Sunday, December 28, 2008

Being Thankful Even In Hard Times

Sometimes I think maybe... just maybe having little money is a good thing.

When you are a billionaire, you might not be motivated to tap your hidden talent, to act, to write, to be creative and produce works of art. Your every need is pandered for.

LIke Alexander the Great asked after conquering the known world, is there anything more to conquer?

What's worse than having in hard times, is having all the money you ever need and yet not having goals. Being bored with life. That's even more depressing.

When you're too rich, how much pleasure do you find in a simple meal and a treat at a nice restaurant? How much pleasure do you find when someone gives you a gift? Some rich kids have cupboards filled with unopened Christmas presents from all of Daddy's friends. Why? Because there's nothing that their eyes could desire that daddy couldn't buy.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Things I'll Always Have To Live With

  • Managing my own finances.
  • Learning.
  • Taking a cold shower before a swim.
  • Getting up in the morning.
  • Saying when enough is enough and let some things go.
  • Getting anxious before exams.
  • Dying to myself each day.
  • To take the courageous option.
  • To take the most loving option.
We can't delegate to people these things. It's not a comprehensive list, but it's something I realize that I have to contend with the rest of my life.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Happy Holidays? I Prefer Merry Christmas

It's becoming a trend especially in the USA not to greet people with the term "Merry Christmas". This is because companies fear offending people who view it as a religious term against their belief systems (atheists, agnostics and anyone else). Granted, perhaps another reason may be using it as a catch-all term to include Hanukkah as well.

I find it funny that in "Christian" USA this is happening.

The term "Happy Holidays" just seems so cheap, it doesn't provide any feeling of the season being special. I mean, it could be used anytime of the year, memorial day, spring break, school holidays, your vacation to Bali.

Even though Santa Claus is a caricature of St. Nicholas, I still can't imagine him wishing everyone "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas".

"Merry Christmas" brings a feel of warmth of joy and love and peace and goodwill. How can that even compare to "Happy Holidays"? Fine, so some people may use "Seasons Greetings" but what does that mean? Can we use that to welcome Spring, Summer, and Autumn too? How about, "Festive Greetings"? Close--but which festival?

Even in Malaysia and Singapore when Chinese New Year and Hari Raya Puasa coincided, we used both terms or the amalgam Kongsi-Raya.

So, therefore I think we should be more tolerant to the term Merry Christmas.

Monday, December 22, 2008


The true end of humility is self-forgetfulness. If we think it is some kind of opinion of ourselves, that believing that our talents are truly less than what they are, we are believing in a falsehood. It is dishonest.

We are not humble if we are beautiful and handsome and then think we are ugly. Or that we are stupid when we are clever.

Humility is rejoicing in a work whether it is from our own hands or from anothers.

God wants us to be able to rejoice in all things because it is good and excellent.

Think of yourself as a good architect, programmer, accountant or artist. And then forget about it. Humility however, isn't about trying to think that we are bad or incompetent.

To be proud of yourself, you might as well be proud of the colour of your hair. Because your talents are given to you.

Turn your attention outward, not to yourself.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Thinking of Death

I've been to 4 funerals this year. Yes 4 funerals and a wedding, the inversion of 4 weddings and a funeral.

But I think that going to a funeral really does help you to think. I agree with what the Bible says that it is better to go to a house of mourning than to a house of feasting.

It tells you that there are serious matters in this world. Things more important than money, having fun.

It's about your life, and how you want to live your life in this world.

It's about your relationships, and how you want to touch other people in this world.

It's about God, and how you glorified in in this life while you were here.

It's about hope and faith, about where you are sure of going to at the end of this life.

Almost all your achievements to naught in the light of these things.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Casting Stones

"He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first." (John 8:7)

That's often the quote given when someone has to defend himself against accusations of wrongdoing.

I do agree with that quote. It is a direct quotation from Jesus.

I don't doubt that Jesus doesn't condemn us. But people who quote the first part of the Jesus response don't seem to remember the second part of it: "Go and sin no more".

Often times, the quote is used to defend a behaviour that is clearly immoral, but the sinful behaviour is continued. Whereas Jesus commanded us to stop doing it. And that is the thing. We want to escape condemnation but also continue our behaviour. We want to have our cake and eat it too. And so our egos are extremely clever to protect itself, we quote John 8:7 without continuing on to 8:11. The ego is an extremely tough creature to kill.

But it doesn't work that way. Sin is still sin. No doubt the price was paid by the work of the cross but that doesn't mean it gives us a license to sin. It's like a $20000 debt owed to credit card companies that was written off. That doesn't mean we can then start going on a spending spree using our credit cards again.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Human Rights, The New Religion

I really do think now that in this more and more agnostic and atheistic world, the new religion is human rights.

There is no such thing as no religion. Everyone has a religion, a set of moral codes and values that they live by.

Like any other religion it has good points. Human rights are after all, something that is needed in this world. People have the right to be treated fairly, to be allowed access to education, and free from discrimination.

But what I fear from the emphasis on human rights is that it emphasizes the rights of the individual. And in so doing, it creates a self-centered ideology.

What it lacks is the other side of the coin. Responsibility. For every right that we have, we also have a responsibility to use that right well, to use it responsibly. A right to drive a car means that you need to be responsible when driving. A right to free speech means that you must be responsible with what you say.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Terrorists Must Die!

The death of Lo Hwei Yen was a shock to many Singaporeans and residents. Those of us who live here live in a land where crime is low and where most streets are safe.

However, the death of Hwei Yen was a shock. With a population of 4.5 million (and perhaps only 2.5-3million who are truly citizens), the chances of a Singaporean getting killed in a terrorist attack was unthinkable. Even when she was taken hostage, you wouldn't think that the terrorists would have killed a young beautiful lady in cold blood.

But kill they did, execution style, two shots, with one to the head.

Even more shocking was that I know the husband, Michael Puhaidran. We lived in the same hostel together as undergraduates for 3 years, in Raffles Hall. In fact, we were freshmans together, going through the same orientation programme.

Barely one and a half years married, and they had to part ways in a manner that was so sudden and tearful.

I feel angry at the terrorists, and like some of my friends who described it, think they should be stripped, flayed, boiled, spit roasted over an open fire, drawn and quartered and hung up to dry.

However that will not bring our loved ones back. The terrorists who did it have been killed. Like Jesus, I realize that "they know not what they do" and so we ask God for supernatural strength to forgive, something that must come from the Holy Spirit. But it's hard, so hard.

Monday, November 24, 2008

How Much Is Enough?

I really admire Europeans because they emphasize quality of life, they don't spend too much time on overtime and go back to be with their families and spend summer holidays traveling or doing things they like doing.

I wonder whether the same goes for us here in Singapore.

Why work so long hours? So we can earn more money. Then why earn more money? So we can pay the bills and then be able to do the things we want to do.

So let's say we start out with a salary $3000 and then our salary doubles to $6000. Would we then spend more time with our families and doing the things we want to do? No, in fact we will spend roughly the same time at work or even more. Why? Because then our desire for more expensive things increases. Our costs increases.

So let's say our salary increases to $10000, $20000, $30000? Would we still spend more time with our families and doing the things we want to do? Surprisingly, I think that a majority of people will still spend even more time at work.

So if your earning power increases to $20000 from $10000 will you then spend only half-days at work and earn only $10000 and spend the rest of the time with your family, and enjoying your hobbies like reading, taking courses, etc.?

