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Tuesday, February 24th, 2009
6:03 pm - Lie To Me
Most of my friends know my stance on honesty and trust. They know that my main philosophy and life revolves around it. Not going into a dissertation on that now, but I thought it'd be a nice preamble to my mentioning this new TV show that I'm starting to like: Lie To Me starring Tim Roth. They're only on their fourth episode so I'll hold off from saying anything else.

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Thursday, July 5th, 2007
8:26 pm - Workrave
Here's a program I highly recommend to everyone who works in front of a computer all day: http://www.workrave.org/welcome/

It reminds you to take breaks and exercises at configurable intervals. Even tells you how to stretch.

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Saturday, March 24th, 2007
10:07 am - Hot or Not Captcha
I'm sure many of you have encountered captchas before. Captchas are graphical images whose purpose is to determine whether the entity viewing it is human or artificial (and by this, I mean non-human) intelligence. A majority of captchas come in the form of latin characters and/or arabic numerals. While effective, they certainly are a pain in a butt (makes me wonder if I'm fully human. I've failed a test a couple of times). They come in other forms, too. Microsoft has a spot-the-kitty kind.

Well, here's a new one. Based on the results of the Hot or Not website, Hotcaptchas use images of people and our physical taste in aesthetic looks to separate the humans from the bots.

At first I thought this would be difficult since taste varies from people to people, but after trying a couple of samples, I found it more accurate than many of the regular captchas.

Oh, and since we're on related topic, I thought I'd take this opportunity to plug one of my favorite ad campaigns: Dove's Campaign for Real Beauty

What do you people think?

current mood: contemplative

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Tuesday, January 30th, 2007
10:44 pm - All's Well That Ends Well
Last Saturday, as soon as we got to The Studio for some Saturday night dancing, I found out that I had somehow lost my wallet. We drove back to the Esso gas station at Sandstone where I must have dropped it in the parking lot right after purchasing some stuff at the gas bar, but we couldn't find my wallet on the floor nor was it returned to the people tending the station.

You can just imagine my dismay at losing my wallet. It had my driver's license and a whole slew of bank cards, IDs, "important" pieces of paper I had accumulated and weekend cash. Blast! No dancing.

I called the banks to cancel my credit cards and the police department to report the loss. While I had little hope of my wallet somehow turning up at the police station, I just had to let them know in case my IDs were to be used for some crime.

I had to suck it up the following day since it was a Sunday and I couldn't do much about the loss without my driver's license and bank cards. We (my two roommate and I) stayed at home the whole day, saw a couple of DVDs and ate and slept in. That night, my friend Shirley (who I met on a great site called Plenty of Fish) and I met up, and she did my the nice gesture of cheering me up both with her company and treating me to dinner at Korean Village.

On Monday, I decided to dedicate the whole day to reacquiring all the stuff that I had lost. I bought a new wallet ... still black leather but with cards stowed vertically instead. It was pretty thick even when empty. I went to the Federal Building to try an acquire a new SIN card and my citizenship ID (which I had just gotten the week before), to my bank to get a temporary bank card, to the registries to get a new license and auto registration, and to Alberta Health Center to get a new Alberta Health card.

By far, the people who gave me the easiest time was the bank. Quick service and no charge whatsoever. This was followed by Alberta Health. The Licensing Company (the registry) had me pay $21.50 each for the replacement license ID as well as vehicle registration sticker. The hardest time was at the government building. First, the lady at the reception for acquiring SIN cards was a bit testy. Talking to her felt like getting a lecture from a strict gradeschool teacher. I asked her if people usually gave her a hard time and if that was the reason she was a bit unfriendly, and she just said yes. I feel bad for people working at the government building. There were signs all over the place stating (to the effect) that abuse of both customers and employees would not be tolerated.

Another reason my experience at the government building was the worst was because of the procedures that they had in place. I was just asking for a replacement SIN card and the lady said I needed a Permanent Residency card or a Citizenship card. One I never had and the second I lost in my wallet. It didn't make sense for me. I wasn't asking for AN SIN number. I was asking for a replacement card. You would think that all they needed was proof of who I was because they already knew what my SIN is. Bah, bureaucracy!

