Occam’s Razor

December 21, 2007

Rounding Up 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — lesturla @ 11:17 am

Although 2007 started with me confined at the Medical City for pneumonia, the rest of the year has been great. I’ve been in four countries this year (may still reach 5 countries if we can make a quick dash to Cambodia next week) and had realized quite a few dreams. Work has been ok, too, while on the other hand love life came full circle to the inevitable.

And to remind myself that I have a lot to thank for amid all the bumps on the road I came up with a Top Ten list a la Letterman for:

The Highlights of My Year:

   10. Connections made while travelling
Met a Japanese businessman while stranded in NAIA who gave me his business card and offered to house me in Tokyo if I ever I go visit. Met an AVP of a bank in Jakarta who made the same offer. Met an IT Director based in Paris who asked for my resume. Met a French Embassy atache, a French Doctor on a medical mission in Hanoi and plenty of backpackers whose business cards are all carefully tucked in my backpack. What really mattered was I was not my usual snobbish Les anymore. And while in lay overs, planes, boats, or just plain walking around or having coffee I started talking to people again and in return enriched my knowledge of humanity and the world.

9. Turning 28
Helped me put things in perspective. This year made me realize my dreams more clearly. I also learned that no dream is ever silly be it meeting your sports heroes or pursuing law school studies in New York…

    8. Cullen
Every single day of the year my son never failed to surprise me with his wisdom. He’s one person whom I know loves me unconditionally and returns the love I shower him ten-fold. When as a parent seeing your child happy is more than enough reward, Cullen takes it even further. As young as he is, Cullen cared for me in his own Cullen way which is unimaginable for a two year old. His ability to learn, how intelligent he is, how he understands things even if we don’t try to explain them is simply amazing. The night before they were to fly back to Manila his eyes said it all. I know that someone out there loves me unconditionally without asking for anything in return.

    7. Seeing the Petronas Twin Towers at night
I’ve never really thought much about it until of course I was there and saw how magnificent it really was at night. Sigh.

    6. Going to Ha Long Bay
This world heritage site was a sight to behold. Splendid scenery and history. Breathtaking views. Top it off with meeting backpackers along the way and chatting them up sharing travel experiences. By the time you have to leave Ha Long Bay you’ll have been rich in more ways than one. Rich in friends, experiences, knowledge and overall rich as a resident of Earth.

    5. Discovering Photography
A hobby that I have long practiced in my head finally became a reality. I still have a long way to go but the important thing is that I have already begun what I have always wanted to do.

    4. Living in Hanoi
So far my most favorite city on Earth — and I’ve been in quite a few cities. For its people, sceneries, values, culture, the trees, lakes, weather, for its being a cusp between a city and a province, for its respect for the old and for how it embraces the lost foreigner by cradling it safely in its old quarters and ultimately for having a sense of pride and yet not too aware of how great it is while never hesitating on making its guests feel great about who they are. Ahhh Hanoi, love it heaps!

    3. Having a blast at Sinulog with friends
For all the Januaries that I had spent in Cebu, this year was my first Sinulog experience. Really got down and dirty with it dancing in the street, walking under the heat of the furious sun, meeting people, taking pictures, saying some prayers and actually “getting” the whole experience’s sense.

2. Going back to writing (via blogging)
I have broken my silence and secret fear of “going back to writing”. The result was I was read ALL OVER THE WORLD! I know that this novelty might not count much since there are way too many bloggers out there who can make a similar claim but that is entirely beside the point. Whatever it is, the fact remains that ALL OVER THE WORLD some people bothered to read, and that alone counts for SOMETHING.

    1. Being inches away from Roger Federer and Pete Sampras
I have yapped endlessly on this. I met my sports superheroes and the feeling was far greater than I had imagined. I’m a hardcore tennis aficionado and Federer and Sampras in one court is as hardcore as it can get.


December 12, 2007

Jesus Walks

My years in UP taught me this: the amount of human rights violations transpiring in our country is directly proportional to the number of poor people we have multiplied many times over. Even further, massive land grabbing is not a myth but its pervasiveness has elevated itself to a non-crime leaving a long trail of generational wounds in its path. Case in point: the plight of the Sumilao farmers.

