Monday, August 29, 2011

Blazing Internet For a Reasonable Price

My two year contract with Verizon Internet expired last month. I was paying them $19.99 a month for 1 megabit per second (mbps) download speed, and when the contract expired, I was billed on a month to month basis for 21.99. Last Wednesday afternoon, a door-to-door Charter Communications salesman knocked on my door to ask if I needed cable, phone, or internet service. Normally I would just brush them off and say I don’t need cable because free antenna TV is enough for me and I already have internet service. Since my two year internet agreement expired, I was interested in listening to what Charter had to offer. The guy said he can offer me internet service for 19.99 a month and I asked him how many megabits per second speed, expecting only the same 1 mbps that Verizon offered. To my surprise, he said it would be 12 mbps! I couldn’t believe my ears so I said “are you sure?”, and asked him to repeat it. So what’s the catch? Do I have to pay for monthly modem and router rental fees on top of the 19.99? He said, no catch, I only had to pay an extra 10 dollars for the first month for installation. He also mentioned that it was a back to school promo. I made sure he wrote all that in the work order form. (It bears mentioning that pre-recession, I had 3 mbps service from Verizon for 29.99 a month but that got too expensive for me so I had to downgrade.) We set an appointment for Friday between 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. for the installer to show up. The salesman called me later and said that Friday was full, so we switched it to Saturday morning between 8 to 12 noon.
Come Saturday morning (hmm, wasn’t there a song that started with that line?), I awaited the arrival of the installer while doing my cycling/elliptical/abs workout. I even made it to the shower before he showed up at 11 o’clock. He looked around and asked me where the preinstalled cable wires were. I showed them to him and told him I hadn’t had cable in more than 20 years and those were the only connections I knew. When he tested the wires, there was no power coming out of them so he went outside to look for the cable box. It turns out they had rewired the system and my more than 20 year old connection doesn’t work anymore. He ended up having to drill a hole in my bedroom wall to run a cable from outside, around my bedroom, under the carpet, and into the living room so he could connect the modem/router device. Having finished that at quadruple the time it would normally have taken if my old cable connection still worked, he proceeded to set up my wireless connection. I thanked him very much and apologized for the extra work he had to do. After some instructions from him, I managed to change my wireless network SSID name and password.
One of the first things I did was check the internet speed. It was not quite the advertised speed of 12 mbps but more like 10 mbps. Still blazingly fast compared to the previous 1 mbps. Next I tried downloading a large file while talking on the MagicJack phone. There was nary a drop off in the sound quality. Oh, by the way, that phone call was to Verizon to cancel their service.
That brings me to this question. At that speed, why not share internet service with the neighbors? You can share the password and split the monthly fee. That’s a lot of speed to go around for maybe up to three households. Has anyone heard of such an arrangement or maybe do you yourself share with your neighbors?
I know there are much faster internet services out there but it seems like I got myself a pretty good deal with this arrangement. I hope there will be no surprise extra fees when I get my bill.

