New Nifty Gadget

Having the right tools is an important thing in order for us to do our work properly. You cannot build a house if you only have a hammer. You need a lot of tools and the proper equipment to do so. And if you have power tools, that would be great.

One thing that make humans rise above other creatures is our ability to create or invent tools and instruments to improve our lives. Like the invention of the wheel that started the era of mechanization. Or the development of the pointed weapons, like the spear and arrow, that started the arms race. Look how far we’ve come.

One duty that I have, or more so a responsibility, that I do every week, requires using the right gadget. However, the old one that I have is so worn out. I have even used duct tape to fix it to keep it working, yet it is plainly giving out. It is not as powerful as it used to. Afterall the equipment is almost 30 years old.

So I told my boss, oh I forgot I am my own boss, that I needed a new gadget to replace the old one. For how can I do a good job, if I am using a sub par tool?

But before you think, that my task is something critical or life-and-death undertaking, or something grand of a project that I needed some sophisticated power tool, what I am pertaining to is my mundane task of cleaning our floor, and what I need is a new vacuum system.

At least I can say that I own the floor that I clean. Even so, I take pride on doing my work.

By the way, the vacuum cleaner is not a modern machine. Its development dates back to the 1860’s. It revolutionized how we clean our homes. When it first came out it was more of a luxury equipment as it was so expensive. After World War II, with the drop in the cost of production, the middle class were able to afford the vacuum cleaner. Nowadays, it is in most households.

Here’s my old equipment that is dying on me:

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For my readers especially from my homeland, I want to let you know that we don’t have any house helpers here in the US. We do most of the house chores ourselves. If you have young children, please let them participate in house work and not rely every thing to the house help. Work is good for them. It builds character and it trains them for life.

So one weekend we headed out to the local vacuum store and I got a shiny and up to date central vacuum system. Here it is:

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I know it is just the same-old same-old vacuum that I got and not a high-tech or futuristic gadget. Yet it is still an upgrade of what I used to employ back in the Philippines, the walis and the bunot.

Of course I still have my robot vacuum, iRobot Roomba, that remains functional. But it’s too slow and in some areas of the house, the Roomba does not do a good job. So I still rely on good old human-powered cleaning machine. That’s me!

It is inaccurate if I would claim that I am the only one who is doing the cleaning in our house. My wife and my kids do as well. Except my eldest is now away in college, and not too long from now my youngest will be too. So I will be retaining the title of “floor manager,” that is in-charge of keeping the floor clean, for a long time.

For my new vacuum, “you suck!” And that’s a good thing.

Where Teddy Bear Dare Not Trod

A child’s Teddy Bear should not witness sad and painful experiences. Yet they do. Here’s a story for you.

I was working that weekend in the hospital for more than 24 hours already, mainly in the ICU, but still had a whole day to contend with. Then came Sunday morning, I was called to the Emergency Department (ED) for a CPR-in-progress. It was a woman in her 40’s who had a cardiac arrest. I was told she was still talking when she was brought by the ambulance. However she became unresponsive and her heart stopped few minutes upon arrival.

When I arrived at the resuscitation room of the ED, a team was furiously doing CPR on the patient, with the ED doctor directing the care. A Lucas device (a robotic contraption) was strapped on the patient’s chest doing the mechanical cardiac compression, while other personnel were hovering around the patient assisting in any way they can.

After about 30 minutes of CPR, which is already an eternity of CPR time, we still could not establish a stable cardiac rhythm. We probed the chest with an ultrasound while the Lucas device was temporarily paused, and it showed that there was no heart motion at all. In simple terms, the patient was dead.

But before we completely pronounce the patient dead, one of the team members suggested that we get the patient’s husband to the room so he can be present. So the CPR continued until the husband can be at the bedside. It is now acceptable to have family members in the room when CPR is in progress.

One study from France that was published in New England Journal of Medicine (a leading medical circulation) in 2013 showed that family members who watched CPR on their loved one have far less post traumatic stress disorder three months later. Similar later studies support this as well, stating that family presence can help ameliorate the pain of the death through the feeling of having helped support the patient during the passage from life to death and of having participated in this important moment.