The ironic part though is that this morning, I received a phone call from a phone number with caller-ID "Sandstone Esso"! The lady on the other end of the line (Sepeda) said that they had my wallet and that I could come pick it up anytime. So I took a quick shower and rushed to the station. There it was! My lost wallet returned to me (sans about $260 in cash). All of my cards, IDs, "precious" pieces of paper and even a 5 euro note were all there (admittedly in different places from where I kept them). I'm glad that I got my wallet back. I'm sure most of my friends would think that newsworthy, as well, because in some places, wallets just don't come back.

So now I'm down $260 plus about $120 the I spent for reaquiring my "lost" stuff, not to mention having to wait a week more for my bank cards because the ones in my wallet were already deactivated. *sigh*

At least all is well again.

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Sunday, November 19th, 2006
10:59 am - Can One Patent Evolution?
I used to be a big fan of patenting. I had several ideas/designs that I wanted to patent because I thought I was being innovative. I had solutions to problems that people had been pondering over for some time and yet had not come up with the solution I had in mind.

These days, specifically with software patents, I'm seeing ordinary, everyday solutions going on the patent block. One might even call some of these ideas "common sense". A natural progression in the evolution of man and his daily activities. If that's what patenting is about today, then I don't think I want to have anything to do with it at all.

Consider this: in man's history, we were once hunters and gatherers (at least according to one theory). At one point, one or several of these homo sapiens decided it would probably be better to domesticate and grow animals rather than to keep on hunting down whatever nature made available. If they had today's patents system available then, it would be possible for one person to patent the concept of farming and charge every other would-be farmer a chicken or lamb for every 20 animals they raised. It's preposterous! It's not innovation. It's evolution. And yet today, people are doing the very same thing. Amazon's 1-click patent. Here's one to Microsoft for the idea behind softphones.

The problem here is that the system is too rigid. It's too black & white. And when people become too lax, it's easy to pass off some shade of grey as white. Or even black as white if you're really good.

In the meantime, the rest of the globe suffers because of one silly individual (or, in this case, one corporate entity). And somehow they've managed to convince people (well, the lawmakers, at least) that they're actually doing society a favor. By patenting commonplace ideas, they're sparking innovation.

This is not what I had in mind when I first pictured myself being an inventor.

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Thursday, November 16th, 2006
9:40 pm - FOSS in the Philippines
Some good news . Now I just hope that our lawmakers don't get bought and get this bill killed. Be vigilant, people.

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Monday, October 9th, 2006
9:45 pm - Note To Self
A reminder to myself to find a way to get this to Canada:

</lj-embed>The Geek-a-Cycle

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Wednesday, October 4th, 2006
4:42 pm - Tampo
A few days ago, I came across a blog entry by one of my friends regarding the topic of "Tampo". (For those not in the know, "tampo" is Filipino term for an action I can only describe as a mix of throwing a tantrum and giving the cold shoulder treatment.) This is a particularly close subject to me since I've felt firsthand the effects of it, and seen it time and time again drive wedges of resentment in couples I've observed.

Anyway, it reminded me of an email message forwarded to me and several of her friends by my good friend, Jeanette Castro. In that email was an essay about Tampo extolling its virtues. Normally I would've just shrugged it off, but one of Jeanette's friends replied actually painting the action in such a beatific light that I had to respond. Unfortunately, I lost the original essay, but here (from Jeanette because I lost all my old emails in a rash "rm -rf ~/.evolution") is the reply I sent to all the people on that list:

>I don't think tampo is a negative thing. It does not decrease the
>value of a relationship. I believe it spices up the relationship. And
>it goes both ways, diba boys? It's all in the dynamics.

Personally, I think that statement is self-serving unless you clarify
what you mean by "dynamics". On first blush, I'd say tampo is akin to
emotional manipulation. It's as if a person was trying to coerce another
into doing something out of guilt or fear: guilt at having hurt the
other and fear out of being rejected/left.

