Counting Potatoes

Quirky Observations, Opinions and Theories on Life

Dec 11, 2010

The Perfect Last Bite

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For some people, eating is much like refueling a car.. they gas up and speed out - doing whatever it is they were doing before the meal..

And yet for some - eating is an exercise in philosophy - an affirmation of life - a journey to a higher state of being culminating in the perfect last bite..

It may be the choicest chicken skin of a piece of fried chicken [chicken ass for me], bits of buttered assorted veggies with a piece of beef with gravy on top or a representative last piece of a great burger - no matter what it is, it's the summation of a meal and losing it to someone else [like someone grabbing the choicest last piece of chicken skin] could ruin the whole experience..

On deeper reflection, the perfect last bite is much like what most people envision for their lives - some call it saving the best for last such as traveling around the world with a loved companion after retirement.. Some call it the bucket list like doing the things you've always wanted to do but never got around to doing.. and yet some call it the last hurrah - a cry of defiance against mortality and time..

The funny thing is.. most people never get around to savoring their perfect last bite.. Days merge into years and the years into decades and we live our lives always thinking that there will be enough time to fix everything right for that last bite.. before you know it, its too late.. too late to undo the things you've done.. too late to work for the things that really matters in the end.. too late to heal broken relationships.. too late for change.. life, it seems, isn't much like a meal and the best that you can do is to try your best to make each and every bite as perfect as possible.. should you be lucky enough to be given time for that perfect last bite - savor it because you're one of the chosen few..

Here's to a perfect last bite for everyone.. ^^

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Oct 9, 2010

Basic Needs

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2,000 years ago to about 20 years ago, when you were asked what basic needs were.. you go.. food.., shelter..., and clothing... and that was that.. teacher gives you that attaboy look.. you feel a warm glow inside.. and we all keep telling ourselves that yeah.. just in case the world goes to the shitters.. As long as there's food, shelter and clothing, then everything's A-ok..

then again.. someone from 3000 years ago or earlier might beg to disagree.. the bushmen living somewhere in africa might go uh-uh... nope.. we might not be able to live without food.. but we can go without shelter and without clothing pretty fine.. gramps and his gramps before him went around butt naked all the time and that was fine, they sure as hell didnt need a sissy thing such as a roof over their heads too.. for them.. Basic needs are as follows... Food, food and more food... preferably those that dont bite our balls off.. so clothing and shelter? these are just additions when man became a bit more civilized..

should you ask now.. What are the basic needs? Most would probably still automatically reply.. Food, shelter and
clothing! and yeah.. We'd all think that the answer's pretty much the same.. think deeply though.. Is it?

And since clothing and shelter, as discussed above, are more of a matter of convenience than survival anyway.. one cannot be blamed if this list is stretched a little to 5 basic needs.. or maybe 10.. or 20.. the list is pretty much busted anyway.. and the fool who made it didnt even think of water, he he..

Hmm... So what do we add?

1. Toilet with flush and running water: try crapping in the dirt and wiping your ass with leaves for a month and you'll know what i mean.. And if you dont want to include this in your basic needs list, well its your ass and your crap.

2. Computer and internet: It's funny.. 20 years ago the world just got along fine without computers and the internet.. Take out these two today and it would be like cutting the heart out the planet.. Personally i think i'd go crazy within a month without a computer and an internet connection.. first and foremost.. No job.. so i'd go hungry within a month.. 2 days after that i'd probably be eating our dog.. secondly.. no investments.. bye bye websites.. that pretty much fucks up my future.. lastly, no entertainment.. no online communites to mess with.. no online video clips.. no blogs to read.. no japanese.. ehem... Mangga..

3. Cigs: most people will define time as 'before armageadon' and 'after armageodon' .. For me it would probably be ' life before cig supply runs out' and 'life after cig supply runs out'.. some people will have similar quirks.. beer.. junkfood.. sushi.. And they'll probably have their own doomsday countdown.. in any case, you'll be able to distinguish them easily enough.. they'll be the walking twitching dead.. He he

4. Electric fan/aircon: God save me from a post doomsday world without electric fan or aircon.. O_o a week without it and i'd probably be reduced to a mumbling idiot with half my brains fried.. then again.. i could find a way to catch my own slaves.. Hook a car battery up to a threadmill machine, load the slaves and power the damn things using a power inverter.. He he.. Talk about people power!:D

5. Soap: imagine a world without soap.. Imagine living everyday with that slimy greasy feeling of being unwashed.. imagine being able to smell yourself before you sleep at night.. imagine your fingernails filling with body dirt everytime you scratch yourself.. now imagine being the first to raid a mall out of all its soap after doomsday.. tell me.. Aint soap a basic need? :D

6. And while we're at it, i might just as well add fastfood to the list. I've read post armageadon novels about humans subsisting on nanopills because all the animals have died.. Or remember the matrix where humans have to subsist on slimy oatmeal like goo? Aint for me! I'd rather be one of those toasted in the fireball than be a post doomsday goo eating human.. at the very least, i hope doomsday leaves the chicken alone.. cant imagine a world without fried chicken thighs and drumsticks... and wings..



