Tuesday, February 27, 2007

"Our Generation's Genius"

The Oscars are over. And I'm just as pleased as almost everyone else that Martin Scorcese finally has a Best Director Oscar. I guess I'm glad on some level that Helen Mirren got an Oscar for best actress. She was superb in 'The Queen' but despite all the odds, I was still hoping for Meryl Streep to beat the odds and take her third Oscar (2nd for best actress). She does have the record for the most Oscar nominations - 14. But this also means she has lost more times than anyone else (at least in the acting categories).

So anyway here's a bit of a tribute to the Marvellous Meryl Streep, whom Diane Keaton calls "My Generation's Genius" (Diane's tribute to Meryl in 2004 when Meryl was given the American Film Institute Lifetime Achievement Award:

After all, she not only can act...

(my fave scene in 'The Devil Wears Prada'):

She can also sing...

(from 'Postcards from the Edge' - if there is any vid in this post you watch from start to finish, this should be it):

(and from 'A Prairie Home Companion')

And no one does accents and even languages better than her!

Speaking in perfect Polish in "Sophie's Choice" (warning: this video is extremely heart-wrenching!!)

Speaking in perfect German, also in "Sophie's Choice"

And copying Lindy Chamberlain's half-Australian/half-New Zealand accent to perfection in "A Cry in the Dark"

Congratulations again to all the Oscar winners. I am just hoping that at some point in the future, Meryl wins at least a couple more.

Friday, February 23, 2007

[SWEDEN] Where the hell is Frosty?

You know, the Snowman? I mean, I thought I was in Winter Wonderland. Unfortunately, I didn't really see him anywhere. Guess that must have explained the lack of jolliness despite the large amounts of snow.

It started snowing lightly but continuously yesterday afternoon. The forecast wasn't good though. Satellite shots in DMI indicated that this red "blob" was initially heading out towards the Baltic Sea and was supposed to miss Sweden completely, but it changed directions last minute and made its way to the south of Sweden. I had a meeting from 430 to 5pm that I didn’t want to skip coz it was with a person who was so hard to get on the phone. By 5pm there were almost no people left in the office.

I step out into the parking lot only to see that the ground has been covered in snow. My car wasn't completely covered in snow yet, but I needed to use my ice scraper to get the ice off the windshield and windows.

Driving in snow was no longer unfamiliar to me so I wasn't all the worried. Up until my windshield started fogging up. Thankfully it's just a 5-km drive. I managed to get through.

On my way to church for Ash Wednesday mass, I realized it was not the best night to go walking around the city. The snowflakes were gritty, like tiny bits of ice. And with the wind blowing really hard, the snowflakes hitting my face, the only part of my body that was exposed, actually hurt. Kinda like when you are in the beach and the wind starts blowing really hard and the sand starts slamming against your skin. Not fun.

Anyway, here's how the streets were last night. Not the best road conditions to be driving on, but still manageable.

And here's how the roads looked this morning, I guess after the snow kept falling all night. Had to make sure I drove a bit more slowly. I also saw a couple of snow plows getting rid of the snow on the streets.

By the end of the day, the snow and ice on the roads had turned into cold, gray, sludgy slush (check out the left side of the picture below)...

Oh and I actually slipped on the frickin' ice! And not the whoops-I-almost-took-a-spill-there kind. I mean the embarrassing, butt-right-smack-on-the-ground kind. I just bought a sandwich and a coke light in can from Subway and was heading back to the hotel when I stepped on a slippery patch with my right foot. I think the laptop on my right shoulder made it difficult for me to regain my balance and the next thing I know, my butt is on the icy sidewalk and my sandwich and coke had slipped out of my hand! And since I involuntarily shouted "Sh*t" when I fell, everyone around me looked my way and saw me sprawled on the ground. How humiliating hahaha! Thank God I had gotten a coke light in can, and that my sandwich and coke were in a plastic bag.

It's supposed to get warmer beginning tomorrow, but in case Lund remains snow-covered by the weekend, I'll try to take more pictures while the sun is up. I bet the park behind my hotel looks really nice now.

