Saturday, January 27, 2007

Technology Convergence... on the new iPhone (Part 2)

Found this CBS News feature on the real iPhone (haha, not the spoof video I featured in Part 1) which offers us a closer look on a working iPhone:

I am so drooling for this - sweet touch screen, fast and smooth response times, eye-candy and intuitive menus (album cover flipovers!), and intelligent sensors (I could imagine people tilting their iPhones all the time just for the heck of the auto-positioning function)! This is almost my dream machine but it just barely equalled the ElectroPhone (Electrotherapy Phone) I designed a few years back (had to dig up my old sketchbooks for this) - complete with 2 channels for treatment or diagnosis, graphic menu for parameter settings and network capabilities for health records connection... and of course, it's a (hard to use, haha) cellphone:

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Technology Convergence... on the new iPhone (Part 1)

I remember 10 years ago, just fresh out of college and aready starting out as an instructor in the university, the first piece of mobile technology I owned was an Easycall pager. For those of you young ones who have never seen or heard of pagers (or beepers, as others called these), these are electronic devices used to contact people through a paging network. The pager beeps or vibrates when a message is received and the user simply has to look at its monochrome one-liner lcd screen to read the message, which was usualy brief due to character number limits. It predates mobile phone technology, but it established the now indispensible short message service (SMS). I will never forget how difficult it is to send messages to friends, because you have to contact Easycall first, talk to an operator and then dictate your message. Talk about privacy!

I then owned a bulky Motorola Modulus (A), my first cellphone, to boost my pager connectivity. It was bulky compared to today's size standards, but during that time was revolutionary. I recall seeing Mam Ci's cellphone then, which she used in the early years of CBR, which was so huge it had to be carried with a bag! Think landline phone attached to a car battery inside a messenger bag. My Modulus was soon replaced by the boxy Ericsson GA628 (B) which was then popular, because of its basic SMS capability (one liner!), smaller size and customizability (well, you could only change the casing, the face plate and the tiny ring around the antenna. I had the yellow on black!). Then, I was sent to Japan, where I was able to observe the trendy sleek candy look of the phones then. I was able to purchase the sleek metallic maroon Panasonic GD92 (C). I loved this phone so much I owned it for quite a long time. You know, I tend to be "faithful" to my gadgets, almost to the point that I refuse to accept that other phones are better than mine. This soon changed when I went to Sweden, where I owned a Sony CMD J5 (D). Now this was a cool phone. It was the first phone I phoned which had the ability to record voices and use it as ringtone, polyphonic tones, and animated menus. It also had the jog dial and a headset. Most of all, it was a Sony (I have a Sony fetish... really, I would agree to have the Sony logo tattood on my ass!). A few months after I went home, Ericsson announced it would merge with Sony. My dreams of owning future technological descendants of the CMD J5 was shattered, especially when Sony Ericsson unveiled their first models, and they looked soooo... boxy Ericsson. Goodbye jogdial... (I may be biased when I say this, but the jogdial is a very ergonomic way of controlling devices. Not only is it intuitive, but requires little dexterity and effort). My CMD J5 was soon replaced by the Sony Ericsson T100 (E), then the T230 (F), my first colored phone. Of course, there were other models which had PDA and organizer capabilities, but I had no reason to buy them since I owned a Palm. Soon I had Sony Ericsson K700i (G), my first camera phone. However, the camera wasn't that impressive, so I still had to use my Cybershot to capture quality pictures. Soon, the K750i was released, and I was drooling, because it had expandable memory and better camera functions. Now, I own a K800i (H)... sooooo nice! But enough of this trip to mobile memory lane (I'm sure you also tried to recall all the phones you owned...).

