Friday, July 23, 2010

Villa, Villa Bo Villa...

A recent e-mail update from a good friend from Dubai was a little stressful.  You ask how does it affect me and I can give you more than one reason to be stressed.

Villa 16, Room #1
I chose to stay in a villa when I was in Dubai because I feel like there is a sense of home, although I know all the risks it entails.  Until our villas were inspected and our electricity was cut.  It was illegal to stay in a shared villa.  But people is still choose to do so for other reasons than what I have.  The most popular reason would be the financial side of it.  I know there is so much more.

When our villa was raided and our electricity was cut off, we were informed that we have three days to move before they finally lock the villa.  This means that we lose all our things that we left behind.  So, I have all reasons to be stressed about this news here, Shared Villas Lose Power.  

It's been almost a year since that day, and I can still vividly remember what happened starting from that phone call to inform me about the raid.  I was stressed from that moment until the day the dust settled in the flat where I moved into.  I spent half a day looking for a place and another half packing my things.  I would have spent more than that if not for my friend who referred me to some people.  Our mover came at about 7:30 p.m. and we finished unloading a few minutes before midnight.

The decision to move into a flat was out of the fact that villas are starting to be the flavor-of-the-month of the 'baladiyas' (immigrations people).  For those who live or have lived in villas in Dubai, I know you can relate.  But for those who haven't, it was a happy-sad-rewarding-stressful-relaxed-practical-relaxed-downtoearth-humbling and much, much more.

I stayed in two villas over the span of two years.  But I wouldn't have traded everything that I experienced.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

I Just Solved a Problem

How to increase/decrease font sizes in websites

Have you ever visited a website that you just can't stand to read because the fonts are so small?

Well, you won't have that problem anymore.

I have had the same problem the other day when I went into a site and found the fonts too small (as in too small) for me to read. Naturally, I think you'll do exactly what I did…. Leave the site immediately.

The next day, I, again, visited the site, hoping they would have done some changes. The page stayed the same, so I switched to another blog entry, this time showing a page with the regular font. I read on until the comments section. Surprisingly, someone made a comment that goes something like this: 'it's a good thing this site's font is ok now. At least I didn't have to do Ctrl+ to enlarge the font and Ctrl- to get it back to normal.'

So, I tried doing Ctrl+ and alas, the fonts were enlarged.

But of course I didn't right away say, 'Wow!' I wanted to try it on other sites to make sure it is a general rule. After a few websites, it still holds true.

Just don't forget to Ctrl- to get it back to the normal font.

Please leave a comment if you tried so yourself and if it worked.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

How to (Toilet)Train Your Cats

Remember our neighbor's cat that I mentioned in this post?

She's been coming to our home almost everyday. I dunno, maybe just to play and be cuddled, I presume. Just like any pets that you want to keep or take care of, they just need three basic things: water, food and shelter. But, wait, I think cats also need some TLC. A friend of mine who's also a cat lover and owns maybe seven or eight cats (used to be about 15) just told us that cats are really very sensitive animals. We also found out that (hypertensive people, this is for you!) these felines are therapeutic. Just the stroke of their furs can calm us down and helps regulate our blood pressure.

So, I thought of telling you our secret in toilet-training cats. We used to hate cats because they just pee and poop everywhere in the house and that's just about the biggest problem we face in having them inside our house. Well, at least this was how we trained our two cats (it used to be four but two went missing about a year ago) and how my Lola trained their cats.

Although this is tradition and I have no idea if there was anything scientifically proven, it worked for our four cats. They go out every time they have to pee or poop.

For those who want to take care of cats, I recommend owning them at a very young age. Just the age that they could be separated from their parents. Otherwise, their immune system will drastically fall down and might cause death, not unless you can bring them to the vet to have some immunization boosters injected to them.

As for the toilet training, start at day one. The day you welcome them home. Carry them the way a mother cat carries her kitten (pinching them at the back of their neck, this usually immobilizes them, too) and bring them to the spot outside the house where you want them to pee and poop, and draw their noses three times to the ground at the same time saying, "Dito ka wiwiwi and dito ka pupupu (this is where you will pee, this is where you will poop)." And.... that should do it! They will never do it inside your house again.

As for our neighbor's cat, whom we named 'Basiang' (yeah, after the storm), she was just here this afternoon and played with our carpet. She was so cute and funny.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Day After Basyang

Yesterday, the day started cloudy and I found out there was a typhoon... a tropical depression that leveled up and was named Basiang.