This really has been the most snow I've ever seen in my life. My colleague told me this is the most snow that Lund has had for a while. A bit of a hassle really but when I think about it, it really is a great experience.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Way to go, Liverpool!

I was flipping through channels a couple of hours ago when I saw the beginning of the 2nd half of Liverpool's Champion's League match against Barcelona at the Nou Camp in Spain. With Barca having the home court advantage for the first leg of their match-up, you had to give the defending champions the upper hand.

So when I saw the score to be 1-1, I felt there was a chance. Even a draw would be acceptable to some degree. After all, it was Barcelona. But at the 74th minute, a lapse in defense by Barcelona gave Liverpool the lead, as Riise smashed the ball into the back of the Barca goal to give Liverpool the lead! Which they managed to keep the rest of the way, despite a few scares, giving them the all-important away win as they head to England for the second leg of their match-up on March 6.

Good luck, Liverpool!!!

[SWEDEN] Ash Wednesday

It took me all of 5 weeks to figure out where the Catholic church was. The first couple of weeks I was asking the receptionists at the hotel if they knew where I could find one, and they didn't know. So I asked my relocation person if she could get this information for me and she found me an address. I looked it up in mapquest but I couldn't find it. So I asked the hotel receptionists again if they could direct me to where this address was, and they still couldn't. Semi-desperate, I tried it out again in mapquest last week but this time I entered Katolska Kyrkan (Catholic church) and I found it!

I made my way there last Saturday morning to check out the mass schedule - apparently, masses are on Sunday at 10am and anticipated masses on Saturday at 6pm. I figure I rarely get up before 10am on Sunday so I attended the anticipated mass at 6pm. And towards the end of the mas, I realized that I had found the church "just in time" - the priest announced (in Swedish first, then in English, then in Spanish - talk about multi-lingual) that today would be Ash Wednesday, and he shared the mass schedule. If it weren't for that announcement, I would have most likely missed the only mass today which was at 6pm.

Aside from going to mass, I also fasted (i.e. had only one full meal but had some fruit and snacks the rest of the day). But I didn't abstain. There were two choices for lunch - one was potatoes with ground meat and the other was like a meat stew. Had to take the "lesser of two evils" (the potatoes). Normally they serve potatoes (either mashed or boiled) and I was thinking, since I was planning to fast, I needed to eat something heavy for lunch (and not the small side salads that are also available in the canteen). But there were no plain potatoes today, so I just had the one with ground meat. I'm guessing I won't be able to successfully abstain while I am here either. We'll just have to see what happens.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

[SWEDEN] Stupid Mistake

Mistakes, actually. I've been quite the klutz and scatter-brain since shortly before I left for Sweden up until now. Here's a collection of the many bloopers I've made in the last two months:

1. I bought two packs of Gillette Sensor Excel refills to make sure I had enough to last me a few months at least. Smart plan. Would've been smarter if I bought Mach 3 refills since my razor was a Mach 3. Sheesh! To make matters worse, I only realized my mistake when I was about to shave, which meant I had already been here a few days. So my plan to save a bit of money by stocking up on razor blades fell flat on its face, and my initial expectation that razors would cost a fortune here was confirmed when I had to pay P700 for 4 refills! (I think this is about 2-3 times the price in Manila).

2. I have two pairs of running shoes at home. The older pair I've been using since my Pledge Run in 2005, and when I noticed lots of wear and tear after last year's marathon, I decided to get a new pair. I thought of bringing running shoes with me here, and I decided to bring the new ones. Of course, it totally slipped my mind that this pair (New Balance) is designed like Adidas Climacool - you know, with all those holes to allow air to come in and out of the shoe easily. Definitely not the shoes you want to have when you are running in a country where the temperature barely goes above 20 degrees, even during the summer.

3. I also bought a pair of leather shoes before I left for Europe - brown Rockports for use at work. I tried them on at Rustan's in Shangri-la mall, but the Rockport sale there (20% off on all items) was over. So I head to Rustan's Makati and see that the same pair is at 20% off. They didn't have my size though, they only had a pair that was a half-size larger. I try them on really quickly, and in the mad rush I think that they fit snugly. Of course I realized later on that I should've stuck with the correct size (Rustan's Shang had it), even if it wasn't discounted. Good thing is that at least these shoes have laces so I can just tighten the laces and the shoes won't fall off.

