Kanlaon Was Nominated for a Liebster Award!

Self learned of the nomination a month ago, but she was in the midst of returning from Ireland and then setting off for southern California and then setting off for the Squaw Valley Writers Conference.

Nevertheless, here she is now, expressing her appreciation!

Self blogs a lot while traveling.  Because she firmly believes that one of the greatest pleasures of travel is being able to share one’s experiences afterwards.  It’s like re-living the moment, only better because you know you’ve survived the whatever.

So, THANKS THANKS MUCH to the blog Unexpected Wanderlust for the nomination.  Self deeply appreciates the honor.

And here are self’s answers to the questions posed by UW:

What is the most foolish thing you’ve ever done while traveling?

Wow.  This entailed so much reflection because self has done many, many foolish things while traveling.  Two years ago, she decided to join her friends on a bike ride around one of Amsterdam’s outlying islands, even though she hadn’t ridden a bike in almost 20 years.  That day almost killed her.  What’s worse, it made her lose her temper.  And we all know that when one is traveling, losing one’s temper is almost the kiss of death.  Because one should never, ever lose one’s temper in a foreign country.  Self’s just saying.

Who is the person you’ve met while traveling that you wish you could see again?

Another hard one.  OK, this:  the two German girls who accompanied self on the bus ride from the Marco Polo airport in Venice, all the way to the vaporetto in the Rialto.  Self bumped into them again outside the Frari church in Ca’ San Toma.  We had dinner.  Self lost the little notebook where she’d written down the girls’ addresses and e-mails.  She’s pretty sure she’ll never hear from them again.  But she thinks of them pretty often.

Where are you planning on traveling next?

Southern California.

If you had to settle down in one place and never leave it again, where would it be?

Oh gosh, why are all of these questions so hard?  San Luis Obispo, California.  Cambridge, United Kingdom.  Now if self could only find a way to support herself while living in these places . . .

How would you describe the perfect travel companion?

No question:  Son.  He was great.  Always.  Even when self was dragging him through the back alleys of Boracay in a pouring rain, and visibility was just a little above zero, and the water was sloshing up to our knees, and strange unmentionable objects were floating in said water.  He did express disgust (occasionally), but he never once lost his temper.

If you could be fluent in a language other than your mother tongue, which would it be?

Cantonese so that self could bargain in the Hong Kong night markets.  Gaelic because she was just in Ireland.  Spanish because she could read all the archives pertaining to Spain’s colonization of the Philippines.

What is your best travel tip?

Always travel light.  Plan on picking up things you’ll need along the way.  And never tote around more than two books at a time.

Have you ever felt more at home in a place that is away from your actual home?  If so, where?

Yes:  Bacolod City, Negros Occidental (Dear Departed Dad’s hometown)

Where have you had the best meal of your life?

  • The home of Irene Lacson and Zia Islam in Glendale, CA:  a Villanueva reunion in December 2012
  • Tender Greens, Spectrum Centre, Irvine, CA.
  • Van’s, Belmont, CA last January, to celebrate The Man’s birthday

What is the one piece of technology that you can’t live without during your travels?

No question:  Self’s MacBook Air

She’ll list her nominations in a separate post.  Stay tuned.

 

 

 

Between 5: WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

At Vroman’s Bookstore in Pasadena, there were many, many inspirational and self-help books that addressed such subjects as emotional stress, attaining inner peace, etc.  Self would estimate that almost half the store consisted of books aimed at people who wanted to be in a better place –  emotionally, spiritually, mentally, even financially.

And why not?  A majority of the people in the world are trying to get to a better place.  We are all “between,” we are all transitioning.

Here are a few titles from Vroman’s that caught self’s fancy (She wouldn’t have taken pictures of these books if not for this week’s Photo Challenge, so thank you WordPress Daily Post and the Broken Light Collective, who were responsible for coming up with this week’s photo challenge):

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BTW, Vroman’s is a truly great bookstore.

Because not only do they carry books, they carry bling!  Like these house slippers self bought, for $14.99:

"Ballerina Bling" fleece-lined house slippers to prove you're not in Kansas anymore.  $14.99/pair at Vroman's.

“Ballerina Bling” fleece-lined house slippers to prove you’re not in Kansas anymore. $14.99/pair at Vroman’s.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Back to Reading THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

Self is back in Redwood City, California.

Which can only mean two things:

She is back to watching all the episodes she missed of Game of Thrones Season 4 — which she missed because, you know, Ireland.

She is back to perusing The 48 Laws of Power, by brilliant (because-from-Harvard) Professor Robert Greene.

