Once upon a time, I read.

So, I was tagged in this ongoing challenge in Facebook to list ten (10) books that stayed with me for some reason. And since I already made the list, why not post it here? I did add the descriptions and comments though. Here they are!

  1. Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes

A book that I loved more for the style than the content. “Flowers for Algernon” is about a fully grown man with cognitive disability who underwent experimental surgery that turned him into a genius. The effects of the surgery were, however, unstable and his mind eventually regressed back into its state prior to the surgery (or was it worse?). The diary style of writing not only effectively illustrated the evolution and eventual devolution of his intellect without actually using adjectives, it also effectively used first person point of view to show how actions, things, and events are perceived through different intellectual and emotional lenses. There are many social issues contained in the book, but you can find out all about that from other reviews or by reading the book.

Oh, Algernon is a mouse who was used for the same experiment. He exhibited the same increase in intelligence after the surgery, but also regressed thereafter and eventually died. I might have pitied the man here, but I might have cried for the mouse.

  1. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez

Assigned as a reading task in one of my college Humanities subject and hated by most of my classmates, this book made me discover that I have (or used to have?) a thing for fictional inter-generation saga. I had to refer to the family tree at the beginning of book repeatedly though since the characters names are same or similar. It is still contains my favorite last line – “… because races condemned to one hundred years of solitude did not have a second opportunity on earth.”

I am not sure if I understood exactly what the book is all about. All I know that the idea that the 100 years fate of several generations have all been preordained and that the book ended where the last of the race also ended.

  1. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

Yes, I cheated. I am not referring only to the first book. I am referring to the whole series. I do not even know why I like it – Anne’s imagination maybe, her spunk, her mischief. I. Just. Like. It. Oh, and I was actually rooting for Anne Shirley and Gilbert Blythe to end up together.

  1. The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein

It makes me cry just remembering this book. The tree just giving and giving and giving until he has nothing (sorry, I do not want to refer to the tree as “it”). And even then, he is still giving.

Reminds me of the song Puff the Magic Dragon which also makes me sad; although, people will probably just think me weird.

  1. Black Beauty by Anna Sewell

I don’t know. I might just like books that personify things and animals – that portrays their struggles. When Black Beauty found her way back to the people who loves her, well, that is what home means, right?

  1. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

Can you kill a friend – a person you love – to save him from a more cruel way of dying? To save him from murder by other people’s hands. I actually watched the movie before I read the book.

  1. The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck

Majority of the book did not affect nor thrill me. It is, for me, actually just an ordinary book. The ending though when two sons promised their father, a formerly very poor man, that they will never sell their lands while nodding to each other to signify silent agreement to do the opposite is heartbreaking for me. I have a soft spot for parents and old people.

  1. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

I do love reading classics. If I extended this book list, more classic books will actually get in. What do I like about Dorian Gray? Not his narcissism, but more his ability to hide his corrupted soul behind a portrait.   

  1. Fairy Tales by Hans Christian Andersen

I cheated again. My love for Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tales, though, is a product of my love for Disney fairy tale movies (I still watch them, by the way). Knowing that these stories I watched as a child have much darker origin intrigued me when I became an adult.

     10. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

 Betrayal, deception, revenge, and manipulation. Sometimes, I imagine that I lived at the book’s timeline and I am one of those lesser nobles lucky enough to enter Edmond Dantès’ lavish parties, but only looking and watching his life from afar.

I also watched the movie and I was seriously, seriously, seriously disappointed.

It is a little sad that the last book I read that is in this list, I read 4 or more years ago. I just don’t read much anymore. I did say I will change that. I just hope it is soon.

’til next time,

~miss guinevere

Control ’em, not Cut ’em: Manage your credit card spending

While browsing through Facebook, I came across a post about cutting up all credit cards to make them inaccessible and not buying things one cannot afford. In the mind of the author of the post, he translated “not buying things one cannot afford” as paying only in cash. Accompanying the message is a picture of a scissor and 7 of his credit cards, 3 of which were already cut.

 While I see the goodness in the intention, I can’t help but see the flaw in the message. Financial management is an important skill. This skill is, however, not acquired by limiting your choices, but by increasing your wisdom. By cutting up your credit cards, you only limit your choices. You do not necessarily increase your financial management skill.

