Traveling with Meaning

800px-RO_BV_Brasov_train_station_interiorIt has been quite a while since the last time I wandered around somewhere all alone. Trying to get lost in a foreign place, without giving a single attention to anyone and anything.

With the booming leisure economy around the country, I too want to have new adventures as well.

But I don’t long for a trip that is meant to fill my Instagram feed. Some people may do. I don’t. I appreciate those who do so but that is never my thing.

The last time I had a meaningful adventure was the trip to Baduy territory in West Java. I led some yoga sessions by the river around Baduy Luar territory and inside the kampong of Baduy Dalam. I loved it so much because the sensation is so incomparable I cannot really describe the joy in my heart. We – a bunch of new friends and I – not only had experiences of living as Baduy people but also had a chance to spend a night and had a cordial talk with the kampong leader. And this was unbelievably awesome. Not so touristy but who cares? I want the experience.

In my view, travelling with meaning means the combination of all the following components.

Respect of local cultures

When I had a trip in Baduy territory, someone advised that we leave our modern self care products at home. We thus were not allowed to bring with us things like soaps, toothpaste, detergent, etc. Despite that, we were still allowed to bring along our gadgets so long as they were properly kept and unused inside our bags.

As we were having our meetup with the local chief, someone in my travel group also asked if it was possible to rent a full attire of Baduy. And that I think was a great idea. To have that rare, perhaps once in a lifetime, experience of living a life of a Baduy person in a single day is incredibly fascinating. At least for me. I do not mind washing my body with only water, without soap or any foamy substances, in the river near the housing complex of Baduy folks because the water is as pristine as I have ever seen. Ground or mud is still tolerable as the river flows well. No unorganic, hazardous chemical trash whatsoever. And the prohibition of self care products use is just fine with me. I definitely cannot live without modern self care products like lotion, soap, etc but it won’t kill me if I stay away from them for a while.

Blend in

To get the raw experience of traveling in a certain place, try spending more time at natives’ houses instead of inns, hotels, or another type of available accomodation available around you.

I had this rewarding experience when I spent the night and had a cordial dinner with local Baduy men. And it felt awkward to eat dishes they usually eat but we never ever had before. The taste was not exactly like my favorite dishes but hey, isn’t traveling the best moment to experiment with our too spoiled taste buds that have gone numb to a vast variety of flavors and ingredients available on earth?

Take risks and enjoy

Do you hate or fear risks? Well, who don’t? But again, traveling may be the best time to become more adventurous than you usually are. Do something out of our characters. Do things we generally avoid or loathe. It is the time to redefine your perceptions of the world around you. So make the most out of it!

Don’t lose your identity

Though it is okay to plunge into the lifestyle, culture, and mindset of the people around us while traveling, do not ever forget who we are, the values we believe in, the boundaries we promise to never pass, etc. It is tempting to go astray, with that “you only live once” dogma as an excuse. Avoid going home with a certain feeling of guilt that sets in and ruins the holiday mood.

As for me, as a practicing muslim no matter how adventurous I am, I will never ever want to eat pork and drink liquor and have sex with strangers under all circumstances.

Love your homeland more

Now that we like this new place a lot, it does not mean we can stay forever. This reminds me of living a life with zen. Seize the moment and then when the time comes, do let it all go wholeheartedly. And letting all go means after trips, go back to the routine as if you are living your dream life.

Interestingly, at times after any trips I find myself a little bit more appreciative and grateful with where I am now. Remember that peace and relief know no physical boundaries. They are in us. So do not treat traveling as an escapism method (though many of us do). Traveling is the method to live a life to its fullest. It is not an escape from life itself.

Learn about yourself

I like to travel to experience things. And I make notes on how I act and behave in certain situations. Especially under unexpected situations.

I was once lost in Shenzhen and felt frustrated enough as I had no hotel address and I lost some money as well, which was quite a shock to me. To add to the horrible moment, I do not speak Chinese Mandarin at all. The fear engulfed me for half an hour maybe until miracle happened. The tour guide came to my rescue.

Forge friendships

“I would rather walk with a friend in the dark, than alone in the light,” said historical woman figure Helen Keller. I cannot agree more.

Unlike many others, I do not like shopping very much. I am minimalistic and trying to be less materialistic, too. So instead of loading more baggage, I am loading more friendships.

