Write stuff

I’ve started two part time writing jobs over the last few weeks. The first one is at oDesk, where I post comments in a gardening forum. It’s fairly easy and pretty fun work. I’m no gardener or farmer but I’ve got my fair share of that from my elementary and high school days in our agriculture class (yeah, we mucked about in “gardens” and studied plants/horticulture and stuff). Plus, there’s the knowledge handed down from my grandparents and parents about farming, not to mention the years of reading Better Homes and Gardens.

Besides, there’s the Internet if I need anything else.

My other writing job is for a local children’s magazine. I write several short articles on various topics that kids are into (cartoons, movies, video games, books, etc.). I like it because the topics are something I’m really interested in and it feels like I’m writing for myself and not for someone else. I started on it last night and will continue on it today until I finish all the topics for this week.

I’m still looking for other writing jobs. Who knows, maybe I can make it my permanent source of income?

P.S. I just realized I have no category for “writing” until now!

BTT: Symbolic? Or Not?

Booking Through Thursday
Question suggested by Barbara H:

My husband is not an avid reader, and he used to get very frustrated in college when teachers would insist discussing symbolism in a literary work when there didn’t seem to him to be any. He felt that writers often just wrote the story for the story’s sake and other people read symbolism into it.
It does seem like modern fiction just “tells the story” without much symbolism. Is symbolism an older literary device, like excessive description, that is not used much any more? Do you think there was as much symbolism as English teachers seemed to think? What are some examples of symbolism from your reading?

When I was still in school, I found it interesting to know the symbolisms behind the things in a story… or at least, symbolisms that scholars think are behind the story.

In some cases, there are really those. Like George Orwell’s “Animal Farm”, or quite a few of the literary classics like Dickens’ “Oliver Twist” or even that of Shakespeare’s works. Not to mention the Greek classics like “Odessy” or “Illiad” (which both gave me headaches when I read the original text. Kudos to my English teacher Mrs. Fernandez who was so patient with the class for years).

In modern times, however (by modern I mean from late 1800’s to present), I do think that most books are straight to the point and rarely do use symbolism, especially in fiction. Sometimes though, especially those that are based on old myths and legends, symbolism occurs but not in the way old literary works do — lengthy descriptions or flowery words to describe something small. More like, a mention of an object here and there that refers to something that has a relevant (if obscure or not so obvious) meaning to the story. However, whether the reader would recognize it is another thing.

Not thatI didn’t enjoy those English classes. As I mentioned, my teacher (this was high school) was very good, and patient with us. Reading the text is hard, but when it finally dawns upon us what the writer was trying to say, it was quite enlightening. Makes me amazed at the power of words… and thankful that it has evolved to something more simple. In a way, I wouldn’t exactly call it as symbolism, but rather, it’s really just how they wrote (or spoke, even) in those old days.

Oddly enough, I read English text a bit more easily that I read old Tagalog ones. But that’s another story. 🙂

Make everyday Earth Day

I’ve got half a mind to boycott Earth Day. Now, before you crucify me for saying that, and throw accusations that I’m an Earth killer, let me tell you this.

Back in elementary, my school decided to start a “Save the Earth” campaign. All students from all levels were enjoined to participate, to do projects that will help reserve the Earth’s energy and resources. Projects were based mostly on the suggestions of The Earthworks Group’s book, “50 Simple Things Kids Can Do To Save The Earth”. It was a rather informative book, and despite the fact that the data was mostly based on American statistics, it provided ideas why should we care about the Earth and saving it.

