Sunday, 30 September 2007

Plant Lessons

My interest in gardening had been recently rekindled, and the picture that comes with this post is an interesting trunk I saw in the garden.

That trunk lying on the ground was one of the camachile trees that used to grow very near the power line on the lot in front of our house. The power company decided to cut down the tree as a security measure, and my dad took the trunk to be used as driftwood :P

Owkay, there's nothing peculiar about the tree, but as you may see, the old trunk had sprouted new leaves. This phenomenon displays one basic concept you've got to keep in mind when you're gardening: plants want to live as much as you want them to.
There used to be so much hype about plants being so maselan or something, especially orchids. I still remember that many would say that growing this plant would require these tools, these environment, and the likes (hope you get my drift) such that many used to regard the plants as some sort of divinities that need to be revered.

For me, anyway, I just take advantage of the fact that plants are also doing their best to survive. In other words, both the gardener and the plant only want the plant's survival and the best way to ensure that is to allow the plants to live in the way they would want to.

And yes, that very thing is also applicable to parent-child relationships.

:P

Rampage

My campaigning activities for the poll that will determine the winner in GM Tristan's Group Writing Contest is, shall I say, getting a bit serious. A friend had commented that I'm getting desperate.

I AM.

Hehe :p

Before going home for the weekends, I sent emails to everyone I know in the company. I've also advertised in the Ragnaboards, as well as in here.

When I got home, I flooded my Yahoo! messenger contacts with vote-requests. I've also posted a bulletin on Friendster. AND, I've texted all the contacts in my phonebook.

The last time I checked, I'm still lagging by about 26votes. If the figure remains that way, I'll be getting even more desperate, hehe. I still have a few contacts I've yet to ask for support. Been reserving the efforts (and gathering enough courage) to ask them.

At least all these have allowed me to get in touch with some of my friends whom I haven't been texting for a while. It feels good to know that my friends are doing fine in their current professions.

Anyway, I still managed to squeeze in a few hours to re-pot the orchids at home that needs transplanting.

Ah, the life.

EDIT: yesh!! I'm even more desperate now. I've already asked some of my superiors to vote :3

EDIT (again): Managed to get to the top after asking all the contractors here in the office (the ones who sold us the equipment we're using in the gateway) to cast a vote. ^_^

I'm still pestering asking my former colleagues in the college publication to vote :P

I do hope I get to stay on the lead especially since I won't be able to campaign as aggressively tomorrow and the day after that (which, btw, is the final voting day).

Wednesday, 26 September 2007

Voting Time!

Voting for GM Tristan's Group Writing Contest has began. Please vote for me here:

Vote Now!

I really like the RPC 07 jacket that will go to the winner, so now I'm campaigning like crazy :p

The voting process will be until October 4, 2007 so please drop by GM Tristan's blog and vote for me (jherskie). Thanks!

Sunday, 23 September 2007

Traveler's Advisory: New Banner

I've recently added a new banner, and I thought I'd blog about it coz it deserves an entry, in my point of view. First of all, all those pictures are mine (as I've said in an earlier post, I want to post only my own pictures here).

Mustering all I could remember about using Photoshop, I made the banner based on a filmstrip-concept since I wanted to highlight the pictures I've taken during my travels. So what are these pix, you may ask?

The first one is a cattleya I've seen during the Philippine Orchid Society's Mid-Year Orchid Show last year. As of now, that orchid is in my plants-to-buy-as-soon-as-I've-spotted-one-being-sold list :p

The second is a view of the man-made lake in Burnham Park, Baguio city, taken during the Panagbenga festival last February '07 (went there with the Kropeck gang). Third is a telecomms tower of Smart somewhere in Bataan. If there is something memorable about that particular time, it would be that we were en route to ACeS for the first time. We had a little stopover at a cellsite in Bataan and I decided to take a snapshot.

