Playing Dice

   It’s not too often I grab the brass ring.  Here I am, with an opportunity – admittedly a slim one, but an opportunity nonetheless – to leave this country.  I have staked my name and reputation in a modest research, all in the effort to get somewhere.  Lately, I realized how important that brass ring was, and how fortunate I am to cling to it: it’s a make-or-break that will either cement my career, or leave it in the proverbial pool of quicksand.

   Not that I’m regretting anything, but with my less-than-satisfactory performance in six years of undergrad school, I would probably get an academic position only when pigs fly over a blue moon on the eighth day of the week on the thirteenth month of the year.  So much for a chance to teach.  As much as I tell most people that I make a bad teacher, I know that a lot of young people who would enter my classroom will learn a lot from me.  It’s all about taking a chance: like many people, I need all the chances I could get.

   But I know how distant a classroom in UP is from my grasp now: I have my limits.  So last night, I decided to pass a résumé to a company looking for writers.  Another day, another gamble: I have laid my bets so many times at the roulette table of many a writing contest and, like Kenny Rogers’ gambler, I knew when to hold ’em and knew when to fold ’em, knew when to walk away and knew when to run.  I didn’t know what kept me from winning that elusive Palanca, so I just kept on it.  I honed myself – and I still continue to do so on a day-to-day basis – on the grindstone that is the blogosphere.

   I wouldn’t pass up a chance at a call center if I was a practical-minded person, but suffice to say, I’m not.  Maybe my friends are right: I have too much going on for me to work telephone lines and troubleshooting computers run by inept people half a world away.  That trust and confidence was something that has kept me – for the longest time – to pass my résumé to Sitel.

   Ambition is something I reserve for things that are worth my while: I won’t aim for the stars if I know I’m not prepared, even if I know how to get there.  Knowing how to get to your destination is half of actually getting there.  Whenever I get out of my comfort zone, I throw my propensity to cost-benefit analysis and just go, paying neither heed nor caution to the wind.  It has sometimes been my undoing, but often the best lessons I’ve ever learned are lessons from rolling my dice.

Lockdown

   I just got reminded by my mom that if I have any plans of getting travel documents in the way of passports and visas, I have to cut my hair.  Somehow, many of my relatives are quite concerned about my hair length.  It’s paranoia by syllogism:

  • I have long hair.
  • I’m from UP.
  • I used to be an activist of the street-rallying kind.

   It’s not that I’m afraid of having a haircut: when I took the summer term at UP Diliman a couple of years ago, I had a haircut.  Some of my friends were very nanghihinayang that I cut my hair when it was so long, shiny, and fell in a neat cascade almost to the small of my back.  Now my hair is below shoulder-length: it’s still too long by conventional and conservative standards.

   For all intents and purposes, I used to be very vainglorious when my hair was longer.  I oiled it myself on a regular basis, used handfuls of shampoo and handfuls of conditioner (not the all-in-one kind), and even went so far as to have it cellophaned once.  When pesky lice infested my hair, I took the burning sensations of Kwell, had my hair ironed, and then went to a hair spa a month later… all in the effort of ridding my locks of the parasitic vermin.

   Now that I have shorter hair – and figured out the cost of my vanity – I stopped giving my hair the kind of attention I don’t give my romantic prospects.  The truth is, you don’t have to go to a hair salon to have good hair: you only need to give your hair an extra oomph of shampoo.  Soap, surprisingly, works fine.

   But I don’t know what haircuts have to do with travelling abroad.

Mixed Reactions

   In the real world, I’ve been getting some mixed reactions on my recent move to my own web domain and shifting blogging platforms from BlogDrive to WordPress.  The first impression of almost every reader is the color scheme: in Original TMX, some readers threw online fits when I changed background colors from black to white.  The Christmas theme was particularly a cause for discontent among more loyal readers, so I scrapped it.

In general, for its first few days, Marocharim.com got some mixed reactions.

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   There are mixed reactions to this particular theme I chose when I shifted to WordPress: as expected, some don’t like it.  Black, as it seems, is synonymous with the general “attitude” of The Marocharim Experiment.  I have a fairly good excuse for that: I still have to learn the works of WordPress, and as soon as I can do that, I would very probably go back in black.

