Saturday, June 30, 2007

The Illusion of Love

Both my wife and I have been movie buffs since we were young. It started that way probably because that’s the only decent entertainment in town back then. I remember when we were in Muar, which boasted 5 cinemas, sometimes we ran out of Chinese movies to watch and had to settle for Malay movies (the Badul genre was popular then).

Actually, for me it started way back when I was attending high school in Singapore. My record was watching three movies in a day, but I did it only once. I remember one of them was Jeremiah Johnson by Robert Redford, but could not recall the other two.

When we moved to the States, we bought a monthly pass from BlockBuster, which allowed us to rent a movie at any one time. The new movies on rental are only made available every Tuesday. So in no time our rental caught up with the current releases and we had to settle for older movies. Some of my movie choices had incurred my wife’s displeasure for they were either too macabre or downright silly for her taste. From then on I always leave the movie selection to her. The most I would do if by chance the reverse happens is just not to watch the movie, but I must admit those times are rare indeed.

The movie watching took a back seat when we were settling in to our new home earlier in April. And since the Blockbuster monthly movie pass is pegged to the local outlet, we had to cancel it with the intention of opening a new one at the new outlet near our new home. We did not have time for that until now and thus began our new phase of movie viewing.

We went out to WalMart (or was it Target?) to buy a new DVD player (for $35/=). The old one we first bought with sound-surround features more than three years ago had quitted on us some time back and we had been relying on a portable DVD that was a gift from my brother-in-law.

The new DVD player set up, plugged in to the TV’s speakers, we settled back into the sofa and watched The Illusionist starring Edward Norton and Jessica Biel. Some of the illusion acts are entertaining but even more unbelievable than David Copperfield’s, nothing that the movie was set well before the last century where camera tricks were at best at their infancy stage, especially those on bringing back those from the dead to interact with the living.

But this is really a love story, one that has a happy ending. The twist at the end, at how the couple, who were childhood lovers but were kept apart because of the proverbial caste difference (what else but between a commoner and a royalty), plotted their reunion was easily the highlight of the movie, thanks to the guy’s magical prowess. All in all it has a high entertainment value, but low on any lesson to take home with.

Friday, June 29, 2007

A Computer Glitch and Maintenance Mentality

My faithful desktop computer, which has served me well way before I started blogging, has finally succumbed to the normal wear and tear sustained by any gadget (at least that's what I hope). This happened last Sunday when the computer alternated between trying to boot up and shutting down, the indicator light coming on and off.

I won't say the signs were not there but I thought those signs were just an aberration. I am referring to the times when the computer just emitted a continuous whirring sound, much like the harddisk was frantically trying to stay awake. But it had never failed to reboot, the usual remedy for a non-fuctioning computer such as a hung screen. Little did I know that these "hiccups" are percursors to the death knell that will invariably ensue.

Well I could be stretching the truth a bit with the death knell thing since the computer still has some semblance of activity, albeit functionally "dead" like a comatose patient. My colleague concurred with my diagnosis (afterall I have seen my fair share of computers in my lifetime and in fact they are a big part of my work routine, though I can say the same things about cars but that does not mean that I can double as a car mechanic) that it could be just a problem with the power pack. He advised me to get hands-on with the repair by first removing the power pack unit and remembering all the connections, and bringing it to the shop to get the same if not at least a compatible unit.

So that's the task at hand for me and for that I've enlisted the help of WT to mechanically dismember the computer to get to the power pack (probably because he majors in mechanical engineering at UF). Until then, I will have to make do with the old laptop from WT's school days in Singapore, which, except for the missing B key and floppy disk cover, is still giving us good Internet access. Who would have thought that this old Acer Travelmate 528TE is actually outliving the Compaq Presario S6010V?

The thought of getting a new desktop did enter our discussion of what to do but we felt it's prudent to defer that until we are sure that the power pack is not the problem and heaven forbid, we may have to bring it to a computer technician to fix the problem, if at all it can be fixed, simply because of the high cost of maintenance service here.

