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:


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:


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.

Quitting my Day Job

I was again on-call the other weekend. After the extended hours of working a very long week (2 weeks that blended into each other), I felt exhausted and depleted. Am I getting tired of this profession? What if I call it quits today? Will I be able to survive on my current passion and skills other than being a physician?

I can give more time to writing. In fact, writing is my stress reliever, that’s why I still blog no matter how busy I get. I enjoy writing, maybe because I don’t have any deadlines or quota on how many articles I can spew out. I write only when I want, and is always on my terms. But that may change if I have to write to earn a living.

Talking about earning, I was offered an honorary* amount of $25 for every article that I contribute to a national newspaper in the Philippines. So that can provide enough money for a decent meal for a day. And on days I cannot produce an article, I guess I don’t eat. Forget about supporting a family or sending my children to college.

But maybe I can write a book that will be a bestseller. Then maybe my book will be adapted into a movie. Then I certainly have it made. I can dream, can’t I? Or maybe I can make big money from this blogging? Ha! Dream on.

How about if I pay more attention to my piano playing? I was asked to play for a funeral service once and I did it out of respect. I was not expecting anything in return, but was surprised when they gave me an honorary sum of $75 for about 30 minutes of playing. Not a bad gig at all! But then I need to find more dead people to play in their funeral to make this a living. (Hanap-patay instead of hanap-buhay.) That’s not a good wishful thinking.

Maybe I can hone on my violin playing once more and move back to New York City to play at the Lincoln Center. Did you think the concert hall at the Lincoln Center? No! I’ll play in the subway station at Lincoln Center. I read some news articles that panhandlers in New York City can make up to $200 – $300 a day! Really? Really.

I can also consider teaching or giving lectures. Last year, a national medical organization invited me to speak in one of their educational courses. I obliged to give the lecture since they prepared all the materials and slides, and all I have to do was present it. I did it for the love of teaching, but was delightedly surprised when they handed me an honorary fee of $200 for spending about 2 hours with them. They invited me again this year, and of course I said yes. Did I mention they gave me free lunch too?

Maybe I can be a traveling lecturer, like the ancient Greek philosophers. Maybe I can assume the title “Pedagog.” Or maybe I can be a motivational speaker. That will be great! But wait a minute. What if I am a lousy teacher? Or what if I am a boring speaker? And what if…….


After giving so much thought on all these options, I have decided that I will keep my current day job……..for at least a little bit longer.

(*honorary job really means without pay, so an honorary fee is definitely less than its market value; in other words, they can pay you better but they wouldn’t)