Dec 2 2016

First World Problems

Adel Gabot



I am so struck by how different our lives are, between a first-world developed country like the United States and ours, a third-world backwater republic called the Philippines.

I regularly monitor the tech beat, you know, just to keep up with what’s new in the world, and I am often amazed by the kind of world-crushing problems Americans regularly complain about. Like what internet-connected automated locks they should pick for their front door, or what dishwasher with the best all-around features they should buy, while we here worry about simple things like how to put the next meal on the table.

So I am very, very amused to happen upon this sad sack story about a First World Problem on an American website called Apartment Therapy. The post is entitled “Getting a Roomba For The Holidays? Learn From This Family’s Poopocalypse.”

In short, this family’s Roomba was set to automatically clean the house at 1:30AM every night. Little did they know that sometime during one night, their dog had pooped on the rug in their living room. As a result, their Roomba had run over the fresh poop and then went on its merry way cleaning the whole house in the night while they family was asleep. And spreading the shit all over.

To quote Jessie, the hapless home owner:

It will be on your floorboards. It will be on your furniture legs. It will be on your carpets. It will be on your rugs. It will be on your kids’ toy boxes. If it’s near the floor, it will have poop on it. Those awesome wheels, which have a checkered surface for better traction, left 25-foot poop trails all over the house. Our lovable Roomba, who gets a careful cleaning every night, looked like it had been mudding. Yes, mudding – like what you do with a Jeep on a pipeline road. But in poop.

Then, when your four-year-old gets up at 3am to crawl into your bed, you’ll wonder why he smells like dog poop. And you’ll walk into the living room. And you’ll wonder why the floor feels slightly gritty. And you’ll see a brown-encrusted, vaguely Roomba-shaped thing sitting in the middle of the floor with a glowing green light, like everything’s okay. Like it’s proud of itself. You were still half-asleep until this point, but now you wake up pretty damn quickly.

And then the horror. Oh the horror.

So, first you clean the child. You scrub the poop off his feet and put him back in bed. But you don’t bother cleaning your own feet, because you know what’s coming. It’s inevitable, and it’s coming at you like a freight train. Some folks would shrug their shoulders and get back in bed to deal with it in the morning. But you’re not one of those people – you can’t go to sleep with that war zone of poop in the living room.

So you clean the Roomba. You toss it in the bathtub to let it soak. You pull it apart, piece-by-piece, wondering at what point you became an adult and assumed responsibility for 3:30am-Roomba-disassembly-poop-cleanups. By this point, the poop isn’t just on your hands – it’s smeared up to your elbows. You already heard the Roomba make that “whirlllllllllllllllll-boop-hisssssssss” noise that sounds like electronics dying, and you realize you forgot to pull the battery before getting it wet. More on that later.

Oh, and you’re not just using profanity – you’re inventing new types of profanity. You’re saying things that would make Satan shudder in revulsion. You hope your kid stayed in bed, because if he hears you talking like this, there’s no way he’s not ending up in prison.

Then you get out the carpet shampooer. When you push it up to the rug – the rug that started it all – the shampooer just laughs at you. Because that rug is going in the trash, folks. But you shampoo it anyway, because your wife loved that damn rug, and you know she’ll ask if you tried to clean it first.

Then you get out the paper towel rolls, idly wondering if you should invest in paper towel stock, and you blow through three or four rolls wiping up poop. Then you get the spray bottle with bleach water and hose down the floor boards to let them soak, because the poop has already dried. Then out comes the steam mop, and you take care of those 25-ft poop trails.

And then, because it’s 6am, you go to bed. Let’s finish this tomorrow, right?

The next day, you finish taking the Roomba apart, scraping out all the tiny flecks of poop, and after watching a few Youtube instructional videos, you remove the motherboard to wash it with a toothbrush. Then you bake it in the oven to dry. You put it all back together, and of course it doesn’t work. Because you heard the “whirlllllllllllllll-boop-hissssssss” noise when it died its poopy death in the bathtub. But you hoped that maybe the Roomba gods would have mercy on you.

Wow. Wow. But serves you right, you coddled, spoiled first-worlders with your fancy Roombas!

More about this hilarity from Jessie’s Facebook Page.

Nov 27 2016

Watching TV in a live concert

Adel Gabot



I was rewatching Adele: Live in New York City this morning, and I noticed a curious thing: whenever the footage switched to a combined shot showing Adele in the foreground and a large video monitor showing the live concert in the background, I found myself unconsciously watching the video monitor instead of the more accessible, vibrant foreground of the actual concert.

