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Friday, November 28, 2014

The Millennium Falcon Flies Again

I have to admit I almost cried when I saw the Millennium Falcon soar towards the end of the teaser of the upcoming Star Wars movie,  "The Force Awakens."   From what I know, the film is set 30 years after Episode 6: Return Jedi so we see new faces as well as a new droid in the trailer. Then there is a new Dark Lord with a new lightsaber.

I know a year is a long wait but I hope J.J. Abrams make it worth the wait and does not disappoint. In the meantime, let me share with you the official teaser of the movie. This is what we have for now so enjoy. And yes, may the force be with all of us.





UPDATE (11/30): So what's this issue about John Boyega,playing a Stormtrooper? He's the first actor who appears on this teaser and many were unsettled that he's black.  I am not one of them and I don't remember any reference in the last seven episodes that all stormtroopers are white. So people calm down and accept it.

UPDATE (12/1): I just learned tonight that the voice on the trailer belongs to Andy Serkis (Gollum in Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit).  He's in the cast of the movie too but I am speculating that he could be doing another motion capture performance and be transformed into a CGI character. I hope not an updated Jar Jar Binks.  An Ewok will be just fine.


Wednesday, November 12, 2014

PHLPost Celebrates National Stamp Collecting Month with Exhibit of Papal Postage Stamps

We visited an on-going exhibit at the PHLPost main office in celebration of the National Stamp Collecting Month.  The exhibit named "Papal Visits Stamps"  features postage stamps memorabilia issued by PHLPost during the apostolic visits of Popes Paul VI, John Paul II and Pope Francis from 1970 up to 2015.



Each of the visits has its own display featuring the stamps issued during the occasion.  The panels also provided information about the apostolic visits.  It's a good lesson for kids interested in stamp collection as well as the country's religious history.  For those like me who experienced the Papal visits, it was a nice experience to look back at those days.  





The 1995 visit by then Pope John Paul II was specially memorable for me because I participated in the World Youth Day celebrations.  



   



The PHLPost also used the occasion to give the public a preview of the stamps that it will issue to commemorate the visit of Pope Francis in January.  This exhibit runs at the Manila Central Post Office from November 10 to 14. It will also be held at the Manila Cathedral (November 17 to 21) and the University of Santos Tomas (November 24 to 28) before going to Cebu and Davao.




The celebration is mandated by Presidential Proclamation Number 494 signed by former President Fidel V. Ramos, declaring the month of November as National Stamp Collecting Month (NSCM). with this year’s celebration carrying the theme “PHLPost: Going Beyond Tradition.”



Monday, November 10, 2014

My Lesson on the Difference Between Advertising and Reality from Bonchon Chicken Philippines

While looking for a place to have merienda at Robinson's Magnolia this weekend, my friend and I passed by the BonChon Chicken outlet and saw a poster of one of their offerings. The item was named Bulgogi Noodle Soup and the picture resembled something like the one below:

from bonchon philippines facebook page

I like many of BonChon's offerings.  Aside from the chicken I also order their calamari, chapchae and their fish and fries.  I haven't tried this soup so I convinced my friend to have merienda at the store and order the item.

The Bulgogi Noodle Soup comes in two sizes.: large and solo.  We ordered one large and one solo (for me).  The truth is, I wasn't expecting the order to look like the picture but neither did I expect to get these:

solo size

large size

My initial reaction was, "Is this what we ordered?".  It looked like something scooped out of a clogged kitchen sink instead of a pot.  The soup looked so greasy and all those floating sesame seeds and other stuff gave it the appearance of what we call "pinaghugasan ng plato" (water where one washed used plates). 

At first I didn't want to touch the soup but then I wanted to do this blog so I decided to taste it.  The soup was both salty and sweet at the same time and yes, very oily.  You have to dig deep to get the vegetables, beef and noodles.  The vegetables were overcooked. while the glass noodles were a bit soggy.  The beef was just right.  Over-all this noodle soup was not really satisfying, but it was not as bad as it looked.  

I have nothing against companies making their product look good in their advertisement. I only wish BonChon didn't make their promotional material so detached from what their product actually looked like, or maybe they could have made their Bulgogi Noodle Soup looked better.  I know it is a fast food chain and their products are inexpensive but that doesn't mean they should not think about presentation. 

Lesson learned.  Next time I will be more cautious.



Saturday, November 8, 2014

Amazon Echo: Speaker, Virtual Assistant, and Shopping Companion in One

The big news this weekend in the tech world was the announcement of Amazon on its website for its new product, the Echo.  

from amazon.com

The Echo is a cylindrical device that is basically a speaker that could fill an entire room with music. Just say the magic word, "Alexa" and the device wakes up to provide you with weather report, play music from your Amazon music library, and yes, go shopping with you on Amazon.

There are seven microphones on top of the Echo and it uses beam-forming technology to pinpoint your voice and make sure it can hear you no matter where you are in a room. It has an enhanced background noise cancellation so it can follow your commands and requests even when it is playing music.

