Eye of the Optimist-Big birthday

Posted on December 10, 2016 at 8:21 PM Comments comments (5)
It is the eve of my birthday, three years since I started this positive thinking blog project. I have come a long way and things are right on track. I am working on two of my five-year goals: moving back to Canada and establishing myself in the publishing field, particularly as a pro writer.

I have been experiencing periods of nervousness, anxiety, sadness, annoyance, peace and exuberance about this time of change. I have long since come to terms with aging through the middle years, and this method of positive thinking reflection and planning has certainly helped a lot. As I mentioned in a recent blog entry, it is not just a momentous time right now because of the birthday; I am organizing a big intercontinental move and last-ditch career change. The pending move is the more precise reason as to why it is an emotional time for me now.

I have called people together this weekend to celebrate. I had a wonderful conversation with a colleague over beers last night. I am due to join a family for dinner tonight. My brother has contacted me to arrange a phone call on the big day, tomorrow morning. Also, I have already prepared my office for the noon-hour drop-in, cake-sharing activity. Finally, several people have confirmed they will go out to dinner with me tomorrow.

Most of these friends and associates are not aware it is also a farewell occasion because I have not yet given formal notice to my employer. I am stalling to make sure the process of leaving goes in my favour, with full pay due. A colleague has put in a notice, but I am not sure how the arrangements for her leaving are going. On the other hand, I have learned that my employer has posted job ads for positions in our department, so I am assured that they already have a hiring process in place and my late notice should therefore not inconvenience or upset them.

The arrangements to move are proceeding, step by step. I just submitted yet another job application; this one is for online tutoring. It will be a good bridging job as I resettle in Canada and find something more solid and appropriate. I have mainly been putting out feelers for writing and editing positions based in Canada, though. I have also initiated online business in writing and editing but setting up service order pages on two websites. Finally, I have put up the pet birds for adoption and drawn out a list of my household and office possessions for sale.

The process is a little tiring because of the effort and the emotional effects of it.
I get through some tasks related to my move and future income-generating activities, and take a break to find I feel like taking a nap. There is not always the chance for it, because I have been marking student work, leading make-up classes,fielding communications about my offers to sell or give away stuff, and doing all the above-mentioned organizing tasks. I had planned to rest all day today and avoid socializing, but the family who cannot see me any other time requested the dinner engagement tonight, so I must go. Hopefully, I'll nap this afternoon, once I finish the birdcage-washing and housekeeping routine this morning, and then step out for a jog.

Eye of the Optimist-Parting ways

Posted on December 7, 2016 at 6:03 AM Comments comments (1)
I am well into a life transition. I am packing some things and discarding others. I am closing up my life here in Korea in increments, according to a calendar. 

As I have taught my students, life transitions are processes with their typical stages of emotions. It can be a roller coaster ride. As the end of my present contract has been getting nearer and nearer, the more often I go through ups and downs: fear, anxiety, butterflies, joy, excitement and grief. Since I have been planning my escape for over a year, I have already come to terms with the fact of separation and the anticipation  and perils of change. I have been experiencing waves of loss, sadness, anger, spite, wistfulness, and jubilance. It seems to happen in cycles of excitement and happiness followed by fear and sadness. The point at which I said "Yes" to the winter house-sitting gig brought home the reality of saying good-bye to this life. I procrastinated at booking my flight for several weeks, but was forced to go through with the booking so as to satisfy my host abroad and coordinate things with her. I knew that buying the ticket would initiate a process of relocation, and it was therefore a dramatic moment.

The calendar of my planning hinges on two dates: my December pay day, which is Christmas, and the date on which my departing flight for Vancouver is booked. I feel it will be safe to put in my notice and announce it after Christmas. To give notice too soon might result in an premature closing of my employee file and cost me a final month or two of salary, even though the expiration of my contract is dated February 28, 2017, January is normally time for winter work, and February for vacation travel. The employer likes to be told 4 months in advance, but they have been known to pay out two months later and deny severance pay and return airfare when they have gotten such an early notice. We have learned to delay giving notice until about two months before the end of the contract so as to get our due.

I suppose many are not expecting my decision. They just ask what I'm doing this winter. I have therefore merely told the curious that I intend to fly back to Vancouver mid-January because a friend wants me to house-and pet-sit at that time, which is the truth. I just don't inform them that I do not intend to return. When loving students say they will look me up next semester, I say something like, "Good and have a good winter break." Well, I know it is not a promise and the reality is that only occasionally does any student look me up the following semester, and only occasionally do students manage to enroll in one of my classes for the consecutive time because of conflicting schedules and program restraints. I don't feel bad about being discreet. They're young; though they may retain some memory of their teachers, they move on quickly and the teacher is soon out of mind. I prefer to think that anyway, and I prefer to be businesslike about it all. I do not want big farewells, anyway. I would rather be discreet and avoid the drama. I can get way to emotional, and have been known to start sobbing at times, which probably comes across as exaggerated or inappropriate, but I cannot help it. I just start gushing tears. 

Not wishing my employer to learn of my decision to leave too soon, I am being discreet about giving up the possessions I don't wish to cart off to Canada, which is inhibiting. I have as yet refrained from posting a list of things I wish to sell or give away, and have instead chosen, for the time being, to pick away at my belongings and carry away small amounts of items in innocuous looking shopping bags to the charitable collection bins or garbage bins, or pass along the odd item to a friend or neighbour. I have invited colleagues and members of social network groups to take or buy a few odd items, explaining that I am just housekeeping and getting rid of things that I no longer use. It is true that the first items I parted ways with were things that had been lying around unused for some time, and responders were hot to grab free offers such as a bike, a folding table, Korean language study materials and hand weights. The priced items are still with me; everyone tries to hold out to get freebies, I guess. It is amazing the amount of communication it can take to coordinate a simple pick-up. There is only so much labour I am willing to do to unload some item without payment, so I have gotten impatient with the procrastinators. I can hold out, too; there is time. I'll announce open houses at my apartment and my office between Dec. 25 and Jan. 1, when I hope to dispense with the bulk of the stuff up for grabs, and I hope to get some cash in exchange for it.

I have made inquiries to airline cargo services and shipping agents. The airlines charge too much and the agents deal with container-sized shipments. As I am only thinking of including a couple of suitcases and a few boxes in a shipment, my order is too small. Unfortunate, because I might be able to have my TV and printer moved by that means. However, I am in university paid and furnished housing, so I only have small articles. I will have to give up the TV and the printer, and make do by using the government postal service in order to keep a minimum quantity of my stuff. I have already sent off to shoe-boxes with documents and odd articles like sewing notions and stationery stuff, and a cost of almost $40. I have an extra piece of luggage that would cost $200 to check in on the day of the flight, so I am thinking of doing without it and instead filling one largish box with mostly mixed clothing and linens to be delivered as parcel post, and risking the extra weight baggage fee by trying to stuff all remaining excess materials into the two bags I will check in. That method seems to be my best and most cost efficient option with respect to moving my possessions.  