Yet I’m quite surprised at the positive feedback I have received when it comes to color and page themes: apparently, this theme is cleaner and easier to read compared to the original.  I’ve gotten a small number of messages from a few readers who said that the original BlogDrive blog was quite hard to read owing to its high-contrast color scheme (the bulk of them saying that they get eyestrain).  Another positive feedback is that on slower connections, “New TMX” loads way faster.

Another thing some people observed is that here, I eliminated the bracketed tag line (those introductory notes at the beginning of entries that usually take the form of < hmmm… >).  That tag line served the purpose of what I’m writing about: WordPress comes with categories, which means that I don’t really have to “qualify” the “topic” of the article any more than an obligatory onomatopoeia.

Another convenient feature of WordPress is that it runs just as well on Mozilla Firefox as Internet Explorer.  Back when I was using BlogDrive, entries typed in IE looked better than ones typed in Firefox, so I duked it out with IE as much as I didn’t really like it.

I’m not saying that BlogDrive is a sucky platform for free blogging: I didn’t remain a loyal free subscriber of BlogDrive if it didn’t get the job done.  In fact, if you’re a relatively new blogger, I highly recommend BlogDrive: it’s very easy to customize, it comes with great themes, and it has a very good WYSIWYG editor.

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    On the matter of my own domain, I also have gotten mixed reactions.  While some are genuinely happy for me, some are genuinely unhappy: apparently, having my own web domain represents my re-initiation into bourgeois culture and marks the beginning of that day when I would very probably sell out to advertisers.  I understand the sentiment: after all, I did just fine blogging for free without having to bombard my audience with advertisements back in the old days.  But as much as I hate to admit it, times have changed.  Having my own domain means much more flexibility, but it also means having to pay for it.  Practicality – the fifth Horseman of the Apocalypse – rears its ugly head and has convinced me that this domain has to pay for itself.

In the very near future, I would do the “unthinkable” and do AdSense, and eventually, I would probably write for companies who want to advertise their products online (until such time that I can establish a wider audience).  But I’ll try to keep that at a minimum: as long as I have enough to pay for the yearly renewal fees of this domain and the Coke I drink every time I write, and perhaps a few bills to line my wallet.  I’m not planning to be a millionaire.

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   Anyway, perhaps the most important thing I need now is a wider audience, and perhaps writing projects.  Spread the word.

Tomas Dreamer

   I was watching “Wowowee” awhile ago… no wait, I watch “Wowowee” almost every day.  I suppose part of my brain has already died and got reabsorbed as testosterone because of scantily-clad Anna S. Feliciano/ASF Dancers (I have my eye on that girl who carries the Liveraide package).  Talk about the pervasive influence of popular culture.

   Because Willie Revillame panders to the poor by way of giving away big bucks, the dream of big money becomes synonymous with a new dream that has reared its ugly head on the collective subconscious: to see “Papi.”  The “Willie of Fortune” contestant – usually a poor, downtrodden person who has walked the proverbial pool of quicksand that is hard time – would profess, “Matagal ko nang pangarap na makasali dito sa WOWOWEEEEEE!!!”  This may sound “elitist,” but you have got to be kidding me.

   I was buying samalamig from a roadside vendor when I heard her talking to her kid:

   Manang selling cold melon juice: Anong dream mo, anak?
  
Kid of manang selling cold melon juice: (dances “Sayaw Darling”)

   Damn, I thought.  I suppose that the ambition of children have long since surrendered their innocence in favor of dreams that aim as low as height requirements for rollercoaster rides.  Back when I was a kid, all boys shared the same dream: to be an astronaut.  Girls were more noble: they all wanted to be nurses.  While we boys still try our darndest to be Captain Kirk, almost every girl who wanted to be a nurse back then is probably already a nurse now.

   Yet there are kids who still aim for the stars, if not to be stars themselves.  To be an “artista” is the most common dream I hear from girls nowadays.  I’ll be damned if they look like Maja Salvador by the time they grow up.