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Who Moved My Cheese? by Spencer Johnson

 THE FOLLOWING content is lifted from my homework on our Finance class. We were to read a book and answer guide questions. I was quite dubious to read it since we are in the business course, why should we care about literature? It turned out that the book is about managing success, masked with a children title. The book is so small, that you can read it in about an hour. It has mixed reviews in goodreads. Others say it was helpful, while some say its gibberish. This reminds me of a computer tutorial in YouTube. A member commented that it was pretty simple, and there’s no need for making a tutorial. I watched the tutorial and it was helpful. I guess the degree of helpfulness depends on the person’s range of knowledge.

One thing is certain, for those perplexed and amateur, we need guidance, even basic guidance, and this book is one of them. With one-sitting read, reassuring words, fable story, what’s not to like?

P.S. Thanks J.M. Tingson, our finance class, for introducing the book. I never knew  what my mark was but I feel I did well and I enjoyed answering each question.

P.S. This homework taught me that a headline and/or questions will help you provide more concrete and unified composition.

REFLECTION QUESTIONS FOR WHO MOVED MY CHEESE?

1. In Johnson’s book, the cheese is a metaphor. What does it represent?

THE CHEESE represents things we desire. It is perhaps derive from the ideology that rats crave for cheese, like the hit cartoon series “Tom and Jerry”.  But I have to admit I haven’t saw a particular rat eating a cheese.  In most cases, I catch them gnawing our Tupperware. (No pun intended.)

2. What does the maze represent?

THE MAZE represents the place where we will find our “cheese”. For a student, it would be likely in the school. For a clerk, it would be likely in the office.  For a scientist, it would be likely in the laboratory. For me, just read the next answer.

3.  Identify both the cheese and the maze in your own life. Then consider what might happen if someone moved your cheese. Imagine the ways you might have to cope with the changes.

MY CHEESE is to be a filmmaker and a writer. The maze is, well, yet to be decided, considering both of those things can be done ubiquitously. If someone moved my cheese (which is unlikely since my cheese are intangible), it’s either I’ll follow the cheese or force the person who moved my cheese to moved my cheese back! Contrary to the old adage “If life gives you lemon, make a lemonade”, one person had said that “If life gives you lemon, let life take the lemons back.” Why? Because at some point in our lives, we deserve nothing less.

4. What changes have you already experienced in your life? How did you react to the changes? Were you threatened, angry, frightened, disoriented, or excited by the challenge (come on…be honest!)? After reading Who Moved My Cheese? do you feel you dealt as well as you could have with those changes?

WAIT. I can’t think of any major major changes in my life. (Major pun intended.) If you consider the shift from high school to college, I dealt it well. Or from first year to second year, I really had no problem. But I guess, if change will come, I am better equipped for it now. Heck! I might start to expect it.

5. Has Johnson’s book helped you see how change can be beneficial…in life in general, as well as in your own work or personal life?

I FIND myself pondering when the book pop the question “If you weren’t afraid, where will you be now?” I don’t like when I’m afraid, I can’t move freely or think straight but in retrospect, in the times of being frightened, those were moments I do extraordinary stuff and those were the times I sought God. As oxymoron as it sounds, fears helps build confidence and faith.

However, the “cheese” concept per se taught me nothing I have already learned. I am always reminded of the phrase “survival of the fittest” from Charles Darwin’s Theory of Natural Selection. Or the tagline “Adapt or Die” from Joe Wright’s action movie “Hanna”, starred by Saoirse Ronan. (Am I going off-topic now?)

6. If you read “A Discussion,” the book’s third section, what did you learn from the way others interpreted the book? Were any situations similar to your own?

THE “ALUMNI” discussion shows that the concept of cheese can be interpreted in different ways. Either way it leads to make our life better. The only close situation I can get (since I’m not yet in the corporate world) is Elaine’s problem of letting go of her old relationship with “serious molds”. Angela further recommends  that “what we really need to let go of is the behavior that keeps causing our bad relationship. And then move on to a better way of thinking and acting.” For if we don’t change, we will keep getting the same “moldy” results.

7. Do you wish Johnson had offered concrete answers to the question of dealing with change? Would you have preferred a “how-to” approach, say, a step-by step guide? Or do you appreciate the way in which readers are free to interpret and apply the parable for themselves? Which approach is more helpful to you?

NO! I like how Johnson turns these mundane ideas to something interesting. The “How-To” approach is dull. True it leads to you the lesson directly but it doesn’t let you experience the lesson, just like the parable. Having different interpretations make the concept altogether fun, this shows that you can modify it in your own needs. Take what you want and leave what is unnecessary.

