I decided to check out Mt. St. Helen’s current activity and found up-to-date information on the US Geological Survey website. Well this is an active volcano, unlike Pinatubo which was dormant, when it erupted, it was a big one since being dormant, there was a lot of pressure build up inside before it blew up.

Intrigued by the people that maintain the site I went to the homepage and saw the satellite photography. And I then started to look at a lot more stuff that calls my interest.

Then I thought how cool it would be to work at USGS. And I checked out the job openings, and saw I can enter in a lot of them. There were a lot of openings for Chemist, Physical Scientist, and IT. And there were a lot of jobs for each category, if I don’t qualify in one, there are a lot more. Salary sounds good too.

I can if I wanted to, but I decided not to at the moment. You never know how much it will eat of my time in the future. For every movement the earth makes, that is something significant to USGS and I might be required to be there all the time when something happens. That may sacrifice time with my family in the future. Although I believe I’ll love the job, I still love my family a lot more. I know there are a lot more opportunities out there that I can maximize my time with my family.

Filing Taxes

The first time I needed to pay taxes when I was working for SGS Philippines. I was a quality analyst/chemist there and the HR was pretty cool in handling all the paper work for my taxes, all I needed to do is check it out and sign. I never really understood how to file taxes and the people at SGS was cool.

My second job was teaching college chemistry subjects at DLSU while taking up my master’s degree in Chemistry. When it was time for taxes, I just consulted my colleagues that have the same employee rank as me with the same salary, and copied their forms since our forms would be pretty much the same. And I ever really understood everything.

I then went into business. My first business was the now closed computer shop Click Me! Computer Sales and Rental Service. My clients needed official receipts and I to be official, you need to process this with the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR). After 3 months of running the business, I received a letter from the BIR stating that I have not been filing my taxes. And I need to appear at their office at a certain date and failure to do so, was some number of days imprisonment and a cash penalty.

I arrived at the BIR office with no one being accommodating, no one helping you, and everyone you ask, will point you to ask someone else. There was a general information table but there was seldom someone there. After doing nothing for about an hour, I finally saw someone on the information counter and started to ask about my taxes. The person was totally not accommodating, was not explaining things well. So basically I just ask what are the list of things I need to submit and I’ll just come back, and hoping I get to ask someone else I know who knows how to do all of this. My company ended up availing the services of an accounting firm. And even up to now, my company is still availing the services of an accounting firm.

In 2003, I taught various web related subjects, various computer graphic software usage and PC networking and troubleshooting. And Lheng who was of the accounting department, pretty much handled everything.

Now in the US, I was needed to file my Income Tax Return statements. There is a Federal and a State income tax. Federal is basically what everyone pays, and for the State is basically, the taxes you pay only in the state where you are. With my experience with taxes in the Philippines, it was always a pain filing anything tax related. So many fields to fill up on various forms. I was never able to do it alone. So at the back of my head, I had this feeling of dismay since I had to study how to file my taxes returns. And if I have some accounting firm do it, I was worried about the cost again.

Then here comes along the software H&R Block’s TaxCut. After opening the software for the first time, it just asked a bunch of questions. The questions had easy to find answers. Just answered everything, it was not a quick process, but it was easy.

From the answers you give, if fills up the required forms you need to submit. And once done, it prints out the official forms you will submit, fill up with the correct information and all you need to do is sign and mail. Now that is one major big difference on how I did things here and how I did it in the Philippines.

New Team on Monday, Logo Approved, Laptop, Work

At work, we are grouped in teams. A designer, a builder, a writer and we do nothing but websites. Starting monday all designers will be on one team, all builders or Production Assistants will be another team and all writers another team too.

I’m not going to comment on this, but I guess the people happy about it are those that are not happy with their team. And the people not happy about it, are those that like their team.

Logo approved. 3rd logo was chosen. Check all three!

I didn’t post what laptop I got. That’s because I didn’t get any yet, but I believe I am getting John’s Dad’s laptop.

Work, work, work… SEO for Martal Exterminators will be done once I get the content. Logo approved for, I might make it 3D. San Diego Taekwondo needs some building for the inside pages. Graveyard Chefs initial sample design needs to be done too. And follow up on all these hosting deals. Reminds me of the demo account I need to setup for Ivan.

What laptop to buy…

After thinking on my trip to the Philippines…

I thought of buying a laptop. So I can bring my work with me, and even work on the long plane trip. Be more productive on lost time.

But I really do not have much money, the plane ticket is so expensive. I even searched for the best deal I can get for plane tickets, regardless of airlines and stopovers and not landing at the Centennial airport in the Philippines which is way better than the other terminal in MNL.