Of course we have to work. Work is good. And of course, there are obligations in life to fulfill, bills to pay, children to feed. However, these costs are actually very little. A salary man earning $2500 can survive just as well as someone earning twice the amount. The only thing is at what quality of life are you satisfied with? Even then, doubling the amount of money spent does not double the quality of life. Owning a $600,000 house does not mean it is double the quality of a $300,000 house, nor a $1.2 million house is quadruple. The returns diminish. And it's not just the amount we spend that determines the quality. As I stated from the beginning, quality of life is also about the amount of time spent, or care given. Being a multimillionaire and yet having a broken family is a very low quality of life.

It then comes back to what we want in life? Is it greed? The desire for more and more and more just for the sake of having more? Or is it expectations from society? That if someone pays us a very large amount of money that we are indebted to sign our souls over to him?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Feel, Want and Ought

I woke up this morning not feeling like exercising, in fact I stayed in bed a bit longer. But in the end I went to get my swimming trunks. I don't like the cold water being showered on me before swimming, but I still did it. And I swam for 30 minutes.

I felt better after that. That I accomplished something.

There are:

Things that I feel like doing and things that I don't feel like doing.
Things that I want to do and things that I don't want to do.
Things that I ought to do and things that I ought not to do.

Things things are not mutually inclusive nor are they mutually exclusive.

Using set theory we have 8 different combinations.

1. Feel like it, want it, and ought to do it. (This is easy to do)
2. Feel like it, want it, and ought not to do it. (Sin normally falls into this category)
3. Feel like it, don't want it, and ought to do it. (Perhaps bitter medicine to be taken)
4. Feel like it, don't want it, and ought not to do it. (Bad habits that you know are wrong)
5. Don't feel like it, want it, and ought to do it. (Work or goals we want to achieve)
6. Don't feel like it, want it, and ought not to do it. (Sins like greed, perhaps may fall into this)
7. Don't feel like it, don't want it, and ought to do it. (Personal problems, defects in character)
8. Don't feel like it, don't want it, and ought not to do it. (Easy not to do this).

Looking at the above chart, assuming that our tasks fall evenly in all 8 categories. Only 1/4 things that we have to do and not do are easy to accomplish.

The other 3/4 of tasks in life are difficult either because we don't feel like it or it's become a habit or personal defect that is preventing us from growing.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

California Proposition 8

Yes8_rgb_250px.jpgBesides California on Proposition 8, Arizona and Florida also voted to define marriage as between a man and a woman.

Instead of getting into a whole argument about rights, etc., I only have one question for critics of Proposition 8.

Should an incestuous brother and sister couple be allowed to marry?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Differences in Opinion

respect_fergie.jpgRecently, a friend of mine got entangled in a discussion on California Proposition 8 which defined marriage as between a man and woman.

Besides Christians, Muslims and Jews also supported this proposition.

Because my friend expressed his support of Proposition 8 and revealed his views on homosexuality, he was roundly pilloried for it by his pro-homosexual friends, being condemned as being intolerant and even being un-friended on Facebook.

Some of the things I learned is that people will be upset with just having a different opinion than them, so be careful about who and what you reveal to people.

However, being condemned for having a different opinion is unfair. Real discrimination is when someone denies you a seat on a bus, or refuses to give you a job, a place in university, a promotion.

To merely have a different viewpoint and being condemned for it, is the real intolerance.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Barack Obama to Win

rolling_stone_obama_cover.jpgWith a face like that on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine, who needs a makeover? I just can't imagine a dumpy old man like McCain on Rolling Stone.

I am Republican in ideology but I think that Obama represents more than just a party's policies.

Obama is also symbolic. And people also vote for symbols. Obama is perceived to be black (though he is just as much white). So he will be the first African-American to be POTUS. He also has links to Africa and Asia, his election will be a significant turning point in history.

But I think that I would vote for him not because he is symbolical, but because he does come across as politically astute, very intelligent, courteous. He distanced himself but didn't disown his own pastor despite the pastor mouthing racist sermons, he was loyal to him in spite of it. And that to me shows character.

I think that McCain got the short end of the stick from his party. They figured that it would have been difficult for a Republican to win another term. Very, very few parties hold on for more than 2 terms unless the incumbent was really popular (like Reagan). So McCain is the sacrificial lamb for this term. Republicans will probably win in 8 years time in 2016. I think that Barack should stay in power if he performs fairly competently and nothing really catastrophic happens in his first 4 years.

However, I think that people are expecting too much from him. One man in charge of the nation will still not solve the whole world's problems. Reality will set in that things are going to be tough, terrorism and the economy will still be issues and that faith in man will still disappoint.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Deciding To Be Evil

I don't think people wake up in the morning deciding to be evil. Nobody wakes up in the morning thinking "Let's see how much havoc I can wreak today". (There could be one or two exceptions). But I think they do make decisions on values and identity.

They may make decisions on other people. They may decide that "People are lazy". "People are stupid", "People need guidance", "People are ignorant", "My wife doesn't understand me", "My children are a burden", "I want to show my teacher I am significant"

They may also make decisions about themselves and what they want to do about it. "I want to get pleasure in life." "I am a great seduction artist", "I am a great leader", "I am a loser", "I am a winner", "I know a lot of things".

It's from these decisions that all other decisions and attitudes follow, even if reality doesn't bear out that truth. A person who thinks he is a great boss but doesn't have the people skills that match it will encounter difficulty when things don't seem to be working out. He may then rely on outdated skills or things learned from his parents or his ex-bosses. Or a person who believes he knows a lot of things that starts boasting, yet in reality people think him over-inflated and a bore.

I don't think HItler decided to be evil one fine day. But he did decide that Jews are bad and the cause of Germany's problems. He did decide that some people's lives are worth less than the cost of maintaining them if they weren't productive.

It's these decisions that shape you and I. Thinking about it. It's all the other tiny decisions that we make, the words we say, "You're bad", "You horrid thing", "You're an asshole", "I'm never going to make it" that make us who we are.

That's why again, it comes back to what we think. Thinking good thoughts is good but deciding and believing those thoughts are true is a different matter. I can think but not believe, "I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength". To believe in it is different. To think and know, "God loves me" is one thing. To believe "God loves me" is something else.

Donating Blood

Birthday Donor Sticker

Originally uploaded by nicodemus_chan.

I donated blood today on my birthday. It wasn't on purpose, just that I had time today.

So it seems that they even have stickers for people who do so. Quite a few people actually use their birthdays to donate blood. It isn't a rarity.

What did I get? An piece of cake, a cardboard photo frame, and a paper bag to go with it.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Ngee Ann Student Film Shoot

I'm doing a shoot for a student film today on location at McNair road.

Friday, October 31, 2008


The most common way to avoid existential pain of problems is to practise some form of self-deceit that may be termed a neurosis.

Neurosis is always a substitute for legitimate suffering. — Carl Jung.

Carl Jung's quote implies that there is suffering that is useful, healthy even, that there is something to learn through it. Neurosis impedes our learning.

There are two types of neurosis, ego alien and ego syntonic.

Alien neurosis means that the patient recognizes it as stupid and inefficient and wants to get rid of it.

Syntonic means that the patient thinks it is normal, healthy even friendly and that the problem is with the world. Another term for this is "character disorder".

Neurosis can be viewed as disorders of responsibility. One sees that all of the responsibility lies with him, the other puts the blame on the world.

There is a pain involved in discerning where our boundaries and responsibilities lie. A neurotic avoids this pain by automatically blaming herself or the world.

The work of psychotherapy is for us to face the realities of this world. To face the pain. With discipline all problems can be solved. Unfortunately, some avoid the pain of discipline.

A person unwilling to be cured is one who is unwilling to dethrone his/her ego to a higher power, even if that power is labeled "life" or "reality".

Monday, October 27, 2008

Jesus Archetype in the Movies

Neo in the Matrix series. Dies and resurrects with greater power.

Klaatu in The Day the Earth Stood Still. An other wordly being in human form who also dies and resurrects.

