An Unholy Alliance

Posted by Ishmael Fischer Ahab | Sunday, January 31, 2010

An Unholy Alliance by Susanna Gregory 
An Unholy Alliance, Susanna Gregory

This is a whodunit novel set in the backdrop of the Middle Ages, right after the time when the whole Britain is reeling from the effects caused by the plague. The setting is Cambridge after the Black Death ravaged the city.

Matthew Bartholomew is just a doctor, who shocks his colleagues with the unconventional medicine he learned from an Arabic teacher. But when an unknown monk was found dead inside the chest containing the university’s precious documents, Matthew Bartholomew got tangled up in a murder case that involves not just the whole university but the whole town. The murder of prostitutes, the rise of demonic cults, and the sudden disappearance of a University chancellor are few of the mysteries that Matthew Bartholomew have to unravel.

An Unholy Alliance is a unique book because it is set during the Middle Ages. The setting made the novel unique since most of the whodunit or mystery novels have setting in the modern age. There are so many mysteries in the novel that will keep any readers interested. The storytelling is good and the characters are interesting. Susanna Gregory got the atmosphere of that era and the characters conform to the setting.  In the end of novel, Susanna Gregory convincingly resolved all the mysteries and problems and created a satisfying ending for an interesting whodunit novel.

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Visit Before the Eastern Sunset and read about the advantages of having Shakey’s Pizzanatic Card.

Gadget Review: Nintendo DS

Posted by Ishmael Fischer Ahab | Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Of the gaming console makers of the world, I see Nintendo as an innovative and creative company. My proof is the Nintendo DS.


Nintendo DS

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Just when most of my friends and officemates are buying Sony PSPs to while their time away, I chose to play games with Nintendo DS. It is agreed that the features of Sony PSP are great. However, Nintendo DS is cooler. What made Nintendo DS cooler? The answer for that is its two screens.

The first screen is like your regular screen where you can play the usual games, just like in Sony PSP. The second or the lower screen is a touch screen that could be used as additional screen or a touch pad to add more interactivity in the games.

The touch screen made the Nintendo DS better than the Sony PSP. Because of the touch screen, Nintendo was able to place more creative games in Nintendo DS that will appeal from youngster to adult gamers.

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Visit Before the Eastern Sunset and read about my post "No Mistress Allowed"

España Boulevard, which other people call as España Avenue, is one of the worst roads in Metro Manila in terms of traffic. This short stretch of road starts from the end of Lerma Street, which is known by commuters as Morayta, and ends at Welcome Rotonda, which is the boundary of Manila and Quezon City. Popular bus stops for this road are Blumentrit, San Vicente Street, Lacson Avenue, University of Santo Tomas, and Morayta. Buses and jeepneys from all over Metro Manila use this road.

Vehicular traffic in España Blvd. is heavy any time of the day. Commuters experience heavier traffic during rush hours which are the hours around 8 AM and 5 PM. Normally, the traffic is bearable since it takes about 30 minutes to reach both ends of España Blvd. By 5 PM, the traffic in España is compounded by the traffic in Quezon Avenue. Worst traffic usually happen during and right after heavy rain since España Blvd is easily flooded.

Thus, during heavy rains, commuters are recommended not to pass through this road. For many times, I experienced long hours of being trapped inside the traffic in España Blvd. During these situations, buses and jeepneys are forced to take the side streets to no avail. Thus instead of suffering from irritation, the wise steps for commuters is to take other route that will bypass España and reach their destination faster.

For commuters going to Fairview, Commonwealth Avenue and similar places in Quezon City, it is advised to take the LRT 3.


Manila to Fairview, Novaliches, Commonwealth Ave and similar places in Quezon City:

Step 1: Go to LRT 3 Recto Station

Step 2: Go up to second floor of the station and buy LRT card from ticket booths or dispensers. Buy ticket that will take you either to LRT Cubao Station or to LRT Anonas Station.

Step 3: Put your card in the card slot to get pass the train entrance. Don’t forget to take your LRT card after you passed through since you will need it when exiting the station later

Step 4: Go up to the third floor of the station and board the train there.

For those who want to go down to the LRT Cubao station, take the following steps:

Step 5: Go out of the train at Cubao Station then go down to second floor of the station.

Step 6: Put your card into the card slot to exit the station then go to Gateway mall.

Step 7: Pass through Gateway Mall, then to Ali Mall to reach EDSA. To avoid getting lost, it is advised to follow the large crowd walking from LRT to MRT station at EDSA.

Step 8: Upon reaching EDSA, navigate through MMDA pink fences and choose the bus that you desire so as to reach SM Fairview.

For those who go down at LRT Anonas Station, take the following steps:

Step 5: Go out of the train at Anonas Station.

Step 6: Go out of the station. The exit that you should choose is the exit on the side of Saint Joseph’s Church.