So I searched online for a good laptop deal with some low monthly payment. My first decision was if I will get an iBook/Powerbook or a Windows Notebook. I’m totally sold out with the power of the Mac, but after thinking of it, I will settle for Windows and will just start of with a MacMini for my use at home. But I’ll buy the MacMini when I come back from the Philippines. The my other desktop will run Linux.

Now that I have decided to get a Windows laptop, where do I buy it? What brand? I first searched on the websites of HP, Dell and Sony.

Initially, just by looking at the displayed packages, Dell has nice deals, good prices, low monthly payments. But all three websites had a “Customize” option. You choose the parts you want and the site computes the price along with the monthly payments. It tells you anyway if you are putting things that are not compatible so you can fix your options.

After customizing, making the options as similar as I can on all three brands, guess what’s the result? Dell, the one with the cheapest advertised prices, suddenly became the most expensive among the three. And the best deal was on HP.

I chatted with John on his views of the matter… Although he is a Mac advocate, he said since I am a PC guy, buy a Windows laptop and not a Mac. Which I agree, and I’d just buy a MacMini when I get back to the US.

He shared his views on using credit. And low monthly payments on a long term makes you pay for something for so long, until your laptop is old already and there are new ones out and you are still paying for the old one you have. But he also knows my concern of building up my credit history, since here in the US, no credit history, it is like you are unknown when you will buy a house or car. So he suggested to ask them if using credit will really help my credit history.

I am still studying all my options. I’ll let you all know what I got in my next posting.

Been Busy… Some Pictures

I’ve been busy lately with all sorts of things.

Less time to blog.

My college classmate Richard emails some pictures to our college classmates’ Yahoogroup. He posts them and ask people to come up with a caption.

Instead of giving a caption, I edited them.

He emailed these:

And I sent back these:

Now back to work…

Less Time for Blogging

After we moved here to Escondido, I am not spending more time traveling to work, so I have less time working. And I end up doing mostly work, no time for Blogging.

It is now a Sunday, so I am taking advantage of it to drop a few lines here before it is all working day again.

Phone Busted

My Nokia 3650 is unlocked that it can accept any carrier. My Smart sim card is working fine. I’ve tried Globe in it too as well as Sun and it has no problems. But I just bought a T-Mobile sim card and it had problems, my phone always rebooted.

I was thinking maybe there is such a thing as limited unlocking? So I searched online and saw this software along with several procedures to unlock. But I also found out that once your phone is unlock, it can take any provider.

So I was thinking maybe it was my software that did not accept the T-Mobile sim. My phone was running on SymbianOS and had tons of modifications in the past adding and removing softwares. And I was thinking maybe on the softwares installed causes some conflict with my T-Mobile sim card. So I simply just wanted to remove all modifications I installed on my cellphone, although I cannot remember them all.

I searched online and found a reformat code for Nokia 3650. This supposed to bring back the phone to it’s original default settings. Like the exact same way it was when it was purchased. I tried it out and it did seem to reformat. Problem is, I lost the menu button. So I can literally do nothing on the phone but make and accept calls.

I brought it then to an authorized Nokia Service Center. And they said my phone is really messed up big time. And the only last resort is to flash it, but when they do that, there are no guarantees. It has a 50:50 chance of getting fixed. I said go for it since I can’t do anything but call anyway, so they went for it and it still did not work.

I’ve got a 6600 on the way from the Philippines that I asked my wife to buy. But I will also probably get another phone so that I can have both my Smart and T-Mobile sims running at the same time.

Can’t Run Linux Yet

I have been trying to install Xandros Linux in the other PC I have here. Problem is my monitor can’t display the resolution required. I wanted to switch monitors, but the monitor would not also work on my Windows PC with a 1280 x 1024 resolution and 32bit color.

I’ll probably sell my monitors on eBay since I know there are a lot of people that run only 800×600 to 1024×768. And will probably but a new one. But my hands are full with a lot more other stuff so I can’t do all of that right now. Maybe in the meantime, I’ll load windows on this other PC running on low resolution.

Room Still a Mess

After moving to the new location, my room is still a mess, but I make it a point that I fix something up everyday. So that every day that passes by, things get better.

Photo’s by Dru

Friend at work, John Kelly aka Dru Kelly( loves his camera. He likes photography and takes some random pictures. Some of them include his co-employees at work.

I’ve got a few shots and he posted them online.

Drinking Pepsi at the office kitchen – Click on the picture to see a larger view on Dru’s Photo Gallery
Weird looking photo of me tasting salt – Click on the picture to see a larger view on Dru’s Photo Gallery

Now time for me to read blogs… will first go to my wife’s blog on

Belated Happy Birthday Mom

My New Year was spent as a busy one. Before new year, it was mostly packing up things in preparation of moving to a new house my sister-in-law bought. And when we got here, it was mostly moving things from the garage to the room, helping out with Mama and Papa (my in-laws) with their stuff as well.

