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    Tuesday, December 30, 2008

    The 100th Posting

    Unbeknown to me, my postings in this blog have reached 100th. A bit lame, if you asked me. The blog has been around since 2004 and I only manage to get 100 postings. It could have been more (though I can always resort to the 2006 debacle of being an MT and only had time to write two postings for the whole year; hah, what an excuse!).

    I've been through some consolidation recently. Putting closure for two of my other blogs and resuming another one, who had been abandoned for awhile. I guess I have my work cut out for me in 2009, with a goal of getting the average yearly posting up to 25 (from 20 currently), and running the wheel on the website again. Here's to (hopefully) an exciting 2009, and a new chapter in my life! Cheers, and Happy New Year!

    Monday, December 01, 2008

    I Finally Found Someone

    Duet by Barbra Streisand and Bryan Adams

    I finally found someone, who knocks me off my feet
    I finally found the one, who makes me feel complete
    We started over coffee, we started out as friends
    It's funny how from simple things, the best things begin

    This time it's different (dah dah dah dah)
    It's all because of you (dah dah dah dah)
    It's better than it's ever been
    Cause we can talk it through
    My favorite line was "Can I call you sometime?"
    It's all you had to say to take my breath away

    This is it, oh
    I finally found someone
    Someone to share my life
    I finally found the one
    To be with every night
    Cause whatever I do
    It's just got to be you
    My life has just begun
    I finally found someone (ooh, someone)
    I finally found someone (ooh)

    Did I keep you waiting (I didn't mind)
    I apologize (baby, that's fine)
    I would wait forever just to know you were mine
    And I love your hair (sure it looks right?)
    I love what you wear (isn't it too tight?)
    You're exceptional
    I can't wait for the rest of my life
    This is it, oh

    I finally found someone
    Someone to share my life
    I finally found the one
    To be with every night
    Cause whatever I do
    It's just got to be you
    My life has just begun
    I finally found someone (ooh, someone)
    I finally found someone (ooh)

    Cause whatever I do
    It's just got to be you
    My life has just begun
    I finally found someone

    [Three months have passed.

    Getting to know more on each other.
    Getting to know the habits.
    Getting more understanding.
    Getting more intimate.

    Still thinking about the dreams together.
    Still feeling that warmth and serenity.
    Still lovingly comfortable.
    Still crazy about each other.

    Have I finally found someone?
    I think I have.]

    Sunday, November 30, 2008

    Do What You Are: Discover the Perfect Career for You Through the Secrets of Personality Type

    Do What You Are : Discover the Perfect Career for You Through the Secrets of Personality Type--Revised and Updated Edition Featuring E-careers for the 21st Century Do What You Are : Discover the Perfect Career for You Through the Secrets of Personality Type--Revised and Updated Edition Featuring E-careers for the 21st Century by Paul D. Tieger

    My review

    rating: 5 of 5 stars
    [My review is on Bahasa (Indonesian) language. The review was originally intended for publication in an internal corporate newsletter. Since it is unpublished, I've decided to use it for this purpose instead.]

    Kebanyakan dari kita memilih pekerjaan selama ada lowongan yang kosong dan kompensasi yang menarik tanpa terlalu memikirkan kesesuaian pribadi kita dengan tanggung-jawab dari pekerjaan tersebut. Akibatnya, banyak dari kita yang merasa kurang puas dengan pekerjaan yang kita lakukan dan berdampak pada kinerja dan aktualisasi diri yang tidak optimal dalam bekerja. Hal ini tidak hanya terjadi pada rekan kita yang fresh graduate dan baru memulai karirnya, namun juga menimpa tidak sedikit dari rekan kita yang sudah mencapai pertengahan karirnya.

    Apabila kita masih membayangkan rumput pekarangan tetangga yang lebih hijau, maka tidak ada salahnya untuk membaca buku ini dan memutuskan sendiri apakah rumput tersebut memang benar-benar hijau. Selama lebih dari 10 tahun, buku karangan pasangan suami-istri Tieger ini telah membantu ribuan pembacanya dalam mencari pekerjaan yang sesuai dengan tipe kepribadian mereka. Paul dan Barbara menulis Do What You Are dengan berdasarkan pada metodologi Myers-Briggs yang dikembangkan oleh Isabel Briggs Myers dan ibunya, Katherine Myers, di tahun 1920an. Metodologi tersebut membagi kepribadian seseorang menjadi salah satu dari 16 macam tipe yang ditandai dengan kombinasi empat huruf.

    Keempat huruf tersebut dapat ditentukan setelah pembaca menjawab beberapa pertanyaan awal yang telah disediakan. Selanjutnya pembaca dapat melihat gambaran dan penjelasan mengenai tipe tersebut dan biasanya mulai “menemukan” dirinya. Selanjutnya pembaca dapat mengetahui aspek-aspek apa saja dari pekerjaan yang berpengaruh positif serta dapat membahagiakan Anda dalam pekerjaan tersebut dan aspek-aspek lainnya yang berpengaruh sebaliknya terhadap diri Anda. Akhirnya Anda akan dapat menentukan karir dan jenis pekerjaan apa yang paling sesuai dengan tipe kepribadian Anda.

    Buku ini telah berkembang dan pada edisi berikutnya mengulas mengenai bagaimana menjalin hubungan berdasarkan tipe kepribadian pasangan Anda -- Just Your Type: Create the Relationship You've Always Wanted Using the Secrets of Personality Type -- dan bagaimana mengasuh anak berdasarkan tipe kepribadian mereka -- Nurture by Nature: How to Raise Happy, Healthy, Responsible Children Through the Insights of Personality Type.

    View all my reviews.

    Saturday, November 22, 2008

    Pesta Blogger 2008

    I am sitting in Arabusta Coffee right now, waiting for my friend. Wi-fi connection works like a charm, and I get to sit near a power socket. I can wait for hours, I guess. Okay, so what did I do today? Well, my nephew, Syahan, just had his first birthday celebration this morning.

    I got to wake up earlier than I usually do on a nice cozy weekend. I got a task of documenting the party, using my brother's camcorder. Lots of guests came with their kids. We had this party designed and decorated with a theme of Madagascar, coinciding with the movie release earlier this month. Games and magic shows kept the kids entertained, while foodstalls (consisting of bakmie ayam, bakso, sate ayam, and sop buah) kept the adults busy. Har har..

    After lunch, I went to Pesta Blogger and tried to attend what was left of it. It had started earlier in the morning, and since I couldn't make it last year, I had to come to this year's event and see what it's all about. I arrived just shortly before they split the event into parallel discussions. I attended the Mari Jadi Blogger Yang Kreatif! (Let's Become a Creative Blogger!) with speakers Yoris Sebastian and Raditya Dika. They shared their experience in claiming their identities in the already blog-infested virtual world, building and leveraging their creative energies, their successes and failures, and their future endeavors (a movie based on Raditya's blog, Kambing Jantan, is scheduled to be released in 2009).

    After waiting  for like an hour for door prizes, I left the scene with empty hands (well not entirely since I've got a goody bag filled with laptop case, badges, brochures, and other stuff). I walked down the Thamrin lane to Grand Indonesia. Bought a novel at Gramedia (yup, a compilation of blog postings, strangely, of an anonymous writer). Had a dinner at Gado-Gado Boplo. And ends up at Arabusta Coffee. Waiting for my friend. Should be any minute now...

