Monday, October 18, 2021

My hobby: Solitaire card games! (plus a confession)

Let's get the confession out of the way: I play online games while I'm working! Yes, and it's okay. Much of my work as operations manager of a communications agency based abroad is waiting for submissions to come in from our writers and artists. So when I approve copy and wait for the artist to lay it out, I switch to the tab where Solitaire is on and I play a few card games. 

It's better than toxic Facebook, believe me! Social media reels you in and you go up the heaven of cute corgis and kittens or down the hell hole of news and negative comments, and then you're too distracted to go back to work. So I've gone back to my childhood hobby of playing cards, but this time online.

I actually still have a deck of cards on my bedside table and I play solitaire sometimes on the bed as I chat with my husband. If he's reading or working and can't talk, I sing the Carpenters' song, "Solitaire" while I play. It's one of my favorite sad songs. 

Solitaire is a game my grandparents taught me to pass away afternoons, listening to radio dramas. My Lola said you can ask the cards a yes-no question and if you win the game, then it's a yes. So that's another confession. I ask the cards stuff!

So anyway, let me tell you about my new find, It has dozens of free solitaire games like Klondike, FreeCell, Spider, gin rummy, crazy eights, hearts, and more. Like a LOT more. But I usually just play solitaire because it's my favorite. It calms my mind and helps me focus. Makes me better at remembering deadlines and editing work. So it really is a good way to while away the time when I'm waiting for work to come in.  

What doesn't calm my mind is another game on the site called Zuma Ball Shooters and oh my goodness it drives me crazy! It's only 10 levels and I'm on Level 8 and I just can't get past that level! The goal of the game is to line up 3 balls of the same kind which will make all those balls disappear. I'm supposed to shoot out all the balls before they get to the end. It's so maddening!!! 

I don't dislike it. In fact, I play it every day because I just really want to get to Level 10! But I definitely don't play this game when I'm working. It doesn't relax me. It brings out all my killer instincts and I just want to blast those balls to kingdom come!!!

So let me reiterate that I don't play Zuma Ball while I work. Instead, when I'm not playing solitaire, I play this: Candy House. It's like Candy Crush but slower and more mellow. So again, makes me feel calm. which is great when I'm working.

There are dozens more games at Sometimes I let my kids play the games, too. For school! Patterns are part of math, you know! I highly recommend these games for your kids as a fun way to recognize patterns. 

And that's my little secret! And my new online find. Try, too! Happy Monday and I hope you have a great week, everyone!

Monday, October 04, 2021

This is mine.

Hello! I'm alive. And I am sooo alive! As a royal watcher, busog na busog ako the last week of September. And it looks like the feast isn't going to stop! Why? Well, now that the US and the UK have their vaccination programs in full swing, life has gone back to a kinda pre-COVID normal. That means the royals are out in full force! 

First, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle were in TIME's 100 Most Influential issue and I am so here for Meghan's pantsuits. New Sussex Brand look, guys!

If you disagreed with TIME, well, sorry na lang but tama sila because a few days later, Meghan came out of her year-and-a-half hibernation and maternity leave to take on New York with Harry for important and high-profile meetings and events. They helped raise over a billion dollars for global vaccine equity. That's measurable influence, guys. A BILLION DOLLARS' worth of influence.  

Then hindi pa ako nahimasmasan when Kate Middleton came back from their summer vacation in the most fantastic fashion! You'd think she went to the premiere of James Bond GoldenEye, Goldfinger, or Golden Gun instead with how dazzling she looked. 

This is the very BEST Kate has ever looked. Ever! The movie premiere was for charity but wala akong mahanap na news outfit that says how much money the Cambridges et al were able to raise but bet ko hindi siya a billion dollars.

So let's give the "Harry and Meghan are irrelevant" schtick a rest. 

But I'm not blogging today about the fantabulous fashion show both duchesses put on. Or their charity work. I'm actually here to kinda talk about me. Yes, because this is my blog, not a royalty blog! For my royal updates, follow me on my IG Stories - @francesampersales - because it's masaya and chismis-y there!

Today on the blog, I want to talk about how such high-profile women doing so much good and looking so good in the process aren't projecting confidence and power. 

Look at how Madam Duchess was covering her body. People speculated she was hiding her baby weight. Ako naman feeling ko hindi lang yun. I feel like she was hiding herself, hence the coats in not-chilly New York. After all, she's the target of so much online hate and this was her first time to be seen publicly since March 2020. I can imagine the fear.

But even when she wasn't a royal yet, diba parang lacking siya ng absolute confidence when she's in public. In photoshoots, yes, galing niya mag-project (refer to TIME shoot above). But when she's meeting people IRL, may air of terror siya. Also may people-pleasing air about her (like Kate). That's not a bad thing, okay! I'm just saying she kinda looks like she's hindi pa siya sure sa nangyayari sa kanya. Even at her wedding.

