Saturday, February 28, 2009

The Melancholy of Ma'am Kristine: On Looking Down

I have a strange obsession whenever I'm staring out of high windows or looking down from a high place: I always feel like throwing something at the people below me.


It's mostly because I want them to look up. I want them to realize that I can see them. I want them to realize that even if they are alone on the street, I'm watching them from above. We all have a tendency to limit ourselves to what we consider to be "our level". The world is much bigger than that.

Whenever I'm out in the open, walking beside tall buildings, I also have the compulsion to look up at the windows above. I often wonder if people are watching. I often wonder if there are people like me who like to look down. Maybe I have a god complex. I don't know. But looking down from above kinda sets things in perspective in an almost religious sense.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Laws of Herman : A guide for the perplexed graduate student doing research

This is something Dr. Saloma read to us during Physics 290. I thought it was an appropriate post given the deadlines looming over everyone's heads. I also enjoyed it very much.

Taken from Following the Law
by Irving Herman, which is posted at


Your vacation begins after you defend your thesis.

2. In research, what matters is what is right, and not who is right.

3. In research and other matters, your adviser is always right, most of the time.

4. Act as if your adviser is always right, almost all the time.

5. If you think you are right and you are able to convince your adviser, your adviser will be very happy.

6. Your productivity varies as (effective productive time spent per day)1,000.

7. Your productivity also varies as 1/(your delay in analyzing acquired data)1,000.

8. Take data today as if you know that your equipment will break tomorrow.

9. If you would be unhappy to lose your data, make a permanent back-up copy of them within five minutes of acquiring them.

10. Your adviser expects your productivity to be low initially and then to be above threshold after a year or so.

11. You must become a bigger expert in your thesis area than your adviser.

12. When you cooperate, your adviser's blood pressure will go down a bit.

13. When you don't cooperate, your adviser's blood pressure either goes up a bit or it goes down to zero.

14. Usually, only when you can publish your results are they good enough to be part of your thesis.

15. The higher the quality, first, and quantity, second, of your publishable work, the better your thesis.

16. Remember, it's your thesis. You (!) need to do it.

17. Your adviser wants you to become famous, so that he/she can finally become famous.

18. Your adviser wants to write the best letter of recommendation for you that is possible.

19. Whatever is best for you is best for your adviser.

20. Whatever is best for your adviser is best for you.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Re: 99 Things Girls Should Know about Guys (Part 2)

At the behest of Sir Kiko, I Googled "signs" and "what girls should know" and this was one of the lists that came up. One damn long list.

Grabbed from God, Gold, Glory


6. Guys may be flirting around all day but before they go to sleep, they always think about the girl they truly care about.

Around the time we got together, I asked Ivan how he knew he loved me. He said something like this: "Because you're the first person I think about when I wake up and the last person I think about before I fall asleep." I'm sure, though, I haven't been the last thing on Ivan's mind before he goes to sleep for at least a while now. He's been thinking about his thesis (at least, I hope he is). That's what's most important to him at the moment, and I don't really mind.

It's funny, really, how the things most important to us at the moment are apparent in the thoughts that first enter our heads at the start of the day and the thoughts that preoccupy our minds during our last waking moments. It doesn't matter what filled our days, but the things that really most concern us are evident at that bridge between consciousness and unconsciousness. So, male or female, if we're at that stage in life that romance is most important to us, then this is probably true.

7. When a guy really likes you, he'll disregard all your bad characteristics.

I like the Disney channel, I like classical music, know nothing about pop culture, and am constantly tripping over my own feet. Ivan, dearest to my heart, has had to put up with these things and then some for over seven years. Do you really think he disregards them? No, he doesn't. If you truly love a person, you help them better themselves. Love is not blind, it sees quite clearly. But love doesn't see faults or shortcomings, it sees the room for improvement that could make things even better.

8. Guys go crazy over a girl's smile.

I know two guys who were once gaga over this girl, so long as she didn't smile. "Pangit ngipin niya e," one of them explained when I asked.

