Monday, August 20, 2007
The logic was simple enough. For a 4 year old.
No daylight, no day...
No trafficlight, no traffic.
Genius! Absolute Genius!
And so began the brainchild of the MMDA. The masterplan to eliminate all traffic in Metro Manila... by eliminating all the traffic lights in Metro Manila! (I can almost hear Dr. evil laughing in the background. Mwahahahahaha!)
At first it was actually working in the places it was implemented (namely C5, Edsa and Quezon Avenue.) No traffic lights meant that in these areas, no car was stopping on its own. No traffic lights meant no MMDA officers were needed to check for traffic.
It took precisely .0000087 milliseconds after implementation for the first problem to occur.
And more problems started pouring in.
Now, obviously obsessed at making the whole damn idea work, we're seeing MMDA resort to smarter and smarter ideas that will give the whole "no traffic light, no traffic" theory a run for its money as the most awe-inspiring spark of genius in human history.
Problem #1: Not all people want to drive indefinitely until the end of a highway. Sometimes, just sometimes, they need to go to the other side of the road.
So how do you make sure everyone got to their destination if there were no traffic lights left on the road?
Bright Idea #1: U-turn slots.
In its purest form, a U-turn is always welcome.
You lost your way? No problem! Make a U-turn and backtrack your way to last place you can remember.
You overshot your intersection? No problem! Make a U-turn and take right turn.
Sure it wasnt the most brilliant of inventions known to the motoring world, but hey, you thank God in the few times you actually use it.
And then the Devil corrupted it.
The MMDA turned this poor thing from an instrument of God to a motorists's nightmare.
In the long stretch of C5 for example, they setup U-turn slots instead of having intersections with traffic lights (and hence, traffic). For someone in the northbound lane, to be able to go anywhere next to the southbound lane, they had to look for the nearest available U-turn slot.
Problem #2: U-turn slots are also choke points
These U-turn slots, depending on how popular the destination was, often got clogged up and used up 2-3 lanes more than was originally planned. This in turn, caused the other lanes to slow done because the U-turns became a choke point...
Apparently besides crazy drivers that swerved 3 lanes to be able to reach the U-turn, the main problem was caused by trucks that took up 4 lanes just to TURN.. which either caused traffic or accidents that caused traffic...
Which led to...
Bright Idea #2: Install "Do not use this U-turn if you are taller than this" signs.
I kid you not. They physically put bars that would hit the top part of the trucks in the U-turn areas that clogged traffic. This should make sure Truck drivers would think twice before using a U-turn slot.
Which led to...
Problem #3: Truck drivers DONT think. Thats why they're truck drivers hehehe
Which led to...
Bright Idea #3: Take out all the minor U-Turns so the Trucks dont clog c5...
Which led to...
Problem #4: Almost ALL the U-turns are minor. So basically there are almost no U-turns left in c5. Few U-turns = Longer drives = Larger gas bills for everyone.
No bright ideas have been churned out at the moment on how to address this.
Problem #5: One use of Traffic lights was, as extensive MMDA research now shows, to give a chance for pedestrians to cross to the other side of the road.
Let me repeat. Traffic lights stop cars. If cars are not moving, people can cross.
If cars ARE moving at high speeds on a 8-lane highway, people can still cross. To the afterlife.
Bright Idea #4: Why did the chicken cross the c5? He didnt. He's a chicken remember?
Now, why do people cross the road anyway? Sounds like a joke, but the MMDA takes it seriously. According to MMDA research, people cross the road because they are Stupid.
Just read the signs they posted: "Bawal tumawid. Nakamamatay." roughly translated in in english as "Dont Cross. You will die, stupid."
So there. People cross the road because they are stupid. Not because they need to go to the other side for minor things such as work and life.
Bright Idea #5: The occasional pedestrian walkway
Of course, the MMDA think tanks, being geniuses that lived in their own ivory towers, were not aware of the continued existence of millions of stupid people in Metro Manila.
