Less Baggage

Have you seen one of those movies where a few members of a royal family travels to a far place and they carry about 20 hard case luggage each? Yes, those were the times when a lot of fabric was used to create a single dress for the ladies and for the gentlemen, the usual attire are thick coats and jackets. At least they have servants to carry all those luggages upon arrival at the next castle.

Fast forward a few hundred years. Now we have fabrics that dry fast, very light, ultra durable and comfy all at the same time. What’s that got to do with baggage? you ask.

Let me share a short anecdote.

My wife and I experimented on some of our out of town trips in the last few years(only trips of over 400 miles counted) to fit the least amount of clothes, shoes and toiletries in the smallest possible luggage. Our justification for the experiment was to make our travel way easier. Here’s some good points on why we chose to have as little baggage as possible:


  •     Ease of carrying a light and small container
  •     Faster moving through airport security
  •     Easily fit in any car (rental or taxi)
  •     Uncomplicated choice of what to wear next
  •     Pay less for checked baggage

We were able to do it because we already have a few clothes that are made with modern fabric that are light and dry easily. We carried only a few and we washed them in the hotel shower and they dry within a few hours (depending on the humidity of the location). We carried the smallest sized toiletries and brought only one pair of shoes.

I highly recommend it to others because life gets easier when you don’t have to worry about too many things while on a journey. There are even travelers that live off from one medium size backpack for months in a foreign country. Sometimes, I wanted to do that kind of traveling – visit foreign places, stay in relatively inexpensive hotels and live off a backpack. But then, I wake up from my reverie, and I go, Naaaah, I’m too old for that.

In life, the less luggage we carry, the easier our lives become. Around my neighborhood, there are garages that are full of stuff, while their cars sit on the driveway. Boxes upon boxes of stuff sit inside the garage. The only one justified in doing that is the family with six kids.  I’ve seen people rent storage lockers for hundreds of dollars a month to keep more stuff. I mean, are they really going to use that stuff someday? Very unlikely.

In our life journey, when we eliminate excess emotional, mental and physical baggage, our lives become suddenly smoother, and happier. ASK yourself the following question, and since it’s only you that would know the answer, it pays to be completely honest.

What are:

  • the things you do that waste your time?
  • the things you buy or keep that waste your money?
  • the unnecessary activities that waste your time?
  • the tasks that waste your efforts?
  • the things you do that makes you unhealthy?

Once you have a list, work on eliminating a few. Just a couple will already make a significant dent in your life’s excess baggage. Eliminating more means more happiness and satisfaction. Pray to God for help (it’s really almost impossible to do it on our own).

Oftentimes, the burdens we carry are self-imposed and unnecessary. Let’s take back our lives. Live with less baggage.



My Ideal Home

Sometimes my wife and I think of projects to do. One of them involves a plan to buy an empty lot a little further out from the city where we will build a very plain looking home, with the inside under built so we can finish it ourselves. Then we’ll till the land and do our own small scale organic farming. We also plan to raise some chickens and maybe sheep. My wife prefer sheep but I prefer goats because they are hardy and can eat weeds. We’ll have guard dogs to protect us and our farm animals.

Ideally, the house will sit on the higher elevation of the land, with a small stream at the bottom of the grassy meadow. We will probably dig a well so we can have our own water supply and attach solar panels so we can have electricity without depending on the grid.

The best part of living this dream is planting and harvesting our own vegetables and herbs and cooking our own produce. It’s almost a self sufficient lifestyle. We studied sewing so we might even end up doing our own drapery or patio covers or anything that a sewn fabric is needed. We will add colorful LED lights to trees and in fences so the place would have a festive atmosphere all year long.

Oh, it’s great to dream. All we need now is funding and lots of time.

Here’s the funny part. I grew up in a rural area just like I describe above. The house is a lot smaller than what we plan to have but it also sits at the higher elevation of several levels of terrace protecting us from any flooding from a stream below.

