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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.

Barbie kicked out of West Virginia? March 4, 2009

Posted by Matsu in Humor, News, News and politics.
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barbie-dollThis is such a strange story. A state representative in West Virgina has introduced a bill that the Mattel doll known as “Barbie” should be outlawed in that state. Whoa. What did she ever do to that state representative? Huh?! Is there nothing more important going on that you could work on? Any problems in your state, like the economy or maybe health care? At the very least, they could they pick on someone their own size?

You don’t believe me? Wander over and read this news article. Needless to say, many of the fine citizens of West Virginia think this whole thing is rediculous and are ready to throw out the person who introduced the anti-Barbie bill and wasting everyone’s time.

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!

Form your own opinions – be an eye witness November 30, 2008

Posted by Matsu in Business, Education, Information Technology, News, News and politics, Technology, Web.
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One of the more remarkable benefits of modern technology, especially video on demand and live video over the Internet, is the ability to hear and see the news event first hand so we can formulate an educated opinion. We are no longer hostage to a single (or group) of reporters trying (but failing) to give an unbiased overview of a speech or public event. In today’s media rich world everything is recorded and most of that content winds its way to the Internet. Much of it on YouTube. That, I think, is a remarkable thing that promotes opportunities for people everywhere to be truly informed and less influenced by any particular news organization.

What reminded me of this emerging fact is a video I just stumbled across through a post in Twitter. It’s a speech by Eric Schmidt, the CEO of Google, at a keynote session of a New America Foundation conference. Schmidt gives a review of where we are and were we can go of we put our minds to it. Being the head of one of the most progressive and successful Internet companies should at least cause us to wonder what he might have to say, but having heard most of it (before pausing to write this post) I can say that it will certainly make you think. I don’t say I agree with everything he says, but he has some provocative ideas and promotes a positive future.

YouTube Video of Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google, keynote address at the New America Foundation (Nov. 2008)

The times have changed… November 2, 2008

Posted by Matsu in Business, News and politics, Random.
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The Times Are Changing

The Times Are Changing

Today is when people all across America change their clocks back an hour. Time is literally changing, but I want to also point out the other changes that have been happening at this time.

I can’t help but be amazed at how much has changed in the past 4 to 6 weeks. It has been about six weeks since I wrote this post about the average price of gas hitting a record $4.00 per US gallon and the shortages that were caused by the hurricane hitting the Texas coast. Now, only a little over a month later, the price of gas has dropped to half that price, or less. The other day I saw regular unleaded gasoline for only $1.98 per gallon (US). That’s the lowest it has been in years. Which is certainly good news.

In this same period we have seen the US Congress approve a massive bailout plan for financial institutions hit by the mortgage defaults and credit crunch. Then the New York stock exchange has plunged to half its value and rebounded slightly.

The rapid pace of these changes will certainly takes its toll on the nation. Not to mention the long term affect of the economic crisis and the ever-present problem of dependency on foreign sources of oil based fuels. It will be a long time before that changes.

In these difficult times you can at least say, “I now have more time.” Because today, if you live in America, you have been given an extra hour. Use it wisely.