Thursday, October 29, 2009

it's all fine to say...

Thursday, October 29, 2009

It’s all fine to say, “Time will heal everything, this too shall pass away. People will forget”—and things like that when you are not involved, but when you are there is no passage of time, people do not forget and you are in the middle of something that does not change.

~ John Steinbeck, Cannery Row, 1935

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

What's in your bag?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

They say that a woman’s handbag not only contains the items that are essential to her on a daily basis but also tells a lot about her - her quirks, her disposition, her priorities in life.

Here’s what’s inside mine: a couple of spiral notebooks, a pen, an umbrella, sunglasses, a paperback, a handkerchief, lipstick, my house keys, iPod, a USB flash drive, and my company ID card – things that I can’t do without. I bet others have more interesting stuff in their bags than these things in mine.

People always give me that nonplused look when I tell them that I don’t bring my cell phone or my wallet when I go to work. It gives me a reason not to buy anything on impulse and an excuse for not responding to text messages I don’t want to respond to or to take calls I don’t want to take. By now everyone who knows me has learned to send me an email, and not an SMS, when they want to contact me. It’s like setting boundaries and saying, you can only reach me when I want to be reached.

So what's in your bag?

Sunday, October 25, 2009

concomitants of failure

Sunday, October 25, 2009

“It has always seemed strange to me,” said Doc. “The things we admire in men, kindness and generosity, openness, honesty, understanding and feeling are the concomitants of failure in our system. And those traits we detest, sharpness, greed, acquisitiveness, meanness, egotism and self-interest are the traits of success. And while men love the quality of the first they love the produce of the second.”

~ John Steinbeck, Cannery Row, 1945

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Classroom Management

Thursday, October 22, 2009

I've been tasked to develop an evaluation tool for one our products, a classroom management software. As I tried to understand how its features work, I realized how different classes are managed nowadays compared to the way it was before. When I was in grade school the piercing look of the teacher would have frozen us to attention; now it takes a computer software to remove distractions and compel students to focus and pay attention. It’s a far cry, too, from how our classes were handled in college and graduate school. Who needed computers when our classes were conducted under the trees or by the pond--without the usual classroom hierarchy, with both teacher and students sitting Indian style on the grass and freely exchanging ideas, and where distractions become a source of intellectual stimulation? A software that monitors and records every move a student makes in the classroom seems to be incongruous with a system where the only requirement is to write several papers and pass the final exam and attendance is not even an issue. Or so I thought. Programs like this would not have been developed if people don’t have a need for it.

It’s utterly antediluvian I know, but why do we seem to have this tendency to “applaud the past and lament the present”?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

a typical morning

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

As the weather cools toward the end of the year, I find myself waking up refreshed and invigorated. A typical morning for me involves getting up at half past six in the morning to the sound of my cell phone’s alarm and immediately turning on the computer to check my email and my friends’ status updates on Facebook; then I prepare a quick breakfast, which I eat while chatting with D if he’s not busy working out. By 8:25, I’m showered, made-up, dressed and ready to go to work. And after a five-minute walk, I’m in the office with a big mugful of coffee, all set for the day’s toil.

What’s a typical morning for you like?

Friday, October 16, 2009

Forgiving

Friday, October 16, 2009

Last night as I was staring at my face in the mirror I noticed the unsightly pockmarks, the faint lines around my mouth and the dark smudges under my eyes that no amount of makeup can conceal. Surprisingly, it did not freak me out as it would have a few years back. I just shrugged it off as an inescapable part of life and went to sleep.

They say that maturity is delayed gratification. I see it as the ability to forgive ourselves, our faults and the overall pell-mell of our lives. As I advanced into my fourth decade in this world, I became more forgiving of my own as well as others’ inadequacies and vulnerabilities; painfully discovering that life is fluid and inchoate, I have learned to accept the ephemerality of objects, people and relationships. The I-can-do-anything-I-can-change-the-world exuberance of my youth has been replaced with irreverence and Sisyphean angst. Chastened to accept the futility and puerility of tilting at windmills, I slowly understood that there are things that we simply cannot do anything about.

