Friday, November 30, 2012

Fertilizing Your Garden with Cow Dung, Urine and Brewed Coffee Waste

In her younger years, my mom, had a green thumb.  When we moved in to our first home in Novaliches, Philippines, we had a large lot and she grew a mini forest within.  She grew fruit trees like mango (Indian Mango and Carabo Mango), avocado, bayabas (guava), and guyabano.   She also had flower plants such as roses (red, white, and violet), kalachuchi, and poinsettia. 

Our subdivision was formerly an agricultural land so the soil was really fertile but my mom would still insist on putting fertilizer.  No, we don’t buy the commercial ones.  Our house was adjacent to a carabao gracing field so every now and then, my mom would take us to “harvest” dried carabao dung for her garden. 

Dried carabao dung isn’t smelly so it was just like picking up a lump of soil.  We would pick up sacks of it to bring back to the garden where my mom would ground them up and scatter amongst the plants. 

Other than carabao dung, my mom would also use urine to “water” the plants.  When we were little we had an “arinola” or urine bucket just in case we get the urge to take a leak in the middle of the night and with our bathroom still a far way off our bedroom, it was practical in the physiological as well as the horticultural sense. 

Urine is rich in micronutrients needed by plants; however, it needs to be diluted with water lest you want your plant’s roots to burn.

It has been a long time since we moved out of that house and the one we live in right now does not have a carabao gracing field and I do believe my sibling and I have outgrown our “arinola” days but my mom still cares for plants.  Good thing that I love coffee---Starbucks coffee to be exact!

Coffee bean waste also happens to be a good organic fertilizer.  Waste material of brewed coffee is dried to come out with “sapal”.  You simply mix this with the soil and you have happy and blooming plants after!  Starbucks gives away “sepal” to customers who have a green thumb. 

Monday, November 26, 2012

A Fish Bone Dilemma

I was feasting on left over tilapia last night when I accidentally swallowed a fish bone which to my reckoning is lodged somewhere in my esophagus (at least that's how it felt like).  It has been a long while since I had myself in this situation and recalling my last bout with an inadvertent fish bone, I remember my mother telling me to swallow a bite of banana.  Unfortunately, there was no banana on hand (except for a banana figurine which I decided not to go with unless I want to further aggravate my current situation).  So I just went with what was available.  First, I swallowed a chunck of rice---GULP!  But the pesky bone was still there!  I swallowed another chunk---nope, still there!  My, my, this bone sure is tenacious!  After a couple more rice chunks I'm already full (Boy, there goes my no carb diet!) but still the bone remained.

It's not really painful but it's really irritating like an itch you couldn't reach!  Every once in a while you'll feel a prick and you hesitate to swallow with the fear of further imbedding it.  Well, I'm still struggling to dislodge it as of this writing and so far even swallowing a whole pandesal couldn't budge it!  Sigh!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Enterprise Resource Planning 101

The Gartner group was responsible for spurring the rise of Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) as we know it today.  In the 90’s they came out with the terms material resource planning (MRP) and manufacturing resource planning (MRP II) which were ERP’s predecessors.  The only difference is that while MRP and MRP II were manufacturing specific, ERP transcended and became a holistic tool for corporate resource governance.

Any enterprise is comprised of SALES, PRODUCTION, FINANCE, HUMAN RESOURCES, LOGISTICS and BILLING.  What ERP does is to BRIDGE the information in between these departments and create a seamless work flow.

Addressing the Database Issue
Before the advent of ERP, businesses were tasked with a lot of paper work and very cumbersome and storage hungry data management.  When computerization came, done were the days of records keeping in huge warehouses.  Data is now stored in large capacity hard disk drives.  Each department now conveniently houses their own database. 

Problem solved---partly.

Multiple Software System Disaster
While the issue of storage has been addressed by computerization, it created multiple databases that are managed by different software solutions.  With the different silos in place transactions tends to get lost along the way and keeping track was a matter of inter department coordination---as if each department cared. 

