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Archive for March 2009

Perseverance

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michael-jordan_3

I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots.
I’ve lost almost 300 games.
I’ve failed over and over again in my life.
And that is why I succeed.

– Michael Jordan

Written by MattAndJojang

March 26, 2009 at 5:20 pm

A Father’s Legacy

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o-hare-airport1
Two Stories – BOTH TRUE

STORY NUMBER ONE

Many years ago, Al Capone virtually owned Chicago . Capone wasn’t famous for anything heroic. He was notorious for enmeshing the windy city in everything from bootlegged booze and prostitution to murder.

Capone had a lawyer nicknamed “Easy Eddie.” He was Capone’s lawyer for a good reason. Eddie was very good! In fact, Eddie’s skill at legal maneuvering kept Big Al out of jail for a long time.

To show his appreciation, Capone paid him very well. Not only was the money big, but Eddie got special dividends, as well. For instance, he and his family occupied a fenced-in mansion with live-in help and all of the conveniences of the day. The estate was so large that it filled an entire Chicago City block.

Eddie lived the high life of the Chicago mob and gave little consideration to the atrocity that went on around him.

Eddie did have one soft spot, however. He had a son that he loved dearly. Eddie saw to it that his young son had clothes, cars , and a good education. Nothing was withheld. Price was no object.

And, despite his involvement with organized crime, Eddie even tried to teach him right from wrong. Eddie wanted his son to be a better man than he was.

Yet, with all his wealth and influence, there were two things he couldn’t give his son; he couldn’t pass on a good name or a good example.

One day, Easy Eddie reached a difficult decision. Easy Eddie wanted to rectify wrongs he had done.

He decided he would go to the authorities and tell the truth about Al “Scarface ” Capone, clean up his tarnished name, and offer his son some semblance of integrity. To do this, he would have to testify against The Mob, and he knew that the cost would be great. So, he testified.

Within the year, Easy Eddie’s life ended in a blaze 20 of gunfire on a lonely Chicago Street . But in his eyes, he had given his son the greatest gift he had to offer, at the greatest price he could ever pay. Police removed from his pockets a rosary, a crucifix, a religious medallion, and a poem clipped from a magazine.

The poem read:

“The clock of life is wound but once, and no man has the power to tell just when the hands will stop, at late or early hour. Now is the only time you own. Live, love, toil with a will. Place no faith in time. For the clock may soon be still.”


STORY NUMBER TWO

World War II produced many heroes. One such man was Lieutenant Commander Butch O’Hare.

He was a fighter pilot assigned to the aircraft carrier Lexington in the South Pacific.

One day his entire squadron was sent on a mission. After he was airborne, he looked at his fuel gauge and realized that someone had forgotten to top off his fuel tank.

He would not have enough fuel to complete his mission and get back to his ship.

His flight leader told him to return to the carrier. Reluctantly, he dropped out of formation and headed back to the fleet.

As he was returning to the mother ship, he saw something that turned his blood cold; a squadron of Japanese aircraft was speeding its way toward the American fleet.

The American fighters were gone on a sortie, and the fleet was all but defenseless. He couldn’t reach his squadron and bring them back in time to save the fleet. Nor could he warn the fleet of the approaching danger. There was only one thing to do. He must somehow divert them from the fleet.

Laying aside all thoughts of personal safety, he dove into the formation of Japanese planes . Wing-mounted 50 caliber’s blazed as he charged in, attacking one surprised enemy plane and then another. Butch wove in and out of the now broken formation and fired at as many planes as possible until all his ammunition was finally spent.

Undaunted, he continued the assault. He dove at the planes, trying to clip a wing or tail in hopes of damaging as many enemy planes as possible, rendering them unfit to fly.

Finally, the exasperated Japanese squadron took off in another direction.

Deeply relieved, Butch O’Hare and his tattered fighter limped back to the carrier.

Upon arrival, he reported in and related the event surrounding his return. The film from the gun-camera mounted on his plane told the tale. It showed the extent of Butch’s daring attempt to protect his fleet. He had, in fact, destroyed five enemy aircraft.

This took place on February 20, 1942 , and for that action Butch became the Navy’s first Ace of W.W.II, and the first Naval Aviator to win the Medal of Honor.

A year later Butch was killed in aerial combat at the age of 29. His home town would not allow the memory of this WW II hero to fade, and today, O’Hare Airport in Chicago is named in tribute to the courage of this great man.

So, the next time you find yourself at O’Hare International, give some thought to visiting Butch’s memorial displaying his statue and his Medal of Honor. It’s located between Terminals 1 and 2.

SO WHAT DO THESE TWO STORIES HAVE TO DO WITH EACH OTHER?


Butch O’Hare was “Easy Eddie’s” son.

Written by MattAndJojang

March 20, 2009 at 9:32 pm

The Value of Beauty

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Beauty

In The Wisdom of the Body, Sherwin Nuland writes about the value of beauty that can be found in our own biological makeup as it can be in a poem.

Our lives march to the molecular beat of our tissues. Our spirits sing to the music of our biology.

Perhaps the greatest feat of the humanizing process is the recognition of beauty, both the beauty that we find around us and the beauty we can create. Beauty in and of itself would seem to be of no direct consequence to the DNA’s survival needs (nature has provided other ways of attracting members of the opposite sex), and that alone makes its recognition one of the supreme accomplishments of the human mind: Beauty of image, of sound, and of thought give us the sense of enrichment, even of spirituality, that goes well beyond our constant seeking of mere survival and the most elementary forms of gratification and pleasure. The human spirit and its perpetual search for beauty are the defining characteristics of our humanity at its best.