Unfortunately, tampo appeals to the emotion rather than the intellect.
What happens is rather than the person analyzing the situation to
determine if there was a problem and a solution needed, most people's
thought processes get short-circuited by tampo and they react
emotionally, as well. Some people immediately start feeling apologetic
and fawn all over the person while others, having gotten tired of tampo
all those years, go on an emotional rage.

Truth is, most people will get farther with their significant others
with conversation. Simply communicating what one thinks is wrong could
extract a deeper conversation on the matter and might even end up with a
solution that goes farther than what one could hope for with tampo. On
the other hand, it is also possible that no compromises might be
forthcoming, in which case both can re-evaluate their present situation.

The sooner people find out the truth about their relationship, the
sooner one rids oneself of unfounded expectations, if any.

One other thing I have against tampo is what it says of the person
actually doing it. For the most part, people who "make tampo"
impulsively are either petulant children or petulant adults. While not
encouraged, it's certainly okay to be petty as a child, but it's
supposed to decrease as one gets older, not improved to a fine art, ;-).

The only "tampo" I would approve of is one that is calculated and well
thought-of (as opposed to being impulsive) and that is intended to
extract smiles, laughter and cuddling from both parties rather than
apologies. In that sense, it's more of a joke than a whip.

Diba, boys? Good job ba, G-Netski? ;-)

P.S. Apologies for replying to people I don't know. With just the email
to go on, I can't even tell if I know you or not! :-)

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Sunday, August 20th, 2006
11:31 pm - HIV/AIDS - Some Good News
Read this on /. today: Successful First Phase of AIDS Vaccine Trial. Could someone in the know (my doctor friends) tell me exactly what the significance to everyone is?

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10:59 pm - Fireworks Competition - Germany
Germany did extremely well. They didn't scrimp on the pyrotechnics and they used it all to good effect.

Prior to the fireworks display, the Calgary opera did a couple of songs from German operas and operettas and Mozart. Then a band called Dixie ? (a big brass band) did a couple of big band numbers. They started of with some polkas (Beer Barrel Polka) and then off to some other German and Bavarian music.

As for Germany's entry in the fireworks competition, they started of with Also Sprach Zarathustra, then did a couple of German Euro disco numbers before hitting "It's Raining Men" by G. Haliwell and finally ending with W. Houston's "One Moment In Time".

I rated S. Africa a 7. I'd say Germany was a 9.

No videos yet. The only videocam I have uses a digital Hi8 tape cartridge and doesn't export well to linux systems. It does have an S-Video output, but I haven't gotten the S-Video input on my tuner card configured, as yet.

Also saw the movie Step Up earlier today. The dance numbers were good. It was interesting to watch what life might be like at the Maryland School of Arts (which I am not sure actually exists), and I must admit a part of me wanted to feel what it would've been like to have gone there. The rest of the movie, however, didn't fare too well, IMHO. It all just felt contrived ... one scene after another.

current mood: relaxed

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Friday, August 18th, 2006
7:03 pm - Globalfest Fireworks Competition
Tonight's the first night of the Globalfest International Fireworks Competition. I go there every year. The fireworks display are simply phenomenal. The fireworks are always done in-sync with music. Tonight, South Africa is presenting. I hope they do well.

If not for the fireworks, I would've gone dancing.

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6:53 pm - Problem-Solution Idea #2
(This one's an old idea that I am only now putting to writing)

Problem: Don't you just hate it when you're driving, approach an intersection and the lights turn amber/yellow on you, and you can't figure out whether to slam on the brakes or speed up?

Solution: Cities should paint a yellow line marking the point-of-no-return on the road to indicate when to break and when to keep going. The assumption is that the amber light stays on for a predetermined amount of time before the lights turn red. The line would further assume that people are travelling at speed and would indicate the point at which cars will safely cross the intersection during the amber period and when the lights are liable to turn red just as the car crosses.

This line wouldn't be a "hard" rule, of course. It would be there merely to advise drivers when to speed up or hit the brakes. If many drivers out there are like me, they might be running a red light (or braking hard and risking the car behind them hitting them) simply because they're not sure what the safe thing to do is.