 I understand the temptation of an unbudgeted purchase. I have been saved several times from impulsive purchases by having no access to a credit card (such when the network is down) or cash (such as when the nearest atm is too far). This is especially true when I first had my own credit card and I was still blinded by my new ability to have large purchases which I can pay by installment or which I include in the next salary’s budget when my current budget is not sufficient. However, I have never let my debt overcome me and it has always been a goal to pay the amount due in full to avoid interest and debt accumulation. I also set up a personal limit on the amount of charge I make for small purchases. To be honest, these are commitments I sometimes am not able to uphold, but I try to recover immediately.

 The flaw in the reasoning relative to the cutting up your credit card argument is that it puts focus on access. In my opinion, limiting access, while contributory to effectively limiting unplanned and unwise spending, is not the key to financial management. Instead, one must strengthen self-control. It is when a person is exercising control and is not only limited by lack of access that there truly is financial management.

 But then again, control might be the main problem. Looking back to the credit cards in the photo, the fact that he had 7 credit cards, most of which are co-branded, may be a sign of lack of control. For those who are not aware, a co-branded credit card is one that is “affiliated with a certain merchant.” (Source: Investopedia) Approval is more lenient. (I know because my first card was co-branded with a clothing store. I did not even submit financial documents. A store I was shopping in happened to be on sale and there was a booth for application for said credit card.) It is sort of a marketing ploy since brand loyalty is encouraged through brand-specific rewards. So yes, maybe it was a good decision to cut those cards – not because it is the right thing to do, but because he does not have enough control to manage their use.  Just imagine the annual fees for all those cards.

 The truth is I have learned the true usefulness of a credit card. When I was in college, my friend’s relative had an emergency operation and payment was made possible by using their credit card. They made sure, however, to pay everything within the next 2 months or the accumulated interest charges will be high. I have bought my family things that are difficult for me to buy in cash, but are easy by installment. After each purchase, I paid the monthly installment payments religiously and limit my subsequent purchases so that I will still not go over my monthly personal limit. There are times still when I deliberately go over my personal limit or choose not to pay in full, despite interests, to control my cash flow. There must, however, be a personal payment plan and a definite date when my unpaid balance is returned to zero.

 But that’s just me and I am no financial guru.

’til next time,

~miss guinevere

Manual or Practical? I never knew the choice will be difficult.

After several years of telling myself (and anyone else who asks) that I will do it, I finally did it. I enrolled in a driving class as a prelude to buying my first car. While some people are content with a 10-hour or even 5-hour driving class, I decided to take the 30-hour driving course. This is because, since I was a child, I have one (semi) dream – to drive a manual transmission car like an expert.

Unfortunately, nobody but one person agrees with me with my choice. Due to the congested daily traffic condition in the city, everyone who is concerned with my safety or has more practical than whimsical cells in their brains suggests that I buy an automatic car. The only one who agreed with me with my desire to buy a manual car was a male, self-confessed car and driving enthusiast, who was less concerned with the practicality of a relaxed city driving than with the experience of controlling the car and the higher cost of replacing and repairing an automatic transmission – these and the fact that few girls drive manual cars.

 It is not that I asked a lot of people. Aside from my male friend above, I actually asked only 5 other people – 2 girl friends, my parents, and a female office mate; and I do admit that my choice of people to ask has guaranteed from the start that I will end with more votes in favor of automatic transmission.

 Unfortunately, while the allure of having a less tiring driving experience is there, the call of finally being able to drive a manual car is still strong from deep within me. So, while I pretend to be still deciding between the two, I can already predict the choice I will eventually make. I have resigned myself long ago that, when it comes to some my choices, I am not the most practical girl in the world. Anyway, (and this is how I actually argued with my father who insisted that I buy an automatic) even if I used manual car while studying, I will only ever be able to drive an automatic if I never touch a manual car on a daily basis.

 I wanted to tell you more about by driving progress and the antics of my funny driving instructor (I have completed 10 hours already!), but let us leave that as a story for another day.