When I went to Korea, I had this lady guide whose name is Rose Park. We knew each other as I was the one and only person in the group that she led at the time who spoke a little Korean. I love Korean and the culture so I had learned a few basic expressions that would be helpful to survive in case I get lost. As I got home after the trip, Ms. Park and I exchanged some emails. I expressed my gratitude in my heartfelt email I wrote her and she returned as well.

Getting to know new acquaintances is an important aspect in any journey that I take. There is more a sense of fulfillment in a trip that ends up with us having more new people in our friend list than, perhaps, more clothes in our wardrobe. (*/)

Learning Foreign Languages Is Very Romantic

“WHY English?”
I asked Prof. Shinichiro Torikai of Rikkyo University, Japan. We met last Friday and sat down together. An impromptu interview ensued and this question popped out. Just like that.

He replied:”Even today I love English because learning a language is like a romance. It is very romantic.” Though I am not clear as to why he said so, he continued. “I can meet more people and I can talk to them. They can talk to me. I can make many friends. For example, though I cannot speak Indonesian, I can speak English here and still make friends here, right?” He stated one of the best examples of being able to speak English. He just cannot stop learning and teaching English.

He only spent five days in Indonesia, which was barely enough to explore Jakarta, not to mention Indonesia! At his advanced age, I supposed he has visited Indonesia once or several times before. But he said this was the very first experience.

I’ve been always seeing Japanese folks as a very adventurous tribe. They travel a lot regardless of their age. They are keen and shrewd and meticulous and industrious as humans can possibly be.

On this trip to Indonesia, he was with his college-age son. Then I had a hunch he was married later in his life, which was quite normal and accepted in Japan. His son is enjoying the country and wants to go to college here (while some of Indonesians are eager to go to Japanese colleges and universities).

When I touched on several places to visit in the Indonesian archipelago, he mentioned about Bali. “It’s quite famous in Japan. A beautiful island with an indegenous people living on it. They have their original culture and language.

As an English learner and sometimes teacher, I too got curious about what he was trying to share with people in Indonesia. The scholar teaching at the 97-year-old private university in the downtown Tokyo said he shared his experience as an academician in regards with Teaching English as Second and Foreign Language in Japan, a country very well known for its strong and deeply rooted cultural identity. So strong the people find it hard to even absorb the most prevalent global phenomenon: English as the world’s lingua franca. As we all may know, Japanese people are not that into English learning. They simply think they won’t bother learning the so-called global language because Japanese alone would suffice in communication.

On one hand, this strong cultural identity is desired because it is so much easier for a nation to stay together. No wonder, Japanese people are relatively homogenous in comparison with Indonesia which consists of hundreds of distinct tribes scattered throughout the archipelago.

When I came to his lecture, Prof. Shinichiro was highlighting the difficulty of learning how to write Latin alphabets. Making shapes of letter as simple as B and D in small and upper case can be troublesome for Japanese learners as their first language does not reqire writing this type of alphabet. Indonesians like me do have an advantage that we speak and write Indonesian that adopts Latin alphabets. This fact allows us to transition more smoothly and efficiently to English communication mode. Several other challenges still remain but they are not as large as what Japanese learners have to deal with. Even Prof. Shinichiro praised Indonesian students’ English proficiency. “It (read: English teaching) is very successful. The students are very active and outgoing,” he commented.

So this is what encourages the professor to devise any possible ways to solve this issue. They have to be creative to teach the lessons without even frustrating students. In the 21st century, problems of English learning in Japan is becoming more complex than ever before. It’s not enough for students to master main skills such as writing, reading, speaking, and listening but they also now have to have a grasp of communicative skills, he argued.

“There has been now more emphasis on communication, not only reading, writing, etc. We used to teach reading a lot but now we teach more skills like speaking, presentation skills, listening. We try to foster these multiple skills so they can communicate better.” All this is aimed at opening more doors of opportunity for students to the world so they can have more options of career even outside their home country. This is what he refers to as English Education Reforms. (*/)

Light as Antidote of Writer’s Block

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WRITER’S block is always considered the culprit of every writer’s low productivity (I can imagine some of you nodding in agreement).

But regardless of the triggering cause(s) of writer’s block, what can we actually do about it aside from complaining at all times and blaming it on others?

Two Harvard scientists in 2004 told the world that getting rid of writer’s block is possible. How is it so?