    Wednesday, November 19, 2008

    Mare Forum Maritime Indonesia 2008

    Tonight, I got mentally exhausted, yet relieved. I just had my speaking engagement earlier this afternoon. Pfew!

    Okay, about two weeks ago, I got a phone call from the organizer, one Mr. Jannis Kostoulas, the managing director of the Mare Forum. The Mare Forum are organizers of Mare Forum conferences, specializing in conference management, project development and policy marketing. They bring together policy makers and chief executives of an industry to have dialogue and debate so everybody can be on the same page in strategizing business and deciding on policies. Today's Mare Forum conference held in the Four Seasons Jakarta was discussing about the maritime industry, and was titled Maritime Indonesia 2008.

    The conference was attended by some 140 guests (as told by the organizer), mostly from the shipping industry, both Indonesian and foreigners. There were three large groups as I had observed: shipowners, shipbrokers, and financiers. Other small groups were lawyers, analysts, journalists, and none from the government. Quite a dissapointment since a lot of the discussion needed the government's perspective as the policymaker. But their absence is understandable, since the policymakers would almost certainly be put in a hot seat. Nonetheless, the conference moved on ahead with minor delays on the schedule.

    I was scheduled to present my case shortly after lunch. The topic of my presentation was regarding cabotage. Cabotage is a hot topic in the Indonesian shipping industry. It presents an opportunity for tilting the balance of the bargaining power toward the shippers and away from the charterers. I think the future landscape of the domestic maritime trade will be at the favor of the shippers due to implementation of the cabotage law. Of course, holding the premise that it will be implemented, and on time. My presentation have been archived by the Mare Forum here.

    Why did I choose to present a topic on cabotage, much less on maritime trade? Well, I think the organizer felt strongly about the cabotage issue, and I happened to write an article about it on the Jakarta Post. They even admit to have invited me because of that article.

    Overall, it was a good experience for me, a change of pace from my daily work in the cubicle pondering the state of my valuation (sigh). I met a lot of people here, and a fellow Indiana alumn (yeah, a small world after all).

    Saturday, November 15, 2008

    Pegawai Virgo

    [Sabtu pagi kok malah ngomongin kerjaan. Yah, iseng-iseng lah sekalian nunggu nyokap selese ngaji sebelum berangkat lagi ke sinshe lagi siang ini. Batuk akut gue udah berkurang drastis sih, ngga ada malah. Hebat tuh sinshe, ramuan herbalnya manjur gila! Padahal gue udah tiga kali ke dokter, beda semua, tiga-tiganya ngasih resep antibiotik, dan ga ada yang mempan. Akhirnya pake pengobatan alternatif dan sembuh (Insha Allah, gue ngga mau nge-jinx neh). Yah, rencananya sih ke sinshe mo ngambil ramuannya lagi, at least buat seminggu lagi deh, mungkin aja kan belum sembuh bener. Sekalian di-akupunktur lagi buat cedera pinggang gue dua minggu yang lalu. Itu juga mendingan banget sekarang, gue rekomendasi deh buat sinshe-nya.

    Anyway, gue pernah dikirimin email nih ama temen kantor gue. Biasa lah, kan sering kedapetan tuh, either email kaleng, humor, gosip, game, berita, ato isengan kaya gini. Yah, boleh lah kita kupas dikit mengenai kinerja pegawai berdasarkan zodiaknya ini. Aslinya diambil dari blog Yunianto Tri Atmojo. Mari kita baca dulu.]

    Dalam situasi yang tepat, Virgo akan suka bekerja. Mereka akan dapat menjadi pegawai ideal, dengan bahagia mau bekerja sampai malam dan memastikan semuanya berjalan sempurna. Jika anda mencari pegawai yang tidak keberatan untuk memulai segala sesuatunya dari posisi terendah, maka carilah pegawai Virgo.

    Mereka tidak akan pernah mengeluh mengenai posisi. Mereka merasa cukup dengan pekerjaan dasar dan jujur. Tetapi perasaan cukup ini tidak selalu nampak. Mereka sangat cerewet dan cenderung mudah kuatir. Mereka cepat mengkritik mengenai cara melakukan sesuatu di kantor. Mereka adalah orang pertama yang akan segera menunjukkan sikap tidak setuju mengenai apa yang mereka anggap sikap extravagant atau kemalasan.

    Mereka tidak suka menusuk, jujur dan tidak suka bertele-tele mengenai apa yang mereka anggap kurang benar. Biasanya hal ini akan ditumpahkan kepada mereka yang melakukan pekerjaan yang ’setengah matang’ atau orang yang tidak memperhatikan rekan kerja yang lain.

    Anda harus terus-menerus meyakinkan mereka, tetapi hal ini hanya akan sedikit menahan keresahan mereka. Mereka sebenarnya menikmati untuk merasa kuatir, dan anda tidak akan bisa banyak melakukan sesuatu tentang hal ini. Anda cukup memberikan proyek detil dan membiarkan mereka bekerja sendiri. Anda tidak perlu mengawasi seorang Virgo dalam bekerja. Mereka akan mencari semua fakta sebelum mulai dan akan segera mengetahui semua kesalahannya ketika mereka selesai. Untuk menjaga kebetahan mereka bekerja, anda perlu memperhatikan kondisi lingkungan, agar tetap teduh dan rapi. Anda juga perlu memberikan tanda-tanda penghargaan, walaupun kecil untuk mereka.

    Mereka tidak butuh sesuatu yang mewah, cukup untuk memberikan penghargaan kecil yang tidak perlu sampai membuat mereka memerah malu. Mungkin mereka akan menghela napas dan hanya mengatakan "Ah, nggak ada apa-apanya kok." Tetapi didalam hati mereka membutuhkan pujian kecil seperti ini.

    [Sebentar, garis bawahi dulu situasi yang tepat. Oke, banyak benernya nih menurut gue sebagai pegawai berzodiak Virgo. Virgo kayanya terkenal perfeksionis ya? Di sini juga dibilang begitu, pegawai Virgo bersedia untuk menjadi workaholic demi "kesempurnaan" kerjaan. Asal instruksinya bener dan lengkap, pegawai Virgo sih udah bisa jalan sendiri. Cuman ya itu, karena perfeksionis jadi gampang panikan, constantly anxious. Kesannya kaya kerjaannya itu masih salah, masih bisa dibenerin lagi, masih ada yang kurang lah.. etc, etc. Tapi apa iya sih emang bawaan?

    Terus, apresiasi kerja emang perlu banget sih. Sebagai pegawai Virgo, gue mengakui adanya harapan-harapan apresiasi kerja setelah ngerjain suatu proyek. Biasanya cukup dengan pujian kecil udah oke sih. Dan kayanya bos gue yang sekarang kaya gitu orangnya. Well, ngga ke gue doang sih, ke semuanya juga gitu. So, yah, oke sih nih "ramalan". Banyak kenanya. Anyway, nyokap dah dateng nih, berangkat dulu ya...]

    Friday, November 14, 2008

    Dragonfly's Thursday Industrie - Finance & Co.

