30 June 2014

how to live a life without regrets

You regret most what you never tried, one in four homeowners feel buyers' remorse, and women seem to have more regrets than men do.  Happify explains why and shares some other interesting factoids about regret.  Here's to letting go of regret for good.

23 June 2014

a speech to fire you up

This speech was delivered in 2008, but it remains as relevant and powerful as ever.  Enjoy.

Life and How to Survive It
by Adrian Tan

I must say thank you to the faculty and staff of the Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information for inviting me to give your convocation address. It’s a wonderful honour and a privilege for me to speak here for ten minutes without fear of contradiction, defamation or retaliation. I say this as a Singaporean and more so as a husband.

My wife is a wonderful person and perfect in every way except one. She is the editor of a magazine. She corrects people for a living. She has honed her expert skills over a quarter of a century, mostly by practising at home during conversations between her and me.

On the other hand, I am a litigator. Essentially, I spend my day telling people how wrong they are. I make my living being disagreeable.

Nevertheless, there is perfect harmony in our matrimonial home. That is because when an editor and a litigator have an argument, the one who triumphs is always the wife.

And so I want to start by giving one piece of advice to the men: when you’ve already won her heart, you don’t need to win every argument.

Marriage is considered one milestone of life. Some of you may already be married. Some of you may never be married. Some of you will be married. Some of you will enjoy the experience so much, you will be married many, many times. Good for you.

The next big milestone in your life is today: your graduation. The end of education. You’re done learning.

You’ve probably been told the big lie that “Learning is a lifelong process” and that therefore you will continue studying and taking masters’ degrees and doctorates and professorships and so on. You know the sort of people who tell you that? Teachers. Don’t you think there is some measure of conflict of interest? They are in the business of learning, after all. Where would they be without you? They need you to be repeat customers.

The good news is that they’re wrong.

17 June 2014

copacabana, bolivia

When you think of "Copacabana," you might think of a lady with a fruit basket on her head, but that isn't quite what you'll find here.

Continuing on our journey, we passed some naturally rainbow-colored stone:

Some grazing donkeys:

And lots of winding roads.  It almost seemed like the land went from color to black-and-white for a while.

And then we were back to the vibrant green:

We didn't get to stop for the Poncho Museum, but it's pretty neat that it exists:

And then, without warning, we were suddenly barreling down the main street of Copacabana:

We started walking towards Lake Titicaca and our little hotel:

We found our hotel, which we thought was pretty nice for about $25 a night:

Especially with this view of Lake Titicaca:

We dropped off our stuff and enjoyed the festive Carnival atmosphere as we walked around town:

Notice all of the confetti carpeting the stairs:

Even the taxis were ready to party:

The beauty of traveling in Bolivia is that people dress the same way whether it's for a parade or just because it's a normal day.  The cholita outfit has probably remained more or less the same for centuries, and it's awesome: the bowler hats, the full and ruffled skirts, the elaborate shawls, the bright aguayo cloth tied around the back, the long braids...

You'll notice lots of potatoes, too, and Bolivians are proud to tell you this is where potatoes originated and that there are thousands of different kinds of potatoes in the country.

But this is getting long, so I'll stop here.

Next up: Lake Titicaca's Isla del Sol.

13 June 2014

happy dads

Happy Father's Day weekend!  Here's some information showing that fathers seem happier and healthier than men without kids:

Infographic: What You Need to Know About Dads and Happiness

09 June 2014

a nice reminder

I've seen this before, but it just seems like a nice reminder.  Enjoy.

The Paradoxical Commandments
by Dr. Kent M. Keith

People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered.
Love them anyway.

If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.
Do good anyway.

If you are successful, you will win false friends and true enemies.
Succeed anyway.

The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.
Do good anyway.

Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.
Be honest and frank anyway.

The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds.
Think big anyway.

People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs.
Fight for a few underdogs anyway.

What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.
Build anyway.

People really need help but may attack you if you do help them.
Help people anyway.

Give the world the best you have and you'll get kicked in the teeth.
Give the world the best you have anyway.

05 June 2014

the journey to copacabana, bolivia

So, it's officially been ages since I posted about my travels, and I'm finally catching my breath to continue, so back to Bolivia we go!

