Month: November 2014

Thankful to Many!

Fall is one of the best times of the year. Other than Summer, Spring and Winter of course.  Kidding aside, it’s because of the Holidays. My favorite of course is Thanksgiving Day! I think it is the best holiday of the year, but that’s just me…

This Thanksgiving Day, I reflected on quite a few events in my life which made me truly grateful. As you know, I had bypass surgery two years, one month and 21 days ago (but who’s counting?) which gave me a second chapter in my life.

What the doctor told me before the surgery was I was days away from a fatal heart attack. Two cardiologist, one surgeon and at least two nurses insisted that I should get the surgery. I was stubborn because I wanted to go home and relax for the weekend but I finally caved in when my wife started crying.

I’m SO thankful for that life extension.

My wife, son, daughter and grandson are of course one of the many people I’m much thankful for. I also have a future son-in-law and daughter-in-law who are two of the finest people you could have ever met.

I am also thankful to a few other wonderful people I have met who have positively impacted my life.

As I reflected on my past life, I realized that opportunities most often show up unexpectedly. I went to a big metropolitan city when I was seventeen. I was very excited even though I couldn’t find a job for a few months. Then one day, this rich businessman (that my Mom used to work for) told my Mom that if I am looking for a job, he could give me one.

He had me live in his house as additional “security guard” because a few months earlier they had a house invasion and one of their maids died and another was injured. I lived in a small room in his house, commuted to his office and worked as a messenger and janitor. At night I went to attend college classes. The work was hard, and the pay was low but it was a good start.

After a year, he opened a heavy equipment parts business and he transferred me there as inventory clerk, purchasing clerk, shipping clerk, messenger, delivery man and collections specialist. Talk about multi-tasking. But I was happy that I got promoted from being a janitor.

In the meantime I have sent in my application to the U.S. Navy. Three years later, I was called in for a written test and interview. Passed both – so I was asked to come in for another written test, another interview and a medical exam. That was the initial five months before I made a 20 year career in the navy.

In the navy, I had several leaders and shipmates who have been very supportive. Teamwork was a necessity to get our job done. Without them, it would be supremely hard to finish a 20-year career successfully.

Having a supportive wife is a must in a job where family separation is the norm, and my wife was.

I have to remind myself all the time that God has been looking out for me all these past years, in the present and future endeavors.

And for all of the above, I am very thankful to Him.

Happy Thanksgiving Day, dear readers!

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Mr. Do It All

Every now and then, we come across a certain item or thing that is so useful that we can’t help but gush about them.

One of them is vinegar. I could write down a lot of useful things to use vinegar for but I won’t – at least not yet.

That’s because for this post, we are going to talk about hydrogen peroxide.

It is a chemical compound with the formula H202, according to wikipedia.com. In pure form, it is a colorless liquid and slightly more viscous than water, wikepedia continues.

Did you know that concentrated hydrogen peroxide is used as a propellant in rocketry.  However, I am not a rocket scientist so I would like to only discuss the possible daily uses of H202, which I nicknamed Mr. Do It All.

Here’s a few:

-As a natural antiseptic, it can be used to disinfect wounds – small wounds only.

-as toothpaste, when mixed with baking soda. It doesn’t taste as good a the real thing, but it can whiten your pearly whites.

-speaking of teeth, which is inside the mouth – it can be used as an oral rinse. It kills germs that causes bad breath.

Warning: It should not be taken internally. It is for external use only. It can be very bad to your health if you accidentally swallow it while using orally.

-Lighten your hair color. Before you do this, research further because you might turn your hair into a super blond and you become very popular with the opposite sex.

-It takes only 4-6 drops of hydrogen peroxide to relieve your ear infection. It kills bacteria so your ear can recover from its misery.     Whaaat?    You need to drop a few more – you still can’t hear me.

-Disinfect surfaces – like your countertops, tiles, your cutting boards and even dirty glass surfaces. Say goodbye to mold and mildew too!

-Remove soap scum and stains in your bathtub. Spray full strength and wait for an hour.  The tub will be easier to clean.

-Spray to fruits and vegetables, wait a few minutes, then rinse with clean water to remove food contaminants. I usually still scrub my veggies even if they look “clean” already.

-Spray on grocery bags, lunch bags and other food containers. It will clean and disinfect them. Then you won’t have to inhale the “rotting food” smell.

-Remove stains from laundry. Mix equal parts detergent and apply to coffee, wine, blood and sweat stains in clothes to remove them.

Caution: it will bleach dark fabrics so be careful and test it in a very small area first.

There you go, folks. I’m sure you can think of a few more but we’ll just leave it to the above uses. The key to remember is that it is a disinfectant and antiseptic – so it kills germs and bacteria. It is also a mild bleach – so it can whiten both porous and non-porous materials.

It is also very cheap. For you guys that like to talk about being frugal. Oh, was that me? Sorry!

