Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The impulse to write

Nobody ever asked me about it before but sometimes I stop to think about what it is that makes me want to write.  Have you every thought about this before?

Several answers came to my mind.

  • I write even on small scrap of paper or a tissue for future reference - some scribbles I can look back to when I write about a topic that may be related to what I was thinking at a particular time.
  • I write things that I want to understand and to remember.  I read it somewhere that each one of us has a particular learning style.  Some learn better when they can hear things spoken.  While some of us prefer to read silently, those in this category prefer to read things out loud. Some are more visual-oriented and prefer to draw or see diagrams and illustrations that describe something. Others, like me, learn more by doing and I include writing as part of the act of 'doing'.
  •  I feel that impulse to write something that came with my reverie while the thought is still fresh because I know that once the moment has passed it would be impossible to remember those fleeting thoughts that drop by every now and then.
There is also another instance when I really feel I want to write.  I want to describe it this way:
If you noticed it, there is no such thing as 'talking block'.  Yes, we often hear someone say he or she is having a writer's block but not a problem with wanting to say something.  We may not be able to speak this out loud but the flow of thoughts, some sort of an internal conversation continues.
There could also be times when you yourself are taken by surprise by the quality of thought that is running at the back of your mind and make you exclaim: "Hey, that sounds good! Why haven't I thought about it before!"
And then you suddenly grab a pen and try to capture that image or flow of thoughts on a piece of paper.  Others may find it convenient doing this on their IPad or laptop or a netbook, whatever gadget that is available to them.

Now I am thinking how my voice recorder could aid me in doing this.  I would like to experiment on that -- using a voice recorder to capture fleeting thoughts and transcribe them later.

Monday, October 10, 2011

An experiment in using the Dynamic View template for your blog

For today's blogging schedule, I will be writing a blog post on the same topic as one of my most popular posts. I still don't consider myself a techie when it comes to these things and this is only the second time for me to write about a similar topic.  Well truth is I enjoy sharing things I learn here, especially in blogging, so I guess it won't be that hard to write about it.  I hope this helps improve your blogging experience while using Blogger.  

Now let me ask you a few questions:

Are you bored with how your blog looks like?

Would you like your blogsite to look a little different without necessarily going through a lot of effort?

Are you someone who loves to tinker around gadgets, changing the background of your blogsite, and enjoys trying out those various menu options that has been offered for bloggers like us?

I replied "yes" to at least two of these questions. 

This is how my site looks like for the past week.

Yes, it looks cool! 

And no, I am not bored with it.  

I just wanted to make a few more tweaks on this site when I went to the "Design" menu.  I had no intention to make any major change in the design at all.  But when I saw that there was a new option on the "Template" menu, my ever curious mind urged me to click on the new option and give it a try.  That's the one highlighted below.

Yes, that's the "Dynamic View" option.  

Guided by my curiousity, I clicked on the Dynamic View and found several more options.  I saw lined up at the bottom of the box the following new options: "Classic", "Flipcard", "Mosaic", "Sidebar", "Snapshot", and "Timeslide".  You have to click on each one to see them appear in your blog. 

Feeling more daring than usual, I tried using the "Classic" option last Friday.  Then the following day I decided to try the "Flipcard" option to see how it's going to look like.  Although I enjoyed seeing all my blog posts in one page, again I wanted to try using the other options, too.  So later in the afternoon, I shifted to using the Timeslide option.  And this is how it looks like.

That was truly amazing!  With just one click your Home page could look different and more interesting, I would say.  When you click on a particular Post Title, you will also find that reading your blog is much easier because of its "clean" look. 

I enjoyed playing around with this new addition to the menu options being provided by Blogger to people who are always seeking for something new not only on the blog content, but also on the physical layout of one's blog site.  

If you are a curious blogger like me, I guess at this point you are now getting interested to give it a try.  If you are then the first thing to do is to look for the "Design" menu.  You can find this in the upper right corner of your page.  Have you found it now? Okay, just go and click it.  Then once you are there, choose "Template" and then you will find the "Dynamic View" option right in the middle of the page.  

It's quite easy to make a few experiments here since it won't affect your blogsite yet until you click on "Apply to Blog" option.  And even if you already did and you want to go back to your previous template, you can always go back to "Design", then you will find at the uppermost line the option to revert back to your previous template before you made the change to Dynamic View.  

Why don't you give it a try?  And please don't forget to post your comments below if there was anything I missed in the procedure I mentioned here.  Of course, I would appreciate any comment from you.  

Oh by the way, you may be wondering why I am back to my previous template.  I reverted it back to make sure that I could easily go back to my old template and then back to the new one so I can share with you every bit of new knowledge I get from this experiment.   

