A Fresh Start

It’s been a few days now after the national election – and we have a new President. Mixed emotions are all over the news – from joy to shock and anything in between and beyond. That’s the beauty of a democratic society – we all agree to disagree in our choices but in the end the guy we elected will run the show and we either love or despise him or her for the next four years. Then it’s time to pick another one hoping our candidates will be elected.

When I first arrived in the U.S. I was happy that the President was Reagan. He started the process to build a 600-ship navy.  That means I’ll have plenty of choices for duty stations.  I think Reagan was a good president especially because I compared him to the President of the country that I just left. We’ll call him President X for reference. He was proven to be corrupt and gathered so much wealth even though his official pay was less than my pay while in boot camp.

I was super happy to have left my old country because the President X’s government was corrupt and there’s no checks and balances. If you’re poor you can be a victim anytime. If you’re rich and you’re not in their inner circle, they take away your possessions. Armed military ran the show and there’s no freedom for regular folks.

Before I came to the U.S. I already had this intense desire to live here someday (just like millions of people around the world). I read up about a thousand magazines/books/publications about the U.S., excelled in my U.S. History and U.S. Government classes, and (you’ll love this one) I watched only U.S. made movies for years just before my feet touched the LAX tarmac.

When I arrived, I felt like I was part of the culture already. Of course, since English was not my first language – I had to think what I have to say first in my old language, do a quick translation in my head and then talk. After a few years, it’s the other way around.

Now back to this election – I have an unwritten rule of not saying who I voted for so I won’t. To me it is a fresh start again. I personally prefer that every four years, we have a new President, as well as members of congress, mayors, etc. – I think it’s more dynamic that way and better for the nation.

In my humble opinion, the U.S. government is the best government in this flawed world. Is it perfect? No!  Is it the best form of government? No!  Is it less corrupt than most government? Probably. However, the U.S. will not be the most powerful nation on earth if its government is just average.

The local and national news are full of people with different reactions to the newly elected officials, especially the President.  I don’t control other people’s opinion but I had to be accountable for my action. In short, what should I do?   Let’s refer to the Bible’s teaching on how to deal with leaders:  Treat them with proper respect and pray for them. I would do that regardless of any country I’m in because that’s what my Maker wants me to do.

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The Hardest Goals

Some people have very lofty goals (climb mount Everest or be the first to go to Mars. Others have really daring ones (riding fences on a bicycles or paddle solo across the Pacific ocean). Then there’s the ultimates: climb 10 of highest mountain ranges in the world do 50 marathons in 50 days. You may read about those feats later in duckduckgo.com (a search engine).

I personally don’t want to go the Mt Everest (I hate being cold) or go on even a single marathon (not really good for the heart as others think), or paddle across an ocean solo (despite being an introvert, I like to hang out with the right people).

I’ve had some good goals in the past that I’ve achieved, such as quitting smoking and riding 100 kilometers in the bicycle in one ride, among others. I’ve been complacent recently hoping to ride out the rest of my life just cruising along. But then one day I realized that it is the first day of the rest of my life, and I need to put some more victories along the way. I wrote some goals that are, in essence hard enough for me.

They’re simple at first glance, but like I said always – ‘do not compare yourself to anyone’ (nobody has heard me say it – just me). If we keep comparing ourselves to others, we’ll all lose hope (or feel very superior) – but our challenges are walk in the park for others and our cakewalks are insurmountable hardships to other individuals. So I’ll keep to my goals:

* Wake up EARLY (5:00 am) every morning again!

* Improve my diet with veggies, fruits, fish and fowl.  Translation: Red meat’s out!

* Exercise regularly (three times a week).

This of course coincided with my recent visit to my cardiologist. I was told to fix my diet and exercise regularly. Except for the wake up early goal which I’ve been planning to do for years.

Was my diet bad? I mean the food I like to eat are the tastiest, so we all know it’s not healthy if eaten everyday. After all, who craves for broccoli?

Did I accomplish it?  Since my wife and I can’t find time to work out in our busy work life and suddenly overwhelming personal lives, we decided to join a gym. It was rather inexpensive – $10 a month for each of us.

In the morning we wake up at 5:30am to go hit the treadmill or the spinning stationary bike.

So far we averaged just over 3 days a week of 20+ minutes of exercise. Then I really watched my food. Now the really delectable food are eaten only a couple of times a week instead of maybe 15 times a week.

These are hard goals – especially because it has to be done consistently, and we had done it so far!

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The Mirror

The other day I was watching a movie that features a mirror on the wall that talks back to one of the characters.  I think you all know what that movie is about and as you know, my unwritten rule is, don’t name names. It got me thinking about a different type of mirror (the mirror in the movie turned out to be evil).

In the morning after our showers, we face the mirror in our homes. This is to make sure that we present our very best appearance at our work places, meetings, playing field, gym, breakfast places – just to name a few. We want to be appealing to the public so we present an excellent public image.

I wish we would do the same degree of preparation of our physical appearance to our moral compass. Character is more important than our public image. Character is doing the right thing even when no one is present.

