Faith Commercialization

Watching some great talkshows like Today’s Dialogue, Save Our Nation (both are aired by Metro TV) and Tatap Muka (produced by TV One) featuring greatly influential figures has become one of my hobbies. Freshly invigorating opinions, warm exchange of ideas,  so many things to get from the shows but sadly I fail to find the excerpts of the intelligent discussions on some sites owned by the TV stations broadcasting the shows. Thus, I tried to make some brief and concise notes on these precious ideas conveyed amidst the discussions, and later to get my notes published on my dear blog.

In this post, I would like to show you some witty banters uttered by several outstanding figures in this republic. Hosted by Kania Sutisnawinata, the show was quite lively. And with four male keynote speakers, Kania managed to lead the discussion elegantly.

The four speakers invited here were Soetrisno Bachir (politician, Partai Amanat Nasional top official ), Komarudin Hidayat (moslem intellectual), Yusuf Mansyur (moslem sermonizer, cleric and scholar) and Noorhaidi Hasan (analyst).
The show began with severe criticism about programs airing during sahur time. The programs were considered inappropriate as they displayed too much humor, instead of Islamic teachings and values. 
Mr. Hidayat stated that it is advisable TV stations broadcast some worthwatching  programs that specialize on diverse topics. Therefore, by the end of Ramadhan our TV viewers might have more profound understanding and knowledge on Islam kept on their mind.
What might seem hilarious was a question and answer session. Some university students were attending the show as audience and they were welcomed to ask question(s) to the speakers. The first student blatantly said that he preferred watching the comical sahur programs as watching the jokes kept him wide awake. He asked to Yusuf Mansyur the question “How  many rupiahs do sermonizers get from each of their sermon?” The second student was also asking a pretty much similar question “Is it OK for a sermonizer to spread the religious advice for the sake of his/her own fame?”.
The four speakers were ready to provide varied answers. Komarudin Hidayat said it is quite normal and of course decent enough for a sermonizer to ask for people’s understanding. Sermonizers can ask for some money as long as the amount is agreed between two sides; the inviter and the invitee (in this case, the sermonizers). If the amount is above the normalcy, added Hidayat, asking for it then becomes prohibited. Hidayat suggested the third party role such as a professional event organizer, just to prevent further misunderstanding.
Noorhadi Hasan had quite different opinion. He said  the rate fixing mechanism like this would naturally lead to a healthier sermonizing competition.
Upon hearing this, Yusuf Mansyur was directly clarifying his own stance in this matter. He, as a sermonizer, never states verbally and directly how much money he must get after giving sermon. He even tried to explain that the rate may come up from the people around him, but definitely not himself. And this is just taken for granted. Mansyur later elaborated that living a life as a sermonizer with the aim to earn some financial benefits is certainly not what a good sermonizer has on mind.
(to be continued)

The Bleakest Point of My Blogging Journey

It has been 3 days since the last time I posted my last article. I had almost no time for this blog as I got absorbed by  my efforts to get over the fatigue I had been suffering from. If you may notice, something weird is happening on my homepage. Yes, my right column is not on its right place. It is now ‘hiding’ under the posts. Oddly enough,the layout is normal, the right column is just on its place but every time I view the page, the right column becomes the footer. At first I guessed it was only a viewing issue due to the browser, or server, and blaming this on any other likely factors. Then I realized it was not. Before I used a certain template, this did not happen. But then I shifted to another one and this problem arose. Don’t say “that’s what template backup is for’ because I did the backup and tried to apply all the backup templates I saved on my hard disk. But still, problem remains unsolved.
I have struggled to solve this by contacting somewhat frantically some of my fellow bloggers and experts but definitely there is no considerable progress made so far. And as I am getting tired of seeking the cure of my blog’s ailment, I arrived at a proposition that my template is a superficial factor that is not supposed to dampen my burning blogging spirit so easily. But as I am clueless about what to do and how to fix the whole mess I caused, I just try to apply some templates that can at least soothe my blog’s readers’ sight. I found the template I am using now and thought it might ‘ease’ the pain. The white background makes the ‘abnormalcy’ less noticable and that is what I badly need now.
Now I think I should just think billion times before making some improvement on my blog as I do not even want to imagine to cause another mess worse than what I experience now. Someone help me?

