Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Starting Work

Last weekend I hope would be the last that I would spend watching multiple DVDs or catching up on my reading frenzy.  These activities are not bad in itself but it distracts me on achieving my avowed goals.  When I am close to having something done or when I have firmed up my resolve, my mind never fails in looking for a new distraction. I wanted to start work on activities that I want to achieve but instead get laid up on a mindless rush to finish watching the DVDs or read the magazine or books that I borrowed from the library. The weekend becomes a mad dash to finish all these watching films or reading all these stuff so I can return them on time and not pay the overdue fees. The only thing that I got done in one of my goals was to do an hour of yoga. The amusing thing is that the yoga exercises came from a DVD I borrowed from the library which is about a week overdue. At least I found a yoga practice that is easy to do, something that I have been searching for quite some time.

What is the object of the frenzy? I guess it is the urge to satisfy one’s curiosity and be updated with the latest thing. One does not like to be behind the times. I realized that most of things I do serve to satisfy a goal like increasing one’s financial literacy and so on. But I think I have crossed the threshold and achieve a certain expertise. For instance, I have started purchasing stock using a Merrill Lynch account under a ROTH-IRA. Last Friday I purchased shares of GE and Bank of America after seeing the dividend that GE paid so far and after reading a recent Fortune article on the new Bank of America CEO. I guess I have gone beyond the novice level after reading so many books on investment and finance. The last book I read was by Robert Kiyosaki. But I did not finish reading the manuals I got from the Rich Dad, Poor Dad course I took about stock investing a few months ago. There are good sections on technical investing and options. One could easily read the manuals and become an expert instead of diving into the latest books from the libraries.

The question is:  how can one still be updated and still keep to one’s stated goals? I have decided that the books that I want to ‘read’ will be only those where I could borrow an audio book. So I can spend my ‘reading time’ during the time I am driving. Listening to news and books is the best way for me to keep updated while keeping my weekend free. One great service is the New York Times podcast that I could get free from the Sony Dash and which I listen to during the weekend. NYT podcasts have great sections on technology, politics and business. NYT also has a daily news show like NPR that I listen to while having breakfast. There are also great applications in my Android device where one can get NYT, USA Today, Le Monde, Economist and Guardian among other news services. So getting the information from audio services and push technology like Android apps would help save time. Limiting one’s cinema treats are also important to cut time but by one’s age one has had his fill of art house features that one can focus only on the really good films.

I watched some interesting features in the weekend mainly the Taiwanese classic file ‘Yiyi’ – an excellent drama filmed in Taipei and Tokyo including coastal scenes possibly in Izu peninsula. I also watched a number of films: ‘Heimat’ a German mini-series and the old classic ‘Shogun’. ‘Yiyi’ introduced me to a new character – the Japanese wise man, not your usual mountain mystic but a worldly and wise computer game developer - a technologist in the modern sense. The Japanese wise man is like the first Asian who crossed the threshold towards being an equal to the West but who contracted the sins of Western colonialism that resulted in death and disaster with nuclear bombs dropped in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The Japanese have been there and done that - from being a ruthless military ruler, to defeat and the first recipients of both napalm and nuclear weapons. Now Japan is also the country that is experiencing a long drawn out recovery - trying to rise out of a recession by fiscal spending. It’s a situation now faced by Western nations like the USA after the economic and financial crisis of 2009 and 2010. The Japanese is the wise man of Asia - being a modern country long before the so-called emerging countries came about with experiences that even Western nations don’t have.

‘Shogun’ is a good story about the western contact with Japan in the early 1600. The series depict the clashes between the Portuguese, Spanish and English as these countries fight for domination of Asia. I thought initially that it was a ‘cheesy’ Hollywood knock-off but now I find it to be an excellent series despite the seemingly cheap and dated sets. It stars Japanese legend Toshiro Mifune which was the main reason I borrowed the DVDs. Hopefully these are the last DVDs that I will be borrowing in bulk. I also borrowed a book on Mifune and Akira Kurosawa which I hope to be the last large book I will borrow since there is no audio book available. One still has a fascination with Japanese culture. Yesterday, I watched both ‘Yiyi’ (which looks like a Japanese film production) and, afterwards, ‘Shogun’ while drinking a couple of Bloody Mary’s before I had dinner of Japanese chicken curry, miso soup and sake. It was an interesting weekend of DVDs and a visit to nearby Spartanburg to watch the Festival of Nations on Saturday. I had lunch of goat curry with rice and beans from the Jamaican stand, sausage and sauerkraut from the German stand and enjoyed a show of belly dancing.

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