Last Friday, Sunshine (our loyal Shih Tzu), passed away. She is now in a better place. Really miserable weekend as there were events before her death that might have actually contributed indirectly to her untimely demise and I’m still kicking myself about it (I’d rather talk about it over alcoholic beverages than write soberly about it though). One thing that I’ve found that relieves me of the stress, grief and the guilt is to recount stories about Sunshine so that’s what I’ll do here as well. Just one story though so I’ll have other stories to tell when the inevitable drinking sessions come.
Sunshine’s origin story:

I think the first time that I’ve heard of Sunshine was 8 years ago, around March-ish 2008. My mom’s officemate was selling a couple of Shih Tzus (among them was Sunshine) and I was tempted at first but I ultimately declined as I don’t have the money. 
Fast forward to August 19, 2008, Claire’s dad suddenly died and it was truly heartbreaking for her as she already lost her mom when she was younger. I felt quite helpless as I watched her in agony and I just wanted to be there with her all the time, not that I can do anything to reduce the pain, but just to share in her grief. There were logistical issues though: we both have work and she lives in Marikina and I’m Makati-based so our time with each other is limited to dinner on every other day of the work week and Saturday. Also, seeing her on those schedules doesn’t address what I thought was the most important time that she needed someone to be with: when she gets home every night where there’s no work to distract her. 
My idea then was to give her a dog. Since college, she was already hinting on wanting to have her own dog and since funds were limited, I managed to give her just a dog stuff toy (pathetic but it’s the thought that counts). The perfect dog would hopefully be a good distraction and maybe a reason to smile once in a while. So I got my limited money then (just out of college and subsisting on minimum wage) and asked a bit more from my parents and resolved to get her the Shih Tzu that was offered to us before (it was cheaper compared to usual market prices for Shih Tzu).
There was a slight hitch though when we were getting Sunshine (she already had that name when I got her, which I thought was the perfect name considering the situation) was 6 months at that time and very much beloved already to her family – particularly to the daughter of my mom’s officemate. It was a bit awkward then when we fetched Sunshine as we were told that her owner (the daughter) was hiding in her room and cannot bear to see her dog go away. I dithered for a moment when I was told of the circumstances but thought that my need was greater and I pushed through with it.
Together with my high school friends (I forgot already why they were with me at that time), I delivered Sunshine to Claire’s house and the moment I saw her reaction – I knew immediately that that was one of the most brilliant moves that I’ve ever done in my entire life and I say that without any exaggeration at all (even until now). 🐶

Battle for Zendikar Prerelease!

BFZ Prerelease!

Had my BFZ Prerelease at Got Game Hobby Shop (where else?) last weekend. I attended the midnight prerelease where they always have food for everyone, and more importantly, it’s always the best attended prerelease for the past couple of sets already (as far as I know). I’m mostly an online player so I’m rarely at these live events but the regulars (and there are a lot of them, including my brother) seem to be a very tight knit group of players and that’s great. In total, I think a hundred players graced the PR and while the free food (home-made spaghetti, pizza and soft drinks) are a good incentive to go, my hunch is that players go here for the prizes. Usually it’s a pack per win but in this case, you get 4 packs if you don’t win anything and it only gets better as you win more. That’s just simply the most value in any PR that I know of, online, live, or even abroad. Speaking of win more, I finally performed decent in a Got Game PR!

My sealed pool is confusing, at least for me. None of my colors stand out. I always check out what my mythic and rares are and here’s what I got:

Cinder Glade, Lumbering Falls, Smoldering Marsh, Emeria Shepherd (PR card), Omnath Locus of Rage, Desolator Twin, and Exert Influence.

I wanted to play everything, at least all the non-lands (spoiler alert: I did play all of them including the lands). These cards also double as my bombs. The next thing that I checked out is my removal – and I had a lot. The problem is that they’re spread across four colors. I’m fuzzy in the exact numbers but here’s everything that I got as far as I can remember:

Clutch of Currents (2x), Gideon’s Reproach, Complete Disregard (2x), Sheer Drop, Touch of the Void, Smite the Monstrous, Exert Influence, Turn Against, and Grip of Desolation
(While Exert Influence and Turn Against are not really removal, they can really do two for ones with a bit of setup and both performed great in my deck.)

