Monday, January 31, 2011

What Would the Blogosphere Do?

(First off, let me comment on the giant chasm in time from my last post until this one. You see, I think too much before I write, and so I stop writing. But I need to stop planning and just type. So no more thinking. Jump the chasm. Go.)

When it comes to character and integrity - or more specifically, that moment when you decide whether to do right or wrong - it usually helps if you think about what you would do if someone walked in at that moment. "Do not do what you would undo if caught," I think is how one saying puts it. If you are tempted to steal a little sign off of someone's desk, take a shirt from a roommate's closet, or accept a bribe, the biggest reason that you are even considering these options is that you think no one is watching. And so by removing that part of the equation, voila! suddenly you're not so enthusiastic about doing it.

That was part of the whole idea of the "WWJD" movement: What would Jesus do if He were in my shoes? (or maybe, sandals) Or more explicitly, would I still be doing this if Jesus were standing right beside me? (or insert respected idol or grandparent in there, if you prefer.) It has been and continues to be a powerful thought.

I always take it to another level. What if it got in the newspaper? What if Channel 9 Evening News showed my face as its breaking story? That makes it REALLY easy. No way, José. Don't want to walk down that road.

Yet there's a problem with that scenario: the chances of the news team caring about my ball-point pen heist are negligible. So I've never really had to worry about that.

Except that now, things are different. Maybe I do have to worry about getting my face on the news.

Because now anyone with a cell phone, blog, FaceBook or Twitter account is nearly as powerful as a news team. Her "viewing" audience is anyone else connected to the Internet who might happen upon her post or "Like." (cue Wayne's World clip: "And their friends and their friends...") Then if enough people are Googling and blogging about it, THAT becomes the story....and then yep, the news networks pick it up. You (or I) could become fodder for tomorrow's new funny/stupid/quirky viral thing.

Sure. It's still not likely that any one thing I do wrong will become exposed to the world (though I hope Julian Assange isn't read this...) But knowing that my moral mistake is just a tweet away from the world seeing it might just give me enough pause to make the right decision.

And if that doesn't work, then don't look now but Jesus is standing right behind you.

Friday, August 22, 2008

She was born before World War I

This is a picture of my Nana Mercy, taken at a party for her last October. She's my great great aunt. I got to visit her last Saturday, with my grandma and brothers. (My grandma is her niece.)

She died this afternoon. She was 97.

Born in a small town in Mexico, Nana Mercy, or Mercedes Garcia, was the oldest girl of about 7 brothers and sisters (her sister Juanita and my grandma couldn't figure out exactly how many because at least one had died young). Their mom had died during the last one's birth, so Nana Mercy took care of the younger ones. When her sister Elodia died, Nana Mercy raised her 2 kids - my Grandma and her younger brother, my Tio Monchi. "We were very close to her," grandma says.

I don't remember her that much from when I was little, but my grandma says she remembers her always making tortillas. "And we all liked her beans."

This week the doctor said her heartbeat was getting weaker. She could barely open her eyes even when she was awake. More relatives flew in or stopped to say goodbye.

Finally today the priest came and performed last rites. Then my Tia Pechi, her daughter, was rubbing Nana Mercy's head. She leaned in close to her and said loudly "Go!"... "We're OK with you leaving. You need to rest."

Then two or three minutes later, she let out a great big and final sigh.

My grandma said she watched the mortuary take her away, and she "was very peaceful. She looked like she was asleep."

Te quiero, Nana.

I just bought a bunch of books

Editor's note: Some readers may notice the absence of any blog entries for the past few months. Fear not. This can be explained by the universal law that says a tree that falls in a forest doesn't make a sound if no one is around to hear it. Since you weren't reading those blog entries, it's as though they never were written in the first place. Trippy, huh?

The books a person reads reveal a lot about them. Maybe I'm afraid to reveal anything about myself, because I'm not a regular book reader. Books or not, whatever I do read tends to be nonfiction - from local newspapers, to international newsmagazines, to public radio (could that be considered mental reading?) to blogs on finance, entrepreneurship, or politics. These media I can consume fairly quickly, which suits my preferred timetable for reading. Books on the other hand, require much more attention span and dedication. There's a commitment of sort - "I will read every word on every page until the conclusion looms, and I will not fear it. I will embrace that final sentence, and the index and epilogue that follow."

In fact, I think that's one of the difficulties I've had with books. See, a news article has an end to it, but I get to that end within minutes of starting. There's not enough time to become attached, to form a bond with that article. But a book...well with a book, by the third chapter you're two feet in. You either see it all the way through, or you have to abandon it midway.

Abandonment. That's the problem with people who have all these books lying around unfinished: You want to leave it before it can leave you. Because you know that by the last chapter of the book it's going to say, "I'm done. Goodbye." And it won't be any consolation to hear, "It's me, not you. My binding can only hold so many pages, and I have nothing left to give you." It's heartbreaking to even think about.
But for all those pages you are so eager to get to the end of the book, you suddenly realize too late, as with so many things in life, that it's not the destination, but the journey. Even when you were turning that first page to begin the journey, there was a certain lingering sadness because you knew that the ride would end much too soon.