’til next time,

~miss guinevere

Savings and Penalties

I designed a new savings method today – not really very original, but something that might work for me. When I was a little girl until I was in college, I kept a coin bank where I save coins for a whole year. As I grew older, I started to develop a tradition wherein I save money for the whole year, open the coin bank every December, and use the money I saved to buy Christmas gifts for my family and myself.

Some time after I started working, I stopped finding coin banks useful. I already have a bank account and since I am earning money already, I have money to buy gifts. In terms of saving, however, it is easy to be tempted to spend when you can easily check how much money you have and there is ATM to withdraw money anytime. So, I decided to revive the coin bank savings method as this combines 2 things that make saving work for me: 1) I don’t know how much money I have; and 2) I leave the money at home. However, since I am now aware that coins are more expensive to produce and the Central Bank does not really like it when coins are kept hostage instead of being circulated, I have decided to use only paper bills.

Here are the rules I set for myself:

  1. Every payday, I will have to put in the coin bank a fixed amount. Converted to US dollars, that amount would be approximately US$12.
  2.  I have to put in some money everyday, but I am free to determine the amount each day. It has to be a bill though since coins might destroy the bills already inside. The lowest amount of paper bills in our currency is approximately 50 cents when converted to US dollars.
  3.  Everytime I splurge, went shopping, dine in expensive restaurants, I have to penalize myself by putting in 10% of the amount I spent, but only up to a ceiling amount of US$25.

The amounts are not large as this will only be in addition to my regular savings.

I also decided to dedicate any amount I save through this method to a particular purpose. As I have failed up to now to set up a bank account for my travel fund, this can be my travel fund instead. This can also be a home and gadget fund since I have been planning to buy a computer and redecorate the house for a long time now (I thought that since I am living alone and in a small studio unit, a beanbag will be sufficient in additional to kitchen stools and my bed. I ended up spending too much time on my bed and having uncomfortable sitting arrangements when I have guests.)

I guess this is something I still need to make a decision on. I am positive, however, that this will work.

Oh, by the way, here is my coin bank.

Cute, right?

coin bank

I guess I have to penalize myself for buying this instead of an ordinary one…

Cheers!

~miss guinevere

The summary fooled me (because horror movies can also make people laugh).

When it comes to books and movies, I have a bad habit – I hoard with the intention of reading or watching all of them whenever I had the time. I, however, end up never actually having the time, or actually having extra time, but choosing to watch reruns or read the same books again and again instead of the unread and unwatched ones. No, I do not have a lot of books and movies, but I do own a decent number. About 40% of them would be unread or unwatched. In terms of choosing which books or movies to buy, there are times when I buy because the summary or teaser appears interesting, even if the author and the book or movie itself is unknown.

There is this one movie I own which appeared to be really promising. It was actually something I bought long ago based only on the summary, but haven’t had the opportunity to watch. The movie was titled “The Raven” and it claimed to be based on the story with the same title by Edgar Allan Poe. I forgot to copy the movie summary at home, but here is a summary from Rotten Tomatoes, which I think is very similar (if not the same) with the one I found at the back of the CD (yes, not yet DVD):

“A tormented rock star being stalked by a malevolent killer receives valuable advice from the master of macabre in director Ulli Lommel’s cinematic tribute to legendary horror author Edgar Allan Poe. As a child, Lenore was surrounded by darkness. It was during those grim and frightening days that the terrified girl became acquainted with the poetry of Edgar Allan Poe. These days, Lenore has achieved fame as the singer in a Los Angeles-based rock band, but unfortunately her high-profile status has made her the target of a supernatural killer. After seeing her friends and colleagues fall one by one to a murderous force from beyond the mortal realm, the terrified singer is horrified to discover that she is to become the next victim of the seemingly omnipotent murderer. Though at first Lenore feels as if all hope is lost, a nighttime visit from the author whose works helped her survive some of the darkest days of her childhood offers a fighting chance of cheating death. Meanwhile, in the mountaintop lair of the Raven, where the bloodied bodies of his victims lie desecrated, a ghostly killer prepares to claim his most prized victim.”

