Tuesday, November 12, 2013

How to Help The Victims of Super Typhoon Haiyan

Right now, I am looking outside the street of Manila. It is raining a little. Quite peaceful if I must say. Four days ago, the downpour was much more intense. But the typhoon Yolanda (also known as Haiyan) did not affect my area directly. It was the city of Tacloban that was hit the hardest. 

I couldn't help but feel very sad upon seeing the aftermath of the super typhoon on the news. A huge part of the city of Tacloban has been destroyed. The place looked as if it was destroyed by a huge tsunami wave.

Many people there haven't eaten for days. Relief goods haven't arrived yet due to blocked roads. Even those with money couldn't do anything because there were no food available. Some people resorted to looting for survival. Some groups were even seen stealing appliances such as refrigerators and washing machines. My guess is that those gangs came from outside the city to take advantage of its vulnerable situation. After all, what use would the locals have for those appliances? Their houses were already ruined!

People would come rushing to the cameras whenever they see journalists. They wanted to tell their families that they were alive. The most heartbreaking moment was when they would face the camera, talk to their families on air, telling them they are alive, while some of them didn't make it, and that they're sorry they were unable to protect them.

I pray that they would gather enough strength to rise again. May the arrival of aids be swift. Below is a link for more information of how we could donate to the devastated places of the country. 

God bless Tacloban and the rest of the places ravaged by Yolanda.

Today I learned: An Extra Virgin Olive Oil Label Doesn't Guarantee Quality

Image Credit: artur84 | Freedigitalphotos.net
I love using olive oil because of it's health benefits. I've been told that all I needed to look for is the "extra virgin" label. It means that the oil comes from the first press of olives, ensuring that the oil contains antioxidants and omega 3 and other health benefits. However, I just learned that it's not the end of story. It takes a closer look at the back of the bottles for us to find out about the product's quality.

First, we need to look for the harvest date. It should be within two years. Olive oils degrade fast so they shouldn't be allowed to age as wines. I always look for thick and dark bottles to make sure that the product inside isn't exposed to light - another variable that will degrade the olive oil. I cringe whenever I see olive oils sold inside clear bottles. Yes, poorly bottled olive oils do exist in the market.

Next, there should be a seal from a third party body that tests for the oil's quality, such as COCC from California. Usually, products bearing a harvest date has a seal in the label as well.

Quite a number of olive oil products undergo several steps of processing before they reach our shelves. If the label indicates that it was made from different countries before eventually getting inside the bottle, chances are, the oil has already degraded in quality during shipment. It's better to have the product manufactured from one country only. 

After buying the brand of your choice, check immediately at home if it smells off. You may also taste it to see if its fresh. If it stings the back of your throat a bit, then it means there are polyphenols present in the oil. You can always return the product if your dissatisfied with it.


Friday, November 08, 2013

Great News

It's been a while since I've posted something in this blog. Today I am very happy. I'm here to announce a major feat I had now as an online writer. It's about a writing online platform - Squidoo - where I also contribute articles aside from Blogger. My status there have just been upgraded to a Giant Squid

If you haven't heard about Squidoo, it's a writing platform where anyone can submit articles of interests for free while earning money. You don't need a Google Adsense account to be able to earn there. Squidoo has its own Google Adsense account to which a portion of its earnings is being distributed to the writers (called Squids) every month. The amount depends on the writers' performance. Since my account was disabled by Google two years ago (for reasons unknown), I signed up for Squidoo for a greener pasture, while tending my blogs at Blogger. For this reason, writing on different platforms has made me a little more busy, not to mention I still have a day job and housework to care for!

Losing my account on Adsense didn't make me lose heart. I write whenever I have time. I write informative articles the most. The earnings are very slow to come, but at least I'm enjoying the process, and despite the little amount, it still made me feel productive while doing what I love. 

After signing up for Squidoo, I didn't participate right away. I just let my profile sit there, with only a couple of articles (called lenses in Squidoo) published under my name. That led on to one year. During that period, I focused my writing on Blogger. After a year, I decided to give more time to Squidoo. I was able to produce twenty five quality lenses (Squidoo has a meter that shows you if the lens your writing has 100% score). My sister, who has been on Squidoo much longer, urged me to apply for a Giant Squid status. Being a Giant Squid has some perks, such as being qualified to join writing contests with prizes. Also, having a Giant Squid seal beside my name is an entitlement, and other writers would revere you for that.