Yes, there were chickens roaming freely, except at night when they go to a wire enclosure to protect them from predators. We had dogs and geese giving instant alarm when any stranger is within a dozen yards of the fence. We didn’t raise any goat or sheep but we had hogs. Hogs are not fun at all. The aroma of the pigpen is not something I wish on anyone.

We had our own well which supplied water for us and for some of our neighbors. Years later, my father added a concrete water tank complete with an electric pump to pump water from the now enclosed well and deliver it to the house via gravity.

We had some plants:  citrus plants, coffee tree, corn at times, sweet potatoes, peanuts, several leafy veggies and squash galore. We had avocado, banana (not a tree) and papaya trees that oversupply us with fruits. We enjoyed eating our own harvest of fruits and vegetables.

We were off the power grid for at least several years Our area was still kilometers away from town center that it cost tons of money to have electrical connection. Television? I didn’t watch TV until I was in high school. I was glad because I was able to focus on my studies and reading dozens of books.

We finally had electricity in our village after about seven years. It was fun having it because now we could really light the inside of our home and the front and side yards at night. It looked festive at times even when it’s not the holidays.

So my life had come full circle – from living in a rather primitive lifestyle to moving to the city to work and take college classes. Then joining the Navy, living on a ship and shore installations.

I lived in a city environment almost all my navy career. It’s not too crowded back then but it’s still a city. Now I want to go back to a simple life – being in the country, enjoying what nature has to offer.

Oh, it’s great to dream. All we need now is funding and lotsa time.




Everyone knows what “preparar” means, right? If you don’t, then you’re not prepared. 

You know what I love about this past decade and a half? We have search engines on the web. I sit at home comfortably using my laptop to learn almost anything. Speaking of search engine, I use duckduckgo.com and startpage.com. It does not track your internet habits so you don’t suddenly get a pop up ad asking you to buy a BMW while you’re researching a mountain bike on the web.

Well, when I was young many, many moons ago – when Star Wars was still far, far away – I read an article about the 7 laws of success.  One of them is preparation. It really make sense because in our everyday lives – we always have to prepare for something minor such as going to work or a major thing like traveling to another state or country.

Let’s look at air travel as a good example for preparation. At a minimum, we have to purchase our air ticket, book a hotel and arrange for transportation. But we can go deeper in our preparation process. Some traveler do extensive research:  find the cheapest but practical air tickets, the cheapest but not grungy hotels, and find the most inexpensive transportation to the airport and at the destination.

Now for the nitpicky among us (or should I say, very detailed?), they check the weather on the destination and the route to the airport. Then the traffic in both departure and destination so they can plan accordingly (do I bring an umbrella? should I wear shorts?). They also have enough charge on their cell phones, a charger, and one of those gadgets that can charge a phone by itself. They estimate the time to get to the airport using the traffic and weather data and add 15 to 30 minutes, just in case.

Their luggages comes in two separate bags, both with complete change of clothes, shoes, etc. just in case the airline losses their luggage. To be sure, they check in only one bag so they have their other bag within eyesight. Inside the luggage are a pen, pad of paper, pencils, small knife, a multitool, masking tape, duct tape, a length of rope, rubber bands and a few butterfly clips (to close hotel drapes tightly). Did I mention they have energy bars, cookies, snack packs just in case the flight is delayed?

Of course, the last paragraph is kinda extreme, and I think very few people engage in that kind of detail (ahem, please don’t give me that look!). But in the preparation business, It’s good to be a bit more prepared than less (in my humble opinion). You can’t prepare for everything, of course, but it sure makes for a smooth journey. There’s nothing more awkward than being unprepared.


Strong As Samson

This title is misleading on purpose because I personally don’t think there’s going to be another person as physically strong as Samson ever again. But there are many people as strong as Samson when it comes to their faith in God so if our topic is about spiritual relationships, then yes, millions of men and women are as strong as Samson.

A quick introduction:  Samson’s mother was visited by a “Messenger” from God stating that she will have a son and he will be raised as a Nazarite (which explains why he has long hair) and he will be tasked to deliver Israel from the oppressive Philistines.

Let me illustrate some of Samson’s actions that make any superhero movie appear lame:

A young lion attacked him in the vineyards of Timnah. He tore the lion in pieces (barehanded) as if its just a pesky insect.