Edgar Allan Poe is one of my favorite authors so I was basically hooked just with associating the movie with his writings. Moreover, I bought it second-hand from in a video rental store. It a video copy the store used to rent out, and was then selling for a lot less than brand new. Back then, I thought that it was basically a steal.

(Note: Considering that the next paragraphs will hardly glorify the film that is “The Raven,” let me clarify that the film I referring to here is the 2006 film by Ulli Lommel, and not the 2012 movie starring John Cusack – although that movie, I believe, also failed to get stellar reviews. Oh, by the way, this blog post is not intended as a movie review so please do not expect any constructive or even comprehensible criticisms.)

Last week, my friend visited me and stayed for several days at my house. While looking for something to do one night, she found the movie and decided to watch it. So we prepared to set the mood for a night of suspense and horror. The movie began playing and we were like, “what is happening”? Is this the movie? Will you really get electrocuted and burnt to a crisp if somebody throws an electric hair dryer in the bathtub while you are using it? (Oh sorry, that was just me and my weird questions coming out at the most awkward of times.) How long was the cord on that electric hairdryer – the girl who threw it managed to plug it outside of the bathroom, suddenly appear at the door separating the bathroom and the bedroom, and throw the hairdryer in the bathtub with a lot of slack on the cord. (Oh, just another weird question.)

We gave it the benefit of the doubt and waited for the right moment when everything will get better and make sense. When it was already about 5 to 10 minutes into the movie, we started laughing – laughing so hard I think we are actually disturbing the neighbors. The movie is just so bad; I don’t even know how to describe it. The lighting is bad, the actors are bad (I liked the child version of the protagonist though – she has the face that can star in a “real” horror movie), the scenes do not connect, and the effects are so horrible that they are disturbing – in a bad movie way.

We actually finished half of the movie trying to see if it will get better somewhere. However, if the random, exaggerated, and strained-to-make-a-connection messages in red appearing after each murder together with a weird background noise, the lack of blood despite violent deaths, and the lack of notable concern or reaction from the protagonist for her missing and dead friends are clues, the movie is probably just going to get worse. Thus, we finally gave up and decided to do something else. My friend decided to watch The Reader, while I ended up falling asleep. (What? I was really sleepy and I had to go to work the following day.)

Did I say The Raven movie was a steal? After trying to watch the movie, I felt like it was my money that was stolen. All hail to the power of association and reference – and I will probably fall for something like this again in the future.

At least we got some really good laughs (at the expense of the movie), and you know what they say – laughter is a great stress reliever.

’til next time,

~miss guinevere

Dreamland

According to my file, this poem was written in 2007. Long enough for me to have forgotten what this was about. Honestly, when I read this again after so long, I had to read it twice – first to understand what it was about, and the second to appreciate the poem without second-guessing what it is about. So, yeah, I think I need to improve this one someday.

Oh, and yeah, still looking for a muse so that I can post a new poem, rather than the old ones. I think I might be too self-conscious and too critical. Confession time! It is easier to write when I know whatever comes out will just be kept in my notebooks. Knowing that I intend to make things available to the public makes me shy 😉 Love, ~miss guinevere

❤ ❤ ❤

Dreamland

 

It was a dream that woke me

And I woke up still dreaming

In the same room on my bed

On the same night that I slept

 

With a different moon

A different moonlight

And a speckled rainbow in the night

 

The trees are still outside my room

Just beyond my window

The same green

The same brown

But with shadows of vibrant colors

 

And frogs perched on their branches

Sniffing flowers on the head

Of fireflies

That are carrying golden light

Like fairies in the night

 

In their princess garments

Of gold hues

Fireflies flew towards me

And flew with me to the sky

Where I found my bed

Wrinkled in the night

 

It was a dream that woke me

And I woke up not dreaming

The night passes, people wake up

And dreams come to an end

 

 

 

 

 

 

I tried to be polite and ended up being annoying.

There was one question that I thought I knew the answer to, but I discovered recently that I did not – emails. When you receive an email that does not require an answer, do you still respond to acknowledge receipt or to thank the sender? The email may pertain to a useful information such as an update on the business climate, an instruction or assignment from a boss, a request, or a reply to your request.