The only thing is the birds. I must broaden my search for a good new home for them right away. I took pictures for a posting today; I can post the information to a network of animal rescuers and pet lovers where I would have the best chance of finding a suitable stranger to take them on. So far, my word by mouth among a few acquaintances has not produced any serious interest. I need to resolve the problem soon so that I can assist with the move and transition of my little friends' lives. 

I really must start to put out the call for a new home for my little flock tomorrow morning. It pains me, though. I will miss them. They have brightened up my life in this small dull apartment. They have been very amusing. I have loved taking care of them and getting to know them, but the long voyage would be too risky and certainly very stressful. Their health and skills at flight and play have come along well and I don't want to trigger a setback. The newest to the family, the tiny mottled Society finch, has turned out to be the most adventurous and playful. He sure can sing, too! Parting with them is a big step and just the thought of it has been affecting me already. They will have a better chance at adjusting to a new home around hear than taking that epic and uncomfortable lengthy journey abroad, especially as I would have no place to keep them until I get settled.

Actually, I realised how emotional I have been getting about the move as I taped up the parcels in the post office and requested documents from my medical file after my last medical appointment. I found myself getting quite annoyed, then felt almost teary afterward. "Ah-hah!" I thought. It was apparent that the difficulty of making this change is getting to me. Around the time I was taking care of these matters, I was also going through the last week of classes for the semester, which is the last week of classes I'll teach in Korea. Some days I think this is the last time I'm seeing this person, or buy this item or use this service. It can verge on morbidity. Each time I even think about closing my bank accounts, or canceling my internet service and whatnot, I experience emotional twinges. I have also circulated an invitation to celebrations of my birthday, my "big fat" 60ieth, in fact. That is another milestone, isn't it?--the biggest reason why I feel I should get out of Korea and make a change now in my life. I guess this event is at the root of my conflict over the departure, as well as the act of departure itself. The transition would only get harder and harder the longer and longer I waited. It is nonetheless quite an emotional time to make the move now.

Overall, I feel good about doing it now. I know that there are a lot of options for me now, and opportunities opening up now that could be missed by waiting too long. I feel happy about what could happen for me at this turning point. I am hot to get into new work and other activities back in Canada. I am happy to be embarking upon a renewed life in a phase of positive upswing, at least personally (though certainly not in terms of the world situation! Characteristically, I have waited way to long to move on before. I have learned that lesson well. I intend to save myself time and grief in the future by getting out while things are going well. This way, I have far more control of my life and can get a grip on far more choices.

Eye of the Optimist-friends and gifts

Posted on September 3, 2016 at 8:32 PM Comments comments (5)
Being good to friends, keeping open-minded and calm and remaining generous when you disagree or dislike something they said or did can be worth it. The right kind of friends may appreciate that stance more than you know. I, for one, was pleasantly surprised by the generosity of some friends this past week.

A pragmatic mind may calculate the generosity as "investment" and guess that there probably be some "payback." Certainly, gift-giving traditions create that assumption. Giving is a duty; it creates obligations and attaches strings of payback and loyalty.

One can discern the sense of obligation and token gift exchanging from heartfelt generosity, however. Friendship can remain steady even when one defaults on their part in the exchange. Friends can operate without expectations and strings. 

It is best not to keep tally of who gave, when and how much in some sort of mental ledger in which a balance is always sought. That arrangement can soon sour the rapport. Keeping score can lead to competition, resentment and stress, factors which can destroy relationships.

To be sure, there are occasions like dinners and house-warmers, birthdays and weddings, when it is proper to bring gifts in most cultures. Expectations and practices in terms of how expensive or big a gift to give, and timing and style of the presentation may vary. Generally, guests are forgiven when circumstances limit the gifting. Not to give when you are able is really unacceptable on certain kinds of occasions.

Here, though, I am talking about visits and exchanges that happen between such special occasions, like when one friend proposes meeting for a meal or show or a home visit. The gift might be the payment of the bill or the presentation of some gift at the meeting. Such are the kinds of gifts I received over the weekend.

One new Korean friend is retired and well off. She enjoys giving to people she likes and admires. She is well able; she does not expect the same level of return gifting. Rather, she seems to expect that I will keep her company sometimes and be nice to her. Quite fair. I like her and respect her enough, regardless, and would not need to be prompted by the gifts, but she has her pride and preference. There is an element of custom in this exchange, for Koreans expect some duty and loyalty in return. In her case, she would like to pass the time with me learning English in casual meetings. Under the circumstances, I estimate that I must charge some fee, but I requested a token fee for lessons since she spends lavishly on me. I see this as a real friendship, which she does not have to buy. However, she is a new friend in my life. Upon longer and therefore deeper acquaintance, I would feel I must forfeit any fee. If she is indeed conscious about money, she probably prefers to budget her spending, I feel, and I would not want to take advantage of her.

Another friend is a Russian coworker. She and her husband like socializing and say they are used to having people drop by. She likes to share food and little items. I enjoy giving back. After an outing with the above Korean friend, who had given me a whole fancy pie, I cut up the pie and offered slices to the Russians, who were very happy. They came back offering a full plate of fruit pieces. With that donation, I had enough fruit for the weekend. This woman must cook every day for her husband, so she often offers leftovers, which the husband won't tolerate. Sad for her that she had to work like that, even in the summer heat. I am happy to give them something in return. Because her husbands pickiness over food, though, I offer other things. For example, I brought them an extra electric fan from my office to try out at home. I also pass along invitations for short outings, and make a point to stop in the hallway to chat at the workplace. We don't count who gave last time and how much. It is an easy-going and happy practice for mutual enjoyment and satisfaction.

Eye of the Optimist-Vacations are beneficial

Posted on August 22, 2016 at 2:08 AM Comments comments (1)
It has been about seven weeks since my last blog entry. That is because I went on vacation overseas for about a month. Though I am still in vacation mode and feeling somewhat lazy, I thought it was about time to get back into the blogging. Thanks for your patience; and, thanks for those of you who have continued to follow this blog. I notice that the visits to this blog and my website have been steady despite my absence. I must be doing something right.

What to write about today? I have been thinking about the benefits of taking time for vacations.

This summer vacation did me good. It was distracting, interesting, eventful, and refreshing. 

It was busy. I caught up with a few friends, which required traveling around my home province and across Canada. I got some errands and shopping done. I joined some activists and attended important and timely discussions on major issues by going to some events of the World Social Forum.

Though I was busy and took in a lot of information from friends, the news in Canada, public issues and updates on progressive organizations and campaigns, it was a break from my job and daily working life routine and so offered respite.

It was healthy. I got some sun and exercise. For example, I went swimming in rivers and lakes and hiking along nature trails. I had picnics and enjoyed a variety of restaurants. I ate well most of the time. Also, I slept well.

It was entertaining. I went to a country music festival, art galleries and saw street performers. 

It boosted my positive outlook. I gave time to considering how well my life is going.

It was socially redeeming. I got caught up with good friends and family members and learned more about their lives, the good, bad, sad and ugly. Also, the trip and these conversations helped me  to reflect on my life journey and goals. 

I found an article that speaks to scientifically validates the benefits of taking vacations. Too, it recommends that every working person take time out for a vacation.