It’s not difficult to understand their story as it is after all the stuff that makes our history. We were, as a matter of fact, mere settlers in our own country fighting off a deluge of imperial armies once upon a time. The battlecry then was that we were here first. We live here. This is our country, we cried.

A few hundred years after we are still hearing the same cry, but this time around from the Sumilao farmers. They were mere settlers in Sumilao Bukidnon when nobody else lived there. When it was a mere piece of land, they toiled and made it productive and raised generations of their families there. Until of course the rich and powerful forcibly evicted them in the 1940s.

While I am won’t to generalize the extremely rich as matapobre who given a chance would quash humanity out of the destitute, I also know this: A potent combination of knowledge/power/money versus a people with limited (if at all) amount of knowledge/education/money/power — the latter is always at the losing end. And most of the time they lose in the saddest of manners, scratching their heads as they retreat in defeat not having a full grasp of what had just swept through them.

In the case of the Sumilao farmers, when this first happened it was that time again to worry where and how to get the next meal. An ordeal, I am sure that is not unfamiliar to them but when the event seemed to have drawn its final curtains it was an ordeal that may prove to stay longer and more frequently than usual.

While it is a sad legal fact that the Supreme Court has determined that they have no legal claim to the land, it is also a fact that legalities can be mere technicalities that can cripple the power of law. In this case of mere average legal complications, surely lawmakers can do better than limit their view with a few legal merits. After all this is one of those times that the human element of the law comes into full productive practice.

To begin with, that piece of land is already rightfully theirs until someone who knew better “legally” grabbed it from them. There is CARP, too. And I leave it to my lawyer friends to explain it in its intricate details. But while we’re at the business of studying legalities, we might as well take a look at how the CARP’s execution (or lack thereof) comes in the uh, legal picture.

When the land titles of the poor farmers were cancelled after the Supreme Court ruled to grant Quisumbing’s request to convert his land, it was under the condition of his 5-year development plan. This approval to convert his land from agricultural to agro-industrial effectively avoided CARP ruling which would have granted the titles to the Sumilao farmers.

The 5-year plan did not materialize. Quisumbing decided to sell the land to the San Miguel Foods Inc. who then opted to turn the land into a “world-class” piggery. Such irony.

The Sumilao farmers’ voice is now clear and obviously more informed, revoke the land conversion order since the 5-year development plan which was the foothold of Quisumbing’s conversion request did not materialize. The land too is a prime agricultural land anyway, and this alone disqualifies it from any form of conversion under the DAR Administrative Order No. 20, Series 1992.

Strewn in the middle of the Sumilao fight are gaps that I trust our legislators and lawyer friends to settle inside the courtroom for it is a matter of fact that we have a lot of good men and women out there.

While I see the protest of the Sumilao farmers as a sign of progress (it is a relief to see the less priveleged find their voice in a peaceful manner instead of retreating in fear), I also feel that it’s sad that issues are not given the attention they deserve until something dramatic similar to “a march of a thousand miles on foot” happens.

I believe in the law. And I am inclined to believe that one good thing that happened in our history which granted us our country is not forgotten. We got justice and freedom when we got our country back from the imperial powers. In a country of lawmakers who treasure their independence and nationality, the Sumilao farmers will get their land back.


Please support the Sumilao Farmers. Had info from Rico that it’s best to visit them at the Dept. of Agrarian Reform (QC Circle area) early tomorrow since they have activities early the following morning. They need blankets since it’s been getting cold at nights in Manila and they don’t have enough blankets.

Online Petition: Click Here
More Info: Lakaw Sumilao

November 30, 2007

How To Make The Trillaneses Lose In The Elections

Filed under: Uncategorized — lesturla @ 12:14 pm

There really is no better time than now to show us that the mood to which we set our Elections will pretty much determine how the nation will run after the last vote has been cast. And as elections go in the Philippines, there’s just way too much drama engulfing the nation. From how the candidates are chosen by the parties, to how they make their political ads, their speeches and ultimately on how the voters decide who to vote — drama. No surprises then that we’re swallowed by this joke of a national soap.

