Books For GiveAways

I'm giving these books for FREE -- but only to people I know. :-) I'll mark them each week to indicate the ones already reserved for somebody else. I'll also indicate if I've added new ones.

I think I've given/sold three times the amount of books here. But I'm through with trying to sell them. As Jho once said, "Books are meant to be shared." :-)

Images: Books1, Books2

The Seat of the Soul – Gary Zukav

Dark Nights of the Soul – Thomas Moore

Three Junes – Julia Glass

A Man Named Dave – Dave Pelzer

A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry

The Power of Myth – Joseph Campbell (taken)

How Full is Your Bucket – Tom Rath and Donald Clifton

Neverwhere – Neil Gaiman (taken)

Love in the Time of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez (taken)

Life of Pi – Yann Martel (taken)

David Copperfield – Charles Dickens

Seabiscuit – Laura Hillenbrand

Black Hawk Down – Mark Bowden

White Teeth – Zadie Smith

Sula – Toni Morrison

Song of Solomon – Toni Morrison

Jewel – Brett Lott

The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife, The Amber Spyglass – Philip Pullman (taken)

The Light Ages – Ian R MacLeod

The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitgerald

The Sun Also Rises – Ernest Hemingway

Spin – Robert Charles Wilson

House of Sand and Fog – Andre Dubus III

Walden – Henry David Thoreau

Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert

American Gods – Neil Gaiman

All the Pretty Horses – Cormac McCarthy

The Book of Ruth – Jane Hamilton

Snow Falling on Cedars – David Guterson

The Other Wind – Ursula Le Guin

Stones From the River – Ursula Hegi

Dragon Wing – Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman

Interview with a Vampire – Anne Rice

The Queen of the Damned – Anne Rice

Curses! – Aaron Elkins

Siddhartha – Hermann Hesse

Tropic of Cancer – Henry Miller

War of the Worlds – H.G. Wells

The Red Pony – John Steinbeck

Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream – Harold Bloom

Invisible Man – Ralph Ellison (taken)

Mister God, This is Anna – Fynn (taken)

A Wrinkle in Time – Madeleine L’Engle

A Time to Kill – John Grisham

* UPDATE: People ask, so here's my explanation: My (tall, but narrow) bookshelf is quite full. And I want to free up some space to welcome more books. So, a book should either be a favorite or be of some use to me; else, it must go. Also, some are a bit dilapidated so I plan to replace them if my resources allow. Last, I don't want to reduce the value of these books by selling them at a very low price, so I've decided to give them to people who might actually love to have them. :-)
Voter's ID
Monday Feb 18, 2008

Two months have passed since my stolen wallet. But besides the money (P4K), I still regret the loss of my voter's ID. Granted that it's my worst "mugshot", but still: Not every voter in the Philippines could have it even if they wanted to.

It's a mystery that some get it while others don't. And no one knows what agency to go to to get one.

Do you?

Matalino o Masaya?

Tuesday Feb 19, 2008

"Anong gusto mo maging, matalino o masaya?" G~ blurted out of nowhere.

"Masaya," I replied, not a moment after.

"Talaga? Kahit tanga ka?" said A~ just as fast.

My mind reeled, and after a significant pause I said, "Well, kung masaya ka, di mo rin siguro alam na tanga ka. Kung hindi, eh di hindi ka na masaya nun."

I don't know about the other two, but I felt the impact of my own words right after I said them. It's a pity that when I look at the most logical -- and I mean people with sound minds and great character -- some of them tend to feel unhappy and alienated. While the idiots who just don't analyze the quality of their reasoning tend to be happy existing as badly as they do.

I don't want to generalize. And I don't want to be negative. But there's something in here: that sometimes a great mind can even be a barrier to happiness.

Workplace Dilemma

Wednesday Feb 20, 2008

"Gusto mo ba mag-work sa ?" said J~.

"Hindi," I blurted. "Ah, hindi," I countered. "Ewan ko. Malay mo."

Oh no. I'm in deep shit. It seems that deep inside I do not want to apply at one of the highest-paying IT company in the country. (And I'm not saying that they'd want to take me even if I did apply.) I have some inside info on how it might be like to work there, and it's good in many ways. But still, something inside me says I don't want to apply. (I have my thoughts on why I feel this way, but I'm not sure of it. It's like the reasoning after the fact of the feeling.)

Define, A Handy Google Feature

Thursday Feb 21, 2008

Did you know you could do this with google: "define: ". Handy, isn't it? Now I don't always have to go to the slow-loading (I think their ads are at fault with that.)

