Month: September 2014

A Medieval Tale

The story I am about to tell you is a story that I read many many moons ago in a comic book. I used to spend my weekends reading maybe a couple dozen of comic books in a store where for a small fee, you can read all the comic books they have on their store. I tell you – that was much better than watching television.

The story is set in the medieval ages in England. A boy who was poor was working as an apprentice to a blacksmith. He was an ordinary boy whose parents died while he way young, He worked hard to earn a living to help out his aunt who takes care of him.

One night on his way home, he heard a horse galloping hard so he stopped in his tracks. The horse slowed and the man riding it fell to the ground. Our hero immediately ran to help the man. The man was covered in armor but has wounds in the legs and body where the armor was pierced.

The knight was dying and the boy tried to comfort him with water from a well. The knight was so thankful for the water and the care from the boy.  He knew he was dying. He pulled a thick ring from his finger, and handed it to the boy. He told the boy to go to a castle about a hundred miles away and present the ring to the person in charge and tell him that the knighthood was passed to the boy.

Sadly, the knight passed away within hours. The local villagers buried the knight. The boy was grieve stricken during the burial. Months passed before he decided to bring the ring to the castle. He hitched a ride for a few miles with vegetable growers bringing produce to the local market. He walked the rest of the way.

He knocked on the castle door and when a big hunk of a man opened it, he told the story of the knight giving him the ring and the knight dying. To his surprise, the man grabbed the ring, and grabbed him by the throat. He then accused the boy of killing the knight and threw him in the dungeon inside the palace.

For the next few weeks, he lived in the dungeon, given only water, bread and vegetable soup every now and then. The burly man let him out one sunny day, only to put a yoke on him and told him to pull a plow and plow the field.

He was made to plow to field for a few months. He turned thirteen during this time.

The master told him that his aunt was notified of his location and that he is in the castle for punishment for his killing of the knight.

Months passed and daily his work activities increased. He found out that the burly man was in charge of the castle and he has several assistants and servants to help him. He was never mean to other people in the castle but he always harsh to the boy.

Years passed and more tasks were added to his tasks. They made him pull a heavy cart to the local market loaded with fruits to sell in the town market seven miles away.

One day, while pulling cart, a group of boys his age (he is 15 now) started picking a fight with him. Out of frustration with his life, he easily beat two of the boys, and the three ran away.

During this time, he was never bitter. He was just confused and frustrated about his lot in life. He learned to be very patient and obedient.

The next week, on his way to deliver more produce, the same group of boys came again, this time with three more and started beating up on him. This time he got beaten to the ground. Fortunately, one of the castle’s assistant was passing by on a horse and helped him get back to the castle.

This time the burly head of the castle decided it’s time to teach him to defend himself. So for the next few months, in addition to his daily tasks – he had to train in hand to hand fighting, sword fighting, use of spear and shield and other weapons.

He was also told that he needed to brush up on his reading and was assigned dozens of books to read. One of the assistants tutored him in general studies. There were other boys in the castle but they weren’t allowed to talk to each other.

To be continued….


In A Hurry?

In the past few months, I have observed the following:

-A driver in a luxury car speeding down the city street even though he knows that a hundred yards in front of him is a red light. Seconds later all the other slower vehicles caught up to him.

-The same driver races to the next red light. Everyone catches up again. Is there a method to this madness?

-In major cities, people walking twice the speed of a normal walking pace. They are walking as if people in their way don’t matter. Sometimes they are on a cell phone just to accentuate their busy schedules.

-People talking to person A, pauses in mid sentence – calls the attention of a passing colleague and start talking to him. Moments later, she completely forgot what she was talking about with person A. Proof of “haste makes waste”?

-Bicyclists fantasizing they are part of a bike race, goes through a series of red lights infuriating motorists who follow the rules of the road.

-People having paperwork sit in their inboxes for days, even weeks. Then on a Friday afternoon, tells the harried clerks to start working on an “emergency” (which was the documents sitting on his inbox for weeks), so they could save time and money.

In our modern cities, the emphasis is on fast pace. It seems everything is in a fast forward mode. There is no time to waste. We get coffee, skipping breakfast to gain time. Then we eat at fastfood joints for lunch.

Dinner? how about microwave food right out of the freezer?

We have microwaves now which cut down our cooking or heating times yet we look at the timer impatiently wondering why it takes more than a minute to heat something.

It’s a never-ending treadmill in most areas of the cities. People racing to get out of their parking spaces. Then speeding on their way to work. Nerves on the edge, irritation being the norm.

We don’t have to live at a hurried lifestyle. Here’s how:

-Organize your schedule so you don’t do too much in very little time.