Think of poetry. Its most fundamental characteristic is in the line, however constructed; the line is the tissue of poetry. Like a tissue, it exhibits repetition and variation. Although any of its words, like any cell, is insignificant when taken by itself, its presence in the line is essential to the cadence and the meaning of the whole; it therefore demands attention in its own right.

Every word is the precise word—every pause is the precise pause, whether indicated by the voice or in the punctuation. Each depends for its significance on the entire poem, and at the same time each gives its own significance to the entire poem. The whole gives meaning to each constituent part and to the specific location of that part within it. Is this not true of every part of the body, perhaps even of every cell? It is precisely the right kind of cell, but standing alone by itself without context, its work has no meaning. The various elements of a poem combined—are organized, are integrated, are unified—into the complex organism we behold. The poetic organism lives because each of its words and pauses and punctuations live. True of a poem, true of a man. We create a poem in our own image.

Sherwin Nuland

Written by MattAndJojang

March 18, 2009 at 6:51 pm

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Anyway

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mother-teresa
People are often unreasonable, illogical and self centered;
Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives;
Be kind anyway.

If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies;
Succeed anyway.

If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you;
Be honest and frank anyway.

What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight;
Build anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous;
Be happy anyway.

The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow;
Do good anyway.

Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough;
Give the world the best you’ve got anyway.

You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and your God;
It was never between you and them anyway.

Reportedly inscribed on the wall of Mother Teresa’s children’s home in Calcutta, and attributed to her. However, an article in the New York Times has since reported (March 8, 2002) that the original version of this poem was written by Kent M. Keith.

Written by MattAndJojang

March 9, 2009 at 10:03 pm

A New Beginning

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spring-grass

Spring begins shyly
With one hairpin of green grass
In a flower pot.

Richard Wright

Written by MattAndJojang

March 6, 2009 at 10:17 pm

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Wisdom from Lee Kuan Yew’s Daughter

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Live Simply

In 2007, in an end-of-year message to the staff of the National Neuroscience Institute, Associate Professor Lee Wei Ling, daughter of Lee Kuan Yew, the Minister Mentor, a director in the institute, wrote:

Whilst boom time in the public sector is never as booming as in the private sector, let us not forget that boom time is eventually followed by slump time. Slump time in the public sector is always less painful compared to the private sector. Slump time has arrived with a bang. While I worry about the poorer Singaporeans who will be hit hard, perhaps this recession has come at an opportune time for many of us. It will give us an incentive to reconsider our priorities in life. Decades of the good life have made us soft.

The wealthy especially, but also the middle class in Singapore , have had it so good for so long, what they once considered luxuries, they now think of as necessities. A mobile phone, for instance, is now a statement about who you are, not just a piece of equipment for communication. Hence, many people buy the latest model though their existing mobile phones are still in perfect working order. A Mercedes-Benz is no longer adequate as a status symbol. For millionaires who wish to show the world they have taste, a Ferrari or a Porsche is deemed more appropriate. The same attitude influences the choice of attire and accessories. I still find it hard to believe that there are people carrying handbags that cost more than thrice the monthly income of a bus driver, and many more times that of the foreign worker labouring in the hot sun, risking his life to construct luxury condominiums he will never have a chance to live in.

The media encourages and amplifies this ostentatious consumption. Perhaps it is good to encourage people to spend more because this will prevent the recession from getting worse. I am not an economist, but wasn’t that the root cause of the current crisis – Americans spending more than they could afford to? As I view the crass materialism around me, I am reminded of what my mother once told me: ‘Suffering and deprivation is good for the soul.’ My family is not poor, but we have been brought up to be frugal. My parents and I live in the same house that my paternal grandparents and their children moved into after World War II in 1945. It is a big house by today’s standards. But it is simple. In fact, almost to the point of being shabby. Those who see it for the first time are astonished that Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew’s home is so humble. But it is a comfortable house, a home we have got used to. Though it does look shabby compared to the new mansions on our street, we are not bothered by the comparison.

Most of the world and much of Singapore will lament the economic downturn. We have been told to tighten our belts. There will undoubtedly be suffering, which we must try our best to ameliorate. But I personally think the hard times will hold a timely lesson for many Singaporeans, especially those born after 1970, who have never lived through difficult times. No matter how poor you are in Singapore, the authorities and social groups do try to ensure you have shelter and food. Nobody starves in Singapore. Many of those who are currently living in mansions and enjoying a luxurious lifestyle will probably still be able to do so, even if they might have to downgrade from wines costing $20,000 a bottle to $10,000 a bottle. They would hardly notice the difference.

Being wealthy is not a sin. It cannot be in a capitalist market economy. Enjoying the fruits of one’s own labour is one’s prerogative and I have no right to chastise those who choose to live luxuriously. But if one is blinded by materialism, there would be no end to wanting and hankering. After the Ferrari, what next? An Aston Martin? After the Hermes Birkin handbag, what can one upgrade to? Neither an Aston Martin nor an Hermes Birkin can make us truly happy or contented. They are like dust, a fog obscuring the true meaning of life, and can be blown away in the twinkling of an eye.

When the end approaches and we look back on our lives, will we regret the latest mobile phone or luxury car that we did not acquire? Or would we prefer to die at peace with ourselves, knowing that we have lived lives filled with love, friendship and goodwill, that we have helped some of our fellow voyagers along the way and that we have tried our best to leave this world a slightly better place than how we found it? We know which is the correct choice – and it is within our power to make that choice. In this new year, burdened as it is with the problems of the year that has just ended, let us again try to choose wisely. To a considerable degree, our happiness is within our own control, and we should not follow the herd blindly.

Written by MattAndJojang

March 2, 2009 at 3:07 pm