Superman. An other worldly being with great powers who is sent by his father to save the world.

Various characters in Lord of the Rings. Gandalf's death and resurrection. Aragorn as the king who returns and who is a healer. Frodo who is the one who carries the burden that no one else can.

In fact, in a lot of movies, you can spot the death and resurrection motif in it. Remember the Terminator movies, and in the climax he's almost defeated but finds a way to reinitialize and revive himself?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Project 10 to the 100th

Google has an ideas submission contest called Project 10 to the 100th which calls for ideas that can help mankind. There are no prizes for it. However since idea generation is one of my strengths and I love contests, the following is my idea (which I thought of today. O how deadlines does wonders to our thinking!):

Title: Teleportation... or as close as we can get to it.

A live high resolution display feed of another city is projected live 24 hours a day into 360 viewing room or pods in another city and vice versa. This allows people regardless of economic background to visit another city without flying or travelling there. By allowing a window into another world, different cultures can interact with one another; viewing and talking with people in an actual live environment. For example, a pod placed in Picadilly Circus, London could exchange feeds with Times Square, New York. These pods are open to the public to walk in, stroll, soak in the atmosphere or talk to whoever is on the other side.

With three more more pods, the projected environments could be switched to other locations: Tokyo, Rio, Moscow, Afghanistan, Iraq. Imagine, New Yorkers walking into the pod and be transported to the middle of Red Square and talk to Russians on Monday, and the next day be transported to Baghdad, Iraq. Or pods in Tel Aviv and Riyadh allowing Israelis to talk with Arabs and vice versa. Or inhabitants of Johannesburg to travel to Tianenmen Square, Beijing. These pods could also be used to transport the people to sporting events like the Olympics or New Year's countdown in Times Square.

Technology wise, high tech 360 immersive environment technology is already available or can be cheapened and scaled down to using HD cameras and LCD Panels. The idea is also scalable only needing two cities to agree to pilot the idea and adding more in later. In terms of commercial viability, the pods can be sponsored by telecoms companies or through advertising, or even be booked by companies wishing to use as tele-conference facilities.

Many people over the world are restricted in travelling due to economic or political constraints. Cultural and ideological barriers, gaps and conflicts abound, Arab-Israeli, East and West, 1st World and 3rd World, etc. A lot of these conflicts are due to misunderstandings or skewed perceptions of people of one culture with another; perhaps due to media restrictions, censorship, or just plain ignorance. By having these virtual pods, people from different cultures and diverse geographic locations can view for themselves other countries firsthand. A person can see what Gaza Strip or Times Square looks like. Are the residents really terrorists or children of Satan as demonised? It also allows people to have a nice virtual holiday break. Imagine walking down from your office in San Francisco and having lunch in Paris!

Mankind would benefit through closing the gap of understanding between people of different cultures. The people who would benefit would be people of all sorts of walks and cultures in the cities where the pods are placed. It would especially help the poor who are restricted in their opportunities to travel or pay for telecommunication devices and services.

First steps would be to identify two pilot cities to agree to this experiment, and locations for the pods and to find the right technology that could be used to create this live feed of environments. There is already technology available to create an immersive 360 degree environment but it may be too expensive or specialized and it can be dumbed down to just HD cameras and LCD panels. A steady telecommunications link using high-speed data links would enable the pods to function. The initial set up does not need pods, even walls on the side of a building will be good enough. To prevent noise pollution, hypersonic speakers will allow users to hear the sounds without disturbing other people around.

If the pilot is successful, almost every major city (and even minor city) could have these pods or virtual environments scattered all over the city. It would be considered a cool thing for a city to have these pods, residents clamoring for them as a badge of interconnectedness, just as having a museum is a sign of cultural richness. And just as Wikipedia has created a free encyclopaedia, these pods would be used as a free communications tool for people to talk and interact with others.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

A Jedi without the Force

A Christian who isn't filled with the Holy Spirit is like a Jedi Knight who doesn't use the force.

- Nicodemus Chan.

Accepting Limitations

The thing about reading too many motivational and success books is this, I think. We forget our limitations.

We hear phrases like "unlimited success", "there's nothing I cannot do", "if you put your mind to it, you can do anything". And true enough, there are mental limits that we have put in place that can be overcome, a lot of time it is because we are doubting our abilities, or because we are afraid of what we can do or what the repercussions are.

However, the flipside to motivational and success stories is that our egos can feed on it and control us and not let our soul live.

To quote from "Denial of the Soul":

It is the nature of the ego to cling to power, to chase restlessly the illusion of security, to deny loss, to refuse to accept limitations. Then how does a human being ever empty herself of these things? And why? How and why we do sometimes voluntarily relinquish power, choose to give up treasured illusions, overcome denial, and reach acceptance?

This happens because the ego is sometimes smart. After a while we can grow tired of butting our heads up against a stone wall. We can be clever enough to recognize that our illusions are killing us and that relinquishing them is the path toward healing. We may realize that our ego is getting in our own way and finally come to Buddha's and Jesus' understanding that the ego is its own worst enemy.

At this point, if we ever reach it, we embark upon the journey of kenosis, "the process of emptying itself of self," of purification, of the ego bumping itself off. Some engage in this journey of kenosis only halfheartedly, in fits and starts. That is to be expected. It is something of a miracle that we come to be engaged in it at all. A few eventually take up the journey wholeheartedly and come to see in it the very meaning of their existence.

Friday, October 10, 2008

The Denial of Death

It is interesting to read in this book by M. Scott Peck that he quotes Ernest Becker in his book The Denial of Death ascribing most human evil as the attempt to avoid consciousness of mortality.

I could think of an interesting piece of performance art that can be put on the streets of any city: Take a busy road, say Orchard Road in Singapore, have a bunch of actors dressed in plains clothes, an executive, a student, a middle aged woman, an attractive lady all positioned at different points. Then choose a target. As the target walks along Orchard Road, your actors suddenly become "possessed" and then point to your target, look them in the eye and calmly but firmly say, "You are going to die!" Then they break back into their characters and walk off as if nothing had happened. It would probably scare the living daylights out of someone who gets 5 different people suddenly saying that to him/her. But it could change some lives. It would be nice to videorecord the reactions of people who get targeted.

We don't think of death very much. But Ecclesiastes 7:2 says "It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, for death is the destiny of every man; the living should take this to heart."

And you know, it's true. A lot of people party, they get drunk because they want to avoid facing up to the realities of life.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

God Loves Atheists Better?

rehab477.jpgI found this link to a comic on another blogger Cowboy Caleb, one of the top anonymous bloggers in Singapore.

This comic commits the fallacy of using convenient examples.

If I wanted to compare two different philosophies but paint one in a worse light, I would take the worst example from one and the best example from another.

I could say that Western Freedom of Religion and Democracy is better versus Chinese Communism and Atheist Government. Just look at the melamine milk scandal.

In regards to the comic, some alternative examples I could use are:

Panel 1: A Christian would diet because he has learnt to follow the example of Christ, who sacrificed his own life. So what's so difficult about sacrificing that chocolate doughnut?

Panel 2: I could come up with another example that a true Christian doesn't steal because he loves his neighbour. Whereas an atheist may not steal because he's afraid to get caught. Not because he won't steal. Another atheist may believe that lying is okay. Some atheists that reject God believe that lying is inevitable and live by principles from Machiavelli's The Prince.

Panel 3: And finally, what about the person who lives by the tenet "Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you. If someone slaps you, offer him the other cheek."

Jesus did illustrate in the parable of the Good Samaritan that whoever did good, he was the one loving his neighbour. It didn't matter whether it was the Jew or the Samaritan. You could be a priest and yet ignore your neighbour's needs.

