Friday, January 24, 2020

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

My TWSBI story

My good old TWSBI Diamond 580 Aluminum is among my favorite every-day carries (EDCs) because it's a trustworthy writer with an extraordinarily huge ink capacity (2 mL). If you go on clinics at a government institution where I train, you'll know that one full ink refill (2 mL) can last at most two full clinic days. And I don't write a lot for each patient: I keep my entries clear and concise, but I sometimes do write essays to explain my medical management strategies to the other specialties—an exception rather than the rule. No wonder why TWSBI is a favorite among fountain pen users at PGH. It has a great value for money, it's not flashy, it's meant for heavy duty.

These past weeks, I've had difficulty refilling the pen because the piston no longer glides as smoothly as when I had bought it last year. I know, and my kid brother Sean has been telling me, that I should apply silicone grease to the insides of the 580 as well as the area around the rim of the rubber piston to improve the lubrication. But although the TWSBI has been designed to be taken apart, tinkered with, and reassembled, I'm not particularly gifted with mechanical hands. (I would bring my pen home where Sean can clean them; he enjoys tinkering with things, which makes him a great dentist.) I've been traumatized by my experience with my first TWBSI—an Eco I bought in TY Lee pen store in Taipei. The piston was stuck inside the pen, largely because of what I did, and the pen remains unusable to this day—but I can't quite get rid of it because it reminds me of fun times in residency.

Besties, Abby and Bea, beside the owner of the pen store. 

Expensive pens were displayed—we couldn't afford them!

Carlos Cuaño and Everly Ramos trying out some of the pens; Carlos would later become a pen enthusiast himself. 

This Jetpens Youtube tutorial made it look so easy, so I pried the Diamond 580 apart.

I encountered the same problem: the piston was stuck inside the pen. With much determination, I reassembled the pen, then pulled the knob–piston connector–the piston head complex, and it did just the trick. I applied the silicone grease, and reassembled the pen altogether. It works even better now.



I'm also happy to report that my new TWSBI Eco Rose Gold has arrived! Despite being a hard, medium nib, it's a smooth, wet writer—which I like! It's featured below, inked with Parker Quinck in blue-black.



Tuesday, January 21, 2020

On Marriage Story by Noel Baumbach

I get how Marriage Story (dir. Noel Baumbach) articulates eloquently and artfully the pain of divorce, but never have I seen a film highlight unspoken love between two people who go through the painful process. One wonders why they had to go through it when they clearly loved each other still. The final scene, where Charlie Barber (Adam Driver) reads aloud the list of good things about him by his former wife Nicole (Scarlett Johansson), just when as he guides through his son read a written manuscript (which would later turn out to be Nicole's list), was a brilliant, heart-breaking moment.

Monday, January 20, 2020

Sunday, January 19, 2020

On Joel Ferrer's Elise

Elise, directed by Joel Ferrer, reveled in its simplicity and innocence. It was predictable and carefree. It did not aspire to become anything but a Filipino coming-of-age romantic film set in a small town in Bulacan, where teachers were still feared, where students walked to school, and where, on the way home, one could still appreciate the greenery. The houses were old but homey, draped with see-through curtains similar to what we used to (and still) have at home. The scenes were tinted with a warm glow; it must have been stifling in those houses, what with the lack of air-conditioning, but nobody perspired.

But there was comfort in knowing how things would end as soon as the film had begun. There was Bert (Enchong Dee), shy and reserved and whose tongue failed him when he wanted to say something, falling in love with Elise (Janine Gutierrez), a strong-willed girl who promised him, “Ako ang bahala sa iyo,” until she left for Manila. They lost touch, fell in love with other people, and reconnected in college. They ended up together and decided to elope on a rainy night. They built a successful ice cream business (Josie’s, it was called), and then there was the ending, which I shall not mention. You may think the film ended tragically, but, as with most things, it is a matter of perspective. I think it was a great ending, nevertheless: a reminder that we go can go through life with joy despite the pain and suffering we’ve been through.

My friend Mervyn, who suggested that I watch it, told me the conversations sounded “natural.” They talked like real people one would overhear in daily life. I liked it very much.
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Dispatches from friends no. 2: Roger in Pangasinan

Many of my friends like to travel. The sense of adventure, along with the pervasive culture of rabid instant documentation, has cultivated in them the thrill of taking good photos. They remain very private, however, but occasionally send me photographs by way of email or Telegram. Rich, a private man, shared me with me his photos from his Portugal and Spain trip recently. Roger, who has spent his weekend in Pangasinan, sent me these: nostalgic images from the countryside. "Can I blog these?" I would ask. Of course, they would agree! What are friends for?


Roger takes great photos of sunsets.


