Ambidextrous No More


So I’ve been visiting RTC Denpasar twice, annoying my friend about twice a week for three weeks, and scouring the interwebs to get a hold of this:

Logitech Attack 3

Logitech Attack 3

Sadly, nobody had it. Word is that the supply was halted from I don’t know where. Bottom line is that there is no telling when a resupply would take place.

A couple of friends suggested some other series that I might be interested in, particularly from Genius. I wasn’t interested, because I had no knowledge of the product quality. Yokes from Saitek were also offered, but they were way beyond my price range. A few days later I found Attack 3 at an online store and I immediately ordered it. Sadly, it was out of stock, too, and the warehouse admin probably forgot to update its status on the page. The sales guy offered to bump it up a class and I only had to add about $16 for it, so I said sure. So this is what I got:

Logitech Extreme 3D Pro

Logitech Extreme 3D Pro

 This baby fails in one requirement I made for myself: it is not ambidextrous. I thought I was gonna have some problems flying with my right hand, because (1) I’m left-handed and (2) I couldn’t access the mouse while I played. As it turns out, my right hand works just fine. I guess the same thing happened when I first learned to use the mouse with my right hand, to save everybody the trouble of providing a left-handed mouse. And the mouse, it turns out I didn’t need it so bad, and whenever I needed it I could always revert to using the trackpad with my left hand, which was free anyway.

So there you have it, my new joystick. I’ve flown a couple of times using it on 737s, 747s, Cessnas, various vintage planes, and even an F-14. I’ve also managed to land a 737 manually in a crosswind, not to mention F-14 night landings (which were particularly hard because of the high approach speed). I’m overall satisfied, and although I do hope that someday I’ll have my own virtual cockpit, this little guy is more than enough for now.

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The Pursuit of Perfection


Perfection is an elusive goal. In some cases, it is practically impossible to achieve perfection. Take a simple example: finding a perfect boarding house. Now, this is a true story, my story.

When I first came to Bali, a new friend of mine took me to see a potential boarding house. I immediately took it, not because it’s perfect, but because it’s logical. I’m a new guy, I have to find a place to live, pronto. As it turns out, it was a great boarding house. The owners (and their kids) were all smiles and happy to welcome me, neighbors minded their own business and for the most part didn’t cause any trouble, the cost is affordable, and the room’s got quite some space. I got used to the dogs barking their heads off in the middle of the night. But later on, after the owner’s mom got sick — mind you, she’s a 98-year-old grandma with a case of a never-healing-broken-arm — things got a bit complicated.

How would you like to wake up hearing a very old lady moaning and calling out someone’s name, while trying to scrape pieces of plastic off of her broken arm, plus the family’s helper dragging an empty bucket just outside your front door? Add to that the setting: 2 a.m., in the middle of a thunderstorm and a soundtrack of dogs whimpering, while the smell of burnt incense from the day’s evening prayers hasn’t gone away.

I do not want to be there when she passes away. (not that I want her to, but you know… it’s frickin’ eerie!)

I was lucky enough that a friend offered me a vacant room at her boarding house, one that I’ve had my eyes on since a few months back. So I immediately took the opportunity. I was delighted. The room was bigger and had better flooring and walls, air circulation was much better, and best of all I had no worries about midnight wake-up calls from any dogs. Oh, and of course I was excited to finally have neighbors that I actually know. Little did I know…

I got me lots of new neighbors. But this one right next door… oh man… I still wake up at 2 a.m. sometimes, not because of dogs barking or old ladies moaning, but because of the fights they have. She’d yell and scream and cry at the same time and he’d just rub it in her face. And then she’d hurl a cellphone to my wall and it breaks to pieces. And the words… oh, the words just couldn’t get any harsher.

I could handle the noises just fine, I just thought of them as wild dogs barking their heads off and biting each other. But the harsh words, they get me tense every time. There were times when I really wanted to come out with my broom and just knock her out (and then deal with her boyfriend).

But she’s the owner’s niece. I strike her and I’m out.

So there you have it. The pursuit of a perfect place to live. I’m not talking about a huge palace with a swimming pool and jacuzzi (although it wouldn’t hurt if I could afford such a place), but a place where I can just live peacefully in a community where everybody has good manners and are thoughtful enough to minimize disturbance to everybody else.

