Archive for July, 2007

8 Factoids

July 29, 2007

Got tagged by Sparks to reveal 8 facts about myself. I’d like to think that I’m a very private person and I wouldn’t normally divulge boring personal information on the big bad web, but I’ll make an exception this time. As I quote Sparks, it should be fun. Here goes.

Here are the rules for “8 facts”:

1.)In the 8 facts about [name], you share 8 things that your readers don’t know about you. At the end, you tag 8 other bloggers to keep the fun going. Each blogger must post these rules first.
2.) Each blogger starts with eight random facts/habits about themselves.
3.) At the end of the post, a blogger needs to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names.
4.) Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged, and to read your blog.

1. I absolutely loathe eggs. I wouldn’t touch those gross things even if my life depended on it. However, if push came to shove, I’d eat egg whites, but I would never eat the yolk, even if you paid me.

2. I give good massages….deep, hard and strong ones. I particularly love to give foot massages. I’m a self-taught masseuse; I just read this free Body Shop booklet on reflexology from cover to cover and then I started practicing on my family and friends. Because of my fantastic massage skills, to date I have gotten a marriage proposal, a free dinner, a designer Italian bag and friends for life.

3. I still get ID’d all the time. In fact, last night I was denied entrance at a bar since I couldn’t produce any identification with my birthdate on it. My friend came to rescue me and tried to plead with the bouncer to let me in. She told him Come on, she doesn’t look 18. He turned to her and said Yes, she does. Boo.

4. I just recently discovered that I love cleaning. Cleaning is pure bliss. It’s a powerful cathartic exercise for me, an outlet to release my pent-up frustration. It’s also a good way to de-stress. Cleaning makes me feel responsible. Seeing my room and house clean and organized gives me an incredible sense of gratification.

5. I can fall asleep anywhere. Well, almost anywhere. I’ve already slept in public parks (on the grass and on benches), train platforms, airports, weird shaped couches and hospital waiting rooms. I seem to be lulled to sleep more quickly though whenever I’m in a moving vehicle.

6. I hate birds very much. I mean, I’m a big fan of cooked birds but I don’t like seeing real live ones. I hate the way they look. I hate their stupid beaks and their stupid claws. They make gratingly annoying sounds. Their eyes bespeak of evil and their wattles are revolting. Birds might be the progeny of Satan. My greatest fear is that one day some bird will stab me with its beak and claw me to death. This macabre vision is probably the result of having seen Hitchcock’s The Birds at a tender young age.

7. I am an undisputed senti music guru. I know that Christopher Cross sang Arthur’s Theme (When you get stuck between the moon and New York City…) and that Simply Jessie is the title of the song with the opening line And I don’t know how I knew it/but I knew it somehow…I can confidently claim that I know all of the songs on heavy rotation at WRock 96.3 and The Mellow Touch 94.7. Who dares challenge me?!

8. Back in HS, I wasn’t able to attend a single soirée. My friend tells me that I didn’t miss much anyway. She says soirées are just like the peahen-peacock mating ritual, only with humans.

I’m tagging:

allan, blossom, erika, rhoda, marian, rio, kaye, vito

Advertisements

Eight Steps Towards a More Satisfying Life

July 26, 2007

Two years ago, Time Magazine did a special feature on “The New Science of Happiness”. It was basically a lengthy article with lots of breakthrough findings on happiness research, and it also included graphs indicating the happiness index of Americans, a Satisfaction with Life Scale to measure your happiness level, and this excerpt which I’m reposting in full below.

I was fortunate to have stumbled upon the PDF version of the four-page Time article online. Do give me a heads up if you’d like a copy.

P.S. According to the Satisfaction with Life Scale (which was devised in 1980 by University of Illinois psychologist Edward Diener, a founding father of happiness research), I am very satisfied with my life. Surprise, surprise.

***************************************************************************

Want to lift your level of happiness? Here are some practical suggestions from University of California psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky, based on research findings by her and others. Satisfaction (at least a temporary boost) guaranteed

1. Count your blessings. One way to do this is with a “gratitude journal” in which you write down three to five things for which you are currently thankful-from the mundane (your peonies are in bloom) to the magnificent (a child’s first steps). Do this once a week, say, on Sunday night. Keep it fresh by varying your entries as much as possible.

2. Practice acts of kindness. These should be both random (let that harried mom go ahead of you in the checkout line) and systematic (bring Sunday supper to an elderly neighbor). Being kind to others, whether friends or strangers, triggers a cascade of positive effects-it makes you feel generous and capable, gives you a greater sense of connection with others and wins you smiles, approval and reciprocated kindness-all happiness boosters.

3. Savor life’s joys. Pay close attention to momentary pleasures and wonders. Focus on the sweetness of a ripe strawberry or the warmth of the sun when you step out from the shade. Some psychologists suggest taking “mental photographs” of pleasurable moments to review in less happy times.

4. Thank a mentor. If there’s someone whom you owe a debt of gratitude for guiding you at one of life’s crossroads, don’t wait to express your appreciation-in detail and, if possible, in person.

