It’s no secret I’ve been dead serious about getting lean and fit since I refused to print my digital photos in Hawaii last year and the (still) ongoing (and unrealistic) $100 6pack-abs bet with a college bud early this year. But this week has been a really busy one and preparing measured and healthy lunches and dinners was close to, if not completely, impossible. And so last night, after a hard day’s work, I settled for a double quarter pounder at a nearby McDees. Despite the grease from the beef patties and the HFCS content in its ketchup, the burger was unsurprisingly satisfying — perhaps it was because I was hungry or because I have not eaten in any fastfood since February. Besides, it was, as David Zinczenko of the Abs Diet fame terms as, my cheat meal of the week. So, no guilt there. Just the usual resolve to run an extra lap on the treadmill.

But today, being a Saturday, was a slow and lethargic day. If there was something to feel guilty about, it was not being able to warm up the inviting living room couch and stoke my endorphins with nonsensical shows on TV for an entire week. As an expected result, this type of day and activity end in procrastination to cook smart food or even eat out for dinner. And so I ended up eating two hotdog bunwiches and reliving my not-so-distant days of watching live basketball games or idle times spent in 7-eleven combinis.

Anyway, midway through my second mustard and mayo-smothered, pickle-relished, mozarella-wrapped hotdog, I get to grin and remember the Bud Light commercial I hear on the radio of late.

I made a transcript of the radio commercial and it goes something like:

Deep and serious Voice Over: Bud Light presents… Real Men of Genius

(Second Voice: Real Men of Genius)

Today we salute you, Mr. Hotdog Eating Contest Contestant!

(Mr. Hotdog Eating Contest Contestant!)

What does it take to eat two dozen hotdogs in 12 minutes?

Determination.

Fortitude.

And a complete disregard for what they actually put in a hotdog.

(Open wiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiide…)

How many times have we said “Sure, one hotdog is nice. But 47 more would really hit the spot.”

(Get me to a bathroom)

What’s for dessert?

Nine pounds of antacids.

One bleeding ulcer.

And seven hours of routine angioplasty.

(My left arm feels tingly…)

So crack open a can of Bud Light, oh diplomat of the dog! Because our appetite for you would never be satisfied!

(Mr. Hotdog Eating Contest Contestant!)

Absolutely hilarious! I crack up and roll over just hearing this radio commercial and apparently, there are several variations of this (e.g. Mr. Chinese Food Delivery Guy, Mr. Silent Killer Gas Passer, Mr. Really Loud Cellphone Talker Guy, etc.) since Anheuser Busch commissioned DDB Chicago in 2004 for its ads.

Laughing over it somehow diverts the guilt away from eating two hotdog bunwiches today but I reckon tomorrow I need to sweat it out in the gym. Daunting, yes but for now, I just have to enjoy and laugh the rest of the day off.

What is going on?!?!

There is no letting up in the mideast conflict between Israel and Lebanon, a conflict that began mid July; a conflict that, at the rate Israel is advancing without any intervention from superpower allies such as the US and UK, might linger a long while. And a conflict on top of the current crises in Iraq and Iran.

And today, Scotland Yard announced the capture of 21 suspects believed to be terrorists out to replicate, if not, outdo 9/11’s horrors with a grand plot to carry and detonate liquid explosives over transatlantic planes from London to key US cities.

Whatever happened to the concept of world peace? Is it exclusively confined to question-and-answer portion of beauty pageants these days?

Crap. Why can’t everyone be like Cat Stevens?

Seriously, what’s going on?

What’s up, civilization?

World War III?

If hearing Brett Scallions of Fuel singing Bad Day on the radio while driving along the freeway on a Sunday was a portent of things to come this week, I wouldn’t have cranked up the volume to sing my lungs out and instead would’ve just pulled over the shoulder and prayed for a reversal of karma.

No, I didn’t have a bad day. I had a bad week.

Monday, I got a $35 parking violation ticket.

Tuesday, I checked in late (bundy clock read: 8.26AM) for work because I searched hard for a good parking spot because I did not wish to get another ticket.

Wednesday, I ran out of peanut butter which meant no smoothie for breakfast, which meant a pit stop at the corner deli, which meant smaller chances of finding a parking spot, and which meant checking in late (again) for work.

Thursday, the alarm didn’t go off, there was no peanut butter still, and the parking spot I found was two blocks away from the office. And yes, I checked in late.

Friday, I got up from the alarm, opened a fresh bottle of peanut butter, and got to leave early. Surprisingly, the entire office block was wide open for parking. On a high, I parked and checked in early for work; bundy read 7.54AM.

At 8.20, an officemate checked in. He had a hard time finding a spot, I surely told myself. Then he spoke in sheer amusement:

Some jerk parked his car in front. Must be blind not to see the Street Sweepers’ Day sign. Car’s gonna be towed, for sure!”

I made a lousy excuse to go to the john then hurriedly went to my car. It was still there and seeing it from afar still intact and untowed let my anxious self slip a heavy sigh of relief.

But then again, there it was: the dreaded green envelope clipped under the wiper. Another $35 ticket!

