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Rest in Peace, Steve October 5, 2011

Posted by Matsu in Apple, Business, History, Information Technology, Mac, News, Technology.
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Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs (1955 – 2011) passed away today. The co-founder and long time CEO of Apple Computer succumbed to illness after a two year battle with cancer.

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Last Thoughts of the Year 2010 December 31, 2010

Posted by Matsu in Friends, History, News, News and politics, Other, Random, WordPress.
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Exactly one year ago at this time (on New Year’s Eve, almost down to the same minute), I wrote, “This will be my last blog post of the year 2009. And, if it wasn’t for the WordPress App on my iPhone, I wouldn’t be able to submit and publish this last post because where I am I can’t use my laptop and there is no WiFi network or Internet access. This is all being done with my iPhone.”

In terms of my situation this evening, New Years Eve of 2010, not much has changed since last year. But, a LOT has happened this year. A LOT has changed, for me and for many others all across the world, but especially in Haiti. I’ll say more about that in a minute. Before I do that, I want to assess how I did on my New Year’s resolution.

It seemed like it was just yesterday, but it was a full year ago when I resolved to do something very specific. Since you probably don’t remember, let me remind you what I said… “I resolve to be a kinder and more understanding person who takes time to help others and encourage everyone I come into contact with.”

And, as you might remember, before I could even post that entry to my blog, I was tested. It was a small test, but a test none the less. A total stranger staying at the neighbor’s cabin stopped by to ask for a roll of toilet paper. I had my first opportunity to help someone I didn’t know. And, as you might guess, I passed that first test with flying colors. So, that was the start of my new year — the year 2010.

Little did I know what was to transpire less than two weeks later. On that day, as I was driving home from work, I was listening to the radio — the news was on — and I heard the first report that a severe earthquake had hit the island nation of Haiti. It had only happened minutes before, so there was very little information other than it caused significant damage.

A grade school friend of mine lives in Haiti, with his wife and two children. I immediately worried about their well being, not knowing if they were affected by the quake or not. When I arrived at home, I began nearly a week-long vigil of watching as much TV news as I could, constantly checking the Internet for even more current information, and searching Facebook for news of my friends. It was almost 24 hours before I heard from my friends. They had survived. Their house was intact. But, The city of Port-au-Prince, where they lived, was annihilated.

In those first hours after the quake there was no information as to the scope of the damage since communication lines were all down in Haiti. Eventually, information began to trickle out… the news was devastating… thousands and thousands of people were killed instantly as buildings collapsed. It was unknown how many were still alive, but buried in the rubble. For days and even weeks, rescuers tried to save all they could find in fallen hotels and grocery stores where there were people who were able to survive the quake in air pockets. There were some amazing stories of a few survivors who were recovered, but far too many stories of people who did not make it.

All that happened on January 12, 2010. The day a nation of strangers will never forget as it changed their lives, forever. And, possibly, changed the country of Haiti forever.

I have done everything I can to help the few strangers from Haiti that I could (through multiple donations of funds) and I did everything I could to help my friend and his family this year. I am glad to say, they are all doing well and are continuing their work in Haiti. For that, I am grateful to God.

For me, the year of 2010 will be remembered as a year of testing my resolve to help others, both friends and strangers. It was a year of challenges, not just for me, but for a whole nation of people that I did not know, but who I grieved for and desperately want to help, even now. Their lives, those of the Haitian people, have not improved much since the earthquake nearly a year ago. There is still much that must be done to restore the infrastructure and rebuild the cities. And, the possibility of disease is always near, with cholera being the current danger as it works its way through the country and into the tent cities.

Just as I wrote last year, I write again that “this has been an especially difficult year for many people.” Only, I was surprised to find that not only was I able to help strangers and friends this year, but I was in turn helped BY strangers and friends. In fact, because of that help, this has been one of the best years I have had in a long, long time. That help was a direct result of my reaching out and helping others. It’s amazing how that works. And, how unexpected it was. As a person of faith, I must give credit to God, and thank Him for what He has done this year. It was a very difficult year and it was full of times of both great suffering and great joy. What a paradox.

Like last year, I once again challenge you, dear reader, to look for opportunities to help someone, whether it be a friend or stranger. Only, I ask you to go a little further this year and remember the people of Haiti. They are still living without the most basic of essentials, like clean water and a roof over their heads when they sleep at night. It will take all of us, working together, to make a difference for that nation of strangers. I accept the challenge and ask that you join me in what may seem to be an impossible quest. But, if you help just one stranger, it will make a difference for us all. It will make this world a better place for everyone. And, that is my wish this year. That we all make this world a better place by doing the right thing and helping others, sharing what we have with strangers. No matter how little you have, you can always help in some way, to alleviate pain and suffering of others. That’s what I resolve to do this year, both here where I live and abroad, in Haiti.

Good bye, 2010! Welcome the year 2011!

Happy New Year, everyone! Make the most of every day to help others.

