BACK TO BLOGGING

My hibernation is almost over. I’m fully recharged and ready to ge back to action after this long weekend ( Civic Holiday). The entire week had been over 30 degC which prompted the government to issue a extreme heat alert. This weekend will be a lot nicer though – in the high twenties, good enough for the annual Caribana ( Caribbean carnival celebration), where more than a million people trek to Toronto to celebrate the Caribbean culture. This is the 40th annual event, the biggest of its kind in North America. True to my plan, I avoided anything that required thinking πŸ™‚ No blogging, no books, nothing about work πŸ™‚


COMMUNING WITH NATURE

I’m not quite sure why I prefer to spend my short vacations in mountain areas and not beaches as most people from this part of the world crave to do. Other than my wife dreading the tan ( they say it’s easy to spot Pinays in Disneyworld; they wear long sleeves in the dead of summer), I might have been a reincarnated hunter πŸ™‚ The peace and quiet of mountain areas are quite calming and reinvigorating for me.

The Poconos Mountains in Pennsylvania was my choice and boy was I gratified. Here’s shots of deer I took just about 50 yards one early morning from the window of our cottage. I was shooting through the glass window hence the poor resolution of the shots. With the lush vegetation of the area, we were literally living with deers that seemed unperturbed with the presence of humans. Any hunter would say this distance would have been a perfect, spot on shot but of course, this wasn’t a hunting area and I wasn’t on a hunting trip.

The Buskhill Falls is a great place for nature lovers. It’s one place where you can walk through the series of falls via the wooden pathways. If you click on the picture notice the pathways creep through the trees and cliffs to give a better view of the falls.

Here’s a close up of the wooded walkways. The entire falls system will take about 2.5 hours to negotiate. That’s quite a brisk walk, a prefect way to break a sweat, considering the climbing that one needs to do.

In the heat of summer, the mist from the rushing falls is always there to cool you off. We had fun on this trip as my sister’s place in Connecticut is only about 2 hours away. They dropped their two daughters, ages 13 and 7 to be with us for the week and they came back the next weekend and we all went to their place for a couple of days. My daughter had an excellent time bonding with her cousins. We hopped through water parks every day to bask in the sun to the chagrin of my wife. The much dreaded tan was simply unavoidable πŸ™‚


FIL-CAN’S IDOL RUN ENDS

I didn’t realize this good looking lass was half Pinoy until I saw a “support Martha Joy” posters in Pinoy stores many weeks ago . The poster urged Pinoys to support Martha Joy Lim ( her mother’s surname) in her Canadian Idol bid. Her father is Portuguese. With her youthful and beautiful looks, Martha Joy looked like a runaway winner, if she could pull the singing part together. She’s only 16 but her singing skills are fundamentally solid. She made it to the top 10 and my only concern was her penchant for singing Celine Dion songs which I thought was rather risky. It wasn’t hard to figure out she was trying to showcase her wide vocal range which could be shrieky at times. The judges’ consistent comments about her lack of emotion was one thing that her supporters were hoping for her to seriously work on because an Idol requires the complete package – technical skills and showmanship. One judge also commented that she may have difficulty in singing faster songs.

The ax finally fell at the top 8 segment when she was booted out from the show. I thought it was rather premature for her to go. I was expecting her to reach the top 3 but I guess the judges’ comments were a foreboding of things to come. The top 8 segment theme was “unplugged” with Enrique Iglesias as guest and mentor for the contestants. The reason why she was booted out as due to poor song choice and mediocre performance. Her selection of True Colors ( originally sang by Cindy Lauper and recently popularized by Phil Collins) , a slow, boring and lifeless song and I don’t care if it is a Lea Salonga interpretation , was recipe for disaster. Let me don the proverbial Simon Cowell cap now.The other reason was her rather tacky choice of sartorial garb. Martha Joy looks like a smart dresser but geez, clothes are supplied free – could she have chosen something a bit more classy and sophisticated? Anyways, here’s a clip of the segment 8 debacle. Ye be judge. On the bright side, she’s only 16 years old. Darn, she could have waited for a couple more years.

http://youtube.com/watch?v=DRzBdeA8I8o

THE BEST DONUT SHOP JOB EVER

Ever imagined making $4,500 a month, free board and lodging for a job at a donut shop ? Well, it does exist – a 6 month tenure at Tim Horton’s donut shop within the shelter and confines of the Canadian Forces Base in Kandahar, Afghanistan ! Apparently there’s no shortage of risk takers. When the ad was published by the government, 100 applications were received the day after. Come to think of it – would you need a cash register at the base? Me thinks no soldier in a war zone would bother to shell out loonies and quarters for a donut and coffee. Well there you go – the tab is on the government so no math skills required for this job !

