Friday, March 25, 2011


Speech #9
Persuade with Power
March 25, 2011

It was in 1995, 16 years ago, when I first heard about people communicating across different countries electronically – instant messaging and email. I was in awe and at the same time in doubt. Is this true? Are you kidding me?

A couple of years later, I began using dial up internet access at home. It took 30 minutes to connect each time. One website page took 5 minutes to load. But I continued to use it. Then in 2000, I worked for a US based company. CEO messages were delivered via webcast, meetings across countries were done with video calling, we had instant messaging all day, unlimited access to hi-speed internet. All to help us do our work.

In 2004 we moved to Canada and I had, for the first time, unlimited hi-speed internet access at home. It was happiness. Internet suddenly became a necessity in my life. I did my banking online, kept in contact with my family and friends in Philippines online – email, chat, Friendster. I bought and sold stuff online – ebay and craigslist. I managed my ever growing photo gallery online. Ordered books, photo prints, magazine subscriptions, even underwear online. I learned to cook from recipes in the internet. I read reviews to decide which recipes to try, movies to watch, restaurants to go to, shops to buy from. And not just buying, even for borrowing. To get library books, I look for what I want online, find the branch that’s got it, or request for it so that when I go to the library I’ll just grab my books and go.

I think in my life, I use the internet, maybe too much. When my youngest child was born and I was trying to get some sleep, youtube kept him quiet. When I can’t remember lyrics of a song, names of celebrities, details of places and events, google gives me peace of mind.

Along came skype, Facebook, and Twitter. That brought social networking to a whole new level. I Skyped with my nephews and nieces back home and I got to know them without having to spend a penny more than my usual unlimited internet access fee. Then wireless internet arrived on cellphone, tablet, even on the ipod. Amazing.

So why am I presenting this? There is recent talk about the usage based internet billing (UBB). The CRTC - Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission approved UBB and now the federal government is reviewing it. What may happen pretty soon is we will be paying for internet based on our usage and not the flat rate that we pay now.

How did I learn about UBB? I read the paper everyday, front to back. Nah, with 4 kids, I can never do that. I have made a personal choice not to read the newspaper, the same day I made the personal choice to sleep in the skytrain to and from work. I learned about UBB, ironically, through Facebook. A long-time, good friend of mine posted on my wall requesting me to sign a petition against usage based billing, UBB. Normally, I would have just signed it to please my friend. I do go out of my way to please friends. But when I got this request to sign the petition against UBB, I hesitated. Something inside me doesn’t agree. Something inside me doesn’t want to fight this battle. There was something amiss.

I do use the internet a lot and if the Usage Based Billing is implemented, I will need to pay more. I don’t want to pay more but I don’t want to sign a petition that will prevent me from paying more. What is wrong with me?

I didn’t act on this for a week. I just let it sit. I kept on seeing my friend’s postings on FB, Facebook, regarding UBB – Usage Based Billing and how bad it will be. Until after 3 weeks I finally gave in. Nope, I did not give in to the petition. I gave in and decided to think deeply about, why am I NOT disliking the UBB?

Mankind overuse and abuse things that are “free”. This is the reason for global warming. The environment is free so we just use it to our heart’s content. We use anything and everything that is cheap and forget the other things that might be affected. Here in Canada we eat food everyday that may have travelled half the world to get to us – bananas, rice, mango. We use up so much oil because it is affordable, not thinking about the oil wells that are being dug up everyday on earth to satisfy our needs. We didn’t use to consume this much oil and we were just fine.

So why do we want unlimited access to the internet?

So that we can continue to talk to friends using email and instant messaging instead of visiting them and having a chat over coffee. So we can go to the library and grab our book instead of talking to the librarian and sharing our love for books.

Why do we want unlimited internet access? So we can easily order what we want in a restaurant (because we already checked the menu online) instead of listening to the waiter describe the soup of the day in adjectives that just make you hungry. So we can give our small children Facebook accounts to keep them occupied instead of them reading books or running outside. So our kids can be on the internet in our long drives and not ask us, “are we there yet?”. Why is it so hard for singles to meet other singles? Because nobody goes out to find things. Everything you need you can find on the internet.