3 Steps to Stay Wrinkle-Free

For both men and women (as there are now more men paying more attention to their appearance),  having wrinkled skin face is clearly uncool. And it is kind of easy to get some anti-wrinkle advice from experts, like stay out of the sun, moisturize, don’t smoke.

But as I read Real age , I discovered some more worthtrying tricks we have never figured before. And this does not involve some ultra expensive branded anti aging products, concoctions, etc.
So here are three more ways to a wrinkle-free face, just like a baby:
  • Eat soy : Soy is great for healing photodamage caused by sun exposure. If you are living in Indonesia, tahu and tempe are two great foods that can help you tighten back your sagging facial skin. Try some other soy-based foods like soy milk, tofu, etc. For girls and women, soy contains isoflavon that give you protection against breast or ovary cancer.
  • Have a cup of cocoa: Cocoa contains two antioxidants (epicatechin and catechin) that help protect skin from sun rays, hydrate skin, boost blood circulation.
  • Sleep on your back: More sleeplines can be found on people’s facial skin and these people tend to sleep on their face. It reminds me of why Prophet Mohammed discourages us to sleep with our face touching the bed.

And to add some more, I have my own wrinkle-free habits: sipping some cups of green tea, facing life with a decent amount of humor, and enjoy each second of this life as a huge gift God has given to me. Cheers!

Restoring My Feeble Reading Mood

Don’t know why it’s harder for me to find some alluring ideas to be my post. So I’m now back to basic, I’m just going to tell you what I’ve been doing since this afternoon. Going to a department store with some relatives is what I just did. While they were having fun, sightseeing, and doing things I was ignorant of, I happened to discover a book section where some books were displayed, an effort of the department store to tempt some potential readers to buy.
It’s been a while since the last time I stepped my feet on some place called ‘bookstore’. I always think the Internet can offer anything free (though to get the free stuffs I have to spend quite big sum of money to get connected with the network, which sounds totally ironic!) so I think it’s foolish to buy things or books in bookstores. I don’t have to buy newspapers as the site already provides the print version.

But then I realized some books are not available online even if I use 24 hours a day 7 days a week to google intensively the whole virtual world to find the free e-books of all my favorite books. Some books are born printed and thus must be purchased, that’s the conclusion I arrived at eventually.
I gazed at the racks and displays and nothing beats the sensation of holding the books you want to read and at the same time having a wallet full of money, more than enough to bring the book you want home. So liberated!!
But what I’m afraid of is becoming a book hunter not a book reader. I bought some books and novels but as time went by I just left them on my book shelf, which always makes me guilt-ridden every time I see them, like they’re waving to me “How dare you leave us stranded here, covered with dusts…”

Things to Learn during ‘Mudik’

Of all socio-cultural phenomena I’ve ever encountered, ‘mudik’ is apparently the most colossal and massive in number of participants. I am never actively involved in this ‘mudik’ euphoria myself. I’m merely a  bystander, a passive spectator, who is constantly listening to how hectic and screwed up ‘mudik’ has become lately. Traffic accident here, traffic jam there, dying casualties reported here, survivors reported there… Feels like my head is completely full of the ‘mudik’ news.
Mudik is definitely a term which is extremely typically Indonesian. I’ve never seen American call themselves doing mudik, though I know they’re doing the exactly same thing for their beloved family members and relatives, like going back to the hometown, family gathering, huge feasts, having fun with people they can’t see on a daily basis. American people usually do these things on national public holidays, such as Thanksgiving.
But what makes Indonesian and American different is the level of discipline.  I do not really have to specify the details as it’s a series of public secrets (or flaws?) we witness every day. The potentially undisciplined trait of Indonesian society is even much aggravated by the government incapability of providing proper and safe infrastructure for citizens. Impatience sometimes ends tragically for some unfortunate people who are eager to rush to their hometown without even clicking their helmets or safety belts.