This has turned out to be a pretty crappy list.. all the above things connotes that not pretty much have changed with the post doomsday world.. And I can still think of many more i'd like to add..

I think my list of things not included on the basic needs will be much shorter.. @.@

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The Senate is at it again... 'Investigating' yet another scandal that rocked the nation recently.. the surprise here is IF this circus actually goes somewhere.. remember the ZTE scandal investigation? How bout the fertilizer scam investigation? Or the Hello Garci scandal investigation? I remember all the posturing, the righteous anger and the memorable lines... Funny... but for some reason, I cant seem to remember how it all ended.. or even if they actually did something in the end to punish those responsible.. or if they actually found the persons responsible for the scam... O_o which is weird... its like watching American Idol for weeks and the show suddenly stops before the grand final...

In my previous post, i wrote that heads should roll and that those responsible for the bloody fiasco should be weeded out.. The senate investigation however is just plain ridiculous! O_o its like watching a bad movie with several characters vying for the top spot with each senator having his/her own director and script writer.. Do they even want to solve the problem??! Or are they just capitalizing on the scandal for their own political gain??!

Because in a Nutshell.. Here's how I see the problem... We fucked up big time in front of the world particularly Hongkong.. Several people died needlessly and so others are clamoring for justice and reforms..

Anything beyond this is plain politics, mudslinging and emotions running hot..

That said..

1. What the Fuck is the Sense in Asking for our President's resignation?? O_o his ass has barely warmed up his comfy presidential seat for God's sake! And no, Im not even pro noynoy [see my election posts].. And yeah.. He does have an irritating smile.. But resolving a hostage crisis isnt his job for God's sake! Running the country is!

2. Similarly.. What's the sense in asking the presidential spokesperson to resign too??! read his title again.. Presidential... spokesperson.. He speaks for the president! i dont see anything about handling a hostage crisis in his job description??? O_o

oh look.. The house is on fire! Fire the fucking gardener for God's sake! There.. Problem solved!

3. Same goes regarding the DILG secretary.. Why oh why is the senate grilling him like he's supposed to act like fucking Rambo or Bruce Willis or something??

Why didnt you think of the TV inside bus? Why didnt you think about crowd/media control? Why werent you there talking to the hostage taker??

Well senators... That's because he's not a fucking negotiator or a tactical assault commander You Idiots! We have experts trained and being paid to do those tasks! And a senator who expects a DILG secretary to second guess the supposed experts on the ground is plain fucking stupid and doesn't deserve his or her senatorial seat. Senators should know better!

Do they even know what the job description of a DILG secretary is??? As far as the constitution goes, the DILG is in charge of training and equipping the police, supervising fire, prison, public safety and local government unit functions as well as help in the legislation of peace and security matters . These are administrative matters! [and its a pretty long list that doesnt include hostage negotiations or ground command during a hostage crisis... what a surprise].. Or do you guys expect the DILG chief to be there meddling with the experts for every fire and prison outbreak too?? O_o

Tactical command of a hostage situation isnt and shouldnt be a part of a DILG secretary's job! As it should be.. would you rather have a politician bargaining for your life or a skilled hostage negotiator? Would you rather have a politician directing ground forces or someone who actually trained for assaults? See.. Pretty senseless to be asking the DILG sec those tactical questions now right?

The question for the DILG secretary should be.. Why wasnt our police force prepared to handle this kind of situation? Why wasnt the proper equipment available? What happened to the training budget? These are the things that a DILG secretary is actually responsible for remember??!

In that case, would you rather ask that question to the DILG Secretary who has been in office for 2 months (barely) or the DILG Secretary who has just completed more than 6 years sitting in the DILG Secretary's chair and spending its budget? Ex-secretary Puno, please take the stand!

Take out the politics, take out the posturing and machismo bullshit and here are the pertinent questions that should be asked and answered...