My story spanned 10 years, and it is quite obvious how fast mobile technology has developed and is still developing. During the time I purchased my K800i, there have already been rumors that Apple (I drool for a Mac!) will be releasing their first mobile phone. As an avid fan of Apple's technological designs, I almost held back from buying the K800i, and rather wait for the Apple phone's release. But, I badly needed a new phone, since my K700i was already dying and I have become notorious for not replying to messages, mostly because I failed to receive them. I was greatly attracted to K800's camera function... it had a 3.2 Megapixel camera, the same resolution as my Cybershot so somehow this would make my camera obsolete. Also, it had very good music playback capabilities, thus making my mp3 player a redundant gadget.

Apple already formally announced that they will be releasing the new iPhone around June-July, but it won't be available in the Philippines until October. They claim that it will revolutionize the way we see cellphones, and other phone makers will be hardpressed to follow in Apple's tracks. It is a combination of the iPOD, a PDA, and a phone, and it will be utilizing the MacOS thereby making it capable of running versatile apps and widgets. It seems that the trend in technology nowadays is convergence... where functions of various tools are 'converged' into one gadget (camera-music phones, tv-computing, computerized wired houses). Impressive? Not necessarily, because the functions of such gadgets may be so overwhelming, the users find them more difficult to use. Anyone noticed how user manuals tend to grow bigger as the devices that they aim to explain grow smaller? Designers are challenged to create products which are still easy to use... Apple claims that this is more than a reality in their new iPhone. I'm a little wary of first releases, so I might hold back on the succeeding versions where the bugs of initial releases are already sorted out. You might not know, Apple might release an iPhone mini (in the tradition of the iPOD releases). Check its features at Apple iPhone's website and don't fail to view this advertisment aired during Conan O'Brien's Late Night Show:

Hmmmm... I change my mind, I will be running at the stores as soon as it gets released if only for its treadmill feature...

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Logo Design: Fairfax Park Apartments

Designing logos can be one of the most exhilarating and rewarding activities that a graphic artist can get into. It involves the challenging task of balancing function (in the sense that the logo should be able to successfully represent the company, what it stands for or what it aims to convey to its customers) and aesthetics (should be pleasing to the viewer’s eyes, easily recognizable and attractive). Various artists utilize various techniques and approaches in developing logos, but there really is no best or sure path to creating the perfect logo. It all depends on the preference and style of the artist and the needs of the company seeking a visual identity.

Generally, my creative process involves identifying the basic requirements of the client (sometimes clients require certain visual or textual elements to be present in their logos, but others give complete freedom. I appreciate that clients provide certain guidelines, descriptors and preferences because these help shape my objective in the design of their logo), researching information (such as common trends in the design of the logo’s niche, history of the client and their business, etymology of names, etc.), sketching/brainstorming/conceptualization (pencil or pen concepts on graphing paper, at least 3 interpretations) and final execution (vector drawing in CorelDrawX3).

I had a great time developing the final logo for Fairfax Park, an apartment complex located in Hamburg, New York. The design they say will appear on all company branding and advertising (such as storefront, business cards, website, letterhead, etc...). The client provided certain guidelines: logo must contain the words "Fairfax Park," can contain any number of colors and can contain gradients and that it must be cozy, with an emphasis that the complex is in a park like setting (perhaps an image of a tree and grass may be used). I understood that the client wanted to convey an image which is close to nature, a good marketing strategy attractive to people looking for residence in an urban environment.

Initial concepts included the integration of leaves, hills and trees, keeping in mind the client’s suggestions and preferences. I veered away from the idea of representing the apartment itself in the graphic, as the boxy shape of a building seem to contradict the message that the logo aims to convey. I wanted the logo to reflect the name of the apartment complex also, and I decided to integrate the initial “F” within the graphic, thus making the symbol stronger as it can stand alone even without the name text. It should be impressive and ingenious, but most importantly, should be simple, easily recognizable among existing logos of their competitors

I am not fond of the use of gradients in logos. I prefer solid colors, as this easily translates into any presentation format, be it print or web image. But sometimes, in this case, gradients actually facilitate the image and present each component of the graphic effectively. Finally, the text should be flowing, ideally something cursive, unlike the tact and seriousness of serif fonts. In terms of visual ergonomics, the logo, to my opinion fits the expectation of the client, effectively balances the aesthetic requirements of the general viewer and its purpose. Here’s the final concept chosen by the client, presented in horizontal and vertical arrangement.

