Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Backpacking a Möbius Strip

The Sketching Backpacker by Robert AlejandroOne of the things I want to do is to backpack; be it alone or in a group. I don't mind walking with a load on my back. I don't mind the sun; I'm dark-skinned anyway. I don't mind being lost; a sense of fulfillment when finding the way is inviting. Not to mention the adventure I can get especially in an unfamiliar place. I plan to backpack Europe before I die or before I get married (whichever comes first) prefering to be alone at first and then meet some fellow backpackers on the way. But then, I have to save up "big-time" for this adventure. Anyway, I don't think the Angel of Death nor Cupid is scheduled to arrive at my doorstep yet so I still have time. I just hope Cupid is faster but not too fast. :)

And then I stumble upon this article about Robert Alejandro (one of the hosts of The Probe Team) and his adventure across Southeast Asia. With a gel pen and a paper, he did sketches of the things he encountered and of the people he met. Nine countries. A tight Php 50,000 budget. Ten weeks. Interweaved cultures. Sights, sounds and aroma. Priceless memories. All of these in his illustrated book for us to be inspired. I have.

The Sketching Backpacker, a tome collecting the artist’s vivid journal entries while trekking with friends, is also a handy companion to travelers who wish to discover the region’s scenic destinations, historic landmarks, and unique bargains.

Available at Travel Club stores.

GMT 0 Accra, Ghana

Friday, March 13, 2009


in Norse mythology, the goddess of love and fertility but then banished as a witch; Friday was named after her

Greek for "three" (3)

Greek for "and"

Greek for "ten" (10)

from the Greek phóbos, "fear"

We have Friday The 13th thrice this year! One we had last February. Of course, today. The other would be in November. I personally don't know of anyone who is mortally afraid of Friday The 13th. If this kind of phobia has a declining rate in recent years, that I'm not sure of. But then, most of the living souls today believe in luck and all of them wouldn't like to meet the bad one. Who would? However, too much dependence on this belief breeds fear.

Do you want to enjoy life or what? :-)

GMT 0 Accra, Ghana

Thursday, March 12, 2009

A Game of Monopoly

It's been a tough year for the richest people in the world.
Last year there were 1,125 billionaires.
This year there are just 793 people rich enough to make our list.
The world has become a wealth wasteland... [Read on Forbes.com]

Really? And we're supposed to empathize with them? As far as I know, the world has been a wealth wasteland from the day man started to gauge his existence on the mound of gold under his feet. Sadly, only a few can amass an Everest.

When I wrote one blog on the onset of the financial crisis, I thought that the world can go on bankrupt; afterall it was the common term one can hear over the news back then. I thought the money went up in smoke. I stand corrected. A friend of mine dropped a comment on that blog:

"Dude search and download for Zeitgeist and Zeitgeist Addendum on the torrent sites. That will explain where the money went. Wealth is never lost, it just get transferred to a few people who control the world's economy."

Haven't watched those downloads though; I'll save them for later, and maybe for another blog. But interesting to note is the fact that the wealth of the world is still in the hands of these few people. The news on the fall of AIG didn't solicited empathy for long when its top executives went on celebrating with a lavish party of champagne and caviar at the posh St. Regis Monarch Beach Resort in Southern California, just 2 weeks after US taxpayers bailed out the insurance corporation for $85 billion. It's funny to think–and you don't see me laughing–that Forbes is saying that the world's richest are also a lot poorer. Well, technically they are indeed poorer with the topnotcher Bill Gates' fortune from $40 Billion down to $18 Billion; more than 50% loss. Indeed it's a different and lofty bar and you'll see the rest of the world gazing at the stars, driveling. But most of them, starving. Yes, 50% loss is a lot. So what if Gates lost this amount of money? Maybe those people in the financial institutions that knows how this works might argue that in having a sound business or a healthy economy, one should not have losses in his account books. They might have a point. But then, really, will Gates be unable to pay his bill after he lost that amount? Will he die of starvation? Maybe he can die of depression, but that would be foolish. Now imagine a homeless man with less than a dollar in his pocket and 50% of it is lost, he has been depressed all his life and the only thing that separates him from an impending demise is the will to live; a will that can't be sustained for long with an empty stomach.

Social and economic inequality has been here since time immemorial. Well maybe after the fall of man from the Garden of Eden. And I don't think I can see Utopia in my lifetime. It will be hard for mankind to realize this perfect world where society's central role is played not by money, but rather by the need for transcendence. The world is not fair as we know it today, and it is a reality that greets me every morning on my way to work here in Ghana. I came to this African country as a consultant yet there are a lot of Ghanaians that can be educated to do the same things I do in my work. But I see them in the streets instead. If those Forbes' richest have the monopoly on the world's wealth, I reckon I'm part of a group that has a monopoly on one of the opportunities that can give a better life. Especially now that the world is on recession, companies abroad are somewhat picky on people they hire as expatriates; taking those with more experience. I bet there are lots of monopolies out there. One faction may be covetous of the other's monopoly and the others may go on envying everyone. I envy Bill Gates but envy is a sin.

Monopolies will not last forever; the game has to be over soon.

GMT 0 Accra, Ghana

Saturday, March 7, 2009


For these past weeks–accumulating to a month actually–I had a hard time updating this blog. Project-end workload. Intermittent Wi-Fi in my flat (this one pisses me off). But mainly because I don't have any inspiring, or say worthwhile, subject that merits my "non-work" time. I better have sleep instead (no more vivid dreams). There are some instances, however, that I tried starting an entry yet nothing. It came to a point that for the sake of having a February entry, I attempted to post:


But I thought it's a waste of bytes.

Yet most of the time, in this age of instant messaging (i.e. chat and SMS), this symbol can say a lot more than a paragraph. Intended to denote either an intentional omission of a word or a phrase from the original text or to indicate a pause in speech, an unfinished thought or, at the end of a sentence, a trailing off into silence [wikipedia], ellipsis has become one of the staple typographical constructions in chat rooms and SMS. One can either use the standard three dots (MS Word ensures this when it auto-corrects) or an extended version of up to dozens of dots (it depends on the mood). Sometimes I think people overuse this. But then again, most conversations are not meant to be ended with a single dot. The question now is how to keep it going; not necessarily by words.

One should read between the lines but sometimes, it is better to act beyond the dots.

GMT 0 Accra, Ghana