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04/01 Direct Link
I discovered the TV remote missing at the end of my lesson. The class had left so I sent them a text message: I must have it because the next teacher, Mr. D., needs it. Sarah replied: a student from the next class had taken it to play a trick on Mr. D. I called him to warn him. He went into class and gave them a written assignment, without looking for the remote. Then he said he was holding them back for an extended lesson. They were stunned. April Fool! The boy sheepishly returned the remote. Now that's classy!
04/02 Direct Link
I read that a study done on Italians found that blue cheese can increase metabolism and bring down cholesterol. Those who eat fermented cheese with mold have a life expectancy of 82, while those who don't, 81. Wow. A whole year less!
But seriously, who would not be interested to get any food that can lower cholesterol, reduce weight, prevent heart disease or even cancer?
We read these 'new' findings almost on a daily basis. People are lapping up advice on nutrition and diet fads. Who can blame them? Who wouldn't want to live long and healthy lives?
04/03 Direct Link
Excerpt from commencement speech Alan Alda delivered at Connecticut College in 1980:
'Be bold. Let the strength of your desire give force and moment to your every step.
Move with all of yourself. When you embark for strange places don't leave any of yourself safely on shore. Have the nerve to go into unexplored territory. Be brave enough to live life creatively. The creative is the place where no one else has ever been. It is not the previously known.
You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition.'
04/04 Direct Link
I am not a scientist, but let's see if I get this right. It is this theory about dark matter. You cannot see it and cannot detect it on any instrument. Yet astrophysicists could give it mass, and describe its characteristics. It is proposed that this is what's holding galaxies together, and it may be what's causing light to warp in certain parts of the Solar System. They have measurements to prove this. Have I got it right so far? I remember when Ptolemy proposed that the planets revolve around the earth, he could also produce measurements to prove that.
04/05 Direct Link
I don't want to look back at the end of this day and bemoan another wasted day, while making promises to make tomorrow more fruitful. The sun is almost setting and all I have accomplished this afternoon is three hours - or maybe, four - of television, mostly Korean soap opera. Before that, I made a short trip to the mall for lunch and to pick up food for dinner and look at some crockery that I fancy, but decided against buying. I started the morning full of promise: did the laundry, vacuumed and mopped the floor and even read something inspiring.
04/06 Direct Link
Someone says, 'We are unique, like everybody else.' I suppose that's true.
'To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.' ee cummings.
I will live life without guilt. I will not apologise for not being the worker, the spouse or the parent that society expects me to be. I will be all these on my own terms. I will be myself, as best as I know how to be.
04/07 Direct Link
There is a difference between looking successful and being successful.
These are things that make you look successful: your achievements at school, at work and in your private life; your salary, material possessions and the kind of friends you have; and the absence of failure or the ability to avoid failure.

However, being successful is something else. You are measured by your contributions, not achievements. You do not avoid failure but learn from it. Failure, to you, is succeeding at things in life that don't really matter. You work for meaning and purpose, and not just money.
04/08 Direct Link
Wow, it's already one week into April! If I say, how time flies, I would sound cliched, right? It's not time that flies. A minute's still a minute and an hour is still an hour. Time's the same. Time doesn't fly. Rather, if it whooshes past me, it's because I haven't been paying attention to the passing of time. I've been distracted by the many unimportant disconnected tasks that occupy most of my time. If I section my time, say, eight hours of paid work, and the rest for self-development, I may be productive enough to redeem some time.
04/09 Direct Link
My mother was killed in an accident when I was five. That day, she had taken me with her to the wet market and we had dropped in at a studio where she had her picture taken. Those were the fifties, before cell phones and digital cameras. It was when we were crossing one of those crowded streets with chaotic traffic that she was hit by a motorcycle. My family could not find a picture for the wake. I told them she had taken one just that morning and took them to the studio. They got the picture, her last.
04/10 Direct Link
It's been very wet, and the winds are still coming from the NE. But the Monsoons should have been over a month ago. In class, Erickson suggested that maybe the winds were right and it's our calendar that's wrong. Maybe over the years, the Earth has taken longer to complete one revolution.
"Come on, you're the teacher. You should know these things," says Jerome.
"She knows all about the Monsoons, but nobody knows if things have changed," replied Erickson.
Well, actually, we do. We have satellites and computers, and nope, it's still 365 days to a year.
04/11 Direct Link
What does it mean to be 62? It means you should have been retired but your employer kept you in the job out of goodwill. It means you have to be thankful. Now I am officially on a year to year contract, and my annual increments have stopped. I have told myself last year that it doesn't matter as long as I still have a job. But today, when I discovered that the bonuses may also be taken away, my heart sank. Does it make sense? I am more experienced and a better worker now and doing the same work.
04/12 Direct Link
I've gotten over the disappointment of the previous day. If I can't change things, I can change the way I respond. As a matter of fact, the way ahead now looks brighter, with new possibilities even, since there's nothing holding me back in this job. I'm now prepared for the inevitable: retirement in three years. If I must leave this job, I shall leave with my head held high. We'll do with less, as many have, who were forced into retirement. All these years I've been too dependent on a salary. Yes, it may be a good thing, after all.
04/13 Direct Link
We've a tendency to take the path of least resistance: a shortcut across the field, being agreeable, choosing the broad and not the narrow way and doing whatever else requires least effort and inflicts no pain. It's avoidance of conflict. But we grow weak living like this. A difficult life makes us strong. It is through adversary that we grow, that we mature, and forge meaningful and lasting relationships. A life well-lived is one that overcomes hardship.

