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Little joys

| happy

On the way back from Simon's place last night, I took a streetcar with
a wonderful surprise. The streetcar driver sang out the stops in this
beautiful, beautiful voice! I was so tempted to take the car all the
way to Humber just to keep listening to him. On the way out, I told
him that I really wished I could tip on the TTC and that it was the
awesomest streetcar ride ever. I wish the other riders on the
streetcar were as appreciative. He deserved a lot of warm and fuzzy

I love it when people go above and beyond, turning even ordinary jobs
into something that brings joy to other people. I remember the
announcer for Delta Airlines at the Washington airport whose sense of
humor over the public announcement system made the four-hour delay so

Reaching across the ocean: sometimes you just have to make things happen

| business, connecting, goodkarma, happy

When Simon called me up to say that he was really excited about
working with QSR because of their interest
in Asterisk but that they hadn't gotten in touch with him yet, I said,
“Really? That's it, I'm going to make something happen.”

So I did. I didn't have anyone from QSR online in my buddy list, but I
knew that if anyone could find people, it would be
Clair Ching. (Tip: If you ever need any kind
of information, no matter how obscure, ask a librarian!) She gave me
Ian's cellphone number. I tried calling it up, but my cellphone seems
to be blocked for international calls. She called it up, but Ian
didn't answer. I sent a text message to Ian asking him to go online.

Clair also pointed me to other QSR people like
Marvin Pascual. Marvin told me that Ian was
probably out to lunch or en route to dotPH because it was Friday. He
gave me Ian's Yahoo Messenger ID and dug up Myna's cellphone number. I
remembered that Ian told me I should talk to Myna about business
development opportunities, so it was terrific that they were traveling

I noticed that I had a Google chat message from
J. Angelo Racoma. I remembered that
Angelo's associated with dotPH, so I asked him to track Ian down,
possibly by calling the dotPH folks. Angelo set that in motion, too.

… and when I saw Ian's Yahoo Messenger status change, I was, like,
“w00t!” I messaged, “Thank you for letting me assert my SUPER GEEK
GIRL POWER and renicing myself to -20!”

Big, big, big kudos to Clair Ching, J. Angelo Racoma, and Marvin Pascual for helping me track Ian down and get him online right then and there. I owe homemade cookies and lasagna all around. You rock.

Simon and Ian had a great conversation threshing out the technical
aspects of the project. I think they were basically establishing that
they knew what they were talking about and that the other person did,
too. While they were doing this, Myna and I chatted about the business
side of things.

Good stuff. I think it'll be a terrific fit, and I look forward to
seeing what'll come of it. I'm glad I helped make that phone
conversation happen, if only because I exerted enough will for them to
get around to talking. I knew they'd have a good conversation, but
it's sometimes hard to get around to it what with everything else
going on.

Sometimes you just have to make things happen.

The Secret

Posted: - Modified: | friends, happy, purpose

On the walk back toward Greg's Ice Cream for post-sushi dessert, Simon received an invitation from Shane to join him and a few friends for The Secret, a motivational video about the power of positive thinking. Although I had been looking forward to getting to know Richard and the rest of the folks over ice cream in
the continuation of Quinn's birthday party, I also felt that it would be good to join Simon for this. It was a good decision. Not only did I have the unexpected pleasure of reconnecting with Bryan Pickle (whom I had met at one of Mike Fletcher's parties), but the video was thought-provoking.

Not that the ideas proposed in the video were new to me. I take it practically for granted that you see what you're looking for. The video was flashy and fast-paced, although you'll probably want to skip the pretentious first sequence and mentally edit out some of the more over-the-top effects. Despite the distractions, though, I managed to still my mind enough to attend to the video, collecting stories, gleaning insights, and reflecting on my own experiences.

There was a short lull after the video ended, then everyone else dug into the almost-forgotten fruits. I stayed still, turning the thoughts over in my head, permitting silence to fill in the gaps and listening to how I felt instead of immediately putting things into words. This was perhaps strange to the friends who were there. Shane asked me if I
didn't like the movie. Lara agreed that everyone could probably find examples of experiences that fit, and the conversation went on – but still I kept quiet, reflecting.

