in. "No, just wait..." was his answer. It was winter time in California and since I was brought up in the tropics, the weather was uncomfortable for me. So we just sat on the bench and later, checked their gift shop.

Finally, our time has come to walk inside the Mystery Spot. Guess who approached us? The Broom man is also the Tour Guide! LOL. To think he was indifferent to his customers earlier.

The tour guide's "attitude" turned 360 degree during the tour. He was funny, authoritative, and kinda brainwashed us to believe all the wonders of the Mystery Spot! The tour took us to different "illusions"--- a cue ball rolling on its own, changing sizes of people, being balanced in an uneven table etc. Each visitor can experience this weird phenomenon inside the Mystery Spot.

Ball going uphill or an optical illusion?

Here a ball rolls uphill and then it moves back to its original place by some undefined force of its own. It was magical to see, haha!

The man in red photo was taken during the 1950s. The Broom Man-Tour Guide was shot during our tour last December 2007. Look they are both unbalanced and slanted and I tried that too!

Anti-gravitational forces caused by UFOs or aliens? Were we brainwashed into thinking there's some magnetic force? Spaceship buried below? Carbon dioxide seeps out of Earth? These are the theories given to us. But I know there is a scientific explanation somewhere...Hehe.

My take on this: Sige na nga, magpaloko tayo sa mga Kano! (Let's ride on their crazy theories). The experience is really fun and entertaining! If you have a senior citizen with you, the steps are kinda steep (its a mountain!) and it can be tiring if you're not physically fit. Some also feels dizzy after the tour. A good hiking or rubbershoes can be helpful too. Entrance costs $6 each. Below is the owner's explanation...

"Originally, we wanted to get the level ground below here for a summer home or mountain cabin, but the gentleman we were buying it from would not sell the level ground unless we purchased a strip across the entire south end of his property, including this hillside.
Finally, we bought the entire piece, mainly to get the level ground, and as we were helping the surveyor along the north line, we noted the compass to vary a small amount on the transit and spoke to him about it at that time. He said we might get that variation along a barbed wire fence or some mineral in the ground and let it pass at that.
On thinking it over later, there was no barbed wire fence near where we were at the time, and as far as we knew, no excessive mineral in this ground; so we took our own small hand compass and went up over the north line to try and check on it. The variation there was not great enough that we could tell anything about it with the point of the hill and through the brush.
On returning, we came down the little canyon or draw above here. In so doing felt very light headed or top heavy, felt like something trying to force us right off the hill. We sat down for a while to try and overcome that feeling. While sitting there we happened to look at the compass again. There, the compass had varied enough that we needed nothing to compare it with to tell that it was not correct.
We began to check from that, and we found the more checked the more we found, until we found we had this spot of ground here. About one hundred fifty feet in diameter, that so far, we have not found any instrument absolutely correct over. A portable radio will play any place over it, but with very little variation, being the nearest correct that we have found."
- Mr. Prather Original owner

465 Mystery Spot Rd Santa Cruz, CA 95065(831) 423-8897

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Zig Zagging on Lombard Street

When you go to San Francisco, one of the places to check out is America's most crooked street---Lombard St. The experience is "cute." Steep curves, dangerous slopes, and curious tourists peeping right through your homes! One can also get a glimpse of the Bay Area, Fisherman’s Wharf and the Alcatraz.

The street is one-way paved with bricks. My relatives brought us here to experience the zig-zag effect---reminded me of a road trip to Baguio minus the death-defying speed of the Pinoys drivers. Each car passing by Lombard St. drives so slow---to savor and savor and savor the sights. Yes, it can cause a traffic! Hehe.

The speed limit is 5 mph! (8 km/h). Trivia: Alfred Hitchcock chose to make 900 Lombard Street the home of John "Scottie" Ferguson in the suspense film, "Vertigo."

"Some of the classiest and most expensive Real Estate in the city, exists on Lombard Street. This Russian Hill neighborhood, somehow possesses stately mansions, condos and townhouses, even with the endless array of tourists pouring down the street every day. In the spring and through the entire summer, Lombard Street is alive with color, as the chrysanthemums, and other well tended flowers are in full bloom."

This is the best way to get a souvenir shot---when the cars are going down and people are strolling on the sidewalk. They say people can get killed rolling down Lombard Street!

Friday, October 24, 2008

The WORST Caller

I was in my “Do Not Disturb Me” mode, staying in my small abode doing some serious writing. My cellphone rang. The number was not registered in my directory. I answered it, thinking that it was another invite for me to go to a school event or something connected to a project I was concocting.