Seriously, guy or girl, your smile is always your best face.

9. Guys will do anything just to get the girl's attention.

A few days ago, Sir Kiko and I were talking and I mentioned some of the things guys did for me to get my attention. I was in high school when a guy first tried to get my attention (or, rather, affection). He put me on a three-way conference call with one of his friends who "opened up" the topic. Then, he told me in a shy awkward way that he had a crush on me. I don't mind things like that. Crushes are quaint things that make you feel good with little consequence. Now, the more...uhm...fervent ones had more devastating results. One guy called me every night so he could hear my voice. The same guy followed me around singing "I'll Be" (which is why I learned to hate that song). This other guy kissed my hand and asked if he could "keep me" (Casper, is that you?). Cake-guy gave me pastries then sent a friend to get my celphone number so he could get "acquainted" with me over text. But the one who succeeded did it oh-so-simply. He walked up to me and said 'hi'.
Sir Kiko pointed out something that I realized was true. On another girl, the tactics that failed on me would have worked. The main problem here is that I'm not romantic. I'm painfully cerebral so you have to be able to pique my brain in order to be able to pick me up. Tip: You don't have to resort to extreme and ridiculous acts. Approach the girl, find out what makes her tick. THEN ask her out. The problem is, while guys would probably do "almost anything" to get a girl's attention, they don't do what are, to me, the best things to do: be yourself and be upfront.

10. Guys hate it when you talk about your ex-boyfriend.

Interesting thing about this is that while guys don't like hearing about the other guys in their lady's life, girls are often interested in their lover's past loves. I think I'll explore this topic more in a different post. LOL.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Re: 99 Things Girls Should Know about Guys (Part 1)

At the behest of Sir Kiko, I Googled "signs" and "what girls should know" and this was one of the lists that came up. One damn long list.

Grabbed from God, Gold, Glory


I just felt like reacting to them. There are 99, so I plan on doing these in batches of 5s or 4s. I'm a girl, so my reactions are just opinions and not facts, and yes, this is a disclaimer.

1. Guys don't actually look after good-looking girls. They prefer neat and presentable girls.

Ivan once told me, "There is no such thing as an ugly girl, but there are lazy ones." And, I actually agree. Let's face facts, with the right accessories, clothes, and cosmetics, any member of the fairer sex can become attractive. I don't think there's an actual preference for neat and presentable girls, a hot sexy mama is a hot sexy mama even when she's covered in mud (hence the percentage of the male population so into mud wrestling). But if you're not blessed to be one of the gorgeous clones of Hollywood A-listers, good grooming always helps you in the race for a partner, regardless of gender.

And remember, according to some scientific studies, the sense of smell is the one most linked to emotion. It's also one of the first indicators of genetic compatibility. So if you can't make yourself look good, at least try to smell good.

(I think I should take my own advice. LOL)

2. Guys hate flirts.

I don't think guys actually hate flirts. I think they hate it when someone they find unattractive flirts with them. No one wants to be stuck with the girl in Silvertoes. But, if the girl who flirts with him is a hottie, I don't think he would mind the ego boost.

The problem with flirting is that we have different definitions of it. For me, flirting is a form of intellectual foreplay, some people think those who are being kind and generous are flirting. (Gods, yes! A person can be nice without ulterior motives. Jeez! Grow up from your Neanderthal-selves, people! We're not just about sex anymore.) It can be extremely frustrating when you realize that the person you thought was into you isn't into you at all. So, I think the key here is consistency and not sending mixed signals. And bear in mind that flirting does not require commitment. Some guys are annoyed by girls who flirt with them but have no plans of hooking up with them. But, dudes, it happens. Flirting is an ego boost for the ladies, too.

Come on. Turnabout is fair play.

