Monday, August 28, 2006

Coffee Breaks...

Coffee breaks

Here’s an interesting link about coffee breaks: Coffee-breaks sabotage employees’ abilities.

I love coffee breaks and I love coffee more than any other drinks available (save for water).

I’ve always been a coffee drinker since my elementary school days. Back then, I would get a large covered mug, put 2 tablespoon of Nescafe, and mix it with a half cup of sugar. Add some ice, and shake it. It will take me a couple of hours to consume the whole thing, while studying my lessons at the same time.

In college, I only drink coffee at home or in some dunkin’ donuts store where my friends would usually study. I cannot afford to buy those expensive drinks with only a P30/day allowance, inclusive of fare and meals. Coffee at home is cheap. I even bought rice coffee, and that “Dragon” coffee.

During my first job as an associate at PWC, coffee was free flowing. My buddy and I consumed more than half of the supply. No, we did not consume it on our first week. Between us, we drank at least 6 cups a day. After a few years, supply was cut. But we managed to sneak a few cups from our boss’ supplies, whenever we craved for a cup during overtime. Coffee is a good friend when I have plenty of work to do.

But my wife and I debate on the pros and cons of coffee. The Nestle ad about oxidants favored me. She, being of the medical profession, mentioned studies about caffeine. My replies were always the same: I only drink at most 3 cups a day, a safe figure mentioned in all the studies.

For me, coffee keeps me sane and energized for work even at very long hours. I can't really imagine a world (much more a workplace) without coffee and coffee breaks.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

The Prophet

Twelve years ago, a classmate of mine talked about Kahlil Gibran and his famous "The Prophet". I bought a copy 5 years after trying to read, and reread it. The poetry is amazing (or was it the interpreter?). Even our class yearbook was full of quotes from that book. I even saw a quote in some donation cans somewhere.

Here are some of my few favorite lines:

"It was but yesterday we met in a dream...
And if our hands should meet again in another dream, we shall build another tower in the sky"

"Much of your pain is self-chosen"

"Work is love made visible. And if you cannot work with love but only with distate, it is better that you should leave your work and sit at the gate of the temple and take alms of those who work with joy"

"Your daily life is your temple and your religion" I considered this as a very practical approach to religion, and a must for every believer (of whatever faith). "Who can separate his faith from his actions, or his belief from his occupations?" But then, since He himself practices some new age (Bahai) religion, then the philosophies on his books are based on his religion. He did not and cannot separate his faith and belief from his writings.

But at the end of my readings, I could not help but notice this particular line: "A little while, a moment of rest upon the wind, and another woman shall bear me." It contradicted my religious convictions.

But I am not going to argue. Philosophers are entitled to their opinion, and those opinions, even though general in nature (and some obscure), are well accepted, because they are just poetically expressed.

So, let me try my own lines:
“You cannot see me through my scribbling, for my soul is not in there.”
“For now, you know me not. But I shall reveal myself to you one day, and we shall indulge in the same cup of happiness.”

Hey wait! Do I sound like a philosopher here?

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Books, books, books

My mother taught me to read at an early age. I had fun. But the reality is, I only read the books that I chose to read. By the time I entered Grade 1 at age 5, I was all alone in my readings.

So what are these books that I read?

The Bible – This is one book that has the greatest impact on my life. I believe that this is the greatest book of all. At an early age, I memorized important verses, and had kept them by heart. “Thy word Oh Lord, is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.”

The History Textbooks - There are only few school subjects wherein I read the textbook by heart, and guess what, these are all history books. I should have majored in History, but nah, too late for that. I particularly like the books on Philippine and World History.

The first novel that I read was “Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court” by Mark Twain. I didn’t really finish it, but was still able to make a book report for a high school assignment.

In college, the first fictions I read were F.I.S.T. and Firefox. I do not know much about famous authors then so I just tried to get hold of the titles that interest me.

Then I tried Grisham. I can only count the few of his books that I haven’t read. And I have them in my shelf for sometime now: A Painted House, Bleachers, Summon, The Partner, The Brethren, Skipping Christmas, The Testament.

I heard of Sheldon, but was not particularly convinced. I also just borrowed a few from a friend was willing to lend me one for a week. I didn’t like the twist but still found it entertaining but not worth the keeping.

I read Jeffrey Archer’s Kane and Abel, Prodigal Daughter and First among the equals. Very nice story and not much twist.

