Hello, Environment!

Let us not stop bringing children closer to the environment.

Traveling with Kids

These are their first little steps toward exploring the world, and you are privileged to take those steps with them.

A Yummy Database!

I accumulated so many recipes that I have created this simple recipe database to store them in.

Hydroponic Systems: Grow a Garden Without Soil

Environment-friendly and space-saving way to grow your own food.

Why Prayer is the Best Stress Reliever

To banish stress, try prayers.

My Fitness Adventure - the Beginning

Thus began my journey to bring good health into my life.

The IT Men and Women

People who work in the IT industry are in a class of their own.

Does God Really Listen and Answer Prayers?

If we are not sure that He will listen, does this mean we should quit praying?

Where is the Followers Gadget in Blogger?

If you'd still like to use the old Followers gadget in Blogger, here's how.

Pesto Love

You can wing it with pesto and never go wrong with the taste.

Jan 29, 2012

Hello, Environment!

Kids will be kids, and they often ask questions that leave adults stumped. While watching a rerun of Wall-E not so recently, they expectedly stayed glued to the screen all throughout the movie, laughed at the funny antics of the characters, and jumped up and down  in delight at every good part. They enjoyed it immensely and at the end of it, asked this question: "Why did the Earth become like that, you know, like, all covered in garbage?"

I was nonplussed, needless to say. Wall-E was just another animated movie for children. It's an offering from Pixar about a robot that inhabited the Earth after it was covered in tons of garbage and man no longer lives in it.  The location in the movie is a future Earth that is not a good environment for children.  The movie had all the goods -- good graphics animation, great characters, fascinating dialogues, and a very interesting plot -- but it had something more: a message to kids about the perils of not taking care of the planet.  And more than that, it also carried a warning to parents that, if we don't take care of it ourselves today, there won't be much of an environment for children in the future.

I did quick parent duty and answered the question as best as I could, but at the back of my mind something nagged. Fact: children nowadays are TV-bound but are still clearly analytical. Fact: the world they live in now is a far cry from the world we parents knew when we were still children. Fact: We parents should really do something about it.

So when two other movies made it through our rerun agenda -- Madagascar and The Wild -- and both of them about the environment too, it's time to hit the trails and have a little meet-and-greet with nature.

With a promise to show them a little bit of the "wilds" that Alex the Lion, Marty the Zebra, Gloria the Hippo, and Melman the Giraffe encountered in the island of Madagascar, we took off to nearby Mount Makiling. 

Wearing jogging pants and sturdy rubber shoes, we drove past the entrance to the National Arts Center and took the road going towards the Pook ni Mariang Makiling site. We left our vehicle at the entrance to the Jamboree site camp grounds and began walking.  Beyond is the waiting environment for children to explore.

The lush rainforest enclosed us immediately. The silence was deafening but pleasant, broken only by the wind rustling through tree leaves and the excited chatter of our children. Ohs, and ahs, and wows!  As if in welcome, the trees stood proudly, gigantic and conveying their antiquity -- regal beings in this environment for children to marvel upon.  And the children were indeed appropriately awed. They haven't seen the likes of such vast works of nature until then.

It seemed Mother Nature had prepared an extravagant show of the environment for children to enjoy.  We saw a lot of unique plants, strange rocks, and interesting structures as we continued our unhurried walk. There were tiny streams of water running through cracks on the earth. The children saw large spider webs and started at the sound of birds and crickets chirping nearby. They were disappointed not to meet a single lion, however, despite explaining to them that no lion lives in this mountain. 

It was a pleasant sojourn. Everything was new to them, but they took to it like ducks to water. We did not preach about the environment (they were too young for it), but instead just allowed them to soak it in, to be in communion with nature by themselves, and allow them to process the experiences they had that afternoon on their own.  

We picked that site for its relative safety particularly to children. It was still part of the Makiling Forest Reserve and very close to "civilization". Yet it has all the elements for a quick study of the environment -- a perfect environment for children.

As long as we feel a wave of pity for children who may no longer have the privilege to experience many of nature's gifts -- walk on rainforests, fish on pristine rivers, inhale fresh air and the like -- let us not stop bringing them closer to the environment.  For it may be gone before we know it.

But as long as we parents work on protecting our natural resources today, we are assured that there will certainly be an environment for children in the future.