4. I brought only two pairs of jeans with me. So I guess you could say I was really unfortunate that when I sat down to work on my laptop in my hotel room last weekend, I heard a big RIP! My jeans ripped at the butt area! Now I only have one pair of jeans left. And I'll be damned if I buy jeans here. One the plus side, at least I was lucky enough for the jeans to rip while I was in my hotel room with no one to see it.

5. When I was purchasing winter clothes back home, I decided to just get sweaters and jackets and not to pick up any vests. In retrospect, this was a silly decision because it's quite cumbersome to wear sweaters on top of long sleeved shirts. I really should've gotten at least one.

6. I have this cerulean blue sweater that I got from Marks and Spencer which has now officially become my favorite sweater. (Okay, it's not cerulean. But it is some shade of blue hehe.) Anyway, I just got to my hotel room and I was taking it off when I hear another RIP. Damn! What the h*ll??? My favorite sweater now has a small rip in the collar area. Small enough to not be noticed but big enough for me to see it each time I look in the mirror while wearing it. I am so p*ssed off! I mean, I have a couple of other sweaters and I just had to rip my favorite one. I haven't even had my picture taken in it. Haay, oh well. That's life I guess.

Oh, and if you are ever thinking about buying those nose-hair cutting scissors in Body Shop, don't. Body Shop is a great store - no to animal testing!- but these scissors don't work. They look really nice and are stainless, but their "stainless-ness" essentially disables them from cutting anything. Waste of a whole lotta dough if you ask me!

Monday, February 19, 2007

Prince at the Super Bowl

I saw on the news a week or so ago that Prince performed during half time at the Super Bowl. Folks who watched the event said that Prince was the only one who turned up to play, and that his performance was the only redeeming factor of that rained out Super Bowl, with both teams not playing all that well.

So I looked around for the videos of his performance and I'm putting them up here. Oh and if arguable phallic symbols offend you, you may want to skip the part 2...

Part 1:

Part 2:

Awesome job by Prince. This guy is truly an amazing performer!

Sunday, February 18, 2007

[SWEDEN] My Volvo

Remember I was talking about this Renault Modus I got as my rental car? Well, after having my car for a few days, it started displaying a "Change Oil Soon" message. Not something you expect from a rental car that you've driven for a couple of days only.

So I called Hertz and explained the problem to them. They said that I could return the car so they could have it looked at and fixed if needed, and in the meantime they would lend me another car. They made it clear though that I would be getting the other car back when they had sorted it out.

When I saw my car, I knew why.

I got a Volvo S40. Now I don't know much about cars, but this car was sooo much nicer! You can read more about it here and I'll make sure I take a picture of it (or of me in it haha) before getting back my Modus. After getting the S40, the first thing I thought was, I wish I could just keep this car!

Funny thing about the S40, in relation to me that is, is that it was an automatic. I have driven an automatic only once, with someone else in the car telling me what to do. So when I get in the car and I try to reverse, I can't get it to move. I go back into Hertz and ask them what I need to do and the lady said I need to step on the brake first. Haha, of course I should've known I needed to do that. After all, you have to step on the brake in a stickshift before you can change gears as well.

I had to text Raffa as well about what, er, "setting" the car should be on when I drive it (I figured it should be at D since there was only P, D, R, and N but I thought I'd ask anyway. I didn't want to ask Hertz anymore because they might get too concerned that they rented a really nice car to someone who can't drive an automatic hehe). But after that, it was smooth sailing. Just like driving a bump car, as they say.

But of course the main difference is that this car you can't bump into anything. =)

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Happy Valentine's Day!