As I moved my car to park elsewhere (blocks and blocks away), I held the envelope in contempt while maneuvering the steering wheel thinking I had a really bad, bad, bad week…

Italy wins the 2006 World Cup.

I wish I was still in NYC. I’m sure today is a day of free pizzas, pastas, and pesto breads in quaint Italian pizzerias across the city.

I rooted for the Italians to win against the French. They were the clear underdogs, and I love to see underdogs win.

My unprofessional opinion on soccer, er, football led me at first to predict (or wish) a Portugal-Italy final game (Portugal being an underdog, too, against France in the semis) but Zidane — yes the French butthead (pun intended) — wanted to end his career with a bang and in glory.

But an Italian win was just as sweet to watch.

So, yeah, the Italians are the champions until 2010. Felicitazioni!

One would think working for two years in a profession where lying is a licensed work ethic is enough to feel disgusted and disillusioned and to finally quit and move on to a better job. Well, I didn’t.

I enslaved myself in Public Relations for two years in Manila before I took a loooong sabbatical break in Japan for three years in the hope of scrubbing off the guilt of lying and lying some more for crooked politicians and high-end consumer-oriented companies that peddled commercialism and sucked the middle class into a spending pit for profits. Save for a few clients that turned out to be great friends, I swore to chuck my PR experience and move on to a better, nobler type of job: perhaps, a diplomat (I wish!) , a university lecturer, a writer, heck! even a postal worker… anything but PR.

I swore too soon.

I got a lucrative job offer as an AE in a PR firm a month ago and I took it without any hesitation or without giving myself a moment to search the morals in me for caution. I just took it. Perhaps out of no better offer or out of boredom from living a months-long nomadic and shiftless life around America, I just took it. And as spur as the decision was, I have resurrected my three-year dormant PR career and now work as a spin doctor… yet again.

But, after a month of working and re-learning the ropes of PR, I feel the decision I made was a good one. Not because of the job, per se (the PR industry is still brimming with twisted truths and licensed lies) or the perks that go with it; I made a good decision because, this time, I believe in the products I spin. In fact, there is no spinning involved anymore. I just magnify simple truths and magnify, too, the lies that are peddled by the competition. How is this? Well, the clients I represent (as well as the PR firm I work in) are ethical ones – companies that innovate, design, manufacture, and distribute products with a great deal of sensitivity for consumers and the environment; companies that inject terminologies such as hybrid, sustainability, green building, cause-marketing, social capital into products and into public consciousness; companies that serve as a social catalyst for positive change.

Too good to be true in corporate America? I find everything hard to believe myself. But at this point, having said a mouthful already, it’s either I’m in the best job ever or I’m too convincing a spin doctor to have actually convinced even myself that I’m indeed working in the best job ever…

The Miami Heat wins the 2006 NBA Championship. No surprise there.

What was surprising was the great effort displayed by the Dallas Mavericks throughout the season.

Miami had the Big Two: Shaquille O'Neal and Dwayne Wade. Add to that was championship veteran coach Pat Riley. Public opinion and support easily favored the Florida team.

In contrast, Dallas was unknown to many until Avery Johnson's wild new plays debuted on the hardcourt that led the team of young and eager players into its first Championship attempt.

In fact, the Mavericks put a real scare to those rooting for Heat (me, included) when it posed a 2-0 lead early in the Finals.

And for all that, I respect Dallas Mavericks as much as I congratulate and celebrate Miami Heat's win.

True, they lost. But they are winners in my book, too.

As a kid, I used to read a collection of books about Aesop's Fables where, at the end of each story, a lesson is imparted. Perhaps because of that, I tend to assess a week's progress through lessons learned.

So what lesson did I learn the past week? Well, I didn't exactly learn but I did realize that communicating is easy to learn in books but tough to practice in realtime. Sure, theorists Shannon and Weaver deduced the communication process with the all-too-simple sender-message-receiver structure but in reality, it is far too complicated than that.

Take for instance a job interview. As the sender, I put across the message of 'I am qualified for the position, hire me!' The message is pretty simple and even straightforward to a fault. As the receiver, the employer — usually represented by a stuck-up, Psychology degree-holder, Human Resource personnel — would take the message and, ideally, respond favorably.

But unless I'm the son of the company's CEO, that isn't how communication works.

In reality, an interplay of charm, wit, confidence, and (to a restrained degree) agressiveness operates in the communication process during a job interview. By interplay, I mean they complement each other. One can't stand alone and let you breeze through the interview with flying colors. Take it from the quote below from someone once famous:

You can get by on charm for about 15 minutes. After that, you'd better know something."

Oh, and patience, too. However obnoxious the interviewer is with his me-myself-and-I stories, affiliations and past achievements, patience coupled with an arduous smile and fixed eye contact (never roll your eyes) are one's best approach to consistently show interest.

And preparation. You might think your ability to carry a conversation with your buddies could easily let you find the right words to construct the right answer to any question. Wrong! Prepare a list of best answers to possible questions and practice aloud in front of a mirror the night before the interview.

Jesus! I sound like a career advisor.

Well, if don't get to nail that job I sat an interview through, I'd perhaps consider a lateral career shift, then.