By LIGHT.

So Alice Flaherty who works at Harvard Medical School as neurology instructor and Harvard psychologist Shelley Carson experimented with light to find out whether it can dispell writer’s block or not.

Why light in the first place?

In countries with four seasons, more people are seen to experience a decrease in productivity and originality. The two researchers likened this phenomenon to Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) which is getting more common and widepsread when days are becoming darker and colder. SAD can actually make humans depressed and less creative, which also translates to writer’s block.

The disorder can be healed by getting ourselves exposed to light. In the experiment, subjects were treated by means of light boxes (no sunlight is available in long winter; hence the artificial light sources). They sat in front of the light boxes so they can enjoy the light as if it had been from the sun.

As for me, my takeaway from this research that I won’t have to get myself a pricey light box in front of which I must sit patiently. That’s because I have the most effective, natural, free light source for this therapy: the sunlight!

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Reference:

The brains behind writer’s block

Online Privacy Made Easy: Cara Nggak Ribet Jaga Privasi Data di Internet

Jepretan Layar 2018-03-09 pada 18.47.47

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Privasi di dunia maya. Hoahm. Mendengarnya saja sudah membuat mengantuk. Ngaku aja.

Tapi memang mesti diakui topik bahasan ini kurang populer dibandingkan tema-tema lain yang lebih ‘merangsang’ seperti “bagaimana mendapatkan 1 juta follower di Instagram”, “menjadi trending topic di Twitter”, atau semacamnya.

Baru dianggap penting kalau sudah terkena dampaknya di kehidupan nyata. Misalnya, pernah menjadi korban online phishing atau akun media sosial pernah diretas orang sehingga tidak lagi bisa masuk ke akun sendiri dan si peretas yang jahil ini berpura-pura sebagai kita untuk meminjam uang dari orang-orang yang ada dalam daftar teman atau pengikut kita. Kalau sudah ‘tertimpa tangga’ seperti ini, barulah kita ngeh,”Njir, penting nih topiknya!!!”

Diberi kesempatan untuk berbicara sebagai keyholder di Mozilla Indonesia Community Space tanggal 19 Januari kemarin, saya ingin menandaskan bahwa memang topik privasi di era digital sekarang sudah sangat darurat. Apalagi untuk masyarakat Indonesia yang masih tergolong awam. Tak heran di sini isu ini masih dianggap mengawang-awang. Masyarakat masih dalam tahap ‘mabuk asmara’ dan ‘bulan madu’ dengan dunia Internet karena meskipun hidup masyarakat kita semakin dijajah oleh beragam metode dan produk digital, kita masih dalam fase adopsi awal sehingga masyarakat kita belum sepenuhnya sadar akan dampaknya. Dampak yang paling banyak dikeluhkan sampai saat ini ialah fenomena anak-anak yang makin kecanduan gawai. Beberapa teman yang di sekitar saya pernah mengeluhkan hal ini, bahwa anak mereka sudah begitu susah dipisahkan dari ponsel cerdas karena ponsel itu begitu adiktif dan mereka menolak terlibat dalam dunia nyata karena dunia maya lebih asyik. Tapi kembali lagi bagaimana orang tua memberikan disiplin bagi anak-anak mereka. Siapa suruh memberik gawai pada anak-anak yang belul akil balig padahal Bill Gates dan orang-orang di Silicon Valley saja menghindari memberikan gawai pada anak-anak mereka sebelum mencapai usia 13 tahun. Di Indonesia, malah anak-anak sejak dini dibiasakan dengan gawai seolah termotivasi dengan semboyan “makin dini, makin bagus”. Seolah ingin mencuri start. Padahal malah efeknya kontraproduktif untuk perkembangan anak itu.
Pertama-tama, kita perlu paham mengapa privasi di dunia maya itu penting bahkan wajib dijaga. Sederhananya, di Internet kita mempertukarkan banyak informasi pribadi, misalnya nama lengkap, alamat tinggal, kantor, nomor telepon, sampai ke data keuangan penting seperti nomor kartu kredit (yang bisa celaka jika diketahui orang karena rawan disalahgunakan), PIN, kata kunci, dan sebagainya. Dari pertukaran itu, ada jejak yang ditinggalkan dan jika ada pihak yang berniat kurang terpuji, kita bisa menjadi korban kejahatan digital. Ini hanya satu di antara begitu banyak alasan lain, seperti kerahasiaan identitas pengguna, dan sebagainya.

