2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 2,500 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 42 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

On Making Science Interesting, The “Curse of Knowledge” and The Myth of “Dumbing Down” (A Letter to My Co-Fellows)

Dear Co-Fellows:

I believe that we are all like 13 year olds learning a new and difficult topic, especially in a challenging field as rheumatology. And sometimes, we have been told not to be “too basic” or “too elementary” in our explanations; that we should use the scientific language to speak and explain…

I beg to differ. I believe that we should simplify as much as we can to the point of telling stories or simple analogies.

I’ve been reading a book called Made to Stick and it has helped me a lot. I will share some concepts to you when we have free time. I shared one this morning, about the “Curse of Knowledge.” It simply means that once we have become knowledgeable about a certain topic, we tend to forget how we learned it (whether it was the hard way or the easy way), and sometimes, we find it hard to understand why people don’t understand what we talk about (when it seems soooo easy to us). I am guilty of this curse, especially on the technical, geeky stuff. A lot of times I find it hard to understand why people can’t understand these stuff (like, why Ken can’t get the concept of Cloud-based files storage like Dropbox. Hehe). That is my “Curse of Knowledge.” What I “hear” in my brain, and the cadence by which I hear it is not the same as what Ken “hears” or how fast he “hears” it. I need to simplify (mistakenly perceived by others as “dumbing down”) so that people can understand.

The book I am reading, Made to Stick taught me the principle of accuracy vs accessibility when teaching. Let me share this brief excerpt:

“We discussed the Curse of Knowledge in the introduction—the difficulty of remembering what it was like not to know something. Accuracy to the point of uselessness is a symptom of the Curse of Knowledge. To a CEO, “maximizing shareholder value” may be an immensely useful rule of behavior. To a flight attendant, it’s not. To a physicist, probability clouds are fascinating phenomena. To a child, they are incomprehensible.

People are tempted to tell you everything, with perfect accuracy, right up front, when they should be giving you just enough info to be useful, then a little more, then a little more.”(Excerpt From: Heath, Chip. “Made to Stick.” Random House Publishing Group, 2008. iBooks.)

Also, watching this 11 minute TED video by Tyler DeWitt awhile ago, inspired me once more, to overcome this “Curse of Knowledge”  and shy away from the myth of “Dumbing Down” and be able to teach in a simple way. I hope you too will find it useful as we become educators in the near future 🙂

Here’s the video: 

Enjoy guys 🙂

Regards,

Allan

When The Current Situation is Less Than Ideal

 

These are tough days. From reports of international terrorism, to the local corruption that plagues every aspect of our government. We blame the government, we blame each other, and at times we blame (or question) God. How could He allow such atrocities and injustices to happen? And we ask ourselves: Shouldn’t we unite, arise and fight?

Yesterday’s devotional reading of Jeremiah Chapter 29 gave me an important insight. Jeremiah was a prophet at the time of the Babylonian exile of the Israelites. He is the modern-day equivalent of priests or pastors.

There are times when our situation will be less than ideal, and God may have brought us to a place of discomfort or we may be away from our friends and relatives or the government may be bad or oppressive.

But He says that He know the plans He has for us. And that these are plans for our good and not for disaster (29:11). No matter how bad looking it might seem at the outset, no matter how long the trouble, God wants us to trust that He knows what He is doing, and what He is doing is and will always be for our own good. We need to pray and seek Him out continually (29:12) because if we do, with all our hearts, humbly and without presuppositions and presumptions, He will hear us and we will find that He has been behind every nook and turn all along (29:13). The sufferings will pass. The troubles will be replaced with peace. He will bring joy and comfort to us.

And what is our role? Our role is to be still before Him and pray. In Jeremiah Chapter 29, Jeremiah wrote the exiles in Babylon, urging them not to defer their lives. He asked them to make the most out of their time in Babylon. God’s instruction for everyone was to build homes, plan to stay. There were no instructions about fighting the government, about packing their bags and making an escape back to their hometown. No! They were asked to stay, marry, have children, find spouses for their children, multiply. They were not urged to take arms against the city they were exiled into. They were not asked to form militant groups and rally in front of the king. And mindful of the history of the Babylonian empire, it wasn’t easy for them to do this. This was a foreign land. The Temple which was very dear to them as nowhere. They have a pagan king. The food was different, the culture miles apart from the kind they grew up with. It was hard adaptation. But God asked them to stay and make the most out of their time for the next 70 years. That’s an entire lifetime. And not just that. He asked them to “work for the peace and prosperity of the city where they were sent into exile. (29:7 NLT)” God asked them to “Seek the welfare of the city…and pray on its behalf; for in its welfare (you) will have welfare. (29:8 NASB).

