For most of us, these modern times do not leave a lot of free personal time. Even when we manage to salvage a few precious hours from our busy routines many other unplanned affairs claim for attention and we end up with very little time left.

However, finding the time to cultivate a pastime is as important as working out or sorting our mail. Why? A pastime is an activity we choose to do for enjoyment, it is our little personal retreat where we allow our mind and body to relax and realign.

Pastimes will come in many different shapes, but they all have a few things in common. They will help us to learn new skills, challenge ourselves and provide us with a real sense of achievement.

Over the years, I have “acquired” more pastimes than I should. But when I look at the long list of personal undertakings, they all have two things in common: learn and challenge. So I concluded that my pastime is in reality that, I like to learn new things and challenge myself.

Being it photography, scuba diving, playing the guitar, playing squash, reading or traveling (yes, this is the short list of my pastimes!) what I enjoy the most is learning new things and overcoming the challenges of each activity.

Also, developing new skills and keeping our brains engaged in something that we enjoy improves our overall well-being and performance at other activities.

So, you see there is little (if any) downsize to dedicate some of our valuable scarce time to a pastime but the benefits can be real big. I really encourage you to find sometime and devote it to that activity, project, plan that really fires up your passion and gives you the opportunity to achieve and relax at the same time!



 Onomatopoeia. Wow! What a mouthful! Are you familiar with it? Yes, you are! Don’t believe me? I’ll prove it to you. Have you ever referred to the sound that things make? Or, have you imitated the call of an animal? Then you have used onomatopoeia!

The best definition I have ever found of the word onomatopoeia is: the forming of a word in imitation of a natural sound. Which means, you have been using them since you were a little boy or girl. Do you remember the Old Macdonald had a farm? Is full of them!

Oink, moo, quack are all Onomatopeia or words that imitate a natural sound. But wait, there is more! Bang, boom, zing and all those you read in the old comic books belong to the same family.

One interesting thing about these words is that different cultures refer to the same natural sound with diffrent words. Just look at this short list comparing English and Spanish onomatopoeia:

  • Bang – Pum
  • Arf – Guau
  • Meow – Miau
  • Chirp – Pio
  • Choo-choo – Chucu-chucu
  • Ribbit – croak

All languages have them and are a very good tell-tale of the culture. So there you have it! You are familiar with Onomatopeia and have been using them all your life.

Now, go brag to someone about it!




    No. What a simple and short word. And yet, so complicated. We all know what it means and when to use it right? Or, do we? How many times in any given situation you wanted, really wanted to say no and yet, you said yes!

    Maybe it was to your parents, a teacher or a co-worker but you ended saying yes and getting extra work or responsibility that you did not want in the first place.

    And the worse part? Well, you felt guilty, you know you should’ve said no, yet you said yes and you beat yourself for it. You tell yourself over and over that next time you will say no. When the next time comes, yes again! Feel guilty again, beat yourself and repeat.

    I know that too well, because I’ve been there more times than I care to remember. Always wondered what my life would look like if I could say no like there is no tomorrow. Until it hit me! 

    If I keeping saying yes to everyone and everything… There is no tomorrow! My time will belong to all those time suckers that I keep buying everytime I say yes when I know, I just know I have to say no!

    Everytime I say no to something, I “get” that time back to do with it whatever I want! And that is an encouraging thought. Still, learning to say no at the right time is a journey and for some of us a really long one.

    So, join me! Let’s learn together to say no when we mean to say no and yes when we really mean to say yes! I am sure we will all become more mature, smart and happier.


    Macro… Micro…


    Size matters! no matter what you have been told. Specially when it come to looking at the world from the physicist point of view (we all have a little Sheldon Cooper inside us… mine tends to be as annoying as the real one).

    When you look at the world of the very small (sub atomic particles) or the very large (the universe) the laws of physics we are used to deal with do not apply. Scientists are trying very hard to unravel the secrets of nature when it comes to deal with this two universes.

    This is relevant to all of us because in my opinion, the next generation of scientific breakthroughs will come from our understanding of the micro and the macro worlds that surround us.

    Nanobots to mend your body, molecular medicine, new superconductors, alternative power sources, the next generation of computer chips so you can see cute cats on the internet faster and a long list of other amazing things the science will make available to us in the decades to come have to do with our understanding of the very big and the very small.

    So keep your eyes open and next time you see a scientists don’t call him nerd… cheer for him!


    Lament 2.0 (of a weary traveler)


    I’ve spent my life in an aeroplane
    Because I wanted to live on the fast lane
    I waved to family and friends
    Hoping that some day this will end.