Alasan-alasan teresebut ditambah dengan kondisi di Indonesia yang masih jauh dari ideal. Isu online privacy masih belum populer untuk publik Indonesia. Pemerintah pun belum secara formal dan resmi mengakui isu ini dalam konstitusi, sehingga apapun yang terjadi nanti masyarakat harus siap menjadi korban akibat negara, penegak hukum dan aparat yang masih terseok-seok mengikuti perkembangan zaman. Pemerintah kita juga terbukti masih belum serius untuk menjaga privasi masyarakat yang dibuktikan dengan sejumlah skandal bocornya data E-KTP. (baca di sini)

Di tengah kondisi yang masih jauh dari ideal ini, kita sebagai pengguna Internet tidak bisa abai terhadap privasi data kita sendiri.

Caranya adalah dengan menerapkan sejumlah kiat di bawah ini.

Optimalkan Kekuatan Kata Kunci

Jika tidak mau privasi kita dilanggar begitu saja, logikanya kita mesti memagari rumah kita dengan baik. Makin kuat pagarnya dan makin kokoh gerbangnya, makin susah orang masuk begitu saja ke rumah kita tanpa izin. Sama saja dengan privasi kita di Internet. Kata kunci adalah pagar kita yang paling pertama. Jika kata kunci kita sangat mudah ditebak, jangan salahkan orang jika akun kita disalahgunakan.

Kalau kita disuruh membuat kata kunci yang susah ditebak, biasanya kita beralasan:”Nanti susah diingat!” Dan perlu dicamkan juga bahwa kata kunci untuk setiap akun di Internet harus berbeda. Nah, di sinilah Anda perlu menggunakan penyimpan kata kunci (password manager) yang tersedia. Hanya saja, diperlukan kecermatan untuk menyimpan semua kata kunci itu di satu akun password manager. Jangan sembarangan karena bisa-bisa semua kata kunci kita diketahui peretas. Kalau mau berusaha 100% aman, catat semua kata kunci kita di selembar kertas dan kita simpan dengan baik dan hanya kita sendiri (dan Tuhan) yang tahu. Namun, memang cara ini kurang praktis.

Kekuatan kata kunci akan makin baik jika kita mengaktifkan autentikasi 2 faktor, yakni dengan mengaitkan nomor ponsel dengan akun digital kita sehingga jika akun kita tertimpa peretasan, kita langsung bisa mengembalikan kontrol melalui pengiriman kode ke nomor ponsel yang terdaftar bersama akun. Karenanya, sangat penting untuk langsung memblokir nomor ponsel yang hilang atau dicopet agar si pencuri tidak bisa masuk ke akun-akun digital kita dan membuat kerugian makin besar dan tidak tertanggulangi lagi.

Berperilaku Cerdas di Media Sosial

Memakai media sosial memang enak. Gratis pula. Tapi jangan lupa dengan pengaturan privasinya! Mungkin Anda lupa bahwa jika tidak diatur, konten apapun yang kita uggah ke media sosial bisa dilihat oleh sembarang orang. Dan tidak semua orang memiliki itikad yang baik. Ada yang bisa dengan niat yang kurang baik mengaduk-aduk linimasa atau galeri Anda di media sosial dan menyalahgunakannya. Bisa saja foto pribadi Anda atau anggota keluarga yang di dalamnya diedit atau dipergunakan untuk tujuan yang buruk.

Berbagi boleh saja tetapi sedari bahwa terlalu banyak berbagi (oversharing) juga akan menimbulkan masalah baru. Mereka yang berniat buruk akan bisa dengan mudah mempelajari data Anda dan kemudian mengeksploitasinya. Misalnya, saat Anda ingin mengabarkan bahwa Anda akan terbang ke mancanegara, Anda mungkin akan terdorong untuk memamerkan tiket pesawat Anda. Padahal di dalam tiket tersebut ada barcode, nama lengkap Anda, dan alamat.

Gunakan HTTPS

Pernahkah Anda menjumpai tanda kunci gembok bernama hijau di sudut address bar peramban dan tulisan “https“? Nah, itu artinya Anda dalam koneksi yang relatif lebih aman daripada simbol kunci gembok berwarna hitam dengan tanda seru. (Lebih lengkap di sini).