I think we will lose more than money if we keep on using the internet this much. We may lose our ability to communicate with one another face to face. We may lose the remaining small opportunities to exercise and walk around. We may lose our intimate connection with the people most important to us in our lives because we send them messages online instead of giving them a hug when they need it. We may lose some natural senses like being able to tell if rain is coming. We won’t know until the weather network tells us. We may not experience as much excitement in our lifetime because we have prepared our itinerary too well based on internet reviews rather than getting lost and finding pleasant surprises in our travels. We cook based on tried and tested recipes over experimentation in the kitchen.

We want unlimited internet access because we want the electronic waste resulting from continuous production of cellphones, laptops, tablets and other devices that we keep on updating to get faster access. We want our children to continue to have headaches because of wireless modems. We want the possible diseases we may develop from cellphone signals when we access mobile internet. We want to keep on building the infrastructure required to keep our internet up.

I will continue to use the internet but I would appreciate the “limit” that the Usage Based Billing will bring. I may sound like I have no control over my own actions but as I said, mankind as a whole can sometimes go all in the same direction, making us think it is the right thing to do. We didn’t have internet before and we were just fine.

I am not asking you to support the internet Usage Based Billing. I am simply inviting you to imagine the possibilities of life, with limited internet access.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Wise Men Never Repeat

My all-time favourite High School English teacher (wasn't he the only one? :-)) used to say this when we asked him to repeat what he said because we were chatting.

“Girls, wise men never repeat.”

It stuck with me up to this day, even 20 years after. I wonder if teachers really understand the impact of the things they say to kids.

Now I really feel dumb. I have 4 kids. Duh?! It amazes me that to raise kids you need to repeat yourself 20,000 times a day. I try my best to raise good citizens of the future, but man, it takes so much patience. I’m really dumb to have 4 kids in the first place, but well, I am not the only one. My husband Ramil, is dumb too. Misery just loves company.

I was out with my co-workers in a pub last night. Conversation went to drugs and if you used them in the past. One of my friends said she messed up big time as a mother because her two kids, now both in their early twenties, were into drugs in their teens. Real, serious drugs like meth and cocaine. I thought repetition can be helpful, really. Repeat to the kids that drugs won’t do them any good. Repeat, repeat, repeat from 5 years old to age 20 until it sticks to their subconscious.

Parenting is hard. Sometimes I just want to give up and let my kids do whatever they want. I’m tempted to just work, make sure there’s food in the house, and then leave town on holidays. I’m seriously considering doing this and then writing a book about it. The New Effective Parenting : Leave Your Kids Alone. I bet it will sell, catchy title.

So is it really true? Wise men never repeat?

With my husband of 15 years I always repeat, in different forms. When I want something, I put it in his radar first. I’d say something flippantly, as if it didn’t mean anything to me. Then I’d say it again with a bit more detail. The third time I’d say it in relation to something he values. Then I’ll say something more concrete. Finally, I will say what I really want. Then he’ll agree. All these in a span of a week or two. Simple hey?

Here’s an example.

I wanted to go shopping in the United States and we are here in Canada. I need new blouses for work. Ramil is not very fond of driving long distances. So I start with, “Ces said groceries are really cheap across the border. I wonder if it’s true.” Then I let a day pass. “We are out of milk again? At Costco in the US, milk costs $4.50 for two gallons, here it’s $4.50 for one gallon. Can you believe that?” Then I wait for the right time. At the gas station, “OMG! A litre of gas for $1.30? It's .89 cents in the US.” Then in a more serious tone after a few days, “I’ve been making some computations and grocery shopping in the US will save us $300 per month. Imagine what we can buy with an extra $300 monthly. Do you want to try shopping in the States? I booked vacation next Monday, we can go, just the two of us to check it out.” Then he says yes.

Repeat yourself in strategically different ways. I call this repeating, others may say, scheming bitch.

I’m pretty sure Ramil does this to me too, on intimate, passionate matters until I’m convinced to try something new.

So really, wise men never repeat? Were you serious then, Sir? Maybe I missed the last part because I was always away from school. Maybe you said, “Wise men never repeat mistakes.”

I say life is full of repetition. Wise women repeat in creatively different ways, until we get what we want.