    About a month ago, a strange email landed on my inbox. An invitation from a guy named Andi, to be a host for the next Thursday Industrie event held at Dragonfly. Hmm.. must have known my email address from my business card (yeah, I got this habit of dropping my business cards in the glass bowls of various establishments I had visited, hey, you might get an invitation like this..).

    A host in this event functions more as a person who invites his/her friends to come over, not as an emcee (a lot of people had asked me about it, so I guess I better explain it beforehand). As a token of gratuity, Dragonfly provides a table and a free bottle for the first round of drinks. Dragonfly regularly throw up this Thursday Industrie event for people working in a particular industry so they can mingle, network, and have fun. They rotate the industry periodically between several different industries such as finance, entertainment, public relations, music, fashion, etc.

    So about two weeks ago, I accepted Andi's invitation after consulting with several of my co-workers (hey, I need to know if people would come to this event before I agreed for my name to be put as a host there). Andi turns out to be the "party officer" at Dragonfly, and he just sent me the invitation poster four days prior to the event. Luckily, I had told my friends and let them know ahead of time (it's not a weekend event, so chances for us finance people to come to a party mid-week is a bit slim, yeah right..).

    So I emailed the invitation out, and lo and behold, another co-worker is also named as a host, Muti. She was surprised her name was even there, and quickly emailed tons of her friends to come for the event. It was put on Facebook as well.

    So I came a bit earlier (hey, they told me the event started at 8 PM and when I came at 9.15 PM, no one had showed up at my table). As the night turned late, more people showed up. All in all, the two major groups attending the event were from Citi and Danareksa. Cool. You can take a look at the photo album here, courtesy of Nares.

    Wednesday, November 05, 2008

    Obama's Victory Speech

    This afternoon, my colleagues and I watched the TV in our office library enthusiastically. In what probably the most watched political race of the year, I feel to have witnessed history in the making. Obama's speech was probably the most inspiring and the best live speech I have heard up til now. I shivered as those words came out from him. Wow.

    The following is an exact transcript of his speech, taken from CNN website:

    Hello, Chicago.

    If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible, who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time, who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer.

    It's the answer told by lines that stretched around schools and churches in numbers this nation has never seen, by people who waited three hours and four hours, many for the first time in their lives, because they believed that this time must be different, that their voices could be that difference.

    It's the answer spoken by young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled. Americans who sent a message to the world that we have never been just a collection of individuals or a collection of red states and blue states.

    We are, and always will be, the United States of America.

    It's the answer that led those who've been told for so long by so many to be cynical and fearful and doubtful about what we can achieve to put their hands on the arc of history and bend it once more toward the hope of a better day.

    It's been a long time coming, but tonight, because of what we did on this date in this election at this defining moment change has come to America.

    A little bit earlier this evening, I received an extraordinarily gracious call from Sen. McCain.

    Sen. McCain fought long and hard in this campaign. And he's fought even longer and harder for the country that he loves. He has endured sacrifices for America that most of us cannot begin to imagine. We are better off for the service rendered by this brave and selfless leader.

    I congratulate him; I congratulate Gov. Palin for all that they've achieved. And I look forward to working with them to renew this nation's promise in the months ahead.

    I want to thank my partner in this journey, a man who campaigned from his heart, and spoke for the men and women he grew up with on the streets of Scranton and rode with on the train home to Delaware, the vice president-elect of the United States, Joe Biden.

    And I would not be standing here tonight without the unyielding support of my best friend for the last 16 years the rock of our family, the love of my life, the nation's next first lady Michelle Obama.

    Sasha and Malia I love you both more than you can imagine. And you have earned the new puppy that's coming with us to the new White House.

    And while she's no longer with us, I know my grandmother's watching, along with the family that made me who I am. I miss them tonight. I know that my debt to them is beyond measure.

    To my sister Maya, my sister Alma, all my other brothers and sisters, thank you so much for all the support that you've given me. I am grateful to them.

    And to my campaign manager, David Plouffe, the unsung hero of this campaign, who built the best -- the best political campaign, I think, in the history of the United States of America.

    To my chief strategist David Axelrod who's been a partner with me every step of the way.

    To the best campaign team ever assembled in the history of politics you made this happen, and I am forever grateful for what you've sacrificed to get it done.

    But above all, I will never forget who this victory truly belongs to. It belongs to you. It belongs to you.

    I was never the likeliest candidate for this office. We didn't start with much money or many endorsements. Our campaign was not hatched in the halls of Washington. It began in the backyards of Des Moines and the living rooms of Concord and the front porches of Charleston. It was built by working men and women who dug into what little savings they had to give $5 and $10 and $20 to the cause.

    It grew strength from the young people who rejected the myth of their generation's apathy who left their homes and their families for jobs that offered little pay and less sleep.

    It drew strength from the not-so-young people who braved the bitter cold and scorching heat to knock on doors of perfect strangers, and from the millions of Americans who volunteered and organized and proved that more than two centuries later a government of the people, by the people, and for the people has not perished from the Earth.

    This is your victory.

    And I know you didn't do this just to win an election. And I know you didn't do it for me.

    You did it because you understand the enormity of the task that lies ahead. For even as we celebrate tonight, we know the challenges that tomorrow will bring are the greatest of our lifetime -- two wars, a planet in peril, the worst financial crisis in a century.

    Even as we stand here tonight, we know there are brave Americans waking up in the deserts of Iraq and the mountains of Afghanistan to risk their lives for us.

    There are mothers and fathers who will lie awake after the children fall asleep and wonder how they'll make the mortgage or pay their doctors' bills or save enough for their child's college education.

    There's new energy to harness, new jobs to be created, new schools to build, and threats to meet, alliances to repair.

    The road ahead will be long. Our climb will be steep. We may not get there in one year or even in one term. But, America, I have never been more hopeful than I am tonight that we will get there.

    I promise you, we as a people will get there.

    There will be setbacks and false starts. There are many who won't agree with every decision or policy I make as president. And we know the government can't solve every problem.

    But I will always be honest with you about the challenges we face. I will listen to you, especially when we disagree. And, above all, I will ask you to join in the work of remaking this nation, the only way it's been done in America for 221 years -- block by block, brick by brick, calloused hand by calloused hand.

    What began 21 months ago in the depths of winter cannot end on this autumn night.

    This victory alone is not the change we seek. It is only the chance for us to make that change. And that cannot happen if we go back to the way things were.

    It can't happen without you, without a new spirit of service, a new spirit of sacrifice.

    So let us summon a new spirit of patriotism, of responsibility, where each of us resolves to pitch in and work harder and look after not only ourselves but each other.

    Let us remember that, if this financial crisis taught us anything, it's that we cannot have a thriving Wall Street while Main Street suffers.

    In this country, we rise or fall as one nation, as one people. Let's resist the temptation to fall back on the same partisanship and pettiness and immaturity that has poisoned our politics for so long.

    Let's remember that it was a man from this state who first carried the banner of the Republican Party to the White House, a party founded on the values of self-reliance and individual liberty and national unity.

    Those are values that we all share. And while the Democratic Party has won a great victory tonight, we do so with a measure of humility and determination to heal the divides that have held back our progress.

    As Lincoln said to a nation far more divided than ours, we are not enemies but friends. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection.

    And to those Americans whose support I have yet to earn, I may not have won your vote tonight, but I hear your voices. I need your help. And I will be your president, too.