I usually read the comments section in the major news websites. There are some news items that bring about the worst in people. For every 2-3 people that write a clearly stated, logical comment, there’s dozens of comments with the intention to hurt someone else’s feelings – so the commenter can feel good about themselves. Imagine a world without the correct mirror (standard)- most people would want to rule the world according to their own rules. I wouldn’t want to live in that kind of world.

I grew up with plenty of reprimands and I’m sure you guys have the same experience. I was a youth who tried to deviate and do bad things and had to be corrected to learn accountability. I now appreciate the discipline given to me while I was young, because it got me ready for the military and the life after the military.

While in the navy I seldom got reprimanded. It’s not because I was great but because we were all told in detail in advance what was expected of us. The rules and regulations were the mirror (or the standard). As long as we did what we’re expected to do – life is smooth. I knew that if I challenge the rules (for example: late for five minutes), the consequence is immediate.

Our life mirror should be a good point of reference. It should be rock steady, so it doesn’t change with the trends and traditions of society. It should not be affected by the majority rule (imagine if you’re in a life boat with four cannibals and they’re voting whether they should eat you – majority rules, right?). It should be flexible enough to account for common sense approach to life (should I help someone who needs help now even though I’m late for church?). But it shouldn’t be bendable to adapt it to our own personal agendas.

What’s that mirror? I would leave this unanswered. I would to request your participation on this post. If you really look for it, you’ll find it too. That would be your best research ever.

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Rightsizing 2016

In the previous post, I mentioned about my attempt to multi-task. I didn’t mention that it didn’t apply only to my plan to get extra income but also in my hobbies and favorite forms of exercise.

I decided to simplify without being too minimalistic.

Want a quick story? I remember buying my first truck. I told the salesman I want it with manual shifting, no radio, and no power windows, no power steering and just the most basic model. The salesman retorted: “Would you like me to include four wheels?”

That truck was able to serve 90% of my needs (mostly commuting). However, it’s kinda scary on the freeway because it refuses to go past 60 miles per hour. In emergency braking, the rear  wheels swerved from side to side making it almost uncontrollable. That purchase was a good example of being too minimalistic.

My plan for the rest of 2016:

First, let me enumerate two accomplishments:

We eliminated distractions:  the daily TV news and watching TV sports. Early this year I was still in the “watching news at 10PM mode”. But the news tend to give me negative vibes just before bedtime. Same with sports – the last sporting event that I didn’t stop watching was the Tour de France (since 1989). This year I didn’t watch it. Hold the applause, please! How did we do it? We cut cable. You should too!

Games on smartphones:  Yes, I wasted many hours on games on smartphones which I could have used to rest or sleep. Finally, I was able to get rid of playing them in the last few months. I still play but only for no longer than five minutes and only a few times a week. Major savings in time!

Now it’s time to tackle a few more concerns:

Hobby:  I’m taking on too many interest (bicycling, woodworking, manual photography, electric bicycles, electric skateboards, acrylic and water color painting) and it’s dividing my leisure time. I’m sticking to bicycling – but getting rid of two bicycles. (Don’t worry – I may get an electric bike next year). I’m still waiting for the e-bike technology to mature.

See, there’s the problem. I’m eliminating bicycles but wanted to add an e-bike. I’m also super interested in an electric skateboard. Would I use it? Probably! Would I have time to use it? Prolly not! So there you are folks, final decision is only one bicycle.  Problem is which one stays?

Equipment: I’m sticking to kettle bells for weight training. I was going to buy a barbell set and build myself a pull up bar but for now, I’ll stick to one set of equipment.  Or we can join a gym and not worry about storing any equipment.

Vehicles:  We have two SUVs (one with good gas mileage and one with great gas mileage). However, one of them is almost 8 years old and another is having issues with California emission standards. One has to go – to be replaced by a small hatchback that even sips less fuel.

Extra Income Projects:  I started with four (ebay, amazon, affiliate marketing, and this blog). I’m sticking to one: affiliate marketing. I now know that I need to focus on it until it starts rolling in the income. The rest will be shelved indefinitely. If it clashes with my day job – then it will be shelved too! The right priorities make the world go round!

There it is, dear readers! I have opened my heart for all the world to see! Is it doable? Of course!   There’s only about 14 weeks left in the year so this plan to rightsize is easy to accomplish.

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Single Tasking

About three years ago, I decided to get extra income from the internet. I did eBay and was mildly successful at it although I mainly sold all the “junk” that others considered as “good find”. I was going to start selling at Amazon too, but then I’m getting ahead of myself here.

I did a grand plan to start on four projects: I wanted to sell at amazon.com, at the same time creating a new website that will earn money from ads and affiliate marketing, as well as continuing this blog. In order to do that I concluded that I had to properly manage my time. I got a yellow pad and wrote down my schedule.

I was still recovering from my heart bypass surgery back then. So I have plenty of available time.  My daily routine is to walk 15-20 minutes twice a day for exercise, eat healthy food and I’m good to go for the day. I decided I needed about 8-9 working hours for my grand plan. First two hours dedicated to researching about amazon.com sales. Two hours for affiliate marketing. Two hours for research on improving websites, and the final two hours for this blog.