Eto naman si Kate same din. My goodness. She looked AMAZING! Absolutely amazing. But hindi niya carry yung dress. She's not used to that level of high fashion. Yes, she's worn many designer clothes but she's always chosen the elegant, the safe, and the boring. This is the first time she wore dazzling and while she had the face and body and stature for it, she didn't have the attitude for it. She didn't wear it; it wore her. She couldn't even walk properly in it. She kinda shuffled along when such a dress needed its wearer to glide, stomp, and strike a pose. 

I know you'll disagree but celebrity watching and entertainment journalism used to be my job. I'm professionally trained to study how celebrities carry their clothes and project themselves on the red carpet. And, no she's not a Hollywood celebrity so she's not trained in glamour but gosh, it's not so hard to study glamour. She can watch a few red carpet events or she can study her own mother-in-law! 

Diana knew how to wear a dress. And she also knew how to charm the public and the media. She had this signature move - as she's about to enter the venue, she'd pause, turn back slightly to look at her adoring public, and smile. Connect with your audience, show another angle of the dress, smile for the cameras. That's a celebrity. She had the confidence to know she looked good and that everyone was there for her. She knew how to bask in that glory of adoration.

And that's what's bugging me about me. Nag-start ito a few weeks ago when the Venice Film Festival happened. I loved how all the stars were owning that red carpet. Like I said, celebrities know how to bask in glory. And I was enjoying the show until I saw this:

That's Zendaya. I have always loved how stylish she is. She's always had fun with fashion (no safe and elegant with this woman). And she's so young but she has always had this innate sense of self. She's so aware of her body and how it looks crazy good in clothes. She has a confidence that should've come from years and years and years of living life. But she's always had it. 

I don't have that. Si Kate and Meghan din, obviously wala. Can you imagine the duchesses with the Zendaya attitude? Nope. Hindi ko sinasabi na dapat magsuot sila ng ganyan. Not even saying they should pose like that. Just the attitude of "I'm supposed to be here. This is my space. This is my time." Yun ang wala.

I wish I had that. too. A couple of weeks ago, I attended the Lean In Circle Session (join us at Lean In Manila!) of Awaken Women. I spoke with the ladies about how to be visible. It was a talk inspired by my book, Not Invisible. At the start of my talk, I said it's not always good to be seen. I mean just look at Kate and Meghan and the unforgiving scrutiny they get. Do we seriously want that? It was my attempt to reassure everyone that invisibility isn't always a bad thing, that it's okay to be a nobody sometimes, and I said I'm okay with diminishing myself.

But their Circle leader Charl Banzal, who is a life coach and digital entrepreneur, asked me why someone like me still feels imposter syndrome. Someone like me? Charl listed down all I've achieved and hearing her say my long list of accomplishments sounded so good. It also sounded like she was describing another woman, not little old me.  

Argh. I just denied myself. What a betrayal. Why am I like this? Did you know that every time a brand asks me to work with them, my first thought is, "Me? Why me? I'm nobody." Even when I was putting my book together, every time I promote it now, I agonize with thoughts of insecurity. And I hate feeling this way. I'm so proud of my book! I think every mother and everyone who has a mother should read it. My attitude should only be: "I'm supposed to be here. This is my space. This is my time."

I read somewhere that our first thought is the voice of the people who raised us. So if your first thought is racist, sexist, homophobic, hateful, self-defeating, then be aware that you can own that thought, dismiss it, and change it. You don't have to let the voices of your childhood be your own. So whenever I think, "I'm a nobody, I'm not worthy of anything," I immediately arrest that ugly thought. Then I have to tell myself, "I'm amazing. I'm so smart. I'm gorgeous. I have the best life. I have accomplished so much. I got this!"

That usually gets me out of my insecure thoughts. But I don't do it all the time. It's exhausting to life coach yourself haha. But when I do, then the public me comes out. The public me is my alter ego - The Journalist. When I'm on The Journalist mode, I'm curious, sociable, and conversant. Yes, like Beyonce, I have my own version of Sasha Fierce. I'm very much an introvert. Any and every social setting gives me anxiety. But when I'm on journalist mode, then I transform. I'm very good at what I do so I let my "woman who works" alter ego take over. Yes, even at family reunions! That's still me anyway. I'm not being fake, I'm just being another version of me. 

But I do wish I don't have to pep-talk myself all the time anymore. For heaven's sake, I'm a middle-aged woman! Hindi bagay sa edad ko. I want to be Zendaya 24/7. Or JLo. Rihanna. Charlize Theron. Beyonce. I suspect even they have a public persona, though. Can they really be owning it 24/7? I guess every one of us has an alter ego. Do you? 

I don't want to have to keep calling on my alter ego all the time, though. I want to own my success and be proud of what I've achieved and who I am. I want that version of me to be the default me because that is me. I worked so hard to get here. I'm supposed to be here. This is my space. This is my time. This is mine.