And this is the thing I hate most to see. To no end, I curse some parents’ shallow way of thinking who wear standardized helmets BUT foolishly let their children’s heads unprotected while they’re acting and riding the bike in such a carefree way, like nothing wrong is happening. Even they don’t get accident, it’s totally those  ignorant parents’ fault to have their beloved kids exposed to the whole street pollutants, damaging sunlight, dusts. I swear that’s not a kind of parent I want to be someday. For parents or parents wannabe who stumbled upon reading this article, stop being  a selfish idiot by wearing helmet for yourselves! And it’s time for the country’s police corps to send these ignorant parents to jail for not taking care of them properly and not educating them how to drive safely. We can’t compromise safety, can we?

Outsmarting Eye Strain

Nowadays there’s nothing strange with seeing people staring closely at screens and monitors. Much of humans’ life now is revolving around electronic devices. Hand phones, pagers, laptops, netbooks, panel controls, all of them have monitors or screens for people to look at.
There’re more and more people suffering from back pain, tense neck, and most of the cases..eye strain. I mean it, I used to think sitting and typing in front of computer wouldn’t be quite agonizing. But now I find it truly torturing.
And what I hate is when it happens, I just can’t really take my eyes off of the monitor easily as leaving the computer means leaving so much work for tomorrow and I want it done ASAP. I have to do routines like checking emails, writing on my blog, twittering, facebooking, and the list goes on. Then my eyes gradually get strained as the time goes by. And I feel like I had to massage my eyeballs to relieve the pain.
I know it’s just the beginning of the next eye-related issues, and I have no intention to have one, of course. But at the same time it’s pretty hard to stop when I am in the middle of activity.
Some friends say we’d better stay away from computer monitor every 2 hours, but recently I just got another information. As what Josh Hanagarne stated, it would be better for us, computer users, to stare at an object 20 feet away every 20 minutes and blink 20 times.
Ok, I guess my 20 minutes is running out…Bye!

Hi people!

As Ramadhan was closer to its end, something happened to my body. I found myself less energetic, I even got a slight fever occasionally, I recovered and suddenly it was recurring yesterday. I felt like I was so unfit. I felt cold when other people around me felt hot.Last night the whole ailment was aggravating and I decided to take a rest earlier..Ughhhh. Thank God, I feel a lot better now. Hope I can get well sooner as tomorrow’s my family’s big day. There’s going to be a massive group of people around my house tomorrow and I simply have to host them well.
But anyway..Happy Iedul Fitri for those celebrating it!
It’s nice to post again to my blog after some time spent with relatives and getting sick after that. Iedul Fitri is festive, emotionally draining (to witness some people shedding tears while forgiving each other), financially beneficial (to get a great sum of money from relatives), and energy draining as well.

Pandeglang: A Hidden Pearl on Java

Some people might wonder where Pandeglang is, or even worse, never knew that Pandeglang really exists or is listed by cartographers on the Indonesian maps. i am indonesian but I do not think it is shameful to say that I have no idea about Pandeglang whereabouts.
However, thanks to a site called www.cintapandeglang.com, I am now more well informed about the town. As I browsed the web to make a little research on Pandeglang, I discovered lots of information relating to its potentials and touris attractions. The most shocking thing to find, to me, is that I know well where Ujung Kulon National Park is but I did not know it is located in Pandeglang.
Then my virtual online adventure went on to the other fascinating sites to have fun at. Carita Beach is depicted as a beach with white brownsh, or whitish brown, sand scattered to soothe your sight. The clean sensation it creates is unbeatable and never fails to draw more visitors. Maybe you know Cilegon, which is famous for its steel industry, now I tell you that this awesome beach lies on Labuan, Cilegon. If you’re a water sport lover, this beach offers you plenty of heavenly pleasure you will badly regret to miss. Cruise ships are pretty much welcomed by a couple of little wharves built here.
Located near the western Java coastal lines, Pandeglang offers us a number of water and beach sports. After the celebrated carita, you might include the other coasts into your itinerary; i.e. Tanjung Lesung Tourist Resort, Bama Coastal Area, and Ciputih Beach. Besides white sand, what these sites offer is relatively the same, except that Bama is now being prepared as a submarine tourist destination where you and your beloved ones can behold and enjoy at ease the splendor of untouched ecosystem.sea corals and myriads fish with lively colors swimming to and fro are some things you can enjoy there.
Enough with the beaches, now for those who do not really like salty water, seas, beaches, coasts, or perhaps those who are worried about sudden tsunami attack, you do not have to leave Pandeglang to find a place where you can unwind yourselves. let’s travel to Cikomoroy Swimming Pool, Curug Gendang (‘curug’ means ‘waterfall’), and Cisolong Sulfuric Hot Spring. Cikomoroy is located in Cimanuk district, about 12 kms away from the downtown. Curug Gendang is near the forementioned Carita. Here you may find a camping ground and be able to bathe or dip into the water pool beneath the 15-meter-high waterfall. Cisolong is reachable by heading towards Kaduhejo district, approximately 10 kms away from the town.
And eventually, the most wel-known site in the town is Ujung Kulon National Park, one of natural world heritage sites on the globe. Declared by UNESCO as an endangered Java rhinoceros preservation, Ujung Kulon is truly a natural paradise.
Now it sounds like you have many things to prepare since i know you’re giving Pandeglang some serious consideration as your next vacation getaway.