Because of the computer breakdown, I will have to make do without another faithful companion to my blog, my wife's flower image. Let's hope this is only a stop-gap measure but the moral of the story is really the need for a maintenance mentality. Let's all resolve henceforth to pay heed to the maintenance needs of our life and environment.

[Update: After some tinkling involving unplugging all the connections of the power pack, cleaning up the dust that has settled on the wires (my brother has earlier done a good job of dust removal, with half face mask and all), and putting the connections back (there are 8 connections but 3 are unused), and Presto!, the power came back on and stayed, hopefully long enough for this update, and for the insertion of my wife's flower image.]

Saturday, June 23, 2007

My Ongoing Buddhist Journey

I have been a free thinker since I was capable of independent thinking. Until recently, the thought of embracing a particular religion did not enter my consciousness, but I do know, and indeed subscribe to, the imperative of morality, of human decency.

My understanding of religions, their origin, their core beliefs, and their ways have been gleaned from what I see and read on a daily basis, much like experiencing other aspects of life like going in and out of a revolving door, never stopping long enough to delve deeper into their inner teachings beyond the outward manifestations of their respective followers and adherents.

I see churches, temples, and mosques, and now synagogues since I moved to US. I know of Sunday services and Friday prayers but have never participated in one as I’m not one of them. In terms of frequency, it’s the Buddhist temple that I’ve entered the most and hence, most familiar with, including the ceremonies conducted therein. However, none of these “visits” is of my own volition. Instead, they are a consequence of accompaniment, my wife that is.

As is the case for most Chinese families in small towns where Buddhist and Chinese cultural practices, notably ancestor worship, are well-mixed, my wife took to Buddhism at a young age, though ostensibly for observing the ritualistic roles of praying and paying homage. But we are both tuned in to the Buddhist precepts of compassion and giving, more so as a result of our moral upbringing rather than actualizing the Buddhist canons of doing the virtuous and seeing beyond self.

When I went into engineering after high school, the primacy of the scientific way that reveres empiricism and objectivity dominated my thinking process, leaving no room, or shall we say, no motivation, for faith-based beliefs. My favorite reads were fiction and non-fiction works on the material world where happiness of the self is central, eschewing discourses on religions that seemed superfluous then.

The only admission that I granted to the higher beings may have been some utterances made while walking in the deep of the night, along a deserted road, greeted by dancing greenish beads accompanied by occasional howling from their owners (these would be the dogs and small town legends have it that dogs howl when they see denizens of the other world). As you can see, even a rational-thinking dude like me was wont to invoking the divine for reassurance and protection against the wandering spirits, just in case. And yes, those would be the midnight trips I made to my future wife's home. Typically I would take an evening train from KL, and disembark at Paloh around 2am, and would then walk alone to her house, a 15-minute brisk walk, the briskness by force of circumstances if you know what I mean.

It was in the last couple of years that I started sitting in on dharma talks while ferrying my wife to attend such occasions. And I started developing an interest in reading on Buddhism: free Buddhist texts on display during the above occasions, Buddhist websites as well as Buddhism-based articles via email. It’s like a whole world of Buddhism-related information superhighway just opens up and I’m happily zooming along, making frequent stops along the way to savor the offerings.

My library loans started to veer toward the Buddhism genre: books by the Dalai Lama, Matthieu Ricard and other western authors, giving me an opportunity to compare notes with those writings by Chinese masters such as the Venerables Chin Kung, Tsing Yun and Shen Yen.

At the same time, I have also started translating some of the Chinese Buddhist writings into English and feature them on my blogs. Concurrently, I’m also finding that I’m better able to control my temper and become patient, not as easily irked as before should things not go as I expected. It could be a combination of me becoming mellow with age or the nuggets of Buddhist wisdom gradually seeping into my sub-conscious. Either way I find that I’m better able to focus on the task at hand, mindful of the here and now.