The device is always connected to Amazon’s cloud-based web servers where most of the processing of data occurs.  The more you use  the better it understands your speech pattern and the more adept it becomes in identifying and responding to your commands over time. Let's just hope it won't be as buggy as Siri which took some time to recognize my speech pattern,

Music can be streamed through either WiFi or Bluetooth.  That includes music from iTunes and even Spotify.

It also comes with a remote control with a built-in microphone, music playback and volume controls.  There is also a companion app for iOS and Android gadgets and desktop PCs so you can further personalize your Echo experience.  



from amazon.com


Right now, the Echo is available for US$199 (roughly PhP8,900 at US$1=PhP44.5) and for a limited time, it is available to Prime Members at US$99.  Take note that getting the device is by invitation only and you may request it from the official site.  There's no word yet if it will be made available internationally but the way I look at it, Amazon must be testing first if they have a market for this and whether the Echo will work in the real world.  Maybe they were burned enough by the Fire Phone that they're being more cautious this time.

But being always on and with the capability to pick up one's voice where ever he is inside a room, will it be possible that someone could start listening to us 24/7 soon?  Maybe not as long as you don't have anyone in your household named "Alexa".

from amazon.com


Thursday, November 6, 2014

Lunch at Buffalo's Wings N Things

I went to Fairview Terraces today with my office mates to have lunch. We went around for some 15 minutes to look for a good place to eat and I found one called Buffalo's Wings and Things. Although the space was relatively small, it's cozy enough and since it's a weekday, there were no other customers but us.

 Their specialty is, what else, buffalo wings and ribs.  But I wasn't in the mood for some heavy lunch today so I ordered one of their set meal called "No Bones Fun." It's their take on the classic battered chicken tenders. 

The set meal comes with dirty rice, basically fried rice topped with salsa, and a can of soda (Pepsi products only). I went for Pepsi Max.  You can choose the sauce depending on how spicy you want it. I chose "Basil N Garlic" because our very helpful server said that that it is not very spicy and it tastes good.  My office mates both asked for the classic buffalo wings but I didn't get the sauce they each chose.

No Bones Fun
We didn't wait long for our orders to come. Our first impression was the serving was really generous.  I expected around 4 to 5 pieces only but the serving had more than that.  I love the sauce! It's tasty alright and not very spicy.  Just the right amount of heat that made me want to have more.  

By the way, the set meal is only PhP189 plus 10% service charge.  Actually, it is a steal for the size and quality of the meal.  The service was fast and the staff were very helpful. I had a good experience so I'd like to go back and try their regular offerings.

Buffalo's Wings N' Things is at the 2nd Floor of Ayala Fairview Terraces 



Monday, November 3, 2014

Christmas at Starbucks: A New Drink, A Mini Card and the 2015 Planner

image from starbucks.ph
It's that time of the year again...

When November comes, Starbucks aficionados like me look forward to having more than their share of coffee to get the store's organizer.  It seems that this year, Starbucks made it easier for us to get their planner: you only need to drink 9 Christmas themed beverages and another 9 regular hand crafted drinks, or a total of 18 drinks.  I remember when we used to need 23 drinks to grab just one planner.

Ever the eager beaver, I went to my favorite store yesterday and got my first sticker.  I hope I can get more than one of the four designs this year. By the way, the 2015 Planners have very simple designs. They come in green, black, red and brown with drawings.

So what are this year's Christmas themed beverages.  Aside from the usual toffee nut and peppermint mocha, Starbucks offers the Christmas Cookie Latte this year.  I think this is the most popular variant this year because when I was in the store yesterday, 4 out of the 5 persons before me ordered this item.  So I jumped on the bandwagon and asked for the same beverage but I preferred it cold/over ice.

My first impression was it's a very sweet beverage.  There were cookie bits and shortbread sauce in the mix.  I think it will be best to drink it when you're feeling down since all that sweetness (read: sugar) will give you a boost.  

In fact, I was in a bad mood yesterday because I specifically asked not to put cream on my latte.  The barista, maybe she wast tired after making all those Christmas Cookie lattes, automatically put the cream.  When she realized her mistake, she scooped it out and drizzled my drink with more shortbread sauce to cover any trace of the cream. All my sense of reason flew out of the window and I told her I saw what she just did so she offered to make me a new drink. This also explains why I wasn't able to take a photo of my drink.

Anyway, I think I will order 8 more of this beverage to fill my card with stickers. I will try the same drink hot next time.

image from starbucks.ph
The other new thing with Starbucks is the Starbucks Holiday Mini Card.  It's so small, about half the size of the regular card, and can be used as a dongle or key holder.  It is also eligible for the promo where you load it with PhP1,500 and you get PhP300 extra load.  However,  the cashier told me that the promo is only up to Wednesday, November 5.  If you don't want to spend PhP1,500, you may still get it at PhP500.  The other two designs looked they came from the designers of  Hallmark Cards.


So it has begun...