Positive Quote For Today

"We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty."— Maya Angelou

The XY Problem

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With permission, I have extracted this picture-quote from a website called Cool n Smart. All rights reserved worldwide.

Knock! Knock! I heard someone hit the door of a toilet at the university in JKUAT where I was sleeping one night because I didn't have anywhere else to sleep. That was back in October 2008 when I had gone astray at JKUAT by neither attending classes nor communicating with my family. When I opened the door of the toilet, it turned out the people knocking were security agents.

The security agents first did a body check on me to see if I was carrying something illegal. And when they saw I was harmless, they took me to an adjoining TV recreation room and asked me to sit down on a seat for interrogation.

They started out by asking me for my university identity card which I had in my pocket that night. When I gave it to them, one of the security agents blurted out, "Yes! You are the one we are looking for."

Some of the security agents were sympathetic with me. They couldn't believe such a fine-looking young man as me could be engaging in such mischief as sleeping in a toilet. But as sympathetic as they were, they told me I had to spend the rest of the night in a police cell as they awaited for my family to come for me. So they peacefully drove me to a nearby police station. A policeman at the station instructed me to take off my belt and watch before he led into the cell where I was to spend the night.

Early the following day, my father, together with Uncle Gibson Mwangi, came for me in the police station. Because I was in a very talkative mood that day, I paraded my knowledge to everyone who handled me. When one officer held a roll of marijuana in her hand and asked me if I knew what it was, I shot back, "That's bhang. But for me, I get high with the spirit of God."

And when the same officer inquired from me why I hadn't been attending classes at the university, I quoted to her from memory the following America's Declaration of Independence:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Unable to handle me, the officer handed me over to my father and Uncle Gibson who took me to a lecturer called Prof. Nyaga, a family friend who was then lecturing at JKUAT. Actually, I was the one who directed them to Prof. Nyaga's office.

At Prof. Nyaga's office, I continued parading my knowledge and being overly talkative. I sang to Prof. Nyaga some verses from the wonderful old hymn, "Land of Our Birth, I Pledge to Thee" - the lyrics full of power for me.

Even though Prof. Nyaga was impressed with my memory, he didn't think I was okay in the head, so he referred me to the university hospital. But because he knew I would resist going to the hospital, he called two guards who at first lied to me that they were taking me to some other place. That place turned out to be JKUAT hospital.

At JKUAT hospital, I was examined by a lady-psychiatrist called Dr. Kitili. She asked me several questions, most of which have slipped my memory. Her only question that I recall was whether I experienced any hallucinations in my thinking. I told her "no". But she went ahead to have me forcefully admitted at Thika Nursing Home, an about ten-minutes drive from JKUAT main campus.

For several years after I was discharged from Thika Nursing Home, I went regularly for medical check-ups during which I received injections and medication. My family came to view me as a mentally sick person. I also came to accept myself as ill and voluntarily took the drugs my doctors prescribed for me.

Coming to think of it, I am now of the opinion that my admission to Thika Nursing Home and my subsequent treatment as a mentally sick person is a good example of what I heard someone call "the XY problem". The XY problem is about coming up with an attempted solution 'X' instead of solving the actual problem 'Y'. That leads to enormous amounts of wasted time and energy, both on the part of people asking for help and on the part of those providing assistance.

Why am I saying that my admission at Thika Nursing Home is a typical XY problem? Because even though I had indeed gone astray at JKUAT, I don't think I was mentally ill. What I needed was guidance on how to find my true passions after I found the engineering course I was pursuing at the university to be completely harassing. That's all I am saying.

RECOMMENDATION: If you've enjoyed this story on the XY problem, you might also enjoy another one I wrote some time back on "Finding the Right Path". Just click on that link in blue to dive straight into the story.


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An Unfair Punishment I Once Did

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This is Starehe Boys' Centre, my beloved Alma Mater, which I will talk about in the story below. And what a beautiful place the centre has grown to be!

We were having a Chemistry laboratory sessioin one afternoon in 2004 when I was in Form 3 at Starehe Boys' Centre. The teacher tutoring us was a gentle and soft-spoken lady called Mrs. Helen Ngigi. It must have been a hot afternoon because I unloosed my tie and unbuttoned the collar of my shirt. And when Mrs. Ngigi saw that I had unloosed my tie, she asked me to go and see Mr. Obudho, the then Starehe Boys' Form 3 Senior Master. She asked me to do so in a gentle way, so I didn't take her seriously.

At first, I chickened out by going outside of the laboratory and then coming back without seeing Mr. Obudho. But our gentle Chemistry teacher followed up on the issue by inquiring from me whether I had seen Mr. Obudho. When I told her I hadn't, she sent me again to go and see him. This time I did by going to Mr. Obudho's office which was just next to the laboratory. I knocked on his door and presented myself to him.

After telling Mr. Obudho that I had been referred to him by Mrs. Ngigi for unloosing my tie during a laboratory session, he took down my name and a few other details, then told me to go back. I headed back to the laboratory unworried by what would happen to me, for I thought unloosing my tie during a lab session on a hot afternoon was a minor issue.

