Rob Cheng's Blog
Why Do We Stop?

I have a dear friend that is dying of cancer. He is still with us but I don’t believe that he has much time left on this earth. We have been talking on the phone frequently and one time he shared with me two things. ONE – He stopped having sex 6 months ago and TWO – He was still chain smoking. I found the topic fascinating and it really made me wonder, when do we stop doing the things we enjoy?

My grandmother died when she was 107 years old. Some time before she turned 100, she stopped playing bridge. She said that it made her think too hard for someone her age. She loved playing bridge and it puzzles me to this day.

I have another dear friend (still in the living) that was an avid golfer. Around the time that he turned 60, he stopped. That was 5 years ago, and he has not played since.

This got me thinking about my life and also “Why do we stop doing the things we love?”. Is stopping a sign that your life is running out of energy for certain pursuits? Or is it the opposite? Are you saving energy as you grow older by giving up these pursuits? I have no idea.

I love to run. It is a passion for me, almost an addiction. The reason is because it makes me feel good. About 15 minutes into the run, the endorphins kick in and the rest of the run is like a beautiful dream. I am relaxed. I am in harmony with my body and nature. I am mostly just lost in my thoughts. Those thoughts quite often will drive my direction for the day or more. I know that running is also a physically demanding pursuit and I wonder, will there be a time when I must stop. How will I know when I should stop? Either way, I know that my life will not be the same if I don’t run.

I also love to read. It is like tickling my brain or scratching an itch. It is a different feeling than running but it is relaxing and helps me sleep at night. I imagine that I will continue to read until the very end. It is not physically demanding, only mentally. But who knows? Not I.

I also play guitar. It is a peaceful pursuit and personally rewarding. I have been playing for over 30 years and honestly, I am only so-so. There are probably millions of guitar players better than me. It is rewarding when you feel like you have improved a little iota. It is rewarding to figure out a song that you never could touch before. Just to get a little better each time you play. I guess one day I will stop when I feel that I can no longer improve any more. There is so much room for improvement but I have reached a point where my lack of talent will not allow me to improve any more. I hope it doesn’t happen any time soon. Sometimes, it just makes me happy.

So I am just wondering out loud. What makes us stop? I used to drink beer every day and at one time in my left I was addicted to nicotine and cigarettes. These are two things that I have stopped because I knew they were unsustainable activities. They were doing more harm than good. But then, why do we stop doing the things that are good for us? The things that keep us challenged or motivated? What do we stop? I really don’t know. Leave a comment below.

Why I Support Occupy Wall Street

I just finished watching the Republican debate the other night and frankly I am scared for my country just like the people at Occupy Wall Street. Here is my analysis on why all of us should be scared for the future of the country.

Barack Obama

To give the guy a break, the entire financial crisis began before he was elected to office. But on the other hand, he had ample time to think through his plan to fix the economy. He also knew that if he didn’t, that he would not be reelected. He ran on a platform of hope and change. He has delivered neither. He has trusted the same people that have gotten us into this financial mess, and we are still in two wars that defy logic. He won the Nobel Prize despite the fact that he continues to drop drone bombs on innocent people. Most of the time now, he spends his time whining about the Republicans being obstinate. Like he just figured that out yesterday.

Still today, Obama has the most powerful job in the entire world. Worse yet, Obama had the country and the entire world at his feet. No president during my life time had such popularity at home and throughout the world. He had both houses of Congress and extraordinary public support. It is now lost, and he used none of that political capital for any good. It is such a damn shame because the potential was there for Obama to be a great president. We all can agree is that he has fallen far short of the potential.

The Republicans whine (that’s what they do), that Obama has transformed the country into a socialist elite state. Nothing could be further from the truth. Obama in reality hasn’t got jack shit done during his term as president. If you throw out the death of Osama Bin Laden, then you really don’t have jack. His health care bill is really weak and does little to fix a severely broken health care industry. The Dodd Frank financial reform is inadequate to even make a small dent into the reckless behaviour of our massive blood sucking financial industry.

At the end of the day, I believe that Obama’s chances of getting reelected are poor because his record is so bad. So it was my hope that there is an intelligent person in the Republican field. I looked hard but I really can’t find one. Here’s my analysis of the rest of the field. Read More

Gay and Lesbian Parade

On Sunday, August 9th, 2011, we went to the gay parade here in Rio de Janeiro. In the last few years, the mayor of Rio de Janeiro has made a concerted effort to attract gays and lesbians to Rio de Janeiro. He actually has gone on record as stating that the wants Rio de Janeiro to be the most gay friendly city in the whole world. They want to attracts gays and lesbians throughout Brazil and the rest of the world as well. In Ipanema, they actually have a beach that is primarily for people of alternate life styles.