5. Learn to forgive. Let go of anger and resentment by writing a letter of forgivenessto a person who has hurt or wronged you. Inability to forgive is associated with persistent rumination or dwelling on revenge, while forgiving allows you to move on.

6. Invest time and energy in friends and family. Where you live, how much money you make, your job title and even your health have surprisingly small effects on your satisfaction with life. The biggest factor appears to be strong personal relationships.

7. Take care of your body. Getting plenty of sleep, exercising, stretching, smiling and laughing can all enhance your mood in the short term. Practiced regularly, they can help make your daily life more satisfying.

8. Develop strategies for coping with stress and hardships. There is no avoiding hard times. Religious faith has been shown to help people cope, but so do the secular beliefs enshrined in axioms like “This too shall pass” and “That which doesn’t kill me makes me stronger.” The trick is that you have to believe them.

My life as a Greenpeace intern

July 25, 2007

dsc01468.jpg

I did my Greenpeace internship for credit. One of the elective units I took last semester for International Communication required us to undertake a minimum of three weeks internship and thereafter we had to deliver an oral presentation and hand in a 5,000 word paper. I must’ve applied to a bajillion consulates here in Sydney, but all I got was a handful of replies stating that they were not offering any internships at the moment. Thankfully, Greenpeace got back to me in lightning speed and offered me a place at their office. What particularly piqued my interest about doing my internship at Greenpeace was the fact that they had a formal internship program in place, and they actually encourage international students to come to Australia and volunteer at their Sydney office. Also, they are probably the only internship provider which gives interns a daily allowance to cover food and transportation. In addition, I enjoy volunteering tremendously. I had previously done a fair amount of volunteer work back in Manila (and once here in Sydney), but this was my first time to get involved in environmental advocacy and it greatly excited me.

My 20-day internship at Greenpeace Australia Pacific ended last week, and since I’ve got a couple of days left before the second semester starts on the 30th (imagine starting a new semester at the end of the month), I’ve decided to put together a compendium of the highlights of my experience:

– Upon the insistence of my lecturer, I negotiated with the Volunteer Coordinator that I be assigned with the Campaigns Department. Since one of the core skills we were expected to learn in this unit was “negotiating work arrangements”, I reluctantly shed my shy-skin and spoke to the Volunteer Coordinator about it. I let him read my approved internship proposal which specified that my Broad Skill Area (BSA) for this Work Integrated Learning (WIL) was Organizational Communication, my Median Skill Area (MSA) was Campaigning and my Narrow Skill Areas (NSAs) were writing letters and/or press releases and articles, preparing campaign publicity materials, organizing campaign events and liaising and coordinating with other campaigners. Fancy-schmanzy terms aside, the extremely pleasant Volunteer Coordinator arranged for me to work with the Clean Energy and Climate Change Campaign Teams. Initially, he was hesitant to put in me in the Campaigns Department because he was under the impression that I was painfully shy and he feared that I might not”thrive” in such a stressful and fast-paced environment. He actually gave me the option of working at the Communications Department instead since he felt that it would be better suited for my personality, skills and my field of specialization. In the end, I decided to go out of my comfort zone and just stick it out with Campaigns, mostly because I couldn’t be bothered to revise my internship proposal all over again.

– My direct supervisor at the Campaigns Department was this dear old lady Sarah Neal, who headed the Grey Power Community. Grey Power is an initiative supported by Greenpeace to encourage older Australians to take action on tackling climate change. Sarah had been the complete anti-thesis of Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada; she gave me free reign around the office and was just about the nicest boss ever. She always affirmed my work and kept apologizing profusely for giving me menial tasks. On my last day, I wrote her a short note and gave her a pack of dried mangoes and Chocnut. To my surprise, she also handed me a gift-wrapped present. Inside were two books: The True-Blue Guide to Australian Slang and a book of Australian panographs. Sarah also gave me her number and address, and told me to come visit her home in Manly sometime.

– Greenpeace work culture dictates that I could take as many breaks as I want, come in at 10:30 and have lunch for two hours. Theirs is probably the most laid-back office environment ever. Most of the campaigners don’t report to work everyday and some work from home. They could go on holiday for weeks, but I assume that they still do Greenpeace work in the field. In the middle of the day, the PA would announce that there would be a soccer match at the park (our office is near the Tumbalong Park at Darling Harbour) and everyone would leave their desks to either play or watch. On my first day, I wore passably decent smart-casual attire; but then I saw this IT guy walk past who was wearing boxers and a white undershirt. This inspired me to come to work in my Chucks and ratty jumpers from then on. Also, employees ride their bikes to work, and they park them inside the building.

– I did a lot of grunt work at Greenpeace like opening and sorting mail, envelope stuffing, sticking address labels, data encoding, wrapping posters and windwills (haha will explain next time)…but who’s complaining? I loved every second of it. I realize that working with my hands (i.e. folding) is very therapeutic and relaxing. Also, I knew that no matter how small the task, if it helped save the environment somehow then I would go home a very happy intern. Nevertheless, I was also able to do some non-menial stuff as well, like editing the Grey Power newsletter, doing research on climate change and renewable energy and helping with the preparations for the launch of The Big Switch website. The Big Switch is a fast-growing coalition of Australian organisations, businesses and community groups whose goal is to raise awareness about climate change solutions by informing people about simple lifestyle choices we can make to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. Concrete proof of my contribution to The Big Switch site could be seen here, but if you check out the other forums you might come across my other numerous posts as well.