In a multi-silo set up, each department’s goal is to get the data, process it, and then provide this to their stakeholders.  Inter-department coordination is often times non-existent and information sharing is a matter of unending red tape.

Bridging the Gap
With the existence of multiple software within a company, there is a need to consolidate information in such a way that there is transparency in the flow of transaction and at the same time provide a peace of mind that the data flowing to each department silos are correct.  This is what an ERP software can do for the company.

With proper implementation, an ERP system can unify the transaction gaps existing in a traditional corporate set up and the mayhem that goes with it.  Inter-department walls are brought down as department dashboards are put up for ready access and faster decision making capability.

Living in an Imperfect World
In a perfect world, ERP implementation is easy enough to deploy.  However, we do not live in a perfect world and there will be stumbling blocks that would make ERP a challenge to put in place. 
First of all, there is a question of BUDGET.  A solid cost benefit analysis should be clear to the decision makers to justify the cost of implementation.  Mind you---ERP is not cheap.
Then there’s the matter of integrating the existing legacy systems.  This is where the real challenge is.  The more the legacy systems there are, the more complicated the integration. 
But the complication does not stop there.  Selecting the ERP software can be a subject of much debate.  You can base your decision on market share.  But then, choosing the vendor who will implement your chosen system can be a daunting task.  A common trait of these vendors is that they are all PROMISING.  They will promise to give you the stars and the moon just to get the contract.  So it is up to you to weed out the undesirable and pick from those who has the competency to deliver the right solution for your company. 

Friday, November 23, 2012

Fried Balut, Anyone?

I love balut!  I enjoy sucking on its hot broth, relishing on the yolk and the duck embryo, and the ceremony of dissecting it very much like the solemn ritual of the Tea Ceremony. 
Balut is a Filipino street food.  It is a boiled duck egg which is conventionally eaten from the shell with a dash of salt as condiment.  However, not all duck eggs can be made as balut.  Ideally, duck eggs are aged for 17 days when the selection process.  By this time, the chick inside has yet to develop its beak, feathers, claws, and still has underdeveloped bones---the perfect balut!

Much that I enjoy slurping on the balut's embryonic soup, the breaded fried balut version is what I usually trip on nowadays. So yesterday on my way home I chanced upon an Eggspert kiosk at SM Fairview and saw that they were selling fried balut.  Like Pavlov's dog---I was salivating in the anticipation of getting my first bite!

 By the time my order was heated and garnished with vinegar I was already in a frenzy and as soon as I sat down I immediately devoured one whole egg in a single bite!  It was then that I noticed that I was munching on a lot of bones---big ones at that!  So after I've swallowed the last morsel of the first egg I decided to dissect the second one to get a look see. I wish I hadn't because what I saw almost turned my stomach!  The chick was already fully formed with beak, feathers, and claws!  I lost my appetite after that.  Well, the Vietnamese prefer their version of the balut this way but I'm no Vietnamese so this didn't sit well with me!

Well, I'm definitely not going to buy fried balut in Eggspert!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Maria Menounos in Men's Fitness Magazine

For a Men's Fitness Magazine to be graced by a female seems odd---at least to me, that is.  But thinking about it further, womanhood does have their good effects on men's health.  Personally, just looking at this month's cover makes my heart pump as if I just ran a marathon!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

KC Conception for Tanduay Rum Calendar 2013

Who would have known that the little chubby girl that Sharon Cuneta and Gabby Conception spawned would become such a sexy lady?  Obviously, not me!  But it is a pleasant surprise!   

Here's KC Conception for Tanduay!

Maxim USA December 2012 Starring Arianny Celeste and Britney Palmer

Arianny Celeste and Britney Palmer---round per round they sure are GORGEOUS! 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Breaking Dawn Part 2

After 5 years the Twilight movie installment draws to a close with Breaking Dawn Part 2.