ClawDaddy Crab House Buffet at Shang
Friday Feb 22, 2008

I was really looking forward to ClawDaddy again. We had a nice buffet, with soup, salad, roast pork, and of course, a load of crab (pun intended). They don't tell you this, but they vary the buffet. Before, we had barbecued pork instead of roast. There was also pasta, but now we have spiced rice, beans, creamy corn or spinach. Previously, the crab was cooked in oil and garlic; now they were boiled with corn and potatoes. They also have deserts and some fruit like a pineapple or a watermelon maybe. Like all buffets, it was a feast. For the unrestrained food lover, ClawDaddy's buffet is something that's worth going for. Price: ~P750 each for the buffet and drinks.

Accepting Scratch Papers for Donation
Saturday Feb 23, 2008
I like printing articles from the web. So to my friends who have some spare scratch papers, hey, your garbage is exactly my treasure.

Book Review: Dark Nights of the Soul
Sunday Feb 24, 2008

Dark Nights of the Soul
by Thomas Moore

Dark Nights of the Soul is a wordy book. I had not read it as much as skimmed my way through it. Against his Care of the Soul, there were fewer metaphors and symbolisms that grabbed me, so I had very few a-ha moments while reading it. There were examples of people who have gone through a dark night, but I still didn't connect with them -- as if Moore was only speaking of generalities. The book feels more like a long essay, containing feelings rather than advice for self-help to his readers.

There are some gems, though. The chapters on Life's Ironies and on Creativity were a good read. And if only for these two parts of the book, then I have to say that the book is a keeper in my personal library.

Here's a small preview of what you will find:

"What is needed is not pretense but complexity. You don't hide your suffering, you weave it tightly into the whole fabric of your life and personality."

"You finally discover that it is not good to spend your life trying to be good and aligning yourself with virtuous people of the world. It might be better to avoid that divided self altogether and instead simply live with compassion for yourself and others. You are not perfect and you never will be."

"And so we are left with a great battle, not between good and evil, but between really living and just pretending."

Nice eh? :)

Sudden Feelings of Listlessness

Doing Weekly Posts
Monday Feb 11, 2008

Filler post: I'm doing weekly posts. I write at least one paragraph a day, give myself some time to realize grammatical errors, and then have all seven of them posted at the same time. I wonder how long I can keep this up. I guess not for long. :P

Cocorama at Shang
Tuesday Feb 12, 2008

Lunch was at Cocorama, Shangri-la mall, Mandaluyong. We ordered porkchop, bento, and chicken alfredo. Their food was ok. It's a resto you can go to if you're tired of the usual. And they have large servings. The iced tea tastes like real tea (as opposed to the iced teas in fast foods here), which I like. The pancake that came with the bento was delicious. And if there's something I'd look forward to next time, it will be a taste of their choco pancake. Price: P300-P500 per person.

Studied Like Crazy
Wednesday Feb 13, 2008

Four-day Workweek?
Thursday Feb 14, 2008

I'm starting to think that I'm more efficient if I work only four work days in a week. What are the consequences of that thought? I'd rather not think for now.

Brother's Van
Friday Feb 15, 2008

I thought we weren't gonna make it. But we did. My parents boasted that this second-hand van can climb the steep road that we regularly take. Not only that, it really saves on gasoline. So ok, ok, I'm convinced. I could use this van for practice when I take driving lessons this March.

Studied Like Crazy
Saturday Feb 16, 2008

Sudden Feelings of Listlessness
Sunday Feb 17, 2008

Does this ever happen to you: You've made plans, so in your head you've figured everything's gonna be alright, then a day after that you suddenly feel lost again, for no apparent reason. When this happens, I grab my books and scan for anything I might do to feel... something else. They're like my prozac or something, haha.

Uncaring, Coños, Dogs, Religion, Java, Balloons, and the Wisdom of Crowds

Remind Me Not to Care
Monday Feb 4, 2008

In my Yahoo Messenger status, I wrote, "my ny resolution: be irresponsible >:)". Why? Because I am too approachable and helpful at work. I volunteer too much information and, with it, my precious time. People tend to ask help too often, and then I'd feel abused. So now I answer questions briefly. The way I speak and my body language says, "Do not ask me if you can figure it out yourself." I don't know what this will do to my (supposedly) pleasant personality, but I'm feeling a lot better.

Aside: an officemate's remark on that YM status: "sex with a stranger." *LOL*

Earth Swallow Me Na
Tuesday Feb 5, 2008

"Earth swallow me na." The guys at work used this expression to tease a coño (suppossedly, but she's not. Long story). It brought the house down, haha.

