Literary Scratchpad

Thursday, November 02, 2006


I came across this dreaded disease on the net which is caused by excessive exposure to asbestos whose name I couldn't even pronounce correctly, Mesothelioma. This disease affects the mesothelium, (hence the name) where malignant cells develops. Mesothelium is a protective lining that covers most of the body's internal organs. It is commonly found at the pleura which is the outer lining of the lungs and chest cavity. It can also be found at the peritoneum which is the lining of the abdominal cavity and pericardium which is the sac that surrounds the heart.

Asbestos is available in many commercial uses and is classified into two groups, Serpentine and Amphibole. For Serpentine group, chrysotile is the form of asbestos that has been used commercially. It is usually present including but not limited to the following materials:

  • sheetrock taping
  • mud and texture coats
  • vinyl floor tiles, sheeting, adhesives and ceiling tiles
  • plasters and stuccos
  • roofing tars, felts, siding, and shingles
  • "transite" panels, siding, countertops, and pipes
  • acoustical ceilings
  • fireproofing
  • putty
  • caulk
  • gaskets
  • brake pads and shoes
  • clutch plates
  • stage curtains
  • fire blankets
For the Amphibole group, amosite and crocidolite were used in many products until the early 1980s. The use of all types of asbestos under this group was banned in the mid-1980s. These products were mainly:

  • Low density insulation board and ceiling tiles
  • asbestos-cement sheets and pipes for construction, casing for water and electrical/telecommunication services
  • thermal and chemical insulation (i.e., fire rated doors, limpet spray, lagging and gaskets)
According to the information I gathered, symptoms of mesothelioma may not appear until 20 to 50 years after exposure to asbestos. Shortness of breath, cough, and pain in the chest due to an accumulation of fluid in the pleural space are often symptoms of pleural mesothelioma.

Since I was conceived during the 1980s, I became worried because during my growing up years, I remember our house went through a lot of renovations and makeovers. This renovations and makeovers involved cement which during those times may or may not contain asbestos. The scariest part about this disease is that it has no known cure yet and after diagnosis, the median survival time of patients who had this disease is between 6 to 12 months. However, there are ways to alleviate the person's suffering like surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, etc. and according to statistics, these may add up to 5 years of patient's survival time.

I really hope I am just being paranoid. Last time I checked (through employment medical examination), my lungs are nothing like the picture above. My fingers are crossed and hope they remain the same for the next 20 or so years. Now, if yours resembles the x-ray picture above, be very worried and visit your nearest doctor for a check-up.

Source: Wikipedia

Thursday, October 19, 2006

At the US Embassy

In reference to my previous blog, this is the reason that I cannot disclose before because I wanted to make sure that my Visa gets approved first before telling the whole world about it.

I woke up at 4:00AM. My interview schedule is at 7:00AM. I arrived at the US Embassy around 5:30AM. They started letting people in at around 6:00AM. We were instructed to go to the baggage screening area. Cellphones are prohibited inside so you have to leave them at the counter. A valid ID must be presented to claim them back after the interview. I was instructed to get a number at Window 1 (or Window A). I presented my passport and other documents. The officer checked the completeness of my answers in the application form. After checking, the officer gave me a number. I went to the Pavillion area to wait for my number to be called. When my number was called, I was instructed to go to the Interview area to wait yet again. After waiting yet again, my number was called yet again for fingerprint scanning. I stated my name and birthdate before the fingerprint scanning process. The officer is a bit strict about the entire fingerprint scanning thing. I remember the officer telling the other applicants "Press harder, press harder, like this oh. Mmm, like this". She did not complain however when it's my turn to scan my fingerprints. I did press harder, that's why. So anyways, after fingerprint scanning, I went back to where I was seated at the interview area and waited yet again for my number to be called. I was there early so we were the first batch to be interviewed. Once the clock hits 8AM, the Visa officers will immediately start the interviewing. When I was called, here's the dialogue between me and the Visa officer (VO) as far as I can remember them:

