Thursday, April 15, 2010

Is happiness an illusion ?

Is happiness real or is it just an illusion ? Some may say it's real and life is all about happiness. You may say it is not real and therefre there is no point of pursuing it. A movie released in 2006, "The Pursuit of Happyness" (exact title, not a mispelling), directed by Gabrielle Muccino and Will Smith who played the role of a struggling salesman. The salesman took a custody of his son as he poised to begin a life-changing professional endeavor. It's based on a true story, probably most of us have nothing to relate to especially the level of the drama.

What if happiness is just an illusion. No matter how hard and how long you pursue it, it's just endless and unreachable. You dream about getting a big and expensive house or a new car. The first day is a huge excitement and before you know it the excitement evaporates. We love happy ending movies, especially with "happily ever after". We love good surprises, they give a sense of rejuvenation, an instant happiness booster. The closest definition I could relate happiness to is "instant gratification", at least for the modern era of "happiness".

When I searched the Bible, only a few verses came out, they were all in the Old Testament. Jesus didn't teach about happiness either. Instead of short term gratification, He wants us to pursue eternal purposes.

As long as we live in this world, everything comes with a price. The price you pay with our perceived happiness is measured by our ability to accept when we lose a level of happiness. Are you confused enough ? Here is an example. Often times my children were in their worst behaviors right after they came back from a fun place such as a party, play area, or other activities. We all went through that growing up and learned to anticipate many ups and downs in our lives. There is another word for it, "content". Are you content with what you have and losing what you have ?

To be continued.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Unwed Mothers

I was shocked to learn from reading the Startribune newspaper today, the birth rate in 2007 was higher than the baby boomers era (1950s). . A big portion of those the births were contributed from the lowest number of abortions in decades because unmarried mothers have been more socially acceptable, Palin's daughter for example. 40% of the births in 2007 were from unmarried mothers. I don't mean to judge them, my point is let's face it, we have a crisis. Looking forward, what can we do as parents to stop this trend ? I have 3 girls and I don't want them to be unmarried mothers one day either. I have a strong reason to be concerned.

Often times people could easily blame on parents for their children misbehavior or misconduct. On the other hand, often times parents get too much credit for the success of their children. There is only so much parents can do and we cross our fingers and pray for the future of our children. Having said that I think there is a fine line between being perceived as good parents and seeking the best interest for our children.

Every parent loves to brag about their children. The question is on the motive. Do we raise our children so that we can claim credits when brag about our children ? It is whether the focus is on our children or on ourselves (parents). For example, parents could spoil their children with luxuries with the purpose of they don't have to deal with their children, and others may see them as great parents by providing so much for their children. In this case it's about self interest instead of the best interest of the children.

Now going back to the article in the newspaper, an unmarried mother said the option of getting married is not possible while she still keeps her relationship with two men who father her children. Some of them simply do not want to deal with relationship, some for career reason, and some for financial reason (tax, welfare) for examples. If those are the reasons, I would think it's a selfish reason (not the best interest of their children). And yes I admit there are many single moms who do not have a choice. But for those who have an inexcusable choice, consider it wisely. A study shows children grew up with single moms are twice less likely religious. 80% of inmates grew up with single moms. I hope at least the numbers speak for themselves.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Recession is Up Close and Personal

For awhile I thought the US economic recession would not impact my job, early this year I was proven wrong. It was a domino effect from the parent company, Sanken Electric (Japan), and the sister company, Allegro Microsystems (Boston). As semiconductor wafer orders are diminishing thus the revenue. That leaves the company with no other feasible choice but to cut cost.

About 50% of the company's expenses are on payroll. After trimming non payroll expenses, this morning a distressful meeting was called. All contractors and temps were laid off. All full-timers will be asked to take 4 weeks off unpaid, essentially 4 weeks lay-off. On top of that the 401K matching will be temporarily removed. All managers will get additional 5% paycut. They amount to 10% paycut to non-managerial positions and 15% for managers.

The good news is I will not get laid-off. I just have to be content with my income after the paycut. After taking into account how much money I am going to get from the unemployment benefit, I will get just about as much as the first half of last year income before I got a raise. Not to mention I am going to get an extra 4 weeks off. It's still a reasonable trade-off and I need to look at the bright side.

I'll pray for everyone out there who is impacted by the economic crisis. Personally I knew people who lost their jobs and those who may lose their house. From time to time I have to remind myself not to be too attached to this world, I recognize it is a sin. It can be a big burden to carry around. Living in America makes it particularly difficult to detach myself from so much "stuff" around me. It's not just belongings but also people, including family, that becomes part of personal pride. I need your prayer as well.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Our youngest stinker: "I still live with my parents"

I begin to think she will never leave the house :) :)

Good: tax deduction.
Bad: saving deduction.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Chinese New Year

On Jan 26th we had an awesome family time together to celebrate Chinese New Year. Here is a link to Wikipedia: .