In my opinion, the Filipino use of the term coño does not have anything to do with being rich or well-to-do, although no one will call you coño if you're like gusgusin. (Did you catch that one?) It's in the way the language is used and abused. Coños over-use "pa" and "na" after English statements: "Wait for me na" or "I'm gonna eat pa". And if this isn't enough bastardization of the language, they also like to mix-and-match English and Filipino words that result in, hmmm, quite creative usage. A girl guiding her dad as he parks the car says, "Atras pa, atras...Stop! Atras the other way."

Worst of all, does it have to sound (pa)cute? I know Americans don't speak that way, and neither do ordinary Filipinos. I just hate it. It makes me want to yell, "Umayos ka!"

I'd rather that people speak to me in solid English or Filipino sentences. Or if in Taglish, just not with that ornery tone these people use.

I know: live and let be. But I (stubbornly) just don't like it. It's a pet peeve. And I'm entitled to have one.

Saved a Dog's Life
Wednesday Feb 6, 2008

Two of my dogs attacked a small, white, fluffy dog. Both of their toothy mandibles were gnawing the shrieking animal. I splashed water, motioned grievous threats with my hard slippers, and gave stout reprimands until the hapless dog was able to limp away.

Think for Yourself
Thursday Feb 7, 2008

Religions should teach people to think for themselves...

But the better thing to do is to think for yourself no matter what other people or institution say. Don't try change your religion...they change when less and less people like them.

So easy to say.

I Admit, I'm Not Thinking Clearly
Friday Feb 8, 2008

I know that not getting a job first is stupid. But I want, want, want that Java certification. Getting a job first will only take that focus away from me. Some people say that getting certified doesn't matter. But I want, want, want that Java certification. I just have to have it.

And I don't have to justify why, because it's certain that every reason can be countered. I just want it. Want, want, want it.

Balloon Festival
Saturday Feb 9, 2008

The Weekend of Everything That Flies didn't get off the ground this morning as strong winds prevented the organizers from blowing the balloons.

I just got a whiff of how cool it could have been. I'm definitely going back next year.

Halfway into The Wisdom of Crowds
Sunday Feb 9, 2008

I was able to buy a hardbound copy of The Wisdom of Crowds yesterday at half the price. Today, I got to read half of it, so I can't say much yet. So far, it was as interesting as I expected it to be.

Article: In the Valley of the Shadow of Faith: A Renewed Approach to Doubt

By Selfshift.

I do not write for those who are sure of faith,
But for the confused - those whose thoughts
Are fingers that scratch the dirt for some promise
Of ease from the hunger for understanding,
Whose emotions churn desperately for revelation,
And whose own light is continually seen dark.

A Vast Plain of Unknowing
There is so much we do not know. Our physical unknowing is as big as the universe. Our mental unknowing is as deep as each person’s thought. Our spiritual unknowing is as abstract as our unknowing of God 1.

We are uncomfortable in our unknowing. Much of our unknowing, however, is irrelevant to our day-to-day lives; thus relieving us from this discomfort. But during difficult times, our unease becomes palpable. As days go by, it grows in strength. And as this feeling becomes a habit -- a part of our way of life -- we begin to feel our lives spiraling loose of its meaning. Until finally, the full-force of our unknowing hits us, coming to us as the big questions we have tried to evade or set aside, such as, "Does God exist?" "Why is there suffering in the world?" “What is my spiritual path?” These questions are what religions -- or any form of philosophy that deals with such questions -- seek to answer.

A Call to Faith Under the Pain of Doubt
All philosophies that attempt to answer the big questions are a call to faith. Religion is a call to faith. And if you have an individualized path, it is also a call to faith. But let’s face it. The answers to the big questions can be questionable themselves. More than certainty, what these philosophies espouse is a call to soul -- a resonance from deep within your being of truth. (Author’s note: I consider truth as multi-faceted and kaleidoscopic. Recall the story of the three blind men describing an elephant.)

For many religions their version of truth is absolute and inviolable. When we were children, we can but only accept these truths unquestioningly. It is unfortunate that we had also accepted the judgments associated with doubting these truths. When we doubt, we deem ourselves unworthy and even deserving of some punishment.

Doubt, then, becomes a burden, moreso because it cannot be flushed away. It is alive. It explores avenues we would rather not delve into. It creates emotional pain and confusion.

It also does not help that when we convey our doubts to others, we realize that they themselves are incapable of handling doubt. They shift in their seats, and they reply evasively. Or they may just dismiss our sentiments rudely and abruptly. Worst, they may hold their image of us as dangerous and heretical.