So with no primary color standing out, some decent bombs and my 4-color removal suite (and a healthy amount of greediness), I decided to go 5-color ramp. This was sealed so it will be a bit slower and less synergistic than draft – where possible speedy Ally strategies and synergies can be put to bear. I also thought that with this being a PR event, the general knowledge of the group about the set will be at its lowest point so there’ll be more durdling around than usual. I rounded out my deck with cheap defensive/efficient creatures (Snapping Gnarlid, Vile Aggregate), ramp (Eldrazi Skyspawner, Eyeless Watcher, Kozilek’s Channeler), fixing (Lifespring Druid, Blighted Woodland, Evolving Wilds) and card draw (Coastal Discovery). I was a bit worried for my creature count with most of my slots taken by removal already but the awaken cards helped in that regard. Finally, I decided to play 19 lands as I’ll be ramping into big stuff and I need to have space for all my color requirements – I had green at 8 sources while the other colors have 5-6 sources. The higher land count was also mitigated by the fact that some of those doubled as pseudo spells (Blighted Woodland, Skyline Cascade).

The games played out as expected, even the two color decks were clunky so my deck managed to survive early pressure and breakout in the end game. My only match loss came from a game where my opponent ingested my single island (had other blue sources but I can’t fetch them) and I lost with two Clutches and a Coastal Discovery on hand. While my double color/mana symbol spells gave me a bit of trouble, the slowness of the format provided some time for my fixing to get all my color requirements. Omnath was a beating as I managed to combo him with Evolving Wilds on the turn that I casted it resulting in an instant 15 points of power in the board. Casting Desolator Twin earned auto concessions and I even had a game where I blitzed my opponent using Clutches, Turn Against and Eldrazi Skyspawner. Fun times. 

So there’s my Battle for Zendikar PR experience. Enjoyed the Sealed deck experience so much (winning and free food makes it more fun) that I’ll be attending the PPTQ (BFZ Sealed format) this coming Sunday, October 11 at Got Game. Hope to see you there as well.😀

Tournament Report: PPTQ for PT Milwaukee

Me and my brother went to the Got Game-sponsored PPTQ for PT Milwaukee last Saturday and the reasons that made me go out of the house and play Magic at the GG shop are a.) the high prize pool (even though my chances of winning are non existent as the prizes are top 8 centric), b.) the great camaraderie at the GG community and c.) I missed the Got Game DTK Prerelease (with the patented free food and good company) and I wanted to make it up to myself by playing in a relatively big live event.
Unsurprisingly, I didn’t do well (I’ll detail my play mistakes later) but I had a blast playing my DTK-updated Sultai Whip Deck. I am quite familiar with how the deck works as I’ve used it during GP Manila and it actually feels stronger now with the addition of the new Sidisi but I needed to have constant playing time in order to not suck and I’m more of a Limited player when I’m on my MTGO account. I ended up at 1-1-2 drop but I’m not too disappointed since I wasn’t expecting much anyways and I lack practice. Here is the list that I played with Silumgar being replaced by Sould of Innistrad:
Enough preamble and on to the games!