I must admit that Erich Segal is my favorite. I first read “Love Story”. It was very simple yet moving. I almost cried when I read “The Class”. “Acts of Faith” is very intriguing. “Prizes” is very inspiring. “Doctors” is very heart-warming. “Oliver’s Story” is the book that I like the least.

Some other books that I read:
1. David Morrel’s “Brotherhood of the Rose”
2. Isabel Allende’s “House of the Spirits”
3. James Patterson’s “Along Came a Spider”
4. Gabriel Garcia Marquez’ “A Hundred Years of Solitude”
5. Steinbeck’s “Of mice and men”
6. Hemingway’s “Old man and the Sea”
7. Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice”
8. “Exit the Rainmaker” a non-fiction whose author’s name I can’t remember.
9. Bronte’s “Wuthering Heights”
10. John Updike “In the Beauty of the Lilies”

11. Gibran's "The Prophet"

Some four years ago, I slowed down in my book readings and got into web surfing. But I continued buying books. So what are the titles left sleeping on my shelf:
1. Allende’s “Eva Luna and other stories”
2. Umberto Eco’s “In the name of the Rose”
3. Grisham’s latest books as mentioned earlier
4. Courtney Bryce “The power of One”
5. In the League of Night and Fog by David Morell
6. Forsythe’s “Odessa File”
7. “The Idiot” by Fyodor Dostoevsky
8. “The Eternal Husband and other stories” by Fyodor Dostoevsky

I really don’t know when I’ll pick up these books again. I am now reading and writing blogs, but I really missed the books.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Of changing profession..

I have often wondered about changing profession. Actually, this was not my first choice when I took some aptitude test back in high school. I was determined to enroll in Agriculture without the backing of my parents. But in the end, I chose the convenient – BS Accountancy. And it made my parents smile a bit. At least, I won’t be leaving home for 4 years or so.

Four years in college is a breeze. In and out of the dean’s list, but in the end, there’s was no “laude” in my diploma. But I’m proud to say that I haven’t cheated in exams, nor got drunk, nor ran naked in a crowd, nor made any other serious violations.

So, I am a CPA alright. I passed the board on my first take, an envy of my other batch mates who made it a semester later. 3 days after my 20th birthday, I got accepted at the local PWC office. Whew! It completed what I thought was my career plan. So what was my career plan?

Pass the board, work in a big accounting firm, stay till I become a senior associate, transfer to another company in a managerial capacity, etc…

I am just right within target. But what now? I am 30, and in the eyes of those on top - in the pool of future leaders of the company. I’ve been in this managerial position for 5 years. I’ve seen changes, good and bad. I’ve seen bosses leave in disgrace after quite long years. So, what’s next?

My wife, who is a nurse, has a current application for an immigrant visa in the US. Perhaps it would be the best time to change profession. But the demand for accountants in the US is very high this time. My former boss in the accounting firm told me to apply in the US coz with my experience, I’d be in demand. I jokingly told him that I’d perhaps work as a driver or apply at PWC as a janitor or a courier.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Badminton life

The "in" thing among yuppies right now is the sport badminton. Why and how come? Is it just a fad or some stress-buster? One can literally smash on his boss' face -- hmmmm..., if you can dare do it. But most just let their imagination run wild while playing.

If it's a fad, then it should have not lasted this long. 4 years and getting stronger. But I say that this is just a revival of the ancient sport, and it will continue for years to come.

I heard one person who apologized to us, his playmates, saying, "I'm bringing all my problems to the courts and smash them everytime I hit the shuttle. It's a feeling of relief for me, and I apologize to anyone from the group, who disliked the way I'm behaving". We just laughed at it. He's a good man and very competitive. His "magical" shots are most imitated.

Almost all my other playmates are the same, bringing all their stress, problems and hurts in the court, and smash them there. I know how it feels to be stressed out, but as I have contemplated many times, playing badminton is not the solution. It may help, but the relief is just temporary.

I oftentimes find solace when I sit in one corner watching my group play. I know that each and everyone is unique and have one way or another have personal issues. I just wondered why we managed to laugh and smile when deep inside, we're hurt. Family problems, break-ups, confused identity, family acceptance, lost business, are just some of the problems that I gathered when I happen to sit down and talk with them about life.

Life and relationships are as brittle as the shuttlecock. And one can wear a smiling face for a mask. But I just hope that, even with badminton, I can touch lives for the better.

No matter how good I play, I won't be remembered if I fail to touch lives.