    And to all those watching tonight from beyond our shores, from parliaments and palaces, to those who are huddled around radios in the forgotten corners of the world, our stories are singular, but our destiny is shared, and a new dawn of American leadership is at hand.

    To those -- to those who would tear the world down: We will defeat you. To those who seek peace and security: We support you. And to all those who have wondered if America's beacon still burns as bright: Tonight we proved once more that the true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals: democracy, liberty, opportunity and unyielding hope.

    That's the true genius of America: that America can change. Our union can be perfected. What we've already achieved gives us hope for what we can and must achieve tomorrow.

    This election had many firsts and many stories that will be told for generations. But one that's on my mind tonight's about a woman who cast her ballot in Atlanta. She's a lot like the millions of others who stood in line to make their voice heard in this election except for one thing: Ann Nixon Cooper is 106 years old.

    She was born just a generation past slavery; a time when there were no cars on the road or planes in the sky; when someone like her couldn't vote for two reasons -- because she was a woman and because of the color of her skin.

    And tonight, I think about all that she's seen throughout her century in America -- the heartache and the hope; the struggle and the progress; the times we were told that we can't, and the people who pressed on with that American creed: Yes we can.

    At a time when women's voices were silenced and their hopes dismissed, she lived to see them stand up and speak out and reach for the ballot. Yes we can.

    When there was despair in the dust bowl and depression across the land, she saw a nation conquer fear itself with a New Deal, new jobs, a new sense of common purpose. Yes we can.

    When the bombs fell on our harbor and tyranny threatened the world, she was there to witness a generation rise to greatness and a democracy was saved. Yes we can.

    She was there for the buses in Montgomery, the hoses in Birmingham, a bridge in Selma, and a preacher from Atlanta who told a people that "We Shall Overcome." Yes we can.

    A man touched down on the moon, a wall came down in Berlin, a world was connected by our own science and imagination.

    And this year, in this election, she touched her finger to a screen, and cast her vote, because after 106 years in America, through the best of times and the darkest of hours, she knows how America can change.

    Yes we can.

    America, we have come so far. We have seen so much. But there is so much more to do. So tonight, let us ask ourselves -- if our children should live to see the next century; if my daughters should be so lucky to live as long as Ann Nixon Cooper, what change will they see? What progress will we have made?

    This is our chance to answer that call. This is our moment.

    This is our time, to put our people back to work and open doors of opportunity for our kids; to restore prosperity and promote the cause of peace; to reclaim the American dream and reaffirm that fundamental truth, that, out of many, we are one; that while we breathe, we hope. And where we are met with cynicism and doubts and those who tell us that we can't, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people: Yes, we can.

    Thank you. God bless you. And may God bless the United States of America.

    Sunday, November 02, 2008



    And I thought I wouldn't make as much as a whisper during the 3-minute session of an Obake attraction. According to Wikipedia, Obake refers to a state of transformation, and often translated as ghost. Although it is said to be different from the spirits of the dead, it is synonymous to yurei (ghost of deceased human being) in its secondary usage.

    While  there were lots of things going on during the Indonesia-Japan Expo 2008 -- which in this case quite a lot for just Rp 10,000 ticket price, it includes Manga exhibition, corporate booths, mini photo studio Yukata, 3D Shinkansen show, Mitsubishi i-miev test drive, foreign student panel discussion, Ikebana demonstration, Indie J Band competition, Cosplay competition,  and tons of other things -- Obake would be hands down the highlight of the day here.

    It was by far held the longest line. We were actually stood up in line for almost 2 hours! All for a 3-minute attraction! But, it was worth it. It was fun, and at that time, both scary and startling experience. I jumped up at least twice from my slow walk across the dark labyrinth, where suddenly from a corner appeared... Obake! Kyaaa..!!

    Saturday, November 01, 2008

    Japanese Sound Effects and What They Mean

    Ever wonder what kya means, or yare-yare or even fu fu fu? Well, my ex-coworker sent this website link to help us anime and manga lover to enjoy our entertainment better.

    Also, today I went to a Chinese medication practitioner (referred to as a sinshe in Indonesia) to treat my injured back and my acute cough. You've probably read about what happened to my back last week, but the cough have persisted longer though, since early Ramadhan or roughly early September. The sinshe treated my back via acupuncture while prescribed a week's worth of herbal concoctions for the cough. Let's see how they work.

    Sunday, October 26, 2008


    So, I just read this article in a newspaper the other day about microblogging. According to Wikipedia:

    Micro-blogging is a form of multimedia blogging that allows users to send brief text updates (say, 140 characters or fewer) or micromedia such as photos or audio clips and publish them, either to be viewed by anyone or by a restricted group which can be chosen by the user. These messages can be submitted by a variety of means, including text messaging, instant messaging, email, MP3 or the web.

    The content of a micro-blog differs from a traditional blog due in that it is typically more topical, smaller in aggregate file size (e.g. text, audio or video) but is the same in that people utilize it for both business and individual reasons. Many micro-blogs provide this short commentary on a person-to-person level, or share news about a company's products and services.

    It's even shorter than SMS, less than 160 characters! While microblogging can arguably be done in a regular blog, it seems to be catered by specialized sites such as Twitter, Plurk, and Jaiku. Of course, Facebook also has this function in the form of Status Update. I haven't tried any of the services yet, except for Facebook's. Even then, I'm not the regular updater of my own status. Will definitely take a look on this microblogging thing, perhaps waiting for more friends to be involved in either one of the services. You all know the network effect, right?

    For the moment, I'll probably microblog in my Facebook and regular blog. Oh, and I just injured my back during weight-training exercise earlier this evening. Hopefully, I can get some treatment this week and feel better. Ugh, it's gonna be a painful week...

    Sunday, October 19, 2008

    Can Some Violence Be Justified Under Islam?

    "But guys like me get involved in things sometimes because nobody else will... Because it's not in the rule book, or it's politically inconvenient, or it's too weird, or -- or simply because nobody else cares.

    The government, the big corporations, the money guys... they all have plenty of people willing to put it all on the line to defend them. But somebody in trouble... the kind of guy wiser minds would say should be left to solve his own problems, who does he go to?

    Lots of the other super-guys live in shadows because what they do is stuff you'd never, ever want to know about... because you'd never sleep well again. Leaving them alone to operate as they see fit give you deniability, and lets them dive in where logic would say "stay away".

    So maybe the best solution would be a kind of good samaritan law, like they have for drivers, where you can protect everybody when one person dives in to do something to help, while everybody else just drives past."
    - Spider-Man in Civil War (Amazing Spider-Man # 531)

    [This afternoon, my family and I went for halal-bihalal - an Indonesian unique tradition of mutual begging of pardon performed after Eid al-Fitr celebration - with our extended family members. I haven't seen most of them (or rather, most of them haven't seen me) for years since before I went abroad.

    What I found most interesting was the discussion I had with the clergyman during lunch after the short sermon regarding the story of Prophet Muhammad and a blind jewish beggar. You can read the story here. I asked the clergyman why the Prophet's thoughtful behavior, as told in the story, stands at a stark contrast to some of the modern Muslim organizations' actions - since they proclaim to be acting under the guidance of Holy Quran and the Prophet's example - against what are deemed as society's moral decay. Violent raids targeting night clubs and bars, for example, have occurred in various parts of the country. Such as this, recorded by the media:

    Such acts are justified, according to the clergyman, since there are no law enforcement or other forces be it political or social that are capable and willing to stop the morality decay which is happening in society today. Someone have to act on their behalf, and willing to assume the bad press, in order to protect the society's moral values. Just like what Spider-Man told the judges, "...they get involved in things sometimes because nobody else will... or simply because nobody else cares."