Practically, I’m already a Buddhist practitioner, both in thought and in action. What I have yet to do is to formalize the infusion process by taking Refuge in the Triple Gem (the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha), unlike my wife who has already taken it twice. I think I will do that in due course, in my own time, when the conditions are ripe.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

A Father's Day Dedication

Today is Father’s Day, dedicated to all the fathers of the world, yours truly included. Unlike last year, CY (aka Big May) sent her wishes in the form of a blog article. The wonder of Internet.

But what is more wonderful is found in what she has penned for this special occasion, though I would like to rededicate her words to all the great dads in the world, your perseverance has not been in vain.

That got me thinking about my own dad, though he is no more around to partake of my reminiscences. But I would go ahead anyway.

My dad was a man of few words, having trudged for thousands of miles from Southern China to the then Malaya in the early 1900s, a diaspora driven by economic imperatives. I can only imagine the arduous journey that he had undergone, and the difficult startup that he had to endure to feed his family. By the time I was old enough to be aware of the going-on around me, he was already retired of sort, we being born in different centuries. So a lot of his ventures I only knew through second-hand accounts, from my elder siblings, and cousins.

My most vivid recollection of my dad, one that has etched into my memory, is him sitting on his rattan chair, one hand holding a cigarette, and the other holding a glass cup of whisky, seemingly in deep thought. His eye lids would occasionally flutter, indicating that he might be wrestling with an issue in his mind. Then he would tap lightly on the small table next to him, and that would be my cue to fill up the glass, one third whisky and two thirds water. Then he would be back to his ruminating self.

Sometimes, I would summon enough courage to report on my academic achievement to him, in an attempt to garner parental recognition as most kids do, even today. In response, he would give a slight nod; but that’s as far as he would go in terms of oral encouragement. On the few occasions that he uttered something to me, it would usually signify something I committed that had incurred his wrath, and he did have a booming voice for his relatively small frame. But those were rare occurrences, and were usually reserved for my elder siblings. Perhaps I was the youngest and as a result he could have cut me more slacks than others.

I could relate two other incidents that further illustrate our interactions. He had made his living by operating a rubber dealer shop in a small town, but we lived about half a mile away up on a small knoll. Despite his advanced age (in his 70s), he had never failed to commute between the house and the shop to oversee things (by now one of my cousins was doing the actual day-to-day running of the business), in a vintage Austin sedan driven by either my elder brother, or my brother-in-law. Sometimes, my other cousin chipped in too for he and my brother-in-law both worked in a trunk garage (an elder brother ran the transport trunk company) located just next to the house. And I and my other siblings would be cycling for the daily trip (except on weekends) to help out in the business, which I started when I was two years removed from going to middle school.

On this particular occasion, none of the designated “chauffeurs” was available to take my Dad back to the house. So I was designated as the navigator so that he could drive himself home. But my presence was just needed toward the end of the 10-minute journey when he had to cross to the other side of the main road to enter an unpaved road that would lead to our house, to make sure that the way was clear of oncoming traffic because of his failing sight. I guess along the balance of the way he was more guided by his habitual instinct rather than actually being able to see clearly where he was going. And perhaps I was young and thrilled by the prospect of doing things alone with my Dad, I did not feel apprehension, but rather a sense of adventure. And that remains the only thing that I had done with my Dad, just the two of us against the world, and that’s how I remember it.

The other occasion is under a less than amicable circumstance. By then I was already studying in high school, in Singapore. While there, I lodged with my elder sister and brother in a condo housing near the top floor. Though I was on a scholarship, periodically my Dad would give me some extra money to help defray some of the living costs. During semester breaks, I would return to my hometown and relive the life that I had left behind: helping out in the business, and, yes, the ritual of filling up my Dad’s glass. When it’s time to return to school, I always bade good-bye to him (by then we had moved to the shop after reconstruction when a second was added to become living quarters.).