Hope everyone who had a date had a great one. And I hope those of you who didn't still had fun. I certainly did. I got the best Valentine's Day gift today. My mom called me up this morning, and I thought it was because I got a new bill or something, but as it turns out, my nephews wanted to talk to me. They both greeted me a "Happy Valentine's Day" and told me about this "heart cake" that they had at home which they were excited to eat. It was great talking to them all at home. That call truly made my day.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

[SWEDEN] My Swedish 'Amazing Race' experience

So I drove from Lund to Malmo today. Downloaded directions from mapquest then headed off. I had successfully navigated through the first 2/3 of the route with moderate ease, but when I got off exit 11/exit 16, it branched off into two roads and I mistakenly took the wrong road! (It's not easy driving while looking at directions on a piece of paper.) It felt like I was in the Amazing Race, sans the cameras and the partner who was supposed to look at the map and navigate.

There was no easy way for me to figure out how to get back on the right road, and there was no place I could stop either. So I kept on driving along the highway. Found an exit and turned into it, this time trying to look for a house. Drove around for a few more minutes before I spotted a house. Headed into the driveway and was greeted by a huge German Shepherd that was barking it's @ss off at me. Knocked on the door, and an old lady opened it, but either she really couldn't speak English or she didn't want to have anything to do with a stranger knocking at her door. So I get into my car and head back on the road.

Drove up the road for a bit and into a bed and breakfast. This time, the people there were able to give me directions on how to get back. Thank God! In the end, I just lost an extra 10 minutes, although the fact that I was scared that I would end up completely lost made it feel a whole lot longer than that. Hopefully, I don't get lost the next time I go there.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

The Best of 2006 (part 2)

Here is my second set of top 5's of 2006. You can read about the first set here (or well, you can scroll down to the post right before this one).

Top 5 Old friends-New friends:

This list actually contains friends I've had for a while now, but events that occurred in the last year made me spend more time with them and re-experience them as new friends.
  • Tricia - I've known her since Mike introduced us a few years ago. But this year, we had several long and great conversations during a couple of gimmicks and then in Bohol. After that, we hung out quite a bit more and had a lot of other great talks.
  • Jenny - She was my classmate way back in 1st year high school (remind me how long ago that was again? =)). But in a very interesting twist of fate, it turns out that she usually hung out with her office friends in Bistro 110, which is where my band played regularly in the last quarter of the year.
  • Jane - I met her during Ray and Joy’s wedding a couple of years ago. But ever since we had this text chat about computers in the middle of '06, we ended up getting in touch with each other fairly regular over SMS. And before the year ended, we managed to see each other perform.
  • Tisha and Donald - I ran into them in Starbucks one night and we ended up chatting for three hours, way past Starbucks' closing time if I recall correctly. After that, I joined them in the G3 reunion in Greenbelt and hung out with them in Rockwell when Milenyo struck and left most of Manila without any power. They even managed to catch one of my gigs.
Top 5 new friends:

Actually, top 5 new sets of friends. With the massive changes in my life last year, I was bound to meet a lot of new people.
  • Ipe - He's the new Still Oz lead guitarist. Bunky had always been playing a rhythm guitarist role even when we had no lead so he was a great addition to the band.
  • Jhenn - Sep’s best friend, we got to spend a lot of time talking when she went through a rough patch in her life and now we keep in touch a lot (and the shirt she gave me for Christmas is so cool! =))
  • Dessa - One of Tricia’s closest friends, I met her first after watching Pirates in the Carribean with some friends. We’ve hung out a few times since.
  • New officemates - Oh God, there are way too many of them for me to list them out, but in the short time I’ve been in my new job, I’ve made a lot of really cool friends. Most of whom are much younger than me which is great coz it makes me feel a lot younger hehehe.
  • Cath, Oneal, and Anj - Jenny’s colleagues and other Bistro 110 denizens who I got to share a lot of time (and alcohol) with after our gigs
Top 5 favorite movies:
  • The Devil Wears Prada
  • Superman Returns
  • The Departed
  • Cars
  • The Queen
Runner-up: Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest

Top 5 favorite athletes of 2006:
  • Efren "Bata" Reyes - joined forced with Django Bustamante to capture the inaugural 2006 World Cup of Pool last August 26. Shortly after that, he won the 2006 International Pool Tour World Open 8-Ball Championship over Rodney Morris, winning $500,000, the largest prize money ever awarded to anyone in the history of pocket billiards. 52 years old, and still great.
  • Manny Pacquiao - do I really need to explain?
  • Ronnie Alcano - second Filipino player (Pagulayan represented Canada at the time he won so that win unfortunately counts as a win for Canada...) to winning the 2006 WPA Men's Nine-ball Championship
  • Roger Federer - virtually cemented his place in the record books this year after another unebelievable year
  • Amelie Mauresmo - Finally dropped the unflattering title of best female player never to have won a Grand Slam. After winning the Australian Open under questionable circumstances, she overcame strong favorite justine Henin-Hardenne in the Wimbledon final.
And finally...

