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Priorities - A: high, B: medium, C: low; Status - _: unfinished, X: finished, C: cancelled, P: pending, o: in progress, >: delegated. Covey quadrants - Q1 & Q3: urgent, Q1 & Q2: important
ACAttend temporary UToronto Engineering Toastmasters meeting @1745 to 2000 at Willcocks map from 2005.08.01


1. Being Filipino

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Saturday night's barbecue with Sol Laforteza was _the_ best evening I've had in Canada so far, and I owe so very much to Dr. Oposa for introducing me to their wonderful family.

It was amazing how quickly they took me in and made me feel welcome. Upon hearing that I'd graduated from Ateneo, no fewer than three Atenistas started chatting with me about our alma mater. Then there were questions about high school, grade school (turns out a number of them had also been associated with St. Scholastica's College), the diabolo I brought... And of course, the brownies were a big hit.

What really made me melt, though, was how they repeatedly referred to the Philippines as home. Even those who had moved as far back as 1988 still had very active connections with the Philippines, still thought of retiring (or at least skipping the Canadian winter) in the Philippines to teach. With all of our tsk-tsk-tsking over the political messes the country gets itself into, there was still that underlying pride in our country.

And oh, how Filipino we were last night. From discussions of traditional delicacies to musings on the lyrical properties of deep Filipino, it was an evening celebrating our culture. Top it all off with truly horrendous puns (like the name of an actual salon: Scissors Palace), another Filipino specialty, and you've got a night to remember.

I had a lot of fun teaching Gretchen how to do the diabolo, and by the end of the night both she and Leslie could get it spinning pretty quickly. Tito Gil made very passable and amusing attempts. He's a natural comic and performer, positively twinkling with energy and joy. I'd like to be like that when I grow old! It'll take me years to gain the kind of ease and confidence he had, though... Amazing, really.

What a fantastic group of people! I'm really, really glad I had an opportunity to meet them, and I hope to get to know them better over the next couple of years.

そのコンピュータはかなり時代遅れだったので役に立たなかった。 The computer was so outdated that it was good for nothing.

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2. Divergence

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Knowing how I wanted to practice my Japanese, Mark Chignell told me about a couple of Japanese-related events this weekend. (Isn't it nice to have a research supervisor who keeps track of your extracurricular interests?)

The first event was a language exchange session held last Saturday, at which I ran into no other than Baryon Posadas. Come to think of it, I shouldn't have been that surprised. Of course he'd be at a Japanese-language event.

Everyone was heading off to Starbucks to chat over coffee. I wanted to ask how he had been, but I needed to go to Clarkson Station to meet Tita Sol. We tried to work out some other time to meet, but he had promised to help someone move and he needed to find an apartment, and a lot of other things. Technically, I think I'm supposed to e-mail him if I want to meet him for coffee (or hot chocolate), but now that I think about it, I don't have much to chat with him about. Except perhaps for general settling-in questions, like where's a good place to open a bank account or get a credit card, and I already sorta know the answers to those questions.

Anyway, I went to the barbecue today because it meant a free lunch. I didn't get to practice my Japanese, though, as I didn't feel up to making small talk in a foreign language--not when there was a perfectly good conversation to have with Mark about research plans and what I should do while he's off in Japan. (Yes, we were talking about work. On a Sunday! During a long weekend!)

During a lull in the conversation, we wandered around in search for non-MSG chips. Baryon was there at the table with the unflavored chips, so I briefly introduced them to each other. Mark got drawn into a conversation with a bunch of Japanese girls, so I was left on my own. I asked them if I could sit there. I sat there for maybe a minutes, idly munching on chips. Got bored, found it difficult to break into a clique, eventually thought of a question to ask Mark and left the table without a word.

Anyway, the entire thing prompted a reflection on divergence. I'd borrowed a number of books from him before (speculative fiction, mainly), and that was our common interest. Now my reading tastes have changed (non-fiction and children's lit) and our worlds are really very different now.

Mark's a pretty good judge of character, and he picked up on the differences too. <laugh> In fact, he thought Baryon was strange. I shrugged and said, "He's from humanities." (Nothing against the humanities, of course. Hi Marcelle!)

I think that energy makes a big difference to me. Mark's a positive, high-energy kind of person, which is one of the reasons why I get along with him very well. Baryon and a number of other people I know don't show that kind of energy often. They're more reserved and detached.