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Tuesday, August 15th, 2006
11:36 pm - Lateral Thinking with Problem-Solutions
I got into a discussion with one of Sacha's friends (I forgot his name, but I'll look it up) while we were at LinuxCaffe that night. He was taking his PhD in Human-Computer Interfaces (HCI). We got to talking about one of his thesis ideas which was about technology and helping people avoid bed sores.

This got me to thinking. Bed sores is such a common problem. Even I suffered from it when I spent 13 days in bed after a prolonged colesistectomy. It was a problem, but I never thought of it as a problem that I would think up a solution for. And I love problem-solving! Though my business is about providing IT Solution to businesses for their business problems, in general, I like coming up with solutions for any kind of problem using technology (and even more general, coming up with solutions for any problem).

So why didn't I think of the bed sore problem in the same way we discussed it that night? One of the reasons, I think, is that I've gotten out of practice with coming up with solutions for everyday things. Something I used to be terribly good at.

So I've resolved to 1) try to come up with one problem-solution thought a day, and 2) incorporate into the blog software I'm writing a module for logging each problem-solution thought.

As I was on the train home from airport, I couldn't help but get miffed at this one guy sitting at one of the benches with one of his feet on the bench across him. This was a problem for me because people sit on these benches and he was dirtying them with his shoes. One solution I came up with was to put a plastic, see-through barrier between the two benches from the knees to about chest high so that it wouldn't impede people's conversation but would make it uncomfortable for people to rest their feet on the opposite bench.

Well, I just said I'd come up with problem-solutions. I never guaranteed they'd be perfect nor great solutions, ;).

current mood: thoughtful

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11:32 pm - Hostelling
Well, it's my first time to stay at a hostel, and while the experience was pleasant, I could think of several ways to improve it.

Next time, I intend to bring a small pocket flashlight. I didn't usually get in till past 2 in the morning and groping around in the dark isn't fun. It went smoother the next couple of days because I ended up putting my bag in a locker outside. Ergo another important thing to bring: a sturdy padlock.

Any other ideas/suggestions?

current mood: contemplative

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10:37 pm - Toronto Visit Cont'd.


I've always thought that Calgary was very bike-friendly because of her bike trails. Unfortunately, downtown is where that image breaks down. I say unfortunate because everyday, I see tons of people in the summer biking to work downtown, and yet the city has not made any moves to accommodate all these commuters. There just simply isn't enough bike locks to hitch up ones bike to.

In the office where I used to work downtown, the building developers had to provide their own bike rack in the basement parking of the building. It was never enough. You'd usually find bikes piled up nearly on top of each other on the one bike rack they provided. Some would hook up their bikes to the buildings plumbing. That would mean some of them were actually hanging by their locks on a pipe suspended in air!

Contrast that with downtown Toronto where the city Transportation Services itself provides post-and-ring bike stands all over the city. I actually kick myself in the back for not bringing a folding bike to Toronto. According to their web sites, they're even planning on building outdoor bike lockers for rent to protect one's bike in winter.


I read a report somewhere that gave Calgary a lukewarm grade for environment-friendliness. We just don't do enough for recycling. Toronto has separate bins in every corner for litter, bottles and cans and other recyclables. Residential curb-side pick-ups also schedule recyclable pick-ups. If what I hear is true, this won't happen for Calgary till 2009, at least. It doesn't really take much to put directional signs to recycling bins, you know. I had too go on the Internet just to find the one nearest ours. And I have to drive to get there wasting even more gasoline.


On the plus side for Calgary, our Can$2.25 transit ticket gets us 90 minutes worth of traveling in any of the Calgary Transit vehicles. That could mean going back and forth to the grocery on one ticket if one is quick enough. In Toronto, Can$2.75 (I think) gets you one way, and they've a limited system of vehicle transfers. I do like their street cars, however. They ply almost every street in downtown. But in Calgary, train transit is free in the Free Fare Zone ... and let's hope no other idiot lawmaker tries to make another attempt at changing that. (I mean, if the city's serious about making the downtown core more attractive, they have to watch out for idiotic moves like that.)

