Friday, October 8, 2010

Loo seat

We always look for the best place to brainstorm but little did we know that it is our friendly loo seat that is sitting idly in our home and perhaps serving us tirelessly; that fills this very need.

Since I discover that I am creative in some way, it is when I am on loo that my head is pumped with outrageous thoughts and pesky ideas. It is when I do my business that my aha moments take place.

Realizing the loo’s importance, I’ve been in awe with her patience and just dispositions. I do not hesitate to reveal myself while on it. It could be the stillness of the environment, the serenity I feel inside her – like the moment inside the mother’s womb, where one can think of anything and everything without being judged.

Surprisingly, a study by the National Express in UK seemed to affirm this observation. Two-thirds of those 500 surveyed said that while on loo seat, they thought of crazy (they call it out-of-the-box) ideas like having a product launch for a harness by letting 500 people jump off the top of Petronas, using the newspaper as tissue alternative in the name of saving Mother Earth or thinking of some connections of 100 and one cutting-edge ideas such as – yeah, this article.

Though the purpose of the study seemed to be a bit suspicious, as the result was used at the launch of luxury loo in National Express coaches, the point, however, is still worthwhile – at least for someone who is most productive while ditching her **** – like me.

Lessons from Plants vs Zombies

It’s my free time and it’s Plants vs. Zombies (PnV) time!

Waiting for the laundry? Play PnV! Could not sleep at night? Tire yourself in PnV! Waiting for the food to be served? Feed zombies with veggies in PnV!

This seems to be the daily order at home as most of us (7 – 6 adults and one child - out of 11 housemates) are hooked by the game. Whether it’s on iPad, iPhone or PC, you will see seven of us fixed to our devices busy defending our virtual homes from the mob of brain-hungry zombies. Our dearest allies? The zombie-zapping plants!

Our home is considered a community of Plants vs. Zombies enthusiasts who find the game a good way to de-stress and yeah, bond together. Over breakfast or dinner, we share tips and tricks on what plants to use on particular zombies. Oddly enough, the zombie talk would spice up our appetite! Watching a fellow gamer on a defensive stance invites another gamer to help, lest the zombies eat his or her brains (PnV term of losing the game).

But more than the game’s entertainment value, I see PnV parallel to an education platform that instils us the principles of strategy, creativity and perseverance. It’s not a mere means to kill time but more than a dollar worth of lessons in career and life.

Below are some eureka thoughts on Plants vs. Zombies one Saturday afternoon after I failed to defend my virtual home four times:

  1. Know your enemies
    From Sun Tzu to Pop Cap, this passage holds true. It is when we know our enemies that we know best how to win the game.

  2. Know your enemies’ weaknesses
    Similar with the above, it is when we know our enemies’ weaknesses that we can position ourselves better. It is when we know their pain points that we set the right weapon and win over them.

  3. Think before you act
    Fascinating, this passage is not only applicable to our dealings with our family and loved ones. It also applies to our careers, business decisions and games of strategy such as PnV.

  4. Never give up
    After the zombies ate my brains for four consecutive times on the roof of my virtual house one Saturday afternoon, I told myself not to give up. I took a rest for a while and prepared myself for the next battle. It was quite difficult for me to accept defeat but the game reminded me of not losing perspective.

  5. Overcome the challenge and win over
    This is what I had in mind when I returned in the game. Not only that I was more relaxed to face the challenge head on, I had planned my strategy well that eventually led to the zombies’ defeat. Nyahaha.

  6. Prepare for the worst
    Life in reality is not always sunny and so is life in PnV. It is good to be always on the winning side, however, if some stroke of misfortune happen, we must be ready as well.

  7. If defeat is inevitable, let it be. But know what to do in the next encounter.
    This is so true even in real life. If we stumble upon a rock in our journey home and it is inevitable that we stop for a while, so be it. There is no harm in putting up with some dose of disappointment from time to time. Even Michael Jordan missed thousands of shot attempts before he became the basketball legend. It is the attitude to continue and finish the battle with triumph that matters in the end.

  8. They are just zombies. They stand no better than you.
    So are petty co-workers. What should we do then? Shrug them off.

  9. Work hard but play harder
    I learned this catch-phrase from my previous company who pushes its people to excel but instils them the value of enjoying work despite of stress and busy schedules. How they do it? They have team-building programmes to let their employees loosen up a bit in an environment where they can play but meet business objectives. These programmes boost productivity and make employees feel good about the company.

    My view on PnV is the same. Fighting against zombies can be quite tedious. And rewarding me after a tiring battle is but necessary. How? A good night sleep, a shopping spree and a blog entry.

  10. Take good care of the things you hold dear
    In PnV, I hold my virtual home so dear, thus I fight hard to keep it safe and secured from the brain-hungry zombies.

    In real life, I value my spouse, family and career most, thus not letting anything mess up with them. I hold them so dearly as they define the way I live .

Gassing of Dogs

It is disturbing to see how some local government units in the Philippines address the issue of street order by summary executing stray dogs via the tambucho or gassing method.

For the benefit of non-Filipinos, tambucho is a colloquial term for car exhausts, which sadly, are used currently for gassing the poor man’s best friend.

In Kidapawan City, Cagayan de Oro City and Misamis Oriental in Southern Philippines*, the local government units created groups to specifically oversee the clearing of streets through caging of stray dogs and keeping them in 5 days until owners claim for them. If no owners show up, the poor dogs (usually in batch of 8) are to be placed in an enclosed steel compartment; a tambucho will be inserted to it, run the car engine and suffocate them. It will take 7 to 8 minutes to finish the business*.

For some cash-strapped local government units, this is the most cost-effective way to meet their objective - that is to make sure that streets are clean and orderly.

But far more than addressing the issue and providing a solution (for the sake of "taking action"), it is a question of the means rather than the end. Budget has always been a concern. But is it the case? Or are our local government units just lazy to think through and come up with a long-term solution for this issue – as they have always been for a number of issues that beset our country?

Dogs are not humans, but they deserve to be treated well. They may seem to clutter our streets, but clearing up this mess can be done in a number of creative ways.

Marikina’s APCO **

Marikina City created the Animal Protection and Council Office (APCO) to look after stray dogs and keep them off streets by penalizing their owners thru fines and community service.

If a dog is gone astray, APCO will take the owner into account. If a dog causes damage to another person’s property, the owner will answer for it. If a dog is found to have a communicable disease, APCO will confiscate it. APCO also prohibits the slaughter of dogs, sale and transport of dog meat in the city.

Marikina City and APCO show how the issue of street order via eradication of stray dogs can be tackled positively and creatively. By making the dog owners accountable for the safekeeping of their pets, APCO is able to meet its objective while the community shares the responsibility, which should be the case. It may seem to be more complicated (for the sluggish), but it proves to be a win-win situation in the long run.

This also reminds us to care for others-be it an animal or a human being.

*  Data are from Mindanao Examiner
** Data are from Marikina APCO