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33 Responses

  1. “I might have been a reincarnated hunter”

    …or maybe a reincarnated NPA? hehe kidding bro.

    Martha Joy…she doesn’t look 16…looks older or maybe it’s just me πŸ™‚ too bad.

    Glad your back…kinda miss you in the blogosphere =)

  2. OMG!!!! You’re back. =)

  3. Welcome back bro…nice to read you once again.

    I was thinking really how it is so ideal in North America to be a nature lover and a happy camper; one can just hopped into a camper van, bring tents and food, and pitch camp in the wilderness. But hereat, it would be too dangerous like no place is safe enough for camping.

    But thereat, there’s the Great Outdoor.

  4. The U.S. is a one Great outdoor preserve and Pennsylvania has one of the lush moungtains and bushes. You can go hunting there during the season and they have quite a generous tag limits for deers, same as new york state.

    A good friend of mine, a reincarnated NPA (that’s true,vern)hunts in new york and gave me some of his harvest.
    That’s a refreshing break bw, I think i needed some, going there in november, in philadelphia though, just the same be passing the mountains…

  5. Hey welcome back! It seems a lo of people are back to blogging lately and that’s very good.

    That place is just great. I would have enjoyed myself as well if I visited that place.

  6. Welcome back!!!
    That picture of the deer almost made me want to sing, “As the deer panteth for the water…so my soul longeth after thee…” πŸ™‚

    Nakakainggit ka naman. You sound so rejuvenated. I would love to spend time at a place like that someday.

  7. Ey, welcome back bro. Looks like that month-long respite and trip through the mountains gave you back your blogginh mojos. πŸ™‚

    BTW, is that job in Afghanistan open to Pinoy citizens? I bet people here will kill for that position. Hehehe πŸ˜€

  8. Well done with your blogging sabbatical! Glad to see you back.

    ***

    I’m not into this (insert nationality) Idol Idol thing. But I did click on the YouTube link for my reference. Well, what can I say? She’s no Regine Velasquez or Lea Salonga. But then again, she’s just 16 and may still improve. (She did choose the wrong song for a singing competition of that scale.)

  9. Welcome back BW. The photos of your adventure in the mountains look great.

    We were at Ontario place last Saturday and braved the traffic with Caribana. It was fun though.

    I agree, Martha Joy could have picked better songs and dressed more appropriately for her age. She looked 20+. My brother voted for her endlessly for an hour. She’s the daughter or was it niece of one of his friends kasi.
    Sayang, she should have reached at least top 5. I guess the judges have their favourites already.

  10. The pathways on Buskhill Falls remind me of the ones we climbed at Banff when we went on top of Sulphur Mountain. There was also a wooded trail like that.

    I haven’t watched this season’s Idol yet. I don’t know, but I’m always late when it comes to Canadian Idol. I only catch up when there are only two or three left in the finals. Martha Joy is a very pretty young lady, and she didn’t sound that bad. But I tend to agree with the judges when it comes to singing diva songs. Unless they can really pull it off, it could be the contestants’ downfall.

  11. Verns – being a reincarnated NPA – LOL πŸ™‚ I love to hunt animals and not people hehe πŸ™‚

    Martha Joy does look older than 16 years I agree. She does possess the star quality. Sayang, she wasn’t coached well and got eliminated quite early. Yes, I kinda missed blogging too and by the way, I read the readers comments on your “so am I weird? or are they weirder post” and was chuckling over hilarious comments over some guys desperately trying hard to woo the girl, including inviting her to fake bible studies..hehehe . Now THAT is sooo damn funny!