Personally, when an email is a part of a series of exchange over email, I just take it as the end of conversation. If However, if it is an isolated email, I still say thank you if the email is meant to inform me of something (I removed all others who are “copy furnished” though) or a simple “noted,” “okay, I will work on this” or something similar if the email contains an instruction from my boss or a request from my colleague that I cannot finish within two (2) days at most. If possible, I also include when I would be able to give them their request.

I thought I was doing fine, because I am just applying to others how I would like people to treat my emails. No, I don’t need to be thanked for when I send information, but I would appreciate receiving a short reply when I am making requests that will require several days to get completed just so I can be assured that my email was delivered and read, and I will eventually receive a reply. There have been too many instances in the past when my email did not receive any reply and I end up waiting for nothing for several reasons. The recipient did not read the email. The recipient probably did not receive the email (note the emphasis on probably – I don’t think instances of lost mail are still very high at this period). My email went to the junk mail folder. The recipient did not want to do what I was asking even if it is part of his responsibility because it is too troublesome or he is just busy doing something else. I then end up being the rushing to meet deadlines because I wasted my time waiting for an email that will not come.

Sometimes, I even ask personally if they have received and read my email. It propels people to act. I prefer, however, not to have to ask every time. If so, what is the point of sending an email if I still need to hunt down the recipient to ask him personally? Just for documentation?

Last Monday, however, during our morning assembly, my boss, to whom I am directly reporting, suddenly discussed the subject of emails. He started with a reminder that, if there is any important announcement or development, we should all send emails (sort of an email blast, in fact, because the information being referred to are concerns several department). He added however as an afterthought that, corollary to that, if there is nothing important to say, then do not send an email. His example – he often sees email which only contains “noted” or such messages, which he thinks are not needed.

I understand where he is coming from. Due to his position and his hands-on style of management, he receives too many emails a day – too many that it can take him more than half the day just reading and replying if he tries to read them all. Hence, he has to be selective. With this goal, I am one with him as I actually deliberately remove his email addresses from email threads and discussions he does not need to be included in and ask people to address concerns to me directly if they can be resolved at my level. I just report to him directly what happens. No, I am not overstepping my boundaries here because, when I first worked here, I did ask him if I need to furnish him in all communications and in what type of subjects he needs to be absolutely included, at least by furnishing him a copy.

So I made a few adjustments on my habits.

I realized that, for emails that only contain information, I do not need to reply and my boss will not be offended with my lack of reply. If he sends me a request, which will require me one week or more to finish and there is a deadline included in the email, I assume I also do not need to reply until I finished, except if I have clarifications. If there is no deadline included in his email, I can maybe send an acknowledgement with a date when I can send him the output. But how about instructions with no definite date of completion like handling a negotiation or coordinating a whole project? Now, that is a dilemma.

And I understand that these new rules of mine apply only to this particular person – my boss. Regardless of how many write-ups there are about email etiquette, the question of when it is proper and improper to reply will always still boil down to preference. So next time, I might end up being stingy in replying to emails so that I will not contribute to the useless junk flooding another person’s email and then later on discover that I am offending people because I am “ignoring” emails. I’ll probably be laughing when that happens – just to myself (internally) of course, or alone when no one can see or hear me.

Coffee Talk

Okay, I said this page was supposed to be for my new projects, but I really can’t write anything remotely decent right now. So here is one of my older poems, written about 7 or 8 years ago when I was not so old yet, but also not so young. I am insecure  about this one really, but whatever.  Here its is! Love, ~miss guinevere

❤ ❤ ❤

 

Coffee talk

 

It was over coffee that he told me

And everything changed

 

He told me over coffee

“I love you”

And everything became sweeter

 

But I am not very fond of sweets

And I want my coffee strong

 

For years we drank coffee

Over coffee he told me things

It is over coffee that I knew him

And he tried to know me

 

But coffee is not meant to be sweet

He told me things over sweet coffee

 

It was over coffee that he told me

“Goodbye”

And nothing changed

My coffee is still strong

 

I did not say goodbye

I said my goodbye a long time ago

Stalkerish

cat cat

For as long as I remember, I have always wanted to get a pet – a dog preferably. I used to have one when I was younger, but she died. I named her Kerry, which is actually defined as a small breed of cattle. She used to have a boyfriend named Wacky. Wacky belonged to a childhood friend. I don’t know where Wacky is right now. I think he is already dead… or very very old (he would be 20 years old if he is still alive).