The guy knows my first name. He said it confidently. He spoke fluent English just like any university graduate who was into his mid-30s or early 40s. In my mind, I was thinking that this phone call might be the project I was waiting for (have a lot of unexpected pending projects kasi).

He was talking alien to me, giving details that made me really clueless. I was waiting for the right cue---film, screening, project---words that I knew I could comprehend but they were not coming out from his mouth. He then confirmed a price: P3,500. What?! Then he blurted out: Escort service. One night only. I was jolted. Me?! He suddenly felt that I was the wrong person. He then checked my name again. I said, “Yes, that’s correct.”

He suddenly became apologetic, saying that he saw my name and my cellphone listed at this escort service website. I even have a picture on it. He said the date I joined the network, etc. I was getting pissed with his explanations. I told him I was not familiar with the website and I don’t give my cellphone to people (that’s why my blog name has the word, PRIVATE because I love my privacy!)

At that moment, he was shrinking daw from embarrassment (Aside from his ego, I was hoping his p_n_s shrank permanently!) He is not like that daw. He was feeling really small with the way "things" were happening between us. But he was still confident that "we could be real friends." “Let’s start from the beginning. Let me introduce myself, blah blah…” He sounded desperate---really, really desperate to have a friend. How can I be friends with someone who seems to treat human beings so lowly? 3.5K is way too cheap for my company, haha.

How sad for this person to “pay” someone for company or for some quick casual sex. The word “relationship” is meaningless. There is no love. There is no joy or fulfillment in everyday existence. Life is empty. I would have wanted to enlighten him that life shouldn’t be that way. Life is so much fun especially when you are with the people you love! But on second thoughts, I remembered my parents’ reminder when I was kid: Don’t talk to strangers. Haha. Besides this was really a bad joke to my "me time" day.

With a kind rejection, I told him I am not the person he was looking for. There was a long silence. You can feel he was losing his battle. I said the kindest, “Bye,” hoping he wouldn’t get traumatize by my rejection. If this guy is willing to shed out thousands of money to have a female escort then his self-esteem must be down to the lowest level! What an unhappy, bleakful existence in this wonderful world. I have never "paid" anyone to be my friend. And I am so lucky I have the truest friends in this world who have been staying in my circle through thick or thin :)

I have lost my cellphone three times but I have always retained my old number. But in case the WORST caller rings me again, or new “customers” contact me for “bookings,” I have no choice but to change my number! And that number has been with me for more than a decade. Tsk, tsk, tsk…all because of this newfound “job” in escort service! LOL!

3.5K is way too cheap for this legs! I deserve a better deal. HAHA

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Milenyo 2006 and My Garden 2008

The super typhoon Milenyo last 2006 was very memorable for me. On that day, we lost electricity, communictation and most heartbreaking of all---our favorite mango tree! The tree was sentimental for all of us---it was with us for more than three decades. We have the same age :) The tree witnessed all our family history from the day I was born. I grew up playing "house" under its branches. As a young kid, my siblings and I would climb up to pick baby mangoes. We also had a big swing under it to enjoy the breezy air. In the neighborhood, we were the only one with an old tree that was seen from the street. When it was fruit bearing time, people from all walks of life would knock on our gate, asking for our baby mangoes for free! So when Milenyo hit us, the "death" of our mango tree was well-documentated. Suddenly, we had no shade in our house and the memories of growing up faded away.

But I never gave up on nature. Since Milenyo happened, I wanted our garden to be like a "jungle." We planted diffrent plants and trees---not knowing if it would bear fruit or if it will live, haha. Every morning, I walk to our garden to be refreshed---thankful for another fine day! Flowers, butterflies, my pet parrot and Pipay (mini pinscher) greet me and it feels so good to be one with nature. The parrot came into our life by accident. There was a big typhoon, years before Milenyo and he just landed on our "departed" mango tree. We caught him and has been a member of our family for a decade now :0

I am no green thumb but I got a Davao pomelo tree from Tagaytay City, don't know if it would bear fruit (in my wildest dreams!). We also have banana, santol, langka, atis, mango---all in its infant stages. Maybe it would take another decade or so to see its fruits or maybe not see them at all. But I planted them for our next generation. I've been in the city all my life and I would want my future family members (nieces, nephews, future kids) to experience what we had---trees to climb up and play! Hmmm...nature...