Thanks for visiting! Hope you enjoy working on your own experiment, too!

Friday, October 7, 2011

What 5 books have influenced you the most?

I've lived with books since I was a kid.  I was lucky enough to have parents who showered us with reading materials -- children's books, illustrated comics, 'condensed books', Reader's Digest, Women magazine, Liwayway, and volumes of encyclopedia.  

We also had reel tapes of audio recorded fairy tales and nursery rhymes, Greek mythology and bible stories.  While nowadays, you will find cassette tapes, CDs, and even DVDs easily in any store in your neighborhood, but in the 60s these did not even enter our imagination.  During those years, a reel tape recorder/player was considered a luxurious item since nobody among my friends in our hometown had experienced listening to stories being read by someone they haven't seen nor met before. 

Over the years books became my constant companion, some of which I've re-read at least for the second time.  I have selected what I consider the most influential ones as these were able to shape and change the way I view things in life.

1.  Heidi

I've read this book when I was in grade school. I love sitting in one corner of our house where nobody can disturb me as I got so caught up with this story of a young girl who grew up with her grandparents somewhere in the Alps. 

At that time I didn't know why I loved this book so much.  It was several years later that I began to realize the reason for this: Heidi, the main character in the story, had similar experiences to what I had in my growing up years.  I cried with her and also laughed at funny episodes in this book.  While it may have been a fiction story but for me, it was all so real.  The snow-covered mountains, the goats, and everything else in this book were all real.  This book kept me company in those lonely nights of being away from my family who were in Manila at that time.

This book found me sometime in 1999, a time when I was in a crossroad on what to do with my career and how to go about with my life.  This book helped me know more about what made me happy, what things I want to accomplish, and what I really want to become.  It contained several exercises to help you go through this process until you become more acquainted with what the author is talking about, that making a difference can really make a difference in your life.  I love that moment when I was able to come up with my own Personal Mission Statement after going through layers of uncovering my inmost dreams, values, and desires in life.  

Up to this moment, I still go back to crafting my Weekly Plan as a guide on how to go about each day of the week.  But sometimes I forget to do this.  The moment I feel 'lost' and seem to be just going through the motions of life, that's my signal to reconnect with my Mission Statement and draw up a Weekly Plan once again.

If you have read this book probably you would agree when I say that this is one hell of an adventure story.  But after reading the first few chapters, I came to realize that there was so much more to the main story line that can make you stop and think whenever there are parallel stories that makes each insight resonate inside your being.  

I've shared this book with other friends several times.  It's nice to know that even if this book is not returned back, I am often told that the friend I've lent it to has also lent it to another friend, and that other friend also lent it to another friend.  I think I have bought three copies of this book already and I kept the 3rd copy with me, as reading it on New Year's eve has become part of my rituals.

As I have often mentioned in my other blog posts, I have been a journal writer since I was in high school.  Writing journals served me different purposes: it acted as a 'spleen' where I can pour all my anguish and sorrow; a dear friend who would listen attentively to anything and everything I write on it.

This book showed me many ways of appreciating my journal collections by teaching me how to uncover the underlying thread that connects several stories I have written.  That even a blank page with only the date on it still had a lot of stories being told...that all I need to do is to find time to remember the details, and continue with the story that was unwritten at that particular time. 

I am sure other journal writers would also love this book. 

5. ... I guess I will take a pause here first as I am still trying to select the 5th book to include in this list.  I intend to update this post the moment I have selected which among my other favorite books it will be. 

Perhaps you may want to check on the links I have provided for each book.  All you have to do is hover your cursor on the book title, click on it and that should take you to a site that provides some background information about the book. 

Thanks for visiting and I hope you enjoyed reading this blog post.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Three amazing things we learned from our pets

Have you ever noticed that when you start sharing stories with another pet lover (I assume that you also love your pets as you seem to enjoy telling stories about them) several hours may pass without you realizing it?

That's exactly what happens when I meet up with friends who also have pets and we start updating each other on what's been happening with our animal companions at home.  We share our joy, the warmth, and sometimes sad feelings when our pets get sick. 

We decided to have our very first pet cats when my eldest daughter came home after visiting her grandmother, carrying with her a huge box as her surprise for us.  When we opened the box, we discovered two beautiful kittens - one was all black and the other one was all white.  Black and white!!!  

The first time I left for a 2-week training in Bukidnon, that was also the first time my two daughters will be left by themselves to take care of the 2 kittens.  When I came back, they suddenly remarked, "Ma, we just learned that we need to feed the kittens pala.  All the while we thought they just grow up the way they should."  I just smiled when I heard this because sure enough, each day when I get home from work, these two girls always had new stories to tell about their experience with the new tiny kittens who came to conquer our home. 