My other logos can be seen at my deviantART site.

Tuesday, January 9, 2007


In one of my favorite essays by C.S. Lewis, entitled "Transposition” , Lewis explains how we as human beings can become so fixated, or in my terms, desensitized with our present physical and emotional experience that we forget or at times even deny the existence and potential of a richer spiritual experience. This idea is a recurrent theme evident in most of Lewis' fictional works such as the “Chronicles of Narnia”, “The Great Divorce” and many more. He defines “transposition” as the permutation of a higher-level experience or concept to a lower-level or vice-versa. For example, you would use more words in a language with limited vocabulary to translate the same word from a language with richer vocabulary. A person who has heard a symphony with full orchestration and wants to share this experience to a friend who hasn’t heard it before will usually hum or whistle the tune to his friend especially if this is the only available way to do so. The problem with this is that the friend will never ever fully realize the richness and vivacity of the original orchestral piece through a monotonic rendition (that is the whistle or the humming) especially if he hasn’t heard it before, or worse, had a poor sense of musicality. In fact, it is possible, that the friend may even attempt to compare this to a tune that is more familiar to him, but may not necessarily be so, thus exposing the potential futility of such an attempt. On the other hand, the friend who has heard the symphony before will be able to recall and even relive the full experience of the orchestral piece in his own mind. Lewis further illustrates “transposition” through various examples, such as the attempt of a mother to describe to her child, who was born into a dungeon with no windows, the outside world through words and pencil drawings. The higher concept here is the “outside world” which the mother wants her son, who had no prior experience of the “outside world” at all (therefore has no idea what it looks or feels like) to experience. Through “words” and “pencil drawings”, tools or implements that in their situation, are the only available means, the mother attempts to do so. As you can see, these tools are means that the mother and child can commonly understand and share at their present situation. The mother tries to describe the bright sun, the lush trees and the colorful landscape of the “outside world” through grayscale lines and shades on a piece of paper. The child accepts this and recognizes this as an accurate depiction of the “outside world” and in fact grows more excited as the day that that they will eventually be free draws near.

With this, Lewis establishes the relationship of the spiritual and the physical world, where the spiritual, the higher mode of experience is manifested through the physical, the domain that we are most familiar with in our present state of life. Whenever people claim to have experienced a spiritual event, they almost always describe it through words usually associated to sensation (visual, auditory, tactile and sometimes, olfactory) or raw emotions, because these are the only ways they can be able to interpret these higher experiences to the general public (as the symphony person and the mother in the earlier examples). In fact, if asked how one would describe “heaven”, we would be able to create a list ranging from a cloudy paradise with cute cherubs to various states of positive emotions such as happiness and satisfaction. Most likely, these images have been shaped by our previous experiences and education, presented through depictions in books and stories by other people. Higher experiences seem to have very similar manifestations to certain psychological states and even psychiatric conditions (for example, being in the state of “glossolalia” - “slain in the spirit” in the charismatic movement lingo, or “speaking in tongues” shares similar symptoms with hysteria). This exposes the problem and difficulty in proving their authenticity and most importantly, their existence. A skeptic would always deny the presence of a higher state of being or the possibility of higher experiences. He would always explain things according to the meter stick familiar and available to him.

Recalling the mother-child dungeon story, questions can be raised whether the child will truly be able to appreciate the full glory of the outside world. Won't the child look for the same gray lines and scribbles that his mother drew on pieces of paper in the outside world? ("Mom, I can not see the lines that you drew, are you sure that is the sun or trees that you have been drawing and talking about?") How sure are we, that heaven will be the same heaven that we have imagined it to be when our time comes? Are we truly ready to appreciate God's glory, or are we too fragile and presently incapable to experience this or even recognize this experience? Does heaven and God exist at all, and can we prove this?!