  12. Jeff – you bet bro – I’m back again but seriously I needed this break. I was working on a project when one of the key guys in my team did not show up to work two days prior to cutover because of an allegedly kidney stone procedure done on him. Not sure what he was up to although we know that he has a kidney stone but the timing of it all was kinda suspicious. I got another body to replace him and survived but the stress was overwhelming.. I told my boss that I don’t want to work with him in future projects come hell or high water. I am pissed like hell with a no show and who wouldn’t? Bad for him that he needs me more than I need him. He pulled up another no show stunt when I was on vacation and my boss was equally pissed had to call me to join a conference call. I have a feeling he wants to be fired with a termination package which he will probably get – in his dreams πŸ™‚ Oh well, that’s life bro and frankly, there’s so much to live for than worrying about some numnuts at work πŸ™‚

  13. Major Tom – there’s an abundance of supervised camping grounds here where you can camp overnight within the campgrounds. You get electricity and running water , cable TV hookup and there’s toilet and bath facilities available so it’s really not wilderness camping per se but you will enjoy sleeping in your tent. That’s what most people do – rove and sleep over in campgrounds which is very cheap compared to hotels, in some cases just $20 a day for a spot. Unfortunately camping is not my wife’s cup of tea πŸ™‚ She can’t pass over the bed for a mat πŸ™‚

  14. Vic – that’s true and I heard that the deer population over there is so healthy. BTW there was a gun range in the area that accepted any one who wants to shoot up to automatic weapons in their gun rack, even beginners are welcome as long as you pay LOL πŸ™‚ but with instructor supervision ! I didn’t go although I wanted badly. Something in me says – what if some deranged idiot starts shooting away at people ala Columbine High School style ? Better safe than sorry πŸ™‚

  15. Ferdz – you would enjoy it coz with an hours drive there’s so many things to do – kayaking, fishing, biking, hiking, golf and there’s lots of water parks too. A professional photographer like you would surely love to take shots of the outdoors πŸ™‚

  16. Kathy – you’ve been here before so why not go to a mountain resort next time you pass by πŸ™‚ I remember that beautiful Christian song … ” you alone are my heart’s desire and I long to worship you “… is one of the verses I think. Yes, we see deer even at night and the narrow country roads – pretty scary but we drive slow anyways !

  17. Snglguy – I lost 10 pounds before we went on vacation and lo and behold, I got it all back after the trip πŸ™‚ I think the job is just for Canadians the fact that it is within the miltary service. Not many people know that 68 Canadian soldiers have died in Afghanistan since the coalition drove the Taliban rouge government. This year alone, 22 have died as of month of July count. The Canadian forces are assigned to the toughest area – Kandahar, where the Taliban activity have been the greatest. The Tim Horton donut workers are given safety training before deployment. It’s no so bad I think if you bunkered are inside the base as the perimeter is fully guarded and protected, except for the ocassional mortar attacks πŸ™‚

  18. Jayred – I love how you say Idol Idol… hehehe.. wala bang Swiss Idol? LOL πŸ™‚ Well, methinks and so do many people that Martha Joy could win. She is well equipped with a great voice and gorgeous looks but was badly coached. Suffice to say that the judges and the people who ultimately vote look for originality and personal style in voting for an Idol. It would be foolhardly to vote for an Idol who is a clone of Celine Dion. If she sang songs where she didn’t have to shout she could have stayed on and probably win the darn contest πŸ™‚

  19. Leah – that was brave of you to drive downtown during the Caribana ! I’m sure you guys enjoyed Ontario Place with the beautiful and sunny weather. We drove to Barrie and the 70 km trek took us 2.5 hours. I have never seen Hway400 so clogged up going up north !

    I was hoping for Martha Joy to improve and get to the top 3 and even with the darn contest.One Pinay lady in her fifties told my wife at a Pinoy store that she voted for Martha Joy 100 times in one night hehe πŸ™‚ The judges I thought had mixed reviews but I do agree that Martha Joy hasn’t established her style and performed like she was doing karaoke. I wish her well if she embarks on a singing career.

