Weekly Photo Challenge: Path (4)

This week’s DP challenge is Path.

While visiting the Plitvice national Lakes in Croatia, we walked on this curvy path.

The boardwalks there bring us close to the waterfalls and other water features.dscf0358a

While my previous post shows a birds-eye view of the boardwalk; this photo shows a close up of the boardwalk.

The walk brought us a close view of the waterfalls; it was amazing!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Opposites ( Sanqing Shan )

This week’s DP photo challenge is Opposite.

I like hiking up the Sanqing Mountain in China.

It is a place of high mountains with contrasting views.DSCF0986

On both sides of a gorge, we have trees reaching out to the opposite direction as if trying to hold hands with each other.

Both sides of the gorge are steep, but one side is relatively smooth and the other side sort of rugged.

Lion Dance – Tiled Art

This week’s photo challenge is Eyes.

I have been photographing this ancient building in China which has been restored a few times in the past.

This was taken at the corner of two walls which are tiled.DSCF1184

The tiled painting shows Lion Dance in the middle – you can see at least 5 Lions there with their vivid eye.

At the bottom there is a procession of sorts.

On the right, there is a sword dance by two people.

On the left are people playing the musical instrument.

This is more than just a cartoon!

Patchwork Road at Biei, Hokkaido

I am going to show you two pictures of the so called Patchwork Road at Biei, Hokkaido.

The first one was taken by my brother last week was he was there. His picture shows a much wider and open field. The clouds in the sky was interesting too.11873750_10207437034782639_694644250704798477_n

The second picture was taken by my some years ago in the same area. Obviously, I did not take the picture from the same angle or location, it shows the fields in more detail.cimg0203

However, I believe, both pictures when taken together would give readers a good idea as to how beautiful the place is.

My Chinese Calligraphy Homework

Last year, I provided an update in the “About” page  on my activities in retirement.

This is about time I should provide another update.

I have been learning Chinese Calligraphy for slightly over one year now, I am struggling with learning my Spanish grammar and I have also started learning a special form of TaiChi known as the “Water Flowing” form which does not emphasize on the mechanical external form of the exercise – it focuses on the internal work of the body (really hard to explain and learn!).CIMG3702

This week, I have spent over one hour writing the attached calligraphy. This is for handing over to my teacher for his comment coming Saturday. In the past year, I have learned writing in  four different fonts of the Chinese characters. The one posted is the simplified free-flowing form. Every week, my teacher will tell me what are the problems with my writing and how I should improve.

Have also attended some Chinese calligraphy exhibitions locally.DSCF2722

What I enjoyed most was visiting the BaiWangShan garden in Beijing where they have some calligraphy carved in black slate for appreciation.DSCF2735

The slates have poems written by scholars carved into them. It was not only the calligraphy but also the Autumn foliage in the gardens which added to the poetic mood.

With the different Chinese fonts now readily available from the computer / internet, less and less people are learning or practising Calligraphy now.

It is foreseeable that Chinese Calligraphy could become a dying art as well!

Early Retirement = Early Death?

There are conflicting research results on whether early retirement is a cause for early deaths.

1. On one hand, there are researches which show that one additional year of early retirement causes an increase in the risk of premature death of 2.4 percentage points or 1.8 months in terms of years of life lost.

A study by Shell, which followed their workers for 26 years, suggested that survival for those who retire at 65 are greater. “ Survival rates remained significantly greater for those who retired at age 65 compared with those who retired at age 55,” the researchers wrote. Many people underestimate the importance of their job when they give it up.

2. On the other hand, Dr. Sing Lin in his paper “Optimum Strategies for Creativity and Longevity” dated 2002 pointed to an opposite direction. One of his conclusions is that ” if you are not able to get out of the pressure-cooker or the high-speed battleground at the age of 55 and “have” to keep on working very hard until the age of 65 or older before your retirement, then you probably will die within 18 months of retirement. By working very hard in the pressure cooker for 10 more years beyond the age of 55, you give up at least 20 years of your life span on average.”

See his paper  on link : http://faculty.kfupm.edu.sa/COE/gutub/English_Misc/Retire1.htm

From his actuarial study of the age at retirement vs life span done at Lockheed Martin and at Boeing, he came up with the following paired results of Age at Retirement /Average Age At Death:

49.9/86,   51.2 /85.3,   52.5 /84.6,   53.8 /83.9,    55.1 /83.2,   56.4 /82.5,   57.2 /81.4,   58.3 /80,    59.2 /78.5,   60.1 /76.8,   61 /74.5,   62.1 /71.8,   63.1 /69.3,   64.1 /67.9,   65.2 /66.8

For instance, if you retire at age 49.9, his results show that you may live to 86, whereas, if you retire at age 65.2, you may only have  1.6 years to live and die at 66.8. In Boeing’s numbers, employees retiring at 65 typically received their pension checks for only 18 months (at Lockheed, 17 months).

So, what should one believe?

The Boeing / Lockheed Martin studies did not indicate how big the population looked at and whether they were statistically significant for other types of employment where there are lower work stresses. Whereas, the Shell study may have been influenced by the relatively poor state of health of their staff who (were forced to ) retire early because of their poor health.

As reported in a Telegraph article, “Those forced into early retirement generally have poorer mental health than those who take routine retirement, who in turn have poorer mental health than those who have taken voluntary early retirement” and “Early retirement is generally good for people’s health and well being unless it has been forced on them.”

We tend to build our lives around our work,” an expert Milner said. “When we are no longer working, we can lapse into lack of activity, and that can contribute to bad health.”

So, let’s look at the plus and minus sides of retirement:

On retirement– there is a reduction of job related stress that leads to increased blood pressure and other bad habits that come with many jobs. However, for some, there may be an increase of stress due to worries about not having enough money for the retirement or the lack of identity and purpose of life.

Pre-retirement –  complaining about one’s career and the management might have cost one a decade of life, not to mention perhaps several decades of living. However, for some people, work gives them a sense of purpose and for the rare few, the only purpose in life.

The crucial question is whether you are able to structure your retirement life such that there are more positive benefits than negative impacts.

To be healthy, retirement must be active“, Milner said. In his experience, he said, “retired people who plunged into new activities enjoyed their lives more, and were thus healthier. One study showed “that older adults who volunteer to help others can reduce their risk of dying prematurely by 60 percent,” he said.

So, while generally a reduction in work related stress is conducive to longer living, in our retirement we must not let ourselves  lapse into lack of activity but to remain physically, mentally and socially active. For those who regard work as the only purpose in life and have no activities outside work,  continue working may be better off as they have already achieved their purpose.

“We don’t stop playing because we grow old; We grow old because we stop playing” – George Bernard Shaw