On one of these occasions, I forget what the precipitating matter was, only that I walked off in a huff, never even getting the money that was put on the table by my Dad. And I had just enough money in me then for the bus ride to Singapore. I knew I would be in dire straits, financially, having being severed from the paternal support (which obviously was the natural consequence when one walked away from the family, and so I thought) that I had assumed would be coming no matter what, and I remember consoling myself that I would worry about that when tomorrow comes. You know, one of those naïve moments when you think nothing can touch you, and how bad can it get, driven along by that blind ego when things do not go your way, until reality hits. Luckily for me the reality did hit, but not as I had expected.

That evening, while I was pondering my seemingly bleak future at the dining table in my brother’s flat, all alone, a knock came through the door. My other elder brother, who lived on a lower floor on the same block, walked in with money and laid it on the dining table, saying, “this is from Dad.” Apparently, my Dad had called him from my hometown and to get him to pass over the money. And then I felt it: Dad would never abandon me no matter how strong our differences are. I was an impulsive brat, so consumed in my wants that I never gave my Dad a chance to explain his reason for the disagreement.

And I never had the courage to say thank you to him, even though opportunities abounded. And for that, this regret will always stay with me.

Dad passed away when I was a junior in a local university. And I was not even at his bedside when he departed (the university was about 200 miles away). But I would cherish my memory of him. May he rest in peace.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

A Touch of Green

I’m proud to present the second series (read here for the first) of wify’s water color painting: a touch of green that spells lushness, vigor, with a dose of red for vibrancy. What a way to spend an evening, relaxing and yet focusing, letting the mind roam free in search of that exquisite stroke, that magnificent dabble, and that fluid flow of creative expression.

As you can see, I'm better with words, not spoken though as I tend to say what comes to my mind first, kind of uncensored if you will. But writing affords one the opportunity to think things over, not necessarily to alter the gist of what needs to be said, but rather to couch it in amiable terms, i.e., right speech as one the Eight Noble Paths.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

A Destiny Date with His Holiness, the Dalai Lama

My wife hails from a large family of ten siblings, spanning seventeen years in age difference from the eldest (herself) to the youngest, who was born when I was dating her already. Of the ten, only one has ventured down under, and through the years has ascended the academic ladder, culminating in her appointment as the Head of the School of Law and Justice and Co-Director of the Centre for Peace & Social Justice, Southern Cross University early this year. Professor Bee-Chen Goh has really done her family proud.

The Center for Peace and Social Justice, together with the Office of Regional Engagement, has started a Wisdom series aimed at learning from a diversity of spiritual approaches to living. The inaugural lecture was given by Geshe Ngawang Gedun, Spiritual Director of the Australian Tibetan Buddhist Centre (ATBC) on ‘The Four Noble Truths of Buddhism, a two-parter on March 24 and 31.

Then this Friday, the Center is scheduled to kick off the first of the Buddhist Perspectives Series that focuses on Buddhism, technology, media and education. And the speaker will be Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche, a Buddhist filmmaker and author.

On the heel of these programs with a strong Buddhist presence, Southern Cross University (SCU) has also awarded His Holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama Tenzin Gyatso, an Honorary Doctorate in recognition of his humanitarian work and his advocacy of world peace, in conjunction with the Dalai Lama Australia 2007 tour. The Honorary Doctorate was conferred by the University Chancellor, the Honorable John Dowd AO QC, in Melbourne on June 8. [The above news are all gleaned from the SCU website.]

In this connection, Bee-Chen has been honored with being invited to be on stage with His Holiness, one of four who would be asking question during the ensuing dialogue. After the encounter, Bee Chen called her eldest sister (that’s wify) and gave a first-hand account of her very first meeting with the Dalai Lama: forehead-to-forehead greeting, scarf/shawl giving, not to mention the excitement of seeing/hearing the Dalai Lama speak in person. She was even kept on stage during her turn at the scarf giving ceremony when the Dalai Lama explained the meaning of the gesture.

