Sunday, May 31, 2009
Owning a dog or a cat is a wonderful experience. But along with the great fun a pet can bring also comes responsibility. It's much more difficult to decide on a Friday that you're leaving town for the weekend if you have a living creature that relies on you for survival. Even if our apartment complex allowed us to own pets, I think it would be irresponsible to get a cat or dog knowing we'll have to place that responsibility on someone else in two years when we leave the country. I know I can't have a pet, but that doesn't make my desire any less powerful. What do you do when you want something you can't have? My wife seems to live vicariously through pet owners who post videos on Youtube and by petting every dog she ever sees. I've been trying to let go of my desire, but letting go is often a very difficult task indeed.
Saturday, May 30, 2009
We trekked through long periods of quiet interrupted occasionally by the seven other waterfalls at various spots along the river. Before today, I thought that nature could be either quiet & peaceful or loud & destructive. But today I realized that peaceful doesn't have to mean quiet. Today was a day filled with beauty, nature, good food and great waterfalls.
Friday, May 29, 2009
I'm a strong advocate of staying in touch with your inner child, but it's also appropriate to approach some situations differently than you would have as a kid. It's ok to avoid getting your nice shoes muddy, but I do think we should all play in the mud occasionally. Not as an attempt to recreate the fun we had as kids, but as a chance to remember our old selves. Playing in the mud doesn't feel the same as an adult. As a child dancing in the mud felt like I was exploring the world and having fun. But as an adult I felt like I was exploring my past and reaching out for a sentimental connection with my childhood. Playing in the mud hasn't lost meaning, it has merely changed meaning.
Thursday, May 28, 2009
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
She seems to have been captivated in particular by the adventures of a Japanese cat named Maru. My wife's love of life's most simple pleasures, like the silliness of cats, assures me that our life will never be boring. I adore my wife's childlike joy as she watches other people's cats. The world is FULL of beauty if we just look around us, especially at cats. I've attached a link to a video of Maru in case you want to join my wife in her fun.
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Monday, May 25, 2009
Sunday, May 24, 2009
Saturday, May 23, 2009
While aboard a Navy aircraft carrier which was much larger than I had expected, my wife felt like she was in a different world. The life of a Navy sailor is very different than the life we lead. Touring the navy ship felt like that brief moment when you forget yourself while reading a book or watching a movie and feel as if you're an elf or superhero in a strange world. St. Augustine believed that, "the world is a book, and those who do not travel, read only a page."
I agree with him, but I also believe there are many ways to travel. There is more to travel than physically exploring new places and seeing new sights. We can briefly travel to a new culture by eating its food. Or we can travel to space with a good sci-fi movie like Star Trek. Especially in this economy, we might not all be able to travel to foreign lands, but there are still ways to explore new places and people without leaving your city. This week I was lucky and the Navy came to me, giving me an opportunity to live just a moment as a sailor and explore the seven seas.
Friday, May 22, 2009
I ate over eight courses (I lost count after the duck) of authentic, non-westernized Chinese cuisine. It seems that cashew chicken, chop suey and fortune cookies are all American inventions rather than dishes imported from China. The experience was entirely enjoyable, although not completely delicious to my untrained palate.
I consumed steak, ham, duck, squid, sea cucumber, jellyfish, lobster, fried mayonnaise shrimp, and a few things I couldn't make out. Some of them were genuinely delicious and all of them were certainly interesting. I had an amazing evening exploring new dishes, dancing and most importantly watching two very diverse cultures unite in a glorious festival of love and commitment. I love weddings and this was definitely a great one.
Thursday, May 21, 2009
Surprise trophies given out by a secret government organization, now that's a brilliant idea. Life is fun and fun should be rewarded. We waste so much government money, why can't some of it be spent to establish a "talent recognition czar"? Everybody's talented and passionate about something, and the "ATR" or Agency for Talent Recognition could help encourage others to follow their dreams. Nothing says, "You can do what you want and be happy" like a trophy on the wall. I urge you to write your congressman in support of the ATR today.