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Sunday, August 28, 2011

Thursday’s Urban Walkabout

Well it seems like it’s back to walking for me. My ankles haven’t really recovered from the 9 mile run three weeks ago and I didn’t even start doing a walking workout on the treadmill until early last week. I happened to have awakened earlier than usual on Thursday morning after being off from work the previous night, and thought I’d walk outdoors maybe for 2 to 2 ½ hours, which would have made me catch up to the training mileage for the Long Beach Half Marathon.
So I headed out towards the Virginia Country Club area and planned to crisscross the streets and maybe throw in some loops. I was only aiming or at least hoping  for a pace of 15 minutes per mile while doing 4 minutes of aggressive walking with 1 minute of slower recovery. After all, I haven’t done a walking workout in a while and besides it was a hot day. The first couple of miles were uneventful but, darn it, when I hit three miles my left ankle started to hurt, and I thought I would have to abort the workout. Going into the fourth mile which I thought I was on my way home, the ankle started to stabilize, so I pressed on. That’s when the maybes started: maybe one more block, maybe 5 miles, maybe 6, maybe 7, okay, let’s try making it 8 and that should do it. When I hit 2 hours, I was slightly past 8 miles so I went for 8.5 to even it out. But wait, there’s more – I ran up the time to 2:15 and completed 9.13 miles. The first 7 miles were right on the money at my goal pace of 15 minutes per mile, but the last 2 miles were way faster because at the end, the average pace dropped down to 14:48 for the whole distance. So I didn’t make it to 10 miles, but it wasn’t bad at all for not having walked for weeks.
Even though I was surprised and excited to have completed that distance, I didn’t write about it right away because I was afraid of the aftermath. Often my ankles hurt more the day after, so I had to wait and see how it would turn out this time. Well, it seems like the tendons recovered much faster than when I subject them to the pounding of running because the pain is not as much.
After experimenting between a short, quick heel-to-toe stride and my more normal longer walking stride, I found out that my pace is faster with the longer stride, so maybe I’ll keep it that way. It isn’t as pretty as the swiveling hips of racewalkers, but it seems to work better for me.

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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Gifted But Not Well Guided Runner?

There’s this girl who loves to run and she is a gifted runner despite what seems to have been a late start at the sport. If she had grown up running in high school, I don’t know. She loves running hard, mostly long distances. If I read her posts on Facebook correctly, she pushes her limits all the time. Do you know the Staples “EASY” button? I don’t think she has one. I don’t know her that well so I’m not aware if she has some guidance from any kind of running mentor or coach (which would have helped if she started running in high school). All the people in the club seem to just praise her for her speed and not give her feedback about how she pushes too much without the required easy days. I could of course be wrong about that. As a frequently injured runner myself and not knowing her that well, I’m not in any position to address her training techniques. Not that the techniques are incorrect. They are all good principles but they are not supposed to be done on consecutive days. Normally, an interval session, a tempo session, and a long run during the week comprise of hard workouts with the runs in between as being done as easily as possible to enable the body to recover. I think she even does 2 a day runs and they are both hard ones. I don’t know if this girl is doing it that way but like I said I could be wrong. Now she is injured a second time in about 4 months and people are asking her what happened and what she did. From my point of view the people who are asking her are already well aware of what happened and know the answers to their questions. I’m not saying she’s not going to get injured if she trains properly. All I’m saying is that she trains too hard too often.
G, you gotta push that EASY button sometimes..

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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Thoughts About Retirement Revisited

