Sunday, January 18, 2015

Chain of Thoughts: 2014 Highlights

Time for another late annual recap.  I will just copy last year’s format.

How I will remember 2014 for:
→ The expression “Boom panes!”
→ I could hear John Legend’s “All of Me” everywhere. 
→ ALS Bucket Challenge.  I didn’t find it fun at all.  Still, I hope it did indeed raise money for that cause though.
→ Loombands.  Now, that was a fad that died pretty quick.
This was a unique and ironic game because whoever plays this game will surely be frustrated by it but won't be able to stop playing.
→ Speaking of fads, there was the widespread addiction on Flappy Birds.  Personally, I didn’t get to play this app game, thankfully.  I did play Zombie Tsunami for a while though.   
→ Oh, and speaking of app games, if I had avoided Candy Crush in 2013 because of its addictiveness, it was in the summer of 2014 that I got to be briefly hooked on it. 
→ Tech support ended for Windows XP.  My five-year old netbook is still on XP. 
→ Speaking of my netbook, in early December, its monitor gave out; the damage was unfixable.  To still use it, I had to remove its monitor and attach a desktop monitor on it.  Fun set up actually.  Anyway, I now seldom use it now since my father gave me his laptop (Thank you so much, Papa!).                
→ The number of TV series titles I’m following significantly bloated in 2014.      
→ I re-discovered the awesomeness of file sharing.  I probably obtained nearly a terabyte worth of games, comics, movies, and TV shows from it.  (One of the probable reasons why I got into – as well as rewatched – a lot of TV series in 2014.)
→ At year end, I had 15 books in “The Pile” – books I bought which I haven’t finished or started reading yet. 
→ I had two trips this year.  In March, we had a mission trip to a leper community in Quezon.   Then in May, we participated in a Youth Camp in Cavite. 
→ I became back-to-back Bible Quiz champion in our church.  It was an awesome feel-good experience.  Best of all, the first prize was a tablet. 
→ I’m not much of an enthusiastic techie, and with a netbook and a smartphone, I found no use with the tab at all for a couple of months.  But then, I realized I could now play Plants vs. Zombies 2 because I now have a tab.  I remembered that I’ve always wanted to play this game ever since its release but wasn’t able to because I had no smartphone or tab.  Later in the year, I would also discover the special delight found in the practicality of an e-book.  So, thanks to the tab, 2014 was the year I finally got into e-book reading.
→ I passed the LET.  Yay
→ I had the silver anniversary of my journey towards Eternity (or I had my 25th birthday, if you didn’t get that).
→ I actually only learned for the first time that the 1989 Batman movie was released in June 23 – the same date I was born!  (Aside from the movie’s silver anniversary, in 2014, it was also the 75th anniversary of Batman’s first comic book appearance.)
No big deal, really.  Still, it felt kind of awesome sharing the same birthday with the Batman movie.
→ There were a lot of terrific comic book happenings, but probably the most exciting were the return of Peter Parker and the epic “Spider-Verse” event (which I urge Sony to adapt this into film).
→ In manga, Naruto and Kuroko No Basuke ended.  Both aren’t particularly exciting finales.  I’ve already grown tired of Naruto, but out of nerdy obligations, I still saw it through till the end.  And the finale of Kuroko No Basuke had been disappointingly bland and underwhelming.  Hunter X Hunter, after years of hiatus, finally picked the story again, but after a few chapters, went on another indefinite hiatus.  Boo. 
→ After years of providing our province’s electric needs, ALECO (Albay Electric Cooperative) had been taken over by San Miguel Corporation.  It was renamed APEC (Albay Power Energy Corporation), and, I think, for the first time in history, a private company now controls the power in the province of Albay.  During its first year of operation, APEC had earned the ire of the Albayanos.  Throughout most of the year, parts of the province had been plagued by infuriating sets of brownouts due to APEC’s incompetent management; rumored sabotaging by unhappy laid-off employees of ALECO (that has been fired due to their connections with its corrupt administration); presumed maintenance of its electric distributing system (and, maybe, even some overhauls); and, simply, the lack of power supply (the country will be facing a power crisis this 2015).  There was even a lengthy time during May – which had an awfully hot weather – when we didn’t have electricity for several days because APEC wasn’t able to promptly replace the broken components of a substation.  APEC was incapable of solving the crisis at hand by themselves, and it had to take the active help of our provincial governor for it to be addressed.  And despite of all their faults, they had the gall to overcharge their clients.  All of these exasperating things about APEC prompted me to coin the hashtag #APECfail (a pun for “epic fail”, get it?).          