VO: Good Morning, How are you?
Me: Fine, how about you?
VO: So-so (smiling).
VO: May I see your documents?
Me: Sure, do you want all of them?
VO: Go ahead.
Me: (slipped all the documents under the window)
Me: Oh by the way, my employer wants me to give you this as well (handed over the sealed short brown envelope)
VO: Thanks. (browsed the documents). So your company name is xXx?
Me: Yes, that's correct.
VO: Isn't it xXx has some other offices aside from its location in
Me: I'm not sure about that. What I do know is that their main office is in xXx.
VO: Okay. (browsed the documents again, then asked...) What's your position there and what will you be doing?
Me: (explained everything)
VO: Okay.

Yada, yada, yada.

After answering her questions, she opened the sealed envelope. Browsed the documents found inside the envelope, then uttered the words, "Okay, that does it." (then handed me the yellow slip)

VO: Go back to the pavillion and present this slip to arrange for your passport delivery. Have a nice day."
Me: You too. Thanks.

Voila! Visa Approved!

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Upgrade to Treo 650

Barely six months after my Motorola Razr and Palm Tx purchase, I had a new one - Treo 650. I swapped my Palm Tx to Treo 650 and sold my Motorola Razr to my officemate. Then after tinkering with my new gadget for a couple of weeks, here are my thoughts:

Look and Feel

Having used to the slimness of Motorola Razr, the Treo 650 is quite bulky. Its bulkiness is even more evident when you put it inside your pocket. Nonetheless, its bulkiness is acceptable for a PDA-slash-phone.


Palm OS UI is the best UI I've experienced so far in terms of navigation on a PDA phone. Texting is great with its QWERTY keyboard. Browsing the internet is not a problem with its built-in web browser - Blazer. I use it to browse for movie schedules at Office documents from MS Word Doc, Ms Excel and MS Powerpoint can be easily transferred and viewed using the included software, Documents To Go. Email is also possible using its built-in email client, Versamail. Its VGA camera is useful for taking snapshots. Sending pictures to your contacts through MMS has never been easier. Sharing multimedia files to other devices is also possible through IR or Bluetooth. Picture Quality is acceptable. Camera has three effects: Normal, Sepia and Black and White. Below are unedited samples of the snapshots.


Black and White


Indoor Shot

Outdoor Shot


Aside from its usual PDA functionalities (i.e. Calendar, Contacts, Tasks, Memos, etc.), the Treo 650 can be used to listen to MP3s and watch videos. RealPlayer is included for playing MP3s. For a better MP3 player on your Palm devices, I recommend using Pocket Tunes. For videos, I downloaded a third party application to play Divx movies - TCPMP Player. Video playback quality on Treo 650's screen is great.


I liked it a lot. I give it 4 out of 5 stars.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

I Failed!

After a few months of my so-called gadget respite, I failed. I couldn't blame everything to myself. The transpiration of certain events while I was solemnly fulfilling this so-called hiatus served as a balk to my commitment which was terminated eventually.

I missed being online anytime anywhere! There's this one time (at bank camp) where I needed a certain piece of information which I can only imagine getting immediately by "googl-ing" it, so to speak. This rekindled my experience with my old gadgets that do just that.
I lost my 6510 (see my previous blog why the heck am i owning this piece of phased-out cellphone)! The unexpectedness of this event, though, did not at all disturb my sanity. I'm actually surprised how I handled the situation to the point where it's effect was almost negligible in my mundane goings on.

These events are the ultimate reason (...and again to emphasize the fact that it crippled my being able to immediately satisfy my thirst for the information I needed) why I had to undergo yet again the glorious world of gadget researching and window shopping whether online or actual.

These happenings without a doubt brought myself to the inevitable hence breaking my former commitment of gadget quiescency.

Thus, after such a very long explanation, I am now a proud owner of a Palm TX and a Motorola V3 Razr Black Edition. I never sounded off ever since. In fact, I commend their marvelous convergence which is almost flawless in order to deliver what I needed not to mention the extra features. And boy did I mention the fantastic technological sophistication of Moto Razr's form factor and the ever so useful dual wireless technology (bluetooth and Wifi) of Palm TX. I've never been so technologically satisfied in my entire life!

