Lifelong Learning

Around the time I left academe, when outcomes-based education was in full furor, one of the concepts bandied around was “lifelong learning.” It sounded like another motherhood statement that hardly needed saying. Then again, it was an idea that I could get behind, inclined as I was to picking up new things, even as a dabbler.

Fast forward six years (and one crummy presidency) later, I’m feeling “lifelong learning” in full force. At work, I’m neck deep in data engineering, moving and analyzing up to 100,000 transactions per hour (which, I am told, would actually be on the low end of Big Data.) Such tasks require me to get into commercial cloud computing because a simple server just won’t do anymore. And coding, yes, at my age, I’m still coding.

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Like any new experience, parenting is adding new words to my vocabulary. Take “threenager”, for example. Up until two months ago, I didn’t know someone had coined this portmanteau, and that it was actually in common use in parenting blogs.

The revelation started with an observation about my daughter D–‘s current developmental stage. D– has always been quite expressive and her vocabulary pickup has been fast. Owing to this, her “terrible twos” were mitigated somewhat, because she didn’t have to suffer from the frustration of the inability to communicate.

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Side Effects

During the briefing before they gave us the AstraZeneca vaccine, we were told we might have fever and chills. The literature was more explicit in saying half the innoculees would experience such. I thought that since I had passed the night uneventfully, I was in the other half. So I dashed off my previous article joyously early in the morning and thought no more of it; it turns out I was wrong.

I started feeling feverish during my morning meeting, with a cloud of malaise slowly descending. By lunchtime, it was pretty clear where my body was heading. I took a paracetamol as directed and crawled into bed to wait out the course of the side effects.

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If nothing else, this stage of the pandemic has given us something new to talk about: vaccinations. It’s a germane icebreaker for starting meetings: “Have you been vaccinated?” “When are you scheduled?” and “Which brand are you getting?” And dare I say, it’s made armchair experts of us all: “I’m going to wait for Sinovac,” “Moderna is too aggressive” and “I heard so-and-so died after taking a second dose of X–!” Which, I suppose, is a step better than talk of homegrown cures like steaming or — heaven forbid! — bleach.

Myself, I had my first jab yesterday, and to answer your burning question, it was Astra-Zeneca, the one allegedly responsible for deaths due to clotting. It’s only been twelve hours as I write this, so who knows? Right now, I feel a little stiffness in my left arm and shoulder, which they told us during orientation was to be expected. Other side-effects they warned us about were fever, chills, and joint pains, none of which have manifested for me, thankfully. But it’s only been twelve hours, so who knows?

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Faith and Worship

Last Easter Sunday was the loneliest one yet. Instead of joining with throngs of celebrants at church, I heard Mass through YouTube. No rush of palms the week before, either, nor via crucis processions on Good Friday.

This year promises to be a little better. Ever since lockdown lifted in our city, I’ve been able to attend Sunday Mass regularly these past six months. Still fewer people than pre-pandemic times but enough to feel part of a community again.

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Well, I’ll bet you never expected to see a title like this on this column, or any column for that matter. Farts are almost never brought up in polite conversation, despite being a natural, innocent, and involuntary bodily function.

I got to thinking about farts because of my daughter D–. One of our first coherent exchanges was in the car. My wife E– was driving and I was sitting in the back seat with D–. Then I let out a big one.

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Morning Walks

In this long year of the pandemic, early morning walks are a pleasure that has, for me at least, remain largely unchanged. Outside of the house, it’s one of the rare times I can go maskless.

I have to be grateful that, in this regard, I’m luckier than most. For one thing, I live in a small gated community where the occupancy rate isn’t very high. There aren’t too many people to encounter on the road, and if there are, we can give each other wide berths even while we nod our good mornings.

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Baby Talk

Along with observing our daughter D–‘s developing language skills, I’ve also tried to keep an open ear to how my wife E– and I were talking to her. I’m happy to say we’ve largely avoided the trap of the cutesy infantile babbling, though — who knows? — that may largely be a myth. We’ve tried to make it a point to speak to D– in as straightforward a manner as possible.

Still, I can’t help but notice the little alterations that make their way into our speech when speaking with D–. When she was younger, we’ve tended to drop articles “the” and “a/an” when referring to objects. Similarly, we tended to avoid pronouns, sticking instead to just names. Example: “Mama will give D– ball, okay?”

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Language Lab

I started getting more invested in language in 2014 when I set out to self-learn Spanish. My tool of choice was Duolingo, which featured a variety of exercises and has continued to evolve since then. Seven years later, I’m able to follow basic conversations and understand simple articles, but my speaking skills are practically nonexistent.

The arrival of my daughter D– gave me a chance to see how a child learns language. There’s a common trope that children pick up language faster than adults. Could that be true? Compared to other children I’ve dealt with at her age, D– seemed quite advanced in vocabulary and sentence construction.

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