It's interesting watching another human being learn how to think strategically. She's not quite there yet, as she has a hard time thinking of what her dad's response would be. I remember being like that, and I remember the chess drills I did in order to learn how to see ahead.
So instead of writing the blog post that I meant to write today, I took some time to teach her. No, I didn't coach her during the game. Instead, we wiped the board clean and I set out some pieces for one of the simplest drills, King and Rook vs King. I'd shown her this before. She'd successfully completed it with some coaching. It would be good for reinforcing the idea of thinking ahead.
She was moving the pieces somewhat randomly (although legally, of course). So I started counting to 50 moves, the limit on end-game dilly-dallying in tournament play. When I was getting close to 50, she We reached a draw during the first drill. Then I showed her how she needed to decide which side of the board she would force my king to stay on, and how that rook could keep my king there, then drive it backwards once it had the support of her king.
We did another drill, with plenty of sound effects. "I'm going to get you!" I exclaimed as my solitary king pursued her rook, step by step. She squealed and moved her rook to the other side. "Uh oh," I said when my king had nowhere to go but in front of hers. "Noooo!", I cried as her rook forced mine against the board. She checkmated my king with a little prompting.
We went back and forth a few times before she caught on that she needed to sometimes "waste" a move. When she could checkmate my king with no prompting, I reinforced the idea ("Pick which side of the board you're going to squish my king against, and focus on forcing my king back") and replaced her rook with a queen. I showed her how a queen can checkmate faster than a rook. She checkmated me handily, and finished the session thrilled with what she could do.
Why am I telling this story? I think it hints at why and how I teach. A lot of what I'm doing right now can be considered teaching, even though it looks different: my social media consulting with IBM, the book that I'm writing on Emacs... But I'm not teaching facts or procedures. I care about shaping attitude and so that I can unlock potential. I talk to people about blogging and bookmarking because I want to influence their attitude towards collaboration, and because I want to see what they'll do (so that I can learn from them too!). I talk about Emacs, but what's important to me is the "if I can tweak this, what else can I do with it?" kind of feeling that will unlock the rest of Emacs for other people.
But how do you teach culture?
On Technorati: teaching
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I'm also thrilled about the interest interview I had this week with a team from IBM. We'll see how that works out. =D
And I still managed to find time to write an article on Emacs mail productivity tips for LinuxWorld! Not bad. It took me a total of two and a half hours to write the article. I don't remember how much time it took me to develop the configuration I described, though. It was tons of fun!
I attended a money management seminar and found that I was on the right track. I've read so many personal finance books that the usual advice is, well, usual, but it was great hearing all sorts of useful tips from the other students.
On the personal note, I met W's extended family at a birthday party. I had a wonderful conversation with his brother's father-in-law about technology and then about finance. I'm still a little shy around them. They're probably also wondering how to relate to me. Hmm.
I also reconnected with my mom and dad, and might be flying to the Philippines soon. That may mean cancelling my Mesh session and missing Toronto Technology Week, but family comes first.
Life is good. This week was very productive, but I also had time to connect with people and pursue my interests. Being able to talk to people about stuff—my interest interview, thoughts about life—made everything much more fun, and even a difficult conversation resulted in some useful insights.
Next week, I plan to:
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My parents blocked off several weekdays to spend time with me. My dad suggested going up north on a 3-day trip. He loves the mountains. Me, I'm not too fond of zig-zag roads and Banaue had felt a little cramped last time we were there. Besides, with the onset of rainy season, short trips seemed more manageable than long ones, so I suggested going on a series of leisurely day trips.
So the plan was to go around Laguna today: a trip along the lakefront to the south. A few minutes after leaving the house, though, my dad suggested going to Baguio instead. Fortunately, this time we changed plans early enough for us to grab more clothes from the house. One time, we were just going to Tagaytay—an easy day-trip—and we ended up in Bicol on a several-day roadtrip. I was *not* happy about not knowing when I'd be back that time, but I think this time I might actually be able to get back in time for a party on Thursday.
Baguio is okay, although there's a lot more traffic than there used to be. The landmarks my parents remember have either closed or seem to be on the brink of closing. Times are changing. The sunset view is still stunning, though, even though the best view now seems to be the one from the mall.
