PSP Appreciation

PSP-2000 Ice Silver

It’s only after two years that I’ve come to appreciate the value and quality gaming that I get from my Sony PlayStation Portable.

When I first got my ice silver PSP-2000 in December 2007, I wasn’t really that impressed or excited about it.  Ok it was the major buy for that Christmas for me personally, but I was more excited with the plamo and toys I bought then.  I think I just purchased the PSP with the thinking that, “heck, a lot of my friends have it, so I might as well get one”.   But I never really got into heavy play with PSP, and there were times that I didn’t even touch the PSP for a couple of months – it was left safely stored inside my work table in the study.

I’m not really a heavy gamer, especially since my Dad was hospitalized due to his third stroke in 2005, and my interest in console gaming faded to nothing when my trusty PS2 went bonkers on me late that year.  I figured changes in my priorities urged me to turn away from much video gaming, and except for the occasional game on my PCs, I don’t play as often now.  I found myself enjoying to surf the ‘Net more than burning on my console.

Things changed after my Dad was again hospitalized for kidney failure last August 2009, and he was prescribed to have hemodialysis treatments twice a week.  Being the only son it took my familial responsibility of taking him to the treatment center for his sessions, which falls every Mondays and Thursdays, from 6AM to 10AM.  We usually get into the center way before 6AM, so that he can start and finish his treatments early, giving me time to get to work, albeit late.

While the hemodialysis center is quite comfortable for both patients and accompanying family members alike, you can’t help to get bored most of the time.  They have separate cable TVs for each patient, but it’s mostly for the patient’s use.  The place is so cold you’d probably fall asleep huddled under thick jackets and blankets.  While there is a WiFi connection in the clinic, and I have brought my laptop along to surf or do some work, I found this to be extremely boring and I easily fall asleep, plus the fact that I really don’t wanna lug around the laptop to the clinic all the time.  Sure, the staff are very friendly, lively and entertaining – and the young female nurses are not so bad looking themselves – but I’m not the type to bother them all the time with socializing, given they have important work to do monitoring their patients.  Same goes with the family members of other patients – we all have responsibilities to our patients, so I don’t get to converse with them all the time.  So if I managed to stay awake for the four or so hours I wait for Dad’s treatment to finish, there isn’t much to do.

Then I remembered my PSP.

I found that playing with my PSP was the best thing I could do during the treatments to while away the time.  The portability and compactness of the PSP makes it easier to carry around than a heavier laptop, and thanks to its internal WiFi I can’t connect to the ‘Net and surf if I want to.  Having your eyes and fingers moving continuously as you play keeps me more awake than its use while surfing or doing work on the laptop.  Also I can watch movies and anime with it, so I usually download the latest anime episode the night before and load it to the Memory Stick before we leave early in the morning.  Finally I’ve come to appreciate the application called Bookr, which allows me to read PDFs and E-Books with the PSP.  The seven or so hours of power a fully-charged PSP battery can give me enough to survive about three hours of continous gaming while at the clinic, which is more than enough for me, since I do enjoy taking an hour or so nap during the treatment to catch up on sleep.  And if I do need extra power for the battery I have my trusty chargers kept ready in my car’s glove compartment.

Given how I’ve come to value my PSP, I took time over the New Year to upgrade it.  For the first time since I got it I’ve decided to upgrade the custom firmware to version 5.50 GEN-D3, and it’s now upped to firmware version from firmware version 3.90 m-33.  With that I’ve gotten several of the newer games, and right now I’ve been into playing a lot of NBA 2K10, Tekken 6 Resurrection and Final Fantasy Dissidia.

My concern right now is whether to buy a better battery to use as a spare, in the event that my current one gets easier drained thru time.  Also I’m thinking of getting a new EVA (as in extra-vehicular activity) airform pocket for it, since the one I got in the packaged deal for the PSP is already banged and nicked.  To me it’s the second most important accessory for my PSP, besides the thin crystal case, ‘cause it saves my PSP from getting scratches (aside from the paint nicked from the on/off slider and where the strap clings to the strap bar, my PSP is happily pristine).  I’m also thinking of getting another Memory Card, so I can put all my games in one and my anime/movies/E-Books on another.  I’m also concerned to get a new version of Bookr, but I don’t know if there’s already one for custom firmware version 5.50 GEN-D3.

So that’s how I’ve come to consider my PSP my current most useful gadget.  It keeps me company during those hours that I have to do my responsibilities for my Dad, and I pray to God to keep safe and inspired those who created such a helpful – and of course very entertaining – gadget.

The Most Important Things – Christmas Thoughts 2009

A Gundam SEED Christmas!