    What can I say? ]

    Friday, October 17, 2008

    Astrocenter Report - Part 14

    [For some reason, Astrocenter assessment on my professional aspirations is a bit off. I wonder why (d'uh).]

    Early in life, in his social and familial setting, YOGA probably learned the value of being financially independent and self-sufficient. In declaring his financial independence, he may have criticized and challenged his family's relationship to wealth and material things. Perhaps he took issue with the way he had been taught to think about and use money, and with his family's treatment of material things, in general. Since then, YOGA has viewed money merely as a means to achieve his ultimate end, true freedom and independence. To him, wealth will never be an end in and of itself. He often takes risks, and nonchalantly makes or loses large sums of money without showing any special concern for the future.

    YOGA must deal with his tendency to manipulate others into allowing him to use their work for his own financial or material profit.

    YOGA feels a need to make wealth acquired by association prosper.

    [Astrocenter seems to make the impression as if my family was money-oriented, and later on I'd became overtly risk-taking as if to distance myself from what my family had believe in. Yeah, whatever. I think financial independence, or independence in general for that matter, is important to me. Furthermore, I'd most likely differ from my family in the way of building and managing wealth. I haven't yet see myself as an entrepreneur. Plus, I'd be inclined to use finance theory in my practical life, or like Astrocenter says, "to make the wealth prosper". Ha!] 

    ~ to be continued ~

    Wednesday, October 15, 2008

    A New Paradigm on the Management of Zakah

    It's the day of the year again, October 15, the Blog Action Day. The topic for this year's event is Poverty. So, I'm writing briefly on Islam's religious duty to combat poverty and how a new paradigm of managing religious alms may do it more effectively.

    In Islam, we have the five pillars of the religion. The five pillars of Islam constitute the obligatory foundation of which Muslims must satisfy during their life in order to prove their devotion to their faith. One of the pillars is Zakah. Zakah is the fourth pillar and can be considered as a form of religious alms, mandatory for able Muslims. It is probably the only pillar that put the focus on a believer's relationship with his/her society since the funds pooled from Zakah are then distributed as a part of the state's social welfare program.

    From Islam's perspective, the poor and the needy (along with the other six eligible recipients) have the rights to a small part of the income and wealth of able Muslims. It is through Zakah, that the transfer of rights are conducted. Under mainstream interpretation, Zakah funds are distributed for consumption use by the eligible recipients. I've been looking for a ruling on alternative use of the funds but haven't found it yet. Most of the rulings deal with the method of Zakah collection, types of wealth and income subject to Zakah, and the people who are either the donors or the recipients of Zakah. Very little are discussed regarding the method of its management.

    Kiva - loans that change livesWith the advent of microfinance (especially on microcredit), it brings up a new possibilty for managing Zakah funds. Instead for consumptive use, Zakah can be managed and distributed for productive use. It is more sustainable that way, I think, and more people can get out from poverty at a faster rate. After each repayment, the Zakah can then be distributed again as a new loan ad infinitum, barring default. Profit sharing schemes (instead of interest-based return) can be devised up since the purpose of the loan is to fund productive business. The profit then can be used for operational expense incurred by the management. Examples for this type of microlending endeavor include Kiva and Microplace (although one may object due to their interest charging practice, it's a working model that is certainly can be replicated with some modification, like instituting profit sharing schemes as an alternative to interest-based return).

    Perhaps a new paradigm on the management of Zakah is needed for the Muslims to join the world in responding to the call to arms against poverty. God willing.

    Sunday, October 12, 2008

    Refreshed (?)

    It's been a week since I had my three-day long hiatus post-Eid celebration. It's been awhile since I went out of town, much less for a vacation. I think three days were not enough, it should've been at least five days. But, that's what I have and better make use of them while they're last.

    I may not be unfamiliar with the flower city, but I've never experience it like I did a week ago. It was refreshing, adventurous, romantic, and delicious all at the same time. Relaxing? not really, but it was quite an adventure, bringing back that sense of exploration dulled by the daily mundane of office work.

    So, had I have enough of it? Course not! I've gone through this week sluggishly just like the stock market did. I hope I've made use of this weekend well to compensate for the time-off deficit. And gradually set off my gear for that Excel model again.  

    Thursday, October 02, 2008

    Warm Wishes for the Joyous Eid

    Yesterday was the joyous Eid celebration, the culmination of a month-long struggle for control over personal desires, behaviour, and excess. I would like to thank all my friends, relatives, acquaintances, coworkers, and clients for their warm wishes on the festive day. The following are several of them (sent to me via SMS), which I put here in no particular order or preference.

    Yoke Hartati:
    Kulihat RAMADHAN dari kejauhan.. Kudekati lalu kusapa ia, "Hendak kemana?" Dengan lembut ia berkata, "Aku harus pergi, mungkin jauh dan lama... Tolong sampaikan pesanku untuk si MUKMIN: SYAWAL kan tiba sebentar lagi, ajaklah SABAR untuk temani hari-hari duka. Peluklah ISTIQOMAH saat dia kelelahan dalam perjalanan TAQWA. Bersandarlah pada TAWADHU saat kesombongan menyerang. Mintalah nasihat dari QUR'AN & SUNNAH disetiap masalah yang dihadapi. Sampaikan pula Salam & Trima kasihku bagi yang telah menyambutku dengan sukacita. Kelak, ku berharap ia disambut SURGA dari pintu AR-RAYAN.....
    "Minal Aidzin wal faidzin - Selamat Idul Fitri 1429H"

    Ibnu Akmal:
    Ibnu Akmal & kel mengucapkan
    Taqaballahuminna Waminkum, Minal Aidin Wal Faidzin.. Maaf Lahir Batin
    Selamat Hari Raya Idul Fitri 1429 H

    Felicia Barus:
    Dear all, selamat hari raya idul fitri, mohon maaf lahir batin. Smoga lebaran ini memberikan ketenangan & kedamaian bagi kita semua, terutama ketika portfolio kita berdarah2  -feliz & keluarga-

    Novrita Putrianti:
    Indah manusia krn akhlak
    Indah bulan krn cahaya
    Indah cinta krn kejujuran
    Indah lebaran krn kemenangan
    Minal Aidin Wal Faidzin, Selamat Hr Raya Idul Fitri.

    Putri Kurnia:
    "Maafkan kata yang tlah terucap,akan kuhapus jika kumampu" Selamat Idul Fitri. Mohon maaf lahir & batin - Maafin Putri ya.

    Irawan Tirtokencono:
    Takbir akbar berkumandang,tiba saatnya meraih kemenangan.
    Selamat hari raya iedul fitri 1429H.
    Minal aidin wal faidzin,mohon maaf lahir & batin.