Jan 27, 2012

A yummy database!

As busy as you are, why not try to squeeze in time for cooking? It's another stress-buster, believe it or not. All that dicing, slicing and stirring wrench your mind away from deadlines, the bills, the future, getting old... and all the heavy stuff.

There's nothing like being near a fire to beat off the chill in the heart and mind. It's nice too that you can channel pent-up anger and emotion when slicing those meats and vegetables to bits and pieces. And the most glorious feeling of all is when out comes well-cooked food delightedly eaten by your loved ones. Small goals are involved in cooking, but the successes are immensely gratifying.

If you have recipe books bought from stores or passed down from your mothers, you can use that to cook up a storm. But you can also frequent online food sites just to see what's cooking nowadays everywhere around the world. A favorite haunt is FoodNetwork.com. They have recipes from all categories from top chefs in the industry. What's particularly nice is that readers can post comments on how the recipe turned out when they cooked it, so you can glean from their comments if the recipe is any good or not.

I accumulated so many recipes from online sites that I have created this simple recipe database to store them in. Previously the recipes are saved in Notepad or Word, some in MS-Excel, that I get frustrated when searching for any particular recipe in this disorganized mess.

This is an MS-Access database, and I flexed a bit of my rusty Visual Basic and Access programming muscles to create this database. The end product is one you can decently use. It allows you to add your recipe -- title, ingredients, instructions, etc. There's even a button to print the recipe in a neat one-page format, so you can place your notebook on the kitchen table and view the recipe conveniently as you cook.

Oh, and here is the link to the database.  It's a zip file.

Have fun cooking! Do share any recipes you may have.

The IT men and women

My blog is getting lonely and I invoked the powers of social networking to move things along. I shared this blog's link to my 400-shy Facebook friends, asking (no, begging) them to visit the lonesome blog.

I'm glad I did, because it initiated a running chat with my past colleagues when I used to work in an IT infrastructure group of a multinational company. These guys are Linux and Windows SysAds and one is an IT security guy to boot.

How's that again? In layman's term, these guys take care of the "computers" (servers) and the "programs" (systems) therein that "ordinary people" (end-users) use to do their work, buy their stuff, watch their videos, or even play their games.

Back to my earlier statement: "IT" is information technology or "something related to computers and is kind of geeky". An "infrastructure group" is an even geekier word for a team of people who stare at computer consoles everyday to make sure that the computer systems are always "up" (good thing) and to make them so when they're "down" (bad thing). In a "down" scenario, there could be a lot of cursing usually directed at this "IT infrastructure group" of people. The "SysAds" are systems administrators that are pretty much the object of the cursing, peace.

I hope I really do have the power of words to explain what IT guys do without doing the equivalent of knifing my readers in the brain. Suffice to say that the people who work in the IT industry are in a class of their own. In my opinion, they are of the same class as the men and women who man nuclear submarines.

Really? Wow! How come? Well, come to think of it. Nuclear submariners are technical to their core. So are IT people. The sub guys take their jobs home with them (they live on the subs for months, right?). IT peeps do the same. Sub guys are always on-call 24x7. Guess what? So are IT people. When systems go crazy, sub guys are in alert mode in less than a minute. IT people are at "battle stations" mode in similar situations. When systems screw up, sub guys lose the government tons of money. Ditto IT guys losing their companies money. And when sub guys screw up, they lose their jobs and their heads. Hey, unnerving! So do IT citizens! The only way that IT guys differ from sub guys is that the former don't glow in the dark (look it up, it's a joke).

So these unique breed are patient, tenacious, thrive on pressure, don't mince words (down is down by any name so no need to sugar-coat) and are totally devoted to their calling (anything less and they won't be able to get the system up). They are insomniacs, have perfected the art of gritting their teeth while talking to users, have mastered the science of rolling their eyes when talking to users on the phone, and are experts at biting their tongues to keep from arguing with their bosses (they argue with computers, not bosses).  Oh, and did I say their typing speeds are at ridiculous levels?

And I'm proud to call myself one of them...

Tools of the trade...

Jan 26, 2012

The journey of a thousand steps

I slow down by speeding up. Is there something wrong with this sentence? Let me explain.