Well, it has been a while since I read the book and I'm not really sure how it ended but how it was depicted in the movie had me at the edge of my seat!  

There were internet chatter about a different ending so as the fight scene between the Volturi and the Cullens got underway and saw some of the main characters get decapitated it got to the point where I was in a state of shock!  I hate it when main characters die!  I won't ruin your viewing pleasure but I must say that Breaking Dawn Part 2 is definitely a MAJOR MUST WATCH!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Walking Dead: Whatever Happened to Lori?

Two episodes ago, Lori apparently died giving birth.  Carl apparently shot her to make sure she does not re-animate to become the undead.  However, when Rick, in his misery, went back to the cell block where Lori apparently died---she was not there!  There is this notion that the bloated zombie slumped near the area where Lori apparently died made a meal out of her body---but is she really dead?  Well the chances of her surviving an unstiched up C-section is realistically unlikely, but the imagination of the series writers might just spin off a rather interesting twist.  Otherwise, why not just show the viewers what has become of Lori?  What do I know---I'm just a televiewer curiously wondering...and then I saw this picture...

Is this what has become of Lori?

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Empanada Nation: Serving Authentic Ilocano Empanada

I first had a taste of the Ilocano Empanada early 2000 when I was still working as a line trainer for my company.  I handled the North Luzon area and it took me in the different parts of provinces of the area which includes the Ilocos region.  It was in Candon, Ilocos Sur where I got my very first taste of the Ilocano Empanada and I was instantly addicted!  Unfortunately, my new job does not require much travelling and it has been a while since I had a taste of this local delicacy.  

Then came Empanada Nation.

An officemate of mine told me about this new kiosk that serves authentic Ilocano Empanada.  The good news was that it was just at Pearl Drive in Pasig which was just a stone's throw away from our office.  Naturally, I was intrigued so off I went during my lunch break and rekindled my long lost gastronomical love affair with this Ilocano treat.  That was two years ago.

Flashback to last Friday.   My wife and I ate at a restaurant near our home to try their version of the Ilocano Empanada (which she had the privilege to have previously tried and liked).  However, the finished product did not look or taste authentic.  It was a copycat and a poor one at that (sorry sweety).  

When we went to SM Fairview this afternoon, I had the pleasant surprise of seeing an Empanada Nation kiosk at the food court and I told my wife that she needs to taste this to really know what an authentic Ilocano Empanada tastes like.

Unfortunately, it was a service nightmare!  The staff did not know how to manage their customers.  There were a lot of customer milling around and I was at a lost as to where the line is to place my order.  So I asked the crew to direct me where I need to line up.  I stood for a couple of minutes thinking that she will put the customers in order---I was mistaken!   I'm a patient man and I don't easily get mad, so just to be clear as to my number in the queue is, I asked the customers who was ordering.  Apparently, may were just UZIS (usiseros) and I found myself third in line.  Since my wife and I still needed to buy something at the grocery, I asked the cashier if I can just place my order and just fetch it later to which she said ok.  I even told her who I was following just to show her that I'm legitimately in line.

Twenty minutes after I come back to fetch my order but to my dismay, they forgot my order!  But since they told me that they would just prioritize me, I again switched to my patient mode.  Man!  Was I PATIENT!  I guess the crew and me did not match in terms of the meaning of PRIORITY since there were around four orders that they served before I got mine!   

I'm not sure how many turn away customers they had during this time but I was almost one of them.  Their product is good but if their service will continue to be the way I just experienced it  this afternoon, this business will lose many sales opportunities and receive many customer complains.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Cocktail Chronicles: Stocking up on Liquid Ingredients

Ever since the cocktail tutorial I had at the Cohiba Villas in Boracay I have been slowly building up on my basic cocktail ingredients.  So far I already have vodka, tequila, vermouth, and orange liqueur.  The thing is---I don't want to spend too much in my experimentation stage.  