    Allitha Juliet:
    Dearest family & friends, We have reach the end of Ramadhan, the Holy Month will leave us behind. May our prayers stay in twine, our soul be refresh & our mistakes will never be rewind. Happy Eid Mubarak 1429H. Minal Aidin Wal Faidzin. *Allitha Juliet*

    Riri Artakusuma:
    Indah & nikmatnya karunia Allah tiada batasnya.. Hingga kt bs diprtemukan sbgi teman. Dibln yg pnuh brkah ini izinkan Riri meminta maaf lahir & batin atas smua ksalahan. Slmt lebaran 1429 H...

    Saiyidati Hajar:
    nEW cLöthES,NèW shöÉS,nèW Hä!R,neW höPe,new DäY,NEw aTt!tüDe,New hEärT FÖR föRG!veNeSS,PleäSE äCCèPt mY apÖloG!Es FR!endS!"HäPPy !düL F!Tri" LüV U äLL. -häJäR-

    Wulandari Utami:
    Dlm setiap kata yg terucap, setiap langkah yg diambil & setiap tarikan nafas kita tdk pernah tau salah & dosa apa yg telah kt perbuat.Idul fitri waktunya melepas semua yang terganjal di hati. Selamat Hari Raya Idul Fitri 1429 H. Mohon Maaf Lahir & Batin, Wulan & Keluarga

    Riko Hafil:
    Di antara bait & kata, di antara canda & tawa, ada khilaf yg tercipta. Seuntai maaf penyejuk jiwa, smg kbersamaan tetap terjaga. Mhn Maaf Lahir & Batin -Riko & kel-

    Muhammad Rizky & Hanifah Azalia:
    Minal Aidzin Wal Faidzin, wishing you a blessing on this very day. Mohon maaf lahir dan batin ya, let's forgive & forget. -Hani, Oki, Jibran, Jehan-

    Nadiya Setiyo & Irwansyah:
    Selamat Idul Fitri 1429H, Mohon dimaafkan lahir & batin segala khilaf & salah kami.
    ^_^nadia, irwansyah & little faiqa^_^

    Achmad Mochran & Syela:
    Bunga Melati indah Berseri, Cerminan Hati Dihari Suci, Sms dikirim Pengganti Diri, tuk Mendekatkan Tali Silahturahmi, Minal Aidin Walfaizin, Mohon Maaf Lahir & Bathin.

    Yahuda Nawa Yanukrisna:
    Selamat Hari Raya Idul Fitri 1429 H. Mohon maaf jika ada kesalahan selama ini. Salam, Yahuda & keluarga.

    Dgn ikhlas & tulus mengucapkan "Minal Aidin Walfaizin Mohon Maaf Lahir&Bathin". Smoga silahturahmi selalu dihati. Selamat Hari Raya Idul Fitri 1429 H.

    Renny Tri Julianti & Tito Laksmana:
    Kslhn & kehilafan cm milik manusia semata. Hanya kebesaran hati, yg ihklas memaafkan sesama. Andai tangan tak sempat berjabat. Wajah tak bisa bertatap. Setidaknya kata2 masih dapat terungkap, lewat sms ini kami mengucapkan Selamat Hari Raya Idul Fitri Minal Aidin Walfaidzin, Mhn Maaf Lahir & Bathin - Renny, Tito & Klrga =)

    Isnaputra Iskandar:
    Selamat Hari Raya Idu Fitri 1429H. Mohon maaf lahir & batin. Isnaputra & keluarga.

    Rozy Adilasa:
    Semuanya maafin rozy/ojie ya..mungkin 11 bulan udh sengaja/ga sengaja nyakitin loe semua. Minal aidin wal faidzin mhn maaf lahir dan bathin...

    Rachmitha Anne:
    Ketika fajar Syawal merekah, hati kembali bersih.
    Kata maaf terasa hangat & suci, kebahagiaan menjelma di hati.
    Selamat Hari Raya Idul Fitri 1429 H.
    Mohon maaf lahir & bathin.
    (Rachmitha & kel)

    Even Go:
    SELAMAT HARI RAYA IDUL FITRI, mohon maaf lahir batin. Dari Even dan keluarga.

    Umar Abdullah:
    Diantara Bait & kata, canda & tawa ada khilaf yg tercipta, dengan sgala kerendahan hati kami mengucapkan minal aidin walfaidzin mohon maaf lahir bathin. =umaR

    Boby Nuryadi:
    Alhamdulillah hari raya tlah tiba.Boby memohon maaf lahir batin kepada seluruh saudara, teman, rekan.. Semoga trjaga tetap putih terus,dan yg pasti dari nol lg ya.

    Emery Sasangka & Dwi Amalia Lestari:
    Seiring takbir menggema,Kami haturkan Selamat Idul Fitri,minal aidin walfaidzin,mohon maaf Lahir&Bathin..Semoga hati & Jiwa kembali pd fitrahNya. -Emery&Lia

    Lydia Suwandi:
    Selamat hari idul fitri.have fun yoo!

    Andai tangan tak kuasa berjabat tapi kata msh dpt terungkap, tulus hati mhn maaf atas sgl salah & khilaf "Slmt Idul Fitri 1429H", mhn maaf lhr & batin. (yadi)

    Astri Lestari:
    "Minal Aidzin wal Faidzin
    Mohon Maaf Lahir & Batin"
    Dihari yg fitri ini smoga hati kita kembali suci dr segala dosa, layaknya lahir kembali tanpa dosa

    M. Muska & Lila:
    Mohon maaf lahir dan batin atas segala kesalahan selama ini..Mudah2an kita semua termasuk orang2 yang selalu berada dalam rahmat dan lindunganNYA.
    Selamat hari raya Idul Fitri 1429 H.
    Muska & Lila

    Ayutika Dewi
    Meski tak sempat berjabat tangan, dgn sgl kerendahan hati & rs tulus, mohon maaf lahir & bathin. Smoga menjadi hr yg lbh baik u/ kita di hari yg fitri ini. -aytik-

    Salahoeddin P. Harahap:
    Selamat idul fitri, mohon maaf lahir bathin dan semoga bisa bertemu dengan bulan ramadhan di tahun depan.
    -salahoeddin & keluarga-

    I crammed as much as I could, so very sorry for those of yours not included here. It lessen none of the meaning and the way which it was received. Last but not least, my wish for you all on the joyous day:

    May Allah accept your good deeds, forgive your transgressions, and ease the suffering of all people around the globe. Eid Mubarak 1429 H. -Yoga & family-

    Tuesday, September 30, 2008

    Euphoria No More - Part 2

    Today is a holiday, well, somewhat officially. The real holidays are tomorrow, the 1st and the 2nd, officially tagged as the Eid holidays. Today is just a "mandatory" leave (together with Friday, the 3rd) instituted by the government for the general public. Mandatory leave (or cuti bersama) in this case means that the leave will be applied to our yearly paid leave, with little option to get out of it (except for those working in certain industries such as F&B or tourism). I'm not trying to get out of it, by the way, as I welcome the opportunities to unwind from the daily work routines.

    Talking about work. More than a year has passed since my promotion to the Equity Research Division. The fatigue that had set in is still there, but it is now somewhat manageable. Despite the fatigue, I gained more knowledge with each passing day. Macro stuff, sector bits, and model tricks are just some of them. However, the confusion that has enveloped me since then has not subsided. In my Friendster profile, I was wondering whether capital market is meant for me. Well, after more than two years dealing directly in a day-to-day basis with the market, I've begun to consider it as a long-term career field for me, not just a temporary aspiration.