But the unspoken assumption is that entering heaven God comes from doing good. In the end, it becomes a contest of "who has the more moral, and better set of beliefs."

Perhaps in this way, that is why merit from God cannot be earned. So then another person with a better set of beliefs comes in, and this set of beliefs has an even stricter set of moral codes. So who should God favour?

The reason why atheists can't be with God is because they just don't believe he exists. How can you experience love from someone you don't believe exists?

Perhaps, it is like two children arguing in the field in daytime over who is the better child and which one their dad prefers. When dinner time comes, the one who is naughty and rebellious still comes home for dinner, while the one who is "better" refuses and remains in the field to be prey to the night.

Do good because of who we are, children of God, made in His image; but don't think that doing good earns us the right to be with God. We go to God because he is our father. An unearned right.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Arsene Wenger's Motivational Handout

The full text of Arsène Wenger's motivational handout:

The team:

A team is as strong as the relationships within it.

The driving force of a team is its member's (sic) ability to create and maintain excellent relationships within the team that can add an extra dimension and robustness to the team dynamic.

This attitude can be used by our team to focus on the gratitude and the vitally important benefits that the team brings to our own lives. It can be used to strengthen and deepen the relationships with it and maximise the opportunities that await a strong and united team.

Our team becomes stronger by:

Displaying a positive attitude on and off the pitch

Everyone making the right decisions for the team

Have an unshakeable belief that we can achieve our target

Believe in the strength of the team

Always want more - always give more

Focus on our communication

Be demanding with yourself

Be fresh and prepared to win

Focus on being mentally stronger and always keep going until the end

When we play away from home, believe in our identity and play the football we love to play at home

Stick together

Stay grounded and humble as a player and as a person

Show the desire to win in all that you do

Enjoy and contribute to all that is special about being in a team - don't take it for granted

Monday, September 29, 2008

Free View of the Singapore F1 Grand Prix

Seeing that the Singapore F1 Grand Prix is in town, the first ever night race, I decided to stop over and soak in the atmosphere. I walked towards Suntec City Mall and passed by the barrier fencing just to hear the roar of the race cars.

I didn't expect to, but I found a free spot to view the action and decided to stay for a few laps of the action.
singapore f1 suntec city mall view.jpg

There were of course lots of people trying to find a vantage point to view for free. Here are some people using City Hall MRT entrance right next to Suntec City mall.
singapore f1 free spot city hall mrt entrance.jpg

And if you can't find a spot, there's always the popular and crowded Balaclava bar right at the entrance to the mall. They set up LCD screens for thirsty drinkers to catch the action.
singapore f1 balaclava suntec city.jpg

singapore f1 free spot.jpgThis is a diagram of where you can get a free view of the Singapore F1 grand prix. It's actually right at the corner of Pan Pacific hotel next to Raffles Boulevard. Notice at the top of the connector between the hotel and Marina Square? That's a tennis court. That provides really great views on both sides, front and back but the court was made off limits on race day. Later on when the race started I did notice people in the court watching.

Another free spot in which you can view for free is the stairwell at the Marina Mandarin hotel.singapore f1 free spot 2.jpg

Here's the view from the corner. Notice that there are blinds to prevent people from viewing the race at street level from the Marina Mandarin hotel. It stretched all the way up and down the street including the spot from Carl's Jr which was free yesterday.
singapore f1 blinds up.jpg

However, soon after the race started, the crowd tore it down and the race stewards allowed it to remain down.
singapore f1 blinds down.jpg

After watching about 5 laps of the action I decided to cross over and have a look from the other side of the fence (was the grass greener?) as well as to go home and watch the action. Watching racing events is actually boring. You don't really know what's happening unless you have with you a portable TV with live feed and commentary of what's happening.

The following is the view from Carl's Jr.
singapore f1 free spot carls jr.jpg

And this is from Marina Mandarin hotel:
singapore f1 free spot marina mandarin.jpg

This is a video of the action from my vantage point of the second lap. Looks pretty exciting huh?

Thursday, September 25, 2008


The only difference between you and I are our memories and one more important factor: which is how we interpret them.

Any number of bad or good experiences can come into our lives and influence them. But what becomes of us when it happens to us?

I cannot judge any person because, there are times that I've thought myself as a nice person but instances at times have proved that I am very much a flawed person.

So when I read about a friend stabbing his wife, who knows? There but for the grace of God go I.

Memories are also the reason why adults have a harder time, I think, learning something new, like computers, because a voice in their head has been programmed to scold them if they make a mistake, stunting them from trying new things with free abandon.

A child takes to a computer because there's no memory to scold them, no fear of failure, of being reprimanded for making a mistake or punishment.

Someone asked me, in an interview, how do I deal with difficult people. I replied something off my head from the book I was reading, "Becoming a person" that we should accept them and by accepting them it makes it easier to change them for them to change.

Thinking about it, I realize that I hardly use the term "difficult people". There's only problems. Because to the boss, his employees are difficult, but to the employees, the boss is the one being unreasonable.

And what is the difference between me and "difficult people"? Only our memories, our experience and our perspective. So in order to solve problems communication in understanding others is important. Remember Stephen R. Covey's 5th habit, "Seek first to understand and then to be understood."

It's very interesting, because this is where theology and psychology overlap. Who am I before God? My talents are not mine, they are gifts. If I were to be born in another continent, country, town or even household, I may have turned out different. Who are we to judge our fellow man?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Sacrifice is Gain

The meaning of sacrifice is to "make holy". But it doesn't mean the disregard of loss. It is a meaningful, determined act of the will.

Sacrifice is the giving up of something of value on one plane of existence for something better on another plane, even the spiritual.

Sacrifice means exchanging something of value on earth, money, promotions, sex, houses ,etc, for integrity, for love, truth, true beauty, virtue.

Sacrifice doesn't mean giving up of something for nothing. It is still an exchange of net gain. To not gain something is foolishness. But not of gain in the eyes of the world but in the eyes of a higher and greater power and being.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Living Life

One thing that I've been learning over the past few days is that life is about becoming not just doing.

We do things because of who we are, because of our identity.

But our identity isn't static. Each action, thought and word we say moves us towards becoming the person we were designed to be.

Stress comes from the difference between our ideal self and our actual self. When there is a difference between it.

There is a problem when society, the external forces wants to move us towards a direction that isn't our who we are. There is this ideal image that society creates that we are pressured to strive for that is different from what we are. This incongruity, this tension between who we really are and who we are "supposed" to be creates stress.

To counter this, we acknowledge truth, live in the present being totally aware of what is happening and making choices according to the best wisdom that we have, tapping the rational Adult ego that we have inside.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Seeing 5 Years Ahead

Sometimes I wonder why do people ask this perennial question during job interviews, "What do you see yourself doing in 5 years time?"

If someone were to ask that to all the CEO's and company presidents that I've worked for in my life, their answers would probably be wrong. Almost all of them have closed down, downsized, restrategized, or refocused their direction.

Nobody really knows in 5 years where they will be or what they will be doing. The best that anyone can come up with a plan for is 2 years.

So what can we do about it? The only thing is about being a better person and doing the best that we can do each moment.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Nokia Music Store: Fail

I've just recently renewed my mobile phone subscription plan and get a Nokia N78.

It came along with free $20 of downloads from their online music store for you to get started on.

"Hey, great" I thought to myself, I'll get to download music legally and find the tracks I want. iTunes and Amazon only allow downloads in the USA.

Now that's about as great as my experience felt.

First, their music store only allows IE users. Nope, not Firefox users, or Google Chrome. Only Internet Explorer.

Fine, I choose a track, "Way Back Into Love" from the movie "Music & Lyrics" and whadya you know. That single isn't downloadable. You have to download the entire album. (Even worse, I couldn't find the track the first few searches. It returned nothing.)