For the past few days, I’ve been trying to source the Net for any news of this momentous meeting that she was a part of. And that account turned up today, in the form of a video taken with a still camera in YouTube. See for yourself and marvel at how easy going the Dalai Lama is. The image below is captured from the above video display.

His Holiness explaining the origin of the scarf giving gesture, an Indian tradition, but acknowledging that the material has come from China.

It's heartening to know that another academic institution is working towards establishing a Buddhist program. And to know that Bee-Chen has played a part in that development really warms our heart. Amitofo.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Of Plants and Butterflies, at USF

One advantage of staying in/near a university is that one would be able to attend social, cultural, and festive events held there. Such was the case when we were living at Corry Village, a married student housing located within the UF Campus. Easter egg hunts, Christmas tree lightings, July 4 fireworks, band performances, Asian/Hispanic/Black student days, arts/books exhibitions, and many others.

Before we moved to our present home, we have visited the USF on several occasions to attend Chinese New Year celebration, music performance, Tzu-Chi (a Buddhist foundation) celebration, and a Dharma talk, not to mention the weekend trips to the Main Library for scientific exploration.

Naturally, when we moved to just across from USF, these visits will take on a new “frequency”. So yesterday we dropped in on our new neighbor, the event being the plant/herb/butterfly exhibition held at the Botanical Garden, a plant research center under the auspices of the Department of Geography.

Area-wise, it’s much smaller than the Botanical Garden near Largo that we have visited several times as well. It was a paid event, admission being $4/= per visitor, with an additional dollar for going inside a small makeshift butterfly room. Most of the visitors came away with bagful of young plants, but we did not. Our purpose was mainly an exploratory one, getting to know some of the local plant/herb/butterfly species, which abound in Malaysia too.

As in most visits, the story is best told pictorially, showcasing the Floridian offerings in horticulture and lepidoptery (yes, I did look up this word which means the scientific study of butterflies and moths).

A staghorn fern, named so because of the resemblance of the leaf to, well, the horn of a stag (a male deer). No mystery there.

Back home we have a nickname for this plant: horse face. Get it? So Staghorn, horseface, a kind of crossover of the animal and plant kingdoms?

These leavee are naturally perforated. How weird can nature get? Wonder whether there is a purpose.

The bromeliads, loud and clear.

The Butterfly room from the outside, with double plastic flap curtains at the doors to prevent butterfly escape.

Two species of butterflies.

Yet another butterfly species.

Yet another .... No wait, this can't be right. It's too huge. And yes, it's faked. Gotcha!

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Calligraphic Representation of the Ten Great Vows of Bodhisattva Samantabhadra (Puxian Pusa)

Wify has a change of heart in regard to her foray into Chainese calligraphy, or more specifically, her readiness to post her works in the Net. For her maiden effort, she has written the Ten Great Vows of Bodhisattva Samantabhadra (Puxian Pusa in Chinese).

Described in Wikipedia as "the Lord of the Truth in Buddhism", Bodhisattva Samantabhadra "represents the practice and meditation of all Buddhas", and "made the ten great vows which are the basis of a bodhisattva". "Literally “He whose bounty is omnipresent”, he represents the Buddhist ideals of Law and Compassion".

I have suitably adorned her calligraphic work with images taken from here. Instead of attempting to translate the ten great vows, couched in crisp 4-word stanzas, into English, I decided to search the Net for the equivalent English text and found one here.

Here then, are the Ten Great Vows of Bodhisattva Samantabhadra, in wify’s Chinese calligraphy adorned by my layout design, followed by the English translation, the correspondence being from left to right (Chinese) and top to bottom (English).

First, Pay homage and respect to all Buddha’s.

Second, Praise all the Buddha’s.

Third, Make abundant offerings.

Fourth, Repent misdeeds and evil karma’s (actions).

Fifth, Rejoice in others’ merits and virtues.

Sixth, Request the Buddha’s to teach.

Seventh, Request the Buddha’s to remain in the world.