It’s time to revisit my thoughts about retirement  two years after I first wrote about it here: . From time to time when I think as if I’m getting tired of the rat race, my thoughts wander to what it might feel like to retire early. The primary considerations of two years ago still stand as documented at that link above.
            My mortgage is due to be paid off in about 6 ½ years and by then I would also be able to start drawing funds from my retirement savings without penalty, other than taxes, depending on the type of account. I won’t go into the differences between Roth and tax deferred IRA’s and 401K or 403B plans, all of which I have had in the 30 odd years I’ve lived and worked in the U.S. Certainly, paying off the mortgage will be a big reduction in my expenses. It is after all the biggest monthly expense which covers about 60 % of my self imposed strict budget. If and when that expense disappears, will I be able to retire then, or continue working lesser hours just so I can keep my health insurance going? See, health insurance is my biggest concern because without an employer contributing to the cost, it is something very expensive to maintain, if you pay the whole cost out of your own pocket. Just before I wrote this, I looked it up and the costs terrified me. If I retire at 60 when I pay off my mortgage, the monthly payment which used to go to the mortgage lender  will be used to pay for health insurance instead, at least until I qualify for Medicare five years later. Of course the other option is not to retire early.
            But what if I really, really, want to retire early? Will moving back to the Philippines still be an alternative? The dollars go farther there as I previously mentioned. In recent weeks, I have surfed the web to look at the cost of homes in different areas of the Philippines. Metro Manila is definitely out of the question because it’s expensive to live there. Even if that is to be considered, the most I could possibly afford would be a studio condominium unit, which is so tiny I would feel squeezed in. There have been suggestions about living in the following cities: Dumaguete (a lot of expatriates supposedly live there), Davao, Cagayan Do Oro, and Zamboanga were among the ones I looked at. Compared to homes in the U.S. which would cost more than what I have saved so far in my lifetime, for the price of about 1/7th of what I have, one could have at least a 2 bedroom condo or house depending on what city you choose. Even though I looked at Zamboanga where my mother lives, it was not one of the suggested places because it is not as safe as the others mentioned. The homes are cheaper there though. There is just one problem with this scenario. Only Filipino citizens can buy a house and lot in the Philippines, although condominiums are exempt from that law. If anyone from the Philippines reads this, please correct me if I’m wrong. I have no qualms about living in a condo, mind you. I live in one now.
            Ok, now let’s say I decide to retire at 60 and move to the Philippines and buy a home there. There is still the health insurance concern. An expatriate living in the Philippines mentioned in his blog that he set aside $10,000 in case he develops any catastrophic illnesses that requires hospitalization and other expenses that follow.
            After the initial major expense of buying a home, I could possibly live on $500.00 a month until I turn 62 when I can start collecting a reduced amount from Social Security . That would still more than double my budget, that is, if Social Security would still be available then. Farther down the road at 65, I start qualifying for Medicare, which is no good in the Philippines. So what now? Move back to the U.S. just because? By that time, out of pocket Medicare premiums may no longer be affordable to me, and besides, where would I live?
Am I thinking too far ahead? ASTAGPIRULA! This is giving me a headache, LOL!
            Another thing I wondered about is if I can retire now. Well I looked at my net worth a few days ago and the available cash I have which are not part of my tax deferred retirement plans. Here is the nitty gritty: I cannot retire at this moment because if I pay off my mortgage, I would hardly have any money left that’s not tax deferred. And I don’t foresee selling off my condo so quickly that I can vamoose to the Philippines right away. If however I can sell my condo, I may have enough to make it last until I can draw funds from the retirement accounts when I turn 60. So darn complicated. Hmm, unless I win big in the Super Lotto soon. Otherwise, forget about tax deferred and think about retirement deferred instead.
            Having said all that, here are some homes that have piqued my interest because of the price and location. There’s just one possible problem – I don’t know anyone there other than a former classmate from elementary and high school:
                Does anyone have thoughts on the matter? Your feedback is appreciated.

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Thursday, August 18, 2011

Complacency, Laziness, or Apathy?

I dare say all of the above. I’m terribly disappointed and angry at one of my coworkers whom I feel is not pulling her weight even to the point of shirking minor duties. Even for her, I found it hard to believe what she did last Sunday night. Up till now, I haven’t said a bad thing about this woman, but it appears that as time goes on she has become too complacent with what needs to be done in our job. I dare say that complacent is too mild a word for it. Complacency is something I don’t give in to and that just differentiates my work ethic from others. It’s not as if our jobs are physically strenuous, although it could be mentally tiring, but there are some tasks that just require a little common sense. Let me tell you about last Sunday night that raised my ire unnecessarily.
 I was assisting a couple of patients by putting their clothes in the washer and dryer. While I was in the laundry room, I heard a knock on the door. It was a patient asking me if I could take them outside to the patio for a fresh air break. I told the patient to ask the staff sitting out in the hallway who were doing nothing other than talking with each other. The patient said the mental health worker in the hallway sent him to me. This person had to gall to tell a patient to follow me to the laundry room and ask me to take the patients for a fresh air break in the patio when I was already busy with something else, while she was just sitting there talking?! It’s not as if she didn’t see me carrying two bags of clothes to the laundry room because I walked past her on my way there. She could have easily monitored the fresh air break while the other person monitored the hallway. Instead she told the patient to ask me?!!! I don’t know if she expects me to be in two places at one time. I asked her why she couldn’t escort the patients to the patio and she said because she was watching the hallway. I brought it to her attention that there was an LVN sitting with her who could have done that. She replied that the LVN was passing out medications. Well, that response was not justified because the LVN finished passing meds half an hour earlier. By the way, she doesn’t just reply, she retorts, even though they’re not logical. More like response to cover guilt.
Wow! I still can’t believe up to now that it happened. How can one be so lazy? All because she didn’t want her conversation interrupted for a 15 minute break to assist the patients? That doesn’t even require physical or mental work! It’s difficult to comprehend that kind of thinking and that’s why I was so angry about it. This is not good for me because it spikes my blood pressure and it takes awhile for me to get it back down.
Being the one who does most of the heavy lifting on our work shift and don’t complain about it, I think I’m justified about my complaints about the other person here. Please forgive me for my rant but I’ve been bottling it in and I just needed an outlet.
Here is a draft I wrote a few weeks ago regarding another incident. I was going to title it – Blissful Incompetence:  I don’t know what to think about some of my coworkers anymore who have been working in our hospital for several years. Is it laziness or apathy? Despite being here for years, some of them don’t seem to know or haven’t learned how to do things properly. Even when you delegate the simplest jobs to them, they seem to bungle it. They also take more time than necessary to finish, and not even finish it correctly at that. The diligent ones really shouldn’t have to check up on the others to make sure they did the job right the first time. I guess some people just want to get paid without earning it.
Do you have any coworkers with similar work habits? How do you handle the situation?

