At ground level

A column about LIFE

I am an Apple lover; how can you not be?

I am an Apple lover. I have always loved Apple computers, even before I knew who Steve Jobs was. Beginning with an Apple IIc computer, which we purchased while still living on the farm, I have been through many Apple/Macintosh computers and loved every single one of them – the Macintosh Performa, and then the iMacG3, the iMac, the iBook, the PowerBook, the MacBook Pro.

Yes, some may call me a Mac junkie, with one desktop computer and three laptops in tow. Unfortunately, I had to stop with the Pro. I am a single mother now, and cannot afford to keep up with the latest, like I used to. I did purchase the first iPhone. $250 was a lot of money for me to spend on a cell phone, but luckily I was given a raise at about the same time, so I finally rewarded myself with the iPhone.

Since I bought my iPhone in 2007, I have fought the urge to upgrade and even buy myself an iPad2. It’s been difficult, almost like Eve being tempted to eat the Apple – pun intended. Some may think it was stupid of me not to upgrade my first generation iPhone, but there were times it was a question of having just $20 on a weekend and having to choose whether to spend it at the store or relinquish it to my daughter, so she could watch a movie with her friends.

Like many people, I was a bit disappointed when Tim Cook unveiled the iPhone 4S. I, too, was hoping he would announce the iPhone 5. But it’s okay; I will succumb this time and I will be one of the thousands in line for the iPhone 4S.

The one thing that always irritated me about Macs was their exclusivity, which meant they were pricey, too pricey for the average earner. Even the computer games for my kids were too pricey and few. I often wished they were priced like PCs. My kids complained. All their friends had such neat computer games; we didn’t have many.

Yet I have always continued to love the Mac. It is simple, neat, easy and friendly. I found the IBM so intimidating; same with Dell and other PCs – too formal, too cold. My decades of work with newspapers and even teaching, jibed so well with the Mac. As the Mac grew more sophisticated, so did I, I felt.

The giant behind Apple has left us. I didn’t realize how hard the news of his death would hit me until I learned about it at around 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday, a day after the iPhone 4S was unveiled. I imagine he was just waiting until that project and announcement was completed, and then felt he could, indeed, rest in peace.

It was only when I came to live in Cupertino that I got to know Steve Jobs, though not personally. If you live in Silicon Valley and work just a stone’s throw away from Apple’s headquarters, you are bound to learn about Steve Jobs. His leaving this world has left many of us with a hollow, heavy heart. Jobs is, and always will be, a legend of our time.

The text from his speech to Stanford’s graduating students in 2005 is very telling about this great man. Here are excerpts, lessons which I, and everyone, should take to heart:

… Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don’t lose faith. I’m convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You’ve got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.

… I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.

… Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.

… Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

He is/was so right!

Thank you, Steve Jobs, for all my Macs and my iPhone. Each time I use them, I will remember you and feel good. And yes, I will make sure I follow my heart!

October 8, 2011 Posted by | California | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

It was a surreal day in Cupertino…

I woke up this morning (Wednesday, October 5) to the sounds of helicopters and police sirens and my daughter bursting into my room yelling, “Mom, there’s a gunman loose in Cupertino! The police are everywhere. Turn on the TV!”

That was enough to make me jump out of bed and turn on the television. Sure enough, on the news was a scene shot just about three blocks away from our home. Police had cordoned off a 10-mile radius and police cars had blocked off the road we took to school, which was also the road to the quarry, where a tragedy had occurred. It appears an employee at the quarry had shot and killed some people and fled the scene. The police were hunting him down.

Then, more sirens and another piece of breaking news. Another group of law enforcement officers were at the corner of Homestead Avenue and Wolf Road. There had been another shooting incident by the Hewlett Packard parking lot. Were these two incidents related? The news crew didn’t know.

Then came the phone calls and emails from the school. A message on my cell phone, home phone and later, office phone, notified me that due to police activity in the area, I was to keep my child home from school. Of course, my daughter cheered. I was in a quandary. I had to be in Los Gatos for a meeting in an hour. While I felt we were safe and believed the gunman was no longer in the area, my mother instinct told me I should remain at home with my daughter, at least until I was sure that the authorities had everything under control.

Later, we learned the shootings were related. The gunman was sighted by the Sunnyvale/Cupertino border, which happened to be close to where I work. Feeling my daughter would be safe at home, I decided to skip the meeting and proceed to work. When I got there, the office received a notification from the police department, asking us to keep safe and giving the gunman’s description. Our office remained open, but was placed on lockdown.

As the day progressed we learned more about this gunman. A single-parent, father of a teen-age daughter, a seemingly good person, a TV host who even authored a book and preached against non-violence. How could he have shot and killed three people and wound six others? For a while I felt sorry for the man. He must have snapped. But how? Why? I wondered out loud.

“He will be judged at the pearly gates. I have no sympathy. He killed three people,” someone muttered.

With the day off from school, I allowed my daughter to watch a movie with friends. Some people at work were surprised I was so permissive. I seriously doubted a man on the run would want to visit the mall. And I couldn’t keep my daughter home alone, when I recalled that time, when I was not much older than her. That day when I had arrived at school and was met by a flood of students streaming out of the school. Martial law had been declared, they cried out. No school! Soon after, my friends and I found ourselves frolicking around the streets of Manila, carefree, oblivious to the soldiers with guns that rode by in their trucks. That day we pranced into a parlor and got our nails and hair done, unconcerned about the uncertain future before us and the gravity of what was to unfold after that monumental day. Little did we know that a year later, we would be among the many students marching in front of the President’s palace calling for justice, democracy and the end to a corrupt dictatorship. My daughter’s afternoon was tamer than mine, it seems. She returned safely home after the movie and her afternoon was otherwise uneventful.

Back in Cupertino it soon turned to afternoon and still the gunman had not been found. I received yet another notification from the school thanking us for our cooperation and telling us they would continue to keep us abreast on further developments.

At around 4:30 p.m. we received yet more breaking news. Steve Jobs, Apple co-founder, innovator, visionary had died. The toll of the day had finally taken over and I trekked home with a very heavy heart.

I was reminded of a few things today:

1. Stuff happens and your life can change in an instant.

2. The safety of family is more important than a meeting at work.

3. I was impressed with the school’s diligence in notifying parents about the status of the school and students.

4. Kids have to experience a little adventure. You can’t keep them locked up in the house, alone and afraid.

5. I didn’t realize how much I admired Steve Jobs until today. I didn’t know the man, but have always loved his Apple and Mac computers. I was surprised his death hit me hard. Godspeed, Steve Jobs and thanks for my Mac and iPhone!

October 6, 2011 Posted by | Children, Family, Life, Parenting, Philippines | , , , , , | Leave a comment