A few months later and after several visits to the vet, my eldest daughter commented that having pets is not for everyone.  She added that there is so much responsibility attached to our decision to have pets at home. It also changed their daily schedule as one of them need to be home to feed the 2 kittens at particular times of the day.  There were changes indeed in our daily routines but this was something all of us embraced openly and without any second thoughts. 

Since that day Turkey (the black cat) and Wabbit (the white cat) came to live with us, they have taught us a lot of lessons on how to care for and live with them.  For this blog post, these three things I am sharing with you are what you may consider 'tip of the iceberg' among the many wonderful things our pets have taught us and continue to be teaching us.

1.  Lady dogs can give birth to puppies of different 'dads'.  Yes, in one same litter.

The first time, Ducky gave birth to 5 puppies.

For a long time we've been wondering why Ducky's litter had different features.  Well, they didn't look exactly like her. There were 3 'white ones' and 2 'brown ones', as you can see in the photo above.

We learned from one of our neighbors that female dogs have 'separate compartments' in their reproductive system and that, according to her, allows them to carry babies formed with more than one male dog.  I am not sure how true this is but there was another friend who mentioned the same thing.

2.  Among male cats (we got 6 of them at home), the one who becomes the 'alpha male' is not only the strongest and biggest in size but also grows a stronger jaw muscle and neck.

Turkey, our first black cat, used to be the recognized leader among our pet cats.  He has his way of instilling discipline among them, taught them how to use the litter box, where to drink water, and many other things that really amazed us.  We even called him 'Turkey Sensei' because he revealed to us an intelligence that's so hard to describe with words.  He passed away more than a year ago.

After Turkey, Mowgli asserted to be the alpha male.  Nobody seemed to question this for a long time (except one cat named Yoda).  Mowgli soon grew bigger and his jaws also became stronger and more rounded.  
Yoda was named "Yoda" because when he was still a kitten he couldn't hold his head up very well and keeps babbling his head instead. He looked so frail that I was often protective of him whenever Mowgli dares him for a fight.

Over the past months, Yoda continued to defend himself to Mowgli's assertion as the alpha male. The photo below shows these two cats having  one of these episodes.

Mowgli (standing on the roof) and Yoda having a 'growling' argument at dusk.

Then recently I noticed that Yoda does not seem to be afraid of Mowgli anymore.  I can hear him fighting back...and was soon starting to assert himself, too.  He became bigger (while Mowgli became somewhat slimmer in size) and started to have bigger jaw as well.

3.  Cats, and dogs, are very sensitive to human emotions and  well-being.

Whenever I get sick with a high fever, I wake up in the middle of the night to find at least 5 of our 10 pet cats sleeping or lying around me.  They make me feel warm and secured. 

Now here's another story.  Wabbit, our white cat, loves to stay outdoors.  After eating his meal, you will often find him walking around the neighborhood or sitting on top of our neighbor's firewall.  This is why I am always surprised when he suddenly jumps on top of my table (while I am working at home) and lie down right beside the laptop. But this only happens when I really feel so sad.  Well, amidst my busy schedule, I also get the blues every now and then.  Wabbit wouldn't  leave this spot until I assure him that I am feeling okay.

While I am writing this blog post Wabbit has been sitting on my lap, listening to the music by Allison Kraus.  I guess he could sense that I am writing about him here. I wonder if other pets are also like our pets here at home.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Ideas for future blog posts

As early as February (this year) I made a list of what I wanted to write about for the next couple of months.  That was my attempt to send a signal to my subconscious to help me gather related information to those topics as I go about with my daily routines.

For strange reasons I couldn't find that list in my files now.  Although coming up with this list is much easier now, I still had to choose topics from similar lists drawn up by other bloggers and from WordPress to motivate struggling bloggers like me to continue posting in our blog sites.

After going through this 'selection process', I finally came up with this list, which I hope will keep me going in the next six weeks.  It's actually more of a menu than a chronological list since all I need is a spark, an inspiring thought to push me to writing something I want to share with you. 

  1. What 5 Books Have Influenced You The Most?
  2. What does 'home' mean to you?
  3. The stronger pull
  4. About 'alternative universe'
  5. The impulse to write
  6. What the purpose of my website is, who I am and why my blog is unique?
  7. Answer one question I think people visiting my blog may have.
  8. Write a blog post on the same topic as one of my most popular posts.
  9. Share a photo I took this week and tell you about it.
  10. Embed a legal youtube clip that I either found today or created myself. Then tell everyone about the clip and related information.
  11. Create a blog post on a subject I’ve never blogged about here before.
  12. Share hints or details of what I intend to write about in the future.

Have you got any topic suggestion?  Please feel free to post it as Comments below.