He was always infatuated by women from the enemy’s camp, and he married one. One time during a dispute with the enemy he “struck down” thirty men.

At one point, he allowed himself to be tied up with thick ropes, but he just loosened it from his hands, and using a jawbone of an ass he “slew a thousand men”.

In Gaza, they tried to trap him inside the city walls by locking the gate. After midnight, he took the doors of the heavy gate with the two posts and the bar, put them on his shoulders and took it to the top of a hill in Hebron (about 37 miles away).

Even in death, he managed to kill 3,000 of his enemies using his hands to push two pillars apart bringing down the roof where his enemies where standing to watch him “entertain” them.

I don’t about you but I think we will never see anyone as strong as Samson again. He had some weaknesses that put him in serious trouble even with his supernatural strength. It’s no secret that his strength is God given as explained in the Book of Judges (Chapter 13 onwards).

Samson’s other strength is his faith in God. In the end, he realized he needed God  to defeat his enemy so he prayed that he die with them. He got another chance at reconciliation. He made mistakes maybe because he depended on his incredible strength but in the end, it was his faith that brought back his strength.

The lesson here is that no matter how much abilities we have, we still need a close relationship with God to be able to use those abilities for good. To have a close relationship, we need to call on Him – through prayers and study him through his Word (the Bible).


Avoiding Temptation

One of the surest things in life is that we will be subjected to temptation. Is it a sin to be tempted? Nope. But it is a gateway to getting in serious trouble with God and our fellow human beings. There are so many kinds of temptation but it really falls into three types: Lust of the eyes, Lust of the Flesh and Pride of Life.

May I present some examples?

Lust of the eyes is when you look at a red Ferrari and you say I want that even though it will bankrupt your family. Lust of the Flesh is intense craving for the chocolate at the Ferrari dealership. Pride of Life is boastfully driving around in that red car with a “you should be jealous of me” attitude. Those are highly exaggerated example – but it helps drive the point.

The good thing is, there are ways to avoid temptation, and here’s a few of them:

Avoid Situations

If you know you will be tempted, avoid it. In driving for example, give way to speeding vehicles and avoid hogging the lane if your speed is 10 mph less than everyone else. Keep 5-10 car lengths away from the car in front of you. You’ll encounter less reckless drivers this way.  If someone cuts you off, do not react in an offensive manner.


One of best ways to avoid temptation is to keep our distance. For example, if you tend to overeat chocolate, avoid going to the chocolate counter on the Ferrari dealership.

A Friend Indeed

The right friends can help you choose a good path in life. Friends that give you constructive criticism are real friends. Avoid “yes men (or women)” or those who kiss up to you because they want favors. Avoid friends or colleagues with bad habits so you don’t start emulating them.


I remember a pastor ask me someone once to go with him to a ministry in a foreign country. He said he just need someone to be around him for accountability. I thought that was a good technique in walking the straight and narrow path.

Troubled People

Avoid contact with people that seems to like trouble. Avoid obnoxious people that are legends in their own mind. Don’t think you can change bad people into good people because good people almost always turn bad instead.

Remove Alluring Things

If you have an object that may tempt you, get rid of it. Don’t worry about its cost. Having a clear conscience is better.

Be A Coward

Being a coward is good when it comes to temptation. By not acting on a bad decision, we tend to preserve the status quo and avoided hurt feelings for ourselves and others.


One of the ways to avoid impulsive buying or instant gratification is to sleep on a decision. Some people even use the “30-day” rule. If they want something, they wait 30 days. If they still need it (not “want” it), then they buy it.


This is the most powerful of all. God promised us that “you will not be tempted beyond your ability” (1 Corinthians 10:13). One of our favorite prayers states “and lead us not into temptation”. Temptation will be around – but we can flee from it.

I hope and pray that this post will be of help to all of you.


Elimination Round

I am sure you’ve heard of Bruce Lee. A famous quote from him: “It’s not the daily increase but daily decrease. Hack away at the unessential.” I couldn’t agree more especially with the constant bombardment by advertisers and big time media outlets about how we should upgrade to the next model because our previous widget is over three months old.