So once in a while, they made pedestrian walkways or underground tunnels that turned Stupid people into Smart People. Or at least gave Smart people a way to cross the street.
Of course, since Smart people are heavily outnumbered by Stupid people, these walkways are actually quite few and far between.
Here's my two cents: Just bring back the damn traffic lights!
Friday, August 17, 2007
Sunday, August 12, 2007
Just to be sure, I took out the dusty GMAT reviewer I purchased FOUR years ago and reviewed it the night before the exam.
GMAT for dummies: GMAT is a combination of tests on math and verbal intelligence. The score you get here can determine your eligibility for entering US-based graduate schools.
1. It was over 7 years since I last did any mathematical computations MANUALLY. (Damn you Microsoft Excel!!!) I had trouble multiplying by hand and forgot how to DIVIDE.
2. It was over 7 years since I last wrote an essay. By hand. I was hanging out in hospitals the past month and I was starting to envy the penmanship I saw in doctors' prescriptions after I was done with my review.
3. I did not remember how to solve for mathematical problems like "If Peter can do this much work in 20 days, and Paul can do this much work in 10 days, how fast can they do it if they work together?". My brain simply rejected it. Answering this stuff usually copied Peter's manager so Peter would work faster.
4. Questions with "Choose the BEST answer" is evil. Too many brain cells will die in vain trying to solve for it.
5. I make a few mistakes. Diagnostic test puts my GMAT equivalent at... Hmm... Not bad :) Alcohol has not killed off everything in this brain hehe
6. After taking the diagnostic test, I read the next chapter of the book "How to plan to take the test". Hehehehe I check the time. I have six hours before my exam. And I have to sleep.
7. There are three types of plans, depending on the time--- More than 4 weeks, More than 2 weeks But less than 4 weeks, AND Less than 2weeks. Nothing about six hours. I wonder why? hehe Oh well. Minor detail.
8. I try 1 or 2 other excercies. Then I sleep. hehe 90% of the GMAT reviewer was never meant to be read anyway :) If im meant to ace it, then i will (i hope hehe).
What I was thinking while taking the actual exam (In actual order of realization):
1. Woohoo! Over 80% of the examinees are female. Some are actually cute. None have rings.
2. Everyone has at least 2 pencils on their desk. Some geeks have 5 all neatly laid out in front of them. I look at mine. I have ONE and the tip is broken. And I dont have a sharpener.
3. My seatmate has a sharpener. But shes not cute.
4. For the first time in my life I waste a pickup line to get a sharpener. A sharpener! The end is near!!
5. Of the 20% male populace, at least 30% were gay. Less competition for the girls. Hehehehe
6. Even the proctor is gay. No threat there.
7. Essay begins. Writing by hand is soooo... slow...
8. The pencil is an instrument of pure torture. My hand is getting tired and I havent even written down half of what I was thinking.
9. I should have had breakfast. My stomach is growling already...
10. Damn pencil breaks. Lucky for me I now have a sharpener hehe. Pickup line not wasted after all.
11. Pencil broke again. I sharpen again. Pencil shavings start to decorate my desk. I miss my Thinkpad already.
12. Essay is over. 15 minute break.
13. I have 12 texts in my inbox. I reply only to the pretty one (And I'm not only saying she's pretty because she reads this blog hehehe) I grab a quick breakfast at the cafe and silence my stomach.
14. I check the expressions of the cute examinees. Not good. Oh well, lets see who I end up with classmates. Maybe luck will be on my side this time.
15. 2nd part of the test begins. I realize I have not gone to the bathroom. Spider sense tingling.
16. The test is a walk the park. I'm glad im this smart. And high on caffeine.
17. Hmmm mental math. 3 classes per term, 20 students each, mostly girls. All of which have FRIENDS. If I dont like the class, I can drop the class and a new batch of girls will be available the next term... What a hunting ground!!! hehehe
18. After 15 minutes into the 2hr 30 minute test... I realize with horror that I HAVE to go to the bathroom. And the doors are closed.