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
But as I sat there watching the senators listen half-heartedly while checking their facebook pages, I began to wonder. Will democracy continue to evolve? I think that this generation's technological advances should change how our country is run. Everything else has been transformed by our ability to communicate around the world faster than we can think, so why not the foundations of Democracy? I'm not just talking about changing the outdated rules that allow a presidential candidate who received the majority of votes to be declared the loser, like some sort of bizzaro election.
I wonder, will there ever be a day when there are no congressmen, and each bill is voted on by every American from their living room? That would require us all to be well informed and educated, so that day may be far away. But perhaps the day when Senators are seen as interpreters isn't too far away. Imagine a world where our senators break down each bill into basic language and post them online with a list of pros and cons, or thinking points. And then his or her constituents advise their senator how to vote through an online poll. It seems to me like this would distribute the government's power even further among the people and fight corruption. It's a lot harder to bribe millions of people, asking them to listen to special interests. Who knows how technology will continue to change our world, but hopefully it will shed more light on how our government is run.
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
I think that is what draws me to places like Europe and Asia. They have a strong, uninterrupted connection with the past. Citizens of the old world stand on the same dirt their ancestors plowed 8,000 years ago. They encounter ancient relics of great civilizations that used the same land and gave birth to their grandfathers. There, history runs deep. I can't wait to explore those places for myself.
Monday, May 18, 2009
I had no idea how to use my washrag properly, so I decided to carry it with me in my pocket searching for inspiration. I've found that if you start looking for something, you will usually find it, although it might not be in the way you expected. I never did find a way to use the washrag directly, but keeping it in my pocket made me much more aware of those seeking help. Constantly searching for ways to help others using a washrag quickly became just searching for ways to help others. Ultimately the washrag helped me become a more thoughtful person, constantly reminding me of my search. I've joined two different charity groups since receiving that washrag, and I feel more productive and happier. But this doesn't mean I'll stop looking. The search for others in need is a great adventure and has opened me up to many possibilities and much growth.
Sunday, May 17, 2009
I think the Statue, a modern take on the Roman Goddess Libertas, is so moving because it connects us to the past in the same moment that it implores future action. It's not often that our past, present, and future converge in a single moment, but when they do it's a moment you'll never forget.
Saturday, May 16, 2009
Friday, May 15, 2009
But what do you do when these goals conflict? If creating change in the world means sacrificing your happiness or pursuing happiness means maintaining a, questionable at best, status-quo? Spock would say that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few or one. So we should sacrifice our own personal happiness for the greater good. And he is right, but we're not all Vulcans, and we can't ALWAYS put the good of the many ahead of our own personal needs and comfort. I can't put the world ahead of me all the time without going crazy or burning out. I admire Mother Teresa but I can't be her, at least not yet. Yet I still try to analyze every action and decision I make to see if i'm meeting both goals. And if I have to decide between personal happiness and world betterment, then I try to make sure the overall balance swings toward the greater good of the world. If I can do that, in the end it makes me happy and so ultimately successful.
Thursday, May 14, 2009
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
What gives your life meaning and fulfillment? My measurements of success aren't strongly tied to my career. Not to say I haven't loved my jobs, with one exception, I've LOVED every one of them. It does feel good to work hard at something I enjoy and accomplish goals. But my job is not a goal in itself, it is a means to an end. My most important concerns are, am I happy and have I made a difference? If I can answer yes to these two questions before bed at night, then I count my day as a successful one. If my job can help me with those goals, then it is a good job, if it cannot then it's time to find a new career.How do you see your job? Is it your one true passion, a way to pay the bills, or a means with which you accomplish happiness? And what do you do to feel successful?
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
Is writing a blog work or leisure? Is it possible to create art, whether it's movies or pictures or novels, for leisure? Or is all creation an act of work? I think leisure becomes less necessary as work becomes more fulfilling and fun. So maybe it's alright that the line between work and play is blurring. Has the scourge of cell phones and erosion of private moments left us with some benefits after all? Has the age of information made it easier to follow the advice of Harvey Mackay and "find something you love to do and you'll never have to work a day in your life"? Or is this just my own peculiar perception?