In another imaginative imagery that Lewis utilizes, he compares this situation to the interior of a dark shed, with light beaming through a small hole . Placing ourselves inside this shed and assuming we are unaware of the existence of the outside world, the beam of light will be noticeable and may provide valuable clues. The skeptic seeing this beam of light would only be able to see this "merely" as a beam of light. A believer on the other and, will not only see it as a beam of light, but will attempt to peer within it, thus catching a glimpse of the branches of trees, the sky and the trees of the outside world through the little hole. Upon seeing this he will seek to be free to experience the outside world. The skeptic would always remain inside the dark shed.

The concept of “transposition” provides the defense, or a convincing explanation. Extending the idea, it insightfully provides more value to our present base experiences within nature in this lifetime as it is possible that through these, we get a glimpse of heaven, of beyond, and of God. But how sure are we that we can be free to be part of heaven, of beyond and to experience God? "Transpositon" provides a gateway towards the understanding and assumption of this experience - in the same manner that the incarnation of God as man (in the form of Jesus) provides HOPE of what mankind can achieve and is destined to be.

Sunday, January 7, 2007


Today is officially my first day of work for the year as I have finally recovered enough strength and function from my bout with bronchitis. I know it’s Sunday, but that is what being part of the Community-Based Rehabilitation Program of the University of the Philippines Manila College of Allied Medical Professions (CAMP) entails: being able to respond to the schedule and activity of the community. As most of you (CAMPers, that is) will understand, the CBR Program has been in Montalban for quite a long time already (16 years to be exact), and plans for sustainability and transition was only realized in the last 7 years. I am the lucky person designated to ensure the sustainability of the CBR Program in Montalban, Rizal (Sustainability has been defined as financial support, municipal legal mandate and setting-up of physical and organizational support structures, all of which have been more or less achieved), ensure a smooth transition to the next site, and prepare the community of the next site for the CBR Program. San Mateo, Rizal (the town before Montalban, if you take the long road) was chosen as the next site for objective (it fulfills the reqirements for an ideal community for CBR) and logistic reasons (geographic location to original site and UP Manila). I have to juggle my time with the available schedule of municipal officials and personalities, with my supervision, with my lectures at CAMP). There are times when I have to have a class in Manila, and run to Montalban/San Mateo, for a "talakayan" seminar with the locals or a meeting with a barangay captain. So you can see how difficult it is to be head of the CBR Program, and it is one of my chief sources of depression and anguish that some colleagues not only appreciate the efforts that the CBR staff puts into this noble cause, but even come to the point of poisoning the minds of students and fellow faculty members about how seemingly pointless the program is to them, based on hearsay, or their very limited experience within the program or with the staff (which does not necessarily have to be all good, but to my opinion, a bad experience or hearsay can never be used to come up with a conclusive opinion about the whole program). With this, I salute the staff, past and present, for having the heart and resolve to serve and teach amidst the atmosphere of resistance to what we do and the challenges that community work entails.

Today, we met with the new parish priest the Nuestra Señora de Aranzazu Shrine in San Mateo, Rizal, Monsignor Generoso “Henry” Mediarito, for the reason that we are seeking the support of the parish in providing the backbone of the organization of persons with disabilities (PWD’s), as the local government unit (LGU) of the municipality is ready to commit in providing the infrastructure and support people (which includes the barangay health workers, the future CBR workers and others), that is, providing the service aspect (rehabilitation and community education) of CBR. The municipality, in my prior meeting with their new mayor, Ariel Diaz and the municipal health officer, Dr. Sochaco, has already agreed to the establishment of the CBR Program. The site of the CBR headquarters has already been identified and the barangay health workers are ready to be mobilized for survey and other preparation purposes. It is perhaps providence that Mnsgr. Mediarito is a very close friend of my parents, and has had prior experience with PWD’s in Tahanang Walang Hagdanan (which he aimed to integrate within parish activities when he was parish priest of Cainta, Rizal) that our meeting went along very smoothly. He was more than willing to institute the proposal within his parish, that he had already set this as an agenda in the next pastoral council meeting. So far, the social preparation for the next site is going smoothly.