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Sunday, August 14, 2011

Post-Crooked Running Workouts

After doing all that crooked running two Saturdays ago, my ankles couldn’t quite recover even though I kept myself from running again since then. The pain in the past week was just too much despite all the icing, compressing, and elevating. That means I didn't even bother preparing my running gear on Friday night and missed the AREC training run this past Saturday morning. I even avoided walking so as not to put pressure on the sore tendons, so the workouts for the past week have been limited to the stationary bikes with a few bouts on the elliptical machine and rowing machine. I even had to go overtime on the bikes one morning because I lost control of my eating the previous day. There was a sale on cookies with lemon flavored cream filling and they were so yummy that when I started eating them, I found it hard to stop. I’m now trying to keep it down to three cookies as dessert after a meal. Just one bout of mindless eating and you pay for it dearly.
I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it before now, that I’ve started using the rowing machine again. I find it hard to do a rowing workout for extended periods of time so I do a sort of circuit training among all the machines in my living room. I usually start off with rowing for 5 minutes, followed by 5 minutes each on the elliptical machine, spinning bike, and recumbent bike. That makes one set. I do three sets and I’ve done an hour long workout while avoiding the boredom of doing it on only one machine. Heck I only usually do 40 to 50 minutes on the recumbent or spinning bikes if I use those by themselves. Five minutes increments on each machine at medium intensity makes it more manageable and easier on the mind, rather than thinking of it as a whole hour of working out. I turn the TV on for the rowing portion, then turn it off and read the newspaper on the other machines. It’s not as satisfying as finishing an hour run, but it’s enough to keep the endorphin cravings at bay.
This is life with a bad case of PTTD. Run a few weeks as the tendons allow, stop a few weeks when they protest. By the way, I bought a roll of Kinesiotape from Walmart a few days ago but I haven’t applied it yet. It was a surprise to find it at that store because previously you can only buy them online or locally from podiatrists and chiropractors. Although I think my PTTD is beyond help from Kinesiotaping, I’m willing to give it a try. I’ll let you know how it works out.