Fourth picture is my old banner, and it shows one of the flowers that never fail to remind me of summer - Cassia Fistula, or Golden Shower. The trees bloom at around May, and I generally associate the flowers with some nice summer vacation some time in the past. The fifth pic is the Jaen bridge (or San Isidro bridge, I don't know actually) that connects the towns of Jaen (my home town) and San Isidro in Nueva Ecija.

The sixth picture shows the two cats at home when they were still kittens (I never get tired of looking at that pic). Next one is also taken during the Panagbenga at a garden show in Burnham Park. The full pic makes a nice wallpaper, and I'd gladly give the pic to anyone who'd ask nicely. ^_^

I've posted the next picture in a former post - it is a rather nice view of the Space Shuttle ride in the Enchanted Kingdom in Sta. Rosa, Laguna. I went there during the Fun Familia (a company outing) some time last June. The ninth picture is that of the 13-meter antenna utilized by our I-4 network to connect to the I-4 satellite.

The last one is a rustic view of the Gen. Nakar, Quezon landscape. It was taken last year during our community service in the Smart Village for the Gawad Kalinga (a rather memorable trip).

There you go folks - the stories behind the images, the souls behind the shots. These pictures are memoirs of the tales that comprise the journal of my existence - everlasting souvenirs in the daily joyride I call my life.

Hiatus

I've noticed that I haven't been regularly posting here in my blog. For the months of June, July and August, I was able to make 12 entries each. But for September, this is my 5th post.

Anyway, I've been keeping myself busy either with work or sleep :P

I've also gone on a 7-day self-imposed posting leave from the Ragnaboards (currently on day5) so I'm pretty much on a hiatus on my online life. Well, at least I've gotten some life back in the real world (and resumed my interest in gardening) :P

By the way, say hello to Sandra.

Yeah, yeah. Plants are not usually named as pets are. But I do have names for some of the orchids at home. Most of those plants that have names are named after the person who gave it to me. For Sandra's case, however, it's from the plant's scientific name, Vanda Sanderiana (which, in turn, is from Sanders, an orchid authority who I really don't know much as Wikipedia doesn't have an entry about him/her).

Thursday, 20 September 2007

The Proper Mix

Life itself is but a great blend of homogenous and heterogeneous mixtures, which bring about the colors of, and spice up, the world we live in. The essence of existence is a delectable concoction of the various elements of joy and gladness, of sadness and bitterness, of excitement and glory.

There is a proper balance for everything – and happiness maybe found in that exact formula wherein the equilibrium resides.

Balance: Both Lock and Key
Even one of my hobbies, online gaming (MMORPGs in particular), is very much dependent on an appropriate fusion and subtle balance, which is between real life and the virtual world in this case. It might sound a bit too philosophical, but I’m sure every online gamer would understand what that means. :)

The greatest challenge in MMORPGs is this: to find your true happiness in a virtual world while at the same time enjoying real lifeTo put it simply, the best way to enjoy online gaming is to do so while enjoying the real world for, indeed, the greatest challenge in MMORPGs is this: to find your true happiness in a virtual world while at the same time enjoying real life. Putting it succinctly may make it sound too easy, but striking the balance between cyber life and real life is a tad difficult feat that those who gain mastery of which are the epitome of gamers in general.

Virtual in Reality
First of all, the virtual world is there to make up for the boredom of living in a rather monotonous world – but it exists in a dimension wherein it is nothing but a figment of imagination. This virtuality, or the so called cyber world, caters to the people’s need to reach beyond the limits of their physical boundaries, to interact with others as much as they can, and touch (figuratively) as many lives as they could.

The cyber world provides a rendezvous where crossroads meet crossroads, and new horizons are born. It exists though it is practically inexistent, in a place wherein it resides but cannot really be found. An enigmatic puzzle, it may surely be, but a beautiful picture it is to those who chance upon it.

In other words, the virtual world isn’t real, but it exists. As such, it entails several characteristics to extract the essence, and to get the most fun out of it.