One of the things that struck me in our meeting with Mnsgr. Mediarito was his resolve in changing the religious attitudes of the parishioners in San Mateo. He noticed that the parishioners seem more focused on the external manifestations of their religious practice, these are the ceremonies, the costumes and the regalities of the festivities and prayer activities, rather than the internal spiritual manifestation of faith. He confessed to us how sometimes he, as a parish priest has oftentimes been misunderstood and misinterpreted by his parishioners. He had to remove all the “bongga” activities whenever he discovered that these served more as obstacles to spiritual growth rather than supported it. It should be understood however that some of these “traditional” activities have been part of the Filipino culture that the parishioners have grown to be familiar with. (Thanks to our Spaniard colonizers, who have ingeniously transformed the ancient Filipino animistic beliefs to Christian devotions to ease the natives into the faith. Local historians even claim that some antique Sto. Niño statues were carved from “anitos”). There’s nothing inherently wrong with these activities, images or representations of the Christian faith, especially if these help enrich one’s spiritual experience and helps deepen one’s faith. However, it is an entirely different matter when these become the primary foci in one’s practice of faith (which has become one of the major critiques of the Catholic faith). Monsignor Mediarito further discusses that the activities that we organize, the things we do should always reflect a worthy goal, benefiting individuals and the community in the long run. According to an example he provided, we do not hold religious processions along public streets wearing white garbs to be seen by onlookers in the hope that they will be held in awe by its beauty and extravagance. We participate in these processions to be reminded of the virtues and values that these originally represented. Some individuals, we will realize (and this does not only happen in San Mateo, Rizal), during the feast days of their towns, will be so involved and invested in the preparation of the festivities that they forget the real meaning why these feast days are celebrated at all.

I realized that this extends beyond the religious domain, and pervades even other areas of our lives, workwise even. How often do we organize or participate in events for the sake of fulfilling an obligation or expectation, of trying to outdo other people and be recognized and be worthy of fame and praises, or of proving a point to embarrass other people? Sometimes we cover this, rationalizing that these actually fulfill a noble goal. It seems that we already live in a Machiavellian world, too focused and demanding in quantifying the results and looking good, that we have grown blind to the real purpose and mission of our work, our organizations and our lives.

This is indeed a great challenge especially for those involved in community organizing, an indispensable aspect of our work in CBR. As supervisors, we guide our students, interns and CBR workers in designing and organizing activities through a participatory process (which involves needs assessment and planning involving the stakeholders). But oftentimes, we notice them doing these things out of an “obligation” since this is expected of them, or for the “reward” of getting a good grade or approval, or even for the “competition,” that they will outperform the other groups. Sometimes, we have organized programs and activities for the main reason that the community will enjoy this and have fun, that we will look good and more likeable. There have been some activities and programs that have been implemented which when closely examined have been designed for things other than the objectives and beyond the mission of the program. Soetimes, these have even been cleverly “giftwrapped”, appearing to be fulfilling the objectives. But impressively, there were others which were honest to their purpose, implemented by proponents who were truly sincere in their work. It is indeed important that we be more conscientious when we plan activities or design programs.

With the lessons gained from the success and failures in Montalban, we'll be able to successfully establish and implement CBR in San Mateo, and in the future, adaptation in Rizal province and others. With this, we hope that the transition to San Mateo will be untroublesome and painless.

By the way, "Aranzazu" means “abundance of thorns” in Basque/Spanish...

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

If you're gonna be sick, be sick with this!