I like their subways, though. I would much prefer underground or above-ground railway systems than our current traffic-restricting on-the-ground system. Heck, when I used to take the transit daily, there was an aberration practically every week that would disrupt the train system. In my first year here, I was on a train that hit a car in an intersection and heard tell of another train hitting a pedestrian. At least in Metro Manila, all our LRTs are way above the street (even though the one on EDSA feels like a roller-coaster as it avoids the fly-overs).


Their Chinatown is huge compared to Calgary's! I liked that fact that there were tons of Chinese and Asian stores there. Their wet & dry markets had everything I would ever want to put in a dish (and some I can't even identify). They had stores of all kinds. I even found one that only sold flag paraphernalia of all the countries in the world. I got myself 2 car flags, one of Canada and one of the Philippines.

Oh, and bubble teas taste better here in Calgary. The one at Dessert House in Chinatown here is still, for me, the best.


Well, it's definitely more humid being so close to Lake Ontario. On the plus side, I didn't have to wear lotion (Lotion's a daily requirement in Calgary) nor put on lip balm. On the minus side, heat waves and cold winters can become unbearable, I hear.


Calgary and Toronto both seemed to have a good mixture of people from various races. I did notice that there were more people of African descent in Toronto and less Filipinos, :-p.


Kudos to David and Lena Patrick for opening and operating The Linux Caffe in Toronto. Dave is one extremely amiable person. And he makes a mean panini and hot chocolate. I had a chicken, havarti and sun-dried tomato panini. The hot chocolate had a generous helping of cinnamon and a hint of ginger. More than how good it tastes, however, is the fact that the recipe for it is open source! Yes, the recipe is available for anyone to use. It's also developed with feedback from the community. Open Source in action! Yay! (as Sacha would say)

We practically hijacked the whole place Saturday evening. There were about 13 (Oooh!) of us and we had a merry time chatting and arguing till Dave had to kick us out at 11PM.

There's another thing: stores close much, much later in Toronto! I hope in time, Calgary will do so as well. Most shops and stores close at 9PM in the Summer and earlier in winter.


Sacha and I finally got some alone-time on Sunday evening. We just walked along the streets of downtown until we wended our way to the lake front. We casually strolled long the harbor and caught up with each other's recent goings-on. While Internet communication is nice, getting a chance to talk face-to-face is oodles nicer.


The churches are huge! You could fit the cathedrals here in Calgary inside the ones in Toronto.

I passed by CityTV's station on Queen St. and John. Also saw MuchMusic's open studio. It was around 5PM so they were doing their MuchInDemand (I think it's called) show then.

They have thin-crust pizzas! Heck, practically all the pizza parlors there served thin-crust pizza. I can't seem to find one here in Calgary that does it that way. Bummer.

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9:40 pm - Toronto Visit
First and foremost, I suppose I should blog about my Toronto visit.

6 years in Canada and this was my first visit to the east side of Canada. My friend, sachachua, celebrated her birthday over the weekend and I thought I'd use some of my carefully saved Rewards points for a round-trip flight there.


I arrived on Friday at 2:30 PM in Toronto. Sacha surprised me by coming over to pick me up. My heroine! The tables turned around quickly when she couldn't find me, so I to sit tight and had to go around the huge airport to try to find her.

We took the Airport Express back to downtown Toronto and got off at The Royal York. We walked a couple of hundred meters to the hostel.

Now, this was my first time to stay at a hostel and, though I had some inklings, I wasn't sure what to expect. It is now my opinion that hostelling is a God-send! And the Hostelling International hostel in Toronto is a very nice place. Right smack in the middle of downtown Toronto.

I stayed in a room with five double-decker beds (for a maximum capacity of 10 people in that room). The atmosphere in the lobby was very warm and at the same time festive. They had a pool table, a foosball table and several computers for Internet access. They also had wifi for wireless Internet access, but I couldn't get my computer to connect (something to do with NetworkManager not working).

I met a whole lot of people there from various countries. Some came from Japan. A couple came from Ireland. I also met a couple of delegates from the local AIDS Conference. Played pool with four guys from various places in the UK (Mark, Wayne, ?) who were on their way that afternoon to their next stop, Calgary! :).

All in all, a positive experience.