Younger, I believed that I only had an outline of a life yet to be filled in. Now older, I realized that it was never filled in, because my life’s details had totally diverged from its original outline. The faint swells of regret suppressed, I now forgive myself for that life not lead.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

their hearts were bowled along

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

...The hand of Fate had snatched all their souls; and by the stirring perils of the previous day; the rack of the past night's suspense; the fixed, unfearing, blind, reckless way in which their wild craft went plunging towards its flying mark; by all these things, their hearts were bowled along. The wind that made great bellies of their sails, and rushed the vessel on by arms invisible as irresistible; this seemed the symbol of that unseen agency which so enslaved them to the race...
~ Herman Melvilee, Moby Dick, 1851

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Shame

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The ineffable tragedies that had recently struck countless people’s lives have rendered me speechless, too ashamed to write about the trivialities of my own little world. How inconsequential my daily crises, my petty troubles are compared to theirs. There is no reason to pick at scabs when there are thousands out there with gaping wounds.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Booking a Tour

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

One would think that credit cards and the Internet make it easier to book a tour. In our case, they don’t.

We are trying to book a package tour with the travel agency, The Sinh Tourist (formerly known as Sinh CafĂ©) located in Ho Chi Minh City, but they don’t take credit cards. They require the entire amount to be wired to them, which, to me, is a bit risky. The tour is supposed to cover parts of the Mekong Delta Region (Cai Be, Vinh Long, Long Xuyen, Chau Doc), Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, but when I asked the travel agent about the details, she mentioned names of hotels that are definitely not in any of those places. After several email exchanges, I’m certain there’s been something lost in translation. Despite the risk that the tour could be fully booked by then, perhaps we should just make the reservation when we get to Ho Chi Minh instead of doing it online or through a bank. Or maybe we can just do away with the tour altogether and simply travel by ourselves.

Suggestions, anyone?

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Once Again

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Hunched over my desk against the inaudible hum of workaday existence—supposedly reviewing modules while actually staring at our itinerary and imagining what fun we’d have in those places--I felt that delicious sensation of excitement diffuse through me. Glancing every now and then at the calendar, I—though acutely certain of its impossibility--willed the days to move a little bit faster.

In less than two months D and I will go on another vacation, something we’ve planned and looked forward to since we came back from Thailand early this year. There is something sweet in knowing that after spending an awful amount of time mired in the prosaic back and forth of every day, I will be with the love of my life once again.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Acts of God

Friday, October 2, 2009

Act of God. It is such a curious term, isn’t it? It’s been mentioned a lot these past few days as certain parts of the world continue to suffer from the onslaught of natural disasters. Defined by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, an act of God is “an extraordinary interruption by a natural cause (as a flood or earthquake) of the usual course of events that experience, prescience or care cannot reasonably foresee or prevent.” As a legal term--and for insurance purposes--it is defined as “an event which is caused solely by the effect of nature or natural causes and without any interference by humans whatsoever.” Thus, no one can be held responsible. Even God, I suppose.

Countless lives, livelihoods, homes were lost because of these inevitable “acts of God”, and no one could—or should--be held responsible. I hear people thanking God for sparing their lives, but, unable to keep blasphemous thoughts from intruding into my mind, I wonder why He, who they say is merciful, let these things happen in the first place. What are they for? Why do they occur? Are they mere products, or even instruments, of evolution? What have we done to have provoked nature’s wrath? I cannot understand. Since there seems to be no logic behind it, is it just a matter of acceptance then? Can somebody, please, make me understand?

Thursday, October 1, 2009

O hushed October morning mild

Thursday, October 1, 2009

October
By Robert Frost

O hushed October morning mild,
Thy leaves have ripened to the fall;
To-morrow's wind, if it be wild,
Should waste them all.
The crows above the forest call;
To-morrow they may form and go.
O hushed October morning mild,
Begin the hours of this day slow,
Make the day seem to us less brief.
Hearts not averse to being beguiled,
Beguile us in the way you know;
Release one leaf at break of day;
At noon release another leaf;
One from our trees, one far away;
Retard the sun with gentle mist;
Enchant the land with amethyst.
Slow, slow!
For the grapes' sake, if they were all,
Whose leaves already are burnt with frost,
Whose clustered fruit must else be lost--
For the grapes' sake along the wall.
 
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