Pahami Cara Kerja Kuki (Cookie)

Secara sederhana, “kuki” bisa diartikan sebagai data kecil yang disimpan dalam piranti (ponsel, komputer) anda apabila anda menjelajahi sesuatu laman web atau aplikasi. Kuki dimiliki oleh laman web atau aplikasi tertentu dan tidak boleh dibaca oleh orang lain. Baca lebih rinci mengenai bagaimana cara Anda bisa mengatur kuki di sini.

Gunakan VPN

Virtual Private Network (VPN) dapat didefinisikan sebagai bentuk teknologi yang memungkinkan pengguna web untuk mengakses internet jika tersambung dari lokasi-lokasi berbeda sehingga operator ISP/jaringan lokal tidak dapat memeriksa atau memfilter trafik dan setiap situs atau layanan lainnya akan melihat alamat IP yang berbeda-beda. Dengan VPN, kita bisa menjelajahi web dengan lebih aman karena anonim. Namun demikian, tidak semua layanan VPN yang gratis itu juga sepenuhnya aman dari pelacakan lho. Ada juga layanan-layanan VPN ‘nakal’ yang menyalahgunakan kepercayaan penggunanya.

Maksimalkan Penggunaan Firefox

Dalam peramban Mozilla Firefox, sudah ada banyak ‘senjata’ yang bisa kita pakai untuk mempertahankan privasi daring kita. Sebut saja:

  • Master password
  • Private browsing
  • Facebook Container
  • Do not track
  • Tracking protection
  • Lightbeam

Selengkapnya lihat salindia presentasi saya di sini. (*/)

One Sure Way to a Better Writing

1130px-Albert_Anker_Schreibendes_MC3A4dchen_1902RAISE your hand if you hate reading a book that frustrates more than entertains you.

Well, I’m no exception.

I’ve recently started reading Yuval Noah Hariri’s “Homo Deus”. And in spite of the buzz that this book is extremely cool (and thus reading this in public makes you look intelligent, critical and impressively updated), I still have to struggle to find enjoyment in reading it.

But then I realize that a book is supposed to be a main food for thought. And reading a good book is like feeding yourself a nutritious super food. It definitely makes you healthier and more alive than ever before.

So I came to the conclusion that a good book is also like a healthy food: it’s not as delicious as junk food but it offers numerous benefits in the ways we’ve never imagined.

The fact that I write for a living also pushes me to read not only good but great books. It’s more about enriching my vocabulary, strengthen my linguistic ‘muscles’ than keeping up with all the trends.

Yet, what happens now is that I – and a lot of us – am reading more online materials than great quality books. We read more trashy, clickbait articles that are produced or reproduced within minutes and fewer book that are very well thought and heavily edited and revised by experienced editors of major publishers.

And it’s no wonder that our linguistic skills including our writing skills just suck, getting rotten and rusty from day to day underuse.

If you’re a writer or copywriter or anyone working in the domain of language and creativity like me, chances are you’ll find your work or your sentences monotonous, boring and less enticing the more you consume ‘junk’ content every day.

It totally MAKES sense! If you read trash, you write trash as well!

Simply put, to write better, watch your reading materials. Make sure you consume good quality materials.

And science even justifies this!

A study by the University of Florida and published in International Journal of Business Administration revealed that people who read only online content (social media content and popular online news outlets with less quality) have the lowest score in their writing complexity than people who read journal articles or great quality fictional works such as novels written by critically acclaimed authors.

What is ‘writing complexity’ we are discussing here? There’re many factors that show someone’s ability to produce advanced and complex structures in writing. This complexity may encompasses lengths of sentences that one produces, how sophisticated someone’s choice of word (diction) is, and so forth.

Complexity of writing sometimes does NOT necessarily mean you have to write lengthy sentences that confuse readers. Making complex yet efficient sentences means we are able to tactfully organize more than one ideas in a sentence without being lengthy. We just have to make sure that every word is impactful enough to be there. Each word has its own reason to be in a sentence.

What is interesting to note is that this is irrespective of duration. That means it’s not about how many hours you spend, but more about the quality of reading materials you consume on daily basis. Those who have better writing skills admitted they only spent several hours a week reading quality materials instead of online stuff that is packed with listicles, clickbaits, or hoaxy and sensational news items.

