Life with Dad: “You’re my kid, after all”

You know, I don’t think I ever gave my Dad proper credit for his influence in my life. There have been ups (and a down) when I think about our relationship.  But lately I’ve found myself thinking and saying “well my Dad taught me…” Maybe it’s because Mom’s not around anymore.

Dad is always paranoid about being late for travel. His motto is always “better to wait at the airport” many times arriving way early.

This morning. I had to catch a flight at 09.30 AM. The Jakarta traffic being what it is (aka murder-by-macet) I opted to leave at 6.00 from Dad’s. As I was kinda regretting the decision Dad said “better be early and wait there. You’re my kid, after all.”

Then I realized his paranoia has rubbed off on me 🙂

Dad,  you’ve taught me well.

My horoscope today: good advice!

Just because you have a strong opinion about how to do something at work, your certainty doesn’t make your idea the best way. Being open to learning from others requires you to let go of your attachment to being right. Forget about proving your superiority; instead, acknowledge that everyone has something special to offer. Respectfully asking your co-workers to share their knowledge and expertise is a sign of your own intelligence.

What to do on a Mother-less Mother’s Day

The 1st thought was drown myself in sorrow, thinking of my late mom and thinking of the fact that I’m not a mom.

The 2nd thought was slapping myself internally,because I’m not the only person in the world without a mother and not a mom.

The 3rd thought was OK, wallow for 5 minutes, blog about it, then move on.

Right. 5 minutes over.

Moving on.

Careful, your face might freeze that way!

Stop making weird faces…your face might freeze that way.

I am not sure who actually said this, but I often hear/read this saying. And you know what? I think its kinda true.

I have some friends who somehow think that a day without complaining is a day wasted. Their faces seem to be stuck in a perpetual long face, unsmiling, often scowling.

So folks, be careful. Stop putting on a negative face, it might just freeze that way.

Smile!!!

Why does it feel different this time?

Having been part of university management this past decade has often put me in situations where the “management” is seemingly portrayed as some kinda of “bad guy” trying to disturb the haven of academic society in the university.

In all situations, I have enjoyed support of my direct superiors whenever faced with people who, hmm, don’t quite understand the decisions made in the university.

That is, until this weekend when a direct superior posted a scathing email in the staff mailing list, questioning the motives of a selection committee that I am a member of.

Honestly, the email felt like a punch in the gut. Of course close friends told me to ignore this email, and to move on. Of course we move on, but not before sending out a reply keeping emotions in check through gritted teeth.

You know, it wasn’t the first provocative I’d ever received. But this one caught me off guard, because it came from a direct superior, who I just met the day before and said practically nothing. Instead, the person decided to ruin a weekend by sending out an email basically accusing the committee of trying to ruin the collegial atmosphere, and challenging us to come up with better rules and regulations.

I would’ve accepted this “public” scolding if I hadn’t shown the rules and regulations the previous day. I had presented the draft and received a quiet assent. And yet, the following day, came the ridiculous email. This person had crossed the fine line of governing and politicking.

99% of the time, I can ignore emails like that. This was the 1% that I couldn’t. This time, it felt different because the person who did the provoking was a direct superior.

And that my friends, shows the quality of a leader. You deal the issues when YOU face them, and not by sending a public email to the staff mailing list.

The New Normal: Life without Mom

The passing of my Mom “forced” us (Dad, brothers, me, in-laws, grandkids) to adjust to a new life. I remember tweeting about “Establishing a new normal”. After the funeral, we faced the practicalities such as closing bank accounts, credit cards etc.

After fortysomething days, we’re still adjusting. Today we closed Mom’s mobile number. Dad said “Mom’s using another telephone now.”

So tonight I deleted her number from my contact list.

Can I say it just sucks, big time? 😦

The 40th day

Dear Mom,

It’s been 40 days since you passed away. We miss you of course. But today was such a beautiful day that I took it as a sign that all is well where you are, so we’ll be OK too.

Love you always.

Al Fatihah.

Good advice for Sagitarians today!

Your strategy of temporarily avoiding a deep discussion about your feelings might actually help you make it through the day. You realize that if you say what’s on your mind today, your disclosures could stir up powerful emotions that only lead to an unsolvable disagreement. For now, it’s wiser to steer clear of abstract philosophical debates. Keep conversations focused on the most practical subjects possible.

Mengapa Presiden Barack Obama (lebih) berarti dibandingkan dengan yang lain?

Menjelang kedatangan Presiden Barack Obama ada beberapa orang sering mengomentari posting saya yang kelihatan (sangat) pro-Obama, pro-Amerika pokoknya “antek Amerika” lah, some more cynical than others.

Ah ya, memang saya “antek Amerika”. Mau apa lo?

:::smile:::

Masalahnya, pada kurun waktu yang kurang lebih sama (1969-74), saya mengalami nasib serupa Presiden Obama. Ikut ayah saya yang belajar di USA. Kalau Barack Obama jadi “immersed” dengan budaya Indonesia, saya ya kesenggol budaya barat. Jadi, saya bisa paham tentang perasaan Obama pada Indonesia karena kurang lebih saya mengalami hal yang sama. Obama demen bakso, saya demen McD 🙂

Sehingga, ketika Senator muda yang pertama kali saya lihat di Oprah kemudian memutuskan mencalonkan diri jadi Presiden Amerika tahun 2008, saya ikut terbawa arus “mendukung” pencalonan beliau. Padahal ya warga negara bukan, tinggal di sana juga tidak. Cuma saya ngga seperti gerombolan “teman SD” beliau yang sampai nonton bareng konvensi partai Demokrat dan pemilihan presiden.