7 benefits of taking vacation time

Vacation is today’s big bad wolf for Americans.That’s right. Americans are frightened of taking time off work for vacation. A survey by the U.S. Travel Association found that four out of 10 Americans aren’t going to take all of their vacation days. Why? Because they’re not exactly enthusiastic about the work they’ll find on their desk when they return, the survey found.“They dread the pile of work awaiting them when they return, and no one else can do what they do at the office,” according to the survey. “These people suffer from what the researchers called a ‘martyr’ complex, believing that they’re the only ones who can do their jobs.”It’s not just fear, though. Americans are taking less vacations overall, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The data showed that more than 9 million people took a vacation in July 1976, but now that number is closer to 7 million for 2014. In fact, a 2012 survey by Harris Interactive Inc. found Americans leave 9.2 days of vacation unused.Still, companies are encouraging their workers to take time off. Some have said that this is a bad idea and that there needs to be more balance between work and life instead of just vacation time.But vacation days are something many Americans have and, in some cases, are willing to use.

Here are seven ways vacation can be beneficial for you:
Better physical healthThe New York Times reported that a vacation can help your physical health — the stress of working can take a serious toll on your heart. For both men and women, taking a vacation every two years compared to every six will lessen the risk of coronary heart disease or heart attacks, The Times reported."It shows how the body reacts to a lifestyle of stress," said Elaine Eaker, author of a study by the Framingham Heart Study, to The Times. "This is real evidence that vacations are important to your physical health."

More productivityCount on being more productive if you’re taking vacations. Upon returning from vacation, workers are likely to put more emphasis on the work they have to make up,according to The New York Times. Research says that a lot of that has to do with the way humans are made.“The importance of restoration is rooted in our physiology. Human beings aren’t designed to expend energy continuously,” The Times reported. “Rather, we’re meant to pulse between spending and recovering energy.”

Closer family relationshipsPsychology expert Susan Krauss Whitbourne said one of the biggest benefits of taking vacation is how much it affects familial relationships. Family vacations increase family bonding, especially when a lot of the activities have to do with talking about memories or even sharing stressful moments together.“Shared family memories and time spent together isolated from ordinary everyday activities (school, work and so on) help to promote these positive ties,” Whitbourne wrote. “Though family vacations can have their own share of stress, the benefits outweigh the risks, even in families that are not particularly close.”

Newer perspectivesStep away from work for awhile and enjoy the summer sun. When you come back to work, you’ll have a totally new outlook on life. CNN reported that when you step away from the problems and stresses you’re facing, you’re bound to get a better perspective and come out with a more satisfying answer. An example of this, according to CNN, would be when you ask your friend for advice on a situation. The friend is removed from the scenario, and thus can offer advice more easily.

Increased mental powerWorking all the time and getting things done might make you think you’re the king of the world. But your brain is feeling something completely different. Research by the University of California Irvine’s Gregory Hickok found that our brains don’t have a reserve pool to gather energy and power from. Vacations can help reset your mind.“If we had a huge amount of brain power in reserve, we might not need vacations,” the Tribune reported. “We could just tap those beach-lolling brain cells. But we don't. Time off tunes up a well-functioning brain.”

Lower chance of burn outStarting to feel a little burned out? Guess that’s a perfect reason to take a vacation — especially because the time away will actually keep you from letting the fire inside of you die. According to about.com, one of the key benefits of taking time off work is that you won’t feel all the pressures and discouragement that arise once you begin showingsymptoms of a burnout.“Workers who take regular time to relax are less likely to experience burnout, making them more creative and productive than their overworked, under-rested counterparts,” according to about.com.

Improved mental healthU.S. News and World report spoke to experts who noted that one of the main benefits of vacation time is that it can improve your mental health. Feelings of calm arise and relieve the stress, which allow the body and mind to heal in ways that it couldn’t if it were still under pressure.Email: [[email protected]](mailto: [email protected] ), Twitter:@herbscribner

Eye of the Optimist -16 tips for success

Posted on May 27, 2016 at 8:44 AM Comments comments (6)
Dr. Phil McGraw shares part of his formula for success with "The Sweet 16," featured in his new book, Life Code: The New Rules for Winning in the Real World . (This list was copied from http://www.thedoctorstv.com/articles/784-dr-phil-s-sweet-16-tips-for-success, May 27, 2016.)

“I have studied success all of my life and I found that success leaves clues,” Dr. Phil says. “There is a formula for success and I’ve boiled it down to what I call The Sweet 16."

1. Have a defined “image” and never go out of character. 
• You must know both yourself and how to present yourself.
2. Create a perception of uniqueness. 
• Choose to define your image so that you distinguish yourself from anyone else in the world.
3. Play “big,” not just long. 
• Playing big is different than playing long because even reliable and competent people that play long seldom win big, if at all.
4. Learn to claim and accept praise, and acknowledge it in a gracious way, but do accept it. 
• The goal is to get noticed and acknowledged for who you are and what you do.
5. Become “essential.” 
• If you want to succeed in any situation, it is important to be needed and good to be relied upon.
6. Know your real currency. 
• Don’t waste time working for what you don’t want.
7. Always, always have a plan. 
• If you want to achieve a sustained measure of success in any area of your life, you need a specific plan that begins with identifying what you want.
8. Keep things “close to the vest.” 
• To be interesting you have to maintain a certain degree of mystery, because it gives you a degree of mastery.
9. Always be in investigatory mode. 
• You have to constantly be gathering relevant information that may empower you to do and achieve what you desire.
10. Must “stretch” and behave your way to success, even if it feels like “fake it until you make it.” 
• Have confidence and be bold enough to stretch yourself, scramble to close the gap if one exists, and grow into new opportunities.
11. Always keep your options open. 
• It is important to always leave yourself a face-saving way out.
12. Always master the system and figure a way to make it work for you. 
• You can gain distinct advantage if you know the game better than anybody else.
13. Create a passionate nucleus of supporters. 
• Surround yourself with people who share your passion and vision, and support your pursuit of your goals.
14. Deal only with the truth. 
• You must resolve to never fail to acknowledge if you have a problem or are in some kind of toxic situation that is draining your life energy.
15. Recognize and use the ego and greed of others to create a path to success. 
• If you want acceptance and to be heard and well-regarded, you can create receptivity by being sensitive to your listener’s ego.
16. Pick your battles and never let your opponent have control. 
• Never put yourself in an untenable position by picking a battle that you don’t need to fight and don’t know with great certainty that you can win.

Eye of the Optimist-friends and fate

Posted on May 21, 2016 at 6:32 AM Comments comments (0)
It is a full moon weekend. Do you feel odd during a full moon? Do you feel anxious or off? I often do, and I did today.