When the husband came in to the resuscitation room, he was tugging along their son, who was clutching a Teddy Bear. The boy, I believe, was about 8-10 years old. The moment I saw the boy walked into the room, my heart sank. I felt that the boy should have been left outside and should have not witness this traumatic event. But it was too late.

Perhaps whoever spoke to them outside the room did not suggest that it was better for the boy to stay outside. Perhaps there was nobody who can stay with the boy outside the room. Perhaps it was the father’s decision to bring along the son to the room. Perhaps they have no idea of what they would witness. Or perhaps the father was not thinking clearly as he had more serious issues to grapple.

The boy was squirming while his father was holding him, and was shielding his eyes with his Teddy Bear. Finally he was able to escape from his dad’s grasp and he dashed out of the room with his bear. Was the scene too much for the boy or too much for the bear?

The father stayed in the room though until we finally stopped the CPR and pronounced the patient dead.

To lose a mother was already a tragedy. But to lose a mother at such a young age and witnessed it as she die was really heartbreaking.

Many of us feel that we should try to shield children from the painful facts of life. We believe that children should be all fun and play, sugar and spice, and everything nice. Yet for some kids, sooner or later, they have to deal with the ugly realities of this world.

I know Emergency Rooms are not for Teddy Bears. But I do not care about the bear. I care about the boy behind the bear. Besides the comfort from his cuddly companion, I pray that he finds lots of love and reassurance from the remaining family he has.

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(*photo from Pinterest)

Rico J, Isang Pagpupugay

Nitong mga nakaraang araw, ay namamayagpag sa aking pandinig ang mga OPM (Original Pilipino Music). Nalungkot ako sa balita noong isang linggo na pumanaw na pala si Rico J. Puno. Kaya para mabawasan ang aking pagkalumbay ay nagpipiyesta na lang ako sa pakikinig ng mga OPMs, lalo na sa mga kanta ni Rico J.

Isa si Rico J sa mga nagpasikat ng mga OPM. Siguro naman lahat tayong mga Pinoy ay alam ang kanyang mga kanta. Tulad nito:

“Kapalaran kung hanapin, di matagpuan, at kung minsan lumalapit nang ‘di mo alam.” (Kapalaran)

Sa totoo lang naisama ko na ang linya ng kantang ito sa isa sa aking blog, Bahala na si Batman.

Mayroon din siyang kanta na nakakapukaw ng damdamin. Tulad nito:

“Huwag damdamin ang kasawian, may bukas pa sa iyong buhay, sisikat din ang iyong araw, ang landas mo ay mag-iilaw.” (May Bukas Pa)

Nagkaroon din ako ng blog na ang pamagat ay mula sa kantang ito, May Bukas Pa.

At mayroon din mga kanta si Rico Puno na pinangarap mong sana ikaw rin ay kagaya niya. Tulad ng:

“Macho gwapito raw ako!” (Macho Gwapito)

Pero hindi naman ako naging macho dahil patpatin nga ako noong araw.

Nakakalungkot lang isipin na wala na si Rico Puno. Para sa akin na lumisan ng ating bayan at matagal nang wala sa bansa, parang bang ako’y nanghihinayang na hindi ko na mababalikan ang aking naiwan. Para bagang may kulang na sa Pilipinas na aking nakagisnan.

Pero sangayon din sa isang awit ni Rico J, eh talagang ganyan ang buhay:

“Sa mundo ang buhay ay mayroong hangganan, dahil ay lupa lamang.” (Lupa)

Hindi lang mga OPM ang namimiss ko kapag nabanggit si Rico Puno. Namimiss ko rin kung saan ako nanggaling at kung saan ako lumaki. Kung hindi ninyo po alam, si Rico J ay lumaki sa may Balik-Balik sa Sampaloc Manila. Iyong apartment kung saan sila nanirahan noon ay sa kabilang kalye lang mula kung saan ako nakatira doon sa Sampaloc. Siyempre naging proud ang mga naging kapitbahay niya nang siya ay naging sikat na.

