Winston

 

winstonSir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill is one of the few characters in history that really inspires me. I know there are opposing camps when it comes to considering his contributions to this world and many, many different opinions regarding his personality.

All that aside, I believe that we all can agree that his famous speeches and writings show the ability that he had to transmit his message with clarity, force, and elegance.

Of all his work, there are two quotes that for me stand out and have been my favorite for a very long, time. I want to share them with you. Hopefully, you will find in them the same inspiration that I do every time I read them.

“Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never—in nothing, great or small, large or petty—never give in, except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force. Never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.”

-Winston Churchill

 

“I am a man of simple tastes easily satisfied with the best”

-Winston Churchill

-Stein

Queen… in Chess

 Long live the King! Long live the King! was the cry that could be heard around the entire chess board. For as long as you have a King, you are game! Loose the King, lose the game.

A few days ago I wrote a little bit about His Royal Highness here. But the King would not be so without royal companion by his side. The mighty Queen.

Her majesty is not the wait in the palace sewing while the King goes hunting kind of girl. Oh no! She is mighty as she is beautiful. She is agile as she is graceful.

The most powerful piece on the board, she goes wherever she wants and whenever she shows up, the enemy forces tremble and despair!

During the game you will see her in the thick of the battle, fighting along her trusted knights and rooks always encouraging the humble pawns to take a step forward for she is with them.

She will put the good of her kingdom and king before her own safety and is not uncommon for her to make the ultimate sacrifice to secure the victory.

Definitely and admirable piece, with great power and full of energy. Enjoys being in the middle of the board where the fight is taking place and can easily tip the balance of power with a single good move.

The King must count himself lucky to have such a great queen by his side!

-Stein

 

Pastimes


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!

-Stein

Macro… Micro…

micromacro[1]

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!

-Stein

Lament 2.0 (of a weary traveler)

0315-savvy-traveler-quiz

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.

-Stein


 

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.

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!

-Stein

Immigration

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…

-Stein

 

 

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!

-Stein

Guitar

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!

-Stein