That was nearly 15 years ago, and the project continued until I graduated from high school. As far as I know, it’s still being done today. Among the things we did were:

  • Turning of the lights at lunch time
  • Using our own bags when shopping (we used the colorful bayong you can get from your local market. Imagine going to Megamall, wearing your school uniform and putting your groceries in those bags. This was back in the mid-90s.)
  • Recycling newspapers, reusing old textbooks (all of my textbooks, except the workbooks, for both junior and senior year belonged to the upperclassmen)
  • Yearly garage sales in school where we disposed of our old but still serviceable items and got new if slightly used items in return.
  • Learning how to adjust everything chores so we use less energy and water (like rinsing dishes with used water before soaping them, or turning off the faucet when not in use. How many of us leave them running while we’re soaping our hands or when we need to reach for something else?)
  • Checking eco-friendly products if they are really eco-friendly

earth222222222.jpg
Though we were far from being staunch environmentalists, and I dare say we all slip up every now and then, the habit of energy and water conservation, plus the practice of using eco-friendly products, has been brought to our awareness and instilled in us at an early age. I’ll bet most of my schoolmates unconsciously do those things that I mentioned, and maybe even passed it on to their families and friends.

Friends, if you truly care about the Earth and the dangerous state we are all in, celebrate Earth Day everyday. Doing your part on Earth Day isn’t enough, especially if the next day, you go back to your old habits. A day of Earth saving activities and actions, versus a year of that, guess what will have a long term benefit for our planet?

Know the causes of the problems of the Earth, and what can be done to add more to it. Change the things you do (or the products you buy) that contribute more to the mess. Teach your kids ways they can help. Don’t just tell them to. Understanding is the key, and the more we understand, the easier it would be for us to make the changes we need.

The situation the Earth is in wasn’t done in a day. It is a pile-up of all humankind’s bad habits, carelessness and inconsideration for the planet and it’s resources for years and years, long before many of us were born. One day of Earth Day will not be enough to cure that, but rather, a combined effort over long periods of time will.

Let me rephrase my first sentence. I don’t want to boycott Earth Day. I want to campaign it so that people will be more aware and celebrate it on a daily basis. Let April 22 be the start of your long-term Earth Day celebrations. The Earth will surely thank you.

Again, I say…

Here’s something I wrote back in 2006 regarding text speak. PinoyExchange (PEx) implemented a strict rule of not allowing text speak in the forums. It brought to mind my complaints about people who use text speak and sticky caps (the alternate capital and lowercase typing) online, so I wrote this.

Text speak was born out of necessity. Earlier mobile phones allowed only 160 characters per message, and more enterprising users resorted to creating shortcuts for words. Many of these shortcuts have been around for quite sometime and are universally accepted and were used for ads, nicknames etc. Numbers replaced words that sound the same, and the same goes for symbols. When texting in Filipino, words became much shorter. “ABNKKBSANAko?” is already a complete statement expressing amazement that one can now read.

What irks me are those who write text-speak outside SMS. I’ve come across several blogs (out of politeness I am not posting their names here, but if you browse my Multiply account, chances are you might come across them), received several email and even had IM conversations with people who use text speak. It is not an easy feat to read what they said. Not only do I have to understand what was written, I have to first decipher it. What’s bad is if they don’t use the conventional shortcuts, or use shortcuts I have never seen before.

What I don’t understand is how can these people do it? I’ve tried to type text speak on a letter, but I had a really had time. Maybe it’s just me, as I’m used to typing, given the practice I’ve had over the years, and I suppose my mind has unconsciously memorized the layout of the keyboard I can type without having to look down on it. But really, it takes more effort to think about what the text speak is and then typing it out on a full keyboard than just typing everything out right.

Here’s another kicker. hOw CaN pEoPle TyPe fUlL pArAgRaPhS WiTh ThE lEtTeRs In AlTeRnAtInG cApS? Hold shift, type the letter. Let go of the shift, then type the letter. Repeat. The time it takes for me to type that sentence would normally give me three or more sentences in regular fonts.

Oddly enough, I can text speak on my mobile with ease, though I rarely do that. I input the words out completely too. Text speak is acceptable when used in mobile phones, as that what they were created for in the first place (but hey, with more phones coming out that can handle 300+ characters, who needs to use text speak?). Maybe for design purposes, I can let it pass, but if you write me an email in that format, I’m going to request you to retype everything before I’ll read it.

I don’t speak or make sulat ferpect write perfect English, but I love the written word, and as a (aspiring) writer and having grandparents who were English teachers, I know the value of the written word and the joy one gets when reading something that is well written.

