A tale about dealing with pain

As I write this, I’m lying in a bed, where I will have to spend the next 10 days. It’s part of a process where I am dealing with what has become constant, debilitating pain. I’m sharing this with you in the hope that it will spur you to deal with your pain as soon as you experience it, before it gets serious and it starts to dominate your life.

There are few things one can do when they’re stuck in a bed. Sharing their thoughts, whether it’s in written form or as recorded media, is one of those things. So here is a video I recorded last night about my experience with pain and the process I went through in order to deal with it.

Before you watch it though, I want to share the most important point from the video, the clincher if you will, and it’s this: pain begets misery; misery begets more pain, and so the downward spiral goes, bringing you into darkness, into a personal hell out of which only you can escape, and the more you stay down there in that hell hole, the harder it becomes to see the light, to live your life, to enjoy what the world has to offer, to appreciate the love of those around you, and to accomplish your goals. Your life gets put on hold and you’re stuck dealing with the pain, thinking about it constantly, gritting your teeth, trying to ignore what cannot be ignored. Do not get to this point. Do whatever you can, as soon as you can, short of illegal stuff, to feel better and to be able to do what you need to do in order to feel alive and happy.

Merry Christmas!

It’s been an interesting year, hasn’t it? A lot of good things happened! After all, the world’s still around, in spite of the silly predictions. And as this Christmas draws near, it’s time to celebrate the good and the wonderful in our lives with those we love.

From Ligia and I to you, a very Merry Christmas!

Cheers!

The weeping willow weeps in spring

In contrast to the silly title, here are some colorful photographs of weeping willows in spring. Enjoy!

Weeping willow

Weeping willow

Weeping willow

Weeping willow

Weeping willow

Weeping willow

Weeping willow

Weeping willow

Weeping willow

Mel Blanc: the man of a thousand voices

I found and watched a documentary about Mel Blanc today, entitled “Mel Blanc, Man of a Thousand Voices“, and I wanted to share it with you as well. This one man has given me and countless other people so much joy over the years, that I can’t thank him enough. He’s gone, but knowing the kind of person he was, I’m sure he would have appreciated my thanks and would have been glad to say hi to me, if we’d have met, just as he did with all his fans.

Photos used courtesy of Mel Blanc and Warner Brothers. 

Cine este fericit?

Cheia este sa decidem sa fim fericiti in ciuda problemelor din viata noastra. Vedeti slideshow-ul (PPS) atasat aici.

CINE_ESTE_FERICIT.pps

Anger is just not worth the trouble

clenched-fist

I’ve recently written about how to respond effectively to stressful situations, and now it’s time to write about how to respond effectively to anger.

One thing most of us do battle with each and every day is our temper. We encounter a situation that pushes our buttons just the right way, and wouldn’t you know it, we’re angry again, in spite of our best intentions!

In recent weeks, a number of realizations dawned on me, all of which have been leading me to this conclusion: the easiest way to deal with anger is to let go of it. Regardless what some may say, there are no constructive ways to handle anger; there is no healthy way to channel it, or to use it as a motivator for something else.

Anger toward someone or something hurts you more than it could ever hurt that person or thing or situation, or whatever the case may be. If your body is a living vessel, then anger is a poison that fills it up and slowly eats up its walls. It weakens you, it makes everything taste bad, look bad and feel bad. It not only makes your life miserable, it also shortens it.

Life is already too short as it is. Why waste even a single minute on anger? It doesn’t solve problems. Many times, it compounds them. When the situation could be solved much better by cooler heads, getting angry only makes things worse and eliminates a quick, efficient solution.

One of my defenses has been that my anger is oftentimes righteous. Why I mean by that is I believe I’m justified in getting angry with someone because he or she wronged me, or because the situation warranted it (perhaps it was idiotic or illogical). Unfortunately, life is full of such people or situations, so my days are often punctuated by episodes of anger. When there’s always a fire inside, one that usually smolders, but often burns, it ends up taking precious energy away from useful pursuits and leaves me spent at the end of the day.