The easy availability of a plethora of philosophical and religious ideas can also deepen our agony: We tend to become defensive of our faith when it brushes against other people's faiths. But when our exasperation with our doubts escalates, we begin to wish for the kind of illumination and peace that others have. In this setting, doubt creates a barren valley surrounded by mountains of faith, along with all their peak experiences. There is the enlightenment of Buddhism, the nirvana of the Hindus, the sainthood of the Christians, and the oneness of the Taos 2. The testaments of their followers tower over us, with our doubts only pulling us down.

There is More to Doubt
With all the pain and confusion, we tend to forget that the faith we have may not be ours. Faith is not the acceptance of unchallenged beliefs simply because they were all we knew when we were growing up. And even if we have changed beliefs during our lifetime, our personal declaration of faith is still not equivalent to having the faith itself. A shaker of foundations, doubt asks each one of us to be honest: "Do you really believe in what you say? Is your faith already yours? Or worse, is your faith misplaced? Others have faith because they know at their core that it is true. But do you?"

We can perceive at this point that doubt, though seemingly undesirable, has surprisingly presented itself with a gift: honesty in our declaration of faith. Doubt has been strongly associated with the negative, the undesirable, but we can re-vision our idea of doubt into something positive. Using psychological terms, doubt is faith's shadow. And like all psychological shadows, if we are willing to look, there is at the end some gold.

The Gifts of Doubt
Doubt's gifts come in the form of a deeper understanding of the nature of faith. Consider these gifts that it has to offer:

First -- as we have been keen to realize -- doubt demands honesty in our faith. This gift of doubt, however, would be hard to accept when our doubts trigger judgments and fears, simply because no one can figure out this faith-and-doubt puzzle except ourselves.

Second, faith defers to experience. Joseph Campbell once said, “I do not need faith. I have experience.” Faith is nothing if our experience is opposite to our faith. There are times when our personal experiences seem to test our faith. But we must be willing to consider the opposite view as well: that maybe our experience calls for us to change our beliefs. In this situation, we must have the discipline and patience to assess our beliefs and experiences. And this experience is not limited to outer experience, which is based on the five senses. It also includes inner experience. Without the resonance of faith in our soul, we become blind followers, devoid of the spirituality that our faith is supposed to give us.

It might also be argued, "But my faith creates my experience and not the other way around." As long as we have the experience of faith creating our experience -- be mindful of the play of these words -- then we do not stray from the core of what the second gift of doubt is all about.

Third, there is a harmonious exchange between doubt and faith. In this regard, there is a need to go beyond the semantic meaning of doubt and faith as antonyms. There is always room for doubt in faith; and faith and doubt can co-exist. The line that separates faith and doubt, in this aspect, is blurred. Because if faith defers to experience and if in our experience there are so many things we do not know, then almost everything in our faith is open to doubt. Bertrand Russell had once stated that "nothing...can disprove the hypothesis that the world began five minutes ago" along with our memories of "a wholly unreal past." It seems that our faith has a lot going against it.

But in all practicality, we hold to our versions of faith. It is needless to doubt everything in our lives. For example, what would it mean to doubt gravity? Gravity is here now, but it doesn't mean it would be here forever. So why be sure that it will be here tomorrow? This kind of questioning is basically pointless because we cannot go about our daily lives wondering if gravity will fail us the next moment. How much more when it is applied to our faith, which is almost always likened to the ground from which we stand on? Is it not also pointless to doubt everything about it?

There is practicality involved in the tug between faith and doubt. The way we lead our lives, our goals, and the purposes that have been set up for us are all important on what we decide to cast doubt upon and on what we decide to have faith on.

Fourth, doubts, when stripped of judgment, are merely questions. Perhaps this is the most important gift of doubt. Questions tear our walls of limitations. Questions invite growth. Isn't it revealing that when children ask questions about anything, even about faith, that we see the child's restless curiosity, his/her openness to knowledge, and his capability to wonder. Interestingly enough, doubt is not uncomfortable in its unknowing, but instead finds in mystery a source of dynamic delight.

Honoring Our Doubts
Looking at these gifts, it is only right that we honor the place of doubt in our lives. When doubts surface, doubts surface -- repression is anathema to doubt. For most of us, there is no longer an associated danger with the expression of doubt, so there is also no need for us to condemn, box, and hide it. Doubt's liberation from morality and judgment is dependent upon our honest evaluation of ourselves and of doubt's effect on our social environment. Is it the intention of doubt to cause us or other people pain and confusion? The gifts of doubt strongly answer, "No!" Doubt opens us to growth, and most of us need this growth. But to grow is to change. And pain and confusion come about by any change, any metamorphosis. We cannot forcefully stunt our growth just to protect other people from inconvenience.