19. Math is surprisingly easy. 3429/8903X + 2132109/994532Y = 9431241. Solve for... what the heck, I HAVE to go to the bathroom. F@ck it! C sounds like the right answer. C it is.
20. "I HAVE to go to the bathroom!" becomes a mantra.
21. "F@ck it! C sounds good. " also becomes a mantra.
22. My mental fortitude reaches the breaking point. I pass my papers and go for the bathroom. Oh well, theres always next term :)
Saturday, July 14, 2007
Time. Who knows how long its been?
Seems I've been living almost 24x7 for the past few months. I am stressed, I am relaxed. My weight fluctuates by + or - 5lbs every week. And no, I'm not in the best of health.
Life has given me a rude awakening, worked me hard and partied me harder, kicked me down and picked me up, slapped me around and kissed me goodnight.
And now it gives me Insomnia.
So here I am... Tired, confused and waiting for the next day it would bring.
But there wont be a ray of sunshine just waking me up tomorrow...
I am out here tonight, eyes wide open, forcing the day to dawn myself.
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
You're a Raccoon in the wild world of love.
Aren't you a crafty creature, Raccoon?
There's a reason for that mask on your face — it makes it easier to sneak out the back door unnoticed after a late-night prank or two. You're a nocturnal prowler and a fun-loving jokester with a definite social streak. There's never a dull moment when you're up for a party or a wild night on the town. After all, who can resist a free-spirited flirt with a great sense of humor? Your abundance of charm doesn't hurt your act either. You subtly move in on your prey, sneaking out of the shadows where you plot your next punch line. Before they even know what hit them, you've left them howling with laughter and disappeared off again into the night.It's a wonder people never tire of your rabble-rousing antics, you tease. It must be something about your mysterious allure that keeps you so fiendishly intriguing. Or maybe it's your approach to living in the moment. Life's a party and you live it and that's what makes you so irresistible!
What's Your Animal Magnetism?
Brought to you by Tickle
Friday, April 20, 2007
"I'm sleepy. Let me just grab this branch and... ZzzzzzZ"
Why you might consider becoming koala in your next life:
- Their whole mission in life is to eat, sleep and be role models for stuffed toys everywhere. They sleep 20 hours a day, and while awake, do nothing but eat and have sex.
- Look at the picture... even if they look like drunk little bastards out from another late night drinking binge... they still look cute!
- Despite being useless members of society, their government even encourages their existence, makes them a national treasures and prosecutes anyone trying to smuggle them out of the country.
Yup. We humans are missing out on a lot of things...
Thursday, April 05, 2007
Now GIRL has a problem. Like me, he's got this list of things to do before getting hitched, and unlike me, he really is gonna get hitched. VERY SOON.
- drive my own car
- drive a motorcycle
- have my own pad
- make good in my career
- start a club
- learn 3 new sports
- finish a masteral degree
- go to 3 other countries outside the Philippines
- go to 2 other continents outside Asia
- get my brothers and sisters through college
- Get my name in some random bar's drinking hall of famers
- start a bar room brawl
- get a tattoo
- Get arrested... but not convicted
- Go backpacking in Bohol
- Roro the whole Philippines
- Have my 5 minutes of TV fame
...and some not so doable (Hereafter referred to as the "not-so-doable" list)...
- drive my own Ferrari
- pilot my own jet
- buy my own yacht
- found a new scholarship foundation
- build 100 houses for the homeless
- own an island
- raise my own private army
- start my own magazine/newspaper
- go to every continent in the world
- Publish a book. Any book.
