Kaizen and Other Thoughts

Kaizen is basically the act of doing one small thing everyday, ideally at the same time everyday, eventually building up to new habits for change and success. Writing should be started like that, I guess. Just write everyday; short things, meaningless things, deep thinking things, and just anything that one needs to write.

The Japanese always have the coolest words.

I’d like to be able to help medical students become more successful. Students at any level, ideally, but most likely those who are still in the early years. Why start board prep when you graduate, when you can feel better prepared as a good medical school graduate? I feel it’s not specifically the academic load that is the root problem of students. I think it’s the things outside the classroom, specifically the habits that they develop that actually hinder their abilities and capabilities in the classroom and in the hospital. I think helping med students with learning and metalearning habits, mindfulness, and burnout prevention are going to be very important things to look into when trying to help medical students.

I’m taking a bold step and investing a relatively large amount of money in cryptocurrency. I do believe this will be the future of finance and information. I actually already feel left behind. And from experience, when I get that feeling, I’m right.


Alien To Irreverence

One of the things I’m sure about my identity is I am not going to make any of my friends’ top 10 lists of people who are A.) funny; and B) silly. Conversely, you could probably etch #seriousperson on my tombstone and no one would think it would be vandalism nor far off. I believe this is a result of both nature and nurture. I won’t get into how personality develops, because I’d have to dig up my dusty MA Counseling Psych notes. It would suffice to say that my dad was a very serious person and I take after him physically and psychologically, to some extent. And given that he was of the old school parenting school, this GenXer is a product of a simpler time. I grew up loved, provided for (never spoiled), and always conscious that the slightest transgression would mean a meeting of the gluteal region with a flexible but not squishy object.

I think a lot of people of my age were brought up like that, or similar. Which probably explains the fact that I personally don’t have any friends my age who are stand-up comedians. Most stand-up comedians locally, that I know of, are yougner than me. There are a few older ones, maybe my age or older, but they’re probably the exception that proves the rule. Not that growing up disciplined means you can’t be funny. I know a lot of funny people. It comes to them naturally. But then, becoming a licensed professional like a doctor, lawyer, or engineer also came naturally to them, too. If being a stand-up comedian was actually a viable means of making a living back then here in the Philippines, I’m sure they’d be really rich right now.

I wouldn’t call my Netflix habits anywhere near bingeing, but it’s all the “TV” I watch these days. An hour-long comedy special here and there, and I’m good to go. I’ve always loved stand-up. I make no secrets about fantasizing being a stand-up comic. But I’ve come to realize that the one hurdle that I’m going to face with becoming a stand-up comic is irreverence. Not ego or narcissisim, as a retired stand-up comic friend of mine once told me. Right now, though I wil laugh out loud at a lot of jokes that would be considered racist, sexist, and downright mean in any other context outside of the stand-up comedy stage, I can’t imagine writing stuff like that. I don’t even know if I have enough of an “audience” within my circle of friends or network of contacts that I can try that stuff out on.

I’m basically an alien to irreverence. The field of the silly and counter-culture to proper and orderly might as well be another country or planet to me. I’m sure those are places nice to visit once in a while, or even regularly, but I can’t yet figure out if I’d like to get a green card to that place. And then what becomes of my stand-up comic dreams now? I definitely can’t hack what passes for comedy here in the Philippines. I mean I get it, maybe just because I’m a middle class Filipino, but it just doesn’t suit my taste and most of it is just not that funny to me.

I need to read and watch more, I guess. Seinfeld wasn’t all about bold and bald humor. I’m sure there’s a path to writing and being more funny that doesn’t have to tread on a lot of toes. Ok, maybe some.

I need to write more. I’m mentally going over this and the past few posts in my head, and damn if this is still the hundreds of garbage that will lead to the golden lines writers always strive for.