But alas! Come Friday evening of that week, I was astonished to see my name in a list on one of the school's main noticeboards - I had been crucified for "working party"!

"Working party" is one of the most severe Starehe punishments during which culprits are forced to work shirtless for three hours on a Saturday afternoon. I don't think I deserved to be fixed for the punishment for just not wearing a tie during a lab session. There were other minor punishments I could have been asked to do, such as doing twelve press-ups. To put it simply, my crucifixion for "working party" was a travesty of justice.

I am sure if I had the foresight to know that Mr. Obudho would crucify me for "working party", I would have pleaded with Mrs. Helen Ngigi to pardon me for not wearing a tie during her Chemistry class. And she would most likely have pardoned me.

Anyway, I didn't bother to appeal the punishment. And I doubt whether my appeal would have succeeded since the then deputy director in charge of teachers used to think that the likes of Mr. Obudho were adults whose decisions were never to be questioned.

On the afternoon of the Saturday that followed, I availed myself for the "working party" punishment while carrying a bucket, a broom and a mopping rag as I had been instructed. But I made the mistake of turning up in a T-shirt because, as I have said, the punishment is done shirtless. When the captain in charge of the punishment that afternoon saw me wearing a T-shirt, he commanded me to remove it and immediately confiscated it.

After all "working party" culprits of that afternoon turned up, I was sent on my way to the other side of Starehe where laboratories are found and where I was to do my punishment. I felt embarrassed to be seen walking shirtless on my way to the other side of the school. It really was embarrassing.

As I headed towards the laboratories, I met Kenneth Karani - an old boy of Starehe who had left the school a few years before and who knew me very well. Karani was surprised and disgusted with me to see me do "working party". And he expressed his disgust by speaking to me briefly in a stern voice and walking away from me. How I wish he knew I had been punished unfairly!

During the "working party", I swept, scrubbed and mopped a whole laboratory alone for close to three hours. The prefect supervising me must have been a kind fellow as I can't remember incurring his disapproval over what I was doing. After I did the punishment to his satisfaction, he released me. And then I began another embarrassing journey back to the other side of Starehe. Remember, I was walking shirtless while carrying a bucket, a broom and a mopping rag - the equipment I had used to do the punishment.

And guess what! Just as I was about to cross to the other side of the school, I saw my father coming out of the gate of that side. He had come to visit me and my immediate elder Paddy who was also in Starehe at that time. Because I didn't want my father to see me shirtless, I avoided meeting him. He therefore left the school without having seen me that Saturday afternoon.

When I went back to the other side of Starehe where dormitories are found and after dodging my father, I rushed to my house through a road that had few people because I was feeling ashamed to be seen shirtless. And when I reached the room where I was staying, I put down my punishment equipment and wore a shirt. Though I don't recall what I did next, I am sure I must have felt relieved that the whole ordeal was now over.

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Bible Quote

"Always be full of joy in the Lord; I say it again, rejoice! Let everyone see that you are unselfish and considerate in all you do... Don't worry about anything; instead pray about everything; tell God your needs and don't forget to thank Him for His answers. If you do this, you will experience God's peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand."

~Phillipians 4:4-7 (TLB)

About the Author

Name: Thuita J. Maina
Nationality: Kenyan
Lives in: Kiserian, Rift Valley, Kenya
Mission: To inspire the world to godly living, one person at a time.

Just For Laughs

There was this drunkard named Azoge who loved drinking at Josiah's Bar. On being told a certain Hon. Nanga was flying to America to be conferred a law degree so that he could be admitted to the bar, Azoge replied, "Why fly all the way to America to be admitted to the bar while you can get into Josiah's Bar any time?"

The 7 Deadly Sins

  1. Pride
  2. Envy
  3. Gluttony
  4. Lust
  5. Anger
  6. Greed
  7. Sloth

Author's Note

I am learning to treat life as a journey, not a destination. So I am trying to enjoy each day as I anticipate to fulfill my dreams especially meeting my soulmate and traveling abroad. Tomorrow may never be mine.

Fun Facts

  1. The fear of having no cell-phone service, running out of battery, or losing sight of your phone is called Nomophobia, reportedly affecting 66% of people.
  2. A single Google search needs more computing power than it took to send Apollo 11 to the moon. The Apollo computer was less equipped than a modern toaster.
  3. Besides being some of the biggest names in the tech industry, HP, Apple, Google and Microsoft share another commonality. They all started in garages.
~Extracted from Codingforums.com

Health Tip

So many of us take for granted the wonderful construction of the human body and the workings of its various parts. Some of us even expect it to function efficiently with less than the minimum care and attention. Learn the much you can about your body and how the care of it can help to give you that greatest blessing of all - good health.

Wonders of the Modern World

  1. The Simplon Tunnel
  2. The Sky-scrapers of New York
  3. The Boulder Dam of Colorado
  4. The Panama Canal
  5. The Golden Gate Bridge
  6. The Taj Mahal at Agra in India
  7. The North Sea Oil Drilling Rigs

Great Example for Politicians

"My life in politics was a joy. I loved campaigns and I loved governing. I always tried to keep things moving in the right direction, to give more people a chance to live their dreams, to lift people's spirits, and to bring them together. That's the way I kept score."