Eh? What the hell?

I remember catching myself doing the same thing in actual live concerts, and have to consciously remind myself to watch the actual damn show happening right in front of me instead of watching it on a monitor. I didn’t pay an inordinate amount to go to a live show and just watch television in a concert hall, dammit.

I think this is a consequence of our incessant media watching that it’s become an ingrained and unconscious habit to turn to a video monitor and watch when one presents itself. Even when it’s doing a redundant function such as providing better visuals of a live concert to the cheap seats far in the back.

It’s not as if I can help it. It’s an automatic response, a Pavlovian reaction. I don’t even think about it, I just do it. It’s a function of the current technological stage we’re living in that we unconsciously watch a video monitor whenever there’s one around, regardless of the situation or environment at that time. It’s so deep-seated as to be a fundamental instinct.

We have to remind ourselves that there’s a time and a place for everything, and when the actual reason for the video coverage is happening right there, in flesh and blood, breathing and thinking and reacting, singing and dancing and acting, we need to watch that actual thing instead of watching reproduced pixels and phosphors on a bright screen. When the actual thing is long gone, or the actual thing is not happening in front of us and we don’t have easy access to it, then that’s the time we consider watching the footage on video.

So there.

Wala lang. Just ranting.

Nov 23 2016

I forgot—again

Adel Gabot


Here I go again, forgetting that malls now open at 11AM instead of the customary 10AM for the Christmas season. I went to Cubao at 9:58AM (Cubao is my base of operations of late), and realized that, once again, I was an hour early to do anything constructive here. Crap.

Now I have to kill time at the Ali Mall Starbucks. Unlike the mall, they opened at 8. But I wasn’t in the particular mood for coffee; I just had some Barako before leaving the house, and I was still buzzing from it. So I’m just sitting here passing away the time until the malls open and idly writing a blog post.

It started here. Ali Mall began their new one-hour-later schedule last week, earlier than all the other malls, and that was a painful lesson to learn, but I managed to after a couple of days of killing the extra hour off. I just hadn’t realized the other malls in Cubao, and presumably malls all over Metro Manila, had joined the club.

I’m actually here to load up my PayMaya Visa credit card, the only card I have at the moment, having painfully learned my fiscal lessons long ago. It’s actually more of a debit card, and it has to have sufficient funds to buy the stuff you’re ordering first before it lets you buy them. Which is just how I like it: a credit card that doesn’t incur any credit.

It took me a while before I could work off the immense credit card debt I had amassed before, and I wasn’t going through that mess again. I didn’t have the necessary discipline to have a credit card, I guess. I’m buying some stuff online, and need to deposit funds into the card so I could. Which was why I was here.

I could have loaded the cash into the card at the SM Payment Center of their grocery at the basement of SM Cubao; they were open at 8, but I found out this morning that only the Payment Center on the 3rd floor had the ability to load PayMaya cards. So I had to wait for it to open at 11.

So, it’s almost 10 and the mall itself is almost open, and I can walk through the causeway directly to the 3rd floor of SM and finally load up my card. Here we go.

Sheesh, what a waste of an hour.

At least I got to write this.


Nov 20 2016

Memories of Marcos

Adel Gabot




Ever since I had my stroke in late 2009, memories of certain random things have been hazy at best, non-existent at worst. So my memories of the Marcos era and the little parts I played in it are unreliable, but some stick out clear as a bell.

My clearest memory is from September 1972, when I was 10 years old. Martial Law was just declared that Thursday. We were living in a house in BF Homes Novaliches, and as were decades from the social connectivity we have now and we mostly kept to ourselves (we also didn’t listen to the radio or watch TV much), we weren’t quite privy to the news until the following Monday. I remember that very clearly.

My dad was a military officer on leave then when Martial Law was declared, and as such, was absent from work. We only found out about the declaration four days later, and he was worried he’d be considered a deserter and be court-martialed and locked up. Thank God nothing came of it.

I also remember the whispered rumors and undercurrents of worry at the time, when journalists, critics, dissidents and enemies of the Marcos regime were being taken in the night, locked up, tortured and killed. But being as young as I was, it was like a distant worry and I didn’t really pay it much attention and went on with my life.

As I grew up I became more aware of the trouble, and I as entered college, I joined the protest movements and became a minor member of the UP Student Council. I became close friends with some of the notable protestors and activists of the time, like Lean Alejandro and Malou Mangahas. I joined demonstrations and marches and all that. I remember a lot of us were rounded up, and some just disappeared, never to be seen again. Those were scary times.