If you take a look at the people I love hanging out with (Hiya, Just Geeks League! ;) ), they've all got positive energy. One of the things I like about chatting with Dominique is the way his smile comes through so well in his voice, and you know his face shows it too! Even Sean's deep and serious voice hides playfulness and wit. (You should watch his Hulk impression... It's hilarious!) Even though they have problems like everyone else, their upbeat personalities make the tough times easier to weather.

I don't know if Baryon's like that, and I somewhat remember that he laughs and joke about some things. Although it would be nice to pick his brains about stuff I need to know as an international student in Toronto, I think it would be a fair bit of work to get to the point where conversation's comfortable. I'll probably focus on developing new contacts instead, at least for now.

もうすぐみんなが自分のコンピュータを持つだろう。 Everyone will have his own computer before long.

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3. Lessons learned from the past week

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  • I'm very finicky when it comes to organizing. None of the popular organizing forms quite fit the weekly schedule + TODO list that I want to use. Custom letter-size forms are easy to make. I'm not sure how well I can translate to a smaller size; maybe if I do one week per page and then have the TODO list on the next page...
  • Last week was find-a-group week. I tried Toast IT, Zero Gravity Circus and JCSA. Toast IT was the best in terms of social interaction, self-improvement and networking. That's something that's earned a fixed place on my calendar. I can join the other two groups maybe once a month.
  • I'm pretty good at impromptu speeches and networking, but not really social small talk. I work best when the context is well-established and I feel I have something to offer people. That's why Toast I.T. works very well for me, but social chats like JCSA language exchanges don't really do the trick.
  • Keeping track of my expenses is a breeze with Gnucash, a free and open source program that makes record-keeping fun and easy. I just sent my mom a summary of my credit card transactions and a detailed transaction report for everything involving a credit card. Whee!
  • Working out my finances is scarily fun. I've just finished drawing up yearly and monthly spending plans based on a general guide for international students and my expenses for the past two weeks. I used OpenOffice.org Calc to recalculate remaining monthly budget automatically as I put in my initial estimates and then adjusted them based on my spending goal. I've decided to allocate more money to groceries and books than I had previously spent, and I've built in a small splurge allowance for little things I want. I'll test that spending plan this month and post additional reflections in September.
  • The calendar I'm using right now really works for me. I should look into making an electronic version of it so that people reading my website can get a better feel of how I like to plan my day. I also need to work on a good contact management system to keep track of all the people I meet (and it turns out that I meet quite a number of new people each week)...

今日ほとんどの子供が持っているビデオゲーム機でさえコンピュータである。 Even videogame machines owned by most children today are computers.

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4. Spending plan

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Whether you call it a budget or a spending plan, an idea of how much you can spend on what each month is a remarkably liberating thing. After you've put aside money for savings and important expenses such as

I keep my monthly spending plan on a ruled 3x5 index card labeled "Budget for August 2005." I divide the card into three columns: category, estimate, and remaining budget. At the beginning of each month, I write down the categories and estimates in ink, and the remaining budget in pencil. Throughout the month, I'll regularly update the remaining budget entries. If I want to spend more for something, I can reduce the budget of another category.

Let's see how well that system works this month!

その代わりに、彼は自分のコンピュータを制御しているスイッチを操作した。 Instead, he worked a switch that controlled his computer.

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5. Home economics

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I wish I paid more attention in my home economics class. I have an excuse, though. I was 10 years old at the time! Now that I'm 21 and puzzled by everything from bike grease stains to the proper storage of food, I'm making up for my lack of common sense by buying thick, expensive books talking about stuff I really should have learned during my education.

Over the past two weeks, I have come to firmly believe that home economics should be taught throughout high school and college. It would have been a lot more useful than my social studies or history classes. (Indeed, a lot more useful than my computing classes...) What if arithmetic was taught in the context of budgets? What if critical thinking was tested through on-the-fly recipe substitutions? What if learning about life was an essential part of the curriculum?

I'm not just talking about exclusive girls' schools, mind you, but across-the-board education for everyone. I think the world would be a lot more peaceful if people learned how to manage household disputes and a lot more financially stable if they learned how to balance a checkbook or make a budget. I know _I_ would feel a lot better learning about these things systematically instead of figuring things out as I go along.

Bring back the lessons on washing clothes and folding fitted sheets, planning menus and shopping for groceries. It may be old hat to you, but some of us here are figuring things out for the first time!

コンピューターは人間の多くの時間と手間を省いてくれる。 Computers can save us a lot of time and trouble.

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