Hi again, thought I’d make a quick post to update everyone on some of the things going on over here! For the most part, on weekdays, we’ve just been going to work at the college and coming back to the dorms afterwards to relax.
Work has been good; I’ve personally been doing a lot of coding. Like I’ve mentioned previously, we’re working with an open-source system that is heavily customized. Looking back, I remember us considering creating our own system from scratch. I think we made the right decision, as I realize now just how much work and how many lines of code have to go into a system in order for it to work properly and fulfill the needs of its users. There are so many situations to account for, I think it was smart to take an existing system and modify it to our needs, as it was open source. Now, we’ve created a system together with the college to make it useful and sustainable once we are gone. We also know that the potential success of fully implementing the system cannot rest solely on our shoulders, so the rest of our time working will primarily be focused on documentation and user training. All along, we have been meeting with stakeholders in the project, and Rana and Stephanie have been doing a lot of documentation, it’s important to be extremely thorough (yet still easy to follow) in our walkthroughs and guides.
Outside of work, I’ve been trying to stay in touch with news and happenings around the world and in the USA. The Internet makes it incredibly easy to keep up with everything and keep in touch with my family and friends. I’ve thought about just how different things would be without this constant connection, especially since the technology really hasn’t been around in popular use for that long, relatively speaking.
We’ve also been able to do more activities on the weekends. We all went back to the restaurant that has live music and sat around, talked, and tried new and delicious food. I was able to hang around with some of the teachers a little more at the other house on the hospital campus that doubles as the rehab facility, watching movies and singing karaoke. Another night, Bryan, a student we’re good friends with, brought over a copy of Slumdog Millionaire and we watched it on the roof area using Gerry’s projector. Abhinav was able to explain some of the story and background in more detail, which was cool. Afterwards, we watched Zoolander since Rana had never seen it, and it was funny. Another day, we also played some more badminton, which was a lot of fun. I’ve also hung out with Von and some of the other students, which is nice to take a break, get a snack, and unwind. Abhinav and I also got to play with Ruthy, who is Richard’s daughter and a very cute little girl. Ruthy is so friendly and fun, but doesn’t speak English that well and it’s interesting to see her not really understand why we won’t ever listen to her! I have good memories of hanging around, just watching boxing with the guys.
Another fun night was the Acquaintance Party, which is a party and induction ceremony hosted every year by the Computer Studies department. After a welcome from the dean and some teachers, as well as a guest speaker, the newly elected officers were sworn in. There was a delicious meal provided, and a lot of prizes were given out throughout the night. There were also a few different games. One involved one partner trying to guess a phrase held behind him by asking yes and no questions to his partner, who could see the phrase. Another was a race involving popping a balloon in a chair and answering a riddle. Somehow I ended up playing a game where the first person started by singing part of a song, and the next person had to sing another song that started with the last word of the previous song. It sounds easier than it is – being on-the-spot like that was difficult, even though I lasted a few rounds. The most exciting parts were probably the intermission performances! One group of four students did a choreographed dance to “Down” by Jay Sean, which was really good. Abhinav did a performance of two songs, “I Hate Love Stories” and “Dus Bahane” – both in Hindi – which were also cool. But, the most absurd part of the night was when two first year students came up to perform a song. They were two girls I knew and recognized, since they liked to always call out my name and wave at me every time they saw me, so I was somewhat expecting to be acknowledged in some way during the song. I really wasn’t expecting one of the girls to walk over to me, grab my hand, walk me out to the dance floor, and sing the song “Destiny” by Jim Brickman to me. A very surreal experience!
After that, Stephanie and Rana hung out more with Ryan, an English teacher, while Abhinav and I went out with Gerry, Richard, as well as CS students like Bryan, Shiela, Von, Christine, Gracie, Jessica, Via, and even more. We went to a place right at Bagasbas Beach that had a big table for us and also videoke, where we stayed for much of the night, talking and singing and having a good time.
This past weekend, Abhinav and I also got to go and have lunch and spend some time with the Palencias at the boat dock on the way to Calaguas, which was nice. A few weeks ago, we also experienced Typhoon Basyang, internationally named Conson. The college cancelled class for the second half of the day and there was a lot of heavy rain and strong wind. Luckily, it didn’t affect our lives much more than a few power outages, but recent news articles say that at least 76 people have been confirmed dead. This high number was due to inadequate warning of the path of the tropical storm, expected to hit a different part of the Philippines. So, a large number of people were surprised, including many fishermen, who were out as the storm hit. The Palencias told us that several people from the Calaguas islands were among those fishing at the time (without any radio capabilities on board) and after a part of their boat broke off, several men survived for over three days on a makeshift bamboo raft with no food or water, and sadly some others tried to swim for shore but never made it. It’s a disturbing story and it’s too bad that there wasn’t better forecasting and a higher degree of communication for warnings and alerts.
This weekend coming up is our last one with everyone! I’m sure we’ll all go out for dinner and have a fun night. We’re also set to go to Naga City for the CWC – the Camsur Watersports Complex – for some wakeboarding on Saturday. Friday is also the fourth annual Robotex, which I know Gerry and other CS people are putting a lot of work into. Abhinav is also contributing with a Lego Mindstorms Robot and input on competitions and event details. I’m not looking forward to leaving all my friends here, but I am also really excited to see everyone back home! Until next time, hope everyone stays safe, happy, and healthy!