Saturday, January 18, 2020


HHhH by Laurent Binet


Found myself at Booksale SM Manila and bought a secondhand copy of Laurent Binet's HHhH, translated in English by Sam Taylor. HHhH stands for Himmlers Hirn heist Heydrich or "Himmler's brain is called Heydrich." The novel is told from the POV of a nameless author. It starts rather boring, but the rhythm picks up—a uniquely riveting book. It's about the assassination attempt against Reinhard Heydrich, Hilter's trusted hand in implementing the final solution to the Jewish question. It's not for nothing that Heydrich was called the Blond Beast and the Butcher of Prague—he was determined to execute all Jews, convinced of his Nazi ideology, in total loyalty to Hilter's Germany. I'm more than halfway through the novel, and I'm in now in the part where Jozef Gabčík and Jan Kubiš jump off the plane with parachutes, part of the clandestine Operation Anthropoid of the Resistance in Czechoslovakia: they will assassinate Heydrich himself. I'd already seen the film and heard the tour guide in Prague that the story doesn't end well—the two young men will die in the attempt.

The novel brings to mind my brief exploration of Prague, one of the most beautiful places I've ever been to. The memories burned in my memory enrich my imagination as I flip through HHhH. I wonder how it is pronounced, though—"Ash Ash Ash Ash," perhaps, as the French pronounce "H"?


Friday, January 17, 2020

Thursday, January 16, 2020


Notebook No. 2: Suffering in the Book of Job


I wrote a paper on suffering for an English class under Prof. Carlos Aureus when I was in my college freshman year. I wish that manuscript would never see the light of day, for it sounded like it was written out of theory rather than experience, a case of a young man taking himself seriously, taking on ambitious topics such as human suffering for a class requirement. I don't ever recall having suffered significantly before I was 16. But Prof. Aureus was gracious enough to give me an uno for the subject—not so much for the quality of the final paper but for the attempt to understand the Book of Job.

My 5-day Bible Reading Plan, recommended highly by Tim Challies, took me today to the first three chapters of Job. I just want to share an incomplete page of my journal today. If you're interested (i.e., if you're one of those people who are fascinated with writing materials), I'm using a Kaweco 70's Old Soul (broad nib) inked with Pilot Iroshizuku 100th limited edition Bishamon-ten. My notebook is a Midori Traveler's Passport; notebook insert is a Moleskin carnet (in grid), which was sold at a huge discount in Milan.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Monday, January 13, 2020

Sunday, January 12, 2020

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Notes on Rev. M'Cheyne's Memoirs: a personal view of sin

This year I'm treating myself to Memoirs and Remains of the Rev. Robert Murray M'Cheyne. It's a long book, and I suspect that it will take me an entire year to finish. I downloaded the scanned copies of the book freely made available by Google. I'm reading the PDF in my Kindle, in landscape mode. I like how it looks (I'm sharing the actual screenshots), a lot like reading an old copy in a dusty library.

The book starts with how Rev. M'Cheyne came to a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. The succeeding chapters give snapshots of his journal entries. Here, we read of his despair over his sin.

"What a mass of corruption I have been! How great a portion of my life have I spent wholly without God in the world; given up to sense and the perishing things around me."

M’Cheyne on sin

"Restrained from open vice by educational views and fear of man, how much ungodliness has reigned within me! How often has it broken through all restraints and come out in the shape of lusts and anger, mad ambitions, and unhallowed words! Through my vice was always refined, yet how subtile and how awfully prevalent it was!"

M’Cheyne on sin

"O great God, that didst suffer me to live whilst I so dishonoured thee, thou knows the whole; and it was thy hand alone that could awaken me from the death in which I was, and was contented to be."

M’Cheyne on sin

"And though sentiment and constitutional enthusiasm may have a great effect on me, still I believe that my soul is in sincerity desirous and earnest about having all its concerns at rest with God and Christ—that his kingdom occupies the most part of all my thoughts, and even of my long-polluted affections."

M’Cheyne on sin

I will be sharing some more book highlights as I read along.

Saturday, January 11, 2020

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When my prayers are lukewarm

There are days when the lukewarm soul needs a little nudging. These moments are marked by episodes of dry prayer devoid of passion, fervor, and love. When these episodes come, I force-feed on the Psalms—a wise counsel of my youth pastor a few years ago.

Sometimes, when I don't know what to pray for, or when my praying becomes repetitive, I turn to the Valley of Vision, a collection of Puritan prayers compiled by Arthur Bennett. I love the prayers in that book (I've shared some of them here and here). They're so poetic, with beautiful words, wonderful imagery, and timeless truths that stir the sleeping soul.

I also turn to Heavenward, a blog by Scotty Smith. Today, for example, he shares the prayer, "Craving the Day of No More Sickness," which resonates with me deeply, I who have a number of friends suffering from some form of illness or debilitating disease.

Today, I ordered Piercing Heaven: Prayers of the Puritans edited by Robert Elmer via Amazon. My favorite blogger, Tim Challies, wrote a great review on it. (The article, interestingly, begins with a confession of his indifference toward the Valley of Vision. It fascinated me.)
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