Well, either the full moon or the peppermint tea chaser to a glass of beer combined with chat with uncertainty about the friends I was with resulted in a bad sleep. Leaving those people and going directly to bed was probably a bad idea. I probably needed time to unwind and a distraction. I guess I have doubts about the friendship since these two seem lukewarm about their association with me, each in his own way. I felt a little awkward and I noticed myself either trying to push the conversation along if my mind was not drifting. The one person explained how a break-up had been affecting him lately. The other person seems to have become indifferent to a lot of people. She seems self-contained in her carefully measured avoidance of people so that she is not open with them . She waffles about social invitations and commitments, preferring her freedom to do exactly how she feels as much as she can. I realize that and I accept it. I respect it, given her cultural background and the likelihood that she has been burned a few times by people's lack of loyalty. I guess I have been like that too. People used to call me "slippery." I would not give enough to let them learn enough to draw conclusions and I did not like being pegged. Well, I think I am nervous around people these days, after a period of strong self-confidence on the social front. Recent developments with my circle of colleagues and colleague-neighbours have made me doubt myself and them. I prefer to withdraw, socially. I do not seek company much. I make little effort to make social arrangements because of many disappointments, like no-shows and other affronts. The circle here has shifted, with loyalties transgressed and persons abandoned as the friendships have been shuffled around. I had been talking to someone who started out as new friend then seemed to be unfriendly (the one experiencing the break-up), but he has formed a tight friendship with Y, whom I was getting close to. Yeah, there was more than the full moon at play last night.

I find myself losing confidence on my life's path when I enter into a social dark cloud. I know the emotions of the situation can fog my judgement. I should not bother with much reflection during a full-moon phase, a phase when I am feeling skittish and a bit negative. I cannot help but wonder as to the magnitude and consequences of mistakes I may have made. I wonder if I had been on a better track in life, one that fed on my potential more and was better suited, if I would be among better friends. I must admit to lost opportunities that were abundant when I was still a youth. Take sports. I like to watch sports and I admire accomplished athletes. An international athletics competition was on TV, and I started to reminisce about my high school track days. I have often wondered whether it would have been wise to join the varsity track and field team. Today it struck me that I had no encouragement and no invitation to do that. My high school coach had never praised me, although my school mates had a little. We had the strongest team in the province with many strong runners, so I did not stand out even though I knew I was among the top best in my province, since I could out-run most of my peers. Today I thought that I could have been competitive since few of my peers went on to university. Then I realized that students from all over the country attended my university and some athletes did so especially because of the fine reputation of many of the sports teams there, including the track and field team, so I may not have done well. I may not have passed the try-outs. (I remember one team mate from high school who had joined the varsity team and I remember that he told me I was very fit. He did not suggest involvement in the team, though.) Still, it would have been a good experience to try, and certainly a good experience to compete at least for a year or two. Oh, well. I was neither wise or bold enough. I have to believe that I was not enthusiastic enough about it, and probably because of the so-so experience I'd had with sports in high school, to make the effort to join. There were opportunities related to employment that I let pass me by because I was not ready or enthusiastic enough. Nobody was around asking me what I wanted to do and I did not seek anyone out to give me advice. That is generally because I perceived most people around me as indifferent to me. I was focused on keeping my mind and emotions together, and getting through a degree program. It took a lot of energy and concentration to do that. I felt alone. I felt burdened by the solitude and sadness of social neglect and abandonment. Maybe what I really needed to do was to break away and take a plunge to try a decent job, even before graduating. I was not ready when people were knocking on my door. They soon stopped knocking and the opportunities dried up before I could get myself together enough to make a decision and make a move. I teeter on regretting those missed opportunities. 

I go from believing that I followed my heart and remained true to myself, spending some much of my life as an activist for social change instead of pursuing a career or marriage; perhaps I did what I was meant to do. Perhaps that is just the kind of element of the vast universe that I am and nothing could stop my course, even myself. I was there to try to make a difference and speak out about injustices and try to push forward social progress when so few would. I am known to some communities and circles for it, even if my career is not much or is hard to put a finger on.

As my relationships evolve and those fall in my "friends" category come and go, I need to update my communications and networks periodically. In the past couple of days, I have been flushing away old correspondence and documents from past activities and associations. I emptied my downloads folders on my computers. I updated the entire list of my friends and acquaintances on Facebook. I culled out stored correspondence with students and organizations in my electronic mail files. In my office, I cleared out years of papers. I even reviewed my will with its accompanying list of contacts and decided to make changes. The list of friends and associates to contact in the event of my demise was shaken up and sorted out. Some names got crossed off and others got added. Since I have come to know my nieces better recently, one of whom I had named as an executor, I changed the name of the executor and stand-bys today. I felt relieved after to all this housekeeping and rearranging.

In the modern world where myriads of people regularly pass each other by, and numerous relationships grow and fade all the time, I guess it is normal for those one calls friends to change all the time. I knew when I was a teenager that I would have to make myself strong enough to be fit to stand up for myself and carry me through my life, because one had to be self-reliant. Besides, how well does anyone truly know anyone? I've watched enough crime documentaries to be aware that even a person with the best reputation and apparently the most solid relationship can turn out to be holding deep dark secrets and thoughts, and may turn on the ones they say they love, parents or spouse. It is nice if a true friend comes along and listens and tries to know you and offer help, but circumstances can limit or prevent that. I imagine that few people have life-long friends, especially amid all the world travel, all the alternative styles and misfits, and career-hoppers like me. 

As I reviewed my lists of friends this sunny afternoon, I enjoyed the memory of the acquaintances. I  have known quite a wide variety in terms of occupation, age, perspective and education, and I have come to know them through a wide variety of activities. Some of my contentment and confidence returned as I leafed through the files. in the end, I eliminated a very few names from my lists, knowing that there is substance to the friendships while realizing that I know people to varying degrees and from varying angles. The experiences were real, all the same. I can truly call them friends. 

The sunlight of day exposes more truth than the cold light of the moon, which is a mere reflection of the sun, anyway. Moonlight can fool you or mislead you. It is a distraction.

Despite the adjustments to my immediate social life in the present, I have been enjoying a lot of friendship and it is rewarding. I should not let these little tussles and upsets get me down. Sure, I am older and wiser today, and can criticize my history more astutely, but there is nothing to be ashamed of or regretful for, on the whole. Overall, I have enjoyed a good measure of fortune despite all the misfortune. I have overcome a lot of problems. I have passed through phases of education in different ways and built myself up by it, even if there is nothing much immediately visible in terms of material stock. I have gone forward even if I have stalled at time. I have known a lot of great people who have been kind to me. I have tried to help others and have won appreciation in many forms. I have something to say and I am getting better at saying it. My accomplishments speak for me, too.

Eye of the Optimist-Nest Building Instinct

Posted on February 3, 2016 at 4:28 AM Comments comments (1)
For my pet Gouldian finches, it's Spring! They are in the mood. 

Cocks of this species usually sing and even dance most days, for any body and any time. They even sing to their reflections, when they are not poking at them. They sing to the humans of the household. My two little guys routinely sing and do the dance for each other first thing in the morning before breakfast. They break into song, particularly when they are happy, at any time all year round. 

It is a beautiful song and one of the main reasons why people want the cocks of this species as pets more so than hens. With a tendency of Gouldians to give birth to way more males than hens (generally 80% boys born),  anyway, plus the greater attraction of the cocks, and the inclination for breeders to keep what females they have for further breeding, few hens can be found in pet stores. 

Very few Gouldians can be found in the area where I live, period. I know of two stores where you can find them, sometimes, and the ones they get in one of these stores are usually in bad shape.

