Saturday, December 16, 2006

I Know What You Did Last, er... Week

There seem to be a lot of people who are either wondering why I haven't talked to them lately, or why I haven't been able to attend a few of their recent meetings, or why my last few posts have actually been pretty boring. This is because I've been extremely busy in the last few days despite not maintaining a regular job. Even when the only work you have on hand happens to be of the freelance nature, work is still work.

Sunday, December 10
I spent lunch with members of the paternal side of the family, various denizens of whom engineered my textbook project as well as a few of my job applications in the past six months. Trisha had earlier asked for my assistance in proofreading the draft for a home-school communication notebook; I received the sample copy at this luncheon, began making corrections, and promised that I would have everything finished by Tuesday.

At around 4:00, I left the house to attend the wedding of a misunderstood person, who happens to be a good friend. Said wedding took place at Fernwood Gardens, which meant that the lucky couple received a ceremony and reception with all the trimmings: the bride arrived in a vintage Bentley, the newlyweds were ushered to dinner in a rustic horse-drawn carriage, and the audience got treated to a round of well-thought-out post-ceremonial activities.

The only problem was that it rained the whole time, which was a strange sort of portent for the bride and groom. Both of them were diving enthusiasts who went through a pre-ceremony underwater marriage before the actual Sunday itself, and in a way, it was probably only appropriate that everyone got a little wet.

It was a good wedding, though. They showed a great deal of footage on the underwater marriage, too, and that was the highlight of the day.

Monday, December 11
I spent most of this Monday doing backbreaking labor.

Okay, so maybe it wasn't exactly backbreaking. But I can assure you that it involved more sweat than three bottles of Gatorade could ever hope to replace.

We were replacing the carpeting in one of our bedrooms, so I got up early to move out all the sensitive furniture before the carpetlayer arrived. The computer and cable modem were easy enough to unplug and move out, and the TV didn't cause too many problems either. Virtually every other furnishing in the room was a veritable antique, however, and had apparently been created at a time when wheels hadn't existed yet. As a result, we spent a solid few hours involved in grunting, heavy lifting, and cries of "That doesn't fit there!"

In sharp contrast, it took the carpetlayer less than two hours to finish his part of the job; He never broke so much as a light sweat.

I spent the afternoon dragging everything back inside the room (on top of the still-grungy new carpet), and then went through a couple of hours working the many plugs and outlets involved. I made certain that the phone was functioning properly, then did the same for the TV, then did the same for the cable connection, and then the VCD player, and then the computer, and then the printer, and then the Internet connection.

The phrase "dog tired" didn't even begin to explain how I felt afterwards. The next time anyone asks me to do something like this, I'm asking for some financial gratuity.

Tuesday, December 12
I met up with cstiu for breakfast somewhere in the Greenhills area. She was back from Hong Kong for a cousin's wedding; I try to see her whenever I can nowadays, ever since her new job prevented us from talking to each other via Yahoo! Messenger.

We discussed a lot of things: Breakfast, muesli, gym memberships, the ongoing development of Greenhills, business in the Filipino-Chinese community, Tom Kyte, project managers, job applications, the Tintin books, macaroons, cheese omelets and money issues only begin to scratch the surface. We parted ways a little before noon, as someone was treating her to lunch in the Tomas Morato area. If there's one thing about the denizens of the Philippines, we love stuffing out balikbayan visitors with the local cuisine. :)

I then spent the afternoon hanging around the Fully Booked branch in Greenhills, taking some time out to catch Happy Feet in an almost-empty theater. While I thought that the movie was cute, I ended up agreeing with a couple of critiques that I had read the previous week: It felt as though the producers had smashed together two completely different plots and tossed Robin Williams into the resulting mix. It's hard not to like the concept of dancing penguins, though, as compared to delinquent cows, naive bears or burping squirrels.

Later in the evening, I wrapped up my corrections to the sample publication I had received the previous Sunday. I pity the person who has to make all the changes...

Wednesday, December 13
I spent Wednesday in The Podium, one of the most upscale of upscale malls in the Metropolis, awaiting my shot at a job interview.

The circumstances of the interview were odd, to say the least. The company in question had tried to acquire my services some years before for what seemed like the exact same job; In fact, some of its staff members had previously worked under my management. It was, moreover, the first job interview I ever had that took place inside a Starbucks branch. I had to admit, however, that everything goes a little easier when you have a Vanilla Cream Frappuccino close to hand.

I then spent the rest of the afternoon trying to do some work with the only Internet connection I found -- inside the local video arcade. I can therefore confirm that it is almost impossible to get any work done against significant amounts of background noise, as a result. After a while, I gave up, went to the nearest bookstore, and spent the rest of my stay wallowing in unwrapped comics and trade paperbacks.

Thursday, December 14
I had a proposal for web development that definitely needed finishing by this time, so I made certain to wrap it up and send it over by this day. The client in question is a company that I've been working with for the last three or four years, and I wanted them to have something to have in the works before 2007 came along.

Making a web development proposal isn't easy when you're coming from my sort of background. You have to look at multiple examples across the web, check the feasibility of what the client wants, analyze the resources you have available to you, and then decide the best course of action from there. A lesser developer would probably just start putting everything together without regard for long-term plans; Nowadays, I try not to fall back on such tactics.

I actually still have to meet with the client for a face-to-face discussion on this, so that automatically puts something on my plate next week. The work won't be easy, I suppose -- nothing ever is -- but it does feel nice to be involved in web site production again.

Friday, December 15
For those who aren't in the know yet: I'm currently writing a computer studies textbook that's aimed at pre-schoolers. That is to say, I'm writing a book that should help four- or five-year-olds stray into the territories of fragile, expensive technology. Parents beware.

My personal, self-imposed deadline for the textbook happens to be the end of this year, so I locked myself inside the room with the new carpet and slogged through at least twenty solid pages of chaptery goodness. This meant that, by the time the sun was setting, I had finally finished the third chapter of the book (out of a pre-planned four). An excerpt from this chapter goes as follows:
Page 57

Other programs in the computer can be opened through the icons you see on the desktop screen. Each icon opens a different program, and different programs do different things.

(Upper left illustration: Screenshot of Microsoft Word, with a few lines of text written.)
Some programs let you write letters and words.

(Upper right illustration: Screenshot of Microsoft Paint, with a simple drawing.)
Some programs let you draw and paint things.

(Lower left illustration: Screenshot of Windows Media Player, with a movie playing.)
Some programs let you watch movies… or even make them!

(Lower right illustration: Screenshot of Microsoft Excel, with numbers and graphs.)
And some programs… do some really complicated stuff.

As you can see, I was starting to get really tired after only seven straight hours of writing. Heck, after seven straight hours of writing, I was starting to see a bunch of pink elephants floating in front of my eyes. This cued the heavy migraine that lasted for the rest of my evening; In retrospect, watching Ed Wood on the movie channel probably made the headache worse.

So that was my week, ladies and gentlemen. Everything's laid out here for everyone to see. This is why I haven't talked to many people, yes -- although like any true masochist would, I've made certain to put up a couple of notes on the blog for the sake of maintaining a regular posting schedule.

And just think: I don't even have a regular job yet. :)

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