I had to meet deadlines that's why I was half-aware.  But when night time came, we did some preparations for the night.  We stored some drinking water enough for a day and filled the buckets with clean water for washing.  We strategically placed flashlights where we can find them and put a candle and a match right in the middle of the dinner table if in case the light goes out.

It was nine o'clock at night when the winds started.  But we never expected what came upon that night.

It was 9:30pm when power started to fluctuate and it finally went out at 10:00pm.  It was not so much of a task since we all have gotten ready to go to bed.

The winds became harder at 10:00pm and got harder and harder as night falls.  My sister and I remained vigilant because we couldn't sleep at all.  We got all our pets inside including our dog who doesn't want to stay inside the house.  He stayed on that same spot with a door mat near the door all night long.  We could see that even our pets couldn't relax and get some sleep because of the very strong winds outside.  It wasn't long before we heard pieces of roofing materials flying outside our place.  This went on until 12 midnight.  But it didn't stop yet.

The winds slowed down and the rain got harder.  There was a leak in our kitchen.  Under our front door, small amounts of water started to come in from the bottom and water sprays in through our window that we had to close all the front windows.

This went on until about 3:00 in the morning.  The rain started to slow down as well as the winds, and we finally relaxed and prepared to sleep.

About 5:30 in the morning, I was awaken by our dog, leaking my face to wake me up.  I am thinking he wanted to go out of the house so badly and he thinks it was okay because the rains and the wind has stopped and it was already morning.

And these pictures were what we saw early this morning after Basiang struck last night.

Finally, Outlook for my Mails... Using GMail

On my post here, I talked about how I went through calling PLDT's customer service to assist me on how I could get my Yahoo! and Gmail mails right on MicroSoft Outlook.  My first call led me to believe that I could, but my succeeding calls proved that I just couldn't.  All because PLDT only gives this as a privilege to higher-end accounts, meaning higher monthly fees.

I gave up.  I also said on that same blog that I had an idea but never really tried it because I just thought, "What's the use?"  I didn't want to spend at least Php 20 just to find it out.

Yesterday, I thought of cleaning up both my e-mail accounts since I have been using them a lot for my freelance writing job.  I was with Gmail and stumbled upon one of their features which was sitting there all along.  I just discovered that I could get my Gmail using Outlook.  I'll try to walk you through with a few steps, but really, it's all there to guide you once you see it.

  1. Open your gmail account
  2. Click on Settings
  3. Click on Forwarding and POP/IMAP
  4. Follow the IMAP instructions to configure your Gmail to your Outlook
Well, some of you may have been using this for long, but for those late bloomers like me, this is how you can get your web-based Gmail account right in your Outlook.  

You might want to know what's in it when you have your mails at your Outlook.  For one, you can customize the way your messages look like.  You have more options when it comes to the fonts of your messages as well as your signatures.  Also, you get notified for an incoming mail even if your Outlook is closed, and there's much more to it, really.  Especially if you are one of those who can't do without MicroSoft Office OneNote.  They go hand in hand.

Now, you might have received an e-mail from me changing from my Yahoo e-mail to GMail.  But for those who haven't, just change it to and that's it.

It Used to Be Safe

I read this article Street Crime on Rise, and reminded me how it used to be safe in Dubai.

I remember working for a company with about ten people (this is my first job) and we just leave our mobile phones anywhere on our own tables and sometimes on the other person's work station and get it back even after an hour of not knowing where we left it.

This goes the same with my second job. Our office was often frequently visited by people from different walks of life looking for travel, car or life insurance and we just leave our mobile phones on the table and not be worried it might get lost anytime.

I could walk the streets talking to friends on my mobile phone and not worry that it might get snatched.

But as one of my friends said on her e-mail about a week ago, times are hard, even here in Dubai...

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Drivers on Parade

Several weeks ago, I read this story on the same newspaper. I actually saw the video footage, which after about a day or two has been blocked on the internet, at least within the UAE.  I don't know if it's taken out of YouTube for us to see nowadays though.

Then, silence.

I wanted to say that maybe I just won't have enough information thereon since it might have been totally blocked. I would have to say that still, I am at the advantage as compared to my friends from the UAE because news like these are often blocked by their providers.

Then, today, finally, an update.

Those guys who 'paraded' on the Sheikh Zayed Road had their sentence. Would you believe if I tell you that it's only AED 1,000 for each of those drivers? I was really appalled when I read about it. I was actually thinking that maybe their licenses will be taken back and they will be banned from driving within the UAE for the rest of their lives... that would mean that about 40 or more years since they are only in their 20's. But, no, all they got is AED 1,000 per person - something that a distant Dubai friend of mine paid for a year's worth of traffic violations, in which she paid with no qualms. As for these people, I know they would have taken it out from their wallets as easy as taking out AED 10 to buy them a pack of cigarettes.