Monetizing Your English Grammar and Writing Skills

When someone is pretty much dissatisfied with their current income or just finds himself sacked owing to the crisis, the idea of getting a side job is naturally tempting. No one can resist extra income, can they?

What I’m trying to write is my own personal experience about how to make some money from my writing skills.
Just several days ago, I stumbled upon a site which is aimed at providing a virtual hub of freelance jobs. It was such a divine coincidence as I was also looking for a job that is relatively easy to get. And freelance job sounded like a perfect answer to my prayer. No complicated recruitment process, no applying. What I need to do is just sign up. Signing up enables us to bid any freelance posted jobs on the site. Promote ourselves, fix a decent service rate, and if you’re lucky, you’ll get some hirers trying to employ you. But of course, we have to determine what kind of expertise we have. I chose writing, blogging, copywriting, translating as my areas of expertise. That simple.
Now I’m engaged in a article writing job. I’ll get paid $2.5 per article I manage to make. and that was just a starting price. I am promised to get paid more in case I can improve my quality in the future.  I just started and don’t really enjoy the financial benefit yet as this is my debut work.

Hope I can make considerable sum of money by doing this! Dreaming of purchasing a new laptop!

Past Continuous/ Past Progressive

It’s used to express something that began in the past and was in progress at a particular time in the past.
For instance, it was 7:00 p.m., the TV show began. I started to make a tart cake at 6:55 p.m. and it would take me an hour to finish making it. I was making my tart cake when the TV show began.
But sometimes in casual/ everyday conversations, people tend to use simple past and past continuous alternatively, as they are considered to bring the same meaning in SOME cases. I typed ‘some’ in capital as the two tenses do not bring the same meaning all the time. I know it’s confusing, but once again try to rely on your reasoning or logic. If it makes sense and you can explain why you use a certain tense based on a valid source,  there’s nothing to worry about. That’s what I’ve learned so far.