    Finance in general, is a very wide field, with the capital market to be just a subset of it. I would very much like to explore the other subsets of finance, emphasizing investment and economics. This was not suddenly came to me, though. After encountering the confusion of a new job and struggling for keeping my own standard, I've come to realization that there are still lots to learn. And unfortunately, baptism by fire can only do so much. Proper care and continuous nurturing are called for, which has been somewhat lacking as the time goes by. So, perhaps it is the time to stay foolish?

    Sunday, September 28, 2008

    Astrocenter Report - Part 13

    [Shifting to career and wealth, I suppose.]

    Material Assets and Resources:

    YOGA seeks work which will engage his passions, and which makes use of his talent for exploring the hidden side of individuals or social relationships.

    Friends could be an important factor in YOGA's financial success.

    YOGA invests a great deal of energy in his work in order to provide for his needs. He tends to watch his financial assets and resources closely, because he tends to be something of a spendthrift, and has been known to run short before the next paycheck arrives. When he is in straitened circumstances, it is usually because he squandered his money, or invested in unwisely, under the influence of more or less irrational and reckless impulses. He will have to adopt a more cautious and reasonable attitude towards money if he does not want to be broke on a regular basis.

    [For some reason, I feel this time it's a bit generic. Seeking work which will engage one's passion is ideal for a lot of people. I always think of a job where I would wake up in the morning feeling energized just thinking of the work I'd be doing that day. Not there yet, close though. As for the talent of exploring the hidden side of relationships... nah, not me.

    Friends is important to one's financial success. Well, no man is an island. Whether it correlates with a tarot reader who foresaw my entrepreneurial path is yet to be confirmed. If I'm about to meddle with a start-up business, it'll take a partner or two.

    Tends to watch financial assets closely... hmm.., I suppose the report does not consider me working in a financial service industry. There were circumstances where I ran short before my next paycheck, but I've learned better.]

    ~ to be continued ~

    Friday, September 26, 2008

    Market Riding

    I didn't remember exactly how I stumbled into MarketRiders website. My guess is that I saved the link when I browsed through Seeking Alpha's RSS newsfeed. I'll tell you more about Seeking Alpha some other time, let's get back to MarketRiders.

    The premise behind MarketRiders wasn't new. It was based on the idea of allocating your investment assets (asset allocation) by using ETF (Exchange Traded Fund) instruments completely (or almost completely). What make MarketRiders different is because not only it provides asset allocation recommendation to its users, but also the ETF instruments suitable for them based on the asset recommended. Sophisticated investors may customised their portfolio further, for a modest price (some 8 bucks a month).

    With the myriad types of ETF currently traded, it is highly possible to construct a 100% ETF-based portfolio (see here for an article). And since most ETFs are constructed based on a form of market index, an ETF-based porfolio is expected to mimic the market return (index investing), hence the name, MarketRiders. Mitch Tuchman, the founder of MarketRiders, has developed the idea further by enabling the general public to custom design their ETF portfolio in an inexpensive way, coupled with a user-friendly interface.

    I tried its free service and chose the 'Advisor' method to create my first porfolio. The site threw several questions such as age, investing time span, investing experience, and risk tolerance. Based on my answers (twenty-something years old, 10+ years until I need the money, extensive experience, and moderate risk tolerance), MarketRiders came up with a suggested portfolio like this:
    • 40% US Equities, represented by Vanguard Total Stock Market ETF (ticker: VTI).
    • 25% World (non-US) Equities, represented by Vanguard FTSE All-World ex-US ETF (ticker: VEU).
    • 12.5% Bonds, represented by 5% SPDR Lehman 1-3 Month T-Bill ETF (ticker: BIL) and 7.5% Vanguard Total Bond Market ETF (ticker: BND).
    • 10% Real Estate, represented by DJ Wilshire REIT ETF (ticker: RWR).
    • 7.5% Inflation-linked US Bonds, represented by iShares Lehman TIPS Bond ETF (ticker: TIP).
    • 5% Commodities, represented by 2.5% PowerShares DB Precious Metals ETF (ticker: DBP) and 2.5% iShares S&P Global Energy ETF (ticker: IXC).
    I intend to use the suggested portfolio as a benchmark against my own portfolios, real and virtual alike. The benchmark portfolio began its tracking on 23 September 2008. Started with US$ 9,984.29 of initial investment, the benchmark has lost US$ 320.56 year-to-date in 26 September 2008 (or 3.2% loss in just 3 days). For the same period, S&P 500 had gained 2.1%, although this is arguably a short-term observation and should not be considered for the 10+ years investment time span. We'll review it again in the next quarter at the earliest.

    Sunday, September 21, 2008

    Single vs. Married - Part 4

    [Naya, a yet another colleague of mine, forwarded this excerpt on 13 August 2008 (have you wondered how we have time to send and read all these stuff during office hour? Ha ha). This essay will be the closing post on this topic for now. Although, I believe this won't be the last post on this topic, I'll end the four-day tour for now. The journey is still long and I hope to share them with you in due time.

    This article delves further to marriage and the transformative course it can offer to one's life. It is written as if a father is writting a letter to his son, relaying his sage advice on marriage. While the original posting credited this writing to Eduardo Calasanz, a student of the Ateneo Manila University in the Philippines, an inquisitive Google search uncovers the real writer. The well-written excerpt is actually the Chapter 26 of the book Letters to My Son, written by Kent Nerburn.]

    Choosing a Soulmate - Partners and Marriage

    Advice for the married, planning to get married, single but not available, single and available, no love life.


    I have never met a man who didn't want to be loved. But I have seldom met a man who didn't fear marriage. Something about the closure seems constricting, not enabling. Marriage seems easier to understand for what it cuts out of our lives than for what it makes possible within our lives.

    When I was younger this fear immobilized me. I did not want to make a mistake. I saw my friends get married for reasons of social acceptability, or sexual fever, or just because they thought it was the logical thing to do. Then I watched, as they and their partners became embittered and petty in their dealings with each other. I looked at older couples and saw, at best, mutual toleration of each other. I imagined a lifetime of loveless nights and bickering and could not imagine subjecting myself or someone else to such a fate.

    And yet, on rare occasions, I would see old couples who somehow seemed to glow in each other's presence. They seemed really in love, not just dependent upon each other and tolerant of each other's foibles. It was an astounding sight, and it seemed impossible.

    How, I asked myself, can they have survived so many years of sameness, so much irritation at the other's habits? What keeps love alive in them, when most of us seem unable to even stay together, much less love each other?

    The central secret seems to be in choosing well. There is something to the claim of fundamental compatibility. Good people can create a bad relationship, even though they both dearly want the relationship to succeed. It is important to find someone with whom you can create a good relationship from the outset. Unfortunately, it is hard to see clearly in the early stages.

    Sexual hunger draws you to each other and colors the way you see yourselves together. It blinds you to the thousands of little things by which relationships eventually survive or fail. You need to find a way to see beyond this initial overwhelming sexual fascination. Some people choose to involve themselves sexually and ride out the most heated period of sexual attraction in order to see what is on the other side. This can work, but it can also leave a trail of wounded hearts. Others deny the sexual side altogether in an attempt to get to know each other apart from their sexuality. But they cannot see clearly, because the presence of unfulfilled sexual desire looms so large that it keeps them from having any normal perception of what life would be like together.