Sometimes, we squirm at the slightest inconvenience when God brings us somewhere beyond our comfort zone. It may be a new responsibility under an unforgiving, demanding boss. It may be relationship that has gone sour and unexciting. Or it may be a love that has yet to arrive. It may be being governed by people who take your money and spend it lavishly to provide for themselves and their families comforts unimaginable even for ancient kings. It may be a place of work and being with a group of people who don’t share your views or principles and keep you in isolation. It may be being far away from family and friends, in a country with a different language and culture. It may be religious oppression and non-tolerance.

In all these situations, God asks us NOT to postpone and defer our lives until the problems end. He wants us to keep plodding on through the situation we are in, making the most out of the situation, while also seeking His heart and His will in the process. He wants us to trust Him, that no matter how grim the situation or seeming prognosis, everything will be all right in the end. His plans are meant for our good. And yes, that includes the injustices and oppression around us. I feel sad when I see leaders, including church leaders urging people to fight the government, as if that was what God inspired their hearts to do. For me, it betrays a lack of understanding of Scripture, and an empty hollow faith, a lack of trust in the Sovereign power of God. Instead of rallying, demonstrating and hitting back, His Word tells us to respect the all governing authority (yes, the government and yes, our bad bosses), because all authority comes from Him and those in positions of authority have been placed there by Him. (Romans 13:1-2 NLT). He even goes to say that “anyone who rebels against authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and they will be punished.” (13:3 NLT). This was written by St Paul, who was then, a prisoner of the Romans. He urged his people to obey the same authorities who shackled him and who were about to execute him.

God wants us to pray for our situation, for the welfare of the people who lord it over us, for the unpleasant people who annoy us, for our places of work and residence. We are to pray for it/them, as their welfare will determine our welfare.

At the end of the reading is a beautiful promise. “I will bring you back again,” the Lord said about His exiled people. God will restore peace, justice and prosperity again.

We need only to be still before Him.

 

Undulating and Flexing

A sad but true article about the current troubles in Iraq…

The Hormonal Endocrinologist

The You Version Bible App’s Life Journal Plan was designed as a guide for the user to be able to go through the New Testament twice and the Old Testament once within a year’s time.

Allan got us synced on it, and now we’ve gone through Zephanaiah, Jeremiah, and the history of the Israelites’ struggles against the Assyrian and Babylonian empires.

A noticable pattern appears throughout the lives of some of our Old Testament heroes and the chosen people as a whole – that of running to God and then running away from Him to go back to the idols they have created. The attraction being that these false gods and idols are controllable (the alternative true God is of course, above and beyond us). These “gods” allowed all sorts of perversions that catered to the flesh – sex worship (the Asherah poles) and child sacrifices (to the god Molech)…

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Screwtape Proposes a Toast

One of my classic favorite reads 🙂

Screwtape

[Ed. Note: Here’s a little “diabolical ventriloquism” from C. S. Lewis. He means to have some tongue-in-cheek fun with modern-day educrats. What he ends giving us is a devastating critique of public “education,” “democracy,” culture — and ever so MUCH more than that…. I hope you’ll all enjoy figuring out what’s really going on here. — bb.]

Screwtape Proposes a Toast

(The scene is in Hell at the annual dinner of the Tempters’ Training College for young devils. The principal, Dr. Slubgob, has just proposed the health of the guests. Screwtape, a very experienced devil, who is the guest of honour, rises to reply:)

It is customary on these occasions for the speaker to address himself chiefly to those among you who have just graduated and who will very soon be posted to official Tempterships on Earth. It is a custom I willingly obey. I well remember with what trepidation…

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Dear Yuri

Dear Yuri…

Dad buried you today.

You are at rest now. Sleeping in a tomb at our backyard. We all wanted your final resting place to be here. At our home. Where you belong.

It will never be the same without you.

It is a moment of deep grief for the family. I don’t think we’ll ever stop grieving. Mom and Dad will surely miss you. So will Manang. They were your constant companions. You kept them company, you made them happy while Yen and I are away. You were their baby. They adored you, as parents adore their children. You took away the loneliness, the boredom, the pain of an empty nest.

At 2 years old…

Your 4th Christmas

You were Mom’s bestfriend and partner. You two always spent time together, perhaps even more than she and Dad did. When she read, you sat at her lap and kissed her. When she ate, you stayed beside her and asked to be fed (I still remember how you wanted to be fed with a spoon and how you would drink from our cups). When she retired for the night, and you’re still busy catching mice and insects, you stopped your activity (even when we knew you were still brimming with energy), and walked beside her to bed. When she needed to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night, you woke up and accompanied her, and oftentimes, relieved yourself too. And when she woke up so early in the morning to prepare the family’s breakfast, there you were again, waking up so early too, with tired and sleepy eyes still, sitting at her foot, keeping her company.