- Win a Pulitzer prize
- Survive an angry mob
- hunt down a wild animal with my bare hands
- Be the latest trendy female mag's "Bachelor of the Month"
- Get a planet named after me
- Master 2 new languages
- Go backpacking in Europe
- Climb Mt Everest
- Master 5 different martial arts and weapon techniques
- Compete in a national tournament and win
and of course things that have to do with do-ing (Hereafter referred to as the "do" list):
- do it with a foreign girlfriend
- do it with a colleague
- do it with a flight attendant
- do it with a dance instructor
- do it with a famous celebrity
- do it outside manila
- do it outside the Philippines
- do it outside Asia
- do it outer space
- do it in a car
- do it in a car while driving
- do it in a car while racing
- do it 10,000 feet above sea level
- do it 10,000 feet below sea level
- do it online
- do it on the phone
- do it with a close female friend
- do it with two close female friends
- do it with three close female friends
- do it with two sisters
- do it to a lesbian
- turn the lesbian straight. then do her
- turn her back into a lesbian. then do her again
...well you get the point. The List is there and woe to the guy who hasn't even filled up even half of it! (Like me, haha, but i have a looong list)
GIRL, though, is pressured. He got engaged just as he finished his doable list, but in the final quarter of his single life, he's still halfway through his "not-so-doable" list and barely ticked off anything in the "do" list.
Over a few beers (okay, maybe a lot of beers) he kept asking me if he should still try to do all the stuff in his list.
GIRL, I tell him. Lets split it into the not-so-doable and the do list.
For the not-so-doable, will the wifey support you when you go and start your own private army? Will she help you choose which island to buy? Will she sign for your insurance when you go skydiving or start pissing off an angry mob? If she says yes to all these things, then you really are meant for each other and there is no need to finish this list now.
Then comes the harder aspect... The do list... Do you really want to do this and get it off your mind NOW or would you rather spend the next 5-20 years planning out how to do it without getting caught by the wifey? This is harder as the items here compose around 60% of Girl's The List. GIRL, you should have started earlier... now the challenge is upon you.
Of course, I'm not the one getting married, and given the amount of alcohol we imbibed the advise just sounded right :)
Anyway, GIRL is now prioritizing which items to still finish and which to scratch out entirely (Like going to each continent in the world. No direct flights to Antarctica for some reason.) and which to just move to the "Things to do before I die" list.
Will he finish The List in time? We'll see. But he's making progress... He's touching base with old female friends and trying to hook up with potential lesbians*. And just survived an angry mob.
You can do it GIRL!! :P*Interested Lesbians, flight attendants, colleagues, dance instructors and celebrities may send me a resume at firstname.lastname@example.org
Friday, March 23, 2007
Disclaimer- Absolutely do not read if you are INDIAN. I have no intention of pissing off all 1 billion of you.
I've always been intrigued by India ever since I read Thomas Friedman's popular take on globalization- "The World is Flat". Basically, the whole book preaches that because of technology and the fast commodization of many of today's products, countries like India and China are poised to take away most of the world's jobs and production... In other words, the whole book was more than hinting that very soon, all manufacturable products will be made in China, and all IT related products will be done in India.
The way he described it, India was a country of a billion knowledge workers who pound-for-pound are superior to many inhabitants of First-World countries. (He actually does go on and on about how Americans are getting too lax and defocusing on science and technology). He also glosses about how the infrastructure in India can match many of Silicon Valley's own technology centers. Because of this, he argues, India should be the first country of choice in any IT outsourcing initiative.
Of course it didnt help that during this time, I was passionate about how the Philippines is actually a leading candidate in this sector and that Thomas Friedman gave only little mention of our country...
So when I first heard there was a possibility of going to India for a business trip, I just took it. Never mind everyone's warning that Mumbai was such a backwater hellhole with 70's style taxis running amuck and cows shitting with impunity in the streets. Nope, it wasnt mentioned in Friedman's book. Sorry folks, I just wanted to see it with my own two eyes.
Damn. Nothing prepared me for what I was going to go thru.
Mumbai, the city formerly known as Bombay, is the financial capital of India with a population of around 13 million. The first thing you would notice is that its damn hard to book a room in a decent hotel. The next thing you notice is that these decent hotels charge an exorbitantly indecent rate- roughly $200-$300 a night for a single room! This is Mumbai, a third world country... not Paris!