Step 7: Walk to the back of the church. There you will find jeepneys that are going to Fairview and Lagro.


For commuters going to SM North and Trinoma Mall, it is advised to take the LRT 2

Step 1: Go to LRT 2 Recto Station

Step 2: Go up to second floor of the station and buy LRT card from ticket booths or dispensers. Buy ticket that will take you to LRT EDSA Station.

Step 3: Put your card in the card slot to get pass the train entrance. Don’t forget to take your LRT card after you passed through since you will need it when exiting the station later

Step 4: Go up to the third floor of the station and board the train there.

Step 5: Go out of the train at EDSA station.

Step 6: Put your card into the card slot to exit the station then go to the MRT Taft Station. Navigate your way towards the station. You may follow the crowd toward the station since many LRT riders take the MRT, but be careful since there are also many people who walk toward the MMDA footbridge. If you reached the footbridge, you could either go back or just cross EDSA and walk to the station on the pedestrian lane.

Step 7: Buy MRT card, and put your card in the card slot to get pass the train entrance.  Don’t forget to take your MRT card after you passed through since you will need it when exiting the station later.

Step 8: Go down the ground floor and board the train there.

Step 9: Go out of the train at North EDSA Station, walk towards Trinoma Mall exit to exit the station.

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Visit Before the Eastern Sunset and read about a weird announcement from a bus company, "No mistress allowed."
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Eragon

Posted by Ishmael Fischer Ahab | Saturday, January 16, 2010


"Eragon" by Christopher Paolini, Knopf


“A boy and a dragon and a wonderful, but dangerous, set of adventures”

Those are my words for the book Eragon that I have just finished reading recently. Eragon is a poor farm boy who luckily found a shiny stone in a magical forest near their hometown. Food for the table that would last for the whole winter, these are thoughts of this poor farm boy as he carried the stone back to his dilapidated house. The stone is more valuable than food, however, as a dragon came out of the stone and chose Eragon as its rider, opening up a new life and opportunities for to become the person who will save the world or continue its destruction.

This book is the latest of the novels in the genre of fantasy that I had read. Though very far away from the works of J.R. Tolkien, this novel is quite refreshing to read and will keep the readers in turning the pages until the end. Novels in this genre are flooding the bookstores and some of the characters and creatures seem to repeat from one fantasy novel to another. In spite of this, Eragon managed to create its own unique world that are different from the other ones in other fantasy novels. Although some of the creatures like elves, dwarves, and humans are still present. One of the villainous creatures in this book are called Urgals, which somewhat represent the Orcs of Tolkien's novels. What set this book apart are its plot and the possibilities that may arise in this novel.

So if you are hungry for a fantasy novel, then Eragon is recommended for you.


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Once in a while, when I get bored in office I play the usual desktop games on my office computer. The games that I usually play are spider solitaire, space cadet pinball, and the classic minesweeper. Recently, I discovered this cool game from my officemate. The name of the game is “Pocket Tanks.”

Pocket Tanks is a simple game and anyone can easily learn the basics of the game in few seconds. The game is a battle between two tanks that fire at one another with various cool missiles. Each missile has their special effects and power. Each tank gains score by hitting the opponent tank. The tank that has the higher score at the end of the game wins. It is a turn based game and the game ends if both of the tanks have no more weapons at their disposal.

Weapons




The weapons in pocket tanks can be categorized into three, namely, (1) weapon that cause destruction, (2) weapons that bury your opponent, and (3) weapon that remove the earth or terrain in the game.

The first category is composed of missiles that cause damage to the enemy tank. The damage will come into the form of scores being added to your tank. My favorites in this category are the Chain Reaction, Pineapple, and Napalm for the great damage that they bring. Homing Missiles and the Heat Seeker hunts the enemy even if it not well targeted by your tank.

The weapons in the second category include the Magic Wall, Dirtball, and the Dirt Slinger. The last two weapons are my favorites in this category because I use it to bury the enemy tanks. Burying the enemy tank is useful, especially if it has no weapons of category three. The enemy will be forced to incur damage when it tries to use category one weapons.

Dirt mover and Earth Mover fall to category three. These weapons remove the earth that was used to bury the tank. Earth Mover, in particular, is also useful in clearing the terrain where the enemy tank is located so as to disorient the enemy when the position of your tank is already on target.



Techniques

The game is played by approximating the trajectory that should be used to hit the enemy tank. The trajectory is made by selecting the right angle of the trajectory and the power for your weapon. For the first salvo, I usually use the Homing Missile to gauge the angle I should use in hitting the enemy. Homing Missiles are no-miss weapons. After that, I pummel the enemy with various weapons so as to increase my score.

Another technique that I use is hitting the enemy with Pile Driver. This weapon creates a pit where the enemy tank will fall, making it ideal for the Hailstorm weapon to create maximum damage.