– The Volunteer Coordinator also pulled some strings so I could attend an internal workshop for Communications interns. I ended up videotaping the workshop despite my absolute lack of skills in operating a videocam just so I could “attend” this session. I’m pretty sure the tape’s got a lot of Blair Witch Project-esque shots.

– My best experience as an intern by far and hands down would have to be the day I went postering at Bondi Beach. Together with an Aussie intern (whose accent was as thick as glue), we were sent off to Bondi to put up posters publicizing the Save Anvil Hill rally (Anvil Hill is a coal mine). We were told to stick the posters near bus stops and outside cafes for maximum public exposure. But when we got to Bondi, we were surprised to find that all the posts were bare. Apparently, since it was a busy tourist spot, the Council preserves Bondi’s cleanliness by tearing down all posters on walls and posts. In addition, several police and Council people were patrolling the area when we arrived. Wah! We had not been forewarned that it was illegal to go postering in Bondi. We initially wanted to ring the campaigner who assigned us this task to tell him that we wanted to back out, but then we decided to just do it and get it over with. So, me and my partner proceeded to carry out our work as inconspicuously as possible, lest we be arrested. This was our division of labor: I was the designated “holder” while my partner was the designated “taper”. We expertly put up each poster in under a minute, while dodging police and Council people. I just had to keep one poster for myself to remind me of my best/worst day as an energy campaigner.

– As a parting gift, I was taken to lunch at an Asian vegetarian resto (which serves vegetarian peking duck) and given a Greenpeace goodie bag with a mug, a CD and an uber cool shirt which reads: “We love Japan…but whaling breaks our hearts” (I also helped out with the data encoding for the whales campaigns). Also, I was given a magnificently written reference letter. Woohoo!

– I have now been using green bags instead of plastic when I go grocery shopping. I have also convinced my flatmate to switch to green electricity. We now switch off our appliances at the power point when not in use. As long as I can still handle the cold, I do not turn on my heater. I take quicker showers now since even an extra minute would waste a significant amount of water. I now know which foods are genetically modified, and as much as possible I try not to buy these products anymore (but I can’t seem to give up my Doritos, Oreos and Maggi seasoning, sorry). Little things, but I know that in my own small way I am reducing my greenhouse emissions and saving our dear planet. Thank you, Greenpeace, for enlightening me on this.

Niña Simpson

July 18, 2007

avatar.jpg

Does she look anything like me? 🙂

Amici per sempre

July 16, 2007

A bottle of Keglevich lemon vodka: 15 euros

Average price of a cocktail in Reggio Calabria bars: 5 euros

All the other alcoholic beverages we consumed while in Italy: virtually half of our stipend

The feast we had at that overpriced Da Giovanni resto: 17 euros each

A ginormous pizza at Fado: 5 euros

Gelato at Cesare: 1.60 euros

Overnight stay at youth hostels: 20 euros per person

Our train and bus tickets + entrance fees at museums and places while we were traipsing around Italy: all our stipend, pocket money, plus debts

Postcards, keychains, and all other souvenirs: a significant amount of money, believe me

Spending the best 3 months of my life in Italy with 5 unforgettable people: Priceless

There are some things money can’t buy, but for everything else, there’s Helen, Karl, Candy, Aileen and Evan.

*****************************************************************************

I just realized that it’s been three years since we were in Italia, ragazzi. And I forgot to remind you guys about our anniversario hehe!

Vi voglio un mondo di bene…un abbraccio molto forte. Mi mancate tantissimo!

nina3-015.jpg

Happy news

July 16, 2007

First semester results were officially released today…and I am happy to report that I am exceedingly pleased with the marks that I got 🙂 It’s not like I aced all of my classes or anything like that, but it’s just that initially I was expecting abysmally low grades. As I mentioned in one of my earlier entries, at one stage I just totally lost my academic mojo, and everything went downhill from there. I even got a depressingly low mark on one of my major papers (which was 50% of my grade!) and so I really prepared myself for the worst.

I remember I even discussed this with my mom months ago. I told her that I am already way past the grade consciousness phase (yes, I had no life back in college…up to now even…but see, as a wide-eyed college dork, my life principally revolved around grades and I had generally considered one’s scholastic performance as a yardstick to gauge intelligence and future success…in hindsight, I realize that I was indeed an unbelievably stupid and anal kid), and that I’ve been studying all my life and I am pretty much burned out now and all that jazz.  The basic gist of the conversation was that I was mainly preparing her for the eventuality that I will miserably botch up my grades and thus I conditioned her not to expect brilliant results from me anymore.

But yeah, I guess this is sufficient cause for celebration 🙂 However, due to my self-imposed moratorium on deep-fried food (my flatmate and I recently purchased a deep fryer, and believe me we have been putting it to good (?) use), I’ll probably just have a drink or two later. And maybe watch Harry Potter.