  20. so your wife dreads having a tan, huh? hehe

    nice wooden pathways. must’ve taken a lot of effort to construct it. the waterfall is cool, too.

    I’ll have to pass on the donut shop job. don’t really want to end up on a hostage video. Can you imagine if you got captured by the taliban after taking that job? “Sheesh! what was I thinking?” πŸ˜‰

  21. magkakasundo tayo BW, mas gusto ko sa mountains kaysa beach o kaya theme park. ewan ko kung ano meron sa bundok pero mas na re refresh ako kahit kapagod na umakyat.

    open pa ba sa donut shop na yan, makapag-apply nga, hehe

  22. Welcome back, BW! Seems like you’re well rested and ready to spit out more interesting posts.

  23. Wil – yep, my wife dreads the tan. Don’t think she’ll ever become a surfing afficionado like yourself,
    hehe πŸ™‚

    Well, the action in Kandahar seems to be in the outskirts more than the inner city. Of course, the dreaded roadside bombing always hovers in the background but if one is living inside the base
    I think it’s pretty safe.

  24. Iskoo – totoo. There’s something mystical and special about mountains, lalo na sa photography nut na katulad mo πŸ™‚ Last spring I was in Lake Placid, in the Adirondack mountains of Eastern NY, where the U.S. Olympic team train all year round. I played a golf course in a mountainous area and loved the fresh air and the wonderful scenery.
    I haven’t even posted pics of my spring trip yet πŸ™‚

    Gusto mong mag trabaho sa Kandahar ha..hehe.. I think it’s OK for you who is single.. They even hire women so I guess it’s safe. Boy I could imagine you’d be taking a lot of photos to spice up your photoblog let alone bringing home some serious money πŸ™‚

  25. Correction on my reply to Iskoo :

    “where the U.S. Winter Olympic team train all year round”

  26. welcome back!

    ako i prefer the beach. ayoko na ng camping. namamatay kuko ko. hahaha.

    and re the donut shop.. did you apply? hehehe ;p

  27. Tin – I love both the beach and camping. I really don’t care if I get tanned in the beach because I know my original skin color would always come back πŸ™‚ Camping is sort of an adventure really and some people such as my wife could not take that little bit of inconvenience πŸ™‚

  28. Martha Joy is certainly gifted with those gorgeous looks, but such comes a dime a dozen with all the hopefuls that get off the Greyhound bus in Los Angeles seeking fame and fortune.

    At only 16, if I were her parent, I would have invested and provided her with an excellent vocal coach, as well as have her wait another couple of years before going public.

    But then again, sometimes, it is the parents who couldn’t wait for their children to become mega stars.

  29. Eric – absolutely. She’s in grade 11 and with one year more to go she could graduate from high school. I thought her entry was premature but then again she had been showcasing her singing talent in Pinoy social functions such as Miss Canada Phils and others. Maybe her parents thought she could pull it off with the Idol. Nothing wrong if she comes back a couple of years later better prepared but it’s another long grind πŸ™‚

  30. That’s a lovely retreat you have there. Now, ready for more blogging? πŸ™‚

    I agree that she looks older than her age…hmmm…make-up?

  31. Ipanema – thanks. I guess I’m well rested enough to resume blogging πŸ™‚

    She does look older than 16 – probably because of her European genes πŸ™‚ Clothes and make-up for the finalists are given free by fashion consultants, paid for by the Idol production. I think she needs clothes that would radiate her beauty a bit more, if not make her look her age πŸ™‚

  32. “Jayred – I love how you say Idol Idol… hehehe.. wala bang Swiss Idol? LOL.”

    πŸ™‚

    I think there is, but maybe it has another name, MusicStar. I tell you, the Swiss singers are not half as good as ours (Regine Velasquez or Lea Salonga). Puede ako sumali sa MusicStar with its low standard. LOL. Pang-karaoke lang sa tingin ko (bad, bad girl). LOL

  33. Jayred – LOL πŸ™‚ korek ka dyan. Sa Pinas mataas ang standard natin sa singing talent πŸ™‚ Come to think of it, our musicians and composers aren’t bad either.

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