The most expensive liquid mix I have is the Martini Dry Vermouth @ Php 500+.  My vodka is Tosca, the tequila is El Hombre, and the orange liqueur is Orchid---all of which are local brands and cost less than Php 200.  

When I first thought of making cocktail mixing as a hobby I started canvassing for the basic liquid mixes. Man, they can be expensive especially if you go with the popular brands!   Grand Marnier, Cointreau, Absolut, Stolichnaya, Patron, Jose Cuervo, these brands would be in the Php 900 and up category.  

Other garnishings would be lemon, lime, and mint leaves.  Lemon and lime is readily available in the fruit section of SM but the mint leaves is not.  So I'm thinking of raising my own mint plant so I can harvest leaves on a per need basis.  

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Ritz Azul: FHM Philippines November 2012 Spread

Ritz Azul was TV5's celebrity search show---Star Search---2 years ago.  She has just turned 18 last January but judging by her FHM spread, she's one well endowed lady!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Walking Dead Episode 4

The writers of this series really got us by the nuts as to who's going to die next!  

All this while, I was under the impression that either Hershel, Beth, T-Dog, or Carol would become the next zombie menu.  This is mainly because of their character's significance in the whole scheme of things.  Hershel almost died two episodes ago but didn't.  T-Dog dies in this episode (not surprised).  But then Lori dies...?!  Well, or assumed to be dead (it was not shown if Carl really pulled the trigger on his mother).  If Carl did not put a bullet to his mother's head---can somebody who just had a caesarian section survive alone?  Does she come back as a good zombie and remains on the show?  Well, obviously I like Lori's character...why did the damn writers have to kill her?!

Jamming with Freddie Mercury and Queen

Normally, after I pay my bus fare I would be fast asleep as soon as I close my eyes. However, this morning was different---special in a way.  The bus I happen to ride in was playing Queen's Japan concert on video!  Much that I wanted to sleep, I just couldn't help but gyrate to the rhythm  as Freddie Mercury, the flamboyant lead singer and writer of the group, belted out songs like Under Pressure, Don't Stop Me Now, Somebody to Love, Bohemian Rhapsody, and We are the Champions.  And as I closed my eyes I was transported as one of the audience, with heart pounding to the beat of each song and with goose bumps all over!  It was one of my best bus rides ever!  Unfortunately, I was not able to finish the concert as I was already at my stop in Megamall.   

Queen is considered to be one of the greatest band in rock history.  Although Brian May and Roger Taylor, two of the founding member of the group, continued to tour with Paul Rogers as lead vocals, Queen as a band died when Freddy Mercury succumbed to bronchial pneumonia resulting from AIDS in November 24, 1991.  

Queen's musical legacy lives on in the hearts of those who continue to appreciate their music.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Last Man Standing Season 2

Season Two of Last Man Standing was filled with political overtones with the Baxter family divided in terms of political affiliations.  Basically, the Baxter family is a representation of America's voting population:  Mike, the unspoken democrat, his eldest daughter Kristin is the staunch republican,  his wife Vanessa is the fence sitter, and daughter Mandy is the undecided neophyte voter.  I guess with the US Presidential Elections at hand, the writers may have thought of using this as an electoral parody.  Still, it was very entertaining!  Vintage Tim Allen comedy!

One thing I didn't like about the new season is the replacement of Alexandra Krosney who played Kristin Baxter in the first season with Amanda Fuller.  Personally I think that Amanda looks too mature and not pretty enough to be a Baxter daughter.

How to Mix a Hemingway Mojito

I'm not really a drinker.  I'm relatively an ignoramus when it comes to hard and cocktails drinks.  Beer is the only spirit (if you can categorize it as such) that I drink.and I only do so occasionally.  However, having had a taste of the Hemingway Mojito Cohiba Villa Style, I think it is something that I can add to my spirits list.  Thank you to our bartender Nancy who gave me a quick tutorial on how this drink is mixed.