8. In the parable, Johnson says the four characters represent the four parts of ourselves, from the simple to the complex. What does he mean: which character represents which part of ourselves? Is there one character you relate to more than the others?

I’M STILL figuring out if the four characters represent four parts of ourselves since the two rats act in unison. So, I’ll consider three. Hem represents our personality when we think too much, the rats for when we simplify ideas and Haw for when we discern which is appropriate between the two . Of course no one is absolutely better than the other. It’s just a matter of situation. Math exam, for instance, you don’t just simply answer what is in front of you. You think outside the box! (Which is thinking too much.) You might be missing some fundamental rules of factoring, like I just did in my previous calculus quiz.

For mnemonic purposes, the rats, Hem and Haw may represent Sigmund Freud’s Id, Ego and Super Ego.

9. Why is it so hard for most of us (all of us?) to accept change?

UNLIKE THE instantaneous rate of change that can be solve using derivatives, change in real life is insatiable. You can’t exactly calculate, for instance, the future returns of transferring to another university. People resist change because of uncertainty.  People like change if it is in their best interest but since it is uncertain that change can either be beneficial or detrimental, they shun the idea.  Change threatens our stability, our comfort zone.  I mean, who are we kidding? Who wants to be exposed to risk?

But sooner or later, environment will force us to change. It’s just a matter of time. Besides, adapting change is one of the secrets of a contented life. As a famous poet once wrote, which I can’t verify, “You can’t see the ocean without first losing sight of the island.”

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Clayton Riddell is on the way home after he sold his comic work when a man bites off the ear of a dog. A woman charges to a vendor. Numerous distant screams. Before Clayton knows it, the world is already in chaos. He realizes that the cell (phones) makes a person crazy when he listen to it.  Clay, together with his pick-up friends, Alice and Tom, races from Boston across Kent Pond when he remembers that his son owns a cell. Stephen King’s “The Cell” pulls off a not-so horrifying thriller in a gory zombie tale.

Cell (2006) by Stephen King

When I was reading “The Cell”, Stephen King’s “The Gunslinger” keeps reminding me that this is not worth the time but I am actually impressed to see a dramatic improvement from his writing, which is reasonable since King admits he haven’t been in writing workshops until, I guess, when he started writing the second book of the Dark Tower series. In this work, he chooses the words carefully and manages to tickle you in serious moments but one thing is still disappointing, he’s not a compelling storyteller or should I blame it to the plot? In the middle, when the dynamic trio escapes to an English boarding school, or even before that, the story slouches, no not being a slow pace but it gets boring. He narrates the zombies and what they are doing but it gets worn-out to see the little progress of these creatures. At first, zombies eats another zombies, then they learn how to team up and start to flock to right then to left, then they start to sing and on and on. It would have been fine if these things plays a great role or even a satisfying epiphany in the end, but no they just get blown up. This just shows that these zombies’ deteriorated brains can’t think well. (more…)

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Jack and his group wields fire as a sign of triumph

As I trudge to the classics, I found one that I wish I didn’t explored. “The Lord Of The Flies”, I would describe, is a luscious fruit matched with an enticing color (and even in an elegant food packaging) that in the end you would just throw away.

The labeled description tag attached to the fruit’s head says: A group of British boys crashes to an isolated island with no food and no adult. In the tense for survival, they decide to create a pack with a leader who happens to Raplh. All is well until one by one ceased to obey orders to follow another leader, Jack, who is more capable of gathering food. By then, all begins to get gory. The two leaders witness a clash of leadership and a conflict of interest among other boys. This story shows the existence of evil from a human mind amidst of loose laws and beliefs (and perhaps distinguishes Freud’s id, ego and superego.)

I know this doesn’t happen much in reviews but I admire the book’s layout. All of them – leading, tracking, font style, font size – pleases my eyes. The width of the book, which is considerably short, and with its rectangular size slides perfectly in my pocket. A perfect travel companion.

Now back to the rant. (more…)

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“Animal Farm” is an allegorical novel of the political abuse of Stalin or any abuses of the idea of communism or totalitarianism. This fable, portrayed by talking animals, is also a showcase how the downtrodden people suffered from the reign. How uneducated animals are led to misery by the leader’s corrupt use of language. How the gullible animals are fooled in thinking they have the Utopia. And most of all, how humans can be like animals.

animal_farm_book_cover

Animal Farm (1945)

The story starts on the rebellion of the animals under the supervision of Mr Jones, the landlord of the farm. He is a diligent and hardworking man however, at some point, he became lethargic and forgot to take care of the animals. In result, the animals are underfed and overworked for several days. One night when Mr Jones comes home, the animals expect for their compensation however they got none. At last, the animals can’t take it anymore and decide to take the matter for themselves. They kick and punch their oppressors and in the end manage to overthrow all Mr. Jone’s lot.