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Simply Speaking

When people ask people what’s the secret of their great relationship, I always hear the advice:  “communicate, communicate!” I have to agree. Initially, we have to communicate in pleasant words what are our thoughts, ideas, expectations, desires, wants or needs. Then the other person responds in turn.

Then they reach a compromise or an agreement. Both the parties are satisfied. They become more attached to each other.

But before we get too far, let’s consider the art of talking. It is necessary that when we talk, we are able to convey our thoughts to our loved ones. Thinking about what we are about say helps a lot. To paraphrase my favorite Book: “Controlling your tongue is better than conquering a city”.

Consider the following conversation which actually happened just last week:

Him: “Do you know what that guy over there did?”  

You:  “What guy”

Him:  “You know, the guy over there?”

You:   “Over where?”

Him:   “Don’t you get it? the guy over there!”

It’s a conversation that make look normal in The Twilight Zone* but not for daily conversation.

To convey our ideas, we need to compose our thoughts and use simple words. Try not to embellish sentences just so we can impress others. No one will be impressed if they can’t understand us.

Here’s a few samples of embellishments:

Waste and Disposal Engineers                     – garbage collectors

Mathematically challenged individuals        –  dull or inattentive students

Serious concern about consequences         –  worried

At this point in time                                           – now

Gorgeous and smart lady                               – my wife

OK, the last one maybe give an impression that I’m trying to get brownie points from my wife. Hmmmmm…

Do you read some of the press releases of politicians? Sometimes they express vague ideas, as in “we feel we should take seriously this serious situation”.  Sometimes, they exhibit indecisiveness while trying to appear decisive, as in “I can only make one guarantee, that tomorrow my guarantee may no longer be valid”.

Isn’t it great when people say “yeah” and “nay” and not beat around the bush?

Word selection is also necessary for clear conversation: Is the word pretentious, or trendy or awkward?  Don’t use it.

It is important to have an expanded vocabulary, but it is even more important that those words are put together in a coherent manner. Sometimes, it is better not to say too much than say things which should have been left unsaid.

One way to improve is to practice conversing with different types of people. Reading books on communication should help in speech composition. Recording your voice while you read is a good technique in improving your delivery. Someone said “It’s not practice that makes perfect, it’s correct practice that makes perfect.

This is part II of our Nice Skills to Have series.

*The Twilight Zone was a sci-fi TV show that ran from 1959 to 1964, and revived from 1985 to 1989

 

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A Galaxy Of Distractions

My theme today is not about the celestial grouping of stars. A galaxy is composed of billions of stars. Our solar system is in the Milky Way galaxy. It’s called “milky” because you cannot distinguish individual stars unless you use a powerful telescope.

Our topic today is not about the billions of galaxies in our known universe.

Our subject today is about our daily distractions. Today, when I drive on any street for even 5 minutes, it’s almost impossible not to see anyone driving while texting or talking on their cellphones. About 15 years ago, this is virtually nonexistent.

In 1999, I went to an affluent city in Far East Asia and got mesmerized by the overwhelming presence of electronic billboards. I thought it would be hard to drive there at night with so many moving bright lights around.

Have you ever stopped in a red light with a car next to you vibrating a barrage of shamanic thumping which annoys everyone except the driver of the car?

Then there’s the ubiquitous cell phone. Now the manufacturers are marketing that you should have two cell phones: one for personal use and one for work. As if having one isn’t distracting enough.

On the weekends, there’s football. On the weekdays plus weekends, professional basketball games. Sandwiched in between are anything between tennis, bowling, half marathons.  All are on TV.

Cable TV has a few hundred channels. What makes me wonder is that there’s really nothing worth watching at any given time except in one or two channels. Searching for the right channel to watch takes a lot of time.

Then there are movies, shows, etc. to watch on DVD, blue-ray and local TV. There are thousands of games in smartphones alone. Then there are games that you can only play on game devices costing at least $400.

What about the dozens (hundreds) of e-mail you receive every day? Should we stop what we’re doing now so we can attend to it?

Then there’s social media. It’s ever increasing in brand. It’s negative attributes are rapidly overtaking the positive. It’s downgrading productivity and presenting a false reality for some people.

The other day, my wife and I were counting the number of lanes in a freeway. There were 10 southbound lanes. There’s another 10 on the other side of the middle divider. Hundreds of cars whizzing by, most of them in a hurry. I wonder how many were texting?

Yes, our society is the most distracted society in world history.

How should we deal with distractions?

Individually, we must prioritize our daily activities. We don’t have to have headphones all the time (especially while working). We don’t have to answer every email within 30 seconds of arrival. We don’t have to spend endless hours watching TV every day either.

We can cut cable TV. There are other ways to get streaming video if you must watch. Playing sports is way better than watching sports becomes it promotes fitness.

Avoiding texting while driving may save a life. It could be your own.

Time we spend now will never come back. We have to make use of it properly. Learn something useful. Develop another skill. Read a book. Find a homeless person to help. Rest or take a nap. Talk to your loved ones.

We can be very productive if we can delete distractions.

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