The 2AM Mind Dump

I’ve just finally finished my last grading sheet for the ending school year. Dealing with all the yearend requirements on the backend of teaching is always more stressful than the frontend stuff. We’re actually trained to teach. We’re not exactly prepared, competent, or excited by the prospect of having to face a class list, a pile of assignments to grade, and 30-plus column spreadsheets. The best part about this is that the whole cycle begins again in just a little over a month’s time. There will be very little break time as one has to start rewriting, revamping, and reviewing for the next cycle of work.

I guess, being a teacher, one has to be thankful that the work isn’t composed of 40-hour weeks. But summer breaks aren’t really about vacationing when you’re a teacher. It’s more of a short respite from the teacher’s desk, immediately followed by preparing for the next school year.

Lesson learned: don’t post an oppositional or even slightly differing comment on someone’s semi-political post at 2am in the morning. Especially when said person is also likely still up and stressed out. Doesn’t matter if they’re normally reasonable and intelligent and well-mannered during the day. At 2 AM, people don’t take kindly to opposing views when they’re ranting, moreso in this climate.

I’m thinking of trying to finally finish my MA thesis. I have the topic, I have some of the lit, I probably can get my subjects for data. One wonders if the extra letters after my name are worth it.

I’m looking at it like maybe this should be part of my creative process. When one feels that they consume too much, the drive to create something becomes more salient. Whether it’s a seldom-updated blog, a dissertation of some level, or something that can be shared for others to appreciate, there has to be something to balance out that which we take from those who share and share freely.

This is obviously going to come out after 2 AM, and not on the day that I started this post. But I’m not going to kick myself for keeping this in the draft folder for so long. Life is harsh enough without self-chastisement over unpublished blog posts.

Art De Vany, on Tim Ferriss’ latest podcast, mentions how the most significant changes don’t come from small incremental changes but from consequential shifts that force systems to adapt or die off. He definitely takes a Darwinian stand on many things, from aging science to economics. It was a difficult podcast to follow and requires a second go-around to fully grasp some ideas. Definitely can cull some implementable ideas there. Yes, a lot of the science out there is still in the infancy of development and not thoroughly explained yet, but we sometimes really have to take an experimental approach to these things, lest we get left behind or overtaken by time and our circumstance. I for one definitely look forward to having a long healthspan well into a century.




Living in The Matrix

I recently shared how my subconscious had actually formed a (probably) earth-shaking theory that would’ve explained so many things we take for granted these days, like how we finally find a parking slot when we really, REALLY need to find the nearest mall bathroom ASAP, but that I had neglected to write it down, and the idea melted back into the sleep-deprived ether of my brain. Well, I think I’ve retrieved part of it as I read the writing prompt for our first round of TBR 3.0.

matrix code

Outside of This Reality

I’ve always hated the adage, “Those that can’t do, teach.” As a teacher of various types of students for more than one and a half decades, I believe that I’ve proven and have seen the evidence that you can’t teach if you can’t do, and that among the best doers are those who can teach as well. It doesn’t necessarily follow that if you’re the best at what you do that you will be good at teaching as well. The transmission of knowledge to people who are not at your level of training or experience is a wholly different skill set.

Ever since I was in high school, I’ve always felt that I had a knack for teaching. I taught during Student-Teacher days every year back in high school, and not just for one class. In medical school, as early as first year, I knew I wanted to some day be in front of a class at our lecture hall giving lectures about my then still-unknown specialty. I believe that in the multiverses from ideas that I’ve birthed, more than a fair number of them have me as a teacher. There really is just something about how an unenlightened, unknowing mind suddenly reveals a spark of connection, a revelation of truth, or an understanding of reality through that look of clarity in their eyes. Even in a sea of blank faces, still confused, oft disinterested, one a-ha look can be worth all the effort.

Architect of Another


Again, I look back to high school to see where my other selves are right now.

