On Talent, Practice and Human Achievement

I’ve thought about this question – Why do things come so easily for some people?

There are people who appear to be natural artists who could create incredible works of art (drawing, painting, sculpture).  Some people have such mathematical aptitude that they easily grasp concepts not a lot of other people can even begin to comprehend.  Some folks play instruments and create music.  Some people sing and dance.  Some people write beautiful poetry or engaging prose.  Some are charismatic speakers.  Some are extremely good at sports – athletes who seem to have superhuman strength, speed, dexterity.

Sometimes we feel like mere spectators to feats of great human achievement.  And I’m sure at some level, it frustrates all of us.  At least speaking for myself, I’m sometimes frustrated whenever I set out to accomplish something, and I expend a lot of effort.  And I see this other guy who makes it look so easy.

This begged the question – what drives human achievement?

To somewhat clarify my point – I’ve come up with the following graph (prepared in Microsoft Word!)

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Video: Baby hearing for the first time

I just came across this video a few minutes ago:

It certainly got me to thinking – It’s amazing how often we take our senses for granted.    I try to imagine not being able to hear, or see, or taste, or feel, or smell.  But obviously, I can’t really know how it feels like.  But looking at this baby being able to hear for the first time – wow!  And that reaction!  I can’t tell who’s happier – the baby or the mom.

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Thoughts on Jogging and Discipline

I never thought this would happen. This evening, I was able to jog/walk my first 10K for the first time. I clocked at about 1 hour 34 minutes. It’s not that good. But it’s a start. And I feel great.

Alright, everyone can say it. I’ve been a nerd all my life, and I’ve allowed myself to be an overweight couch potato foodie.  Here’s me in December 2006:

Warning – fatso alert after the jump!

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Five Year Diary

I just feel like the days are going by so fast, especially with the changing seasons.  Leaves are turning, and the air is chillier.  Before I know it, it’s a new year.  And somehow I feel like life is whizzing by along with those days (with work routines, long commutes, innumerable distractions).  There are some days I just ask myself – Where did all that time go? What have I accomplished?

Two years ago, I purchased a five-year diary.  It’s a handy notebook wherein I required myself to write a few words about my day.  It allows up to 6 lines per day.  I use it to mark for birthdays and special events.  It enables me to look back into the year, and it does force introspection.  Here’s how it looks now:

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My favorite books: Recent Fantasy Edition

I’m currently in the middle of reading Brandon Sanderson’s The Way of Kings, and it is fast becoming one of my favorite fantasy books of all time.  Brandon just blows my mind when it comes to world building and clever magic systems.  And the artwork in this book is just plain phenomenal.  I was fortunate to receive an ARC (photographed), but I didn’t cancel my pre-ordered hardcover.  Still couldn’t be happier.  I’m savoring the book knowing that the next one is not going to be out for quite some time.

For the blog, I figured it’s time that I should also chronicle my favorite books.   I have been passionate about reading since my aunt gave me a copy of “Hardy Boys # 54: The Mysterious Caravan” in Third Grade.  I’ve been nothing short of voracious, and very eclectic in my choices – from fantasies, mysteries, histories, dramas, romance, biographies, nonfiction, philosophy, science fiction, comic books, poetry, classics, etc.

So for lists, I have to gather them by category.  It’s so easy for me to be scattershot and off-tangent.

I realize that I have been reading a lot of fantasy novels lately.  Primarily because I’ve been having a really long commute during the past few months.  And a bit of escapism from the daily grind of spreadsheets and documents is what I feel I need to keep my sanity intact.

So here’s my list of favorite recent fantasy novels:

  • The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss (Coming in 2011 – A Wise Man’s Fear)
  • The Warded Man and The Desert Spear by Peter V. Brett (Coming in 2012 – The Daylight War)
  • Elantris, Mistborn Trilogy and The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson
  • Acacia and The Other Lands by David Anthony Durham
  • Lamentation and Canticle by Ken Scholes (Soon to come – Antiphon)
  • Dresden Files and Codex Alera by Jim Butcher
  • The Magicians by Lev Grossman

Do check out my lists and reviews over at Goodreads.  Lots of other books did not make the cut.  If I find time, I will definitely blog detailed reviews of the above books.

So many books, so little time.


Wanderlust – US Edition

These are the states I’ve visited since I came to the US in 2004.  I’m up to 42%.  Obviously, I can do better.  I’m looking forward to doing a cross country trip, and really explore.  I’m planning on visiting the national parks.

In marking a state, I should have stayed at least for a photo op (or for work or for a visit with relatives or friends).  For instance, I didn’t mark Colorado for an airport stopover in Denver.

My fave places so far – New York, NY /  San Francisco, CA / Newport, RI / Seattle, WA / Portland, OR / Minneapolis, MN / San Antonio, TX / Washington DC / Annapolis, MD / Grand Canyon, AZ / Gettysburg, PA / Luray, VA.

visited 21 states (42%)
Create your own visited map of The United States

Try this site out. And share your links in the comments. 🙂

Where I’ve been – Philippine Edition

I’ve been thinking a lot about where I’ve been.  I will soon be 30.  When I was young, I had elaborate dreams of traveling.  It got me to thinking how much I really miss the Philippines.  I saw this website, Lakbayan, and I inputed the places I remember having visited during my life in the Philippines (from 1981 through 2004, when I left for the US).  It yielded an interesting result – a C!

I really need to improve on this grade.  Maybe in the next few years, I’ll be able to save up the funds to do some serious traveling.  My 3 target places would be Palawan, Banaue Rice Terraces, and Mt Pinatubo

Though I wouldn’t mind re-visiting my favorite places in the Philippines – Bohol, Boracay, Tagaytay, and Batanes

And of course, I wouldn’t pass up the chance to really stay in two places – UP- Diliman and Iloilo.  These places have given me so many fond memories.  I realize I’m extremely fond of these places because of the food.  I really believe Iloilo has the best food.  Peppy Thai Deli in Jaro / Ted’s Lapaz Batchoy /  Tibs Rock / Elizabeth in Dumangas (fresh seafood) / Magpatao-hay in San Joaquin / Breakthrough and Tatoy’s in Villa / Buco Pie in Oton / Biscocho House / Afriques Pasta / Shellsyd Burger.  I could go on.  Of course, this is home for me.  My mouth waters.

And UP?  I spent 5 years there.   The university had really great cafeterias, offering diverse choices.  And the environs had varied offerings.  There’s Rodic’s in SC, Chocolate Kiss Cafe in Bahay ng Alumni, Beach House near the Main Libe, AS Canteen, Law Canteen, Burritos in UP Teacher’s Village, Ihaw1 and the Shawarma Stand in Philcoa, Mang Jimmy’s, Lutong Bahay and Lutong Kapit-bahay, and of course – the ever memorable Isaw and Fishballs (I still think the best one is in front of Kalayaan).  I’m sure I’ve missed a few more establishments, and I’m not even sure if some of these places still exist as of today.  But those tastes and smells and experiences, and the wonderful company of friends – those are still vivid in my mind.

Sheer nostalgic bliss.

My Lakbayan grade is C!

How much of the Philippines have you visited? Find out at Lakbayan!

Created by Eugene Villar.