Friday, February 22, 2013

Away from the court...

Roger Federer, whom sports analysts and even former tennis players consider the greatest tennis player of all time, sets his sights on other important things. The 31-year-old has a Foundation.

Roger Federer Foundation

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Window-washing superheroes plus some more

For a bit of light reading, here's a mix of news and features, starting with an interesting idea that was carried out somewhere in the United States and which made quite a number of kids gleeful. It's not fresh news (it took place in October last year), but a retweet led to its resurfacing.

Superhero window washers at children's hospital

Mexican artists turns guns into musical instruments

More Beyonce, less Sasha Fierce

Ash Wednesday kicks off 40 Days for Life in record-breaking 261 locations around the world

Beyond the call of duty

Basketball pros to become Catholic campus missionaries

The world's top 10 bike rides

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Unexpected news from the Eternal City

The internet is abuzz with the announcement of Pope Benedict XVI's stepping down. He will be the Catholic Church's Supreme Servant till February 28 at 8:00 pm (Vatican time), he said.

In the hours following his official announcement, much has been said, reported, and speculated, so to help you stay the course as regards accurate information and sound analysis, here are a few links you may want to visit. First, the Pope's official announcement from Vatican Radio.

Here's an interesting take on the development from Patheos, titled Benedict XVI the Precedent Setting Pope -- it's short and concise, and it does help you think of what's going on from a different perspective.

This one is a statement from Timothy Cardinal Dolan, New York Archbishop and head of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), while this piece from First Things, titled An Evangelical Looks at Pope Benedict XVI, is bound to be an eye-opener for many.

And below is part of a status message of a Facebook friend, which I find reassuring; it's a much-needed reminder.

Dear Pope,

Thank you so much for taking care of us as the “Christ on earth.” Continue to pray for us as we pray for the College of Cardinals to be docile to the Holy Spirit. When the time [comes], you may not be governing us but you will continue sanctifying us. We know that the Church is “indefectible” - it will not fail in its mission, and so it will last until the end of time.

* Photo from Catholic News Agency


I'm adding a link to another piece, titled Reacting to The Resignation, that I think is worth reading. An excerpt:

There are hundreds (perhaps even thousands) of conflicting thoughts rushing through my mind at the moment, many of them barely formulated. But as I scanned the reactions of my friends and acquaintances this morning, Steven Greydanus’ thought captured my sentiments perfectly:
For Catholics who love our Holy Father, Lent started two days early this year.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Love and self-worth, 'in the flesh'

Here's an excerpt:

The clothes I wear do not make me who I am, but ultimately reflect my beliefs. Immodest dress reveals that I do not see my worth. If I knew my worth, I wouldn’t be tempting guys. I wouldn’t be using my body as an object.

Here's the graphic:

And here's the piece that puts things in perspective as regards self-worth, love, and a "little black dress".

(I so admire writers who can express so much -- clearly -- in so few words)

Saturday, February 09, 2013

Hands to work...

I distinctly remember having a new appreciation for the work produced by one's hands when I spent a great deal of time making baked treats for Christmas. For no reason other than just because I thought I'd try it, I decided to bake brownies, cookies and lemon squares and sell them (and give some to friends and family as gifts). All that measuring, stirring, mixing, kneading and cleaning up helped me find a new respect for the fruits of one's labor in the kitchen. That I had no electric mixer and simply relied on manual mixing to produce orders that eventually poured in gave me more reason to appreciate the hard work involved in manual labor. Hence, the finished product seemed to me a work of love -- one that entailed sacrifice, dedication and careful fashioning.

So when I came across some videos showing how shoes and bags are made, I watched them with interest. Machines are employed for part of the process in the whole manufacturing business, but the care with which each product is crafted using the artisan's hands cannot be missed.

I wish local brands produced videos like these, too, for their wares.

That's entertainment

Advertising can either impart angst and intrigue, or leave the viewer with a cheery attitude. This definitely will not put one down in the dumps :-)

Saturday, February 02, 2013

How much online pollution is one willing to take?