Okay, how about something else. I tried "Mandy" by Barry Manilow. An oldie should be easier. Then I try downloading it, and then... IE crashes on Vista. Okay, so it's probably a problem with Vista. Fortunately my credit balance is still intact.

I can't download the track without installing a one-time plugin. But it's about 7-8Mb. (I can't remember). Fortunately, I have broadband.

After downloading, it's stored in my music folder. But... my default player, Windows Media Player can't play it! It needs a license.

You can however play it within Internet Explorer plugin. The plugin then downloads the license and I can play it now. And my windows media player can play it as well now.

How about transferring to my mobile? Dragging the file to my mobile fails as it says that my rights are restricted. Oooookay. I start up Nokia Music Manager to transfer the file.

But the Nokia Music Manager has a really crummy interface. I set it to search my hard disk for songs. I've got like 3300+ tracks. Now to look for Barry Manilow. There's no autosearch function! I've got to scroll through my list to find the tracks I want. Yes, my entire 3000+ tracks.

I transfer it to my mobile successfully, but then... my mobile refuses to play it without a valid license. It then starts my mobile browser to have me log in to music store and acquire the license. The webpage first says that I have to pay to acquire the license again. But it's misleading, because the webpage hasn't finished downloading yet. If I was impatient, I would have closed the browser. Moments later, the login form appears, I log in and the license is acquired.

In summary, I understand the reason for acquiring the license because music companies need to prevent piracy. But the number of steps required just puts me off. Downloading doesn't acquire the license yet. It has to be acquired on each device it's transferred to. Transferring files isn't drag and drop, it needs Nokia's Music Manager which isn't very easy to manage when you have thousands of tracks on your hard disk.
Acquiring license on your mobile also requires a data connection. If your data plan doesn't have some free traffic or your mobile doesn't have WLAN you'll be charged

All that hassle for a $2 track? I would have preferred $1.50. At $2 I am slightly more tempted to use filesharing or just buying the CD and ripping it. In the USA it's 0.99 per track. That's about $1.45 converted to SGD.

Games People Play

In transactional analysis, I realize that a lot of times people are reliving their programmed scripts in their lives all over again.

It's kinda like Groundhog day but their lives are repeated day in and day out, going through the same old grind.

Without knowing it, people are just following an accepted script that they believe rules their lives. "I'm a loser", "I'll never win", "People can't be trusted", "People are stupid", "The only way to win in life is to watch out for number one", "White people are against the black."

In a dreamlike state, they seldom question the reason why they are doing the things that they are doing and the same patterns are repeated each day.

The same series of behaviour repeats itself between parent and child, or husband and wife, abuser and abusee or seducer and seducee. It almost seems as if these people are programmed to seek out other people who are willing to play the game with them.

In a way, it sort of confirms that people are playing a role, they aren't being themselves. Like a giant drama played out on the world stage, they live unexamined lives, with that nagging feeling that life is something bigger. Wearing a mask, a persona that they show to their colleagues, their spouses, their family; human society is one where one rarely sees the the true faces behind the facades that they wear. People are afraid to show their faces until they have almost forgotten what they look like.

When will we ever have faces to show? When will our masks come off?

Companies don't look for a person, they also look for someone who fits a role; an actor who can play a part in their production. So it isn't just his qualifications that matter, it's also his look, his demeanour. "Does he look like he can play the part?", they ask in their hearts. In Japanese companies, you are expected to stay late. That is the role that you are expected to play. Never mind if you spend the day goofing off, as long as you stay late. Non-conformists are penalized because they are not playing the role implicitly assigned to them.

The theme of the Matrix movies is that a majority people are living their lives in an artificial world, never questioning, never wondering what and why they are doing in this world.

Are we caught in a daze? A groundhog day? A computer simulation? A dreary existence? Are we able to unplug ourselves from the Matrix? To stop the cycle of Groundhog days? To tear off the masks that we wear and to live truly real and authentic lives devoid of game playing?

Monday, September 08, 2008

Conflict Resolution, DHL Service Level

My pastor today remarked that conflict should be resolved as soon as possible, even if you are in the midst of worship, before the sun goes down.

That struck me. How often do we actually resolve conflict as soon as possible?

Usually any offenses we endure or inflict are kept, held in the hearts only to be unleashed on the proper day. In transactional analysis, experts call this Stamp Collecting. Much like coffee house patrons can sometimes keep cards on which a stamp is given for every cup of coffee drunk and then redeemed when enough stamps are collected.

They call this collecting red stamps.

Instead of collecting stamps, conflicts should be resolved by the end of the working day. However, it is much more crucial to resolve these things that almost any important activity should be dropped. This reminds me of a famous actor who played the lead role in Phantom of the Opera. His door was always open and he always told anyone who he had a conflict with to see him in his dressing room to resolve things immediately.

However, the worldly culture is to let things go. It may even be glossed over spiritually like, using "forgiveness" and the like. But then these things bite back. Hurts are remembered even 20 years ago. "Remember back in 1957 you did..." In the corporate environment, a passive boss may bite back at his subordinates during his yearly evaluation.

Conflict should be resolved, same day. Just like DHL promises same day delivery.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Ask, Seek and Knock

The more I experience life, the more I realize that if we want anything in life we must go after it.

This principle encompasses both the material as well as the spiritual world. Whether it is for food, a job, sales, a wife, love or the kingdom of God, we must seek after it. Almost anyone that we are looking for must be sought after earnestly, it must be chased, it must be pursued.

But as I write these words I'm also reminded the words of Matthew 6:33 to seek FIRST his Kingdom. That the first priority (but not the exclusive one) is His Kingdom. Then all the things like houses, property, money, riches, happiness will come about. All side effects of seeking God.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

The Perfect Someone

If we were to marry someone who is perfect, then that person could never grow because he/she is perfect.

So really, there isn't someone who is perfect at anytime. Just as all things grow. Each one of us must grow.

And as husband and wife, we help each one to grow towards the fullness of Christ, to become more loving, kinder, stronger, faithful, hopeful.

What I think is more important is the direction in which the person we marry is headed. Stagnancy is out of the question. The other is in which way is he growing? In love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, gentleness, kindness, faithfulness and self-control. Or is towards greed, the love of money, ruthlessness, anger, vanity, pride, slander, gossip, falsehood or more? Yes, we may exhibit some of the bad things, but the question is... are we growing out of it?

That is the question for marriage. It is the direction each person is growing towards that is just as important as what he/she is now.

Friday, August 29, 2008

On Becoming A Person: This is Me

A friend lent me this book by Carl Rogers, and after reading a few chapters, I find that the book can be life-changing.

I can say that the first chapter "This is Me" was very simple, the one thing that I got out from it was really "Be yourself". But it's more than just a trite expression. It's the explanation that intrigued and fascinated me.

The following is a summary of the learnings in the essay entitled "This is Me". Some of the sentences are condensed versions and some of them are in my own words.

In my relationships with persons I have found that it does not help, in the long run, to act as though I were something that I am not. Trying to maintain a facade isn't helpful. Being sad when you are happy. Being loving when you are hostile. Being well when you are ill.

I find I am more effective when I can listen acceptantly to myself, and can be myself. Realize when you are angry, when you are rejecting. It becomes easier for me to accept myself as a decidedly imperfect person, who by no means functions at all times in the way in which I would like to function. When I accept myself as I am, then I change. Another result is also that relationships also become real, vital and meaningful.

I have found it of enormous value when I can permit myself to understand another person. The word "permit" is pivotal because we risk changing ourselves when we truly understand someone else. That's why it's easier to judge than to understand. Permitting yourself to understand permits the other to accept their own fears and bizarre thoughts.