Top 5 Firsts:

In 2006, it was my first time to...
  • Visit Bohol, and this great trip was made better by the fact that I went with great friends (Mike, Anne, JayGat, Tricia) and new friends (Mari, Richard and Berna)
  • Stay overnight in Leo’s Leisure Park in Pampanga for the joint despedida of Meann and myself with our C&CS friends
  • Get a free mobile phone! Globe gave me a Sony Ericsson K750i under the condition that I would not cut my line for the next two years (which I don’t see happening so that’s not a problem at all). Not too shabby for a “free” phone, ey?
  • Go Trick or Treating as an adult! Well okay, it was with my nephews during Halloween. Loads of fun! And candy!
  • Watch a live performance of the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra in the CCP. My friend Jane was performed with the PPO that night, and played the harp first then later the piano.
Here's look to more fantastic experiences in 2007!

Thursday, February 08, 2007

The Best of 2006 (part 1)

It’s been a month since we all greeted each other a happy new year. But before we completely forget the year that just passed, it’s time to celebrate the moments and memories that made 2006 another great year!

(Note: I have to break this into two parts because there are too many great things to mention.)

Top 5 Favorite moments:

  • Celebrating the Yuletide season with my family in Macau and Hong Kong Disneyland
  • My grandparents’ amazing 50th wedding anniversary
  • Running and completing my 4th marathon for a cause
  • Organizing a highly successful Bukas Sarili Caroling at the Wards event (I still need to write about this...)
  • My 2nd-to-the-last gig. It isn't all all the time that my voice is in absolutely great form, but when it is, it feels awesome. I reeled of twelve incredibly difficult songs in the second set, and I managed to hit every high note and hold every long note. Memorable songs of the night – Candlebox’s ‘Far behind’ and Counting Crows’ ‘Round here’. Both are very vocally challenging, and I sang them one after the other. After that, one of the vocalists from ‘Streamline’ (the other resident band), who is a formally trained tenor, asked me if I had formal training myself (I don’t). Apparently, he asked because he thought that the way I sing and hit my high notes is very ‘aral’ (studied). That is seriously one of the best compliments I’ve ever been given for my singing!
Most significant changes:
  • Moving to my very own place
  • Resigning from the company I worked in for many years and moving to a new company
  • Being assigned to a project in Sweden (I moved here in 07, but the decision was made in late 06)
  • Changes in the lives of people around me! Everyone had huge things going on in their lives. Newlyweds: Chris and Shar, Dino and Dennese. New baby: Joaquin (Gary and Winnie) and Isabelle Anne (Trixie). New pregnancy: Joh and Raffa, Paulo and Giselle, Gosh and Letlet, Ric and Lany, Dino and Dennese. New boyfriend: Kathy. New graduate: Mike (Stanford MBA). New house: Mitch and Ferg, Pia. New apartment: Hannah. New international assignment: John Q, Nemboy. New job: Iona, Lala, Mike, Anna (well, same company but new role). LOA from work: Joyce.
Top 5 memorable gimmicks:

