Posts tagged ‘commentary’

We’ll Rise from the Ashes

Orange Sky

It’s a day like no other. The sun is nowhere to be found. It looks more like twilight that I have to turn on the lights.

The skies are dark and tinted with orange caused by wildfires burning all across Northern California. Although I live many miles from the nearest fire, I could still smell the smoke.

It’s almost quiet outside. It feels like a prologue to the apocalypse. I hear no fluttering of the breeze through the trees. There’s nary a sound except for the chirping of a lonely bird.

So far over two million acres have been burned. Already considered a state record, the fire season is far from over.

I’d lived in California for years and this is the first time I’d seen its population face so many challenges brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic and the current wildfires. The impact on the economy and life as we know it will be felt for a very long time.

I want to believe we’ll get through these current challenges, like those that came before. We’ll rise from the ashes and rebuild our dreams. Our head may get bloody, to paraphrase a poem, but we’ll remain unbowed.

September 9, 2020 at 4:34 pm 2 comments

First They Came…

Martin Niemöller
Credit: Martin Niemöller

President Donald Trump and his enablers are exploiting the cracks in our democratic institutions and promoting divisiveness to gain power and establish a fascist form of government. For sure, they’re in the minority. However, if we remain quiet and condone their abuses, they will prevail and lose our human dignity and freedom in the end. It’s time to speak out and be counted.

June 2, 2020 at 11:12 am Leave a comment

Life in the Time of Pandemic

Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

After much thought, I cancelled my trip to Italy this summer. It was supposed to be a tour of the Lombardy region which has become the epicenter of the country’s coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

Within a few weeks, the virus has spread all over Italy causing more than 4,000 deaths, the most of any country in the world. In an attempt to slow down the spread of the virus, the government has imposed a national quarantine advising the population to stay at home and closing schools and most businesses.

The World Health Organization has already declared the coronavirus outbreak as a pandemic after it has gained a foothold in 186 countries and territories around the world.

In the U.S.. Pres. Trump has consistently downplayed the threat and believed it would go away as temperatures warm. He has been inclined to go with the far-right thinking that the whole thing is overblown created by the “deep state” to hurt his reelection chances.

As the number of infections across the nation has surged, however, he has somewhat changed his rhetoric. According to New York Times, with more testing being done, at least 17,962 people have tested positive for coronavirus and at least 239 patients have died.

“My administration,” he said in a recent press briefing, “is recommending that all Americans, including the young and healthy, work to engage in schooling from home when possible, avoid gathering in groups of more than 10 people, avoid discretionary travel and avoid eating and drinking in bars, restaurants, and public food courts.”

Without these actions, an epidemic modeling group at Imperial College London warned 2.2 million people in the United States could die.

In California where I live, Gov. Gavin Newsom has ordered all California residents to stay home, except as needed for certain essential activities with no end date in place. Allowable activities outside the home include getting food, caring for a relative or friend, and getting necessary health care or critical medical supplies. Outdoor recreation and exercise are also allowed as long as social distancing and other “common sense” preventive measures are followed. Do they impinge on our individual liberty and freedom of choice? For sure, they do. But under the circumstances, they’re necessary for the common good.

Without these mitigation efforts, the governor projects that 25.5 million in California will contract coronavirus. We need to come together to face this crisis.

I see the world evolving as a result of this pandemic. Our society will be transformed and the way we interact with each other changed forever. For the better or worse? Only time could tell.

As for my cancelled trip to Italy, the tour company has refused to refund the deposit I already paid. The best they could do was give me an equivalent credit for a future tour which is fine with me.

March 21, 2020 at 2:55 pm 2 comments

A Lesson Learned

I Pass

After receiving two consecutive five year extensions by mail, it was time to renew my driving license at the local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).

It was an experience that I wanted to avoid. It could be intimidating and stressful to a point because of the big crowd and the need to take both a vision test and written test.

My first day’s visit to the DMV was a total waste. I forgot to bring my Social Security Card and was asked to go back.

On my second visit, I was able to meet all the requirements: Social Security Card, passport, and two bills showing proof of my current residence. After being in line for sometime, I was given a number and waited for my turn.

It took a couple of hours before my number was called. After my papers were checked at the counter, I underwent the vision test to prove that I have at least 20/40 acuity with either one or both of my eyes. I was asked to look at the chart on the wall and read lines of numbers and letters on it. The result was inconclusive. I had to do it again by looking into a machine for the test. This time around, I passed.

Then I waited for my picture to be taken. When my turn came, I was asked to take my glasses off and smile. I didn’t think it would be of much help. I expected it to be worse than my high school graduation picture what with all the tension and anxiety building inside me.

Afterward I waited for my name to be called for the written test. After about an hour, I got the call. It required answering correctly 15 out of 18 questions on a touch screen terminal.

Since I considered myself as a good driver, I thought it would be a cinch and didn’t need the three chances given to pass it. I was sure I would breeze through it without any problem.

On my first attempt, however, I failed. It felt like a slap in the face.

When asked if I wanted a second chance, I said yes without hesitation. Big mistake. I failed again.

In desperation along with my bruised ego, I asked the administrator to allow me the last and final shot to pass. But she suggested that I better go home and study first.

I heeded her advice. I knew what was at stake. If I failed this time around, I had to start all over again. I didn’t want to do that because of the risk of failing another vision test which would require me buying a new pair of glasses.

I got a copy of the California Driver Handbook and spent two grueling days poring over it. I didn’t remember studying that hard since I prepared for the Microsoft Certified System Engineer exam.

When I went back to the DMV to take the test, I was ready more than I could ever be. Needless to say, I passed. After reaching the 17th question with only one wrong answer, I got the Congratulations Message on the screen and didn’t have to continue anymore. It felt like a heavy burden was lifted off my shoulders.

If there’s a lesson to be learned here, it’s not to underestimate any task on hand. Never take anything for granted. Like a Boy Scout, be always prepared.

February 23, 2020 at 10:51 am Leave a comment

A Victory That Wasn’t


Ahead 20-10 and 11:57 minutes left in the game, the 49ers intercepted the Chiefs QB Mahones for the second time.

It looked like game over for the Chiefs. This led some 49ers to run to the end zone and celebrate what they thought would be an imminent victory.

But it wasn’t meant to be. Although the 49ers had Mahones on the ropes, it proved that he still had more in the tank to bring his team back to life.

Down two scores, he performed his magic and rallied his team to three unanswered touchdowns in a span of six minutes to beat the 49ers 31-20.

“Don’t count your chickens before they are hatched,” according to Aesop. It’s one lesson that we can learn from the last Super Bowl. The other is to have heart, never give up, and fight to the end as excemplified by Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs, who eventually emerged as the champions.

The 49ers are a young team belonging to a class organization. Perhaps they can be forgiven for this undue exuberance this time around? I’m sure they have realized that it was plain childish and that it won’t happen again.

February 3, 2020 at 6:50 pm Leave a comment

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