Category: General

How to deal with jetlag

Jet-lag was one of the many banes of my travel experience. This is something I could relate to and should have read earlier:

“I’d never have chosen to spend the next 160 hours out of sync, but now that I’m here, I’ll see where it takes me. The rules for handling jet lag are not so different from the ones on the back of your medication: do not operate heavy machinery while under its influence and do not make important decisions (unless, being a C.E.O. or head of state, you have to). Expect dizziness, headaches and tiredness; do not write checks, compute taxes or make any proposals of marriage in this state. Exposure to direct sunlight can be highly beneficial.

“Jet lag remains one of the great unmentionables of long-distance travel, as if not to speak of it is to help it go away. But it remains one of the great unavoidables, too, which many of us treat like man-made cycles of the moon (or that February cold we have to put up with). The heart of travel, though, is that the sights are always less important than the eyes you’re seeing with — and jet lag, if seen in the right light, can open up the world.”

New York Times

It takes about five to seven days for me to adjust to the new time zone, whether I few in east or west. Mayo Clinic offers some advice to travelers who are crossing several time zones:

  • Get plenty of rest before your flight.
  • If you’re traveling east, try going to bed one hour earlier and one hour later if you’re flying west.
  • Drink plenty of water before, during and after your flight.
  • Get some sleep on the plane if it’s nighttime at your destination.
  • Try melatonin supplements.
  • Grin an bear it. Your body will adjust eventually.

Next time, I would surely get more sleep before hopping onto the next plane since I don’t get to sleep that well in cramped plane coaches, and getting upgraded to business class is a long shot. The couple of nights prior to my trip were mostly spent packing, but I guess I’d be wiser next time and try to not bring too much stuff. I don’t know if I’d be traveling again anytime soon, but just in case.

No Starbucks planner for this year

One of the many outcomes of being away for a month was that I didn’t have much of a chance to blow my money on Starbucks. Unlike in the previous two years, visiting the coffee shop everyday was practically a must if only to collect 21 or so stickers to get the planner for the next year.

When the excitement over the coffee-flavored planner died down, I’d often forget to bring the thing with me. Most of the time, it ended up languishing in some dusty corner of my room for weeks on end until I’d remember that I had one. This would make me a bit guilty since I worked and spent on it anyway. And so then I’d lug the planner around, often adding an extra bulk in my already overstuffed bag.

The 2006 planner was so-so, but it came with coupons for discounts and freebies that could be availed on certain dates. The 2007 planner was more fun, but the ring binding was horrible. I’d often find myself re-adjusting the ring bind to make sure that the leaves wouldn’t fall out when I opened/closed the planner.

starbucks 2007 planner

I heard mixed reviews of the planner for this year. Some said the paper used was sub-standard while some praised the ruled pages. But since I’m more of an Outlook Calendar and Google Calendar user, I figured that I could pass on this year’s planner and do all my scheduling stuff online. Also, I keep a small journal in my purse for short lists and reminders, or to write down a few thoughts. This works better for me.

starbucks 2007 planner

Or maybe because I’ve changed priorities lately that’s why I’ve not been as interested in this year’s planner as I was in the previous years. I want something I could use everyday, doesn’t take so much space in my bag, isn’t heavy or bulky. Something small and shiny, like that.

Or if I still end up getting interested in another planner, then there are a lot of enterprising Pinoys out there who collect these planners and then sell them on or

Photo credit

The case for slowing down

I find this essay by an anonymous author and published on BusinessWeek, not to mention posted on countless blogs and sent to mailing lists, fascinating. I never got around to read the essay, which a former colleague sent some three months back, until today. Either I had forgotten all about it or that I’ve been busy lately with preparing my papers for a possible overseas deployment…passport renewal, visa application, bank statements, samples, etc.,…and I don’t even know if this embassy will give me the green light. So in the meantime, it’s best to slow down, stop dashing around like a headless chicken, and take some time off to share the author’s thoughts.

Slow Down Culture

It’s been 18 years since I joined Volvo, a Swedish company. Working for them has proven to be an interesting experience. Any project here takes 2 years to be finalized, even if the idea is simple and brilliant. It’s a rule.