  • “PACMAN” Christmas party – from the charades (where I got all the Pinoy movies – ‘Patikim ng Pinya’, ‘Got to believe in magic’, ‘Lastikman’, and ‘Inang Yaya’ haha jologs talaga! =)) to the food to the home-made boy-band videos to the non-stop laughter, it was great fun with my new officemates
  • Birthday party at Brazil! Brazil! – my friends from my first job met up for a joint birthday party with Chari and Bett. Raych, who we haven’t seen in years, was here from Australia just in time to join us.
  • Clanberks dinner and coffee with Trixie – we hadn’t seen Trixie in years and the gang stayed out ‘til midnight on a weekday, a rare occurrence for us!
  • Singapore dinner - with Ching, Steph, Donnabelle, Kiko, Bong, and Ronald then drinks later on at Ching’s house where Sarah joined us. I hadn’t seen Kiko and Sarah in a while, and it was the first time I saw Bong and Ronald in ages. What made it even greater was that Bong and Ronald joined and stayed even if they didn’t really know the other folks. So it was great that I got to spend time with a couple of different sets of friends on the same night, most of whom I rarely get to see and interact with.
  • Christmas party with my office and ex-office gang – almost everyone was in Manila! Pau and Gi, Nenen, Suzanne, and Ian and Cathy were all home. Of course, the rest of us were there – Joh and Raffa, Pia, Che, Meann, Hannah, Tim, Peegee and Randee. To make thins a lot more fun, Raffa came up with a new rule for our annual exchange gift that was a lot of fun!
And while we're in the topic of reunions...

Top 5 Reunions:

(and of course I'm not counting those already mentioned above)
  • Dino – he got married early in the year and he and his now-wife Dennese came home to Manila from Canada to get wed here. I attended the wedding and met up with them and their friends later that week in East 19.
  • My cousins Joy and Gay! (The Wea twins, for anyone who remembers them...) They came home from Canada as well to celebrate Christmas here and it’s been years since I saw them. Not enough time to chat really but we managed to share quick updates on our lives and exchange emails.
  • Kerwin – haven’t seen this guy in 18 years!!! I lost touch with most of my grade school friends after graduation, but because of friendster I found a few of them. Kerwin and I managed to catch up during a short visit he took to Manila (he now lives in Zamboanga)
  • Duncan and Amy – I got to see them during Christmas. It is always great fun spending time with two of my best friends (and their ‘baby’ Lucas)
  • Ray and Joy – the highlight of my trip to the US in Nov-Dec was the fact that I got to spend a day with them and just catch up, have great conversation, watch a movie, and shop! =)
Special mention: I had a fantastic conversation with Weng on the phone for more than an hour when I was in California. Since we didn’t actually see each other, I guess it’s not really an official reunion but it does merit being mentioned. =)

More memorable moments to follow, so stay tuned!

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

[SWEDEN] Back in the driver's seat

I finally got my rental car today, a black Renault Modus. Small car, but that's a good thing because it means it is easier to park.

So I drove in Sweden for the first time. It snowed for about 10 minutes at around 430pm and I got worried it would continue to snow so I decided to leave the office early and just work on some stuff at the hotel.

One thing though, I need to sit down one day and figure out how to use all the controls like for the heater and anti-fog stuff. I didn't figure out how to get the windshield wipers to work until I got to the hotel haha. The instruction manuals are all in Swedish too. Ah well, at least I won't need help figuring out how the CD player works.

The downside? Parking costs an arm and a leg! P700 overnight parking. Damn! And I thought I was gonna get free parking at the hotel. Apparently not. I hope I can get my apartment sorted out soon. At least parking comes free with my apartment.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Moulin HUGE

Yes, that's not a typo. Check it out!

Pretty cool, ey? =)

Sunday, February 04, 2007

[SWEDEN] Walking around the city

It's a pity that I didn't have my camera with me when I left the hotel earlier today for lunch. The sun was shining brightly and the sky was blue. Would've been a perfect day to take pictures.

I grabbed a Big King Meal in Burger King before walking around the city to try and orient myself on how the streets are mapped out. I'm supposed to pick-up my rental car on Monday and I wanted to see where the Hertz office was so I wouldn't have to spend time looking for it on Monday morning. I walked a bit more, this time from the Hertz office, looking for the point in the road that I knew led to the office and I managed to find it. So hopefully Monday morning driving will be simple enough.

Because it was such a clear day and the weather quite friendly, I decided to keep walking and see other parts of the city I haven't seen. I found myself in the park that was a mere stone's throw away from my hotel. I slowed my pace and took in all the peace and serenity I could in the midst of the cool air and the tall trees. I saw kids frolicking in the playground, old couples sitting quietly on benches while basking in the bright sunshine that is so rare in winter, families at the edge of a pond feeding all types of waterfowl with bits of bread, and people walking their dogs or going for a run on the dirt path that went all around the park.