    I’ve spend many nights in a room
    that some call the presidential dorm
    I’ve said bon jour and guten tag
    and fought back the jet lag.

    I’ve had exotic dishes
    that for some are only wishes
    and walked the streets of the world
    only to get my head all twirled up.

    But I know that  with family and friends
    is truly were my hearth rests
    and home is the place
    I long for while I pack my suitcase.



    Some time ago I posted an earlier version of this poem here. I have updated it and created this new 2.0 version. I hope you like it.

    King… In chess

    imageChess is a great thing! A game that entertains and amazes at the same time. 32 pieces on a board with 64 squares. Sounds pretty simple right? Yet everytime you play the game is always different and that is what makes me keep coming back.

    Of all the pieces however, there is one that I find most interesting… The King.

    At first glance seems to be the most important piece of them all – loose the King, loose the game. However, on a closer look, you realize that his majesty is rather a weak piece and his contributions to the overall strategy are limited… Beyond staying alive of course.

    Think about it, his kingship does not like to be in the middle of the fray. At the first chance, retreats to the relative safety of the corners of the board away from the center where tipically most of the battle takes place (there’s even a special move for this – castling).

    Also, some pretty good fighters have to commit to the sole purpose of protecting his highness, tipically a rook, a knight and a couple of pawns. These guys would be probably more useful in the battlefield slaying the oponent’s army. But remember, lose the king, lose the game.

    He will leave all of the fighting to his trusted troops (pawns, rooks, Knights) advisors (bishops) and… His lovely wife (the queen) who in reality is the most powerful piece on the board. Wherever she shows up, the enemy trembles! Talk about the power behind the throne.

    Very rarely you will see husband and wife fighting shoulder to shoulder for the good of the kingdom and their noble subjects. It will be more like I’ll cheer for you from here darling, go show them who’s boss.

    And a well positioned and protected queen does show them who is boss… She is!

    As the battle progresses and the casualties mount up in both armies, royalty becomes a bit worried, his highness will have to move either to join the chase of his nemesis or run away because the enemy troops will be busting the throne room doors.

    In either case, when it comes to moving, the king is sluggish (1 square at a time in any direction). Maybe is that winter fat belly or just that he is out of practice, but in any case he is not very fast.

    That can turn out to be problematic, if he has to run for dear life, he will not get very far before he is captured. If chasing the other king, it might take some time before he even reaches the vicinity where the other monarc is hiding.

    So, you see, delegates all the fighting, spends most of the time in hiding, sluggish when moving around and yet, lose the king, lose the game.

    I am sure there is a grander lesson here, but I am having too much fun thinking about my next move, so, I will leave to you to draw your own conclusion and perhaps you can share it with me while we can catch a game.


    Juggler… of life

    jugglerI don’t know how to juggle balls in the air. I would love to, but never dedicated the time to learn and practice. However, as any other adult in this world, I juggle… a lot!

    I don’t mean keeping objects in the air, but keeping life affairs relatively under control. Professional and family life, and unhealthy long lists of hobbies and personal undertakings, filing taxes, blogging,  remembering dates, planning weekends or road trips, and the list goes on, and on, and on.

    I don’t think I am particularly special for juggling all these things at the same time.  At the end, we all do it. What I have learned however, is how to manage it without stressing too much about it.

    The secret… well, is real simple, don’t worry too much about it. When you consider the number of things we are expected to do these days it is amazing that we don’t “drop” more balls more often.

    I’ve learned to do my best and focus my attention on what I am doing at any particular time, don’t let other things distract me and then, move to the next topic and apply the same strategy.

    At the end of the day, I know that I have done my very best and feel glad about it. Yes, still some days are not as good or pleasant I would like, but at least I don’t need to over stress about things and I can keep all those little balls still moving.

    If you can, try it! focus on one thing, give it your undivided attention and then move to the next topic, you will be more productive, more efficient and more importantly, less stressed.

    Hope it works for you and helps a little bit!



    immigrationGroups of people moving from one place to another has been part of human nature since the very beginning. Archaeologist have found proof that groups of people relocating (small and large) has been part of our history.

    As the world has become a more connected and complex place, immigration has also become quite a complicated equation. In my opinion, today we face three different types of immigration phenomena (regardless of the amount of people relocating):

    Opportunity immigration: People that relocate in search of a better life. Most of these people will work hard to achieve their goal and will for the most part be grateful to the communities that have given them the opportunity to become a better student, professional, artist… but above all, person.