That is why my first little friend, Abelard, a black-headed Gouldian cock, ended up with same-sex buddy rather than a girlfriend last year. Abelard was calling out for his flock every day. I had to find him some kind of companion. They have gotten along well in the past 12 months since the second one joined us. Abelard has remained the more physically dominant than his buddy, the beautiful and sweet red headed Cerano. Cerano has become healthier and learned to stand up to his "big brother" figure. He can give a good peck at Abelard when he wants, and he has his own mind. 

Males are generally competitive and you can expect them to fight a bit, particularly over the best roosting spot. Indeed, these two guys usually squawk and peck each other over their chosen spot to roost for the night every evening. They occasionally get jealous when the human talks just to one guy, and they generally want to have whatever the other has. For instance, they'll rub elbows and peck each other trying to get into the same feeding box even though there are two feeders with exactly the same kind of food. This tension is all in a typical day in the life of Gouldian boys.

You can imagine what a scene might develop if I were to introduce one female to these guys. You've got it. There might be blood, even murder. Separating them so one could have the girl might not be healthy for the other, either, I figure. That is why I turned one prospect down when I locked eyes with a cute hen at the pet store. Besides the fact that she had a serious mite infection which had given her a "scaly face", I thought it wouldn't work out at a home with two competing guys. I left her to her fate there. I hope she is okay and in a good home now. That is the only single female I have seen in the two stores I know of where finches of any sort are found. I came close to taking home a single cock of a different species of finch to help smooth out the competition between Cerano and Abelard, but I did not in the end. 

Cerano is apparently aptly named. He is so lyrical and seductive when he sings, he even mesmerizes Abelard. Abelard learned he shouldn't pounce on Cerano in the early stage of their friendship. Cerano is persistent and likes to approach Abelard and serenade him. Ab is charmed, nearly every time. Up until this week, he was giving Cerano a good pecking for teasing him so. Lately, though, he tries to mount Cerano, who kind of screams and tries to get away. 

Today, Abelard must have pounced on Cerano about 20 times while in my presence, and I was out for around five hours today. Abelard had found a little cubby hole and I guess he figured it would be a good place to nest and start a family. Being in there seemed to stimulate him, and he would jump Cerano after luring him into the little space. I had to block this hole. Abelard keeps trying to pull out the materials I used to stuff up the hole, but is still pouncing on Cerano. 

Around suppertime, just before roosting time, Abelard attacked Cerano by mounting him then fiercely pulled at his head and neck. Now I have to separate them. I have discovered why I have been finding loose little feathers around their room. It cannot go on like this. I will lock one up while he's feeding and let the other fly, then lock up the second when he feeds and let the other loose to fly for awhile, etc., etc.

Eye of the Optimist-luck and kindness

Posted on January 28, 2016 at 9:54 PM Comments comments (21)
Keep the faith. Small acts of kindness abound and fortune smiles, though you may not notice. Keep your mind and eyes open and you will see.

Here are some examples from my experiences yesterday. Despite some negative feedback, good things happened. People around me were generally thoughtful and helpful, though some of my students of last semester rated my teaching low.

When I went out yesterday, I noticed the guard's puppy shivering outside in the cold rain. This lovely friendly and well behaved 6 to 8-month old Jindo puppy is often left alone on a short tether in front of the building for long hours, even overnight in freezing temperatures, without company and proper food, water and exercise. The day before, I stopped to play with her twice and gave her some water. Yesterday, I took her and her gear inside the entrance to the building. She really wanted a walk and was trying to hold in her waste, but I had not time for her then, so she relented and went inside but piddled on the tiles. At least it was a bit warmer inside the building. The dog and gear were gone when I returned, and I notice they have not left her outside today, thankfully.

I had a routine medical appointment. Fortunately, I did not have to wait long in the queues. 

It rained and I had no umbrella, but a taxi driver offered to give me his umbrella when I explained why I wanted a taxi to go a short distance. Since I was headed to a store anyway, I coped without this nice man's generous offer; I said I would buy an umbrella. I needed to keep an extra one on hand, in any case.

While I was at the store, I left an item behind. It was bulky, so I put it aside while I was organizing my purchases in my shopping bags then forgot about it. After a stop in a doughnut shop and the walk to the bus stop, which must have consumed about 45 minutes, I realized my omission. Yet, the item was still there on a bench waiting for me to return for it. People in Korea generally do not commit petty theft. Rather, they show concern for people and their belongings.

Back at home, found another positive comment about this blog. The writer said they thought the entry about my day was a good article, and they implied that it inspired them to make a journal, too. I should feel optimistic about my writing.

The editor who is completing the formatting of my published ebooks was supportive. He confirmed that big online stores like Amazon.com steal materials, in that they sell without reporting sales so that they take all the revenue instead of giving the authors their share. The positive side to that is that it is likely more of my books have been sold than it appears. This editor gave me a discount on the formatting order because of the quirkiness and finicky demands of the e-publisher.

Further on the topic of books, I have ordered the textbooks for the online editing course I have recently registered in. There was a hangup in ordering the books from the institution's bookstore because of their administration practices of online courses between semesters. That is fortunate, because this hangup spurred me to look at other sources for these books. I found good used copies of them at discount prices, and was able to use an old gift certificate given to me a long time ago by a brother. After applying this gift coupon, I have a credit. That means I only have to pay for shipping. As there was a problem getting the items shipped overseas, I asked a friend to receive them and forward them to me. He agreed to do this favour for me! I can minimize the shipping costs this way, too, especially since I bought paperback editions and used copies whose lower value keeps the price of tariffs down.

Because I received word of some negative feedback from a certain group of my students, I looked at all my student evaluations for my teaching in the fall semester of last year, 2015. One group for the same class, whom I taught exactly the same way, gave me a perfect score. Three other groups of this same course rated me normally at an acceptable level. 

I need to keep all these positive experiences and input when looking at the negative student feedback. Sometimes there are groups where the dynamics and circumstances are against you. We sometimes find some students with a sense of entitlement who demand high grades yet do not want to work and are insulted if other less privileged and less traveled English language students receive better marks. Often, though, this kind of student expects to just coast through without having to work, but other students follow instructions and complete tasks better. Such were some students in the problem class. Many were also enrolled in a second course of mine, a writing course as opposed to the conversation practice course, and they brought this negative outlook into the writing class, too, resulting in negative feedback for this writing class. I have to keep it all in perspective for myself, no matter how my "bosses" interpret things. I know I have a pretty decent track record and strong effective teaching skills. this past semester, I tried hard to implement the best of my skills and knowledge in facilitating conversation practice. I went out of my way to make it interesting and create a variety materials and activities that would aid conversation and make the course experience fun for all. Despite such efforts, reviews can be unpredictable, especially when students are very competitive and stressed about performance.

I am fighting the nagging thoughts and negative emotional reaction that I am feeling this morning from the negative reviews I read yesterday. Writing this blog is one way to overcome them. Also, I think it best to stay away from the campus today, though I wanted to go to the campus gym. 

Anyway, I have already begun planning the spring semester courses in such a way as to mitigate the kind of problems I had last semester. Fortunately, I have not been assigned the same type of course for the next semester. Rather, I have some senior conversation courses instead of those 2nd year conversation courses. That is probably due the kindness and foresight of our Coordinator who made our schedules.