Admittedly, I was partly there because of the need to belong to something, but mostly because I also believed in the cause. How could you not? When I got into the job market after college and the mother of major demonstrations occurred in 1986, I was on EDSA with the masses, and we finally overthrew the dictator and his corrupt regime.

Now, 30 years later, after languishing in a refrigerator for years, that bastard’s long dead corpse was secretly buried in the Libingan ng Mga Bayani, facilitated by our idiotic new president and allowed by our esteemed but unfeeling Supreme Court. It is an honor he certainly does not deserve, and people are up in arms. Some people at least.

In this country, people’s memories are short, and they have allowed the dictator’s family to continue to hold top positions in goverment, much less prosecute and convict them for their family’s many heinous crimes against us.

Many don’t care about what went down in the LNMB last Friday. Protests are happening all over, yes, but I suspect that won’t really last long, and pretty soon we’ll all carry on as if nothing had happened. Again.

I sincerely worry about the Philippines.

Nov 17 2016

Mysterious drive deaths

Adel Gabot

Expansion 3.5 Pkg WW


I can’t figure it out.

I’ve been having a lot of external disk drives dying on me recently. As in a lot, and I’ve been pushed to the absolute limit, with no extras, no slack.

It started first with my 4TB Seagate Central NAS drive. It just quit on me. One morning, it wasn’t on my desktop, and when I went to check, it wouldn’t even light up. I tried different power supplies to hopefully revive it, but nada. That particularly hurt, as my entire media library was housed in its massive size. I had to rebuild the library from scratch. (The silver lining was, I got rid of all the detritus I collected over the years and just kept the files I really really liked.)

Then went my 2TB GoFlex Desk a few months later. This was also a painful loss, as I had invested in an very expensive Thunderbolt adaptor for it so I could extract the then-fastest access speeds from the drive. I’d been using it as a data archive and a place to dump all the bits and pieces of miscellany I collected here and there. Now it was dead, or close it it. I was able to revive it, but it’s now dog-slow, as in it takes hours to copy a simple MP3, making it practically useless. In the meantime I have a very expensive Thunderbolt adapter as a paperweight.

Then it was my 2TB Buffalo CloudStation NAS drive’s turn to bite the bullet. It just went belly-up, and no amount of repair and restore could bring it back to life. That makes a total of 8TB of storage gone so far.

Next to go was my GoFlex Satellite, a 500GB portable drive that had wifi circuitry and a battery built into its small frame I was using for my mobile needs. It was nice. I just had to turn it on and then slip it back into my bag, and I had oodles of storage space for my iPad and iPhone. That was also painful, because of the battery and wifi it cost nearly P10k back then.

Then, a couple of months ago, my venerable old dedicated Time Machine backup drive, a big, bulky 750GB Western Digital (was it WD? Or was it Seagate? I can’t even remember; gotta check) went dead after many faithful years of service, leaving me without reliable backup for my iMac. (I had to buy a new 1TB portable drive to take up the slack and revert to after-update backups instead of the automatic every-hour-on-the-hour backups I’d gotten accustomed to. As a result, I had some extra space, so I doled out my media library around my drives so I wouldn’t have them all in one basket this time.)

Next on the dead pile was a 500GB internal 2.5″ laptop drive I had housed in a cheap CDR-King enclosure which I had been using as one of my Media Drives. This one was for my various media downloads from YouTube, Vimeo and many other sources, so it wasn’t that painful a loss. But still.

Last week, the little old white Seagate external I’d been using to backup my laptops with Time Machine died too. It was just 256GB, but it was enough for the occasional backup of my MacBooks. Thing was, I actually managed to restore it over the weekend, so it was just a near-miss this time. It’s working fine so far.

Finally, I also had another near-miss just last Tuesday with my main system on the iMac, the big kahuna. I’ve been noticing a slowdown in operation over the past week, and it had progressively gotten worse until I was seeing the spinning beach ball much too often. As in every other click of the mouse. I did a quick check, and I was informed by Disk Utility to back up the 1TB home drive immediately and restore the system from my backup. Ugh. So I erased the hard disk, reinstalled Sierra from my bootable USB drive and restored my setup from my Time Machine backup. Took me almost the whole damn day, but I got it done.

So there. I don’t know why this is happening to me. Either my system is just getting old, or something nefarious is occurring. It just feels weird that this is all happening to me within a short period.