My dad's been teaching me how to shoot with a proper SLR camera. It's a lot more powerful than my other camera, although my other camera has a few features that I really like. I had fun shooting the sunset with a long exposure, improvising support by wedging the camera into the rails. This brought out the subtle hues that I couldn't see any more, although I still had a little camera shake. More practice—or more tripod, which would also solve that problem quite handily.
Tomorrow we're going to an artists' village. Maybe I'll pick up something.
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I've read that new graduates often come into the workplace thinking they know everything. There's no danger of that here. From my point of view, I don't know anything compared to these folks. I keep warning my teammates not to expect that I know anything. ;) On the way into the meeting yesterday, I told my teammate, "You do know that I'm a complete newbie at this, right?" She told me that it was fine and that I shouldn't worry about it. Well, if she's okay with that, I guess it will work out. After all, everyone started from somewhere. =)So if I can't bring decades of experience and thought leadership, what can I bring? I can bring hard work. Someone needs to take care of the grunt work, and I'll happily volunteer for that so that my team members can be freed up for more creative work. I might even be faster doing that than other people would be because of the shortcuts I come up with and the tools I use. Besides, with fewer habits to unlearn, I might stumble across interesting ways of doing things. I can bring my questions. Questions make people think, and maybe they'll realize something interesting in new. I can bring my writing and reflections. I'm still a little shy about speaking up in meetings, but I enjoy thinking about what I learned during the meeting and writing it up as a blog post or handout or article. I can make educational materials, too. I'm looking forward to helping people learn by sharing those handouts and giving people hands-on help. Even if I'm new, I can bring something to the table.
And so can you. If you're new to the job, cheer up and don't be intimidated by all the other people who do it so easily because of their experience. If you're already experienced, please look out for us newbies and help us settle in. =) After all, everyone has to start from somewhere!
On Technorati: career
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I had to get to the bottom of this feeling. I needed to understand. I couldn't see a good way forward. I've been working on this for months, and I'm still stuck. It's a bigger thing than I am, and I'm going to need help.
I am Filipino, and I will always be that. I owe my country my education, my culture, my friends, and more than that, my family. The opportunities my country gave me made me who I am, and I owe so much—not just because of everything I received, but also because of what I can do.
I am Filipino, but I am not currently in the Philippines. I don't know when I'm going to be home for good, or even if my sense of home is changing. Is it here? Is it there? Am I going to bring home all these experiences and ideas and opportunities, or am I going to be part of the brain drain that I grew up hearing about?
Is it possible to ask these questions without feeling guilty?
But it isn't that easy. I have selfish reasons for staying. The more stress I put on myself or receive from other people, the clearer my selfishness becomes—and yet all the more entrenched, allthe more real, all the more myself.
So it becomes a choice between two halves of a life, and that's no good at all. If I can solve this, if I find peace in this, imagine what I could do with that energy and joy?
But for now... it's difficult. I haven't quite figured out how to be in more than one place at a time. I don't know what to answer people when they ask me whatever happened to my dreams of going home right away and of bringing what I learned in my master's back home. I do know that I need to address this or it will make my life painful.
What would be ideal? I would like to wake up each day and feel that I'm in just the right place at just the right time. I want to feel that I'm being true to myself. It's okay. I'm okay.
Maybe I just have to decide to stop feeling guilty. Okay, let's try that as an experiment. I am what I am, and we'll see how everything works out. Who knows? It might even be better this way.
It's tough, but maybe this is like kneading bread. Maybe life is stretching me so that I can do greater things.
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And what a perfect evening, too. Just the right temperature, even for me. (Granted, I had a shawl.) Everyone was chatting. Halloween's a surprisingly good time to practice talking to other people. I managed to say "Happy Halloween" with warmth dozens of times in a row! (Although I get the feeling it's not really a happy-greeting kind of holiday... bah, who cares!)
Dressing up was fun, too. W- helped J- make a halo, wings, and robe for her angel costume. J- sewed the robe herself, though! =) Industrious girl. As for me, I felt like Reyna Elena, resplendent in my white terno with a flowing skirt and petticoat. J- lent me a tiara, and W- draped a (color-coordinated) throw around my shoulders to keep me warm.