I grew up having the same family meal every Chinese New Year. Unlike American fondue, broth is used to boil food such as meat, vegetable, and noodle. It is a slow process of eating and allowing people to spend time together. I always believe happy family starts in the kitchen.

Back when I was growing up in Indonesia, my school had unofficial two days holiday. Usually most of us took four days off and got into trouble. It was not so bad when it involved 80-90% of students. We spent four days visiting relatives and friends, the best thing was food. It wasn't until late 1990's the government finally declared it as a national holiday. I left the country in 1988 (I can't believe I have spent more than half of my life out of the country).

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Interesting experience in Georgia

You would probably have heard it over and over again, another wonderful Christmas season (gifts, get together, etc). So here I've decided to omit it, part of it because I am not a routine blogger so I'd better utilize my blogging time.

After staying 3 days in Lake Crystal, MN, right after the Sunday church service around noon I hit the road and drove to the airport to catch my 3:45 PM flight to Georgia on the mission to help my brother move to his new house. He paid for the tickets and surely he put me to work.

On the next morning, Dec 29, we went to finalize the paper work for closing. We got together with the realtor and had breakfast at a waffle restaurant. The realtor made an extra stop to pick up rental payment from a family. He said it was a hassle to chase those low income African American families down. They often late in payment but always pay eventually. But he also felt sorry for their lives. They are often in between jobs and difficult to meet their ends. According to him dealing with real estate is complicated with segregated society. Once an African American family moves to a neighborhood it is very difficult to sell or rent a house to a Caucasian family in that area. He showed me another neighborhood where it's used to be white residents just several years ago and now all African Americans. It's something I've never heard in Minnesota. I believe the problem is more complicated than just simply blaming it on racism alone in Georgia. From what I heard you don't see it between Asian and Caucasian for example. There are deeper cultural division between black and white, frankly they can't stand each other. Obama wouldn't have been elected just because he is (half) black but because he was raised by white family. (One could argue most blacks voted for him but many people voted against him just because he is black and probably it evened out). Cultural assimilation and tolerance may be a solution.

After the house closing my brother and I went to get a Uhaul. To my surprise he said we were going to pick-up a couple able men from the street. He said it's not uncommon especially by construction companies. I wasn't sure what to think but went along with it. There were quite a number of people in some gas station looking for work. As soon as he made a signal probably 20 people rushing to get into the back of his car and he made it clear only two were needed. He said people could pay as low as $5/hour but he was generous enough to offer them $10/hour. I made a suggestion to offer them something to eat and he made a stop at a McDonalds. At least they would have energy to do all the lifting.

Even though we had big language barrier, by using gesture we manage to have them follow our instructions. As we started moving stuff out of my brother's first house, I was so impressed by how diligent those workers were. They worked so fast, running as they carried boxes and stuff. On each carry they kept asking for extra box or other stuff to save the trip. They were so efficient and working non-stop, remarkable.

We were done for the day around 8 PM and my brother offered them to go to an Indonesian restaurant. I didn't know they liked Indonesian food and thought probably we should go to a Mexican restaurant. My brother said they loved Indonesian food, Indonesian restaurants in Georgia had many hispanic customers. Then I thought about it and realized that Mexican and Indonesian food actually have many similarities.

We arranged to pick them up the next morning close to 9. After stopping by a McDonalds for breakfast, again they worked so efficiently through out the day. For lunch my brother took them to a Chinese buffet, I have to say it's a great food. We were done moving by 6 PM. My brother gave them $100 each even though they worked less than 10 hours. He pointed out that they had work very hard and probably didn't have a job the next day. We made five trips, it has been long two days !!! I have never done that much move before. After shower and dinner in Chinatown my brother dropped me off at the airport to catch my flight at 9 PM.

I was home shortly after mid night. It was snowing, a drastic change from 70s F summer-like weather in Georgia. My experience working with those hispanic workers still stick in my head for many days. For actually sitting next to them in the car and Uhaul truck, eating at the same table in restaurants, and smelling their smelly bodies gave me an up close and personal experience. I wish I could communicate with them and learn their stories.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Two Little Stinkers

Several weeks ago I was playing with my first and second daughters. At one point they were asking for something (I can't remember what it was) and I said "No". The oldest one asked the 2nd one whether she wanted it and she said yes. I said "No" again, then the oldest one said, "Well, two is stronger than one." And of course the younger one agreed with her. I couldn't help myself from laughing hard. After I settled down I said, "Democracy doesn't work here. I am the dictator in this house." They deserve the names I call them occasionally, "Stinkers" :) :)