It’s very early on this cold and lazy Boxing Day 2009 morning as I write this blog. Right now I’m having a breakfast of leftover Christmas ham and toast topped with hot coffee. I’m listening to the audio stream of DZMM, as the husband and wife tandem of Julius and Tintin Babao interviews CNN Hero of the Year Efren Peñaflorida about the changes in his life after winning the prestigious award as well as his experiences with the pushcart-education advocacy, the Dynamic Teen Company.

I listen to his anecdotes on how his volunteerism and civic service with the street children he teaches is very hard yet very fulfilling in his life, and that he counts his blessings and willfully shares them with everyone he cares for. He says that even though times are hard, he’ll keep on going with his advocacy because he sincerely loves doing it and finds pleasure in seeing that he makes children happy by giving time to teach them.

Counting our blessings is a very important moral we all have to understand, especially during the Christmas season. While it is humanly normal that we like to expect nice gifts and good fortune during Christmas, recently I realized that we should be happy with what we receive and never envy what other might have. Keeping it simple will give us less pressures and stress, and finding happiness in the little things will make our lives more bright and fruitful. We should always appreciate what we have now, before it’s gone. And if we have a chance, let’s find time to share our blessings to those we know that needs a little more help and cheer.

So on this Boxing Day, when most of us go out to the malls and buy the stuff we want with the blessings we received or saved this Christmas, let’s keep in mind that the most important blessing we have is what God gave us and that we should at least be happy and thankful for that, and that everything we receive, we should consider as a “bonus” to make our lives a little more fruitful. Remember that it’s the simple things – our health, our faith and our families, friends and loved ones – are the most important things.

Merry Christmas everyone and have a fun New Year. =)

On Over-Possessive Parenting

My inaanak (godchild), the only child of my cousin Myles, is encountering the same problem that her mother went thru when we were kids – having to deal with a very strict and possessive grandmother, my Mom’s elder sister.

You see, my cousin was raised by her mother alone, and my Tita (Aunt) is a tad too possessive about restricting my cousin’s movements.  And this evolve into some complications when my cousin rebelled, and my cousin went thru problems with her own marriage, which ended in annulment.

This time, my Tita’s over-possessiveness is concentrated at my inaanak, and I can see that the young girl (she’s 13 and entering high school next summer) is struggling to deal with it, and is becoming overstressed.  Just like her mother before, my tita is restricting her movements (even with her own mother) and I feel that it’s reflecting badly on my inaanak.  She’s now showing some bad habits, that, while I can place as something a typical teen might develop, I still feel as a tad more rebellious than most.

I have an easy time relating with my inaanak, since we’re both otakus and anime fans.  I lend her some anime that I have, and she gives me advice on what anime is good to watch and manga to read as well.  I might have tag along during the next anime con, since her mom told me that my inaanak hasn’t been to any anime event yet.   And I’m proud of her since she’s a straight A student, and looks to have passed the entrance exam of a prestigious science high school in Makati that she – and not her grandmother or mother – really wanted to enter.

But then again, I am concerned about the stress I see building up inside her.  While I might not be the model youth I was when I was younger, at least my folks let me decide on what I want to do or to be, as long as I was responsible enough.  I know I won’t be able to take the stress of over-restrictiveness that my tita is showing her granddaughter, and I know my cousin is also stressing over what her daughter is going thru.  There had been confrontation and fights, and the atmosphere between them is gloomy at best.  Even my mom and her sisters get into arguments with my tita about this touchy subject.

Hopefully she can cope with it.  All I can do is support her mom thru advice, and maybe just reach out more to my inaanak thru our common otaku interests.

What are you’re thoughts about parents being over-protective or over-possessive?  Any suggestions on how I can help or guide my inaanak with this problem?

She’s Coming Home…

My tita (aunt), Gigi, is coming home today, after spending twenty-two days in the hospital after suffering the severe stroke mid-August. While the left cortex of the brain, and the right side of her body was affected by the stroke, by my layman’s experience with stroke victims, I can say that my tita, with her strong personality and will, is progressing fast with her occupational and physical therapy, which to me is a good sign.

Her family, however, will still need to sacrifice a little, since my tita needs continous therapy for the next few months, as well as several weeks of feed her via NGT. It will entail my uncle and my two cousins (both guys) to rotate on their sleeping schedules to feed my tita her soft diet, which has four-hour intervals. For someone who experienced doing that with my own Dad after his third stroke, I didn’t find it that hard, but it still would eat into your usual habits and schedules. Added the other usual stuff needed for the care of stroke victims, it will be a little tough ahead for my tita and her family, but we’re all happy she survived her stroke, and is now home.