→ Typhoon Glenda hit my hometown in July.  It was a legit destructive typhoon.  There were a lot of damages.  It even brought down my alma mater’s “Centennial Tree” – an iconic acacia tree that had been more than a hundred years old – which was able to withstand even the infamous “Reming” back in ’06, hence, I was a bit shocked when I learned that it was finally felled by a lesser storm.  Post-Glenda, I was actually expecting that we wouldn’t have electricity for about a month minimum.  But I was delightfully surprised (considering APEC’s problems) that it only took five days.  It was God’s grace, since, in many parts of the city and province, it took several weeks – and even months – before they got their power back.   
→ We were, however, spared from Typhoon Ruby in early December, ensuring an enjoyable Christmas since there would be electricity then.
→ There were some noteworthy airplane crashes.  But the most intriguing was definitely the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 (MH370) back in March 2014.  In the middle of its scheduled flight from Malaysia to China, less than an hour after its takeoff, the plane disappeared from air traffic controllers’ radar screens.  Up until now, nobody knows what happened – whether it was hijacked, or crashed, or whatever.  It just… vanished.  And despite a multinational investigation and the largest and most expensive search-and-recovery venture in aviation history, there is still no answer – its disappearance still wrapped in Amelia Earheart-scale mystery.  Hence, it was inevitable for this to become another subject that conspiracy theorists can eagerly offer insights on.
→ Aside from the missing MH370, the most notable tragedies this year were the sinking of a South Korean ferry which took 304 lives – mostly students; the Ebola epidemic in West Africa; ISIS terrorizing in Syria and Iraq (in a related matter, I learned that the UN actually put hacks like Lt. Gen. Iqbal Singh Singha in charge of their peacekeeping forces… just sayin’); and Kim Kardashian’s terrifying butt-naked pictorial.
→ Robin Williams passed away.  Well, there were a couple of prominent celebrities that died in 2014.  But Williams’ was probably the only thing that mattered to me.
Goodbye, Genie.  Be free.  (sniff)
→ “The Sony Hacks.”  Sony experienced several attacks by hackers named “Guardians of Peace” (GOP).  GOP released in the Internet several secret and critical information regarding Sony’s upcoming projects as well as copies of some unreleased movies.  Then, later, it was revealed that the likely suspect behind the attacks was North Korea because of their displeasure with “The Interview” – Sony’s comedy movie that ridiculed NoKor dictator, Kim Jong-un.  There were threats that a terrorist attack of “9/11” proportions would happen if Sony released the movie.  To my astonishment, despite Fed reports that such threats are unfounded, Sony actually folded and decided not to release the movie (eventually, Sony opted to release the movie but online).  This was really worth noting and being perplexed about since it’s the first time this happened.  Jimmy Kimmel reacted: "An un-American act of cowardice that validates terrorist actions and sets a terrifying precedent."  I totally agree. If it worked this time, it will definitely be tried again and again! What's stopping the bad guys from moving on and anonymously targeting another movie they don't like? 
→ In probably the most epic casting news ever, Marvel hired the awesome Benedict Cumberbatch to play Dr. Strange!  I’m just crazy for Cumberbatch right now.  The man is extremely talented and charming.  2014 was the year he jumped past Nathan Fillion as my most favorite actor.
→ Warner Bros./DC revealed how Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman will look like.
She hasn't won me over yet.  But at least she bulked up.
→ In one of the most idiotic things in, well, ever, Hello Kitty is officially revealed to be actually NOT a cat but a little girl.  Wait, what?             
→ In relation to their involvement with Janet Lim Napoles and the “pork barrel scam”, senators Revilla, Jinggoy, and Enrile were sent to jail.  Prior to getting jailed, in an attempt to win public sympathy, Revilla did some of the most absurd, hilarious, and shameless gimmicks in the already ridiculous history of Philippine politics.     
→ Vice-President Jejomar Binay’s political enemies in the Senate unearthed some of his dark (no pun intended) secrets when he was still the mayor of Makati City.  The senators had actually provided some compelling accusations, and Binay, in return, didn’t provide a compelling defense at all.  He did challenge Sen. Trillanes to a televised debate, but backed down when the senator accepted (Binay was probably bluffing and didn’t expect Trillanes to bite).