For a science high school, we had a really crappy Computer Science subject. It was really still in the very early days of the Information Age, and the WWW was still something that was confined to the military, scientists, early pioneer hackers, and the imaginations of Hollywood writers. I guess they couldn’t be blamed for assigning a part-time teacher to teach a subject that was given less than three hours a week. We were supposed to learn Pascal, whose basics I’d already learned by myself after I got bored with BASIC. Our class lessons and objectives were really so basic the time, I ended up helping half my classmates finish the final requirement because I’d already finished my own a quarter into the year.

But CS wasn’t the subject I would be teaching in Student-Teacher Days. I don’t think they even tasked a student-teacher for CS. I was always teaching Physics. Physics was the easiest science subject for me. Nothing to memorize but formulas, and all the problems were basically math problems. The concepts needed less memorizing and more understanding, and my brain didn’t have a hard time with putting things together in Physics. Granted it was simple Newtonian stuff, and we barely touched quantum back then, but I enjoyed Physics a lot in high school, and I guess that showed to my teacher.

Somewhere out there, I’m rewriting the world.

I’m speaking at large conferences describing how I’m trying to figure out gravitons or dark matter or near-light propulsion. Or I’m working on an all-Filipino all-star physicist team finally cracking cheap superconductivity or fusion power.  Or finally helped to engineer affordable Filipino electric cars. My buddy Elon just said Amber wants to see Kitty and Lily for dinner tonight. We’ll talk space mining later.

Or more likely, as I had actually enrolled in CS in UPD before shifting tracks to Med, it’s Zuck calling me up to check if it was really me who sent a friend request. As I’m more a software than a hardware guy, I’d probably be riding a Google Shuttle somewhere on my way to work. Or probably just on some beach somewhere, enjoying the fruits of my latest must-have app. I think I would definitely have picked up on the rise of mobile back then. I mean, it’s a computer in your pocket! Literally. Maybe I wouldn’t have seen Flappy Bird or Angry Birds coming, but I’d most likely be in front of the mobile bandwagon before it began rolling.

Writing, Coding, and Getting Lost

As I try to wrap this up, I look at the struggles that I have with trying to re-establish my writing chops. I realize that I consume far too much and create too little. I really do see myself as a writer now as it is the only way for me to be able to find myself putting these words one after another. And in some other multiverse from idea again, I’m likely more prolific as a writer than healer. And in some ways, my computer geek self that won out in the other dimensions over the doctor-counselor is a writer as well. Writing code is, well, still writing. The visions and the imagery are not formed within our electrochemical brains but within the digital networks of phones and tablets, or housed somewhere on a server cloud. But each line means something, and results in something that forms part of a new thing. Intangible, illegible, but existent and as real as word penned on paper with ink.

So maybe my alternate dimension lives are really just manifestations of a creative spark that yearns to put something down and births something new, whether out in the world or within another’s mind. Like teaching, but without the lecture. And with all these things that I wish I was pursuing, trying now to rediscover, or just feebly trying to make something with, I wonder how far astray I have wandered and whether I will find my way to a path beside that original one.

In the meantime, I have to really find time to code before this idea for a great app slips away again.

Multiverse from Ideas

There is a popular sci-fi and comic book meme that posits that there are an infinite number of alternate realities that exist in other dimensions that are results of all the what-ifs in our lives and in the world. Like, what if I hadn’t taken medicine and went on to study computer science instead? Maybe that version of me would be in that dimension’s Googel or Faceblog. Or if I had gone on to finish Ophthalmology instead of going into TCM Acupuncture, would I have done Plastics or Cornea? Bookstore shelves and comic book cartons are filled with pages of stories about alternate realities, where for all we know, our alternate facts are just facts, and Trump really did have a yuuuge crowd at his inauguration. Or maybe that was really President H.R. Clinton…

One morning, I had just gone downstairs and started the usual routine of making hard-boiled eggs for breakfast and boiling water for some green tea and coffee for later when I had this thought that came to me. At the time, I remember thinking, there’s no solid proof of that connection, BUT it was a perfectly logical thought and why hadn’t anyone else thought of it that way.