Little progress happened a few months later, I was still researching what type of website I would need for affiliate marketing. I could not decide on a topic that’s interesting for others, which at the same time is  also interesting for me. As far as Amazon, I felt I need more research because amazon.com is strict on good customer service. I was good at that in eBay (ahem) but I think amazon.com is a step higher.  This blog continued but I was unable to increase my blog output.

While working those projects, I was also honing my skill in photography using a DSLR camera.  I also decided that woodworking is for me so I started researching basic tools I would need to work on wood. I decided to get quality tools so I don’t have to buy several of the same tool. I also needed to learn which type of wood I would like to use for my projects.

A few more months and I noticed almost nothing is getting accomplished. Even this blog is not updated as much as I would like to. I wanted at least 5-10 posts per month but sometimes I just end up with four.

What’s a guy to do?

I engaged in what is widely-known and highly popular word known as “multi-tasking”. It’s very popular in the white collar workplace. With the arrival of smartphones, tablets and high powered laptops – our employers are able to squeeze every single minute of productivity. Employees loved it too because they can work any time, such as while driving a car, mowing the lawn and watching TV, and (you’ll love this one): while eating dinner with friends or family.

But based on my personal experience above – it really doesn’t work. Well, maybe for HAL (the computer in 2001: A Space Odyssey) it might work – but look at what happened to HAL. Ha Ha!

Of course, there are a few people I know that’s able to do it but I won’t even mention their names as they might buy me presents.

It took another year before I realize that I’m taking on too many projects at the same time. This year known as 2016 is especially hectic for me. A family emergency overseas, moving to a new residence and getting rid of the an old one, then another family medical emergency which lasted weeks. Life was getting too complicated. That’s when I decided I better do some down sizing or drawing down.

That would be discussed in my next post.

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Ghost Reality

In the past, I was fearful about things supernatural – thanks to people emphasizing it in everyday conversation. One of the most popular are vampires, and I’m sure you’ve heard of them. I was afraid of them growing up, along with a plethora of mythical creatures which I won’t repeat here to avoid infusing your mind with negative thoughts.

Watching movies and television shows also exposed me to more imaginary creatures and events. In the back of my mind, these are mythical creatures but when darkness comes, it doesn’t help but make me afraid anyway. In my younger days when I get too fearful I carry a thick stick or a knife to defend from attacks of the members of the spiritual realm. I know that a material weapon is useless against the dark spiritual forces but it gave me a little confidence.

Have you been in places where you could feel the presence of unseen creatures but they’re not visible at all? No outward physical manifestations but you know something unknown is inside the room? I experienced them a few times.  One time it was in a large church in Europe and I could feel the negative spiritual vibes inside the church. Did I spook you yet?

Have you met someone who would swear that they actually saw someone or heard someone that died? I have met a few people who thought that their dead loved ones are trying to communicate with them. From their stories, it appeared as if the spiritual beings know about some details of their lives which convinced them that it was really their dead relatives. Do you think it really happened?

It’s not until decades later that i found out that those creatures are not really what we think them to be. In fact they can be categorized only to one type of created beings. Not convinced? I urge you to research online. For starters, you can visit www.ghosttruth.com.

These days, dark rooms or areas are no longer fearful to me. There’s always the danger of bumping into an obstacle in the dark, of course but that’s really a minor thing. Nothing to be afraid of because I know I am protected by our Maker.  It’s really hard to explain in just 400 words because it took much hours of study. In my case,I just stumbled into it one day while researching some items. I researched further and found out the truth.

Check it out and you’ll be amazed!

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Tribulations

This year was especially trying for me and my wife. First, my wife and I got sick at the same time. We were both out with the flu. It never happened before that we got sick at the same time. Usually one is available to take care of the other. One midmorning, I managed to get up from my weak, nauseous condition and looked at my sleeping wife in a separate room and thought “what’s gonna happen now, how are we to take care of each other?”

We survived that one. Then the following months our workload doubled because of 2015 reports. Then we had to sell our home overseas which presented some really unique challenges. There was no blueprint and no clear path to follow. We did the negotiation mostly by email and phone calls.

At the same time, we mapped out the process for moving to a new residence while we prepared another comprehensive report for the first Quarter of 2016. We moved into the new residence without a major hitch. But then we had to go overseas to complete the home sale process. It was a complicated process because the banking procedures were archaic.

We got back home, and a family member needed to go to the hospital.

In any medical emergency (as I experienced in my 2012 surgery, all the issues of life (tasks to be done, bills to pay, buying or selling a major thing, possible investments, etc. etc.) fade to the background like they never exist.  The focus switches to the medical issue. Everyone’s focus suddenly becomes: “How do we fix this?”

In all of the above, the common denominator is prayer. My wife and I don’t have the answers so we always prayed. I prayed harder and longer on my knees. Sometimes we went on mini-fasts. I even asked several groups and individuals to pray for this recent medical problem. The Faithful people asked a group or other individuals to pray. The more serious the problem, the more people were asked to pray.

Does thing turn out for the better? It always does. Sometimes I can’t believe how the things get resolved, but it does. Life has many trials, but they’re only temporary.

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