Globalized processes have caused in us (all over the world) a general sense of searching for immediate results. Therefore, we have come to posses a need to see immediate results. This contrasts greatly with the slow movements of the Swedish. They, on the other hand, debate, debate, debate, hold x quantity of meetings and work with a slowdown scheme. At the end, this always yields better results.

Said in another words:
1. Sweden is about the size of San Pablo, a state in Brazil.
2. Sweden has 2 million inhabitants.
3. Stockholm, has 500,000 people.
4. Volvo, Escania, Ericsson, Electrolux, Nokia are some of its renowned companies. Volvo supplies the NASA.

The first time I was in Sweden, one of my colleagues picked me up at the hotel every morning. It was September, bit cold and snowy. We would arrive early at the company and he would park far away from the entrance (2000 employees drive their car to work). The first day, I didn’t say anything, either the second or third. One morning I asked, “Do you have a fixed parking space? I’ve noticed we park far from the entrance even when there are no other cars in the lot.” To which he replied, “Since we’re here early we’ll have time to walk, and whoever gets in late will be late and need a place closer to the door. Don’t you think? Imagine my face.

Nowadays, there’s a movement in Europe name Slow Food. This movement establishes that people should eat and drink slowly, with enough time to taste their food, spend time with the family, friends, without rushing. Slow Food is against its counterpart: the spirit of Fast Food and what it stands for as a lifestyle. Slow Food is the basis for a bigger movement called Slow Europe, as mentioned by Business Week.

Basically, the movement questions the sense of “hurry” and “craziness” generated by globalization, fueled by the desire of “having in quantity” (life status) versus “having with quality”, “life quality” or the “quality of being”. French people, even though they work 35 hours per week, are more productive than Americans or British. Germans have established 28.8 hour workweeks and have seen their productivity been driven up by 20%. This slow attitude has brought forth the US’s attention, pupils of the fast and the “do it now!”.

This no-rush attitude doesn’t represent doing less or having a lower productivity. It means working and doing things with greater quality, productivity, perfection, with attention to detail and less stress. It means reestablishing family values, friends, free and leisure time. Taking the “now”, present and concrete, versus the “global”, undefined and anonymous. It means taking humans’ essential values, the simplicity of living.

It stands for a less coercive work environment, more happy, lighter and more productive where humans enjoy doing what they know best how to do. It’s time to stop and think on how companies need to develop serious quality with no-rush that will increase productivity and the quality of products and services, without losing the essence of spirit.

In the movie, Scent of a Woman, there’s a scene where Al Pacino asks a girl to dance and she replies, “I can’t, my boyfriend will be here any minute now”. To which Al responds, “A life is lived in an instant”. Then they dance to a tango.

Many of us live our lives running behind time, but we only reach it when we die of a heart attack or in a car accident rushing to be on time. Others are so anxious of living the future that they forget to live the present, which is the only time that truly exists. We all have equal time throughout the world. No one has more or less. The difference lies in how each one of us does with our time. We need to live each moment. As John Lennon said, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans”.

Congratulations for reading till the end of this message. There are many who will have stopped in the middle so as not to waste time in this globalized world.

One question, though: Isn’t Nokia a Finnish company and not Swedish? Volvo’s car business unit was sold to Ford, an American company, in 1998. And according to the CIA World Factbook, Sweden has 9 million inhabitants.

Incidentally, there is a book about the slow culture, and I wonder if the essay that went the rounds of mailing list was part of the marketing tactics employed to generate buzz for this title. Clever.

Related slow-down goodies:

Photo: AHH. by Carbonated

Books and Readers

  • There’s another reason why Google Reader is my favorite RSS reader: search. Suppose you subscribe to a blog that has an entry about Web 3.0. Just use the search box at the top of the page, and voila! All entries in you RSS subscriptions that use the keyword will show on the results page.
  • “Egonomics” by Steven Smith claims that ego costs a company some 6% of revenues, or $1.1 billion, to a Fortune 500 company. The book also provides ways to spot people with “unhealthy” egos and how to manage them.
  • Otherwise, you’d only be a book collector or a pseudo-bookworm. Learn how to appreciate a literary piece, read a series, make love with words, understand what the book is trying to say.