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Friday, August 12, 2011

Retitling This Blog and Other Changes

Well, I’ve retitled this blog to on 7/26/11. Why? Because when I started doing this, I didn’t know any better so I just used my first name and last initials. I wanted to use but that was already taken by someone who hasn’t updated it since 2008.  I also updated the About Me section to briefly reflect what has been happening in the recent past. Although it appears like the people who follow this blog is still on the main page, I think they are being sent to the old webpage name. If you are one of them and I’m mistaken, please let me know. If not, I hope you find me again. I noticed that I also have to restore my blog list or the list of bloggers I follow because they disappeared from my main page. Sorry for the changes.
Another thing I updated is the background because I finally found one on that had a running theme. I also removed the infolinks ads. If I found them irritating when they pop-up in other websites I visit, I’m pretty sure you feel the same way. In spite of that, I earned about $10.00 from those links, but which I will not be able to collect because their minimum payout is $25.00. Oh well, that’s life. This is more of a journal for me than something to earn money from. Also gone are the ads because when California started mandating sales tax to be collected for internet purchases, Amazon discontinued payouts to residents here. Anyway, I don’t think I have any earnings from the Amazon ads. I’m trying a new contextual ad site called Affinityclick. The type of ads that will appear will depend on what I write about. So far none of their ads have appeared on this page yet.
If at all you find anything interesting, please feel free to share it on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, or whatever else social networking site you are a member of. Thanks in advance.
In the past three years of blogging, most of the hits I get are from topics regarding Virgin Mobile and Starbucks. I haven’t quite figured out yet the right labels or tags to use that can get the most hits. Unfortunately, it appears that with the name change, I’ve lost traffic from readers. It has become lost in the blogosphere and may take awhile before I get the number of hits I used to get, which is by the way, not much, LOL! Although I lament this loss of readership, I believe in the long run, the new title better reflects what I write about. If you are new here, I hope you have the chance to check out the archives and perhaps find something that suits your fancy. It has more than 400 posts.
Well, that’s all there is to it. I’ll keep writing about running as long as my body and all its ailments will allow me to run. The rest will be about daily experiences that I feel are out of the ordinary for me. If you’ve made it by reading this far, thanks again and have a wonderful day!

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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Facebook Discussions About High School

Former classmates from our little town of Jolo (in the province of Sulu in the Philippines), and I have been having a discussion on Facebook about happenings in our lives during those days. Even though I say classmates, it wasn’t true in the real sense of the word because we were divided by great distance into the Notre Dame Girl’s Department run by the Dominican Sisters, and Notre Dame Boy’s Department, managed by the Marist Brothers. The discussions centered on secrets people had in high school regarding crushes, admirers, real or imagined relationships, and such. It’s so funny at our age to be pondering these things (we are all in our mid 50’s). Could that mean that we are still young at heart despite our chronological ages? So far, few if any have spilled the beans. Some of these supposed secrets were already known back then but they were never overt. Apparently, a few people knew more about them than others. Those who were in the loop are beginning to drop hints about what purportedly happened. Most, including me were either innocent, utterly clueless, or just lived  sheltered lives under the constant supervision of conservative and very strict parents.
So that got me digging into the deep recesses of my mind to try to remember what I did in high school and why I wasn’t socially active (and still not to this day). Well, I was more involved in sports back then. As a freshman, I played basketball, then learned tennis in my sophomore year, broke my left ankle in a motorcycle accident as a junior, then it was back to tennis as a senior. A lot of my free time was spent at the Bureau of Public Highways tennis court initially, then Jolo Tennis Club, and at the Notre Dame gymnasium tennis courts. In between, there was hunting birds with my cousin (he shot the birds with his BB gun and his maid dressed and cooked them. We even ate a bat and a kingfisher once). There was also table tennis at the house of one of our teachers (Mr. Villanueva) on some weekends. All those physical activities left me no time to be socially involved with male peers or girls. That, and the aforementioned constant supervision of conservative and very strict parents. But then again, that may be just be my reserved personality. My younger brother turned out socially much better under the same parentage after all. By the way, nowadays I socialize better while running. There is something about opening up my sweat glands that make me open up my vocal cords too.

Addendum 8/10/11 @ 400 P.M.: I was not with the boy’s department students taking the jeepneys  from Plaza Rizal to Gandasuli because I usually hitched a ride with the Nangquils  whose father was the district engineer, from their house in BPH. This made miss admiring the PYT’s from the girl’s department while the jeeps circled the plaza.
So my dear classmates who by chance happen to read this -  sorry for not having any juicy secrets to divulge to you, however I’m intrigued to hear about yours. I can only offer you this Beatles song:
Do you want to know a secret?,
Do you promise not to tell?, whoa oh, oh.