Match 1: vs. Carl (my brother!) and his signature mono Green Devotion deck

Out of almost 130 players, I get to play with my brother! Talk about friendly fire. We actually had a couple of warm-up games and I actually defeated him quite easily there which was surprising – my midrange deck usually loses to decks that can go over the top and his Green Devotion deck can really be insane with its infinite mana and big monsters. The biggest change in my deck though is that it now has a tutor effect in the new Sidisi Undead Vizier and my singleton Crux of Fate can really wreck his board and pull me way ahead in the game. I proceeded to repeat our practice games in our official match games and I won comfortably in 2 games. My satisfaction in winning this match went a couple of notches higher when my brother told me later in the day that he got into top 8 and I was his only loss in the elimination round. He’s been playing really well in the past couple of weeks, winning a couple of Prerelease passes and a PPTQ pass as well so congratulations to him as well.
Match 2: vs Richmond Tan and his Abzan Control/PW deck 0-1
It’s not enough that I get to play with one of the end bosses in the tournament on my very first match so fate paired me up with THE end boss himself. Richmond Tan has probably one of the highest Planeswalker Points in the whole tournament (if not the highest) and I couldn’t have been more excited to play against him.  Of course, I was just cool on the outside.  (He won the whole PPTQ by the way so congratulations!)
I realized very early on in our match that my inexperience and my ineptness will cause me to lose this game (not taking away anything from his play skill, of course). I managed to Downfall his early beats and Crux the board to clear all creatures then he cast a Ugin. I smiled inwardly as I had a new Sidisi and can fetch for a Downfall but as it turned out, I discovered (while I was sifting through my deck) that I already used all my Downfalls which left me without no other decent alternative to fetch. On the succeeding turns, he managed to resolve two more planeswalkers (an Elspeth and a Sorin) and I didn’t have the good sense to move on to Game 2 right then and there so Game 1 dragged long enough that there wasn’t enough time to finish Game 2. I don’t think it needs to be said that he won Game 1 (but I said it anyway).
Match 3: vs RW Aggro
Game 1 and 2 showcased the consistency of the deck where I fetched my Whip of Erebos and trumped whatever fire an RW Aggro deck can throw at me. I won game one in relatively easy fashion as I stabilized quite early and had all the answers. He came out stronger in Game 2 and had Erase for my Whip so things got a little too tight but I’ve managed to survive his final Alpha strike wherein I was left with one life and he was down to a blocker for my lethal new Sidisi. Then my stupidest play happened. For anyone who’s watching, it was quite clear that my out is a removal spell to clear his single blocker (his board is too huge already to just combat it with life gain) but at that point in time, my brain froze and didn’t even know what it needed in order to win so when I drew a Murderous Cut… I outright conceded. Yep, that’s right. I conceded when I drew my out. It took all the self control that I had to not flip the fucking table and curse myself into oblivion. This play is reminiscent of my booboo in GP Manila where in I Scryed down a Downfall when there’s an Anafenza on the board but now, I don’t have the excuse of losing my deck minutes before my first GP match of the day. Match ended in a draw as we didn’t have enough time to finish the third game (due to Whip life gain).
Match 4: vs Abzan Aggro 1-2 Loss
I was really debating with myself if I will still be playing for this match. I just drew out of a very winnable game so I was pretty down but I heard that X-1-1 still has a chance to reach top 8 so I still played. As soon as I deduced that I was against Abzan Aggro, I knew that I’ll be at a disadvantage. My opponent won the roll and started first and laid down the beats hard and fast and I wasn’t able to keep up so I lost Game 1. He got stuck on two lands on Game 2 and the same happened to me on Game 3. Very anticlimactic but there it is.
I dropped out after that round and went home already. Some last thoughts:
– New Sidisi is really good for the deck, makes it more consistent, the big butt makes it immune to most burn spells and the death touch means it trades with almost everything and can’t be gang blocked profitably. Saw the deck list built by Todd Anderson at Starcity and just literally copied it except for the New Silumgar which I replaced with Soul of Innistrad (which I think is a mistake). The deck needs max Hero’s Downfall and more Thoughtseizes (only had 2 in my 75). Here’s an updated list by Reid Duke that he used to get 2nd place the Starcity invitational:
– Not to take anything from my opponents but I was committing errors like crazy. Spell sequencing, missing triggers, mental lapses, you name it, I did it. I wouldn’t have made those silly mistakes in MTGO but it just highlights how different F2F is from online. F2F is definitely harder as there really is a different type of pressure when you’re going against someone you can see compared to playing Magic in your pambahay against an unknown opponent.
– I sincerely regret not wearing my Got Game shirt in a Got Game event. I will wear one in my next GG event. One thing I noticed is that a fair amount of people are wearing a GG shirt which is nice and a very good sign of support and community building for Got Game. I’m excited for GG Manila and I swear I’ll wear a Got Game shirt there if my injury will let me attend.

(Over) Analyzing Kill, Fuck, Marry

Not safe for work or for minors. By the title alone, I think it can be deduced that there’ll be adult themes that will be discussed below so proceed at your own risk. You have been warned.


Last Friday, me and some officemates decided to get a drink to celebrate someone’s birthday. In the course of our drinking session, someone proposed that we play a drinking game: Kill, Fuck, Marry. Basically, each one in the group were given a choice of three people of the opposite sex (usually) which he or she will need to pair with the verbs Kill, Fuck, Marry. You can only associate one person to one action. Choices were decided upon collectively by the group. I found the game quite fascinating. I’m most likely overanalyzing it but there are realizations to be had while playing the game.