Saturday, September 25, 2021

Is a portable air conditioner the right choice for your home?

Our main air conditioner, the one that cools down the living room, dining room, and kitchen (and sometimes the entire condo!), conked out a few months ago. Around June, I think. Initially, I had thought of immediately buying a new one because it can get so hot in Manila, right? But I figured let's see if the kids (used to aircon almost 24/7) will survive. After all, we're Pinoys so we should get used to the tropical weather. Almost 4 months later, they're fine! 

I'm the one who's not fine haha! It's so hot! If you follow me on Instagram, you'd know I'm always in spaghetti-strap dresses or dasters. No more OOTDs for me. The heat has made it impossible! I was hoping that the rainy season would offer respite but, nope, it's really hot. So my husband and I have been doing some online aircon shopping! Also, a guest post about portable air conditioners landed in my inbox and it's so relevant to me now, I might as well share it with you!

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Having an air-conditioned home in a tropical country like the Philippines is definitely an advantage, particularly during the summer. In fact, you don’t even need to air-condition the whole house. Installing an aircon in just the bedroom(s) will still be able to make a huge difference in your comfort levels.

However, an air conditioner may not be the best choice for everyone. There may be circumstances that can prevent you from installing an aircon in your home, such as a lack of space. In cases like this, a portable air conditioner might be a viable alternative. Below is a quick look at portable aircons that can hopefully help you make a decision.

How a Portable Air Conditioner Works

A portable air conditioner works like any other “traditional” air conditioner: by converting the refrigerant from liquid to gas and then back to liquid by passing the chemical through a set of coils. This process absorbs the heat, which is then released outside through a discharge vent. For window-type aircons, this is found on the back of the unit that hangs out of the wall or window. For split-type aircons, it’s part of the outdoor component.

For portable air conditioners, you’ll have a window kit with an exhaust hose so the hot air has somewhere to go. Thus, in theory, you can move a portable aircon from room to room. However, if you do this, you’ll also have to move the window kit. It’s still easier than a window-type or a split aircon, but it’s not comparable to simply moving an electric fan or an air cooler.

Portable Air Conditioners Are Perfect for Renters

Considering the way a portable air conditioner is set-up, it’s a good choice for renters who aren’t allowed to make modifications to the unit. It’s also a great option if your house doesn’t have enough space that can properly accommodate the exterior side of a window aircon or the outdoor component of a split-type model.

Portable air conditioners are also great for spot cooling and small rooms, such as a home office or a bedroom. Window-type or split aircons may be too big for these spaces, so choosing a portable model might be the best option to achieve the temperature you want.

If you need to cool down a bigger space, you simply need to follow the same principles for aircon sizing: large spaces need higher BTU ratings and vice versa. You should also take note of the EER or energy efficiency rating, so you can pick a model that won’t make your electricity bills skyrocket.

The Benefits of Portable Aircons

Aside from easy transport, portable aircons also let you maximize natural light. If your home has limited windows (e.g., an apartment or condo), blocking it with an aircon unit can be counterproductive. You also have more freedom with regard to placement. As long as the exhaust window kit can be set-up correctly, you can put a portable aircon anywhere in the room.

Finally, a portable air conditioner is so much easier to install. You don’t need to drill holes in the wall or alter your windows. There’s also no need for special tools and equipment. You simply have to take the portable aircon out of the box, set up the window kit for proper exhaust, and plug it in to enjoy the cooler air.

Do note, however, that portable air conditioners are noisier than both window and split-type aircons. This is because many of the parts that are supposed to be located or pointed outdoors are combined into the indoor unit. Still, if you aren’t that bothered by the loudness, portable air conditioners are a great way for cooling down a space.

What About an Air Cooler?

There’s another option for Filipinos who want to beat the heat: an air cooler. Also called an evaporative cooler, an air cooler doesn’t have refrigerants. Instead, it has pads that you can soak with water. When air passes through these pads, the water evaporates and cools the air. The blower then recirculates this cooled-down air around the room.

One big advantage of air coolers over portable aircons is their energy consumption. What’s more, because they only use water (or sometimes ice), air coolers are much more eco-friendly. The downside is that air coolers aren’t designed for humid climates, because it saturates the air with moisture. This can quickly become uncomfortable during the summer. It can also be dangerous if there are electronics in the room, since the added humidity can damage circuit boards.

In the Philippines, the best use of air coolers would be in rooms with open ventilation. This way, the moisture doesn’t get trapped inside and the air won’t feel stuffy or sticky. If you have to close the room, your best choice for cooling would still be an aircon (whether traditional or portable).

Being a tropical country, the Philippines has plenty of sunny days that easily turn from pleasant to unbearable. The good thing is that there are plenty of appliances to choose from to help you cool down. If you’re looking for a compact but powerful option, a portable air conditioner might be just what you need.