I have found it enriching to open channels whereby others can communicate their feelings, their private perceptual worlds, to me. By reducing the barriers, communication and understanding increases, which is highly rewarding.

I have found it highly rewarding when I can accept another person. Can I accept his anger, his hostility as a real and legitimate part of himself? Can I accept that he feels and thinks differently from me? Each person is an island unto himself; and he can only build bridges to other islands if he is first of all willing to be himself and permitted to be himself.

The more I am open to the realities in me and in the other person, the less do I find myself wishing to rush in to "fix things." It is a paradox, the more each one of us is willing to be himself, then he finds not only himself changing; but he finds that other people to whom he relates are also changing.

On Actions and Values:

I can trust my experience. Trust in yourself. Your total organismic sensing of a situation is more trustworthy than your intellect. (Nico: In other words, "use the force, Luke")

Evaluation by others is not a guide for me. At times you will be called a fraud and other times a genius. Only one person knows whether you are false or true, and that is you. Praise and criticism is evidence brought before you. But the person who weighs it is you.

Experience is, for me, the highest authority. It isn't infallible, but it is the basis of authority in which to check and is open to correction.

I enjoy the discovering of order in experience. It is used to make sense of what's happening, to satisfy a need for meaning inside.

The facts are friendly. Feedback can be painful, but it is essential to learning.

What is most personal is general. What personal experience you think happens sometimes surprises you to be common with everyone.

It has been my experience that persons have a basically positive direction. Most people do. It is not to deny the fact that there are monsters in society who are cruel, and hurtful, but underneath in the deepest levels there is something that struggles towards the light.

Life, at its best, is a flowing, changing process in which nothing is fixed. Let the flow of experience carry you, in a direction that seems forward, but towards goals which we are only dimly aware. Life is a process of becoming.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Use of Words

I am not a philologist or linguist, but I believe that our words and vocabulary do shape our attitudes and behaviour.

Fro example, in society, when words like negro and gentile are not used in everyday speech, perhaps that is a sign of progress of racial integration.

As long as words like kafir, and murtad are used to describe other people, we will not be able to see each other as fellow human beings but as "us" and "them".

In personal use, instead of using terms like "Christian", "Muslim" or "Buddhist", perhaps we should use phrases like "Seeker of Truth", "Follower of the Way", "Lover of God". It actually makes a difference! I actually said those phrases out loud, and there was a difference in my attitude, my reaction, my spinal cord, my posture.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Tech Break: Realistic Mo-Cap

This is one of the most amazing demos of the future of motion capture (mocap). The above video is of a computer simulation. It is not a real person!

Instead of sticking tiny reflective stickers on a persons face, a simple video capture is used and then analyzed.

The movements are then mapped onto your computer simulated model.

Reminds me of the movie S1m0ne that starred Al Pacino. But even darker, we can think of Wag the Dog and Johnny Mnemonic where computer simulations are used to trick people.

This technology created by Image Metrics.

The technology will not replace actors entirely, but more likely good-looking bad actors. You still need a good actor who can emote with facial expression well, but he needn't be just the right face.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Nuggets Food of Champions

This is what Usain Bolt ate before winning his 100m race in world record time: Chicken McNuggets.

Dangers of Singapore Winning Gold

Today, the Singapore women's team will be competing against China for the team table tennis gold medal at the Beijing Olympics.

The only question on my mind is will Singapore be beaten 3-0 or 3-1? (To stretch the event to 5 matches is unthinkable).

Punditry aside, it's actually more dangerous for Singapore to beat China.

Why? Because Singapore is like (as others have said) China's B team. All the team members were recruited from China. 1999, 2007 and 2008 being the years they became Singapore citizens.

If Singapore do win, Singapore will have lost the talent pool on which to draw from more talent. China will surely shut the door on Singapore. "We made a mistake. We shouldn't have let them poach any of our table tennis players. We won't make the same mistake again."

It's just my opinion.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Believing in God is a serious thing

I wrote a few days ago that either God doesn't love us or he does love us. Not just love us a little, 50%, 99% but 100%.

I also realize now that:
  • Believing in God is a serious thing.
  • Believing in a God who is interested in us is even more serious.
  • Believing in a God who is interested in us and loves us that he would be willing to do anything, even die for us is totally awesome.
If we believe in a God who is interested even in the most minute thing that we do, think or say, then it stands to reason that I must be very careful at every moment what I do say or think. From the very moment that I wake up and every decision that I make, this sentient being, this presence is quite aware of what I am doing, how I am doing it, my motives and the attitudes behind it.

In a way, it is just like the Heisenberg uncertainty theorem. Because I believe that there is an observer, what is observed is affected.

But the thing is, God is more than just a passive observer, he is also an active participant in my life. At times yes, he may seem silent, but he is always there. And if we believe that he is truly interested in us, and loving us, we can ask him for anything that we want.

With such knowledge, therefore, it stands to reason that we are truly more than conquerors, that there is nothing that we cannot overcome in life.

Therefore believing in an almighty and loving God must change our lives. It is the only logical consequence. So do we really, really, really, really believe in God?

Because if I do, I can't stand around anymore wasting my life. I can't get away with a careless remark, or an unloving gesture and hope that He is pleased. (Yes, he still loves me, but I'm quite sure he isn't pleased). It also means that I can walk around with confidence and my head held high, because I am his child. That I am not a loser. That I am free, that the whole world is mine because of His love.

Believing and experiencing are two different things. Like Carl Rogers wrote, It's quite alright to teach a child that two and two is four. But it is a different matter altogether for the child when he experiences with blocks that two and two really is four.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Another Way To Protest Surreptitiously

Activist tries to show Tibetan flag at Olympic venue

Unfortunately for this lady, she was caught. (And you can see the guard even managed to molest her as well.)

I suggest another way of doing it, where you can feign ignorance.

Get 9 friends each to wear the following T-Shirts:

(You can buy these t-shirts here:

When you have the opportune time, arrange yourself in the proper order when the television cameras are on you.

If the police catch you, just rearrange your seating and ask "What's the problem officer?"

Heck, you can even have fun creating anagrams:

Bee Fitter.
Bitter Fee.
Be Tit Free.
Bet It Free.
Feet Biter.
Tie Bereft.
Feet Tribe.

View from Starbucks for NDP 2008

Am sitting at Starbucks Marina Square with (hopefully) a glimpse of the fireworks for Singapore's National Day Parade.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Malaysian Olympic Observation

It's an interesting observation that out of the 33 Malaysian athletes going to the Beijing Olympics, 23 out of the 33 are Chinese. That's 66%. (Even though 26% of the population of Malaysia are Chinese).

At least meritocracy is alive in the arena of sports in Malaysia. Imagine if they had quotas on the racial composition of the Olympic contingent.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

The Only Difference...

Imagine that we were all given the powers of gods. Imagine that we had the power to have anything that we ever wanted, all our needs were taken care of, our hunger, our sexual needs, our housing, our pleasure, everything.

What else would there be to do?

But just having the power of a god doesn't make us any more divine. What is the difference between Superman and Darkseid (or insert your favourite super-villain here).

It isn't the powers.

Superman isn't superman just because of his powers. He's superman because of what he stands for and what he does.

If we did have the power of gods and everyone around us had the same powers, there would be nothing left to do. We would have all the knowledge, all the power, but then we would live in our own worlds, we could create our own fantasies to live in, locking ourselves from others. Nobody could harm us. And we could never harm anyone else.

That's why love is the thing that remains. Love breaks us from our own world. Love gets us in touch with another sentient being.

So therefore, the only thing that makes me different at each moment is whether I do it in love. Love allows us to take part in the divine nature. If we were all gods, how then could we show love to one another? Perhaps then the gift of humanity is it's incompleteness. That we all have needs. Once we meet someone else with needs, we can show our love for them, and they for us in our own needs.