Here, for example, is Law # 14:

Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy

In the realm of power, your goal is a degree of control over future events.  Part of the problem you face, then, is that people won’t tell you all their thoughts, emotions, and plans.  Controlling what they say, they often keep the most critical parts of their character hidden — their weaknesses, ulterior motives, obsessions.  The result is that you cannot predict their moves, and are constantly in the dark.  The trick is to find a way to probe them, to find out their secrets and hidden intentions, without letting them know what you are up to.  (p. 103)

On p. 104, there’s a quote from Arthur Schopenhauer:

If you have reason to suspect that a person is telling you a lie, look as though you believed every word he said.  This will give him courage to go on; he will become more vehement in his assertions, and in the end betray himself.  Again, if you perceive that a person is trying to conceal something from you, but with only partial success, look as though you did not believe him.  The opposition on your part will provoke him into leading out his reserve of truth and bringing the whole force of it to bear upon your incredulity.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

 

 

Law # 13 of Robert Greene’s The 48 Laws of Power

Why, why, why when self has a ga-zillion things on her mind — like leaving the day after tomorrow for London, and figuring out how to use her new external hard drive, and leaving comments on a friend’s book-length short story collection, not to mention poring over those just-so-good-it-hurts Everlark stories on fanfiction.net (the one she’s most obsessed with right now involves Peeta working the Capitol as a male escort while a clue-less Katniss tends to her two children by Gale back in 12) — why, with all of these things going on, does self still feel the nead to reach up to the shelf above her Mac-Mini and pull down The 48 Laws of Power, by Robert Greene?  What could be the reason, what could be the attraction?

Nevertheless, open the book she does, and lands on Law # 13.

Keys to Power:

In your quest for power, you will constantly find yourself in the position of asking for help from those more powerful than you.  There is an art to asking for help, an art that depends on your ability to understand the person you are dealing with and to not confuse your needs with theirs.

Most people never succeed at this, because they are completely trapped in their own wants and desires.  They start from the assumption that the people they are appealing to have a selfless interest in helping them.  They talk as if their needs mattered to these people — who probably couldn’t care less.  Sometimes they refer to larger issues: a great cause, or grand emotions such as love and gratitude.  They go for the big picture when simple, everyday realities would have much more appeal.

(This sounds almost word for word like something one of her Bacolod cousins told her last year.  What very smart relatives self doth have!)

LAW # 13 OF THE 48 LAWS OF POWER:  SELF-INTEREST IS THE LEVER THAT WILL MOVE PEOPLE.

STOP BEING LIKE THE ATHENIANS, WHO THOUGHT THEIR WONDERFUL IDEALS OF DEMOCRACY WOULD SAVE THE WORLD FROM BARBARISM. INSTEAD, BE LIKE THE SPARTANS, WHO KNEW ONLY BODIES HOTTER THAN THEIR OWN COULD RULE THE UNIVERSE.

What, what, what is self saying.

Time to go to bed.

Stay tuned.

 

The Meaning of “Scarcity”

Last month, when self was visiting son and Jennie in Claremont, she got to sit in on a panel sponsored by Women in Business.  The speakers, all of them, were great.  At the end of the afternoon, every participant was given the choice of one of three free books.

The one self chose was Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead, by Brené Brown.

Chapter 1 is on “Scarcity” (Honestly, you’d think self would have gotten farther than that by now.  Note to Self:  quit reading fanfiction!

There are three components to scarcity and how our culture perceives it:

  1. Shame:  Is fear of ridicule and Read the rest of this entry »

Buddha Mind

This afternoon is self’s Vinyasa Flow class.

It is soooo relaxing.

Self has been pondering taking a course on Buddhism.

For, as Japanese sage Hakuin Ekaku (1685 – 1768) once said:

To study Buddhism is to study yourself.  To study yourself is to forget yourself in each moment.  Then everything will come and help you.  Everything will ensure your enlightenment.

–  Nakahara Nantenbo (1839 – 1925)

She did actually ponder learning more about Buddhism, but there are so many things going on in her life at the moment.

Dear Departed Sister-in-Law Ying was a Buddhist, and a gentler soul never lived.  When she died in Tel Aviv, in 2008, self was heartbroken.  Her ashes are in the family crypt in Manila, but some are in a temple in Bangkok, per her instructions.

Ying!  She was so proud of self that she would carry around a copy of self’s books, and when people would ask what she was reading, she would show them.

Now that self is contemplating the Buddhism thing, she also remembers hearing about Shari Epstein, a former classmate at Stanford, who was said to have founded a city on the northern California coast.  A Buddhist, peaceful city.  What was its name?  Drat self and her horrible memory.  The City of 10,000 Buddhas?  Something like that?  In Ukiah?

She recalls, too, a teacher named David Nivison (whose books are all available on Amazon) who taught a class called Zen and Nothingness.  Can you believe actually taking a class like that?  Self recalls the first day:  there we were, Chinese Studies and Asian Languages students, scattered around the small classroom.  The professor enters:  a very very tall and a very very skinny man.  Without preamble, he opens his mouth and begins the lecture.

We students look at each other in dismay.  The teacher’s mouth is moving, but no one can hear anything.  Slowly — and as surreptitiously as possible — a few students begin moving closer to the front of the classroom.  By the end of that quarter, this is how the chairs were arranged:  Prof. Nivison seated at his desk facing the class, and all our chairs circled around his desk, some even touching the desk, and everyone straining their darndest to make sense out of this Zen and Nothingness which — don’t ask self to explain the concept, it’s something like the sound of one hand clapping.  She knows there was a midterm and a final, and she passed both. But she has no idea what she wrote, what she filled her Blue Book with. Her grade, she recalls, was a B.  Which was extremely kind of Prof. Nivison.