Mixing Seven Components
My life as a gamer is but a colorful story love story filled with the usual pangs of resentment and failures and the joy and tribulations of beating the odds and making it through the strongest of downpours. There had been ups and downs, and some of the ordeals I went through contributed largely to who I am today.

Seven key factors had helped me grow more into this hobby of mine, and made me realize how online games such as Ragnarok Online can play a central part in preparing an individual for the real world ahead of him. These are: commitment, dedication, integrity, a deep sense of vision, maturity, efficient management of resources, and maintaining the proper balance between work and play.

In the game of Ragnarok Online, choosing the path to wizardhood entails great dedication and a true sense of commitment for the grueling task of leveling is but long and tedious. I remember the endless waves upon waves of Alarms (clock-like monsters), Stings (slow-moving lumps of mud with a glove on top), Geographers (sunflower monsters who heal each other), Enchanted Soils (bouncing clump of sand, anyone?), Argiopes (giant worms) and whatnots who I engaged in kill or be-killed battles. Reaching the needed job level of 50 for my mage certainly tested my dedication to this game, and it surely made my sense of commitment as strong as steel.

Furthermore, I can tell off anyone from saying that online games are a waste of time and resources. It is because the game imbibed upon me the value of integrity, and it made me develop a deep sense of vision. True, one’s identity is anonymous while online, but I believe (again, after through all the in-game experience) that whatever people do anonymously speaks more for themselves than for what they are publicly acknowledged for doing. Integrity and vision are but very personal characteristics by which one can gauge himself; for my part, I can say that I value my integrity and I stand up for everything I believe in.

To participate in an online game where events transpire in real-time, a player needs to be more mature and he also needs to manage his resources efficiently. I remember the time when I was deeply engrossed with RO – it was during my college days. Being in college means that resources (particularly financial resources) are sparse, and responsibilities are mountain-high. But through it all, I managed to keep my grades up, maintain my scholarship, run the student publication, participate in inter-collegiate and regional quiz bees, and bring honor to my school while my character in the game was also leveling and maturing as I am in real life.

I matured to keep up with the times – I micromanaged my time and made efficient use of my resources to ensure that my gaming life and my student life are not pulling each other down. Piece of cake? No. But it was truly FUN now that I look back upon it.

Studying was of course top priority then, but I sneak some time in-between research just to let my mage catch up, especially when there are experience modifications (for faster leveling). There were times, too, when I went online more than I studied just because the latter drains me more (gaming lets me recharge, as a matter of fact).