3. A guy can like you for a minute, and then forget you afterward.

I think this depends on the guy and your definition of "like". I think, on this matter, guys are wired a little differently than girls. A guy who sees a fairly attractive girl, and there are a lot of those in their collective minds, would most probably like her the moment he sees her. But, even if he finds the girl attractive, that doesn't mean he wants a relationship, right? Maybe he wants sexy time or maybe even just eye candy, but he's not exactly looking for a wife, yet.

This is kinda different from many girls who get crushes that last for years on end. I'm not sure, but I think some guy-crushes can last for, like, five seconds. Enough time for the girl to exit his line of vision.

4. When a guy says he doesn't understand you, it simply means you're not thinking the way he is.

And when a girl says she doesn't understand you, it means the same thing. Life wouldn't be half as interesting if men and women completely understood each other, so let's just enjoy the confusion.

5. "Are you doing something?" or "Have you eaten already?" are the first usual questions a guy asks on the phone just to get out from stammering.

Concern does not always equate to "at a loss for words". I think this is one of those entries in this list that is more "99 things girls should know about me ('me' being the author of the list)" than "99 things girls should know about guys". It's true, though, that small talk is often used when you're not sure of what you can talk about, but these questions (and a few others like "How was your day?" and "How are you?") are sometimes asked as forms of common courtesy or actual interest.

Here's a tip: don't call a girl if you can't think of anything to talk about. Don't expect her to carry the conversation, that's just annoying.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Melancholy of Ma'am Kristine: Login-logout

Government is notorious for creating red tape. Being someone who works for two government agencies, I wasn't expecting to escape these unnecessary burdens. But really, my dear PLP administration, this takes the cake.

A memo was released that faculty members not only have to time in at the bundy clock, we also have to log in at the faculty room. And, it doesn't end there, the class officers of the class we're attending will also take note of the time we arrived.


Because, apparently, some teachers would time in at PLP, then leave the campus to teach at other schools. Now, I don't really mind this. Also, there are rumors about some teachers who ask co-teachers to time in for them. Being the person who does neither, I'm not really bothered by this minor inconvenience, but in my humble opinion, I think it's incredibly pointless and impractical. Now, if I'm just being stubborn or difficult, you're free to correct my opinions.

1. If these people had the gall to cheat the bundy clock, then they would have the gall to cheat the logs. If there's a will, there's a way. Increasing the number of steps only increases the number of steps to violate. Red tape does not create discipline. You're just making it more difficult for those who aren't even cheating. It's easy to ask someone to sign in for you just as it's easy to ask someone to time in for you. And, we're teachers, for crying out loud! If we wanted to cheat the log the students have, we could easily threaten them with our authority. You're just giving the students unnecessary grief. Which takes me to point two.

2. This is a problem of the faculty and administration, not the students. Don't get the kids involved. It will just create new possibilities for conflict between teachers and their students. Either side could abuse the log. A student with a grudge can mark their teacher late. A teacher could easily force a student to mark him or her to be on time.

3. The processing of salaries are slow enough as it is. The logs just create more confusion in the calculation of the salaries. More confusion means slower processing. Remember how we didn't get our salary for November until late January? Prepare to wait even longer if this takes effect.

I can think of more reasons to protest this, most of which come from how it was implemented, how little (read: no) consultation was done and how poorly information was disseminated, but I'll keep it to these three. Personally, I don't think the problem can be solved this way. I think this is more a problem of poor relations between the administration and the faculty. Also, this is a problem of politics and status quo. A person who is aware of cheating cannot tell on his or her co-teachers because of fear of being treated like a traitor. There is no incentive for honest, as well. The administration, instead of sanctioning the majority for the sins of the few, should provide incentives for consistency in performance, instead. This just creates resentment.

And, really, do we need even more of that, right now?

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Makahiya

The flower of the Mimosa pudica is a lovely spray of color on an infinite expanse of grass. Its bright color stands out prettily against the verdant hues of the surrounding natural carpet. But when you place the Makahiya amongst flowers like calla lilies, roses, and sunflowers, it becomes a weed. Small, fragile, and muted in color, while it does not cease to be a thing of beauty, it suddenly becomes plain and ordinary.