This year was truly spectacular. The estimate that over 1.5 million people participated in this year’s parade. That is a lot of people. We were so lucky. We arrived about a half hour before the parade began, and there was a small platform that was built by the city. No one was on the platform, and we were the first on the platform. It is great because we had a great view and more importantly as the crowd filled up, we got pushed and shoved a lot less than the others. It was a cloudy day but even with my point and shoot camera, I was able to get some decent photos.

The city did an awesome job of preparation. There were tons of portopotties and there was rarely a long wait for the facilities despite the fact that there was a lot of people drinking heavily. By the end of the show, the place was a mess, but immediately hundreds of men and dozens of street cleaning machines trailed the parade. In a short time, the streets were pristine again. Read More

Lagoa Park Photos

Having lived in both Rio de Janeiro and the United States, it is safe to say that the two locations are the polar opposite on the issues of gay and lesbian people. In Rio, it is encouraged and in the United States it is thought to be an untreatable disease such as cancer. As I watched millions of these peoples marching proudly and happily, I realized that it is not possible for society to restrict the desires and passions of these people. I live in Rio de Janeiro, and the impact on my family of these people is NADA – ZERO. Maybe some Americans should come down here to analyse the impact on families.

This week is the first day of a very unusual vacation for me. Historically, I have always travelled somewhere for my vacations. That’s for more than 30 years, but this time, I have decided to stay at home here in Rio de Janeiro, which is really one of the most beautiful places on earth.

Today was a beautiful day here in Rio. It is getting a little hotter since October is the first month of spring, and there was not a cloud in the sky. We live on a very large lake that is called Lagoa. The lake is exactly 7500 meters around (4.7 miles), and is surrounded by the famous beaches of Leblon, Ipanema, and Copacabana. There is also a small but very popular park about 1/2 mile from our apartment. I run by it every day.

Since it was so sunny, I took the kids to the park. A sunny day is absolutely the best time to take photos. You have much more options with a lot of light than not enough. So I took out my camera and put it in manual mode and started shooting the kids playing around. After looking at the photos, it gives a nice flavour how nice a view the park has.

I am still amazed at the quality of photos that I can take with my cheap little Panasonic camera. I plan to buy another high end camera sometime next year but I want to learn more about my current camera first. Most of the photos are taken with a shutter speed of 1/1300th of a second and the ISO ranged from 100 to 300. I was able to do that because it was such a nice sunny day! I could never have pulled off these photos on a cloudy day with my camera.

I am also trying to use the Rule of 3’s which I learned from my photography class but also numerous of my photographically inclined friends told about. It is essentially to NOT put your subjects in the centre of the picture. This gives the photo more context about what the subject is doing, or what they are seeing.

From the Eyes of a Four Year Old

The last time I was in the United States, I decided to buy Teddy a cheap camera at Best Buy. It was certainly a gamble because the odds were either that he would love the camera or it would be broken in the first 30 minutes of use. After 2.5 months, I am happy to say that the camera is function well. We bought Teddy the cheapest camera we could find which was a Fuji that cost about $100.

About a week ago, I dumped all of the photos from his camera to my computer. I made two discoveries. Camera technology is such that even a 4 year old can take pretty decent photos. Also, photos are a lot different and more interesting from the point of view of a 4 year old. It is also a pretty accurate slice of life of what our lives are like in Rio de Janeiro. Note: neither Solange nor I told him which photos to take. These were all from his little 4 year old point of view.

Here are some notes to help understand the photos:

  1. * When we returned from the China and the US, Solange’s mother, Maria, and sister, Sandra were visiting us.
  2. * My good friend, Mike Brotherton, came down to Rio for his bachelor party shortly after our return.
  3. * Our maid, Cida, is very prominent in Teddy and Jesse’s lives and also in the photos.
  4. * Teddy loves playing with his jig saw puzzles.
  5. * Teddy’s favorite subject is his little brother, Jesse.

Solange and I have just finished a photography class, and I am amazed at how many of the basics elements of photography that I struggle with and Teddy seems to get right. Maybe it’s luck, or maybe kids have a better natural sense for photography.

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