Other than possible cheating (another facet of the electoral process anyway) what explains how a jailed soldier gets elected as a Senator? Oh yeah, that’s actually very simple: Drum up the frustration of the voters to the administration. Use the fact that said soldier bravely tried to unseat the president by staging a coup. Package him as a hero and lace him up in messiah ribbons. There, you got a shiny new Senator. There’s nothing like touching the Filipino heart to get to a government office.

This is precisely the reason why I vomit when I see people making decisions based on emotions. I couldn’t imagine how anything good will come out of that decision making philosophy – be it at work or for the national interest. Emotions are good but when you use it to determine your business or nation’s fate it can get really messy. Here’s to a nation raised by ABS-CBN and GMA 7! After all, weren’t these two networks responsible for injecting drama in our households? Remember being held hostage by your nannies while they watch Anna Luna, Mara Clara, Flor DeLuna or whatever Maria Somethings that they come up with? Is it really too much to link these two? I think not. The api mentality has got to come from somewhere or at the very least these soaps amplify its national presence. No surprise then that our national spouting is nothing else but that: dramatic garbage.

Typical and tired as it may sound, media has got to do some additional due diligence on how they treat Elections coverage. This will create the biggest initial impact on how leaders are selected in the Philippines. Simplistic yeah, but don’t forget that we are also a nation of short collective memories. The 8 weeks leading to the elections are very crucial on how Filipinos choose our leaders. If during the several weeks of media coverage leading to the elections, real issues, qualifications and solid platforms are what media highlights and puts under scrutiny as opposed to popularity ratings and heart wrenching life stories – during those weeks we’ll have set our people in a better position in choosing the right leaders. Give the Filipino brain a feast. That’s how we get good leaders!

Let’s not fall to the trap of the drama of Political Sloganeering like “this candidate is a housewife who knows what mothers want for the country” or “this candidate is a teacher and will teach the nation ABC,” or whatever puke inducing campaigns they come up with. Since we all know it’s BS anyway, let’s just not give the candidates the chance to harp on the national weakness on drama. The moment they try, cut to commercial. Knowing the candidates’ propensity to crutching to dramatics during their campaign, that would translate to lots of commercials for the networks.

Here’s to hoping that once this is done, we won’t have Senators with egos bigger than the national interest and also in this case bigger than the law and judicial system. There is something awfully wrong with a Senator who squeezes his way out of contempt of court by staging a coup! Let this be, the worst that it could get. As a nation we’ve been dragged with way too much drama already. At some point it has got to stop. And this is that point in time where we stop and actually change things. We’ve had our drama fix, now let’s get our brains to work.

November 25, 2007

Fanboy Chronicles

For an extended moment after the match I was in a sealed bubble of satisfied disbelief and nothing, absolutely nothing can prick my bubble of joy. Truth be told, I felt that I could dodge bullets or neutralize lightning while I was at that state. I was… happy.

Earlier that day, I was telling TJ that in a few hours I will be realizing dreams that I have passionately held for years. In high school and during the early years of my college life I watched in awe every time Pete Sampras lifted the Wimbledon and US Open trophies or everytime he unleashes that vicious running crosscourt forehand. While watching on cable tv, I believed that I was more nervous than him and secretly I wished that I’d be able to see him play in person someday. I also wondered how it would feel like to be right there, to feel the atmosphere, to be in the same place with them, to see them make their back swing which my tennis trainer(s) have consistently told me I need to improve on.

And then there’s Roger Federer. Perfection come to life. A living tennis royalty. His greatness in tennis rivaled only by Pete Sampras’ record 14 Grand Slam titles. The guy whose tennis matches I mark on my Outlook Calendar and mobile phone alarm. The one who makes me go crazy during those rare occassions that he loses a game. The one whose biography I know by heart. My tennis idol. I wished out loud many times before that I’d be able to see him play in person someday.

That night, two of my dreams came true. Roger and Pete. Me right behind my sports heroes. Cheering them on raucously and sharing some fan moments with them. To cheer them on was the least that I could do in return for the countless times that their careers have inspired me to keep wanting to achieve more in my own life. And when the going gets tough, they taught me to just keep low and to return with slice backhands to keep the ball in play until I find an opening for that drive volley or crosscourt forehand.

