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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.

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Books for Christmas? December 24, 2010

Posted by Matsu in Christmas, Fun, Humor, Other, Random.
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Believe it or not, there is a viral video on the net showing a little boy opening his presents last Christmas and he was none too happy about what he found. Below is that video…

Can you believe that? Well, this week the little boy’s mom appeared on the NBC Today Show (in the United States) to explain that her son actually likes books. He likes to read, his parents like to read to him, and they go to the library all the time.

When you are 3 or 4 years old and you are expecting some cool new toy, the sight of a book could be a slight disappointment, at least for some kids. I’d love to get books for Christmas, at any age.

Failure to Post November 21, 2010

Posted by Matsu in Family, Friends, Other, Random, Weblog.
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Hello, my name is Matsu and I am an inconsistent blogger. I haven’t posted anything in four months.

I feel like I should begin with that confession as it has been far too long since I have logged into my blog site, much less posted anything new. I almost feel guilty about it, not because I have something important to say that the world has missed out on reading or learning about, but instead because of the number of visits I get each day — far more than I would have ever expected. It’s embarrassing that I am not providing new content for the many readers who check in from time to time.

I have failed to keep up a reliable schedule of posting new content the past couple of years for several reasons, but mostly it’s because of a sharp increase in all that I must do at work (both reading and writing) and a significant change in my personal life. Ironically, it seems that while I have pulled away from this blog site (neglecting my responsibilities for its care and feeding), I have done the same thing with many of my other relationships. It is almost like I have had a caseĀ  of Rip Van Winkle — only I’ve been sleepwalking through life, instead of sleeping under a tree in the woods.

Right now I have 23 different blog posts in various stages of pre-post drafts. All of them are from this year. That’s 23 blog posts I’ve started but not finished and published. For some reason I just wasn’t ready or wasn’t willing to post them. It’s time I change that. It’s time for me to wake up and smell the coffee. It’s time for me to reengage life. I think I’m ready. At least I am ready to try.

Hello, world. Today is a good day to be alive. And, to my readers, I’ll be back very soon. Much sooner than four months from now.

A mature perspective on aging February 28, 2009

Posted by Matsu in Family, Friends, Other, Random.
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b-day-cupcakeThis is my birthday month. I was so busy (as was everyone else I know), I did not do anything on my birthday. Birthdays become less and less celebrated as I get older. As I look back on this month I am aware of two things. First, I didn’t do much writing on my blog (well, I didn’t do any writing, at least not here – all of my writing energies went to a huge writing project at work). And, second, I do not feel as old as I am.

Each year I get older. Yet, as time passes I do not feel old or even older. I realize that I am not as energetic as I used to be when I was twenty years old. And, I do not remember things as sharply as I used to when I was thirty. But, I really do feel pretty much the same as I did when I was in my twenties and thirties. I feel like I could be in my twenties or thirties.

This feeling is not all bad. And, I should confirm that it’s not a case of denial. I am simply saying that I feel like I am just as young as I have always been and not any older than I was 20 or 30 years ago. My body is obviously older. But my mind and soul feels the same. And, I do not consider people who are 5 or 10 years older than I am to be all that old. I almost think of them as young. That’s what happens as you get up in years. Those “old” people who are 30 or 40 no longer look old. In fact, as you pass through those years, they become younger and younger.

I can’t wait until I turn 70. Then I will finally begin to feel like I’m growing up! Now, I’d better figure out what I want to do when I grow up.

The ebb and flow of life… September 18, 2007

Posted by Matsu in Other, Random, Uncategorized.
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I have been blogging for just under two years (yes, I’m still new at this). I’ve noticed from reading many other blogs that it is natural for the level of blogging to recede over time, then it can pick up again. The frequency of blogging, or lack of blog posts, is often indicative of what is happening in the life of that blogger. When their work or personal life demands more of their time and attention, the level of blogging goes down. As the stress of life increases and the level of fatigue goes up, the number of days between posts also goes up. That’s expected.

If I tell you the past few months have been especially stressful and difficult you will not be surprised as I have not been very active on this blog site. Both my work and personal lives have been occupying all of my time and energy. I am hopeful that sometime this fall (or winter) things will settle in enough that I will once again have time to invest in this site. I do not plan to blog about personal things, so you won’t read about my personal life here, but you can expect me to post a lot more about things that interest me professionally — primarily related information technology management.

One thing that’s new in my life which I look forward to writing about is a class I’m teaching this fall. I’m teaching a management of information systems (MIS) class to college students majoring in business. I’ve only been teaching it for a few weeks, so we are still covering the foundational material, but as it progresses I’m certain it will spark more than a few thoughts that I will share with you all through a blog post or two.

I would be interested in graphing the highs and lows in the life of the blogger and see if the number of blog posts correspond to that graph line. I suppose in some cases it could be the exact opposite — as the stresses of life go up or as one’s work and personal lives get to be more challenging the number of blog posts could go up because of the therapeutic nature of writing. Hmmm. Maybe I should see if I could get a research grant to properly look into this potential phenomenon. I’m sure the U.S. government would be glad to fund such research.

Do you know about Informational Timing? May 28, 2006

Posted by Matsu in Information Technology, Management, News and politics, Other, Random, Technology.
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What is 'informational timing,' you ask? Well, it's simply the recognition that information has value that increases and decreases over time. You might even call this the temporal value of information.

For instance, let's look at the newspaper. If you could get tomorrow's news today, then that would be extremely valuable. And, getting today's newspaper tomorrow is a lot less valuable. This may be a bad example because I am not talking about looking into the future.

Let me use a different example. Let’s say you had a professional event (like a meeting for a group of managers or technical staff) and you used a web site to announce the event. You will probably have a large demand for that information soon after it gets posted and people notice it. Then, as the event approaches, the demand (as measured by web traffic) would go up until the day of the meeting when people are doing their last minute verification of the time, place, and possibility getting directions.

Believe it or not, even after the event people will still need that information and there is still value in it. They may have attended the meeting and forgot the sponsor's name or wanted to get contact information for the next meeting or event. Or, they were unable to attend the meeting and wanted to know what the purpose was after the fact. So, in this case, you should not remove the information from the web site the day of the event, or even the day after the event. Ideally, it would be accessible for a long time after the event took place, even though the value of that information and number of hits would eventually diminish to zero.

Since some information like announcements will drop in value over time. It would be nice if Information like that had a TTL (time to live) setting or tag. Other information, such as information on how to do something or factual data or historic information would all have a much longer TTL. There may even be a need for some information to have the TTL set to infinity.

Finally, information like the phone number for a business or the hours of a store that should have a TTL that extends to the point when that information is changed. Then, the old phone number or business hours should no longer exist, because it would no longer be accurate. That kind of factual data has a TTL equal to the moment it changes. In that example, the TTL would be a conditional statement. If new data then TTL=0, else TTL=infinity.