Eclipse

Comments Off on Eclipse

Eclipse by Richard North Patterson was the book I finished this month. I actually started this a few months back but I was very busy so I couldn’t sit down to finish it.  It’s a very compelling book and very relevant to our life now.

This book really makes you ask yourself some tough questions. What price are we all willing to pay to maintain our lifestyle? How do we measure the value of human life? How do we balance business, politics, environment and people?

The book talks about a fictional country called Luandia. It was very well described and I can imagine the events as actually happening.  It is just so sad that a country who has rich resources would go to ruin.  You’d really think that the discovery of oil would help everyone in the country. However, as we all know, only a handful get to benefit from it.

The recent turmoil in the Middle East and Africa really highlights the fact that being oil-rich is no guarantee for progress and growth. Governments have a huge responsibility in putting things in order. Companies also have a responsibility to conduct their business in a manner that is respectful of the people and of the environment. These words are easier said than done. Relationships are complicated. Politics and business are complicated. There’s no easy fix. There’s no easy way.

It is very easy for me to sit here and blame governments, blame businessmen, blame criminals. But we all play a part. We’re all interconnected. One person alone didn’t cause the problems nor can one person alone solve the problems. But one person can influence the people around him. And they can then influence others. It’s like the concept of pay it forward. Let’s all pay it forward. Let’s all make small changes with our lifestyle. Let’s all be more mindful of how we use our resources. Let’s all call for clean governments. Let’s all support businesses that conduct their business in an ethical manner. I am hopeful that together, we can all institute change. These problems may not be happening in our own backyards but we all share the same Earth and protecting their part of the Earth is protecting our part as well.

 

2011 in review

1 Comment

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.  I got the email and was very surprised with the numbers.  I know it’s not much but I still didn’t expect to generate such numbers.  I hope I at least get to match the numbers this year.  Happy new year everyone and keep on blogging!

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 2,800 times in 2011. If it were a cable car, it would take about 47 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

 

I’m back! (Hopefully)

Comments Off on I’m back! (Hopefully)

I can’t believe it’s been two  months since I last wrote here.  It’s been a hectic November and December.  It’s a new year and hopefully, I can pick up the habit of writing again.

The last thing I remember writing about was the new job I found.  As I’ve said, it’s not regular so I felt that I had to take full advantage of it when work is available. Unfortunately, that meant I didn’t have much of a life the last couple of months since  I was always working.  I felt like I was even working more hours than if I did have full time work outside the home.  It’s kinda hard to stop when no one will tell you to stop.  I haven’t read a book in months.  I haven’t read any blogs. I haven’t tried new recipes.

I think it’s time for a fresh start.  Hopefully, I get to do the following:

  • Limit the number of hours I work (and stick with it!)
  • Blog regularly (I hope weekly)
  • Try out a new recipe every month
  • Finish a book every month
  • Get back to appreciating the simple things in life

This is a very simple list and I’m sure easily accomplished.  I just want to clarify, though, that I’ll do these things as long as I feel that they are contributing to my quality of life.  If I read a book just so I could say I did so but I’m not enjoying the experience, then that defeats the purpose of the list.  The list is a guide for me to enjoy my life as these are the things that I love doing.  If my interests change, then my list will change as well.

I hope this blog will continue to serve as an outlet for me.  I’m not really a great writer and I really feel small when I compare my blog to others that are so wonderfully written.  I just remind myself that I’m doing this for me, as a venue to express my thoughts.  I’m not trying to gain a following nor am I trying to make a career out of writing.  I am actually surprised that there are people who read my blog.  I am happy that some people take the time to ready my ramblings.  Thank you very much and I look forward to continuing on with you in this journey we call life.

Disconnected

2 Comments

It’s funny how we feel so lost when we lose things we have been taking for granted.

Yesterday, there was a strong typhoon that hit the country and plunged us in darkness.  Well, it wasn’t really dark since we lost our electricity around 9 am but it sure felt like the dark ages.

At least it was cool so we didn’t need electric fans.  We also have a gas stove so we had no problem cooking.  It made all of us think of creative ways of passing the time though.  I slept, read and baked.  The kids drew, played card games, and we also let them play outside for a little while.  I wanted to take a walk in the rain but the wind was so bad we decided against it.  There’s a big chance we could be hit by branches or bits of roof material and trash flying around.

We got our power back by 3 pm so we thought everything was back to normal.  However, our cable wasn’t back and we don’t have an antenna so the local channels have a very poor reception so watching TV was out.  We had internet after about 30 minutes but we lost it again at 7 pm.  And it only came back at around 12 pm today.  I felt so disconnected.

Electricity, TV and the internet are stuff we have everyday.  We take these for granted and feel so lost without them.  I can’t imagine how we could survive without these things.  Of course I know that millions of people in less developed parts of the world survive without these things but for us, it is unimaginable.

I don’t watch TV that much so I could survive without it.  But the internet is another thing.  I use it several hours everyday.  Even if we had power, it’s like there’s nothing to do on the computer without the internet.  I could’t check the news, check Facebook, and I couldn’t work!  And to think I’ve only been using it since the late 1990s.  Now, I can’t imagine living without it.

I guess we really do have to appreciate all the things we get to enjoy every day.  I’m lucky my family is safe and we weren’t really affected by the typhoon.  We were just inconvenienced.  Sometimes, we need to disconnect from our online lives and live real lives.  We have to build actual relationships and not just on social networking sites.  We also have to value our resources as we need these to support the lifestyle we are accustomed to.  Mother nature is still more powerful than us and we have to work with her and not against her.

 

Advertising rules

2 Comments


We all love watching Phineas and Ferb on Disney channel.  If you haven’t seen it, you should.  They’re very creative and imaginative brothers who create the most amazing things.

