Tag Archive | efficiency

Faith and Rubik’s cube

The Rubik’s cube is fascinating. It reminds me of what life is like. Rubik's cube 1 _green

Life is a series of acts in order to put things into order. Order order order. For me I see life, mine at least, as being put into order at some other parts while [I] am occupied with putting into order some other different part.

I have forgotten about this feature in my life until I recently spent time getting to know a 3 x 3 Rubik’s cube. To my delight I saw that when I try to get a side into a single color the other sides may form distinguishable patterns all by themselves.

Rubik's cube 2 _redThere are those who, like me, do not congregate towards the “very” end of the “orderly” spectrum. I may be called lazy by some, but I know I’m not lazy. It’s just that the way my clock runs isn’t the kind that will stand out in the corporate world. Instead, my clock runs in such a way that I take the time to appreciate patterns that aren’t interesting to others. No, I don’t have the aptitude for the mathematical way of describing patterns, so that’s not what I’m talking about, either. There’s just too much stuff needed to be able to math-talk that I run out of time for them. Nevertheless it would be wonderful if I, too, like the mathematicians am able to cook up a statement describing how the color patterns come up when this and that turning is done on a Rubik’s cube.

Rubik's cube 3 _nearlyThe way I, or you, put our lives into order may be objectionable to others. There are those who express disapproval at the way we do things. It could also be that we try to put our lives into order in such a way that we won’t be at the receiving end of a disapproval. Whichever way it is we do feel the tension between these two ways tugging at us. For me it is couched as “what should I do?”

We all have our own pattern-appreciation-languages ::: musical notes, weaving patterns,  words on a page, lines+shapes+lighting, or sound+movement+lighting, angles+weights, trajectory+speed, food tastes, taxonomy, almost-no-words-but-full-of-thoughts (e.g., the haiku) … et cetera

Rubik's cube 4 _nearlyThere are also those who, like me, aren’t experts at a particular pattern-language but all the same we are uplifted whenever we spot an evidence of one.

If you believe in God then this shouldn’t be a surprise for you. Thousands of years ago humans have already become aware that God causes patterns to form. He puts order out of chaos.

Rubuik's cube 5 _orange

At center stage, my Rubik’s cube on my table where my study things are pushed to the side for the moment.

I am typical of my folks. We get to laugh at almost anything, not the least at our own selves. It helps us cope. It helps us from going down that road which is lethal to those who have “nothing”. I needed to put that within quotes because, one, it is subjective, and two, “nothing” doesn’t seem to exist. That’s what I understood the last time I looked up science. But, I fervently request you, don’t discuss creatio ex nihilo with me yet because I haven’t read up much on that. If you want, in relation to it, you can look at discussions about an ancient Mesopotamian composition that starts with “When on high” … 😀 that’s all I can remember for now 😀

I don’t know which part of the world you live in, but just in case you are also like us who are nakakapit sa patalim (living on the edge of a knife) then let the lesson I discovered from the Rubik’s cube encourage you. Just keep on no matter how hard things are going because somehow there’s a pattern forming at the other side, waiting for it’s perfect time to come up in your life’s story.

On My Stupidity. And A Miracle Gift On St. Nicholas’ Day

flurries1What does one do when one suddenly discovers that one’s Residence Permit expires on the Saturday that is only two days away? One panics. One calls oneself stupid. One smirks at one’s utter stupidity.

Thursday evening I looked at my electronic Residence Permit card and the 7.12.2013 deadline hit me like a thunderclap, in my skull. On Fridays the City Hall is open for only four hours in the morning. If a miracle doesn’t manifest within that time frame then I’d find myself an illegal alien by Sunday. Horrors.

St_NicholasI spent the late night and the early morning preparing, and producing a passport photograph using a camera that I had to hold at an arm’s length. I needed to be at the City Hall, waiting in line and nothing else, by the time it opens at 8 a.m. My quest for survival intensified my focus for the essentials. Proofs for continuous enrollment. Proof of financial support. Insurance papers. What else? Seminar attendance certificates, just in case. Check the weather forecast. What to wear? — double of everything because it’s the start of the chilly days, and snow is expected. Best to have a good breakfast to compensate for lack of sleep. And a maximum dose of vitamin supplements.

flurriesAfter 1 hour of sleep I got up and semi-fried two free-roaming-chicken’s eggs and heated the left-over rice and fish. I was so happy for the left-overs. I had the breakfast of breakfasts, this without coffee, while listening to favorite songs. On the bus ride I had the happy view of the waking day and the throng of youngsters heading for school. All that while, I was miserably hoping for a miracle.

The City Hall employee who attended me didn’t give a hint of an opinion of the stupidity that I have assigned to myself. He asked, “Did you fill up a Request for Renewal Form?” I said, “No.” He asked again, “Why?” I answered straight away, “Because I saw the deadline only yesterday.” We didn’t discuss anymore the Reminder Letter that got lost on its way to me, sent by the City Hall two months ago. santa claus chocolateHe was simply relieved that I had all the required papers with me and we could proceed with the process. As I was answering his pages and pages of questionnaires the sky suddenly sent down thick the first flurries of the season. My tiny burst of exclamation at the magical sight brought a smile and a lift of eyebrows from him. The impersonal atmosphere became warm. Ah. Thank you, Lord, for miracles.

Germany, Switzerland and Austria are celebrating St. Nicholas’ Feast today. It is prominently indicated on the calendars. Ah, thank you, Lord, for the miracle that it is a ‘working-day’ holiday. A City Hall employee with a basket was going around handing out to each of his delighted colleagues what looked to me a 15-cm tall Santa Claus chocolate. Ah, thank you, Lord, for gift-giving. What a happy day.

snowAll went well. I warmly thanked Mr. W. for helping me. He wished me a nice weekend. I was out of the building, after just 45 minutes, with a paper Temporary Residence Permit pending the processing of the electronic one. As I was panicking the night before I read on the net that I was supposed to process for the renewal as early as two months before the deadline.