The Bunso of the Corpuz family

You and Mom were always together

You were less than a foot tall but your love was tall and mighty and faithful.

It has been said that it is wrong to humanize a dog. Because they are not our equals. I really don’t care. We felt that you were one of us, no matter how crazy that would sound. Many times, you acted like a real person. When we talked to you, you seemed to understand. I would even go as far to say that you are even more human than some people I know. You loved unconditionally. You never held a grudge. You never took it against us when we cannot bring you to church or to the mall. Not because you don’t care. In fact, it was painful to see your sad eyes looking through the balcony everytime the car left. We knew you wanted to be part of every trip but you just keep looking and waiting everytime we left and then greet us with so much joy and anticipation everytime we arrived. You drag your feeding plate near the dining table when we eat, because like true family, you want to dine with us, be with us. You watch TV with us, hear our never-ending stories, keep us warm through the night, then wake us up with warm kisses.

I find it hard to say goodbye. A big part of me doesn’t want to let go.

The last time I saw you was the month of May. I took your photograph, not knowing it would be the last one I’d take. Your skin was so shiny, newly grown, after you had your seasonal hair loss in March and April. Your eyes were glowing and happy. When we arrived, you danced and jumped and rolled around the sofa, like a exuberant child who had just seen his longtime bestfriend. You always loved to be hugged, and we did hug. I only regret that I didn’t hold you more that summer. I didn’t know you’d be gone too soon. It pains me, but the memory of that short span of time we were together is the only thing that brings me comfort right now. It is so painful, dear friend. The pain of your passing rips my heart apart.

This was your last photograph… I didn’t even get to say goodbye…

You always loved to kiss Hannah

You left us so soon. So suddenly. Somehow I would like to say it’s unfair. I knew that one day you’d be gone… I just didn’t expect it would be this way, this early.

Will we ever see you again?

I do not know if we’ll ever meet again in the afterlife. I have no idea if we’ll ever get to touch you again someday. They say only humans have souls. I would like to believe you have your own spirit. I really don’t know… But one thing I know – God is good. He gives and He takes away. And even if we are at loss for words with your untimely death, we still bless His name. We celebrate your life more than we mourn your death. If you could speak to us, we feel you would have wanted it to be that way also. You would have barked and yelped and wagged your tail in delight if you could understand all these.

You are forever loved

So farewell our dear friend, companion, and bunso. Goodbye Yuri. It’s been an amazing 7 years. You will forever hold a special place in our hearts. We pray that God will fill the gaping hole that was left with your passing, with his peace and comfort.

Sleep now in peace.

Sleep in peace…. Thank you for the wonderful 7 years!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Always Late? How To Be On Time — For Real

I found this article very helpful. Especially for people like me who are always late 🙂

TIME

Before writing her book, Never Be Late Again, management consultant Diana DeLonzor was always, always late. “It didn’t matter what time I got up. I could get up at six and still be late for work at nine,” she recalls. She was reprimanded at work, lost friendships, and her timely husband was always mad at her. She couldn’t stand being late, yet she just couldn’t change.RELATED: Are Your Habits Bad for Beauty? “Most people really hate being late and have tried many times to fix it,” DeLonzor says. “Punctual people misunderstand. They think you’re doing it as a control thing, or that you’re selfish or inconsiderate. But, it really is a much more complex problem than it seems.”In a study she led at San Francisco State University of 225 people, she found that about 17 percent were chronically late. Among them, there were clear patterns. Late people tended…

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You’ll Get Through This

The Survivors’ Creed (Max Lucado)
I will get through this.
It won’t be painless. It won’t be quick.
But God will use this mess for good.
In the meantime, don’t be foolish or naive.
But don’t despair either.
With God’s help, I will get through this.

These words were inspired from Max Lucado’s new book and DVD series, “You’ll Get Through This.” I found a link to the first video while I was going through Twitter. The video was about the story of Joseph, how he struggled early in his life but never developed bitterness about the difficulties he went through or against the very people he called brothers who sold him to slavery. Max had wonderful insights about the story. He mentions about how the brothers threw Joseph into a pit and ate afterwards as if nothing happened. He talked about how, in the end, they realized how merciless they were, seeing the pleading in Joseph’s eyes and ignoring it nevertheless. But even as Joseph rose from one position to another, only to be beset by new difficulties, he still continued to look up to God. He never lost sight of God and therefore, was never bitter.