"If you're gonna be sick, be sick with this!" That's what fitness instructor Dan Cohen said after the conditioning track of Body Combat 30. How I wish I'd be sick after a good workout rather than be stricken down by this fever/upper respiratory tract infection I've had since new year's eve. Once a member of family has the virus, the rest of the family is sure to get it. Gelyn and I are the current casualties, with Archie and my parents already past it. This was further compounded by the fallout of smog resulting from the firecrackers of new year's celebrations. Now as I lie here on my bed, drowsy and weak from an overdosage of paracetamol and lagundi, how I wish I was up and fighting as the fellows above. I've been out of the gym for almost a week now, and I can feel my body being pulled back. Got to heal soon and fast!

I like going to the gym not only for the fitness benefits it could bring, but because it can be an ideal venue for stress release. Especially if we talk about my favorite group exercise class, Body Combat, which is "the empowering cardio workout where you are totally unleashed! This fiercely energetic program is inspired by martial arts and draws from a wide array of disciplines such as karate, boxing, taekwondo, tai chi and muay thai. Supported by driving music and powerful role model instructors, strike, punch, kick and kata your way through calories to superior cardio fitness. (from Les Mills)" I've never had any martial arts training before and people knew how clumsy my body was, so I would have second thoughts of ever joining a group class (I couldn't forget the first time I joined a Body Jam class. I discovered how inflexible and awkward my body was! Not to mention being harassed by the instructor). But pretty soon, classes after classes, I got addicted to Body Combat. It didn't stop there, I joined the Body Combat Marathon (which is 2-3 hours non-stop version of the original class, testing your endurance, form and strength), where I was able to be one of the finalists in the Body Combat Challenge Finals held at the PICC Forum last year. It was such a big event, each participant has to arrive in their best combat costume, and I did. Here is what Mich and I came up with (we doodled as we attended the EXECOM Meetings):

Mich made a funny caricature of the selected costume:

Even designed a personalized henna tattoo, which caused an allergic reaction (I almost thought my right arm will be marked with keloid for life!) and had lightning designs etched on my hair. Here I am with the costume in action:

Before, I always asked why people would engage themselves in such situations, join such events which really can't be classified into any official sport. Besides what's at stake (a trip to Australia/New Zealand, with free Les Mills Training, free 1 year gym membership, and many more), it's the assurance that you're fit and healthy and you're having fun while you're at it. If you think my costume's too much, you should have seen what the others wore (or did not wear for that matter... as you can see above). I didn't win but I had tremendous fun.

Before I joined in Body Combat classes, I participated in RPM and Cycling (formerly Cosmic Cycling) classes at the spinning studios in the gym. RPM is "the indoor cycling workout where you ride to the rhythm of powerful music. Take on the terrain with your inspiring team coach who leads the pack through hills, flats, mountain peaks, time trials, and interval training. Discover your athlete within – sweat and burn to reach your endorphin high. " (from Les Mills). Cosmic Cycling classes are basically the same, but gives more emphasis to upper body workout, by combining trunk and body choreography while spinning. These classes has got to be the sweatiest classes there is. Not everybody gets the sense of cycling for an hour on stationary bikes, but you have got to give credit to the instructors for providing excellent music and choreography to make it an exciting experience. These classes also have their regular showcase events such as the Cycling Marathon which is a 3 hour non-stop RPM/Cycling, in which I fared better (recently, I made it to 1st place Male Category in Fitness First Manila, and 2nd place Male Category in Fitness First MetroEast).

Scanned these from a feature page in Action & Fitness magazine (July-August 2006 issue). Here you see Aimee, my gym buddy, who always bags the 1st place in every marathon event, that is, unless beaten ahead by cramps. It's more fun to participate in events held at Fitness First MetroEast, because not only are you surrounded by wacky fellow gym addicts, friends and instructors, they also offer the best giveaways and prizes!