Deciding the set of people to choose from takes some skill to make it an interesting game. The default is to choose three undesirable people from the perspective of the chooser. However, there are cases wherein there’s a very obvious pick for Kill (usually the one who is the most detestable) and that takes some of the fun out of the game. The key, then, is to have a list of three equally undesirable people so that there’ll be no automatic choices and the reasoning for each will be more entertaining. “But I want to kill all of them” should be a common refrain.

A variation is to have a set of equally desirable people to choose from. It’s not as exciting as the default as two out of the three possible verbs are mostly positive in nature (Fuck and Marry, for those who are confused). The variation that I find most interesting though is when the choices are roughly equally close to the chooser ie. best friends from the opposite sex. I was pushing for this variation with the chooser and one of the choices sitting beside each other but wiser heads in the group prevailed over my plan to make things a bit more uncomfortable. Good thing that almost half of the group already left when this game was proposed or else things will get really uncomfortable (but infinitely more fun).

The pay-off in this game is when the choices are being cast and explanations for their preferences are being thrown around. It is quite interesting (at least for me) how people assign values to each of the three verbs. Kill is usually self explanatory and reserved for the most despised person but Fuck and Marry can be interpreted in a lot more ways so these needs to be expounded upon like with Fuck, is it just a one time thing or you’ll be obliged to do it over and over again? And when you Marry someone, can you Fuck that someone as well or you’ll just be Married and cannot Fuck?

Most of my friends used Marry as the most positive action that they’d want to do with somebody while Fuck is some sort of middle ground. On my turn though, I chose to Marry because of money, Fuck because she can’t have kids and Kill because I don’t want that person as a boss. Another of my friends chose Kill because she hates that person as a boss (a recurring theme, LOL), chose to Marry someone because he is not as stupid as the one she’s only willing to Fuck. Then there are the other reasons – she was chosen to be Fucked because of her reputed explorative and adventurous nature. Another one chose a guy to Fuck because he cannot get it up anymore and nothing will happen anyway. She chose to Marry someone because she’s closer to him than all the rest (an example where all the choices were her friends as well). 

What I realized is that people judge others in varying ways and perceptions about other people vary from one person to another. This might seem obvious but what it shows is that you can still find reasons to Marry/Fuck other truly unlikable people amidst a set of bad choices if you dig deep enough. A useful application for this type of thinking is when you’re trying to find the silver lining in one person; you’re bound to find something that you can like. Sure, choosing Kill for someone means you truly recognize the things that you hate about the person but I’d rather focus on the positive connotations for choosing people to Fuck or Marry.