How ironic it is for a country that prides itself as having English as its second language, and despite the boom of the call center industry, studies show that when it comes to proper usage, spelling and grammar, the number is declining. Don’t you find it funny that we spend so many years in school studying English and we end up throwing it out the door just like that?

I’m all for PEx’s new policy. I’m not being a snob. Take note it doesn’t ban the use of Taglish or the Filipino language, bt rthr d use of d txtspk tht cn b a bit dffclt 4 a # of ppl — lyk me — out der.

I decided to look for this entry while I was listening to the Pakbet’s latest podcast. I reiterate that there are alot of people, young people specifically, who can communicate in English and get their point across but not in a way that you can call competitive and effective. What’s worse is that in many cases, it’s not just teens who write this way, but adults too. Now that’s scary.

Visual lesson
Inspired by WordBoner, I present to you my “Same sound, different meaning” er, graphics. We occasionally commit the error of writing words that sound like the one we need, but spelling-wise means something else. I can’t say that I don’t make these mistakes, but I try not to… and I don’t make the excuse “English is not my main language.” Ah well.

My Project 365

I decided to the Project 365 thing, but not in Flickr. I can’t accommodate 365 pictures there (unless I delete everything else), and I didn’t want to create a new blog or mix it with this one, so I decided to utilize my Posterous.

For those who don’t know what Project 365 is about, you can either check the Flickr link above, or read about it here.

You can check out My Project 365 here, or by clicking on the RSS feed link on the sidebar. I was supposed to start on April 14, but my DSL was down so I couldn’t post *sulk* Ah well. :p

Book heaven

I have a strong love for secondhand bookshops. More than half of my books are from the bargain bins, mostly out of print works or books that are very hard to find here in the Philippines (not to mention expensive if I order it from abroad), but for most part those are lucky and chance finds.

day4-books.jpg It never fails that when I’m at any mall, I make a beeline for the bookstore, and if I know there are book thrift shops, I’d pass by those too. When I’m with my two college best friends, these are our usual haunts. Even my friend Bakemono knows that I have to pass by a bookstore when we meet up to watch a movie. It’s like a blackhole that sucks me right in.

Today, I was with Den and her sister. We met up in a bookstore, where I got a copy of her book and a sketchpad (small enough to lug around & it has a nice, solid back). As we walked around the mall to head to another big bookstore, we passed by a small, secondhand bookstall. Needless to say, we got sucked in.

There were scores of amazing titles by writers we both loved, as well as a few others that I had heard of and wanted to read. The prices were reasonable, and I lamented the fact that I didn’t bring enough money with me. I went home with just one book. It was hard leaving those books. Luckily, the attendant told me they had a branch that was nearer where I lived, so it should be easy for me to find copies of the titles I wanted. Yay!

Then I had the sudden thought of working in that big bookstore in Bonifacio High Street. Admittedly, I’m not really comfortable with the idea of facing people (I am somewhat anti-social), but the idea of working around books sounds like heaven. Yes, yes I know it’s not going to be that easy, but I am very tempted to try it.

Nothing to lose, much to gain, I say.

BTT: Windfall

Booking Through Thursday: Windfall

Yesterday, April 15th, was Tax Day here in the U.S., which means lots of lucky people will get refunds of over-paid taxes.

Whether you’re one of them or not, what would you spend an unexpected windfall on? Say … $50? How about $500?

(And, this is a reading meme, so by rights the answer should be book-related, but hey, feel free to go wild and splurge on anything you like.)

Wow, wish I had that much refund. Last one I had was a little over $10, so it wasn’t really much. 😛 I don’t remember what I spent it on.

If ever I get a tax refund, what I’ll use it on will depend on the amount I’ll get. If it’s small, I’ll probably add it to my daily budget. If it’s a rather big amount, I’ll definitely splurge on some books, maybe a few toys or some new gadget. Then again, I’ll probably end up using it for food… and books. 🙂

Happy birthday to me

I celebrated my birthday yesterday. I wasn’t feeling well, thanks to sore throat and impending sniffles. I decided to rest a bit, and spent most of my time browsing or reading, answering birthday greetings and trying to work on my part time job, but failing miserably.