A few hours earlier and I could have channeled the energy of passion and excitement into the discussion, matching the tone of Shane and Lara's voices, but I was in a serene mood. I haven't yet connected with either Shane or Lara on that level, when the silences are comfortable and one speaks when moved to. I've been that way with Quinn, and Jed, and Simon – yes, Simon has his calm moments, hard as that may be to believe. <laugh>

Serenity. Those who know me primarily for my enthusiasm and who have mainly seen me on the sugar-high I get on life usually worry the first time they see me in one of my calm moods, and even those who know me well often ask me if I'm feeling down. (Trust me, if I were feeling down, you'd know!) Serenity is that quiet stillness within me and the space I create in order to discern.

And now, hours later, I have a better understanding of how I feel.

I agree with the gist of the video: the mind is powerful, our attitude shapes our life, and our feelings and intuition give us a good way to sense how well we're doing.

However, thinking about it, I've come to realize that it is not the full secret of my life. What describes is not my philosophy or my way of living. There is something different, something missing…

Ah. Here is a gap. The video focuses on receiving, but does not describe the great joy I have in giving. The video describes visualizing a goal, but I also love discerning a path. The video talks about uplifting the self, but my desires go beyond myself.

In order to serve, I must take care of myself, of course. I can't help people if I am miserable; joy comes from joy. But I am confident that if I listen and extend myself, the universe will nourish me. It always has.

I do not need to manifest anything into my life. Happiness is not something that is in my future, a puzzle with jigsaw pieces that I have to find and assemble. It is simply now. I have an abundance of opportunities, and my job is to explore them. It'll be *tons* of fun!

I ask the universe for some things, but in general the I come across opportunities before I even know to ask for them. If I am to receive anything, I ask for the discernment to see the best things to do at a moment, the beauty in each instant, and the ways to help people explore their potential.

Love 2.0

Posted: - Modified: | goodkarma, happy, love

Photo by Rob Dudley. License: Creative Commons Attribution.


Just wow.

Whenever I falter and lose sight of my way, other people lift me up,
set me on my feet, and point me back in the right direction.

Where would I be without my family and my friends and those random
strangers and acquaintances who take a moment out of their busy days
to reach out to me in all their generous humanity?

I am thankful for these moments of sadness and confusion, however
brief they are, because they give me an opportunity to appreciate and
deepen my respect for the wonderful, wonderful people in my life.

From friends who called and messaged and e-mailed as soon as they read
my doubts, to my mom whose encouragement addressed my fears and
strengthened my resolve, to coworkers who not only told me of
interesting opportunities but also expressed their concern

I am loved beyond my ability to comprehend, and if I can spend the
rest of my life sharing that experience of love with other people…

It's been said that it takes a village to raise a child. I am being
raised by the world.

Break glass in case of emergency: For homesickness

| happy, philippines

Dearest Sacha,

I read your blog and I see two issues that are bothering you: homesickness
and “guilt” for being away from your country.

First, let me say that it is alright to feel homesick – in fact, we would
worry if you never felt the pain of being away. It only means that you miss
us – your family, your home, your cat, our pets, your friends, our weather,
even the places where you hang out. We feel the same sadness and longing for
you because we would prefer to see you everyday, to see you smile, to hear
the excitement in your voice when you tell stories, to be able to tell if
you are sad and to be able to hug you when you are. Which is why Skype is
my preferred way of communicating with you – because I want “to be with you”
as much as possible, even if it means listening to your voice on one
computer and looking at you (webcam) on another. Since our schedules do not
always allow “skyping,” I depend on your blog, and your occasional emails
-too few and too short =( to know what's happening with you. It's pain that
we must bear, because we love you and want you to grow and become fulfilled.

