Wednesday, July 16, 2008

This is unacceptable

Sixteen innocent stingrays died today in Chicago's Brookfield Zoo as a result of thermostat malfunctions. You'll discover in the article that this is not the first time an "accident" happened in the Brookfield Zoo this year. This is also not the first time an inhumane incident such as this happened to stingrays. Also this year, two stray bears were shot in the middle of the city of Chicago.

I have respect for the staff in Brookfield Zoo and I believe that nobody wanted this to happen. However, I hope this will educate us to be more careful, more vigilant in caring for animals. Just imagine a human being suffering slowly in the heat the same way those stingrays suffered. Dare to imagine that!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Life is beautiful

Year 2007 was a year of changes. New people, new events came into play in shaping our family's life. Here's a recap:

- Patrick and I spent our first full year with our cat, Shadow. Indeed, Shadow is not a human baby, but she is loved all the same if not more. In May, she turned 6 years old, for which we threw a birthday party among our nearest and dearest. We got for her a special china with 18-karat gold lettering and some irresistable kitty caviar. For all her charm, sweetness and wits, she deserves all the spoiling she gets.

- In February, I started a new career in an independent book publisher near Chicago. Many of you sent warm congratulations and encouragement--thank YOU. This new job has been an enriching experience, as you had probably guessed when I first announced it. I read and sell books for a living. For a seven-year-old, that's like going to Disneyland everyday.

In this job, I am surrounded by talented and motivated people. I found a mentor in my manager, a friend in my colleagues, and an inspiration in our books. I often hear that the life of salesman is lonely, but I find that on the contrary. I travel, I read, I talk. Because of these, my job has become a journey in and with myself. And this journey is splendid from every angle.

- In June, I visited my friend Diane in NY, thanks to a free business trip. It had been so long since I last saw a friend from Manila. When I saw her, I felt somehow that I had a glimpse of home. I also finally met her Christian, after all those years of hearing about him. Thanks to those two for making time.

- In August, Patrick and I went on a much-needed vacation to Washington state. While we were there, we visited his relatives who live in the countryside. There we experienced the Emerald State at its finest: an uphill walk lined by fresh grass, rows and rows of pine trees, trees thick as cotton everywhere you look. The wind was so fresh and uninhibited, Uncle Bob and Aunt Julie had their windows open all day--and this was in the summer! They have six kids from ages 2-18, and three pets. You can only imagine the ruckus in their household, but there was laughter every minute. I am visiting Seattle this month for business and I am definitely paying that bunch a visit.

- September was a defining month for our family. Patrick was offered two lucrative out-of-state jobs: one in Seattle and another in Dallas. He had long been looking for a satisfying job where he can finally use his experience. He opted for Dallas. I thought it was a well-deserved promotion and indeed the new job has done him well. He finally smiles everytime I ask him, "How's work today honey?"

- I was barely home here in Chicago in the latter parts of the year. In November, we went on a short vacation to drive down to Dallas. Along the way, we made some pit stops including an overnight stay in Memphis. Photos from this trip are posted in here and some more are in here.

It was also during this time that Patrick and I built a new home in Dallas. By built, I mean make a living space out of a two-bedroom townhouse. In a matter of days, we had furniture, appliances and even Direct TV! Now, we won't have to miss a football game ever again. Indeed, nesting is a great bonding tool for couples.

- Any salesman will tell you that the last quarter of the year is the ultimate crunchtime. I flew out several times to see some clients. Somehow, I managed to convince them that our books are worth buying and they should give us their money. By some grace of God, I suppose, I made my annual numbers. Now, if only that achievement is worth a two-week all-expenses-paid vacation to the Dominican Republic, then life would be perfect, wouldn't it?

We spent two weeks of family time here in Chicago for the holidays. Shadow obviously missed being with both Patrick and myself, she was always begging for attention. We visited family and friends, one of whom even got engaged! At the end of those two weeks, it was hard to believe it is already 2008. So in the spirit of the new year, here are my new promises.


Monday, October 15, 2007

Things are changing

Come November, Patrick and I will become one of the 3.6 million married couples in America who live together--apart. Commuter couples, as we are more popularly known, are husbands and wives who choose to live in different states or distant cities, often to further our careers. Patrick, for example, has taken a hefty promotion in another company who required him to relocate near Dallas, Texas temporarily. I chose to stay in Chicago. Lucky me, my company allowed me to work from home in Dallas one week a month, while Patrick's company agreed to fly him back and forth their headquarters in Chicago.