But really, who in his right mind will go looking for hardship? But then again, it's not hard to find.
04/14 Direct Link
It's already the middle of the month, the fourth month of the year, the third year from my mandatory retirement. This sinking feeling is neither anxiety nor sadness. I can't put a finger on it. Just how am I supposed to feel at the end of my career? What am I looking at on the long, or maybe short, road ahead of me? Am I afraid of fading into insignificance? As a matter of fact, there hasn't been a text or a whatsapp all night. Doesn't anybody need me tonight? A favour, snippets of information? There's still two more years!
04/15 Direct Link
I really don't feel like writing today, but if I don't I have too much of a backlog to clear. Oh no. did I just confess to not writing on a daily basis? The last week has been a bit of an upset on my otherwise smooth sailing life. Ya, right. Smooth sailing! Anything but!

Anyway, I don't feel like writing because I think I am in the middle of a depression. I just realised I have spoken fewer than twenty words since I got home from work more than three hours ago. I don't feel like talking.
04/16 Direct Link
I have only this moment, so what I want to do with my life, I must be doing it now. If I don't, the moments will just pass on by, and at the end, there will only be regrets.
I feel I am not pushing myself enough, not setting goals and working towards them. When I was young, I had to look after my kids, work hard at my job and make a good living. Now, I think I can at last do the things I enjoy and be myself. But, do I know what I want in life?
04/17 Direct Link
This is what I have learned about passion:
Finding your passion is not the key to success, and it's not true that if you live your passion, you never have to work a day in your life. In the first place, if you have not tried it before, you won't know it is something you are passionate about. The principles of self-determination are competence, autonomy (having some control) and relatedness (purpose and people). Passion is not one of these. You cultivate passion by being excellent at something meaningful which makes a difference in the lives of other people.
04/18 Direct Link
It's a Sunday morning and I usually don't write on a Sunday morning. For that matter, I usually don't write on any morning. My day follows some kind of a routine that I am comfortable with. But routines can lock us into habits that inhibit growth. I find that if I write at the end of the day, it becomes a sort of a journal entry.

This is an experiment, then. I am going to write at different times of the day and see if that helps to make my entries more varied and interesting, and more pleasurable.
04/19 Direct Link
I woke up this morning and made an entry for the 18th. So, here I am, writing for Sunday again. It's the end of the day and I am about to turn in. This afternoon we visited my parents-in-law. Both sides gave updates about what had happened since we last visited. They had gone on a tour to Bali that turned out to be quite disappointing. The food was bad, the sights were ordinary and the company tolerable. Dad is 91 and Mum's 80 plus. Just being able to travel with a tour group is already an accomplishment.
04/20 Direct Link
It has started raining, almost on cue. It rains around 4 in the afternoon everyday this month. A hundred odd students and teachers are out there somewhere on the island cheering our school's rugby team at a match that is expected to begin now. The rain clouds were already heavy in the sky when the buses left an hour ago, but no one can make the call to re-schedule the match. What is going to happen now is, they will wait it out, and then eventually call it off.

I'm not involved, but my poor friends are.
04/21 Direct Link
What comes easy, wonít last. What lasts wonít come easy. A relationship is like a house. When a lightbulb burns out you donít go and buy a new house. You fix the light bulb.