Mabalik tayo sa mga OPM, lumaki akong nakikinig ng mga kantang Pilipino, hindi lang kanta ni Rico J. Nakakaaliw ngang isipin na iba’t iba ang mga OPM.

May mga awit na makatotoo:

“Isang kahig, isang tuka, ganyan kaming mga dukha.” (Dukha by Heber Bartolome)

May mga kantang matalinghaga:

“Patakan n’yo ng luha ang apoy sa kanyang puso.” (Balita by Asin)

At mayroon ding mahiwaga:

“Butse kik, ek ek ek.” (Butse Kik by Yoyoy Villame)

May kantang mapangutya:

“Beh, buti nga, beh, buti nga, bebebebeh, buti nga!” (Beh Buti Nga by Hotdog)

May mga kanta na garapal:

“Pahipo naman, pahawak naman, hindi na kita matsangsingan.” (No Touch by Mike Hanopol)

Kung sa panahong ito kapag kinanta mo ito ay pwede kang kasuhan ng sexual harassment.

Meron din namang mga awit na nakakatawa, pero may aral.

“Banal na aso, santong kabayo, natatawa ako.” (Banal na Aso Santong Kabayo by Yano)

Pero ang mga awit na tunay na napamahal sa atin ay iyong may kahulugan sa atin. Marahil may mga karanasan tayong hindi malilimutan na nakakawit sa kantang iyon. Para po sa akin, isa sa mga ito ay kanta ni Rico Puno:

“Alaala ng tayo’y magsweetheart pa, namamasyal pa sa Luneta nang walang pera.” (The Way We Were by Rico Puno)

Sa katunayan nai-blog ko na rin ang karanasan kong ito, Alaala ng Luneta.

Nakakamiss talaga. Kaya magsa-sound trip na lang uli ako at magpapakalunod sa mga OPM. Maraming salamat sa mga magagandang alaala, Rico J. Puno.

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(*photo from the web)

Leksiyong Pang-Grade One

May mga bagay na nakaukit na sa ating isipan. Kahit pa may mga ilan na hindi natin matandaan, gaya kung saan natin inilapag ang susi ng bahay, o kaya ang birthday ng ating biyenan, pero may mga bagay na hindi natin makalimutan. Tulad ng aking mga karanasan at mga leksiyon noong ako’y Grade One.

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Ako ay nag-Grade One sa isang maliit na pribadong paaralan sa Quezon City. Hindi kalakihan ang klase at mag-kasama pa nga ang mga estudyanteng Grade 1 at Grade 2 sa iisang classroom.

Hindi ko makalimutan ang ilan sa aking kaklase. Si Rolando, na kukurap-kurap, na para siyang laging kumikindat. Noong tumanda na lang ako, kesa ko nalaman na isa palang medical condition iyon – facial tic disorder. Nandiyan din si Nathan, na mestisuhin. Hindi sa ako’y naiingit na maputi siya, dahil masaya ako sa kulay kong “Italyano” – Itang Ilokano. At si Ronald na aking seatmate. Seatmate din namin ang nanay niya, dahil nakaupo ito sa likuran namin sa boong isang taon ng klase.

Maghapon ang aming klase kaya may bitbit akong baon. Inilalagay ang aming mga lunch box sa isang tabi ng classroom. Isang araw, isang Grade 2 na estudyante ang kumuha at kumain ng aking baon. Iniabot daw ng isa niyang kaklase ang aking lunch box dahil sa akalang ito’y sa kanya. Ang mokong naman kahit alam na hindi ito sa kanya, ay kinain pa rin ang aking baon!

Kaya’t unang aral ko sa Grade One ay ito:

1. Magpakatatag, kahit ang buhay kung minsan ay hindi patas. May mga bagay na nararapat na para sa iyo, ay aagawin pa ng iba. 

Hindi ko na matandaan kung ano ang aking kinain nung tanghaling iyon. Pero aking ipinaalam sa aking guro ang nangyari. Nakatagal naman ako hanggang hapon at hanggang sa mag-uwian na. At bumalik pa kinabukasan sa klase.

