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Last Day Photo of 2010 January 1, 2011

Posted by Matsu in Photography, Random, Travel.
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Here is a photo that I took on the morning of Dec. 31, 2010. The moon and stars (or star) were still out. It was just as the sun was beginning to rise.

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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.

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.

Last Thoughts of the Year December 31, 2009

Posted by Matsu in Christmas, Random, Weblog, WordPress.
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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.

This has been an especially difficult year for many people, including myself. Much of my stress was work related, which is of course a blessing because I have a job (unlike many millions of people around the world). And, while it has been a difficult year, I have learned some valuable lessons and have seen people get back to the essentials of life.

One of the lessons is that you should be kind to everyone you come into contact with because you never know what they are going through. I know that when I’ve struggled this past year a kind word from a friend or coworker has really picked up my spirits and encouraged me. While I have not always done that myself (intentionally taking a minute to encourage someone with a kind word or action), I intend to make it a priority this coming year.

To state it in a more formal way, I resolve to be a kinder and more understanding person who takes time to help others and encourage everyone I come into contact with.

{Someone is knocking on the cabin door… I will be right back.}

Okay, it looks like I’ve just had my first test. Just as I finished writing my New Year’s resolution I had a neighbor stop by and ask me if he could “borrow” a roll of toilet paper. He and his friends are renting a cabin next door to my cabin and they ran out of toilet paper. So, as you might guess, I had a spare roll and gave him one. I even smiled and wished him and his friends a Happy New Year.

It’s nice to know that in this self-centered and self-absorbed age where everyone seems to be focused on their own happiness that we can still help each other.

I challenge you, dear reader, to look for opportunities to help someone, whether it be friend or stranger. It will make a difference for us all. And, you will be glad you did.

Good bye, 2009! Welcome to Earth, 2010!

Happy New Year, everyone! See you on the other side.

Smoke and mirrors September 22, 2009

Posted by Matsu in Fun, Photography, Random, Travel, Uncategorized.
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Century Plaza Hotel in L.A.

Century Plaza Hotel in L.A.

During my recent visit to Los Angeles, I stayed at the Century Plaza Hotel. It was very nice. But, what I really liked was the view from the room that was randomly assigned to me for my visit. It was on the front side of the hotel facing, dead center, the uniquely architected (is that a word?) office building directly across the street. I couldn’t help but take some snap-shots of the view using my iPhone. The purpose of this blog post is to share those photos.

View from Century Plaza Hotel Balcony

View from Century Plaza Hotel Balcony

The unique building across the street has a hole in it, literally. It’s hard to see if from the above image, but what you see through that hole is part of two other buildings. One of the things I really enjoyed about this room, in addition to the view, was the fountain seen in this photo. It helped to drown out (no pun intended) the city noises. The sound of the fountain was a little bit like the sounds you hear at the ocean. Or, it was as close as you might get to it in a metropolitan area like Century City.

View of buildings in L.A. at sunset

View of buildings in L.A. at sunset

This wider-angle photo of the same view of the building across from my hotel room gives you a much better idea of how there are two separate buildings behind the building with the hole in it. To add to the strangeness, the two tall buildings behind are triangle shaped, not traditional buildings with four outside walls.

Yes, the hole is real. I’m not sure the thinking behind it, other than making it very unique, but there is no magic trick at play in these photos (no smoke or mirrors were used to produce these photos).

My stay was more pleasant because of the view and the sounds produced by the fountain. Oh, and the weather (65 F degrees at night), didn’t hurt, either.