2008 itu memang tahun yang “istimewa” karena ekonomi Amerika ambruk. Akibatnya ekonomi dunia juga amburadul. Jadi, siapa yang menang pemilihan Presiden menjadi perhatian global. Tadinya Barack Obama dianggap sebagai “penggembira” (underdog) saja dalam pencalonan Demokrat. Karena saya juga tahu jeleknya Amerika, saya rada kasihan sama Barack Obama. Tidak mungkin Amerika ikhlas punya presiden “orang keturunan” (itu sama aja Indonesia dipimpin etnis Cina misalnya lhooo). Pasti orang bilang belum saatnya.

Tapi, tapi apa yang terjadi? Dengan gaya bottom up/grass roots, Barack Obama (dan tim sukses) berhasil menggaet dukungan berarti (termasuk dukungan dana) untuk bisa kampanye optimal. Tim sukses juga khas politik: muda dan sombong :-). Too cut a long story short, Barack Obama berhasil mengalahkan lawan-lawannya.

Jadi calon Demokrat, mantap. (Ternyata saya lupa satu faktor: orang Amerika tetap lebih senang dipimpin seorang pria meskipun hitam, daripada wanita, apalagi wanita itu Hilary Clinton :-))

Jadi Presiden Amerika Serikat? Istilah anak sekarang: *gubrag*. Bahasa Amerika-nya “He*l just froze over, I think

Beneran. Walau saya ngarep.com bahwa suatu ketika ada golongan minoritas jadi Presiden, saya terus terang ngga nyangka itu terjadi pada tahun 2008. Bengong lihat hasil pemilihan di CNN.

So my admiration for this President continues, lewat hal-hal seperti ini:

1. Barack Obama berusaha memenuhi janji kampanye, yaitu memperbaiki ASKES Amerika dan Ekonomi Amerika. Programnya khas partai Demokrat yang mengandalkan keterlibatan pemerintah pusat dalam implementasi, termasuk dukungan dana. Bahwa bikin defisit, dan bakal ‘dibayar’ oleh anak cucu Obama, well itu ya soal lain. Tapi dia tidak cuma janji di mulut. Dia jadikan ASKES Amerika sebagai prioritas.

2. Barack Obama konsisten untuk dukungannya terhadap Islam. Ngga usah meributkan agamanya apa, dan kenapa masih dukung Israel juga. Tapi lihatlah Presiden Obama gigih mendukung perbaikan hubungan dengan penganut agama Islam. Dari pidato di tahun 2009, dan kemudian pada tahun 2010 gigih mendukung pembangunan Islamic Center deket Ground Zero WTC. Tidak ada sinar kompromi dengan minta Center tersebut geser menjauh supaya jaga perasaan “mayoritas”. That’s a leader, my friend. Sementara lihatlah apa yang sedang terjadi dengan perlakuan terhadap minoritas di Indonesia.

3. Barack Obama anti diskriminasi. Mungkin, nilai agama kita akan membatasi dukungan kita terhadap orang yang “berbeda” dengan kita secara orientasi seksual alias homoseksual. Saya juga sempat gitu kok. Tapi, mau homo atau heteroseksual, orang tetap orang kan? Mau Islam, Ahmadiyah atau HKBP, Buddhis, tetap orang kan? Pantaskah kita menghakimi orang tersebut karena perbedaan keyakinan maupun hal lain? Rasanya tidak. Coba masuk website Gedung Putih dan cari video tentang pesan anti-bullying Presiden Obama.

4. Barack Obama memahami pentingnya pendidikan sains dan matematika sebagai salah satu kunci kemajuan bangsa. Dan telah mewujudkannya dalam beberapa program tingkat nasional.

5. Dan last but not least, Barack Obama, meskipun seorang politisi, rendah hati (humble) dan tulus (sincere). Orang akan bilang “Halah, lebay…” Atau teman saya “Elo apaan sih, biasa aja”. No, seriously, makanya, coba dengarkan pidatonya secara seksama. Tidak usah mengerti kata per kata (walau itu akan sangat menolong). Pidato di jamuan kenegaraan di Istana Negara membuat saya terharu, karena beliau berbicara dengan nada yang sangat tulus dan terharu mengingat ibunya (kalau presiden SBY mungkin nangis?).

So, apabila setelah baca ini, dan masih heran kenapa saya kagum dengan Presiden Barack Obama, ya tidak apa-apa. Terima kasih untuk membaca.

This made me laugh!

Originally posted on my teaching blog, this is too funny to not post here.

As the big midterm for microbiology is nearing, I am currently developing exam questions, and stumbled upon a sample multiple choice exam that had answers like this (question not included as it is a potential exam question):

A. The mixed culture has grown in a manner that is consistent with your estimates based on growth rates for the isolated strains
B. The mixed culture, while clearly showing growth, did not increase as rapidly as you estimated based on growth rates for the isolated strains, suggesting that one or both of the strains, when grown together, have a decreased generation time
C. The mixed culture increased in number more rapidly than you would have predicted based on the individual growth rates, suggesting that the two strains interacted in a manner that increased the generation time of one or both of the strains.
D. This question is entirely too complicated for me to answer
E. I have decided not to become a microbiologist

I wonder how many students answered D & E?