"There are times when something must be destroyed in order to create." (not in exact words... I'm pulling this off from my memory) I read this from somewhere just recently and whoever said this, you have every right to feed your ego because it certainly did apply in my case.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Gadget Hiatus

Yes.. Hard to believe but yes I've sold my gadgets (Dell Axim X50, Samsung MP3 Player, Nokia 6600 and Nokia 6230i) and converted its revenue to multiple-account peso time deposits. The reasons for doing so: (1) I can't believe the value of my recently-bought Nokia 6230i phone depreciated by five thousand pesos in less than a month; (2) I needed money for a reason I cannot disclose as of this writing. Had the former never happened, I would not have done it and be satisfied with what I had.

So far, it's been a success. I don't miss them... at all. No kidding. I'm happy with my low profile lifestyle now. I must say it's even better. I don't have to worry about "hold-uppers" and "snatchers" anymore. I go to work without anything with me but my coin purse and a phased-out-but-still-functional cellphone... the Nokia 6510 which I traded for my Nokia 6230i with no regrets at all whatsoever.

So when will this gadget hiatus end? Only time will tell... and most especially when the "reason I cannot disclose as of this writing" materializes.

Stay tuned.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Quotidian Interruptor

It was a Tuesday morning in the Philippines and a Holiday in the US. I was debating within myself whether to go to work or to stay at home. Apparently, my prevailing limpness succeeded in convincing myself not to undergo my mundane ritual since our US counterparts will not be available anyway to give us tasks. And so, I stayed home looking like a splat of gelatin in my bed. Badminton, Jogging, Movies and Eating-out are just some of the things that crossed my mind in order to fill-out my entire day which I used to spend sedentarily in the office..

Then I thought... Since my dad is a few hundred miles away from us, I can freely use his car. I borrowed the car key from my grandpa who is apparently the "key keeper" of my dad's car. He gave me the car key without asking too many questions which is what he normally does whenever I borrow it from him. I told him that I'll just go to the mall to buy some stuff. And so I did go to the mall but the "buy some stuff" part from my previous sentence turned out to be groceries. It was a fun day at the grocery. I can buy whatever I want without having to worry about my budget knowing that I can pay them all because my recent job promotion is there to back me up. Haha!

I then went home wearing a smile on my face.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

With A Vengeance

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Bruno couldn't continue his sleep due to the loud sound created by the heavy rainfall outside. Displeased he was, he got up his bed and closed the windows. He went back to his bed only to find out the alarm now going off. He irritatedly reached for the alarm to shut it off and remained seated for a while on the side of his bed with his eyes closed. With the sound of the rain outside grew stronger, Bruno opened his eyes, glanced at the clock hanging on the wall and realized that it is already ten minutes later than his usual wake-up time. He then got up from bed, grabbed his towel and made his way to the bathroom. After taking a bath, his mother showed up.

"Hiniram ng kapatid mo yung payong mo." His mom told him.

"Ha! Anong gagamitin ko!?" He replied in an annoyed tone.

"Manghiram ka na lang sa tita mo." His mom replied.

Furious he was, he asked their katulong to go to his Tita to borrow an umbrella. Luckily, he was able to borrow one.

He then opened the refrigerator to get his milk and prepared some breakfast but he was halted by what he saw on the chiller - two pieces of Toblerone* Chocolates. He knew it belongs to his sister so he grabbed it right away and slid it immediately inside his lunch bag.

Later that day, he went back home from work and saw his sister burning with anger.

"'Bat mo kinuha yung Toblerone* ko!" His sister threw the words right at his face but Bruno calmly replied,

"Ngayon alam mo na ang pakiramdam ko nung kinuha mo ang payong ko!"

Copyright (c) 2005 Nick Vargas. *All trademarks are owned by their respective companies.