~Bill Clinton

Scientific Marvels

  1. Space travel
  2. Heart surgery
  3. Fibre-optics communication
  4. Concorde
  5. Computers & Radios
  6. Anesthetics
  7. The atom bomb

My Supreme Desire

Although I'd like to be rich and famous, my supreme desire is to be radiant: to radiate health, cheerfulness, calm courage and goodwill. I wish to live without hate, guilt, worry, jealousy, cynicism and envy. I wish to be honest, natural, confident, clean in mind and body - ready to say "I do not know" if it be so and to treat all men with kindness - to meet any loss, failure, criticism and rejection unabashed and unafraid.

Greatest American Presidents

  1. Abraham Lincoln
  2. George Washington
  3. Thomas Jefferson
  4. Franklin Roosevelt
  5. Theodore Roosevelt
  6. Woodrow Wilson
  7. Andrew Jackson

Making Peace With the Past

"Dwell not on your past. Use it to illustrate a point, then leave it behind. Nothing really matters except what you do now in this instant of time. From this moment onwards you can be an entirely different person, filled with love and understanding, ready with an outstretched hand, uplifted and positive in every thought and deed."

~Eileen Caddy

Toughest Colleges to Get Into

  1. MIT
  2. Princeton
  3. Harvard
  4. Yale
  5. Stanford
  6. Brown
  7. Columbia

Why You Should Trust God

"Men and women who turn their lives over to God will find out that He can make a lot more out of their lives than they can. He will deepen their joys, expand their vision, quicken their minds, strengthen their muscles, lift their spirits, multiply their blessings, increase their opportunities and pour out peace."

~Ezra Taft Benson

The 7 Greatest Scientists

  1. Albert Einstein
  2. Isaac Newton
  3. Galileo Galilei
  4. Nikola Tesla
  5. Aristotle
  6. Archimedes
  7. Charles Darwin

You Matter

"Always be yourself. Never try to hide who you are. The only shame is to have shame. Always stand up for what you believe in. Always question what other people tell you. Never regret the past; it's a waste of time. There's a reason for everything. Every mistake, every moment of weakness, every terrible thing that has happened to you, grow from it. The only way you can ever get the respect of others is when you show them that you respect yourself and most importantly, do your thing and never apologize for being you."


The Most Industrialized Nations

  1. The United States
  2. Japan
  3. Germany
  4. France
  5. United Kingdom
  6. Italy
  7. Canada

Keys to Success

"...in his effort to withstand temptation, to economize, to exercise thrift, to disregard the superficial for the real - the shadow for the substance; to be great yet small, in his effort to be patient in the laying of a firm foundation; to so grow in skill and knowledge that he shall place his services in demand by reason of his intrinsic and superior worth. This is the key that unlocks every door of opportunity, and all others fail."

~Booker T. Washington

The 7 Social Sins

  1. Politics without principle
  2. Wealth without work
  3. Pleasure without conscience
  4. Knowledge without character
  5. Commerce without morality
  6. Worship without sacrifice
  7. Science without humanity

Cherish What You Love

"Cherish your visions, cherish your ideals, cherish the music that stirs in your heart, the beauty that forms in your mind, the loveliness that drapes your purest thoughts - for out of them will grow all heavenly environment, of these if you but remain true to them, your world will at last be built."~James Allen

The World's Largest Cities

  1. London in England
  2. New York in the United States
  3. Tokyo in Japan
  4. Berlin in Germany
  5. Chicago in the United States
  6. Shanghai in China
  7. Paris in France

Benefits of Optimism

"In terms of success, optimistic people out perform their pessimistic colleagues. Research shows that they are consistently promoted higher and make more money while working fewer hours than those who think pessimistically. Optimists also contribute more significantly to social progress. It is the optimists who start and run successful companies, who win elections and carry out reforms, and who make breakthroughs in the realms of science and technology."

~Pepe Minambo

The World's Greatest Lakes

  1. Caspian Sea in the Commonwealth of Independent States, C.I.S. (formerly U.S.S.R)
  2. Lake Superior in North America
  3. Victoria Nyanza in Central Africa
  4. Aral Sea in C.I.S.
  5. Lake Huron in North America
  6. Lake Michigan in North America

Demonstrating His Love

"Take your communication for instance - the way you address others. It ought to be with loving, gracious and edifying words. Never talk people down. Never use words that hurt and demean people. Communicate excellently with others without destroying their self-image or making them feel sorry for themselves. Talk to people in a way that they never forget the excellence of your words, the love and grace of Christ that you communicated. It's how God wants us to love."

~Dr. Chris Oyakhilome

World's Longest Rivers

  1. Missouri-Mississipi (U.S.)
  2. Amazon (Brazil)
  3. Nile (Egypt)
  4. Yangtse (China)
  5. Lena (Russia)
  6. Zaire (Central Africa)
  7. Niger (West Africa)