These are some of the quotable quotes I displayed in class for the Pastoral Care lesson today. It is on the Relationship Quotient. You know, IQ, EQ and RQ! I started the class with a gallery walk. Each girl is supposed to pick the one she likes best and explain why she likes it. The above quotes are the people's choice.
04/22 Direct Link
I have dry skin and my blood tests showed very high ESR for more than ten years. One doctor suggested Sjogren's Syndrome and referred me to a rheumatologist. Subsequent blood tests did not confirm the diagnosis, but the specialist prescribed the generic medication for such autoimmune problems: Plaquenil. It's been two years. My ESR has not gone down, and my skin is still dry. So why am I taking it still?
The doctor says it is to manage the symptoms. She is not able to tell me when I should stop. So I guess I have to tell her.
04/23 Direct Link
Another wave caught the capsized boat, throwing a woman into the water with her child still in her arms. Two men lost their grip and disappeared. A fishing vessel was trying to get to those still clinging to the bottom of the boat, but each time it got close enough, the waves pulled it away. Those who were nearer the fishing vessel were plucked out of the water, while others just disappeared.
I watch this life and death drama on BBC, detached from the reality, the reality that 700 people had drowned that day trying to cross the Mediterranean.
04/24 Direct Link
A 7.9 earthquake hit western Nepal. The rolling updates on the Guardian, UK, half an hour ago put the casualty figure at close to 700. This is the worst earthquake in 80 years.
Meanwhile, the volcano in Chile has already erupted twice, covering the entire terrain with thick ash that choked the life out of all crops. People frantically sweep the ash off their roofs to prevent collapse. Lahar flows are imminent when the ash mixes with snowmelt.
This is a very tectonically hazardous planet we are living in. Why then are we still fighting one another?
04/25 Direct Link
The degree of control you have over your life depends more on where you are than who you are. People making the desperate journey across the Mediterranean to get to Europe did not all originate from North Africa, Syria or Libya. Some come from much further south in Sub-Sahara Africa. But I watched with disbelief reports about people who came all the way from Bangladesh, across inhospitable mountains and strife-torn Middle-East, to get to Syria and then on to overcrowded boats for the journey to what they imagine is a better life, if they survive the journey.
04/26 Direct Link
I am at this section of Rod Judkins' book where he proposes that 'to think and act creatively you cannot live by timetables. The world revolves around schedules, but routines create routine behaviour, and routine behaviour creates routine thinking. Routine is not organisation. Organisation is a successful arrangement. Routine is mindless repetition.'
He goes on to say, 'Be wary of normal patterns and schedules: they produce normal and regular thinking.'
Here's where I beg to differ. I like routines. I can't maneuvre through chaos. I thrive in order. In fact, I believe in keeping to my circadian clock.
04/27 Direct Link
The Venus de Milo is an example of the beauty of imperfection. When she was discovered in 1820, she has already lost her arms, and whatever accessories her original sculptor had adorned her with. Yet in her broken and imperfect state, she is beautiful and we cannot picture her otherwise. Fix her, put the hands back on her, and she ceases to be the Venus de Milo that we love. Likewise, we need not be obsessed with being perfect. We are not meant to be perfect. Rather, it's more worthwhile to work towards being as good as we can be.
04/28 Direct Link
This is the third day since the 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit Nepal. There have been more than 40 aftershocks. By now, the death toll stands at 4,400. They're counting bodies pulled from under the rubble. There must be many more they've yet to reach. Some may never be found. The intensive media coverage on the rescue and recovery effort does little to help raise the level of concern. Instead, it has the effect of dulling our senses to the sufferings and scale of the disaster. I feel ashamed to tune in just for updates on the death toll.
04/29 Direct Link
'The essence of being human is that one does not seek perfection.' (George Orwell)
Rod Judkins (The Art of Creative Thinking) takes it further.
'Strive for imperfection. Miss deadlines, get lost on the way to the airport, forget to reply to emails and show up at parties a day early. It's more interesting. If it's broke, don't fix it; if it ain't broke, break it.'
Is that all? Then, I've achieved imperfection already! And by the same token, I am also creative! What a relief! All this while, I thought it's because I am stupid and lazy.
04/30 Direct Link
He is barely forty and he had done things we could only dream of.
He did very well in a premier school and got an overseas scholarship from a big corporation. He had an executive job with that company upon graduation, but left after fulfilling the bond.
By then, he had climbed mountains, gone windsurfing, skydiving and scuba diving, volunteered with an NGO, and had written a book. Now he is giving inspirational talks, like the one I'm listening to.
Turn off all distractions and excuses, he says. What you want to do, do now. Live now.