Before leaving the house this morning, I struggled with a bunch of tangled-up necklaces, aiming for the one with the glass beads, which I hadn't worn in quite a while. When pulling it out from the hook holding all the accessories proved unsuccessful, I took down all the necklaces and gingerly tugged at the one I wanted. When that didn't work, I sort of let go of a couple of the chains, hoping they would fall off from the bunch thereby letting loose the glass-beads one that started this whole untangling challenge. No luck.

Okay, just carefully untangle the tangled parts one by one and you'll get there soon enough, I told myself while thinking how much a boost to my self-esteem it would be once I successfully pulled out the blue-silver-and-gray set of chains I was fixated on (this self-confidence issue and tangled chains, cables and other kinds of cords deserves its own blog post!). Then I wondered, do most of the millions of Facebook users type status messages -- even the most mundane ones -- for the sake of their self-esteem? Does it work? Does it make them feel like celebrities? Do they end up feeling loved? I read halfway through someone's blog post about this unfortunate phenomenon of social media junkies proclaiming their opinions about everything, and it made me feel better. One does not have to acquire a bourgeoisie mentality (or to feel territorial about writing) to be disenchanted by the whole thing. I mean, when erroneous statements or really shallow views make it to the public sphere -- and worse, when netizens give their nod to such proclamations... and worst, when the dudes who make lacking-in-substance statements acquire quasi-icon status in the process -- one can swim in the waters of discouragement for some time.

But nothing can get me down and cause me more sorrow than seeing serious condescension toward another -- and by "serious" I don't mean devoid of "LOL," "hehe" or other such devices that may sometimes serve the same purpose as "Just sayin'" at the end of a potentially controversial assertion. I suppose no one is spared from occasions of expressing feelings of superiority toward others in some way. However, social media has been around long enough to make the pattern predictable: someone does something deemed way down below on the intelligence meter (or the integrity index), and all hell breaks loose, verbally speaking. And it's not of the "Oh, crap!" variety. Or maybe "What a stupid rock! It doesn't even grow and reproduce!" Or "My dog has the 'personality' of a paper clip." Or even "No-good avocado tree! Puro asthma attack na nga inaabot ng kapitbahay sa kakapausok ko sa 'yo! Ni isang bunga wala pa rin! Die! Just die!"

No, the words that can fill networking sites with such ire are directed at persons. Who knew uttering words that don't belong in civilized conversation in the real world could one day be hurled at persons by the minute in an alternate plane? And you even get to have an audience while you do so.

Thing is, there's no filter for this kind of online pollution on social media -- unless you want to see your FB friend list (or Twitter "followees") dwindle down to... maybe 30? 20? 5? But if that's the case, why would you still be on Facebook? What purpose would a Twitter account serve then? There are other digital ways of keeping in touch with the people who have a knack for spreading the love and cleaning up the mess made by others without spewing out their own dirt in the process.

The great thing is that one always has a choice on how much to participate in the online world. And that's just what I've been trying to figure out myself. One can always say -- with a tinge of doubt somewhere in there -- "I need to be on Facebook" and for vital reasons. But one can also sometimes fall into thinking that his/her presence in social media is somewhat indispensable, or that keeping away from the wired means of sharing information or drowning evil in an abundance of good -- as St. Josemaria put it -- means one isn't doing his/her part in putting Christ at the summit of all human activity.

There are trade-offs, and -- just like in other aspects of life, be it field of study, this job or that job, parenting style, and the "little" day-to-day decisions -- what will probably determine the choice are one's priorities.

Decisions, decisions. Choice -- the buzzword in some circles for many years now. I'm grateful for choices and for the fact that we in this day and age have the benefit of having more of them. But really, having so many options to choose from can sometimes be confusing. One thing's for sure -- this isn't going to be like one of those decision-making moments involving "glass-beads necklace or vintage velvet choker" choices.

* Graphics from Multilingual BPO and Elexu 

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