Kneencident Report

It’s been more than a week since my kneencident (sorry, that’s the last time I’m going to use it) at our annual teambuilding event and I’m now diagnosed to have a torn ACL (already had an MRI). While not a life threatening affliction, it is quite the lifestyle changing injury. As I’ve touched upon on my last entry, you really have to strategize everything that you do and nothing would impress this realization to me more than my first week at work after my injury. While I have my wife and the relatively small confines of our condo unit to help me get around and do stuff, it is quite different in the office.
Telling stories. I’ve most likely told my sumo wrestling induced ACL tear story more than a hundred times already this past few days – doctors, MRI technicians, office groupmates, random people in the office that I meet, random people on the street, cabbies and Uber drivers just to name a few – and it’s actually okay as the story is so absurd it’s hilarious (I can take a fair bit of ridicule myself) and some even convey their genuine concern for which I’m truly grateful and thankful for. The challenge is in finding other ways in describing (I’m so tempted to use another term!) it as it has become a bit boring for me already. Of course, this is nothing compared to my other challenges.
Clothes. I’ve had more than a year of rocking tailor-made suits and I have largely gotten positive feedback for that (and it hides my bulk so effectively) so I don’t have any plans of letting my bum knee get in the way of that. Wearing multiple layers of clothing makes it more cumbersome to move around and my crutches keeps on getting stuck to my suit jacket. Closing my suit jacket button is not an option now as it looks funny with crutches crunching them all over. I’ve also opt to not wear an immobilizer because it does not look good with a suit and makes my leg look shorter than it is. 
Moving around. I’ve had to plan around buying lunch at the canteen (I need to use only one crutch so I can hold the food that I buy) or to any place where I anticipate holding other stuff. I had to switch to a backpack as using a stroller is not really possible when using both hands for crutches. I have to bring my entire backpack to meetings so I can just bring my laptop. It is not really hard per se but I have to think about those things now – quite a jarring change for me when before I can just come and go as you please.
Transportation. This has been expensive to say the least. I’ve completely negated the advantages of living just a few steps from the office when I’m taking cabs or using Uber in transporting myself to and fro the office. I tried to walk from the PLDT office to our condo in Rada (a good 700 meters) and I was stopping every so often as it is causing my right leg to cramp. Walking towards our Procurement team offices in RSC (around 500 meters) made me so hungry that I had to eat two Auntie Anne’s pretzels in our meeting. So the relatively cheaper and less stressful method for shuffling around is via Uber. Even then, I still have to wait for the car and standing up for a sustained period of time is quite uncomfortable for someone on crutches.
Using my iPhone. Probably the most disruptive element in all of this is my reduced capability in using my iPhone. Taking out my iPhone from my pants or suit pocket is the thing I do most frequently after breathing and having your hands full with crutches won’t really allow me to just whip out my phone for a quick glance at it. Taking a call while in transit is a pain and I actually have to sit down for longer calls. Answering quick emails or SMS is not an option anymore when I’m on the move. Checking Facebook or Instagram is only good when I’m sitting down. Checking the status of my Uber request means I have to let go of at least one of my crutches and lean on walls or abuse my left leg. All of these small inconveniences made me realize one thing…
Apple Watch and MacBook
The Spring Forward event of Apple featured their new Apple Watch product and I appreciate it now more than ever. I’ve never recognized the point of wearing a watch, especially if it’s just to tell time as my mobile phone will have that information already. What I realize now with my current PWD status is how convenient it might have been to have an easily accessible computer on your wrist where I can glance at and have interactive capability with bite sized information even if it’s limited to the most rudimentary of actions. Answering calls, responding to SMS, reading short emails and checking notifications from various apps all without pulling your phone out might be trivial when taken individually but the time and effort you save really adds up. I suspect that as the Apple Watch gains more functionality and the environment adapts to have more interaction with it, ordinary people will come to appreciate it more and its benefits will become more apparent. Being a naturally lazy person (and my currently bum knee) means I have a biased perspective about this but for people who just want to achieve efficient economy of movement this can be an invaluable tool. 
The positive thing in having a handicap is that it gives me a new perspective and makes me appreciate some things now more than I normally would. That’s the case with the new MacBook or more specifically, Apple’s seemingly crazy obsession to make their products as thin and light as possible. I lug around my office laptop (safely around 3x as heavy as the new MacBook at least) on my backpack now and it adds a tangible weight and level of discomfort in how I move about. Apple has a pretty good track record in keeping the plight of PWDs in mind with regards to the usage of their products and I’d like to think that the relentless march of progress towards thinner and lighter gadgets is influenced partly by this concern, apart from just being aesthetically pleasing (which is important as well). Yes, one port for everything (except for audio) and the somewhat limited specs seems insufficient but it’s lightness and very thin profile (and the developments made in this continuous quest) are worthy qualities on their own shouldn’t be underestimated.
Some pictures from my first PT session:


Broke. Back.

I’m broke.
I am literally broke. I’ve managed to rack an unbelievable amount in credit card fees the previous month. Beats Studio Wireless headphones and plane fare for eight people to a Hong Kong trip highlight our expenses. Nothing that we can’t pay for but we had to do a bit of skulduggery in order to make it work.