LORD, thank you for the several-hours’ miracle. I will always rejoice for your miracles, but please help me to not shamelessly keep asking for them, and more importantly to be not as stupid as this in the future. Amen.

Thank you many times to the owners of the photos 🙂

We’re supposed to live with dirt

A classmate once told me that had germs been visible to the naked eye none in our face-area would be visible at all. It’d be so covered with bacteria there’ll be no part of our faces left to be seen.  I remember how we laughed over the ghastly picture it presented to our imagination, but at the same time sobered by its truth.

I once again put off the the urge to transform my room into a spick-and-span condition. I’d just have to  continue hoping that no one come to visit me for now — my room’s state of disarray is embarrassing. (In case an unexpected visitor does drop by my saving grace is that my room doesn’t smell. Aside from maintaining ventilation I’ve followed some people’s tip to leave coffee grounds in open containers at a corner of the room. Also whenever I remember to do so, which isn’t too often, I wipe portions of the walls near the stove with vinegar-and-water solution. I don’t use air fresheners.)

Gye Baek ep11 (1) Gye Baek ep11 (2)Gye Baek ep11 (3)Gye Baek ep11 (4)Gye Baek ep11 (5)Gye Baek ep11 (6)Gye Baek ep11 (7)Gye Baek ep11 (8)Gye Baek ep11 (9)I have too much clutter. The books are all over, piled or stacked, on shelves and on the floor. Binders and folders line up on the shelf and on the floor. Boxes are under the table and stacked over the door. Condiments and pots and pans are beneath the teevee table. Of my 2 tables, only one-third of one has a cleared space, the other has one-fourth only. The window sill has an array of plants on big yogurt canisters. I don’t conceal the trash containers (1 for general trash, 1 for plastics, 1 for metals, 1 for paper). Since I have to be non-dependent  I decided it best to save little things that might be useful for “emergency” situations, like strings and bottles and card-boards and canisters. (However, I recently decided to discard some and resolved to not add into the collection anymore.)

I feel I ought to get more organized but the truth is that for me it’s less stressful to let things be than to go against the law of entropy. I just haven’t thought much about it but I may be “lazy” by nature — because the decades of academic discipline (waking up at 5 or 5:30 AM on school days since 8 years old) have not really “disciplined” me. I procrastinate. I focus according to interest and mood. I must have an inner motivation otherwise I yawn every minute. My brain now refuses to take in lists of vocabulary because I don’t have to take quizzes anymore. I can sit up for 8 hours straight on an interesting topic I’m surfing about but I have to get up from my seat, out of impatience, after every page of reading from a book that I “must” look into in preparation for a class.

I remember the saying “cleanliness is next to godliness”, the one drummed into us by our elementary school teachers. I guess for us then the bottom line of that was self-discipline. Whoa. I haven’t thought of that one for a long time now. So, what of it now, have I gone far from being “godly”? Hahahaha.

I learned from a Bavarian senior that even until today the Hausfrau (housewife) isn’t as looked-up to as the Karrierefrau (career woman). For many the housewife is someone “lazy”. I’m inclined to think that this absurd belief stems from the industrialization era, when concepts of just-in-time and bundy-clock precision had to be catered to in the name of “development” and, of course, profit. Hence, money. Hence, prestige. How can the housewife be associated with laziness? That’s absurd. By common sense argument her job (or the househusband’s) is the most crucial in any society.

What I am sure, though, that for now I find myself agreeing with Brian A. Haggerty’s “…there remains the fundamental question of why efficiency should occupy such a place of importance in society.”* He’s discussing a bit on how we are obsessed with, among other things, efficiency — so much so that we discard those that we find “inefficient”, like those who are of no use anymore in the industrial arena, specifically the aged.

I am inefficient in organizing my room so that it stays visitor-presentable all the time but then I think of my intestines that need bacteria in order to function. To what extent do I “clean up”? I think of the decomposers of the rotting things in the soil, and in my large intestines. I think of the ever-present germs in my oral cavity. I think of faces I’d meet on the streets (and mine in the mirror) had bacteria been non-invisible. Dirt is part of life.

In my part of the world body “odor” is suppressed. We’re efficient in it so much so that a breaking of this norm, to a certain generally accepted intensity, is considered an act of misconduct and is reprehensible. The morning full-bath is an understood must, and if possible one can’t be found to not have taken a bath before going out of the house for the day’s business. One isn’t free to smell bad. Everyone seems to disapprove of it.

I didn’t disapprove at all at Cho-young sniffing after Gye Baek (episode 11). Humans do smell. — Why shouldn’t Gye Baek smell? Why am I not free to be smelly? When and how and where did it ever start that the scent of a human is associated with negativity? How has it happened that something as natural and as “common sense” as the smell of a living human body be an avenue for discrimination? — It makes little sense to me. Each one has a particular smell and it is a mark of individuality, of particularity, of personhood — why should it be suppressed? Why are we so obsessed with the efficiency to not-smell/smell-“good”?

Which reminds me of my none-too-white teeth. Hahahaha. The craze to make the teeth white is frightening. I put turmeric in my food. I drink coffee and tea. I’m afraid I’d be punishing my enamel if I brush too hard and too frequently. I’d rather have “colored” teeth than stop using turmeric. Then there’s the matter of shampooing the hair everyday. Crazy. Even the prestigious maiko (geisha-in-training) washes her hair once a week.


*”Out of the House of Slavery: On the Meaning of the Ten Commandments” (1978) p.81.

Note: Thanks a million to the site where I got my snapshots from.