Earth Hour

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Marciano's Bakery Cafe

We went out for lunch recently to a just-opened mall near our office.  The mall named Fairview Terraces has not been discovered by the regular mall crowd yet so it's still quite comfortable to go around.

Our choice was Marciano's Bakery Cafe. Their specialty are pizza and pasta but they also have rice meals which are reasonably priced.  The place is clean and orderly, not too big but spacious enough.  Another thing that attracted us to the place is that there were no customers yet.  We've been warned by an co-worker who recently dined there that the pasta is a bit salty.  I always considered pasta and pizza as snacks so I went for the meal with rice.

Our orders took some time to arrive but we reasoned that perhaps all their meals are freshly cooked and take some time to finish.

I had the Citrus Pork Belly/ It came with garlic rice and some vegetables.  The pork was sweet but not too much to make it taste like a candy.  The citrus flavor did wonders to neutralize the sweetness.  The meat was tender and had the right amount of juiciness.   In short I enjoyed my meal.

Citrus Pork Belly

My office mate went for the Baby Back Ribs, which came with mashed potato and a piece of broiled corn on the cob.  According to her, the meat was really tender and easily fell off the bone. In terms of taste, however she preferred the back ribs at Chocolate Kiss in UP.  I've tried that one too and I can say that those were really good ribs. In fact, we've been there several times ordering the same item.  She didn't have any problem with the size of the serving too.

Baby Back Ribs

I want to go there again and try the other items they offer.  I also want to try their cheesecakes and other baked stuff which all look yummy.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Laika: The Tragic Space Pioneer

We once had a dog named Laika. My mother named her after the first dog who went to space. That was the only thing I knew about the name and the dog. There was very little information about this space dog aside from those who say Laika was from the Soviet Union and she was a space pioneer.

Laika the Space Pioneer

Now that information is readily available, I found the real story of Laika, which was bigger than what I previously knew. She turned out to be a space heroine but a tragic one at that. She's a victim of the space race between the two world powers – the US and USSR, trying to outdo each other by sending a human being to space.   

Laika was born during this period in the streets of Moscow, where she lived as a stray. One day she was scooped out of the streets and became part of the Soviet space program.  The Soviets used dogs as their specimen to test the limits a living being could take when launched into space. They preferred stray dogs like Laika because they are used to extreme conditions like cold and hunger. 

Laika in her Sputnik 2 compartment
In October 1957, the first man-made satellite was successfully launched to space. Then Soviet Nikita Khrushchev wanted to send another satellite to space, this time with a living passenger.  The catch is that the space team only had a month to prepare for the launch.  

The task of being the first living creature to space went to Laika, who was described by her handlers as "quiet and charming."  She was launched to space on November 3, 1957, and survived the launch.  It was only after the dog went into orbit that the Soviet scientists told the world that it was a one-way trip for Laika, and they do not have the technology yet to bring the poor thing back to Earth.  Laika was sent to orbit by the people she trusted who knew that she will perish there.

Initially, the Soviets told the world that Laika stayed alive for a week, and she died peacefully when she was euthanized before the batteries in her shuttle went off.  She was hailed a heroine in her country and its allies.  

However, in 2002 new information came out about what really happened to the little space pioneer. For one, Laika didn't survive as long as the Soviets initially reported.  Within hours, the intrepid space dog died a painful death.  

Although her capsule was equipped with fans to cool the dog once the temperature inside reached 15 degrees Celsius, the equipment failed due to damage during the launch. The little dog was already doomed. The temperature rose to more than 40 degrees, and poor Laika died due to heat exhaustion and distress.   

In a later interview, one of the scientists who sent her to space said, "Work with animals is a source of suffering to all of us. We treat them like babies who cannot speak. The more time passes, the more I'm sorry about it. We shouldn't have done it... We did not learn enough from this mission to justify the death of the dog." (Wikipedia)

After orbiting Earth 2,570 times in 162 days, Sputnik 2 eventually fell out of its orbit.  On April 14, 1958, it entered our atmosphere and disintegrated along with the remains of its lone tragic passenger.

In 1997, a monument for Russian conquerors of space was erected in Star City, the training grounds of cosmonauts. In one panel, peering out of her capsule was a representation of Laika, the space dog.

Conquerors of Space

In 2008, Russian officials unveiled a memorial for Laika in Star City near the building where the dog was prepared for her historic flight. It featured a dog standing on a rocket.

Laika's monument in Moscow

Laika's contribution to space flight is not her only legacy.  The furor over the fact that she was purposely sent to space to die sparked outrage and demands for the review of policies on the use of animals for scientific research.

As for our dog Laika, she stayed with us for 14 years.  She came to us as a puppy, and one time, we thought we had lost her.  It turned out that she slept under one of the furniture and cannot be easily seen.  She had three sets of puppies, but we do not have any of her descendants anymore.

Our Laika was a good guard dog and a loyal one too.  Although she was also a mongrel like the little dog she was named after, she was an affectionate one and was always happy to welcome us home.

One night, when my mother came from work, Laika, who was not feeling well, looked at her pleadingly.  My mother took the poor dog's head in her hands, and at that moment, Laika breathed her last.  I will never forget that dog.  Our Laika may not have conquered the stars, but she'll always stay with me.

I do not own the photos on this post. I got them from Google.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Apple Gives Free U2 Album: People Freak Out

I woke up one morning and found U2's new album, Songs of Innocence, ready for download to my iTunes library.  At first, my sleepy head had to make sense of the event. I didn't pre-order or purchase any U2 album recently, so it must be a mistake.  I downloaded it anyway, and while waiting for it to finish, I scoured the Internet for information.

I found out it was a gift from Apple as a way of thanking its 500 million iTunes clients. Besides, the guys from Cupertino must still be giddy over their recent announcement of the iPhone 6 and 6Plus, as well as the Apple Watch – which of course, deserves another post.

So back to the album. Who doesn't like music that's given free legitimately?  Well, it turned out there's a lot of them.   After a couple of hours, I started getting posts on my Twitter feed from angry iTunes users who were disgusted with the free download.  Apparently, many of those who received the gift took it as an invasion of their privacy, and/or Apple made a decision for them to download and listen to the album.  Others were simply non-U2 fans.  They want the music out of their devices pronto. 

There was so much clamor against the download that the band's manager even said in an interview that if people do not want it, they could just delete it, which I agree with.  In fact, I still do not understand what the too much anger was for.  Maybe they also hated that they have to manually delete the contents from their gadgets.  Anyway, the din must have been too loud and reached the Headquarters in Cupertino that the people there developed a tool for people who want to delete the album from their devices. Here's a link if you're one of those not thrilled about this gift.

This just proves that one cannot please everybody – not even with the gift of free music.  I think the comic strip from The Joy of Tech sums up the situation very well. As for me, I am keeping the album. It may not be as great as the earlier outputs of the band, but there are still some that are above the average music one hears every day.  I just hope the experience doesn't stop Apple from surprising us with another gift in the future.