What’s more, even in cases where the other person fully provokes me and I’m entitled to get good and angry, what I’ve discovered is that it’s not worth it. The desire for retaliation, or revenge, or for making things right, or for punishing the other person in some way, is more damaging to me than their crime, whether it be theft, or lies, or who knows what. Another thing that I’ve discovered is that life will deal with them in good time, and they’ll get a far more painful and fitting punishment than anything I could have done to them.

The thing is, everyone pays for what they’ve done, in one way or another, and they pay for it in this life, sooner or later. The more I live, the more I realize how true that is, because I’ve felt it on my own skin. I’ve paid plenty for some mistakes I made in the past, I’ll be paying for others in the future, and so will those people that have wronged me. I don’t need to do anything. They’ll all get what’s coming to them. We’ll all get what’s coming to each of us, and you can take that to the bank.

So, the best way to deal with anger is to simply let go of it. It’s a conscious decision that takes only a little willpower. Just take a deep breath, then as you breathe out, imagine that anger exiting your body. Let go of it. Let it evaporate away, and focus on the good things in life.

Each day is so short, and our time with our loved ones is so brief, that we must do all we can to use our time wisely. If we don’t, then we’re wronging them, and we’re wronging ourselves, and yes, we’ll pay for that, too.

Now in top 75K websites on the internet

I took a look at my Quantcast stats today, and got a nice surprise. After hovering around the 100K rank for some time, I’m now ranked in the top 75K websites on the web. I do hope the trend continues along the same route, to the point where I can announce that I’m in the top 50K websites and so forth.

quantcast-raoulpopcom-stats

Why do I reveal this information? Because I believe in transparency, and I’ve been fairly open about my site’s performance from the get-go. (See this post from 2006, or this post from 2007 for a couple of examples.) I started using Quantcast to track the ranking of my site in 2008, and ever since then, I posted a little button in my sidebar that you can always click on to see my live stats.

quantcast-widget

By the way, let me take this opportunity to invite serious, legitimate companies who want to gain exposure to a worldwide audience to get in touch with me. The details are here.

My Drobo review is first at Google

A couple of days ago, I noticed an increase in the traffic to my Firewire Drobo review, most of it from search engines, so I did a quick search on Google for the phrase “drobo review“, which is what people were using to find me. To my surprise, my review was the first search result that came up! I’d been in the #2 spot for a long time, just under CNET, for the same phrase, but now, without having made any changes to my review since I’d written it, I ranked first.

drobo-review-google-search

This makes me happy, because when I created my site, I wanted to sit down and write good articles while staying away from any unethical SEO tricks or even white-hat SEO tricks like keyword loading and other such unappealing, tedious stuff. I just wanted to create good content and get noticed because of that, not because I’d tricked the search engines into ranking me higher up the page. That would have been an empty success indeed.

It also makes me happy because I like my Drobos. So far, they’ve worked well for me, and I’m glad I’ve found a reliable and expandable way to store all my data. It’s also worthwhile to note that my Firewire Drobo review was published months after it came out officially. I did not get a review unit, I didn’t have to pull any strings to be among the first to get one, and I didn’t spend a feverish night working on my review after it first came out. You know how the press clamors to get review units of products when they first come out… I didn’t do that, and it’s very refreshing to see that after taking my time and really putting my Firewire Drobo through its paces, intensively, for a prolonged period of time, I was able to write a truthful review that is now ranked first at Google.

It’s been about three years of intensive writing, and my work has begun to pay off. (I began publishing multiple articles per week in 2006. I’d only been publishing sporadically until then.) In 2007, almost two years ago, I noticed I was getting more and more traffic from search engines, and made a list of the articles that were getting noticed. For a lot of them, I was either on the first page of search results, or among the first few search results, right at the top.

Still, it’s something to be the first search result for what is a fairly common tech phrase such as “drobo review”, and it really makes my day that I, a writer working alone, using WordPress and hosting my site on my own little Ubuntu web server at SliceHost, has outranked CNET and other big names such as Engadget and others, on Google, the world’s biggest search engine. It serves to illustrate very well a point Matt Cutts from Google has made time and time again: just focus on writing good content, and the rest will come. You’ll get indexed, and as your site builds a larger collection of articles, your online trust will cause you to rise up among the search results, until you make it to the top. You don’t need tricks, you don’t need to get headaches from trying to squeeze SEO juice out of every paragraph and page title and others — you just need to write informative articles.