I have always thought that Tennis is a perfect metaphor for life. And how these great tennis players conduct themselves on court should be the standard to which we handle the booming serves and gut wrenching rallies we face.

On our way to the stadium, Cullen and I were practicing our Roger cheer. Deep inside I was wondering if our seats were good enough to enjoy this momentous event. The premium seats were sold so fast that we had to settle for the 2nd best seats which turned out to be 3rd best once we got there. The seats were good enough when you want to lay back and enjoy the match as it happens. But I didn’t want to lay back and relax, I did not fly all the way from Hanoi to KL to freakin relax. I knew I needed to make the most out of this experience. I waited years for this to double-decker dream become a double-decker reality. There’s no way I was going to relax. I was gonna suck it all up, have fun and have tons of memories of what happened that night.

I saw a group of kids gather in one corner of the stadium and knew right away that this is where Pete and Roger will be entering the court from. The scene was all too familiar, kids holding huge tennis balls for autographs and people wielding their cameras as they patiently wait for the players to come out hoping to get that elusive signature or at least have them pose for a photo. I squeezed myself in and when they finally came out got these photos:

As the players went on to have their warm up, I scanned the stadium not knowing exactly why but I knew I was up to something. I thought hey, I maybe it wouldn’t hurt if I get near them and take some shots of them on their warm up. Which I did, but once I got to within a few feet from Roger Federer I knew nothing can make me go away. This is it, I thought. Every single movement, every single swing I can now study them up close. Heck, I can even smell their sweat if you wanna get weird about it.

And so I squeezed myself in the premium seats section camped there and boy, until now I can’t believe how close I was. At one time Pete unleashed one of his trademark running crosscourt forehand and I yelled, “Boy, we missed that forehand!” He looked up me and smiled. After all that shot is HIS and over the years he has taken pride on HAVING that shot. Pete looked up at me and smiled. I know I made my tennis hero feel good coming back on court from a five-year retirement. Knowing I was able to return the favor, damn I felt so good.

My fan moment with Roger was more, uh typical of me. Too dense taking photos that I didn’t realize that he actually half-laughed-half-smiled directly at me. I don’t even know if I reacted. I was too busy taking photos. A ball from Pete serve smacked my camera coz I was too busy taking photos, Roger looked at me and laughed/smiled. What did Les do? Kodak pa rin ng kodak! I was able to get a photo of him smiling at me pero naka side na:

Until now I still can’t believe it. While some people have Gandhi or Mother Teresa. I have tennis and my tennis heroes. And for two hours of my life we were close… And that was enough for me. I just wanted them to know that when I get a chance, I would back them up and cheer them on if I could. And I did just that. And they smiled back.

(If you are looking to download the full match here are links that I got from MensTennisForum, unfortunately I can’t DL from MegaUpload so if you could please convert them to torrents and seed for a few days I’d be very thankful. Here are the links for the

Malaysia exhibition:

set 1 – http://www.megaupload.com/?d=XFPLZ3PY
set 2 – http://www.megaupload.com/?d=F6RLONQV and for the

Seoul match:

set 1 – http://www.megaupload.com/?d=C47KSQGE
set 2 – http://www.megaupload.com/?d=71OLW102 and then the match in

Macau which Pete won:

Set1: http://www.megaupload.com/?d=3WMZ7ZTE
Set2: http://www.megaupload.com/?d=92WYAZ4Z

thanks to Reece of MTF for uploading)

UPDATE: Found the torrent for the Federer Sampras exhibition matches. You can find them here and be part of the DL pool so we’ll have faster downloads.

Here are some more photos I took from my seat:

November 24, 2007

I Was There

No full blog update just yet (on airport wifi waiting to board the plane) but I just wanted to share these photos I capped out of Fox Sports Telecast of the match — well the ones with me in the background goin all fanboy.

Top left, the one on dark blue shirt — that’s me behind Pete Sampras!

