Night before posting grades

With the grades of my students due tomorrow, I know this night will be spent caressing their papers like an estrus lover, making sure I take into consideration everything they have poured into their works or I’ll miss the all-essential sap that will comprise their grade. I hate the idea of evaluation, of appraisal, of giving equivalents to works whose values will never be accurately and precisely quantified regardless of rubrics that attempt to minimize subjectivity as much as possible. But like everything, unless I am able to come up with something better, I have to make do with what I have at present.

While I am groping my Excel sheet and fingering a small calculator (as I have never fully mastered, and trust, this Excel thing), my laptop plays Eraserheads (how dated) just to remind me how it was being an insecure, acne botched undergraduate student to also give me that sense of empathy and to drizzle myself some form of level-mindedness amid pressure.

I am not a difficult teacher, I think.

I hated giving a 5.0 and do not enjoy keying in an F.

2010 in review: https://johnryanrecabar.wordpress.com

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

The Louvre Museum has 8.5 million visitors per year. This blog was viewed about 150,000 times in 2010. If it were an exhibit at The Louvre Museum, it would take 6 days for that many people to see it.

In 2010, there were 179 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 569 posts. There were 464 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 59mb. That’s about a picture per day.

The busiest day of the year was February 27th with 1,161 views. The most popular post that day was How to know if she’s carrying a fake Louis Vuitton.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were facebook.com, en.wordpress.com, google.com.ph, WordPress Dashboard, and search.conduit.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for louis vuitton, sadness, manila, cockroach, and karaoke.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

How to know if she’s carrying a fake Louis Vuitton June 2009
88 comments

2

Oh sadness! June 2008
30 comments

3

Images February 2009
7 comments

4

Questions from a notebook I bought five months ago: October 2008
10 comments

5

La cucaracha September 2009
10 comments

Inceived

“ This is a curious question,” I began with all seriousness, and dove head first to, “what is the verb-form of inception?”

“Let me guess,” after a long pause, he blurted without any remorse after, “Inceive?”

I gave him an incredulous look.

We tried looking up for the word in his iPhone dictionary application and found out that the word is yet to be coined, assuming that his dictionary is as comprehensive as the Oxford English Dictionary. My closest guesses are ‘intercede’ and ‘intercept’ but none seem to capture the meaning of the word as it is used in the latest Christopher Nolan film, Inception. Probably none exists because the idea is, with all the technological limitations, only a figment of Nolan’s imagination, or if the idea does exist and is possible, the part where in it is subjected to in-the-flesh tests is non-existent, at least for now.

We watched the film together at SM Megamall, a walking distance from where we stay, last night catching the last full show that was scheduled at 9:40. We thought it was but proper to reward ourselves with a good movie after a long week working and a long day working on a weekend (!) that day, and for another reason that will is not be mentioned in this post.

We arrived at the cinema late, the movie already on its fifth minute; this meant we’ve missed important minutes alloted to backgrounding that will aid us in understanding the development of plot and characterization. This tardiness can be traced to that same reason why we had a quiet dinner in a Japanese fast food prior to entering the cinema.

None of us said anything during the entire run of the movie, even a whimper, which I secretly liked because I wanted to concentrate on the things I was seeing on the dusty screen of moving pictures before me rather than mundane concerns about our work or profound subjects that deal with our individual lives.

I admit I was lost in the first half of the film. This is a well-kept secret of mine which I am finally divulging here: dialogs in English of most Hollywood films I watch are senseless mambo-jumbo to me. I hardly get them or if I do, I do not get the details, only an general idea that a character is angry, happy, incontinent, or in the middle of a mind-blowing orgasm. This does not mean that I cannot comprehend; I should be ashamed of myself for having gone this far in my life not comprehending a single English film.

What debility this brings me however is that I do not usually ‘get’ the humor. So while the rest of the audience are laughing (or pretend to be laughing) to their lung’s content, I am left scratching my head not knowing why they laugh (or pretend to laugh) like a demented lot of about to-be-slaughtered sheep.

Before I meander even further, what makes Inception an interesting film to watch, aside from starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Ken Watanabe, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Marion Cotillard, Ellen Page, and Cillian Murphy, is this unique characteristic of being amorphous. While it lends itself to light, detached viewing-for-base-pleasure, and pedestrian approach to a film, it can also be a challenging one to follow for people who take film viewing a serious endeavor, a business worthy of a critical reading.