It is obviously not the ideal, or dare I say traditional scenario, for a married couple. But without sounding defensive, Patrick and I are quite comfortable and confident with our forthcoming situation. When he was making his decision on which career step to take next, we sat down face-to-face and weighed the pros and cons. Are we going to own or rent in another city? How often should we fly out to see each other and how much will that cost us? How long are we going to do this? We laid down our choices and we listed our priorities. We both looked at the big picture and I was thankful that we were on the same page.

I am very thrilled for my husband and I am immensely proud of his achievements. I am thankful that I married a gentleman and an achiever

I am also equally excited about the opportunities we both have on our plate. And most of all, I am beyond grateful that we took time to understand what our choices mean to each other and that we took time to look in the same direction.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Ten good things that happened in the past 10 days

Let me give you a rundown while I can still count them with my fingers! Here they are in no particular order:

1) Patrick and I went on a vacation for the first time in more than a year. Ah, our schedules finally met where we can be in one state in one weekend! It was a much needed time alone.

2) Patrick has been receiving recognition for his hardwork and professionalism. Well-deserved, my dear.

3) Our baby kitty Shadow survived four days without Mommy nor Daddy. Aunt Leslie took very good care of her while we were gone. Too good that she gained almost one pound. It's probable time to give Dr. McLaren a call.

4) A good, old friend of mine called from Viriginia. The last time we talked was about two years ago. I'm so thankful he's having a ball in his new home.

5) I met Uncle Bob's big, happy family.

6) Everything was in its right place when I went back to work.

7) My friend Misyeli will find out this weekend if her baby will be a boy or a girl. And she promised she'll let me know!

8) Liz brought me a Polar Bear toy from her trip to San Diego. I named her Sandy.

9) Justine Henin has advanced to the semifinals. Novak Djokovic keeps on advancing. This year has one of the most heartstopping U.S. Open in years ... eventhough we all know Roger Federer is going to win!

10) Our plans are slowly--and ever so elegantly--becoming a reality.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Adopt A Cat

We first met in the sunroom, Shadow and I. It was a Wednesday and it was my first night volunteering at one of our local pet shelters. As soon as I walked into the room, I saw this huge gray and black fur ball running toward my direction. She has sharp eyes and a faint voice that was a remarkable contrast to her plump body and dark color. From that moment on, we were inseparable, at least in my dreams because I couldn’t take her home just yet.

Shadow is only one of the millions of pets housed in thousands of pet shelters across America. As of this month, the Humane Society of the United States estimates that there are 6 to 8 million cats and dogs in shelters. Of these, 3 to 4 million are adopted (50 percent), while 30 percent of the dogs and only 2-5% of the cats are reunited with their owners. While the number of pets hits the staggering millions, the number of pet shelters averages at 5,000.

If these pets are not adopted or reclaimed by their owners, they die of natural causes, old age in their shelters or foster homes, or pet euthanasia. Shelters who allow pet euthanasia put down 3 to 4 million cats and dogs annually, roughly half of the population entered. These pets may have been euthanized for sickness, injuries or behavioral problems. Whatever reason a pet is euthanized for, it all boils down to one issue: overcrowding.

The two charts in this page give you a clearer picture of the plight of pets and pet shelters across America.

These numbers tell only half of the story. In America, there are approximately 65 million owned dogs and 78 million cats. In both these categories, only 16-17 percent were adopted from animal shelters; the rest were mostly bought from pet stores, whose sources are breeders and puppy or kitty mills. Now, don’t even get me started on the issue of puppy mills, but to give you an idea on how puppy mills worsen the pet overpopulation situation, read this.

Pet shelter operators and animal rights advocates are seeking our help in controlling pet population, first by having our pets spayed or neutered. This way, we can slowly reduce the number of pets we have to enter into shelters and euthanized. To find a local pet or participating veterinarians and purchase low-cost spay/neuter certificates, visit the
Friends of Animals Web site.

Next, if you or anyone you know are thinking of having a pet, consider adopting from pet shelters. Give these pets a chance to experience living in a home with a warm family. Give them a chance to make you smile, just like Shadow did to me.