And then again frantically taking snaps of Roger Federer here:

November 23, 2007


Alright just a quick teaser… I’m not sure if you’ve seen my throat screamin on tv but I was just right behind Roger and Pete during the match. How did that happen when those tickets were sold out? I’ll tell you more when I get more time to really blog. For now, here:

November 13, 2007

Britney Spears, The Blue Pill, Filling up Space and More Travel

(I know that’s a mouthful of a title for this entry. But I’ve been silent for quite a while so…)

I’ve finally upgraded to the 160 GB iPod Classic. I guess that sums up my silence over the past week or so. Too many space to fill up. It doesn’t help to know that I have unwittingly deleted my Beatles, DMB, Smashing Pumpkins, REM, U2 and STP discographies. The hassle of getting them all together again complete with Album Art and making sure that the tracks’ details have the correct capitalization etc.

You see, with my previous 80 GB video iPod I have been very systematic. My playlists were carefully thought of. And for the thousands of stray tracks that I have stored in my computer I make sure that I type in the correct information for each of them. Can’t put Elvis’ Love Me Tender in the wrong album otherwise I’d lose sleep. (Excuse me while I dial my shrink.)

I so far have only filled up 100GB and I cheated at that by storing some of my work files in the iPods mobile hard disk function. But I’m in the process of loading up the complete The Doors, Led Zeppelin, Bruce Springsteen and *Nsync (chuckles) discographies so in a week’s time I’d have filled up this shiny new toy to its full capacity.

The interface of this new iPod rocks. I’m lovin the coverflow addition. And don’t even start me with the new games they load these monsters with. LOVE them heaps — and I didn’t even use to play with my previous iPod’s games!

So in the process of loading up discographies I chanced upon Britney Spears’ new record Blackout. I’ve never been a fan but I find her music a bit amusing and I have to admit at times entertaining, too. But lately my interest in her was leaning more on the fact that she’s a parent in the midst of a custody battle amid allegations of drug abuse and recklessness. Being a parent is tough and we may never know how it’s like to have all that Britney has and, well, has to deal with as a consequence. But I feel that there are very few excuses in this world on why a parent can fail at fulfilling their role. And to fail miserably at it can have dire lifelong consequences to another person’s life. That other person, incidentally, is a helpless child that a parent brought to this world. All in all what I’m really trying to say is that although Britney sucks as a parent, her new cd strangely entertains.

Going back to life here in Hanoi, the transition from fall to winter has been so erratic that I’m now nursing the annoying sniffles. Same with Cullen so the other night we went to a nearby pharmacy to get some Vitamin C supplement. And then Les Turla had a crazy idea…

Viagra. Yes. Crazy.

Now before you start having some funny ideas, the pipe is in good health and working very well, thank you very much. I mean, since this pill’s conception many years ago, I’ve never really felt silly enough to try it out unlike many of my friends who have. I remember that episode in Sex and the City when Samantha and the guy she was sleeping with in that particular episode popping viagra recreationally claiming that it provides them with a certain kind of sexual “high” (as if they needed to get higher than they already are.) And then there’s this friend of mine who boasted of a 3-hour woody. And then, there were those who died of it.

In any case my motivation was simple. Is this little blue pill really the miracle drug that people claim it to be?

The moment we got home I secretly popped one pill. I timed it and checked the pipe after 30 minutes. Nothing. 1 hour. Nothing. Turns out you need to be doing something sexual for it to work. That or I got a fake one. Anti-climax, noh!

Now, I wouldn’t say what happened afterwards anymore since TMI na (too much info — wait when did this ever stop me? :D). But let’s just say pareho lang.

Next week we’ll be in Kuala Lumpur and finally I’ll be able to see Roger Federer, Pete Sampras and Rafael Nadal play some tennis in person. TJ has been ironing out the details of our vacation for two weeks already that sometimes we laugh due to the over-preparation. We’ll be on vacay for one week lang and it’s like we’re moving to the Bahamas for a lifetime with all the preparation. Will definitely blog about that after the vacay.

I’ll be in the East Coast (NY, NJ, FL) next year, too, by the way. Just came from the US Embassy this morning for the interview and I loooove how quickly they process things here. The moment I got at the window the consul was handing me the stub na after a minute and said I can claim my passport with the new visa THE NEXT DAY. No waiting weeks on end ha. You can schedule the appointment on a Monday, have an interview on a Tuesday and then get your visa on a Wednesday. Loooove it heaps!