All in all, a nice calm and almost meditative afternoon. Now I know where to go for a run. Or to feed some ducks. =)

Saturday, February 03, 2007


Who would've thought a couple of weeks ago that Serena Williams, after dropping to #81 in the world due to an injury-filled 2006 (during which she played about 4 tournaments) and coming into this year's first tennis Major relatively unfit and significantly lacking in matchplay, would mop the floor with the top seed (and newly crowned #1) Maria Sharapova on her way to the Australian Open Ladies Singles title?

After she nearly lost against Nadia Petrova, was in the ropes against Shahar Peer, and lost concentration when closing out the match against Nicole Vaidisova, Serena looked relatively shaky and vulnerable. The fact that she would be playing against a relatively in-form Sharapova, who trounced Kim Clijsters in the semis, made me think that the top seed would be able to expose her rustiness and take home the crown.

Too bad for her that Serena brought it during the final, making Maria look like a befuddled qualifier who didn't know what hit her. With that immaculate performance, she took home another Grand Slam title - her 8th, with her first trophy coming in the 1999 US Open. The reality is that when Serena is in this kind of form, only a few players at their phenomenal best can stay with her.

So what does that say about Roger Federer, who took his 10th Grand Slam title by winning the Australian Open so ridiculously easily that it almost seemed like he was giving a free tennis clinic to club players? Roddick, who beat Federer in an exhibition shortly before the Australian Open, had full confidence heading into their match. He must've been crushed when Roger allowed him only 6 games over the three sets they played. Fernando Gonzales was in the form of his life and had just demolished #2 Rafael Nadal in their semi. In their final, Federer taunted Gonzales with a couple of chances to steal a set, but then immediately snuffed them out.

In fact, none of his seven opponents took a set off him. Roger was in his menacing best and should've been arrested for beating up all his opponents to a pulp. 10 slams in 5 years. 4 short of Sampras' record. And with Nadal in poor form and no true contenders in site, this just may very well be the year that we have another true calendar Grand Slam.

Meanwhile, enjoy this interesting video where Serena loses to Conan O'Brien in tennis. (Thanks for the link, Mark! =))

Oops, looks like the video's been taken down!

Thursday, February 01, 2007

[SWEDEN] I think I need to exercise

My trousers are telling me that, much to my dismay, my waist is getting larger. Damn!

It must be the fact that I now have a very sedentary lifestyle. I also think my body is trying to store as much fat as it can to protect me from the cold. Kinda sucks really. Especially since I haven't really been eating a lot. In fact, I've been eating a lot healthier since I got here. For one thing, I always have breakfast. Breakfast comes free with the hotel stay so it's been only a couple of times since I got here that I've missed what is supposed to be the most important meal of the day. Second, I am drinking a lot less softdrinks. One small glass during lunch another glass during dinner. Third, I'm eating smaller portions now.

I'm also eating a lot more fruits and vegetables. I always have a side salad during lunch. Mainly because everyone always has one and I don't want to be the only one who doesn't. And instead of all those donuts or pastries that I would normally have for merienda, to save on money, I always have a banana or orange or green apple (or some combination of those) because there always is a community basket of fruit in the pantry every day, and it saves me money to take some fruit instead of getting chocolates from the vending machine.

The only thing I'm doing right now that is more unhealthy is drinking a lot of coffee. About 6 small cups a day - one during breakfast, one or two before lunch, two in the afternoon, and one more when I'm back in my hotel room after dinner. Not the healthiest habit, I know. And maybe all the sugar in the coffee is more than making up for all the calories I save with all the healthy habits I've picked up. But in my defense, the cups of coffee I have aren't that big. I'd say about two of them match just one tall Starbucks Cafe Mocha. So when I think about it, I am probably having just as much coffee now as I used to.

Guess I really need to find myself a running path here and exercise a couple of times a week at least. No matter how bloody cold it is. =)