Eighth, Follow the teachings of the Buddha’s at all times.

Ninth, Accommodate and benefit all living beings.

Tenth, Transfer all merits and virtues universally.

As admonished by Bodhisattva Samantabhadra, “Good men, even if all the Buddha’s of all the ten directions were to speak continuously, for as many eons as there are fine motes of dust in an incalculable number of Buddha lands (worlds), the merits and virtues of the Buddha could never be fully described.

Those wishing to achieve these merits and virtues should cultivate ten vast and great practices and vows.”

Friday, June 08, 2007

Go with the heart!

Billy the D has realized none too late where his heart is: Gator Nation. This must be the quickest turnaround in the sometimes topsy-turvy world of professional sports where the lure of money is an integral part of the game. On paper one would think that Billy has made the rational decision, ascending to the next higher bracket of earning/compensation. Even in terms of challenge, that move is considered logical, rising to a higher challenge of dealing with so many egos characterized by highly complex group dynamics.

However, something was tugging at his heart, despite the promise of “money, money, money “ (in the manner of the ABBA’s vocal). And for his listening to his heart, the entire Gator Nation rejoiced. As eloquently put by Bernie in another email to all alumni and friends, “So it turns out Thomas Wolfe was wrong -- you can go home again. We're glad you're here, Billy.”

This is passion at its zenith, as embraced by Donald Trump, “Passion is enthusiasm on a big scale.” Sometimes analysis will only bring on paralysis, so listening to one’s heart, a gut feeling, while not a sure bet for achieving happiness, is as good as any guarantee against regrets. As Whoopi Goldberg’s character (as a singing nun) said in Sister Act (II?) to a school girl apprehensive of joining the school’s choir, “When you get up in the morning, and all you can think of is singing, then singing is for you.”

I guess Billy D was coaching the Gators in his dreams the day he signed with the Magic. And the rest is history as they said.

Go Gators!

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

An Artist is born, or surfaces rather

I’ve long known that wify has a talent for drawing and painting, which seems to come naturally to her. I’ve tried to cultivate the same artistic expression, but realized early on that this is one arena of human creativity where nurture takes a distant back seat to natural endowments.

For one reason or another, basically laboring over the needs of our home and its inhabitants, she has not given time to developing further her innate drawing/painting ability, save for some brief stints (actually I can only recall once) of taking up some arts classes here and there.

When I first started this and the other blogs, her drawing began to find an outlet, a conduit, through which we could share her creations, earning her some accolades in the process.

These past weeks I noticed that she has been stocking up on arts supply: paint brushes, color tubes, sketch books, books on painting, etc. And I waited patiently for that sudden burst of effusive brilliance, that ripe moment when she decides to commit her mind to paper. I could have egged her on but decided that she would be the best judge of when she is ready. And today turns out to be the day.

Here they are: in color, but drawn with a twist, a Chinese brush pen used in calligraphy. She has also several Chinese calligraphy pieces done a few days earlier (so I kind of know where the momentum was leading to), but she said to give her more time to make them presentable. Nobody can be a tougher judge than oneself indeed.

Drum roll please ...

Monday, June 04, 2007

A Revisit to Universal Studio, Orlando

After some weighing as to which theme park in Orlando to visit, we decided on Universal Studio, for the simple reason that I’ve received some discounted admission tickets in the mail some time ago: one free ticket and six half-priced ones. Thanks to my bro who ferreted the tickets out of the pile of junk mail on the table. So that’s where we headed on Friday (May 25).

Universal Studio has changed quite a bit since we last visited way back when we were still at Gainesville. I remembered the huge rotating globe with the name Universal Studio ringing round it as not far from the car park. But this time around, we had to park at a multi-storey carpark and walked like ages before we reached the same Globe. But I must admit that the scenery along the way is like walking down a busy street, lined by stores after stores. But we were focused, so brisk walking we did until we reached the front office of Universal Studio.