Anyway, I am starting the (secret) transition into the world of publishing by embarking upon the editing course. It is time for me to move on, so I plan to quit English teaching and move back to my homeland after this contract. I am not telling my employer this yet, just in case, though. The negative side of my teaching experience of late tells me that I am correct in estimating that it is time for me to make a change.

Keep a healthy perspective. Do not overlook the acts of kindness and good fortune of daily life. Do not underestimate it. If things are not working out, make some changes.

Eye of an Optimist-goal setting theory

Posted on December 29, 2015 at 8:05 PM Comments comments (7)
I just learned that there really is a theory of goal-setting. Actually, it has been around since the 1960's! It was first proposed by Edwin Locke and developed further by him and Gary Latham toward the 90s.

The end of the calendar year is a good time to assess and set new goals or make adjustments to your plans. For me, the process of personal goal-setting begins around my birthday, another annual mark, and it falls in mid-December anyway. Going through this process helps me to avoid dwelling too much on the past, though I do take a thoughtful look back, of course. Also, it helps to motivate me to go forward in life, and to feel positive about where I am and where I am going in life.

Now I find a well researched and established scientific theory to support and explain the success of applying this sort of goal-setting process of which many people already have practical and experiential knowledge.. It has been used in management but it can applied to various situations including personal growth. The awareness of this theory makes me more motivated to keep up goal-setting. Indeed, goal-setting itself is valued for its positive effects like contributing to motivation and getting results. The self-consciousness and the clarity of what one wants to achieve contribute to success.

I found a summary of goal-setting theory online on the website, www.mindtools.com. The title of the undated article is "Locke's Goal-Setting TheorySetting Meaningful, Challenging Goals" and its authors are the Editorial Team of the site. I copy it here below for my readers' edification.

What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.
-Henry David Thoreau, American author and philosopher.

Many of us have learned – from bosses, seminars and business articles – the importance of setting ourselves SMART objectives. We know that "SMART" stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. But are these the only factors to consider if we want to achieve our goals?

Dr Edwin Locke and Dr Gary Latham spent many years researching the theory of goal setting, during which time they identified five elements that need to be in place for us to achieve our goals.

In this article, we'll look at their research, and find out how to apply it to our own goals.

About Locke and Latham's Theory
In the late 1960s, Locke's pioneering research into goal setting and motivation gave us our modern understanding of goal setting. In his 1968 article "Toward a Theory of Task Motivation and Incentives," he showed that clear goals and appropriate feedback motivate employees. He went on to highlight that working toward a goal is also a major source of motivation – which, in turn, improves performance.

Locke's research showed that the more difficult and specific a goal is, the harder people tend to work to achieve it.

In one study, Locke reviewed a decade's worth of laboratory and field studies on the effects of goal setting and performance. He found that, for 90 percent of the time, specific and challenging (but not too challenging) goals led to higher performance than easy, or "do your best," goals.

For example, telling someone to "try hard" or "do your best" is less effective than saying "try to get more than 80 percent correct," or "concentrate on beating your best time." Likewise, having a goal that's too easy is not motivating. Hard goals are more motivating than easy ones, because it feels more of an accomplishment to achieve something you've worked hard for.
A few years after Locke published his article, Dr Gary Latham studied the effects of goal setting in the workplace. His results supported Locke's findings – that there is an inseparable link between goal setting and workplace performance.

In 1990, Locke and Latham published their seminal work, "A Theory of Goal Setting & Task Performance." In this book, they repeated the need to set specific and difficult goals, while outlining five other characteristics for successful goal setting.

Locke and Latham's Five Principles
According to Locke and Latham, there are five goal setting principles that can improve our chances of success:
  1. Clarity.
  2. Challenge.
  3. Commitment.
  4. Feedback.
  5. Task complexity.

Let's look at each of these elements, and explore how you can apply them to your personal goals and to your team's objectives.

1. Setting Clear Goals
When your goals are clear, you know what you're trying to achieve. You can also measure results accurately, and you know which behaviors to reward. This is why SMART is such a useful mnemonic.
However, when a goal is vague – or when you express it as a general instruction like "take initiative" – it isn't easy to measure, and it isn't motivating. You may not even know you've achieved it!
How to set Clear Goals
  • Write your goal down and be as detailed as possible. Use SMART, and consider putting your goal into the form of a personal mission statement for added clarity.
  • Think about how you'll measure your success toward this goal. What specific metrics will you use?
  • Once you've set your goal, examine how it makes you feel. Are you excited? Does the challenge motivate you? If you don't feel strongly about the goal, you might need to clarify it or change it entirely.
  • Set clear goals that use specific and measurable standards. For example, "reduce job turnover by 15 percent."
  • Write down the metrics that you'll use to measure your team members' success. Be as specific as possible, and make sure that everyone on your team understands how you'll measure success.

2. Setting Challenging Goals
People are often motivated by challenging goals, however it's important not to set a goal that is so challenging it can't be achieved.
How to set Challenging Goals
  • Look at your goal. Is it challenging enough to spark your interest?
  • Develop self-discipline, so that you have the persistence to work through problems.
  • Identify ways that you can reward yourself when you make progress. Incremental rewards for reaching specific milestones will motivate you to work through challenging tasks.
  • Before taking on a major goal, research it thoroughly. This will help you be realistic.
  • Use the Inverted-U model to find the best balance between pressure and performance when you set goals.
  • Think about how you'll reward team members when they achieve challenging goals.
  • If possible, create some friendly competition between team members or departments. Competition can encourage people to work harder.

3. Securing Team Commitment
To be effective, your team must understand and agree to the goals – team members are more likely to "buy into" a goal if they have been involved in setting it.
This doesn't mean that you have to negotiate every goal with your team members and secure their approval. They're likely to commit to it as long as they believe that the goal is achievable, it is consistent with the company's ambitions, and the person assigning it is credible.
How to Secure Commitment to Goals
  • Stay committed by using visualizationtechniques to imagine how your life will look once you've achieved your goal.
  • Create a treasure map to remind yourself why you should work hard. Visual representations of your goal can help you stay committed, even when the going gets tough.
  • Allow team members to set their own goals. This will increase their sense of commitment and empowerment.
  • Use Management by Objectives to ensure that your team's goals align with the organization's goals.
  • Use Amabile and Kramer's Progress Theory to enhance your team's motivation and commitment with small wins.

4. Gaining Feedback
In addition to selecting the right goals, you should also listen to feedback, so that you can gauge how well you and your team are progressing.
Feedback gives you the opportunity to clarify people's expectations and adjust the difficulty of their goals.
Keep in mind that feedback doesn't have to come from other people. You can check how well you're doing by simply measuring your own progress.
How to Give Feedback on Goals
  • Schedule time once a week to analyze your progress and accomplishments. Look at what has and hasn't worked, and make adjustments along the way.
  • Learn how to ask for feedback on your progress from others.
  • Use technology to track and measure your progress. Apps like Lift are a good place to start.
  • Measure progress by breaking difficult or large goals down into smaller chunks, and seek feedback when you reach each milestone.