Besides these group exercises (there's Body Pump and Body Balance too), there are the usual fitness machines and free weights. I don't pump iron in the free weights area, and I've grown bored of the treadmill machines. Recently, I've been focusing on the least popular gym equipment: the indoor rowers (or "ergs" as they are more commonly known in other countries). I really don't understand why these machines are so unpopular. In fact, some gym managers have positioned these rowers inappropriately. If you use these machines this way, be very careful as you might hit your head against the wall, especially if you're a forceful rower. And believe me, these rowers will move! When I used one of the rowers in Fitness First Eastwood, the rower actually moved without me noticing. Before I noticed, I was already halfway down the width of the hall!

From Men's Health Magazine: Where you sit when you work out could determine how fast you lose your gut. Irish researchers recently reported that men burn more fat while rowing than while biking. In the study, scientists measured the amount of fat used for fuel while men exerised on wither a row-ing machine or a stationary bike. The result: Participants burned 40-50% more fat when rowing than when cycling, even though the duration of the exercise was the same. The likely explanation is that because rowing machines incorporate both your upper and lower body, they work more muscle, says lead investigator David Ashley.

The manufacturer of the indoor rowers, Concept2, has a website where you can log your progress in their machines. In fact, during the holiday season, they organized an incentive challenge for online members to complete 200K meters in 30 days. I made 206K meters and they'll be sending gift packages (shirt, pin and certificate) soon. I'll be joining up their video making competition for a chance to win one of the new rowers (valued at P150K! each). I have yet to accomplish 1 million meters before I can join their Million Meter Club.

Hope I get well soon... I could already feel the calories pile up in my belly due to this temporary gym hiatus. Can't wait to try the capoiera moves and evasive side kicks in the new release of Body Combat on my new set of kickers: authentic brand new Nike Free 7.0 Trainers (P4900 value at Nike outlets) bought from eBay for only P2900 (including shipping!). Got them on the rare varsity red-black color combination too.

“People are so worried about what they eat between Christmas and the New Year, but they really should be worried about what they eat between the New Year and Christmas” Going regularly to a gym warrants you with occassional guiltless pig-outs.

Possible next physical feats in my agenda includes joining up with my brother Archie in his mountaineering activities, a major marathon event, and perhaps a minor triathlon event.

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Turnpike Exit

The past year has been one hell of a rollercoaster ride. I've never felt so frustrated about problems in one year as compared to all the problems I've encountered during my earlier life combined. Not only did it affect my work, but almost permanently damaged my passion in doing things I've always wanted doing. I never received support from those I expected to get it from, and instead received indifference and even prejudice. I felt like Monty Brogan in the movie "25th hour," where his reflection suddenly blurted this out when he said "Fuck, you too!" in defiance to what was written on the mirror:

Fuck me? Fuck you! Fuck you and this whole city and everyone in it.

Fuck the panhandlers, grubbing for money, and smiling at me behind my back.

Fuck squeegee men dirtying up the clean windshield of my car. Get a fucking job!

Fuck the Sikhs and the Pakistanis bombing down the avenues in decrepit cabs, curry steaming out their pores and stinking up my day. Terrorists in fucking training. Slow the fuck down!

Fuck the Chelsea boys with their waxed chests and pumped up biceps. Going down on each other in my parks and on my piers, jingling their dicks on my Channel 35.

Fuck the Korean grocers with their pyramids of overpriced fruit and their tulips and roses wrapped in plastic. Ten years in the country, still no speaky English?

Fuck the Russians in Brighton Beach. Mobster thugs sitting in cafés, sipping tea in little glasses, sugar cubes between their teeth. Wheelin' and dealin' and schemin'. Go back where you fucking came from!

Fuck the black-hatted Chassidim, strolling up and down 47th street in their dirty gabardine with their dandruff. Selling South African apartheid diamonds!