I speak vaguely because I lost it. I lost that immensely important (or so I feel it is) idea. It was truly an A-HA! moment that I was thinking, “I should write about that on the blog next!” But the morning routine had to be finished, a diaper needed changing, and the flow of the day just got in the way. By the time, I remembered I had something to write about, it was gone.

That earth-shaking thought, that if other people had heard it or read it, and if smarter or wiser people than me could work it through their brain, could possibly have brought peace to the world. Or so I imagine. It was gone. And I can’t for the life of me bring it back.

I kick myself for not writing it down. Me, the pen-hoarder. Me, the one with notebooks of various sorts from all over. Me, the one who feels his EDC bag has to have at least one catch-all notebook, who carries a thin Muji notebook and a n impractically pricey mini-Pilot pen in his wallet.

Is it truly gone forever, the thought that might start a revolution in the world? I hope not.

But this loss, temporary I hope, also got me to think about another possibility for the formation of other dimensions and realities. What if they’re formed not from the choices we did not make, but from the formed ideas in our head? If we are able to supposedly attract things, energy, and circumstance to us just by thinking and feeling something congruent with what we desire, would it be too far a stretch to think that those pictures of ourselves that we don’t hold longer in our conscious and subconscious mind become part of an ether, eventually travels through an Einstein-Rosen bridge, and becomes part of that energy that starts a new Big Bang somewhere?

I’d like to think that can happen. I’d like to believe that what I want to really manifest in my life by my thoughts is the start of a seed that eventually grows into a universe where I am what I think I am or can be. I’d like to hope that out there some universe now has my brilliant idea, and the elder councils of Terra realize that it was so brilliant, I deserved a statue. And a lifetime supply of dark chocolate.

But really, always have that EDC pen and catch-all notebook on you at all times for those Earth-1 Nobel-laureate worthy ideas that strike out of the blue.


10 Problems That Medical Students Face in First Year

  1. Lack of family and friends time.
  2. Lack of sleep.
  3. Lack of time to exercise
  4. Bad diet
  5. Bad posture
  6. Potential burnout
  7. Poor study habits
  8. Lack of knowledge hooks for material
  9. Lack of guidance
  10. Poor (or lack of) close relationships/friends.

10 Unusual Hypothetical Uses for Chocolate

  1. Engagement ring. Diamonds and chocolates will make your lady happy. Don’t take too long to propose, though. Plus, you can just pay for the stone setting later.
  2. Fake body fluids. Fake stool is probably overdone.
  3. Medicine pills. Why can’t they just make pills way better for children?
  4. Temperature gauge. A specific mix should show signs of melting at a specific temperature.
  5. Timer. Related to #4, they can probably calibrate how long it will take for a block of yay size chocolate to melt into a messy pool of chocolate sauce.
  6. Pest traps. Definitely keep away from children.
  7. Tea. My friend just told me to steep some cacao nibs in hot water. This I will try soon.
  8. Ice cubes. I’ve inadvertently left cartons of chocolate milk inside the freezer before, but I’ve never thought of doing this on purpose. Maybe for cold coffees and liquors?
  9. Cooking bowls. Make a mole, find a way to harden it, and use it to cook something up.
  10. Face pack. Maybe something with really high cocoa butter content. Apply, let sit, then lick or eat away. Do it together as a couple for some unusual… uhmmm… bonding time.


When You Need More Books

I’ve been seeing James Altucher all over my feeds since some time ago, but I’ve never really looked into what he does. Mostly, I read the stuff he writes and links to through LinkedIn. His writing style feels like a lot of freestyle and informal structure. He can be very wordy, so it takes some getting used to.

I finally subscribed to his newsletter, and so far it’s all about passive income streams. Now who wouldn’t want that? Might end up buying his introductory product. You know what else most people would want? BOOKS! If you’re feeling that your reading habit needs a massive kick in the behind, I suggest you join this giveaway. It’s not open to a few countries, but readers of this blog should be a-ok. Right, fellow Pinoy? 🙂