5. Considering Task Complexity
Take special care to ensure that work doesn't become too overwhelming when goals or assignments are highly complex.
People who work in complicated and demanding roles can often push themselves too hard, if they don't take account of the complexity of the task.
How to set Complex and Challenging Goals
  • Give yourself plenty of time to accomplish complex goals. Set deadlines that apply an appropriate amount of pressure, while still being achievable.
  • If you start to feel stressed about meeting your goals, they might be too complex or unrealistic. Reassess both of these areas and modify your goals if necessary.
  • Break large, complex goals down into smaller sub-goals. This will stop you feeling overwhelmed, and it will make it easier to stay motivated.
  • Your team members might need additional training before they work toward their goal. Give everyone a training needs assessment to identify any knowledge or skills gaps.
  • If you notice that any team members are overwhelmed, consider putting them into acoaching or mentoring relationship with a more experienced colleague.

Key Points
Goal setting is something that many of us recognize as a vital part of achieving success.By understanding goal-setting theory, you can apply Locke and Latham's principles to your goals. Their research confirms the usefulness of SMART goal setting, and their theory continues to influence the way that we measure performance today.To use this tool, set clear, challenging goals and commit yourself to achieving them. Be sure to provide feedback to others on their performance towards achieving their goals, and reflect on your own progress as well. Also, consider the complexity of the task, and break your goals down into smaller chunks, where appropriate.If you follow these simple rules, your goal setting will be much more successful, and your overall performance will improve.

Eye of the Optimist-avoiding power struggles at home

Posted on November 14, 2015 at 10:45 PM Comments comments (0)
Great article on discipline without corporal punishment or angry outbursts. (from www.positivediscipline.com)

by Jane Nelsen
Power struggles create distance and hostility instead of closeness and trust. Distance and hostility create resentment, resistance, rebellion (or compliance with lowered self-esteem). Closeness and trust create a safe learning environment. You have a positive influence only in an atmosphere of closeness and trust where there is no fear of blame, shame or pain.

I have never seen a power drunk child without a power drunk adult real close by. Adults need to remove themselves from the power struggle without winning or giving in. Create a win/win environment. HOW? The following suggestions teach children important life skills including self-discipline, responsibility, cooperation and problem-solving skills—instead of "approval junkie" compliance or rebellion.

  1. Decide what you will do. I will read a story after teeth are brushed. I will cook only in a clean kitchen. I will drive only when seat belts are buckled. (I will pull over to the side of the road when children are fighting.)
  2. Follow Through The key to this one and all of the following is KINDNESS AND FIRMNESS AT THE SAME TIME. (Pull over to the side of the road without saying a word. Children learn more from kind and firm actions than from words.)
  3. Positive Time Out. Create a "nurturing" (not punitive) time out area with your child.
  4. Distraction for Young Children and lots of supervision. Punishment decreases brain development. Children are often punished for doing what they are developmentally programmed to do—explore. (Please read Positive Discipline for Preschoolers.)
  5. Get children involved in the creation of routines (morning, chores, bedtime). Then the routine chart becomes the boss.
  6. Ask what and how questions: How will we eat if you don't set the table? What is next on our routine chart? What was our agreement about what happens to toys that aren't picked up? What happened? How do you feel about what happened? What ideas do you have to solve the problem? (This does not work at the time of conflict, nor does it work unless you are truly curious about what you child has to say.)
  7. Put the problem on the family meeting agenda and let the kids brainstorm for a solution. (Chore story, safe deposit box.)
  8. Use ten words or less. One is best: Toys. Towels (that may have been left on the bathroom floor). Homework. (Sometimes these words need to be repeated several times.)
  9. Get children involved in cooperation. Say, "I can't make you, but I really need your help."
  10. No words: Use pantomime, charades, or notes. Try a hug to create closeness and trust—then do something else.
  11. Non-verbal signals. These should be planned in advance with the child. An empty plate turned over at the dinner table as a reminder of chores that need to be completed before dinner; a sheet over the television as a reminder that homework needs to be done first or that things need to be picked up in the common areas of the house.
  12. Use reflective listening. Stop talking and listen. Try to understand not only what your child is saying, but what she means.
  13. Limited choices: Do you want to do your homework before dinner or after dinner. Do you want to set the table or clean up after dinner?
  14. Make a "Wheel of Choice" together. Draw a big circle and divide into wedges. Brainstorm lots of solutions to problems. Draw illustrations for each solution. During a conflict, invite child to pick something from the wheel.
  15. Create a game: Beat the clock or sing songs while getting chores done.
  16. Do it WITH them. You may even want to go to the positive time out area with them.
  17. Use your sense of humor: Here comes the tickle monster to get little children who don't pick up their toys. This creates closeness and trust and can be followed by one of the above.
  18. BONUS: HUGS! HUGS! HUGS! A hug is often enough to change the behavior—theirs and yours.

- See more at: http://www.positivediscipline.com/articles/power.html#sthash.FkdDPxQy.dpuf

Thinking and Doing It Positively

Household Treasures

11 January 2021

I heard an interviewee speaking over the radio talk about cherishing items in the home. It is one way to explore and enjoy surroundings without traveling, he said​I'll try it.

A lot of objects on display in my apartment are artifacts from my travels, ironically. They refresh my most poignant memories of precious and mind-opening explorations.

Sitting atop the filing cabinet next to my desk are to souvenirs from South Korea, where I worked and resided for 10 years. After such a lengthy stay, I have loads of memories prompted by numerous artifacts of my experiences in that country. These two are among the best reflections of cultural and historical particularities of South Korea. They are a framed photo of a hero central to the labour and national democratic struggles and an ornament from folk culture in the countryside of the southern part of South Korea.

Jun Tae-Il was a courageous student activist leading actions against the last dictatorship in his country. He represents the heart of the movement and the victory for democracy. He became a martyr when the police fatally shot him while he was demonstrating in the street in Seoul, the capitol. The ornament is an ceramic fertility fetish, an image of a penis from one of several such parks in the southern region where I used to live. This part of the country remained tribal longer than other parts, so folk traditions such as shamanism and superstitions have endured. Fertility monuments were erected (pun intended), of course, bring about more healthy children. The foreigner exploring such parks giggle at the sights. 

Next to the filing cabinet is a bookshelf. One of the most noticeable objects near the top of this piece of furniture is a tacky, plastic, white alarm clock. It is significant because I bought it to ensure I woke up on time on my last morning living in South Korea. I had an early flight. As a small travel alarm clock had recently failed, and I was not sure my phone alarm would wake me fully, I picked up a cheap clock at a local general store. I don't use it as its ticking is noisy, but I have not thought to give it away. It remains perched on the shelf, deprived of a battery, as a reminder of my departure from the ex-pat life and return to Canada. 

I also have items saved from two trips to Cuba, one in 2003 and one in 2019. Both trips were organized political events. The first took me there with a political choral group to meet Cuban choirs, learn some of their songs, perform with Cubans, attend the May 1st rally, meet labour associations and tour the island for two weeks. I am looking at a typical replication of a sketch of Che Gevarra which one can find easily in street markets. Our choir, supportive of the Cuban revolution, valued the Cuban revolutionary democracy, social arrangements and political principals which that image, the most famous in all the world, represents to millions of people. It inspires and gives hope. I remember strolling through the streets, visiting markets and restaurants, chatting with locals and attending all the meetings on our hectic schedule. I have other little treasures such as a ceramic, hand painted ashtray, photos of our Cuban comrades, and an African-Cuban, wooden statuette.