I’d like to thank God for this. You see, I live by certain principles which are rooted in my religious beliefs, most notably in the Ten Commandments found in the Bible. When I began to write online and created my site, I didn’t want to steal, and I didn’t want to lie. Taking content from others (content-scraping) is theft, so I don’t condone it or do it. Using dirty SEO tricks to rank higher in search results is also theft, because those who do it are robbing others of those spots and robbing tech engineers at search companies of their time, which they will have to use to modify algorithms and clean up the search results. And using those same dirty SEO tricks is effectively a lie, because those who do it are misrepresenting their websites and their articles. That’s not me, I don’t want to do those things, and I’m really glad to see that God proved me right when I stuck by my principles. I’m also glad to see that a company such as Google exists, and that it rewards honest, forthright behavior.

You can do better

A couple of weekends ago, I was walking on the quay near the Casino in the city of Constanta. There was this girl sitting on one of the benches with a guy, supposedly her boyfriend. Her curly hair reminded me of my wife, so I watched them for a bit, to see how they fit together as a couple. I was disappointed.

The girl seemed nice, but the guy, a classic douchebag if I’ve ever seen one, kept forcing her to kiss him, pulling her toward him, and fondling her. She tried to resist, to keep a little distance and admire the view (it was a beautiful spring day) but all this douchebag wanted to do was to feel her up. Finally she gave in and let him have his way. That’s when I turned away, disgusted.

There are so many girls who simply give in. They’re pressured into relationships they don’t really want to have, into sexual acts they don’t really want to perform, into marriages where they’re not happy, and the list goes on, ad nauseam. They think a douchebag is all they’re entitled to in their lives. They think they’ve got to put out in order to get the relationship started and keep it going. They think abuse is normal.

None of that is normal. You can do better! Have a little self- respect. You will get the right guy, and he’ll be nice to you. You just have to be pickier, and have a little patience.

Have a look at my wife. It goes without saying that I think she’s hot. She could have had plenty of guys. But when she dated, before we met, she demanded respect from all those guys, didn’t fool around, and kept herself for her husband. You know what? Instead of being scorned for not putting out, she was respected all the more for her decision.

Ligia

So really, it all comes down to how much self-respect you have for yourself, and what you choose to do with your life. If you’re not going to respect yourself, no one else will. Don’t put out. Don’t be like the girls in this other post. Wait for the right guy, or even more, look for the right guy. Don’t give up along the way. Don’t let every stranger that enters your life have dessert before they get through the main course. Put them through plenty of tests before they get to the goodies. Don’t cheapen yourself. Each and every one of us has a God-given capability to be more than we think we could be. I say reach for the sky, and see what happens.

Wondering why I write less these days?

I came to the realization that too much work around the clock is not a sustainable lifestyle. When you hold down a full-time job, write on two websites, have a consulting practice and you’re also a photographer, there’s little time to decompress. And I’m determined to carve out more time for relaxation. I have to. It’s not really a choice. My body is telling me so.

It’s nice to see that a few weeks after I started writing less, other, more authoritative sources, have chimed in with their findings, validating my own thoughts. It’s not like this stuff is new. People have been saying for decades that our American lifestyle moves too fast. And I noticed the effects of too much work on my own body back in December of 2006, but failed to take proper action.

Now I’ve done something about it. I’ve rearranged my schedule so that my wife and I spend more time together. I work from 11 to 7 instead of the usual 9 to 5. Just one of the benefits is not having to deal with rush hour traffic during my commute. In return, Ligia and I use some of our free time to exercise, or just spend time at home. I write less, and I publish less photos. And I’ve cut back on my consulting work.

Sure, I miss not being able to say everything I want to say and giving full outlet to my creative side, but my health is more important than a few paragraphs or photos. There are real, tangible benefits to be gained from slowing down. Life gets more manageable, more enjoyable. I realized that in the end, I’m the one that sets the pace, and if I don’t take the initiative, I’ll keep going full tilt till I crash. I don’t want that to happen.