Sisters

There’s only one news on telly lately, and it is about the fire in London. If you are not from the UK, and have not heard about the story already, here’s the short version of the news.

A 24 storey tower block caught fire in the middle of the night few days ago. The fire was so big, and spread so fast, the fire department could not get inside and save everybody in time. As the result, many people died, and until the time I am writing this, the officials haven’t been able to announce exactly how many fatalities, and their identification.

The fire was so unexpected, as the UK is probably one of few countries with a very strict building regulations. The investigation is still ongoing, so how exactly things went catastrophically wrong hasn’t been announced. However, this tragedy has lead the re-evaluation to other residential tower blocks in the country, especially those with similar structure and building materials.

Right now, what was the rescue mission, is now a recovery mission. The officials now believe that it is very unlikely that anyone would survive the fire by now. Even the recovery mission is going very slowly, as the integrity of the building itself has now become questionable after the fire. The survivors, the residents, and their family and friends are now very impatient and restless, understandably.

As the recovery mission going, and people waiting, the stories of everybody who are affected by the fire started to trickle. The heroic rescuers, the desperate mothers, the grieving lovers. Every story is painful, but there’s one that feels very personal to me.

There’s a story about three brothers who lived in one of the flat in the building. Two of them were there when the fire started to spread. The older brother told the younger one to run to save himself, just before he himself run towards the think and heavy black smoke. He didn’t look back, I think he was almost passed out himself because he has been inhaling so much smoke.

When he was out, he realised that the younger brother wasn’t with him, so he phoned the younger brother to make sure that he’s escaped as well. He wasn’t. In fact, the younger brother was still in their flat, and trapped there.

“Why didn’t you get out?” the older brother asked.

“Why did you leave me?” the younger brother replied.

The older brother begged the rescuers to save the younger brother, giving them the flat number, but it was too late. The other brother was still connected on the phone, right until the last second — when the phone finally died.

That story.

That particular story saddened me the most, because I have siblings too. My two sisters and I once shared a flat too. The three of us lived in a tower block, probably not to dissimilar to this one in London. So, when I heard this story, I couldn’t help thinking of my sisters, and how I would feel if I was in the position of the older brother.

What if I lost my sister in such a tragedy? Even thinking about it made me extemely sad.

Unfortunately it is not too long until I will see them again. Time to refuel my spaceship for a quick visit…

 

The Rules

I like watching NCIS. Grumpy introduced me to this series few years ago, and we’ve been watching it since. The rerun, the new one, everything. Sometimes, I even remember the whole plot just to watch the first three minutes of the episode… but I watch it anyway. The same applies when I watch Agatha Christie’s Poirot with David Suchet as Poirot, or Miss Marple for that matter… I think they’ve done the characters really well.

Back to NCIS, without any intention to spoil anything, there is Gibbs. He’s the main hero of the show — the old guy who does his thing, and does it well. I have to say that if you think about it, Gibbs is just an average guy, he’s not on the top of the pyramid, but he’s still the boss for a lot of brilliant agents. He’s not the one with the ultimate power to make it happen, but he can still tell his people what to do without having to do everything himself. And we like this guy…

One thing about Gibbs that I like the most is his set of “Gibbs’ Rules”. Gibbs lives by the set of rules such as: never ever screw over your partner, or never get personally involved to a case. I like that a lot. I think everybody needs to learn from Gibbs about this rule-making business. I believe that everybody needs a set of rules for their lives — in fact, I have been trying to write down some rules for myself too (but that’s for much later).

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Why, though? I heard you asked, why would you need to make rules?

Like I said just now, I think people needs to have a set of rules. Of course we don’t need to make rules for every single little thing we do in life, but we definitely need some ground rule to follow. Imagine a manual book… Every proper machine comes with a manual book, shame that we don’t when we were born. But we can write one, can’t we?

True that we don’t need that manual book for everything. We don’t always refer to our smartphone manual book every time we turn it on, or make a phone call, do we? We turn to manual book when things go wrong. We turn to our manual book when things are not what they are supposed to be. We use the information in the manual book to troubleshoot, and I think that’s exactly the set of rules should be done.

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Gibbs rule “never ever leave without a knife”, for example. Is a very practical rule that he could always refer to — as a ex-marine, that makes sense. My dad has his own rule too, almost similar to Gibbs “always have cash with you”. Very practical, and have saved us several times from the embarrassment of broken card machine. I am pretty sure these two wise gentlemen have learned from life before coming to these rules.

I am still writing my rules… I believe my father is still revising his everyday too. I can tell you one of my rules, though: “never go shopping with empty stomach”. What do you think about that?

The Pursuit Of Betterness

I think a lot of people don’t want to admit that they want things to get Better. Saying that we want things to be better means admitting that what we’ve got today is not good enough. It’s good… but not enough.

Some people who think that making things better is just a means to feed our vanity — they might think of something trivial like: the fridge in your kitchen is not big enough, even the kitchen where the fridge is is not spacious enough. The waistline is not slim enough, the thigh gap is not far enough. The muscle is not tough enough, and you can’t run fast enough. The hair is not fluffy enough, the skin is not smooth enough.