How Passion can Transform Your Blog

The title above is actually a title of guest posting written by Leo Babauta at Darren Rowse’s Problogger.com. The theme is somewhat hackneyed, I must admit, but some people may still find it useful. 
In his post, Babauta was preaching in great details how critical the role of passion in each of our blogging activities is. He has got seven points altogether on how to tackle most of our blogging problems with passion as the panacea. For those who do not realy have much spare time to peruse his words, just take a look at the following summary.
Seven ways to transform our blogs with passion:
  1. write things we are passionate about
  2. find things to be passionate about (if you are now a passionless blogger)
  3. write when we are excited (not on schedule)
  4. pump up the jams (listening to music while blogging)
  5. coffee
  6. write passionately, become a better writer
  7. read others who are passionate
 To compare to my own personal blogging experience, I would say that there are some points Babauta and I have in common. Speaking of point 1, I do love to write things I am only passionate about. I hardly ever write or post things I don’t even throw a single glance at. Posting something that we do not really like is torturing and futile. 
What about finding things to be passionate about? Since I already found my passion long before starting blogging, I practically have no problem with it. One thing I might consider is perhaps I need to develop some other new and invigorating things to be passionate about. But for the time being, what I know is I do blogging to hone my English skills by sharing what I know.
On the third point, I kind of have a dissenting opinion. I once heard that a good writer should set a target because relying solely on his/her mood to write might be a waste of time. A prolific author even said that we should write only when we get excited or  are in a good mood to write. But regardless of the situation, circumstances, or any possible hampers, it is one of a writer’s jobs to perpetually create a situation where s/he can be excited or is in a glaring mood to work. The same thing applies to bloggers. Blogging is basically writing, isn’t it?
Listening to music is the one and only thing I can do while blogging. It does not make sense that someone can blog intensively while s/he is watching a DVD. I love some classical pieces of music and some pop songs.
 Coffee? I have never thought of becoming a coffee drinker, now and then. So I must disagree with him in this issue. Drinking coffee, to me, is as bad as drinking liquour. I prefer a cup of green tea, or a full glass of fruit juice to wash away the fatigue.
About the sixth point, it is a natural consequence that our writing quality improves as we do blogging continuously.
Reading other passionate bloggers’ contents is a compulsory routine for any novice. It is easier to get some perfect blogging idols as our models, which in turn may boost our spirit to stick to our blogging goals.
See ya!

Blogging in English: Dollars or Nationalism?

I’m not talking about bloggers who are living in English speaking countries, like the US, England, Australia, etc; or some other bloggers who live in countries other than the mentioned above, but are lucky enough to get themselves exposed to English on a daily basis. Who I’m talking about here is a group of Indonesian bloggers, like me, who hardly have chance to practice their English proficiency regularly. 
For bloggers with English as their mother tongue (first language) or second language, blogging in English is a piece of cake, literally. But for us, Indonesian bloggers, unless we’re exceptionally determined, excelled at linguistic skills, erudite/ learned enough to go to college and drench ourselves in some English literary works or writing pieces, we won’t be able to write our blog posts in English entirely.
Today I happened to visit a blog run by a fellow blogger whose nickname is blogger ingusan (conotatively speaking, meaning a novice, green, less experienced blogger in bahasa Indonesia). He posted an article Write in English, Why?, which made me giggle almost to no end because he told something that I am experiencing now, i.e.  the lack of visitors’ response. I’ve had only three or four commentators so far. My blog is already a month old now and having no visitors to comment on what I wrote is unbearably pathetic, I know. There, he spilled all his thoughts, fear and wish about how to blog in English. He elaborated three reasons why blogging in English is worthtrying.
A number of bloggers argue that using Indonesian instead of English shows how much someone’s proud of their national language is. But as a matter of fact, we can’t decide someone’s nationalism solely by measuring how skillful  s/he is at using Bahasa or how frequent s/he is using it. I can’t stress much on the fact that English is one thing, nationalism is another. Language is merely a tool of communicating ideas in blogging. Thus, I get really concerned when I discover someone who uses nationalism issue to cover up their reluctance (or disability?) to blog in English.
 Some time in yesteryear, I was kind of impressed when the first time I found an English blog written by an Indonesian blogger . Though it was actually bilingual, the blog was quite a breakthrough to me. I did find some blogs run by Indonesians but this blog is distingushed in the way that it persuades Indonesian bloggers to write their blogs in English. The blog belongs to Fatih Syuhud, who (if I’m not mistaken) is a graduate of one of Indian colleges. If you’re someone who is fully determined to start  blogging in English, Fatih Syuhud’s blog is certainly a must-visit blog that you must bookmark in your browser.
And to wrap up, I’ll answer the question I used as my post’s title. I blog in English just because I need to actualize myself, my passion about English learning. What about dollars and nationalism?  I do care but not that much, to be frank (presumably true at the time when this post was being typed). Now, what about you, buddies? Is it all about bucks (monetizing stuffs), showing off to the world who you are and what you can do and know or …what? I’d be thrilled to have your words on my comment box. Cheers!
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