Actually I asked around after. Apparently, because the power infrastructure in the city is so bad, building owners have coped by limiting the number of floors in each building so that they wont have too many issues with failing elevators. So then it became supply and demand-> short hotels lead to lower capacity, and since a TON of foreign investors drop by on a regular basis, lower capacity means the hotels can charge more for each night and these guys would have no choice but to suck up the extra cost.
I was introduced to Indian-style traffic at on my first night. I thought traffic in Manila was bad... but nothing, absolutely nothing prepared me for the traffic here.
After being picked up from the airport by the hotel car, we slowly made our way to the hotel, which was quite far from the airport.
The whole time I was on heightened alert! Each road was either a dark sidestreet or a 2-lane main road. The dark sidestreets were a perfect setting for any kidnapping/carnapping operation, while the mainroads were in absolute chaos with pedestrians crossing the street (who for some reason DO NOT look at the incoming cars), auto-rickshaws (or Tuktuks if you've been to Bangkok), 70's style taxis (more on this later!), tons and tons of motorcycles, mega potholes and finally, cows that just really felt they were gods.
Oh and did I mention that the drivers there DO NOT step on the brakes. They just keep their horns blaring at full blast. All the time.
Within 30 minutes of driving that way (the hotel was actually 1 hour away from the airport), i guess it inevitable that we just had to smash into a motorcycle! One actually got too close and our driver, keeping a straight path just mowed into this little obstacle...
Lets pause for a bit. Here in Manila, whenever something like that happens, both drivers would be fighting in the middle of the street waiting for the police to stop them, unheedful of the growing traffic and the angry mob of drivers right behind them... Well, at least if both are full blooded testosterone-high males.
If there are beautiful females involved, the male would graciously pull over to one side to allow traffic to resume normally (and try to get their numbers). Of course, traffic will still continue because all passing vehicles will slow down to check out the hapless female. But i digress...
Anyway, continuing my story... The motorcyclist picked himself up, then drove at full speed towards the hotel car. Here's how it happened... All while driving at full speed (relatively) and without pressing any brakes.
Note as well that its RIGHT hand drive in India...
Soloflite's thought bubble: Oh shit, here it comes!
Motorcyclist: Rides along the LEFT side of the vehicle. Gives the evil eye to the hotel driver
Hotel Driver: Looks to his left side. Complete 90 degree head turn. Gives the Evil eye right back to the Motorcyclist.
Soloflite's thought bubble: The road, driver, the road! Why are you not slowing down?!
Motorcyclist: Narrowly avoids and incoming car. Gives the evil eye back to the hotel driver.
Hotel Driver: Hits a pothole but doesnt even slow down. Gives the evil eye back to the Motorcyclist.
Soloflite's thought bubble: WTF is happening?! Suddenly notices that ALL the other cars have dents... (Cheesy Horror music suddenly plays in the background)
Motorcyclist: Avoids ANOTHER incoming car AND two pedestrians. Gives the evil eye back to the hotel driver.
Hotel Driver: Gives the evil eye back to the Motorcyclist. Still does not look at the road. Which is actually an intersection. He beats a red light AND almost gets sideswiped.
Soloflite's thought bubble: "Inquirer headline: Pinoy killed in India traffic accident." and "Mumbai Daily footnote story: One down, a billion to go."
Motorcyclist: Obviously realizes hotel car isnt going to stop anytime soon. Gives the evil eye back to the hotel driver and veers off in another direction.
Hotel Driver: Tries to give the evil eye back towards the Motorcyclist. But he isnt there. Looks to the front again and blares his horns at another lunatic on the road.
So there. The entire thing lasted less than two minutes, but was enough for me to suddenly miss the traffic back in Manila. (And for days after that whenever someone told me "Shit, ang traffic!" I would smugly reply... "Nope. You havent seen REAL traffic yet.")
I wonder how insurance is doing in that country.
(To be continued)