Late afternoon my aunt (and godmother) asked if I wanted to eat out, but we opted for dinner at my uncle’s place instead. It was much like last year’s birthday, a small gathering of family enjoying good food and conversation. One of my uncles gave me a journal/planner, which is really cute.

Even though I am, as my brother pointed out, in my late twenties, I don’t really feel like it. I’m one of those people who really think age is just a number, and it doesn’t equate how you feel. I can say that I feel the same as I was when I was twenty, though I’ve probably matured a bit since then.

Ah, but I am in no mood to be yapping about my age & such. It was a good day. I am thankful for my life, for the people in it and for another year.

P.S. I found out that I won a free license for a MarsEdit app, thanks to MacAppStorm. How cool is that?

Hopeful

Three day weekend, I decided to speed of to Zambales for a much needed R&R. My siblings were all there, and they said that my grandpa was asking when I’ll be home. I had planned to wait until Holy Week to go home, but I figured I could use the few days extra.

So after the TDT, I tried to catch a trip to Iba. I knew I wouldn’t make it to the Caloocan station, so I decided to take one from Cubao. Unfortunately, there were a lot of travelers so I had to compete with all those people. I couldn’t find the line for Iba, so I decided to get one to Olongapo and take a bus there to Sta. Cruz.

Luckily, I was able to talk to the conductor of the bus to Iba, and I got to grab the last free seat. Even though it was at the very back, I took it. To my left was a couple who sounded like they work in a call center; to my right, was a pair of middle-aged ladies who talked non-stop from Manila to Olongapo.

My parents picked me up from Iba, which was lucky since I missed the last trip to Sta. Cruz. Now I’m home… and tomorrow I’ll be heading back to Manila.

Waiting… hoping I’m worthy
So I took the Talent Determination Test for the College of Fine Arts in UP Diliman. Since I’m a UP graduate, I didn’t have to pay the fees and take the mental test thing. I did the interview two weeks ago, and took the test yesterday morning.

The interview wasn’t what I expected. I thought I was going to be asked some questions like “Why did you choose to take a second degree here in UP Fine Arts?” or “What do you expect to learn?”. I was quite surprised that it was very informal, and that we didn’t really get to talk much about my art. I was told though that they encourage students not to do much cartoon style work unless they can develop their own style. I can understand that, and believe me, I want nothing more than to do just that.

The test itself was alright. It rained during the first half of the test so the air was cool and I felt relaxed. I didn’t have trouble with the first part of the test (can I reveal it? Nah, I’ll play it safe and won’t), but the second part had me stumped for a few minutes and I was literally grasping at straws for ideas. It’s what somehow makes me worried about the test, especially when I saw the works of the other people. Talk about intimidation. Though I’m no longer as confident as before, I’m still hopeful and praying that I get a good birthday gift when the results come out on the 17th.

Snippets
Congratulations to my brother Gerone who graduate high school yesterday. He’ll be heading to Manila for enrollment after the Holy Week.

Congratulations as well to my best friend Carmenez for passing the bar! I now have several lawyers to defend me if the need arises.

We got a new puppy and named him Samer. Had a chat with my friends via Skype. Went to the beach today with my siblings too. Didn’t swim, just hung out.

Manila bound tomorrow.

Last few days to get the MacHeist app

MacHeist has released its much awaited bundle sometime March. The bundle contains top apps like Little Snapper, Acorn, SousChef, Kinemac and WireTap Studio for the bargain price of $39. Considering that Kinemac alone costs $299, the price MacHeist is offering all of these apps is well worth it.

Plus, for every purchase of the Bundle, a percentage goes to charity. For every certain amount reached for charity, another app is unlocked. The last app to be opened is the newly released Espresso.

So go get your Bundle. Not only will you be doing good, but you'll be getting a bargain for your Mac as well. Everyone is happy.