It is an intelligent film, though hardly original, the idea of lucid dreaming, that is, for most films that attempt to tackle or question our very idea of reality, is doomed to be intelligent. I heard people around me in the cinema murmuring something unintelligible, probably finding affirmation from the person beside them that they completely understood the film and that the filmmaker had not taken them for fools.

Despite the hula-baloo about the film’s superb story-telling and impressive visuals, I think that the strongest point of the film is its ability to amuse and amaze both the dumb and the damn smart.

Finally canceling my Friendster account

It was a spur of the moment decision, a split-second resolve to finally sever old ties. It was less painful this way. Disallowing hesitations and options to have second thoughts made the entire exercise akin to the clinical, impersonal approach of axing ruptured appendix or bulldozing gall stones, numbing and anesthetic.

Like all vestigial organs that will have to go, wholesale or in a rapid succession, Friendster has gone past its serviceability therefore it’s damned.

I now have one fewer online presence that will incriminate me in the inevitable day of reckoning. Thoughts of eradicating my Facebook account is looming.

Hologram(?) and how this new technology will redefine news coverage… . But wait.

This is something we all come to expect, but still, listening to the bickering between the people of GMA7 and ABS-CBN regarding their respective number one station’s supposed use of new technology in upping the ante of their news coverages during the elections is, to use a friend’s great-sounding adjective, juvenile. But what is even more irritating is the fact that both stations brandished about how they utilized ‘holographic images’ which each repeatedly made it appear as if the anchor in the studio seemed having a face to face interaction with the reporter in a remote situation.

Baloney. Nothing near a real hologram was achieved, only both stations’ multi-dimensional ego was clearly apparent.

Although I am not wont to lift sources from the net of apocryphal origin, this one from wikipedia.net will clearly give us an idea why both GMA7 and ABS-CBN we’re wishing upon a star whenever they mention about their use of their state-of-the-art hologram technology:

Holograph is a technique that allows the light scattered from an object to be recorded and later reconstructed so that it appears as if the object is in the same position relative to the recording medium as it was when recorded. The image changes as the position and orientation of the viewing system changes in exactly the same way as if the object were still present, thus making the recorded image (hologram) appear three dimensional.

http://howstuffworks.com

The technique of holography can also be used to optically store, retrieve, and process information. While holography is commonly used to display static 3-D pictures, it is not yet possible to generate arbitrary scenes by a holographic volumetric display.

Judging from their efforts, the operative word should have been ‘hologram effect’ since both did not really use holography in the real sense of the word. What each made use of is the ever-reliable chroma key, a technology which is not new at all.

To those who are not familiar with this method, chroma key composting is a technique for making a composite of two images or frames together in which a color (or a small color range) from one image is removed (or made transparent), revealing another image behind it.

This method is commonly used for broadcasts of weather forecast wherein the presenter appears to be standing in front of a large map, but in the studio it is actually a large blue or green background. The meteorologist stands in front of a bluescreen, and then different weather maps are added on those parts in the image where the color is blue. If the meteorologist himself wears blue clothes, his clothes will become replaced with the background video. This also works for greenscreens, since blue and green are considered the colors least like skin tone.

There is nothing entirely new regarding this ‘new’ technology, save the use of more sophisticated software that made the images crisper and appeared like fortune was spent to make them look like what we saw on our television during the unprecedentedly quick election.

If the medium is the message, according to McLuhan, then this medium looks ‘cool’. And the novelty will send both stations scurrying to use this in almost any of its news and current affairs programs, from the important interviews with the country’s leaders to mundane interviews with starlets. But this same novelty will wear people out.

When not properly executed, the image of the reporter appears like an apparition of a yet to-be-identified spirit. And the resulting ‘hologram’ we see on our screen is unabashedly cheap-looking or, worse, ugly.

By the way, who would like seeing their field reporters’ lower body projected on screen? Unless of course these reporters have great asses. But then again this is not possible as a chroma wall allows only the showing of two dimensions. Showing of great asses all for the sake of exhibition in a news coverage still has not seeped through our collective opinion as to how a news coverage is to be properly done.

At least not yet. But who knows what infamy or blessing, malfeasance or change for the betterment, this hologram ‘effect’ will bring.

Defense of a ‘self-patronizing’ blogger

blogging requires passion and authority

I jst fnd ur blog too patrnzng of urslf (I just find your blog too patronizing of yourself).

The text message above was sent to me by a reader of this blog. In all honesty, I do not clearly understand what he meant because it is syntactically and grammatically perplexing. But I suspect that he is commenting on the very personal tone of this blog, a fact that I do not deny. This blog might have gone too personal that this avid reader (he would not have noticed this if he has not been regularly following the posts in this blog) feels it went beyond the bounds of a comfortable limit of story-telling where despite the importance afforded to honesty, a certain level of detachment must still be maintained, at least retaining a certain measure of objectivity. To bluntly put it, this reader is of the opinion that I am over-sharing what should have been private matters or thoughts.