If there were no needs in our life, no one could show us love. And if there were no needs in others, we would have no one else to show love to.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

It's All or Nothing

I've always known that it's either all or nothing for God. We give him everything in our lives to him or not. We can't hand over 99% of our lives to him and keep 1% of our lives for our own pleasure.

But a revelation just struck me.

God is interested in 100% of our lives too.

He isn't just interested in whether we pray or give tithes and offerings or in singing hymns or songs or being theologically right or whether we have been evangelising.

We assume then that God is only interested in the spiritual part of our lives.

God is interested in 100% of our lives. Unlike other mortals, He can give us 100% attention 100% of the time.

He's interested in our physical lives, whether we eat, sleep, and have a good sex life.

He's interested in our work, our hobbies, our enjoyment.

He's interested in everything we do too. Whether brushing our teeth, or putting on our shoe, or taking the lift, or riding the escalator. Even the most insignificant moments of our lives that we think are unimportant to him he is giving us 100% attention. He actually enjoys it when we are playing games on our Xbox 360 too! When we crack a joke, whether it is to an audience of one or even no-one when we do it only in our minds or in the mirror, he's laughing at it too! And he enjoys the joke! When we sing in the shower, he's enjoying our singing too. When we sweep the floor, or clear the dishes, he appreciates it.

This idea bears more thinking...

He's there when we choose between the red or the blue shirt. (Whether it has any eternal consequences, that's entirely another matter, and you know, perhaps it does, that red shirt may save your life.) But right at that moment in time, that point in eternity if there is nothing else that matters, then he is interested in our choice. We can actually ask Him, if we are troubled, whether He would prefer the red or the blue and whether we look fat in it.

God is interested when we gain 2 kilograms of weight.

He's even there when we clean our belly button lint.

Because there cannot be any other alternative. God cannot be interested in 80%, or 99% of our lives. Either God is not interested at all or God is interested in 100% of our lives.

God isn't just interested in whether we work hard and respect our boss. He's also interested in whether our boss respects us and deals fairly with us. (The reason why a lot of teaching focuses on our attitudes and what we do, is because our locus of control is only us, not the other person, but God is concerned just as much about the other person and he can do something about it.)

God isn't just interested in whether we respect our parents, he's also interested in whether our parents love us and respect us too.

God isn't just interested in whether we love others, but also in whether other people love us as well.

When I get shafted by others, he's interested in me and my reaction as well as the people doing the shafting.

When I win, he's celebrating with me as well as being sympathising for the losers. And when I lose, he's also supporting me and celebrating with the winner.

In a race, he wants everyone of us to race to win. Life isn't a zero sum game for God.

It's a mystery at work. I've been thinking about God's silence during suffering that we don't understand. But if we write it off that "God is interested in more important things". Then taken to the extreme, we become deists. If we say to ourselves, "God has better things to do than to bother with me", we start to believe then that God created the world then forgot about it. Why? Because the world, no, the universe is so insignificant when compared to God. Surely God has better things to do than to bother with the universe.

(Of course, the other extreme is when we are narcissistic and believe that God is only interested in us.)

God is interested in us 100% of the time, 100% of our lives. (The problem is we don't know how or in which way at times. But I know that he accepts us, warts and all.)

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Some Things Can Be Delayed Some Not

Some things can be delayed, sweeping and mopping the floor can be delayed. Because if you decrease the frequency of some chores, the amount of work is still the same. If I don't make up my bed today, it's still the same amount of work tomorrow. So decreasing the frequency actually lessens the amount of work.

However some things cannot be delayed. Not doing your accounts, not doing your homework. Delaying some things only causes it to pile up. As compared to sweeping and mopping the floor or making your bed, doing the dishes is a chore that cannot be delayed. The faster it is done, the less of a burden it becomes, not just physically but also mentally. Having too many things on your to-do list burdens your thoughts with things like "I must do this, do that", leaving you with less peace.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Pile of Receipts

Doing accounts is really a pain, but I've realized that we have to do our accounts to keep track of our financial status. Doing so helps us to view our spending habits, and as well to budget our finances to achieve our goals.

It's easy to at least keep your receipts each day and spend 15 minutes updating your financial software like Microsoft Money or Quicken than to wait for a week or longer.

Trying to enter it all in once a month is just too much. Even after 3 days, we can tend to forget what sort of things we paid for, a burger here, a snack there. If we don't get a receipt, quickly jot it down on the back of another receipt or of a scrap of paper.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Xiaxue versus Dawn Yang

There is a currently a feud in the Singapore blogosphere between the two biggest bloggers.

Wendy Cheng a.k.a. Xiaxue ( versus Dawn Yang (

Without taking sides, my observation is that the problem of being a blogger or more generally a public figure, whether on TV or the Internet is that you can be trapped into the persona that you have created.

Xiaxue is trapped in the persona of the bitchy, critical, angsty and immature teen/twenty something person that she is. That's what readers of her blog go there to read. People don't go to her blog to read about musings on the purpose of life and how to make the world a better place.

You can argue that she isn't trapped but she is merely just being herself. That what you read is her. But blogs being blogs, they are also what we want to project to the public, the image we create for ourselves, whether it is of a happy go lucky person or the manic depressive.

Being a blogger means we are revealing our thoughts and feelings towards the world. and we take a risk when we do that. Blogging gives us the opportunity to voice ourselves in this manic world, to express ourselves. But what happens when we write something that is immature or foolish or just plain wrong?

I think that there are some things that we should keep to ourselves. Even God keeps secrets from us. There's no need to tell everyone how we feel about someone else. Bitching about someone online reflects more on the character of the bitcher than the bitchee.

We often don't realize that in cyberspace our thoughts and views are there for the whole world to see including potential employers, business partners, friends and family.

There are some posts here on my blog that when I think of it reflects something of me 3-4 years ago that was different. And I thought of removing those posts.

However, for me, I'll leave them there for now. Because I want to use my blog more of a record of how I have changed through the years. I want my blog to have the theme of self-development, that we all undergo change, that when we look back at our entries we will see how we have matured, how some of our goals and feelings and thoughts were immature. Yet also there is treasure in reading back some of our decisions and insights that have changed the course of our lives. I am both ashamed, embarassed and amazed reading some of my personal journal entries.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Proverbs 26:4 and 26:5 Apparent Contradictions

Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you will be like him yourself. (Prov 26:4) and right after that: Answer a fool according to his folly, or he will be wise in his own eyes. (Prov 26:5)

It seems at first glance that the Bible is contradictory in this sense. 2 verses contradicting each other, and one following the other.

One easy way to explain it is to use 2 common English sayings:

Look before you leap and He who hesitates is lost.

Both are contradictory, yet we know they are true. It's the wisdom to know the difference that is important.

The writer of Proverbs knew exactly what he was doing by putting those verses next to one another. He knew that life had paradoxes and was using these two sayings to illustrate the point. Both sayings are right. It's the circumstances that dictate how to apply it. The meta meaning is that "somehow, you'll still lose when talking to a fool". It's something like a Catch-22 situation.

Do a search for paradox in my blog, and you will find many examples that I have observed. It's because life isn't one dimensional.

So then, is the best way to "win" an argument with a fool is to try to avoid one much as possible?

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Effect of Past Events on Future

If I flip a fair coin 5 times, and 5 times in a row it comes out heads, what are the odds of it coming out heads again?

The answer is 1/2. Past events do not affect the probability at all.

In the same way, what happens in our past doesn't dictate our future. If we have failed over and over again, it doesn't mean we are doomed to failure.

We have just as much opportunity to succeed each day as any other man. It's just the choice we make and what we define as success and failure.