I agreed to apply. Squidoo has an application form for that. The form says that it will take two weeks for Squidoo to review my account before deciding if they would grant me the title. After only a day, I received the good news. Not only that, one of my lenses: My Roller Coaster Experience, was awarded with a Purple Star. The Purple Star is just one of the many ways Squidoo motivates the writers who deserve encouragement.

With the new title tagged along my pen name, I got even more motivated to write there. It's really a great morale booster. I love Squidoo. If you're like me who don't have an Adsense account, or got it disabled for some reason, consider writing on Squidoo. If you work hard enough, the site would surely reward you.

To see a complete list of my Squidoo Lenses, check this profile. You may also sign up through this referral link if you decided to join the community.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Journey to Happiness - Step #3: Be Assertive

I am a nice person. I grew up believing that doing good to others would benefit me in the long run. Sure, there is even an old saying that if you treat others well, they will also treat you well. But as I mingle with different people, I noticed that it's not necessarily going to happen. Sometimes, my being nice even made me into a doormat. I'd become an under appreciated, sad, cynical, and resentful person because of that.

But then I realized, in order to change how people treat me, I should change myself first. By voicing out my thoughts and feelings more often, other people would know what I want. This is called assertiveness. It is not being egotistical. It is not being aggressive. It is simply putting your own needs equal to others' needs. Tell people what you want, also listen to what they want, then reach for a resolution.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Having a Twin Sister

What's it like to having a twin sister? People find it interesting after learning I have a twin. They are always eager to hear about having-a-twin stories. But I would always find myself dumbfounded where to start. In fact, I do not even have entertaining or funny stories prepared for them.

Having a twin is part of my life. I cannot explain what is special about it, because I have never experienced having an ordinary sibling. People may find having a twin is interesting. But to me, I also get curious what it's like to have a non-identical sibling. 

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

How to Deal with Plagiarism

Illustration by seriousnuts.
You've probably already heard or read somewhere about the saying: "Jealousy is the greatest form of flattery." This is true and many of you will surely agree with that statement. I can somehow relate this saying into Blogosphere, but jealousy is not the issue here. Rather, it's about plagiarism. 

For the nth time, I found out that some of my written works were copied and pasted into another website and claimed to be the blogger's own works. I was of course mad about my discovery. I was even tempted to drop a comment such as:
"Hey, it's my written work you're posting." "Do you know it's plagiarism you're doing?""Are you sure this post is written by you? I will have your site closed soon, just wait."
But instead, I held my composure, and did what is right - filing a DMCA complaint to Google (since it was Google that hosted the blogger's site in question).

Monday, February 11, 2013

Journey to Happiness - Step #2: Think of One Happy Thought Each Day

I remembered one of the topics I've learned from my Psychology classes about a form of therapy called Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy. It's about "fixing" a patient's illogical thoughts  to control his/her anxiety or neuroticism. Likewise, when it comes to happiness, a huge chunk of it comes from the way we think. As cliche as it may sound, it's all about our attitude.

Many times, we get sad because of the thoughts that pop in our head. It might be about a painful past. Or about the uncertainty of the future. It may also be about the present that isn't too favorable to us. Whatever the reasons we may have, we know that thinking about sad thoughts won't lead us to a solution. 

So, just for a change, whenever a sad thought strikes us, instead of allowing that thought to conquer our minds, let's try to push the thought away. Let's keep our minds busy by thinking of happy thoughts instead. Think about one good thing someone has done to you. Or about a memorable vacation. Reminisce about how you've met your spouse. Think about a very inspiring movie you've just watched. And so on. As you practice thinking happy things, you'll notice that it becomes easier for your mind to be more positive. And the habit of positive thinking becomes an effortless act.

So, what good thought popped in your head today?

Friday, February 01, 2013

Journey to Happiness - Step #1: Organize Your Home

These past few weeks might be a tough one for many people. January blues following shortly after a jolly December. Perhaps the sadness may be due to the dullness of the month (in stark contrast with a festive previous month). Then it might even be a lot tougher to single people, especially now that the lovers' season is fast approaching. There are lots of factors why one might be blue right now. But instead of giving you reasons to believe that you should be sad too, I would instead focus on things that could make you happy. 

Join me in this series of blog posts where I too, search for happiness. Who doesn't want to be happy anyway? If you would love to share your own ideas, feel free to post a comment.