Anyway, yesterday’s episode was when they were toy designers and they created Perry the Platypus toy.  And it became a big hit due to advertisement even though it does absolutely nothing.  The toy store even sold a brick as a toy and all the kids wanted one.

This episode shows how people are really influenced to buy stuff just because it’s on TV.  If it’s advertised, it must be good.  And it’s just ridiculous how people actually go for the most inane stuff.

I just think that our commercial culture is brought about by all the advertising that we see.  We get disappointed time and again (think infomercials), and yet we still keep coming back for more.  Advertising shapes how we view ourselves, our neighbors, our friends.  It tells us how to be cool and what we need to get respect.

In fact, I think a lot of items we have that we think we need, we really don’t.  But advertisers tell us that this is what we need, what we should get to show everyone that we are cool, that we are in, that we are successful and happy.

But life doesn’t work that way.  Chances are, everything you need, you already have.  And things that we think we want, probably won’t make us happy in the long run.  I try to teach this to my kids.  They always want the newest toys but most of the time, once they have the toy, they play with it for like a week, then they forget about it and they want the next new thing.  Or they go back to doing what they enjoy more, like riding bikes, playing outside or drawing and painting.

I think we should always view advertisements with a discerning eye.  Don’t believe everything you see and if you think that an item is ridiculous, it probably is.

 

Road to Happiness

2 Comments

I caught part of an Oprah show last week and they were talking about happiness.  They featured the happiest city in the US (sorry but I forgot the name of the city) as well as the happiest jobs.

The mayor of the city said that they re-designed their city about 20 years ago.  They blocked the main street to vehicles so people can walk around.  They widened the sidewalks so people can hang out.  They built a lot of bike lanes and trails so people can bike, run and hike safely.  Everybody knows their neighbors.  Basically, they built the infrastructure for human interaction.  Of course it is still up to the people if they want to interact with others but studies have shown that it is through human interaction that we are most happy.

They also featured a person who worked at a toll gate just collecting payments.  She was very happy and enthusiastic.  She greeted all her customers warmly, wishing them well and just spreading good cheer.  You can see from her attitude that she really enjoys what she’s doing.  You can also see how the people she interacted with seemed happier after speaking with her.

Her attitude towards her work is really surprising.  I guess I’d never expect it from someone working at a toll booth.  Even Oprah said that when she passes through a toll booth, she always thought that that must be one of the dreariest jobs in the world.  I, too think it would be very boring and mechanical.  I forget that even in the littlest of tasks, we have the opportunity to make a difference.

We may think that happiness is directly proportional to how much money we make, how big our house is, how many cars we have, how many gadgets and toys we buy, but it really isn’t.  Most people who do have the money to buy all these things don’t have the time to enjoy them.  They’re usually working all hours and when they do go on vacation, they’re still thinking of work at the back of their minds.  Of course it’s nice to have all the trappings but I think it’s better to have what is important.  And I think what’s important are relationships.  Actual face to face interaction would bring us more happiness, I think, than all the gadgets in the world.  You may have everything but if you are alone, what good would that do?

Everyday, we have within our power to decide how our day will go.  Will we be kind?  Will we smile?  Will we be nice to our kids?  No matter what we do, we affect others with our attitude.  A little kindness goes a long way and a little smile makes everything seem nicer.  Let’s all take the road to happiness.  All it takes is a little time, a little appreciation and a little pleasant disposition.

 

Manual Labor

2 Comments

Our printer had gone to printer heaven months ago but we haven’t replaced it yet.  We seldom print anything at home so it wasn’t really an issue.

Yesterday, though, Jari had an assignment for school that he needs to type and print out.  Good thing my mom has a typewriter that we can borrow.

It was the first time my kids had seen and used a typewriter.  Actually, it wasn’t too bad since it was an electric typewriter and you didn’t have to pound on the keys, unlike the manual typewriters I’ve used when I was younger.

So after Jari wrote what he had to type, Jon taught him how to use the typewriter.  He liked the experience of typing but of course kept on making mistakes.  After an hour and lots of paper wasted, Jon finally did it for him.  I know, I know, we shouldn’t do our children’s homework.  But he did write it himself and he did try.  It was getting late though and he needs his sleep and we also have to save the trees. 🙂

I remember back in high school, I had to type several papers using a manual typewriter.  In fact, now that I look back, I also used a typewriter for papers in college (I just dated myself).  I literally went through reams of bond paper to make reports.  And I hated having to put in footnotes because I had to manually adjust the roller to put in the footnote numbers.  And you had to be mindful of the margins, etc, etc.

Young people don’t know how easy they have it now.  They can research online instantly instead of poring through card catalogs in the library, finding the books, borrowing them, writing down notes in index cards, and returning the books.  They can edit several times without having to waste paper.  They can copy and paste without actually copying and pasting.

Sometimes I think the convenience that technology brings makes people lazy.  They want things instantly and expect instant gratification.  However, life doesn’t work that way.  I think we appreciate things more when we have put a lot of thought and sweat in it.  For me, home-made gifts are always better because you know that the person has put time and effort in making you something.  This is probably also the reason why we are never satisfied with stuff we buy.  We buy something that we think will make us happy but after a few months, we’re looking for the next thing to buy.

It’s nice to expose our children to the old-fashioned way of doing things.  Cook and bake together, instead of take-out.  Do projects around the house.  Play real games, instead of virtual ones.  Use the phone and have conversations and not just chat or text messages.  Have them write, draw, compute and type manually.  This will help all of us to appreciate the benefits that technology has given us but at the same time keep us grounded and realize that we are not slaves to technology.

Technology is a wonderful thing.  We can save time, money and effort by using it properly.  Manual labor may not be as efficient but if it is a labor of love, then it becomes a beautiful thing.

Older Entries