6 lemons (3 yellow and 3 green)
two teaspoons of brown sugar
a sprig of peppermint leaves
a shot of Bacardi Rum
an ounce and a half of Sprite 
ice cubes

Chop up the lemons and put in a glass.  Add the sugar and peppermint.  Mix using a muddler.  Put in the Bacardi Rum, Sprite, and ice cubes.  Cover the glass and shake to mix.  Serve in drinking glass with all the ingredients in.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Boracay Sojourn 2012

There weren't supposed to be any trip planned for this year but cheap plane tickets came along and me and my wife once again found ourselves at the island paradise of Boracay!

It was a four day/three nights stay.  We have been wanting to stay at the Cohiba Villas and it was an opportune time to do so.  However, our day one stay won't be worth it since we had a late afternoon flight so we decided to get a cheap accommodation just to spend the night.

Casa Pilar was our first option but they don't accept overnight stay. We ended up staying at the Escurell Inn at the farther part of Station 3.  We booked the Standard Room with aircon which came with a double bed, a mini ref, cable TV, WiFi, hot and cold shower, and a sitting area.  

I was not able to try their free WiFi (I brought my Smart Weroam) since it was already late when we came back from our dinner and I forgot to get the password from the katiwala.  Escurell Inn may not be my ideal Boracay accommodation but it did provide an adequate sleeping quarters for the night. It is located way off the activity and commercial area (D' Mall) but its location provided for a secluded beach front if you want a serene lounge at the beach.  Personally, this is a last recourse option (like what happened to me).  I purposely did not take pictures of the place since I'm not providing my thumbs up for future vacationers.

Cohiba Villas on the other hand is quite the opposite.  Luxury living is what this place is all about!  

Cohiba Villas is located at the Bulabog side of Boracay (opposite the White Beach).  Bulabog Beach is more known as the surfing side of the island with an assortment of surfing boutiques along the beach side.  The resort is Mediterranean in terms of architecture and owned by a British fellow according to the staff.  

We stayed at Suite A which was a one bedroom accommodation with a queen size bed, a 42" LCD TV with cable, a bathroom with hot and cold shower and a jacuzzi, complemented with a fully furnished kitchen area, a refrigerator, microwave and conventional oven, a gas stove and a complete set of cooking and dining wares; a dining set, a sala set with another  42" LCD cable TV, a DVD player, and an iPOD dock.
Open the bedroom drapes and you'll have a spectacular view outside.
My wife and I had different tastes in  terms
of TV shows and the two TV set up was
definitely a plus!

I can just sit there in the jacuzzi all day and read a book
and sip coffee.

A view from the sitting area outside.
A view of the Bulabog coastline with the Monacco Suites
at the background.
Outside of the room, the next best thing about this resort is the infinity pool!  By night, the pool looked really enticing to swim in but we didn't risk the cold water and the strong winds unless we want to get the chills.  But the night view by the pool makes it an ideal spot for cocktails.  Which was why they have a restaurant and bar by the pool side.  However, I think we were the only ones who appreciated it since we were the only customer---which was fine by me since I hate crowded places.  Be wary though because the price list is not VAT inclusive.

The pool area at night.

By day, the pool side offers a magnificent view of the Sibuyan Sea and the Bulabog coast!  And the cold water really went well with the heat of the morning sun!

You can see the Bulabog  Beach from this vantage point.
Most of the tourist checked in during our stay were Koreans. Actually, my wife and I felt that we were the tourist being the only Filipino staying there that time.  Anyway, the Koreans is more interested in staying at the White Beach since we only see them going back to the resort at night.  Basically, we had Cohiba all to  ourselves!

The place is obviously not walking distance from the White Beach but the resort provides for an hourly transport to and pick up at D'Mall.  

Really had a grand time at this place!  I wish we could have stayed longer!