Education Can’t Be Business As Usual December 1, 2010

Posted by Matsu in Education, History, News and politics.
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The world has changed since publicly funded education was created to prepare children by developing skills needed to earn a living and be a contributing member of society. Those changes have been slow and subtle for a very long time. Then, the technology revolution occurred. That changed everything.

There are fundamental differences in how children learn and play today — it is actually different than children of only 20 years ago. Because of those differences, we must reevaluate the educational model — it needs to be radically overhauled in order to be relevant both now and in the future.

The above video does a great job of highlighting some of the differences in how children learn today and how the outdated educational process is no longer an effective model for reaching our educational goals. Education is more important now than it ever has been. So, let’s not just do it, let’s do it right.

Watch the video and seriously consider what it says. Agree or disagree, let me know what you think — leave me a comment.

Reached a major mile stone on the road less traveled November 11, 2009

Posted by Matsu in History, Information Technology, News, Technology, Web, Weblog.
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Matsu Blog StatsI am reaching the end of my fourth year blogging on WordPress.com and I just realized, or actually discovered, that this off-the-beaten-track blog site just reached a major accomplishment: over 100,000 page views (visits?). However you slice that statistic, it’s far more visitors than I expected, ever.

Granted, the past year I have not posted as often I had in the previous years. Life has just gotten too busy and keeping a digital presence with friends and family is accomplished with posts to Facebook and Twitter. But, now that I am less active, I have more followers than ever. In fact, I average about 120 visits per day. As you can see by the stats, my best day ever was only 1,000 hits, but that’s not bad for a guy that is on a less-traveled (and hard to find) road. It amazes me that the less active I am, and the more time that passes, the greater the number of hits to this site. I can’t say why that is, exactly. As far as I know, my mom is not running up the stats by visiting throughout the day hoping that I will have posted some new and fresh content.

Not that the number of visitors or page views matters, but at the current rate this site will reach 200,000 page views in only two years (half the amount of time it took to reach the first 100,000 visits/page views). I guess I should put something useful up here so people won’t regret dropping by from time to time.

If you are a new visitor to this blog site, welcome! And, if you are one of the readers that browse this way from time to time, thank you for your attention and interest in what I have to say. I hope that I have both amused you and informed you over the past several years. And, I hope to continue do that for several more years.

 

 

Best Photo of Obama Presidendial Inauguration January 25, 2009

Posted by Matsu in History, News, News and politics, Photography, Technology, Web.
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Click photo to be able to pan or zoom into image

Click photo to be able to pan or zoom into image

At first glance this appears to be yet another photo of the historic presidential inauguration on January 20, 2009. But, there’s much more to this than first meets the eye.

The best part about this photo is the website behind it. If you click on the photo it will take you to this cool website where you can zoom in and pan and each time you do, it will show you more detail. The shortcut for zooming is done by just double-clicking the area of interest.

Try it. Zoom in on the capital building dome. There are people on the dome balcony. At first I wondered if they were Secret Service agents but they turn out to be (or look like they are) just camera men.

Another thing that amazed me was the wall of photographers on the opposite side. I imagine that where this photo was taken (where the photographer is standing) it pretty much looks the same as the other area full of press photographers.

I think it’s pretty cool.  Have fun!

See your reflection in others July 2, 2008

Posted by Matsu in Family, Friends, History, Humor, Japan, Photography, Weblog.
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Dr. Bacchus ReflectionIt is interesting how much one learns of themselves by interacting with others. Yes, by interacting with people around you it helps you see yourself better and therefore you end up knowing yourself.

In the past several years I’ve worked with a person who has brought into focus the amount of influence my upbringing has affected my personality and character. I grew up in Japan. In fact, I spent most of the first 18 years of my life there, with the exception of three times when we lived in America for a year each time while on furlough. Well, the oriental influence on me is inescapable. And, this co-worker has been like a highly reflective mirror and given me a better view of myself and how I’ve been shaped by the oriental influences of my childhood.

One of the characteristics of oriental society is subtle communication. So, when I saw this photo posted on the Kyoto Daily Photo blog, I laughed out loud. It typifies how subtle the Japanese people can be, and by extension, how I am at times. The theme for the July 1st daily photo blog photos is “no.” The assignment is to take photos of signs that say “no” or “not permitted.” So, the photo of a walking path of large stepping stones with a single smaller stone sitting atop the first step means, “do not enter,” in the social language of Japan. That is a wonderful example of how small and subtle communication is in Japan — and while it’s subtle, I find it also to be crystal clear and almost obvious. But, that’s just because I think in those same terms.

So, thank you Bert for giving me a better view of myself and through that awareness, making this photograph that much more meaningful and amusing.

Disclaimer: The photo used in this post has nothing to do with the Kyoto Daily Photo blog. I wanted to use the stone path photo, but I didn’t have permission. Therefore, I found a good friend’s photo on the Wilmore Daily Photo blog site and used it without his permission. Hey, what is a friend going to do, sue me? Oh, oh! He seems to be tight with the local police. Maybe I should reconsider my attititude!