Monday, October 16, 2006 A.D.
Stuck Up Pussies
Cats are clever animals. Two little kittens have made their way into our roof and have resided in it for the past two days. It's something of a mystery how they found themselves in there in the first place when it would have meant that they squeezed themselves into holes not larger than 3x3 inches (or through some other secret entry into our roof).

My brother discovered them peering through the roof's ventilation grillwork although he had actually first heard them mewing two nights ago. The clever little kitties have been stuck there for two days, two floors up. They have trapped themselves under the section of the roof that's along the perimeter of our house and were thus only visible from outside. You could actually hear them cry for help every five minutes or so but you could only look at them with their little padded feet poking through the ventilation grid because that particular section of the roof could only be opened up with the aid of a really tall stepladder and a carpenter, unfortunately.

The playful creatures were probably just obeying their natural instincts. They must have chased after some mouse and spent the night in the comfort of that enclosed second storey space only to find out the morning after that their heads have grown larger overnight. Regardless, I fear that if we didn't get them out soon, we'd discover just how much two cute little kittens could stink up a house by dying of starvation. I wouldn't have that, of course. I could probably feed them with a wet sponge at the end of a stick before they blame their father for having forsaken them although it's probably better to simply take advantage of the same instincts that led them there by driving them out in a similar way. Finding a mouse to act as bait would be difficult, for sure. Instead, I'm going to borrow the neighbor's loud and possibly rabid mongrel of a dog and let nature take its course by tossing him up the roof with my good arm. It's not exactly rocket science, but it's still science (and science can be a lot of fun).

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Thursday, October 05, 2006 A.D.
Odds and Sods
If one were born with two heads and seven arms, one could start questioning God and how His divine wisdom could have allowed for one's existence. Having been born a genetic anomaly, one would understandably start looking for answers, even though it's not likely that one would be handed a complete explanation in one's lifetime about the state of things.

The truth is that creation is one big four-dimensional jigsaw puzzle where everything fits into a certain context. Humans are humans too, you know. After all, when you meet someone with two heads and seven arms, you don't laugh. You will act as humanly as possible in that situation, which more or less means asking for a photo-op using your camera-phone before running away in revulsion as if fire ants have somehow appeared inside your underpants (but remembering to say thanks - that's important). Everything does belong (except perhaps you during grade school, thanks to your poor bowel control).

I'm not here to poke fun at genetic catastrophes. For sure they are wrong, but they were wrought by divine hands, and aren't for us to really comprehend. One other thing I cannot comprehend is how, with our feeble human minds, we still encounter man-made oddities that are in many levels just as wrong as someone with two heads and seven arms - just as wrong and just as difficult to make sense of. Man is confounding, simply put. Man is a funny little creature, a cosmological bumper sticker that is proof of God's sense of humor.

You will forgive me for my overly dramatic introduction when all I really want to do is show some more stuff that I have collected over the past few months, a bunch of man-made oddities that man himself wasn't meant to comprehend fully.

Superior Android Jehad Robot - In a possible future, religious conflict has escalated into a holy war involving giant humanoid robots. These Jehad Robots suspiciously look like Japanese mechas (Gundams, particularly). In another surprising twist, these Mohammedan super-robots are organized into a color-coordinated team of five like your standard sentai (ranger) collective. You know them, of course: there's the red leader, the bad boy black ranger, the yellow female, the green newbie and the less interesting blue ranger who is tasked to either be the gentle giant, the comic relief or the other female in the team. The Japanese involvement is all too obvious, but as to how a predominantly Buddhist country like Japan has somehow gotten involved in the conflict between Moslems and Christians is a question that only the murky future holds the answer for (I have a suspicion that they have also engineered Crusade Robots for the Vatican as war profiteers).

These four-inch plastic representations of the Jehad Robots appear to have been wholly cast in single-color plastic with uniform applications of gold and silver paint. The package itself absolves Japan of any involvement in the holy war by largely printing 'Made in China' visibly below the blister. The best piece of text on the package, however, is the one partially obscured by the green robot, which reads, 'Special mission! Once own nothing can instead, hero of the present age'. The manufacturer was also considerate enough to print a warning message, stating that the small parts could pose choking hazards for children under 3, which would have been great had small parts actually been included. Really, show me a three-year-old who can choke on a solid four-inch tall humanoid piece of plastic and I'll show you a world of possibilities (regretably, most of these possibilities involve porn, with the exception of a possible circus stint).

Events of late haven't really done anything to resolve the centuries' worth of religious intolerance but have instead set Muslim-Christian relations back by years and years more (whoever thought of electing Palpatine into the papacy?). At the rate that we are going, Muslim-Christian relations will soon get set back a couple of thousand years more, which will be a good thing since we'll find ourselves at our religions' infacies and thus with a clean slate. I shouldn't even touch upon an issue as sensitive as religious conflict, I know, but the concept of a Jehad Robot is just too weird to ignore. Whoever made the Jehad Robot probably wanted to introduce Gundam bootlegs into the muhajeedins-under-ten set (and I hope it doesn't give them ideas). Regardless, Jehad Robots are definitely so much cooler than Popemobiles (what next, Popesignals? Popearangs?).

Penegra - So maybe this one isn't too bad. You see, some Indian pharmaceutical companies are not required to pay royalties to the rightful drug manufacturers in order for them to keep their medicine affordable for the vast Indian population (1 billion plus and counting), and this one is essentially a pirated version of Viagra. I can understand the need to provide cheap medicine to the Indian people, and Penegra is indeed much cheaper than Viagra (like 80% cheaper). There are other cheap Indian brands available, although I remember only this and Suhagra. Then again, wouldn't making a number of Viagra clones that are cheaper than a cheese sandwich only cause an upswing in their population? I'll let the analysts figure out the micro and macro ramifications regarding that (Indian males will undoubtedly have their own micro and macro ramifications after downing a tablet).