Anyway, here are some of the most recent photos we have here in Hanoi:

Top – Bottom:
Cullen at the start of his toothache;
Toothache na puro kasi chocolates eh;
This is what happens when you can’t read the menu na o-over order haha!;
Plane ride;
His toys lined up before the dinner yan

November 3, 2007


Filed under: hanoi, travel, world — Tags: — lesturla @ 9:17 pm

The supposed visit to the dentist (TJ’s root canal slash our legit excuse to finally stop holing ourselves up in our apartment) proved colder for our regular jackets/windbreakers to handle. And since we were waaaay late on the scheduled appointment we were told that the dentist was busy so we went out and got ourselves some handmade Vietnamese winter get ups instead. It’s actually still Fall and the forecast said it’s supposed to be 14 degrees outside but it sure feels like 10 degrees lang.

Normally, I thrive at cold tempretures and usually set my office and also my bedroom at 18 degrees. But heck outside it’s really cold. It’s still pleasant though but when the wind blows… brrrrr.

Buying the winter stuff was actually fun. Since I am a shameless amateur haggler (I learned from TJ’s mom the art of haggling: always haggle for half the price they first give you), negotiating proved to be so much fun for me. I think after haggling with the vendor in her shop she basically wanted to throw me out and put a sign to never allow me in again. She was sooo annoyed. She offered 30 US dollars for a sweater (showing me only in her calculator as she has limited English).

So I told her,

“You gotta be kidding me!”

She smiles.

I negotiated to 5 dollars (take note not 15 as what I was taught.) She signalled that I was insane. “I already know that!” I said, “I’m not buying then!” And as I started walking out of her store she runs after me and counters to 10 USD. I closed the deal since it was a pretty good sweater. I pity foreign retail owners each time they have to deal with Pinoy hagglers. This one in particular nearly threw me out of her store the moment I paid her.

We went to Pepperoni’s Pizza for dinner. Food was good as usual. And then we went to this new shop near Hoan Kiem called Ilayna. Neat stuff they have but a bit too pricey. It’s a local brand but they have really neat leather stuff like this mailman’s bag that I saw but it costs about 28 thousand pesos. There’s lots of other things I’d rather spend that amount of money on instead of a friggin bag.

TJ wanted to chill somewhere so we decided to have coffee and tea at Hapro right beside Hoan Kiem Lake. Ganda ng view, music, ambience pati yung weather sarap. Haaay!

November 2, 2007


Filed under: tennis — Tags: , , — lesturla @ 4:54 am

I woke up today freezin. Seems like Winter came early — well, that or Autumn is just on exaggerated mode. I went on my daily routine upon waking up, check the weather forecast, go to CNN.com, inquirer.net, check what new countries have been reading my WordPress Blog and check tennis results.

Turns out Nalbandian got the best of Roger in Paris (again). Less than two weeks ago he beat Federer in the Madrid finals, too. That’s not exactly bad news since that means that there are actually players out there who can beat Federer so this one actually makes for interesting match-ups to follow.

The horror came when I saw a news item on Martina Hingis — my other Swiss tennis idol. It came as a surprise since she hasn’t been playing lately due to injuries so I wasn’t really expecting to hear any news about her until the Australian Open come January. She is retiring (again) amid allegations of cocaine use.

Martina vehemently denies this and claims that the testing conducted in Wimbledon (an idenpendent Swedish agency does the testing for Wimbledon) was inaccurate since she has never taken any drugs in her life. She even offered to have her hair tested for drugs (which supposedly has more accurate and long term traces of drugs in the body.)

However, Martina is down and beat. She’s been tennis’ little young girl who took the sport by storm in 1997 at the young age of 16 through 1999 when she established her domination and has graced the sport with the most entertaining tennis style and craftmanship on court. Tennis hasn’t always been good to her, in 1999 she was berated for her petulant behavior in the Roland Garros championship against Steffi Graf. There have been rivalries and criticism on how she can’t match up with the power players like the Williams sisters and Sharapova. Such is sports, when you reach the top, the way down is not always pleasant, in Martina’s case it has been short of traumatic getting badgered on everything she does on and off the court.