At the new location, we had no phones yet with overseas capabilities. My computer was still into separate parts, so I could not go online either. And once I got online, the data-center unplugged my server due to another hack attempt.

When I got online it was mostly web server upgrades, system software upgrades, and whatever security updates I could find and do. Then I messed things up with some scripts but finally got it working before any of my clients got mad and called me up.

Right now, I still can’t call my Mom to greet her a happy birthday. But I am taking this opportunity to write a letter for my Mom for her belated birthday greeting.

I guess mostly everyone thinks their mother is a great mother. I am no exception; I believe my mother is great mother too. And let me enumerate why.

1. My Dad was a chef, my Mom was a housewife, but my Mom cooks very well. She tries new things she sees on TV sometimes, and sometimes her first shot at it may not be the best, but you know it will get there. I see her as a evolving cook. She still finds it a puzzle on what to cook per day. She feels paulit-ulit na lang niluluto n’ya. (her cooking is just going over and over again) And she finds it hard to think on what to cook next. But whatever she decides to cook, I am sure it will taste good. Comparing it to my Dad’s cooking, Mom is no match, but comparing Mom’s cooking with every house I have eaten at, Mom cooks better than most.

2. Mom prioritizes others before her own children. Even in simple things, the food dishes she chooses, she makes sure that everyone will like it. She keeps in her head, the list of dishes the people like and do not like. And prepares everyone’s favorite. She makes sure she has something for everyone. If Rene, Marcia, Allan Go are at the house, she secretly prepares the foods she knows they will like. When she gets that done, then she will think if I and my sister will eat it.

When she buys clothes when she has a lot of money, like when she wins Mahjong, she’d go out to SM and buy something. She buys things for Rene, Marcia, Allan Go, syempre kung may sobra lang, saka kami ni Ats. (of course, only if there is excess, that’s when she buys something for me and Ats)

But I totally do not feel bad about it. In fact I feel good about it. Because this is where I can see how she values the people we love too. Unahin muna ang hindi kadugo, bago ang kadugo. (Treat first those who are of different blood before those with the same blood.)

3. As a kid, even until I grew up, Mom never got mad at me in front of other people even if she is really mad already. She will just say let’s go home or stuff like that. But once you get home, that’s when you have to prepare. If you are already at home with some friends, she will even call you in a very nice tone, pretending she needs some assistance with something in the room. She makes it a point that you do not get scolded in front of other people.

4. When me and my sister were young, if ever I had my girlfriend at home, or my sister had her boyfriend at home. And are left in the living room with no one else around, I could sneak a kiss or two, or even a good smooch while my Mom was in the room. And whenever my Mom goes out of the room, she’d be humming a tune of an unknown song. Pretending to be humming something, but she is just actually warning us, saying like “hey, I’m coming, so you better stop whatever things I do not supposed to see.”

5. Mom balances friends well. She befriends anyone and is often in between two people who are not friends, even enemies at times. But she still manages to handle everything well.

6. Mom is not at ease when she knows someone is mad at her for some reason. Even when they are not, she just thinks they are.

7. Mom is the only person that gives me no-interest, no-definite payment time loan. And even if my credit record is so bad with her, I can still avail the emergency loan as long as I promise early payment time.

8. Source ng tsimis. (of gossips)

9. Mom has a guilt feeling that Ats did not grow up the way I did, since she did not allow Ats to go to parties and other celebrations.

10. Mom loves her own son-in-law and daughter-in-law like her own children.

11. Mom is very religious

12. Mom is paranoid, always thinks I will get into an accident I BMX and Taekwondo.

13. Mom is humble. Hindi nakikipagsabayan sa mga mommies na walang kinuwento kundi ang magaling nilang anak. (She does not compete with stories of other mothers that tell nothing but great stories of their children.)

14. Mom believes in you. And she worries about my problems even if I do not consider them problems.

15. Mom is my number 1 cheerleader even for the simplest achievements that even I do not celebrate since they are no big deal to me.

16. Mom always gets up in the morning to prepare breakfast for everyone that is leaving the house early in the morning.

17. Mom dresses up well for any occasion, looks young and strong for her age.

18. Mom does not know how to get mad at others, she just bangs the whole place up, slamming doors and everything so you need to be a good decipherer of her actions to get the picture.

19. Simple lang naman kasiyahan ni mommy, mag shopping pag may pera. (Mom just has a simple happiness, to go shopping when she has money.) So if she gives you something, even if you do not need it, accept it and say thank you. It will make her happier than say something like, naku saying naman Mommy, hindi ko kailangan yan, pinera mo na lang sana. (oh no Mom, I really do not need that, how I wished you gave me money instead.)

