Thursday, January 24, 2013

Things I learned while flying

I had a couple long flights lately, on my way to Singapore and Taiwan, and back.  I watched MANY movies over the course of those flights (especially the 14-hour flights between Atlanta and Tokyo!).  And maybe I learned a few things along the way.

In the spirit of Donald Shimoda, from the book Illusions, "I’ll quote the truth wherever I find it, thank you."  So let me start with a few quotes.  Maybe these sounded more profound while I was only half awake in the middle of a long flight, but I like them and it's my blog so here they are.

From the movie "The Perks of Being a Wallflower" we have two quotes:
"We can't choose where we come from but we can choose where we go from there."
"We accept the love we think we deserve."

From the movie "The Lucky One" (I think this was while flying over the Aleutian Islands):
"You live long enough, you lose enough people, you learn to appreciate the memories you have and stop begrudging the ones you never got to make."

And finally, a challenge.  From the movie "Won't Back Down":
"What are you going to do with your one and only life?"

Now let's move to a TED talk that I listened to on one of the flights.  It was:
"Jane McGonigal: The game that can give you 10 extra years of life "

Apart from the main purpose of the talk, that playing games, online games in particular, can make your life better, let me focus on one part of the talk.  She mentions the top regrets of the dying.
  1. I wish I hadn't worked so hard.
  2. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
  3. I wish I had let myself be happier.
  4. I wish I'd had the courage to express my true self.
  5. I wish I'd lived a life true to my dreams, instead of what others expected of me.
She showed an article from The Guardian:
"Top five regrets of the dying" by Susie Steiner

Let me quote this article in full.
There was no mention of more sex or bungee jumps. A palliative nurse who has counselled the dying in their last days has revealed the most common regrets we have at the end of our lives. And among the top, from men in particular, is 'I wish I hadn't worked so hard'.

Bronnie Ware is an Australian nurse who spent several years working in palliative care, caring for patients in the last 12 weeks of their lives. She recorded their dying epiphanies in a blog called Inspiration and Chai, which gathered so much attention that she put her observations into a book called The Top Five Regrets of the Dying.

Ware writes of the phenomenal clarity of vision that people gain at the end of their lives, and how we might learn from their wisdom. "When questioned about any regrets they had or anything they would do differently," she says, "common themes surfaced again and again."

Here are the top five regrets of the dying, as witnessed by Ware:

1. I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

"This was the most common regret of all. When people realise that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honoured even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made. Health brings a freedom very few realise, until they no longer have it."

2. I wish I hadn't worked so hard.

"This came from every male patient that I nursed. They missed their children's youth and their partner's companionship. Women also spoke of this regret, but as most were from an older generation, many of the female patients had not been breadwinners. All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence."

3. I wish I'd had the courage to express my feelings.

"Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others. As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming. Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result."

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

"Often they would not truly realise the full benefits of old friends until their dying weeks and it was not always possible to track them down. Many had become so caught up in their own lives that they had let golden friendships slip by over the years. There were many deep regrets about not giving friendships the time and effort that they deserved. Everyone misses their friends when they are dying."

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

"This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realise until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called 'comfort' of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content, when deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again."

What's your greatest regret so far, and what will you set out to achieve or change before you die?

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Did we blend? No. Definitely Not.

January 12, 2013 was an amazing day.  Work colleague and I went for a little motorcycle ride, Singapore into Malaysia.  About 415 km, up to Mersing (for lunch) and back.  Two main themes:

1. Interesting ride ... followed by rain--monsoon rain.
This is a variation on a theme that we say in the electrical business: "Interesting test ... followed by fire."  Of course, we say that whenever a test goes horribly wrong.  Long story short, we were almost back (already back in Singapore), and then we got caught in the heaviest rain I've ever seen in my life.  The streets had three inches of running water on them--not just in puddles, but in the higher parts of the streets, just because there was so much water.  And the puddles we had to ride through were as much as 8-12 inches deep.  Cars would drive past us and our upper bodies were getting hit with water.  Didn't matter, though, everything we had was already sopping wet.  I'm still trying to dry out.

2. Did we blend?  No.  Definitely not.
This is a variation on all the "Will it blend?" videos on YouTube.  Simply put, we did not.  My co-worker and I are both 6' 3" white guys.  And one of us was riding a loud, shiny, Harley-Davidson (the other was riding a loud BMW).  Everybody was gawking at us.  Not obnoxiously, but on the highway people were driving forward with their heads sideways, focused squarely on us.  We were the big, loud, stereotypical Americans today--hey, those are the bikes I found to rent.  People don't (successfully) run motorcycle rental businesses by renting tiny motorcycles.

Maybe a third theme:

3. I had to go all the way to Malaysia to appreciate a Harley-Davidson.
Okay, don't be ridiculous, I certainly don't want to buy one.  Both of my bikes are WAY Better than the Harley (and WAY better than the BMW, by the way).  The Softail we had was nice, but it was a big wallowing pig in the turns.  More comfortable, in a way, than the BMW, but not for riding.  It's not really a good riding position, bad on the back.  Still, I can see why people like them.  Nice feel, nice sound.  And some people like being the center of attention.

We saw a lot of other stuff along the way.  Including monkeys by the side of the road, which was odd.  Very interesting day.

8:30a.  Already a HOT day.

The Harley ran out of gas a few miles south of Kluang.

 Couple pictures from the coast, in Mersing.

 Lunch in Mersing.  Cost was a little over $5 U.S. for lunch for both of us.

Interesting side note: I told my colleague where I rented the bikes.  He was a bit surprised that I didn't even realize that the motorcycle rental place was across the street from Orchard Towers.  Why is that special, you ask?  Well, it's the place that is well-known (by everybody except me, apparently) for being able to find any flavor of prostitute you might desire.  Wide open and all legal.  Singapore is an interesting place.  Extremely strict in some ways (the entry card you fill out says, "Warning Death For Drug Traffickers Under Singapore Law") and there is not one bit of trash on the streets, but then you have something like Orchard Towers.  Yes, I'm clueless about these things.

Click the link at the bottom of the map to see the (approximate) route we took.

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