After triumph, the intellectual pigs assumed the leaders’ position. By then, the farm prospers. They harvest harder and better than Jones’. They also undergo many reforms like educating the animals and establishing moral laws. However, things get ugly when Napoleon hungers for power and supreme authority. He purges and kills anyone who poses threats on his plans. Since most animals can’t think for themselves and regarded as “stupid”, they believe and follow all Napoleon says and orders. Before they knew it, their freedom from Mr Jones slowly becomes a prison of dystopia.

I admire George Orwell for his stubbornness. His book criticizing Stalin’s regime, at that time, is a controversial topic. It is like a taboo that’s why almost all of the publishers rejected his proposal. But at last when the World War II ends, one publisher took charge. From them on, the book have steady sales. (more…)

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Have you ever wondered how far a mother will go to save her leukemic daughter? Would you consider a designer baby as a last resort? Is it the right thing to do? Or if it is normal to stop monitoring your other children because you have to tend the dying one?  Would you choose to save your daughter while putting the other one’s life at risk? Here, in the book, the situation presents itself.

My Sister's Keeper

My Sister's Keeper (2005)

My Sister’s Keeper is a story about the Fitzgerald family suffering the after effects of considering genetic implantation to conceive a child. The family had two children Jesse and Kate. The latter, at the age of two, is diagnosed of APL, a rare type of leukemia, barely curable. With a perfect donor match, Kate can live longer. The mother, Sarah, decided to conceived a child through test-tube. The embryo’s genes is perfectly altered to match those of Kate’s. Thus, Anna is born.

At childbirth, Anna had already donated a cord blood. Since then until thirteen, she have been giving blood, tissues and bone marrows to her sister Kate. Luckily, Kate had survived these past years and had the pleasure of kissing a boy. However, as time pass, Kate’s body begins to deteriorate and is need not just a refillable source but an organ – a kidney or else she’ll die. At best, Anna has to stop playing hockey and will not be able to drink alcohol. At worst, she might die or experience paralysis. The risks prompt Anna to think twice. In the end, she seeks for medical emancipation. She sues her parents for the rights of her own body. (more…)

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I loathed science since grade school, particularly biology. I don’t get how learning the cell’s structure and its division stages going to help me in getting a job or living my life. Certainly, the subject is not an entertainment with its countless terms, which were probably derived from Greek words. After reading the book I still didn’t like studying science, probably I never will. But at least, for a moment, I enjoyed the topic.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

Henreitta Lacks at the cover

The Immortal Life Of Henrietta Lacks is a biography of Henrietta Lacks, the woman behind the HeLa (hee-lah) cell line which helped produce in studying tissue culture and develop various medicines and medical advances: polio vaccine, chemotherapy and cloning – to name a few; and the struggle of Lackses family at the death of their mother, Henrietta, both from personal, ethical and political issues. The story does not only tell the grieving loss but also highlights the racism and medical  advances in the past century, which makes it a good choice for a book club discussion.

Henrietta Lacks, a poor tobacco farmer and an African-American, died at the age of 31 out of urinal dysfunction cause by cervical cancer. Her cells were taken without her consent but before her death, George Gey, a scientist, had already been interested to her cells – the first one to live immortally outside the human body.  Worst of all, the family had been deprived of such knowledge and some companies were making money out of it. (more…)

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Pride and Prejudice stood through time. Crossed cultural boundaries. Translated to hundreds of languages. Studied in an English Class. Inspired aspiring writers. Mirrored the early 19th century England. The only thing that a contemporary reader can ask would be how beautiful it is.

Jane Austen

I don’t know if its true but they say Jane Austen started the brigade of Chick Lit, a genre of fiction featuring a female protagonist, often in a humorous ambiance, mostly includes romance and requires less thinking of its readers. I find it likely true if one stripped the language into a contemporary tone, remove the setting from its place, replace with a quirky cover. But it will likely ruin the book.

The novel highlights the economy of the 19th century England, including its system. In the author’s days, it reveals the woman is in need for a man for economic benefits and reputation and least likely for love. The women are powerless and inferior compared to man unless they have money or of in a higher position. (more…)

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