On my first day there, Sacha took me wall-climbing at a place call Rock Oasis near the corner of Front and Bathurst. Sacha blogged about it, as well. This was to be my third time to take the Introduction to Wall-Climbing tutorial. The first time was in Manila with sheldonjr. The second was back in Calgary at the University of Calgary Outdoor Centre. Each session was separated by at least a year of non-rock-climbing so I ended up forgetting how belaying (and the communication involved) was done.

I picked it up real quick the third time, though, and pretty soon Quinn (my climbing partner) and I were happily scaling walls. I did a couple of 5.6's and 5.7's before my forearms finally gave up. There would come a point when my arms just wouldn't pull me up any more no matter how hard I commanded them. Ah well, there will be other times. I'll make sure of that. And there was no point of pushing things past exhaustion. At my age, I'm more liable to end up in injury. Quinn's a great wall-climbing partner. We kept each other going for more.

Toronto & Calgary

There are many similarities and differences between Calgary and Toronto. Toronto's pretty similar, in fact, to Calgary but on a wider and bigger scale. The churches are bigger, Chinatown is bigger, the buildings are taller and there are more public transport vehicles plying the streets. Obviously there were more pedestrians on the roads of the downtown area as well. I never did get to visit the urban residences of uptown Toronto so all I can compare are the downtowns.

I never thought I'd say this, but it seems that Calgary is heading towards the problem that is urban sprawl. The reason I never thought I'd say that is that prior to visiting Toronto, the only other major cities I've immersed myself in are Metro Manila, San Diego, Los Angeles and San Francisco. In those areas, what turned me off from the consideration of living there are the seeming gaps between places of interest. The people seem disconnected and you'd really, really need a car if you wanted to do more than muck around at home. Not so in Calgary. Many things are accessible by Calgary Transit or biking. In fact, there are many modes of transport for moving in and around Calgary. It was only in Toronto that I realized that things could be better.

There's just a lot of places to go to in downtown Toronto. There are a lot of food places, shops, activity places, etc. that one could practically stay downtown and have everything within walking, biking or street car reach. In contrast, Calgary's downtown is much smaller and has less points-of-interest. So though we have a lot of things going for us in Calgary, many of these would require getting on the bus or taking a car.

My personal ideal situation is for Calgary to grow its downtown without making a mess of it. If we could somehow have this huge, enclosed pavilion where shops and establishments (like wall-climbing places, movie studios, bowling alleys, restaurants or yoga studios) could set up, that would be fantastic. It might grow up to four stories high and four or even more floors down. Perhaps it could be shaped like a circle or a cylinder going down. That would take care of harsh winters.


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12:56 am - Resolution
Well, I just got back from Toronto where I visited my friend, Sacha sachachua. I'll be blogging about the events there as well as a lot of ideas that came up while I was in Toronto, but this entry is actually about the fact that I've made a decision to get back to blogging again.

Sacha and I were chatting along the beachfront facing Lake Ontario one night and I told her the reasons why I haven't been blogging much lately (as much as I wanted to). In summary, I just don't like the current blogging systems and would wait till I actually wrote my own blogging system before I started blogging. Unfortunately, I've been busy these past months and writing blog software doesn't happen overnight. So she convinced me to blog now and use the entries here as the raw material to transfer for when my blog system actually goes up. Can't argue with that logic.

So I'll start blogging ... later after I catch up on some sleep.

current mood: tired

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Thursday, April 20th, 2006
9:51 am - Congratulations!
Congratulations to leismd for finally being able to do the Butterfly!

First the tumble turn. Now the Butterfly. :)


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Tuesday, January 31st, 2006
4:14 pm - One Person's Dust Motes is Another's Miracle
Came across this story from someone else's post. I liked the Catholic priest's remark. Of particular interest is the statement: "People are thirsty for fulfillment! And I would see the desire to go see the alleged virgin as a manifestation of this, that we're hungry.”

current mood: at work

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Tuesday, January 17th, 2006
12:26 am - Blonde Joke
Haven't posted in a long while. I came across this "Dumb Blonde joke" and I thought it was the best blonde joke ever. Hilarious.

Edit: Updated link

current mood: cheerful

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