Naaalala ko rin noon na matapos ang aming lunch break, kami ay laging may siesta. Papatayin ang ilaw, at kami ay hihiga sa sahig o kaya ay sa desk para kami ay magpahinga. Medyo sapilitan ang pagpapatulog sa amin. May mga class monitor pa, sila iyong mga kaklase namin na in-charge daw, at sinusumbong nila sa aming teacher kung sinong ayaw matulog. Isa ako sa ayaw matulog.

Kung ako lang ang masusunod, maglalaro ako sa labas at magtatatakbo sa initan ng katanghaling tapat, hanggang sa tumagaktak ang aking pawis. Bakit pa kasi kailangan ng nap time?

Pero ngayong tayo’y tumanda na, kahit pa ibawas sa ating working hours ay payag tayo, magkaroon lamang ng ilang saglit na pahinga o siesta. Dahil sa sobrang abala at pagod natin, inaasam-asam natin kahit konting nap time o kaya’y free time para sa ating sarili.

Kaya’t ang pangalawang leksiyon ko sa Grade One ay ito:

2. May mga bagay na hindi mo gusto at parang walang kabuluhan ngayon, ngunit sa pagdaan ng panahon ay hahanap-hanapin mo.  Matutong pahalagahan ang mga ito.

Nakakatuwa lang isipin na ang batang galit sa tulog noon ay isang duktor na espesyalista sa pagtulog ngayon.

May panahon namang binibigay para kami ay maglaro. Ang mga gusto kong laro noon ay sipa, jolens, trumpo, teks, shato, patintero, habulan, prisoner’s base, at taguan. Kahit nga piko at jackstone ay nilalaro ko kalaban ang mga babae kong kaeskwela.

Hindi lang naman kaming mga Grade One ang naglalaro. Kahit ‘yung malalaking bata ay naglalaro din. Dahil medyo maliit ang school ground ng aming paaralan kaya minsan walang masyadong space para maglaro.

Isang hapon, may mga Grade Six na mga estudyante ang nagta-tumbling tumbling at nagsa-sommersault sa playground. Dahil haharang-harang ako, o dahil kasi maliit ako kaya’t wala silang pakundangan, nasipa ako ng isang lalaki habang ito ay nagta-tumbling. Tumilapon akong parang lata ng tumbang preso!

Kahit ako’y nasaktan, hindi naman ako makapalag. Nang ako’y mahimasmasan at lumingon sa batang nakasipa sa akin, nakita ko itong namimilipit na rin sa sakit. Ito ay dahil sa isang estudyanteng Grade Six ang humangos upang ako’y ipagtanggol at inumbag niya sa sikmura ang batang lalaki. Ang mabilis na sumaklolo sa akin ay ang aking ate. Oo, ipinagtanggol ako ng isang babae.

Kaya’t isa sa aral ko mula Grade One ay ito:

3. Mahalin natin ang ating pamilya. Sila ang  magtatanggol at tutulong sa atin sa oras ng pangangailangan.

Oo nga’t batid ko na hindi perpekto ang bawa’t pamilya. Ngunit darating ang panahon na walang iba kung hindi pamilya pa rin natin ang magsasalba sa atin. Ika nga nila, “Blood is thicker than water.”

Sa katunayan madalas akong tumilapon noon. Kaya kong tumilapong mag-isa. Bata pa kasi ako ay dare-devil na ako. Mahilig akong umakyat kung saan-saan at tumalon na parang Spiderman. Wala nga akong kadala-dala, kahit pumutok na ang noo ko noong ako’y tumalon sa hagdan, tapos pumutok din ang nguso ko nang ako’y lumipad sa swing. Eto ay bago pa ako mag-Grade One.

Isang araw nang ako’y nasa paaralan, tumatakbo ako sa loob ng banyo. Kahit banyo ginagawa kong playground noong ako’y Grade One. Dahil basa ang sahig, bigla akong nadulas at nakanto ang aking mukha sa pader. Pumutok na naman ang mukha ko at muntik na sa may kaliwang mata. Hindi ko nga alam kung bakit mukha ko ang lagi kong ipinangsasalo ng disgrasya.