One of the strongest arguments that support the senators’ accusations that surfaced in Facebook is this simple infographic that compares the cost of building the Makati City Hall 2 vs. the building of London’s City Hall. 
→ This year’s hottest government corruption scandal (this is like an annual thing already) is tied between Binay and the discovery that crime lords incarcerated in New Bilibid Prison are living luxuriously like, well, crime lords.  They have first-class accommodations, drugs, money, stripper bars, and Jacuzzis.  And one named Herbert Colanga was even able to nurture a musical career while in prison – and actually found success!    
→ Everyone’s favorite senator, Miriam Defensor Santiago, announced that she has cancer.  Despite of this, she still remained the most entertaining and most prolific senator in the Senate.   
→ Back in August, an MRT train got derailed and rammed into a concrete barrier in which around 36 passengers got injured.  This accident renewed attention on the horrible conditions of MRT.  And while I lamented on the fact that the Philippines still doesn’t have a modern rail system yet, MRT management and DOTC just pointed fingers at each other in whose fault it was.
→ The Philippines filed a case against China in the world court regarding the latter’s invasion of the former’s Scarborough Shoal – and beyond.  The Philippines has a strong case against China, but I’m a bit skeptical that anything will really come out of it.  If China is proven in the wrong (which is quite apparent), I doubt the United Nations will really actively enforce the ruling.  Remember Iraq?  Iraq, under Saddam Hussein, had continually violated UN treaties, but the UN never really made any move – only the US did.
China is still pretending that they lack common sense. 
→ What’s great: Pacquiao earned wins over Timothy Bradley (Mommy D was allegedly casting voodoo curses on Bradley throughout the fight) and Chris Algieri in 2014.  What’s not-so-great: he became a coach-player in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA).
→ After a 27-game losing streak in a span of two years, the UP Fighting Maroons won a game during UAAP 77 (which the NU Bulldogs won in dramatic fashion).  The team was celebrated as if they had actually won the championship.  The university threw a bonfire party, there were TV guestings, and the UP Chancellor was even quoted of saying, “We have proven that we excel not just in academics” (lolwut?).  I really found it hilarious.  This win would serve as UP’s only win this season as they finished with a 1-13 record. 
→ Despite being eliminated in the first round and a 1-4 record, Team Gilas Pilipinas had an impressive performance in the FIBA World Cup.  There was a lot of hype and excitement.  Then, the team fell flat in the Asian Games.  To be fair, overall, the Philippines sucked in the 2014 Asian Games (1 gold, 3 silvers, and 11 bronzes. Ugh).
Kobe looks amazing in black.  He's the Black Mamba after all.
→ Kobe Bryant finally got to wear a black jersey in a game!  I’ve always wanted an official black Laker jersey (which only happened during 2013-2014 season) and I’ve always wanted to see Kobe play in such jersey (Kobe only played six games in the 2013-2014 season and never had a chance to wear it); it had been long overdue.  Ok, this seems pretty petty.  But, as a Laker fan, there’s not much to rejoice about in 2014  The Lakers completed their most horrible season in history (and are now undergoing what looks to be a worse one).  Spurs won the championship, now tying the Lakers with the most championships of this era.  In the offseason, Pau left the Lakers.   There was a slim chance that LeBron would choose to go to the Lakers, but he instead went back to the Cavs.  And the most exciting Laker thing I had in 2014 was probably Linsanity joining the Lakers.  That’s just sad.
→ WWE had its historic Wrestlemania 30.  And Undertaker lost his match with Brock Lesnar  – destroying his perfect Wrestlemania record.  In my opinion, Vince McMahon’s  decision to let Lesnar be the one to beat the Undertaker in Wrestlemania was a big mistake. 
→ Hoverboards have not been invented in 2014, so there will still be no prevalence of commercial hoverboards in 2015 as Back to the Future II had predicted (bummer).  However, there are some intriguing developments in cybernetics.  A guy named Les Baugh, who had lost his two arms, received two mind-controlled cybernetic arms!  They’re not yet permanent add-ons, but the researchers are optimistic that such technology would soon be.
2014 could have been the dawn of cyborgs!

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