In our religious literature, doubt is oftentimes expressed as a means to an end and not as an end in itself; doubts are valid if and only if it serves to affirm the faith in the end. This approach, used to advance the agenda of a particular faith, is, however, antithetical to the very existence of doubt when applied to our personal experience. We cannot preclude doubt's questions with an answer we cannot yet accept. Again, this is merely a result of doubt encumbered with judgment. To free the gifts of doubt, we must loosen our grip from our intellectually predetermined answers.

For most of our doubts, our questions, there is no answer. We should always be cautious of answers anyway, because they are limiting and confining. But we need not feel lost; because in finding the answers, we can still have faith in ourselves, in our critical thinking, and in our evaluation of our experiences. We can figure the answers out, or if not, we can figure out how to live with the questions -- which can only happen if we accept doubt as our inner capacity to see the mystery and spirit inherent in the universe.

Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart. And try to love the questions themselves.” -- Rainer Maria Rilke

1. The term “God” is used here in an abstract sense, not necessarily the monotheistic Christian God, and can refer to any other terms such as The Universe, God and/or Goddess, All That Is, and any of the polytheistic deities worshipped in any religion.
2. Of course, there are many other peak experiences not mentioned here.

Synchronicity: Four Signs of Yeats

Consider these three movies:
  • Bridges of Madison County
  • Million Dollar Baby
  • Runaway Bride
I watched these movies for the first time last weekend. What's weird is that they all have Yeats: there's one hardcover book of his on each movie, and lines were read from these books.

So, ok, that's strange, but there's no need to get Paulo Coehlo-ish on the whole thing. There's no "message", nothing literal nor symbolic. Maybe there's lots of movies with Yeats. And maybe, given the number of people watching these movies, someone's bound to consecutively watch three movies with Yeats on it.

The thing is, it didn't end there. I took a work leave today, watched House, the TV series, and saw someone reading a book of poems in one scene. I can't see the title, not yet at least, but as the camera zoomed out, a feeling crept over me -- no, it couldn't be. Don't tell me that those blurry curly letters spells out that name. No. Oh yes, it's w-b-y-e-a-t-s! That was a bit unnerving.

If only a close friend wasn't raving about the topic of signs yesterday, if only I hadn't glanced at this newspaper column, aptly titled "When signs are ignored", not a minute after I watched that TV scene, then I would have had this experience filed away in some hard-to-reach compartment in my mind.

What are coincidences anyway? Aren't they just disparate events, bound by probability to eventually occur, and yet people attach to them some rare significance, some meaning. I think that if synchronicity does help people, then it won't hurt to try and use them, maybe like feng shui or astrology. But I'm not a strong fan of it. Its not as if I already found a soulmate or got lucky financially because of some fortunate sequence of inexplicable events. And yet, imagine this: what would it mean if synchrnonicity is actually true? And what would it mean if it actually isn't? I like playing with these kind of ideas, which makes synchronicity my kind of intangible toy. No one can prove synchronicity for all humanity. We only have our individual experiences either as controvertible proof or contrary testament. Synchronicity will always be in the margin of truth and untruth. There will be no way to ascertain it, no way that someone could scientifically expunge the mystery. It could be our dearest possesion if we want to believe in it. Hmm...I think I like that. I think I really do.

Yeats, I yield. Consider your book bought.

This Blogger Found a New Apartment


Last Monday I moved-in to another apartment. It's modest, but it was more than I hoped for (and more expensive than what I'm actually eager to pay, but hey, that's life).

I chose this apartment for these reasons:
  • security: the owners open the gate themselves
  • time: takes 15 minutes from the time I leave my door to the time I log-in to the office
  • food: easily accessible grocery store and fast-food
  • people: owners and tenants seem to treat each other like family
  • privacy: a room all to myself

I like this apartment for these reasons:
  • relatively new: about a year old
  • tiled floor: easy to clean
  • halogen lights and small chandelier
  • lots of shelf space
  • bamboo design on the bathroom tiles*
  • 6th-floor penthouse view!
  • old friends to invite over (like this weekend, wahoo! )
* as you can see from this blog's recent sidebar, I like bamboos
apartment-night apartment-ceiling apartment-bathroom-tile apartment-view1 apartment-view2