On a Tactical Standpoint:

1. Who was in charge of negotiating with the hostage taker? Why did he lose control of the situation?

2. Who was in charge of planning and coordinating the ground assault? Why was it executed so poorly?

3. Who was in charge of the equipment used for the assault? The negotiations lasted for more than 10 hours. Any equipment in any part of the Philippines could be airlifted to Manila in less than an hour.. So where the fuck were the night vision goggles, frame explosives, bulletproof vests, gasmasks, etc???

I know we're a poor country but we're not that poor! O_o

4. Who was the one in charge of crowd and media control? Why did he allow the crowd and the media to run amok??

5. Who the fuck ordered the arrest of the hostage taker's brother - the event which destabilized the whole situation?

6. Who was the overall ground commander at the scene? Why didnt he delegate crowd and media control and equipment procurement??

On an Administrative Standpoint:

1. Why didnt we have a trained SWAT team for this kind of situation?

2. Why oh why is the Standard Operating Procedure for this kind of situation so fucked up?

3. Where did all the equipment needed to do the job right go??

4. What do we need to do to ensure this mess doesnt happen again?

5. How can we be assured that steps are being taken to remedy this situation??

Find the answers to these questions and we'll be more than halfway in solving the problem!

Which brings me back to my point.. Where did we fuck up??

First and foremost, its commendable that the ground commander has said that he takes full responsibility for the fiasco as he should.. More than anything else, the result of the hostage crisis was a tactical failure where the ground commander and the negotiator had full control of..

Considering that the president, the press secretary, the DILG secretary and the PNP chief have just taken over their posts.. Could we really blame them? Fair is fair, walk in their shoes for a mile and see if anyone could've done any differently.. If this happened 2 years from now then its an entirely different story.

Fact is, unless you're gifted with second sight, how will you know that you need to address the country's capability to respond to a hostage situation on top of the gazillion other fuck ups that the present administration has inherited?

and on hindsight.. Can we really expect those guys who stormed the bus to do any better given that they're just a product of a corrupt system where the necessary funds more often than not ends up in the pockets of corrupt politicians??

Politicians that we ourselves voted to office.. because they had the right name.. because they sounded right on television.. Because we just didnt think about our decisions hard enough..

The blame trickles down.. and shameful as it is to admit as we have all been initially blinded by emotions.. Some of it ends up on the front door of each end everyone of us..

Yes, we deserve better.. but to achieve this, WE need to BE BETTER.. better voters.. Better citizens.. Better guardians of our democracy..

Let the buck stop here.. Let us all take stock of our shortcomings as citizens of this country and ask ourselves.. Did we really deserve better on that particular situation?

More importantly...

What can we do to deserve better in the future?

... And oh yeah.. Let's nail every corrupt politician we find to the cross.. Corruption kills and they should pay the full price for their actions..

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1. Spend more than 10 hours sitting on your ass without asking for help from a well equipped, well trained team that could've done infinitely better!

2. Hostage taker opens bus door.. clear shot to at least disable the hostage taker .. sniper doing something else.. nice..

3. No media lockdown whatsoever.. Hostage taker has real time updates of what the police are doing should he use a portable tv, a tv capable phone, a radio or an internet capable phone. wait.. isnt there a TV on the bus too! really great.. hostage taker advantage = 10, police = 0..

talk about fanning the flames! the local media is just as guilty for the deaths of the hostages as the hostage taker in this case.. I hope there's a special place in hell for them..

4. an yeah.. while you're at it, have every tom, dick and harry from the media muddle up the negotiations by allowing them to interview the hostage taker by phone during the crisis!

5. No intel, police have no idea whatsoever how many hostage takers there are and what their firearms and positions are. directional sound recorders? infrared/thermal sights? nope.. too techie for these guys..

6. No Experts: a bus technician would've advised the police about the button that opens the door, the mechanism of the rear door, alternate entries or observation areas inside the cargo compartment, wiring blueprints that could've disabled the TV inside the bus, etc.

7. Shoot the tires of the bus where hostage taker and hostages are making the situation more desperate for the hostage taker without any clear advantage for the police. How do you plan to negotiate with the hostage taker when you've just shown your intentions??!!

8. Bring the hostage taker's brother to the scene to aid the negotiator then proceed to harass him in front of international media and within sight of the bus enraging the hostage taker and destabilizing the situation. So much for negotiations..

and when hostage taker demands that his brother be released or else.. ignore it.. sweating man on the ground is infinitely more important than man with gun and hostages on bus..