The security check, if any, seemed perfunctory compared to that at Kennedy Space Center (KSC), presumably because KSC is a government establishment. Once inside, my brother wisely laid out some pointers to maximally enjoy the attractions based on his online survey: start from inside out, skip lunch, split the troop and ride singly. But we missed an effective way, with cost: the express lane tickets. Anyway, it being a weekday, the lines did not seem overly outrageous. But we still started from somewhere in the middle: the Revenge of the Mummy.

Some of these rides have warning signs posted all over: cautioning patrons with heart ailments, with pregnancy, to exercise extreme discretion. So I took these to heart and acted as a bag lugger, like my bro, for some of the seemingly more “turbulent” rides. Let's see, I was game for Shrek 4D (no surprise there), E.T. (some abrupt motions of the carriage which I handled nonchalantly), Jaws (it’s a mechanical shark anyway), Twister (except for some heat, strong breeze, and loud noises), Animal Show (a variety of harmless birdies, canines, felines, and primates), and a half-show of Terminator. I said half show because somewhere during the movie when Arnold was swiping away the pesky robotic hunting machines, a human voice announcing technical difficulty abruptly came on. And I even thought perhaps that was part of the show until the exit doors opened.

Halfway through the day we waltzed over to the Island of Adventure. Here obviously the rides all more challenging, being consistent with the theme of adventure. But unlike our kids, we did not stay long after taking just one ride: the Amazing Adventures of Spiderman.

And the afternoon quickly eased by and by nightfall we sent my bro to a local hotel near the Orlando airport for his next morning flight back to Singapore. And that concluded our trip to the Universal Studio, the experience perhaps better conveyed pictorially as follows.

The momentarily freezed rotating Globe, at the entrance to Universal Studio.

Who is more cool?

Boy, they sure don't know what they are getting into, a destiny date with Jaws?

Woodpeckies, Curious George, Scooby, and the Man in the Yellow Hat doing their numbers.

Hello, we are wasting time here. I've no idea what they are arguing about.

Whatever it is, I like the outcome of the argument: lunch.

What is so thrilling about being hung upside down, even for a nano-second?

But I can dig this.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Bye-Bye Gainesville

For those who are wondering why I'm bidding farewell to Gainesville, after my last blog hailing here I come, read on.

Billy D is now officially a past chapter in the annals of Gators Sports, however scintillating his reign as the UF winningest basketball coach has been while it lasted. In the aftermath of the frenzy of the March Madness, the foremost thought in every gator’s mind is surely whether this would be the last we see of him. Our sentimental self says that he would continue to be part of the Gator Nation. However, the rational half tells us that this would be as good as anytime to leave as surely there is no higher mountain, in college basketball that is, to scale after the two-peat.

So yesterday, my son broke the breaking news to me. And today I received an email from the UF President destined for all alumni and friends of the Gators and his opening paragraph reads:

If you're like me, it was a something of a bittersweet moment when you heard that head basketball Coach Billy Donovan was leaving the Gators to take over as coach of the Orlando Magic.”

This picture, taken from the Gatorzone basketball page, will forever be etched into the collective memory of Gator Nation, not as a "hired gun" as one newspaper columnist would put it, but rather as a Gators' Favored Son whose link with UF will never be severed, wherever he may be.

I would have to say it is neither, neither bitter nor sweet, just accepting the reality. Even the Japanese culture that worships life-long commitment and loyalty is changing with time. Those who stay on the same ship for long are an endangered species, even to the extent of being misconstrued as lacking the opportunity (read credentials) to jump ship.

But ultimately one has to answer to oneself, and no others. They are those who savor challenges, never staying in one place for too long, like a maverick fighter going after the next prize. And they are those who like stability, believing that a relationship is like an old brew, the longer it is, the more exquisite the taste.

For gators who like challenges, this is like a god-send, trying to achieve three-peat with different coaches.

So what is left is to join Bernie “in wishing Billy Donovan and his family the best of luck in his future endeavors.

Go Gators!