Wednesday, December 12

Landscape by Google

While browsing the internet for more inane reads, I accidentally discovered that the Manila City Hall is shaped like a coffin with a cross when viewed from above. See for yourself here.

According to this page in the threads of Pinoy Tambayan: "The original Manila City Hall was a rambling structure made of Oregon pine. It sat on the same site as today’s structure and lasted till the late 1930s when an Antonio Toledo-designed structure replaced it."

Somebody else said that the architect responsible for the reconstruction wanted a memorial for those who perished during the Second World War, when the city hall was turned into a Japanese garrison and lots of people died, especially on the clock tower side.

There's also a testimonial to the place's haunted status. A bunch of guys on the night shift working on a project decided to go ghost-hunting, but they didn't even get to the 5th floor. One of the ghost hunters screamed, and while the building security knew they were there, the security people opted to wait for them in the first floor. They didn't want to go up because of the creepiness of the place.

I wish I knew this when I played GRO during our department's international conference a couple of weeks ago. I sat in the back of a van with some of the participants and I can tell you, my vocabulary level dropped to the level of 'Hey Joe, you wanna buy watch? Me love you long time." (I was apparently not alone. For some reason most of us younger instructors found ourselves using very basic sentence structures. We all wanted to tell our guests that usually we were engaging conversationalists, but our collective syntax short-circuited just then. I digress.) All I could say when we passed by City Hall was that it was built in the late 1930s, got bombed and rebuilt again. Not much help really.

But really, the things that you learn from Google. Just simply fascinating. I don't mind I spent a few minutes on the web for it.


Reading Anna Karenina in Africa

Doris Lessing's Nobel Prize acceptance speech takes a jab at the internet for its seduction of a whole generation with its many "inanities:" "[E]ven quite reasonable people will confess that, once they are hooked, it is hard to cut free, and they may find a whole day has passed in blogging etc?"


Okay, I felt alluded to. But I think that comment was less about about dissing the internet, but more about how reading books and experiencing great literature really satisfies a hunger for knowledge. A huge part of her speech tells about the difficulties of getting books, what more a proper education, in Africa, where a book may cost one several months' wages. But still, people read books, a third of Anna Karenina at a time, like that young woman waiting for her ration of water in a store.

Buti pa nga yung babaeng iyon nakatapos ng 1/3 ng Anna Karenina, which I can't claim for myself. And I probably have more books than entire villages in Africa. I'm the downfall of the human race. Pero oks pa rin, kasi sabi ni Lessing there's a storyteller deep inside all of us.

Now if only that storyteller quits blogging and starts to work on her bloody thesis. Gah.


Monday, December 10

How to get yourself depressed. Not.

Here's something guaranteed to deliver a low blow to the your already down self-esteem: what other people accomplished when they were your age. Here's mine:

The Danish physicist Niels Bohr published his revolutionary theory of the atom.

French novelist George Sand published her first novel, Indiana.

Dr. Ludwig Zamenhof of Warsaw invented the artificial language Esperanto.

British physician Thomas Wakley began publishing The Lancet.

Jamaican reggae composer/performer Bob Marley recorded "I Shot the Sheriff."

Nuclear plant lab tech Karen Silkwood died in a car crash on her way to meet with a New York Times reporter and a union official to document her allegations about falsified quality control reports.

French naturalist Jean B. Lamarck coined the word biology to encompass the studies of botany and zoology.

Radio DJ Brent McCoy killed a mouse, seemingly by staring at it, in his living room.

College graduate and licensed therapist Katie moved back in with her parents to muck stalls on their farm and fold her dad's underwear, still warm from the dryer.

Now except for the last two, all the others are something I can't do and don't really care much about doing. I remember reading a similar list a few years ago, and became really sad that Orson Welles made Citizen Kane when he was 24 or something. Somebody else said that if you haven't done anything spectacular or world-changing by age 30, perhaps you never will. That gives me a few more years. Not that I'm counting on it. I'll probably look at this post by then and consider myself bonkers.