    Forced immigration: People that must to leave their homes behind due external causes such natural disasters, wars and other factors they cannot control. Most media outlets refer to them as refugees (I personally don’t like the word).

    bad-apple immigration: Sadly, there are some people that will move to a different place with bad intentions. Being from abusing the social support system to harm other people. This is probably the smallest group but the one that causes the most damage to the immigrants image.

    Regardless of the opinion of some ill-informed politicians, immigration is a good thing for most countries. This is one of the ways they have to welcome professionals, artists, writers, sports stars, etc. that enrich society and promote development.

    You can see today that most scientific breakthroughs are achieved by multidisciplinary, multi nationality teams. Have a quick look to the International Space Station crew and you will immediately see a collection of different flags.

    How many times have you seen Olympic medalists that represent a country they were not born in, but immigrated to it?

    And the lists goes on and on… the challenge for many nations today will be how to approach the different kinds of immigrants. Welcome the opportunity immigrant while ignoring the forced ones?

    Establishing a system to identify the bad-apples and prevent them from relocating in the first place? Offer equal opportunities to forced and opportunity immigrants?

    I don’t have the answer, but what I know is that no country can just ignore the facts and turn the other way when it comes to immigration. One way of the other, it will still happen as it has for thousand of years.

    We might as well openly discuss the issue and find a solution that respects people, offers opportunities and allows countries to further develop.

    And yes, in case you were wondering I have been an immigrant most of my life…




    Half & half

     Have you noticed how some people look generally unhappy and sad while others look happy and content? I am not referring to those moments of sadness and happiness that we all have as we sail through this adventure we call life but more to a permanent state they tend to display.

    Maybe is a co-worker, a neigborgh or a distant family member, but every time you cross paths with them they are always unhappy and complaining about something -old or new-. You know, the person that is driving in front of them can’t do anything right, or the cat is too loud, or too quiet, maybe is too cold or too hot, and the list of complains goes forever.

    If we want, we can find enough reasons to be sad and miserable our entire life. Or… We can live a happy, fulfilling life under exactly the same circumstances. It is a matter of half and half.

    Half of the equation to a better life is what just happens to us. Those things we can not control such as the weather, an unexpected sickness, the kind of co-workers we get. That is the “circumstantial half”. There is not much you can do to influence that part.

    The other half (the important one) is how we choose to react to those things. Yes, you read it right, it is a matter of choice and that is entirely up to us. If it is a sunny day, I can choose to complain about how hot it is or enjoy a nice stroll in the park. The weather has not changed, only the way I decide to react about it. This is the “Attitude half”. And there is a whole lot of things I can do to influence that part.

    The attitude half is a crucial factor in determining how miserable or happy we will be in any given situation. Oddly enough, many people will choose the unhappy path without even realizing that the dark shadow casted over them is their own doing. On the other hand, by making better choices we can learn to enjoy nearly every situation that life throws at us.

    I am not suggesting that by making good decisions for the attitude half life will be all nice, easy and rosy. We will always face the ups and downs of life. Some times we will be happy, some sad and some others we will experience a combination of emotions that we will find hard to describe. That is what makes us humans!

    But I am sure that the choices we make regarding the attitude half will influence our overall perception of life and make a difference on how we go about our days. In any case, what is the alternative? Just go from one day to the next with a general sense of dissatisfaction? Mmmhhh… Not a good option. Is it? I rather try and maybe, just maybe something good will come out of it.

    And do not worry too much about the circumstantial half. There is not much you can do to influence the weather anyway!



    Isn’t the guitar one of the most sweet, harmonic and versatile instruments you can possible listen to? or even better, play?  You can find all kind of musicians interpreting real masterpieces of pretty much any imaginable genre.

    Do you like the trashing sounds of metal or classic rock?, you got it! or how about some romatic ballads? got you covered! Celtic? Check! Country or Pop music? would not exists with out it! Bossa Nova? Pleeease, guitar is the very soul of it!

    Also, the guitar is quite portable (tell that to the piano players!) and affordable; yes, you could, if you wanted, shell a few G’s for a very nice guitar but you can also find very decent sounding instruments for a really good price.

    For me, where guitar finds its golden spot is in classical music. Its sound with so many different “personalities” make the music come alive. Playing guitar is one of my personal hobbies, so I thought that the best way to describe it is by playing a little bit for you. And yes, I know I have a long, long way to go to call myself a guitarist but I am sure enjoying the journey!