So Martina decides to retire yet again. Whatever allegations she is facing now, the fact remains that Martina has provided the sport the best tactical tennis we’ve ever seen in the women’s game. Cocaine or not, her greatness will continue to live on. This sentiment was echoed by the WTA proclaiming her a “tremendous champion” amid this controversy.

You’ll always be our Swiss Miss, Martina! Cheer up! You’re still great!


Martina Hingis’ press statement:

Throughout my career, I have always been open and honest with you.

I have been accused by an outsource testing company of taking cocaine during the Championships at Wimbledon.

I find this accusation so horrendous, so monstrous, that I have decided to confront it head-on by talking to the press.

My weapon on the tennis court is and always was one single thing – the game, the ingenuity on court. And for this style of tennis, there is only one performance enhancer – the love of the game.

They say that cocaine increases self-confidence and creates a type of euphoria. I don’t know. I only know that if I were to try to hit the ball while in any state of euphoria, it simply wouldn’t work.

I would think that it would be impossible for anyone to maintain the co-ordination required to play top class tennis while under the influence of drugs. And I know one other thing – I would personally be terrified of taking drugs.

When I was informed that the A Test I took following my defeat at Wimbledon apparently came back positive for a cocaine metabolite, I was shocked and appalled.

Acting upon the advice of my family and my management, I immediately took the hair test which can prove whether or not someone has taken cocaine.

This test of course produced a negative result, the same negative result as all the countless doping tests that I have taken over the last twelve years.

However, the B Test from Wimbledon once again produced the opposite result – positive for a metabolite that apparently stays in the system for some time following cocaine use.

I immediately retained an attorney. Anybody who even attempts to take on this doping machinery alone has no chance.

The attorney and his experts discovered various inconsistencies with the urine sample that was taken during Wimbledon.

He is also convinced that the doping officials mishandled the process and would not be able to prove that the urine that was tested for cocaine actually came from me.

However, this attorney and others have also pointed out to me that a case like this one can sometimes take years to resolve, especially if both sides repeatedly appeal the case and take it to the next level.

And this is the reason for my announcement. I have no desire to spend the next several years of my life reduced to fighting against the doping officials.

I am frustrated and angry. I believe that I am absolutely, one hundred percent innocent.

The fact is that it is more and more difficult for me, physically, to keep playing at the top of the game.

And frankly, accusations such as these don’t exactly provide me with motivation to even make another attempt to do so.

I attempted a comeback after a three-year break and succeeded in winning three tournaments, bringing my ranking to six in the world.

But in the meantime, I’m now 27, and realistically too old to play top class tennis.

So now I’m standing before you, confronting the situation. Today I also informed my sponsors.

And so, considering this situation, my age, and the problems I have been having with my hip, I have decided to no longer play tennis on the Tour.

Upon advice from my attorneys, I’m afraid I am unable to answer any questions. My answers could insult someone and create even more problems for me.

Therefore, there is only one more thing for me to do – to thank all of you for many years of goodwill, and also to assure you: I have never taken drugs.

October 26, 2007

Foot Prints

I’ve been meaning to give an update on my, uh, so-called “Global Foot Print” (my friend Anna is getting excited too, read her) as soon as I got Paris reading. Perhaps it’s the French couple I met in one of those trips who visited my blog. In any case, when I got the Paris flag it got me really excited  for reasons I have previously blogged about. I guess also because of this Eurocentricity that I’m afflicted with.

Check out the map, my blog is read almost all over the US. In Europe the distribution is a bit less dense but spread out to my satisfaction. Teehee! Must work on my Australian  readership (guess it’s been only CJ who’s been reading hehe). Need to also spruce up readership in Asia although I’ve been getting traffic from Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, Indonesia and the Philippines of course. But in China, Korea, HK, Japan — zilch!

In any case, what is the point of my post you might ask? Nothing. It’s just that I need to document this before I start losing interest. That kind of thing happens you know, what with the limited attention span our generation was cursed with!

Plus, it has been one heck of a work-week. October has been really, ugh, stressful at work. So I really need to remind myself that I have something to be excited about. Like flags!

So let’s go back to flags. Here now, presenting my most recent Flag list, tada!

So happy, sooo berry happy!

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