-Wake up 10-30 minutes earlier so you have a buffer for things that may come up.

-If going on an early meeting, organize your documents and your briefcase before going to bed.

-Traveling early? Pack a few days in advance so you can triple check your luggage.

-Show up early at work, meetings, appointments (this is our daily routine in the navy) so you are relaxed and ready.

-Study routes – see where you can expect heavy traffic and where unexpected delays may happen.

-Try being deliberate in your actions. It makes life much more enjoyable.

-Stop and smell the roses, or the lavenders, or any other flower you come across. It’s a stress reliever.

-Move to a more relaxed town. If possible, find a residence within minutes of your school or work place.

-Do not live in New York City!    :)


Waste Not, Want Not

Have you heard of the saying “waste not, want not”?

What does it mean?

It means that you will have enough of things, energy or time if you do not waste any.

One of my highly respected peers remarked to me that I value time a lot. Instead of patting myself on the back and giving myself a “Certificate of Time Use Efficiency Award”, my reaction was to think hard if I was really using my time wisely.

Regretfully, the answer was no.

I still have issues of wasting time. The good news is we haven’t watched regular TV for over three weeks now. We watched news once and a few episodes of a taped series about lawyers in a law firm, and that’s it.

We watched several episodes of a foreign language TV series but there were no commercial advertising to slow us down and we fast-forwarded episodes when it got too cheesy or boring so we saved some time there. We only watched during our leisure time too.

However, I have discovered a few smartphone game apps that I really liked. I won’t specify them to prevent you from liking it too and wasting your time. Over the past few years, I had the sense to delete at least three apps because they have been taking a lot of my time. The rest I simply stopped playing after I got the willpower to stop.

I still have a couple now but I’m slowly playing it less.

Now let’s go to energy. I used to multitask or at least consecutask (that’s a word I coined to mean one task after another without a break) daily. My objective is to try to get so many things done in one day. Then repeat the same the next day.

Did it work?

No. I ended with more unfinished task, which wasn’t very satisfying. So these days, I ration my energy and do the important ones or my most hated ones first, then the next priority – and the next one.

Here’s a good tip from my wife: If you receive too many emails per day, check your email twice a day only (once in the morning and once in the afternoon) so you don’t spend all your work time checking and replying to email.

How do we not waste on things? Let’s just call it money because most things cost money.

Before we spend, we should think several times if the item is really needed. Some people have a 30 day rule. If they still want the item in 30 days, they will then buy it.

Track where you spend your money. Write down what you spend on and do it for about three months. From that list, you’ll be able to figure out where you spend too much. Then you can plan your next month’s budget.

Time is irreversible so it’s a must to be used wisely. Energy spent takes time to recover. Money spent is hard to earn. For most of us. The more we save and the less we spend, the better our financial life will be.


Sometimes It Hurts

Is it me or is life unfair sometimes?

Wait, do not click the back button to go to the previous website. Let me explain some things first.

Overall, I’ve had a happy life so far. The sufferings and heartaches seems far and few. Yet while in the middle of the pain it seems that it’s too long and can’t wait for when it’s over. Why does the act of living hurt sometime?

Pain is there to protect us sometimes. If we don’t feel the heat of the hot plate or the stove, we probably would burn our hands and fingers and not notice it. That’s why lepers lose their fingers – their nerves don’t feel pain anymore. So pain serves as an early warning for danger.

One of the good things about hurting – emotionally, physically or otherwise – is that it promotes healing. With healing comes growth. With growth comes wisdom. Easier said that done, right?

But did you notice, as we were going through life – there were so many disappointments and frustrations. It may have been self-induced or it may have happened even if we’re not at fault.

If it was self-induced – we can learn our lesson from it. Some don’t but some rise from their fall a much better person. Sometimes we know that what we are about to enter is the wrong door but we still do it. Then the pain comes. Then we say “I’ve had enough” and change for the better.

But what if it’s a painful experience through no fault of our own? Who do we blame? What questions do we ask? I’m afraid that every living person has their share of it. Do you know that we are created to be able to handle any pain or hardship that we encounter? Don’t believe me? go to Google or and research it.

In my younger days, I can tell you stories after stories of struggles – but then this will turn into a “woe is me” kind of blog. I’m sure you have suffered just as much. In those days, I prayed the hardest every night without fail.

This recalls the first few verses of an inspirational poem entitled “Don’t Quit” that I used to hang in our bedroom. Here it is for your encouragement:

                                       When things go wrong, as they sometimes will,

                                       When the road you’re trudging seems all uphill,

                                       When the funds are low and the debts are high,

                                       And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,

                                      When care is pressing you down a bit-

                                       Rest if you must, but don’t you quit.