With my present lifestyle, however, I cannot keep a dog. I live alone and I am mostly not at home. They say these are no-no’s for pet owners. I don’t have anyone who can drop by my house just to check on my pet and there are no establishments nearby that temporary board dogs. Plus, if there are those establishments, they would be too expensive for me.

So I tried to see if I can keep a cat instead, because I do like to pet cats as long as they are not struggling to get away from me. Otherwise, I cannot really pet them. I thought they can be left alone for longer periods of time. It turns out, that isn’t the case also. Plus, I live in the 11th floor. I always imagine the cat being able to get out of the open veranda and falling off. Not good.

So I just gave up on keeping a pet – that is until I remember that I had rabbits when I was younger. They are just mostly in a cage and it was easier to feed them. I just leave lots of edible leaves and they eat whenever they are hungry. I thought they can be left alone Opinions, however, differ. Some says they can be left alone for longer periods (which coincide with the length of time I usually am away), but for some, they are just like dogs. I did not want to gamble.

Now, I can keep a fish – but, really, I think of fish as just accessories. They’ll die if I play with them and they’ll be stressed if I try to even tap the aquarium. Not for me. fish fish

So again, I just gave up – for now.

Last night, however, I again had the opportunity to share an elevator ride with a dog – or puppy, not sure of the age. I usually just look, smile a little inwardly, just the usual stuff when I see cute things. However, I realized, only one floor button was lit – my floor. We live on the same floor! In my building, even if the elevators are usually full, I rarely ride the elevator at the same time with someone from my own floor. And even if I do, people don’t really seem friendly enough or they may not be in my age group. The truth is, in my building, people normally don’t know each other.

So there I was, looking sideways, trying to see if the people with the dog are friend-candidates. Until now, I am still laughing at myself for how desperate I seemed at that time. I even looked at what unit they were going – just right in front of the elevator. I live somewhere behind the elevator doors so we are just so near, yet so far. And yup – just stalkerish.

Although, before I am harshly judged, I was not really going to befriend them just for the dog. I am now imagining myself knocking at their door, holding a piece of plate with pie, cookies, lasagna, or whatever, and then telling them “Hi, I am your neighbor. Let’s be friends… ooohh! You have a dog…” Weird, weird mental picture.

So maybe I’ll just buy a fish.

Before I end this post, do you know that there is an online submission for “stalkerish” to be included in a dictionary?  Approval status is still pending investigation. I wonder what will happen with that.

Bye for now!

~miss guinevere

Rain and Beauty

Confession time: I really don’t know what to post in this new section of my blog because I don’t write nearly as much as I did when I was younger. I write research papers and technical papers, but the part of my brain that induces creative writing is really short-circuited right now. Unfortunately, I cannot leave this section (my pen & paper) blank for a long time. So, to start the ball rolling, here is a poem that I wrote a long time ago!

 

 ❤ ❤ ❤

Rain and Beauty

 

It was a limited view

Limited by the four corners of my window

But I can see enough to know enough

Of all that lay beyond my reach

Outside the walls that is my keep

And my prison at the same time

 

All the trees are waving at me

Teasing because I cannot go out

Their branches are pointing to the sky

Insisting that I look up and cry

To where I am forbidden to point

Mocking because I am unable to fly

 

The sky sings a song

A roaring melody of noise

A demonstration of a powerful voice

And then gently it pours

To rain upon the swaying trees

To tap dance with the dancing nymphs

 

Rain touched them all

And they all embraced rain

They were beautiful

I envy them from where I sit

Kept by the four walls of my keep

My prison

Because they are beautiful

 

And I am not

I am not beautiful because rain did not touch me

And I did not embrace rain

Because I can’t

I am safe within my walls that is my keep

And my prison at the same time

 

I reached out the window to embrace the rain

But the rain is gone

And they all laughed because

I wanted to be beautiful but I can’t

I am safe within my walls that is my keep

My prison