Above my desk hang a pair of water colour paintings in wood frames. They portray sites in southern Manitoba in the general area where my grandparents met, married and bore my mother. They feature two views of the banks of the Red River, a river highly important to Canadian history. There were battles against invading Americans launched there and a key struggle of the Métis nation. The city of Winnipeg lies nearby, which used to be the industrial hub of Canada until the Panama Canal opened up and undermined the Canadian railway system. I have only passed through Winnipeg by car. This area is not one I remember, for I have never visited it. 

On the floor near my desk lies a wicker hamper. I have mixed feelings about it, but it has been very useful, so I have kept it. You see, it belonged to my father's second wife. My father remarried this odd, older person rather quickly after my mother passed, which denied her children necessary time to adjust. I carried resentment about her, but chose to avoid them rather than say anything or show my negative feelings. As I said, it is a practical item for it holds linens and Christmas stuff and allows aeration through the woven stems.

I originally bought the filing cabinet to organize research, not academic information but information found in the course of activism and stabs at political journalism. It therefore stores records of several international and regional conferences. Though I purge it once in awhile, there are still clippings, leaflets and pamphlets. They cover issues such as Canadian mining firms abroad, human rights cases, privacy rights, student concerns and transportation. I have been replacing old articles and folders with my own writing pieces. Among them are also old, self-published newsletters addressing local and international issues, some of my published articles and unpublished poems. 

Conversational News

10 January 2021

It is so good to be able to express myself and have contact with readers through this blog again. The loss of the access to my blog along with other aspects of confinement and restrictions really affected me. There were added unsettling restrictions due to circumstances, even including access to my games when Adobe Flash Player was removed. I was feeling the mounting stress of rising COVID cases and the awareness of the damages inflicted by this disease as well as the damage inflicted by states that remain focused on helping profitable enterprises more than addressing the disease and health care and financial interventions fully and equitably. Most such as Canada are handing the responsibility of pandemic management to individuals. Very unjust!

I had been handling the conditions of the pandemic fairly well, but emotions were catching up to me in December as I personally began to feel tired and stressed. I started to feel irritable and alarmed. I looked forward to two weekends at home over Christmas and New Years, but the employer wanted me to work on the Saturdays. Saturday being the heaviest work day for me with five hours straight teaching and two hours travel, I had been wanting relief to get a chance to rest and calm down. I ended up taking the Saturday following NY Day off, which certainly helped. I am much better now.

I did not carry through with my usual practice of personal assessment and planning in December as is my habit. I was too agitated. I did not want to reflect on this past year, actually. Not then.

Anyway, there is not any change in my goals. I generally carried through with financial, livelihood, social, family, health and growth goals. However, the social and family goals were frustrated by Covid-19 rules. However, there are elder relatives with multiple health problems whose mental health was being upset by the situation, so I have been visiting with them in cafes and such. They are better now. I have also been aiding an elderly neighbour whose health, already in decline this year, was getting worse partially because of Covid-related restraints. (Her degrading sight and hearing, as well as shaking and loss of balance, caused her to stop driving permanently, and skeletal issues caused her to stop regular exercise. She is worried she will be forced to consider entering a facility while many care homes are in crisis!) My exercise regime was also compromised. The local fitness center remains open but I perceive it as risky, so I do not go there. Aside from some hiking and walking to accomplish transit and errands, I haven't been exercising much until recently. Now I do some yoga, lunging, stretching and weighted arm raises sometimes. I am prevented this week because of an inflammation (hemorrhoid caused by lengthy sitting!).

 One big factor affecting stress and anxiety levels is news reportage. State and private corporate news services, like most enterprises today, try to streamline by relying more on tech and web browsing to find news topics. There are fewer reporters and there is less extended, investigative reporting. For the past decade at least, such services have resorted to "conversational journalism." It is an adjustment to distrust of news and official authorities during a trend of democratization, I feel. However, it tends to keep popularity and viewer or reader stats in mind. Topics can be sensationalized by rehashing events and speculation. Commentators are brought in to discuss as are senior reporters, but the discussion is not very productive in that it does not lead to increased knowledge. Rather, it keeps generating more questions. Conversations often entertain unanswerable questions, particularly because there can be no resolution. They just push the topic and stimulate possible answers to stir up controversy and alarm in order to improve ratings. Pertinent information might be omitted if it actually answers a question. Once audiences abandon a thread, they turn to some other topic and start over. It is really unconscionable because of the innuendo, speculation, rumour, omission, lack of investigation, assumptions and biases.

The COVID coverage is a clear case in point. Partial information is supplied, such as a medical official's announcement that is partly based in some truth. The announcement is questioned. Opponents are recruited to present the false arguments. Sideline topics are raised to create more friction. Proper sources are ignored. Questions are recycled and spin round and round with no conclusion. The affect is understandable: alarm, anxiety, fear, stress, accusations, complaints, etc.

I follow a couple of doctors who produce daily videos to update viewers on scientific developments and explore reasoning behind government and medical decisions regarding the pandemic. I rely on Dr. John Campble and Doctor Moran. Find them on Youtube. Campbell is the most digestable, for he uses plain English, which Moran is more technical. The latter seems to be addressing people in the medical field. By following Campbell, in particular, I can see the gaps in the regional and national news reporting. I can see that they are lagging behind the news by ignoring or failing to search for reliable information.

We're Back

07 January 2021

Apologies to my followers and viewers. You have been very supportive and encouraging for many years. I might have disappointed some of you who were looking for new entries from me. 

Let me explain. VISTAPRINT changed its platform last year. When they did that, the method for making blog entries changed. I had no information from them about what to do. It simply appeared that I know longer had any blogging service. 

However, I just spoke to a VISTAPRINT rep who guided me. I can now write blog entries, as you can see.

It was a strange year all the way around. Things seemed kind of more chaotic than usual. I felt agitated and stressed last month for no definite reason. I had trouble sleeping. I felt exhausted.

My general astrology reading asserted that the pulling away of Jupiter, one of my planets and a very powerful one, from Saturn would make Sagitarians feel exhausted by the end of December. Despite the restrictions imposed because of the pandemic, it does indeed feel like I worked and accomplished a lot (activism, teaching, writing). Things are supposed to get easier for us Sagges. 

There was added stress because of the effects of the pandemic. Not only that but worse, state aggression seemed to increased around the world, causing civilian mass responses. Though I had handled it pretty well until the end of 2020, I guess it finally got to me and I started soaking up some of the stress and anxiety emitting from my region and beyond.

2021 is starting out a bit weird, too. Just look at yesterday's events. U.S. Whitehouse invasion. Solar flare sending rays that caused several storms, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. More lockdowns. 

I wish all my readers well. I will resume entering focused pieces when I have more time. Please stick with me. Thank you for your comments to date.

Ed Wise


15 January 2020