Update On My Tita’s Condition

Today marks the one week mark of my Tita Gi’s stay in the hospital after having suffered that stroke early Sunday morning.  While she’s still confined at Medical City in Ortigas, she has achieved good progress.  She’s now out of the Acute Stroke Unit after spending four days there, and now beginning treatment and physical therapy both at the bedside and in the Physical Rehabilitation Section of the Medical City.  Hopefully she’ll get well enough to be home within the next week.  I’ll update you guys on her progress on some of my next posts.

Mirroring A Recent Past

Early Sunday morning, may preparations to going to early Mass was interrupted by a phone call on my mobile. At first I thought it was sacred_essence, who had the penchant of calling me this early in the morning. But then I remembered that she was attending the dawn service of her congregation, and that she only calls me on thelandline, not my mobile. I was surprised to see my cousin, Jinno, as the one calling me on the other end. But I wasn’t ready for what he said after I answered his call.

Jinno broke the news as gently as he could – his mom, my Tita Gigi, was having a stroke, and that he and his dad and elder brother had taken her to the hospital. It took a second for it to register before the full reality of the news hit me. The news brought back memories – my Dad suffered three strokes of the same kind, and I was remembering the feeling of fear and helplessness for those around him who love him and want to care for him, but don’t know what to do and frightened at what he was experiencing.

I rushed to my Mom and told her the news immediately. Tita Gigi was my Mom’s youngest sibling in her brood, and therefore special to her. Also, my tita’s family was there for us when Dad went down with his last stroke, and so I felt a debt of honor to them that I know I can never completely pay, but willing to give increments to. Mom took the shock with grace, and we both decided that I should go to the hospital immediately to rush to my aunt’s side. With another of my Mom’s sisters as my companion, we got to the ER and found myTita.

At first glance, Tita Gigi was lucid. My comment at the time was she was going to be fine because she was “malikot” – she was moving around restlessly in the hospital bed. By my experience with my father, I saw this as a good sign that the stroke was not that bad, but again my opinion was from an amateur point of view, and I knew that the stroke was still progressing. I answered the questions of my uncle and my two cousins as much as I can, and tried to comfort them any way I can think off. I was quiet and solemn most of the time, remaining sober, although my heart ached as I saw my favorite cousin,Nino the elder brother, was brought to tears. Jinno, the younger, was taking it stronger – he has the same strong and feisty personality as my Tita Gigi, and I know he get through better. But I can see the turmoil that was going thru my three relatives in their eyes.

After sending home my cousins to get clothes for their vigil in the hospital, the doctor arrived with the diagnosis – the left cortex of the brain was hit by the stroke, and more tests was to be done to see the extent of the damage there. The left side of myTita’s body was hit and currently weak – mobility was limited there. And her speech was impeeded – this is the worse damage a stroke on the left brain could inflict, at the same time she was having trouble swallowing.

The good news the doctor said that because my uncle noticed my Tita’s stroke early in the progression, medication was given early – not early enough to stop the stroke, like some medicines can, but early enough that it can be monitored and medicated by the hospital staff as well. Also, after a good four hours of waiting in the ER, myTita was admitted to the Acute Stroke Unit – an ICU-style ward for patients with a progressing stroke attack. Thankfully my Tita was brought in there, and the isolation allowed her to rest comfortably and peacefully. It’s a little tough for the family – visiting hours was severely limited to a few hours in the morning and evening, and there was no place to stay overnight. But we all agreed thatTita needed the rest and quiet, so we didn’t grumble or complain about it anymore.

With everything stabilizing at the hospital, my Tita Baby and I, together with my Uncle Noy, left the hospital, leaving my cousins to wait on their Mom, giving Uncle Noy to rest up at home. I arrived at home slightly after lunch, to the waiting crowd of relatives eager for news about my Tita Gigi. I filled them in on everything I can tell them, which they accepted gratefully and unanimously decided to visit my Tita Gigi later that afternoon, despite my warning that visitors and visiting hours was limited. My Mom went with some of my cousins, and I stayed home for the rest of the day to be with my Dad.

As of today, my Tita Gigi is still in the Acute Stroke Unit. By experience, I know that a stroke patient will spend at least a week in the hospital so that the stroke could subside and the patient be monitored – that was the SOP when my dad had his three strokes. While still in isolation, I believe its for the best for myTita . She will need all the rest she can get, so that the medicine and medical care will send the stroke away, and physical and occupational therapy will deal with bringing her back to her feet again. It will be a tough time ahead for myTita’s family – I can symphatize with what will be in store for them ahead. It will not be easy taking care of a relative stricken by a stroke, and my Mom and I have been goingthru this for the past six years now. But a lot of patience and love will help lighten the load, though it won’t take away all of the burden. It is a burden I have learned to carry, but what has happened to myTita felt to me like looking at a mirror at my recent past. I pray to God that all will be well with my Tita, and that she can recover as much as possible from this saddening development.