Dinala nila ako sa aking teacher upang asikasuhin ang aking sugat. Duguan na naman ang dating ako. Ano kaya ang nasa-isip ng aking guro? Siguro sa isip-isip niya, may mararating ang batang ire kung hindi lang mababalda sa kalikutan, o kaya’y may potensiyal ang batang ire kung hindi lang mababasag ang bungo.

Matapos mapatigil ang pagdudugo, ay pinahiran ng aking teacher ang aking sugat ng mercurochrome. Ito ‘yung pulang likido na mahapdi kapag ipinapahid sa sugat. Sa aking isip noon, masakit na nga ang sugat, bakit kailangan pa itong lalong pahapdiin. Hindi ko pa maintindihan na ito ay anti-septic at kailangan para hindi ma-infection upang maghilom ang aking sugat.

Kaya isa pa sa aking leksiyong natutunan noong Grade One ay ito:

4. May mga karanasan sa buhay na mahapdi, pero kinakailangan para sa ating ikabubuti. Dahil sa mga sugat, tayo’y natututo.

Iyon na rin ang huling peklat sa mukha ko.

Kung tutuusin marami talaga tayong natutunan noong Grade One. Tulad ng pagbabasa, pagsusulat, pagbilang, pagtula at pagkanta. Oo nga’t parang payak lang ang ating alam noon pero ang karunungan ay isang proseso.

Mayroon akong isang kalaro na bata pa lang siya ay pangarap na niyang maging Engineer. Kwento ng nanay niya sa nanay ko, umuwi raw na umiiyak ang aking kalaro noong unang araw niya sa Grade One. Ang dahilan? Dahil hindi raw pang-Engineering ang tinuturo sa Grade One.

Isang araw, kami ay tinuraang bumasa ng oras ng aming guro sa Grade One. Ipinaliwanag niya na may dalawang kamay ang orasan – ang hour hand at minute hand. Para lalo naming maintindihan, tumawag siya ng dalawang estudyante sa harap para magrepresenta sa mga kamay ng orasan. Si Ronald, ang aking seatmate ang minute hand, at ako ang hour hand. Sinabi niya kay Ronald na lumakad nang mabilis, at habang ako nama’y lumakad nang mabagal.

Dahil gusto ko ring lumakad ng mabilis at makipag-unahan kay Ronald, kaya’t ako’y inakbayan at ginabayan ng aking guro na magdahan-dahan. Sa tingin ko hindi lang pagbasa ng oras ang natutunan ko noong araw na iyon.

Isa pa sa aking natutunan noong ako’y Grade One ay ito:

5. Huwag natin laging madaliin ang buhay.  Kahit mabagal, basta may katiyakan ang ating pakay ay makakarating din tayo sa paroroonan.

Nakaalpas naman ako ng Grade One. Pero ako’y inilipat na sa ibang paaralan nang ako’y mag-Grade Two.

Ano na nga ang nangyari sa aking kalaro na umuwi ng bahay dahil hindi raw pang-Engineering ang tinuturo sa Grade One? Nagtuloy din naman siya ng pag-aaral at nakatapos. Siya ay nangibang-bayan din. Ngayon, siya ay isa nang ganap at matagumpay na Engineer Registered Nurse.

(*photo from the web)

Watching the Game

The NBA season is now in full swing, and you probably know already that I am a basketball fan. I enjoy watching as much as playing the game. (Read past post here.)

Iowa has no NBA team though. So if I want to watch a live NBA game, I need to drive north to Minneapolis that takes 3 hours, or go east to Chicago that takes 5 hours, or south to Oklahoma for 7 hours, or west to Denver for 9 hours. Those are the nearest locations I have. Of course I can always stay at home and watch it on TV.

We have decent college basketball teams in Iowa nonetheless. In fact, college basketball games may be more energetic and intense, as the players are younger and more fearless. But I am not in to college hoops. At least not that much.

I have seen a live NBA game before when we were still living in Florida. That was fifteen years ago. I got the chance to see the Orlando Magic twice, and for free too, courtesy of a friend of a friend who had season tickets.