At that particular moment when the virtual meets the real in perfect harmony, there you should be to have the best of both worldsThat’s the greatest part of it – maintaining the proper balance between the virtual and the real. In the end, whatever virtual will only be real in its own context, but the real as of the moment might just be virtual, in a sense. Both are temporary, and are also affected by the wave of change that shapes the face of the earth. But at that particular moment when the virtual meets the real in perfect harmony, there you should be to have the best of both worlds.

~~~~~~~
This is my entry to the final week of GM Tristan's Group Writing Contest. Good luck to all who joined! (Wohoo! finished six weeks at last) ^_^

Friday, 14 September 2007

I R Wizzie

As it had been for the past 5 weeks already, GM Tristan's Group Writing Project, which is nearing it's final week, had me racking up my brains for memorable moments and comic antics related to one of my passions: online gaming. For this week, GM T gave this topic: "REALITY OFFLINE: If Online Games Were Real, I would… "

So what will jherskie be if online games are real? A Ragnarok Online WIZARD, of course. There'd be nothing else ^_^

Well, if i'll be a wizard, things in this country will change. And I do mean MAJOR CHANGES, to put it succinctly. So how will teh Filipinos know if jherskie had become a true-blue wizard? Read teh signs... Read teh signs...



First Sign: The SM Skating Rink will close down business...


Of course, the SM malls' pride will lose all their patrons after I use STORM GUST!! and freeze the Pasig River. This is actually a two-pronged approach to address a few problems I see in the metro. As the river is frozen, no one will (hopefully) dump their wastes in it, and the squatters living by the river banks will have a new hobby (figure skating) that will likely supplant their current past times (ie, pollulating and drug addiction). Hey, we'll produce more figure skaters for international competitions, address the pollution problem, and curb the runaway and ballooning growth rate! WIN-WIN-WIN!!

(Oh, nevermind Henry Sy's business. I bet he'll come up with something to replace lost revenues)



Second Sign: Agriculture will boom once more...


With my WATERBALL!! skill, cloud seeding will be a thing of the past. Need water for the crops? Who do you call? (Not GHOSTBUSTERS, demmit!) Again, who do you call? Tadadadadaaaaa.... jherskie! I'll be taking all the excess water in flooded areas and use it to refresh dried up streams and agricultural lands. Another two-hit combo, I might say. (Hmmm... I seem to be getting more useful for the country... Note to self: ask for some tax discounts for all the services I'm rendering)



Third Sign: Byebye Corruption!


Oh come on, I know you thought, "No more kurakot in teh government? impossible!," and just admit it coz I've got teh remedy with the aid of my SIGHT!! Nothing hidden can't be revealed to me, and I bet there'd be much ill-gotten wealth I could give back to the public treasury. Another one-two punch delivered by yours truly; no more corrupt government officials, and more money for proper use on government projects.

WOOT! Scalawag days over, boys! I'mma watching j00. (Another note to self: make sure to write a book containing teh secrets of top personalities. It'll be bestseller. RLY)



Fourth Sign: No more brownouts!


Pick your choice among my electric attacks: Lord of Vermillion!!, Jupitel Thunder!!, Thunderstorm!!, Lightning Bolt!! I've got more charge at the tips of my fingertips than the electricity output of all coal-fired power plants in the country. No more need to import coal, and no more harmful by-products released to the atmosphere. Add the cost for importing fuel, and I can say that I'm teh saviour of teh Philippine Islands!

Shame that I wouldn't be able to hand out autographs for fear of electrocuting someone. Oh! that's right, instant electric chair, table, couch or whatnots for executing criminals!

-^*0*^-


There you have it folks, the things I'd do if online games were real and I'm blessed with the chance to be a wizard (or to put it into other words, how jherskie will save the Philippines). A very pretty picture, isn't that right? LOLz :P

Thursday, 13 September 2007

Childhood's end

A few days ago, I got to meet up an old friend who I rarely see these days. Such moments, of course, entail much catching up even if you get to email one another occasionally. Tales of office activities amidst chats of personal lives, unending comments on various mundane issues and talks of current career plans - they won't run dry if you haven't seen each other for a while.

Even if it were mostly just for exchanging pleasantries, our conversations made me notice that my friends and I have changed. We are no longer the brats we used to be, no longer caring about how our professors will grade our report, nor how we will be able to cheat in the next exam (owkay, we never did discuss how to cheat in exams, it's just an exaggeration) :P

Little did I realize that while the days since we parted ways after the board exams pass by slowly, each of us has matured in our own special ways. Perhaps these changes are so subtle, or they may be plainly visible. Nonetheless, the fact remains: we are no longer kids.

Immediately after our meeting (and with the fact that we are no longer kids in mind), I journeyed on for I was supposed to be on-duty a few hours later. So there I was aboard a bus en route to teh ACeS, that I got to ruminate on that special aspect of human existence: CHILDHOOD. As the bus was slowly passing by villages after villages, towns after towns, the sight of kids of various ages was endless.Childhood's end doesn't really entail, nor does it require, the loss of innocence