The Penegra tablet is different from Viagra only in color, as the package proudly so attests ('It is now PINK' - I love how gender typing isn't that big an issue in India). The dosage also probably differs, with this being a 50mg dose. A box holds four tablets, ensuring two happy weekends for some couple in Rajasthan (who will 'get more out of life', as the tagline promises with a heart). The package is rich with images that I find very interesting. The brand name is printed under the generic name in bold capital letters. In itself, the brand already speaks volumes: Pene-gra (the 'pene' comes first before the 'gra', a syllable which will be repeatedly uttered in steady bursts). The familiar rounded diamond tablet is used as an arrowhead for the logo, making the strikeout motif look like a rather erect swimming tadpole that can easily pene-trate through bold letters and cell membranes. The lower-left corner of the box shows a happy male chicken with a knowing smile (a symbolic promise to males that they will have happy -err- roosters). The upper-right corner shows a couple. Just looking at the image can kill an erection, a situation that the pink contents can thankfully remedy in a few minutes. We see a man and woman, whom we assume are husband and wife. Suspiciously, the man is sporting this really big grin on his face that's no doubt directly proportional to the stretchability of his underpants. The woman has a look of unease on her face as if she got prodded by a dubious blunt object outside the confines of the photo, and it somehow feels that we are witnessing a case of marital rape (it doesn't help that the man looks like someone who would have been beaten up by Da King in a classic FPJ flick). Rememer: pene first before the gra.

Please don't ask me where I got these tablets. I really can't help you (I'm sorry, frend). No, they're not from my dad, and no, I don't need them yet (something with the opposite effect should help, actually). I'm not going to take them for fun either because walking around with a seeming strap-on doesn't sound like fun. Spiking someone's coffee with a tablet does sound like a lot of fun though, especially if the boss has a private coffee maker and is due for a company presentation.

Cigarette Candies - Kids love play acting and boys usually get all sorts of role playing sets to help them imagine themselves as doctors, policemen, cowboys, indians, carpenters, accountants, strip club managers, among countless other roles. Girls, on the other hand, don't really get a lot of choices, since they usually only get a cooking set (three cheers for gender roles). It really helps for the boys to have a lot of choices since their attention spans last about as long as a cat in a microwave. The girls really don't have to complain about having only a cooking set since it often comes with 42 accessories, which last longer than the boys' toys since they don't use them to hit things with. It was fun. The alpha boy goes through his busy day working various jobs as a doctor, policeman, cowboy, indian, carpenter, accountant and strip club manager, and goes home to his 'wife', 'kids' (other children who are slightly younger than the 'married couple' but who will grow up with some confidence issues), and their 'dog' (serious confidence issues). He changes into his slippers and wifebeater, puts down his hard earned play money on the table, which his 'wife' is setting ready for dinner, and takes out a pack of cigarette candies faster than he can say, "Where's my dinner, woman?"

They are two words that don't naturally go together, unless 'quit' somehow figures into the equation, but cigarette candies were quite popular some 20 years ago and were even sold openly in school canteens (at least where I went for grade school). Cigarette candies are simply two compressed sugar sticks in a box labeled like a cigarette pack. Confectioners had to come up with novel ways of selling the same cheap candies back then and cigarettes were quite novel for children who wanted to grow up to be like their chain smoking daddies. To start with, however, they didn't look like cigarettes. They were blockish sticks that were colored as they are flavored, with grape and orange flavors being the most common (there was no way for you to identify the flavor by the packaging alone).

It was indeed a less sensitive time then, otherwise the very idea of an edible play cigarette that was sold in schools would have forced parents to file protests against school administrations. In a way, however, we always knew that it was simply a candy and not some gateway confection that could have surely led us to chain smoking, especially since we knew what real cigarettes looked like. The candies didn't even have make-believe filters. You couldn't inhale smoke from them and if you held them too long by your lips, it would have broken into two. One thing, however, was that we had the actual brands printed on the boxes then and not these exotically misspelled versions (Philip Mhoriz, Marlporo, Camet, Dunjill, Zalem, L&N, Marc, and Jope). I guess intellectual ownership wasn't also that big an issue then as it is now. The confectioners are probably taking precautions against lawsuits, or are simply ensuring that kids do not graduate to the actual stuff by making the brand names confusing.

I remember the first time that I told my parents about these in grade school, explaining how I spent every peso of my first allowance. It was an interrogation of sorts:

"Cigarette candies? What are those?"
"Candies in cigarette boxes."
"Is it a tube with candy inside?"
"Not really, it's just a stick of candy. You just suck on it and chew it down when it breaks."
"You don't light it up?"
"No, but you can grind it up with a razor on a mirror and snort it through the nose with a one-peso bill."

I got these cigarette candies in a pack of eight for - count them - ten pesos, whereas they cost one peso per pack during the 80s. That's a price adjustment of a mere 25 centavos per pack over twenty years. It was a dark night when I got these from this grocery. My friend and I quickly tried them out without looking at them, finding that they don't taste like artificial fruit anymore but like your regular over-the-counter antacid - slightly minty and with the consistency of chalk. I was to discover much later when photographing them in better lighting that the candies have dubious brown spots and have somehow turned a pale shade of yellow, making me believe that perhaps these candies have actually been manufactured twenty years ago... or maybe it's just the high tar content. Needless to say, I won't be eating the rest anymore. The surgeon general should issue public warnings about these.

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Monday, October 02, 2006 A.D.
One Big Something
A true eagle knows when to put down his arrow when he sees a young tiger ready to take flight.

I'm sore and in denial. It was a good run.

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