We took a bus from La Paz, the capital, to Copacabana, a town on the coast of Lake Titicaca, where my partner was baptized.

The story here is that my partner's mom grew up loving the beach as a California girl, and when she and her Bolivian husband (my partner's father) decided to move to Bolivia to raise their kids, the plan was to move to Lake Titicaca (the biggest lake in South America, partly in Bolivia and partly in Peru).

They packed water toys, safety vests, etc. in anticipation of lots of lake-time fun.  Unfortunately, they didn't research the schools until they got there and found them dismally inadequate, so they ended up moving to Cochabamba instead (which was smack in the middle of the land-locked country).

The happy ending here is that once the kids left for college, they ended up moving to the beach in Mexico, so she got her beachfront house after all.  And my partner was baptized in the Copacabana church before they left, so it was neat to see it as a piece of his life history.

I'm getting ahead of myself, though, so let's get back to this bus journey.

So, we left bustling, crowded La Paz and headed west towards Lake Titicaca.

I loved passing little towns and found the sky in Bolivia to be particularly beautiful.

We passed some picturesque soccer fields as we drove along the coast of Lake Titicaca.  Imagine playing on one of these fields every day...

Then, we reached the Estrecho de Tiquina (the Strait of Tiquina).

And paid for the smallest tickets ever.

We then walked around a bit while waiting and came across a monument you probably wouldn't see in the States.

 Our bus boarded a raft, and we boarded a little boat.

We watched our bus sail across the strait on the Tornado behind us:

We landed first and walked around a little while waiting for the bus to catch up:

Finally, the bus arrived.

And we were back on the road on our way to Copacabana.  You'll notice that the bus is decked out with flowers and streamers.  Carnival in Bolivia is amazing-- even the buses and taxis get to celebrate.  I've never been a parade person, but when you go to Oruro for Carnival, prepare to have your mind blown.

Next up: Copacabana.

02 June 2014

6 things the most productive people do every day

This is a super long post, but a super useful one.  Here's how to be more productive, starting right now!  From Barking Up the Wrong Tree.

6 Things The Most Productive People Do Every Day

Jun 01, 2014 01:35 pm | Eric Barker

Ever feel like you’re just not getting enough done?
Know how many days per week you’re actually productive?
People work an average of 45 hours a week; they consider about 17 of those hours to be unproductive (U.S.: 45 hours a week; 16 hours are considered unproductive).
We could all be accomplishing a lot more — but then again, none of us wants to be a workaholic either.
It’d be great to get tons done and have work/life balance. But how do we do that? I decided to get some answers.
And who better to ask than Tim Ferriss, author of the international bestseller, The 4-Hour Workweek?
(Tim’s blog is here and his podcast is here.)
Below are six tips Tim offered, the science behind why they work, and insight from the most productive people around.

1) Manage Your Mood

Most productivity systems act like we’re robots – they forget the enormous power of feelings.
If you start the day calm it’s easy to get the right things done and focus.
But when we wake up and the fray is already upon us — phone ringing, emails coming in, fire alarms going off — you spend the whole day reacting.
This means you’re not in the driver’s seat working on your priorities, you’re responding to what gets thrown at you, important or not.
Here’s Tim:
I try to have the first 80 to 90 minutes of my day vary as little as possible. I think that a routine is necessary to feel in control and non-reactive, which reduces anxiety. It therefore also makes you more productive.
Research shows how you start the day has an enormous effect on productivity and you procrastinate more when you’re in a bad mood.
Studies demonstrate happiness increases productivity and makes you more successful.
As Shawn Achor describes in his book The Happiness Advantage:
…doctors put in a positive mood before making a diagnosis show almost three times more intelligence and creativity than doctors in a neutral state, and they make accurate diagnoses 19 percent faster. Optimistic salespeople outsell their pessimistic counterparts by 56 percent. Students primed to feel happy before taking math achievement tests far outperform their neutral peers. It turns out that our brains are literally hardwired to perform at their best not when they are negative or even neutral, but when they are positive.
So think a little less about managing the work and a little more about managing your moods. 
(For more on how to be happier, go here.)
So what’s the first step to managing your mood after you wake up?

2) Don’t Check Email In The Morning

To some people this is utter heresy. Many can’t imagine not waking up and immediately checking email or social media feeds.