Monday, May 11, 2009
Sunday, May 10, 2009
Saturday, May 9, 2009
Rubik's Cubes are strange cultural icons. Many see them as tests of IQ or measuring sticks of genius. Like most puzzles they do require logic and a willingness to concentrate. But I see them less as a test of IQ and more as personality test. Do you get frustrated and give up? Do you turn to the internet for help? It seems my wife cares little for solving the cube but she does enjoy the attempt. She seems uninterested in help, I'm not sure if this is because she is stubborn or because she is only interested in a journey of self discovery. My dad and sister on the other hand have turned it into a competition, battling to solve it the fastest. As for me, solving a Rubik's cube was something I wanted to experience and explore. I often try to learn as much as I can from others, rather than re-invent the wheel, so I learned from my father. It's fun and relaxing and leaves me with a sense of accomplishment, and I'll probably continue to practice because every time is a little different. I think puzzles are good for the mind and they might just help you learn a new approach to life.
Friday, May 8, 2009
But the true soul of New Orleans is in its music and food. In a world where every town in every country has a McDonald's and a Starbucks, and grandma's secret recipes can be downloaded over the internet, it is increasingly rare to discover delicious dishes that haven't been mass produced and exported to the entire world. But the Cajuns of Louisiana have held on to two culinary masterpieces available to locals only: beignets and crawfish. I love them both passionately.Everywhere you go in New Orleans, there are musicians playing on the streets. Musicans of all sorts flood the air with the distintive soul of New Orleans. But musicians are not the only locals on almost every street corner. New Orleans is also home to an aggressive service sector. Tourists flood its streets and many of its locals have also taken to the streets looking to provide services and help, whether they're wanted or not. Never before have I walked into so many fake tourist info booths and rejected so many city tours.New Orleans offers a chance to interact with locals unlike anywhere else. It is not for those who have a weak fortitude or are easily persuaded, as the food, the music and the service sector is strong, constant, and loud. But it is a beautiful and unique city and in my opinion worth the exhaustion and heat.
Thursday, May 7, 2009
Mr. Abrams has given hardcore fans everything they could ask for in a Star Trek movie, yet done so in such an accessible manner that even someone who's never heard of Klingons can enjoy this movie. If I were a polygamist, this movie would be my second wife. An example of perfect pacing, the action is non-stop, the laughs are non-stop, and the sense of adventure and joy is so concentrated that it explodes from the screen to fill the audience with wonder. You will fall in love with Captain Kirk and his unfailing belief that all problems can be solved by man. Spock will help remind you how lucky we are to feel life's kaleidoscope of emotions, and Scotty will make you laugh till the movie ends. I walked away from the theater with the sincere knowledge that our future is just as bright and exciting as the universe of Star Trek. And I must do my part to make that reality happen, lest I disappoint the great James Tiberius Kirk. This movie will inspire you to approach life more Boldly, please go see it.
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
Monday, May 4, 2009
Beauty, love, and fascination are ultimately beyond logic and understanding. That doesn't mean we shouldn't examine our loves and fascinations. But more important than examining your loves, is pursuing your loves. Despite causing me many headaches and being virtually useless, I have pursued Japanese for several years and I'm now sharing that passion with my wife. That is why most of our house is now labeled in Japanese. There is nothing greater than pursuing your love, and it will pay off. In my case, I'll be living in Japan in a few years and speaking the language will make many things much easier. But even if I were never to go to Japan, the pursuit alone has brought me enough joy.
Sunday, May 3, 2009
I'm no twitter user, but if I ever become one I think I'll have all my twitter updates delivered via fortune cookie. Fortune cookies are gonna be the new text messages. Everybody gets a decent crazy idea on occasion and I think most of us should act on them more often. It would make the world a more interesting and less frightening place. The more people that put their wacky ideas out there, the less silly our own ideas seem. It's good to be silly. I've got a tax return coming and I'm considering becoming a venture capitalist. So if you've got a good silly idea that needs funding, leave me a comment and let me know.
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