    The truly lucky people are the ones who manage to become long-time friends before they realize they are attracted to each other. They get to know each other's laughs, passions, sadness, and fears. They see each other at their worst and at their best. They share time together before they get swept into the entangling intimacy of their sexuality.

    This is the ideal, but not often possible. If you fall under the spell of your sexual attraction immediately, you need to look beyond it for other keys to compatibility.

    One of these is laughter. Laughter tells you how much you will enjoy each other's company over the long term. If your laughter together is good and healthy, and not at the expense of others, then you have a healthy relationship to the world. Laughter is the child of surprise. If you can make each other laugh, you can always surprise each other. And if you can always surprise each other, you can always keep the world around you new. Beware of a relationship in which there is no laughter. Even the most intimate relationships based only on seriousness have a tendency to turn sour. Over time, sharing a common serious viewpoint on the world tends to turn you against those who do not share the same viewpoint, and your relationship can become based on being critical together.

    After laughter, look for a partner who deals with the world in a way you respect. When two people first get together, they tend to see their relationship as existing only in the space between the two of them. They find each other endlessly fascinating, and the overwhelming power of the emotions they are sharing obscures the outside world. As the relationship ages and grows, the outside world becomes important again. If your partner treats people or circumstances in a way you can't accept, you will inevitably come to grief. Look at the way she cares for others and deals with the daily affairs of life. If that makes you love her more, your love will grow. If it does not, be careful. If you do not respect the way you each deal with the world around you, eventually the two of you will not respect each other.

    Look also at how your partner confronts the mysteries of life. We live on the cusp of poetry and practicality, and the real life of the heart resides in the poetic. If one of you is deeply affected by the mystery of the unseen in life and relationships, while the other is drawn only to the literal and the practical, you must take care that the distance doesn't become an unbridgeable gap that leaves you each feeling isolated and misunderstood.

    There are many other keys, but you must find them by yourself. We all have unchangeable parts of our hearts that we will not betray and private commitments to a vision of life that we will not deny. If you fall in love with someone who cannot nourish those inviolable parts of you, or if you cannot nourish them in her, you will find yourselves growing further apart until you live in separate worlds where you share the business of life, but never touch each other where the heart lives and dreams. From there it is only a small leap to the cataloging of petty hurts and daily failures that leaves so many couples bitter and unsatisfied with their mates.

    So choose carefully and well. If you do, you will have chosen a partner with whom you can grow, and then the real miracle of marriage can take place in your hearts. I pick my words carefully when I speak of a miracle. But I think it is not too strong a word. There is a miracle in marriage. It is called transformation. Transformation is one of the most common events of nature. The seed becomes the flower. The cocoon becomes the butterfly. Winter becomes spring and love becomes a child. We never question these, because we see them around us every day. To us they are not miracles, though if we did not know them they would be impossible to believe. Marriage is a transformation we choose to make.

    Our love is planted like a seed, and in time it begins to flower. We cannot know the flower that will blossom, but we can be sure that a bloom will come. If you have chosen carefully and wisely, the bloom will be good. If you have chosen poorly or for the wrong reason, the bloom will be flawed. We are quite willing to accept the reality of negative transformation in a marriage. It was negative transformation that always had me terrified of the bitter marriages that I feared when I was younger.

    It never occurred to me to question the dark miracle that transformed love into harshness and bitterness. Yet I was unable to accept the possibility that the first heat of love could be transformed into something positive that was actually deeper and more meaningful than the heat of fresh passion. All I could believe in was the power of this passion and the fear that when it cooled I would be left with something lesser and bitter. But there is positive transformation as well. Like negative transformation, it results from a slow accretion of little things. But instead of death by a thousand blows, it is growth by a thousand touches of love. Two histories intermingle. Two separate beings, two separate presence, two separate consciousnesses come together and share a view of life that passes before them. They remain separate, but they also become one.

    There is an expansion of awareness, not a closure and a constriction, as I had once feared. This is not to say that there is not tension and there are not traps. Tension and traps are part of every choice of life, from celibate to monogamous to having multiple lovers. Each choice contains within it the lingering doubt that the road not taken somehow more fruitful and exciting, and each becomes dulled to the richness that it alone contains.

    But only marriage allows life to deepen and expand and be leavened by the knowledge that two have chosen, against all odds, to become one. Those who live together without marriage can know the pleasure of shared company, but there is a specific gravity in the marriage commitment that deepens that experience into something richer and more complex. So do not fear marriage, just as you should not rush into it for the wrong reasons. It is an act of faith and it contains within it the power of transformation.

    If you believe in your heart that you have found someone with whom you are able to grow, if you have sufficient faith that you can resist the endless attraction of the road not taken and the partner not chosen, if you have the strength of heart to embrace the cycles and seasons that your love will experience, then you may be ready to seek the miracle that marriage offers. If not, then wait. The easy grace of a marriage well made is worth your patience. When the time comes, a thousand flowers will bloom... endlessly.

    [It is beautiful, I know. Nerburn write it so eloquently. He points to the overarching theme of transformation in his writing. He immediately grabs the readers' attention by acknowledging public fears of marital commitment. Although he soon dispel that perception by arguing how choosing well can make for a successful relationship based on fundamental compatibility; he also constantly caution on the potential dangers that a wrong choice can make.

    While he admits on the difficulty of making the right choice, three keys are readily observable for a person to ascertain the quality of his relationship. First, good and healthy laughter, for it is 'the child of surprise,' indicating long-lasting freshness to a relationship. Second, respectful outside interaction; since maturing relationship shifts external obscurity to external awareness, creating a sense of respect (or lack of it) between the two individuals. Third, compatible internal sensitivity, for different people may 'confront the mysteries of life' differently and the resulting incompatibility may bring gaping distance in the relationship. Other keys differ between couples, but all revolve in the ability to nourish that 'unchangeable parts of one's hearts that one will not betray and private commitments to a vision of life that one will not deny' (is it one's value and ambition?).

    Nerburn use the word 'miracle' in describing the resulting effect of the transformation that marriage can bring; when 'two separate consciousnesses come together and share a view of life that passes before them.' While marriage should not be feared, it also should not be rushed into (again, for the wrong reasons). The miracle is reserved for those who 'have sufficient faith on one's ability to resist the endless attraction of the road not taken and the partner not chosen' (a difficult feat, yes, but not an impossible one).

    So, how's the four-day tour add to our understanding of the topic? Let's recap a bit. Solitude is a period to be cherished. Enjoy it while it last and only let it go for the RIGHT REASONS. There is higher purpose(s) in life other than marriage. Marriage is only one mean to achieve that. And for those who are ready for marriage, choose your spouse well. Observe the keys for making relationship long-lasting before moving to the next level. And when you decide to get married, value equality in your marriage and actualize it in your family life.

    I hope my friend read these posts, and perhaps reconsider his view on marriage, especially after reading Nerburn's writing. Unconditional love do exist, it depend on the choices we made. As for me? well, marriage may no longer be a distant concept. However, I'll need to take the time in developing my newly-build relationship and then decide when progression to the next level is warranted.]