However, those expenses are nothing compared to what happened to my right knee. I broke my knee in our annual team building event with Alpha and it happened in my Sumo Wrestling match (so absurd). As I lunged at my opponent, my right knee snapped and it felt like someone kicked me at the back of my knee. Despite that, I even managed to win the first round. The second round was when all hell broke loose. I was quickly pushed back to the floor and after a Herculean effort to gain back positioning, my knees completely gave way and I was down on my back and in worse physical pain than I’ve ever had in my entire life. They removed the sumo costume and the pain actually subsided relatively quickly. At that point I tried to stand up on my own volition…but I quickly fell down again and reignited the pain in my knee. My vision is both bright and blurred and I wondered briefly if that was it for me already. Medics in the scene had to bring me up in a stretcher and I was whisked by an ambulance to the nearby clinic. I was on a crutch for the whole day and missed all my assigned activities. The initial diagnosis from the doctor at the Makati Med ER was a torn ACL but an MRI will need to be done in order for anything to be conclusive. I was also referred to a specialist for further tests and examinations. 
Living with a broken knee is hard. I quickly appreciated and missed the benefits of having full mobility. I have to relearn how to walk (with crutches). I now have a plastic chair in the shower room so I can take a bath while sitting down. I have to strategize on how to wear my underwear, shorts and pants (left leg first before right). Using crutches means I always have both of my hands full and I almost have no capacity to carry other things. It was a very sedentary lifestyle weekend for me and i didn’t like it one bit (surprisingly). I am continuously pushing the limits of my right knee and it’s been improving but I think the psychological impact will be the most challenging to overcome. I am quite afraid to feel that pain again and very hesitant to put pressure on my right knee. I also don’t like that I attract more attention now, especially the pitying sort; I don’t like to be treated specially.

I’m back.
Ironically, my current disability was what convinced me to come back to writing a blog. What else am I going to do, anyway? I’ve already exhausted my Magic: the Gathering packs and I’ve reread Harry Potter and the A Song of Ice and Fire series more times that I care to count. I can’t do my usual long walks to nowhere anymore. There were already a number of things that almost forced me to come back and maybe I’ll write about those things in future posts but a potentially life altering injury was what it took. My previous blog was a pretty good effort but doing it daily, in addition to family life and work, means something has to give and it was an easy decision for me to let go of the blog. It did not help that WordPress also fucked-up with the back-up of one of my entries. I was also lucky then because there were so many things happening that finding blog topics to write about is quite easy. There are still lots to talk about but it’s quite hard to write about those day in and day out. Daily posts also means that the time spent thinking about it is quite tight. A happy balance, I think, is a weekly post at least and an optional post with links and my personal commentary. Stuff that I will talk about will revolve about personal (like this post), technology-related with emphasis on mobile and telecommunications, select sports teams, movies, TV shows and books and/or a combination of all of the above. This way, I’ll have more time to think about what my topics will be and will mean that it’ll have a more refined commentary from me – basically the USP of this blog. 
To cap off this post (and to keep it on theme), I’ll just mention a number of things that happened the past few days:
  • I was back again to my usual habit of watching the livestream of the Apple Spring Forward event. For a change, the livestream went off without a hitch. I thought that they’ll just stick to discussing the upcoming Apple Watch but the keynote was jam-packed with so much more. I think I’ll have a future post to discuss some of the stuff they mentioned.
  • I was nominated, again, as the Product Manager of the Year for the Alpha team. This is my third straight year and I am deeply honored (and quite proud, even if I don’t show it that much) to bear that distinction. However, my future goal is to NOT make it back next year. 
  • Finally, I want to congratulate the Lady Eagles volleyball team for their 2nd straight championship against DLSU. Sixteen straight match wins for the season (no losses) and winning the championship in six straight sets is surely another record for the league and team. The men’s volleyball team also won the championship so that’s a double celebration for Ateneo volleyball.

Bigger iPhones = Biggest Revenue and Profit for Apple

This technically happened early Wednesday Philippine time but I’ve been anticipating the Apple earnings report on Tuesday so that’s the topic for this post.

  • Smart has been hurting for iPhone 6 stocks for quite some time already and now we have the proof of the massive demand for iPhones. There were talks of Apple artificially withholding stocks but I think that is baloney and without basis. This is anecdotal but it seems that Apple have a bit of production issues on the initial model (as opposed to the S iteration). Apple obviously planned for a big quarter as evidenced by having that much stock available but from what I’m seeing, there’s still not enough to go around.
  • Macs are also up and I think that’s solely because this is the best Mac line-up that Apple has ever had. They tend to always say that (lol) but compared to the lethargic Windows PCs that I use in the office, there’s no contest. Even my games run faster on my Mac. On the other hand, iPad is down year on year and it’s the same in the Enterprise. Most of our pipeline with tablet are on Samsung and Alcatel and that’s primarily because of price: the top seller is the cheapest model. I don’t know if there is already a preference for the Android OS itself but