All we have to do, is know that each day our success is to do what we have to do each day. That's all.

For an alcoholic, it's getting through the day sober. For some of us, it's just managing our time. For another, it's negotiating a business deal. For some, just living is a struggle. For a grumpy person, saying words of encouragement is an achievement.

Let's live each day working towards our own individual success each day. Let us pray that God will give us each day our daily bread.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Ms. Universe 2008

Ms Universe is on right now, and I'm watching it while blogging live.

I've been watching beauty pageants probably since I was, oh, 3 years old. It used to be a favourite program to watch on TV with my family, commenting on the contestants, especially deriding our own home contestants from Malaysia. (Why are contestants from Malaysia or Singapore not really that pretty?!)

Last year's Ms. Universe was a good one for Asian contestants. Two Asians were in the final five with my favourite Ms. Korea missing out because of her interview answer. Japan's Riyo Mori flew the flag for Asian contestants by winning it.

The program has just started with the final 15 announced. I doubt that the winner will be an Asian this year. There are two, Ms. Vietnam (most probably due to host nation favouritism), and Ms. Korea (they misannounced the country!) Ms. Japan making it. None of them are really dazzling. So my bet is that the winner will be a Latina, Ms. Colombia by first glances.


Ms. Venezuela: Looks good, very composed, right balance of confidence and femininity.
Ms. Kosovo: Her hair looks like big bun. what's this the 80's?
Ms. Mexico: Very confident, good eye contact.
Ms. Vietnam: I detect slight nervousness in front of the home crowd.
Ms. South Africa: Too aggressive.
Ms. Australia: Flirty catwalk, but a bit too thin. I can see her ribs.
Ms. Japan: Her hair style doesn't suit her. May be 1-2 pounds too heavy.
Ms. Dominican Republic: A bit too flirty.
Ms. Italy: Fine, but no X factor.
Ms. Colombia: Well composed.
Ms. Russia: Teeth are too big.
Ms. Hungary: Looks like a taller version of Hayden Panettiere.
Ms. Czech Republic: Could be in the top 10.
Ms. USA: Definitely a Top 10. I think she could be a Top 5.
Ms. Spain: Looks like a man in disguise.

So far, so good. Looking at the contestants, I think Venezuela, Dominican Republic and Colombia, Mexico will make it to the final five.

Top 10: Kosovo, Australia, Spain, Mexico, Colombia, USA, Dominican Republic, Russia, Italy, Venezuela.

I'm right so far, looking at it, I think Ms. Venezuela is far better. So she's my favourite right now. But everything depends on the interview question for the final 5. It's the sudden death round of beauty pageants. Ms. Mexico also seems good for the title.

Evening Gown.
Kosovo: Again, her humungous hair style detracts from the rest of her face or body. Her gown looks like a giant clam shell over her chest.
Australia: Pretty, but not striking. Could look like any girl you find walking on the street.
Spain: She gives a much more softer look, and less of a man this time. Better but not great.
Mexico: A very daring evening gown with a flesh coloured see through upper part. also very good.
Colombia: Very confident again, acknowledging the crowd with a a slight nod and eye contact.
USA: Oh $#!&. Not again! This year's Ms. USA slipped again! Jerry had to call her name twice and when she came out she slipped. She tried to save it by giving a clap getting up. But that's it. She's out. An 8.0xx score.
Dominican Republic: A slow walk, trying hard to look alluring but failing. And what is her dress? Looks like some floor mosaic.
Russia: Looks too airy in her gown.
Italy: Nothing much to shout about.
Venezuela: Very confident, but may be too relaxed twirling her skirt around. This a beauty pageant, not your debutante ball.

Ms USA is putting on a very brave front, I can't see a hint of her breaking down, but inside it must be oh so painful. She knows she's blown it.

And now the side prizes:
Ms. Congeniality: El Salvador. (World Peace! Comes to mind... :)
Best Costume: Thailand. (Her Muay Thai costume makes me wonder if she's a lady-boy instead, reminds me of the movie "Beautiful Boxer")

Top 5: Venezuela, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Mexico, Russia.

Am I right or am I right? 4 Latinas and I was correct in my picks.

Colombia: Judge 4, Jennifer Hawkins: If you could go back in time, if you could change a moment in your past what would it be? In my life... it's been a wonderful life for me, there's nothing I could ever change, ... everything perfect. (She was caught off guard with this question and her reply seemed guarded and ungenuine. Who has a perfect childhood?)

Venezuela: Judge 7: Do you have it that men or women have it easy in life? And why? Men go straight. Women go in curves. (Trying to be witty, but the joke didn't seem to be pulled off)

Dom. Republic: Donald Trump Jr. Didn't catch the question. Her answer had something to do with sacrifices and her mother. Seems to be banking on sympathy for her single parent childhood.

Mexico: When is a woman truly satisfied? A woman can be satisfied when there is a balance between work, family and community.

Russia: Judge 6: Is there still discrimination against women and what can be done about it? Women have become smarter and stronger, a woman can have a successful career and have children. In our time, women can be stronger.

Ms Russia seemed to have the best answer for the question. Sad to say, I don't seem to like her. Maybe Mexico could do it or the Dominican Republic, but I'm not sure whether the answer was relevant to the question.

Finally, the winners:
4th Runner Up: Mexico (shucks!)
3rd Runner Up: Russia
2nd Runner Up: Dominican Republic.
1st Runner Up: Colombia

Congratulations to Venezuela... another winner from the land where beauty pageants are an industry.... Not really my first choice, her interview answer didn't pull it off for me... oh well.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Murder vs Unforgiveness

Today, I am reminded of this quote (paraphrased):

Murder may be be a lesser sin than unforgiveness; because the former may have been done in a moment of heated passion but the latter brewed long and intentionally in our hearts.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Each Moment Ask Yourself...

At each moment, ask yourself, what do I want to do? And how fast can I do it? Don't do random. Be like Jason Bourne, always have a purpose and intention.

Pay attention to your surroundings, what's happening, make everything a game. Even brushing your teeth. How fast can I brush it? How many minutes did I use to wash up today? It seems ridiculous, but that is the first step towards an autotelic self.

Weight Chart

My weight chart.

The above is my weight chart. I will be updating this chart from time to time to view my weight loss progress.

Note to self: Update the Javascript links once the library has been upgraded from beta status.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008


The movie Hancock has an interesting concept of a down and out loser superhero who does his job but is unappreciated by the public and authorities.

It isn't so much an action movie, nor a comedy but tries to be more of a dramatic movie. It tries to pack so much within such a small time (barely 1 1/2 hours) that there is hardly time for many jokes. (You can count them on one hand.)

If you don't know, the movie had to go through additional shooting due to concerns about certain scenes. Therefore the story didn't seem to gel together and it comes out like a patchwork of many things combined together.

I still feel that the concept is good enough for a sequel, but hopefully they will fine tune the direction and editing.

My verdict: 3 stars out of 5 (I expected better from Will Smith after his performance in I Am Legend)

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Let Your Talent Shine!

It just happened today that I realized that we do a disservice to God if we don't use our talents. We may think of our talents as "useless", "just a hobby", "it'll never go anywhere".

After seeing a trailer of the latest Disney film, I then searched for a song from Wall-E, At Last by Etta James.

Coincidentally, it led me to the following clip:

Just listen to the judges' first impressions.

Terry Fator below was a ventriloquist who at one point performed in a 1000 seat theatre for an audience of one!

Talk about discouragement.

Below is another clip that I guarantee will blow you away from his participation in "America's Got Talent".

There's one thing to take from this real life story. If you have talent and know it. Don't give up. Let your light shine!

Read his wikipedia entry to find out whether he won.