And because writing is a type of communication, this rule also applies in speaking skills learning. Someone who wants to master better speaking skills must also try to listen to great quality oral materials.

I know that not all online content available is bad for our writing skills development. But if you’re a writer or someone who earns a living by writing, please take this piece of advice: “Read well-written things”. A co-author of the study mentioned some of the best online news outlets such as “The Economist” or “Wall Street Journal” or “New Yorker” magazine but in my opinion well-written and well-edited books, be it non-fiction or fiction, are still the best option.

And because I’m Indonesian, I can translate the advice to this: Read more “Majas Kreatif” or “Tempo” magazine and less Detik.com, IDNTimes.com, Brilio.co, Tempo.co (yes, the online channel of Tempo just displays cheesy and racy clickbaits), Viva.co.id, Merdeka.com, TribunNews.com, Suara.com, OkeZone.com, etc. (*/)

 

Will Writers Be Replaced by Artificial Intelligence (AI)?

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Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

As Artificial Intelligence (AI) is increasingly intruding our civilization, everyone from every job sector seems to be frantic and anxious right now.

“Will I be replaced by a robot?”

“Will I lose my current job in the near future to a machine?”

“Will I be jobless because of all this AI trend in my industry?”

Regardless of your professions, these questions are haunting us.

As a writer myself, I also share the same worry with you all, people.

Wired.com took an optimistic view towards the issue by stating that “Narrative Science” is not going to replace journalists/ reporters with AI/ robots. Both can be hopefully complimenting each other if humans want to.

It says:

In 20 years, there will be no area in which Narrative Science doesn’t write stories.”

Still cited from Wired.com, we are also ensured that AI is actually useful for journalists but can never replace human journalists and editors for their more strategic decision making tasks.

But this technology seems to have taken over only some of the grunt work.

Undoubtedly, the development of AI in journalism and writing is intriguing and inevitable but only time can decide how it evolves in the next 10, 20, or 30 years from now.

But, here’s the thing. Imagine our news outlets are dominated by AI-generated content, which shows no empathy, no humane feelings, and to some extent, opinionated-ness. How dry is a piece of news written by a robot that has no past memories, beloved ones, or people they despise so much? You get my point.

So the good news for us writers is NOT ALL jobs will be replaced that easily by Artificial Intelligence. There’re four (4) types of occupation that are predicted to be impossible to be replaced by AI in the future.

Kai-Fu Lee – as quoted from his writeup in Times magazine this month – mentioned four types of irreplacable jobs in the modern history of humanity:

  1. Creative jobs: In creative processes, there’ll be no clear and rigid objectives.
  2. Complex, strategic jobs: You’ll see people like business executives, diplomats, economists here.
  3. Jobs created by AI and thus currently non-existent: Only God knows how this is going to be like.
  4. Empathetic and compassionate jobs: Good news for teachers, nannies, doctors! You all are indispensable workforce in the 21st century.

Fellow writers, we fall into the first category!

But don’t be too happy. If you’re a writer that only reports what you see (like what a conventional 20th century reporters did) or a churnalist (a pseudo journalist that merely rewrites other people’s work), you’re certainly going to be sacked sooner or later. And even if you can survive, you’ll be really suffering due to the crazily, inhumanely low salary and wage.

Don’t do the grunt work!

Don’t just compile facts!

Don’t just type and publish to get clicks or page views!

Be a creative writer that produces something worthwhile a robot, algorithm, application, software, or AI can never ever manage to create easily without humans’ assistance.

 

References:

https://www.wired.com/2012/04/can-an-algorithm-write-a-better-news-story-than-a-human-reporter/

https://www.wired.com/2017/02/robots-wrote-this-story/

This Is Why We Naturally Feel Happier After Taking Photos on Trips

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Taking photos while traveling is a common practice, even an addiction among travelers. But to what extent does taking photos benefit us in experiencing our golden life moments? (Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons/ Nils Öberg)

There’re moments when I’m traveling I would be so enthusiastic I forget taking pictures. As a yoga practitioner, I’m told that being so immersed in your positive experience means that you just have to forget taking pictures. Because taking pictures is deemed a distraction of my genuine experience. Also, I see some friends who are going somewhere just to take pictures for their Instagram feeds instead of experiencing things around them: nature and themselves. So why ruining our life moments with taking photos that are just shown for the sake of impressing other people?