Can you relate when I say that we are on overdrive mode most hours of our everyday life? We wake up, eat, shower and hit the ground running, literally. We do our work, go to school, see to the kids, chat with friends, argue with our bosses, quarrel with the hubby or partner, scheme, plot, love, fight, and a lot more stuff that set our day in a whirlwind of activities.

When we are required to maintain a performance-level kind of life, where we are always "on", it gets kind of tiring after a while. Stress levels can kill, literally. When you feel the onset of burn-out or a nervous breakdown, try an effective counter-strategy: speed up.

How do you that? Take my case, for instance. There are miles of open roads and pathways at the university near to where I live. I either walk, jog or run. It's good for the body according to science. But it's also good for the mind and the soul.

When my feet are pounding the ground, I take stock of the things I experience at that moment. The sun shining and warming my skin, the feel of the breeze in my hair, the greens of shrubs and trees and plants. It does you a world of good to nod and smile at strangers you meet along the way.

It's always a journey, and always an exhilarating experience. Your mind is free from cares and worries for a little while. You think differently and of other things than what you normally think about. And at the end of it, you feel a good kind of tired, as if you have cleared the cobwebs in your mind and exorcised the negative vibes in your soul.

And lastly, it reaffirms your belief in the order of things when you feel your heart pounding, your body aching, and your breathe catching -- reminding you that you are still alive and that this is exactly the way to live.

Joy of Writing = Joy of Reading

Got the first comment from my first-ever reader, Sheena, and I'm ecstatic! Sheena read my first-ever post What's in a blog name? and posted a nice comment.

Albeit, Sheena is an online marketer doing SEO work for a client, but it's still nice of her to leave a nice message and say hi for stopping by. I consider it good luck that the first reader liked the first post of this blog. Thank you, Sheena!

Many people don't realize it, but writing can be a difficult task. There is a side of the brain that works to fuse together words and thoughts. There's the added struggle to make the words flow like music or water or something harmonic and beautiful. Even the most gifted of writers undergo this process, I think. It's not on the side of easy, mind. The point is that writing can be a humbling experience for any writer. It is a struggle, and often a wish that the struggle is appreciated by even even one reader. Even the proudest and most successful of writers beg.

So when readers appreciate and take delight in what they read, the writer is happy. Well-worth the effort, as they say. The deepest wish of a writer is to channel his or her joy when he or she was doing the writing into the reader's joy when he or she is doing the reading.

Otherwise, what would be the point of even lifting a finger to type the first letter?

Jan 25, 2012

What's in a blog name?

It's one of the hardest things, really. Choosing a name for your blog. I've been writing for other blogs as part of my work and my passion, but when it comes down to choosing a blog title for my first personal blog, it was no walk in the park.

So how did I end up with "Tins' Corner" for my blog name? Oh, the story behind it! I was thinking of something cozy but not cheesy (through-the-looking-glass-ish). I was thinking of something that will go down as a classic (read: current) even 10 years from now (Tins' World?). But when I tried to register that to (hang my head here) Wordpress, the name is already taken!

So I improvised and got carried away, and moved to "Seize the day". Again, taken! When I finally settled with "Tins' Corner" as something I can live with (and I hope my future readers can bear with), this one is amazingly available at Wordpress. I'm beginning to see a light at the end of this already-minutes-long tunnel.

And what do you know, Wordpress is still as painful to me as it was a couple of years ago -- the displays are off, the page loads slow, sometimes not at all -- and reminded me again that I better move out of there fast and home in on my trusty friend -- Blogger.

So "Tin's Corner" at Blogger is available, and now it's here, hot off the press. The combination of luck or serendipity, or even the movements of fate, destiny, celestial beings, or God Himself, must be at work here.

Tin's Corner is here to stay.

Jan 2, 2012

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Jan 1, 2012

About Us


I'm Tins.  I'm a database administrator by profession, but a writer at heart.  I can be technical and geeky, emotional and creative at the same time.  The left and right sides of my brain are always in contention, so you can just imagine how it is for me.  Everyday.

Tin's Corner is a personal blog for sharing tips, knowledge and ideas in all topics under the sun.  It's all about life and all there is to it.  This blog is a menagerie of all things in life that touch me, move me, make me laugh, anger me, inspire me.  There are days that the left side of my brain wins, so those days the posts will probably reflect this.  When it's the right side, well... you will know that too.

I hope this blog will be worth your time, and I sincerely hope you take something from this when you leave.