Quite impossible, it seems.

UPDATE: It turns out that as I was writing this post, the now 99-year-old lady really passed away. My sincere condolences for the kind family that looked after me for that wonderful year.


Tentang Profesionalisme Guru


Tulisan ini adalah tanggapan untuk blog post sahabat saya yang mengkritisi sikap profesional guru. Ini bukanlah sanggahan, bantahan, apalagi cacian. Saya hanya berusaha memperjelas apa makna “bersikap profesional”.

Menurut saya, seseorang bisa dikatakan bersikap profesional ketika ia mampu memenuhi tuntutan profesinya, dengan mendapatkan imbalan yang layak, dan dengan memerhatikan kode etik dan standar perilaku yang berlaku di lingkungan kerjanya. Dalam konteks profesi seorang pendidik, sikap profesional ini misalnya: datang ke kelas dan membubarkan kelas tepat waktu (tidak korupsi waktu), datang ke kelas siap dengan materi, dan bisa mempertanggungjawabkan pekerjaannya, termasuk menjaga integritas anak didik dan diri sendiri dengan sikap yang tegas terhadap ketidakjujuran dan kegiatan contek-mencontek.

Lebih lanjut, seseorang bisa dikatakan mempunyai dedikasi terhadap pekerjaannya apabila ia mau memberikan lebih daripada apa yang dituntut darinya secara profesional. Seorang guru bisa dikatakan berdedikasi terhadap pekerjaannya apabila ia rela menggunakan waktu pribadinya di luar jam kerja untuk mengajar (atau lebih baik lagi, mendidik) anak-anak didiknya, baik itu formal ataupun non-formal. Yang satu ini memang tidak ada sangkut pautnya dengan imbalan apapun, dan lebih dekat pada kecintaan seseorang atau panggilan hatinya terhadap pekerjaannya.

Bentuk lain dari dedikasi adalah ketika seorang guru tetap mau menjalankan tugasnya secara profesional walaupun ia tidak menerima imbalan yang layak.

Nah, dalam tulisan yang saya baca, dan dari diskusi hangat di twitter kemarin, tampaknya belum dijelaskan apakah yang didiskusikan itu sikap profesional dan/atau berdedikasi. Tetapi esensi diskusi dan tulisan tetap sama, yaitu keprihatinan bersama bahwa banyak guru masa kini yang tidak lagi profesional, apalagi punya dedikasi terhadap pekerjaannya.

Guru yang tidak mau lembur demi acara bedah buku adalah guru yang tidak punya dedikasi terhadap pekerjaannya (meskipun apabila kita mau adil, harus dipahami juga bahwa untuk mau memberikan lebih daripada yang dituntunt secara profesional, ia harus lebih dulu mampu). Dalam hal ini, ia tetaplah guru yang profesional.

Di sisi lain dikatakan ada banyak guru yang membayar orang untuk mengerjakan karya ilmiahnya demi kenaikan pangkat (dan pada akhirnya kenaikan gaji), dan ini adalah sikap tidak profesional. Banyak contoh lain untuk perilaku tidak profesional, antara lain memberikan bocoran soal ujian kepada anak didiknya, yang berlawanan dengan tujuan pendidikan itu sendiri. Contoh yang lebih sederhana: sering tidak hadir di kelas karena “kepentingan pribadi”.

Bagaimana mungkin seseorang bisa punya dedikasi terhadap pekerjaan yang dilakukannya dengan tidak profesional?

Sekali lagi saya tegaskan bahwa ini adalah opini, bukan fakta, dan saya tidak menganggap semua guru itu tidak profesional apalagi punya dedikasi. Masih banyak pendidik yang bermutu dan patut kita sebut “Pahlawan Tanpa Tanda Jasa” (walaupun sebenarnya tidak masuk akal, karena sebutan itupun sudah merupakan suatu tanda jasa/bentuk penghargaan).

Guru itu memang sudah seharusnya profesional, tetapi kalo ia mempunyai dedikasi, itulah “Pahlawan Tanpa Tanda Jasa”.

Nah kalau sudah begini lalu menjadi jelas, apa sebenarnya yang bisa kita haruskan, dan apa yang kita harapkan dari para guru.