That was what I used to think of taking pictures during travels. But finally our addiction of taking photographs while we’re on travel is justified by science.

Cited from American Psychological Association, scientists found that those who like taking photographs of their experiences usually enjoy the events more than people who don’t. A team of scientists from the University of Southern California, Yale University and the University of Pennsylvania discovered how taking photos impacts our enjoyment of life experiences. Compared to those who don’t take photos, those who do feel heightened enjoyment of positive exxperiences.

So how could this happen?

The explanation is this: taking photos helps us boost engagement in our activities we’re doing. And I can see that some of those who are enthusiastically document their experiences in photos are more enthusiastic and engaged. They look more motivated and high in spirits.

However, it’s not all about good news. There’re times when taking photos just won’t be advantegous to us as it is dependent on types of activities we’re involved in. If the activity is more about arts and crafts, chances are we’d better avoid taking photos to be more engaged in the experience. This totally makes sense. How can you enjoy making, let’s say, a vase with your hands if you’re always taking photos?

What is interesting is also the size and practicaility of the equipment of photography. Cumbersome cameras will slow down us on a trip and definitely less easy to use on the go.

The final conclusion is our documenting should not just about taking pictures with cameras. We also need to get actively involved and decide selectively as to which moments are worth documenting and which are not.

The researchers also touched on the importance of taking ‘mental photographs’, meaning that we so actively participate in whatever we’re doing we cannot forget all of experiences in it. So, again this is not always about how many clicks of camera shutter in your hands but more about engagement and participation with your mind, body, and soul. (*/)

Why Apples and Green Tomatoes May Be The Ideal Vegan Replacement for Your Whey Protein

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Thinking that only red meat can grow your muscles? Wait until you read through this.

Two natural substances (ursolic acid and tomatidine) found in apples and green tomatoes apparently can make your as strong as Popeye. They may help us combat aging processes in our muscles. As we all know, as our age advances, we lose more and more muscle mass.

This is a finding that scientists had after an experiment involving mice. Old mice that fed on apples and green tomatoes are known to have a higher muscle mass (10% higher) which enables them to be 30% stronger than their counterparts with no such fruit consumption.

Most of us may find out that muscles get weak and their strength decline as we grow older. And this means elderly people are more vulnerable to less quality of life. They should be able to lead an independent and productive life at an advanced age with sustained muscle mass.

Even if you’re not an elderly and young enough in your twenties or thirties, benefits of the two compounds are still existent. Eating apple peel and green tomatoes helps you replenish your muscle mass and strength, which may make both produces an ideal pre and post workout meal.

The research was conducted by Christopher Adams, who teaches internal medicine in the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine and senior study author. He founded Emmyon, Inc., a biotechnology company which worked in partnership with the University of Iowa.

BodybuildingWomanWe know the trend now that more and more people are told by advertisers that the more protein they consume, the better their physique and health would be. But that is not always the case because overconsumption of protein supplement such as protein powder can bring us more risks of health destruction than improvement. Cited from Harvard Medical School, protein powders may contain added sugar, calories, or even toxic chemicals. Which totally makes sense because they are artifically produced by humans.

Apples and tomatoes are different especially the organic ones as they are less likely to have such disadvantageous substances.

So, are you ready to replace that protein powder and whey protein with more FRESH fruits and vegetables? (Source: University of Iowa)

Finding Vegan Pho in Jakarta

I have developed a heavy aaddiction of vegan pho (Vietnamese noodles) recently. Jakartan weather has been getting frigid and polar-like in some way, with intermittent downpour and ….perpetual drizzle.
But because I’m living in Jakarta, Indonesia, there’s no way I can get the palatable food easily.
The first time I ate pho (the real pho made in Vietnam by Vietnamese chef) is when I visited  Vietnam in 2015 and I simply fell in love with it. Pho might be the equivalent of Indonesian soto. It’s anywhere to find in its country of origin and super affordable.
Yet, as I live in Indonesia, the price of pho is of course so un-cheap. This Vietnamese food chain outlet named Madame Mai at Lotte Shopping Avenue I found here in Jakarta sells vegan pho that I really like. Just because it tastes so fresh and warm in the belly..
One ingredient that I seriously get addicted to is the herbs that I can just add liberally and generously and guiltlessly. Seventh heaven!