9. Make an assault on the bus with media reporting every move like its fucking pinoy big brother.. yeah right.. so much for the element of surprise too..

10. Assault the bus with no clear and concise battle plan beyond opening the door.. Really a winning combination.. let's open the door and shoot down the hostage taker.. greaaat...

11. Dont use tactical mirrors that could've avoided the scene where the cops crouched together liked scared children in front of the bus. A tactical mirror could've let the police see inside the bus without undue risk.

12. On top of that, No one bothers with controlled plastic explosives on this one to breach the bus.. No flashbangs or night vision either which could've given immense advantage to the police.. noopee.. they prefer it ala Chuck Norris style with axes and handguns..

13. Lose the element of surprise further and more valuable time by using an axe to breach the bus' windows and door.. saw a SWAT member with a beer belly trying to squeeze in the bus too.. really inspiring..

The door of a bus is designed to withstand 50Gs of instantaneous force or more. A hammer will do nothing to break it in one hit. There's an emergency lever under the bus that can be used to open the door. Nobody knew about it. Instead, they proceeded to hammer all sides of the fucking bus like it's a pinata.

14. After all the element of surprise is lost beyond all hope, dont think of shining a bright searchlight in front or side of bus to at least shed some light on the situation inside the bus and give police situational advantage because it blinds the hostage taker and lets the police see the situation inside.. but nope.. these guys would rather play pin the tail on the donkey..

15. Realize after 30 minutes that the door can be forced off by using a chain connected to a moving car..

16. Of course if they'd consulted a bus expert, they could've known that a bus door opens more easily when pushed inwards not pulled outwards. In this case, a battering ram could've done much better. as it happened, the rope snapped.. what a surprise..

17. Multiple simultaneous entries: Abandon the bright but frustratingly late idea when rear emergency door is forced open.. Apparently one open door is infinitely better than two for these police.. Two entries could've given the police a positional advantage in a firefight inside the bus but no.. One door is enough..

18. with the police having no situational advantage whatsoever, proceed to give more advantage to the hostage taker by turning on the vicinity lights.. riiiight.. have a marching band play while you're attacking the bus while you're at it too..

19. Think of the tear gas idea after a gazillion minutes of trying to hack down the bus doors with axes.. then proceed to storm bus without gas masks.. tear gas advantage nullified.. nice..

20. Speaking about the element of surprise, assault teams in this kind of situations have to assume that they only have a few seconds or a few minutes at most to take down the hostage taker and secure the place. Why? because the moment from which the hostage taker is made aware that an attack is ongoing to the time he is taken down could be spent shooting his hostages. Total time between initial assault to the death of the hostage taker = more than one hour... it was like watching a worms Armageddon game..

Luckily, some hostages lived through the nightmare.. not because of police competence, but because the hostage taker didnt kill them all even though he was given more than 30 minutes by the police to do so..

Moreover, the hostage taker wasnt asking for a billion dollars and an escape helicopter! He was asking to be given back his job and benefits! If the negotiator and the government at least gave some hope to the hostage taker that his grievances would be listened to, there would've been no dead hostages and all the advantage would switch over to the police and the government AFTER the hostage crisis!

Is this the best our country's police forces can do???!! Are these the people that are supposed to protect us???!! Was this the best plan that our vaunted SWAT team could come up with???!!! I've played harder more well thought out counterstrike games with kids no more than 10 years old!!! Please please please make someone accountable for this bloody fiasco!!

So when its not an ordinary non aircon bus, we're out of luck... o_O

or maybe... this is the real behind the scenes training... o_O

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Jul 21, 2010

Frozen Train

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A term used in the novel im reading which describes a train stranded in the middle of nowhere because everyone who's supposed to be running it have decided to just abandon it along with all its passengers..

The novel is a story about the corruption of man's values, principles and morals. It tells the tale of a corrupt world's slow but inevitable journey towards anarchy and self destruction - of how the men of mind went on strike against those who preach about self sacrifice and the surrender of reason..

Frozen train.. For some reason, this brings to mind the countless filipino nurses, doctors, engineers and teachers building their futures not on our country but on distant lands.. It brings to mind promising new graduates boarding planes to build prosperous another country. Lastly, it brings into mind the long line of brains stretching off into the far future waiting for their own turn to jump off a sinking ship..

It's the exodus of brains.. the exodus of meaningful change.. The exodus of hope and dreams.. leaving behind a country ruled more and more by the fickle mob..

Frozen train.. In the novel, the men of brains came back only after the last light was extinguished in New York.

It would take much more than that to bring our best people back.

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