But despite my unrequited love affair with books, I've recently been pushing my way through one in particular that I won at a silent fund-raising auction earlier in the year. This book grips me. It causes me to want to do something bold and meaningful. Which is exactly the point - a well-written and well-sourced book can move heart and mind, and herein lies its power. I've recently recognized the need for this type of persuasion in my life. So it has increased my thirst for more books of topics that reach into my heart and tug me forward. It's painful, but undeniable.

All of this leads me to a predicament I'm amount to face in 4-14 days (I ordered the books online). When all these books come piling in at once, how am I ever going to choose???

("OK, Bachelorette No. 1.....")

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Worldly Threads

On Globalization:

Do clothes make the

Let me back up a second. I've been following this whole fascination with the "flattened earth" for awhile. You hear the buzz words all the time: Global economics, international studies, traveling abroad - these are all part of our collective vernacular. The ideas have become quite common: Corporations and organizations not only benefit from entering other markets, they fear they cannot survive if they don't spread out quickly and effectively. Many people - students especially - are increasingly fascinated with traveling and learning of other cultures, not only to experience them for pleasure but to understand on a deeper level. Not to mention the edge it can give job applicants.

For perhaps some of these reasons, a goal of mine for 2008 has been to travel to various corners of the world. It's a fitting goal- I'm young and not tied down, and most people who know me are aware of my international focus, I think. Hey, I'm a multi-lingual, cross-cultural guy.

Sort of.

I realized one day* that the clothes I wear are more "international" than I am.

...That I've talked about traveling more than I've actually gone anywhere. I've learned about countries and dreamed about exotic places that I've never seen with my own eyes.

But my clothes have.

I took a quick poll of the tags sewed tightly onto the pieces in my room to see how far they've traveled. Let's start with shirts. (Numbers indicate how many shirts were from that country)

Honduras- 13
Mexico- 8
El Salvador- 6
USA- 6
Haiti- 5
Cambodia- 4
Brazil- 2
Italy- 2
Pakistan- 2
Malaysia- 2
Korea- 2
L.A.- 2
Taiwan- 1
Indonesia- 1
Hong Kong- 1

Sri Lanka- 3
USA- 3
Bangladesh- 3
Guatamela- 2
Baihran- 2
Indonesia- 2
India- 2
Dominican Republic- 2

Boxer Shorts
Philippines- 4
Indonesia- 4
Dominican Republic- 2


So apparently, both Taiwan and Malaysia make shirts and jackets, but not pants or boxers. Honduras makes a whole lotta shirts, but nothing else. Indonesia likes boxer shorts, pants, and shirts, in that order. USA shirts, but half as many pants. China comes in sadly at the end for producing just one jacket. That's unacceptable.

OK, so perhaps my apparel isn't representative of the production capacity of each of these countries. But it does say something: I've got some miles to make up before I'm as well-traveled as the pants I slip on each day.

*October 25, 2007 to be exact

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

What's a target?

I want to share more about my "vision" for this blog, what kinds of entries I plan to write about. Here's the conclusion I've come to: I have a million freaking ideas, and probably a lot of good ones. But what's stopping me is that they're still all just ideas. No, I may not have written anything terrible, but I also haven't converted a single good thought into a published product. And that's the real crime.

My point is that I need to just write. However, that's not to say I don't have some ideas about what I want to write about:

1) Finance
I might tackle questions like "What's going on the in the global markets today?" Or "Should I buy that new pair of shoes?" Or put another way: How financial choices can add or take away value from our lives.

2) Globalization
The world is becoming more connected every day. Case in point: I was Skyped the other day by a lady in China who just wanted to make a friend. That's crazy. In fact, I have a post I've prepared specially for this topic...The topic being Globalization, not Chinese Skypers.

3) Charity
Why do people give? And more importantly, how the heck do we decide who to trust with our time and money? I think the whole idea of giving and philanthropy is going to become increasingly complex and sophisticated in our lifetime.

4) Faith in practice
Good idea, isn't it? It's like when Ghandi was asked what he thought of Western Civilization. Pardon the cynicism. I just hope action holds more persuasion than words someday. (OK, starting with me.)

5) Priorities
How should I spend every waking hour of my life? (or even the sleeping ones.) There are so many choices we have to make every year, or every 3 seconds. Like I'm writing this blog now when there are (at least) a dozen things I could be, even should be, doing. Why is it so important to me? I think this ties in with values and
how those forces drive people to do what they do.

6) Academics
The world of Academics is so cool. Not to be nerdy or trite, but it really is pretty amazing how it can connect so many people across fields and cultures. Education has the power to unite people. Remember that, friend.

7) Music, Family, Relationships
Gosh, I'm just throwing all these together, but they're all kind of the same. They're all things we listen to, things that move and inspire us, things that can really ruin a moment if timed right.

So to summarize, pretty much anything is game. I hope it evolves into an intriguing commentary of life's enigmatic moments, and inspires others to believe they too can write their own blog, about least anything not listed in the 7 bullets above.

Thanks for coming on this journey with me. Buckle up.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

A New Breath, A New Year

It's 2008, everybody. It's a good time to start something new, I suppose. I'm still breathing, and that's a good enough reason as any to do something new.

The inception of this blog started a year ago, and now its implementation is beginning now. We'll be continuing this through 2008. Then in 364 days, we'll see if it's good enough of continuing. I'm looking into the future, and I'd say so.

Sorry there's not more to post today. Soon I'll explain more about the topics, themes, philosophies, inspirations and aspirations of this blog. I'm excited.

Feliz Ano Novo!