However that was not my first time to watch a live professional basketball game. When I was still in the Philippines, I had a former classmate in high school who became a journalist. She invited me to watch a Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) game, as she had reserved seats as a sports writer. We were so close to the action as we were seated at the back of the scorer’s table. That was a real treat!

All those experiences were from a long time ago.

That’s why when the NBA came in town here in Iowa, I cannot resist the opportunity to see a live basketball game again. I bought tickets even if it was just a pre-season game.

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The seats that I got were near the court side that I can easily read the names of the players on their jerseys. It was close enough that I can even hear the coach during their huddle.

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But since it was a pre-season game, it does not have the intensity of a regular season game. And it definitely does not have the fever pitch excitement of a playoff or championship game. Although Giannis Antetokounmpo made a couple of spectacular dunks in that game.

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Anyhow, the more wild and high-flying action was during the intermission.

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Overall, it was a good enough experience for me.

In my opinion, nothing still beats the elation of playing the game yourself, rather than being a mere spectator. Even if the basketball game you were playing was just in the streets and you were bruising it out with your friends, or strangers from the other street. Those were the days I really miss.

(*photos taken with an iPhone)

My Rabbit

We all have our passion. We all have our aspiration. Something that we pursue. Something that we chase. Our rabbit.

Here’s mine:

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Unfortunately this one got away, so I have to track another one:

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But the real rabbit is the sense of fulfillment, plus the self-discipline that I develop, and not to mention the health benefits of keeping this chase.

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Photos taken during my half-marathon (13.1 miles). A pacer, a runner that sets the pace and have you finish the race in certain projected time, is also called a rabbit. The first photo was taken at the 8th mile. However, leg cramps made my first rabbit got away. The second photo was taken at the 12th mile.

A Concert Grand

Thank you Steinway Concert Grand* for singing wonderfully tonight. Thank you for making Johann Sebastian Bach’s Prelude and Fugue live and breathe for us. For having Robert Schumann’s Papillion flutter and dance. And for letting Maurice Ravel’s Sonatine serenade us tonight.

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I know you have played in so many recitals and concerts before. I know you have performed with so many great professors and excellent students. I am even sure you made music with some world-renowned pianists in the past.

But tonight is different. It is special. Very special. At least for me.

Thank you Steinway Concert Grand for letting my little daughter play with you tonight. For letting her delicate little fingers run and tinker with your ivories and ebonies. Those beautiful little fingers, that only yesterday, were playing with dirt and plucking dandelions in our yard.

I know. She’s not as little anymore, than what I want to believe.

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(*A Concert Grand piano is the standard for Classical performance and recording. It measures about 9 feet long.)

(**Photos taken during a university’s junior solo recital.)

App and Ready

In about a week, I will be running the Des Moines half-marathon. It will be my seventh time to run this distance.

Marathon is a long run, but do you wonder why it is some odd distance of 26 miles? It is because that is how far the battlefield of Marathon (town in Greece) to the city of Athens was, wherein the legendary Greek soldier, Pheidippides, ran the entire distance without stopping to relay to the people of Athens the message that they won over the Persians in 490 BC. Shortly after exclaiming the good news, Pheidippides collapsed and died. His epic run inspired the modern race.

Obviously half-marathon is half that distance. It is for people who are crazy enough to run for a long ways but not capable enough to finish an entire marathon. People like me. Well, that’s not entirely true, for I know there’s a lot of people who are more than capable of finishing a marathon but just choose to run the half as their preferred race.

You already know that this year, I am using a running app to help me train and record my progress. I originally thought that I can improve my pace to about 10-minute mile using this app. Not that I intend to break some records, but for mere bragging rights.

Yet in the end, I settled to a pace that is more comfortable for me, where I can run the distance without killing myself. I think highly of Pheidippides, but I don’t like what happened to him. I guess I’m stuck at 11 to 12-minute mile, a pace I used to run even before I avail this darn app. App to no good?

Speaking of fast pace, last month, Eliud Kipchoge set a new marathon world record by finishing it in 2 hours, 1 minute and 39 seconds. His average pace was a blistering 4 minutes and 38.4 seconds per mile. And I thought 10-minute mile is already hard!

