Ti Ti’s Spin on My Weltanschauung
And Mine on Hers

This essay is about Ti Ti. She is the link that connected our two families, which live halfway around the world from each other. My recognition that we are family has greatly influenced my life…as in giving me a purpose. From the time that Ti Ti and I played Scrabble on my first trip to Myanmar six years ago to my latest trip during winter break, that serendipitous occurrence radically affected me.

Ti Ti is a vastly multi-faceted young lady. That term, young lady, is intentional. Daw Aung San Suu Kyi is also called the Lady. I asked Ti Ti a couple of years ago what she wanted to do when she grew up. Her response, as a young teenager, was that she wanted to help her country develop. Ti Ti is a young version of the Lady.

To say that Ti Ti is educationally an extremely gifted person is a huge understatement. She won first place in the Shan State math competition. She is fluent in English as her second language. She is artistic when it comes to drawing and is also an excellent poet and writer.

After I wrote a couple of recent articles, Our Reason for Being and The Use of Drugs, I asked Ti Ti to critique those two essays about my response to a postcard that I found in a pair of loafers that I had ordered through Amazon. While my shoes are nice, it was the postcard that caused me to think and ponder. It was my eureka moment and a precise parallel to the way I felt when I watched Randy Pausch’s video, The Lecture.

This was the email that I received from Ti Ti.

Dear Papa Al,

From my point of view, a man is standing straight on a wrecked airplane which means no matter how he fails or no matter how life is hard for him, he would stand tall without blaming how unfortunate he is. More importantly, he is starting at the sky and holding his head high, so he doesn't care that the airplane had broken. It doesn't matter how many times he fails; he will keep trying and trying without giving up believing that there will be a gentle breeze after the storm. Maybe the night will come, maybe the plane will break up. But look at me, "I'm still standing. yeah yeah🎵".

Likewise, you have already danced with the death. So, you don't care more since nothing worse can happen. Whenever we think that we have lost our way, and we look again, we still found so many roads ahead which lead to better ones. You may have failed in many issues, but you will try, try, and try until you reach your goal.

So, my spin on the postcard is" You have still more chances to create a better world".

Yours lovingly,


Ti Ti is correct about me failing at many things in life. Some issues aren’t important in the grand scheme of things and others are. Let me give you an example of both. First, this is the less important. I live in a subdivision, which has identical mailboxes. However, some boxes were put in two decades ago when the subdivision was started and others just recently. Essentially, the only difference is that the older ones have faded over time. I have one of the faded ones.

Additionally, my mailbox also has a hinged door to the box that wouldn’t stay shut for several months. I tried everything imaginable to fix my hanging chad mailbox door, but I failed.

Amid my failed attempts, the Home Owner’s Association (HOA) decided to have the homeowners paint their mailboxes a flat black instead of a very dark greenish black color. Now, I’m not on the board of directors of the HOA, but getting all the boxes to look similar, flat black, wouldn’t be on my list of improvements for the subdivision. Enforcing speed limits within the subdivision would be one of my first suggestions. Nevertheless, the HOA wanted me to repaint my mailbox, which I did.

I removed the latch from the door and the one on the inside of the box itself so that I could paint the box. As I waited for the paint to dry, I looked at the little red flag on the mailbox; it was also faded. I also noticed the handle on the door was discolored too. Why do a third of the painting job? I painted both, waited for them to dry, and reinstalled them.

As I was putting the latch back on the door and the box, I noticed that they could be moved. Bingo. I pulled the one on the box closer to the door thinking that it would hold the door shut. It didn’t. So, I loosened the screws and moved the latch away from the door. Guess what now stays closed? There is a lesson that can be gained from my messing with my mailbox.

You might have noticed an evil eye on the side of the mailbox. I love evil eyes, which are designed to protect people from problems. Hopefully, the mailbox’s evil eye will work on my mailbox. However, my labors regarding my mailbox are nearly irrelevant. Let me move to an extremely important example of my failing.

I have failed in my attempt at raising $500,000 for 1250 laptops for the schools that my granddaughters attended prior to COVID-19. Ti Ti understands that my failure in obtaining that goal deeply troubles me. I have done all that I had to do but failed. I first got incorporated by the IRS as a not-for-profit charity, which is called We Are Family in Myanmar, Inc. It takes several months to be designated in that manner. I filled out all the documents and sent them to the IRS in Washington, DC. My packet arrived at the IRS headquarters about the time when Trump closed the government, which wasted another month.