Fuck the Wall Street brokers. Self-styled masters of the universe. Michael Douglas, Gordon Gecko wannabe mother fuckers, figuring out new ways to rob hard working people blind. Send those Enron assholes to jail for fucking life! You think Bush and Cheney didn't know about that shit? Give me a fucking break! Tyco! Imclone! Adelphia! Worldcom!

Fuck the Puerto Ricans. 20 to a car, swelling up the welfare rolls, worst fuckin' parade in the city. And don't even get me started on the Dom-in-i-cans, because they make the Puerto Ricans look good.

Fuck the Bensonhurst Italians with their pomaded hair, their nylon warm-up suits, and their St. Anthony medallions. Swinging their, Jason Giambi, Louisville slugger, baseball bats, trying to audition for the Sopranos.

Fuck the Upper East Side wives with their Hermés scarves and their fifty-dollar Balducci artichokes. Overfed faces getting pulled and lifted and stretched, all taut and shiny. You're not fooling anybody, sweetheart!

Fuck the uptown brothers. They never pass the ball, they don't want to play defense, they take fives steps on every lay-up to the hoop. And then they want to turn around and blame everything on the white man. Slavery ended one hundred and thirty seven years ago. Move the fuck on!

Fuck the corrupt cops with their anus violating plungers and their 41 shots, standing behind a blue wall of silence. You betray our trust!

Fuck the priests who put their hands down some innocent child's pants.

Fuck the church that protects them, delivering us into evil. And while you're at it, fuck JC! He got off easy! A day on the cross, a weekend in hell, and all the hallelujahs of the legioned angels for eternity! Try seven years in fuckin Otisville, Jay!

Fuck Osama Bin Laden, Alqueda, and backward-ass, cave-dwelling, fundamentalist assholes everywhere. On the names of innocent thousands murdered, I pray you spend the rest of eternity with your seventy-two whores roasting in a jet-fueled fire in hell. You towel headed camel jockeys can kiss my royal, Irish ass!

Fuck Jacob Elinski, whining malcontent.

Fuck Francis Xavier Slaughtery, my best friend, judging me while he stares at my girlfriend's ass.

Fuck Naturel Rivera. I gave her my trust and she stabbed me in the back. Sold me up the river. Fucking bitch.

Fuck my father with his endless grief, standing behind that bar. Sipping on club soda, selling whiskey to firemen and cheering the Bronx Bombers.

Fuck this whole city and everyone in it. From the row houses of Astoria to the penthouses on Park Avenue. From the projects in the Bronx to the lofts in Soho. From the tenements in Alphabet City to the brownstones in Park slope to the split levels in Staten Island. Let an earthquake crumble it. Let the fires rage. Let it burn to fuckin ash then let the waters rise and submerge this whole, rat-infested place.

To which the real Monty finally replies, "No. No, fuck you, Montgomery Brogan. You had it all and then you threw it away, you dumb fuck!" I have my own personalized version of the above expletives, but it will be too much of a disclosure for the purposes of this blog. People who have known me will be surprised to witness this side of me. I even surprised my own family.

But I survived this personal crisis (or so I think), and the new year promises a lot of changes brought about by the choices I will make. To those who have known me, don't worry, I won't be harboring the aggressive thoughts that the legendary director Spike Lee has infused in the character of Monty. I know all too well that this mode of thinking leads to no good thing, simply misery.

I have this note from Mark Twain:

"Keep away from those who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do
that, but the really great make you believe that you too can become great."

Greatness inspires greatness.

Toward the movie's ending, we are presented with a visual illustration of the voiceover monologue of Monty's father, showing Monty his alternative to jailtime. Those who have seen the movie will agree with me on how moving this scene is, especially when we are drawn to how beautiful and promising Monty's life could be. The scene then fades into his badly beaten face as his father drives on to which we realize that all these has not happened yet! Monty has yet to make his decision, and we are never shown which one he made. I am about to pass the exit on the turnpike and it happens this year...