Looking upon the kids' faces, reading their soul's tales through their eyes, I realized that childhood's end doesn't really entail, nor does it require, the loss of innocence. Kids grow up and become adults even while you keep your eyes on them. And no, I'm not really talking about age here, coz some of the major essences of adulthood are not usually a function of time.

To put it succinctly, kids rely on adults for their needs, adults rely on God and themselves for their daily bread. The moment young ones start to think for themselves and behave like real adults, they are already young adults. Conversely, if old people still do not know how to fend for themselves, they're nothing but overgrown children.

Anyway, I do believe that childhood's end should never be accelerated, nor should it come in the wrong time. Kids deserve a happy childhood, and the adults are the ones who should make sure they do.

Friday, 7 September 2007

Loner No Longer

Perhaps one of the things that people don’t know about me is the fact that I used to be a total loner. I love going places on my own, and I readily take sole responsibility on activities that normally would take collective efforts from group members. But no man is an island, so they say, and it is quite something that it took a game to make me fully realize how truthful that adage is. How did gaming make me a better person? Here’s how.

The massively multiplayer online RPG, Ragnarok, is but a loner’s haven, so to speak. There are lots of things to do that would require one to take on challenges alone. But of course it wouldn’t be massively multiplayer for nothing; like all games, Ragnarok advocates camaraderie, teamplay, and endless interpersonal interaction among the gamers.People need to come out of their shells and work together for the betterment of the world...

While games are basically virtual, they still reflect the real world to a great degree. In the case of MMORPGs, gamers are expected to build communities and foster an environment of fair play and unadulterated fun. This is very true of real life, wherein people need to come out of their shells and work together for the betterment of the world.

I still remember how I, a total loner since I could remember, learned to gradually step out of the boundaries of my lonely comfort zone and reach out to others. While I was beginning to become more sociable in-game, I started to let the people around me to know who I really am.

Yup, at first I appeared aloof, conceited, vain and proud. I need not say that I enjoyed how people used to shy away from me. There was a time when I even downright reject my parent’s advice that I need to have friends (I really didn’t have close friends until late in highschool). Back then, I was glad to carry things out alone just because I could get away with it.

It’s quite amusing that I was drawn to play Ragnarok because it fits into my then lonesome world – I could freely wander without the hassles of tugging others. At that point of time, I believe I could create a nice little nook for myself, wherein there’d be no disturbances, no troubles, no worries. Just plain me, myself, and I.

But lo! I soon learned, and I’m grateful I didn’t have to learn through the hard way, that to do certain tasks requires the efforts of another. I believe most games, in general, at one point in their gameplay, would need the player to actually associate with others.

One in-game event after another slowly made me realize that asking others for help doesn’t lower one’s dignity. It is the other way around. Giving and receiving some form of assistance is never derogatory, and they instead make an individual a better member of society and boosts his morale.

At that certain point of time, I began reaching out to the very first persons who I could call my true friends. They were never ashamed to ask for my efforts, and they showed me that they would love to help as much as they could. I am indeed grateful, that I learned the proper lessons at the right time, and it was brought to me by a game.

The more I got engrossed in the game, I got to know how bad my attitude was. I soon left behind the old, totally lonely, me, and began to open up to others. I found a true sense of happiness with how people would approach me out of nothing at all, perhaps just to have some little conversation that, although may be about worthless and mundane topics, made me feel better nonetheless.

Thanks to the game, I learned a life lesson that my parents were never fully able to imbibe upon me because I resented it: No man is an island.

So when the time comes, I’d gladly allow my future kids to become gamers. I learned how to be a better person because of a game, perhaps they may learn a few lessons that I may fail to teach them.

Maybe they, just like me, will become more adept at touch typing (a very, very handy skill for writers and bloggers), or become well-versed with trading (and become future successful entrepreneurs), or they may integrate into their characters the nobility of swordsmen, the steadfast faith and patience of acolytes, and the mages’ love for wisdom.

Special thanks to Level Up for this great game, and to GM Tristan for continuously seeking to improve MMORPGS through events such as the Group writing contest. I made this entry for the fourth week of that particular challenge.

So to all game developers, particularly those behind Ragnarok, ROK ON!