When I was in Dubai, I had to do a lot of walking to and from office, not to mention running errands as part of my job. This means that I will have to cross roads maybe even more than a dozen times a day. I learned my lesson early on. I never crossed a stop sign just as soon as it turned green (pedestrian walk). I still have to make sure that every car on the front row and the next one was at a halt. You can never be so sure. One time early in the morning, I saw an accident happen before my eyes. An RTA bus was slowly stopping at red light when a white car slammed at the back of the bus, jolting it forward because of the impact. The front of the car was crashed. The passengers climbed out of the car one by one including the driver. They seemed unhurt, but were a little shaken (later on, I was debating if they were shaken off because of the accident or is it because of the booze they obviously took for the night). I didn't want to come anywhere near the scene for fear of an explosion, so I just watched as the car's passengers unload themselves to safety.

I was thankful at that time that I didn't walk on the green sign (pedestrian walk). Maybe if I did, the strength of the impact the jolted the bus forward might cause the bus to hit me.

Oh yeah, the people from the car were all Filipinos, which was very sad for me.

Now, reading this AED 1,000 fine for these locals for "partying" on the streets makes me think: How much did the Filipino driver get for what that accident?

The brief story about the driver's fine is here.

*Image grabbed from this page.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Little Surprises of Yesterday

Don't you sometimes wish that you have met some of your friends earlier in your life? Yesterday, I received a package from my former room mate in Dubai. I have known that she will be coming home this July but we never planned to meet. First is because she would only be here for two weeks, and second, I stay very far from where she'll be at most of the time. She said she brought something for me and asked for my address. It's not that I don't believe her. It's just that I've been told the same a lot of times that it gets so common that they won't keep up with it. I don't really blame them. Please don't get me wrong. I understand them, practically because almost all of them who came home stay very far from where I live. Well, guess what? Just like the jute bag I got from two of my friends from Dubai, it came.

And you know what is more surprising and more touching? I really would have asked her for this as a 'pasalubong,' but as I said, I know they'd be busy that's why I decided not to ask. But, I guess she had always known that this is part of my toiletries list, even though she's been my room mate for about five months. How I really wish we'd been room mates for a longer time. But I am a believer that everything happens in its own time. Anyhow, I know, though, that we would be friends from hereon.


Sometime last week, we heard a little kitten meowing in front of our backyard. After a looking around with a flashlight and some patience, we found him perched on an unfinished fence made of hollow blocks. We tried to feed it and let it be, since we were worried that our 4-year-old-or-so cats, Dinky and Budoy, would not like the idea. But I guess when you love pets, you simply couldn't take it hearing them crying out there somewhere. So, if it cries, we let him know by responding and making sure that we have some food prepared. It wasn't long before we noticed that he was slowly moving closer to our house. It wasn't long before it comes to our house around nine in the evening, seemingly in time for our cat's dinner. She'll stay for a while and disappear again before midnight.

Until one morning, our neighbor was looking for a kitten - the one which happens to come to our place. He took it home and we never heard from the kitten for a few days... until last night. She came, and we gave her food. It was surprising that she spent the night in front of our house and stayed until this morning for breakfast. She might not be our cat, but I know she knows she has a second home.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Side by Side

2 Cor 5:15

When I saw these flowers side by side, it's what immediately came into mind: He died, so that we may live.  But I had a hard time with the caption.  I didn't want to put it just like that.  I wanted to create a moment of ponder; for the whole message to sink in.

I hope it did.

Friday, July 2, 2010

It's Worth It

I've Pollen For You
 I was a kind of in a rush yesterday to finish my home work because I don't want to miss the chance to be with my friends.  We have been planning to go swimming even before summer started and now, rainy days are here and we are still not having fun yet.

Well, I'm sure most of you will react that I am not yet to go swimming because of my incisions and all.  But being with friends is truly fun however you put it.  So, I am going, too, even if I have to just take pictures, or grill some fish or meat (which I didn't do since none were around... they opted for ready-to-eat barbecues), or clear the table after the picnic.

The pictures from the swimming are yet to be uploaded anytime today.  But this one, I took it during my lunch break from my home work.  I just went out to check on my dog and saw two butterflies flying over the flowers in front of our home.  I just couldn't resist taking pictures since I think it's just too beautiful to miss.  I spent a few minutes under the sun waiting for this perfect moment, not to mention about two dozen attempts.

But, heck, it is just SO worth it!
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