Our outfits drew plenty of comments, and the Tux penguin pumpkin I made also got a few knowing smiles and short conversations from passers-by. =) Little unique touches... <grin>
Next year, we're going to make it even more wonderful. We might make a charred skeleton, following instructions on the Net. I'll probably pick up doggie treats, too. A number of people were walking their dogs. One had a particularly cute pug with a spider costume. That one definitely deserved a treat! I'm also looking forward to getting to know more of the neighbors. That felt nice. =)
Happy Halloween. Kids think of it as Free Candy Day, and I think of it as Free Chatting day. =) Hope your Halloween was fun, too!
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I woke up five minutes before my alarm clock went off, which was good because I still haven't figured out how to make my alarm clock less obnoxious. A trip to Ikea may be in order here. Still, waking up at 5:55 is a pretty cool thing for me. =) Looks like the week I put into developing the habit of waking up early is starting to pay off.
I met with my manager and a team member today. My manager answered all my questions, even the tougher ones. Now that I have an idea of how I'm going to be measured (and equally important: how _he's_ going to be measured), I can keep an eye out for useful ideas and opportunities.
I'll stay up a little late today to do some work on my book, even just 10 minutes of sketching. It's important to me to be able to spend a little time on that every day, or I'm going to forget. <laugh>
Everyone finds his or her own balance...
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Why would I conceivably not want to be the best I can be at whatever I'm doing? I like the idea that whether I'm sweeping a street, weeding my yard, playing drums in a band, teaching a class, taking photos at a wedding, working as a customer service representative, selling insurance, washing cars, running a company, being a personal fitness trainer, bagging groceries, or writing a book that I take the attitudee that I will knock your socks off with how I do what I do. Or maybe it's my own socks that I want to knock off. (p.72)
I'm looking forward to knocking my socks off. =) I'm going to learn a lot and things won't always be smooth, but I'm going to find and engage that passion.
On Technorati: career
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I'm not there for the pain—who, me? I'm there for the thrill I get when I set myself a challenge and make progress towards it. I'm there because I love seeing the other two students try, fail, try again, learn, and perform, and I want to be able to that too. I'm there because the things I imagine myself doing once I have more experience (and thicker calluses!) make it easier for me to get through my daily exercise routines. I'm there because trapeze scares me, but in a way that I can overcome that fear.
Today I managed to get my knees over the bar entirely on my own. It took me one and a half sessions to learn how to do that with plenty of help from Mark, the ever-so-patient instructor. I learned to swing my knees up, contract my abdomen, and extend my knees. I learned to engage my shoulders by tensing them, but not too much. I learned how to trust myself to hang on while I allowed my legs to swing back, pendulum-like, around my center. I learned how to bend into the swing on the way forward, pulling my legs as high as they could go. I learned to flex my toes in order to clear the bar. And I learned to stop thinking so much and just do it... <laugh>
I know I'm probably going to forget many of these things and re-learn them during the next lesson and the next lessons after that, but that's okay—learning is part of the fun of it all.
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so, what do i need?
gah. all of the above.
maybe i'll go to trapeze once a week and spend two to three times a week working on core and strength. the jungle gym near the house will help me develop calluses, at least until it freezes over. i need to do more crunches and pushups, too, until i can eventually graduate to chin-ups.
we have a plan.
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My goals for the next week include:
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An international student advisor at U of T said that there's absolutely no way I can rush either SGS or Citizenship and Immigration Canada. She advised postponing my start date to three to four weeks after I send the application, which is dependent on when I receive the letter.
I'm very uncomfortable with the idea of moving my start date forward, but I don't think I can do anything about it. I've asked SGS if anyone else can prepare the letter. I've asked about my transcript. GWAAH!
Looking back, I really can't see how I would've done things better. This galls me even more than being late does. The tentative start date for my offer was based on a fairly reasonable time estimate after my thesis defense. I don't think I delayed a lot myself. Maybe I should have been more pessimistic, adding at least a 50% buffer to account for delays in communication, unexpected absences, things like that. I guess that's it: be much more conservative when estimating around other people's times...
I can't do anything about it now. I just have to wait.
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