Will all due respect to this reader and his opinion, I acknowledge the validity of his observation, and I appreciate his concern that this (Going against the current) site becoming a diary worthy of being read by nobody but myself. However, he is missing the point of this enterprise we call blogging. Blogging is meant to be personal and its purpose, barring other motherhood and sweeping statement, is meant for the promotion of the owner of the site. Plain and simple.

In relating a story, aside from telling a truthful story, objectivity is paramount, and the use of the definitive inverted pyramid structure will guarantee that the article will sustain readers’ interest by presenting the most important information first. But these are already observed and done, expertly and impeccably, by other forms of media. These values are the lifeblood of journalism except, of course, in the editorial section of the paper.

Blogging, a relatively recent development, on the other hand, is an anomaly. Anyone, as long as he has access to the internet, can start blogging and, if he writes fairly decently, will eventually capture certain groups of regular readers. Blogging is democratizing; it gives voice to what used to be voiceless groups who rely entirely on mainstream media for information.

Orthodox demands exacted from traditional media are drastically slackened. With the emergence of the individual as an important stakeholder, objectivity is not anymore as important as it used to be. Storytelling is contextualized in the experience of the blogger; it’s always vis-à-vis the blogger’s universe. Never has the role of individual in the event been as important as in blogging.

social_blogging

http://avc.blogs.com

Like all other media, blogging is also governed by some sort of a check and balance. A blogger will lose his readers in the event he loses his integrity as a writer. That is why in spite of its subjective nature, truthfulness is still highly regarded in this media; however, I must say that the requirement for it is not as strong as in the traditional media. The blogger’s creativity, writing style, humor, sensitivity, and his ability to empathize and relate with his readers’ experience are even more important this time.

Every article in a blog post must bear the signature voice of the writer; the more personal, the better as these are the defining characteristics of a blog. These differentiate it from traditional form of media. Without this distinctive voice, without this ‘self-patronage’, without this glaring self promotion, blogging loses it essence.

Death of handwriting

handwriting

I was quite surprised to learn that my friend, Rogelio Braga, this year’s Palanca second prize winner for best short story written in Filipino still writes his works using pen and paper. With all the electronic gadgets to input all the information, one can actually write a prize-winning novel without having to cut a single tree. However this essay will do away with lecturing (or giving a sermon) on the better way of saving the environment by considering how we transmit information, or in the case of writing, giving a physical form to what is inherently cerebral undertaking.

On the contrary my reluctance to totally abandon script as a method to transform my thought or anyone’s into its more tangible version has less to do with environmnetalism as it is with the romantic aspect of writing and the beautiful feeling of my ballpoint licking the surface of a paper, leaving cursives that say more about my identity than all the combined adjectives I have used to describe myself.

This is not to say, nevertheless, that I am still doing hand. I don’t anymore, which I think is unfortunate. I type directly in my computer. According to Umberto Eco we are depriving history, or in case extra-terrestrial beings visit our planet in the future, any evidence that our thoughts pass through raw stages before they become the fluid collection of words we see in print.

Writing in script reminds me of the painstaking activities my classmates and I had to go through as we were learning how to write when we were eight years old. Our grade two teacher would write each letter on the blackboard, the mothers and children, the upper and lower cases respectively, and each of us had to fall in line to show her our imitation of her handwriting in cursive. One will have to be careful especially between T and F as the upper case F has a serif while the other has none. Or that there is an extra curl for capital letter C and the lower case is a simple semi-circle.

But with the advent of computers, smart phones, and PDAs, the art of handwriting is relegated to the back alleys of yesterday. My youngest sister who is eleven years old and is studying this time at the same central school all my other siblings including myself graduated from, surprisingly still writes in beautiful cursive. I wonder how things would have been had she studied in Manila and had been exposed to all the modern comforts we all ignore.

As for me, who is made too dependent on my computer, I cannot imagine myself writing on a piece of paper, but who knows? In the event those aliens come here earlier than predicted and start sacking our planet, I could revert to pen and paper and write something about them. Whenever I hear of people still writing their drafts on pieces of paper, I could not help but feel nostalgic about the not-so-distant past when I used to also do the same beautiful cursive and find satisfaction in seeing my unedited thoughts in my imitation of my second grade teacher’s handwriting.