Back to the Buddha Mind!

When we are trying to be active and special and to accomplish something, we cannot express ourselves.  Small self will be expressed, but big self will not appear from the emptiness.  From the emptiness only great self appears.

Now synapses are firing like crazy in self’s brain, for she remembers the Abnegation faction in Divergent, which she made yet another attempt to read last night, before giving up and going back to re-reading Mockingjay.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Most Irresistible Quote of the Day 2: From The Lizard Queen @GrinningDuchess

Substituting one thing with another that’s just as bad isn’t the same thing as quitting or letting go. –  @GrinningDuchess, Twitter

Amen, @GrinningDuchess.  Amen.

Most Irresistible Quote of the Day

Not to know is bad.  Not to wish to know is worse. –  Nigerian Proverb

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From the Long-Unheard From (Robert Greene)

The 48 Laws of Power is such an entertaining book!

Whenever self is desperate for a pick-me-up, she lets the book fall open on a random page.

Tonight she lands on Law # 3, p. 19

At the top of the page is a quote from that most learned Jesuit, Baltasar Gracian (1601 – 1658)

Do not be held a cheat, even though it is impossible to live today without being one.  Let your greatest cunning lie in covering up what looks like cunning.

Ugh.

Then self starts to ponder:  what if the shoe were on the other foot?  What if you looked at someone and thought: You are cunning, but I’m on to you.  You think I’m stupid, but I know you’re a cheat.

It truly is exhausting to be cunning.

Whereas, to be able to detect cunning is not only relaxing, it is empowering.  Because it makes you feel absolutely brilliant. Like Sherlock Holmes 3.0.  Especially if you happen to just stumble across the revelation.  While frosting a cake, say.  Draped in an apron.

Self wishes the part that spells out “Observance of the Law” weren’t about 1850 and the young Otto von Bismarck, about the unification of the German states, about the war against Austria, about speechifying.

Self turns the page.  Apparently, von Bismarck came out as a peace advocate, addressing the German parliament and urging it not to declare war against its neighbor.  Then, as soon as he was appointed a member of the cabinet, he goaded a peace-loving king into war with Austria, “crushing the former empire and establishing a mighty German state.”

Interpretation of the Law:  “By being completely insincere and sending misleading signals, however, he deceived everyone, concealed his purpose, and attained everything he wanted.”

But what if you don’t know what you want, and advocate one course of action, but subconsciously want the opposite, and then things just turn out right by sheer coincidence?  Like, what if you’re not insincere, just confused?  And what if things turn out right because you’re lucky, but people think it was because you were insincere?

Just try wrapping your head around that one for a minute!

How did that song from Queen go?

Mama Mia, Mama Mia, Bee-yehl-ze-bub has a devil put aside for me.  For meeeeee!!!  For ME!!!!!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Week Before AWP Exhaustion and Self Is Already Exhausted

So, what better way to lose herself for a few minutes, or even an hour, than in reading Hunger Games fanfiction?  She found a really good one today.  Dear blog readers will probably laugh but it is no joke:  one of self’s bookmarked sites is Mockingjay.net.

No, self will not go there.

Instead, she continues with Divergent.  Because the movie — well, the movie stars Shailene Woodley.  And self loves Shailene Woodley.  She’s loved her ever since The Descendants.

These are the young actresses self particularly loves:  Jennifer Lawrence, Anna Kendrick, Emily Blunt (well, she’s a bit older; still, self loves her), Jena Malone and Shailene Woodley.  Oh!  She also likes Felicity Jones.  She liked Natalie Mendoza in The Descent.  She likes Lilly Collins. And Lupita Nyong’o who was absolutely incandescent in 12 Years a Slave.

Where were we?

Oh yes, Divergent.

On p. 33, self finds out a little bit more about the world of the book:

The narrator’s father has returned from a hard day at work.  He is some kind of political leader.

The narrator explains:

The city is ruled by a council of fifty people, composed entirely of representatives from Abnegation, because our faction is regarded as incorruptible, due to our commitment to selflessness.  Our leaders are selected by their peers for their impeccable character, moral fortitude, and leadership skills. Representatives from each of the other factions can speak in the meetings on behalf of a particular issue, but ultimately, the decision is the council’s . . .  It has been that way since the beginning of the great peace, when the factions were formed.  I think the system persists because we’re afraid of what might happen if it didn’t:  war.

Self loses herself in conjecture.  To tell the truth, self belongs in a faction like Abnegation.  But she longs to break out of it because it is just, so, so — limp. For instance, p. 34:  “We aren’t supposed to speak at the dinner table unless our parents ask us a direct question, and they usually don’t.”

Members of Abnegation must be humble and self-effacing all the time.  They must not take pride in their looks or in their character or in their intelligence or in their creativity.

What. A. Terrible. Way. To. Be.

Self knows, because she spent — oh, about 80% of her life doing all those self-abnegating things.  And it did her not. One. Bit. Of. Good.

Until self suddenly had this mind-blowing revelation, courtesy of Manang Marilou of Bacolod:  Nobody cares if you are miserable.  So you might as well be happy.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

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