Max said that the story of Joseph was in the Bible to teach us that God trumps evil in the world. And there are times when we feel that he doesn’t care about our situation or that he is taking His time. God may take His time but He never wastes our time. In the midst of His apparent silence, He works in us and through us to mold us and prepare us for greater things. We may feel at times that the situation is hopeless and unfair, and that we seem to be assigned to a curriculum we didn’t sign up for. But God, in His great wisdom put us there for a reason. He wants us to learn something. Like Joseph whom He prepared for the biggest task of all which is saving the ancient world from the most devastating famine ever known in the history of mankind, He prepares each one of us for a bigger task, which may be unknown or unfathomable by us at present. We just have to trust that whatever difficulty we are in at the moment, with God’s help, we will get through it. God is in the business of getting His people through all kinds of situations. Getting through the Red Sea, through the fire, through the wilderness, even through crucifixions. And while we are in the toughest situation which makes us sitting ducks for stupid decisions, we should keep hanging on to Him until He gets us safely across.

Thrown into the pit by his brothers, abandoned and rejected – Joseph never failed to lose sight of the fact that he was God’s child. And having experienced a tough day myself today, I felt a small fraction of what Joseph felt back then. But the good thing about being in a pit, dark, damp and cold as it is – is that there is only one way to look, and that is up. Up to the one who holds our future, all our hopes, dreams and aspirations. And as Max said at the closing of his video, the God who pulled Joseph out of the pit and made him the prince of the palace, is the same God who reaches to each one of us right now in our time of despair.

Champions at Heart

Heartbreaking day…

Today, experience was overcome by youth… Age fell to athleticism…

The Spurs fell after a valiant effort to a younger Heat team…

They fell fighting to the very end…with a lot of pride and a lot of fight. They pushed youth and talent to their limits and even almost snatched a victory, had it not been for late game defense lapses.

I feel for Tim And Manu. At the twilight of their careers, they deserve a better send-off. These are good guys, on and off the court. Especially Tim, who has been the franchise’s cornerstone, someone who elected to be loyal to the team, even to the point of taking less money, so that his small market team can afford to rebuild. He never sought the limelight, though he was always a real star at heart, playing consistent top level games day in and day out for the past 16years. He had the chance to leave for bigger money in 2000, yet he elected to stay, while the Spurs attempted to rebuild around him, not through buying free agents, but through painstaking player development and good scouting of potential draft picks.

For all these, and for his efforts in the NBA Finals, especially in the final 2 games where he led the team in scoring and rebounds, a championship would have been a fitting final stamp to his Hall of Fame career.

I’ve always been a loyal Spurs fan, from the time Duncan was drafted in 1997, actually even from the time of David Robinson. I admire their classiness, the way they play beautiful fundamental basketball, their consistency, the way the organization and the players are loyal to each other, their demeanor during games, where there isn’t much hype, chest pumping, courtside strutting, trash-talking, or arrogant behavior, and their commitment to real community service. They win the hard way, with the belief that winning is not supposed to be easy, hence they treat each opponent with utmost respect. They never swing elbows. They don’t complain about team mates or salaries. They don’t get coaches fired. They model humility and grace. As Max Lucado would say, “They were classy, not sassy.”

Because of these attributes, most people find them boring.

We think otherwise.

For the past 4 Championships, we, the Spurs fans have celebrated because of these things our team has stood for, all these years. The Spurs winning made us feel that one does not have to be “big” to win. One doesn’t have to be arrogant or demanding to be able to take the big stage. The Spurs showed that players don’t have to be cheap or dirty to be effective. All through the Tim Duncan years, they have followed David Robinson, who, “never felt a need to bring attention to himself, to shimmy after a good play or point to the crowd, as if to say, “Look at me. Aren’t I something special?“” For all those years, “goodness” won. Decency and humility won.
Everybody won.

The Spurs may have lost today. But i believe, they have won everyone’s respect. From their opponents, to their haters to the loyal fans. For me, devastating day as it is, that is somewhat a consolation.

As my pal and fellow long-time Spurs fan, Dan Hernandez said, we have loved the Spurs since Ginobili still had long hair, and past that. And we will always do. Win or lose, we believe in them. We will continue to watch them play, and stay on, even when they are on the losing end.

They may not have been crowned as champions today. But for an ever-loyal fan like me, they are, and will always be.

Mitch Albom’s “The Time Keeper”

I read Mitch Albom’s latest novel, “The Time Keeper” tonight. It was so good, so heart-wrenching that I read it from cover to cover starting at 11pm to 2 am. And I learned a lot of life lessons. I will write about them soon. For tonight’s entry, i would just like to say that I found myself re-evaluating the way I deal with things in my life. Many times I lose a sense of awe about events, moments with loved ones and friends because i am so busy counting time, thinking that I have so little of it to spare. And when I do so, i fail to savor the moment and get lost in numericals. The book exposed that in me and made me realize that for me to truly live, i would have to forget about keeping count and just enjoy each minute as God gives me.

It’s an excellent book. I highly recommend it.