The process of elimination does not apply to material things only but that’s a good place to start. I have an example below of a cyclist with too many bicycles (I’m one of them – but still haven’t gotten the time to advertise my bike for sale).

So I put on my thinking cap and came up with a few. I’m sure some of you can come up with more, but hey – whatever you come up with should apply to your own life. I already have my own personal list of things I need to eliminate or decrease.

What can we eliminate?

Bad habits. I could name a few but why bother. I know some of us think we don’t have any but if you ask an honest loved one or friend, they’ll tell you the truth. Once you find out the truth about who you are from other’s perspective – set yourself free and change for the better.

Excess materials. I spend a little time reading comments in bicycle forums. Some people pride themselves in having 10 bicycles in their “stable”. They don’t ask me for money to buy their bicycles but I feel that 10 is too much. If only one person is riding it, why have 10? Does he drag the other 9 while riding to make the workout harder? How about me? I’ll sell at least one bike next month.

Overanalyzing. When we think about tasks or passions, sometimes we spend too much time overthinking that we become paralyzed into inaction. If there is a project, and plans and budget have been worked out in paper, the best thing to do is start. Worst thing is having too many plans, but zero execution.

Entertainment.  The fall of the Roman Empire was due to excessive entertainment. The Babylonian Empire got conquered when they were in a drunken party while the Persians drained the Euphrates River (which passes through Babylon) so their soldiers can walk underneath the fortress walls. Things you can take off: Watching Sports, Playing expensive sports, any high end this and high end that.

What do we get out of our elimination round?  In a word, time. Now we have time to do the things that really matter, like: following our passion, getting some side passive income, studying things we love, spending times with loved ones, reading, sleeping, exercising.  We will have a higher quality life and in the process, save or earn more money, maybe. We’ll have a clearer mind and a better perspective in life. We may end up helping people more. What’s not to like?


Pig Out

This is going to be a short one I hope – because we’re talking about a very popular food choice. I don’t think we need introduction to pork meat. I liked to eat pork years ago but after learning about it from nutritionists (and Leviticus), I finally quit eating it. At one point, it was even advertised as “the other white meat” and so I thought it was as healthy as chicken breast without the skin.

Years ago, I was in a three week detox diet. The two doctors that helped me in my diet conversion are both vegan. One of the doctors told me to avoid meat at all cost. If I had to eat meat, eat lamb. What about pork? absolutely not!

Why not pork?

I did some research and I was going to give you details but it will get too boring or sound like a scientific essay. I also did not want to gross you out. I promise you that if you do your own research about pork, you will get disgusted with it.

Here’s some quick explanations (I tried to make it to sound cleaner than the articles I’ve read):

Pigs harbor a bunch of parasites. Some of which are hard to kill even with high heat, spices or vinegar. Those parasites happen to live in humans too and it can go from pigs to human or human to pigs.

Hogs are drugged heavily. It’s used for growth and antibiotics. Some chemicals are given to give a nice color to the meat. There’s even a pig farm here in the U.S. that uses chemical supplements to the pig’s diet. That toxic chemical is banned in 160 other countries but not here.

Bacon and sausages does not look like their pork anymore, right? But they’re even worse because they have nitrates and nitrites added to preserve and add a pleasing color. Those additives increase greatly the risk for cancer.

Some pig farms are very crowded. They live in among other pigs and their body waste are not properly disposed. Some are even restricted to a very small space that they can hardly move and their job is to breed over and over. When they get slaughtered some of them die a slow death.

Pigs digest their food in about four hours. Cows in 24 hours. Pigs don’t sweat also. This means the toxins that they ingest stay in their body. Those toxins (along with parasites, bacteria and viruses) are passed on to the pork eater.

I hope I didn’t gross out any of you, dear readers. You don’t have to believe me. In fact, I hope that you do your own research because then you’ll get better informed. But one of my favorite health tips is: avoid eating pork totally. You’ll be healthier!