If the enemy has no weapon like the Earth Mover or Dirt Mover, then I use the Earth Pile and Dirt Ball to trap the enemy and make it damage itself with its own weapons.

Other Good Things

Pocket Tanks can be downloaded for free from Blitwise. The free version has no time limit for the play unlike the games downloaded from Popcap. The Pocket Tanks free version already has assorted weapons that can fill your boring time in office.

If you are bored playing against the computer, then you can also play against your officemate via two – player or via LAN. The game can also be played via different difficulty levels, from level one up to ten.

Pocket Tanks is developed by Blitwise. Full version is also available for purchase. The full version has additional 30 weapons that have more interesting and wacky effects. To download the free version or buy the full version, visit Blitwise now.

The Verdict

Pocket Tanks is a nice game to play to while away time or to remove office boredom. The game is challenging enough to at least wake you up. Thinking of strategy and the best trajectory also makes your mind ticking. So if you are tired of Spider Solitaire or Minesweeper, then Pocket Tanks may be a good game for you.

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You could download Pocket Tanks at the website of Blitwise.

The rainy season is getting nearer and with it is the season of mosquitoes and flies. Because of this, the threat of illness due to these bugs are on the rise and parents will once again be more concerned about the protection of their children against the diseases like malaria, dengue, dysentery, and cholera. One way to protect yourself and your family is by killing these pests using flyswatters and flypaper.

However, there is a better way of killing these bugs and that is by using the Electric Bug Zapper.

The Electric Bug Zapper is a simple tool that uses electricity to kill insects. It is shaped like a tennis racket with the head acting like an electric fence. Any bug that will be hit by the racket will be zapped and burst. If fully charged, this gadget is strong enough to kill a fully grown house lizard but weak enough not to electrocute a person. Anyone touching the racket head will be zapped but the electricity is not too strong.
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This device is ideal to use when insects tend to swarm in one place, which is usually the habit of mosquitoes. The broad face also increases the chance to hit the target insect, as compared to the normal fly swatter. You also spared of the messy way of dealing with insects, as compared to the fly swatter because the insect tend to burn, which means that they do not leave any entrails.

Where to Buy and How Much

The Electric Bug Zapper could be bought at any public markets, just look for shops or kiosks that sells products for 100 pesos and below and you will find this gadget. I had bought mine at the Commonwealth Market. I heard that some malls, specifically the Ever Gotesco and Robinson Malls, have this product.

The price of the Electric Bug Zapper is around 100 pesos (about 2 dollars). Be reminded though that vendors tend to overprice their products and they sell this gadget for 120 pesos. Just try to haggle with them so as to lower your price. Prices at the malls is higher than those at the public markets.

Safety Reminders

Electric Bug Zapper is not a toy and it uses electricity so keep it away from children. Touching the racket head causes an electric shock that may surprise the kids more than adults.

This gadget is directly plugged in the wall sockets to be charged. Just be sure to unplug this device before you sleep. Overcharging may cause the rechargeable batteries inside to explode.

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Read about ways to keep your family safe from mosquitoes. Read my tips on how to keep your home dengue free. Also, read about Imarflex Electric Mosquito Killer

Sbarro Pizza

Posted by Ishmael Fischer Ahab | Sunday, January 03, 2010

Last weekend, I finally got the chance to taste a pizza at Sbarro. One of my good friends told me that she found Sbarro’s pizza as delicious. I took her word since she is a pizza fanatic and had eaten on the different restaurants serving pizzas. Before Sbarro, I have already tasted the pizza offered by Pizza Hut, Shakey’s Pizza, Dominoes Pizza, Greenwich Pizza, 3M, and other small time pizza companies.

Sbarro Restaurant

Sbarro is not only limited to pizza but also have other food like pasta, lasagna, salads, and desserts. Their branches could be found on major mall throughout Metro Manila. The branch that I visited is the Sbarro that is located inside SM Megamall.
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Unlike in Shakey’s, where the waiters and waitresses will come to give you the menu and take your order, you have to go the counter and tell the Sbarro crew your. The set-up is very much like in the local fastfoods like McDonalds and Jollibee, sans the long queue.

The Food

I was surprised that the whole pizza in Sbarro is quite large. A slice is just enough to fill my hunger. Even the serving of coke is large than the ones offered in other restaurants.

I ordered a slice of Hawaiian pizza for me, and a slice of Pepperoni pizza for my friend who is with me. The Hawaiian pizza is good but the Pepperoni taste better.  A slice of pizza cost 110 Philippine pesos, which is not bad considering that the food is good. I did not order their pasta or lasagna so I can’t make a review of them here.

The Verdict

Sbarro is a nice restaurant and their pizza is nice. Because of this, I will definitely place Sbarro to my list of nice restaurants in Metro Manila. My good pizza fanatic friend is not mistaken in telling me that Sbarro’s pizzas are delicious. However, I still believe that Shakey’s pizza is better.