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I need a new phone, by the way…

But I think making things better is more than getting better things. It is a sense of improvement. You might not need a bigger kitchen, but you could eat better food — tastier, more wholesome, something that actually makes you feel good about yourself better than frozen pizza. You might not need to slim down, but you live better life — getting rid of pot belly, reducing the risk of getting an early hip or knee cap replacement, or having the chance to breathe normally because your lungs are not squeezed by the visceral fats.

You don’t need to have get more money on your bank account (as good as it sounds), but you can still have a better financial security — paying off debts, everything’s insured, retirement plan’s sorted. You don’t need to be an athlete, but you can get fit– walk to the city or bike to work, or simply keep away the pints until the fun weekend with your buddies. I mean, there are plenty of ways to get better… but not many people likes it.

As one of the sanest people I have known in life, a lot of people don’t like you to get better, because it reminds them of how their life is — not good enough. It scares people because if you get better, you will raise the standard what is considered okay. It is like one student in your class that others hated so much because she (or he, but usually a she) would always over-achieve and tip the balance of mediocrity in your classroom — the one who would always hold up the recess time, and get you and your friends extra homework because your teacher used her as the class benchmark. The one that others secretly envy…

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I am short, so this is still within my healthy BMI

When I lost a lot of weight after changing my habit, a lot of people where I came from started to make comment about me over doing it. Of course some of them have a genuine concern because eating disorder is a legit thing to be concern about. But some just don’t like it because it means theis acceptable size would have to change too. Like a lot of ladies thinking that having a woman with healthy BMI as a bikini model is bad because it makes other women feels pressurised to be… in that healthy BMI.

What’s wrong with it?

What’s wrong with wanting to be better?

Ah… I think I need to apologise for not being able to understand. Maybe it’s just because I am an alien. Sometimes it takes longer to understand one thing than the other. Maybe I just need to go back observing food than human’s Lifestyle

Politics

I have never heard anyone said openly that they like politics, even politicians. The most I heard from common people who I know is that they are interested in politics. I am not sure what’s wrong with politics, but I think there is a certain negative image about politics, and I think bad politicians have something to do with this negative attitude towards politics.

But I do love politics. I think it is one very important part of our life, and whether you want it or not, it affects a lot of aspects in your life. I think it is impossible to escape from it unless you are living alone in an uncharted territory, and you don’t have to trade or make contact with any society.

I don’t always like it though. I used to think that politics is synonymous with dirty. But like hacking — they have white hat and black hat, I think politics is the same. There are people who use politics to make personal gain, but there are plenty who use politics genuinely to help people. Read history, you will find plenty of examples: toppling down dictators, protecting women and children from exploitation at work or domestic abuse, the rights to marry someone regardless their religion, race, or sexual orientation.

Politics gives you the chance to change something. Or keep something as it is. It is THAT important, it affects how you go to work, how your business could expand, how your children get their education… So, I feel terribly sad when people say that they don’t care about politics. How can they?

I came from a very different world than the UK. I believe they’re catching up, but I think there is still a long way to go before the political situation could reach the level of stability we have in the UK. It’s okay, any progress is better than no progress at all. I am saying this from experience — how things were when I was very very young.

We were under a nasty dictator for 32 years. Until my preteen, he was the only president I knew. And even then I knew you don’t speak ill of him. Even then I knew that there are a lot of people disappeared from the face of the earth after speaking up about his government. I didn’t know why but I know that the five-yearly election is a sham — the winner is definitely the party that supported the president at that time, so… why bother voting? You don’t talk politics… it is either dangerous, or useless. People learned to be apathetic, and adapted to this political oppression.

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After 32 years with that, it is like Stockholm Syndrome to many of the citizens. Especially the older generation who lives longer with the oppressor. Sometimes I heard them longing for the “stability”, that “someone is taking control of the country”, and that “there are less thing to worry about”. They forgot that with freedom there are rights and responsibilities, and they come hand in hand.

I think some people just forget to count their blessings. A lot of people from the first world countries like the UK take their freedom in politics for granted. This general election is one of the perfect example — people are openly telling people that they could not be bothered to vote or even get themselves registered as an electorate. Why? Because all politicians are the same? Because they think that their voice don’t count?

I don’t have the right to vote in the UK, because I am not (yet?) a citizen of this country. But I would love to. I would love to have the rights to get the person who has got the better plan how to run the country in the government. I would like the rights to moan, complain, and protest… or even feel smug when the person I voted for do something incredibly cunning. I want that. I want that very much, thank you,

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So, for the sake of the country I am living in right now… If you are a UK citizen, please vote. Please go to wherever they told you where to go to, so you can exercise your rights and at the same time do your responsibility for your country. Or, you can get it posted, if you wish. And if even if you don’t have anyone you want on the ballot paper, just go there, and write something on it — “Stephen Fry, for PM” for example. Just get yourself heard…

Enough from this Alien today.

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