Finally, Trump realized that shutting the government down was a really dumb mistake and reopened our government. Many weeks later, I got my documentation. I then filled out the paperwork online for GoFundMe. I wrote an essay about wanting to supply laptops for the two schools in Myanmar where my granddaughters attend. I included a video and a couple dozen photos to personalize my appeal. I waited for several weeks. Finally, I was informed that my GoFundMe site is up on the Internet.

Happy Days are here again…I thought. However, someone put the wrong name up for We Are Family in Myanmar link. I emailed them about the error. Now, putting the correct web address isn’t difficult. All that was necessary was to change the address and press Enter. They told me that they were looking into it. All that was necessary was to compare the documentation from the IRS with what they put up and then change it. Finally, they fixed it.

That isn’t the end of the story. PayPal had some glitches that caused several potential contributors problems contributing. Once that was fixed, I had only several months to raise $500,000, get the laptops, improve the Internet reception, and return with the laptops last December. Failure isn’t something that I enjoy. However, I returned to Myanmar during my winter break from teaching empty-handed, but I wanted to visit my family.

Besides, Ti Ti was going off to college in the spring of this year. When I returned, I started to write emails and talk to people about the 1250 laptops again. Then COVIID-19 appeared and caused a global pandemic. At the beginning of June, we have about the same death totals if you combined those of China, UK, France, and Spain. The total populations of those four countries are about 4.5 times larger than the US, but we have about the same number of deaths. Just click on this link: COVID.

Interestingly, almost all educational facilities were shut down throughout the world due to the coronavirus. In America, elementary, high school, and college students are getting their schooling online. I teach online and have for years but having most of all teaching done online in all of America was a herculean task for the teachers and students from K through graduate school. It took time for the teachers and students to get used to online learning.

I can remember having to adjust to teaching online years ago. It isn’t easy to move from onsite to online. It has taken a long adjustment period for both the students and teachers due to COVID-19.

Then it became apparent that most Americans realized that some other Americans can’t afford any type of computer. How will they learn? Not everyone has enough money buy what most take for granted in America. Some students are suffering.

Reenter my goal of raising a half million dollars. Americans tend to have two issues when they think about the world. They tend to be more concerned with America first. The other issue is lack of any real knowledge about the living conditions in the rest of the world. According to The World Bank “almost half the world’s population — 3.4 billion people — still struggles to meet basic needs.” A laptop isn’t a basic need for about half the world.

So, Ti Ti, you are correct about me. I failed to get some Americans up to help me help a couple schools in Myanmar….

You may have failed in many issues, but you will try, try, and try until you reach your goal.

So, my spin on the postcard is" You have still more chances to create a better world".

There are only several comments that I have for your critique. Here they are.

• I don’t like failing. It reminds me how I felt when my parents moved to Mt. Lebanon. I felt both dumb and poor. I didn’t like that feeling. However, that discomfort motivates me.

• I won’t quit trying, but I know that my clock is ticking.

• However, and more importantly Ti Ti, I love and care about you, your sisters, and your parents. I also love your extended family and your country. Interestingly, that relationship all started with you six years ago with this comment, “Hi. My name is Ti Ti. You want to play some games?” Our relationship has helped me to get into high gear.

• I realize that I am not capable of changing the world, but I will continue to try to change what small part of the world that I can change. What you, your family, and the people in Myanmar must see is my effort, even if I fail, at least I tried. My failure is an example of trying. I want you and those in your country to learn to try despite failures. You are correct; you won’t win all the time. However, unless you are willing to fail, you won’t win. So, try.

• Finally, not all American presidents are like Trump. Theodore Roosevelt delivered a speech at the Sorbonne in Paris in 1910. There is one paragraph called Man in the Arena. Don’t forget these words.

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

Oh, by the way, tomorrow is your birthday. Happy Birthday, Ti Ti. I came to your country a half dozen years ago to interview the Lady and failed. But I found a beautiful and brilliant young lady. I am a very happy old man who you and Snow call PaPa Al and Fatty calls Bo Bo Gyi. I would have it no other way.

I am proud of my granddaughters. Ti Ti, Snow, and Fatty.