On Fiction

Non-fiction books have dominated my shelf for a couple of years now. Biographies, self-help books, books on productivity, psychology, and the like. I would often read them during my free-time as a form of rest and relaxation (R&R). But last month I (finally) realized that it’s still more of studying I was doing rather than resting.

Fortunately, it so happened that I bought fiction books from a local indie bookstore over the holiday break (as always, the cover attracted me; I tend to judge a book by its cover!). I’m on my fourth book now since Christmas. It is very refreshing to read fiction! It effectively allows me to detach from reality for a while, which I think is the point of a real R&R. I can literally feel the tension in my brain muscles slowly loosening and I almost forgot just how entertaining a well-written novel can be! Books on fantasy and adventure also seem to encourage creativity as it allows you to imagine more.

Have you been too busy lately? When was the last time you read a good fiction book? Maybe it’s time to grab one from your shelf again?

Happy reading!


On Color

A brewing interest. Let’s make 2018 #colorful! :3

This book is slowly opening my eyes to the fascinating world of colors and natural pigments. Read about the white pigment so far and how lead carbonate was used for the longest time despite its toxic properties (lead poisoning!!!) because it provides a vivid, opaque color. Zinc Oxide would’ve been an alternative, but it was too expensive that people still used lead. Fortunately, titanium was discovered! I’m in the chapter about ochre now and learned that it can be found in certain rocks!

Outside the book, I learned from a YouTube video how to extract pigment from bamboo! Now I want to try it!!! Just need to buy some alum powder (tawas?) and cook baking soda to turn it into washing soda. It’s also very tempting to buy clear acrylic gel medium to turn the pigment into acrylic paint (or watercolor, but apparently it has more components like honey, glycerin, etc., so let’s start with simple acrylic first).

Definitely something to explore next year after this jam-packed semester is over!



On Essentialism


Greg McKeown’s book, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, was such a great read! It’s written in a very simple and structured way that it becomes easy to follow and understand. The book also inspires action so much that I finally gathered the courage to turn down a very good opportunity in order to focus on what is really essential to me. It felt liberating and empowering to take control of the choices I make. If it doesn’t contribute to what matters, don’t waste time and energy in it. The next challenge is to sustain this practice!

This book is worth your hard-earned money. I strongly recommend it! :)

On Wellness

I posted last week about how I wanted to incorporate exercise into my daily routine. Guess what? So far so good with eight straight days of tai chi! It’s the first thing I do every morning: alarm at 5 am, rise up at around 5:20, then do around 20 minutes of tai chi 18 (shibashi). What I like about it is that it hits two birds with one stone because aside from movement you also get to meditate. Mind and body wellness in 20 minutes!

I first learned tai chi when I lived in a Buddhist temple back in 2011. We learned tai chi 18 & 24, as well as tai chi fan and sword. Tai chi 18 is the simplest of the four and, luckily, there are tons of good YouTube videos to follow. I encourage you to try it. It will feel weird at first, but it is really relaxing and energizing. And I don’t think anyone can deny the proven benefits of this excellent Chinese exercise. :)

On Resting

So the body gave up. I was down with flu since yesterday morning. The weeklong sleep deprivation took its toll. And it’s weird, even though I tried to be efficient, there’s still that feeling that I can do more if only I manage my time better. But sometimes, things just don’t go as expected. Meetings run longer than planned, writing took longer than usual, memories from last year would resurface leaving me paralyzed for a time.

On the brighter side, I can say that my “academic endurance” did improve. I was able to pull-off my lecture class despite preparing just hours before (not something I should be proud of, but if it was the Jill back in 2015, I would’ve canceled my class already if I wasn’t prepared the night before).

Planning and visualization. These two probably took much of my time. I plan for current projects. I visualize future projects. I scavenge the Internet for sources of funding, for organizations that share the same vision, for people I can meet with to get inspiration and ideas from. Then I imagine the possibilities. What happens if this project becomes a success? A failure? But mostly I dwell on the former (being the stubborn optimist that I am).

Then I was appointed as the new program coordinator for Materials Engineering. Ideas start brewing in my head again. I finish the Individual Development Plan (IDP) document. I tell myself that if I could help someone last year who just ended up treating me like trash after supposedly showing him that he could dream big and actually achieve it, then I will do everything I can to help my fellow faculty grow in their career as well. This amazing group of people who, despite our individual differences, I have regarded as my family since 2013.

Routine. Something I used to detest, but slowly learning to appreciate. I had to develop a routine when I went back to work last January: this time is allotted for traveling to and from work, lecture prep, writing, eating, taking a bath, etc. But one thing I have yet to incorporate is exercise. Obviously, my being sick now is a mayday call to quickly put exercise into my routine.

Alright. I guess I have to end here now. I haven’t checked my email yet since yesterday. I missed a deadline last Friday so I’m expecting a not-so-good email in my inbox when I open it later. But what the heck, all I can do is my best. I’m sure I did what I can, given my circumstances. Brush it off, stand up, smile, and move forward. :)