Few weeks ago, before we went to Texas for a medical mission trip, I joined the annual 3.1-mile (5K) run, sponsored by our local church as a fund-raising event. I have been joining this run for the last 5 years, but this year I got a medal. I was the third placer in the men’s division!

Maybe the app helped me after all. I ran that 3.1 miles in 27 minutes and some seconds. That was a 9-minute mile pace, the fastest I covered that distance ever. The two men who were faster than me finished it in 22 minutes, and one was a Kenyan.

According to the running experts, elite male runners finish the 3.1 mile run in 13-15 minutes, while “average runners” finish it in 20-25 minutes. My best time does not even fall into “average,” so I cannot really brag about it then.

Anyway, here are the last three long runs that I did in preparation for the half-marathon, as documented on my app.

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I believe I am ready. So bring it on!

(*background photos taken during each run)

A Passenger

Would you like to be a driver or a passenger?

Many of us would probably choose to be the driver, for we want to be in control. However, there are certain journeys in life where being a passenger is more delightful.  And just enjoy the ride.

Eight years ago, I was a passenger to my son’s playful dream (see original post here).

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Today, I am really his passenger.

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Even though it can be uneasy, I will savor this passage.

Who knows what’s next on this journey, but I am looking forward to it.

(*photos taken by the passenger)

Steel Magnolia

Silo|ˈsīlō|: a tower or pit on a farm to store grain.

Silos are a common sight here in Iowa. Since Iowa is mostly farm fields, they are part of our landscape. Yet, when we went to Texas, we toured a silo. What we visited was not an ordinary silo though. In fact it was a popular destination.

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As you already know, we went to Texas two weeks ago for a medical mission (see previous post). But we were still able to squeeze some time for a side trip.

After we landed in Fort Worth, Texas and were on our way to our hotel, we saw many road signs that lead to Waco, Texas. My wife asked our Uber driver how far Waco was from Fort Worth, and he told us that it was about an hour and fifteen minutes drive. My wife got excited.

Waco, Texas has been known in the past for some disturbing events. Some even correlate Waco to Wacko, which means Psycho. If you don’t know the history, it was about a cult led by David Koresh who had his followers live on a ranch in Waco. However, it was later put under siege by the government authorities in 1993. The compound was set ablaze, leading to several deaths.

My wife was not excited to see Waco for that. Fortunately, Waco is now known in a more positive light thanks to the popularity of Chip and Joanna Gaines. This couple became famous due to their HGTV show “Fixer Upper,” where they converted many rundown houses in Waco into beautiful dream homes.

The “Fixer Upper” show ended, but this couple has engaged in some other business of their own. They had bought a property in Waco that has a rundown silo, and they turn it into their own store, making it their most notable project to date. It is officially known as the “Magnolia Market at the Silos.” It is rustic, yet chic. Like a blend of steel and flowers. This property is now a tourist destination.

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It was not in our initial plan to go to Waco, but my wife, who is an avid fan of Chip and Joanna Gaines, could not resist the chance to see this place. In order to visit Waco from Fort Worth, we had to rent a car. Going by taxi or Uber would have been impractical as it would be too costly, and riding a bus would take us several hours – a time that we didn’t have.

When we went to the car rental, we were told that the only vehicle available since we did not have a reservation, was a large pick-up truck. That did not stop us. We drove that big truck to Waco and readily blended-in as Texans. Everything is big in Texas!

My wife could not contain her excitement when we reached the Magnolia Market. Needless to say, we did not leave that store empty-handed.

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Besides the home décor store, they also have a garden, a seed supply store, and several food trucks selling gourmet sandwiches, interestingly flavored ice cream, freshly squeezed lemonade and much more.

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In that market, they also have a bakery that sells some rather tasty cupcakes. The bakery was so popular, that the line snaked long outside the building. A sign in that bakery states: “A balanced diet is a cupcake in each hand.” Of course we tried some of those bake goods too.

Even though we were there for only a little more than an hour, we felt gratified. We spent more time driving than the actual time we stayed there, but it was still worth the effort. For one thing, it made my wife happy. And that was more than enough for me.

(*photos taken with an iPhone)