Punya integritas, tidak korupsi waktu, dan bertanggung jawab terhadap anak-anak didiknya; itu semua harus. Jika tidak, berarti ada masalah dengan si guru itu.

Tetap mau mengajar di pelosok desa walaupun tidak digaji atau mungkin digaji sangat kecil, atau mau bekerja di luar jam kerja; kalau kita mengharuskan itu, masalahnya adalah kita sendiri.


Trivia


Just a quick trivia question.

If you realized that being turned down actually makes you feel glad, because then you feel safer, what does that tell you?


Wishlist Revisited


I’ve already posted about this topic twice (here and here). Now I want to look back on the years gone by and see how much closer I am getting to making this wishlist real.

1. Get a house of my own.

This one I’m going to have to set aside for now. Property prices in my hometown are crazier than ever, and rather than stressing myself I might be better of pursuing something more reachable. But I am looking into possibilities, and when the opportunity comes I will surely take it.

2. Go on a backpacking trip to Europe.

I’ve started saving for this one, and although the current balance is a far cry from the actual budget, I can confidently say that I will be able to achieve this in a few years’ time.

3. Learn photography and get myself a not-so-bad DSLR camera.

This one’s also going to have to wait a little longer. It’s a hobby (and a quite expensive one), so a lower priority should be appropriate.

4. Get a 13″ MacBook.

I bought my MacBook Unibody A1342 about six months ago, and I’m about five months away from settling my payments. So I can safely say I’m well on my way to achieving this.

5. Have foster kids or be able to fund schooling for underprivileged kids.

As I’ve heard so many times from flight attendants every time I get on a plane, putting on your own oxygen mask is a lot more important than assisting a child or senior citizen. So, this has to go down for the moment.

6. Get a health and life insurance policy and build a detailed pension plan.

This should be my first priority for now. The longer I wait to buy a policy, the higher the premium. But I’ll have to settle all my payments first (MacBook and motorcycle), so I guess early next year would be a good estimation.


The Personality of The Interwebs


A good portion of the computer-literate world is now accustomed to publishing personal articles on the interwebs. Heck, even my mom now has a facebook account. But not everybody is prepared to consume all the information the web can provide us today.

Exhibit #1: Many people publicly post their most personal thoughts or feelings or emotions. I realize that not all blog-writers or facebook dwellers or tweeps are fully aware of the privacy preferences provided by the sites they use, but that’s not the point. It’s the content of what they are publishing that matters.

Exhibit #2: Many people are disturbed or annoyed one way or another by other people publishing their most personal thoughts or feelings, political stances, or even just putting up a simple personal opinion online. How Apple fanboys who think Steve Jobs is the next Jesus debates with PC fanboys who think Jobs is a nutcase is a prime example of this. Also, the not-so-recent launch of “Draw Mohammad” day on facebook obviously got the world debating furiously over the appropriateness of it as a way to encourage people to exercise their right to free speech.

So there you have it. Some people post away without thinking of the consequences. Some other people are disturbed by what somebody publishes because it just tickles their nerves.

Some people do both.

Why criticize people who post their affection for their God when you post away how your affection for a human makes you feel the world is a really ugly place to live in?

My idea: If you can’t say something nice, or if you can’t rephrase your not-so-nice opinion into something civil, or if you can’t evaluate the repercussions of what you are about to say… just keep your mouth shut. And if you choose to speak anyway, don’t cover your ears while somebody else says roughly the same thing to you about something slightly different.


The Kubuntu Aftermath


So, I was trying to rescue a Karmic Koala in distress. I failed at the time, because I didn’t have an up-to-date release of Kubuntu (or Ubuntu, for that matter). So here’s what happened next.

I finally got to borrow a friend’s Kubuntu installation CD, so I booted it up. I poked around in it for a bit, and… alas… there is no such thing as GParted preinstalled inside Kubuntu’s live CD. Lucky for me, I got me an Ubuntu Live CD at hand, also Karmic Koala. Without hesitating, I fired it up, and there it was, Gparted… *drool*

So, I went ahead and just repartitioned the darn virtual disk. By this, I mean I did it in one go, I didn’t stop to apply partition deletions before resizing my root partition and creating a tiny swap partition. One go only. And it worked like a charm.

So there it is, my Kubuntu Karmic Koala now has 5GB of disk space, of which about 1.2GB is free. Enough for now.