Let me whisper in your ear,
Say the words you long to hear,
I'm in love with you.

p.s. Diana A. in early high school and Ohara N. much later, and one other who happens to be on Facebook who shall remain nameless… I started to type in their last names but I decided otherwise to protect the good names of the innocent. Thanks for letting me share.

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Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Crooked Runner

If you told me four weeks ago that I would be running 9 miles this past Saturday, I would probably tell that you must be more delusional than I am. But that’s exactly what happened during AREC’s training day so I could debunk such delusion. I didn’t have anybody to pace with so I had to run mostly by myself except around 5 miles when I tried to keep up with this lady who’s name I learned later was Elsie. The problem with trying to keep up with her was that she would throw in some surges ever so often and I’m more of a rhythm runner. Besides, surges don’t sit too well with my injured ankles. So I had to let her go and I trailed about 50 meters behind her after 7 miles. I had to take a couple of 40 second walk breaks in the last mile but in spite of that I was surprised that my pace became quicker so much so that I was able to catch up and pass Elsie and also Rick who was about 75 meters ahead at the 7 mile mark. Those two walk breaks really helped make my ankles recover somewhat. Now I’m wondering if I should just do that for the whole distance instead of taking the breaks when my ankles start hurting. I was very elated to finish strong and for being able to cover the distance when I’m not supposed to be covering any distance at all. But oh, the soreness the morning after! Because I’m not able to run as often as required to avoid the said muscular soreness. There is a minimum of three runs a week to avoid the soreness but once a week of supreme effort is all I could muster. And that’s not even mentioning the tendon pain. Like I said before, I don’t mind muscle soreness but it takes longer for tendon pain to recover. I question myself sometimes if one day of running is worth the rest of the week in pain. With the type of injury I have, everything can change tomorrow and I’d be back to walking, if that. But last Saturday morning, I truly appreciated what my body allowed me to do.
p.s. As you can see in these photos, I’m mostly leaning to one side when I run nowadays due to muscular and joint imbalances, thus I am a crooked runner.

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Thursday, August 4, 2011

Snickers Marathon Bars – A Reconnection

A quick post : Last week I wrote about someone giving away energy bars ( This is Kathleen , a very speedy runner who is sponsored by Snickers Marathon Bars. We both know another speedster named Marigold who now lives in Corpus Christi, Texas and is pregnant with her first child. I ran with Marigold about 7 years ago when she trained for her first marathon. I met Kathleen about 4 years ago at the Long Beach Marathon which she ran with Marigold and we reconnected at the AREC training run last week. Too bad I couldn’t keep up with their pace anymore. Thanks for the Marathon Bars Kathleen. They made for a good dessert that day!

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Running Aimlessly

Having not recovered from last Saturday’s 8 ½ mile run, but itching for a different type of workout other than what I’ve been doing indoors in the past three days, it was a gamble deciding to put on my running clothes and venturing to the sunny outdoors of my neighborhood. I really wanted to run on Tuesday but had to put it off for Wednesday because my ankle tendons were still tender. I figured I’d just stop and go back home if I started to hurt too much so I wanted to keep it in the vicinity. I wasn’t even sure which direction I was going when I got out the door but started heading North, then West, then it became aimless after that point. All that mattered was running slowly for four minutes and taking a one minute ankle-recovering walk break afterwards. Maybe I’ll turn down this street, wait, maybe a couple more streets down past this construction zone. Make a left, a U-turn, a right on a street where a friend used to live, then ten minutes South on the L.A. River bike path. At this point thirty minutes into the run, my GPS watch indicated that the lap memory was full so I had to stop and walk until I figured out how to reset it to zero. Resuming the run, I headed back North, down another street, into the neighborhood park, added a few minutes by running up and down a couple of short hills, then headed back home to finish fifty minutes of meandering and aimless running. Finally! A relief from indoor cycling, rowing, and from the elliptical machine. Let’s hope the ankles will have healed enough to run on Saturday. Weight training having been done yesterday, now to start my abs workout…

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