But the “guilt” that you feel for being away from your country is
unnecessary grief. As long as you carry your love for your country in your
heart, then there is nothing to grieve for being somewhere else. Think of
the Filipinos who have brought pride to their countrymen – they're not
necessarily here. Patricia Evangelista won the speaking competition in
London. Lea Salonga made her name in London, New York and Hollywood. Leo
Oracion, Erwin Emata and Ching's friend, Romy Garduce could not have
conquered Mt. Everest by staying here. In the same manner, Einstein was born
in Germany but his genius flourished in the U.S. The Kennedys were
originally Irish. Your papa's parents were from China. Pre-historic
Filipinos were migrants from Malay Peninsula and Indonesia. You know what I
am trying to say but you need to say this to yourself every now and then,
especially when some people, or you yourself, make you feel guilty about
being away from your country. Nobody should be limited by the physical
boundaries of one's country – you need to climb your highest mountains, no
matter where they are. And when you are on top, you plant the Philippine
flag and proclaim to the world that you are a Filipina.

We love you and we are proud of you, and if the pain of loneliness is the
price we have to pay so you can be the best that you can be, then so be it.

Love always,

E-Mail from Mama

Think! Friday

| happy, ibm

One of the things I like about IBM is the Think! Friday initiative,
which encourages people to use their Friday afternoons to learn about
something new.

My job is to think all the time—ah, the life of a grad student!—and
Think!Friday gives me that additional impetus to go out there and do

A few Think!Fridays ago was Hack Day, an ad-hoc 5-hour hackathon
across IBM. I built a social discovery web application that took a
list of e-mail addresses, names, Lotus Notes mail IDs and even
community IDs. Given a list of people, the tool displayed the latest
three blog headlines and bookmarks for people who used the internal
blogging and bookmarking services. I'd been meaning to build it for a
few weeks, and thanks to the enthusiastic Hack Day vibe, I finally
made the time to hack it all together.

Fast forward to today. IBMers voted on their favorite Hack Day hacks.
Mine won Best Mashup! That made me ridiculously happy. It was a simple
hack—most of the time was spent writing libraries to interact with
IBM's services and figuring out how to resolve different kinds of
names—but it turned out to be quite useful for finding people.
Throwing it all together in Ruby was a lot of fun, too. Ruby makes my
brain happy.

Hack Day was a terrific way for me to meet a lot of other early
adopters and geeks within IBM. We presented our hacks in two
teleconferences, and that was awesome.

Today, I decided to deal with some of the other little projects I'd
been meaning to do. I set up RSS2Email (Python) and made it easier for
people to have comments on their blog e-mailed to them. Again, a
simple hack (took me a leisurely hour or so)—but I think it will have
a lot of benefit. I also wrote a little Ruby script that summarized my
bookmarks in bloggable form. Happy!

I like days like this a lot. I like sensing the need for a little tool
and writing that tool. I like being in the zone, trying things out,
geeking out, creating something useful…

Happy girl. =)

Just realized something really cool!

| happy

I just had to wake up from a terrific dream and blog this. =) And yes,
it's common sense to all of you, and I _know_ I know this, but
sometimes it takes a lucid dream to, well, be lucid – to see clearly.

Life is what I make of it. Duh.

I've been dragging my feet the past weekend – the past week – oh, I
don't know, the past _month!_ – feeling insecure about my research,
feeling lost and out of place.

I've just realized how silly that was. Self-fulfilling prophecy. All
that jazz.

The university wouldn't have accepted me if they didn't believe I
could hack research, and the truth is, it really _is_ a lot of fun
having an excuse to read through lots of journals and play around with
interesting ideas. The more people I try to explain my research to
(“Well, I'm actually looking for the interesting people I should
talk”), the more I understand it, and the better I actually feel about

Likewise, friends wouldn't hang out if they didn't consider me fun, so
I should stop asking them if I've kept them too late, etc. ;) Heck,
people would probably stay over for long conversations if they didn't
have work. What am I worried about? <laugh>

So – yay!

Thanks for putting up with the funk. =)