20. A natural talented ballroom dancer. She did not need any ballroom lessons, she just danced a lot when she was young.

21. She is afraid of the dentist, so she brushes her teeth well. And she did a good job, all her teeth are strong and just has one false tooth. That she takes off when eating. She has the best way of doing it. She just gets a small piece of tissue, gives out a small cough, and presto, that’s it. Her move is as swift as David Copperfield. Now you see it, now you don’t.

22. Mom is not that good in math, logic or analytical thinking. But for some reason, she is good in Mahjong. And Mahjong requires good analytical thinking just like any other thinking game.

23. Mom did not finish highschool, but all the lessons in life I needed to learn outside of school, mom has filled up a large part of it. Although I believe Mom was over protective and served me too much, it did not make me too dependent and lazy, just a little bit lazy. Nyahahaha.

24. Mom can read people well. She can tell if someone is really a good person or not. She kind of just has a hunch, it may be wrong sometimes but often they are true. I can see she kind of detects liars in a way, but I wonder why she believed all my lies when I was kid? They were not too many, but maybe she was just pretending she believed me.

25. Super babaw tulog ni mama. (Mom’s sleep is super shallow) And a ring of the phone will always wake her up no matter how deep her sleep it.

26. Mom never gets sick. Well nearly never gets sick. But when she does, she is really, really sick.

27. Mom does not really like the dogs and cats 100%. But she keeps them there since they are pet’s of my Dad and me. I hope Cornicor is still alive, Cornicor is the only pet that knows Dad. And I think Mom has a good bonding only with Cornicor. But Babycor is starting to follow her mom Cornicor in being malambing and not wild that much.

28. Mom is part of the digital divide. The older generations somehow cannot embrace technology that well. But Mom is a texter. She learned well her cellphone talents. And knows how to set the time in the TV with remote control. Give any washing machine and she can figure it out. I guess that is the only technology she has embraced. 😀

I want to say more about Mom, but three clients are chatting with me. One redesign deal, one about billing and another for their testimonial.

Well isang dakilang ina ni Mommy (Well she is one great Mommy). I would not be how I am if not for everything I learned from my Mom. Thanks and Belated Happy Birthday!

I love you and miss you.

The House Blessing by Kuya Jef

This is an old event, but a new posting here on my blog. During the blessing I was just too busy to post the pictures and the story.

Msgr. Rev. Fr. Jeffrey Garcia starts the blessing.

As the day of the blessing came nearer, so did my departure date to leave for the States. The blessing was held last July 10, and I was scheduled to leave on July 11. So most of the days I was packing up, and basically preparing my computer, as well as doing all things I could do at the house that Marcia might have a hard time doing while I’m gone. So everything I could fix, I fixed, everything related to wiring, electricity, phone line extensions, computer LAN cabling and all physical things as well like drilling, and other stuff. Time was just not enough to fix Marcia’s PC, Janet’s PC and the PC that Ate Dawn will use, as well as for Jamie’s educational games.

Some of the visitors by the side of the house.

And as each day passed by, Marcia was busy preparing the house for the blessing and helped her every time she needed me. One thing about Marcia is when she is pressured; she tends to be hot-headed. But no problem with me, I can take it, and do not face it head on. I just smile and know that she is just like that but she has no intentions of being mad at anyone.

One of memorable blunders is just hours before the blessing, when she poured hot water in the kitchen sink; she felt it on her feet. Poor Marcia, she got hot as well, angry at everything. I checked it out and the tubes are not really sealed. Although it works, pouring something at a fast rate will really make it leak. Good thing Adam was also there to help me out.

Some of the visitors by the side the garage.

When Kuya Jef texted Marcia saying he was at SM Fairview already, I went to pick him up. After a few minutes when I arrived at SM, he was there. Had a small chat on the priest at the Parish of Mary the Queen, whom were kuya’s students.

When we got back home, I was back to being busy and so was Marcia. Then the visitors started to arrive one by one. The groups of visitors were mainly Marcia’s friends from Colegio de San Bartolome, friends at Blue Star Lending Investors, Inc. My high school friends from Sacred Heart Academy of Novaliches, and a few friends from Informatics Computer Institute and people back home at Teresa Heights.

When everything seemed to be ready, the ceremony started. Kuya Jef went to ever corner of the house and after blessing the house, he bless my car and Janet and Harry’s van as well.

Kuya Jef and Marcia

After the blessing, it was eating time. And after that, it was kwentuhan time. When that was done, I went straight up to the room to finish packing my things up preparing to leave the next day, going to the States.

For stories on my departure from the Philippines and arrival in the States, click on the links below:

The trip to the US
Setting Foot on US Ground